In this country there are many myths – and I don’t mean those from the Dreamtime that Aboriginal people cherish. The myth of the fair go and free speech, the myth that we say what we think..and mean what we say. The myth of a classless society or maybe a multicultural society where we all ‘tolerate’ differences. The myth that Waltzing Matilda is not the national anthem.
We often say that we want to hear the truth. But how many people – especially those in power – really want to have truth spoke to them? In the 90’s I was employed in a government department where management ran various courses to help us in our work. A man from the NSW Service for the Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors (STARTTS) came to try and enlighten staff about why some people became refugees. He said they were fleeing despotic governments in their country. If they spoke up (for example, as union delegates) they would be arrested, tortured or even killed so most people were too scared to say anything. He said “You in this free country would not understand how people are silenced in these repressive regimes – eg Argentina if you belonged to a union”. I commented “A lot of people in this department must have come from repressive regimes: they rarely open their mouths to say anything anyone might not like.”
It is unlikely that anyone in power (or elsewhere) will listen when we crows on the battlements are proved right about the seriously scary swing towards secrecy, suppression and silencing dissent in our country. We will be too far gone to do anything about it. I’m reluctant to quote yet again Martin Niemoller “First they came for the Jews…” but it’s true that there will be nobody to fight for our survival if we don’t fight for others. Including the natural environment. It seems that many Australians don’t believe that we are part of a world that depends and relies on the natural environment.
Nature doesn’t need us to pillage and ravage but we certainly need the natural world. Otherwise no water, air, food. The real world for many of us is only something online or in the best interests of business, aka ‘the economy’. As revered writer on economic issues Ross Gittins has often shown – this is a circular world which we can’t keep exploiting as if it was a factory assembly line – all take and no give.
Some of the actions of current governments don’t even boost business. When Mr Rabbit declared in 2013 “Australia is open for business” – I had a letter published in the Australian: “..unless it’s the renewables business”.
The beliefs that impel our current plague of rightwing politicians and spokesmouths are somewhat obscure, but are becoming increasingly focused on total control of thought and deed. In whose best interests is unclear – it certainly isn’t in childrens’ interests. Surely climate affects them and will continue to affect them more than it does old people.
Children who take part in any kind of protest against the government’s wilful destruction of the kids’ planet are scorned and ridiculed. Children are nowhere in our society’s hierarchy. They don’t vote and nobody asks them about matters that profoundly affect their futures. If they have the temerity to speak out of turn they are treated in classic Victorian style..shouldn’t be seen or heard and therefore are ignored.
The Federal Government’s push to set up yet another inquiry into Family Law – is not one based on childrens’ interests but only a forum to wreak revenge for the Fathers Rights groups and their supporters (e.g. Pauline.)
How many whistleblowers and those who resist bullying and injustice and who fight for a really fair Fair Go, have been heaped with praise and commendation? None. Those in power don’t address the issues – they just shoot the messenger and hope the whole mess will disappear from the public gaze. And if enough custard is poured over the mess (with the help of compliant media) it usually will be reduced to a trifle.
Media (e.g. ABC Four Corners and the New Matilda and up on the mid north coast of NSW, the Manning Community News) and individuals who speak out against corruption and injustice have been accused of fabrication and ‘fake news’ing. Some have been brutally treated including:
Gillian Trigg Human Rights Commissioner who was lambasted and bastardised by the Coalition government and media bullies for revealing the truth about government’s treatment of asylum seekers – in particular children.
Alan Kessing – who reported to his superiors security breaches and rorts at Sydney Airport in 2003 and was hounded out of his job, condemned for his views, and according to his words in 2009 “After four years, three barristers and over $70,000 wasted I am a convicted felon. As I have no further means to pursue legal options I felt that at last let the true story be told. Crikey 14/9/09,
Dr Lynn Simpson former live export vet who inadvertently exposed the horrific treatment of animals in that industry. (her report was leaked) “She receives compensation today and settled a court case against the Agriculture Department in 2017, but her ordeal isn’t over. No one in the industry has employed her since the report’s findings went viral. “It sort of follows you like you’ve got a criminal record, but you haven’t committed a crime,” she says”, Canberra Times 21/6/19
Brisbane Courier Mail fined $120,000 in 2014 for breaching Section 121 of the Family Law Act by revealing the identities of the four Italian sisters forced to return to Italy with their father.
Section 121 is one of the worst repressive laws in Australia because in general it shields the abusers and perpetrators and not the victims and their protectors and covers up unjust and unreasonable decisions made by judicial officers.
As always what the whistle blowers expose is the truth which is always more horrifying and “unbelievable” than fiction. The cheapest calculator can expose a $300 million underpayment in employees’ wages in one company. Wages have not increased in ten years and yet executive salaries have skyrocketed with some CEOs (who are responsible for those underpayments) receiving over $20 million per year with never a hint of underpayment in the upper echelons.
The list above is only a miniscule selection of people and organisations who have tried to do the right thing and been trampled. Under the Coalition and some state governments this list now includes whole sections of society such as animal rights campaigners, climate crisis protesters, anyone who speaks out or protests against mines and other environmentally damaging projects or businesses. The latest government threats at today’s date: removal of Centrelink ‘benefits’ for dissenters and invoking Section 45D of the Trade Practices Act to stop environmental defenders from trying to encourage banks and other businesses to stop supporting mines and other endeavours that harm the natural environment.
Bees and other important insects are dying off, plastic is suffocating sea and freshwater creatures, genetic modification is being used for evil ends. Are these products or side effects of our system of capitalism? Monopolies, sell offs, whittling away public services, casualisation of the workforce and the widening gap between rich and poor are not the basis of a stable society. Half the world seems to be lining up to skim a profit and the other half scrapes by somehow below sustenance level. Will we be all be ‘rooned’ together?
Are you one of these bleeding hearts or – worse – political correctors? Can anyone identify your point of view and vilify and punish you for it? Or have you decided it’s best to be a Nowhere Man (or Woman..or child) who “doesn’t have a point of view…”
Thanks dear Beatles for this:
“Doesn’t have a point of view
Knows not where he’s going to
Isn’t he a bit like you and me?
Nowhere man please listen
You don’t know what you’re missing
Nowhere man, the world is at your command.”
A local resident