Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION

To watch (Liberal Senator) Michaelia Cash hide behind a whiteboard after abusing parliamentary privilege is to know one thing above all else; politics in this country is conducted as if by children. This is not the coward’s castle; it’s a crèche.

So says the editorial writer of The Saturday Paper and it is a fair summing-up of the past months in Federal Parliament. Further, “And, so, years go by and nothing happens … buried under a hill in Canberra, our politicians forget what it is they are supposed to do. Strategists become caught up in their own cleverness, and forget that it is a country they are running. It is near impossible to look at this parliament and see anything but callow entitlement,” the editorial concluded.

As this column suggested a fortnight ago, Australian voters should demand changes to the way our nation is governed; if the past 10 years, especially the last four, are the best the much vaunted Westminster system can offer there’s not much to look forward to.

TSP’s editorial writer is on the mark; but where do we go from here? Unless Nick Zenophon’s SA Best party can present itself as a viable alternative to either the Coalition or the ALP in the SA elections on Saturday week more radical steps may be necessary.

The parliamentary situation is at crisis point in Canberra and most states. Worse, MPs know it. Labor MP, Tony Burke, in his weekly constituency email last week wrote: “One of the longest-serving MPs in the Caucus told me that this is the worst he’s ever seen the Parliament. A building designed for policy debate has become the home of innuendo and smear”.

Voters in Italy last weekend joined those in countries around the world who are disillusioned by major parties and their leaders. Nothing is different here. The following suggestion might have out-of-touch parliamentarians still peddling the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” political theory bristling but they are willing contributors to the present mess.

The column has this advice for them (and the young Australians who hopefully will replace many of them for pre-selection in coming elections), from an unusual source, the fictitious Det Inspector Henry Crabbe of Pie in the Sky television fame: “Create the ability to listen plus the commitment to follow your instincts”.

That done perhaps, as readers’ instincts advocate, we may then achieve the revitalisation of federal parliament, notably the Senate, something New Zealand has successfully managed to live without.

Better harvest

IN OCTOBER last year the column wrote about unlocking the “soaring potential” of our national agriculture in which an Australian Farm Institute publication, Farm Policy Journal, said a lack of clear policy was throttling agricultural development.

AFI’s executive director, Mick Keogh, wrote then: “The strongest connection between the community and agriculture is through food”.

One tiny example: Recently mandarins have cost close to $9 a kilo; if you want a home-grown product you’ll be lucky. The ones we purchased were imported from Portugal, the US or Egypt. What’s the possibility new Deputy PM, Michael McCormack might get cracking on boosting primary industry production. Keogh said in a recent note to the column: “Rural infrastructure and services and agricultural education are difficult to get much attention paid to, but I suspect (they) will be much more important than politicians’ personal lives in the long run”.