Australia, which includes the national government and parliament, faces a number of crucial issues.

Most Aussies just care about the cost of living. Photo: The Daily Telegraph

A short list: the carbon tax; the two-speed economy; problems for the manufacturing sector; real difficulties in the steel industry; coal seam gas extraction versus prime farming land.

Further, there are serious worries about productivity levels; concern about the need for a review and revamp of the industrial laws, which everyone except the unions and the government are suggesting are too rigid.

Even the Governor of the Reserve Bank, who is always very careful with his words, left the impression that productivity might need some attention, and the industrial relations system might need more flexibility.

Some unions responded by demanding that the Board should contain some workers. 

Facing a list of crucial issues like that, one would expect the government, the opposition, and the parliament would be beavering away trying to find the best solution for the nation. But these absolutely central issues seem to have been put on the backburner.

So what are the denizens of the parliament focusing on? Greens Adam Bandt sent all 226 MPs out to their electorates to establish the public mood on same sex marriage, and to report back. Perhaps it might have been a better task to establish the public mood on some of the list above.

Independent Andrew Wilkie has emphasized that his support for Prime Minister Gillard – essentially for the existence of a Gillard government, rests on achieving his reforms to poker machine legislation. See list above for a comparison of importance.

The Greens are demanding that Australia moves immediately to renewable energy. That means by-passing gas as a “half-way house” source with less carbon emissions.

Nice dream, but where will the base load power come from? And one faction of the Greens seems to have put demonstrations at chocolate shops which are tied to Israel at the top of the agenda. Again, see list above.

Then there is the case of alleged misuse of union and Labor party funds by an MP. This has been passed on to the police for examination. It would be logical for all concerned that they wait for the police report, and then debate and act. But, instead of that, there has been a Gillard/Abbott verbal brawl, which appears like two rabid Pit Bulls going for each other’s throats.

Meanwhile, what does the public think? The latest Newspoll found Labor at rock bottom on 27 per cent of the first preference votes, and leader Gillard as a deeply unpopular Prime Minister.

The Coalition stood at a two-party vote of 57 per cent, but 55 per cent were dissatisfied with the Abbott leadership. In terms of better Prime minister, 62 per cent said no to Gillard; 61 per cent said no to Abbott. Could there be a clearer statement that the majority of the public want something much better?

I took up the Bandt proposal to find out what the people think. Over the last week or so, I have talked to a non-scientific sample of ordinary voters, and asked their opinions about the policy foci and political styles of the government, the opposition, the Greens, and the two main leaders.

I found a wide-spread mood of deep frustration with politics and politicians.The 226 MPs should go back to their electors and try a similar set of questions, and report back to the parliament.

To summarise overwhelming majority opinion (including the vehemence): “they should SHUT THE HELL UP with the fringe issue nonsense, and get back to governing for the nation”.

That seems to be very sound advice indeed.

Most commented


Show oldest | newest first

    • Matt says:

      08:42am | 01/09/11

      Nice… yes indeed, shut the hell up and start running the country again.  You’d think these days, with google available for all, you’d be at least writing in facts - not making up points as you go to prove your ‘theory’ Mr Jaensch… The ‘one faction’ of the Greens happens to be one senator; one senator = one faction these days does it?  Bob Brown has also made it clear he does not support it the boycott…  Also, if you’d happen to check the policies, you’d see the Greens ‘base power’ will still be coal - they’re quite aware the country still needs power while moving to renewable energy.  They’re not the stupid stoned hippies your generation seems to think they are… 

      The governments have evolved into a pack of fools, more interested in bickering between themselves, left vs right, good vs bad, liar vs idiot… They’re both exactly the same and as pathetic as each other.

    • John A Neve says:

      10:18am | 01/09/11

      I doubt you could deny, that if all the factions in our parliament put as much effort into solving the countries woes. As they do into fighting amongst themselves, we’d all be better off.
      Truly, in my view politics in this country is at it’s lowest point in my lifetime.

