A question for politicians

Gary Johns is one of the more sensible people you’ll ever meet. He is also a former ALP federal cabinet minister. These days he writes magnificent books and a must-read column in The Australian. Today (as on many previous days) he is putting the boot into s18c. Then there is this snippet (that I knew but now he has confessed).

I have to confess that I was a member of the federal parliamentary Labor Party caucus that voted for 18C. I opposed it in caucus and supported it in the parliament.

So many politicians (and former politicians too) seem to think that opposing something in the party room but voting for it in the parliament is okay. Or speaking against some or other legislation but then voting for it is okay.

It isn’t.

If a law is bad enough to oppose in the party room or speak against  on the floor of the parliament, don’t vote for it.

Now I understand that Gary was a member of the ALP and they never vote against the party line in the parliament (one reason why I can never support ALP MPs even when I’m assured by people I trust that they are closet libertarians/Hayekians etc.) and was bound by party rules – but there are Liberal MPs that I know who do the same thing.

To reiterate –  Gary has been a vocal and vehement critic of 18c and it may be somewhat unfair to single him out, but it is very frustrating to see sensible people voting for rubbish legislation in the parliament when you know full well they know it is rubbish.

Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.

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74 Responses to A question for politicians

  1. Cui bono

    Yes. A crucial flaw in the collective.

  2. herodotus

    That party has many flaws, and belonging to it for an extended period is not a recommendation. It’s always good to see, however, that a few of them can and do speak more sensibly in their post-political period. One must be thankful for small mercies.
    By contrast you have Conroy, who last night was typically outrageous on Bolt’s show.

  3. King Koala

    Gary Johns is one of the more sensible people you’ll ever meet. He is also a former ALP federal cabinet minister.

    The second sentence disproves the first.

  4. How you vote is more important than what you say.

    Listen up, snowflakes!

    Actions speak louder than words.

  5. Robbo

    “Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.”

    Why do they do it? Try self interest for a starter. Putting your principles away to protect your Party endorsement, and therefore your continuation as an elected MP, is more important. Some might label such people as cowards, liars or worthless individuals. They’d be right.

  6. Phill

    Did he consider and decide based on the views of the people of his electorate?
    Did he consider and decide based on what would be best for Australia?
    No. He ran with the party room consensus.
    The party is far more important than the people.

  7. Brett

    If a law is bad enough to oppose in the party room or speak against on the floor of the parliament, don’t vote for it.

    If only because it is now so difficult to repeal a contentious law, even a dysfunctional law like 18C.

  8. Pingback: A question for politicians | Catallaxy Files | Cranky Old Crow

  9. A Lurker

    Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.

    Another self-serving politician, colour me surprised. Not.

  10. He’s on a rather generous Parliamentary Pension too, isn’t he?got his snout nicely in the trough.
    Wouldn’t trust him out of site on a dark night. Of course he can pretend to be whatever he chooses now.
    Yet Prof. Sinclair writes him a hagiography.
    Can’t figure that one out.

  11. Rabz

    I opposed it in caucus and supported it in the parliament.

    labor politicians are compelled to vote as an unwavering bloc in parliament, so I don’t see what the issue is here – it’s completely unsurprising. I can’t imagine the changes to the RDA that gave us 18c were presented to allow a “conscience vote”.

  12. Tim Neilson

    Rabz
    #2333502, posted on March 22, 2017 at 9:39 am

    I agree. If someone goes to an election on a platform of “I’m an endorsed ALP candidate” they are effectively campaigning as “I’m a jellyfish who will vote whatever way the bruvvers tell me to do”, and if the voters elect them they aren’t doing anything wrong by conforming to their election platform.

    Same applies to the Coalition., or any other party which has a conventional party room system.

  13. testpattern

    ‘It may be somewhat unfair to single him out’

    Aw shucks I’ll do it then.

    Johns is murdochs pet dalek.

    He can’t go around screaming ‘exterminate exterminate’ so he screams ‘Ass-im-il-ate you-will-be-ass-im-il-a-ted’

  14. OneWorldGovernment

    then take back the money for votes legislation and let us destroy the 2 party vote system

  15. Elizabeth (Libby) Zee

    If Johns was a Cabinet Minister at the time of the introduction of Section 18C, whether he spoke for or against it in the Party Room, he was bound by the collective responsibility tradition (Cabinet Solidarity) that applies to governments of all persuasions, and had to vote for it in the House. Clearly, he didn’t feel strongly enough about it to either resign from Cabinet and or the Ministry, or to cross the floor.

