Racist Garbage: Frankly, Adam Goodes Can Go To Hell

NAUSEATING finger-shaking over football crowds booing Sydney Swans player and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes hit a disgusting new low this week, with media railing against “racist” slurs on Goodes, Twitterati stating #IStandWithAdam, and the AFL making a typically vapid stand on racism in his name. Goodes chose to humiliate a young girl, making her a national target of vilification. He can go to hell if he resents the fallout.

One of the biggest problems with the compassion babblers and finger shakers and their cohorts in the politically correct bleeding heart bullshit industry is that they lie in wait, like an ambush party, just itching for an “issue” to appear so they can punch their “values” down the throats of the rest of the population: and when such an “issue” inevitably materialises they run off half-cocked, missing the point, and arguably doing far more damage than the “issue” they claim to be standing on does in the first place.

It’s become a modern retort against these people that one of the things they do is to start a hashtag — a tool for grouping like-minded comment and output on social media site Twitter — and the most recent misguided, factually incorrect, politically motivated example of it was the cretinous #IStandForMercy campaign, which purported to advocate for executed Bali Nine filth Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, but which instead amounted to no more than a fictitious but savage personal and political assault on Prime Minister Tony Abbott and, by extension, his government.

Now, they’ve latched onto the fact that football crowds over the past year or so have shown an increasing tendency to boo Sydney Swans player and 2014 Australian of the Year Adam Goodes — and as usual, the noisy, visible campaign they have engineered very conveniently ignores the reason for it, which has nothing to do with racism at all: just the fact that, to put it bluntly, Goodes is a hypocrite and a dickhead who, stereotypically, can dish it out but he can’t take it.

I will talk about Goodes in a moment. But first — seeing politics and football have intersected on this issue — I want to talk about my own club, Carlton.

We have a long and proud tradition of having Aboriginal players at Carlton, beginning with one of the first to ever play the game at the senior VFL/AFL level: Syd Jackson, who played 136 games in the 1970s, and who is rightly revered at Carlton as a dual premiership hero and much-loved icon of our club.

More recently, four of our best players — Andrew Walker, Eddie Betts, Jeff Garlett and Chris Yarran — have come to Carlton from Aboriginal backgrounds.

Betts has gone to Adelaide, and gets booed when we play the Crows: not because he is black, and not simply because he crossed the Rubicon to play at a rival club, but because his departure stemmed from Betts putting a ridiculous price tag on his own head as the cost for staying at Carlton, which was (in the view of supporters and, it seems the club hierarchy) unjustified based on his inconsistent but patchily awe-inspiring output as a small forward and goalsneak.

Most players who go to other clubs, in AFL fan culture, get booed. Just because they do. There’s nothing cerebral to it and certainly nothing racist about it.

Garlett has gone to Melbourne with the best wishes of Carlton fans: not because we are pleased to see the back of a black player, but because like Betts, the gap between “Jeffy” at his best and his worst was cavernous: a fresh start for the player at another club was probably in the best interests of both Garlett and Carlton — and this is a story that plays out at every club at one point or another.

Walker frustrates because, like Garlett, he is inconsistent: but unlike Garlett, he has been far more consistent over 13 seasons than Garlett was over six; and Yarran is widely touted as “trade bait” at the end of this season: not to get rid of a black player, but because there is a sense that the supremely talented, exquisitely skilled, lightning-fast Yarran simply doesn’t fit the club as it begins a total rebuild of its playing list, and that he might fare better — and gain more personally — at a club in premiership contention, which Carlton most certainly is not.

The point is that our members and supporters (who, admittedly, boo Goodes, like everyone else) are not racist and in fact, have embraced Aboriginal players like so many other clubs have done; for whatever reason, these players seem to boast grace and power and speed and skill in levels that are disproportionate with their caucasian counterparts; and far from being a difference that elicits prejudice, the Aboriginal players are revered.

Stories like those of our Aboriginal players at Carlton and the vaulting esteem in which they are held can be found at virtually every AFL club these days, and any booing that goes on (which, to be clear, is something that non-indigenous players get singled out for, too) is never racially motivated: Aboriginal players get the same treatment from football crowds as everyone else does — which is as it should be — and if they get booed at all, they have done something specific to warrant it.

