Responses to the Liberal’s ‘National Security’ agenda are interesting.
The Conversation has an article today titled ‘Abbotts national security changes are unlikely to make us safer’ and yet the opening sentance is “Prime Minister deserves the benefit of the Doubt that his intentions to further strenghthen Australia’s national security are good, well planned and most importantly justified.” The author, Clarke Jones, continues by going into how the proposed changes have the potential to exacerbate the underlying causes of violent extremism and further damage Australia’s cohesion. You can read the article here yourself.
Clearly violence in the sense that is committed by the ‘Other’ is hot political tom yum at the moment and like tom yum leaves many people with either fire in their belly or a stomach pain.
There are two more significant and basic issues I would suggest are more urgent food for the National plate.
The level of family violence within our communities
The level of youth unemployment
Both warrant significant government input and support rather than platitudes and lip service, cutbacks and ‘corporate buddy funding’.
Two great ABC programs on these topics have touched a nerve for me this week;
Last night’s Q&A on Family Violence, and the most recent 4 Corners report on Work Program rorting. Neither of the issues picked up by the programs are new, and in fact many Australians suffer from compassion fatigue in relation to the plethora of information that is out there on continued concerns around these issues. Both should be core business in any government ‘reform’ agenda. The victims, children, women and men who suffer as the ‘exceptional’ victims, deserve to be protected by our government who blithely make statements about our ‘protection’ being so important to them. ‘Death cults’ as so many tweeters suggested are not the priority.
When Abbott takes the stance of ‘our home is our castle’ in ‘fighting terrorism’ (somewhat of an oxymoron) or ‘shirtfronting Putin’, he embodies everything that sits underneath the endemic problem of male violence, against each other, women, children and community. Let’s face it the guy is a ‘bloke’ and likes ‘bloke speak’ he thinks it makes him ‘one of us’ and fails to see how it sets him apart. He is an embarrassment. Remember he is the ‘Minister for Women’!
I have worked extensively in the areas of sexual assault, child protection and family services. These are complex fields that require comprehensive service models and stamina from governments to persist beyond the political photo opportunity. Many of my colleagues are tired, they are angry at the government’s lack of insight and tap turning on the already pitifully low flow of funds that support agencies ongoing work. The liberal and labour shift under a neo-liberal agenda towards provision of social services from corporate enterprise rather than community networks has undermined much good work in this arena and simply depresses those who work in the field, with children, women, men, youth, families and communities.
The result of these policies? – human experience of deep suffering particularly in vulnerable ‘shadow people.’
The outcome of this bi-partisan neo-liberal agenda was painfully clear in the 4 Corners report ‘The Jobs Game’ (here) where the ABC program exposed the extent of taxpayer money stolen by many of the agencies who sit in the service sector now wrapped firmly around the unemployed. The program explored how “agencies have blossomed thanks to the privatisation of the Commonwealth Employment Service in 1998, and are thriving on contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars.” The program explored how, “unemployment is now big business in Australia with some $1.3 billion spending on its welfare to work scheme.” More poignantly, it exposed the suffering of people forced to undertake useless and soul destroying ‘training’ programs and regularly spend their time and transport money to meet with people who demoralise them and provide little to assist. Clearly Jobs vs jobless is the figure that needs rebalancing, but of course that is not on their agenda, it is in fact a good thing in the world of big business that the pool of unemployed remain a source of potential cheap labour.
(For a thorough look at the economic rationalist fallacies read Bill Mitchell’s blog. His article on the Job Services debacle here)
Again there are so many anecdotal tales of rort and subterfuge in this area, with some ‘providers’ being more honest than others and indeed reputable agencies choosing not to participate because it is contradictory to their values.
The program did not have a chance to explore the fudged numbers that then go to make up the government stats on under and un employed. It did not look at fair wage, it did not examine gender disproportion in wage levels, the ongoing casualisation of labour and the associated insecurities placed on the ‘less fortunate’. (Although QI touched on these power differentials in relation to male violence against women and the increased capacity of middle and upper class women to extricate themselves from situations of Family Violence)
The vulnerable are not only being exploited, but successive governments are continuing to use the people’s taxes to prioritise and implement their ill-thought policies, and worse, transnational pockets. The saddest thing about the failure to sincerely address these issues is the effects of government failure to act with foresight and forethought and to continue kneejerk responses that politicise genuine community concerns.
When government encourages and supports Big Business to spread it tenticles into basic human resources and social interventions like;
Our ground water sources.….
Where there is a demand for the trade of water across borders, it is already well underway. The trade in bottled water is one of the fastest-growing (and least regulated) industries in the world. In the 1970s, the annual volume was 300 million gallons. By 1980, this figure had climbed to 630 million gallons, and by the end of the decade, the world was drinking two billion gallons of bottled water every year. But these numbers pale in comparison to the explosion in bottled water sales in the last five years-over 20 percent annually. In 2000 over 8 billion gallons (24 billion liters) of water was bottled and traded globally, over 90 percent of it in non-reusable plastic containers……………………
Alongside the giants of the industry, such as Perrier, Evian, Naya, Poland Spring, Clearly Canadian, La Croix and Purely Alaskan, there are literally thousands of smaller companies now in the business. As well, the big soft-drink players are entering the market en masse. PepsiCo has its Aquafina line and CocaCola has just launched the North American version of its international label, Bon Aqua, called Dasani. CocaCola predicts that its water line, which is just processed tap water and sells for more than gasoline, will surpass its soft-drink line within a decade.
More on Coke: http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1463816.htm
Our Health and Welfare System
Our Energy ‘providers’
We are firmly in the grip of spin and corporate control and have to speak up.
Thank-you Auntie I was disillusioned with you, but you can still throw a curve ball. (Honourable mention to Media Watch!)
“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act.”