Monday 20th of October 2014

to dream of mediocrity .....

to dream of mediocrity .....

Beyond the day-to-day chaos of gaffes and senate negotiations, a picture is emerging of Abbott's Australia, one year old this Sunday. One of the least ambiguous elements is a sustained assault on those at the lower end of the income and wealth scales. This week's deal on superannuation is merely the latest in a long list of changes which adversely affect poorer people the most. The government justifies such changes by claiming they're necessary to fix the budget, but that simply doesn't hold up. By jettisoning taxes on mining and other profitable industries, the government has actually added billions to the budget deficit - though it's still one of the lowest of all OECD countries. Paul Keating yesterday declared the superannuation freeze a "wilful sabotage of the nation's universal savings scheme", at the same time drawing attention to Shorten Labor's failure to cut through with any alternative national vision.

The other of the least ambiguous elements of Abbott's Australia is a complete lack of will on climate change. After expressing a number of different positions while in opposition, Abbott now says he takes climate change seriously, but his actions belie his words. Against the global trend, Australia has ended its carbon pricing scheme - which is already having a major impact on carbon dioxide emissions - and thrown its renewables energy industry into turmoil. As Abbott celebrated National Flag Day yesterday (and largely ignored Indigenous Literacy Day) among his political heroes, it was difficult not to draw conclusions about Abbott's preference for a "knights and dames" past over a low-carbon future.

As ordinary economic numbers continue to roll in - the unemployment rate is now the highest it's been for over a decade, and per capita income fell for the second consecutive year - observers are wondering what the concrete plan is for jobs and growth beyond Joe Hockey's ideologically-driven effort to slash social security spending. Meanwhile Abbott's Australia is building its military image, first against boats, now in the Middle East and eastern Ukraine.