Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Our Prime Minister is at the

centre of a diplomatic row at the G20 summit in Mexico. She has presumed to lecture the rest of the world on how to overcome the economic problems which beset.
I feel acutely embarrassed by this for a number of reasons - not least because we have some serious economic problems of our own which have been made worse by the policies of our present government. They are about to be made worse still and the damage could be very long lasting.
However it is not just that. It is the idea of any small country, and we are small in population terms, presuming to lecture much larger ones about how to manage their affairs. Our Prime Minister has no idea of the complexity of running a country like the United States, France, Germany, the UK, Mexico, China, India or Indonesia.  I am sure she thinks she understands but I am equally sure she does not.
Julia Gillard said her speech was "not intended to be a lecture" but it clearly was. She was also lecturing to two audiences.
One of those was the other members of the G20. The other was her domestic audience.  Her government is not popular. It has never been popular. As a minority government it has always been seen as lacking a certain legitimacy. The speech was designed to tell us, as much as the international community, how well Australia is doing.
The reality is that we are not, at this very moment, doing badly. The reality is that we could be doing much, much better. The reality is that we are not, despite claims to the contrary, preparing for the future.  We are, a bit like oil producers, depending far too much on the income from mining. Without that income and without one country in particular buying a great deal of the mining from us we would be in a parlous state.
Instead of using that income wisely and investing in education, in smart technology, in developing our own food and energy supplies, we are squandering it on politically motivated "environment protection" schemes. We are trying to buy a seat on the UN Security Council as if we are a big player in world affairs. At the same time we allow ourselves to be dictated to by the US, by China, by Indonesia because we are heavily dependent on good relations with them. Balancing their diverse (and often contrary) demands is getting more difficult.
We are endeavouring to lecture the rest of the world when we are failing ourselves.
There will be people who read this and say, "Don't be ridiculous. What do you know? You are a pessimist. Our government is doing a great job. We are in a good financial state. We have a great future."
I hope they are right and I am wrong...but even if they are we still failing ourselves.


Anonymous said...


I share the embarrassment!

Judy B

widdershins said...

This country too, is suffering because of its leaders. Different from OZ and an ineffectual government. Up until the last federal election only being a minority government kept the emperor Harper leashed. But now he's opened the floodgates for big oil to do whatever they like wherever they like.
I have hope that ordinary Canadians, the majority of whom didn't vote for him (we have voluntary voting and a first-past-the-post electoral system) will take action and be able to reverse some of the damage, but its only a little bit of hope.
It seems that one must have a madness about one to be a politician these days.

JO said...

David Cameron is equally arrogant - we chose not to join the Euro (in the UK), but he still thinks he has the right to tell the rest of Europe how to run things.

catdownunder said...

Yes, Judy - and she still had not managed to keep quiet this morning!
Widdershins we do not hear a lot about Harper here - I suppose some would be cynical enough to say that Canadians got the government they deserved (or failed to vote for)?
Jo I think part of the problem is that although the UK did not join the Euro they are, more than most countries, impacted by what happens to the Euro because of the EC. Personally I am far more worried about Angela Merkel - her comments about "step by step to political union" (presumably with Germany in charge) terrify me.