Hewson's View | June 16

One of the main reasons why voters are turning off the major political parties is that their actions in government fail to match their rhetoric – their actions fail to deliver on their promises.

So much so, in fact, voters no longer actually believe in most of what their political leaders say or promise, and certainly don’t trust them anymore to deliver.

Moreover, voters are now generally appalled by the games our politicians play, seemingly self-absorbed in scoring points on each other, rather than governing, solving problems, and dealing with issues that matter to them in their daily lives, and to their future.

So, voters feel isolated from, and disenfranchised by, the political process, many feeling that they have been left behind, when others seem to be doing so much better.

This situation is becoming worse in our system – one in three didn’t vote for a major party at the last Federal election, and despite the narrow victory of the Turnbull Government, they don’t seem to have learned from this near defeat.

The recent budget was mostly non-controversial, but it didn’t give the government the desired lift in the polls, mostly because it didn’t seem to address so many of the voters’ daily concerns, while not delivering either on the bigger issue of budget repair.

This is despite the fact that the treasurer claimed to ‘guarantee essential services that Australians rely on’, to have tackled the ‘cost of living pressures for Australians and their families’, and ‘to make the right choices for Australians who are working hard to secure better days ahead for themselves and their families’.

The budget certainly didn’t do very much at all about the ‘cost of living’. At the end of last week, the government received the Finkel Review on the national electricity market, a very important and objective document in relation to one of the more significant costs in the household budget, namely the rapidly increasing cost of power, that is not only impacting significantly on households, but is also now threatening the longer-term viability of many of our significant, power dependent industries, threatening even further job insecurity.

Well, here’s a chance for government to demonstrate that they really do care about the cost of living, as well as to deal with the globally significant challenge of climate change, an issue ducked by our political processes for the last couple of decades, as our political leaders have been more intent on scoring short-term political points on each other, rather than respond urgently and substantively.

SHORT CIRCUIT: Voters are on the verge of political burn out, and the Turnbull Government seems to have thrown away a chance to win them back over power costs.

SHORT CIRCUIT: Voters are on the verge of political burn out, and the Turnbull Government seems to have thrown away a chance to win them back over power costs.

The bottom line of all this politicking is that power consumers are left facing two risks; the risk of further acceleration in the cost of power, and the possibility of blackouts on the hottest days next summer.

Yet, what have we seen this week? Just more politics, both within the government – between those that support Finkel, and those claiming to represent the coal lobby – and from the opposition promising ‘bipartisanship’ and an end to ‘climate wars’, while actually wanting to ‘wedge’ the government over its internal division on the issue.

There has rarely been a better time, and a more significant issue, for the government to show leadership than on our national energy policy, an issue that really does matter to today’s households and businesses and, significantly, also to the future of their children and grandchildren.

 – John Hewson