Dear politicians. Parliament is not your safe space

2 Dec

peaceful_protest

 

The reaction of the political class and some journalists to the protest in parliament house on Tuesday is an example of the kind of arrogance and entitlement that has alienated many in the US from their major political parties, and voting patterns would indicate a similar disaffection is well under way here.

Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek advised citizens that if we wish to engage in the democratic process, we need to get ourselves elected. This remark seems to indicate that the democratic process belongs to politicians: citizens, once we’ve elected them, are excluded.

On reflection, this is pretty much what democracy has become in Australia. We elect a government based on many factors, among them promises made by candidates. Government then disregards the very undertakings that enabled their ascendance, and voters are thus excised from the “democratic” process. Plibersek isn’t that far off the mark. Citizens participate only insofar as we vote. After that, we do as we’re told.

Protesters are invariably described in pejorative terms, as if protest in itself is regarded as contemptible by politicians. One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, for example, claimed that she and her staff could “smell the protesters, they hadn’t even bothered to shower.” This is in keeping with the long association of legal protest with “the great unwashed.” During an Occupy Melbourne demonstration, former Human Rights Commissioner for Freedom turned Liberal politician Tim Wilson, tweeted that peaceful protesters should have the water cannons turned on them. Insults such as grubs, vermin, losers are hurled at peaceful protesters: a metaphorical association with “dirtiness” the political class assumes it is entitled to protection from.

The arrogance of the political class, their belief that they are superior to the citizens who elect them and pay their wages, nowhere reveals itself as starkly as in their attitudes to legal protest.When protest occurs in the House at Question Time they are confronted on their own turf, turf they believe to be sacred and protected from the citizens who put them there, citizens who are now irrelevant until the next election.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten claimed Tuesday’s protest was “the exact opposite of democracy.” Really? I thought protest was democracy in action, and  protest in the House of the people the fulfilment of democracy’s promise.

Journalist Malcolm Farr also stated on Twitter that if we want to speak in parliament we should get elected. Or perhaps we should all become journalists with press gallery credentials.

The “us and them” narrative has shown itself in all its ugliness, in these reactions. Perhaps parliament ought to be sacred ground, perhaps the HoR ought to be regarded with the reverence ideally due to democracy’s engine. But a House and a parliament is only as good as the people in it, and it’s been a long, long time since we’ve had good people driving our democracy train.

The only power we have, in between elections, is the power of peaceful protest. Take it right up to them. Protest in the House politicians have so thoroughly defiled.

Peaceful protest is not terrorism, nor is it the threat of terrorism, though they will attempt to frame it as such in an effort to suppress. Politicians want to be protected from the sight and sound of dissent. They want Parliament House to be their safe space. It isn’t. It belongs to everyone. This is still a democracy, Ms Plibersek, Mr Shorten. Shame on you.

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17 Responses to “Dear politicians. Parliament is not your safe space”

  1. Stephanie Cornwallis December 2, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    The stupid bastards. Considering the way they behave inside and outside of parliament, and their constant rorting of their parliamentary expenses, and their manifest sense of personal entitlement, and their policies, especially as regards refugees, and their posturing, and their utter refusal to give a straight answer to the simplest question, and their endemic disingenuousness, they should be glad the great unwashed even give them the time of day.

    What these protests tell you, you parliamentary morons, is that we don’t just elect you – we also watch you, with growing disgust, day after day. And that in the long run, although you hubristically strut and preen as much as you like, you WILL one day be held accountable. Because we are the people, and we are your employers.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. auntyuta December 2, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

    I would like to know how many people in Australia are deeply troubled by how asylum seekers are treated when they try to enter Australia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 3, 2016 at 6:56 am #

      Yes, so would I, auntyuta. I really have no idea, and I doubt there’s much information available.

