John Menadue. What does Labor stand for.  Part 2

From values to principles

The purpose and role of a Labor Government could be to give expression to the values set out below – to achieve as far as possible the ‘common good’.

Values such as fairness, freedom, citizenship, stewardship and ethical responsibility would be generally accepted by most people. As the values are translated into practices however Labor makes a choice that can be further defined as principles that then lead to policies, e.g. the value of fairness can be expressed in the principle of a stronger link between contribution and reward- a link which has become severed by hugely disproportionate executive pay, high returns to rent seekers and financial speculators and the long head-start of inherited wealth.

The following is indicative of a set of values and their expressions in principles which could underpin a Labor platform/policy statement.

Fairness or equity

A ‘fair go’ is primarily about economic opportunity.

People should be provided with a good education and those who put it to socially useful ends should be rewarded. Governor Lachlan Macquarie was no socialist but his ‘tickets of leave’ gave the outcasts and underprivileged of this country another chance. We built a nation from many of this underclass. We must give a chance for newcomers and all people to have another opportunity.

Fairness promotes social mobility and limits division and resentment.

Fairness should not be restricted to education.

The path to prosperity with fairness is through productivity and well-paid employment rather than government handouts. The Scandinavians have demonstrated that education and incentives for participation do produce fairness and economic prosperity.

Fairness implies that we are tough towards ‘bludgers’, whether they be tax-dodgers, the vulgarity and indulgence of those with inherited wealth, protection from competition, government hand-outs and favouritism or cheating on social services.

Fairness implies full employment as a macro-economic goal to ensure human capabilities are not wasted.

Areas where we fall short in fairness include

  • neglect of early childhood education,
  • treatment of the needs of indigenous people and refugees,
  • diversion of education funding to wealthy schools,
  • neglect of public infrastructure
  • Inadequate ODA.  In Joe Hockey’s last budget we cut ODA to $5b per annum, the largest cut in spending. Yet we spend over $8b per annum on our dogs and cats. Does that reflect our values?

Freedom

We all have rights to the extent that they do not lessen the rights of others.

Except where the rights of the vulnerable are at stake, the government should not intrude into the private realm.

Denial of freedom does not happen overnight. It is eroded step by step.

We must be vigorous in promoting our freedoms-freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the rule of law and free and fair elections

The potential abuse of power should be minimized by the separation of powers and the separation of church and state and clear opposition to sharia law

Areas where we fall short in freedom include

  • The growing power of cabinet and executive which is not adequately balanced by parliament. We have an ‘elected monarchy’.
  • We have no Human Rights Act.
  • We have reduced freedom as a result of counter-terrorism legislation.
  • The media increasingly fails to protect our freedoms and often facilitates abuse of power by lobbyists e.g. miners.

 

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