The fact that the people of Australia almost lost faith in our system of Government is unsurprising. To say that we were ambivalent about our politicians was an understatement and that we were ashamed of them was undeniable. We still are with some.
However, 2023 presents the Government with a unique opportunity to continue with the policy agenda introduced in the last half of 2022 and right the wrongs of Howard, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison. Never has a government inherited a more incredible mess but never has a leader come along who is more capable of fixing it.
To say that our democracy has taken a beating since Howard came to power is no exaggeration.
Its decline has had many consequences. The rise of extremism, corruption and far-right conservatism are, but some. Liberalism no longer exists, and the National Party lives because of a voting system favouring them disproportionally.
Neo-conservative fascism or right-wing politics replaced the Liberal Party, and old-style liberalism no longer has a voice. The so-called Liberal Party needs to change its name to suit whatever ideology it decides to be. The National Party needs to determine if it represents farmers or miners and accepts science generally, particularly climate change.
The Labor Party, in part, needs to invest in a social philosophical common good, unafraid to say that it is known as socialism. It should embrace eliminating growing inequality, unaffordable housing and general poverty and see both as worthy pursuits.
Labor has lost a significant portion of its supporters to the Greens, who may, now that Labor is back in power, decide to return in the knowledge that they can achieve much on their own. Rescinding the tax cuts to the rich and well-off might move green supporters back.
It is unlikely that many independents will lose seats in the next election.
Leading the two major parties on the right, we have two lying, unscrupulous politicians of dubious character, and on the left, a long-serving lily white, of which nothing corrupt can be hung.
Within LNP ranks, we have a collection of MPs who have studied at some of the world’s most prestigious learning institutions. Yet sprinkled among them is a fair splattering of individuals who could only be described as borderline nut cases. Women are both underrated, underrepresented and underestimated.
The LNP have pre-selection processes rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates, particularly women, miss out. Both parties need to select people with broader life experience.
Our democracy has lacked objectivity because former Prime Minister Morrison and his followers debased our democracy to the point that there is no compelling reason to take on public service. Well, at least for people with decency, integrity and compassion.
Pursuing power for power’s sake and its retention has engulfed political thinking. The common good dwelled somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for sound public policy that achieved social equity. The people became secondary under successive LNP governments.
There was no stand-out leadership. In recent times leadership was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest and narcissistic personality. Prior to the election, the administration of Scott Morrison had been exposed for what it was; simply deplorable.
Question Time is arguably the showcase of the Parliament and is still badly in need of an overhaul: It is nothing but an excuse for mediocre minds who cannot win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills to act deplorably toward each other.
Frivolity and wit have been replaced with smut and sarcasm. Members debase the Parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals. Labor needs to do more to improve it.
Our voting system is in need of an overhaul. When one party, the Greens, attract nearly the same primary votes as the Nationals but can only win a scattering of seats in the House of Representatives, there is something wrong with the system.
Added to that is the ludicrous Senate situation where people are elected with few primary votes, just preferences.
One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian Democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.
With blatant support for right-wing politics, Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers had done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.
Now with almost complete control of Australian politics, the left has shown that Murdoch doesn’t have the influence he once did.
The advent of social media sent mainstream media, like newspapers, into free fall. Murdoch’s declining newspaper sales have resulted in lost revenue and profits. It has lost the influence it once had, real or imagined, and bloggers reflect grassroots society’s feelings more truthfully.
Shock jocks who once shouted the most outrageous lies to vilify people’s character with impunity have been exposed for their villainy. They did nothing to promote proper democratic illumination. They even glorified free speech as if they were the sole custodians of it.
Three final things have contributed to the decline in our Democracy.
Firstly, the Abbott and Morrison factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced that Morrison and Abbott believed that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. Morrison also thought that lying to protect a lie was fair.
Secondly, some of the alleged ‘criminality’ of Morrison has been revealed, and when the Federal Integrity Commission is fully commissioned, much more will be examined.
And thirdly, truth, transparency and the people’s right to know how they are governed were murdered during the Luddite period of the LNP governments. Let’s hope they are resurrected. The signs so far are promising.
My thought for the day
We have lived with it for the last decade, this destruction of our Democracy. It’s damaged both sides of politics and damaged our country and our reputation.
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