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Itís time for positive politics

By James McConvill - posted Friday, 20 January 2006

Fifteen years ago, my parents took a risk. Struggling with a mortgage and the cost of raising children, they made the decision to buy a run-down milk bar (indeed the only store) in the small fishing town of Corinella, near Phillip Island.

They committed to run the business for at least three years, with the hope of eventually paying off the mortgage on the family home and sending me to a private secondary college.

My parents had a dream, and believed they had the ability to pull it off. They succeeded.


Three and a half years later, they sold a thriving business at a profit, had paid off the family home, and along the way we all gained valuable business and social skills through being the proprietors of the only store in a country town.

The time spent in this country store has shaped my view about politics, business and the world in general more than anything else in my life. It forms the lens through which I look at the world and social issues 15 years later.

It is to these recollections of my time in this humble family store that I again turn. Not to absorb myself in the issues of the day and predict the political issues of the coming five years, but rather to outline my vision of where politics should be heading over this time.

I consider myself to be reasonably well-informed about politics and contemporary affairs, and I would like to think that I hold respectable views on the major issues of our time.

There is one thing, however, that I have always failed to appreciate, and I still do not understand. That one thing is the artificial distinction between politics of the “Left” and “Right”.

Many ideas from leaders or thinkers are dismissed or treated with suspicion because it is not what a good Right-winger or Left-winger would put forward, or does not satisfy with precision the tight traditional criterion of a Right-wing or Left-wing policy.


The thing about the Right and the Left, however, is that there are fundamental problems with both. The Right emphasise a call for small government to enable innovation and enterprise to flourish, while the Left call for a larger role for government so that society is characterised by fairness rather than a dog-eat-dog mentality.

The problem with both the Right and the Left is that they are more similar than commentators believe.

Both Right and Left are loyal to the status quo. They assume that society will continue to tick over with the innovators and those of enterprise, and the disadvantaged and needy.

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About the Author

James McConvill is a Melbourne lawyer. The opinions expressed are his personal views only, and were written in the
spirit of academic freedom when James was employed as a university lecturer.

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