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Sticks and stones break bones

Taste-your-words-e1432207399163 Remember the old saying ‘sticks and stone may break my bones, but names will never hurt me’? It’s time Australian voters worried less about the stupid, insensitive, nasty, judgemental, heartless, shameless, inaccurate, bigoted, moronic, offensive things Abbott and members of his government say and focus more of what these words show us about these peoples’ values, or lack thereof, and importantly, the outcomes these lack of values have on the lives of Australians. Because these people are running the country and what they say is just a reflection of how they make decisions. We should be really seriously scared! Forget about the words, worry about the sticks and stones because they really are breaking bones! Here are some examples:

I wrote last week about Hockey’s ‘Double Dipping’, fraudster, rorting description of mothers of newborns who quite legally and legitimately receive their privately negotiated maternity leave along with the government scheme which was always set out to top up existing leave and not to replace it. As a pregnant woman myself, I found the accusation that I’m slovenly, greedily stealing from tax-payers through rorting, fraudster behaviour while I take leave from my job, incredibly offensive. But looking past this outrage, what about the outrage about the consequence this policy outcome will have on new mothers? For many, it will mean having to go back to work weeks or even months earlier than they would like to, possibly giving up on breastfeeding and forgoing the time they would have liked to spend with their newborn, but can’t afford to spend without government paid maternity leave. This is the outrage – the consequences the policy change will have on the lives of working women, their financial stress and their precious first few months at home with their newborns.

The thing about Tony Abbott is that there’s never a shortage of outrageous comments flying around that are just as offensive as Hockey’s ‘Double Dipping’ and also just as hurtful as being struck with sticks and stones when you haven’t even had time to get over the last assault. Another example from this week was Abbott’s statement to a Queensland small business group that his ‘work for the dole’ policy will allow business owners to ‘try before you buy’. Yes, he’s talking about trying people, workers, employees, before hiring them. As if they’re cars being taken for a test spin or a pair of shoes, as noted by an ABC interviewer who called him out on this phrase. You’ll notice though, that it’s the phrase the interviewer was worried about, and not the policy itself. Yes, it’s absolutely revolting that Abbott would refer to unemployed workers being farmed out to work for the dole schemes, who get paid no more than they get on the dole ($37 a day, or $4.60 per hour for an 8 hour day) as being ‘tried before they are bought’. But what’s more disgusting than this characteristic Abbott-way of talking about desperate and vulnerable unemployed people is the policy itself. We already know through Abbott’s decision to throw unemployed youth off welfare for 6 months, which was then changed to 1 month to try to get it through the Senate, he doesn’t have an inch of compassion for the perilous situation people find themselves in when unemployed. But now he’s proving that he has absolutely no qualms with people working at slave labour rates, which he no doubt wishes was the minimum wage if there had to be one at all, and that he has no concerns that this free month of work will actually keep the unemployed person from having the time available to find a job. A real job that actually pays them a salary. He knows as well as any person that if you give businesses free workers, they have zero incentive to actually employ, and pay workers. What would stop these businesses from ‘trying’ a new worker every month, every year forever and never having to actually employ anyone ever again? Is this Abbott’s job creation strategy? To create an underclass of working poor by bypassing the minimum wage and allowing businesses to treat people like slaves? Take a look Australia. This is the man you put in charge. It’s depressing beyond belief.

Finally, my last example, also from this week, once again shows the outrage at Abbott’s ineloquent, nastily worded sound bites is misplaced when you consider the actions behind the statement. When asked if Australia would, on the urging of the United Nations, work with regional neighbours to find a solution to the displacement of thousands of Rohingya refugees, Abbott’s reponse was, like a three year old child rejecting broccoli – ‘Nope, nope, nope’. He then went on to say that ‘To start a new life, come through the front door, not the back door’ and that ‘Australia is ‘a good international citizen’. Let’s look at the values behind these words and the outcomes. The first obvious outcome is that, whether Abbott believes it or not, Australia is not a good international citizen. And the citizens of Australia have let the citizens of the world down by electing a man who lacks even the basic compassion for families so terrified of being killed that they’ve jumped on boats to escape and nearly starved on the open waters while they wait for someone to show enough compassion to help them. What is clear from Abbott’s ‘front door’ versus ‘back door’ statement is that he only wants privileged people migrating to Australia. He only wants those who come from countries with migration channels, who can afford visas, or who have the education for skilled migration status. He doesn’t want poor people. Especially if they are brown. Because Abbott hates poor people. For someone who describes himself as a Catholic, he’s decidedly unchristian. And the depressing part is, Australia, in the majority, loves him for it.

Words are important, but only because they launch the sticks and stones that break people’s bones. I’m just as guilty as everyone else who is reading this thinking that they are liable to let their outrage of what Abbott and his government colleagues say overshadow the outrage at these people’s actions. Being outraged at words is easy, but let’s look deeper and call out the outrageous values and actions that are signposted by these outrageous comments. And let’s work at electing a government that doesn’t bash its people with sticks and stones on a daily basis.


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  1. dragonnanny

    I like every word you have written Victoria and I agree with what you have said – I have been depressed since Sept 7 2013 and it doesn’t seem to shift to allow me to feel a tad better. Keep writing the good stuff – I, for one, appreciate what you write.

  2. Martin Smith

    Excellently stated Victoria.

  3. Roswell

    “As studies prove”.

    A link, please.

