Showing posts with label Eric Abetz. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Eric Abetz. Show all posts

Monday, 22 February 2016

Will the real Liberals please stand up?

Tony Abbott, in his world tour of far right, Christian lobby group speaking engagements, has never seemed more comfortable in his own skin. Free of the need to putty over the wide chasm between his personal beliefs and that of his party, Abbott is looking and sounding more confident than he has in years. Gone is the halting, repetitious speech patterns, designed to slow his mouth from uttering what’s really on his mind and activate instead the soulless three-word slogans. 
Abbott now is the Abbott that was always there lurking beneath the blue ties, the hair rinse and the more latent attempts to buffer away the sharp right edges of his political demeanor. He's become the unabashed poster boy for the conservative right of the Liberal Party which has Malcolm Turnbull on a very tight leash. “Don’t start carping on about the climate change crap again. Stay away from gay marriage and forget about cutting ties to the Mother Country,” say the chorus of this group, comprised of Eric Abetz, Corey Bernardi and Kevin Andrews. Abbott’s not using his demotion to the backbench to snidely undermine Turnbull – he’s out there openly articulating a call to arms to the disaffected in the electorate.
Malcolm Turnbull believes in free markets, free country (a republic) and free choice of an individual to marry whomever he/she pleases. He acknowledges climate change and like a true liberal, believes market forces can solve the problem. 
So who is ‘more Liberal’ – more representative of their party? The problem is, both are it seems, and it’s the fault line that threatens the future of the party. Turnbull appears to be much more aligned to Menzies’ “Liberal Creed”, articulated in 1964. “As the etymology of our name 'Liberal' indicates, we have stood for freedom... We have learned that the right answer is to set the individual free, to aim at equality of opportunity, to protect the individual against oppression…” 
How can you believe in small government, liberty and freedom of enterprise, but not of individuals or country, as the conservative right do? As PM, John Howard extrapolated Menzie’s vision to declare the party “…a broad church”. But it’s like putting pagans and devout Christians together under one roof – the building may resemble a church in structure, but the fundamental elements that make it a church – a place of worship for people of a singular faith – are missing. And someone’s sure to burn it down. 
In the US, Donald Trump is like the Pied Piper, merrily dancing through America’s white, middle class lands playing a tune that has proven surprisingly seductive to a growing majority. In droves they are falling in behind him, this man once dismissed as a joke, now seen as a messiah to the disaffected – the American Dreamers who feel they’re living a nightmare. 
As Abbott warmed up for his speech to the Alliance Defending Freedom group, it’s hard not to think this is all part of a calculated trajectory, one that is fuelled by the disaffected right of the party and stoked by powerful media and conservative right campaigners such as Rupert Murdoch, Alan Jones and others. Whether the end game is a new political party founded on the principles of the conservative right, or a mutiny of Turnbull’s progressive agenda (as has already begun with the gay marriage plebiscite) is yet to be seen. But something’s up. And given Labor is dead in the water, the time for a Liberal revolution may paradoxically be just right.
Turnbull needs to do some soul searching about what his policy mantle will be before this year’s election. Will he allow himself to be straight-jacketed and rendered facile by the far right? Or will he get the bit between his teeth, lead with policies that will deliver real economic and social change for our country, and stand on the platform of true liberalism that champions the freedom of individual, business and country? 
While he’s showed benign support of Abbott’s right to speak at such events like the ADF, Turnbull would do well to keep an eye on his predecessor’s extracurricular backbench activities. In his blatantly self-congratulatory speech during the Margaret Thatcher Lecture last year, Abbott may have hinted at his hitherto unthinkable resurrection. “The lesson of Margaret Thatcher's life is that strong leaders can make a difference; that what's impossible today may be almost inevitable tomorrow.” 
Diana Elliott is a freelance writer. 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Five things to do when you're on Work for the Dole

This week, the Federal Government released details of its expanded Work for the Dole scheme.  Under the proposal, Australians aged under 30 will be required to work 25 hours per week to receive their welfare payments. Those aged between 31 and 49 will have to work 15 hours and the over 50s can undertake an “approved activity” for 15 hours a week, which probably doesn’t include lawn bowls at the local RSL.

Employment Minister Eric Abetz has explained the policy and how a person might benefit from it in simple terms. Two job applications a day – one in the morning, one in the afternoon. Did you hear there’s a shortage of bricklayers in Melbourne? A spot of community work (averaging five hours a day) sandwiched in the middle. And voila! A young person has fulfilled their ‘mutual obligation’ for the dole cheque that they can access six months from now. In the meantime, there are a few constructive things they could be doing. Let’s walk through those options.

1. Volunteer to help small businesses sort and file rubbish job applications.
“The small business person might be having a lousy day and no customers are coming in, but she’ll be getting job-seekers,” said Peter Strong of the Council of Small Business Australia, nailing the problems confronting the SME sector. Job seeking is all about solving the employer’s problem, not yours. So forget pretending you’ve got barista skills and instead, tell the small business proprietor that you understand their frustration at having to read another bloody CV from a hopeless case while they’re standing around waiting for customers to walk in. Say you’ll take care of that for them. Then set up a booth beside the deli counter and practice saying, “Thank you. I’ll be sure to be in touch should a suitable position become available.” Make sure you have a baseball bat at the ready. Given the stampede expected by small businesses, that should take care of about four of your five daily hours of ‘work’ time.

2. Help a pollie get that book out of them. We know they’ve all got a trilogy in them (Aspiring Me, My Time As Leader, After They Ditched Me The Bastards). An unexamined life is not worth living and a career in politics is worth zip if you don’t write a book about it. But politicians are short on time, so why not offer to shadow one for a few months, take voluminous notes and show you can multitask by filing their Cabcharge receipts into neat bundles. “Wedding – Friend. Wedding – Attended only to spruik policies. Wedding – shitfaced, can’t remember whose it was.”

3. Get yourself a shovel and gardening gloves and take some Direct Action. Greg Hunt’s Direct Action climate policy involves planting 20 million trees to drink in the stinking rotten carbon coming out of the brown coal industry. So far, we haven’t seen so much as a seedling from this policy. But I think it’s fair to say, the greening of Australia will have to start soon, so watch a few episodes of Backyard Blitz and start practicing your speed-planting skills by snipping off a few Agapanthus stems from the neighbourhood and transplant them into pots. Take these into Centrelink as evidence of your transferable skills.

4. Hold up the cue cards for Bill Shorten. This isn’t as daunting as it seems. Just grab two pieces of cardboard – either side of the box you sleep in will do – and in big black texta, write “Inside voice” and on the other, “Ranty, union-days, indignant voice”.  Just make sure you hold up the right one at the right time. This will be a real confidence boost, because whoever’s doing the job now keeps stuffing them up.

5. Develop an App. Applying for jobs is so, like pre-GFC. Don’t wait for the government to create a whole new industry to replace the manufacturing, retail and green energy sectors they’ve decimated, get cracking on making your own! Start with low hanging fruit, such as an App modelled on pollie speak that will help you and your fellow job seekers respond to unwanted questions about your employment status. Pre-loaded with impenetrable scripts from expensive consultants, it could go something like this:

Q: Why have you been out of work for 4 years?
A: That’s an operational issue.
Q: Why are you interested in this position?
A: I’m not a Job Snob. 
Q: Can you describe your previous role? 
A: Yes. It was called, Operation Sovereign Bong Smoking Hour. It was necessary to protect the one hour a day I had for non-mutual-obligation activities from further incursions. 
There might not be any jobs, but there’s a lot of work to be done. So pull up your socks and get cracking.

Diana Elliott is a freelance writer.