Election campaigns for the last decade have become a competition to say that one old party will not do what the other is doing. At no point has either stepped forward with a plan that works for the benefit of all Australians and explained it in enough detail for it to be understood. This lack of focus on policy and increased focus on expensive media campaigns that promote slogans has worked to undermine the democratic process more fundamentally than Murdoch’s media stranglehold. We do not need to slip to the profoundly corrupt levels in the USA today where the candidate that raised the most money as a 94% chance of winning the seat in congress. The fact that billionaire Clive Palmer can form a party and win seats in a federal election while barely mentioning what he would do differently to other parties is testament to the power that campaign funding has on the results.
Negative campaigns focusing on how bad the other group is, without actually stating a policy, are undermining the electoral process disastrously. This trend must be reversed.
The combination of Labor adopting an approach of actively concealing policy and intentions, engaging in negative campaigns and adopting neoliberal principles have made it increasingly hard to distinguish between the two old parties. This is a fundamental driver to the current situation where people are voting more and more diversely, looking for a candidate who actually represents their interests. The growth in the 90s of the Democrat party, and then the Greens following the demise of the former has made real the division between the left and right wing of the Labor party of the 80s. The increasing tendency of the party to act along very similar paths to the Liberals has established that the right wing control has undermined the integrity of the party. The recent changes to the way Labor votes for its leader, to include a popular vote amongst members illustrated to point even more clearly. The members wanted a left wing Labor candidate, the right wing caucus instead placed their own representative in the leadership role.
The reason the two parties are seen to be almost the same is that neither actually stands consistently on policy promises to the electorate; largely because the electorate is not active or engaged enough to demand this change.