TUMBY BAY – I find it tempting to contemplate what life would be like without politicians.
It’s a concept that would have been unthinkable and impossible only a few years ago, but events of late are showing us how increasingly irrelevant and mistrusted politicians are becoming.
Of course, a lot depends on how you define what makes a politician. At its widest interpretation it means any apparatchik or self-styled big man, even ones operating out in the rural wilds. At its narrowest it means our elected representatives in parliament.
It is the latter who seem to be rapidly losing touch with the real world.
There are plenty of examples to demonstrate how politicians are increasingly swimming against the tide of public opinion and how, in this globalising world, they have lost control of key elements of traditional governance, most notably economic one but others – like social equity - also.
Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, for example, and yet many states of the USA have independently re-endorsed the agreement’s goals and, in practice, have even surpassed them.
In Australia there has been a grassroots revolution in renewable energy that has left the federal government and its climate change deniers and coal champions stranded like shags on a rock.
In Papua New Guinea the provincial government in Oro has taken on rapacious loggers and is winning where the national government has failed.
On Manus the provincial government is thinking about life after the detention centre closes and has embarked on a study to identify its prospects as a tourist destination.
(There is a website, delightfully full of grammatical and spelling errors, extolling these beautiful islands.)
Such developments pose an interesting question: Is it possible to have a government simply made up of the people’s elected representatives as opposed to party-focussed politicians?
There is actually quite a difference between the two.
A politician these days is usually someone toeing the line on a particular ideology and linked (some would say chained by bonds of gold) to the machinery of a political party.
Elected representative are individuals dedicated to representing the needs of their people and who are not subordinate to political parties.
If we got rid of the party politicians and replaced them with elected representatives in both Australia and Papua New Guinea, would life be better?
If there were no party politicians in our parliaments, would our often thwarted elected representatives be able to do a better job?
Possibly, but if we purged our governments of politicians I wonder how long it would be before they came back. A week, a year, who knows?
Whatever the time span, one thing is for sure, they would wheedle their way back like cockroaches no matter what we did.