Ever since Australian voters couldn’t make up their minds about who they want to run the country, I’ve gotten a bit sick of hearing the word “stability”. The independents say they want it, both parties say they can deliver it, and the other team can’t. Everyone’s focused on making sure that whatever government forms out of the democratic no-man’s land we’ve created, it will be built to last.
Since when has that been all that matters?
There’s no point being in power if you’re not going to do anything – or worse, do bad things that damage the country. The new government will need forward-thinking policies and a plan for real progress – two things mostly lacking in the campaign. With such a small minority, it’ll be hard to get any major legislation passed, and anything visionary will be watered down to the lowest common denominator that gets approval from everyone. A government of slow, stable, mediocrity.
French intellectual and writer Joseph de Maistre once famously said “every nation gets the government it deserves”. Marieke Hardy says that’s exactly what happened, and the government we got was: “half of each plus a couple of farmers, a hippy, a whistleblower and the unclassifiably deranged Bob ‘Many times I’ve gone to bed as a cockle-doodle-doo and woke up the next morning as a feather duster’ Katter”. It’s a brilliant (and delightfully poetic) analysis. Nobody has any confidence in the leaders of either major party. The Greens, with their first ever seat in the lower house, are too new and inexperienced to lead the country. And an independent as Prime Minister makes about as much sense as a Family First member – none at all.
I can’t see a minority govenment lasting very long. The last hung parliament we had, 70 years ago, the government formed from that lasted less than a year. But maybe that’s what we need. A year of doing nothing, while the parties take a good long look at themselves. And after a bit of navel gazing, perhaps next year we can have another election. An election where each party realigns its policies with the core values of its members and supporters – not the latest poll results. An election where all parties campaign on their strengths, not the weaknesses of their opponents. An election with substance. With vision.
And hopefully, by then we’ll deserve it.