Out of genuine curiosity, I visited your website to find out what this ‘Reclaim Australia’ malarkey is all about. You all seem to be very worked up, so I’m hoping this letter lets you off the hook and gives you your weekends and evenings back to enjoy this great country we live in, free of hatred and bitterness. You’re welcome.
First of all, the name of your movement is a problem. ‘Reclaim’ is defined as ‘to get back (something that was lost or taken away)’. You say you want to ‘reclaim Australia’, so I can only assume that you think you have lost Australia, or Australia has been taken from you and that you want to get it back. From my experience of the English language, in order to get something back, that something would have to belong to you in the first place. So are you saying you own Australia? I hope you’re not, because I find it very upsetting to think my country is owned by anyone. I live in a free democratic society. It is not owned by you. It does not belong to the government. UK’s Royal Family don’t own Australia. The fact is, Australia doesn’t belong to anyone. Because everyone who lives in Australia belongs to it. Every single person. Those born here. Those who used to live somewhere else and now live here. Every Australian from every age group, gender, religion, cultural background, occupation, absolutely everyone who calls Australia home for a long time or a short time, everyone who goes to bed each night and wakes up each morning in Australia, belongs to Australia. Not the other way around. I hope you understand this important distinction. There is no way to reclaim something that doesn’t belong to you, so therefore there is no logical way to reclaim Australia. I’m glad we’ve cleared this up.
Another mistake you seem to have made in revving up fear, anger and hatred towards your fellow Australians, presumably because you are scared of anyone who is not like you, and of people who experience Australia differently than you do, is to accuse one particular group of Australians of taking Australia away from you. I find this idea ridiculous. If you don’t like the religion of Islam, don’t be Islamic. If you don’t like Islamic cultural practices, don’t practice them. If you don’t like Islamic people, leave them alone. They’re not hurting you, so why are you attacking them?
I don’t like seafood so I don’t eat seafood. Everyone else in my family likes seafood, and when they are enjoying their seafood, it doesn’t upset me because I have chosen to eat something else instead, such as chicken. I don’t rally against their prawns. I don’t throw their whiting at the wall in anger and make placards and whip up fellow non-seafood-eaters into a frenzy, organising hate rallies and unleashing gangs of face-tattooed-thugs to tell seafood eaters they are taking something from me that wasn’t mine in the first place.
Not that it’s any of your business, but I happen to be an atheist and have zero interest in any religion. But just like I don’t care if my family eats seafood, I don’t care if the family next door goes to church and worships a God I happen to believe doesn’t exist. I don’t care if the family next door goes to a Mosque and worships a different God I happen to believe doesn’t exist. Why don’t I care? Because other people’s seafood eating, and religious worship has no impact on my life and is therefore none of my business.
In this article a Reclaim Australia organiser, John Oliver, is quoted as saying ‘the vast majority of Reclaim supporters … are ordinary mums and dads’. If by ordinary, you mean racist, sure, they’re ordinary. In fact Islam isn’t a race but you’re still all racists and bigots and yes, I do call a spade a ‘spade’. I don’t like the idea of ‘mums and dads’ behaving in this way, taking their children to hate rallies, spreading lies about peaceful Australia loving Islamic Australians, bringing up children to fear and reject people who are different rather than embracing diversity and enjoying the cultural benefits of a multicultural and therefore, interesting, society. But really, if you want to be a racist bigot, that’s your business. I just wish you wouldn’t parade it around the streets where my family and friends are frightened by it.
Reclaim Australia is not about defending, in your words, ‘Aussies and Christianity, our holidays and celebrations, Christmas and Easter and ANZAC day’ as you may have noticed that these things are all safe and well and continuing as they always have without you needing to help them in any way. Reclaim Australia is not about ridding Australia, in your words, of ‘the ways of Islam’, including cultural considerations, Halal, forced segregation, female genital mutilation (which by the way also happens in Christian cultures), Sex Trafficking (also not an ‘Islamic’ problem) and wife beating (which you might have noticed is at epidemic proportions across all demographics in Australia, why don’t you rally against that?). Your website says ‘They have no place here in Australia’ and it’s clear by ‘they’ you mean anyone who is not white like you. But you’re wrong about this. All Australians belong to Australia. What there really is no place for is racism and bigotry, hate, violence and your scary, angry, unhinged and often armed brand of white-supremacy-extremism.
