Emerging Leaders Address – Ron Manners AO
March 9, 2023
The easy task I have been given tonight is to talk for a few minutes, but in the back of my mind is a far more challenging task for next month. That is to visit three capital cities in Europe and explain how ”Australia has got it right with all our policies and that our future looks so rosy.”
From a distance, that is how Australia looks. I will try to remember Rule #1; that is, to never disparage your home country, from elsewhere.
From Europe, Australia is difficult to understand.
They can see how Russia is blowing up Ukraine’s power stations, and they watch with fascination how Australia is blowing up our own extremely useful power stations. They wonder what is wrong with us.
Australia is caught up in the midst of a never-ending series of crises, some call it a poly-crisis.
Some of these crises are real and some imaginary but they clutter up our lives and cause many to live in fear. If we familiarise ourselves with all of them, we simply won’t get any work done.
How adversely are these multiple crises affecting Australia’s productivity?
Let me list a few. They range from the so-called Climate crisis, Extinction crisis, Diversity, ESG, Sustainability, Corporate Social Responsibility, Victimhood, Poverty, the World of Woke, the serious Debt Crisis and the belief that this can be solved by taking on more debt and, trying to follow the endless changes to our regulations, taxation, superannuation, franking credits, and currently the attempt to modify our Constitution with The Voice!
Who is to blame for us losing our traditional Australian self-confidence?
How many of you have heard of Antonio Gramsci?
Who knows enough about Gramsci to stand up and explain his significance in three paragraphs? (Six out of 130 attending)
I never met Gramsci, the Marxist strategist, he died a year after I was born, but he was far smarter than our own political and business leaders, in that without us knowing, he left so many seeds of destruction in our culture. We may never recover from what he called his “long march through out institutions”.
Gramsci said, “Socialism is precisely the legend that must overwhelm Christianity…in the new order, Socialism will triumph by first capturing the culture via infiltration of schools, universities, churches and the media, by transforming the consciousness of society…”
He also said, “Every revolution has been preceded by an intense work of cultural penetration, that is to say of new ideas that permeate through human aggregates.”
Gramsci understood that the power of the dominant classes is not only sustained by force but also through the control of the education system, religion, and the media. He understood that culture is the main battlefield of political struggle.
Our Mannkal Foundation is planning a major conference in Fremantle, early next year, to examine the outcome and causes of our deteriorating national culture and ways of breaking that spell, and to “Reclaim Australia”. More details to follow.
How can we restore some rational discourse? What can we do in our own lives, in our families and communities to restore the rational discourse of Western Civilisation that has contributed so much to Australia?
Yes you will identify many people in public life, who are marching to the beat of Gramsci’s drum, and many of them are unaware of his master plan.
Fortunately, there are a few leaders emerging who can effectively restore our confidence. We were fortunate to hear from one such leader tonight, Senator Jacinta Price understands what it is to lead by example.
Jacinta reminded us all what a great country we have. I was reminded of that when noted international economist, Dr. Per Bylund, announced this week, his comprehensive analytical tool called the ‘International Work Migration Index’. This focuses on the bureaucratic procedure and the time it takes to lawfully move from one country to another to start a new life.
It is a guide to those seeking to take that crucial step in their lives and it is a warning to some countries that suffer from having erected too high a barrier that causes them to miss out on the hard work, creativity and prosperity that carefully selected new arrivals could bring.
Per Bylund reminds us that people flee from war, they flee from poverty, they flee from oppression, but they not only flee from ‘something’, they also migrate to ‘something’. And that ‘something’ is what Australians should be focusing on and feeling proud of!
Now, let me mention that Mannkal’s prime purpose of being, is our Student Program – opening the minds of the next generation to the endless ideas and opportunities offered by our modern world. One important aspect is to illustrate that other countries do many things much better than we do, but we just do not seem to hear about it.
Our Covid pandemic response was one such thing.
Other countries managed that situation far better than we did, despite us being told that we were the ‘gold standard’. I was fortunate in attending an international conference in mid-pandemic, where the theme was ‘Rising from the Crisis’. (Where we compared how different countries were responding to the pandemic.)
I had a lot of difficulty leaving Australia to attend the conference and even more difficulty in returning to Australia.
I was the only one of the 370 delegates that had any difficulty leaving or returning to their respective countries.
Now after considerable pressure and, with some reluctance, an official enquiry into out State’s performance has recently been announced. The purpose of this enquiry, into all aspects of our pandemic response, is that we, the citizens deserve to know why we were forced to surrender liberties and what was received in return. All this is to stop us making the same mistakes next time.
