As prime ministers tend. He looks like he wears the job heavily, though he insists that he loves. Those close to him observe that he feels the weight of the entire governments fortunes upon him. He doesnt get enough sleep. Here is the first remarkable, yet almost completely unremarked upon, thing about our prime minister: despite these pressures, you never hear about bad Malcolm anymore. The malcolm Turnbull who exploded at people and brought to bear his sharp intellect, sharp tongue and limited store of patience on someone felt to be of inferior intellect or capacity and there were lots of them is a figure of the past. Yes, we have seen what seems almost a caricature of angry malcolm in recent months, unleashed against Bill Shorten.
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It offers a forum for original long-form investigations, profiles and arguments. Awarding-winning essays include political Animal and Power Trip by david Marr, That Sinking feeling by paul toohey and Stop at Nothing by Annabel Crabb. Authors include tim Flannery, don Watson, robyn davidson, germaine Greer, robert Manne, george megalogenis, laura tingle, anna Krien, waleed Aly, inga Clendinnen, david Malouf and noel pearson. For existing Print and Digital subscribers, login with your Schwartz media account. Subscription details, get full access to the quarterly Essay app by subscribing via itunes. 12 month subscription for.99, automatically renewed until cancelled. Automatic renewal, your subscription automatically renews unless auto-renew is learn turned off at least 24-hours before the end of essay the current period. Your itunes account will automatically be charged at the same price for renewal within 24-hours of the end of the current period (another year for annual subscribers, another month for monthly subscribers) unless you change your subscription preferences in your account settings. You can manage your subscriptions through your Account Settings after purchase. No cancellation of the current subscription is allowed during the active subscription period. He has aged ten years in less than two.
We talk endlessly of how they let us down, of how hopeless they are. I think this is only partly born of the fact that they may actually be hopeless. It is also and diary this is much less discussed born of the fact that we dont really know what we expect of them, or of government, in the first place. A friend of mine calls Australian politics aorta politics: as in, They oughta do something about it, even if what they oughta do is not clearly defined. I will explore australians expectations and experience of government, and community and the state, and how they have changed over time. That is, what Australians expect the commonweal to provide for us, what we have come to believe we are entitled to, how this has translated into our political debate and how it has influenced politics in the past and the present. Quarterly Essay is an agenda-setting Australian journal of politics and culture. Each issue contains a single essay written at a length of about 25,000 words, followed by correspondence on previous essays. Established in 2001, quarterly Essay aims to present the widest range of political, intellectual and cultural opinion and to foster debate.
But I want to explore something wider. This is not an essay that seeks to make grand claims about the australian character or the australian psyche. Neither is it another treatise pointing out the stunningly benign relativities of Australias economic position and social harmony and that, as a result, we really dont have anything to complain about. Rather I make the argument that as a nation, a polity, we have not sat down and worked out what exactly we expect the government by which I mean its administrative side, as well as the politicians of the day to be and. We business havent settled the idea of what we think we are entitled to get from government. The only things we seem to have been sure about over the years are that government has not met our great expectations that it will look after us, and that we are nonetheless entitled to be looked after. Politicians may be the conduits who try to persuade us from time to time that they can make government work better.
Herald s correspondent, who called himself simply a settler, pointed out that such harshness was in fact a characteristic of all new societies: people come here to better their condition, many with limited means, their tempers a little soured with privations and disappointed expectations (for. Every man does not know his own position so well as at home. australias politics and our public discourse have become noticeably angrier since that cold Roman night in October 2009. Shouty, some people call. And yes, the social media seem to amplify it and make it uglier. People think they can say just about anything to anyone in the semi-anonymous world of the Twitterverse. In popular culture, some of the recent confected outrage may well have been imported as a package and a formula from elsewhere, notably the United States. In the political realm, we are underwhelmed by our politicians, by our institutions and by the quality of services that government provides.
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Someone, it seems, is always in the process of letting us down or telling us a lie. No one in politics is allowed to change their mind, or even adapt to new circumstances, anymore. In the day-to-day political discourse, this is put down purely to bad politics, badly conducted. But are we also getting angrier as a society? When I went back to vanstone in late 2011 and asked her why australians are so angry, she replied that it is because they have expectations that have not been met and a belief in entitlements they are due. The more i thought on it, the more it seemed that so much of our culture, so many of our public discussions, contain some suspicion or assertion that we might be being ripped off, that someone else might be getting preferment. The belief that we are entitled to a lifestyle that we think everyone else may be enjoying seems to simmer not far beneath the surface.
A most conspicuous example of this is the way the debate about asylum seekers plays out: the swirling myths that people who arrive by boat are handed a goodie bag of entitlements as they step ashore. The simmering suspicion is not a new phenomenon. But maybe it is a defining one that we are yet to acknowledge in ourselves. Convict Society and Its resume Enemies, the historian John Hirst documents what he rightly says is perhaps in all our writings an un-bettered account of this aspect of Australian society. In 1839, during a heated debate on the future of convict transportation and self-government, a correspondent for the. Sydney herald wrote about the harshness of the relationships within the small but growing community.
