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Following on from Laurie Atlas’ “view from the Right” of the Abbott Government’s first year in power, Jacob Lynagh fills us in on the view of Abbott and co from the Left…and it ain’t pretty.
On the day of the last federal election, I crawled out of bed in time to vote, made the dreary trek home, closed the shutters of my bedroom window and sunk into the numbness as I waited for the inevitable – and thought of years to come.
Now, as the first awkward, grim and confusing year of the reign of the Abbott Government has passed us, it is time to think about the year that has been.
I have been called a latte-sipping, bleeding heart Leftie more times than I can count, so you can predict the tone of this piece from the get-go.
That is not to say that I necessarily disagree with all of the Liberal policies, or that I align myself in complete opposition to any conservative school of thought. I sit on the dreaded left when it comes to a lot of social and economic policy, but I am classically conservative in regard to foreign policy and personal freedom.
I am writing this not just in defence of the progressive, but of the conservative too.
It has become hard to find a home in either camp – I am a wandering nomad on the political landscape – but it gives me a sturdier ground to fight from.
In this critique of the Abbott Government, I am swinging from the Left and from the Right – as the Liberals have brazenly turned their backs on both.
This has grown far from an issue of Left and Right. In an attempt to please big business, bigots and neocons, the Abbott Government has taken us to the cleaners.
In the past twelve months they have not merely ignored the Left, but abandoned the right and played along softly to the tune of those who bankrolled their campaign, by repealing the carbon and mining taxes and offering massive company tax cuts.
It was clear from the start that the Liberal Government would be soft on progressive social issues, like same-sex marriage, gender equality, and immigration. Cuts to the ABC, university funding and welfare came as no surprise to anyone.
However, there are two big shocks when it comes to Abbott’s assault on the Left. The first is the jarring change to the Newstart and Youth Allowances, which will leave much of Australia’s youth out in the cold for six months at a time.
The second issue is only surprising in the scope of its cruelty – the Abbott Government’s immigration policy. I don’t think anyone would have believed that Australia would defy the cornerstone of refugee law; refoulement. To place refugees into the hands of their persecutors is an affront to human decency.
The Abbott Government seems so hell-bent on a reinterpretation of human rights law that it is possible they are thrusting us toward the final hours of our great nation’s international esteem, without blinking an eye.
All-in-all, it was quite obvious they would head down this path. What comes more as a jolt is the government turning its back on the classic battle hymn of the conservative, and the song of its own party faithful.
The Institute of Public Affairs is the preeminent conservative voice in Australia, chiefly supporters of the LNP, and yet even they have been betrayed by the current government.
The government has come under heavy fire from the policy director of the IPA on data retention laws and by the executive director on free speech in regard to 18c.
It doesn’t stop there – IPA senior fellows have criticised the government over taxes, bailouts and Paid Parental Leave – all things you would expect to see under a Labor government.
Freedom, privacy, tax and welfare – I challenge you to develop a list of four policies more crucial to the conservative way of thinking.
Given the recent military agreements with the United States and the heavy rhetoric coming from the government, they seem to have taken on the neoconservative stance of world policing, while refusing to aid anybody who comes pleading for our help.
What we have been given in these twelve months is not a conservative government. It is not a Liberal government and it is surely not a progressive one. It’s a reactionary, slash-and-burn rampage through what Australia was.
They are a government who have turned their backs on the conservatives, abandoned their own party members and outright ignored the Left, finding some kind of tawdry middle ground between all three factions in which they somehow fail to represent a single Australian.
If policy was not bad enough, it all seems to have been written by a pack of lunatics. Let’s take a look at some of the folk who are running the place, and what they have done with the inaugural year of their reign.
George Brandis, an uncontrollable cur on the warpath, is going for the jugular of privacy itself with the heavily criticised and lightly understood data retention laws.
To store phone call and web browsing history, for any length of time, is contemptible. Liberty is dangling from a thread before us, and few are speaking up against it. The data retention proposal is not something the average Australian should ignore, for when the whole sordid deal goes down, we will have few freedoms left to protect – and no means to protect them.
It is not a stretch of the imagination to picture the mad king plotting some kind of sick, Brandisian dystopia – a haze of subjugation and fear-mongering. It is a matter of time before we see blanket curfews, under the banner of counter-terrorism, naturally.
Scott Morrison has had a year plagued by human rights activists and dogged by a high court trial – it’s like everybody is trying to stop him from doing his job.
You may question the morality of the immigration minister’s policy, maybe even his transparency regarding attempts to black out the media – but Mr Morrison is unquestionable in his morals.
There is no doubt in my mind that he is morally rooted in a kind of wretched cold-bloodedness that only pure depravity could breed.
If his heart pumps anything at all, it is a stagnant and uninspired slurry, reminiscent of the self-congratulatory public addresses the man has made, maybe once or twice this year.
I am dumbfounded by his continued use of Christianity to support his ethical standing, while being as close to an enemy of many of Australia’s churches as you can get.
I find the minister to be completely devoid of humanity, and I only say that because I desperately hope that he will prove me wrong.
Please minister, prove me wrong.
Joe Hockey has seemingly become a leper to the the Abbott camp this past year, with repeated blunders and a clear eye for the big man’s job.
From his statement that the poor do not drive cars, to his clear lack of understanding regarding vital aspects of the budget, to leaving his car in a disabled parking space – Hockey’s mistakes have been quite public, and very embarrassing.
I have always felt Hockey to be quite a likeable fellow, which makes it all the more difficult to watch him stumble from speech to speech like an incompetent crook in a 90s family flick.
Hockey is a man so seemingly disconnected from reality that even he believes the wild claims he is making. We could all have a good laugh about it – if the idiot stepson of the Liberal family was not in charge of our nation’s finances.
His entire economic policy consists of turning Australia upside down and shaking it.
When it comes to PM Tony Abbott, I do not have much to say. Fortunately, his subordinates have taken much of the spotlight away from him – it did not take long to stop everyone talking about that sly wink, did it?
I cannot comprehend how Abbott is holding it all together; keeping his house in order and cleaning up after so many politicians who should know better. If he gets through this term without a major rift in the party, or a leadership challenge, he may need to take to writing parenting books.
I suppose I should sympathise with the man in some way, but his demented obsession with the destruction of Australia’s welfare system, international standing and moral foundation stands in the way of sympathy.
Journalists are filled with a cruel glee now that it has become so effortless to make a sick caricature of the government. Nothing compares to the sight of your enemy injured, and that rush as you go in for the kill – but journalists are not a balanced lot. It is beyond frightening for the average Australian – these men and women are in control of everything – and I am surprised more people are not running for the hills.
Although this piece may seem like a woeful and mean-spirited drag, I can never discount the hope we have for a brighter future for The Lucky Country. Australia may not be quite in the pits at the moment, but I cannot say that I face each day with the enthusiasm and sunshine that I should, and I doubt I stand alone in that.
In the first malignant year of this Abbott Government, the PM has ignored the left, turned his back on the Right and fumbled his way through a complete appeasement of big business and nationalism. I do not know what next year has in store for us and I cannot say I am in any hurry to find out.
If you missed Laurie Atlas’ “view from the Right” of the Abbott Government, take a read…