    • Matt says:

      12:58pm | 01/09/11

      John of course I wouldn’t deny it… in fact, I even stated as much if you actually read my comment - ‘The governments have evolved into a pack of fools, more interested in bickering between themselves’

      My view of politics is also at it’s lowest point, but I am getting sick of people dumping on the Greens for no reason - especially when at the moment they are the one party that is more interested in getting things done than bickering..

    • Richard says:

      08:54am | 01/09/11

      Well if some sensible, responsible economic managers (i.e. the opposition) were given the CHANCE, then the government WOULD shut the helll up and get back to running the nation.

      I don’t see what the point of this article is: we know the Labor/Greens government is hopelessly incompetent and not up to the task of running the nation. If you’re trying to paint the opposition with the same brush, that’s a farce. The last time they governed we had smooth stable effective competent government, and we will again if you and every other media/academia apologist stop propping up the current government and allow some adults to take over.

    • egg says:

      11:37am | 01/09/11

      *rolls eyes and makes furious wanking gesture* yeah yeah, liberal was just too cool for school. that’s why you were voted out, huh?

    • John A Neve says:

      02:30pm | 01/09/11

      I am sorry, but under what is now the opposition, we had twelve years of do nothing stagnation.
      They bought government with tax cuts, money that should have been spent on infrastructure.
      Sadly, I see little to choose between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, both sides have wasted this countries chances and the people are paying the price.

    • marley says:

      03:03pm | 01/09/11

      @John A Neve - well, I’m a relative newcomer to Australia, but I seem to recall being told that infrastructure was to a large extent a state responsibility - and didn’t Australia have wall-to-wall ALP state governments during this period of stagnation?

    • jf says:

      03:42pm | 01/09/11

      John A Neve says:02:30pm | 01/09/11

      Our side is bad, but yours is worse

      “I am sorry, but under what is now the opposition, we had twelve years of do nothing stagnation.”


      “They bought government with tax cuts, money that should have been spent on infrastructure.”

      According to Ged Kearney, Australia’s most senior union official and chief coalition protagonist, Australia has the best infrastructure in the world.

    • John A Neve says:

      04:24pm | 01/09/11

      Infrastructure, be it major or minor is both a state and federal responsiblity. Much of it is paid with federal grants, I have never heard of the states knocking back federal funding. Rather, they always seem to claim that they do not get enough federal support. In fact the new private hospital we are getting in this region is due, in part ,to a $47million federal grant.

    • John A Neve says:

      04:27pm | 01/09/11

      I won’t comment on Mr. Kearney, but ask your fellows, what they think of the state of Australian infrastructure?

    • jf says:

      05:34pm | 01/09/11

      John A Neve says:04:27pm | 01/09/11

      “I won’t comment on Mr. Kearney, but ask your fellows, what they think of the state of Australian infrastructure? “

      That would be Ms Kearney.

      Look, you have a point. Some areas of infrastructure have been neglected, particularly in SE Qld. The areas that have been most horribly appear to have been state or local responsibilities. I am trying to think of areas that fall within federal responsibility that were neglected. I am also trying to think of a single useful contribution to the country’s infrastructure that this horrible mob in Canberra have been made.

    • Nathan says:

      04:29am | 02/09/11

      Well if some sensible, responsible economic managers (i.e. the opposition) hahaha are you serious. They are incompetent as well, they can’t and won’t deliver the cost cutting they say that will. Remember the last election and when they send their costing to treasury… are having a laugh that they would be responsible economic manager

    • Maree says:

      09:27pm | 04/09/11

      Ah, the old “they shoulda spent more on infrustructure”. Brother, is that a well worn out phrase. The answer is: It will never be enough !. Infrustructure spending is complex and filled with economic trapps, as any good business person knows. The BER is a good example. The balance between what is needed versus what is wanted will always be the question. At this stage in our history, NO government has ever got it right.

    • Tubesteak says:

      09:06am | 01/09/11

      Australia is dead in the water. The only reason we’re moving anywhere is because some countries want our resources. Once that stops or slows down we’ll have very little other than our own sonsumptive interests to keep us going.

