It’s been a while since I’ve written an Open Letter. Please don’t think this is due to any apathy on my part; it’s more to do with being too busy to write to you every time your behaviour warranted correspondence. In a way, it’s a sly strategy on your part; move onto the next scandal, the next mistake, the next example of gross incompetence, before we all have a chance to respond fully to the last. But today Malcolm, today I finally felt compelled to pause and type. It’s not that I think you’ve hit rock bottom – I’m too much of a realist to expect you won’t get any worse. No, it’s more that this blog has become a historical account of the political landscape, and I feel your most recent actions need to be properly condemned on the public record in a way that the mainstream media, for the most part, won’t dare to do.
Let’s get something straight right up front. You are the Prime Minister. I’m only reminding you of this because there’s no evidence of you being aware of what this means. Never before has Australia had a Prime Minister who is so scared of his own cabinet as Prime Minister Turnbull. Never before has a Prime Minister been so cowed by his backbench, so neglectful in his command of leadership to put his foot down and say ‘I’m in charge here’. Never before have we seen the games of internal division, backstabbing, sniping, placating and hiding away so destructive to the national interest.
What’s that? I hear you mumble something about Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard. Not that you will ever acknowledge the fact, but really, the way Prime Minister Gillard managed to run a productive, reforming, legislatively impressive government with a one-seat majority in a minority government and an undermining rat-Rudd to contend with has just makes you look worse in comparison, not better. So I would leave her out of this if I were you.
People do say that it is the largest struggles in life which are the making of a person; that someone’s true character comes to the fore when they’re challenged. Gillard’s character stepped forward like a Daenerys Stormborn-warrior; brave, unflappable and more determined than ever to win an argument. You, on the other hand, or should I say, other planet, have shown that when nudged, you go to water.
I must say, it’s not that surprising that you’re so hopelessly equipped to stand up to your colleagues, to do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing, to put the public interest ahead of your personal strategizing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about the very rich is that they are deeply disappointed when life is hard. Innate wealth and privilege is meant to insulate people like you from challenges. But when those challenges just keep getting harder and less easy to buy your way out of, well, it’s no wonder you just want to shirk away into the mansion and cry into your cash. That’s the only explanation I can reasonably come up with to explain how badly you are managing the job of Prime Minister, Malcolm. It’s kind of me to give you such an easy excuse, isn’t it?
To be fair to you, of course I will never agree with your ideological positions; your corporate tax cuts, your bashing of unions and in turn the working people they represent, the cuts to pensions and attacks on health, welfare and education. We have different political values. Everything you stand for, I stand against. So, I can’t say I’m disappointed that you’ve done all this stuff I disagree with, because I expected you, given the chance, to do all those things. But what it is fair enough for me, and everyone else in Australia who either voted for you or didn’t, to feel deeply disappointed in is your total lack of morals. Your total lack of character. And your cowardice, your selfishness, and your cruelty this lack of moral character promotes.
Let’s look at your morals. Not once in your time as Prime Minister, not once, have I found myself saying ‘well I disagree with him on most things, but I respect the decision he’s made this time’. Not on climate change policy – how do you sleep at night? Not on hate speech and embracing anti-immigration dog-whistling – you’re an absolute disgrace in everything you do to court Hanson voters.
This week you’ve made the call, through saying nothing at all, by hiding away, by pretending you don’t need to comment, to support your Immigration Minister Dutton’s blatant lies, designed to demonise asylum seekers by accusing them of paedophilia. We all know it’s messy for you to call Dutton out, to say he’s lied, to take responsibility for sacking him as Immigration Minister; he’s just as dangerous to you as Abbott. But Malcolm, just because something is messy and hard and takes a bit of bravery, doesn’t mean you need to rule it out. Were you never told as a child that nothing worthwhile was ever easy?
And what about your friend, your supporter, Kelly O’Dwyer? As you no doubt have guessed, I’m no more a fan of O’Dwyer as I am of you. But for the sake of humanity, I am offended on her behalf at the thought of a mother at home with a week-old baby finding that a collective of millionaires are colluding with two people I’m fairly safe to assume you don’t think much of, Abbott and Credlin, to steal her job. I get that you must be seething about this turn of events and that O’Dwyer probably knows she has your support in private. But you’re the Prime Minister, Malcolm. The public need your support too. The public need to see you standing up for yourself, standing up against bullies, standing up against liars and haters and connivers, who undermine public confidence in the government, who undermine your ability to run the country. Photo ops wearing camouflage just show how desperate you are. What’s next, an ever-growing array of Australian flags following you around? Your desperation stinks Malcolm. It is as humiliating to us, as it is to you.
So, enough is enough Malcolm. Since you won’t say anything, I will. You’re not cut out for the job. You’re not built of strong enough stuff. There is zero evidence you have any interest in the national interest. All we see is you taking the path of least resistance to give yourself a cosy job. You’ve let me down. You’ve let yourself down. You’ve let the country down. Resign before any more damage is done.
Our relationship is over. Please delete my number, unfriend me on Facebook and un-tag me from all of your photos. In fact, it might be best if you never mention we were friends to anyone, ever. I would prefer you pretend you don’t know me because, you know, it’s pretty embarrassing for anyone to know how close we once were.
