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Party politics – venal, vicious and vulgar

Tony Fitzgerald is a retired judge who was chairman of the 1987-1989 Commission of Inquiry into Official Corruption in Queensland. In December 2012 he wrote an article titled The body politic is rotten highlighting, amongst other things, the problems with preselection. Considering recent events and taking into account his knowledge and experience tackling corruption, it is worth revisiting.

“There are about 800 politicians in Australia’s parliaments. According to their assessments of each other, that quite small group includes role models for lying, cheating, deceiving, “rorting”, bullying, rumour-mongering, back-stabbing, slander, “leaking”, “dog-whistling”, nepotism and corruption.

A recent editorial valiantly suggested that “toxic debates test ideas, policy and character”, but a more orthodox view is that ethics, tolerance and civility are intrinsic elements of democratic society and that the politicians’ mutual contempt and aggressive, “end justifies the means” amorality erodes respect for authority and public institutions and compromises social cohesion.

Even some insiders are worried by the standard of Australian public life: a former minister, Senator John Faulkner, has said that this is “a dangerous moment for our democracy”, which “is drowning in distrust”. However, insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes, recognise only some of the problems and few of the causes and suggest insiders’ solutions with voters as mere bystanders.

The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and then business as usual.

Realistically, since politicians are unlikely to support any significant change which might reduce their power, genuine reform will be extremely difficult. However, it is not impossible if it is owned and driven by the community.

One modest, uncontroversial proposal which I favour as a starting point is a free, non-partisan website to provide voters with clear, accurate, impartial information to assist them to compare candidates for election, make better informed choices and avoid voting for unsuitable candidates merely because they have party preselection. As the US Supreme Court observed about 20 years ago, “the ability of the citizenry to make informed choices among candidates for office is essential, for the identities of those who are elected will inevitably shape the course that we follow as a nation”.

“Informed choices among candidates for office” are especially important in Australia. The constitution omits important checks and balances which commonly restrain the misuse of power. Australia’s version of democracy is founded on concepts of representative government and parliamentary supremacy which are in turn based on a premise that majority decisions by elected representatives constitute the collective wisdom of the community.

Those elected are not chosen to exemplify society’s flaws and vices but to act with integrity, make decisions for the public benefit and, as it was put by the late professor of law, Julius Stone, exercise power “subject to the restraints of shared socio-ethical conventions”. The cynicism and debased standards of modern party politics totally disregard those principles.

Political parties are effectively unregulated private organisations. The major parties, a coalition representing business and rural interests and an alliance between trade unions and socialist groups, include principled, well-motivated people but also attract professional politicians with little or no general life experience and unscrupulous opportunists, unburdened by ethics, who obsessively pursue power, money or both.

Little-known and often unimpressive factional leaders exert disproportionate influence. Under their guidance, the major parties have consolidated their grip on political finance, the political process and political power. As a result of their own parliamentary decisions, parties are publicly funded without a binding reciprocal obligation to act in the public interest. The power of these few, surprisingly small, unregulated groups is for now impregnable. For the foreseeable future, they will dominate public discussion and debate, effectively control Australia’s democracy and determine its destiny.

That might be tolerable if the major parties acted with integrity but they do not. Their constant battles for power are venal, vicious and vulgar. The mantra “whatever it takes” is part of political folklore. Parties equate their interest to the national interest, which they assume is best served by their ideology and its benefits for the like-minded.

Populism, paranoia and unrealistic expectations are encouraged and the naive and gullible are made envious, resentful and disdainful of fellow Australians. Public funds and sometimes reckless and sometimes “non-core” promises are used to entice voters to support vague and often opaque policies. Financial backers are provided with special access and influence and supporters are appointed to public positions. Information is withheld, distorted and manipulated and falsehoods and propaganda are euphemistically misdescribed as mere “spin”.

Opposition, dissent and criticism are discouraged by personal abuse, often protected by parliamentary privilege, and unwelcome ideas are condemned as “elitist” or “un-Australian”. The public interest is subordinated to the pursuit of power, party objectives and personal ambitions, sometimes including the corrupt acquisition of financial benefit.

