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Friday, October 25, 2013

Dehumanisation, delegitimisation and double-speak

The LNP have become masters of dehumanisation; delegitimising the rights of victims of horrendous human rights abuses, and it starts with the terminology. Asylum seekers are not illegal.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Immigration Minister Scott Morrison maintain the line that they don't want to pander to political correctness in relation to asylum seekers. Therefore, asylum seekers arriving by boat will be henceforth be referred to as 'illegal arrivals'.

This is great popularism politics, however, it is incorrect under the UN Refugee Convention to which Australia is a signatory. The Convention states that anyone can enter a signatory country and apply for asylum, no matter how they arrive there. That is not illegal and they are not illegal arrivals.

What we are witnessing, is not political correctness, put political incorrectness. Political popularism appealing to the xenophobes that the Liberal Party has carefully cultivated to secure election victory. After all, one method of gaining political success is to create a bogeyman and then show yourself as the way, the truth and the light to overcoming said bogeyman.

The problem is, that it is baloney. Asylum seekers are not illegal. They are victims of human rights abuses, and the LNP is perpetuating the abuse by referring to them as illegals.

Ironically, Abbott is happy to prance around showing how much of a charity-minded individual he is through volunteer fire-fighting and life-saving (at tax-payers expense, mind), yet his charity disappears when it comes to asylum seekers. It would appear that one form of charity leads to votes and one doesn't.

Asylum seekers now live in fear of being rounded up and shipped off to the Gulags that Australia has created on Manus Island, Nauru and so on. For some, this fear has already come true. Recently, even pregnant women were shipped to Nauru, where there is very limited medical care. So much for charity, Tony.

Since John Howard, the Liberal Party has become masters of dehumanisation; delegitimising the rights of victims of horrendous human rights abuses, and it starts with the terminology. This is coupled with censorship and misinformation which we've seen since the Liberal Party banned the release of information regarding boat arrivals; confining it to the release of cherry-picked data in weekly briefings. The pathetic excuse for this is that it is a military operation. The military-led, regally sounding, jingoistic Operation Sovereign Borders was established by Prime Minister Abbott on the pretense of protecting asylum seekers from drowning. A bit of over-kill if that was his true motive. Rather, Operation Sovereign Borders is sold by the Liberal Party, particularly Tony Abbott and the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison as defending Australia from malice-minded refugees hell-bent on overthrowing this great country and establishing their own nation. Wave the flags, stop the boats.

This Orwellian double-speak needs to stop. Asylum seekers are not illegal. They are not a threat. They don't come with malice on their minds. Asylum seekers are people. Victims in their own country. Victims in ours. They have the right for their claims to be heard.

This disgraceful, deceitful dialogue of hatred and jingoism should cease, otherwise we may as well stop the pretense and remove ourselves from the UN Refugee Convention. We can then be just like every other nation that fails to recognise asylum seekers and has no respect for human rights.

Would it be so bad if Australia set an example of how to treat people humanely, rather than acting like despots, fascists, thugs and bullies to those in need?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Debt before Demagogues!

Labor gave us debt. The LNP gave us Demagogues. 

The debt delivered us from the worst of the Global Financial meltdown, leaving Australia with one of the strongest economies in the world, while other OECD nations floundered.

The Demagogues delivered laws that remove and abuse human rights, workers rights and legal rights at federal and state level.

While in opposition Tony Abbott bleated about the 'debt crisis' created by Labor. Now that he is Prime Minister, he is in now hurry to pay down the debt. Why? Because there is no debt crisis, as many of commentators, including Ranting Panda, stated over and over again. Yet the blind believed the lies that Abbott spouted.

Then there was the Slipper and Thompson affairs. Slipper had been accused of misusing Cabcharges and Thompson accused of misusing union funds for his own benefit, including allegedly at brothels. Abbott and his ilk went after both of them relentlessly. And rightly so! IF there was any truth in the accusations, both men should have been held accountable.

