Last week's guest, former prime minister Malcolm Fraser, argued that our current political leaders are a disgrace for demonising asylum seekers, patronising indigenous people and failing to promote Australia's independence in our region. He also argued we'd get better public policies were people with experience, independence and principle to enter Parliament, rather than apparatchiks. Below are excerpts of his live chat session.
While I admire Fraser coming out in his retirement and it all sounds good, there is surely a bigger picture to be told of who is behind most of the suffering in this world. Fraser should be in a position to know the answer to that, as it is the rich and powerful, and no, not just Rinehart or Palmer. Come on, Malcolm, blow that whistle and herald the trumpets, otherwise it is just more tail chasing. Still, credit where it is due in the narrower sense. Peter G, NSW
MALCOLM FRASER'S RESPONSE: One of the great challenges of democracy, a challenge which it has not met effectively, is to stop too much power going to the rich and the powerful. It is an issue which has corroded American politics and we are following on the same track.
Malcolm Fraser is saying what many of us have been thinking for years. The party system of politics is now failing to represent the needs and wishes of the people. The American alliance, the cornerstone of our foreign policy has long since ceased to serve our interests. To continue with it will lead us only into future wars of no benefit at all to us. No party has the guts to dump it. What this country needs is a parliament composed entirely of independents. Bob32, Melbourne
MF: A parliament of independents is unlikely. What needs to happen is to break the power of the party machines, destroy their control over preselection process. I would introduce a primary system for the selection of candidates. For a federal election if a political party wanted to field a candidate in a seat, it would need to have 5000 members voting. At least it would break the power of the factions and more independent people would be elected.
What a refreshing article to read (but sad at the same time). If (and it's a big IF) the general media in Australia could bring itself to be non-party, non-political, non-self interested etc and start telling the Australian public the complete TRUTH about policies being debated and passed in the Fed. Parliament, things would improve. Correctly informed voters will be able to make better judgments when voting in elections. Fred of Currimundi
Agree. Our media serves us very ill indeed. They are focused exclusively on the trivial, especially the trivial that smears one side and lauds the other. It is way beyond childish, for most children have a clearer sense of fairness. kavik, ballina
MF: The quality of the Australian press has fallen greatly. There used to be six or seven proprietors, now one or two and one is foreign owned. We need more ways of getting information out new media, the internet can play a role but they do not yet have the influence that is needed. I would like to see truth being publicised about all policies but people probably have no more confidence in newspapers than they do in politicians.
What I would like to know is why Malcolm Fraser held the right-wing policies he did when he was prime minister. Has he actually changed or was he constrained by his party and/or other vested interests? wotnext
He grew up. It is also apparent that if you were to insert the old Fraser into Australian politics right now, he would make the current crop (other than the Greens) all look right-wing and uncompassionate. Fraser is right that most Australians are not racist . . . Whether there are 1000 or 5000 boat arrivals is, for rational people, trivial in comparison to what our broader economic, environmental, and social policies are. But to stupid racist people, it becomes all-important. Luke, Melbourne
MF: My right-wing reputation began after the downfall of the Gorton government. In the days of the Cold War when the Soviet Union was outward-looking and aggressive, I felt the West needed to show a strong and united front. Since the Cold War ended, it is different. As prime minister, I opposed apartheid, I supported land rights for Aboriginals, the Human Rights Commission was established, the Ombudsman and the Administrative Appeals Tribunal were working effectively, the first freedom of information was passed, the Galbally Report on post-arrival services for migrants was established and our policy in relation to refugees was humanitarian and generous. My government also passed the first legislation providing family allowances directly to mothers for support of their children. I don't believe my policies in these areas were right-wing.