Democracy defined on Wikipedia:
A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives
A state governed under a system of democracy.
Control of an organization or group by the majority of its members.
It is not a crime for a politician to change their mind, in fact, in an every-changing world it would be odd not to at times. New facts come to light, the political landscape shifts, events outside of your control change the trajectory of the future. A strong and flexible mind is a wonderful thing. However, when you are an elected member of a democratic system your ‘mind’ is not completely your own. What I mean here is that your public mind, what you stand for what got you elected is something bigger than you, that is your mandate.
an official order or commission to do something.
the authority to carry out a policy, regarded as given by the electorate to a party or candidate that wins an election.
If, as a politician you want to change your mandate you should be able to put aside your own ego and follow due process in order to avoid undermining the democratic system and losing political capital.
Well that’s the theory anyway.
It does seem to have become the norm to expect politicians to say anything to get the job then do anything to keep (or progress) their power. Not all politicians do this of course, one doesn’t stop becoming a free-willed (to whatever extent that exists), morally grounded individual just because they got elected but some do behave in a way that leaves you questioning their motives and when they do certain sections of the media seem to love it, possibly even encourage it.
This race to the bottom has, in my opinion made it so easy for people like Trump to get in while saying things that are, at times outrageous, by contradicting himself and even telling it how it clearly isn’t – bare-faced lying. We have a situation where the boy cried wolf so many times that some are now outraged when these political types actually do what they said they would do! Seriously, on the Trump issue, in his defence, he is at least getting on with the stuff he promised and didn’t contradict which I reluctantly applaud him for while at the same time cringing at what this says about us as a society. And no, I wouldn’t have voted for Hillary and neither do I fawn over Obama but that’s not a discussion for today and this isn’t a discussion about Trump.
I attended the Blue Mountains council meeting last night where councillors were asked to publicly state their support for the councils position (opposition) on the proposed Badgerys Creek Airport. Two didn’t vote in support of maintaining the councils opposition and that’s fine – council is exactly the place for good, robust debate and discussion to take place and there is no crime in holding a counter view. However, this whole situation came about because of an article published in the Daily Telegraph on 21st December. Here it is if you are interested.
I can only speculate at why the two councillors involved opted for this course of action (running straight to the media on 21st December rather than respecting the official channels) and that won’t be helpful as speculation is not fact. I was disappointed see the way these councillors turned on their mandate and their fellow councillors and did this. While disappointed I wasn’t entirely surprised, I kind of sort of felt this brewing for a month or two now but am not really in a position to do much more than write on here which is fine. My disappointment stemmed from the depth of the bile and posturing displayed in how this played out both in the newspaper and on the radio. I am not ashamed to say that I expected more from these two people.
So some background/ context.
Both of these Councillors are on the public record as having voted for the councils current position with regards to Badgerys Creek on previous occasions and are also on record as opposing the Airport when questioned before the election (which was only a short time ago). One of the councillors had been present and voted for the spending that has been questioned and has been on council long enough to be aware of its financial position. In a time when many councils have faced mergers after failing the Liberal State Governments Fit for Future audit the Blue Mountains got through – a fact that wasn’t mentioned in the click-bait headline.
The bottom line here for me is that two councillors are playing games with our democratic process, disregarding their mandate and dragging the councils name into disrepute.
And that’s not all.
Not only did one of those two councillors see fit to take their gripes to the media (he’s not the first, I lived in the UK long enough to see this all the time but like we always say to the kids – two wrongs don’t make a right), that same councillor also felt entitled enough to spend the whole 1 1/2 hours of the meeting time when this was being discussed on his Facebook messenger to two colleagues in the audience who just happened to be standing next to me. I won’t out them on here but I just hope they understand what they are contributing to and I really do hope that one day they care (again I’m talking about the democratic process and not specifically the airport)). Further, there were even giggles at one point when one audience member (another) suggested that the behaviour of these two councillors was ‘just politics’ insinuating that we should somehow just accept that as par for the course. Well I’m not prepared to do that.
So lying and wasting everyone’s time and bringing a council whose mayor got re-elected with a dramatically increased majority vote into disrepute is funny?
That saying one thing before the election then doing another when elected and without first taking your changed mandate to the people is just what politicians do?
There was nothing funny about last night.
And there is nothing funny about the trajectory the world is on.
If people keep behaving like this Badgerys Creek airport will be the least of our troubles.
Politicians do have a right to change their minds but that right comes with responsibilities and in this case it is to respect the democratic process.
So can we all do that please?