Frankly, the very thought of your organisation existing, and people who I possibly stand next to at the supermarket, and drive with on the roads, and maybe even live nearby, supporting your cause is terrifying. Terror. Terrorism. See what you’re doing? You’re terrorising Australia. If that’s what you set out to do, then *fist pump*, well done, you’ve achieved it. If you feel so sad that you don’t ‘belong’ in Australia anymore that you need to organise hate rallies against Australian society on our previously peaceful streets, maybe it is time you considered belonging somewhere else. Maybe you should leave Australia in peace.
Shorten is like your ex-boyfriend who everyone wanted you to marry, but you just weren’t that into him. Your mum thought he was a nice boy. Your friends said he was a vast improvement on the dickheads you dated previously. He was easy to like. He wanted so much to be liked. The more everyone around you told you he was ‘a good guy’ and that you should settle down with him, the more your heart panicked and looked elsewhere. You liked him a lot. You even loved him. But you weren’t in love with him. So you broke up because no matter how right he was on paper, your head just couldn’t convince your heart he was the right man for you.
The electorate’s preference for political leaders is not rational. Just like dating and relationships, love and marriage, political preference is complicated. There are emotions at play when marking the ballot box which most voters don’t even consciously feel. But these emotions make or break political leaders. For example, it is becoming increasingly clear that the country’s emotional reaction to the Labor leadership battles of Rudd and Gillard are completely different from Turnbull’s knifing of Abbott. The news media has a huge influence on this reaction. Gillard was framed as the villain and never recovered her political legitimacy. Turnbull is framed as the hero who slayed Abbott – a leader the electorate had taken a deeply emotional dislike to. None of this is rational. It is politics.
So why don’t voters like Shorten?
As a matter of fact, I seem to be rare amongst Labor voters in that I do like Shorten and I think he would make a good Labor Prime Minister. When he cracks a grin, you see his affable personality shine through. His zingers are clumsily authentic and seem to amuse his audience. He genuinely listens to people. I’ve seen him speak many times to the Labor faithful and he is passionate, erudite and charismatic. He has led a united Labor opposition, without a hint of the disunity of the Rudd and Gillard era. Watching the Labor front bench in parliament, their body language makes it look like everyone is behind Bill. Not just because he’s their leader but because they share his Labor values. As do I. But regardless of how rusted-ons like me feel, and how his colleagues feel, the emotional reaction to Shorten from the majority of voters, left, right and swinging, is tepid. It sometimes seems like I’m watching a different person than the Shorten described by many as ‘beige’. First Dog on the Moon can’t even remember his name.
No matter what Shorten does or says, his unpopularity is apparently sticky and the more he tries to get voters to listen to him, the worse it seems to get. He is also suffering from a case of being damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t. For example, he is damned for supporting Rudd, then Gillard, then Rudd again. But the only reason he was able to be so influential in these leadership contests was because he has strong allegiances in the party which he is now using to lead a stable team. He spent his career before politics standing up for workers, which you would think workers might appreciate. But low and behold a recent survey shows Australians trust their bosses more than they trust unions. See what I mean about emotions winning out over rationality? And even when the only dirt Abbott’s witch hunt of a union Royal Commission could find on Shorten was that he had good relationships with both workers and business owners, negotiating to make sure an infrastructure project was delivered on time, an outcome in everyone’s best interest, even when he handled himself well under the scrutiny of being in a ‘witness box’ with a Liberal plant aggressively interrogating him, voters are still not interested in what Shorten has to say. It doesn’t mean, by the way, that they hate him. The major problem for Shorten, and in turn Labor, is that Australia’s emotional reaction to him seems to be one of yawning indifference. Ask anyone on the street which policies Labor has released this year and I’m confident most would have trouble naming a single one. But there have been many, and they are good policies. The ABC quoted Shorten recently as saying ‘I believe if Labor keeps working on policies, the polls will look after themselves’. But this view is reliant on the mistaken idea that voters are rational. Human beings are emotional. Australian human beings just aren’t listening to Shorten.
