Australia is finally in a real crisis. It’s not hyped. It’s not beaten-up by the media. It’s real. You can feel it. And it is man-made.
Consumer and business confidence are evaporating. Unemployment is rising. Manufacturing is seriously, perhaps terminally ill. Industries have been closed down after either being taunted to do so, or deliberately, even in the case of growth industries, as a result of ideology.
Parliament is frozen in a state of indecision, with members and Senators still squabbling and bitching as if at the start of a political season, rather than 10 days from its end.
The media is either out of control, in a Cloud-Cuckoo Land of their own, or obsessed with nit-picking and political minutiae, wedges, gaffes and in-jokes. It is locked into a horse race fixation, unable to commentate on public affairs and unconcerned that it cannot.
The problems now are real and serious, not concocted as they were under Labor. The promised automatic resurgence, simply because of the election of the Abbott government, has fizzled out after a false dawn at the end of last year.
In response to its inability to face reality, the Abbott government – 15 months down the track – is still blaming its predecessors, seemingly unable to accept that the Coalition was elected to govern, not to make excuses and not to surprise with either broken promises or secret promises it was too gutless to make.
The country’s most important Minister, Treasurer Joe Hockey, is in hiding, sulking from the effects of being yet again sucker-punched by his childhood nemesis, Tony Abbott, and a bewilderingly rapid decline in public estimation and confidence in both himself and his Budget. It is perhaps a sign of Hockey’s fall from grace that Matthias Cormann is being touted as the in-form Economic minister.
The nation is in a state of impending paralysis. Attempts to revive the government’s fortunes with an increasingly bizarre and desperate bevy of foreign adventures – from the false hopes of MH-370, to confrontations with Indonesia, to the shameless beat-up of a few teenage crazies as an “apocalyptic millennial death cult”, to the stupid and counterproductive shirtfronting incident over MH-17, to the cringeworthy address by Abbott at the G20, to the pitiful attempt to vilify the American President for daring to speak of Global Warming in contradiction to official Australian denialism – have failed. If anything they have worsened the government’s political position.
Even if they had been the masterstrokes of statesmanship that the foot-rubbers of the Murdoch, Fairfax and ABC media have tried to sell to the public, these foreign follies would not have put one meal on one table of one unemployed family. They would not have created one job that has been lost through lazy ideological indifference to the industries that have shed them. They would not have created prosperity or alleviated poverty, or aided any embattled economic sector. They would not have increased the price of iron ore, or revived coal exports to China, because China wants less of both.
The much-trumpeted Free Trade deal with China has not been signed. The document was a mere memorandum of understanding. Oh, but if the deal comes off, I hear the spruikers say… the dairy industry will prosper! Whacko-the-diddlyo! A dairy-led recovery! Just what we wanted: an Australia still relying on its primary production, whether it be mining or farming-based. Problem solved!
The visionary Labor NBN – fibre to over 90% of residences in the country, making every home, suburb and country town a potential hub of communication in ways we cannot yet imagine – has been shut down, and in its place we have a shambles of conflicting media and technical standards. Touted for completion in 2016, the Coalition’s “NBN” does not look like being meaningfully even started for years after that.
Christmas is coming and the Budget is not passed, or even looking like being passed. Abbott has played every trump card, from blame, braggadocio and bluster to terrorists and troops, and none of them have worked. Time, precious and unrecoverable, has been wasted, while this farce of spin over substance has played out between friendly journalists pitching fantasy over fact and touting for favours from an already crippled government… which they helped to cripple through their inability to see that their Emperor was already buck naked.
Under Rudd and Gillard the opening problem was real, and it was faced, squarely: the GFC. When that was, if not beaten, then at least fought off to allow Australia to regroup, both Labor governments turned to the more pressing issues of the day: Climate Change, reform of financial laws, education funding, national disability reform. All of these were monstered by the then Opposition under Abbott and his pals in the media right across the board.
Rudd mangled his legacy by refusing to accept that he lost a party room ballot – three in fact – and in an act of unparalleled, lunatic bastardry set out to wreck Gillard’s government. The aim was a magnificent return of the Absent King, Rudd himself. Instead of this pipe dream we got Abbott, who cruised into power with the easiest of rides, unencumbered by policy, possessing no ideas and demonstrating no talent, except for destruction and negativity.
Abbott was able to get where he got because the nation was essentially well governed under Labor, at least in a technical sense. Politically it became a disaster, true, and it could have been avoided. That has to be admitted, and never repeated. But the underlying prosperity was there, as was the confidence, now all gone. The nation could afford to party and indulge itself in personality politics and Reality TV-like trivia, because things were going so relatively well here, especially when compared to the rest of the world. Labor, in effect, became a victim of its own success.
But not content to merely criticise the Labor government, Abbott and his media mates trashed the country: its economy, its governance and its traditions. In a sense they made their beds, and they should be made to lie in them, as they will. But, tragically, they made our beds too. In their zeal to destroy Labor, they wrecked a nation by tricking it into believing that gossip, heckling and spin were more important than Reality. Stunts overrode substance. Gaffes were more telling than governance. Shoe malfunctions became as important to the national discourse as the meetings of nations and the welfare of citizens.
They will surely all get their come-uppance. Traditional media is rapidly going broke. There is an air of guzzling champagne on the Titanic, but nothing of serious journalism and analysis. It’s too late for the few remaining survivors to alter the Fourth Estate’s course.
