#008 A Greater Purpose

A conversation with former Australian Liberal Party leader John Hewson


Today we’re featuring a conversation with one of the world’s most prominent political elders - former Australian Federal Liberal Party leader, and now Professorial Fellow at the Australian National University, John Hewson. 

Dr John Hewson. Pic: ABC.

Dr John Hewson. Pic: ABC.

We need a sense of national purpose and national interest - a genuine sense - where people will be prepared to reduce the significance of their own vested interests from the point of view of what’s better for the nation. And, until we get there, it’s going to be very difficult to make real change because as long as people stay with their narrow vested interests, you know, we are not going to make much progress.
— John Hewson

In recent years, John has become an increasingly admired figure across the political spectrum, as a powerful advocate for more leadership, transparency, responsible investment, and evidence-based policy. This is particularly in the context of the inter-related global challenges of climate change, a possible further financial crisis, and so-called ‘post-truth’ politics. 

So it was a real pleasure to receive a call from John upon our arrival in Canberra recently, welcoming a conversation. It became an even greater pleasure as John’s level of candour, depth, insight, humour and care became more apparent. 

Most Australians probably still recall John from his contesting of the 1993 federal election for the Prime Ministership. But he’s a bit like the life-long musician who had a few years in a famous pop band. The rest of his life has featured an extensive array of studies, achievements and experience, across a range of sectors and senior positions globally. 

We talk about his frustrations and great concerns – the precariousness of our financial and ecological systems, the hollowness of money and economic growth for their own sake, and the difficulty current systems are having grappling with all this. 

And we talk about his proposals for change, his experiences of dealing with vested interests, the great potential of the youth vote in particular, but also of a broad movement based on a greater sense of national purpose. 

We also gain more of a sense of the deeply felt purpose driving John; a purpose that sees corporate responsibility as about culture rather than charity, acting beyond our own immediate interests for the good of the whole, and an openness to learn from each other.

Anthony's co-host for this conversation is former senior corporate executive and former colleague at The Rescope Project, Keith Badger. And kind enough to join them in a cosy corner downstairs from his ANU office in Canberra, here’s John Hewson.

Production by Ben Moore & Anthony James. 

Title pic sourced from fambiz.org.au.



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