It is a horrible thing to say about a country that has been one greatest ally, most ferocious sporting rival and at times almost like family. It is even more horrible to have to say it with the 100th Anniversary of the Gallipoli landings in 1915 fast approaching, about a nation that as much as we bicker with over sport and occasionally politics, we visit in huge numbers every year and have over 400,000 of our number living there. And yet as horrible as it is to say, it is true that Australian values are in decline under the governance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
Since Mr Abbott took power in 2013, the governing Liberal-National Coalition has waged an unprecedented war against the vulnerable sections of Australian society, the environment, human rights and civil liberties. The list of backward steps taken is too long to list here, so I have outlined the major ones below;
- The flagrant denial of climate change flies in the face of what most of Australia’s closest allies are doing as does the decision to allow more mining in environmentally sensitive locations
- The human rights abuses on Nauru Island although not proven, need to be taken seriously because many of them involve women and children and basic sanitary needs that a first world country like Australia should have no problems at all supplying.
- His decision to close Aboriginal communities because they are reflective of poor choices by Aboriginal people, many of whom would seriously struggle to adjust to modern Australian norms
- The attempt to deregulate universities, if the New Zealand experience is anything to go by means steadily worsening fees and no significant increase in the quality of the instruction or the degrees that come out
It is not just the policies that are a problem though. Mr Abbott is well known for being gaffe prone, as have the rabble of ministers under his watch. A few examples are:
- The then Minister for Immigration Scott Morrison declined all attempts by human rights groups to gain access to Nauru to investigate alleged human righs abuses
- Mr Abbott’s contempt for Parliamentary procedure are only surpassed by the blinding bias that the Speaker of the House shows in favour of Liberal and National M.P.’s, where opposition Members of Parliament have been thrown out over 300 times since she assumed office to just a half dozen or less instances of Liberal M.P.’s being made to leave.
- Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop told President Obama that he was wrong to say climate change had anything to do with the accelerating Great Barrier Reef decline when a substantial body of research shows otherwise
- Much as I despise Russian President Vladimir Putin, he did not deserve Tony Abbott’s threat to shirt front him – no good politician would ever do that
- Minister of Finance Joe Hockey’s constant flip flopping on funding for various policies, his inability to balance the books and erosion of funding for existing projects of a socially beneficial nature have made him something of a laughing stock
I hope that the recent few months would make the Australian government sit up and take notice of the world around them. Sometimes not everything is as it should be. Perhaps changing policies might back fire with unintended consequences, but in a Senate where the Opposition are handicapped by a Speaker who cares little for the other side of the House, Ministers such as Scott Morrison can get away scot free from questioning – or simply duck and weave like their New Zealand counter parts.