I can’t totally forget the good memories, but your disgraceful behaviour has tainted them. I grew up thinking you were like this cool older cousin who always made me laugh and who I could trust to be brave whenever I needed you. You always had the good guy winning. The aliens were always defeated, the asteroid never once destroyed the earth, the bomb got close to going off but never did, the super-hero always saved the day, and the story unfailingly had a happy ending. That’s what you got me used to. That’s the image I have of you in my head. That’s what I was brought up to expect to happen. It was always so satisfying to see the brave and the strong battle adversity and come out on top. You taught me so many great life lessons; to never give up, to always believe in myself, and to do it all with a cheesy self-confident grin. But all this is ruined now. In the place of love and affection, all that is left is hurt and regret for ever trusting you in the first place. You’ve become a mean, nasty, racist, woman-hating, bitter, twisted shadow of your former self, so much so that I hardly recognise you. You’ve betrayed me so badly, I promise I will never trust you again.
We thought it was a joke at first. You know, like your crazy habit of building up all the tension, and then at the last minute, sweeping in and saving the day. But this time, this time it’s turned into a nightmare. When he said he could shoot someone and people would still vote for him, well, we were a little surprised he still got the nomination after that. We gave you the benefit of the doubt and we watched the debates and after that, it was obvious he just wasn’t cut out for the job and we were sure you agreed with us. The wall building, and the racism, and the hatred, and the division, we thought that was totally the opposite of what you were like. Then came the pussy-grabbing, and particularly us females, well we were hurt and outraged that he was even given a chance to excuse that behaviour because frankly, we thought we were all way past this boys-will-be-boys defence for sexual assault. And the lies, America. The lies were so blatant and so constant. We thought you were against lying and cheating, because we’ve always been taught, from a very young age, that liars and cheats never prosper. That bad people don’t win? What happened to those values America? What happened to truth, fairness and being good? How have you lost your way so badly?
From where we’re sitting, it was more than a little suspicious that he wouldn’t release his tax returns. He quite clearly hadn’t paid any tax, but somehow you guys over there didn’t really seem to mind. Then the contractors started lining up, telling us all about how he conned them out of the money he owed them, and how he sent their small business broke. He went on and on about his amazing business skills, but all this defied logic when it was so clear his fortune wasn’t anything like he said it was, and his father had bailed him out every time he lost everything. If there’s one thing we knew about you, it was how much you love business success, so you can imagine how confusing it was for us to hear about all his failures, but for you still to claim he knew what he was doing? You never seemed to ask for details and always believed he could just wave a magic wand and make everything ok. How has this happened America? How could you possibly all be so stupid? How did you not ask for details? How did you take this weirdo at his word? How did you never check the details?
But right up until today, call us suckers, we kept the faith in you. We kept saying that it would all work out in the end. We trusted that maybe you were a little lost, but that you would wake up and you would say enough is enough, this can’t be good for everyone, and that justice would prevail after all. No matter how unhappy you were, we thought you’d find a way, together, to make things right. We never thought hate would win over love. You’re the ones who always showed us this could never happen. You’re the reason we believed you would do the right thing.
After reading this, you can understand why we’re so disappointed in you, and must sever all ties going forward. We would have liked to have enough good will left to wish you well, but unfortunately after the way you’ve disregarded our feelings, our fear of nuclear holocaust, and our economies which still haven’t got over the last time your sub-prime-mortgage scandal screwed us all, we haven’t anything nice left to say to you.
We do feel sorry for all of you who fought hard to stop this happening. If any of the good-Americans would like to find homes somewhere else, we’ll do our best to accommodate you.
To the rest of you selfish fuckers – you deserve everything you get. Enjoy your evil, lying, cheating, ugly orange-man hampster-head making all your laws and screwing all your lives. The fairy tale America is dead. You’re dead to us now. Welcome to your own self-made Armageddon.
The rest of the world
I am writing in response to your allegation that the mining industry has been ‘treated shabbily’ by Australia. Apparently you don’t think they’ve had a fair deal, what with the billions of dollars of profit they’ve sucked out of the earth, from the dirt owned by Australian citizens. What would you like? For us all to give the mining executives a big hug, or a pat on the back, to say ‘thanks for royally screwing us over?’ Perhaps you would like us to cook them each a cake? A mud cake perhaps? Sorry. It never occurred to me to do this.
But hang on. You’ve said what you want. You want there to be a section in the Australian curriculum where school students are taught to bow down to the rich miners and kiss their toes, begging them to hire them to drive trucks for big bucks, and to spend weeks away from their family at a time, to live the Australian dream of helping mining executives get rich? What should this part of the curriculum be called Peter? Perhaps it could be a whole subject? Kissing Gina’s arse? How about, how-to-rip-off-battlers-to-line-the-pockets-of-shareholders? How about a practical-lesson-in-sending-Australia’s-wealth-overseas so none of us get any benefit from it unless we’re wealthy enough to have huge superannuation accounts? Wealth inequality for dummies perhaps?
But you really do have a point, in your funny old way of being wrong while still somehow managing to make sense. A bit like how you claim to be a really great ex-Treasurer, and to be oh so worried about debt and deficit, while also conveniently ignoring that little problem of your actual legacy which, low and behold, screwed all of us. I see a pattern of incompetence forming here. Richard Denniss puts your yearly cost to Australia at $56 billion dollars per year. Ouch Peter! What is it you like to say about inter-generational theft? Maybe everyone should learn all about your incompetence at school? Maybe we should have a Royal Commission into Peter Costello’s Incompetence to get to the bottom of how you managed to leave such economic destruction in your wake?
