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.
Is he worth it? Is Tony Abbott’s Prime Ministerialship worth it since he’s done such irreparable damage to your brand?
I have no doubt when Abbott won the election, you thought you’d done the right thing. After losing in 2007, I’m sure you were upset. But then losing again in 2010, after Abbott failed to negotiate to form a minority government, must have been torture. You must have been livid that Julia Gillard, a leader you despised, (a woman no less!), was so proficient at getting things done, developing progressive policies and negotiating to make them happen. Policies that filled you with dread that Australians might actually care about each other. I understand you’re all very confused about whether you’re neoliberal ideologues or socially conservative, and sometimes it’s hard to know what you really are because all you truly care about is looking after your business mates at the expense of workers. It makes it hard for you to have a persuasive narrative. Because some of you only care about keeping Australia backward, focussing on destroying socially progressive policies such as marriage equality, while the rest are only interested in your special brand of small-government-neoliberalism which is defined by a quest to increase the profits of those people who finance your campaigns. But you understood Gillard and Rudd, and the Labor Party, were a threat to all of you one way or another and therefore must be destroyed if you were ever going to undo all the progress they made. So you built the Abbott wrecking ball with this mission in mind. With the help of Rupert Murdoch and his flying monkeys in the conservative press, you designed this wrecking ball, this no-machine, this village idiot who spouts three word slogans like an android, in order to scare the electorate into giving the Liberal Party what you feel is your entitlement; power. And it all seemed to be going so well! That is, until the first day in the job when you surely immediately realised you’d made a mistake. And that’s why I ask whether this mistake was worth it. Maybe you’ve been too scared to ask yourself this question, let alone answer it. But now you’re heading towards the next election, surely you have to face reality at some point? How about I try answering the question for you and you can decide if you agree with me?
There are three reasons why Abbott was not worth it for the Liberal Party. He might have got you the term in government that you desperately wanted, but what has this term done to your future?
The first reason Abbott was certainly not worth it is because he’s impotent. Politically, he has achieved very little and made a huge amount of mess in the process. Yes, he got rid of the mining tax and the Carbon Price. But this caused problems for you too since revenue disappeared along with these policies. Yes, you think Abbott’s done wonders in ‘stopping the boats’. But once this promise helped win the election, what good did it actually do for your political fortune? Other than costing a lot of money to keep people locked up in a hell-hole indefinitely, and causing you to have to keep secret anything to do with boats, which you’re no doubt not happy about because you love demonising refugees so you must be sorry you’ve painted yourself into a ‘we can’t tell you what’s going on because you’re not going to like it’ corner. And then there was the promise Abbott made, which you no doubt regret, to not make any cuts to education, health, the ABC and SBS. But what is the point of a Liberal government that doesn’t make cuts to education, health, the ABC and SBS? I do understand that you have to pretend you’re something you’re not in order to get elected. It must be very stressful having to keep up this façade when all you really want to do is bring back WorkChoices. Either way, Abbott’s promises were quickly broken, so even where he has managed to make spending cuts, they’ve not been celebrated as you might have hoped, but rather accurately painted as lies and more fodder for the independents to block much of the ‘reform’ you would have liked to make. If reform is the right word for a hand-break-turn-around-and-go-backwards policy platform. This impotency is surely of concern to you.
The second reason I don’t think PM Abbott has been worth it for the Liberal Party is because he is deeply unpopular and very good at finding ways to increase his unpopularity. I don’t have time to give you the entire laundry lists of Abbott-stuff-ups that have contributed to his terrible polls, which you’ve no doubt noticed have been terrible since pretty much day one. Dodgy scholarships for his daughter, insane ‘captains picks’ such as the Knighting of Prince Philip, biting onions, shirt-fronting the Russian President, choosing only one woman in his cabinet and then making himself, a known misogynist, Minister for Women, a Speaker expense scandal and of course your own leadership spill shenanigans. Sometimes I wonder if Abbott is actually one giant satire comedy routine sent to entertain the lefty-lynch-mob on Twitter. I’m sure you’ve wondered the same thing. The bottom line is, Abbott as Prime Minister doesn’t make Australians proud to be Australian. The last poll I saw was Essential Poll which had the two party preferred figures at Liberal 47, Labor 53. And this is after Abbott’s spent most of the last few months doing his best to whip up fear about the ‘death cult’ with a growing collection of flags and tried unsuccessfully to mount a smear campaign against Bill Shorten. Is Abbott’s poll-boosting bag of tricks empty? This far out from an election and you’ve got nothing? This must be worrying for you.
