The system of government in this country is based on the liberal democratic tradition. This kind of government is one based on the values of religious tolerance and gives its citizens the freedom of speech. The citizens also have the freedom of association which arises from the rule of law that has been put in place to ensure that no individual is discriminated against. The practices of the government and the institutions present in the Australian government are those that reflect the British and North American models and are seen as being uniquely Australian. Being a responsible government, it houses some of the oldest democracies in the world in the sense that it has the commonwealth of Australia which was created in 1901. This happened in a period when the six states had agreed to federate. The first Australian government adopted such measures as one man one vote and suffrage of women. Women were not allowed to take part in activities involving the government.
The Australian colonies had adopted several traditions from Britain and among them were the limited franchise and public voting by many citizens. Bribery and intimidation of the voters was on the rise during that period making citizens to become less interested in voting. This prompted the government to initiate several changes in the voting system. They adopted reforms that changed the electoral practice in order for them to adopt the modern democracies. The secret ballot method of voting was introduced and this granted each voter a right in the voting system. This was known throughout the world as the Australian ballot (Columbus, 2007). They went ahead to eliminate the professional and property qualifications that gave individuals certain rights when it came to voting. All adult men were given the right to vote and the same was done for the women afterwards.
The government has a written constitution where the responsibilities of the federal government are clearly defined. It also has the high court which arbitrates over different disputes which occur between the commonwealth and the states.
The Political Issues Facing NSW (Australia) Workers
Large numbers of workers took a union organized demonstration. In this demonstration, they were against the idea by the liberal national coalition government where they wanted to directly dictate the public sector idea of wage rises (Columbus, 2007). This demonstration was with reference to the new legislation in the industrial relations commission which granted increase in rates specified by the parliament. It had been agreed by the parliament, that any increases that would be made would be subjected to strict productivity conditions. The laws being addressed here were referred to as O’Farrell laws and they are the ones that provoked anger among the many public sector workers in the state. Nurse and other support staff in hospitals had agreed to stop working as many governmental departments remained closed. Many of the civil servants were forced to walk away from their working places.
Decline in living standards had increased frustration among the civil servants who termed their pay rates as being low. Despite the fact that year after year there were increases in the wages, they still lamented that it could not enable them to meet the high living standards in the state. Democratic rights have also been violated in the civil service sector. This was evident as no effort was made by O’Farrell to maintain the wage controls. According to O’Farrell, it was the budget that was vital as it would serve as the determinant for the wage increases. It was the teller to the government on how it was planning to spend its money.
He went ahead to argue that the budget savings aimed at restricting the annual pay raises among the public sector workers and this would be done up to 2.5%. This was not meant to remain permanent as there were chances that it could even go lower especially in cases of inflation. It had been noted that nothing would stop the government in future from dictating the wage cuts it wanted to impact on the salaries of those in the public sector. These were the changes which those working in the public sector were against and this made them to go for a demonstration. They hoped that through the demonstration, they would be able to address their grievances.
The idea of the 2.5% was still a matter of discussion that had not yet been agreed upon by the parliament (Rumley, Forbes & Grifin, 2006). The trade unions however, were against the demonstration. Different agreements had been signed by different departments as they were not being granted the same rates. They saw O’Farrell as being against the idea of wage increase for the workers in the public sector. It looked like an agreement that had been reached between O’Farrell and the labour government. IRC was being considered as an independent umpire that addressed its own issues. This meant that, the public sector workers could not depend on them for addressing their grievances.
As a result, since the 1990’s the corporatized trade unions have been breaking one agreement after the other (Columbus, 2007). The industrial courts on the other hand have undermined the wages hence destroying the jobs that are created by the government. Working conditions were restructured and this was to also apply to the wages being offered.
Strengths and Weaknesses
The unity among the workers was a strength that made them to fight for their rights as a union. They did not rely much on their leaders as they had proved inefficient in their roles. When it came to boycotting the working hours, they did it as a group. They did not hesitate when it came to being retrenched. They had stuck on the code of agreement that had been reached upon none being employed. As a result, they were ready to fight for their rights with or without being assisted on their leaders. This was because, their leaders had proved to be self centered and were only ready to fight for their rights and not the rights of their subjects (Columbus, 2007).
The literate levels among the workers acted as an enlightenment with which they would use as a weapon to fight for their rights. The workers were facing complex political issues and had a protracted fight but they were determined to fight and defend their interests. The global credit agencies made requests to the Australian government and Tasmania to reconsider the laws that had been passed before about the public workers’ sector. They were expected to provide the businesses with lower taxes and to consider the budget surpluses by forwarding them to the public workers sector. As a result the federal government came up with a decision that they would force over 160, 000 workers to accept a pay rise of 3%. This was not it all as they would also be expected to accept the increase with cutbacks in the public service of 1.5% in savings.
