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The Forum > General Discussion > The Bennelong conundrum speaks of a deeper problem in our democracy.

The Bennelong conundrum speaks of a deeper problem in our democracy.

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The plot thickens
Today the PM refused to rule out quitting politics if he wins his seat of Bennelong but his Government loses this year's election.
What does this mean for Howard voters in Bennelong?

Will they still vote for a PM knowing that he will most likely retire if the coalition wins another term in office?

Do they care that they will be voting for another bi-election?

On a broader perspective will a vote for Howard mean a vote for Costello as the next PM?

But hang on. Just how important is this in the longer term?
Love or hate Howard this indecision is illustrative of an unhealthy democratic system of representation bloated by its polarizing culture of electioneering every three years.

This is not participatory democracy. This is of how we are sidetracked from discussing and interrogating policy. Howard has been reelected many times over in the seat of Bennelong not because he was a wonderful member but because it was convention a convention many other politicians in seats with large margins rely on every three years.

Surely participatory democracy is more than casting a vote every three years?

What do you think?
Posted by Rainier, Friday, 28 September 2007 6:46:25 PM
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I live in Bennelong (East Ryde), and I honestly think we could be in for a shock here, with Howard being booted out. Not only because of the politics, but also I think the boundaries have changed since last time, with a lot more ALP voters now likely.

Also a good ALP candidate, Maxine McKew, is really trying to engage with the local electorate - I've been invited to two public meetings in my local area, and she seems to be putting in the hard yards.

Interesting with Howard - the only good thing anyone ever says about him is on the economy, for which I think he takes an awful lot of credit to Hawke, plus the resources boom.

I think workchoices and the last two interest rate rises have just killed his chances.

For me personally however, the issue is Iraq. I'm naturally a conservative voter, but ignoring everything else, I just can't vote for someone who supported an action that killed so many innocent people whilst being founded on a complete lie.

just my two cents.

gw
Posted by gw, Saturday, 29 September 2007 11:07:39 PM
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Are you saying that people felt obligued to vote for Howard because of some kind of convention?

Some ideas for electoral reform:

http://www.ozpolitic.com/electoral-reform/electoral-reform.html#direct-democracy
Posted by freediver, Sunday, 30 September 2007 3:21:29 PM
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Thanks Freediver,

I suppose direct democracy or a hybrid version of it would solve some of the problem.

We get presented with a myriad of policies (both aspirational and other) but never really engage in the details.

Put into consideration that the tempo and issues even under this system are all driven by media and those who own it and we have a system that is more akin to voting in Australian idol than a liberal democracy.

Labor or Liberal, both are not going to question this system as both have learnt to advantage from it.

It is not ironic that a media star is being put up against Howard in Bennelong.

According to a 2006 Roy Morgan poll, over 80 per cent of journalists oppose the new media laws on the grounds that it will lower the quality and diversity of news coverage. Seventy-one per cent thought that the changes would give media owners too much influence over the political agenda.

Whoever wins Bennelong will be favoured by the media.
Posted by Rainier, Sunday, 30 September 2007 6:23:39 PM
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"Today the PM refused to rule out quitting politics if he wins his seat of Bennelong but his Government loses this year's election."

How often does a leader of a party who loses power stay the full term?

My impression is that most quit their seats rather than stay on in the backbench or the opposition benches. Beazley is the only recent example of a head of a political party who has stayed for a sustained period after losing the position who I can think of.

I'd prefer to see election to parliment treated as a contract with penalties to apply for leaving before the end of contract. We could have an opt out clause for unforseen health issues either in the incumbant or immediate family.

On the other hand maybe the voters in an electorate would be better served by someone who was not marking time as would be the case for a poly who wanted to go but could not because of contractural obligations.

R0bert
Posted by R0bert, Tuesday, 2 October 2007 10:50:21 AM
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It would appear the person in focus here - namely the PM John Howard is not allowed a democratic right to make a choice about his work future without left wing journalists and ALP supporters making it an immmoral issue to chose when he retires. Politicians do it all the time including young Labor Premiers like Steve Bracks and no one creates the same anxt. It is a ALP beat up to associate guilt with his choice.

People including politicians nearing retirement make choices every day about when they will retire. The ALP think they have a winner in casting some form of guilt on the PM for not stating when he will retire. Large Company executives can change places every year it does not effect the company.

The question that ought to be asked is: Does the ALP front team match or better the Coalition team to govern Australia.

At a recent meeting of union members in Bennelong concern was raised about the strength of Keven Rudd's resolve to support the Unions - Maxine McKew was present - The union officials present answered that it is our duty to get Kevin elected, after that we will call the shots. Keven Rudd is merely a popular front for a much more sinister movement. He is not a dynamic leader and others will controll him
Posted by Philo, Wednesday, 3 October 2007 6:27:46 AM
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