University of the Third Age

South Australia (Adelaide Branch) Inc.

AUSTRALIA - ONE COUNTRY or SEVEN STATES

By Hon. Clyde R. Cameron A.O.

Labor M.H.R. for Hindmarsh (1949 1975)

Minister for Labour (1972 1975)

Address delivered at a Regional Conference of Branches of the University of the Age held at the Flinders University at 9.30 a.m. on Tuesday 29 September 1992.


 

I congratulate the University of the Third Age for the work doing to widen our horizons through a Conference dedicated the aim of Living for Today, Sharing for Tomorrow . I note from the Agenda that the principal speakers will with such subjects as Trends in Adult Education , Aboriginal Futures , The Multi Function Polis , and by the title of my own address, Australia One Country or Seven States , The title chosen by the University of the Third Age for my address could have been Australia One Country or Nine States and 877 Local Governments .

In addition to the six States, we now have fully fledged governments operating in the Northern Territory and the A.C.T., each with its own Members of Parliament, its own Ministers, and its own highly paid paper shufflers . Indeed, the Senior Executives and Judges of these tin pot governments not only demand he same salaries as their counterparts employed by the Federal Government, but in some cases actually sought higher salary levels than their Federal counterparts.

Needless to say, the Public Sector Unions welcomed the leap frogging effect of this development because they then invent the principle of comparative wage justice to demand the same salary increase for Federal public servants. When that is achieved, their State counterparts draw attention to the fact that the salary advantage they previously enjoyed over their mates employed Government A has disappeared and use that as the basis for a restoration of another salary increase. Their mates in the rest of the Commonwealth again use the leap frog technique to get yet rise; and the whole greedy process goes on ad infinitum. You leap over my screw today, and then I ll leap over yours tomorrow , is what they say to each other, and so the racket continues.

We now have the enormous total of 839 Members of Parliament 141 Ministers on the public pay roll.

The following tables show that 616 of our 839 Members of parliament belong to State and Territorial parliaments, which between them have the staggering total of 112 Ministers.

Members of Parliament

State                                          Assembly    Council    Total

New South Wales                    99            42         141

Victoria                                  88            44         132

Queensland                           89            ---           89

South Australia                       47            22           69

Western Australia                    57            34           91

Tasmania                               35            17           52

Northern Territory                     25            ---          25

Australian Capital Territory        17            ---           17

Total ................................................................  616

Ministers

New South Wales                                                   20

Victoria                                                                 19

Queensland                                                          18

South Australia                                                      13

Western Australia                                                   17

Tasmania                                                              10

Northern Territory                                                     9

Australian Capital Territory                                       17

Total .................................................................  112

Our 616 surplus Members of Parliament are provided with staff, luxury accommodation, travel facilities, and with pay and other perks costing the community tens of millions of dollars every year.

 The 112 surplus Ministers on our pay roll have even bigger staffs than other Members of Parliament, plus chauffeur-driven limousines, overseas trips and large expense allowances, etc., amounting to a total of many millions of dollars each year.

 If they gave us better government, the burden might be considered bearable; but in point of fact, the multiplicity of governments in our Nation is not only sending us bankrupt, but giving us a form of government that is not only staggeringly costly, but shockingly bad.

They have handed over the government of our country to the un-elected politicians who make up the clerical and administrative employed by our nine Governments and 877 Local Government

By placing the Executive arm of government in the hands of those whom we elect to Parliament, we commit two quite fatal mistakes.

Firstly, we limit our choice of Ministers to those whose skills in organizing pre-selection ballots and factional deals are often the only skills they possess.

Secondly, we are silly enough to believe that the majority Party in any Parliament will ever allow one of its mates, no matter how incompetent, to be removed from office by a vote of the Parliament it controls. Even a Minister guilty of conduct bordering on corruption will sometimes be cuddled by his or her colleagues. I've actually seen it happen in Canberra.

We now have a third of our total work forces on the public pay roll. The cost of extravagant non contributory fully indexed superannuation schemes, and the huge pay and perks which go to the senior and middle range in the Public Service have now reached crippling proportions with the Public Sector Unions continually pressing for more and more.

They are getting away with it because too many of our 141 Ministers seem too tired, too lazy, or too incompetent to even see, or care about the size of the salaries, the over classification and the over staffing of the administrative and clerical levels of government. And, while this section of the Public Service is allowed to wallow in wealth, 72.33 per cent of the work forces are being paid less than the Average Weekly Wage. Over a million, in fact are living in abject poverty.