The role, authority and prestige of parliament, the corner-stone of our democracy, are diminished as decisions made by the party leadership are publicly rubber-stamped by parliamentarians whose party membership and pre-selection are held at the whim of the party and who are bound by party rules and discipline to implement its policies and vote as directed irrespective of their consciences, opinions or responsibilities to their electorates.

Citizens are free to criticise and periodically entitled, indeed compelled, to vote. However, since one or other of the major parties will always win, elections provide voters with only a type of Hobson’s choice. Many people vote only because they’re legally obliged to. Because voters often know little or nothing about candidates except which party each represents, the parties gift electorates to family connections, malleable party hacks and mediocre apparatchiks.

The huge gulf between governance principles and political practice can be directly traced to the calibre of those whom parties select to represent them. Unless and until that improves, the present national embarrassment will continue.

Voters who are well-informed and engaged can influence political behaviour by not voting for unsuitable candidates even if they have been preselected by a party. When voters demonstrate that a candidate’s party is only one factor by voting for the best candidate or at least not voting for an unsuitable candidate, the importance of a candidate’s merits will quickly become obvious, especially in marginal seats.

Once that occurs, political parties will feel pressure to preselect on merit, more people of integrity will be encouraged to join political parties or stand for election, the quality of those elected to parliament will improve, political standards will rise and other reform will become possible.

It will take time and patience, but ultimately, if the community perseveres, it will prevail.”

Wise words indeed. Make your vote count.

76 comments

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  1. @RosemaryJ36

    My voting order will be:
    In order of perceived integrity, highest to lowest, independents, then Greens, ALP and last and definitely least L-NP!
    I am fortunate in being in the NT where we do not have nominated candidates in the 100s when it comes to the Senate and we only have to elect 2 senators.

  2. Sir Scotchmistery

    Kaye Lee as ever well done. Weekly this becomes a more formidable platform among the choir for describing the songs we have all sung for so long.

    I’m moved to support the idea of a free open non partisan site to inform voters of the actual nature of the body politic. I’m not convinced however of the capacity of such a thing to achieve.

    Think of the AIMN. Free. Yes, it costs us netizens nothing but what we choose to contribute. Non-partisan, yes I believe we are essentially so though in general left and progressive in our expressed views. It doesn’t appear to be a comfortable place for those of a rightist or socio – fascist bent. We inform, we express, we educate. But we do it among ourselves.

    How could a site such as that you envisage ever be managed?

  3. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Great article Kaye. I’ve said something very similar on my site makeourvoiceheard.com The party system totally undermines the democratic process. The reality is that being a politician is just another job in the public service.

    As an experiment, I recently applied to become a local councillor. Apart from attending council meetings, what does a councillor do? What is expected of them? Who knows! There is no job description, so how do you find out? All I was told was to make a 150 word pitch, and that was it. They didn’t tell me that I could use those words to point to a website – schoolboy error right there – but the lack of useful advice on how I could get my message out was clear – insiders only should apply, and/or those with money to send out leaflets to everyone in your district.

    There should be a clear job description for the role, and all people standing should submit a cv and a covering letter which should be available on a government website. The AEC should be responsible for checking the details of each candidate to ensure that the facts stated are true, and there should be an opportunity for those who know that person to be able to report them if they are telling porkies.

    As the voters are employers, it is their job to select who they believe is the most appropriate person to do the job. Not some pre-selection committee of a political party. Its why we end up with so many bench warmers (particularly it would appear on the less-progressive side of politics).

  4. Aortic

    As someone once said, ” if voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.” Cynical I know, but the endless facts, figures and statistics promulgated as indisputable fact makes voters cynical. Who has the time to check and even then pitfalls and dead ends abound. In any case if you don’t live in a marginal seat, a vote for whatever party is not favoured is pointless and futile. Some choice.

