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A Fair Go

Is everybody given a fair go in this country?

Not anymore, says Peter Barnes, and definitely not with a government intent on taking away the services and support most needed by the nation’s poorest.

But what is even more disgraceful, laments Peter, are the lies that these people have to take a ‘hit’ for the sake of (what is already) a strong economy.

“A fair go” could be Australia’s motto.

It’s a phrase that’s uniquely Australian, and one on which we pride ourselves: Fair go, mate!

There are other versions that nobody but an Australian would understand: “Fair dibs”, and of course “Fair suck of the sauce bottle”, but they all mean roughly the same thing.

Fairness, and balance.

A national poll a few years ago showed that 9 out of 10 us think “a fair go” is important. It’s a simple way of summing up most of the things which, when we’re polled, we say are most important : Health, Education, Employment, the cost of living, and more generally the Economy.

We understand, as Australians, that that’s what a fair society is about. A fair society is one where you look after the sick. A fair society is one where you look after the old. A fair society is one where you care for the young, and they get the best education possible. In a fair society everybody would like to be rich, but nobody wants to be rich if it means that the sick get sicker, we neglect the old, the poor get poorer and we endanger our children’s future. Wealth is nice, but not wealth at any price, and not if there isn’t a fair go.

We understand, as Australians, that sometimes times are tough and sometimes they’re easy, but a fair go means that if we’re “doing it tough”, then everybody’s doing it tough, not just some.

In particular, not just the battlers.

This article was first published on Peter’s blog infinate8horizon and has been republished with permission.

“Mate, if we’re doing it tough then everyone deserves a fair go, especially the battlers.”

That is fair dinkum Australian.

Which is why it’s so hard to understand what’s happening in Australian politics right now.

Because we’re not doing it tough, not everyone is getting a fair go, and stone the bloody crows, the people who are getting the worst deal are the battlers!

What the hell is wrong?

All of the national and international statistics show that we’re not doing it tough. In fact, compared to practically everybody else in the world, we’re doing it easy. In a recent visit, Andrew Neil laid out his summary of our economy, and Treasurer Joe Hockey agreed with him. Andrew Neil is former editor of the Sunday Times, founder of Sky TV News, and publisher of The Spectator. He compared Australia to the other members of the G20.

Let’s remember that the G20, of which we are a member, represent 85% of global GDP, 75% of global trade, and two thirds of the world’s population. It isn’t everyone, but it’s most of those who matter economically.

Neil pointed out that there isn’t a single other country in the G20 that can match our economic statistics, and Joe Hockey agreed:

  • A budget deficit of less than 3% of GDP
  • A national debt that’s only 23% of GDP
  • Twenty two years of continuous growth
  • Unemployment less than 6%
  • A strong currency
  • Massive mineral resources

In other words, there may be one or two countries who are better on one measure or another, but taken all together, nobody in the G20 can match us. Nobody. And Joe Hockey agreed.

Economically we are the luckiest country in the G20, and hence probably the world.

That is not doing it tough, by any measure. Quite the opposite.

We are in a better position than just about anybody else in the world to create a fair society. I won’t bore you with more statistics, but we actually spend significantly less than most comparable countries on pensions, health care and other social benefits. There are some graphs at the end of the article.

Even if we were doing it tough, we’d expect that everyone would share the pain. In the spirit of fair go, we’d make sure that the weakest and poorest didn’t end up getting hurt the worst.

But they are about to.

All of the talk leading up to the budget has been about cutting services, about reducing services, about “unsustainable” services, about coming economic disaster. Our social welfare is apparently too expensive, we have to pay again for the health system we’ve already paid for, we can’t afford as much for education or disability. It’s all doom and gloom for the sick, the poor, the old and the young. Even though we’re not really doing it tough.

But there’s no pain or doom and gloom for business.

We have the best economic credentials in the G20, and for some reason we’re going to make life harder for the battlers, and business isn’t going to feel a thing. Have you heard the Minerals Council, or the Business Council, or any other business lobby screaming about the upcoming budget? No. The only people screaming are the ones who can least afford it.

