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You are being lied to

It’s neither ignorant nor foolish to feel you have been poorly treated and even failed by the parliamentary system of late. You probably have been and it is no wonder people are disillusioned with both our political system and the major parties that control it. Most of us would probably agree that the government and many of its bureaucrats serve themselves far more than they serve us, but I have to admit I am one of the lucky ones. Those in dying industries and those who can’t find work, or are locked out of the housing industry have far more reason to resent the seemingly out of touch political establishment than I.

This comment does not only apply to our current government. While the Abbott-Turnbull government has set a new standard (at least in the Australian context- let’s not look across the Pacific) for outrageous ineptitude, heartlessness and avarice, they didn’t create our political system complete with its cronyism, its lobbyists and its entitlements on their own. Past Labor governments also have to take responsibility for the conditions they have contributed to in the power duopoly they have enjoyed for decades.

In the face of egregious expense scandals such as Sussan Ley and Bronwyn Bishop, the equally ludicrous expenses of sitting ministers such as Barnaby Joyce and Julie Bishop, and the ridiculously out of touch Ian McDonald raging incoherently at losing his lifetime gold card, how is someone who struggles to pay their bills meant to believe that politicians of any stripe care about them?

There is a Great Deception being perpetuated against the Australian people. We most definitely live in a country of increasing inequality yet The Great Deception blinds or distracts many to it, by turning their fears and anger in another direction.

I don’t need an economics degree to join the links between the fact that the rich are getting richer and that the rest of us are comparatively poorer. Throw in the fact that our politicians are regularly recipients of gifts, hospitality and donations from the wealthy benefactors who benefit most from their policies, and it paints a pretty clear picture (ever wondered why the one promise Turnbull seems determined to keep is his 50-billion-dollar company tax cut). Minimum wage was once enough to support a family. Now it isn’t. And at the same time, millionaire elites own more and more of the country and cavort in the public eye. Two people in Australia are now wealthier than a fifth of Australians combined!

I am outraged at this. You should be too- even more so if you are under financial duress or have concerns about your employment future. You have every right to be furious. Our government (and this one more than any before it) serves its own interests and that of its benefactors more than it serves everyday Australians. Yet this stark reality doesn’t seem to garner the level of public anger one might expect.

The fact that many Australians are not angrier at this state of affairs is a testament to the effectiveness of this deliberate misdirection. The Great Deception uses exaggeration and spin to redirect the worries and misery of Australians who are being let down by their government to an easy and obvious (but undeserving) target. Like a carnival magician, our government urges us to concentrate fully on the ‘threat’ of terrorism and the social and financial costs to this country of refugees and Muslim immigration, so that we don’t notice the impact of its domestic economic policies.

Refugees, immigration and foreign aid are unjustifiably blamed for everything from unemployment and a shrinking economy to housing affordability, congestion and crime. At the same time, the worst representatives of the Islamic religion are cherry-picked and used to promote the argument that Australian lives and cultural norms are under threat. The Great Deception itself spawns any number of related lies, usually transmitted as memes of false choices (which I have spoken about in greater detail here) with no substantiating evidence, but large text imploring others to ‘share’ without thinking critically about the subject.

It’s all rhetorical smoke and mirrors though. I have previously covered the exaggerated fears of terrorism in another post, so I won’t repeat it here. In this essay I will consider the common refrain about the cost of refugees. In this context, let me say again, two people now own as much as one fifth of Australia combined! A third of Australia’s large corporations paid no tax last year and The Commonwealth Bank just posted a half-yearly profit of 4.9 billion dollars. Let all of that that sink in before you tell me that soft diplomacy programs such as foreign aid and our refugee intake are the reason we can’t afford to house our elderly, homeless and veterans.

Contrary to what people like Hanson and other right-wing mouthpieces would like you to believe, refugees accepted into Australia do not get more generous conditions than other Australian welfare recipients. If found to be refugees, they receive the same welfare benefits as other Australians (along with minor initial support such as language lessons to maximise their chances of assimilating and contributing to Australian society).

