Prime Minister Tony Abbott had a really busy time last week, running around fighting fires before rushing back to his office to slash funds to those affected.
Between volunteering with the Davidson Rural Fire Service brigade to help fight the fires near the Blue Mountains and tightening eligibility requirements for bushfire victims to deny funds to those cut off from their homes, the poor guy must be absolutely exhausted.
Abbott probably hasn't been this tired since all that hard work he put in after he was first elected last month defunding or shutting down all government programs relating to investigating climate change and developing strategies to cope with what climate scientists say will be its impacts, such as much worse bushfires.
Of course, Abbott knows full well there is no connection between the fires and climate change ― his environment minister Greg Hunt looked it up on Wikipedia.
No wonder Abbott thinks executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, who said the fires were a sign of the doom and gloom the world faced if we fail to act, was talking through her hat!
Sure, Abbott assured us, he accepts the science that climate change is real (surely the environmental equivalent of “I'm not a racist, but...”), but what the hell would a leading UN official whose job is to analyse the impact of climate change possibly know about the impact of climate change, compared with a new government minister who glanced at Wikipedia's entry on bushfires?
Admittedly, Hunt does have an unfair advantage as, in general, academic standards preclude using Wikipedia — whose entries can be written and changed by any member of the public — as an actual source. So Hunt can happily cite Wikipedia, whereas if a climate scientist tried that, they'd be laughed out of a job.
With his unique sources, no wonder Hunt was so quick to slam Greens MP Adam Bandt when he connected the unprecedented October weather conditions that led to severe fire crisis and climate change. Hunt responded by saying “no one anywhere should seek to politicise any human tragedy”.
No, absolutely not, it is completely and totally unacceptable. Unless you are Tony Abbott in November 2009 responding to asylum seekers drowning after their boat sunk off the Cocos Islands by telling Fairfax Radio: “You look at this terrible tragedy that's unfolding in the Indian Ocean at the moment and you've got to say this is a comprehensive failure and it's all the prime minister's fault.”
Presumably, though, the key difference from the Liberals' point of view is that the bush fires were a “human tragedy”, whereas the boat sinking merely involved those who immigration minister Scott Morrison wants all public servants to refer to as “illegals”.
In response to criticism for trying to force public servants to refer to asylum seekers as “illegals”, Morrison said he was simply “calling a spade a spade”, which is confusing, seeing as, to be consistent, he should have said “calling a spade an illegal device most of which are not really for digging things at all like they claim but are in fact queue-jumping, welfare-bludging, people-smuggling economic migrants trying to steal our way of life”.
As it is not illegal to seek asylum, Morrison is instructing public servants to lie repeatedly. In other words, he is “politicising” the public service by forcing public servants to act like politicians.
But sure, I mean, if Gina Rinehart is a “miner” despite never having worked in a mine, and Abbott is the minister for women despite never having supported women's rights and Greg Hunt is the environment minister despite apparently never having read anything more on the science of climate change than a quick glance at Wikipedia, then fair enough, why not?
If that is the logic we are applying, fine, desperate people using their rights recognised and protected under international law to ask for asylum in our country are “illegals”. Much the same way as Liberal ministers are honest, decent human beings who do not rort parliamentary expenses in the course of their day-to-day activities as true servants of the Australian public and not in anyway as actually attack dogs of the mega-rich corporate elite plundering our resources at the expense of people and planet.
[Carlo Sands is performing at a Sydney Green Left Weekly fundraising show, The Yucky Country: Welcome to the Abbottoir, along with Michael Hing, Twiggy Palmcock and Hannah Gissane. The show is on Sat, Nov 9, 7.30pm, at Addison Rd Community Centre, Hut 9 theatre, Marrickville. Book tickets.]