Allan Takes Aim Blog

An ACT Opinion

Posted on: 31 August 2012

An ACT Opinion

Before publishing my first column as an INDEPENDENT write rafter 19 years as a weekly columnist with The Chronicle, Canberra, let me say thank you to the many people who e-mailed me saying how much they will miss their weekly dose of Don Allan even if, often, they disagreed with what I wrote. But perhaps the nicest compliment paid was that the column often provoked them to think. It is my hope that the new online venture, An ACT Opinion, will do the same.

The aim of An ACT Opinion is to be a vehicle for the expression of free speech where articles contributed by people with a different opinion about politics or any other issue that plays a role in the community will be published. Hopefully, these articles will also help provoke people to think – and keep on thinking.

My hope is that An ACT Opinion will be an interesting but small Online daily newsletter that allows greater diversity of opinion than at present.

Importantly, however, I hope humorous articles will form part of that diversity of opinion because it is the medicine that provides a community a welcome relief to the trials and tribulations that too often beset us.

Let me also say a big thank you also to those people in the community who, like me, believe in free speech and democracy to the extent that they have donated $50 towards the $5,000 needed to keep the wider community informed by An ACT Opinion.

For people interested, donations are still needed and details of how they can be made can be found by clicking on ‘ACT Opinions’ in the Category menu at and reading Wednesday’s posts.

In the coming ACT election, the quality of a party’s leader will play a large role. Unfortunately, some wannabe politicians deluded enough to think themselves leaders tend to support their delusion with the thought that they carry a leader’s baton in their bag of political tools. Unfortunately, many of them become leaders. More unfortunately as leaders they make decisions that often have consequences harmful to an entire community.

That apart most voters won’t know the policies of the small parties and independent candidates as the mainstream media have decided already that the only policies you should hear and read about are those of Labor, Liberal and the Greens. Such a position can only be described as political censorship. No doubt this position is based on the argument that this keeps people away whom they think will not be elected. Such an argument sits ill in an alleged egalitarian society where freedom of speech is considered one of a citizen’s inalienable rights. By denying some candidates that right they may be preventing a fellow citizen with real leadership qualities from putting them to use on behalf of the community.

But what is leadership? With more expert opinions on leadership than you can poke a stick at, let me ask: is leadership like greatness? Are great leaders born? Is it an acquired quality? Or is it that leadership is thrust upon people?

Unfortunately Australia has many people in politics (too many) think themselves born leaders even when their performance suggests otherwise. If anything, not only do they lack the common sense required by leaders but, as walking egos withe vanity both unhealthy and overweening, are more narcissist than leader.

Long a subject that has exercised the minds of psychiatrists and psychologists their books on the subject line kilometre after kilometre of library shelves. On the bookshelves with them are books that ex- politicians think subtle expressions of their leadership qualities much of whose content is less than objective analysis of other politicians’ leadership qualities.

Politicians aside some narcissistic business people think of themselves as great leaders. in my view however, Jack Welch, who as CEO of General Electric made it one of the world’s leading business organisations, is a great but non narcissist business leader. How Welch thought of leadership is contained in his words: “Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

Take the words of Welch’s and compare them with the theoretical approach of Genentech scientist Andrew Keith who has described leadership as the “process of social influence in which one person can enlist the aid and support of others in the accomplishment of a common task.” This is much like the approach many politicians take because, unlike Welch, their views are based on theory rather than practice.

And that’s only one definition. Definitions given by Dr. Ken “SKC” Ogbonnia Executive Vice-President of First Texas Energy Corporation, who coordinates the company’s local and international business says: “Leadership is ultimately about creating a way for people to contribute to making something extraordinary happen” or “effective leadership is the ability to successfully integrate and maximize available resources within the internal and external environment for the attainment of organisational or societal goals.”

In Australia, unfortunately, the word ’leader’ is attached usually to politicians. Increasingly and even more unfortunately, it is attached to sportspeople and ’celebrities.’ In truth, there are more leaders in the community looking after local affairs than in the world of politics and business. But perhaps, education is the field with most leaders because when people are asked in surveys who most affected their lives for the better, more often than not, teachers come top of the class.

That said I wonder also why politicians are called ‘leaders’ when that is not the title most voters apply to them. Indeed voters say the absence of leadership is the reason why the quality of Australian politics has been in decline over the past decade.

Bearing in mind the words of Jack Welch and Professor Dr Ken Ogbonnia, let me opine what I think voters look for in political leaders today? They want politicians, male or female, who they think have identified the issues that will be as important to the community in the future as they are today. They are not interested in politicians whose main occupation seems to be in playing political one- upmanship games and poking political opponents in the eye.

Many Canberra voters are disillusioned with the quality of the Assembly’s political leadership because much of the Assembly’s time is squandered the promotion of pet agendas. Indeed if Canberra is the intelligent capital, I hope that by Saturday 20th October, not only will voters have been exposed to the policies of the big parties but also that of the small parties and Independents.

If they are perhaps they might see someone among the latter whom they think might be a better leader than Katy, Zed or Meredith. Whether they do or they don’t, on Saturday 20th October, hopefully they will elect more people of common sense than they do narcissists.

N.B. If submitting a contribution for publication, please head it An ACT Opinion with the title of the contribution above the text. And please provide an address and telephone number.


11 Responses to "An ACT Opinion"

The ACT Assembly is not the only Parliament that spends most of its time on personal abuse and unimportant detail. See Question Time in Federal Parliament on any sitting day.

Noel. I couldn’t agree more. Don

Truly enjoyed this established, many thanks Gisele!

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