Since winning the 2013 election, dozens of LNP politicians, including Abbott himself, have been caught out wrongly claiming expenses. Ironically, Abbott attended Slipper's wedding and claimed the junket on the public purse - not long before he accused Slipper of rorting the public purse. This is unbelievably brazen hypocrisy. What does Abbott want to do about these potentially fraudulent claims that have recently come to light? Nothing. Apparently it is OK if politicians rort the system, as long as the LNP are in power.

Abbott has continued and expanded the human rights abuses of asylum seekers, even sending pregnant women to Nauru where there is limited medical care. He has threatened to 'turn the boats around'. He has there is no compassion for the terrible tragedies that asylum seekers have faced. Yes, Labor was also guilty of this too, with their inhumane PNG solution, but it was the Liberal Party under John Howard that legitimised the racial, xenophobic abuse of asylum seekers. Prior to that, both the Liberal Party and the Labor Party welcomed asylum seekers humanely.

In Queensland, we've seen Premier Campbell Newman sack thousands of public servants, abusing them in the process, stating he was getting the 'pooper scooper' out. These were hard working men and women who proudly served their state, and here their Premier, their boss was essentially saying they were shit. What a great leadership role-model!

In addition to this, one of Newman's first acts was to overturn Labor's civil union legislation as he pandered to religious extremists and the most conservative voters.

Queensland's Attorney-General, Jarrod Bleije in an incredible display of Constitutional ignorance, introduced legislation that takes power from the courts and gives it to himself so that he can indefinitely detain serious sex offenders. Queensland operates under the Westminster system, which holds as its central tenet the separation of powers between executive, legislative and judicial. Bleije is setting himself up as judge, jury and executioner.

Which brings me to his next blatant abuse of human and legal rights. He has presented the Vicious Lawless Disestablishment bill, which has passed in a sad indictment of Queensland parliament. Under the VLAD Act, a person convicted of a violent crime, who is found to be a member of a gang, or an associate of a gang-member, will be automatically sentenced to a further 15 years on their head sentence. If they are also found to be an office-bearer in the gang, an additional 10 years on top of the head sentence and the gang-member sentence . Effectively, a person convicted of a violent assault could be sentenced to five years jail for the assault, but serve up to 30 years if they are a gang member or associate. The time doesn't fit the crime!

Bleije has also introduced a Bill that will prevent injured workers from suing employers whose negligent actions caused the injury. There are no rights for workers in Queensland. Bleije has claimed it is an attack on 'vested interests'. The only 'vested interests' in this are the big businesses that will benefit from this and which Bleije is pandering to.

This follows on from Newman wanting to ban Unions from attending the workplace, cutting unions out of the wage bargaining and forcing them to undertake votes from the membership if spending more than $10,000. He tried to ban Unions from giving money to the Labor Party without express permission of the membership. Yet, given the history of Labor and the Unions, it could have been a condition of membership that members accept the Union will donate to Labor.

Bleije also wants to name and shame juvenile offenders, which will not solve anything.

The reason for Bleije's fascist actions, is not the protection of Queenslanders, but to appear as though the Newman government has achieved something, when it has done nothing but destroy Queensland with asset sales, mass sackings, high unemployment, union bashing, attacking workers rights, and now, a Police State.

Both Newman and Abbott played the 'debt' card during their election campaigns. Neither Queensland, or Australia, were on the brink of the abyss, but both Abbott and Newman ran fear and smear campaigns that impugned the achievements of Labor.

Without the debt, Australia and Queensland would have suffered significantly. When Government stops spending, the economy slows down, causing high unemployment, bankruptcies and loss of sales for business and loss of tax revenue for government.

The LNP has run fear campaigns based on lies which have demonised asylum seekers, unions, debt, the economy and marriage equality. To perpetuate the fear, or more importantly, to make it more difficult to disprove, both Abbott and Newman are suppressing information. Federally, the Government is only providing weekly, and incomplete, briefings regarding asylum seekers, while in Queensland the Government has withheld the publication of the annual statistical review, something the Police were publishing every year under previous governments.

The LNP rules by fear, fascism and censorship.