Like Brazil, Argentina and the other poverty stricken Countries of Latin America, there is now an ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. The rich are getting richer, while the poor are getting poorer and constituting a bigger and bigger Percentage of our total population.

How much longer are we going to allow our country to be so over-governed as it is at present How much longer are we going to fall for the self interested arguments against the abolition of State and Territorial parliaments by the politicians and public servants who have a personal stake in preventing us from becoming ONE NATION and of being proudly governed by one Parliament that can us one law, one Public Service and one Administrative system that will make it possible for those whom we elect, to be able to discipline and dismiss those responsible for bad decisions or guilty of corruption

So, we must do more than reduce the number of Local Govern sent bodies and abolish altogether, the State and Territorial parliaments! We have to make our National Parliament a representative and authoritative voice of the Australian people.

Today, the Parliament is no more than a rubber stamp for the Cabinet. And, in too many cases, the Cabinet is no more than a rubber stamp for the unelected politicians in the administrative of the Public Service.

The Parliament has no power of veto over the appointment of senior public servant. Nor does it have the power to dismiss corrupt or incompetent public servant.

The Parliament has no say or right of veto over the appointment of Judges to the High Court who interpret the law. Instead, the Cabinet (and sometimes the Prime Minister alone) effectively fills the vacancies on the High Court of Australia. This means that it is now possible to stack that Court with Party hacks. Neither the Parliament nor the ruling Party s backbenchers have any say in who will sit on the High Court.

All of these deadly defects in our system of government are that we inherited from Britain when we foolishly tied ourselves kits Westminster System.

Under the Westminster system the people are made to believe that they can govern themselves by electing a Parliament that always reflect their will. They are told that by being allowed to elect their own Parliament, they will secure government of the people, by the people, for the people. It has been the greatest confidence trick ever played on so many people for long, in the whole history of the human race!

Many centuries ago an English King and his powerful and privileged barons, conspired together to devise a system that would give them a Cabinet of men and women who would never have the guts or the guile to handle the unelected Sir Humphrey s of the Public Service.

The ruling class of Britain were saying you can elect the Parliament, but we will decide what laws are passed and how those laws will be interpreted by the Courts. And, although it will be the unelected politicians of the Public Service who will make the decisions, the Westminster System will compel an elected Minister to carry all the odium for the bad and corrupt decisions made by the public servants! And, to ensure that the Sir Humphrey s are, in fact, the real rulers of the country, they are paid fabulous pay and perks, and given permanency that places so far above the rest of the community that they never ever the slightest understanding or feeling for the poor and underprivileged.

When the United States of America let go the apron strings Mother England, it had the good common sense to also abandon the discredited Westminster System and opt for a Presidential system under which an elected Congress would enjoy the constitutional right to veto appointments to Cabinet and the Country s Supreme Court. The People s Congress also has the power to not only sack a corrupt Judge or Member of Cabinet, but to also impeach a corrupt President. Congress, in fact, did force President Richard Nixon to resign over the Watergate scandal.

No Member of Cabinet in the U.S.A. can at the same time be member of the people s elected Congress. This ensures that Congress is never forced to place loyalty to a Party ahead of loyalty to the Nation whenever a public servant, judge or President has been guilty of a serious offence.

Thanks to Paul Keating, our nation is at long last turning its mind to the question of whether Australia is to be one country or nine States. But he was not the first public figure to see the monstrosity of allowing one nation to be split into eight separate States and Territories.

On 11 November 1979, Bob Hawke began the first of his five Boyer Lectures for the A.B.C. being the first person actively engaged in Party politics ever invited to take part in the prestigious lectures. But the content of his lectures were even more surprising. So surprising indeed, that they seemed to frighten hell out of Hawke himself, because hardly ever again mentioned some of their most telling points.

He boldly declared: I would prefer to break the link with the British Crown and have our own President as Head of State, possessing formal and ceremonial powers only. Unfortunately, his boldness soon evaporated; and Australia has had to wait until Keating snatched the Prime Ministerial crown from the Boyer lecturer to hear the matter raised in a really robust way again. Part of Hawke s problem was that he preferred to lead from behind so that if there was no immediate uprising of support for a new idea, then it would be dropped.

