Posted by: Nick Ward | 6 September, 2013

On The Eve of Who Knows What


I have a confession to make: some of my best friends vote conservative.  Hell, if the Liberal Party was all made up of Malcolm Turnbulls I might even consider it. Under the right circumstances. Almost.

What I find interesting is that a good number of these friends have already made it clear they won’t vote conservative this weekend, because of their fear of what a government led by Tony Abbott might do even in the course of a single three year term.

And yet if the polls are right he’s going to win by a long way.

How is this possible?

Well, no question the ALP haven’t done themselves any favours.  While Kevin Rudd is intelligent and speaks well, the internal machinations in a party dominated by powerful factions of questionable motivation have been made very visible over recent years, and it hasn’t been pretty.

The real reason, I believe, is not that, however.  It’s the power of a small number of very rich and self-interested people dominating the media so completely that their propaganda is presented as news, and people then swallowing it hook, line & sinker.

This is all my personal opinion and analysis, but if the Murdochs and Rineharts can have their voice screamed from the airwaves and newstands all day long then I feel no guilt in presenting mine here, so here goes…

There are two massive interests which are under huge threat at present: traditional media, and super profits from the mining and resources boom.

Traditional media (newspapers, radio, TV) is rapidly being pushed toward obsolescence by the internet. Murdoch and his peers dominate the old style media channels, but they are seriously struggling to translate that into dominance of the internet. As a result, they want to slow the shift to maximise their profit streams and buy them more time.  Strategy: dramatically limit the National Broadband Network to prevent it providing the speeds required for its next evolution. Oh, and put in filters to slow it further and allow China-style government control should it get too hard to manage.  As of yesterday, both of these are Liberal Party Policy.

The second set of interests are about mining and resources.  While the sun is shining bright at the moment, it is setting, and the Rineharts of the world know it. Again, these are industries that are time-limited and non-renewable, and add to that the slowing of the Chinese economy which has been driving the super profits to this point and they have justification for their concern. So they want to be allowed to go back to paying a fraction of the tax which small businesses would be required to pay on their profits, because, well, they want the money themselves, thank you very much. Oh, and they found dirty fossil-fuel fired energy cheap as chips until the carbon tax brought it back into line with renewable energy, so they want that back too, thanks. Good news for them, not coincidentally, is that removing the mining super profits tax and the carbon tax are also Liberal Party Policy.

So these two interests have been using their media dominance to present incredibly dangerous policies as common sense and their knight-in-shining-armour as a credible leader for Australia.

It saddens me that Australians aren’t seeing through this.

Two things happened yesterday.

The first thing was that the Joe Hockey, understandably sweating like a marathon runner, finally presented the Liberal Party’s policy costings as a one-page document at a press conference. This was two days before the election, and a day into the media blackout on the election, effectively preventing any real debate on their strategy.

The second thing that happened was that Sydney had a 29 degree celsius day five days after the end of winter. And tomorrow this country is almost certainly going to vote into power a government which is hell bent on turning around the small wins we have had on greenhouse emissions over the past three years and ramp up the production of CO2 again. What can I say.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of reasons I’m despairing the likely result in tomorrow’s election. Common-sense on marriage equality; humane policies toward refugees; investment in public transport and infrastructure; a strong public service with sensible social services – these are all things we can wave goodbye to. But the thing that really stinks is that Abbott is presenting his prospective government as having policies based on sound economic management and common sense when they are transparently about the interests of his powerful sponsors.

This has happened before, you know. In 1996 Paul Keating had Australia as an international leader in human rights and climate action.  John Howard was voted in, reversed our stance on climate change overnight, locked down marriage as being the privilege of heterosexuality, introduced Pauline Hansen, and promoted a racist and selfish Australia making us an embarrassment in the eyes of the international community. So tomorrow, do we go back to the future?

You know, I shouldn’t be blogging about this, I should be doing something about it. And I don’t mean move to New Zealand (although I admit I’ve thought about it).  In the words of Michael Moore, we should be recruiting someone to run for public office, or, better still, run for public office ourselves. Who’s in?

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