Symptoms: High excitement, media frenzy, mixed messages, over-reaction, confused minds.
Cure: write down now in your diary for May 21, whether you will put your local MP top or bottom on your ballot paper. That way you will vote on the actual past performance of your local MP, the party that MP represents and the party leader.
If voters want good government they need to elect good members of Parliament. Being a good member of Parliament involves understanding what the voters want and why they want it, then knowing how to get government departments consultants and contractors to provide it.
Being a good member of Parliament involves being a good representative of the Australian voters. It does not require the skill of shadowboxing or fencing with media personalities who stick pins into politicians like a picador does to a bull.
Those members of the voting community who study the media or even just watch it for casual entertainment over the next six weeks, will unwittingly be influenced to vote in a certain way because of how the media presents one or other of the party leaders. Voters who are influenced in their voting pattern that way, are actually encouraging widespread corruption. They encourage big business leaders to donate hundreds of millions of dollars to political parties so that those parties can spread their message by advertising and public relations over the media, in the weeks leading up to the election. The sole purpose of that activity is to have the members of Parliament who are recipients of the large donations win their seats in parliament back again thanks to those donations.
Of course they will come up for re-election in three or four years time and if they do what the donors want in those few years, then the donors will probably donate hundreds of millions of dollars to them again. Should they not do what the donors want or, shock horror, do what the donors specifically do not want, those donations may not flow to them at all for the next election. It is as easy and logical as that! Politicians, without any desire on their part at all, are bribed and bullied by those who make big donations. The money donated is often recovered many times over when the donors are given ultra-profitable laws, contracts or consultancies worth many times the donations paid, all from the public purse.
Those voters who value good government and honest government will recognise that they are not electing the Prime Minister. They are electing or replacing their own local member of Parliament. It is important that they get to know their local member of Parliament and decide whether that is the sort of person who they would like to represent them and whether that person and their party are likely to do what those voters want if re-elected.
This is particularly important for voters who live in marginal electorates because those are the electorates where the local member can be changed by the way a small number of votes. In most safe seats it does not matter as much how any individual voter votes. It would take thousands of voters to change the result. But if the number of those who vote for the sitting member falls as a percentage of total votes cast, then that MP will lose favour with the party who has endorsed them. If their voting percentage continues to fall in successive elections that electorate might go to an MP from a different party. Voters in safe seats are in an ideal position to vote against the sitting member if they disagree with what that MP, their party or their party leader has done. Those voters can do so without any fear that the end result will change any other result.
So it looks like a long six weeks ahead of in Australia where the media will hope to excite and entertain people and flog advertisers’ products by poking the political bears in order to provoke a response that amuses voters. What that really does is make our members of Parliament, who are just ordinary Australians just like the rest of us, look to be somewhat stupid. Voters may recognise that they too could easily say the wrong thing or transpose figures, when questioned by 10 or 20 journalists. They will understand that what happens in the next six weeks will not show us anything of any great value about how good the candidates would be at governing.
More important than how to vote, is perhaps how to influence the Parliament when elected to do what you want. In 1986 I invented the Votergram which gives each individual Australian great personal power to influence what government does, Thanks to our excellent but much-maligned Members of Parliament. It works through polite, persistent political persuasion, in the relative privacy of Parliament. No matter who gets elected on May 21 each Australian, regardless of how unimportant or poor they might consider themselves to be, has enormous power to influence the course of society by the use of the simple Votergram. Anyone interested can learn more by going to Votergrams.com.au or emailing me, email@example.com
There is in Australia a quite erroneous impression in the community that democracy provides fair and just government. Those who have studied any amount of history will probably know that very few governments of any kind in the past 2000 years have automatically provided fair and just government. The fact is that democracy simply provides voters with the opportunity to enjoy fair and just government. It is often said that “one gets out of life what one puts in” and the same certainly applies to democracy and our modern society. Those who put in the time and effort in the most strategic way, will almost always influence government to do what they want. Those who sit quietly at home dreaming that government will do what they want even though they have never informed the Parliament of what that is, are often living a nightmare.
There are several steps necessary to achieve good government that will provide the desired benefit to each individual. It helps if it also provides a benefit to the broad community, whether that be at a local level or a national level.
