It’s no big surprise, that that the study of the Museum of Australian Democracy and the University of Canberra have, after four years research, found that satisfaction with what is called Australian democracy, is at the lowest level than it has ever been since serial data has been available.
The finding has been interpreted by some as loss of faith in democracy per say. But this is questionable. The existing political institutions are no longer considered democratic yb those who have lost faith.
Rather than a turn against it, there is a yearning for the real thing. This seems to be difficult for those comfortably mesmerised by narrow definitions and reluctant to consider anything different to understand.
Here are some details of the findings.
If the present trend continues, less than 10 percent of Australians will trust politicians and key political institutions by 2025. This is big.
The study found that there is a close relationship between this, and the perception of the lack of proper performance on core tasks and the big policy issues. It has huge implications.
More than 50 percent of those surveyed wanted most of all, a more representative form of politics and giving citizens a greater say in public policy.
There was also a call to make politicians more accountable and participation of ordinary people in the carrying out of the roles of government.
At the Philanthropy Meets Parliament Summit in Canberra last month, this shift in public attitude was broadly passed brushed out and replaced by broadly suggesting that the causes of the fall in faith are an excess of adversarial politics in the parliament and not enough bipartisanship, short-termism in government, and a lack of understanding by ordinary citizens.
This conference revealed its incredible ability to deal with the real issues.
Tier explanations are rubbish of course. The only reality about them proves, is tp sh\ow how disconnected the more privileged are from the rest of society.
Australians believe that they are not being listened to and disregarded. They see a failure of political leadership. The key economic and social issues of the day are not being resolved. In fact, they are being made worse.
Here’s a few more realities. The reward for work is going backwards for most. A third of our workforce is now casualised and poverty is rising. Underemployment is rife. Many more live on the knife edge, between keeping on living as they do now or falling over the precipice. Most of those with proper jobs Those with proper jobs find their wages stagnant, as the cost of living rises.
People dependent on Centrelink payments are hounded victimised and punished. The way the original Australians are being treated remains a disgrace, as is the inhumane treatment handed out to those who come to our shores as refugees.
Then there is the response to global warming. Denial and inadequate response are the norm for our political leadership.
This leadership has played its role in making all of these problems a reality. IThisw has built distrust in them.
But what does this even more comprehensively, is that the same political leadership, is then seen enthusiastically applying itself to ensuring the spoils go to the wealthiest tier of society.
There is a perception that the Australian political system runs on the oil of soft and hard corruption. The perception is verified by a constant parade of exposures. People feel the decline in the transparancy of government affairs.
There was the banks scandal that forced a Royal Commission. What has been done so far about its damning findings? Absolutely nothing. There is the scandal over the massive scale of corporate tax evasion. Nothing is being done about this either. There is the damage being imposed on individuals be the robo-debt system. It continues to operate. All of this is sugared over with constant promises and the breaking of promises, and added to by outright lying.
When people question what is going on, there are the evasions, double speak, and the gradual shift to increasingly authoritarian government. Hate politics is raised as scapegoats to blame everything on are sought. There is an extending crackdown on journalism.
It is any wonder that the level of distrust of the political leadership and key political institutions has risen so much?
This distrust also indicates that Australians want much better than this and are beginning to search for alternatives. This has not reached the level where many are taking to the streets. But if the situation continues to deteriorate, this might just be a matter of time.
Maybe then we can build political institutions and representation that works for the needs of the majority.