As our politicians hurl abuse at each other across the chamber each day, they laugh and sneer and interject but it means nothing to them. It’s all about looking for a witty line, a grab they might put on the news. It’s all about the politics as Scott Morrison explained when asked why the debt and deficit disaster had disappeared.
Then off they go happily together to share a drink or seven, or perhaps to enjoy an expensive cigar, giggling about their latest quip.
At the same time, these supposed leaders of our country assure us that the Australian people are capable of having a mature and sensible debate about social issues and it is an insult to suggest otherwise.
They insist that we will all be perfectly respectful when they show utterly no respect towards each other. They don’t seem to realise that their political game-playing sets the tone for the wider debate. The Murdoch gutter press and the belligerent shock jocks grab the ball and run with the hatred and demonisation and there are a lot of people out there who get very fired up as a result.
The government’s opposition to legislating marriage equality, purely to pander to the rabid religious right, led to Qantas boss Alan Joyce being assaulted by a man who said he wouldn’t be bullied by corporate leaders expressing their opinion.
So much for a respectful debate. Religious zealots and rabid homophobes are not going to allow that to happen.
Likewise, the government’s Islamophobia and obsession with watering down Section 18C of the racial discrimination act, whipped up further by the media, led to four young women being attacked in Sydney yesterday purely because they were wearing a hijab.
Every day we hear the government attacking people on welfare. Despite the facts showing there are many times more unemployed people than jobs, those on unemployment benefits are categorised as bludgers, cheats, and addicts.
Instead of using scientific testing of sewerage to decide where they should offer help by way of drug and alcohol rehabilitation centres and counselling, they will use the information to start drug testing welfare recipients because the more people they can put on the cashless welfare card, the more money Stargroup will make.
As many have pointed out, they are far more likely to find drugs in the rich suburbs – $38 a day doesn’t leave anything over for cocaine.
On one hand, the government talks of the need to Close the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage, whilst on the other, they hail Bill Leak as a champion for his tasteless, unfunny, stereotyping of Aboriginal people. They insist on locking up black people for paltry offences so they can look tough on crime. There’s always money for more jails and more police, but not for more teachers, nurses, social workers and refuges.
They ask for respect whilst actively fomenting stereotyping, hatred and division.
Clean up your own act. Make Question Time an example of the way you would like to see the community discussion held. Try listening and giving honest answers. Stop looking for scapegoats to blame and start working together to provide help to those who need it.
And most of all, stop giving Rupert Murdoch the monopoly rights on informing the public. It’s time his poison was gone.