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Ten days of distraction from a shrinking economy

Australia's economy shrank by 0.5% in the September quarter, the largest contraction since the GFC. Such things happen, but of course Prime Minister Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison and the rest of the Government quickly and soberly announced plans to get the nation back on track.
Nope, I'm just kidding. The entire government, enthusiastically aided by the Murdoch press, launched a campaign of obfuscation and downright bizarre distraction, refocusing the national pique on issues so marginal, so trivial, that you actually might have to give grudging credit for a brilliant piece of political play. 

In ten days:

  • Immigration Minister Peter Dutton bought into the "War on Christmas", declaring Australia is a Christian country, that people want their kids brought up in a normal environment and that a lack of Christmas carols in schools is - what else? - "political correctness gone mad". 

  • Treasurer Scott Morrison fired up the barbie for a roast of Newstart recipients, condemning the 36,000 recipients of the payment had rejected job offers, apparently choosing "generous" welfare payments and refusing to work.

  • Never one to be left out, Tony Abbott got in on the act as well, sticking the boot in to those receiving the disability support pension for mere "bad backs, a bit of depression".

  • Completely non biased journalist Sharri Markson bravely informed us - I hope you're clutching your smelling salts - that Year 3 children are being brainwashed into becoming political activists by writing a petition protesting children in detention (both Dutton and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten got stuck into that one). 

  • And finally, Malcolm Turnbull brought it home this weekend by restarting the Republic debate for no apparent reason.

    I was planning to carefully debunk every atom of this nonsense. That Dutton's claim of a war on Christmas and schools abandoning carols was based on a single caller to the Ray Hadley show. That it's almost impossible to even get on the disability pension these days - your condition must be stabilised, so those with cancer, say, or deteriorating conditions don't qualify, so no doubt more than a few of those on Newstart who "rejected" job offers had to turn down jobs they could not physically do because of illness and disability. That my five year old son wrote a similar postcard in our local, mainstream Christian church, and that I'm sick of the politicalisation of compassion. That as Turnbull pointed out, there is no reasonable prospect of public consensus on a republic until Queen Elizabeth dies, which given her genes and constitution may be another decade or more. The numerous Muslim families I saw enjoying the City of Sydney Christmas concert and tree lighting. 

  • And I could go on, but enough. We need to call the government out on this rubbish. We're heading for a recession, house prices continue to grow far beyond income, we are not building the infrastructure needed to keep up with our continually expanding population. These are the issues we need to focus on, not whether a school somewhere had the kids say happy holidays instead of merry Christmas. I'm sick of the side issues. We should look after our own first? Okay, let's talk about the guy who ends up homeless after being kicked off Newstart for turning down a job his disability prevented him from doing. We have a flailing government and an ineffective opposition. Turnbull has been like a rabbit in the headlights since he became PM. He needs to get his shit together and start acknowledging the big issues. Yes, we need to look after our own.