There have always been incidents of nepotism, rorting, broken promises, moral failures, poor decisions, and even straight out lies, in politics. So why does it feel so bad now?
In the past, despite the shortcomings of the government of the day and the failings of individuals in parliament, there was an overall feeling that progress was being made. Not in all areas at once and certainly not equally across society, but we were generally moving forward.
Until Tony Abbott fell into the leadership of the Liberal party.
From then on in, it has been a constant onslaught of combative negativity, destructive and misleading messaging, and a focus on tearing things down rather than building a better future.
Instead of being reassured, we are told to be fearful – of everything. Labor will steal your savings, the Greens will destroy your job, migrants will never assimilate, criminal refugees will invade the country, dole bludgers will live a carefree life on your hard-earned taxes, renewable energy will cause aged pensioners to die, we will all have to live under Sharia law, a recession is just around the corner. On and on it goes.
Real risks from climate change are ignored. Challenges posed by an aging population, a rapidly changing workplace, poverty and entrenched disadvantage are sailed past with empty slogans and promises delivered to a camera with no plan on how they will be achieved. Instead of assisting poorer countries with foreign aid and development programs, we now aim to sell them weapons and develop military bases.
They seem to prefer highlighting differences rather than finding solutions and consequently thousands of asylum seekers, rather than finding a safe haven to begin a new life, have had their lives ruined by political games.
Even when we do make some small steps forward, like the marriage equality legislation, any hope of real progress is dashed by the government supporting the right of people to still discriminate and getting hysterical about school programs promoting respectful relationships. Teachers who had hoped to make all children feel valued are now labelled as gender whisperers by a Prime Minister who wouldn’t have a fucking clue.
As Australian society has become less religious, our parliament has gone in the opposite direction with religious groups making a concerted, and successful, effort to gain political influence. We have politicians who think the right of people to harass women at abortion clinics is greater than a woman’s right to her own reproductive health and choice.
We have been offered road maps on how to negotiate the future – the Uluru Statement from the Heart, the IPCC report, the ACOSS budget submission, to name a few – but they are ignored as those with the most powerful vehicles hurtle down the Money Highway.
Wealth creation, wealth accumulation and wealth protection seem to be the sole aim of a government whose only measure of progress is numbers on a balance sheet – numbers that show nothing about how we are meeting the needs of individuals and groups within our society.
“It is not our sexual preferences, the color of our skin, the language we speak, nor the religion we practice that creates friction, hatred and wars in society. It is our words and the words of our leaders that can create that disparity.” – Yehuda Berg
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