There has been a lot of vigorous debate on Twitter about the Encryption Bill and Labor’s role. Here is my take on how it all panned out and why. I think the WHY is important because no one seems to want to discuss that. The WHYs are just as important in politics as the Whats, Hows, and Whens. Please note, this is not a debate about encryption technology. It is my take on why Labor made certain decisions. Everyone can decide for themselves.
1) Labor does not support “The Encryption Bill” in the raw form as written by the Liberal National Government. This is a misrepresentation being touted on Twitter. It is important to note, that this is a Liberal National Party Government Bill, that Labor must respond to. Labor is not the author of this Bill and did not write the content of this Bill in its first form.
2) Labor members were part of the committee which made a lot of recommendations to change the Bill. The Bill was deemed urgent as ASIO had requested new powers over Xmas, due to new technologies they don’t have powers for now (encrypted messages).
3) If Labor opposed the Bill, Liberals had support from Katter & McGowan in Lower house with no changes and could pass it anyway. Therefore, Labor’s opposition adds nothing but protest in this instance, as no outcome could be achieved. People angry at Labor need to weigh up if this was a viable solution.
4) If Labor opposed in the upper house (Senate) without taking time to work with the Government, the Government then had days of horse trading with X-Bench like Hanson, instead of Labor (I certainly don’t want that!) to make amendments to the Encryption Bill. People angry at Labor need to decide if this was a viable alternative to Labor blindly opposing).
5) So to prevent Hanson and co horse trading with their racist minds on National Security, Labor worked with the Government and made over 100 amendments. Amendments are protections – like control measures in risk management.
6) Time pressure was a huge factor, because ASIO said they needed these powers over Xmas and parliament was shutting down until February.
7) On Thursday 6 December, 2018, the Prime Minister shut down the lower house to keep kids on Nauru (Because the Liberals are sick in the head like that). After a Bill is passed in the upper house, the lower house needs to be in operation to ratify the Bill. (So the amendment solution Labor worked on to add protections to the Bill was now squashed by a political game played by the Morrison Government).
8) The Liberals closing parliament at 5pm was a game changer. All the hard work to make amendments would not be ratified. To reiterate, this move was made by Liberals to keep sick kids in offshore detention. (People should be really, really mad at this).
9) Because Morrison clocked off early, this left Labor with the responsibility and decision to give ASIO power. This was in light of the advice that there is an increased terror threat over Christmas. (Which makes sense because there are lots of crowds, right?)
10) If even one amendment passed, the Bill would have had to go back to lower house, which was no longer an option. This would leave ASIO with no new powers as requested. That is, except if Labor decided (in the absence of the Government who shirked their responsibility as a Government) to pass the Bill without amendments.
11) Bear in mind the experts warned of increased threat. Terror experts know more than most of us. (They don’t tell us everything because you know, Terrorists read the news and watch TV as well).
12) Because the Govt shirked their responsibility by going home, Labor had to weigh up pros and cons of increased threat, whilst weighing up the pros and cons of passing a flawed bill that a lot – a real lot of people outright reject, based on civil rights, privacy and other IT related concerns.
13) Labor erred on the side of caution, because terrorism is pretty shit and kills many innocent people.
14) With this in mind Labor had no choice but to pass the Bill to assist ASIO, if they were to take this threat seriously. Let’s face it. We EXPECT a Government to take ASIO seriously when it happens. Labor must act as an alternative Government and not a protest party (that’s why Labor mostly, does not act like the Greens).
This decision I personally support regardless of Govt. (I have faith in ASIO, others don’t, as they expressed on Twitter yesterday, which terrifies me).
15) Labor had to pass the Bill in the raw form with no amendments, because even if one amendment was passed, it needs to go back to the lower house. This wasn’t an option if ASIO were to be assisted over Xmas, because The Prime Minister and Govt clocked off at 5pm so kids on Nauru couldn’t get medical treatment. (Plus they had a knees up at The Lodge)
15) (i) The Liberals and Bernadi filibustered in the Senate (delaying a Bill by speech making, sometimes about nothing) so the Bill for Nauru kids was not passed in the senate before the Prime Minister shut down the lower house.
