Dr Peter White's Blog

Thoughts and comments from Dr Peter White -- political, philosophical, spiritual, musical and more

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Location: Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

I am retired from the Uni. of Queensland, and have numerous interests inside and outside of the uni. I play classical, bluegrass, country and folk guitar (hows that for a mix?) I am a member of the Australian Labor Party and am currently branch secretary of the Mt Coot-tha branch. I'm also involved in developing virtual reality builds and websites. Never bored!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

It's on!

After an interminable wait, the Prime Minister of Oz has finally called an election for 24 November. We have been waiting for this just on a year now, since the opposition party managed to elect themselves a more than credible leader in Kevin Rudd.

The unofficial campaign has been in full swing for at least 6 months. The polls indicate that at this time the Labor party is set to take government from the sitting coalition parties who have (mis)ruled Oz for 11.5 years.

Yes, I am very biased. How do I dislike the current government? Let me count the ways...
1) Lies -- some of the biggies:
* There will never be a goods and services tax. We have one.
* The refugee children were not thrown overboard from a sinking derelict ship.
* The industrial reform laws are industrial deform laws which are severely harming working people
* Good economic managers. They are not. They are riding the crest of a boom and of a solid financial infrastructure which was set up by the previous two Labor governments. All this mob has been good at is collecting heaps of money and squirreling it away to be doled out as electoral sops -- commonly known as porkbarelling.
2) Lack of human rights.
* the treatment of refugees has been excruciatingly embarassing -- refugees who have tried to escape oppressive regimes and bloody war have been treated as war criminals here.
* The absolute refusal to apologies to the indigenous peoples of this nation, where the population in fact did, and continue to do so.
3) Fragmented and weak response to environmental issues
* absolute refusal to sign the Kyoto protocols.
* granting permission for Gunns to build a pulp mill in one of the most pristine and beautiful areas of Tasmania
* pushing nuclear energy and setting up a "yes men" committee to endorse it (see also lies above)
4) Destruction of the tertiary education system in Oz
* underfunding and over bureaucratising; converting universities from academic management to line management
* political interference in research proposals
* destruction of student unions and we are now just seeing the near collapse of student services in most universities
* reliance on overseas and full fee-paying students to cover university costs as the government as withdrawn general revenue
5) Leading from the rear. Using the financial grease gun to lubricate any squeaky wheels that happen to shriek around election times, while ignoring the problems between times.
6) Health
* Underfunding health organisations
* providing less capital to states for health services while demanding more reporting (see also tertiary education)
* attempting to fragment state health services by directly funding 'areas of need' (read areas in marginal electorates)
7) Welfare
* establishment of a number of draconian rules and regulations which are solely there to punish people for being poor.
* demanding more reporting and 'accountability' from NGOs who offer social and welfare services.
8) Military
* committing Oz to the "Coalition of the Willing" (IMHO the "Coalition of the Stupid") in the Iraq fiasco.
* Refusing to move from the American hard line on Iraq.
9) Extravagant expenditure on empty rhetoric and spin; provision of anti-terrorism magnets; expensive full colour magazines on how to be more environmentally conscious (go figure...)

Those are some of the highlights that I can think of off the top of my head. The list goes on, and on, and on...

And if you want a more composite picture of the overall impact of this government on Oz society, read David Marr's lead article in the Quarterly Essay (Issue 26, 2007).

Next blog I'll offer some words of wit and wisdom about the opposition parties; some now call Rudd "Howard Lite" and the question is, is there truth in that? Or is a mild swing to the centre-left better than the hard right we have been suffering for 11.5 years? I think the former myself.

'nuff for now.
P B White