Today I am supposed to feel proud. I am supposed to celebrate what it means to be Australian – how we treat each other, our contribution to global efforts to do what is right, our pristine environment and our unique flora and fauna.
A safe place to raise our children where all are given the opportunity to be their best selves. A rich country that offers help when people need it.
Except I can’t get the picture of the Biloela family incarcerated on Christmas Island out of my mind. We are paying tens of millions to keep this gentle family locked up.
And I am tormented by pictures of incinerated wildlife. And infuriated that the warnings were ignored. Our government would rather buy squadrons of dud jet fighter planes than boost our aerial fire-fighting capability.
I am devastated that we are killing one of the seven natural wonders of the world and that my grandchildren may never get to see the Great Barrier Reef as we knew it. We ignore the role we are playing in heating our oceans because of a few jobs in a dying industry.
I am ashamed that one in eight adults and more than one in six children are living in poverty in this wealthy country. The Defence White Paper committed to spending $400 billion on war toys over the next twenty years but we can’t find the money to increase Newstart or provide housing for the 120,000 people who have nowhere to sleep.
I am dismayed, but not surprised, by the ongoing revelations of pork-barrelling, jobs and awards for the boys and girls, preferential treatment for political donors, and questions of corrupt conduct.
I am dumbfounded by what our government thinks are priorities – union-bashing, religious freedom, increasing erosion of privacy laws, sick asylum seekers, military spending, deregulation, industrial relations reform (read winding back of workplace protections and entitlements).
As the scientists warn us that we are at 100 seconds to midnight and that we must stop burning fossil fuels, our government approves new coal mines in the Galilee, oil-drilling in the Great Australian Bight, and pushes for moratoriums on gas exploration and extraction to be removed.
On the day commemorating the European invasion of their country, Aboriginal people still have no Voice, no treaty, no self-determination, no constitutional recognition, and, for many of them, no control over their own finances.
Little progress has been made in Closing the Gap but we do have an announcable – Scott Morrison has pledged $1.5 million towards an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander data project, which will be used to help with decision making in order to achieve the Closing the Gap targets.
This obsession with “collecting data”, or having inquiries, or commissioning reports, or appointing new bureaucrats, is a wonderful way to avoid doing anything whilst looking like you give a fuck. The data is there. We need action, not some paltry amount, which is less than one Minister’s yearly travel bill, to gather more information to ignore.
I am astonished by politicians with no expertise, who are often pre-selected because of their fund-raising or factional connections, who then ignore or contradict expert advice.
I am appalled by the lack of transparency and accountability, and by the rank incompetence displayed by the people who make the laws that govern my life. They are using the treasury as their personal piggy bank and do not feel the need to explain to us what they are spending it on.
But most of all, I hate being lied to.
So no, I don’t feel proud today. I feel angry at how a great country is being destroyed by political hacks whose only goal is to keep their nose in the trough.
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