Were it racially motivated, then every Aboriginal player would be booed every time they set foot on a football field which, quite clearly, they are not.

Many of them are names that bring people to football games just to see them play. And until very recently, one of those names was Adam Goodes.

Miranda Devine, writing in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph today, sets out the case against Goodes with a clarity that is sorely lacking among some of her contemporaries, including at her own newspaper: and she also sets out the mythical “redneck man” supposedly responsible for a crusade against Goodes, which is said to be racist, bigoted, and based on nothing more than the colour of his skin. Nothing could be further from the truth. I urge everyone to read Miranda’s article today.

Back in 2013, Goodes was instrumental in singling out and publicly shaming a 13-year-old girl who had called him “an ape” at a Sydney vs Collingwood match she attended with her grandmother, and whilst there may have been racial overtones to the sledge, the very culture of football blurs the line in positively determining that the comment was in fact racist: and in any case, Goodes’ behaviour over the incident was so far over the top, excessive, and out of all realistic proportion as to defy belief that even a passionate advocate against racism and Aboriginal disadvantage could lower himself to indulge in it.

Australian football — a game where “gorillas” are prized on team lists because of their size, power and capacity to physically intimidate opponents — itself blurs the line over whether “an ape” might be a racist characterisation, or at least in part another variety of a “gorilla;” one multiple premiership coach was revered for playing “mongrels” on every line, and this reference to dogs was never leapt upon by the sanctimony brigade in outrage in the way a young girl’s taunt that Goodes was “an ape” was.

But let’s just set aside the cultural references within the game itself that might have led an impressionable kid to think calling Goodes “an ape” was acceptable, and look at his response.

As Miranda notes, Goodes could see this kid was very young — he guessed 14, when in fact she was even younger than that.

Yet that didn’t stop him from demanding the AFL’s rent-a-cops single her out, march her from the grandstand, after which she was held and presumably interrogated for more than two hours, until beyond midnight, whilst separated from her grandmother.

The girl must have been absolutely terrified. Goodes is not a stupid fellow. He did not come down in the proverbial last shower. He knows how the AFL works. He must have had at least some inkling of how AFL officials would respond once he sooled them onto her.

In this era of live telecasting of AFL matches against the gate — and especially a high-profile clash between power clubs like Sydney and Collingwood — the entire demeaning episode, including the girl being frogmarched out of the stadium by the AFL’s goons, was beamed live around the country to a TV audience numbering in the millions.

Yet not content with this success, and apparently driven by a total disregard for the emotional welfare of a 13-year-old child who had already been nationally shamed, Goodes fronted the media the following day to declare that “racism has a face, and it is a 13-year-old girl.”

To do this — in spite of the humiliation and vilification that had been heaped upon her the night before, and with the apparent forethought suggested by having taken the time to consider what he would tell the press when they next asked him about it — speaks to Goodes, despite whatever else he might be, being a prick: nothing more, nothing less.

I don’t condone racism for a moment, and certainly not in professional sport. But this episode, by Goodes’ own actions, represents something else entirely.

The girl subsequently apologised to Goodes and wrote him a letter, but the damage was done: and whilst Goodes did and does enjoy the shelter of not just the AFL community but of the entire grandstanding, moralising, finger-waving lobby of Chardonnay drunks and social campaigners who are just looking to destroy people in the name of the causes they are obsessed with — to the total exclusion in most cases of any sense of decency, balance, or common sense — this young kid, who herself comes from a severely compromised background as the disadvantaged child of a single mother on a disability pension, had nobody to defend her and no voice of mass reach to counter the malicious onslaught Goodes’ apparently carefully considered words unleashed.

I am sick of hearing about Adam Goodes, and so are an awful lot of ordinary, decent, unbigoted people.

I personally don’t boo Goodes when I see him at the football, although I am also intellectually honest enough — unlike the PC chatterati set driving the “Adam has been racially vilified” bandwagon — to know there is nothing racist behind it. Not now. He was complicit in trying to destroy a little girl’s world in retaliation for one poorly chosen remark at a football game. He should, in fact, be ashamed of himself.

