Politics and Independents

By | 2010/09/02

Almost two weeks ago now, Australia went to the polls for our federal election, and it would appear that the overwhelming consensus from the Australian population was “meh”.

With 76 seats required for victory in the lower house of parliament, neither of the main parties (Labor or the Liberal/National coalition) managed to secure enough seats to govern in their own right. This has created the interesting situation where 4 independents (and to a lesser degree, one Green) hold the balance of power, and are still deciding which party they’ll support to create a minority government.

The last time we had a hung parliament/minority government at the federal level was apparently around 1940.

Since then, a lot of people have been running around bitching and complaining that four independents are wielding too much power, that it shouldn’t be the case, that…

Cry me a river, bucko.

If you don’t want the risk of independents holding the balance of power, then get out there and canvas for constitutional change to require any sitting member to be aligned with a party. I’d love to see that go to a referendum, just to see how badly a proposal can actually fail.

Neither party has done anything to endear themselves lately, and their lacklustre performance during the election meant that they got exactly what they deserved – the “meh” vote. Politics has become the art of pandering to bogan fears rather than actually leading. It’s become doing what the shock jocks and the rabid morons on A Current Affair think should be done, rather than actually doing the right thing and leading through inspiration. It’s no longer about morals, just scruples – an unpleasant lack thereof.

Don’t get me wrong, one or two of the independents I think are a bit whacko. But no more so than any other federal politician at the moment, and a whole lot less than some crazy-arse politicians who’ve constantly confused homosexuality with pedophilia, or who think the earth is only a few thousand years old, or think climate change is just a big lark.

But consider this: the independents clearly do have scruples. In the case of several of them, they actually previously belonged to one of the major parties, then eventually threw their hands up in disgust, proclaimed “screw you, you forgot your WHY, I’m going it alone”.

They not only went it alone, but they proved that people wanted them to go it alone. They retained their seats as independents, and worked hard for what every politician should work hard for – the people who elected them.

As I mentioned in a previous post, we need a better approach to democracy.

I’m happy to give this hung parliament a go – at least for once politicians are actually seriously talking to each other rather than engaging in endless points scoring and seeking the next 30 seconds of media adulation.