My Daily Advertiser column for today, 2 January 2018
by ray goodlass
Despite marriage equality finally being achieved, 2017 otherwise not a good year
Though Australia’s belated recognition of marriage equality was a justifiable cause for celebration, the year just past had little else to shout about. Indeed, politically it was a pretty miserable year all round.
Internationally Saudi Arabia and Iran continue their proxy war in Yemen, slaughtering many and killing millions more through war induced cholera or starvation. The Myanmar military seems intent on the ethnic cleansing of the country’s Rohingya population while Aung San Suu Kyi, previously the heroine of progressives just about everywhere, looks the other way.
Speaking of ethnic cleansing, Donald Trump further extended the United States’ support for Greater Israel by recognising Jerusalem as being solely Israel’s capital, at the expense of the indigenous Palestinians, for he was in fact acknowledging Israel’s illegal annexation of Palestinian East Jerusalem, with its vastly expanded boundaries eastward into the West Bank. And just to show two can play at that game, the defeat of IS in Syria has in part resulted in the Assad’s brutal dictatorial regime being confirmed in power, courtesy of Russia’s President Putin.
Here at home the political scene has been messy, to say the least. The Liberals had to contend with sniping from their own back bench (thank you Mr Abbott) and their constantly negative poll trend, while the Nationals ended the year with some spectacular infighting of their own, like a bunch of bulls in a paddock, as the Guardian’s Katherine Murphy memorably put it.
After a year of encouraging opinion polls Labor ended the year by spectacularly underperforming in the Bennelong byelection, no doubt in part due to the Lib/Nats exploitation of the Sam Dastyari mess.
Surely Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Senate stunt of dressing in a full burqa was a real low for Australian politics. It was blatant ‘dog whistle’ designed to appeal to her voters, though perhaps it was more of a ‘fog horn’, so blatant and obviously racist was it.
The Australian Greens also had a spot of bother when the federal party room inexplicably chose to punish Senator Lee Rhiannon for upholding the Greens NSW’s constitutional right to voice that state’s position on Gonski 2.0, a position ultimately found to be spot on when we discovered how much private schools are to profit from Mr Turmbull’s largesse. It was a spat eventually papered over, as was the position of two Greens senators (Ludlum and Waters) being found to be ineligible to sit in Parliament because of just discovered dual citizenship.
The dual citizenship saga is probably the messiest aspect of 2017’s politics, though like many others I’m still waiting for Mr Turnbull to apologise for belittling Senators Ludlum and Waters, given that the Liberal and National party rooms have been found to be awash with dual citizens.
In terms of political achievements, the 1917 outcome is wholly negative, except for marriage equality, that is. Probably the standout was the creation of an American style ‘super ministry’, a massive reorganisation of Australia’s intelligence and security agencies, with Peter Dutton to head a new Home Affairs ministry responsible for ASIO, the AFP, Immigration and Border Security. Even Rupert Murdoch’s usually sycophantic The Australian remarked that it was ‘overstepping the mark’.
This wasn’t the only example of the Americanisation of Australia under the Lib/Nats coalition government. Turnbull’s Gonski 2.0 funding model has privileged private schools over public ones, and his energy policy is hell bent on aping Trump by maintaining the supremacy of coal, as visually illustrated by Treasurer Scott Morrison waving around a lump of coal in the House of Representatives, against all the rules banning the use of props.
Morrison also ended the year by further aping Trump when he called for Australia to follow the US by massively lowering the corporate tax rate, thereby of course benefiting the wealthy.