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Tag Archives: Tony Abbott news

An Open Letter to Joe Hockey

Dear Joe Hockey,

Back in 2012, when you said the age of entitlement was over, I was so relieved. I was relieved that highly-paid politicians like Tony Abbott would no longer think it acceptable to charge tax-payers for personal book tours. I was relieved that filthy rich politicians like Malcolm Turnbull, and like yourself, would put an end to ethically-suspect rental schemes, where your tax-payer funded Canberra housing allowance is paid to your spouses for investment properties they have cleverly put in their names. Which you will no doubt benefit from once again when they sell. I was also relieved to hear that this sense of entitlement would also be finished for the families of rich politicians, when the likes of Tony Abbott would say it was not acceptable to accept a secret scholarship for his daughter’s education. Nor a refund on a non-refundable deposit paid on a rented flat without proper due diligence that any other non-entitled member of the public is in no position to demand. Nor lavish trips to the Melbourne Cup to hob-knob with celebrities which even you can no doubt see is not in the public interest and therefore not an entitlement that should be charged to the tax-payer. Because these are the best examples I have ever seen of a sense of entitlement which is so entrenched and seemingly innate that it’s like an incurable disease that seems to have no end. So again, congratulations on declaring an end to it.

And oh how I wish I could leave this letter here. But I can’t. And you know why I can’t. Because I am mistaken. I am not mistaken that you wish to end the age of entitlement. What is clear is that you do in fact want to end what you call entitlement. The problem is, your definition of the problem of entitlement in our culture, and my definition, are completely different things. From the budget you’ve handed down, and from your recent statements about poor people’s spending habits on petrol (which no one misinterpreted, you really should own your mistakes Joe), it’s clear that you think entitlement is our community’s idea of rights. Rights to quality education. Rights to quality healthcare. Rights to a clean and sustainable environment. Rights to a social safety net when things go wrong. Rights to live in a community where it’s possible to be born poor, but to better our circumstances through hard work, encouragement and support from those around us. All these rights are what you call ‘a sense of entitlement’ aren’t they Joe? And aren’t these rights the things you would ideally like to end? Isn’t your budget, built on a foundation of lies about a non-existent budget-emergency, your campaign to kill the very culture that provides Australians with rights to all of these things that any first-world, educated, well-resourced and fair country like Australia should strive to protect? Isn’t your end of the age of entitlement just code for a user-pays capitalist small-government, tax-free wonder-land?

Well, had I known you meant to end this definition of entitlement, I would never have felt relief. You need a reality check Joe. Rights are not entitlements. And someone like you, with your family background, would surely understand this if you ever cared to think about it, perhaps while you’re enjoying a quiet sit and a cigar. On the profile on your website, you have published this:“Joe Hockey was born in North Sydney, as the youngest of four children. His father was born in Bethlehem of Armenian and Palestinian parentage and his Mum in Chatswood. His family worked hard running a small business on the North Shore, beginning with a deli in Chatswood and later, a real estate agency in Naremburn.” So you like to portray your family story as the classic ‘we pulled ourselves up from the bootstraps’ tale of social mobility. And like so many who have come before you having found riches and success in your careers, you now seem hell bent on destroying mobility for others by burning the ladder of opportunity that you climbed to the top. And that’s what you really meant when you said it is time to end the age of entitlement.

You’ve got it so wrong Joe. Social mobility is not an entitlement. Access to social mobility is a right. And it’s a right Australians will, when they wake up to you, fight to save. You and your rich Liberal Party chums portray the true meaning of entitlement through your little glass tower of privilege where you think it’s ok to simultaneously reap the rewards of tax-payer funded wealth, while destroying the rights of the community by wrecking the public policies designed to keep the playing field level. Shame on you Joe Hockey. Shame on you and your entitled Liberal government.

Yours Sincerely

Victoria Rollison

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Prime Minister, Why haven’t you called Putin?

Tony Abbott you are weak. When interviewed by Fran Kelly on ‘Insiders’ this morning you were asked if you had called Vladimir Putin. You said you hadn’t called the Russian President over the murder of at least 28 Australians. You gave no indication that you intended to. Why not? Are you too frightened? You say you have spoken to the Russian Trade Minister. Really? What a pathetic reply to a genuine opportunity to show the world that you view the deaths of innocent Australians sufficiently important enough to get on the phone and demand answers. You are clearly not up to the job you have been elected to do.

Putin 2

Putin: image by telegraph.co.uk

You haven’t even spoken to any of the families of the victims. You are waiting for them to ask you to call. You are pathetic. You appear so out of your league in the face of a world tragedy. You are further from a national leader than we have ever seen. Certain elements of the media are giving you credit for your unambiguous condemnation of this act of terrorism and your criticism of the Russian government. How easy is it to mouth-off from a safe distance? Leadership is being pro-active. If any of your advisers were worth their salt, they would have advised you to get on the phone. Did they? If they did, why haven’t you?

All this talk about not inviting Putin to the G20 in November is nothing more than sabre-rattling and a convenient deflection from the proper response of face to face or voice to voice contact.

You owe the relatives of the victims a proper response to our nation’s outrage.

For Christ’s sake show some leadership!

 

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The Weird World Of Tony Abbott’s Australia

While Googling Tony Abbott – now there’s something I wouldn’t have imagined myself doing twenty five years ago – I came across an interesting quote that I thought was refreshingly honest:

“It’s my job between now and polling day to remind the Australian people just what a hopeless, unreliable, untrustworthy, dishonest, deceptive Government this has been. It just doesn’t get democracy.”