15 (ii) This means this was a pre-organised obstruction to get kids off Nauru. Which is pitifully sickening. The fact that people are not more outraged about this, than Labor passing a National Security Bill, also sickens me.
16) So Labor made the decision to pass the Bill to assist ASIO. To reiterate, Labor had to consider the advice of an increased terror threat over the Christmas season.
17) Labor passed this on the proviso that the amendments, including input from the public and experts is held when Parliament returns in February.
17) (i) This Bill passed with Greens, CA and Storer opposed to the raw bill. This means the Government only needed one of these to pass the Bill without Labor, which is a real possibility based on track record and the incentive for them to make their own amendments, if Labor did not make amendments. It is impossible to judge if Centre Alliance and Storer would or would not have supported the Bill with amendments that were not their amendments either. Regardless, this is a huge risk to take and why Labor took the action to make amendments to the Bill, rather than blindly protesting with no input. For example, It appears that Senator Patrick’s main issue was with the urgency of the Bill. He appeared to agree in his speech that that ASIO needed additional powers. This would not take much convincing from a Government to win him over, in my opinion.
Therefore there was a real danger the Bill could have been negotiated with input from two major Senators well known for racism, Hanson and Anning, plus the rest of the right wing cross bench. (Except Storer – I cant work out what he stands for yet.)
17 (ii) This is the lie the Greens peddle all the time, to try to get people to vote Green instead of Labor. That is, Labor has the numbers to oppose the Liberals if Labor sides with the Greens. It’s absolutely not true and the Greens must have that many pimples on their tongues, I’m amazed they can talk!) Yes, I know, I know, I can’t stand the Greens, but this is just mathematics. It’s a valid point, because on Twitter especially, this lie gains traction.
18) A side note, but an important point, is about a week ago, Howard (former Liberal PM) advised that Morrison could win the election on National Security. So if you have noticed, there has been lots of talk about Security, boats, and even kids getting medical treatment “opening the borders.” In politics, this is called fear based campaigning, but my term for it is “sick in the head, baseless gobshite”
19) But let’s face facts. The Liberals do have a track record of creating real terror for people with regards to Terrorism. It has worked in the past.
20) If Labor didn’t pass the Bill, and a real or “foiled” terror attack occurred then Labor would have been to blame.
21) If this did occur and Labor ignored ASIOs advice, we all know, the media largely enables this fear based environment with Murdoch Press, Shock Jocks and Sunrise doing live Crosses to Hanson, on a horse in country QLD, wearing a vegemite TShirt and an Aussie flag scarf, for “regular updates.” To add to that, no doubt Prime Minister Morrison would hold a 50 flag press conference in his Trump hat, screaming about “Fair Dinkum Terror.”
22) People may argue this was the main factor. It may be a factor considered, but so is the responsibility of alternative Govt and being left with the responsibility to give ASIO Powers over Xmas, in light of a terror attack. My personal opinion is decisions were based on increased risk of Terror and advice from ASIO, but also with an awareness of a fear campaign, which Labor would have already thought about, Bill or no Bill.
23) Morrison played this game on Thursday, because he would have in no way expected Shorten to pass the Bill with no amendments. Morrison would have had a campaign tactic ready, based on “keeping us safe” which he no longer can use. For those who purely enjoy the analysis of political strategy, I personally think Shorten outdid Morrison, If this point is simply isolated, without the difficulty of the content of the Bill in Question which has serious flaws, as noted already by Labor, and needs more work.
24) Sadly, Morrison May have achieved his aim regardless. The anger towards Labor on Twitter yesterday, was to the height of epic proportions. Voters taking the view that Labor could have stopped the Bill without any negative consequences, who now exclaim they won’t be voting Labor, in my view risk another term of the Morrison Government.
