Tell Nicola Everything!

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 Timothy Gow presents an interesting way to oppose the Big Brother data retention laws:

When the Canadian government attempted to pass data
retention legislation through parliament, the youth of Canada responded with
the twitter campaign #TellVicEverything.  A campaign telling Vic Toews, the relevant
minister for Public Safety everything they want to know!

This is an excellent idea. 
Nicola Roxon wants to know everything about our internet habits.  I say we take things one step further, and
tell her everything.   Jump on your twitter accounts and
#TellNicEverything about your day, your lunch, your gardening and your
hobbies.  Make sure the ALP knows it all.   Follow the Reveal it All twitter account, or
just search the #TellNicEverything hashtag and get to work.   Send all your emails to nicola@nicolaroxonmp.com and give
them what they want so badly!

Spare no details, and get the tag trending.  Let’s send a positive message to the ALP that
we want them to stay out of our private business.

TellNicEverything

Timothy Gow is a 21 year old politics and international relations student at the University of Canberra.

Paint it Blue – Queensland and the ACT

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Timothy Gow looks at the coming ACT election:

Australians are embracing the coalition.  The Labor movement has failed to sell itself as any of a moderate neo-liberal party, a party of the worker, or a party of the environment.  Instead, it is being rejected comprehensively by the Australian people.  In New South Wales and Queensland, a year apart, we saw Labor Strongholds collapse while Liberals consolidated and expanded.  Labor voters were not turning to the Greens either, with their swing being mere fractions of the swings to the Coalition parties.

The painful damage of the Queensland election to the Labor party is still fresh in the media and the public’s minds.  The extent of the massacre is stunning, even to those who supported the LNP winners.  Two weeks ago, the talk was of 20-23 seats.  No one imagined they would not meet even half that number.  Federal Labor is already rationalising, clinging to the fiction that the election was solely based on state issues.  Even though she apparently accepts that the message of the Queensland election applies to her as well as state Labor, it is a fact that Gillard always viewed Bligh as a liability.  Perhaps she is in some ways relieved that the damage is done, the bloodletting is over, and that perhaps Queenslanders will be sated before the next federal election.

The 2010 federal election seemed to be an expression of uncertainty by the Australian people.  Though the Liberals gained and gained well, it has to be accepted that they were not embraced, especially not in the way that NSW and QLD were.  The coming election will tell a different narrative,  the story of a government of alliances versus a tenacious opposition, of carbon tax or no carbon tax, budget waste or budget cuts.  Assuming that the Gillard government survives its term, there will be another prelude to that show.  It will still take place in Canberra, but be fought on a more local level.

Onward goes the Show

The Australian Capital Territory will be holding its election in October.   The ACT is as much a Labor stronghold as any of those that fell to Newman and O’Farrell.  While the ACT is perhaps not the prize that New South Wales and Queensland are, it is an election that will be held closer to the federal election than they are, and will be a test of how Labor can defend its voter base.

Given that she Gallagher government is one that has failed its constituents in many ways, defending voters is certainly something that the ACT Labor government will be trying to do.  In addition to bringing forth a 181 million dollar deficit, policies which should form Jewells in the ACT Labor Crown are instead thorns.  The Gungahlin Drive Extension, a new major road connecting suburbs in Canberra, blew out severely.  It was promised to be completed by 2004, in 2001 and at a cost of 53 million.  Instead, it cost 200 million, and completed in 2011.  The ACT Labor government still had the guts to claim it was 2 months ahead of schedule.  The cotter dam, a key infrastructure project for Canberra water security, was costed at 120 million originally, but is now at over 300 million and counting

ACTION, the public bus and public transport service with exclusive rights to local bus routes in Canberra, costs every Canberra tax payer $321 dollars a year.  These buses break down every five hours (as noted in the Canberra Times).  ACTION is notorious for providing a poor and inconsistent service that is infrequent and unsatisfactory.  It has also been bogged down in multiple industrial disputes from unions. The waste is also on a smaller level.  One example is the $400,000 owl sculpture, or the $800 monthly phone bills spent by government staff.   All the while, public housing queues are growing, child care is incredibly expensive, elective surgery waiting lists are the longest in the country, and emergency waiting times are growing and growing.  The list, unfortunately, just goes on.  It is therefore a great opportunity to persuade Canberrans to vote for change, as Queenslanders did.

A Difficult Campaign

Canberra provides two very safe Labor seats federally.  This is merely reinforced locally by the fact that the Labor government gets campaign finance from gambling in their local clubs.  Despite finance reform achieved by the Liberals and Greens, the ALP has begun playing with the books to ensure the availability of large war chests for elections to come.   Such a well oiled machine with such a strong entrenchment means that victory in the ACT is all the more important, and would be all the more significant.

The Liberals are providing a good team with a focus on local government, local solutions and local concerns, and they are giving the territory the best chance it has had in a decade, of painting the city blue and returning sensible government.  The path to October is long and the political tussle will be tough.  Inevitably, it is the support of the people that wins the day in democracy.  Let the ACT follow NSW and QLD.

