We deserve better

In recent times we have had a number of polls in which the Australian people have shown good sense, though not all the time, as we shall see. However, the politics we deserve better than the politics we get.

The latest Essential Report has found that support for same-sex marriage is now at 61-32 in favour, with Labor voters almost as positive as the Greens. Whether you go to church or not does seem to make a difference. The more people go to church the less positive they are.

Of those who voted, 64% say they voted ‘yes’, as against 30% ‘no’ and 6% prefer not to say.

The ABS estimates that 57.5% of enrolled Australians have already cast their votes in the postal survey, while the Essential poll found 47% having voted.

If these figures are right, it is becoming hard to see how the ‘yes’ vote will lose from here.

Bob Hawke labelled the decision to spend $122 million on the survey as “the worst economic decision made by any Australian prime minister,” whereupon Tony Abbott basically called him a “silly old bugger”.

Meanwhile Ian Roberts, one of the toughest rugby league players to have played the game, wept as working-class fans went wild for Macklemore’s NRL finals show.

When voters were asked about trust in institutions and organisations, only the police, the High Court and the ABC did better than 50%. Trailing were state parliaments (31%), federal parliament (30%), business groups (28%), religious organisations (26%), trade unions (25%) and last of all political parties (18%).

When it came to trust in the media, only the ABC and SBS were in the black.

Last week voters preferred renewable energy to coal 64-18, and then there was this one which was to find how we discern reality in a post-truth world.

The answer is, not so well, according to Essential Report’s Peter Lewis.

A substantial minority believe that –

  • Heaven and hell both exist as destinations after life. (40%)
  • Angels and demons are active in the world. (39%)
  • Ghosts exist and can influence their will on the living. (35%)
  • Extra-terrestrials have visited the earth. (34%)
  • The story of creation in the book of Genesis is a true account of the first man and woman. (34%)

A majority do not believe that –

  • Global warming is a hoax perpetrated by scientists. (68%)
  • The vibrations from wind farms cause long term health damage. (58%)
  • Vaccines can cause autism. (70%)

Here’s the main part of the table:

Lewis says:

    While our participation in organised religion has been on the decline in recent decades, 40% of us still say we have a literal interpretation of the central tenants of heaven and hell. More than one third of us believe in angels and demons, ghosts with skin in the game, aliens who have visited the Earth and that Adam and Eve is more than a fable. While the number supporting popular conspiracy theories are lower, they still are at numbers that can influence the outcome of elections.

And:

    Breaking these numbers down, Coalition voters are more likely to embrace all the propositions than Labor and Green voters, suggesting here too that it is from the right where the post-truth market is strongest. And in what surprised me most about these results, it is among younger voters that support for these propositions is strongest.

So:

    When politics is built on shifting factual sands, it’s difficult to erect anything of substance. There’s no easy way to reverse the rise of post-truth in Australia.

Nevertheless, if you want to change the culture of an organisation, you need to start at the top. This can readily be seen every time a school changed principal, or a new CEO takes up his or her position.

In terms of the quality of political discourse, one of the most interesting items of the week was Laura Tingle’s report to Phillip Adams on her coverage of the German elections.

In the beginning Tingle experienced delay getting her journalist’s accreditation. A German said, “Why don’t you just turn up. No-one is going to stop you”.

This was quite possible, because Angela Merkel’s itinerary was made available two weeks in advance. In Australia you have to be on the official bus and don’t know where you are going until you get on the bus in the morning.

Tingle just went along, and no-one bothered her.

Party political TV ads are banned. The press is not obviously partisan, and generally speaking appears to be truth-seeking and interested in policies.

She said the whole thing was very civilised compared to what we get here, lacking slogans and personal attacks. The Germans may see it differently, but she said the difference was stark. It’s a world away from what we get here.

The Germans being efficient, the result was known about 10 minutes after the polls closed. Then there was a phenomenon known as the “Elephants Roundtable”:

    This is the moment of truth — the artifice of the election campaign is stripped away and politicians sit opposite each other for the first time since the polls closed in a spartan TV studio to review the result and make declarations on what should happen next.

Typically sparks fly, and you get raw politics without spin. Tingle said that this time Merkel sat there open-mouthed as her prospective coalition partners, the Greens and the Free Democrats, ripped into each other.

It will probably take until Christmas to form a coalition, which here would freak everyone out because of the uncertainty. People understand, however, that compromises have to be made. Not all the positions taken before the election can be sustained.

