ANALYSIS: It’s coming up to almost a decade of LNP rule of Australia and what exactly is there to show for it apart from corruption and sexual abuse scandals to the next, ponders novelist and lawyer Miles Hunt.
Eight, almost nine years, it is a long time.
All the Beatles albums from Please Please Me to Abbey Road were released in less time. As were all the Harry Potter books. And there is a lot in them. One for every year of school at Hogwarts.
Not so good for our Federal Liberal / National Government. Especially when you think how much John, Paul, George and Ringo, and Harry, Hermione and Ron did in that time – one lot changed the world and one lot saved it.
The best you could say about the Libs is that they didn’t do anything – apart from preside over nearly a decade of stagnant wages, of higher debt, of falling living standards, and of rising inequality, of profit over people and wealth transfer ever upwards.
They say ‘a rising tide will lift all boats’ but what about those left on the shore? Let’s just hope they can swim.
Only a few weeks ago, on 7 September 2021, it was the ninth anniversary of when the Coalition came to power way back in 2013, before TikTok, before MAFS even graced the airwaves. Then, Tony Abbott rode (his bike in budgie-smugglers) on a wave of popularity (or should I say un-un-popularity) in defeating the re-risen phoenix, Kevin Rudd, after the self-destructive Rudd-Gillard years.
He immediately went to work destroying any of the progress made in the 6 years prior, quickly squashing the Carbon tax to save us for $100 roasts, and because he rode the anti-carbon tax agenda through the election (no one likes tax, even if it is only designed to save the Atmosphere that keeps us alive) – it got him elected but stuffed any chance of significant action on climate change.
A decade on we still don’t have a policy. Everyone in the Government seems to be hoping the whole things might just go away, like a huntsman spider on the roof. Unlikely though when we are talking about the warming of the entire planet, and the potential for the entire place to become inhabitable for humans (perhaps the dinosaurs can return).
At the same time, the dinosaurs in the liberal party also decided to get rid of the Mining Tax for good measure – not sure why they did that. The only beneficiaries to this being the giant mining companies and their billion-dollar profits, the only losers being the people of Australia. Perhaps Tony wasn’t sure if he was the Prime Minister of Australia or just the PM for BHP?
The liberal Party haven’t done much since then either, except change leaders: Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison, who’s next Dutton? Labor got smashed in the polls for changing leaders (or maybe it was punishment for daring to find a woman to lead this conservative, possibly misogynist, land), but the Coalition just keep getting elected. Maybe the trick is to find a new leader each election, so it feels like a new part – or a party renewed.
You need this when you have no policy at all – the do Nothingers, as I like to call them, or the Government of nothing, like Seinfeld without the characters or humour. Ironically Seinfeld also lasted 9 seasons… 180-odd episodes of brilliance (except maybe the Finale). Even after Larry David left, they still produced some absolute classics – ‘The Merv Griffin Show’ episode, anyone?
After Abbot was kicked out after sneakily trying to dismantle our favourite Australian institution Medicare (while they were gearing up for the ABC), Turnbull was the White Knight bought in to calm everyone down. He signed a deal with Barnaby Joyce of the Mining Party (nee Nationals) so he could achieve his Grammar School dream of becoming Prime Minister.
Barnaby made it clear that Malcolm wasn’t allowed to do anything without his approval – which was hard to come by given he was spending all his time in Canberra cheating on his old wife with his future one.
Big Mal finally got Gay Marriage through the parliament (after making every effort to avoid it) with a last ditch throw through to the people in case they sunk it. But the people got behind the change and helped the Liberals actually achieve something positive, for once. Bravo!
The Royal Commission into banking was a good idea too. Pity it was Bill Shorten’s relentless requests (was it 26 times they voted against it?). There were times in those years, it felt to me like Shorten was doing more of the governing of Australia than the actual Government – he certainly seemed the most powerful politician at the time apart from Barnaby Joyce, and Uncle Rupert of course.
All the half-decent – or, a least half-capable – ministers saw a coming calamity and exited stage left a couple years back now. Pyne and Bishop may not be my favourite people, but at least they seemed largely competent when it came to doing things like reading policy.
Then came ScoMo and the miracle of 2019 – an unexpected election victory provided no doubt by his God, Clive Palmer’s $80 million advertising blitz and a little fearmongering on the side (there were no actual policies). It actually made me think carefully about turning back my on new age spiritualism and JEDI (for the Sensis purposes) to join Hillsong.
It did seem like he had God in his corner. Or maybe Shifty Bill spooked Australia with too many progressive policies. Not to mention the fact we never forgave him for getting rid of Kevin 07 – a hero for a young socialist, like me, given he finally beat the only leader I ever really knew in John Howard (who was in for another decade of our lives).
We had Keating too for a bit but all I remember is him trampling all over Hewson’s Fightback cake – a real shame in hindsight, as his election would have save us from Johnny’s tracksuit – and his incessant bullying of Downer, which although clever did make the parliament seem a bit like the schoolyard, or an inter-state debating competition, with the cocky and street-wise Paul, from Bankstown, going after the prim and posh-voiced Alexander, from Canberra.
But let’s leave inter-state debating competitions out of this article for that is a dark path I’m not yet ready to tread. Happy to talk about rorts though, given there have been enough to write a Michael Franti song:
We have rorts for sports, and car-park rots, a rort for the reef and gas rorts too, airport land, made-up-document and legal fees, pork-barrelling and water theft.
There’s a rort for you and rort for me… hang-on there, they’re not for us, but the rich and elite.
The sad thing is that it feels like they don’t even care anymore. We are more like a 3rd world tin-pot democracy than what was Federated in 1901. It seems they have created a new way to deal with any blow back from allegations of corruption – keep promising but never delivering a Federal ICAC, and then just ignore everything, like a mother telling her kids how to deal with name calling.
Eventually even the Media will move on to the next story and the accused MP can even stay on in the Ministry. I feel a little bit sorry for Sam Dastyari, the last politician actually made to resign for a conflict of interest. He’s a bit like the last soldier killed on the Western Front – shot by a stray bullet – a few minutes before 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
Lucky, we had COVID – for Morrison’s sake (not the millions who died). I am not saying he did a Moses and actually prayed for a plague (getting COVID instead of locusts), but it did conveniently give him and his party something to do for the last 2 years. Otherwise, parliament would have been sitting with everyone there just twiddling thumbs (as they played Angry Birds on their I-phones).
The question is what’s next after Nine years of Nothing: The Gas lead recovery when the world is turning to Solar and Wind energy? Or just more democracy of business – privatise profit, socialise debt, print more money till it’s all worthless, where only Bitcoin can feed us, and houses prices have skyrocketed to $26 billion for the last available henhouse in Toongabbie (shared with the chickens).
Let’s just hope they are put out to pasture before we waste the entire decade.
Or, maybe we can send them (metaphorically) to the glue factory, instead of Old Boxer, from Animal Farm, who should never have been sent there after almost single handedly building two windmills.