This is the opposite of a fair go. This is bullshit.

Other countries with worse economies than ours are managing a fair society, and are looking after their young, their old, their sick and their poor. Why can’t we?

This is selfish, greedy, lying, unfair, un-Australian bullshit.

We have one of the luckiest countries in the world, and to make a few people even richer we’re going to take money and services away from those who can least afford it, even though we don’t really need to.

That’s a bastard act.

That’s not what Australia is about. That’s not what Australians expect, or respect, or deserve.

It’s not a fair go, it’s bullshit.

This article was first published on Peter’s blog infinite8horizon and has been republished with permission.


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  1. Terry2

    I’ve no doubt that John Howard has advised the Prime Minister on the “temporary debt levy” otherwise known as an increase in income tax.

    Howard’s thinking was always strategic, if a little dodgy; he will have noted that a four year temporary debt levy to assist in clearing up “Labor’s mess” could be brought in from 2015 and then treated as a reduction in income tax in 2019, just months before the federal election to give Tony a third term.

    Abbott almost let the cat out of the bag when he confusingly said that the only way to deliver tax cuts was to introduce this temporary levy.

    More fool us if we believe him.

  2. leighton8

    Yep …. great mounds of BS is basically what has been produced by this abomination of an LNP government ……

  3. mars08

    I don’t want to take anything away from the meaning of this article… BUT…

    “A fair go” could be Australia’s motto.

    It’s a phrase that’s uniquely Australian…

    That’s the sort trite pablum I’d expect from a slimy politician. Can we PLEASE avoid such pap on this forum?

    “Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité” There is nothing “uniquely Australian” about the idea of a fair go. Or “mateship” for that matter…

    Rant over.

  4. diannaart

    A bunch of workplace bullies promoted past their abilities – look how it has gone to their heads.

    Abbott you and your cronies have crossed the line – you can’t fool all the people all the time (in spite what Murdoch tells you).

    There is no fiscal emergency.

    The only people who need to get over their sense of self-entitlement are yourselves.

    You can either do the job to which the people elected you – that is ensure all pull their weight – this means following up on big corporations who pay a pittance of tax.

    – ensuring are most vulnerable are not harmed and are, in fact, supported – this way even the very poorest of us can still contribute.

    – remember that Australia’s infrastructure – that’s health, education, public and private transport, equity of employment and opportunities – not just roads, you dummy!

  5. Stephen Tardrew

    Great article. Says it all. This hits it out of the ballpark. Congratulations AIMN. All you need to know about the corruption and greed of the LNP.

    Running our country down internationally must have some effect upon investment. To hate your fellow countrymen enough to vilify a nation that is one of the most successful in the world is just appalling. Then to have Hockey agree with Neil while the next sentence telling us we are in crisis is just plain strait out lying hyperbola. The guy is unhinged.

    These despicable fools willingly abuse the poor and marginalized while feeding their wealthy mates. There is no doubt about it this is the worst government ever, bar none.

    Sometimes it is all one can do to try and remain civil.

    They don’t give a shit about a fair go.

    I am holding my tongue back with great effort.

    There is a gremlin lurking around in my head that wants to leap out and scream all sorts of invective at these pathetic, uncivilized, cruel, immoral elitists.

  6. Tracie

    Funny how Turkey has the highest economic growth rate. It also has the least offensive ‘detention’ centres. It’s like a city with all mod cons.

  7. xiaoecho

    This is merely about the transfer of wealth from one sector of society to another — CLASS WAR. Why no-one is willing to call it for what it is, is just mystifying. Nothing will change until people start feeling the pinch in their hip pockets. Watching the old egalitarian Australia die is

    heartbreaking; like watching a loved relative waste away and die without being able to do a thing about it.
    We are not Governed by REASONable people. They are driven by Social Darwinist Capitalist idealogy.

