JOHN MENADUE. Conservatives set the rules but they keep breaking them. (Repost from 7 February 2017)

Many people around the world are concluding that the system is rigged in favour of powerful insiders who bend the rules. The populists – Trump, Farage, Le Pen and Hanson are adept at tapping into that disempowerment and the sense that the system is rigged against them.  

Perhaps not surprisingly I was reminded of the conservative penchant to break conventions and the rules by the Trump victory in the US. He told numerous lies, but conservatives still lined up to vote for him. They didn’t care about conventions , rules and honesty. Simon Schama described Trump as fostering a ‘parallel universe of lies which are habitual, massive and cumulative’. Trump lied that Obama was not really an American citizen, that Muslims cheered the 9/11 attacks, that Obama and Clinton co-founded ISIS and that ‘illegal votes’ would rob him of the popular vote. Trump said he would not accept the result if Clinton won. Yet he now accepts the result, even though he got almost three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. If the situation had been reversed, Trump and his conservative supporters would have been outraged.

After the 2000 US presidential election, the conservative US Supreme Court intervened in the most politically partisan way to stop further counting in Florida which could have changed the result in favour of Al Gore. Republican state governors continue to rig boundaries to advantage Republican candidates in the House of Representatives. The Supreme Court supports action by conservative state governments to curtail enrolment of the poor, Afro-Americans and ex-felons. The Supreme Court lifted any sensible restriction on private election funding. In Congress, Republicans did all they could to make the political system unworkable. These conservatives who are used to running the show could not accept a black president. Barrack Obama reappointed the Republican James Comey as Director of the FBI . He trusted Comey but Comey then did his best to bring Hilary Clinton down. He succeeded.

So much for rules and conventions!

If in the UK there had been a 52%/48 % in favour of staying in the EU do we really think that Nigel Farage and his cohorts would have accepted the result? I don’t think so.. He would have said the fight goes on. Some are expected to play by the rules and accept the result but the Farages of this world know better.

The Abbott government established Royal Commissions to enquire into the previous Labor government’s administration of the Pink Batts Scheme and the trade union movement and its links to the Labor Party. They were partisan political exercises, that cost a lot of money and produced very little. But the Royal Commission we should have had and still should have is an enquiry into how John Howard cooperated with George Bush and Tony Blair on the basis of flawed ,even doctored information to take us into the invasion of Iraq with the millions of deaths and horror that followed. Yet Kevin Rudd, played by the rules as he saw them that new governments should not institute enquiries about previous administrations.

With our military ‘over there’ it is inevitable that terrorists are ‘over here’. Millions of Muslims are offended by our intervention in their homelands. We would be also if the situation was reversed. The conservative culprits like John Howard are not brought to book for the terrorist problem they created.

Yet they play terrorism for every political advantage. If conservatives were really serious and honest about what rally drives the terrorist threat they would immediately pull all our military forces out of futile and appalling action in the Middle East.

We never got to bottom of the AWB wheat for oil scandal in Iraq in 2005 that Paul Volcker found was the biggest source of kickbacks to the Iraqi regime.

Tony Abbott took a wrecking ball to the federal parliament during the Gillard /Rudd periods . Conservatives justified that as legitimate but now scold the ALP for not being more responsible . Leigh Sales does it all the time.

Our media and particularly the Murdoch media highlights when the poor, asylum seekers, disabled people and single mothers break the rules but turn a blind eye to massive tax avoidance by the wealthy and powerful ,including the Murdoch family itself.

In NSW the Liberal government was happy to allow the ICAC to bring to heal Labor people like Obeid, Macdonald and Maitland, but when the ICAC turned its attention to the grandees of the Liberal party , it effectively stymied the work of the Commissioner and forced her to resign. The ICAC is now miserably compromised.

In the 1975 dismissal we saw how unprincipled conservatives play the hard game. The Queen’s representative deceived the Prime Minister. Two High Court judges conspired to bolster the Governor General in his actions, and one even became a private mentor in Kerr’s plan to dismiss the Whitlam government. The Queen, Prince Charles and the Queen’s private secretary allowed that travesty in Australia to proceed, knowing what the Governor General intended. Yet these are the people who preach the values of tradition, the rule of law, conventions and abiding by the rules.

Many people around the world are concluding that the system is rigged in favour of powerful insiders who bend the rules. The populists-Trump, Farage,Le Pen and Hanson are adept at tapping into that disempowerment. and the sense that the system is rigged against them.

But what is the ALP doing in response to this disempowerment. Not enough.

In own structure is rigged against its own rank and file.

Its policies are timid. On major economic policy issues the ALP has gone AWL On security and foreign policy we have tweedle dum and tweedle dee.

The ALP shows little interest in tackling the powerful vested interests and their 1000 lobbyists that infest Canberra and effectively disempower the community.

The elites have become more and more self serving and remote in a badly rigged system.. Think of our bankers and their calculated contempt for critics.

A radical agenda on many fronts is necessary to head off the populists before it is too late.


John Laurence Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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6 Responses to JOHN MENADUE. Conservatives set the rules but they keep breaking them. (Repost from 7 February 2017)

  1. Colin Cook says:

    Our present ‘democracy’ needs to be recognised as very immature; how can our politicians and their media mates go on endlessly about needing to consult us directly about same sex marriage and refuse to allow our representatives to even discuss taking us to war. See more at

  2. David Brown says:

    and Labor (and all MPs) are conflicted

    once MPs are elected and getting paid well, providing they toe the line and do whatever it takes to stay in Parliament, and perhaps even in the winning group

    they get a chance to see what others are doing and “being human” and wanting to do the best for their families etc must be severely tempted to follow the pattern

    we should be very impressed and provide strong support for any MPs that actually work for the greater good despite all their surrounding temptations

  3. michael lacey says:

    Mega-swindles define the nature of contemporary capitalism.

    The rare arrest and prosecution of any among the current tribe of mega-swindlers would only results in their being replaced by new swindlers. The problem is systemic and requires deep structural changes.

    If you want to stop it be serious build a political movement independent of the two party system, willing to nationalize the banks and to pass legislation outlawing derivatives, forex trading and other unnatural parasitic speculative activities.

  4. Robert Fox says:

    I suggest two hypotheses for this phenomenon.
    1. Their interest is to preserve the money and privilege they possess, and so conservatives have to hold on to power because they have no other goal, no other vision.
    2. They are filled with fear, and cannot relinquish control.

  5. Geoff Davies says:

    Excellent, except I think you’re too kind to the ALP –

    But what is the ALP doing in response to this disempowerment. NOTHING

    The ALP shows NO interest in tackling the powerful vested interests

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