By Loz Lawrey
Let’s make a list. I’ll start right here in this article.
I know I’ll miss many issues because I’m no expert on current affairs, politics, or the state of the economy.
I hope that when you’ve read this piece you’ll add your own suggestions to this list of government outrages and violations of the Fair Go in the comments section below.
I’m just an old geezer who cares about Australia and wants to see it achieve its amazing potential as an inclusive multicultural social democracy where not one citizen is left behind, where policy-making is based upon real-world research, expert opinion and above all, the public-interest test otherwise known as the Fair Go.
Not the “pub test” which usually seeks endorsement for bigotry, NO.
I mean the Fair Go test.
The Fair Go lies at the very heart of Australianness, or supposedly always was (although I’m sure our indigenous brothers and sisters would disagree, much to our national shame).
However, I do believe that the Fair Go is the underlying principle that can unite us all, whatever our ancestral origins.
It’s the key to Australia’s re-invention as a truly modern civilised society, one which provides low cost education to its people, which provides public healthcare and social services for our disadvantaged, which invests in its own future and the social and environmental legacy we bequeath our children.
An Australia which focuses on uniting, not dividing.
An Australia which embraces all humans, regardless of difference, simply because we’re all alive here together and we need to look after each other and make this planet work.
We Aussies are either the descendants of convicts, free settlers, refugees from war and dysfunctional economies, or the cruelly dispossessed yet still proud descendants of the most ancient culture on our planet. Or perhaps simply dreamers in search of a better life.
Sports-loving or hating, carniverous or vegetarian, straight, gay or transgender, black, white, brown, yellow, red or any shade of anything … we are Australian.
Catholic, Muslim, atheist, agnostic, Anglican, Seventh-Day Adventist, Church of the Fying Spaghetti Monster … whatever! We are Australian.
This is our potential – to be a world-leader in inclusive, rational policy-making. To lead the way by embracing renewable energy.
Australia, if it wished, could become the nation that shows the world the way to human betterment and fulfillment.
We actually could, as a nation, make the conscious choice to base our society on principles of inclusion and mutual respect rather than the divide-and-conquer neoliberal rat-race which disempowers most of us.
We could admit that “gross national happiness” requires more than reducing budget deficits and book-balancing.
We could value social capital as equally important as economic capital.
I hesitate to speak in this way.
Because I can already sense the hate-cannons of the right-wing nonsensicators being armed and loaded with the weasel-words of regressive conservatism, often used to great effect against any progressive voice that dares to squeak out: “bleeding heart”, “loony leftie” “greenie” etc. etc.
But hey, I was born in the 50s, a teenager in the 60s, a young man in the 70s. In that era empathy was still cool.
Then the 80s arrived, and I saw the world change. It’s all been downhill since then.
I remember the moment I became conscious of the new paradigm being foisted upon us.
I was standing in Adelaide’s Rundle Mall one sunny morning. Suddenly my mind replayed a collage of images and soundbites from my week’s TV viewing: Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and other demons of their ilk peddling the new neoliberal mantra of individualism and competition.
Whether or not Thatcher said “There’s no such thing as society” (the jury’s still out), she certainly meant it.
We were returning to the law of the jungle, to “only the strong survive”, to a new world of “winners” and “losers” in which could only a few could “win” and many would lose.
As a casual worker in a hardware store (because full-time workers, even back then, were no longer being hired) struggling to pay his way and make ends meet, I knew this “new world” would not be kind to me.
That’s the flaw with the whole neoliberal trickle-down concept. Only a very small percentage of the population, nationally or globally, can truly prosper.
The neoliberal lie relies on our gullibility, our blind belief that we too can one day become millionaires too.
Donald Trump is the very personification of that false promise – it seems many Americans still believe more in the American dream than on-the-ground reality: “If we elect a billionaire, we ‘ll become rich too!”
Wake up! Not everyone can be a millionaire! Or even a billionaire. To even put faith in such a concept is an act of greedy selfishness.
Sure, we all want success, but must it come at the expense of others? Must we impoverish others, or deny them social services and support because we want our tax dollars spent solely upon ourselves?
Sorry, I’ve been babbling, as progressives do if you give them a glass of wine and ask them: “how was your day?”… “Peppered with outrage and disgust at the xenophobic, racist, selfish, fearful, regressive and ignorant conservatism of hard-right extremists masquerading as liberals”, they might say. “ Oh, and it was sunny. Bit warm”.
But … back to the list!
Let’s start this list of government policies and decisions that outrage and disgust, that attack ther Fair Go, that erode workers’ rights and entitlements, that tear our social safety net, that abuse and torture refugees, that are anti-social and simply wrong… oops…. list them!
Please add your own to those I’ll invariably leave out:
- The Indue welfare card.
- The corrupt privatised Job Network.
- The Centrelink debt-recovery scam.
- The overt attacks on welfare recipients, and the lies and falsehoods around welfare which spring daily from the mouths of government ministers.
- The Turnbull government’s collusion with the Murdoch media in the demonising of refugees, welfare recipients and the welfare system generally, by actively providing distorted statistics and false figures on the true cost of welfare.
- The Turnbull government’s use of bodies such as the “Fair Work Commission” to attack and remove workers’ entitlements such as out-of-hours penalty rates.
- The Turnbull government’s use of the ABCC to demonise and disempower the trade unions that work so hard to represent workers.
- The Turnbull government’s blatant lies and misrepresentation around electricity supply and renewable energy.
- The Turnbull government’s climate-change denialism and support for the fossil fuel industry.
- The theft from the public purse from ther ongoing rorting of political entitlements and travel allowances by politicians.
- The Turnbull government’s regime of torture and abuse of asylum seekers in offshore detention.
- The Turnbull government’s nonsensical claims that $50 billion in tax cuts to corporations that already pay less than their due will somehow benefit our broader economy and allow some benefit to trickle down to the rest of us.
- The contempt with which the Turnbull government treats Australians, as though they were our rulers, not our servants (which they actually are).
I’ll stop here for now. As the late great Bob Ellis would have said: Discuss.
I’m sure once others contribute to this list, we’ll find there are more reasons than we knew to join other concerned Australians on the streets
Bring a placard and let Turnbull and his cronies know:
WE’RE NOT HAPPY, MAL!
Stand Up Australia March in March Rallies will be held around the nation on Saturday 25th March.
Information can be found on your nearest March Australia Facebook page or at the March australia Activist Interchange website http://maai.x10host.com
or Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/maainterchange/
or at #StandUpAustralia2017