Citizens have always grudgingly accepted that politicians lie, and they are willing to elect candidates who offer them scant policy detail. But when politicians lie about even that scant policy detail, it’s no longer clear exactly what elections in Australia are for. They’re not endorsements of judgement, because the judgement relies on trust. They’re not endorsements of policy, because we don’t know what it is. They are opening up a democratic deficit we can’t levy our way out of.
Instead of fronting up to the electorate, governments now invent a whole category of external bodies: commissions of audit, reviews, people’s assemblies, future summits. They create a kind of pseudo-consent, the illusion of consultation, objectivity and changed circumstances. They mimic the representative format of parliament, but do it in a way that’s both predictable and disposable. Unpopular policies already well planned seem to come from some external body, which is then quickly disbanded, and the government looks benign in comparison.
From Richard Cooke’s “The people versus the political class in The Monthly.