I can still remember the first time I saw a politician. They bored me. So I changed the channel, and waited for what I now know as Question Time to end and for the ABC to return to the pre-schooler’s paradise I knew and loved. ‘Who are these silly men?’ I wondered, and ‘where is Elmo?’
As I grew older and was dragged along to school, my annoying confrontations with ‘that government show’ were confined to sick days. It wasn’t until secondary school that I ever gave the pollies a real chance.
On one of my less frequent voyages to the ABC (by this time the allure of commercial teen telly usually won me over) I was confronted once again by a room full of angry, shouting men, and a couple of very angry women. By this stage I knew the ape-like creatures I was viewing were colloquially referred to as politicians, although for the life of me I couldn’t figure out why anyone would bother filming them.
‘This is the crappest show on TV,’ I would declare incredulously to my mother.
My viewing lasted five minutes but my innocently astute conclusion about the state of the Australian political system has lasted a lot longer. It came down to this: how could those disrespectful, irrational, rude and insolent people I was watching, possibly run a country when they run their classroom like a Heidelberg West footy function?
If I interrupted or mocked someone like that at school I’d get detention; probably an after-school! If I had a job I’d get fired for sure. If I was at home, well, God forbid I acted like that at home. Dad would kill me.
Ten years later, I sit on my couch as a socially engaged media student. These days I actually choose to watch boring government shows and my visits to the ABC have returned to their early ‘90’s peak. Although I now prefer a slightly different time slot to the one frequented by Elmo and co., the ABC still provides me with an abundance of, often political, entertainment.
But watching Tony Jones and his weekly gathering of political riff-raff on Q&A, I am constantly reminded of laying on the couch as a 12 year-old, with a glass of flat lemonade, an empty ice-cream container and shaking my head at the childish behaviour of our country’s leaders.
Politics no longer bores me; in fact I plan to make a career in journalism from it. But my disdain for the system which only seems to encourage petulance and name-calling is at an all time high. On this issue, it seems my view of politics hasn’t changed since I was five.
When will politicians realise that one honest, mature answer is worth one thousand snide remarks? If only Australian voters could hand out after-session detentions where politicians were forced to write I will not engage in personal attacks or unfounded criticism of my opponents in order to gain the upper hand in the next election.
I will not engage in personal attacks or unfounded criticism of my opponents in order to gain the upper hand in the next election.
I will not engage in personal attacks or unfounded criticism of my opponents in order to gain the upper hand in the next election…
Perhaps when I have children, their first encounter with ‘that government show’ will see those in Canberra acting less like naughty children and begin focusing on more adult issues; like politics.
Nicole Mills is a Bachelor of Media Studies/Bachelor of Asian Studies student at La Trobe University. This is her first piece for upstart.