Australia is headed towards becoming Asia’s poor cousin. The major parties have given up on economic reform, productivity and innovation. Their approaches on these issues have generated only stalemate and inertia.
They are now reliant on mass immigration as their only strategy for economic growth. But the costs of this strategy are unacceptable: huge infrastructure and services deficits, unaffordable housing for the next generation, congestion and over-development in our cities, and declining social cohesion and trust.
Having lost public trust, the major parties cannot address important policy challenges such as energy and climate, drought and agricultural sustainability, inadequate skills and training, failing schools, and the viability of our health system.
Most of our government systems – from aged care to veterans to water management to banking regulation – are broken.
Our security environment in the Asia-Pacific region is changing rapidly with the rise of China and the retreat of the United States, but the major parties are unable to accept that Australia is now on our own. Being unable to accept this reality, they are incapable of undertaking the planning and investment we need in defence and security.
Unable to address these challenges, the major parties have resorted to divisive culture wars, replacing sensible public debate with arguments over identity politics and endless negative attacks on the Other Side. Our adversarial Westminster system of democracy and government has only exacerbated these trends.
On top of all this, we’ve been hit by Covid-19. If we’d had trusted leaders and institutions in place, we might have been able to manage Covid more sensibly, with less panic and more confidence in our ability to live with the virus. Instead, we are now one of the few countries in the world still stuck in lockdowns, with no end in sight.
Leadership to turn the country around cannot come from the major parties. It can only come from a political movement that brings Australians together from different social and political backgrounds to establish a unifying consensus on critical economic, social, security, and ecological challenges.
The need for national leadership is now urgent. The battle in Australian politics is now between a new national consensus for revival and renewal, and the failed traditional parties that have run the country into the ground.
This post first appeared in the Australian Sensible Centre newsletter. See: www.sensiblecentre.org.au/our-movement