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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.

29 comments

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  1. diannaart

    May be next (and there will be a next time) use a pic of evil capitalist bastards including middle aged white female – if you can find any. Just tryin’ to be fair ‘n all.

    Labor – you are being given a chance – get your shit together and people will vote and the Greens will support you, but while you run as neo-con lite, no one wants you.

  2. Tracie

    Flyers with this information should be mailed to every household in Tasmania and South Australia, as well as being shown on electricity poles everywhere and handed to everyone on election day. Perhaps then it will slowly sink in.

  3. john921fraser

    <

    The so called conservatives are making war on their own population.

    More than ever the 1% owners of Australian wealth are being looked after to the detriment of the rest of Australia.

  4. John Hand

    Do we have in Queensland Pubs , Drinking , Drunks , and free Mothers ? …..we pay for every think but …Air ports is like a flee Markets , roads ? the hall State is Sink , Liberals or Labor both you have no idea were is the Door ?.

  5. CMMC

    Conservatives are already mutating into Morlocks, as H.G.Wells described they will dwell underground, surfacing only for predation upon us.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morlock

  6. Tracie

    CMMC I was thinking of the LNP followers as Morlocks just the other day!

  7. jasonblog

    Thank-you for a thought provoking blog-post. It makes some good points, especially regarding the blasé attitudes of contemporary voters. I disagree with the assertion that “Australians never had to fight for its democratic freedoms” in so much that the history of British settlement in Australia was fraught with political tensions. The establishment of the ALP is testimony to that. It didn’t just happen it required diligent activism. As the author correctly notes “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.”

    The crux of the matter is quite simple – people need to get involved at a party level. People need to know more about history and be more aware of what is at stake. Whatever the reason for political malaise, apathy, antipathy, whatever it may be, at the end of the day political disengagement comes down to a selfishness that treats with contempt the sacrifices made through-out history by people who fought for equality and fairness.

    I find the language interesting. The description of “libertarian conservative governments” would normally suggest an oxymoron, but somehow they co-exist. The common description of Tony Abbott as being conservative is wildly misleading. He has no time for conserving contemporary democratic institutions. He despises Australian political tradition. He is a Reactionary. He is a Radical. But he certainly isn’t a Conservative as established in the Australian context. He is an English born Australian with significant identity issues. He can only understand Australia through the myopia of his Sydney North Shore life and beyond that is the vast Australia that the great bulk of the rest of us live in. Abbott has no empathy for the Australian experience because he has no tangible history anchoring him to it. That is what he has in common with first generation Australians such as Andrew Bolt, Janet Albrechtsen, and Nick Cater. They are interlopers who vociferously drown out the more laconic and respecting Australian voice that has a sense of its place in history and doesn’t look to Europe for existential meaning or approval.

    I agree that Australian politics needs more community involvement & it is time to reclaim a truly authentic Australian voice. A voice that respectfully recognises difference and seeks to build a tolerant society.

    I’m not sure that the ALP really has a role to play in that anymore. If people are serious about reclaiming democracy then they should explore the option of other smaller parties and independents. Develop ideas and participate in the community in a meaningful way.

  8. Rod Bakes

    Tasmanians ,Should never forget ,47% pay rise .Liberals awarded themselves when Tassie was on it,s knees , the last time these self serving mob were in power ,I still have a bumper sticker from that era !! 47% Never Forget ,I haven,t !!!

  9. Stephen Tardrew

    Lookin good!

    I mean things can’t get much worse can they.

    Waiting for the merry go round upswing.

    Seems to be stuck.

    Damn can’t work it out.

    Oh shit there it is Joe’s got his foot on the brake.

  10. edward eastwood

    You are so right in your comments and assessment of the ALP diannaart and jasonblog. With Bowen’s jelly-backed response to Hockey’s announcements at the G20, coupled with its absolute silence over the incidents at Manus Island, its clear that the Labor Party is not worth a monkey’s toss as far as being an effective opposition is concerned. Buzzzt is correct in arguing that what is needed is a mass movement across a broad spectrum of the community. This however, will take some time to gain foothold and cohesion.
    In the meanwhile as Buzzzt suggests, voters would be better served by the Greens and minor parties.
    The Greens are weighing their options to run on an open ticket in the Victorian state elections and forgo nominating preferences ( which are usually directed to the ALP) in response to Labor’s support for the construction of the East-West tunnel.
    No more of this Neo-liberal bullshit from the NLP
    No more Neo-liberal Lite from the ALP who should know better but have clearly forgotten where they came from and what they’re supposed to stand for.
    In your next state election, vote Greens or minority parties and keep democracy alive!

  11. allenmcmahon

    To still consider Labor to be a progressive party is a sick joke. Ask asylum seekers or single mothers with children over 8 years of age. The fact that Labor is a slightly better option than the LNP does not make it progressive it’s a center right party led by a backstabbing union hack who is as animated and vocal as a tailors dummy.

