Small things make a difference. My mate and former defence minister Chris Pyne told me that once, when his daughter was in hospital, he went to the parents' waiting lounge. As he walked in, in a suit, a bloke sitting in the lounge said "Hey doc, the TV doesn't work". Surprised at the assumption he was a doctor because he was wearing a suit he nonetheless went to inspect. Bingo, if you turn it on at the switch it helps! Two simple boring things: One: the assumption that I can't fix this but a guy in a suit could. Two: the solution was boring and simple. So it may be with politics. More of us need to think of it not as a team sport but as the serious business of deciding how we collectively spend our money and set our agenda. Politics as policies rather than people. If we can think of politics less as a team sport and more about policies we will all be better off. The government of the day is our government. We collectively elected them. I didn't vote for the current federal government but I regard them as our government first, and second as a government made up by the Labor Party. Government is a team effort, there's no doubt about that. And Australia has two major political teams who compete to win our trust and thereby form a government. As if to simply complicate the system, some of us elect independents, effectively throwing what you might call rogue players onto the field. Of course, during the term of a government, we all form opinions about the competence of various ministers and the prime minister. We can't help but be affected by our own political biases. There's a certain schadenfreude when someone not of our political persuasion messes up. There is some regret attached to that schadenfreude if the person concerned is a politician from the other team you happen to like. When someone from your own team messes up, it's not schadenfreude you feel but a deep gloomy regret. But who has messed up is not the issue. We focus too much on personalities and trivial mistakes rather than the substantive issues. Obviously, in the lead up to an election our political thoughts and political commentary is very team focused. Why wouldn't it be? We are a bit like the crowds at a football match. But during the term of a government we should shift our thoughts to the substantive issues affecting us. Policies rather than personalities are what can change lives for the better. We can't just sit around lamenting the poor state of affairs in politics if we don't ourselves take any interest on a day-to-day basis in policies. If we behave like the cheering and jeering crowd at the football how can we be surprised when our representatives respond accordingly. They will look for a cheer for themselves and a jeer for the other side. So we can play a role by behaving more like concerned citizens and less like a footy crowd. Of course, we don't have either the time or the inclination to get across a whole range of policy issues. If politicians used more plain English and stuck to the policy issue at hand rather than personalities we would all get a much better insight into the pros and cons of different policy issues. MORE AMANDA VANSTONE: Plain English not jargon or slogans. It's as simple as turning on a switch. People listen to plain English. All of a sudden through radio, watching the telly or on our newsfeed we would get sensible information about policy options. Journalists could help. Why, when they ask a question, do they allow the respondent to commence their answer by running the other side down? The answer runs along the lines of "Well the other side always do blah blah blah, but we of course will do blah blah". Who cares what this person thinks about what the other side would do? Inevitably their version of what the other team would do is edited in the darkest light. Politicians from both parties do this. A journalist would be justified in interrupting and pointing out that they had not asked for commentary on the other side and simply wanted a direct answer. Or let the politician babble on and comment on the answer referring to the fact that a good part of it wasn't really an answer, but just a quick belt to their opposition. It's dreamland I know, but if that happened every time a politician started an answer by bagging the other side rather than answering the question, politicians would reasonably quickly adjust their behaviour and go directly to the answer. If journalists really want to keep the public informed, they could probe for more substantive answers. A current example is in relation to the Voice referendum. It is a well understood claim by the "yes" advocates that giving Indigenous Australians a Voice to Parliament (and elsewhere) will improve outcomes for Indigenous Australians. It's an obvious and accepted point that if one consults people to be affected by policies they will be more appropriate. But what I haven't seen is a decent probing of why a Voice will give better advice than is and has been given by many Indigenous bodies around Australia. Equally, I haven't seen anyone put on the spot as to why it is to be celebrated that the South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas has a legislated Voice but Dutton is to be condemned for wanting the same, rather than a constitutional model. So the boring, simple fix for politics is to first recognise you can be a part of it, and second dump the team scream, the slagging and the slogans, just turn the switch to plain English and talk about policies not politics.