There's always something to learn about leadership

Archbishop Mark ColeridgeWhen he was installed last week, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra-Goulburn reflected on the relationship between leaders and those who are led. 'It can't be left to the leader to have all the bright ideas and to make all the best suggestions,' he said, pointing out that he has always done best in situations where others have 'bombarded' him with ideas and suggestions.

After ten years, John Howard is still learning this lesson, with members of the Coalition forced to rebel when it appeared he had not properly listened to them on the proposed amendments to the Immigration Act, a matter of fundamental importance to the nation. Since then, he has performed an about-face in his decision to allow a conscience vote on embryonic stem cell research.

Perhaps this shows a leader finally prepared to listen to the suggestions of those he's leading. Alternatively, it could be just another reading of the political writing on the wall. For there's no doubt he's aware, as Francis Sullivan of Catholic Health Australia points out, that the appeal of the 'well cashed up' science lobby is very emotional.

In this issue of Eureka Street, Brendan Long asks what's become of the enormous confidence of a man in his tenth year of office with a comfortable majority. As Howard grabs the lectern nervously, he knows that no matter what the polls say, the government is hurting over the pain to families from record petrol prices.

In our feature essay, Brian McCoy suggests that Aboriginal Australians make white settler Australians a bit nervous. He says that Aboriginal people remind the rest of us that we have not yet come to fully settle within this land, and that a part of us really wants to live elsewhere—an idea Mark Byrne also posed a number of months ago on these pages. Dr McCoy says this 'unsettlement' explains our irritation with the original inhabitants, who show no desire to live anywhere but here.

John HowardIn other writing in this issue, Phil Glendening of the Edmund Rice Centre focuses on the immigration issue that has been the source of such vexation for Mr Howard in his tenth year, and examines the human cost of 'sending them home.' Jack Waterford looks at another issue which Mr Howard has explored in the last week, that of what kind of history is being taught in our schools. But Jack raises the question of the history of our near neighbours.

Dr Mihal Greener of Monash University turns her attention to Lebanon, wondering how long the peace may last there, with the combatants still at cross-purposes and a divided international community taking the first steps towards sending a peace-keeping force.

We hope you enjoy this issue of Eureka Street. We thank our old print faithful who have stayed with us, and those who have come onboard in recent months.

Click here to download an MP3 audio file containing a reading of this editorial.

 

 

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