Tuesday 28th of May 2024

Suggestions for development - Read to the bottom please

Hey again,

I've become too distracted by all the side issues and regretably have written far too much on far too little.

So back on track.

Basically I agree with Margo's overall plan as outlined. The major aim of that plan is to take back our government and that is what I am interested in.

I can see value in having members of such a group as this in as many electorates as possible, the more the stronger the group is. I can also see the value to such an organisation/group in having reporting mechanisms in each electorate.

But I see little value in any of that unless there is an actual plan of what to do, how to do it and when to do it. That's what I'd like to kick off here.

Firstly, any plan/strategy espoused by me or this site or anybody must rely on numbers. If there are few we might as well meet in a phone booth and bore each other, in my opinion.

We need to be doing everything to encourage and allow as many as possible to join in so they can at least get involved before they decide to stay or leave. That is another part of why I am opposed to real names on the web. It will simply reduce numbers and potential success.

OK, so assume we have the numbers to actually lobby on an issue or within an electorate. Or even run a candidate for the Senate or a Council etc. If we did run in an election, using our most prominent member or most prominent willing member what would it achieve if that person got elected?

About as much as the few independents do now. Yes you would get some media coverage and you would have a public figure to spread the word so on that part alone it could be worth thinking about.

Politically though such a person would have no power, no ability to affect much at all as we have seen. In fact such a person may become a target to be extinguished as in One Nation. So any person taking such a role would expose themselves to much personal risk ( the hidden slush funds and Premiers with agendas remember ).

So, on balance I can't see that as much of an idea. To sustain such a person and the interest in such a group is difficult if you are standing for elections and never attracting votes. That would kill us of.

So, my aim is to attack the allegiance to the parties of current members of parliament and new candidates at election time rather than the individuals or the parties. We would lose those battles.

So how do we attack and change their allegiance?

Firstly they all swear with hand on heart and bible that they will protect and serve the Australian people. They don't, they do what they are told by the back room boys who we never see.

Secondly there are many current MP's and Council members who are fed up with compromising themselves. They continue to do it as they know if they don't obey orders they are finished.

So we have to give them an alternative. We have to push for changes in law, particularly voting and election issues so that they MUST respond to their electorates. If we achieved that then the big parties die quickly.

One simple change ( but very hard to get in of course ) would be to form a group in each electorate that has dismissal powers over the elected candidate during a term. Why would they dismiss the member? Maybe they promised roads would be fixed and they are not. Any similar issue where it is seen they have voted the opposite way or actively opposed the original promise etc. Part of that dismissal process would be automatic loss of superannuation entitlements if a member is dismissed by the electorate other than during an election. If we had that change who do you think MP's would respond to?

Who would be in those groups? I'd suggest anybody except members of political parties would be eligible and would be unpaid, part time, replacing paid councillors and hiring managers for councils instead. So the people could be elected as council members are now, except I would want a maximum period on such a panel for obvious reasons.

Yes, it's a big jump and MP's would actually have to bring that in so how do we get them to firstly listen and secondly to stop laughing.

A demonstration of people power is required. Just one mass demonstartion of people power is all it would take to shake the major parties out of their comfortable seats.

I'm not talking about waving flags and banners or huge meetings in parks where police can practice their new weapons and tactics.

I'm talking about an issue which will attract a majority of public support regardless of whether they belong to this site or not and can be effectively run simply through the media. No mass meetings required.

For example, if we raised the issue of scrapping bank fees and pushed it, how many of the public would support that? 80 - 90%? You decide. It's a majority, easily regardless of your guess which is what I have done.

If we want a hot topic, simply listen to all the talkback shows and we can pick one a week if we needed. What I think though is necessary is a topic that won't fade after a week. Bank fees is a good one as everyone gets upset every time they pay it or hear about it.

There are plenty of other such topics though, such as Education, Health, Infrastructure, Public Transport, Politicians perks etc.

See what I mean?

Clearly a lot of work would be needed to get going on those topics but once a site was prepared and material gathered all we would need to do would be to hit the talk back shows at the same time in each State and the Letters to the Editors in each State.

I'm of the belief that simply the threat of such a mass demonstration would be enough to turn the allegiance of many current members.

Let me return to the bank fees issue as that's one I've spent time on.

Say we had twenty members in one bank branch somewhere in Australia. Each of those members has a mortgage of $100,000 , a credit card debt of $5000 and $10,000 invested. Modest claims and well below the average for mortgages for example.

If you add those figures for twenty people you come up with a product sum of 2.3 million bucks of business for that branch.

So a rep of those twenty trots in to the branch and says " I represent twenty people with 2.3 million bucks worth of business in your branch. We want accounts with no fees or we are off to another bank. Can you help please?".

How many times would that need to happen before banks and politicians and the media become very interested.

