Earlier in March, Political bottom feeders in Western Sydney, provided a brief comment on the Australian PM's campaign in Western Sydney. Today I wanted to record Mark Kenny's 'Aussies first' pledge over jobs hits spot with Labor voters' for later reference.
Those dreaded focus groups. All this is just so NSW. Meantime, ABC Radio National's Big Ideas had an interesting session last night: WHAT'S WRONG WITH OUR LEADERS? And no, it's not quite what you might think. It's actually a reasonably academic exploration of the role of leadership in democracy linked to different democratic models. The program summary states:
Leadership by definition offenses against fundamental principles of democracy – John Kane and Haig Patapan discuss the unique character and always fragile legitimacy of democratic leadership in order to explain why we so frequently suspect our political leaders of being less than honest with us.
The discussion draws out some of the complexities involved.
This short post must have seemed remarkably obscure to readers outside Australia. Briefly, the 457 visa scheme allows workers to enter Australia for a period to meet particular needs that cannot be met locally. Its quite a complicated process, wrapped up in a lot of rules in part because of the risk of abuse.
Up until the PM's visit to Western Sydney, she and the Government had been defending the program, declaring it a success, as indeed it has been. Now she seems to have switched tracks to an Australian jobs for Australians' first mantra. Who could argue with that?
Well, there are two problems.
The first is that the the 457 visa program is designed to fill jobs for which there are no Australian workers available at a point in time, and it seems to have done that reasonably well. The question of why there are no Australian workers available through lack of skills or choice (choice is quite important) is a different question requiring a different response. The second is that she seems to be using shonky statistics to buttress her argument.
I said those dreaded focus groups, adding that this was just all so NSW. I then added a link to a radio program on the role of leadership in democracy.
One of the symptoms of the NSW disease that has now infected Federal Labor lay in the way that policy responses came to be determined by and targeted at community views at a place and at a point in time; the need was an immediate fix, something that would gain a positive response or at least minimise a negative response in the now; the result was a growing addiction to the short term political rush.
I have consciously used drug language, for that best fits the case. As with certain drugs, the immediate brilliance of the rush faded; the fix had to be repeated; the impact diminished with time, while other health problems grew. In the end, NSW Labor sat alone in a delusional world, aware that it was alone, but unable to fix the problem except by even more of the same.
Leadership in a democracy is complex, never correct, always riven by contradictions.
A little while ago on this blog, I asked a question: how come in the space of a bit less than thirty years such a fundamental political shift, the end of the White Australia policy, occurred with so little social disruption? I will now ask another question: could it occur today?
To my mind, the answer is probably no. How could it, when every one of the market measurement techniques now in use to measure opinions and tailor responses for maximum immediate political effect would have shown White Australia's importance?