John F Kennedy once said:
“Voters chose us because they have confidence in our discernment, when we are in a position that allows us to determine what best serves their interests as a part of national interests. This means that we – according to the situation – we have to lead, instruct and correct the opinions of voters and sometimes not even consider them, exercising the discernment we were elected for”.
For me to be comfortable with that, which I would love to be, I would need to have confidence that our elected representatives were people of integrity. I would need to feel that they had sufficient intelligence to grasp the issues, that they would listen to expert opinion, that they were honest when speaking to their constituents, and that they had enough courage to protect us from those who would seek to exploit us.
When a politician is elected they are given temporary custodianship of our common wealth. It is a huge responsibility. They will be making decisions about how best to invest the money we entrust to them and how best to grow the country’s assets and raise living standards for all.
Instead of attracting people of integrity, politics in this country, and many others, has become the haven of career politicians whose goal is to secure a comfortable lifestyle for themselves now and into the future.
We elect people to lead, but many have just become followers. They follow a party line, a lobbyist or an ideology. In so doing they are abrogating their responsibility and failing in the job they were elected to do. Every utterance, every decision, is made with the view to being re-elected. Far from being leaders, our politicians follow polls and focus groups searching for what will make them popular.
What other job can you get with a starting salary package of hundreds of thousands of dollars with no qualifications, no experience, no essential criteria, no application other than saying you are eligible (and you don’t even have to prove that), no interview other than by the media, and no ongoing performance assessment other than an election in three years’ time whose outcome has been decided by Rupert Murdoch?
The required paperwork to apply for welfare, to open a bank account, or to get a driver’s licence is much tougher than to run for Parliament.
It has been said that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Our method of paying huge wages and entitlements has attracted gorillas – those who have, from a young age, worked out how to milk the most they can from their mediocrity.
Look at Tim Wilson – appointed by George Brandis after an enjoyable evening spent together at an IPA bash where Tony Abbott lauded Rupert Murdoch as one of the finest Australians in history. Lo and behold, as soon as George gets the power he kicks out our Commissioner for the Disabled and employs Tim at a salary package approaching $400,000 – no application, no interview.
Previously Tim had been for seven years policy director of the Institute of Public Affairs during which time he vociferously called for the abolition of the Human Rights Council.
One can only imagine the phone call.
“The HRC…that hotbed of leftie tree huggers? No way! They should all be sacked to save we taxpayers….huh…what’s that you say? Are you sure you can get me a gig? How much does it pay? Ok…I am sure I can whip them into line. You do your bit by undermining Gillian Triggs in every way you can and I am sure I will be able to take over when you force her to resign. I was a real force in the Young Liberals….I can make this thing work. Ummm…I don’t want to appear pushy but what entitlements do I get and I’ll need school holidays off”.
On appointment to the HRC, Wilson resigned from membership of the Liberal Party. Look, no more conflict of interest … now what are we working on again, George?
He has been arguing for Section 18C of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act to be revoked, calling the prosecution of broadcaster Andrew Bolt (who, I might add, was the MC for the IPA bash) for vilification of indigenous Australians an infringement on Bolt’s right to freedom of speech. After finding himself with nothing to do after the government responded to the public outcry to dump the changes, Tim briefly resurrected himself after the shootings in Paris. He seems to have faded away again no doubt enjoying his backdated pay rise over the holiday period.
When the Prime Minister sets the example by keeping his colleagues waiting for an hour while he gets his photo taken so he can claim entitlements for attending a private function, and has the gall to admit to it like there is no problem with that, one can see the total disdain he has for propriety and that Tony is very much in it for the money. Let’s face it, his career before entering politics was hardly stellar and it is rather hard to imagine what he could be successful at other than being Howard’s attack dog.
The blatant cronyism, the rewarding of donors, the hiring of climate sceptics to advise about everything, the dogged determination to unwind all reforms introduced by the previous government, the exploiting of entitlements, the silencing of advocacy groups whilst allowing paid access to ministers by lobby groups and rich individuals, the backing away from tax reform measures (FBT on novated leases, taxing super payouts over $100,000pa, tightening corporate tax evasion profit sharing loopholes, mining tax, carbon pricing), selling off our assets, unfettered mining with no regard for the environment – all of these things are proof of how the Abbott government considers our common wealth theirs to do with as they will.