The Body Politic

Over the next eight weeks I will be undergoing a self-imposed austerity program. It’s an experiment to see the impact of culinary discipline and exercise on one’s physical wellbeing. I won’t be alone.

Others across Australia will be joining me in the “Eight Week Challenge” run by the team that operates Original Bootcamp. Regular readers will know that I have been attending boot camp over the last 12 months. It is great fun and I am fitter and stronger than I have been in years.

However, while I am much more physically active than I have been, there are so many aspects of my diet and lifestyle that would benefit from a more disciplined approach. I imagine that there are many thousands of Australians who are in a similar boat.

My theory is that the many benefits of exercise will only take you so far in your quest for health. Exercise will help you to use more calories, reduce stress and tone up the muscles; but for a real physical transformation, it is diet combined with exercise that makes all the difference. That is the essence of the Eight Week Challenge.

The results achieved by previous participants are simply astounding. Granted, not everyone will end up with the impressive physiques of the previous winners, but everyone who follows the challenge will see some positive results. I know, because many of my fellow ‘boot campers’ did it last year. They have been brimming with pride (and energy) by losing fat and gaining muscle, transforming their wellbeing in only eight weeks.

But making such substantive changes isn’t easy. It takes a lot of discipline and a steely determination. I have no doubt my resolve will be tested on many occasions in the coming two months. That stated, the maxim “that which is worthwhile is seldom easy” comes to mind. It is as applicable to politics as it is to making personal changes.

That substantive change needs to be made in a number of areas of our national governance is beyond question. In fact, both sides of politics agree that changes need to be made; they just have differences about what they should be.

Labor want to see increased media regulation, a state-owned monopoly of our telecommunications system, people prosecuted for offending others with their opinion, a reversal of the onus of legal proof, bigger national borrowings and higher taxes. This is the agenda they have set in place. It is about increasing the power of the state over the individual.

The Coalition has a different idea. We think that lower taxes, more efficient government and more productive businesses will deliver more jobs, higher wages and better services for all Australians. Personal responsibility, individual enterprise and freedom of choice characterise the ideals we believe will drive Australia’s prosperity.

But like any transformation, to embark on this agenda will take courage and strength. It will mean governing for all Australians and the national interest, rather than appeasing the noisy minority. It will mean some of the ‘sugar’ that governments use to sweeten up the electorate will have to be dispensed with. So too will the ‘fast food’ policy approach of throwing money at a problem just so you can appear to be doing something.

It has taken just five years to transform our nation from being on a steady and sustainable course to being on an economically fatal one. Our bureaucracy is now bloated, the fiscal blood pressure is high and the ‘brains’ that are running the country are lethargic. What little muscle is left to keep us moving has been attacked by arthritic taxes and the politics of envy.

Just like the Eight Week Challenge, turning the ship around begins on a single day. We can change the course of our nation on Election Day. Unfortunately, it will take more than eight weeks to get the necessary results we need to restore Australia to sustainable good health.

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