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Politicians aren’t experts – they should listen to people who are

Politicians love to tell us how hard they work. The hours are horrendous. The toll on the family is unbearable. Oh, the pressure.


These people do not have to have any qualifications. They haven’t had to spend years studying, incurring a huge debt, to get the job. They don’t have to reskill in their middle age.

They don’t have to have any experience or expertise at anything, though fund-raising is seen as a plus on your CV. They haven’t had to start at the bottom and devote years of hard work to working their way up.

They don’t have to actually do anything – like build a house, or deliver a baby, or fix a car, or tend to the elderly, or fight fires. They never have to .meet a deadline or stick to a contract.

Hell, they don’t even have to turn up to work if they don’t want to.

As for the toll on the family, the House of Representatives will sit for an onerous 45 days in 2019. Should they miss their partner for the, at most, four days they are gone, the family can join the politician wherever they happen to be at public expense.

Perhaps if they made Parliament House an alcohol-free zone, there might be less “strain” on marital relationships.

It can be argued that local members must then have community engagement back in their electorates, except that seems to have degenerated into pics on twitter and facebook saying “Here I am at….”.

Fortuitously, they always seem to be with people grateful for their presence. From personal experience, they move on pretty quickly if you have a concern you want to discuss, and block you from their facebook page if you ask questions or post inconvenient evidence (I’m looking at you Lucy Wicks).

Apart from PR, the actual job of this bunch of people with no expertise whatsoever is to be advised by the best experts in the land as to what our challenges are, how best to prioritise resource use to address them, what regulations must be put into place to protect the best interests of the people and the environment, and how best can we contribute to global efforts.

We invest a lot of money into education, training and research, and into expert inquiries, we employ thousands of public servants in departments whose job it is to advise government, only for politicians to ignore their findings and recommendations.

We have problems. We have experts who know how to fix them. We just need politicians who care more about what they say than what Alan Jones and Ray Hadley say.

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  1. Jaquix

    Even when some of these Coalition pollies have academic qualifications, it seems to have no effect on them. The Treasurer is a good case in point. Angus Taylor another. Theyre both duds. Barnaby, Bridget McKenzie, Michael McCormack. Too many to name.

  2. Keitha Granville

    SPOT ON.

    Especially the alcohol free zone bit, what other job actually PROVIDES booze during working hours.

    45 days !!!! How about we just pay them for the actual hours they put in, like everyone else. That’d slow a few of them down.

    I am speechless with rage at the cost of our parliaments, and the constant complaints from THEM about how much the rest of the populace costs.

  3. MikeW

    Well said again Kate, and spot on. Alcohol is banned in most if not all work places why should parliament house be any different.
    If your going to drug and alcohol test people on benefits lead by example pollies with the same penalties if found out.

    As for that joke called question time, it’s time to change the rules no mobile phones, no Dixers and questions to be answered, no insults or preamble just answers.

  4. Nicholas Medveczky

    They keep track of political donations and know which side their bread is buttered

  5. king1394

    Even when Parliament is sitting, many of them are out of the chamber. How often when watching a fine speech from a less prominent MP do you realise that he/she is addressing an empty space. I would like it to be compulsory for them to be present to vote rather than have the charade of ringing the bells and the MPs arriving to move past the counters in their party groups with no idea of the motion or the issue.
    And don’t bother telling me that they are listening to the debate from their offices.

  6. Aortic

    Well said again Kaye. I well remember a pertinent letter some time ago to the SMH I think it was. Can’t quote it verbatim but it was along these lines. As I come to the end of a long and fulfilling life, I am more and more convinced that anyone who thinks they know what is better for me than I know myself, should be led away before that hurt someone. Question Time is an expensive farce in both houses. Morrison constantly blames the Labour Party and Cormann the Lieber Party but both of them are guilty in the extreme for obfuscation and prevarication. Here’s a thought to save a dollar. Have the backbenchers sit in their electoral office when Parliament sits and if required contribute by audio visual means. Only the front benches of both parties would be required to physically attend. Save a fortune and the electorates might actually get some interface with their local members.

  7. Baby Jewels

    It’s true, we need a revolution.

