It is difficult, perhaps even impossible, at this point in time for anyone who felt genuinely optimistic about the opportunity for Australia to embrace and implement progressive change to muster hope. The shock certainly makes it harder.
But if the alternative is to give up and accept that working towards a more equitable and compassionate country willing to protect and prioritise the environment and level the playing field is unattainable? Hope is the only answer.
It has been said, many times, that a person’s true character is revealed in the way they respond to defeat. For anyone who went to the ballot box on Saturday, or in the weeks before, seeking change the election result is a test of our mettle. It’s tough.
The reasons for wanting change haven’t changed but the circumstances have. We are no longer on the cusp of an election. The Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and the Liberal party, received a mandate from Australians to lead. In a functioning, civil democracy like Australia’s that has to be accepted.
But accepting a Liberal government does not mean accepting that change isn’t possible. It doesn’t render ambitions of action on climate change or women null and void. It means continuing to make the case for change and pursuing it however we can.
There is no understating the power of government to effect wholesale change but government is not the only way to achieve or create change. During the past ten years business, for example, have stepped up on certain issues where the government didn’t.
The support of big business in the marriage equality campaign was hugely influential in delivering an outcome the Australian public wanted even when there were members of the government of the day actively fighting it. A number of employers have introduced radical and generous paid parental leave policies in recent years to address the issue of how men and women balance work and family, an issue the government has largely ignored.
Future Super has fully divested from companies with no women on boards.
These are small changes but they go to show what is possible.
As individuals, leaders, employers, employees, consumers, parents and investors we all have the ability to influence change in big and small ways. It is now more critical than ever before that we recognise that and are discerning about the power we wield.