Senate inquiry flooded with submissions; rank-and-file Liberals mutiny against Frydenberg
STOP PRESS: By contrast to the Australian government ignoring the views of the public on its cash ban bill, Germany’s government in 2016 dropped plans to introduce a €5,000 cash transaction limit. Last week (22 November) Dr Johannes Beermann, Member of the Executive Board of Germany’s central bank, promoted the importance of cash in his keynote address to the Payment Asia Summit in China, stating that: “Cash offers an easy way out” from being locked into electronic payment systems; cash gives “independence from social control and data collection”; and “Cash is the obvious choice of payment method when it comes to personal privacy. This strengthens individual freedom.”
Australian democracy will be exposed as a farce if the boilover public uproar over the cash ban doesn’t force the Morrison government to immediately withdraw its totalitarian Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019.
Yesterday, the Senate Economics Legislation Committee revealed it received “over 2,600” submissions on the bill. That’s not all of them, however—the Committee is trying to suppress the true number by not publishing most of them.
Addendum: The committee secretariat complained about the above statement, but the Citizens Party stands by it as we have had experience with this committee before. Unless the committee publishes every submission it receives, and provides an exact number of submissions that could be confirmed in an audit if necessary, there is no way the public can know if its statement is correct.
That said, even 2,600 submissions is huge by normal parliamentary standards. Most Senate inquiries receive a fraction of that, unless they are form letters. These submissions on the cash ban bill aren’t form letters, they are all thoughtful contributions from individual Australians to the inquiry, and many are amazing, detailed studies of the issues raised by the bill. It is scandalous, for instance, that the committee hasn’t published a 74-page submission by meticulous WA-based independent researcher Melissa Harrison, among many others.
Correction: The committee did publish Melissa Harrison’s submission … belatedly. As the Sydney Morning Herald's 26 November coverage showed, initially the committee published “more than 130” submissions, which the article stated is how many the committee received. After getting complaints, including from Melissa, it added a few more to get to more than 140—146 to be precise—of which Melissa’s was 141. The committee secretary defended the decision to count most submissions as correspondence, so they wouldn’t be published, on the basis that many included extraneous issues, the example provided being “bail-in”. It is outrageous that the committee would pre-emptively decide that bail-in is extraneous to the cash ban when the whole purpose of an inquiry is to identify all of the implications of a bill, especially unknown or unintended ones. As it happens, despite eventually publishing Melissa Harrison’s submission, there are others of equal stature the committee ignored, such as from Sydney solicitor Robert Butler.
Australians should forcefully protest this suppression by calling the Senators on the committee at their Parliament House offices while Parliament is in session this week and next. (See below for details.)
On Saturday, 23 November, rank-and-file members of the Victorian Liberal Party scorched their own party leaders by overwhelmingly voting against the cash ban at their State Council meeting in Ballarat. More than 95 per cent of the assembled members voted for a motion calling for: “The Withdrawal of the Currency Bill 2019”. The motion read:
“That this State Council calls on the Federal Government to reaffirm its commitment to individual freedom and free enterprise by withdrawing the Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019.
“The Federal Government has announced that it will introduce a bill—Currency (Restrictions on the Use of Cash) Bill 2019—to ban cash transactions between entities above an arbitrary threshold of $10,000 which can be changed if/when required.
“Banning cash is an illiberal policy that erodes civil liberties and conflicts with our Party’s fundamental principles of individual freedom and free enterprise.
“The legislation forces people into private banks to transact. Purportedly to curb crime (which is a state issue), this bill will actually expose individuals to prosecution [and] other objectionable Government policies including negative interest rates and deposit bail-in.
“Federal Minister responsible: The Treasurer, Hon Josh Frydenberg MP.”
Josh Frydenberg had been present at the State Council meeting minutes before this motion was moved, but he didn’t stay to defend his policy, despite being named as the responsible minister. Neither did Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar, who also attended the State Council, and who will administer the law and have the power to arbitrarily change the various exemptions, such as for individual-to-individual transactions, cryptocurrencies, etc.
Just to be clear: these two Treasury ministers are ramming through a law that their own party members despise but THEY ARE TOO GUTLESS TO DEFEND THEIR POLICY TO REAL PEOPLE IN THEIR OWN PARTY!
Reporter Rachel Baxendale from The Australian tweeted from the State Council meeting: “‘I have a simple message for the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Assistant Treasurer’ says opponent of the proposed ban on large cash transactions: ‘Get out of my wallet’.”
Despite this tweet, neither The Australian nor any other mainstream media reported on Frydenberg’s embarrassing defeat. They don’t control what the public can learn, however, as independent media did report it. On 25 November the Liberal Party member who moved the motion, Steve Holland, gave an interview to John Adams and Martin North on an episode of their Interests Of The People YouTube channel, “10,000 voices of freedom destroyed Frydenberg and Sukkar”.
Withdraw the bill!
The Victorian State Council vote demonstrates that every time the public has had a chance to express their view on the cash ban, their opposition has been overwhelming:
- Over 3,500 submissions to Treasury in August (which Treasury misrepresented in its report to the government), in contrast to the 30 submissions a typical Treasury consultation receives on average;
- Over 95 per cent opposition from rank-and-file Liberal members in Victoria;
- Over 2,600—likely far over—submissions to the Senate Economics Legislation Committee.
Given that the stated intention of this law—combatting the black economy—has been thoroughly exposed as a fraud, this level of public opposition means that a truly democratic government would have no choice but to withdraw it. Its only real purpose is to trap Australians in banks. Westpac’s crimes are a reminder that the banks have become vast criminal enterprises because governments have done their bidding at every turn, and corruptly protected them from real accountability, but now they want to turn Australians into criminals simply for wanting to avoid using them.
In 1938, US President Franklin Roosevelt warned the US Congress: “The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than the democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism: ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power.”
Ask your politician: Is Australia a fascist state where the government shreds civil liberties to serve private corporate interests, or are we a democracy where the government serves the people?
Most Australians can see where we have been heading—this cash ban law will prove it one way or another.
What you can do
- Call your MP’s Canberra office this week and next while Parliament is in session to make sure they know about the Victorian Liberal State Council vote. Click here for numbers.
- Join a delegation to visit your MP some time before 7 February when the Senate inquiry is due to report on the cash ban bill. Contact email@example.com.
- Sign and share the petition at stopthecashban.com.au.