Don’t mention the war


From Crikey:

Why did Labor join with the government this morning and head off the Greens’ motion for a debate about our return to war in Iraq?

As soon as the Senate convened this morning, Greens leader Christine Milne moved to suspend standing orders “to move a motion relating to the parliamentary approval for the deployment of Australian troops to Iraq”. Labor opposed the motion. It was supported by NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm — who expressed support for Australia’s involvement and the hope it would lead to a separate Kurdish state — PUP Senator Jacqui Lambie and Nick Xenophon.

The debate might have proved embarrassing for Labor, which is keeping close to the government on Iraq issues at the moment, unlike when Simon Crean bravely and correctly stared down internal opposition and led Labor to oppose the first Iraq debacle in 2003.

But there’s another reason, revealed by Xenophon: Labor and the Coalition have struck a deal to not consider “complex and contested motions … including foreign affairs motions” without a “proper opportunity for debate”. According to government Senate leader Eric Abetz, such motions “can have unintended consequences” (unlike, of course, foreign policy blunders). The aim of the deal is to prevent the crossbench parties and independent senators from trying to initiate debates that the major parties may find inconvenient.

The deal was agreed the week that Nick Xenophon moved a matter of public importance debate on Attorney-General George Brandis’ bizarre change to the government’s position on the occupation of East Jerusalem by Israel, which caused ructions within Labor as well as requiring the intervention of Foreign Minister Julie Bishop to repair the damage done by Brandis.

So we now have a bipartisan agreement not to debate the very issues that require the most thorough airing because the major parties might find themselves having to express a “complex and contested” opinion. It speaks volumes for the sad state of contemporary politics.

These people represent nothing but themselves.

Houses and Holes
Latest posts by Houses and Holes (see all)


  1. “Why did Labor join with the government this morning and head off the Greens’ motion for a debate about our return to war in Iraq?”

    Because this country is OWNED by foreign interests. D’uh!

    edit: More specifically, foreign bankstering interests. All Wars Are Banksters’ Wars.

  2. When is that Independent Kurdish State the US is helping Turkey to destabilise coming? Its only been 25 years in the making since Bush I lied about protecting them….

  3. interested party

    “Labor and the Coalition have struck a deal to not consider “complex and contested motions … including foreign affairs motions” without a “proper opportunity for debate”. According to government Senate leader Eric Abetz, such motions “can have unintended consequences” (unlike, of course, foreign policy blunders). The aim of the deal is to prevent the crossbench parties and independent senators from trying to initiate debates that the major parties may find inconvenient.”

    If you need proof of a two party dictatorship…..there you have it.
    Off to war we go, it looks like.
    I feel sick!

    • The sad thing is, the vast majority of people just don’t care about silly imperialism.

      As long as there’s a Bundy (delicious, I know) in the fridge and Bachelor on telly…

      I generalise, I know. But that’s how it feels.

      • I generalise, I know. But that’s how it feels.

        I know what you mean. I just spent two hours walking around a shopping mall while my car was serviced. You don’t come away with much hope for humanity after an experience like that.

      • Walk around any shopping centre, the thing that strikes the most is the sheer amount of fat, the enormous never-ending stream of waddling obesity.

      • actually i can’t believe a fat tax is not on the cards – this would pay off so much better than a carbon tax.

        My god the politicians would be renting gold plated houses from their wives.

  4. The Greens need to be kept a long long way away from decisions with respect to Australia’s defense.

    Decisions with respect to military action are a decision for the executive and ALWAYS have been that way in this country.

    Such critical decision making would not be improved by inviting political circus. Labor understands this.

    • decision for the executive and ALWAYS have been that way in this country

      Yes it has, and Aborigines were not allowed to vote once. So what?

      In 1985, Senator Colin Mason (Australian Demo
      crats) introduced the Defence Amendment
      Bill 1985, which sought to require parliamentar
      y approval in most circumstances before
      Australian troops could be deployed overseas
      . The Bill proceeded to
      the Second Reading
      stage but, without Government
      and Opposition support, did not pass

      Yes its because Laberal have Australias best interest at heart.

      Good grief.

