Death by a Thousand Cuts

I would love nothing better than to have a reason to stop writing about the current government. It would mean all is well, or at least…uneventful.

But the fact is that the lies, deceits, cronyism, racism, theft and other dubious and illegal activity just keeps on keeping on; just keep on getting worse.

It is a slow death by the proverbial thousand cuts for justice, for decency, for the best of our values.

With the benefit of hindsight, you can see the incremental legislative shifts toward the tar-pit heart of darkness where democracies go to die. There has been so much in the six years in the life of this government, it is impossible to keep track of the big stuff let alone the misdemeanors. Here is just a sampling, not necessarily in chronological order:

  • False cries of a “debt crisis” as an excuse for austerity for the plebs and tax cuts for the rich.
  • a 60K one-off “Chairman’s Scholarship” from the Whitehouse College of Design for then PM Abbott’s daughter. The college chairman, Les Taylor, a long-time friend of Abbott had been a donor to the Liberal Party. The Whitehouse College of Design relies upon government accreditation. Abbott did not declare the scholarship on the Register of Interests on the technically that it was designed as a merit-based grant and not a gift. It remains though that no “Chairman’s Scholarship” had been made prior or has bee made since.
  • Paying 80 million for nonexistent water to a company with deep ties to a cabinet minister
  • Giving 400 million dollars worth of government contracts to Paladin, an unknown company with its head office being a beach shack on Kangaroo Inland. The tender process was short and limited to the one company. The government in fact had to give the company 10 million up front as it had no funds to begin the contact – providing security services in the refugee detention camp on Manus Island. It was later shown that one of the directors had a string of business failures and a trail of debt. At least two involved are former soldiers, with others tied to shady businesses in Germany and Singapore.
  • A cabinet minister who championed family values, having an affair with a staff member and leaving his wife and children and then complaining about having to keep two families on his paltry ministerial salary of nearly 300K a year plus official perks.
  • Routine misuse of travel allowances, with one member of the government using this to maintain a romantic relationship in a foreign country.
  • Raising welfare debts that the government knew were not legally recoverable debts because they were not using the legislated formula. Despite this, and despite knowing that a significant percentage were not debts at all – legally recoverable or otherwise, it pursued a course of forcing the alleged debtor to prove they did not owe anything, and meanwhile, placed “debts” not voluntarily repaid into the hands of unscrupulous debt recovery agencies, There have been a number of suicides resulting from this, with (so far) 10,000 recipients joining in a class action against the government
  • The current PM going on vacation to Hawaii while Australia burned. This was his second overseas holiday in 6 months.
  • The inaction on a viable transition away from fossil fuel.
  • The stripping of civil rights in the name of “National Security”.
  • Billions of dollars in community and sporting grants being used for pork-barreling.
  • The ongoing lie that they have delivered a budget surplus.
  • The ongoing inhumane treatment of asylum seekers.
  • The countless number of conflicts of interest
  • the funneling of government contracts to party donors in privatized industries, often with little oversight, delivering us the spectacle of finding out our poor and sometimes non-existent services have delivered among other national shames, the physical, medical and psychological abuse of the elderly.

We cannot afford to continue going as we are. What I would like to see is a media moratorium on this government We need to stop giving them a platform for their “talking points” and non-responsive answers to legitimate questions. We need civil disobedience. We need academia, teachers and doctors to speak up. We need to have all non-essential government bills blocked by the senate,

We need to pressure the government into declaring a constitutional crisis rendering it unable to roll out it’s policies, forcing it into caretaker mode while declaring a new election.

If Labor should get in, it needs to reform tender processes, grant processes, Question Time and other areas of government operations. Most of all it needs to fund an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

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