The recent state of Australian federal politics, has been (to put lightly) an embarrassment to any notion of civility. It borders on farce to see the federal opposition’s backflip on parliamentary reform. Politics in Australia, in my opinion, has crashed to a new embarrassing low.
Why do I think so?
Allow me to firstly criticise the opposition’s handling of the recent debate on the new pairing arrangements of the Speaker of the House of Representative. I consider the opposition’s renege on a signed agreement to be arrogant, disrespectful and contemptuous. I am glad that as a nation, Australia has spared itself the misery of being led by a Coalition that shows no leadership, inspirational or redeeming qualities. One would have assumed that proper due diligence would have been conducted prior to signing the agreement. Even you and I understand this basic concept. The concept of “don’t sign until you’ve read the document” has been instilled into us since we were children. To show such contempt is, in my opinion, a reflection of the true values entrenched in the Coalition. Regretfully, the intelligence and moral standing of most Australians surpass you. As more Australians become educated, the more the spin becomes apparent and obvious, and the more snide and arrogant they appear. I am sure I speak for most when I say that we would like to be treated like normal, educated people, not dumb idiots that cannot think and decide for ourselves.
Now let me criticise the way manner in which the opposition views its role in opposition. I believe that the opposition exists to challenge and test potential legislation to be passed by the government. Its role is definitely not to block and ‘oppose’ every bill before parliament for the sake of upholding its name as opposition. The manner in which the Coalition has conducted themselves with respect to the national broadband network since the election and the reneging of the parliamentary reforms agreement are only two examples. Both the government and opposition believe that the national broadband network is important infrastructure. There is consensus on the need, but there is disparate views on its design and implementation. The opposition now takes the stance that they must destroy the government’s national broadband network plans. This would just result in a total loss for all. Not only would there be no fruitful discussion, but it would serve to drive public disillusionment. Where there is potential legislation for the greater good, then I see no reason for the opposition to oppose for the sake of opposing. They can examine and scrutinise with the aim of improving the bill and provide constructive criticism where possible. To use the tactic of bickering to obtain media attention is ridiculous.
A strong opposition is one which can hold the government accountable to its actions. More importantly, I think before an opposition can hold others to account, it should learn to be accountable for its own actions first.