Labor’s vision for Australia misses one huge detail

 

I received this email today:

Michael,

Some time ago I wrote to you asking you to complete a survey so I could see what you believed was Labor’s direction for the future.

Today our party – the oldest organised labour party in the world – is undergoing a process of grassroots reform and revitalisation. That’s why this was such a tremendous opportunity to hear from you.

I wanted to make sure all of you got a chance to see the results of this survey and what our community’s vision for the future of Labor was. Read our report and take your chance to share my favourite part of this job – listening to people about the things that matter most.

Thanks for your support,

George Wright
National Secretary

For whatever reason, I didn’t complete the survey. Nonetheless, I was interested to read the report.

Sadly, it told me little, but I was extremely disappointed with the summary. Here is a part of it:

The policy areas of importance to supporters, namely healthcare, climate change, the NBN & schools funding, were policy areas already championed by the Party.

So why am I disappointed? I’m disappointed because Labor’s vision for the future doesn’t include on-shore processing of asylum seekers. It obviously wasn’t an issue for the respondents. Not surprising when you consider that:

Respondents generally used the internet either every day, regularly consumed media television (68.10%) & radio news (65.18%), as well as Facebook (49.64%) and online newspapers (49.08%).

So there you have it: most respondents still favour mainstream media over social media.

If we want to change Labor’s vision, we first need to change where its members get their news and opinion. Then we can really tell Labor what we think of  off-shore processing of asylum seekers. And maybe they’ll listen.

 

Abbott: look over there, I see a boat

544405-540ce6ac-3bc8-11e3-a7a8-fd7949ba8dc3

Photo: news.com.au

Since being elected, Tony Abbott has gone into hyperdrive on the asylum seeker issue. Without a doubt irregular maritime arrivals are not the ideal way for those seeking asylum to arrive into Australia, however to all but the most ignorant, logic states that in order to put some order into disorder that a primary goal is the goodwill and cooperation of Indonesia.

In 2009, Kevin Rudd and Indonesia were in close cooperation on the issue:

AUSTRALIA is preparing to dispatch police across Asia to fight people smugglers and expand intelligence and security ties with Indonesia under a landmark deal that could be unveiled within weeks.

From the same link, it was none other than John Howard who recognised that a diplomatic solution was the prime solution:

But the Immigration Minister, Chris Evans, said yesterday the so-called Indonesia solution had begun in ”about 2002” under the former prime minister John Howard, who provided millions of dollars to Jakarta to assist with processing refugees and preventing illegal migration.

I wonder where all that cooperation went to? Gone like the wind under hamfisted, egotistical and inept handling by the Abbott-led government.  Completely at odds with his mentor John Howard, one of Tony Abbott’s first actions as Prime Minister was to enact the opposite, and instead of providing “millions of dollars to Jakarta” . . .

Australia will cut $75.4 million from humanitarian, emergency and refugees programs, including $8.5 million from the International Committee of the Red Cross, $4 million from planned donations to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and $1 million from the United Nations Peacekeeping Fund.

Therefore with a diplomatic solution effectively thrown in the wastepaper basket by Abbott and Morrison, what remains?  What else but Turn Back the Boats, irrespective of the wishes of the other party, Indonesia.  Some of a more bogan bent might stand on their soapboxes shouting loud “Huzzahs!” that we white fellas are showing those others a thing or two – here Indonesia; you can like it or lump it!

Stopping the boats has rather interesting history, and it took close to a year before anyone in the mainstream media got around to asking the question, “How?” clearly being far too interested in the politics of it all rather than the policy and that policy’s practical application.

December 31, 2009:

…the Opposition Leader declined to say what specific policies the Coalition would implement to stop the boats.

August 16, 2010:

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott believes he can ”stop the boats” entering Australian waters within three months of a coalition government being elected on Saturday.

Decisions would be made by Mr Abbott personally and on a case-by-case basis, based on the advice of naval commanders making contact through a hotline to the prime minister’s office.

Although the idea of a Boat phone caused a great deal of mirth, expressed in headlines such as “Holy asylum seekers”, the fact of the matter is that Abbott originally came up with this idea when cornered during an interview. Abbott when asked the question; if or when it did occur that people did die at sea due to his turn back the boats policy whether they be asylum seekers or enlisted personnel, then who is it who is going to be taking responsibility for these deaths? Whose responsibility would it be to turn back the boats? Abbott’s sudden and quite odd explanation is that he would have a Boatphone to the commanders, “In the end it would be a prime ministerial decision,” he said.

