Looking back: Australia and the world in 2019 - The AIM Network
What will this country be
like after two terms of an Abbott Government, let alone one? Shane
Crocker takes himself to 2019 for a candid (or perhaps prophetic) look
to review the damage.
In this election year of 2019, I take a look at how Australia and the world have been faring.
Tony Abbott was returned as Prime Minister for his second term in
2016. Cabinet changes in the new government include sending David
Johnston and Malcolm Turnbull to the backbench with George Brandis
taking over as Minister for Communications and keeping his portfolio of
Minister for Arts. Scott Morrison is now Attorney General as well as the
head of a super department that combines Immigration and Border
Security, Customs, and Defence, making Senator Brandis the second most
powerful person in the country.
The five years since 2014 have seen some not so fortunate changes to
the government’s ministerial line-up. We lost our Foreign Mister, Julie
Bishop, the same year to mesothelioma. Somehow, when she was working for
law firm Clayton Utz back in the 1990s, she was exposed to asbestos
while defending CSR from compensation claims by asbestos mining workers.
That year was capped off by another in a series of ironic
co-incidences. Former Prime Minister, John Howard, died from massive
blood loss after a car accident in which he was a passenger. The Red
Cross Blood Bank in the city of Sydney did not have enough supplies of
the type of blood that the former PM required, due to drastic funding
cuts to the Red Cross by the Abbott Government as retribution for that
NGO’s criticism of Australia’s refugee policy. The circumstances of Mr
Howard’s demise were even more ironic as when he was Prime Minster he
had a change made to the Australian Public Service Act and banned
Australian government employees from donating blood in work time, a
practice that had endured until then since the First World War.
The second Abbott Government still does not have a Minister for
Science. The Abbott government in 2017 set up a Royal Commission into
the Australian Bureau of Meteorology alleging the bureau had been
exaggerating temperature figures over the last fifty years. Meanwhile
natural disasters including bush fires, storms, tornadoes and tropical
cyclones have been occurring with increasing frequency and ferocity.
In 2017 a high end category 5 typhoon destroyed the city of Darwin.
Two years later the Federal Government has done little in the way of
disaster relief or recovery for the northern city. Treasurer Joe Hockey
has blamed the Gillard Government of 2012 for the lack of funds needed
to repair Darwin to an inhabitable state.
In 2016 a group of government ministers including Minister for
Industry Ian Macfarlane, Minister for Environment Greg Hunt, and
Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce were enjoying a whale watching
cruise in Hervey Bay, Queensland, when a freak tornado struck and their
sightseeing boat sank with the tragic loss of all three. Minister for
Communications and Arts George Brandis called for the sacking of ABC
presenter Jonathan Green when Green pointed out the irony that all three
deceased politicians were climate change deniers. “The ABC are
terrorists!” exclaimed an enraged Senator Brandis in Parliament.
The ABC still exists but a Special Commission that included Andrew
Bolt was set up to restructure the national broadcaster. The ABC is now
down to only one national television station, one FM radio station, and
one AM radio station in each region. It still has a significant news
section, albeit vetted by the government, but all of its current affairs
shows including 4 Corners and 7:30 are no longer
running. The new ABC charter also bans the ABC from producing Australian
content. The Triple J radio network was broken up and sold piecemeal to
the various capital city FM radio stations. Due to the ABC’s severe
funding restrictions most of the remote and regional AM radio stations
have closed down. One of the ABC’s most popular television shows, Doctor Who,
has also been taken off the air in Australia. Communications Minister
Brandis said it wasn’t just a matter of cost, he stated that the
popularity of the long running sci-fi classic was taking away market
share from American TV shows.
Ebola has infected over one million people in Africa, killing half a
million people. The death toll from Ebola, so far, includes over two
thousand each in Europe and the United States, and over two hundred in
Australia. Since the $7 Medicare co-payment was introduced (and
increased to $40 due to rising insurance costs) few people can afford to
pay medical bills directly or afford the very high health insurance
premiums which rose to over $10,000 per year since the first Ebola death
Joe Hockey said, “the age of entitlement has long since ended, if you
can’t be bothered looking after your own health insurance don’t expect
government to help you.”
The Ebola crisis has overshadowed another health crisis in Australia.
