Is this really what people want?

The government is supposed to be about the wellbeing of voters, the best interests of everyone — the big picture if you like. We know that modern politics is not about this anymore but should we be worried about how out of touch our political leaders agave become?

Here is what a pleasantly surprised Australian Prime Minister said back in 2019 after his government was returned on the back of a lacklustre primary vote, some very handy preference deals, and an expensive campaign by the United Australia party who failed to win a seat in either house

They have their dreams, they have their aspirations, to get a job, to get an apprenticeship, to start a business, to meet someone amazing, to start a family, to buy a home, to work hard and provide the best you can for your kids, to save for your retirement,” 

Scott Morrison, Wentworth hotel in Sydney, 18th May 2019

Boy was this guy happy that people are so rooted in these core needs. 

He was delighted that, when the time comes, they look out for themselves and not for anyone else. He was banking on it and it worked.

This says a great deal about contemporary politics. 

It says that winning is everything. More precisely, me winning is everything. 

It says that in order to win, anything goes. In this instance, deals with minor parties not because they would get seats themselves but because they would suck more votes from your real opponents than from you. 

In this Australian federal election that meant not blinking an eye when a billionaire mining magnate who made a hash of his last attempt at politics, who failed to pay his workers but found enough cash to fund a massive media campaign, wanted a preference deal. Hey, why didn’t we think of that?

It means that the low road beckons and that is always easier, especially if you hold out long enough for your opponent to believe that they must take the high road. Suckers.

It means you can speak to the past, to what people understand because it has already happened. Remember the good old days.

It means you don’t have to speak of the future that is scary and unknown and far away. Phew, that’s a relief.

It means that you can promise things to individuals that no government could ever be held accountable for. Suckers again.

It means a whole heap of hollow promises, lies and misleading statements. We now know that the US President made 20,000 of them in the first three and a half years of his presidency, that is over 16 per day or one recorded every 90 minutes.

Seriously, this is what we have to contend with when we front to the ballot box. Horrid choices.

Run with us on this for a moment. 

A thought experiment

Let’s say you are a youngster about to embark on a career in the building trade and I tell you that you can start a business. Better even, for there are apprenticeships available for you, and all the party wanting your vote has to do is have a policy that subsidises apprenticeships and has reasonable tax offerings for small business. 

Absent from any policy is the reality of how hard it will be for anyone to start a business, let alone make a success of it. 

Candidates would not have to talk about matters that are outside those immediate personal needs. They can avoid the many issues that are a consequence of all those needs being met. They can even avoid talking about the systems that supply them.

They can ignore the big picture by making everything they say about your picture. And for you that picture is huge but, sadly for your ego, it is minuscule in the grand scheme of things.

The government is supposed to be about the grand scheme of things. It is supposed to understand what the collective consequences are of all those personal needs and aspirations. And it is supposed to understand the risks and opportunities that individuals are not in a position to see.

This bigger picture thinking is essential if the global issues of food security, diet and the ecological integrity of our landscape are not to collapse beyond repair.

Only to get elected all a modern politician has to do is pander to the base individual needs.

Here is what the returned Prime Minister Morrison said after he had described his typical Australian who voted in his favour

“These are the quiet Australians who have won a great victory tonight. Tonight is about every single Australian who depends on their government to put them first.”

Across in Melbourne, Andrew Philippou, a Labour party stalwart, was hoping for a different result. This is how he summed it up. 

“Greed wins over hope. People didn’t want to lose their franking credits, people didn’t want to lose negative gearing. People didn’t want to share their wealth with anyone else.”

Andrew Philippou, Labour stalwart, Hyatt Place Melbourne hotel at Essendon Fields, 18th May 2019

Believe us when we argue that we all have a lot of thinking to do if either of these gentlemen is right.

What sustainably FED suggests…

This political anecdote was one of the reasons we started this website and we plan to provide opportunities and triggers for a whole bunch of ideas and thinking about the many policy issues around food, ecology and diet that present in these challenging times.

We are sure you saw it differently for we all have a uniques perspective on what Mr Morrison called ‘these matters’. 

Feel free to tell us your vision of events or comment below.

We hope you will stick around and have a long conversation with us and others on these big issues and how we can all help to solve them

sustainably fed

Hero image by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

Mark

Mark is an ecology nerd who was cursed with an entrepreneurial gene and a big picture view making him a rare beast, uncomfortable in the ivory towers and the disconnected silos of the public service. Despite this he has made it through a 40+ year career as a scientist and for some unknown reason still likes to read scientific papers.

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