Saturday, November 28, 2009

Saturday Morning Musings - Liberal implosion, the importance of the Commonwealth

This week can best be described as a blogger's nightmare, just to much to write about!

In Australia, the Liberal Party implosion over the Emissions Trading Scheme has understandably dominated news to the immense, almost unseemly, pleasure of Thomas on blog, Twitter and in Facebook. Thomas, a political tragic from way-back who is usually more immersed in US events, has written some interesting stuff.

For my part, I simply don't understand the Liberal Party factions. Factions used to belong to Labor. Their emergence in the Liberal Party over the last fifteen years is a significant story because of what it may say about the nature of change within Australian society. Perhaps Thomas will explain to me some day.

One of the interesting features of the whole affray has been the inability of the media to properly understand Mr Turnbull. He has been playing the game a little outside the rules as understood by the journalists, creating interesting (to me) tensions in reporting.

I have no idea how things are going to play out. I simply don't know enough about the internal world of the Liberal Party.

Just guessing, Mr Turnbull will try to get the ETS legislation through Monday. If he does, then the dynamics of Tuesday's Party meeting will shift. If he fails, then he will certainly fall Tuesday and the Government will probably go through to a double dissolution election. All very fascinating.

  The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting is being held this weekend in Trinidad and Tobago, drawing together the leaders of 53 Commonwealth countries.

As an aside, I really hate Flash. There was a rather great photo of the leaders grouped in front of the flags with the Australian PM in the front row on the far right. But is it unusable, at least to me.

CHOGM has been associated with a large variety of events - youth forums, business meetings etc, drawing together people from this very disparate entity. In population terms, the Commonwealth is the largest and most varied global entity after the United Nations. It is also a body that has been struggling to some degree to redefine itself after its earlier successes in aiding the de-colonisation process.

A major survey carried out by the Royal Commonwealth Society as part of its Commonwealth Conversation program pointed to some of the problems. Support for the Commonwealth is highest in developing countries, lower in developed countries. In all cases, there is a lack of knowledge of the Commonwealth.

Of all Commonwealth countries, Australia appears to have the least knowledge of and support for the Commonwealth. I accept that I am old fashioned, but I think that's a pity.

At a purely practical level, the Commonwealth provides an entry point into a variety of cultures that are different yet linked through history. Love or hate the Empire, its imprint is still with us.

My daughters and indeed my wife might challenge this, but I knew far more about other countries than my daughters do at the same age. Yes, it was a partial slice, the world coloured pink on the map, but it was still knowledge outside the confines set by Australia.

Things change. Yet, perhaps, I can be forgiven for continuing to argue that things like the Commonwealth are worth preserving because they broaden us.  


Royal Commonwealth Society said...

As the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting concludes, join in the largest ever global public consultation on the future of the Commonwealth. Participate in the Royal Commonwealth Society’s debate at

Jim Belshaw said...

Will do so.