No matter how they try to spin things in their favor, the undeniable fact is that Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott lied about their plans for Gonski. How can I prove they lied? Because nothing has changed between now and before the election, when they agreed to a bipartisan approach to Labor’s Gonski educational funding model. They have not been forced to make a deal with a minor party to hold power. There has not been some huge budget black hole discovered that changes the funding commitment by the previous Labor government. The same person who made the promise to implement the Gonski reforms as Shadow Minister for Education, is now Minister for Education. This backflip is not about changed circumstances. This is about ideology around privilege, rich independent schools and the innate advantage that Abbott’s government thinks rich children deserve to have over poor children who go to publically funded schools. Gonski, the great equaliser, threatened this ideology. So Pyne and Abbott have lied. And they’ve wasted no time in doing it – which proves that they’re arrogant enough to think they can get away with anything, and they have total contempt for the people of Australia who voted for them, expecting them to be true to their word on Gonski.
As much as I could write about this huge porky of a dishonest, bald-faced, down-right scum-bag lie for this entire post, I’m not going to do that because that’s not what this post is about. What this post is about is our society, and particularly our media’s and minor party’s obsession with broken promises. When in actual fact, we should care little about broken promises. We should care little about ‘holding politicians to account’ to deliver what they promised. Did you hear that GetUp? What we should really care about, and what we should be passionately trying to defend is policy which is in the community interest. If someone promises to do something terrible, and then back-flips and does good instead, let’s congratulate them. Let’s not act like 5 year olds and point the finger and say ‘they lied, that’s bad’ without actually looking past the words and deciding whether the outcome is judged as positive or negative for us all.
Let me give you an example. The Abbott government should be judged harshly for lying about the Gonski education funding model. They have shown through their backflip that their support for this policy was a vote winning maneuver and nothing more. Yet, there are plenty of other policies of the Abbott government which I would support them lying about. They promised to ‘turn back the boats’. Turns out they can’t do this. But if they had come out after the election and said ‘we’ve decided it’s unsafe to turn boats back, so we’re not going to deliver on our promise to do this. Sorry about that bigots, but we have to do the right thing’, I would applaud this. If they had taken over government and suddenly decided it was time to become responsible human beings and take seriously the warnings of climate scientists, I would have applauded them. If they lied about cancelling the Carbon Tax, sure, I would be pretty miffed that they won an election by mobilizing the selfishness of our most petty and immature Australians to win government, but as long as I ended up with a price on carbon, I would be happier than I would be to living in a country without one. Lie away! Save the planet! And if Joe Hockey was intelligent and brave enough to admit that the revenue from the Mining Tax is not something that can be raised by increasing taxes to our lowest income earners, and therefore broke his promise about getting rid of this tax, who wouldn’t respect this decision? Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s fine to be outraged with Pyne for lying about a policy which had huge benefit for our community. But if politicians lie so that they end up doing something good instead of evil, we shouldn’t be ‘holding them to account’. We should be shaking their hands.
I know you saw this one coming, so here it is. The obsession with Julia Gillard’s Carbon Price lie falls into the category of a ‘backflip which should be welcomed’. But the immature media, the screaming Liberals, the far too easily conned electorate, never gave the policy enough thought to get past the ‘she said she’d do one thing before the election, and then did something else! JULIAR!’. No matter that the policy was actually a carbon price, not a carbon tax, which taxi drivers were not going to pay – just companies who profit by polluting the atmosphere. No matter that the Carbon Price policy was just a transition into an Emissions Trading Scheme, which Gillard did promise to implement before the election. This wasn’t even an official backflip. It was a half-pike at best. No matter that the only reason Gillard didn’t do as she promised was because of negotiations with the Greens to form a minority government (she wasn’t expecting a hung-parliament). No matter all of these things, Gillard was crucified for lying, when really she should have been congratulated for doing the right thing. The Carbon Price was in our community’s interest, whether huge numbers of our community wanted to admit this or not.
So yes – let’s maintain the rage about Pyne’s lie – but only because he is taking something from us that was hugely beneficial. But if Abbott’s government chooses to lie about any of the Liberal’s other policies, which are quite easily judged as being bad for our country, let’s not discourage back-flips. Let’s hold people to account for doing something in our interest, not for ‘sticking to their word’, a word that was used to manipulate scared and petty people into doing the wrong thing for everyone. Let’s encourage people to act as adults. And let’s act as adults ourselves and hold politicians to account for doing the right thing. Full stop.
I’m seriously unhappy with you. You might think that you understand why this is the case. You might think that I’m disappointed because the Labor Party is no longer in power, and it would be a lie for me to say this doesn’t contribute to my dissatisfaction. But what’s more important, and what’s driven me to write this letter to you all, is something far larger than the people who get elected. My issue is with you. You personally, and your greed and your selfishness, and your decision to put a fractional increase in your electricity bill ahead of your responsibility to provide a sustainable future for my planet. The planet I live on. The planet I am hoping will provide my children and grandchildren with a place to live. Yes, I’m hoping you haven’t contributed to the death of my offspring. This is how seriously outraged by you I am. This is personal.
