Morrison Government takes fearmongering to another level

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(Meme via @JoanBloggs)

It was just another week of lies from the Morrison Government, kickstarted this week by Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

There he was, straight-faced, telling Barrie Cassidy on Insiders that greenhouse gas emissions were falling. Cassidy kept on producing facts that showed that contrary to Taylor’s claims, emissions had actually increased over the previous 12 months.  

Looking at the recently released update of Australia’s national greenhouse gas inventory – seasonally adjusted – emissions did drop 1.4% in the September quarter, compared to the previous quarter.

But a quarter is not the year. For the year to September, emissions went up 0.9%. Cassidy was right. And the quarter that Taylor relies on is possibly an outlier,  thanks mainly to a big drop in emissions from the electricity sector, built on a drop in the supply of brown coal by about 12.3%.

Emissions will continue to rise. We will not even meet our pathetic Paris targets.

The inadequacies of that agreement and Australia cooking the books may explain why one member of the Government, former PM Tony Abbott – the man who told us climate change is crap in 2009 and who as PM did nothing to address it – now supports the Paris Agreement.

From June 2017, he had been arguing openly for a withdrawal from the Agreement. Now Abbott has changed his mind. Australia should stay in.

According to Abbott, the backflip has nothing to do with the fact that the liberal (and former Liberal) Zali Steggall is running a strong campaign against him in his seat of Warringah — one that is attracting lots of Liberal voters disillusioned with the conservatives’ lack of action on climate change. Absolutely nothing to do with that.

Then there was the Prime Minister’s Christmas Island tour of lies. The unspoken truth is that the Australian Government runs concentration camps.

In response to the Medevac Bill, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton lied:

"I don't want to see Australians who are in waiting lines at public hospitals kicked off those waiting lines because people from Nauru and Manus are now going to access those health services.” 

There are about 1,300 public and private hospitals in Australia, with over 94,000 beds. A small number of asylum seekers and refugees – made sick by our illegal imprisonment of innocent people – is not going to threaten our health system. We could easily care for 70 sick refugees and asylum seekers. We could easily care for 700 sick refugees and asylum seekers.

Dutton also lied about refugees and housing:

"I don't want to see Australians who are on waiting lists for housing, or already occupying housing, being kicked out of that housing because of people arriving off Manus and Nauru. It's not fair ... these people are conning us.’"

Morrison has repeated these lies.

Nobody will be kicked out. Nobody will be waiting longer than the already interminable wait times for access to public housing. A few sick refugees and asylum seekers, who are being sent to Christmas Island by this heartless Government, remember, will have no impact on public housing. None. Neoliberal governments and their privatisations are the enemy of public housing, not refugees.

As Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese told Today:

"All the Government's got left is a fear campaign because they don't have a positive agenda for governing this country."

Exactly. Their favourite is the rhetoric about boats, border protection, people smugglers and asylum seekers, because they think these particular lies engender vote winning fear.

As Libby Hill in Adelaide Advertiser asks:

‘So before the election is called, can we collectively take a moment to finally call bullsh*t on these scare campaigns?’

I hope so but fear not. It has worked so well in the past. However, unlike previous years, the economy is not a winner for the Government. So they lie even more and try to frighten us, even more, to vote for them.

A government that wins re-election on the basis of lies and fears is not a legitimate government, and soon its lies and fear campaigns will switch to their real enemy — workers.

This explains the Government's lies about being better economic managers. Morrison began warning of a recession if Labor were elected. Lo and behold, the Government itself has managed to deliver us a per capita recession. With the Government’s proposed cuts to immigration, this recession may worsen.

The figures showed that growth was only 0.2% in the December quarter, on top of just 0.3% in the September quarter. Annual growth is about 2.3%. Government formulations are based on growth of over 3%.

Former Liberal leader John Hewson says the real figures mean

‘… the Morrison Government now has a real problem in that its economic narrative is simply not reflecting the lived experience of most Australians.’

On top of that, we have the Government creating fear by misleading us about Labor’s proposed tax reforms to negative gearing, capital gains and franking credit refunds. These changes, by and large, will hit the top ten or 20% of wealthy people in society.

For example, the Government claimed that Treasury advised Labor’s negative gearing changes would cut housing prices. The reality is Treasury gave no such advice. The Government lied.

At 31 January 2019, housing prices in the previous year had fallen by 9.7% in Sydney and 8.3% in Melbourne. They will continue to fall. These falls have nothing to do with the Labor Party. After all, it is the conservatives who have been in Government since 2013.

Sometimes the Government lets the truth slip out. Even then, the truth is built on a lie.

As part of an International Women’s Day address, our boys own club Prime Minister said:

"We want to see women rise. But we don't want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse."

That explains the truth of Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer’s comments that the Liberals are widely regarded as homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers’. It is built on the lie that men are superior, expressed by the reality that only 22% or 18 of the 82 Liberal senators and members are female — a figure and percentage very likely to fall even lower after the coming election. It is not about merit, it is about misogyny.

Sometimes they tell the truth about the economy too. Finance Minister Mathias Cormann described falling or stagnating wages as "a deliberate design feature of our economic architecture’". This truth is built on the lie that low wages equals higher levels of employment. It is part of the lie of neoliberal trickle-down economics. The more profit big business makes the better off we will all be.

Our big four banks have been the most profitable banks globally for the last four or five years, pipped only by the Canadian banks last year. As the Banking Royal Commission has shown so clearly, this profit is built on cheating and lying. Shovelling more money into the banks does not improve our lives or our wages. The finance industry remains fairly badly paid and the gender pay gap there, at over 30%, is huge in comparison to other industries.

Our living standards are falling for the first time in decades. As Cormann has confirmed, this is part of their strategy to make the bosses richer, at our expense. It is what gives life to Opposition Leader Bill Shorten’s declaration that the election will be a referendum on wages.

Labor’s commitment to introducing a living wage for workers has already frightened the bosses. A living wage threatens profits. Think about that. What greater indictment of capitalism could there be?

The strategy of this Government is simple. When in trouble, lie. The scarier the lie, the better.

Let’s hope that after almost six years of lies, untruths, misrepresentations, falsehoods, prevarications and canards, and now falling living standards, we see through them.

You can follow Canberra correspondent John Passant on Twitter @JohnPassant. Signed copies of John's newly released second book of poetry, 'Whose Broken is this? and other poems', are available for purchase from the IA store HERE.

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