Thursday, January 24, 2008

Postcode, by Wayne Swan

This is your classic boring book. While the subject matter is salutary, the execution is dire. Wayne Swan writes like a dutiful school student fulfilling an essay request. He does all his homework, provides the graphs and the detailed bibliography. Alas, his writing is so unbelievablely dull. Surely politicians are not designed to be such boring technocrats? Reading his rallying cry to Australia’s poor, Postcode, you get the distinct impression that Swan does not venture beyond government departmental reports and the like.

It’s a shame that this book is such unfriendly reading, because I believe that Swan, after looking through all the statistics, and experiencing himself the plight of Australians who are less well off, does genuinely worry about Australia’s poor.

During such hey days of what seems like a constantly booming economy, Swan has shown that there is still an underbelly in Australian society that has not done well from the boom. His most convincing argument, and one that I agree with wholeheartedly, is that it is important for the country’s continuing economic health that people who are struggling be given a helping hand, whether it be education or health or what have you. A poor child given an excellent education and good health care and access to facilities will end up earning a bomb and providing a good revenue source (taxes).

Alas, this is a really dull book. Or was it just me? Maybe I just can’t concentrate on important studies and their mind boggling statistics.

I can’t really recommend that you read this book. Swan is saying that there is a problem here that the Howard Government has failed to recognise and address (the book was written in 2005). Now Swan is Treasurer it is his chance to show that he is serious about combating Australian poverty.

If you do decided to read this book, it will be a good reminder that not everyone in Australia is doing that well, and that in a rich country that should not be the case.

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