Pre-election ‘Debate’ Farce

Given I am now running as a Greens candidate, I suppose it is no surprise that I am indicating my agreement with a comment that Bob Brown made today.  But I would also say that it isn’t any secret that I haven’t agreed with every public comment that Bob has made, and I would agree with the following comment about the schoolyard level nonsense regarding another possible leaders debate even if it had been made by Steve Fielding:

What we’re seeing now between the two leaders is an absolute farce and people everywhere are rolling their eyes at Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard not having the maturity to get together to agree to the series of debates which would have enlightened the electorate,

It is a joke and a sad reflection on the optic and image driven nature of political media coverage in Australia. A couple of weeks ago, there was a three way debate at the National Press Club on important ICT issues such as internet filtering, broadband and wider communications policy. As far as I know, this was the only pre-election debate which features a Greens spokesperson – in this case Senator Scott Ludlam – alongside the Liberal-National and Labor spokespersons.

It was an informative engagement which required all three participants to demonstrate a wide ranging grasp of the many technical issues involved in this policy areas. I think I can safely make the objective assessment that the Greens’ Senator Ludlam easily held his own against the other participants.

I think people would see a similar thing in three party debates on most other policy issues. Apart from anything else, the dynamism and expanded perspectives which result from having three dimensions, rather than two, would naturally enhance almost any debate.

It is well past time not only to have an independent organisation to oversee and determine the formats for pre-election debates, but also to ensure that they are three dimensional rather than two dimensional events.

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6 Comments

  1. andrew

    i want to know and i may have missed it all together – why the change from democrats to greens. seems a little strange to me that you all of a sudden have had a change of views.

    last tuesday night we attended a small business debate with craig emerson and bruce billson. now i didn’t organise it and don’t even know if the greens have a small business rep but what was debated was good to know/hear in regards to small business and the parties views. most horrifying thing is that in the labor party, craig emerson isn’t even in cabinet – no brainer that small business obviously isn’t big on the labor parties agenda.

    good that the abbott government will make the portfolio part of ministry.

    biggest disappointment by both parties – neither knew enough on superannuation guarantee levy, what to do if it isn’t paid by employers and if you can get your employer to salary sacrifice when you do it as well. big issue in everyone there eyes that neither mp could answer this important question.

    hope tonight went well.

  2. Robyn

    In regards to your question about why I’ve changed from Democrats to Greens, I’ve written about that a few times on this blog, but this post gives something of an overview).

    But to give a short response, I don’t see shifting from the Democrats to the Greens as a “change of views”. There has always been a very large policy overlap between the Greens and the Democrats, which has been evidenced by the frequent suggestions in the past that the two parties should merge.

    I joined the Democrats over 20 years ago because I believed that our rigid two-party system was selling us short. Having experienced a wide range of trials and tribulations since then – not about me but about the issues, factors and pressures which come into play in the party political arena – I am even more convinced than I was 20 years ago about the necessity of having a credible third political party to break down the socially, politically, economically and intellectually constraining monochrome duopoly that our 100 year old two party system is inflicting on us.

    I also agree that it is a good idea to have small business represented in Cabinet. One of the reasons why I support a windfall/super-profits mining tax is that it provides a chance to redistribute some of those one-off windfall gains to the wider community, including reducing the social and economic distortions that constrain small business activities that generate a much larger proportion of jobs.

    As for superannuation – I was working for Cheryl Kernot in the early 90s when the Keating government put in place the foundations of the current superannuation system. I remember some of the concerns expressed at the time from what might loosely be called ‘left’ and ‘right’. I sometimes wonder if the path that was chosen was the best one, but the unavoidable fact is that we are now well and truly locked into the path.

    The crucial task now is to ensure that the general public, as opposed to the very well off or the Super companies and their financial advisors, can be confident of getting a good and fair outcome from that system.

    I think there is still a lot of work to be done in that regard, and if the Greens get extra seats in the Senate or (especially) in local House of Reps seats, there will be more capacity for us to examine these issues in more detail (and ensure experts outside the Parliament get their voices heard)

  3. “I think I can safely make the objective assessment that the Greens’ Senator Ludlam easily held his own against the other participants.”

    Rubbish! Scott’s performance clearly outshone the other two participants. His was the only carefully considered response to the issues, uncoloured by ideology or focus group-inspired nonsense.

    If Bob Brown had been involved in the leaders “debates” they might actually have been about policy, rather than petty points scoring.

  4. Well your about to get my vote.
    Arch Bevis seems to be invisible in my electorate. I was, for years, a very loyal ‘liberal’.
    Then voted for Kevin Rudds’ party last time, and would again if he was still there. I am truly diss-allusioned with both major parties.
    Good luck on the day.

  5. What I don’t like is the fact that not all candidates are invited to political forums.

    The Bayside Bulletin reported this week that the Labor candidate missed the National Seniors forum in the seat of Bowman due to illness, then said small party candidates didn’t attend.

    I know for a fact that the National Seniors only invited Labor, LNP and Greens. The only reason the DLP candidate was there was because he invited himself after I let Tony Zegenhagen know it was on.

    I also think the reporter misheard (or misunderstood) comments made by the Liberal incumbent regarding equal pay for aged care nurses.

    In any case, I have made it clear to the National Seniors that they should be inviting all candidates, as any other arrangement is undemocratic.

    It really concerns me that the National President of the National Seniors has been given a position by the Labor Party in relation to the over-50s. I think this could create a conflict of interest.

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