Curing Outrage Fatigue

OutrageFatigueI agree with Tim Dunlop when he says we’re currently living through a phase of ‘the normalisation of bad politics’. There are hundreds of examples of the way in which the low expectations of the Abbott government due to their blatantly, and now universally acknowledged ineptitude is giving them a free pass to keep being inept without the usual outrage that follows. Just this week, Hunt has been on a campaign of lying, saying his Direct Action policy is stunningly successful and that it will easily meet the 2020 target of reducing emissions by 5%. But it won’t. All you need is a calculator to understand why. And he gets away with lying that the Carbon Price wasn’t working, when in fact a cursory search of Google will show factually that it was, in its short life time, working just as it was meant to thank you very much.

Another whopper of an example is when Abbott recently cancelled, after putting on hold, his paid parental leave scheme. The most the media could muster over this huge broken promise to Abbott’s ‘signature policy’, or what Howard once would have called a ‘core promise’, was a few lines in the newspaper or a mention on the nightly news. And then it was done. Nothing to see here, move along. Sure, it was a brain fart of a policy to start with, and deserved to be dumped. But I have no doubt that some voters liked the idea of being paid their salary for six months of maternity leave, and voted accordingly. Where was the outrage from these people? There was no one calling Abbott a liar. There was no on questioning his credibility as Prime Minister. There was no one turning his name into a description for someone who doesn’t tell the truth.

The worst part was that the media aren’t the only ones who have given up being surprised by Abbott and his government’s backflips and lies. The electorate, us, have come to a point where we too expect the worst from Abbott, and when, every day, the bar for the ‘worst thing Abbott did’ was raised a little higher, I worry that we’re too fatigued by the long and continuous disgrace of this first term abomination of a government, that we too can’t muster the energy to respond with the appropriate, and justified level of hot blooded rage. For some, it might not be a problem of lack of energy, but rather lack of time. We all have lives, we’re all busily trying to survive in this country which is being whacked daily by the Abbott wrecking ball and there’s just too many outrageous Abbott government disasters to mount a campaign of outrage for every single one. You would need to be ready every day with your outrage energy loaded. I’ll put my hand up as someone who just literally finds it hard to have the time to keep up with all the damage Abbott is doing, let alone respond to every single detail.

I also agree with Dunlop that the failed leadership spill which saw Abbott remain in his job as Prime Minister, was a massive hit to the outrage energy levels. Sure, the rational part of me wanted him to stay and wanted him to maintain his bad polls so that he will comprehensively lose the next election and become a one-term blip that we will eventually laugh about after brick-by-brick rebuilding our damaged communities. But the emotional part of me just wanted him gone. And when he wasn’t gone, the incompetence and embarrassment, and shame, and disappointment, and fear of the damage he’s doing that can’t be undone, and daily frustration that this man was ever elected Prime Minister in the first place, remained. It was like someone moved the horizon that we were running determinedly towards and now it feels like we’re going to be stuck with this moron forever but we don’t have the energy to run anymore. Sometimes I don’t have the energy to even walk. I’m limping!

But luckily, I’m an optimist at heart so this is not where the story ends. Because I’ve got an idea. I’ve got a plan for how we can re-boot the outrage in a productive way. What we need to do is to try to stop focussing on the trees and deal instead with the wood. Rather than trying, and failing to highlight our outrage for every single thing the Abbott government does, we need to focus on the big picture ideological problem and maintain the rage that such an ideology runs this country. We need to change the way we vent our outrage so that it becomes a blanket that covers everything and anything the Abbott government does in one all-encompassing umbrella.

For instance, it’s clear that the Abbott government lies about almost everything it does – particularly when it comes to explanations for their policy motivations. So rather than unpick every policy detail of the upcoming budget, let’s just all scream in unison ‘stop lying to us about the state of this nation to justify your ideological small government!’ Because that’s what Abbott’s been doing since he won the top job. We also know that the Abbott government will always, without fail, preference the rich and industry barons over the poor, middle class, workers and welfare recipients. So rather than look at one pension change, or one tax fiddle that hits the poor but leaves Gina Rinehart untouched, let’s unite to say ‘we’re not going to stand for this inequity! Stop protecting the rich at the expense of the poor!’ And every time Abbott and co. do these things, call them out for the big picture. Remind voters that all Abbott’s policies, and all his reactions to Labor policies, fit in these boxes. This is who the Abbott government is and we need to make sure voters don’t forget it. Make memes, tweet about it, share outrage on Facebook, tell your workmates, rant about it on the bus. But forget about trying to cover all policy bases, all the outrageous details. Focus on the beast rather than the teeth. And the beast will be slayed. We have just over a year to make this work. Fire up! Who’s with me?

