I have always felt that the measure of a person, or an organisation, is how they deal with their mistakes – how quickly they admit error, if they apologise, what they do to rectify it, and what they learn from it. To my mind, admitting a mistake does not show vulnerability, it shows confidence. Fixing it shows courage.
Which makes me wonder about our government.
Quite obviously, they made a mistake in removing carbon pricing. Instead of being a leader in global action, we are now an apologist for the coal industry. Instead of collecting billions from the biggest polluters, which encouraged them to invest in research and development of sustainable practices, we now pay billions to those who offer the cheapest reductions which are not the big emitters who continue on their merry way. Instead of a burgeoning renewable energy industry we have nervous investors wondering just how much the government is willing to pander to nutcases like Dennis Jensen and David Leyonjhelm.
They made a mistake in keeping the compensation for the carbon tax after they had abolished it. This largesse has put a huge strain on the budget. We all got a substantial decrease in income tax when the threshold was moved to $18,200, a point which the Coalition seems to ignore as they push to claim credit for even more tax cuts.
They made a mistake in gutting the nation building NBN. We are spending tens of billions fixing existing technology to give some of us substandard speeds some time well into the future. We are already considering selling it off which means we will not realise the return on investment we had hoped for and will have no control over prices.
They made a mistake with their asylum seeker policy which has patently not stopped the people smuggling trade or drownings at sea – it has just stopped the boats from landing here. It has caused refugees to look elsewhere for help or remain in limbo in a transit country, or worse still, stay in, or return to, a warzone and face their tormentors and our bombs.
They made a mistake when they attacked Gillian Triggs for doing her job protecting the human rights of innocent children.
They made a mistake when they slashed funding to the CSIRO and other research bodies, something that has only been partially rectified with their new focus on ‘innovation’, and only after the loss of hundreds of talented scientists and researchers and the closure of important programs. If they don’t have a forrseeable commercial value, we are not interested.
They made a mistake when they sacked Disability Commissioner Graeme Innes and appointed ‘freedom crusader’ Tim Wilson.
They made a mistake when they ordered 58 more JSF jets. Not only have they proven to be expensive lemons that are way over budget and way behind schedule, what use do we have for strike force capability squadrons of fighter jets?
They made a mistake when they dangled the promise of building our submarines to other countries. Abbott wanted a free trade agreement with Japan so he gave them a wink and a nod, while Lucy Turnbull’s connection to Germany had made them the front runner under the new PM but, once again, why do we need strike force capability fleets of submarines? We can’t man the six we already have and the only reason for wanting new ones is the employment it would bring in the build and maintenance.
They made a mistake when they committed to increasing defence (or should that be offence) spending to 2% of GDP regardless of need.
They made a mistake in allowing the car industry to die. There should have been a reformation to production of high standard sustainable cars – low emissions, electric, lightweight, durable, biofuels – wherever new technology could take us. The loss of manufacturing expertise puts us at the mercy of the countries who recognise the value of these skills by subsidising the industry that fosters them.
They made a mistake when they backed away from the Gonski funding for education. If our future is to be determined by innovation and technology then we want every one of our children to have the opportunity to develop and contribute their ideas.
They made a mistake when they abolished the mining tax just as mining companies were moving to production phase and had used up their accelerated depreciation write-offs. The rubbish about it costing jobs and deterring investors was untrue as thousands of mining jobs have gone since its removal and investment had nosedived.
They made a mistake slashing foreign aid to all time lows. It is these programs that will lift people out of poverty, not coal. It is these programs that will empower women, not a reformation of Islam. It is these programs that will halt the flow of refugees through education, health and stability, not tow backs.
They made a mistake when they decimated funding to Aboriginal programs. High incarceration rates, the prevalence of preventable disease, lower life expectancy, lower educational outcomes, high unemployment and suicide rates, substance abuse and domestic violence – all of these myriad of issues are perhaps beyond the capabilities of Warren Mundine to address.
They made a mistake putting George Brandis in charge of Arts funding and are now trying to scrabble back whatever funding hasn’t already been handed over to ballet and opera companies who have friends of George’s on their boards.
They made a mistake when they elected Tony Abbott leader of the Liberal party, Bronwyn Bishop Speaker of the House, and Mal Brough Special Minister of State – appointments that were defended for far too long.
They made a mistake when they promised a credible path back to surplus, when they promised to reduce the debt, when they promised that all new expenditure would be matched by equivalent savings, when they said we don’t have a revenue problem, and when they chose not to pursue corporate tax evaders.
The Australian people deserve an apology and this government should learn from their mistakes and get about fixing them. But I doubt they have the courage to say they got it wrong let alone do anything about the mess they have made through their own stubbornness and fixation on destroying all things Labor.