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Purging electoral rorts essential

THE exposure of rorts in our electoral systems raises a number of serious issues, not least the continuation of events which serve to undermine our faith in politicians.

First and foremost, is the obvious fraud which appears to have taken place in Queensland.

It is understandable that those who believe strongly in a particular doctrine or party platform will go to great lengths to achieve their end. In many cases, the dedication of political players at all levels may even be considered quite noble.

However, cheating the system flies in the face of any noble notion of serving the nation.

Even when such rorts occur at the party level, it highlights the willingness of the people involved to break the rules when suits them, and that in turn undermines the main plank of our democratic system – that the majority rules.

There are also the concerns, highlighted in Business News last month by independent WA MLC Mark Nevill, about the constant and regular misuse of taxpayer-funded benefits provided to politicians to service their electorates.

We are beginning to see examples of this problem in WA, and Business News columnist Joe Poprzeczny takes the issue a step further this week.

But, perhaps worse than the apparent cheating, is the increasing evidence that political parties are hesitating to expose rorts among their opponents for fear the spotlight may well be turned on themselves.

This week, Federal Labor’s attempts to put some heat back on the Liberals showed just how the political system works. For many, there are just too many skeletons in the closet and to shut up may be easier than to put up.

This is clearly not in the best interests of any of us.

Mr Nevill, among others has called for political party ballots to be scrutinised by the Electoral Commission or Ombudsman.

Whether or not this will be effective, or just another imposition for political footsoldiers to get around and just another burden on taxpayers, is unknown.

In the first instance, it seems more practical for political parties to undergo their own reform. Like business, they must go through the restructuring needed to keep pace with the expectations of their market, that is the electorate.

It may not be pleasant but the current purge is simply part of the political process. And the sooner it is over, the sooner we can go back to believing politicians are there to serve us and not themselves.

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