In another fabulous action-packed week of fantastical spinning, bewildering back-flipping, delusion, parliamentary hullabaloo and other outward manifestations of ‘good,’ ‘adults-in-charge,’ open for business, government, its multi-million dollar turd-polishing media unit was in overdrive. Abbott’s avid fascination with Goebbels lingers on like a fart in a sleeping bag, a noxious emanation impossible to disown or disavow.
Every flip and flop of the Abbott government’s flip-flops and total flops of unworkable, unpopular or utter nonsense policies were presented with fanfare and at great expense to an increasingly alienated nation as ‘positive new’ and ‘exciting new’ policy initiatives to be drooled over by sycophants such as Piers Ackerman, Miranda Devine and the craven conservative apologist, Greg Jennett on ABC TV whom we hate for replacing the insightful, wise and independent Lyndal Curtis who was always good value.
‘On the cards,’ we are told, is the despatch of Tony Nutt, a ‘political fixer’ who looks a bit like his former boss John Howard might if he had impacted wisdom teeth, to Abbott HQ to redress the Credlin captivity in line with Rupert’s orders and as a sop to foolish backbenchers, many of whom have whinged about her and who consequently now have no career prospects whatsoever. Doubtless he will pool ideas with Christopher Pyne, the other, fixer, albeit self-proclaimed, in the ranks.
Work experience boy, Environment Minister Greg Hunt added more utter nonsense as he presented his Direct Action assignment creatively rendered in noxious clouds of choking coal smoke signals. Hunt’s Direct Action means that government not only pays our taxes to polluters to reduce pollution, it now promises no real guidelines to measure that reduction. This is world’s best practice we are assured.
Direct Action, based on Hunt’s ‘fairies at the bottom of the garden’ vision promises to be a real hoot. It sets no baseline at all for electricity generators who are free to burn coal forever with impunity. The Abbott government is very happy with young Greg, consequently, and points to its consistency in always capitulating to the needs of fossil fuel electricity generators, amen, who play ‘a vital role in our economy.’
Any other industry gets a ‘guideline’ based on its peak pollution level over its last five years’ operation. The Climate Institute’s Erwin Jackson sees the policy as a ‘Claytons’, a ‘climate policy you have when you don’t want to reduce emissions.’ Safeguard provisions amount to a Newspeak term for no safeguards at all. How the Direct Action fairies will reduce pollution is anyone’s guess but we all recall Greg telling us he ‘just knows’ it will work. We hope he is not relying simply on our reducing electricity usage to meet his targets. At least he didn’t have to change the law as Brandis just has.
Hunt’s love of coal-fired power is in marked contrast to his declaration of war on solar power companies whom he threatens to investigate, pink batts style, claiming 15 per cent of the 1.3 million rooftop systems in Australia are substandard and potentially unsafe. Yet Australian Solar Council head, John Grimes says that under the Abbott government a safety advisory committee of the regulator has not sat once. Mr Hunt had not shown any concern about safety despite being handed three reports in his time as minister, he observes.
Brandis sighed happily as he helped Australia towards becoming a police state when his new metadata retention legislation was passed by the senate. It will become ever harder to hold government to account, criticise or even scrutinise as the state gained the right to access our metadata whenever it feels like it, for whatever reason, unless you are a journalist in which case a summons is required, although this will most likely be swiftly and readily provided by an obligingly sympathetic judge without unseemly delay in 2017 when the new law comes into effect. Ordinary citizens stand to discover for themselves the ways this data can be used by a range of agencies to follow up even minor misdemeanours such as unpaid parking tickets.
The government was assisted by a feeble Labor government which needs to trade up its leader and a bewildered, incompetent senate which meekly fell into line with Big Brother. A recent guest on The Drum, a much better website than a current events show, said his mates were not worried about it round the BBQ as if apathy and wilful ignorance were somehow some immunity to tyranny.
Contenders for star performer for the government faced stiff competition but must include Health Minister Sussan Ley who proclaimed that reversing the decision to cut funding to domestic violence victims is a policy triumph. How a backflip represents a wise decision, or a government at the cutting edge as she unfortunately put it, is beyond comprehension. All funds are needed and this reversal must be followed by scrapping the $30 million awareness programme and giving the money to outfits which provided women with urgently needed shelter, protection and support. Further funds may found in an efficiency dividend applied to Abbott’s ministry for women.
Given that Tony Abbott made himself Minister for Women only as a calculated snub to those who advocate justice, sexual equality and equal rights for women, Ms Cash’s assistant role remains problematic. If she continues to be subservient to Abbott whose dim and crazy view is that we have shattered all available glass ceilings, women would be better served by putting Ms Cash’s allowance into support for needy families suffering all over the nation from our epidemic of domestic violence, a violence experienced by one third of all women by the age of 15. Every week two Australian women die by from male abuse. Yet we pay more attention to two lives, albeit tragically, lost in a plane crash in an apparent pilot suicide.
Savings to fund programmes to address our domestic violence crisis could be made in our defence budget by scrapping a submarine or two. Even smarter would be to save at least $5 billion a year by bringing our advisers home from Iraq. Three Iraqi militia units who support the US- Iraqi assault on Tikrit have just withdrawn and refuse to fight saying they do not trust the United States.
Doubtless our advisers, with Kevin Andrews’ counselling skills could correct this little rough patch in an otherwise healthy relationship rooted in mutual distrust, hatred and competitive self-advantage. Failing that Andrews could kick a goal for common-sense and humanity by calling our troops home before they are irretrievably enmeshed in another military fiasco. Put the money into combating a real evil at home.
Chip in the $2.5 billion ear-marked for Direct Action, a total waste of money and you’ve got a sum which can be put to good use immediately. Of course millions in small change can be found instantly simply by dismissing all those spin doctors and media gurus who are even more redundant judging by the way the government’s message has continued daily to be totally incoherent. Then there’s the carbon tax which did have a chance of regulating carbon emissions and providing a handy source of revenue. None of this is pie in the sky given the extent of government back-flips and reboots so far. Yet any of it would be a victory for humanity and justice and a brighter future for all of us.
Now that Labor has achieved a good result in NSW and is revitalised, the Liberals who are poised to dump their increasingly crazy leader could make their move and make these much needed changes – if only they could read the writing on the wall. Yet instead, Abbott is likely, bizarrely, to claim some sort of vindication and crow and boast and make even more lunatic captain’s calls as his party, riven by leadership rivalry, drifts with him inexorably into the arid social wasteland of neoliberal neglect for the people in its pursuit of tea party small government and its mindless veneration of its cruel, false, free market god.