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Death of a parliament

By Everald Compton - posted Friday, 25 August 2017


In my schooldays in the bush, the farmers around my little timber town often had the unpleasant task of putting down an animal that was in such bad shape that the most humane step was to end its existence.

Last week, I spent three days at Parliament in Canberra meeting MP's and Senators – 33 of them in all – some for 15 minutes. others for half an hour. As usual, all were courteous and did their best to be helpful as I talked about plans to establish an Age Pension Tribunal, create Affordable Housing Communities, foster Intergenerational Partnerships and talk about finally achieving the vision that I have had for twenty years of building an Inland Railway.

My 33 meetings covered Liberals, Nationals, ALP, Greens and Independents as there are good people in all of them, but I could sense a background of unease everywhere.

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There was a silent acknowledgement that the Parliament was not going well, actually heading towards a state of dysfunction.

The Coalition is divided into three camps – Turnbull, Abbott and those aligned to neither. The ALP is worried that the Polls constantly show that Bill Shorten is not popular personally and the other Parties are unsure as to whether there supporters might have become fickle.

The presence of death pervades the Parliament. It is ready to be put down.

For reasons that I cannot understand, the issue of Same Sex Marriage gripped the Parliament and tore it apart. It just needed a simple vote in both Houses, but it was turned into a national issue that will tear apart the fabric of society. Everyone knew they had handled it badly.

After all, we went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq without even a vote of the Parliament, but the fact that gays want the basic human right of marriage became a huge crisis requiring a vote of the people. It was incredible. The High Court has already ruled that they are entitled to that right and have asked the Parliament to legislate it. How silly can a Parliament get?

Then, the Government allowed a censure motion against them to pass because some of their MP's did not turn up to vote. Incredible indiscipline.

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But, the big issue was eligibility to sit in Parliament if you have 'allegiance' to another nation. I must say that I was unaware that if your parents were born outside Australia, you actually had to revoke your citizenship in those nations. I find that requirement to be quite stupid.

I have done a lot of reading about the Federation of Australian States in 1901 as I am writing a book called "Dinner with the Founding Fathers'.

The facts of the matter about Section 44 of the Constitution are that when the Founding Fathers were writing the Constitution, they were citizens of six different British Colonies. When they travelled overseas they were issued a British Passport. In addition, very few people did undertake international travel as it took months, plus a lot of money, to get anywhere by boat.

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This article was first published on Everald Compton.



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About the Author

Everald Compton is Chairman of The Longevity Forum, a not for profit entity which is implementing The Blueprint for an Ageing Australia. He was a Founding Director of National Seniors Australia and served as its Chairman for 25 years. Subsequently , he was Chairman for three years of the Federal Government's Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing.

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