Allan Takes Aim Blog

Assemblies of the future

Posted on: 19 January 2011

First posted to The Chronicle, Tuesday 18 January,2011 

For the last seven years many in the community have opined that the leadership necessary to secure the future of Canberra and its citizens, old and young, has been absent from the Legislative Assembly. That was made clear at the 2008 election when they gave neither of the major parties permission to govern the ACT in their own right. However, come October 2012 if they decide the current arrangement – a minority Labor Government subservient to the Greens – is less than satisfactory, no doubt they will change it

Voting for the next Assembly could test the nerve of voters. Will they elect more Independents and minor parties to the Assembly thus making it necessary to have an Assembly that better represents the ACT’s wide variety of political opinion? That’s the $64,000 question

If they do, this would represent a significant political change but where better for it to happen than in the electorate not only claimed as the home of cultural diversity but also the cleverest in the nation.

That the average weekly wage in Canberra is also the highest in the nation is not due to it being the cleverest city in Australia but more to the fact that it is home to the National Parliament and many National institutions that need large numbers of well-paid bureaucrats to service them. Unlike other cities in Australia, the Capital did not develop its own wealth creation industries employing thousands of people.

 That said, let me say also that as the Independent Candidates and minor party candidates other than The Greens, attempt to gain representation, they should be prepared for a long, and perhaps a nasty fight because, if successful, the major parties will have to accept a wider range of ideas, such as has happened federally, albeit the minority Labor government accepted those with ill grace.

To be successful, however, the Independents and minor parties must make the wider community aware that their interests are low on the priority scale of some current MLAs and other prospective candidates from the major parties. They might think (they would be mistaken if they do) that just because the election is still some way away, they needn’t start their election campaign until later.

Regardless of what parties currently represented in the Assembly say, their campaigns for 2012 election have been under way since the 2008 election. They have also ramped them up since the 2010 federal election.

So let me say to those Independents and minor parties who intend contesting the next election: copy them. Do not delay the start of you campaigns any longer. You had better start now if you hope to be elected and contribute to making the changes necessary for the good governance of the ACT. 

However, a word of warning! Although I hold no brief for any party or candidate let me say it makes no sense simply to target current individual Members of the current Assembly and try to get rid of them because you do not agree with a particular policy. If their performance in the current Assembly has been to the benefit of the community, it is never wise to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

From the start of your campaign(s) you should make plain your views not only as to which of the current MLAs you would like to see replaced in the Assembly but why you would like them replaced. (I will identify the ones I think worth keeping in a later column.) When quizzed by the media, you should then be prepared to stand by what you say while containing your delight that they have seen fit to quiz you.

I wish I could say otherwise, but on occasion, the intentions of the media doing the quizzing is not so much about finding out what you think but designed to make you seem inadequate.         

So, unless you have something sensible to say, a constant presence in the media is unlikely to make voters think this a sign of your political ability. More than likely it will to bring to mind the old adage: ‘empty vessels make the most sound’ and also make them vote on that basis at the next election.

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5 Responses to "Assemblies of the future"

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