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The ‘adults’ have been in charge for a year (but is it a happy birthday?)

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Come Sunday 7 September the ‘adults’ as they are want to call themselves will have been in government for a year. How do we assess their performance? What have they done that progresses our nation? What policies have they implemented that serve the common good?

No doubt everyone will have a view that will be will be influenced by many factors. Allegiance to a party, objective analysis, bias or even single policy issues like education, health and the economy will influence your opinion.

In the past year I have addressed many issues pertaining to the Abbott Government. The most recent titled Giving Abbott a Serve in which I quote Paul Kelly of the Australian newspaper.

“Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the prime minister can muster.”

In two articles; “Remembering Abbott’s Past” and “Lest we Forget” I tackled Abbott’s suitability for the role of Prime Minister and I quoted the following:

The Guardian has judged him as “politically incorrect to the point of dementia”.

New Statesman said Abbott represents “politics at its most crass, exploitative and disturbing”.

UK Labour MP Paul Flynn called him “a bigoted airhead”.

The LA Times called itself “scandalised by his prejudices”.

The Sydney Morning Herald said “Tony Abbott had plumbed new lows in government decency”.

Le Monde thinks he is “sexist and vulgar”.

The influential Huffington Post said “he is simply an idiot”.

Then in another piece Abbott’s Thus Far Annus Horrbillis I took on his use of ideology to form a legacy.

“Most Prime Ministers when they achieve Government with a sizable majority set out to put in place policy initiatives that might define a legacy they will be remembered for. John Howard’s GST, Paul Keating’s Native Title and Bob Hawke’s sweeping changes to our monetary system come to mind. They all burnt up their political capital in the knowledge that it doesn’t last for ever. They all focused on big things. Large programmes that remain indelible in Australia’s historical political discourse”.

Then in two related pieces; You Are Being Manipulated and Abbott’s Form of Social Engineering I confronted his use of propaganda and manipulation.

“The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation. We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups”.

“It seems the Abbott government is attempting to socially engineer the minds of people. Nowhere is this more evident than its willingness to downgrade education and in particular science. Any pretext to the scientific understanding of environmental impacts has been thrown out the window to appease the sponge of capitalism”.

I devoted a number of pieces to the decline in our democracy including A Crisis in Our Democracy:

“Firstly, the Abbott factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced Tony Abbott believes that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. So much so that his words and actions bring into question the very worthiness of the word truth. Or he has at least devalued it to the point of obsolesce”.

And so it is on the subject of truth that that I make my judgement on Abbott and his Government. I wrote two articles on the subject. The first; Why Does Abbott Lie?

“Everyone knows that our Prime Minister is a liar. He might even be the worst amongst the world leaders. He is certainly the worst this nation has ever seen. Many of our most respected journalists and media commentators have said so. He has even admitted he is a liar himself. The evidence is so abundant, so overwhelmingly copious that it is beyond contradiction. It is fair to say that in general the populace accepts his lying as a fact. I and many others have listed them, quoted them, itemised, analysed them and exposed them in crystal clarity. Even members of his own party have accepted that he is a liar of nefarious intent. And his sheer indifference to the fact that he lies together with his lack of conscience about it I find sickening. The list is as long as a toilet roll. Only people like Jones and Bolt seek to convince people otherwise”.

And the second; Political Lies and who Tells Them.

The last piece speaks to the question of truth generally, but more so in politics. It concludes that.

Prime ministerial lies, about-faces and broken promises are as follows:

Gough Whitlam: 7
Malcolm Fraser: 52
Bob Hawke: 4
Paul Keating: 3
John Howard: 41
Tony Abbott (as minister): 17
Kevin Rudd: 4
Julia Gillard: 6

You would need to read the article to see how the how the list originated.

If you count the “No adverse changes to superannuation” Tony Abbott is on 32, and he is only in the first year of his term in office. At this rate he is guaranteed to set a new record.

It then goes that if you judge a government on its integrity, truthfulness, openness, leadership and its policies (or absence of them) one could only conclude that this one has been a monumental flop.

The list:

1. Does not spend his first week as Prime Minister with an Aboriginal community – 14 September 2013. This promise was made in front of indigenous elders and participants at the Garma Festival on 10 August 2013, this is a live recording.

2. Fails to “stop the boats” – 23 September 2013. This promise was repeated so many times I can’t count. Here’s Abbott’s 2013 campaign launch speech.

