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‘Day to Day Politics’ with John Lord

Thursday 26 November

1 I have reached the conclusion that we have a Government of talkers, not doers. One might easily call them wafflers. They must be setting an Australian record for papers, enquiries, reports, and meetings both domestically and internationally. However I don’t foresee much doing prior to the next election. Which of course will mean that the Coalition has wasted three years of government.

2 One of the best wafflers of course is Environment \minister Greg Hunt who at yesterday’s National Press Club gave himself a glowing report prior to the Paris talks.

He said we have already reached our 5% target reduction for 2020 levels. He is correct but we have only done so because of drought, the slowdown in the economy, the decline in manufacturing and to a small extent the impact of the renewable energy target and other climate policies such as the emissions reduction fund. And of course some very dodgy, smoke and mirrors accountancy measures. Fact is the 5% was always too low and we were given an 8% increase in emissions at the first Kyoto meeting.

3 I got into a discussion with a conservative friend who insisted that Julia Gillard told the biggest political lie ever. I countered with this and I thought my friend was going to have a stroke.

One of most important moments in the life of Menzies must have been when, on 28 April 1965, he lied to the Australian Parliament and people over an alleged call for assistance from the Saigon Regime of General Nguyễn Văn Thiệu as official head of state and Air Marshall Nguyễn Cao Kỳ as prime minister. The first battalion arrived in Vietnam the following month. After March 1966 National Servicemen were sent to Vietnam to fight in units of the Australian Regular Army. Some 19,000 conscripts were sent in the following four years. 521 lost their life. The number of Australian invalid and otherwise victims of the war is still uncertain.

The document carrying the alleged call was never found.

4 International tensions are very high with the shooting down of a Russian fighter. I know it’s difficult to overcome thousands of years of fighting based on nationalism but wouldn’t it be nice if the leaders of the world opened their minds to internationalism.

To quote a friend:

‘We have entered a very dangerous moment in human history.

These developments put us on the precipice of a conflagration that could have grave consequences for the world.

We must all hope that the fullest exercise of international diplomacy and a show of good faith is made before this worsens’ (Stuart J Whitman).

5 Did you know that 58,000 people die each day from hunger and preventable diseases?

6 The Australian, the official newsletter of the Liberal Party, reports that resentment among ousted conservatives and retribution against Abbott supporters is creating a dangerous political atmosphere.

7 So have the isms of left and right gone past their used by dates? What do you think? Do they suffer from the tiredness of longevity? Is there any possibility that a new politic could emerge from a society deeply entrenched in political negativity and malaise, yet still retain the essential ingredients of a vigorous democracy? One where a wide-ranging common good test would be applied to all policy.

Have left and right so fused into each other that they no longer form a demarcation of ideas? Could the ideologies of the two somehow come together to form this commongoodism? Who would decide the common good? How could one define it? Could capitalism embrace the common good or would it need further regulation? Could conservatism which empathises individual responsibility and opportunity embrace it? What would common good values be?

That’s all a bit like political scrambled eggs I know, but they are the sort of philosophical questions I ask myself on my daily walks. You see that although I still value my leftish views I do really believe that modern political thought and practice needs a makeover. And not just nationally but internationally. But particularly in Australia where politics no longer meets the needs or aspirations of the people and is held in such low esteem that politicians are barely relevant. I have long felt that the political establishment has taken ownership of a system that should serve the people but instead serves itself. It is self-indulgent, shows no respect for the people it serves and lacks transparency.


‘Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow. In fact it is incumbent on them’.



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  1. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Twenty years of disastrous federal, state and local government policies leave South Australia with a very uncertain future…..
    “Labor’s jobs bombshell: no improvement “best case scenario”” http://indaily.com.au/news/2015/11/25/labors-jobs-bombshell-no-improvement-best-case-scenario/
    If only people would have listened to me….ever….
    I think ‘Baby boomers’ should be renamed ‘the Looter Generation’ (for lots of reasons).

  2. Adrianne Haddow

    Brave words Chris, considering many who post on this site are of that generation.
    Remember that many of the social benefits that we enjoyed until the Liarbrils started trashing them, were a result of the baby bomber’s lobbying.
    It was subsequent generations who believed the smear campaign against the unions and were suspicious of collectivism who fell into the trap set by the Libs. i.e no significant voices opposing the capitalist dream of free markets and exploitation of workers.

  3. lawrencewinder

    Agree with comment about “Ozone-Hole” Hunt what a useless waffler he is…. blah. blah, blah…

  4. stephentardrew

    Great article John and yes it is time for a new style of doing politics in fact the term politics is losing all meaning under the assault of corporatism and unbridled self-interest left and right. So the old left right dichotomy is no longer valid so maybe a social justice imperative based upon the causal relationship between poverty and inequality can lead to a critique that is fact based and ethically sound. It is time to see it more as an engineering problem than a divisive debate between largely opinionated factions born of irrationality and ideological opinion.

    We need a non-violent revolution with a soundly reasoned architectural base for the expression of scientific facts and their application to a just and equitable society. If we only have limited choice, which science clearly demonstrates, then we need to make those choices count. If one starts from the premise that most people want satisfactory lives of security and productive leading to happiness and fulfillment then that should be the starting point for change.

