Wanted: Some fresh, new political ideas-men
Psychiatry professor Patrick McGorry is an Australian of the Year who has made a difference.
After being awarded the honour in 2010, McGorry became one of the chief ambassadors of a campaign to get the federal government to reform the mental health sector. It paid off big time: In the 2011 federal budget $2.2 billion was invested in mental health reform.
Onya, Pat. Now McGorry’s saying the title he won shouldn’t just be awarded to someone who has done valuable work, but someone who wants to leverage the title’s power into continuing to change the world. He’s got a point.
The title is a huge opportunity for accomplished people to rock the political boat.
In recent times a few Australians of the Year have done just that: McGorry, the now-Climate Commissioner Tim Flannery and Mick Dodson have all used the platform to cast light on pressing issues, whether you agree with them or not.
There’s a larger story to this though. A few more fresh voices, fresh ideas - a few more McGorrys - wouldn’t hurt our political debate.
Just look at the leaders of both parties. They’re unpopular and constantly outpolled by their rivals, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull.
You often hear people complain on The Punch that most politicians are people with the same kind of background. A law degree, followed by a decade or two working as a staffer or as a prominent unionist or business lobbyist.
Often the only voices that bring in a different idea are the Wilkies - accomplished people with intriguing platforms that stem, in part, from having different life experiences to their colleagues.
Meanwhile, up in North Queensland two characters who most certainly have their own unique perspective might end up duking it over the one seat at the next election: Clive Palmer and Bob Katter.
Palmer recently proposed that we offer to fly asylum seekers into Australia. He’s no genius professor of psychiatry, but we could at least do with a few ideas men like you, Clive.
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