Political drought a systemic failure

Australians have lost faith in their political system and the men and women that fill it

ABBOTT isn’t the problem. Newman isn’t either. In fact even the Gillard-Rudd circus wasn’t the problem then, and whatever hollow “leader” the system dishes up next won’t be the problem either.

So what is the problem? What's gone wrong with Australian politics?

Some people blame the electorate - evidenced by Queenslanders' goldfish-like memory lapse on Saturday when they voted for a person who doesn’t know the GST rate and has no plan for the State. That said, the problem isn’t there either.

The real problem is that Australians have lost faith in their political system and the men and women that fill it. We no longer feel represented.

Our wants, needs and opinions don’t fit into one of two boxes that make up the two-party system on polling day. We’ve moved on from that model and are more fragmented than ever. Just look at how we consume media as an example.

Thank god we’re threatened with fines if we don’t show up to vote, because otherwise the turnout at the last federal election - or the recent Victorian or Queensland elections - would have been very quiet indeed.

The current line-up up of uninspiring 'looney tunes' represent a political class which is not engaged with their electorates, who rarely inspire us with their proactive beliefs and who end up populating governments which shrivel from challenges in favour of safe electoral strategies fuelled by popularity polls.

However the core of the issue is, we've been lied to.

And that’s where the momentum in the vote-swinging we’ve seen comes from. When pollies lie, it not only discounts any faith or hope voters had in exercising ‘their democratic right’, but undermines the whole democratic system. Modern media gives real-time transparency now that leaves no room to hide. So we ask, what’s the point?

Volatile governments and an all-round deterioration in quality politics these past 10 years might be matched to the lack of cultural respect that the vitriolic social media world breeds. Its farcical nature sees movements for good such as #illridewithyou surface following the Sydney siege, albeit for just a week. But hatred, contempt and slander live on as faceless people fill these anti-social streams with their spiteful opinions and attack anyone who doesn’t agree.

While no one can deny the power of social media, will we ever see a politician consistently use it well?

This is something that John Howard, Paul Keating and Bob Hawke had the pleasure of not having to deal with. These three men floated the dollar, created Medicare, superannuation and instigated the GST, despite fierce opposition and without regard to a social media backlash. They truly understood their game, played it well and were effective - for better or worse, they were leaders.

With this looming void in play, we now see another party being launched in Australia: The Country Party. This was created to fill the vacancy that some think the Nationals left long ago when they got into bed with the Liberals. And while Aussies love their splinter groups - and I dare say have more political and representational groups per capita than any other country in the world - the reason the Mailler brothers have created this party highlights the core issue of a loss of political faith.

It's inescapable: Australians have lost faith in their political system and the men and women that fill it.

Individuals and groups are failing to connect with politicians enough to leverage desired change. Sadly it seems this underlying dissatisfaction won’t disappear when leaders or government change. I think it’s here for good.

Sam Trethewey

Sam Trethewey

grew up farming down south and now commentates on agriculture across Australia
Date: Newest first | Oldest first


3/02/2015 4:45:16 PM

Sam, you would have voted for Newman?
4/02/2015 4:46:23 PM

The problem is we have too many politicians and we don't pay them enough, pay peanuts get monkeys, the top people in business receive millions, and have to earn it, more pay would see the best in the political business, instead of the rubbish we have in all parties at the moment
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