Australia: From the ‘lucky country’ to the ‘complacent’ country?

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd holds forth in a long, combative essay and develops his thesis of the ‘complacent country’. This is a self-conscious attempt to distinguish his ideas from Donald Horne’s memorable work on Australia as a ‘lucky’ country. ‘ The Rudd essay receives significant coverage in the Guardian.

Rudd takes the current Conservative government to task. Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is dismissed as ‘Tony Abbot with manners’ (ouch!). The current Prime Minister Scott Morrison is vilified as someone whose cultivated image of ‘suburban mediocrity’  is merely a veneer to hide the true colours of a hard-right Pentecostal and Christian ideologue.

Rudd portrays himself as being part of the sensible, but lonely, ‘centre-left’ and lambasts both the ‘chic left’ and the ‘far right’.  He calls for Australia to recommit itself to a large-scale immigration programme and his vision of ‘Big Australia’. He warns the Labour Party that it must take seriously his view that it is ‘at war’  with the noxious ‘Murdoch press’.

It remains to be seen how his views will be received by the mainstream political parties in an election year. Rudd has a flawed personality, but he is shaping up to be a public intellectual whose ideas are worth reflecting on even if one disagrees with them.

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