Even though it was once said ironically, it has always seemed to me that Australia really is the lucky country. Our national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, sums it up:
We’ve golden soil and wealth for toil…
Our land abounds in nature’s gifts…
We’ve boundless plains to share…
In recent times the troubles of far off places like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and others have made me think about Australia.
We have been very lucky. Australia has a good economy, stable government, social cohesion, rule of law and a very congenial way of life. We have adjusted to the rigours of our climate, which has been so well described by Dorothea Mackellar in her poem My Country.
Australia alternates between flood and fire in ways that would make most people blanch. But in between we enjoy weather, beaches, mountains and scenery that are breathtaking in their beauty. And our healthy economy means that we enjoy amenities that inhabitants of other countries might envy.
But given the challenges that we face as part of the world community – climate change, food security, refugees, religious and political extremism – Australians need to start thinking about how we can best meet these challenges.
It is somewhat disconcerting to realise, given the enormous challenges facing us, that neither of the major political parties in Australia has any proposal or policy to deal with them.
Instead the political parties are consumed with petty internal divisions and ignore those for whom they supposedly stand. Our political parties and the current crop of hacks certainly live up to the second part of Donald Horne’s saying:
“Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.”
When did the Liberal Party become the party of naysaying cold-hearted xenophobes? When did the Labor Party become a cold-hearted machine driven by internal polling and factions?
I think the past elders of each party would be horrified to see the nasty polemical poll driven machines that each has become.
How do they sleep at night when they fight against each other, not for principle nor for policy, but for petty gain that sets the needs of the nation and its people as naught?
We need leaders of of vision. We need leaders who can look twenty or more years into the future, then build and plan for it. We need the kind of vision that built us a nation. We need the kind of principles that gave us a fair and equitable system for determining the treatment of working people. We need an engaged citizen populace who are educated enough to participate in democracy as educated citizens.
Most of all we need leaders who do not fall back into polemical and party driven positions that do not reflect the many shades of grey in the real world. We need leaders with compassion for people and who are true to the spirit of a fair go for all in this nation.