In the true tradition of Coalition governments in trouble, the Turnbull government has pulled out its dirt files and manipulated a sensationalist MSM to go on the attack. All the better if we can somehow link it to national security, the tried and true haven for those who want to use nationalistic xenophobia to create the fear needed to control the masses.
But if they are going to talk “cash for comment”, this could well have unintended consequences for the accusers.
The main complaint doesn’t seem to be the money that Dastyari so stupidly asked for, but that he subsequently said that we should stay out of the fight over the South China Sea. He has since stated his support for government and Labor policy which has not changed.
But can the same be said about Coalition donors affecting policy?
When asked what Gina Rinehart expected in return for her $50,000 donation to Barnaby Joyce’s campaign, he eventually said “I haven’t given, to be honest, Ms Rinehart or Hancock Coal anything.”
Other than the repeal of the carbon and mining taxes (assisted by Clive Palmer), ignoring the exploitation of 457 visa workers at her Roy Hill mine, exploration grants and fossil fuel subsidies, and a Northern Australia Development plan that has been lifted almost directly from Rinehart’s book “Northern Australia and then some” and her group ANDEV.
And let’s not forget that Rinehart flew our now foreign minister and deputy PM to India to attend the wedding of someone they had never met.
Mrs Rinehart was about to clinch a coal deal with the bride’s grandfather – G.V. Krishna Reddy, the founder of GVK, an Indian energy and infrastructure company. Three months after the wedding, he paid Hancock Prospecting $1.3 billion for Alpha, Kevin’s Corner and Alpha West.
Despite concerns expressed by water scientists, on November 1 2013, Greg Hunt approved the 37,380 hectare Kevin’s Corner.
In December Mr Hunt gave the go-ahead for three million cubic metres of dredge spoil to be dumped offshore in the Great Barrier Marine Park, 24km northeast off Abbot Point.
He also approved construction of the Adani-owned terminal 0 at Abbot Point and gave the go-ahead for the Arrow LNG facility on Curtis Island, near Gladstone, and its associated gas transmission pipeline whilst attempting to undermine the right to appeal on environmental grounds.
What was Barnaby’s phrase… “there’s definitely correlation, or we need a discussion of causation.”
In October 2013, an investigation into illegal mining operations in India was suddenly halted. The investigation had been set up by the government and led to the arrest of public officials for corruption, but was wound up without explanation.
Vijay Pratap, convener of the think tank South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy, said:
“The commission was exposing too much corruption at government level and risked undermining tightly woven corporate collusion with the political class, which has sadly become endemic in the mining industry. This is why the government aborted the investigation.”
It’s not just the mining sector. Banks make a big deal of donating to both major parties but in election years, or when financial reform laws are introduced, donations to the Liberal party from financial institutions spike.
Every Coalition government finds the money for Royal Commissions that find our workers are greedy and our unions corrupt, but there will never be a Royal Commission into the banking sector while they are in government and any attempts at regulation will be watered down.
Likewise, big business donors demand “industrial reform” which, to them, means lower wages, fewer workplace entitlements, the right to fire people when they choose, less regulation, and taxpayer-funded protection from failure.
In return they will give accountants and legal teams millions to avoid paying any tax regardless of whatever the legislated rate may be.
Then there is the media, and not just the Murdoch rags.
Who could forget when John Singleton arrogantly told the Sydney Morning Herald that he and Rinehart had been “able to overtly and covertly attack governments… because we have people employed by us like Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones and Ray Hadley who agree with [our] thinking”.
In 2011, Wayne Swan wrote an essay in The Monthly in which he warned that “the rising power of vested interests is undermining our equality and threatening our democracy.”
“We see this most obviously in the ferocious and highly misleading campaigns waged in recent years against resource taxation reforms and the pricing of carbon pollution. The infamous billionaires’ protest against the mining tax would have been laughed out of town in the Australia I grew up in, and yet it received a wide and favourable reception two years ago. A handful of vested interests that have pocketed a disproportionate share of the nation’s economic success now feel they have a right to shape Australia’s future to satisfy their own self-interest.
..immense personal and corporate wealth has created seemingly unstoppable lobbying power which aims to head off any effort to impose reasonable levels of regulation and taxation.
..allowing vested interests to distort the shape of economic growth for their own narrow advantage is not only bad for our democracy and our community, it is bad for our economy.”
Economists Paul Frijiters and Gigi Foster have found the majority of Australia’s rich list made fortunes in sectors such as mining, property development and banking, where success is built on favourable government decisions.
“Looking at the tax and subsidy changes that favour the rich, and considering that almost all the 200 richest Australians look like the beneficiaries of political favours rather than innovators or superstars, the article concludes that inequality is probably increasing due to changes in the political realm.”
Australia’s egalitarian society has been built on a living wage, a welfare system, public health care, mass home ownership, and accessible technical and higher education. All of these things are under attack by a government whose donors are very much dictating policy designed to protect and increase their wealth.
Look at the resistance to changes to superannuation, capital gains, and negative gearing tax concessions. Look at the resistance to needs based funding for education and the push to raise university fees and privatise vocational education. Look at the erosion of Medicare and the vilification of welfare recipients.
Marx understood that the bourgeoise gain their wealth from exploiting the proletariat and the capitalist necessity of keeping the working class in their place and under pressure.
Let’s hope Sam’s stupidity shines a light on the Coalition’s cupidity.
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