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Australians' preference for passive politics is a wide-spread problem

By Tim Wishart - posted Friday, 20 July 2001

As a nation, we revel in our right to be passive.

We are, in too many aspects of the management of our society, content to let others do things for us.

I am old enough to remember "Norm" the anti –hero.


Remember "beaudy Newk"? That was in the days when Newk was a world-beater, before his moustache had grey in it – Newk was the can-do Aussie. Norm represented the great Australian passivity. It’s a sad indictment of our culture that we have not progressed beyond that passivity.

We have perhaps become more health conscious and engaged in physical activity – but we have become less engaged in the most important aspects of our society, the way we allow our country to be managed.

We are content to leave the management of our nation to career politicians.

Too many of those whom we elect to manage our country have been involved in traditional party machines from student days.

Some are true believers. Some have their eye on the Prime Ministership from their first involvement in politics. Some seem willing to sell their soul for a sinecure. Some are seemingly there to make up the numbers. But all are bound to their party and its tenets.

We are in a position of having the major established parties telling what is and isn’t good for us, and what we should and shouldn’t do. Sometimes this is necessary.


One cannot help but admire John Howard’s determination in bringing the GST to fruition. The implementation of it has been less than wonderful, but despite the opposition to it he stood by his conviction that it was right for Australia. The big parties have their place.

But major parties have become so generic that it is hard to tell them apart. Sometimes they seemingly change sides in the political spectrum and sprout things that we would, if we paused to think about it, expect their opponents to say or do and we don’t notice. Or if we do notice we shrug and say "bastards" or "what can I do about it?"

We have become disengaged from the process of managing our country and our society.

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About the Author

Tim Wishart was endorsed as a People Power candidate for the 2001 senate election.

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