On Friday I had the pleasure of attending the CEDA (Committee for Economic Development Australia) forum on public policy in Australia with an impressive cast of speakers from Bob Hawke and John Hewson to John Langoulant and new Murdoch Professor Ben Reilly.

At the heart of the forum was a reflection on how it was increasingly difficult for governments of all levels and persuasions to make the hard, long-term public policy decisions without them being dumbed-down by the petty politics of the day? To put it simply there is a strong sense that “populism is trumping good policy”

Bob Hawke at 83 was still as sharp as a tack and strongly argued that successful leadership was about dialogue and finding common space around shared values. A real dialogue must acknowledge all parties have legitimate ambitions of which parts are shared between all. We need to build consensus between business, academia, unions, the community and the parliament and that takes patient painstaking communication and collaboration.

Bob Hawke also said that “In my judgment there is not one outstanding political leader in any democracy in the world today,” for the first time since the second world war. He believe that the media and it’s intrusiveness into people’s private lives is a key reason for this and is making the best and brightest not want to put their hands up for a political life

Dr Hewson lamented that politics had become “a short term game” in Australia. John Hewson said the failure to adequately act on climate change was one of the biggest public policy failures of recent time. He powerfully argued for stronger action on climate change that matched the science and lamented the lost constituency for substantive action – only if more liberals were willing to say this out loud.

It was inspiring to see these former leaders still with a fire in their belly. It just made me lament all the more the lack of long-term vision and the tediously trivial debates and policies we are enduring in this election campaign. Now where is that make-up artist?

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Imagine from Australian Newspaper

About Mayor of Fremantle Brad Pettitt's blog
City of Fremantle Mayor


  1. I was a make-up artist before Uni! Will Estee Lauder do?? :p

  2. Rebecca says:

    Very insigtful blog. I agree with the point of the media imposition on politics, but then again it is a double edged sword. People deserve to know who is responsible for forming policies that will affect some of the most intimate aspects of their lives. Is media responsible for shaping popular opinin or is it political party affiliations that cloud honest media?
    My question is what constitutes good policy? Economic development? Environmental sustainability? Comon sense? How can the community engage in communication and collaboration when leaders do not create adequate spaces for engagement?

    • Kel Smith says:

      Totally agree Rebecca.

      I attended the Businesses Leaders Forum lunch at the Esplanade Hotel last thursday.

      Mayor Brad Pettit addressed the business people present for well over an hour.

      While I have to admit I did hear some possitive points about the Future of Fremantle I feel the following points need to be made:

      Most present were either Council officers,Councillors,Developers,Architects,and Chamber of Commerce members

      Not a bad thing but not any of the struggling small businesses in Fremantle were present that I noticed. This meeting was for the Bigger end of town.

      Brad addressed the 1210 to 1215 Strategic Plan and self assessed his views on how it was progressing from “A” plusses to “B” plusses and “C”s and his projection to 2015

      Suffice to report that he gave himself and Council a very good mark.

      Much of Brads presentation centered on the Major Developers` and how and when they will be progressing on developments in Fremantle.

      The concerning issue is the close links between Developers and the City of Fremantle when the City is selling off our assets to Developers including our existing buildings and carparks.

      The carpark at the corner of Bannister and Packenham Street is one such issue not to mention the large one over the road from Queensgate near the pine warehouse.Yes they call it the Old Spicers site but not many people identify with that name and are are concerned when explained it is to be closed down for a huge development

      There was no mention of the $50million FCC maintenance Bill.
      There was no mention of the State of disrepair of our existing Heritage Buildings,Footy Grandstand,Warders Cottages,Police Station etc etc.and what Council intends to do about it.

      There was no mention of the old Sinagogue Development on the corner of South Terrace and Norfolk St and the reasons why it has taken 10 years to progress to it`s present form and stalled again.

      Stan Reiley Centre was touched on but only a remark that “nothing has been planned” and it may end up a CARPARK.

      This is all the news we could get on this old Seniors home that was closed down 10 years ago and the residents turfed out. It had maintenance problems was FCC`s reasons then.

      Just a few observations. Brad we need to concentrate on Old Fremantle too.

      Thanks Brad
      Kel Smith

    • Kel Smith says:

      Hi rebecca, I left a reply on 26th Aug but Brad only wants pats on the back on his blog so I understand why he has refused to allow my constructive viewpoints on this issue.
      Kel Smith

  3. Colin Nichol says:

    I wonder where ‘time’ fits into the discussion. It’s a whirlwind world.

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