Imagine if we take money out of politics

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Imagine if we take money out of politics

Frank Formby writes about his plan to give power back to the people.


Illustration by Andy Carter

Imagine you have a co-worker who spends 99 per cent of their time at work telling everyone how good they are. In the other 1 per cent of the time their work is not very good. When they make mistakes, they say that it isn’t their fault. They use the company credit card to pay for an expensive lifestyle and give company contracts to their friends and supporters. A co-worker like this won’t last long. But we continue to elect politicians like this.

Why? It’s partly because of the branding of political parties. In Australia, for example, some voters may be interested in what they can get for thremselves but many are looking for stability and good leaders and they associate that with the old political parties. But it’s clear that stability and good leaders more and more difficult to find, even in multiparty, quite mature democracies.

One way to help our politics is to take the money out of our political systems. The first step is to reduce the salary of MPs to the national average. This would stop politics being a career with lots of money and change the role of MPs to service to the people. This plan would need strict rules to make sure politicians couldn’t make money in other ways from their influence.

As usual, critics will say, ‘If you pay very little money, you will get bad people.’ But the plan might encourage younger people to go into politics. They would find the salary good and bring enthusiasm and positive ideas.

Another group that might choose politics are those with enough money after working in successful jobs. They would bring experience and wisdom. People still building their careers could go into politics with their jobs still open to recognise their public service.

The next step would be to take money away from political parties. They would become volunteer organisations with no pay. This would reduce the power of businesses as we stop political donations to political parties – but party members could still give small donations for expenses.

We could stop or reduce political advertising. All the policies of candidates or parties would be on a website for free, with all the candidates’ voting records. We would need to make it difficult for rich people, businesses, and media organisations to broadcast political propaganda.

None of this would stop political parties from being places for debate and discussion outside of parliament. But parties may become unnecessary and disappear, as they have in Guernsey, in the Channel Islands. All MPs there are independents. There are good examples in Chile. There the people elected many good independents. Another good example is Australia’s new Local Party.

We would need to limit the number of times politicians could stand for election and be elected. It would stop businesses lobbying with the changing number of MPs. Also, we would stop big businesses or the rich from communicating privately with politicians.

Without business influence we could expect good policies and legislation with a clear idea of the people who benefit or are harmed, and a plan to reduce negative effects.

If it goes well, it will give us the stability and leaders we want so much. For example, in Australia, politicians might find they could make laws most of the population want for immediate action against climate change. It is the least that we citizens deserve.


(This article is in easier English so it is possible that we changed the words, the text structure, and the quotes.)