A Rotting Fish

There is an old saying that ‘a fish rots from the head down’. The adage is an appropriate one as Australians despair at the dysfunction and decay of their national government.

Any modicum of faith that mainstream voters had in their elected government has disappeared as the rotting stench of political deceit permeates from the Prime Minister down.

A wise man once told me that how you get into government is very important to your capacity to govern well. If short-term success is gained by trickery and deception, then that becomes the modus operandi through which you live your political life. If power is gained through political butchery then, like Lady Macbeth, the stain of blood on your hands can never truly be erased.

For Julia Gillard, the problem is multi-faceted. She deposed a popular first-term Prime Minister but tried to deny she was actively complicit in seeking the job. Her denials didn’t wash with the public and the legitimacy of her leadership has repeatedly been brought into question.

These doubts were reinforced during the election campaign of 2010 when she (and others) steadfastly maintained that there would be no carbon tax under a Labor government. We now know the world’s biggest carbon tax is only eight weeks away from being inflicted on the Australian economy. Gillard has never recovered from this outright deception.

In her desperate deal with the independent Andrew Wilkie, she promised poker machine reform and then did a tawdry deal with Peter Slipper to enable her to renege on the Wilkie deal. The Coalition warnings that the Slipper deal would end in tears have proved prophetic and further sullied the reputation of this government and the Prime Minister’s judgment.

While he is entitled to the presumption of innocence, Peter Slipper at least had the decency to stand aside from his role as Speaker while the investigations into the allegations are continuing. Not a single member of the government was prepared to make that case, further highlighting how bereft of moral fortitude they are.

I could go on. The waste of taxpayers’ money, the patronage of fringe causes, the spin and the outright lies have all contributed to a virtual evaporation of public confidence in our government.

While I understand that many Australians seem to have a love affair with loathing their politicians, they still expect their political leaders to ‘do the right thing’ and act in the national interest.

I have lost count of the number of times that people used to tell me how they didn’t really like John Howard but they voted for him because they trusted he would always put the national interest first. These same people now tell me how lucky we were to have had him!

Our nation is crying out for some semblance of respect to be returned to our federal government. The people have had enough of rudderless leadership and vacuous excuses for failure. Put simply, we cannot afford to continue in the same manner.

Business investment is drying up, family budgets are stretched to breaking point, the national debt ceiling is almost tapped out and people are worried about the future.

Not since the Whitlam years have we seen just how much damage a government can do in the space of only four years. I suspect it will be many years before the Australian people forget that fact and decide once again to trust Labor with our national accounts.

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