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Children can’t vote

Image by helpinghands.org

Image by helpinghands.org

Children can’t vote so they have no say in how their country is governed. They must rely on we adults to protect their interests and to be their advocates.

So where do children rate in the Coalition’s priorities?

After assuring us that there was absolutely no difference between Labor and Liberal on education, the government has signed up the remaining states and territory to the Gonski reforms without the required state co-funding or performance obligations. They have reneged on the bulk of the spending which was to happen in years 5 and 6. MYEFO also contained more than $1.5 billion in education cuts, including ending the trades training centre program and slashing before and after school care assistance by $450 million.

They are throwing out the recently adopted national curriculum, the product of 26,000 submissions from concerned parties, and several years’ work by experts in the field, in favour of a rewrite that inflates the importance of capitalism in our national identity and the contribution of Conservative parties to our development, with emphasis on our Judeo-Christian heritage.

They have cut the Schoolkids Bonus which provided lower income families with a small payment when it was needed most to help pay for uniforms, books and school fees.

1240 children of defence personnel killed or badly injured in service will have their income support bonus of $211 a year cut. Among them are children aged under 16 who are homeless or are living away from home. The payments cost $260,000 a year but Senator Ronaldson said the money for the payments was not there. After all, that’s another orange liferaft we’re talking!

Cory Bernardi, Eric Abetz, and Kevin Andrews have all made it clear to children who are not living with their married biological parents that their lives are not what they could have been if only their parents had stayed together, and that this is why they will probably end up promiscuous or in gaol.

Childcare workers were asked to refund a pay rise, and regulations requiring improved qualifications were scrapped. These people who have the responsibility of nurturing our children at a crucial stage in their development are to be ignored.

Aboriginal Early Childhood Support and Learning Inc (AECSL), a NSW organisation which has been funded by the federal government for over two decades, received an email one week before Christmas explaining that all of their funding will be withdrawn.

The PCYC had $7 million of promised funds cut from youth mentoring programs in disadvantaged areas, including the ”Making Men” and ”Girl’s Choice” projects to steer young people away from a life of crime.

The Women in Prison Advocacy Network, which was promised $297,000 to start a youth mentoring program in inner-city Sydney and the La Perouse and Maroubra areas, has also had its funding cut.

The National Aboriginal Sporting Chance Academy had secured a total of $600,000 for programs for indigenous youth in Sydney and Dubbo but was warned the money was under review.

Wangaratta and Wodonga’s Junction Support Services, which applied for $305,559 for its youth re-engagement program, has been told by local state MP Bill Tilley that it may not get the money.

These four programs were funded from the proceeds of crime through the National Crime Prevention Agency, not government general revenue, so it appears that, rather than it being the criminals, or our children, it will be the budget bottom line which now benefits.

This year, almost 14,000 Aboriginal children were in “out-of-home-care”, more than were removed at any time during the Stolen Generations, yet the administrators of the Indigenous Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (IFVPLS) will lose $3.6 million in funding over the next three years, despite them being the “go-to” office for Indigenous women in regional towns for a myriad of problems, not just family violence, due to their compassionate, culturally sensitive practice. This required about 0.1% of the money that Tony Abbott is prepared to spend on unmanned drones.

The Australian Council of Social Service released a report in November last year stating that 575,000 children or 17.3% were living below the poverty line. Rather than heeding the growing warnings about the dangers of increasing income inequity by increasing Newstart and rolling out the NDIS, we are removing penalty rates, and perhaps abolishing the minimum wage and charging a $6 co-payment to see the doctor. At the same time we are offering amnesties to offshore tax cheats, cuts in company tax for big business, many billions in subsidies to banks, mining companies and private health insurers, and a whole special tax zone so our very richest citizens can pay no tax at all. Nice call Gina.

In the area of health, Westmead Children’s Hospital will lose $100 million in funding for the first stage of a comprehensive redevelopment, while the Children’s Medical Research Institute will lose $10 million and the Millennium Institute will lose $12 million.

There are over 1000 children held in immigration detention facilities. As the tragic events on Manus Island unfolded, there was barely a murmur about what was occurring in the second offshore imprisonment site of Nauru, with 10 unaccompanied children forcibly sent there from Christmas Island; more have now followed.

In a few years’ time our children will be faced with a huge bill to replace an inadequate national broadband network that the government wasted tens of billions of dollars building.

They will be faced with the challenge of providing public transport in our cities because all the money was wasted on building roads when our cities have no space for the cars and the pollution becomes intolerable.

And that is the greatest crime that this government is committing. Our children will be able to rectify bad policies and decisions. Society will eventually realise that an equitable distribution of resources is essential in generally lifting the standard of living. But only if they still have a viable planet to live on.

This government’s headlong dash into the rape and pillage of our environment with no thought to the cost is unconscionable. They claim to accept the science, all of which points to catastrophic climate change unless we take urgent action. They then cap funding to achieve this at $3.2 billion over the next four years during which time they will hand out about $9.4 billion in fossil fuel subsidies

They are prepared to spend $3.2 billion to save the planet, but for the same period they have allocated $22 billion for paid parental leave, welfare for the rich which we can only guess at the actual future cost for something that will become an entrenched entitlement.

They remove carbon pricing and approve huge new coal mines. Environmental safeguards have been abolished and the message is let’s get fracking.

They cap the funding for Direct Action but Operation Sovereign Borders has unlimited funding – “whatever it takes”.

Our children and their future are unimportant to a party who is driven by short term corporate greed. But don’t dismiss them lightly Mr Abbott. Social media has bridged the generation gap and is correcting the misinformation and building solidarity. I saw many children at the March in March. They grow up. In three or four years’ time those kids from Newtown High will be voting. In the mean time, we oldies will keep spreading the truth and holding this government to account.

I look forward to the growing voice of the youth of this country.

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15 comments

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  1. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye thank you again. This says it all in one succinct document. Very impressive I must say. This document should be the progressive mantra for an attack on the government. I hope you don’t mind but I will copy this and distribute it whenever and wherever I can with the appropriate reference.

  2. Kaye Lee

    Stephen, my aim is to learn and to pass on information. Anyone who can help is welcome.

  3. brickbob

    Thanks Cath for a well written letter. The press in this country have a herd mentality and as soon as one of them strays too far from the herd they are gently or not so gently chastised and told to get back in line or find another job,the majority of them are scared witless by Abbott and Murdoch and until we get rid of one or both of them nothing will change.

  4. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye at the march in Brisbane most hand outs were promotional stuff for specific organizations. I was wondering if an organization like Getup or some others could roll this letter into a pamphlet of informative issues to be distributed at the marches. At least that would provide a foundational document that we could all embrace regardless of individual concerns. Then we would be able to ward of the argument of incoherence and a lack of objective clarity. I can see the same attacks used against the Occupy Movement diverting attention form a foundational basis for action. Just a thought.

  5. trishcorry

    Reblogged this on polyfeministix and commented:

    So where do children rate in the Coalition’s priorities?

  6. cartoonmick

    Just like the adults, our children don’t stand a chance under this regime.

    It’s all about favouring the top end of town and those in the top rich list.

    I just don’t like the way it is shaping up.

    I feel this cartoon embraces the situation . . . .

    Editorial / Political

    Cheers
    Mick

  7. Matters Not

    Stephen Tardrew said:

    at the march in Brisbane most hand outs were promotional stuff for specific organizations

    Yep! No doubt.

    was wondering if an organization like Getup or some others could roll this letter into a pamphlet of informative issues to be distributed at the marches

    Undoubtedly they could. And such ‘material’ may or may not be both ‘effective’ and ‘affective’. I wouldn’t ‘know’, in any absolute terms at least.

    But what I suggest that the ALP (and its ‘leadership’) have some very basic decisions (moral and strategic) to decide.

    Does the ALP (just) exist to win elections? (And apparently be just like the LNP)? No that’s too simple and too simplistic.

    If the ALP and its leadership have higher goals and ambitions, then what are they? Put simply, what are they on about?

    Abbott, for all his faults, beat the ALP hands down, based on ‘slogans’ not on well written articles.

    The ‘well written articles’ desirable’ and necessary as they may well be are not sufficient. And indeed they mightn’t be even necessary

    In short, more ‘strategy’ and less short-term ‘tactics’ may be the way to go?

    So many ‘basic’ questions.

  8. john921fraser

    <

    Best to keep on educating children.

    And the best way to do that is by talking to them and asking what concerns they have.

    The more information they are given about a subject that concerns them the more likely they are to follow up and engage.

    These schoolchildren were outstanding and they showed everyone that Australia has a bright future :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBZwu5bAEdo

    But first Australia has to get rid of the moron the questions were aimed at.

  9. diannaart

    Dear neo-lib-cons – why all this hatred?

    All these cuts to the least powerful, most vulnerable in our community – and just how much do these acts of meanness gain and for whom?

    Enough to fund another road or subsidise another mine, protect our borders from whom? Oh, right; poor and vulnerable people.

  10. Stephen Tardrew

    Matters not:

    I tend to agree however the people you capture with one strategy you will not with another. I am a strong advocate of using short-term visceral emotional appeals as well as well reasoned arguments.

    It is important to trigger peoples base emotional drives because often rational arguments do no suffice.

    Nevertheless a dot point list of important issues distributed as a pamphlet can inform those who tend to be one issue people about the broad scope of problems with the LNP.

    I know that when I read such a list I am shocked at the depth of change being foisted upon us. There are bound to be many others with similar reactions.

    I am also affected by strong appeals to justice and equity based in short soundbite stories of suffering and hardship. I don’t think it necessarily requires Labors approval or input though that would be useful.

    Shorten has to go and Labor needs to sharpen its act. I think Dan got it right when he noted that it is going to take some time before the negative effects of LNP policy have a substantial effect and until then we need to keep on plugging along using any type of media strategies available.

    We certainly have a substantial problem with the type of compromise of values that has drawn Labor further and further to the right. You would think the election would have jolted some sense into them but sadly not.

    When both the LNP and Labor willingly compromised international moral and ethical standards progressives are left in a morass of confusion and incredulity that Labor could so willingly abandon justice. Sadly we are all left with a bad taste in our mouths and a much greater problem with the greed and selfishness of the LNP.

    Sadly we seem to live in disinterested times.

  11. silkworm

    This is sado-conservatism.

  12. Susan J Barclay

    Wow, what a fantastic, well-written, well-researched, thorough and passionate article! I heartily recommend reading this. And congratulations to writer Kaye Lee and the Australian Independent Media Network for its publication.

    I posted this comment on Facebook.

  13. Kaye Lee

    Thanks Susan. Actually I just corrected a typo in the article. Originally I had typed that the funding cut from the Indigenous Family Violence Prevention and Legal Service (a group I read and hear very good things about) was one tenth of what Abbott is prepared to spend on unmanned drones, it should have read one tenth of one per cent. I have since corrected it. He cut $3.6 million from a group who is doing amazing work, a group who have the trust and respect of their clients, but will spend $3 BILLION on unmanned drones. it’s madness

  14. girlseule

    The short-sightedness astounds me. Cutting all those social programmes? For every dollar spent on a lot of those youth programmes they’d end up saving in reduced crime and health costs so it doesn’t even make economic sense, but it’s the environmental destruction they are so hell bent on that scares the shit out of me.

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