Sunday, November 01, 2009

Pollies, Bl**dy Pollies!

What is it with politicians? Yes, I know they like to micromanage everything, and are especially vulnerable to the merest whiff of changes in polls. And their minders like to manage everything from the clothes they wear to the assertions they make, to the questions journalists can ask them.

However, all this "management" means they forget about their whole raison d'etre: to develop and implement good public policy for the betterment of our society. Instead, they indulge in unfounded assertions; cheap, political point-scoring; invalid arguments and unfounded assertions; and "talk tough" bluster.

Consider the following:
  • Kevin Rudd's "tough talk" on unlawful migrants/refugees. Many Australians had tired of the Liberal Party's, and John Howard's, inhumane treatment of such people. John Howard, and his Government (all of the current Opposition, and them some) were criticised by the UNHCR for their inhumane policies. What does Kevin Rudd do: almost exactly the same. Why? He's afraid the polls (voters) might not like a more humane set of policies.
  • Kevin Rudd indulged in more gratuitous political jibes in Parliament over Malcolm Turnbull's leadership, or lack of control, of his Liberal Party members. Specifically, loose canon Wilson Tuckey, and later Sen. Nick Minchin.
  • Malcolm Turnbull still cannot stop his Liberal Party cohorts from speaking out of turn; or lead them to wards a sensible, public-interest-based Climate Change policy. The policy many of them want is subsidies for big polluters.
  • Malcolm Turnbull, in a media interview, argues that, if reports that Sri Lankans still aboard a Custome vessel off Indonesia had been processed by the UNHCR in Indonesia are true, then Kevin Rudd's argument that external push factors are creating more boatloads of asylum seekers in all wrong. What he should be arguing is that, if true, these people should be returned to Indonesia, to follow proper assessments by teh UNHCR. However, he denies outside influences: the humanitarian disaster befalling Tamils in Sri Lanka at the hands of their (Sinhalese) Government, and increased movement of refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq. Turnbull's argument is wrong, he knows it, the journalists interviewing him know it.

Sadly, few, if any, journalists working for commercial media question the arguments from any politician. The possible exceptions work for the ABC current affairs shows. Kerry O'Brien springs to mind. The commercial press has largely become complicit in the political hoodwinking of voters, by politicians. That's how the politicians, and their minders, want it. We need to change it. Journalists should ask difficult questions, and politicians should feel discomfort if their arguments are invalid, and their policies inhumane, or not in the public interest.