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Monday, 17 November 2014

What Abbott actually said - The AIM Network

What Abbott actually said - The AIM Network

What Abbott actually said

Weird and graceless. Shorten’s description of Abbott’s G20 address
to world leaders was spot on. We all know that Abbott doesn’t perform
well at public speaking. And we never expected him to say anything
inspiring, intelligent or even informative at the G20. It’s not like he
was going to admit he’d been wrong about climate policy and could Obama
and Xi Jinping please help him to fix his faults. No, what we expected
was for him to be uninspiring, unintelligent, and to say not much at
all. Like he usually does. Because let’s face it, we’re used to three
word slogans repeated slowly, spread out amongst ahh, err, arh, urms ad
nauseam. But that’s not what we got from Abbott yesterday. Surprisingly,
we got worse than this. Which is why it’s worth taking a closer look at
what he actually did say.

The closest I’ve seen to criticism of the speech from the mainstream
media, who surprisingly unwrapped Abbott from his Teflon coated bubble
wrap for a millisecond to give him some negative feedback, was that the
speech was more suited for a domestic audience than a meeting of world
leaders. This is true, but was by far the least worst thing about what
Abbott actually said. As a member of that domestic audience for whom the
speech was apparently targeted, I found it highly offensive. Not just
partisan, immature, whingey, unbecoming of a Prime Minister, badly
delivered and embarrassing to the country. Look at what he actually said and I think you’ll be offended too:

‘Two issues in particular that I lay before my colleague leaders:
we have tried to deregulate higher education, universities, and that’s
going to mean less central government spending and effectively more fees
that students will have to pay. We think that this will free up our
universities to be more competitive amongst themselves and more
competitive internationally but students never like to pay more.’

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought Pyne’s argument was that deregulation of university fees would make fees less expensive? Pyne has also argued that his policy is a ‘good deal
for students, although this was clearly never the case. How is it a
good deal to be paying more for something and having to pay interest you
previously didn’t pay, whilst getting the exact same product you used
to get? But the point is, Abbott’s government always argued that this
policy was about improving the university sector – not about balancing
the budget. Yet yesterday, Abbott was using this policy failure (let’s
call a spade a spade that has failed to get through the Senate) as one
of the reasons he’s finding those revolting peasants in his kingdom so
terribly hard to force into line. Because students ‘never like to pay
more’. Apparently Abbott’s budget woes are nothing to do with his and
Hockey’s incompetence and are instead apparently all university
students’ fault and their sense of entitlement that they should be able
to get an education without taking out a mortgage on their future. An
education, by the way, that benefits the long term economic success of
Abbott’s precious economy. Not that Abbott seems to be able to put two
and two together in this way. Abbott hadn’t finished yet though, because
it wasn’t just the students who were to blame. It was also the sick.

‘The other reform that has proven very, very difficult for us is
to try to inject more price signals into our health system. For a long
time most Australians who went to see a doctor have been seen at no
charge and we would like to see a $7 co-payment for people who are going
to see the doctor. In most countries this is not unusual. In most
countries, this is standard that the doctor can charge a fee, but it is
proving to be massively difficult to get this particular reform through
the Parliament.’

Those pesky sick people and their sense of entitlement that they
should be treated in a health system that they pay for through their
taxes that was set up to look after all Australians from cradle to the
grave. How dare these revolting peasants think they should be able to
see a doctor for free when they are sick! But at the heart of this whole
argument is that a ‘price-signal’ (you know, like the carbon tax was a
price signal to reduce carbon pollution) will reduce visits to the
doctor, and will therefore reduce the cost of this universal health
sector, which is funded by Australians through our tax system. The only
way this could ever possibly be the case is if Abbott believes that
Australians aren’t really sick and are actually just whingey
hypochondriacs who need to be put off from their whingey hypochondria
through a price signal. Or, his government believes that poor people who
can’t afford the $7 co-payment should put up with being sick and
shouldn’t be treated for ailments that could become much worse if not
treated, such as lumps that can become a range of life threatening
cancers or a heart problem that could easily be treated before it
becomes catastrophic heart failure. Perhaps Abbott would prefer the poor
just died without costing his budget any money. See why I felt
offended? I was also frustrated that Abbott forgot to mention that his
great-big-GP-tax was not actually going to be used to fund a budget
surplus. It was being used for a $20 billion research fund
for use by the private research sector. At the same time as Abbott is
cutting the apparently wasteful CSIRO. Funny the small facts Abbott
chose to leave out of his grand whinge.

But ultimately, if you were really listening, you’ll have heard that
it wasn’t just the students and the sick and hypochondriac Australians
who are to blame for Abbott’s inability to fulfil one of his apparent
four core promises to ‘get the Budget under control’. Because right up
front, Abbott said this:

‘…it doesn’t matter what spending programme you look at, it
doesn’t matter how wasteful that spending programme might appear, there
are always some people in the community who vote, who love that
programme very much’.

Get that people? It’s all of us voters who are so stupidly in love
with government spending on programs that are just a complete waste of
government spending. It’s all our fault that Abbott can’t balance his
books! Us stupid voters refuse to let him send a wrecking ball through
our civilised society that we have spent generations building! How dare
we block his wrecking ball!

So yes, I was offended, as a member of the domestic audience that was
the true target market for this speech. But once I had calmed down and
thought about it for a moment, I realised that I was also incredibly
proud of Australians. Abbott can blame us all he likes. But the fact of
the matter is that the worst of Abbott’s budget – the parts that hit the
most vulnerable hardest – like the GP co-payment, like Pyne’s assault
on the higher education sector – are being blocked by our
democratically elected leaders in the Labor Party, the Greens, various
independents and low and behold, the Palmer United Party. So we might be
dumb enough to elect Abbott in the first place, but I hope the world
leaders, and those across the world who may have been tuning in, can see
we’re not dumb enough to let him wreck the place, no matter how hard he
might be trying.

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