  5. Arthur Plottier

    I am worry about some of the “progressive independents” which have similar principles and polices but not want to be part of the Greens.
    Some of them saying that are progressive but budgetary conservative.
    My worry is that if any of them who are ” budgetary conservative” get a seat in the senate they are going to vote with the coalition.
    How many of the candidates in those micro parties are individuals that have try to be nominated as a representatives of the Liberals and because were no selected they look for another paths to get into politics?
    On the Minor Party Alliance are some parties that I would not get near them, their priorities are not what I agree and some of them have enter into agreements with the coalition to pass some legislation in exchange for others no constructive for the majority of the people.
    The Shooters party is a good example.
    After looking at all those micro parties,, yes, I would put them in front of the Liberals and nationals but bellow the ALP and The Greens.

  6. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    A very good article again, Kaye, and people wonder why I advocate for the ALLiance?

    Seeing and smelling the foetid decay of the modern political landscape, as described by Kaye, should explain that quandary.

    I want Shorten, Di Natale, Progressive micro parties such as Australian Progressives and Pirate Party under the banner (for Arthur Plottier’s information) called “Alliance For Progress” see http://allianceforprogress.org.au/ and sane Independents like Muir and Mark Dickenson in Victoria, as well as other sane Independents in all the other states, to all start making phone calls about how together they will bring our lovely country back on track in the opposite direction from Neoliberalism and from the putrid controls of Big Biz, Uncle Rupe and cynical conservative elements everywhere.

    I also want Labor, the Greens and the above other Progressives to be seen and heard by the voting public that these deliberations are on foot so that they know that change for a brighter time is blowing towards us. That will have the LNP Degenerates totally confounded.

  7. Kaye Lee

    JMS,

    Ricky Muir isn’t an independent. He is from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party. If you read their core values they align a lot closer with the Coalition than with progressives. They are all for small government, freedom of speech, hand-up not handout, robust national Security type stuff.

  8. Arthur Plottier

    Jennifer, I know “Alliance For Progress” I was looking at some of the micro parties and candidates there and many are ex Libis.
    I would not put some of them in my lower preferences but yes above the Liberals.
    Many of them are budgetary conservatives which will agree more with the coalition economics than the Greens or the ALP for that matter. When the time come to vote in the senate they will go with the coalition..
    So far The Greens are my first option.

  9. king1394

    The problem with independents is that you may well know even less about their beliefs and attitudes than you would know from a party member. I have been very disappointed with some independents over the years, who turn out to be far different than expected. Yes, we have seen some wonderful people at all levels of government, but as a voter, you need to thoroughly investigate the background of any independent to whom you are giving a vote

  10. Jexpat

    I’m bookmarking this for friends and colleagues in North America who repeatedly ask about the Australian political system

  11. Arthur Plottier

    Jexpat, show them that here also we have a kind of tea party.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Show them the IPA’s wish list of 75+25 ideas to make Australia a corporate whore and then point out how Tim Wilson and James Patterson have been gifted positions with huge salaries despite their obvious lack of qualifications or experience or suitability. Those two make my blood boil – parasites.

  13. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    There was a breakdown in the relationship between Muir and AMEP because he wasn’t doing their bidding. Muir has shown integrity and a capacity to stand up and be counted.

  14. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Thanks king1394. It’s good to see that there is such a document – but why wasn’t something like this provided to me when I stood (perhaps because WA is still the wait awhile state)? I did, however, get a thumb drive with the names and addresses of everyone in the ward I was standing in (and no request to return it afterwards, which surely has privacy issues). No emails though, which would have been more useful in this electronic age…

    I agree also with your point about what candidates purport to be before an election, and then act totally differently afterwards. Mind you, that is often based on a biased MSM perception – for example the pillorying of Tony Windsor and Rob Oakshott who are both economically conservative, but who had the “audacity” to not toe Tony Abbotts approach.

    Again, I think every elected representative’s votes in parliament should be recorded so that their electorate can see how they have voted, and every candidate should report on their own website about why they voted in that manner. This allows us, the employers, to decide whether to renew their contract at the next election, or decide on someone else.