Is there anything Shorten and Labor can do?
There is always hope. I’m not talking about ‘hope’ for Shorten’s career. I mean there is always the emotional reaction to ‘hope’ that Shorten can appeal to. Back in August, when Shorten’s unpopularity wasn’t as big an issue, because Abbott was so unpopular a mouldy onion would have beaten him in an election, I suggested to Labor that their election campaign should be a mixture of hope and fear, encapsulated in a story about how Labor’s brighter future can overcome Abbott’s wrecking ball. Hope and fear are strong emotions and, I believe, are the most important ‘feels’ for political candidates. Shorten is doing his best to stake his claim on a ‘better future’, with forward-thinking policies and all the stats and facts you ever need to explain why Labor’s plan is rationally credible. But what’s missing is Shorten’s personal, gritty, in-your-face appeal to a hopeful tomorrow. He is missing his own emotion of hope. What does ‘Shorten hope’ look like? Shorten needs to tell us about his hope for the future. Shorten needs to be emotional. He needs to put down the rehearsed lines and the market-tested phrases and just talk to Australians about how he feels. He needs to explain how he felt about the Rudd and Gillard years (presumably not great), and how he hopes for a brighter future for Labor now that the stain of disunity is gone. He needs to show the passion and emotion of a man who is hopeful that his policies will make Australia a better place so that we all feel hopeful too. This is not just about getting ‘real’. This is about Shorten wearing his heart on his sleeve and admitting he’s not being heard, and respectfully asking Australians to listen. Asking Australians to give him a chance. Showing that he’s genuinely, emotionally, committed to making a difference. Asking Australians to put their hope in him while he puts his hope in them. Hope for better politics. Hope for better policies. Hope for better outcomes for all Australians. Replace hopeless with hopeful. If Shorten can bring hope, there is hope for Labor yet.
Putting aside the fact that Gillard was treated as a back-stabbing-murderess after she replaced Kevin Rudd as PM. Putting aside that she was labelled ‘the illegitimate PM’ even after she went straight to an election to let the ‘people decide’ and then won, but for some reason was then even more ‘illegitimate’ presumably because she led a minority government and it suited Abbott’s Liberals and their mates in the media to paint this as unstable when really it was the most productive government Australia has ever had. Putting aside the grand hypocrisy of none of these labels ever being assigned to Malcolm Turnbull when he plotted and schemed and white anted and undermined and destabilized and finally got what we all knew he wanted because he was quite openly campaigning for it: Abbott’s job. Putting aside that he hasn’t gone straight to an election and is instead intent of pretending he was legitimately chosen by the people to be PM when he quite clearly was not. Putting aside all these things which really make me so mad I could lose my mind, except that I won’t because it’s all so predictable that the Liberals would have their own leadership spill and it goes completely unnoticed by the mainstream media like a massive ‘meh’, when Labor’s leadership spill was the only thing the media wanted to talk about. For 5 years. What I really want to discuss today is the fascinating situation of Turnbull’s Prime Ministership where he can do NO WRONG, according to the mainstream media, and anything that does go wrong in his government is, incredibly, coincidentally, conveniently, somehow painted as still the last guy’s problem. Still Abbott’s fault. Except Abbott isn’t the PM anymore. Turnbull is. How the hell does Turnbull get away with this bullshit? He reminds me of the classic quote from the classic movie, Shawshank Redemption, but replace ‘Andy Dufresne’ with ‘Malcolm Turnbull’: Malcolm Turnbull – who crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side. How? How is Turnbull squeaky clean after all the crawling through shit he’s been up to?