    It is the most predatory social theory ever formulated. The law of the jungle.

    For three and a half years Liberals have dominated Australian politics and made it over into their image. A miserable, mean, small minded, petty, penny counting, miser mentality where there is no room for generosity of spirit and the ONLY measure of worth is ones wealth.

    For the first time in my I am ashamed to be Australian.

    Thank you Tony Abbott and the Liberals

  8. The Trees

    Thanks.This lives up to AI MN’s usual standard.
    I would LOVE to know how widely read this blog is.
    I cannot face the thought of these cretins getting a second term,let alone a third term as mentioned by one commentator.
    Long live citizen journalism.

  9. xiaoecho

    That should read…”For the first time in my life I am ashamed to be Australian”

  10. mars08

    “Mate, if we’re doing it tough then everyone deserves a fair go, especially the battlers.”

    For some time now, the definition of “battler” has been twisted and spun for political gain. I’m sure that there are many, many people who consider themselves “battlers” because they haven’t updated their $80k fishing boats for 5 years. Or that the Toyota 4WD in the driveway is older then the neighbour’s.

    Or repaying $350k loan for the investment property is too demanding.

    Or champion vote-buyer, John Howard, was a great one for spinning this line. Telling Australians that they had the right to be “comfortable” in their lifestyle. A weasel-word if there every was one. Since those days, both major parties have played to the aspirationals in the marginal seats, telling them that they are “doing it tough” and they deserve more.

    Do, these days, when someone mentions that Australians deserve “fair go”, they are probably saying that they want more in their pockets… irrespective of the unfairness in the community.

  11. Stephen Tardrew


    No doubt this is class warfare. However for the LNP the war is never over because there is never enough for the rich and always too much for the poor and marginalized. Feed the middle class anti-socialist crap and they seem to munch it down in great lumps of resentment at the welfare bludgers. However many are now one hairs breath away from unemployment as the vehicle, and other industries, go down watch the tables turn.

    Little or no investment or assistance to one of the greatest growth areas in technology Green Energy. Get rid of jobs then divest the economy of replacement manufacturing and send a small number of people off to the mines. Reduce the minimum wage and send those with education debts into low wage incomes that will have to suffice to pay for the higher education. Great plan methinks.

    No there is never enough for these neoconservatives and their hypocritical Social Darwinist fanaticism. If you were to ask most LNP politicians to give a precise description of natural selection; selective advantage; survival strategies; the contributing personality traits and their biological basis they would have no idea. They play on success but never admit that their success rides upon a community of cooperative individuals who do the work so they can make profits.

    They support a selfish paradigm that has no sound basis in science. If anything is to be a measure of future possibilities it is science and investment in universal and equitable application of technology.

  12. Kaye Lee

    The Trees,

    “I would LOVE to know how widely read this blog is.” It very much depends how widely an article gets shared because that has a multiplier effect.

    A few stats as I speak…

    3,218,620 hits

    A rough estimate of readers over the last week – about 90,000 though some of them would be repeat viewers.

    Views on my articles in the last week 55,479 though 42,806 of them were the article “So let me get this straight”

    April 30 we had 27,826 views with 21,074 different visitors.

    It’s usually around 10,000 a day but sometimes an article will take off and go much higher or several articles will be published on one day which ups the numbers.

  13. mars08

    Stephen Tardrew

    I think that the neocon Social Darwinist nabobs see things from a different angle. They work on the basis that Darwinism is malleable.

    In nature, Darwinism means that those most suited to their immediate environment will survive and the “weak” will perish.

    The Social Darwinist approach the idea from the opposite direction. In society, those who can shape their surroundings (to suit their desires) will thrive and those who cannot adapt will be eliminated.

    I don’t know how this will play out in the long-term. But, right now, it’s working for them.

