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An Open Letter to Malcolm Turnbull about Misuse of the Word ‘Free’

Bird in a cage

Dear Malcolm Turnbull

On the day you took the job of Prime Minister of Australia, you laid your flag in the ideological-dirt by proclaiming your intention to run a ‘thoroughly Liberal Government committed to freedom, the individual and the market’. I’ll cut to the chase. This letter calls bullshit on your misrepresentation of the word ‘freedom’. I think it’s time we all saw through this smug cover for what you are really running: a market that benefits the privileged over everyone else.

Let’s have a look at what the word freedom actually means. Here are two useful definitions: ‘The state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint’. ‘Exemption from external control, interference, regulation’. Comparing these descriptions to the rules that you prefer to run the Australian economy by, it’s obvious that your idea of a ‘free market’ makes us all, collectively, not-free.

The muddying of the water starts with your notion that government regulation constrains freedom. The only thing government regulation does, which is why, coincidentally, you don’t like it, is to constrain the greed of you and your rich mates so you can’t monopolise resources in order to keep getting richer. The fact is, your ‘rich get richer’ rules are constraining our economy and in turn, our collective wealth. Government policies which level the playing field are actually making us all freer, and richer. All of us.

Let’s look at your job as an example. If there existed a free market for the job of Prime Minister, the only thing I would need to get this job is to be the most merited candidate. Tony Abbott disproves the freedom of the Prime Minister market by showing that any moron, born with a silver spoon, with a private school education, who lives in a blue-ribbon Liberal seat full of voters who would vote for the Liberal candidate even if that candidate was a misogynist bucket of cement, who can box his way to Oxford, is eligible for the top job. No merit required.

You also disprove the idea of meritocracy in the market for Prime Minister yourself, through your waffling-weak-incompetence, which so far in a year has made you a bigger disappointment than the Australian swimming team at Rio. In your world, freedom might mean the availability of means in which to donate $2 million dollars to your own campaign, without even noticing it gone, to ensure you win government by a one seat majority. But that’s not merit Malcolm. That’s buying your way out of trouble.

What this really comes down to is that you say freedom fries and I say potato. Where you see freedom in mining markets, I see big miners paying their way out of a fair rate of tax for selling resources that belong to Australians. Where you see freedom in healthcare, where the rich have access to better lifesaving services, I see those who can’t afford the services locked into health problems that limit their freedom to do what they want with their lives. Where you see freedom when your government stops taking responsibility for a social safety net, and hollowing out services for the disadvantaged, I see a small square box that locks poor people into prison-like poverty, where they don’t have any freedom to live their lives in dignity. Where you see freedom in education, where the rich can buy their way to test scores that privilege their futures over those who weren’t born into wealth, I see the poor chained at the bottom rung of the ladder, which they have no hope of climbing because your rules have removed the rungs. This is not freedom Malcolm. This is entrenched privilege. This is stacking the deck in favour of the people who already own the deck and all the deck chairs on it.

You have famously said, over and over again, that there has never been a more exciting time to be an Australian. I beg to differ. Australia was better off without you and your greedy ideological crusade to lock us all away from a free Australia. A truly free market promoting government, under the real definition of the word free, would provide all the necessary regulatory requirements to ensure there is nothing constraining the freedom of all citizens to live a fulfilling life; to have the healthcare, the education, the job and career opportunities, the quality of life that should be afforded equally no matter the circumstances they are born into, to anyone who has the motivation and strive to achieve it.

Australia will never be the best version of itself until we strip away the limits to our freedom, which stop us meeting our full potential. When the rules you want us to play by mean that all the resources for wealth are unequally cloistered away by the upper-echelons of the wealthiest in society, and sometimes diverted into Panama tax havens, in order to privilege only the already rich and their offspring, to buy their way to success, to remove freedom for everyone else to compete, you do the whole country a disservice. When our collective talents aren’t given every opportunity to contribute – the freedom to contribute – our country is stifled by your rules of the game, where, low and behold, only people like you, the undeserving, can win.

You need to get out of the way of real freedom Malcolm. You need to stop being a roadblock in the way of meritocracy and embrace the true meaning of the word ‘free’. Only then will it really be an exciting time to be an Australian.

Yours Sincerely
Victoria Rollison

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  1. Trish Corry

    Brilliant! On point!!

  2. Ian Parfrey

    A superb, insightful and ‘to-the-point’ article, Victoria.
    Once again, you have nailed this piss-weak puppet of the RWNJ’s to the wall with fact, logic and common sense. Sadly, neither of which Truffles has.

    Thank you for a hopeful piece, one that with any luck will be taken notice of in the upper eschelons of Australian governmental power.

  3. Michael

    I see big miners paying (NOT 1 VOTE = 1 VALUE BUT WHERE BEFORE OR AFTER AN ELECTION $1-VOTE TO THE PARTY EQUALS MANY MULTIPLE-$1-RETURNS) their way out of a fair rate of FAIR PROFIT AND A NON-RENEWABLE tax for selling NON RENEWABLE resources that belong to ALL Australians.

    If this is not inter-generational rape and pillage – this is agile innovation or innovative agility?

    Apologies for above, Victoria, but like your style.