      • Believe it or not they actually do have Australia’s interests at heart.

        Such issues are very serious and require hard headed decision making. Such decisions will ultimately be judged by the Australian community at the ballot box.

        Labor, having been in Government understand this. The Greens and others in the Senate who have never been in Government do not.

      • Tell that to Abbott he thinks Greens were running the last government.

        Did they have Australia’s interest at heart when they made it illegal for aborigines to vote too? Because the Australian people changed that not Laberal party.

      • Believe it or not, the Laberal Party does not have Australia’s best interest at heart.

        The Laberal party has the property owning Sydney and Melbourne cabals that run the party’s interest at heart.

        Over the last 30 yrs they have decimated our industry, our ecology and our communities.

        You are marketing fodder if you believe this.

    • interested party

      “need to be kept a long long way away from decisions with respect to Australia’s defense. ”

      Gramus, with all due respect……..we are not ‘defending’ anything here……….not Australian interests, at least. We are defending the bankers right to keep us all as debt slaves though.

      • I can’t believe this stuff, it is absurd to suggest this in the national interest. This is not just theoretical any more, we have the test case in Iraq 1 to back it up.

        I tried to look at both sides of the case the first time, but the now the evidence is stark. The WMD lies lead us to a world that has placed Australia more at risk, that has killed more of our people and more innocent families abroad.

        IS wants a war, they are trying to provoke a war, because it will have better outcomes for them.

      • Actually that was Iraq 2, and anyone who had been paying attention to UN IAEA special investigator Scott Richter KNEW, absolutely KNEW there were no WMDs left by 99.

        So I KNEW it was all a lie and I still got called conspiracy theorist and all the other rubbish from the time Dr Kelly got offed.

        And guess what? When, years later, it couldn’t be denied it was all a fabrication by MSM, I WAS STILL WRONG, because “how could I possibly have known”, it was just a *cough* accident *cough* that things panned out just how I’d been describing from day dot.

        That’s the problem with most media consumers, they only pay attention to 0.00001% of what they are told, and think themselves informed.

        Drives me up the bloody wall

      • interested party


        Look at this objectively. IS is a globalist creation…a tool. A tool to engineer a response; one that the media mould and manipulate to generate a required outcome or social response. Why?
        Step back from the coal face and see the big picture. The global financial system is very close to a meltdown, with very little chance of ‘growing’ it’s way out of trouble. Now, when you get articles filtering through like this one, tells you something. I says that the people at the top are aware of the situation and they are nervous about the possible outcome. So…..what to do about it? A distraction is required…one that drives fear, abhorrence, and a willingness to comply to military action. This takes a massive effort to achieve, with MSM and others ( i’m looking at you, 3d) ready to push the hard sell on military action. Not that we get a choice in the matter, but far better for the pollies if we approve of the action….we cannot complain if we agree.
        Our collective thoughts and fears are being used against us to herd us towards an outcome that will only serve the globalists. What that will be is yet to be seen, but we will not benefit…of that I am sure. Possibly we could be looking at the early stages of world war…that benefits the globalists. What follows is maybe the great reset we have all talked about here. Who knows…..but one thing I am certain of is this. IS is here by design. It is a tool to mould your thinking. The bloodier the videos and beheadings, the better our globalists like it.

    • No aspect of this disgrace involves the “defense” of Australia.

      Such issues are very serious and require hard headed decision making. Such decisions will ultimately be judged by the Australian community at the ballot box.

      The decision to involve our armed forces in conflict, outside of an immediate clear and present danger to the country, should be made at the ballot box before it happens, not afterwards, when people are dead, property destroyed and foreign relations in tatters.

    • How did our involvement in Iraq (which the Greens opposed) work out? Have they found those pesky WMDs yet? Is there a stable government?

  5. A statement should be in the constitution that the country can only go to war outside its territorial borders following a vote of both its houses of parliament.

    Personally I would favour a referendum, that should slow the march to conflict down!

  6. I don’t see any urge to go to war in America. This administration needs it like a hole in the head. In fact, anyone who thinks they want war is delusional.

