This paper, by Dr Andrew Carr of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, looks at where this sense of bipartisanship came from, how it operates and assesses its impact. While seemingly an innocuous idea — that our two major parties should seek agreement or cooperate in a spirit of unity — the reality today is far more corrosive.
A default approach of bipartisanship restricts policy creativity and accountability, reduces public engagement with critical issues and saps national unity. This paper argues that given the growing instability of Australia’s strategic environment, it is urgent that our political class fulfil their responsibility to openly debate what principles this country stands for, how we will act and what costs we will pay to protect other states and ourselves. By rejecting the potential to even disagree about the right way forward in these uncertain times, the demand for bipartisanship leaves us all less secure.