Robert Manne Speaks on the Great Australian Complacency

(Click to watch video.)

(Click to watch video.)

When Donald Horne described Australia as the ‘lucky country’ in 1964, it was with some degree of irony. What Horne described was a culture - and a political elite - characterised by complacency. Four and a half decades later, what’s changed? Very little, according to some prominent Australians. In 2005, Ross Garnaut spoke of complacency in relation to economic reform. Last year at the Wheeler Centre, Lindsay Tanner spoke of our complacency as the result of two decades of uninterrupted economic boom. Even casino baron James Packer has complained that the way Australia is being marketed overseas is tired and outdated.

In this video of last Thursday’s Lunchbox/Soapbox event, Robert Manne speaks of the complacency of our political culture. Manne argues that the 2000 Sydney Olympics marked the death knell of an innovative, distinct Australian culture. During the Howard reign Australia took refuge in the “triumphalism” of the anglophone West and in the process, Manne says, we lost the edge that had characterised Australian culture for the preceding 25 years. Instead, we’ve taken refuge in a militarised nationalism championed by the “right-wing commentariat”.