MEANWHILE: FAR NORTH OF THE RIVER | POLITICAL DESPAIR
By Roger Plastow
Political parties – all of them – suffer from verbal diarrhoea and honesty constipation.
I bet you can see where this is heading. Yes, I am reluctantly declaring that I have never, ever, been as disillusioned with Australia’s political system and process as I am now. And this is coming from someone who has worked in, with, or in the vicinity of politics all of his working life.
I have never repeated or agreed with sayings like “It doesn’t matter who you vote for – you get a politician”, or “Don’t vote, you will only encourage them”.
However, over recent years my respect for, and faith in, politics, politicians (including independents), and political parties, has waned to the point where I avoid listening to them.
At a Federal level we have had garbage government for a decade and in most States and Territories it’s been like that for up to two decades.
As I am writing this (with tears running down my cheeks), the what’s-in-it-for-me budget is yet to be announced. We have a government predicting doom and gloom (with some good reason) and an opposition screaming “broken promises” and “it’s all a conspiracy” (with some good reason).
And to make sure good government is consigned to the history books, we have minor parties promising the land of milk and honey and a voting populous believing whoever and whatever sounds best for them.
If you think I am going through a cynical period, I can assure you it’s a lot worse than that. I simply don’t trust the vast majority of politicians anymore and I don’t trust any political party. I don’t believe them. If they open their mouths, I hear lies.
I know it’s wrong, and defeatist, to even think that way. I know we are lucky to live in a country like Australia. But I also believe we are doing our best, either knowingly or unconsciously, to change the lucky country into the lifeless country.
I believe politics in Australia has degenerated to a sick phase and is well on its way to the inevitable disease-ridden phase. Votes political parties can’t buy with false promises, money, or pathetic platitudes, they attempt to buy with spin and advertising paid for by us.
I do not believe we will ever get good government while the vast majority of the media concentrates on trivia simply because it’s easier to work that way, and the average voter only wants to discuss trivia.
Remember how Paul Keating was able to win the unwinnable election by reducing the debate on the introduction of the GST to the effect it would have on the price of a hot pie?
When was the last time we heard politicians honestly discussing topics for the good of Australia instead of what was good for their election chances or what suited their political philosophies?
But should we be blaming the politicians? We are the ones who elect them. We are the ones who shape their opinions. We now have government by opinion polls and we have opinion polls shaped by political spin.
It really is a sick cycle of gamesmanship. There is no determination to provide good government. Good government has been reduced to an optional extra – an unplanned but fortunate by-product if it occurs in a flawed process.
Let’s be fair dinkum, honest politicians have no chance of surviving in our current political environment because if they tell the truth they will be ridiculed by their opponents, cut down by the media, and voted out. That is, of course, if their party even lets them go to the election.
If they can’t say “I will guarantee you will be financially better off if I am elected”, or make any other unrealistic promise backed up with nothing else than a meaningful look, well-practiced clutch of the hand, or “I know where you’re coming from” reassurance, they are dead in the water.
And that’s our fault.
Can anyone without a political leaning, self-interest, or desire to simply be a lying, useless appendage, tell me what Australia’s debt actually is and is it too great; if our interest repayments are too high; or if we need to totally remodel our tax system, social welfare system, and economic strategy?
Ask the political parties and if one says black the other has to say white. Minor parties couldn’t care less because they can take the high moral ground on every subject, can say whatever the voters want to hear, and have to take responsibility for nothing – no costings, no responsibility, no problems at all.
And have we ever seen such high levels of proven or investigation-warranted corruption in so many governments? It is positively obscene. Who can we trust?
There’s a realistic chance that we will be governed, at State and Federal levels in future, by one-term governments who get there because they can put the best spin on the worst lies.
Now that’s a scary thought.
FOOTNOTE: I can’t remember the last time I wrote something so serious. Maybe the hot Queensland summer sun has over-energised my cynical brain cells.
I hope this canopy of political despair is lifted soon. I hate being despondent about anything, but politics at the moment is killing my well-developed faith in, and love for, the country we call home – Australia.
Roger Plastow is a freelance journalist – a poor but passionate, bald but beautiful ‘young’ man who sometimes handles the truth somewhat carelessly and has plans to become a centenarian so he can get a letter from the Queen. He is a true-blue Queenslander with strong Melbourne connections. (He knows a few people who live there).