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Turn back – you are going the wrong way

If we don’t do something to halt the direction that this country is heading then we are in danger of a crash of catastrophic proportions.

While the rest of the world recognises the critical threat of climate change, and moves towards global action to address it, we remove carbon pricing, dismantle all climate change bodies, change environmental protection laws, and move away from initiatives like Marine Parks and the Murray-Darling water buyback.

When the rest of the world begins transitioning from the dependence on fossil fuels, we approve the largest coal mines in the world and the infrastructure to support them.  We ramp up CSG mining.  Rather than making the polluters pay, we decide to pay them with taxpayer money, and remove the mining tax that would at least give us some share of the money made by exploiting our dwindling resources.

When the rest of the world is increasing the share of renewable energy, we cut $20 million from the Energy Efficiency Opportunities program and $40 million from Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and wind up the Low Carbon Communities program which provides grants to local councils and other groups to make energy efficiency upgrades to community buildings.  We cap government spending on reaching our emission reduction and renewable energy targets, and refuse to contribute to the Green Energy Fund.

In the face of rising unemployment, instead of investing a relatively small amount in the car industry, about one tenth of what we give to the mining companies, we choose to let the industry die and put tens of thousands of people out of work.  But never fear, Sophie Mirabella has been appointed to build submarines instead.

We cannot afford to have the Salvation Army doing humanitarian work with asylum seekers and we cannot afford the mental health experts that were assessing and treating them, but we can afford $1.2 billion for more tents, and $1.1 million for Special Envoy Jim Molan to do something, though I am not sure what.  We apparently can spend “whatever it takes” to stop the boats.

We have just appointed as Human Rights Commissioner someone who told a Senate Committee last year that the Human Rights Commission should be abolished.  His main goal is to champion freedom of speech and a free press.  He feels there has been far too much emphasis on left wing humanitarian silliness, and that we should have the right to racially vilify people.

We have condoned human rights abuses in Sri Lanka and West Papua, been caught spying on Indonesia and East Timor, infuriated China by taking sides with the US, and Indonesia by our boat tow/buy back rhetoric, ignored the UN by siding with Israel, refused to address whaling with the Japanese, and in general, vacillated between tough guy and fawning friend at a rate that would make your head spin.

In the area of health, Westmead Children’s Hospital will lose $100 million in funding for the first stage of a comprehensive redevelopment, while the Children’s Medical Research Institute will lose $10 million and the Millennium Institute will lose $12 million, amongst many other funding cuts.

Even though we have a gambling problem, we undo the poker machine reforms.  Even though we have a drug and alcohol problem, we get rid of the alcohol and drug advisory board. Even though new figures show Australians are fatter than ever, more than $18 million has been cut from obesity prevention programs.  Even though we have a disproportionately high number of indigenous Australians in gaol, we cut $43 million from indigenous legal aid funding.

With the looming crisis of an aging population, we scrap the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing six months before they completed a three year report to help the government design a policy to deal with challenges posed by Australia’s ageing population.  We also block pay rises to aged care workers.  Rather than encouraging low income workers to invest in superannuation to relieve some of the future burden on the old age pension, we cut the co-contribution and delay the superannuation guarantee increase, whilst giving further tax breaks to very high income earners.

Congestion on our roads, parking, and the pollution from cars is a growing problem.  Rather than investing in public transport, we are building more roads, even ones people don’t want, and ignoring Infrastructure Australia’s priorities.

With a slowing economy, rather than looking to raise more revenue, we have employed big business to tell us how to cut spending.

Rather than waiting for the Productivity Commission to finish the many reviews they have been tasked with, we are employing private consultants like Price Waterhouse Cooper to produce reports that say what the government wants to hear.

Even though the Productivity Commission said that replacement wages for paid parental leave would be too costly, inequitable, and of little benefit to workforce participation, we are pushing ahead with a scheme that will cost us over $5 billion a year giving money to people who don’t need it.  At the same time we are blocking the payrise to childcare workers, and cutting $450 million from before and after school care programs, something that would help with job retention and productivity.

Even though we have already had 8 enquiries into the home insulation scheme, we are now to have a Royal Commission.  To pay for this we have cut $6.7 million from the Caring for our Country program, which grants money to conservation projects.

We are also cutting about $1 billion from education by stopping initiatives like the trade training program.

The minister for education, Christopher Pyne, has appointed David Kemp and Andrew Norton to undertake a review into the demand-driven funding system for universities. Kemp was minister for education in the Howard government and Norton was his adviser on higher education policy.

Rather than continuing with the rollout of FttP NBN, we have gone back to square one and employed Malcolm’s mates to stonewall the Senate Committee.  It appears from the redacted documents that some of us will get a far inferior service for much more than anticipated sometime much later than promised, and they will be the lucky ones.

We are rushing to sign free trade agreements in secret which will sign away our rights to make laws in our own country.  We will be at the mercy of foreign corporations and our health initiatives and PBS scheme, environmental safeguards, and perhaps even gun laws, could be at risk.

In the face of growing debt and blown-out deficits stretching into the future, we borrow $8.8 billion dollars to give to the Reserve Bank who said they didn’t need it.  Mr Hockey denies this was a political ploy to make Labor’s debt look bad and, when he takes out the dividends before the next election, that won’t be just to make him look good.  The interest over 3 years will go close to $1 billion dollars.  Expensive PR exercise from the party who promised to stop the waste, pay down the debt, and get the budget back into the black.

The government is restricting access to information, appointing cronies to every position, gagging debate, and pushing ahead with an agenda that blatantly favours big business and the very rich and looks increasingly like the IPAs 100 point wish list.

Unfortunately it is at the expense of our environment, our children, our health, our humanity, and the very fabric of our society.

Western Australians could find themselves with a very grave responsibility in the new year.  At the moment, the only check on Tony Abbott’s ravages is the Senate.

If you get the chance to vote again next year, think very carefully about what Abbott will hand to the big corporations should he have control of both houses.  Think of the repercussions to health and education and social services and workers’ conditions.  Think about how minor parties will vote and who they will give their preferences to.

Currently you have voted for these three Liberal Party Senators:

Linda Reynolds.  Apart from the fact that she was recruited by Brian Loughnane, Peta Credlin’s husband, I can find little about her.

David Johnstone.  Even though he has been Minister for Defence for three months I have not seen or heard anything of him.  Actually, I don’t recall much from him in his time as Shadow Minister either.

And of course, Michaelia Cash, the “Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Woman” as the sign on her door describes her.  Who could forget her recent Senate performance.

Perhaps these people represent your local interests well – I don’t know – but, should you be asked to vote again, I would say think wisely Western Australia – the fate of the nation could be in your hands.

Image courtesy of rendezvousofme.blogspot.com

Image courtesy of rendezvousofme.blogspot.com

35 comments

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  1. Matters not.

    A very good article! It weaves all the threads together.

    Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive

  2. M. R.

    One can scarcely believe this list; but of course it’s all true: these are wicked children who have found their way into the lolly-shop with their parents’ money-boxes in hand, and will soon be out in the garden torturing the kitten.

  3. FSM is coming.

    Take everything away from those who have nothing and need help the most. While those who have no idea what it’s like to go without, get more and more breaks. I really hate this government.

    WHEN DO WE TAKE TO THE STREETS???

  4. Nigel Stanley

    But on the bright side, when the shouting is over and King Coal is dead, we will have the world’s biggest coal museum at Point Abbott in Queensland.

  5. Christian Varga

    I wholeheartedly agree with everything here except the car industry part. Australian car manufacturers have proved they are unable to compete against foreign manufacturers, even with the various advantages provided from producing vehicles locally. They’ve had ample time to get it right and they never managed to get there, so there’s absolutely no reason to believe that injecting money now is going to save these companies in the long term. They’ll just end up in the same position in 5 years time. Anyway, It’s not the governments job to support failing business’, it’s their job to support the people. Instead of injecting billions into our un-competitive companies, that money should instead be used to support & train all affected people and help them get new jobs in an industry that isn’t going to end up dying out any time soon.

  6. Michelle Rafter

    I too am similarly alarmed at the course of destruction the Prime Minister and his party have set this once great nation on! The sooner we have a double disillusion the better. Not even the party faithful are sprouting off about the policy decisions being pushed through by their beloved LNP. It would appear the health and education of the people they were democratically elected to ‘serve’ are of little consequence. The almighty surplus is their ultimate goal, at any cost. In my humble opinion, any government which runs on a surplus, does so at the expense of the people!

  7. mlevins

    Pity this is so laced with hyperbole, and that clauses such as “been caught spying on Indonesia and East Timor” which was not this governments fault (neither the being caught or the instigation). It’s style makes it easier for this who are Abbott blind to dismiss it.

  8. lawrencewinder

    Excellent summary.
    What they are doing would seem to be Kennett writ on a larger scale: obliterate the workforce to fragment the Unions, privatise everything within reach, allow the new bosses to introduce low wages and strip back penalty rates, introduce more draconian anti-demonstration legislation …as Menzies said “A stable economy is one where there are two workers outside the factory for every one inside.”

