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Why are our leaders so ignorant about life outside their bubble?

Because, increasingly, governments seem to be relying for advice from political advisers – whose job is clearly designed to enhance the chance of the politician’s being re-elected – decisions made, based on that advice, are informed from a very narrow knowledge and experience base.

How many politicians, who are eventually promoted to Minister, have studied at university?

How many of those do not have a HECS debt, thanks to Gough Whitlam’s now abandoned policies?

Is there more than a handful of them who have first-hand knowledge of the problems experienced by a close friend or relative, suffering from a serious disability?

How many of them have been out of work for any length of time, struggling to cope with a truly inadequate income?

How many of them have spent enough time in an ATSI community to have a glimmer of understanding of life in that community?

How many of them have suffered racial abuse and discrimination or have close friends or acquaintances who have?

How many of them have spent any significant period of time having to make seriously important decisions on priorities because of extraordinarily limited funds availability?

How many of them have been dependent on carers, or themselves have been a carer for any length of time?

How many of them rely on advice from the Public Service departments rather than from their political advisers?

For generations, home-based mothers were regarded as not having a job!

What a travesty of truth!

Being a hands-on parent means you not only look after your children’s hygiene, nutrition, safety, attention to homework and general progress at school, keep a close eye on the children’s friends to ensure there are no detrimental influences on the child, talk to teachers, and – in between trying to ensure your children head towards a viable future – do the shopping, cooking, transport the children to any sporting venues more than a bicycle ride away – and, particularly if you are (as many women are) a sole parent, fit in part- or full-time employment outside the home as soon as the children can be properly supervised in your absence.

Few men are in a position to begin to understand what that is like, and if you receive little or no support from a partner, even the part-time work is a significant problem when the children are small.

That is just for starters, in detailing the knowledge not necessarily available to our decision-makers from firsthand experience.

And there are still men who see everything to do with managing the household and the children as the mother’s job!

Then there are those who cannot find work.

In some areas there are few jobs available, particularly for those relatively unskilled, yet for them to move elsewhere and look for work, they need first to find accommodation, have some decent clothes to wear to a job interview and be able to afford transport to interviews. That is before they have started earning! And the paltry amount offered by WorkSmart will be re-established once we emerge form the COVID-19 lock down!

The state-run TAFEs of bygone days did at least offer those who did not think in terms of university, a realistic chance of becoming qualified in a trade. Today’s privatised organisations require up-front fees, with no likelihood of a refund if the organisation goes belly up – as too many have done.

The current incarnation of Centrelink is also in part privatised, and in consequence sees its role as satisfying shareholders rather than helping human beings in need.

RoboDebt was a prime example of profit-motivation driving an illegally designed program which damaged people in desperate need of support. How many have already been refunded money they did not owe?

The cashless welfare card puts money in the pockets of the card supplier (money which ought to be going to those in need!) while making life even more difficult for people struggling to manage their finances, on the pretence of helping them to budget.

Not everyone is out of work by choice, but if you have grown up in a household in which your parent(s) has/have been unable to find work, you do not have a model to guide you, as is the case with those whose parents are in continuous employment.

If you have a serious disability, from birth or acquired, assistance from NDIS is way short of optimal – again because privatisation and outsourcing means you are not necessarily being helped by appropriately trained and motivated people. And this is also true for able job seekers who have to follow unrealistic regimes while competing for jobs in a market with more job seekers than jobs!

How many of those, planning the legislation which demonises the jobless, have had an firsthand experience of the effect of their policies?

Just to throw in another very pertinent issue, thanks to very poor decisions about the NBN, there are many parts of Australia where access to the internet is difficult or impossible. And on top of that, despite valiant efforts to remedy the situation, many of our more elderly still do not have the ability to use the internet and miss out on government information, posted online in the arrogant assumption that it will reach everyone.

I have a friend, only months younger than I am, who never checks her emails or uses a browser because, following a stroke, causing some cognitive impairment, it is too challenging. And she is also, in consequence, cut off from MyGov and similar websites.

It used to be that people from all political backgrounds, stood for election in order to promote policies to help people in ways that matched their political ideals.