So you probably noticed, or more likely didn’t unless Kyle Sandilands/Stefanovic mentioned it, that approximately 60,000 Australians turned out on Sunday to rally for action to combat climate change. You know, climate change, that thing that you deny, discount, laugh at, and generally ignore every time you have the opportunity. And yes, if you’re an Abbott voter, I do believe it’s fair to put you in this bucket. If you even begin to tell me you want action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change and that you also voted for the man who vowed to ‘axe the tax’, the very mechanism that was reducing Australian emissions and contributing to a world-wide acceptance of the need to do something about climate change, I will tell you you’re a moron. A dangerous moron. And this leads me to my reason for writing you this letter. I want you to know that I’m not just pissed off with you. I’m furious* (*not a strong enough word). And I’m not pandering to you anymore. This is a call for those who share my anger not to pander to you either.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that climate change rally-ers have been out in the streets before, with similar rallies calling for similar action to do something about climate change. Yes, we’ve been out before. But I think it’s time things changed. I think it’s time to talk about what’s happened in Australia. I think it’s time to call you all out for what you have done. Australia had action and emissions were reducing. But now Abbott is undoing it, because you supported him to do this. Because you elected Abbott, you have brought about an outcome which equates to you personally choosing a few dollars in your pocket over the safety of the planet. You don’t seem to care about your taxpayer dollars being wasted on Abbott’s ludicrous tree-planting exercise, Direct Action. Nor do you care that every credible scientist – and most economists – know that this policy will not work. This waste of money scheme is going to end up costing you far more personally, through your tax dollars, than the Carbon Price would ever have cost you. And no one has yet been able to explain to me in words that make sense how you processed this decision into a rational thought.
I actually think it’s pointless that we, those who want action, rally quietly in huge numbers and then go back to our day jobs on Monday and tell our work colleagues that we were there at the rally and how it’s going to help. We’re talking to work colleagues who, in their majority, have used their democratic vote to empower a man who everyone with half-a-brain knows is a climate change denier, for the personally convenient purpose of maintaining his friendship/donor relationship with the likes of Gina Rinehart.
But that’s the thing about Tony Abbott. You people, the ones who voted for him, invented him. Like a disturbingly incoherent Frankenstein thug, you needed someone to tell you that climate change wasn’t a problem. You needed someone to maintain your comfortable status quo, to tell you that your pastimes of shopping and buying credits on your Candy Crush iPhone game were perfectly justifiable ways to spend your spare time and money. You needed this man to give you a reason to do nothing, and to campaign against action when someone tried to do something about the biggest problem our society has ever, and will ever, encounter, to make you feel like you’re not doing something wrong by doing nothing. But that’s the thing. You’re not just doing nothing. You’ve given Tony Abbott a mandate to undo the only action we had. The action we, the responsible Australians, rallied for. You’re the handbrake, you’re the ‘control z’ that could destroy the lives of my future offspring. You don’t care that people are already dying in countries you’ve heard of but never visited, as long as your electricity bill isn’t more than it was last month, which it probably isn’t because you spent half the month in Bali drinking 50c beers and buying $1 copies of Breaking Bad Season 2 so your plasma TV wasn’t on for 18 hours a day. And this is the point I want to make.
Climate change is not a debate. You have no right to an opinion on climate change. You’re not a climate scientist, I can guarantee it. Climate change is happening. It’s killing people now. Whether you like it or not in your comfortable little greed fest, we’re having more regular and more severe storms, droughts, floods and fires across the planet because of climate change, right now. People like me don’t go to rallies because we have nothing better to do on a weekend. And personally, I’m sick of the attitude that we, as a community of people who want to do something, should pander to people like you who refuse to listen, who refuse to understand what scientists are saying (note I say ‘understand’ and not ‘believe’ because this is not a fairy in the garden that you can choose to believe in or not). This is real. And it’s affecting those who want to do something about it just as much as it’s affecting you. But since you voted for Abbott, the coal companies are back in charge. Now we have a government who doesn’t even bother to attend the Warsaw climate conference, where the world is discussing plans to do something. Now we have an environment minister referencing Wikipedia to justify his denial.
So this is my statement: I’m not pandering to you anymore. I’m not pretending it’s a good use of my time to try to convince you of the completely and utterly proven fact of climate change. Polite diplomacy has not got us anywhere. You need to know loud and clear that you’re the problem. And you need to take responsibility for what you and your selfish lifestyle, and your prioritising of dollars on your electricity bill have done to the continuation of the planet we all live on, the same place where we all hope to see our children live without being destroyed by your selfishness and greed.
