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Australia's Political Leadership Crisis

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Australia's Political Leadership Crisis

From a pure leadership point of view, Australia has lost its way. This is not a political comment but an observation of the state of our nation’s ‘leadership’ in recent history. The minds in charge have led exclusively as politicians, not as leaders. Yet, now more than ever, Australia needs leaders incredibly more than she needs politicians.

Since Kevin Rudd was elected in 2007, Australia has had 9 changes in Prime Minister, but we have only had 5 elections. Before this, there were 4 Prime Ministers elected from a total of 13 elections across a period of 32 years. Much of the changes since 2007 have been a result of infighting within parties and not the choice of the country.

Why? One of the underlying reasons is the erosion of the vote for the two major political parties. What was once a simple choice, now has become a very complicated one. Governments have struggled to form with absolute majorities which has resulted in a compromise in values. This erodes power and integrity and creates uncertainty whenever the strength of the leadership is tested. The national vote has splintered. In the name of inclusion, tolerance and free speech, Australia is evolving as a very diverse country which creates more choice (and perhaps more room for confusion and conflict) when it comes time to vote.

The fair inclusion and attention afforded to many of our minority entities has fuelled more demand for change in our social and community values. However, it has done so to the extent in which the strength of our country’s leaders and the overall clarity of our nation’s identity has been challenged and compromised. It's become a never-ending cycle and we are constantly chasing our own tail as a country; evidence to the 9 changes in Prime Minister over the past 13 years.

At present, our third largest political party is at war. The Nationals are split down the middle and their popularity as a party has plummeted over recent years. The public obviously struggle to recognise what they stand for. Clearly, they are having the same problem internally. No doubt there will be another major political leadership change forthcoming.

If we examine one of our major sporting codes, there are some very good examples and lessons for our political parties and their leaders. The AFL are to be admired for their evolution over the last 30 years. They lead the way with the Anzac Day match, Dreamtime at the G (which is still proceeded by the National Anthem), launched the first televised Women’s league and have embraced social and cultural diversity into their code. Their balance sheet is extremely strong and growing, there has been expansion into every state, and they still play their Grand Final at 2.00pm on Saturday afternoon. The core values and vision of the code not only seem intact but are continuing to grow stronger. This makes its easier to lead, but more importantly, provides a clear authenticity for the code’s entire community to back.

Now, I’m certain that not every AFL club and its members are in agreement with their governing body all the time. But, there seems to be a level of unified understanding of the vision of the leadership and its future. And, here in lies the problem for our political leaders. They are paralysed with fear because they have lost focus of Australia’s fundamental beliefs, vision, and identity. Their short-term power has been eroded because of the previous years of yielding values. When our political leaders can’t clearly articulate what they believe – how do they expect anyone to believe in them.

- Anthony

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