Leadership, the importance of the pragmatic centre, and the PFL
September 15, 2015 1 Comment
I don’t normally talk about non-Freo issues on this blog but the premature end of the Prime-ministership of Tony Abbott had me reflecting on the overall state of political leadership in Australia today.
I concluded that at the heart of Abbott’s failure was his ideological over-reach and a failure to govern from a sensible, pragmatic, outcomes-focused position.
From the rejection of a market based mechanism to deal with greenhouse gas emissions; to bizarre attacks on the ABC and windfarms; to funding ONLY roads NOT public transport; to the Prince Philip knighthood saga and “coal is good for humanity” – it was a leadership that let ideology overtake good, collegiate, outcome-based decision making. Abbott was frustratingly a leader that let partisan political positions undermine what should be a more evidence-based, statesman-like approach to government.
If there is a lesson to be drawn it that it is only governing from an innovative but pragmatic, centrist position (importantly backed up by strong communication that assumes the electorate is intelligent) that a leader can bring the broader population with them as they drive major change.
Instead over the last few years it feels like every major debate in this country was the ideological equivalent of barracking for a football team – a one-eyed attack and defend focus without the desire or ability to seek out innovative win/win outcomes or see any merits in the opposite sides approach.
It was a both bizarre and depressing period and I really hope that this low period in Australian politics has finally come to an end and a period of sensible, more centrist debate can find a new prominence.
Coming back to Freo – I hope the change of leadership means the expensive and damaging Perth Freight Link can be revisited and the federal funds put into transport projects that Perth really needs from light rail to the outer harbour. Turnbull’s track record on cities and transport is pretty good so here’s hoping change is not too late.