So where has this Prime Ministerial responsibility suddenly evaporated to?

Mistakes by sailors blamed for breach of Indonesian water

Senior navy officers and customs officials face possible disciplinary action over six incursions into Indonesian waters while turning back asylum-seeker boats under the government’s border protection regime.

And what might this quotation be construed as meaning?

However some blame was placed on headquarters, which while knowing the importance of respecting Indonesian territory, had ”effectively devolved the obligation to remain outside Indonesian waters to vessel commanders”.

How can respect for another nation’s territorial waters “devolve”, and under what circumstances were orders given, and by whom, that this should devolve?  But of course, this is none of Tony’s business, as after all it’s nothing more than a cricket game or a football match.

During a press conference at Parliament House on Tuesday, the Prime Minister was asked how it could transpire that professionally trained and highly skilled naval personnel could mistakenly sail, more than once, into Indonesian territorial waters.

“Even people who are at the very top of their game… will occasionally make mistakes,” Mr Abbott replied, while praising the skill and professionalism of the Australian navy.

A game?  A match?  Apparently not, it is now a devolution.

Two-faced Tony

There is no argument that Tony Abbott has shown himself to be the consummate hypocrite, more evidently so since taking over the prime ministership. I’ve stumbled across a wonderful example of his hypocrisy, which has the added bonus of producing further evidence of his stupidity.

Do you remember this from earlier last year?

Tony Abbott demands Julia Gillard explain WA asylum seeker boat arrival.

Tony Abbott is seeking an urgent briefing from the Prime Minister on how a boat of suspected asylum seekers last week managed to reach the Australian mainland for the first time in five years.

The Opposition Leader has written to Ms Gillard requesting an official explanation about the incident.

He writes, “the Coalition is gravely concerned over the extent to which the capacity of government agencies to undertake security checks on arrivals have been undermined and the massive consequent cost blowouts running at more than $5 billion since the last election.”Moreover, Minister O’Connor has failed to satisfactorily explain why he plans to spend more than $100,000 transferring these mainland boat arrivals by air to Christmas Island for health checks and other procedures that should have been done in facilities where they are already accommodated.”

Mr Abbott also accused Julia Gillard of running a $100,000 taxi service for the 66 Sri Lankans – who landed in Geraldton, Western Australia, on Monday – amid plans to fly them to Christmas Island.

Now listen to the same bloke today:

Australia PM Tony Abbott defends asylum policy ‘closed book’

Australian PM Tony Abbott has defended what critics have described as government secrecy over asylum policy.

Officials have in recent days refused to comment on reports that Australian naval forces have turned back at least one boat to Indonesia.

Asylum-seeker accounts have also alleged mistreatment by navy personnel.

Mr Abbott, who promised a tough line on the asylum issue when he took office, said restricting information flow boosted operational enforcement.

“I’d rather be criticised for being a bit of a closed book on this issue and actually stop the boats,” he told local media.

“The point is not to provide sport for public discussion. The point is to stop the boats.

“I’m pleased to say it is now several weeks since we’ve had a boat, and the less we talk about operational details on the water, the better when it comes to stopping the boats.”

All of a sudden ‘keeping quiet’ stops the boats.

I’m sorry, but I can’t help myself, I need to swear . . . Oh for fuck’s sake.

What if we had a different Minister for Immigration?

As Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Scott Morrison has shown us he is a cruel, heartless bastard. His treatment and de-humanisation of asylum seekers elevates him to the unbridled title of nastiest politician I have seen in the 30 years I’ve been following politics.

I was musing, what if we had a different Minister for Immigration? What if clown Abbott had given the job to someone else? How would they treat asylum seekers? Here’s what I came up with.

If the job went to Christpoher Pyne, all the asylum seekers would be sent to a private school.

If it went to Peter Dutton, all asylum seekers would be taxed $6 for the visit.

If it went to Malcolm Turnbull the boats will be slowed down to 25mbs a second, but at least he’ll invest in them.

If it went to Barnaby Joyce, he’d do the right thing and attend their weddings. And bill the taxpayer of course.

If it went to Joe Hockey, he’d want to increase their numbers by 500 million.

