Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Shit does happen - and this time it really is shit: Tony Abbott's proposed cuts

There is plenty of criticism that could be leveled at Tony Abbott's speech today about how he would cut the budget to pay for QLD's flood/cyclone recovery, however I want to focus on just one aspect because it really does highlight the hypocrisy of Liberal Party policy and the sort of Howard-esque Dog-whistle politics that we've come to know and love from the Liberal Party.

The cuts to foreign aid to Indonesian schools to the tune of $400m is a shallow attempt at garnering a good talk-back radio rant. The slimiest part of this is the attachment of the policy to the phrase "charity begins at home" implying that this necessarily entails the charity ends there too. Combined with a hint of "giving money to foreigners when Aussies are struggling", it's a perfect concoction to garner good talk-back radio ranting somewhere along the lines of "we need to rebuild our schools that have been devastated in the floods, rather than send money over there" - although it would undoubtedly delivered with some reference to funding Muslim madrases or some other straw man.

And here is where the irony lies. Firstly, the aid package was designed to combat fundamentalism - clearly in Australia's (and Indonesia's) interests to enhance national security. Secondly, It really is in Australia's interests to give aid to Indonesia generally. A stable, democratic, prosperous Indonesia helps us much more than the sort of savings a simple cutting of aid would provide; and ultimately, a stable, prosperous and democratic Indonesia is more likely to be able to address people-smuggling (that obsession of the Libs) within its borders.

"Stop the Boats" indeed...

Aid is an easy target and the $400m-odd saving is one-half of bugger all of government spend. One would hate to think that this policy is a cynical dog-whistle to draw attention away from the other less palatable cuts and deferrals in the policy, and give Tony a good talk-back dog-whistling response.

Pity #shithappened got in the way of all that....