Just like the US taxpayer is currently paying for a refurbishment to the fence along their southern border, Australians are paying for the erection of a huge fence around federal Parliament House1. This new Parliament House opened almost in time for the bicentennial in 1988.
The idea of the Romaldo Giurgola’s2 design was that the populace can walk across the top of the building in a symbolic display of the power of the people over their elected representatives. Now, under the guise of protecting the place from terrorism, in addition to the vehicle crash barriers, they are now erecting a fence. If these politicians were worth their salt they would not have caved into terrorism out of fear for their skins.
At the same time as the fence is going up, the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs has moved its shopfront into the Centrelink shopfront, much to the annoyance of veterans3. Of veterans on the DVA books (some 148,000), about 30% received some form of mental health assistance. They are prone to anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. They are also more likely to suffer from alcoholism and substance abuse4,5. And this doesn’t include the physical injuries, often severe, that they sometimes suffer when in harm’s way. Disgracefully, some have even been left homeless6, apparently discarded by the system once they have served their nation.
This is symptomatic of this government’s disdain for everybody but themselves and their donors. Veterans of the armed forces have put their lives on the line for this nation, and despite being ready to serve wherever federal politicians decide to send them, again they are being treated just like the rest of us. In my job, the worst thing that could have ever happened to me was tripping on the stairs, or getting the odd paper cut. Unlike me, these men and women were sometimes targeted by people who were trying to maim or kill them. The least our politicians could do is to treat them with the respect they deserve, not just as another member of the population in need of a hand (or as our politicians see it; a handout), for they are more courageous than most of our vacuous, insipid politicians could ever be.