Power to the people not to fools in power
Political power is akin to a restricted drug, beneficial when used as intended, but dangerous when employed recklessly.
Such recklessness has been much in evidence on both sides of the country in recent days with Western Australia vying with Queensland to see which state could most effectively shred democracy.
Queensland got off to a flying start with Annastacia ("my government") Palaszczuk's ill-conceived, politically motivated and ultimately abortive attack on freedom of expression, which was designed to shield her and her cabinet of head-nodders from public scrutiny in the lead-up to the state election. As an own-goal, it takes some beating.
Over in the west, however, Premier Mark McGowan was lacing up his bovver boots and preparing to trample over the state's legal system to defeat Clive Palmer.
Mr Palmer, on the evidence, is not one of nature's gentlemen. The fact that you might not be inclined to welcome him into the bosom of your family, however, does not deny him the right to due legal process.
When Palmer launched legal action for damages against Western Australia over mining claims, an action that had every chance of success, Premier McGowan last Friday rammed through legislation in a desperate five-minutes-to-midnight dash to deny Palmer his legal rights.
This is the sort of stuff you see in tinpot South American dictatorships. McGowan's defence was an unsubstantiated claim that if Palmer had been successful, it could have bankrupted the state. In Western Australia in 2020, citizens' rights are protected by the legal system as long as they don't look like costing the government money.
If they do, democracy gets tossed out the window.
You cannot help but wonder if the draconian regulations that have been enacted since the advent of COVID-19 in this country have emboldened our politicians to flex their regulatory muscles.
As a nation, we have meekly allowed ourselves to be subjected to greater restrictions on our liberties that existed during two world wars. We may have complained but, as a society, we have obeyed the dictates.
Some are questionable. We are the only democracy in the world that prohibits its citizens from travelling overseas.
If people wish to leave the country and be subject to quarantine protocols when they return, surely they should be allowed to do so.
We accept the argument that the curtailment of personal freedom of movement will eradicate the virus, despite the absence of any proof that this is so. It is likely that, along with the rest of the world, we will have to live with it or watch our society return to the Stone Age, but politicians, wedded to the idea that wielding absolute power will somehow carry the day, cannot concede this is a possibility.
I turn on the TV in the evening and am subjected to a lengthy advertisement extolling the virtues of the State Government's Cross River Rail project. If I am to believe the slick hype, my life will be forever changed when this eighth wonder of the world is unveiled.
What I am really seeing see is the result of hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars having been wasted on a cynical, party-political exercise to improve the public's perception of the Palaszczuk Government.
The locations of railway stations have been changed to suit a political purpose and professional advice ignored to serve the same end resulting in massive cost blowouts, threats of legal action by construction companies and half-truth piled upon half- truth by politicians. It's immoral, purely and simply, and an abuse of power.
In Victoria, Premier Daniel Andrews wields absolute power while being economical with the truth when questioned, the results of which are plain to see as the death toll continues to climb.
When the removal of one set of personal liberties is seen to fail, then the solution is seen to be the removal of more and the imposition of a curfew, which will achieve absolutely nothing other than adding to the misery of the populace.
When in doubt, hide behind the advice of an unelected medical officer to camouflage the abuse of office.
In the Northern Territory, the Chief Minister Michael Gunner, facing an election on August 22 and suffering from a dangerous overdose of power, has declared that the NT's borders could remain closed for another 18 months in a desperate bid to attract votes and hang onto his job.
We are by nature a fairly easygoing nation and have been largely happy to chant the we're-all-in-this-together mantra.
The danger is that politicians may come to mistake our good-natured compliance for subservience and believe that the opportunity exists to further crush our freedoms and so remain in power.
Should we sense that time approaching, we must be prepared to say "Enough!"
Originally published as Power to the people not to fools in power