WRONG_WOEID WRONG_WOEID

Inside Politics- Taking Back the Country

Out of touchThis past Saturday I had an impromptu and very lengthy discussion with a good friend of mine, a bus driver who plies his trade in one of the most easterly communities in Antigua.

During the discussion, he raised a concept that I have often heard coming from politicians, particularly those on the opposition benches, but it took special meaning coming from someone considered a member of the ‘common folk’, which made this statement even more profound.
 
Several times during the discussion, he said, “we have to take back this country”. He relayed to me that he has seen his income steadily eroded over the last several years, while his expenditure has been climbing steadily. He expressed much frustration that the concerns of ordinary folks seem to go unheeded by the powers that be. In fact, he bluntly accused the government of being out of touch.
 



My bus driver friend seemed particularly peeved that calls for inquiries into the Fencing Scandal and the Wadadli Power Plant have so far fallen on deaf ears, and he is firmly of the view that if the people of the country wanted to have the matters inquired into, then the Prime Minister and his government, being servants of the people, ought to listen to the ‘voice of the people’.
 
“What bothers me is that this government has had a fair chance to prove itself. We the people voted overwhelmingly for them in 2004 and again they we elected in 2009. We felt that the Antigua Labour Party was in office for many years and we were not happy with many of the things the ALP government was doing. We needed a change, and we voted for it. But I must tell you, that I am very disappointed with this government,” he exclaimed.
 
He said all the things that the people of the country said they did not want from the ALP administration, things such as corruption, lack of transparency, that the UPP Administration came to office preaching against these ills, but it has itself outdone the ALP in these areas.
 
He pointed to the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government collected in taxes in excess of what the ALP collected, and yet the government, in his view, has not done anything tangible to bring down the cost of living to people like him at the lower end of the salary scale.
 
My friend gave a laundry list of issues about which he is displeased, but none caused him more angst than the refusal of the Prime Minister to inquiry into the Fences Scandal and the power plant.
 
“Even the minister who was in charge of the (fences) projects (Senator Winston Williams) has publicly admitted that there were wrong doings with the fences matter. He (Williams) told us that people may have gotten money illegally, what more proof than that is needed?” he asked.
 
I found the whole discussion quite stimulating especially when he said ‘we have to take back this country’.

This is how he explained the concept; a government is elected by the citizens to act on their behalf at all times.

However, quite often (and this situation, he believes, is what exists here in Antigua and Barbuda) the government becomes so caught up in its own survival, that many times the concerns of the people take a back seat, as survival (re-election) becomes such a powerful ‘drug’ that it consumes the government.
 
In his view therefore, the Baldwin Spencer Administration’s decision not to inquire into these two issues that are of critical national concerns, is a clear case of the government more concerned about its own survival and ways to perpetuate itself, than to inquire into the expenditure of hard-earned monies it collected in the form of taxes from the citizenry.


 
But my bus driver friend was not interested in a mere change in government or personalities. He wanted fundamental changes to the systems of government.

He wanted to make sure that whenever the citizenry become concerned about a particular matter in significant numbers, that the government must listen, but just as importantly, yield to the collective will of the people.

He wanted to ensure that there are systems, outside of general elections, when the government must respond to the wishes of the people.
 
Unfortunately, he was unable to go much further, as he received a call from the bus station to indicate that the bus was full.

I apologized for keeping him away from his customers and expressed a desire for us to continue the discussion at some point in the future.
 
As I mull over the points raised, I could not help but to reflect on the system of government we inherited from the British.

I remember writing a paper as a student pointing to what I believe to be a constitutional dictatorship that we have created with our constitutions in the Commonwealth Caribbean.

Prime Ministers under our system have unfettered powers.

Unlike in Britain where the constitution is unwritten and where there are centuries-old norms and conventions that provides a framework for the exercise of the powers of the Prime Minister, when we in the Caribbean adopted the Westminster-style system of government and a written constitution, we did not adopt those British norms and conventions, or gentlemanly behaviour into our application of the system.

Hence, a Prime Minister with despotic tendencies may practice such under the guise of ‘acting in the nation’s interest’.
 
