A walk through the exhibits at “Between the Lines” taught me a lesson more Australians should learn.
Politics does not change! And cartoonists are brilliant at showing that lack of change!
TAXING THE RICH
Way back in 1908, the Fat Man was complaining about the Old Age Pension. “The Time Is Not R-R-RIPE!”
Nothing has changed today. An attempt at collecting some of the excess profits and spreading the wealth of our country is being met by today’s Fat Man (and Woman) saying, “Not now! This will remove all incentive for people to better themselves. The Time is Not Ripe! You are planning to remove the incentive for us to earn an extra couple of Billion dollars and this is so cruel and mean and evil! How dare you try to help people with OUR money”
I shall leave the readers to consider the many examples of fat men holding our economy to ransom.
And, like Caesar, to fear the lean and hungry old man!
FEAR AND THE LIBERAL PARTY
When Robert Menzies formed the Liberal Party I’m quite sure he did it with the very best and noblest of intentions. Yet he was able to win the 1949 election by creating fear within the electorate. Fear of those damnable Communists who were hiding beneath every bed in Australia. Stalin would rule. So Menzies’ 1949 election platform was to ban the Communist Party in Australia. This platform of fear was so successful that Menzies used it for more than two decades!
Eventually the Menzies era passed and the ALP eventually returned to power. Malcolm Fraser developed a plan to block Supply in the Senate. When the Whitlam Government began looking to non-traditional sources for the money to run the country Fraser “exposed” the Khemlani scandal. It could have been the Rockefeller scandal or the Swiss Bank scandal. What it was called was irrelevant. The fact was that by doing something which had never been done before, Fraser forced Whitlam to do something which had never been done before. And he then used the media to scare Australia into thinking Whitlam was consorting with criminals and that doing anything different was so scary it should never happen. Even though Fraser himself had done something so different that it threatened the future of democracy in Australia.
After the Hawke/Keating Governments had over-run their allocated decade-in-office, they were replaced by a Liberal Party Government led by a rather lack-lustre John Howard whose platform was simply to add a new tax to the burden already on the shoulders of Australians. Five years later the electorate was waking up to the effects of this unpopular new tax and were looking to throw John Howard into the sewers of history.
Two wildcards allowed Howard to play the by now traditional Liberal Fear/Hate platform. Firstly, a red-headed fish’n chip shop owner tapped into the latent racism within a large minority of Australia. At least, I HOPE it is a minority. Secondly The Twin Towers were destroyed on the opposite side of the world. Suddenly Everyone of a slightly browner skin than the white Anglo-Saxon Australian was an enemy!
Geoff Pryor summed up the situation on a number of levels with this cartoon in which the bearded talking head could be easily interchanged with a fat-lipped pair of glasses!
This was followed by the increased terror instilled in the entire flock by the head rooster as seen by SMH cartoonist Alan Moir.
And then the clinching argument. How fearsome are these illegal nasty terrorist boat-people who even throw their own children overboard! This was possibly one step too far as the silliness of this fear campaign was recognised by a substantial minority of the electorate. In some ways, it became a joke.
Now we have the arch-bully Tony Abbott unashamedly using fear of everything with no hint of reality as a very successful vote-winning tactic. Should we be surprised? This is the tactic which took the three previous Great Liberal Leaders to power and kept them there.
Possibly there is a difference this time. In the past the Liberal Party has had a policy base to keep the faithful on-side. The fear was an adjunct to the policy. There seems to be a simple approach to the next election by the current Liberal Party. Create the fear, win the election then worry about the policies.
The scariest thing about Abbott was neatly summarised by Tasmanian cartoonist Jon Kudelka. Just what does “No” really mean?
So yes, Tony Abbott has succeeded. I am now very fearful for the future of my country. Yet I know the cartoonists will be there to chronicle the decline and fall of what could have been a great nation!