No love in the Abbott Government's tough - - The Australian Independent Media Network
With the government claiming that their budget has been one of necessary tough love, Jennifer Wilson points out that there is extraordinary amount of ‘tough’ in it, but certainly no ‘love’.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Treasurer Joe Hockey
have taken to describing their budgetary cruelty as an act of “tough
love” for which we may well rail against them in the present, but will
respect them for in the years ahead, presumably when we can see how
their tough love has achieved the goal of all tough love, that is to
bring the poor amongst us to their senses and force them to live
non-vulnerable, standing-on-their-own-two-feet lives, or die.
Tough love is a
phrase usually associated with advice given to parents of drug-addicted
offspring: refuse support in order to achieve a drug-free outcome. It
demands that one have sufficient strength to withdraw all assistance
that might enable the addict to continue on their self-destructive path.
It requires the stamina to watch another spiral into an abject
desolation and marginalisation that is allegedly entirely his or her own
doing, and in which, the theory would have it, the addict will hit
their own personal bottom line and in so doing begin the long trip back
to sobriety and a decent life. I have no idea if it works or not.
There is no love in the tough Abbott and Hockey are dealing out to
the vulnerable who will bear the brunt of their withdrawal of government
support. Indeed, it is very telling that Abbott and Hockey appear to
equate (with no evidence whatsoever to support their bigoted
assumptions) economic vulnerability with anti social addictions, and
have set about “curing” the vulnerability by withdrawing already meagre
support in the deranged belief that if you make people starve, they will
stop being vulnerable. Vulnerability is, in the Abbott and Hockey
ideology, a choice, and people must be forced to stop making it by using
the harshest possible methods until they hit their bottom line, and
wake up one morning enlightened, repentant, and ready to get a job.
This government has no interest in equality.
The admirable ethos of the “fair go”, so inimical to what we fondly
think of as our national character, has been mangled beyond recognition
in the first few months of the Abbott incumbency. Instead, we have
Hockey thundering why should you pay for someone else’s education,
completely overlooking the fact that someone else paid for his. We
contribute to the costs of educating others because it benefits all of
us. Educating people gives us the professionals who are absolutely
essential to our daily lives and well-being.
Abbott and his government are in the business of installing a new
regime of truth, one that is foreign to us, a regime that casts fairness
and concern for others in a negative light, a move that is made even
more inexplicable by the Christian affiliations of the PM and his
Treasurer. The marriage of religion and neo liberalism apparently spawns
an extreme of wilful ignorance, and the inevitably cruelty that
accompanies the trait.
In his excellent piece
in The King’s Tribune, Tim Dunlop argues that progressives need to
change the current conversation, that there is little to be gained in
agitating for a change in LNP leadership, or castigating Abbott, pining
for Turnbull or bringing back the ALP in its current configuration. The
Australian ALP appears to be in its own downward spiral, following the
lead of the UK Labour Party, described by George Monbiot in this Guardian piece as
selfishly committed to inequality in its acts of omission, and its
commitment to supporting aspects of the obscene Tory attacks on that
What progressives must do, Dunlop argues, is work from the premise
that we do want a country in which it is possible to offer everyone a
fair crack at a decent life, a premise that will lead us in a very
different direction from that offered by the LNP. The way in which we
might achieve this revolution is by vocalising our resistance to the
government’s imposition of inequality as a way of life in our country,
using protest and withdrawal of labour. Where there is power there is
always resistance, as Foucault noted, and the most powerful form of
resistance available to citizens in situations such as ours is taking to
the streets, as often as we have to, and letting the government know we
are not a people who desire the increased suffering of the already
vulnerable, rather we are a people who will fight for the fair go.
There is no love in the Abbott government’s tough. Much as Abbott and
Hockey seek to portray themselves as men of character who are willing
to risk short-term popularity for long-term gain, the reality is these
men have gone for the jugular of the most vulnerable human beings in our
country. There will be no long-term gain for the vulnerable. There will
be increasing hardship, despair and disintegration. Abbott and Hockey
will deliver us a new underclass, generations of citizens who have never
been given a fair go.
Vulnerable people have never experienced entitlement, that is the
province of the wealthy and comfortable. The age of entitlement is not
over, it thrives. The age of the fair go has come to a sticky end, and
we will all be the poorer for its death.
This article was originally published on Jennifer’s blog No Place For Sheep and has been reproduced with permission.
Also by Jennifer Wilson:
The Budget: All cruelty springs from weakness
Abbott uses society’s vulnerable as means to an ideological end