*Satire: Far-Right Failed PM Tony Abbott … satire by DonkeyHotey, flickr
First published March 8
Further to a couple of articles on the dangers posed to democratic government by conflicted party interests, and numerous comments on this site around the same issue I thought it timely to flesh out what a solution might look like, so here goes.
There is a vacant space in the political arena for an organisation that makes the case for independent political actors, and does so by taking actions that include defining “independent”, highlighting the flaws in the party political approach to “representation” and governing, and supporting aspiring independent political representatives by providing them with the knowledge and tools needed to get elected and perform their role competently and efficiently, and then publicly critiquing their performance against objective criteria.
The party type politicians are organised and ruthless, and winning against them will take a similar level of organisation and ruthlessness, but with a more ethical underpinning. What follows is an outline of what such a piece of social infrastructure might look like:
The objectives of the organisation need to be as follows:
1. To bring to the electorates awareness the flaws in the party political model of representation.
2. To promote independent political representatives as an antidote to those flaws.
3. To define and list the criteria that constitute an independent political representative.
4. To educate and support genuine independent political representatives in the process of getting elected and in the process of representing and governing by the provision of resources and the aggregation of expertise for sharing with all aspiring independent representatives.
5. To monitor and critique the performance of independent political representatives against the criteria that define “independence”.
In a little more detail,
1. To bring to the voters awareness the flaws in the party political model of representation.
The flaws in party politics need more public discussion and analysis. They underpin much of the dysfunction in public administration that makes our lives needlessly complex, expensive and frustrating. Simply repeating the mistakes of the past and worse, allowing those mistakes to pass unexamined, is a recipe for a declining standard of leadership. If there is an improving standard of leadership emerging from party politics, would someone please identify where, when and how? The loss of two filing cabinets of classified cabinet documents by open public sale suggests that the last five Prime Ministers (at least) have not left any positive residue in the Dept of PM and Cabinet. Well led, positively motivated people do not make mistakes like that one.
Most importantly though, party politics is the road block preventing sorely needed solutions from being implemented. Over and over I hear people say “what needs to happen is ………………….” And endlessly I fail to hear them address how their often very reasonable solution to a serious problem is going to get implemented by a party dominated parliament that either created the problem in the first place, benefits from its presence or is being funded by entities that profit from the problems existence. We need a parliament composed of individuals prepared to deal with facts on their merits and contributions to the greater common good, and not basing their actions on the wants of their donors, ideological biases. Or personal greed and ambition.
2. To define and list the criteria that constitute an independent political representative. That list would seem to include as a minimum the following:
a) A sworn commitment to become and remain aware of the issues of importance to, and relevant to all within the constituency being represented.
b) A sworn commitment to honestly understand, represent and convey the fullest possible the will of the constituency relevant to those issues in the representatives deliberative and legislative activities and to seek out and understand the full range of views held in their electorate, and the support for those views.
c) A sworn commitment to work cooperatively and honestly with their fellow representatives to develop policy and legislation giving effect to policy that serves the interests of the representative’s constituency, and the widest possible common good of the jurisdiction into which the representative has been elected.
d) A sworn commitment to never place any other allegiance ahead of the allegiance to the constituency being represented and the service of its greatest common good.
e) The ability to deliver on those sworn commitments.
3 To promote the principle of independent political representation as an antidote to the flaws inherent in political parties and their domination of our political process.
$millions have been spent making the party model the default means of forming a government in the collective mind of the electorate. It will need a bit of organised activity to bring that to a long overdue end. Extolling the virtues of the individual candidate is their own team’s responsibility. What is being proposed here is not a party comprised of “independents”. To become that would be to adopt and accept those flaws embedded in the party system.
4 To educate and support aspiring independent political representatives in the process of getting elected and if successful, in the process of representing and governing by the provision of resources and the aggregation of expertise for sharing with all aspiring and elected representatives.
For example, acting as the sponsor of events where specialists in an area of policy can make presentations to all independents (candidates or members as applicable) at a single event, or providing candidates with guidance on such matters as section 44 of the Constitution, or acting as a means through which tools that facilitate effective representation can be developed and distributed. Identifying flaws in party opposition policy and campaigning and bringing them to the attention of independent aspirants the trouble of reinventing the wheel every time they stand for election.
5 To monitor and critique the performance of independent political representatives against the criteria that define “independence”
Perhaps the most important role. As the organisation setting and promoting the standard it is incumbent on it to defend that standard rigorously. When those standards are breached it is up to the organisation that owns them to identify the breach, publicly and willingly. Ultimately though, it is the job of the voters to enforce the standard via the ballot box. The axiom of “we get the government we deserve” is where this matter starts, and most certainly where it ends.
Where to from here? That depends on the reader. Expressions of support may be made via the comments or direct to me via the editor. Feel free to repost on other forums.
*Simon Warriner is an average bloke who is sick of watching our common good getting flushed down the sewer by vested interests, party politics and political ponerology (google it), and the administrative incompetence engendered. He thinks we can have clearer, intelligent rather than reflexive government, better outcomes and less bullshit if we, as a voting public, concentrate more on improving the standard of representation and the process of decision making and focus a little less on trying to ensure our own personal agendas are being advanced by party politicians making promises of questionable credibility prior to elections. While uncertain that the above is the complete solution he thinks it is a step in the right direction, and every journey begins with a single step.