      Liked by 1 person

      • auntyuta December 3, 2016 at 9:05 am #

        That’s it, there should be more information available. I suspect, this could be the ‘silent’ majority. And if it is a ‘majority’, how is it possible to silence this majority to the extent it has been silenced. Or perhaps it is not the majority, meaning that sadly the majority in our country are truly satisfied with the way our politicians handle this matter. But deep down nearly every Australian must be troubled that we cause the asylum seekers so much suffering. They just do not dare to voice their concerns because they are all the time scared of a great ‘invasion’. Well, how scared are they really, when people with a lot of money buy everything they like here in Australia, and then take their profits out somewhere else?

        Liked by 2 people

        • Jennifer Wilson December 3, 2016 at 1:19 pm #

          Good point that last one, auntyuta.
          I suspect a lot of people don’t think much about the refugees on Manus & Nauru. Out of sight, out of mind, which is the government’s intention. I don’t know how much coverage commercial tv & tabloids give for ppl who don’t get their news from ABC, Guardian, etc. I suspect as well that much commercial coverage is negative, encouraging ppl to support the govt.

          I really don’t know where it will end for the refugees. It’s criminal, what we’ve done to them.

          Liked by 2 people

          • auntyuta December 3, 2016 at 5:06 pm #

            And I think what is so enormously criminal about it is that it just goes on and on and totally respectable and decent people seem to think that there is nothing wrong with it. It is beyond belief really how people can be so self-righteous. When, oh, when, are they going to wake up to it that they are wrong, wrong,wrong . . . .

            Like

      • Marilyn December 3, 2016 at 6:12 pm #

        The department of border farce and ignorant criminals have now blocked the public from their web news.

        Like

    • Moz is Sad (Couch is at home, Moz is at work) December 5, 2016 at 9:08 am #

      Somewhat less than 10% of the voters considered it an issue they would change their vote for in the last federal election. I suggest the real answer is significantly less than that, but it’s hard to know because there is a lack of choices.

      From my limited reading the last election came down to: fuck those reffo cunts (National, Liberal, ALP and sundry minor parties of the far reich); I wish this problem would go away (Xenophobe, Fielding); we have to help these people (Greens, sundry minor parties of the ethics-focussed sort). The latter got about 10% of the vote.

      Unfortunately the “refugees: kill or help” question was bundled in with “Environment: fuck that shit right up or try to let live” and “future generations: fuck those cunts or my precious babies?” and a few others, with generally the same group of parties shuffling round in the spectrum of “max damage max fast” to “more damage, faster” and the same residual 10% of the population going “why so angry, Australia?”

      Liked by 2 people

      • Moz is Sad (Couch is at home, Moz is at work) December 5, 2016 at 1:45 pm #

        Also, in retrospect Peter Garret wasn’t so bad after all when a bunch of koala suits jumped on stage with him to protest him voting for clearfelling. He was more “ok, point taken, can we do the official thing” with a kinda resigned look on his face. He absolutely deserved to have people protesting at him, and reciting Oils lyrics at him. “sell my soul” springs to mind.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Jennifer Wilson December 5, 2016 at 8:54 pm #

          Ah, it was a sad sight to see the man in parliament. I hear the Oils are planning a comeback now he’s left the House.

          Like

  3. Kade December 3, 2016 at 8:55 am #

    these Parliamentarians see themselves as an Elite where vocal protest on the streets is for the poor and dejected. The language they speak is that of favor and personal gain. If you have nothing they covet then shut up and move aside. Democracy is an illusion and a dream.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jennifer Wilson December 3, 2016 at 1:20 pm #

      An illusion and a dream. I don’t want to think that, Kade, but increasingly it doesn’t seem to work, not this version of it anyway.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marilyn December 3, 2016 at 6:13 pm #

      It’s the other way around, the scum in the house think they are the poor down trodden put upon victims of the hoi polloi elites out in the street. The poorest of the poor, refugees, aborigines, anyone who objects to their facist policies are the ”aylite.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Jennifer Wilson December 4, 2016 at 8:02 am #

      Yes, I just read it. I think it’s very good, very well thought through and reasoned. Good question as well: Why didm’ you protest? Turning it back on questioners. Excellent.

      Liked by 1 person

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