I make this pledge to you the Australian people.
I will govern for all Australians.
I want to lift everyone’s standard of living.
I want to see wages and benefits rise in line with a growing economy.
I want to see our hospitals and schools improving as we invest the proceeds of a well-run economy into the things that really count.
I won’t let you down.
This is my pledge to you.
-Tony Abbott campaign launch speech, August 25 2013
Nice words but let’s face it – the Abbott government doesn’t give a shit about you. The evidence is overwhelming.
With one in seven Australians living in poverty, we have a Prime Minister who spends hundreds of billions on defence, security, and buying armaments. We have a Prime Minister who is so stage-managed he refuses to face the electorate on Q&A.
Our Prime Minister for Indigenous Affairs has overseen the slashing of funding and the abolition of many successful initiatives that were working towards supporting our Indigenous people and closing the gap. But we have truancy officers aplenty, even if most of them are working for the dole.
We have a treasurer who feels those on welfare, the ‘leaners’, should be the ones to clear the country of debt. His justification for this is that he must cut spending and poor families get more money from the government than the rich, whilst steadfastly refusing to consider raising revenue by cracking down on tax avoidance.
He tells the world that our economy is in good shape while whipping up hysteria here about a non-existent emergency.
After coming to power on the promise of reducing the debt, Hockey has been borrowing so fast the net debt has increased from $178.10 billion when he took over to $217.55 billion at the end of August. PEFO numbers had net debt peaking at $219bn (12.7% of GDP) in 2015/16. The gross debt has risen from $290 billion to $345.035 billion – that’s extra borrowing of about one billion a week.
We have an education minister who has reneged on funding reform for schools, wants to make tertiary courses unaffordable, has closed down trades training centres, has insulted teachers, wasted money on a pointless review, and wants to rewrite history as a Christian crusade.
We have a health minister who is busily unwinding universal healthcare and preventative health agencies and who wants to discourage the poor from seeing a doctor.
On one hand we are warned about the alarming increase in obesity and diabetes, on the other we have the assistant minister for health, at the behest of her junk food lobbyist chief of staff, taking down a healthy food website.
Senator Nash insisted the health star site be pulled down a day after it was published in Febuary on the grounds it was published in error, despite freedom of information documents showing the minister was warned it would be published, and the states committing to spend $11 million on it.
In June, a watered down version of the site was reinstated, with the voluntary introduction period extended to five years from two and companies allowed to use the star ratings in conjunction with the industry’s daily intake guide. They also decided to continue voluntary pregnancy warning labels on alcohol, despite poor uptake by mixed drinks and so-called alcopops. Michael Thorn, the chief executive of the Foundation for Alcohol Research & Education, said it was “disgraceful” and put “booze before babies”.
“The alcohol industry will be celebrating that they have been able to successfully avoid introducing a warning label on their products for almost two decades,” he said.
One of the first steps of the minister for social services, Kevin Andrews, was to wind back gambling reform laws despite recommendations made by the Productivity Commission in its 2010 report into Australia’s gambling industry and the Victorian coroner’s report linking 128 suicides in that state directly to gambling..
This is the man who, along with our employment minister (he of breast cancer/abortion link fame), wants to see young unemployed without any income for 6 months of the year, and for the disabled to get out there and get one of those thousands of jobs that are just waiting for them if only they weren’t such bludgers. He also wants to lower the indexation rate of pensions which will cause the gap in standard of living to widen. All this while cutting $44 million from the capital works program of the National Partnership on Homelessness.
We have an environment minister who wants to cut down Tasmanian old growth forests and expand coal ports and dump sediment on the reef. He has wound back environmental protection laws and the right to appeal and gone on a spree of approving record amounts of fossil fuel production. At the same time, he has overseen the destruction of the renewable energy industry. They don’t even send him to world conferences on climate change because, after all, what could he say other than sorry.
Not content with these overt attacks on the environment, the government has quietly initiated a low key, unscheduled review into Australia’s national appliance energy efficiency standards. The only formal explanation offered to date is in the Energy “Anti-” Green Paper, which refers to “opportunities to reduce the red-tape burden on businesses”.
At least they were honest when our communications minister was appointed to “destroy the NBN” and he has done a damn fine job of it. Despite Tony Abbott’s election speech claim that within 100 days “the NBN will have a new business plan to ensure that every household gains five times current broadband speeds – within three years and without digging up almost every street in Australia – for $60 billion less than Labor,” the truth has emerged.
We will be left with a sub-optimal network, a mishmash of technologies, at a time when the world is increasingly going fibre. It will end up taking nearly as long and costing nearly as much as the all-fibre network it is replacing. The industry – and many around Turnbull – is increasingly realising this. But Turnbull will not budge.
Australia is the loser – all because of one man’s pride.
Scott Morrison, our immigration minister, is about as welcoming as a firing squad. He is like Hymie from Get Smart in his robotic determination to stop the boats at any cost. That goal apparently absolves him from any form of scrutiny, criticism, or human decency. He has a blank cheque and not one cent of it will be used to help refugees.
Despite our growing unemployment, he is also front and centre in providing Gina with her 457 visa workers – no rights, no entitlements, and if they complain they get deported.
Our minister for trade is working in secret, getting signatures on free trade agreements at any cost – it’s the announcement before the end of the year that’s important, not pesky details about tariffs and the fact that we no longer have the right to make our own laws without getting sued by global corporations.
Our attorney-general, the highest legal appointment in the land, thinks defending bigots is a priority. When faced with illegal actions by the government, steal the evidence, threaten journalists with gaol time and funding cuts, and introduce laws which remove official accountability. And while you’re at it, let’s bug the entire nation and make people prove themselves innocent. Even if they haven’t done anything wrong I am sure they have had evil thoughts.
Barnaby was last seen trying to hasten the demise of a few endangered species that are standing in the way of his dams.
Warren Truss is run off his feet planning roads, roads and more roads. Luckily they dumped that idea about releasing cost benefit analyses for any expenditure over $100 million. Thank god we got rid of that pesky head of Infrastructure Australia so we could get someone who understands our idea of what ‘independent body’ means. If the people want public transport they can build it themselves.
And how’s our girl doing? She’s looking tired to me. Making a case for a seat on the Human Rights Council whilst torturing refugees, or being sent in to bat at the world leaders’ conference on climate changed armed with nothing other than a rain forest conference, must shake even asbestos Julie’s steely resolve. The Armani suits and death stare can only get you so far. When in doubt, flirt.
I know you would like a mention Jamie Briggs but for the life of me, the only thing that comes to mind is your fawning introductions for our ‘Infrastructure Prime Minister’….
”To introduce our Tony, is what I’m here to do, and it really makes me happy to introduce to you…the indescribable, the incompatible, the unadorable….. Prrrriiiiimmme Minister!”