Waking Up and Smelling the Coffee

May 22, 2007 at 3:36 am (Uncategorized)

The other day, Llew and I were reading the weekend newspapers, and Llew suddenly snorted in disgust.
“What?” I asked.
“This just makes me so sick,” he replied, showing me the paper. It was a big, full-colour, full-page advertisement from the Howard Government. It was about their controversial Industrial Relations (IR) reforms. They call it “information advertising,” like really it’s not political at all – they’re just doing us a favour. Bringing us up to speed. There’s nothing remotely slanted about the content – no, these ads just tell it like it is. They’re for our benefit. We should be thanking them for spelling it all out for us in such an objective manner.

Does anyone really believe that? Today’s smh.com site has an article that tells the fiscal tale – have a look. $111 million dollars on federal government advertising this year. Oh, and look at that, would you, it’s an election year. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, right? One friend who was working in TV advertising at the last election said it was the biggest thing to happen to print and television media in her memory – they made budget in record time thanks to the record funds being poured down the drain by the big spenders in Canberra. Llew’s right – it is sickening. As he said with a grim laugh, the sole justification for that kind of advertising spend is the zero-consolation defence that given the chance, the Opposition might prove just as bad. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t make me feel better about anything at all.

$111 million dollars. And don’t even get me started about the (now scrapped, since too dicey a PR game – it is an election year, you know) $540,000 new dining room for the PM’s offices. When I think about the tens of thousands of dollars – sorry, scrap that – when I think about the now hundreds of thousands of dollars my husband and I have already paid in taxes, and when I think about how that money is being misdirected and blatantly squandered, I almost can’t believe how little recourse we have, and how little accountability there appears to be in parliament. This is not confined to the Howard Government or to federal politics in general – the State Labor Government in NSW has efficiently demonstrated little more than that the grass is just as green and just as slimy on the other side of the fence. How grim.

Howard used to be fond of trotting out a humility-soaked sound bite that always made me gag: “I am a servant of the Australian people.” Well, let’s assume for one delicious moment that it’s true. If this is an upstairs/downstairs comedy of manners (or rather errors), then old Howard, the aging butler with inappropriate designs on the master’s fortune, is rather guilty of forgetting his station, and should be summarily dismissed by the owners of the estate. That would be us, Australian voters and tax payers, and boy I hope we’ve got the stomach to let go the staff since they’ve proven themselves to be liars and thieves.

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