Not to Say, “I Told You So”, But…


… I told you so. It’s beyond the realm of predictive speculation – what the current government has done, or been tangled up in, has been blatantly obvious since the beginning. If people paid any attention or read into policies and the like, maybe they wouldn’t be so dismayed and shocked when certain stories break in the media. Although granted, the media is half to blame for most of this ignorance. There are countless examples that could be used, but here are four (mostly from this month).

Digital Privacy

“Security” laws, passed with bipartisan support last year, have resulted in a flood of requests to access citizens’ metadata – quite often, I assume, without peoples’ knowledge. Over 3300 cases of unlawful access were revealed this week, almost 30 times more than the initial admitted figure of 116. Labor hurriedly allowed the Bill to pass before Parliament packed up for the Christmas holidays, being chased by threats of ‘weak on security and terror’ campaign claims (the fact that they conceded to such authoritarian measures and then managed to lose shows they really didn’t have much going for them).

The vast majority of people (over 70%), in a poll carried out by Digital Rights Watch, expressed some level of concern regarding the retention of metadata by telecommunications companies (I would assume this extends to data retained by social media and other tech giants, e.g. Google) and that the government had the power (and means, if not always the authorisation) to access it, even if it is encrypted. Even accounting for the usual margin of error found in most polls, a fair number of the people who expressed concern here surely would have voted for the Coalition.

What did you think was going to happen when those laws were passed? Only 6 years ago did Snowden reveal the true extent of the US’ spying powers, and yet what has come of it? The US government has continued its invasive practices, such as the leaked Vault 7 stuff, and it appears Australia is blindly walking into the same trap. For a nation so concerned with the surveillance state – on all sides of politics, not limited to just ‘right’ or ‘left’ here – we seem rather complacent, voting in increasingly authoritarian governments.

NSW Stadiums

Lendlease has been dropped by the NSW Coalition government due to them not being able to “meet the objectives” set for them last year. They have demolished Sydney Football Stadium, leaving a rather ugly mark behind, but reconstruction appears to be uncertain now. The stadium projects – completely unnecessary and outrageously expensive, even by the Coalition’s estimates – became one of the central NSW election issues, somehow, and despite the opposition to the reconstruction, Gladys was re-elected.

But everyone knew it wouldn’t be a simple job. “Meeting obligations” is the government’s way of saying there was a cost blowout (as usual with Coalition projects). They are still promising that work will be completed on schedule and in budget ($729M), but given that Lendlease has been let go it can be assumed that any price under $1B may be unlikely.

Labor, who also lost that unlosable State election, has been quick to fire out at the government for this. If they had won, they would not have gone ahead with the project, and if demolition had occurred, they would not have moved onto reconstruction. Looks like the government will be struggling to do that themselves now.

Tax Cuts

Received your long awaited $1080 in tax cuts this financial year? Neither (not that I earned much myself anyway), because not everyone is getting that amount. Most people earn below the ‘average’ annual income, with the median sitting somewhere between $65-$70 thousand, which is around where the $1080 amount kicks in. But this is only phase one.

Over the next 6 years, the planned cuts will benefit much wealthier people, who may not have earned much this time around but will make up for it down the line. The median income earner of about $65,000 will maintain the $1080, but someone earning, for example, $100,000 will be getting almost $2000 more a year; at $200,000 the cut is over $10,000 more.

They really sold this one to the ‘average’ Australians who, in wage terms, aren’t really average at all. By 2025, people earning incredibly high incomes will be receiving much more in return than the few hundred to a $1000 some people might be getting this year. All of this for little gain, but at the expense of all the public services the government refuses to fund.

Union Attacks

These tax cuts come amid a flurry of action surrounding wage theft in the hospitality industry and yet another slanderous campaign against Unions fighting for workers’ rights. Scott Morrison has brought back the ‘thug’ nickname for Unions, attempting to bring in laws that could allow businesses “to apply to the Federal Court to get a union official disqualified or a union deregistered.”

The ACTU has warned that this could lead to Unions being outlawed at a time when workers’ rights are under severe attack from the government, Newstart payments are dismally low, and wages are stagnating. Given the fact that the Australian economy appears to be entering a recession of its own, I think it is the government in power, not the Union movement trying to better the lives of workers, that is to blame here.

As a sidenote, it is also worth noting something about the above linked SMH article. I honestly cannot remember where, but I read something recently that added to the criticisms of ‘mainstream’ media outlets, which that article is guilty of. While, of course, quotes and statements from the people involved in an event or process are important, the conversation and debate becomes incredibly narrow when news outlets flock to those ‘official’ sources and just parrot off what they hear.

If you are a casual reader and you read the above article, you probably couldn’t be blamed for coming away from it with a negative opinion of Unions. Aside from the use of the phrase “militant union officials” at the start, little under 90% of the article either directly or indirectly quotes Morrison or the government as a whole. A single, two-line paragraph is dedicated to saying Labor and the ACTU oppose the laws – that’s it. Just something to think about when you’re reading the news and being barraged with quotes.

But did anyone really expect anything different? Even just using the above four instances, for you to not be appalled at this government you’d want to be a rich, anti-Union property/construction boss that acquiesces to State sanctioned surveillance. Perhaps the first three of those go hand in hand, but if that’s you, you’re a minority. Everyone else is getting royally screwed over and the country going into mountainous debt because of an incompetent, authoritarian government has remained in power for too damn long.

And we still have 3 years to go. I’d ask for a miracle, but apparently that’s what got Morrison back in in the first place.

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