Furthermore, such a Prime Minister doesn’t feel that he has to respond to the wishes of the people on any particular issue.

The problem is further compounded when one considers that due to our size, as in Antigua and Barbuda, the executive outnumbers those elected on the government side who sit on the backbench. Westminster anticipates a backbench that is larger than the members who form the executive that helps keep the government in line.

A Prime Minister therefore can ‘manners’ any of his parliamentary colleague who does not support the government’s point of view on a particular matter.
 
We certainly need to begin the discussion on an appropriate system of government that suits of particular situation.

The current system is flawed; it is non-responsive to the needs of the people.



But while we must recognize that the system is flawed, we also need men and women who are prepared to put country above self; not in words, not in grandstanding, but in deeds.

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31 Comments In This Article   

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RE: Inside Politics- Taking Back the Country

#31 GARRAT » 2012-05-24 17:48

Everton, it is not the system, it is those who operate the system, and it doesn't matter whether yo have a third or fourth party, it is the adherence to the constitution is where you find the checks and balances that are equally present in the Westminster system. The public accounts Committee; parliamentary approval for borrowings; the rule of law; the independence of the Courts. A Civil Service Commission, Police Service Commission and their expressed constitutional independence. Everton if the letter of the law is adhered to and the Government of the day respect the Constitution, we could be like Canada, New Zealand, Australia, India all members of the Commonwealth, all with the Westminster System. We need to grow into maturity.
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GARRAT

Barnes!

#30 Family Guy » 2012-05-08 19:25

To be fair Namba Adams says he will follow the dictates of his voters on the vote of no confidence motion!
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Family Guy

A Gentle Step Towards The Antigua & Barbuda Transformation! PT4

#29 John French II » 2012-05-07 22:33

Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock. Many have posited that The Westminister & First Past The Post System will be with us forever. How does one look at this from a Transformative and Strategic Perspective? Will the system as practiced in these SIDS bring about true participative democracy? Will The Politicians forever sell out the interests of the People and look after their own, the Rich and Elites? Many of the A&B Electorate suggest that Blues & Reds are "tweedle de and tweedie dum" or as one comrade put it "two wings of the same bird of prey", hence there is need for a third alternative. This mere voice in the wilderness suggests that that is the lazy persons way of moving away from a serious debate and offering grand solutions.
The society will not opt for a third wave. Much too small. It has been suggested that Literacy and Numeracy are twins and are not mutually exclusive. Likewise, lets be clear, Electoral Politics and Democratic Capitalism as exemplified throughout the North Atlantic are tied like siamese twins at the head and hip and will not result in the freedom and development of these SIDS.
Heaven Help The Nation Antigua & Barbuda & The OECS.
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John French II

A Gentle Step Towards The Antigua & Barbuda Transformation! PT3

#28 John French II » 2012-05-07 21:38

NotesFrom A native Son Of The Rock. The Westminister System and The First Past the Post System has not served these SIDS well. Whether it is the Politicians, Checks and Balances or the Structure, Process or The Constitutions and Laws which were literally and figuratively "cogged" from one another, it has been a life of lurching from one transaction to the other without any recognition of the peoples' opinions and involvement toward a shared vision and development.
Can anyone educate the Nation of Antigua & Barbuda on the OECS Assembly with an Antiguan Unelected Paliamentarian nominated as the Speaker of the Assembly? More Power to Her if that is the Government type and stability that the rule of law and levels of bureaucracy that such changes in parliamentary and political environment which the Westminister System accommodates.
What form of democracy is this body patterned from? Europe does it different. The US does it different. Have the Political Elites developed an OECS system without the people of these SIDS involvement?
The focus on this issue hopefully engages the Political System rather than on Blues or Reds and Personalities.
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John French II

NO RESPECT OF FEAR OF THE PEOPLE...

#27 YOUTH ELIJAH » 2012-05-07 21:27

I share the sentiments of bus driver in the need for the people to take a participatory role in the governance of our country and the people we elect to serve us, because after each general election we basically hand it over to the politicians and pray and hope they run it properly...

