Abbott's budget does away with 'fair go'


Jo di Pietro gave the following speech to a “bust the budget” meeting organised by Unions NSW in Sydney on June 12.


I am a technical officer in the NSW Public Health laboratories at Lidcombe (otherwise called FASS) and a proud member of the Health Services Union.

NSW Health has decided to privatise food safety testing, to tender it to the private sector, so the government can distance itself from food safety work, and ultimately from its responsibility to the public.

The state and federal governments are eating away at our services. For example, the ongoing pressure on state public health services will be made worse by the federal government’s recent budget. Patients will be cost-shifted away from GPs funded by the federal Medicare system, to state-funded hospital emergency departments whose budgets are already stretched and where cost-cutting has already begun.

When I was asked to speak here I was handed a recent media release from a man I never thought I would be quoting, former Liberal leader John Hewson. He said: “The land of the fair go is disappearing. I don’t think we should just let it go without understanding how it has happened and what the consequences are – for all of us. ”

For a fair go there needs to be empathy for other people. Roslyn Arnold, writing in the New Philosopher magazine, said: “There is a cost to empathy. Empathy relies on the belief that it is worth quelling some self-interest in favour of higher-order gains such as enriching relationships, harmony, just outcomes, and constructive social processes.”

Coalition governments are always happy to trash social cohesion in favour of their right-wing philosophy.

Coalition policies are not conservative. Can we please stop calling them “conservative”? What are they conserving? The environment? Our society? Australia’s international independence? The fair go?

Was Work Choices a conservative policy? No. It was a radical policy. What the Coalition is really conserving is the bank accounts of its corporate mates.

The Coalition should be called what it really is: a right-wing hatemonger.

I am here today because I still believe in the fair go. That is why I have been a union member for over 20 years. This federal budget is not about conserving anything. It is about a radical transformation of our society and our country into the future. And not for the better.

This budget must be fought by standing together as family, as friends, as community, and as union. We can defend the fair go for everyone.

Above all, we must not allow ourselves to be patronised by statements like “this budget shares the pain”. This is an obscene lie that exceeds all the election lies of the Coalition.