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The LNP exists to serve the rich. Everyone else gets “thoughts and prayers”

The recent budget has underscored that the Coalition government has abandoned the needy, and the nation’s future. Whether an Australian is hunting for a job or displaced from a disaster-wrecked town, they should expect almost nothing from our leaders.

The budget’s lessons should remind us that “conservatives” see themselves as representing the self-sufficient. Anyone unable to fend for him or herself is acceptable wastage. The tin boat heroes of Lismore are perhaps the model. Lismore largely took care of itself as underfunded emergency services struggled to cope. Without those brave rescuers in their tinnies, many more would have died. Future deaths will be met with hollow “thoughts and prayers” and a shrug by “conservative” politicians.

This is the implicit message from the government. The unreckonable harm of their policies – including the funding of new and bigger fossil fuel projects – will be communities’ to bear.

Instead of looking at the systemic crises facing the precariat, the splashy election budget threw it spare change in the hope that voters might be dazzled enough to reelect the incumbents.

Ultimately Australia’s battlers are on their own. JobSeeker payments have gone from 43.9% to 43.1% below the poverty line. A $420 tax break for a single year hides a tax increase for low and middle income earners. A gift of $250 to pensioners will do little to cover even the additional bills as Medicare’s coverage shrinks. Meanwhile the tax strike of the rich continues

As rent challenges those battling to make ends meet, Scott Morrison’s only solution was that renters should buy property, the price of which has been inflated out of reach by government policy that benefits the wealthy investor. The government program he referred to there will be another announceable that ends up helping only a handful. His flippant statement was little more than cover for a party that panders to donors at the expense of the rest of us.

Low unemployment rates mean little when a single hour of paid work places the individual in the employed category, and too many are under-employed. That’s with the backpackers and foreign labour who do so much of our low-paid work yet to return in force.

This makes even more nauseating Scott Morrison’s constant disingenuous roleplay as tradesman and labourer. It reflects, however, the inversion that has taken place in right wing politics. The Coalition no longer portrays itself as the party representing its investors. Instead it enacts a shadow play pretending to be the party of the working man, even while it strips back the services it provides him and his family.

Wendy Lovell, Victorian Liberal former Housing Minister displayed the superficiality of this clash of interests when she spoke of there being no use placing low-income families in “the best street in Brighton where the children cannot mix with others or go to the school with other children…” There is no questioning of the policies that create the gulf between rich and poor in the current Coalition.

Meanwhile “highly regressive” tax cuts for mainly rich men continue unchallenged. Combined with no interest in preventing the siphoning of wealth offshore, this strips the treasury of the funds the nation needs to address our challenges. Largesse for fossil fuel projects and military spending was promised by Frydenberg without any sense that it needs justifying. The spin that complements this generosity has convinced us, however, that spending on the community must be begrudged and scraped and costed at length.

The endorsement of the self-sufficient and the abandonment of the needy is not limited to Australian right wing politics. The increasingly extreme politics of the Coalition, echoing their role models in the Republican Party, trumpets an allegiance to free market libertarianism. Richard Denniss has pointed out with great clarity that they actually have willingness aplenty to tilt the market in favour of their donors and favoured economic interests. Their libertarian credentials are as shallow as their working man tableaux.

This government is authoritarian in tendency rather than pursuing freedom. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells’s expose of the highhanded treatment of NSW preselection procedures is only a fraction of the problem. The persecution of whistleblowers, secrecy, surveillance and suppression of protest are deeply concerning.

And part of an authoritarian trajectory is the dehumanising of a group of “outsiders.” By uniting the community of the nation against a common enemy, “culture war” battles can be used to distract from the diminution of living standards of the percentage of population needed to hold power.

For much of the last 20 years, it has been the refugee that came by boat who has served as the Coalition’s threatening “outsider” for this gambit. It is reprehensible enough. How much more disturbing might it be if the Coalition is to continue its demonisation of Australia’s “needy” until they are seen as more troublesome than they are worth.

