Lessons from Australia


First of three parts

CANBERRA: My 30-day sojourn in Australia made me realize that the Philippines can become a progressive and prosperous  country in Asia like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Thailand. I did not include on the list the small city-state of Singapore although it has become a paragon of progress.

Governance is not the proverbial “rocket science.” All that is needed are competence and integrity in leadership in government, both at the national and local levels. Of course, it goes without saying that there should be a strong civil service composed of professional and dedicated public servants.

My month-long stay Down Under also made me realize how our country has been badly-governed for at least the past half a century from the mid-1960s to the present. It is easy to see how the Government here in Australia works with the delivery of basic services – education, health, parks for sports and  recreation, peace and order (police), public works and transportation and others.

It seems rather simple that taxes paid should go back to the people. This is why the Aussies do not complain of their relatively high tax rates that are double that of ours. In the Philippines, it is apparent that pubic funds coming from payment of taxes by individuals and corporations are not properly spent for the benefit of the Filipino people by elected and appointed public officials.

The profligate mismanagement has been going on for at least the past 50 years that is responsible for the Filipino Global Diaspora which began in the mid to late 1970s. This  explains why the best or only option for millions of Filipinos to have a better future is to either migrate or work abroad as OFWs.

So what lessons can we learn from Australia?

Parliamentary & federal system
First and foremost is the kind of government operating here Down Under. In  spite of its enormous natural resources, Australia would never be what it is today if it had the same flawed presidential system as the Philippines. The same can be said of the neighboring New Zealand and  Canada, Singapore and Malaysia – four prosperous nations under the British Commonwealth.

In the European Union (EU), the most progressive and prosperous nations have a parliamentary system. The same is true for non-members of the EU like Norway in Scandinavia that has a parliament.

Unless and until the Philippines shifts to the parliamentary system like Australia and the other countries mentioned, there is really no future – no hope – for our beloved country and people. Under the flawed present system, all that are needed to become president is popularity and funding. Qualities of leadership are not a consideration to reckon with as shown in the incumbent.

The dearth of desirable candidates for the highest position of the land is due to the single criterion in the selection: winnability, as indicated in the surveys! President Benigno S. Aquino 3rd is now talking to the popular Senator Grace Poe who won in 2013 because she is the daughter of Fernando Poe, Jr. P-Noy is now desperate for a candidate of their coalition who can win in 2016.

In a parliamentary system, the prime minister is chosen from one hundred to two hundred members of parliament (MPs), particularly the MPs of the ruling party or coalition. There is a wider choice to choose from among themselves for the position of  prime minister whom they believe can be the leader of parliament and the executive branch of Government.

Hence, there is NO Need for the entire electorate to vote for the prime minister, who does not have to spend billions of pesos in the nation-wide campaign to win an election. The MPs choose among themselves in a similar manner that the Cardinals choose amongst them on who would be the Pope. There is no need for all the Catholics 18 years old and above to vote for the Pope!

Other than the parliamentary system, Australia also has a Federal form of government with the states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory.    Like the United States of America composed of 50 states, these seven states are able to govern their own affairs and benefit from the revenues generated therein.

The Victoria state was able to host the Melbourne Olympics in 1954, while the New South Wales state was also able to host the Sydney Olympics in the Year 2000, as well as built the iconic Sydney Opera House completed in 1973 and also the famous Harbour Bridge much earlier in 1932.

In Europe, Germany – the richest and most powerful nation – has both parliamentary system and a federal government like Australia.

Time to shift to parliamentary system soonest and the federal government can follow afterwards. It is long overdue. It was the great Albert Einstein who once defined the meaning of INSANITY as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Police presence & competence
What is noticeable in Australia is the presence of the police force in the cities, communities and the highways. I have seen them in Melbourne and Sydney, whether on foot or in their patrol cars. The police Down Under can be seen in action on television in the evening news or read about in the newspapers.

As it has been said so many times before, the police presence is an effective deterrent to crime. However, the police in our country  is hardly seen and felt. They stay most of the time in the police precincts either watching television or playing with their mobile phones (“celfones”) or texting. You begin to wonder why police rookies are even recruited at all in the first place.

