Why not read it before voting?

May 28, 2009

When politicians vote on legislation do they know what they’re doing?

After the British parliamentary expenses scandal Boris Johnson had this great article on Monday – (click the link to ‘MPs’ expenses in pictures’ for the more bizarre things UK taxpayers cough up for).

Boris said MPs should be forced to read every line of every law they vote on. But with government so big, is this possible? I asked some IPA researchers to calculate how long it would take to read all the legislation currently in the federal parliament.

5 weeks! And that’s reading non-stop for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Is it a surprise Yvette D’Ath didn’t know the size of the deficit?

This is enough to drive you to drink. But if you live in Oldham in the UK you’ll now have to queue behind rope barriers to get a beer (and you can’t buy a round for your mates either). Don’t laugh – it’s about to happen here too.

What would the great essayist HL Mencken have made of this? His lines include “Nobody ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public” and “Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.” Here is Mencken in his own words in 1948.

Last Friday the IPA’s Alan Moran told the Senate what the ETS would do to the Australian economy (see page 25).

In the Sunday Age, Chris Berg wrote about “New sheriff needed to ride shotgun on heritage suburbs“. Tom Switzer analysed xenophobia in the Wall Street Journal Asia, and in the Australian Financial Review, Alan Moran argued that the Commonwealth Treasury doesn’t understand how the economy works.

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