JERRY ROBERTS. Labor’s deadline is near. Do we have an Opposition?

The Senate Economics Legislation Committee is due to submit its report on the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019 on Friday 28 February. Labor Senators on the committee have led critical scrutiny of the proposed legislation.

Will the report reflect their criticism and will Labor join the Greens in defeating the Bill?

The cash-ban bill formally known as the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019 is an outrageous attempt by the Government to support the banks when Australia moves to negative interest rates. Nobody is more outraged by this measure than Liberal Party rank-and-file but elected members are ignoring their concerns.

The bill was introduced to the Parliament in September and passed through the House of Representatives with surprising ease. Under this legislation Australians can be sentenced to two years in prison for spending their own money.

Fortunately, the Senate Committee did excellent work interrogating government and regulatory officials to reveal the phony nature of the black market, organised crime and taxation arguments put forward. Labor Senators Alex Gallacher, Kimberley Kitching and Jenny McAlister and Senator Rex Patrick of the Centre Alliance put the heat on witnesses brought before their Committee, which is exactly what our elected representatives are supposed to do.

Moreover, the issue has been covered comprehensively on You Tube by economist John Adams on the channel he shares with financial analyst Martin North and by roving reporter Robbie Barwick of the Citizens Party. This is a ray of hope for Australian democracy. Our mainstream media are part and parcel of the political and financial establishment and will regale us with endless trivial pursuits about leadership struggles, travel expenses and sports rorts but we won’t hear much about the serious stuff.

The single most concerning feature of Australian democracy right now is the strategy adopted by Labor in Canberra under the leadership of Anthony Albanese. The Party appears content to sit on its hands for the next two years, say as little as possible and do even less, keeping its nose clean while watching the Government make mistakes.

An Opposition in a democracy that fails to oppose bad legislation cannot sit back and disown the legislation when the public wakes up. Lazy Opposition members are as guilty as acquiescent Government members who toe the Party line. The Opposition has a vital role to play in a democracy. It is truly part of the government.

A Labor member of Parliament whom I encountered in a suburban shopping centre in Perth admitted that the Party “squibbed it” on the pivotal issue of the mining tax in 2010. If Labor “squibs it” with the cash-ban bill and cosies up to the Government and the banks, the Party will be even less likely to oppose the religious discrimination legislation which I personally regard as the most dangerous move made by any Australian government in my memory.

The religious legislation continues to fall apart on the drafting desk because of two inherent problems that won’t go away. The legislation is based on a big lie and is attempting to achieve the impossible. The lie is that religious freedom is under threat in Australia. This is the polar opposite of the truth and thus qualifies as a “big lie” as defined by Joseph Goebbels.

Australia is the gold standard for religious freedom. Our easy-going acceptance of various religions is the envy of the world. The impossible quest is the attempt to deal via legislation with an Israel Folau situation. Such matters cannot be codified. They are all about man management, as noted by rugby coach Alan Jones.

The best hope for the cash-ban and religious legislation is that Scott Morrison, now a good deal less confident than he was a few months ago, will have the wisdom to let them slide down the notice paper into peaceful oblivion.

If the bills stay alive we will rely on the Labor Party to find the four-letter-word our schoolboy football coach used to spell out in his memorable three-quarter-time speeches — G U T Z. Will our Parliament represent the people or will it represent the banks? That is the 64 billion dollar question.

Jerry Roberts is a member of the ALP


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5 Responses to JERRY ROBERTS. Labor’s deadline is near. Do we have an Opposition?

  1. Jerry Roberts says:

    Hi John. The point that worries me about the mainstream media is that every man, woman, child and dog in Australia has watched Bridget McKenzie on television firing a shotgun and kicking a football but the deadly cash-ban legislation may yet sneak into law while millions of Australians remain in the dark. The problem, as you often describe it, is that Labor members cannot wait to get back into office so they can play their rorts while the civil service has lost the gravitas and expertise to act as an impartial umpire.

  2. john austen says:

    Mr Roberts: thanks for the informative article. on the question of the Opposition I continue to be contacted by Federal MPs of both major parties saying what a good job they are doing handing our your money – and what a bad job the baddies on the other side of the fence are doing. Mr Taylor and Ms King are examples. Both (pretend to be?) are unaware of the basic illegality of the programs, no matter what criteria are involved. They, like the Auditor General and apparently Mr Gaetjens, treat the sports rorts controversy as a bit of mission creep. However, Prof Twomey’s submission to the sports inquiry put it as a lack of respect (of the lawmakers) for the law: ‘If Members of Parliament are concerned by the increasing disengagement of the public from the political system and the lack of respect for politicians,then this is a potent example of precisely what causes it.’ Coupled with your example, this is a worry. What gets my attention though is the Royal Commission in the words of the Prime Minister is for: ‘In particular, we need to consider the need to establish new powers for the Federal Government to declare a national state of emergency to trigger direct Federal Government responses to national disasters, including the direct deployment of the Australian Defence Force.’ Under the pretext of ‘climate change’. Imagine if there was a bit of ‘mission creep’ that. I think we should all be alert if not alarmed. Thanks again.

  3. Felix MacNeill says:

    In the immortal words of Emiliano Zapata, it’s better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.

  4. Jocelyn Pixley says:

    I would place the climate crisis as number 1, next, the appalling religious Bill and definitely 3rd the “cash-ban” bill, for the LNP’s worst horror moves, thanks Jerry. Banks have been longing to get all of us in their control. They make profits on getting us indebted and this can mount up if no one can avoid the financial sector. Can you imagine bank “charges” if we can’t use cash, notably for those who barely get by?
    The excuses are to “catch” the tax evaders and the money launderers. That is laughable after Westpac’s 23 MILLION breaches nine months after the banking Commission, and CBA’s 53,000 laundry breaches. Tax evasion! Start with high wealth – we see daily that zero has been done. Albanese’s Labor is timeserving much to my disappointment too.

  5. Andrew Glikson says:

    When it comes to the critical issue of global warming, there is hardly any “opposion”.
    The “2050 zero emission” policy advanced by Albanese takes no account of climate science since at that stage CO2 levels will have exceed 500 ppm (or 600 ppm when methane and nitrous oxide are combined with CO2), pushing mean global temperatures to 2.0 degrees Celsius and higher. Further, the “2050 zero emission” target takes not account coal and gas export, which is more than four times the domestic combustion. According to ALP’s frontbencher Joel Fitzgibbons “Labor will not harm coal industry to meet 2050 net zero target”, which means large scale coal mining would continue.
    Whether combusted domestically or overseas, it all goes into the same atmosphere.

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