RULING IS A consequence of professional politicking. Yet it has also created unmatched instability in modern Australian politics. Professionalisation of political operations has come to dominate the way major Australian political parties function, and diminishes government and opposition alike. Tony Abbott sought to rule rather than govern, in much the same way that Kevin Rudd did after Labor was returned to power in 2007 – and both unravelled.
The blame for the state of modern politics lies not just with the politicians, but with journalists, commentators and voters as well. The political culture in Australia is sick and in need of treatment. The throwaway culture of consumerism has transferred into attitudes towards politicians. The selfishness of voters is only matched by politicians’ selfish grab for power, and journalists, while not entirely to blame for the way they cover politics, share the blame for the lack of focus on policy. In our view, there are three relatively simple solutions to help improve the situation, and return politics to the art of governing rather than ruling: tighter regulation of political parties; recognition that Australia has outgrown the two party system and must reform institutions to remake it; and the need to institutionalise consultation within the law-making process.
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