What has been made quite transparent since COVID-19 descended upon us two months ago - but which the numerous federal governments that have collectively failed us in the past 20 years also deliberately neglected - is the necessity for planning and long-term vision on a scale dating back to the post-World War II era.
Not helping one little bit is the pathetically moribund performances of the three major parties, which prompted long-serving Canberra political journalist Crispin Hull to write as far back as March 2017 that Australia was still plagued by the destructive policies of John Howard, who, Hull wrote, "led us into the Iraq war just to please the Americans, a decision based on a falsity (the weapons of mass destruction)" and his final term headed by the meanest budget which became the norm for Coalition governments. What was needed then, as it is right now, is imperative progressiveness that should have been bringing the nation dams, water, coal, energy, revamped aged care, superannuation and infrastructure (as in a completely restructured public service) and much more to secure jobs and prosperity as we charge forward.
The ALP had time to repair the Howard years but stuffed it - not a sign of Chifley's progressive nature there. What did manage to surface in the cabinet room was usually stymied by the selfishness and white-anting of two PMs (Rudd and Gillard) by followers of Bill Shorten, who were more interested in their own way forward rather than those of the nation's people.
Then three more terms of Coalition mediocrity under Abbott, Turnbull (who admittedly had to put up with disgraceful exhibitions of Coalition "teamwork") and Morrison. What the Australian electoral scene and political landscape needs is a thorough clean out. But before we tackle that today, let's read a few more verdicts.
Executive director of Australian Farm Institute, Richard Heath, in his latest editorial wrote: "Conservation agriculture is the dominant cropping system in Australia, yet many conservation agricultural practices are under threat. Accelerated evolution of farming systems is necessary to ensure that Australian farmers can continue to farm in a profitable productive and sustainable fashion."
What prospect is in store for the education of our nation's kids, when we had the recent biased show of strength by the Morrison government which favoured private schools. Writer Jane Caro encapsulated it beautifully in The Saturday Paper: "Just compare the $3.3 billion sweetener offered up to independent schools with the guilt-tripping, shaming and blaming used to push public schools to reopen for more face-to-face teaching. There's not an extra cent for them - not from the federal government anyway."
What the Australian electoral scene and political landscape needs is a thorough clean out.
Then water - the commodity we need most and about which the three major parties have done stuff all - and for which, not one party politician deserves to be considered for re-election. As former Wagga mayor Bruce Hedditch told his Bowen chamber of commerce members this week, water is one of the "issues the growth of our nation has been stifled with by policies that have strangled our local and state governments to the detriment of their progression".
So Wagga City Council - on a motion moved by Cr Paul Funnell - united last week in a three-pronged unanimous attack headed by demanding a national royal commission into the Murray-Darling Basin Plan, an emergency water allocation for farmers affected by the plan and, most importantly in my book, a water asset registry to shed light on who owns what within the basin. Cr Funnell's description of the NSW government's contribution to water management within the basin as a "dog's breakfast" is as accurate to the letter as was Cr Rod Kendall's call that "the plan needs to be reviewed and reviewed properly".
There can and must be hope for change in the way our nation is governed. The national cabinet that has run the COVID-19 campaign thus far is not perfect, but it indicates change is both a prospect and electorally possible. We need, as a regional newspaper owner told me yesterday, "Australians with their feet on the ground in revamped parliaments, not party puppets".
How can we achieve that? Try these suggestions from readers - the elimination of upper houses in state parliaments, a new centre party for regional Australia, and the column's suggestion to replace the Senate as a states' house with regional cities and their adjoining local government regions electing their own senator. There's more to come.