Check the mirror

Thursday, 29 January 2004 12:44 pm

Premier Bracks charges that the federal government's distribution of additional funded tertiary places is targetted at votes in Queensland and WA. (The Age, 29/1) He may well be right. In an election year, we can expect to hear many more such claims. Indeed the last few months have seen much wailing over policies formed out of electoral self-interest, rather than higher values of justice and equality. In similar vein, we complain that the major parties now almost mimic one another in policy terms. "Our leaders stand for nothing!" goes the cry. We may be right on all counts. But rarely do we ask why ... perhaps because we fear the answer. Were we to ask, the spotlight might just fall more on us the electors, than on those who hold office at our pleasure. The growing proliferation of bumper stickers worded "I ... and I vote" may profoundly symbolise the malaise. 

Let's be honest. We have become a self-serving, greedy culture. Every generation since 1945 has claimed a right to more lifestyle perks than the one before. An unwritten rule for parents is that our kids deserve more than we got. Young home buyers expect a standard beyond the wildest dreams of many of their parents. Twenty years ago we protested when overseas aid fell to 0.4% of GDP, against the UN target of 0.7%. Today few know or care that it's 0.25% and falling. Perhaps a glance in the mirror before blaming the pollies?