In the US, we can individually elect four different positions to federal government.
Optimistic Skeptic
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In Australia we elect our politicians (federal, state and municipal) but not any of our judges or bureaucrats — they are appointed by the elected politicians or by statutory bodies (which are appointed by the elected politicians) — who are supposed to be independent of politics.

What I was writing about in my piece was the erosion of our civil liberties and civil rights, in the name of keeping us safe. It is an insidious process, because we can’t clearly see that is happening — it is done a little bit at a time or, even worse, by stealth.

In the state of Tasmania, the Parliament has passed a law that makes it illegal for people to protest to stop environmental destruction by mining, forestry or agriculture. Specifically, the law defines a protester as someone who engages in an activity “for the purposes of promoting awareness of or support for an opinion, or belief, in respect of a political, environmental, social, cultural or economic issue”. Unless overturned by the High Court (the equivalent of the USA Supreme Court), it makes protection of the environment against voracious industries very difficult (agriculture is not so much a problem as farmers are themselves increasingly joining these protests). Penalties for simply protesting are as high as AU$10,000 or 4 years’ jail.

In the state of New South Wales, the the government is proposing changing the fines that can be exacted from mining companies breaching mining permit conditions or even mining without a licence; now of AU$1 million per breach, this would drop to AU$5,000 per breach (yes, five thousand dollars — not even petty cash for a mining company). At the same time, the NSW government proposes to increase the fines against protesters to similar level of those in Tasmania.

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