  15. Steve Laing - makeourvoiceheard.com

    Kaye – totally agree. There is more than an ounce of nepotism and cronyism alive and kicking on the Liberal side of politics, and they do it quite unabashed. And the born to rule mentality is relatively unquestioned by the complicit MSM. It is utterly appalling, and the checks and balances that are supposed to exist simply do not work.

  16. diannaart

    In the event of a hung parliament (and I believe there is every possibility of such a result), I am looking forward to watching the machinations of the LNP and Labor as they attempt alliances with the independents and minor parties of which they are currently, so derisive.

  17. Backyard Bob

    Ricky Muir isn’t an independent. He is from the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party. If you read their core values they align a lot closer with the Coalition than with progressives. They are all for small government, freedom of speech, hand-up not handout, robust national Security type stuff.

    Been there, pointed this out. It’ll be ignored, again.

  18. Kaye Lee

    diannaart,

    At the risk of being repetitive, the Coalition will not have to form alliances. By default, they remain the government unless Labor win 76 seats. Shorten has ruled out forming an alliance with the Greens, a decision I hope he changes though in the HoR the Greens don’t have a big presence despite their primary vote due to their support being scattered. Windsor and Oakeshott have said they would not choose sides and that they would never back a motion of no confidence in the government which would be the other way to get rid of them. Di Natale has said he would work with the Coalition if they were returned kind of ruling out their support for a no confidence motion. Katter and McGowan would back the government. Clive’s seat will probably stay conservative. Seems to me Bill needs to win 21 seats or Malcolm stays.

  19. Kaye Lee

    JMS,

    Muir is running for the AMEP again so they must have got past their differences.

  20. diannaart

    Thank you, Kaye Lee, I have been told 😛

    I was under the impression that, due to this being a double dissolution election, both the major parties were, kind of, equal contestants.

  21. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Ok, if Muir is running under the AMEP banner again, I won’t advocate him inside the 12 spots below-the-line. The rest of my suggestions stand.

    Di Natale has also said that the Greens would preference Labor before the LNP. He has said that numerous times in latter weeks.

  22. Kaye Lee

    Not to form government. That is decided by a majority in the HoR or continue with the incumbent if 76 people don’t make a formal agreement to form government which they have seemed to rule out.

    The double dissolution thing means the government can call a joint sitting to vote on the ABCC legislation which means they assume if they combine both houses they will have an overall majority – I think.

    And I hope I didn’t sound cross. I think it is important for people to understand this and I don’t think many do.

  23. Kaye Lee

    JMS,

    Preferences mean nothing except trying to influence people by how they number their printed how to vote card. No-one has to follow that though I concede that many do. We decide our own preferences regardless of what politicians or parties say.

  24. Gangey1959

    Let’s have July 2, line them all up against the wall, and bring on the revolution.

  25. Kaye Lee

    “if, after an election, no-one emerges with the confidence of a majority of the House, the incumbent Prime Minister, as the last person to hold a majority, has the right to remain in office and test his or her support on the floor of the House.”

  26. Backyard Bob

    Kaye Lee,

    Shorten has ruled out forming an alliance with the Greens, a decision I hope he changes though in the HoR the Greens don’t have a big presence despite their primary vote due to their support being scattered.

    Shorten will most certainly speak to the Greens and others about forming government. I’m 100% certain of that. How the Greens will fare in the HoR is a pretty vague question. Windsor and Oakeshott are conservatives who will almost certainly back a Turnbull Coalition government. Cathy won’t be there.

    I’m inclined to agree Labor needs to win in its own right. At this stage I optimistically think they can. Even though the MSM has been quiet on Parakeelia, I suspect that’s going to blow up pretty soon.

  27. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think any of them will agree ByB. It is what Windsor has been trying to tell us. There is no need for them to make an agreement. Turnbull can stay and they can all vote the way they want and outvote the Coalition’s silly stuff. The cross bench would hold the dominant power. Why would they trade that away?

  28. diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Respect for someone, means understanding why you might be tired of repeating yourself.

