NSW Liberal Senator Major General Jim Molan, in an unwinnable slot on the state party’s ticket, has received a record personal primary vote for the Senate, at the time of writing, just under 120,000.
This unprecedented result was achieved despite the fact that the system is designed to discourage voting for a candidate in a way which goes against the wishes of the powerbrokers.
It takes a really determined voter to do this. In fact large numbers of voters were put off by the sheer complication of voting ‘below the line’. For that reason, it is likely that Molan’s support is significantly larger than these figures show. That’s why he terrifies the powerbrokers. In this their reaction is not dissimilar to the Beijing communists reaction to the innocuous Falun Gong who were banned and hunted down pitilessly for the sole reason that too many people liked them.
These votes and the support behind them represent a serious rebuke to the powerbrokers and their cronies who, because of an outraged public reaction, have just had to fold up the disgraceful campaign to stain Molan, a man who has bravely served his country, as ‘dishonourable’.
They also constitute a vote of no confidence in the shady control Australia’s principal political parties have over the preselection of political candidates. Too often this is no more than a corrupt filtering exercise by the power brokers and lobbyists to ensure candidates are chosen not on merit but on allegiance to them.
Not only does this make Australia the most backward and least democratic among comparable western countries, it means that too often, instead of getting the best, we end up with too many calculating, out-of-touch career politicians, loyal only to some powerbroker and motivated principally by self- interest.
This contrast starkly with the system of primaries which dominates preselection in the United States. True, the Democratic Party has managed to rig this, demonstrating yet again that no system can be perfectly secure from the villainous. Briefly, most primaries involve the registered supporters of a political party choosing the candidates. This means an American party cannot control preselections by disenfranchising their base, or by expelling troublesome members who dare suggest the party be more democratic or refusing membership to worthy applicants.
Molan, with his distinguished military career, has served the country in a way few political candidates have. He was so respected for his crucial command role in Iraq, that the Americans awarded him the Legion of Merit. Later he was appointed the Abbott Government’s architect in working out what the mainstream media, the opposition and the left-wing Liberal Party politicians claimed was impossible, turning back the people smugglers boatloads of illegal immigrants.
The reaction of the voters to General Molan demonstrates their fundamental common sense. With his record, his impressive bearing and an ability to talk straight, he would be sought after anywhere else in the Anglosphere as a five-star candidate. He would top the list. But the Liberal powerbrokers awarded him an unwinnable place on the party ticket for the 2016 election. Then providence intervened, ensuring that because of an unplanned vacancy he would still become a Senator. You would have thought that after his superb performance in the Senate and the wishes of the base, the powerbrokers would have relented for the 2019 election . But no, once again he was given an unwinnable position. A goodly number of the people of New South Wales have now shown what they thought of that by voting for him, despite the contrived obstacles to “below the line” voting .
And once again a vacancy has arisen in the Senate and once again those same faceless powerbrokers are plotting to ensure the people’s wishes are not fulfilled and the nation loses the services of such a distinguished and brave Australian.
This system reeks of corruption. It is grossly unworthy of our ancient democracy and of those who founded it and fought and died in its defence.
What is needed now is a significant reform first by legislation and ultimately, by constitutional amendment. The fact is the parties and therefore the powerbrokers and the lobbyists receive enormous and undeserved advantages under our system. Why should they be allowed to profit one minute more?
Not only do they enjoy exemptions from the privacy and electoral legislation, the names of the parties appear on the ballot papers, there’s even a constitutional provision protecting the parties in relation to Senate vacancies and they receive millions for the first preferences the people cast. On top of that their politicians use vast amounts of public money to campaign for their reelection and for their party throughout their terms.
In return for this cornucopia of financial and legal privileges, there should be a legal requirement that that the parties are open, transparent and democratic. The choice would be simple. Carry on as some Machiavellian cabal of powerbrokers and lobbyists and get nothing. Alternatively, become open, transparent and democratic and receive the privileges that the politicians previously awarded themselves without even importing the minimum performance requirements.
And as for the NSW Division of the Liberal Party, just do the right thing and put General Molan into that vacancy.
General Molan and 2GB’s Michael McLaren are panellists in a conversation on “Time to improve the governance of Australia’’ at Parliament House, Sydney on 18 June, to be chaired by Professor Flint. Further details are available here.
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