Sunday, January 24, 2010

Australia and the blame game

I love Australia and I love Australians; having now spent almost 29 years here I have for nearly all of that time, wished I had spent the other 24 years living in my adopted country instead of existing in the land of my birth.

But as with every good thing, there are things that sometimes stop it from being perfect. One thing that springs readily to mind is our capacity to whine. Not just whine mind you, but to blame the government.

You can be sure that no matter what goes wrong - it is according to the media, talk-back radio, opposition leaders or spokespersons, the fault of either the state or Federal Government. If they can blame both, then aforesaid whiners are positively orgasmic.

Take New South Wales State Opposition Leader Barry O' Farrell for example. Personally I'd prefer you to take him for a ride, (he has been doing that to the people of NSW for years) to anywhere - as long as it's not NSW.

Whatever happens - it's the government's fault - years of Labor neglect and mismanagement, which to be fair is reasonably accurate. But you can not blame the government for everything, which is what O' Farrell, the media and John and Jane Doe, like to do. Sometimes the buck stops with the stupidity of people.

To give you an idea of what I mean, Channel Nine in Sydney has something that for reasons best known to themsleves, they like to call the six o'clock news. Their idea of news is to broadcast shock-horror stories that seem to revolve around motorists allegedly being ripped off by big business, oil companies, petrol stations or of course, the government, police and local "greedy" councils. If you park your car in a no parking zone and cop a ticket - blame the government - doesn't matter which party is in power, they are to blame for you deliberately choosing to break the law. If you look at the actual details closely enough, you will find there is a good reason for the alleged but non-existent rip off.

The other night as their lead news, Channel Nine ran a story about a runaway train. Sounds sensational doesn't it? Except the train was empty and just went a short distance from the sidings without any problem. Never mind Haiti, suicide bombers, corruption in Afghanistan - according to Channel Nine executives an empty train is far more important and gripping and warrants an almost ten minute segment at the beginning of the news.

The incident happened because a railway worker left the bloody brakes off. Probably reading the Daily Telegraph, or listening to talk back hosts Alan Jones or Ray Hadley, the idols of the lost and lonely loser brigade in Sydney. They say Australia is a land built on the wool from the sheeps' back, but their listeners take it a step further and believe in following them.

Enter Barry O' Farrell.

Who did he blame? Not the blue collar thicko responsible for the "accident" but the government. How the Premier of NSW can be responsible for some prat leaving a break off is beyond me, but never let logic get in the way of a good whine about the government and shift blame away from grass-roots voters.

The other group that annoys me are the band-wagon jumpers - especially at election time.

You can tell it is a Federal election year in Australia because the Liberal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, the former "head-kicker" for the Howard government, has jumped on the populist race-wagon. If there is an election and you want extra votes - play the race card. Hit the airwaves and press appealing to talk-back listeners and those who think Thomas Jefferson played in a band and invented the airplane.

Tuesday is Australia Day, (which means 50% of Australian workers will suddenly develop bad backs on Monday). Australia Day is the day the First Fleet arrived, the day the Land's inhabitants realized their way of life would be no more. I am all for Australia Day, but not to celebrate a day the arrival of strangers marked the beginning of the end for the Aboriginals as their lands were stolen and their people killed without a second thought (after all, the Aboriginals were classed as "fauna" and not people, something that persisted for a very long time).

Tony Abbott has used the occasion to bring out the race card and attack migrants. Forgetting that if it wasn't for migrants, projects such as the Snowy River Hydro-Electric scheme could never have been achieved, he questioned the values of migrants.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports Abbott told a fancy dinner, "Migrants would be more popular if minority leaders encouraged them to adopt more mainstream values and abide by the law...the inescapable minimum that we insist upon is obedience to the law,'' Mr. Abbott said. ''It would help to bolster public support for immigration and acceptance of social diversity if more minority leaders were as ready to show to mainstream Australian values the respect they demand of their own.''

Now if he had been talking about politicians, bankers and the dubious business leaders the likes of Tony Abbott and his cronies like to rub shoulders with, then I would agree. Why single out one demographic to call for something we all - including immigrants - want of society? Because it wins votes that's why.

It goes without saying that he used the unfortunate "boat people" to add fuel to the fire and like the populist media, neglected to mention that the rise in the number of asylum seekers is a global phenomenon and not caused solely by government immigration or border security policies.

Australia is a vast land with only 21 million people - so sparsely populated that the "Baby Bonus" was introduced by the Howard government to encourage an increase in the birth rate. As former Treasurer Peter Costello once said, "One for mum, one for dad and one for Australia". Our politicians can be so romantic at times. I am surprised Costello didn't go the whole hog and issue certificates or badges - "We bonked for Australia" (and of course a new plasma TV set).

In other words, we could embrace immigration, not fight it or use it as an election winner driven largely by misinformation. Before Christmas we had industrial terrorists popularly known as trade unionists, stuffing up postal services by going on strike, while a boat load of asylum seekers were languishing off the coast, most of whom would have given their hind teeth to deliver, sort and distribute mail.

I love Australia and Australians should love Australia. However, many of us would do well to remember,that you don't let the seeds spoil your enjoyment of the water melon.

Right, that's my whine over for the day!

Wherever you may be - be safe

Copyright Mike Hitchen Online, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved