UNDER FIRE: Labor Senator Sam Dastyari.
UNDER FIRE: Labor Senator Sam Dastyari. DEAN LEWINS-AAP

OPINION: We deserve MPs loyal to the public


It's a powerful thing.

Just ask New South Wales Senator Sam Dastyari.

The Chinese payments scandal he has become embroiled in only reinforces the need for sweeping change to political donations in this country.

At what point did we as a society roll over and say it was acceptable for our political aspirants to take cash from interest groups?

I don't recall it happening.

Apathy is a cancer which, if left unchecked, rots away at the integrity of our democratic system.

We're seeing that before our own eyes now.

Whether it's a Senator having a $1600-odd bill paid for by Chinese interest groups or a regional councillor taking donations from developers, the bottom line is the act itself erodes confidence in the system and casts long shadows over future decision-making.

Don't we deserve better than that as a public?

Don't our politicians deserve better than that?

Surely they would like the opportunity to be judged solely on their leadership merits?

And us as voters should be craving leadership independent of external pressures.

Political parties and politicians should be serving one entity only.


But how does that work in reality?

There's an argument that could be made as to whether we even need political parties full stop.

The party itself seems to have become all-important.

No longer is the lust for control of the corridors of power about winning the right to serve and make a difference to the nation.

It seems it is now simply about the kudos of having one particular party in power over another.

Leaders come and go, Oppositions look to score cheap points on the back of stunts void of substance, yet we still sit idly by.

Is there a way every candidate could receive a minimum, standard amount of funding and if unsuccessful, have to pay back part or all of that sum?

Why not put every player on a level field.

Give them equal airtime.

What's the risk?

That an uneducated or disinterested voting public doesn't throw votes at the first name they see?

An increase in invalid voting?

Perhaps we make voting non-compulsory while we're at it and let the truly disenfranchised opt out of the process altogether and let the politically engaged section of the population make an informed decision?

I'm not sure what the solution is but there must be a better way to ensure our pollies are serving the entire population, not a select few from here or abroad that are lining the right pockets.

Until then there's no doubt we'll see MP pay rises granted unchecked while cuts are made and pressure mounts on us, the laid-back majority silly enough to sit back and take it.

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