Thursday, June 5, 2014

Part 2: Discussion of the 2014 Coalition budget. A Christian perspective.

This is a continuation of my discussion of the article by Dr Brett Parris which appeared in Ethos.

Dr Parris discusses five factors which make the budget a low point in Australia’s modern history and which he believes should “continue to spur Christian leaders into outspoken and courageous resistance.”

Discussion of factors 1- 3 here.
Factor 1: Lies
Factor 2: The failure of neoliberal economics
Factor 3: Seeking a return to surplus on the backs of the poor, the sick and the marginalised
  
The fourth factor:
’… the abolition of the mining tax and particularly the price on carbon pollution is a triumph of ideology and climate change denial over both economics and science. For a government that would rather cut benefits to the poor than to raise revenue from mining companies, and with no science minister, these moves were not a surprise – indeed they were election promises.
I’ve commented before that I doubt many people who voted for the Coalition fully understood the implications of the manipulative, finely crafted 3 word slogan: AXE THE TAX. We’re now experiencing the logical, expected outcome.

When ‘reporters’, who we naively expect to do a bit of rudimentary research and actual reporting, encourage us to accept anorexic sound bites, instead of explaining what happens if mining companies are protected from taking responsibility for their emissions, this is the outcome. We pay. 

The governments ineffective and discredited direct action plan "will cost tax-payers $2.55 billion to pay big polluters to reduce their emissions if they want to" (my emphasis) 

At no point in Coalition policy is the social cost of carbon addressed. In my analogy of the golden goose, it’s the equivalent of the goose flapping grubbily around the neighbourhood entering your home uninvited, and pooping everywhere - but not laying any golden eggs. You come home every evening and have to clean up after the messy goose, disinfect your home and go to the doctor to be treated for avian flu virus – all at your own expense. The lazy owner of the golden goose, who has allowed his dirty goose to wander at will, simply shrugs his shoulders, shakes his head and says “tough luck, not my problem”.
“our current coal exports are causing between A$12 billion and A$110 billion of damage globally each year (in 2014 dollars). None of which is included in the coal export price.”
We, the Australian taxpayer are consistently and expensively paying for the costs of cleaning up the carbon from hugely profitable, multi-national companies. How does that make sound economic sense?

Factor five:
Lastly, making higher education far less affordable by deregulating student fees is a catastrophically stupid policy. It will increase poverty levels for students, increase class-based social stratification, decrease overall skill levels in the workforce, and make public debates of complex policy issues even more difficult over time as fewer people can afford a broad education that is not narrowly tailored to a particular job. Graduates will emerge with large debts which will harm their well-being and pressure them to seek high paying jobs at the expense of more community-minded jobs such as teaching, nursing, child care, social work and public service 
As for the persistent, and in my opinion scandalous treatment of reputable scientists, and science in general by the Coalition ministers, we’re seeing the shameful outcome of their dark ages attitude. Australia has enjoyed world acclaim for the inventions of our outstanding scientists, engineers and researchers. We have had good cause to be proud of some incredible inventions

We enjoy the benefits of science every day, yet this government chooses to cut funding, dismantle whole departments and trample on the hopes and dreams of children, teenagers and university students with their persistent attacks on science and allied fields.
The inevitable outcome [of funding cuts] is big reductions in the CSIRO’s research output. ... Research fields slated to go include neuroscience, colorectal research, urban water research and marine biodiversity. Research will be scaled back in radio astronomy, astrophysics, renewable energy, metallurgy, Nano science, and social and economic sciences. Labs and facilities that will close include the Mopra telescope, the Aspendale laboratories, the Highett laboratory, the Ardig field station and the Griffith laboratory in the Riverina.

People will be lost to science. Australia loses. Young people who have dreamed of work in a wide variety of scientific and allied areas will have to rethink their options. Those in the middle of, or who have recently completed challenging degrees, have had the rug pulled out from under them and are being callously told "earn or learn" when they've already accumulated many thousands of dollars of debt and now have little chance of getting relevant employment in Australia. 

We will all suffer in some way as a direct result of this frightened, frightening attitude that science is something to be scared of so it's being stamped out.  Scientific research and the positive outcomes we have come to appreciate from our extended world class scientific community take a bit longer to come to fruition than the proverbial golden egg. The long term implications are all negative.

