A Statement of No Confidence in the Abbott Government has been delivered to the Australian Parliament as a message from the 100,000 people who took part in the March in March. And, writes MiM organiser Loz Lawrey, “As the intensity of the public’s dissatisfaction with this toxic government continues to grow, the message will be delivered again and again, over and over”.
“Let it be known, and entered into the public record, that on this day, Monday 17 March 2014, the People of Australia delivered this document to the Parliament of Australia.”
On a sunny Monday in March, a delegation of Australians presented a handwritten parchment to Adam Bandt, the Federal Member for Melbourne, at Parliament house in Canberra.
Adam had graciously agreed to accept the Statement of No Confidence and present it to Parliament on behalf of the more than 100,000 people around the country who attended the March in March rallies protesting the governance of the Liberal/National Coalition.
A few days later Senator Scott Ludlum attempted to table the Statement in the Senate, but sadly the tabling was disallowed on a technicality. Such a document had never been presented before, and the Abbott government narrowly avoided the need to officially respond.
The March in March 2014 Statement of No Confidence in the Liberal/National Coalition Government From the People of Australia was written and rewritten, passing through one set of hands and then another, from laptop to smartphone to desktop screen, added to and tweaked, then jigged and rejigged until it truly was a document “of the people”.
Those of us who took part in this joyous assertion of public sentiment knew all along that successful tabling and debating of this document was unlikely, since it didn’t fit the strict layout and presentation requirements for a petition and had no supporting signatures attached.
We also knew that petitions, even if they are tabled, are easily dismissed and require hundreds of thousands of signatures if they are to achieve any sort of real acknowledgment or response.
The Statement of No Confidence did not protest any single issue and made no demand for any particular outcome. With or without signatures the Statement was, and remains, an overarching assertion of public disapproval of this government’s decisions and the direction in which Abbott and his cronies are taking our country.
Although not yet officially tabled, the document still entered the public record via media news cameras and print coverage.
Despite the Abbott government’s refusal to publicly acknowledge the March rallies, it is aware of the Statement’s existence, and of its contents – the marchers’ message of No Confidence was delivered.
For the government and its cheer-squad in the mainstream media, a head-in-the-sand avoidance of the rallies and the Statement was the only possible response. To respond otherwise was to risk a humiliation even deeper than the serial embarrassments brought on daily by the public utterances of Abbott and his ministers, blithely reported by so many journalists.
The rallies that took place around Australia were a clear demonstration that there is great opposition to the ideologically-driven agenda of the Abbott government and that there is ever-growing public consternation (note the current polls) at the obvious attempts at social engineering, the blatant suppression of information, the retreat from transparency and accountability, the rorting and trough-snouting, as well as the lies and broken promises.
Oh, and it seems that some people are worried about the attacks on democracy and human rights, the abuse and mistreatment of refugee asylum seekers, the dismantling of environmental regulation and general trashing of our natural environment, the assault on wages and entitlements, and the closing down or defunding of every institution and organisation established to support and inform the public interest.
The lugubrious, repetitive pronouncements from “Smokey Joe” Hockey, whose pants seem to occasionally ignite and smoulder (leading to on-camera sweating and obvious discomfort), are grooming us for an austerity regime the like of which Australia has never seen. Let’s not forget that Abbott considers Maggie Thatcher a mentor to emulate.
Our country is suffering a concerted attack, by a government owned by vested interests, upon our vision of ourselves as a nation respected by the rest of the world for upholding standards of fairness and decency at home and abroad.
Thanks to Abbott and his cronies we are now viewed with global contempt – a xenophobic, racist raft of white supremacists floating in the Pacific, abusing all who come near. How have we allowed this perception of our multicultural society to take root and grow? Is this the reality?
Australia has never managed to grasp the opportunity afforded by the coming-together of our immigrant society (which includes most of us) and the First Australians whose land it is, to create an exemplary modern society of equals and forge a new history, free from the constraints, mistakes and influences of the past. Instead we import the dumbed-down culture of the deeply dysfunctional United States, ignoring the wealth of world culture that permeates our society.
Once, we were known as the land of the Fair Go. That’s right, the Fair Go. Sadly, according to Smokey Joe, the Fair Go gave us all a sense of “entitlement” which was simply not sustainable. So the Fair Go, and along with it all sense of decency and righteousness, of empathy and inclusiveness, must be swept aside to balance the books and satisfy the “bottom line”.
Apparently this will elevate us to the transcendent, nirvana-like state of “surplus”, despite the fact that many Australians will endure lives of misery and hardship in the process.
Conservative governments notoriously and conveniently ignore human suffering, dismissing any concept of social justice and equity, and reducing the discussion of public affairs to a mathematical equation of dollars and cents.
Only the elements of profit and loss are factored in, while the values and considerations of human hearts and minds, of skills, knowledge, intelligence, understanding and caring ( the very stuff of life) are sent to the margins.
And nowhere on the page is there any reference to the common, or public good.
Somehow it comes about that government of humans by humans no longer regards the human condition itself as relevant in the decision-making process.
Somehow the dollar, the measure of greed, becomes not just one factor among others, but the only consideration. A perversion of governance becomes entrenched in our system which government messaging and media manipulation grooms us to accept as the norm.
The marchers who attended the March rallies told their stories through the number and diversity of messages on the placards expressing community concerns and through the words of those who spoke. The Statement of No Confidence is the symbolic summary of those concerns.
The marches and rallies will continue. This people’s movement will grow. Already Marches are planned for Sydney, Adelaide and Perth for Sunday 18 May, while regional marches around the nation will take place at the end of August.
As the intensity of the public’s dissatisfaction with this toxic government continues to grow, the message will be delivered again and again, over and over.
And one day soon, to use the religious imagery favoured by Abbott, Australians will be delivered from evil.