Mainland lacks Tasmania's strong sense of community

DEAR Tasmania,

By the time you read this I will have departed your shores.

It was nothing you said, or did that drove me away - it was just time to return to "Mal-ben" (yes, that is how you should pronounce Melbourne), which has always been home.

There are certainly plenty of things that I will miss.

Where else can I use the term "mainland"?

Or, find a park outside the venue I'm going to (rockstar style) rather than four suburbs over?

Or, bump into people I know, or have just met, every day down the street?

With such close connections, Tasmania, comes a strong sense of community that is played out in so many acts of generosity and kindness that are often missing in bigger cities.

When I told people the news of my departure one by one - now I can see the appeal of a press conference - they all had ideas about what I should put in my last column.

Plenty were keen for "a verbal hazing", although my boss will be relieved to find there is no defamatory material here.

One person suggested I should talk about the politicians I found most inspirational.

I couldn't think of any, which looks harsh in black and white.

To explain, I admire aspects of certain politicians - like Premier Lara Giddings' composure, former Greens senator Bob Brown's conviction and Bass Liberal MHA Peter Gutwein's sharp attacks during debate - but there aren't any politicians that I look to for inspiration.

Right now, so much of politics is driven by popularity. No policy is released until a party has "canvassed" the hell out of it. No speech can be given before it is workshopped by a team of advisers within an inch of its life.

It only takes a tweak there, to appease that lobby group, and a tweak over here, to attract the votes of a certain age group, for the original intent and clarity of an idea to become watered down, or lost.

Leaders, by very definition, are out in front. You don't lead by plodding behind the mob or by waiting to sniff the direction of popular opinion.

Inspirational leaders always have a vision that others want to be part of, and the ability not just to articulate it but also to carry it out. They lead, without leaving behind.

There are no deep thinkers in our parliaments, because in a 24-hour media cycle there is no time for deep thought.

Instead, we are told virtually every week that voters prefer a certain leader in the latest poll.

When I speak to people they talk about disliking most politicians and, particularly, both our federal leaders. They intend to vote for whoever they dislike the least.

It's depressing, not inspirational, to think that no matter what happens on September 14 Australia will be led by someone the people tolerate rather than admire.

Some will say we always get the government we deserve.

But I've met Tasmanians who have devoted their life to a career of giving, including teachers who know students by name and nurses with endless compassion.

Most recently, I met people who were close to losing their own homes in the bushfires going without sleep to help others affected. Their lives had been turned upside down, but at the end of telling a harrowing story they would always say: "Oh sure, it's sad, but don't worry about me - help that person over there. They are worse off."

I hope you do end up with the inspirational leaders you deserve, Tasmania. They could do worse than look to those to whom they should be leading: men and women with ideas, drive, passion, foresight and compassion. In the meantime, keep your chin up.

Best wishes, Dinah.


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