If it went to Kevin Andrews, he’d call for a Royal Commission into their drinking habits.

If it went to Julie Bishop, she’d call them Australia’s closest allies while simultaneously insulting them.

And if it went to Tony Abbott himself, well, we all know what he’d do. Nothing.

Tony Abbott stumbles on

0110_AbbottBambangYudhoyono1

I doubt that there is anyone outside of Tony Abbott’s close circle of media apologists who is unsurprised at the arrogance of Abbott’s attitude towards our international neighbors.

Tact has never been Tony’s forté, and whilst here at home it is either overlooked, glossed over or apologised for by the Murdoch media; or even made a virtue of for that matter, abroad is where good manners, protocol and an adequate dose of humility are an integral part of the job.  Professionalism is expected.  While some small faux pas might be glossed over or explained away, plain bad manners and arrogance cannot be.

Australia has watched, sometimes with wry fascination, at other times with embarrassment as Abbott has either been unable to answer basic questions, been incapable of speaking “off the cuff” other than by the use of slogans, or, and especially when challenged:  he runs.  Perhaps expecting far more, the Murdoch media had their headlines ready before Abbott had even hopped onto the plane to Indonesia, this was to be Tony Abbott, the success; Tony Abbott, the powerhouse of diplomacy.  That is, the media were expecting, one way or another that Abbott would be able to somehow mysteriously morph into prime minister Abbott.  After all, some of the media perhaps speculated; the fleeing to escape questioning, the sloganeering, the asinine half thought out responses were really just “clever politics”…weren’t they…

Mainstream media had previously crowed with delight at the thought that Abbott has procured a “gotcha” on the issue of asylum seekers but had studiously overlooked the ineptitude of both Abbott and J. Bishop. Incidents such as Indonesia telling both Abbott and J. Bishop, and specifically that they would treat their assumptions most seriously were relegated to minor incidents by mainstream.  Reported incidents such as below were quickly replaced by yet more turn back the boats rhetoric from Abbott.  Abbott’s deliberate strategy was to give the impression that Indonesia had never said a word.

May 5, 2012:

An Indonesian official has accused Australia’s Opposition foreign affairs spokeswoman, Julie Bishop, of promoting an arrogant policy on asylum seekers.

July 8, 2012:

As the Opposition Leader admitted his plan to send boats back as “dangerous”, he also appeared to concede he had not raised the issue of boatpeople with Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono when they met in Darwin last Tuesday.

“The fact is Indonesia knows exactly what our position is,” Mr Abbott told the ABC’s Insiders program, after being pressed repeatedly on whether he had broached the issue with the Indonesian leader in private talks.

“It’s not as if the Indonesians are in ignorance of what the Coalition intends.”

Clearly it was Tony Abbott himself who has been ignorant because a year later:

A furor over Australia’s policy of turning boats full of asylum seekers back to Indonesia has erupted ahead of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s first visit as Australian leader to its important neighbor.

Indonesia has warned that the Australian Navy’s plan to intercept and force back Indonesian fishing boats crowded with asylum seekers from countries such as Iran, Afghanistan, Vietnam and Myanmar could breach Indonesian sovereignty.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa drove home that message in a meeting with his Australian counterpart, Julie Bishop, in New York this week.

Why the surprise from the Murdoch media?  This is exactly what the Indonesians have been saying to both Abbott and J. Bishop for well over a year.

Reality in the form of an article by Raoul Heinrichs has finally appeared via the Sydney Morning Herald:

Abbott returned from his trip humbled and empty-handed. While the episode had been a disaster, he was spared the full embarrassment. A still-fawning press bought the distracting spin. Meanwhile, the previous government’s PNG solution began working, allowing Abbott to quietly backtrack from his commitments while taking credit for fewer boats.

With a prime example of “fawning” coming from The Australian’s Greg Sheridan:

TONY Abbott has had an extraordinarily successful first trip to Indonesia as Prime Minister. But it’s only the beginning of his adventures with Jakarta.

Agreed Greg, thus shone-eth Tony’s true radiance…

Could it be that the mainstream media and the Murdoch media in particular are suffering from a severe case of “Tony Abbott says….”, and as a result we end up with the Murdoch media giving the appearance of incompetence as they regurgitate whatever Tony Abbott says.  In March this year it was, “Tony Abbott says Indonesia will accept boats turned back”. In June, “Indonesian Vice President Dr Boediono said the country would not accept Australian vessels trying to return asylum seekers..”.  Ignore the Indonesian government and believe “Tony Abbott says……”.

