I feel that if progressive Australians are ever going to come to terms with what happened on September 7 2013, we’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that the Liberal National Coalition are the government that the people of Australia want. And if we’re going to come to terms with this, I think we need to understand why on earth it is that people want Abbott to lead this country. I have lost many hours of sleep trying to work out what on earth is wrong with voting-age Australians for them to choose this complete and utter imbecile and intellectual nobody as the person who they want to make the most important decisions on behalf of all of us. More accurately, we have learnt that this person will not make decisions as the Prime Minister of Australia. Rather, he will float ideas and then judge the reaction on a narrow criteria of how pissed off influential people are, before deciding whether such an idea will be culled or snuck in a bit later when everyone has forgotten about it.
Anyway, yesterday when I was driving to work, I got a convincing insight into how this appalling outcome came to be. This is just one example, but I feel it is representative of a much larger whole. I was listening to ABC Radio National when Geraldine Doogue was interviewing Terry O’Brien, Managing Director of frozen food processing company, Simplot Australia. Geraldine was discussing with Terry the challenges the Australian arm of this American owned multi-national company are facing in remaining viable in the Australian market, with considerable cost pressures compared to cheaper alternatives that can be imported from overseas. You know, in places where they pay people considerably less than a dollar a day and where these people live in poverty. As one of the last frozen vegetable processing companies in Australia, Simplot Australia is a large employer and presumably the government, any government, would not like to see them disappear. A bit like Holden and Ford’s manufacturing businesses in Australia? Or maybe not. Abbott’s not finished floating on this one.
At the end of the interview, as the discussion centered around the actions Simplot Australia were taking to modernise their plant, to lower costs and to remain competitive, Geraldine asked:
“Well, how much do you need government here? I notice that the Federal Industry Minister, Ian McFarlane, who’s a bit busy lately defending industries, has said recently everyone will be involved in making this plant sustainable, but there’s no cash on the table yet. And the Manufacturing Workers Union representative John Short says the previous Federal Labor government pledged $15 million, and he wants the new government to match this. What are you hearing?”
To which Terry replied:
“I’m hearing exactly what you said. The Federal government, the new Federal government hasn’t been inclined towards putting money up. And quite frankly, we can live with that, if they deliver on their election pledge of things like rolling back the Carbon Tax, which certainly hurts us a bit. If they can look at the regulation. In the food industry regulation costs us an absolute squillion dollars and there’s a lot of regulation that’s really there for its own sake and not really adding any value…”
And then Geraldine said:
“But they can’t roll it back just for you, can they?”
Then Terry replied, with the clincher:
“No, but the sort of things they’re talking about doing will benefit us. And then on top of that, their catch call is ‘open for business’, you know, and if they can get a more business friendly environment going, that will benefit us.”
To summarise, the Labor government, baddy baddy bad for business, were putting money on the table to help the profit-making, American capitalist owned corporation modernise their facilities, to make them more efficient, so they wouldn’t pull out of Australia and cancel thousands of Australian jobs in the process. Labor were looking out for workers. But the Managing Director of this company doesn’t need this Labor government funding, as long as he doesn’t have to account for the pollution his company spews into our environment, contributing to climate change which is not a sustainable future (especially for vegetable growing). And he doesn’t need this Labor government funding as long as he doesn’t have to worry about regulations that we all know are not there just to give public servants something to do between twiddling their thumbs, but are actually there so that the food that Australians buy is safe and the working environment the workers of this company produce this food in is safe. Bad regulation, bad! Oh, and don’t forget the ‘catch call’ of ‘open for business’. Yes, this Managing Director really did say ‘catch call’. And he really did imply that this ‘catch call’ made him feel more positive about the future of his job, even if there is no actual government action arising from this catch call, when in fact the baddy baddy bad Labor government was offering investment to help the company, so not to see generations of the manufacturing workers on unemployment benefits for the rest of their lives, and so not to see the resulting community deterioration that comes from generations of unemployed.
To summarise even more concisely – it was big business, men like Terry O’Brien and those in the electorate who believe people like Terry O’Brien when they say ‘catch calls’ like ‘open for business’ are going to make their lives easier, and to make their businesses richer, and to make them individually richer, who brought about the Abbott victory. No care for the environment. No care for the level or regulation that is sensible and makes Australia a first world country. No care for the fact that they are using three word slogans to justify the biggest fuck up this country has ever democratically elected. It’s just the vibe. And if you weren’t depressed enough by this revelation, here is a line from Simplot Australia’s Sustainability Report 2012:
“We are committed to delivering lower emissions through using energy more efficiently, the installation of a cogeneration plant together with other improvements in refrigeration and efficient lighting.”
Presumably this commitment to delivering lower emissions is only a value of the company if it doesn’t cost them anything. Or was this just included to appease prospective investors and customers, who might by some chance have a social conscience? Ok. I think I finally get it.Follow @Vic_Rollison