2013 Oration

State of the Federation

Ted Mack

Ted Mack – 2013 Henry Parkes Orator

The 11th Henry Parkes Oration: Ted Mack
Saturday 26 October 2013.
Sir Henry Parkes Memorial School of Arts, Tenterfield

With distrust of politicians and disillusionment with Australia’s political systems at an all-time high, legendary independent Ted Mack believes fundamental change is required. Delivering the 2013 Henry Parkes Oration in Tenterfield NSW, where Parkes gave his celebrated ‘Federation Speech’ on 24 October 1889, Mack called for “examination of the many problems of our system of government in order to establish directions for reform”.

As the only person to have been elected, and then re-elected, as an independent to all three tiers of government in Australia, Ted Mack is uniquely positioned to reflect on this task. He believes the state of the federation has never been so unsatisfactory, claiming it has reached this nadir “because of the obsolescence and self-regulation inherent in the constitution”. He believes we need “new electoral systems to reflect the will of the people”.

Mack sets out a process for approaching constitutional reform starting with a “fully elected constitutional commission convened on the basis of one-vote-one-value on an Australia-wide proportional basis”. He sees such a commission as having the power to utilise polling and to put plebiscites to the people, ideally to coincide with elections to establish fundamental directions. It would “meet for short sessions over a substantial period of time, and eventually be authorised to institute a referendum on the basis that the new constitution will not come into effect for say, seven years – in order to reduce the impact of short-term partisan motives.” He also believes there is a need for an “integrity level of government separate from executive government and parliament”. Such a role would be spelt out in the Constitution as having no power in relation to political policy but only power to ensure integrity of government and to ensure the Constitution is upheld.

Mack acknowledges that serious reform is perhaps many years into the future and “the obstacles and enemies of democratic reform are many”. Democracy is making reasonable progress, he says, but there is a long way to go.

Download the full text as a PDF.

The Oration was broadcast on the ABC’s Big Ideas program on 28 November 2013. Listen on the ABC website.

4 responses

  1. I’ve only read half of Teds speech so far, stopped to share it a bit, now back to read the rest. It’s great, it’s the medicine we need to hear, thank you Ted. I hope you have recordings of the speechs made by both parties when you retired because if this goes viral, as it should, I sense many fabrications against you, much dirt dug, but I get the feeling you kept your powder dry. Good job mate.

  2. This is a great speech, reflected what I was thinking, but articulated it so much better , and to greater depth. Would love to hear Ted’s ideas on what to do to make the reform. I am embarrassed by the state of affairs of our governments on many levels, and the medias instrumental part in it all.
    I guess power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

  3. the latest system on Earth {The Monetary System} needs Corruption to survive in this new era.
    Before this was communism,

  4. Canada starts at 5% GST and is not complaining and it is the states who should ask the people to rais the GST not Abbott or Hockey.

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