Saturday, 20 September 2008

One reason why Kevin Rudd is a better PM than John Howard

In his eleven years of being Australian prime minister, I don't think I once heard John Howard articulate any vision of how he wanted to make Australia a better place. As a prime minister, the man was a manager rather than a leader. A product of the World War II generation, it seemed he was unable to move on from the post-war view that because America joined the war just before Australia was invaded, Australia holds an eternal and unquestioning allegiance to support the US in any and all conflicts it places itself in. (Previous to that war many Australians felt that way about Britain.) As such, his attitude to the rest of the world lacked nuance, substance and vision. Rudd, on the other hand, is a product of the diplomatic service, speaks a good standard of Chinese, and has a clearly articulated, if highly ambitious, vision for Australia and Asia in the coming century. This is what he said at today's OzAsia symposium, according to WA Today:
"Our challenge in the future is not to retreat to any view of Australia which is a small Australia, but instead to ensure a vision for Australia which is wide and open to the world and region," he told an OzAsia symposium in Adelaide today.

Mr Rudd said his government's mission was "for Australia to be the most Asian literate nation in the western world".

He said the future of Australia was "tied to the most dynamic region in the world".

"The 21st century will be the Asia Pacific century ... so we need to make sure that in decades ahead we are fully engaged with the region," he said.
After more than a decade of dreary conservative attitudes to Australia's place in the world, this is like watching an episode of South Park after 10 episodes of the Brady Bunch. It's like listening to the party mix after 10 hours of country music. It's like drinking a mocha double frappuchino whip with a shot of vodka after 10 soy lattes. Next stop.... an Australian republic.

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