Psychiatry professor Patrick McGorry is an Australian of the Year who has made a difference.

The Castle's ideas man for Australian of the Year

After being awarded the honour in 2010, McGorry became one of the chief ambassadors of a campaign to get the federal government to reform the mental health sector. It paid off big time: In the 2011 federal budget $2.2 billion was invested in mental health reform.

Onya, Pat. Now McGorry’s saying the title he won shouldn’t just be awarded to someone who has done valuable work, but someone who wants to leverage the title’s power into continuing to change the world. He’s got a point.

The title is a huge opportunity for accomplished people to rock the political boat.

In recent times a few Australians of the Year have done just that: McGorry, the now-Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery and Mick Dodson have all used the platform to cast light on pressing issues, whether you agree with them or not.

There’s a larger story to this though. A few more fresh voices, fresh ideas - a few more McGorrys - wouldn’t hurt our political debate.

Just look at the leaders of both parties. They’re unpopular and constantly outpolled by their rivals, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull.

You often hear people complain on The Punch that most politicians are people with the same kind of background. A law degree, followed by a decade or two working as a staffer or as a prominent unionist or business lobbyist.

Often the only voices that bring in a different idea are the Wilkies - accomplished people with intriguing platforms that stem, in part, from having different life experiences to their colleagues.

Meanwhile, up in North Queensland two characters who most certainly have their own unique perspective might end up duking it over the one seat at the next election: Clive Palmer and Bob Katter.

Palmer recently proposed that we offer to fly asylum seekers into Australia. He’s no genius professor of psychiatry, but we could at least do with a few ideas men like you, Clive.

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    • James D says:

      06:08am | 06/07/12

      How many times does politics have to be “reformed” until people realise the system is broken and really never had a chance for any kind of success? Theft, violence and slavery used to benefit the many at the expense of the few will not exist forever. It cant. The political ideas men to fix this exist. People just dont want to listen to them because the masses are educated in public schools and taught to both become reliant on AND defend the government. Here are some ideas men for you. F.A Hayek, L. V Mises and M Rothbard for starters and how about H H Hoppe and S Molyneux when you grow into it. BUT why dont these men drive discourse the world over? Because they advocate a removal of state violence in society, peaceful voluntary interaction without slavery and guns to peoples heads. And without those things governments does not exist. Without guns, force, violence and slavery governments cannot exist. Governments do not work pragmatically or ethically and as such are unsustainable - they will eventually dissolve under the weight of their own corruption (Europe first, USA second, Asia third and the list goes on). People wont like it inititally as they have been taught that violence is the answer all then time - and having to treat people fairly instead of violently subduing whomever they need or when they feel like it will seem unthinkable but they will get used to it.

    • marley says:

      08:33am | 06/07/12

      “Having to treat people fairly”  you say.  Interesting turn of phrase. Howya gonna make me treat people fairly?  Your model implies coercion just as much as any other model.

    • James D says:

      09:59am | 06/07/12

      Here is the thing Marley. There is no coercion once you remove the force and coercion called government. What is unfair is government coercion. How does a model free of coercion imply coercion?Like any statist you make no sense. How am i going to make you treat people fairly? Im not, the market and society will. If you want a successful business you need to treat people fairly. If you want a successful sporting team you going to have to be fair and play fair, if you want a happy family your going to need to treat people fairly. It is very simple and does not require a government gun pointed toward anyone. Read Rothbard.

    • marley says:

      10:40am | 06/07/12

      @JamesD - society and the market will make me treat people fairly?

      Umm, neither has done a great job in the last few thousand years - it wasn’t governments that created slavery, it was society and the markets.  We’d still have it if governments hadn’t banned it.

    • James D says:

      11:43am | 06/07/12

      It wasnt governments that created slavery? Please tell me the report detailing how private farmers, miners, store owners, doctors and teachers brought slaves to America? Please tell me about the report where private citizens massacred aboriginal people in australia? Please detail to me how private citizens organised the Hiroshima bombings or the japanese enslavement internment camps in the US? Also your suggestion governments banned slavery is offensive and so inaccurate it scares me. Governments enact slavery laws allowing human ownership they then replace those laws with equal opportunity laws which are another version of slavery forcing people into outcomes they either dont deserve or are better than. Please think before you replay statist propaganda. What they tell you are lies. Use your head.

    • AdamC says:

      12:28pm | 06/07/12

      Marley, slavery is a terrible example. By definition, slavery requires that a slave owner can assert his right to property in his slaves. Indeed, it was modern, capitalist society that contributed to the end of slavery by making slave-dependent industries like plantation agriculture less economically important.

      I think what you mean to say is that, in the absence of some kind of government economic oversight, there would be a class of people so destitute that they would be prepared to accept working conditions akin to ‘slavery’ in order to survive. That is a much stronger case. Your hyperbole weakens your argument.

    • marley says:

      02:03pm | 06/07/12

      @AdamC - sorry, don’t agree. I wasn’t speaking hyperbolically but literally.

      The strong conquered the weak and took them as slaves before anyone thought of legal definitions of property rights, before, indeed, there were any governments at all.  The indigenous peoples of the Americas had slaves long before anything we would recognize as a government existed.  Slavery seems to have come into existence with the invention of agriculture, and the need for labour.  It wasn’t driven by government, but by society and economic needs.

