There is a need for leadership

At a book launch this week former prime minister Bob Hawke made a salient point when he called on both the major political parties to allow MPs free votes on some issues.

Mr Hawke correctly identified that doing so would end the “charade” of parliamentary debate that has tarnished the parliamentary process.

The battering ram system disguised as debate does not serve our democracy well as it fails to provide for any other opinions, nor does it have a focus on outcomes.

Debates based purely on for, or against, points of view fail to acknowledge the merit of some legislation or the potential for it to be improved. The divisive nature of our federal Parliament is a battleground, rather  than a forum for community progress.

While it is accepted political parties are divided by philosophical differences, there is often some common ground. The problem is that neither side wants to acknowledge it, in fear of compromise being considered a weakness.

The asylum seeker debate which raged for months, and still does, is a case in point. Would the national interest not have been better served by more congenial dialogue and cooperation to resolve the issue?

Businesses every day have to find solutions to problems.  With so many sharp minds in one place, our Parliament could function much better if those within it were not so obstructionist and welded on to party positions. What’s needed is some serious leadership.

Thomas Edison said for every problem there is a solution, but finding it isn’t easy in the federal parliament and that does not serve the people’s interest.

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Some people in Tamworth had the privilege of hearing best-selling author Bryce Courtenay speak in the city a number of years ago.

Mr Courtenay, who died on Thursdayafter a short battle with cancer, enthralled the crowd with his stories. His life’s work as an advertising man and a prolific writer of popular novels cemented his reputation as a unique storyteller.

But the fact Mr Courtenay came to Tamworth free-of-charge to address the dinner was a reflection of his character.

He had been invited on the pretence that country communities needed all the help they could get to build their 

enterprise base, generating employment and prosperity and relaying his own experiences and his thoughts on the subject might help.

While Tamworth’s business community was grateful for his contribution, his greatest impact was his 21 novels which have sold more than 20 million copies worldwide.

He will be sadly missed, but his legacy will be his popular works, which will have enduring appeal.