Annabel Crabb has written a piece on the ABC’s new website, The Drum, admitting that she likes politicians – and then even goes on to say why. Perhaps not surprisingly, I think it is a good piece, although the Christmas spirit of goodwill might have made her a bit more charitable than she needed to be. It does make some important points though, including about the impacts that the nature of media coverage has on what politicians say and how they behave.
However, I do think her estimate of politicians – “that perhaps one in ten is there purely for reasons of ego, self-aggrandisement or self-enrichment” – is overly generous. In my experience I’d put this closer to one in five (although most of those would be for the first two reasons, not for self-enrichment).
And also , Annabel repeats the common assertion that the New South Wales system of having fixed four year terms between elections is responsible for protecting the current “otherwise unelectable state government” from being removed via an early election. This assertion is common, but it is wrong. Even without fixed terms, there is no way the current NSW government would call an election any earlier than it had to – precisely because it knows it would lose.
I think the NSW situation has highlighted a good argument for states to revert to three year terms (and for Queensland and the federal level to stay at three years), but I can’t see any argument against fixed terms.
However, in the Christmas spirit, I shouldn’t focus on a couple of minor flaws. Although its a constructive and generally positive portayal of politicians is nice, the real worth of the piece comes from its reflections on the downsides of public and media expectations of government and politicians.