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Australians don’t trust politicians, but the pollies don’t appear fussed

Jill Sheppard comments at the ABC’s website (30.5.18) that citizens in democracies are expecting more from their political systems and political leaders, and they are increasingly underwhelmed by what they see. She asserts that, while in Australia we can fix problems of leadership, dual citizenship and even gender parity, the rot goes deeper still.

‘Over the past four decades, citizens of democracies all over the world have lost faith in their governments. Here in Australia, we’ve been blissfully oblivious. But recently, we’ve caught the disease.

‘And now that we have it, we’re not at all sure how to get rid of it.

‘After the 2016 federal election, Australians were the least satisfied with our democratic system at any time since the Whitlam dismissal in 1975. My fellow political scientists and I thought that the hung parliament of 2010 had driven Australian voters to contemporary lows in political satisfaction. We were wrong.

‘Following that year’s election, crossbench members of the House of Representatives took 17 days to confirm their support for Julia Gillard to form a Labor-controlled minority government. In contrast, Western European democracies regularly take weeks or months following an election to decide governing coalitions.

‘… When our expectations are met — more or less — we tend to be satisfied. But at some point our political system may no longer meet citizens’ expectations.’

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