The Australian newspaper is a strong proponent of The Great Deception (in fact if the paper were to rename itself, The Great Deception, it would be a much more appropriate name) and last year they reported with suitable horror that refugees cost over 100 million dollars in welfare payments a year (this is of course a tenth of what it cost to keep a fraction of this number of refugees in offshore detention for the same year but I’m sure that wasn’t considered relevant). While Fact Check could not verify this claim I’m not going to dispute the figures, I’m disputing the reporting. Fulfilling our humanitarian obligations will cost money and there are many other costs of refugees not even covered in the report. But the paper also didn’t include the context that this cost comes out of a budget of over 434.5 billion for that year, meaning it is roughly 0.0002% of the total budget. That leaves 99.9998% of the budget (or the other 434.4 billion) that could be used to pay for policies to reduce inequality and support Australian families.

The problem isn’t the money we are spending on refugees, it’s what we are doing with the rest of it.

After many years, The Great Deception is developing cracks. The incredible greed and disconnect of people like Joyce, McDonald and Ley, juxtaposed against government indifference to the struggles of many Australian families is becoming too blatant to ignore. Moreover, the market hegemony of commercial media giants such as Newscorp – who as large corporations themselves, benefit from keeping our attention from the inequality that favours them – is slipping. More and more Australians are taking note of the outrageous disparities within our own country and demanding answers. While one manifestation of this anger is interconnected with the regrettable rise of the detestable alt-right movement, a demand for answers and better government policy isn’t a bad thing in itself. We just have to consider the answers we are given critically and rationally. It would be a shame to replace one Great Deception with another.

This article was originally posted on Quietblog

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  1. Keitha Granville

    How do we get this across to all those out there who believe what they are told regardless of any facts in opposition ? I shake my head in disbelief at the rantings of some on FB and other media – spouting Hansonsims as bible, spouting hate and bigotry at every step, supporting the rubbish notions of jobs and growth.

    I despair, I weep for the future of my country, my planet.

  2. jim

    Quotes attributable to Acting Treasurer Robin Scott……..“The Andrews Labor Government’s strong infrastructure pipeline and sound financial management continues to reap benefits for Victorians – with almost 200,000 jobs created since we came to office in November 2014.”

    “We are delivering on our promise to Victorians – to grow a strong economy that bolsters job growth and creates opportunities for all.”

    Published on January 19, 2017

    There are more people employed in Victoria than ever before, and there have been almost 200,000 extra jobs created since the Andrews Labor Government came to office in November 2014.

    The latest data released today by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows that there were an extra 13,600 people in a job in Victoria in December.

    “Victoria’s labour market is expected to remain robust, with recent trends in leading indicators of employment growth, including job advertisements and vacancies, indicating solid job growth is likely to continue”.

    This is more than the national result, which saw an increase of 13,500 for December.

    Across the 2016 year, 118,500 extra people were employed in Victoria, 67,800 of these full-time. Nationally there were 91,500 people employed with a fall in full-time work of 34,000.

    The numbers confirm that the annual pace of total and full-time job creation in Victoria continues to lead the nation.

    In stark contrast, in New South Wales (LNP) only had an increase of 600 jobs in December, and 1000 jobs across 2016.

    Alarmingly Australia saw a very big rise in work/death accidents for 2016 @178 people (LNP= attacking unions).

  3. Jaquix

    After reading the recent post about LNP members owning a company which somehow got a contract to manage the welfare card !!!!!! And making handsome profits (thankyou taxpayers!) they feed back to the parties. This is Parakeelia on Steroids. How many more dodges do they have going on? Its getting to the point where Im starting to understand why people are so frustrated with this government they turn to Pauline Hanson in desperation. Her policies (and mindset) are mostly rubbish, but most voters never read party policies.

  4. Keith

    Pauline Hanson’s mob have mostly voted for LNP Bills. Hanson offers nothing different than the extreme right of the LNP … the extreme right wing policies promoted by Abbott et al have done huge damage to Australia.
    Yesterday I was reading how a liberal minded Governor of Minnesota turned the economy of the State around when wealthy people were forced to pay higher taxes, a situation was created where employment began to flourish.