Your legacy is a country which convinced other wavering, weak societies that there was no point taking action, because it would just be un-done if they did. You will be remembered, and studied by future generations as the people who had the chance to do something, but were too selfish, mean, greedy and self-centered to sacrifice just a small amount for the benefit of the future. I don’t give a shit if this statement upsets you. You deserve to feel upset. You deserve to feel like total cowards. You needed to think of people in the future, and all you could think of was an insignificant sacrifice on your electricity bill which might affect how much, ever so slightly, you can afford to spend on your lifestyle today. You could have just made the easy and smart decision to cut down on your electricity usage, which was really the point of the Carbon Price in the first place. But this was an inconvenience to you. Your mindset is a complete outrage. You’ve democratically elected the most dangerous person you could possibly have voted for at a tipping point in the future of humanity, and you argue in favor of this disastrous decision with all your energy whenever you can. This is beyond wrong. Your behavior is reprehensible and it’s time we told you so.
Next time you’re in the tea room at work equating climate change to the Y2K bug, I think someone should tell you you’re a blight on our future. Next time you spout your bullshit about the science not being settled on my Twitter stream, or you write loony comments on my blog to justify why you don’t want to do anything about climate change, I’m not going to engage in a debate with you as this just gives you the idea you’ve got some credibility in the argument. You have no credibility. I’m going to tell you you’re selfish and greedy. And I’m going to bring up this conversation with you rather than letting you ignore it. I’m calling on others who are as concerned as I am about the path this country has chosen not to pander to you anymore either. This is not a debate. This is you choosing to play Russian roulette with the lives of my unborn children. It’s not time for me to try to convince you to do the right thing because you’ve already had the chance to do the right thing and you spectacularly didn’t do it. Those who are worried about climate change aren’t going to get anywhere by being nice to you people. It’s time to get angry. It’s time to explain to you the gigantic error you have made. You voted for Tony Abbott. Now you have to live with what that means. It’s time to pop your comfortable little bubble. You’ve done the wrong thing.
Let me start by saying I’m a big fan. You can file this letter under fan-mail if you like, but as you can see, since it’s an Open Letter, it clearly has a much larger purpose than patting you on the back. The reason for my letter is that I wanted to let you know about a huge problem Australians like me are currently having to deal with. This problem is our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his blatant predilection for making political decisions in the interest of his corporate mates, while stomping on the interests of working Australians.
Today you published a brilliant article about the state of politics in the UK, which started with this cracker of a first paragraph:
“It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.”
Corporate power. I couldn’t agree with you more that corporate power is a scourge on democracy. It’s hard to know where to start to explain just how bad things have got under our very new Abbott government. But the following information might give you a good starting point to understand the outrageous advantage our new Prime Minister is giving corporations. One of Abbott’s first acts in office has been to establish a ‘Commission of Audit’. The ‘Commission of Audit’ is Liberal government speak for ‘making it look like we’ve consulted and analysed better ways to cut government funding for government programs, services and infrastructure, when really our plan is just to slash and burn without any thought for the outcomes on the community’. Or, shorter, the ‘Commission of Audit’ is code for ‘justifying our small government ideals’. If it’s not bad enough that Abbott is pretending to cut government spending through a responsible process when in actual fact the very act of cutting government spending is an irresponsible process, the extra outrage is really too much to bare. Wait for it George, because I can just tell you are going to be as outraged as I am. Who do you think Abbott has chosen to chair the five person panel carrying out this Commission of Audit? Who has he given this crucial job, the outcomes of which will impact harshly on every Australian earning yearly just a small fraction of what the corporate interests earn every day? Yep, you’ve got it. Tony Shepherd. President of the Business Council of Australia. A lobby group for business. Australia’s Liberal Prime Minister has handed over responsibility for deciding how tax-payer funds are distributed, to big business. I can completely understand that you’re pissed off with your UK government for obviously being influenced by big business, so imagine how you would feel if you were me, and your leader was actually handing over power directly to corporate interests. It’s a bloody outrage!
But, I’m sorry to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more outrage to come. I know you know all about how evil Rupert Murdoch is, and like me, you probably wouldn’t trust this man to feed your cat for the weekend, let alone trust him to decide who should be Prime Minister. But have you heard what Abbott is doing for Murdoch, his buddy, who conveniently and corruptly used his media empire to campaign on Abbott’s behalf throughout the election? Did you know that our previous Labor government had already started rolling out a National Broadband Network (NBN), which would finally bring Australia equal to European and American internet infrastructure? This NBN was not only crucial for the economic productivity and competitiveness of Australian businesses, but also of great benefit to households, especially those in rural areas, as it provided new access to education, health and community involvement via home computers. I can hear you thinking – surely Murdoch and his buddy Abbott would have no problem with Australia moving out of the backwater and into the twenty first century via a high speed NBN? Well, yes and no. You see, Murdoch couldn’t allow Labor’s NBN to be rolled out to households as it would give Australians improved access to internet TV via companies like Netflix. And the last thing Murdoch wants is a competitor to his Foxtel Pay-TV network. So Abbott is working to destroy the Labor NBN, and is instead building a not-super-fast broadband network only available to companies, and not available to households at all (unless you can afford a huge cost to connect. A new type of haves and have-nots). All this for his buddy Murdoch. For Murdoch’s corporate interests.
