Condemning Barack Obama from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London last night (Australian time), Julian Assange found himself channeling the US president.
The Wikileaks founder’s statement to a throng of waiting press, police and protesters was Obama all over. In the hype the speech stirred, particularly among his London supporters, many of whom wore Guy Fawkes masks. Also in its flair for the dramatic (he left his audience, part of which was yearning to arrest him, waiting for a good half-an-hour).
The two men have more in common than you think. Both have been described, and criticised, as idealists.
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The Parliamentary Christian Fellowship is a non-party political group of strongly Christian MPs in the federal parliament, who meet unofficially to discuss politics, parliamentary life and faith. Way back in 2004, the convener, Bruce Baird, put its membership at 60 out of a total number of 226 federal MPs.
However, one of his religious colleagues (who did not want to be named) said the figure was more like 75. Talk among non-religious members of the Press Gallery now suggests that there may be as many as 90. This means that the percentage of highly religious MPs in the parliament could easily be around 40 per cent.
The latest National Church Life Survey quotes a figure of 9 per cent of Australians who are regular weekly churchgoers. This could roughly be said to equate with the degree of religiosity evinced by most members of the PCF. This means that these people are over-represented in the parliament by four times that of the general community.
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Transparency’s all the rage these days. And accountability. Politicians and public servants promise lots of both. “Our commitment to transparency is evidenced by our actions,” Kristina Keneally declared in parliament in November 2009.
With Kristina’s words ringing in my ears I approach a NSW government department with a request for an interview. “We value transparency”, its website declares, “the exchange of current and relevant information.”
This will be easy, I think to myself.
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Coalition Senator Michael Ronaldson decries the current mixed funding system of elections in his post on the Punch last week.
Early last year the newly elected Government introduced the Commonwealth Electoral Amendments (Political Donations and Other Measures) Bill 2009 to the Senate to make political donations more transparent. However the bill was defeated by Liberal Senators who did not want to clean up our campaign finance system.
Australia has a very clean electoral system by world standards. While we don’t hear complaints in Australia that elections have been rigged, the funding system is in need of some reform.
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