Friday, June 01, 2012

Relief from the clowns

Federal parliament is on holiday, so for a couple of weeks we'll be spared cringing with embarassment at the infantile behaviour of the self-serving hypocrites who so badly 'represent' us.

Politics is scraping the bottom of the barrel and our much-lauded democratic system isn't working any more.

The system itself, or the way we arrange it, is under question but a bigger problem is the lack of quality of the people who go into parliament.

Even the Deputy Speaker, now in charge of the House of Reps because Speaker Peter Slipper has had to stand aside, has acknowledged it:

“It’s terrible that people think we behave like juvenile delinquents and sometimes (in) question time, that’s what it looks like,” says Anna Burke.

So is the juvenile delinquent tag sometimes a fair one?

“I think so,” she says.

"It’s very intense. It’s very loud. People don’t get when they’re listening on TV or the radio, the noise, the cacophony of sound from people speaking; people yelling.”

Her toughest day in the chair?

“The Opposition brought out a full, life size cardboard cut-out of Kevin Rudd, the then Prime Minister and nobody was going to behave so we literally had to shut Parliament down.”

That was Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey, who alternates between naughty schoolboy and bully, demonstrating what terrible choices we're given because he's very probably our next Treasurer.

Last week it descended further into farce, with the unedifying spectacle of would-be Prime Minister Abbot and the manager of opposition business Christopher Pyne running for the exits and banging on the doors to get out when Craig Thomson moved to vote with them.

Behaving like ten year olds in a school playground, yet they'll probably lead our next government.

Lack of quality

It's the biggest flaw in our democratic system, the lack of quality candidates.

The big plus of democracy is that we can get rid of an existing government at the next election. The big minus is that we can't replace them with anything better.

We have no say in the quality or ability, or honesty, of the candidates. We get whoever's foisted on us by a handful of party apparatchiks. And we have compulsory voting...imagine the voter turnout if we hadn't become used to that.

Flawed system

Then we have a problem with the system itself, where one or two parliamentarians elected by a handful of people in a small electorate can dictate government policy.

With the major parties tied at the last election either party could only govern by doing deals with the Independents.  "You want my vote?  Here's my list of what it will take to buy it."

Independent Tony Windsor was voted for by 56,415 people. Rob Oakeshott was by 40,061 voters, Bob Katter by 38,170 and Andrew Wilkie by 13,788. Demonstrating the absurdity of our system, Wilkie came only third in the election but then 'won' on preferences which gave him 33,217 and the seat.

In total, out of over 14 million voters less than 150,000 voted for the four representatives who decide whether  government policies will be killed or approved.
Even worse, people not voted for are awarded a Senate seat on the basis of preferences, having done dubious preference deals with other parties. They then dictate policy.

We have that in NSW with the Shooters (and Fishers) Party having two seats in the upper house which is enough to kill or approve government policies.  They said they would vote against the government's policy to sell our electricity generators unless shooters are allowed to go hunting in national parks.

To get the electricity sale through, the government, having said prior to the election that there would be no deals whatsoever with minor parties, have caved in to the Shooters' demands.

From just over 4 million of us who voted in the 2010 state election only 150,741 voted for the Shooters.

The problem is that the only people who can make the changes we need are politicians. And there's no way they're going to think of anything or anyone other than themselves.

Deputy Speaker's admission.

The Abbot Pyne dash

Shonky Shooters deal

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