Senator Cory Bernardi addressed the National Press Club
last week, decrying mediocrity and a lack of conviction in politics.
Just hours after helping the Coalition repeal the carbon tax, Senator Bernardi delivered his speech, titled “Australian politics is in serious need of reform”.
He identified a growing cynicism among Australian voters, who have come to expect dishonesty and a lack of integrity from politicians. This is a worldwide trend, he said, and is the main force behind the rise in minor parties across Europe, in the US, and here in Australia.
He said the success of parties like the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the Party for Freedom – the successor to Geert Wilder’s party – and the success of the Tea Party movement in the USA is the result of growing disenchantment with the major parties.
And while minor parties are succeeding on both the left and the right, they hold in common the goal of sustainable immigration reform and the conservation of national culture.
In Australia, voters are turning away from the major parties and the Greens and turning to alternatives such as the Palmer United Party and Nick Xenophon.
Senator Bernardi argued that mediocrity and a lack of conviction is commonplace in Australian politics, but that it is mistaken for moderation.
Sincerity and conviction, in contrast, are mistaken for extremism, but the public respects conviction and demands it of their representatives.
Senator Bernardi did not attempt to offer the solution to Australian politics’ need for reform, but he did make a number of suggestions. These included returning the Senate to its intended use, a house of review of legislation, by limiting Senate terms and barring Senators from ministerial positions. He called for greater transparency of government spending, ending tax-funded benefits for politicians once they leave office, and greater public engagement through citizen petitions.
The Senator was also asked about same-sex marriage, and whether the Coalition should allow a conscience vote. He answered that although technically all Coalition members are free to cross the floor on any issue, the Coalition is right to hold to a party position on such a fundamental issue.