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Coalition lone dreamers fuel Rudd dictatorship


Regrettably Friday's inaugural United Nations World Day of Social Justice passed quietly.

The observance was adopted unanimously by the 192 member states of the United Nations during their November 2007 General Assembly. To achieve a 'society for all', the governments committed to a 'framework for action to promote social justice at national, regional and international levels'. They also pledged to promote 'the equitable distribution of income and greater access to resources through equity and equality and opportunity for all'.

The international Union of Superiors General of Catholic religious orders asked in its message for the World Day: 'What has your government done to move this commitment forward?'

Underlying the UN resolution creating the World Day was the overarching need to hold governments accountable for what they do or don't do. This is an absolute requirement in achieving a society that is 'for all' rather than for the pleasure of governments themselves.

In the context of the corrupt regimes the UN has in mind, the notion of a 'Rudd dictatorship' is obviously far-fetched. But as state voters in New South Wales know all too well, arrogant and self-indulgent government can and does arise in apparently advanced democracies such as Australia.

This occurs most often when the government becomes conceited because the opposition is distracted, or incapable of challenging the government in parliament or in the polls.

Our Federal Opposition is indeed in bad shape at present, making conditions right for the emergence of the said Rudd dictatorship.

At the beginning of last week, deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop announced she was giving up the role of Shadow Treasurer after it became clear she had consistently failed to challenge the government on economic management.

The public was then led to believe that opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull had been unsuccessful in his bid to replace her with the Coalition's 'best person for the job'. Publicly visible disunity, and a further front bench resignation, ensued.

Self-indulgence is also at the root of the Opposition's failure, if we accept that Julie Bishop's original appointment as Shadow Treasurer was not on merit, but part of a sweetheart deal to secure her vote for Malcolm Turnbull as Liberal Party leader.

As it happens, the largely ignored United Nations Day of Social Justice, and the task of the crumbling Federal Opposition, are not entirely unrelated. For both, holding governments accountable is the name of the game, or perhaps dream.

The Union of Superiors General message for the World Day of Social Justice quotes the words of Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx: 'What you dream alone remains a dream, what you dream with others can become a reality.'

It appears that the Federal Opposition is a bunch of lone dreamers, when good government 'for all' Australians requires collective dreaming.

Michael MullinsMichael Mullins is editor of Eureka Street.




Topic tags: World Day of Social Justice, Federal Coalition, malcolm turnbull, julie bishop, shadow treasurer



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Existing comments

The government of NSW 'arrogant and self-indulgent', divine Kevin and his government 'conceited'? The opposition 'self-indulgent' having failed to appoint its treasurer 'on merit'? These are outrageous claims to make against Australian politicians and who could believe them?

Claude Rigney | 23 February 2009  

I beg to very much differ! Any Government who is in power too long whether it be the NSW Government, the Queensland Government or even the Governments of Menzies or Howard all risked becoming arrogant and out of touch. The electorate eventually will turf them out! Sure the Opposition at present is in a mess but to call the Rudd Government arrogant and conceited is an exaggeration of momumental proportions!

Gavin O'Brien | 24 February 2009  

Federal opposition in bad shape? I tend to recall a Labor party that for eleven years was completely ineffective. It often seemed in Parliament that the government was questioning itself.My political affiliation is neither Liberal or Labor but how about a bit of balanced commentary?

Instead of practical dreaming how about a firm foothold based in reality, dreaming is easy the hard part is the implementation. As can be seen with Mr Obama talk of hope and dreams are tempered by the realities once in government.

Dale Urukalo | 27 February 2009  

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