“A fair go” could be Australia’s motto.
It’s a phrase that’s uniquely Australian, and one on which we pride ourselves: Fair go, mate!
There are other versions that nobody but an Australian would understand: “Fair dibs”, and of course “Fair suck of the sauce bottle”, but they all mean roughly the same thing.
Fairness, and balance.
A national poll a few years ago showed that 9 out of 10 us think “a fair go” is important. It’s a simple way of summing up most of the things which, when we’re polled, we say are most important : Health, Education, Employment, the cost of living, and more generally the Economy.
We understand, as Australians, that that’s what a fair society is about. A fair society is one where you look after the sick. A fair society is one where you look after the old. A fair society is one where you care for the young, and they get the best education possible. In a fair society everybody would like to be rich, but nobody wants to be rich if it means that the sick get sicker, we neglect the old, the poor get poorer and we endanger our children’s future. Wealth is nice, but not wealth at any price, and not if there isn’t a fair go.
We understand, as Australians, that sometimes times are tough and sometimes they’re easy, but a fair go means that if we’re “doing it tough”, then everybody’s doing it tough, not just some.
In particular, not just the battlers.
“Mate, if we’re doing it tough then everyone deserves a fair go, especially the battlers.”
That is fair dinkum Australian.
Which is why it’s so hard to understand what’s happening in Australian politics right now.
Because we’re not doing it tough, not everyone is getting a fair go, and stone the bloody crows, the people who are getting the worst deal are the battlers!
What the hell is wrong?
All of the national and international statistics show that we’re not doing it tough. In fact, compared to practically everybody else in the world, we’re doing it easy. In a recent visit, Andrew Neil laid out his summary of our economy, and Treasurer Joe Hockey agreed with him. Andrew Neil is former editor of the Sunday Times, founder of Sky TV News, and publisher of The Spectator. He compared Australia to the other members of the G20.
Let’s remember that the G20, of which we are a member, represent 85% of global GDP, 75% of global trade, and two thirds of the world’s population. It isn’t everyone, but it’s most of those who matter economically.
Neil pointed out that there isn’t a single other country in the G20 that can match our economic statistics, and Joe Hockey agreed:
- A budget deficit of less than 3% of GDP
- A national debt that’s only 23% of GDP
- Twenty two years of continuous growth
- Unemployment less than 6%
- A strong currency
- Massive mineral resources
In other words, there may be one or two countries who are better on one measure or another, but taken all together, nobody in the G20 can match us. Nobody. And Joe Hockey agreed.
Economically we are the luckiest country in the G20, and hence probably the world.
That is not doing it tough, by any measure. Quite the opposite.
We are in a better position than just about anybody else in the world to create a fair society. I won’t bore you with more statistics, but we actually spend significantly less than most comparable countries on pensions, health care and other social benefits. There are some graphs at the end of the article.
Even if we were doing it tough, we’d expect that everyone would share the pain. In the spirit of fair go, we’d make sure that the weakest and poorest didn’t end up getting hurt the worst.
But they are about to.
All of the talk leading up to the budget has been about cutting services, about reducing services, about “unsustainable” services, about coming economic disaster. Our social welfare is apparently too expensive, we have to pay again for the health system we’ve already paid for, we can’t afford as much for education or disability. It’s all doom and gloom for the sick, the poor, the old and the young. Even though we’re not really doing it tough.
But there’s no pain or doom and gloom for business.
We have the best economic credentials in the G20, and for some reason we’re going to make life harder for the battlers, and business isn’t going to feel a thing. Have you heard the Minerals Council, or the Business Council, or any other business lobby screaming about the upcoming budget? No. The only people screaming are the ones who can least afford it.
This is the opposite of a fair go. This is bullshit.
Other countries with worse economies than ours are managing a fair society, and are looking after their young, their old, their sick and their poor. Why can’t we?
This is selfish, greedy, lying, unfair, un-Australian bullshit.
We have one of the luckiest countries in the world, and to make a few people even richer we’re going to take money and services away from those who can least afford it, even though we don’t really need to.
That’s a bastard act.
That’s not what Australia is about. That’s not what Australians expect, or respect, or deserve.
It’s not a fair go, it’s bullshit.
[Article edited 2014-05-04 08:52 to add link to SMH health article]