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Dr Don Russell, PhD MEc BEc (Hons)(First)

The level of public frustration and disengagement with political leaders has never been higher. At the same time, the problems we need them to deal with, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, a crisis in aged care and accelerating climate change, are immediate and urgent. The system is designed to make our politicians accountable, so why are so many of them failing us, and why is there a crisis of confidence in their ability to rise to the challenges we face? Is our system so flawed that we have lost the capacity for progress? Or has our political establishment lost its way, and is it now betraying the people it is meant to serve while undermining its own legitimacy? Based on his experience working closely with a large number of ministers and their private offices, both at the federal and state level, and his time in the United States, Don Russell reflects on politicians, the political process and the role of government, and explains why our political leaders are as they are. Drawing on his experience, including his involvement in the golden age of public policy of the Hawke/Keating years, and his observations on Australia’s early success responding to the pandemic, he suggests that there is a pathway that can lead to dramatically better outcomes for the country and more satisfying and longer careers for our politicians. People want their elected officials to be informed, to be capable and creative, to be able to devise solutions that work, and then to be able to explain those solutions and bring the community with them. They want their elected officials to lead.

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