I used to travel overseas about once a year (ex-airline employee). When I did, I would often be asked about Australia. I quite enjoyed this, because it gave me a chance to talk about the many things I was proud about, such as (in no particular order):
- Universal health care
- Free primary and secondary education
- High minimum wage
- Low poverty levels
- Egalitarian society
- Westminster parliamentary system
- Stable democracy
- Low unemployment
- Unemployment benefits for all
- Pensions for the elderly, sick and disabled
- NBN project (universal high-speed broadband to all homes and businesses)
- Gun control
- Low crime rates
- Environmental protection
- Human rights
When talking with Americans I would often give them a stir about their presidential popularity contests, choice of Presidents such as George W. Bush and the actor Ronald Reagan, and their failure to confront health care, poverty levels and staggering death-by-gun problems.
But pride comes before a fall.
For the past nine months we have had a new conservative government lead by Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Earlier this month he visited a number of countries including the USA for talks with Barack Obama and various business leaders.
Somehow Abbott’s reputation preceded him, and this is the result:
Here’s the sad thing: this video is both extremely funny and cringe-worthy at the same time. And none of it is faked.
How can I hold my head high while Abbott is PM? Since coming to office he and his ministers have waged war on science, social services, education and many other areas I was proud of.
Right now the most serious risk facing humanity is global warming, and it is science that helps us understand the progress of the warming and hopefully to overcome the catastrophe facing our grandchildren. So what’s first in the sights of Abbott’s new government? Dismantling environmental agencies, eliminating the position of Minister for Science, severe financial cutbacks for the brilliant science research organisation, the CSIRO, and increased university costs for the scientists of the future. This is just a sample. There’s much more.
And don’t get me started on the crippling of the National Broadband Network project.
Abbott himself is a borderline climate change denier (Google “Abbott says climate change is crap“), and his chief business advisor, Maurice Newman, still claims the world is flat. (Well, not quite, but check this out.)
Like to know more about Abbott’s attitude to science? Have a look at this article in the Sydney Morning Herald entitled “Science Going Back to the Dark Ages“.
Want more still? Have a look at this opinion piece on the ABC web site: Abbott wrangles with his own climate paradox.
Or just Google “Tony Abbott and climate change“. It’s distressing in the extreme, and he’s our Prime Minister.