      Governments certainly came to recognise that slaves were property, just as horses and cattle were - but the concept of ownership of property is another thing that I would argue predates government.

      And the slave trade flourished because entrepreneurs could make money out of grabbing Africans out of their villages and selling them to middlemen who put them on boats for sale in the Americas.  It wasn’t governments that established that trade, it was money-minded businessmen filling a market requirement for cheap, disposable labour.

      And while slave labour did eventually become economically unviable, it wasn’t always that way.  The early growth of the Caribbean sugar industry was very much dependent on slave labour, which only began to become unviable around the end of the 18th century.  Arguably, it was the economic downturn in the slave trade that enabled the government of the UK to legislate against it;  had the capitalist system still benefitted from it, the government wouldn’t have done so.  In other words, the government followed, didn’t lead, society and capitalism on slavery.

    • marley says:

      04:45pm | 06/07/12

      @James D- I don’t see how a report about individuals bringing slaves on boats to North America is any evidence whatsoever that governments “created” slavery.  Slavery arose out of labour shortages and the good old desire to make money.  It arose out of societies which began to stratify with the invention of agriculture.  It arose because humans are humans and exploit the weaknesses of others to their own advantage.  It has existed since the beginning of recorded human history.  Governments merely recognised what society had created.

      And yes, governments did ban slavery.  The British banned the slave trade in 1807 and slavery itself in 1833.  The Americans took another 30 years to ban it.  If you equate serfdom with slavery (not quite the same thing, but for the sake of argument) then the Russians got rid of it in 1861.  In other words, slavery arose out of our societies and our economic needs, and when it was no longer essential to either, governments abolished it. 

      I have no idea what Hiroshima has to do with slavery.  Nothing, that I can see.  Nor does having a job or owning property.  People certainly had property before they had governments.  Do you actually think that if there were no government, you wouldn’t have property or have to work for your daily crust?

    • Bertrand says:

      06:05pm | 06/07/12

      I’m coming in to this thread late, but James D, I have to say, libertarianism is a seriously flawed ideology. It takes an incredibly simplistic view of power relationships and makes the false assumption that only governments can abuse their power.

      Some of the examples you gave border on ridiculous and highlight a clear lack of historical knowledge.

      The massacres of Aborigines were, for the most, undertaken by civilian settlers (mostly agriculturalists and squatters). Slavery existed with the consent of government but was done through free enterprise; it took government laws and regulations to stop it.

      I really have to wonder when I see libertarian devotees. It is an extremist ideology and the only time economic libertarianism has come close to existing (19th century Britain and USA) saw massive examples of economic coercion by the rich against the poor.

      You are living in a dream world if you think the removal of government regulations in the economic sphere would lead to some sort of utopia.

    • James D says:

      11:40pm | 06/07/12

      And in all your babbling on you cant refute how governments subjugate and enslave. But somehow if governments do it others wont do it? Do you actually listen to what you say? And this whole idea that it was businessmen who began slavery is so ignorant of reality it scares me how much your public schooling has got to you - WHO enables this exchange of labour? Why do you ignore that it is governments that not only enabled it but encouraged and funded it?. Also being a libertarian is simplistic? Simplistic compared to “steal and murder call it government and that will work”? Bertrand you are foolishly missing the point. Lets just say that it was bakers, teachers and private citizens that murdered and enslaved aboriginals as you suggest WHO brought them there? Who brought them to Australia? I love how if governments ban slavery all of a sudden it should be forgotten that they enshrined it in the first place. Marley - hiroshima has everything to do with it because this was a government act which coincided with japanese enslavement and internment in the USA. But wait let me guess it wasnt government it was private citizens? Bertrand you view of history is both inaccurate and offensive - I am not advocating the removal of government from economic matters i am advocating the removal of all government. From everything. But before you tremble in fear what is government? Government is force, violence and theft. So all i want to do is remove societies force violence and theft. Now before you dribble out the standard response think about it. You somehow come to the conclusion that without government violence all of a sudden everyone would become violent towards everyone else - that is patently false. Private murders are dwarfed by government murders 165 million to 10 million since 1940. BUT what the government has told you over and over and over again whilst violently stealing half of your belongings is that without you allowing them to steal your belongings someone else would. How messed up is that? “Please let me break your legs, indoctrinate your children, rein a terror of violence upon those who dont conform and steal 50% of the fruits of your labour to ensure no one else does?” How blind are you to believe that is the best way for a society to conduct itself? Also Marley “Governments reflected what society created” is the crux of my argument -it is clear you dont get it yet. I am against the subjugation by force and against the will of the minority by the majority. That is slavery and THAT is all of what government does. That is the only function of government. Government enables these power stuctures as it enables violence. Read Rothbard.

    • marley says:

      04:31pm | 07/07/12

      @JamesD - I’m sorry, but your own ignorance of history is so profound as to render your judgements utterly meaningless.

      Slavery has existed in human society since man moved from being a hunter-gatherer or subsistence farmer - long before anything we would recognise as government ever existed.  The Sumerians had slaves;  so did the Assyrians and Babylonians, the Chinese and pre-Colombian MesoAmericans.  Slaves were a commodity, just as a bushel of wheat or a barrel of wine were, to be bartered, traded or sold.  Government didn’t fund slavery any more than it financed the production of pottery.