  29. Matters Not

    Why would they trade that away?

    There’s a number of reasons. Parliament doesn’t get to vote on whether or not I get a new hospital, dam or whatever. Those decisions are made well away from the public gaze. While a minority government can live with supporters outside the tent, it’s much more reassuring when those supporters give guarantees and join them inside the tent.

    Sure they would trade away some of their independence but they can also gain some electoral favours.

    Always a tradeoff. Seen it first hand so many times at the State level.

  30. Arthur Plottier

    Bob, I am pessimistic, IMO the coalition will return to power and will work easy in the senate with possible 4 senators of Nick party and 2 Liberal Democrats plus some other nutter.
    I hope that I am wroing

  31. Kaye Lee

    diannaart,

    I apologise for how that may have sounded. it’s just that I have made that comment on a few threads today. I didn’t mean to infer you were dense, just that I was actually being repetitive for those reading a few threads. I am sorry it came out wrong. I have just fully realised the implications of this so have been keen to share it.

  32. Kaye Lee

    MN,

    Could they not achieve the same thing in return for each and every vote in a minority parliament? That’s how the Senate crossbenchers got their silly wind commissioner.

  33. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Matters Not,

    what you are saying @3.39 pm accords with what I see as the benefits of a working Alliance. So why your dismissive commentary on the other thread?

  34. paul walter

    I observed a thread running through the entire page and it’s to do, once again, with the refusal of the Greens and Labor to cooperate meaningfully with each other. From here, we go to all sorts of vested interests who don’t want change and will do what’s necessary to look after number one regardless of rationality or morality.

  35. Backyard Bob

    I knew my trip to BWS would pay off.

  36. diannaart

    PW

    Yep, you’ve about summed up the tenor of thread.

  37. Backyard Bob

    Arthur,

    Bob, I am pessimistic, IMO the coalition will return to power and will work easy in the senate with possible 4 senators of Nick party and 2 Liberal Democrats plus some other nutter.

    I think that sort of outcome is a legitimate concern. The Senate is going to be a case of “anyone’s guess”. I can sort of feel a dog’s breakfast coming on but I’m prepared to hope for the best, for reasons that, at least where the Senate outcome is concerned, I probably couldn’t justify.

  38. Matters Not

    Could they not achieve the same thing in return for each and every vote

    They could. And will, but only if necessary. It’s not the preferred position. There’s always the uncertainty of how things will go on a day to day basis. It makes for a policy implementation paralysis. (Never knowing who to cling to when the rain sets in.) And it does. Always. There’s only so many ‘goodies’ to be bestowed and once an ‘independent’ receives his/hers the loyalty tends to evaporate rather quickly. Or the demands just increase.

    Makes for very indecisive government. Bad for the ‘brand’.

  39. Michael Taylor

    If Turnbull forms a minority government after support of some independents, wouldn’t it be delicious if Tones declares it an “illegitimate government” and demands an election.

    I’m being silly, of course. Tones will insist he belongs to a government that has a mandate.

  40. Matters Not

    MSM has been quiet on Parakeelia, I suspect that’s going to blow up pretty soon

    Yep the $1 million plus makes some of the ‘union’ corruption seems like small change. But while Labor seems to have clean hands, given that there’s no evidence of close connections via kickbacks and the like, it’s still a problem for Labor because the dogs will again bark – Federal ICAC now. And if not. Then why not.

    Too many skeletons one suspects.

    Governments of all colours don’t really want for ‘The Sleepers to Awake’, with apologies to Jacques Ellul.

  41. Kaye Lee

    Michael,

    There are a lot of people who think Tones (or someone even worse) will challenge for the leadership if Malcolm loses a lot of seats. I would have thought that you would have to have a majority of the population voting for you to have a mandate. Even winning 90 seats, the Coalition only got 45.6% of the vote and that was by combining the votes of its 4 member parties.

  42. Backyard Bob

    Not sure which Independents will actually be there to support Turnbull. Cathy McGowan will lose Indie. I don’t like either Windsor’s or Oakeshott’s chances either. The hill they have to climb to surmount the anger over supporting Gillard – in National Party territory seats – is steep. I’ll be impressed if either of them manage it.

