Australia used to follow the lead of our enlightened neighbour, New Zealand - women's suffrage and GST, to name but two examples.
New Zealand allowed same-sex marriage two years ago, but for some reason it is Ireland’s recent referendum which has caught the popular imagination.
Apart from the need to mend bridges after Mr Abbott’s last St Patrick’s Day message which so offended his Irish counterpart, Mr Kenny, there are a lot of other things we could learn from Ireland, so I’d like to suggest that the Prime Minister urgently undertake a fact-finding mission. As background Irish history reading on the plane, Mr Abbott could study the Congested Districts Board, set up in 1879 “for the improvement of those areas where the resources available were not sufficient to support the population” (Sydney, anybody?). Once in Ireland, he should not only find out all about the marriage debate, but also investigate:
why the number of Irish wanting to come to Australia has dropped significantly since he became Prime Minister;
the pros and cons of being a republic vis-à-vis a British colony, and how to transition from the latter to the former (the 1916 Easter Rising centenary is coming up);
the haunting, majestic beauty of wind farms;
why an Australian bank, Macquarie, is funding Ireland’s first solar energy farm;
whether it is worth having a national airline;
the potential for surplus Irish housing (post the demise of the Celtic Tiger) to accommodate our unwanted asylum seekers;
how to manage sovereign bankruptcy;
cronyism in high places;
ways of transferring public assets to the private sector at below market value;
why ‘affordable housing’ is so ugly;
the importance of preserving cultural heritage.
Does any of that sound familiar, and relevant to Australia? Well worth a visit, I’d say. And perhaps Mr Abbott should pop in to the Vatican en route for a chat with his spiritual leader about renewable energy.
[While Mr Abbott is overseas, Peter Dutton should revoke his Australian citizenship, as being a serious threat to the future well-being of Australia, and prevent his re-entry.]
There aren't too many ways available for venting one's anger or frustration at some of the things happening in the world around us. One such escape valve is the good old Letter to the Editor, even if only a small proportion of them gets published. It is often well-nigh impossible to keep the discussion short enough for the newspapers. So rather that have them expire in some Editor's Trash bin, we'll preserve them for posterity here. Inevitably, though, some nuances will be lost for those unfamiliar with the background or the letter or article to which we are responding. But each is undoubtedly a miniature literary masterpiece, though you may find the themes become somewhat repetitive.