Election 2019

No room for ‘loose cannons’

A lack of diversity in our parliament is killing conversation, experts have warned.

Murdoch University senior lecturer in Australian politics Ian Cook believed socially challenged voices were not being heard as a result of major parties comfortably remaining in power.

He said it could be beneficial to have a minority government who were forced to convince the cross bench to side with their policies.

“Otherwise it crushes conversation and is just a waste of time,” he said.

Parliament House – Photo: Samantha Cooke

United Australia candidate for Swan Peter McLernon agreed but stated the issue with representation was it remains “much of the same”.

“The end result is decision-making based on old ideology rather than new ideas,” he said.

“If everybody fits the mould then there is unlikely to be change.”

Mr McLernon was a previous prominent Liberal member who helped candidates through the pre-selection process and explained it had the effect of knocking the edges off them.

“Anyone with their own opinion is soon identified as a loose cannon,” he said.

“They then become someone to be concerned about as they might rock the boat.”

Federal Liberal Member for Tangney Ben Morton disagreed.

He said every member had different life experiences and family background and therefore contributed different ideas.

“Everyone is free to take the initiative… to share their views and ideas and influence party policy,” he said.

Unlike other states, Western Australia currently holds only Labor and Liberal seats in the lower house.

If a non-major party candidate from WA was elected next month it would be the first time since 2010 and previously since 1996.

However, Dr Cook said our two-party dominated system was unlikely to change due to the challenges other parties faced in establishing themselves in the lower house.

Mr Morton felt this was no accident and WA voters have simply chosen these candidates as they are hard-working.

“WA voters are free to vote for any party or any candidate who they feel best represents their values and community,” he said.

Dr Cook would like to see younger people in the parties and believed there needs to be more interesting news commentary to improve the public’s engagement in politics.

“Major news outlets have a pretty driven formula that’s not that interesting,” he said.

Mr McLernon felt voters were feeling disenfranchised by both major parties.

“I think that one of the major reasons for this is the short sightedness of both parties,” he said.

“Australia is capable of becoming a world leader but leadership must come from the top down.”