      You might ask yourself why you believe that, without government, there would be no slavery, no violence, when there has been violence in every society known to man. You yourself haven’t explained why or how I would have to treat people fairly in the absence of coercion.  Why should you get to tell me how to behave?  How is that one whit less tyrannical than government by the majority?

      As for the internment of Japanese Americans (and Canadians) after Pearl Harbour, that was undoubtedly a great wrong.  It was not, however, slavery in any sense we understand it.  Unlike the Nazis, the Americans did not use slave labour in their factories to further the war effort.  And while both internment and the dropping 4 years later of nuclear bombs on Japan were both products of the war, neither had anything to do with slavery.

    • Little Joe says:

      06:59am | 06/07/12

      That’s just funny ..... Labor candidates must tow the union line.

      So you finish up with a bunch of parasites who have no idea about the real world or business or economics or science or engineering ...... which is how we finished up in this mess.

      Ps. I heard that McGorry made millions from the reforms he proposed.

    • acotrel says:

      07:16am | 06/07/12

      ‘That’s just funny ..... Labor candidates must tow the union line. ‘

      The ALP allows it’s pollies to have a conscience vote - at least ‘we’re not stalinist’ like the LNP !

    • Fiddler says:

      08:04am | 06/07/12

      acotrel, I think you have things mixed up. ALP members who cross the floor face expulsion from the party. Coalition members do not

    • Fiddler says:

      08:05am | 06/07/12

      acotrel, I think you have things mixed up. ALP members who cross the floor face expulsion from the party. Coalition members do not

    • TimB says:

      08:13am | 06/07/12

      “The ALP allows it’s pollies to have a conscience vote”

      When? Once in a blue moon?

      I wonder what would happen to any rogue Labor MP who voted to repeal the Carbon Tax?

    • Craig says:

      08:16am | 06/07/12


      Actually the Liberal Party has historically been far more willing to give its elected members a conscious vote than the Labor party.

      One specific example does not a trend make.

      However frankly any party-mandated vote is a problem. Voters elect a member to represent their interests, not the interests of a ‘party’.

      This has become extremely confused in the last fifty years.

    • Chris says:

      08:24am | 06/07/12

      But if you break party lines on a non conscience vote your kicked out - aren’t you.

      Over to you - oh and BTW, you didn’t mention Tony - shame on you

    • Chris L says:

      08:31am | 06/07/12

      Don’t get too cocky there Little Joe. If Mr Abbott doesn’t start doing what he’s told old Clive might just have to pull the rug out from under his feet.

    • acotrel says:

      08:57am | 06/07/12

      ’ If Mr Abbott doesn’t start doing what he’s told old Clive might just have to pull the rug out from under his feet.’

      With Rupert’s help !  (Money talks !)

    • Little Joe says:

      09:23am | 06/07/12

      @ Acotrel

      After reading the comments after yours ..... I do feel sad for you!!!

      Now back in the closet and keep swallowing what they feed you!!!

    • Blind Freddy says:

      10:34am | 06/07/12


      I remember you posting once that “every vote is a conscience vote in the Liberal Party” - the subject was gay marriage. I asked you how many Liberals you thought would vote for gay marriage and you responded that you thought about 30%.

      What happened?

    • TimB says:

      10:42am | 06/07/12

      “If Mr Abbott doesn’t start doing what he’s told old Clive might just have to pull the rug out from under his feet. “

      The way I heard it, Abbott quite clearly told Clive where to shove it the other week.

      No praise for that from the same people who were claiming that Abbbott and the Liberals were completely under Clive’s sinister control of course. Wouldn’t want to call attention to stuff that contradicts their assumtions.

    • TimB says:

      12:46pm | 06/07/12

      ‘What happened? ‘

      What happened with what Freddy? I’m afraid I don’t know what you’re getting at.

    • Blind Freddy says:

      01:52pm | 06/07/12


      How many Liberals do you think will vote for marriage equality? If there are Liberals that support marriage equality (you estimated 30%) - can we expect to see them vote for it, and,  if not why not?

      Is it because there are no Liberals that see marriage equality as a conscience issue or because they are not permitted by the party to vote with their consciences?

    • EWB says:

      02:17pm | 06/07/12

      @ acotrel

      I believe the full saying is: “Money talks, bullsh*t walks”.

      Your comments land squarely and consistently in the latter category.

    • Tom says:

      02:33pm | 06/07/12

      If the government truly had the numbers, party lines would carry the vote.

      No conscience vote on the carbon tax. Why suddenly a conscience vote?

      Yes, we know why. Its just Gillard being sneaky, arrogant and extremely stupid.

    • TimB says:

      03:31pm | 06/07/12

      ‘Is it because there are no Liberals that see marriage equality as a conscience issue or because they are not permitted by the party to vote with their consciences? ‘

      Suggest you ask the Liberals. And my 30% figure was only ever a guess.

      All I know is, that unlike the ALP, you don’t get expelled from the party for going against the party line.

      Case in point: Turnbull (and others) when they voted with the ALP on the ETS issue in 2009

    • Gerard says:

      07:03pm | 06/07/12

      “That’s just funny ..... Labor candidates must tow the union line. “

      Really? It certainly looks the other way round to me. Unions collect fees from members which are then spent on ‘donations’ to the ALP or on pro-Labor propaganda campaigns. The carbon tax is a case in point. The Labor Party did not introduce a carbon tax in response to union demands; the unions ran a campaign for the tax because the Labor Party wanted to bring one in.

