Thursday, 7 October 2010

Our Prime Minister does not like travelling,

or so she has informed us. She would, apparently, rather be at home in Australia talking to school children.
I am sure she would. She is almost certainly one of those misguided people who believe it is easier to talk to children than it is to talk to adults. Wrong.
On the other hand there are undoubtedly many other people who think that "all that travel and meeting important people must be fun". Wrong again.
I had a cousin, now deceased, who travelled almost constantly. He saw very little of the real world. He knew what the inside of many hotel rooms looked like - or perhaps he saw the same one many times over? He saw the inside of many board and meeting rooms. He met many important people in the business-of-entertainment world and dined with them in restaurants. The dining part was about the only thing that differentiated one trip from another. On one occasion, desperate for meat like a good Aussie boy, he paid almost $100 for a dish which included a small square of beef in a Tokyo restaurant- more than twenty years ago. I would never have done that.
Meeting the important people was never much fun either. He never got to know them. They never got to know him. He was almost never invited to their homes and he almost never invited them when they came to Australia. It is the way of the business world. I do not think his life was much fun.
Politics would be even trickier - and there is always the knowledge that the person you are meeting might not hold that position after the next election, or coup or something worse, or that you might not be there yourself. The real work gets done behind the scenes and it is done by others, the negotiators. Perhaps that is why the Prime Minister would like to stay at home. Other people do the work.
I would like to do more travelling than I have done. I have done very little. Every other member of my family has done far more than I have. People assume I have done a great deal. "But you lived in London all that time!" they exclaim. Yes, I did. I was at university. I was writing a thesis. I was also tutoring to have enough money to eat. I was not there to play or travel. Even the African students on meagre government scholarships had more money and free time than I did. I just accepted it. I had to or I could not stay and that would really have been a waste of everything I had put into trying to prove I could do something.
But the travel is a different story. I would like to have had the courage and the ability to set off on one of those extended working holidays, a 'gap' year. I think all school students should be encouraged to have a 'gap' year, that they should not go on to further study without it. They need to see a bit of the world, particularly the world outside relatively safe and cosy Australia.
If our Prime Minister had done that then she might be happier about travelling abroad - and we might be happier with her as our representative on the world stage. It is not a good thing for a Prime Minister to dislike travelling. It is part of the job.


Sheep Rustler said...

She seems to be managing quite well so hopefully she will get better at it. I think she may not have travelled much when she was younger because, like you, she was busy studying and working to support herself, coming from a working class family at a time when they did not tend to encourage their children to travel a lot. And at least she had the guts to go to Afghanistan on the way, unlike the leader of the Opposition. Plus she has appointed an extremely experienced traveller as her Foreign Minister, who after all needs to do a lot of travelling.

I agree with the gap year thing. I was far too young to go to university straight after school and, consequently, wasted my time there, getting a poor degree and never gaining the maturity to make the most of the situation. We will be encouraging our daughter to take a gap year (next year is her last year at school), not necessarily to travel, though that would be good, but to spend it doing something, anything, that will add to her life skills.

Joanna St. James said...

I hope she learns fast, if you send troops and other workers out there it only makes sense to support them once in a while

catdownunder said...

Actually Sheep Rustler I have to disagree, especially with respect to the Afghanistan visit. The Leader of the Opposition has already been once. He had plans to go again before the PM issued the invitation - deliberately leaking his 'refusal' to go was a serious breach of security. (I could say more but, trust me please, this was just political point scoring on the PM's part.)

Anonymous said...

Sheep Rustler (love that!) I think you may have been misinformed. Mr Abbott has already been to Afghanistan once. He was planning to go again. To suggest that he does not have the guts to go is incorrect. I suggest that Ms Gillard quite deliberately issued an invitation knowing that it would be impossible for him to take it up - his timing was quite different from hers. He would not have had the luxury of eight hours sleep and would have been late for something else which had already been arranged. It was a quite deliberate breach of security which indicates that she is either extremely naive or very badly advised. Mr Abbott is sufficiently security conscious to realise that he should not mention a trip to Afghanistan without first clearing it with certain personnel and was put in a position where he had to come up with an 'excuse' rather than tell the truth - that he was planning a trip at a different time.
The whole incident was designed to make Gillard look good and Abbott look gutless. The reality is the other way around. Chris (once from Foreign Affairs)

Donna Hosie said...

I'm pretty disgusted with the way Gillard is trying to score points from Abbott by using Afghanistan. I also think her language is a way to get at Rudd as well.

Sheep Rustler said...

Craven apologies from a much told-off Sheeprustler :)

catdownunder said...

You are perfectly entitled to your cat hairs on my pages Sheep Rustler! You were not defamatory or offensive. If Chris says you are mistaken though I would be inclined to listen - his experience in the field is immense!
Donna, I suspect you are right - especially as she must feel the need to keep Rudd firmly in the place she has chosen for him.