This however is where our problem very well lies, with the politicians professing representation for the people during campaigning, when has any one of them ever came to their constituents to ask their position or thoughts were on any issue, we got taken to the IMF, raised taxes to cover unwarranted exposure and scandalous projects..

There is need for a mechanism where by the people can hold politicians in check so when we so much as murmur the PM (e.g. as tenman said electoral recalls is one, I also would add having the people electing our Prime Minister) because right now politicians have no fear or respect for the people because we really have noting straight forward to hold them accountable.

After them finish do their damage even if we do not reelect them they walk away with one less thing to worry about and us holding the tax bill...
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YOUTH ELIJAH

A Gentle Step Towards The Antigua & Barbuda Transformation! PT!

#26 John French II » 2012-05-07 21:09

Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock. Full disclosure, this mere voice in the wilderness is a devoted supporter of OECS full Integration.
Less than one month ago, the trio of Barnes, Hughes & sampson were invited to engage in a different conversation with the population. Quote:
it can be ...said that you play a major role in spreading daily awareness of the political, economic, social and technological directions and fortunes of the nation. .... These are difficult economic days and compounded with "Living in The IMF's NEST" ... The People look to you for guidance, education and teachable moments in bringing the dynamism of national consciousness ...The National African Political, Business and Ecclesiatic Elites together with their affiliated intellectuals have not only accommodated to the old order but are desperately seeking and making reconcilliations with the New North Atlantic Buccaneers, Arab Traders/Merchants, Indian Entrepreneurs, Latin Money Traders and Oriental Developers/Restauranteurs/Shop Keepers.
www.Caribarena.com/antigua/opinions/opinion-pieces/everton-barnes/100237-inside-politics-alp-dysfunction.html#ixzz1uEfaXNfn
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John French II

A Gentle Step Towards The Antigua & Barbuda Transformation! PT!

#25 John French II » 2012-05-07 20:47

Notes From A Native Son Of The Rock. That Mr. Barnes has taken a step towards some Transformation taking place in Antigua & Barbuda is to be recognized. Eagerly await more articles that will not only help and assist but provide transformative, strategic plans and "working handles" to the 'Bewildered Electorate" understand the Big Picture of the Political, Economic, Socio-Cultural and Technological Environment they are living in.
That Mr. Barnes has chosen to begin with the Political is definitely an excellent entry. With a focus on Government tpye and stability, rule of law, and levels of bureaucracy and corruption with potential changes in the political environment being foisted upon the People in the Form of an OECS Assembly in less than two months with the backdrop of an election looming in two years is most appropos.
To those who question Quote:
a good friend of mine, a bus driver who... raised a concept that I have often heard coming from politicians ,.. but it took special meaning coming from someone considered a member of the ‘common folk’, which made this statement even more profound. “we have to take back this country”.

your indulgence.
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John French II

SICK OF THE UPP

#24 ANTIGUAN WOMAN » 2012-05-07 20:04

Glad that the Bus driver recognized its our country,and not Upp,s or Alp.Taking it back is as esay as we the people demanding what we want from our Govt,It is not soo much the system as the placid attitude of the people.When a govt is elected it is to make your life better,you therefore expect to see from that Govt something better than you previously had,(no matter how good or bad) you expect better,i do not think anyone in their right mind can truthfully say Antigua is better off today than it was prior to 2004,so why are we not seeing the m** out there demanding from the Govt new elections? I think Antiguan,s need to get a bit more Sophisticated in their political thinking,this is no longer about UPP or ALP,it is about Anu/Bar that has gone down the drain and will continue to go furthur down,if we do not get up and demand that we go back to the polls,and not 2014 but now.The Govt has failed to develop us,they have failed to account to us and worse they seem to be deaf to anything we say.We need new elections and we need it now.
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ANTIGUAN WOMAN

1.5B

#23 mavis » 2012-05-07 19:01

The prime minister spoke about USM1 litigation which has to be arbitrated in US according to the agreement. I guessed that he forgot about the US$50 litigation involving Andrades Guitarez and also about the fact that all the chinese loans can only be arbitrated in china. his govermnent has committed us to these.
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mavis

