Vision doesn't have a chance

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Given he lived from 1809 to 1865, it’s somewhat hard to believe that the name Abraham Lincoln is still as well known today as at any time in world history.


The recent film starring Daniel Day-Lewis has helped raise his profile again, though in reality, it didn’t need raising and for many, was just a refresher on a visionary politician.

Whether it be his famous Gettysburg address, or his work to abolish slavery, Lincoln is remembered as an important part of American and world history.

It’s now 2013, and I wonder, when we fast forward 165 years, how our current crop of politicians will be remembered?

My guess is that only the Wikipedia of the day will provide a clue as to who Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott were.

As for the rest of those currently sitting in Federal Parliament, there’s a chance Craig Emerson’s ‘Whyalla Wipeout’ will still be getting a run at the odd ALP Christmas party, but I doubt anyone else will get a mention.

I’ve written before about the lack of long-term vision in modern day politics, but I think it’s hard to lay the blame totally on the Prime Minister, the Opposition Leader or those sitting in Parliament.

Yes, they hold some responsibility for the lack of Lincoln-like politicians, but so do we in the media and the public.

There can be no better example than last week’s story about Michelle Rowland, the Labor MP who requested a ‘pair’ so she could leave Parliament and tend to her sick child.

A ‘pair’ is a gentlemen’s agreement of sorts between parties in which a politician agrees to refrain from voting to even the numbers when an opponent can’t attend Parliament.

The Coalition originally denied the pair, sparking a controversy.

What ensued was a circus and yes, I have a scatter gun in my hand and plan to blame everybody in sight.

Labor almost certainly leaked this story to the media – an example of how federal politics has descended into kindergarten-style finger pointing.

The Coalition fumbled and bumbled their way through the whole saga – media management and face-saving at its absolute worst.

The media jumped on board a story they should have ignored to prove a focus on real issues was needed.

And we, the public, took to social media and talkback radio as if the world of working mothers was collapsing.

Seriously, we need to have a good look at ourselves when this story can dominate the day’s political news cycle.

The fact that the Prime Minister came out and said the situation made “an absolute mockery of everything the Opposition Leader has ever said about working women’’ was in itself adding to the circus. Sad, really.

Just as sad as the media’s obsession with Julia Gillard crying in Parliament last Wednesday, rather than actually informing the public better on the important legislation she was introducing at the time.

Or as sad as the social media boffins screaming outrage at a photo that showed a lack of Coalition politicians in Parliament at the time.

Again, more discussion on that than the legislation itself.

Last Wednesday night, the 6pm news on Channel Nine seemed obsessed with telling us that Wayne Swan and Tony Abbott both appeared on the ‘Today’ show to talk about the Budget. What they talked about, we don’t know, but we know they talked about it.

And apparently, one of the most important things of post-Budget day, was that Mr Abbott offered Mr Swan a spot next to his heater on the cold lawns of Parliament House.

You see, when the media lives in a 24 hour news environment that requires fresh stories online, new pieces for the hourly news bulletins and Twitter updates at pace, the smallest, most irrelevant detail, becomes a story.

And the Pollies themselves are happy to play it up for all it’s worth.

After all, it’s far easier to deal with questions on Michelle Rowland’s baby than it is on the rollout of the NDIS, the NBN or roads infrastructure.

For as long as the media, the public and the Pollies themselves focus on fluff and nonsense, ‘vision’ won’t ever get a chance to see the light of day.

In the meantime, a giant wooden horse filled with the important issues is sitting idle, waiting for somebody to notice it.
One day, you never know what might come out and surprise everyone.


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