Labor framed as the villain again

Aly RET LaborOver the last couple of days, the Twittersphere has been full of congratulations for Waleed Aly’s The Project segment on the Renewable Energy Target (RET). If you haven’t watched it yet, here it is. Apart from the fact that it’s fairly amusing that journalists like Aly get congratulated for talking about the details of a policy, and showing that they actually care about policy outcomes, (because shouldn’t they all be doing this all the time?), the segment was, on the whole a good one. However, and this is a big HOWEVER, it does drive me crazy that once again, Labor is framed as the villain, along with the Abbott government. Because journalists like Aly, like most political journalists, and like pretty much every cycinical-Labor-bashing-I-know-best-and-I-never-give-credit-where-credit-is-due tweep who seem to call themselves lefties, but have learned the art of bashing Labor from the experts like Murdoch and his minions, can’t frame any story that is negative about the Abbott government, without also framing Labor as equally as villainous, equally to blame, and (watch my eyes roll), just as bad as the Liberal government. I don’t have words to explain just how frustrating this vogue way of talking about politics is!

Look at the video again, and notice how it implies that Labor is helping Abbott to kill the RET. You’ll see photos of Bill Shorten pulling a silly face (to show he’s stupid) and the graphics on the video’s backdrop have Liberal AND Labor MPs with characters from Sesame Street, presumably to show that they’re all childish puppets. And all the same. This type of not-so-subtle imagery, and the language around ‘bipartisanship’ is clearly aimed at framing Labor as part of the problem; in this case part of the reason the drawn out RET negotiations are causing a decline in investment and jobs in the renewable energy sector and a bleaker outlook for our future thanks to climate change caused by emissions that could be abated by an increased use of renewable technologies. But hang on Aly. Hang on while you try to bash Labor over this one and have a look at a few things I like to call facts and political reality.

Firstly, the RET, Aly forgot to mention, was a success of the previous Labor government. The way he spoke about the policy, you’d swear it originally appeared out of thin air! The Howard government introduced the policy in 2001, but set the target at a measly 9,500 GWh. It was the Labor government, in 2010, who increased this target to something far more revolutionary – 41,000 GWh – in order to reach the 20% emissions reduction target by 2020. It was this policy, implemented by a Labor government that gave rise to huge investment in the renewable energy sector. This investment was further boosted by Labor’s 10 billion dollar fund that was financed by Labor’s Carbon Price policy (which the Greens were also partly responsible for through Labor’s negotiations to form a minority government). So just to recap, Labor set the responsible target, Labor funded investment through the Carbon Price and Labor got zero credit for any of this from anyone in the media at the time, including the likes of Aly. Just like Labor gets zero credit for any of their progressive policy successes.

All of this background to the RET policy was left out of Aly’s segment. To someone uneducated about the policy, it would appear that naughty, bad, bad Labor was willing to compromise everything the RET has achieved by supporting Abbott’s bid to reduce the RET in a bipartisan show of deceitfulness. To someone who hasn’t been following the story (and if you care so much about climate change to retweet Aly’s video yet haven’t noticed what’s been going on for over a year, I think you need to translate this ‘caring’ into making sure you’re ‘informed’), you would think that Labor is the one putting the renewables industry at risk by helping the Abbott government to dismantle the target, when actually the opposite is the truth. The reason there is a stalemate between Labor and the LNP over this policy is because Labor has recognised that compromise must be made in order to salvage as much of the effectiveness of their RET as they possibly can, but so far Abbott hasn’t compromised enough to get Labor’s support. Labor’s position is that they want the target at, coincidentally, the place they set it in government in 2010 – 41,000 GWh. This is Labor’s ideal. But Labor isn’t in government anymore, and in case everyone hadn’t noticed, it’s fairly difficult to run the country from opposition. And this is the point at which I would ask Aly, because he didn’t mention it, what exactly would he like Labor to do differently? Labor has been fighting the Abbott government policy of reducing the RET to 26,000 GWh. If Labor had given bipartisan support to Abbott’s government, the RET target would be 26,000 GWh, a disaster for the renewables industry and a disaster for the future of Australia’s stable climate.