As you are learning George, Abbott is very selective about which corporate interests he is interested in helping. For example, you would think he would be all for innovation and scientific advancement to grow the capability of Australian companies, to grow their capacity to contribute to the economy, which is his number one concern. But Abbott isn’t if for innovation if this innovation happens to be in the field of renewable energy. Because this entire field of endeavor is very inconvenient to Abbott’s buddies in the coal industry, who provide much support to Abbott’s election campaign fund. So Abbott cuts funding to renewable energy and has also recently slashed funding to the CSIRO, Australia’s scientific research powerhouse. Of course, Abbott is no friend of science, if by science you are talking about people who believe climate change is caused by anthropogenic activities.
Speaking of climate change, another of Abbott’s best buddies is the ludicrously wealthy mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who makes billions by mining iron ore. Apparently Rinehart is deeply angered by the idea that her company should have to contribute compensation to the community for the pollution she spews into our atmosphere via her profit-making activities. So Abbott is hoping to appease Rinehart’s anger by killing the Carbon Price. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such helpful friends?
And speaking of Rinehart’s profit-making activities, you might also be interested to hear that the Labor government introduced a super-profits tax for mining companies, to try to recoup some of the value from the sale of natural resources to be shared with all Australians, rather than it being spent on Rinehart’s endless court battles with her children over, you guessed it, money. But no, the Mining Tax deletion was also high up on Abbott’s Rinehart inspired agenda. He sure does know how to look after his mates, who are very agreeable to providing campaign funds to support his election campaign.
In conclusion, in defence of the Australian Labor Party, who could definitely do with someone defending them once in a while, I would like you to know that our previous Labor government were trying to fight corporate interests, exactly as you would like a political party to stand up and do. The Rudd and Gillard governments definitely were not a waste of time. They wanted the NBN to be for all Australians, but Abbott has said no. Labor wanted Australia to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions via the Carbon Price, but Abbott has said no. And Labor wanted to redistribute the wealth accumulated by greedy corporate interests through the sale of Australian natural resources, but Abbott has said no. And now Abbott is handing power to the very same people who helped him to produce the political policies to benefit themselves. It’s enough to make me sick George. I just thought you should know what’s going on down here. And the last thing that is going to help is if we give up and let them have what they want (and by the way Russell Brand, not voting is not an option in Australia, thankfully).
Finally George, I’m glad you’ve said you’re not giving up yet. Because neither am I.
I am writing seeking clarification. I can’t help but notice that you seem to be a little confused about your appraisal of the performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
I’m wondering if you perhaps want to rethink your description of Abbott, the Prime Minister, in the book you have been trying to flog – Remarkable Times – Australian Politics 2010-13: What really happened. I won’t pretend to have read this book. In fact, I found it near impossible to read even an extract, so predictable and so utterly boring and so obviously not about ‘what really happened’. You see, Laurie, between 2010-13, what really happened bore so little resemblance to what you and your fellow political journalist hacks reported as happening, you are the last person I would go to for insights about Australian politics in Australia across any period, let alone the previous three years.
But, without having read it, I think I’m safe to assume your book has a similar theme to all your political reporting between 2010-13, summed up concisely in this extract. Describing Abbott’s first 11 days as Prime Minister, you say his behaviour over these 11 days is evidence of his new approach to government as being “careful and methodical”, where Abbott would “behave in a way that was ‘clear, consistent and coherent’”.
In contrast, you explain the difference between Abbott’s government and the previous Labor government using these words:
“But as far as the public and the media were concerned, it was 11 days of unaccustomed quiet after the Labor years of crisis, chaos and constant politicking. No-one complained. The nation was over politics and welcomes a respite”.
When you say ‘clear, consistent and coherent’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to explain, without scrutiny, what Peta Credlin wants Australians to think an Abbott government is going to be like. When you say ‘crisis, chaos and constant politicking’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to describe, without fact, the approach of the Labor government. When you say ‘no-one complained’, you’re not talking for me, you’re saying Peta Credlin was without complaint. When you say ‘the nation was over politics and welcomes a respite’, you are again speaking for Peta Credlin and saying what Peta Credlin hoped the nation felt, when in actual fact the only politics the intelligent part of this nation was ‘over’ was your false brand of horserace, completely lacking in policy detail, substance and fact. And this is what I mean when I say you are predictable, you are unreliable, you are presumptuous in speaking for people you know nothing about, and most importantly, you are wrong.
But here’s where I think you’ve suddenly come unstuck. The real performance of the Abbott government, only weeks into the job, has proven how wrong you have been. Because reality doesn’t lie.
