1. Work for the the well-being of the country, not your party.
In Australia the two major parties have an adversarial approach - whatever the other party is doing is wrong, no matter what it is.
This is, quite frankly, rubbish.
There is no way that every decision of policy made by an opposing party can be wrong. It's just not statistically probable. They have to be able to get something right once in a while, even if it's totally by accident.
You want the respect of the people, prove that you care about doing the right thing. If that means acknowledging and supporting an idea proposed by a rival party - do it. Be the bigger person. Not just when it's popular, like coming out in a time of disaster to be seen to be saying the 'right' things, but even when the policy is unpopular.
Popular isn't the same as right. If it is the right thing for the future of the country and its people, and the major parties are in agreement even if it's unpopular with the public, then at least it shows you care about the future.
2. Think long-term, not short term.
You know what? I'm quite willing to undergo a certain amount of extra taxation and hardship to build a better world for the kids that will be born in a hundred years that I'll never see.
The major political parties have made it abundantly clear that they think short term. If it's not going to be a major problem within the next conceivable term, it can go on the back-burner.
Not. Good. Enough.
It's way harder, and more expensive to fix a problem after it has occurred, than to go to the extra effort now to prevent or minimise the damage. Think smoke alarms, insurance, seatbelts, brushing your teeth - you do these things, go to these extra efforts and expense in the hopes of heading off costly and/or potentially life threatening issues later.
I'm not just talking about global warming here, though that's an obvious one. Pollution, energy, fuel, education, environment, infrastructure, sustainability, population, science... You can't simply work on these things one by one when they become a popular concern, they need to be worked on together.
Yes it's hard, expensive work - if it were cheap and easy, we'd all be doing it already.
People don't like change, so it's up to you, in the genuine interests of our future, to do your best to point us in the right direction. You won't always get it right, but I'd rather you at least try to care about what country you're leaving for people a hundred years down the track.
3. All people matter, not just the ones who vote for or support you.
"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." Mahatma Ghandi said that, and a hell of a lot of people greater and more important than you will ever be, have both preceded and echoed that statement in various ways down through the ages.
Big companies are not the weakest members of our society by a long chalk.
Neither are the rich.
Up until May 1967, the native people of this country weren't even classed as people, they fell under the Flora and Fauna act. Most people look back on that with disgust. The future will look back on how we are currently treating minorities and the needy in our society the same way.
Yes, some people will try to abuse the system. Checks and balances must be in place to minimise this, but not at the expense of helping those people who genuinely need it. Better to give five bludgers who don't need it some extra cash, than to leave one person struggling who really needs the help.
Some people cannot be helped, for various reasons, but many can. No-one grows up saying, "when I grow up I want to have a breakdown or mental illness and end up living on the street."
People don't choose to live on the street, scrounging for food and shelter.
People don't choose to live in a situation where they live week to week, picking which bills they are going to pay, and which they will default on.
People don't choose to get on a boat, knowing they and their loved ones may die or be killed or assaulted on the trip, because life is good back where they came from.
People don't choose choose their sexuality, or who they fall in love with.
People don't choose to be born into a minority group.
People don't choose to get old and frail.
People don't choose to end up with debilitating diseases.
People don't choose to have learning difficulties.
People don't choose many of the things that happen to them through their lives, but you, who lives a comparatively privileged life, gets to choose how much help we give them.
4. Your job is to do the best for us all, whether we like it or not.
This combines all of the above, but needs stating. A good doctor doesn't tell a sick patient what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. They tell them what needs to be done to maintain or improve their health. Even if it's not a happy or popular choice.
That's your job, and the country is your patient.
Never, ever forget - we pay you to do that job.
That means you do the damned research, you listen to the experts and scientists, you work at problem solving and find ways to make the stuff that needs doing happen, you learn to admit when you're wrong and change your damned opinion appropriately, and you support the party that you genuinely believe is right, whether or not you like them or they like you.
You're not there to snark and snipe at each other like children. You aren't there to feather your own nest, or the nests of your friends, and you're sure as hell not there to be our friends, but our conscious when we need it, and the guides for our future.
And you fail at that task time and again with your petty, vote-buying, popularist, greedy, you-scratch-my-back-I'll-scratch-yours, insular, out-of-touch attitudes.
You want to know why we hold most of you in such contempt? It's because you do nothing to earn our respect with your behaviour.
It's not easy being in charge, but no one forced you to take the job. You want that pension, well you can bloody well earn it!
There's a lot of other stuff I could add to this list, like stop selling our infrastructure, or fund loads more public transport, or encourage decentralisation to reduce the impact of the cities, but you know what, make a decent effort on the four areas above, and I'm sure the rest will sort itself out.
I wrote this last night before the results of the Melbourne election were known.