Throsby thought it time to update you on happenings in this antipodean wasteland of stupidity.
About eight years ago the astute voters of Oz threw out a perfectly functional government of center-left leaning and, under the direction of Moloch’s fish wraps and Sky hysterics, gave power to the conservatives – and I use the term ‘conservative’ very very loosely, as they’ve steadily revealed themselves to be neoliberal, climate-denying, evangelical kleptocrats.
Yes, we have a government that Donald himself would heartily approve of, were he not so engrossed (and engorged) approving of himself.
Because the remainder of year 2020 was, in Throsby’s fine assessment, a total write-off – or, as Bill Maher labelled it, “The Farkening” – this is a quick roundup of the equally impendent disaster, the unfolding year of our Lord 2021.
It began with January, you might guess. That’s a bit like saying 40% of sick days occur adjacent to the weekend. And it began with shrill cries that (spoiler alert) would grow shriller as the year progressed, reaching a crescendo as I write in August, with the Delta variant of COVID-19 sweeping across the nation to the applause of assorted billionaires who know the precise dollar value of each human life under their thumb. Across, need I point out, the UNVACCINATED nation.
“Did Australia put its money on the wrong vaccines?” the headline asked. Well, it put its money on an OK vaccine, Astra Zenica, for one good reason: we were able to manufacture it at the country’s Central Serum Laboratories (CSL). The other vaccine we really wanted was, of course, Pfizer. Unfortunately, the kids who negotiated with Pfizer told that company to go pjfizer themselves, it’s too expensive, we’re immune to Covid anyway, and we know best… or words to that effect. Spoiler: eight months later the nation is in deep shit and Pfizer has none to spare for us.
What else? For more than a year (last year, the farkening), prime minister Morrison’s government had chosen to play yapping dog at China’s heels. War drums would intensify during 2021, and no-one could quite discover why. Was it just momentum gained during Trump’s erratic love-hate affair (he blamed China for his country’s woes – especially the “China virus” – while exchanging love letters with King Ping, whom he greatly respected as a strong man, and who therefore must conversely respect The Donald)? Or was it just a marketing campaign to sell Australia’s new cottage industry, armaments. Throsby had observed the Defence Dept.’s ceaseless flow of media releases boasting new home-grown destructive capabilities, weapons for sale, nice people in uniforms, and so on.
The world, you northern hemispherians will have noticed from the flood-torn Rhinelands and Arctic firestorms, is starting to really panic about this “net zero” thing. But not in the Great Southern Open Cut, where a bevvy of fossil fuel-promoting ministerial fossils fuel the narrative that anyone who speaks against coal is a fair dinkum low-life, a bourgeois, latte-sipping, lefty greenie yummy mummy, Pinot grigio-sipping, inner city tree hugger.
Oblivion among voters – to their beloved prime minister being a shallow marketing spiv, wherefore he polled nosebleed ratings as preferred PM – began to erode as a series of sores festering on the body politic conservative, and erupted further thereupon, as issue after issue (SportsRorts, robodebt, refugees, CarPorks) exploded week by week, none more volcanic than sexual harassment within the precious precincts of parliament. During the year more pollies than I’ve patience to list were sucked into this vortex, spat out, their careers over. Most prominent, that of the chief law officer, the Attorney General, who would spend the year under the cloud of a rape allegation dating from his junior days as an arrogant legal likely lad back in Westralia
The AG’s troubles peaked this month, 33 years after the alleged incident, he under such immense stress that “mental health leave” was indicated. Political honesty was contra-indicated. A feature of PM Morrison’s character was becoming as prominent as Pinocchio’s proboscis, and a marketing man’s strategy came sooner to the fore with each embarrassing media confab: Deception by Word Salad. This he deployed in defence of his AG, in the process confusing the press almost to ineptitude. “Wha..? What did he say?? What does that mean, I mean, wtf?” Also to the fore came his eloquence as a spokesman for the nation. Each time a reporter pursued him beyond flattery to seek an actual answer, he would either offer his trademark retort “I don’t agree with your premise” or clench fists, set jaw, scowl, and walk away from the throng of ink slingers (or whatever it is they sling nowadays).
Covid-19 lockdowns continued, mostly in the state of Victoria, while Gladys the Wrap, Premier of NSW, crowed interminably about how superior her domain was, which simply encouraged Moloch’s toiletry suppliers in Melbourne to savage the Labor premier for putting lives ahead of commerce. Five months hence the tables would rotate when Covid-19 Delta invaded NSW and wiped smugness from her rodomontade. NewsCorpse would hail her failed too-little too-late lockdown as a magnificent triumph.
In a finding that surprised no-one, a Royal Commission into Aged Care found that essentially anything-for-profit will benefit only shareholders and proprietors, only ever disadvantage clients, and the oldies trapped by infirmity in urine-soaked beds would continue to lapse ultimately comatose to death by negligence. As the CEO of a major player in the foolishly-privatised industry declared when challenged by images of pathetic meals his gouging corporation begrudged the frail and elderly: “old people don’t have high calorie needs.”
Capping the month was news that surprised nobody: it was superfluously announced that Australian billionaires had doubled their wealth during the first Covid-19 wave or two.
Something in Australia called “Robodebt” exemplifies the Thatcherite aspirations of the “Liberal” Party in Australia, many many decades after her ideology had been conclusively debunked. Firstly, a refresher, that Oz’s “Liberal Party” is misnamed, and should be understood as a libertarian conservative party. And now the “conservative” handle also needs redefining because, as in the US, Republicans are no longer traditional conservatives. Hence, Australian “Liberals” (who once were never quite but almost that) are largely the exact equivalent of post-January 6 Republicans. IE: Morons.
