‘Malcolm at times didn’t see the politically smart thing to do – he saw what he thought was right’
This quote from today’s Australian Financial Review encapsulates the problem with modern politics. I don’t agree with everything Malcolm Turnbull did and said, but we could do with more people in Canberra prepared to do what they think is right.
Today’s successful politician is grounded in factional politics as a teenager. Rising through the ranks of youth and university party politics, he or she knows how to stack a meeting, undermine a colleague and align themselves with a rising star before they are 20 years old. (My younger brother was once dragged along to the Central West meeting of Young Labor by a now prominent state politician. His role in this, apparently common place, branch stacking exercise was to register on the day, vote for someone he had never heard of and disappear back into the wilderness. He was 14 years old.)
If he or she makes it to the big league, the path to the top is clear: don’t ever, ever do anything without thinking about what impact it’s going to have on your career. Professional politics has always been part and parcel of democracy. But the Howard government showed how effective it could be when institutionalised. And the Rudd government has taken it to a whole new level.
There was once a time when people went into politics because they wanted to do something good. Or so I’m told.
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