Tracking Tony Abbott’s trail of wreckage

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Tony Abbott has been in power since 7 September 2013; from that moment, he and his government have broken promises and caused chaos, hurting Australians and damaging our economy and international reputation, writes Sally McManus.

Each separate item below has a link to a source. Broken promises appear in bold, as well as in a separate list at the end.

The List 

74. Fails to contradict or take any action against a member of his government, Senator Cory Bernardi, who makes divisive statements about: abortion, “non-traditional" families and their children, same sex couples, couples who use IVF and calls for parts of WorkChoices to be reintroduced — 6 January 2014.

73. Devastates Australia’s contribution to overseas aid by cutting $4.5 billion from the budget, causing vital programs supporting those in extreme poverty in our region to collapse — 1 January 2014.

72. Drastically reduces tax breaks for small business and fails to publicise the move — 1 January 2014.

71. Refuses to support jobs at SPC at the cost of hundreds of jobs — 27 December 2013. 

70. Appoints Tim Wilson, a Liberal Party member and policy director of right-wing “think tank” the Institute of Public Affairs to the position of commissioner at the Human Rights Commission, even though the IPA had been arguing for the Commission to be abolished — 23 December 2013.

69. Approves private health fund premium increases of an average 6.2 per cent a year — 23 December 2013.

68. Fails to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean — 23 December 2013.

67. Requests the delisting of World Heritage status for Tasmanian forests — 21 December 2013. 

66. Scraps the Home Energy Saver Scheme which helps struggling low income households cut their electricity bills — 17 December 2013.

65. Defunds the Public Interest Advocacy Centre whose objectives are to work for a fair, just and democratic society by taking up legal cases public interest issues — 17 December 2013.

64. Defunds the Environmental Defenders Office, which is a network of community legal centres providing free advice on environmental law — 17 December 2013.

63. Axes funding for animal welfare — 17 December 2013.

62. Abolishes the AusAID graduate program costing 38 jobs — 17 December 2013.

61. Cuts Indigenous legal services by $13.4 million. This includes $3.5 million from front line domestic violence support services, defunding the National legal service and abolishing all policy and law reform positions across the country — 17 December 2013.

60. Abolishes the position of co-ordinator-general for remote indigenous services — 17 December 2013.

59. Changes name of NDIS “launch sites” to “trial sites” and flags cuts to funding  17 December 2013.

58. Abolishes the National Office for Live Music along with the live music ambassadors — 17 December 2013.

57. Weakened the ministerial code of conduct to let ministers keep shares in companies — 16 December 2013.

56. Disbands the independent Immigration Health Advisory Group for asylum seekers — 16 December 2013.

55. Starts dismantling Australia’s world leading marine protection system — 13 December 2013.

54. Scraps the COAG Standing Council on Environment and Water — 13 December 2013.

53. Breaks its NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016  12 December 2013.

52. Overturns the “critically endangered” listing of the Murray Darling Basin — 11 December 2013.

51. Dares Holden to leave Australia, leading to Holden announcing closure of Australian manufacturing operations, which will cost Australian workers 50,000 jobs — 11 December 2013. 

50. Approves Clive Palmer’s mega coal mine in the Galilee Basin, which opponents say will severely damage the Great Barrier Reef — 11 December 2013.

49. Demands that the few childcare workers who got pay rises “hand them back” — 10 December 2013.

48. Approves the largest coal port in the world in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area — 10 December 2013. 

47. Removes the community’s right to challenge decisions where the government has ignored expert advice on threatened species impacts — 9 December 2013. 

46. Downgrades national environment laws by giving approval powers to state premiers — 9 December 2013. 

45. Undermines Australia’s democracy by signing a free trade agreement with South Korea allowing corporations to sue the Australian Government — 6 December 2013.

44. Damages our diplomatic relationship with our nearest neighbour East Timor — 5 December 2013.

43. Repeals the pokie reform legislation achieved in the last parliament to combat problem gambling — 4 December 2013.

42. Suspends the Wage Connect program, despite it being proven to deliver good outcomes for unemployed people — 3 December 2013.

41. Axes funding to the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia, forcing the 46 year old organisation to close — 27 November 2013.

40. Back-flips twice on the ‘Gonski’ education reforms, reversing a commitment to a ‘unity ticket’ and failing to deliver equitable education funding  25 November 2013.

39. Shifts Australia’s position at the UN on Israeli settlements — 25 November 2013.

38. Damages our diplomatic relationship with the Indonesian Government by refusing to apologise for tapping the phones of their President, his wife and senior Government officials — 23 November 2013.

37. Converts crucial Start-Up Scholarships into loans, increasing the debt of 80,000 higher education students by $1.2 billion — 21 November 2013.

36. Gifts two navy patrol boats to the Sri Lankan government to stop asylum seekers fleeing the Sri Lankan government — 17 November 2013.

35. Introduces a Bill to impose on workers who are elected onto unpaid union committees huge financial penalties and jail terms for breaches of new compliance obligations — 14 November 2013 

34. Expressly condones torture by foreign governments by saying “sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen” — 14 November 2013.

33. Hides information from the Parliament and the people about the government’s treatment of asylum seekers — 13 November 2013.

32. Separates a refugee mother from her newborn baby — 10 November 2013.

31. Cuts 600 jobs at the CSIRO — 8 November 2013.

30. Abolishes Insurance Reform Advisory Group, which provided a forum for industry and consumer bodies to discuss insurance industry reform — 8 November 2013.

