Aussies are ready to Revolt and Drain their own Swamp
Tuesday, 10 January 2017

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AUSTRALIAN voters are so fed up with entitled members of parliament and their excuses for using taxpayers’ cash they are seeking to drain the Canberra swamp of career politicians, a prominent electoral expert has warned.

Drawing on shocking results from his recent research that showed Australian voter satisfaction at a record low, ANU political professor Ian McAllister told the latest controversy surrounding sidelined Health Minister Sussan Ley’s use of taxpayer funds was exactly the sort of behaviour by politicians that’s stirring an electoral revolt.

The embattled MP has been stood down from her senior parliamentary position while taxpayer-funded trips to the Gold Coast — where she bought a luxury investment property and attended social events — are being investigated.

While the government is seeking a quick fix to the growing scandal, Professor McAllister warns the issue at hand goes deeper than a few suspicious taxi receipts and questionable trips to Queensland’s resort capital.

When a politician is busted taking advantage of their position, be it hitching a ride on a chopper, double-dipping on tax deductions, or chauffeuring their pets around the countryside, we hear cries to rein in spending and make pollies more accountable.

But Prof McAllister says voters outrage is over their representative’s behaviour rather than the system that facilitates it.

“The real problem is not the legal framework. The problem is there’s a lot of discretion. The real issue is this demand for a cultural change so that you get more politicians that are directly interested in serving the public than their own careers,” he said.

The Australian Electoral Study, led by Prof McAllister and published ahead of the new year showed Australians were more dissatisfied than ever with their political representatives. It’s a phenomenon that has been spreading around the world — crystallised by the election of Donald Trump to the most powerful office in the US. And it is slowly rearing its head in Australia with the protest-driven election of inexperienced parliamentarians like Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer.

“Australia would be one of the leading countries with the proportion of politicians that we have who spend their careers in the political system, and it’s becoming very clear that people don’t want and won’t stand for this,” he said.

“There’s a real disaffection with career politicians and a lot of it seems to come back to entitlements, using money in particular ways, this grey area where people in power have flexibility in the way they use money, travel, things like that.”

Prof McAllister says voter dissatisfaction has been building significantly since 2007, but the 2016 data, which used the same questions and methodology the significant survey of 3000 Australians has relied on for more than four decades, he “thought there was a mistake in the software”.

“There was no mistake, there’s something going on,” he said.

“There’s clearly a disaffection there which is being indicated.”
Voters in the US backed president-elect Trump’s aim to “drain the swamp”, a catchy slogan that translated to ridding the political system of entitled career politicians, and Prof McAllister said Australian voters have indicated they’re keen to do the same.


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