Defend democracy

Barry Jones, former Labor Minister for Science and a professorial fellow at the University of Melbourne, writes a compelling piece today in The Saturday Paper saying:

Nearly 40 years ago, when I wrote Sleepers, Wake!, I was arguing for a more rational, evidence-based approach to long-term problems of society, economy, environment, work, education, health, information flow, leisure and gender. I feared it would require a great crisis to force this change.

I thought the threat of climate change to humans, animals, agriculture, air, soil and water would have compelled governments everywhere to act quickly on the basis of evidence and scientific method. They did not.

……. In this difficult time, we need more democracy, not less. Because this is a revolution.

Read the full article here.

more on the subject …

Anne Twomey, Professor of Constitutional Law, University of Sydney, says there are no constitutional nor technical reasons why Parliament cannot sit ‘virtually’ and gives advice on how this might be done.

Alan Jones, SkyNews, goes for the Victorian State Government, saying new measures are “authority gone drunk” and Coronavirus must not be allowed to destroy democracy.

US author, activist, and journalist Naomi Klein says the coronavirus crisis, like earlier ones, could be a catalyst to shower aid on the wealthiest interests in society, including those most responsible for our current vulnerabilities while offering next to nothing to most workers and small businesses. She says these are recurring tactics that exploit the public’s disorientation at times of disaster. Democracy is suspended and the wealthiest 1% are enriched at the expense of the poor and disadvantaged.

Andrew Edgar, Associate Professor, University of Sydney Law School, says the legal mechanisms used to implement the new restrictions were put through as regulations (which are normally subordinate to legislation) and did not go through the usual scrutiny of Parliament despite being major social changes with substantial economic impacts, albeit in the short term.

The Australian says sidelining Parliament is unhealthy. (Sorry, their paywall prevents us from giving you more information or a link.)

Labor, along with other parties and independents, is not represented on the National Cabinet, other than by the two Labor State premiers, and Tony Burke had this to say about Parliament sitting. The Canberra Times quotes the Daniel Wild at the Institute of Public Affairs (not normally on the same side of politics), saying:

Parliament sat during WWII when soldiers were fighting for freedom and liberal democracy. Closing parliament because of a virus is a shocking betrayal of Australia’s Anzac legacy.

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