Now is the time

UniteLaborGreensUnsurprisingly, guest-blogger extraordinaire, my mum, Kay Rollison, has something to say about this year’s election. Enjoy. 

Now is the time for all good men (and women) to come to the aid of the party.

Is this anything more than a typing exercise? Yes, it has to be. Men and women of Australia, we can and must unite to Keep Abbott Out.

Before the election was called yesterday, I read another of those annoying articles, this time by Jack Waterford in the Canberra Times, along ‘the parties are both the same’ line. No, Jack, they are not.

You might think that anyone who says, as Waterford does, that Abbott’s parental leave policy is to the left of the Labor Party’s doesn’t deserve further consideration. But his argument is unfortunately quite common – and very dangerous – so it needs to be addressed.

Even if on every other policy Labor and the LNP were the same, which or course they’re not, they would still be different on climate change – which, incidentally, Waterford doesn’t mention. Kevin Rudd was right when he said this is the great moral challenge of our age – even if he subsequently wimped out on doing anything about it. It is also the great economic challenge of our age; how are we going to ensure some sort of social equity in the face of it?

It’s easy to argue that Labor’s carbon pricing hasn’t gone far enough. But what is the alternative? The party of ‘climate change is crap’. The party of paying polluters from public funds to stop polluting. The party who will force the unemployed to join a green army – where else will it come from? This is rubbish policy. It cannot be allowed to happen. We aren’t going forward fast enough, but we can’t afford to go backwards.

I read a tweet the other day pointing out that the only time the Greens get any publicity is when they attack Labor. Anyone who attacks Labor gets publicity from the mainstream media. This isn’t the Greens’ fault; it is their misfortune. They presumably say lots more – but just don’t get reported. Their proposal for a permanent disaster fund, for example, seems to have sunk without trace. I’ve argued elsewhere – and been attacked for it – that of course the Greens oppose Labor. They want to replace them, not work with them. But for the foreseeable future, this isn’t going to happen. And if Greens supporters care about that future – which I’m sure they do – cooperation is what is needed now to keep Abbott out. Do they really want to play into the hands of the LNP and their cheerleaders in the press? The chances are that the Greens will retain the balance of power in the Senate; they can use that to push a Labor government forward on environmental issues. But good luck trying to do the same if there’s an Abbott majority in the lower house.

And of course this isn’t the only difference. ‘Less tax and less regulation’ was the Liberal promise in response to the Prime Minister’s speech to the Press Club on Wednesday. Less tax, at a time when Federal revenues are falling, is either Magic Pudding economics, or a cynical failure to acknowledge that with less tax goes smaller government. Cuts to the public service are only the beginning. Was Isobel Redmond’s decision to ‘step down’ as Opposition leader in SA forced on her because she told the truth (twice) about Liberal plans to slash public service jobs and, inevitably, public services? Then if Campbell Newman’s slash and burn isn’t evidence enough, we’ve only got to look at the outsourcing movement that is disembowelling welfare provision in the UK to see what is the likely program for the Liberals. Let’s not kid ourselves that Joe Hockey’s ‘end of entitlement’ is about ending middle class welfare. By all means protest the move of some single parents onto Newstart when their youngest child turns 8. And yes, this extended the existing Liberal policy. But Tony Abbott suggesting that the unemployed should have to move to Western Australia and work in the mines isn’t a brain snap; it’s a mindset. If you don’t understand this mindset and the consequences of such a mindset running the country – it’s time you educated yourself. The clock is ticking.

And what are the regulations the LNP want to remove? I’m sure you can guess which ones they call ‘green tape’ – environmental impact statements, for example. A government prepared to regulate the market is essential for any sort of equitable social policy and sustainable environment. Which party do you think offers this?

I could go on about the differences – and probably will over the next months. And I’m not suggesting that Labor deserves carte blanche on its actions. Asylum seeker policy in particular is one area which deserves scrutiny – though again it’s a no win situation for Labor as far as the mainstream media goes. There’s bad publicity for boat arrivals, bad publicity for conditions of detention, bad publicity when asylum seekers drown on their way to Australia and bad publicity for asylum seekers returning home. Whatever Labor does, or does not do, in this area earns them bad publicity. Who wants to be part of that? And which would you prefer? Labor which, however unsuccessfully, is trying for a regional solution, or a party that calls asylum seekers ‘illegals’ and wants to turn back the boats? These are not trivial differences.

Everyone is entitled to have policy areas they are passionate about, but a Federal election is not about one or two policies. It’s about who will be in charge of making the decisions across all policy areas, how they see this role, who will benefit from what they do, and who will lose out.

I’m calling on people who vote Green to make sure they know who their enemy really is, and at least make sure they give their second preference to Labor. I’m calling on undecided voters to think about what vision they have for the future, and whether this vision is for themselves alone, or for their whole society. Even if all you worry about is yourself and your family, think very carefully about who best manages the economy. Read what the IMF has got to say about that. And I’m calling on the cynics – the ‘they are just the same’ brigade, to really look hard at what the Opposition is offering – presuming they give you the chance. And if they don’t, you might wonder what they are not telling us.

