Monday, July 2, 2012

How to get there?

An Australian government made up of independent members would be very different to the status quo (except in Tasmania's upper house, where 13 of 15 members  are independents). In working out how to change that status quo, we need to consider why we have partisan government. The origins of political parties are manifold, and include "class struggle" (workers vs Capital), the manifestation of various philosophies (eg communism, fascism and the green movement), plus special interest groups, such as religious or sexual  or racist.

Political parties  persist because:

1. They are what we are used to
2. They have money - from donations (overt and covert)
                               - from allowances (public funding in Australia of > $2/vote received)
                               - from other sources
3. They provide their members moral support, and a sense of belonging to a team.
4. They are perceived as being the government, when they hold a majority
5. Their members and supporters place more emphasis on the differences between parties than on their shared values.

Addressing each of those factors:

1. We can get used to a new paradigm
2. Political funding needs a thorough overhaul, to ensure that our politicians are influenced by the wishes of their electorate, and NOT by vested interests that place more value on money and power than on fairness and sustainability. To this end, political funding needs to be severely constrained and transparent.
3. Independent MPs will all be part of the "government team". During transition from Partisan to Non-partisan government, an "Independents Association" could be the source of support, in the form of shared information and resources.
4. Again, we can get used to a new paradigm
5. The success of Independent government will depend on a major, sustained public education program highlighting the fact that peoples' shared values massively outweigh their differences.