Three Commissioners have been appointed.
I personally submitted a four-page summary, on my own experience, to the State Ombudsman, in very polite terms too, but it could be summarised in this rather less polite phrase as a question, “Is it the legitimate role of a State Government to treat their citizens like dog turds?”
I will present this report, to the three Commissioners, before March 16, when submissions close. I certainly did not appreciate my “Gulag” style of treatment. When the coach-load of us (all strangers) were being transported to our Adelaide quarantine hotel (can anyone tell me why I had to quarantine in Adelaide?), one of us had the presence of mind to collect our contact details and establish a WhatsApp Group so we could compare notes during our two weeks of incarceration. Some had far worse experiences than me.
Another current concern of mine is that Investigative Journalism appears to have gone into retreat[i] since the 1980s days when they vigorously covered what we called WA Inc. when our State Government outrageously overstepped their role of governing.
When WA Inc. Mark II appeared last year there was zero coverage by the media and I had to cover it myself in an article entitled WA Inc. II, on our Mannwest website.
Now, let us return to some optimistic aspects of Mannkal’s existence. There are two unintended consequences of Mannkal launching our Scholarship Program, 27 years ago.
One being the ongoing and expanding development of our Mannkal Alumni Network. You certainly heard from two of our active members tonight, being Samuel Cruickshank and James Walker.
This Alumni network, in the true spirit of our voluntary society, maintains active contact not only with Mannkal but with other members of our approximately 2,000 Alumni.
The other surprising aspect is the emergence of our Mannkal Ambassadors. Originated by a few friends approaching me saying, “Ron, we like what you are doing, how can we help?” We enlisted them as Mannkal Ambassadors with a voluntary payment of $1,000 per annum or in-kind assistance and we now have a thriving community ably co-ordinated by our Chief Ambassador, Russell Rieck.
Our Mannkal Ambassadors have emerged as valuable mentors for our in-coming crop of Mannkal scholars.
Any of us who have been fortunate enough to have a mentor during our lives will understand the leverage it gives you on your life’s journey. I was fortunate to have three such mentors during my life.
One of the first, I met when I was 17, he was 10 years older. We met on a mine-site at Bullfinch, near Southern Cross in W.A.’s Goldfields. He went on to become Sir Arvi Parbo AC, Australia’s most influential business figure during the second half of last century.
Arvi had arrived in Australia from war-torn Estonia, graduated as a Mining Engineer from the University of Adelaide and then found himself in the wilderness of Bullfinch, Western Australia.
We maintained a close friendship right up until his death in May, 2019 and he was a constant source of wisdom. I can remember asking him once, “Arvi, what was your first impression when you graduated and then entered the rough and tumble of the workforce?” His answer was, “I had optimistically thought that the world out there would be ready to help me develop my vision and my career. I quickly found that some people would assist me whilst others would hinder such dreams. This was my first confrontation with reality but today (around 2000) it is far worse.”
Arvi continued. “Today when you do something you know that from the first day probably half of the country is working against you in some way or another. Half of the government is working against you. You will have departments in favour of what you are doing, and probably an even number of departments very much against it. They will want to hem you in and stop you from what you are doing, or at the very least, make sure that you can only do it in a restricted manner.”
Another wise saying from Arvi was, “Australia desperately needs less compliance and more performance.”
Those comments were made about 20 years ago and I suspect that today, those getting in the way would be far more than 50%. Anyone starting a business or running an enterprise in Australia would surely agree?
Co-incidentally, last month one of our Ambassadors, Dr Ross Fardon, described today’s business world with these words, “From the surface it looks like a normal world, but underneath are all the white ants and termites going their hardest. And they are ever more powerful.”
Let me stress again the importance of this mentoring role being played by our ambassadors and how fortunate it will be for those scholars who see the potential in gaining early wisdom of such magnitude.
An occasional dose of wisdom up front in your career might save you from belting your head against a brick wall as your career develops.
Now, to conclude tonight’s formalities and allow us to enjoy each other’s company over drinks, I will draw your attention to our great Mannkal team who make it all possible. Our CEO Nicola Wright, our Scholarships Manager Kate Wagstaff, our Company Secretary Judy Carroll, Nathan Cuthbertson, Matthew Lock, Stuart Banks and Jeanie Moullin, Chief Ambassador Russell Rieck and all our Ambassadors, our guest lecturers, plus all our Board Members. Please, all up on stage with all scholars, past & present for our group photo – then we will join you all for refreshments.
And, importantly thank you all, for being with us tonight!
[i] With a few notable exceptions, such as Paul Murray from The West Australian.
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