If our politicians aren’t embarrassed they should be.
They are doing such a woeful job that the Australian public has said pullover, I’m taking the wheel.
The Reform summit overwhelmingly agreed that our politicians are trapped in legislative lethargy, consumed by poll driven populism, too afraid to do what must be done, too absorbed by political posturing.
The summit brought together business groups, unions, welfare groups, educators, economists, think tanks, NGOs, journalists, ex-public servants and more. Many different opinions were expressed but nearly always backed up by reasons and suggestions.
It was the absolute antithesis of parliament. People of diametrically opposed views were able to state their case and respond to points others had raised. There was no sense of doom and gloom, just a myriad of different ideas about how we can address the problems we face now and into the future.
A few contributors were very obviously pushing their own barrows but the vast majority made a commitment to not do that. They weren’t there for self-interest for their particular group but to listen and find compromises – to learn from each other the different aspects of both problems and suggested solutions.
Some described it as just another talkfest but it was more than that. It was encouraging, thought-provoking – there was a real sense of purpose and a feeling of let’s get this done. It was a slap in the face for our politicians who were sidelined. Let us work out the game plan and then we’ll tell you how to play it.
And it isn’t just meetings of the community leaders that are taking over.
Look at the success of small community and Indigenous groups in Queensland in saving us from the economic and environmental disaster threatened by mining in the Galilee Basin. The judiciary was forced to remind the government of the separation of power.
Operation Fortitude, where Melbourne was to be invaded by black-uniformed paramilitaries stopping people they came across to ask to see their identity papers, was announced and cancelled quicker than you could blink thanks to social media.
Abbott axed the Climate Commission and within weeks they had over $1 million donated by the public to continue their important work renamed the Climate Council.
Sadly, women speaking out against giving themselves rolled gold paid parental leave were so successful they had their current conditions taken away.
Gillian Triggs and Julian Burnside and others, including the Pope, are fighting tooth and nail for human rights for asylum seekers. This is one community fight that has so far been unsuccessful.
There is so much to do. We have the ideas and the people and the resources to do it. We just have to get these learners out of the driver’s seat.