    As Neal Blewett wrote of him: … “a laid-back MP with a laid-back program” … “Gary was interested only in photo opportunities”.

  16. stackja

    Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.

    ALP demands party line.

  17. struth

    A man that’ll go to the grave knowing he did more harm than good.
    He can write all he likes, (which he is not doing for free), it doesn’t excuse him.
    Voting against freedom, which cannot survive without freedom of speech, will be his legacy to the world.

  18. Des Deskperson

    I had a bit to do with Gary Johns in the last year of the second Keating Ministry. He was a former geography teacher who backed Keating in December 1991 and was rewarded with minor portfolio – I don’t think he was ever in Cabinet.

    I discerned neither intelligence, articulateness or depth of knowledge in Johns when managing his portfolio and I have always been surprised – well, gobsmacked – at the lucidity and logic with which he writes now, even if I don’t agree with all of it I guess my judgement must have been poor.

  19. H B Bear

    Another ALP politician who has his road to Damascus moment only once he leaves his union paymasters.

    Give me a break.

  20. H B Bear

    The Left have always been very comfortable with hypocrisy. In fact it is a daily tool of trade.

  21. Recent Historian

    Serious question for any Legal Eagles.

    Does talking about, reading a book about, or carrying symbols of The Resurrection. Breach 18C?

  22. Recent Historian

    I guess the fact that I even have to ask the question is instructive.

  23. I agree. If someone goes to an election on a platform of “I’m an endorsed ALP candidate” they are effectively campaigning as “I’m a jellyfish who will vote whatever way the bruvvers tell me to do”, and if the voters elect them they aren’t doing anything wrong by conforming to their election platform.

    Same applies to the Coalition., or any other party which has a conventional party room system.

    Sad but true, Tim. Which is why attempting to change the system from within the system, is a pointless exercise. People can join their local branch of Whichever Party and know from the outset that their efforts will make SFA difference.

    The unions decide how Labor votes, and the crony capitalists (Textor, Photios et al) decide for the Liberals. In both cases the actual nuts and bolts of implementation are decided by the Canberra Mandarins running the public service.

  24. Anonandon

    I have to disagree here regardless of the merits of this particular law. What is the point of being in a party if everyone just goes and votes how they want on every issue. It’s bad enough negotiating with the cross benchers. Imagine having to do it with every single member of your own party. If you lose the argument in caucus then bad luck. Thats life.

  25. Old School Conservative

    I have always been surprised – well, gobsmacked – at the lucidity and logic with which he writes now

    Obama’s ghostwriter must have a second job.

  26. Joe

    labor politicians are compelled to vote as an unwavering bloc in parliament

    Isn’t it a crime to compel a MP or senator to vote?

  27. Joe

    Sadly, Political Parties are not mentioned anywhere in the Australian Constitution, but they are the driving forces of our dysfunctional government. Maybe they should be brought to heel by judicious application of the laws governing the interference with MP’s and Senators.

  28. The problem with the whole Racial Vilification Act emanates from the post-war decision of western nations to sign up to various treaties and declarations made by the United Nations.

    As a consequence we have been saddled with legislation which endorses western guilt and self-loathing, invites exploitation, and generally creates disharmony.

    God only knows how we will ever rid ourselves of this binding agreements. The plight of 18C illustrates the difficulty of even modifying the damned agreements.

  29. Malcolm

    Why blame Gary Johns for something done in 1995? Why not criticise John Howard who had a double majority from 2004 to 2007 and could have repealed the whole section if he wanted to. What a squandered opportunity.

  30. Roger

    I discerned neither intelligence, articulateness or depth of knowledge in Johns when managing his portfolio and I have always been surprised – well, gobsmacked – at the lucidity and logic with which he writes now, even if I don’t agree with all of it I guess my judgement must have been poor.

    Or Johns has had an epiphany since leaving parliament.

  31. alexnoaholdmate

    What is the point of having political parties if you cannot know what the party stands for? If each member can make their own way on every political topic, how can you have government?

    Oppose something vehemently in the party room, sure. But accept that if the party – YOUR party, the one you chose to join of your own free will, aware of all the rules – makes a decision, you stand by it together.

    I am willing to make an exception for matters of religious conscience, such as same sex marriage and abortion, where one believes they simply cannot support a bill without imperilling their soul. But even then, you must press the party room first to allow for a conscience vote before taking the matter into your own hands.