    So much chatter about democracy while the political elites continually deconstruct democracy and replace it with oligopoly and unbridled capitalist corporatism. To begin with we must make a clear distinction between democracy, justice and equity and the self-centered compulsion to self-interest of capitalism. Calling a spade a spade is probably a good place to start.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    Could we be entering a period not time like no other in history. One none have their mind around yet.

    The world is rapidly becoming globalized in all areas human endeavor.

    Corporations and the economy has escaped national boundaries. The labour market is fast following suit. Same goes for education and research.

    The population travel the world at will for vacations.

    We have the greatest massive movement of people ever seen. Moving en-massed in millions.

    The national boundaries of any country means little.

    Different nationalities and cultures are merging.

    Personally, I don’t find this a bad thing, except it is happening too fast.

  6. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Adrianne Haddow – I’m pretty sure boomers, being the dominant demographic have provided the swing for most elections recently and the social benefits were as much lobbied for by the pre-boomer generation who experienced the ‘Great Depression’ and war years. The reputation and usefulness of unions were squandered by the ‘what’s in it for me’ attitude of the ‘good times’ baby boomers enjoyed at the expense of efficiency and productivity.
    Every generation since the 70s has lived with the urgency of dealing with climate change while the majority of boomers insisted that “It wouldn’t happen in my(their) lifetime”.
    The boomers named their own generation and named every generation after that…..and disparagingly so.
    Obviously this is not true for every person but boomers always begin this war of generalisations…..Including John Lord with his claim that young(er) people are somehow not interested in politics or their future.
    The struggle to survive due to housing and employment pressures (including the difficulty of staying in any one particular area for any period of time) and the now almost total dismantling of any reliable ‘safety nets’ make any community or political involvement for younger people very difficult or impossible over any sustained period.
    The damage done to more recent generations due to drugs is at the foot of baby boomers for the continued insistence on prohibition measures.
    Baby boomers have always seemed the most fearful of others(mostly younger people) and resistant to changes that don’t directly benefit them, of any generation.
    By the way there is a ‘People’s Climate March this weekend (everywhere) ….. http://www.peoplesclimate.org.au/?

  7. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    That’s strange the question mark was actually part of the web address ….but the link still works. It isn’t a question though.

  8. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Another pertinent point….Who gave Rupert Murdoch his power ? Baby boomers.

  9. Paul G. Dellit

    Hi John,
    Thanks for your thoughtful article, which I think captures the mood of those of us who have observed/participated in Australia’s political system over many years.

    The old saying that the more things change, the more they remain the same, has yet to be proved wrong. For what it’s worth, here is what I believe are some of the immutables of human social organisation:
    1. Revolutionary change can only be sustained by some variant of dictatorship.
    2. Dictatorship eventually succumbs to revolution.
    3. You don’t want to get into the dictatorship business as it always turns out to be bad for your longevity.
    4. Evolutionary change in democratic systems is self-sustaining as long as the demos believe it accords with their values and self-interests (adherents of right wing ideology, in its pure form, make no distinction between the two – their values are subsumed within the notion of their self-interest.)
    5. In the current context, the two very large flies in democracy’s ointment are (a) the fourth estate, which can influence beliefs and has been heavily influenced by powerful right wing ideologues (principally Murdoch and large-scale international capitalists), and (b) our unavoidable reliance upon the mechanisms of government – government by elected political parties which, as Max Weber observed many years ago, begin with a set of outwardly focused founding principles which are progressively perverted by the lust for power by the office bearers of the party so that each political party eventually cares more about itself than the people it was established to serve.
    6. I think we have to resign ourselves to having 5(a) as a permanent part of the political landscape, albeit waning over time (vide 7 below).
    7. As average education levels continue to rise, the influence of 5(a) will wane somewhat but, more importantly, the combination of improved education and social media is beginning to force whichever party is in power to become more responsive to the common weal. Social media is supplanting a large part of the influence previously the almost exclusive preserve of the traditional fourth estate.
    8. There are many reasons to remain optimistic, in spite of “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

    I was going to end my comment here, John, but I cannot resist responding to the anti Baby-Boomer comment above. I believe that its offensiveness is matched only by its stupidity for the following reasons.

    The post Baby Boomer generations enjoy the infrastructure – physical and social – and the related increases in the wealth and average life span of the population, and changes in the hard-wired conservatism of Australian society, courtesy of the taxes paid by Baby Boomers and social movements pioneered by Baby Boomers.

    The pre Baby Boomer generation supported a government which conscripted its young males for a war in which a number of them died. And they were conscripted before they had the vote. As your article mentions, Menzies took us to war on a lie. So did Howard. Neither of them were Baby Boomers. (But both were exemplars of the LNP’s willingness to sacrifice the lives of others so that they could retain power.)

  10. John Lord

    Chris. Last year I conducted group session with 12 year twelve students at our local Catholic college. The purpose was to assertain their suitability to vote. Overwhelmingly they were conversant with all the major issues but had little understanding of political ideology.

