In his book The Lucky Country, Donald Horne wrote that:
‘…Australia is a lucky country run mainly by second rate people who share its luck. It lives on other people’s ideas, and although it’s ordinary people are adaptable, most of its leaders (in all fields) so lack curiosity about the events that surround them that they are often taken by surprise…’
Well, Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese and all elected members of parliament state and federal, now is the time, now is the hour, to prove Donald Horne wrong.
In the words of Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel:
‘Never let a good crisis go to waste’
Perhaps in these straightened times with the government, by compulsion ordering small businesses to ‘go over the top’ to use a trench warfare expression, to walk into a hail of bullets by closing down for weeks or months, effectively putting the businesses out of business and the owners continuing to be saddled with their debts of loan repayments and leases and eventually losing their homes, it’s time for the government to similarly make its own sacrifices and send some of its own ‘sons and daughters‘ government owned businesses and long held and rusted on ideologies over the top in the national interest.
If the expectation is for everyone, both individually and collectively to make sacrifices, batten down the hatches and weather the storm, the government too, should be expected to get its own house in order.
And substantially. Not just pea and thimble stuff at the margins. Big swingeing and sything cuts.
The sheer scale of the debt, is now insurmountable, will never be paid back and will now make it necessary for the government to do what it is asking of others.
If it was ok to sell Qantas and the Commonwealth bank thirty years ago, in the digital and internet world of today, now is the time to flag the intention (when circumstances improve) to sell off the ABC and SBS as well other government instrumentalities, organs and agencies for the sake of the nation in these fraught and difficult times of national survival.
We can simply no longer afford to fund them and thanks to technology, we have never had access to so much news and information both national and international than now and most of it from privately owned traditional and digital media outlets.
Australians understand that we’re at war and are being made more aware on a daily basis that sacrifices, after almost thirty years of economic growth have to be made.
In effect, we have hit the wall. Our luck has run out.
With that in mind, other shibboleths need to be junked and sacred cows sacrificed, like a total revamp of Medicare and the introduction of a co-payment for example needs to be looked at again.
The only infrastructure projects that ought to be considered are those that will grow the economy. Power stations, dams, and imaginative Snowy River type projects in North Queensland. Stuff Australia used to do.
If necessary go to an election and get a mandate to bulldoze all the law-fare and opposition. You’ll win.
While the iron is hot and the Prime Minister has the public’s attention, all pet social engineering and vanity projects should be sacrificed and scrapped in the next few days as part of this national emergency and total recasting of the Australian economy.
The idea that we are no longer a manufacturing nation but one that derives its wealth and economic growth from service industries like nail bars and dog washing also needs to be junked.
Bringing in each other’s washing is not a nation building strategy.
The best example of service industries off the rails are the way the university sector has become dependent on the overseas student cohort. Mainly from China.
To rework John Kennedy:
’ask not what the people should give up for the government but what the government should give up for the people’.
To continue the wartime metaphor, while biting on bullets, as a wartime Prime Minister such initiatives as those outlined above would be regarded and seen as bold and decisive.
Machiavelli would be proud.
Allow me to close it out with a bit of Shakespearean advice for our political class:
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures’