Graham Gorrel's Friday On My Mind | OPINION, July 14, 2017

THE last census will always be remembered in the Riverina if for no other reason than the electorate earned The DA’s headline, “In God’s own country”, a reference to the 80.8 percentage of people who said they were Christians in comparison to the national average which had fallen to 52 per cent from 88 in 1966.

It was a census that began with a bang when the computer system collapsed which thrust the Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, into the firing line as the minister responsible for managing the event; however, it has been the religious connotations since which has had the media producing, as the veteran News Limited journalist, Paul Kelly, described as “a litany of words”.

In one of his most poignant columns, Kelly wrote that the past decade had witnessed a shattering of trust across the Western world including Australia between the people on one hand and politicians and elites on the other. “This dysfunction in Australia has multiple causes within politics itself (such as) the identity crisis of the major parties, the rise of negative politics, a self-interested Senate, leadership failures and internal disunity”. Kelly is not wrong. Readers each week reach this column with their concerns about where our world is headed. A sample: “For so many years I thought they were honourable people who were in parliament but no more, they couldn’t care less about the country; the real issue is themselves; then this, “the word ‘compromise’ is destroying democracy, the word ‘principle’ doesn’t get a mention”.

Another from yesterday’s mailbag: “Sadly this topic seems to be lost on most people these days; nobody wants to look up long enough from their tech obsessions to see that the world around them is changing so rapidly that it will soon be unrecognisable. Only once it is lost will they begin to lament”.

Back to Kelly who argued there was a deeper problem: “Something more profound has gone wrong. The sense of a community of shared values is disintegrating. The most fundamental norms, accepted for centuries, are now falling apart as disputes erupt about family, education, gender, sexuality, marriage, tradition, patriotism, life and death”. Kelly might have added, law and order.

Interestingly, while the census has evoked a tsunami of articles, especially in relation to religious, political and social values, little comment has been made about many aspects of social media which has hardly been a catalyst for raising the bar of “civic virtue, institutional authority, trust and common community purpose”, to which Kelly also referred.

Scepticism justified

THERE were two comments in The DA’s report this week about restructuring regional police commands that bear comment. One said the Premier had expressed sympathy with Junee people for the shortage of officers; that’s no comfort at all in a town with one of the state’s biggest prisons and confirms most politicians have no idea what’s going on.

The other was by Daryl Maguire, who was probably right when he said Wagga needed at least five more officers right now. A second station would not hurt, either. But what the state needs is more police on the beat in all patrols; hard-nosed crime enforcement officers; judges and magistrates prepared to inflict maximum sentences and more jails to put the villains in. Sometimes, Premier, the old ways are the best.