There is a crisis of confidence in democracy in Australia. It is a crisis for people and the environment. It is a situation I have been mulling over for quite some time, but has been front and centre since the Abbott government tore down a price on pollution and mounted its all-out assault on renewable energy, the environment and social justice.
It is now clear to me that we can’t prevail on the gravest issues of survival in this century, in an age of rapidly accelerating climate change and growing inequality of wealth and opportunity, until we restore democracy in Australia.
We can march, write letters, make calls, post tweets, and vote, but as long as the rich few can buy the political process, there is little hope of saving the global commons or caring for people. We have to step back from fighting each of these battles as they arise, from being placated by painkilling sops like more inquiries or minor amendments, and instead turn our minds to aggressively treating the disease.
To get our country back, to give ourselves a chance, we need to restore health to our democracy. We need to educate everyone: put it up in lights, just how big business and wealthy individuals use their money and connections to take and retain power.
As a child in the 1960s I used to walk around our dairy farm with my dad and sometimes he would lean on the fence, smoking his pipe, stare across towards Bass Strait and say, ‘things are crook in Tallarook’. As kids we got the gist of it. The world was in a pretty bad way. If he were alive today, he would be saying the same thing about the state of politics in Australia.
The paper bags of cash from property developers to political candidates; the fast tracking of coal mines, gas wells and ports; a coal magnate forming a political party and voting to abolish the mining tax and carbon pollution price; the abandonment of environmental laws and protected areas; banks making mega profits and ripping off customers; mandatory prison sentences for protesters; governments keeping track of everyone’s phone calls; more debt for university students; reduced support for the unemployed; no vision for future employment; higher charges to go to the doctor; delay in getting the pension; and all the while a revolving door between mainstream politicians and the boardrooms of their big business mates.
Dad would have been right, things are crook in Tallarook.
To read my full piece and thoughts on this subject please go to: http://greenagenda.org.au/2015/02/things-are-crook-in-tallarook/