OK, that's my first surge of thought and I'll stop here to see if this appeals to anyone else.

Ok, I'll bite.

Seems to me that people have been ecouraged to be isolated and motivated by selfish interests. Groups do carry a lot more sway, and governments realise this: a divide and conquer approach has kept us easy to control.

I challenge your assertion that an independent in the senate has no power. I think independants and minor party senators, with the balance of power, have significant voting and negotiating power. In a system that has, as you say, 50% Labor and 50% other, minors/independents often find themselves in this position.

I, too, would like to see actions being planned and all that. If we can fit in well thought out actions that will aid our ailing democracy, I will support them. But like you said, there is a lot of topics to choose from. Getting a consensus on an action might be difficult.

The biggest things I think will come from this forum is the following:

  • Feedback on ideas.
  • Active support network with contacts to get stuff done (eg help others with specialist skills - cameramen or editors help to make a documentary, for example).
  • Exchange of personal views on current events/issues.

Indeed, numbers are important. Perhaps T-shirts would be a good way of getting our address out there. It would be an excellent catalyst for personal conversation too, which is often the most effective form of communication.

Hey Joel

Hey Joel, thanks for responding. I really do appreciate it. I was beginning to think this part of Margo's idea was being totally ignored as I have yet to see any ideas that are new or different from what has been done to death in other media.

Certainly I'll concede that independent senators have had some influence on the legislation passed by Howard's government (note they never say Your Government). Come 1 July they will likely just play noughts and crosses though.

Have they actually had any power though Joel? All they have done is use their moment in the spotlight to publicise themselves or advantage their own pet projects. They have only forced Howard to defer or tone down his aims. Tasmania is better off because of that, leaving unequal treatment between States.

I certainly have appreciated the Democrats role in stopping Howard to date although I have little time for most of the Democrats senator's.

But I did not appreciate Meg Lees and Andrew Bartlett giving us the GST. They will be long remembered for that but I guess that was their goal. To make a mark in our history.

I am surprised though that you are here if all you expect is what you have stated. If we all have that approach then Margo may as well can part two of her goals. Unless we try of course nothing will happen.

If you would like to see action planned then hop in and rip my notes to pieces, they are only a starting point and will seem extreme to many.

I'd much prefer to donate my time to that effort than pointless debates where no conclusion can ever be reached as both views ar intractable. I've done all that as you probably have too. Why repeat it here?

Or, here's another idea...

Why not have an annual award to honour a defender of Australian democracy. The award should go to someone who selflessly and courageously acted in the best interests of Australian democracy. I'd suggest one of the Iraq war whistleblowers for the first one, perhaps Andrew Wilkie.

Such an award would be (by my reckoning) quite an honour. It would reward good deeds, encourage others and would promote our movement. What is more, it would surely get some media attention, right?


Pegasus, at this stage I should apologise - I haven't read Margo's book (gasp!) In fact I haven't read a book over the last year that wasn't related to my thesis. So although I have been lurking about since the early days of the NHJ website, you, no doubt, have a better understanding of Margo's vision and goals.

My point about the minor parties/independents is that they hold far more power than their numbers suggest if the senate is (as it usually is) finely balanced. How many bills have we seen blocked by the senate? Only a couple of years ago there was daily talk about the newest "potential double disillusion trigger". Another demonstration of minor party power is the following: would we see Howard pursuing more polices that would appear to come from the Christian Right if Family First were to hold the balance? My guess is yes, and it would come in exchange for support of the full sale of Telstra, for example.

All this does (eventually) tie in with the action goals. The balance of power only works when we have an opposition who has the courage to take the opposing view when necessary. So creating the image of community dissatisfaction with government policy is important to get robust opposition from what is a battered and reactionary opposition party at the moment.

I think my suggestion that this website should be a networking forum where we gather people with skills and contacts to get stuff done is a powerful one. We can be a community of real people with individual abilities to be utilised and combined for the greater goals. I think this is a powerful reason for not using a pseudonym (but I know you have discussed elsewhere the reasons why you don't use your real name).

I think producing a documentary would be a good idea. Topics might include:

  • Role of police and media in protests.
  • Australia: how we became the 51st state.
  • Murdoch and Packer: Australia's most powerful men.
  • Retake your democracy.
  • (add your own ideas)

With our new fangled contacts, we should be able to get music, voice talent, cameras, archive information, editing equipment, media coverage and an audience. Such a feat could help mobilise a whole new audience and could gather more like-minded people to the site.

And I do still think T-shirts is a cool idea. I'd buy one.

As for your "zero fees" plan, it would be a fairly spectacular stunt. Perhaps we could do a whole heap of that kind of stuff and... I know! Make a documentary about it!

Hi I'm new here

This could be a very important project.

I like your idea about outlawing the parliamentary whips, Pegasus (and the t-shirts). And everything on your bullet list is a tasty target, Joel. But it may be prudent to start with just one issue and focus limited resources on that.

