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A strange thing happened to me “on the way” to writing this Blog!  I watched TV!  and listened to the radio!

The statements I heard were made by the Prime Minister in an interview post his Davos address and by Bettina Arndt on radio. The statements were relatively small in the scheme of things but I believe quite profound in their essence.

Tony Abbott actually said very simply and very clearly that a country had to create wealth before it could redistribute it!Hardly a novel idea! I can remember 20 years ago during the debates around Award Restructuring and Restructuring the  Australian economy, it was clear that Australia “had to increase the size of the pie” for the benefit of all Australians – somewhere it slipped off the radar!No system has ever changed out of a position of comfort! Maybe as a country we are too comfortable!
Bettina Arndt said that we know children are much better off and safer in stable secure families but researchers are afraid to publish this information for fear of it being too controversial! When did a conversation about the well being of families become controversial? Political correctness?

Business -Wealth Creation:

I cannot remember hearing a political leader actually saying that in recent years.  Maybe they have and it hasn’t been reported but to actually hear it said by a political leader was refreshing. Built on his talk to the Davos leaders about Governments “getting out of the road” and encouraging a business led recovery it actually gives hope that the political debate might be changing.
To frame an intelligent and informed debate that includes wealth creation and wealth redistribution is a critical element of the future of the country.

Stable Secure Families:

As a part of the conversation on the $200 voucher for Marriage Education, Bettina Arndt left me in no doubt that the research everywhere in the world was conclusive. Children nurtured in stable secure families were much better off (in every respect?) That’s not really a surprise! So why is it controversial?
If 30% of children are born into ex “stable and secure” families why are we not talking about it and why is it difficult to talk about it?
There is much evidence that young men without a strong father figure experience a whole range of consequences – none of them positive?
It is hard to believe that in a well educated socially advanced country, these  issues are not front and centre in our national psyche and the subject of debate every day.
It maybe argued that there are more important issues:
Climate change, Education,Health,Immigration and Industrial Relations are all important issues –  but at the basic level there are two social units which are the platform on which every society I can name are built:
1.        A Robust Business System which creates genuine wealth for the communities which it serves and:
2.        A Stable Secure Family System which nurtures and protects children until they can thrive on their own
It seems to me that much of our wealth redistribution efforts are directed at supporting the people and communities who “fall through the cracks” in two of the
platform institutions in our society.In the thinking about strategy it is just as important to build support and capitalise on strengths as it is to eliminate weaknesses. Maybe in Australia we need to focus on the real strengths of our community and our nation?In a paper I wrote on Australian business culture in 1990 I raised the question:Would Australia be a model for other countries as a result of the Restructuring that was occurring at that time?As it happened we are.  We can proudly say because of some things our leaders did both business and govermment, we have a robust economic system that has performed well during a time when many other systems faltered.Will we be able to say the same when my grandchildren are entering the workforce?

The work of business and the work of families is absolutely critical to the future of Australia – the consequence of not making these two institutions front and centre in our cultural debate is both “debilitiating and demoralising.”

The hope for our future is these two institutions working well!

Ben Kehoe

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