Where was Aly’s outrage when Abbott announced this 26,000 GWh policy? And where has Aly’s coverage been of Labor’s fight to stop this policy succeeding? Now, after a year of fraught negotiations, Labor has managed, with the help of the renewable energy industry, who they have been working closely with as any responsible opposition should, to pull the Abbott government kicking and screaming up to a place where there might be some compromise to save the policy – at 33,500 GWh. Yet the Abbott government won’t accept this compromise, insisting on 32,000 GWh, which is clearly just a political move to try to maintain some vestige of control over the negotiations and letting investment continue to suffer in the meantime. So again, what would Aly have Labor do in this circumstance? Give in to Abbott and accept the lower target, or keep fighting to bring them up to a target that is lower than Labor would like, but has been deemed acceptable for the time being to the renewable energy sector in order to keep investment flowing. It’s not clear what Aly would prefer Labor did because no one ever has this conversation when they’re busily saying Labor has done everything wrong and Labor is the villain and no one should support Labor and oops…. then we got an Abbott government and wasn’t that a disaster for climate change policy?

Some credit where it’s due Aly and quit the Labor bashing. Your RET segment would have been more informative had you not given in to your usual predilection for painting Labor and LNP as ‘the same and just as bad as each other’. I would better believe you cared about climate change if you didn’t paint Labor and Liberal as sharing similar climate change polcies. No one who really cares could possibly infer this. And your profession would be more valuable to our community if it didn’t imply a vote for Abbott is the same as a vote for a Labor government, which the outcome on climate policy has painfully shown to be a complete and utter lie.

If you don’t love Australia, leave

Love it or leave itIt’s time we reclaimed Australia. Because I love this country and I hate to see it being sullied by bigotry and racism. I’ve got a simple message for those people who think it’s acceptable to rally in capital cities on Easter Saturday in order to send a message about their hatred and intolerance of people who are different from them. You are not the type of Australians I want in our country. Of course I would never tell you that you must leave, and of course I wouldn’t imply that you should be forcibly removed. No, this is just advice: if you are really so angry about Australian society that you feel the need to protest against it, it’s obvious you don’t belong here. And if you’re not happy, why don’t you find somewhere else to live where you do belong?

I love Australia’s multiculturalism. As a fifth generation Australian with ancestors from England and Ireland, I know enough about the country’s history to understand that we have always been a multicultural nation. The indigenous population have, in my view, the only right to complain about the way in which this multicultural society was formed. Because they were the victims of a murderous takeover by the first settlers and this is the part of our history I am most ashamed of. However, since then, I think Australia’s done a fairly good job of being an inclusive, open, welcoming country, and I personally think it’s the best place in the world. That’s why I would prefer that racists and bigots remove themselves, voluntarily, from this great country, because its greatness is lessened by the attitudes this minority holds.

Like any great country if Australia rests on our laurels, and tolerates a vocal minority’s campaign to make other peaceful, Australia-loving minorities feel unwelcome, we have all failed our society. We have a Prime Minister currently who doesn’t value our multicultural society and all those who contribute to it, so it’s no wonder that the racists and bigots think they have permission to make their intolerance known. But don’t be tempted to follow the lead of the petty people, the leaders like Abbott who use anger and fear to make himself feel good. Don’t give in to hatred. I am not so naive to think that this wonderful Australia we live in isn’t damaged in the eyes of the world by the way our population, in the majority, treats new immigrants, particularly desperate people seeking asylum. It embarrasses me that so many Australians, living comfortable, privileged lives, would slam the door in the face of those looking for safety.