    • Al says:

      07:46am | 06/07/12

      I have some ideas, but they will not be implemented.
      1) Remove the party system, voting in parliment should always be done on the basis of the merit of the proposed legislation, not just along party lines.
      2) Require acting as a representative (in other words put forward the views of those who they represent, which most don’t realy do).
      3) Link any poltician pay increase to the Annual Wage review (no awarding politicians increases higher than those awarded to the majority of workers, the Annual Wage Review).
      4) Base policies on merit, not on the emotional impact. Something may ring all the right emotional bells and still be completely wrong.
      5) Be held accountable for promises made/broken etc. Don’t allow any politician to get away with this crap. Create a ‘contempt of the Australian peoples’ or ‘Blaytant lying to the Australian peoples’ and have them punished (fines usualy work, if it hurts the $ a person receives they will usualy reconsider it, in addition to the public votes).

    • acotrel says:

      08:15am | 06/07/12

      Are you saying :

      Vote #1 :  INDEPENDENT
      Empower the individual and make every vote in parliament a conscience vote ! ??

      Large political parties should be internally democratic - NOT STALINIST !!

    • Chris L says:

      08:38am | 06/07/12

      Point number 1 is how our democracy started and I don’t recall hearing about any problems with it. Remove the parties and you remove some of the stupid decisions that get made for party loyalty or ideology.

      Point 3, fully agree.

      Point 5 should have been established long ago. Perhaps some sort of independant tribunal, immune from political influence, that can call up a leader and demand they “please explain” why a promise was not kept or why a statement was untrue. If the explanation is reasonable and plausible they could be let off, but they should definately be held to account for deliberate deception!

      I’m not sure how you’d administer and enforce points 2 & 4 though.

    • Al says:

      09:16am | 06/07/12

      acotrel - not independents as they currently stand, a person may still have Labour/Liberal/Green positions, but no voting required along party lines EVER.
      Re: “Large political parties should be internally democratic - NOT STALINIST !!” - tell that to the Labour party, Greens and Liberal Party, where you can be removed from membership for not voting along party lines.

    • Al says:

      09:24am | 06/07/12

      Chris L - They were just ideas (or perhaps ideals would be better), I am certainly aware that enforcing points 2 and 4 would be almost impossible, and unreliable at best.

    • KH says:

      11:02am | 06/07/12

      Point 5 doesn’t work if point 1 is implemented, as no one person could possibly ‘keep their promises’ if they have to negotiate with a couple of hundred other individuals - someone is bound to lose.  That is one of the primary issues for the current government - promises were made on the basis of having a majority - people didn’t anticipate what would happen if the government didn’t have a majority - negotiation introduced changed/new policies and reversals on previously stated positions.  Basically, all bets were off.  Then there is the simple fact that Australia does not exist in a vacuum - we are a very small country compared to the global situation, and we are largely at the mercy of global conditions - sometimes you just can’t do something you said you would, because the conditions have changed since you made the promise.  Your suggestion is unreasonable for any government - or any individual for that matter.  No one can control every aspect of the world around them, and no one can see the future.

      Point 4 is impossible, especially if there are no parties to hold people together to vote - individuals cannot separate themselves from their own feelings, and are in fact, easier to sway - and no matter how you set up your ‘independent’ system, you can’t prevent lobby groups and powerful rich people from putting pressure on the government - its harder to pressure a united party than individuals who could be bought off with little scrutiny.

      Point 2 - are you suggesting we run the government via facebook?! with a like button?!  Its just crazy to suggest that all policies should be up on a public vote.  Have you ever bothered to look at the schedules?  yes, there are a couple of high profile policies being talked about constantly, but the government passes hundreds of pieces of legislation and changes every sitting.  You simply can’t have a public vote for all of it, as nothing would ever get done, and it would cost a ridiculous amount of money to do it that way.

      The biggest problem with your idea is that voting would be a nightmare - you would only really know about the individuals standing in your electorate and what they are ‘promising’ - how could you possibly assess thousands of potential candiates’ policies?  You can only vote in one electorate.  As per my first point, once those in office have to negotiate,  the chances are most of their ‘promises’ would never happen, or even none if the person can’t persuade others to their point of view.

    • Al says:

      12:59pm | 06/07/12

      KH -
      Point 1 and 5 can work together. If you promise to take a specific position or vote a certain way then you should do so. This has nothing to do with membership of a party.
      Point 2 - It would be up to individuals to express their views to their representative, so if a large number of people express oposition to a certain policy etc the representative needs to take that into account. I never said a vote on every piece of legislation.
      Point 4 - it is possible to seperate emotionaly popular policies from those with merit, it is called listening to expert opinions and what works, not just what looks good. (Take recycling as an example, we do all this recycling in Australia of paper which costs more, produces a lower quality product, uses more energy, uses more chemicals than simply sourcing from a plantation).
      Lastly, if they can’t look at pursuading others they should not be in politics at all. Back it up with evidence and people will generaly listen to what your position is and how it has more merit (if it does).

