In the last Quarterly Essay for 2010, George Megalogenis considers Australia's political dead zone. The Hawke, Keating and early Howard years were ones of bold reform; recently we have seen an era of power without purpose. But why? Is it down to powerful lobbies, or the media, or a failure of leadership, or all the above? And whatever the case, how will hard decisions be taken for the future?
In Trivial Pursuit, Megalogenius dissects the cycle of polls, focus groups and presidential politics and what is has done to the prospect of serious, difficult reform. He argues that politics-as-usual has become a self-defeating game and mounts a persuasive case for a different style of leadership. From now on, he argues, it is the key divisions between young and old, and north and south, that will shape the nation's future. But can a hung parliament and a pragmatic Labor leader rise to the challenge?
'Rudd, Gillard and Abbott sought power in 2010 on the same dangerous premise, that no sacrifice is required to secure our future. Government on this basis is never worth it because the promise of painless change can never be kept. The voters knew it, which is why they spared themselves the inevitable let-down by hanging the parliament.' George Megalogenis, Trivial Pursuit