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A Liberal Approach: Why A New PM Is A Vote For Equality

16/09/2015 7:38 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
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I am not even going to pretend how much the outcome of Monday night's leadership spill between Tony Abbott and the newly crowned (or should that be anointed?) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull meant to me. I was ecstatic. Much as I constantly try to look at the bigger picture when it comes to politics -- in other words, beyond the leader to the party, and the party line -- in the case of Tony Abbott, this has been an impossibility.

When a leader of any kind consciously decides to allow their own focus to turn inwards, rather than looking outwards to the needs of a group, whether that be a group of twenty or twenty million, unhappiness is sure to follow. How can it not? Decisions are being made as a result of personal feelings and passions, rather than from consideration of what is best for the majority, or equally from a consideration of what the majority needs as well as wants.

I have never forgotten the phrase I first had an understanding of back in the 1980s. We were living in a time of brilliant political satire, if not political brilliance. Max Gillies and co were whipping the Banana Republic into an hysterically funny smoothie on the Gillies Report; Spitting Images and Rubbery Figures had Ronald Reagan, George Bush, and locally John Howard, Paul Keating and the captains of industry (John Elliott, Bondy and the gang) on the vulcanised ropes. It was challenging, sharp, and to the point.

I had been reading Jeffrey Archer blockbusters, much like the rest of the Western world, and seen within one of them the Latin phrase primus inter pares -- or, as it is in translation and reflection, and the name of one of his books, First Among Equals.

This is how a Prime Minister -- the first minister -- is referred to under the Westminster or United Kingdom system of government. Not better, nor above any other minister in the body of those who lead the country. Simply first amongst them. Leading by example, on the understanding those beside him (or her, as Margaret Thatcher was PM at the time) were of equal aptitude, intelligence, and ability.

And could take the position in the space of a millisecond if said first fails or falters in their leadership.

Prime Minister. A prime position for ministering to a country's heartbeat, to its economic pulse, to the ebb and flow of its fortunes. The privilege and the misfortune of having the weight of an entire population's views, prejudices and wellbeing on one's hands.

It's not something I could imagine wanting to do in a million lifetimes.

I cannot envisage the pressure the leader of our nation feels on a daily basis. It's impossible for anyone not in the position. But I think it's fair for all those who are willing to be first among equals as leaders themselves, who actively try to make the community a better place, to be allowed a view on a Prime Minister gone wrong.

Because Tony Abbott was not leading by example. He was leading by own view, not world view. He refused to look at how the world perceived us (when they looked our way at all, which is far less than we think it is. Ego is not an issue for us as a nation) and instead, looked only at his perception of the world.

Unlike a lot of people, I don't think the 'Minister for Women' necessarily has to be a woman. I think this actually plays into gender discrimination in itself. But I do think said Minister needs to actively want women to succeed, just as our Prime Minister has to actively want our entire community, irrespective of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation, to enjoy quality of life and love, not just the portion of it which fits their vision of 'normality'.

I know this is pie in the sky. I don't in a million years think that simply changing the name on an office door in Canberra from 'Abbott' to 'Turnbull' will suddenly mean rainbows and unicorns, with everybody singing as we waltz off into Candy-Cane Mountain arm in arm, refugees, a happily married LGBT community, and alternate energy producers alike.

What I do believe, very strongly, is this.

There was no liberalism in the Liberal Party under the leadership of Tony Abbott. We, as a country, were heading down a dangerous, shadowed path to a state which reflected the mind of a man, not the mind of a nation.

And if we are looking down the barrel of our fifth PM in less than a decade, then I am willing to take that chance, because at least we are no longer looking down the barrel of something far worse.

Perpetual inequality, and a country with a finger on the trigger of economic and societal disaster.

Image courtesy of The New Daily

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