25) There is no magical realm where Liberal or Labor won’t Govern. Liberal, LNP, National, Shooters and Fishers, Independents and One Nation voters won’t be punishing the Liberals. But Morrison has achieved his aim to “split the left.” Which is good for no one else but him, now he is a Prime Minister who can’t be toppled.
26) For those who are angry at Labor, this is their own action with a negative consequence for them to consider. Every single vote counts.
A Wicked Problem
In Operations Management we refer to this entire scenario above as a Wicked Problem. This is where every solution results in an alternative set of problems.
Regardless of the decision that is made; there is no decision where a solution will result all positive consequences. Every decision has negative consequences. Importantly, no decision will make everyone happy.
Decisions when dealing with Wicked Problems are therefore based on reducing the most harm.
In this instance, and in my opinion, Labor decided the most harm would occur if a terror attack occurred over Christmas if ASIO was ignored.
Therefore, in my opinion, Bill Shorten and Labor put the safety of people before politics, contrary to the view of some very vocal people, including media personalities, on Twitter.
What would you do? Which negative consequences do you choose, based on your decisions for this scenario?
WHY’s Are Important
I have written this because I am fielding a lot of questions on Twitter because I agree with the Labor Party’s decisions on this matter. Debates are quite heated and plenty are attacking Labor – without the discussion of these points – the WHYs.
As I said in my intro, the WHYs are as important as the Whats, Whens and hows, in politics.
The absence of the WHYs I believe, is a blight on our political debate. When the Why’s or any context is ignored, I strongly feel that this makes people much more insular and they will rapidly form groups. Context is so very important.
One person commented to me on Twitter that simply because “I was outnumbered” and although I presented a good argument, I had to basically relent and join the popular voice against Labor.
That comment REALLY made me think about the power of Twitter. How it separates us into groups. I do get into quite lengthy debates on Twitter, however, I will never, ever change my position because it is not popular. I will never sit on the fence, so people may “follow me.” Although sad, I will accept, people will mute and block me, because I won’t agree with ‘their view.” and that’s life. We can’t do that in real life, we simply avoid uncomfortable topics around certain people, we don’t agree on, and remain civil, but it is the life on social media.
People will say I am fairly partisan with Labor; which I most certainly am. However, if anyone does engage with me on Twitter, I always aim to come from the point of the view of the “Why or How” about a view of Labor that is not popular.
This is quite prevalent, simply due to the tactic that the Greens run about Labor. The Greens (and some Independents now) always focus on the “WHAT” and do not tell anyone about the “WHY or HOW.” For example, Labor may reject a Bill, because the Greens have put it in the wrong format, or attempted to change the wrong Bill, or followed the wrong Process – all reasonable reasons why it must be rejected, because it will fail anyway. However, the Greens then make a meme that LABOR VOTED WITH THE LIBERALS TO X, Y, Z SOMETHING REALLY HORRIBLE!!
Its a duplicitous tactic the Greens play all the time and it is dishonest. In a climate where people are sick and tired of dishonesty in politics, I think the finger really should be pointed strongly at the Greens for a change. Throughout this entire debate over the last few days, the Greens applied this tactic time and time again, to pose themselves as saints, when they were purposely fuelling anger. This should also remind people that minor parties do not wear halos and they are indeed politicians. They are not voices who wear halos.
The absence of the WHY, may not clear up the bad taste in some people’s mouths, over Labor, if they read the points above; but at least I have tried to give a different perspective, than “Doesn’t Excuse them being Shit” (as said by Greg Jericho of the Guardian on Twitter.)
I Am Not A Bot
I would like to state very, very clearly, in case Senator CFW “you are a Labor bot” woman is watching me. Although, I’m a card carrying member of the Labor party, this blog is always and always will be completely my own thoughts. I have had no discussion, or instruction or by anyone else within the Labor party.
