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Issue #1749      September 21, 2016


The national broadcaster is always under pressure to take commercials as a way to make up for government funding cuts. At least that’s the line being pushed by the representatives of vested interests who see the ABC as a profit opportunity. Thus, last month it was revealed that the ABC has struck a sponsorship deal with the vitamin pusher Swisse, which was announced as a “foundation partner” in its international media service Australia Plus. An ABC media announcement stated that “Australia’s leading natural health brand” would see “ABC International highlight the work of … Swisse” in its respective field. As it happens, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has previously found the company misled customers, a development that rang alarm bells with health experts. The ABC’s own program Checkout has lampooned Swisse for making unproven claims, with that program’s executive producer calling the Swisse deal “an appalling lack of judgement”.

The Victorian government has had the gumption to permanently ban fracking and all exploration and development of unconventional onshore gas. Unlike its federal counterpart, the Andrew government has reacted to the opposition to the destruction of the environment and farmland caused by the insatiable pursuit of profit by big miners who were able to enter farm land without permission. Most properties, both farm and urban, have a Lock the Gate campaign sign on them, and many towns have a “lock the gate” sign at their entry.

In the economic rationalist drive in the 1980s and ‘90s tariff barrier protections for industry and by extension jobs, was accompanied by a move away from centralised wage fixing, greater casual and part time work leading to a fall in household incomes. The deregulation led to lower wages, poorer job security and increasing numbers unemployed: self-provision in the free market. The economic rationalist argument went that those who were forced to carry the burden would be compensated through the tax and welfare systems. In this smoke-and-mirrors conjuring act everyone thereby benefited. Now Treasurer Scott Morrison is even rubbing out that illusion, moving forward in “budget repair” to refer to those who shouldered all the lifting as the “taxed not” and those who did the leaning – the parasitic corporations – as “the taxed”.

While still on Morrison and the lifters and leaners, his big, scary, speech warning of a trillion-dollar national debt, he stated that this term of the government was the “tipping point” that future generations will be “saddled with”. He conveniently ignores the real tipping point, that we have reached 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, the first time in the planet’s history. The national debt scenario pales into insignificance in the context of the government’s response to global warning, a stance objectively aligned with the climate change deniers in the Liberal Party (former PM Tony Abbott’s “climate change is crap” and “coal is good for humanity”). There will be no grandchildren on a dead planet.

Next article – Culture & Life – Mother Theresa and Mike Baird

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