In the hope that we’ll soon have a new Prime Minister, I’d like to get in early with a suggestion for her/him - please expunge the words “business” and “growth” from the political vocabulary.
We’ve had Tony Abbott’s notorious election-night “Australia is open for business”. NSW brands itself as “The new state of business”. All our politicians are obsessed with “economic growth”. Everything has to be measured in dollars.
Business exists to make profit for its shareholders. Rightly or wrongly, growth is seen as the primary criterion of success.
Surely government has a different rôle? Surely the focus of government should be on the quality of life of its citizens, where intangibles such as education, health and environment are at least as important as material wealth; where society takes care of those who can’t (not won’t) take care of themselves; where the arts, libraries, and free independent public broadcasting (Malcolm Turnbull, please note) are valued as essential components of a civilised nation; where the public service is respected and independent of political interference; where important social issues like climate change and gender equality are addressed constructively by all sides; and above all where more people and more building are seen not to be the panacea for all ills?
It’s a pretty sick society that can pay sportsmen millions of dollars a year yet do next to nothing about youth unemployment, urban congestion, or global warming, while at the same time making tertiary education less accessible, and replacing precious flora and fauna with concrete or coal mines. Our parliaments set an example of conflict and self-interest, not community. And so on ….
Of course we need good economic management, to provide satisfying employment and a revenue base to pay for government services, and to ensure we live within our means. But as a means to an end, not the holy grail itself.
Hopefully Penny Wong’s acceptance speech will reflect these ideals.
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.