Last year, Peter Dutton was making a lot of noise about “Australian values” as part of a push by him to make it harder for migrants to gain citizenship.
Despite his proposed bill not having seen the light of day, the Home Affairs website advises that, in order for people to apply for permanent residency, they must sign an Australian Values Statement:
“Australian society values respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, freedom of religion, commitment to the rule of law, Parliamentary democracy, equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good.”
Fine words no doubt, but more impressive in their aspiration than their application.
How can we say we respect freedom and dignity of the individual when we keep thousands of people in immigration detention indefinitely? Or when we impose the cashless welfare card on people based on their postcode rather than their individual circumstances? Or when we see Aboriginal youths locked up and abused in juvenile detention? Or mothers taken from their children and incarcerated for not paying a fine?
How can we say we value religious freedom when a noisy minority, including politicians, call for a ban on Muslim immigration, the building of mosques, the wearing of the burqa or even the hijab, halal certification, and the private practice of Sharia law? The same people who want to demonise Islam regard any criticism of their religious beliefs as victimisation and persecution.
Conservative Christians in this country don’t want the freedom to practice their religion – they already have that. They want to be exempt from the laws of the land regarding discrimination and to impose their beliefs on everyone by opposing legislation on issues like same-sex marriage, stem cell research, abortion and assisted dying. They have insisted that secular schools employ religious chaplains yet demand the right to employ only those who adhere to their beliefs in their own schools.
Government secrecy and their increasingly heavy-handed approach to whistleblowers and media reporting shows the government has little regard for the rule of law. Their inaction and suppression of information about illegalities – the Australian Wheat Board/Sadam Hussein scandal, the RBA Securency/One Note bribery case, the bugging of the East Timor parliamentary offices, the payment to people smugglers to return asylum seekers to Indonesia, possible war crimes committed in Afghanistan, bugging of the phones of foreign politicians, the abuse of asylum seekers held in indefinite detention – all raise important questions about the application of the law when it comes to our government. As does the constant rorting of expenses, opaque process for giving out contracts and grants, and post political employment of Ministers.
I am not sure what Parliamentary democracy even means when the government views all MPs who aren’t them as losers and the PM tells us it will be him alone that will determine policy. It is ridiculous for the government to tell Labor and Greens MPs that they must agree with all Coalition legislation because they won the election. Everybody sitting in those chambers won and have a duty to represent their constituents. If we really had parliamentary democracy, the government would be willing to amend legislation to improve it. All votes would be free rather than party dictated.
If men and women are considered equal in Australia, why is there still a pay gap? Why was Julia Gillard treated so appallingly? Why are female politicians bullied by their colleagues? Why is feminist a dirty word, eschewed by conservative women as well as men? Why is their a domestic violence epidemic that sees a woman killed by a current or former partner every week? Why are there no female priests or imams or rabbis?
Any idea that our government ‘embraces mutual respect, tolerance and fair play’ is laughable when you look at how they conduct themselves during Question Time and in interviews, constantly denigrating and misrepresenting Opposition parliamentarians and launching very personal attacks. The lies told during the recent election campaign show no respect for the electorate and absolutely no intention of fair play.
If it is intrinsically Australian to show compassion for those in need, why is the government ignoring the universal cry to increase Newstart payments? Why are asylum seekers locked up? Why are 116,000 people homeless? Why are people being bombarded with historical Robodebt overpayment claims? Why can’t pensioners afford to pay their power bills (which could be immediately cut by 9% if they chose to classify electricity as an essential item and exempt it from GST or they could subsidise it through an energy supplement to welfare recipients)? Why are we classified as ‘lifters and leaners’?
Any government who claims to pursue the “public good” whilst ignoring climate change cannot be taken seriously. Their idea of public good has degenerated into a mad scramble for individual wealth.
In so many areas, this government is failing to respect and uphold the Australian values they make migrants sign up to.
They fail the test for permanent residency. After their temporary visa expires in three years, they should be deported forthwith.
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