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An Open Letter to George Monbiot

Image by smh.com.au

Image by smh.com.au

Dear George Monbiot

Let me start by saying I’m a big fan. You can file this letter under fan-mail if you like, but as you can see, since it’s an Open Letter, it clearly has a much larger purpose than patting you on the back. The reason for my letter is that I wanted to let you know about a huge problem Australians like me are currently having to deal with. This problem is our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his blatant predilection for making political decisions in the interest of his corporate mates, while stomping on the interests of working Australians.

Today you published a brilliant article about the state of politics in the UK, which started with this cracker of a first paragraph:

“It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.”

Corporate power. I couldn’t agree with you more that corporate power is a scourge on democracy. It’s hard to know where to start to explain just how bad things have got under our very new Abbott government. But the following information might give you a good starting point to understand the outrageous advantage our new Prime Minister is giving corporations. One of Abbott’s first acts in office has been to establish a ‘Commission of Audit’. The ‘Commission of Audit’ is Liberal government speak for ‘making it look like we’ve consulted and analysed better ways to cut government funding for government programs, services and infrastructure, when really our plan is just to slash and burn without any thought for the outcomes on the community’. Or, shorter, the ‘Commission of Audit’ is code for ‘justifying our small government ideals’. If it’s not bad enough that Abbott is pretending to cut government spending through a responsible process when in actual fact the very act of cutting government spending is an irresponsible process, the extra outrage is really too much to bare. Wait for it George, because I can just tell you are going to be as outraged as I am. Who do you think Abbott has chosen to chair the five person panel carrying out this Commission of Audit? Who has he given this crucial job, the outcomes of which will impact harshly on every Australian earning yearly just a small fraction of what the corporate interests earn every day? Yep, you’ve got it. Tony Shepherd. President of the Business Council of Australia. A lobby group for business. Australia’s Liberal Prime Minister has handed over responsibility for deciding how tax-payer funds are distributed, to big business. I can completely understand that you’re pissed off with your UK government for obviously being influenced by big business, so imagine how you would feel if you were me, and your leader was actually handing over power directly to corporate interests. It’s a bloody outrage!

But, I’m sorry to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more outrage to come. I know you know all about how evil Rupert Murdoch is, and like me, you probably wouldn’t trust this man to feed your cat for the weekend, let alone trust him to decide who should be Prime Minister. But have you heard what Abbott is doing for Murdoch, his buddy, who conveniently and corruptly used his media empire to campaign on Abbott’s behalf throughout the election? Did you know that our previous Labor government had already started rolling out a National Broadband Network (NBN), which would finally bring Australia equal to European and American internet infrastructure? This NBN was not only crucial for the economic productivity and competitiveness of Australian businesses, but also of great benefit to households, especially those in rural areas, as it provided new access to education, health and community involvement via home computers. I can hear you thinking – surely Murdoch and his buddy Abbott would have no problem with Australia moving out of the backwater and into the twenty first century via a high speed NBN? Well, yes and no. You see, Murdoch couldn’t allow Labor’s NBN to be rolled out to households as it would give Australians improved access to internet TV via companies like Netflix. And the last thing Murdoch wants is a competitor to his Foxtel Pay-TV network. So Abbott is working to destroy the Labor NBN, and is instead building a not-super-fast broadband network only available to companies, and not available to households at all (unless you can afford a huge cost to connect. A new type of haves and have-nots). All this for his buddy Murdoch. For Murdoch’s corporate interests.

As you are learning George, Abbott is very selective about which corporate interests he is interested in helping. For example, you would think he would be all for innovation and scientific advancement to grow the capability of Australian companies, to grow their capacity to contribute to the economy, which is his number one concern. But Abbott isn’t if for innovation if this innovation happens to be in the field of renewable energy. Because this entire field of endeavor is very inconvenient to Abbott’s buddies in the coal industry, who provide much support to Abbott’s election campaign fund. So Abbott cuts funding to renewable energy and has also recently slashed funding to the CSIRO, Australia’s scientific research powerhouse. Of course, Abbott is no friend of science, if by science you are talking about people who believe climate change is caused by anthropogenic activities.

