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Back June 20th, 2011 Forward
Oh gods, someone brick up Tony Abbott's mouth, please.

From these articles:

"Mr Abbott [...] says the Australian people should be able to vote on one of the biggest economic changes in Australia's history."

You what?

Well, of course. Let's have a plebiscite about this tax. Just like the one we had about the GST.

Oh, hang on. There wasn't one.

There was a lot of horse-trading between the various state governments and the Commonwealth government, and there was one hell of a lot of political bargaining between the various parties in the House and the Senate. But there wasn't a plebiscite. The idea of asking the Australian people about whether they'd like a brand new regressive[1] tax imposed on them wasn't even floated - possibly because the Powers-That-Be in Canberra knew perfectly well that the answer would be somewhere between "no" and "hell, no!" So we just had the Liberals engaging in a lot of horse trading with the minor parties and independents in the Senate (Senator Brian Harradine? Remember him?) and making the decisions for us based on what they thought we'd like (which led to such thoroughly logical things as condoms and safety razors being GST free, but feminine "sanitary articles" being taxed).

What about some of the other things we weren't asked our opinions of - things like going to war in Iraq; going to war in Afghanistan; participating in the "War on Terror" (what, nouns are a threat now?); the various "solutions" to refugee issues which mainly consisted of "White Australia Policy II"; the health insurance industry subsidies (aka "Medicare levy discount"); WorkChoices; the continuing "deregulation" of the Australian media - little things like those? Should the ALP have been able to stand up and say "we want a plebiscite on this" about every single issue?

I think one of the things Mr Abbott has forgotten is this: Australia is a representative democracy. This means instead of spending $69 million on a giant opinion poll of the Australian public over every single damn issue, we spent that $69 million once every three or four years on a bunch of smaller opinion polls about which person is going to represent our opinions over in Canberra. It's what the parliamentary system is for. We had an election a year ago. The results of that election still stand, even if Mr Abbott thinks the majority of the Australian public got it seriously wrong.

We had our plebiscite a year ago. We voted in a hung parliament rather than a simple majority of either party. We heard both leaders make commitments to work for a "better, less adversarial solution" to the problem of law-making. Funny how only the ALP seems to be keeping those commitments. Mr Abbott, your party doesn't appear to be willing to fish, or to cut bait - so why should we be listening to you?

[1] Regressive taxes are the ones which take a bigger proportion of your income the less you earn - and a 10% sales tax on most goods and services is definitely something which takes a proportionately bigger chunk out of a lower income, as opposed to a higher one. This is because people on a lower income spend a larger proportion of their income on inflexible (unchangeable) expenses - things like food, water, power etc - than people on higher incomes.

PS: For those wonderful people on the comments thread of the second article I listed who strongly implied that the GLOBAL problem of GLOBAL climate change isn't something Australians can (or indeed should) address by internalising the cost of pollution to our polluting industries, I have one simple question: in your opinions, who should be making the changes, and when?

I'm strongly of the opinion that the problem of global warming is somewhat like the problem of emptying the oceans - "every little helps". Someone has to try something. Someone has to go first. Why not us, and why not now?

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