Sunday, April 29, 2012

Trust Deficit

As Prime Minister Gillard speaks to the media about her conversations with Craig Thomson and Peter Slipper, the first questions are inevitably about the possibility of an early election.

I've seen tweets over the past days and weeks, suggesting that our current federal politicians - the whole lot of them - is the worst group of Australian politicians ever. I can't disagree with the sentiment. No wonder there's so much blah in the electorate. It's almost impossible to find anything to relate to, much less admire, in the representatives we elected.

I can see that this government has produced some outstanding results, but the message isn't cutting through. They've also delivered some solid gold, fur-lined ocean-going political failures, and they continue to dominate the news cycle.

An opportunistic minority government with unstable leadership, an obstructionist opposition, an ever-increasing pod of independents and a largely tolerant news media have encouraged the voters to disengage. We're in a perpetual motion negativity machine, and we can't break free. 

Conventional wisdom (and Rupert Murdoch) suggest its time to eject the warp core and call the election that isn't due for more than a year.

I'm a fan of at least listening to the unconventional wisdom...or perhaps in this instance, I'm just more cynical than most. My dissatisfaction with Canberra is not partisan. I'm disappointed by both sides, so going to an early election, which the Coalition would win, would be replacing one set of underachievers for another. 

I want some of that hopey-changey stuff that President Obama promised back in 2008. Why is there so little of that in Canberra in 2012? 

Instead, we've had months of Craig Thomson' credit cards, years of JuLiar, and a week or so of Peter Slipper's bizarre behaviour with CabCharge dockets and young male staffers although it feels like longer.Speculation about the ALP Leadership just won't stop, and Kevin Rudd's name keeps bobbing to the top like ice in XXXX; it's better than warm beer, but only as a last resort.

Although the ALP has been in power less than five years, there's a richly curdled legacy of School Halls, Pink Batts, the Carbon Tax "lie", the Malaysian Deal, the ADFA Skype scandal, the unReformed Pokies laws and the legendary Faceless Men.

And yet, if we did go to an early election, what would we get? A Prime Minister (Abbott) whose been a brilliant attack dog for the Liberal party, but is as about as unpopular as the Prime Minister. The Coalition's Shadow Finance team is a running joke under the heading Team Acalculia*,  and there's Malcolm Turnbull, who probably doesn't believe his own party's platform on the NBN. There's Theresa Gambaro and her view than new Australians lack courtesy and deodorant, and Scott Morrison, who had issues with us footing the bill to fly children across the country to attend the funeral of their parents. The Coalition's greatest strength is Julie Bishop's death-stare.

The unknown quantity is the core of Independents, mainly former Coalition members: marathon speech maker Oakeshott, farmer Windsor, anti-Pokies Campaigner and former spook Andrew Wilkie, stood-down Speaker Slipper, Bob Katter and his Magic Hat (and his new Katter's Australia Party that lives there) and now Craig Thomson. Unpredictable is an understatement.

What disturbs me most about the current situation is it's fragility. The Government has been functional, but every new ripple is a threat, and every deal to reduce the risk has consequences. 

Prime Minister Gillard is correct to say that Australia is a strong country, with a strong economy, but our government is constantly at risk and under pressure, and that weakens us all.

Twenty four hours ago, I would have protested the call for an early election. The Government is part-way through a legislative agenda. Despite this, today's bombshell has shaken my position and my trust. 

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