It’s almost as if some Australians resent our culture because it is exactly the type of place that other people aspire to live. Would they prefer Australia was the type of country people wanted to get out of? Would they prefer our standard of living was a turn off? We are, on the whole, a safe, harmonious, wealthy and well educated country, with a beautiful climate and a laid back and friendly culture. I appreciate living here. One of the things I love most is that we aren’t all the same; it’s the multi in multiculturalism which makes this country interesting. I’m not just talking about a range of cultures that contribute a choice of cuisines, fashions, architecture, music, and cultural entertainment; it’s also the mix of ideas, the different perspectives and the drive all of us have to make Australia a better place. We want to make Australia better because we all love this nation. No matter if people have lived here for five generations or one, or if they’ve just arrived and they’re not planning to live here forever; we’re here because we love it. But it’s clear some of us love it more than others; why else would people feel the need to protest in the streets? So this is my message to those who don’t love living here. Don’t try to change Australia because you don’t like it. Either accept Australia for what it is, and embrace this great country, or consider leaving. Perhaps you would be happier in a country that doesn’t have Australia’s rich multicultural society, where everyone is as distrusting, arrogant, rude, judgemental, racist, small-minded and hateful as you are. Perhaps you will be better off without us, just as we would be better off without you.

What should Shorten say?

LightbulbIn the political battle of ideas, the weapon is the political narrative. After spending the last year researching political narrative, I have learned it’s not as easy as saying ‘here’s your narrative’, attaching your words to that wagon and off you go and win an election (not unless you’re Tony Abbott). As Bill Shorten is hopefully learning, narratives are about more than words. They’re about showing what you stand for, not just telling. And they’re about more than winning elections too; they’re about the way you plan to govern.

The Abbott government’s narrative, and their Opposition narrative before that, flew under the radar for the past seven years. For most of their time in opposition, and their first year of their first term in government, the mainstream media let them get away with saying one thing, and doing another. But the minute this cosy little arrangement started to become unstuck, so did Abbott’s grip on his leadership, and hopefully, so did the Liberal National Coalition’s chances of winning the 2016 election. Abbott might have scrutiny-free based his election winning narrative on a the unicorn-like-promise to fix the budget, cancel revenue (mining tax and Carbon Price), not cut education, health or pensions and everyone wins, no one loses. And the mainstream media might have let us all down by standing idly by in their failure to point to the fact that unicorns don’t exist. But either way, these hollow words are not Abbott’s narrative because Abbott’s narrative is in his actions, not his words. His real narrative, which coincidentally if you haven’t noticed, fits like a glove around his well-known ideological position (did any journalist actually read his book Battlelines?) was rolled out in Hockey’s 2014 budget. Abbott’s narrative, or story if you like, is that the poor are to blame and the rich are to be revered and protected. Abbott’s narrative is that domestic violence campaigner, Rosie Batty would make a good Australian of the Year because that would boost his political popularity, but that domestic violence refuges are not the responsibility of the government to fund and that women fleeing abusive partners should fend for themselves, or give in and be killed, if they can’t afford alternative accommodation. Abbott’s narrative is that it’s an individual’s responsibility to pay for their education and their healthcare, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is self-entitled. Now that Australians have seen Abbott’s narrative, they plainly don’t like it. You really can sum up Abbott’s political downfall just in that one sentence.

So how is knowing this useful? Bill Shorten is once again finding himself as a Labor leader accused of missing a narrative. Gillard was dogged by this criticism throughout her time as Prime Minister. Troy Bramston has written an article in The Australian today (paywalled) titled ‘Bill Shorten causes Labor dismay over lack of ideas’, which cleverly ties Shorten’s narrative problems with leadership tensions, presumably to pass The Australian’s eligibility test for inclusion in their Labor bashing campaign, I mean, newspaper. Apparently Labor needs a narrative and needs a full policy agenda to go with it 18 months before the next election, even though Abbott didn’t even need anything more than a vague pamphlet of brain-farts up to the day of the last election. Go figure. But either way, Labor does need a narrative and so I’m going to suggest one. Keep in mind this narrative needs to be a show, not tell, and therefore needs to be reflected in what Labor does, not just says. So perhaps a good place to start is to look at what Labor does and work back? Now there’s a revolutionary idea.