Take, for instance, the horrific and tragic case of rape victim and asylum seeker, ‘Abyan’. Dutton is in a bit of hot water over this. That’s not to say Dutton is in as much hot water as an Immigration Minister should be who has denied an asylum seeker, a frightened young woman, the dignity and human rights any human being deserves, for political gain. But there is some criticism of the way Dutton has handled this situation, such as here, here and here. And you will notice in this Dutton-criticism, Turnbull is either given a cursory mention, or not mentioned at all. As if he’s somehow not involved in this situation. As if he’s floating situation, detached, uninvolved, an innocent bystander. As if somehow Dutton wasn’t chosen to continue in his evil role of Immigration Minister in the new Turnbull government, and therefore doesn’t report to Turnbull like an employee reports to an employer, where the employer is ultimately responsible for the decisions made by that employee and liable for any damage done by that employee. Why is Turnbull not being held liable? How is he coming out of this squeaky clean?
Another example is the news this week that the rolling ball which Abbott started rolling in his ideological quest to eat away at the public’s ownership of Medicare by privatising some parts of it, with the ultimate goal of privatising all of it, is still rolling forward. I’m really glad there are news outlets letting us know about this treachery because it’s a really seriously important news story that all Australians would be interested in. But I don’t understand why articles about this news story, such as this one, fail to even mention the word ‘Turnbull’. Turnbull, who we all knows likes to talk, and likes to explain, and is even well known for his particularly patronising ‘mansplaining’ tone, which he no doubt uses because he looks down on all of us since we’re all poorer than he is, is completely silent on this issue. He’s had plenty of time to comment and as far as I can tell he’s made no comment. It’s really not hard to guess why he’s made no comment. There are two reasons: a) because he doesn’t want to be splattered in the dirt of this issue, having to explain why his government is considering turning our universal health sector into a profit making machine for potentially international companies who would then ‘own’ our health records and eventually may own our entire health system. And b) Turnbull loves this idea, and hopes if he keeps his mouth shut it will more likely slip through unscrutinised. Which it possibly will. Turnbull loves this idea both for ideological reasons and perhaps because he has money invested in the companies who will make billions out of taking over Australia’s Medicare system, money which will be filtered through the Cayman Islands, un-taxed and back into Malcolm’s pocket which is bulging with cash. Of course there is a class-war, and Malcolm’s pocket is winning.
Long-time readers of my blog will recognise that the longer my sentences, the angrier I am. My keyboard will also tell you that the intensity of my fingers hitting the keyboard is a fair indication of the level of blood boil going on. So yes, I’m angry about this ‘Turnbull getting away with swimming in shit, yet still being treated like the beloved-shiny-sparkling-glistening-in-the-sun-squeeky-clean-brand-new Prime Minister who can do no wrong’. I’m terrified the squeaky cleanliness will get Turnbull another Liberal term of government and all the horrors of his political agenda will come about, unabated by any real scrutiny, just like the media did when they betrayed the country by giving Abbott such a free pass. It’s not just News Ltd this time either. It’s also Fairfax, the ABC and even, inexplicably, the Guardian. I’m not asking for these media outlets to do anything except their job and their job is not to let Turnbull get away with zero scrutiny on issues damaging to Australians. Just do your jobs people. For the love of dog, just do your jobs.
For those unfamiliar with the marshmallow test, it’s a simple study into self-control and delayed-gratification. You offer a child one marshmallow which they can eat now. But if they are willing to wait fifteen minutes, they can eat two marshmallows. Researchers found that the children who are able to wait for two marshmallows ended up with better grades in high school and better life outcomes than the impatient snatch and gobble children, therefore concluding that the ability to put off immediate rewards for a larger reward in the future is a more successful life strategy. But what does this idea mean for our whole society?
I like to generalise as it saves time: right wing voters are ‘give me the marshmallow now, hurry up, where’s my marshmallow, why didn’t I have my marshmallow yesterday’ people. Left wing voters are much more likely to wait, bide their time, invest their patience and look forward to the second marshmallow which will be to their betterment in the end. Too simplistic? Look at climate change. All Abbott’s Liberals had to do to scare people into voting down the Carbon Price was to threaten their next power bill. Labor was asking us all to think about the future of something rather important: the continuation of our planet. But unfortunately the next power bill won out and the Carbon Price is no longer. The Liberals have done similar ‘take the one marshmallow now’ campaigns with a range of different policies, appealing to voters who can’t see further than tomorrow in their voting interests and are therefore inclined to vote in the best interests of their short-term opportunism by damaging their two-marshmallow-long term interests and the interests of their children and grandchildren. Voting is all about interests today or interests tomorrow!
