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Friday, August 20, 2010

Trust hard to win, easy to lose, the message for whoever wins the election

One of the Prime Minister's problems, given the circumstances in which she came to office, ALP woes at the state level in Queensland and NSW, and the fact that all politicians are starting from a low base, is said to be lack of public trust. According to Peter Hartcher in the Sydney Morning Herald, the PM has three strings to her bow in trying to deal with this issue, one of which involves listing her achievements as Education Minister including more transparency for school performance through the My School website.

It seems surprising that the Government hasn't been able or inclined to run up a broader list of achievements concerning honesty, integrity, openness, and accountability in government, with Senator Faulkner by the PM's side throughout. Maybe the judgment is that the record is not much to boast about, although in a couple of areas including modest proposals for change regarding  political donations, the Opposition is to blame for blocking legislation. That first term "high priority" Freedom of Information reform, is still months away from commencement, and perhaps publicly mentioning the Declaration of Open Government-no one has- issued by Finance Minister Tanner the day before the election was called might be be greeted with derision rather than acclaim.

Politicians should know trust takes a long time to build but is quickly and easily lost. Deeds speak louder than words. The Opposition also has plenty of baggage in this area. In the broader context of law reform and rights still relevant to this issue, Richard Ackland suggests " the Greens seem more open to interesting possibilities than big, old, tired drones from the political machines."

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