Perhaps you thought all your Christmases had come at once, when you got the Abbott government you had wished for, and campaigned for all those years. But like a child who is promised a brighter future, and instead ends up with a sack of coal, the Abbott government has actually turned out to be just as incompetent, just as immature, just as dangerous and just as down-right unintelligent as people like me warned people like you it was going to be between 2010-13 and before. So you have found out the hard way ‘what really happened’. But your book is out now, and it’s too late to correct your inaccurate record.
Apparently you seem to be coming to terms with this grave error, with the news this week that you’re unhappy with the Abbott government’s secretive modus operandi. Whereas in your book you say, in an appreciative tone:
“Here was a Prime Minister-elect obviously serious about not feeding the hungry media beast”,
and by beast, I assume you mean people like you who love words like ‘chaos’, ‘crisis’, ‘scandal’ and of course ‘JuLiar’. Yet, only a few weeks later, you somewhat ironically backflip on this appreciation, having been quoted as saying:
“You (Abbott) can’t thumb your nose at the voters’ right to know and you can’t arrogantly say ‘we’ll let the voters be misinformed and we won’t help journalists get it right’. That’s just a disgusting attitude.”
I happen to agree with you, Laurie, that keeping voters uninformed is a pretty disgusting and arrogant attitude. And to this, I will say two things – pot kettle black, and, what the fuck did you expect?
You have kept voters uninformed by completely failing to scrutinise what Abbott was going to do as Prime Minister. You perpetuated the utterly ridiculous notion that Abbott could move from nasty, messy, attack-dog to mature, competent Prime Minister. I’m sorry Laurie, but this concept is idiotic. An incompetent, lazy, rude, mean, un-charismatic, unreliable, unintelligent, misogynistic, unscrupulous, inarticulate thug is always going to be all of these things, whether he lives in the Lodge with his apparently attractive daughters or not. He wasn’t just all of these things when he was Opposition Leader because it suited his agenda at the time. It’s not a coat he can just take off. This is it. This is Tony Abbott. With Peta Credin barking instructions into his earpiece. This is Tony Abbott.
Have you ever considered why Abbott’s office has disappeared into the cone of silence? Have you considered it’s because they’re completely over their heads and don’t actually have any idea what to say about their revolting plans for this country? This is not some grand master plan. This is a grand retreat into nothingness. This is incompetence personified.
You and some of your colleagues don’t like that Abbott’s not telling you stuff. No doubt this has nothing to do with concern for the Australian community and how informed they are, and rather more to do with your difficulty in finding something to talk about, having relied on press releases from Peta Credlin, complete with Abbott’s talking points, and leaks from Rudd for all those years. But guess what Laurie, this is the least of the problems we, the informed public, have with Tony Abbott. I’m less concerned with what he’s not saying, and more concerned, if concerned is a strong enough a word, with what he is doing. Handing responsibility for massively important decisions about government spending to a business lobbyist. Cutting funding to scientific research. Embarrassing Australia on the global stage. Slashing and burning public sector jobs. Ripping up future-proofing infrastructure by destroying the NBN. Raising the debt ceiling to all time highs with no explanation as to why just weeks after claiming a ‘budget emergency’. Cancelling the Carbon Price for an expensive joke of a Direct Action Policy which is beyond humiliating for the country, right at the same time when the public are finally starting to realise that electricity bills are not more important than the safety of the planet. Lying about deals he’s made with Indonesia to turn back boats and pretending the very act of him becoming Prime Minister has stopped the boats. Not to mention the real ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’ which Abbott refuses to address – his and his minister’s fraudulent use of taxpayer funds for expensive travel and accommodation for their own egos and personal entertainment. And you thought Julia Gillard’s dodgy ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago constituted a ‘scandal’ because some nut-job internet troll said so? You still said she had ‘questions to answer’ even after she answered every snide and absurd question you are your malicious colleagues in the National Press Club could conjure up? Seriously Laurie, you have no right to tell anyone ‘what really happened’. You’ve been negligent to the extreme in informing the public what to expect from an Abbott government. Now you’re worried that Abbott’s secretive non-consultative strategy is keeping voters misinformed? I really hope you don’t live in a glass house with a ready collection of stones.
Moving on to ‘what the fuck did you expect’. You seem quite surprised now that Abbott isn’t turning out the way you anticipated. So I say again, what the fuck did you expect? Did you fall for the ‘they are just the same’ tactic, used to refute people like me who said, for years, that Abbott was going to be a disaster again and again and again no matter whether people wanted to hear it or not? Whenever I think of Abbott, and what a setback he is for Australia, I can’t help but hear the words of Paul Keating from this interview in 2010 where he said:
“If Tony Abbott ends up as Prime Minister of Australia, you’ve got to say, God help us, God help us. A truly intellectual nobody. And no policy ambition. You know, I mean, is that all there is?”
As I knew, and as you are quickly learning, Abbott is all there is. And thanks to the lack of scrutiny of him by people like you before the election, Australia is stuck with him. For one term at least. And now you’re saying you’re not happy with Abbott’s performance? Spare a thought for people like me, who saw it coming and are now justified to say over and over again – ‘I told you so’.
