Wednesday 21 November 2007

Anyone for Chartism?

I don’t know much about history, but I do like the Chartists.

Any English popular movement that puts the frighteners on the Royals, making them skip off to the Isle of Wight for an unscheduled holiday, is a cut above ‘yer average radical riffraff.

That’s people power in action!

It’s worth bearing in mind the key demands of the Chartists as we approach yet another election based largely on principles they espoused:

The People's Charter outlined a few major demands for reform. These were:

1/ Institution of a secret ballot

2/ General elections be held annually

3/ Members of Parliament not be required to own property

4/ MPs be paid a salary

5/ Electoral districts of equal size

6/ Universal male suffrage

Items 1, 3, 4, 5 and 6 – all deemed radical at the time – have long been standard practice, in Australia and other self-styled democracies. Sistas can rejoice that item 6 has, thanks mainly thanks to their efforts, been exceeded!

Unfortunately, item 2 got forgotten somewhere along the line.

It’s a pity, because this continues to scare off good people, who might actually get elected, from the idea of running at all.

A few weeks ago, on a rare foray into the flood-prone swamp lands, I met Sue Cory at a dinner event in Cairns. It was a Greens dinner, and there was a toast for Senate candidate Larissa Waters. All present wished her electoral success. I made a twit of myself by wishing Sue luck in the seat of Leichhardt. She looked horrified at the very suggestion she might win.

Dr Cory might be more amenable to a 12 month stint in Canberra – allowing a return to medical practice and family before she (and they) forgot who she is.

Australians grumble about the farce political elites make of ‘our’ democracy, but we keep voting as though our future should be entrusted only to ‘pros’.

Anyone for Chartism?
- by CairnsBlog contributing writer Sid Walker

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