Our politicians have well defined career life-cycles.
From initial employment in party approved training positions through to retirement or ejection from the Parliament, the life-cycle of a major party politician is a well trodden pathway.
The key to career advancement is loyal unquestioning service of the party, with the interests of the party often conflicting with the interest of the electorate and the mug voter who puts them into office.
Where is your local representative in the life-cycle of a politician?
(i) Initial employment
Political life typically commences with initial employment in an electoral or ministerial office, industry or professional association, party affiliated law firm or union, or in student politics. While working for the “good of the membership” their "real job" is to be active in the local party engaging in branch stacking, calculating numbers, and planning for their future pre-selection.
It is surprising how many politicians have never had a job outside politics, with Bill Shorten and Tony Abbott being classic cases.
How did your representative "qualify" for office? Have they ever had a job outside of politics? Have they ever worked in a small business or a factory or on a farm or in a small office?
(ii) Winning pre-selection
On gaining pre-selection the candidate receives an enormous financial boost from the party to ensure that he or she is elected. Running a political campaign is an expensive business and the flood of money received by the parties from corporations, the brands, and the state, is critical to the party getting the slogans before the electorate and to the victory of the candidate.
Who funded the campaign of your representative? How much money did the party spend to win the seat? Who are the brands behind the donations? Who controls your representative through controlling the funding of your representative?
(iii) Life on the back bench
There is no formal job description for the work of a parliamentarian. In general, backbenchers have great freedoms in performing three broad roles: parliamentarian, constituency representative, and party member.
Some politicians do a creditable job of representing their electorate. Others continue to work hard on the "politics", plotting to progress their future careers and secure lucrative promotions within the party and the Parliament. Appointment to “high office” and access to yet higher salaries, more lucrative entitlements, and more generous superannuation is a key aim of your representative.
Advancing means following the party line and in many cases putting the interests of party hierarchy and its donors before the interests of the electorate.
Have you ever met your representative? Does he or she represent your views in the Parliament or those of people in your electorate or does he or she follow the party line without deviation?
(iv) Life after Parliament
The best thing about a career in politics is that retiring from Parliament or losing an election (because you have not listened to your electorate or made any attempt to represent their interests and concerns in the Parliament) is not the end of the road.
It is just the beginning.
Towards the end of Parliament doors open to post-Parliamentary appointment to government boards, tribunals, ambassadorships, and the commencement of highly paid consultancies in the mining, banking and defence industries.
These positions are incredibly well paid and influential. The influence moves both ways, with the inducements and job offers sometimes being openly discussed while the politician is still in the Parliament and voting on critical legislation. In other cases, after a decent period of perhaps a month or two, the appointments are announced.
What work are your former representatives doing now? Were they able to secure lucrative on-going work as a lobbyist or were they appointed to comfortable government roles? Where is your current representative headed? Does he or she already have a job lined up that may be influencing the way he or she votes while still representing you?
Where is your representative now?
Martin Ferguson, the former Labor Resources Minister, became chairman of the advisory committee for the peak oil and gas industry, the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association. His colleagues, Greg Combet, former Gillard Government Minister for Climate Change, and Craig Emerson, former Minister for Trade, both work as economic consultants to AGL and Santos, two of the biggest players in coal seam gas extraction in New South Wales.
Former National Party leaders John Anderson and Mark Vaile also moved into high profile roles in mining and coal seam gas companies after politics. John Anderson became chair of Eastern Star Gas and Mark Vaile became a director and then chairman of Whitehaven Coal, the company behind Maules Creek.
Kim Beasley works for private defence interests, and Anna Bligh represents the commercial banks.
Through the network of contacts made within the party, government, and private business, and the ability to create favours-owed by controlling appointments when in office, politicians ensure on-going future careers.
The code is simple — mates look after mates. Instead of taking direct bribes to vote in a certain way, they simply vote in a certain way to advantage certain group members who later reciprocate with lucrative appointments and other offerings.
By establishing loyal groups through common membership of clubs, industry groups, and through family and business connections, and by signalling an intention to reciprocate with favours, politicians give themselves very comfortable futures.
Where is your local representative in the career path of a politician?
The victims of these party games are the mug punters in the broader electorate and the honest members of the parties who work hard to have these unrepresentative monsters elected.
With your help we will fix this.
The Democratic Reform Alliance is a political party established to direct public dissatisfaction towards enhanced structures of accountability. The Democratic Reform Alliance has a Platform underpinned by a series of strategies that would allow it to restore representation to the Australian people.
Will you join us in restoring representation to the Australian people?