    I think it’s fair to say they both know it, which is why they are using such tempered and cautious language regarding talk of a hung parliament.

    No-one is talking about Wilkie, who hammered Labor and the Greens to nearly double his primary in Denison. He’s a bit of a fair-weather political friend himself, really.

    The more I think about this election the more I want to go looking for posts by Jennifer … 😉

  43. Backyard Bob

    MN,

    Governments of all colours don’t really want for ‘The Sleepers to Awake’, with apologies to Jacques Ellul.

    For sure, which is why Labor isn’t actually pushing the Parakeelia matter. But my suspicion is the MSM are quietly working on things in the background. What happens with this issue in the next few days, with regard to the MSM, might grant an insight into media sympathies and power-plays – or totally not if nothing happens.

  44. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    What makes you think Cathy McGowan will lose Indie?

  45. Backyard Bob

    The circumstances under which she won are not reproducible, plus she has a paper thin margin. Her only chance is if Labor wins and the Indie Labor candidate does really well.

  46. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I would have thought Sophie Mirabella has cooked her goose in the constituents’ eyes and as much as I would like to see the seat go out of the conservatives’ hands, from personal knowledge of the electorate, I would not be holding my breath.

  47. Backyard Bob

    The seat can’t go out of conservative hands because, realistically, the only people capable of winning it are conservative. Indie is slightly volatile, but no Labor or “progressive” candidate has a chance. That’s how safe seats are (in a political ideology sense).

  48. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    In that case, I’d say McGowan has a better chance than Mirabella which is not what you said.

  49. Kaye Lee

    They are running a Nationals candidate against Mirabella. He doesn’t believe humanity contributes to global warming and he doesn’t believe we are descended from apes. He home schools his six (soon to be seven) children. No doubt some think him a good candidate.

  50. Backyard Bob

    JMS,

    I’m sorry, I don’t follow. Nothing I said suggests Cathy has a better chance – other than if the labor candidate does really well and leeks preferences to her, which is probably how she won last time. The circumstances of that election aren’t repeatable. The Coalition will have done their work to address as many issues as possible that made Cathy popular. If they haven’t it would be surprising.

    Much of Cathy’s success came at the expense of the Labor candidate, not Mirabella.

    Liberal Sophie Mirabella 39,785 44.68 −7.17
    Independent Cathy McGowan 27,763 31.18 +31.18
    Labor Robyn Walsh 10,375 11.65 −16.54

    That will probably look like shit when posted, but it tells the story. Unless Cathy has managed to endear herself to the Indie electorate in a very significant way, she has no chance, for mine.

  51. Backyard Bob

    Kaye Lee,

    They are running a Nationals candidate against Mirabella.

    Damn, I knew there was another reason to write Cathy off. Yes, I’d forgotten about that. Further guaranteeing a Coalition victory.

  52. Roger

    Kaye. I’ve done this before with another website, but I’m willing to do it now. If you could personally contact me, I’d be willing to be the vehicle for what you suggest. First, I think we need to establish a set of objectives that we, as Australians, are generally aiming for (perhaps: equity, prosperity, opportunity, welfare, just to mention a few). These would be the standards that politicians, or potential politicians would be measured against. The site would need to be written in as simple a language as possible, so that it is inclusive and would not be a live forum format (this would alleviate trolls). A panel of adjudicators would be needed to run Over every submission for accuracy and nothing to be posted until it has been vetted. I think now is the time to do something. I’d need massive help (you’d be a welcomed recruit), so let’s do it!

  53. Miriam English

    Roger, the objectives you mentioned are for progressive values. That would alienate conservatives and so would not be impartial.

    It’s really difficult to frame things in such a way that they truly reflect the aims and feelings of each politician regardless of their affiliations.

    I would be happy lend a hand if you want. I have a fair amount of experience setting up websites.

