Democracy damns us with governments we deserve

There would be almost universal acceptance that an athlete who did not practice would be, axiomatically, unfit for duty. If you don’t attempt to perfect your skills you cannot expect them to be of a winning standard.

It seems such a simple and straightforward proposition. So, how come we expect parliamentarians to be far more gifted than elite athletes? It is a farcical and excessively costly mistake and one we are seeing played out damagingly in the Queensland Parliament currently.

The new Liberal National Party administration of Premier Campbell Newman is displaying all the finesse of a drunken sailor attempting to dance a fandango on a wet and slippery bar-room floor. It ain’t a pretty sight.

It would be easy to label Newman The Nepotist even if he has not (so far, did someone say?) been directly guilty of the practice himself. Perhaps Campbell the Cronyist will have to suffice given his placement of former mate Michael Caltabiano into the Director-Generalship of the Department of Transport and Main Roads

Overlook the appearance of cronyism, the Premier urged his flock back then. This man will deliver value for money, he pledged. Until it all spectacularly exploded in his face and taxpayers are forking out around a million dollars to cover Caltabiano’s enforced period in the sin bin and the cost of replacement players in a charade of musical chairs that simply sounds cacophonous. How’s that working for you, premier? Not doing much for us, mate.

Two Ministers have been forced to quit (or voluntarily resigned, as one would have us believe) in the first eight months of this new government. And several others have skated on ice so thin it almost produced waves.

And voters are still agog at how many members of one Minister’s family could find such lucrative employment in and around and on the teat of government. And they reckon it’s not who you know. Yeah, right!

The offensive whiff of scandal must be starting to nauseate those optimistic reformers who hoped so longingly that a new government would set standards infinitely higher than the besmirched set that guided the previous several Labor administrations.

Who thought anyone could go lower than passing a law to allow parliamentarians to lie to parliament? We’ll have to wait and see but on present indicators we may even be able to hold our breaths.

The sad aspect of the Newman ministry’s baptism of administration is that so much of the pain could have been avoided if the key players had a sound familiarity with governing. But when you spend more than 90% of the past twenty years languishing in Opposition, your skills at ruling become very rusty.

Such is the price of democracy wherein voters judged the Liberals and Nationals to be unfit to govern for so long, trusting Labor instead. But you would have thought those sitting opposite would have taken far greater notice of their opponent’s mistakes and pledged solemnly to themselves to do far better when they got their hands on the levers of power. Guess they just dozed the days away.

Worse is that these new Ministers were not given intensive initiation into their administrative roles and the expectations of them before they started to believe they were born to rule.

Good government demands familiarity with the burdens of administering well. Lengthy periods in government or opposition substantially diminish the prospects of quality governance. That is but one of the many flaws that make democracy sparkle in a wickedly warped way.

But the incumbents should realise that elections roll around very quickly and voters have surely demonstrated their willingness to jettison those found wanting. Judgment Day looms.