Could artifice (finally) be on the way out?

Based on a good thread over at LP, I watched the Kerry O’Brien interview with Tony Windsor, Rob Oakeshott and Bob Katter.

Remarkable. I can’t remember the last time I so enjoyed watching politicians. Perhaps never. Intelligence, humour, apparent integrity and, more than anything, naturalness. It’s so refreshing as to be almost shocking.

The general buzz on the LP thread seems to be quietly optimistic, and very curious about what’s to come. Amen. If the independents keep it together, the high artifice that’s come to characterise party politics here might finally become the deadly handicap it always should have been.

Hard to see all this doing any harm, that’s for sure.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
11 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ken Parish
Ken Parish
11 years ago

Yes my reaction to Kerry’s interview with the 3 Independents was similar. Even Bob Katter, who has previously seemed somewhere between wildly eccentric and completely loopy, came across as sincere, passionate and mostly vaguely sensible (well, perhaps not when rabbiting on about ethanol and 60 million people in north Queensland, but you know what I mean).

That interview was the main reason why I started musing idly about PR (see my thread below). It seems like an obvious way to open up the political process to a more diverse and interesting range of viewpoints and approaches than those of the sterile apparatchiks who now dominate the 2 major parties. Sadly, as DD points out, neither major party is likely to agree. Thus it’s fairly likely that the era of the colourful Independent in federal government will be short but entertaining, unless the Greens manage to parlay their current substantial bridgehead into an expanding fortified redoubt which makes it harder and harder for either of the 2 main parties to gain a Reps majority in their own right even without any change in the electoral laws. They may well achieve that in due course if the 2 major parties continue to adopt an overt “hollow men” approach to maximise appeal to the outer suburban disengaged aspirational brigade.

Ingolf
Ingolf
11 years ago

I do know what you mean, Ken. Only last night, I had Katter lumped in the nutter category, and truth is I would probably disagree, quite possibly vehemently, with many of his policies. Still, after watching the interview this morning, I withdrew the nutter categorisation unreservedly. It was just uninformed prejudice on my part.

Nice analogy with the bridgehead and (hopefully) its eventual expansion into a fortified redoubt. I’ve now read your post and the comments, and offered a brief comment myself.

Yobbo
11 years ago

I withdrew the nutter categorisation unreservedly. It was just uninformed prejudice on my part.

Of course if he didnt have the balance of power you and most lefties would probably just continue to slag him – and all other rural conservatives – off as nutters.

You people are really sickening, and you’re about as subtle as Julia’s election night begging.

Ingolf
Ingolf
11 years ago

Ah, Yobbo. You shouldn’t presume. And maybe you should read a little more carefully.

“You lefties”? I obviously can’t speak for Ken, but I live in a Queensland rural electorate and this time I voted for the independent candidate, who’s a grazier. Not because I was especially taken with his policies, but because I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either of the majors and he seems a straightforward, hardworking and honest man.

I also think a lot more independents in parliament would be a good thing, real independents with a wide variety of viewpoints. Like Windsor, Oakeshott, Wilkie and, yes, Katter. I guess things could swing too far that way, but that day (in the unlikely event it ever arrives) is a long way off.

Yobbo
11 years ago

Where you live and who you voted for is irrelevant, the fact is you just naturally assume rural conservatives are nutters. Whereas I’m guessing you would never assume that about a greens candidate.

Ingolf
Ingolf
11 years ago

I take back the “maybe”. You definitely should read a bit more carefully.

Luke Elford
Luke Elford
11 years ago

Ingolf, I don’t think putting Bob Katter in the “nutter” category was uninformed prejudice on your part. He’s clearly decided to tone things down in this interview, realising that he has to if he’s to be taken seriously outside his electorate. But that is just more artifice. Certainly, his performance in this interview was much more competent than on election night, when he was barely comprehendible for the most part. The one thing you can say for him is that at least he’s honest in his intent: his sole interest is in representing the industries in his electorate at the cost of consumers in the rest of the country and the environment. But that doesn’t sound very refreshing to me.

On the other hand, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott—particularly Rob Oakeshott—seem to take the responsibility that comes with the incredible influence that they have suddenly assumed very seriously, and this is very heartening.

Patrick
Patrick
11 years ago

I am always reluctant to consider someone who gets elected several times, let alone in a single-member electorate, a nutter.

I find it hard to apply this rule to greens though.

Ingolf
Ingolf
11 years ago

Yes, probably a useful rule of thumb Patrick, at least in a country as relatively sane as ours.

Stephen
Stephen
11 years ago

(Despite the fact that it won’t happen) I also genuinely think the adoption of PR in the lower house would be a backward step. The lower house is based on the concept of local representation and I can’t see any reason why this concept is flawed.

I actually think this election heralds the next evolution of the Oz political system. With a decreasing percentage of ‘rusted-on’ voters, independents will have the opportunity to play an increasing role in politics.

Parties will always exist in some form or another. But we should be seeing the quiet death of parties getting away with putting rubbish candidates in safe seats.

The ALP and Coalition have always gone as far to the right or left (respectively) as possible when presenting a policy platform. The logic is obvious: capture swinging voters while assuming people further away from the median consensus of the major parties will stay ‘within the tent’.

But the Greens and to a lesser extent, the WA Nationals have shown the folly of this approach. Any minor party or independent who can reflect the true character of an electorate can start to steal votes at the edges. Just a 20% primary vote (as with Wilkie) can be enough to swing the result — thanks to the preferential system.

You won’t get see these individual characteristics of an electorate reflected in PR, which tends to smooth out regional differences into an averaged mush in the party.

So I say: bring on the Katters!

Tel
Tel
11 years ago

As explained by Zorro:

A nobleman is nothing but a man, who says one thing and thinks another.

Yobbo blames “lefties” and unfairly punished Ingolf for striving towards self-improvement. However, I’ve encountered similar attitudes from many quarters — a strange idea that to be devious is to be clever, to smoothly and seamlessly maintain hypocritical double standards is to be sophisticated; and the converse belief that to speak your mind directly is oafish and the mark of a simpleton. It’s not a trait of “lefties”, it’s a trait of a whole class of people who’s most lofty goal is to fool their fellow man into acting against his own interests.

Intelligence, humour, apparent integrity and, more than anything, naturalness. It’s so refreshing as to be almost shocking.

The thing is that devious people inevitably betray themselves, maybe not every time they speak but it comes out in the whole atmosphere of the conversation eventually. Country people (and most of their representatives) tend to say what they think and communicate a genuine idea rather than hammering everything into the shape of an ideology.

Bob Katter wants to put ethanol into the fuel tanks. I doubt he believes for a moment that Global Warming is the biggest moral imperative of our time, but he is completely open about the fact that his job is to represent sugar farmers, of course he wants to sell ethanol.

My prediction is that all three of these guys will give Julia her chance to be PM for three years and in return they will demand that NBN be rolled out in their regions before it gets rolled out in the cities (make sure the fibers are in the ground first, worry about how and who later on), maybe shake out some health spending where possible. Their stand may embolden some other National Party members to think about the balance of loyalty to their party vs loyalty to their regions — as Tony Windsor pointed out, the Nats are a dying party, there are only 7 of them left in parliament and they are unlikely to get much value out of Tony Abbott so what do they have to lose?