Friday, September 6, 2013

Transparency and accountability - back to basics

Nick Green concludes Australia21's series on young people's views on the election with a plea for truth in politics and a message for the incoming government. Nick  is a professional writer and magazine editor with an academic background in theoretical and practical ethics and a passion for all things mechanical and philosophical. He is currently editor of a B2B trade title and contributes to a host of automotive and youth culture oriented magazines and blogs. He was first attracted to volunteer with Australia21 through its work on illicit drugs policy.

The modern political paradigm, or at least the way in which Australians relate to it, has irrevocably changed as traditional modes of media adapt to incorporate new platforms and reporting methods. The advent of social media has dramatically altered the nature of the fourth estate and the immediacy and availability of all (including erroneous) information has created significant tension between government and citizen.

What matters in the 2013 election, as the prison doors swing shut behind Bradley Manning, the staff of the Sheremetyevo airport clean up after Edward Snowden’s uncomfortable internment and Ecuadorian diplomats based in the UK get used to stepping over Julian Assange’s fold out bed, is transparency and accountability.

Without denigrating the importance of policy consideration on issues like refugee boats, LBGTI rights, emissions trading, consumer sentiment or cost of living  – Australian politics needs to be chiseled back to the bare essentials. In an information saturated nation, it needs to develop a uniform way of communicating directly and truthfully with a politically alienated populace. Australians, and in particular younger generations, can no longer be influenced with spin and lowest common denominator headlines. The dissection of inconsequential gaffes and mudslinging must end, and a culture of bilateral respect, which governments require to govern, must be reinstated.  When asked a question by a member of the media, a politician should be required to provide a plain speaking, honest and transparent answer.

 The Australian people must be educated about the goals of good governance and the methods that a governing body needs to achieve them. Such understanding will help to reduce the blind contempt and mistrust that has taken over.  

 As political anhedonia settles over Australian youth and Baby Boomers steadily disengage from the news cycle, it is critical that clear, pragmatic and utilitarian communication become the priority of government. Open squabble over individual issues is the catalyst for apathy.

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