When I think about Australian politicians and politics, in the acute depression that follows, I’m reminded of a story about extreme optimism in the face of overwhelming futility. It goes something like this.
Way back when, in some Mediterranean country, a King had condemned several prisoners to death the following day. On asking the condemned whether they had any final words about their sentence, one spoke up and said that if he was given a year’s reprieve, and the King’s horse, he would teach the horse to sing. The King (laughingly) gave the prisoner his reprieve. On their return to the cells the condemned ridiculed his proposal. The prisoner responded thus; ‘Tomorrow you will all be dead, and I have a year’s reprieve. In that time, I may die, the King may die, and who knows, perhaps the horse may sing!’
At a time of global uncertainty, where Australia needs governance and politicians that are visionary, competent, fair and compassionate, we see the most debasing and degrading performances coming from those who purport to represent us. Any trick, subterfuge, half-truth, negativity, manipulation or pretence is on display in their efforts either to retain power, or obtain it, by whatever means. We are condemned to the greatest of political mediocrity and venality at a time when we need visionaries, leadership and commitment to democracy and good government.
There are some 222 representatives (so-called) of the people in Federal parliament. Most you will never know or hear about, but when I think of the following: Gillard, Cameron, Conroy, Crean, Shorten, Swan, Thomson. And, Abbott, Abetz, Bishop (Julie), Brandis, Coonan, Hockey, Morrison, Pyne. And, Katter, Joyce, Slipper, Truss, Windsor, Oakeshott and Wilkie, I truly despair that we are so poorly served by such mediocrity in a place where we need the best of the best, not the worst of the worst.
So I feel very much like that prisoner with a year’s reprieve, at the end of it to be condemned, not to death, but to 3 or more years of political flatulence, incompetent governance and futility. Quality politicians and good government appear an unobtainable dream and Paul Keating’s ‘Australian Banana Republic’ a preordained fate.
But, who knows, perhaps the horse may sing!
- Australian Parliament speaker steps down (upi.com)