The fact he claimed late in the week to be unable to play football at the weekend because the controversy around being booed by crowds had all become too much for him to cope with is a claim that, regrettably, cuts no ice where I’m concerned.

Racially provoked or not, Goodes’ response unleashed consequences on the girl that were out of all proportion, unjustified and unjustifiable, and which could cause permanent psychological damage to someone who arguably wasn’t even old enough to fully comprehend what she had done wrong, let alone be a suitable target for making an example of her on a national stage.

But Goodes can’t handle the fact that the episode has directly led to football crowds viewing him very, very poorly.

He’s had AFL matches at the weekend all making faux stands against racism — ostensibly in his name — because people dare to hold him to account, the only way they can, for the frightful and malevolent approach he took to a 13 year old child, for goodness’ sake.

He’s had journalists and opinion makers all over the country coming out of the woodwork, suggesting anyone who dares to boo Goodes — or even to criticise him at all — is, unambiguously, a racist and a bigot, wildly generalised and thoroughly misguided statements that should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve.

He’s had the army of do-gooders on Twitter who ache for causes to shame and pillory and crucify people over tweeting that #IStandWithAdam which, presumably, means they fully sanction what he did to that poor girl.

The vengeful bent of reprisal that drove Goodes that night does not speak to a fair, forgiving or even reasonable mindset, whatever the provocation.

And the low regard in which he has subsequently been held by a solid portion of both the football public and the wider community is something for which he only has himself to blame.

Nobody forced Goodes — who, again, would have had a very clear idea of the likely fallout — to shame and humiliate that kid, and make her life a living misery in front of a national audience and abetted by the finger-shakers whose instincts are to destroy, rather than to heal or to reconcile.

That he now can’t handle the response — or if he doesn’t like the fact that the character his actions ultimately shredded was his own, not that of the girl in question — is of little interest, and no cause for sympathy, let alone the imbecilic outpouring that has taken place in recent days.

If you’re just a dickhead, you’re just a dickhead: and as far as I’m concerned, that particular shoe fits Adam Goodes. It has nothing to do with the fact he’s black.

If Goodes doesn’t like the fact those who once admired him now harbour nothing but contempt, he will just have to get over it; and the fact decent people without a racist bone in their bodies refuse to forgive the retaliatory experience he inflicted on a child does not constitute racism in any way — rather, the total horror that anyone would find it appropriate to put the poor girl through what Goodes, knowingly, saw fit to put her through at all.

And to date, no apology for that has been forthcoming.

In short, Adam Goodes can go to hell. And if he wants to complain any more about his lot where these issues are concerned, the hitherto slavering press pack ought to tell him to tell his story walking.

There are plenty of other Aboriginal identities who make excellent role models for their communities, and good Australian people from other backgrounds embrace them openly, as they once did Goodes.

If Goodes is no longer regarded by many people as one of them, there is nothing “racist” about it.

 

Dedicated Aboriginal Seats In Parliament? Absolutely Not

HOT ON THE HEELS of a nuclear attack on China, touting on Hobart radio for a man with a huge penis and sharing too much information on the unkempt state of her pubic mane, idiot Senator Jacqui Lambie has put her latest idea on the table: the creation of reserved seats in Parliament for Aborigines. Far from fostering social inclusion, the notion is radically divisive, and would harm the Aboriginal interests Lambie clearly thinks it would help.

There’s nothing wrong with going to Canberra to fight for what you believe in, or to represent the constituency that elected you.

But Jacqui Lambie is quickly showing — to the extent she represents anyone at all in the classic sense except for herself, and perhaps Clive Palmer — that what she believes in and what is in the best interests of the country as a whole are, by and large, mutually exclusive subsets.

We already know she thinks she should be Prime Minister, and we know that because she was naive and/or inexperienced enough not to know that running around trumpeting that kind of ambition is off-putting to many people.

Especially when you’re a rookie Senator and ineligible to serve in the post anyway without securing a seat in the lower house, at the very minimum: and winning electorates in the House of Representatives means cobbling together a majority of the two-party vote in one location, something even her boofhead leader could only manage by a couple of hundred votes, off a primary vote of just 26%, and despite throwing a fortune of his own money at the contest.

