Word by Angus, NSW
Australian politics is broken! Democracy is in chaos! We are an international laughing stock! What about stability?! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!
Reading the news last week, you may have thought Australia had gone through an anarchic uprising and lizard people had taken control of the Iron Throne. What happened instead, was a new Prime Minister was installed. Yep. That was it.
How it happened and the circustry that circulated around it was slightly off-kilter, but it certainly did not threaten everything that we know to be true.
Last week started like any other. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s approval ratings were average, conservative factions within the Liberals were trying their darnest to snatch control of the party and Labor Leader Bill Shorten was still not a palatable alternative. Same ol’ same ol’. A lot happen between Monday and Friday (which I won’t bore you with), but at the week’s end, most of these things were still the same. Except we had a new Prime Minister, Scott ScoMo Morrison.
Were the events an unsavoury end to a sitting Prime Minister? Sure. Was it entertaining? Most definitely. But more importantly, was it a blight on our democracy? Not at all.
Let’s break down the main misconceptions about #libspillprimeministergate.
- Australian politics is broken! Not true. In Australia we utilise the Westminster political system, under a Constitutional Monarchy, as handed down by the British. The Australian Constitution does not specifically articulate anything about the Prime Minister – not how they are elected, not how long they are elected for, not what kind of food they are required to like, nothing. Instead we follow the practices and principles of our colonisers. In their system (as with ours), the Prime Minister is not elected by popular vote but instead is selected by the party that has the most number of seats in Parliament. In Australia we vote for a local member to represent the views of the electorate at a Federal level. And unless your local member also happens to be the leader of the party with the most seats, you do not have a direct say in who is the Prime Minister. The people of Cook can determine if they want to keep Sco-Mo in the job at the next election. But they too have no say in who would replace him if he were to lose. Just like the rest of us.
- Democracy is in chaos! I don’t think so. Australia is a thriving democracy that, generally, allows for equal representation and access to voting and running for Parliament. What happened last week did not change this. We will be able to vote in the next election. The Parliament is still functioning. Maybe not to the fullest of its ability, but it is. During the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd saga, hundreds of pieces of legislation passed and the country did not fall into anarchic, undemocratic chaos. If you want to really question our democracy, maybe you should ask why we have an unelected, un-Australian Head of State. Sorry Queeny, you are not very democratic.
- We are an international laughing stock! Trump anyone? North Korea, maybe? You can find many more jokes out there. We cool.
- What about stability?! I think “stability” is given too much credit. And its usage in this instance is incorrect. Flexible is a better choice of word. I would much prefer to have a system that allows politicians to be removed – either by their party, the law or otherwise – than one that has the same people in power for a million years. To be flexible in the face of changes in the electorate and the political environment is much more positive than resisting change. “Stability” fosters apathy and hiders creativity. Down with stability! Up with flexibility!
- Think of the children! This is a fair comment. ScoMo has a questionable track record, but let’s not get too political now.
For political junkies like myself, last week was a relative smorgasbord of entertainment and dank memes. For others, it marked the end of democracy as we know it. But to the majority, it was just another week of politicians putting self-interest ahead of those of everyday Australians. Good luck trying to change that opinion, ScoMo.