Why bother interviewing politicians?

I’ve just watched our Federal Treasurer, Wayne Swan, speaking from yet another G20 conference and once again I’ve learned nothing new from him.

Swan says he doesn’t want to speculate about the budget. Well, neither do we. We’d rather hear the facts than speculations but he’s not going to tell us anything until Budget Day.

I guess it’s because there’s nothing new to say except that things is grim but it’s not the Government’s fault. Whenever I hear that it’s not the Government’s fault I invariably begin to suspect that it may be. Methinks Swan and Rudd are protesting too much.

Now I don’t really believe that it is our Government’s fault per se, but it is the fault of people who did not monitor how business and lending and borrowing were carried out. I hope that in the future we may have some better system which will prevent the outrageous credit that was handed out to people who should not be borrowers at all since they weren’t in a position to repay the loan.

Of course, nothing is that simple and it is hard to tell people who want something that they have to save up for it, especially if banks are literally throwing money their way. How many of such borrowers would be able to refuse the credit on account of not being able to afford repayments?

We have to live with the debacle now, but I would like to hear some optimism from our Government. Sadly, there is very little of it. Even President Obama is more upbeat than our Government and yet we are supposed to be in a better position than the U.S.

I suspect that the reason for all this talk of misery is because we are about to receive another budget and since Rudd will not be able to deliver a rosy one he is paving the way for an “Oh I thought it would be worse than that” scenario. So we are fed tiny morsels of information cunningly leaked so that we should expect a horror budget.

This theatre of the absurd is nothing new. It always happens before a budget announcement, no matter which party is in government. The grim predictions usually turn out to be better than we were led to expect and so we are relieved or is that reprieved? Until the next budget, that is.

This whole routine is so predictable that it becomes annoying when someone like Wayne Swan says “I never speculate on what’s in the budget.” His use of the term “speculate” is totally wrong when he actually means to say is “to comment” or “to divulge”. There is absolutely no speculation about it. The main thrust of the budget has already been decided by Rudd and Swan

So why pretend? We can speculate all we want but it’s not going to make a bit of difference to the politician in the interviewing room because he knows all about it and he’s playing silly games with the interviewer and with his audience. Why doesn’t Swan say “It’s for me to know and you to find out. So there.” At least that would have a ring of authenticity in it.

In my view, there is only one serving politician who is worth listening to, and he is Lindsay Tanner, our Finance Minister. He really listens to the interviewer and actually answers questions, unlike the other politicians who just keep on repeating the same mantra that Rudd has prescribed. It is very frustrating for an audience to sit through repetition after repetition of a chanson du jour. And as we know the pet phrase at the moment is “I’m not going to speculate blah blah…”.

If they’ re not going to answer questions, then why bother interviewing serving politicians?

On the other hand, wouldn’t you think that this would be a good time for the Opposition to come up with some great ideas? Sadly, they aren’t talking either except to complain about the Government. Now according to the Opposition, the Government is spending too much money or not enough money. It is trying to stimulate the economy but is going about it the wrong way.

So how would the Opposition handle it? Well, they’re not telling and I’m beginning to suspect that they haven’t a clue. All they want to do is complain about the Government. As far as the Opposition is concerned, the people of Australia can just go jump, because the Opposition is more interested in getting elected than in saving our economy.

It’s a wasted opportunity to show that they really care about the recession and are willing to help in any way that they can. But that would require maturity and it’s easier to whinge than to do something constructive. What a shame that our political system is so adversarial!

Imagine if Malcolm Turnbull actually offered to help the Government. I think that we would be gobsmacked by his offer of bipartisanship. Of course, this won’t happen because the Opposition is there to oppose and by Jove it takes its mission seriously, even if the Government’s project is worthwhile.

I hoped that Turnbull would be different because he entered the arena as an outsider who liked to get things done. To have fallen so low from such an exalted position of possibilities has made him bitter and churlish and so he is no great threat to the incumbent. Since he’s no threat and he’s no help, then what is Turnbull achieving?

Buggered if I know, but this is politics and according to “Yes Minister” politics is all about supporting the status quo and avoiding “courageous deeds.” One must look as if one is doing something and that’s what counts and I would put interviews with politicians in that category as well.


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