Australia has enjoyed an unprecedented period of prosperity in recent decades, yet despite this there has been a widely reported loss of faith in politics and institutions. With the COVID-19 pandemic, Australia faces its most significant economic and social challenges in decades. How is politics placed to deal with these challenges and what is the capacity of our key institutions to do so? What are the lessons and warnings from history?
In Challenging Politics, long-time politician Scott Ryan argues that the way we determine issues, the way we practice politics, and what we expect from politicians and government, is in flux. To some, the virtue of compromise has become the sin of sell-out. The louder voices of fringe and single-issue movements attract attention, money and commitment, and apply litmus tests to those who seek to govern. This makes it more difficult for our institutions, and therefore our politics, to function effectively. The long-talked-about collapse of the centre isn’t solely about extreme ideas. It is also about how our expectations of politics and our institutions have changed.