Speaking of climate change, another of Abbott’s best buddies is the ludicrously wealthy mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who makes billions by mining iron ore. Apparently Rinehart is deeply angered by the idea that her company should have to contribute compensation to the community for the pollution she spews into our atmosphere via her profit-making activities. So Abbott is hoping to appease Rinehart’s anger by killing the Carbon Price. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such helpful friends?

And speaking of Rinehart’s profit-making activities, you might also be interested to hear that the Labor government introduced a super-profits tax for mining companies, to try to recoup some of the value from the sale of natural resources to be shared with all Australians, rather than it being spent on Rinehart’s endless court battles with her children over, you guessed it, money. But no, the Mining Tax deletion was also high up on Abbott’s Rinehart inspired agenda. He sure does know how to look after his mates, who are very agreeable to providing campaign funds to support his election campaign.

In conclusion, in defence of the Australian Labor Party, who could definitely do with someone defending them once in a while, I would like you to know that our previous Labor government were trying to fight corporate interests, exactly as you would like a political party to stand up and do. The Rudd and Gillard governments definitely were not a waste of time. They wanted the NBN to be for all Australians, but Abbott has said no. Labor wanted Australia to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions via the Carbon Price, but Abbott has said no. And Labor wanted to redistribute the wealth accumulated by greedy corporate interests through the sale of Australian natural resources, but Abbott has said no. And now Abbott is handing power to the very same people who helped him to produce the political policies to benefit themselves. It’s enough to make me sick George. I just thought you should know what’s going on down here. And the last thing that is going to help is if we give up and let them have what they want (and by the way Russell Brand, not voting is not an option in Australia, thankfully).

Finally George, I’m glad you’ve said you’re not giving up yet. Because neither am I.

Yours sincerely
Victoria Rollison

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25 comments

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  1. Teddy Sea

    You are a brilliant writer. You connect with me every time. Thanks.

  2. Miriam English

    Yep, Victoria. George is well aware of Abbott’s horrible inclinations:
    http://www.monbiot.com/2013/09/05/abbottalypse-now/

    I think we need some way to say definitively to these treasonous “rulers” that they are not in charge anymore. I agree that simply not voting hasn’t worked. The last time a US president was voted in by a majority was in 1904. I can understand Russell Brand’s frustration, but just not voting is not enough — those in power would absolutely love for us to not vote. I’ve long been a proponent of adding to voting forms another box titled “None of the above” so that politicians are forced to see how many people don’t want them. It would also let us voice our disapproval of a party without accidentally voting in another pack of total arseholes. If the no-confidence vote was a majority then the bastards would be forced to hold another election, and keep doing so until they actually got policies that were something that the majority of the population could live with.

    It would also be good if Murdoch’s media were confiscated and nationalised for the public good so they could do something really radical, like actually report the news. It is taking too long for them to go broke — it is happening, but their demise is too slow and they’re causing too much damage on their way down.

  3. duplicitousdemocracy

    Brilliant rant. I didn’t know much about Abbot nor his tendencies to look after Corporations, but I do now. Of course the same things happen here in the UK no matter which political party rules. I’m sure his payment for supplied services will be carried out after completion of his term. Re: Tony Blair

  4. Billy moir

    A good read, open and honest. However, are there any Australians, other than computer illiterates, who cannot afford a lousy $5K for NBN?

  5. Miriam English

    Billy moir, I’m trying to work out how your comment might be ironic, but am unable to cast it that way.

    I’ve been working on computers since before there were desktop computers. I’ve learned more than 20 computer languages. I’ve built or modified pretty-much all my computers. I rebuild broken computers and give them to people who can’t afford to buy new ones. $5,000 is an impossible, amount of money for someone like me. I have no paying work at the moment (in fact for some years now) as so much computer work has outsourced to China or India and I live out in the country without transport other than my legs (I’ve had cleaning, delivery, and factory jobs, so it is not an unwillingness to work that has left me unemployed.) I know many, many people who could not hope to come up with $5K for internet connection. My sister is quite a bit better off than I am as she lives much closer to population centers and has a car, however the car and her kids keep her poor. She couldn’t afford $5K either.

