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For the sake of our children and our planet, we must demand better

In 2012, former judge and anti-corruption campaigner, Tony Fitzgerald, wrote an article titled The body politic is rotten in which he espoused the view 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.”

He called for greater scrutiny of candidates and more rigorous preselection processes to find the best person rather than “professional politicians with little or no general life experience and unscrupulous opportunists, unburdened by ethics, who obsessively pursue power, money or both.”

“Populism, paranoia and unrealistic expectations are encouraged and the naive and gullible are made envious, resentful and disdainful of fellow Australians.  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 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.”

I would add that the quality of political debate sunk to gutter level with the Bradburyesque victory of Tony Abbott in the Liberal leadership ballot in 2009 and his subsequent unholy alliance with Peta Credlin who wrote “the brutal reality is that negative works.”

A few days ago, Tony Fitzgerald again spoke of the sorry state of politics in this country where “many politicians regard ethics and empathy as barriers to success.”  Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison and Mathias ‘deal-with-the-devil’ Cormann immediately spring to mind.

“Politics today is a clash of interests, not ideas. The established parties, which receive large sums of public money to finance their campaigns, are controlled by professional, “whatever it takes” politicians driven by self-interest and ideology and addicted to vested interest funding.

To them, political ethics is merely an amusing oxymoron. Power provides a rich opportunity for personal and political advantage: cronyism, the sale of access and influence and the misuse of public money are now scandalous.

The “winning is all that matters” conduct from politicians affects community attitudes. Australian society is gradually becoming less egalitarian and more cynical and self-centered as economic policies redistribute wealth upwards, widening the gap between “haves” and “have-nots” and producing a largely powerless underclass.

In the circumstances, community unrest and political instability are inevitable, as is the eruption of disruptive ultra-nationalist groups which promote sham nostalgia, foster prejudice, rebrand ignorance as common sense, encourage resentment toward an educated, progressive “elite” and mislead the gullible with crazy theories and empty promises. They thrive on the anger felt toward the political establishment by ordinary people who see themselves as outsiders.”

Cue Pauline Hanson’s One Nation.

We have a right to expect that politicians behave like normal, honourable people: treat everyone equally, tell the truth, explain decisions, disclose any direct or indirect benefits for themselves or their allies.  We have a right to expect decent candidates chosen on merit rather than talentless party apparatchiks gifted positions in reward for blind allegiance to factional powerbrokers and unquestioning support for the party line.

Our elected representatives should be role models for ethics, integrity and altruistic public service.  Parliament should be a forum in which they identify and prioritise the challenges facing our nation now and into the future and, using all the expert advice available, honestly discuss the pros and cons of viable alternatives.

Without oversight, and a big stick, it seems this will remain an unattainable dream.

Instead, we are subjected to a “venal, vicious and vulgar” power struggle where so much time is wasted on denigrating each other as important decisions are ignored.

Fitzgerald advocates for the establishment of an effective national anti-corruption organisation, an independent parliamentary integrity commissioner with investigative powers and a multi-party parliamentary committee to penalise breaches.

For our part, it is up to all of us to inform ourselves about candidates and to know who we are voting for.  If the party can’t field a decent candidate then don’t blindly give them your vote.  Make them preselect worthy people rather than puppets.

For the sake of our children and our planet, we must demand better.

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24 comments

  1. Keitha Granville

    We need to encourage greater interest in politics and parliament in our secondary schools. When our 18 year olds enrol to vote for the first time, many have no idea about who they are voting for and will often choose the party their parents have always followed. There are many who complain that children should not be involved in political unrest, demonstrations and protests but it’s their world, shouldn’t they be involved ?
    Our current parliament is so busy tearing itself to pieces the MPs seem to have forgotten what their role is. It certainly has nothing to do with public service any longer.

  2. Jaquix

    Very wise words indeed from Tony Fitzgerald. Unfortunately, all like water off a ducks back especially for the Liberal party we are enduring at present. The choosing of candidates especially interesting. I believe the Electoral Commission should have a stronger role to play in mandating the provision of information from candidates put forward by parties. Rod Culleton would never have got past that one. Bob Day’s ilegibility was known by the Liberals and covered up by them, yet there is no penalty of any kind. They carry on with much dodginess, with impunity it seems.

