Current Affairs Wrap: Cunning stunts, Gen Y, NXT and Brandis

Gen Y are worse off than expected, Tony Abbott’s slump continues and Nick Xenophon tries to out-PUP PUP in this week’s Current Affairs Wrap from Michael Burrill.


As his “year of achievement” draws to a close, Tony Abbott continues to slump in the polls. This, despite his attempts to talk up the “successes” of scrapping the carbon tax and “stopping the boats” (though a parliamentary enquiry this week found the government was responsible for Reza Barati’s death and in reality the boats have just been turned back.) After the $7 GP co-payment died slowly in parliament, Tone instead cutting $5 from the doctor’s Medicare rebate for patients over 16 and without a concession card, in what he described as an “optional co-payment,” something Senator David Leyonhjelm described as a “cunning stunt.” I’m sure GP’s forced to decide whether to pass on the cost and the many patients inevitably forced to cover it will be switching the first letter of one of the words and the first two letters of the other in that description and applying it to Mr Abbott. Tone went on to defend the move asking, “Why should people like Bill Shorten and myself expect to go to the doctor and not pay a cent?” This would be all well and good if, firstly, the move was only directed  at politicians and secondly, if the tax payer wasn’t footing their bill either way. As a report by Climate Action Network Europe found Australia to be the worst performing industrial country on climate change and Julie Bishop attended the Lima conference this week, the government backtracked on their refusal to contribute to the UN Green Climate fund (which the PM previously painted as sinister socialism) through a $200m commitment pulled from the foreign aid budget (a commitment which still fell short of the $350m suggested contribution). “We’ve seen things develop over the last few months,” Tone explained to justify the change of heart. Some may suggest the things he speaks of developing over the last few months have been growing public dissatisfaction with the government’s stance. But if the PM put his hands up and admitted his mistakes, there is a chance the Australian public may give him some leeway. He just seems keen to keep digging; maybe he’s looking for more coal?

Young people, or “Gen Y,” as folks that wish to group millions into one easy-to-sell-to-group call us, are constantly being told how lazy and entitled we are. Mooching off the hard work of previous  generations as we listen to dubstep and smoke ice out of our smart phone attachments. A characterisation seemingly destroyed, by the Grattan Institute report, The Wealth of Generations. The report suggests Gen Y will be less wealthy than the generation before them, with older people “capturing a growing share of Australia’s wealth, while the wealth of younger Australians has stagnated.” For all the talk of young people being disengaged, is it any wonder? We are expected to bear the costs of an ageing population in the future while baby boomers stockpile personal wealth now, and we are the ones that get called “leaners.” Gen Y is told not to be stupid and to exercise our democratic rights but when we protest we get called thugs or ferals, and if we vote for third parties we are told we’re wasting our votes. If Gen Y are disengaged, maybe it’s because we feel disempowered and put upon?

Independent Senator Nick Xenophon is looking to revive faith in the political system by starting his own party, the “Nick Xenophon Team,” or “NXT” as he is labelling it, in an attempt to appeal to those kooky Gen Y kids and their love of acronyms. Xenophon correctly identified, “More and more Australians are incredibly disillusioned,” which does at least display more awareness than Tone or Short William. Now I don’t claim to speak for the people (I’ll leave that lie for the politicians), but I’d suggest starting a new political party named after yourself isn’t going to help much when people are sick of petty party politics and tend to think of politicians as arrogant and self interested. Just a thought, Nick.

This week as Georgey “The Brain” Brandis talked of IS turning young Australians into “cannon fodder, bombers and propaganda tools” (which sounds a lot like what happens in the ADF), two reports overseas drew Brandis’ giant metadata bookcase and the government’s other “anti-terror” legislation into stark focus. Firstly a report by EU Human Rights Commissioner Nils Muižnieks found the mass surveillance uncovered by Edward Snowden (who Brandis labelled a “traitor”) was not “justified by the fight against terrorism.” Muižnieks went on to say, “Suspicionless mass retention of communications data is fundamentally contrary to the rule of law” and “ineffective.” If a direct repudiation of mandatory data retention wasn’t enough, a damning US senate report into the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation techniques” (known as torture in the common parlance) provided another chilling insight into what can happen when too much power is placed in the hands of intelligence agencies. The report found the CIA not only lied about the nature of the brutal techniques they employed, but also about their effectiveness in collecting information. I guess Nils Muižnieks and the members of that US Senate Committee are traitors too though, George? If the accusations levelled by ex-Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks are to be believed, Brandis and other members of the then government turned a blind eye while he was tortured by that CIA program. If anything, that seems traitorous to me…


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