EMBATTLED: Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra in February.
EMBATTLED: Former Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce during Question Time in the House of Representatives at Parliament House in Canberra in February. MICK TSIKAS

Time to cut the Canberra circus act and do your jobs

OPINION:

IT'S near impossible to predict just when our Federal Government will resume its job of actually governing for the people.

As Barnaby Joyce's own episode of The Bold and the Beautiful (loose use of beautiful aside) enters week three, we have now got more revelations of plans for federal funding of mining projects, while the Opposition Leader backflips on his mining stance, in a cynical bid to win the Batman by-election.

Meanwhile, it looks like some shuffling of deckchairs will be undertaken when it comes to the Government's plans to outlaw journalists doing the work they are meant to do.

That is, holding our elected representatives to account.

It's an alarming attack on democracy and a serious attempt to erode the power of journalism, which in this country already doesn't enjoy the same freedoms of others, to hear the Government trying to enable imprisonment of up to 20 years of people who have been deemed to mishandle government secrets.

If the leaks lead to a favourable story for the Government of the day you can rest assured no action will be taken.

But if a journalist doing their job was to publish information of great public interest, sourced from within the Government's own ranks, and even outside them, which is then deemed damaging to the national interest (aka embarrassing to the Government), they risk jail.

It's a very, very slippery slope when you start muzzling the press.

One of Hitler's tactics as he swept to power was to take control of the press, increase censorship and then of course pump out the propaganda we all learnt about.

Now I'm not about to suggest our government is anything like the Nazis, although the way our Manus Island situation remains festering, it's hard to argue human rights rank high on its priority list, but it's in nobody's best interests to have a media stifled by the government of the day.

It's dangerous.

And it goes against every positive step the digital advance has had for the public.

Access to information has never been easier, and the dissemination of information has also never been easier.

An informed public is vital to a healthy democracy.

I can understand why governments would be scared of the prospect of their electorates gaining access to a plethora of information they have no control over.

But the truth is it will only serve to hold our politicians to a higher level of performance if we become more and more engaged and educated.

Frustration levels are high around the country with this under-performing group of very well-paid pollies, who, despite the urgings of former Treasurer Joe Hockey to the rest of us great unwashed, seem unable to let go themselves of the age of entitlement.

It's time to end the smoke and mirrors sideshows and start tackling major policy reforms to better our lives, or step aside and let someone else do your jobs properly.



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