Even in Boracay Island, the country’s premiere tourist destination, the police force there of more than 100 men and women are virtually useless. They can be seen in “action” either watching the tourists pass by or doing the perennial texting with their celfones. They should be doing foot patrol in the 4-km Long Beach and the other adjacent areas.

As in the words of a song in Les Miserables, “there was a time” when policemen did foot patrol in the 60s and 70s. I saw them in my younger years when they were still wearing khaki uniforms. But something happened along the way, everything now seems to have been lost. The policemen today even look smaller and not much mass in their bodies, short of being thin.

The Philippine National Police (PNP) hardly has any patrol cars to catch drivers who have violated traffic rules and regulations. In Australia, drivers are disciplined because they also know that they can be apprehended anytime by police doing mobile patrol.

The PNP procures motor vehicles and the local governments donate the same to the police to do patrol work, but they are hardly seen at all on the road. These patrol cars are usually parked in the police precincts due to budget constraints on gas or petrol. Sadly, the PNP does not even provide basic training for policemen to learn how to drive their patrol vehicles. It is a fact that I personally know of.

Rick B. Ramos at rbrpilipinas@gmail.com


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  1. Rick,

    Misinfo, correction to your ‘Australia … with the states of New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania and Northern Territory… these seven states are able to govern their own affairs and benefit from the revenues generated therein.

    Apart from that error, the rest are good and correct (or close).

    Australia, to date, has only six states and two territories (NT, ACT). They were ‘thinking’* of adding New Zealand as the seventh state post 2008 GFC.


    * just a joke, heh he heh

  2. Antonio Eliza Sazon-deSangre on

    No system will work in the Philippines, sad to say, but it’s true. As long as there are Marcoses, Binays, and what-have-you, this country will remain at the bottom of the ladder of progress. Know why? Because ang mga pinoy, ubod ng yabang, tama ba ako? Akala ng mga Pinoys, sila ang mga European ng SouthEast Asia, tulad ng mentalidad ng mga Argentinos, na sila daw ay mga Ita-lyanos at hindi Latinos or Hispanics. Look at the Philippines and Argentina. Something in common? Absolute corruption, ano pa? Don’t cry for me, Pilipinas! Tigilan na natin ang paglalaro ng dice, kasi bawa’t tapon, ang kasunod ay “kurap”. Tigilan ang mga teleseryeng puro hinagpis ang tema ng istorya, sa dahilang ito ang daan sa pag-anyaya ng hinagpis at kahirapan. Huwag nating iasa o ipagsa-diyos ang lahat ng kaganapan sa ating buhay, aba’y matututo naman tayong tumindig nang may tigas at paninindigan. HOY, MGA PINOYS, MAGSIGISING KAYONG LAHAT AT MAKINIG SA MGA PAG-UULAT NG MGA ARTISTANG TULAD NG “ASIN”.

  3. Matthew Parkes on

    You’re wrong about tax rates in Australia: they are actually lower than those in the Philippines.

  4. why envy Australia?
    heres the top 10 why FilAussies are better people than Filipinos..

    1. we dont vote sick people with mental issues
    2. we follow the rule of law, traffic rules, we respect the police and they respect us
    3. we dont RELY TOO MUCH IN GOD, we solve our own problem
    4. we pay the right taxes because its a common good, and we see good results
    5. we dont vote people who are kamaganaks, we hate dynasty and they dont get rich
    6. we dont accept or give bribes BECAUSE WE KNOW ITS WRONG
    7. we say sorry if we hurt anybody, we dont shoot or ‘salvage’ them
    8. we dont adore celebrities or what they endorse, politics or whiteners
    9. we value human lives above anything else, even pets are treated as humans.
    10. we have a government that truly cares compared to your ‘syndicate’


    now tell me Rick – how hard is it for filipinos to do the above?

    • Ed, more than 90% of the Filipino electorate comes from the CDE economic bracket. This was not the case 40 to 60 years ago. That explains why the results of election are such. If you look at Taiwan and South Korea, they worked first on their economic development before their democracy.