Now, we have a few political parties whose adherents attach themselves, early in life, after possibly a brief taste of a ‘real’ world career, become a party apparatchik, assist the local branch, stand for pre-selection – preferably in a ‘safe’ seat – and enter parliament with a limited picture of the world outside their ideological group.

I grew up at a time when communism was a live issue. When I studied mathematics at Imperial College in the mid-1950s, the head of my Faculty and several of the lecturers were members of the British Communist party (BCP). The invasion of Hungary in 1956 was a turning point and the BCP dwindled thereafter, but the picture we had in the UK at that time was of communism being designed to help those oppressed by the power of the establishment, and to attempt to share wealth more equitably. Potentially noble aims, but Stalin and his successors merely established a new, utterly authoritarian regime, while the underlying concepts of socialism lingered on, raising suspicion because of events.

The idea now that an individual, independent of any party structure, could in any way influence national policy agendas is a pipe dream. Yet, when I was a teenager, it was still seen in the USA that even a lowly cow-hand could aspire to be President!

Not too many billionaire cowhands around to seek election these days!

The market rules, and international corporations call the shots so our elected politicians rush to do their bidding while ignoring the needs of the electorate!

Like the UK, but not quite as completely, we have followed too closely in the USA’s policy footsteps and unless we backtrack, we will pay a very high price.

The current disastrous state of the world’s heath, as regards people and also the economy, must surely give us pause to think – we could do better than this.

The lowering of emissions because of the slowing down of industry and the significantly reduced use of transport – particularly airplanes! – MUST be used to change our trajectory.

The economy is NOT the major consideration. Not unless it is being restructured to assist fighting global warming and improving people’s lives.

We have representatives on the National Cabinet who do not share the Coalition’s ideology – and the Coalition, in any case, only has a one seat majority – far from overwhelming! – which means there are effectively as many who oppose them as support them. (The Coalition did NOT win a majority of votes!)

As a member of Extinction Rebellion Darwin, I am aching for the lock down to be lifted so that we can be out on the streets demanding policy changes which will give our grandchildren hope for a life!

I end as always – this is my 2020 New Year Resolution:
“I will do everything in my power to enable Australia to be restored to responsible government

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12 comments

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  1. John Holmes

    Good paper, but considering the virus, this just further reinforces the need for some sort of Revolution.

    The comment “….For generations, home-based mothers were regarded as not having a job!….” is of interest as I feel it has generated much of the gender angst in our civilization.

    The value of the home maker was not considered to be worthy of including in the GDP so any contribution was of null value. That was reinforced at the Yalta conference towards the end of WW2. The leaders of the Allies met and decided that, so we can blame President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Premier Joseph Stalin.

    One could suggest that this was the result in part of not being able to identify the out put of the home maker and so allowing it to be taxed.

    For our current crop of politico’s, their heritage of the Squattocracy must also be taken into account.

  2. Matters Not

    Re:

    The idea now that an individual, independent of any party structure, could in any way influence national policy agendas is a pipe dream.

    Greta would disagree! And so would many others. The Democracy we have is not meant for everybody’s participation. For them it’s limited to being a mere spectator. But the general point seems sound.

    As for financial transactions via plastic cards, in the village where I shop one chemist won’t accept cash and other traders say they prefer tap-and-go transactions – something to do with health concerns so they say. Methinks, it’s the future.

  3. Joseph Carli

    ” Why are our leaders so ignorant about life outside their bubble? “…….’cause they don’t read Joe Carli’s stories?

  4. New Bruce

    “How many of them have been out of work for any length of time, struggling to cope with a truly inadequate income?”

    How many of them have ever held down a REAL job, and by that I mean one in which ones actual output is the make or break on keeping that job, not some ipa patty-cake “fill in until you have served your dues” paper shuffling achievenothingrealbuticanmakeanynumberyouwantlookgoodorbadandwhatkindofheadlinedoyouwantboss tosser spot until the next election, aka scottyfromadvertising’s background.

    Put our politicians, federal, state and local, in front of Monty Python’s Bridge of Death and the Gorge of Eternal Peril, and see if they can answer “These Questions Three”

    They will either not have the bottle in the first place, therefore problem solved, or not know the difference between an African or European Swallow. Filter number 2. Anyone who gets through has at least half a brain, so Australians at all levels of government have a better chance than we do now.

