Australians don’t care much for politicians or governments, which seems strange when you look at the incredibly regulated and government controlled society we inhabit. The level of apathy in the average voter is well documented, has been the status quo for decades and no significant change is apparent today. There have been many recommendations to put more into the education system on the topic, to create more civic minded and active citizens; but actions are hard to find. There is a new generation of young adults who are far more ecologically minded and focused on the unsustainable world they are living in. However, they are being more than balanced by the huge baby boomer population, who have failed to provide for the future generations; instead leaving a massive financial debt for their retirement years and even larger environmental debt with climate change.
This apathy and disconnection with politics has meant the majority of Australians do not understand the political system and their only engagement with it is at election times. This means there is no great pressure on politicians to do anything more than appear in public and on the media stating the party slogans repeatedly. Until the people
The Liberal government formed in 2013 has been on a mission to implement the harshest neoliberal policies in the shortest possible time. Their strategy has come directly from the US Republican and UK Conservative party approaches used successfully to destroy their societies since the 80s. A fundamental aspect of the approach to the electorate has had standard features, these are:
Create the appearance of emergency, catastrophe and disaster both real and impending In Australia this has been the ‘economic emergency’ that doesn’t exist. Every external commentator congratulates Australia on its very strong economy and masterful handling of the financial crisis by the Labor government that led us through it without major incident. Establish that only your party has the ability and intelligence to negate this catastrophe to give everybody a better life. The Liberal party routinely claims that sound economic management is ‘in its DNA’ without providing any evidence to support the idea. In fact, there is far more evidence to suggest precisely the reverse with multiple international bodies and economists soundly stating so on numerous occasions. Use this as the reason to impose neoliberal policies on the country as quickly as possible This is disaster capitalism at work as
Election campaigns for the last decade have become a competition to say that one old party will not do what the other is doing. At no point has either stepped forward with a plan that works for the benefit of all Australians and explained it in enough detail for it to be understood. This lack of focus on policy and increased focus on expensive media campaigns that promote slogans has worked to undermine the democratic process more fundamentally than Murdoch’s media stranglehold. We do not need to slip to the profoundly corrupt levels in the USA today where the candidate that raised the most money as a 94% chance of winning the seat in congress. The fact that billionaire Clive Palmer can form a party and win seats in a federal election while barely mentioning what he would do differently to other parties is testament to the power that campaign funding has on the results.
Negative campaigns focusing on how bad the other group is, without actually stating a policy, are undermining the electoral process disastrously. This trend must be reversed.
The combination of Labor adopting an approach of actively concealing policy and intentions, engaging in negative campaigns and adopting
When did Australia embrace neoliberalism and how did this start?
We had resisted the extreme application of neoliberal principles until 2013, now the future is uncertain.
Hawke and Keating introduced a more conservative application of the principles that opened up Australian markets, but also introduced and preserved Medicare. Floated the dollar, but maintained the dole. Gave power to the reserve bank over money, but the government kept control and transparency. Most telling was the reduction of trade tariffs to record lows that began the decline and fall of the manufacturing industry in Australia
John Hewson then presented neoliberal religious dogma to the Australian people clearly and concisely in his Fightback campaign and the people outright rejected it. Hewson lost the unloseable election and sadly handed the reins to Keating who completed the initial slide into neoliberal government.
By the time Keating left in 1996 the reserve bank was completely independent, the pilot’s strike introduced a new era of Labor not supporting unions, mandatory detention for asylum seekers was introduced and the foundation of neoliberal government was firmly in place.
Howard then came on the scene and moved further down the path, introducing GST (it taxes poor and middle income