But really Peter, you’ve got a point about the mining industry deserving a place in the school curriculum. In fact, I applaud your call to give our children a chance to learn how they missed out on a once in a generation mining boom because the mining industry, with the help of your Liberals, crushed Labor’s super-profit tax in order to protect their unfair rort of taking all the wealth for themselves. I definitely think it’s a great idea to educate children about the ills of wealth inequality, so that they understand that life doesn’t have to be this way. They have a right to be told by their teachers that people like you shouldn’t be making decisions on their behalf. Because you don’t have their best interests at heart. And nor do the mining executives who you like to exalt as the mythical heroes of the Australian economy. I’m sure Australian children will be very interested to learn how your Liberals cancelled their chance to get their fair share of mining’s benefits, from the soil they all collectively own. They’ll no doubt be howling about this when they find out how much superannuation they’ve missed out on, money they needed in retirement. They’ll be pissed when they find out you preferred to let the mining executives live it up on their dime, stealing from their bank accounts so they’ll have to retire the day before they die. Good on you Peter. It’s definitely a good idea to tell all the kiddies about this con. Education is, after all, the key to a better future.
Speaking of education, I wonder if you have the figures at hand of how much education funding we could have enjoyed had your government, the one where you controlled the money, thought about taxing the mining industry properly and putting that revenue somewhere useful, such as into the education budget? Actually, let’s not get you to do the sums because we know how hopeless you are with accounting. Remember the time you sold all the gold at rock bottom price. When I say ‘the gold’, just to be clear, it wasn’t your gold Peter, it was ours. Remember when you lost billions of dollars of Australian money, money that belonged to those school children who never heard anything about it?
Now I come to think of it, you really should be ashamed of yourself Peter. You’ve screwed over the Australian people time and time again. I have no idea why anyone thinks it would be a good idea to listen to your opinion about anything. What are you doing these days anyway? When you retired you said it was to spend more time with your family. But then I recall, you’ve been appointed to, hang on, what the actual… Australia’s independent sovereign wealth fund. That’s really taking the piss Peter. You’re the last person I would let even think about walking anywhere near Australia’s Future Fund, let alone giving you the keys and letting you drain it all away, sell the farm and watch the proceeds melt to nothing, until the future is free of any funds. But of course you still get paid. What a joke Peter. What an absolute joke. Who on earth would give you such a responsible position, when you’re so clearly ideologically inappropriate and incompetently reckless with money to boot? I think I can guess.
I think it’s time you did the whole country a favour and just go away. And in particular, stay away from the young people Peter. You’ve done enough damage. You’ve treated us all very shabbily. It’s time we had a chance to fix your mistakes for the benefit of all our futures.
On the day you took the job of Prime Minister of Australia, you laid your flag in the ideological-dirt by proclaiming your intention to run a ‘thoroughly Liberal Government committed to freedom, the individual and the market’. I’ll cut to the chase. This letter calls bullshit on your misrepresentation of the word ‘freedom’. I think it’s time we all saw through this smug cover for what you are really running: a market that benefits the privileged over everyone else.
Let’s have a look at what the word freedom actually means. Here are two useful definitions: ‘The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint’. ‘Exemption from external control, interference, regulation’. Comparing these descriptions to the rules that you prefer to run the Australian economy by, it’s obvious that your idea of a ‘free market’ makes us all, collectively, not-free.
The muddying of the water starts with your notion that government regulation constrains freedom. The only thing government regulation does, which is why, coincidentally, you don’t like it, is to constrain the greed of you and your rich mates so you can’t monopolise resources in order to keep getting richer. The fact is, your ‘rich get richer’ rules are constraining our economy and in turn, our collective wealth. Government policies which level the playing field are actually making us all freer, and richer. All of us.
Let’s look at your job as an example. If there existed a free market for the job of Prime Minister, the only thing I would need to get this job is to be the most merited candidate. Tony Abbott disproves the freedom of the Prime Minister market by showing that any moron, born with a silver spoon, with a private school education, who lives in a blue-ribbon Liberal seat full of voters who would vote for the Liberal candidate even if that candidate was a misogynist bucket of cement, who can box his way to Oxford, is eligible for the top job. No merit required.
You also disprove the idea of meritocracy in the market for Prime Minister yourself, through your waffling-weak-incompetence, which so far in a year has made you a bigger disappointment than the Australian swimming team at Rio. In your world, freedom might mean the availability of means in which to donate $2 million dollars to your own campaign, without even noticing it gone, to ensure you win government by a one seat majority. But that’s not merit Malcolm. That’s buying your way out of trouble.
What this really comes down to is that you say freedom fries and I say potato. Where you see freedom in mining markets, I see big miners paying their way out of a fair rate of tax for selling resources that belong to Australians. Where you see freedom in healthcare, where the rich have access to better lifesaving services, I see those who can’t afford the services locked into health problems that limit their freedom to do what they want with their lives. Where you see freedom when your government stops taking responsibility for a social safety net, and hollowing out services for the disadvantaged, I see a small square box that locks poor people into prison-like poverty, where they don’t have any freedom to live their lives in dignity. Where you see freedom in education, where the rich can buy their way to test scores that privilege their futures over those who weren’t born into wealth, I see the poor chained at the bottom rung of the ladder, which they have no hope of climbing because your rules have removed the rungs. This is not freedom Malcolm. This is entrenched privilege. This is stacking the deck in favour of the people who already own the deck and all the deck chairs on it.
You have famously said, over and over again, that there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian. I beg to differ. Australia was better off without you and your greedy ideological crusade to lock us all away from a free Australia. A truly free market promoting government, under the real definition of the word free, would provide all the necessary regulatory requirements to ensure there is nothing constraining the freedom of all citizens to live a fulfilling life; to have the healthcare, the education, the job and career opportunities, the quality of life that should be afforded equally no matter the circumstances they are born into, to anyone who has the motivation and strive to achieve it.