  8. Pete Petrass

    Yeah Malcolm Roberts, Pauline Hansen, Barnaby Joyce are the first cases in point when I think of those with no qualifications or knowledge or anything else.
    Of course we could also include failed and sacked ad men who go around shitting their pants at the Engadine Maccas. All he has is thoughts and prayers.

  9. Brad Black

    Or another idea, Aortic, create just one ministry, the ‘ministry of doing everything arse about’ and let it run the country. It couldn’t be worse than the brain damaged politicians we (they) elected in May. That’d be a few hundred million extra we’d save – in super alone.

  10. corvus boreus

    Question for anyone seeking to enter/re-enter parliament ;
    ‘Do you accept the (basic) scientific fact that the planet’s oceans are currently rising at an increasing rate?’

    If not, phuq off.

    Ps, apparently Warringah agreed;

  11. Michael Taylor

    cb, apologies for your comment getting trapped in the system. The system does that (on its own accord, mind you) to any comment with a large number of links. They tend to think they’re spam.

    But as usual, I was on the ball. 😁

  12. Kaye Lee


    I remember doing a vocational guidance test when I was in high school. We should devise something similar as a screening test for candidates.

    Would you rather buy a submarine that will arrive in 20 years time or fire-fighting airplanes now?

    Would you rather fly across the country with your entourage to have your photo taken with a shovel or donate $50,000 to a homeless youth refuge?

    How many jobs do you think will come from coal-mining in the next ten years compared to how many will come from the NDIS?

    Do you think that drought and fires are God’s punishment for us allowing all adults the choice to marry the person they love?

    Are you scared of people who don’t have pink skin?

    Which is more important – a budget surplus or helping people who live in extreme poverty?

  13. Miriam English

    One of the good things that I hope will come out of the popular realisation of just how stupid and unqualified our (Australia, USA, UK) politicians are, is that we might require entrance exams for pollies.

    I would hope that they test for:
    ➤ higher than average IQ,
    ➤ emotional stability and no obvious mental illness,
    ➤ very good general comprehension of all the sciences,
    ➤ a clear understanding of modern technology, and
    ➤ excellent knowledge of history.

    In order to drive a car, you must pass a test to prove you have the skills and knowledge required.

    If you want to pilot an airplane, you have to pass an extremely stringent exam requiring the applicant to demonstrate proficiency in many things.

    If you want to steer a country, any old idiot who can swindle enough votes will do.

    How does the current situation make sense??? If we want things to change then we have to make them change.

  14. Kaye Lee


    They don’t have to be the smartest person in the room….they just have to listen to those who are.

    I would say the most important thing we could ask of them is to understand the importance of checking the credibility of your sources. They have the best advice available to them. They should not be watching Sky After Dark to decide on policy.

  15. crypt0

    “Politicians love to tell us how hard they work. The hours are horrendous. The toll on the family is unbearable. Oh, the pressure.”
    In which case the bastards should get out and get on Newstart.
    Oh if only …

  16. Miriam English

    Kaye, they have to be smart enough to see the need to listen to experts instead of the conspiracy theorists… and to understand the advice when they have it. They need to be able to carefully weigh details in advice from multiple experts and to balance a whole range of things in mind at once. The experts advise, yes, but the politician has to be able to build sensible policy from all the input. That needs more than just some average person who knows nothing about science, technology, and history.

    Personally, I’d feel much safer if I knew the prime minister was the smartest person in the room. I think highly intelligent and knowledgeable people tend to be less corrupt, and have long felt that the movie trope of the evil genius is an impossibility. Bad people tend to be either stupid or very broken. (This is why our prison system should be concentrating on rehabilitation instead of punishment… but that’s a whole other topic.)

  17. Kaye Lee


    I have no argument with what you have said. I, too, would feel better if I thought politicians were smart, or at least interested in the truth.

    A democracy can only work when the people are given the facts and are interested enough to realise how politics affects their daily lives. I can’t decide if we are so well off we can afford the apathy, or struggling so much we don’t have the time or energy, or if politics is just so ludicrous, we see little point in being involved.

