This heading was inspired by an interview with a previous prime minister (our first woman) last night; her first interview since she was deposed. I always feel that our political systems, both here and in the UK are not a good way to elect our leaders although I am not sure the Americans, or any other country, has a better one.
The two Australian Prime Ministers I really admired, as I know many others do, were Paul Keating and Julia Gillard, who were to me real visionaries. What is interesting is that both of them went on to have another life after politics, in both cases in academia. The rest seem to sit around hoping the phone will ring to ask their opinion on something, a decreasing possibility the longer they are out of politics. The longer this drags on the more pathetic they seem to become.
I’m not the only one to feel that our political scene is being more and more manipulated by the media which makes the situation even more frightening. Julia told the story last night that two of our newspapers, including one we should be able to respect, had both printed a completely false report that she and her partner had split up. The influence of the media is even more scary when we realise that the current holder of the office of Prime Minister had the backing of a very large newspaper group, owned by a foreigner who presumably felt that Tony Abbott would best suit his financial goals.
So how does this fit in with ageing, the focus of my interest? Once they leave office our Prime Ministers are very nicely provided for financially, with a generous pension and support staff no matter what their age. This means that they don’t need to do anything else in their lives, no matter at what age they leave office. Both Keating and Gillard have moved on to new careers, in academia, so that the real talents they have, which are not dependant on party numbers and/or media backing, can continue to be utilised by the country. Isn’t this what we as a nation should be aiming for, so that our achievements and contributions are lifelong, not just a fleeting moment, whether what we do is paid or otherwise? These should be our aims at a time when our lives are being elongated thanks to improvement in our knowledge of healthy living and in medicine.
It will be interesting to see whether these two recent prime ministers, who have had enough talent to go on to other careers, will be judged by history as outstanding contributors to our country compared with others who seem to move on to obscurity. The introduction of support for the disabled will certainly enter Julia Gillard’s name into history.
For all of us I believe we are accountable for our whole lives, even if it only to leave a legacy for our grandchildren and those who come after us. After all how much poorer our lives would be if some of our great composers and musicians for example had called it a day when they reached 65.