2015 is the year Shorten promised to release Labor policies, and to Shorten’s credit, a couple of good ones have been released, both which give us a good foundation to look at a possible Labor narrative. One is a crackdown on multinational corporations illegally evading taxation. The other is a national summit on domestic violence. These policies, along with all the work Labor is doing to block most of the worst of Abbott’s policies, and the previous Labor government’s policies which Labor would clearly like to reinstate or repair given the chance after they’ve been damaged by the Abbott government (think Gonski, a climate policy such as an ETS, perhaps another mining tax etc, the Medicare system etc), give a really strong foundation for a simple narrative, that can be used to tie all these different, yet related, political ideas together. So here’s my suggestion of what Shorten and all Labor MPs should be saying whenever they’re competing in the battle for political ideas:

Labor is the party of the collective. Labor is the party of success through unity – of workers getting together to better their position, of communities helping each other to improve everyone’s lives. Labor doesn’t hold these values, and promote this cooperation because we think it’s a nice, warm fuzzy thing to do. We do it because it’s in the best interests of all of us when we look out for each other. Because we believe no one ever ultimately improved their own position by reducing the position of someone else. Because we believe that every individual who grasps an opportunity to improve their own life through this {insert this policy here} and all Labor policies, whether it be through education, through innovation, risk-taking, through the care and support of those around them; is bettering their community through the betterment of themselves. And when you understand that we’re all in this together, and you understand that we collectively take responsibility for our futures, and that ultimately everything that hurts one of us hurts all of us, and everything that is good for one of us is good for all of us, you can see why {insert policy here} is the best investment we can make in the success of our collective tomorrow.

Those who don’t share our values of community, who look only at short term self-interest, who don’t see that they belong intrinsically to something bigger than themselves, might scream and yell and complain that they’re being asked to contribute to our better tomorrow. But we know the voice of the community is louder than the voice of selfish individuals, and we see their threats, their protestations, and their three-word-slogans as the quiet whinging of the truly self-entitled that will not be heard over the roar of the collective. No dollar that was ever spent as an investment in the good of our community is a dollar wasted; no worker’s effort in our collective productivity should be forgotten, and no one’s desperation to pull themselves out of misfortune and disadvantage should be ignored. When you understand that your neighbour’s wellbeing is your own wellbeing, you can join with Labor in embracing this {insert policy here} for a better future for all of us.

I’m not suggesting Labor MPs recite this whole spiel every time they open their mouths, but elements of it should be found in every statement they make because this is the connection, the thread, the narrative that does run through Labor’s policies. And any policy that doesn’t suit this narrative should be discarded and reworked to fit this very simple story. We’re all in this together. I just hope Labor is listening.

An Open Letter to Peta Credlin

PetaCredlinCartoonDear Peta Credlin,

First of all let me say that I’m sorry you’re having such a horrible time at work at the moment. Since it’s clear that you work extremely hard and your job is pretty much your life, I’m sorry that your life is fairly horrible at the moment too. I really am. This solidarity I feel with you, by the way, has nothing to do with the feminist code or standing up for the ladies, because quite frankly I don’t think your current predicament has anything to do with your gender and in writing this letter, I want to make the point that I am writing to a person, not a man or a woman. I am writing to a person who holds a great deal of responsibility, and power, and I don’t think you’re getting a fair hearing and clearly no chance to explain what is really going on in your world. So bear with me for a moment while I try to envisage how things have got to this point, and perhaps you are the only person who can confirm or deny if I’m off the mark.

First of all, it’s clear to anyone with any understanding of who and what Tony Abbott is that you’ve got your work cut out for you keeping this moron in check. I know the Australian media did their best to help you out during your time as Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Opposition, in that you didn’t really have to worry about any real scrutiny of your boss, and therefore were able to keep the puppet on-message by sticking to carefully recited three-word-slogans and never answering any questions at press conferences. There weren’t many times when you agreed for Abbott to go on radio or television to be interviewed by anyone who wasn’t already in your corner, fighting the same fight as you, so I guess this made your life a whole lot easier as there was no challenge to the ideas behind the three-word-slogans, or investigation into a pamphlet that you said was a plan but I’m not sure any of the press even read. Most importantly, no one bothered to check if there was any factual or expert analysis contributing to the formation of your slogans; for example, the journalists didn’t worry about the cost and effectiveness of the Direct Action policy because they just loved your idea of taking Abbott banana stacking, truck-stop chatting, butcher visiting and Alan Jones rally attending to fight against a climate change policy that was working to reduce emissions, and generating revenue for renewable technologies just as Labor planned for it to do. The journalists never asked ‘what budget emergency?’ so you could continue to use this lie to justify ideological slash and burn. So this lack of scrutiny generally, for both Abbott’s character, personality, ideas, competence and honesty and for the few policies you told the electorate about before the election, really made your job a whole lot easier.