Apart from his call to cut the links with Buckingham Palace, and a couple of other exceptions, the whole of his five lectures consisted of platitudinous sermons on well known social curses without offering any real cure for them. One important exception to their dull tone was Hawke s call for a review of    the Westminster system of government. He quoted with approval a portion of a discussion paper by J.A. Pettifer, a former Clerk of the House of Representatives, who wrote that there is clear evidence that the House is not now seen by the public, or by the Members themselves, to be an effective monitor of the Executive arm of Government; and that part of the problem is inherent in the Westminster system itself. However, with the advent of the Party system with its strict discipline, the original checks and balances have been destroyed. Today, the decisions are taken in the Party room not, in the Parliament.

Hawke found it inconceivable that a form of government which originated more than seven hundred years ago in an island off the Coast of Europe is necessarily the best form of government for Australia as it moves towards the Twenty first centure1. He argued that it was questionable whether a system which originated is a device to allow the early Kings of England to receive advice from, and resolve conflicts with, their barons and boroughs, should not now be changed to make it a more effective instrument for the resolution of conflict within our society. He didn't want to wait until another Guy Fawkes decided to blow up the Parliament as almost happened 385 years ago.

He quite rightly made the point that no one should be so stupid as to assume that the 223 Senators and Members of the House of Representatives are the men and women with the best administrative capacity in the nation. That outside of Parliament, as is the case in the United States, there are men and women with Infinitely greater wisdom and competence than could be found under Westminster system when we are forced to be satisfied with the beat from a majority portion of 223 Senators and Members elected by the voters to form a Cabinet.

Hawke wanted to marry into the Westminster system a proposal to allow say, seven of the Ministerial positions to go to highly talented Australians outside the Parliament who would be required to answer questions in the Parliament, and in every other way be subservient to the demands of the people s elected Parliament. He should have gone further, and plugged for the US. Presidential system under which all members of the Cabinet are chosen from outside the Parliament, with Parliament having the tight to veto any appointment, or to dismiss a member of Cabinet lowborn the elected representatives of the people have lost faith.

He was putting the truth in its mildest form when he said that politics has to some extent been debased in Australia because government has become too remote from the people. Ministers are even more remote from the people than the back benchers, and in some cases are correctly seen as mere sycophants for the highly paid and insular bureaucrats who enjoy the isolation and pampered atmosphere of Canberra.

An Australian Prime Minister already possesses Presidential powers. In the case of a non Labor Prime Minister, he personally appoints all of his Ministers. Labor Prime Ministers personally allocate the portfolios to those elected by Caucus; but has the right without reference to Caucus, to call upon the Queen s representative to sack a Minister elected by Caucus. It would give us much better government if we had a system under which the time Minister could nominate the whole of his Cabinet from outside the Parliament, subject to Parliament s right to veto or cancel an appointment.

This would mean that if the Prime Minister decided to appoint Sir Peter Abeles as Minister for Transport: Sir Roderick Carnegie, Minister for Mining; Mr. Kerry Packer, Minister for Communications; Mr. Frank Lowy, Minister for Business Affairs; and say, Mr. Allan Border, Minister for Sport, the Parliament may very well give its whole hearted endorsement to his nominees. If it didn t, the Prime Minister would have to submit other names.

Other valid observations made by Hawke were his attack on secrecy in government and I support his call for a reduction in the number of politicians by abolishing all State and Territorial governments. Referring to the so called Public Service, Hawke nailed the lie when he accurately described the Public Service as the private service of the Minister . Even when public servants appear before Select Committees of the Parliament, they cannot be questioned or cross examined on the advice they have given their Minister. Hawke believed that the effectiveness of Parliament and the quality of Government, would improve if the present cloak of secrecy were removed.

He added:

    While it may in the first instance be met with some discomfiture by Ministers, and indeed some public servants themselves, it should be     understood there is nothing in the proposal, which intrinsically offends the Westminster concepts.

The great pity is that Prime Minister Hawke appeared to treat his Boyer Lectures as no more than an exercise in word spinning. That is a great pity because he also made a terribly powerful attack on over government in Australia. He criticised the lines drawn across the map of Australia to make us six different Colonies when we were not six different people, but one people speaking the same language, with the same culture and Christian background. These lines, he said, drawn as they were by the meanderings of early British explorers some one hundred and sixty years ago, still determine the present day structure of government in Australia thus making us the most over governed country in the whole world.

We are delinquents to ourselves and our children if we do not move to meet this crisis with a more appropriate structure, declared Hawke. He saw no justification in terms of the interests and rights of our seventeen odd million people to perpetuate such a dangerous anachronism as to need fourteen (it now fifteen) Houses of Parliament and eight (it is now nine) governments.