Part of that dismissal conflates them with loathed progressives or greenies. Barnaby Joyce illustrated these ideas when he dismissed two bushfire deaths in his electorate as likely Greens voters. The Liberal Party functionary, Shane Stone, who now acts as the coordinator general of our National Recovery and Resilience Agency dismissed those who lived in flood-destroyed areas as people who wanted to “live among the gum trees.” Republican rhetoric is much further down the path of depicting progressives not just as a nuisance but as a literal threat to the lives of conservatives. This gambit is named “accusation in a mirror” and is part of the process of creating the fear to foster awful acts of violence.

Stone’s claim that “the taxpayer and ratepayer cannot continue to pick up the bill for these huge catastrophic, damage events” is not true unless we make it true. Richard Denniss’s Big is a challenge to us to confront the accepted mantra on where national income can be gleaned and how it can be spent. The climate crisis will be an area where unthinkable amounts will need to be spent, and those decisions need making now.

In one term of a government, Australia has begun to see the death, destruction and financial cost of the climate emergency in stark relief. Frydenberg’s budget has promised a combined $3 billion to both renewables and disaster preparedness but the spending on climate change measures is intended to decline every year in the coming term. Meanwhile more than ten times that amount has been promised to fossil fuel corporations.

The government not only plans to exacerbate the impact of the climate emergency, but continues to play games with the impact it will have on Australians. Every degree the climate increases in heat, for example, adds an extra 7% of water to the flood that follows.

One can only judge that the Coalition perceives the poor who are more likely to live in climate disaster zones because these are more affordable (and the progressives who often live in threatened areas) as disposable. In an era when we no longer need mass labour in industry and the military, are these plutocrats to some degree shrugging their shoulders about the inevitable losses?

Whenever opposing politicians draw attention to the deep injustices at the core of modern right wing politics, they are shut down with cries of spruiking, ”The politics of envy. The politics of the class war”. Warren Buffett admitted, “There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.

We must decide now, before the crises become more overwhelming, whether we are going to accept the abandonment of those most wracked by rising costs and catastrophes. Right wing pretence of being the working man’s party will not address the fact that they are happily allied with the aspiring oligarchs, and plan to leave us to our fate.

This article was originally published on Pearls and Irritations as Scott Morrison’s constant disingenuous role play as tradesman and labourer

Lucy Hamilton is a Melbourne writer with degrees from the University of Melbourne and Monash University.




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  1. Stephen Fletcher

    Media Release – Thursday 18 March 2022


    Nationals Page MP Ian Causley, ex-Mayor Cr John Crowther and Nationals Councillors on Lismore City Council “got it badly wrong on the Lismore flood levee” and their narrow anti-environment policies on ‘flood mitigation’ and ignorance of the need for catchment management have made Lismore’s flood hazard worse, not better,” local Lismore resident Dr John Corkill OAM, said today.

    “If the Nationals cannot ‘own up’ to those serious policy failures, then people in the community are right to ‘call them out’ and apportion blame to the Nationals for making flooding in Lismore worse, based on the compelling evidence at hand. That’s how public accountability is supposed to work in a democracy,” he said.

    Dr Corkill said that after the ‘rain-bomb’ flood, in a climate emergency, with 3 months to the federal election, it was now time to conclude that state and federal Nationals policies on engineering works for flood mitigation, and blocking catchment management, to appease the bogus property rights claimed by upstream farmers, and an obtuse incompetent policy on climate change had, over decades, worsened Lismore’s flood hazard.

    “For years National party Mayors, Councillors, state and federal MPs have pushed the levee as the answer to Lismore’s flood hazard, and now we can see that these Nationals politicians were wrong. Millions dollars of public funds have been wasted on engineering ‘works’ on the floodplain at Lismore, which have not worked.

    He said repeated calls by the community to manage the upstream catchments as part of a strategic land-management approach to retain rainfall, reduce run-off, lower flood heights and delay flood peaks were ignored by the engineers, objected to by farmers and have been ‘blocked’ by Nationals party MPs since the 1990s.

