OPINION: Our nation’s problems start at the top

COMMENT BY BILL HOFFMAN: IF only Australia was a footy team we could all cheer for, against all the other teams.

Go Team Australia, we're on the team. Rah.

"Everyone has got to put this country, its interests, its values and its people first, and you don't migrate to this country unless you want to join our team."

So said the captain this week, laying down the selection criteria.

Noble sentiment, hard to disagree with, but utterly facile and ignorant of the reality - there is no Team Australia.

We are a federation of competing states that seek to outbid each other at every turn. We are private school or public, Westies or Bondi brats, from the shire or not, from Brisbane or the bush.

We are Labor or Coalition, Holden or Ford, Maroons or Blues, tree huggers or environmental vandals, men of the land or latte-sipping, inner-city loungers.

We are lifters, leaners, bludgers, tradies, men in suits, indigenous, Asian, black, white, and from everywhere on Earth.

Oh for a Team Australia where politicians understood a set of values that bound us beyond the quest for a wage to pay a mortgage.

A Team Australia whose politicians didn't lie for the right to become the next set of service providers to an elite band of power, influence and wealth whose money shifts ignorant of borders and servant only to margin.

A fair go? Right. Tell that to pensioners, carers of the disabled, anyone 17 years old looking for a job anywhere, split-shift employees on a minimum wage weighing up the cost of getting to work, refugees watching their children go mad, Aborigines dominating the prison system, or those targeted because they ride a bike.

Team Australia, where our parliaments are bear pits of abuse, where negativity masquerades as debate and where the leadership group chastises the poor, the weak and the sick for the drain they cause the economy, while they book flights at our expense for private purpose, get sloshed in wineries or convert their allowances into investment opportunities.

Team Australia, where our banks make obscene profits, bankers earn obscene incomes and where customers are lambs for the fleecing.

Team Australia has a culture problem. It starts at the top. Everyone should put this country, its interests, its values and its people first, but first we need to decide whether we want an economy that serves a community or a community that serves an economy.

That is what elections should be about and what political parties could help us discern, but not while they remain bound to the deep pockets of vested interests - match fixers if you must - in the twisted game we're now all playing.



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