In fact, when you look at Abbott’s successful 2013 election campaign and his entire narrative throughout the last 6 years, he is the one-marshmallow-man. Kill the NBN. Destroy the mining tax and your future superannuation savings. Destroy Medicare because you don’t need it today, so don’t worry about tomorrow. Slash funding for healthcare even though you will definitely need the health system in the future. Burn funding for education, and don’t worry about the fact that our future economic growth depends on the children of today being smart enough to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. Completely ignore the infrastructure needs of the future. Kill renewable energy and keep loving coal, which is not only destroying the planet but is also running out. Abbott liked three word slogans. He could have just gone with me me me. Or now now now. Or ‘give me marshmallow!’ Sadly this whole campaign was very effective.
I could be really smug at this point and piss off all Abbott voters, who don’t read my blog anyway, by saying that left wing voters are inherently more emotionally intelligent than right wing voters who are too easily conned into voting against their long-term-two-marshmallow interests by opportunistic tactics, such as Liberal fear campaigns, convincing them that the one marshmallow now is really their best option when it clearly isn’t. But it is not as simple as that. I can see in my own life that worrying about the future is hard when you have worries today. A perfect example is climate change. I worry a lot about climate change. I know pretty much all there is to know about the dangers of climate change which we are experiencing now, and will get worse as we continue to do nothing effective to slow it. But when I do catch myself worrying about the climate, and feeling guilty about the dangerous world my daughter is growing up in, I also notice this worry appears at times when there is nothing more pressing to worry about. Then I wonder what is more pressing than the continuation of our planet, and the truth is, to individuals on that planet, the realities of life is that there are many things we have to worry about just to get through the day. I have a four month old daughter and since she arrived, there are hundreds of immediate worries. My husband and I have a mortgage, many bills to pay and busy jobs that keep our minds focussed on meeting short-term deadlines. For something as big as climate change, even if you are worried about it, even if you consider yourself a climate activist, there is very little, on a daily basis, you can actually do about it. And my family is by no means poor. For those struggling to survive on welfare, or in very low paid jobs, for those living in poverty, there is no such thing as worrying about tomorrow. A recent study as proved this, by finding that ‘people who live in poverty tend to make poor long term financial decisions because their economic situation makes it difficult to focus on anything but the near term’. So we have a vicious cycle. Short-term thinking neoliberal conservative governments result in growing wealth inequality which keeps more people poor, controlled by a very few rich-Turnbullites who are happy to continue to win the class war by keeping the poor on this short-term thinking track.
All of us, particularly the poor, rely on those in power, who are in a position to look after our long term interests, to do just that. But when our own government is only interested in the one marshmallow at the expense of all of our futures, and are hording thousands of marshmallows in their own privileged little world, stuffing more and more into their mouths until they literally look like marshmallow men, it is easy to feel even more individually-powerless and less hopeful about the whole society ever seeing our second marshmallow.
So back to the start of this post. We need a two-marshmallow government. That is why people should vote for the Labor Party. The Labor Party needs to do a better job of encouraging people to wait it out for the second marshmallow and then once in power, the Labor Party must make sure the second marshmallow is worth the wait. My daughter’s future depends on it. Everyone’s futures depend on it.
I mostly enjoy my time on Twitter, probably due to the fact I’ve carefully designed my Twitter feed to only include like-minded people. We all have a great time agreeing with each other and sharing our outrage at the same things and maintaining this echo-chamber of pleasantries. That’s not to say I don’t partake in Twitter wars when the inevitable ‘I don’t agree with you’ moments arise, but these wars are still usually quite civil as they’re with people I agree with on most things and therefore can tolerate to converse with when I’m right and they’re wrong. But then there are moments when you see the dark side of Twitter, when you’re searching for something else or you’re curious about a trending hashtag, or your sister texts you to say there’s a vile thing happening on Twitter that I really must see to believe so I understand the level of outrage required. The hashtag #refugeesnotwelcome is one of those moments. Brace yourself, you’re not going to like it.