  14. donwreford

    The incongruity of the liberal government bent on financial oppression, of those who are the least able to afford these costs, so much for Abbott’s, no surprises, not only a surprise but a deception of obtaining power in being elected, the purchase of 58 jets and the search of the missing plane that has no limit as to financing this saga, rather millions of dollars searching for the dead, it would be saner to spend this money on the living.
    Tony Abbot a example of a living fossil, in terms of his psyche, but traces of this peculiarity can be seen in his walk, only a primitive man so unconscious as not to understand his ambition to become the all powerful man, who having self doubts about his identity, desperately needs to become notorious even if he has to become tyrannical.

  15. Gina

    Indeed! Australians are being fed propaganda about how it’s doing it “tough”. Lies about a budget emergency and blaming others for their current sins, just doesn’t cut it JH!

  16. passum2013

    Reblogged this on passum2 and commented:
    Truth hurts

  17. Stephen Tardrew


    Therefore in that case it is a complete misunderstanding of Darwin and subsequently it is not Social Darwinism but some fantasy gobbledygook fabricated to suit their particular prejudices and dogmas. The point I am trying to make is that Darwinism and Social Darwinism are far removed from the mad and irrational mishmash of religious dogma and self-interested appropriation of scientific terminology to meet political ends.

    There is nothing to say that the so called strong will not perish. One significant virus and many of the fittest are dead. They want the upside while ignoring the downside by decrying the biological basis for compassion, empathy, equity and utility. Evolution is a complex mix of environmental drives, genetic propensities, social cohesion and cooperation as well as the ability to cope with adaptive threats from our selves and other species.

    Recently scientist have demonstrate that morality is innate and genetically transferable.

    Our future may well depend upon us amplifying empathic traits while dampening down autonomic fear to avoid environmental degradation and ecological disaster. If morality is innate then it definitely has adaptive advantages. This is very recent research so it is yet to have a major impact.

    How to convince conservatives that their magical and mythical paradigm is antithetical to evolutionary facts that actually reinforce empathy, reciprocity and cooperation. There is no such thing as the weakest there are simply different adaptive strategies, some which fail, and some which succeed. Nevertheless we are self-referencing beings and can opt to care for those who are marginalized. In an evolutionary sense, no matter how brief the life span, every species is an essential part of the existential matrix otherwise they would not occur.

    The point is that conservative constructs are much too simplistic and naive to take into account the complexities, and obvious benefits, of evolutionary cooperation; emergent empathy; understanding of causal contributors to inequality and suffering and the positive impact empathic beliefs and behaviours have upon social cohesion.

  18. xiaoecho

    @Stephen Tardrew………..It is like standing on the sidelines watching opportunities pass us by because the Liberals have decreed Australia is not allowed to have nice things. We have to be a second rate nation who doesn’t get ideas above it’s station

  19. Stephen Tardrew


    Yes its Cristian austerity and penance for the poor and underprivileged (they create their realities after all) and greed and self-interest for the born to rule elites. Judgement from above pain for those slackers down below. And the goal for these laymen is to live the life of Christ. Damn his wonderfulness couldn’t even get past novice before he did a runner. As for behaving like the big fella. You’ve gotta be joking.

    Its just a manual you know. A work in progress that Bible and it is up to us knowitall dogmatists to interpret the endless contradictions and paradoxes based upon some weird type of elitist judgement, blame and retribution handed down from above. Bloody hell I keep looking up but there is nothing there.

    Bugger I must be doing something wrong. Washed my ears out and all.

    Hey wait a minute what’s that? Oh damn its just the sound of one LNP brand crapping.

    Jeez those good old boys are a compassionate lot aren’t they?

  20. Dja Crowmanic

    can anyone please explain why the pollies get such good super endowments and extra privileges? please? Because I and millions of others DON’T GET IT! where in any budget statements or taxation rviews are they mentioning how “they” also will be “doing it tough” in such a so-called “budget crisis”?
    btw, try being a p/t contract PAYG on $28,000 year … then we can talk about “doing it tough” $80000-10000 avergae wage seems like a dream to me and many many others on similar work/employment arrangements 🙁

  21. Möbius Ecko

    Dja Crowmanic their reasoning is that unlike normal Australians politicians are only in power at the whim of the people and that can be tenuous and short.