So it should probably come as no surprise that Lambie — who presented herself in her maiden speech to the Senate as a sixth-generation descendant from an Aboriginal ancestor (a detail disputed by some Aboriginal elders, in response to which she has refused to provide proof) — has taken it upon herself to call for indigenous representation to be embedded in federal Parliament by way of dedicated seats for Aboriginal representatives.

As reported in Sydney’s Daily Telegraph last night, Lambie claims that “3 to 4 percent” of the population being Aboriginal equates to nine seats in Parliament, which would break down for constitutional reasons as meaning three in the Senate and six in the House of Representatives. It isn’t clear whether these seats are meant to be included in or in addition to the existing numbers in federal Parliament, but such a distinction is actually irrelevant.

Even so, these seats might make it easier for Lambie to remain in Parliament when her term expires, as the Tele notes; despite standing under the banner of a high-profile and well-resourced minor party and at the top of its Senate ticket, Lambie polled just 6.4% of the vote in Tasmania last year, finishing fourth behind the Communist Party Greens — an outfit well and truly on the nose with voters nationally at that time.

And in terms of her designs on the Prime Ministership, moving into a reserved Aboriginal seat in the House of Representatives might get her into the lower house, but the small matter of forming a government (and a majority on the floor of the chamber) is a different proposition altogether: and with all due respect to her sincerity, I’d rate her prospects of doing so equivalent to the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell.

So the first point I would make is that if this suggestion is being offered up by Lambie to further her own prospects, it would be a complete waste of other people’s time to even consider it.

But if this really is intended as a contribution seeking to advance the cause of Aboriginal people generally, it is misdirected.

For one thing, coming as it does as the details of a future referendum on constitutional acknowledgement are being worked through, Lambie’s ill-considered proposal risks being too much too quickly: the merits or otherwise of Aborigines achieving more than a favourable referendum result notwithstanding, to lob this latest idea into the mix at such an integral point in that process represents overkill that could derail the entire thing — including the referendum — ensuring Aborigines achieve nothing.

For another, a few seats in Parliament aren’t going to change the lot of the Aboriginal community; government policies are, and the best avenue these people have to advance their interests is through working with whichever of the major parties best fits their outlook to formulate and execute legislation that will achieve those ends. If the desired approach is to be welfare-based, it will be the ALP; if it’s opportunity-based, it will be the Coalition.

By contrast, Jacqui Lambie and the huge chip on her shoulder — even with the backing of Clive Palmer — can offer virtually nothing.

And where this whole thing really falls to bits in my view has to do with a distaste that runs deeply in my DNA: the pandering to minorities, and the attendant handouts, goodies, and other special considerations shovelled out to minority interests to the direct and disproportionate cost of the majority of the people who live in this country.

In case anyone thinks I’m just picking on Lambie, I should quickly note she’s not the only person in the national arena trying to engineer handouts, quotas, or special favours for this constituency or that: the “wimmin’s lobby” as personified by the ghastly Emily’s List wants its 35% of everything for women (although to qualify as “female” in the jaundiced estimation of Emily’s List, membership of the hard political Left is also required); Labor “leader” Bill Shorten stood for the post on a platform of quotas for gays, lesbians, Aborigines, and God alone knows who else; some sections of the Left want special seats in Parliament reserved for certain migrant communities to reflect “diversity.” On and on it goes. Whether it’s money, or preferment, or seats in Parliament, it’s all a handout. The only difference is the format.

And in every case, the “silent majority” in Australia simply becomes more marginalised in its own country. These things aren’t inclusive, or conducive to promoting cohesion, or contrived to right a wrong — real, alleged or imagined.

Shovelling out preferment to minority groups becomes a self-perpetuating and self-destructive cycle; the more you shovel out, the less satisfied the recipients become with it and the more they want, so more largesse is shovelled out and the cycle continues.

Parallel to this, those who don’t fit into the compartmentalised box of one minority group or another simply grow angrier and more resentful. After all, these are generally the people footing the bill for the preferential treatment being doled out. And what does the majority receive for its trouble? Comparatively little, if anything at all.

(And before anyone counters with an argument about “middle class welfare,” it should be observed that it is the majority in the community that by and large pays for that too).

