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The small government experiment has been an abject failure

I don’t profess to understand how other countries operate but, in Australia, we rely on our government to make things work.

Or we used to. Until politicians decided that the private sector, whose survival depends on making a profit, could do things better for cheaper.

And where has that got us?

The royal commission into the aged care sector described it as “a shocking tale of neglect” and “a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

That was before COVID hit which led to hundreds of deaths and required the government sending in the army to help provide minimal care to residents.

Also pre-COVID, the Royal Commission into Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability was established in April 2019. The title is an apt description of the evidence that has been presented and a shameful indictment on our society.

I remember when the Commonwealth Employment Service hooked people up with jobs. Nothing demeaning about it – if you were unemployed, they would find you a job or give you a payment in the meantime. We now have the Jobactive system which participants describe as “broken” and which is beset with countless allegations of rorting.

We used to own stuff. Until politicians decided that selling assets to give a sugar hit to the budget bottom line was a good idea.

We used to own Telstra and the Commonwealth Bank and Qantas and Medibank Private. We used to own our sea and air ports, our energy infrastructure, and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. We used to have a tax on the mining superprofits made by those who have approval to mine the resources that we own. We sold government buildings and now lease them back from the new owners.

Instead of a public service with the collective experience, expertise and continuity to advise the government of the day, we have political appointees who use consultants to justify whatever position they choose to take. Cue Brian Fisher.

The COVID pandemic has starkly illustrated the dangers of the small government approach. From using hotels and untrained security guards for quarantine to suddenly expecting people to source their own Rapid Antigen Tests, the whole thing has been a reactionary debacle rather than anything resembling preparedness and co-ordination of a planned response.

For a government who prides itself on cutting red tape to have to wait for letters from premiers asking for help and then a meeting with the governor-general to, weeks later, approve the idea that we are suffering a national emergency before they can mobilise help is Pythonesque. I don’t think they thought through the significance of the word ‘emergency’.

We have more army personnel thrown into emergency roles than a military junta but none of them know the local areas they are dealing with or the resources they have or need. Hence the constant meetings – or photographs of them anyway – as locals head out in their tinnies and on jet-skis and kayaks to save people’s lives. Because the small government acted too slowly. Again.

Ask yourself, would you trust these two in a crisis?

 

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19 comments

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  1. Kaye Lee

    He’s a real nowhere man
    Sitting in his nowhere land
    Making all his nowhere plans for nobody

    Doesn’t have a point of view
    Knows not where he’s going to
    Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
    Nowhere man please listen
    You don’t know what you’re missing
    Nowhere man, the world is at your command

    He’s as blind as he can be
    Just sees what he wants to see
    Nowhere man, can you see me at all
    Nowhere man don’t worry
    Take your time, don’t hurry
    Leave it all ’til somebody else
    Lends you a hand

  2. Ai Khan Singh

    Kaye Lee

    ‘…and in the end…’

    You get the sack.

    And perhaps someone will get the gonads to investigate why he got sacked from previous jobs.

    He will comfort himself in the knowledge
    that God had plans for him.
    Which simply reinforces my view of God…

    Or has God abandoned him? Members of his particular sect recommend testing God’s love by plunging their hands into a basket of poisonous snakes. I’d like to see him take the test – he is, after all, surrounded by them in the Coalition – some even actually resemble reptiles.

  3. pierre wilkinson

    and someone said to me yesterday that i should feel sorry for Scotty, as he has had nothing but problems since he became PM, first the drought then fires then covid and now floods…
    when asked what he has done about any of it they responded with at least he tries his best…
    go figure

  4. Kaye Lee

    When the Best You Can Be is Not Good Enough

    Self-realization is the healthy desired goal. A less healthy alternative exists when identity is dictated by self-idealization, when the idealized self tries to compensate for a sense of inadequacy and low self-esteem. As psychoanalyst Karen Horney puts it, self-idealization inevitably manifests in the search for glory where the individual creates a persona for him/herself that exemplifies all that is right and perfect; this in spite of the fact that the individual unconsciously feels that he/she is flawed, deficient, and imperfect; in other words, “not good enough.” So the individual may try to live up to an ideal that may have nothing to do with who they really are.

  5. David Stakes

    And if the miracle happens and re elected. He will be insufferable. Welcome to Gilead.

  6. David Evans

    Yet another nice, accurate article Kaye, I would only change two words of it, the headline could read “The morrison ‘government’ has been an abject failure”…….For more than 60 years I have been watching the ins and outs of Local, State and Commonwealth governments within Australia and I have never been ashamed to admit that I am Australian, until the last few years, beginning with the abbott fiasco. I have certainly never been more reluctant to listen to any Prime Minister, or a deputy P.M, to the point where I feel physically ill whenever I see or hear them. . They are both the lowest of the low in my estimation. Is it just me?

  7. margcal

    Back when I did Economics 101 in the very late 1960s, before everything was sold off, out-sourced and ’employees’ put on short-term contracts, there was this quaint idea that governments did for us as a whole, via our taxes for funding, what we couldn’t do for ourselves as individuals. And so we got roads and railways and schools and hospitals, and all the rest.

    Accepting that government has never been perfect, I still wonder how anyone couldn’t see that privatisation would not be more expensive. Profits had to be paid to shareholders. That sort of payment didn’t exist when the public service did things. If projects ever came in under budget the money went back into consolidated revenue, it wasn’t doled out to the big wigs. If things were over-engineered, it proved to be a blessing when they didn’t fall over in emergencies and adverse circumstances.