The third and final reason why Abbott most definitely has not been worth it for the Liberal Party is because his incompetence in managing the economy is destroying your long-relied-on strategic mantle of claiming Liberal governments as better economic managers than Labor governments. Of course we all know this mantle isn’t based in reality. But nevertheless you’ve used it successfully to win power, along with scaring people about national security, for the past 20 years. But how can you possibly think you can keep using this ‘economic competency’ line when Abbott, and his Treasurer Hockey, are making such a mess of business confidence, consumer confidence, growth, unemployment, debt and deficit and pretty much every other economic indicator that Liberal voters apparently obsess over when deciding that they will again vote Liberal. The bottom line is, your wrecking ball, which you used so successfully to wreck Labor’s electoral fortune, has swung back and wrecked your ‘economic competence’ campaign line. What will you do without it? I suspect you’ll lose. And you may not win again until Abbott has been long-forgotten by the electorate. How long do you think that will take? 50 years? Maybe even 100?
You’re probably feeling a bit depressed now that you’ve seen my very valid reasoning as to why Abbott surely wasn’t worth it for the Liberal Party. You’re probably feeling a bit silly for being so short-sighted in your quest to get power that you’ve made such a huge #OneTermTony problem for yourselves. One term of power isn’t really enough to justify all the effort, and money, you put into getting Abbott elected. And this one term will likely ensure you won’t get another term for a very, very long time. I, however, have no sympathy for you. Like a drunk-fool with a horrible hangover, you brought this on yourself. So in the words of Darryl Kerrigan: ‘Hey. Bad luck. Ya dickhead!’
I will try to keep this letter brief as I know you have a short attention span and since you’ve never responded to my previous correspondence, I can only guess it was because they were longer than your brain capacity could absorb. The main topic of this letter is to let you know that I think you’re an opportunistic, petty, vindictive creep and that you’re running the country as if you would like to imagine that all Australians are equally as petty and vindictive as you. But we’re not. And you’re not going to win your soon to be announced election because we’re better than that.
Over the last 24 hours, Barack Obama, the greatest President America has ever had and possibly the best leader the world has ever seen, has once again shown what it is to be a visionary, compassionate, highly intelligent, gracious, composed and dignified statesman. He sang Amazing Grace at the funeral of Charleston murder victim Rev. Clementa Pinckney as if it was the most natural thing in the world for him to lead the chorus. He celebrated the decision by the US Supreme Court to recognise the constitutional legality of gay marriage by tweeting with hashtag #LoveWins. Obama is a giant of our world, whether you agree with his politics or not. And next to him, your pettiness, your aggression, your predilection for the path of least residence to the lowest common denominator makes you a meaningless flea. A blip that will be forgotten by history as a negative, sloganeering, fear-inducing, mean spirited low point of Australia’s history.
In the last 24 hours, you and your government have shown your true colours. With three terrorism attacks overseas in France, Kuwait and Tunisia, the pleasure in your eyes, the excitement at having a scare mechanism, the opportunity for you to use these events politically, make me feel ill. You’ve said the death cult is coming for Australians. You’re ramping up the rhetoric on threat levels which have absolutely no grounding in reality. You’re using the deaths of innocent people at the hands of barbaric, violent, evil, yet distant, criminals to further your own political cause. If you can’t see how low it is that you enjoy, and take pleasure out of these opportunities to be a scaremonger, let me tell you, it’s unedifying to the extreme. We know you’re only talking about national security because you’ve comprehensively failed to deliver vision, policies, negotiation, competency and functional government in any policy area so far in your dysfunctional term as Prime Minister. You therefore rely on plane crashes, on sieges carried out by mentally ill lone-wolves, and on the tragedies of people in far-away places to make yourself feel better about yourself. To keep your flag collection multiplying. For opportunistic photo stunts. Petty. Vindictive. Creepy.
And of course, everything you do, everything you have ever done in opposition and seamlessly into government is just about wrecking progressive policies with your negative ‘always on’ election campaign. We hear this morning that you’ve already produced negative attack ads about Bill Shorten. Is Shorten the first thing you think about when you wake up? I bet he is. You are the Prime Minister of arguably the best country in the world and all you care about is bashing your political rivals. Of giving jobs to your boys. You want to unpick every good progressive policy this country has ever delivered and take us back to a yesterday that none of us are interested in revisiting. Wrecking health and education funding. Destroying technological advancement. Wrecking environmental policy. Wrecking whole industries and destroying thousands of jobs. Depressing consumer confidence and in turn destroying economic growth. Wrecking social security. Dog whistling about asylum seekers while they are treated in detention centres no better than captives of the ISIS ‘death cult’. Attacking the union movement. Your nasty little thought bubbles on user-pays public education and wielding your wrecking ball into highly successful industry super funds are just the latest of the daily onslaught of terror you wreck on ordinary Australians. And why do you do it? For the same reason as a dog licks his balls. Because he can.
