Nacht und Nebel

(Image credit: Wikipedia)

Fifty days ago, the Australian electorate blinked, and chose a Coalition government led by Mr Abbott – devout Catholic, Rhodes Scholar, Oxford Blue, sometime journalist, advisor to former LOTO Dr Hewson, exercise junkie, father of “not bad-looking daughters”, self-proclaimed political offspring of Mrs Bronwyn Bishop and Mr John Howard – a man who counts among his political and spiritual mentors B. A. Santamaria and Cardinal Pell.

The government as a whole, and Mr Abbott in particular, are deeply indebted to two powerful individuals, Mr Rupert Murdoch, and Mrs Gina Rinehart. The debt owed by the new Federal government and prime minister to Mr Murdoch in particular is extraordinary, and is most likely to be paid through the sale hand-over of the NBN and, possibly, the privatisation or abolition of the ABC. Mrs Rinehart’s rewards are the repeal of the MRRT, the “liberalisation” of 457 visas to enable the employment of ever-cheaper labour in her mines, and an open-slather approach to exploration and mining, maybe even in national parks, and to coal seam gas fracking. After all, what else is the environment for?

So, what has the new government achieved over the past 50 days?

  • Abolished the Climate Commission.
  • Sacked three departmental heads.
  • Sacked the NBN Board.
  • Announced the privatisation of Medibank Private.
  • Appointed the head of a major business union to chair the Commission of Audit which also includes (gaia help us) Ms Amanda Vanstone. Mr Tony Shepherd also chairs a company that has substantial contracts with the Commonwealth.
  • Announced a witch-hunt judicial enquiry into the Rudd Government’s home insulation scheme.
  • Cut disaster relief payments in the middle of major bushfires in New South Wales.
  • Denied any possible connexion between bushfires and climate change.
  • Released draft legislation to repeal the MRRT, which also (among other things) repeals
    1. – the schoolkids’ bonus
      – the low-income tax superannuation contribution
      – geothermal exploration provisions.

    Then, and worryingly, are

    1. The increased demonisation of asylum seekers arriving by boat by requiring the Immigration Department and detention centre staff to call them “illegal arrivals” and “detainees”,
    2. The militarisation of border protection, which is the excuse for
    3. Attempts to restrict information about the arrival of asylum seekers, and their movement to and from various places of detention.

    What we are witnessing is an attempt – by shutting down sources of information, whether they are bodies like the Climate Commission, or reports in real time of boat arrivals – to keep Australians ignorant of the real state of affairs, and ultimately and as soon as possible to silence dissent. How long will it be before there is federal legislation of the type Queensland Attorney-General, Mr Bleijie, released two weeks ago – legislation that has the potential to control what people wear, what music they listen to, maybe even what books they read and films they see? How long will it be before all Australian courts are effectively instructed to do as they are told by the government that – in Mr Newman’s words – they should come down from their ivory towers and make decisions in line with community expectations?

    Silencing dissent sounds to me very like Mussolini’s third principle of fascism:

    1.”Everything in the state”. The Government is supreme and the country is all-encompasing, and all within it must conform to the ruling body, often a dictator.
    2.”Nothing outside the state”. The country must grow and the implied goal of any fascist nation is to rule the world, and have every human submit to the government.
    3.”Nothing against the state”. Any type of questioning the government is not to be tolerated. If you do not see things our way, you are wrong. If you do not agree with the government, you cannot be allowed to live and taint the minds of the rest of the good citizens.

    Prime Minister Abbott has made it clear time and time again that he will not brook questions, he will not brook debate, he will not brook dissent. He is, as Jeff Sparrow points out, a cultural warrior par excellence. He has no compunction about establishing the slush fund, ”Australians for Honest Politics”, that resulted in the jailing of Pauline Hanson. Is it beyond the bounds of possibility that he might act in a similar way to anyone who dissents, disagrees, or differs? It may seem ridiculous in 21st century Australia even to ask such a question. However …

    … remember,

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

    Remember Argentina in 1966, Chile in 1973, Germany in 1933.

    Nacht und Nebel has happened before, and will again unless we heed Martin Niemöller’s words:

    First they came for the communists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

    Then they came for the socialists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.


    883 thoughts on “Nacht und Nebel

    1. Fiona, Joe et al

      I’ve got to take Buddy for a walk, I’ll be back soon and if you start without me I’ll catch up no worries.

    2. Leroy,
      Great reads – would you mind reposting them on the Friday thread, as I’m about to close comments here?


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