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Issue #1642      June 11, 2014

Culture & Life

Government spin

Intriguing contrast: outside, the rain is falling steadily; inside, extracts from Handel (Water Music, Messiah, etc) are playing on a CD in the lounge-room; and before me is a glossy piece of pure spin from our local Liberal Party MP, Karen McNamara. Headed “Australia’s ECONOMIC ACTION STRATEGY”, this document is an unashamed hard-sell for the government’s 2014 budget. Yeah, I know – not an easy task, which is what makes the document such a grisly read.

Hockey and Abbott – blatantly pro-corporate, pro-rich.

The front page headline for the lead article is “Real Action for a Stronger Australia”. I didn’t know we were under threat of attack, did you? Clearly the Abbott government thinks we are. Or perhaps they’re just aware that their policy of slavishly following US imperialism’s efforts to isolate and surround China will inevitably lead to war with Asia’s powerhouse? After all, the Talisman Sabre joint Australian/US military exercises have been rehearsing an amphibious invasion of China’s coastline for some years now.

Whatever the thinking, the Abbott government’s main claim on the front of Ms McNamara’s propaganda sheet is “We’ve secured Australia’s borders”. But our borders were never in dispute. Nor were they in any danger of being overrun by unauthorised migrants from neighbouring countries. All those boats that upset Tony Abbott so much were always picked up by the RAN. There were never any reports of significant numbers of boats landing clandestinely on the Australian coast, to disgorge numbers of swarthy foreigners to run loose in the outback, terrorising emus and kangaroos alike.

The boats that Abbott and Co point to with horror under previous governments were all spotted well before they arrived in any Australian port. They were escorted into harbour and their occupants dealt with in accordance with international law and our treaty obligations, in a relatively civilised manner. For the sake of having something about which he could play the demagogue, Tony Abbott has encouraged paranoia and an unfounded fear of foreigners in a most shameful way. Like so many right-wing Christians, who like to clutch their Bible to their hearts at any opportunity, Abbott has no time for Jesus’ compassion and humanity. Love they neighbour? Not if it gets in the way of winning votes!

The second claim in the brochure is “We’re fixing Labor’s debt and deficit mess”. This supposed “mess” is a beat-up; it is entirely a figment of Abbott’s (and Treasurer Hockey’s) imagination. As Anna Pha has pointed out in previous issues of The Guardian, Australia’s level of national debt is well within OECD parameters, is not unduly high and is in fact relatively low compared to most developed economies. It’s an imaginary, bogus crisis, invented to scare voters.

The last of the three claims takes the cake, however: “We’re laying down a strong foundation to grow the economy and create more jobs”. Sure, they are. What they are actually doing is overseeing the departure of industry from our shores. Abbott says he’s relying on small business to “create” jobs, apparently stimulated in some way by the abolition of the carbon tax. He justifies this assertion by observing that small business is “our biggest employer”. But that is because the big employers, the businesses that had mass employees, have shut up shop and gone elsewhere.

Ideologically opposed to publicly-owned (government) enterprises, Abbott has no answer to the flight of capital and industry other than to cut corporate tax in a so-far futile attempt to induce foreign capitalists to invest here. Cutting company tax means less government income, hence less funds for government programs, hence a lower standard of living for the Australian people.

Far from growing the economy, under Abbott and Hockey the Australian economy is becoming reliant on fewer and fewer sources of income. A hiccup in any one of them now has dire consequences for the country. That is anything but healthy.

According to Ms McNamara’s laughable leaflet, the Abbott government is bringing us “sustainable world-class health care” – by charging us $7 to visit the doctor. Abandoning Medicare is bringing us “world class health care”? Compared to where? Canada, Britain, France? No, the USA – the one country in the developed world with unquestionably the worst health care system.

So blatant is the pro-corporate, pro-rich bias in the Abbott/Hockey budget that they have had to introduce a token tax on the rich, a “temporary budget repair levy of 2 percent on incomes over $180 thousand”. Supposedly for three years, what’s the betting they find they can dispense with that levy “sooner than anticipated”, a feat they will no doubt trumpet as a tribute to their economic management prowess?

In the meantime, they are plugging the line that “to fix Labor’s debt and deficit mess [there’s that fictitious mess again] all Australians are sharing the burden”. As though the wholesale cutting back of government services is something we are all voluntarily agreeing to as our contribution to solving the Abbott government’s non-existent crisis. Instead of a program of creating jobs through widespread public works, Abbott and Co are going to force unemployed youth onto the discredited and soul-destroying “work for the dole” scheme, which allows the government to juggle the unemployment figures but does nothing to reduce actual unemployment.

There is much made in the brochure of the Abbott government’s “commitment” to roads, but no mention of public transport at all. The coal industry uses the railways to move its product from mine to coal-loader, otherwise railways would probably have not even got a mention in the brochure. They would have been ignored, as renewable industries have been ignored in the brochure. If Abbott were genuine about creating jobs, he’d be seriously promoting green industries and renewables, for that’s where the new jobs are to be found.

But Abbott and Hockey are ideologically opposed to green jobs and renewable energy, for they are committed to an idiotic and unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels in the face of scientific evidence and even common sense.

God help us all.

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