Thursday, October 06, 2005

Twatwatch - 6 October 2005 - Eric Abetz - a cancer on democracy

Left: Senator the not so honourable Eric Abetz.

Eric Abetz, idealogue for the forces of evil (the Liberal party) recently came out with some plans for electoral law ".. reform.."
He's the guy who keeps trying to get voluntary voting on the table. He spoke to the Sydney Institute on this issue.

Here's a transcript of the speech off his own website (click here)

My favourite bits are where he takes the right to vote off anyone who is currently serving a full time sentence. Because prisoners really needed to be reminded they're sub human and beneath any chance of redemption.

The other favourite bit is the raising the disclosure of political donations from $1,500 to $10,000. According to old Abetzy, "The arguments in favour of lifting this threshold are clear and unassailable."

Bullshit Abetz. Complete and utter bullshit. Saying that this should be linked to CPI is a complete furphy. Saying that somehow it may save the Electoral Commission staff some processing time is a complete furphy. Saying it's not high by International standards is neither here nor there.

Why is this a problem? Because increasing the amount by 666% (is that creepy or what?) opens the way to special interests being able to covertly influence politicians is why.

Abetz thinks $10,000 is chump change and that this does not buy anything. This is of course complete bullshit. It buys say meetings with senior government figures for business people spruiking their hidden from the public agenda while Mr and Mrs Grassroots - say opposing a smelter - are left outside with a placard and a thermos of tea.
Don't take my word for it. Here's a
charming little study by Joo Cheong Tham of Melbourne University that highlighted the dangers of opening the $1500 non disclose limit to just $5000.
click here

Joo points out that since each political party in a state or territory, and their national office, is an independent entity as far as the AEC is concerned this means that assuming the threshold was $5000 (ie $4999 or less means no disclosure is needed) then '...
a donor can give a total of $44991 to a major party without the party having to disclose the identity of the donor.'

So in our charming $10,000 example that's $89,991 given to a party, spread across its nine elements, that does not need the donor disclosed to the AEC.

It's f_cking laughable.

Oh, by the way, here's another charming comment from Abetz

While I welcome the election in Victoria of the Family First candidate, he was elected with just 1.88 percent of the primary vote.

In fact, due to preference flows from above the line votes, the Family First candidate was elected ahead of the Greens’ candidate, who polled 8.8 percent of the primary vote.

This was primarily because Labor directed preferences to Family First, not the Greens, in Victoria.

He's correct. The ALP did have the FF senator as their no 7 preference in the 2004 election in the senate for Victoria.

But where did the libs put theirs after their senate candidates?

Why the DLP (7-11) then to the Christian Democrats of Fred Niles ilk (12-13), then ... Family First (14-18).

The DLP had their genesis as a party split from the ALP in the 50's over communism. Here's a note from Wiki.

A small group of DLP activists in Victoria refused to accept the dissolution of the party and formed a new DLP, which has contested Senate elections in Victoria at every election since 1980 but has never gained representation. The party is largely run by John Mulholland and his family, and its main platform is opposition to abortion. The party no longer has the patronage of the Catholic Church but still has some support among conservative Catholics.

(See the Wiki reference here)

For those non Ozzers reading this the Christian Democrats are like a weak version of Jerry Falwell and Pat Roberston - God bothers who give Christianity a bad name. Family First, ultimately successful, are a recent entrant to the Oz political scene and have their origins in fundamentalist Christian movements organising politically in this country (think the Chrisitian wing of the Republican party). I'm not sure if it's official policy but I believe one of their QLD members who stood in the last election advocated the burning of lesbians (in his defence the FF Senator Steve Fielding has proven to be thus far reasonably reasonable and has actually queried the govt's planned changes to industrial reform).

So all three of these parties, where the Libs directed their preferences too, were conservative Christian groups.

Rank f_cking hypocracy Abetz. But what do you expect of a Liberal party lawyer trying to ensure entrenchment of their shallow minded, right wing, fear mongering government?

A twatwatch duly earned indeed.


  1. What an absolute twat.

    Prisoners with no right to vote - I smell Florida.

    What I don't get - is how John Laws exposed to have accepted money from banks, simply to say how nice they were, is considered to be a heinous crime - when no one in their right mind would consider him, or his ilk, to be more trustworthy than that guy in the alley with the $2 Rolex's.