 

Timothy Gow is a 22 year old Politics and International relations student, and President of the Liberal Society at the University of Canberra.

 

Invasion Day – A Response

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Timothy Gow responds to those calling for Australia Day to be renamed "Invasion Day":

It’s 5pm on Australia Day as I begin this article.  A day ostensibly for celebrating what it means to live in a first world country, with a short albeit rich history, full of both great moments and bad.  No matter whom you are, so long as you are Australian, Australia day means something to you.  Maybe it’s the day in which you swore your allegiance to your new country, and received your citizenship.  Maybe it is the day you listen to Triple J’s hottest 100, or another excuse to party with your friends, to watch the cricket, or the tennis, or relax.  It is supposed to be a day where we remember our greatest value; freedom.  I think it is important to note that nothing about these things is political.  Even Freedom, a contested topic in its own right, is something most Australians are demonstrably in favour of.  It should therefore be, a happy day, a day immune to the tug of war between those who blindly hate this country, blindly love it, and those in between.  Yet, it is not.

Race Riots and Responsibility

Yesterday, Tony Abbott, leader of the Federal Opposition and Julia Gillard, Prime Minister of Australia were chased by protesters from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy.  This dramatic event led to our nations PM being tackled, and 50 riot police engaging in an evacuation operation, as protesters cried ‘Shame, Racist’ and intimidated their targets; the Nations two leaders.

The reason for this is allegedly a response to Tony Abbott.  The Opposition leader suggested that the Aboriginal Tent Embassy may need to be taken down.  Given he was near Old Parliament house (location of the Tent Embassy) at the time, this is apparently grounds for a spontaneous march.  Later, a member of the protest went so far as to blame the whole event on Tony Abbott;

"What he said amounts to inciting racial riots."

So it is daring to express your view, to have an optimistic and positive outlook on the future of the Aboriginal people within Australian society pins to you responsibility for race riots.  I may be wrong here, but it seems to me that these people have a poor view of all Australians, including Aboriginals, that rioters are not to have responsibility for their own individual actions, and that they are not in control of their own anger, own aggression, that it would be Tony Abbott’s fault if they were to engage in rioting. 

This is an outrageous rejection of our liberal democratic values, of individual responsibility, and of the freedom to express.  Nobody denied the Tent Embassy its right to express itself, and Abbott’s comments did not call for, nor promise a future forcible closure of their operation.  Tony Abbott did not dare the crowd forth, nor did he design or demand the police response.  Abbott merely did his job, and to many Australians he represented their views.  You do not have to agree with him, that would be nonsensical, but to respect his views is not so inconceivable.  It is not racist nor violent, nor inciting racist sentiment to compliment the progress of Aboriginal rights and to suggest an end to the old approach as well as to seek a new one.

But maybe it’s because today is not just any day, it is a day hated by some.  It is a day known as ‘Invasion Day’.  It is apparently so abhorrent to love the great things about life in Australia that we must ignore them, be ashamed by them, and be daunted entirely by the worst aspects of our short history.

Twitter is hardly the fairest summation of the national mood, but yet, it is a soapbox for the vocalisation of short, puncturing views from across the spectrum.  Here are a few anonymously adjusted tweets about our great day;

“Australia Day marks the invasion of the Aboriginal homelands by Europeans & the beginning of one of the most horrifying genocides in history”

“See Tony, your off the cuff comments do have consequences. Think about it. #tentembassy #australiaday

“Tony Abbott wants to make 26 Jan Shut-up-about-the-Invasion Day”

Let’s be Optimistic

Though I would personally find it disappointing, there is absolutely nothing inherently wrong with disliking this country; there are undoubted spots on its legacy.  There is no denying from any Australian, least of all Conservatives, that Australia lacks a perfect record.  We are not the perfect nation, but nor are we a beast of horror.  We suffer the blessings of riches, freedoms and diversities not enjoyed in much of the world.  It is remembering these things that inspire people to don flags as capes despite the controversies, to seek our citizenship, to pursue excellence in sport, science, and art.  To be an Australia day Grinch, is not to be ‘indy’, or ‘edgy’, or even a bleeding heart lefty, flying the flag of equality in the face of the horrors of capitalism.  It is to make the same mistake you accuse of those of us who dare to enjoy a holiday in this nations own honour.  It is to forget one side of history, and remember the other only.

If anything, today should be a day that is not politicised, but enjoyed by all.  If you spend a quiet moment to honour the Aboriginals who suffered in the past, the soldiers who died to protect us, the freedoms you have that others do not, your god, your family and friends, or anything else about this country that you love or hate; that is your right to do so, and good for you.  For those who reject the fun, though, it is not our responsibility to quit our own values or abandon our own fun, to apologise for the things that bother you.  Not because what you view as wrong with this country is necessarily wrong or of less value than what I love about it.  It is because I believe in a society of equal opportunity.  I would fight for it through courts, ballots, and debate.  That includes eliminating disadvantage, wherever it may lie in the system, based on race, culture or creed.  Australia day does not interfere with this belief, it should be and theoretically is about the good things, the great things about this country.