    Labor has had infinitely better policies at the last three elections yet they remain in opposition. Blaming Bill (or Kevin or Julia) is bullshit. Blame us for being too ignorant/lazy/tired/disenchanted/fearful….I dunno….but after years writing about politics, I find myself still flummoxed by how people vote.

  18. Miriam English

    Kaye, it is a puzzle. I find it difficult to fathom too. I sometimes wonder how genuine the vote counts are. Before the last election didn’t Morrison appoint a partisan friend of his to head the AEC? That is a very big no-no. The AEC is supposed to be independent. That and the totally surprising result smells very odd to me …and now I sound like a conspiracy theorist. 🙁 (But then, what’s that saying? Just because you’re paranoid it doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.)

    I know the votes are shonky in USA. There are so many examples. I read of a political commentator who noticed that the electronic voting machine he used had reversed his vote. Luckily he noticed when he reviewed it before pressing the final button. He had to go back through several screens to switch it back the way he intended. There are numerous examples of the Democrat candidate leading and some “official” shows up to “maintain” the voting machines, and when he leaves the lead now belongs to the Republicans. There is the result of the lengthy investigation into Russians interfering in the USA elections, proving they did so. There is also proof that the Conservatives and Russia tampered with the BREXIT vote in UK. Bolsonaro “won” the election in Brazil by using social media to saturate the population with awful lies about his opponents being pedophiles and fraudsters — that obviously wasn’t a fair vote. We know Palmer and Hanson illegally lied about Shorten and the Labor party and had undue influence over the election result (I’ve been told it’s illegal for politicians to lie in QLD). And Frydenberg(?) spread lying posts on facebook. I saw other awful lies about Shorten spread by right-wing pollies on facebook during that election too.

    Elections involve big money. There is great incentive to swindle them. Do Australians actually vote the way we’re told we do? I wish I knew. And how much opinion shaping is done by bad actors through facebook and other social media. How much does Murdoch manage to distort opinions?

    We really do need to find out the answers to these questions. How do we do that? I have no idea.

  19. Miriam English

    Something’s mucking up my ability to edit my posts on AIMN. Sorry about my errors. I looked up about the head of the AEC, and it seems that I was misinformed. The head, Tom Rogers, has been there since 2014.

    Are pollies in QLD really forbidden by law from lying? I can’t verify that. If anybody else knows whether that’s so or not, I’d love to learn the truth. It would be great if it is so and we could sue the living snot out of Clive Palmer and Pauline Hanson for their lying campaigns.

  20. johno

    Thats right Kaye, this is what Moron Morrison had this to say when SA was installing the big Tesla battery north of Adelaide.
    “By all means have the world’s biggest battery, have the world’s biggest banana, have the world’s biggest prawn like we have on the roadside around the country,” Mr Morrison said.
    Obviously his experts are telling him renewables are a waste of space.

  21. Matters Not


    Are pollies in QLD really forbidden by law from lying

    Indeed! And it’s a criminal offence – but it’s worth looking at the fine print.

    The Newman Government has delivered on another election commitment today by passing laws making it a criminal offence to lie to Parliament.

    Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Jarrod Bleijie said the Queensland Criminal Code would be amended to re-enact laws repealed under the previous administration.

    “This Bill inserts repealed section 57 to make it an offence to knowingly give false evidence to Parliament or its committees,” Mr Bleijie said.

    As for the definition of ‘lying’ (in terms of necessary and sufficient conditions), it will arrive tomorrow or maybe the day after.

  22. Matters Not


    democracy can only work when the people are given the facts

    Who could disagree with that, but facts, while necessary, are not sufficient. By way of example. Fact 1. Pre-school (Prep) students would achieve at higher levels with better student-teacher ratios. Fact 2. Students in Primary school would become more scientifically literate if they had access to science laboratories. Fact 3. Secondary students would be healthier if they had more indoor gymnasiums. Fact 4. Students at University would develop better conceptual frameworks if they had more face-to-face interaction with tutors.

    All facts that a Minister for Education might be confronted with. But how does that help with a resource allocation dilemma? Again – facts while necessary don’t solve real problems in the real world. Just ask any practicing historian re the role of facts. Facts are a dime of dozen – almost infinite in number. History is much, much more than facts.