Handing any minority group in Australian society its own, special, reserved allocation of parliamentary seats is going to drive that resentment rather than redress anything. And in this case, what Lambie wants is hardly going to achieve anything for the Aboriginal community she claims to represent.

Lambie has suggested that special electorates allocated to Maori in New Zealand are “evidence” her policy would work, to which I say the suggestion is based on a false premise: New Zealand is a different country, with a considerably different political system, and in which race relations are an entirely different proposition to the situation that exists in Australia between Aboriginal people and other Australians.

In turn, this speaks to something else that readers know boils my blood: the usage by politicians of one set of “international standards” or another to justify something they either want or have done, often where little or no support exists for it. If New Zealanders thought it a good idea to flock to Melbourne so they could jump off the West Gate Bridge, should we all follow suit? Of course not. It might be a frivolous analogy but it still illustrates the point.

New Zealand doesn’t have an upper house of Parliament, but I don’t hear the self-interested Senator Lambie advocating we follow suit on that count.

In closing today, I make two points.

One, that Lambie exhibits a dangerous and developing characteristic of presenting herself as “an expert” on those issues she arrogates to herself as her own: I am very reliably informed, for example, that a lot of serving and retired military personnel are affronted by the fact this Army truck driver and military policewoman has had the temerity to parade herself as an authority on military and defence matters since her election, which her outbursts over China have shown her up as the fraud she is; now she seeks to replicate the act over Aboriginal affairs, and the “solution” she advocates shows just how little grasp she has of what might serve that noble people well, and what will further harm both their interests and their standing.

And two, there is already quite enough buying off of lobby groups, minorities, rent seekers, gravy train passengers and other constituencies going on in Australia, in one form or another, without adding to this insidious method of government even further.

The ordinary decency of good people — coupled with various politically correct laws foisted on an unwitting public by successive waves of governance by the Left — has meant that much of the hostility and resentment the mainstream majority community feels about such things is muted or often silent, but it is there. It would be a shame, and a disservice to Aboriginal Australia, if indigenous Australians were made the focal point of this ill-will by elevating them above every other section of the community by providing them their own dedicated parliamentary sinecure — which, at present, is not enjoyed by any other single group in Australia.

It is a grotesque irony that parties such as the one Lambie is a member of tend to spring up as a direct consequence of the very resentment the idea she is proposing would fuel.

Personally, I don’t care if self-interest is motivating Lambie on this issue, or whether she really is incompetent enough to think that what she advocates could be implemented without fuelling social discord.

But I’m certain of one thing: the last thing we need in this country is a carve-up of Parliament into sectional interest groups, be they based on race, gender, sexuality or whatever; the country has enough problems that aren’t being adequately dealt with as it is without wilfully adding to them, and without embarking on jingoistic misadventures that would almost certainly render more harm than good — and with unknown and unpredictable consequences, no less.

 

 

Disgraceful Racial Tokenism: Macklin Announces Aboriginal “NDIS”

MINDFUL the Gillard government is desperate, and sensing its panic — especially given the likelihood the budget will worsen its dire poll numbers — I’ve been watching for stunts and gimmicks as it tries something, anything, to claw back ground: enter the “First People’s Disability Network Australia.”

The Murdoch press reports this afternoon that Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin has announced $900,000 over three years for the “First People’s Disability Network Australia” to provide services to assist indigenous Australians to understand and access support from DisabilityCare Australia.

My response — to use the crude but blunt vernacular — is simple. WTF?

Jenny Macklin is a decent individual, and — despite her politics, which I detest — is normally one of the more reasonable figures on the ALP benches.

But she’s lowered her colours by getting in on this.

Why do Aborigines mandate $900,000 for their own disability network?

Why has the Labor Party opted to segregate — other than for the purposes of gimmickry — the benefits Aborigines will receive from the NDIS from those open to other Australians?

And why should anyone believe this is anything other than yet another cheap political stunt, pandering to minorities in an attempt to be seen, particularly by Greens voters, as bolstering Labor’s “credentials” on “social justice?”

If I were an Aborigine I’d feel patronised and insulted; as an Australian, I’m affronted by what is a clear case of more taxpayer money pissed up against a post on needless spending by a profligate government trying to curry favour in areas it thinks it can win votes.

