• Sarah Hyland

Queens of Our Desert

Updated: Mar 4, 2020

It’s showtime.

The concept of servant leadership was discussed in my last blog.

We know well that the British crown takes this approach in her reign and has done so since 1952.

It was wonderful to see The Royal Firm anticipate and lead on climate change solutions by launching the Earthshot environment prize this week. Bill and Kate must have read my blog!

Love them or hate them, it must be acknowledged that the Royals are big on duty. And have learned to read the writing on the wall.

How important is knowing that forewarned is forearmed as part of corporate, political, regal, military, business or any kind of leadership? I’d say that being alive to risk is one of the most important considerations in setting the strategy to achieve your objectives and realise your vision.

Yet many - for bunch of reasons- have chosen not to read the tea leaves. There are more than a few examples of crises that played out tragically and may well have been averted, and we have a responsibility to learn from them.

The way all those with agency in Australia have failed to plan for a known threat [currently playing out on Australian landscape the size of Belgium], reminds me of the fragility and hubris shown by the Soviets at Chernobyl in 1986 and later the Russians with the Kursk in 2000.

Chernobyl and its design flaws, secrecy, and INES level 7 disaster rating was the tipping point that led to glasnost and perestroika.

For the Kursk, it was negligence, incompetence and Putin’s hauteur.

These events have been Netflix and movie worthy. The USSR and Russian brand personalities, identities and ideologies present during these times continue to shape the impressions of new generation of citizens.

So what about Straya?

From Nick O’Malley’s excellent piece in the Sydney Morning Herald :

“Speaking from London, he [Herve Lemahieu, the director of the Lowy Institute's Asian Power and Diplomacy Program], said that as a result of coverage of Australia’s performance in Madrid and of the bushfires Australia is now seen in a different, darker light across Europe. Where once it existed in the popular imagination as a place of almost pristine natural beauty, it is now viewed as the Western nation most ravaged by climate change. It’s reputation as a global citizen has been irrevocably tarnished.”

The immediate effects - on lives, livelihoods, our agriculture, our unique species and on our natural resources - are apparent and devastating.

But what about the identity and values we bring to the table in future climate discussions or trade negotiations?

What will become of our brand essence? Notably as a clean, green and safe food producing nation, stewards of our unique flora and fauna, and a fun, summery holiday destination.

We have been told that we cannot turn off the fossil fuel industry overnight, but we’ve been forced to turn off our tourism industry in a matter of days.

The practice and proof of sustainable values and activities make a difference not only in our own backyard, but on our national character and the role we are permitted to play on the world stage.

Surely, we all have a vested interest in how Australia shows up, the impressions we make and the communiques we send to global citizens on opening night and every night.

Because it is on these messages and proof points that our future depends.

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