  12. Don Winther

    As Abbott said ” its all for sale ” and now we can’t protest in Victoria.
    Australians are in real trouble.
    How much for the Snowy Mountain Scheme with 75 years water right to unlimited fresh water?
    Ask Tony or Joe.
    Where does all the money go? Ask Joe ( couldn’t lie straight in bed Joe )
    How much do we pay these car salesmen to run and develop our country?
    Campbell Newman gets the same pay as Barack Obama?
    Why don’t we privatise the gov and pay Obama to run Australia, he’s OK.

  13. John.R

    You are right that Australians did not have to fight for our Democracy???? or if you like two swings political system with tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber but Australians now do not get enthusiastic about much in the way of any issue unless they are led up the garden path by the MSM which is pretty well where we are now and the fertiliser is being applies and the light is out in the tunnel. They see our freedoms as being just a natural thing and do not appear to imagine just how many of them are being whittled away nor that any of it effects them.That has a ring to it !
    The time is fast approaching when mr apathy will get shaken out of his cave when he finds out just what a rort the conservative elites have been playing on them when much of their years of work suddenly come to zilch
    In the 60`s and 70`s there was a groundswell for change but the media would report a bit more broadly then what now is passed off as journalism
    Of course the BIG question will be Why did no one see this coming. A lot do,everyone else is still on their knees playing Simon Says……………………….

  14. Looking for real leadership

    We live in a sad society. The Redcliffe by-election in Brisbane on Saturday shows that, in the main, Australians live (and die) by the LNP/ALP dichotomy, and fail to think for themselves. We decide that LNP is no good, so we vote in Labor, despite all their shortcomings, and the ALP candidate’s lack of credentials.

    For some reason we are expected to vote for one party or the other, to the exclusion of all others. This website seems to be populated by a bunch of ALP supporters. I don’t have a problem with that – I used to be one of those. However, please stop fooling yourselves that the ALP have the answers to the world’s problems – they have done some good things at State and Federal level, but don’t kid yourselves that the ALP in various States and federally does not have a list of broken promises and other objectionable decisions as bad as those set out above.

    If you live in a safe seat – I don’t care which party holds it, or who is in power – you have no chance of anything much good happening locally. I was in the Barossa Valley today – one of the safest Liberal areas in the country. On a pole I saw a picture of the ALP candidate – he looked like a schoolkid – and I’ll bet no one in Tanunda or Angaston or anywhere else in the Barossa will receive a door-knock from him, or from the new Liberal candidate (why bother?), despite the complete lack of results over 15+ years from the longstanding retiring Liberal member, Ivan Venning).

    The ALP website doesn’t even have a profile of this guy (Adam Slobodian, I think his name is) on their website, so much does his party think of him!

    Yet in the Elizabeth area (northern Adelaide), the average voter, who is much worse off than the average Barossan voter, will without a shadow of doubt continue to vote Labor on March 15 despite the fact that Labor has been in power for 12 years without any improvement in their living standards – in fact more likely the opposite. Why? Because they think there is no other choice.

    One day Australians will realise that we need people in Parliament a bunch of people that are not beholden to the union movement, to big business, to small business, to farming interests, to mining interests or to anyone else – rather we need a bunch of representatives who listen to the concerns of the people, and deal with them. They might realise that Labor has some good ideas, and some crap ones, and the Libs have some good ideas, and some crap ones as well.

    Maybe we need a government that uses the good ideas, wherever they come from, and ditches the crap ones, and the people who peddle them.

    That would be pretty novel, wouldn’t it?

  15. Rod Bakes

    Labor doesn,t need to attack Abbott now ,AbbottIs digging a great big hole ,In a short space of time ,that hole is going to be so deep ,Abbott will become lost in there . All you that bag labor ,Time down the track ,. Julia ,Kevin & Wayne Swan will be heralded for what they achieved through the GFC .They agree the clawback on single mothers was harsh !!Can you imagine how hard it was to get anything through parliament with Abbott& Pyne ,Day after day harping their negativity & gloom . Whyalla will be wiped off the map .Carbon tax is still here ,Whyalla is too ,last time I looked at a map !!!Abbott couldn,t help himself ,talking down our envious economy to the rest of the world !! Is THat All There Is ,God Help Us !! I think the world sees our plight .What an absolute disgrace to our good country ,s reputation !!

  16. Denisio Fabuloso

    We have proved over and over again we are the stupid country. In South Australia it is most likely we will prove it again. Why do working people vote against their interests so often and so reliably? Are people really this dumb? I see bugger all evidence to the contrary in recent times. As with climate, environment, social justice and any kind of ongoing social equity …there is no hope. We’re fundamentally rooted now – and it’s all our own work. Suck up that political effluent Australia. You voted for it… and you deserve it.

  17. mikestasse

    DESPITE the tough-talk from the two major parties, the Greens appear to be putting a scare into some of their rivals as the election approaches.

    Polling analysis commissioned by Greens Leader Nick McKim suggests the Greens could pick up an extra two seats, one in Denison and one in Franklin, giving them seven seats and Labor six.

