- The Australian
- 12:00AM July 21, 2018
Wednesday, July 25, 2018
I Think There Is A Deep Underlying Reason Why Opt-Out Might Find Itself Struggling.
I don’t often bring Paul Kelly – Editor-at-Large of The Australian – onto these pages but his effort on Saturday last week struck a chord with me.
The West lives through an era where democracy is under serious threat from within given the two great democracies — Britain and the US — are sunk in existential trauma over separation from Europe and the Trump phenomenon respectively.
It is folly to think Australia is immune from the democratic malaise. Our problems and our symptoms are different, yet serious. But our mood of dispirited indifference is far distant from the existential crisis that torments the two nations Australia used as models when writing its constitution in the 1890s.
The two specific triggers for the British and US traumas are mismanagement of globalisation and immigration, areas where Australia has largely avoided the same mistakes. From the 1980s onwards Australia’s embrace of economic liberalism was tied to social-democratic distribution of the benefits. Our immigration policy has been tied to strong border protection and government control of entry in the national economic interest. Our results are not ideal — but far distant from the virulent political revolts that triggered Brexit and drove US President Donald Trump’s election.
The experiences of the Britain and US reveal two overarching messages — once your politics is derailed then your country can lose its direction and even its sense of destiny; and the deeper lesson is that the fusion of economic and cultural dislocation is the indispensable grassroots force that feeds into and then drives political derailment.
While Brexit and the Trumpian eruption are different events they mirror a common failure — the inability of the ruling elites in Britain and America in politics, finance and business to service the economic needs of the entire community, respond to legitimate public grievance and honour traditional as well as progressive cultural values.
The political revolutions in Britain and US will shift the anchor of these nations with unpredictable consequences.
---- Huge Amount Omitted
University of Sydney professor James Curran, a delegate to the Australia-UK Leadership Forum, tells Inquirer: “The key for Australia is to hold its nerve. Trump has no regard or respect for the post-Cold War liberal international order and sees it as a charity project that the US should no longer have to pay for.
“The dysfunction of the Oval Office is real and disturbing. The damage this president is doing to domestic US support for the system that has worked for us is potentially deep — but it is not terminal.
“Australia should eschew panic for patience and look to maximum co-operation with regional partners as a means of demonstrating its enduring commitment to the rules that have underpinned relative peace and prosperity over the past three decades.”
In this context Britain needs a Brexit that strengthens, not weakens, its global role — and that won’t be easy.
Martin Parkinson, head of the Prime Minister’s Department under Turnbull, said in London this week that current events mean “there is a renewed imperative for Australia and the United Kingdom to prioritise working together” bilaterally and globally.
The truth is that Australia is a stand-alone nation.
It will never be a state of the US; it will never join the EU; it will never belong to some regional group that shares sovereignty.
It can only seek to leverage its power, support a rules-based international system and deepen its ties with its neighbours. This is more essential than ever, given the rise of an assertive China.
Parkinson warns that the contemporary challenge is twofold — from huge shifts in geopolitics, and a growing malaise within democratic systems.
He argues liberal internationalism is now more threatened by developments “within the West itself” — witness the British and US traumas.
And Australia cannot escape.
“Despite our impressive economic performance the political discourse in Australia echoes that in North America and Europe,” Parkinson says.
“There’s an underlying anxiety in our populace about what the future will bring and a dissatisfaction with the results of our longstanding social compact.
“This shows up in the fragmentation of our politics, the embrace of the outsider and the rejection of ‘supposed expertise’.
“This cannot be divorced from the ongoing erosion of public trust in traditional institutions.”
Parkinson argues that mistrust is tied to worries about government competence.
While governments, in Australia and elsewhere, work hard at improved policy, “incremental improvement may not be enough.”
Herein lies a confronting choice for governments and political leaders: do they need to be bolder?
The proper response to the world of Trump and Brexit is a range of attitudes: patience yet boldness, keeping one’s nerve yet realising a crisis demands decisive action.
The omitted parts are here with the rest of the article:
The highlighted paragraphs get it nicely – we are in a period of eroding trust in government direction and competence and, in that environment a sneaky and trustless move – like the shift to myHR opt-out - was always going to struggle as we have now observed.
This move is a bad idea at the wrong time. A better idea would be to shut the thing down and use the funds freed up on more urgent and persuasive Digital Health initiatives.
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, July 25, 2018