The first step is for the voter in question to tell every member of Parliament what that voter wants and explain why. It is necessary to tell every member of Parliament because if the voter just goes to their local member there is a 50-50 chance that the local member will agree or disagree, then a 50-50 chance that the local member will or will not do anything about it. There is a far smaller chance that the local member will achieve what is wanted. The latter is because the Parliament consists of around 100 to 200 MPs and one local MP is highly unlikely to be able to persuade the Parliament to do anything. That is particularly because half the people in parliament are political opponents for power. It is no good going to the minister, because the minister does not even read the mail. However if a voter has sent a Votergram to every member of Parliament then the MPs will be warmed up to the concept when the local member raises the matter in parliament. If the suggestion from the voter is a good and fair from a general viewpoint then there is no reason why the members of Parliament or a majority of them would not adopt it.
The main reason that they would not adopt it would be if someone else more powerful was opposing it. In FairGO we find that the major reason people come to us complaining that the government has not done what they want, is that someone else is pulling the government in the opposite direction. Whoever influences the parliamentarians the most invariably gets what they want done. Many of those disappointed with government have not been aware that they need to invest more time, effort and money to achieve their goal.
The reason that the big business community often seems to control government is that the people running major corporations are well aware that they must spend large amounts of time effort and money on influencing government if they want government decisions that are going to increase their profitability and pay packets. That is why they collectively donate hundreds of millions of dollars to political parties, spend vast amounts of time and money on professional lobbyists to persuade politicians to do what they want and are careful to build very good relationship with politicians of all major parties.
However despite the millions of dollars of money available to big business to persuade parliamentarians to have government do what they want, the voters themselves hold more of the aces. In most cases they do not play them at all and in many cases they do not even recognise them as aces. There are about 17 million voters in Australia. If one in every 100,000 of those voters worked together for any one cause they would probably win it. If one in every 10,000 worked together they would absolutely ACE the multi-million-dollar donors. FairGO has proven that over and over again.
There is no reason any more for people to protest on the streets. That is just another form of bullying a bit like making a huge donations. What FairGO promotes is voters taking the time to explain to all members of Parliament what is wanted and explain exactly why it is wanted. There is a good deal of strategy required in persuading politicians and that is quite reasonable. The members of Parliament want to be convinced that what is suggested is good, fair and worthwhile for the Australian people, or at least not bad for them. Unions and professional bodies fail so often because they only deal with the bureaucrats and ministerial staff. The do better when they deal with the people who depend on their votes for their jobs.
Even if the request is just for a new hospital or school hall or is for learning support for one disabled child or a hospital bed for a parent in urgent need of care, it is important for the voter making the request to explain it carefully to each member of Parliament so that at least one of them will pick it up.
Years ago when I was writing an article for a magazine on sales tax I needed some information from the tax office about the law. I had been a practising Chartered Accountant and Tax Agent for many years and felt that the tax office would willingly and easily give me the information by phone. However the tax officer to whom I spoke refused to give me the information, suggesting instead that I ask a car dealer. Instead I sent a brief Votergram asking members of Parliament whether they could help me with the information. I knew my local member of Parliament quite well.
I sent the Votergram on a Thursday and the following week I received a package from a Graeme Campbell, the member for Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, who I had never heard of. He kindly sent me all the information that I needed. My local member of Parliament did not bother to answer my Votergram. The fact was that my local MP then became irrelevant to me. It just showed the benefit to me of asking everyone and it was a real eye-opener to find that someone I had never heard of right across the other side of Australia had decided to help me with no possible gain to himself.
I then sent another Votergram seeking an investigation. That gave the Tax Officer an opportunity to explain his lack of assistance to a Public Service tribunal.
I guess when I started dealing with difficult government I too had a fairy tale view that the people in government would do the right thing and help voters. I was taught an abrupt lesson to the contrary. But what I have discovered in the intervening years is that there are very many extremely helpful politicians in our Parliament and that it is mainly a case of us telling them what we want and explaining why, that determines whether they will do what we want or not. Of course it is unrealistic to expect that the Parliament would vote to do something that they had not been asked to do. We should recognise that members of Parliament are not psychic, able to read our minds. Nor are they our leaders. They are our elected representatives to a voting forum called Parliament. They are there to represent us, something many of them are very good at doing. A totally false view of politicians is projected by the media highlighting every tiny fault that they make and failing to mention any of the sensational good things they do.
Good government depends more on us voters engaging with our elected representatives in Parliament than it does on them doing the right thing themselves. FairGO’s Votergrams provide a very easy quick and cheap way for every Australian voter to communicate effectively with all members of Parliament in order to inform them. We can identify needs that they cannot because we are out there in the community living relatively unsheltered lives. We actually know from our daily experiences what needs to be done.
Please try to ignore the media circus and vote for or against your local member of Parliament on the basis of whether they have done what you wanted them to do or not during their past term of office.