Sunday, January 6, 2013

Poacher and Gamekeeper

One of the greatest failures of our polity is that we have let our politicians become both "poacher" and "gamekeeper".

By that I mean that our politicians have maneuvered themselves into position where they "set the rules by which they play the game".  Citizens and voters have become mere bystanders.

Take the question of "compulsory voting" - or more correctly compulsory attendance at a polling booth - which surfaced during the past week.

The Queensland Premier was doing a bit of stirring by starting a discussion around "voluntary voting" - as a way of diverting attention from his many failures.  But did you notice what happened in the Federal Parliament?

Everyone from the Prime Minister down commented and tweeted about how "voluntary voting" is so bad and will corrupt our polity and allow the dominance of big money and vested interests - and produce bad outcomes.  No evidence mind you - just lots of politicians telling us how "voluntary voting" is a really bad idea.  As one junior politician suggested - "voluntary voting" is somehow less fair than "compulsory voting" ;-)

My standard reaction is this - "If politicians are so quick to rush in and say that something is bad - then there must be something good about it".

Does anyone else see the problem here?  The politicians who are voted into parliament on a system of "compulsory voting" - are keen to keep that system in place - because they use it to ensure the best outcomes for themselves.

Whereas what is needed is an "Independent Commissioner" to study voting processes - and other things that distort our polity -  and to regularly "initiate referendum" to help ensure that we voters are being properly served by our politicians.  This is the job of the Electoral Commission - but they seem to be missing in action.

We the voters are the ones getting poor outcomes - because the poacher is also the gamekeeper.

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