The Love of Power

Parliaments are meant to act as a robust check on the excesses of power.

That’s necessary because politicians always think the reasons their policies aren’t working is because there wasn’t enough money allocated or they had too many people interfering in the decision-making process.

I am yet to meet a political leader, one who is actually leading a government, who actively looks for that government to do less rather than more.

Every policy failure helps them to make all sorts of rational justifications for their desire to centralise authority. But more often than not, it is the centralisation of authority and the lack of scrutiny and accountability that is the problem in the first place.

The Victorian government is the best Australian example of this.

The centralised and unaccountable decision making at the start of the pandemic cost the lives of more than 800 Australians. Countless more were associated victims as lockdowns, curfews, and other questionable health measures were imposed.

They broke businesses, drained bank accounts, and ruined lives.

Some of us warned about the perils of granting state premiers ‘emergency powers’ and the potential abuse of process they represented.

Emergency powers were clearly an opportunity to impose an iron fist on the state, and it’s quite clear that Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has not missed any chance to do so.

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Earlier this year, Andrews sought a permanent extension of that dictatorial authority through the Pandemic Management Bill.

It concerned many civil libertarians; those concerned with the rule of law and those familiar with the irresistible lust of politicians for power.

That sentiment was noted by critical upper house crossbench MP Rod Barton, who said earlier this year:

To have this completely open-ended leaves us having to rely on faith that future leaders will not exploit this vague legislation. This is not good enough.

Given the Andrews government’s track record, it’s not just future leaders we should be concerned about.

In any event, Barton, from the Transport Matters Party, changed his mind and his vote allowed the bill to pass.

He claims that safeguards on arbitrary detention have been built in, but this is sheer sophistry.

No single person or political committee should be able to curtail the liberties of any citizens with no reference to parliament or the judicial system.

This is simply an outrageous step for any government in Australia to take.

And, I am sorry to say, the insatiable desire for power isn’t limited to hard left Labor governments either. Soft left Liberal ones aren’t that different.

South Australia’s Marshall government sought a permanent extension of their emergency powers earlier this year. It was only the pushback by some principled Liberal MPs that forced Marshall to abandon his own plans.

But now that the Victorian legislation has passed, it won’t be long before others follow suit, citing Victoria as justification.

I regret to say that this country has already taken steps toward tyranny that most of us could never have envisaged.

It’s been justified to save us all while governments sought to eliminate an invisible enemy.

Whatever threat this virus or any future one may pose to the populace, it pales in comparison to the danger of granting almost unfettered power to our politicians.


Cory Bernardi,

For The Rum Rebellion

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As a member of the Liberal Party of Australia for over 30 years, Cory fought to support Sir Robert Menzies’ vision of stronger families, fostering free enterprise, limited government and supporting civil society for the ‘forgotten people’.

He is currently Chairman of the Bernardi Family Investment Office and provides regular current affairs commentary on Sky News Australia and other media outlets.

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