I dare you to go to an early election Tony Abbott. I dare you to believe that Australia wants to give you another chance to do even more damage to the fabric of our community. While you use national security as your play thing, we can see what you’re trying to do. Your leaked memo made that very clear. And when I compare you, the petty, vindictive, creepy flea, to the likes of Barack Obama, I want to cry with frustration. The sooner you give me and the rest of Australia the chance to vote you out, the better.
I am writing to you about your announcement on Mother’s Day that you’re going to deprive 80,000 working mothers from the government funded Paid Parental Leave scheme due to their existing employer scheme. I wasn’t sure whether to address this letter to you, the Treasurer who announced this latest horror, or to the Prime Minister, who went to the last election promising a more generous PPL scheme which he has now back-flipped on, or Scott Morrison who seems to be jockeying for his own bully-boy spotlight on budget night. Maybe you can share this letter with Peta Credlin and then I’ll have everyone covered.
So apparently after the shocker of your first ‘lifter – leaner’ budget, which thankfully is lying in ruins, dead, buried, cremated, after 12 months of failure by your government to negotiate with a Senate who rightly see you as the lying, cheating, nasty, ineffective bastards that you are, you wanted budget number two to improve your political popularity. But this Mother’s Day announcement to cut PPL from women who rely on this scheme to make the whole journey of work, have baby, pay bills, keep roof over head, look after baby and eventually go back to work, successful for their family, isn’t going to make you popular. Because it’s outrageously unfair to working mothers.
Let’s look at the words you’re using to explain why women who negotiated paid maternity leave as part of their salary package with their employer, have been told they will no longer be eligible for the Paid Parental Leave scheme Labor introduced. You have managed in the last two days to get the phrase ‘double-dipping’ all the way across a compliant media who pick up little slogans like this and throw them around with glee, never questioning what these words actually mean. I looked up the origins of the phrase ‘double-dipping’ on Urban Dictionary and found that it started as a joke on Seinfeld and has come to be known as ‘a favourite behaviour of crude diners’ who are over-indulging in dipping sauce by re-plunging their chip, biscuit or vegetable stick into the dip after they’ve already taken a bite. It describes a process of gluttony and greed – the act of putting one’s pleasure in eating dip ahead of the unhygienic process of placing saliva topped food into a shared meal. And this is how you describe women who are caring for a newborn baby? You are framing mothers of newborns as greedy, untrustworthy, germ-sharing parasites? What the fuck is wrong with you Joe? Do you honestly not see how incredibly offensive it is to lecture women who have taken time out of the workforce to bring up the next generation of Australians at great expense to their own careers, their sanity, their lifestyles, their financial stability and their personal relationships and to call them greedy? Sure, babies bring great joy. But they also bring great expense, particularly when a household has previously relied on the double income of both parents, often to pay mortgages in cities like Sydney that eat up more than 50% of the household budget. Let’s not forget that the PPL scheme is already means tested, so it is only available to women earning less than $150,000 a year. This is not the mega rich we’re talking about. This is middle and lower income earners who will have to re-evaluate their entire baby-making plans when they learn they’ll no longer receive the PPL, nor the Baby Bonus that was once available to all new mothers.
Now, I know how much you hate workers entitlements of any kind, and no doubt you wish we lived in an age where workers didn’t have to be paid at all. You know, it’s called slavery. But in fact Joe, my arrangements with my employer to provide me with maternity leave pay is absolutely none of your business. In fact, like most women who have paid maternity leave, I have sacrificed a higher salary because of these types of additional entitlements that are included in my salary package. Many women who you are calling ‘double-dippers’ have, like me, taken lower paid jobs than they would otherwise have in a workplace that has a paid maternity leave scheme, because they saw this scheme as making up for the lesser salary. But what you’re doing is penalising women who have negotiated in good faith with their employer, an entitlement that is part of their salary package. And you’re also dis-incentivising employers to do the right thing by working women by offering paid maternity leave. Because why would companies offer paid maternity leave if by doing so, they’re making it impossible for their female employees to receive the government funded PPL that is available to everyone else? But I think this is all part of your plan Joe. You’re transparently ugly like that. I’ll say it again. My private negotiations with my employer are absolutely none of your business and this is why your whole ‘double-dipping’ narrative is complete bullshit.
I hope you feel the full force of the political pain that this policy is going to cause you. As a woman who is currently 32 weeks pregnant and, no doubt like most expectant mothers, already anxious about the delicate balancing act I’m about to take on – a break from my career, from my salary and the journey after maternity leave back into the workforce, with child care to come and all the additional costs no one warns you about, I hope the political pain causes you the same sort of anxiety you’re causing to working mothers across the country.
