By Phillip Frazer
Last week a panel on TV discussed how Australia’s First People can get recognition for being our land’s custodians for 60,000 plus years, and how they can get a permanent voice in running the nation.
This was on The Drum on ABC so a so-called ‘progressive’ perspective had the numbers.
Everyone agreed that it will be really hard to squeeze approval out of parliament and to win a referendum, even though most Australians support those goals … because Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce, and dozens of their ilk keep saying no, as in no voice, no meaningful referendum.
It took two years and a thousand indigenous delegates from 13 regions of Australia to write a ‘frame’ for discussing recognition, called The Uluru Statement from the Heart, and while the panelists nodded reverentially in its direction, they didn’t use it as the frame for their discussion; unconsciously perhaps, they used the Coalition’s.
The Uluru mob are proposing an agreement between governments and First Nations and ‘truth-telling about our history’ and they invite us to walk with them on this.
No demand re the constitution or for a third chamber in parliament, nor for a new flag or anthem, and yet all these smart and pleasant people on The Drum focused on how to coax the nay-sayers over the line.
The Liberal bullies and the Murdoch-Costello press have jammed their frame around this issue, and it boils down to ‘we will decide what you can have, and it’s probably going to be bugger-all’.
In this case the specific bullies include Morrison, Barnaby Joyce, and the loudest shockjocks, but the fact is that in Australia today the Coalition government frames every debate with the general rule being: Everything will be decided by Boss Morrison and the Appropriate Minister.
That hasn’t worked out well with energy policy, because we still don’t have one, other than polluting our best agricultural land, inland water tables, and offshore marine environments in order to ship fossil fuels to countries on the other side of various oceans, yielding vast profits to super-rich rent-seekers like Gina Rinehart and Clive Palmer.
Our energy bully is the perennially menacing-looking Angus Taylor – yes, the Liberal rep who last month got The Telegraph to print a fraudulent accounting document slandering Sydney’s mayor. Angus doesn’t understand the maths of Global Warming either.
Take another big issue of our times: cyber-security versus privacy, and ‘terrorism’.
The Morrison-Dutton gang has proposed new laws which parliament and the commentariat discuss entirely inside the frame drawn up by professional paranoids: cops from local levels up to the Federal Police, plus security types at ASIO, ASIS, the Signals Directorate and a few other branches of Home Affairs they’ve snuck in to keep our enemies and our citizens guessing.
Paranoids-in-chief are Peter Dutton, attorney general Christian Porter, and Scott Morrison.
Their frame is really simple: We decide – and no one asks questions.
Mike Seccombe warned us in last week’s Saturday Paper that Dutton’s troops have ‘an algorithm capable of scanning the biometric data of almost every citizen of the country, held on a single central government database.
Where we are all potential suspects, all the time.’
And as Bernard Keane at Crikey correctly added, ‘there’s a bipartisan refusal even to engage in the kinds of debates over national security laws that Americans take for granted’.
Our bullyboys don’t want to be bothered with Rights.
All of this is supposedly to protect us from terrorists – and China.
Note that our national security behemoth didn’t stop Labor Party politicians from accepting $100,000 cash from a Chinese property developer, nor did it twig that a Liberal house member is a long-standing member of at least three organisations managed by the Chinese Communist Party.
Nor did they read the public posts of the Christchurch mass murderer who was an Aussie who could have hit a mosque in his home town of Grafton.
But reading posts on 8Chan or about QAnon might turn up a few violent white men, even including a few friends of the Prime Minister.
How about banks and banking?
More talking heads and ‘national economics writers’ are looking at the Royal Commission recommendations, and discussing options which we know won’t happen.
Bankers won’t become more empathetic, their promises more honest, their behaviour more honourable – and reorganising them with new rules like less vertical integration won’t make the daily struggle for the legal tender any easier for many of us.
We could have a People’s Bank, or ‘industry’ banks modelled on the superannuation funds involving unions that out-perform all the private funds.
And let’s support credit unions, co-ops, and social banks like Australia Bank and MeBank which operate online for a fraction of the costs of bricks and plastic.
Put a People’s Bank branch in every Post Office, instead of profit-driven banksters.
Yet, again, the bullyboys’ only plan is: Obey the Minister.
In this case, that’s the Treasurer which is a problem for the government because Josh Frydenberg barely manages a 5-out-of-10 on the bullyboy’s threat and bluster scale compared to Taylor’s 8, Morrison’s 9, or Dutton’s 10.