Monday 27 September 2010

Wild Rivers Unplugged. Part 1 – The Numbers

The Wild Rivers debate will emerge as a hot potato as the new Federal Parliament sits this week for the first time. In a three-part series, Bryan Law reviews where we are at with this important legislation, poised to have dramatic effect on the northern Cape York Aboriginal communities.

Now we know who was elected to Parliament and who among them enjoys the conditional confidence of the House. What will our government look like? How will it behave? What does Prime Minister KillHard intend?

In the Senate
Senate numbers until July 1 2011 remain:
- 5 Greens
- 32 ALP
- 1 Xenophon
- 1 FF
- 1 CLP
- 32 Liberal
- 4 National

From 1 July 2011 the numbers will be:
- 9 Greens
- 31 ALP
- 1 Xenophon
- 1 DLP
- 34 LNP

So in July next year, the Senate will move from a Coalition dominated organ, to one in which a Labor/Green alliance can prevail any time the majors are split on policy. Meanwhile the Coalition can use the Senate to restrain any government “excesses” until July 2011.

In the House
- 72 Labor, 1 Green,
- 1 Wilkie
- 2 Country Freethinkers
- 1 Country Old thinker
- 72 LNP

All of which apparently makes for stable government under the kinder, gentler leadership of Prime Minister KillHard.


So Labor continues to enjoy all the powers and benefits of executive authority and incumbency, provided it can maintain an effective mutual relationship with the Australian Greens (not easy) AND the Country Freethinkers (tee hee hee!), at the same time!

And to think this is a job Ms KillHard wants (would in fact kill for, sorry Kevin). Good luck!

Still the promise is on for a better standard of government, including question time and private member bills. Initially it will be the Greens and Independents who use the democratic space to promote policy debate. But increasingly ALL MPs will be asking themselves how best to achieve real outcomes through the Parliament for their constituents.

“Real outcomes” is more and more the demand of constituents. There are three combinations of voting that can get a piece of legislation up in the House. The two majors agree OR either major gets support from four out of six small cannon.

When seeking Parliamentary action, there is now a wider variety of starting points and pathways to success. We constituents had best be using and building electoral and lobbying power if we’re going to hold the following bozoes to account:

- Prime Minister, Julia KillHard
- Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch
- Kennedy Independent MP, BobKat
- Councillor Alan Blake
- Cairns MP Desley Boyle (or her successor Tim Grau)
- Cairns Regional Council Mayor, Val Schier

How do we hold the Bozoes to account? How can we as citizens ensure that Parliament enacts the will of the people, according to our democratic values and desires?

The first thing to notice is the flexibility of decision-making now possible. I’m particularly impressed by the potential of Greens/Country alliance. We’ve seen that alliance emerge around coal seam gas extraction on the Darling Downs and Traveston dam on the Mary River. What could be more natural in this context than BobKat and renewable energy?

So, keeping an open mind, I’m going to have a look at one issue close to my heart. The Wild Rivers Act of the Blight Queensland government, and the need to replace it with an Act that recognises and honours the Aboriginal custodians of those wild rivers.


Hingehead said...

What sort of child resorts to nicknames and name calling, and expects to be taken seriously? Oh, right... a very deluded one.

MattCYP said...

A rational discussion about Wild Rivers would be welcome.

My own view, as a CYP landholder directly involved in the management of ecologically significant country, and also involved the delivery of employment and welfare programs, is that it is not the Wild Rivers legislation that is the problem.

Reasonable aspirations of landholders, indigenous and others, are constrained by govt policy, State and Federal, in all regions of CYP - Wild Rivers has not, from my reading of it, introduced any additional limits that would preclude sustainable development initiatives.

In contrast, Wild Rivers declaration did protect the pristine Wenlock River from a very destructive bauxite mining proposal - we should all be glad of that.

There is the potential to have a productive discussion that canvasses all the issues and helps to inform the wider public, but this won't happen if blog posters indulge in childish name calling and political pointscoring.

Indeed, the main problem we face in having an objective discussion about Wild Rivers, is that it has become the subject of a partisan struggle between Labor and the Coalition, and that can only result in the details and realities of the situation on CYP being obscured and distorted by simplistic sloganeering and cynical opportunism.

I hope, Bryan, that you discontinue using perjorative names like "Killhard" - it adds nothing to the debate and simply creates the impression that this is more about shouting abuse, than it is about having an objective, helpful discussion.

I look forward to reading tomorrow's post.

lets be accountable said...

Your list of accountable MPs is interesting -don't we have a local Senator?? I think her name is Jan Mcmissing or something similar-she never seems to get a mention anywhere by anyone!

Bryan Law said...

MattCYP, for you, anything. I've edited the following two parts of this story. No more Blights and Killhards, although I've left BobKat in 'cos I don't think he'll mind.

You'll see tomorrow where I try and put "Wild Rivers" into perspective, but right now its emblematic of a certain arrogance and disregard from our state government. What is so hard about a decent, fair process of consultation and problem-solving?

Lets be accountable - you're right, I forgot about Jan completely, but then she lives in Canberra now doesn't she?

lets be accountable said...

Bryan I think you will find that Jan got herself into a little bit of trouble re claiming living away from home allowance -whilst living in Canberra -she must be around Cairns somewhere. Every politician needs to be accountable on this important issue -whereever you stand on the rights or wrongs of the legislation.

Syd Walker said...

'Don't rush me on wild rivers, Tony Windsor warns' - that's according to the nation's most reliable and reputable 'news source (only joking :-))

Read the whole piece here.

"...Mr Windsor told The Australian the Coalition could not count on his support on this, or any other, issue if it moved too hastily, because he would not be supporting any "whiz-bang ideas".

"They will all have to go slow rather than fast; otherwise, I will stay safe and vote against it," Mr Windsor said.

"It is a lesson that I learnt from the previous (NSW) hung parliament. If people are genuine about an issue, they will give everybody time to digest it and consider it; otherwise, they will just lose the vote."

"Fellow NSW independent Rob Oakeshott said he had not yet formed his position on the issue, and the success of a Coalition bill would depend on getting parliamentary reforms through first."

Syd Walker said...

Interesting read on the wild rivers issue in today's Drum by Glenn Walker, Wild Rivers campaigner with the Queensland branch of the Wilderness Society: Political opportunism trumps good public policy.

Cameron U. said...

I visit this site regularly.

I support the mission of Cairns Blog. I love the alternative views that are given here.

But am I the only one who is sick of Bryan Law piggybacking to get some attention?

He comments on everything and brown noses to MM to get free coverage. MM's readers are not supporters of BL.

He is a non entity operating on the margins. Why is he given such a high profile on here?

U. Cameron said...

I hardly ever visit this site.

I'm sick of Bryan Law because he doesn't toe the ALP line or call himself progressive.

I can't argue very well on the facts though.

So I'll just say he's a blubbering sackfull of guts and bad breath, and his kind of thinking ought be banned from everywhere.

Is that good enough Desley?