There have recently been a number of ‘freedom’ rallies across Australia where participants seem to be claiming that the current pandemic is somewhere between a farce and a ‘deep cover’ operation by unnamed authorities to exert control over the mindless minions (that’s the rest of us). Some who should know better, including LNP Federal member George Christensen, exercised their ‘freedom’ to protest that others were taking away ‘our freedoms’. Pity some of the company he was keeping seemed to identify with QAnon – a strange group of people that allegedly take instruction from an anonymous person who posts ‘cryptic’ messages on obscure internet message boards despite claiming they should be free of government instruction and direction.
There were plenty that decried the rallies as idiotic but you have to wonder if in amongst those with an ideological barrow to push, there were some that are completely bamboozled and concerned by the government’s seeming incompetence and want their opinion to be heard. We talked about Morrison’s lack of ability to organise or plan for the future a week or so ago in ‘The dog ate my homework’. Concern and confusion about the government’s actions is probably justified.
What we didn’t talk about last week was the use of our funds in attempts to purchase favour and grace from marginal electorates. At the same time the Coalition are dishing out favours and opportunities to those that have supported the conservative side of politics in the past without even a pretense of fairness or equity.
Prior to the 2019 election, the federal government promised commuter carparks at various locations in Australia’s larger cities. Normally councils and state government build public transport infrastructure but it wouldn’t be the first time the Federal Government has funded public transport infrastructure. While it’s true that car parking near transport nodes will probably increase the use of public transport, reduce congestion on our roads as well as reclaiming the nearby suburban streets for local residents, the Australian National Audit Office claims
the Commuter Car Park fund started with a list of “top 20 marginal seats” identified by the office of Alan Tudge, who was then minister for urban infrastructure.
ANAO officials said the government chose where to build the car parks based on the votes up for grabs rather than the potential to ease congestion and noted the office of Prime Minister Scott Morrison was involved in some of the decisions.
It claimed a similar approach was used for the wider $4.8 billion Urban Congestion Fund of which the car park program was just one part.
It is concerning the Audit Office thought there was little consideration of the need to increase public transport usage, rather the objective being to maximise the Coalition votes at the election. Apparently some of the commuter carparks were over half a kilometre from the railway station they were supposed to be servicing!
In late July, The Guardian reported that
Canstruct International, the Brisbane company and Liberal party donor running Australia’s offshore processing regime on Nauru, has won another uncontested contract extension – $180m over six months – bringing its total revenue from island contracts over the past five years to more than $1.5bn.
There are 108 people held on Nauru under Australia’s offshore processing regime. It costs Australian taxpayers more than $8,800 every day for each person held on the island, or $3.2m a person each year.
While no new asylum seeker arrivals have been sent to Nauru since 2014, the regime there will cost Australia more than $400m this year.
And probably more telling
The original contract for “provision of garrison and welfare services on Nauru” awarded to Canstruct was worth just $8m in October 2017 but this was amended almost immediately – increased by 4,500% to $385m just a month after being signed.
These two examples are not outliers. Crikey has ‘a dossier of lies and falsehoods’ that make interesting reading.
The medical experts seem to suggest that the way out of the COVID pandemic is vaccination. The vaccination rate in the US is considerably higher than Australia’s, yet people are still dying. The sad fact is that most COVID-19 related deaths in the USA are among unvaccinated people. Taking part in a ‘freedom’ protest where social distancing and mask wearing is obviously not encouraged is only likely to be hazardous to your health. If people really are flummoxed or confused about the Government’s management in general, as some protestors seem to be, the best option for them is to become politically aware and ‘fight the good fight’ from the inside. The alternative is to be associated with a ragtag bunch of conspiracy theorists who could be the recipients of a number of ‘Darwin Awards’ in the not-too-distant future.
What do you think?
This article was originally published on The Political Sword
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