Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Australian Politics End of Days

Speaking at the Australia 360 Conference at the Australian National University in Canberra today, Laura Tingle, Political Editor, Australian Financial Review has suggested that Australian politics is at a Doctor Who "End of Days" point. She suggests that the parliament has been degraded, the public service sidelined and the media in a terminator technological revolution.

Tingle argues that the current Australian government has struggled because it could not simply apply (as it had assumed) the style of the previous Howard Government. Similarly she argues that the ALP opposition does not understand why the previous assumptions of left and right politics no longer apply.

I suggest that Tingle's confusion over media changes have the same source as political party's confusion. For someone outside the media and politics, what is happening looks very simple: for the last two decades media delivery is converging on the Internet, it is now converging on the wireless Internet delivered to mobile devices.

To the current generation of consumers, the idea that you would have to collect text based news from a booth on a street corner, printed on paper, once a day is weird. Similarly, the idea that you would wait until 6 or 7pm for video news, once a day is inconceivable. You get text, audio and video news and entertainment, wherever and whenever you want it on our mobile device.

Perhaps it is this technological reality which is also causing politicians so much difficulty. The idea that a citizen would have to wait several years to express their views on how the country should be run is very "last century". I monitor what my elected representatives say via If I want to express my view I can do that with a few button clicks. Smart politicians understand this (including one or two in Cabinet).

Ironically, the Australian Public Service is adapting better to the new on-line world than are their political masters. The Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is reshaping how services are delivered by government. Perhaps the Parliament needs to do something similar on how we are governed.

During the time I was a public servant the public reflection of what happened in government was the TV comedy "Yes Minister". In the new age it is ABC TV's Utopia, which is worryingly accurate.

ps: Strictly speaking, there has been no "End Days" episode of Doctor Who. This was a episode of the "Torchwood" spin-off.

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