Gone fishing: zen and the art of being me

I’m on tour. Normally what happens on tour stays on tour. But since the only thing Trappist about me is the beer I drink, I will definitely be spilling what beans there might be about this particular holiday. I’m wintering in Australia. I call it a sabbatical though my Australian wife thinks of it is emigration. We may come to blows in February. However defined, this is my first break in a quarter century, though being a workerist nut with puritan tendencies (well hidden in a sybaritic frame), I’m also doing some consultancy in Oz. I’m not very good with holidays.

Australia is booming while Blighty suffers. That’s interesting. It didn’t really have much of a recession, though I notice that neither the federal Labor government nor the state premiers seem to be getting much respect for this notable achievement. In my experience no good turn goes unpunished so I shouldn’t be that surprised. Also, as my Aussie-phile mate (see, I’m getting there) John McTernan points out, governments need more than their record to get re-elected. They still need to sell a vision of the future – a vision made more credible of course by good performance in power. Still, I’m not sure that Aussies understand quite how fortunate they have been to withstand the credit crunch. This was called ‘the Lucky Country’ decades ago, both by patriots and satirists. Its luck hasn’t got worse since, it seems to me. But then I’ve only been here four days although given my capacity to generalise from unique events this is a very scientific sample.

I shall be giving up the column in Regeneration and Renewal in December – after ten years of noble effort on behalf of the commonweal (not that they noticed). However, I will be continuing with this blog, until I’ve got nothing left to say on Britain, Australia, Wales, the human condition and Arsenal – or until fellow bloggers or readers physically prevent me.

A bientot as the say in the western suburbs of Sydney!

  • Pattycake

    You’ll be missed, Tim. G’day!

  • AndyW

    As someone working in Planning and from the South Wales Valleys (Mountain Ash) I enjoy and share most of your thoughts relating to social and economic issues in Wales.
    I’m glad you’ll be continuing with the blog Tim.

  • tonyclements1

    Tim – is Australia’s avoidance of the worst of the global recession about good economic management, or because they have a lot of valuable stuff buried under ground which they can sell to a still growing Asian market on their doorstep (in as much as anything is on Australia’s doorstep)? I ask in the spirit of enquiry.

    Has this meant that their property bubble has not burst yet? I notice their affordability ratios are now worse than ours in the boom.

  • Dan Hill

    Tim, as a fellow emigrant from the UK, welcome. The key point about the ‘lucky country’ phrase, which can be overlooked, is that it actually went: “Australia is a lucky country, run by second-rate people who share its luck.” The economy has been booming for largely ‘lucky’ reasons i.e. presence of resources as China grows, almost as if on auto-pilot. So your mate’s insight as to “lack of vision” is the key issue people may have with politicians (of all persuasions, it seems), and that was never clearer than during the last extremely second-rate federal election.

    As for property, yes hugely unaffordable, though the rate of increase in prices is slowing a little – but largely still growing as population is growing at a fair clip.

    Anyway, enjoying the blog, ta.

    • Tim

      where are you based? and thanks for the response. I take the point about the Lucky Country though the issue i think is that it needs to use its luck now to invest for the future – and that requires a mature conversation between politicians and people around priorities and about asking whether an over emphasis on consumption now needs to give way to a more strategic approach to longer term interest. Never easy for politicians,that conversation! The whole off balance sheet apporach to PFI and PPP in the UK was almost as much about political timidity and a fear of having that conversation openly than it was about money.



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