Black and white lies

By May 23, 2019Australian Politics

Well, the election is over and the result has been a disaster for most people in Australia. The wealthy will do quite nicely out of it with their franking credit refunds and their tax cuts, while their corporations will continue to thrive on government largesse as they donate a proportion of that largesse to the Liberal and National parties. This is the elaborate money-laundering scam of modern neoliberal Australia. Members of the Coalition parties will also continue to feather their own nests, all at our expense. To me, the thing which epitomised this election campaign was a row of corflutes just up the road from where I live. These were in black and white and said things such as ‘Labor will tax your retirement’, ‘Labor will tax your car’, ‘Labor will tax your home’, and ‘Labor will tax you to death’. While I paid little attention to them, because I knew they were lies, they did make me worry that enough people who do not read or are gullible enough to believe such lies, may be frightened enough think these were real concerns. This is apparently what happened.

These corflutes were just the tip of the iceberg of lies perpetrated by the coalition. There are anecdotes of people believing that: Labor would take their cars from them; Labor was going to casualise their jobs; Labor was going to cut their pension; Labor was going to persecute them for their religion; Labor was going to kill babies; Labor was going to allow full-term abortions; Labor was going to destroy the economy in the name of dealing with climate change; and Adani would provide ten thousand jobs. Of course, all of these were lies too.

As far as I can see, the problem Labor had was that it tried to explain things to people who are incapable of comprehending such explanations. The franking credit refund story is so abstruse, so divorced from most people’s everyday life, that it took me a little while to actually find out how it worked. The Coalition called it a ‘retiree tax’, and your average ignoramus presumably thought ‘Jeez; I’m a retiree and Labor are going to tax me more’. It was an election strategy which clearly worked on people who were incapable of understanding the complexities of the policy. Indeed, even some people in the media could not understand it or did not want to. How does a political party counter such an election strategy? Firstly, by developing policies clearly directed at benefiting the ignorant, and keeping them simple so the ignorant can understand them. Secondly, developing a suite of epithets and lies of your own. It is an appalling situation in which Australia’s rapidly failing democracy finds itself. However, it will get worse.

8 Comments

  • keryn booker says:

    So true . what a nightmare. I wonder what the surplus will be . The Australia i was proud of has long gone . I thought Chris Bowen woukd make a great leader . but even that is not to be .

    • admin says:

      Keryn,
      I have some hope for the future, one way or another. Religion is in decline, neoliberalism has been shown to be a failure, and climate change will become more obvious so that even the deniers will get nervous.

  • Jon says:

    Heard on ABC radio today one very rudimentary analysis purely based on demographic info. Seems the franking may have made little difference. Labor got small swings in wealthier electorates and Liberals did better in lower socio-economic electorates (ignoring Qld). There have already been too many presumptive seat of the pants guesses for the reasons behind the indefensible voting so I really shouldn’t add my own ignorance but it suggests to me that some people bought the scare campaigns and were fearful of even further economic downturn, and that many of the same people didn’t have a clue what they were voting for – because the only party offering something to the less well-off and workers was Labor. Seems to be a short -term memory malaise among parts of our navel-gazing and self-interested population. A vaccine needs to be invented asap lest we plumb the depths of mediocrity even further. I’m almost convinced that before anyone votes they should have to pass a basic policy comprehension test because it’s bloody obvious a high percentage don’t have even a basic grasp.

    • admin says:

      Jon,
      Yeah, I think there is much seat of the pants analysis (like mine), but scare campaigns always seem to work. I don’t know that you can disenfranchise people just for being thick or gullible. I also think there needs to be some education as to how the parliament operates. I think the AEC needs to be beefed up and to have the ability to prosecute for transgressions. Another thing we need is legislation to prevent lying by the media and by politicians.

      • Arthur Baker says:

        For quite a few months, my wife and I have been assisting our next-door neighbour, an Italian lady, to improve her English. She comes in once a week for just over an hour, and we talk and talk. My background is in linguistics, so I usually prepare some material (phonetics, grammar, vocabulary, Australian vernacular, some Australian history etc), and she’s making great progress. She’s very grateful, but we do it (a) because she’s a nice person and good neighbour, (b) because we can, and (c) because it’s fun – had a lot of laughs.

        Now, our neighbour is going for Australian citizenship. Her interview and test are next week. So, for the last few weeks, we’ve concentrated on the official government guide to how to prepare. Downloaded the guide in English and Italian, and we’ve been through it paragraph by paragraph (it’s very long and detailed). So our neighbour has learned a swag of stuff about Australian geography, people, history, states and territories, federation, beliefs, rights, liberties, system of government, privileges of citizenship, voting, the constitution, the separation of powers, how the federal government works, House of Reps, Senate, political parties, administration of the law, courts, police, and loads more.

        I’m pretty sure she’ll pass her test, but the thought did strike me that even if she fails (she’ll re-sit the test later if that happens), she now knows (in English as well as Italian) heaps more about Australia, its history and traditions and (particularly) its government than the vast majority of people who were born and raised here! She’s done this study because she had to – without it she can’t be a citizen and she can’t vote.

        And this raises the question: if she’s required to pass this test in order to be one of us and vote, why shouldn’t everyone be so required? This is one of very few aspects in which, it seems to me, the USA may be ahead of Australia – the teaching of “civics” in school. Make everyone do the same test, whether born here or not, say I.

        • admin says:

          Arthur,
          I agree with the teaching of ‘civics’ in school and as something you have to ‘pass’ before you are let out of school.

  • Russell Pink says:

    I think all aware, even moderately well informed (read “educated”) folk in this country are aghast that the polls could be so erroneous before last Saturday. At least if progressive-type voters had a clue that Shorten would lose in a big way, they would not be in such shock. Shock because for many causes on the centre-left of people politics this election is a dire setback; regarding reduction of Australia’s CO2 output, ending dependence on coal and gas, gender equity, restoring decent wages conditions to several parts of the work force, raising educational standards and reducing public expenditure on private schools, among many more. In spite of the fact that Labor had several appealing ideas they wished to initiate on behalf of the middle and lower middle class demographic, and somewhat for the lowest of earners/welfare dependents. Sure, Bill is no star performer on media, but watching the stagey dumb and dumber antics of Scomo made me cringe. Yet it seems many voters lapped up that folksy, matey nonsense he faked everywhere he visited. And I agree with several of the above contributions, there is an alarming level of simplistic (dumb?) thinking ( with lack of English language involved here too) that makes so many adults ill-fitted to decide on the best people to govern them. Democracy can never work if large numbers of the public come to the polls with poor grasp of what is being offered by politicians. Strong iiteracy and to critical skills are absolute musts if elections are to be meaningful.

    • admin says:

      Russell,
      We are following the US path of neoliberal economics. If you make the working and middle classes so desperate for a job that they will do anything to get one and be grateful for it, they will not have time or the ability to contemplate the wisdom of political policies.

Leave a Reply