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Intelligence Squared: Both Major Parties are Failing the Australian People

Listen to Intelligence Squared: Both Major Parties are Failing the Australian People

As the old truism would have it, ‘Whoever you vote for, the Government always gets in’. By the close of 2010, the Australian electorate’s sense of fatigue and disillusionment was palpable. Differences between Labor and Liberal felt incremental, and the big stories seemed to centre on alternatives, from the Greens to the Independents. Have the old forces in Australian politics lost their way?

Arguing in favour of the proposition are, in order of appearance, Carmen Lawrence, Greg Barns and John Hewson.

Lawrence posits that the major parties are being reconfigured into corporations, with power wrested from dwindling party memberships into a small handful of powerbrokers. The clout of vested interests and fear-mongering are criticised heavily by a passionate Barns, while former Liberal Party leader Hewson laments that the lack of “real policy debate” and long-term vision amidst a media that has ceased to be “investigative and supportive.”

Meanwhile, arguing against the proposition are Helen Kroger, Shaun Carney and Penny Wong.

Disagreeing strongly with first speaker Lawrence, Kroger suggests that the Liberal Party’s power remains at the grassroots of its membership, invoking Sir Robert Menzies' “The Forgotten People” speech. Carney questions whether “room for improvement” equals “failure”, quoting strong unemployment and inflation figures comparative to other developed nations. Finally, Wong asks whether criticism of the major parties is merely a great Australian tradition wherein minor parties benefit from being ‘unburdened with the responsibilities of governing’.

Have modern Labor and Liberal governments shown themselves able to “govern for all, but also to govern for the national interest”, as Wong believes they should?


Carmen Lawrence: 0m4s
Helen Kroger: 9m20s
Greg Barns: 18m20s
Shaun Carney: 27m01s
John Hewson: 36m44s
Penny Wong: 46m06s

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