    Policy making, political decisions, and the like go far beyond facts.

  23. wam

    Wowow I have great faith in the fact that faith gives pollies the expertise to be expurt at knowing what is good for Australia..
    It is a matter of faith that it mirrors what is good for them. With the added benefit that it will trickle down to us,
    How good is that?
    Democracy and communism always work till the rorts kick in.

  24. Kaye Lee


    I was more referring to the people who make the decision on polling day than those who then must vote on legislation or decide on regulation or policy direction.

    If the voting populace was given factual information then an election could be about different approaches to prioritising solutions. As things stand, all parties seem to prefer to pay people to work on our emotions than to work on policy and way too often, that emotional manipulation is motivated by personal gain.

  25. Matters Not

    Politicians who claim expertise can become very dangerous beasts when bestowed with executive powers i.e. become Ministers. By way of example – remember Dr Dennis Jensen, a Liberal MP who before entering politics worked as a CSIRO researcher who advocated strongly for the creation of a Minister for Science. Needless to say, he wanted that position for himself and superficially with his PhD in materials science and general academic background he was academically qualified.

    Yet he was known and remembered for questioning the anthropogenic causation of climate change. In short, he was a climate change denier. Imagine if he was driving the climate change political bus.

    Seems to me there’s great danger in having any Minister in any portfolio that’s supposedly aligned with his/her claimed or apparent expertise. Thankfully, most political leaders, whether they be Prime Ministers or Premiers realise that and don’t fall into that trap. It’s not the role of Ministers to be experts in portfolio matters/responsibilities because that type of expertise is already available (or should be) within the Department.

    No! Ministers should be experts in being effective politicians. Skilled in being power brokers should be a starting point. In that sense, (and only in that sense) it’s better to be a Peter Dutton than a Melissa Price. A Minister who can’t argue a (winning) case at (say) an Expenditure Review Committee (or equivalent) is not an effective/good Minister. In that task, there’s lots of variables and having expertise in portfolio matters doesn’t really rate.

    (Yes KL, winning elections is about emotions not rationality, Sad but true, So what will Labor do now because it seems to me that Morrison wants to have a much safer margin.

  26. Miriam English

    Matters Not, thanks for confirming that QLD politicians are not allowed to lie to parliament. It’s disappointing that they are nevertheless allowed/encouraged to lie to us. 🙁

    I don’t think Dennis Jensen’s denialism is a flaw in the idea that politicians should have a very wide command of knowledge in science, technology, and history. Jensen obviously didn’t have much knowledge outside his field. He was nearly as bad as his fellow politicians.

    Forgive me for saying, but the idea that politicians should only need to be skilled in power-broking strikes me as abhorrent. That’s like saying they should be skilled in lying. It seems to me that they should be capable of weighing up the priorities of things like your excellent list of 4 Facts. Unfortunately the largely ignorant politicians running this country have little or no clue on how to do that, mostly because they concentrate so much on power-broking. If they learned a lot more about the real world, instead of the inside of the distorted little political bubble they live in then they might be able to make actual sensible decisions.

    While it is impossible for anybody to be expert in a wide range of areas, it is certainly possible for anybody of more-than-average-intelligence to have a broad understanding of all the sciences, and technology, and history. Without these how is any politician able to tell the difference between advice offered by a genuine expert and advice from a charlatan? “Lord” Monckton sounds pretty convincing unless you have some understanding of the data he distorts and cherry-picks.

    Politicians need to listen to experts, but they also need to understand enough to be able to tell if someone actually is an expert. Many in our “government” are listening only to bullsh!t from religious advisors and the IPA and lobbyists instead of genuine experts.

    Perhaps I should add one more item to the list of things I think politicians ought to have very good understanding of: ethics (that is, ethics in philosophy).

  27. Miriam English

    Matters Not, while you are correct to say that winning elections is about emotion rather than rationality, this is a little like saying that we should resign ourselves to dying of entirely curable diseases.

    How do we cure this problem of the emotional subversion of elections?

    I think a first step would be entrance exams for politicians. Having extremely intelligent, emotionally well-balanced, highly knowledgeable politicians would, I think result in them understanding the potential damage to society, and being more responsible.

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