Flat White

Politicians, advice – and advisors

2 March 2021

4:04 PM

2 March 2021

4:04 PM

Given the content of this and prior pieces, it is fair to assume that I am a largish consumer of Australian political news. Is it just me or has there been an exponential increase in the use of the word “advice” and the role “advisor”?

Just for hygiene purposes, according to the Google dictionary, advice is:

Guidance or recommendations offered with regard to prudent future action.

At the same time, an advisor is:

A person who gives advice in a particular field.

It strikes that our political overlords are surrounded by advisors who give them advice. And not just advisors but bureaucrats who also provide advice.

But this seems the problem for me.

We elect politicians to exercise judgement and not to take advice. If the sole purpose of political leaders is to “take advice” then what the hell are they there for and paid for. We could just dispense with these pretentious peacocks and just have — unelected — technocratic government; the dream of the bureaucrat and the expert class.

It is fine to take “expert” advice but that advice needs to be considered and traded off against other factors such as community standards, expectations and cultural norms. Just because a politician receives advice does not mean they need to take that advice.

This seems to reflect a deeper political problem in that our parliaments are populated by fowls and fools who are incapable of making decisions and trade-offs. This is why, when difficult issues arise, they just defer to the advisor class.

This demonstrates an abject lack of courage, capability and comprehension from our political leaders. Re-election is prioritised above community outcomes because advisors exist to provide a firewall. When bad advice is taken, it is never the fault of the person taking the advice but rather the person giving the advice.

There is much currently being spoken and written about the “culture” in Canberra. May I suggest that what is being spoken and written about is more a symptom of the deeper disease of our political class? That is, in too many cases, our political class are shallow and superficial chameleons more interested in personal returns than national interest.

Some call this pragmatism. I call it intellectual and philosophical vacuity.

Stephen Spartacus blogs at Sparty’s Cast, where a version of this piece also appears.

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