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Tag Archives: Denis Napthine

The Ides of March

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

Image courtesy of theaustralian.com.au

On the 15th of March 44BC Julius Caesar was murdered, in an act reminiscent of the ritual slaughter of a sheep made to the god Jupiter during the Ides of March.

In 2014 on the Ides of March, Tasmania and South Australia are up for a state election. As is expected by the renowned Australian tradition for voting governments out, rather than voting them in, and by most indicators both the progressive Labor governments are set to be sacrificial Pharmakos.

The trouble with this strange form of political punishment is that it often hurts the citizen voter far more than the purged politicians.  As has been evidenced recently in NSW, QLD and federally, the triumphant conservative governments that have been beneficiaries of this disengaged democracy are rarely interested in what voters need, and more interested in what their corporate backers want.

Getting upset at the nightly news, or posting your ire on social media does not a good democracy make.  Progressive parties like the ALP and the Greens were built on mass movements that banded diverse people together in a fight for a better life, or to build a better balance between our industries and our environment.  As such, for these parties to function at their best requires community involvement.  Failing to get involved with, and then voting out such an elected government is like distaining to train your dog and then getting upset when it soils the carpet.

The conservative Liberal party, and their National party enablers, on the other hand is a party for the corporate and wealthy elite.  They do not need mass support, only your vote come election time.

Of course getting involved in politics is not very Australian, and many voters do not want to be interested.  Australians never had to fight for its democratic freedoms, and so are fairly blaze and ignorant about how it all works.  The result is that voters come to polls every three to four years, having put little thought into what they actually want from their government, complaining about missing out on their Saturday morning and muttering “I just don’t know who to vote for”.

Tasmania and South Australia are faced with a choice to re-elect incumbent progressive governments that they may have genuine grievances with, or bringing in libertarian conservative governments. There would seem to be little choice between the two.  However there are very large differences that a cursory look at the state and federal Liberal parties will clearly illustrate.

For those seeking to convince fellow voters, or those who may themselves be unsure, to assist you I have made a small list below of the kind of thing you can expect under a conservative government.  This list is by no means comprehensive and I am sure that most readers will be able to find far more to add:

In Queensland, the Liberal National government . . .

Cancelled the building of a new Children’s hospital, and will instead be changing it into a five-star hospital “hotel” where family members will be responsible for tending to patients around the clock.

Established a Commission of Audit to rationalize massive cuts to services, health, education, and support a program of extensive privatization.

Refused to sign up to education reform and Gonski co-funding.

Lost thousands of jobs, with unemployment up to 6.1% and rising.

Closed public schools and then sold the land to private developers.

Approved an electricity price rise of 22.6%.

Approved dredging onto the Great Barrier Reef.

Campbell Newman gave himself a pay rise, so that he is now paid the same as the President of the United States.

Established draconian “Anti-bikie” VLAD laws in an attempt to undermine social clubs associated with unionized workers in the building industry.  An industry that Campbell Newman has family ties and personal interests in.

Passed laws that allow police to enter a home without a warrant, arrest and fine a host of party $12,000 if three of his or her guests are intoxicated or use “indecent” language.

Changed Workcover laws to prevent injured workers from claiming health costs associated with an injury at work.

Sold social housing for a profit while increasing costs to the average family to the tune of $600 a year through direct and indirect taxation.

In Victoria, the Liberal Coalition government . . .

Changed protest laws so that the government can decide what a legitimate protest is, and force people to move with threat of arrest or an immediate fine of $500.

Is building a road tunnel, instead of additional and much needed public transport, that will result in huge increases in traffic congestion.

Cut $290 million from TAFE training in 2013, and is planning to cut millions more.

Cut $616 million from health funding, leading to the longest waiting lists for surgery ever – with some 55,000 people waiting months for treatment in 2013.

Courted the vote of disgraced MP Geoff Shaw by assisting him to repeal 2008 law that decriminalized abortion.

Has seen massive increases to wait times at hospital emergency rooms.

Has closed down over 2,000 beds in Victorian hospitals.

Has seen tolls, water, gas and electricity, and property rates increase at a faster rate than anywhere else in the country.

Is continuing to cut Ambulance services and is now attempting to replace trained paramedics with partly trained volunteers.

