Networkers, I cast about looking for a picture to illustrate Julia Gillard tied up in knots. Couldn't find one and no time to fiddle with collaging one together. And then I found this. Omit the references to NBN Broadband and look at the meta-narrative, Burke and Wills. As far as I am concerned that says it all.
Melbourne loves Burke and Wills. Melbourne loved them 150 years ago and loves them still to-day. There is a painting in the gallery of the State Library of Victoria. It is huge, celebratory, jubilant and triumphant. It is Melbourne farewelling Burke and Wills - and the populace is there in their thousands.
I'm from Queensland where our adulation of Burke and Wills is pretty much non-existent. We think they were rather silly people. We believe they did a perish which should, in all likelihood, never have happened. Not that explorers haven't disappeared before. We have no idea where Ludwig Leichhardt finished up - and he seemed to have a lot more sense than B&W.
I find this extract from the Burke & Wills Research Gateway to be particularly apt when looking at the Gillard Government:
Burke and Will had a dichotomy in operation. The support of Melbourne bigwigs who purported to know everything and, as it turned out, knew nothing. The knowledge of people who had traversed this land for forty milennia and knew how to survive, and who were deemed not to be capable of making a contribution.
There are a great number of Australians, more than likely the majority, who cannot be slotted into the false political dichotomy which appears to be abroad. This "deeming not to know" process has been analysed by the British philosopher, Miranda Fricker, and I have written about it before here.
It is called epistemic injustice. Fricker's book is a bit expensive for ordinary mortals. It is readable. It is in some Australian academic libraries. I read my copy courtesy of inter-library loan. You can also go to The Philosopher's Zone and listen to a podcast or read the transcript where Fricker talks about power, prejudice, and the death of Stephen Lawrence due to epistemic discrimination.
In the current circumstances, leaders do need to listen to the people. And then the crunch comes. Leaders have to lead. They have to make decisions. They have to be decisive and confident in their decision-making.
If a leader is not of firm conviction or principle, does this affect the decision-making process? I believe it does. Rightly or wrongly, we need a guiding star or principle by which to direct our thoughts and arrive at our decisions. Just as Captain Cook carried the experimental chronometer of John Harrison on his voyages to the South Pacific, a leader needs principle to steer the ship of state on its political course. Else sound government is beset and becalmed in the political doldrums.
We see the Gillard Government in this way. It is a government that doesn't speak its mind or take the nation into its confidence. It is a government which hangs in the breeze to be blown this way and that by every strong and baying voice. This is a sure way to be hung out to dry. It is a sure way to find the electorate isn't listening to you and just holding out for the next election to express its view. It has to wait...because the government isn't listening to the sensible and practical voices who do not do obeisance to commercial radio's talk-back jockeys.