  9. Miriam English

    As coal becomes increasingly uneconomic we will be left with all our eggs in a disintegrating basket.

    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/17/1263338/-Wind-power-generation-almost-at-par-w-Coal-as-Buffet-spends-1-Billion-on-new-Iowa-wind-generators

    I can’t locate another article I read a while back that has wind power already cheaper than coal. And there was a hilarious news item in New Scientist about a year ago I think, where the nuclear industry in Germany complained that wind power should be cut back because it was reducing the cost of electricity to below what was viable for nuclear power plants.

    Here in Australia we have greater potential for solar power generation than almost any other country in the world. Many years ago we were actually leading the world in solar research. Not anymore. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Australia has more roof-installed solar panels (thermal and photovoltaic) than any other country in the world. There are great advantages to having distributed power generation.

    And don’t forget geothermal power generation. We have a number of places where it would be relatively easy to generate most of Australia’s electricity requirements 24/7 without mining or burning anything.

    Looks like Abbott may succeed in destroying our economy while making us an international pariah.

    Oh well, at least we’ll serve as an example for others to point to and learn what not to do, like Greece and austerity, our experience will show what utter poison big business and a right-wing government can do if enabled by corrupt mainstream media.

    Oh, fun.

  10. Kaye Lee

    Christian,

    All countries subsidise car manufacturing. Our subsidy per capita is far lower than Germany or the US.

    “The lack of scale, the costs of importing key components and labour costs result in higher unit costs for taxpayers compared with more heavily-subsidised, but more efficient producers, such as Germany. By contrast, the Australian industry is more efficient and less costly to maintain in both per capita and unit costs than vehicles produced, for example, in the United States and elsewhere.”

    http://theconversation.com/factcheck-do-other-countries-subsidise-their-car-industry-more-than-we-do-16308

    You have to weigh that up against the economic and social cost of unemployment and the loss of whole industries and supply chains.

  11. Terry2

    With the first 100 days of our penance now served, I took the opportunity to look at the coalition’s Direct Action Plan and in particular what Greg Hunt calls the ‘New Solar Sunrise for Australia’. This guarantees $100 million pa to establish an additional one million solar homes by 2020.

    Does anybody know how this is going ?

  12. Paul Raymond Scahill

    A very good article, unfortunately most of it, if not all, is true. I must agree, when is the Governor General going to step in and get rid of the “village idiot”.. I think this idiot has done more than enough damage to many of the previous Governments innovations, almost as though he and the rest of the dills are set on destroying this once great country. I would almost bet my life on the facts that most of these so-called advisers and “policy makers”do not have any grey matter, between the lot. Of course I am only backing my judgement on the ridiculous suggestions that are being put forward, by the aforementioned. Get rid of Abbott NOW.

  13. Kaye Lee

    mlevins,

    I think it is understood that most countries spy on each other. The Indonesia spying was on Rudd’s watch but the Timor l’Este incident is even more disturbing.

    Under the guise of providing Foreign Aid, Alexander Downer as Foreign Minister under the Howard government, offered to build cabinet rooms for the newly formed Timorese government. At the same time he had them bugged to give advantage to Woodside Petroleum in trade negotiations. he was later employed by them. There is a case in the International court now about it so George Brandis approved the confiscation of the key witness’ passport and the raiding of the office of the lawyer who is representing the East Timorese.

    The fault of THIS government has been in how it has handled these things when they have been exposed.

  14. Anomander

    Superb summation Kaye. I’m so perpetually angry I have run out of expletives to describe this farcical excuse for a government.

    Let’s not forget the supposed commission of enquiry into unions, the the slashing of 20,000 public service jobs (as a start) and attacks on the ABC. All achieved in only 100 days. No mention of politician’s rorts, or an inquiry into tax avoidance and the widespread use of off-shore tax havens. What about a commission into media concentration or manipulation or vote-buying and influence peddling by big business?

    Note too the resources being dug-up will not go to service our own needs, they will be shipped immediately off-shore and the profits will all flow into the mostly foreign-owned miners’ pockets. Without sufficient energy to meet our own needs we will be forced to equal the overseas prices, which will generate inflationary pressures and place even greater stresses on the economy, at a time we should be weaning ourselves off these destructive fuel sources to achieve energy self-sufficiency.