      Knowing what is Right & Wrong is a function of education and the values in society. PH was a much better country before and after WWII. Then one man ruined it beginning 1966 and stayed in power for 20 years until 1986. Unfortunately, in the past 29 years since EDSA I, the problems inherited from the past have NOT addressed.

    • Matthew Parkes on

      No, Rick, the problem is not simply the 90% who are CDE: it’s the 1% who are nothing but criminals and the 9% who graduate from the so-called elite schools and facilitate the crimes of the 1%.

      Also, the 1% are directly responsible, together with their 9% co-conspirators, for the creation of such a massive underclass.

  5. It is corruption that is holding back this country. Part of the corruption is keep the people poor & mostly uneducated & brainwash them into everything pinoy. When pinoys work abroad they love life in those countries & they have so much more than they have here. They retire back here because their money then goes futher here than in their adopted country.
    If i were a pinoy i would look to move abroad for myself.
    Now im not a big pnoy fan but at least he has made a start at getting at corruption & that is what was needed. Now its started lets hope next governments carry this on till all huge corruption is gone, then the country caan start properly on getting richer.

    • Dustin, can you kindly let us know what P-Noy has done to address corruption? There might be some things that you know we, Filipinos, don’t. Kindly cite specific cases that P-Noy has started. Thank you and best regards. Rick

  6. I beg to differ it is like rocket science. If you think its so easy to get competent people in their rightful positions think again. Everywhere in the philippines they get it wrong. Take the number plate fiasco. What an idiot running that. Now if you cant get something as simple as that sorted what chance of running the country properly. A very simple question to ask of these new number plates that every vehicle has to have, why. Now look what they say when asked that question, yet these people are in charge. They are stupid or corrupt ot dumb, maybe a combination of all 3. & that is just the first thing i have mentioned. You hink of an agency & then look at it, it will be behid the times in almost every single way. Its just the way it is in the philippines, its like everyone wants it this way.

    • It is NOT ! “Governance is not the proverbial “rocket science.” All that is needed are competence and integrity in leadership in government, both at the national and local levels. Of course, it goes without saying that there should be a strong civil service composed of professional and dedicated public servants.”

  7. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New Yor
    23 May 2015

    There should be no more question but that the present governmental system of the Philippines has failed, and failed completely, since the country gained its “independence” in 1946.

    Perhaps, or probably, it is time to shift to the PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEM which is the system which has proved successful not only in Australia but in several other successful countries in the world as well.

    Let’s do it on a TRIAL basis for, say 10 years, and let’s see if the parliamentary system can work successfully in the Philippine setting given the character and the idiosyncracies of the Filipino people. If it proves to be successful, as hoped, then continue and make it permanent. If not, first find out what features of the new system will need to be modified or abandoned. Then try the modified parliamentary system for another 10 years, for instance. If the modified system proves SUCCESSFUL in all respects, then the country will have a good and compelling reason to ADOPT IT PERMANENTLY.

    My sense is that it will help a lot if in addition to adopting a Parliamentary System the Establishment–those who wield the reins of power–will launch two National programs: 1] Industrialization encompassing heavy, medium and light industries; and 2] Population control moving parri passu with No. 1.


    • Yes, let us give it a chance to work as it has in many progressive and prosperous nations in Europe, Asia, North America. Mabuhay!

  8. we are better off if we make the Chinese Filipinos run for office and manage the country. the 10 most richest individuals in the country are mostly Chinese Filipinos. the richest man in the country is a Chinese Filipino. majority of us Filipinos are crooks and lazy. we need the Chinese Filipinos who have demonstrated their discipline and managerial skills in making money and success. lets use this one of our natural resource.

    • Yeah Emilio. Dumbest remark I have read in some time. Still laughing at such an insane statement

    • not as dumb as you are Daniel. you are one of the Pilipinos who live in denial. just look around you and feel the country going nowhere. because there are too many dumb officials and politicians with the brain like yours. Just to name a few in the 21st century now, country is still suffering power outages, water shortages, population explosion, 2 oldest insurgencies in the World, sub standard infrastructures, semi-feudal society, China and Vietnam took several Philippine islets and reefs unchallenged due to the inept and antique and dilapidated refurbished AFP. yeah that’s your brain Daniel like these mentioned above. Live with it.

