About Me

My photo
Erik is a public policy professional and owner of the online training course in democracy and civic action: www.3ptraining.com.au The Blog …explores ways to create a sustainable and just community. Explores how that community can be best protected at all levels including social policy/economics/ military. The Book Erik’s autobiography is a humorous read about serious things. It concerns living in the bush, wilderness, home education, spirituality, and activism. Finding Home is available from Amazon, Barnes&Noble and all good e-book sellers.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Election 2013 - is there Life Under Abbott?

Why Labor and the Left Lost the Unlosable Election

Labor and the Left lost.

World heritage areas and national parks are no longer safe, marine reserves may be repealed, environmental protections will be gutted, renewable energy will be targeted in favour of coal, climate science has been junked, the Great Barrier Reef is in jeopardy; chainsaws are revving up for a final assault on Tasmania’s forest strongholds. Environmentalists and other truth speakers will be purged from the civil service.

Election night - Abbott wins the election for the Tories

This should have been the unlosable election for progressives. Under a Labor government Australia weathered the GFC better than any other nation in the OECD. We kept a AAA credit rating. We tackled carbon and the sky didn’t fall in, costs didn’t skyrocket and our industries didn’t close. In fact lots of people got jobs in renewable energy and our superfunds invested in them. True, Labor was taking water over 'boat people' but then Labor Prime Minister Kevin, in a tactically brilliant move, pulled the rug out from under Abbott and sent them all the PNG. So why did Abott win?

The talking heads have dissected every tactical error in the Labor campaign but ignored the deeper issues. As someone whose social circle includes political candidates for both the Greens and Family First; my lesbian neighbours, the politically correct, Liberal voting business men, and conservative evangelicals, I would like to offer an explanation.

Basically, Australian’s don’t like Wowsers. In the early days of settlement (OK invasion for those on the Left), we had Wowsers. They were usually religious people who harboured a great personal horror at the thought that someone somewhere might be having a good time. They preached against drinking, whoring and gambling, and exhorted husbands to be faithful. In short, they were regarded as a pain the arse.

No one listens to religious people much in Australia any more but nature abhors a vacuum and the Left has rushed to fill it. Let me put it this way:

What if urban working class blue collar red neck Australia doesn’t want multiculturalism - or at least object to the wholesale taking over of suburbs by defined ethnic groups? What if many Australians don’t want gay marriage? What if people actually want the freedom to speak their mind without being reported on, fined, reprimanded, or sacked? What if people don’t want homosexuality promoted as a life style choice through the school system? What if most people deep down would prefer Caucasions to remain a statistical majority? What if people wanted recidivist sex offenders jailed for life or shot? What if most Australians just don’t want more refugees or other migrants flooding into the poorer parts of crowded cities? What if some migrants' cultural values (wife burning and clitorectomy for example) are not in-fact compatible with our values? What if some people think that being a mother is as valid as being an employee? What if we all did become human at some time prior to passing through the birth canal? Is it OK to encourage mothers to have their babies instead of aborting them? What if closing down an entire industry in the top-end and pissing off a well-armed and hungry nation of more than 200 million people to satisfy some animal rights activists wasn’t very smart?  What if some people are really worried about their teenage kids if drugs are legalised? Are people who hold those views bad people?

According to the Left they are. And that’s why the Left lost.

It’s not so much that the educated middle classes have a different set of values from most Aussies. It is that they are utterly condescending and disparaging in the way they put their values forward. Forget dialogue. Forget respect. Having received an electoral thumping the Greens have just discovered that being ‘right’ doesn’t get you elected, being popular does. Forgot to listen - whoops!

The majority of Australians would relate to most if not all of what I just wrote. To them it’s common sense. For them there is a real sense that we are losing our country, losing our morals, and losing our way. Who is ‘right’ and whether these things are objectively true is beside the point.

To make the divide greater those who implement policy seldom have to live with the consequences of it. Blue collar workers have no choice but to live with, or be pushed out by, migrants with whom they compete for jobs. The latte set don’t have to put up with ethnic gangs, are safe in their suburbs, and would never send their kids to public schools filled with ethnic students. When the Northern Territory cattle industry was decimated no-one in the Australian Public Service lost their job.

This divide climaxed recently with the proposal by human rights lawyer and refugee advocate Julian Burnside that Australia’s entire refugee intake should be housed in the Island State of Tasmania. He reasoned that Tasmania started out as one big penal colony so why not send all of Australia’s refugee boat arrivals there? We are talking anywhere up to fifty thousand traumatised people in a State of half a million centred around two large towns. Having dropped that bomb shell Julian flew home to his wealthy urban life. Hmmm. Didn’t seem to have occurred to him that Tasmanians may not want to become again another vast penal colony, or that the social fabric is already stretched, or that we would need to build a whole new hospital, or that we might have spent a hundred years trying to break free from the past.

Tamania is home to many refugees from many places, as well as economic migrants like my parents who emigrated from the UK. Migrants are a welcome and valuable part of our community. There are practical limits though to any society's capacity to absorb large numbers of people from other cultures. Julian is entitled to his views – it’s just that he doesn’t live here and he didn’t ask anyone.  See here.

Not to be outdone local Greens leader Nick McKim then rushed off to his Party to endorse Julian’s suggestion as party policy. That’s OK, it’s just that he is a member of Cabinet and a leader in a coalition government that is ‘on the nose’ and, um, he didn’t consult with the community first.

So where to from here? If we want to build a civil society, whether from the left or the right we need to stop lecturing and start building bridges. We need to care as much about boorish beer swilling blue collar working people as we do about refugees. It’s going to be tough. The Green movement is going to have to abandon the Greens and their social agenda and campaign again as a-political patriotic Australians for the environment. The Left are going to have to BBQ some sacred cows and the right are going to have to grow up and realise that the 'market' isn't going to solve our problems on its own. The market is after all about maximising private profit which is not a benevolent activity.

The Greens can represent the far far left if they want to, but in so doing they need to accept the reality that eighty per cent of Australians will never vote for them. However eighty per cent of Australians still care about the environment and about climate change. Right now Australia needs a movement for the environment from across the political spectrum, not just a manifestation of the social left which is today's environmental movement.

Tag line: Julian Burnside Tasmanian refugee proposal, asylum seeker policy, Christine Milne election, Tony Abbott climate change, Labor election 2013, secondary boycott laws, SLAPP, Greens human rights, gay marriage, marriage equality,

No comments:

Post a Comment