    • KH says:

      01:49pm | 06/07/12

      Al - disagree.  Making a promise you can’t keep because the situation changes around it, is not ‘lying’.  I can say I will spend $2000 at a store next month, but if I lose my job in the meantime, I won’t - doesn’t mean I lied - I can only base my statements on the situation today - if I could tell the future I would pick saturdays tatts numbers so it wouldn’t matter if I had a job or not..  You can’t punish people for things out of their control. Further,  just because one person (even if its the leader) says something, if the rest of the party changes the policy, or no one else agrees with them, that doesn’t make them a liar either. 
      As for point 1, who exactly would the PM be in your brilliant system?  I’d like to see that argument played out amongst a couple of hundred delegates, all of whom with their own barrow to push.  Having parties means there are general principles to vote for - you may not agree with every single thing, but decisions are underpinned by a general ideology. 
      Point 4 - I take it you are OK with taxing carbon then.  Scientists don’t just make crap up - there is a lot of work, evidence, research,  peer review and more to back up their statements, so therefore climate change is real, according to scientific evidence, which is separate from emotion. 
      I also maintain that no one can really ‘represent’ a couple of thousand voters - they will have their own opinion and it is this which will guide them - not your opinion - they aren’t going to ask you about everything.  This will suit those who agreed with them,  but not others, so there is always going to be people in the electorate who didn’t get what they wanted, and will bitch and moan about it.  That is just how it is, parties or not.

    • Al says:

      03:19pm | 06/07/12

      KH - you may not like it, but even if a situation changes if you don’t do what you promised, then you lied.
      Lying does not require a pre-meditation to deceive others. It is simply not telling the truth.
      Even if you believe what you say at the time (i.e. would pass a lie detctor) it doesn’t automaticly make it true.

    • Al says:

      03:26pm | 06/07/12

      KH - I am not against Carbon Pricing/Taxation (and won’t get into the argument of whether it is a tax or not), I will however punish the current government for lying about their position before an election and changing their mind afterwards.
      I would also prefer to see the money invested in research rather than a simple redistribution (which is what is happening now).
      So not against a Carbon Tax, but will still punish the lying.

    • Gerard says:

      07:49pm | 06/07/12

      Mostly agree Al, but points 1,2 and 4 will create contradictions. Say a bill comes up to give everyone in Australia $100K. Supporting the bill breaches points 1 & 4. Opposing it will likely breach point 2.

      I believe that the wishes of the electorate should be the only consideration for politicians when voting in Parliament. If an MP is convinced that their electorate has it wrong, they can publicly put their case to the electorate as an MP, and campaign for their personal position as a private citizen. If the electorate at large does not change its mind, then the MP should vote with the majority. If this is a democracy, then the people must be sovereign and live or die by their own choices.


      Easy solution for politicians concerned about the consequences of breaking promises: don’t promise ANYTHING unless you’re 100% sure you can deliver it.

    • maria says:

      02:26pm | 07/07/12

      DIRECT DEMOCRACY a la SWITZERLAND in which only the people with true democratic rights to call a referendum to modify the constitution and any laws even repeal them.


      07:52am | 06/07/12

      Hi Daniel,

      How timely and straight to the point!  Yes most definitely, what Australian Politics need right now more than ever is a supply of fresh blood and fresh attitude.  Enough about fighting over Parliament House seats and how to keep them warm. It is not mostly about having law degrees as well as proving to be good lobbyists.  Why don’t we all face the fact that there has to be a certain kind of charisma, energy, personality and integrity required for such important,  valuable and respectable positions in our society.

      It all has been tested in the past, only to realize that having all those familiar faces dominating the political arena and not giving a chance to younger people the chance to try their fortune in Australian Politics, is only making us very bitter and mean towards other voters in our community.  When we talk about true democracy and its never ending solutions, it seems ridiculous to have these politicians almost obsessed with the idea of adoring themselves and their so called good old policies above all.

      The actual learning process begins by listening to the other people’s point of view and acknowledging that we do actually have a problem to begin with.  And forgetting about our differences and get on with the business of running this country to the best of our abilities at all times! Our leaders should not get far too comfortable in their seats, thinking they are invincible.  What we need right now is a down to earth, humanistic and humble attitude to win hearts as well as votes. Kind regards to your editors.

    • Carz says:

      07:53am | 06/07/12

      Please tell me you’re joking. McGorry used his influence to move funding away from a proven successful program (Better Access to Mental Health) to an unproven program he had co-founded.

      Just because people (not just men as your headline infers) have new ideas it doesn’t make them good ideas.

    • mayday says:

      08:35am | 06/07/12

      I agree and I wish this government would stop putting political pressure on scientists to tow their line and using the “celebrity” card to push their agenda.

    • acotrel says:

      09:25am | 06/07/12

      It wouldn’t matter what pressure is put on scientists, toeing the party line is never an outcome.  Scientists are dedicated to seeking truth.  What you are talking about is their professional integrity.  You don’t get rich by being a scientist, it is a calling.  It just happens coincidentally, that what the government is saying about global warming and carbon pricing is supported by most scientists because the evidence is there, and the research is subject to peer review.
      Perhaps the government is acting on the best scientific advice and is intent on managing the risk ? - Ever thought of that ?

    • Queensland Observer says:

      08:08am | 06/07/12

      So what happened to all the supposedly ‘good’ ideas generated by Rudd’s 2020 Summitt? All I seem to remember of the reporting of the event was our ex-PM sitting on the floor like a four year old in Prep class…

      What exactly was achieved from that talk-fest? Seems to me to have achieved bugger all except for the usual suspects pushing their own usual barrows and ideologies.