Italian drivers looked for their opportunities. Everyone expected no less of everyone else. But they didnt deliberately speed up to cut you off as people do in Australia. Yes, but you see ive always thought Australians had an inbuilt angry streak, vanstone observed. All the clichés about Australia go to our easygoing natures.
Happy-go-lucky, no worries, shell be right. It had never occurred to me to think of Australians as an angry people. We might be moaners and whingers, but angry? We think of the mediterranean cultures as hot-blooded and hot-tempered, yet here we were in the centre of one of the oldest civilisations in the world, discussing how people on an everyday level got on with each other, manoeuvred around each other, so that everybody. We had just come out of a decade in which the countrys political leader said he wanted us all to be comfortable and relaxed, and, later, alert but not alarmed. Yet Vanstones comment stayed with me, perhaps because i was so regularly reminded of it even in the relatively sedate traffic of Canberra: so many people stubbornly refusing to give way when they could. Why should they let someone else get ahead? Australians might not like to yell and confront each other, we might not gesticulate colourfully, but we find other ways to assert ourselves. This, of course, was before tony Abbotts rise to the leadership of the liberal Party, and before the june 2010 coup that toppled Rudd and injected a new level of anger into our political discourse.
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She did them without complaint, secretly relishing the times when she could get some policy shift past her boss. She always had a sharp and quirky eye for the workings of human nature. Now she was our representative in a country whose volatile and chaotic modern-day politics leave many australians both perplexed and smug. In response to an email asking if she could fit in a cup of tea, amanda had extended a kind invitation to join her and her husband, tony, for dinner. We talked of things Italian and Australian as the vanstones gender dog, gus, lolloped about, refusing to live up to his reputation for biting guests. The vanstones brought to the conversation both the detached clarity and intense interest of those who are living far from home. We pondered the prospects of Malcolm Turnbull perhaps the last hope of the small-l liberals and we spoke of the much-maligned traffic after our hair-raising taxi ride across the city. To our surprise, we found ourselves agreeing that despite their reputation, Italian drivers were not as aggressive as those in Australia.
Now it was Saturday night in a chilly and wet Rome. Normally, we walked or caught buses around Rome, but our destination on this night one of Romes more distant hills saw us competing for a taxi among the crowds at the end of piazza navona. Abruptly we were seeing Rome as many tourists only see it: in terms of its hustling, excitable traffic. Toscas fingers dug into my arm as we weaved wildly through cars that were all defining their own laneways through the wet streets. Amanda vanstone former senator, former Howard government cabinet minister was the australian ambassador to Italy. I had known Vanstone when she was in Canberra and liked her. We werent particularly close. She wasnt a great fizz, as journalists like to describe good sources, but I had always marvelled at her capacity to survive the howard era as one of the few Liberal will wets. He moved her in and out of cabinet, into all sorts of testing jobs.
standing in the heat of an Indian summer, smiling in her little girls cotton shift, in front of the pantheon. At home, in the political world, the temperature had also suddenly changed. In fact, climate change itself meant that the beginning of the end of Malcolm Turnbulls leadership of the liberal Party was looming, although not yet in sight. In a couple of months, the copenhagen climate change conference would destroy kevin Rudds remaining hold on the climate debate and ultimately help to destroy his leadership of the labor Party. Tosca and I had escaped all this, leaving father and husband behind for an excellent girls adventure in Italy. There had been hot, bright days in the countryside and among the ruins and Umbrella pines.
And, tingle asks, even if a leader surfs the wave of anger all the way to power, what answer can be given to our great expectations? It is wrong to see the anger of the last few years as a 'one-off which might go away at the next election. The things we are angry about betray the changes that have been taking place over recent decades. Politicians no longer control interest rates, the exchange rate, or wages, prices or industries that were once protected or even owned by government. Voters are confused about what politicians can do for them in such a world. Quarterly essay 46, great Expectations, government, Entitlement and an Angry nation. Laura tingle, contents, great Expectations: government, Entitlement and an Angry nation. Laura tingle, correspondence, sophie cunningham, geoff Russell, thomas ryan. Coman, mike letnic, stephen Romei, james woodford.
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Rather than relaxed and comfortable, australians are disenchanted with politics and politicians. In quarterly Essay 46 laura tingle shows that the answer goes to something deep in Australian culture: our great expectations of fuller government. Since the deregulation era of the 1980s, tingle shows, governments can do less, but we wish they could do more. From Hawke to gillard, each prime minister has grappled with this dilemma. Keating sought to change expectations, howard to feed a culture of entitlement, rudd to reconceive the federation. Through all of this, and back to our origins, runs an almost childlike sense of the government as saviour and provider that has remained constant even as the world has changed. Now we are an angry nation, and the Age of Entitlement is coming to an end. What will a different politics look like?