  3. jim

    Good post, Unfortunately I hear too often people say “they’re just the same” (Lib Lab) which in turn snuffs out any debate right there. but democracy is not a set and forget system but requires the vigilance of the people because we are all in this together……..Democracy is a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state.

  4. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    I elect Tony Fitzgerald as the first Commissioner for the new Federal ICAC instituted by the new progressive and reformist Democratic Socialist government soon.

    The Fed ICAC must be given strong powers of investigation and enforceability of appropriate and proportionate punishments for the range of wrongs we know, and don’t know yet, committed by politicians and other public office bearers.

    This would be one of the first steps of the new Democratic Socialist government to show it’s fair dinkum in its intentions to clean out the scum wherever they exist.

    Then the Australian People can believe that our society has a chance to sustain itself positively and protect our planet.

  5. RonaldR

    Why do you keep promoting that Hanson Witch ? The only way we will get change for the Good of all is if people take the time to learn about the Citizens Electoral Council and its policies and not the lies internet searches are programmed to find the only way is at their very open web site that hides nothing and you can call them and they will answer questions http://www.cecaust.com.au

  6. Kaye Lee

    “Why do you keep promoting that Hanson Witch ?”

    I don’t. And I prefer not to use terms like witch. I hated it when they did it to Gillard.

    I think it is important for people to know the truth about Hanson, particularly with the upcoming Queensland election. I don’t think exposure is doing Pauline any good. The more she says, the worse it gets. People need to see what’s behind the brand she’s selling.

  7. burniebobthe_b_

    Jennifer Meyer-Smith.
    I hope you don’t mind me asking a couple of questions.Are you a candidate for some Party and are you in Australia? “the new progressive and reformist Democratic Socialist government soon” what do you mean? “I elect Tony Fitzgerald” how did you elect him,don’t we get a say?

  8. Jennifer Meyer-Smith

    Mr Pseudonym,

    go right ahead and have your say.

  9. burniebobthe_b_

    Ms Meyer Smith I’m reasonably new here and they were genuine questions,What is wrong with me asking as I had never heard of any of that which you speak about

  10. Andreas Wagner

    Sally McManus into Parliament!

  11. diannaart

    Well stated Tony Fitzgerald and kudos to Kaye Lee.

    Facts and truth are now presented as bias and propaganda – the sad success of the post truth age – we must be more than vigilant we must take action. Now.

    https://www.marchforscience.com/

  12. Mick Byron

    diannaart
    Do you know if any Australian marchforscience events are planned?
    If so I hope they are not organised by those responsible for the unmitigated disaster March in March

  13. RonaldR

    I joined what was the only party that was working for the people 20 years ago the party had only been running for a little more than 8 years. But before joining I researched it, the policies and an affiliated organisation full time for the best part of a year as I was not very mobile due to the effects of an accident and one thing I had was time. What cemented me to them was a News Paper they released in 2002. The party was started by farmers that were being destroyed by Government Policy in the 80’s and no one would listen in Canberra as the major parties both supported these policies and the small parties were aligned with ever Liberal or Labor or did not have a clue. So they started their own Party – But being new and becoming very popular they had some not so good groups attach themselves. They realized they had to be more than popularity politics they had to be different and a people’s party working for the Good of all. They moved the Party from Qld to Melbourne reorganising. The Governor General had a good look at the party and warned Labor and Liberals that this party was a threat to both of them. They were attacked the Media but they turned they were able to turn the attacks to their advantage and then a Media Blackout was imposed. Internet searches will often take you to the misinformation that has been placed there to damage the CEC. The Liberals & Labor have tried every dirty trick in the book trying to close the CEC.
    But the CEC has an honest web site and they don’t hide anything, there is more information I that site than what the other parties make available.
    There are links to all their Media releases, Their Newspaper and their videos plus a lot more they also have 2 weekly journals available by subscription http://www.cecaust.com.au

  14. 131

    The CEC worship at the altar of the whackjob LaRouche, they’re just as mad as ON.