    And red tape – that is, or was, so many of your health and safety regulations, not only for people but the quality and safety of materials used.

    As for public servants – those who are left … I forget the number of contract workers but it is a very big proportion. My daughter would be typical. In going on 10 years in the public service she is about to start work in her fourth (I think!) department, all contracts having been for 12 months or less, some obviously being rolled over. But all positions having to be advertised (preparation of specs beforehand), CVs read, candidates interviewed, appeals heard (if any), ‘new ’employee inducted, learns the ropes, barely has time to do the job before starting job hunt again. The HR departments handling all these mid and lower level jobs must be enormous, not to mention the huge waste as employees cycle around the public service swapping jobs with each other constantly.

    If the definition of government that I learned way back in the day is correct (as I believe it to be), then small government was never going to be a success, it is an impossibility. By definition, it rejects doing what governments are supposed to do.
    Scott Morrison isn’t vain. He needs a personal photographer and all those photo opps to fill in time because he has nothing else to do.

  8. New England Cocky

    Kaye Lee: It is a misnomer to describe the current Liarbral Nazional$ COALition rabble as anything but a mob of unambiguously self-seeking, self-serving, corrupt persons intent on keeping their snouts in the taxpayer trough for as long as possible using whatever means are required.

  9. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, keeping with the Beatles theme, The Fool on the Hill also springs to mind.

  10. GL

    Of course they will Scummo, there’s an election looming so you have try and make the little peasants grateful and happy enough to consider voting your crew of corrupt crooks back in again. Outside of that occurrance you would say, ultimately meaningless, words then conveniently develop amnesia and go move back to lining your coporate masters and your party maatteess pockets.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2022/mar/12/scott-morrison-says-locals-will-always-play-key-part-in-natural-disaster-response

  11. CMC

    All comments right on the money. Geezers I hope enough people have woken up to the fact ALL COAL-ITION GOVERNMENTS ARE CORRUPT & FRAUDS. TIME WE GAVE SCUMMO AND HIS DEGENERATE GOVERNMENT THE WA TREATMENT!!

  12. B Sullivan

    margcal

    It was just as you say in the very late 1960’s, but you might also remember that in1975 there was a US supported coup led by Malcolm Fraser, that Australians prefer to think of as “The Dismissal”, and the democratically elected government of Australia was overthrown. By the time this crisis was resolved the majority of people no longer supported the ousted government, so any notion of US interference was dismissed to the realms of fantasy.

    Yet some years later US President Jimmy Carter unexpectedly interrupted normal viewing to televise an apology to the Australian people for past US interference in Australia. He didn’t say what the interference was, he just promised PM “John” Fraser it wouldn’t happen again. US interference/manipulation of Australia in 1975 was also cited as a major factor that led to a notorious CIA espionage scandal that was later popularised in the movie “The Falcon and the Snowman”. Perhaps it was that scandal that prompted Carter’s apology. Fraser thanked the President, not for the promise there would be no more interference, but for remembering that his given name was “John”.

    But the damage was done. Treasurer John Howard resurrected the term “dole bludger” so everyone knew who they were supposed to blame for the ever-increasing unemployment figures, and Maggie Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and eventually Bob Hawke came along, swept into power by the growth of the Yuppie class that thrived on economic rationalism, ever rising real estate values, the sell-off of the Commonwealth Bank and the distribution of wealth to the rich at the expense of the poor.

    And that was the start of the small government experiment, only it wasn’t an experiment. It was a permanent austerity policy for the poor that then only required a leader with the right kind of criteria provided by Rhodes Scholarship grooming to persuade enough Australian voters to endorse it.

    And with the promise that no Australian child would be living in poverty by 1990 to further motivate them, they did.

  13. GL

    I see we’re back to the usual Scummo bullshit with regards to flood disasters: It’s not my fault. It’s the states fault. It’s everybody elses fault. On and and on and…whine, whine, stop picking on me…I mean my gubmint…

  14. corvusboreus

    3 curious developments this week.

    1: the strayan PM has abdicated national responsibilty for disaster relief in deference to state government agencies, whilst the NSW premier has said that in future state citizenry will have to rely mostly upon voluntary assistance.

    2: Saudi Arabia has celebrated the international fuel-price hikes caused by embargoes against Russia with a festival of state-sanctioned killings (81 decapitations in 24 hrs) https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/saudi-arabia-executes-81-men-terrorism-other-charges-spa-2022-03-12/

    3: US republicans have put forth a bill proposing that the 46th president be granted power to issue ‘letters of marque or reprisal’ (the piece of paper that legislatively transforms the maritime crime of piraty into state-sanctioned privateering), specifically for the purpose of targeting the floating assets of Russian citizens https://www.congress.gov/bill/117th-congress/house-bill/6869/text?r=1&s=1

    Interesting times

  15. paul walter

    Corvus boreus, but so many other examples also.

    Consider medical workers over the duration of the Coronavirus event.

    Corvus, out of America also comes the news that the state of Missouri in the bible Belt, have legislation banning terminations of ectopic pregnancies.

    Do people here understandwhat this wouldmean?

  16. Consume Less

    Dave Sharma = gutless scumbag.

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