Australia will never be the best version of itself until we strip away the limits to our freedom, which stop us meeting our full potential. When the rules you want us to play by mean that all the resources for wealth are unequally cloistered away by the upper-echelons of the wealthiest in society, and sometimes diverted into Panama tax havens, in order to privilege only the already rich and their offspring, to buy their way to success, to remove freedom for everyone else to compete, you do the whole country a disservice. When our collective talents aren’t given every opportunity to contribute – the freedom to contribute – our country is stifled by your rules of the game, where, low and behold, only people like you, the undeserving, can win.
You need to get out of the way of real freedom Malcolm. You need to stop being a roadblock in the way of meritocracy and embrace the true meaning of the word ‘free’. Only then will it really be an exciting time to be an Australian.
Isn’t democracy fun? I know I’m a rarity in my love for politics but even if you hate politics, I still think elections can be fun. Think of your vote like a shopping trip, but instead of buying new shoes you’re going out to buy your future. What could be more fun than shopping for your future? And you don’t even need your credit card.
Australians usually do a pretty good job of their election shopping. Australia is an awesome place to live. But every so often, like three years ago, we make a really bad choice and choose horrible futures, such as the recent past we’ve had to endure under the Abbott/Turnbull government. We have a chance on Saturday to correct this mistake and I’m just hoping you’re awake Australia, ready to make the smart choice.
Please don’t fall for the great catch-cry of the uninformed who say there is no choice between the two major parties. There is a reason these people are uninformed; because they don’t have the capacity to inform themselves. If we’ve learned nothing else from our UK cousins making the Brexit and now the Regrexit decision, who were madly googling ‘what is the EU’ after they’d already voted to leave, it is that it’s really important to be at least a little bit informed before you make your choice. Here is one plank you can use to bridge the information gap.
You could vote for a Liberal government. You could go to Bunnings, buy a hammer and smash yourself in the face with it. You could pretend that even though you hated everything about Abbott and every idea he ever had, that Turnbull will change everything as soon as he gets the magic word, and then everything will be alright again. Even though deep in your heart you know Turnbull would have changed everything already if he really wanted to and the only reason he hasn’t is because he actually agreed with all of Abbott’s policies when he sat in Abbott’s cabinet, and the only thing they disagreed about was which one of them should be Prime Minister.
I know it’s disappointing that the end of the whole Abbott debacle brought no relief to the horrors of Abbott, and that Turnbull has been so piss-weak, letting Cory Bernardi run the government while he flaffs and waffles and spins and shakes his glasses at you to mansplain why he’s smarter than you are and you should just shut up and stop asking questions about views he previously claimed to have which have disappeared as quickly as a raw onion in Abbott’s lizard-like-grip. Life is disappointing sometimes. Do you know what I find disappointing? People voting for Turnbull, pretending he’s not exactly the same as Abbott and pretending Turnbull’s wish to scrap penalty rates isn’t evidence he would bring back WorkChoices in the blink of the eye if you give him even a sniff of a mandate to destroy wages and conditions.
You could vote Liberal and get a cheque for your footy club facilities whilst ignoring the contradiction of apparent debt-and-deficit disaster and the shower of pork-barrel-bribes during an election.
You could vote Liberal and pretend that you don’t mind the rort of a Direct Action Policy paying polluters tax-payer funds whilst failing to reach emissions targets because you actually don’t mind climate change destroying your future, nor do you mind Australia coming last in the race to build renewable energy industry which could have created a well-paid job for you or your offspring had it not ceased to exist under a Liberal government.
You could vote Liberal and tell yourself the three-word-slogan ‘Jobs and Growth’ is all the evidence you need of an economic plan, and that a $50 billion tax-cut-gift-to-the-rich-just-like-Turnbull-who-use-offshore-tax-havens-and-mostly-don’t-even-live-in-Australia will eventually trickle down to you and make you gloriously rich when deep down you know this will never happen and that it is fantasy to think it will and that really all this tax cut will do is make the mostly offshore rich richer and you’ll end up paying the difference in loss of essential services and increase in your taxes, possibly through an increase in the GST down the track even though Liberals said they wouldn’t do that, since Howard did exactly the same thing when he said he wouldn’t bring in the GST and then did anyway.
Are you an unemployed young person? Vote Liberal and earn $4 an hour doing who-knows-what and don’t you dare complain nor Murdoch’s flying monkeys will come after you.
You could vote Liberal to keep the boats stopped even though the net impact this policy has had on your life is to make you feel a little warmer in your nastiness towards people who don’t look like you, where you enjoy picturing five year old children living indefinitely in squalid conditions to the point where they’re so distraught they want to kill themselves.
You could vote Liberal and rip up Labor’s Gonski funding model, denying perhaps your children, or your friends children, or your grandchildren, or the children you haven’t had yet, and the economy as a whole the chance to be as smart and productive as it has the potential to be.
You could vote Liberal and be charged more to go to the doctor, more to buy medicine, more to have a pathology test, and be happy to rip billions out of presumably what you hope to be high quality care in hospitals when you need it most. These are the types of choices that make the starkest difference between a great country and a mean-spirited-user-pays-and-if-you’re-not-born-rich-that’s-your-problem-just-fuck-off-and-die country.
You could vote Liberal and get a National Broadband Network which leaves us languishing behind our trading partners in internet speed, and keeps you three episodes behind on Games of Thrones thanks to how long the bloody thing takes to download. You could vote Liberal to unleash the bigots on gay couples in a $160 million dollar plebiscite which Turnbull’s team is busily finding loopholes to completely ignore. You could vote Liberal and keep being outbid at auctions by tax-payer-subsidised investors who will knock down your dream home and sub-divide for profit, so they can buy their unborn children three homes each.
