In an earlier post, I paid tribute to a former Primer Minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam (1972-5). He was a man with vision and convictions who brought in some amazing innovations in Australia’s development.
The tributes to Whitlam, after his recent death, brought something interesting into Australian life – a realisation of how much the Whitlam government did for people: free, universal health care; free education; support for single parents; land rights for Aboriginal people; rights for women, and much more. None of this existed prior to 1972.
Frankly, I despise the proliferation of mean-minded, fear-mongering career politicians in public life these days, cowering to the Murdoch media empire, in hock to the corporate head honchos, greasing the wheels of billionaire hucksters, waging wars in other people’s countries, chipping away at people’s wages, working and living conditions, hounding the poor and downtrodden, dog-whistling on racism, persecuting asylum-seekers and refugees, enabling the destruction of our environment and turning a blind eye to global warming.
I am not in the least impressed by folksy, cheery, cheesy, back-slapping, war-mongering, huntin’, fishin’ and shootin’ “good guy” politicians like Reagan, Putin, Abbott and George W. Bush. It beats me why people are so enamoured of intellectually bereft leaders.
I admire intellectual, intelligent, gutsy, independent, compassionate and thoughtful, ethical leaders who look to the future with a vision for their nation, not to a past which is over and done with. I admit too that these are thin on the ground. But how about, for a leader, the president of Uruguay – see the article below.
I’ll wind up with a couple of quotes from speeches about Gough Whitlam, leader extraordinaire and a formidably intelligent man who didn’t suffer fools gladly:
“That grand vision to promote equality, to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of our land, and to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.” ALP Senator John Faulkner
“Optimism, enthusiasm; confidence against fear, prejudice, conformity. That is [Mr Whitlam’s] enduring message to the men and women of Australia. Never more than now.” Graham Freudenberg, speechwriter to Whitlam.
And for your information, here’s an article by Adeola Adeyemo:
“The President of Uruguay, José Mujica, is getting world wide recognition and respect for donating 90 percent of his earnings to charitable causes.
He has earned what most people would call an enviable reputation as the “poorest,” or the “most generous,” president in the world. His nickname, “el presidente mas pobre” translates to “poorest president”.
The President said in a recent interview that the only big item he owns is his Volkswagen Beetle car, valued at $1,945 dollars (about N308,283) . He earns a salary of $12,500 a month (N1,981,250), but only keeps $1,250(N198,125) for himself, donating the rest to charity.
He lives in a farmhouse which is under his wife’s name, Lucía Topolansky, a Senator, who also donates part of her salary.
The 77 year-old who has been Uruguay’s president since March 1, 2010 told El Mundo, “I do fine with that amount; I have to do fine because there are many Uruguayans who live with much less.”
It was also reported that under his stewardship, Uruguay has become known for low levels of corruption. The South American country ranks as the second least corrupt country in Latin America in Transparency International’s global corruption index.
Yahoo News reported that the President has no bank accounts, no debts, and he enjoys the companionship of his dog, Manuela. When his term is over, the President hopes to rest even more peacefully in his farmhouse, along with his wife and his inseparable dog.
There is something about leading by example. When you do, it becomes easier for other people to follow.”