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Crikey Says

Jun 10, 2014

Crikey says: Muir and Palmer put democracy to the test

Abbott’s new Coalition of the Unwilling. Fairfax hits back at News trashing. Lawyers at 20 paces in Vic Parliament stoush. NSW shooters bring out big guns. Van Badham looking for lefty love? Canada’s mining bragging rights. Why bike shares are tanking. And a DFAT dinner spat?

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To watch senator-elect Ricky Muir being interviewed by the Seven Network on Sunday night was to experience a rare moment of raw, unwatchable embarrassment as he struggled to answer even the simplest questions about the federal political arena he will enter in three weeks’ time.

Muir has no experience as a media performer, and no political background. He has entered the Senate by fluking his way in via a voting process that is best described as something between a lottery and a democratic rort. He is, moreover, in every way the antithesis of the polished, professional politicians we see every day, who speak constantly but rarely say anything of substance.

Muir, in contrast, had little to say but his performance spoke volumes — about his unpreparedness. This performance from a man who will shortly be one of the most important people in the country in terms of implementing the government’s legislative agenda was deeply concerning. Once in the Senate, the pressure on Muir will be far greater than that applied by a TV interviewer asking about common-or-garden political terminology.

There’s a segment of the electorate that traditionally likes anti-politicians, that prefers inarticulate authenticity over the bland on-message non-communication of professional politicians who have been working on their image since their time in student politics. We’re supposed to like the idea of ordinary people disrupting the ritualised and stultifying political games of Canberra. But with the responsibility of power comes an obligation to communicate how one intends to use it. And so far, it’s unclear what senator-elect Muir will do with his power other than implement the will of Clive Palmer.

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