    You must be very well off and your privilege quite invisible to you to assert that $5K is somehow easy.

  6. Mary Jane

    Great article, but makes one feel depressed. Australia will be set back years by these actions.

  7. hilderombout

    Indeed Victoria, great and insightful article, thank you. I love your blogs and am always impressed by the articulate way you express my understanding of the current political situation.
    Miriam English, i am sorry to hear that you have no work at the moment. I know how hard it can be to survive in the country and i agree with you that for most people $5000 is a luxury they can ill afford. Maybe people like Billy moir can afford to offer to pay a connection for some people seeing he has enough money.
    Mary Jane, please don’t get depressed, let’s fight instead and find innovative ways to beat the system until saner times arrive.

  8. MargL

    Hi Victoria, yes another great article, and yes Mary Jane it can be depressing to see the level we have sunk to in Australia in politics but somehow we have to try to fight back and show the Abbott Gov. up for what it is. I hope everyone sends these posts onto whoever they can to try to maximise the impact of them – word of mouth can be pretty powerful. I know it’s difficult with the likes of Rupert Murdoch and big business out there but hopefully some will people will use their brains occasionally and question what’s going on. Billy Moir a lot of people would not be able to to afford the $5000 for connection, they are too busy paying for electricity, food, cars, houses, children and so on. Miriam and hilderombout – well said.

  9. kevin Arnold

    Victoria, I am always pleased to read your articles. I was born into a highly politicised family where discussions such as corporate greed was a daily ritual. In the good old days of union militancy there was a publication called Common Cause. It was an organ of the Miners Federation and most issues had drawings of the big bloated corporate boss holding a bag of money in one hand and a whip or some other device to keep the miners in their places in the other. Those days miners were not paid much for the appalling conditions that they worked in. The only help they got was from their union. Sadly these days are gone and to rub it in their main office holder of recent years was mentioned in the Eddie Obied case. He has gone to join the old enemy. Reading articles like yours gives me hope that someone out there sees the danger of corporate greed, just like the miners did. Nothing has changed, only our willingness to stand up and be counted, so please keep it up and give the decent members of the labor party as much help as you can. They will need it to purge the greedy ones and their bloated corporate bosses from at least the working class side of the Australian political landscape.

  10. Tony Zeeher

    If only we countered his stance prior to the election,now we are stuck hopefully for only 3 years and then have to restore Australia’s integrity .

  11. girlseule

    Great read, but it also made me want to cry with frustration!! Four more years really?!

  12. Nicki Slade

    I am considered in the fairly well off middle class and I sure as eggs cannot afford $5000 for a good internet connection, we are in a country town that was supposed to get the NBN in fact work had already started this year but as soon as Liberal took over all work ceased so much for the promise that already started areas would get finished, so far the top end of town has their connections. the only thing left to do in our street was to actually connect houses. People in country areas certainly find it hard to get work, The only thing we will have left in 3 years may be the name Australia because there will be nothing else not even work if gina gets her way and brings in the slave labour she wanted

  13. Michael Taylor

    Thankfully it’s ‘only’ three years, girlseule. But I wouldn’t put it past him to seek a referendum to change the Constitution to four-year terms.

  14. Ken Brown

    Once again, well said Victoria. It’s good to know that so many of us are totally disgusted with the insidious actions and pursuits of Abbott and the LNP and the various State LNP Governments. We can only hope enough of those voting for the LNP scum will someday come to their senses and vote in something better.

  15. Pingback: An Open Letter to George Monbiot | New Anthropocene

  16. Kennedi78

    Very perfect article. Congratulations.

