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Friday, 19 December 2014

So much for Christmas cheer

So much for Christmas cheer

Under the Abbott government, Australia is now a cruel,
mercenary and pessimistic country. Author Jennifer Brassel reflects on
the battered psyche of the once 'Lucky Country' and urges us all to
embrace the true 'spirit of Christmas'.

I'M NOT religious and never have been. Christmas in our house was
about family getting together, even if only once a year, exchanging
gifts, laughter, and of course, eating and drinking too much.

In the world I grew up in the outer western suburbs of Sydney, we
didn’t have a lot but we still thought we were lucky. After all, all our
lives we were told that this was the ‘Lucky Country’ and we appreciated
the good fortune that such a credo stood for.

What the term ‘Lucky Country’ meant might have been different for
each person, but on the whole we thought nobody starved and there was
help available for everyone if they really needed it. And that we had

Each of us had an opportunity to make a great life. Naive perhaps,
but on the whole Australians were always generous people. It was country
I was proud of.

And indeed I was lucky. I got to attend university, the first in my
family to have that privilege, during the so-called ‘free university’
period that Whitlam began. I also had a lot of opportunities throughout
the years, as did other members of my family, and if we grabbed those
opportunities, worked hard, we made something of ourselves.

We could dare to dream of a rewarding and prosperous future.

(image courtesy of John Graham)

In a way, that is what makes me so sad about the Australia we now
live in. No longer can we say we’re the ‘Lucky Country’. In many ways
we’ve become a cruel country. A mercenary country. A pessimistic

Recent government policy measures don’t draw on that reserve of
positive humanity that I grew up feeling. Most are downright mean. From
asylum seeker policy to education policy, to employment policy and
climate change denial, I see a country veering sharply away from
inclusiveness and opportunity, to a place of exclusion and lack of
innovative thinking.

Instead of sending a price signal to polluters to stop polluting and
halt the quickening march to planetary destruction, this government
wants to send price signals to the ill so they won’t seek help. Such a
short-sighted, skewed set of priorities simply boggles the mind and
certainly doesn’t pass any ‘Christmas Spirit’ test.

I remember some years ago, the then Opposition screeching at the
government that they are miserly and should raise the aged pension
immediately. Yet the current government is intent on reducing the
pension by stealth and eating away at that needed rise. Nope — no
Christmas cheer there either.

Perhaps the most saddening result of this government’s policies is
the lack of hope in our youth. Youth unemployment is growing
exponentially, and yet our government wants to save its dollars by
denying any unemployment benefit for the first six months.

I presume this is in the hope that family will pick up the slack, but
the hopelessness this existence creates will likely lead to
progressively more youth suicide. And at the same time the government is
closing down channels for training and education, locking in a
generation of under achievers and welfare recipients.

Fr Bower's sledging of Abbott's anti-humanitarian policies have gone viral thanks to Facebook & Twitter 

And now, the most recent ‘policy triumph’, the new asylum seeker laws
leave me sick to my stomach. Our current government is stacked with
religious types, from ‘happy clappers’ to Opus Dei yet NONE show a shred
of the humanity their doctrines espouse. The hypocrisy is staggering
and I thank the universe I’m an atheist and not subject to the
contradictory doctrine of absolution that allows these people in power
to set aside their consciences whenever they deem it convenient.

This asylum seekers policy comes at the end of some seven years
well-orchestrated use of media (I don’t say manipulation because I
believe it has been with most outlets’ acquiescence), designed to
stimulate all the worst aspects of human nature. Headlines in the
Murdoch press, especially, have played on bigotry, greed, and the
downright selfishness of pockets of our community. As well there has
been a deliberate censoring of any positive, progressive and innovative
information that would help the community to be better informed about
issues. Christmas cheer? Bah, humbug!

If I were religious, what would I pray
for this Christmas? I’d pray that the community opens its eyes to how
we’ve been manipulated. How our apathy has allowed black to become
white. I’d pray that we’d understand how destructive this government has
been to our way of life. That we’d find a way back to the principles
that made us the ‘Lucky Country’ so that maybe I could again be proud to
call Australia home.

She won’t be right, mate. No it won’t. Not until we all remember the true ‘spirit of Christmas’.

Jennifer blogs at

(image by John Graham)

Buy John Graham originals from IA's online store.

Creative Commons Licence

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License

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