A pertinent quote from the Sydney Morning Herald is:

THE Indonesian government has confirmed that it would not accept the towing back of asylum seeker boats to its shores, sources say.

The policy puts an incoming Coalition government in Canberra on a collision course with Indonesia after the Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, reiterated the stance yesterday.

However, let’s not concern ourselves with what the Indonesians say, it is that which Tony Abbott and his backers in the media say which is of all importance.  The date of the above quote is July 6, 2012.  No, this is not a typo, the year is 2012.  It is therefore well over a year that Indonesia has been rejecting Tony Abbott’s I’ll turn back the boats policy.  Therefore although Raoul Heinrichs in his article quite accurately states that Abbott has “lurched from one diplomatic disaster to another“, these are hardly “rookie mistakes”; Abbott has been making the same ones for quite some time.

Will the real Scott Morrison please stand up?

Anyone who listened to Scott Morrison’s maiden speech to Parliament in February 2008 would have been heartened that a man of such humility and humanity could one day be a political heavyweight in our country, especially of one who belonged to the Coalition. They had, after all, suffered a massive defeat at the hands of an electorate after twelve years of Howard’s mean spirited government.

After Howard’s demonisation of asylum seekers it was a breath of fresh air to hear someone new in the party speak of his love for all people and their right to share our country. One could have easily been lulled into believing this man could one day become the Minister for Immigration and through his beliefs restore Australia’s long-gone goodwill of fellow beings. Here are some extracts of his speech:

It is with humility and a deep sense of appreciation to the electors of Cook that I rise to make my maiden speech in this House. Today I wish to pay tribute to those who have been instrumental in my journey and to share the values and vision that I intend to bring to this House. I begin by acknowledging the first Australians, in particular the Gweigal people of the Dharawal nation of southern Sydney, who were the first to encounter Lieutenant James Cook, the namesake of my electorate, at Kurnell almost 240 years ago. I also commence by expressing my sincere appreciation to the people and families of the Sutherland shire in my electorate of Cook for placing their trust in me on this first occasion.

The shire community is a strong one. It is free of pretension and deeply proud of our nation’s heritage. Like most Australians, we are a community knit together by our shared commitment to family, hard work and generosity. We share a deep passion for our local natural environment and embrace what Teddy Roosevelt called the vigorous life, especially in sports. It is also a place where the indomitable entrepreneurial spirit of small business has flourished, particularly in recent years. In short, the shire is a great place to live and raise a family. As the federal member for Cook, I want to keep it that way by ensuring that Australia remains true to the values that have made our nation great and by keeping our economy strong so that families and small business can plan for their future with confidence.

At a local level, families—in particular carers—will come under increasing pressure because of the inability of local services to meet the changing needs of an ageing population. The character of our local area is also threatened by a failure to deliver critical state infrastructure such as the F6 extension for our current population, let alone the population growth targets set by the state government for the future.

On the Kurnell peninsula, the modern birthplace of our nation, we must reverse 150 years of environmental neglect, most recently demonstrated by the construction of Labor’s desalination plant—a plant that New South Wales does not need and the shire community does not want.

We must also combat the negative influences on our young people that lead to depression, suicide, self-harm, abuse and antisocial behaviour that in turn threatens our community. We need to help our young people make positive choices for their lives and be there to help them get their lives back on track when they fall.

For the past nine years, the Hon. Bruce Baird has ably represented the Cook electorate. Bruce Baird is a man of achievement, integrity, faith and, above all, compassion. He has set a high standard. I thank him for his service, his personal guidance over many years and for being here today.

From my faith I derive the values of loving-kindness, justice and righteousness, to act with compassion and kindness, acknowledging our common humanity and to consider the welfare of others; to fight for a fair go for everyone to fulfil their human potential and to remove whatever unjust obstacles stand in their way, including diminishing their personal responsibility for their own wellbeing; and to do what is right, to respect the rule of law, the sanctity of human life and the moral integrity of marriage and the family. We must recognise an unchanging and absolute standard of what is good and what is evil.