Or you could vote Labor and get the opposite of all of the above.
The choice is yours Australia.
On Monday you asked this question on Twitter and seemed quite flabbergasted about the situation, so I thought I’d do you the favour of writing to you with some answers so you don’t do what you threaten and completely give up. Because we need you!
‘How in the name of God is it sustainable that half the working population don’t pay any income tax… I completely give up.’
Firstly, as you were told in response to this tweet, in fact the figure isn’t half, but more like a third, outlined by Greg Jericho on Thursday. So why don’t a third of the working population pay any income tax? If you think hard enough about this question, the answer might come to you but I’ll just tell you to save you the mental energy: it’s because a third of our working population don’t earn very much money.
In your career, I’m going to assume you’ve never earned so little that your annual income was below the tax-free threshold, except maybe when you were a teenager or perhaps a university student. At this point, I just want to clarify that you’re upset about the people who don’t pay income tax because they earn little, and not the millionaires who pay no income tax? Am I right? You’re worried about the people like Duncan Storrar who don’t pay income tax, but as Duncan cleverly pointed out, do pay GST and petrol tax, which has a much larger impact on his overall income because this tax is such a large chunk of his income since he earns so little? Glad we cleared that up.
If you read the comments on Jericho’s article, you might think people are upset with you, but I think they all misunderstood. Really, you should be applauded for being so concerned about the sustainability of this situation, because you’re right! It’s not sustainable to have such a large portion of the population earning so little and the government really should do something to fix this problem! I can see now you’re campaigning to raise the minimum wage, and you’re saying we most definitely should not be paying young people $4 an hour as that’s just going to entrench them in a cycle of poverty of which they may never get out. You’re also obviously saying that workers deserve a greater share of profits, since they’re the ones doing the work, instead of all the spoils going to the shareholders and over-paid executives which is entrenching wealth inequality. I agree Peter! Good on you. Good on you for making this point and don’t you ever give up making it.
You should, Peter, however, be very careful to make yourself more clear in your standing up for the little guys, because it’s understandable that your concern was taken out of context. This context is the world of your right-wing-buddies (where you are apparently a moderate?!?) who are busy using stats like you’ve used to argue that half the population, who pay income tax, are supporting the other half of the population who don’t pay income tax. This rhetoric leads to the narrative of the haves supporting the have nots, the lifters supporting the leaners, the hard-workers supporting the bludgers.
Don’t get me wrong, we’re used to being outright told by the likes of you and your political bed-fellows that the unemployed are a drain on the up-standing-tax-paying members of society, but it’s coming as quite a shock, I must admit, that the ‘drain’ narrative is now being applied to poor workers as well. It doesn’t make much sense to me that people who go to work and earn very little for that work should somehow be framed as the problem in our society. Apart from the fact that this vilification ignores the valuable contribution many low-income workers make to our society, contribution which you, no doubt, place no value on, but for which the country wouldn’t survive without such as looking after people too young, old or sick to look after themselves, or volunteering in their local community. Two year olds are too young to go to work, you are no doubt disappointed to hear, and they’re not very good at looking after themselves either. You were two years old once Peter, and I’m sure you weren’t left to fend for yourself.
But I digress. Apart from this un-paid and under-appreciated contribution, which by the way is mostly made by women, as any credible economists will tell you, the economy is 100% reliant on its consumer base, which is made up of both people who do pay income tax and people who don’t. Low and middle-income workers have to eat, have to feed their families, have to buy clothes, petrol, pay rent or mortgages, have to exist somehow and existence costs money. This is the very same money, out of the pockets of the poor, out of the wallets of the minimum wage earners, which flows into cash registers, into the economy, into the tax system, and eventually a chunk of that money flows into your wallet, into your pocket, into your privileged world where you can’t even imagine not being able to afford to go out to dinner with friends, to own your own home, to buy a car, to wear expensive suits, to take your children to the movies, to have an iPhone, and probably an iPad where you send snarky tweets, where you voice your outrage at the unsustainability of a system stacked against low-income earners. I could also note that none of the spending of these people, who have so little that they spend everything they earn, none of this spending leaks out of the economy into unproductive activities like speculation on the stock-market and tax-avoidance in Panama. Just saying.
You should more careful about what you say Peter, and careful what you wish for. I agree that it’s completely unsustainable to have so many people in society earning so little and the rich taking all the spoils and the investment properties for themselves. Wealth inequality is bad for all of us. I look forward to you using your television show to campaign about this issue in the future.
In solidarity comrade.
It’s time to admit it. You’ve been on a pretty good wicket with negative gearing. I don’t want to hear you complaining about Labor’s changes because let’s face it; you’re taking the piss to expect Australian tax payers to keep subsidising your lifestyles.
I’m hoping most of you will keep quiet and continue to fly under the tax office radar since Labor’s grandparenting their proposed changes, and you’ll therefore be able to keep using your accumulated wealth as a tax-dodge strategy. I’ve got nothing against you doing this, because it has been totally legal. But what I have got something against is the idea of you complaining about changes to end the legality of what really constitutes a massive rort causing structural wealth inequality that is bad for our entire society. You heard me. Wealth inequality is bad for all of us and that’s why it’s time you came to terms with the fact that this policy is going to change and that you should just be pleased you will continue to get away with it because you were lucky enough to start doing it before everyone realised how unfairly your wealth was accumulating. And realise we have!
