Stop playing us for fools

As intelligent young men go, Queensland’s new Attorney-General is a nice guy and a pleasant human being. But he is a political animal, nonetheless, and he is playing games with his just released discussion paper on electoral reform.

Jarrod Bleijie is a young man on the make. He has just three years in state parliament and is now one of the most senior Cabinet Ministers in the fledgling LNP administration of Premier Campbell Newman. More to the point it is just a mere six years since he graduated with a law degree and now he is the state’s senior law officer. By any standards, a meteoric rise to power and influence.

At age 30, he is proving young people can climb the highest mountains. But, in a role in which wisdom has a paramount value, has he sufficient life experience to live up to the demands of his office?

Sadly, being a nice guy is not the essential qualification for the role of Attorney-General for four million people. Bleijie is being manipulated by powerful forces – within his own political party – whose influence he appears unable to see much less withstand. He is a rank amateur in the arcane but bloodily brutal world of politics and close-quarter political in-fighting.

This naivete appears set to make indelible changes to the way of life of millions. And, all the while, Bleijie spouts pathetic spin doctor lines that would make Snow White seem like a whore.

“What could be more democratic than asking Queenslanders how they think the state should be run?” was his opening line in a defence of his discussion paper on electoral reform.

I’m sorry, Mr Attorney-General, but it is not the issue of asking what people think that matters, so much as whether or not their government will act on the advice received. Community consultation is an easily manipulated device to provide a veneer of credibility to authorities determined to push their own agenda.

Bleijie gives every impression of being a plausible but naïve tool for those with ulterior motives.

Just for starters, why were Queenslanders not asked to consider all the proposed discussion paper initiatives – and they cover many of the most basic assumptions about our liberal democracy – during the election campaign less than a year ago?

An administration that Bleijie asserts is committed to open and accountable government would surely have detailed these proposals in its campaign materials? Certainly they may have been buried in background documents but nowhere was widespread public debate stimulated on an issue as fundamental as potentially ending compulsory voting

You don’t meddle with democracy any more comprehensively than that. But there was nary a whimper out of Bleijie or his colleagues on this issue as they begged Queenslanders for their votes. Funny that. Or not funny at all. More conspiratorial, actually.

Sadly, Bleijie speaks with forked tongue whether or not he is even aware of it. He is but a child playing a very, very adult game in which the pursuit, seizure and retention of power is the only objective. It is passing clever to send a boy to do a man’s job and Bleijie appears unable to see how he is being manipulated.

If it were only about him this would be an unfortunate incident. Given, however, that it is a strike at the very heart of how our democratic system has worked – successfully – for a century, it has much murkier undertones than that. It is insidious, it has been very carefully considered and it is sleight-of-hand intended to entrench the current government in office. There are none so blind, Jarrod Bleijie, as those who will not see reality.

Integrity and impartiality are the two essential ingredients needed for a senior law officer to uphold the moral and ethical requirements of office. The jury is out on this incumbent.