3. Breaks his promise to support Gonski – 25 November 2013 and 13 May 2014. Fails to commit to future funding or to require States to match the Commonwealth funding commitment. See paragraph two from Christopher Pyne on 29 August 2013.

4. Breaks its NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016 – 12 December 2013 This was the Coalition’s policy they took to the election first announced 9 April 2013.

5. Breaks his election promise of no cuts to education by cutting funding for trade training centres in schools on 17 December 2013. He made this promise at the National Press Club on 2 September 2013 and in writing on 5 September 2013 as part of their policy commitments.

6. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health. He made this promise at the National Press Club on 2 September 2013 and in writing on 5 September 2013 as part of their policy commitments. This promise was first broken on 27 November 2013 when they cut funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council.

7. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health on 17 December 2013 when they cut $150 million from hospitals and health services.

8. Fails to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean – 23 December 2013 Promise made by Greg Hunt.

9 April 20139. Breaks a promise to provide fibre-to-the-premises for all Tasmanians for the National Broadband Network. This promise was confirmed my Malcolm Turnbull on 17 August 2013 and confirmed as broken by the NBN Co executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski on 13 February 2014.

10. Breaks a promise to introduce the paid parental leave scheme he took to the election on 30 April 2014 by reducing the promised benefit for those earning above $100 000.

11. Breaks promise of “no cuts to the ABC or SBS” by cutting $43.5 million from the ABC and SBS.

12. Breaks a promise of “no new taxes” by introducing a deficit tax rise of two percentage points for people earning more than $180,000 a year.

13. Announced to sacking of 16,500 public sector workers as whole Departments are abolished despite promising only 12,000 job losses and through natural attrition.

14. Breaks a promise of “no new taxes” by introducing a fuel levy.

15. Reduction in foreign aid budget of $7.9 billion over five years despite promise to not exceed $4.5 billion and cut via indexation.

16. Increases the pension age to 70 from 2035 after promising no changes to pensions.

17. Cuts to old age pension by indexing to CPI, while it was promised there would be no changes.

18. Scraps The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) which was set up to support new and emerging renewable technologies and in doing so breaks an election promise.

19. Tears up Federal Government’s agreement with states and territories to help fund increasing health costs despite promise of no cuts to health.

20. Breaks a promise to make no cuts to health with a $368 million cut from preventative health measures.

21. Reduces the Medicare benefit for optometry services and allows optometrists to charge more, despite promise to not cut health budget.

22. Axes the Charles Sturt University’s dental and oral health clinics, despite promise to not cut health budget.

23. Abolishes Medicare locals, despite promise to not cut health budget.

24. Breaks a promise to spend $2.55 billion Emissions Reduction Fund by committing less than half this amount in the budget.

25. Breaks a promise to have one million more solar roofs across Australia and at least  solar towns.

26. Breaks a promise not to cuts funding to health by dramatically cutting hospital funding.

27. Breaks election promise and slashes funding to Landcare.

28. Breaks promise that no public servants will be forced into redundancy after revelations that two public servants in the Department of Industry have been made involuntarily redundant since September.

29. Breaks promise that no public servants will be forced into redundancy as it is revealed that at least 30 staff in Treasury will be made involuntarily redundant.

30. Breaks a promise not to grant permanent residency to people arriving by boat by granting a visa to a least one refugee

31. Breaks a promise to amend the race hate laws

In conclusion

Abbott leads a men’s club who can be divided into four groups: the religious right; the corporatist deal-makers; those who resemble the American Tea Party; and the technological luddites who deny science. They are a ministry of aging men with little practical work life experience and obscure views often deep-seated in neoconservative principles. Conservative men who can speak at will about what they oppose but have difficulty articulating what it is they believe in, or when they do it is clouded in the hue of feral, often hysterical, extremist privileged morality.


27 comments

  1. mark delmege

    They have advanced the cause of offshoring our jobs and with youth unemployment reaching new highs now they want to slash weekend wages. Its pretty much the same problem all over the neoliberal world – but as long as the money gets printed (sloshed about) the share market bubbles – they are as happy as pigs in shit.

