I’m gonna wait til the moment has come
I’m gonna wait til we all stop from running
I’ve spent the week alternately trying to make sense of the Australian Government’s new budget, and trying to pretend it isn’t happening.
Last year I read Jonathan Haidt’s “The Righteous Mind” in an attempt to make sense of the chasm between the right and left of politics, and it made some kind of sense to me – I was able to see morality on the right as well as on the left. But I am at a loss to find morality in this budget. It seems to be a kind of “no-one gets anything for nothing (oh, wait, except big business, politicians, and really rich people)” ethos, together with “let’s stick it to everything Labor ever did or wanted to do”.
It’s a vicious, punitive attack on the vulnerable. It guts our healthcare, education, and welfare systems, not to mention the environment, in the name of an economy that has a mythical “budget crisis” but in fact is the envy of the developed world.
We don’t want it. We don’t need it. We don’t have a budget deficit crisis. We have a health deficit crisis. An education deficit crisis. A compassion deficit crisis. We are punishing refugees for political, not humanitarian or practical reasons. We are dismantling our universal healthcare system, and trashing our education system – which was on the point of the most equitable reforms Australia has ever seen, in the form of the Gonski recommendations.
I’m gonna wait till I reach for the sky
Tin legs and tin mines, anyone’s cry
Cry in the hope that there’ll be tomorrow
Waiting around there must be a sound
Time to start thinking and working it out
Come with me now, try with me now, when I’m laughing
Who’s running the world today?
Midnight Oil, Tin Legs and Tin Mines.
And so people will march today, protesting the unfairness, the viciousness, and above all the lack of honesty in this budget. Protesting the lies. (“No cuts to… oh, just about everything that has been cut. No new taxes. No governments doing one thing before an election and another thing after. Oh. Unless, you know, we want to.”). Protesting the utter lack of compassion – “$7 is just a couple of middies of beer”. Never mind that it’s more than some families have to spend on dinner. (For an impassioned perspective on that, search for “Kaye Stirland’s open letter to Joe Hockey.” Prepare to be blown away.)
But Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey will ignore it, as they have ignored every other protest. They know they can’t be held to account for over 2 years at least. They know they have free rein to hack and slash, buy a few votes in the final budget before the next election, and then there is a good chance they will be reelected.
The press barely hold governments to account. They don’t analyze their statements to see if they are true. Those few fact checkers that are out there don’t seem to get any cut through. The quick sound bites about the alleged “budget crisis” carry the day. The truth is there are zero consequences for broken promises in this political system. (Unless you’re female, of course.)
But what if there were ?
What if a certain proportion of the population – say, 5%, as in the constitution of many incorporated associations – could stand up and say “We’re not happy with you. You’ve broken too many promises.” and force a re-election? Or simply a referendum on their performance that could result in a people’s double dissolution?
What if there were a “this government has gone too far” button?
Would you press it?