      A monumental waste of time and money. Seeming, not doing. In fact it set the scene for the next three years of Government…

      Geezus, and some of you want a return to Rudd?!?

    • sir ronald bradnam says:

      08:11am | 06/07/12

      Politicians pay increase should be linked to the pay increase of the poorest and weakest in society. Politicians and their families should only be allowed to use the medical and healthcare they provide to the poorest and most disadvanteged in society. Politicians and their families should only be allowed to use the schools and educational facilities available to the poorest and weakest people in society. Politicains and families should have their superannuation schemes linked to that which they provide to the poorest and weakest in society. Then watch the improvements.

    • KH says:

      11:06am | 06/07/12

      What improvements?  Who would want to be in government if the remuneration and benefits are aligned to the worst possible?  Pay is a factor to attracting intelligence - no matter what your opinion of the current government is, most of them have had corporate careers. have been successful in other arenas, or are highly educated - on both sides.  The last thing we want is a bunch of Pauline Hansons or Bob Katters running the country.  FFS.

    • sir ronald bradnam says:

      02:52pm | 06/07/12

      Really KH…what we have is a bunch of economic morons with very little social conscience who sit on their hands and allow other human beings to die because of their thoughtless changes to policies when they came to power. Who are now allowing themselves to be awarded significant pay increases they say are out of their control whilst performing less and less, give me a break we have people that are the equivalent if not inferior to PH and BK at least they have the courage to stand up for what they believe in and dont compromise to win a couple of votes.
      Pay all of them on their performance linked to social/economic/Healthcare/educational problems that they fixed or improved also link it to their ability to increase the wealth of the country and all citizens I know it sounds altruistic but hey we have to start somewhere.

    • Gerard says:

      08:03pm | 06/07/12

      “The last thing we want is a bunch of Pauline Hansons or Bob Katters running the country”

      As far as representing their constituents goes, no member of the lower house even comes close to Katter. Members of the major parties (and the Greens for that matter) couldn’t give a flying fuck what their electorate wants; the ambitions of the party always come first.

    • Gregg says:

      08:33am | 06/07/12

      Daniel, now come on mate, it is not just politicians or imminent people that get awards by politicians that have views.

      Sometimes it is also what views will get reported or even allowed to be aired when views may collide with what a journalist has reported right here on the Punch.

      And then we do also have a very high level of bias in reporting by some journalists too, there often some great examples even right here on The Punch.

      Our system of politics may be able to be improved though it could also be a damm side worse and it is probably going to always be much the way it is and something that we can just hope will see the best done for the country without too many $$$$$ been blown away on supposedly great thinking.

    • Gregg says:

      09:03am | 06/07/12

      One thing that certainly seems to be needed is a review of the law as it may apply to politicians.

      For instance we’ve had the Craig Thomson matter dragging on for however long and at one stage it was reported he declined to be interviewed by police.
      Maybe that is your right and then the police/law process should just forge ahead.

      Now it seems the same situation has developed for Peter Slipper
      So how long does he still get referred to as the speaker in this situation and then the issue of Craig Thomsons speech in parliament re parliamentary privilege/misleading not being dealt with because it has to be referred to the speaker and not the deputy who seems to be doing a fine job.

    • Mr. Jordon says:

      09:08am | 06/07/12

      Outlaw political parties.

      Before the party system all MP were independent. Meaning all votes are conscience votes. Plus the best people get the portfolios and not good party members. And they do what is best for the country not what is best for the part.

    • Al B says:

      09:19am | 06/07/12

      This! Gold star for mr jordan!

      One term limits could also work ...or they could return it to original democracy ...lot style like juries.

    • Knemon says:

      02:36pm | 06/07/12

      Party politics seems to work in the lower house, it’s in the Senate where they should be banned!

    • MH says:

      03:41pm | 06/07/12

      Yes, what our parliament needs more than anything is more Oakeshotts.

    • Gerard says:

      08:24pm | 06/07/12

      Outlaw political parties? Talk about throwing the baby out with the bathwater. Yes, something needs to be done about the major parties, but abolishing freedom of association solves nothing.


      How so? If anything it’s the other way around. Those in the lower house are supposed to represent a particular area- a bit hard when they are bound to a party manifesto which takes no account of what particular electorates want. The constituency a senator, however, is an entire state. Therefore you could make a case that each of the six senators should represent a non-geographically defined section of society eg farmers represented by the Katter party, bankers represented by the Liberal party, champagne socialists represented by the Greens.

    • Knemon says:

      10:50pm | 06/07/12

      @ Gerard - The (12) senators can still represent their states interests but by removing party politics it nullifies the chances of any minority group holding the balance of power. If one party has a majority in the lower house then any legislation passed to the upper house will come under more scrutiny, most likely any bills passed by the senate would have a majority of senators from a majority of the states voting for or against.

    • Jack Frost says:

      09:21am | 06/07/12

      Hi Daniel: Do you really believe that allocating yet more billions to put humpty dumpty back together accomplishes anything significant? There are thousands of tons of phoney research papers and committees and evangelists (like Flannery and McGorry and T. Costello and thousands of others) who would have us believe that big dollar numbers create beds and food for the homeless and unemployed and unloved. Please don’t say that “evidence/experience shows (whatever”). Equating dollars with improvements is what health departments do every day. It just isn’t true. Only sensible, honest governments can achieve wonders but fat bureaucracies (now shrinking, thank God) gorge on dollars and praise themselves for what they have spent all too freely and often on glowing but impossible-to-test theories.

