South Australian elections are just around the corner, the 17th of March to be precise – St Patrick’s Day. What do Australian politics and Irish saints have in common? Not a lot, although seven of our Prime Ministers have Irish heritage and we may need a touch of the shamrock to get through it all with our minds intact and our future looking positive.
Anyone with a vested interest in the Australian democratic process (aka the voter), could be forgiven for their confusion as a result of the theatrics and hyperbole surrounding the lead-up to elections.
Understanding how our unique, complex and hybrid political system works is within reach in Australian Politics For Dummies by Nick Economou and Zareh Ghazarian. The book works on the premise that politics is something everyone is part of and concerns everything in society ‘from who gets to run the country… to how often you can water your garden’ (Introduction). The book is both accessible and comprehensive and is divided into five parts: Politics: You’re in it; The Australian System of Government; Party Time! (aka Party politics) ; Citizen Power! (that’s us); and The Part of Tens (or ten speeches worth listening to).
You can preview the book here: www.booktopia.com.au
In Democracy and Its Crisis, A. C. Grayling reviews the most pressing events of our times and how they challenge democratic functions. He talks about international unrest, misuse of Corporate power, Big Data and social media. Grayling surveys both past and present attempts to resolve what he calls the ‘dilemma of democracy’, which he describes as the tension between people’s right to self-determination and the need for a mechanism to ensure this right is protected and administered. While Grayling highlights many of the known issues with the Democratic process, he concludes that getting it right is still the best option for world governance. ‘With the advent of authoritarian leaders and the simultaneous rise of populism, representative democracy appears to be caught between a rock and a hard place, yet it is this space that it must occupy… if a civilized society, that looks after all its people, is to flourish’ (www.bookdepository.com).
Theory aside, it is clear that while politicians may promote the idea that the power of government lies within our vote, there is no doubt that there are big players in politics who arguably steer our election outcomes.
Game of Mates How Favours Bleed the Nation by Cameron K Murray tells us how corporate and political sectors (groups of ‘Mates’) have come to dominate Australian wealth and power to ‘rob… the Australian majority of over half [their] wealth’. The fourteen chapters include discussions on property development, transport, superannuation, mining and banking. The well documented case studies included in the book, show how selected members of the above industries siphon billions from the Australian economy to further their own interests, at the expense of the community. This is a searing and satirical account of the machinations that underpin the big decisions in this country. You can take a quick look here: www.booktopia.com.au
Too Right, Politically incorrect opinions too dangerous to be published except that they were by Peter Chudd & James Colley, is a satirical ‘state of the union delivered by the most marginalised voice in Australian media: an angry, white male’. Co-authored by Peter Chudd ( one of Australia’s most controversial far-right columnists) and James Colley, the book tackles all topics where political correctness are often called for, unashamedly criticising any moderate or left-wing view. A book that is not for those who offend easily, it challenges conventional views and potentially puts many off-side.
Putting opinion off-side seems a by-product of election fever, but if you wish to explore the political underpinnings of our local elections, a browse through the 320s is simultaneously informative, confronting, perplexing and entertaining… it can also be very distracting.