  32. struth

    Why blame Gary Johns for something done in 1995? Why not criticise John Howard who had a double majority from 2004 to 2007 and could have repealed the whole section if he wanted to. What a squandered opportunity.

    Why not criticise them all?
    This article was written by Sinc about party hacks.
    Gary Johns has admitted he was one.
    That doesn’t let him off the hook.
    He is just an example to look at regards the true discussion point of the post.

  33. Rob MW

    Bit like the retired pollies from the Howard era that condemn the supreme overreach of laws like the EPBC Act (Howard) and the National Heritage Trust Act (Howard), the National Environment Council Protection Act 1994 (Hawke – Agenda 21 – UN) that makes it so the Commonwealth can do indirectly what it cannot do directly by bribing the States with bilateral agreements, that are not legislated by the States thereby avoiding the constitutional guarantee of ‘Just Terms’.

    What is curious is that it has in fact the Liberals who have been the biggest, yet post politics regretful, private property thieves this country has and will ever see. At least private property theft is part of the ALP communist platform, that’s their principle and all property owners know this from the get go, but for the Liberals/Nat’s to not disclose that they have adopted more than this ALP principle is disgusting and shameful, but rest assured, they are regretful post politics.

  34. Des Deskperson

    “The problem with the whole Racial Vilification Act emanates from the post-war decision of western nations to sign up to various treaties and declarations made by the United Nations.”

    Vicki, we are one of the few countries that seems to take this sh*t seriously.

    Take the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women:

    http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/cedaw/text/econvention.htm

    Article 2 – policy measures – is considered to be the key article of the Convention, but here’s Bangladesh’s ‘reservation’, presented as part of its ratification of the Convention:

    “The Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh does not consider as binding upon itself the provisions of article 2, […] as they conflict with Sharia law based on Holy Quran and Sunna.”

    In other words Bangladesh – among many other Islamic states, has told the UN, for all practical purposes, to stuff off. But it hasn’t been punished and it can still truthfully boast that it has ratified the Convention.

  35. Philippa Martyr

    I occasionally meet earnest young practising Catholics who think that by joining the ALP they can ‘reform it from within’.

    Not bloody likely.

  36. Rob MW

    Not bloody likely.

    Well said. If only Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had joined the Nazi Party they could have prevented World War II.

  37. Tintarella di Luna

    I occasionally meet earnest young practising Catholics who think that by joining the ALP they can ‘reform it from within’.

    Not bloody likely.

    Philippa I spoke to a devout and earnest Catholic who launched the book of essays Making Australia Right who says he’s staying with the Liberal party to change it from within — a Jesuit education does have its shortcomings I guess.

  38. Philippa Martyr

    Philippa I spoke to a devout and earnest Catholic who launched the book of essays Making Australia Right who says he’s staying with the Liberal party to change it from within — a Jesuit education does have its shortcomings I guess.

    Well, he did a good job of reforming the Liberal Party from within, didn’t he.

    NOT.

  39. Philippa Martyr

    Well said. If only Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin had joined the Nazi Party they could have prevented World War II.

    Neville Chamberlain practically did, and look how well that turned out.

  40. Tintarella di Luna

    to sign up to various treaties and declarations made by the United Nations.”

    The only chart the SS United Nations and all who sail in her should follow is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unfortunately the UN has allowed the pointy-hatted gnomes to take over the tinkering — just have a look at the proliferations of Conventions which are basically conceits of the gnome class created of nihilist snake sweat and acrid alchemy

  41. Roger

    I occasionally meet earnest young practising Catholics who think that by joining the ALP they can ‘reform it from within’.

    Not bloody likely.

    The ALP is a whited sepulchre inhabited by demons.

    They should leave it well alone if they take their salvation seriously.

  42. Tintarella di Luna

    Well, he did a good job of reforming the Liberal Party from within, didn’t he.

    Hmmm yerrrs and look at it now!!! Deplored by the Deplorables, despised by the delcons and abandoned by those who once believed it represented small government and small business. Fie on them

  43. Tintarella di Luna

    They should leave it well alone if they take their salvation seriously.

    Do you think that’s why Stephen Conroy left, he saw it as the only path to salvation? Too late Stephen — you’re on Beelzeebub’s Roll Call

  44. In other words Bangladesh – among many other Islamic states, has told the UN, for all practical purposes, to stuff off. But it hasn’t been punished and it can still truthfully boast that it has ratified the Convention.

    Agreed Des D.

    It is going to take an extraordinary turnaround in the thinking of western nations to admit that we have been “taken for a ride” by the UN. But while we are fighting a rear guard action against the Left to concede the least little retraction – such as a couple of words in 18C – what bloody hope have we???

