Are you sick of political negativity?

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Introduction

Australians are growing more and more tired of the negativity of our political debate. I know I certainly am.

Instead of being positive, our politicians are negative. In 2011 I spent a lot of time challenging people to be positive instead of negative. An edited version appeared in the Herald Sun here. In addition I spoke of how Australia could be in its Golden Age here as part of the Richard Searby Oration in 2011.

Time to make Australia Positive Again.

Refugees, carbon tax, population growth, are all issues of importance, but we as Australians are being asked more often than not to choose between alternative views of fear, not hope. We are being asked more often than not to vote against something we fear, not for something we want.

Australians are tiring of fear and negativity from whichever side it may come. Australians would like to hear some inspiration, and hear how our country can be lead based on a vision of a good future. We are a good country and continue to be the lucky country, hence it is time both our political leaders gave us this hope and optimism.

Here is the speech I would love to hear a PM or an Opposition Leader give. I am not saying this should be Julie Gillard, or Tony Abbott, rather a hypothetical ‘future political leader’. It would run something like this:

“Australians, we the parliament, have heard you. You are tired of negativity; tired of the school yard fighting that is question time. You are tired of fear and thirst for inspiration.

We hope you will see it is a sign of good leadership to admit mistakes and change course when change is needed.

We were wrong to inspire fear. We were wrong to dress things in the negative. We are wrong to demonize our political opponents. Our opponents may well have a different perspective on where our country should head, but we must recognise that both Government and Opposition MPs have the best intentions in mind for Australia. They may have a different view on how to get there, but there intention is good.

We must recognise areas where our policy views converge, and areas where our views diverge. It is our responsibility as both government and opposition to construct a positive debate around those areas of divergence to give Australians a clear decision of alternative government policies based on hope not fear – opportunity not threat.

It is time to hit the national ‘re-set button’. It is time for a dialogue to be one of hope.

And let’s start our discussions from the point of strength that we now have. Our growth was 1.2% last quarter. Greece: negative7%. Our unemployment is 5.2%; The US nearing 10.

Australia is in the ideal future time zone. We are geographically at the critical point of the globe. With our ethnic mix as one of the most multi-cultural nations on earth, we are ideally placed to be the interface hinge between the Anglo-Saxon and Asian worlds.

This should be our Golden Time. Despite current equity market turmoil, this should be the time where we debate a bright future. Our choices should be ones of inspiration and if this is to be the Asian Century, we should be the century’s cultural hinge, not cultural cringe.

Let’s start the national reset with asylum seekers.

Many have said that the refugee issue should not be a big issue. And I agree. It should not be. But it is.

This issue has now moved beyond one of boats. It has moved beyond the location of processing. It has even moved beyond one of people.

This has grown now to become an issue about the soul of our country, an issue about the content of our collective character. It is now a debate about who we are and how we wish to be perceived.

Whatever we decide as policy, we should aim to enhance and not detract from our country’s international reputation with our debate on alternative policy solutions.

We are an intelligent country that can engage in difficult debate and we should not debate in sound bites. The asylum debate is difficult and it does our country no good to simply say ‘stop the boats’.  But nor does it do justice to a complicated issue to say ‘just let them land’.  We need to find a way to engage the community in a deep and detailed dialogue on a complicated issue.

We have in this country been debating the wrong issue. The location of processing – Australia, Malaysia or Nauru is the wrong discussion. The harder and more critical issue is that of resettlement once a refugee is processed. If you fix the resettlement issue, people will not even get on boats.

But resettlement is tough as it involves all countries in our region agreeing on what their ‘fair share’ of the asylum seekers is. PNG’s fair share. Nauru’s fair share. New Zealand’s fair share.  Indonesia’s fair share. Our fair share.

Our policy should be about who comes to our country and the circumstances in which they come, not a policy on who we stop from coming to our country and the circumstances in which we stop them.

Ours should be a ‘controlled entry policy’ not a ‘Border Protection’ policy. It should be regional and one based on the opportunities we have to strengthen regional alliances, and the opportunities that come from a continued broad mix of our national ethnic make-up.

This is but one example. This is where we start.

We can and must ‘Make Australia Positive Again’.”

That is the Speech I would like to hear and I would vote for whichever party leader who would give it.


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