When I called into the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel on the NSW South Coast over the break, it was nice to spend time with Australians from all walks of life who had a positive outlook.
Locals, holiday makers staying at caravan parks, small business people from western Sydney, surf lifesavers, fishing and rural fire service members, professionals, kids, mums, retirees, pensioners. It was refreshing.
I wasn’t there on any political visit, just holidaying with Jen and the girls enjoying the flathead and chips like everyone else.
There was no sign of the angry mob on social and in other media, shouting at each other and telling us all what we’re supposed to do, think and say.
It was a great reminder that there are quite a lot of us who actually think Australia is a pretty great place and we don’t really have too much time to be angry. We’re too busy dealing with our own challenges and getting on with life.
And when we get the time to sit back and think about it, we are thankful that whatever we are facing, we are dealing with it in Australia as Australians.
So to provide some balance to the angry noisy voices, here is a summary of the unshouted views I’ve been picking up from us quieter Australians.
Firstly, we’re a lot more interested in everyday life.
We want jobs. We want our economy to be strong. We want our incomes to keep up with the cost of living - electricity prices, child care, our mortgage, private health insurance - and even better, allow us to get ahead. This tends to stress us out, but we are dealing with it.
We get that we have to pay taxes, and we get annoyed at those who dodge them, but we want our taxes to be as low as possible. So the politicians need to keep their spending under control and stop wasting money.
We want the services we rely on like Medicare and affordable medicines through the PBS taken care of, full stop. We want our kids to be safe and not get bullied at school and to spend time with them as a family as often as possible. We just want to see a smile on their faces.
That said, we worry about the world our kids are going to live in. It’s all much more complicated now.
Of course we worry about their education, the skills they need, the jobs and houses. But we have all heard about kids who haven’t been able to cope, eating disorders, depression and the tragic and devastating impact this has on families.
It scares the hell out of us.
We want to get paid and treated fairly at work, and with respect. Not much to ask. And we don’t like getting ripped off or being played for mugs, especially when others take advantage of our generosity or better natures.
We’re more than happy to pay for a welfare system that looks after those who are less fortunate or doing it tough, but welfare should never be a free ride. There should be rules and obligations and at the end of the day the best form of welfare is a job.
We reckon small and family businesses and farmers deserve a go, because we know they work hard, that they’re passionate about what they do, and they are part of our community.
We want to take care of our environment, especially locally. It’s where we live and play. We’re sympathetic to the big global environmental issues, because we really do care about the world we’re leaving for our kids.
But we’re not going to sign up to destroy our economy because of the extreme views of some. The rest of us know we have to balance many other responsibilities.
We know that traditional sources of energy like coal and gas will be around for a quite a while yet, but we know more of our energy is coming from renewables.
It’s happening and it makes sense in the long run. So let’s just have a sensible plan and get on with it.
But please, can we do it without being asked to pay higher taxes or shell out unaffordable taxpayer funded subsidies for the privilege. Just keep it sensible. We’ll get there.
We also get that we need to do our bit in the world for the environment.
Australians can always be counted on to make and keep our commitments, but Australians must always come first.
Of course we want our schools and hospitals to be well funded. That’s what the Government is supposed to do.
But surely we can do this without having to raise taxes all the time. That just makes it harder on all of us. Spend taxpayers money more carefully and make sure the economy is running well. That will pay for it.
Leave our taxes alone, we already pay too much.
And we’ve been around long enough to know that it’s not only about the money. Give me a good teacher for my kids over a new school hall any day.
And we have nothing at all against migrants. Migrants helped build this country. Seriously, just because we are frustrated with traffic jams or crowded trains, does not mean we want to shut the place down or insult our neighbours.
Those who want to hate don’t speak for me.
Just keep population growth under control by getting the migration settings right, make sure we build the houses and roads we need and get new migrants into jobs and not onto welfare.
That done, how good is it in Australia that we all get along as well as we do. We’d like to keep it that way.
We’d be a pretty dull lot without Australians from so many peoples from so many different backgrounds, starting with our indigenous Australians who were here first and who we respect.
As for religion, it’s our own personal business. What you believe is up to you, and no-one should give you a hard time about it. Just don’t tell us what to believe, or use your religion as an excuse to not obey our laws.
The same goes for sexuality. It’s your life, live it as you’re free to do and good luck to you.
And we want to be kept safe.
Whether it’s protecting our kids online, protecting women and older Australians from cowards who abuse them or our families when we are at the beach, local park or mall, or from extreme radical Islamic terrorists who should be called out for exactly who they are. This is the Government’s most important job.
We also expect those who we ask to do this job, our police and our defence forces, to get the resources they need and respect they deserve, this includes our veterans. Thank you for your service.
We know that Australia is not perfect, but we’d rather be here than anywhere else in the world.
Sure there are things we could have done better and must do better in the future. But there is no place like Australia and we’d like to keep it that way.
This is where I sit and what I believe.
I won’t be dragged off to the right or left or intimidated by the shouting. I’ve always had my feet firmly planted in the same place they’ve always been.
Family, hard work, common sense, respect, responsibility, a fair go for those who have a go and being prepared to help others.
This has always been what has driven me.
It seems I found a few fellow travellers at the Heads Hotel. It’s worth a visit. Tell Col I sent you and say hi.