    Meanwhile the Islamic nations like Bangladesh have it sown up – AND get away with it.

    Where do we start???

  45. Philippa Martyr

    The ALP is a whited sepulchre inhabited by demons.

    They should leave it well alone if they take their salvation seriously.

    Do you know, Roger, I have said such things very vigorously, but they have merely hissed at me, ‘Keep your voice down! We’re in church! You’re supposed to be listening to the sermon!’

    This could be because they sit several pews away from me, so perhaps I did have to raise my voice somewhat.

  46. Rebel with cause

    Never worked in sales and had to sell something that you’d already told the bosses was a dud?

    Everyone is a hypocrite in their own way.

  47. sfw

    Johns Mark Latham just another pair in the conga line of spineless politicians who do what they know is wrong, leave and get their super then suddenly develop a desire for truth.

  48. Malcolm

    And where was the IPA et al back in 2004 to 2007 when they could have urged the Howard Government to repeal 18C

  49. TP

    Comment from another blog
    Little-known fact: Malcolm Turnbull sabotaged party room consensus when Tony Abbott tried to reform 18C in 2014.
    Peta Credlin on Paul Murray Live last night:
    “The most vociferous person in the Coalition against changes to 18C was Malcolm Turnbull. Yes, there were windbags like Craig Laundy in the party room, but Malcolm Turnbull fought very very hard against it. I think made it very difficult for Tony to progress it.”

  50. dweezy2176

    And when all is said and done ….. the “gravy train” is the rails runner who never gets beat .. no politician (useful word to describe nonentities) is going to risk his troughin’ for such a minor thing as self esteem … snouts in the trough’ not ideals pays the bills and ensures the “retirement” all pollies aspire to!

  51. Dr Faustus

    “The most vociferous person in the Coalition against changes to 18C was Malcolm Turnbull. Yes, there were windbags like Craig Laundy in the party room, but Malcolm Turnbull fought very very hard against it. I think made it very difficult for Tony to progress it.”

    Consistent to a fault, that Michael Trumble. It was a well-executed Reverse Gary Johns with Pike on display there: loudly oppose something in private, then engage in a little white-anting in public.

    One can only assume Scott Morrison has been told that “This issue doesn’t create one job, doesn’t open one business, doesn’t give anyone one extra hour of work” is no longer in the script.

  52. iampeter

    Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.

    No principles.

  53. Up The Workers!

    “… it is very frustrating to see sensible people voting for rubbish legislation in the parliament when you know full well they know it is rubbish.

    Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.”

    Why do it?

    Because RUBBISH LEGISLATION comes from RUBBISH PARTIES.

    STUPID LAWS come from STUPID PEOPLE.

  54. Fisky

    I discerned neither intelligence, articulateness or depth of knowledge in Johns when managing his portfolio and I have always been surprised – well, gobsmacked – at the lucidity and logic with which he writes now, even if I don’t agree with all of it I guess my judgement must have been poor.

    The act of leaving the Labor caucus instantly adds 15 IQ points to most MPs.

  55. Fisky

    I really don’t understand why we tolerate this deranged, hate-filled cult that is ruining everything. Labor, the Greens, NXT, they are all the same – a bunch of nasty haters who despise their own country.

  56. Boambee John

    I once had a dig at my local (ALP, but I didn’t vote for him) MHR, asking him if it might not be better to consider proposals on their merits.

    His response? Words to the effect that “If I had wanted to make up my own mind on these matters, I would not have joined the ALP”.

    Ex senator, later moved to the Reps in the ACT, Bob McMullan.

    Idiot to the umpteenth power.

  57. Boambee John

    Joe at 1119

    That will only occur if private prosecutions are allowed.

    Until then ALL members of the club will protect each other.

  58. Sock worsted wool.

    It isn’t the Nation I shed blood for before those sea hunts were out of school.*

    *Uh. Not mine and if I were still fit I would do it again.Where are the keyboard worriers?

  59. Bruce

    Why do they do it?

    Who wants to wake up with a horses head in the bed beside you?

    Or, is that some other “disciplined” organization?

  60. Boambee John

    Sock,

    Wasn’t there a TV series back in the 1960s called “Sea Hunt”? A young Lloyd Bridges iirc.

    If so, I was too young and naive then to pick up the pun.

  61. Malcolm

    Credlin is a disgrace. Abbott backed off 18c bacause she ordered him to do so.

