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The first step towards fixing a problem is to admit you have one

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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  1. Geoff Andrews

    How the heck did you get hold of Penny Wong’s speech to the Senate due next week?
    I don’t think you’ll be getting a call from the AFP though: I believe the speech was under review because it had too much mongrel.
    Fer gawd’s sake offer your services as a speechwriter will ya?
    On second thoughts, it might have been Albo’s speech.

  2. HumeAndTwain

    Kaye Lee … a social observer who gets right to the jugular of problems facing Australia. Would that we had more people in Parliament who had such clarity of vision.

  3. totaram

    Kaye Lee: I have now realised the severity of the problem. All of what you have written is true and very well thought out. However, the “voters” aren’t going to read it or see it or engage with it. That is why, as I kept repeating, the primary vote of the coalition remains stuck at around 38% on the whole. Looked at more closely, things are worse, and the last election was a proof of that.
    What can we do? I have no idea, but I just thought I would put the problem out there for everyone to see. After all, if you don’t admit you have a problem, how will you solve it?

  4. Kaye Lee

    I don’t think you are allowed say ‘f*cking’ in parliament. I would happily write speeches for them but I would much prefer some honesty and action to more speeches. We can’t wait for a Labor government. This mob have to admit we have problems and start fixing them. They are in their third term. We ALL know what is wrong. Are we willing to help fix it? Are they? The last election makes me wonder.

  5. Freethinker

    Why do not look at the issue in a different way and think that the government does not govern for us and has an agenda of their own?
    Why we do not accept that the majority of the politicians join a party where they can fulfill their agenda, that they are looking first for the security of their seat, second for the party and third our interest?
    If we analyze the situation like this we will see that their last 6 years have been excellent for them.
    1) On the first election that they won they have managed to divide the electorate by exploiting the ignorance, selfishness, and greed.
    2) Exploiting that greed they have limited more the freedom of the people by making them more prisoners of their greed for consumerism and by providing easy credits the people have mortgaged their option to fight for their own rights.
    They introduce hate, bigotry, and fear.
    3) They have increased the gap between the rich and the poor and with the opposition pretending that they were going to attack the big corporations that do not pay tax. They have kept wages low and the union movement weak.
    They have looked well after their “mates” and have done unethical deals.
    4) They have tested the electorate by having two more elections and won.
    IMO, they are on a winning run, 3 years more and they are set. Do not expect any changes soon.
    The damage, in many cases irreversible, do not concern them is our problem and the electorate asked for more.
    IMO, the change will come from the people when the majority have lost all their possession of which they are prisoners when “taste” what it is poverty and injustice when they have learned that they have been cheated.
    My opinion is base on what I have lived before in another country in which the middle class lost all.
    PS. My apologies for my bad English.

  6. Sailor Mick

    Kaye Lee – your insights & articles are amazing!
    So far, I have seen nothing/zero/zilch since the election, from the ALP, that seems to indicate a change of direction, or to try a new approach.
    A new ALP leader, who seems to be another ‘cookie cutter’ politician, with no new ideas.
    The ALP response to the Tax Cut Legislation was pitiful. Talk about giving your opposite number (both the Coalition & the MSM) a stick to beat you with. How on earth could the opposition end up so badly on the back foot as they did?
    Has nobody told them that if they continue doing the same thing, they’ll get the same result?
    As I’ve observed in other people’s comments, on other recent articles, the ALP needs to stick to simple messages, & get a bit of ‘mongrel’ into their interactions with the MSM, making them deal in facts, & in holding the Coalition to account.

  7. wam

    A great read, Kaye and as usual spot on for our community.
    Sadly you can ignore roof leaks and smoke as long as you don’t live there, have no access to those who do and don’t listen.to the academics’ theorising.
    And for fcking sure no politician lives within $200k of there.
    How many labor people do you know who live there?
    How many poorly paid labor voters that are in the 50% below average intelligence, watch ch7, 9 and sky and are frightened of losing their job or don’t have one are friends on your facebook?

    If you want to deliver such absolutely important teachings you need KISS and an audience.

    Anyone with any idea where the audience isn’t?

    ps I have been railing against the school attendance cop out since it became the NT Aboriginal grant focus last century and taken up by local clp and canberra lnp twits.
    For my money a white man’s general education is a waste of time for the majority of students black white or brindle and until an education department realises there are things that can be learnt from Aborigines rather than ignoring the education already in the community and has the system LEARN from Aborigines
    The most obvious travesty is the teacher who only speaks english teaching in a community where english is not essential.
    The education department’s solution is bi-lingual the teacher speaks english everyong else speaks the ‘bi’.

  8. Florence Howarth

    What problem is the welfare card addressing? In my experience, most on welfare manage their own money well. When on Newstart you are not going to be able to buy much of anything,

  9. Matters Not


    could the opposition end up so badly on the back foot as they did

    It’s what happens when you don’t have the numbers, when morale is at rock bottom, when you know that you lost an unlosable election (and possibly the next two), when trust is in very short supply and your designated Leader lacks charisma.

    Given all those ‘facts’, they are not doing too badly.

  10. Matters Not


    white man’s general education is a waste of time for the majority of students black white or brindle

    Perhaps. So how do you decide who is in the majority? And at what age? Because those decisions have profound consequences.