In short; relax, have a beer, and stop ruining it for the rest of us.  We celebrate today, but we have not forgotten the bad.  Everyone left and right, who is politically active, seeks to correct the mistakes of the past with the right decisions into the future.  Australia day is about the optimism.  It is about the great future we could have, that we all believe in, and the great things about our past we know and love.

Timothy Gow is a 21 year old politics and international relations student at the University of Canberra.

A Test of Character for the True Believers

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Australian needs to once again lead the world in deregulation, argues Timothy Gow:

‘Life is not meant to be easy’ said Malcolm Fraser as he illustrated the point made by Arnold Toynbee that civilisations rise and fall based on the manner and character of their responses to great challenges.  Protectionism may or may not once again become a great challenge to western civilisation, but it is here and its proponents wear the cloaks of the left and the right.

While the things that bring down great civilisations may make this one seem trivial, it is good to keep that worldview in mind when observing this anachronistic resurgence of protectionism.

The choice of words uttered by Paul Keating as he stood triumphant over John Hewson’s well meaning albeit doomed ‘fightback!’ policy were;

“This is a victory for the true believers; the people who, in difficult times have kept the faith”.

Fraser and Keating may not agree with my specific use of their words, but it was with the end of Hewson that we saw the beginning of the end of Australia’s policy golden age.  Menzies, Fraser and the Hawke/Keating governments had brought Australia a prolonged period of relatively sensible government.  The deregulation decade of the 80’s demonstrated to Australians that there was no room for protectionism, that wealth comes from trade, and Economic Rationalism was not foreign to either Labor or Liberal governments.

Australia was among world leaders in free markets as it developed free trade agreements with multiple major partners, scaled back import tariffs dramatically; introduced sweeping policies of deregulation, dollar floating, mining expansion and many others.  Our reward today is that Australia counts among the OECD’s top countries to live in.

As John Howard came into government he kept the faith.  Despite what Keating may tell you, Howard did indeed have a progressive reform agenda, with a legacy of GST, a free trade agreement with the USA, and of course, eliminating net debt which ended an 8.5bn annual interest payment left by Keating.  It was only reminiscent of ‘Fightback!’ when Work Choices was rejected, the last great domestic deregulatory move of any Australian government.

Since Howard left office, the latest two governments have roared about reform.  Kevin Rudd dreamed of an Asian EU, the NBN, a Mining ‘Super-profits’ tax and an ETS, and now Julia Gillard waves the same flags, but also with a Carbon Tax.

You don’t have to play spot the difference here.  Howard’s GST simultaneously ended multiple taxes; furthermore, the revenue was not absorbed by the federal government, but the state governments.  The latest Labor government has proposed new taxes for the federal government and engaged in populist protectionism with live export bans.  It has clearly fumbled the ball on Australia’s capitalist dream run.  Keating may be known in the next generation as the only Labor deregulator, the only true believer.

You can turn it into a war of words about debt, or Labor waste, as the Liberals consistently and rightfully do.  On a policy level however, it may mark the beginning of a dark age for Australian politics.  We may once again have to argue against the archaic points for protectionism, instead of driving the Australian economy forward.

Despite the fact that free trade economic arguments were victorious once, we now face a new battle in an old war.  As young Australians, we should encourage the debate on free trade, deregulation and capitalism.  We are correct, and we will win those debates.  The numbers are with us. 

The most successful post-Soviet economy is Estonia who deregulated and under a watchful centre-right government and began an economic surge that may just earn them OECD membership, while neighbouring Lithuania, with a similar starting point but a divergent policy path languishes. 

It is rich, capitalist Taiwan that houses corporations when once they massed along the assembly line.  Indeed, Taiwan may just be a looking glass into what a modern East Asia may look like when or if they supersede the USA and the economic hub of the world.

Of course, these are not exceptions, but examples.  Facts tangled in the web of spin and grabby rhetoric that inevitably dominate the modern political scene. 

Deregulation is about practical reform.  It is about what works.  It has worked, and will work again and while it might be the right wing who champions this, the left is capable of it.  Keating taught us that much.  Australians have the will to elect pro-free trade governments and to keep them there.  Something the rabidly unpopular Labor government of today forgets.

Though the coalition is the sensible choice of free traders, maybe the first step is simply electing the Greens’ and Bob Katter’s hands out of the cookie jar.

There is no reason Australia cannot once again be a world leader in deregulation, but who can once again inspire the spirit of the true believer in the Australian people?

In difficult times, we must keep the faith.

Timothy Gow is a 21 year old politics and international relations student at the University of Canberra.