Politicians come and politicians go, whether it be the Prime Minister of Australia or the lowliest councillor in the most unimportant local authority in the land. It really makes little difference what party they belong to or support, it doesn’t matter in the least whether they are worthy of the job or not (and how many are!) and being in a particular part of the nation doesn’t help either. Every few years all of them have to stand up to be counted, in one election or another, trying to convince everyone of the great services they have performed for their communities in the past, and the immense plans they have for the future. But for most of them, their hold on the office they have, or the one they hope to win, can be very tenuous to say the least, (as much as anything because of the dreadful reputations many politicians have, rightly or wrongly, in the eyes of the public!).
The ordinary man or woman in the street has become increasingly cynical about politicians, especially since information has become so much more available, through radio, television and especially, the internet. More than a century ago the only information available came largely from the politicians themselves. Couple this with the fact that only men could vote, and even they were restricted to the ones who owned land, the world of politics was more a sort of club, like Freemasonry, than the business it is today. But now, we can all watch ‘Parliamentary Question Time’ virtually every afternoon on the television, as well as hearing reports of what our leaders are up to in news and current affairs broadcasts, and I don’t really think many of us like what we see!
So the politicians’ hold on power isn’t quite what it used to be – but does that make any difference to the way the country is run, is Australia under a Liberal Coalition really controlled very differently from the way it is when Labor are in power? Apart from some minor differences regarding who gets served best by whichever party is running the show, there’s not a lot to choose between them. So why is this? What is the factor that keeps the Country carrying on existing; almost without change whichever party is in charge? Who are the people who ‘keep the wheels turning’, ‘the wagons rolling’ and the ‘motors running’?
The answers to these questions are fairly straight-forward and simple. This country is really run, not by the ephemeral politicians, but by a body of individuals we hear very little about, people who aren’t elected by us at all, men and women who usually hold their jobs until the time of their retirement. If they are ‘elected’ to their jobs at all, it is by their fellow peers, not by the public, and once in, they are there for good and they hold immense power, hopefully for the benefit of us all!
They are, of course, the civil servants, private secretaries, and heads of Ministries (shades of “Yes Minister of TV fame!). They are the ones who decide most of the policies by which we are governed, the important issues which don’t change with changes of government. They control, to a large extent the purse strings of government, they decide what form of defence we require and they are the ones who provide the information governments’ need, on a vast range of mainly political, subjects.
Yet it actually seems to be a system that works surprisingly well (until now at least), and we have to hope that these hidden heads are wise ones, especially in a world that changes so rapidly, due to the wonders of internet, email and social media, something the gurus of previous generations never had to deal with.