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Short Term Tony

“You can always amend a big plan, but you can never expand a little one. I don’t believe in little plans. I believe in plans big enough to meet a situation which we can’t possibly foresee now.” (Harry S. Truman).

Whilst there has been much speculation about whether our Prime Minister will become One-Term Tony, another title is already definite.  Tony Abbott will most certainly be remembered as Short-Term Tony.

The short-sightedness of the Coalition is seen in their approach to pretty much all of their decisions.  Immediate political expediency outweighs the greater good.  Priorities have been shifted from safety for our most vulnerable to increased wealth for our richest.  Planning beyond the next election is basically non-existent.

Action on climate change is one glaring example of this.  As the rest of the world gears up for the inevitable move from fossil fuels, we repeal carbon pricing, approve huge new coal mines, get rid of the profitable Clean Energy Finance Corporation, renege on our Emission Reduction and Renewable Energy targets, and sign Free Trade agreements that will allow foreign corporations to sue us for laws which may affect their profitability.  We remove the right of challenge to environmental approvals, and abandon development of renewable energy industries.

As the rest of the world recognises the need for fast, reliable broadband speeds, we are spending billions on a national broadband network that will only deliver those speeds to a very small percentage of the population.  This will limit the benefit of the system and have flow on effects in housing and rental prices.  We are building infrastructure that barely copes with today’s needs let alone the explosion of future applications this technology will undoubtedly unleash.

To date, Australia has avoided the high unemployment levels seen in other countries, but there are warning signs that it is on the increase.  Slashing public service jobs and assistance to manufacturing industries is only serving to exacerbate the problem.  Rescinding the instant asset write-off for small business removes one small avenue of assistance for the largest employer in Australia.  Scrapping trade training centres will add to the skills shortages that will see more foreigners on 457 visas occupying jobs that our children and unemployed should be training to fill.

Refusal to guarantee funding reform in the education sector beyond four years indicates that the notion of needs-based funding will be scrapped as soon as they feel they can get away with it.  The states who signed up late to the deal have already been released from their obligation to co-contribute and to have their funding dependent on assessed progress.  Rewriting a curriculum that has just been developed after extensive consultation seems an unnecessary waste of time and money.

Much has been made of Tony’s desire to be the ‘infrastructure Prime Minister building the roads of the 21st century’.  Once again, this appears a very short term goal when we should be concentrating on urban and high speed rail as alternatives to road transport.  Cars contribute to pollution and congestion in our cities where parking has become a luxury, and the rising price of petrol is an increasing burden on our cost of living.  Facilitating more people working from home or using public transport should be a priority.

We have been told that our welfare system is in danger of becoming unsustainable, sparking an overdue review.  With our aging population, the old age pension will become an increasing burden but, rather than encouraging low income earners to contribute towards their retirement through superannuation, Tony Abbott canned the co-contribution and the rise in the superannuation guarantee, thus reducing the capacity of the very people who would qualify for the pension to save towards their own retirement.  At the same time, he has allowed very wealthy people to use superannuation as a legal way to avoid paying taxation.

Instead of increasing taxation and closing loopholes, Tony announces an amnesty for rich tax cheats so anything they got away with over 4 years ago will be forgiven.  The timing of this is baffling as the information and agreements necessary to prosecute these people have just been made available.  Since this information-sharing has begun, the Australian Taxation Office has collected $1.7 billion, recouping half-a-billion dollars via these international exchanges just in 2012-13 alone.

Right at the time when mining companies are moving from investment to production phase, when we might see some return on the billions of dollars profit that these companies and individuals make developing resources owned by us, we rescind the mining tax.  Contrary to what they would have us believe, mining is a very small employer in the Australian labour market, and the vast majority of their profits go off-shore thus being lost to our economy.

We are being asked to embrace a paid parental leave scheme that is not means tested and will cost billions each year, with women who earn anything over $150,000 a year eligible to receive $75,000 to stay at home with their baby for 6 months.  At the same time we see wage rises to childcare and aged care workers rescinded and, in perhaps the cruellest move yet, the government wants the most vulnerable workers in the Australian economy – intellectually disabled employees in managed workshops – to waive their legal rights to a wage claim in return for a one-off payment of backpay. These workers, who are pressured to sign away their legal rights, are currently paid around $1.77 an hour.

