Idea: policies, not parties

Hehe… I shouldn’t tease, after putting up that last post about sharing my ideas and increasing my post count, then letting things go back to normal. Here’s the first idea [insert disclaimers defending against disappointment due to heightened expectations].


As I progress through life, I’m taking an increasingly large interest in politics. Maybe as I find myself more and more deeply entrenched in middle class, tax-paying serfdom, it’s become important to have a government that is working in my best interests.

What bothers me, and the pain point from which this idea is derived, is that politics is predominantly organised into the major parties: the ALP (Labor), the Liberal/National coalition, The Greens, The Democrats, etc. I recognise the efficiencies to be gained by having these parties, and hence the economic benefits, however it sits uneasily with me that in order to get what I want, I have to vote for a party that may also have policies I disagree with.

Let’s be clear: I’m not advocating doing away with parties. That’s too idealistic even for me, so the idea is this: create a resource (most likely a Web site) around a core topics in the public interest, onto which you attach the policies proposed by each political party. They can be both broad and detailed, ideally organised into some kind of taxonomy, e.g.:

  • Climate change
    – Carbon tax 
  • National infrastructure
    – Transport
    – Communications
    – Health
    – Education 
  • Human rights
    – Assisted suicide
    – Gay marriage 

People could then “vote” on individual policies instead of a raft of often incompatible policies. The benefit of doing this is that we would get a better gauge of public opinion on an issue (particularly controversial ones like gay marriage) divorced from political passions and persuasions. It might even be useful to have the policies “blinded” so that it is not revealed which policy belongs to which party. You could separate views by region (city vs. country, state/electorate/town/etc.)

Opportunities also exist, come election time, for this information to be used to compile a “20 questions” survey that then spits out a “how to vote” card you can print out and take with you to the poll booths, like the media sites tend to do around every election (e.g. Vote-a-Matic by SMH and its Fairfax brethren), but with more objectivity given how the various media organisations don’t even bother to hide their political biases any more (I’m looking at you, The Australian).

It’s not that such a thing doesn’t already exist – a very close match can be found at AustralianPolicyOnline published by Swinburn University of Technology, but as best as I can tell it simply aggregates policy-related news; I couldn’t find links to the policies for the listed headings.

Do you think this would this be a useful public tool slash instrument for political analysis?


This post is part of the series Ideas.