Unemployment is up to 6.4%, the worst since 2002.

In Western Australia the Liberal National Coalition . . .

Instituted a mindless Shark cull, despite being told it was a bad idea by scientists and fishermen – killing dolphins, seals, sealions, etc and attracting international derision.

Increased electricity prices 45% higher than CPI.

Cut hundreds of support staff from public schools and introduced further funding cuts to public schools.

Established an economic audit to justify cuts and privatization.

Continue to cut health funding and services.

Refused to sign up to education reform and Gonski co-funding.

Cancelled promised public transport improvements and expansions.

Continuing increases in unemployment, jumping from 4.6 to 5.1% in January 2014.

Oversaw an increase in state debt from $3.6 Billion in 2008 to over $18 Billion in 2013, all while overseeing a massive mining boom.

In NSW, the Liberal Coalition government . . .

Made massive cuts to emergency services, leading to closure of Fire Stations and longer wait times for emergency care.

Introduced laws to stop wage increases for public sector workers (including police, fire services and nurses).

Obeyed mining lobby groups and cancelled funding to environmental lawyers, and forbade any state agencies from “providing legal advice to activists and lobby groups”.

Has changed laws, at the behest of big miners like Rio Tinto, giving preference to the ‘economic benefits of coal mines over environmental and social impacts’.

Has opened up national parks to casual hunters and shooters, now wants to roll back marine parks to allow open season on fish reserves.

Sold public owned assets including electricity utilities, ferry services, and ports, leading to higher prices for consumers and huge cuts to services.

Nationally, the Federal Liberal-National government . . .

Has stated it will be pushing for the states to privatize more of their utilities, water, public transport, ports, and services – despite a recent reports from around the world that privatization has been a complete failure.

Established a Commission of Audit to rationalize massive cuts to services, health, education, and support a program of extensive privatization.

Is currently attempting to sell Medibank Private, a government corporation that actually makes money for tax payers, by hiring $2000-a-day spin doctors.

Tried to force SPC management to cut workers wages by up to 40% and cancel all conditions in return for any federal funding assistance.

Cancelled Gonski and education reform, and now Christopher Pyne currently has 2 men reviewing a curriculum that took 6 years and over 20,000 submissions to develop in order to reintroduce a more Christian education.

Has cancelled future Trades Training Centres across the nation.

Is signing up to the Trans-pacific partnership, which will give corporations the right to sue Australian state or federal governments if any changes to health, environment or any law impinge on their profits.

Apparently cancelled climate change, and tried to shut down the Clean Energy Finance corp, which is making $200 million per year for the tax payer, while contributing “more than 50 per cent of the emissions abatement that’s required for the bipartisan 2020 target”

Cancelled Equal access fibre-to-the-home NBN, and now cities, suburbs, regional centres and the bush are going to miss out on the economic and social benefits of broadband infrastructure.

Has broken 25 promises in 150 days; after spending 3 years hounding PM Gillard for breaking 1.

In conclusion

In Rome the death of Caesar saw the end of the Roman Republic and the rise of the non-democratic Roman Empire.  This Ides of March sees similar creeping imperial forces on the warpath against the foundations of Australian democracy.  If Liberal-National parties are elected in the upcoming state elections the voters will suffer similar fates to those listed above.

It has fallen to the voters in Tasmania and South Australia to not simply ‘punish’ the Labor governments; but rather consider the very real difference between a progressive parliament or a regressive conservative one.

You get out of government what you put in.  Just ask any lobbyist.

More robust public debate brings more transparent and effective government.

More community involvement and regular petitions brings better policy development.

More awareness of the impact of public policy brings better economic growth and social progress.

Unlike their Liberal opponents, progressive Labor governments will listen to their electorates.

Don’t vote away your freedoms.  Let them know what you want – and get them to do it.

Tony Abbott builds: a road

imageThe Liberals went to the election with a few slogans; they would cut the waste, they would then start to build things with this being achieved by “cutting the waste”. This according to yet more sloganeering, would be Real Solutions.

Sparse indeed were questions from our mainstream media such as which waste?  And what are your alternatives? But most especially how are you, the Liberals planning to pay for extreme policies such as $75,000 for millionaire moms? A few dollars saved by sacking a swag load of government employees served as window dressing; populist in the extreme.