  54. Backyard Bob

    It has to be a project instigated by the least political persons possible. That rules out everyone here. I suspect it rules out everyone everywhere. Mind you, it’s an attractive idea, like a perpetual motion machine or Tesla’s free energy.

  55. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Roger and Miriam,

    if you get it running, please make sure you let us all know where to find it.

  56. Roger

    Let’s do it! Miriam and Jennifer, thanks for your support. I’m hoping that Kaye will be supportive also. I’m not concerned about your constructive criticism, Bob. I think if we put any postings to a rigid test, we can produce something of value. I may have this slightly wrong, but I seem to remember David Suzukii proposing a test for any development to be approved only if it passed a 3-part test: does it affect the air we breathe? Does it affect the earth? Does it affect the bio-diversity? If it passes all three tests then go for it;; if not, go back and try again. (Or something similar). We could devise a simple test before we criticise or compliment a politician. We could list every person running under the various electorates and comment on each person running. We could list all major party policies and objectively (as far as is humanly possible) comment on the effect of each policy. These are just off the top of my head, but I’m sure with the input of others, we could achieve something worthwhile. If it is, then it would be relatively easy to get it noticed through social media.

  57. paul walter

    I can’t beleive the people of Indie would choose Mirabella before McGowan. As for the nat, sounds like a crackpot full of Tea Party hokum.

  58. wam

    labor cannot cooperate with the diludbrans because those loonies are not subservient as are the nats. Labor has a constitution with principles. Sadly such handicaps are missing from the other three.

  59. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    but wam,

    Labor has failed to live up to its constitution. That’s the key point that has divided us.

  60. vixstar

    Good news Labor giving back $240 million to CSIRO wow whoooooo thank goodness for Labor

  61. Matters Not

    Labor giving back $240 million to CSIRO

    Sounds good. (But maybe not). Is this promise without ‘conditions’? You know, just more money to proceed down the entrepreneurial track or is it intended for the CSIRO to return to more basic and fundamental research?

    Return of funding isn’t at the heart of the problem. It’s the ‘direction’! Will this new funding be ‘tied’ to outcomes determined by a Labor government or will it be still at the discretion of the current Director?

  62. paul walter

    It’s fortunate that the current director is not a Liberal appointee, is that right?

    Really, MN, what is the meaning of slashing of funds for education, customs and CSIRO, surely not dumbing down?

  63. Kaye Lee

    The announcement about the CSIRO is welcome. The press release talks about restoring funding to save the jobs, and to invest in the Dish at Parkes, the RV investigator, climate science, food security, and manufacturing. It’s a significant amount of money so should mean that programs don’t have to be stopped.

  64. Kaye Lee

    Corruption on a grand scale….

    “Parliamentary staff were working for the Liberal-linked software company that has transferred large sums of money to the party exceeding $1 million, emails obtained by Fairfax Media show.

    The emails suggest that Parliament House staff were simultaneously doing work for Parakeelia Pty Ltd, a company that MPs pay $2500 a year in taxpayer allowances to use its Feedback software. Parakeelia has in turn become the Liberals’ second-biggest source of income.

    “Training sessions are provided regularly and there is no cost involved,” a 2014 email from Sallyann Innes obtained by Fairfax reads.

    Ms Innes was operating a private email address linked to Parakeelia and listed as “training and operations” director for Feedback software. She regularly ran support workshops for the software in capital cities.

    But at that time she was listed in staff directories as collecting a taxpayer-funded salary as a government media adviser in Parliament House.

    Ms Innes refused to comment on Sunday on the nature of her work arrangements with Parakeelia and at Parliament.

    Axed Liberal MP Dennis Jensen alleges government staff were employed “pretty well full time” to provide training for the software.

    “Additional ministerial staffing entitlements would be used,” he said. “It’s very inappropriate given what we know now about taxpayer allowances being paid to the company being returned to the party.” ”

    http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/federal-election-2016/government-staffers-provided-free-training-for-liberal-software-donor-20160612-gphdz9.html

  65. Kaye Lee

    When Jaqui Lambie was elected she did an interview on 7:30 report. Re the carbon tax she said…

    “I support tearing up the carbon tax to a certain degree but some of that carbon tax is quite good. So, you know what, tearing something up and restarting again takes longer. We probably need to start that carbon tax at maybe three or four per cent.”