Every election someone will say that this is the most important election in a generation. Abbott’s already said it, and just this once, I agree with him. A LNP government will not be business as usual. Not only will it seek to destroy any gains that Labor has made towards equity and sustainability, it will also do its best to allow the market freedom to ‘develop’ as it chooses, and to further entrench existing inequalities. We can only stop this if everyone who cares – and there are masses of us – unite. We are concerned individuals, members of unions, members of environmental groups, people who assist refugees, people in disability groups, farmers, small business people, tweeters, bloggers, workers in the renewable energy industry, IT experts, retirees, education providers, scientists, any workers of any kind in fact  – we are found everywhere – and we must unite to KEEP ABBOTT OUT.

By Kay Rollison

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8 Comments on “Now is the time”

  1. JamesH says:

    Yes I agree Keep Abbott Out but how? when almost all of the Media, including Jon Faine seems to fancy Abbott over Gillard Government. Keep it rolling Kay just loved your truthful article on the evil Abbott and Co.

  2. Brilliant, Kay. I think we all know otherwise sensible people who declaim – as if imparting some great truth – that ‘both parties are as bad as the other’. Some also announce, a bit smugly, that they are therefore voting Green. If tackled about the real-world dangers of electing Tones as a result, they invariably turn it back to how they simply cannot vote for the Labor party ever again.

    Although they won’t agree, the Greens need fewer hipsters and more political hard heads.

  3. todster says:

    Your view of the world and of journalists like Jack Waterford reflect my own. Going back to the Whitlam dismissal I used to wonder why the press was taking the conservative view that they still do. That is, why not perhaps tell the truth a little more. Be more principled in their reporting.

    The arrest of Craig Thomson yesterday during Abbott’s speech with Channel 7 in attendance confirms for me not just the obvious; that the media is inheritantly conservative, but that there are some very odd things happening at a number of levels of Australian society at present. I am fully aware that this is the bleat of paranoiacs everywhere, but take a look, people.

    In my tiny way, apart from this insignificant – in the scheme of things – letter, I am trying to do something. I have politely emailed Mike Carlton, who is not a conservative particularly, that he should re-consider his view that there is nothing in the apparent (to me and many others) suppression of stories, like Ashby, and the promotion of others, like Thomson. I will also email Philip Adams suggesting, as I did before Christmas and in regard to which he showed some sympathy, that he get back Margot Kingston – once a regular on ‘Late Night Live’ for the occasional chat.

    You’ve got to make an effort.

  4. Graham Jackson says:

    Agreed, Kay… The sight of Steve Lewis gurgling his happiness at Abbott’s appearance yesterday was nauseating.

  5. Sandra says:

    Just been talking to my daughter about this very subject. She said she was in line at the Post Office and some older people were discussing about how they don’t know who to vote for. They said they liked the PM better than TA, but the parties were pretty much the same.

    It would seem that the ALP need to take the argument out to the general public by setting about showing the general public where the differences lie in each of their policies compared to the LNP. Don’t try doing it by going to the MSM, go direct and use the KISS method.

    We, here who follow the 5th Estate need to do our bit and I must congratulate you Kay and also Victoria for producing such a great visionary article as to just how frightening it would be to have TA and his cohorts in power. For anyone who saw the presser yesterday that believes that the man has changed into some nice person, think again. The man is an ego maniac of the highest magnitude. For those who missed the press club talk, it would probably be a really good idea to go to the ABC website and listen to a podcast of it. I mean really listen to it, then make informed comment. I’m of the older generation who doesn’t know how to effectively use the ‘cut, copy & paste’ etc so all I can do is to read articles and make my feelings known by commenting where applicable. We need to be engaged in discussion so please keep up the great work you are doing.

  6. Chris Grealy says:

    I would love to see more cooperation between the Greens and Labor, but so far, not much luck. The Greens say, “we must keep our purity, look what happened to the Democrats when they compromised.” And Labor have enough rabidly anti-conservationist dinosaurs to stifle any incipient goodwill. What’s the solution?

  7. Agreed that everyone is entitled to have policy areas they are passionate about and ‘a Federal election is not about one or two policies. It’s about who will be in charge of making the decisions across all policy areas, how they see this role, who will benefit from what they do, and who will lose out.’
    In a letter to The Age newspaper today, Glenn Stanmore sums up the policy areas I am passionate about:

    “JULIA and Tony, now that the campaign is under way I would like to submit my wants to you.
    As a self-funded retiree I don’t want any pork barrelling and want you to concentrate on policy issues, not personal attacks, as we voters find them a turn-off. I want adequate funding for first-class education and health outcomes for all Australians. This can be easily funded by tackling tax avoidance by those at the top end of town, phasing out tax breaks for negative gearing and family trusts, and raising the GST to 12 per cent.
    I want policies that benefit future generations, including tackling environmental issues such as climate change and our excess reliance on fossil fuels, by extending the carbon tax coverage and increasing the minerals resource tax.

    It is way past time issues with our indigenous population were adequately addressed. May I also request a more civilised approach to the way genuine refugees are treated. And for good measure, I wouldn’t mind a republic and an Australian flag minus the Union Jack.

    Glenn Stanmore, Cohuna”

    I think he means ‘we must Keep Abbott Out.’

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