Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Abbott Government’s list of Broken Promises, as of 8 January, 2014

Abbott Government’s list of Broken Promises, as of 8 January, 2014
(from most recent to earliest)
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.
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.
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. 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:
2. Takes away pay rises for childcare workers — 13 September 2013.
1. Takes away pay rises from aged care workers — 13 September 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.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Neophilia and its dangers

Downloaded Mavericks, Apple's latest operating system for MacBooks, last night. Took > 6 hours, but given there were well over 5 gigs and we're in the far north of India and running off one of the hospital's wifi hot spots, I'm impressed. Downloaded a whole bunch of apps taking another 4 or so gigs this morning. Last time I did something like this was in Dili, the capital of Timor Leste. I downloaded Al Gore's Climate Change slide show of nearly 400 megs and presented it the next day in a continuing education seminar for Leprosy Mission staff. Any break in the phone line internet connection or power supply during that time would have wrecked it, but everything worked beautifully! The other fun techo thing I did was 2 years ago, when I took my iPad and my mini data projector with LED display in my backpack and rode a motorbike up to the leprosy hospital I had worked in 30 years previously. They asked me to do devotions the next morning, so I produced a Keynote presentation on the iPad overnight. The question becomes, at what point does the medium overwhelm the message? Still, laptops and even data projectors are quite common here. That mini data projector has had a good workout at the local school this week. I've taken what we'd call scripture assemblies 3 mornings for years 8 & 9. Being greeted in the street by several teenagers today was a terrific reward!


"Novelty is deeply disturbing, especially when people have built their lives around the old way." Tom Wright, Luke for Everyone. 
Is this the fundamental reason for the current bad behaviour in public life? The world is being drawn, willy nilly, into a new energy regime, and therefore a new way of living. The threat of Climate Change is forcing humanity to reconsider not simply how we live but who we are in relation to nature/creation, and the ones who have been advantaged most by the old regime are the ones who are fighting with whatever means they have at their disposal against the change to the new. Some of their means are deeply unethical. Lying, recasting history shamelessly to suit their own version of reality, besmirching the reputations of opponents and bringing them before the courts, and corrupting scientific method to cast doubt on scientific findings that they don't like are some of the tactics they use. But the change is inevitable. Resisting it will only make the process more painful. In one way or another we are already paying and will continue to lay a price on carbon.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

A new day may be dawning

The momentous, 4 day meeting of the Uniting Church's Synod in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory ended yesterday. Among many highlights several shone particularly brightly. 

(1) The Synod's theme, "Uniting for the Common Good" seems to be being enacted within the various agencies and senior staff of the Synod. It was refreshing to interact with people who talk straight and talk together. 

(2) We elected an alien widow to be our next Moderator. If you have followed the developing discourse throughout the bible on the status of aliens and of women, let alone of widows, you will understand what a radical step this is. Not only that, but one of the other candidates, an Anglo Australian man in his prime, told me that he hoped she would be elected, not him! This points to an ethos radically at odds with that which prevails in Australian society and much of the rest of the world. 

(3) The Synod's ecological concern has come of age. 3 significant proposals were passed, one opposing coal seam gas mining, another moving towards divesting from companies that mine fossil fuels and investing in renewable energy providers, and the third asking the Synod and the Assembly to speak and act both pastorally and prophetically in the Murray-Darling Basin. 

I was one of a diverse consultation group that presented the report on its consultation over the MDB and the proposal arising from it. To be honest, the sea of orange cards indicating assent that greeted our proposal was one of the highlights of my life. It was a culmination of a process that began when I spoke at meeting of Synod 24 years ago about environmental concerns arising from my experience in my first placement as a minister, the then Northern New England Parish. Since then the story has developed for me and also for the Uniting Church. I've done an honours degree, then a PhD in ecological theology as it relates to the MDB, and I'm a presenter with Al Gore's Climate Reality Project. In the Uniting Church there has been a deepening and broadening of ecological concern that is immensely heartening, but has come none too soon. Now on to enact the Proposals!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

No free lunch in Australia's new era

OK. Tomorrow, please God, a new era begins in Australia, of paying our way for the resources we extract, and for what it costs to repair the mess we make of God's good creation. As I was taught when I grew up in conservative Killara, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Actually we humans get a lot for free, but we can't keep messing with nature forever.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Future ain't what it used to be

I became a teenager a few months before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. Then, although the future seemed limitless to us baby boomers, The Club of Rome had already published "The Limits to Growth", the following year Paul Ehrlich published "The Population Bomb", a few years later the West received its first oil shock, and unbeknown to almost everyone Roger Revelle, an American climatologist, was already measuring and correlating annual increases in atmospheric temperature and CO2 concentrations high above the mid-Pacific ocean. Before I'd left teenage-hood Jimmy Carter had solar panels installed on the White House's roof. Ronald Reagan had them removed. That symbolises for me the 30+ years we've lost in securing a well-resourced future for all the world's children. Now the future ain't what it used to be, and we are all in danger. I think it is now clear that my baby boomer generation, my parents' generation, and even you Gen Xers and Yers have taken resources from both our and the rest of the world's descendants to fund our own lifestyle. Ironically, however, we are learning that physical living standards, though important, do not by themselves a bright future make. Mahatma Gandhi rightly said that "The Rich must live more simply so that the Poor may simply live", but he of all people knew that "Man does not live by bread alone", and especially not by XBox 360s, Nike trainers and 64" Plasma flat screen TVs.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Ecomissiolog begins

Let's try this out!

I'm a Presbytery minister in the Uniting Church in Australia. My job's to care for ministers in Sydney's west, and the mountains to the west.

At the same time I'm passionate about the environment. I've recently completed a PhD in "ecotheology", looking at how we westerners have affected the waterways of the Murray-Darling Basin, Australia's largest (by area) river system, and for some years I've been a presenter for The Climate Project. We presenters present versions of Al Gore's climate change slide show that formed the basis of his Oscar award-winning documentary "An Inconvenient Truth".

And I'm passionate about helping in God's mission on planet earth. For several years during the '80s I worked in a leprosy hospital in south India, and I retain a love for that country, and for other "majority world" countries. I travelled to Jakarta, Indonesia for further training from Al Gore in January this year. In June my wife and I will visit East Timor with a view to helping there some day. And late this year I'll go back to India in my holidays to try to lend a helping hand there.

So, eco-missio-log. "Log", of course, is short for "logos", the Christian "word", which means "message", and also symbolises and names Jesus Christ.

That'll do for now. May God bless you and yours this Easter!

David Reichardt, ecomissiolog.