Refugees are invading
So you know how there are Syrian families fleeing Syria’s brutal Bashar al-Assad regime which has killed over 100,000 Syrians and there are also Syrian families fleeing ISIS who are trying to turn Syria and the rest of the Middle East into a depraved-violent-raping-stoning-killing-violent-horror-story-worst-than-the-worst-thing-you-can-even-imagine hell-on-earth? Well these innocent people who are fleeing for their lives, terrified, displaced by war and extreme terror, are literally being accused of ‘invading’ other countries. Yes, people really are this xenophobic and nasty and we really do have to share the earth with these people.
Not welcome in Ludlow
Katie likes to spend her days posting beautiful photos of the scenery around her beautiful home in Ludlow, reminding the world how lucky she is to live in a beautiful country with old castles and picturesque villages. How lovely. Oh, and she also likes to remind people that she doesn’t want people fleeing the horrors of war to enjoy a place as lovely as Ludlow. Charming.
Poster boy Farage
The UK #refugeesnotwelcome crowd have a racist political poster boy who gives them permission to be racist out loud instead of just in their heads – Nigel Farage, leader of UK racist party UKIP. I would put money on the assumption that every single UK Tweep who uses the hashtag #refugeesnotwelcome voted for Farage and love to spread the propaganda (bullshit) message that Syrian refugees are economic migrants. Don’t look up on Wiki how many votes Farage got because it will make you sad/mad.
Flying the racist flag for Team America
Not to be outdone by the racists in the UK, the US also have their fair share of Tweeps using #refugeesnotwelcome. And of course they also think Obama is Muslim and that he’s just pretending not to be Muslim so he can wage a #Jihad on his own people. It sounds pretty loony doesn’t it. Scary fact is I would also assume each and every person who shares this view of Obama is also armed with at least one gun, if not a full arsenal. Legally.
Racism in a meme
They have their own racist memes too. This suggestion that Syrians should stay and fight is particularly nasty when you consider that an unarmed civilian ‘fighting’ against Assad’s chemical weapons is like asking someone standing on a beach to fight against a tsunami wave. If this tweeter’s child was at risk of being killed by their own government, or sold into slavery and gang-raped by ISIS, would they grab their pitchfork and stay and fight or would they get the hell out of there anyway they could?
Not making any sense
Some of them have me really confused. Like this one. Her tweet says there is no #refugeecrisis and that the people fleeing Syria aren’t really refuges and are rather just illegal economic migrants who for some reason don’t quality as refugees since they’re single men (a common complaint by racists about Syrian refugees). But then the meme seems to concede that the men are fleeing a warzone, which technically does officially mean they are refugees. And even more peculiarly, the grainy old war image of the young blonde soldiers seems to be applauding German men for moving ‘into a war zone’ – which I definitely thought no one would be game to bring up at this point since Germany has surely learned not to mention the world wars where they invaded Europe, killing millions. Weird.
Now for something much more edifying
You can see why I did not enjoy scrolling #refugeesnotwelcome and felt the need to cleanse myself by sharing my outrage with all of you. You’re welcome. Just so I don’t have to leave you with all this bile, hateful, racist, nasty propaganda, this is a Tweet I loved which really is the perfect common-sense argument-destroyer that makes null and void all the misinformation shared about Syrian refugees on the #refugeesnotwelcome hashtag. Facts, glorious, simple and efficiently satisfying facts. Also note the number of re-tweets on this one. Twitter can be my friend again now.
Malcolm Turnbull would love voters to think he’s a fluffy white dog who wouldn’t hurt a fly. How can a man who adorably blogs on behalf of his dogs be anything but a harmless, gentle, kind Prime Minister? How can a man who wears a leather jacket on Qanda not be a man of the people? How can a man who wants to stay living in his multimillion dollar mansion on Sydney Harbour to be close to his grandson be anything but compassionate, socially progressive and committed to quality education and healthcare for the whole community? I’m sorry to disappoint the hopeful progressives who really want to believe Turnbull is the messiah. But isn’t it best I tell you now before you give him a chance to do a whole new term of harm? Turnbull definitely is NOT the messiah. Turnbull is a very naughty boy.
