Australia is headed towards becoming Asia’s poor relative. The major parties have given up on economic reform, productivity improvements and innovation. Their approaches on these issues have generated only stalemate and inertia. They are now reliant on mass immigration as their only strategy for economic growth. But the social costs of this strategy are unacceptable – congestion and over-development in our cities, a huge infrastructure deficit, unattainable housing prices for the majority, and declining social cohesion and trust.
Having lost public trust, the major parties cannot address important policy challenges such as energy and climate, drought and agricultural sustainability, failing skills and training systems, the quality of our schools, and the viability of our hybrid public-private health system.
Most of our government systems – from aged care to support for veterans to water management to banking regulation – are broken.
Our security environment in the Asia-Pacific region is changing rapidly with the rise of China and the retreat of the United States, but the major parties are unable to accept that Australia is now on its own. Being unable to accept this reality, they are incapable of undertaking the planning and investment we need in defence and security.
Unable to address these challenges, the major parties have resorted to divisive culture wars, replacing informed public debate with endless negative attacks on the Other Side. Our adversarial Westminster system of democracy and government cannot mitigate these trends and has only exacerbated them.
Leadership to turn the country around cannot come from the major parties. It can only come from a political movement that seeks to bring Australians together from different social and political backgrounds to establish a new consensus on critical economic, security, ecological and social challenges.
The need for national leadership is now critical and urgent. The battle in Australian politics is now between this emerging national consensus for revival and renewal, and the failed traditional parties that have run the country into the ground.