Each of our nine governments have their own complete set For bureaucrats, many of whom are doing the same work as those employed by the other eight governments. Altogether, we now have two million public servants on the payroll with the rest of us being taxed to the eyeballs to pay for their non contributory fully-indexed superannuation and fancy pay and perks which include private plate motor cars paid for by the tax-payers and with free petrol, registration, insurance, maintenance and parking.

Instead of being a united nation with the one economy, the one law on taxation, the one railway system, the one set of traffic laws, the one educational system, the one set of legal proceedings, the one rate of pay and conditions for wage and salary earners, the one set of laws governing privacy and the e set of laws governing gambling, etc., etc., etc., etc., we have at least six different sets of laws.

Instead of having a Parliament of 223 Members, we have fifteen different Houses of Parliament with over eight hundred Members of Parliament all drawing salaries, and all of them employing staff of as many as three per Member.

The cost in salaries, superannuation, etc., etc. of keeping two million public servants on the payroll has been put at 6O billion a year payroll, 153 billion per week! However, it would be totally unfair to designate all of our clerical and administrators the public servants as crooks and loafers. They are not!

Those who are publicly employed to build and maintain our roads and to build our bridges, construct and maintain our sewer and water supply systems and give us the myriad of other forms of physically produced utilities will still be needed.

We will still need a police force, schoolteachers, hospital staff, postal and telecom employees. We will still have to employ men and women to run our transport systems and keep us supplied in power and electricity. But we certainly will not need the same number of Ministers, Members of Parliament and paper shufflers !

Hawke s 1979 solution was to abolish all State and Territorial Governments and introduce the British two tier system of government under which there is only one Parliament in the top tier, with the second tier managed by larger local Government administration in place of the 877 Local Government bodies we now have scattered all over the continent. The boundaries of these areas would be in relevantly remarked geographical areas so that people could participate in the decision making process on all the issues appropriate to be decided at that level.

But Hawke was something like Prime Minister Menzies. He saw no need to go beyond making a great speech. He did nothing in all the years he was Prime Minister to even try to bring about the praiseworthy reforms he advocated before he entered the Parliament. Indeed, towards the end of his reign he actually put forward his New Federalism which was a revenue sharing proposal with the States which, had it been acted upon, would have gone a long way towards setting the present stupid and costly system in for ever!

The only time we look like becoming ONE NATION is when we were at war with a foreign power; but as soon as that war is finished, we declare war on each other by making different laws for the Australians who live in the different States.

The law in some States makes abortion lawful; and in others, it s a criminal offence.

A criminal who commits a crime in one State, and escapes to another State, cannot be brought to justice without a Court order the second State.

In some States all criminal trials are determined by the majority decision of a jury. In Queensland, a Jury minority of two can declare a person charged with the offence of perjury to be innocent even though ten members of a jury believe the accused to be guilty. In South Australia, a criminal can opt for a trial by Judge alone if the criminal lawyer acting for him believes he has a better chance of being declared innocent that way.

Even our road traffic laws, car registration and rules governing drivers licenses differ from State to State. Stamp duties are different in different States; and so is the tax on cigarettes, petrol, etc.

The Co-op. Building Societies in some States have to comply with certain rules to safeguard depositors funds, while in others, there are no such safeguards.

Consumer protection differs from State to State. So do the laws of defamation. Some States allow untreated sewerage to be poured into the ocean while in others it has to be treated. X rated videos can be sold, and even produced in some parts of Australia, but are quite properly prohibited in others.

The laws governing prostitution; abortion; and even rape marriage, differ from State to State.

Even the railway gauges differ from State to State. In tact, there was a time when to travel from Perth to Brisbane, One would have to change trains at Kalgoorlie, Port Pine, Albury, and make yet another change to travel from Sydney to Brisbane. It is a little better now, but it is still impossible to complete the journey without changing trains.

We have seven different laws governing Workers Compensation. The liquor laws are different; and even the law governing the deposits on empty beer bottles became the subject of a court action.

We have different rules in different States concerning the environment. And, when I was a member of the Whitlam Cabinet, learned that the common law in the A.C.T. was still anchored the old common law of England which was adopted by the Government of New South Wales when that Colony was first established nearly 200 years ago. The death penalty could apply for stealing a sheep. The law against homosexuality, pornography, prostitution and incest was different.

When Rex Connor was buried at Wollongong in August 1977, ugh Whitlam and I had to sign a special certificate to authorise the burial, because he died in the A.C.T.

