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Australian politics should be relatively simple . . . but it’s not

“Australia has a rich history of putting liars into politics” writes Daemon Singer in this letter to The AIMN.

At some point, preferably in the fairly near future, Australians have to understand that there are more forms to politics than the ALP, the LNP and the Greens.

I was recently talking to a dyed in the wool Liberal woman (not that her gender makes any difference) about the current state of politics and her only response was to laugh and point out the only option was Labor and after 30 years of Labor membership, I had to agree, the ALP really are not an alternative to the Liberals. Rather, they have taken half a step to the left but espouse the same views and support the same people that the LNP does now and has forevermore.

Australian politics should be relatively simple. We have 22 million people divided up into a bunch of states and territories and then we have our local councils and amongst the people who vote in all three levels of election there are crowds of people saying “there must be something more, or something better”.

At the last federal election, the young burghers of Indi decided they’d had enough of Sophie Mirabella and a group of them sat down in the library and said; “enough”.

As a group they located volunteers, formed an organisation, had over 400 “kitchen table conversations” and came up with a list of over 400 things that people felt were important for their electorate. They then found 3,000 plus volunteers to spread the word throughout the electorate and together raised almost $200,000. Think about the numbers. A donation of $67 per person.

They then advertised for a candidate.

In other words, the entire process was community driven and it wasn’t so much a matter of one person deciding they wanted to run, rather, the community decided they needed a change and ran with it.

I think it’s reasonable to say that most electorates in this country at some stage, at one level of government or another, have found they were being either badly represented, not represented, or by far the most common process under the ALP/LNP/Greens process is to find they are being misrepresented altogether.

Think of it from this perspective – you spend your entire life as an ALP member going to the monthly meetings, maybe spending a bit of time as the secretary or the treasurer of the branch and then a few months before election time the party parachutes in somebody that you have no clue about and who most certainly doesn’t represent you, who has no skin in the game of your electorate, but who is owed a favour by the powers that be.

This process of parachuting is not something that is specific to the ALP. It is done by both major parties and in fact currently the only party that doesn’t do it is the Greens. From what I can see the Greens do all they can to support local people who are interested in becoming members and who may then be interested in becoming representatives.

The ALP and the LNP ride roughshod over whatever decisions are made at a branch level in an effort to maintain good relationships with their “proven performers”, even though the proven performance may be more related to efforts on behalf of the union in the case of the ALP, or for one’s capacity to run a business in the case of the LNP. (Think Clive Palmer pre-dummy-spit).

If one is to be a member of the Greens, it merely requires a commitment to the environment and a desire to see things change. That is not the case with the ALP or the LNP, where change is obviously anathema.

The last couple of weeks has seen yet another LNP government take us into a war which on the surface at least, appears to belong to someone else, in a country where being at war has been the normal state for thousands of years. How is it that the United States feel that every country which has oil on offer needs democracy, particularly democracy in the American style? What is it about the US democracy which world governments, including Australia feel is such a wonderful thing that everybody should have it? (Not that we have it here).

Australia as a country with a democratic process under the Westminster system is only a couple of hundred years old. In the greater scheme of things, a veritable juvenile.

Prior to the invasion, as far as we can tell, there had never been a war here, and the first people had been living here comfortably for over 60,000 years. They had around 700 languages yet were still able to establish trade routes across the continent.

Each nation/language group had their own rules, and from what I’ve read, most of them were successful for social, political, and economic cohesion.

They achieved this without having a Bible or in fact any so-called book of learning. In most cases their languages were not written and any messages they wanted to send were done quite clearly, pictographically, and many of those pictographs still survive to this day so long as there are/have been no interferences from big oil, big mining, big government or big ideas.

I’m not for one minute suggesting that we should adopt the pre-invasion political systems, but at some stage I think it’s reasonable that we at least contemplate the idea of giving a little credit where credit is due, to those of us who think a little bit about politics rather than repeating a party line and not understanding that there is far more to politics than being a member of the party.

Parties, if they do nothing else prove time and time again that they can be incredibly wrong and we as the voting public just shrug our shoulders and say “maybe they’ll get better”, but the normal process is that nothing ever changes.

