Lucky streaks don't last forever
In response to Patrick Croke's letter in edition 486, I'd like to say that, whenever I speak, I always first remind audience members how lucky they are to live in such a fine country, with so many assets and so many virtues, so my view of Australia is not predominantly pessimistic.
For a start, Australia ranks second in the world for median wealth per capita, so that any complaints about our economic performance have to be measured against that global performance.
Admittedly, under the present government, we have slipped to sixth place on the Global Human Development index and to 12th place on both the Global Personal Safety index and Global Anti-Corruption index, but these are still respectable numbers, and it has to be remembered that the margins between rankings are very small at the top of these tables, so slight indicators can move a country a place or two.
However, this does not mean that we can take a Panglossian view of our situation or of our future, because there are many areas in which we could and should be doing better.
It is a disgrace that the second-wealthiest country in the world has such a poor standard of aged care and handicapped care, and that our transportation infrastructure struggles to meet our expectations.
It is equally disgraceful that we are slipping down the international competitive ladder in education standards, when huge amounts of education funds are being squandered on fripperies for schools that are already the best-endowed in the country.
We, also, have an unemployment rate higher than that of other developed counties and an underemployment rate which is at crisis level and is not going to be solved by tax cuts to multinational companies and the top one per cent of incomes.
To paraphrase Donald Horne slightly, we live in a first-rate country run by second-rate people.
We live in a country that has no national population policy, no national climate policy, no national energy policy, no national environmental policy and barely the fig leaf of a national security policy, because our politicians are too pusillanimous to make us face up to reality.
In a rapidly shifting global context, we are in a policy drift, with no clear-cut priorities and no perceivable long-term goals for most of our actions.
"She'll be right, mate" might have served us well enough in the past, but lucky streaks don't last forever, so we shouldn't exaggerate our virtues or ignore our faults, if we want our grandchildren to enjoy the full benefits of the great opportunities Australia has to offer.
Email, 27 Jan 2020
Bruce Hyland, Woy Woy