Jan 182008

As a subscribed member of Getup!, that relatively newly created think-tank and public activism group, I’ve received a couple of emails promoting a program of public submission to Treasury to do with just how I’d like to see my taxes spent by government.

Frankly, I find the idea of personally making a submission to Treasury advising how I think my money should be spent to be more than a little ludicruous. As if the bureaucratic machine is likely to be interested in, or pay any attention to what I might think. Still, it’s a quiet morning at the grindstone, so I thought, bugger it, why not.

My contribution to the Australian societal budget through payroll tax is probably average or slightly below, given that my annual wage is regarded as ‘average’. Therefore, what I want done with my little bit really doesn’t matter a fig in the grand scheme, but since this submission is to do with the grand scheme, I’ll address that.
I’m not a great user or enthuse over the ‘arts’ per se, however I recognise that without an art, architecture and culture, a society cannot be recognised as civilised, let alone developed or advanced. Ergo, I’d recommend a continued involvement in contribution to the ‘arts’, but not on a priority basis.
Science is my greatest wishing point, and I’d recommend highly a far greater involvement by society through government contribution to advancement of the sciences. Especially those sciences which aim research and development at climate change, energy security and alternative energy generation development. This worlds is running out of resources through profligate use of same by humanity over the past 300 years. I believe we either get smarter, or we go the way of the Dodo. I’d rather my successors and theirs had something worth going on with, thanks very much.
On the subject of successors, consider education. Primary, secondary and tertiary. Not enough focus is being paid to just what our children really need to learn, as opposed to what vested interests want them to learn. History is nice and a part of cultural development, but mathematics, science, language and civil values are much, much more important. Frankly, I’d rather today’s children knew more about mathematics and sciences, spoke good English, wrote with a legible hand and read fluently than had the ability to recite the names of the first colonial explorers to cross the Blue Mountains. Pay the teachers of our children reflecting their individual professionalism, skills and abilities. These people are the moulders of our children’s lives. They need to be properly trained, adequately resourced and suitably remunerated.
On indigenous issues, assisted self-determination in my view is the only way forward. The Northern Territory Intervention, in my view, was an inevitability, regardless of it’s portrayal as a political stunt in the lead-up to last years election. Indigenous Australians exist as two different peoples within the one culture, as I see it. Those who wish to live a simple, culturally rich and independent lifestyle and bring their children up in that style, and those who see and understand the benefits of the white Australian way of life, but don’t wish to surrender entirely to it. The former will always require some modicum of social support. The latter need to be encouraged and assisted into self-sufficiency. To those ends, I commend the Rudd government’s continued involvement in the intervention, with the proviso that on-going oversight is essential. White Australia has a responsibility in my view, to assist in providing a standard of existence for all levels of indigenous Australians which allows them to live in a manner befitting their individual desires, without demanding individual surrender to a set of hardline decrees. I would like to think that at some stage into the future, a return to aboriginal self-determination can eventuate.
On defence and foreign affairs issues, whatever was wrong with ‘Fortress Australia’? Why is Australia still in far flung parts of the globe on expeditionary missions which, in the main, serve the political and national interests of other nations? Australia’s Defence Forces are exactly that. Useful for defence in the national interest and little else. Granted, our military forces are well resourced, peopled with great talent and capabilities but we’re a small nation and regardless of political rhetoric to the contrary, we live in a time of peace. Certainly, with radical religiosity sweeping the globe, we need to be alert to threats to our society and it’s interests, but I fail to see the benefits in having a relatively small defence force scattered across the globe on various missions of good intent.
I’m pleased to see a recent change in foreign affairs rhetoric, which moves this nation away from the cheek-by-jowl (some might say tongue-to-boot) relationship with the United States of America. We need sound relationships with foreign neighbours and allies, but we don’t have to abide by their every whim. Independence means much, much more than simple things like political and cultural differences. Independence is a willingness to express differences, unafraid of possible consequences, aware of likely responses. It’s past time Australia stood apart from global political concerns in which the US under it’s current administration has embroiled herself.
In summary, in regard to distribution of my small fiscal input to Australian governance, I ask that the government be just, fair and reasonable. It’s not a big ask, when all’s said & done.

Besides, Wayne Swan wants to know, so I figure if my writing to Treasury further justifies some bureaucrats position by creating more work in the reading and assimilation of public submissions to a process which Joe Public is rarely asked about, why shouldn’t I help to keep that bureaucrat gainfully employed?

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