Who’s the Boss?

This week marks the end of summer holidays and a return to work for many Australians. Some, of course, will already be back in the saddle and others could still have a few more days of leave up their sleeve.

A new work year usually brings with it some personal commitments to do things a bit better, more efficiently or even to find a new job. Some will want to ditch the job entirely and go into business for themselves.

Politicians are no different. The year ahead offers an unbridled opportunity to advance constituent interests, prosecute a case against a struggling government and (in some way) try to make Australia a better place.

In doing so, I often remind myself about a couple of key differences between the political workplace and many others.

Firstly, political representation (to me) is a calling. Something draws people into the political world and all that it entails: the irregular hours, the reduced privacy and heightened accountability. For someone like me, fortunate enough to be involved in politics at a representative level, I couldn’t do what I do if I simply considered it to be a job. In fact, I don’t think I would ask my family to make the sacrifices they do if there wasn’t a burning desire to make a difference in the affairs of our nation.

There is also another big difference that is important for all elected representatives to remember. Most occupations usually require you to report to a person higher up the food chain. A manager reports to a senior manager, a CEO reports to a board and the board reports to the shareholders.

In politics, while you do report to those holding higher parliamentary positions, ultimately, whether backbencher or leader, you are a board member and you have to be accountable to your stakeholders – the voters.

In many respects it is the inverse accountability system. Sure, you might impress your senior colleagues but unless you can impress your electorate, political success can be short-lived.

This year will likely bring a test of that success. An election will scrutinise the undelivered promises made by a bureaucratic, bland and inconsistent Prime Minister against the genuine integrity and authenticity of Tony Abbott.

While the election will certainly be a battle between political bosses, we all need to be mindful that every electorate will be accountable to the true political masters – those who participate in our great democracy.

So at the start of a new year, it’s good for all of us to remember who the real boss is.

Just in case you are in any doubt, that real boss is you.

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Confidential Daily.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.