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Monday, August 16, 2010

Governing differently or better hardly visible in Decision 2010

In an election campaign where the debate has mainly been about small item features of the country's future, there have been few references to a big picture of what the future could be. Leaders of the main parties haven't mentioned much about governing differently or better, apart from Prime Minister Gillard promising to reinstate proper cabinet processes, and Opposition leader Abbott momentarily channelling Kevin Rudd in saying (at the Rooty Hill Forum) he would not be overridden by colleagues in the cabinet room. That should be something! All those "grand visions" of governance for the future at the 2020 Summit are not worth a cracker apparently. The former Prime Minister's brother Greg Rudd offered a few sage words on the subject in The Australian on Friday:
We have lost our values. We have gone for the lowest common denominator in our national debate. It's all about what we don't like in people, what focus groups say, the numbers, personalities rather than good policy. Both sides of politics seem to believe that destroying or humiliating the other side somehow makes Australia a better place... The party system no longer achieves the best outcomes for Australia. Too many dumb, short-sighted and wasteful decisions are made all in the name of survival: survival to retain government, survival to gain government, survival to retain or gain individual political careers... Whoever wins on August 21, the system has to improve. Governing well is a very hard business. Many aspire to leadership but not many are sure what to do or how to do it once they get there. In the brief period remaining before election day, it would be nice if both leaders could tell us how they might improve the political system in Australia.

In June, before Kevin Rudd was rolled, and before  the campaign, Roy Morgan Research found Federal MPs ranked 23rd out of 30 professions surveyed for honesty and ethics. Politicians, like death and taxes will always be with us, and next Saturday will reflect our collective wisdom choosing from those on offer. None seem interested in a different or better approach to the practice of democracy, or governance generally. Would we believe them anyway?

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