    The Liberals here want troops to go in to distract from domestic issues, the Greens want troops to go in so they can argue against it.

    • This administration needs it like a hole in the head

      This administration is DONE. Finished, Everyone is looking to the ’16 battle now, it’ll start early next year, if you think the contenders don’t want a war, you haven’t been following US politics for the last 50 years….

      • …as elected representatives of the majority of voters of course!

        The rest represent a minuscule number of voters.

      • Yes!

        Labor: primary vote 34%

        Liberal primary vote 32%

        National primary vote 8%

        So at best any sitting member has 34% of the voters in his electorate.

        That’s a majority? I have no idea what you’re doing but PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD give your kid a better education than you had…

      • Mig. Labor joined the Coalition. The call for debate originated in the Senate initiated by one of the nuisance parties – the Senate is not the seat of Government. House of Reps is. Assume the Senate vote an extension of the interests of the House of Reps and you have an overwhelming majority of voters represented.

      • majority of voters represented

        Which is…. da da dum … an overwhelming minority of voters in toto.

        Glad I could help clear up your semantic machinations…

    • By not bothering to argue the case for it, both party are treating the voters with contempt. Why is Australia flying in equipment and weapons to the Kurds when there is a perfectly safe land route via Iraq? Maybe the Iraqi government doesn’t WANT the Kurds to be armed?

    • And the majority of voters.

      As Wolfgang Pauli might have said: “Not even wrong!”

      It is worth pointing out – yet again – that when muddled thinkers use the word “representative” in relation to government, they are engaging in a “semantic fallacy”.

      A semantic fallacy arises when a word which has a well-known meaning in one context (often a meaning with a strong emotional value) is used in another context in which that meaning either does not apply or cannot apply, or can be applied only by creating a tautology.

      Let’s consider the various non-political meanings of “representative”.

      First, there is statistical representativeness.

      Statistical representativeness occurs when a sample is drawn from a population and the sample is required to have the same proportions as that population for some parameters which are regarded as important. For example, it may be thought important to have the same proportions by age, or by sex, or by religion, or by income, or by weight, or by ethnic origin, or educational qualifications, or by the presence of some gene, or by place or residence, or by number of children, and so on, and so on.

      If one wanted statistical representation of this type, it would be better to choose “representatives” randomly, by lottery.

      Elected politicians are clearly not statistically representative of the population a whole. For a start, they are all politicians!! As discussed on other occasions, the very process of elective government adversely selects megalomaniacal (and possibly psychopathic) political agents.

      Elected politicians are statistically unrepresentative in all sorts of other ways as well. They tend, for example, to be more gregarious than the general population. But it is not necessary to go through all the ways in which they are statistically unrepresentative. The mere fact that they are elected politicians destroys the possibility of statistical representation.

      Secondly, “representation” may take the meaning of individual agency. For example, a barrister “represents” his or her client in court the following sense: we expect that the barrister will put forward the same arguments that the client would, assuming that the client had sufficient legal skill and was sufficiently articulate. The barristers acts as if her or she were the client.

      But that form of “representation” cannot possibly apply in politics. It cannot apply even in principle. Why? Because in politics there is more than one client, and the wishes of the clients clearly conflict. Which “client” is the political “representative” going to represent?

      The absurdity of political representation of this type is vividly illustrated by imagining oneself arriving at court one morning to find that your barrister was “representing” not only you but your opponent also, and the state, and anyone else who might claim an interest in your case!!

      In such cases, the agent is not acting as a representative but as an arbiter.

      Thirdly, there is the concept of “representation” that involves an individual or a group appointing an agent to act on their behalf. Typically they will set out the terms of the agency. They will give the agent certain latitude but require other matters to be referred back to themselves for direct decision.

      Once again – in Australia as in most other countries – that meaning of “representation” cannot apply because The People have never been asked whether they wish the politicians to act on their behalf. They have never been given a choice between direct democracy and elective government.

      In Australia and in most other countries The People have simply been told that the politicians will enjoy a monopoly on legislative and executive power, and asked which team of politicians they would prefer to exercise that monopoly.