By hiding the boats and infringing on Indonesia’s sovereignty, we are being asked to believe that we are successfully addressing the asylum seeker problem.  By illegally incarcerating innocent people in dreadful conditions in off-shore detention camps, we are being told we are fulfilling our obligations to the Refugee Convention.  By cutting foreign aid and ignoring human rights abuses, we are contributing to the reasons people flee thus adding to the huge numbers of refugees worldwide.

The promise of a surplus has receded to the unforeseeable future amidst cries of Labor mismanagement and crippling debt, though it is hard to take these cries seriously when one of Mr Hockey’s first actions was to give the Reserve Bank $8.8 billion they had not asked for nor expected.  We shall see if the rumours of a short term gamble on the exchange rate are true if Mr Hockey attempts to withdraw dividends just prior to the next election.

We have seen the disbanding of advisory groups on climate change, preventative health, positive aging, and crime prevention.  Instead we are paying polluters, charging for doctors, cutting aged care wages and superannuation, and locking up people who have committed no crime.

Rather than being a visionary government, we have been saddled with a myopic group whose overriding goal is re-election on the back of big business and billionaires, paid for by our poorest and most vulnerable.  Tony’s short-term decision-making is, I fear, going to have very real long-term consequences, and none of them are good.

18 comments

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  1. PeterF

    What Abbott doesn’t see is that the ‘roads of the 21st century’ are steel.

  2. scotchmistery

    What Abbott doesn’t see, like most tories, is the real future.

  3. FSM is coming.

    “A fire in the masters house is set!”- Rage Against The Machine.

  4. Graeme Rust

    I do hope for the sake of the country that wabbit the idiot is only in for a short term, but who is there to replace him ?? turncoat ? not any more, no ticker, non of the other idiots could do any better than toxic tone, all we can hope for is the wingnut calls a D/D . but he wont have the balls for that, he must know he’s only one term tone, it’s going to be a hard trek to get the country back on an even keel but it’s doable, even after all tones wrecking.

  5. Sue Lofthouse

    This article is a wonderful summation of a dreadful situation.

  6. Joe Banks

    Very good, Kaye Lee, as this article clearly enumerates the disastrous policies of this government, one after another. By rights, we should be reading articles like this in every newspaper in the country. Maybe when Murdoch turns up his toes, everything will change. In the mean time……

  7. flohri1754

    Another “gob-smacking” decision tied in with the Tax Amnesty mentioned above, is the fact that the TAG (Tony Abbott Government) has decided to cut jobs at the Tax Office. Combine fewer people to focus on collecting revenue with the four-year tax amnesty mentioned … it becomes another example of blind ideology (in this case the mantra of all tax is bad — no matter to what good ends it might be put).

  8. PeterF

    How can they be allowed to get away with granting an amnesty to Tax Rorts just as the information is becoming available? It is the same as removing the MRRT just as companies have finished their construction phase and are about to make real profits on their investments, no matter how much they will cry poor. Remember , the MRRT is on super profits of a few, not all profits.

  9. Paul Raymond Scahill

    It is my belief that Abbott the rabbit has absolutely no idea how to run this country. In his mind run is spelt r u i n not r u n. Your story about OTT is right on the mark, if inly we as a nation are able to portray the exact same message to the masses there will be no doubt that he will be OTT. Others have said that the LIEberals have been able to hoodwink the Auissie voter, however, I believe that we should attempt to convince them that they have been given the raw prawn. Loved your article, only hope it gets the attention it deserves.

  10. Bridget Cameron

    How true, the facts speak for themselves. It is so sad how ignorant so many Australians are, to have voted in this sociopath and bully. If only they could wake up and dig a little deeper to find out the truth, then they would not believe the lies and inconsistencies fed to them by the Murdoch and Fairfax machine. Maybe he is just the person to wake them up! I just hope he is booted out next election, and that too much harm does not come to the majority during his reign. I remember his opening speech as PM, at Parliament Time , something to the effect of, ‘ now the adults are in charge, the electorate should shut up, like children.’ What he does not realise, is that he is acting like a spoilt child, and that behind the scenes there are people conspiring to get rid of him! We get what we give out, and he will surely pay the price for his indecency as a human being.

  11. jasonblog

    Absolutely excellent article.