Australia is a strong nation. It is the product of more than 200 years of sacrifice—most significantly by those who have served in our defence forces, both here and overseas, and by those who have fallen, particularly those who have fallen most recently, and to whom I express my profound gratitude. But a strong country is also one that is at peace with its past. I do not share the armband view of history, black or otherwise. I like my history in high-definition, widescreen, full, vibrant colour. There is no doubt that our Indigenous population has been devastated by the inevitable clash of cultures that came with the arrival of the modern world in 1770 at Kurnell in my electorate. This situation is not the result of any one act but of more than 200 years of shared ignorance, failed policies and failed communities. And we are not alone: our experience is shared by every other modern nation that began this way. There is much for us all to be sorry for. Sadly, those who will be most sorry are the children growing up in Indigenous communities today, whose life chances are significantly less than the rest of us.

We can choose to sit in judgement on previous generations, thinking we would have done it differently. But would we? Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nor can we compare the world we live in today with the world that framed the policies of previous generations. So let us not judge. Rather, having apologised for our past—as I was proud to do in this place yesterday—let us foster a reconciliation where true forgiveness can emerge and we work together to remove the disadvantage of our Indigenous communities, not out of a sense of guilt or recompense for past failures but because it is the humane and right thing to do. Having said this, we cannot allow a national obsession with our past failures to overwhelm our national appetite for celebrating our modern stories of nationhood. We must celebrate our achievements and acknowledge our failures at least in equal measure. We should never feel the need to deny our past to embrace our future.

We are a prosperous people, but this prosperity is not solely for our own benefit; it comes with a responsibility to invest back into our communities. Our communities are held together by the selfless service of volunteers. We must work to value their service and encourage more of our community to join the volunteer ranks and assist local organisations engage and retain today’s volunteers, particularly from younger generations. We must also appreciate that our not-for-profit sector has the potential to play a far greater role in the delivery of community services than is currently recognised. As global citizens, we must also recognise that our freedom will always be diminished by the denial of those same freedoms elsewhere, whether in Australia or overseas.

We must engage as individuals and communities to confront these issues—not just as governments. We have all heard the call to make poverty history. Let us do this by first making poverty our own personal business.

The Howard government increased annual spending on foreign aid to $3.2 billion. The new government has committed to continue to increase this investment and I commend it for doing so. However, we still must go further. If we doubt the need, let us note that in 2007 the total world budget for global aid accounted for only one-third of basic global needs in areas such as education, general health, HIV-AIDS, water treatment and sanitation. This leaves a sizeable gap. The need is not diminishing, nor can our support. It is the Australian thing to do.

What a wonderful human being. One who recognised injustice to the first Australians; one who felt for those suffering overseas and one who believed in Australia’s ability to open up its arms to the underprivileged of the world.

What happened to him?

First, as our Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship  and now as our Minister for Immigration and Border Protection we hear these words (not in chronological order):

“I have always been angry at people making moral judgements…just because we took a different position from them”.

. . .

More than 30,000 refugees living in Australia will be denied permanent settlement and have their appeal rights stripped, under a new Coalition policy released on Friday.

Mr Morrison said the system would, in part, be modelled on Howard government policies and a system currently operating in the United Kingdom.

He said it would prevent the “90% of those arriving receiving permanent visas”, and address “a backlog of more than 30,000 illegal boat arrivals” already waiting for permanent visas.

. . .

Liberal Party immigration spokesman Scott Morrison has taken the demonisation of refugees and immigrants to new depths. Morrison called last month for asylum seekers living in the community under the Labor government’s punitive temporary visa scheme to be publicly identified, forced to report regularly to the police and placed under unspecified “behavioural protocols.”

. . .

This is an appalling failure from this government where we see other governments like the Government of Canada acting to introduce temporary visas.  They understand the need to take permanent residency off the table.

. . .

Well, I think the real point here is that the Gillard Government is known globally as a soft touch on this issue and people will go where the door is open and that’s certainly the case under this Government.
. . .

THE opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

Sources say Mr Morrison told the shadow cabinet meeting on December 1 at the Ryde Civic Centre that the Coalition should ramp up its questioning of “multiculturalism” and appeal to deep voter concerns about Muslim immigration and “inability” to integrate.

. . .

The Coalition won’t give up the ‘tow back the boats‘ line, even as it falls apart under scrutiny. It’s dangerous, illegal and threatens our key bilateral relationship with Indonesia.