  2. stephentardrew

    Great article John:

    One of the problems facing progressives is that of cognitive dissonance. It is quite common that people may buy a product that is inferior yet, until some threshold of malfunction is reached, they will continue to convince themselves that the product is the best of all choices. The question then becomes one of when will people realize that their choice was a poor choice and it is time to act upon the consequences. People have their own thresholds. Living in hope, underscored by magical thinking, tends to make people believe that their choices are legitimate and challenging them has a psychological cost. Being wrong makes people feel stupid and delegitimatized so we have a complex feedback mechanism of false justifications and rationalizations until things really get beyond the threshold of tolerant acceptance.

    People live busy lives and, more often than not, are ensconced within a framework that reinforces choices simply because they tend to be captured by the paradigm of their choice and tend not to be exposed to the facts. If you avidly read, and support, the Australian every day then your political capacity for critical analysis is stymied. So what seems to us like ignorance is actually reasonably well understood psychologically. The problem is to elevate peoples response to some threshold level that breaks the habituated reinforcement of past habits and conditioning.

    I think Abbott has either reached that threshold or will very soon. He cannot undo what he is nor can he cover this visceral dislike of the poor and disenfranchised as these are entrenched personality traits. There is a lag time between peoples questioning the legitimacy of a leader they voted for and acceptance that they have been sold a deceitful lemon. The fact that Abbott is a magical, rather than rational thinker, militates against him changing other than superficially. We just need to keep on keeping on and be patient.

    Regardless of the current state of affairs people really do not like liars and Abbot, as you have demonstrated, is the grand maser of deception. This will definitely end badly for him and the LNP.

  3. Kath Malcom

    John I think you had a typo on last line ” maser” or is it master, but hey it’s funny, he is a maser I not sure if it a word but it suits him maser 🙂 lol

  4. little devil

    If the adults are in charge why can’t the children divorce them. I can’t put up with them for another 2 years telling me what to do and they do the complete opposite

  5. Kath Malcom

    Am I losing the plot today the whole sentence is gone, was it there in first place, or did I dream it was there lol god I am confused 🙂

  6. stephentardrew

    Kath there coming to get you Ha Ha!

  7. davidgrayling

    The election of Abbott proves to me that democracy doesn’t work. Why?

    1. Abbott is clearly the village idiot of world politics.

    2. That the Australian people elected him proves that the electorate can’t be trusted to use their vote wisely and rationally and intelligently.

    So where do we go from here? Beats me!

  8. I Am God

    “god I am confused”

    Be not confused, yon female subject. The sentence that hath caused you discomfiture lies at the end of male subject Stephen’s comment, not other male subject John’s article. Seek ye God’s wisdom and all shalt be revealed unto you.

  9. stephentardrew

    Kath: it was meant to be master not maser. Got a case of dyslexia and often proof read many times yet still screw up.

  10. Kath Malcom

    Ohhhh dear was my mistake, god I need new glasses or something I thought I read that on johns article, but I was further down the page than I thought, yes the moral of the story,,you know what thought thought he was wrong every time…
    Sorry John, it’s Stephen who has made up a new word for Phony Tony lol maser, put a h in there and it turns to masher and he is a master masher, mashes everything he touches 🙂

  11. Kath Malcom

    I Am God, ahhh so you are aka Gary Abblett, he claimed to be God 🙂

  12. Keitha Granville

    The worrying thought that I have is that by the time of the next election will he have told so many lies that the electorate will have forgotten what the truth is, and will they then vote for him anyway again believing the new set of truths he tells them. I fear that lethargy is already setting in, people are becoming bored and sick to death of him waffling. Has anyone watched Question Time lately ? Do they ever actually answer the questions ? And when will Dorothy Dixers be outlawed ?
    Aaaaarrrrgggghhhhhh !!!!!!!!!!

  13. Wayne Turner

    UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY to the LYING RORTING PARTY.

    I totally agree with davidgrayling 😉 Sadly the masses have always been easily manipulated non-thinking ignorant asses 🙁 – It’s the biggest flaw with our democracy (Just like our MSM being owned by too few who are BIASED & UNDEMOCRATIC,but it would NOT matter if the masses weren’t asses).

    CONGRATS AUSTRALIA – NOT!

  14. June M Bullivant OAM

    They have realised that they are using the stern parent method, well in this day and age Mr Abbott the kids are out of control and so are we, will let you know if you will succeed with your method.

  15. John Lord

    Stephentardrew. I agree entirely with your summation.

  16. Wayne Turner

    Yeap great point Stephenardrew.Totally agree and that is certainly part of the problom too – Self Delusion.

