Boot Camp for Government

The Christmas season typically brings with it a range of excesses that many of us find hard to resist. The celebration of this holy day, followed by slothfully enjoying the Boxing Day Test and then ringing in the New Year typically leaves us feeling worse for wear. The result is usually a few unwelcome additional kilos.

This year I thought I was doing quite well looking after myself until a friend invited me on a ‘fitness walk’ up Adelaide’s highest peak, Mt Lofty.

This 3.8 kilometre trail is a popular trek for runners and walkers of all fitness levels. As a young man and aspiring rower, it was nothing to run to the top and back down as part of our regular training regime. That was the memory seen through my 20-year-old rose coloured glasses when I accepted my friend’s invitation.

Embarking on a crisp and clear morning, the encounters with kangaroos and koalas did little to dampen the pain of using muscles long unaccustomed to the demands now made of them.

It was a painful reminder of the passage of time and the reality of the ‘use it or lose it’ mantra.

What I found so confronting was the fact that I am an active person, with daily walks and a variety of regular callisthenics. I thought I was pretty fit but I was wrong.

Confronted with such gripping evidence of my lack of physical conditioning, I resolved then and there to make 2012 a personal quest to get into better shape.

It meant I needed to enlist the help of some professionals. Rather than join a sterile and boring gym, I enrolled in an army type fitness ‘boot camp’. This is a thrice weekly morning workout with around 60 others of varying athletic ability. It’s run along military lines and inspires teamwork and personal achievement.

Some friends had achieved excellent results through attending with healthy weight loss, gains in strength and higher energy levels. They are a testament to the success of such a rigorous and disciplined program.

Day one was a fitness assessment. It was tough but left the competitive part of me with some very clear goals to achieve in the weeks ahead.

It has always been my belief that we are all goal seeking creatures and that the human spirit is strengthened through having a measurable goal to focus on.

That’s one of the great things about the New Year. It provides a timely excuse to set a challenge for the year ahead. Be it professional, personal or familial, striving to achieve some tangible improvement is fundamental to improving our sense of direction and wellbeing.

For our political leaders the challenge is very similar. Their task is one of inspiring optimism and confidence among the populace in the future of our nation. It means they must implement policies that make sense, sustain scrutiny and effectively achieve their stated outcomes.

It sounds simple enough but somehow the encumbrance of government seems to stifle the process. At least it has with this government.

Despite repeated policy failures, every setback is blamed on external factors or the malfeasance of others. As the trainers at boot camp would say, “it’s time for a reality check”.

Losers blame others for their own inadequacies. Bad governments refuse to accept responsibility for their own errors.

It only takes a cursory examination of this government’s track record to demonstrate just how bad they are. The sagas of pink batts, school building rorts, computers in schools and the carbon tax broken promise cannot be forgotten. The continuing problems of Labor’s failed border protection policy, the white elephant National Broadband Network and even higher taxes ahead suggest the New Year has done nothing to dampen that concern.

Of course the best boot camp for whipping a government into shape is an election. That’s exactly what our country needs in 2012.

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