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Our politicians are destroying faith in our political system

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Cartoon by Mark David / @MDavidCartoons

A long list of scandals, ignorance and corruption has resulted in a general apathy towards both sides of the political spectrum, writes Tarric Brooker.

AS THE RECENT New South Wales bushfires raged, it seemed self-evident that there would be some sort of political reckoning for Prime Minister Scott Morrison. That somehow there would be a political cost for his office declining the requests of 23 former Fire and Emergency services chiefs to plead their case to him regarding the upcoming bushfire season.

But in reality, there has been no real cost to his standing with the public or the Coalition’s position in the polls. In fact, the Morrison Government is now two points higher in the latest Newspoll compared with where they were before the worst of the bushfires started.

Is the alternative presented by the Labor Party and its leader Anthony Albanese so unappealing that there is almost no self-inflicted wound that will deal the Morrison Government any damage, or does it go deeper than that?

Have we as Australians reached a point where we have lost so much faith in our political class that we may continue to stick with the “devil we know”?

There is certainly a growing body of evidence to support that claim. A poll conducted by the Australian National University as part of its Australian Election Study found that a record-high 75% of voters believed that politicians look after themselves, compared with just 25% who said politicians could be trusted.

The same study also concluded that just 12% of voters believed that the country was governed in the interests of all the people, with 56% stating that the Government was run to benefit “a few big interests”.

In the world of “working-class Australia”, where three-hour round trip commutes, a lack of job security and a skyrocketing cost of living are all increasingly commonplace, all has not been well for a long time, except it often seems like no one in Canberra has realised it.

Despite the obvious differences in ideology between the parties across the political spectrum, there has been one phrase that has united the vast majority of Australian’s in recent years: “politicians are all the same at the end of the day”.

Whether this is assertion is right or wrong, it really doesn’t matter. It illustrates a profoundly frustrated electorate that is sick of having its views and needs ignored by the political system. Whether it’s the voter's desire to abandon the surplus in favour of saving jobs or cutting immigration to provide relief for overstretched infrastructure, the majority view of the electorate is often ignored.

Where we go from here as a nation is a question no one really has an answer to. But if we are to continue down this road of an ever-widening gulf between the actions of politicians and the views of a majority of the public, history tells us that it will take us nowhere good.

Tarric Brooker is a freelance journalist and political commentator. You can follow Tarric on Twitter @AvidCommentator.

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