Coombs, Anne: It seems like a good time to ask: what are governments for?

Coombs, Anne

It seems like a good time to ask: what are governments for?Guardian, 24 June 2016

This piece was re-run in the latest Guardian Weekly (1-7 July) where it earned the additional headline: ‘We give them power to meet our most basic needs, but they have failed us through inaction’. Anne Coombs is a Sydney-based author who has written on a wide range of subjects.

The piece unpacks many of the issues which lie beneath the superficiality of political campaigns.

What are governments for? [Coombs asks] …  It’s as if the very mechanism we’ve created to organise ourselves – government – has decided that the one thing it cannot do is organise us. Instead of planning for the future, protecting things of national importance, adapting to the many challenges facing the world, our politicians are burying their heads in the sand, still playing the old games and mouthing the same platitudes.

Power, Coombs says, has flowed to corporate interests, mediated through lobbyists and greased by political donations. She canvasses a number of areas where governments have fallen short or been inactive, using plenty of Australian examples, and concludes:

For anyone who cares about their country, it is heartbreaking to witness what could be done, and is not being done. Be it renewable energy, manufacturing or urban planning, our natural advantages are being squandered. The focus on growth and security seems to have blinded governments to all else.

PS Like most observers of politics, Honest History, through the author of this note, took a stab at the result of the election. We guessed 78 Coalition, 68 Labor, 4 Independent, based on a swing of around three per cent Two-party Preferred to Labor. We were in the same ball-park as many pundits and closer than some but predicting the result of the horse-race seems much less important than exploring the sorts of issues that Anne Coombs raises. There should be more articles like hers.

David Stephens

3 July 2016

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