This is my very first blog post about a subject – Australian politics – that has, in fact, been a keen interest of mine since the late 1960s, ie more than 40 years before I established this blog in 2014 (312 posts and counting).
My political leanings have always been to the left of centre. Indeed, my family on my late father’s side has had much to do with the Australian Labor Party (ALP or Labor) since the 1940s. His father and mother were both Labor members of the Tasmanian parliament and he campaigned actively for the ALP at numerous state and federal elections. I myself was a Labor candidate twice in the early 1980s and subsequently served as Chief of Staff for a Labor Premier.
Although my political position has remained more or less constant, I have not been as politically active over the last 30 years. My involvement has been limited to short letters and comments on media websites and busy, low-level input on Twitter.
My desire to write more earnestly in this ‘space’ has been prompted by two main circumstances. Firstly, after decades of being an optimist, by nature and conviction, I feel very troubled about the state of affairs in my country and worried about the future well-being of so many Australians.
We have slid from being a country which valued a high degree of social and economic equality to one where inequalities in relation to health, education, housing, food and other essential goods and the ability to partake of entertainment, recreation and travel have risen sharply in recent years.
Our national response to the threat of climate change has been pitiful, in terms of both reduction of emissions and responding to the impacts of a dramatic escalation in extreme weather events. We are also facing an energy crisis brought on by a parallel failure to plan for and invest in the inevitable transition away from fossil fuels.
And two generations of Australians – the young and the aged – are facing dire consequences. The quality and quantity of care and accommodation for older Australians is declining at an alarming rate, while an unprecedented proportion of younger Australians might never be able to afford to purchase a home or even find a suitable one for rent at an affordable rate.
There are many other situations and trends that concern me but I’ll get to those as and when they prompt me to address them in a specific post. Enough of the sad, bad news for now.
The second reason why I want to give voice to my political opinions is the May 2022 election of a Labor Government at a federal level after nine years of conservative rule.
Now, I have always believed that you can’t have too much good government. By ‘good’ I mean responding effectively and efficiently to identified needs for government activity. What I hadn’t considered was the possibility of an abundance of bad government, which is what we have had at a national level under three different conservative prime ministers since 2013. This culminated in a regime, led by Scott Morrison from 2018-2022, that strived not to govern in any meaningful way.
With the election of the Labor team under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, I do feel a smidgin of renewed optimism. However, they face so many challenges, not only with respect to implementation of their policies but also the work that has to be done to repair the institutions, staffing and processes of government.
The next few years could be, should be interesting, in a good way, and I’m keen to bear witness to what unfolds. So, I will follow this introductory post with regular posts about events or issues that particularly pique my interest in relation to the governing of Australia.
Cheers for now