Myths, Mandates and Broken Promises

The current whinge that the Gillard government has broken its election promises (e.g. on considering/not considering a carbon tax) overlooks one Big Fact about the election: the Labor Party didn’t win a mandate, as the Opposition Leader keeps saying.

And if the electorate doesn’t give one party or the other a mandate, no party can actually be expected to implement all its promises.

No-one expects Tony Abbott to keep his promises, and this is partly because his coalition didn’t get a mandate. [We all know what the other reason is: he had his fingers crossed when he made his promises anyway, so those promises don’t count — although how he keeps signing agreements with crossed fingers is a mystery.]

Obviously, if a government can only be formed by cobbling different interests together, the result to be expected is that policies will vary according to the compromises reached by those who form government.

This is Political Science 101 stuff. If you want a government to keep to its promises, you have to elect it.  If you choose to elect a motley combination of representatives, you get a motley collection of policies.

In a hung Parliament where, in order to form a government, there need to be allegiances formed with smaller parties or independents, the suggestion or expectation that somehow promises can be expected to be strictly adhered to, flies in the face of the Facts of Life.

And dreaming up surrealist “Brandisian” interpretations of the Constitution “proleptically“, as it were, as an “excuse” for breaking a signed agreement is no way to behave for someone who wants to hold others to their promises. Stones and glass houses…..


About petermaus

Former journalist, political and current affairs reporter/producer. Former media adviser to ALP and later Senior Adviser to Federal Minister. More recently, 20 years as technical writer in the computer industry, so entitled to claim to have demonstrated evidence of true penitence.
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