Cast your mind back to 2013.
Unlike the rest of the world, Australia had come through the GFC without suffering a recession. At the end of August, net debt was a bit over $161 billion and monthly hours worked per employed person averaged 141.42.
After three terms of a Coalition government, we have endured our first recession in thirty years, net debt is $606 billion, and monthly hours worked per employed person have plummeted to 125.16. Wages are stagnant- adjusted for inflation, Australian wages actually declined in 2021 by 0.3% – the worst outcome in 7.5 years. Penalty rates have been abolished for many low paid workers, and casual and contract work is increasingly the norm.
In 2013, the rollout of the nation-building fibre to the premises national broadband network was underway. Then along came Tony Abbott who thought the interwebby thingy was an expensive white elephant only used for playing games and watching videos – and trashed it.
On Thursday, the Minister for the Digital Economy, the hapless Jane Hume, announced in an address to CEDA, “The Morrison Government has set a goal and is unrolling a plan for Australia to be a top 10 digital economy and society by 2030.”
Good luck with that – we currently rank 61st in the world for fixed broadband speeds. (Though I hear Barnaby can organise something for those in the know – seems we are paying a lazy $520k to hook one of his mates up to FttP.)
In 2013, we had a price on carbon that was causing polluters to innovate to cut emissions, a renewable energy target that was driving investment, and we were considered a world leader in action against climate change.
Now we are known as the Colossal Fossil. Our arrogant disregard brings Pacific leaders to tears, literally. We pay people who promise not to cut down trees they were never going to cut down. We pay farmers not to run stock when they had cut herds anyway because of the drought. Polluters continue on their merry way making up numbers about emissions that bear no resemblance to the truth and electricity prices are higher than when we had carbon pricing.
Back in 2013, we had a car industry. But the Coalition hate unionised workplaces so they told them to piss off. They pretended it was about subsidies but that is obviously not the case as they find plenty to subsidise the fossil fuel, agriculture and armaments industries.
Imagine if we had retained that infrastructure and expertise to build the vehicles of the future so we weren’t so reliant on what happens elsewhere or our oil reserves that, for some obscure reason, Angus Taylor chose to store in the US.
We used to have a mining superprofits tax too which was just about to start paying dividends as mines moved from construction to production. Not only did we abolish that and all the redistributive measures attached to it, it seems many of the mining companies now get away with paying no tax at all.
In 2013 there was some optimism that we were on the path towards Reconciliation, that we were finally accepting some responsibility for causing the problems and listening about how to work towards fixing them. Until we were thrown brutally back into the world of terra nullius and Captain Cook and white supremacy.
We used to have a good reputation on the international stage. Now we are known as liars and our crazy Minister for Offence seems determined to start a war with China.
In 2013, we had a female Prime Minister and we subjected her to the very worst our misogynistic patriarchal society could offer for all the world to see. And the treatment of women has only gone downhill from there.
The only positive thing to come out of the Coalition’s term in office was when the voters dragged the government kicking and screaming to marriage equality and the conservatives have been looking for revenge ever since.
It’s time to call quits on what has been the most inept, most incompetent, most offensive, most dishonest, least intelligent, least compassionate, least prepared government this country has ever had the misfortune to endure.
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