We have a Prime Minister who claims it’s never been a more exciting time to be Australian. But what he really meant was that it’s never been a more exciting time than in the past 30 years to be a property-investing-Australian. Rolling equity into more and more wealth. Making money by literally just sitting on your arse, watching the rent go into your account, and the property value go up, and then using this wealth to reduce how much tax you pay. Scott Morrison showed off his economic-illiteracy this week by claiming property investors mostly earn less than $80,000 a year, when we all know the only reason the tax office has you in the ‘earning less than $80,000 a year’ bucket is because you use negative gearing to reduce your taxable income down to less than $80,000. We all know you have a tax accountant showing you how to legally reduce your taxable income to a fraction of what average workers have to pay, who own a fraction of the wealth that you own.
I am not going to sit back and accept your scare-campaign to fight these changes, because we’ve all had enough of the rich using fear to stop everyone else getting a fair deal. The mining tax fear campaign was based on lies. The carbon price fear campaign was vested interests paying to fix the result. One of Australia’s largest beneficiaries of Australia’s property speculation boom, real estate agent turned mogul John McGrath, apparently isn’t doing stand-up comedy when he ‘warned of a WEALTH KILLER TAX’. Wealth killer? Get a grip John. For every established home sold to a first time owner-occupier, there is one less renter in the market and one less renter means one less property investment needed and at the end of this change, there is still one property, one family living in it, one family benefiting from the wealth that owning this property brings them and zero-net change in overall property wealth of the country. It’s just that the wealth is shared amongst more people, rather than being concentrated in the hands of a few. But you knew that didn’t you. Because that’s exactly what landlords are scared off. Property investors hate the idea of reducing wealth inequality because wealth inequality has been so beneficial to them. At the expense of everyone else. Well everyone else is sick of it. The party’s over. Quit your whining.
I am proud of Australia when we can have mature discussions about problems that need fixing, when we can talk about the best way to fix them. Landlords will still exist under Labor’s plans, but you will have to build new homes and if that sounds like too much effort to you, then fine, don’t do it. Becoming wealthy and building wealth, in a productive, growing economy, shouldn’t be as easy as turning up to an auction and signing a cheque. Wealth should be built through hard work, through ingenuity, through patience, innovation, entrepreneurialism, risk-taking, careful management of income and savings, doing something you love, having a career, creating jobs. Imagine how beneficial to the economy it would be if you all invested in new and established businesses rather than another negatively-geared investment property?
Professional landlords who build personal wealth by owning so many investment properties that they don’t even bother with negative gearing because they don’t have an actual job, and instead just gather rents, are the very definition of rent-seekers – the term used to describe those who take from the pie but don’t grow it. A smart country doesn’t encourage such unproductive behaviour. A smart country doesn’t stand for vested-interests fighting against smart policies and a smart country therefore gets rid of the scare-campaign Liberal government run by vested-interests who don’t want to see their privileged inequity addressed.
Labor is brave to take on the threat of another Liberal scare campaign to fight for the little guy. Landlords are not the little guys in this fight. The young family who rent your fourth investment property, who have been asking you for 6 months to fix the air-conditioning unit, which you refuse to do until your accountant confirms you can reduce your tax by doing it, who move houses every time your financial advisor tells you to sell and speculate on bigger profits elsewhere, who can’t even put a hook in the wall to hang a family portrait without your permission, who have been saving for five years for a deposit, but the longer they save, the quicker house prices rise beyond their reach, who compete on an unequal playing field with you at auctions, who just want a house for their family to get attached to, who aren’t interested in how much equity will return them when they sell, who just want a place to call home, are the little guys. I am proud to get behind Labor to fight this good fight for the little guys. I hope you can see it’s a fight you’ll lose.
Dear Cool Kids
This is a letter from all the tweeps and bloggers you describe as ‘brokens’. I know how much you hate open letters so I chose this form of communication particularly to piss you off. Not that I have to try very hard to piss you off because clearly us ‘brokens’ piss you off just by our very existence.
Before I go on, I should explain this school-yard scenario to those unfamiliar.
My first experience of being called a ‘broken’ was this exchange on Twitter after I posted an article I wrote on the Labor Herald:
If this looks a bit like one writer making herself feel good by putting down another, that’s because it is. This is Paula Matthewson (@Drag0nista) laughing behind my back in the locker room because I’m not wearing trendy enough clothes. Or I care too much about the things I write about. Or I don’t earn money for writing. Or something. Note that since Paula is one of the meaner of the Cool Kids, she is being especially nasty-cool by misspelling broken as ‘broekens’. I’m guessing that’s because I’m extra-broken.
At the time, I was so uncool, I didn’t even know what language this Cool Kid was speaking, so I just assumed Paula had mis-typed some rude put-down and moved on. But then over the last week, I’ve seen the phrase ‘brokens’ popping up all over Twitter and it’s become a bit of a pile-on bully fest of the Cool Kids asserting their authority over those who dare use social media and blogging to write about topics the Cool Kids deem to be laughably uncool.
One of my favourite Tweeps, aptly named @geeksrulz, who, like me, comes from the clan of broken, has laid out the whole story eloquently here. The reason it’s funny he’s done it Buzzfeed style is because Mark Di Stefano, political reporter from Buzzfeed, one of the chief Cool Kids, ignited much of the ‘broken’ sledging with this tweet:
If you’re a little confused by now about how Mark Di Stefano, who is ridiculed by the Coolest of the Cool Kids in the mainstream media, came to be chief bully-boy, you only have to remember back to year 9 when the kid that was picked on the most had a growth spurt over Summer and went to the gym and got muscly and came back as the bully-from-hell due to his misguided belief that to stop being bullied one must become a bully.
