Recent research from Swinburne University of Technology suggests that most Australians don’t believe that political parties show leadership for the public good and just a handful think that they do.
It is tempting to blame the endless nonsense around Australian politics on the press coverage and given that the surveys were conducted just before a federal election, we might expect partisanship at a zenith.
My party has a bigger pork barrel than yours and all that.
More worrying though is that over a quarter (26.3%) of respondents in the survey said they believed that the federal government, as an institution, shows no “leadership for the public good”. One in four has lost faith in government as a leadership option irrespective of the politics.
This is a much bigger problem than dissatisfaction with political parties. It suggests that a fair few people have little choice in the polling booth, they don’t even think the system works, let alone the parties within it.
The Swinburne and other researchers claim that the reasons for this disillusion are found in the importance of transparency, accountability and ethics to perceptions of trust and confidence in leadership. The idea that people want their leaders to be good, trustworthy people who can be believed. These qualities are lacking in Australian politicians right now and arguably in the political leaders of many other western democracies too.
Wooah, hold on a minute. Just back up, back up will you.
Let’s get this straight. The reason people are disillusioned is that people value transparency, accountability and ethics and they are not getting it from their political leaders.
Alright then, so how does the public, a few months after the survey, vote into government leaders with the worst local record on all three counts?
A gotcha if ever there was one.
Well, we can only assume that whilst people value transparency, accountability and ethics or their own version of it when it comes to their mates, their family, maybe their employer, it doesn’t stretch to who gets their vote. Other factors must influence their choice there.
What we know is that the election campaign was replete with lies, claims and innuendo and was fearfully lacking in explanation of policy. Indeed the party that tried some policy options lost an election that polls, pundits, and even the punters said they couldn’t. All this on the back of a decade of narcissistic nonsense in the parliament that gave the country enough prime ministers to fill a tour bus and enough fiddling around to inspire a quote involving Emperor Nero.
No, here is what is more likely. People may well want their leaders to hold key values but enough of them ignored the lack of these values when they cast their vote, probably because, for the individual, the link between their vote and who they will get in the parliament is tenuous at best.
After the votes were cast and tallied the politicians in the coalition were elected into power. These are the people who completely ignore every single erudite value when they enter the Canberra bubble. They ignore the process of compiling policy options on a whole host of core issues and presenting them for debate in the house and with the public in favour of no policy at all.
Instead, they bring in a lump of coal into the parliamentary chamber and wave it around like it were gold… because they believe that it is.
I am sorry white-coated ones, people might hold laudable values but they went with the biggest liars when it mattered.