Since the Federal Government ceased funding tuberculosis (TB)
vaccinations one in three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has
contracted TB with half of those dying from the lung disease. From 2009
the life expectancy of Aboriginal men rose from 69.1 years to 73.7 in
2013, then went back down to 64.1 years from 2013 to 2019. Just as
worrying, life expectancy in Aboriginal women has gone down as well
since the massive shutdown of Aboriginal health programs since 2013.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott still calls himself “Minister for
Treasurer Joe Hockey finally got his dole reform through after the
Palmer United Party (PUP) collapsed when its leader Clive Palmer died
suddenly from a massive heart attack while giving a speech in
Parliament. The remaining PUP members were given special attention to
approve the drastic measures of refusing welfare relief for six months
at a time to people under the age of thirty.
With Australia’s unemployment running at over 15% and at 25% for
under thirties there has been a massive rise in crime and the creation
of a criminal underclass. Those who can afford it live in gated
communities patrolled by private police forces.
The government has effectively re-introduced conscription with many
younger Australians lining up to fight overseas as a way of escaping
Another ABC journalist was sacked for the headline “The Economic Draft is Here”.
The ban on gays and lesbians in the Australian Defence Force was
lifted by Prime Minister Paul Keating in 1992 (the twentieth anniversary
of which was celebrated by Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2012). In
2016 the ban on LGBT members in the ADF was reintroduced. Later that
same year the ban on people excluded from serving in the Australian
military was extended to all Muslims and people born in Muslim
Scott Morrison’s famous 2016 speech, “We are a Christian nation! We
fight for Christian values!” was his first speech in which redefined
what it meant to be a full Australian citizen and was a series of
speeches that paved his way to the leadership.
Australia’s military involvement in Iraq has continued to escalate
over the last five years, with no end in sight. Two years in a row
(2016, 2017) Australian troop losses in combat exceeded five hundred
(500 was the total number of Australian troops killed in the whole of
the Vietnam War). When Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott was
reminded that former Prime Minister Julia Gillard had a crisis of
conscience and came close to breaking down in Parliament when five
Australian servicemen died on her watch in Afghanistan in 2012, he said,
“That just goes to show that leadership of a nation is no job for a
woman. When it comes to making the hard calls, it takes a man. It takes a
man to make those tough decisions and if two thousand or even three
thousand have to make the ultimate sacrifice in a single year it is
worth it to secure freedom. May I remind you that it is exactly one
hundred years ago, in 1916 and 1917, one hundred years since the great
battles of the Great War that the Australian sacrifice was greater”.
At home the military picture is not great either. Since the F/A 18-F
Super Hornets were retired Australia has no front line fighter aircraft
for the first time since before the Second World War. The first F-35
Lightning II fifth generation jet fighter was supposed to arrive in
Australia last year in 2018, and the first squadron, Number 3 Squadron,
was supposed to operational in 2021. However, due to ongoing development
issues, Australia won’t receive its first Lightning IIs until 2022. The
weapons control software and head mounted display system for the
Australian version of the aircraft is still not ready. Also, due to
quality control issues the USAF has priority of supply of the multi-role
stealth fighters. Defence Minister Scott Morrison has blamed the Kevin
Rudd Government of 2013 for “not doing enough to look around for an
alternative strike fighter for Australia when it had the chance”.
The Americans have not had much operational success with their F-35s.
In the five years since the USAF received their first aircraft twenty
have crashed in non-combat incidents. Of these incidents twelve were
caused by software failure and eight crashes were caused by airframe
failure. During a skirmish with the Russian air force over eastern
Ukraine the Americans lost twenty F-35s in one day when they encountered
a squadron of ten advanced Russian Sukhoi Su-35s. Although they
outnumbered the Russian jets two to one all twenty of the American
stealth jets were shot down with no losses of the non-stealth Russian
Back in Australia, the lack of any government commitment to
scientific and industrial research and the conscientious destruction of
Australian manufacturing plus the abandonment of Australian youth has
resulted in staggering unemployment, high cost of living, and high crime
rate. Yet these problems have been increasingly blamed on homosexuals,
Aboriginals, and Muslims. Scott Morrison in his “Second Great Leadership
Speech” has talked about a solution to these problems. A solution which
he says will be a final solution to the Muslim Problem.
Tony Abbott announced his simultaneous retirement from politics with
the date of the 2019 federal election (it was hinted Mr Abbott would not
stand again when, earlier this year, he confirmed his relationship with
his personal assistant, Peta Credlin).
Tomorrow Australia will be voting and Leader of the Coalition and PM
in waiting Scott Morrison has just read his latest speech live on air,
“As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have
the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice.”