I'd like to propose Howard's intention to dilute the cross media ownership rules as a first target. It's tailor-made since

  • this project came into being because Australia's media is concentrated in the hands of a few psychopaths
  • it's immanent
  • every socially conscious person I've discussed this with is appalled
  • there is no hub or focus for activism on this issue, that I'm aware of
  • It's very important

This is one issue this site must deal with if it's actually serious. And, of course, it'd be taking on the enemy mano a mano. What do you reckon? Are you up for it?

YES! (Who else is up for it?)

Anthony, thanks for dropping by. Cross media ownership laws - perfect! You've nailed it.

Oddly, there hasn't been enough media scrutiny of this issue, and it needs to be exposed. Free media is a critical component of a vibrant, robust democracy and I think it is central to what all of us are here for.

I have video editing experience, having produced promotional videos and music videos in the past. I would jump at the opportunity to help work on a documentary as important as this.

I am up for it. Is anyone here a gun on cross-media ownership law, mass media or news reporting? How can we get others interested? Who else is up for it? What skills, knowledge, equipment or contacts do you have to offer?

Getting this site active - cross-media ownership laws

I read all of your comments with interest!

We have only a couple of months to go before the government has a workable majority in the Senate, and I'm concerned. I believe that if this site (us) is to have an impact we need to use the government's tactics - pick an issue likely to frighten the masses, for instance no independent media, then work out means to have the greatest impact on the Senate.

This tool called the internet can be one of the answers. All of your suggestions are good ones, but add in an email campaign on a specific issue, targetting specific members or senators, like the one who just declared his lack of support for the PM, and we just may be able to sway them. Senators may be easier to target as we can have an entire state acting, rather than a small electorate.

But first we need to get more members onto this site. I don't have any particular skills that would be useful for an advertising/information campaign, but I'm happy to buy a bumper sticker, t-shirt or hat that advertises the site and its purpose. I am also working on like minded friends to get them to become members.

Lets not leave it until it happens - laws are hard to reverse.

Hi Roseanne

You're right. There isn't enough time to build this site up to the point where it can make a difference on its own. But we may be able to catalyse action, mobilising existing interest groups and resources. I suppose the Socialist Alliance, Friends of ABC & others might feel strongly enough about x-media to participate in some action.

What do you think about this: We get someone with immaculate credentials in the field of political science or philosophy to compose a powerful and succinct explanation for what's wrong with media concentration, and graphic-design it into a black & white pamphlet. We gather the numbers on the internet to hand out the pamphlets in the cities or letterbox drop them in the suburbs. I know it sounds very ordinary. But the point is, with a few psychopaths controlling all the mass media, pamphlets and the internet are the only means left for diverse opinions to be aired. Or, since the privately-owned print media are acquiescing in this eroding of our democracy, the argument against has to find other ways to get across to the citizenry. To help make the point, it could look like a pamphlet from the 17th century.

Good Idea

What a good idea! Maybe we could we agree on topics to target and then get somebody, or a group, to volunteer designing the pamphlets and when they are ready ask readers to organise and arrange to pick up and deliver pamphlets throughout the different communities. We could make a donation to fund the process of printing the pamphlets.

Get some of the real news out to the people so that it might open their eyes a little bit and encourage them to question, as you often can't blame the public for their attitude. They are just going on what they are being told.

One more thought

Maybe it could take the form of an open letter to the citizens of Australia signed by a bunch of intellectual and political heavyweights.

Dilution of cross-media ownership rules

Thanks for your encouragement, Joel.

I'm afraid there isn't a newspaper or electronic outlet (apart from ABC & SBS) in Australia that doesn't see itself as a potential winner from erosion of X-media rules. Fairfax imagines it'll be able to buy a TV station. There is a dormant website at ww.xmedia.org.au I sent them an email and tried the phone number. It was answered by the Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance answering machine. The site was set up in 2003, I think, with money from Friends of Fairfax.

There's got to be a few seriously angry citizens behind that. Perhaps we'll find YourDemocracy supporting that site's initiatives, if they fire up again. Anyway, hopefully someone from MEAA will make contact.

Cross-Media Ownership Campaign

Hey Anthony and Joel, I think you're onto it.

Even in this phase of the site, which is still very much site-building, some direction seems to have developed here. Thanks also Pegasus on that front for providing leadership and provoking a strategic discussion.

For my money Cross-Media ownership Laws and protecting the ABC should be a dual campaign, and are both very clearly about defending our democratic institutions. The Friends of the ABC have a well developed campaign for the latter goal and we should support them whilst building a national electorate-by-electorate campaign around the former - Cross Media Ownership laws.

The two campaigns should work closely together if possible. The broader point could be made about the importance of independent and diverse media for a healthy democracy.