Confirmation that Brian Cain will be the candidate for Katter’s Australian Party in the seat of Calare at the next Federal election (“Katter candidate throws hat in ring”, Central Western Daily, Friday, January 25) will make the contest in that seat a fascinating barometer for how regional Australia sees the past and future.
It can be argued that people in the cities and in the country experience time in fundamentally different ways: the country person tending to sense it, most of the time, as an endless prolongation of the past (think of any number of country towns where the same surnames appear on the cemetery headstones, the war memorial, and the school attendance roll).
Rather than country people living in the past, one can more precisely say that the past lives with them. By contrast, the city dweller tends to see the present as a constant prologue to the future (consider the constant demolition and reconstruction of buildings throughout cities). Neither perspective is better than the other, but it is fair to say that there is an identifiable difference.
Without debating the pros and cons of any of the Australian Party’s policies on public ownership, corporate monopolies and free trade (on all of which reasonable minds may differ), it is hard not to be struck by their resemblance to policies that would have been familiar to the pre-World War I governments of Alfred Deakin, John Watson and Joseph Cook.
It will be fascinating to see whether, in making decisions for their future, regional Australians are more persuaded by modern learning or old wisdom.