Abbott, it seems, has terminally tanked in the polls and will almost certainly be a oncer (if his own party doesn’t get rid of him first). He’s played all his cards and there are none up his sleeve, except perhaps some dubious findings from an increasingly discredited Royal Commission into Trades Unions, and the odd potential sex scandal or ICAC finding. They’re not enough: not enough to rescue to Coalition and, far more vitally, not enough to rescue the nation.
If we weren’t a laughing stock before the G20, we certainly are after it. Tax receipts are way down. The legislature is in a limbo of despair. Industry is drying up. Unemployment is at crisis levels, and there is no end in sight to the government’s ideological stubbornness. Meanwhile, drought borne of El Nino is on the way, while our government agrees (at least for today) the Climate Change is a serious, terrible thing, but that it has no weather consequences worthy of remedial action.
The Australian’s editorial the other day suggested a media “reboot”. This is amusing, coming from the very designers and purveyors of Abbott’s media strategy. Suddenly it’s a case of “What you mean ‘We’, Paleface,” where , playing “tonto” to Abbott’s “Lone Ranger”, the Murdoch media realizes that being a redskin has its advantages after all… when you’re surrounded by redskins. The Australian’s editorial virtually sacked Peta Credlin and Joe Hockey, being careful not to ascribe blame to Abbott himself. But they needn’t have bothered, because Abbott is gone too. He has to be, or there’s no hope at all. And hope is what keeps a country going in adversity, not slick bullshit and not screaming headlines.
That was then. This is now.
Labor was in power, and made mistakes, but primarily mistakes that erred in favour of saving then nation, not wrecking it, not destroying faith in it and its governance, not stagnating it in Tea Party quicksand, standing by while it drowned. That was then.
The Coalition is in power now, and they’re not doing anything with it. Nothing’s happening, besides excuse-making and blame-shifting. It’s not Sydney Uni SRC anymore where punching a hole in a wall solves all problems. They have a country to run… and they’re not running it. They’re not even trying, preferring cheap kudos from overseas follies whose poll bounce potential has worn off by now, in any case. This is the “Now” of the Coalition, and it’s a living hell.
Leadershit is back in vogue. Media chatter is as inane and frivolous as it ever was. Issues are not being addressed, or even acknowledged. Governance has gotten down to back room deals with crazies who hide out in Tasmanian log cabins, musing about big cocks and changing hairdos as a solution to the nation’s woes. We simply cannot afford this obsession with triviality any longer.
Pretty soon it will be MYEFO time, then Christmas, then the pre-Budget sittings of Parliament. Then Budget 2015… Another year’s worth of time and opportunity wasted, while nothing gets done except posturing, preening and leadership positioning.
Not only does this government have no clue. It doesn’t have a clue that it has no clue. It’s not about who told lies, or who’s ready to stab who in the back. They are distractions, and perhaps symptoms of the malaise. It’s about who’s running the country, and if it’s not the government, then who is it, and why are they fucking it up so badly?
I don’t have much time for the average Australian voter. They do not take a mature approach to politics. They are too easily led astray by the antics of student politicians who have never grown up.
But for the rest of us, the ones with some sense and some modicum of judgement, I do have time. And unfortunately, even for those whose judgement I disdain, they have to do well too, or else we all go down the toilet.
This pathetic, laughable, international joke of a government needs to get out of the nation’s way, urgently. Hold a Double Dissolution if necessary, so that those who have woken up can chuck them out on their ears, as they deserve. Something. Anything. But please, just go.
Whether you do or not, the rest of us have real work to get done.
It seems the public agree. According to Galaxy, 67% of voters want a snap election to sort out the Senate. According to the Daily Telegraph however (where the Galaxy poll is reported) the voters want PUP out of the way so the government (i.e. the Abbott government) can just get on and govern.
VOTERS in NSW have demanded a snap federal election to end the senate soap opera and allow the government to govern.
It has taken less than six months of chaos but an overwhelming majority of voters now believe it is time to send Clive Palmer, Jacqui Lambie and their oddball independent senate colleagues packing.
“Whoa there, Silver!” said the Lone Ranger. Galaxy did not say the voters wanted the government to be able to get on and govern. They just wanted some old fashioned governance.
Even back in September , when all the Zombie Apocalypse palaver was in full swing, Galaxy still said that the voters wanted the government gone (God knows what a Galaxy poll conducted today would say, if Newspoll, Reachtel and those little trickles of warm yellow water running down the legs of Coalition MPs are anything to go by). One would assume that the two polls – one on Senate obstructionism and the other on Federal voting intentions – should be read together, not one forgotten and the other made up.
The punters don’t want the PUP frisson fixed so Abbott can get his way slashing pensions, cutting ADF pay, reinstating spivocracy to its rightful place in the Finance industry, gutting education, the ABC, the car industry, alternative energy and the English language. They want someone to do something.
If Abbott called a snap election and if such snap election booted Palmer’s mob, I doubt whether the Coalition would be the main beneficiary. Praying for an election may be a case of needing to be careful not to pray too hard. They might just get what they asked for.
Which would be fine and dandy by me.
We do not need elections. We had one. It’s time now for the lazy bastards that won it to do their job: govern. Time’s running out. There’s a nation at stake.