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Our society is not for sale

As many have observed, politics has overtaken policy in this country, and the Abbott version of the game has taken us to the gutter.

When he played cricket, his only skill was sledging. When he played rugby, he thought throwing the first punch made him best and fairest. Abbott brings this same style, this same lack of expertise compensated for by bullying intimidation, to government.

This would not be tolerated in any other organisation. The behaviour shown in Parliament would not be acceptable in a schoolroom. The lack of transparency would not be accepted in any company. The personal vilification and abuse would be considered domestic violence in a home. The lies, obfuscation, and misleading statements would be considered perjury in a court of law.

The central purpose of government in a democracy is to be the role model for, and protector of, equality and freedom and our associated human rights. Government leaders must set an ethical standard for the people to emulate. Saying entitlements are within guidelines is exactly the same excuse big business has used not to pay tax. Legality should not replace morality.

Government economic responsibility is also linked to protection from the negative consequences of free markets. The government must defend us against unscrupulous merchants and employers, and the extreme class structure that results from their exploitation.

Governments argue that people need to be assisted with the economic competition that now dominates the world. But the real intent of this position is to justify helping corporate interests , siding against local workers, consumers and the environment. Big business should be forced to adhere to their license to operate by paying the appropriate taxation, treating their workers fairly, and protecting our environment. It is the government’s job to enforce this.

Another general role of government, related to the need for efficiency, is the organization of large-scale projects. It is for this benefit that we accept government involvement in the construction of society’s infrastructure, including roads and railways, telecommunications, and water, sewage and energy utilities.

Further, giving government charge over these utilities guarantees that they remain in public hands, and solely dedicated to the common good. If such services are privatized, the owners have a selfish motivation, which could negatively affect the quality of the services.

That such assets should have public ownership is expressed in the idea of the “commons.” They should be owned by and shared between the members of the current population, and preserved for future generations, not sold off to make a one-off difference to a balance sheet.

In a democracy, government is only one element coexisting in a social fabric of many and varied groups such as charitable organisations and churches, environmental and community groups, business associations and labour unions, and the media.

In an authoritarian society, virtually all such organisations would be controlled, licensed, watched, or otherwise accountable to the government. This is what we are witnessing now as the government seeks to influence the national broadcaster, remove charitable status from environmental groups, disband and defund scientific organisations, silence humanitarian groups and aid workers, deny the right to protest, and invoke laws to spy on its citizens.

We have laws, police and a judicial system to protect us domestically and the military to protect from external threats. It is not a government’s place to create fear and division but to reassure its citizens that they are safe.

It should not be Abbott’s decision alone to elevate our defence force into a strike force by spending hundreds of billions on defence materiel that is extremely unlikely to ever see active service. Our military plays a respected role in humanitarian aid, disaster relief, search and rescue, evacuation, rebuilding and peacekeeping. It is hard to see what submarines and jet fighters can contribute to this effort.

We’re currently spending over $1 billion a year detaining approximately 1500 asylum seekers offshore. That’s more than five times the United Nations refugee agency’s entire budget for all of South East Asia which is used to cover over 200,000 refugees, half a million internally displaced people and nearly 1.4 million stateless persons in the region. In 2014 the UNHCR spent $3.72 billion worldwide with which it did its best to respond to the needs of around 46.3 million refugees, internally displaced people and stateless people under its mandate.

Clearly, if the money we are wasting on detaining, deterring and turning back asylum seekers was channelled into improving protection and achieving solutions for displaced people overseas, it could help to resolve the issues which compel asylum seekers to undertake dangerous boat journeys in the first place.

Public officials in a representative democracy hold office in the name of the people and remain accountable to the people for their actions.

Government must be accountable because of the severe consequences that may result from its failure. As the outcomes of fighting unjust wars and inadequately responding to critical threats such as global warming illustrate, great power implies great responsibility.

The Abbott government has shown themselves incapable of handling either and are actively removing scrutiny and silencing criticism.

We, the people, must resist this attack on our democracy and remind our government of their responsibilities. Our society is not for sale. We must demand better.

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17 comments

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  1. Blinkyewok

    Abbott has always practices gutter politics. I do not want to live in a LNP dictatorship. Wake up Australia before it’s too late.

  2. David

    I suspect depending on what Bishop says in her press conference at 4pm EST, this disgraceful event will either be put on the Govt back burner until there is an enquiry or she may realise this is it, time to go while there is a chance of exiting with some dignity intact and resign as Speaker.

    Abbott obviously was aware of the content of her remarks during his earlier Media stop and while looking somewhat restrained gav nothing away, while looking less than enthusiastic about being where he was.
    Is good to see Labor are not accepting the Feds decision to throw the ball on to a departmental enquiry and have written again reminding the AFP of how the law stands and is supposed to work. Good for them.