Leaving out of Mark’s list ‘Schapelle truthers’, which was only put in there for extra-ridicule, it should beggar belief that a so-called political journalist, albeit using a new form of media in Buzzfeed list form, but journalist nevertheless, would laugh at people who write about, discuss and generally care about newsworthy stories such as Ashbygate and the NBN story from this week, which independent news site New Matilda expertly delivered.
What Mark is basically saying on behalf of the Cool Kids, is that stories about a plot to topple a government and to destroy the career of an elected MP and Speaker, and another story about our public broadcaster directing a tech journalist not to publish a piece critical of a potential future Liberal government’s NBN policy due to political pressure, is not the type of journalism that proper journalists like him are interested in. And so when the journalistic void this attitude creates is filled by independent writers, and discussed by independent voices on social media, like paying out the kids who are nerdy enough to do their maths homework and actually care about passing high-school, there is something wrong with the void-filling brokens. Sadly this is not unbelievable because it’s oh so typical of the way our media operates.
The good news for the brokens, and the bad news for the Cool Kids, is the brokens are going to be on the right side of history in this Twitter-feud. I don’t just mean that we’re on the right side of history because anyone who is working in the public interest, whether for money or just because they can, is doing the right thing. I also mean that we brokens are the Uber drivers taking over the taxi industry because the taxi drivers have been offering a bad service with poor air-conditioning and not letting us choose the radio station for too long. Consumers of media don’t have to put up with taxi drivers who don’t turn up because there are us brokens offering them the information they need, disseminated for free over the internet and accessible by everyone.
Remember when the Geek from highschool turned up at the 10 year reunion with a better career than the Cool Kids who used to laugh at her behind the bike sheds? Laugh all you like Cool Kids. It’s water off a duck’s back to us brokens. Never has it been so cool to be so broken.
As we head into 2016, many people are reflecting on the year that has passed. But I’ve had enough of looking back at 2015, so instead I’m looking ahead. And while I do this, I just wanted to check with you if you’re sure about what you said about it never being a more exciting time to be Australian? I’ll admit now, I don’t feel excited about our future. I feel a sense of trepidation and doubt. Just like your government told me to.
To give you some context, I am a 34 year old with a husband and one child. My husband and I have careers that we enjoy, a comfortable home and a great lifestyle. We have all the ingredients for this exciting time you keep harping on about. But what is missing is optimism about the future. I don’t think I’m alone amongst my generation in my sense of doom and gloom about what the future holds for us. But can you really blame us after the last 7 years we’ve had? Let’s have a look at what might have dented the optimism of Australia’s young families over the last few years so you’ll understand why we’re struggling with understanding why on earth you think we should be excited.
Just as our careers were being established, the Global Financial Crisis hit. We were lucky enough to live in a country with a government at the time who acted quickly to avert disaster, and a recession was avoided. The rest of the world weren’t so lucky. Of course world financial crises are bad for everyone in a globalised market; it’s hard to think of many industries in Australia who didn’t take a hit. Nevertheless, our economy chugged along and didn’t go backwards, and we avoided devastating unemployment and its associated social problems far better than most other developed economies. So why didn’t we feel excited? I’ll tell you why. It’s because your Liberal Party – while in opposition and in government – turned Australia’s death-defying-recession-avoiding stimulus package into a bad thing for the economy and told everyone that the Labor government were wrong for doing it. And guess what? When you tell everyone the economy is ruined and that debt and deficit monsters are hiding under the bed and that the country is going to-hell-in-a-handbasket because we spent money saving the economy from ruin, guess how everyone feels when they’ve seen this all on the news every day for 7 years? Everyone feels a bit nervous! And then what happens? The economy feels a bit nervous and there is no optimism. See how your party’s political games cost this country 7 years of hope and optimism?
So now you’re here, telling us to be happy, to be excited, to get out there and invest in new businesses and to be entrepreneurs and to create the future jobs and to make a bright future for ourselves. But how are we meant to do this when you’ve spent all this time telling us the economy is a debt-ridden, risky, job-less mess? How are we meant to do this when you and your Liberal mates have turned this economy into a debt-ridden, risky, job-less mess? Hardly any of us have had a proper pay rise in 7 years and house prices are just getting more and more unobtainable on our stagnant wages. Jobs are disappearing too, even in new industries that were just getting started, like in the renewable energy sector. Do you see how your political games have hurt our country and how throwing around a few phrases about ‘exciting times’ is about as little too late as thinking you can eat a birthday cake after it’s already been flushed down a toilet?
But it’s not only the economy we’ve all been told is a big, scary, mess, thereby having any optimism and confidence kicked out of us. It is climate change too. Sorry to have to remind you again, but you’re the Prime Minister so you can do something about climate change now. You’re not just a white-anting, back-stabbing, sniggering-behind-Abbott’s-back never-crossed-the-floor-and-therefore-just-as-responsible-for-this-mess-of-a-government-as-the-rest-of-the-bastards Minister in the Abbott government anymore. You’re the new Prime Minister in the Abbott-Turnbull government. Adelaide is having the earliest, hottest December heatwave we’ve ever had, and across the world there is evidence of climate change expressing itself in natural disasters everywhere. Our generation, who were told by your government that the Carbon Price was an unnecessary extravagance the economy couldn’t afford, is now really scared by the knowledge that even with agreement in Paris, it is likely too late to undo a lot of the damage inaction by governments like yours has caused. What’s exciting about that?
