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As regards indicators of public disillusion with political leaders, it is suggested (with reference mainly but not solely to Queensland's situation) that:
the community is facing profound challenges, for which there are no obvious answers. For example, in Queensland the political system appeared entirely unable to address these challenges in the context of the 2001 election (eg see Queensland's Challenge). And in 2001 the electorate at both Federal and State levels appears to confront a choice between political leaders who have (essentially) nothing to offer, and 'populists' (ie those who propose 'trendy' sounding programs which have no serious prospect of working). Regarding the 'trendy' programs that have no prospects of working Queensland's lack of Serious Public Policy; highlights why Queensland's Smart State program (and thus similar federal plans such as Knowledge Nation and Backing Australia's Ability) are merely political pretences;
public disillusion with political leaders has been increasing for some time. The 'Queensland Effect' is a term which has been applied to a government's unexpected electoral loss as a result of a protest vote (based on the Goss Government's debacle in 1995). The origin of this phenomenon probably lies in the lack of practical realism and effectiveness of political claims about policy - due to the loss of capable professional support to the political system (see The Queensland Effect).
there are few (and in Queensland virtually no) serious independent institutions seeking solutions to the difficulties the community faces - noting the absence of independent public policy research and development functions (see Queensland's Weak Parliament) and the de-skilling effect of politicisation of public services (see various items in Towards a Professional Public Service for Queensland, as well as Towards Good Government in Queensland and The Case for a Professional Public Service),
severe political pathologies (eg fascism) can emerge if a community completely loses faith in its political representatives. It was precisely this loss of confidence in representative democracy in various countries in the 1930s that led to the rise of fascism and eventually to Winston's Churchill's famous remark about 'Democracy being the worst of all political systems - except for all of the alternatives'.
Australia's system of broadly-based representative democracy emerged initially in the UK in the 19th century as a means (together with industrial unions) for society to more equitably distribute the wealth generated by the use of capital in industrial society. Changes to the international organization of production (ie the shift of capital intensive mass production to NICs) have rendered such redistribution far more difficult - thus presenting a fundamental challenge to our system of democratic governance because of the lack of such wealth for it to re-distribute (see Attachment G to Towards Good Government in Queensland).
in Europe in the 1980s, the label 'euroscleriosis' was applied to a perceived political inability to solve public problems. Proposals to benefit one group were usually stymied by opposition from other groups who would lose (because the situation had become a zero-sum game). This political malaise was reduced when business and other community leaders developed a comprehensive renewal program, Europe 92 (a proposal for a stronger European Union), which re-created a positive-sum political game.
it should now be feasible to create a positive-sum game in Queensland / Australia - and so provide a framework within which political representatives are likely to regain community respect (see Direct Action to Make a Difference). However achieving this will require initiative and hard work.