It’s been bubbling away for a fair while, but recent events have made me wonder if there is any politician out there who can look beyond their own and party agendas and have some semblance of the public or common good.
The COVID-19 vaccine and quarantine failures are public administration disasters that also dashed hopes of a change in the way government operated – expert advice guiding it to make decisions in the overall best interests of the people it represents.
Sometimes not everyone in the room may agree, but at least whatever emerged would come out of a ferment of contested ideas, not what would be a good look in the news spin cycle.
The federal government inertia on COVID is but one example of ignoring the advice in favour of marketing and wishful thinking.
Climate change is the other big issue where the federal government shoehorns whatever selective advice it can find into its own distorted perspective to coddle the vested interests that favour it.
From coal mines to gas fields, renewables to electric vehicles, it’s a schizophrenic government that publicly acknowledges the science at the same time as it fibs to communities and panders to the fossil fuel lobby, setting back the orderly transition the country needs to make.
Labor’s fence-sitting and multi-messaging are not that different.
The shrill response to the UNESCO warning about the Great Barrier Reef heading for the endangered list was pathetic and ignored the fact that it was Australia’s own data that underpinned the report.
It highlights the way our politicians shamelessly double down when caught out.
Look at the sports rorts scandal and now the car park scandal, both schemes tossing notions of merit out the window and administered for maximum electoral effect.
Bridget McKenzie is back in the ministry after a reluctant spell on the bench, and Urban Infrastructure Minister Paul Fletcher simply says we won the election, so there, despite two years later only two of the 47 community car parks having been built.
Here in the ACT, Business Minister Tara Cheyne swears the ChooseCBR voucher scheme has been a success despite obvious flaws in how it was structured that allowed it to be gamed.
No one seems capable of admitting to a mistake or taking ministerial responsibility under those quaint Westminster conventions that matter so little anymore.
It is happening so often that trust has evaporated and the electorate is so cynical it is almost inured to the ongoing slipperiness, accepting it as part of politics.
In the process, public servants are being compromised, respect for the rule of law corroded and the instruments of administration damaged.
It is no wonder that the federal government seems loath to set up a Commonwealth corruption watchdog, and if it does, there probably won’t be many teeth.
To its credit, the ACT Government has established an Integrity Commission to handle corruption complaints, but it probably won’t stop bouts of stupidity or vanity when it comes to our politicians.
In a time when we face existential crises on several fronts on top of comparatively run of the mill dilemmas such as keeping a roof over people’s heads, we could use a few leaders who can be straight with us, respect the machinery of government and act in the public good.