1.5B

#22 mavis » 2012-05-07 18:55

Do you realize that this GOVT has borrowed more than 1.5B without parliamentary approval. this is rogue regime that holds its citizens in contempt.
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RE: Inside Politics- Taking Back the Country

#21 tenman » 2012-05-07 17:10

rupert j, escuse my **ing in, but I have a problem with the idea of the our practice of the Westminster system being to blame. Please note I am not saying there need not be some more tweaking. A recommended tweak is the ability to have recall elections. We have the highest number of representatives per person. Everton's notion is that parliamentarians can grow out of touch with the people due to the lack of sufficient backbenchers. However the counter argument is because we have so many reps per capita it more seems that we are over represented. Singapore which has a population of some 5 million has 84 seats. In Singapore it works out to about 1 rep for every 60K persons. In Antigua we are talking 1 rep for every 5K persons. Saint Lucia 1 rep for every 10K. Seems to be that the their being out of touch occurs on purpose. Persons will simply listen to only those who tell them what they wish to hear. This will happen when members continue to not have real meetings with their constituents. I more think the problem is not the system but the way we abuse it by both politicians and citizens not living up to their democratic responsibly

..
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tenman

that might be true

#20 rupert j. » 2012-05-07 16:19

@ asberth I am sure that a lot of people feel the way you do and need change but when you/we kick these guys to the curb do tell what/who are we going to replace them with, the same old relic of the past or somethig new and fresh as the writer stated the problem is not the people per say but the sysetm in which they operate, think on these things.
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rupert j.

LET JUSTICE BE DONE!

#19 THE GODFATHER » 2012-05-07 15:57

I do not give too bleeps what Dr. Cort did, that is no excuse, it needs to be investigated, and no one should stop that process, whoever is guilty send them all to jail..its time for them to go to the workhouse, and serve time. This is not about movers or shakers, this is about white collar criminality, and the stealing of piublic funds. So, let justice be done..investigate APAU FUNDING, it's long overdue!
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THE GODFATHER

De Real Observer

#18 Osbert R. Frederick » 2012-05-07 15:48

everton, there are thousands in Antigua and Barbuda who feels the same as this bus driver. This government has distroyed our beautiful country and as one person puts it, there isn't an Intensive Care Unit in the world large enough to hold this country. It is time for the people of this country to rise up and take the country back. It is our country, not the ALP or the UPP. I can't wait to see the back of the UPP.
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Osbert R. Frederick

creative financing based on political colour

#17 tenman » 2012-05-07 15:44

APUA Funding:
Quote:
(DR. Cort)Under an ALP administration when he was the Hon Attorney General, he piloted the Bill to establish APUA Funding Ltd through the House of representatives, explaining that it was a matter of “creative financing" (see The Daily Observer editorial aug 09, 2010)
PDV Caribe:
Quote:
The fuel is purchased from Venezuela at market rates, with a portion of the price being financed over 25 years (Loan)... As a result of highly concessionary finance terms of the PetroCaribe agreement, the government has a source of revenue to finance highly visible and tangible social projects (see Business Focus June/July 2007 page 76)
..
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tenman

A child could lead the blind

#16 Dig It » 2012-05-07 15:31

It is imperative in our young nation that we pay attention to the youths, as many of them are becoming more and more "awaken" to what's going on in their country. Let's not disparage their "rationale" to get involve in the political process with "fear" and "intimidation." The consciousness display by AntiguanYouthMan should be an "eye-openner" to remind us that we are sometimes\most-of-th e-times "ignogrant" in our own ways and thoughts! An "independent thinker" doesn't have to follow the crowd to be welcome or please everyone! What is important is that as long as he\she makes sense on the issues or state the "facts" to show what they are preaching to others! AntiguanYouthMan, don't be deterred to say what you see or hear!
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Dig It

mover of APUA Funding bill

#15 tenman » 2012-05-07 15:12

The mover of APUA Funding:
Quote:
Dr Cort acknowledged that as attorney general under a previous Antigua Labour Party (ALP) administration, he moved a parliamentary resolution approving the transactions between APUA Funding and RBTT Merchant Bank Ltd, but insisted that he only did so in the absence of the minister of finance, and it was long after the administration had agreed to move forward... He added that his predecessor had provided a legal opinion, dated December 1, 1998, indicating that it was lawful for the government to proceed. see "Dr Cort distances self from APUA Funding" By Observer News - Friday, June 18th, 2010.
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tenman