    Dr Corkill said a plan to rehabilitate the Wilson’s River catchment was under way in the mid 1990s, led by Greening Australia, working in partnership with Landcare groups and local stakeholders, with federal grants, but Greening Australia was defunded when the Howard Government was elected.

    “The Wilson’s River catchment rehabilitation plan and Greening Australia were stabbed to death in Canberra by Ian Causely as Nationals MP for Page in 1998. The local jobs were lost and all Greening Australia’s work to identify degraded areas as priorities for restoration works, went back to Canberra, never to be seen again.

    “So the Nationals and Mr Causely in particular, are why Lismore is not 20 or more years into a comprehensive catchment rehabilitation plan, which could mitigate floods, create local jobs in a sustainable new industry of multi-purpose plantation establishment, and deliver a suite of other public benefits along the way: carbon sequestration, increased wildlife habitat, soil erosion control, better water quality, local food supply and cabinet timber production.

    “We do not need more of the same failed strategy or more ‘know-it-all’ civic leadership by the Nationals if Lismore is to recover and learn to live with floods in a worsening climate crisis. We have known what is needed for 30 years.

    Dr Corkill said the Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had repeatedly warned of climate change impacts including ‘increased storminess’ under La Nina when there will be more storms, of greater intensity, with higher rainfall, which last longer; and more frequent severe to extreme events.

    “Those warnings have been ignored by the Nationals party for years, but have proven correct. What we have just seen with the February-March ‘rain-bomb’ and TC Debbie five years ago, is what they warned us about,” he said.

    Dr Corkill said current Nationals party Page MP Kevin Hogan needed to justify his party’s and his government’s policy on climate change, on CO2 emissions reductions targets, continued public subsidies to the fossil fuel industries and the Australian government’s internationally embarrassing policy reported to the COP in 2021.

    “All of these failed Nationals party policies will continue to make flooding in Lismore worse, not better.

    Dr Corkill was foundation secretary of The Big Scrub Environment Centre Inc, a local community group which opposed construction of levees around Lismore by the then Richmond River County Council, in 1994. ENDS.

    John R Corkill OAM PhD (Law)

    Public interest advocate

    Awarded a Medal in the Order of Australia (OAM) in January 2003 for services to forest conservation

    Awarded the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) / Peter Rawlinson Conservation Award

    ‘Environmentalist of the Year’ (jointly with Dailan Pugh) World Environment Day – 5 June 2001.

    John R Corkill OAM

  2. Canguro

    Let’s face it. Right-wing politics is a lost cause, a dinosaur in the age of the Anthropocene, headed for extinction but destined to die thrashing in impotent rage and confusion, tearing and gnarling at anything within its purview. And like all these reptilian freaks, small-brained, instinctively programmed for survival but otherwise unintelligent, incapable of empathetic behaviour, unable to adapt.

    What is it about the human psyche that attracts members of our species to this particular brand of expression, whether locally, or in America or Europe or Asia for that matter, where a Marcos littly is about to recapitulate on his infamous father’s legacy in the Philippines? Why are we so inclined towards this binary position – he’s on the ‘left’ and I’m on the ‘right’ – albeit it’s not as simple as that, but still, the so-called ‘right’ side of politics, the so-called ‘conservative’ position, is never short of wannabes, fresh faces ready to have a shot at their moment in the limelight, moths to the flame, destined to eventually be crisped by their hubris and ignorance?

    Stephen Fletcher’s offering is salient in its condemnation of the absence of vision and narrow-mindedness of conservative politics; Lucy Hamilton’s also.

  3. Phil Lohrey

    This is so accurate, insightful and well written. It echoes the thoughts of so many of us with great clarity. It would be good if author Lucy Hamilton forwarded the article to the ABC Media Watch forum on Facebook and further afield. It is quite an historic commentary summing up the last electoral term from an humanitarian viewpoint.

  4. Andrew J. Smith

    Good article, much of what we observe is the influence from centuries of ago of first Malthus and Galton, reignited from time of Howard with imported nativist libertarian ideology being promoted by Koch Network think tanks with the nativism of deceased white nationalist John ‘passive eugenics’ Tanton, via fossil fueled ZPG demanded population control and immigration restrictions.

