Ending Up Somewhere Else

When I was at secondary school I was given a book by one of my teachers entitled “If you don’t know where you are going you’ll probably end up somewhere else.”

Question_mark_road_sign__Australia.jpgFor some reason the title alone resonated with me and it has always played a part in my strategic thinking and planning. Having it in the back of my mind always prompts the question about what is the end goal of any particular action I undertake. When that is clear it is relatively easy to work back to identify the steps necessary to attain that goal.

However, that type of goal setting and planning isn’t enough. It answers the ‘what’ and the ‘how’ questions but doesn’t address the ‘why’.

And the ‘why’ question seems more important than ever in politics.  

The goal for many who enter political life is simply to be a politician. They chart their course from university activist, through the ranks of political staffer, developing the local branch all the while waiting  for the endorsement opportunity to arise. If it doesn’t magically emerge, they precipitate the demise of another by launching a preselection contest when the numbers are in place to assure victory.

Now I know that doesn’t always produce the most well-rounded set of candidates but the process is consistent with any other goal-oriented process. Once elected, the goal changes to ascend the treacherous political ladder as fast and as high as they possibly can.

Seldom however, do they ask themselves ‘Why’?

For what greater purpose are they willing to suspend their moral compass, be away from their families and enter one of the most brutal work environments imaginable?  

If you ask, the most likely response is ‘to make a difference’ but the respondent is rarely able to say exactly what difference they want to make. Some may be more specific like ‘to lower taxes’ or to ‘deregulate the economy’. These are both admirable objectives but, in my experience, most of the people who say these things go on to regularly vote for more taxes or more regulation.

Of course there is always nuance and compromise in the world of politics but very few are prepared to limit their career advancement by standing on their principles. It’s much easier to find an excuse why you can’t buck the system.

I can recall many examples but one memory remains firmly in my mind. It arose after some particularly inflammatory and hateful comments from an Australian Islamic preacher. I had been (and remain) a long-term vocal critic of the Islamic problem within our midst, copping the opprobrium of many in the political and media class for my troubles.

The latest outburst from the irate imam prompted one colleague to call me to say ‘we have to do something about this’. I agreed with him and said “I have been on to this for years so what are you going to do about it?”

A moment’s silence was followed by “Oh I can’t because…. (please insert whatever excuse you care to).”

To which I responded with “by ‘we’, then you really mean I should do it?”

It went downhill from there as I received a long explanation of how his career was just beginning and he didn’t want to upset anyone and on and on it went. It didn’t matter about the merit or virtue of the action that was necessary. Rather it was far more important that his self-esteem and career prospects were kept intact.

And that’s the essential problem with politics today. Too many of your elected representatives are more concerned with good outcomes for themselves rather than with good outcomes for the country. Perhaps I am being naïve when I say I didn’t think it was always thus.

So while ambition and aspiration are admirable qualities in any political figure, perhaps the most important question is ‘why?’
I think you’d be surprised by how few can provide a decent answer.


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  • commented 2017-07-15 10:27:17 +0930
    As usual Cory you hit the nail right on the head. Well done, please keep up the pressure and the good work.
  • commented 2017-07-14 18:15:54 +0930
    You are doing well Cory, keep up the good work.
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  • commented 2017-07-13 21:39:05 +0930
    While my views range from far left to quite conservative I appreciate conviction politicians. I know where they stand and because of their integrity I expect them to respond appropriately to reasoned argument i.e. can be swayed.

    My apologies but this is a bit of test message because I have had difficulties in posting – I do appreciate pollies like Cory even though I often disagree with his position.
  • commented 2017-07-13 17:02:15 +0930
    Just wondering what is your Why?
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  • commented 2017-07-13 09:48:00 +0930
    Rando Yam I think he’s talking about paid Australian Conservatives members (the 12,000) but I could be wrong.
  • commented 2017-07-13 01:10:38 +0930
    To Andrew Humble thank you for your service and you can get on your soap box anytime, well said and have you ever thought of becoming a politician yourself
  • commented 2017-07-13 00:58:01 +0930
    Whatever you do Cory don’t ever take that colleague on as part of your team unless he suddenly becomes conscious of where his testicals are and man’s up. Too many spineless politicians collecting on our weekly tax donations ;)
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  • commented 2017-07-12 21:17:28 +0930
    Your thoughts this week Cory resonate with me profoundly. I am a returned serviceman, with 17 years of service; I have been discharged now for just under ten years, I have been employed both in the private and public sector and have been struggling with the adaptation from military service to civilian life. Your thoughts this week are the first time I have heard from any community leader, political leader or business leader to actually say anything remotely ethical, and your words today are profound.

    I believe I too many politicians not behaving beyond reproach and setting the standard of ethical behaviour for the rest of the community. The terminology now “honourable” member is laughable due to the behaviour politicians show the community. Meanwhile ADF members set the highest levels of behaviour because they represent the government and the people of this country and they are kept accountable for it, why can’t politicians follow these behaviours and values? Look at the discord during question time, Senator Hansen Young taking her daughter whale watching at tax payers expense, Sam Dastyari excepting money from entities backed by foreign nationals, Craig Thompson and his binge with a public credit card, the term Honourable member has been used with flagrant disrespect, we need to reform our political system and politicians, we have become so used to the status quo our focus needs to be centred back onto the constitution as the benchmark of the law of the land and all political leaders need to be held accountable and responsible for their actions and decisions they take and this is including the Governor General. I would dearly love to encourage my boys to have aspirations of becoming Prime Minister but at the moment that office has less respect from me than a used car salesman does.

    My apologies for getting on my soap box, but I am extremely passionate about this and I am at a loss as to what can be done, I fear not for what happens in the next 5-10 years but for the future for my kids and their children.
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  • commented 2017-07-12 20:02:47 +0930
    Cory, more and more I’m feeling like you’re the only person able to raise a team that will drain the swamp. It feels like you are the only person who is actually listening to grass roots. I hope that you can very carefully put together an excellent team and win control of parliament.
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  • commented 2017-07-12 16:27:12 +0930
    Thank you Cory, for showing an insight into your character this week. I read somewhere recently that we need to be brave to achieve our goals; but if we can’t be brave, then be determined and we’ll arrive at the same place. This helps me as someone who lacks bravery as a character trait. However, Cory, I think you might be both brave and determined and I pray that you fulfill your purpose.
  • commented 2017-07-12 16:18:59 +0930
    How true and how sad. But we, the electorate, should be holding the feet of all political aspirants to the fire, by asking them, publicly, these questions.
    Thank you Cory for being a beacon of hope in a very dark and bleak landscape. You and Tony Abbott are the only 2 prepared to show the emperor has no clothes.
    And please, please can we have the promised marriage plebiscite, clearly, simply and unambiguously worded, which the politicians themselves promised us.
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