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I remembered I needed to read the book at about the time Tony Abbott told radio talk host Ray Hadley the best kind of energy policy was one that manufactured a partisan point of difference with Labor—and when a bunch of conservative politicians were out telling the voters not to trust politicians during the postal survey on same sex marriage. A political friend had wandered past my desk and presented me with a paperback called .‘I thought you might be interested in this,’ he said, with a chuckle. But at that moment I was in the grip of another parliamentary sitting fortnight and the 24/7 intensity we now manage in shrinking newsrooms up and down the parliamentary press gallery—the daily ‘much ado about not very much’.But while I am deeply concerned about the state of our politics, and worried by the deep anger and disaffection that bubbles around it, I also need to acknowledge that there are plenty of people in politics who are attempting to go to work and do their jobs.
The process was creating a shrill cacophony of acrimony, professional victimhood and weaponised cynicism.
A frustrated Tasmanian DJ was sufficiently moved by ‘half a skinful’ and his self-confessed profound dislike of Tony Abbott to headbutt the former prime minister on the street.
So my new paperback sat undisturbed, and challenging me, as it got sprinkled with paper and post-it notes, like autumnal compost, then uncovered and discovered once again.
It sat as my frustration mounted, mired in Canberra’s deep stupid.
She says: People tell me all the time that they are dissatisfied with what we are doing and how we are doing it.
Up to 50 per cent of young Australians are now ambivalent at best about democracy, which is a very unhealthy place for this nation to be in.
Compounding the horror from my vantage point, people took to social media in droves to cheer the assailant on. That’s no longer news, a shock or even much of an insight.
The suboptimal state of our politics prompted me to consider in the winter issue of whether balanced people can continue to sustain themselves in public life, or whether the vocation of politics has now become hostile territory for humans.
This shift can create a genuine crisis of purpose for traditional politics.
‘We’ve got to find new ways to engage with voters on things that actually matter to them.’ When I asked Andrew Giles whether or not he agreed we were entering post-partisan or post-tribal territory, he said: ‘I’d like to think we can be ideological and post tribal, which goes to the core of our challenge.’ So while we might be inclined to see our politicians as uniformly self-indulgent, narcissistic, destructive and unfulfilling, there are still people in the system thinking about contemporary challenges—people who haven’t forgotten the voters are out there.