Actually, we’re not over politics

Everyone is over politics. They’re enjoying the break

This may well be one of the most manipulative and selective comments on Australian politics I’ve heard in a long time. Yet it’s being repeated uncritically around the country, including by those who should know better. Voters’ supposed delight in the absence of politics has become the multi-purpose excuse for hiding any and all manner of political activities that might otherwise be troubling our pretty little heads.

The tactic has been deployed since the very beginning of the Abbott Government. As Laurie Oakes recounts in his book on the ‘rise’ of Tony Abbott, there was a lot going on behind the scenes during the 11 days between Abbott winning the election and being sworn in by the Governor General:

… But as far as the public and the media were concerned, it was 11 days of unaccustomed quiet after the Labor years of crisis, chaos and constant politicking. No-one complained. The nation was over politics and welcomed a respite.

Now it’s been 60 days since Abbott was elected and the extension of Operation Mushroom to the government’s day-to-day operations has been a resounding success. Tony Abbott’s promised ‘no surprises’ government has become one of ‘no information’. With a justification similar to “we’ll keep telling you nothing because you’re enjoying the break”, more and more information is being kept from public scrutiny. And many of us are nodding compliantly, seemingly accepting the explanation with little or no questioning.

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