Our national security is so important to this Australian government that it goes to the most extraordinary lengths to be able to scrutinise its citizens. It doesn’t trust us at all. As a result, over the past two decades we have slowly come to also trust them less.
The Prime Minister spruiks his lies but is the preferred Prime Minister by a mile. But few trust him. Well that is until the virus came along and now everyone does because in their minds, they want protection from it. So they put their trust in someone with the power to protect them.
When the virus goes and the ghastly hardship of recession takes on its most dreadful consequences, they will revert to their untrustworthy attitude.
We all know of the draconian laws legislated during the terrorist threats and asylum seeker periods that gave our government the right to intrude on our civil rights.
In a speech delivered at the Sydney Human Rights Law Centre Dinner, 27 May, 2016 Peter Greste said:
“The human rights that governments both state and federal has been chipping away at – the right to free speech, the right to privacy, the right to freedom of association and protest – are all foundational rights that underpin the way our democracy works.
Freedom of the press, protection of whistleblowers, the public’s right to know have all taken hits over the past few years. Yet they are fundamental reasons why our country has been one of the most stable, the most peaceable, the most prosperous and successful on the planet.
To try to make us safer by undermining the system that has made us safe in the first place to me just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
This dramatic fall in trust over the decades must surely fall on the actions taken or not taken by our politicians, revolving door leadership, lack of character in leadership, general misbehaviour and self-interest inclinations.
Don’t get me wrong here. The government should take whatever reasonable means it thinks necessary to protect us. But that doesn’t mean that they have cart blanche to do anything.
Anne-Marie Slaughter, writing in the World Economic Forumreminds us that:
“Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan describes a world of unrelenting insecurity without a government to provide the safety of law and order, protecting citizens from each other and from foreign foes.
The horrors of little or no government to provide that function are on global display in the world’s many fragile states and essentially ungoverned regions.”
So how far have conservative governments gone to convince us of the need of their protection? Well, to the point that they have also implied that it is only they that can do so.
All around the world – be it in authoritarian or democratic countries – a form of nationalistic dictatorship is emerging without protest. The leader knows what’s best for us including how to protect us. The sheep follow.
The USA is a case in point. Should Donald Trump win the upcoming election I foreshadow an attempt sometime in his second term to gain a third, even if it means a change in the Constitution, or defiance of it. (And the Republicans have shown to also be sheep.)
In Australia we have seen such a decline in the practice of government that it wouldn’t surprise me if circumstances might prevail that would give the conservatives a long period of power that might entrench them. So good has the propaganda been. Add to it the lack of interest the public has in politics and you have a situation where maintaining the status quo is but a few lies away.
By changing existing laws, they could make it near on impossible for the other side to win. Or by sucking up to rich and privileged they might cement their power even further.
Which brings me to the matter I wanted to talk about before I digressed. How do people who want good honest government go about ridding the system of such dreadful governance?
This government can be voted out of course, but they are comfortable for the moment. They can become so outrageous that they commit political suicide or the force of words becomes so powerful that the people awake from their ignorance.
We would in all agree that decent government requires transparency, honesty, a common good philosophy, virtuous judgement with moral leadership. The current government has none of those characteristics. None at all. Add to our woes, freedom of information has become increasingly hard to come by. So much so that we are kept in the dark.
When it was introduced in it was claimed that it would lead to a better public understanding of decision-making in government. There were also claims that it would lead to increased participation and increased public trust in government.
It never came to pass. This government has made it so difficult to obtain and is so heavily redacted that it is more often than not useless.
“The Australian government is refusing access to documents at record rates, aided by a flawed freedom of information regime beset by delays, understaffing and unnecessary obfuscation.”
It is no exaggeration to say that the Prime Minister is as big a liar as was Tony Abbott.
How bitterly dispiriting it is when the hearts and minds of our politicians are so utterly corrupted by this virus of political lies, but more demoralising it is that ordinary people catch the same infection.
So I have no hesitation, when identifying political liars, of placing the Prime Minister with other serial liars such as Greg Hunt, who continuously lied by omission when Environment Minister. Peter Dutton, who has recently mislead parliament and has lied about conditions on Nauru and Manus. Josh Frydenberg (when Energy Minister) and Malcolm Turnbull with reference to the South Australian blackouts.
Good government requires a large amount of responsibility but unfortunately the Prime Minister refuses to impose any on his ministers and as a result we see ministers getting away with things that are simply corrupt. There is no other word for it.
Then we have the government giving millions of dollars to Murdoch private companies like Foxtel and believing at the same time that an explanation isn’t necessary. And billionaire Solomon Lew personally got $24 million in dividends after his retail group was given $70m in Corvid subsidies. There was no suggestion that he give it back.
Hundreds of large Australian companies don’t pay any tax. The rich and privileged are advantaged over other citizens with all manner of tax evasions.
The National Audit Office, the ones responsible for catching out the sports rorts will be forced to cut back on audits without a budget rescue. The auditor-general forms an important part of the Australian integrity framework, but the Morrison government doesn’t seem to care.
Millions of tax payer dollars are continuously thrown at unworthy causes and announcements made by Scott Morrison that sound good happen months later, or not at all.
And in one of the greatest pieces of political irony in the last decade:
“The Morrison Government remade itself as the champion of a restyled, Labor-created broadband policy, junking seven years of splicing together an ad hoc, hooks, and wires network.”
Nothing is in place to prevent Clive Palmer from influencing an election to the tune of $55 million again:
“What would you say about the health of a democracy if a rural party got ten representative seats for 4.5% of the vote, while the Greens got more than double as many votes but just one seat?”
The government has no hesitation in imposing all sorts of rules and regulations that supposedly protect us from many social evils but the real point is: Who protects us from the government? Who protests our concerns about their many actions?
A form of national ICAC with teeth would of course make governments more responsible, more law abiding but do we really expect a conservative government to take from itself the very things that keep it in power.
I write all this in the hope that my words might filter from the reader to another seeking political knowledge. My words here point out just how badly we are governed. Please pass them on.
My thought for the day
We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the government, the media, and self-interest groups.
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