    • AdamC says:

      09:27am | 06/07/12

      The problem is that resolving most of the important political issues does not need new ideas. Views are established, battle-lines are drawn. The solution are no secret in the cases of asylum seekers, industrial relations and tax reform, but they are often unpopular or difficult to execute.

      Mind you, here are some big ideas that our leaders could think about:

      1) turn north-western Australia into a special economic zone;
      2) bring New Zealand into the Commonwealth of Australia;
      3) raise the GST to 20% and implement a flat income tax.

      If only we could have a government that would do even one of these things!

    • Ginger Mick says:

      09:53am | 06/07/12

      Good Ideas AdamC,

      1)  I would change slightly, all north Aussie should be the Zone, anything north of the Tropic of Capricorn would cover it nicely.
      With tax dispensation for those LIVING and WORKING there would help develop the north.  Fly-in Fly-out would be a lot less inviting.

      3)  I cannot see any Federal government voting for this, they would be giving monumental money and power back to the States,  BUT I still think you have it right as the States have more interest locally.

    • marley says:

      09:57am | 06/07/12

      1. How would that work?  Not arguing,  just curious…
      2.  Would they want to come? and would it matter if they did?
      3.  I like flat income tax.  Not sure about 20% GST though - the governments waste enough of the GST as it is.

    • Economist says:

      12:22pm | 06/07/12

      Agreed, we don’t need new ideas. Everyday public servants are pumping out policy and program evaluation reports and recommendations. Senate committees are producing reports, ALRC make recommendations on legislation, lobbyists put forward their ideas.

      What is needed is vision, decision and execution. We haven’t had this since Hawke/Keating. We’ve had reactive governments, with the occasional good idea implemented well, but on the whole a C average.

      Even the leaked Coalition policies lack vision, they are simply reactive. This is no more evident than with the format of the document. At least Battlelines had some vision.

    • scaper... says:

      01:07pm | 06/07/12

      How would 1 work? Well, you will just have to wait until the ANDEV policy is released later this year. But then again…the public might not get to see it until after this lot in government are gone.

      Don’t want Labor to steal it and botch it up, do we.

    • AdamC says:

      03:42pm | 06/07/12


      1) I would use the status of Norfolk Island as an example, but contained within Western Australia. That is, the area would remain part of WA’s territory, but have its own rules for immigration, tax, industrial relations, planning etc. The point would be to have very limited restrictions on development. 

      2) Well, I suspect they could be convinced. And it would matter because it would expand Australia’s population and terriroty.

      3) Well, people always bang on about government ‘waste’. Personally, I do not believe we could really slash taxes in Australia without also cutting entitlements and services. There is no magic low-hanging fiscal fruit or, at least, not much. Not that I do not favout cutting taxes and spending: I am very much on the record backing both.

    • Ginger Mick says:

      09:28am | 06/07/12

      There is an alternative to the ALP and the Greens.

      I have been reading the policies of the Democratic Labour Party.

      They consist of one Senator at the moment.

      Rather them than Greens (and ALP).

      Read their policies and comment, could be rather interesting grin

    • Queensland Observer says:

      10:05am | 06/07/12

      Yes, I may be a Conservative voter, however I’m a bit of a fan of Senator Madigan. I really like the fact that he’s come into politics after being a blacksmith/boilermaker and has been self employed. You can’t achieve all that without possessing a fair amount of common sense. My hope is that one day the DLP will replace the ALP as the major party on the Left, especially if the DLP brings in candidates similar to Senator Madigan in quality.

    • acotrel says:

      10:18am | 06/07/12

      What a bloody nightmare you are suggesting !  I thought we got rid of the DLP as a consequence of their role in getting us into the Vietnam war ?  Anyway, you’ve got Tony Abbott, that should be DLP enough for anyone ? We had enough commiephobia stuffing everybody up, in the fifties.  Now it’s islamaphobia ! PEACE - Brother !

    • KH says:

      11:12am | 06/07/12

      They are a bunch of right wing crazies.  Did you read their policies?!How that is an ‘alternative’ to the obviously left ALP and Greens?  You have got to be joking.

    • Tator says:

      12:29pm | 06/07/12

      Qld Obs,
      if you are a conservative, you may like to have a look at the LDP
      mainly more libertarian than conservative but another option to the Coalition for those who don’t want to vote for a left wing party.

    • Chris L says:

      04:11pm | 06/07/12

      @Tator - Liberal Democratic Party is my favourite at the moment. Personal liberty and responsibility should be a central value of a free democracy.

    • ibast says:

      10:19am | 06/07/12

      Ban political party formation in the lower house.  Political parties do have a place in Australian politics, but that place should be the upper house.

      The lower house should be a place where your MP represents your electorate and debates the merits of legislation based on that principle.

