The Australian election on May 18 was one of the most significant in the nation’s history.
The choice was simple: either to continue with a relatively sound Liberal-National government under Prime Minister Scott Morrison or plunge into a suicidal downward spiral presided over by a Labor Party under Bill Shorten, locked into an alliance that dare not speak its name with the cultural Marxist Greens.
The commentariat, politicians, and pollsters were overwhelmingly united in predicting an inevitable Labor-Greens victory; only a very few dissented.
Australians seemed doomed to becoming, if not the Venezuela, the Argentina of the South Seas.
The comparison with Argentina is highly relevant. When the six self-governing colonies which straddled the continent were united into one nation on the very first day of the 20th Century, Australia and Argentina were, on a per capita basis, probably the richest countries in the world. Since then, Australia has remained an advanced democracy making a significant and disproportionate contribution in the defence of freedom, especially in the world wars; Argentina has not.
As the election approached, unease and gloom swept the land as hardworking Australians, those in small business, farmers, and especially self-funded retirees were caricatured as modern Kulaks coming from ‘the big end of town’ and enjoying their ill-gotten gains on their yachts.
Those few who dared ask about the costs of Labor’s extremist plans to reduce CO2 emissions were dismissed as ‘cave dwellers’ and ‘knuckle draggers.’ Even to ask about the cost of this was labelled ‘stupid, ‘dumb,’’ and ‘dishonest.’
The Labor-Greens clearly decided that their divisive language and radical program would prove popular with Australians who receive most of their information from left-leaning TV networks.
Fortunately, Australians have a disdain for political games and for most politicians. And including this election, they rarely resort to the violence and disruption that is common in some countries, even those as advanced as France.
Had the electorate chosen the Labor-Greens, I warned without intending any exaggeration, that Australians would have put in place a “government of thieves, thugs, and constitutional vandals.”
They would be thieves because they planned to seize without compensation the refunds of dividend tax prepaid by corporations that are relied upon principally by frugal self-funded retirees who were trying to avoid claiming a taxpayer-funded pension.
This was only a part of the Labor-Greens plan to increase taxes and costs by billions of dollars. The largest new costs were to be incurred through policies that would have resulted in the closing down of CO2 emitting industries and activities.
Australians were to be forced to buy electric cars in a vast, empty continent where, on some roads, gas stations are few and far between. When asked how long it would take to recharge an electric car, Shorten replied, “Eight to ten minutes,” thus demonstrating that little work had been done on the proposal.
How pointless this draconian policy is can be easily demonstrated by the fact that China’s annual increase in emissions equals the total amount of Australian emissions. Even if everything were closed down, admitted the chief scientist, there would be no effect whatsoever on the world’s temperatures. So, asked seasoned observers, why sign what is in effect a national suicide note?
As to being a government of thugs, Shorten planned to remove restraints on the illegal activities of the nation’s most militant unions.
And as to constitutional vandalism, Shorten planned to turn Australia into some secret form of republic beginning with a method, which if not against the letter is seriously against the spirit of the Constitution. For all intents and purposes, Australia is already a republic; a crowned republic. As the preamble to the Australian Constitution reads, the people of the several states had agreed to unite into an “indissoluble Federal Commonwealth under the Crown.” A ‘commonwealth’ is of course the English word for ‘republic.’
As such, Australia enjoys all of the desirable features of a republican government and a constitutional monarchy, including an Australian as head of state in the governor-general, without any disadvantages of either system.
The great danger and disadvantage of Australian republicanism is not so much the time and money spent on it, or even the distraction it is for not-so-competent politicians from the matters they should be dealing with. It is that their dream is to impose not a real republic based, say, on the American model, but to increase their discredited control over the nation. Their republicanism is fake and nothing to do with a republic.
In fact, the model that was put to the people and overwhelmingly rejected in the 1999 referendum would have done away with crucial constitutional checks and balances assured by our system. It would have installed the only republic not only in the world, but in all human history, in which the prime minister could have dismissed the president without notice, without grounds, and without a right of appeal. It would have turned the president into the prime minister’s plaything and nothing more than his puppet.
The question facing Australia now is whether Scott Morrison in victory has learned from Donald Trump‘s example. This is that a country must be governed in its sovereign interests and not for the benefit of some cosmopolitan elite according to some model for world governance.
To achieve the Trumpian ideal, Morrison must first abandon being bound to damage the economy because of the increasingly discredited theory of man-made global warming. This has already led to Australia’s transition from enjoying among the world’s lowest energy prices to being burdened with some of the most expensive.
And he should forget the false doctrinal purity that inhibited previous governments from declaring a domestic gas reservation policy.
He must do what is technically feasible; drought-proof the country thus reducing the impact of floods in the North and turning the Murray-Darling Basin into the oft-promised breadbasket of Asia and indeed the world.
He should reassess the impact of especially large and unsustainable welfare and chain immigration, which is so damaging life in the three over-crowded Eastern capitals of Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane.
He should stop the massive raiding of the defence budget to shore up government seats, ensure we have more than about three weeks fuel in the country, and find a way out of the contract that is to turn twelve French nuclear submarines into conventional submarines, with all to be delivered not even in time for the 2045 celebrations of the anniversary of the defeat of Japan in the Second World War.
Then, there’s education, constitutionally a state matter. The result of federal intervention is that, while billions of dollars have been poured into this, standards in mathematics and science are falling in comparison with much of Asia and even Kazakhstan, and history is not properly taught. In the meantime, children are being tempted to question their sex under a policy encouraging gender fluidity, which surely constitutes the abuse of innocent children.
Then, there is the problem that Australia is the most centralised Federation in the democratic world, contrary to the original intentions of the founders. This has resulted in massive wastage, with about 80 percent of all taxes being collected by the federal government that pays about half to the states with instructions on how it should be spent.
The result is that, apart from the money poured down the drain, the federal politicians barely able to deal with constitutionally granted federal powers are making a mess of everything.
The question remains. Will Morrison learn from the example that President Trump is giving to America and the world?
David Flint AM is an emeritus professor of law. He was chairman of the Australian Press Council as well as the Australian Broadcasting Authority.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.