In general, it seems we could learn a few things from the political cultures in northern Europe.

Finally, here, as Turnbull celebrates passing his second anniversary of his ascension to power, the margin in Newspoll widened again to 54-46 in favour of Labor, replicated by Essential in the following week. They say that when Newspoll is out in the field, Abbott will be there too, stirring up strife. However, that is now 20 Newspolls in a row.

The clock is ticking.

Update: After finishing this and pressing the “publish” button, I had my ‘aha’ moment that brings all this together. I’ve changes the title from The people deserve better to We deserve better. By ‘we’ I mean those of us who are not dipsticks who believe weird stuff, and to whom the politicians on the right in particular seem to want to pander. Remember:

    Coalition voters are more likely to embrace all the propositions than Labor and Green voters, suggesting here too that it is from the right where the post-truth market is strongest.

25 thoughts on “We deserve better”

  1. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of people I meet that are not on the electoral roll, mostly young or immigrants.
    I’m not surprised that most people I know don’t take online surveys.
    The last survey I took I satirically impersonated Sarah Hanson- Young

  2. I’ve just done an update to the post:

    Update: After finishing this and pressing the “publish” button, I had my ‘aha’ moment that brings all this together. I’ve changes the title from The people deserve better to We deserve better. By ‘we’ I mean those of us who are not dipsticks who believe weird stuff, and to whom the politicians on the right in particular seem to want to pander. Remember:

      Coalition voters are more likely to embrace all the propositions than Labor and Green voters, suggesting here too that it is from the right where the post-truth market is strongest.

    Jumpy, if respondents were saying any old sh*t like you did, they are still dipsticks.

  3. From what I take to be Bill Shorten tweet:

    This arvo, Tony Abbott called Bob Hawke a “silly old bugger.”

    Bob: Created Medicare. Grew the economy. Saved the Franklin.

    Abbott: Cut Medicare. Knighted a prince. Ate an onion.

    Two remarkable lists of achievements.

    Lately Turnbull has been doing the rounds of the radio stations young p[eople listen to. I think Shorten is trying to match him. Not very edifying, when all is said and done.

  4. So glad I don’t ‘ do ‘ twitter.
    It may as well call itself farter where folk just fart at each other.

  5. Pedantry Alert

    Unlikely to be central tenants of heaven and hell??

    More likely the central tenets??

    The tenants in heaven and hell had better stay there, not bothering us mortals by having “skin in the game”, forsooth. Upstairs, praise the Goddess incessantly; downstairs, burn and fry eternally, but do not oxidise or vapourise, rather, be so good as to maintain your incorporeal identity and tormented soul forever.

    Yours Sincerely,
    The Loving Goddess.

    Two quotes to ponder:

    From The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (Peter Cook, Dudley Moore). Parson, on being told that a sizeable percenta ge of Brits had declared the mselves Buddhist, “I always say that each of us must find our own path to God….. but there’s no need to be silly about it!”

    Douglas Adams: “Jesus told people they should be nice to each other, so they nailed him to a tree.”

  6. Jumpy, I should have said earlier, I don’t have much confidence in robo-polls. I recall that in 2013 they found a huge swing against Kevin Rudd in his seat (10% or so) and he was meant to lose it.

    I think Essential is still phone polling. Morgan used to go door to door, but I think they must have given up.

  7. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of people I meet that are not on the electoral roll, …

    That’s interesting. When I meet people the subject rarely, if ever, arises.

  8. I generally ask a new acquaintance what they think of The Epic of Gilgamesh. Seldom does this surefire icebreaker lead to the opportunity to question their enrolment.

  9. Gilgamesh– We would get long very well then Ambi, we should have this discussion one day, profound stuff that is.
    Re electoral role question, it depends on the situation and person. After a brief discussion about civic duties, you often don’t even need to ask the question about the electoral roll.

    Re We deserve better, you hit the nail on the head Brian. I suggest you replace the ‘dipstick’ with small minded or my personal favorite, cognitively challenged person due to lack of ability for critical thinking. Yes mob rule sucks and it inevitably ends up in tears. Just ask the ancient Greeks and Romans.

  10. The chat at smokos covers almost every facet of life.
    Free flow of ideas and opinions and all that.
    As it happens most people I meet are at work because I’m there so much.
    Not a lot of feminine influences though, which is unfortunate.

