a leadership crisis

I’m glad our current political leaders are not running businesses. The liquidators would be working overtime. Where is the context? Where is the strategy? Where is the mid to long term thinking? Where is the courage to forge public opinion rather than follow it?

In yesterday’s press (Aug 6), there were three items that were poignant.

Firstly, the leaders of the major infrastructure businesses in Australia put the population and immigration debate in context. We need more people in this country. We are not at risk of being resource constrained. The boat people issue is a media and political beat up that panders to prejudice. Both parties are guilty of taking the easier option of limiting migration, rather than facing the challenges of infrastructure development for a bigger and better Australia.

Secondly, a letter to the SMH from Wayne Duncombe (no on-line link) suggests that we are “in an era where a few outer suburban seats dominated by selfish, narrow-minded voters ….will determine who holds government”. I guess the rejoinder is that we get what we deserve, but those of us in non-marginal seats do have courses of action available (see later).

Thirdly, Ross Garnaut, in his Hamer Oration, criticised both major parties for lack of leadership in climate change. He said that it represents the “nadir of the early 21st Century political culture, in which short term politics and accession to sectional pressures has held sway over leadership and analysis of the national interest”. Leadership does seem to be an essential ingredient missing in public policy today.

It is surprising that since the elevation of a conservative over a moderate (or social progressive) in the Liberal Party, that vision on issues like climate change is lacking. Malcolm Turnbull and Joe Hockey showed great courage in their stance on the ETS. Sadly, we won’t progress on this issue under conservative control of the Coalition. Tony’s own definition of a conservative in his book Battlelines, is “someone who is focussed on precedent”.

I am more disappointed with the ALP, starting from the time that Kevin Rudd dropped the ball on climate change after Copenhagen. NZ saw fit to introduce and ETS and China will follow soon. The subsequent pandering to the polls and electorate on this and other issues by the incumbent PM is sad, and as it is transpiring, counter-productive to her re-election.

Australians are demanding vision, courage and leadership. In the unlikely event that the trend identified by Ross Garnaut is turned around, what can we do? Parliaments in a democracy can be a handbrake on progress, but a democracy does allow free expression of speech. As we have seen with organisations like Get Up, movements of like-minded individuals will increasingly be responsible for telling the story, creating awareness and shifting public opinion. The politicians will then have no choice but to legislate.

We are also likely to see a fresh force in politics that represents forward thinking, social progressiveness and authenticity in a global context. A fresh force that is not only sought by Gen Y voters, but also by some old baby boomers like me! Now that the ALP seems to have deserted this space, Bob Brown’s successor (hopefully someone in the Nick McKim mould), will have the opportunity to create a modified Greens Party with a broader social agenda – one that could transform the political landscape.


4 Comments


  1. I agree 100% – our current “leaders” sadly lack any business accumen whatsoever – Ken you have worked for the Feds and I have worked for the NSW Govenment, which is also lamentably lacking in common sense leave alone business skills.

    I am relatively apolitical, but Gillard is merely a puppet and a borign and lacklustre one at that, whose strings are being pulled by the frightening backroom Labour caucus.

    While Abboot is no dynamo, at least he has some credibilty and integrity, is definitely the lesser of two evils and some of the people behind him have some sense of commercial reality!

    With tourism being such a massive earner for Australia, impacting on everyone’s lives, I think we should start a tourism party for the next series of elections.

    We should keep the current parties and pollies out but bring in the fantastic commercial acumen of this great industry.

    The Tourism Party could easily hold the balance of power rather than the Greens – now woudln’t that have then government sitting up and taking tourism seriously!?!? J

    • John – there is no reason why a new third force – that may or may noit be given birth from the Greens, should not embrace the tourism agenda. Tourism is a relatively environmentally friendly industry with little pressure on land and water. Air miles are an issue but offsets can help. Ken

  2. KAB – another spot on post that perfectly captures the state of play in the lead up to this disheartening election. So much at stake, and so little real leadership! I disagree with your first para though, I think this is all business and strategy – but MEDIA strategy rather than any strategic vision. Both leaders have basically been briefed not to put a foot wrong and play it safe, resulting in no real leadership.

    You can hardly blame them though, in this instant media-driven time, where everyone can self-publish and no action goes uncaptured, even on a citizens phone. Would they be persecuted for cutting the puppet strings and boldly declaring their actual vision?

    Did you read Richard Glover’s similar thoughts last week?
    http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/politics/stuck-in-the-middle-with-you-the-julia-and-tony-show-20100730-10zl7.html

    You may also want to join my facebook group, “If Tony Abbott becomes PM I’m moving to a Greek Island”.

    They’re going cheap, only 2 million euros… !

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