The first step towards fixing a problem is to admit you have one.
If you have an addiction to drugs, alcohol, smoking or gambling, you have to accept that you have a problem in order to take the first steps towards breaking the addiction.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you have to recognise the behaviour as unacceptable in order to move forward.
If you are suffering from chronic depression or anxiety, you need to admit you need help to combat it.
In order to remain fit and healthy, you must take responsibility. Have regular check-ups. If your lifestyle is contributing to health problems, change it.
If your business is failing, you can’t just carry on doing the same thing.
You don’t ignore the leak in the roof or the smoke coming out of the oven.
So why does none of this apply to government who has the health of the nation in their hands?
We pretend that the Great Barrier Reef is doing fine. We pay a lot to kill a few crown of thorn starfish and we talk about cleaning up plastic and demand that any mention of the reef being stressed be removed from international reports because we have a glossy brochure with some lovely pictures and lots of promises. Astonishingly, or perhaps not, it does not mention climate change.
The Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan was released in 2015 to satisfy the Unesco World Heritage Centre, which was considering adding the Great Barrier Reef to its list of world heritage sites in danger, that its condition could be improved.
Two years later, experts from government science agencies tasked with advising on the implementation of the plan said that improving the natural heritage values of the reef was no longer possible.
“There is great concern about the future of the reef, and the communities and businesses that depend on it, but hope still remains for maintaining ecological function over the coming decades. Members agreed that in our lifetime and on our watch, substantial areas of the Great Barrier Reef and the surrounding ecosystems are experiencing major long-term damage which may be irreversible unless action is taken now.”
So what does the government do? Approve huge new coal mines, whose produce will be shipped through the reef, and push for approval of great swathes of land-clearing in the catchment area. Oh, and yet another feasibility study, this one into opening new coal-fired power stations.
The cyclical nature of the climate has altered. There is an undeniable warming trend with all that entails – worse droughts, bushfires, heatwaves, cyclones, floods, hail storms, sea level rises, increasing ocean salinity, spread of diseases.
The government reacts with flood levies, disaster relief payments, drought assistance, cheap loans to maintain unsustainable farms, more extraction of water for irrigators and miners.
They talk a lot about jobs, bragging about how a record number of Australians are in work. As Malcolm Farr pointed out on Insiders, that’s only because there are a record number of Australians.
Once again, the government is pretending everything is fine when millions are living in poverty, wages have stagnated, job insecurity has gotten much worse, and underemployment figures are at record highs for recent times.
The only time you hear the government talk about housing is the necessity of protecting tax concessions for “mum and dad” investors and keeping house prices rising to boost wealth.
With over 110,000 people homeless, public housing in crisis, the residential construction industry contracting, first home buyers priced out of the market, and city rents unaffordable, the discussion has been highjacked by those with a “property portfolio”. Some people just long for a bed under a roof, an address.
We have an aged care crisis that is only going to get worse. It’s all very well to have another Royal Commission but it is painfully obvious, literally, that the sector needs greater regulation starting with a staff to resident ratio and better training for staff.
But this government’s aim is to reduce regulations, despite the daily stories of businesses engaging in immoral and illegal conduct, ripping off workers and customers to maximise profits, creating pollution and waste and using resources with no regard for the environment, and paying financial advisers to reduce taxation.
One of the few examples of the government acknowledging that we actually have a problem is in closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. But every move they make only serves to intensify it.
You don’t teach people to accept responsibility by taking it away from them. The cashless welfare card will never solve the cause of the problems. Truancy officers won’t make kids want to go to school. You don’t instil pride by rejecting the idea of people having a Voice in their own self-determination. You don’t improve child welfare by locking their mother up for not paying a fine. You don’t reduce incarceration rates by imposing mandatory sentences. You don’t increase economic participation by closing down services to remote communities.
This government is addicted to ideology and slogans. Until they start being honest about the reality of the problem’s we face as a nation, we will continue down the slide of an increasingly divided and fractured society where selfishness and greed are the only motives and more and more people fall through the cracks. The beauty of our natural wonders and our unique wildlife will be lost.
The government has delivered tax cuts. Some of us who already have a job will get an extra 20 bucks a week.
So fucking what?
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