Australian politics is “turbo-charged at the moment in a toxic direction“, many political commentators write that the “toxic nature of debate, the poisonous character assassinations and the absence of any positive intent has gone on long enough“.Today The Australian is echoing that call.
The Chaser summarised another aspect of our ‘toxic’ political debate earlier this week when they looked at media coverage of the Carbon Tax.
The news this week is filled with stories unlikely to lift our confidence in politicians. Former ALP national president Michael Williamson is facing 28 new charges relating to defrauding union members. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) began hearings into allegations of corruption by former NSW Labor ministers Eddie Obeid, Ian MacDonald and former treasurer Eric Roozendaal. The NSW Liberal party, is under scrutiny after $1 billion worth of mistakes in the budget and is accused of “losing track of billions of dollars at the same rate the rest of us misplace socks.”
The Sydney by-election was described by Clover Moore as a “real rejection” of NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell. She said: “It tells him that whilst he’s got his big majority, he should not interfere in people’s democratic rights.”
At a federal level, The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, yesterday broke her promise to significantly reform poker machine laws. Independant MP, Andrew Wilkie, who supported the Gillard Government because of this reform promise, described the situation last night on Lateline: “The fact that the government did not deliver on a promise … I’ve only been in politics two years, maybe I’m still young and naive, but I think promises can be kept. I think people can be honest.”
He went on to describe the state of federal politics: “I’ve been very disappointed by just how toxic it is in Canberra. I don’t know if this is a normal parliament in that regard, but it’s personal and it’s nasty and that’s not in the public interest. I’m disappointed at the stranglehold of the political parties and their discipline, that people are not allowed to follow their conscience and often not even to represent their constituents. Time and time again I’ve sat on one side of the chamber and I’ve looked across to the other side of the chamber during a vote knowing that people … weren’t allow to follow their conscience and represent their constituents. I’m disappointed at this political ruling class that inhabits politics in Canberra. Professional politicians … they play the games, they get preselected for a safe seat and they hope to be a politician for life.”
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