As this article is based on my own thoughts, anyone with anything to add to the PROCESS described above, which is factual, that I may have missed, or I may simply have wrong, is also welcome.
I won’t welcome anything that is a tech rant, because that is refuted as far as I am concerned until the Bill is in its final form, after public consultation and with all recommendations and amendments included. (Sure, comment, but it’s not the discussion I’m looking for).
I won’t welcome baseless untruths promulgated through Tweets, newsletters, memes, Instagram or Facebook by the Greens. These are already refuted based on the basic mathematics of addition, where numbers for and against a Bill are added for all scenarios detailed above.
Something To Think About
I hope at least I’ve added something else to think about, that outright protesting that the Greens insist Labor should do, does not always result in a positive outcome, based on the numbers in the current set of both houses.
Also, that an alternative Government (opposition) and Government, must sometimes make really shitty decisions, that people are not going to be happy with, knowing there will be huge popularity slumps for them to deal with as well. What party wants that?
The parties that can Govern – that is, Labor and Liberal/National coalition – simply do not have this luxury of doing and saying whatever they please, without judgement.
I also want to shout out to the self identified “far more intelligent non-partisan” people on Twitter that I wrote this all by myself because Partisan people can also think for themselves. This is contrary to the belief us partisans are brainwashed for knowing where we sit on the ideology spectrum. Also that we can’t have any thoughts of our own because we don’t sit on the fence, or try to appeal to everyone, so they like us. (Sorry, in context – too many pathetic insults about this towards “us Labor People” on Twitter yesterday).
Frankly, I’d prefer an argument with a conservative with conviction, rather than someone with no heartfelt ideology. At least I’d understand their position.
I am also very sad, that there was more outrage over this, than there was with the Social Security Amendment Act and the ABCC – which causes actual death. Have we lost our way? Why is this?
This last point, is the point that probably brings the most fear to me and my motivation for writing this piece. If the argument is true, that Morrison played this game, because he thought he had an advantage politically to gain ground in the polls; then from the reaction yesterday, this does very much concern me.
Its not that I am very dedicated to the Labor cause; but because in reality any other alternative than a Shorten Labor Government, means a Morrison Government for three more years.
If this tactic does work and enough people are angry at Labor, then the result will be the return of the Morrison Government. Voting Green or Independent does not guarantee a Shorten Government, regardless of how people try to spin preferential voting. Splitting the left is the Liberal Party’s major dream. Remember the utmost AIM of the Liberal’s entire existence is to break the working class. You do not get solidarity for the working class by dividing us into smaller groups so we turn against each other during an election.
Morrison thinks he is Trump and his tactic here is to make sure the electorate punishes Shorten, so he is Australia’s Trump after the electorate punished Hilary. Punishing the alternative Government, when you don’t want the current Government, gives you back the current Government you do not want. It is no more clear than that.
The type of angry mob dialogue works and it is EXACTLY Morrison’s aim. He will be absolutely beaming with glee at the moment. I ask people to think about their political priorities, such as work rights, joblessness, stigma and punitive social security, the destruction of TAFE, cuts to Higher Education, Education and Health and cuts to Medicare, such as people over 50 no longer able to access MRI scans for knees etc., Only a Shorten Labor Government can achieve progress on any of these issues and give workers and the jobless back some goddamn dignity and rights.
Please seriously think about what it would take for any other party besides Labor to Govern, to knock off the Liberals. Risking anything but Labor, is unrealistic, it has no precedent in modern political history, and it is not a practical option. If you are passionate about issues and still don’t like Labor, please still vote for Labor, at least just for this election and for issues you are passionate about, use third party advocacy that is not about Governance of the nation. Join your Union.
The alternative of a Morrison Government for three more years, with a ‘mandate of the people’ is an unbearable, terrifying thought.
Cheers for reading. Feel free to place a comment below.