Morrison’s media strategy is simple, but effective. Every time a boat arrives, he issues a press release and makes himself available for media comment. The line is always the same: we’ll tow them back. On 5 July, for instance, he wrote that “if elected, the Coalition will implement a full suite of proven border protection policies including turning boats around.

I could go on. And on. And on. The internet is filled with online material providing examples of what has become of Scott Morrison (look them up if you need more convincing). He isn’t behaving like the “man of such humility and humanity” that spoke to Parliament in February 2008. The new Scott Morrison seems as mean spirited as Howard himself. It’s hard to believe that the Scott Morrison of today is the same as the one of five and a half years ago.

Will the real Scott Morrison please stand up?

I’m afraid he has.

The Liberal Strategy

542266_561465487196876_588072260_nOf the multitude of political posters flooding social media – humourous or profound – this is one of the better ones. It really does sum up the Liberal Party.

What have we heard of them since 2010? Every policy or piece of legislation introduced by the Gillard Government will either ruin us, blow our town off the map, leave us unemployed, leave us destitute, unable to afford to feed ourselves, frail and unhealthy, pay exorbitant power fees, have our street over-run by illegal boat people, see our mining companies relocate offshore and maybe, see the sky fall in.

But we can all be saved by voting out this incompetent government, to shouts of “hear, hear” from the media fan club. Then they fall silent. They’ve scared us so they’ve done their job.

Tony Abbott’s ‘mandate’ to scare every Australian half to death about the consequences of the ‘carbon tax’ was a classic example. He has visited every business in the country and predicted with fear and smear how the carbon tax would destroy their respective industries and how he was likely to be the last person to walk through their doors. Butchers, bakers, candle-stick makers; there’d be none left after the carbon tax annihilated them.

Whilst Abbott’s performance was annoyingly desperate and overly passionate, it was not unusual behaviour from a Coalition leader.  I have witnessed this code of conduct from Liberal leaders with monotonous regularity over the last couple of decades.

They have generally been powerful enough to win elections for them.

Malcolm Fraser provides an exception.  During the election campaign in 1983 he stridently attacked Labor’s financial integrity suggesting that the banking system would be ruined if the Commie Labor Party was elected and thus peoples’ money would be safer kept under the bed than in a bank.  There was no substance in this claim.  It was a failed attempt to scare the electorate.  In 1983 the electorate wasn’t as ignorant as they would later turn out to be.

Future attempts have been more successful as the average IQ of the electorate plummeted.

Opinion polls in 2001 showed that the Howard Government was facing massive defeat.  The terrorist attacks of September 2001 changed all that, but not enough to Howard’s satisfaction.  He was able to terrorise the gullible electorate into believing that terrorists were hopping onto any rickety old boat heading to Australia and only he could protect us from the murderous intentions of these alleged evildoers.  Abdullah the Butcher and his mates were coming to sacrifice us all.  Oh how different it might have been if an election wasn’t around the corner.  From 1996 to that point of time 221 boatloads of refugees sailed unhindered into Australian waters.  Number 222 – just after the September 2011 attacks –  ran into a bit of trouble and running to its aid was the Norwegian vessel the Tampa.

I’m sure that most readers here will have fresh in their mind the stench surrounding the politicisation of the Tampa incident and how it was the turning point for Howard’s fortunes so I won’t recap it here. Dissecting individual incidents is not the intention of the post but will be welcomed in reader’s comments.

Howard didn’t need any more scare campaigns until 2004, and incidentally, during his calling of an election.  Electing a Labor Government, he warned, would cost you the family home.  Interest rates would go through the roof and as a result his little Aussie battlers would lose the roof over their heads.  He was very effective in pushing this message across, taking aim at Labor’s historic spending patterns and Mark Latham’s record as Mayor of Liverpool, both of which were irrelevant points in this election.  Didn’t he look stupid when he rode us through eleven straight interest rate rises over the next three years?  But it mattered not. We had been saved from the merciless Abdullah and on that point we needed to be reminded.

Dr Haneef helped him.

Howard had to convince the dumbed down electorate that his unpopular counter terrorism legislation was for the good of the country.  It protected us from the likes of the despicable and ill-intentioned Dr Haneef.  It would protect us from every body and every thing that Howard saw as a threat to his battling Aussies.  We were saved by his fridge magnets.  Terrorist alerts were upgraded every five minutes and I have it on good advice that these always coincided with political maneuvers. They were not real. Howard only wanted us to be afraid. Very afraid. The only thing he wanted to protect was his job. The terrorists, to him, were the Labor Party.

