Joel Fitzgibbon | Canberra Report

Happy New Year to all readers. I hope Christmas was a happy and relaxing time for you.

It was certainly a fortunate time for me because I was blessed with the opportunity to travel to London with my family (no taxpayers' money and no apartment purchased!) where we were able to spend some quality time with our daughter who is working as a paramedic for the London Ambulance Service.

Like so many of our global cities, London is a wonderful place to visit.  But every overseas visit serves as a reminder that we live in the best country in the world.

This is a view again confirmed by the OECD's annual  "Better Life"  survey which has rated Australia No.1.

Despite that, Australia is not immune to the changing political winds we've seen in the UK (Brexit vote) and the election outcome in the USA.

It is to state the obvious to suggest these upheavals have been driven by reform fatigue and discontent with the "political class".

Each is tied to the other because if you are not happy with how things are, you obviously blame the politicians responsible for the status quo.  This in turn results in people turning to anything but the political class or the things they stand for.

 In the UK, both major parties urged people to vote to remain in the European Union.  In the US, they voted for the anti-political class candidate.

BREXIT: England's shock departure from the European Union, and Donald Trump's selection success is a sign of voter unrest at the political class.

BREXIT: England's shock departure from the European Union, and Donald Trump's selection success is a sign of voter unrest at the political class.

But where will this mini-revolution take us?

Will a bigger vote for parties like One Nation make Australia a better place? 

The world has gone through a technical revolution over the past 40 years which arguably, matched the Industrial Revolution in significance.

Further, many countries are only now industrialising, further adding to global change because poor countries with low labour rates are now able to make the things we started making decades ago.

This has redirected our financial, intellectual and labour resources into new and more complex ventures and of course, the growing services and financial sectors.

This change has not been without pain but it has been a good thing for Australia. 

We are a wealthier and more sophisticated country than we were five decades ago and our economy is far more diverse. 

However, one thing which drives community discontent is growing inequality. But while it is true inequality is growing in raw statistical terms, there are different ways of gauging it.

The truth is that while those at the top are growing richer, those at the bottom have been doing better too - sadly though, by not as much.

During England's Industrial Revolution the "Luddites" wanted to destroy the machines which were displacing workers. That would have been a mistake, and turning the clock back now would also be wrong.

The challenge for politicians is to better demonstrate they are listeners and are in touch, to better sell and explain change, and to ensure the law is fair and policy adequately helps people in work- transition, so that they are not left behind. 

In short, it’s up to the political class itself.

  If it fails, people won't hesitate to risk trying something else.


My office is at 3 Edward St, Cessnock 2325, phone 4991 1022, or email