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20 February 2014

by: Bob Ellis

Post-democratic times

If we still had an unmanacled press and lived in democratic times, the Abbott Government would be on its way out, writes Bob Ellis.

The headlines of the last few days ('Chaos', 'Turmoil', 'Recession') are like those that preceded the Whitlam sacking and it may be that the Redcliffe by-election will trigger events that bring Abbott down - or not - like the Bass by-election of 1975.

In such an onrush of dramatic probability, Abbott would sack Morrison, Brough and Pyne be accused of conspiracy, Truss withdraw from the Coalition, the Senate announce an Inquiry into Morrison's breaches of international law, the UN demand that Morrison stand trial for crimes against humanity and the Governor General order a Federal election to coincide with the Senate election in Western Australia.

This is what might happen, or would normally happen, if we still had an unmanacled press and lived in democratic times.

But these are post-democratic times.

No reporter, for instance, can ask a Manus policeman what happened or interview a witness of the killing of an Iranian man whose name is still secret, for some reason, or hear a description of the man who killed him. No other murder has been treated in this way in history; as a state secret; the equivalent of a Kings Cross king-hit murder is now a state secret. And Morrison's Orwellian gobbledigook in his last press conference yesterday, though it bespeaks a Government in meltdown and a Coalition in crisis - fighting like cats in a sugar bag in a river - will not presage a single resignation.

These are uncharted waters.

An economy being wrecked; warlike skirmishes with Indonesia nearing; Niugini likely to expel our cruel colonising tormentors of children from their shores; a U.S. Secretary of State denouncing our global warming policy; the Iranians condemning our record on human rights; a High Commissioner, Labor and competent, sacked and replaced by a fatuous tory suspected of war crimes; a Health Minister assisting the chocolate industry and misleading parliament; Australia derided world-wide and a thousand more days of this to come.

There has not been a worse Federal government in our history.

Like that of Bjelke-Petersen, it shows us to be a Bible-bashing, science-denying, children-torturing, gulag-flaunting mob of redneck, racist hoons that Michael Kirby would haul, if he could, before the World Court for eloquent condemnation.

And it gets worse by the day. Soon we will be without manufacturing industries, the first among developed nations. Then we will be in recession. Then, with no ABC, we will be a voiceless, flailing post-colonial calamity, like many in Africa, shovelling billions into the debt-maw of the IMF and hoping for the best.

And then our democracy will be over and our economy with it.

We should try to stop this happening soon, using our numbers in the Senate and the Governor-General.

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