  4. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Jimmy March – you have everything to lose – starting with credibility – by not providing a link. If you have never experienced poverty or had close dealings with people who have then you have no foundation to comment. Like the Tea Party in the USA, you speak about things of whicn you have no ezperience and you clearly lack empathy with people who are in need for no fault of their own.

  5. Florence nee Fedup

    The moral outrage from this neoliberal government, used to justify their actions against those at the bottom, is beyond belief, in facts belongs in cuckoo land.

  6. Terry2

    Nope, Nope, Nope !

    Abbott distances himself from many in the Australian and international communities and makes our attendance at the regional conference in Bangkok pointless.

    I for one say that this is not what I expect from an Australian government : Mr Abbott you do not represent me !

  7. Michael Taylor

    Jammy, you made an outrageous claim and someone asked you to confirm it. You refused. I therefore call ‘bullshit’ on your claim.

  8. Conrad

    The second sentence (in VR’s essay) aptly describes the attributes and character of this dismal and dire TA-era. It is truly awful to have Australia’s reins of power led by such ghastly and selfish political actors.

  9. Roswell

    I also call it bullshit. But that’s his modus operandi.

    I’ve seen it a thousand times. Someone makes a claim and when challenged on it responds with something gutless and pathetic like “look it up for yourself”.

  10. Roswell

    Gutless. Pathetic.

  11. The AIM Network

    Our sentiments exactly, Roswell.

  12. Pudd'nhead

    Hello, we have to consider some variants. As if Genghis Abbott’s protective armour isn’t enough he has a voter with words set to denigrate rather than contribute to discussion. Guess we should see Jammy for what he is – a diversion let loose to excuse and lighten Abbott’s responsibility for the current climate of indifference to a democratic Australia, you know, the Australia that was in the past created through the hardship and desire of all Australians who were unwilling to dismiss opinions that differed from their own and listened to both sides of any discussion instead of rushing to condemnation based on their inherent dislike for this or that. Let’s hear your reasoning Jammy and by the way on the subject of pregnancy being one of choice it seems you may have always been careful and wore a condom or did you absolutely refuse to cohabit with females who couldn’t give you an assurance that they had dutifully taken their contraception pills? As a fellow who has cast a broad net you obviously know that there are wonderful females in our communities who sometimes make mistakes and endure unwanted pregnancies as result thereof. The saddest part of their situation is the financial troubles that can ensue for them if they are unsupported. We note your have compassion in this area. Returning to business – there needs to be a few additions to the CV you gave your hero PM TA. His readiness to tell fibs to get him on his way, his tendency to seek advice only from sources that will confirm the course he has already chosen, his misogyny, his legendary willingness to use the courts and other means (viz,Pink Bat inquiries) to dissemble his opponents and his passion for the drip down economy should all be considered before he is given the job. Perhaps if we had had the advantage of his “try before you buy” approach in employment he may not have lasted long in the job he is now FILLING (a common term that seems to be used when employers are not overwhelmed by an employee’s discharge of his or her duties). It is also germane to observe that nowhere in your hero’s CV do you mention the attributes compassionate, just or reasoned – perhaps being market focused obliterated his need for those qualities. .

  13. peter williams

    CHOPPER Very well said Victoria. The Abbott government is the worst thing ever to afflict our society. Every policy has an underlying agenda of dividing us into ‘haves and have nots’. Abbott himself is a certifiable sociopath and has surrounded himself with like minded ‘yes people’ in a cabinet chosen on conformity rather than talent.

  14. sandrasearle

    What’s the difference between Pell & Abbott? They are both in denial, just like the troll Jammy March. When we are fed constantly with the 24 hour cycle of spin from Abbott & the LNP trying to justify why they do & say the things they do in the name of good governance for the people of this country is shameful. This government is disgraceful & only has self interest, one that is to make sure that everyone is kept in the dark & treated like mushrooms.
    As Victoria has said in her wonderful article, we need to look deeper than the words to see just how much the sticks & stones are breaking our bones.

  15. townsvilleblog

    Victoria, Firstly, congratulations on your pregnancy I hope everything works out well for you and your new life. Abbott’s LNP is the most ultra right wing people hating government we have ever seen in Australia, please don’t believe public media polls, the budget bought them only 0.5% rise in their popularity. They remain well and truly on the nose, and why shouldn’t they be on the nose? The new legislation depends upon last years horror budget items being passed by the Senate, which I sincerely hope does not happen.

  16. townsvilleblog

    Jammy March, you have obviously never been a woman working for Woolworths or Coles as a shop assistant or you would know better than to say all working people can afford their own pregnancy. A big slice of the population are employed on low wages, without help from their weak right wing unions AWU and SDA so please think before you engage computer.

  17. Andreas Bimba

    For the link to Stefanovic and the worst Prime Minister in Australia’s history.

  18. Kong

    Jammy you are a drowning man clutching at straw statements like………The misandry and seething hatred directed at PM Abbott is undeserved………how long can you hold your breath?

  19. Conrad

    Why even care about or respond to comments by the pathetic Jammy?- just let him curl up in his defecation-corner and amuse himself. Just ignore the shite

  20. Terry2


    Don’t forget, Terry Barnes was a Liberal Party adviser under the Howard government : he may have rose tinted glasses.

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    Child rearing ultimately woman’s responsibility.

    I am sure there are many men who disagree. I think we have move on from dad helping mum with the chores, to taking equal responsibility to see they are done.

    That I particularly so with child rearing.

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