Rise of professional politicians – Australia

An excellent article from Nick Bryant echoes in Australia what I’ve pointed out about NZ and the UK;

For the first time in Australian history, “political professionals” make up a majority of Canberra parliamentarians.

He describes two Labour MPs, Leigh and Brodtmann, as notable because they

had bucked a system that not only heavily favours political professionals, apparatchiks and hacks, but has come to be virtually monopolised by them.

He picks the many political professionals leading the major Parties;

former political staffers occupy the two most senior seats on the front bench.

While accepting that many major political figures have come up through the party ranks, Bryant claims:

the colonisation of parliament by party professionals has had a hugely degenerative effect. From the acid partisanship to the poison of Question Time, Canberra is giving off the stench of decay, as small, stagnant ponds are prone to when they fail to be replenished.

The trend has been noted over the past decade;

In 2003, John Howard bemoaned the shrinking political “gene pool”. The year before, a senior Liberal delivered a speech in Melbourne warning that declining party membership rolls were giving rise to a small political cadre. There were “fewer, less representative candidates” and “fewer, less-mainstream ideas on which to draw for policy”.

The irony of that speech is that is was written by another insider – so even the critique of political professionalism is simply a theme used by political professionals.

The speech was entitled Operators vs. Representatives, and its author was Tony Abbott.

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