I feel that if progressive Australians are ever going to come to terms with what happened on September 7 2013, we’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Liberal National Coalition are the government that the people of Australia want. And if we’re going to come to terms with this, I think we need to understand why on earth it is that people want Abbott to lead this country. I have lost many hours of sleep trying to work out what on earth is wrong with voting-age Australians for them to choose this complete and utter imbecile and intellectual nobody as the person who they want to make the most important decisions on behalf of all of us. More accurately, we have learnt that this person will not make decisions as the Prime Minister of Australia. Rather, he will float ideas and then judge the reaction on a narrow criteria of how pissed off influential people are, before deciding whether such an idea will be culled or snuck in a bit later when everyone has forgotten about it.
Anyway, yesterday when I was driving to work, I got a convincing insight into how this appalling outcome came to be. This is just one example, but I feel it is representative of a much larger whole. I was listening to ABC Radio National when Geraldine Doogue was interviewing Terry O’Brien, Managing Director of frozen food processing company, Simplot Australia. Geraldine was discussing with Terry the challenges the Australian arm of this American owned multi-national company are facing in remaining viable in the Australian market, with considerable cost pressures compared to cheaper alternatives that can be imported from overseas. You know, in places where they pay people considerably less than a dollar a day and where these people live in poverty. As one of the last frozen vegetable processing companies in Australia, Simplot Australia is a large employer and presumably the government, any government, would not like to see them disappear. A bit like Holden and Ford’s manufacturing businesses in Australia? Or maybe not. Abbott’s not finished floating on this one.
At the end of the interview, as the discussion centered around the actions Simplot Australia were taking to modernise their plant, to lower costs and to remain competitive, Geraldine asked:
“Well, how much do you need government here? I notice that the Federal Industry Minister, Ian McFarlane, who’s a bit busy lately defending industries, has said recently everyone will be involved in making this plant sustainable, but there’s no cash on the table yet. And the Manufacturing Workers Union representative John Short says the previous Federal Labor government pledged $15 million, and he wants the new government to match this. What are you hearing?”
To which Terry replied:
“I’m hearing exactly what you said. The Federal government, the new Federal government hasn’t been inclined towards putting money up. And quite frankly, we can live with that, if they deliver on their election pledge of things like rolling back the Carbon Tax, which certainly hurts us a bit. If they can look at the regulation. In the food industry regulation costs us an absolute squillion dollars and there’s a lot of regulation that’s really there for its own sake and not really adding any value…”
And then Geraldine said:
“But they can’t roll it back just for you, can they?”
Then Terry replied, with the clincher:
“No, but the sort of things they’re talking about doing will benefit us. And then on top of that, their catch call is ‘open for business’, you know, and if they can get a more business friendly environment going, that will benefit us.”
To summarise, the Labor government, baddy baddy bad for business, were putting money on the table to help the profit-making, American capitalist owned corporation modernise their facilities, to make them more efficient, so they wouldn’t pull out of Australia and cancel thousands of Australian jobs in the process. Labor were looking out for workers. But the Managing Director of this company doesn’t need this Labor government funding, as long as he doesn’t have to account for the pollution his company spews into our environment, contributing to climate change which is not a sustainable future (especially for vegetable growing). And he doesn’t need this Labor government funding as long as he doesn’t have to worry about regulations that we all know are not there just to give public servants something to do between twiddling their thumbs, but are actually there so that the food that Australians buy is safe and the working environment the workers of this company produce this food in is safe. Bad regulation, bad! Oh, and don’t forget the ‘catch call’ of ‘open for business’. Yes, this Managing Director really did say ‘catch call’. And he really did imply that this ‘catch call’ made him feel more positive about the future of his job, even if there is no actual government action arising from this catch call, when in fact the baddy baddy bad Labor government was offering investment to help the company, so not to see generations of the manufacturing workers on unemployment benefits for the rest of their lives, and so not to see the resulting community deterioration that comes from generations of unemployed.
To summarise even more concisely – it was big business, men like Terry O’Brien and those in the electorate who believe people like Terry O’Brien when they say ‘catch calls’ like ‘open for business’ are going to make their lives easier, and to make their businesses richer, and to make them individually richer, who brought about the Abbott victory. No care for the environment. No care for the level or regulation that is sensible and makes Australia a first world country. No care for the fact that they are using three word slogans to justify the biggest fuck up this country has ever democratically elected. It’s just the vibe. And if you weren’t depressed enough by this revelation, here is a line from Simplot Australia’s Sustainability Report 2012:
“We are committed to delivering lower emissions through using energy more efficiently, the installation of a cogeneration plant together with other improvements in refrigeration and efficient lighting.”
