Just 31 months until we of the rational Australian diaspora can expect a change of government.I deliberately use the term diaspora because it would appear that Australia’s population is these days so deeply divided on ideological grounds, that we who prefer a progressive, compassionate and egalitarian Australia are looked upon as the defeated minority. Not by ourselves, of course, but by those who believe we are. The older generations, those who grew up under the ‘White Australia’ policy. Those who actually believe any politician of any stripe speaks truth without alternate agendas. Those who believe what mainstream media want them to believe without question. Those who accept without question the social conservative, extreme right-wing view of what Australia has become today.
If I look back through this tome more than a decade, I often wonder why I railed so against the socially conservative Howard government. Yes, there was injustice. There were lies. There were socially divisive, class driven policy structures, class and cultural wars. In the fullness of time, all things change. All wrongs can be put right. All that is required is additional time, patience and understanding on the part of those of us who have the power to elect a socially responsible representative government. A concept, sadly, few in Australia seem to understand today. Socially responsible, representative government.
When I look at what the current socially conservative, extreme right-wing government led by Abbott and his National Party coat tail passengers, and ponder what they have done to this nation in 5 short months, yes, I wonder why I bothered to rail at Howard. The current mob are far, far worse, and infinitely more destructive to the national psyche. The current government is not just socially divisive, but internationally incompetent as proven by the dealings with Indonesia since 7 September 2013. The issues surrounding so-called ‘boat people’, which are rapidly becoming legion, have escalated far beyond simply shipping boat loads off to Nauru. Now it seems this government spends the tax-payer dollar to buy disposable lifeboats at $70,000 each to pack off asylum seekers back to Indonesia from which they depart, AFTER having detained, photographed, interrogated and in some cases it seems, maltreated them. It’s not the government per se maltreating these people, but some individuals within the Australian Navy allegedly, however, it must be understood and accepted that any nation’s military exists to serve solely at the behest of the elected government which commands it. We have seen in the recent past how a military, when granted unfettered command over a collective it – the government – wants demonised, may behave.
It is often stated that a military force is a blunt weapon. A nation’s military exists purely for aggressive offensive or defensive purposes and while during so-called peacetime, a military may be utilised for humanitarian purposes, on socially sensitive issues where politics hold sway, a military force remains a dull-edge tool unsuited to the fostering of diplomatic relations. Especially so when the populace which the military serves through the auspices of the elected representative government are deliberately deprived of any advices from that government on the actions it has the military engaged in.
I do not for one moment lay fault or blame at the feet of any Australian sailor for any of the alleged activities regarding asylum seekers which might appear in the mainstream media. They – the Royal Australian Navy – act on the commands of the government of the day. That is their function. Fault for misdirection, obfuscation, concealment of facts surrounding the mistreatment of asylum seekers to whom we, as a nation, society and signatory to the United Nations Convention relating to the Status of Refugees have obligations under international law, lies entirely with the current government. When I view the actions of this government, I am not angry. I am deeply ashamed. Ashamed to have been born in this country and to call myself Australian. What represents me on the global stage today, I did not choose. This current government is NOT my government and does NOT act in my name. Australians do NOT engage in deliberate tactics of demonisation of minorities who seek our help and understanding. We accept and help, we do not judge, we do not disdain.
Five short months. Such a minimal time frame and yet from the outset we have seen displayed by the Abbott government levels of incompetence unparalleled in the 11 years of the Howard cabal. We’re also seeing levels of right-wing ideology which even Howard hesitated at. Coercive thought processes, outrageous affronts, expectations of 100% media support and overt threats of retaliatory action when that support isn’t forthcoming. I will make a couple of observations now which I believe will come to pass. Look to the refusal to continue to support Australian jobs, by rejecting corporate subsidy. Look to Ford Australia, GM-H, SPC Ardmona. Look to the reference in each case to workplace agreements. The car maker Toyota is on the fringes as well, having been advised by government to review it’s enterprise agreements. Workchoices was never killed off. The body was spirited away to Dr. Abbottstein’s laboratory and has been under reconstruction these past several years. With the assistance of Igor-Abetz, as with Shelley’s monster, Workchoices will arise in a new more terrible form, I have no doubts. That form will wreak havoc on the Australian socio-economic landscape and widen the already deep class divide between those who can/have and those who can’t/have not.
Look also to the restructuring of education under the ‘poodle’ Pyne. The man is an ideological warrior who learned his craft from Vanstone & Bishop & Downer. A true born-to-rule social conservative, he will seek to change the education of our children and their understanding of culture through history to mirror his own beliefs. We’ve already seen the preliminaries, within the first 2 months of his tenure. Backflips and double gainers a-plenty and while his first mis-steps were stumbling he won’t be put off.
Lastly, look to more revelations from within military ranks of a backsliding into the past behaviours of sexism, discrimination, abuse and possibly worse. Why? Look to the performance of Senator David Johnston who refuses to address issues raised about actions which his department must have authorised, seeking instead to push the focus of those issues onto the avenue through which they were presented. In other words, he shoots the messenger. By failing to address allegations he gives license to any perpetrators of such allegations if indeed there is any truth. We now know the navy is being used as a tug boat service. What we don’t know is to what extent, and why people are being detained, interrogated then shoved onto lifeboats & pointed at Indonesia from international waters. As an aside, isn’t that akin to people trafficking?
By throwing up a protective wall against public scrutiny, Johnston shields his military charges against the national view. We know from past experience that when permitted to operate with impunity, the military does what it pleases within its own ranks, judging itself by it’s own standards. A circular policy which inevitably winds up vanishing within itself.
These are all things conservatives do when given the power by the people. Ultimately, we all suffer because conservatism is an ideology which never serves the people, but only its purpose. That is, to maintain a status quo, to maintain the class system, to extort those who cannot fight back and exhort those who can to join with it. There is no point in anger, hate or similar fruitless emotion, this government is in for a term. It behooves we real Australians, the egalitarian Australians, to watch, report, record and remember what happens so that history might bear witness. The more people who remember the trials of conservatism, the fewer who will vote for it in times to come.