Dec 4, 2012

Posted by in Queensland Politics | 0 Comments

Keep pollies on a short leash

Queensland is never afraid to go against the grain of political trends. In fact, we delight in thumbing our noses at convention. It is a contrary streak that has delivered us a cast of lively political characters who would be hard to match anywhere in the world.


So maybe the time is right to consider another contrary concept: two-year terms for our state government. Once the predictable cries of anguish at the prospect of even more elections dies down, let’s consider why this proposal might be worth a glance.


For a start, our former premier Peter Beattie (will he never go away?) has started campaigning for pollies to suck on the teat of government for four years at a time. The old spin doctor’s reputation for suckering us should make us wary of his motives. Anna Bligh and Andrew Fraser were also enthusiasts for longer terms in office. Hmmm . . . Even Campbell Newman has said the concept of four-year terms is worthy of debate. Ah, now people are starting to worry.


And that’s it, folks. The issue here is one of credibility. We know we can’t trust politicians. They look at you with all the sincerity of a drunk excusing his inability to not stumble while all the time they’ve got their hand in our pocket removing our credit cards.


We know all about Anna’s asset sales, Julia’s carbon tax, Campbell’s ‘no public servant has anything to fear from me’ and Tony’s promise to play nice. He never said that? Oh, never mind, it would have been a lie anyway.


The thing is, the way politics is played has changed. We are now regularly subjected to election campaigns in which the major parties refuse to reveal their real agendas. They put forward plastic platforms designed to create a trustworthy and electable image but when they get into office they suddenly transform into Rasputin-like caricatures with a determination to impose policies we thought we had voted against.


Who is sick of the tired cliché that “the budget position we now find ourselves in means that we cannot do what we promised”? Enough is enough.


Queenslanders like to be different and we are now the odd state out with a non-fixed, three-year election cycle and our unicameral parliament with no upper house of review. So, why not consider some extra protection for our own interests?


If we have learned the painful lesson that politicians will lie to us again and again during election campaigns and then, having duped us, implement policies and programs we never expected, we need to give ourselves a safeguard. Keep them to two years and keep them honest.


Those with a lust for power and the perks and privileges that go with it will argue that short terms are not good for development and implementation of quality policy. Yeah, right! As if we ever see much of that. The Americans have two-year terms for their House of Representatives and their world doesn’t come to a standstill.


Others will argue that the cost of elections is too high and we should save the expenditure. Excuse me? Our nett debt is something like $65 billion and election costs are a mere drop in that bucket.


The bottom line is that we keep getting lied to and cheated on. Our only recourse is to hold politicians and their parties more to account by making them face our judgment more frequently. Only those protecting naked self-interest or the privileges and perks not available to the rest of us will complain too much. Should we care?.


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