      Ross Gittens and Michael Pascoe hit the nail on the head yesterday in the SMH. This is what we should be doing. But it won’t happen. If we don’t do anything then I suggest leaving Oz for HK or Singapore.

    • Chris_D says:

      09:16am | 01/09/11

      I don’t necessarily agree with all the authors points, but I agree 100% with his sentiment.

    • Adam Diver says:

      10:04am | 01/09/11

      I too agree. My advice to governments (all levels and persuasions) is that you make problems not fix them when you over-extend our authority.

    • Sherlock says:

      09:25am | 01/09/11

      We have a drinking game in which we have to have a drink every time, during a government press conference, a government minister stops talking about his own actions and starts laying into the opposition.

      I don’t think I’ve managed to make it through any televised press briefing sober. It usually takes lees than a minute before your first drink and if they start taking questions by the end of it none of us can stand up properly.

      My suggestion to the government is to spend less time being fixated on what the opposition is doing and more time concentrating on what you’re doing.

      Effective government is the perfect defence to any opposition attacks

    • TheRealDave says:

      10:07am | 01/09/11

      Hey! Me and my mates have a similar drinking game! Great minds think alike! Except, in our game, we have to take a drink everytime the Opposition releases a new policy.

      So far - we’ve been sober for about 4 years…..

      I never said it was a good drinking game…..

    • Adam Diver says:

      10:08am | 01/09/11

      You might be an alcoholic if you choose to play that game. Every time a government minister attacks the opposition, it is an indictment on their own lack of achievements, and only acceptable at the beginning of a new government.

      The worse part is they are not even any good at it anymore. I am not sure if they understand the importance of a segue (not sure if I spelt that correctly).

      Interviewer: So minister you are having issues with (insert any portfolio here)
      Minister: Tony Abbott wears speedos and protesters are filth

      Every journalist in the country lucky enough to interview politicians should pull them up any time they don’t answer a question or respond with petty name calling.

    • Sherlock says:

      10:43am | 01/09/11

      @TheRealDave at 10.07

      The only people who care about opposition policies 2 years out from an election are the media and die hard Labor supporters both of whom only want them to have something else to criticise.

      The rest of us didn’t care what the Labor opposition said for 12 years nor care when the Liberal opposition say now. It’s really one of the few benefits of being in opposition is that basically you can almost say anything and nobody really cares.

      The only time anyone really pays any attention to the opposition is just before an election.

      If Labor realised that and got on with providing good government instead of being obsessed about everything Tony Abbot says or does their polling figures would be a lot bigger than 27%

    • jf says:

      11:59am | 01/09/11

      TheRealDave says:10:07am | 01/09/11

      Click on here and eat, drink and be merry. Be sure not to drive afterwards though.

      Surprised you’d play a game like this when you have no interest in politics.

    • Steve says:

      12:05pm | 01/09/11

      Therealdave. This Government is now into it’s second term. Liberal diehards and swinging voters are not listening or giving any credibility to claims that these problems are the fault of the opposition.

      The coalition did, on the whole, a pretty good job in Government for 11 years. Whilst there have been personnel changes I think it is fair to say that most Australians know what they will get from a coalition Govt.That is the great advantage about being conservative. The Governments are pretty much the same. If it aint broke you don’t fix it. No change for the sake of change.

      Unfortunately for the ALP and its supporters the impression of what a coalition Government would look like is strongly preferable to what we have at the moment.

      This is irrespective false claims that they don’t have policies. That is ALP spin. If you don’t believe me you can access their website to see the policy platform for yourself. You might find it interesting.

      This only leaves the last deperate hope for the ALP to peddle the line “Yes we are crap but the coalition would be worse” That is essentially a paraphrase of your post today.

      Well Dave that line is falling on deaf ears to all but the most ardent of ALP supporters who would never vote for a conservative force.

      Are the Greens starting to look pretty good to you yet?

