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Scott Morrison's politics of division

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The Australian Government has fallen into one that encourages divisiveness among its citizens rather than promoting unity, writes Grant Turner.

THE LIBERAL NATIONAL coalition party has been in government for all but six of the last 25 years with the Labor Party in government for the others. During the six years of Labor government, the world was hit with the Global Financial Crisis, something the LNP and the media seem way too keen to overlook, while they maintain the myth of the Liberals being superior managers of our country's finances. Yet, under Labor, Australia came out of the GFC as the world's number one ranked economy.

Since the LNP took government in 2013, our national debt has doubled (it only took six years for the LNP to double our entire accumulated debt since federation) and yet all you'll get from Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is obfuscation and high-speed waffle when questioned on it.

I could write for hours about the millions living under the poverty line and Australia having the near-highest household debt in the world or the underemployed and lack of hours worked. Then there are their boasts about a 5.1 per cent unemployment rate which is untrue as now one hour's work a week counts as being employed.

I could talk about the rorts – #Watergate, #GrassGate, #AngusGate, #SportsRorts – and many others, or the stacking of supposedly independent bodies with their mates allowing them to avoid accountability and scrutiny. There are so many things that could be written about here, but what I see as the most insidious and ongoing evil modus operandi of the Liberal National Party and something that this country lives with to this day — its use of "the politics of division".

In 2001, John Howard, who was behind in the polls leading up to an election, used a boatload of asylum seekers/refugees to set our nation on a path that we have never recovered from. How could this happen?

Here's the abridged version.

Firstly, Howard refused a Norwegian freighter, the MV Tampa, entry into Australian waters after it had picked up over 400 refugees, some who were very sick and onboard a sinking fishing vessel. The captain of the Tampa requested that he take them to nearby Christmas Island as per maritime law, but Howard refused and then threatened the captain of the MV Tampa with a $200,000 fine if he brought them to into Australian waters. Captain Arne Rinnan called Howard's bluff and was then boarded by an Australian special forces group who removed the asylum seekers — sadly, they all eventually ended up on Nauru.

Then another boat with 223 refugees attempted entry into Australian waters to have a special forces group board and attempt to tow it back to Indonesia. The people on board were shattered and some jumped overboard in desperation while others sabotaged the fishing vessel they were on.

These were some of the 50 million displaced and desperate people worldwide at that time fleeing wars and persecution, many people fleeing from wars Australia had participated in. At around this time, Howard realised that there were votes in the demonisation of these people and falsely accused these asylum seekers of throwing their children overboard. He then pixelated their faces in media reports to dehumanise them, all to cause outrage and build hatred towards these desperate people.

This abhorrent episode ended with many official reports condemning the Government and Peter Reith for flat-out fabrication and lies, but the damage had been done and the mindset of many Australians had turned from a nation that once reached out and offered helped to people in desperate situations to one that was now suspicious of all refugees.

Australians had the Howard line "We will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come" ringing in their ears along with the bigoted shrieks of an emboldened and racist Pauline Hanson.

This whole hideous episode heralded the start of creating an enemy to further your political standing.

Howard went on post-9/11 to continue his demonisation of people, branding Muslims as terrorists. He attacked unions with a royal commission into the building industry which he followed up with his WorkChoices policy, tantamount to an attack on working-class people. John Howard set the politics of division into action which continues to this day.

We move onto Tony Abbott, who some have described as John Howard and Bronwyn Bishop's love child. 

I apologise for any lasting mind worms/impressions that that thought may create but if the glove fits, it will be worn.

Abbott and his Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, formulated a plan that was basically to deride and denigrate your opponent and oppose everything that they put forward. It is well documented that Abbott, almost on a daily basis in Parliament, would suspend standing orders to allow vitriolic rants and abuse of Julia Gillard. When in government, he called a royal commission into unions and pink batts with little-to-no result bar the vision of putting ALP MPs and members in a witness box.

His government came up with the "lifters versus leaners" line, which was designed to pit Australian against Australian. Just about every action Abbott carried out during his tenure was divisive and designed to divide sections of Australian society. This modus operandi is now being supercharged by our current PM's actions.

Now we have the disabled labelled as "a burden", the unemployed as "druggie dole bludgers", the elderly (if not wealthy) as 'a drain on the budget' and folk seeking asylum are branded as 'rapists and murderers'. We have his Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, using fear as a tool with his fictitious African gang lies, PM Scott Morrison with his "If you have a go, you will get a go" — implying that if you are unemployed or not wealthy, you are not having a go, therefore your worth is less than others in society.

We have the Deputy PM Michael McCormack decrying the ravings of people he categorised as "pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies" for linking the unprecedented and catastrophic bushfires to climate change.

The Government and its pushing of the Indue card onto welfare recipients (aside from being a huge money-spinner for the LNP and its cohorts) is another disgusting example of the politics of division designed to split Australian society into have and have-nots.

The last election in which the ALP put forward policies that would have gone a long way towards balancing out the huge disparity between the Government's largesse towards the haves as opposed to the have-nots, with its changes to negative gearing and franking credits, had the Government calling it an attack on retirees and mum and dad investors which was completely and utterly untrue, but it did serve to once again divide sections of society.

When Morrison uses the term "quiet Australians" again, this is him trying to reinforce his belief that if you have an opinion that differs from his or call out his government's many shortcomings, you are some sort of troublemaker. I understand why he might dislike Twitter, as it is one place he cannot control. It may have some overly aggressive people on it for sure, but is also a place where many people share and discuss things that are important to them without MSM oligarchs and their agendas. 

Far from being the Christian that invited media into his church to film him praying and far from espousing the values of Christianity, our current Prime Minister thrives on division, spin and lies. This failed marketing man is a danger to all Australians — "divide and conquer" may be a well-worn cliché, but this is exactly what Scotty from Marketing does on a daily basis. A caring government is one that seeks to unite its citizens and work to build a better society for all, sadly we have a PM that seeks to feather his and his mates' nests with his hideous politics of division.

Grant Turner has a strong interest in politics and fairness in society and believes in honest independent media. You can follow him on Twitter @gruntat.

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