Monday 17 Sep 2018 | 21:21 | SYDNEY
Monday 17 Sep 2018 | 21:21 | SYDNEY

Nelson caught between hope and fear


Sam Roggeveen


19 March 2008 09:53

In a major speech to the National Press Club yesterday, Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said we Australians 'should ultimately see ourselves as outward looking, competitive, intensely compassionate human beings'. It was disappointing, then, that in the single paragraph he devoted to foreign and security policy, Nelson abandoned that kind of uplift to indulge in what was predictable political territory for the Coalition after 9/11:

My children’s generation is facing something that isn’t all that easy to see in day-to-day life, but it is resurgent totalitarianism which in the form, in the main, of Islamic extremism throughout the world and we have to be clear about precisely what we stand for and what we will do with our allies throughout the world.

Nelson speaks somewhat extemporaneously on occasion, which accounts for the muddled diction of the quote. But the sentiment is clear: be afraid. This strikes me as the very opposite of the outward looking and compassionate disposition Nelson rightly admires in Australians, and of the 'relaxed and comfortable' mindset that brought John Howard to power. It is also out of proportion to what is a serious but containable threat. I hope over the next three years Coalition foreign policy will offer more than just fear.