Remember, Labor is still in the doghouse in some parts of the Aboriginal community over the railroading of former Olympian Nova Peris onto its Senate ticket in the NT at the expense of the far better-credentialled (and Aboriginal) Marion Scrymgour.

A statement from Julia Gillard claimed that her government was “committed to closing the gap for Indigenous Australians with disability.”

Which is fine, although it goes on to say “many Indigenous people are reluctant to identify themselves as a person with disability and often do not seek help with disability services.”

Surely this statement is applicable to Australians generally — not just Aborigines?

But  — again — the $900,000 in spending announced today is to provide services to assist indigenous Australians to understand and access support from DisabilityCare Australia.

Over three years.

Why are Aboriginal people less likely than anyone else to understand what support is available from the NDIS?

Why does the Gillard government effectively state it will take three years for them to understand this?

And far from rendering any meaningful progress in “closing the gap” on indigenous disadvantage, this “measure” tokenises Aborigines.

Its message, simply stated, is that Aborigines are too stupid to be trusted to work out for themselves what the rest of the country has the brains to discover on its own, and must therefore be singled out as desperate cases indeed.

The best part of a million dollars allocated to this is more a salve for Labor consciences and their do-gooder hangers-on than it is a valid expenditure of public money.

Then again, there’s nowhere too low for the Labor Party to stoop now; desperate and panicking, it will do anything — and this is a tasteless illustration of the type of tactics I think we’ll see an awful lot more of before 14 September.

Meanwhile, the ALP has also attempted to refloat its beloved “misogyny” issue today with a fracas erupting over a pairing request for backbencher Michelle Rowland, who has a sick child — initially refused and later agreed to by the Coalition — as it tries to stir up what trouble it can to deflect the extremely poor reception its budget has received thus far.

It is noteworthy Tony Abbott had nothing to do with the request and subsequent agreement to the pairing request.

Predictably, however, Labor types are running around the country, screaming “Tony Abbott just doesn’t get it,” with Julia Gillard stating the episode made “an absolute mockery of everything the Leader of the Opposition has ever said about working women.”

Perhaps it’s too indelicate to point out the decision on the pairing request was made by an opposition whip rather than Tony Abbott personally.

Then again — if you’re the ALP — the truth never gets in the way these days to talk about Tony Abbott and misogyny in the same sentence.

Such is its obsession with the retention of power — and its willingness to smear and destroy opponents on as personal a basis as possible (just ask Kevin Rudd) — that the ALP will say and do anything between now and the election to retrieve its dismal prospects.

Today has been another disgusting day of grubby Labor politics.

It is to be hoped, in his response to Wayne Swan’s budget tonight, that Abbott inflicts some real political damage on a government and a Prime Minister whose tenure cannot come to an end quickly enough when the national interest, rather than Labor’s, is the yardstick.

Fee-Free ATMs For Aborigines: Wayne Swan Gets It Wrong Yet Again

He’s done it again…Wayne Swan has provided more evidence, were any required, of how out of touch he is with community values; 76 ATMs in remote aboriginal communities will — from December — no longer charge transaction fees. The rest of the country, of course, will just keep paying.

An article appeared in the Fairfax press today, outlining the plan in which the 76 machines — spread across three states and the NT — will no longer charge customers for making withdrawals, balance enquiries, or other ATM transactions that otherwise would attract a fee.

These machines are located in some of the remotest aboriginal communities; often the inhabitants are poor, and have no choice of ATM provider when checking balances and whether benefits have been deposited and, if so, accessing those funds.

The plan sounds great: I’m sure it will make a great difference to aborigines in these towns who are more or less cut off from society.

And for the record, I am very happy for aborigines to have the benefit of this arrangement; it will save them a little money, and give them the sense of having a small win over the banks.

Yet this sort of thing makes me really angry; egotistical bubble of self-importance and Treasurer Wayne Swan — not content with his recent achievements in slugging it to “the rich” in the federal budget — is hailing this as a win for consumers. The scheme is being implemented by the banking sector on the recommendation of a joint Treasury and Reserve Bank task force.

Commenting on the scheme with Indigenous Affairs minister Jenny Macklin, Swan said: ‘‘Indigenous people and residents living in very remote communities often rely on a single ATM located in a community store owned by an independent ATM company to access their cash and check their account balance.’’