Presumably this commitment to delivering lower emissions is only a value of the company if it doesn’t cost them anything. Or was this just included to appease prospective investors and customers, who might by some chance have a social conscience? Ok. I think I finally get it.Follow @Vic_Rollison
If it is the wrong time to talk about climate change while New South Wales is experiencing devastating October fires, then when is the right time? In fact, I can think of no better time to talk about climate change than today. While Abbott organises his government to repeal Labor’s Carbon Price, and while he bumbles around trying to make his Direct Action Policy look even half plausible, something he has failed to do in the previous six years, the news headlines are all about New South Wales bushfires. In October. But when someone bravely points out the link between climate change, and October bush fires, he is savagely rebuked in various different forms of shooting the messenger. In this case, the brave person is Green Adam Bandt, who linked this tweet to his article about how irresponsible Abbott is for reversing action to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change. Catastrophic effects like bushfires:
(Click here to see the image shared in this tweet).
In response to this truth talking, Bandt got a range of negative responses, calling him everything from ‘grossly insensitive’ to liar, ‘hysterical’ and ‘scaremonger’.
I really don’t understand this reaction. Obviously I understand that most of these people are climate change deniers and would hate to have to confront the possibility that their denial is completely and utterly outdated, debunked, discredited and most importantly dangerous. But what about Anthony Sharwood, who claims to be an advocate of action against climate change? What could have offended him so badly about Bandt’s statement that would lead him to call Bandt grossly insensitive? Sharwood received this reply from another tweeter:
No need to talk about climate change now, when homes and LIVES are being lost? But climate change is the reason homes and lives are being lost. This is like saying we shouldn’t talk about drink driving when someone is killed by a drunk driver. I think you’ll find most families who are the victims of drink driving want police and law-makers to have a conversation about this blight on our community now. Not tomorrow. They might not be the ones having the conversation, but they definitely want it had, to stop others going through what they went through. And what about gun deaths? Should we wait until after a school massacre, when the victims are buried and no longer on the front page, before using the disgust over the tragedy to commit a community to take action to stop it happening again? If my house burnt down and if I lost someone I loved in the bushfires that are happening today in New South Wales, I would be too devastated, too busy and too stressed to talk about climate change myself. But I’m sure I would like the rest of Australia to do this talking for me. And I’m sure I would like them to start this conversation before the threat seems to have passed, when in reality the threat is not going anywhere and Abbott’s government is doing nothing about reducing it.
Let’s talk about Abbott’s rejection of the carbon price and not only what it will do to emissions in Australia, but also to the political will of other countries fighting for similar action. Let’s talk about the fraud of his Direct Action policy – a costly joke which no expert has been able to prove will come anywhere near meeting emission reduction targets. These targets are now promises which Abbott is busy backing away from. Abbott’s done a great job of making people scared of their electricity bills. And he’s done the most immoral thing possible in using this fear to win himself the job of Prime Minister, while playing down the risks of climate change. He’s taking us backwards, towards more danger, when he should be advocating plans to move forward. To do more, not less. And it’s not just Abbott. It’s Barry O’Farrell, one of the original deniers. It’s every Liberal who refuses to do the right thing, from Malcolm Turnbull who claims to passionately want action to reduce climate change yet wont cross the floor, to supposed scientist Dennis Jensen, resident Liberal climate change denier who criticised Abbott for not having a science minister. Because he wanted the job. This is who Australia elected as their government.
Let’s talk about the real thing we should be scared of for once. Climate change is here and we’re having bushfires in May and October. Remember when Bob Brown was called ‘insensitive’ in 2011 for linking the Queensland floods to climate change? Maybe those criticising him can explain to me why floods that happened almost three years ago haven’t yet generated that conversation about what caused them and what should be done to limit this happening again and again and again in the future. Maybe we should have talked about it at the time. Maybe we shouldn’t have shot down Brown for starting the discussion.
It’s time to stop pretending that those who are frightened about climate change are just being alarmist. It’s time to stop demanding facts when there are too many facts and too many reports collating these facts to know where to begin showing the facts. This is just stall tactics to stop having the conversation we need to have. It’s time to stop dumbing down the debate. It’s time to stop calling climate change scientists Henny Penny. It’s time to stop letting deniers get away with saying that we’ve always had floods and we’ve always had bushfires so the huge increase in bushfires and floods that we’re seeing on a global scale couldn’t possibly be evidence of exactly what scientists have been warning us about for years. No one is saying that the only reason natural disasters happen is because of climate change. But they are saying natural disasters will happen more often because of climate change, and this is exactly what we are seeing. So let’s talk about that. It’s seriously scary. Let’s not make that a reason not to talk about it.
