Review: In Search of Good Government: Great Expectations & Political Amnesia

In Search of Good Government: Great Expectations & Political AmnesiaIn Search of Good Government: Great Expectations & Political Amnesia by Laura Tingle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Are you perturbed by the current state of Australian political and public discourse? Do you feel disillusioned by what you read in the media? Then this book is a ‘must read’ for you!

The bringing together of two previously published essays, one on political expectations in Australia and the other on the cost of amnesia brought about by a failure to understand history, together with a new examination of current expectations surrounding the premiership of Malcolm Turnbull. It is, as you might expect from an author of the calibre of Laura Tingle, a masterful coverage of the political landscape of Australian politics.

Lamenting the loss of expertise and institutional memory through a ongoing denudement of the Australian Public Service in favour of external consultants, and highlighting the way in which Australians have developed a historical expectation of their governments to do things for them, Tingle makes it clear why things are now the way they are. And the way things are now is not always a good thing, yet the reason why Australians believe that to be the case is not immediately known to citizens because they have not critically analysed the nature of the Australian political settlement. It is, Tingle contends, only by look to where we’ve come from, both by looking to history and the institutional memory that used to exist in institutions like the Public Service, that Australia and Australians can fully grasp the significance of the present.

Drawing on her vast experience and knowledge of Australian politics, Tingle makes a compelling case of her central theses, drawing them out through a masterful command of the English language. Peppered with examples drawn from the public record, and from her own interviews and conversations with various individuals, Tingle’s argument is convincing and sensible.

This book is highly recommended for anyone wishing to understand how the current state of Australian politics and public discourse has come to be. One can only hope that through reading it, people might be drawn to pause and reflect before continuing with the status quo.

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