the next New South Wales election, in 2003, first-time voters will have
been born in 1985. Picture their world.
In their lifetime,
they have known only two Prime Ministers. To them, the Whitlams
are a band, not a former Prime Minister and his wife! They have never
known the Soviet Union, or lived through the nuclear threat. They have
never known war or campaigned for nuclear disarmament.
AIDS has always been
part of their lives. Drink driving has never been an option and illegal
drugs have been freely available. They have never heard of or dealt with
Telecom. They have never used a typewriter and never owned a record
player. And they have probably never seen a black-and-white television.
Their life has been
one of constant change. Indeed change has been the only constant. They
will cope with rapid change and expect it to be a feature of their lives.
parents, they will not receive a free tertiary education. They will be
required to make compulsory contributions to their retirement from their
first day at work. And they will be required to contribute more to their
health care throughout their lives.
The message to this
generation is clear – self-reliance is expected and government is for
the provision of essential services and the protection of those who cannot
provide for themselves. This generation will not hold a nostalgic view of
what government used to be like and what it should do for them.
The ownership of
public assets, for example, will be less important than the expectation of
quality and service. To them, it will matter little who runs or owns the
rail system, just that it runs on time, safely and cleanly.
This revolution in
the direction of government is the result of progressive, reforming
From 1996 Prime
Minister John Howard has taken the next step and reduced the role of
government to regulator, funder and provider of essential services. Many
of the traditional roles of government, such as welfare and employment
services are now conducted by the non-government sector.
The Liberal message
is clear – business and the community are better equipped to deliver
many government services more efficiently and effectively than the
In contrast, the
Australian Labor Party remains directionless and unable to keep pace with
a progressive, reformist agenda. Kim Beazley's stale party is still
fighting the last election and fails to realise that fundamental tax
reform is now a reality. Labor's light on the hill has extinguished. They
have become the true conservative party in Australia, clinging to the
trade union movement in an increasingly de-regulated labour market and to
class warfare in an increasingly egalitarian society.
latest play exposes Labor's crisis of faith. From "Don's Party"
to "The Great Man," Labor has lost its meaning. Where they
govern successfully they do so on the borrowed blueprint of liberalism –
proved by their unwillingness to turn back the reforms of previous Liberal
Discuss in our Forums
See what other readers are saying about this article!
Click here to read & post comments.