    I made the point elsewhere it is impossible for Bishop to be in the chair during Question Time if she refuses to resign,as there are certain to be questions to the PM about her conduct and it is inconceivable she will be the judge of their admissibility.
    Abbott has a heap of problems, brought upon himself via the persecution and ruination of Peter Slipper.

    People in glass houses Tony, remember? I for one am loving it as I hope the former Speaker is.

  3. Neil of Sydney

    We’re currently spending over $1 billion a year detaining approximately 1500 asylum seekers offshore.

    Thanks to everybody who voted for Rudd in 2007. There were only 6 boat people in detention when Howard lost office.

  4. aravis1

    Schadenfreude: Peter Slipper must be feeling this. But it is not enough. I will feel it is worth it if this gets rid of Bishop, and hastens the demise of the government. But in the meantime, anxiety, and incipient anger, are sitting on my shoulders. Gutter politics have a limit, even under this crew of monsters, How much longer? HOW MUCH LONGER?
    This is a fine summary, Kaye, of our present situation. Let us hope it will stir more of us up, so that we can find critical mass and rise and end the farce.

  5. mars08

    “Our society is not for sale”

    Oh really? In election after election millions of Australian citizens have shown that it is…

  6. eli nes

    Beauty, Kaye! I wonder if you could put it on facebook, so we could like it?
    What about a petition so we could sign?
    Maybe a letter to the editor, so we could read it?
    Oh I know, the perfect solution is to go on the ABC, so the commercial news bulletins could quote it.
    Perhaps you could do, whatever you think little billy(or tanya, penny) would do?
    How does the rabbutt’s speaker compare with slipper for fairness?
    I would like to see someone in Labor ask Anna Burke for her opinion on the behaviour of bronnie bias bishop in and out of parliament.

  7. Matters Not

    It is hard to see what submarines and jet fighters can contribute to this effort

    Can only agree. But perhaps Tony’s ambition to be a modern day Churchill indicates that he has much grander delusions when it comes to ‘military matters’.

    Let’s not forget he had ‘brain farts’ re the invasion of the disputed border between the Ukraine and Russian territories in the wake of MH 17 and subdue the rebels. (Hastily denied and soon forgotten).

    Perhaps the only comfort is that, to date at least, his ‘planes’ refuse to fly in any reliable way and perhaps his submarines don’t want to sink.

  8. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    .I still think all non-LNP members should boycott QT until The unspealable Speaker resigns or is dismissed/

  9. jim

    I feel that this is just a pimple on the face of the LNP this is nothing compared to the damage these eejiots are doing to our country, like for one it is costing the tax payer around a $billion per year to lock a few asylum seekers up and “stopping the boats” 2 the eejiots are pushing our best scientist go overseas and selling our country to foreign corporations the list of destruction is just mind blowing, poor fella my country.

  10. Neil of Sydney

    like for one it is costing the tax payer around a $billion per year to lock a few asylum seekers up

    The Coalition did not lock any of these people up. The boats stopped when Abbott got elected. All asylum seekers in detention were out there by ALP/Greens from 2007-2013. There were only 6 asylum seekers in detention in 2007 most probably because they were Republican Guard type people and could not get a security clearance.

  11. i have a nugget of pure green

    Neil, it seems that every point you made in your post is comprised of “truthiness”.

  12. aravis1

    O no, every ALP member should ask questions about her behaviour; she can’t adjudicate on her own stuff, so she would have to leave.

  13. Neil of Sydney

    i have a nugget of pure green

    Just pointing out the falsehood of the statement. Apparently we have spent $12B housing all these asylum seekers since Howard lost office in 2007. That is what we are going to spend on the F-35’s. In 2007 we only had 6 boat people in detention costing not much.

    Almost nothing the ALP does works. Look at what they did to the car manufacturing industry. In 2007, 25% of cars were made in Australia. After 6 years of Rudd/Gillard giving Holden/Ford/Toyota everything they wanted we only made 10% of cars in Australia in 2013. You cannot have a local manufacturing industry with 10% of the market.

  14. David

    Neil of sydney drags its lame brain out of the troll hole it dwells in and again fires away with his Tory talking points without one link to justify the fantasy. Either back up your statements with facts of piss off.
    In no mood for trolls

  15. Roswell

    Yes, David, he’s so monotonous.

  16. aravis1

    Yep, I second that. My patience with LNP supporters is gone … gone … forever. I hope the LNP dies and never resurrects. The damage they and their supporters have done to our beloved country is incalculable.

  17. Terry2

    Neil of Sydney

    You seem to have all the facts on asylum seekers detention on Nauru and Manus so why is it that, after coming on two years, none on Manus have been resettled and only four from Nauru – transferred to Cambodia at enormous cost.

    It has been suggested that these people are being held for political purposes. Do you have any insights on that ?

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