    And as you would be aware the problem you identify is not peculiar to Australia. In the wider world there is not much demand for … so much which might be learned from your implied curriculum

  11. Wendy Tubman

    Sailor Mick, unfortunately what I have seen since the election is the ALP desperately looking to change their direction – walking away from the good policies they put forward at the election but which were killed by the lies of the LNP, backed by the Palmer $60m and the Murdoch press. I don’t want the ALP to change direction. I want them to continue to stand and fight for more equality; a more positive and responsible response to the greatest threat, climate change; a progressive approach to taxation; public transport; free education and health for those needing it etc.

    Unfortunately, I see an ALP seemingly trying to emulate the LNP on the grounds that the LNP ‘won’.
    I recognise that their reality is that they are in a minority whenever the right-leaning cross bench side with the government, but that does not mean that they have to smile and give up, Why not accept the LNP policy but then explain what they would have done instead.

    If they cannot change the LNP policy, then they should lose the vote in the House, but do not appear to agree with the LNP.

    Supporting the opening of the Galilee Basin was irresponsible, catastrophic and unnecessary.

    Finally, a newcomer to AIMN, I too praise the great work of Kaye Lee. Thanks Kaye. One tiny, weeny, comment – it’s increased ocean acidification that’s destroying the GBR, not increasing salinity. Hopefully, this time around, UNESCO will call the government on their failure to address the Reef’s problems – especially the primary threat to it, climate change.

  12. Sailor Mick

    Matters Not (re your comments, at 19:36)
    The thrust of Kaye Lee’s article is about recognising a problem, acknowledging it, then making changes to address the issues.
    If the Strategic Plan of the new ALP Leader, & Leadership Team, is to: wallow in the election loss, have poor team morale, not trust each other & not work as a team, you may well be correct about the next two election results. They seem to be off to a great start!
    The ALP, & the country, will be in for a real flogging, if they use their Tax Cut Legislation response strategy, as a template for the next three years.

  13. Sailor Mick

    Wendy Tubman (re your comments, at 19:56)
    I am not advocating that the ALP change direction policy wise, but they must change their approach to how they articulate them.
    They need to keep the message clear, simple, & factual, so that the ‘lies’ get no traction or credibility.
    They certainly didn’t do that with their response to the Tax Cut Legislation. They fluffed around, with every representative who appeared in the media having a different story. They then voted for the Legislation! (how dumb was that)
    Kay Lee’s articles are an excellent example of how facts work so well.

  14. Matters Not

    Sailor Mick re:

    if they use their Tax Cut Legislation response strategy

    Strategy? Generally speaking, political parties don’t do ‘strategy’ – rather they adopt ‘tactics’ – an emphasis on what might work in the short term, given that politics these days operates on a day-to-day basis to match the ‘news cycle’.

    It might be (reasonably) argued that Shorten had a coherent grand plan articulated over a number of years and was perhaps good social policy into the bargain, but the fact remains the election was lost. I suspect that the new Leader will be wary of strategic planning in the immediate future and instead steer clear of creating potential skeletons that will come back to haunt him.

    Give him a break. (Not that I think he’s PM material,)

  15. wam

    I expect I am talking to the ‘matters not’ with experience in Aboriginal communities where the english speaking white teachers are in the minority but the schooling they deliver is all that the department delivers to the Aborigineswho receive the same as everyone and what they give back is ignored by the system. Swim or fck off is the norm.
    I suggested the big community schools be paired with the city school to compare the service. Short thrift should an Aborigine compare their service to a city school don’t be stupid wam.

    My philosophy is if you cannot learn from the kids in your class you cannot teach.

    Ask teachers what they can learn from Aborigines?

    I was taking a group of community based (Brelyuen, West Arnhem, Barkly and Kalkaringi) year 11 Darwin high students boarding in Kormilda to tour south west victoria.centred in Cobden. I was asked to speak at the local primary schools whilst the students attended the two local secondary schools. All the boys declined and only the 5 grade 11 girls and the one year 12 girl volunteered.
    This dumb troll thought that everyone knows the round ‘fires burning’ so I would get the Gunbalanya primary kids to sing it in Kunwinjku.
    It sounded great. But when I played it to the kids they laughed their heads off. I was seething but these poor kids had never heard such sounds. I stuck to johnny mullagh etc and left the sounds out.

    I should have known because my rabbottians don’t like foreign films as the sound offends them and they can’t read the subtitles quick enough.

    Who saw dr brian tonight?
    Did Venus global warming not scare you?
    Easier to demonstrate than climate change, don’t you think, crow????

  16. Stephengb

    Kaye Lee, the clarity of your analysis, never ceases to,amaze me. This one is just spot on the button.

    Meanwhile I read the comment by Feethinker and realised that he she was absolutely correct

    Poor country Australia.

  17. corvus boreus

    senile coprolite,
    Call it what you want; climate change or global warming.
    If you think that pointing out the hotness of Venus will somehow help convince your moronic mates that human activities are altering the climate of Earth, go for it.

  18. Kaye Lee

    All this government ever talks about is investors. They are like parents who are so fixated on watching their bank account grow that they forget to feed the kids, let alone make sure they are safely tucked up in bed.

    A sad line from the latest budget….

    “There will be $3.5 billion over 15 years from 2018-19 for the government’s Climate Solutions Package.”

    That’s $233 million a year.

  19. Freethinker

    Thank you Stephengb, IMO until we do not accept that is a waste of time asking them to change we will be going on and on with expectations that they will never happen.
    They have their path and direction which it is opposing to ours.

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