Let me start by saying I’m a big fan. You can file this letter under fan-mail if you like, but as you can see, since it’s an Open Letter, it clearly has a much larger purpose than patting you on the back. The reason for my letter is that I wanted to let you know about a huge problem Australians like me are currently having to deal with. This problem is our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and his blatant predilection for making political decisions in the interest of his corporate mates, while stomping on the interests of working Australians.
Today you published a brilliant article about the state of politics in the UK, which started with this cracker of a first paragraph:
“It’s the reason for the collapse of democratic choice. It’s the source of our growing disillusionment with politics. It’s the great unmentionable. Corporate power. The media will scarcely whisper its name. It is howlingly absent from parliamentary debates. Until we name it and confront it, politics is a waste of time.”
Corporate power. I couldn’t agree with you more that corporate power is a scourge on democracy. It’s hard to know where to start to explain just how bad things have got under our very new Abbott government. But the following information might give you a good starting point to understand the outrageous advantage our new Prime Minister is giving corporations. One of Abbott’s first acts in office has been to establish a ‘Commission of Audit’. The ‘Commission of Audit’ is Liberal government speak for ‘making it look like we’ve consulted and analysed better ways to cut government funding for government programs, services and infrastructure, when really our plan is just to slash and burn without any thought for the outcomes on the community’. Or, shorter, the ‘Commission of Audit’ is code for ‘justifying our small government ideals’. If it’s not bad enough that Abbott is pretending to cut government spending through a responsible process when in actual fact the very act of cutting government spending is an irresponsible process, the extra outrage is really too much to bare. Wait for it George, because I can just tell you are going to be as outraged as I am. Who do you think Abbott has chosen to chair the five person panel carrying out this Commission of Audit? Who has he given this crucial job, the outcomes of which will impact harshly on every Australian earning yearly just a small fraction of what the corporate interests earn every day? Yep, you’ve got it. Tony Shepherd. President of the Business Council of Australia. A lobby group for business. Australia’s Liberal Prime Minister has handed over responsibility for deciding how tax-payer funds are distributed, to big business. I can completely understand that you’re pissed off with your UK government for obviously being influenced by big business, so imagine how you would feel if you were me, and your leader was actually handing over power directly to corporate interests. It’s a bloody outrage!
But, I’m sorry to say, this is just the tip of the iceberg. There is more outrage to come. I know you know all about how evil Rupert Murdoch is, and like me, you probably wouldn’t trust this man to feed your cat for the weekend, let alone trust him to decide who should be Prime Minister. But have you heard what Abbott is doing for Murdoch, his buddy, who conveniently and corruptly used his media empire to campaign on Abbott’s behalf throughout the election? Did you know that our previous Labor government had already started rolling out a National Broadband Network (NBN), which would finally bring Australia equal to European and American internet infrastructure? This NBN was not only crucial for the economic productivity and competitiveness of Australian businesses, but also of great benefit to households, especially those in rural areas, as it provided new access to education, health and community involvement via home computers. I can hear you thinking – surely Murdoch and his buddy Abbott would have no problem with Australia moving out of the backwater and into the twenty first century via a high speed NBN? Well, yes and no. You see, Murdoch couldn’t allow Labor’s NBN to be rolled out to households as it would give Australians improved access to internet TV via companies like Netflix. And the last thing Murdoch wants is a competitor to his Foxtel Pay-TV network. So Abbott is working to destroy the Labor NBN, and is instead building a not-super-fast broadband network only available to companies, and not available to households at all (unless you can afford a huge cost to connect. A new type of haves and have-nots). All this for his buddy Murdoch. For Murdoch’s corporate interests.
As you are learning George, Abbott is very selective about which corporate interests he is interested in helping. For example, you would think he would be all for innovation and scientific advancement to grow the capability of Australian companies, to grow their capacity to contribute to the economy, which is his number one concern. But Abbott isn’t if for innovation if this innovation happens to be in the field of renewable energy. Because this entire field of endeavor is very inconvenient to Abbott’s buddies in the coal industry, who provide much support to Abbott’s election campaign fund. So Abbott cuts funding to renewable energy and has also recently slashed funding to the CSIRO, Australia’s scientific research powerhouse. Of course, Abbott is no friend of science, if by science you are talking about people who believe climate change is caused by anthropogenic activities.
Speaking of climate change, another of Abbott’s best buddies is the ludicrously wealthy mining magnate Gina Rinehart, who makes billions by mining iron ore. Apparently Rinehart is deeply angered by the idea that her company should have to contribute compensation to the community for the pollution she spews into our atmosphere via her profit-making activities. So Abbott is hoping to appease Rinehart’s anger by killing the Carbon Price. Wouldn’t it be nice to have such helpful friends?
And speaking of Rinehart’s profit-making activities, you might also be interested to hear that the Labor government introduced a super-profits tax for mining companies, to try to recoup some of the value from the sale of natural resources to be shared with all Australians, rather than it being spent on Rinehart’s endless court battles with her children over, you guessed it, money. But no, the Mining Tax deletion was also high up on Abbott’s Rinehart inspired agenda. He sure does know how to look after his mates, who are very agreeable to providing campaign funds to support his election campaign.
In conclusion, in defence of the Australian Labor Party, who could definitely do with someone defending them once in a while, I would like you to know that our previous Labor government were trying to fight corporate interests, exactly as you would like a political party to stand up and do. The Rudd and Gillard governments definitely were not a waste of time. They wanted the NBN to be for all Australians, but Abbott has said no. Labor wanted Australia to do our bit to reduce carbon emissions via the Carbon Price, but Abbott has said no. And Labor wanted to redistribute the wealth accumulated by greedy corporate interests through the sale of Australian natural resources, but Abbott has said no. And now Abbott is handing power to the very same people who helped him to produce the political policies to benefit themselves. It’s enough to make me sick George. I just thought you should know what’s going on down here. And the last thing that is going to help is if we give up and let them have what they want (and by the way Russell Brand, not voting is not an option in Australia, thankfully).
Finally George, I’m glad you’ve said you’re not giving up yet. Because neither am I.