Our jurassic habits need to die

WE first make our habits, then our habits make us. Our mainstream government and our mainstream media are living proof of John Dryden’s words, written in the late 1600s.

Our State Government and our mainstream media gained the habit of unbridled power through the traditional social contract whereby the citizens of WA happily delegated the authority and responsibilities for governance and for the dissemination of information to these large and powerful institutions.

The deal was that these institutions would make the wisest decisions about the big stuff of life, like education, health, justice, and business development, and what we needed to hear about them, for the good of us all.

We, in turn, would be good little Vegemite citizens working diligently Monday to Friday, nine to five, to pay our taxes, buy a home in the ’burbs, raise our kids to love football and cricket, and vote in all elections – content to let the big guys get on with the bigger stuff.

This system worked rather well for the 200 years of settled history. Until the late 70s and early 80s when the pace of life stepped up, technology expanded our operating arena, and all those foreign nations became mere neighbours in our global village.

Us good little Vegemite citizens travelled more, stayed in education longer, consumed more foreign TV, films, music and science.

We grew more aware, more sophisticated in our seeing and thinking, and more demanding that our delegated authorities – government and media – be more responsible in reflecting our evolving awareness, our growing sophistication, our changing values.

But the old habits of being the boss and telling us what is best for us – those jurassic habits – continue.

A current example of a jurassic habit is the Perth Convention and Entertainment Centre.

Behind closed doors, our government officers and the big developers are fighting like kids in the sandbox over the proposed PCEC.

Their jurassic habits say we do not need to know what is going on even though it is our $100m they are spending.

Amazingly, the so-called privileged information leaks out; the attitude shift obviously includes workers for those old habit government and media heavies.

Had you heard those discussions, you may have been embarrassed for the participants by their inept ability to look at the big picture and make the wisest decisions for the good of all.

You might have been saddened by the bullyboy practices, the schoolyard tradeoffs, and the very, very low moral level of the whole process.

And the mainstream media apparently blocked attempts by its journalists to present an honest and open debate on the PCEC – their stories were not printed.

Old habits may die hard; now they must die quickly.

* Ann Macbeth is a futurist and principal of Annimac Consultants.

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