    • KH says:

      12:58pm | 06/07/12

      How many fools are coming up with this today?  It wouldn’t work.  Essentially its what we have now - a bunch of independents all pushing their own agendas and endless bickering.  How would you even vote for anyone if there are thousands of policy platforms?  There is nothing wrong with the party system if you have a majority government that can run on its own principles.  What we have now is a situation where no one had a majority and anyone forming a minority government was going to be held to ransom by a small group that most people didn’t vote for.  It wouldn’t be this way if the LNP had done the right thing and got rid of that clown Abbott they have leading them - they would be the government now but a lot of people just couldn’t force themselves to vote for such a completely objectionable man.

    • ibast says:

      01:35pm | 06/07/12

      It’s not essentially what we have now.  What we have now could be working well, but Abbott is bent on being an obstructionist.  The result is true debate is stifled.  it is limited to a few individuals rather than an entire house.

      I don’t think it will ever happen, however, because there is no way of enforcing it.

      We should at least make in unconstitutional for a party to prevent a conscience vote.

      At least then we would have something like the states, where voting rarely goes along party lines.

    • Gerard says:

      08:43pm | 06/07/12

      “How would you even vote for anyone if there are thousands of policy platforms?”

      Easy. You ignore the policy platforms and pick the candidate that will respect the wishes of their constituents.

      “anyone forming a minority government was going to be held to ransom by a small group that most people didn’t vote for.”

      Wrong. They are being held to ransom by a large group of LNP members who simply vote against anything the Labor Party says or does for political reasons. Neither major party has shown the slightest interest in governing for the benefit of the country. This is the problem with the current Parliament, not the very small number of independents attempting to negotiate like they’re supposed to.

    • Robert S McCormick says:

      10:45am | 06/07/12

      So long as the Head Offices of our Political Parties continue with their current practice of preventing Branch members from selecting their own candidates - as used to happen - there will never be any New Blood & Ideas introduced to Australia’s politicial arena.
      The rot set in when the ALP Head Office, (adopted by the Liberals, Nationals etc.) started pre-selecting the candidate of their choice and simply turned up at Branch Meetings, called to pick a new candidate, with thier candidate & told the Branch members “This is your New candidate & you will endorse him/her”
      These candidates are selected simply because Head Office wants to reward some party hack, union official, advisor for their contribution to “The Party”. The Liberals did that with one of John Howard’s advisors - the principle architect Howard’s WorkChoices - a person for all intents & purposes totally unknown to any of the Branch members.
      The only way we will get new blood & ideas is to encourage people to join a party & then give them the opportunity to stand for election. What our political parties are currently doing is totally undemocratic
      The other day Clive Palmer accused to Liberal machine of being Stalinist. That term is every bit as applicable to the ALP etc.

    • renold says:

      12:11pm | 06/07/12

      My suggestion is we should re introduce slavery. Benefits are enormous: No unemployment, which means it saves the government a bit. Homeless problem is solved and all the BDSM or whatever they’re called will love a bit of a whipping.

    • Shane From Melbourne says:

      12:21pm | 06/07/12

      Some ideas on welfare reform:
      1. No government handouts if earning $40,000 per year (adjusted for CPI).
      2. Cut off the dole after one year (for a period of one year)
      3. Refugees ineligible for welfare.
      4. Welfare capped after second kid.
      5. Annual medical examination by government doctor required for continuation of disability pension.
      6. No welfare to used for social engineering purposes i.e. maternity leave which is strictly a matter between employer and employee, baby bonus etc

    • Wickerman says:

      12:57pm | 06/07/12

      Agree to all.

    • Phill says:

      12:31pm | 06/07/12

      I remember the 20/20 Summit.  All the wonderful ideas that were supposed to have come out of that.  The millions spent on it.

      How many fo the have happenied?

      The problem with new voices is they are outnumbered by the old voices.

    • Tracey says:

      01:35pm | 06/07/12

      Okay I agree with Clive that we should fly asylum seekers in ... but he has many ideas that I don’t agree with!  If people are frustrated with the people who run - then we need more people to give it a go and provide us with a more diverse selection.  Someone braver than me!

    • Knemon says:

      02:46pm | 06/07/12

      I also agree with Clive, in that party officials should not be lobbyists paid by vested interests!

    • Gerard says:

      08:52pm | 06/07/12

      “we need more people to give it a go and provide us with a more diverse selection”

      Unfortunately, the government already thought of that and introduced nomination deposits to stop it happening.

    • M says:

      03:37pm | 06/07/12

      Abolish compulsory voting and the standard of politicians would go up immesurably.

    • Chris L says:

      04:19pm | 06/07/12

      Not sure about that M. In theory it would mean those who take an interest in politics and do their research would be the most likely to cast a vote, but there’s no guarantee that people who get their political views from ACA and talk back radio won’t be the ones motivated to turn up and have their ignorant opinions enforced on the population.

      PS - Happy to admit I fall in the middle ground there (not an expert, but don’t get my opinions from TV either).

    • marley says:

      08:29pm | 06/07/12

      @M - they don’t have compulsory voting in the US.  I haven’t noticed that the quality of their politicians is particularly high.

      Not that I agree with compulsory voting, but my experience of both systems suggests that it’s not the real issue.  Maybe it’s the way we allow political parties to be funded, maybe it’s the way the parties themselves operate, but something needs to be fixed.  I’m just not sure that compulsory voting is the place to start.

    • Mark/Fox says:

      08:01pm | 08/07/12

      We do need to change how we operate, every thing our pollies do is to get votes for the short term, long term the mess is getting bigger.


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