What to do about Australian politics.
Not an easy topic this one. What seems to be clear (at least to me and the people I talk to) is that no-one is very happy with the state of the ‘game’ nor any of the parties involved in it.
Aside from the management through the Pandemic, which the Feds should rightly be applauded over, all parties and politicians appear to be pretty hopeless and out of touch with what the population wants. The window dressing, secret clandestine meetings and deals, it’s all a bit much frankly.
Energy / Climate policy is clearly a big one, but there are a multitude of others.
- Transport (both generally and in relation to climate change)
- Bushfire management
The problem with the Australian two party preferred system is right there in its name. Moreover it promotes and results in governments and political parties who pander to their investors (both financially and intellectually) rather than elected representatives representing their distinct communities.
I don’t really care if we’re talking about the Liberals, the Nationals, the Greens or Labour. They all vote ‘as a piece’ and think based on what they are told to think, and that’s a huge problem for this so-called democracy.
The big problem is that the system is broken, and the system is enshrined in the constitution, and right now that’s a bit tricky to change. So if we’re going to have any impact we need to do it inside the constructs of the system we have.
Now we have to ask ourselves, as individuals, what can we hope to achieve here, surely all the strings are pulled by others. To an extent, that is indeed true, however there are some important exceptions.
As individuals we have two incredibly powerful weapons available to us.
- We spend our money on and with whom we choose. That’s a BIG one
- We vote. That’s not been a BIG one but I’m going to argue it can be.
I’ll deal with the spending option first.
I don’t like supermarkets. I think they reduce consumer choice, I think they underpay (dramatically) our farmers and producers and I think they think far too much about their shareholders over and above everyone else.
- I don’t shop in Supermarkets, full stop. The pandemic has show us we have a lot of options, many direct with the producers, to avoid giving more money to supermarkets. I get that you might not agree with me and that is 100% fine and great. All I’m saying is I’m making 100% sure my money goes where I want it to go by my direct spending. I’m not falling for the ‘cheap convenience’ option which allows the Super Giants to dictate what I eat and who grows it and how much they get paid. I’m doing that thanks very much.
- I’m not in favour of continuing our use of Fossil Fuels. I drive an Electric car and either charge it from Solar or Green Certified energy suppliers. You may disagree, and that’s fine. Just make sure you’re spending on what you believe in. Equally I buy all my other energy from green certified small Australian owned retailers. It happens to cost a lot less that way, but that’s not my motivation in this case.
- I think the Arts need to be supported, musicians paid for their work. I buy CD’s or downloads from Bandcamp or directly from the artists. I don’t use streaming services because their payment models are wrong. It costs me money to support the people I like. I’m quite ok with that.
- I think religious organisations should be taxed. I don’t give them money. I don’t think they should be too influential in education, and they are. I do give money to non-religious charities doing appropriate (in my opinion mind you) work. Medicins sans Frontier is my chosen charity.
- I’m not a fan of Medicare and private health insurance as a pair. It makes no sense to have both. Overall a public health only system makes sense. I don’t have a medicare card, nor do i have private health insurance. I put money away for health eventualities and I pay doctors when I need them. I still get slugged medicare levy and excess medicare level by the tax system.
- I think Free to air TV has had it’s day, and other than the ABC (which I watch on Iview anyway) the free to air thing doesn’t interest me. I pay Foxtel for some sport and Netflix and Prime for other stuff. I’m ok with that and I control what I watch and when, and largely without endless advertisements for gambling companies and the like.
I could go on, but you get the picture. WHERE you spend your money is exceptionally powerful and it really should be driven by your values. That WILL make a difference.
And now the voting issue
We have long had a system in Australia where one of two party groups will form government. It’s how our constitution and politics works.
I know I’m not the only one who thinks that not only is neither party worthy of my vote, NO organised party is, and I have a very clear reason for saying so. The person I vote for in my electorate who is a member of an organised party is NOT representing me in Canberra, they are representing their party. That is not voter representation.
ALL political parties are heavily influenced (some might say controlled) by external interests. It might be certain business groups, certain Union groups, or certain environmental groups. I can pretty much guarantee that the interests of those groups, translated in party politics, are going to be a looooong way from my views on pretty much everything. I want to vote for a person who thinks largely like I do and will fight (hard) on those views in Canberra and not fail to represent.
Now for all his faults I like Malcolm as I think he’s well balanced, thoughtful, smart and can properly represent me 90% of the time. I don’t like the Liberal party. I also like Tanya, she’s awesome, well balanced, smart and I think can properly represent me 90% of the time. I definitely don’t like the Labour party. I could go on, but you get the point.
I do want my vote to count, but count in every decision that parliament make. The only way I can do that is to either go there myself or entrust someone with “my vote”. I want to know who that is and know that they are following my basic views on important national policy decisions.
From my perspective, the only way I can see this working is for us, collectively, with our voting power, is for electorates to vote in true independents in each seat. An independent majority if you will. My understanding (though I’m no constitutional lawyer) is that we would have a hung parliament and all bills would be difficult to pass, and take some time. Personally I think that’s good. This work should be difficult, considered and well debated, not rubber stamped by a majority “party” who is largely externally controlled.
Would deals be done in backrooms ? . Most likely. Would I sometimes be disappointed in the outcome ? Most likely. Would my elected representative know that it’s ENTIRELY up to their own behaviour and representation (not the reliance on a party structure) as to whether they gain election in the future. Absolutely !. But even more important than all of this, such an outcome would send a very clear and precise message to the organised political parties. You are no longer wanted, nor relevant.
There will come a day, but we’re not quite there as yet, when we will vote on bills electronically on our devices, when they are important. Real time referenda if you like. We will then truly be engaged in the laws and behaviour of our country. It will be different, initially burdensome, but a good outcome.
So in simple terms, there you have it. You Spend, and you vote. It’s up to you what happens next.