Tuesday, 3 February 2015

The Leadership Vacuum

Recently I've been doing a lot of writing over at The Conversation. While I've mainly focussed on the Queensland election campaign, all my writing in the last four weeks has been concentrated through the prism of leadership: what the leaders might do during the campaign, who might take over should the Premier fall, predicting the outcome of the campaign (wrongly, I might add) and documenting the shock result.

Today I assessed all the ramifications particularly given the fact that Prime Minister Tony Abbott looks set to lose his job as well. If he does, Australia's two major parties will have changed leaders seven times since 2007. There is something seriously wrong going on here. Although it is great for my academic career,  I hate what is going on at the moment.

While its citizens watch Australian democracy implode yet again they should ask themselves when was the last time they saw two opposing members of parliament (State or Federal) debate policy positions? The current 'leadership' culture is simply ridiculous. 

I'm sad, angry and frustrated for our country, and for the legacy it leaves us. There have been five years of instability on both sides of politics, and there have been no policy achievements in that period (Don't you dare say the NDIS!).  There is nothing that you can point to since the economic reforms post the global financial crisis and say 'The Government did this. This is its legacy.' 

We, the public, deserve better, and so do the politicians we elect.

The media, the politicians and the public all need to realise that politics is HARD. There will be mistakes. There will be differences of opinion. Not everything that we would like to happen, will happen. This doesn't make politicians dishonest, tricky or ineffective. Nor does this mean we have to buy into the horse racing elements of political discourse, where one ''leadership contender' is placed up against another for no discernible reason.

The only way you can achieve change, in life and in politics, is through incrementalism. Just as we teach our kids the skills of perseverance and determination, all of us must learn that these are vital ingredients in political life.

We all need to take responsibility for our democracy: the voters, the leaders, and the media. Don't wimp out at the first sign of negativity and look for someone else to take over. Admit your mistakes, learn from them, and move on.