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Reasons why the ACT is better than NSW – Jon Stanhope

By johnboy - 18 July 2008 82

In the first of a weekly series I shall explore the things about the ACT which a year in NSW has taught me are better here.

And the first one of them is Jon Stanhope.

No… wait… bear with me here. If you don’t actually have to live with the consequences of his Government Jon Stanhope is a lone flickering beacon of decency on the Australian political landscape.

Who else actually stands up for human rights, for freedom of speech, for double jeopardy and habeus corpus, even when the outcomes of sticking up for these principles are unsavoury?

The Times [The real one, not the Crimes] former editor Simon Jenkins once wrote the following which is my quote on Facebook:

    “Every age refights the Civil War in its own way and ours is no exception. Roundhead and Cavalier,

    Whig and Tory, Gladstone and Disraeli, Labour and Conservative, each conflict is an echo of the original.

    Every age has its own Cromwell, the man repainted, regilded, forged, twisted to suit some current purpose. The historian Isaac Foot, father of Michael, said that he judged a man by one thing, ‘On which side would he have fought at Marston Moor’, the King’s or Parliament’s.

    The pendulum of politics long ago stopped swinging from Left to Right, now being stuck on Right. But it always swings from Roundhead to Cavalier. It swings from the authority of democratic institutions, defended ceaselessly and sometimes bloodily, to the corruption of over-centralised power.”

Jon Stanhope, I have no doubt, would have stood with Parliament. And, I hope, so would I. But I can’t name another leader in this country of which I can be so sure.

I have been scathingly critical of his governance in the past, and I imagine I will be in the future.

But in a way it’s somehow heartening that Canberra has thrown up a politician of such steely principle (even if we might argue that some of his principles are poorly chosen and mis-applied), and that the voters have have rewarded him for it over the years. All that despite his many refusals to play the politician’s game.

Jon Stanhope, a better leader than what NSW has got.

(Photo courtesy of last night’s ABC news)

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82 Responses to
Reasons why the ACT is better than NSW – Jon Stanhope
johnboy 11:31 am 18 Jul 08

Oh I think he should have resigned over that.

I’m not saying the man is without flaw.

Beer for instance gives me nasty headaches and makes me say foolish things. Sometimes (very rarely) it doubles me over the toilet turning myself inside out.

I still prefer beer to many of the alternatives.

peterh 11:28 am 18 Jul 08

Jon may have done some good things, but what still sticks for me includes:

the fires – not letting us know and giving us a chance to plan our evacuation.
the fires – denying knowledge of the impact to canberra
the fires – rejecting the coroner’s report, then taking her to court over it
the fires – claiming that it wasn’t his responsibility

if it isn’t the chief minister’s responsibility, who does the buck stop with??

Thumper 11:28 am 18 Jul 08

I’m happy to move on 😉

johnboy 11:25 am 18 Jul 08

Thumper –> The thing was he won. Almost always the executive power triumphs. And Cromwell is a trivially minor part of this argument.

But if not for Cromwell’s example of beating the crown, and hacking off the King’s head (importantly after a trial), I personally believe the world would be a much, much poorer place.

Or as Thomas Paine said it “The fate of Charles I did not make kings more just, only more subtle”. Which is still an improvement at a time when Government are trying to make it a crime to annoy Catholics.

Let’s move on shall we?

Thumper 11:23 am 18 Jul 08

Sorry, it could be argued that 9it) led to many changes that allowed the monarchy to later survive and flourish.

Thumper 11:21 am 18 Jul 08

Historians generally regard Cromwell as doing very little except for defeating the Royalists (okay, that was a feat in itself), however, without any real regard for the parliamentary process as he rapidly descended into puritanical power mongering.

He was, in all but coronation, the King of England. And he took that by force thus negating his original ideal.

An interesting case one would say?

As for the original ideal. It was sound and led to many changes that allowed the monarchy to later survive and flourish with Charles 2nd. And he helped removed Charles 1st, who believed in absolute god given power.

So yes, the jury can been seen to be out on Cromwell 😉

johnboy 11:18 am 18 Jul 08

I do read a little more widely than just Canberra media circles from time to time.

I refer to much more eminent Simon Jenkins

Skidbladnir 11:16 am 18 Jul 08

You’re quoting Simon Jenkins?
As in the guy who did sports news coverage for 104.7 on Sundays, and then did reporterless pieces for Stateline?

Unless there are now two of them in Canberra’s media circles.

Ralph 11:14 am 18 Jul 08

However the fact that he is still the Chief Minister says more about the progressive, educated and mature attitude of Canberrans than anything Stanhope has done.

Get your hand off it. The olde chestnut of ‘to be of the left is to be intelligent’. Back to the 1960s for you. Halfwit.

johnboy 11:12 am 18 Jul 08

Thumper said :

Cromwell one must remember, was an arrogant, driven, puritan who in the end cared little for the parliamnentary process and in reality became a feared dictator.

Don’t let the man’s declining years be a measure of what he achieved.

Thumper 11:10 am 18 Jul 08

Cromwell one must remember, was an arrogant, driven, puritan who in the end cared little for the parliamnentary process and in reality became a feared dictator.

Thumper 11:07 am 18 Jul 08

He’s better than Iemma…

Loose Brown 11:07 am 18 Jul 08

I agree with the sentiment above. A classic example of Stanhope standing up for human rights, freedom of speech, etc was his address to the people (and masses of Chinese students) at the Torch relay, when he said that we do not muzzle dissent – even if it embarrasses us. And he was right, the only embarrassing thing about that day was the rabid Chinese flag-wielding rent a crowd.

And of course, his support for gay and lesbians – a good example of supporting human rights, even when it could have made him vulnerable.

However the fact that he is still the Chief Minister says more about the progressive, educated and mature attitude of Canberrans than anything Stanhope has done.

johnboy 11:01 am 18 Jul 08

Ralph said :

Things are dire in this country when Stanhope is being held up as some sort of posterboy JB.

Agreed!

Ralph 10:59 am 18 Jul 08

Things are dire in this country when Stanhope is being held up as some sort of posterboy JB.

Who else actually stands up for human rights, for freedom of speech, for double jeopardy and habeus corpus, even when the outcomes of sticking up for these principles are unsavoury?

Yet we have junkies and all sorts of vagrants roaming the streets thanks to our local courts. How about sticking to roads and rubbish collections?

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