The contemptuous political class

andrew-baker The political class has contemptuous attitude towards the Australian public. And I am not talking about our new Prime Minister. The case in point is the upcoming referendum on whether to recognise local government, which in reality expands the powers of the Commonwealth.

The referendum seeks to amend section 96 of the Australian constitution to read: ‘Parliament may grant financial assistance to any State, or to any local government body formed by a law of a State, on such terms and conditions as the Parliament thinks fit.’

If the referendum is successful, not only will the Commonwealth have expanded powers into areas that have traditionally been the responsibility of the states, but it will duplicate state bureaucracies at a federal level.

The expansion of government power is coupled with a $32 million public information campaign that treats the public with utter contempt.

The contempt arises from the fact that $31.6 million of taxpayer funding is for the ‘Yes’ campaign, while only $0.5 million is for the ‘No’ campaign.  If the case for reform were strong enough, such asymmetrical financial support would not be necessary.  By way of comparison, for the republic referendum, the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns each received $7.5 million.

The political class is spending your money to convince you that they should be more powerful.

Despite the excessive spending on a public information campaign, there is evidence that government ministers don’t even understand the logic behind the efforts to expand Commonwealth powers.

With overwhelming electoral and financial support for the referendum from the political class (with several exceptions), it is important for individuals, communities and civil society at large to organise themselves against the further encroachment of government into their lives.

If you want to get involved in the ‘Yes’ campaign, you can read more on the Australian Local Government Association’s campaign website,  and if you want to get involved with the ‘No’ campaign, visit the Vote No To Canberra’s Power Grab website.

Andrew Baker is a Research Fellow at The Centre for Independent Studies.