So were Aborigines, in particular the Stolen Generation.  Saying sorry to them would send the country broke.  An apology to the Stolen Generations would have legal ramifications and pave the way for huge compensation bills. And that was the unproven basis of his argument, which was rabidly supported from those loyal battlers who didn’t mind the interest rate rises.  It didn’t matter if you lost the family home, just as long as those Aborigines didn’t get any money. During Howard’s gloating about the healthy state of the economy he had the complete morons fearful that we couldn’t afford to pay some Aborigines compensation for the mistreatment they had received at the hands of the State.  You can read about his hypocrisy here.

Now we have prophet Abbott as the pedlar of fear.  Most of it has been over the ‘carbon tax’, which by the time of the election will have been proven to not be as damaging as he had squawked it would. Actually, there has been no damage. He’ll have to move onto something else. Between now and the election what will it be?  My money’s on boat people. It worked for Howard.

Election Talk

I don’t have the impression that any contributor here is undecided as to who they will be voting for in the September election. Perhaps one or two among us might be swinging voters, and I’m about to find out. So I ask:

  1. Do you know at this stage which party you will vote for in the House of Representatives and/or the Senate?
  2. What is likely to change your mind (if it were possible)?
  3. What are the issues that are important to you and why are they worth your vote?

Over to you.

English: Ballot Box showing preferential voting

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The elder statesman

Like any young Labor voter in the 1970s I despised Malcolm Fraser with a passion for his role in the dismissal of the Whitlam Government, and I continued to have contempt for the man throughout his political life.

One of us has changed for I now quite admire him, as do many old Labor people. Or maybe none of us have changed; the changes being the state of politics that surround us and after all these years we have found some middle ground.

Malcolm Fraser represented a Liberal Party that bears no resemblance to the one he proudly led. He now views it as being a party that has drifted so far to the right it is no longer recognisable to the values he once stood for. On that, I agree with him. Almost eight years ago he:

. . . delivered his most scathing critique of the party he led to three federal election victories, and confessed that he had thought seriously about quitting after half a century of membership.

Under John Howard, he said, it had become a party of ”fear and reaction”, conservative not liberal, and willing to play the race card and discriminate against asylum seekers.

He quit the party in May, 2010.

As Prime Minister in the 1970s Malcolm Fraser opened the doors to a quarter of a million Vietnamese refugees and papers released under the 30 year rule showed that Howard bitterly opposed that. So did I, I’m sad to admit, but that’s how many of us felt back then. I became more tolerant, understanding and accepting of refugees by the 1990s while Howard never did. We all know he turned the 2001 election battle into one of race and where xenophobia dominated the political landscape. It’s easy to see why Fraser didn’t like the way the party had become under Howard.

Learning that he’d stood by his principles for humanitarian reasons was the second thing he’d done which earned some admiration.

The first was during the Rwanda crisis in the 1990s when he was the face of CARE Australia. I have since learned that:

In 1987 Mr Fraser formed CARE Australia as part of the international CARE network of humanitarian aid organisations. He was chairman from 1987 until 2002. He was also president of CARE International from 1990 to 1995, and its vice president for the next four years.

He was, then, more than just the face of CARE Australia. He was its heart.

The same article (above link) notes that within two years of leaving Parliament in 1983 he had become a key figure in Australia’s international and diplomatic relations.

Notably, he was Co-Chairman of the Commonwealth Committee of Eminent Persons against Apartheid which was formed to encourage a process of dialogue and reform in South Africa in 1985-86 and in 1989 he was appointed Chairman of the United Nations Committee on African Commodity Problems which reported to Secretary-General de Cuellar in June 1990.

Compare that to the next Liberal prime Minister, who upon leaving Parliament wasted no time in pursuing a post-political career of self-promotion and self-indulgence.

In an interview he gave with Professor Robyn Eckersley in late 2011 Fraser again lamented how the Liberal Party had ‘lost its way‘ and was particularly scathing of its current leader, Tony Abbott.

Eckersley: You recently declared that Tony Abbott is a dangerous politician, perhaps one of the most dangerous in Australia’s history. What did you mean by that?