A cynic might suggest that if you have few policies to implement, then you don’t need nearly as many people to do the non-existent work.

Goals were to cancel, demolish, defer and ultimately to do very little whatsoever.

However as “waste” seems to be a priority, here is but one example of Abbott’s idea of waste:

The Coalition will also begin unwinding key “nanny state” agencies such as the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, established to lead the national fight against obesity, alcohol abuse and tobacco use.

Comment from “Livsh“:

“That’s not the half of it . . . there are a large number of other pretty bloody essential agencies that are up for the chop.

Including the flaming AIHW . . . this blows my mind, how the HELL are we supposed to improve the health of Australians if we DON’T KNOW WHAT THEIR HEALTH STATUS IS NOW”.

If one discounts Abbott’s Liberals and assorted barrackers in mainstream, once in a rare while there appears a few who are prepared to seriously look at issues – who are prepared to look at policy not politics. As such, Ross Gittins quotes Ian McAuley, an economist at the University of Canberra:

McAuley argues that, after another round of good luck with the resources boom, we need to secure our long-term prosperity by building a more resilient economy.

McAuley suggests:

”Capital in the form of a row of machines or a fleet of trucks is less important than the capital in the form of ideas, skills and education, capacities to communicate and to work with others – human capital, in other words. It is the knowledge worker who is emerging as the capitalist of our day, but we are a long way from recognising this.”

”We pay far too little attention to our human capital. We still see education expenditure as an expense, or even as a welfare entitlement. And we pay even less attention to our environmental, social and institutional capital.”

Ross Gittins adds, “It’s hard to imagine Abbott has any of these in his field of vision”.

To date Tony Abbott’s investment in human capital has consisted of the promised sacking of tens of thousands of public servants, including those who work in close collaboration with enlisted defence personnel, promises of cuts in funding to universities, under the guise of what he perceives to be “futile research”. The latter in spite of Abbott’s previous statement that he “gets it”, that he gets the idea of universities being “an independent community of scholars“.

Tony Abbott: “Well intentioned outsiders should not be trying to micromanage universities . . .”. Yet hypocritically, it will be he, Tony Abbott who decides that which constitutes “wasteful research”. As reported by University World News,

Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott, elected in a landslide victory in Saturday’s election, has promised to reverse many of the policies implemented by the defeated Labor government over the past six years – including those intended to lessen the impact of climate change.

The National Tertiary Education Union condemned the plan, with president Jeannie Rea describing it as “a direct attack on the academic freedom of researchers working in Australian universities”, a far cry from Abbott’s pre-election promise that “he gets it”.

The answer came to Tony in a mere flash, and that answer was . . . ROADS!

This was in spite of Abbott stating that all projects would be “in close collaboration with Infrastructure Australia”.

We will require all Commonwealth-funded projects worth more than $100 million to undergo a cost-benefit analysis by Infrastructure Australia to ensure the best use of available taxpayer monies.

For Tony, trains are bad:

TONY Abbott has slapped down Denis Napthine, insisting the states will have to fund their own commuter rail infrastructure and leave nation building projects to the commonwealth . . . he rejected Dr Napthine’s claim he had softened his position on funding public transport infrastructure such as the Metro tunnel.

But on the other hand, roads are good:

ROADS are “good for the environment” because cars are able to work efficiently, Tony Abbott has declared while pledging financial support for the Gateway Motorway extension in northern Brisbane.

Roads are not just good, they’re super-splendid:

  • “Better roads means better communities; better roads are good for our economy; they’re good for our society,” he said.
  • “They’re good for our physical and mental health.
  • “They’re even good for the environment because cars that are moving spew out far less pollution than cars that are standing still.”

Roads doubtless also make your whites whiter than white and also act as a preventative for many known causes of tooth decay.

It’s as if Tony Abbott believes that by the Liberals returning to power, this will in itself, solve most of our problems. Build a road, and everything will be fine again. Education, health and indeed our entire human capital are going to rank lowly with this, an Abbott-led government.

At least ‘building a road’ is a policy. Let’s see if he builds it.

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