Instead of a billboard announcing boat arrivals (which was apparently not aiding people smugglers), the Coalition have gone for a scoreboard of how many Labor politicians have shown enough humanity to be concerned about the plight of the refugees who came seeking our help – the people we have illegally incarcerated, the people whose sexual, physical, psychological and emotional abuse is apparently necessary to deter others from seeking our help.
We are told that this shows disunity in Labor ranks. We are told to fear the arrival of more refugees. We are told they will be a burden and lower our standard of living. They will take our places in hospital waiting rooms.
But when it comes to the many dissenting voices in Coalition ranks on issues like climate change and same sex marriage, we are asked to admire them for being a “broad church” where opinions are welcome and robust debate encouraged.
It is important to put these discussions into perspective and to try and inject some truth into the hyperbolic campaign rhetoric.
Tony Abbott repeatedly claimed that, under Labor, there were “50,000 illegal arrivals a year.” This is, of course, total crap.
During Labor’s six years in office, a total of approximately 48,000 asylum seekers arrived by boat. Taken on average, with a net migration figure each year of around 200,000, resettling all of these people would have represented about 4% of our migration intake – hardly an overwhelming problem for a wealthy country with plenty of space and an aging population needing more working age citizens.
On the subject of marriage equality, a Roy Morgan poll in 2014 showed that 3.4% of the population agreed with the statement ‘I consider myself a homosexual.’ 4.6% of Australian teenagers (14-19) now agree they are homosexual as do 6.5% of people in their 20s.
That is a significant proportion of the population who are being discriminated against because of a few politicians’ religious beliefs.
Whilst these issues are important, they pale into insignificance in comparison to the damage that the climate-change-denying dissenters in the government are causing.
And it is not just the dinosaur MPs that are putting us at risk. Pretty much every person they have chosen to carry out reviews and audits, or installed at the head of organisations, is either a climate change denier or a venture capitalist only interested in short term profit.
CSIRO’s chief executive Larry Marshall is a prime example. He has indicated that, since climate change has been established, further work in the area would be a reduced priority. That, to me, is criminal negligence.
Marshall told CSIRO scientists that revenue needed to be sought in all parts of the organisation. One researcher wondered then how basic research such as tracking the changes of salinity levels between Indonesia and Fremantle – one gauge used to track circulation and other ocean shifts – might be used to generate income.
Malcolm Turnbull’s inability to rein in the homophobic climate change deniers in his party is doing far greater damage to this country than the humanity expressed by some Labor MPs towards refugees.
Differing views should be encouraged but sensible discussion has become impossible with a government who is prepared to exploit people’s fears for political advantage, to impose their minority religious views on the majority, and to unashamedly lie to gain and keep power.
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