Labor is not perfect, and could certainly get back to its grass roots, focussing more on workers and human rights. Labor increased the debt, but we did not see the attacks on basic freedoms that we see with the current breed of LNP fascists.

Give us Debt before Demagogues!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Travelling the Road to Damascus - backwards

Most Christians will tell of the moment they realised that serving God was more important than serving mammon. Slap that epiphany in reverse and we have Tony Abbott. While he was studying to be a priest, Abbott had a reverse 'Road to Damascus' moment in which he realised that serving mammon was more important and interesting than serving the church.

On 4 September 2013, Tony Abbott appeared on the ABC TV's Kitchen Cabinet, being interviewed by Annabel Crabb. What struck me about this episode was Abbott's 'moment of clarity', when he realised what he'd rather be doing with his life. This moment didn't come when he was a godless heathen. No. It came while he was at seminary studying to enter the priesthood.

The following is a quote from Tony Abbott during that episode, about the moment he realised that serving mammon was more important than dedicating his life to God or the church:
'Well, there was, as a matter of fact. I was 29 years old, I'd been the president of the SRC at Sydney University, I had degrees in economics and law, I'd been a Rhode Scholar in Oxford, I was at the beginning of my fourth year as a seminarian and I was writing an essay on the desert fathers, a 500-word essay on the desert fathers. And I was falling asleep in the middle of the afternoon and I rang a mate of mine, and this particular mate of mine, who I had played rugby with at Sydney University, said to me when I called, he said, "Oh, Abbo, I can't actually make those drinks we're going to have next week." I said, "Oh", and I was shattered because you really look forward to those sorts of things when your life is as regular and at times dull as my life was then. And I said, "How come?" And he said, "You know that contract that Ansett are doing with British Aerospace." "I've got to go to London to sign the contract.” It was a £1.5 billion contract. I thought if he's doing something like that I am wasting my time writing 500-word essays on the desert fathers and I thought at that moment I've got to do something that's a better use of the rest of my life and that was it'.

Abbott thought that serving mammon was a better use of his time than serving God? Apparently, £1.5 billion is quite the eye-opener.

Well, I guess this is scriptural. After all, Matthew 6:24 states:
No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
By his own words, Abbott stated he was wasting his time in the seminary. This wasn't a revelation early in his time there. He was in his fourth year ... and falling asleep.

Abbott obviously despised one master and loved the other.

When Christians wax lyrical about voting for Abbott because he is a 'decent, God-fearing man', it makes me cringe. They didn't say that about Kevin Rudd, even though he is also a God-fearing, church-going Christian. Had Rudd left seminary to pursue a life of power and wealth, I'm pretty certain most of the right-wing Christian groups would ... well ... crucify him ... to coin a phrase.

Abbott has shown over and again, that his service is to power, to popularity, and not to God or the bible. After all, he was a minister in the Howard government and didn't speak up once against the lies and abuses of that administration. Now, Howard was also apparently a 'decent, God-fearing' man if right-wing Christians are to be believed. Yet, Howard took Australia to war based on a lie, he victimised and persecuted the victims of persecution and war crimes, he covered-up his knowledge and involvement in tragedies such as Siev-X (which cost 353 lives), he fabricated the 'children overboard' affair and he lied about tax (remember 'no new taxes, tax increases or indirect taxes in my first term of Government' promise ... oh, but that was a 'non-core' promise ... my bad).

Christianity these days is so far removed from what Christ preached, that some Christians glorify demagogues such as Abbott and Howard. But then, some churches have embraced 'prosperity' doctrine, in which the tithe shall set you free.

Abbott does like to turn boats around ... so I guess in his own metaphorical Sea of Galilee, Abbott turned the boat around, away from the stormy service of dedicated Christianity, and headed back to shore where he could wallow in a world of power, wealth and travel rorts.

Vote for Abbott if that floats your boat ... or tows it ... or turns it around ... whatever your poison. But don't vote for him on the grounds of his version of Christianity being far superior to anyone else's.