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What do we (really) want?

What do we (really) want?
by John Pratt

Hi and congratulations to all at Webdiary on its tenth anniversary.

It looks like we are about to enter into an election which has the potential to shape Australia for many years to come. The two major political parties are determined to move further to the right, leaving those of us who would like to see positive action on issues such as reducing our GHG emissions, bringing our troops home from Afghanistan ,or would like to see a more human policy on asylum seekers with no choice other than to vote Green.

Many long term Webdiarists will remember I was a strong supporter of the Rudd government and predicted the swing to Labor in the Far North Queensland electorate of Leichhardt. I was pleased to see the last of John Howard. The Rudd government was a disappointment but the way he was overthrown was an insult to Australian democracy. Today’s politicians are driven by polls and the media, as was evident in the sudden overthrow of Kevin Rudd. As soon as his popularity in the polls fell, his party moved against him, even caucus members were surprised by the speed and authority of the party faction leaders.

So how do we bring about political change?

I have grappled with this question most of my life. I was a founding member of the Australian Democrats and loved the way that members of that party elected its candidates and voted on all policy. I have recently rejoined the Australian Democrats in a hope that something can be done to revive that party. I doubt if I will be able to vote for them as there will not be an Australian Democrat standing in Leichhardt. I will most likely vote Green knowing that my vote will eventually end up with Labor. I guess that others that would like to see more progressive political outcomes will do the same.

The issues that probably will not get much of a mention in a short election campaign are many.

The lack of morality when we in the affluent first world use modern weapons and technology to bomb and gun down people including children in third world countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan. These people, who are mainly uneducated and have no say in the politics of their countries, are of low or no threat to us.

The way economies of the first world depend on continuous growth, where already scarce resources are used to produce throw away toys for the affluent, while people in the third world are left to live on less than a dollar a day. No thought is given to restrict growth in the first world so that those in the third world can have space to grow and have some access to these scarce resources. With continuous growth we continue to pollute the land, sea and even the air we breathe. We are willing to put the future of coming generations at risk, as long as we can have a second or third car, two plasma televisions and the largest houses in the world.

When others flee from poverty or war and try to come to our land of plenty we see it as an invasion and a threat to our lifestyle. We encourage our politicians to take hard action even though we have signed a treaty to say we will provide a safe haven for asylum seekers.

We continue to export coal and other fossil fuels to the world knowing that in the long term their use will reduce the standard of living or even threaten the future of coming generations.

Our aged care facilities and mental health facilities continue to be under-funded, putting an unnecessary burden on our health system. We spend less on preventive care and as a result we have to continue increasing our health funding when our health problems become acute.

We live in a time that is crying out for real change and our democracy is giving us a choice of dumb and dumber. Frustration is building.

Gandhi used non-violent actions to bring freedom to India. Maybe if we want to fight for a future for our grandchildren or bring equity to the children unfortunate enough to have been born in the third world we too will have to resort to non-violent action. It seems that democracy is protecting the rich while the poor and unborn are disregarded.


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Well said, John

But is it the politicians or the people? Or is it that the people have given up in frustration?

Politics of hope

Jay, to become a leader of one of the major political parties you have to leave your convictions behind and become a puppet of the factions.

At a time when we desperately need leadership we get parties that are driven by polls. We get leaders driven by fear, that will never make unpopular decisions.

Climate change and the move to a sustainable economy are real tests for democracy. The average person is left impotent leading to frustration and eventually apathy.

While we may understand that we can not continually demand more that we must learn to share the planet's resources, who is going to take the first step?

To break the feeling of frustration and apathy, we need leaders who give us hope. We need to promise our children a future that is better than today. We need politicians with vision who can show us a way forward.

We can use alternative energies to power our planet, we can work towards the reduction of the human population, we can slow our growth so others can have the opportunity to grow.

We just need leaders to shout out hope and lead from the front!


Yes, it has been a frustrating three years. The vested interests have colluded to stifle any impulse toward genuine rather than neolib reform which is the antithesis of genuine reform.

The paralysis of analysis and failure of courage and resolve, typified by Anna Bligh, has Labor in danger nationally. Some promises you don't break, no matter how cynical the era, or how expedient the choice may seem at the time.

The repudiation of Bligh's promises by her concerning privatisation was the most fundamental of breaches of trust and good faith, particularly when reform was needed against neoliberalism after the GFM of 2007.

Following on the equally poor efforts of NSW, the QLD collapse has made it possible for a stunned electorate to face the proposition that they might be no worse off under Abbott, if a Labor leader's word can no longer mean anything in our society,  because that's all Labor had left, its principles, to offer the country.

Without these, it became as useless as its main foes.

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