Preamble: At my Senate Campaign launch in 2013 I read this quote by Zachary Jeans,
"Great leaders don't force their people to drink; they inspire them to be thirsty.”
It is apt that I use it again in this context as I introduce this latest guest blog piece by Justin Baxter.
Justin, like many in our community, is wanting to hear words of inspiration from our leaders. Here he puts his words into a thought provoking narrative.
Where are our Political leaders, our Statesmen and Women?
Our Prime Minister is entrusted to be the leader of the Australian Government and the leader of our Nation. By convention, the Prime Minister is a member of the House of Representatives who leads the parliamentary party, or coalition of parties, with the support of the majority of members in the House.
In our democracy the Opposition (or ‘alternative’ government) has responsibilities to, scrutinise (closely examining) the work of the government, seek explanations of the government if its actions are called to question, debate bills and provide alternatives to government policies.
These important roles, by virtue, require leadership.
But where are our leaders, our spokespeople, our great orators, our inspiration, our statesmen and women?
Commentary in the press confirms my opinion that we have nobody in high office which demonstrates the attributes of a true leader.
Where are the speeches that cause a nation to rise up and swell with pride?
Where are the words and actions which would resonate with a Nation?
Where is the leader who can articulate emphatically what we need to hear, not what we want to hear?
Where is the leader who can tell us such words without being condescending, without causing fear, without inciting hatred?
Where is the leader who connects and resonates with all Australians, not a particular demographic?
Where is the leader who has empathy with every constituent regardless of their means, race, religion or sexual orientation?
Where is the leader with whom we can share a vision and them with ours?
Where is the leader who can sweep us up in a tide of change?
In Australia in 2015 what should the words of a leader sound like? Irrespective of our political persuasion most of us have seen and/or heard great orators, either in real time; or have read their words in the journals of Australian history.
For me none, since the Hon Paul Keating exited the stage, have roused a sense of pride.
Is it that they no longer present with the conviction of their beliefs? Has reliance on sanitised speech writers left our current stock of leaders with the inability to think for themselves?
For me the words that are uttered at lecterns often reek of little substance and aim to tell their audience what they think they want them to hear. I believe that people are far savvier than that and can read through emotionless lines, often scripted to manipulate.
A professional speech writer I am not. However I want to share with you words that an average voter like me might like to hear.
I want you to imagine these words read with passion and conviction, words crafted to inspire; and if delivered well, words which would ignite pride, engage and motivate people to walk, side by side, with the leader on a journey for the health and wealth of a nation.
These words are written from how I perceive a community leader, political or otherwise may speak….they are my words.
Australia is a privileged country.
Australia is an ancient land and I pay respects to the custodians who, over the millennia, have nurtured soil and sea. Australia is an ancient land with an equally ancient history of human inhabitation.
Australia is a country of equality, courage, endurance and mateship.
We have ancient landscapes and ancient peoples, yet are youthful in the modern world.
We struggle to reconcile 55,000 years of history, culture and custodianship with 227 years of European occupation. We cannot undo what has been done nor can we undo the hurt caused, the pains inflicted or sow new seeds of a people erased for perpetuity but we genuinely strive for; and will achieve true reconciliation.
Great nations recovering from invasion, displacement and pain have learned to evolve, heal and reconcile their past so they may build their future and we will too. There is no better time than now to heal, reconcile the past and shape the future.
We need to create a future that celebrates 55 000 years of custodianship, a future that commemorates 227 years of occupation, a future that confesses the wrongs of our ancestors and a future that refuses to continue making the errors of our past.
This is incumbent of us.
We must and will advance as one. Our country is made up of many rich cultures, skin colours, languages and a hugely diverse history.
My vision is for a country where there is true equality and fairness and where a citizen’s ethnicity, history and ancestry are embraced.
My vision is to remove labels from groups in our diverse communities and to promote a unified Australia.
Like any human, I have wants and needs but in our current society I see individuals wanting more in life than we reasonably need.
It is not the role of the Commonwealth to provide each of us with what we want.
The Commonwealth has been vested with the responsibility to provide for our needs. In providing in such a way, citizens shall have the opportunity to satisfy what it is they want through work, paid or voluntary and through personal endeavour.
Social justice is a fundamental need and right for all Australians.
We have the right to the best affordable public education system, the best affordable public health system and the right to freedoms of expression and to be safe.
We have the right to work and be justly rewarded for those efforts, we have the right to access systems that allow us to improve our life circumstance.
We have the right enjoy life and love with a partner of our choice, irrespective of gender.
We have the right to enjoy life irrespective of our skin colour and the right to live freely in our communities and to contribute positively.
For too long we have allowed ourselves to be guided by doctrine established by those who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.
As a government we must regain our worth, look back to our forebears and forward to our future generations to re-establish what the values of an Australian are.
We must redefine what it means to have “a fair go”.
I believe our elected members have, for far too long, been living a lie.
They have (we have) been perpetuating a long line of falsities; have not been honest and have been selling a dream, a utopia of sorts, to promise a better future at election in the hope of being maintained in; or restored to power.
We have been allowed to be corrupted by the minority, those who wish to have absolute power.
We have knowingly promised to deliver great things at each election knowing that as a government those promises are largely unaffordable.
We need to stop with the promise of undeliverable commitments and start afresh with honesty.
We need to explain how we will support the fundament needs of our society and strive to fulfil our wants within our, this Nation’s, means.
Once we can restore this equilibrium we can turn our hand to helping others without question or hesitation, as that is the Australian way.
We have reached a cross-road and we will take the path of morality leave the road of dishonesty behind. We have been using propaganda to unfairly extort trust and have tried to manipulate you, using fear as a catalyst.
Australia, this Nation, our Nation, knows not of civil war, civil unrest or internal conflict which would have had us take up arms against each other.
The architects of our Federation knew not what the world would hold, but they knew what the world should not hold for all Australians.
They created laws to protect us, to guide us, laws that protect our liberties while protecting us from those who may wish to harm us. These laws have stood the test of time.
The architects of Federation understood the rule of law, our guiding and overarching principle. They understood that power corrupts absolutely.
Emeritus Geoffrey Walker QC in his book The rule of law: foundation of constitutional democracy, wrote:
(1) That the people (including, one should add, the government) should be ruled by the law and obey it and;
(2) That the law should be such that people will be able (and, one should add, willing) to be guided by it.’
Our Nation has been witness to the most devastating conflicts this planet has known, our existence at one point even threatened, yet our system of justice, the separation of powers, the rule of law served us well, protected us, guided us but we now stand on the cusp of a breach of these principles.
They wish to give sight to justice, to remove her veil so she may bask in the glory of their vision.
Justice is only blind when laid bare for all to see.
Australia was not built on a culture of fear. Our Coat of Arms is testament to that.
Two ‘Australians’ gentle by nature, non-threatening, not taking a step back when vulnerable;
Two Australians at one with their land and their environment;
Two Australians at peace with each other.
Embrace the future, a future of morality and of trust.
A future where our needs are met, a future where we are socially responsible.
A future where we would stand united if threatened and where justice is balanced between our liberties and our needs.
Father, Partner, Australian.
Words such as these are word I need to hear from our leader(s) our statesmen and women. But I do not want just want to hear the words, I want to feel the words, connect with the words. Importantly and fundamentally I want, I need to believe the words.