Labor’s Kim Carr told Guardian Australia that "this is a government that has no science minister, no science policy, no technology policy, and no jobs policy.” There's a sustained attack on the environment, renewable energy and research. No matter how much they bleat otherwise, we see valuable jobs in a wide variety of areas being lost. We can see their anti science agenda. We see a marked lack of job creation schemes.

Kim Carr noted that the government is "not interested in developing our capacity to attract new investment, so it's not just the thousand scientists that will lose their jobs, it is the knock-­on effects that taking out that type of capacity has on the broad economy and particularly industry”. ( here ) In the topsy-turvy world of the Coalition, this is being presented as positive. 

Back to Dr Parris:
some of the most strongly ‘Christian’ electorates voted for these cruel and regressive policies. ... This surely points to a colossal failure of leadership among the Christian churches over many years. ... If one good can come of our current malaise, perhaps it will be the re-ignition of a Christian sacred activism grounded in Jesus’ teachings, fuelled by deep prayer and with the courage to speak truth to power no matter what the cost. (my bold)
Challenging closing words indeed.

I hope other religious people not only from the Christian tradition, but from the many other faiths represented in multicultural Australia, find the strength and courage to speak out where they see injustice and oppression and join Dr Parris to make a stand and speak confidently and openly about the damage the Coalition, as well as the vested interests directing policy (not just the figurehead, Tony Abbott), are doing to Australia.

I don't know the source of this poster
but will happily credit it. 


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Part 1. Discussion of the 2014 Coalition budget - a Christian perspective.

I've just read an outstanding article; it's long and well worth reading in its entirety. It appeared in Ethos and was written by an intelligent, articulate, well educated Christian man, Dr Brett Parris, who is concerned by the 2014 federal Coalition budget. He discusses a number of significant factors in detail.

Unfortunately mainstream public perception of Christian groups is deeply tarnished, and this hasn’t been helped by the government requiring schools to employ Christian chaplains in order to receive a particular funding package. In my opinion, Mr Pyne has also aggravated the situation with his comments to Christian School Leaders that "the Abbott government had a 'particular responsibility' to private education, that they 'don't have for state schooling'. This sets up an unpleasant 'if you're with us you'll get funding, if not you won't'.

For non-Christians the original article provides positive insight we rarely hear about in the main stream media, where if it isn’t a catchy slogan, a smirking comment about a Christian acting foolishly, or a priest behaving badly, it isn’t reported. And that’s a real shame because this article is worth reporting and discussing.

Dr Parris discusses five factors which make the budget a low point in Australia’s modern history and which he believes should “continue to spur Christian leaders into outspoken and courageous resistance.” 

The first factor  is the one many people including me have commented on - lying. “Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s and Treasurer Joe Hockey’s wholesale trashing of so many pre-election promises is breathtakingly cynical, surprising even a jaded electorate” 

When public trust in our elected representatives is eroded so badly and people feel betrayed, shocked at the blatant disregard for common courtesy and decency, and feel that they’re being treated with contempt, it’s going to be very hard to have an informed discussion about anything. Trust lost is hard to regain, although, sadly, having a trusting, well informed electorate doesn’t appear to be either valued, or high on the agenda of the Coalition.

The second factor is related to neoliberal economics. Dr Parris describes neoliberalism clearly and without fuss. Do you remember the story of the goose that laid golden eggs? Neoliberalism is to do with the fantasy that trickle down economics will provide golden eggs for everyone - it's a win/win situation!!! …but really, money only flows to the owner of the goose who doesn't want anyone else to benefit from his wealth.
"Neoliberalism is obsessed with small government as a matter of principle without understanding the important role that public investment and good governance plays in sustainable prosperity." My italics
He then reminds us that a healthy, well functioning society is supported by a variety of public investments. The myth of the self made man conveniently ignores the important underlying role which public infrastructure plays. He couldn't have "made it" without access to the infrastructure which government borrowing and our collective taxes paid for. 

In my goose analogy, the golden goose is tended by a variety of skilled workers including vets, researchers into diseases such as bird flu and the people who designed and built its pond. The incubators for the golden eggs are heated by energy from a grid built by public utilities, and the eggs are nurtured in other ways, for instance by people using our public transport infrastructure to get to work at the golden goose egg farm. In other words, the golden goose owner relies on public investments even though they aren’t acknowledged or directly paid for by him.

This unacknowledged infrastructure is called INVESTment for a reason – they’re positive for the whole country, this is where governments borrow in a very different way to families. These are long term investments from which we all benefit, not just the privileged and powerful.

In addition he writes, “Australia has one of the lowest levels of public debt of any country in the OECD." That’s impressive! It’s also a bit of a furphy to also say that Australians are highly taxed, we aren’t.

The third factor where Dr Parris is quite scathing is “seeking a return to surplus on the backs of the poor, the sick and the marginalised.” Basically, "people cost too much" More here.

He discusses the massive cuts to foreign aid, our local social safety net being eroded, seesawing income support the unemployed under 30s, and cutting benefits for poor families which is surely a recipe for increased depression and other mental health problems, family violence, alcohol abuse, suicide and crime”.

Allied health workers are expressing concern that they’re already seeing an increase in depression and anxiety. They expect this to only get worse as the hidden costs of the budget are implemented, and the flow-on from state and local government takes effect.

It’s also important to note here that the vilification of groups by the use of divisive or derogatory words isn’t going to make jobs magically appear. Imagine being a rural job seeker on unemployment benefits or a uni graduate with a strong work/study history, continually hearing yourself referred to as a dole-bludger who isn't trying to get work.

After tailoring your resume to specific jobs, attending interviews and not being employed through no fault of your own, you’re trying to remain positive in the face of derogatory, uninformed, cruel comments that don’t acknowledge or reflect the reality that there simply aren't enough jobs for the number of people actively job hunting.

According to the ABS March data there were

These figures don't account for the many thousands of under-employed well qualified people, or those who have become so disillusioned, beaten and demoralised that they've given up hope. The hidden unemployed. 

How do we want our youth (and other job seekers) to see themselves BEFORE they attend stressful interviews? As failures? bludgers? As the guilty party who have somehow manipulated the country so there aren't enough jobs to go around? Do we want our graduates to see themselves as not worthy of a career after a long, challenging and expensive education? How do we want employers to view candidates who may have been unemployed for some time? As losers and bludgers? This kind of vilification is hardly a recipe for success. 

We know the negative, undermining effect of name calling, and how it erodes confidence and self esteem, yet not only the media, but government ministers are encouraging this sadistic, divisive pastime. In addition the government is doing nothing to address the complex underlying causes of unemployment, (here) and are persistently negative about supporting jobs growth in areas such as renewable energy.

It’s lazy to vilify people and call them names. It takes maturity to openly discuss and address the complex local, national and international causes of un and under-employment. It's shameful that with this Coalition government we see the former, complete with unfair blame, not the latter.

4: The abolition of the mining tax
5. Higher education will be less affordable
Continued here ...

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Monday, June 2, 2014

Ocker Aussies respond to the 2014 LNP budget, in pictures and words.

If you’re confused about what's happening in Australian politics look no further, here's the Strine lowdown which was shared with me by my true blue, dinky-di, Aussie mates, Shazza, Daz and Bruce. 

Underneath their coarse exteriors and everyday Ocker language, (don't mistake this for a lack of intelligence by the way!) lurk hearts of gold and an ability to see through bullshit. They're seriously pissed about the budget, and it was a bit of a spray at first, but I asked them to tone down the colourful, some might say "ripe" language, to make it more or less decent for anyone to read, though some of the terminology might still be a bit of a head-scratcher. 

In their own words:
That'd be emu poo.
Bruce: A lot of Aussies are pretty narky cos the pm and his pollie mates have been telling porkies. They promised everything would be grouse with them in power, now they're jabbering about the country being knackered and saying we're all going to buggery. The LNP are looking after their Bondi mates but everyone else is on their Pat Malone. They're acting like a pack of drongoes. 
Grouse resource: http://www.nma.gov.au/play_aussie_english/guide/ebook.html.
Pie floater
All the poor buggers are expected to do the hard yakka. The mums, dads and kiddies are doing it tough, and all the pollies are saying is, Bully for you, I'm all right Jack. Things'll be so tight, the ankle biters won't even be able to buy a sanga or pie at the tuck shop any more, and they can forget the snag and dead horse at Bunnings on a Saturday arvo before they go to the footy. Strike me dead, life's hard enough without more taxes and having so many school and health supports axed. No wonder people are snarky.

You'd reckon they'd want to look after the cow cockies but noooo they're cactus too. Mining's the be all and end all in Straya and they get packets of handouts, but the farmers are expected to lay low while toffs and foreigners fossick for minerals and generally buggerup the land. The age of entitlement's not over for the multinationals! What sort of moron would think that idea's hunky-dory - lookin after those rich bastards instead of us lot?
Normal, everyday people protesting.
Daz: Old geezers are gonna have to work till they’ve got one foot in the grave - no pension for them. Been doing heavy lifting all their lives, but that's not enough for this shonky mob. This mob, this mob sponge off all the blokes and sheilas – it’s a bloody disgrace, we’re the ones really doing the “heavy lifting”, those bludgers in Canberra wouldn’t know a hard day’s work if they fell over it! They’re too busy fleecing the real workers. Who's behind it all that's what I wanna know. I thought IPA was a kind of beer, not a bunch of mongrels trying to shaft the lot of us.
Old farts being asked to do the "heavy lifting"

Shazza: And students, what about the bloody students. We slag off at them, but really, we’re proud. 

Smart people Aussies. Smart students end up working at smart places like siro (CSIRO). Good stuff that. Well they did until the budget cuts and the pollies giving our scientists the flick(Shazza rolls her eyes and twirls her pointer finger around her right temple) We've got lots of beaut inventions: the Hills Hoist, widgets for all sorts of smarty-pants things, motor mowers, vaccines, wifi, the frig, bionic ear, and the goon box! Bloody rippers! None of them were designed by a bloody no hoper politician. 
Bushfire aftermath.

And don't get me started on climate change. Mortein and flies - that's how fast science jobs have carked it there. You'd think the galahs'd want to be prepared and support the fireys n all. Y'know the people who actually do the heavy lifting. I was gobsmacked when the twits said they'd rather listen to a bunch of (censored) rather than the dinky-di deal. Educating people to learn how to cope n prepare for climate change? Nah not this mob. Stone the flamin crows! Talk about cockeyed. Me bogan mate from Dannenong, Blind Freddie can see what's happening clearer'n these yobbos.
Peeved, everyday Aussies, protesting.
No wuckinfurries they said. Promised jobs, n now they're firin people left right and centre an then blaming 'em for bein unemployed. Makes ya wanna take em outside n show em your knuckles. Lying mongrels. Bent as. If I'd of lied like that, me mum'd've had me guts for garters. True dinks. If they reckon Seppoland is so bloody great don't bloody import it, go live there n stop stuffin up Straya. Bloody hell. The Yanks'v stuffed up their own country and now they want to get a gurnsey in here! K'noath.

Whether you're ropeable or spewin, doesn't matter. We're stuffed. Not sure if rabbott's the full quid though, lotsa people're saying he’s a few tinnies short of a six pack. Whadaya reckon was going on when smokinJoe was burbling on, presenting the budget? Mozart n List? Bloody budget. It’s really on the nose. More spin n less substance than a midnight drag race in Doveton.
Who's smoking what?

Daz: Strike a light, you’d have to be a real wacko to think the punters’d take that codswallop lying down! Lotsa blokes and sheilas are mad as a blue arsed fly.  Shazza reckons she’s going to chuck a wobbly then get shitfaced, she’ll barely be able to afford a goonbag of red while they’re off guzzling Frog champers like it’s going out of style. No dodgy plonk for them. Mongrels.
Ambos protesting

N in Victoria the bookies'll soon be taking odds on how long it'll be till protesters get nicked by the rozzers. Bad form to protest! Hah! Good on em I say. 




Shazza: Yeah, n so much for the 8 hour day. Strewth! Straya led the world for a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. Ya reckon that happens now? Pull the other one, it's got bells on. Working conditions are going backwards faster than a pollie's putrid promise. 


Sharing the load?! Pigs arse.
These mongrels’ve got their heads so far up their arses they can't breathe. They reckon they’ve got everyone by the short and curlies - just between younme they’ve got tickets on themselves. Bloody Pitt Street pirates. Bunch of wackers the lot of them. The budget’s smellier than a dead dingoes donger or a pigs putrid arse. Fair? Give me a break! Get a load of that bull. 
What a load of cobblers. Lots of people thought they were taking a lend with the leaks n all, but fair dinkum, they’re a bunch of pricks. Gobsmacked! We’ve been had. It’s bonzer for them and their mates, all la de da, swanking around in their Armani this and Gucci that and their snazzy beemers. Not even decent bloody Aussie clobber. We get left the dregs and havta make do with a clapped out ute.

Bruce: Some of Dazza's relos want rabbott to rack off back to where he came from cos we really got served the raw prawn with this bunch of galahs. They've got a cockeyed view of the world and a lot of people are feeling pretty crook with the load of old crock the morons are dishing up. It's cruddy. These blokes are cunning as a shit-house rat, they've got themselves into a nice possie and everyone else is mad as the proverbial cut snake. 
No snakes were cut for this post.
Ya really need a strong cuppa after listening to their pork pies. Or maybe get pissed as a parrot. Hockey's been giving us an earbashing about "sharing the heavy lifting", but fair crack of the whip, he can't be fair dinkum! They look like they're fart arsing around, not knowing what they're on about - they're full of it and smell worse than a fart in an elevator. If you think they all need to get checked out by the shrinks at the funny farm you're not on your lonesome. 

N if you've got a soft spot for the reefnstuff yez might wanna get on the blower or email, n give em a bit of a serve. What's going on there is a real bummer.
They're gutting our country.
Daz: So if any of your cobbers are planning to scarper over the ditch to hang out with the kiwis, n get away from all the crapola remind them to get out there and protest first. 

If your mates n you are feeling a bit hot under the collar, turn off the idiot box and stop reading what the dimwit journos are prattling on about; they're just trying to lead you up the garden path. Talk about getting the info arse-about. Even that Greens sheila and her lot r makin more sense than them. There mightn't be any flies on 'em, but you can see where they've been, lazy bunch of (censored) - looks like they're a bit light on in the brain box department and forgot to connect the wetware. N they're meant to be educated! Faaaar out.

Put your money (what’s left of it) where your mouth is and let the mongrels know what you think of them. Don't worry about those grammar snobs, we're as good as them any day! Give em a bit of a spray, but keep it clean. Tart it up a bit and let them know you're a true blue Aussie who believes in a fair go for everyone.

Shazza: And while you’re at it, remember - whenever you hear someone telling a porkie remind them that you won't have a bar of it. Tell 'em to lift their game and remind 'em they’re doing a nabbott and you can see though the sham.
Are you looking after me or is my home going to be another coal mine?

More information:

Who is the IPA and what do they have to do with Australian politics anyway:
http://www.glennmurray.com.au/whos-really-running-australia/

Abbott's broken promises: One of many posts.
http://www.themonthly.com.au/blog/russell-marks/2014/05/27/1401138538/tony-abbott-said


Budget Reply Speeches:
Clive Palmer's Budget Reply Speech - (PUP)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fbpWrAwtvQ
This is Clive Palmer like you've probably never seen before. It's well worth watching for a clear overview of the budget and the manufactured emergency.

Christine Milne's budget reply speech. (Greens)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rs7UFMJB9Ks (embed)
Another good speech. Clear, well structured, informative. 

Bill Shorten's budget reply speech (Labour)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrxAlX6aOy8

An analysis of the budget by a linguist: 
http://theconversation.com/in-government-a-mantra-is-not-enough-to-control-the-narrative-26827

What is our vision for Australia?
http://www.theage.com.au/comment/budget-2014-is-this-the-australia-we-really-want-to-be-20140516-zrevn.html

People cost too much: http://theaimn.com/2014/05/24/people-cost-too-much-the-abbot-government-and-neoliberalism/

How the poor will be hit harder than the rich: