When I say I do not trust politicians it is not my intent to insult or denigrate. Of course, there are politicians who I find appalling but equally I acknowledge those who have and do serve with distinction, sensitivity and intelligence. But in our democracy politics is centred on an adversarial framework and there are times when the good of the community is ''lost'' by those in power.
In recent times at both the federal and state level of governments we have witnessed a failure to deliver policy in the best interests of the community.
The failures do not belong to a minority or one side of politics - this is particularly troubling. At the federal level we have witnessed all parties unable to agree on a refugee policy that would save lives, with party interests being placed above community interests.
We have also witnessed the reluctance of the federal Labor government to implement the recommendations of the Gonski review, which calls for urgent action to lift funding for public education and increase the overall allocation of funds to the education portfolio. To preserve a tenuous federal budget surplus we witness statements of extraordinary obfuscation and generality from the minister, the prime minister and the executive. Equally, the opposition spokesmen fail to endorse the independent Gonski review recommendations for party political reasons. The priority for both is political power, not the best interests of the community.
In NSW the state government's promotion of the Local Schools, Local Decisions policy has included aggressive denigration of those who have serious reservations about the potential misuse or abuse of the funding arrangements that are yet to be explicitly presented to the community. It appears we are being asked to take the government and the education department on trust.
We are told the minister has promised that there is no intention to increase class sizes or to decrease future school budgets. Yet calls for legislated guarantees to safeguard class sizes and school budgets are refused. Indeed, the minister, Adrian Piccoli, may believe his statements to be truthful, but it is not the community's responsibility to trust the word of a politician and those who work for him or her.
It is the minister's responsibility to serve the community by providing clarity, transparency and certainty of changing policy directions and applications.
The reality is the current minister will eventually be replaced, for whatever reason, by another politician who may have a different interpretation of policy implementation and future direction.
This transition to a different leadership, even within the same government, let alone a newly elected government, is why there must be explicit and transparent policy and implementation. Today's 'truth' may have a very different interpretation by the next minister.
As a citizen I am not required or expected to trust politicians. In fact, it would be anti-social and reckless to do so.
Our democratic system is designed to ensure that the political power provided to individuals and political parties is closely monitored; we have a system of checks and balances to control the power of those who govern. Our democracy does not ask or require us to trust our political representatives; the opposite is the reality, it recognises that power can corrupt and that ''trust'' may not be in the best interests of the community.
We have been told by recent political leaders that there are such things as core and non-core promises and that only those promises given in writing count because verbal promises may change.
We are also advised that changing political circumstances may require a different direction from that promised during an election campaign. Some retired politicians even candidly admit that they did tell lies to their constituencies when in office.
No, I do not trust politicians. Not because I dislike them, but because they are operating in a complex adversarial political environment and because they exercise immense power that can either deliberately or incompetently result in the community interest being subservient to individual or party political interests.
Responsible citizens must be allowed to voice their questions and concerns about government policy without abusive responses from politicians and the bureaucracy intent on having their way.
Gary Joannides is the principal of John Edmondson High School.