Policy is not that important to voters anymore

Negative election campaigns are becoming the norm, but it doesn't make it right.

The recent New South Wales, Queensland and even Federal elections have rattled governments and oppositions, with minority parties picking up significant seats with only a soapbox to stand on and few if any policies for governing.

Prime Ministers have been positioned for ousting while the Greens and the Palmer United Party have been enjoying time in the sun with many in the media saying there has been a primeval shift in the political landscape to a place where policy and strategy are now no longer anywhere near as important as emotion and melodrama. And it is this that we want to discuss today. Should politics really be allowed to descend into a battle of emotional issues using social media or should it be forced to address policy and how can we bridge the gap so political parties are judged on what they really plan to achieve rather than how much outpouring they can create?

In the NSW election, this weekend just gone, the greatest shock is not to the Liberals, but rather to Labor, coming from the loss of two inner Sydney seats to the Greens. The seats of Newtown and Balmain are being hard-felt with speculation that the seats were lost to the NIMBY brigade who pitted themselves against the LNP’s planned construction of infrastructure between the city and the airport that would add traffic to the areas. Bear in mind the Greens did not have alternate policy, but instead just fought against policy.

Sam Crosby, the leader of the McKell Institute, has controversially called the Greens “a cancer”. He commented in The Australian that Labor’s policy development is lagging allowing the Greens to campaign unchecked. It is an interesting debate. In last weekend’s election, Labor lost the seat of Newtown spectacularly to the Greens, with the Greens at 46.5 to Labor’s 30.5 per cent. And Labor heartland, Balmain, the place the party was founded nearly 120 years ago, has fallen to the Greens candidate Jamie Parker, picking up the seat again.

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In Queensland’s recent election it was apparent to most that the Labor team who were awarded a minority opportunity to govern did not get there through the delivery of a solid platform for delivery, but instead they won because the LNP Government in power before them lost the trust and faith of their electorates. The lack of policy is causing Queensland some angst now with the Premier spending precious time rehiring an entire bureaucracy before her team commences work for the term.

But ultimately, what it comes back to is the impact of the changing communications environment. Can it be enough to vote for a party on their emotive stance against issues if they have a lack of policy to deal with governing our states and countries? Is this the way of the future?


Why do you think that policy has fallen by the wayside in politics today and what do you think we can do about it?