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Our Government is morally bankrupt

By 2353NM

Recently on The Political Sword, Ad astra discussed the nastiness of the conservatives that currently inhabit the halls of power in Canberra. Ad astra’s article gave a number of examples that demonstrated the point and you can read the article here rather than have me go over the fertile ground yet again.

To paraphrase a sacked host of an extremely popular BBC television program loosely based on cars when talking about their ‘tame‘ racing-driver; some say they reached a low with treatment of refugees, others might suggest that the blatant disregard of human rights was worse — all we know is that the government allowing these things to happen is morally bankrupt. How about we look at the claim of moral bankruptcy in the cold light of day. There are a host of examples that could be provided.

Example 1: Offshore detention

We’ll start with offshore detention. During August, The Guardian came into possession of over 2,000 claims of mistreatment and abuse perpetrated on refugees held at a Detention Centre on Nauru funded by the Australian government and staffed by contractors to the Australian government. A significant number of the subjects of the reports were children. The holding company currently contracted to provide management services to the offshore detention centres was recently bought out by Spanish interests and —

… has been warned by professors at Stanford Law School that its directors and employees risk prosecution under international law for supplying services to Australia’s camps on Nauru and Manus Island in Papua New Guinea.
“Based on our examination of the facts, it is possible that individual officers at Ferrovial might be exposed to criminal liability for crimes against humanity under the Rome Statute,” said Diala Shamas, a clinical supervising attorney at the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic at Stanford Law School.

They will not be extending their contract arrangements.

Dutton seems to have no problem in continuing to justify the obscenity perpetrated on refugees immorally held on Manus Island in our name. Dutton’s response to the (embarrassing to the government) release of the documents was to downplay the seriousness of the accusations, suggesting ‘Most of this has been reported on before.’

While Dutton may be correct in his assertion that ‘asylum seekers are … setting themselves on fire, deliberately self-harming, or making false allegations of sexual assault in order to come to Australia’, it is beyond comprehension to believe that every one of the 2,000 reports originally authored by Save the Children (who had a contract with the government to provide humanitarian services on Nauru) was false or exaggerated. When challenged, Dutton doubled down on the insults telling 7.30‘s Leigh Sales : ‘I think the situation is that people have paid people smugglers for a migration outcome.’

Dutton is a proxy for all Australians. We pay him to represent our standards, traditions and moral standards when the Coalition government is dealing with immigration matters. So his (as well as the actions of immigration ministers back to the days of the Keating government) actions are the actions of all of us because we elect the government. The current prime minister and most of the country were disgusted with the reports of abuse that occurred to children at the Don Dale Centre in Darwin. Yet the same government sees no problems with similar claims coming from children that this country put on Nauru on indefinite detention. At least those at Don Dale had a date they would be released.

Example 2: Changes to the Racial Discrimination Act

Senator Bernardi is canvassing support for a private members’ bill that will allow for discrimination to others based on race. While it could be argued that someone else’s opinion could be considered to be risible, their religion, gender, race or ancestry is not a determining factor in why their opinion or statement is what it is. Nevertheless, Bernardi claims every Liberal Party Senator bar one has signed a petition supporting the change.

Clearly we should not ‘offend’ or ‘insult’ anyone. Bernardi wants to legalise it, while not allowing intimidation and humiliation. That would be a fine line.

That the law was felt necessary in the first place is a sad indictment of Australian society as it demonstrates that a number of Australians believed they could insult and offend people based on their religion, race or ancestry. It is even a greater stain on our society that politicians are now actively campaigning to allow it to reoccur.

Example 3: The same sex marriage plebiscite

Since the election of the current parliament, there has been a continual debate about the necessity for a $160million plebiscite to ask Australian voters if the government should legislate to allow same gender marriage.

Let’s get something out of the way first up — there is no need for anyone outside parliament to do anything to make ‘same sex marriage’ legal in Australia. The Howard government inserted the ‘man and woman’ clause into the Marriage Act in 2004. According to Howard at the time:

(It should) not over time be subject to redefinition or change by courts, it is something that ought to be expressed through the elected representatives of the country.

So why can’t the elected representatives of the country change the law now?