    But, the sheer rampant political string-pulling abhorrent ‘donations’ are used to blatantly and directly control what is considered to be a democratic nation, is perfectly acceptable. When (and I hate to dump on the ALP again) they donate to both parties, and policies change, bills get passed, how is this not the worst kind of corruption possible?

    Next thing you know, organised crime will drop in a few dollars to pull some strings and we’ll allow prostitution and gambling for easy money laundering! Hehe.. *sigh*

    We are in dire need of a large increase in transparency – shouldn’t we have the right to know, at least, what the donations are in aid of? What the lobbying dollar is lobbying for?

    This is the exact opposite, this erodes democracy even further. Can the USA invade us and install some more democracy please, this ones decrepit.

    Fielding can disagree with anything he likes now, he’s no longer needed, and Howard seems to have sold him out. Family impact statement is still pending. My bet is, he will play politics, we’ll see a dodgy FIS on IR, that says it may be a tad bad, Fielding won’t vote for the bill, Libs will thrust it through, and FF lives to fight another day.

  2. I know this is an Australian blog and I don't want to go mucking it up with my ignorance, but here are two items ...

    1) Uncle Wiki told me that the Liberal party is so-named as they are supporters of Adam Smith's economic liberalism, but are otherwise conservative (esp. socially). I suppose this has the effect of not making 'liberal' a dirty word among the right, but what do folks on the left call themselves?

    2) He's out of Tasmania. Is Tasmania a more Liberal (err, *conservative*) state than the rest?

  3. There are only 2 kinds of people who give money to political parties IMO: people looking for some sort of benefit when the party gains office, and hard-core supporters. The former are the ones who don't want to be identified.

    I don't think anyone should be allowed to give any amount of money whatsoever to a political party unless they are willing to put their name to it.

  4. I am sure there are puns that could be made about Eric Aiding and Abetting political corruption... But I won't do that to you.

    I have been revolted by all the talk of "electoral reform" this week. Voluntary voting would be the worst of the lot, but I think that not letting full time prisoners vote and closing the electoral roll the instant an election is called (so that people who've just turned 18 can't enrol) are tying for a close second.

    And the only reason they're not going for voluntary voting is that it'd need a referendum and they don't want to risk it. The rest they can force through the senate given their majority.


    As an aside, until this week when I heard a soundbite from him on the radio, I thought he was actually "Erica Betts". Hmm.

  5. Indeed Mr Fogg. Liberals, as in liberal minded in Oz, are known by the appelation of small L liberal. Liberals with a capital L are known as right wing f_ckwits. That could just be my intrepretation though. Personally I always wondered why the Liberals kept the name when Junta or We'rebetterthanyouscum seemed much more up their alley.

    Tasmania? Regarded by some as somewhat er backward. Sort of like West Virginia I guess.

  6. Erica Betts?

    Sounds like one of those hideous faux realistic dolls that wets itself, cries, and that you feed doll food to that you can scrape out of their bot bot and feed to again.

    Actually that's quite a neat fit for Abetz.

    I agree on the transparency issue. Personally I feel only individuals should be allowed to donate to parties. Not organisations. But then you'd probably get the case in the states where 'employees' of a business all contribute idential amounts in their name or something.

    Why do we allow companies to make political donations. Larry is right. It just makes it all totally dodgy.

    There's this democrat senator in the states, Finegold? co-authored an electrol funding bill with McCain that regulated soft money. He famously accepted 90% + of his fund raising from just individuals in his home state - and raised 11 million.

    But then he seems to be idealistic. And that's a rare quality.

    By the way - kudos to Stanhope for sticking up for prisoners (ACT premier). That man is still my hero.

  7. Mine too. Any politician that gets his kit off to dive into a dam and help save a drowning helicopter pilot is worth noting in my book!

  8. Well its not as if the liberal party dude would have swirled a brandy balloon and laughed evily as the pilot drowned. But he probably would have spent far longer taking off his clothes, including looking for a coat hanger and a handy branch to hang it from, before slowly inching into the cold damn water, shrieking like a girl, and eventually dog paddling over there - stopping now and then to make sure their monocle hasn't fallen out.

    By the time they reach the pilot they'd probably see a member of the coroner's staff looking at them curiously from the comfort of their boat they deployed earlier to fetch the body.

    Or maybe I'm being cynical.

  9. So when you accidentally leave your bags unattended, and get jailed, you can still vote? Go Stanhope!

    Now THAT's cynicism!


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