    We continue to be fed the garbage about trickle down theory:

    We also get fed the nonsense about negative gearing having no impact on young people’s opportunity to buy homes. The age of entitlements is in full swing led by the LNP.

  5. Lorraine Stansfiewld

    It is almost impossible for the majority of people who do not read independent newspapers (which are mostly on-line) to realise the greed and ineptitude of this government. The MSM does not create good journalism by questioning the government’s policies and ethics. I believe that this creates the apathy shown by many people of this country.

  6. Wayne Turner

    Indeed the “weapons of mass distraction” used by the right and their MSM is predictable and appalling.It’s the “minority bashing” of powerless minorities who are NOT white Australians.The look over there…….

    When the real problems include the big business lobby groups,the current government and the likes of one nation,and the MSM.

  7. Harquebus

    The promise of infinite growth on our finite planet is the biggest lie and the cause of most of our problems. Without growth, the mighty will fall and is why they are so desperate, at our expense, to pursue it.

    “I’m referring to a lie that is leading us toward not just political violence but, potentially, much worse. It is an untruth that’s both durable and bipartisan; one that the business community, nearly all professional economists, and politicians around the globe reiterate ceaselessly. It is the lie that human society can continue growing its population and consumption levels indefinitely on our finite planet, and never suffer consequences.”
    “A discussion about planetary limits erupted into prominence in the 1970s and faded, yet has never really gone away. But now those limits are becoming less and less theoretical, more and more real.”
    “Depletion and pollution eventually act as a brake on further economic growth even in the wealthiest nations.”
    “Rather than coming to grips with our society’s fundamental biophysical contradictions, we have clung to the convenient lies that markets will always provide, and that there are plenty of resources for as many humans as we can ever possibly want to crowd onto this little planet.”
    “No doubt many people will continue adhering to these lies even as the evidence around us increasingly shows that modern industrial society has already entered a trajectory of decline.”
    “Just as Team Trump covers its actions with a smokescreen of controversial falsehoods, our society hides its biggest lie of all—the lie of guaranteed, unending economic growth—behind a camouflage of political controversies.”

    The Über-Lie

    “The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function.” — Prof. Albert Bartlett


  8. michael lacey

    Good summary by Harquebus!

  9. Alan Baird

    Yeah, the tragedy of the common. We can ALL have a cow on the common even though the village is 2 million. The common begins to look like the holding paddocks for an abattoir. And STILL there are NO parties that reject the Big Oz of Kevin Rudd (and virtually every other bod who’s a politician). And if you think Hanson et al are against immigration on environmental grounds, you’re in serious do-dos. If the immigrants weren’t “different” they’d be all in favour of it ‘cos they don’t give a flying fig for the Oz environs as part of their DNA… quite the reverse. And the Greens may talk the talk re- the environment but spend most of their time talking about a Merkel-style increase. As Costello said, “Have a baby for Australia”. Oh yeah?

  10. townsvilleblog

    I have read that Australia’s sustainable population is 22 million, as we are the driest inhabited continent on Earth with huge deserts and low rainfall. We do not have a population policy e.g. a family can have no more than 3 children. This has to be discussed as we are already 2 million people over our sustainable limit. Automation is taking our jobs and we need a national conversation about a payment to every citizen as has been mooted overseas. Sadly neither of the major parties are talking about any of this, and Hanson doesn’t have the intellect to consider it, I fear for my country, I fear for my planet, the only bright light is that citizens are taking responsibility for themselves and installing solar power and sometimes batteries at a rapid rate because their conservative old government won’t grasp the nettle.

  11. Peter F

    @Hqb ‘The promise of infinite growth on our finite planet is the biggest lie’ ….. The real sustainable carrying capacity of this country is probably that which existed before 1788. Even that might be over optimistic, because the world is not the same as it was then. I only hope that there is enough knowledge available to the survivors to allow an appropriate balance to be established once we have ended our destructive occupation.

