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Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart. Not anymore. That trust has collapsed. Mark Latham joined the Labor Party in the late 1970s hoping to improve people's lives through parliamentary service. Twenty-five years later, the Opposition Leader ended up as disillusioned as th Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart. Not anymore. That trust has collapsed. Mark Latham joined the Labor Party in the late 1970s hoping to improve people's lives through parliamentary service. Twenty-five years later, the Opposition Leader ended up as disillusioned as the rest of us. The scorching honesty of The Latham Diaries ensured he'd burned his political bridges, but ostracism from the Canberra Club has its advantages. In The Political Bubble Mark Latham is free to explore how parliamentary democracy has lost touch with the people it's supposed to represent. As with most institutions at risk, politics has become more tribal, with left- and right-wing fanatics dominating formerly robust, mainstream parties. After the disappointment of the Rudd/Gillard years, Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in Australian politics but, as with most of his promises, it was dispensable. The Political Bubble looks at the new government's policies - how Abbott is adding to distrust, not solving the problem. What can be done about this democratic deficit? Can our parliamentary system realign itself with community expectations or has politics become one long race to the bottom?


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Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart. Not anymore. That trust has collapsed. Mark Latham joined the Labor Party in the late 1970s hoping to improve people's lives through parliamentary service. Twenty-five years later, the Opposition Leader ended up as disillusioned as th Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart. Not anymore. That trust has collapsed. Mark Latham joined the Labor Party in the late 1970s hoping to improve people's lives through parliamentary service. Twenty-five years later, the Opposition Leader ended up as disillusioned as the rest of us. The scorching honesty of The Latham Diaries ensured he'd burned his political bridges, but ostracism from the Canberra Club has its advantages. In The Political Bubble Mark Latham is free to explore how parliamentary democracy has lost touch with the people it's supposed to represent. As with most institutions at risk, politics has become more tribal, with left- and right-wing fanatics dominating formerly robust, mainstream parties. After the disappointment of the Rudd/Gillard years, Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in Australian politics but, as with most of his promises, it was dispensable. The Political Bubble looks at the new government's policies - how Abbott is adding to distrust, not solving the problem. What can be done about this democratic deficit? Can our parliamentary system realign itself with community expectations or has politics become one long race to the bottom?

45 review for The Political Bubble: Why Australians Don't Trust Pollitics

  1. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Carr

    tl;dr: Mark Latham declares politics too tribal and banal. And then spends several chapters proving by acting in that exactly fashion himself. This is an unfortunately lazy book from Latham. He begins well, and if you have 10 minutes to spare in a bookshop, there is value in to reading the opening chapter. Latham's picked up on some of the international debate about authority and influence - such as Moises Naim's excellent The End of Power - and engages with it. He even notes that he is uniquely tl;dr: Mark Latham declares politics too tribal and banal. And then spends several chapters proving by acting in that exactly fashion himself. This is an unfortunately lazy book from Latham. He begins well, and if you have 10 minutes to spare in a bookshop, there is value in to reading the opening chapter. Latham's picked up on some of the international debate about authority and influence - such as Moises Naim's excellent The End of Power - and engages with it. He even notes that he is uniquely placed to apply these to Australia, stating 'Ostracism has its advantages. It gives me a chance to play a different, more instructive role: writing objectively about the changing nature of power and public trust'. Only Latham never takes up that chance. Crash-tackling any serious notion of objectivity, Latham devotes four long chapters to attacking right wing figures like Abbott, Bolt, Rinehart, and his old favourite Henderson. Quite how these chapters are related to his larger theme of 'Why Australian's don't trust politics' other than in a simplistic 'Those bastards are lying' theme is never explained. If you followed these debates you don't need to read these chapters. If you didn't you wouldn't want to. Maybe these will appeal to those for whom political tribalism is their defining identity, but then I thought such people were Latham's target, not his target audience. Latham excuses his lack of writing on the Left and Labor by claiming he has already done so before, such as in his 2004 Diaries. Which is a shame, because the one chapter he writes on the left is halfway decent. Many on the left will hate it, and a lot of it is trite. But unlike the chapters on the right, Latham goes beyond citations of sin and begins to justify his claim about a disconnect between the public and left wing politics and links it to larger themes. It still feels like a few long op-ed's stuck together, but it makes sense in a way the earlier chapters on Climate Change or the supposed Gillard/AWU scandal don't. For those with a economic liberal bent, there's much to like in Latham's prescriptions, and I'm left wishing he would write a book solely on what the ALP's economic policy should be. (I know he wrote long treaties in the 1990s on global capitalism, but no one should have to suffer through those). Something serious and along the lines of how to recover the Keating compact of free markets, an emphasis on competition and a basic saftey net could have a real impact. Maybe next time. That said, the theme Latham occasionally highlights 'thanks to growth and deregulation people don't need politics as much as they used to' has been made elsewhere and better. I'd recommend the 'Declaration of Independents' by Reason Magazine's Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie for a much better effort. The disappointment of this book is that in arguing modern Australian politics is banal and tribal, Latham demonstrates his point by being banal and tribal. This is persuasive, but in a way that seems somewhat too literal and pedantic. In summary, the first chapter is worth reading, and future Latham books will be worth keeping an eye on, but you can probably leave this one off your shelves.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Loki

    It's not half bad - Latham may be a bit of a buffoon as a reporter, but he's always been a pretty good policy wonk and he has as keen a political mind as anyone in Canberra. (Keener, in some cases. Garrett, Pyne, see the headmaster after class.) But the book is didactic in the extreme, more partisan than Latham thinks it is (twice as many chapters are devoted to the faults of the LNP as those of the ALP), and suffers from a curious myopia: despite Latham's clear perception of a restless electora It's not half bad - Latham may be a bit of a buffoon as a reporter, but he's always been a pretty good policy wonk and he has as keen a political mind as anyone in Canberra. (Keener, in some cases. Garrett, Pyne, see the headmaster after class.) But the book is didactic in the extreme, more partisan than Latham thinks it is (twice as many chapters are devoted to the faults of the LNP as those of the ALP), and suffers from a curious myopia: despite Latham's clear perception of a restless electorate who are dissatisfied with both the major parties, he is unable to see the election of independents or members of any other party as anything more than a distraction. To Latham, the major parties are apparently as natural as night and day - the idea that the current political apathy in this country might be best cured by getting rid of them (as unlikely as it may be) is not even mentioned in the book, which instead lists a few minor palliative reforms (that will no doubt be decried by ALP and LNP alike as 'dangerously radical'). That said, his perception of the changing role of government is spot on, and his diagnosis of what's happening in the electorate likewise. It's simply that despite his efforts to think outside the envelope, Latham cannot envisage a world without the current major parties, and cannot devise any fixes for the problem that are likely to do more than scratch the surface of it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Gabrielle Trenbath

    You mention Mark Latham to rusted on Labor supporters and they will dismiss him as a once crazy leader who crashed and burned. But after reading his latest book I have developed a new respect for Latham. But time out of politics has meant that he has mellowed and given him a sense of perspective. I just think he gets it and maybe why ALP people hate him so much is because Latham writes some uncomfortable things about the political game that they play. Like when he argues ‘It operates as a tribal You mention Mark Latham to rusted on Labor supporters and they will dismiss him as a once crazy leader who crashed and burned. But after reading his latest book I have developed a new respect for Latham. But time out of politics has meant that he has mellowed and given him a sense of perspective. I just think he gets it and maybe why ALP people hate him so much is because Latham writes some uncomfortable things about the political game that they play. Like when he argues ‘It operates as a tribal situation, a closed club in which the comfort of its members is a bigger priority than the interest of outsiders’. I found the discussion around the government’s decreasing control over the economy interesting and how governments like to claim more control over the economy as well as the discussion around the electoral expectations. It is a good read, especially if you are into party politics, although your level of discomfort will be linked to your level cynicism.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Barclay White

    Gets off to a cracking start but then feels a bit unfocused and lazy. Latham is as enjoyable to read as ever, and his argument that politics is broken is sound, but this feels more like an extended opinion column or a Quarterly Essay than a book in itself. Latham is on fire tearing the political establishment and media apart, but when it comes to new ideas and a bit of depth this book just doesn't deliver. With a bit more work this could have been really good. Gets off to a cracking start but then feels a bit unfocused and lazy. Latham is as enjoyable to read as ever, and his argument that politics is broken is sound, but this feels more like an extended opinion column or a Quarterly Essay than a book in itself. Latham is on fire tearing the political establishment and media apart, but when it comes to new ideas and a bit of depth this book just doesn't deliver. With a bit more work this could have been really good.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lyn Ryan

    Mark Latham is sometimes insightful and sometimes blinded by his own ideology and party affiliations. But then, I guess we are... I was interested by some of his thoughts and disappointed by others.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Larissa

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    Marcus Priest

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    Hayden

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    Renai

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    Arthur Banos

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    Michael

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    Travis Lines

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    Ben Blain

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    Tracey

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    Hamish Danks Brown

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    Christian Daxbock

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    Ian Thompson

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    Alison Stewart

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    Jason Leonard

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    Mike Pollitt

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    Paul Faure

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    Sally Coggiola

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    kashiichan

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    Heidi Giermek

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    Steve Holland

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    Catherine Schulte

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    Ian Packer

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