MARK BUCKLEY. Voters of Australia You’re doing it all Wrong

These days, in the dumbed–down media, there are often articles which tell the reader she has been brushing her hair wrongly, or he has been cutting the avocado incorrectly. I thought I would explain to the voters of Australia just where they got it so terribly wrong.

Most politicians seem to have had a golden moment, somewhere back in their youth, when they were driven by idealism, by a genuine desire to improve the human situation. Reading their Wikipedia entries sometimes shows something resembling a hint of gold, glinting in the quartz of their souls.

Australians have the vote. We take it for granted, but there are millions of people around the world who would sacrifice much to have that privilege. And we all know that, taken for granted or not, it comes with great responsibility, to actually make it mean something. Therein lies our inherent laziness, and a surprising naivety.

We all, wherever we live, have a responsibility to choose carefully, to consider the facts, to plumb the depths of our souls, to weigh judiciously the relative merits of the candidates, and putting aside all extraneous and superficial flights of fancy, we should try and send to Canberra the very best our electorate has on offer. It is not only doing justice to the wonder of democracy, but it includes an element of self-care, in that if we send the best to parliament, they will further our well-being, and the national interest.

This may sound onerous, but really it is not. We would probably look back on the known facts about the competing candidates, beginning with the party they represent, their history of achievement, we might look at their education, and their careers before becoming a candidate, we might look at their voting record, and even their publicly aired opinions. Lastly we might even make a choice based on their presentation, on how they speak to others, their perceived intelligence, their suitability to represent us, their willingness to put our interests first.

So although it sounds like a lot of work, this is really, to a large extent, based on instinct. We generally know if we find someone trustworthy, we make split second decisions all the time. If we take the decision seriously I always think that we will get it right, most of the time.

There are a multitude of reasons why the current Government should never have been elected. Although I generally shy away from using sporting metaphors when discussing politics, it is particularly useful when looking at this rabble.

To be successful, football teams require several A grade performers, a solid core of “better than competent” players, and the rest to be honest, hard working and committed personnel. As the quality of your list thins out, perhaps due to poor recruiting, or injuries, or the team’s age make-up, performance will inevitably suffer.

Football followers rather unkindly describe the situation when their team is struggling, as ‘running out of cattle’. Successful teams go out and find personnel to fill roles, to replace ageing warriors, to improve a function, maybe even to facilitate change, to re-set directions.

As I have bemoaned in the past, there is a growing shortage of quality ‘cattle’ going to Canberra. Consider the curious case of Scott Morrison (the captain) and Craig Kelly (past his use by date). The Liberal Party, prior to the last election, chose to superannuate the supremely un-gifted warrior to the bench, only to find the captain coming in and reversing the decision.

One can look far and wide for reasons, but it seems to be the worst choice a leader could make. Mr Kelly is a vociferous conservative, against same sex marriage, a climate science denier, a person who is against abortion in all cases, a man who would cross the floor to further his belligerent insistence on outdated beliefs.

Getting rid of Kelly was a decision which required no thought. It would send him to join Tony Abbott on the sidelines, it would allow Morrison to modernise his party at least a little bit, it would lessen the numbers in the obstinate right wing rump of the party, and it might increase the possibility of climate change action, even as Australia sinks into ignominy for its refusal to act. And it could have been achieved by not intervening, which would have left Morrison’s hands clean.

To continue the sporting metaphor, you have a captain with no clue, re-appointing a truly untalented player, to re-join a team struggling to achieve a game plan, and rejecting a younger, better player, who would not constantly ‘butcher’ the ball.

A reason commonly given for this apparent moment of madness on Morrison’s part, was to avoid embarrassing the Prime Minister. It appears to be a steep price to pay.

The country is worse off. The voters of Australia are worse off. The electorate of Hughes is again represented by a person whose only claim to fame is that he played rugby. I fear this sporting metaphor has run its course, but how in hell will we ever achieve anything with such a team of ‘poor cattle’?

Mark Buckley is a Melbourne based writer, interested in politics and ethics. He blogs at


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2 Responses to MARK BUCKLEY. Voters of Australia You’re doing it all Wrong

  1. Rosemary O'Grady says:

    Exactly, SW.
    Or, as William Lamb, Lord Melbourne, and various Whigs and Liberals – Tories, even, have said subsequently: party and faction are the toxins that ruin our democracy- or words to that effect.
    Latest farcical act in these pantomimes: Bill Shorten and Peter Gordon Legal (Hmm: remember a price-plunge of an earlier venture?) converge to launch a ‘class action’ obo Victims of RoboDebt. Not so much gainful activity for the under-employed ex-Leader and Non-Government Parliamentarian as a snub to a current Leader who, presumably, is, again, on notice of the Old Xaverian’s unwillingness to go quietly.

  2. Simon Warriner says:

    The reason the quality of the “herd” coming to Canberra is in exponential decline is because of party politics.

    Regardless of party, ideology or ambition, the following will always play out.

    It starts off as an ideological proposition, attracts a few altruistic, talented individuals, and builds a name for itself. Over time it develops a structure and attracts careerists who are good at making themselves look good. “party unity” is seen as vital to electoral success, and when this conflicts with the needs of the constituents “party unity” comes up trumps too often. Really clever people with any integrity don’t like that conflict of interest and they won’t be a part of it, or work with those who are prepared to accept it and the debauched policy outcomes that it creates. That is why there is a shortage of them in Canberra, and in every other state capital.

    It can be fixed, most simply, by not voting for party politicians and instead voting for the best qualified independent on offer, or writing “none of the above” at the bottom of the ballot paper, while leaving every box blank.

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