First of all let me say that I’m sorry you’re having such a horrible time at work at the moment. Since it’s clear that you work extremely hard and your job is pretty much your life, I’m sorry that your life is fairly horrible at the moment too. I really am. This solidarity I feel with you, by the way, has nothing to do with the feminist code or standing up for the ladies, because quite frankly I don’t think your current predicament has anything to do with your gender and in writing this letter, I want to make the point that I am writing to a person, not a man or a woman. I am writing to a person who holds a great deal of responsibility, and power, and I don’t think you’re getting a fair hearing and clearly no chance to explain what is really going on in your world. So bear with me for a moment while I try to envisage how things have got to this point, and perhaps you are the only person who can confirm or deny if I’m off the mark.
First of all, it’s clear to anyone with any understanding of who and what Tony Abbott is that you’ve got your work cut out for you keeping this moron in check. I know the Australian media did their best to help you out during your time as Chief of Staff to the Leader of the Opposition, in that you didn’t really have to worry about any real scrutiny of your boss, and therefore were able to keep the puppet on-message by sticking to carefully recited three-word-slogans and never answering any questions at press conferences. There weren’t many times when you agreed for Abbott to go on radio or television to be interviewed by anyone who wasn’t already in your corner, fighting the same fight as you, so I guess this made your life a whole lot easier as there was no challenge to the ideas behind the three-word-slogans, or investigation into a pamphlet that you said was a plan but I’m not sure any of the press even read. Most importantly, no one bothered to check if there was any factual or expert analysis contributing to the formation of your slogans; for example, the journalists didn’t worry about the cost and effectiveness of the Direct Action policy because they just loved your idea of taking Abbott banana stacking, truck-stop chatting, butcher visiting and Alan Jones rally attending to fight against a climate change policy that was working to reduce emissions, and generating revenue for renewable technologies just as Labor planned for it to do. The journalists never asked ‘what budget emergency?’ so you could continue to use this lie to justify ideological slash and burn. So this lack of scrutiny generally, for both Abbott’s character, personality, ideas, competence and honesty and for the few policies you told the electorate about before the election, really made your job a whole lot easier.
I’m wondering if perhaps it was too easy. Do you ever wonder if you were lulled into a false sense of security? You knew your boss was incapable of being a leader. You knew that without you by his side at every waking moment, a disaster would happen. That’s why you’ve had to work so hard. That’s why, according to John Lyons, who did me the favour of confirming everything I already knew about Abbott, you’ve had to resort to interrupting Abbott and even placing your hand over his mouth when he’s about to say something stupid. Again. You’re just doing your job! And that’s why I feel sympathy for you. Maybe when he won the election, you got a bit complacent? Or maybe his incompetence is literally impossible to keep secret forever?
Even with the tight controls you have placed on Abbott since becoming Prime Minister, even with you standing close by his side in every interview, in every public appearance, in any scenario where he has to do anything in his job, a job he is being paid very well to do, you can’t stop the occasional glimpse of the real Abbott being flashed to the country. It must give you nightmares! The knowledge that you can stop Abbott leaking himself to the world. No matter what you do, how hard you work, somehow the real Abbott has been revealed. And as you always knew, Australians don’t like this person at all. And as you always knew, there is no way he would be Prime Minister now if it wasn’t for your careful management of his image; and when I say careful management, what I really mean is trying to turn Abbott into someone who doesn’t exist. Because you know as well as I do that he’s just not cut out for his job. He’s not intelligent enough, he’s not articulate enough, he’s not inspirational, funny, kind, quick-witted, compassionate, approachable, organised, fair, strategically minded or, the most importantly, likable. He’s just not likeable and now that Australia has seen the real Abbott, there’s nothing you can do about it now Peta. Your job is finished because you have failed to hide Abbott. You’re going down with the sinking ship.
Before I sign off, I want you to know that I might respect you, but I certainly don’t like you. I don’t like the job you are doing, but I respect that you’re working hard. I just wish you were working hard for the good of Australia, rather than for the good of rich mates and donors to the Liberal Party, and to bring about the IPA’s vision of Australia, which is quite frankly terrifying. But you’re clearly determined, organised, and capable, and the reason you’re still sitting next to the Prime Minister of Australia, feeding policy ideas into cabinet, pushing your version of the world onto the country’s agenda, and making life very difficult for anyone who falls outside of your privileged bubble is because he needs you. He can’t get rid of you because you’re the only thing between him and humiliating annihilation in his career. So you’ll keep your job, but it’s not going to be easy. Now that the scrutiny has finally, belatedly, arrived, it’s like a tap that has been turned on and is now spewing water like a fire hydrant. You can’t turn this tap off now Peta. Abbott’s own colleagues are leaking to your old media friends, so this is way out of your control now. Abbott is now a known liar, so when he denies the content of the leaks, no one believes him. Does Abbott even have any friends except you anymore? We can all see that your boss, the emperor is not wearing any clothes and no matter how many blue ties you try to cover him up with, we can see his rude bits and quite frankly, the country is disgusted by the sight of him.