  4. Christel Nathan

    Love your article Victoria spot on thank you for saying how I feel about this Government

  5. Carol Taylor

    I agree with Christel et al, wonderful article Victoria. I especially appreciate your descriptions, “I see the poor chained at the bottom rung of the ladder, which they have no hope of climbing because your rules have removed the rungs”, because that is precisely how it is.

  6. kerri

    The version of freedom Malcolm advocates is the one where Mr. Harbourside Mansion drops a fiver from a wad of cash into a begging bowl because “it seemed like the human thing to do!”

  7. Neil Hogan

    Spot on Victoria, Turnbull is not even a free thinker as out of “his” 25 point battle plan he’s taking to parliament, 23 are stalled Abbott points which means in almost 12 months of being PM he’s had 2 thoughts & that makes me wonder how the hell he got so rich.

  8. Ricky Pann

    The free market is an inalienable oxymoron as an unregulated market is Darwinian by nature. Consequently the term “free’ market that forms the basis of capitalism is both a contradictory and false premise that leads to the establishment of cartels to control and restrict trade by stealth.

  9. michael lacey

    These so-called defenders of freedom share a common list of things they oppose.
    “Social spending” otherwise known as “redistribution”. While they don’t mind tax dollars being used for killing people, using their taxes to feed people is “stealing”.
    Minimum wage laws.
    Every piece of legislation ever proposed to improve working conditions.
    Unions, who “extort” employers by collectively bargaining.
    Environmental regulations.
    Federal support and federal standards for public education.
    Public broadcasting.
    Marriage equality.
    At bottom, conservatives believe in a social hierarchy of “haves” and “have nots”. They have taken this corrosive social vision and dressed it up with a “respectable” sounding ideology which all boils down to the cheap labour they depend on to make their fortunes.

  10. Kare Trendall

    Thankyou for this s piece of very insightful words. It is good to see that there is still ‘journalist’ around to tease out the fact from the spin.

  11. babyjewels10

    Victoria, you said everything I wanted to say.

  12. Adrianne Haddow

    Excellent article Victoria.

    Why did the populace allow these greedy fiends to attain the stranglehold they have on our future? And pay them handsome salaries plus fringe benefits to do so?

    In the ‘free’ market, they hold so dear, not one of them would retain their jobs given their dismal performance in government and economic mismanagement.

  13. Klaus

    Wow Victoria, something set you on fire. Admirable, stunning. Love it.

  14. Jaquix

    Sock it to him Victoria ! Newspoll today confirms that Australians are not impressed by Malcolm Turnbull. And they havent even started things on the floor of parliament yet!

  15. Paolo Soprani

    I think you’re a genius! Thank you for your article. Please write more. So true. Why does the mainstream media not print this sort of commentary? Because they’re in on it. I watch Insiders, 7.30 and read Fairfax. They’re all in on the ‘budget repair’ scam, to name just one thing that irks me. These rational, intelligent people refer to this fiscal bullshit,which is what it is totally, as ‘budget repair’!! Sheesh! If they really criticised the government the way they should they’d probably be sacked.

  16. Catriona Thoolen

    I am with you Ricky Pann. We can’t have a free market unless we remove the barriers to entry to a market (or industry) that have been set up to protect the current players (ably supported by successive governments).

    The other ‘free’ that gets me cross Victoria is Healthcare….which we pay for through the Medicare levy (which if it is too low to cover the cost of universal healthcare, should be increased…oh and add Dental too).

  17. diannaart

    Well said Victoria.

    Turnbull talking about freedom is like a 19th century Southern American slave-owner telling his slaves they should be grateful for being in America.

  18. Michael Taylor

    I think you’ve nailed it perfectly, Diannaart.

  19. jimhaz

    Yeah…dental under medicare…my dream…even if it was just for major work such as crowns and above and even it involved some sort of HECS type payments (ie get the work done and pay via a extra tax).

    “A recent OECD publication which surveyed 29 OECD countries identified five that it classified as providing 100 per cent cover for the cost of dental health services. The countries it identified were: Austria, Mexico, Poland, Spain and Turkey.”

    Mexico and Turkey are not exactly rich countries.

  20. abbienoiraude

    Great piece Victoria.
    Thank you for lifting me out of the doldrums of feeling that I was alone in this fug that has crept over me at the beginning of another Parliamentary term.
    Turnbull is not who he seems. It seems to be a little game to him…a game of ‘look who has the power and the glory’ except he doesn’t does he?

    Some say our asylum seekers on Nauru have ‘Freedom’..freedom to ‘walk around and leave’. I don’t think so! THAT is not freedom.

    I would include having good Dental care ( as some have mentioned) as ‘freedom’. Freedom from pain, broken teeth, missing teeth. Freedom to have self esteem and a sense of being ‘equal’ because you ‘look like everyone else’.

    Thank you for this site and these comments at a time when some of us ( we who have been called names by Morrison et al as ‘tax-nots’) who depend upon Centrelink due to chronic ill health feel like the dirt under this PM’s feet.
    Is that what he means by ‘an exciting time to be Australian’?
    Having a jolly good time treading on and demeaning the most vulnerable.
    What a role model!

    Makes me sick.

  21. Miriam English

    Yes! The Orwellian distortion of language by this government must be called out.
    Thank you Victoria.

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