    What exactly is the Libs’s ulterior motive, to diminish the long-term viability and value of government services to such an extent that the public gets jack of them and demands they have to be replaced with allegedly more efficient privatised services? Of course the value of these failing services or departments would be severely diminished, so the government could sell them cheaply on the market (claiming the monies will be used to address the budget deficit) and their rich mates could scoop them-up at bargain basement prices? Back-handers and directorships all around when we leave parliament boys!

    Enjoy the last excesses of our great age of progress people, because a dystopian future is about to descend upon us and future generations, thanks to Abott and his vile mates. A world where mega corporations own and run everything (at a sizeable profit of course), where governments answer to their demands and their might. Where the average punter is a powerless indentured serf, earning a pittance to pay-off their life debt to the corporations in a vicious a dog-eat-dog environment where only those with the right connections or wealth survive, and everyone else suffers a life of servitude just trying to eke out a living, with all rights and entitlements stripped away.

    Time to take to the streets. We need to start with protests and civil disobedience, working our way up to a coup. Anything to get rid of these destructive scum.

  15. Kaye Lee

    Miriam,

    I read the same thing here

    “Wind power in Australia is now cheaper than energy from fossil fuels, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Electricity generated from new wind farms costs about $82 for each megawatt per hour (MWh) produced, while electricity from new coal plants costs about $95/MWh and electricity from new natural gas plants costs about $100/MWh. These prices do not include Australia’s carbon tax, which runs at about $23.5 per tonne of carbon emissions, which makes the real market price of coal power about $146/MWh and natural gas about $119/MWh.

    According to Michael Liebreich, chief executive of BNEF, “The perception that fossil fuels are cheap and renewables are expensive is now out of date [. . .] The fact that wind power is now cheaper than coal and gas in a country with some of the world’s best fossil fuel resources shows that clean energy is a game changer which promises to turn the economics of power systems on its head.” Indeed, Australia was the world’s fourth-largest coal producer, and the world’s largest coal exporter, in 2010.

    Prices for both renewable energy and fossil fuel-based energy have been changing rapidly in Australia. Since 2011, the price of wind has come down 10 percent and the price of energy from solar has dropped by 29 percent. Meanwhile, fossil fuel prices are rising. This is especially true for Australia’s natural gas prices, as large exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) have driven up prices domestically.”

  16. Kaye Lee

    Just as I post that, the next thing I read is this

    “Tony Abbott has signalled next year’s review of the renewable energy target could wind back, or even scrap, the scheme, saying lower power prices are the government’s primary goal and the rationale for the RET no longer exists.

    “We have to accept that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressure in the system and we ought to be an affordable energy superpower … cheap energy ought to be one of our comparative advantages … what we will be looking at is what we need to do to get power prices down significantly,” he said.

    Abbott said he would also “consult closely” with his Business Advisory Council, chaired by Maurice Newman, as the taskforce looked for ways to increase industry competitiveness.

    Newman has previously called for the RET to be scrapped because he believes the scientific evidence for global warming and the economic case for renewable energy no longer stack up.

    The former chairman of the ABC and the Australian Securities Exchange said persisting with government subsidies for renewable energy represented a “crime against the people” because higher energy costs hit poorer households the hardest and there was no longer any logical reason to have them.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/dec/18/renewable-energy-tony-abbott-signals-he-could-wind-back-or-scrap-targets

  17. Gail T

    WAKE UP W.A. VOTE LABOR.
    WAKE UP W.A. VOTE LABOR.
    Perhaps the campaign in WESTERN AUSTRALIA SHOULD BE CALLED THE .W.A.KE UP cAMPAIGN.
    Kaye Another excellent article.

  18. doctorrob54

    Another fantastic piece of work Kaye,and because it’s all true I’m with Anomander,If this was 20yrs ago
    we would be marching toward a revolution.This can’t go on for three years.

  19. doctorrob54

    The script writer that wrote that sure was a few years ahead of his time.It’s such a sad fact the only politicians that think like that are from the far left,and I think most Greens.

  20. mikestasse

    I too am hopeful that WA will wake up. If the Greens and Labor regain control of the Senate, they could then block supply, and maybe, just maybe, get Abbott kicked out the way poor old Whitlam was. Revenge would be soooooo sweet.

    On the subject of switching to renewables, I agree that we should make some effort, and in fact believe the car factories are entirely capapble of building wind turbines and solar thermal equipment. After all, during WWII, car factories stopped making cars and switched to tanks and airplanes.

    HOWEVER, what you must understand is that the ENTIRE non renewable energy system we currently have was built one brick at a time, as and when it was needed, using vast amounts of easy to get at and very very cheap oil…….

    Today, we have the opposite. We have to replace everything, in a virtual single swoop (because we only have ten years left at most…) with oil that is very expnesive and very hard to get at.