  15. Mick Byron

    The CEC is based in the inner-northern Melbourne suburb of Coburg and was formed in 1996. It was briefly de-registered by the Australian Electoral Commission in 2006. It is based on the principles of US economist Lyndon LaRouche, who was jailed for tax fraud in 1988. The CEC campaigns on climate change scepticism and conspiracy theories about the British royal family. In the 2010 federal election it secured 0.06% of the vote.

    https://www.crikey.com.au/2013/04/26/did-the-citizens-electoral-council-buy-your-email-address/

  16. diannaart

    Didn’t I leave a link along with my comment?

    Will take a look now…

    … I did leave a link. So did Kaye Lee. 😛

    Now what were your questions about Mick? Oh, the MarchinMarch, total disaster, yes it was, but I think you already knew that…

    Will the March for Science protest fail? Only if no one goes, Mick.

  17. Mick Byron

    diannaart
    Sorry, I thought your link was to Washington Marches and didn’t notice the small link
    I think you need to re-read my post it was a question not a criticism
    Kaye Lee thank you for Australian links.I will attend the Sydney one but not if organised by the Marches Australia/March in March group,That was the reason for my question regarding March in March

  18. Arthur Tarry

    Fitzgerald and Lee have pinpointed major deficiencies in our political processes, as always. However, isn’t it citizens apathy and, indeed, political ignorance, that underpins much of the malaise in the way we are governed. If people don’t care to properly inform themselves or properly understand what is going on then we allow these political miscreants to flourish. And they are.

  19. helvityni

    You are too right Arthur. So sad; some people think Abbott is still our PM…

  20. Miriam English

    RonaldR, I watched “Introduction to LaRouche’s Economics”, the first of the CEC videos on the YouTube playlist. I was amazed that almost every single thing the presenter said was wrong. It was quite disturbing. Two of the things that most bothered me were when he said that higher population and higher energy density were both good things. In actual fact, both these are major drivers of many of our greatest problems today.

    We are long past the point where we need less people on Earth. Thankfully, population growth is slowing and will halt in the near future. It is dangerous to have people promoting higher population.

    And our rapacious desire for ever more energy is devastating the planet. Mercifully, we are finally waking up to efficiency and using less energy more effectively. This is making possible the renewable energy revolution. The LaRouche people want more profligate use of energy and are in favor of nuclear power — the most expensive and dangerous way to get energy.

    There were so many smaller errors in the video… well, I’ll just mention one more that really got up my nose. The presenter briefly derided the idea of increasing the basic wage to where people can actually live on it. He did this by taking it to an absurd degree and then ridiculing it, but without actually offering any genuine argument and without considering any of the sensible reasons for a decent minimum wage. He didn’t consider the examples where increasing it has benefitted entire communities, nor did he acknowledge the damage to society from entrenched poverty in the working poor.

    If this is what the CEC is in favor of, then I would fervently hope they have no place in the future.

  21. Miriam English

    Omigod… I couldn’t leave well enough alone. I fossicked around further on the CEC site and found that they also deny ecological science. It’s a transparent attempt to get farmers on side by stoking fears that ecologists are against them. Hooey.

  22. Kaye Lee

    You haven’t got to “the Queen is trying to kill us” bit then I take it Miriam?

    From the CECA’s The New Citizen: “Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II have openly, repeatedly proclaimed their intent to kill some six billion human beings, in order to consolidate permanent, worldwide British imperial rule.”

  23. Michael

    Kaye, thank you very much for a great article highlighting the words of a true role model.

    We cannot avoid by the minute “what is happening” and we do not get to “how things work”.

    Hopefully now we can concentrate on the “weaknesses” and “corruption of process/intent” as revealed for “the sake of our children and planet”.

    Mind-mapping the article highlighted the creeping toxicity and reaffirmed the areas requiring attention.

    May this article be one of many – thanks again.

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