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Canberra Today 6°/7° | Friday, July 1, 2022 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

The time for political head kicking has passed

Anthony Albanese caricature by Paul Dorin

“As many of us who have used Access Canberra will attest, a system that was originally designed to provide better access to government has become a money saving device,” says political columnist MICHAEL MOORE.

THE politics of co-operation has been a hallmark of pronouncements by Anthony Albanese during the election campaign and since becoming Prime Minister. 

Michael Moore.

However, the challenge ahead of him will be to get the Liberals under Peter Dutton to play politics according to his rules.

It takes two to tango. It was not so long ago that Kevin Rudd called for a “kinder, gentler” politics when he was sworn in for his second stint as prime minister. History has taught us that over the previous years, when he was grumpy about being displaced by Julia Gillard, he was prepared to play a game of hardball rather than practicing “kinder and gentler” politics.

As opposition leader Albanese did not have the sort of “head-kicking” reputation that was assigned to Tony Abbott when he was liberal leader of the opposition. Under Abbott, the coalition government adopted the Tea Party approach from US politics to oppose for opposition’s sake and take every chance to challenge the government.

The downside was that the interests of the nation and the people of Australia were not the priority. Unfortunately, this hardline approach crept into Australian politics for a number of decades. The losers through the period were the Australian people.

A co-operative approach was used as part of the Labor Party campaign. Albanese and his senior party members indicated on a number of occasions their willingness to support good ideas presented by the Liberals. This was true, for example, on national security and border protection.

It is time for political parties to put the wellbeing and best interests of Australia first rather than to prioritise them over the best interests of the political party that they happen to represent. 

The approach of “what is in the best interests of our party is in the best interests of the people” needs to be assigned to the incinerator of history.

With Labor having a slim majority in the House of Representatives, and a likely fairly supportive Senate, the temptation for Dutton will be to follow in the path established by Abbott. 

However, this is a different political era, as has been demonstrated by the outcome of the election, with both major parties failing to secure anywhere near the sort of support that they would have expected.

PUTTING the interests of the people above the party also has lessons for the ACT Legislative Assembly. There is an opportunity for the Canberra Liberals to introduce legislation and seek support from either the Greens or Labor (or both) in order to serve the best interests of the community.

Retiring MLA Giulia Jones, in her valedictory speech, pointed to her “unfinished business”, releasing an exposure draft of a Bill that will deal with the issue of Post Traumatic Stress Injury amongst frontline workers in the Territory. 

The Public Sector Workers Compensation Fund Amendment Bill 2022  – Exposure Draft, for example, has been made available on the ACT Legislation Register and requires the minister to set a code of practice for any claims managers the territory uses to manage claims.

As she retires from the Legislative Assembly, Jones has demonstrated the importance of focusing on the needs of particular groups within the community. 

If Chief Minister Andrew Barr wishes to be supportive of the approach taken by the new Labor prime minister he ought to move quickly to find a way to support such legislation and give credit where it is due.

For too long the interests of the party and special-interest groups, such as large developers, have been put ahead of the interests of Canberrans. 

IN a similar way, as many of us who have used Access Canberra will attest, a system that was originally designed to provide better access to government has become a money saving device. The reality is that Access Canberra has made it harder and harder for Canberrans to reach government.

The recent federal election has demonstrated that the style of politics of the first two decades of this century is on the nose. Trust has deteriorated and the interests of the community have been put on the back burner. 

Hopefully the message, that this is unacceptable, will get through to all of our elected representatives.

Michael Moore is a former member of the ACT Legislative Assembly and an independent minister for health. He has been a political columnist with “CityNews” since 2006.

 

 



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Michael Moore

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