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BOOK REVIEW: 2028 by Ken Saunders

| 27 August 2018 | Reply

BOOK REVIEW: 2028 by Ken Saunders

Allen & Unwin
September 2018
Paperback, $29.99
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar

Political fiction / Satire
10/10

As another pathetic Australian government erodes the people’s rights and faith in the two party system whilst dissolving into yet another farcical leadership crisis, making a mockery of the entire democratic system, Ken Saunders’ superb and timely debut novel sits waiting its moment to hit bookshop shelves around the country.

If we didn’t know better, the political implosion of the past week could almost be seen as a publicity stunt for the novel, so fittingly does it tie into Saunders’ story.

The year is 2028. Liberal Prime Minister Fitzwilliams is ready to call an election, confident he will be voted in to serve his fourth and final term in the top spot.

But the wheels fall off his campaign before it even launches, with a new political party called The Luddites on the scene stealing his thunder and swaying voters across the country. The catch? The candidates are all named Ned Ludd, they exploit loopholes to demonstrate in the nude, have no recognised leader or headquarters, no advertising budgets, do not smear their opponents, each have their own policies, and actually seem interested in governing for the right reasons!

Understandably, both Liberal and Labour are on the ropes instantly, not knowing how to defend against a viable opposition using – detestably – honesty.

Saunders has concocted a brilliant story full of well-drawn, believably (if sometimes absurd) human characters.

It’s a world where “the not very good ideas around today have become ten years worse.” Australia Post are Big Brother, the senate is 95% dead wood, political policy is focus group-led – a focus group automated so as not to need actual people any more – and the Communist Party is now a profit-driven corporation.

It’s funny because Saunders makes it all seem so believable.

Many of us have despaired about the corruption, dishonesty and inherent unfairness of the two party system of politics for years now, and 2028 lays it all on the line: “…you put all your mental efforts into keeping the system functioning exactly as it was. It’s a system in disrepair, a system manifestly failing to come to grips with serious problems.” That’s the exact cycle we are stuck in for real – the politicians are too busy feeding at the trough of over-privilege and power and their own business interests to even consider changing the system for the better, yet the system is fundamentally broken and must change if our nation’s quality of life is to improve.

This reviewer has long said that if a politician wants my respect, they should try and debate issues for the good of their voters, their constituents – NOT for the good of their party or their wallet. Imagine how wonderful it would be if a political party came along and actually worked WITH politicians from other parties to do good for the country and its people. If they said – to quote Saunders’ book – “let’s make ourselves something better [than the Opposition]. Let’s be the official Improvers, the official Come-Up-with-a-Better-Idea brigade, the official Are-You-Sure-This-Is-a-Good-Thing-to-Do filter for the government. And if the new government listens and adopts one of those ideas, let’s not go frothing to the media calling it a backflip. Reconsidering something because a different point of view is more convincing is a sensible thing to do.”

In a perfect world Saunders’ satire would be possible, right now. A new political force could appear, one which was not self-serving, which considered the environment, equal rights for all, and the good of the people before they considered the treasury or their big business friends and political bankrollers. It’s the only way things might change.

Perhaps if this was mandatory reading, there’s a chance that we could see that change even in our lifetimes. I, for one, sincerely hope so.

Shane

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