  17. Jim

    Miriam, I love your idea of the “none of the above” box on the ballot paper. I would also like to see optional preferential voting. The coalition’s idea that they have a mandate is ludicrous because an analysis of the election results shows a 4.2% swing against Labor and 4.3% against the Greens while the swing to the Coalition was only 1.6% so where did the rest go? Mandate “Smandate” with your idea people could make a protest without running the risk of installing a party that is a puppet of big business.

  18. ThePoliticalVagina

    Interesting!
    Australia’s current woes encapsulated.
    My only disagreement is the bit at the end where she says Russell Brand’s option of not voting is not an option in Australia. While it is true that it is compulsory to vote in Australia, the way I see it is thusly;
    If everyone who felt strongly about what is going on in Australia declined to vote surely that would send a message in itself? A non vote of no confidence. The only problem is if our voting system is corrupt they will simply fudge it and declare a tory win regardless, which I suspect may have already taken place.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Whether you can afford $5000 or not is not the question for me. It is taxpayer money that is being used to build the network and some taxpayers and some businesses will be hooked up for free. That’s like building a road and only charging certain people to use it while others travel for free, or building a hospital that some people may use but others have to pay exorbitantly for the same service. I also wonder about the effect on rent and house prices. Lower income earners and students who live in rental properties will either not have access or surely face rental increases to cover the landlord’s cost of connection. If I am selling my home then I also will want to recoup that investment. When it is our money being used to build the thing then the opportunity to use it should be the same for ALL Australians.

  20. Kaye Lee

    Not voting may send a message of dissatisfaction, but it also puts you at the mercy of special interest groups. Look at the power that the gun lobby and the Tea Party have in the USA. What if Fred Nile got Fundamentalist Christians mobilised, or Morrison’s racists united?

    Look at the Senate we will have after July. A guy who got a few thousand votes ousted a sitting Senator who has been widely praised, and who received over 150,000 votes. If you make a protest by not voting, or by making an ill-informed vote through apathy, you are not carrying your weight as a responsible member of our country. It is a small contribution to make that has an extremely important result.

    Just as no individual is perfect, nor is any Party. I have disagreed with policies and actions from all parties at different times. I therefore feel it becomes incumbent on me to inform myself about the policies of each Party and the credentials and stance of each of my local candidates. I have to choose one of them, or encourage and support someone I feel would do a good job to stand as an Independent.

    We are in a tug o’ war and it takes all of us to lend our weight. If we don’t all pull together we will be dragged into the mud by the richest. They are far stronger than us but we have the numbers – unless half our team decides to bail.

  21. hilderombout

    I agree wholeheartedly with you Kaye Lee about compulsery voting and for us all to pull together not to be dragged into the mud by the richest. I must say that i always find your comments most valuable. Thank you for that, i learn a lot from you.

  22. IHATEABBOT

    Well written but I believe that you have overlooked the ISDR’s in Abbott’s Free trade “Trojan Horse” as your fellow journalist Michael Taylor wrote… Another one of Abbott’s disgustingly obvious moves towards big business. Who is paying this creep, the constituents or the company’s? GET RID OF HIM… bring on the DD.

  23. hilderombout

    Kaye Lee, thanks for your comment, though i must admit that i have not been fortunate to study latin and so i did not know what you were saying. I do agree with you that we all learn from each other and i do appreciate that. I even learn from those who i find totally annoying (to say the least), but i value most those contributions that give me food for thought.

  24. Kaye Lee

    We pay Tony 500,000 but the corporations and billionaires give his Party millions. Gina Rinehart was in the public gallery at the House of Reps adoringly watching her dear friend Barnaby Joyce give his maiden speech. After all, taking him to that Indian wedding has really borne fruit very quickly. Signs of things to come I fear.

  25. Kaye Lee

    hilderombout, we all learn from each other. That is the value of sites like this and the others that we share. Sometimes we share our own thoughts, sometimes we share what we have read or heard. Fax mentis incendium gloriae. Tony is working on the principle of manus manum lavat but veritatem dies aperit.

    PS That is one of the few times I have used the Latin I spent four years studying at school – sorry if it was a tad over the top 🙂

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