The government had also made changes in the social welfare, public health and public education. This meant that the public workers would now have to pay for services in these sectors an indication that it was an extra expense for them.
The weakness is that the workers were not united in the trade unions which are to be the agents of addressing their grievances. This is attributed to the fact that not all workers can be able to access their leaders and air their grievances. This is the reason why they must reduce themselves to groups where they can be able to appoint their leaders and address their grievances. The industrial courts on the other hand could not be able to prevent the government from frequently changing the wage rates of the workers in the public sector. This led the wages to become ineffective in terms of the rates as they kept on fluctuating. There were several unions that had been set up to address the issue of wage increment and they did not seem to work together. The idea of Australian capitalism had a greater impact on the global crisis making much of the economy had slumped into recession.
Poor leadership was evident in this case in the sense that the leaders did not address the grievances of the workers as expected. Leaders seemed to be self centered and left the workers to fight for their own rights. Those heading the different departments in the government seemed to neglect their responsibilities and only acted to what had been passed by the parliament. Leaders had different interests when it came to addressing the issues affecting the public workers. This as a result created a conflict of interest among the leaders. This was made worse by the collapse in the financial markets in 2008. It led to a bigger assault on the workers’ working conditions in Europe and the USA (Rumley, Forbes & Grifin, 2006). This made the working class to be forced to pay for the many bills that had been bailed from the major banks.
Important Tips to Avoid This Issue
There should be a clear protocol that defines leadership in the public sector. Most of the grievances among the workers fail to be addressed because of poor leadership. This as a result leads to the demonstration among the workers hence a delay in the delivery of services to the innocent citizens. It was clear that leaders were self centered when it came to addressing the
grievances of the workers, as their main focus on what they would benefit after presenting their grievances. Due to the conflict of interests, leaders had misunderstandings on how to handle the matters of workers. The government had come into being as a result of the citizens and it was the responsibility of the government to ensure that they fought for their rights. Despite the fact that the minority parties also had a say on matters affecting the government, they lacked the freedom of commanding a majority in the chambers.
The chambers which were served with the role of reviewing the decisions of the government, this was not what they were doing. The leaders were unable to address the questions related to the issues affecting their departments. The opposition seems to have been in control of the parliament and the government at large. The leaders did not report on anything that had been discussed in the parliament leaving the citizens without adequate information about what was going on in the government (Rumley, Forbes & Grifin, 2006). The rough and tumble of the parliamentary sessions of question time and the debates were not being held peacefully and they were rarely being broadcasted. This was an indication that there was poor communication between the citizens and the parliament. The opposition used the questions to suppress the interests of the citizens and workers.
The leaders should be elected on the basis that they can be able to represent on the interests of their citizens and not their own. The government should set a law where by the workers are able to be voted out when they are found to be corrupt. It would be recommendable if the workers can be allowed to take part in the decision making process especially when it comes to initiating laws that are related to their working conditions (Columbus, 2007). This would spearhead their interests on matters relating to their working conditions. It would also be appropriate in a case where there were no many leaders representing different issues that affected the public workers sector. This was attributed to the fact that despite the many departments among the public workers, it would be sensible enough if they could all be placed under one leader.
It would be advisable if the government would be responsible enough to act with reference to the demands of their constitution (Columbus, 2007). The idea of working for eight hours a day yet the pay was not satisfying encouraged the workers to take part in the demonstration and boycott their working places. It should also be noted that those who had applied for retirement were granted the offer faster but came into conflict with the labor department in terms of being paid their pension salary. This was seen as another issue that made the workers in the public sector demonstrate as they were against the idea of leadership that was not transparent. It had become a challenge for them to obtain any vital information from their leaders who were in parliament. This indicates that in any political situation it is vital to have transparent leadership in order for the whole country to be at peace.
Columbus, F. (2007). Asian Economic and Political Issues, Volume 12. New York: Nova Publishers.
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Rumley, D., Forbes, L.V. Grifin, C. & (2006). Australia’s Arc of Instability: The Political and Cultural Dynamics of Regional Security. New York: Springer.
Sriramesh, K. & Vercic, D. (2009). The Global Public Relations Handbook: Theory, Research and Practice. New York: Taylor and Francis.
The Socialist Equality Party (Australia). (14 June 2011). The Political Issues Facing NSW (Australia) Workers.