    Even Liberal Leader Will Hodgman seemed to consider Mr McKim to be a credible threat, making mention of the possibility of “Premier McKim” during a visit to Tas Live Abalone with PM Tony Abbott.

    “We understand that if people vote for Labor, the Palmer United Party or the Greens, the very likely outcome will be another minority government with Nick McKim as its leader,” Mr Hodgman said.
    http://www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania-state-election-2014/greens-on-march-says-poll-report/story-fnl83ie0-1226835000904

    GO THE GREENS!

  18. mikestasse

    @ Looking for real leadership…….. SPOT ON!

    In the by election for Rudd’s seat, there were 11 candidates, as often happens in a by election. The Greens got 10%, the independents and microparties combined got 7% if my memory serves me right, and the laborals got the rest.

    What I found interesting is that while the Family First candidate was a complete waste of space, nearly all the other independents and microparties candidates actually had far more visionary things to say than either of the laboral candidates who did no more than repeat their parties’ platitudes.

    With nothing to either win or lose in this by election, the electorate simply toed the party lines…… what a gigantic waste of an opportunity. Really sad……

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Yt7H2bFS5o]

  19. doctorrob54

    AllenMcmahon and EdwardEastwood are 100% correct,Labor has lost the plot and are so insignificantly different to the libturds they are no longer an alternative choice.When Labor attacked Hockey for not signing on to sell Grain Corp.and the silence over the TPP agreement Abbott looks like signing,in the next few weeks is deafening.And here we are with Bowen and his mates telling us how important Manus Is.and other off shore punishment camp are of major importance to the refugee solution.Can anyone remember Labor jumping up and down telling the USA to GFwe are not going to Iraq or Afghanistan,no,neither can I.The only one telling the truth was Andrew Wilkie.
    Yes I know many will scream me down and attack,well I don’t GAF any more,the only Party with any moral substance any more are the Greens.They may not be the ideal but they are better by far than the two alternate choices.

  20. CMMC

    I vote Green. Not everyone on The Left is a card-carrying Labor Party supporter.

  21. john921fraser

    <

    I don't vote extreme evangelical right. Not everyone in Australia is a lunatic.

  22. allenmcmahon

    The idea that Labor represents working class interests in laughable 70% of labor politicians are either lawyers or from the union movement have never done a hard days work in their life much like their LNP counterparts.

    The union movement is riddled with corruption particularly in relation to the building industry, A royal commission is announced and the cry from the left is not one of condemnation for ripping off members but bleating like sheep at the likely return of work choices. The few commentators on the right are correct when they accuse many of the commentators of being Labor apologists.

    I am from a working class background started work at thirteen and have been a strong supporter of both the unions and Labor, for most of my adult life as has most of my family before me. Did not vote for either major party at the last election and doubt that I will ever support them again. I have no party that represents my interests and can only register a protest vote by voting for the Greens and giving my preference the non sitting member.

    Its about time that people stopped making excuses for Labor and the union movement and held them to account but that about as likely as 1,000,000 new jobs coming from neoliberal policies, unless working for the dole as a job which would not surprise me at all.

  23. doctorrob54

    And unless Labor get back to what they once represented more people will swing to the Greens or down to earth independents.The Greens are what the Labor party were 25yrs. ago,Labor are as the Liberals were and the Libturds have become a Fascist Party,more extreme than the Tea Party that presently rule the Republican Party in the good ol USA.
    Watching Richard Marles pathetic attempt to justify Manus Is.importance in stopping asylum seekers from drowning.This spin shit is making me sick.No other nation on Earth outsource their responsibility in fulfilling humanitarian obligations agreed to years ago.We must stop pandering to the racist few who make the loudest noise and get back to on shore processing and make it fast and efficient,and allow these people to settle in our society,find work and become productive,tax paying members of our communities.NOW!!!!!

  24. allenmcmahon

    @john921fraser

    And lets not attack the unelected factional leaders who control Labor but save our righteous indignation for the unelected Credlin.

  25. john921fraser

    <

    @AllemMcMahon

    Notice newman coming out and using his wife again ?

    March 2012 State election he did the same thing.

    Completely doused any media reporting of how badly the LNP did in Redcliffe byelection.

    Strange though how nothing was reported on Saturday night straight after the "incident".

  26. allenmcmahon

    @john921fraser

    There must be some weird people in Redcliffe there is Newman on the verge creating a utopian paradise in Queensland and this is the thanks he gets.

    Still Its his own fault as he could have used the VLAD laws, political parties certainly qualify as criminal organisations, arrest the voters, a toss of a coin to decide the winner and at least it would have given the Libs a 50/50 chance.

  27. John.R

    Under our current electoral system the only way to send a message to the clowns trying to run the circus is to vote for an independant whose preferences do not go to a major party.When neither of them can get their hands on power they may twig that something is not right but I doubt they will realise it is them. They will want to blame the system which they feel should be structured to give either of them power.

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