And The Age reports that thirteen banks and two independent ATM companies would do away with ATM transaction fees for their customers in “identified remote indigenous communities.”

I reiterate that I think it’s great that aborigines have got this deal; with some luck it will save them some inconvenience and a little money as they go about their lives.

The thing that incenses me about this announcement is that for tens of millions of Australians, this delivers nothing at a time of economic uncertainty and rocketing cost of living pressures; and it confirms Swan’s status — in the words of mining magnate Clive Palmer — as an economic pygmy when it comes to Swan’s dealings with the major banks on behalf of consumers.

Australia’s banks are raking in billions and billions of dollars in profits every year, and much of this comes directly out of the pockets of ordinary domestic consumers.

Many of these people are sensitive to movements in official interest rates, and the impact this has on their residential mortgages.

Over the past couple of years, they have grown accustomed to a few stern words being directed by Swan at the banks whenever they keep part of a cut, or pass on more than an official rise; but never more than that, and certainly never any action.

Now Swan comes out, all smiles, with a deal to abolish all ATM fees — for a few outback towns with perhaps, sight unseen, ten or twenty thousand people between them.

You see, the fact that it is aboriginal communities getting this deal — set up and brokered by Swan and his department — is unimportant on one level; it still leaves millions of people who will be slugged for using an ATM of any provider other than their own bank.

And can I just make the very obvious point that at times, even in urban areas, and even in places like here in inner Melbourne, people are often forced to pay ATM fees for the same reason — there is only one machine located within a reasonable distance.

Try getting money out at the MCG if you’re a Westpac customer — and try avoiding NAB’s withdrawal fee. There is no other machine within a 20 minute walk. It’s just an example, but by no means irrelevant or specious.

But on another level, the fact that it is aborigines receiving this deal is significant: it’s significant in the conceited little story the Labor government, through Swan where money is concerned, is attempting to construct, tell, and sell.

If you’re aboriginal; disabled; on welfare; a migrant; or from any other minority and/or disadvantaged group, this government is good at telling stories.

And as Swan proved in his recent budget, he too is adept at telling such stories.

There was a lot of fanfare about the ALP’s National Disability Insurance Scheme, with an impressive-sounding $1 billion aimed at the 400,000 Australians with permanent disabilities; the only catch is that in two years’ time — halfway through the period to which that money applies — just 5% of those 400,000 people are expected to have access to it.

So it is with this equally impressive-sounding, but similarly empty gesture aimed at aborigines; there are many, many indigenous people in this country who don’t live anywhere near 26 towns flung across three states and a territory who will get nothing from this, and a large number of those people have far more urgent needs of assistance than saving $2 at the local ATM.

You only have to get in a car and drive less than a mile or so from the centre of major regional towns like Broome, and Dubbo, and Kalgoorlie, to see aboriginal kids with their empty spirit bottles and petrol cans, passed out on the side of the road, to know that $2 at an ATM is the last thing they need.

These are just two examples among many that Swan and his colleagues have notched up in four and a half years in government.

And whilst a very small number of people will get some limited benefit from this latest initiative — just like the so-called NDIS — I would say to people in those groups and in those communities that far from helping you, this government is exploiting you; far from championing your issues and your causes, this government is tokenising them.

To the rest of the people who live in this country — who are being gouged at one end with usurious fees and charges, and ripped off at the other by the rocketing price of everyday essentials — a Treasurer who can’t stand up to the banking sector over interest rate rises, when it is pocketing billions of dollars in exactly the type of transaction fees he is trumpeting the waiver of in the initiative outlined here, is a joke.

Sadly, the fee-free ATMs for the rural communities involved present just another photo opportunity, just a little more spin and empty media space, and just another reason to send a press release; the official story is that the government is “helping,” but the reality is rather different.

And if anyone wants to defend Swan, or the government, over this latest half-baked initiative — saying “at least it’s a start” or something similar — I would respond very strongly that this is not “a start:” it’s just a stunt.

But then again, with this government and this Treasurer, it’s always just a stunt.

 

Comments must keep to the point; anything racist will be deleted as soon as I see it.