No surprise for you, then, to learn that Robodebt was a scheme devised by the more sadistic libertarian anti-welfare (and, yea, evangelistic) column of the Nasty Party (Liberal Party). It’s purpose was to “claw back” money stolen by the poor, disabled, and unemployed – stolen from true blue Aussie taxpayers – and aided in this quest by Moloch’s (Rupert Murdoch) NewsCorpse empire of birdcage liners and Fox reprobates in their relentless labelling of the poor, disabled, and unemployed as, generally speaking, the nation’s filth.
The essence of Robodebt was comparing taxpayer records with welfare claims and, should a discrepancy reveal convict status, demand the stolen money back. Should the poor, disabled, or unemployed person have no money (an almost 100% correlation) the government would dispatch baseball bat-wielding lads from private debt recovery outfits to ‘incentivise’ repayment of (as it turned out almost universally) the non-existent debt predicted by the brilliantly flawed “algorithm” that mistakenly flagged the non-existent debt. The scheme was a resounding success. Not. Almost half a million poor, disabled, and unemployed bludgers were eventually repaid over $720 million in wrongly-issued debts. The government ministers involved in this extortion scheme against their own population were forced to concede the racket had “no lawful basis for it.” Just another day at the office for the Nasty Party.
When an outspoken sexual assault survivor, Grace Tame, was named Australian of the Year, the increasingly bizarre inhabitants of federal government benches went apoplectic and ordered “an urgent review” of the National Australia Day Council. It seemed that this was one of the few high-profile independent institutions in the country that they overlooked when stacking boards with disgraced or failed cronies or wealthy ideologically-aligned mates. Ms Tame would go on during the year savaging the the government for its callous treatment of victims, and secretiveness when investigating miscreants within parliament house itself. Ms Tame, in a few months time, would herself go apoplectic when former AG Porter was ‘re-promoted’ to leader of the house of representatives, despite his unresolved “rapist” allegation.
The Morrison government actually attempted – and STILL does – a policy of containment against , yes, CHINA. Yes, the mouse that roared. Although, take particular note, Australia is nowhere near as astute as the Duchy of Grand Fenwick. Our cunning plan, you see, was to enrage China to the point where they would cripple our lucrative export trade to them in return for, well, no particular benefit anyone can conjure, other than boasting rights. The Duchy, however, planned to engage in the US in battle, immediately lose, and reap US largess as a conquered nation. If only some of the kids in the PM’s office were as adept in writing satirical novels as they are alienating major trading partners in order to upset snowflakes for short-term political gain.
In a repeat performance of the US government’s negligence of their charges in aged care, so too did the Australian federal government fail to give any shits about their aging citizens in those commercially-profitable prisons. As this is written, in August 2021(!), aged care residents and aged care workers are still unvaccinated to a disturbing degree. In June the shits not given had hit the fan with a revelation that, according to Coalition steadfast habit, vaccinating this sector was outsourced away from an experienced and competent public sector. And like all Morrison government money-squandering thought bubbles, outsourced without much oversight to speak of.
The so-called “in-reach teams” being sent to nursing homes were not, as a matter of policy, vaccinating aged-care staff. The contractors were paid only to inoculate residents, and told to give any leftover doses to workers. It did not appear there were any new contracts on the horizon for a worker-focused vaccination drive.
“It didn’t make any sense,” one source who was at the meeting tells The Saturday Paper, “until we realised, they had to go back and ‘mop up’ the rest of the country’s aged-care residents who were still waiting for their first or second doses.”
In other words, there wouldn’t be any discrete program for aged-care staff. They would remain, as they had been since the start of the rollout, an afterthought.
In other scandalous behaviour from a government encouraged by both Moloch’s cheer squad and an inured population, the poster victims for an eternal off-shore gulag scheme for LEGAL asylum-seekers that has dragged on into the decades reentered the national headlines. A family of Tamils were peacefully living in country town in 2018 when, while STILL awaiting a decision on their status (but only since 2012), a swat team stormed their home at dawn and imprisoned them for no apparent reason other than the Immigration Department – cutely rechristened Border Farce – were bored. For three years now the family has been in gulag, most recently at a remote Christmas Island near Indonesia – and the lone inmates of the privately-run prison camp. One of the only reasons this farce continues is so the private global contractors continue to receive their $billions for running these incarceration-for-profit concentration centres. Obviously, refugees living in the community contribute nothing to the corporate bottom line.
What dominated the headlines last month? Vaccinations, or lack of them. Dedicated quarantine facilities for incoming overseas travellers, or lack of them. Both federal responsibilities, both abysmal failures.
Recently revealed, an “inexperienced” team negotiated with Pfizer and refused scientists’ advice to get 50 million doses, taking 10 million instead. The decision to was because, you know, we prefer “consultants” to advise us about public health measures and scientific research. Private global consulting firms – the Liberal Nationals government’s knee-jerk response to any decision.
So, around now Australia is LAST in the list of OECD countries for vaccination rate, and has just ONE quarantine facility – one that already existed. And has built none despite being urged to do so for, umm, TWO years.
Meanwhile the virus spends all its time trying to escape, and invariably succeeds, from hotel-quarantined travellers. Hotel quarantine doesn’t work, if only because there’s no positive pressure ventilation. Hence, no isolation. Just hope. Like on cruise ships.
The highly-transmissible Covid-19 Delta variant has found this to be a jolly good show.