The last five years of government in this country have been characterised by the greatest waste of time and money in our history, a debasing of the standards of political discourse, and a singular lack of progress and achievement in the things that affect our day-to-day lives.
In 2013, Tony Abbott promised to “make your job more secure.”
Ever since, we have seen the rise of labour hire firms and the casualisation of the workforce with the attendant loss of workplace entitlements. Underemployment is increasing with the latest ABS figures stating that the “underutilisation rate remained steady at 13.4%.”
Those tasked with finding jobs for the unemployed have gamed the system to collect money for nothing whilst their clients have been subjected to draconian penalties for non-compliance with rules that actually hinder their ability to look for work.
Wages are stagnating with pay rises not keeping up with increases in the cost of living. Not only did we not get the rolled gold paid parental leave promised by Tony to “women of calibre”, the paid parental leave we already had was attacked as “double-dipping” and wound back.
Despite spending billions of dollars on Direct Action, the Emissions Reduction Fund, protection for the Great Barrier Reef and the Murray-Darling Basin, emissions have risen every year, the reef is dying and the rivers are drying up.
The NBN is way behind schedule, way over budget, and fibre to the node and multi-mix technology has been an unmitigated disaster, delivering an unreliable system that is unable to cope with current let alone future demand.
No solution has been found for the asylum seekers who remain incarcerated on Manus and Nauru who have languished for five years whilst the government pays billions to dodgy companies to provide security and services that fail to eventuate. Twelve people have died because the government chooses to use these people as political pawns.
Little progress, if any, has been made in combatting Indigenous disadvantage and incarceration rates continue to rise. Rather than empowering our First People, the government has infantilised them, imposing compulsory income management based on someone’s postcode rather than their circumstances and work-for-the-dole schemes that more often result in having benefits withheld for infringements than in finding jobs for people.
After all the research into needs-based funding for education, wealthy private schools continue to be showered with largesse (both major parties are guilty here). Despite the research showing the importance of early childhood education, training requirements for staff have been watered down and access has been made subject to rules which disadvantage the most vulnerable. Regardless of the evidence that tertiary education pays the community back many times over, our students are thrust into poverty by inadequate Youth Allowance payments and start their adult lives lumbered with a large debt.
After decades of continued growth, over three million people, many of them children, still live in poverty. Every review has highlighted the fact that the inadequacy of the Newstart payment is an impediment to gaining employment.
Neglect and abuse in our aged care sector has been exposed time and time again, yet the sector remains largely unregulated regarding staffing levels and qualifications and pay rises promised by Labor were abandoned. The number of people waiting for home care packages to offer the assistance to allow them to remain in their own home continues to grow.
As the government fights to protect property tax concessions for investors, the 2016 census showed that homelessness had increased by 13.7% in five years.
The continued selling off of assets, privatisation of essential utilities, and outsourcing of government services has resulted in price rises for customers, security concerns, and infuriating conversations for clients with people overseas with very heavy accents who are more interested in reading you their printed list of things to say than they are in listening to your query/problem/complaint. Serco now handle calls to Centrelink. But some people have made a great deal of money.
The government has invested, and committed, hundreds of billions of dollars in “national security” which, to them, means buying lots more weapons and having thousands of people devoted to anti-terrorism activities which seems to include keeping asylum seekers at bay.
Meanwhile, domestic violence is on the rise and kills more Australians in a few weeks than have been killed by terrorism in Australia in a century.
The government slashed foreign aid and contributions to global funds until they realised they had left a void for China to fill and are now in some sort of bidding war for the affections of neighbours we chose to neglect. Mind you, our offers seem to tend towards opening military bases or giving contracts to companies favoured by certain leaders looking to feather their own nests.
The Australian Federal Police are looking increasingly like some sort of Pretorian Guard for the Liberal Party, ever ready to investigate. raid and prosecute anyone who annoys them – Craig Thomson, Peter Slipper, Stephen Conroy, the Timor l’Este whistleblower and his lawyer, the AWU, to name a few. We spend time and money having Royal Commissions investigate irrelevant stuff from years ago to try to “get” Labor leaders, even taking money from the RC into child sex abuse to fund it.
In an environment of shouting politicians and hyperbolic rhetoric, we see ignorant radio shock jocks and propaganda from partisan commentators holding sway over expert advice and evidence.
The government does not offer solutions – it looks to cast blame – a strategy that works with some people who are struggling in their own lives. Lies are brushed off as “just politics” by the man who purports to run the country. It’s Labor’s fault. It’s the environmentalists’ fault. It’s the migrants’ fault. It’s the teachers’ fault. It’s the unemployeds’ fault. It’s renewable energy’s fault. It’s the Aborigines’ fault. It’s the drought.
This government has never been about governing in the best interests of the country. It has been all about jobs for the boys, contracts for the mates, policies for the donors, protection for the wealthy, and securing employment post-politics.
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