Listen, Learn and Lead

The 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli, famously wrote about ‘two nations’. His reference was less about poverty as such, and more about the lack of connection he observed, in his time between the rich and the poor.

Had Disraeli been writing today, he could well have been describing the disconnect between much of the media and the general populace. Take the projections about recent polls in Australia and the U.S., and the Brexit vote in the UK. The political insiders were convinced they understood the mood of the people, only to be contradicted. There is little sign that they have learnt from the experiences.

There is a chasm between the activities and concerns of ordinary Australians and many of those who comment in the media. Most Australians do not follow Twitter feeds, share the obsessions of the Q & A set, or focus on the theatre of politics. They do not sit around all day watching Sky News or ABC 24.

Their focus is on their job, their family and their community. They are sick and tired of the chatter that passes for political discussion, and want political leaders to listen to their concerns and craft policies that address them. They are less interested in celebrity and more concerned about outcomes. They dislike the personality politics that dominates the media.

Until political leaders start to value accomplishments over accolades, the gulf between the two groups will continue to grow. And millions will turn to alternative parties, partly in frustration, partly in search for a listening ear, and partly in a quest for answers to the real challenges facing them.

Our task as a political party is to listen, learn and lead: Listen to the concerns of Australians, learn how they relate to the challenges facing the nation, and persistently outline and explain our considered ways to address the challenges.