It hasn’t taken long for the co-operative negotiation strategy to be discarded in favour of the “we won so you have to do what we say” media blitz.
Morrison, Cormann, O’Dwyer and others faithfully repeat their lines for the day (one wonders if they realise how ridiculous it sounds when all of them use the exact same phrases), demanding that Shorten agree to a bill that hasn’t yet been drafted because they won so they have a mandate.
In fact, it wasn’t the Coalition who won the election – it was the 150 individual candidates who won. No doubt, for many of those successful candidates, party allegiance was a factor in them being voted in, but if they chose to leave the party or cross the floor, or the party chose to expel them, there would not be a by-election. It is the individual who has been elected to represent their constituency.
It is true that the majority of individuals elected to the House of Reps support a Coalition government but they only received 42% of the vote so the majority of Australians did not vote for them. 44.9% voted for Labor and the Greens.
The result in the Senate was far worse where only 35.2% of the electorate supported the Coalition. Labor and the Greens together got 38.5% of the vote.
In both houses, more Australians voted for the two progressive parties than for the Coalition.
It would be far more productive if the Coalition recognised this fact, dropped their belligerent insults, and started looking at which of the ALP and Greens policies they could agree with or at least find some common ground to negotiate.
The very obvious area that is begging for agreement is changes to superannuation, negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions. If both major parties can find agreement in these areas, not only would we be well on the way to structural budget repair, any voter backlash would be minimised.
Likewise, closing loopholes and cracking down on corporate tax avoidance should be a common goal.
Any attempts to rein in welfare spending, like the proposed reduction of the dole and family payments, result in miniscule savings in comparison. Why should the poorest shoulder the burden of tax avoidance by the wealthy?
But party politics, particularly as practised by the Coalition over the last two decades, has made any such co-operation on what should be obvious reform impossible. Wedge politics, spin doctors, marketing, polling – all have combined to make it a “whatever it takes” battle to beat the other guy where the “winner takes all”, completely ignoring that the other guy also won the election.
This attitude has also seen Labor capitulate on legislation that has disappointed their constituency, rubber stamping offshore processing, data retention, defence spending, deportations, and even the watering down of the previously bipartisan renewable energy target.
A situation has developed where good ideas will be ignored and bad ideas supported based purely on political manoeuvring. That is unbelievably selfish and irresponsible. Politicians have decided that their only job is to win elections and good governance is sacrificed in a venal, vicious battle where denigrating others is more important than listening to their ideas.
No organisation can be successful if it is run this way. It is all about self-promotion rather than team work, about advertising rather than achievement, about division and differentiation rather than co-operation.
Under our current system, it is hard to see this changing. It would either take a strong leader who was prepared to put the best interests of the country in front of those of party donors, or, better still in my opinion, a multi-party executive where good ideas from anywhere could be adopted.
While the politicians are the ones making the rules about political donations and advertising as well as their own pay and entitlements, there is no need for efficiency, transparency and accountability and the only measure of achievement will be success at the next election so all energy is focused on trashing potential opponents.
Not good enough.