It is not entirely Turnbull’s fault that voters don’t realise how extreme his free-market ideology is. I think the problem is that voters assume that it’s OK for Turnbull to be right-wing when it comes to the economy, whilst also being sort of warm and fuzzy in a social sense. But this charade is just that: a charade. In the recent past Turnbull has been busily differentiating himself from Abbott. But when it comes to the free-market-loving part of the values Abbott and Turnbull share, Turnbull would go much harder and faster on the free-market bit, where Abbott spent more of his energy on social conservatism. Remember WorkChoices? Turnbull’s free market values means he believes this attempted assault on workers’ rights didn’t go far enough. You think Howard was scary? You ain’t see nothing yet!
If you were watching the Grand Final on Saturday, you might have missed the idea floated by this cute little terrier of a PM’s Treasurer, Scomo, that the States really should start thinking about letting private companies run hospitals and schools. Shock horror! ‘But wait!’ I hear all the supposably progressive Turnbull lovers say, ‘that’s just Scomo being Scomo and still swinging the Abbott-wrecking-ball. That’s not our cute cuddly Turnbull’. Get real people. Turnbull chose Morrison to be his government’s Treasurer. He made the decision not just because he needed Morrison’s voting block to win the Libspill. Stop the wishful thinking. Turnbull chose Morrison as his Treasurer because they SHARE THE SAME IDEOLOGY. The desired end point for people with these values, values Turnbull has been very up front about, is that the free market solves all social problem, that there should be no government intervention in the economy, including any welfare of any kind, and therefore everything becoming user-pays. In this world, the more money you have, the more healthcare and education you get. See how well this works out for the mega-rich Turnbulls of the world? Funny that. You might be thinking, it’s OK, Turnbull’s never going to get that far. But just imagine the damage he could do if he only gets some of what he wants. Imagine the wreckage strewn in that path!
Don’t be fooled by the idea that Turnbull is centre-right, or, as I’ve even heard some very mistaken lefties say, that he’s ‘left’ on social issues. The truth is, he has to be pro-marriage equality because this position isn’t just electorally desirable in Wentworth, it is electorally 100% necessary. Turnbull might say the right thing about climate change action too, but surely you noticed he never crossed the floor in Abbott’s government and helped to destroy climate action. Instead, he supported expensive and useless Direct Action, which he now plans to keep even though he’s in a position to end it. In fact, Turnbull will say and do whatever he needs to say to make himself look however he needs to look to win votes. Sorry to disappoint, but the tooth fairy isn’t real, Santa is your parents and it’s not possible to be both right-wing-pro-free-market and socially left-wing. Being socially ‘left’ means that schools and hospitals are run for the good of the people, not the good of the market. Turnbull’s free market position means he’d happily let the market rip public hospitals and schools out of the hands of the public and into the hands of the highest bidder for the greatest profit.
When progressives realise what it really means for the country to have a free marketeer in charge, and they realise it’s actually impossible to be economically-right and socially-left at the same time, and when they don’t agree with Turnbull that healthcare and education should be run at a profit, they might realise their progressive vote definitely does not belong to Turnbull. ‘Privately run’ hospitals and schools is a very steep, buttered slope towards the end of free-for-all-and-all-alike hospitals and schools, which quickly leads to hospitals and schools only available to those who have the means to pay. I assume this is not an outcome progressives strive for?
So please, I’m begging you, don’t be fooled by the smarmy exterior and the cheesy grin. Turnbull is giving Australia a hug while stealing our public owned services and workers’ rights from our back pocket. Turnbull is a Prime Minister who looks like a cuddly terrier, but when you get to know him, you see he has fangs. Please be careful with your vote Australia. Turnbull has neo-liberal-sharp-as-diamond fangs. We’ve been bitten badly enough by Abbott. Please don’t now give the Turnbull terrier a chance to bite us even harder.
