Allan Takes Aim Blog

Let’s not ape America

Posted on: 10 June 2009


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 Is Australia becoming too like America? Some people wish that was so while others think it already is as it seems to be following America’s long held political attitude of being uninterested in the world at large unless it serves America’s interests to do so.

 America is a big country with a large population dispersed in large and small groups that have become intensely parochial and motivated by self- interest. Australia too, is a big country with a population that is but a fraction of America’s but spread over a larger area, where the same parochialism and self – interest is starting to emerge.

Canberra is an example of this trend to parochialism because the planners who followed in the wake of the city’s designer, Walter Burley Griffin (ironically an American), were navel gazers, not visionaries. Had they been Canberra would be on its way to becoming a great international city and, as befits a National Capital, a city with a future.

 Unfortunately for many young Canberrans better suited to working in industries where high technology skills are not essential, Canberra is not a city with a future for them because it offers them little hope of employment either today or tomorrow, a situation they do not think will improve. As one without high technology skills said: “Canberra is a city for the elite not for people like me.”

Even some older residents who once thought Canberra the world’s best planned city now think would be a better place to live in if planners allowed for a degree of chaos and encouraged development of industries for people not part of the intellectual elite.

As for the claim that Canberra’s young are Australia’s best educated, a claim made on the basis that Canberra has Australia’s highest school retention rates. That may be so but retention rates are high because there are no jobs other than service industries to go to. And while new job training schemes are fine, they don’t answer the question: where are the jobs?

 To say the least, chief executive officers of Canberra’s major business organisations are disingenuous when they say that private sector employment has grown over the past decade. The fact is, the increase was due mainly to downsized public servants becoming self – employed doing the same job from which they were downsized, a situation that could occur again if the public service takes the same kind of battering from the Rudd regime that it took from the Howard regime.    

Let me also add to my answer to the question is Australia becoming too like America by saying their similar, early origins, perhaps makes it inevitable. Australia however, did have an advantage in that it is nearly three hundred years younger and knows America’s early mistakes. Unfortunately, it has not used these mistakes to its advantage and instead of benefiting from them it has repeated them and is still doing so, which can be seen in the increase in serious assault, sexual assault, homicide and racism.

Perhaps people should remember the saying: be careful what you wish for: you might get it

 Don

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1 Response to "Let’s not ape America"

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