Tuesday, January 09, 2007

PRSA comments on Sen Faulkner remarks

Sen Faulkner made some notable remarks in Oct 2005:: “In Australia today there is a dangerous indifference to politics accompanied by a simmering resentment of politicians. Citizens who haven't enough interest in the democratic process to stay even vaguely informed of the issues of the day have only one profound political conviction: that politicians can't be trusted. Politicians show reciprocal cynicism in an electoral climate where a lie about mortgage rates has more impact than the truth about lies. Our democracy is drowning in distrust.”

“Undemocratic practices are often blamed on factions and factionalism. There is nothing inherently wrong or undemocratic about like-minded people voting together to maximise their chances of success. It is, after all, the principle of Party politics. When such groupings are based not on shared beliefs but on shared venality, factionalism goes bad. When factional interests are put ahead of the Party's interests, the Party rots.

"As Party membership declines, the influence of factional warriors increases. They maximise their influence by excluding those who disagree, not through leadership and persuasion. Those who defer to the powerbrokers are rewarded with positions in the Party and with employment. This is not factionalism. It is feudalism, and it is killing the ALP.”

“Today, as trash tabloids and opinion-for-hire commentators destroy any semblance of a debate of ideas, the principle of informed decision-making at the heart of the ideal of democracy drowns beneath racy headlines and print-now, retract-later coverage. Radio shock-jocks and shallow television infotainment do the same.”

PRSA comment: "Many supporters of proportional representation are motivated by the fairness of balanced outcomes everywhere accurately reflecting voters’ views. Most Hare-Clark advocates especially value the importance of voter influence on election day. Because there are no safe seats to be allocated through backroom deals, and hence no guaranteed short-cuts into Parliament under Hare-Clark, there are no incentives for branch stacking and other unsavoury practices that regularly go hand-in-hand with single-member electorates."

As many positions as practically possible should be elected by PR including Robson rotation with no 'above the line' voting. The latter two provisions put the power of the vote in the hands of the voters where it belongs, and removes the tremendous importance of internal party preselection or pre-positioning on the party list. This simple reform of itself would go a long way to combatting the evils of factionalism and 'backroom boys' that Sen Faulkner spoke of.