    Any politician at any level can be out of a job at the end of any election cycle.

    Many, Abbott not included, work long days for their electorates and country. You would be surprised at just how many hours a lot of politicians do work even in their parliamentary breaks.

    I guess that’s it in a nutshell, whether you agree with that reasoning is another thing.

  22. mars08

    Stephen Tardrew:

    There is nothing to say that the so called strong will not perish. One significant virus and many of the fittest are dead. They want the upside while ignoring the downside…

    Now… that’s the way we’d expect it to work. But, evidently, it aint necessarily so! Most of the so-called strong should have perished during the GFC. But, because they can shape the landscape… and are “too big to fail” The vast majority survived. In fact, some even thrived! The virus left them stronger and more convinced about their invulnerability. They are carriers and now they are passing the virus to us!

  23. Stephen Tardrew


    To a degree but evolution is a tedious and slow process and, as we are witnessing, it will bite back, but not immediately and not in an obvious way. We are on the cusp of a new era whereby exponential growth in technology and artificial intelligence are going to have profound impacts in the future. We can project our beliefs into the future but they are never totally right. We simply have to stand up and go into bat for the less fortunate and insist upon redistribution of wealth. Another two hundred or two thousand years and we will be the future primitives. You can be sure our mean and inequitable society will be viewed with some distaste.

    Unfortunately important discoveries in science take time to find there way into the public domain nevertheless many intellectuals and academics are working to reframe a more just and equitable society. We are not living with the raw brutality of the industrial revolution or per-industrial mortality rates so things can, and do, get better it just takes time. We must not be discouraged from the task of reframing the cultural paradigm to confront unjustifiable ideological judgement, blame and retribution to move towards understanding the causal contributors to poverty and hardship.

    A new meme (cultural gene) takes time and effort to find its way into mass awareness. It’s not that change is not happening it is just demands effort and application by those who have a reverence for life and compassion for others. Therefore we must promote equity and fairness knowing we have to battle against the forces of fear, tradition and conservative backward referral. Unfortunately change is a challenging prospect nevertheless, to survive, change we must.

  24. donwreford

    Not only do the politicians get a salary that most only dream of, also perks, like every time Abbott publically appear gets money, also most of all get money by slush funds, on deals with those whoe give money for easing through projects, Abbotts reply is to be funded to obtain office,paid by taxpayers, this would be preferable and beneficial for the overall population of Australians.

  25. donwreford

    Not only in from the whim of the people but also propaganda that misrepresents the motives of their rhetoric before obtaining power, the fact is if someone was non corrupt and went for office they would not get in as a result of the culture of the public, politicians and those who wield power such as corporations.

  26. Buff McMenis

    Even during the Great Depression of the 1930’s there were people who gave other people a “Fair Go”, even if it meant digging a hole/filling in a hole for a meal or two!! Now, we only give to the already rich, especially if they inherit their wealth like Rinehart did, and take from the poor. Where is our version of Robin Hood?? 🙁

  27. donwreford

    Robin Hood, is the state, giving handouts that guarantee you will die of malnutrition that is a slow decline of the human physical form, and now God has been disposed of as a result of rational ideology, that is God is not suitable for being a analytic quantifiable research as a Phd, serious subject.
    After WW2, their was goodwill by the British, in 1967, allied forces decided to end celebrations, these forces of opposition were police, government, psychotherapy, finance institutes, and the upper rich class, of Britain, and media, and also the population could not fully understand how this was happening, hence the modern movement is now a “me” generation.
    The police became instrumental in enforcing violence upon the native population.

  28. monicastangledweb

    Gina, I love how passionate you are about your politics. Never heard of these expressions using the word fair, except for a fair go. That one makes sense to me, and sounds familiar. But anyway, it’s all rather interesting.

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