Before, during and after the implosion of the Abbott government, commentators have blamed this political failure on a ‘lack of narrative’. The media’s narrative of this ‘lack of narrative’ is a story about a good government who has many great ideas, but just can’t sell them to the untrusting, fickle, inattentive electorate. As someone who is studying political narrative, I can assure you these commentators have got it all wrong. The Abbott government, and the right-wing political class including the right-wing media, have a very obvious narrative to those who know what they’re looking for. Their narrative clearly describes their policies. Their narrative has been consistent across many generations of right-wingers. The snake-oil-salesmen in the Liberal Party are coherently telling this story. The problem is not, therefore, a missing narrative. The problem for the government is that voters, in the majority, do not like the story they are trying to sell. Turnbull is now trying to polish the same story, covering it in glitter. But we all know turds can’t be polished, and under eye-catching-glitter they’re still stinky turds.
Perhaps rather than telling us the Abbott government lacked a narrative, journalists could have done a better job of scrutinising the Abbott government narrative. It would have been really helpful if this had happened BEFORE ABBOTT WAS ELECTED. Anyhow, just like one of those brain twister images where you think you’re looking at a black and white twirl, but when you squint you can see a monster staring back at you, once you see the right-wing narrative, you can’t un-see it. Once you know the story, you see it everywhere. It haunts you. The right-wing story is scary. In fact, I would go as far as saying it’s a horror story.
The right wing narrative can fittingly be summed up with the tag line of a BMW advertisement: Life is not a race… said those who lost. In this narrative, the hero are those who in their mind have won the race. The race to get wealthy. The race to inherit wealth. The race for power. The race to afford a BMW. The race to climb the ladder and the race to kick the ladder away so other racers can’t climb up behind. These people live their life by the concept of dog eat dog. They see themselves as heroes for eating a dog before it eats them. No matter how advantaged they are in the race before the starting gun goes off, these right-wingers always see their own success as something they have won through merit. Not luck. Not privilege. Just because they’re born winners. And they are therefore the heroes in their right-wing narrative. But they are also the victims. Because in their scary little minds, and their narrow little worlds, they think they’re being dragged down in their quest to win the race of life by their story’s villain. I think by now you can guess who the villain is. Yep, you’ve guessed it. The weak. The poor. The sick. The uneducated. The vulnerable. The ones who think life isn’t a race because they lost. And of course, left-wingers who want to help these ‘losers’ are also part of the problem. Right-wingers think they’re the victims of these do-gooder-lefties who believe everyone in a community has a responsibility to care for everyone else. So in a nutshell the story is about right-wing heroes defending their victimised selves against the villainous losers and the losers who want to help the losers who don’t realise life is a race and that right-wingers have won the race. Get it?
Now you see the story, you realise how worn out it is. The Abbott/Hockey budget told this story, with the winners nicknamed the ‘lifters’ and of course the losers the ‘leaners’. Abbott and his government colleagues all share the values in this story. Turnbull, a filthy rich merchant banker who believes in the power of a free market to ensure the heroes keep getting richer and aren’t made into victims by villainous governments and their un-free redistribution of wealth to weak losers. Workers organising into unions to demand a fair share of capitalist profit are, in the right-wing narrative, the villains who should just shut up and worship the heroes who gave them a job in the first place. Miranda Devine has told the same story when this weekend she victim-blamed ‘unsuitable women’ for the abuse they suffer since they choose to have relationships with ‘feckless men’. Everything is the fault of the weak. The abused. The ones asking for help. You see the same story in this article describing the behaviour of Conservative politicians in the UK who join clubs of rich young men who burn money in front of homeless people.
The right wing narrative is a scary story about a community I would never choose to live in. I was not brought up to blame the disadvantaged for their predicament. And nor will I bring up my child to think our societies’ problems are the fault of the vulnerable, the disabled, the sick, the mentally ill, the poor and the abused. The rejection of the Abbott government has, I hope, proved that the majority of Australians, like me, reject this story and don’t believe that life is a race. I hope so. But either way, next time someone says the Liberal government is missing a narrative, just remember the narrative is there. It’s just not a very nice story and they know this so they do their best to keep it hidden. Don’t let them get away with it. You know the story. Call it out whenever you see it.