  17. Phi

    Brilliant summation. The Abbot phenomena says much about Australia and Australians – it remains to be seen if Abbott is a lasting phenomena or if the nation wakes in fright in 2016 and dumps on this vicious ideologue and his cowardly team of silenced tongues.

  18. Ishe B

    Thank you. Just, thank you.

  19. I Am God

    What? You give thanks to this heathen for daring to compete with the real Lord as the most shameless self-promoter of all time?! Ok, fair enough, he wins.

  20. Choppa

    You arent a man of fact John, thats for sure – but cmon:

    Bob Hawke: 4
    Paul Keating: 3
    John Howard: 41
    Tony Abbott (as minister): 17
    Kevin Rudd: 4
    Julia Gillard: 6

    Maybe multiply the Labor numbers by 10 and you might be half way there.

  21. Anne Byam

    A brilliant article John …. says everything. Thank you.

  22. Anne Byam

    A worrying thought. Desensitisation. If people are exposed often enough ( e.g. to anything that initially brought horror to them ) … they end up just accepting it – that it is the ‘norm’ – it does not have the same effect as it did initially. Which is desensitisation.

    Please don’t let us become so used to Abbott’s lies, that we just sit back and accept them all – his manipulations, evasions, and cheating.

    A real danger …. I sure as heck hope I am wrong with this thought.

  23. Paul Raymond Scahill

    So much to say, but I feel speechless. Abbott is so corrupt and has surrounded himself with corrupt people that he feels protected. Watching INSIDERS today it appeared to be Pearce Ackermans show. (Thank God for mute button) problem was it was muted most of the time. Only good thing was Nick Zenophon. Husband won’t watch with Barry on anymore and neither will I. Does anyone know if Sarah Hendersen (7.30 Report) will be back I found her excellent she served it to both sides, but then The Abbott doesn’t like that does he. Look at how he is protected in Question Time by that dreadful world’s worst speaker. No point in good people watching that anymore Mad Monk has taken away democracy and he thinks he’ll get through the Pearly Gates! Good luck with that phoney.

  24. mars08

    Anne Byam:

    A worrying thought. Desensitisation. If people are exposed often enough ( e.g. to anything that initially brought horror to them ) … they end up just accepting it …

    Welcome to my nightmare.

    Have you noticed the massive, relentless, public outcry over the government’s treatment of the isolated, powerless and vulnerable? Um, no? I’m not surprised!! The public is too disengaged and misinformed to DEMAND social justice. Look at the treatment of asylum seekers and the unemployed. Public statements in support of those groups are few and far between. Unfair treatment of these groups increases with barely a whisper of protest. Where will it end?

    “What no one seemed to notice,” said a colleague of mine, a philologist, “was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

    “What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security…

    http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/511928.html

  25. Anne Byam

    @ Mars08 … I have read the link right through – a brilliant excerpt from the book by Milton Mayer, but in many ways disturbing and at times a terrifying writing.

    — — — “Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men ? — — — ( from Milton Mayers’ excerpt ).

    One might postulate to others that their beliefs ( political ) … are true and must be followed – or else grim existence awaits. But then politics is an intensively subjective topic and cannot always easily be discussed – except between those of like mind and persuasion.

    How to get the message across ? Burning question, to which I have no answers – although certainly a few thoughts, one of which is not at all desirable. I refuse to badly break the law. !!!

    There is one thing going for us though – it’s the first of all instincts ….. SURVIVAL. Personally, I am hoping that enough threat is seen, through all the lies and softely spoken encouragements that might be given ( from time to time – when the timing is right ) …. to wake our country up to the threat to our survival that is knocking on our doors. That’s for us – the older generation.

    However …..

    ….. One helluva lot of young folk will be turning 18 in the next two years ( God forbid it’s that long but …. ) …. and they will want to survive, to live the lives their parents and extended family have enjoyed over many years – differently of course, but enjoyable and SECURE for the most part … and will want a chance of the same. They will NOT see those chances in Abbott’s dictatorial attitudes, threats and heinous cuts to education, job search, medical attendances, and a whole host of other nasties put forward by this rabid Government. And while a degree of democracy remains, in terms of being able to vote …. there IS some hope.

    I sure as hell, trust this is correct.

  26. mars08

    @Anne Byam… yes it is troubling stuff. So many parallels…

    This passage really spoke to me:
    “You see,” my colleague went on, “one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it…

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