Unfortunately, on closer examination, I discovered that the quote was from the Alan Jones program, and it was made in July, 2010. Unfortunate, because I thought this might be the beginning of a more honest approach by the government, where they actually admit that the Budget would be back in surplus if we simply went back to the tax rates of 2007. You know, back when John Howard was in charge, before Labor slashed our taxes.

Still, we are getting rid of that great big tax on everything, so that should help the Budget bottom line. I did hear a couple of Liberal politicians express the view that balancing the Budget would be a lot easier with the Carbon Tax gone. I wonder if they realise that the government doesn’t actually have to pay the Carbon Tax and that it receives the revenue. In fact, according to Liberal pamphlets, it receives an enormous amount of revenue from this source. But hey, let’s abolish this “King Kong” of taxes (to quote Mr Abbott again) and make pensioners pay to visit the doctor.

Yes, I’m being emotive. After all, some of these pensioners would still be working once the pension age goes to seventy. As Mr Abbott said just last week:

“We think this is right and proper and we think older people should be economic contributors, not just social and cultural contributors.”

But back to the Carbon Tax. In reporting Clive Palmer’s decision to back its abolition, the Herald-Sun – in a straight news story, under the Headline “The Weird Al and Clive Show” – began with: “Climate change scaremonger Al Gore and big polluter Clive Palmer combined in a bizarre press conference as Mr Palmer revealed revealed he would back the Government’s bid to abolish the carbon tax – with conditions.” (Emphasis added.)

For some reason, we were treated to a list of Mr Palmer’s assets, as well as being told that Mr Gore used the phrase “climate crisis” three times in his “3min 30sec speech” (sic).

Mm, I’m waiting for the article that begins “Budget Crisis Scaremonger Joe Hockey” or when the phrase “Big Polluter” is applied to a member of one of Tony Abbott’s advisory groups.

The article went on to suggest that journalists were wondering whether Mr Gore had been paid to attend. However, it left me wondering, whether the writer of the article, Ellen Whinnett, was paid to put such a slant on it, or whether writing such tabloid rubbish is consistent with her principles.

 

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The Budget: All cruelty springs from weakness

Image source: laberal.blogspot.com

Image source: laberal.blogspot.com

 

It can’t be denied any longer, conservatives really do believe they have no responsibility to the vulnerable, and it is perfectly acceptable to the Abbott government that those who can least afford it endure the most harsh of financial limitations.

This piece in the Sydney Morning Herald reveals that while high income couples stand to lose scarcely at all, families on benefits may lose up to 10% of their income. Known as “Detailed family outcomes,” this information was withheld from the budget, contrary to custom, by Joe Hockey, obviously because it reveals the Abbott government lie that everyone will be doing their fair share of the heavy lifting allegedly required to get the budget back on track.

Abbott also stated in an interview with Alison Carabine on Radio National Breakfast this morning that the highly paid, such as politicians, judges and senior public servants, will suffer a pay freeze for twelve months, costing Abbott something like a $6000 addition to his $500,000 plus benefits salary package. Not even the most witless among us could possibly believe this can be in any way comparable to the situation of a young person without resources denied Newstart benefits, and low-income families and pensioners having to choose between a middy, a treat for the kids, the doctor’s bill, and medicine, for which they will also have to pay more.

Pensioners also stand to lose extras such as free car registration, and reductions in rates, water and electricity. These concessions were made available to the people in the community who were recognised as vulnerable and needing assistance by governments unlike this one, governments who were capable of making such acknowledgements.

The question I am waiting for a journalist to ask the Prime Minister and the Treasurer is, why are they placing an intolerable burden on the most vulnerable while the wealthy are called upon to do comparatively very little?

What is it in the conservative psychology that makes such unfairness acceptable to them?

No country can afford to be governed by people who hate and fear vulnerability, as do these Australian conservatives. Far from being adult such people are dangerously immature, incapable of understanding any life experience other than their own. Convinced of its superiority, this government asks little or nothing of those best placed to contribute to the country’s needs, while demanding that those least able, relinquish what little they already have. In other words, the Abbott government is determined to punish the vulnerable for their vulnerability.

All cruelty springs from weakness, declared the philosopher Seneca. Wealth and power do not guarantee strength of character, and it’s hard to detect that quality in Abbott and Hockey. Strength of character requires the ability to identify vulnerability and refrain from taking advantage of it. Hockey and Abbott have indeed identified the vulnerable, and have proceeded to take the most appalling advantage, of the kind they would never dream of imposing on the wealthy and comfortable.

Conservatives are, in general, weak and cruel. Our government is weak and cruel. We are in dangerous times, with this weak and cruel government. As we have seen with the treatment of asylum seekers in this country, (and this has been demonstrated by both major parties) once the bar has been lowered for the treatment of a particular group of human beings, it is very easy to escalate ill-treatment.

This budget is devastating for the vulnerable, and pays no mind to their survival. This budget will lower the bar on the treatment of vulnerable people in our society. It will become easier to treat them even more harshly, to consider them even less worthy, to demonise them as threats and parasites, just as has been done to asylum seekers in the last fourteen years. And in the way of things, as history has demonstrated over and over again, ill-treatment becomes normalised, and scapegoats become the bitter focus of a community’s fears and discontents.

Beware of cruel governments. They will only become more cruel. Because they are, at their heart, cowardly and weak, and when the cowardly and weak attain power, the vulnerable will be the first they destroy.

This article was first posted on Jennifer’s blog “No Place For Sheep” and reproduced with permission.

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