Fraser: [He’s] unpredictable. He says what jumps into his mind. Let me give an example. When farmers were complaining about miners searching for coal or for gas on farms, he spoke almost as though he did not understand that under British law, Australian law, the Crown owns the minerals and the wealth under the ground and if a mining company can get a right to mine or investigate over your farm then that has always been in a sense too bad for the farmer.

You can try and oppose it but that is what the law has always said. Now Tony, in encouraging the farmers, really spoke as though he was quite unaware of that current and historic position. But it was expedient at the time to get the support of the farmers. It might be a bit harsh but I think in a month’s time he will have forgotten he said that.

Eckersley: Is the unpredictability the main reason you called him dangerous?

Fraser: The unpredictability.

Eckersley: Any other reasons?

Fraser: I think the whole party is very much on the extreme right. I happen to believe that the Minchin/Abbott duo to get rid of Malcolm Turnbull – who had actually won a couple of party room votes, even though narrowly – but then they said we’re not going to work with you anyway, we’ll walk out.

The minority was saying we won’t accept the majority and the majority just accepted it. It was an extraordinary occurrence and I believe that rather than being on the emissions trading scheme, it was because Malcolm was showing some significant signs of being a liberal and they didn’t want a liberal in charge of the Liberal party, they wanted a conservative in charge of the Liberal party.

I would encourage you all to read that interview. It not only shows that Fraser hasn’t changed but how much the Liberal Party has. It also shows that the party lost a man who understands the important issues of today, such as climate change, humanitarian issues, Indigenous issues and the Murdoch domination of our media and how it should be addressed. The Liberal Party today has no interest in any of those key problems.

No wonder they lost their elder statesman.

 

In the year 2050

Tony Abbott has lamented that the introduction of the carbon tax has not been “absolutely catastrophic” but warned Australians they will be $5000 worse off by 2050 unless it is abolished. Because of that dastardly Julia Gillard the carbon tax will take $2.53 a week out of our pockets for the next 38 years, quipped Blogotariat.

So that’s the worse thing Abbott reckons can happen to us and our future generations over the next 38 years. I can live with that.

In 2050 Australia will probably be a good place. Thanks to a long-gone Prime Minister way back in 2012 we’ll awake to clear blue skies and we’ll have jobs to go to. Our economy will continue to be the envy of the world and our telecommunication systems have been modeled around the world, as have our green technologies.

There is no such thing as a minority group as Australia will be a country where all people are equal. Even our Indigenous brothers and sisters can walk down the street without being racially vilified.

Tertiary education is affordable and there are enough hospital beds to house the sick.

The image of Australia in 2050 paints a very attractive picture.

But I wonder what it’ll look like had Tony Abbott have been Prime Minister way back in 2012. Allow me to amuse myself with the following picture.

Those people lucky enough to have jobs – and there aren’t many of them – will don face masks before they leave for work. The streets will be empty; acid rain has been forecast.

Twenty people have been killed by the riot police in Melbourne’s shanty town.

The nation’s capital, Port Hedland, now has a population of four million.

Areas of Western Australia that were once sacred sites containing art work from a lost civilisation are now big holes in the ground.

Prime Minister Thomas Rinehart dismisses calls to end Australia’s ties to the monarchy.

Meanwhile, the war with Malaysia goes well. It’s also good for the economy and helps line the pockets of the billionaires.

The unemployment rate of 46% is steady.

Refugee boats are sank as soon as they enter Australian waters. Tony Abbott’s long ago promise to stop the boats has been a success.

The reintroduction of the assimilation policies have failed so Aborigines are again sent to reserves.

Gay marriage is illegal.

It’s now been 12 years since a fish has been caught in the Murray. The waters are too polluted to sustain life.

Plans are being drawn up to move the major coastal cities inland due to the rising tides. This should help employment.

Meanwhile the war with India goes well.

There is great excitement in the country after the Government announces the go-ahead of a National Broadband Network.

In the finance sectors, interest rates have dropped to 26% and the dollar is 35 cents against the Greenback.

A new university is planned for Port Hedland. The country will then have five universities.

Religious Instructions are compulsory in primary schools.

The skies are black, the riverways are murky and the beaches are sludge. Nothing grows.

The billionaires thank Tony Abbott for their lucky life. And for a white Australia.

Meanwhile, the war with Somalia goes well.