Correction

Crikey writes: Re. “Blow-by-blow: Sex Party v Christian Democrats“. Sanitarium is owned by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, not the Quakers as we originally published.

On lying politicians

Joe Boswell writes: Re. “Choosing who will lie to us the least” (Tuesday). John Richardson remarked on “… our readiness to accept that all our political leaders lie and deceive us all the time, and rather than consign them to the trash can we are simply content to anoint those who we think will lie to us the least.”

If so, it shows our understandable but corrosive cynicism is ultimately destructive to our own interest. When the public concludes that all politicians are crooks and liars it does not hurt at all those who are crooks and liars. They benefit because even blatant dishonesty is not seen as distinctive or aberrant. The damage is instead done to any politicians who are at all honest and honourable. They are tarred with the same brush, so they get no credit at all for their honesty and adherence to truth which at the same time makes it almost impossible for them to compete with the lies of their opponents. If they are lucky the public merely views them as crooks and liars who are less brazen, or possibly more sly. Worse than that is the fate of those few who are so squeaky clean that serious doubt of their basic dishonesty lingers. They are written off as holy fools, weird pitiable creatures not quite of this world who are entirely unfit for responsibility. Also, the powerful vested interests that depend on their ability to bend venal politicians to their will do not tolerate such dangerous elements. All this appears inevitable in representative democracy. If all our elected MPs were replaced with a group of citizens randomly selected by ballot every few years we might finally have a mostly honest Parliament that was genuinely representative of the nation and prepared to put the national interest first; we would also elect the head of the executive government, who would probably lie and deceive much as now but would then be properly separate from and held to account by the legislature.

Until then, our best hope is the handful of independent senators.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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