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Friday, April 8, 2011

Straight Shooting

I am embarrassed sometimes when I hear our political leaders speak. In fact, I don't think many of them deserve to be called leaders. Let's just call them politicians and we all know what politicians are like, don't we? What a tragedy that we live in a country where we don't believe what our politicians say. What a shame that we laughingly accept truisms like, all politicians lie and break promises. They can't even lie straight in bed. Not only do they lie and say whatever is politically expedient at the time, but they can't even do it convincingly. If you expect an honest, direct answer to a question, then you are dreaming, living in a fantasy world where politicians say what they mean, and mean what they say.

I know that not all of the current crop of politicians are crooked doublespeakers, and I also know that many who come across that way, are probably different in private. They may well be honest, passionate people who ooze integrity but I want to see those qualities in their public life. I want leaders who are not allergic to straight answers, not afraid to say what they think, and who actually act instead of mouthing empty rhetoric.

With incessant and totally justified bagging of our politicians a completely normal, and totally acceptable national pastime, I want to break away and offer some praise. This week, two men stood tall. Take a bow, Federal Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, and NSW Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay.

Leaving aside the issue of the secret filming and broadcasting of some horizontal folk dancing by an army cadet, I want to rap Stephen Smith for speaking very strongly against how the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) is handling the matter. Until his intervention, the decision by the female cadet at the centre of the maelstrom to go public had left her bullied and isolated without any offer of counselling, and under implied orders from her superiors that she would have to apologize publicly to her fellow cadets for embarrassing them. She was then hauled before a disciplinary committee on unrelated charges. Mr Smith described the decision to conduct her hearing at this time as either inappropriate, insensitive or completely stupid. Yes, he used the words completely stupid. Bravo! Furthermore, he refused to give his support to the ADFA Commandant. Full marks for straight shooting and direct intervention.

Newly appointed Minister for Roads, Duncan Gay, was interviewed on radio during the the week in relation to the government's plan to audit the state's fixed speed cameras. In response to public concerns that speed cameras are revenue raisers and not safety devices, the government wants to know factually, whether or not fixed speed cameras have reduced accident rates. People feel that many of the fixed cameras are simply in place to raise money by catching drivers unawares in tricky locations, for example, the bottom of hills, around bends or in multiple speed zones. Said Duncan Gay, 'it's hard to argue against that, and that's why we are independently auditing the system' He also said that having marked police cars on our roads was in many instances a much more acceptable option. Common sense and genuine empathy with the public? Minister Gay sounds like a representative of the people. Hats off to you sir.

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