    Take care everyone.

  5. Geoff Andrews

    James Holmes,
    Your reference to the squattocracy brings to mind C. J. Dennis’ reference to this rump of the right in his poem, “The Martyred Democrat”, in which he is describing, satirically, a Toorak branch meeting of the conservatives. The names of the characters gives the game away: Miss Fibwell, Lady Lusher, Willie Dawdlerich, Percy Puttypate, Senator O’Sweatem

    “And likewise there, on couch and chair, with keen, attentive ears,
    Sat many sons and daughters of our sturdy pioneers;
    Seed of our noble squatter-lords, those democrats of old,
    Who held of this fair land of ours as much as each can hold;
    Whose motto is, and ever was, despite the traitor’s gab:
    “Australia for Australians — as much as each can grab.”

    The poem was written in 1911 during the first Labor government in Australia and is worth a read if only to show that the politics of envy hasn’t changed.

  6. Aortic

    I always revert to a letter many moons ago in the SMH. Can’t quote it verbatim but it basically said, ” as I come to the end of a long and fruitful life, I am more and more convinced that anyone who thinks they know what is better for me than I know myself, should be led away before they hurt somebody.”

  7. Old bloke

    ‘Being a hands-on parent means you not only look after your children’s hygiene, nutrition, safety, attention to homework and general progress at school, keep a close eye on the children’s friends to ensure there are no detrimental influences on the child, talk to teachers, and – in between trying to ensure your children head towards a viable future – do the shopping, cooking, transport the children to any sporting venues more than a bicycle ride away’

    I’m a father and that applies to me. It’s not just women (still by far the majority) that do so much of the upbringing of their child. I know what it is like to lie awake at night listening for the sound of the returning car. He’s over 40 now and I still do it and worry about him, whilst always trying not to interfere with his life. And I did it again in a later marriage and he’s 19. OK, I’ve had my grumble.

  8. Old bloke

    Rosemary, if you want to wonder if your efforts are really worthwhile (of course they are) have a look on You Tube for ‘Planet of the Humans’ put there by Michael Moore. Left me utterly depressed and feeling powerless.

  9. RosemaryJ36

    John Holmes – I think the devaluing of women’s home duties, in the days when men rarely helped, followed on from the days when women had no rights in property or as a voter. My mother had to resign on marriage in 1931, and 3 children in fairly quick succession plus associated ill health plus WWII meant she never worked outside the home again. But she worked her butt off to manage finances better than my father (the bank nearly foreclosed on the mortgage because he was responsible for paying the instalments and frittered the money away instead) and she was determined my sister and I would be free to follow a career, not dependent, as she was, on remaining in a loveless marriage. Plus trying to quantify In financial terms the value of a homemakers contribution is even harder than truly valuing the services of the ‘caring’ professions – nurses, teachers, care workers, carers and others in similar vital and many other undervalued roles where the workforce is predominantly female.

    MN – Greta is my shining light but the government reactions worldwide need to increase enormously because time is not on our side in trying to minimise the fallout from the post industrial revolution years. We have gained convenience and wealth in financial terms at too great a cost to the planet.

    Old bloke – it is great that men are now joining in more whole-heartedly in parenting duties beyond kicking a football with their sons on a weekend. My two sons, one a father, one not, are well house trained and multi-skilled when it comes to household matters as is my son-in-law.

  10. John Lord

    and the Coalition, in any case, only has a one seat majority – far from overwhelming! – which means there are effectively as many who oppose them as support them. (The Coalition did NOT win a majority of votes!)

    We are apt to forget.

  11. Dave G.

    The last time a Govt. had a good working majority was Tony Abbott’s.Go figure!!

  12. Toni van Dalen

    The stupidity of the government sending Emails about mail that is on the MyGov website for you, then having to log into My gov to read a generic piece of fluff that could have been in the original Email. I scream with frustration. Just send it out in a newsletter as it used to be done. I agree that not everyone has a computer or access to internet and neither does the whole population own a mobile phone. The blanket just give me your phone number and we will contact you makes me dig in my heels and ask for a letter please.

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