Thursday 9th of February 2023

Election of governments

Hey all, how do we currently decide who governs?

We elect a member of Parliament from each electorate, an electorate usually decided politically, a group of people considered to be in like socio economic groups generally. These decisions are made supposedly independently of political parties but are they really? The Bjelke-Petersen government era tells me the answer to that is NO.

Similarly, my observance of the Northern Territory decisions on who should be in what electorate is purely political, particularly with aboriginal groups. The previous CLP government simply moved a group of the aboriginal population from an electorate which was essentially based from Katherine down southwards into a Central Australian electorate. This was done simply because Labor wins most seats where the population is mainly aboriginal. In that case the people affected had traditional names attached to their previous electorate but had no say in where they were relocated electorate wise.

Similar things happen in all States as political parties see a change in demographics and either increase an electorates boundaries to cover the newly built areas on the assumption they will generally vote in a similar way or older areas are redefined to cover what their polling tells them is favourable.

It is known as Gerrymandering as many will know. It is one of the most hidden forms and signs of a corrupt system yet these days such redefinitions of boundaries hardly rates a mention in the media. Many only find out they have been moved to another electorate when they try and vote.

So each electorate picks from the candidates that stand for election. In the case of the big two parties the decision on who will stand is made through a preselection process decided by party members only. In the case of Peter Garrett it was one person that decided. Similarly in the election of Malcolm Turnbull. The general public have no idea who is wanting to stand or what the relevant skills and qualities of those that miss out actually are. We are simply told that candidate x is the best person for that electorate. Often that person does not even live in the electorate when preselected. Some never live in the electorate they supposedly represent, others move once elected.

That is another demonstration of the corruption of our system, whatever you call it. How can those that do not experience what living in an area represent the wishes and needs of the electorates population? They cannot. Rather they cynically pick up the local knowledge from party members and try to exploit what they are told are the issues which people there care about.

OK, they have all been elected. Now what? Usually the population knows who they will be electing as Prime Minister, and often Deputy Prime Minister. The use of Shadow Ministers and Shadow Cabinet gives us some clues who might get what job once an Opposition is elected but it is not necessarily so as members of that Shadow group may not win their seat, or fall out of favour.

Of course we also get Prime Ministers we may not want between elections due to a party room coup or simply a decision by the sitting PM that he's had enough.

Sitting governments are different in that we generally know who will do what job as they have already been doing it. But again that is not necessarily true as some of them may lose their seats or fall out of favour.

Between elections changes are regularly made to the Ministers line up. This is done by the Party who won the previous election, but it is generally done by the Prime Minister and his closest supporters and not based on skills or ability, rather loyalty or supporter numbers.

So we end up with people we did not pick to stand for parliament in the first place, rather we decided on party lines trusting the parties to pick someone with qualities suited to leading a Government Department or group of Departments. There is a high proportion of the legally trained on one side and a high proportion of ex Union leaders on the other side. Neither of those backgrounds may be relevant at all to the jobs they do if they win government.

Frequently people are given charge of a Department etc based on their loyalty to the leader or simply long service as a party hack. It is a popularity contest run amongst the elected members, not the public nor a selection process as is required to fill the jobs within the Departments.

I don’t understand why we accept that rubbish. Why should we not decide who to vote for in selecting an applicant for each job in the government? IE We vote for Treasurer, Defence Minister etc. etc.. At the moment we essentially only vote for the Prime Ministerial candidate and trust that person to know what is best for each portfolio. That is a big leap of faith as we all know that many candidates are simply incompetent, have dubious backgrounds and should never become a minister. Others occupy the back benches whether they are in power or not and simply fill up Committees their entire career, never actually contributing to decisions made by government at all. They just vote along party lines in the hope their loyalty will be rewarded. Usually a vain hope at that as it is the politically aware and sharp who get the Ministers jobs, always.

As we can see the current leader and deputy hate each other. It seems the reason Howard remains so long is simply to deprive Costelloe of the opportunity. Who decides who is fit to lead? In that case Howard does as he has the numbers behind him, till now anyway. In the Labor party there has been little but back stabbing in relation to who leads. A large percentage of their elected members spend their time whiteanting the person currently in charge while they labour in Opposition. They have little else to do really.

That’s how we elect and empower people to run our government. Not by any decent consideration of qualifications, relevant experience, knowledge and skills, simply because the major parties tell us those people are suitable.

I trust none of that process and want change there. It is a big subject and there are many aspects to think about, such as cost of elections, how would candidates present their qualities for consideration and of course the biggest hurdle, political parties. They are used to making all the decisions and will not give that up willingly.

Why are our governments not made up from among all the elected members, at least widening the possibility of getting someone competent and committed to the job rather than just running the party line? The answer to that again is they are divided on party lines and if you are in the minority you have nothing to do for three years but carp and disagree with everything the sitting government proposes.

Members of both major parties continually call each other liars, cheats, rorters and more. I suggest we believe them all as they know each other better than we know them. Nothing a government does is ever right and nothing the Opposition proposes is considered even sensible or possible.

This is a perversion of what I expect as a voter.

Open for discussion.