Hmmmmm

#14 Confused?? » 2012-05-07 15:00

While i like reading and appreciate any opinion that anyone brings up i kinda a realize that people dont know how to separate opinion pieces and true journalistic pieces.
Journalist report events....these events speak from themselves.....opini on pieces are totally different.....and in this case i am not even considering obvious biases......
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Confused??

RE: Inside Politics- Taking Back the Country

#13 AntiguanYouthMan » 2012-05-07 14:15

I also don't believe there was no break-ins, as an independent mind, you shouldn't allowing yourself into believing such crap. That means the Government member could do worst with the legal system than we thought then. stealing files story for the second time around...2004 before the election and again 2011 ..lol..signs of Oxx "Snakepit".
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AntiguanYouthMan

DAMN GUILTY!

#12 THE GODFATHER » 2012-05-07 12:19

AntiguanYouthMan, I do not need anyone to think for me, I am an independent thinker and my thoughts govern my action, so I am not part of your echo chamber. You need to make Lester Bird aware of your resentment, he was the one that called Antigua Youth 'NUFF AND EDGE UP' have you forgotten?

If Lester Bird and his poopooganda machinery fools you into believing his innocence thats up to you, you can remain slavish to your MASSA, and continiue your refrain. How did the bombing occur, subsequently the files went missing? You are too blind an ignorant to understand whats happening, would Rapapport pay back if he was not guilty?

And if you are truly a youth, you need to be politically educated, before you utter such follishness! They are DAMN GUILTY.
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THE GODFATHER

RE: Inside Politics- Taking Back the Country

#11 AntiguanYouthMan » 2012-05-07 12:11

To Tobi
I am of the common man and really want an investigation into the fences scandal. where I'm some Serian became rich from this(made million for nothing) bought backhoe, trucks and property from Antiguans the bank was ha**ing for payments overdue. If there was a proper tendering those same ANitguans would have had a chance to save their investments. Fifa is now saying that before no other games could be played at SVRCG before maintenance is done, while 40 something million was spent of round a bout and playing field fences. this common man wants and inquiry.
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AntiguanYouthMan

GODFATHER

#10 AntiguanYouthMan » 2012-05-07 11:37

To GODFATHER...
I can bet you're a listener of Observer's "snakepit" show. You're one of those that uses an idiot to think for you. You heard what the AG said in Court under oath about L. Bird injunctions, what about the lawsuit against the PM about Bank accounts belonging to Bird? You have no need to think about these things because you allow idiots to think for you.
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AntiguanYouthMan

Emotional

#9 Tobi » 2012-05-07 11:14

Good point Marco Polo, when ever did the common man have the country in the first place. While I agree that the UPP has been largely out of touch with the electorate etc., I find it difficult to believe that the common man wants investigations into fences and power plants. He wants bread on his table. His needs are basic. Let the politicians and politricians do the investigations in their quest for power. In this case Everton's belief/sentiments here are projected onto the "poor" bus driver who doesn't even pay taxes.
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Tobi

PUT THE REAL **S BEHIND BARS

#8 THE GODFATHER » 2012-05-07 11:05

Everton, I agree our constitutional system needs changing, agitate, and start now! Keep your thoughts posititve and your writings nonpartisan, call out all the **s, yes fingerpoint in your direction, they created many of our problems, and let us truly concentarte on changes, changes that begin with jailing those who robbed the treasury, they are still around, shouting from the mountiantop,so lets start there, and follow through with every measure of justice against any politician that robbed the people blind! Everton, dont tell me you are blind, you are able to write, so invetsigate IHI, APUA FUNDING and all others, lets put the real **s behind bars! Next time, tell the bus driver you will pay for the bus trip, dont tell me you are like xxxx BOSSES now?
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THE GODFATHER

THINK AGAIN!