29. Abolishes the Maritime Workforce Development Forum, which was an industry body working to build a sustainable skills base for the maritime industry — 8 November 2013.

28. Abolishes the High Speed Rail Advisory Group, whose job it was to advise Governments on the next steps on implementing high speed rail for eastern Australia — 8 November 2013.

27. Abolishes the Advisory Panel on the Marketing in Australia of Infant Formula, which for 21 years monitored compliance of industry to agreements on marketing infant formula — 8 November 2013.

26. Abolishes the Antarctic Animal Ethics Committee, who ensured research on animals in the Antarctic complies with Australian standards — 8 November 2013.

25. Abolished the National Steering Committee on Corporate Wrongdoing, that for 21 years worked to make sure the law was effectively enforced on corporate criminals — 8 November 2013.

24. Abolishes the National Inter-country Adoption Advisory Council, which provided expert advice on overseas adoption — 8 November 2013.

23. Abolishes International Legal Services Advisory Council, which was responsible for working to improve the international performance of Australia’s legal services — 8 November 2013.

22. Abolishes the Commonwealth Firearms Advisory Council, a group of experts in gun crime and firearms which was set up after the Port Arthur massacre — 8 November 2013.

21. Abolishes Australian Animals Welfare Advisory Committee, a diverse group of experts advising the Agriculture Minister on animal welfare issues — 8 November 2013.

20. Abolishes the National Housing Supply Council, which provided data and expert advice on housing demand, supply and affordability — 8 November 2013.

(Image by David Olive via sallymcmanus.net)

19. Abolishes the Advisory Panel on Positive Ageing, established to help address the challenges the country faces as the number of older Australians grows — 8 November 2013.

18. Refuses to offer support to manufacturing in Tasmania, despite requests and warnings. Caterpillar announces the move of 200 jobs from Burnie to Thailand, costing about 1,000 local jobs — 5 November 2013.

17. Provides $2.2 million legal aid for farmers and miners to fight native title claims — 1 November 2013.

16. Abolishes the 40 year old AusAID costing hundreds of jobs — 1 November 2013.

15. Launches a successful High Court challenge, which strikes down the ACT Marriage Equality laws, invalidating the marriages of many people and ensuring discrimination against same-sex couples continues — 23 October 2013.

14. Denies there is a link between climate change and more severe bush fires and accuses a senior UN official was “talking through their hat” — 23 October 2013. 

13. Appoints the head of the Business Council of Australia to a “Commission of Audit” to recommend cuts to public spending — 22 October 2013.

12. Instructs public servants and detention centre staff to call asylum seekers “illegals” — 20 October 2013.

11. Appoints Howard era Australian Building & Construction Commission (ABCC) Director to help reinstate the ABCC with all its previous oppressive powers over construction workers — 17 October 2013.

10. Axes the Major Cities Unit, a Government agency with 10 staff set-up to provide expert advice on urban issues in our 18 biggest cities — 24 September 2013.

9. Fails to “stop the boats”. Hides the boats instead  23 September 2013.

8. Scraps the Social Inclusion Board, which had been established to guide policy on the reduction of poverty in Australia — 19 September 2013.

7. Abolishes the Climate Commission — 19 September 2013.

6. Appoints himself Minister for Women — 16 September 2013.

5. Appoints only one woman to his cabinet and blames the women for the decision, saying he appoints “on merit” — 16 September 2013.

4. Abolishes key ministerial positions of climate change and science — 16 September 2013.

3. Breaks his promise to spend his first week with an Aboriginal community  14 September 2013.

2. Takes away pay rises for childcare workers — 13 September 2013.

1. Takes away pay rises from aged care workers — 13 September 2013.

The Broken Promise Count

1. Does not spend his first week as Prime Minister with an Aboriginal community — 14 September 2013.  This promise was made in front of indigenous elders and participants at the Garma Festival on 10 August 2013:

You can watch the full speech here (the promise is made at 21:30).

2. Fails to “stop the boats”. Hides the boats instead — 23 September 2013. This promise was repeated many, many times. For instance, here’s Abbott’s 2013 campaign launch speech.

3. Back-flips twice on Gonski, reversing a commitment to a ‘unity ticket’ and failing to deliver equitable education funding — 25 November 2013  See paragraph two from Christopher Pyne on 29 August 2013.

4. Breaks NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016 — 12 December 2013. This was the Coalition’s policy they took to the election, first announced 9 April 2013.

5. Changes name of  NDIS “launch sites” to “trial sites” and flags cuts to funding — 17 December 2013. The promise to deliver the NDIS in full was made 20 August 2013 and is in the policies they took to the election.

6. Fails to provide the promised customs vessel to monitor whaling operations in the Southern Ocean — 23 December 2013. Promise made by Greg Hunt 9 April 2013.

Thanks to The Greens whose research in 100 days, 40 failures: A Preview of secretive, cruel and chaotic Government provided the initial material for this project.

Sally McManus is the Branch Secretary of the Australian Services Union, NSW & ACT. This post was originally published on sallymcmanus.net and Sally says she will regularly update it there to keep track of the Abbott Government’s disasters and broken promises. You can also follow Sally on Twitter @sallymcmanus.

The originals of John Graham's art, featured in this piece as well as elsewhere on IA, are available for purchase by contacting the editor at editor@independentaustralia.net.

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