Our shocking Parliament: only one-third of federal MPs deserve any respectDec 12, 2021
Next year’s election is an opportunity for voters to replace the liars and misfits in Parliament with quality independent candidates.
My first visit to Parliament in Canberra occurred in 1958 when Robert Menzies was prime minister, and I have made 150 visits in the six decades since then without being tempted to join a political party.
Without being a name-dropper, I can say I made it my business to meet every prime minister and opposition leader of my era and had it as a priority to establish solid friendships with MPs in all parties so I could gain bipartisan support for all that I advocated. I encountered many fine parliamentarians along the way and, until recent times, there were more good guys than bad.
Then, as I reached my 90th year, I encountered the current Parliament and can honestly state that it is an absolute shocker. It is a haven for far too many misfits who are primarily liars and, on their better days, childish purveyors of spin that too often leads them to corruption.
There are 230 MPs and senators. I can inform you that only one-third of them earn their salaries and are entitled to respect. The rest are dead weight in our saddlebags, an embarrassment to our nation. I can tell you from my many meetings with the tragic two-thirds that most of them have no knowledge of the Constitution and have never tried to work out how Parliament and government actually work. Above all, they have no knowledge of what their voters hope will enable them to get a fair go on a level playing field. Their only skill is an ability at election time to con enough voters to back them via a masterly dispensing of disinformation.
We need a massive cleanout at election 2022 of the dead wood in every party, as the ALP and Greens also have logs in their ranks, although somewhat fewer than the Liberals and Nationals do. This reformation will be hard to achieve as all major parties have already preselected their disgraceful duds as candidates.
The best hope that Australia has for good future government is for at least a dozen independents to win seats and give Australia a minority government, preferably with a Labor prime minister as it would not be good for democracy for the Coalition to win four elections in a row.
Many high-profile independents have already announced their intention to run and it is splendid that many are women who will bring a fresh view to the closed-minded male bastion that is Parliament today. The weakness at the moment is they are all running in Coalition-held seats. This must be corrected as the ALP has drones in its ranks who must also be tossed out.
Overall, a significant reason why independents will do well is that most voters think a choice between Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese is boringly dreadful. There is no vision in that contest. This was emphasised by Morrison’s dismal performance at the Glasgow climate conference and the disappointing blunder by Albanese in not announcing his climate policy. At the same time, Morrison signed up for the AUKUS treaty, which was a decision of enormous stupidity that ignored and insulted our natural regional allies such as Indonesia and India. Unbelievably, Albanese waved it through.
So, what qualifications are needed to be a capable and responsible MP or senator who can help to lead Australia through tough times and open doors to a future that will be different to anything we have experienced before?
First, candidates should pass a stringent mental health test. Too many politicians would not pass a test for mental stability if applying for a job in any other place. Some are absolute social disasters, too many of whom are religious bigots or sex predators.
They must have a solid knowledge of the history of Australia and the world with which we must relate, as well as knowledge of the Constitution which is the basis of our democracy. None of them should be people who have spent their working lives as advisers in MPs’ offices as they have little knowledge of life beyond politics. They must also have an understanding of economics and social issues as well as a long record of voluntary community service.
Finally, candidates must show basic decency and respect for others. The foul abuse that is handed out during question time is disgusting, the language of common thugs.
I was only 20 years old when Ben Chifley died. I listened to the ABC when Menzies announced his passing. He said “Ben Chifley was my friend” and he wept genuine tears. He and Chifley met frequently for a drink to agree on what legislation should pass Parliament unscathed and what few issues they would fight over. Just try to imagine Morrison and Albanese doing this now.
Nevertheless, I have hope for a great Australia where we all get a chance to excel. May we have courage to take a giant step forward at election 2022 and remove most of our unworthy parliamentarians by voting only for quality candidates, not the hack politicians that parties endorse with monotonous disrespect for us.