What is the point of politicians?

The Australian political system provides me with no end of frustrations and the desire to bang my head on a rock directly correlates with my engagement with the #auspol hashtag.

What frustrates me more than any political conduct is the fact that as a country we not talking about solutions to fix a system that is fundamentally broken and underserving the very people it was designed to “benefit”… 100 years ago.

I could write this article about how the white male farmers who by and large came up with the bastardised version of the Westminster system 100 years ago, who if we resurrected today would most certainty scoff at the fact we’ve made incredible advancements in technology, in our understanding of the world, in the way we communicate — and yet here we are, suffering under more or less the same the governance model they created for a small amount of people, for a time that has long past. But this article is not that story.

Instead I want to explore the role of politicians in modern Australia.

So first, lets talk about the best case scenario for the future of Australia. For me at least, it would be that Australia is the best country in the world to raise happy, educated, resilient future generations, that we as a whole population are peaceful, tolerant, feel connected to our communities and our country. That we as a whole are healthy, because we can boast world leading healthcare, education systems, that we are safe, we are able to enjoy leisure time and reap the benefits of a fair tax system that no longer funds poor decision making and mediocre public outcomes.

If we want to be the best country in the world, then we need to make the best decisions in the world, and to do that we need to attract the most experienced, forward-thinking talented minds to decision making roles.

We need to attract people who aren’t afraid to look around the world at policies and practices that are working well, and work with their peers on strategies to replicate positive outcomes in Australia.

We need to attract people who are keen to make difficult, well informed decisions designed to improve our country. People who aren’t there for self-interest, power or ego, who are not influenced by party agenda, distracted by newspol feedback or party politics.

Let’s take Healthcare for example. Australia’s current Health Minister, Greg Hunt, has little to no previous experience in the Healthcare sector. Like the vast majority of politicians, he trained as a lawyer and throughout university and his time on a kibbutz in Israel he worked in warehouses, as a metal worker and as a fruit picker. He has a Master of Arts in International Relations and has been the Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for the Environment and Heritage and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Shadow Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Urban Water, Minister for the Environment, Minister for Health and the Minister for Sport. Was he appointed Health Minister because he is one of the best people in Australia to make critical decisions for the management of our Healthcare? I’m comfortable to say no, his appointment more likely reflects how well he has played the game politically.

Australians need to ask themselves why and how key decision makers for essential portfolios like Health, Education, Defence, Business are appointed to their roles, if indeed experience in said field is not deemed essential.

Australians then need to ask themselves what kind of people do they want to be making key decisions about the future of Australian healthcare?

Australians then need to ask themselves what kind of people do they want to be making key decisions about the future of Australian healthcare? Should it be one key person or should it be a Board? I personally like the idea of appointing a Board of well-experienced, future-thinking healthcare leaders to make key decisions about the management and future management of Australia’s healthcare system.

So let’s explore this further. What if we scrap the House of Representatives, and gave away the idea that we need “to form Government”? What if the existing Government portfolios were governed like the Port Authorities, which are governed under an Act [the governance rules are set in law] and operate as corporatised entities, each with a board of directors that reports to the Australian public (like annual report) and the Australian Senate?

What if the Australian Senate were elected representatives who were able to keep all the “authorities” in check, and be the federal voice for the people?

Would that serve us better?

What if being a Senator was more like being a member of a Jury. An important role for the country, one that everyone can nominate to become, without having to align with a “party line” or have their views dictated or influenced by those who fund the party?

What is the point of a politician in modern Australia — and when will we start work on the evolution of our governance system?

Would love feedback or comments, always hungry to engage with the #auspol community

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