And then of course we have the social policies your government is busily being very anti-social about. Eating away at universal healthcare. Taking family tax benefits from families, paid parental leave from new mothers, making it harder for the poorest in society to make ends meet. And we’re told we can never retire because the government piggy bank won’t have any money in it for us once the baby boomer generation has been cared for well into their 90s. And what about tax policies – when you could be going after the richest of the richest companies to pay only what they legally should be paying, but you refuse to do that and instead are driving up our cost of living by ‘talking about’ increasing the GST. We know you’re going to do it so just get it over and done with already. The impact of that decision on consumer confidence (and by consumer I mean everyone who lives here), will be another dagger in the heart of the economy.
I have absolutely no doubt it’s always been a very exciting time to be Malcolm Turnbull with your little white fluffy dogs in your harbour side mansion. But ‘excited’ is not a word I would use to describe the overarching vibe of my generation who has been pummelled by your political party for political purposes for far too long. In fact, the only thing that excites me about the future in 2016 is the chance to vote you and your excitement-killing government out with you. That is something to be optimistic about.
Out of genuine curiosity, I visited your website to find out what this ‘Reclaim Australia’ malarkey is all about. You all seem to be very worked up, so I’m hoping this letter lets you off the hook and gives you your weekends and evenings back to enjoy this great country we live in, free of hatred and bitterness. You’re welcome.
First of all, the name of your movement is a problem. ‘Reclaim’ is defined as ‘to get back (something that was lost or taken away)’. You say you want to ‘reclaim Australia’, so I can only assume that you think you have lost Australia, or Australia has been taken from you and that you want to get it back. From my experience of the English language, in order to get something back, that something would have to belong to you in the first place. So are you saying you own Australia? I hope you’re not, because I find it very upsetting to think my country is owned by anyone. I live in a free democratic society. It is not owned by you. It does not belong to the government. UK’s Royal Family don’t own Australia. The fact is, Australia doesn’t belong to anyone. Because everyone who lives in Australia belongs to it. Every single person. Those born here. Those who used to live somewhere else and now live here. Every Australian from every age group, gender, religion, cultural background, occupation, absolutely everyone who calls Australia home for a long time or a short time, everyone who goes to bed each night and wakes up each morning in Australia, belongs to Australia. Not the other way around. I hope you understand this important distinction. There is no way to reclaim something that doesn’t belong to you, so therefore there is no logical way to reclaim Australia. I’m glad we’ve cleared this up.
Another mistake you seem to have made in revving up fear, anger and hatred towards your fellow Australians, presumably because you are scared of anyone who is not like you, and of people who experience Australia differently than you do, is to accuse one particular group of Australians of taking Australia away from you. I find this idea ridiculous. If you don’t like the religion of Islam, don’t be Islamic. If you don’t like Islamic cultural practices, don’t practice them. If you don’t like Islamic people, leave them alone. They’re not hurting you, so why are you attacking them?
I don’t like seafood so I don’t eat seafood. Everyone else in my family likes seafood, and when they are enjoying their seafood, it doesn’t upset me because I have chosen to eat something else instead, such as chicken. I don’t rally against their prawns. I don’t throw their whiting at the wall in anger and make placards and whip up fellow non-seafood-eaters into a frenzy, organising hate rallies and unleashing gangs of face-tattooed-thugs to tell seafood eaters they are taking something from me that wasn’t mine in the first place.
Not that it’s any of your business, but I happen to be an atheist and have zero interest in any religion. But just like I don’t care if my family eats seafood, I don’t care if the family next door goes to church and worships a God I happen to believe doesn’t exist. I don’t care if the family next door goes to a Mosque and worships a different God I happen to believe doesn’t exist. Why don’t I care? Because other people’s seafood eating, and religious worship has no impact on my life and is therefore none of my business.
In this article a Reclaim Australia organiser, John Oliver, is quoted as saying ‘the vast majority of Reclaim supporters … are ordinary mums and dads’. If by ordinary, you mean racist, sure, they’re ordinary. In fact Islam isn’t a race but you’re still all racists and bigots and yes, I do call a spade a ‘spade’. I don’t like the idea of ‘mums and dads’ behaving in this way, taking their children to hate rallies, spreading lies about peaceful Australia loving Islamic Australians, bringing up children to fear and reject people who are different rather than embracing diversity and enjoying the cultural benefits of a multicultural and therefore, interesting, society. But really, if you want to be a racist bigot, that’s your business. I just wish you wouldn’t parade it around the streets where my family and friends are frightened by it.
Reclaim Australia is not about defending, in your words, ‘Aussies and Christianity, our holidays and celebrations, Christmas and Easter and ANZAC day’ as you may have noticed that these things are all safe and well and continuing as they always have without you needing to help them in any way. Reclaim Australia is not about ridding Australia, in your words, of ‘the ways of Islam’, including cultural considerations, Halal, forced segregation, female genital mutilation (which by the way also happens in Christian cultures), Sex Trafficking (also not an ‘Islamic’ problem) and wife beating (which you might have noticed is at epidemic proportions across all demographics in Australia, why don’t you rally against that?). Your website says ‘They have no place here in Australia’ and it’s clear by ‘they’ you mean anyone who is not white like you. But you’re wrong about this. All Australians belong to Australia. What there really is no place for is racism and bigotry, hate, violence and your scary, angry, unhinged and often armed brand of white-supremacy-extremism.
Frankly, the very thought of your organisation existing, and people who I possibly stand next to at the supermarket, and drive with on the roads, and maybe even live nearby, supporting your cause is terrifying. Terror. Terrorism. See what you’re doing? You’re terrorising Australia. If that’s what you set out to do, then *fist pump*, well done, you’ve achieved it. If you feel so sad that you don’t ‘belong’ in Australia anymore that you need to organise hate rallies against Australian society on our previously peaceful streets, maybe it is time you considered belonging somewhere else. Maybe you should leave Australia in peace.