Interestingly, since the Abbott adventure began, the Prime Minister appears to have screwed more people than he has helped and I’m sorry to say that the cynic in me finds it very difficult to relate the recent trip to Arnhem land to anything beyond vote buying, not so much from the First People he spent the time with, but rather changing the minds of those who pointed out that he quite clearly said in 2013; “with the permission of the owners/custodians of this land, I will spend my first week as prime minister, should Australia put me in that position, in first peoples country”.

To his credit, at least he did it which is more than can be said for the things he said he wouldn’t do in terms of education funding, (outside of putting chaplains in schools), health and Medicare, the situation of the poor elderly and the situation of the young unemployed. It must be said that not one of those promises came to anything. Every one of them was a lie.

Australia has a rich history of putting liars into politics. They make ridiculous promises that we know they could never hope to keep, or that we assume they have no intention of keeping, apart from a few grass-roots things, including the above education, health and welfare.

At what point do we as Australian voting citizens say “enough is enough” and seek some form of change?

Is it when we realise that no matter what the party in power does, the party in opposition will agree if it relates to war or our incestuous relationship with the USA which gives us exactly nothing?

At what point do we seek honesty and transparency in our elected members by putting in place a process which will watch them? When will we demand that accountability? A federal ICAC may well be a good start since ICAC in NSW have not found against a single non-aligned member of the Parliament.

As a small business owner, it’s probably reasonable to say that I would not employ somebody who was a complete liar. So why do we voters do it? Why is it okay for politicians to lie and still get elected? Why do we as voters think we are so useless and so meaningless in the overall scheme of things, that we can’t take matters into our own hands?

The question that we must each as individuals ask ourselves and find an answer for is “what does the politician have that I don’t?”

The answer naturally enough, is ‘nothing’. They all crap, they all speak, (and there is a point where most of them speak crap). They all drink and eat but it would appear that one thing they do more than your average citizen . . . is tell lies.

Over a series of articles I would like to investigate the process of finding 30 independent candidates for each of the major houses in this country. Senate, Representatives, State houses (upper and lower where applicable).

Is there a reason we can’t? Further, is there a reason we shouldn’t?

It really amounts to just one thing-each of us needs to ask “are my interests being looked after by the person who currently sits in Parliament as my representative?

If the answer is ‘no’ then perhaps it’s time to start thinking about changing.

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13 comments

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  1. M-R

    Right on, Daemon Singer (I’ll bet people occasionally make a typo in your first name …) – I’m with you. Go for it. Write as much as you like on this topic, because it’s the only possible hope remaining for this poor mishandled country.

  2. Stan Maley

    Australia is OK. Always has been the land of opportunitity and freedom. Guess a huge number of young fellas gave their lives so we could be free and enjoy this great country we live in.

  3. charybds

    What about the creation of a party with a limited set of objectives?

    1. Creation of a permanent federal anti corruption watchdog with power to apply criminal sanctions to representatives acting wrongly.
    2. Enactment of strong media diversity laws, along with the resumption and breaking up of the existing problem organisations.
    3. Strict laws banning political donations and a scheme for electoral funding on a per electoral seat basis.
    4. Laws restricting the number of seats for which any political party may present candidates (not to exceed 1/3 of seats available).
    5. Creation of a bill of rights.
    6. Upon completion of the above objectives, immediately call a double dissolution election, to be held within 6 months.

    That would come close to fixing the major problems inherent in our current system.

  4. kgb16

    Can’t understand why the Greens are not given more support by the Australian collective electorate….they appear to be doing a good job, but are mistrusted by many people. They are the only Party that have policies with regard to the environment, especially with regard to CSG, coal mining and logging.

    I have not seen any of their politicians receiving adverse corruption findings as have the LNP and Labor, especially in NSW which has an ICAC, something that should in all States and at Federal Level.

    There are and have been politicians and candidates who also fit the bill with regard to integrity and intelligence enough to support the environment and the Australian Public above their own private interests. (Tony Windsor, Rob Oakshott, Peter Andren, Nick Xenophon are some that come to mind).

  5. mars08

    kgb16:

    Can’t understand why the Greens are not given more support by the Australian collective electorate…

    I’d suggest that one reason is that they’ve been tagged by both major parties and the pathetic media as radical, one-issue, anti-progress, hard socialist, dope-smoking, do-gooders who don’t understand the challenges facing REAL Australians. And they seem far to reluctant to go to war, harass the weak and vulnerable or pander to the mega-rich. Well that’s just unAustralian!!

