31 Oct 2016

Good government depends on debate on issues or policy challenges.

Based on various articles
Debate on issues or policy challenges no longer describes our government in Australia.

So called "policies" have been reduced to simple slogans, expressed as dot points, or sound bites, with little or no detail, evidence, or substance. The last election, with a historic high vote against the three major parties, in favour of minor parties and independents, clearly revealed the electorate's dissatisfaction.

They simply bag the other side, or alternative opinion, asserting some sort of draconian outcome, designed to frighten the voter, rather than to inform – to scare them about the likely impact of a particular policy, or of some person, or of some "hidden agenda".

The electorate has been forced to select the lesser of two evils and, then, having voted, has been forced to live with the evil of two lessers!

Scare campaigns and negative politics have resonated over the past decades. There was the Australia Card, the anti-GST campaigns, various health and Mediscares, WorkChoices and various IR scares, attacks on schools, higher education, childcare, and women, then boat people and terrorists.

Globally, there's the Big Scare, anti-establishment, anti-globalisation, anti-free trade, anti-immigration. Its very nationalistic and isolationist. To varying degrees it created Brexit, Trump, Hanson.

Scare campaigns are easy to run – mostly just an oft-repeated assertion, based on little evidence.

So, political and policy courage has essentially evaporated. Turnbull promised to be different, encouraging all policy options to be put on the table. Then immediately he took them off the table, almost faster then they were put on.

Fear only works, sustainably, in a leadership vacuum. The outcome of the last election, which saw Turnbull's standing collapse was much more about his failure to deliver the expected leadership than his stand on any particular issue.

I would suggest that the most effective response to a scare campaign is to counter with policy substance.

Sadly we have had none of  this from this present government.

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