I’m going to call it. The QLD election marks the death of democracy as we know it.
And I for one will be dancing all over its grave.
The Queensland election was a shock. No one saw it coming. No one even thought such a massive swing was possible. But swing it did.
And an unpopular premier is left swinging from a tree.
And arrogant politicians and pundits on all sides, guys like George Brandis, are left bemoaning the ‘unprecedented volatility’ that’s taken hold of the electorate.
Like there’s been some inexplicable surge of volatility, like some freak of nature, leaving hung parliaments and one-term governments in its wake.
And as if somehow the electorate is the problem here.
The way I see it, the electorate is waking up and is not willing to be treated like idiots anymore. It’s great.
But this, if you’re part of the governing class, is a problem. A massive problem.
And what Brandis and co. are really bemoaning is the loss of the first term window – a window where you got to push through whatever partisan and ideological rubbish you wanted to (and that nobody ever voted for), safe in the knowledge that a forgiving electorate would give you another chance.
Sticks in the first half, carrots in the second.
But now that that window’s gone, how are they going to be able to do the stuff that no one wants and no one voted for?
Like asset sales in Queensland. Or bumping up the threshold for anonymous political donations from $1,000 to $12,000. (What possible argument is there for decreasing transparency around political donations?)
And what these governments seem to keep (conveniently?) forgetting is that a vote ‘against’ is not a vote ‘for’.
Campbell Newman got in because Queensland was tired of Labor’s shenanigans. In the same way that this week’s result is about punishing the LNP, not about endorsing a bunch of Labor nobodies that no one has ever heard of.
But Newman took it as a license to do what he (and his financial backers) wanted.
And that’s the trust that was broken. We voted for you to get rid of the other guys, not so you could just come in and do what you want.
Same story with Abbott. We were willing to overlook the fact that he was a monarchist nut-job, so long as he could wipe the smirk off Rudd’s face for us.
So when he turns around and gives the Queen’s cuddle buddy the highest possible honour in Australia, we feel ripped off – betrayed. Hey! You didn’t have a mandate for that!
And this is the crux. We feel like our politicians aren’t representing us. They’re pushing their own ideological, partisan, corporate or union factional agendas – right over the top of their constituent’s interests.
We feel unrepresented, and this make us justifiably angry.
And then we take that anger to the ballot box and do the only thing we can. Vote against the people who’ve betrayed us.
Leaving a growing string of one-term governments in our wake.
But then we only end up voting in another bunch of useless clowns whose sole promise has been to be ‘not like the other mob’. But we soon find that they’re exactly like the other mob, and so back to the ballot box we go.
But Australia is getting tired of this.
And so this is not about Abbott or Newman or Rudd or whatever that new blokes name is.
This is about the great lie at the heart of our democracy.
Our representative democracy isn’t very representative, and the Australian people are slowly waking up to it.
This first point is about local members. There’s about 100,000 voters in each Federal electorate.
How can one person possibly represent the views and interests of 100,000 people? It’s absurd. My local member doesn’t even know my name.
But the idea is that he or she goes in and represents my interests in federal parliament – in the house of representatives.
But even if they could some how take stock of the diverse range of views held in a single electorate, what freedom would they have to act on it?
They’re totally bound by party lines.
Now I don’t have any influence over party policy, so if my “representative” is just a puppet for party policy, how much representation do I have then?
Less than none.
What’s more, I only get to let my unrepresentative know what I think every two or three years. And at that time, I’m voting on a whole suite of policies.
So what happens if I passionately agree with the government’s direction of tourism marketing, but passionately disagree with their allocation of sports funding?
What do I do then? I’ve only got one vote.
(Sod it. I’ll just vote for the one with the nicest hair.)
The idea that we live in a democracy is a joke.
We are all completely disenfranchised.
And that’s because the system was designed that way – a veneer of freedom slapped over rolling dictatorships. And for over 100 years it’s worked well (for them!)
But it seems to me that we’re waking up to it. We realise that our governments don’t represent us, and our anger is creating increasingly volatile electorates.
And I wonder if this is all because we are getting a taste of what true democracy is like. If I can vote on the fortunes of some Justin Beiber wannabe on X-factor, why can’t I get that kind of say of government policy?
Not just who happens to be leader, but all government policy.
We’re approaching a tipping point. The people want to be heard and to be truly represented. The establishment is not willing to give up their right to govern (rule?) and do what they want.
It’s an inherent conflict.
This is the stuff that revolutions are made of.