  6. June M Bullivant OAM

    Everyone you talk to these days are talking politics and how bad it is, I agree find the independents, some that don’t want big mining, some who will look after us, our history our people.

  7. hilderombout

    Here in the Latrobe Valley we are exactly doing this, putting up an independent candidate, who is chosen by the community. Latrobe Valley first has invited candidates to apply and currently two candidates are in the running and the community has the opportunity to chose the one whom they believe will represent them rather than take the party line. So things are happening around the country. Whether we succeed or not to upstage the current National Member in the state election is not sure but there are enough disenchanted members of the community to at the very least dent his power position.

  8. Kaye Lee

    The most important imperative for politics in this country is to get rid of Tony Abbott and the majority of the current Coalition MPs. Their brand of politics is a scourge which has affected the course of events both in government and opposition.

    Labor has become reactionary. Watering down the ETS and mining taxes, foolishly promising unwise surpluses, persecuting asylum seekers – all of these were fearful actions in response to pressure from business, lobby groups, and the Murdoch media fed by Credlin’s Star Chamber.

    Strong men of integrity like Windsor and Oakeshott were attacked and vilified by the community because they did not blindly accept the bullshit spun by Abbott’s machine. They stood strong and achieved a lot which Abbott is working his way through dismantling.

    Until he is booted out, we are at war protecting our society from Abbott’s destruction. Morrison closed the door on refugees while Abbott opened it for greedy corporations. Government regulation is the only protection we have against the ravages of profit hungry foreign corporations yet Abbott is determined to get rid of this protection and to sell off our country like it is his to sell.

  9. Terry2

    Couldn’t help thinking about John Howard’s comments on Sunday Night about Peter Costello not having had the “ticker” (i.e. courage) to challenge for the leadership. Nasty comment from a nasty little man about his former deputy who was loyal compared to the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd fiasco.

    It then struck me that Malcolm Turnbull must find that sort of rhetoric particularly confronting as he tries to maintain a semblance of loyal support for a man he quite obviously dislikes, who is his intellectual inferior and survives on spin and theatricals.

    Time to move Malcolm or move on.

  10. Kaye Makovec

    Couldn’t agree more with Daemon and Kaye Lee’s reply above.

    I have become so disillusioned I have actually been thinking of doing something I never ever thought I would do, join the Greens.

    PS. Terry2, I feel Turnbull has shown his true colours in slamming the NBN yet investing in similar types overseas. Hypocritical.

  11. trevor

    Well argued, well argued point of view by the writer about the state of the body politic in OZ land and a way to achieve change..

    It’s a great pity that there weren’t more Sophie Mirrabellas to go round cause you might just take the action in your own electorate as was taken in the Mirrabella electorate.

    The Greens as far as WA is concerned grew out of the disallusionment with mainstream party political opportunism, especially regarding Green Labor and the success in,(for Example) East Fremantle where a determined 60 or so concerned individuals combined to make the East Fremantle Green Labor (uprising) of serious note to the powers to be in Federal Labor. So Much did Federal Labor see the Green Labor East Fremantle a threat to some power structure, that unbeknownst to these 60 or so the Federal Labor assigned 2 or 3 FOUL MOUTHED suits to arrive at a meeting of these hardy individuals and in the presence of families, the old, the young and some infilTRAITORS mayhem ensued.

    On arriving at this East Fremantle meeting these suits from Labor Central took the microphone and began a Tirade of expletives about “how dare we” take two seats at the Annual Legs up in Hobart from Labor by organising as Green Labor East Fremantle..

    Needless to say this hastened the beginning of “the Greens WA”

    And the rest is History with the best “HAIR in the HOUSE” sitting in the senate and the Major Party duopoly throwing their collective Kitchen Sinks trying to Sink the Greens.

    But enough People share the Concerns articulated by the Greens.

  12. Jeff Rourke

    I’d like to suggest thinking be done about a party-less parliament, where the issues are the focus and cabinet is made up of those capable, even via secondment from business or academia for example.

  13. Anomander

    Jeff, that was the very vision of the original parliamentary model, where MPs represented their own constituencies and came together for the common good. Until of course, an opportunity was seized to establish parties with like-minded individuals and standardised policies and power to vote in a bloc. This also served us modestly, for a time, until the influence of big money came along and perverted the whole edifice. Democracy no longer exists. We as individuals get to vote once every few years from a smorgasbord of crap dealt to us, but those with money, influence and power get to vote every single day.

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