Why is terrorism the only thing that warrants bipartisanship from our parties?

Terrorism is something that shouldn’t ever happen. It ruins lives. Abuse is something that shouldn’t happen – physical, domestic, emotional or sexual. It ruins lives. Disease is something that shouldn’t happen. It ruins lives. Drug overdose is something that shouldn’t happen. It ruins lives. Mental illness is something that shouldn’t happen. It ruins lives. Poverty is something that shouldn’t happen. It ruins lives.

All of these things have that one element in common – they ruin lives. Yet for some reason Australian politics can’t see that clearly and because of that, lives are being ruined every single day. When the aim of policy is to make the lives of people better and give them a better quality of life, why can’t politicians fight for that? Why is there so little bipartisanship support? Why is terrorism the only thing that warrants bipartisanship from our politicians?

Last week the independent Parliamentary Budget Office released analysis that showed over $100 billion of savings over the next decade have yet to clear the senate. Of these measures were the changes to the paid parental leave scheme, the new childcare funding package, the indexation of the fuel excise, the pension changes, increases to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and the university efficiency dividend – a policy that was originally introduced by the Gillard Government but is now on the books as a Coalition government policy.

In August last year, three months after the first Liberal budget, it became apparent that Labor had backflipped on several of their own policies and were actually blocking $5.7 billion worth of savings that they had initiated. Why? No one really knew, except for the fact that the Liberal government wanted to push them through the senate and consider their government $5.7 billion better off over four years – an achievement in this economic climate. But the Labor party seemed like they simply couldn’t justify giving the Liberal government that merit – so they chose to cease their support for the policies.

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This year there has already been severe opposition to several parts of the budget that are expected to be blocked in the senate again. Yesterday Bill Shorten actually changed his position on the adjustments to the aged pension despite supporting them publicly just a month ago.

Chris Richardson from Deloitte Access Economics said last year that if budget measures don’t get passed the future of Australia gets put back to square one as far as deficits go. He said, “The economy is continuing to get worse, as far as its impact on the budget, and out politicians are continuing to bury their heads deeper in the sand. But in terms of overall dollars, the Senate has been worse for the budget than the economy has”.

The cuts to the paid parental leave scheme to fund a new childcare package has the potential to alleviate poverty for young families and give them the ability to work to care for their families. This helps to alleviate stress that can cause greater health complications for mothers and fathers. The changes to the PBS actually mean that medications for serious, life threatening illnesses including cancer now are available for a lot less. While the pension changes were undoubtedly tough on some, primarily those in the younger generation to ours, they leave those who are really struggling, who really don’t have means to look after themselves better off. Despite these benefits, they’re arguing about it all in the senate – Liberal vs Labor. And the question is, simply for what?

This simplifies a lot of the greater issues, yet the principal remains. Would it be too much to expect of the government and opposition to get along and do what is right for the Australian people? Are we asking too much for bipartisan support over things other than terrorism?

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The thing is that opposing budget measures is one thing if you have a better solution to the problem. But nobody has put forward better, alternative options. So if there’s no better alternative, shouldn’t we just get on with the job?

At the end of the day, what can be the biggest help for the most people is the right thing to do. Whatever can make peoples lives better and not ruin them, or save them from ruin, is what will help the future of our country. So why can’t we simply have cooperation in the name of a better Australia?

Tell us today, do you think the government and the opposition need to cooperate? Do you think the stubborn political war of power is making more problems than it’s creating? Do you think there’s something to blame? Share your thoughts in the comments below…