One thing I have tried to teach my children is that, when you make a mistake, tell the truth, apologise, do what you can to make up for it, and learn from the experience.
The example being set by our nation’s leaders makes it hard to reinforce that message.
According to Tony Abbott, the Coalition’s woes at ICAC are due to the Labor government making rules about donations from developers, implying it is the rule that is wrong rather than the breaking of it.
Likewise in the Bolt case – his conviction for vilifying groups in our society was the fault of an unjust law rather than any wrongdoing on his part according to his special friend, George Brandis.
Hockey’s defence of the revelation that he is paying off his investment property by claiming $270 a night accommodation entitlements is that it is “within the rules”, a defence also used by Malcolm Turnbull and many other politicians. Nowhere is it questioned as to whether this is what was intended by the “away from home” allowance.
Abetz and Hockey have both used the “blame the media” excuse for things they have said. I was misinterpreted, I didn’t finish my sentence. Abbott and Pyne tell us that we misunderstood when they said they were on a unity ticket about education funding.
Twelve months into their term, the government seem unable to take the reins, constantly repeating the “debt and deficit disaster inherited from Labor” line, with absolutely no plan for the future. Tony counts off on his fingers (an exceedingly annoying habit that he seems unable to function without), “We axed the carbon tax, the boats are stopping, we are building the roads of the 21st century, and we are getting the budget under control”. There is no thought about what we will do about climate change or how we will help refugees or whether those roads are the best infrastructure investment or modelling on how the budget cuts will affect the vulnerable in our society.
But the prize for the best “pass the buck” comment must go to Tony’s mentor and spiritual advisor, George Pell. When being interviewed by the Royal Commission into child sex abuse yesterday, Pell made the crass analogy that the Church should not be held responsible for the actions of its clergy any more than a trucking company should be held responsible if one of their drivers molested a woman they picked up on the road.
The last time I looked, trucking companies didn’t run schools. They were not placed in positions of trust to care for the vulnerable in our community or to provide moral guidance. I would also suggest that if the company was informed that one of their drivers had raped someone they would not try to bribe the victim to not go to the police.
In 2002, Pell told his audience of World Youth Day delegates that “abortion is a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people”, during a public religious instruction session. In response to the outcry this caused, Pell said he was merely trying to point out that sex abuse by Catholic clergy had attracted attention to the detriment of other issues.
Anthony Foster, the father of two of the abuse victims, has said Cardinal Pell displayed a “sociopathic lack of empathy” when they met to discuss the case in the 1990s.
This lack of empathy is the most frightening part of the current government and the people to whom they listen. Anyone who is not rich is to be blamed for not working out how to rort the system. Single parents are made to feel ashamed of their situation which Kevin Andrews and Cory Bernardi tell us will lead to their “sons ending up in gaol and their daughters being promiscuous”. Unemployed people are just not trying hard enough, the disabled are lazy, and we can’t afford to keep giving handouts to the sick and elderly. Refugees are to be incarcerated and vilified for wanting a better life for their families, and all Muslims viewed as terrorists waiting to behead us at the first opportunity.
A sociopath is someone who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. I’d say that just about sums it up.