My partner watches Federal Parliamentary Question Time like other people watch football.
When his team is winning there are cries of “You tell’em!” and “Cop that!” from the living room. When the away team has them on the run, it is more like “Lying cheat!” and “Rigged!”
Federal and State Parliament are a lot like football. There are two major sides (usually those with the biggest salary cap) who are expected to make it to the Grand Final (the election). There are many minor teams in the draw early on such as Greens and Independents. They play valiantly but are always outgunned by the better financed clubs with TV time and major corporate sponsorship.
The Speaker of the House is the referee. The Speaker has the power to penalise or sin bin players – including the Captain – sending repeat offenders off. Current Federal Speaker Tony Smith is as formidable a referee as any and it is just as well. Both teams try all manner of borderline tactics and shady moves to try and get any advantage they can over the other side.
The difference between football and politics is football does not have the power to severely impact the daily life of people who don’t follow it. With footy you are free to barrack for and even financially support whatever team you like, or even not follow football at all. It will not impact your income, your health or your children except by choice.
Not so with politics.
The outcomes of Government policies impact heavily on all our quality of life and basic freedoms – whether you follow a political party or not. The food you eat, who you can marry, where you can afford to live, whether you get decent pay, the medicine you are prescribed and the water you can – or can’t – drink. Whether or not you can access housing, affordable power, health services, child care or reliable telecommunications. Your entire household is impacted by decisions made by often self interested politicians.
Having worked in Local, State and Federal Government, private enterprise and finance, I know there is literally nothing the people near the top won’t do to get in power and then stay there.
When you see a politician on TV or in the paper on hear them on the radio, there is no ‘brought to you by’ announcement. Unlike footy players, they are not required to wear who is really paying on their shirts. There is no political donation disclosure register and no salary cap. There are no logos behind their heads at the press conference. Lobbyists quite literally roam our Parliamentary corridors across the country offering billions for proximity to power. They now have far greater access than the(allegedly) free press with none of the ethical restraints.
And therein lies the rub. You literally have more information on who funds, sponsors and lavishly gifts your football players, coaches and Executives than you can get on your own Government.
And no one should need the video ref to tell them that in a democracy, that is never OK.
Copyright Suzanne James The Henoi Hilton 2019