  11. Yes mob rule sucks and it inevitably ends up in tears. Just ask the ancient Greeks and Romans.

    If by mob rule you mean Democracy, please critically think a better system.
    Useing your self declared cognitively enhanced large brain of course.

  12. Ootz

    I must read it then. Had a copy years ago, but couldn’t get past the first page or two.

    7.54pm J………
    They attend work simply because you’re there so much? How do you explain your charisma, Mr J?

  13. Jumpy, everyone is a ‘we’ whether you know it or not.

    Ootz, some of them are smart, just wrong-headed.

    Ootz, I heard a fair bit about Gilgamesh on a radio program about 40 years ago. Must put it on my bucket list, along with Tristan and Iseult and a few others. They say that there were only ever about half a dozen stories ever written, the rest are variations of same.

  14. Jumpy, I also have to tell you that you don’t exist as such. Just a collection of events, molecules in motion, part of the cosmic flow of karma. The fact that you have a skin to divide what’s inside from the rest is just by the way – part of the illusion.

  15. Jumpy, how do you define democracy and what is your concept of civic duty? Have you got any idea how democracy came about, ever pondered its pros and cons?

    Some of best developed critical thinking skills I came arcross when working with street kids I. They worked their brain for a living and to survive. The brain is like a muscle, use it or lose it. With higher cognitive functions, like critical thinking, you need to be able to juggle several balls at once, kind of like multitasking. It also requires some humility to acknowledge that there are unknown unknowns or a curiosity to explore known unknowns and question the known knowns and the sources there of.

    It is not complicated really, not half much as following a cricket match. But one needs to make an effort or ones politic becomes like following a cricket match, where the outcome really matters much in the scheme of things. However, energy policies, for example, deserve better then armchair cricket commentary or just sledging ‘lefties’ or ‘greenies‘ for being ideologues with religious like believes. Thus, I make sure that my arguments stack up and I can back them up with substance. On the other hand mob rule essentially is driven by emotions and not reason. These emotions are reinforced by unscrupulous populous media, peddling fear, snake oil and shallow entertainment, in order to take their audience for a ride at their cost.

  16. From a evolutionary psychological point of view, the Gilgamesh epic is as much as an important marking point as is Mungo woman and insight into the modern ‘self’. Mungo woman is one of the world’s oldest known cremations. Significantly, she was covered with ochre, sourced from a location several hundred kilometres from the site. It takes rather highly abstract thinking to acknowledge a person and send her off to another world outside of the one one ‘self’ is on.

    Where as the Gilgamesh epic is one of the earliest written stories of a person becoming aware of ones own mortal ‘self’. Although arguable Akhenaten’s political action around 1330 BC influenced our modern ‘self’ perception, by inventing monotheism in an attempt to rid himself of the bureaucracy and power of religious administrators, was much larger. Thus before anyone takes him or her ‘self’ too serious, it pays to familiarise ones ‘self’ with the question of consciousness and who ‘owns’ it. Such as does your self exist? Or is your self just an illusion?

    Being a latent agnostic I hedge my bets on just about anything. However though, even regular patterns of shade on platonic cave walls do give pretty good guidelines to ones life and how to conduct it. Or as my favourite scientist expressed it:
    ”Nature uses only the longest threads to weave her patterns, so each small piece of her fabric reveals the organization of the entire tapestry.”

  17. Liked your links, Ootz and I like Susan Blackmore.

    Consciousness is something you do, and actually it doesn’t have to be deep to be meaningful.

  18. I’m constantly amazed by the amount of people I meet that are not on the electoral roll, mostly young or immigrants.

    Jumpy, according to the AEC, 95.1% of eligible Australians are on the electoral roll. Is 1 in 20 an amount that usually amazes you, or are you just not meeting the right people? 🙂

  19. The right to vote is worth a lot: clubs and associations, unions, local govt, State, Federal.

    Apparently the secret ballot began hereabouts. A genuine anti-bullying measure.

  20. In a new twist on the “nationalisation debate” (the debate that never goes away), Fairfax reports that a Peter Costello
    has called for what would amount to the nationalisation of compulsory default super
    and went so far as to name the new body, the “Super Guarantee Agency”.

    Sees a precedent in the Canadian Pension Plan.

    Here’s a former MP thinking ahead, analysing, offering a critique.

    Will be interesting to see how Paul Keating reacts. He’s had a bit to say about super in recent years.

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