AQ 92.3 - July 2021
The majority of people don’t take an active interest in the mechanistic processes of our democracy. Yet most of our country's democratic energy is expended when no one is watching, in the review, amendment and horse-trading of the legislative arena.
This edition of AQ, has a particularly procedural flavour to it, but please don’t let that put you off. From the high-profile revelations of a Royal Commission through to the oft forgot Senate Committee processes, it is good to be reminded that our democracy is more than just triennial elections and the shouting matches of Question Time.
Switched-on Report, Switched-off Client: the Samuel Review of National Environmental Law
Once in each decade, Australia's national environmental law, the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is subject to comprehensive independent review. These reviews are required by law, which can leave the government, and certainly the current government, as something of a reluctant ‘client’. What has the response been to a review that recognises the ongoing degradation of the environment and the laws put in place to protect it? And, in the government response, why is everything not as it seems?
Old and Broken: What comes next for Aged Care?
Few things hit closer to home than the best way to care for our ageing population. 1.3 million Australians access aged care services each year, which means that millions of others are indirectly affected by the care that these services provide to ageing parents, family members or loved ones. The Royal Commission has laid bare the shocking state of the system, yet is complicated by disagreements between the Commissioners on how to fix it. Yet what do we risk losing if we miss this historic opportunity for reform?
Maria Inacio, Sarah Bray, Gillian Caughey, Steve Wesselingh
The Absentee Dissenters: A Tale of Two Reports
In July 2019, the Senate referred an inquiry to the Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee. The inquiry into ‘Nationhood, National Identity and Democracy’ was a recognition of a growing sense that democracy was under threat. Yet in February 2021, the inquiry resulted in two reports – the main response of the committee and a dissenting report from two Senators who had joined the panel only two weeks before it was due to report its findings. This is a tale of two reports and the lamentable state of bipartisanship.
Slouching Towards Jerusalem: Pentecostalism and the End Times
Australian governments have been staunch supporters of Israel since Doc Evatt succeeded in his UN campaign to partition Palestine and create the Jewish state. Yet in light of ongoing human rights abuses, unconditional support needs a rethink. Under Prime Minister Morrision, we have the most pro-Israeli government in Australia’s history. What does Israeli nationhood, and the occupation of Palestine, have to do with Morrison’s own Pentecostalism – and how might it be influencing his policy decisions here at home?