‘Politicians behaving badly‘, Inside Story, 28 November 2016
If the Trump victory in the United States represented a backlash against a perceived self-interested “political class,” just as the Brexit vote did in Britain, Australia is by no means immune to the contagion. It is no exaggeration to say that Australia’s once reasonably robust democracy is in a state of malaise, with public trust in government slumping to a new low as politicians fail to meet public expectations.
The author considers problems in the system and problems in the people who work within it. He looks at recent scandals and discusses findings about trust, as contained in the recent Scanlon Foundation survey. Perhaps as a result of these shortcomings, the traditional parties have lost ground as minority parties rise.
The forces unleashed by the new mood are creating uncertainty, strategically as much as economically, in an increasingly volatile international environment. Confidence in political arrangements and those entrusted with political management have not been needed so critically since the dark days of the second world war, seven decades ago. On the available evidence, we appear ill-prepared to meet these new challenges.
Norman Abjorensen is the author of The Manner of Their Going: Prime Ministerial Exits from Lyne to Abbott.