#7 THE GODFATHER » 2012-05-07 10:57

Everton, you are a clever writer, many times a journalist may want to push a popular view, a person is selected, the person in this case 'common folk' is a bus driver. This gives foundation to your story, don't get me wrong, true or false, its your credibility at stake. I have often viewed you as a decent young man, so it is your temptation! By the way, good poopooganda, where was your bus drive friend pre 2004, never heard any mention of him.

Try to be as sincere as possible and never let corrupt business interest derail your vision, otherwise you would have deceived the public. Now, what about the exercise I gave you, everything pre 2004 is buried? Come on Everton do justice to your profession, you are a capable young man, do not be used, investigate APUA FUNDING, IHI, and a laundery list of all wrongs. Let us LOCK UP whoever robbed the treasury, from politician to business BOSSES! Until, that is done, we cant exhale! Would really go back to that vomit, pigsty, gravytrain, foul led politics..think again!
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THE GODFATHER

Assumes facts not in evidence..., perhaps?

#6 marco polo » 2012-05-07 10:43

I have no dog in the ALP/UPP hunt but the premise of the man's statement is questionable... "Taking back" something (in this case, a country) assumes that one (the "common man") had it in the first place....
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marco polo

@Writer

#5 tenman » 2012-05-07 10:08

Writer great article. I find myself in full agreement with the bus driver. Everton in general I agree with you about the issue with our current system but think the cure lies in an informed public who will hold elected officials accountable. In our environment, Government could always find ways to compromise backbenchers. This is again a reminder why we need real and enforced integrity legislation. The situation where government favors are used as political carrots must stop. Sadly too many persons do not see how financially and immoral this practice is.

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tenman

taking back the country

#4 beyond limits » 2012-05-07 09:16

i'm with you cool ruler.......but can we really give upp another chance as we speak i am a upp fan but to be honest i am not sure about another chance i know for sure i will not vote labour so right now i am calling for some independent politicians........p lease i can't vote ALP NOR UPP....
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beyond limits

@cool ruler

#3 wow » 2012-05-07 08:45

I am no fan of Everton or the ALP but this article is one of the best I have read in a while. This UPP government is out of touch with the people period and it has been so since 2006. Money and corruption went straight to their heads. It was unbelievable for me to watch a government which I voted for get sidetracked and lose their way in less than one term. Prime Minister BS could not reign in the deviants in the party, both elected and non elected and instead seems to have join them in their corrupt ways.

I bite my tongue while saying it is time for the ALP to return and guide us out of this despair.
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wow

Out of touch, out of sight, out of ideas!

#2 Dig It » 2012-05-07 07:02

Everton, a very good article that shows how the "average" citizen feels about the issues affecting the country, and, those who have "failed" to "serve-the-people" with full\total "accountability" and "transparency!" It just a down-right "shame" that the GOAB would really try to sell their "potched" record for the last eight years in a recent rally! The PM and his cronies failed to understand that 2014 is not, and, will not be the same as 2004! Back then folks would have jumped in the fire for them, as they promised to make the "wrongs, right!" What will be their reason or reasons to stay in power now? Where is the "change?" Why no public inquiry into the fencing and WPP scandals? Why no parliamental approval of loans\grants by the Chinese! The people voted for a government to act in their best-interest and uphold the laws of the land (even your own law you paased in 2006)! As many "reasonable" folks have seen, the Chief- Servant and his cabinet have "squandered" this country with "gross" waste and mismanagement! Time for "patriotic" sons and daughters of the soil to demand the GOAB to be "accountable" for their actions\inactions!
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Dig It

RE: Inside Politics- Taking Back the Country

#1 Cool Ruler » 2012-05-07 06:16

Yea, keep talking to your comrades the come regurgitate it as what most people are saying. The ALP can sing a nice tune in opposition but if the people elect those vagabonds to office again they will have to change both sankie and hymn sheet.
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Cool Ruler

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