      Had Australians ever been given an opportunity to choose between direct democracy and elective government, then one might say that those who chose elective government had chosen to be “represented”. But the politicians have always been very, very, very careful not to offer that choice. (Even if they had offered it sometime in the past, it would apply only to those who voted on it at the time and not to their distant descendants.)

      So where does that leave us?

      We can say that elective government is “representative” only if we introduce yet another meaning (a sui generis meaning) of “representative”, namely “the thing that elective government is”.

      But sui generis definitions of this type are tautological: “elective government is ‘representative’ because ‘representative’ is defined to mean elective government”.

      If you really want to know what the People of Australia want, there is an easy way to find out. Ask them! Directly. In a referendum:

      “Do you want a review of the system of government, with the details of review to be determined by a subsequent series of initiatives and referendums?”

      Perhaps the People of Australia do prefer being ruled by politicians. If so they would vote “No” in any such referendum.

      However, we know from the historical record that wherever people have been given that choice they almost invariably vote for direct democracy. And where they have such democratic rights they do not vote to abolish them, even though it is a straightforward process to call a referendum for that purpose. That is rather damning evidence against so-called “representative” government.

      So rather than telling The People how they ought to be represented, why not try asking them how – or if – they want to be represented.

      It is, after all, their country.

      Isn’t it??

      • Whom must deal the “reality at hand”? The long suffering unrepresented swill? Or the well heeled and manifold, manifestly corrupt bipartisan doupoly?

      • We are dealing with the reality. The reality that our party system is filled with psychopathic egomaniacs (and in the ALPs case the sons and daughters of) that have done nothing other than survive a system that selects for those willing to prostitute their representation to a party cabal that rewards them with a few bucks

        TO WAAARRRRR!!!

  7. If we could have a groundswell of independents knocking out some power from the major parties it might be the first step towards a representative democracy. But I’m not holding my breath.

      • Gold Medal to aj.

        The voter has nowhere to go.

        I want to vote ,say independent. The Forced preferential system makes me then vote the full card where ,surprise ,surprise there is LIB & LAB lurking. So I end up voting for a party I don’t want.
        An elected Hypocracy, not Democracy

      • Yep b. there is almost no point if voting in the House of Reps.

        It has been interesting to watch the Parties try their best to emasculate the Senate, which is the only place with a glimmer of hope. But full forced preferencing is still a problem, just saved a bit by proportional representation.

        There is actually very little that can be done in the face of such structural resistance and a brutally big marketing budget.

      • Almost impossible to get over the duopoly provided for by forced preferencing.

        The duopoly doesn’t exist because of forced preferencing, it exists because ca. 3/4 of the population will only ever vote for their team.

        Eliminate parties, make people vote for a person, not a party.

      • I want to vote ,say independent. The Forced preferential system makes me then vote the full card where ,surprise ,surprise there is LIB & LAB lurking. So I end up voting for a party I don’t want.

        The practical end result will be the same if you vote for an independent who is eliminated because nobody else votes for them.

        Further, I doubt anyone analysing results for policy or statistical purposes considers anything past a third preference or so to be indicative that the voter is explicitly in favour of that candidate.

        With that said, I would be in favour of switching to an optional preferential system.

      • I’m all for abolishing parties, in truth you are voting for an individual anyway.

        The Greeks long ago observed, during that lamentable strife remembered by generations of schoolboys as The Peloponnesian Wars, that the spirit of faction lives much longer than the reasons for faction; its polarizing and ingrained psychology rendering reforms impracticable for a two generations, whence the Athenian state was hollowed out from within and menaced from without. Ultimately to fall never to rise.

        It was great for the Oligarchs though, who literally held the society ransom with politics until at length it destroyed them all.

      • I agree drs the parties should be gone off the ballot, but forced preferencing is still the big problem. Optional preferencing is a much better democratic process, it gives a strong independent or a minor party a much fairer chance as it avoids the majors acting in concert to reinforce the duopoly.

    • The underlying issue is the tribal nature of the voter. 40% of voters will vote LNP regardless of policy. Similar, 30% of voters will vote ALP, simply because of tribal identification.

      Unless the tribal voting pattern is changed, Australia is stuck with a duopoly.

