From Ross Gittins:
I realised the Australian government was fast approaching peak fake when I read Laura Tingle of the Financial Review’s revelation that Malcolm Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 announcement was timed to favourably influence the imminent fortnightly Newspoll result.
When our leaders progress from being mesmerised by opinion polls to trying to game them, that’s when we know the country’s in deep, deep trouble.
It’s long been clear that, acting on their belief that “the perception is the reality”, the political class – Labor and Coalition – has focused less on attempting to fix problems and more on being seen to be fixing them.
But trying to game the political polls takes faking it to a new level: being seen to be seen to be trying to fix things…..
The only way to prevent this short-term focus is to change the system. In a winner takes all political system, who can blame the actors for focusing on the next election instead of the long-term interests of the country.
I have long advocated proportionate representation in government along the lines of the Swiss system. So politicians can quit the grandstanding and get on with doing their job. The Swiss enjoy one of the best run economies in the world, simply because their leaders take a fifty-year view rather than the four- or five-year election cycle.
In the Swiss system, a central committee is democratically elected, based on proportional representation. All parties are represented on the 7-member Federal Council and decision-making is collective. Council members serve one year terms as the largely-ceremonial head of state. The strength of the system is its stability, with only one change to the composition of the 7-member Council over the last 50 years. This enables members to focus on long-term goals rather than on short-term politics — the reason why the Swiss economy is one of the most stable and successful, ranked 8th in the world in terms of GDP per capita according to the IMF.
Powers of the central committee are restrained by a vibrant direct democracy where citizens regularly vote on national referendums. The ability of voters to overturn political decisions maintains a strong check on the central committee during their elected term and also curbs the influence of special interest groups, another abscess on butt of many democracies.