    Which made me realise she didn’t have an f’ing clue what the carbon tax was yet her vote was instrumental in abandoning it.

  66. diannaart

    @Roger

    does it affect the air we breathe? Does it affect the earth? Does it affect the bio-diversity?…….We could devise a simple test before we criticise or compliment a politician

    I see no reason to alter the questions 😛

    Looking forward to seeing results.

  67. diannaart

    @Divergent Aussie

    I recall Muir admitting he made mistakes at the beginning of his incumbency when chatting to Annabel Crabb on “Kitchen Cabinet” – one of the better episodes.

    This motoring enthusiast sided with Labor and the Greens in an attempt to stop the LNP from axing the carbon tax. I, for one, hope he manages to keep his position in the senate after the 2016 election.

    RICKY Muir has split from the Palmer United Party in preventing the Federal Government from bringing on an urgent vote to axe the carbon tax.

    The Coalition tried to gag debate when the Senate began sitting this morning, in a bid to have a vote on its carbon tax repeal legislation bills.

    But its attempt failed when the Australian Motoring Enthusiast Party’s Ricky Muir sided with Labor and the Greens to stop the guillotine.

    http://www.news.com.au/national/ricky-muir-votes-with-labor-greens-to-stop-carbon-tax-repeal-vote/news-story/83991dabaed3573e0ef2dda6bb5e4aa2

  68. corvus boreus

    diannaart,
    Mostly, Ricky Muir has been against the carbon price.
    In the events referred to in your linked story, the MEP senator sided with the Labor/Green Alliance (skúl) to vote against a gag-motion/immediate vote proposal put forward regarding the repeal of the Gillard ‘Carbon value signal’. Laudable.
    https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/divisions/senate/2014-07-09/1
    He then changed his mind in the next day’s session and agreed upon the urgency of the matter.
    https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/divisions/senate/2014-07-10/1.
    The next week, when the ultimate deciding vote was taken regarding the repeal of the standing carbon reduction measures, the senator representing the hoon party voted to ‘axe the tax’.
    https://theyvoteforyou.org.au/divisions/senate/2014-07-17/7

  69. diannaart

    CB

    Muir did admit to making mistakes (as I noted above) and I would take a senate full of Muirs than another Pup, Liberal Democrat, Hanson et al… even Lambie has better days than the aforementioned.

    I don’t expect perfection, I do expect politicians to think things through and Muir does this.

  70. corvus boreus

    diannaart,
    The mechaphilic flinger of macropod scats has often surprised and sometimes impressed me in his parliamentary conduct.
    He seems to vote according to his principles (he opposes fracking and supports ICAC), and makes an effort to be conscientious and professional in his duties as a senator.
    Were he an aspirant in my state, I might even consider giving him a token scratch.

    However, some facts remain.

  71. diannaart

    CB

    Tossing macropod scats more environmentally healthy than what the LNP flings at us.

    🙂

  72. paul walter

    I agree with diannart. I have infinitely more time for Muir, Lambie and one or two other indies. They are examples of conditioning, but unlike Hanson and many nats and libs, still seem able and prepared to think through things on merit and heed their consciences. Palmer stuffed his chance and the baton has passed to his more humble and flexible accolytes.

    But it is a sad thing, when the political landscape is so desolate that we have to look to these people in the absence through exclusion of principled and better educated voices through preselection processes in the major parties.

    This a society that blinds and lobotomises itself to avoid the truth and to avoid reality, starting at the top.

  73. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Well said, diannaart. Muir has integrity despite some mistakes.

  74. diannaart

    Admitting to mistakes is a sign of integrity.

    When was there a time anyone from the LNP admitted to making a mistake that went further than “I don’t recall”?

    A: “I misspoke”

    PW

    In the land of the blind…

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