    • hot tub political machine says:

      12:08pm | 01/09/11

      Its really really sad that anyone in a democracy doesn’t think its important to investigate the policies of an alternative government.

      I guess it show the “lucky country” drinking, apathetic stereotype can often hold true.

    • MarK says:

      12:23pm | 01/09/11

      “Its really really sad that anyone in a democracy doesn’t think its important to investigate the policies of an alternative government.”

      Remind me of the other oppostions that released their full policy brief 2 years prior to an election date.

    • hot tub political machine says:

      12:35pm | 01/09/11

      Relevance?  Citizens and political parties are not one and the same.

    • LC says:

      09:38am | 01/09/11

      If Labor does not do some serious housecleaning soon, like dumping rubbish policies such as the carbon tax and the internet filter, cutting thier wasteful spending, start paying back foreign debts and bring us back into surplus,  they will face being in opposition until 2025-2030. All the Libs will have to to win every time is remind us what a mess they’ve made of things in such a short time in office

      And that is going to hurt our democracy, perticularly if they gain control of the senate as well. The power they gain will at some point go to thier heads.

      The only good news is that when Labor goes over the political cliff, they could very well take the Greens with them.

    • JT says:

      03:08pm | 01/09/11

      When are we going to learn, the Coalition are good financial managers, the Labor party will, are, and always will be - well crap at managing finances because they will always have to piss in the pockets of the Unions and the Greens.

    • centurion48 says:

      09:57am | 01/09/11

      I think it is possible for a competent government to address both major and minor issues but the current spectacle of parliament is simply embarassing for all people who conscientiously elected these clowns. Both sides need to take a good hard look at themselves and ask if they are providing value for money to the Australian people. I would certainly agree with Dean Jaensch that the big picture items need to be progressed at all costs and if this is at the expense of gambling and marriage reforms then so be it.
      Further, I can’t believe the government is getting the full support of the public service. Surely they cannot have stuffed up as many programs as they have without poor (or disinterested) advice and support from public servants. Or, has the public service been bypassed by the inner circle of spin doctors and is full of self-pitying bitterness? Either way, the system is broken and needs a razor gang to ruthlessly remove the cancers that are killing us.

    • Anna C says:

      10:06am | 01/09/11

      Apparently two thirds of the politicians who chose to speak in parliament about gay marriage reported that the majority of their constituents did not support it. Funny how neither the ABC nor the SMH bothered to report this fact?

      I think the above just goes to prove Dean’s point that most people are sick to death of this government pandering to the policies of the Greens and Independents like gay marriage, pokies tax, carbon tax etc and just want them to get on with the job of running the nation and reforming our economy.

    • TheRaptured says:

      08:33pm | 01/09/11

      Everything the greens are about is set in stone on the “Georgia Guide Stones.” Destruction of the human race!

    • iansand says:

      10:10am | 01/09/11

      It has nothing to do with parties.

      It has a lot to do with this thing called the “news cycle” we discovered a few years ago.  The meeja demands a new episode of colour and movement every 37 seconds.  Personally, I think we should put that in the bike shed and lock the door. Or perhaps we should use goldfish as reporters - they have a longer attention span.  Another symptom is sound bite politics, where complex concepts must be reduced to an idea that can be expressed in 3 seconds.  The idea is ridiculous, but it has been a major driver of policy since perfected by Bob Carr a couple of decades ago.

    • TomZ says:

      12:25pm | 01/09/11

      Best comment yet. Bob Car was a whizz at recycling his announcements. As for delivery? ..... who cares? Certainly not our shit-stupid meeja.

    • MarK says:

      12:26pm | 01/09/11

      Agree 100%. Particularly the Carr critique/observation.

      I will toss another in as well. The Beattie mea culpa aided and abetted by the msm took responsibility away from governments and ministers to be accountable for their errors. It entrenched tolerance and indifference to the mundane and incompetent.

    • PTom says:

      01:06pm | 01/09/11

      I think the current government has ” SHUT THE HELL UP with the fringe issue nonsense, and get back to governing for the nation”.

      Do you know how many reforms have been put in place like
      Easy switch Banking
      Carbon capture for farming
      Interstate transport regulation
      Interstate trade license
      Mental Health
      Superannuation increase
      Laptop in schools.
      So all small but still part of getting on with governing for the nation.

      When you asked people did they want the NBN? how about health reforms and education reforms I bet they where higher on the list then protection of a one steel company and they are about running the country too.

      The manufacturing sector needs to change we will never be able to have a large lower pay work force which the liberal seem hell bent on. Even countries like China is moving to the next level of manufacturing. More money should be instead be spent on training and education.
      I wonder how many people in Australia complain about the high dollar that is not invloved in exports or tourist industry?

      We have governments giving laptops to school childern, well someone has been listen to this debate.  Thailand has recently announce tablet computer for every child not just those in senior year.
      They are going to use these to help replace textbooks, but what do we do whinge because some child in Australia is getting more then you.

      I think it is more of the case that we have been spoonfeed bullshite and dog whistles from the media instead of what the government is actual doing.  Which has created biggest pack of whinges every.

      If we actual looked at what we need to do now to improve our productivity over the next twenty years. We would be taxing the shite of resources and pour that into investment funds(like super), education and infrastructure like VFT and NBN not just on coal lines to a new port in the middle of no where.

    • iansand says:

      02:15pm | 01/09/11

      But what will I watch after the rugby on Satdy arvo?

    • Knemon says:

      02:11pm | 01/09/11

      “In terms of better Prime minister, 62 per cent said no to Gillard; 61 per cent said no to Abbott. Could there be a clearer statement that the majority of the public want something much better?” –

      You bet there isn’t, but this is as good as we’ve got, and probably as good as we deserve.

      Why would anyone with any talent bother entering Australian politics today? What incentive is there? The pay’s shit and the abuse is endless, especially from the media.

      Amazing, this is probably the best article on The Punch today yet it has the least comments - mention boat people and they come screaming out of the woodwork.

    • TheRaptured says:

      05:43pm | 01/09/11

      When you have a government that is busy working around the clock destoying this country for the globalist elite bidding, who really is gillard’s master’s and employer’s. No wonder the government has not time to listen and worry about the disasterous effect of the damage it is doing in the first place. Look at Albanese for example, he just laugh’s at the voting public like we are a bunch of idiots when we speak up. They don’t care!  When the population of this country finally wakes up to what this evil government is doing to their country, then the population will really be angry!

    • Richard says:

      07:18pm | 01/09/11

      I like you TheRaptured~ you dare to think boldly.

    • TheRaptured says:

      10:05pm | 01/09/11

      Shut the hell up and get back to ruining the nation.

      Thank Dean!


Facebook Recommendations

Read all about it

Punch live

Up to the minute Twitter chatter

Recent posts

The latest and greatest

The Punch is moving house

The Punch is moving house

Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

Will Pope Francis have the vision to tackle this?

I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

Advocating risk management is not “victim blaming”

In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…

Nosebleed Section

choice ringside rantings

From: Hasbro, go straight to gaol, do not pass go

Tim says:

They should update other things in the game too. Instead of a get out of jail free card, they should have a Dodgy Lawyer card that not only gets you out of jail straight away but also gives you a fat payout in compensation for daring to arrest you in the first place. Instead of getting a hotel when you… [read more]

From: A guide to summer festivals especially if you wouldn’t go

Kel says:

If you want a festival for older people or for families alike, get amongst the respectable punters at Bluesfest. A truly amazing festival experience to be had of ALL AGES. And all the young "festivalgoers" usually write themselves off on the first night, only to never hear from them again the rest of… [read more]

Gentle jabs to the ribs

Superman needs saving

Superman needs saving

Can somebody please save Superman? He seems to be going through a bit of a crisis. Eighteen months ago,… Read more



Read all about it

Sign up to the free newsletter