It’s time

As sincere unctuous voice-over men urge us to buy various pieces of tat and bling for our loved ones, it seems propitious to ask…‘What does Christmas mean’?

Here’s what I’d like to hear our leader say…

My fellow Australians… to many, Christmas is a religious celebration, to others it’s a welcome holiday from the rat race. To me, it represents a new beginning as new directions are borne and informed by the best of our experience and knowledge.

I’d like to deal with several inter-connected points:

• How governments can actively help Australia and Australians,
• how we can improve our economic situation and reinvest in our people and;
• how we can deal with climate change.

It is by recognising the connections between issues that we can connect together to create a better future for us all.

How we can actively help Australia

Any reading of the news indicates that the institutions that most need new ideas, new directions and improved performance are the various levels of government in Australia. It is they that control the purse strings, that forcibly shape our communities and that structure our essential services. It is their policies that have shaped today’s Australia – both what is right and what is wrong.

I believe that there is too much that is wrong – too much waste – too much interference – too little service. The balance has tipped the wrong way.

We must remove the yoke of tedious regulation that saps our energy and our spirits. Our governments must provide helpful and useful services that the public value instead of using the nation’s energy filling out forms under threat of penalties.  Instead, we need to stimulate our peoples to release the skills, potential and enterprise of young and mature Australians alike. We must reawaken a spirit of cooperation and achievement between communities to carry us forward and beyond the challenges that face us all. 

In this country of representative government, I believe that your governments, whether federal, state or local, must represent and stand up for the needs of all Australians equally. This means balancing policies and actions to meet as many interests as possible.

We do not need to choose between one group or another, between big and small, between corporates and individuals, or between our environment and jobs. Australia is big and diverse enough to cater to all legitimate needs. What is required is creativity, balance and cooperation to replace argument, bias and division.

By assessing our opportunities and threats independently and involving all of those impacted by decisions, we can open our decision processes and make them both transparent and fair. With complete information and a fair go for all, we are better equipped to face the challenges of the 21st century knowing that we can stand together with actions that support us all.

Money

Our taxpayers have shouldered a heavy burden, paying over $400 billion in taxes, charges and costs each year in an economy of around $900 bn. In exchange for money earned by taxpayers sweat and toil, governments have too often only offered hurdles and constraints. It is past time for government to both get out of the way of Australian taxpayers and businesses, and to create systems to support our diverse population and propel our country into the 21st century as a genuine competitive force.

I believe that it is possible to halve the costs of government, offering Australians a substantial reduction in overall taxation that will contribute to their wealth as well as create new investments.
I also believe that politicians should experience the same services as the public – use the public health system, use public transport and have similar salary levels. Only then can they understand the pressures of the systems that they themselves create. And they will have real motivation to improve systems for us all because they use those same systems.

No longer will Ministers give excuses for failure and poor service. Instead of telling Australians that they must wait in pain for years for medical services, our Ministers must find ways to solve problems, expand services and deliver a quality experience for our taxpayers.

I am declaring outright war on government waste to remove up to $100 billion from our annual costs and thereby contribute over 10% to our overall economy. I will no longer tolerate millions of dollars wasted on futile initiatives, failed projects and ruined water catchments. Australians can not afford to pay for failed policies, then pay for the consequences and then pay again to correct the problems. Our taxpayers deserve better and I expect everyone in government to deliver superior service to taxpayers and to treat citizens with courtesy and respect.

In addition I want our governments to offer real services to our peoples to replace the constant form filling, penalties and legalistic requirements that are placing a $90 billion compliance burden on our businesses each and every year.

The real world demands expertise and approaches based on knowledge and practical experience. To that end I now commit to all projects being independently evaluated by suitable experts in their field and for their reports to be made public in full before decisions are reached.

Allow me to give an example.

Climate change can be cast as a cost and threat which is how our governments and others would have it. Instead, I believe we should see climate change as an opportunity – to invigorate our industries and communities and to reduce their costs by reducing waste and emissions.

For example when generating power, instead of pumping out waste heat, we can follow the UK example and use that heat for other purposes including creating more power. We can cut household expenses with superior dwelling design and the creation of appliances and technologies that last a lifetime instead of creating expensive waste for our landfill sites. We can cut fuel use and transport costs by building our ability to supply our needs locally.

If our industries develop the technologies to significantly curtail emissions, their products will be in demand around the world. I do not want to penalise Australians with a new carbon tax because there is no guarantee that such a strategy will enable us to reduce emissions. Instead we need to provide real incentives to industry to create new technologies, new products and new services that are relevant to a world in which resources are under pressure from our own population growth.

We need to energise our people not create new taxes and even bigger government.

It is not enough to argue that Australia shouldn’t act to reduce it’s emissions until the rest of the world agrees. That is not leadership - it is a deferral of opportunity and a stunted approach to a new future.

Why cannot we take the lead? We can work together with our climate scientists and other experts to create ways to cut emissions. We must learn that the ‘costs’ are also ‘investments’ in a better future.

Of course, reducing our emissions would mean changing our lifestyles. But how is that so bad? We are becoming a nation of couch potatoes that are reliant on television and a massive medical system to sustain our junk food habits.

Instead we could rediscover the joy of being healthy, the taste of delicious natural foods, the smells of fresh air and the whisper of winds in the forests. We can return to a lifestyle which is within both our, and the planet’s, means while taking advantages of technological know how to improve our lives.

Many of our laws were written over a century ago, and have been modified so often that we now face hundreds of thousands of pages of regulations, making it impossible for citizens to understand and uncompetitive for businesses to operate. Too often, government policies have driven our best people and businesses offshore until it is almost impossible to buy Australian products.

This must change and we must change it. The only way to do this is cooperatively. We need to create a nation where we all can win, where no-one is left behind, where we care about each other.

How can we reverse our negative balance of payments and cut our burgeoning national debt unless we can cater to our own needs?

Our farmers are crying for help, even as our governments over allocate catchment waters and provide taxpayer incentives to convert food farms to tree farms. We need to re-evaluate our priorities to assure that our farmers can grow enough food for our needs, no matter the weather. We need to support rural communities and assure that they have access to the expertise and facilities that they need to make a go of it.

Australians have the capacity to achieve tremendous things, but we need them to achieve them for Australia instead of having to depart for other countries, or working for multinational sales operations within our shores and dedicating their lives to selling us products from afar.

Your role

But for all of this to happen you all have a key role to play. You cannot leave it up to governments alone. You must also seize the initiative.

You must make your politicians to understand your needs. You need to police your own governments – to keep those who take your money to represent you on a useful path – to hold them accountable for their performance.

To do this, you need to understand the needs of others, so that you can take them into account when planning your own future.

Above all, you must take responsibility for your own situation and future.

Government will not let go of the reins and leave them dragging in the dirt. We need to know that you have the compassion, understanding and knowledge to run your own lives and businesses.

When you make that clear, the nanny state will no longer be needed. It can be cast aside.

There’s a lot to look forward to.

With that, I wish you all a relaxing and positive Christmas and I look forward with hope to the New Year.

Watch this space.

Mike Bolan
http://www.abetteraustralia.com
Mike is a complex systems consultant, change facilitator and executive and management coach.

Mike Bolan

As sincere unctuous voice-over men urge us to buy various pieces of tat and bling for our loved ones, it seems propitious to ask…‘What does Christmas mean’?

Here’s what I’d like to hear our leader say…