We hate politicians because they treat us with contempt
21 Feb, 2013
Telling people you work in politics is like bringing a trifle made of dogs**t to the party. Occasionally I would lie and admit to a more socially acceptable job, like managing child slaves in a coal mine or being an aspiring free verse performer.
By most accounts, our antipathy towards politicians and political institutions is getting worse. The 2010 federal election saw more than 5.5 per cent of votes recorded as informal, the highest rate since 1984. Recent by-elections in Melbourne and Sydney saw record lows of only two thirds of the electorate preferring to cast a vote rather than cop a fine.
Politics is no longer an appropriate topic for conversation at the dinner table, the office or even in line at the ballot box. In quizzing the Prime Minister at the National Press Club a few weeks ago, Paul Bongiorno tried to get to the bottom of this growing malcontent of the masses; why Australians hold our political processes in “some sort of contempt”.
And what sort of contempt would that be, exactly? The kind of contempt, as the Prime Minister tried to explain, whereby the general public disdain Tony Abbott but still love the Labor Party? Nice try.
There are a few theories around as to our growing lack of faith in politics, one idea being that the toxicity of parliamentary debate has become a nation-wide turn-off. Another theory blames the media for picking up on only the most sensational and salacious aspects of politics, and refusing to report on serious policy (supposing there’s any around). Damn the press gallery! Hang the journos! This is a common cry as we rush eagerly to the most-read articles of news sites, which inevitably feature a gory mix of murder, rape and topless feminists accosting psychic pigs.
But there is another explanation, one that begins to emerge from the polls. Consider these:
Seventy-seven per cent of Australians want logging of our native forests to end. But logging of our native forests has and will continue under both Labor and Coalition Governments.
Weird, huh? More than two thirds of the Australian public want something, and are backed by scientists, but neither of the major parties will give it to us. Try this:
Sixty-eight per cent of Australians want to stop coal seam gas developments until we figure out what the long-term impact is on our environment. But both Labor and the Coalition support the rapid expansion of coal seam gas.
Here’s another: 91 per cent of Australians oppose dumping in the Great Barrier Reef. But both Labor and the Coalition support continued dumping in this World Heritage icon.
Moving away from the environment: 56 per cent of Australians want our troops withdrawn from Afghanistan. Both Labor and Coalition policies will keep troops in Afghanistan for several more years.
Even on issues that don’t have a clear majority, but still have a substantial split, we should be able to expect that one of the major parties would cater to this choice. Take one of the most divisive issues that dominates the political agenda, asylum seekers. Only six months ago, one poll shows 47 per cent support for years-long offshore detention, and 39 per cent opposed. With that kind of split, surely one of the major parties would offer an alternative policy, to provide Australian voters with a real choice?
Now you know what to look for, you can see these numbers everywhere. Over and over again, a substantial or even majority part of the population clearly want something and neither of the major parties are willing to give it.
Of course, no political party worth its salt would govern by majority opinion. But how often do the choices and preferences of the Australian people have to be ignored before we ask the question: just whom are the major parties representing?
You get the picture, but just a few more:
Fifty-six per cent of Australians want higher taxes on the profits of big miners, the companies making billion dollar profits digging up the minerals that belong to all of us. Labor made the mining tax so weak it couldn’t buy us a cup of coffee (well, barely), and the Coalition want to scrap it altogether.
Forty-eight per cent of Australians are in favour of the Gonski education reforms, even if it means higher taxes. But Labor’s vague plan is to implement Gonski sometime after the next two elections, at least one of which it knows it must lose. The Coalition’s reaction to Gonski is the same as my cat’s reaction to food she doesn’t like: polite dry-retching, then some meaningless waffle about an Asian languages program that’s been slashed so many times by both parties it’s lost all political significance. Neither party will deliver.
We speculate about the current level of vitriol in political debate, and whether this toxicity is turning us off politics in general. I’d say the level of animosity is the same as it’s always been, from back in the day when Paul Keating raised slagging off to a public art form. The difference today is that the debate is more personal and meaningless – with no major policy differences, Labor and Coalition pollies have nothing left to argue about except old boyfriends, hookers and dirty SMS. It’s a distraction from the fact they are no longer concerned about representing us or our interests.
The growing lack of respect we have for politicians is born of the lack of respect they have for us. A two-party democratic system where everyone has the right to choose between two parties which are practically the same, and just as unrepresentative of Australians as each other, is a joke. Worse than a joke, it’s fast becoming an object of – well – contempt.
What is Third Line Forcing?
According to Wikipedia:
“Third line forcing is a form of exclusive dealing involving the supply of goods or services on the condition that the purchaser buys goods or services from a particular third party, or a refusal to supply because the purchaser will not agree to that condition.”
As an example, imagine that there is an organisation (A) that will allow you to put your brochures in their shopfronts in return for an annual membership fee.
Now imagine that there is another (separate) organisation (B) that, as a part of it’s membership package, allows you to display your brochures in organisation A’s shopfronts without being a member of organisation A.
