Tuesday, 26 February 2013 02:56

We Are A Compassionate Society

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Mr Howard left left us a legacy - a recognition of our belief that we should help each other in times of need. His "Compassionate Society" speech was a landmark which may guide us to our choice in the September 14 election. We should not forget who we are voting for and that for which they truly stand.

In the midst of turmoil over the Liberal National Party coalition Government’s refugee crisis in 2004 PM John Howard made a very firm and truthful statement. While accusations of “children overboard” and rabble rousing “we will decide who comes to our country and the manner in which they come” Mr Howard said “We are a compassionate society”.

This truth is supported by decades of Aussie Mateship as Australians helped each other out of difficult times such as the Great Depression of the 30s, two world wars, droughts, fires and floods. We also celebrated our national bonds together with solidarity. Our workforce banded together in Unions to end the tyrannical stranglehold  of Big Business as it attempted to squeeze every last drop of profit out of the ground and the factories. This mateship made Australia an Economic Powerhouse, as it was known during the 1970-80s years of prosperity and international standing.

When the US lost the Vietnam “Police Action” and thousands of US/Aus collaborators were forced to leave Vietnam in search of safer shores, many chose to head for Australia. Under Mr Malcolm Fraser’s leadership, we accepted refugees as they struggled in leaking boats, and we helped desperate people become workers toward the common wealth of our nation. The Vietnamese, along with other nationals from around the world, such as Italians, Greeks and Germans who had escaped economic desperation in their own  lands, contributed to a wonderful multiculturalism which gave us a great diversity and added greatly to our wealth and living standards as well as our cuisine.

Our compassionate society welcomed change, growth and vitality through renewal and we grew strong and healthy. We wrought a great society which was celebrated during the Labor years of Hawke and Keating.

We are now heading for a vitally important election. We have not faced such a profound choice since the Menzies era when Mr Menzies led a charge against the solidarity of the workforce under the guise of removing the dreaded Red Peril of Communism. As a brief aside, it may be noted that Mr Menzies was the most divisive national leader as he tried to define all those who stood against him, or Big Business, as Communist. Mr Howard benefitted greatly from Mr Menzies example.

On September 14 this year we will be asked to consider the direction our nation will take for a future generation. We will have only two real options, as we are all aware, between the aggressive Big Business representative of Mr Abbott and the LNP coalition, and the more assertive, although some would say submissive, Labor Leader, Ms Gillard.

This morning, on the ABC The Drum website, Peter Lewis and Jackie Woods of Essential Media Communications, presented and analysis of expectations of the community under the influence of these prospective Prime Ministers (http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4539844.html ). We might expect that the economy may thrive under the representation of Mr Abbott, but the practical application of such leadership is believed to be greater hardship to the population in general.

Those surveyed by Lewis and Woods expect that under an Abbott Government Big Business will thrive and that profits will increase, while interest rates, job security and cost of living will be generally worse. It is also expected that  workers rights and conditions will suffer as will the lot of those on Government benefits, such as non-self-funded retirees and those on disability benefits. Does this sound familiar? Shades of the dying days of the Howard Government?

Many of us will recall the shame and revulsion we felt for Mr Howard’s policies. I recognised Mr Howard’s “Compassionate Society” speech with nausea as he advocated the most uncompassionate policy ever launched in Australia – the turning back of refugee boats in the midst of the stormy seas and the drowning of thousands of desperate innocents as a consequence.

There were strong reasons why Mr Howard lost the 2007 election, and his own seat! These reasons remain alive today as Mr Abbott advocates the same principles and many of the same policies.

When it comes to September 14 we must remember the roots of Mr Abbott’s campaign. We must recall that he attempted to induce the support of the Independents with such honeyed phrases as “a kinder, gentler polity” and promises of new hospitals in the Independents’ seats, only to recant and turn viciously upon them after they chose to support Ms Gillard. He stated that he would do anything to gain their support, and when he did not win, became not a leader to hold the Government to account, but to savagely attack at every opportunity. He has shown us that he is quite willing to lie and to make any claim if it will give him power!

Is this the kind of person we want to rule our nation? Do we want a reactionary and savage attack dog to walk the world stage representing us to other nations? Do we want Universities and public schools to suffer severe funding cuts as they  did under Mr Howard? We must also recall that under Mr Abbott's management the Dept of Health suffered its greatest funding cutbacks in Australian history.

There has been progress in education, health and disability funding in the past 5 years. We stand on the verge of a new era of better management of these important departments. For decades we have heard of bitter disputes between federal and state Governments over funding, with one increasing funding, while the other reduces funding. Do we want this to continue?

September 14 may be a long way off as yet. We have much time to make our choice. I do not advocate the return of the Labor Government – I advocate the rejection of an Abbott led Government. I do not support the weakness and losses of Ms Gillards negotiations – but to borrow from Mr Howard, “I reject that” leadership which will destroy our compassionate society in favour of Big Business big profits!

 

 

Read 4285 times Last modified on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 23:47
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