    It makes me think a couple of things. Firstly, when you see ‘stuff’ presented in a thoughtful manner removed from the frenzied hysteria of mass media it is possible to see how much the Abbott government is built of bluff and bullsh*t. That obviously isn’t tenable and hopefully the voters that allowed Abbott into government will come to their own timely awakening of how they were deceived and manipulated.

    Secondly, I am left feeling as though we are on the cusp of some sort of monumental change. It is as if some things are entering their death spiral & are bound for their inevitable End-game. To have a government shamelessly pursuing the interests of billionaires and plutocrats over the adequate welfare of Australia’s most vulnerable is an outrage. To have a government so scornful of science and the learned professional advice provided by an independent Public service seriously has the potential to utterly retard and impoverish Australia.

    There is a power game occurring in Australia. Or, at least, those that have long been at the top of hierarchy and those that have long exercised dominion over others, are now faced with a changing world that is essentially chaotic. Recent overt calls to nationalism and ‘celebration’ of militarism may be for no other reason than to incite blood-lust in the young for a good old-fashioned imperialist war. The treatment of asylum seekers and the imbecile shenanigans of the f***faced named “Operation Sovereign Borders” diminishes all Australians who have a decent understanding of what occurred during World War II & what universal humans rights hopes to achieve and even more significantly what it hopes to avoid. The Abbott government is concertedly chauvinistic in the sense of dread, fear & loathing it hopes to excite in the populace towards people seeking asylum by boat.

    The Abbott government is fundamentally fascist and what is at stake is Australian democracy. Yes, Tony Abbott is a short term prime minister with regards to the limited, unequal and brutal vision he has for Australia. The bigger question, and what is of greater worry, is to what lengths will he stoop to avoid being “One Term Tony” and what appeals to crude, uninformed, lynch-mob mentality is he willing to call upon to keep himself in “power”.

  12. mars08

    So where do we find brave, decent, thoughtful leaders?

    Any politician foolish enough to properly consider the environment, tax the mega-rich, treat asylum seekers in a humane manner and means test parental leave… will immediately become the target of the rich and powerful in this country. Screams of “CLASS WARFARE” will be heard across the land. The clowns in the MSM will do little or nothing to present the facts. And the hopeless morons I see around me every day will fall for it once again. Fact: we get the government we deserve!

  13. lawrencewinder

    Oxymoron: A Liarbril with Imagination.

  14. John Lord

    A Prime Minister for undoing.

  15. Win Jeavons

    Of course there is class warfare!. Always the rich and powerful consider the rest to be put on earth to be their serfs. The working classes are not intended to enjoy life, only to enrich others. Communism, no matter how horrible, was a check on unbridled capitalism (now synonymous with “democracy”; now we need a new philosophy to replace both..The meek are no longer inheriting the earth(except the ruined bits) and the poor are not blessed.

  16. Howard Miller

    When King Little John came to the throne, he commenced by picking on women who lived on their own.?
    It seems that Lord Tiny Tony is following in the footsteps of his idol and getting stuck into the Welfare Cheats that the Labor Party always creates???. As if anyone in their right mind would want to stand in an embarrassing line down at the good olde Centerlink and divulge all their personal details in order to live just below the Poverty level.??
    The problem here is that the LNP have blind Freddy as their policy officer and he draws up all the policies for the meek and mild members of the Party to blindly follow. How is it that the LNP can find the worst possible candidate as a leader? Oh boy, don’t we have a cuckoo in the nest this time?
    To steal another’s good line, “One term Tony”? I hope we are right but the electorate embraced King Little John for a record time, so some folk are very slow learners? Australia went backwards for a long time.
    AND we pay these retired dopes millions in pensions and perks to remind us how poorly they ran the country. HMMMM??? From the Land of OZ to the Land of No Hope’rs.??

  17. abbienoiraude

    As usual Kaye Lee, you write an impressive, calm and frightening tome.
    I want this on the front pages on the papers all throughout the land…but it will never happen, mores the pity and to the loss of all of us.

    Thank you Kaye and to all the commentators for standing up and making it be known that we are not alone in our recognition of what is happening and how it will play out. We will be poorer in heart and in intellect because of this Government.
    Indeed, we have not learned from the past Conservative thrust into our Nation’s soul. Howard softened us up for the ‘fear and loathing’ of the ‘other’. Now Abbott ( Credlin?) et al are bringing home the ignorant and selfish to prop up his power base.

    There is something rotten in the State of Australia and I don’t know what can be done to stop it.

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