I’m wondering if perhaps it was too easy. Do you ever wonder if you were lulled into a false sense of security? You knew your boss was incapable of being a leader. You knew that without you by his side at every waking moment, a disaster would happen. That’s why you’ve had to work so hard. That’s why, according to John Lyons, who did me the favour of confirming everything I already knew about Abbott, you’ve had to resort to interrupting Abbott and even placing your hand over his mouth when he’s about to say something stupid. Again. You’re just doing your job! And that’s why I feel sympathy for you. Maybe when he won the election, you got a bit complacent? Or maybe his incompetence is literally impossible to keep secret forever?

Even with the tight controls you have placed on Abbott since becoming Prime Minister, even with you standing close by his side in every interview, in every public appearance, in any scenario where he has to do anything in his job, a job he is being paid very well to do, you can’t stop the occasional glimpse of the real Abbott being flashed to the country. It must give you nightmares! The knowledge that you can stop Abbott leaking himself to the world. No matter what you do, how hard you work, somehow the real Abbott has been revealed. And as you always knew, Australians don’t like this person at all. And as you always knew, there is no way he would be Prime Minister now if it wasn’t for your careful management of his image; and when I say careful management, what I really mean is trying to turn Abbott into someone who doesn’t exist. Because you know as well as I do that he’s just not cut out for his job. He’s not intelligent enough, he’s not articulate enough, he’s not inspirational, funny, kind, quick-witted, compassionate, approachable, organised, fair, strategically minded or, the most importantly, likable. He’s just not likeable and now that Australia has seen the real Abbott, there’s nothing you can do about it now Peta. Your job is finished because you have failed to hide Abbott. You’re going down with the sinking ship.

Before I sign off, I want you to know that I might respect you, but I certainly don’t like you. I don’t like the job you are doing, but I respect that you’re working hard. I just wish you were working hard for the good of Australia, rather than for the good of rich mates and donors to the Liberal Party, and to bring about the IPA’s vision of Australia, which is quite frankly terrifying. But you’re clearly determined, organised, and capable, and the reason you’re still sitting next to the Prime Minister of Australia, feeding policy ideas into cabinet, pushing your version of the world onto the country’s agenda, and making life very difficult for anyone who falls outside of your privileged bubble is because he needs you. He can’t get rid of you because you’re the only thing between him and humiliating annihilation in his career. So you’ll keep your job, but it’s not going to be easy. Now that the scrutiny has finally, belatedly, arrived, it’s like a tap that has been turned on and is now spewing water like a fire hydrant. You can’t turn this tap off now Peta. Abbott’s own colleagues are leaking to your old media friends, so this is way out of your control now. Abbott is now a known liar, so when he denies the content of the leaks, no one believes him. Does Abbott even have any friends except you anymore? We can all see that your boss, the emperor is not wearing any clothes and no matter how many blue ties you try to cover him up with, we can see his rude bits and quite frankly, the country is disgusted by the sight of him.

Yours sincerely
Victoria Rollison

The Elephants in the Press Gallery

ElephantRoomThe Press Gallery have been busily, emphatically, excitedly making the most of the new leadership tensions story that Abbott has gifted them over the past few weeks. But amongst the innumerable number of articles about what’s gone wrong for Abbott, how he got to this point so quickly in his first term, and what he plans to do to fix this mess, there are some massive elephants in the Press Gallery who are being consistently ignored. In fact, there are enough elephants to build a pretty decent circus, if you throw in the journalists as the clowns.

Here are some of the most obvious elephants who have been ignored in the leadership crisis coverage, the 16 months of Abbott’s government and in some cases, his entire 6 years in Opposition:

