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.