What are Australia’s great strengths? Do we value them?

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When I returned to Australia in late 2009 after living in many third world countries, I came to the view that Australia does not value her strengths. In 2010 I wrote this article.

Do we Value Australia’s strengths?

When I was being interviewed for the role of CEO of the Committee for Melbourne I was asked by the board “what do you like about Melbourne and why do you want to come home?”

My answer was simple. I said two things.

“You can drink water from the tap and you have the MCG.”

Whilst the board thought I was being a bit flippant let’s look at this. The fact that one can drink water from the tap says a lot about Melbourne’s infrastructure. 80% of people on this planet can’t drink water from the tap. If you can you are in the wealthiest 20% of people in the world. This very simple act, that we take for granted, says a lot about how much of our country works. There really are not many cities in the world where you can drink fresh clean and tasty water from the tap.

I consider this to be an enormous luxury. It is why when I go to a restaurant or cafe I refuse to buy bottled water. Why pay for water to come from the other side of the world with all of the greenhouse emissions in ignorance of what comes out of our tap?

And the MCG. We take that great icon for granted. Think about this: where else in the world can the family still afford to go to a major stadium and 100,000 people and get home safely without any flares rights for violence?

In North America is too expensive for a family to go.

In Europe it is too dangerous and the crowds are segregated by supporter base and you often see rights flares and violence.

Where else in the world to 12, 13 or 14-year-old girl say to their parents “hi Mum, I don’t, I’m going to a mass public event with 100,000 people and no adult supervision” and Mum says “see you when you get home dear”?

Next time you go to the MCG have a look after the game at the number of 12, 13 and 14-year-olds in groups unsupervised. Ask yourself where else in the world could this happen?

When I was at the MCG for the 2010 grand final replay around about halfway through the final quarter I turned to my two brothers and said “boys, suck this up. This is about as good as the world gets. Here we are in a massive stadium with 100,000 people enjoying a game and there is no hint of violence and there is a sense of collective enjoyment. And above all our team is winning! This is as good as life gets”.

Because we have such a failure to recognise what we are good at, we have a failure to recognise what is good. Because we don’t celebrate success in individuals, we fail to see success as a society. This is why I also wrote a blog on the dangers of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.

Ours is an excellent society and we should celebrate excellence not hide from behind platitudes like words “lucky”. 

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