Whilst membership of organisation B does in fact ALLOW you to avail yourself of the services of organisation A, it is not a REQUIREMENT. You can still display at organisation A by simply becoming a member of organisation A.
The only way that this arrangement would be Third Line Forcing would be if membership of organisation B was a requirement to display in the organisation A shopfronts.
We sometimes see terms like this bandied about on social media and it does raise the question of whether those leveling these accusations genuinely believe them or whether they are deliberately being disingenuous to spread misinformation.
Those of us who are members of Incorporated Associations and particularly office holders of those associations are aware that as an Incorporated Association, we are obliged to abide by certain regulations whilst engaging in activities under the auspices of those associations.
Some of these regulations are set out in the Constitution of the Association.
The Incorporated Association Act 1981 (Qld) is the overarching legislation that determines what Incorporated Associations can and can’t do in Queensland.
So, when you see something like the following posted on social media in an accusatory fashion, it makes you pause to consider what the Incorporated Association Act 1981 (Qld) actually has to say on the subject:
The Associations Incorporation Act 1981 states that:
Section 5 – Eligibility for incorporation
(1) An association is not eligible for incorporation under this Act if the association—
(c) is formed or carried on for the purpose of providing financial gain for its members;
How can such an organisation only promote members’ businesses?
Surely this is in breach of the Associations Incorporation Act 1981?
Now, this statement assumes that somehow an association has passed the vetting procedure of the Office of Fair Trading and been able to have their financial reports audited whilst being in breach of the Act governing the association.
The good thing about legislation is that it is drafted by professionals and when they put in a clause like “for the purpose of providing financial gain for its members”, they will then go on to define exactly what is meant by “financial gain”.
Section 4 of The Associations Incorporation Act 1981 states:
4 Whether association is formed or carried on for the purpose of financial gain for its members
(1) An association is not formed or carried on for the purpose of financial gain for its members merely because 1 or more of the following circumstances apply to it—
(a) the association makes a financial gain, but no part of the gain is divided among, or received by, any of the association’s members;
(b) the association is established to protect or regulate a trade, business, industry or calling (the pursuit) engaged in by its members, or in which they are interested, but the association does not itself engage or take part in the pursuit;
(c) the association provides its members with facilities or services;
(d) the association trades with its members, but the trade is ancillary to its principal purpose;
(e) the association trades with the public, but the trade is ancillary to the association’s principal purpose and is not substantial when compared with its other activities;
(f) the association makes a financial gain from—
(i) trading to which paragraph (d) or (e) applies; or
(ii) charging admission fees to displays, exhibitions, contests, sporting fixtures or other occasions conducted to promote its objects; or
(iii) charging subscriptions to further its objects; or
(iv) receiving donations to further its objects;
(g) the members of the association are entitled to divide the property of the association between them on its dissolution;
(h) a member of the association—
(i) receives a salary as an employee or officer of the association; or
(ii) makes a financial gain from the association to which a non-member, acting instead of the member, would equally be entitled; or
(iii) receives a trophy or prize (other than money) from the association because of a competition; or
(iv) receives temporary assistance because of illness, injury or bereavement or other financial hardship suffered by the member.
So, if the association in question is promoting its members, this would come under “(c) the association provides its members with facilities or services” (services) and therefore providing that promotion is NOT “providing financial gain for its members” as defined by the legislation.
In fact, unless the association is simply dividing up the money it has and giving it to its members for no reason other than that they are members of the association, it is very difficult to breach of this legislation on the grounds of providing financial gain.
It pays to be careful when someone quotes a chunk of legislation at you to prove their point, because often the context or definition of the terms used are missing, and sometimes sections of the legislation don’t actually apply unless another condition (such as a determination by a Magistrate) has been met.
“Bush Lawyering” abounds and those who engage in it are almost invariably pushing their own agenda – always seek professional legal advice when confronted by these sorts of assertions.
It may also be useful to ask yourself: “If this claim was presented to a Registrar, would they be likely to put it in front of a Magistrate?”.
Let’s talk about mathematics – in particular percentages and how not to try to manipulate them.
With reference to the diagram below, you should not take data relating to the areas and present the following as factual information:
The number of animals in Area A has increased 33% over the past year.
The number of animals visiting waterhole C for one month of that year is down 22% compared to the same month in the previous year.
Therefore, the number of animals in Area B is down 55% for that month.
(Totally Fallacious Argument not supported by Logic or Mathematics)
You can’t directly compare percentages of different sets.
Even if those sets are related, they are still discreet sets.
The set Animals in Area B is a subset of the set Animals in Area A.
The set Animals that visited Waterhole C is a subset of both Animals in Area A and Animals in Area B.
However, it is impossible to make any meaningful statement about the size of the set Animals in Area B from the data provided.
When this type of babble is presented as fact, the question begs to be asked – do you really think that is how mathematics works or are you being deliberately disingenuous in an attempt to push your agenda?
Something to remember:
“I’ve decided that this is true and therefore it is true”, isn’t actually a thing…