    The future, in my opinion, does not include industrailisation on the current scale, and relocalised EVERYTHING……

    Look at this chart that explains it all in one foul swoop… http://howtosavetheworld.ca/images/desolation.jpg

    And for a full explanation…
    http://damnthematrix.wordpress.com/2013/12/13/this-is-what-a-desolated-earth-looks-like/

  21. Pappinbarra Fox

    I am wondering if people who promote diggign up coal and hurrying the world towards disaster will one day in the future be charged and convicted of crimes agaisnt humanity? Just wonderintg Gina, Tony and Clive? Just wondering if you ever wonder that?

  22. Gilly

    “The carbon tax is socialism by stealth”. Insurance underwriters are all factoring the effects of climate change into the costs of premiums. I had never thought of Insurers as socialists.

  23. Simon

    I have read Kaye Lee’s article and others by John Lord & Sandra Searle who from my perspective encapsulate the “mind set” of the Abbott Government. It is sobering reading and I found myself thinking Oh My God there is so much more to the extremest nature of this government. The same could be mirrored for Liberal states like Queensland! My confidence in Labor is not great either but they seem a better evil than Mr Megalomaniac Abbott – I must now confess till the mid “Noughties” 2004 I was a rusted on Liberal conservative voter.
    It was when I started to ask myself the question does Climate change mean anything to me. On reading more I found the hypocrisy of John Howard’s actions on the subject & around the Kyoto proceedings. A legacy that is living on through Howard’s “mini me” on steroids Heir Abbott.

    The old saying “we get the government we deserve” is not very appealing to me at this point.

    My question is how can this be changed so we can have governments who – as John Lord put so eloquently –
    “Good government is about making and implementing decisions that serve the common good. That give security to the people it governs. Follows the rule of law and is truthful about its intentions. When making decisions it must be responsive to the will of the people. It should allow its citizens to be participatory in the function of government. It should be inclusive, equitable and supportive of the people’s right to know. By equity I mean the people have a right to a fair reward for the fruits of their labour. And above all it should be answerable to the people.”

    And indeed heed the advice of the peer reviewed scientific community on issues of the environment, our long term sustainability issues for the mid to long term NOT the incestuous 3 year political cycle.

    Does the answer lie in progressive groups like Get Up Australian Conservation Foundation WWF etc?
    And will we see an escalation of attacks on these groups by self interested media, corporates or the government directly as they have done in removing funding for a raft of environmental and social programs. Perhaps somehow restricting the progressive groups access to members via social and internet media?

    My guess is the above groups and their widening membership is the key but can we do more??

  24. doctorrob54

    You are not the only one,I wonder about it very,very often.But then I get angry cos I know they will never be punished.Just as the three main instigators of the coalition of the killing,they will never be charged with war crimes.Look at what the Jews are doing to the Palestinians,and here we are with the majority of western nations supporting Israel.And it’s OK for them to travel the world murdering their opposition eg Arafat and hunting Nazis from 78yrs ago.This world needs to be turned on its head and then a bit of cranial cleansing needs to take place.But that will never happen either.

  25. Miriam English

    Here is something to cheer you all up:
    http://www.thevine.com.au/life/news/100-days-of-abbott-reasons-to-be-hopeful-20131218-269954/

    It explains why it may actually be a good thing Abbott came to power. It may be just what’s needed to wake people up and rattle a few politicians, pulling their heads out of their damn ideologies, left and right. It may be just what is needed to make people really thankful for our social support networks.

    To quote Joni Mitchell, you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

  26. Kaye Lee

    As long as we don’t pave paradise and put up a parking lot in the mean time, I’m on board. Great link thanks Miriam.

  27. Joe

    So pleased we have adults in charge now. They should give the budget a massive boost by scrapping ALL programs that have anything to do with the “Global Warming” scam.

  28. Stuart Dean

    Hahaha good one, Joe.

  29. mich

    Sophie mirabella is good mates with Abbott. She however is of such poor intellectual quality that the only reason she got the job is for the exact reason she is mates with Abbott.

  30. Andrew Smith

    I am a proud Australian, and love my country dearly. I live and work in Africa these days, but feel now that I could never return to this country that I do not understand any more. How have we allowed these idiots with these crazy self destructive ideals to get in to power. What is wrong with the Australian population, how have they let this happen? I am so frustrated that the masses are so blind to what is happening. Stop being lazy and apathetic, stop the stupidity, stand up as we the people, and make these idiots that you put into power understand that they represent and work for you, not the other way around.

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