Perhaps the most telling tweet of all was Sharwood’s suggestion:
Emergency passed. What, when the bushfires are no longer a threat? When climate change again recedes into the back of people’s mind as that thing that isn’t an emergency now, so isn’t worth even thinking of, let alone discussing? That thing that spawned a political policy that Abbott used to destroy Gillard’s credibility, and won an election over promising to delete? That thing that the Australian electorate would like to ignore? Except when there’s a bushfire or a flood. It’s time to stop enabling Australians in their quest to ignore. Let’s talk about climate change. Let’s talk about it now.Follow @Vic_Rollison
I’ve seen quite a few articles written recently about the outrage of Tony Abbott’s expense scandal. Van Badham made a good point about weddings, and how fuckwit it is to charge your attendance at one to the taxpayer. Mike Carlton wrote eloquently about ‘bludger Abbott’ immorally charging the taxpayer for his election campaign. At first I thought enough had been said on this matter. I thought all bases were covered with various reasons for varying forms of outrage about the scandal. However there is still one thing which I haven’t seen said, which I feel needs to be added to the pile. And this relates to the Liberals, their sense of entitlement and the way that this sense of entitlement clashes quite inconsistently with their rabid resentment of anyone who works in the public sector.
So we all know that public servant bashing is a favourite sport of the Liberals. Every time Liberals talk about job losses with a forlorn look and talk of insecurity for families, I am reminded that they only seem to care about job losses in the private sector. In the public sector, they are the ones slashing jobs. Yet, somehow in their very well crafted rhetoric of ‘government waste’, they manage to get away with painting public sector workers as a different species of Australian worker. Public sector job losses, whether they be in Canberra, or in health, education and community services around the country, don’t really count as job losses. Because, as any Liberal will tell you given half the chance, the public sector is inefficient and over-inflated, and not as good at getting things done as companies who need to make a profit and need to keep their shareholders happy. No matter whether this idea is truth (which it is not), nevertheless, it’s always the first priority of a Liberal government to make sure public sector workers are fired, for no other reason than it must sound efficient to do this. It all relates to the very fuzzy reasoning of Liberals around ‘small government’ and ‘efficiency’ and ‘waste’ and all the fluff they go on and on about all the time.
Remember when Howard got rid of thousands of public servants who he must have thought were just sitting at their desks twiddling their thumbs, in their ‘jobs for life’, playing solitaire and drinking coffee at the taxpayers expense? But then when he realised the people he had fired were actually running the country, he hired more of them, but just as individual contractors, at a huge hourly rate, which ended up costing the taxpayer more than the public sector workers who were fired. Well done Johnny. Keep them off the books and all that. Abbott is doing the same things as Howard – promising to fire 12,000 in Canberra alone, and that’s before his ‘commission of audit’ takes the axe to who knows how many more jobs. Will these Liberals ever learn? And even Abbott’s master, Murdoch got in on the act of public servant bashing in a recent tweet, saying:
“Aust election public sick of public sector workers and phony welfare scroungers sucking life out of economy. Others nations to follow in time.”
So, if Australians really are happy to vote for someone like Abbott who promises to sack the public service, what does the Australian electorate think about his sense of entitlement in racking up thousands of dollars of expenses, and charging them to the taxpayer? Doesn’t this make Abbott the hugest of all hypocrites to ever walk the earth? Do we need a new, stronger word for hypocrite, to explain the ferocity of Abbott’s wankery in using taxpayer funded travel to attend charity events, sporting events and weddings? Saying ‘pot-kettle-black’ just doesn’t seem to cut it. How about we just agree it’s un-Australian. On the one hand, Abbott implies that public sector workers are bludging off the taxpayers and need to be fired, while at the same time using taxpayers money for his own personal entertainment and political ambition. Perhaps Abbott is the one who should be sacked. #OneTermTony.
Public sector workers are hard working Australian people who have families, who pay tax, who don’t get paid as much as they would in the same job in the private sector, who work hard, who join clubs, who raise funds for charity, who buy or rent houses, who buy cars, who shop at Coles and Woolies, who deal with all sorts of stress by never knowing whether a new government is going to fire them, who don’t and never have assumed they have a job for life.
But Tony Abbott is just an arrogant man who needed to improve his public profile, after years of being known as the resident Liberal nut-job, and who needed to be seen with his wife and daughters having fun in the public eye to try to prove he doesn’t hate women, who needed to look like he did charity work, even if he wouldn’t actually do charity work if it cost him a cent personally, who needed to look fit and sporty, if in actual fact he wouldn’t get fit or go to a sporting event without charging it to the taxpayer, for his own personal vested interest of getting a better job as the Prime Minister of Australia. No one can claim that Abbott’s helping their community by riding a bike through it. Even if they live in a marginal seat. Abbott’s only interested in getting his face on the news, for his own benefit. And the news media laps this sort of crap up.
That’s what really infuriates me about Abbott’s expense scandal. He’s firing honest, hard working public servants, to the detriment of the communities they serve (us), while he spends thousands of taxpayer dollars on his self-entitled quest to have himself elected to the position of Prime Minister. While he’s promoting his public image. But while he’s swanning around the country at our expense, and shouting his wife and daughters the lifestyles of a Paris-Hilton-esque socialite at our expense, what work is he actually doing for the community he wants to represent? How has he earned his government funded-salary, let alone the extra costs of his travel and accommodation, when he’s spent his entire time campaigning for himself? Next time Tony Abbott calls the public sector a ‘waste’, can someone please hand him a mirror.Follow @Vic_Rollison