    However, the strong influencer of the past on the present was Madison Grant from the US till the ’30s, on not just ‘Anglophone’ immigration policies on the lower orders and other types, but Hitler and the Nazis too….

  5. Kathryn

    The only thing WORSE than knowing our smug, sanctimonious crime minister is a pathological unapologetic internationally condemned liar is to know that he is a corrupt, smirking and cruel political psychopath who attempts – and fails – to hide his sneering inhumanity and self-serving corruption behind a thin, very transparent, layer of bible-thumping hypocrisy! Can we get worse? Nope! Nope! Nope!

    For the sake of our democracy, our children’s future, our State education, our health and welfare systems, the international reputation of our nation (now in freefall) and everything Australians hold dear, VOTE LABOR at the next federal and State elections and get rid of the callous, inept and self-serving sociopaths in the LNP who are, indeed, the worst, most corrupt, inherently misogynistic, sanctimoniously arrogant and born-to-rule regime in living memory! The lying, conniving LNP are a danger to EVERYTHING Australians value – including our democracy! History has proven that the insufferable elitists in LNP are “adept” at one thing only and that is to openly favour their multi-billionaire donors in the Top 1% and their willingness to tear down, destroy, defund, vandalise and annihilate EVERYTHING ordinary working- and middle-class Australians value in rapid time!

  6. GL

    Thank you Uncle Dear El Presidente Supreme Leader Saint Scummo for that $250.00. It paid for a single phone bill and almost 2/3’rds of a power bill. Will that beneficence help sway me to vote for your gang of thieves, grifters, con artists, corrupt, religious lunatics, bicycle racks to the corporations, sycophantic tongues out ready to clean Rupert’s arse crack, and scum? I don’t think I need to answer that question.

  7. Josephus

    In 2019 I found and read a copy of the Australian newspaper. A reader letter stated that Greens should be shot. I was shocked that such a view was actually published. It reminded me of the nazis, though scomos comment on protesting women in March 2021 is almost as bad. I now am passed hence read that paper ; its views are often stupid or bigoted rather than murderous . They are however verbally quite violent at times.
    Yet even the Canberra times publishes idiocy sometimes ! cf in early April 2022 a screed called “populate or perish“, arguing that Australia should ring its presumably sinking shores with mega cities that would kindly provide the marauding yellow armies with desal water and supermarkets full of food.
    Sometimes I wish voters had to pass an IQ test.

  8. Kathryn

    Josephus, if voters had to pass an IQ test, left-wing parties like the ALP or The Greens, would win 100% of the elections considering that most academics, teachers, medical professionals eg compassionate nurses and doctors, hard-working staff in the aged care system or ANYONE with an IQ >10 are supporters of the Greens or the ALP! There are many good reasons why the ALP used to be called “the Academic Party” in the early 1970’s. Let’s face it, any working- or middle-class Australian stupid enough to vote for an internationally disgraced, totally corrupt, self-serving pack of smug, elitist political psychopaths as depraved and discredited as Morrison, and his repugnant short-sighted coal-loving cabinet, are akin to turkeys voting for Christmas!

    The only group of rabid fools as thoroughly repugnant as the LNP are the disreputable, totally biased, woefully talentless LNP-supporting Z-rated hacks and Murdoch-influenced right-wing extremists parachuted into every form of media in our country INCLUDING our very own taxpayer-funded ABC …. Chief among these is the appalling, ex-SkyNews mouthpiece for LNP propaganda, David Speers and other lying, conniving and nauseating Libtard puppets like Patricia Karvelas, that insipid boring little Johanna Nichols, Lisa Millar who’s father, Clarrie, was an outspoken member of the National Party and, worst of all, that shrieking, totally biased harridan, Fauziah Ibrahim! No wonder the LNP/Murdoch-controlled media in this country is internationally condemned as the worst, most biased and disreputable in the western world!

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