As someone who works from an inside office on the second floor of a building in Ultimo, I couldn’t help but be impressed as I gazed out the window of Governor Phillip Tower. Sneakily, I took a photograph, worried that I might be picked up by a security guard concerned I may have been a terrorist. Sadly, I felt too shy to take another shot, and therefore can only rely on my memory to convey the Harbour Bridge and Opera House view that was just around the corner, and which provided a side-drop (not a back-drop) for the talk Damo and I attended tonight put on by the Sydney Institute.
It was the first time I’ve been to a talk at the Sydney Institute. The lure of hearing Hugh Mackay and Sol Liebovic. however, was too great to resist, and when I received the invitation I said yes immediately. I think they’re both very interesting men with many interesting observations based on years of doing one of the most interesting and important things in life: asking questions. Maybe it’s why I’m in the career I’m in, but I’ve always thought questions are more interesting than answers.
Hugh Mackay’s thesis was pretty much as he outlined in his book, Advance Australia Where? which I read a few weeks ago. That is…
The main theme for this work was his theory to explain the level of disengagement from “the big picture” which has occured in Australia over the last decade or so. As “the big picture” became too complex to consider (or to find solutions), Mackay argues the nation retreated into home renovation and other similar “distractions”. Mackay argues there is evidence of a mood for change.
And while Mackay argues that because Australians are, by and large, reasonably content with the economic circumstances of Australia, Liebovic argues the economy remains the crucial basis on which people will make their voting decision. Liebovic went on to argue the case that Labor has a very significant “soft vote” that, when push comes to shove, people will vote for the Liberal Party (despite the current poll) because John Howard is still miles ahead in terms of economic credibility. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to ask the question about the degree to which people still felt comfortable enough with Labor’s economic credentials to trust them, which Peter Hartcher argued a few months ago at Glebe Books.
Still left with more questions than answers, Damo and I headed off for dinner at the recently renovated Quay Bar. Although the food and wine we enjoyed were excellent, the views weren’t quite as good at Quay Bar.