When Transparent Governance Goes Too Far

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I struggle at times explaining to my friends why I love politics the way I do.

A lot of people have the idea that politics is all about playing games and less about improving our country.

At Parliament House, I spend time in committee rooms where I see the opposite of this concept; I see people working collaboratively to build a better future. However these moments are rarely reported in the newspaper; they even more seldom make it to the 7pm news.

Great outcomes of committee rooms rarely make it to public consumption. What does make it into the newspaper are scandals and political games.

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC has now raised nine cases of ministerial misconduct. Earlier this week, the case on Angus Taylor was thrown out, which now means none of these nine cases have been considered to be of merit. The Shadow-Attorney General is an intelligent man with a robust legal career spanning over 20 years, who would be well aware of which cases would be thrown out and which would be actioned further. It is clear that these allegations are a form of a political game. I understand political games are part and parcel when it comes to politics. They are a tool for leveraging political colleagues and advocating for certain agendas. What is unfortunate, however, is that these instances receive a lot of media coverage and distract the public from the other issues at hand.

At Parliament House, I spend time in committee rooms where I see the opposite of this so often; I see people working collaboratively to build a better future. However, these moments are rarely reported in the newspaper; they even more seldom make it to the 7 pm news.. increasingly emotional over the past few years. The people who are paying for it the most are the taxpayers.

No human being is free of skeletons in their closets. Politicians are no exception to that rule. They slip-up; they make mistakes. It is important that we don’t let those slipups get in the way of governing. Moving forward, we must be able to address such misconduct swiftly and with minimal media attention.

As someone who is wildly passionate about the United Nations’ 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development, I believe in the push for transparent governance around the world in accordance with Target 16.6: Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels, which falls under Goal 16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions.

While transparent governance is a top priority for us in Australia and for countries around the world, the level of transparency shouldn’t get in the way of productivity when it comes to leading the nation. It is here that the people of Australia begin to suffer.

I would like to see robust debate during Question Time focusing on questions of social inequality and environmental sustainability. I would love to walk through the Halls of Parliament without division bells ringing over the silencing of a member who is under investigation but who will be found innocent anyway. While we should have access to reports of political misconduct, such political misconduct shouldn’t be what clogs up our newsfeed. We shouldn’t know more about what’s happening among the politicians than what’s happening with the future of our nation.

There is a difference between access to and flooding of information when it comes to transparent governance. I passionately encourage all politicians as well as all journalists to consider this balance. How can we, as conduits of information, ensure that the population is adequately informed but still has appropriate faith and hope? The disillusionment of our political system has led to outrage and disengagement from the voting population and inaction and instability from our leaders. It is all of our responsibility to rectify this and give hope to Australians who are experiencing disillusionment with our political system.

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