According to The Monthly’s political editor Sean Kelly:

For a start, Turnbull accepted the plebiscite as a condition of becoming prime minister. We will never know if this was unavoidable or if, given the choice between losing government under Abbott and accepting a free vote under Turnbull rather than a plebiscite, the Nationals and the conservatives would have backed a strong-willed Turnbull anyway. Certainly Turnbull’s negotiating hand within the Coalition has never been stronger than it was then. But the lure of power can be hard to resist, and at the time the compromise would have seemed like a small thing to give away.

At the end of August, Fairfax’s Matthew Knott suggested that the brutal reality is there will be no free vote on marriage equity, although more recently apparently there have been discussions to make the plebiscite ‘self-executing’ (if the plebiscite is successful, it doesn’t need a vote in Parliament to become law).

The morally bankrupt issue here isn’t who sleeps with whom in the marital bedroom, it is the double standard that allows one conservative prime minister to engineer a change to an act of parliament to ensure that Courts do not have the powers to change or redefine the participants in a marriage, and when it comes time to reassess the action some 12 years later, the same process is determined to be insufficient by another Conservative government to make a change should it be deemed necessary. Instead the country will be forced to the polls in an exercise expected to cost over $160million (while we have a federal budget expenses problem) solely to shore up the credentials of the current and immediate past prime minister in the eyes of his own side of politics. To add insult to our injury here, one of the talking points with the ‘self-executing’ option would be:

… that no taxpayer money be given to either side. That would delight the “yes” camp but anger conservatives, given the Australian Christian Lobby has asked for $15 million in public funds.

Given that some of the same people that want no change to the Marriage Act want to change the Racial Discrimination Act Section 18C to allow offence and insults, opposition leader Shorten’s comment that the plebiscite will be ‘a taxpayer-funded platform for homophobia’ is probably closer to the truth than Turnbull’s claim that ‘Australia is capable of having a respectful debate on same-sex marriage’.

Example 4: Political donations

Senator Sam Dastyari resigned from the ALP ‘front bench’ last Wednesday night over the acceptance of an amount of around $1600 from a Chinese company to repay excess travel claims as well as around $5000 from another Chinese company to settle a legal case. While Dastyari was apparently compliant with federal law as both amounts were declared, he may have been in breach of ALP policy. Either way, why a Senator who receives around $200,000 in salary per annum needs assistance to pay his expenses is a matter for concern.

While the Coalition was claiming that he must go immediately, Deputy Prime Minister Joyce was far less damning regarding his own future last Tuesday night on ABC’s 7.30 current affairs program when asked why he received and kept donations from Mining Magnate Gina Reinhart. Is it splitting hairs to be able to justify some donations while decrying others?

The initial claim here is that our government is morally bankrupt. Surely the government’s treatment of refugees, changing legislation to allow offence to be legal, generating the conditions that will ensure homophobic behaviour is considered fair and reasonable as well as the splitting of hairs around political donations demonstrates the point.

Members of parliament are our employees. It is time for us to tell our politicians that we expect morals, ethics and consideration of the rights of others (regardless of their gender, religion, ancestry or sexual preference) to be more important than political point scoring, looking after mates (who probably donate to re-election campaigns) and the smell of ministerial leather in Canberra.

Jobs and growth as well as 100 positive policies are useless to Australia without the moral and ethical background that is necessary to implement these policies equitably.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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15 comments

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  1. Terry2

    Just reading about the young acknowledged refugee boy who fractured his arm in detention on Nauru in 2015 and has been shuttled from Nauru to Papua New Guinea for ineffective treatment since, to the point where he may now lose some function in the hand and arm as a direct result of Dutton refusing to allow him to come to Australia for proper treatment.

    This whole fiasco of the indefinite detention on Nauru and Manus is going to end very badly for Australian taxpayers when finally these people get their day in an Australian court and are found to have been illegally imprisoned by Australian authorities despite having committed no crime recognised in Australian or international law.

    The damages awarded to them are likely to be significant and it will probably fall to a future Labor government to resolve this problem : perhaps that’s what the LNP are hoping for.

  2. nexusxyz

    The thing you have to bear in mind is when you break the LNP government down into is parts and examine the scum-bags individually you realise that Australians elected each of these morons. Says a lot about the people that elected them and the real state of Australia as a nation.

  3. paulwalter

    Ah, my…Terry2, head-desk.

