Thursday, 5 March 2015

Is Partisan tribalism all our politicians know?

Picture yourself as an accountant who didn't know the difference between a debit or credit. Or maybe a doctor who doesn't know the difference between a bruise and a break. Or a barman who doesn't know the difference between a shandy and a champers. 

You wouldn't get too far in your profession. At least not without some serious questions being asked. Take the accountant example. After years of study, possibly even post grad study, you'd be expected to know the basics. Debits and credits are the absolute nuts and bolts. Get this wrong and people would rightly be questioning your credibility in the field. Actually, they'd be justifiably asking why you're even in the field at all.

Could you imagine these sorts of amateur errors being made by someone holding a position of power? Maybe the Premier of a State, or an Shadow Treasurer, or even the leader of a political party. If not, think again. It's happening!

Annastacia Palaszczuk recently became the 39th Premier of Queensland. She holds degrees in Arts and Laws from the University of Queensland, a Masters of Arts from the London School of Economics (where she was a Chevening Scholar), and a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice from Australian National University. On paper, she has the pedigree to be a great leader.

Ask her what rate the GST is set at and you'll think otherwise. 

Premier Palaszczuk was recently asked on Brisbane morning radio, answering on behalf of Paul from Ipswitch as part of a quiz, what the rate the GST was set at.

Her answer: "Pass."

The incredulous radio host asked her how a senior politician could not possibly know the rate of GST. 

Her next answer: "I thought it was 10 per cent — they want to change it."
Paul from Ipswich was asked if he wanted to try to win more money or take the $300 already won.
“Who’s answering?” Paul asked.
Informed it would be the wannabe premier, he said: “Yeah, I’ll take it (the $300).”
Incredibly, this was two days before the Queensland State election, which Palaszczuk won. 
Sadly, Palaszczuk isn't alone. Shadow Treasurer of Australia, Chris Bowen, was recently interviewed on Sky News by radio talk back host Alan Jones.  When discussing low income tax thresholds, Jones asked Bowen what the threshold amount was. His reply:
"Well you get a low income earners tax offset..."
Jones: "What is the tax free threshold?"
Bowen: "Well Alan..."
Jones after a stumbling pause from Bowen: "I'll tell you what it is. It is $18,200."
This from a man who is waiting in the wings to be in charge of the country's finances! 

And while not in Australia, I have to highlight this interview on London radio with head of the Greens party in the UK, Natalie Bennett, who simply had a car crash during a radio interview on the Greens' proposal to build costing of 500,000 new homes for the poor.

Asked what the total cost of building 500,000 houses would be, Bennett responded with:

"Right, well, that's erm, you've got a total cost, erm...that will be spelt out in our manifesto."

"So you don't know?"

"No, well, er...right, well what, what, what we're looking at in terms of the figures here, um, what we need to do is actually....umm...uh, we're looking at a total spend of $2.7.......billion."

"500,000 homes, $2.7? What are they made of? Plywood?"

Politics is in a bad way in the West. I don't think it is a mere coincidence Australia has had six plus years of an unstable Government. Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard couldn't work themselves out of wet paper bag and Tony Abbott is hardly making a better fist of it. 

Then we have the main in waiting, Bill Shorten who seemingly has no policy other than attack the opposition. Check out this clip of him on the 7.30 Report where he simply could do no other than trash talk Tony Abbott even when repeatedly asked by presenter Leigh Sales what Labor's policies are. 

Our current day leaders are like kids in a times table contest. They don't quite know all the basics, but they're as competitive as hell and badly want to beat the opponent. Rather than excelling at leadership, or even being across the basics of their own portfolios, they are masters of ongoing, irrational partisan tribalism.
The current children in detention issue is but one example of the adverse effects of the amateur state of partisan politics. While the current Government has reduced the number of children (who are allegedly being sexually abused in detention centers) from 2000 to 200, the ongoing discussion is centered on a report made by the President of the Human Rights Commission in Australia - Gilian Triggs. 
Rather than striving to achieve bipartisan support to free these children from the horrors they are being exposed to, each side of politics continues to play the backward and forward blame game on the opposite party, as per usual. 
Politics is sadly no longer about principle. It is about who can rubbish the other in a more damaging, all encompassing way. 

Meanwhile the children continue to suffer. Not to mention an economic debt the size of Bill Shorten's ego. 

Australian politics is a captain less ship. It's time a leader or political party grabbed the wheel and started actually steering it forward. For as long as our pollies stand and shoot from the hip at each other, (while forgetting GST rates, tax free thresholds or even their own party's policies), we will continue to see disasters like children in detention and a political ship bound for the murky economic waters that is Spain and Greece. 
All the best,
Dom Meese

1 comment:

  1. Spot on Dom. It's not seen as a profession, but a popularity contest. We don't care how much charm our motor mechanic has or how well our dentist might present to the media. We want them to know about be good at what they do. A media driven mess.