I am a patriot of Earth and if we ever make contact with aliens, of the Universe. So when I say that at the moment I am ashamed of Australia, don’t accuse me of being non-patriotic.
The Australian public (not me personally) just voted in an ultra-conservative government, that I will refer to as the ‘Abbott Government’ in this blog post. The Abbott Government has an uncompromising ideology almost entirely focused on the economy with little regard to people with lesser privilege and the natural environment that we rely upon to exist.
Sally McManus (Branch Secretary of the Australian Services Union, NSW & ACT) compiled a long list (including sources) of extraordinary decisions and broken promises (even for a politician) made by the Abbott Government since they have been appointed. The list, which is constantly updated, is called ‘Abbotts Wreckage’ and can be found here.
To give you a little taste of Abbotts Wreckage, here are the first 8 of 109 points (as of 24th February 2014):
No. 1 ‘Takes away pay rises from aged care workers’
No. 2 ‘Takes away pay rises for childcare workers’
No. 3 ‘Breaks his promise to spend his first week in office with an Aboriginal community’
No. 4 ‘Abolishes key ministerial positions of climate change and science’
No. 5 ‘Appoints only one woman into his cabinet and blames the women for his decision, saying he appoints “on merit”
No. 6 ‘Appoints himself Minister for Women’
No. 7 ‘Abolishes the Climate Commission’
No. 8 ‘Scraps the Social Inclusion Board, which had been established to guide policy on the reduction of poverty in Australia
Why 8 points? Because I don’t like No. 9 (Breaks his promise to “stop the boats”)
Of great concern to me is the increasing potential for Australia to become a country of the oppressor and the oppressed and it has already started with the ‘Stop-the-boats’ campaign. I feel sick and afraid for the asylum seekers that have arrived by boat (who the government wants us to call “illegals”) who are languishing in pitiful offshore detention centres in mandatory detention for months or years, being told they will never be settled in Australia, treated worse than prisoners with inadequate clothes, shelter, health care, food and even water. Pregnant women, children (some unaccompanied) and newborn babies are among those held in mandatory detention as well. It beggars belief.
How did this happen? An age-old recipe of the power-hungry instilling fear of an enemy and promising to protect us from them. Yes, the Abbott Government convinced the majority of Australians that asylum seekers (the most vulnerable people on the planet) were our enemy, that they would take our jobs, that they were a risk to our security and our way of life and even that they would cause traffic congestion. What is worse is that both the major parties shared the same tactic to gain popularity before the last election.
Refer here for the facts about asylum seekers in Australia as opposed to the government rhetoric.
Up until the last election my interest in politics has been very low. There was a time as an adult when I didn’t even know the name of our prime minister or the ruling party. I don’t notice things unless I really notice things and there has never been a more important time to really notice what the government is doing. Social media opened my eyes to what was happening here and I could no longer ignore politics because if I did I would be part of a silent majority that allowed unconscionable acts to occur by doing and saying nothing.
Recently many asylum seekers were attacked at one of the offshore processing centres and one of those asylum seekers died from his injuries. The immigration minister Chris Morrison, implored the public to wait until reviews were conducted before making judgements, all the while freely using victim-blaming terminology. Morrison stated “This is a tragedy, but this was a very dangerous situation where people decided to protest in a very violent way and to take themselves outside the centre and place themselves at great risk”. Then, after being corrected that the asylum seekers were not in fact outside the centre Morrison said “In a situation where transferees engage in riotous and aggressive behaviour within the centre, this will escalate the risk to those who engage in such behaviour”. The only people injured were asylum seekers so it does not make sense that the asylum seekers were the aggressors. At this stage, the only aggression asylum seekers have shown in detention is in self-harm, including among children, caused by depression as a result of prolonged detention.
So here I sit scrolling through social media links despairing at the latest actions and words of the Abbott Government realising that my time of blissful ignorance has passed and never again will I ignore politics because the cost of ignorance is too high. I can only hope that promoting awareness of the deplorable actions of our government and the public backlash will be enough to end this madness. March in March Australia.
Image obtained from the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Facebook page