  4. Kronomex

    On a side note; the gutter tactic that The Coalition, the Shooters and Fishers and Christian Democrat Fred Nile pulled on giving businesses two votes in their attempt to rid themselves of Clover Moore massively backfired. Or, as a friend of mine said, “There is a god.” when I sent her a text message not long ago. It couldn’t happen to a nastier…sorry, nicer…bunch of creeps.

  5. Kyran

    There is an old adage that suggests there will only be enough law to hold the loopholes together.
    The suggestion that Australia pays the bills for third world countries (and their corporate minions) to warehouse asylum seekers/refugees, yet has no say in how they are warehoused, is both preposterous and absurd, to any rational mind. However, a lawyers mind will seek the loopholes to validate the moral bankruptcy of their client. That dutton is an obscenity, IMO, is an inescapable fact.
    With regard to the changes to the Racial Discrimination Act proposed by corgi, I find him offensive to my nature and insulting to my intelligence. Thank goodness, he’s off to the UN, as our ambassador. Preposterous and absurd.
    With regard to marriage equality, there are all these religious leaders (mostly politicians, in a secular democracy), screaming that their right to dictate who marries who is more important than who marries who. Preposterous and absurd.
    With regard to political donations, we now require our politicians (most of whom are lawyers), decide how to redefine the loopholes. There will never be a federal ICAC. There will never be any oversight. In any rational mind, there is a really easy oversight. Live reporting of donations to all party’s. In the politicians mind, that proposition is preposterous and absurd.
    Another old story was about ‘the oldest profession’. Folklore has it that an engineer, a prostitute and a lawyer were in discussion about the oldest profession. The prostitute argued that, when order arrived to society, her profession was established. Therefore, hers was the oldest profession. The engineer argued that his profession brought order to society, from the chaotic precedence. Therefore, his was the oldest profession. The lawyer said “Who do you think created the chaos?”
    Thankyou, 2353NM. Einstein apparently defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results.
    Take care

  6. John

    Moral idiocy is a concept in psychology that has been around for over a century. However, in our increasingly relativistic societies, it has fallen into disuse. Briefly, it means the “Inability to understand moral principles and values and to act in accordance with them, apparently without impairment of the reasoning and intellectual faculties.” The key word here is “understand.” It is not that moral idiots do not know, intellectually, that something called morality exists, but rather they can not understand its applicability to their lives, particularly their professional lives. At best they think it is a personal thing that operates between friends or relatives and goes no further – a reduction of values to the narrowest of social spaces. This is paralleled by the absence of such values as guiding principles for one’s actions in the wider world.

    Lifted from “Moral Idiocy in the Halls of Power”, Lawrence Davidson, http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article45413.htm

  7. paulwalter

    Post of the week goes to Kyran.

  8. Wayne Turner

    nexusxyz – Spot on.Morally bankrupted government voted by morally bankrupted and ignorant morons.Plus of course let’s NOT forget the morally bankrupted Main Stream Media,that are the cheer squad for it all.

    Plus great post John,so true.

  9. Florence nee Fedup

    We have Baird’s decison to build new NSW trains in another country instead of in Newcastle as they so now. Say will save 25%.

  10. helvityni

    I studied the accompanying photo; I counted twenty heads, I tried to find some sympathetic faces/ people amongst them….

    I might have been overly generous, as I found TWO I tolerate…PM not amongst those two.

  11. Geoff Andrews

    Paul,
    As C.J. Dennis could have (and did) put it 100 years ago:

    “But they all continued with greed & glee
    To buy cheap clothing and pills and tea
    Til everone in the land of Oz
    Had three clean shirts & a fourth in the wash
    But they all grew idle & fond of ease
    And easy to swindle & hard to please”

  12. helvityni

    LOL, GA and CJ Dennis, and China still keeps us in cheap shirts, and we grow larger by the day as we discovered sugary American drinks and forgot to walk…

  13. helvityni

    …sadly our hearts have shrunk and we find it easy to mistreat refugees, our own have-nots, the poor, the sick and elderly. Catholic countries allow SSM, but our government is not in favour of it…we tell them who can come here and whom we allow to get wedded…

  14. Kiah

    Treatment of Australia’s First People doesn’t warrant a mention.

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