9 April 2020
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Has our hate session on politicians gone too far?

Peter Switzer
30 May 2018


It’s one thing to have an objective assessment on the plonkers we call politicians (which is a gentle dig at some of my buddies in Canberra), and it’s another to have a habitual hate session on these generally decent human beings, who currently are finding the job of leading damn hard.

The Coalition team has to deal with a Senate made up of people who sensible Australians of the 1980s and 1990s would never have tolerated representing them. I don’t want to get into the gutter, so I won’t name them but I bet there have been times when you’ve thought: “Him? A Senator? How did that happen? Shame! Shame! Shame!”

Of course, some are there because they actually say what many of us are thinking and it’s often what the pea-hearted pollies of today are too scared to be connected with. It happens on both sides of Parliament, with Bill scared of his left and union mates and Malcolm worried about offending his left-leaning liberals, the ABC and then the right who think he’s the best Labor PM of the 21st century!

This little stream of consciousness, which I see as an objective defence of our country’s public representatives, follows some aggressive tweeting, which I was alerted to by the tweeter.

The tweet read: “Lawyer politicians who take credit for the economy are like roosters taking credit for the sunrise!”

Whoever started this nasty piece of satire, with comical overtones, looped @TurnbullMalcolm, @1petermartin, @peterswitzer and @1RossGittins into his tweet-fest.

Amusing as it might sound, it is a patently unfair proposition because lawyer politicians have done some nice work. Both John Howard and Peter Costello were lawyers and you’d have to argue that the GST and the associated tax changes and economic responses were related.

Both Malcolm and Scott Morrison are lawyers and while their profound economic impacts on the economy could be debated, they haven’t stood in the way of over 430,000 jobs being created in 2017 under their watch.

And you’d have to be a one-eyed political spectator to not accept that current Senators have been obstructionists. This is a team made up of Labor, the Greens and the wild and whacky crossbench Senators, who are like the irritating character on Little Britain who wines: “Computer says no!”

It might be fair to argue that some lawyers have often become out of touch with real or majority Australia, and the 24/7 news cycle and social media have meant that politicians of today are more regularly under the media microscope. I’d argue that this has created a collection of underwhelming MPs.

In 2013, Evan Whitton (writing for the website — www.independentaustralia.net) revealed: “Q. How many lawyers are actually in the Parliament (not counting the Labor six making a graceful exit: Julia Gillard, Simon Crean, Stephen Smith, Nicola Roxon, Peter Garrett, Robert McClelland.)?
A. 60 (26.5%.)”

That’s 60 out of 226 members across both Houses of Parliament, which is about 26%. So let’s say a quarter of our reps are legal eagles.

Evan also revealed that: “Voters might find the number dispiriting. A July 2013 Reader’s Digest poll found that Australian lawyers are less trusted than police, bus drivers, hairdressers, waiters and cleaners. Of trusted professions, lawyers were placed 39th, journalists 43rd (thanks Rupert), talk-back radio hosts 44th and prostitutes 46th.”

So I guess the original tweeter has been driven by his/her overall disdain for lawyers, who then have doubled down on their distastefulness by becoming politicians. The Reader’s Digest poll showed that three below sex workers, at 49th, were politicians! But they weren’t the most despised because they are more popular than door-to-door salespeople!

Regular readers know I’m conflicted with Scott Morrison. I taught him economics at UNSW a few decades ago, but it was inside his law degree. His last Budget (which is delivering tax cuts, infrastructure spending and has brought big company tax collections to help bring down the Budget Deficit while working with an obstructionist Senate) shows that at least his policies aren’t counterproductive.

I know Scott and Malcolm wanted to broaden and raise the GST to deliver big income tax cuts. However the Senate said “No” so governments now and in the future will probably terrorize retirees, who have squirrelled away their super to only be called the “filthy rich!”

As you can see, I can lay into pollies when I have to! But to suggest that lawyer politicians don’t deserve some credit for our economy that has grown for virtually 27 years without a recession is unfair.

After all, the ALP’s Senator John Button was a barrister. He was the guy who helped then Treasurer Paul Keating reshape the Australian industry, which largely explained why our economy has done so well for 27 years, along with a bit of help from China, our miners and farmers.

But of course, Twitter and social media generally have never gone long on fairness and positivity, apart from the world’s preoccupation with taking photos of food at restaurants and then sending them to friends and family on Instagram, Facebook, email, text and WhatsApp.

What’s that about? (I’ll cover this madness in Weekend Switzer some day!)


Peter Switzer's book Join the Rich Club is on sale for 30% off from the Switzer Store until the end of Easter. Click here to pick up a copy today!

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