CONVERSATIONS ABOUT AUSTRALIAN society with visitors of a certain political stripe inevitably end at the same point. No matter their background – whether it is an Iranian pro-democracy activist or a French university student – after hearing low-level grumbling about local politics, they ask: "Where are the street protests? Why are Australians so quiet?" References to anti-Iraq War demonstrations in 2003, when up to one million Australians took to the streets, mean little as they counter: "Where are these people now?"
Media reports marking ten years of the Howard government followed a pattern. Opinion polls registered high levels of support for the Coalition – especially for its economic management and "border protection". Oversized photos of the Prime Minister, arms stretched upwards, filled the press. One newspaper asked whether Australia had become a "meaner" country. Undoubtedly, it has become less politically engaged and more compliant.
Already a subscriber? Sign in here