    • yeah Daniel, just look at the Chinese Filipinos laughing at you to the bank, while you work for them and live in the slum. lol.

  9. Mark mcaneny on

    Im so frustrated when i see the ptential in thePhilippines mand it is not being realized, you have the nicest people who speak english, the most beautiful islands but it is not being developed and used.
    All countries have greed and corruption so its not just that , I really beleive you must be more patriotic not in an anti foreigner way as you cam always learn and grow from others, but in an mentality way.
    The Philippines is a fantastic country , and i love it better than so many other countries of the world I have visited.
    But what you see when travel the world is so many pinoys working overseas , yes they send money back , but better they were back home building there families and country.
    Its not better overseas , and all countries have issues.
    All i can do is pray for The Philippines and do my small bit by buying Philippines products when i see them, and when i retire there employ some pinoys in a business.
    Its like President Kennedy said ask not what my country can do for me , but what can i do for my country.
    The government should encourage the filipino diaspora to re,turn and help build nation, start business , invest, not encourage more to leave.
    You have the people, the natural beauty, the resources to be the true pearl of asia.
    God bless the Philippines and i do have faith one day your true potential will be realized.

    • They work overseas to have a better life, a job, a career. If this country would do away with that stupid job discrimination law that is in effect this would help. But if you are over 25, not this tall, not attractive, all these things apply to who gets a job or not. if it wasn’t for all the call centers that have sprung up in the past few years this country would really be in trouble. And yes, my wife is here in the U.S. because she could not find work as a newly graduate in nursing school there because she is 31!.That is why people go overseas to work. Can’t blame them at all!

    • Mark, amen I say unto you. Yes, Filipinos must be Patriotic. First, we have to know what “Patriotism” or Love of Country means. Mabuhay. Rick

  10. I still believe that Values that’s lacking in schools is the reason, for me, that makes this country behave this way. Sa isip, Sa salita at Sa gawa. Education is not ‘to educate’ the primary reason of this country. Very few Teachers have Values bcoz salaries and benefits are not the best for public school. I have the same opinion with ChrisC.

    • Yes, value formation in schools and at home is a sine qua non to a society. One value is Love of Country & Caring for Others.

  11. Eddie de Leon on

    Why don’t you write about how Australia, like the US, has been helping to Balkanize Mindanao by supporting the illegal and unconstitutional MOA-AD of former president GMA and now with the Abominable Abnoy in Mal;acanang the unconstitutional and treasonous Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro, which is a treaty meant to destroy our Republic and which is the reason there is now a pending, treasonous and unconstitutional Bangsamore Basic Law bill written byv the MILF and Malaysian lawyers and endorsed virtually wholesale for the rubber-stamp Philippine Congress to pass?

    • R. B. RAMOS on

      A FEDERAL government can address the BBL issue. The Bangsamoro “substate” can be like the other “states” that can be created from the different regions in PH.

  12. Chris Conner on

    Unless the Filipino people can rise above greed, corruption, which is so endemic, regardless of which system of government it chooses, the country will not progress.

    • R. B. RAMOS on

      Chris, so how can the Filipino people rise above the greed, corruption? ” Please advice. Thank you.

    • R. B. RAMOS on

      It is the system of government that will address the issue on corruption. In the present presidential system, the appointees of President Benigno S. Aquino III who have been accused of corruption in government have simply resigned and no cases have been filed. Neither can Congress, the House of Representatives and the Senate, SUMMON the President to a hearing or investigation. In a Parliamentary system where the Prime Minister (PM) is also a Member of Parliament (MP), cases of corruption involving appointees of the PM whether MPs or not is subject to a Parliamentary Inquiry. The separation of the legislative and executive branches cannot be invoked because the Parliamentary system is precisely a FUSION of both branches to run the national government.