[ Cranky Lizard acknowledges the outstanding paper prepared on these matters by Neil Laurie, the Deputy Clerk and the Clerk of Committees of the Queensland Parliament. Some matters mentioned by Cranky Lizard in this article are drawn from this paper. Cranky Lizard has no legal training, is not a qualified lawyer and is not qualified to give legal advice. Cranky Lizard wishes to ensure that we are all quite clear about this ! ]
A Federal Election approaches.
Sometime this year, Australia will have a Federal Election, and we shall, as a Nation, send a new mob of Parliamentarians into our Federal Parliament. In that place they will form a government and govern, this Nation for the next three years, or thereabouts.
Cranky Lizard reckons that it might be a good idea to think about what we are doing and what powers we are conferring on these people that we send into our Federal Parliament.
We all know that the fundamental principles of our Parliament are based upon the Westminster system of government; that which currently applies in the United Kingdom. This is a form of government and a type of parliament which extends back over centuries and can draw from a bottomless well of experience, custom, tradition and knowledge.
The Westminster Parliament has two Houses: The House of Lords and the House of Commons, and it is the House of Commons with its extraordinary powers, and the extension of those powers, which has attracted the attention of Cranky Lizard.
So what powers are we talking about?
“The House of Commons is regarded as the Grand Inquest of the Nation and may inquire into any matter it desires.”
“The power of the House of Commons as an inquisitor does not arise by virtue of any statute or any other written instrument but by virtue of ancient usage and practice
[ the lex consuentudo Parliamenti ].”
“…the House of Commons, as part of its power incidental to the Grand Inquest may call for persons, papers and things. Questions asked must be answered or things sought must be provided. Disobedience to such an order would be contempt.”
A broad interpretation of these powers means the House of Commons, can if it wishes to do so, conduct investigations into any matters and demand that people and documents attend the Parliament and answer questions. Failure to do so invites contempt of Parliament which, in turn, must be purged by imprisonment or confinement at the pleasure of the House.
It is highly unlikely that this would ever occur – but the latent power exists.
Does that power apply to the Parliaments of Australia? Well, Yes and No.
Much has been written, and many words have been spoken in arguments for and against this question, the result of these discussions, and written arguments is that the matter remains in contention for some and for others it is quite clear that:-
[ Here I refer to the reference material in direct quotation ]
“ …if the Fitzpatrick and Brown case is correct – and it has not been seriously challenged by the High Court – and the Commonwealth Parliament can commit for contempt and be virtually imperious to review, then the Houses of Parliament have the effective means to ensure compliance with any inquiry. “
What this all means is that the people we send to our Commonwealth Parliament are people we entrust with special powers and privileges. Apart from making laws and spending our money – they can, if they decide to do so – compel you to attend Parliament and be subject to severe inquiries about your activities and may use the principle of contempt to ensure that you do so. As unlikely as it sounds, Parliament can lock you up in prison!
Cranky Lizard points out that this is most unlikely, but there is a precedent, and the power arguably exists.
Think about who you vote for, folks, remember what power you are handing to them. Voting in our system of democracy is an exclusive right, a right for which men and women of this Nation have fought and died for, do not squander this privilege.
Now, some other bloody things….
Cranky Lizard observes that the practice of driving on the wonderful beaches on the ocean side of Bribie Island is becoming rather crowded these days. The hoon brigade have been let loose, ripping along the sand tracks in the National Park in tricked-up Nissans, Tojos, Pajeros and Mazdas. Island wildlife is being crushed beneath the spinning wheels, sensitive tracks and growth zones are being torn apart by large, aggressive sand track tyres and, in some cases, small intellects along for the ride.
Cranky Lizard suggests that the beaches and entrance points to Fraser Island have become so overrun with assorted four-wheel hoonery, that it is easier and more attractive, for many four wheel drivers and their families, to head for Bribie Island beaches. Unfortunately, the wild-eyed adventurers of the more irresponsible members of the four-wheel drive community, and they are, by far, a small minority, have reached the same conclusion.
How many permits can be issued for driving on the beaches and in the Nationa Parks, on one day or for a weekend? Maybe it is time to look at that. Cranky Lizard has spoken to many residents from Banksia Beach to Woorim who have some pretty ordinary tales to tell about Sunday afternoons watching the ‘ mob ‘ queuing to get off the beach or taking the alternative route through the park and hitting the main roads near Banksia Beach.
And another bloody thing…
South East Queensland is becoming overpopulated. Arterial and link roads are rarely free-flowing roads anymore. Each time Cranky Lizard spots a grove of trees or some open space it seems as if it is only a few short weeks and the houses; those that are getting smaller and smaller and closer to each other are cobbled together and another suburb named after trees, or explorers, or football players, or tennis players or whatever appears on the map.
The popularity of this region of Queensland is creating its own problems.
The current State Government focuses on two highly unionised sectors of the economy, education and health.
Both of these sectors deserve Government focus and funding for they are in a symbiotic relationship with growth – but growth also requires infrastructure and despite the efforts of hard-working and well-intentioned local members of the State Parliament of Queensland, strategic infrastructure planning is not readily evident in the Bribie Island road corridor. Bribie Island access points or even Bribie Island building planning.
Commonsense will tell you building office blocks and apartments on Bribie Island thereby materially increasing the population without providing for new bridges and wider roads is setting new standards of urban planning by totally ignoring the consequences.
Cranky Lizard may be wrong and has missed the point, but, apart from some Federal funding as a result of the recent By- Election in Longman, financial commitment to the Bribie region is obviously lacking.
So, if Cranky Lizard is wrong and there is plenty of infrastructure planning taking place in this region, supported by credible evidence make a noise, tell Cranky Lizard to get some proper research together.
There you go. There is a challenge for you all.
Enjoy your days.