  11. Adrianne Haddow

    Seems like a nerve was touched, Chris.

    Sure I agree people with avarice as their main principle in life are the ruin of all future generation’s prospects on this planet.
    But this applies to all generations.

    No one is blameless when it comes to grabbing what they can or being conned into believing your worth is measured by what you can buy.

    To lay the blame of the drug culture at the feet of the boomers is also a bit unfair. The colonial masters had their hashish, the Victorians had their opium, the Roaring Twenties had cocaine and hashish, and bootleg booze. If you wished to, you can trace the drug culture back to the beginnings of written history.

    Yes, I am aware there is a climate march this weekend, and have been active in climate lobbying and social justice lobbying since the 70’s. As have all my friends.

    People who make up each generation are different, motivated by different things, hold beliefs and principles which are different.
    There are lots of boomers out there who hold the similar values, and fears, as you.

    Truce ?

    As for Rupert Murdoch.
    His father and the entitled class gave him his power. And people who read blatant propaganda as news.

  12. Paul G. Dellit

    It seems Chris begins with a prejudice and looks for a specious argument to support it. If anything, his generation should be grateful to the Baby Boomers, but as a existential proposition, his critique of that generation is a nonsense.

  13. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    You said ” I believe that its offensiveness is matched only by its stupidity for the following reasons.
    The post Baby Boomer generations enjoy the infrastructure – physical and social – and the related increases in the wealth and average life span of the population, and changes in the hard-wired conservatism of Australian society, courtesy of the taxes paid by Baby Boomers and social movements pioneered by Baby Boomers.”


    Not entirely the article I wanted but mentions the study (or the kind of study) I was looking for. Life expectancy is not necessarily increasing for everybody and is greatly dependent on wealth.

    “Wealthy and middle-class baby boomers can expect to live substantially longer than their parents’ generation. Meanwhile, life expectancy for the poor hasn’t increased and may even be declining”

    “infrastructure physical and social” only for people who can afford to enjoy (or live any where near) it.

    “social movements pioneered by Baby Boomers.” lol. Baby boomers did not pioneer most of those. They just continued the work of others but try to claim everything as their own. The anti-conscription movement began in World War One, Suffragettes, war work in WW2, even Aboriginal Rights politics began before baby boomers.

    “To lay the blame of the drug culture at the feet of the boomers is also a bit unfair.”
    It is not the drug culture, which always exists. It is the prohibitory culture that has made its effects more damaging through disease and more damaging options being more available than safer options ie ice, unreliable strengths of drugs and dangerous treatment options ie naltrexone.

    Yes, John. Political ideology is greatly removed from education. ‘Our system is the only way’ is all that is allowed to be taught. No sensible rational examination of any alternatives. They are only ever used as ‘cautionary tales’ and not even given as a means of examining or critiquing history or politics. I don’t think you will find any Marxist criticism/analysis (even when I was at school). The tools to examine such things are not given by education.

    This is directly from my local council’s minutes and the results of a conference that some members attended. I heard some of the American guy that conducted it on the radio….but it was dumb so I stopped listening. I thought it may have been on RNs ‘Big Ideas’ but I can’t find it.

    “The life stages for people now are child, adolescent, adult, lifestyle, retired, old (82 years). There
    is a blurring and blending of work and lifestyle, that is increasing.

    Gen X and Gen Y have kicked adolescence out to 29.

    Postponement of commitment to marriage stretched out from 21 to 29 yrs.

    You can’t change the funds available, but you can manage the expectations, which are becoming

    Suggestion: Let it all out in a public meeting and explain life’s realities.

    KIPPERS = kids in parent pockets eroding retirement

    X is the “p…..ed off” generation.

    Y is the special pampered generation. Unrealistic expectations. They are entrepreneurs and

    Z generation are children of X women and are pragmatists and fixers.”

    A perfect example of the idiotic being put on the public record for…..? I dunno….the titillation of baby boomers and reinforcement of their feelings of self satisfaction and superiority ?

    I can’t resist giving boomers a good bollocking because they deserve it. They are still ‘wrecking the joint’….
    I see some other complaints about my comment but they really give me nothing to rebut. Apart from the ‘You should be grateful’……for what ?
    Baby boomers have killed a lot of my pets, revegetation projects and things I loved (even recently).

  14. keerti

    Boomers! yep, we’d be the ones who rode pushbikes from Adelaide to Roxby Downs in 1982.. don’t try to teach your granny to suck eggs boy!

  15. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    No my Grandma wasn’t a boomer. She was a proto-feminist…. My parents are ‘useless baby boomers’…..so are my partners.

  16. Paul G. Dellit

    Dear, Dear, Chris. Seems like most of your significant others are against you. Is it a case of “all the world’s a fool” except you?

  17. win jeavons

    We don’t need better leaders, we need better voters. Ones who question waffle, ask hard questions, don’t buy into lies .

  18. Chris the Greatly Dismayed

    Paul G. Dellit No but that is the arrogant foolishness and inability to accept any legitimate criticism to which your deluded and corrupt generation excels. Your points were weak and poorly thought out.

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