My recipe for being a good member of parliament:
- Understand that your position is as a representative for the Australian People, with a focus on your local constituency.
- Leave your biases at the door; this includes personal feelings and religious leanings (or lack there of). Surround yourself with people who have differing opinions.
- With each Bill that comes across your desk ask: How will this make life better for the people of Australia? Seek out those who will be affected by the Bill and hear first-hand their opinions.
- No deals! Don’t do things you know are not good for the people because it might get you something else, even if that something else is better for the people. It’s your job to do the right thing by the people and to call out those who don’t want to do the same.
- Transparency is key. Open your diary, your expenses, your office. How often are we told by the government: “If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.” While it’s a BS line and the people have a right to privacy, you as a politician are a representative of the people and where your interactions as a politician are concerned you should feel they have an absolute right to know these things.
- Get amongst the people. You can’t be a very good representative from atop the ivory tower. Meet with your people often, listen to their opinions and grievances. You don’t have to have answers for them then and there, in fact I implore you to listen more than you talk. People want to be heard. As a representative of the Australian people you also need to get amongst all the people. Visit areas that have issues, see what you can do for them.
- Be honest in your interactions. Along the lines of Transparency. Don’t say one thing and do another. If you tell someone you’ll get back to them, get back to them. Own your mistakes.
- The future is your goal. Short term wins are not the focus. Too many MPs are there for their term and think only of the now. What will this get for me? Will this get me reelected? If there is a short term win that sacrifices a long-term plan, abandon the short term win for the long term goal.
- Understand your position ends when your time in parliament ends. There are no other employment positions where your benefits continue after you leave your place of employment. Work to end continuing entitlements that are beyond those other Australians receive for politicians after they leave office. Our former PMs have gone on to do million dollar speaking engagements, book deals, appointments to numerous boards; all while receiving a parliamentary pension and continuing entitlements for staff and travel. That’s all after a time of being some of the highest paid politicians in the world and receiving a bunch of entitlements while in office which likely saw them spending very little of the money they were receiving.
- Do no harm. It’s an all encompassing rule. A catch-all to round out our list. It’s not hard to be a good person. Be one.
It’s not a definitive list, it just came off the top of my head, I’m sure it can easily be improved, but I guess what I’m saying is it isn’t hard to not be an ass and I don’t know why our politicians seem to have a problem with it.