For all the foibles and weaknesses of the previous Labor government, what with its leadership issues and struggles to govern with the help of the Greens and independents, at least the Australian people knew what was going on as the two sides of the media, Murdoch’s right-wing hard copy and online news resources on one side, and the centrist and left-of-centre Fairfax hard copy and online news resources and ABC media on the other side, gave a running commentary which the Labor government under both recent leaders were always willing to respond to.
But it was the overwhelming ability of the right-wing Murdoch media with its ultra right-wing commentators who were able to appeal to the business-suited right on one side of the right-wing court, while Murdoch’s bloggers like Andrew Bolt, Tim Blair, Piers Akerman, et al, on the other side of the right-wing court, appealed to the red-necked hard right working classes that managed to swing the nation against Labor and its disrupting factional influences. In the end, both sides of the Australia mainstream political fence were trying to appeal to the same tiny set of swing voters who would, in the end, determine who the new government would be.
In order to try and win over the red-necked working class voter, Labor succumbed to the demands of the racist right, so vocal through Murdoch’s media, to end the flow of asylum-seeking refugees arriving to Australia by boat by offering almost identical anti-boatpeople policies as the Liberal coalition. It ended up being a battle as to who could offer the toughest deterrence with the result that all that both sides were going to offer any boatperson attempting to come to Australia was a life of potentially perpetual misery in oppressive conditions in places they never wanted to be. It seemed that every time one side came up with what they thought was a solution; the other side would come up with something even tougher on boatpeople. All empathy went out the window in the race to be the meanest and toughest against boatpeople.
In the end, it became obvious what was going on; most of Labor hated what they said they were going to do to boatpeople and it was clear the tough rhetoric and all the talks with the various off-shore governments involved was just pandering to the racist voter. On Election Day the racist voter didn’t trust Labor to keep boatpeople out and instead voted for Abbott’s ‘Stop the boats’ and ‘Tow them back’ solutions. Messrs Bolt, Blair, Akerman, et al, were more that willing to help Abbott out with their fearmongering blogs by blustering about boatpeople on a daily basis and pointing the finger of ‘border security failure’ directly at Labor and their Left wing supporters. They did this by both playing on the fears of the racist monoculturalist right who reject anything that may upset the racial status quo of Australia and, at the same time, tempering the guilt of such outright racism by claiming that stopping the boats will end deaths at sea – as though any of them actually cared.
Now we have a government that is beginning to show its true colours. They’ve found a simple solution of making a problem disappear – pretend it’s not there by saying no more about it. And, of course, the right-wing commentariat are more than happy to oblige. Ever since the election, they have not said a word about boatpeople arrivals despite the fact that, as of this writing, some seven boat loads of asylum seeking refugees are known to have arrived. In ignoring their arrival, the right-wing commentariat expose themselves as hypocrites. Their concerns for boatpeople safety have vanished and, in all likelihood, if boatpeople did vanish at sea, we would not be hearing about it from this government.
Abbot has said that he will leave it to Australia’s military to decide what the Australian people may or may not know about asylum seeking refugees attempting to arrive by boat. And Abbott has also said that he will only be making statements to the Australian people when he deems it necessary – not just about boatpeople, but about anything.
In short, the new Australian government is no longer going to be transparent. It will tell us only what it thinks we need to hear.
One wonders to what extent the government will go in order to maintain its ability to keep the people of Australia un-informed. Will there be censorship in the media? Certainly the right-wing Murdoch dominated media are likely to be compliant but in this day and age of digital communication and social media, it will be hard to keep everyone in the dark. Will the government simply ignore those the attempt to inform or will they clamp down on them for ‘security’ purposes?
News that affects Australians and what is done in Australia’s name, including the future of asylum seeking boat arrivals, must never be allowed to become silenced. The new opposition must sort itself out quickly and challenge – no matter how futile such challenges may seem – everything the government does that hides from Australians the truth of how we are being governed.
All Australians must insist on transparent government.
The alternatives are unimaginable.