I could go on and on, but I ve given enough examples of the stupidity that is born from having eight State and Territorial governments doing all the things that could be done more efficiently and much, much cheaper, and in a uniform way, than having eight different rules for the people of the ONE NATION.

I had intended to spell out the salaries, allowances, etc., Paid to each head of government and to each Minister, Leader of be Opposition, Speaker, Chairman of Committee, Government and Opposition Whip, Committee Member, Clerk of the House and Council, Hansard staff, etc., etc., etc. of each of those eight State and Territorial Parliaments.

To that burden must be added the salaries of the hundreds of senior Executives who service the eight separate sets of Departments that would all be abolished when we become ONE NATION.

So far, I have been unable to get a satisfactory response from those best able to give that information. They either don t know, or are too ashamed to reveal those costs to someone who threatens to tell the electorate just how much of its taxes are swallowed up in meeting the cost of our rulers salaries, electoral allowances, the running costs of the tens of thousands of private plate motor cars supplied to public servants, superannuation, overseas trips, etc., and the ever so much greater cost of keeping two million bureaucrats on the public pay roll.

Duplication, triplication, and even quadruplication of paper shuffling by highly paid public servants is a common occurrence; and, in some cases it is sextupled!

The cost of this stupidity has now reached mountainous proportions and it will continue to grow unless we can persuade the media to blow the whistle on what is happening. One third of the whole workforce, I repeat, is already on the public pay roll. I want the media to tell the electorate what this nonsense represents to each Australian in extra taxation.

Natural attrition will not be a satisfactory way of getting rid of the hundreds of thousands of public servants who will no longer be needed when Australia becomes ONE NATION. That surplus must be dismissed! If they are allowed to remain on the payroll they will quickly legitimise overstaffing and thus create the climate for continuing the current practice of empire building, work duplication, cheating on flexitime, workers compensation~ and the host of other rorts that now plague the system.

Another evil that needs to be addressed is the extent to which decision makers are being influenced by lobbyists.

Lobbyists, who now call themselves Consultants are required to register the names of their clients; but not even the Parliamentary back benchers (much less the general public) are permitted to see who pays whom, the fancy fees for persuading political parties, politicians and public servants to favour the pecuniary interests of those who employ these Consultants . That register must be thrown open for all to see so that when a lobbyist presses a particular point of view, the decision maker concerned, will be able to make an assessment on how much of his logic is due to the lollies his boss has put in his brief case.

There is one simple rule for decision makers to remember and that is this: It is not necessary to bribe a person to do that, which is right. It is only when a person is asked to do that which is wrong, and can't be supported by logic that bribery becomes necessary.

Those who are guilty of offering or asking for a bribe; and who give, or receive a bribe, must be sent to jail and have whole of their property and assets confiscated; with the proviso that the first party to the crime who blows the whistle the other, shall be given a complete immunity from prosecution conditional upon him revealing all the relevant facts when the other party is standing trial.

An additional measure must be the abolition of permanency for any public servant who engages in a go-slow strike, working to regulations, or going on strike altogether. Whenever a public servant is found to be a flexitime cheat, he or she must suffer blatant dismissal with the forfeiture of all accrued leave entitlements. And, special protection must be accorded to whistle blowers who expose the various forms of cheating in the hilt Service.

Not satisfied with the exorbitant pay and perks they already receive, public servants are now demanding an 8 per cent across the-board salary increase with no associated job losses. They are demanding new redeployment provisions, and even higher redundancy payments. They are also demanding that it be compulsory for Government Departments to collect union dues from every public servant s pay packet.  

The Keating Government has already caved-in to some of the Public Service Union s demands. For example, it has agreed to live the Senior Executive Service wide pay rises with the right to exercise an option of accepting those rises, or retaining their current performance pay system, or receiving the department/agency negotiated pay rise. And on top of this, the public servants will receive pay rises based on cost of living increases.

But Prime Minister Paul Keating, is entitled to full marks or his ONE NATION statement to the Parliament on 26 February 1992, which he pledged his Government to give this nation rail, road and sea services, which will serve, us better and bind us together as ONE NATION. He wants to take the opportunity to build rail, roads, ports, electricity grids, air terminals, waste management plants, colleges and more schools.

Paul Keating put his position beautifully when he summed up e effect of his proposals as being designed to Make our Continent smaller and our NATION greater .

I am glad I can conclude this address with a genuine ray of hope that one day Australia will be ONE NATION instead of SEVEN States.