  12. Matters Not

    growth on our finite planet

    Re this oft repeated ‘finite planet’ claim – does that statement include ‘energy’ which comes from the sun (to this very planet) on a fairly regular basis? Or are we talking about a finite universe rather than a finite planet? Or isn’t energy part of the mix? Please explain.

  13. Phil

    Thanks for an interesting and provocative article dave C.

    But are the majority people really deceived as you say? How do you deduce they are deceived? Is the ‘great deception’ really a deception?

    What I deduce from those I speak with and from what I glean from my reading and listening is that Australians are not, by and large, deceived. But I find they are angry – very, very angry and unsure as to how to vent.

    I think the majority Australian people do know, and know very well just how the elites in conservative politics, corporations, in business and amongst the financially cosseted and the culturally priviledged are scamming the system for all it’s got to offer them and then some.

    But what can the mass of ordinary people do when the occasional vote is all they have before being shut out once again. Representative democracy – my arse – more a bloody conspiracy to power and personal gain.

    We have few options, and those we have are severely limited in their potential to change the system.

    The privileged (as named above) fully know that they can keep accumulating greater wealth and greater power because the angry mass of people see no pressure relief valve other than self administering and self destruction like domestic violence, substance abuse, crime, passivity, depression – these are the precursors to civic despondency – but at some point along that tragic continuum the collective psychology of the masses will snap.

    The political and corporate elites are gamblers – they keep fingering the poker machine buttons gaming the masses in the hope they will continue to internalise their disenfranchisement.

    Voting is a waste of time – the system is broken (proof is in our parliament) and its not going to self repair.

    So what do we do?

    1. Withdraw support from their system. Write to the local member – tell him or her that they have lost your trust and your confidence. No need to say why – they know why. Let them figure it out – or not.

    2. Reduce personal consumption. Stop buying stuff that isn’t essential. Consumerism is a manufactured ‘ism’ that debases the human spirit and corrupts the civic dream.

    3. Stop reading ‘the news’ – it’s not news – its a corporately manufactured daily pill that consumers pop as if out of necessity – a drug of addiction. Turn off the image manipulations of TV, turn away from the ABC – its been corrupted. Yes, there’s real news and there’s worthy opinion spread right across the internet – find it.

    4. Turn this failed system upside down. Let the powerful and the privileged experience real fear – its their time to feel fear – they have been projecting fear as a tool so long (welfare cuts, Centrelink scam, JobSearch cruelty, cut penalty rates) they’ve forgotten how it feels – but they have so much more to lose. They want a fight? Great – let’s give them the fight they think they want but which they know in their cold hearts they will lose.

    So, first, withdraw support from their corrupted system and tell them – tell them they survive only because the majority until now has sanctioned them – but we are the majority – and they know it – and we are angry – they need to feel the threat of rejection then our anger.

    March in March

  14. Harquebus

    Matters Not
    Goodonya mate. True to form as always.
    I’m not going to engage.
    Google it. It actually returns some pretty good results and you just might learn something.

  15. Red Leaf

    Matters Not, energy is only a part of this planet. Infinite amounts of energy won’t make the soil fertile, nor will it generate more soil, nor will it generate clean water, it won’t replace the oil reserves. This planet is finite and it does have a lot of resources but apart from solar energy they are also finite.

  16. Matters Not

    and it does have a lot of resources but apart from solar energy they are also finite.

    So energy isn’t a long-term problem?

    So this notion: The first law of thermodynamics doesn’t actually specify that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, but instead that the total amount of energy in a closed system cannot be created nor destroyed (though it can be changed from one form to another). Needs to be put in context?

  17. Jon Liddle

    When a people fear their government, there is tyranny. When a government fears their people, there is democracy……..didn’t Jefferson utter that, or something similar, over 200 yrs ago…..

  18. Harquebus

    “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well armed lamb contesting the vote.” — Benjamin Franklin

  19. John

    The CEO of ANZ ($11m p.a.) could pay out my mortgage in 4 days …

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