      • True, but from what I can tell from my small sample of friends from each of the tribes the natives are restless, even really angry in fact.

      • Nailed it. If you want to understand Oz politics, look no further than footy. It’s that simple.

        In this case, I tend to suspect we’ll go without sending combat troops; the reason being that the yanks also don’t want to send combat troops. I live in California, and my feeling is that such a move would be very unpopular here in the USA. I admit I have little clue, but I would bet against it for now.

        We’re looking at a proxy war as far as I can tell.

      • It’s a masssive problem.

        Just look at the comments section in most websites, straight away you see the issue derailed with your tribe is worse, or thats the other tribes fault.

        Debate grinds to a hault and we might as well be talking about sports teams for all the sense people are making

      • Once you sign up for that mortgage and or ip you’re a part of the system.

        Lib/Lab is just about who becomes the patsy. Who gets taxed more than the other. They try to dress it up with morality but they’re all just more all singing all dancing shit of the world.

      • As discussed previously (here), contrary to the claims of certain elitists it is not some “fault” on the part of The People which leads to two-party government. Rather it is the Game Theory of the single transferable vote.

        Imagine a simplified example in which there are 10 generic issues, each of which is “most important” for 10% of the population and that they are equally divided on the other issues.

        Now imagine 12 parties:

        Party A supports issues 1 to 5 and opposes 6 – 10;

        Party B opposes issues 1 to 5 and supports 6 – 10;

        Parties C to L are single-issue parties supporting each of the 10 issues.

        Supporters of Issue 1 will vote for Party A if – on balance – they prefer its position on the remaining 9 issues. Party A may be expected to receive about half of the Issue 1 supporters. The same applies for Issues 2 – 4. In total Party A may expect 25% of the vote in this way.

        Likewise, Party B may expect 25% of the vote.

        Each of the remaining 10 parties may expect on average about 5% each. They will have no effect. Under a single transferable vote system, votes for them will simply find their way to the major parties.

        (In the absence of transferable votes, even voters who might find Issue 1 of most importance to themselves might still not vote for the corresponding party because it would be a vote wasted.)

        This assumes that there is no collusion between the major parties. In practice, the major parties may collude with one another and with particularly well-organised lobby groups or campaign donors or other influential individuals or groups to ensure that certain policies are not offered at all.

        In light of the obvious futility of the battle and the high costs involved, even supporters of Issue 1 may not bother to organise a Party. They will confine themselves to lobbying the major parties – which is what is observed in practice.

        This also doesn’t even begin to account for the initial advantage created by the disengaged voter, the voter who recognises the futility of the process and has lapsed into “sullen acquiescence”. In Australia, such voters are still forced to attend the polling station, and – in front of everybody else – forced to take a ballot paper and are “directed” towards a voting “booth” where there is little privacy anyway. In such circumstances, the easy thing to do is to follow the instructions on one of the how-to-vote cards, most of which are provided by the well-funded and well-organised political parties.

        The system of elective government simply cannot reflect the underlying preferences of the population. Voters can only choose between the two blocs of Oligarchs who will rule them for the next three years.

        Of course, there is a simple way to check if the People really do prefer this form of government: hold a referendum with the question:

        Do you support a review of the system of government, with the details of review to be determined by a subsequent series of initiatives and referendums?

        Then you would see some changes!!

      • bhandley is onto something.

        Labour voters are very unhappy with Rudd/Gillard/Shorten, but that’s nothing compared to how a lot Liberal voters seem to feel about Abbott. Regardless of voting systems and all that other stuff, they’re skating on thin ice if they don’t engage with their supporter base soon (that goes for both of them)

      • Gl. This is exactly it. Marketing is a huge part of the problem.

        People acknowledge that cigarette marketing is very successful and has damaging outcomes but delude themselves about how easily they are manipulated by the big Party brands.

        Political advertising is as cancerous as tobacco advertising.

        Advertising and branding works. That’s why so much money is spent.

  8. Don’t forget the war in Ukraine. Victoria Nuland and the American neocons have done everything they possibly can to start a war with Russia.

    The first casualty of war is the truth.