Some politicians – Tony Abbott an expert among them – realise the importance of dictating the terms of public discourse. That is, to get us talking on issues they want us to talk about, which are usually to avoid the public engaging on issues that might actually be important to them. A recent and telling example; the aforementioned had large numbers of the voting public satisfied their family would be $550 a year better off under a Coalition Government after the dastardly ‘carbon tax’ was repealed. You may recall it was never mentioned that many of those same families would annually lose $1,400 with the Coalition’s scrapping of the Schoolkids Bonus. The $550 saving was mentioned by Tony Abbott how many times?
Tony Abbott had succeeded in getting people to focus on the unimportant, and he was successful for doing so.
He has now done it again, though not with any intent.
Every important issue his government needs to address; be it social, economic or environmental has slipped off the public lip since Prince Philip’s bizarre knighthood was announced. The widening gap of equality in this country, and one for which the government was damned for, seems to only be an issue of importance pre January 26.
Three days later we are not only still talking about Prince Philip’s knighthood, but also the immediate fate of the man who bestowed the knighthood upon him. These, naturally, make delicious talking points but they are a deflection from what might appeal to us on voting day. Namely, the messes this government has made (which I’m sure they’d be happy not to have us mumble about them).
AIMN reader Colin thinks the same way. A friend commented to him:
“I’m amazed at how quickly we as Australians jump on something so trivial, yet we sit by silently on some of society’s biggest challenges with nothing more than a whimper for fear of upsetting the perceived public majority or being branded alternative, or even worse, a bigot! I guess I’m just disillusioned with people and I think what we really rate as important in life these days are those which cater to our selfishness”.
Which leads me to the point of this article, Colin’s response, which he sent to The AIMN and has approved its publication:
I agree that you have every right to feel disillusioned and I think many Australians have been feeling the same way for a very long time. However; for this issue not to be a political debate is a tall order, because it is our Prime Minister who has opened this ridiculous can of worms.
On the surface it may appear to be “trivial”, and let’s be honest, how many of us really care about knights and dames (an award discontinued by the Hawke Labor Government) – I think that this is the very reason that everyone is so pissed off – ‘knights and dames’ are simply not an important or relevant national issue that should be high on the Prime Minister’s to do list!
It was a brazen Abbott that declared during the pre-election campaign that he wanted “to be known as the Prime Minister who keeps commitments” and who went on to pleadge “we will be a no-surprises, no-excuses government, because you are sick of nasty surprises and lame excuses from people that you have trusted with your future”. Yet since coming into power the Coalition have surprised us by, for eample:
- doubling the deficit by changes to government spending and changes to government assumptions. Blown the deficit out to $40.4 Billion by 15 December 2014.
- providing us with the highest official jobless rate in more than a decade.
- defunding peak organisations that advocate for the poor and oppressed, including Homelessness Australia, Financial Counselling Australia and National Shelter.
- abolishing ‘Medicare locals’, despite a promise to not cut the health budget.
- breaking the election promise of no cuts to education by cutting funding for trade training centres in schools.
The list of cuts and broken promises goes on, and on, and on (and despite the regression of government services – the deficit just goes up, and up, and up). Everybody should acquaint themselves with the list Sally McManus keeps of the wreckage and broken promises. It is worth a look.
As far as the list of broken promises and wreckage goes, you simply can’t make this stuff up. It contains documented, undeniable FACTS (just like the evidence of Climate Change).
But ‘credit’ where ‘credit’ is due – they have ‘stopped the boats’ of course, however, at an enormous cost. The deaths of two young men (Reza Berati 23yo and Hamid Kehazaei 24yo) plus scores more being physically injured, the ongoing mental anguish suffered by men, women and children at the hands of our ‘successful’ government. And how much are they spending on all this?
Furthermore; the serious and internationally damaging claims that laws have been broken by the government while jeopardising the lives and safety of asylum seekers. It is beyond human decency to treat people this way. From separating a mother from her 4 day old baby; leaving a baby with a defective pacemaker on Christmas Island for 2 months; refugees being forced to queue up to 4 hours for toilets and food on Manus Island; and claims of a cover-up of violent PNG police-army clash with refugees on Manus Island. The shameful list is extensive. You can see a list of these ‘shame files’ here.
Despite the evidence that this appalling government is rotten to the core, and has not even remotely delivered what it has promised; we have a Prime Minister preoccupied with dragging the country back 30 years with trivial matters such as knights and dames!
So yes, the Australia Day announcement of a non-Aussie as our newest knight may seem ‘trivial’ compared with the real issues we face, however, when considered in full context with the current state of affairs rolled out by the Liberals (and the ongoing bizarre and patronising priorities of Abbott), then we all have every right to be angry and concerned about this latest gaffe.
The alarm bells should be ringing loud and clear!
Before January 26 the alarm bells were ringing loud and clear. Tony Abbott made them stop. It’s time to ring them again.