Our Democracy is Failing, So Does Democracy Work?

Last Friday night I landed at Melbourne airport at about 11:15pm in the evening. Jumped off the plane, brisk walk down to immigration through the smart gates.

Picked up my bag, out through customs and into my brother’s car as he waited for me in the pick-up bay.

We got chatting on the way back to his place. The general chitchat one takes part in when you’ve been on the plane for a day. How are you? Good. How was the flight? Good. You tired? Nup. You awake? Nup.

That sort of thing.

Anyway, once I’d livened up a bit and got out of single syllable answers we got into deeper conversation.

As you’d have it we got into the state of affairs in Aussie politics. And I started to get a little confused.

Maybe it was jetlag rearing its beastly head. Maybe it was because the state of Aussie politics is such a cluster…erm, such a mess.

Anyway, I genuinely found myself asking, who’s the Aussie Prime Minister again? And for a brief moment I half expected the answer to be Malcolm Turnbull. You see when I was last in Australia that was the correct answer.

But the answer this time was Scott Morrison.

Ah, yes, that bloke,’ I found myself responding. Of course I knew this. But only because I pay attention to Australian news. Why it was a little harder to recall is that the rest of the world doesn’t really give a stuff.

You see I love coming back to Australia. I love the country, the people, the food, the sport…there’s a lot to love. But the moment I leave and head back to the UK I quickly come to the awakening that the rest of the world doesn’t share the same enthusiasm.

Sure, people love to holiday here. And people know Australia is big, beautiful and hot. But that’s about the extent of it.

Australia barely registers overseas when it comes to anything economic, political, finance or business related. It’s like we don’t exist.

That’s not to say Australia isn’t relevant. And it’s not to say our economy and business markets aren’t important or full of opportunity. In fact if you want to talk about opportunity the ASX could be one of the best untapped markets that most overseas investors leave for Aussie investors to raid.

It’s just that outside Australia the rest of the world is primarily focused on…the rest of the world.

The problem with Aussie politics

When I eventually made it into the office this week I got chatting with Harje Ronngard and Ryan Clarkson-Ledward.

We got talking about the geopolitical scenes over in the UK. And my answer to them was it’s basically the same as it is in Oz, just with BREXIT in the mix.

And it is the same. You’ve got a two party preferred system, Labor to the left and the Tories pretty much following suit. It’s a political world where all have abandoned their core party motivations to just get stuck into the popular social issue of any given day.

It’s no great surprise that the Conservative government in the UK recently held their annual conference in Birmingham. That’s up in the midlands of the UK. Meaning it’s outside of London. Meaning far more working class, far less wealth than down south — a far more important battleground.

Nonetheless it’s almost a perfect replication of the Aussie situation. And there’s more effort put into inner party conflict that actual decisions for the betterment of the country.

But the problem here isn’t just the kakistocracy that’s running the show. The problem is the show itself.

The problem with the political scenes in Australia and the UK is that they all battle just to survive from month to month. This is thanks to the ability to knife a leader in the back, spill the ship and seize power.

That’s why since John Howard’s 11-year reign we’ve had six different Prime Ministers (Rudd twice). And average tenure of 1.83 years each.

Now let me ask you this…how much impact can you have on the future of a country with just 1.83 years on the job?

Short answer: None.

Does democracy work?

The problem with Aussie politics and the problem with the future of Australia is the political system it’s built on. The ‘democracy’ we live under is failing. If you want another Royal Commission anytime soon, perhaps there should be one on the state of the political system.

Which begs the question, does democracy work?

Well, I wouldn’t want to live in Russia or China. But you’ve got to give them credit for one thing…consistency. At least Putin and Jinping have been able to play the long game because they’ve had a long game to play.

And maybe there’s something to be said for an element of authoritarian rule. The difference you’d want is to have come of a base without the social injustice and crimes against humanity.

But what if there was a way to adopt this long game approach to a ‘democracy’ like Australia? A change of law that meant when you became Prime Minister (democratically elected) you were in the office for five years, guaranteed.

No one from your party could oust you. There wouldn’t be another federal election for five years. You would have free reign to implement and see through the things you promised you’d do to make the country great again.

And if you did a good job, and did it well, you’d probably get another five years. Or if you stunk it up and turned things into the dust bowl, well the outcome would be pretty clear — out you go.

There’s no perfect fix to the issues of making a country relevant in the future. And for a country like Australia being relevant in the future is something we need to work towards.

But you won’t have a future with a turnover every 1.83 years. Maybe Russia and China have the system figured out. Maybe we should be more like them.


Sam Volkering,
Editor, Secret Crypto Network


Sam Volkering is an Editor for Money Morning and is small-cap, cryptocurrency and technology expert.

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