Paul Bongiorno, at 74, has been a journalist for 45 years beginning in television, graduating to radio, reporting on state and federal politics, winning four Walkley Awards for investigative journalism and, after taking voluntary redundancy from Network Ten five years ago, found his brand of fair, even-handed, interrogative and investigative journalism right at home in The Saturday Paper.
Perhaps the Shooters Fishers and Farmers is the party we have been looking for.
His brilliant expose in TSP's issue last weekend will appeal to those Australians who now are feeling, increasingly, duped not only by the barren promises of the Federal Coalition, but by politics in general.
This is described by a reader as "really all about integrity, the National Party is as lacking in it as the Libs and together they are a double disaster". The reader referred me to Bongiorno's column in TSP but it is always required reading each Saturday. This is what he wrote: "Is it any wonder innocent bystanders hold politicians in such low esteem? It is all the more curious that the Morrison Government voted 10 times against integrity and accountability in the Senate and the House of Representatives this week. Not only did they vote against a Greens Bill to set up a strong, independent national integrity commission, they applied the gag in the house and sent the bill off to the never-never."
More interestingly and in keeping with Bongiorno's career-long interest to ensure his readers got both sides of all political stories, in this case as PM Morrison had used the protection of parliament to reject Anthony Albanese's attack on a government minister, Bongiorno wrote: "Albanese reminded the PM that in NSW 10 Liberal MPs, including two ministers, had to resign after ICAC found they had accepted (political) donations from banned developers".
Never has the column seen politics, parliamentary and party performance and leadership reach such rock bottom. It's why Friday on your Mind has in recent years urged voters to consider a new political party. A Sydney Morning Herald letters page a few weeks ago carried the heading, "Democracy depends on ending dodgy donations", and while that is nothing new rather than do something about achieving it the Coalition and Labor parties keep escalating the issue - besotted with hanging on to power while each wrecks the current population's interests.
Next general election - in fact, a by-election if you are provided with the chance to vote in one - do your bit for democracy and good government and reject the major party candidates. Why, you ask? Well last week in this newspaper my fellow columnist, Jody Lindbeck, wrote that "something feels off about making money from water. It is such a fundamental basic need in the community and so many of the crops we grow rely on irrigation". So why, six years on, have we voters allowed a Coalition Government with hardly a murmur of dissent from Labor MPs, to bring our water systems to the edge of disaster with many of their own voters about to run out of drinking and washing water.
Author of the book, Make the Liberal Party Great Again, John Ruddick, has been trying to encourage reform within the once-great party, and has been twice threatened with expulsion. Obviously the party can't accept criticism from within and has been more content about keeping Labor out. With the enhancement in status and determination of the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers party in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia not to mention the singular but continuing influence of Independent candidates, voters are now in a good place to put the blow torch to the belly of the Tories and Labor in forthcoming elections. Perhaps the Shooters Fishers and Farmers is the party we have been looking for. On the score alone that this year it broadened its policy to raise water and regional health to the top is a start.
One other thing before we leave the vexed question of where these two major parties are taking us all; when will they listen to great Australians like retiring ASIO chief, Duncan Lewis, who wants an apolitical public service. Many in our family came from just such a PS background in the days, as a SMH letters writer recently described, "before politicians introduced short-term contracted senior executives" on whopping salaries instead of "giving tenure to all staff, while removing the ability of politicians to transition their mates through to top positions". Finally, is there possibly a pathway for improvement in the Tories and Labor camps? "Yes", a Queensland Liberal contact says; "better pre-selection methods - all local selectors with no paid party officials present".