  • Abbott’s ‘budget emergency’ is a lie he has used to justify cutting government spending for ideological reasons, at a time when the economy needs stimulus, not cuts. This fake ‘budget emergency’ has decimated consumer confidence and has reduced the amount of money in the economy to the point where Australia is teetering on the edge of a recession. Put simply, Abbott has ideologically wrecked the economy because he prefers small government.
  • Abbott’s budget aimed to protect wealthy Australians from ‘budget pain’ and to blame poor people for all the economy’s problems. The blame is based on the lie that the unemployed are lazy and if they want to go on being so lazy they will be punished because of it. This ideological position relies on various economic lies such as the following:
    • That jobs can be created by the unemployed applying for more jobs. There are 5 unemployed people per available job in Australia. People want to work and there are no jobs for them to work in.
    • Tax cuts for the rich create jobs. No, they don’t. Demand from consumers create jobs. Tax cuts for the rich just make the rich richer, and inequality worse. If consumers can’t afford to spend, the economy grinds to a halt.
    • Wealth trickles down. No it doesn’t. By next year, the 1% richest people in the world will own half the world’s wealth. There is no trickle.
    • Government spending and taxation is like a household budget. No it isn’t. If you haven’t heard of Modern Monetary Theory yet, follow this link.
  • Abbott is failing to get his budget through the Senate, not because Labor controls the Senate, but because right wing minor parties, those who traditionally supported (and in one case funded) the Liberal National Coalition, are refusing to pass policies they know are so unpopular that they would threaten their political careers putting their names to them. It’s really as simple as that.
  • Abbott never properly defined what he would do as Prime Minister because he knew if he told the voters what he really wanted to do, ideologically, to the Australian economy, culture and society, he would never have won the election. The Press Gallery ignore this elephant because to point it out would be to also admit that they never scrutinised Abbott in the lead up to the election since they were too busy writing about Labor leadership tensions. The first rule of political journalism in the Press Gallery is ‘never ever admit you were wrong in the past’. Anyone with eyes could see exactly what the Abbott government was going to be like and if you followed independent media sites like this one you would have got a very accurate preview of the situation we are in now. But you never got this preview from the mainstream media. And the last thing they want to do now is to admit they were the reason the electorate got such a shock when they realised who Abbott really is, and what his real plans for this country were.
  • There are things Australians should be scared of, and there are other things Australians should stop being scared off. We should be scared about Climate Change. We should be scared about wealth inequality. We should be scared about our own and future generations’ ability to find jobs in an economy where manufacturing is declining, the mining boom is over and competitor economies are forging ahead with technological innovation on the back of better education systems than we have access to in Australia. But instead, Abbott, at every opportunity, without scrutiny from the Press Gallery, goes straight to two boogeymen-under-our-beds as diversionary tactics to try to scare us into supporting his ideological agenda (which we’ve already proved we don’t like). These boogeymen are ‘debt and deficit’ and terrorism. The quest for the revered ‘surplus’ is akin to the government throwing all their resources behind an ideological holy grail, at the expense of Australian jobs and to increase household debt. It is nonsense, yet the Press Gallery don’t seem to understand this. Oh, and terrorism? According to this helpful analysis on Crikey, more people died in the past ten years falling off chairs in Australia, than they did from acts of terrorism here and overseas. What would you say if the Abbott government tried to make you scared of sitting down?

These five elephants should be at the heart of any political discussion, at the heart of debate about policy and what is right for Australia’s future. But this is where the grand-daddy elephant needs to be pointed out. Political journalists in Australia are not interested in discussing policy. According to them, there was no need to discuss the effect that Abbott’s policy decisions have had on his current leadership-crisis predicament. No, as usual, the journos are as shallow as a puddle, with analysis such as this from Lenore Taylor, Laura Tingle, Laurie Oakes and Peter Hartcher. These articles all share two things in common; they perpetuate the myth that the Liberal government’s problem is all about Abbott and the dysfunctional processes around him, when really the entire government has helped create this situation by all sharing the same ideological agenda as Abbott. They all supported the turd, cooked the turd, and perpetuated the lies that brought the turd about. And now they’re all complaining that Abbott’s has failed to polish the turd and they want to give Malcolm Turnbull a go. But it’s Turnbull’s turd just as much as it is Abbott’s. Where is this analysis? And of course, they ignore the elephants I’ve described, whilst also ignoring the role the Press Gallery played in putting Abbott where he is, without scrutiny, without analysis, without a heads-up about what the country was about to experience. Rather than taking a step back and looking at themselves, they keep making the same mistakes over and over again. Exactly like Tony Abbott. The Australian public deserves better government. And we deserve a better Press Gallery to help explain what a better government would look like.

