Against a backdrop of big promises in this election two things stand out to me,
Malcolm Turnbull, candidate for Wentworth, going against the trend on election night, stressed to supporters that community diversity and egalitarianism had been crucial in his win. Sydney’s Wentworth, stretching from the gullies of Bronte and Cooper Park to urban Bondi Junction and Double Bay, Malcolm claims was multicultural before the term was coined. For him its most endearing aspect, and the least well known, is that it is an egalitarian, democratic and far from homogenous community. He recalls,
“Most mornings my father and I went for a swim at North Bondi Surf Club. The surf club showers were no respecters of rank or privilege. Our companions included judges and garbos, teachers and policemen, businessmen of all types; from shmattas in Surry Hills to high finance in Martin Place. There were surgeons whose hands saved lives and there were gentlemen whose calloused hands were used, in a rather emphatic manner, to collect debts for bookies.”
Maxine McKew, candidate for Bennelong, speaking to campaign workers at the community hall in Cox’s Road, North Ryde, put the swing in her favour down to an ‘old fashioned grassroots campaign’ that included doorknocking 26,000 homes. She said,
“We knocked on doors. We stood in the shopping strips. We argued the case. We called public forums.”
She also recalled positive comments from six year old Emily who told her Kevin Rudd would be a great Prime Minister for children.
Maxine has committed herself to Bennelong, and a career in politics, regardless of the election outcome.
“Whatever happens, this is my community…I’m here for the long-term.”
Nicholas Gruen, academic and CEO of Lateral Economics, writing in Saturday’s Age (24/11/07) said the Coalition had been ‘taking stabs in the dark’ due to its lack of vision. Despite being in the midst of our longest boom in history, the wheels fell off the cart. His explanation:
“The art of politics… is all for nothing if it isn’t about trying to bring politicians’ self-interest into some constructive relation with the welfare of those they govern…Howard (has) been relatively uninterested in policy…there was increasingly strident concern from the business community at Howard’s lack of policy vision”.
It seems the Business Council as long ago as 1999 proposed a wage-tax trade-off to achieve similar goals to WorkChoices – arguably ‘better policy and certainly better politics’ – but the Prime Minister rejected the proposal.
The Way Ahead…
“If the people can see their government constructively engaging to foresee the problems of the future, that greatly relieves the pressure on it to buy its next election victory with promises it can’t keep…to govern well, one must not just win the next election but do so with enough in the tank to win the one after that.”
Is it time for us to recognise and engage in: