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If the government really cared about our kids, they would listen to them

The government talks a lot about our children when they don’t want to pay for something, but do they really actually give a toss about them?

The World Economic Forum surveys people every year about the biggest problems facing the world and, for the third year in a row, climate change is the millennial generation’s top concern.

The top ten challenges identified by the 18-35 year old age bracket were as follows:

  1. Climate change / destruction of nature (48.8%)
  2. Large scale conflict / wars (38.9%)
  3. Inequality (income, discrimination) (30.8%)
  4. Poverty (29.2%)
  5. Religious conflicts (23.9%)
  6. Government accountability and transparency / corruption (22.7%)
  7. Food and water security (18.2%)
  8. Lack of education (15.9%)
  9. Safety / security / well being (14.1%)
  10. Lack of economic opportunity and unemployment (12.1%)

So how is our government faring in addressing the things that are of most concern to the young people of the world?

Since the Federal government repealed carbon pricing in 2014, emissions have been increasing. There has been a surge in land-clearing in Queensland since the Newman government relaxed restrictions. Unscrupulous irrigators have changed the flow of the Murray-Darling. Coal-mining is actively promoted and old coal-fired power stations asked to stay on in service past their use-by date. Renewable energy targets have been lowered (but not yet abolished as the government wanted) and renewable subsidies have been opposed or removed whilst fossil fuel subsidies have been protected. Several members of parliament are actively agitating for a withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.

In fact, climate change, which is already impacting our food and water security, has all but disappeared from the government’s reasoning .

The government has also decided that war and conflict present a great business opportunity, investing billions in an attempt to make us one of the world’s leading arms manufacturers. And in the meantime, they have a lazy $400 billion themselves to spend on weapons of war over the next twenty years to keep those conflicts, or should I say industries, going.

Far from policies designed to address poverty and inequality, this government’s whole raison d’etre is to protect and increase the wealth of the few.

Instead of increasing payments to the most disadvantaged, they crack down on welfare and impose punitive measures for non-compliance. It’s only businesses that need ‘red tape’ reduced. Try applying for a disability pension, or keeping up with all the requirements to receive Newstart, or fighting a Robodebt bill.

They oppose any increase to the minimum wage, they wound back penalty rates, and they want us to work until we are 70. And they have declared war on the only group strong enough to give a collective voice and some bargaining power to workers – our trade unions.

Instead of our secular government allowing religion to be a private matter, they have invested a great deal into promoting Christianity whilst insidiously and deliberately sowing mistrust against Muslims.

We allow churches to make, and break, laws. We pay for school chaplains in public schools. We pay for children to attend religious schools. We manipulate the curriculum to emphasise our Judeo-Christian heritage (whatever that means). We chant a prayer to open Parliament. We put our hands on a bible to swear we are telling the truth.

But watch out for those Muslims who are just waiting to cut your head off and rape your daughters. We’ll even go to their countries to stop them with our bright new shiny bombs.

As for government accountability and transparency, I have never seen an Australian government so determined to hide the truth.

They fight freedom of information requests, they won’t speak about operational or “onwater” matters, contracts are secret “commercial-in-confidence” deals. Commissioned reports are “to government not by government” and are not released. Advice from government departments is buried if it doesn’t fit the current rhetoric. Modelling? Cost-benefit analysis? Opportunity cost comparisons? Who needs that crap when you’ve got a whiteboard to hide behind.

On education, we could talk for hours. It has become an industry where we fund boutique colleges but not TAFE, where we fund elite private schools, where the Catholics cry poor despite being one of the richest organisations in the world, where early childhood teachers are paid less than babysitters, where our graduates start their lives with a huge debt, where university places are bought by wealthy international students as a backdoor to citizenship, where the curriculum is determined by two old white guys who seem to think phonics is all we need to teach, and where we employ truancy officers instead of teacher’s aides.

At the moment, Australia is a comparatively safe and secure place but how long will that last with the gun lobby buying political support. Just this morning it was reported that, after meeting Bob Katter’s gun-importing son-in-law, Peter Dutton is considering establishing a committee to allow gun importers to review proposed changes to firearm regulations for “appropriateness and intent”.

It would also be good to know what Donald Trump asked for in return for not hitting us with tariffs on steel and aluminium. We have given China a 99 year lease on Darwin Port and hosted a US marine base there as well. And just what are the CIA, NSA and NRO doing at Pine Gap? I thought it was supposed to be a “space research” station? Why are we buying 12 long range subs? Why are we investing so much in missile defence capability? Do we plan on making ourselves a target by meddling in other countries’ affairs?

At number ten, we finally get to Malcolm’s mantra of opportunity and jobs.

Instead of trying to flog a dying coal industry and using our skills, resources and finances to add to the global pool of weapons, see to the things that really matter to our children and the rest will follow.

Give them a real NBN. Lift them out of poverty. Make education accessible and relevant. Instead of giving out fossil fuel subsidies and tax concessions for the wealthy, instead of importing labour, give out scholarships and incentives for training to fill skills shortages. Instead of sacking scientists and cutting university funding, facilitate research. Become a world leader in sustainability and adaptation. Build affordable housing and public transport. Invest in early intervention and support for mental health. Assist developing nations to evolve.

If you really cared about our kids, you would listen to them.

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  1. David Bruce

    I think you have summed up nicely why Australia could be the next target for the USA and China to fight over.

  2. George Swalwell

    Kaye Lee on top form attacking the fumbling, backward-looking
    government under the timid PM for its many-fold failures and
    wrong-headed policies.

    Bravo, Kaye!

  3. townsvilleblog

    This tory govt only cares about t5heir rich mates who vote for them because they leave all the benefits the rich receive in place. If only the Labor Party would take the same attitude when it gains go9vernment and look after ‘only’ the people who vote for it! The working people of this nation have suffered under ‘noddy’ and now under Abbott/Turnbull so when Labor do get in we expect all the benefits to the wealthy to be stripped away from them and divided among those who really need the help from the government.

  4. James Cook

    Kaye, your articles should be compulsory reading for all politicians…No, I take that back..Not Morrison…I couldn’t stand listening to him fulminate about your dangerous ideas and how they will disadvantage the mum-and-dad investors.

  5. David Evans

    This disgraceful period of Australias “government” is now running a close second to the shameful times of the murderous establishment of Colonial rule over this country….. There Has Never Been A More Shameful Time To Be An Australian. Thank you for another excellent post.

  6. Kyran

    “If you really cared about our kids, you would listen to them.”
    That’s not in the DNA of this government. Listening, that is. Don’t even mention caring.
    This is a bit off topic, but goes to show exactly why there is no case to ever suggest this government gives a tinker’s damn for our youth, let alone the rest of us.
    Remember the Don Dale RC? The obscenity of youth detention, on steroids, had been going on for years but was only acknowledged when the ABC did a show on it. So Captain Bligh announced a RC. The first try didn’t work so well.

    “The man who will lead the Royal Commission into the abuse of children in juvenile detention in the Northern Territory needs no introduction. At least not to Aboriginal people. Chris Graham explains.
    Brian Martin, the former NT Supreme Court Chief Justice, achieved infamy among Aboriginal communities in April 2010 when he described five white youths who bashed an Aboriginal man to death in a racially charged drunken rampage as “of otherwise good character”.
    The youths – Scott Doody, Timothy Hird, Anton Kloeden, Joshua Spears and Glen Swain – spent the night getting drunk at the local casino, before driving up and down the dry bed of the Todd River, where homeless Aboriginal people sleep.”

    NT Juvenile Detention Abuse Royal Commissioner Needs No Introduction To Black Territorians

    Minor hiccup. Get a new commissioner and let ‘em rip. The final report was handed down last November. In the interim, the government had signed up to OPCAT, but hasn’t decided about any processes. With all of that indignation, you would think Captain Tremble would be all over the release of the report.
    Yeah, Nah, not so much. On the first draft release;

    “Some of the major recommendations which have only been listed as having in-principle support included:
    • Increasing the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12
    • That youths under 14 cannot be detained except in exceptional circumstances
    • Overhauling the foster care system
    • Overhauling the Care and Protection of Children Act NT
    • Overhauling the case management system
    • Creating, staffing, and resourcing a Commission for Children and Young People
    • Having sufficient female youth detention officers to oversee female detainees
    • Introducing body-worn video cameras.”

    From that initial report, you could already see where this was going to end up. From the same article;

    “Announcement follows alleged rape of Tennant Creek toddler
    The announcement comes a week after a two-year-old girl was allegedly raped in Tennant Creek.”

    From what I’ve read since, the fixation is on those grubby little perverts in remote communities necessitating the whole system of care for our First People’s children should be wrested from them. As if they controlled it in the first place.

    If you read the link, there are certain inescapable facts. The most obscene, the most disgusting, is;

    “Increasing the age of criminal responsibility from 10 to 12”
    Most states have the age set at 12-14. Let’s pretend, for the sake of the argument, the age is 14, nationally. A child, at the age of 14 is ‘criminally responsible’ for their actions. There was a follow up article, and I did some other checking. What sort of crime does a 14 year old commit that is worthy of detention? Murder? Rape? Unlawful detention (ie kidnap)?

    “Palmerston teenager Kenny Rogan, now 16, has been out of trouble and youth detention for two years; he was first sent to Darwin’s Don Dale youth detention centre at age 10, for setting fire to a motorbike.”

    Out of all of that, you might think I’m annoyed. Fair call. I may have become even more incensed when Captain Tremble went all teary over one teenage suicide, whilst ignoring, or forgetting, the thousands occurring nationally across all spectrums. My intention is not to demean that one suicide, but to point out it was one of way too many.
    Nah. The thing that really pisses me off, really, really pisses me off.

    A 14 year old is criminally responsible for their actions.
    Our politicians, creating far greater havoc than making an incendiary out of a motor bike, aren’t responsible. Not morally. Not ethically. Not financially.
    And, sure as daybreak, not criminally.
    And yet we wonder about our kids. How could they have made things so bad for themselves?
    With apologies, Ms Lee, this really pisses me off. Take care

  7. diannaart

    Good to see our youngsters have their priorities in order.

    Environment – we screw that up beyond repair and that’s all folks. No, not necessarily the apocalypse, but none of the remaining priorities will ever be achieved to benefit the majority of people.

    Beginning to believe our leaders want climate change, less of us, easier to control…

  8. Glenn K

    Kaye, you have summed up precisely why i moved my family, with young school age children, to France in 2017. I love Australia and lived there for over 30 years, but our children will get a better, more balanced, secular, and free (through to university graduation) education here. I despise the trampling of the poor, and could no longer stomach so many of my white collar workmates not giving a shit and thinking they were special because of a six figure salary. Too many LNP supporters (we lived in Bronwyn Bishop’s electorate) in our daily lives, so we had to get out. France is far from perfect, but the people here engage in politics and believe in social rights such as education.
    I would love to return to Australia once our kids are educated, but only if the “fair go” that existed when i landed in Sydney in the mid ‘80s returns. Bill Shorten may be at the beginning of that process of return. I hope so

  9. Zathras

    I well remember the “Peace-Love” Woodstock generation and all the promise and hope they showed about making the world a better and fairer place – and they are the ones running the world now!

    All they’ve done is swap one boogey-man for another, found new ways of personally enriching themselves at any cost and to hell with the consequences. They’ve not only squandered the opportunities left by the previous generation but also stolen the legacy of the next one and left them with little else but perpetual debt.

    Now I hope that the next generation will learn from those mistakes and succeed where we so obviously failed.
    Our own fate depends on them doing the right thing.

  10. Aortic

    Just watched the evolution of the Black Panthers on NITV and it seemed to me it was like all altruistic organisations who are formed with the best of intentions. They eventually become embroiled in internecine squabbling until the altruistic message is lost. Sound familiar?

  11. Wun Farlung

    Getting young people to realise that fixing No 6 by enrolling to vote and then making a well considered choice would make everything else fall into place is the big issue

  12. wam

    A great read, Kaye.
    They care about some kids. They support some kids. Some kids support them. The Xavier college kids who, a couple of years ago, posted attacks on public school kids made the case for me in that the jesuits have 4 schools in Australia yet the rabbott, hockey pyne, joyce, bullock and shorten are old scholars and all but one have no concept of ad majorem dei gloriiam beyond everything I do will be for the glory of god in the long run and that makes any lie true..
    Is this the survey?
    Number of respondents per country
    with the highest participation:
    1 Germany: 3,641
    2 Mexico: 1,661
    3 USA: 1,651
    4 El Salvador: 1,425
    5 India: 912
    6 Benin: 866
    7 Palestinian Territories: 796
    8 China: 739
    9 Canada: 721
    10 Malaysia: 627
    11 Ukraine: 469
    12 Spain: 464
    13 Brazil: 448
    14 Switzerland: 447
    15 Chile: 420
    16 Philippines: 393
    17 Costa Rica: 374
    18 Jordan: 357
    19 Guatemala: 346
    20 Panama: 335
    21 Nicaragua: 309
    and many others…
    Not all that relevant to Australia???

  13. Kaye Lee

    “Not all that relevant to Australia???”

    The results were from the latest World Economic Forum Global Shapers Survey (covering more than 30,000 individuals under 30 from 186 countries).

    Our children are part of a global community and I would suggest the survey identified very well the challenges facing the world. This was not about any one country.

    “For Australia and New Zealand (238 respondents), climate change is more than a global issue; it is something that affects young people in their everyday life and that is already affecting their future and immediate environment.”

  14. Michael Taylor

    wam, if you read Kaye’s post you’ll see that she said “biggest problems facing the world.”

    johno, I was following a discussion on Twitter that an American bloke had kicked off. It was about climate change, and there were hundreds of comments. It was disappointing to see the attitudes of these particular Americans, and I really hope that they don’t represent the opinions of all Americans. If I could sum up the discussion in one sentence it would be this;

    “It’s snowing here, therefore climate change is crap.”

    Yeah, right. I had breakfast this morning therefore there’s no such thing as famine.

  15. johno

    Michael.. The world mean carbon (per capita) output is about 4 metric ton. America is about 20 tons. No one in America can go below 8 ton even if you are self sufficient/ off grid or living under a bridge. It would be similar here in Oz.

  16. johno

    Oh yeah, people could donate to FLAC, Frontline Action On Coal to help with legal costs.


  17. Arthur Tarry

    Kaye Lee is always a must read for me as she accurately identifies and describe issues that make our current government so appalling and uncaring. Yet it is still in the running to win the next election – how can that be possible?

  18. Stephen Brailey

    A lovely well constructed thought piece/rant that clearly shows the hypocracy of the money hungry pole climbers that make up the LNP and to many of the ALP.

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