An Open Letter to Malcolm Turnbull

OpenLetterToMalcolmTurnbullDear Malcolm Turnbull,

I hate to distract you from the clusterfuck that is your political party at the moment. But I can’t help but notice you’re all very busy doing whatever it is you do during a painfully drawn out Libspill; you know – making phone calls, counting numbers, receiving phone calls, tallying numbers to be counted, and not really concentrating on your jobs that you get paid to do, by us the tax payers. It’s all actually fairly boring apart from being absolutely impossible to look away from. But while you seem to be personally readying yourself for the job you’ve been readying yourself for your entire life, I wanted to just let you know how I feel about your leadership ambitions and the type of Prime Minister you are going to be. I don’t think you’re going to enjoy this.

First I’d like to say that I do appreciate that you’ve previously been very vocal about your support of action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change and of course we know you lost the leadership of the Liberal Party previously for your determination to be bi-partisan and to support Rudd’s ETS. You should be applauded for this noble gesture. However, what you will not be applauded for my be, and all Australians who worry about our ever uncertain future in a post-climate-change world, is that you are willing to give up on this determination, this value, this hallmark of your political career, in order to get yourself a new job. It’s one thing to be a spineless, cowardly, lying little worm like Tony Abbott and to stake your political career on denial of climate change and the wrecking of a perfectly good Carbon Price. But honestly, I think your betrayal would be worse Malcolm. Because you have shown that you understand the science, you accept the science, and you’re alarmed about what the science is telling us. Yet for your own political purposes, for your own personal ambitions, for your own sense of individual achievement, glory, power and no doubt pay rise, you are willing to do deals with climate change deniers on the acceptance that you won’t, when in the most powerful job in this warming land, do anything about climate change. And that makes you the lowest of the low. That makes you worse than a denier. That makes you a grub. Please don’t think Australia isn’t going to notice.

Another policy I am similarly concerned about you getting anywhere near in your planned future as PM is the National Broadband Network. We already know that you’ve been beavering away doing your best to destroy this future-proofing world’s- best national infrastructure project for the benefit of your Telstra mates in your job as Minister for Communications. Or is that the Minister for not-as-fast-as-they-should-have-been Communications? You’ve proved over this NBN wrecking that you’re not fit to be in charge of Australia’s future technological innovation, and therefore you’re not fit to be making decisions about Australia’s future, full stop. And no, I’m not going to give you any benefit of the doubt about what motivated you to destroy the NBN and to instead create a joke of a copper fraudband. If you were thinking you might be able to blame Tony Abbott for everything that happened before you took his job, you’ll need to think again. Because if that’s the case and you did just do whatever you were told without protest, without care for the damage you were doing, then you’re even more unqualified to be our Prime Minister.

As a man who knows how to make money, and who lives in Australia’s most expensive suburb in a house that makes the Lodge look like a cottage, you must know that talk is cheap. Yet, despite your popularity due to presumably the leather jacket you wear on Q&A and your some-might-call-charming-but-I-would-call-smarmy demeanour, all I see from you is talk about your values and absolutely no action to back these values up. For instance, have you ever, once, whilst working as a member of the Abbott government, crossed the floor to protest Abbott’s policies? No? Have you spoken out publically about Abbott and Hockey’s outrageously unfair budget and actually fought them to change anything? Or have you just been laying low, like a snake in the grass, waiting for your moment to strike, your moment to take what you believe to have always been yours at the expense of the Australian public who never chose you as their PM?

The fact is that I don’t trust you Malcolm. I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you. You’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing who talks about supporting gay marriage, but given the chance would forget he ever said that and instead campaign to reincarnate Howard’s WorkChoices as soon as I can say ‘free-marketer’ or ‘neoliberal stooge’. You want what’s best for your rich mates. Though you might make this look a bit prettier than Abbott, we have learnt throughout this painful period of Abbott’s prime ministership that the most important thing is not how something looks, but how they behave. What policies they try to push through. You would deregulate universities, you would slash and burn to create a small ineffectual government, you would destroy Medicare, you would cut education funding, you would fight on behalf of miners as they deny Australians their fair share, you would get rid of penalty rates, you would decrease the minimum wage, you would deny rights to asylum seekers, you would destroy the NBN and you would deny Australia a climate change policy. How do I know you would do all these things? Because you’ve been doing it as a member of Abbott’s government and there is absolutely no reason on earth why someone like you, who shares Abbott’s values, would do anything differently. A turd with a cat-like grin polished across it is still a turd.

Yours sincerely
Victoria Rollison


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