Policy is not that important to voters anymore 44



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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.

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? 

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Never forget The Greens have blocked this Abbott budget, so have gained themselves respect, Clive Palmer on the other hand allowed things to pass that he wanted and that affected him like the Mining and Carbon tax so he has lost ground. 2 and a half million people did NOT vote in the N.S.W election and will be fined, if they had voted this election might have taken a different turn. People are neither to the left nor the right any more..they are dead centre and that is why The Abbott Government will not be re-elected

  2. I think everyone is just fed up, The Greens are not out there belting people around the head. Australians are sitting on middle ground. In N.S.W The Liberals lost seats that have been safe in the past ..like Maitland and Port Stephens. I think the current Abbott Government is full of wishing thinking if they think N.S.W will be a template for the Federal Election.

  3. I think the political system is irreparably broken. We need a clean sweep. The LNP has moved away from it’s core ideology – so much so that past leaders quit the party in disgust. Labor no longer adheres to it’s traditional values. Politicians have become arrogant, selfish, and self-serving. They no longer see their role as to serve and they no longer put society and the nation first in their deliberations. Corruption runs unchecked. When not actually acting corruptly, they go as far to the grey area as is safe to support greed and unfairness that enriches them and their wealthy mates.
    Mr Hockey has now confessed that superannuation tax concessions to the rich are more problematical in the budget than pensions, but he says he needs a mandate to change things. He didn’t need a mandate to hit out at pensioners, but he can’t reduce unfair benefits to his rich mates unless public opinion compels him to.
    I think the Greens have won support because they demonstrate greater sincerity and are more ethical. They stand up for a belief – rightly or wrongly – that the environment and the quality of life matters more than productivity and profit. Maybe we have finally become disillusioned with the profit motive and materialism? We’ve certainly become fed up with politician’s ”snout in the trough” greed and selfishness and the childish rants that dominate political debate. It’s time for grown-ups to take charge – people who want to SERVE, people who to REPRESENT THEIR CONSTITUENTS, people who want to debate facts objectively and respectfully and govern for a healthy society. And I think it’s time for major policy decisions, like leasing the electricity grid, to be decided by referendum. I voted Green in NSW because I didn’t want the grid issue to be a choice between two parties. Why should I have to vote for a leader I don’t want in order to stop the leasing of the grid?
    We need a clean sweep – starting with abolishing all retirement benefits for politicians (who are more than able to earn a good living on retirement from politics without raiding the public purse) and the abolition of the two-party system.

  4. Political parties have changed so much now I don’t understand why people are loyal to a party just because they have always voted for them or maybe parents voted for them. Why don’t they look at their policies and see if they agree with them, are their policies good for them or Australia or the environment?
    Following a leader just because they look attractive & not checking all the party policies is a weakness & only lead to future problems, if the leader not up to the job.

  5. Politicians from back in the day would be ashamed of the incompetent, disinterested individuals who make up our parliament today. There is no cohesiveness amongst the parties. They spend most of their time shouting useless rhetoric and abuse at fellow parliamentarians. They spend tax payers money as if they personally earned it and have authority to give it to whoever and whenever they want. Policies are made to be broken depending on what mood the party is in. Seems to me that building Australia into a strong, industrial and influential nation is no longer a criteria. All we are is puppets and our strings are being pulled by whatever country our government of the time decides is the one we can get the most money or backing from at the time. It is a blessing that we have independents who can vote against some of the stupidity otherwise we would be in very dire straights.

  6. Took the words out of my mouth Carol! I did a protest vote against Labor this year in NSW, and it was gut wrenching! However the Greens were the only ones supporting the farmers in their fight against CSG Fracking and Mining. Labor waited right till the very end of the campaign and then said they’d have a moratorium! Well,just look at what’s happened in America,we don’t need a moratorium, this wicked and evil poisoning of our Water must end,full stop. The Good old days when Labor defined itself as FOR the people has got very blurry and I think a complete review of who they are and what they stand for needs to be put forward, and most of all don’t sell your soul to the devil for campaign funding! Couldn’t believe they voted with the government in favour of storing Meta Data! So, I will go for the party that cares equally for the Planet as much as for the people.

  7. I disagree strongly that policies don’t play a big part in politics today. Had Tony Abbott gone to the last election with announced plans to screw pensioners, raise taxes, kick the guts out of health and education and cut funds out of the ABC and SBS along with seeking approval to grant knighthoods to royals who wave nicely none of the furore that enveloped him would have occurred.

    4 REPLY
    • But that just proves that many people aren’t interested in policy. Abbott went to an election without any announced policy and won. How stupid are people? They deserve all they get (or don’t get).

    • Just where do people think money is coming from to just give away randomly like the ALP? Abbott has to be harsh or we will follow Greece and Spain

      1 REPLY
      • Creating knighthoods is not a waste of time and money? It all adds up.

  8. We have seen the disruption one policy parties can cause in the Senate. The Greens have a well documented range of policies, as do Liberal and Labor. Voting for personality rather than policy leads to trouble, in my opinion.

  9. I think people voting for the minority parties are having a protest vote, they don’t look at the policy’s of these parties. Most of the minor parties will never be able to win enough seats to govern and are only a thorn in the side of the 2 major parties.

    1 REPLY
  10. “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country” – JF Kennedy. Maybe some of our newer politicians need to take note?

  11. Labour is full of melodrama. Labour will spend all the money you have and when it runs out Labour will borrow till your bankrupt.

    6 REPLY
    • Leanna Stephenson – “There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead” said by Julia Gillard. Eddie Obeid stole $100,000,000 of tax payers money. Labour Union Leaders steel $400,000 of union money and Julia Gillard sets up the company to steel the money. Labour = thieves and liars.

    • And Liberals aren’t, Joe? Just watch Tony in full flow and tell me he’s not loving the limelight.

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