A constant topic on South Sea Republic is the balance and separation of powers in the Westminster system of government. As Joh showed when being quizzed by Michael Forde, he had absolutely no idea what the separation of powers was, is, or even meant. A unicameral parliament in the Westminster style of government has even fewer checks and balances on Executive power than a bicameral parliament. Joh flourished in the unicameral system.
The wonderful display of executive ignorance used to be on the web, but unfortunately disappeared. Thankfully Bryan Palmer's excellent website
on Australian politics preserved the interplay between Forde and Bjelke-Petersen
at the Fitzgerald Inquiry into the Possible Illegal Activities and Associated Police Misconduct;
Michael Forde: What do you understand by the doctrine of the separation of powers under the Westminster system?
Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen: The Westminster system? The stock?
Forde: The doctrine of the separation of powers under the Westminster system?
Bjelke Petersen: No, I don't quite know what you're driving at. The document?
Forde: No, I'll say it again. What do you understand by the doctrine of the separation of powers under the Westminster system?
Bjelke Petersen: I don't know which doctrine you refer to.
Forde: There is only one doctrine of the separation of powers.
Bjelke Petersen: I believe in it very strongly, and despite what you may say, I believe that we do have a great responsibility to the people who elect us to government. And that's to maintain their freedom and their rights, and I did that - sought to do it - always.
Forde: I'm sure you're trying to be responsive to the question, but the question related to the doctrine of the separation of powers or the principles -
Bjelke Petersen: Between the Government and the - Is it?
Forde:No, you tell me what you understand.
Bjelke Petersen: Well, the separation of the doctrine that you refer to, in relation to where the Government stands, and the rest of the community stands, or where the rest of the instruments of Government stand. Is that what - ?
Bjelke Petersen: Well you tell me. And I'll tell you whether you're right or not. Don't you know?
Such stunning ignorance for one who held so much power.
I covered the Queensland system of government in the article; Focus on Queensland
. The system of parliament is unicameral in Queensland. This means there is no upper house, only a Legislative Assembly. Both the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territories also have unicameral parliaments, though the ACT has the Governor-General who can act/impose on the territory's self-government.
Queensland originally had a bicameral parliament, with a Legislative Council until Labor sent in a suicide squad in 1922 and managed to dissolve the Legislative Council. Queensland had no Governor at the time, and a Labor member of the Legislative Council was made Lieutenant-Governor - quickly adding fourteen new members to the Council - enabling legislation through to abolish the upper house.
The real Executive power in the Westminster system is contained in the Executive Cabinet. This is a group of senior elected officials, led by the Prime Minister or Premier, who advise the Governor-General or Governor on government policy. Originally the Westminster system was a British hack to remove the political power of the monarch, while maintaining their ceremonial authority.
Consequently there is no clean separation of Executive and Legislative power. The Executive power is the ability to implement and enforce a law. The Legislative power is the ability to create legislation that can be implemented. In the American Presidential system, the President cannot make a law, and Congress cannot enforce a law. In the Westminster system of government the Prime Minister or Premier control the arms of government that both make laws and enforce those laws.
Tyranny; Written, Funded and Enforced
The fear is that a Prime Minister can make a tyrannous law, fund it, and then enforce that law. One of the reasons for a bicameral parliament is to act as a moderate brake on the Executive power of the Prime Minister or Premier. Ensuring that tyrannous or irresponsible laws are not passed.
Party discipline has weakened this effect - and Australian political parties practise absolute party discipline. No dissent is allowed. Until recently it was not uncommon for American Congressmen and Senators to conscience vote. Not so in Australia.
A feature of the Australian federal system for the last twenty years has been the rise and popularity of the Australian Democrats. They have managed to obtain sufficient numbers in the Senate to act as a conscience and responsible brake on the legislation that has come from the Executive Cabinet. Sadly the popularity of the Australian Democrats is on the wane.
A unicameral parliament is weaker in combating tyranny than a bicameral parliament. Embedded and inherent in the parliamentary system is a skewing of power to the Executive. A unicameral parliament, combined with absolute party discipline has no check on the power of the Executive. This leaves a Premier to not only write tyrranous laws, but also to pass, fund and then enforce them.
Joh Bjelke-Petersen was obviously a despot, who abused the power of government. But the unicameral system of government contains few restraints, minimal checks, and no balance between the arms of government. Politicians prefer this, those in majority government constantly seek absolute power, actively deconstructing any barriers impeding their ability to act as they choose.
It is no surprise when Queensland combined the Bills and Acts in a single Constitution during 2001 that Premier Beattie maintained a unicameral system. Like Joh, and every other politician that has occupied the head of the Executive Cabinet; the less oversight, the less barriers and the fewer checks - the better; in their opinion.
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.