  62. Diogenes

    Even more dishonest is standing at an election for a party whose one and only trooley rooley policy you oppose – yes I am looking at you Trent & Tim and all the other deviants pushing for a parliamentary vote instead of plebiscite

  63. Mark M

    Arthur Sinodinos likens climate change denial to anti-vaxxers, pushes for more science

    “Denying the threat of climate change is a well-worn example …
    We see the conclusions of experts being cast aside, in favour of ideological positions and selective use of facts.
    “The only credible response to these positions is scientific fact, and more research, and more innovative thinking.
    “Increasingly, there has emerged a lack of respect for the scientific method in some quarters,” notes prepared for his speech say.”
    http://www.afr.com/news/politics/arthur-sinodinos-likens-climate-change-denial-to-antivaxxers-pushes-for-more-science-20170321-gv34sm
    What, like Alan Finkel?:
    “Earlier today, Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, publicly compared US President Donald Trump to former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Science, he says “is literally under attack” in America.”
    https://nofrakkingconsensus.com/2017/02/06/trump-stalin-fake-news/

  64. Harald

    Now I understand that Gary was a member of the ALP and they never vote against the party line in the parliament (one reason why I can never support ALP MPs even when I’m assured by people I trust that they are closet libertarians/Hayekians etc.) and was bound by party rules – but there are Liberal MPs that I know who do the same thing.

    Instead of ragging on Gary – pointlessly, since he can no longer vote – why not call out those Liberals who can vote.
    Why don’t you call out those Liberals know who are doing this?

    Why do it? How you vote is more important than what you say.

    C’mon Sinc… Try a bit harder. You know why.
    The ambition to be on the frontbench, or that committee they really want to be on, the influence & power, the ego’s, etc.. They are just advancing their careers.

  65. 2dogs

    The ambition to be on the frontbench, or that committee they really want to be on, the influence & power, the ego’s, etc.. They are just advancing their careers.

    Career politicians have a lot to answer for. We should stop paying our pollies altogether.

  66. Jessie

    +1 Fisky

    Des Deskperson @ 10.44
    I have always been surprised – well, gobsmacked – at the lucidity and logic with which he writes now
    Old School Conservative @ 11:14 am
    Obama’s ghostwriter must have a second job.
    Fisky @ 3.55
    The act of leaving the Labor caucus instantly adds 15 IQ points to most MPs.

    Incredible what freedom(of speech) can do for an individual, clan/tribe, community, nation.

  67. Ahhhh Harald you old lefty puppet you. Cheers for the laugh.

  68. Jessie

    Novalip @9.47
    re your Quadrant link.

    Not sure that Fred Chaney as quoted by Izzard, has done any good at all on the Aboriginal front, along with many other hypocrites.
    Crossing the floor is the stuff of which parliamentary heroes are made.
    Fred Chaney (1994
    )

    In March 2009, Dr Peter McMahon of Murdoch University stated: “Politics is now replete with careerists who lack the education, training, and political character to deal with issues of substance.” If you add to this the strangulation of views and opinions of people* who claim to represent the views and wishes of their electorate , the parliament does become a complete farce.
    Quadrant link to Izzard you provided
    * presumably self-identifiers of gender, colour, race and faiths……………………………. who claim to represent electorates, tribes and communities?

  69. Dr Fred Lenin

    Not all career politicians are miserable lying cheating,self seeking corrupt selfish mongrels ,only 99.9 percent fit that description . Ban career politics curb political organisations by draconian laws sort of like their 18c ,the C is for control ,they love that .

  70. gabrianga

    Arthur Sinodinos likens climate change denial to anti-vaxxers, pushes for more science

    Is this the Sinodinos who was once was employed by one of the world’s biggest investors in “alternative energies” Goldman Sachs ?

    Yes indeed.The very same outfit Turnbull headed up as Chairman in Australia.

    Comrades in arms?

  71. Eyrie

    If there isn’t already there ought to be a law making it a crime (10 years in the slammer) to induce, threaten or take any action whatsoever against a member of Parliament (including Senate) for voting in any particular way in Parliament.

  72. AlanR

    The title of this blog is “A question for politicians.” Perhaps I’m making the awful assumption that that means all the people who sit in parliament and pass laws. It’s sad to see quite a number of respondents who seem to ignore that their favorite side of politics have, over the years, done exactly the same thing (for a myriad of reasons and ‘excuses’) as Gary Johns has done. The question in discussion lays bare the glaring deficiency of party politics rather than true representational democracy.

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