15th August 2023
There can be no argument that Victoria is a standout State in Australia for all the wrong reasons, but why?
In trying to identify why things in this State have deteriorated so dramatically in recent years, it is notable that the Separation of Powers concept has all but disappeared from public discourse.
The CAA is strongly inclined to the view that this State’s decline, with no sign of abatement, all stems from a failure of the principle of the Separation of Powers.
That was clearly and intensely evident during the COVID pandemic, with the Police response seemingly dictated by the Government.
What has evolved is a massive block of Labor’s apparatchiks, achieved through ideological nepotism throughout the public service and all Government authorities.
It would seem appointments are made not on the ability of the individuals but on their ideological bent. Structured in a way, they are beholding to the greater good, the ideology they all share, not the State citizens they are responsible for serving.
This has allowed the evolution of the ideological mass that has achieved the critical level of avoiding independent thought, the mass that has lost its independence of thought and rolls on engulfing any who get in its way.
Shades of the mythical ‘Blob’.
The power of this mass is frightening, deliberately caused by the Premier and those around him seeking ultimate power and control.
What the architects of this mass have underestimated is that the mass appears to have developed its own ability to grow and as does the real risk of it engorgeing the designers who are losing control, hence the more outrageous machinations of parts of the Legal system.
Initially, an attractive proposition for any Government putting people in key positions that have compatible ideological values, rather than competency for their function, which means that every decision is made through an ideological prism rather than a pragmatic reality that good governance requires.
The worst possible thing that can happen to any society is the removal of the safeguards that are the cornerstones of democracy.
The Separation of Powers is not a concept that is front of mind to many. However, its importance cannot be overstated.
Public officers are required to implement the Policies of the Government of the day, but that should not diminish their obligations granted under the various legislative Separation of Powers, bestowed on them to give critical and independent advice, particularly to Government Ministers.
Police are a critical example. A sworn police Officer cannot be directed to charge somebody with an offence if they do not believe there is a reasonable likelihood that a Court will convict. Equally, a Court must determine its findings in criminal matters based on the evaluation of the veracity of the evidence, not influenced by political ideology.
This concept is repeated throughout the Legal system, and the failsafe, the Separation of Powers, must be protected.
There are very strong indications that the ideological mass has permeated the legal system, in particular, the senior people appointed to critical decision-making positions.
We have seen many instances where serious charges have been dropped without explanation and where what appear to be obvious serious criminal offences have not been prosecuted, again without explanation. The community are not privy to the reasons behind this turn of events but are entitled to know.
Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done.
This begs the question as to why the Director of Public Prosecutions, Kerry Judd, is unwilling to keep the public, and, perhaps, more importantly, victims informed.
No better example of the failures was the decisions made by high-level bureaucrats in relation to the non-prosecution of the main alleged architects of the Gobbo fiasco.
An example of where the Separation of Powers, political and State administration, may well have collided, and because of the severe lack of transparency, the public does not know why these decisions have been made.
They may well be quite proper in the exercising of the authority of the bureaucrat but morally reprehensible in practice, allowing those who are of the ideological mindset of the government to avoid proper scrutiny and accountability.
The CAA implores all politicians for a bi-partisan approach to reviewing the application of the Separation of Powers to be undertaken.
It must surely be attractive to all politicians to have the bureaucrats being held to account for their administration rather than the politicians who can focus on Policy.
We are not opposed to amendments to Ministerial Accountability rules to achieve joint responsibility for the functions of the administration from the relevant Minister to the head of the Department with the ability for sanctions to be applied for failures.
Furthermore, it does not serve us well that Departmental heads can hide behind their Ministers, or the lines are so blurred as to the Separation of Powers – the loss of checks and balances will lead to more problems, and, inevitably, corruption.
To be clear, the dilution of the Separation of Powers for Victoria Police was created with the Police Act of 2013. This legislation was introduced by the then minority-conservative government.
There is little doubt that the unintended consequences, as they have manifested, were unlikely to have been anticipated.
A by-partisan examination and review of the Police Act is also essential to remove anomalies that currently exist.