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Dare to hope for progress

By Mercurius Goldstein - posted Thursday, 1 November 2007

As Australian citizens, voters and taxpayers, we should dare to hope that our government exists to serve us, and not the other way around.

We should dare to hope that a Federal government which accounts for 22 per cent of GDP and state governments which account for around another 11 per cent, between them should be able to provide the essential human services we all rely upon: healthcare, education, infrastructure, defence and a social security system that assists people to become independent where it is feasible for them to do so.

And yet, Australians seem in recent years to have given up this hope. Many of us have accepted the blandishments of successive Federal and State governments that have somehow managed to convince us we’re better off paying our own health insurance, school fees and road tolls – and yet still hand over one-third of our national income in tax.


So let me introduce you to a fictional political party that does observe the maxim of serving the Australian people instead of serving itself.

You won’t find this party registered anywhere. You won’t find their policies among any of the parties who will form government after the election. That’s because those parties long ago stopped daring to hope that they can deliver the services Australians need.

Let’s call them the Australian Progress Party. Even though their election platform below is at present a hypothetical one, let’s dare to hope their vision forms a real part of Australia’s future.

Australian Progress believes in:

  • An Australia in which our taxes pay for healthcare and infrastructure, instead of subsidising companies that use our taxes to profit from the provision of essential human services.
  • An Australia in which the public education system enjoys the confidence and respect of the entire community, so that families don't feel the need to opt-out and exercise a Hobson's 'choice' to unnecessarily pay tens of thousands of dollars for a good education they can get for free.
  • An Australia that fosters strength through diversity. A strength built from harnessing the diverse talents, interests, ideas, cultures, skills and expertise of everybody in the community.
  • An Australia in which people look first to what their co-citizens can contribute to the society, instead of focusing on how their co-citizens worship, what they wear, what languages they speak or their ethnic background.
  • An Australia in which our leaders seek constructive solutions instead of reflexively looking for a victim group to blame for our problems.
  • An Australia that is excited to be engaged with the wider world, and especially our neighbours in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • An Australia in which people do not suffer disadvantages at law due to the composition of their family or their living arrangements.
  • An Australia that is economically prosperous, and which makes wise and sustainable use of our scarce resources.
  • An Australia in which everybody may freely practice their religion, or no religion, without imposing their spiritual beliefs on others.
  • An Australia in which every individual’s rights are protected, and in which every individual honours their responsibilities towards themselves and each other.
  • An Australia that faces the future with hope instead of suspicion and fear.

Because of our beliefs, Australian Progress commits itself to:

  • Progress in the development of public infrastructure that promotes Australia’s prosperity and enhances social amenity.
  • Progress in taxation policies that deliver enduring public goods and services to the taxpayer, instead of cash handouts to be spent on consumption.
  • Progress in the development of a truly inclusive public education system of which all Australians can feel proud, and to which all Australian families wish to send their children.
  • Progress in increasing Australia’s research capacity, scientific development and technical skills-base to build our industries on an environmentally sound basis.
  • Progress in pursuing mutually beneficial international trade relations with a focus given to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.
  • Progress in removing any remaining legislative, institutional or systemic impediments that would prevent people from participating in the full range of social and economic opportunities that are available to all Australians.
  • Progress in simplifying trading and taxation laws so that small businesses can better pursue their entrepreneurial interests.
  • Progress towards a safer environment for children, and a freer environment for adults in terms of their individual choices about what to buy or not to buy, and what to do or not to do.
  • Progress towards securing the rights of citizens against the coercive application of bureaucratic measures that curtail freedoms.

To honour these commitments, Australian Progress promises to:

At the Federal Level;

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About the Author

Mercurius Goldstein is Head Teacher at an International School and is retained as a consultant at The University of Sydney as a teacher educator for visiting English language teachers. He is a recipient of the 2007 Outstanding Graduate award from the Australian College of Educators, holding the Bachelor of Education (Hons.1st Class) from The University of Sydney. He teaches Japanese language and ESL. These views are his own.

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