“Finally, you now have the chance to… KICK THIS MOB OUT.”
So read the headline of The Daily Telegraph the day after the announcement of the September 7 Federal election last year.
While The Daily Telegraph has not exactly been lauded as a bastion of impartial news reporting throughout its history, this now-infamous headline proved emblematic of the myriad concerns that have often been raised by observers of The Daily Telegraph’s Southern Star-spangled banner ads for the Coalition.
‘KICK THIS MOB OUT’ managed to go so far beyond unstated partisanship so as to verge on self-parody, and while any criticism of it has likely never penetrated the echo chamber of Rupert Murdoch’s mind, The Daily Telegraph and all its foibles have inspired us for the Foundation Day issue of Tharunka as we present to you our own war cry: ‘KICK THIS KNOB OUT’.
We are, of course, referring to our revered Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, and the government he currently leads.
And while in this issue you may find satire galore lampooning The Daily Telegraph and the current players in the political sphere, this year we also carry a serious message beneath the jokes: this government needs to go.
Because the Abbott government is fundamentally bad for the Australian people—or at least those who do not occupy a gilded perch in our increasingly stratified country.
Opinion polls, commentary, and water cooler conversations all around the country have spelt out the same resounding message after the 2014-15 Budget snaked out of its far right, neoliberal lair in May this year: this is the not the government that Australians signed up for.
In what ultimately amounts to no less than a violation of the social contract, the Abbott government has set out to extract promises with human blood, bleeding our planet dry in the process.
The new government mantra, it seems, is cough up or die coughing.
Because—make no mistake—people are suffering as a result of the government’s policies. Curiously, those most affected are already the most vulnerable in society, whether this is asylum seekers, Australians on the brink of or firmly ensconced in poverty, or Indigenous Australians for whom the average male life expectancy is lower than the new pension age of 70.
The last of these serves as a cruel reminder that this government cares more about arbitrarily bringing our Budget into surplus a few years early than it does about reducing the unconscionable life expectancy gap between the First Australians and the rest of Australia’s population.
If you see nothing wrong with this picture, you’re not looking hard enough. Not at yourself, and not at what is happening around you in the crooks and crevices of this country.
Two hundred and sixty years ago, Rousseau warned that we would be undone if we “once forgot that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody”, words this government would do well to remember as it proceeds in redistributing wealth towards the mining magnates and venture capitalists of this country.
Tharunka writer Matthew Davis has spent the last 11 months carefully compiling an exhaustive list of the Abbott government’s “achievements” in dismantling element after element of Australian society, a selection of which we’ve published in this newspaper. The list was so long that we could only publish less than half of it on two tabloid-sized pages, with the remainder of the list available online on the Tharunka website.
If we’re being honest, this list sickens us. It sickens us that such atrocities could be committed in our name, and it should sicken you too. Moreover, it should anger you.
In Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel, The Sun Also Rises, the character Bill Gorton asks Mike Campbell, a scion of a wealthy family, how he went bankrupt.
“Two ways,” says Mike. “Gradually and then suddenly.”
Revolutions, it is also said, come slowly and then all at once.
Hundreds of thousands of Australians are taking to the streets to protest against this government, and millions more making their voices heard online, in greater numbers than have been seen in decades of political protest. If the actions of this government make you angry, fight back.
It’s time to kick this knob out. Because, for once, there are very literally thousands of lives depending on it.
Ammy, with Freya and Jake