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6 Reasons I'm ashamed of my government

As an experienced author, journalist and editor, Sarah specialises in writing about business, property, travel and parenting. She's written for magazines including Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, Collective and Your Investment Property magaz...

Possible GST increase has me wondering whether Abbott's decisions reflect the country's priorities and values

From SheKnows Australia
I hate to whinge about our prime minister, particularly on the public record; it really is such an unpatriotic thing to do. But it’s reached the point where I can no longer keep quiet.

It seems that with every week that passes, our federal government endorses yet another unsavoury activity or announces yet another ill-advised policy.

Surely I’m not the only ordinary Australian who is left scratching her head and wondering, “Is this really happening? Are these people really responsible for leading this country?”

I’m sorry to admit that I'm becoming ashamed of where things stand and where things are headed — and I’m frustrated that our current prime minister continues to make decisions that don’t reflect the values and priorities of our country.

In my humble opinion, these reasons include, but are definitely not limited to, the following:

1. A complete lack of respect for taxpayer money

On one hand, Joe Hockey is telling us all the solution to making ends meet is simple: Just go out and “get better paying jobs”, he advised condescendingly. Of course, that's easy to say when you're a politician, because you can spend up a storm on public money.

We’ve got Bronwyn Bishop dropping $14k on limousines (in just two weeks!), plus a further $5k to charter a chopper to attend a fundraiser; Joe Hockey pocketing $270 a night as an "accommodation levy" to sleep in his own house; and MP Ian Macfarlane spending over $11,000 on a return flight between Canberra and Toowoomba.

At a time when politicians are talking about lifting the GST from 10 per cent to 15 per cent to “do what’s necessary to make our country strong”, this complete lack of respect for public money is totally galling.

2. Abbott’s backflip on paid parental leave

Six months' worth of paid parental leave at full pay was never affordable for our government. But this was meant to be his key election promise — and one of the reasons he was voted in.

Remember when he said back in 2012, “Watching friends and colleagues trying to juggle work and family persuaded me that I had to reconsider this issue, lest society condemn my daughters’ generation to having fewer life options than their male counterparts…

“Increasing women’s participation in the economy is a sure-fire way to boost productivity. Increasing productivity is the key to building a stronger economy. By better supporting women to juggle work and family commitments, we empower them to be better economic (as well as social) contributors to our country. That’s why paid parental leave is not just a women’s issue or another family benefit but a policy that makes good economic sense.”

Look, most of us knew he was never going to come through with the goods and that all of the above was simply political grandstanding. However, he not only canned this policy, he went one step further by stripping parental leave entitlements from those who receive it through their employer.

Way to show your support for working parents, Tony.

More: This is what happens when child care is hard to find

3. The introduction of the Border Force Act

Our government has somehow, inexplicably, created a new law that essentially makes it illegal for professionals to report child abuse of refugees. This is because the Border Force Act makes it an offence for an “entrusted person” (such as an Australian Border Force employee) to make a record of or disclose “protected information”, which includes cases of child abuse, to police. If this upsets you as much as it should, there's a number of things you can do about it:

4. Abbott's perplexing attitude toward wind farms

Earlier this month, Tony Abbott ordered the $10 billion Clean Energy Finance Corporation not to finance new wind power projects, the latest move in his war on wind farms, which he finds “visually awful”. According to a Fairfax report, Abbott told shock jock Alan Jones that he wanted to reduce the growth rate of the sector as much as the senate would allow — as Joe Hockey said he found wind farms “utterly offensive”.

You know what I find utterly offensive? A government that seems to be hell-bent on destroying any effort our country has made to reduce carbon emissions and explore greener energy-production solutions. And on that note…

5. And what about solar energy?

Solar rebates were previously very generous, and although they’re currently a fraction of what they were, they offer a small financial incentive to those homeowners who are keen to leverage the sun’s energy rather than rely on coal-powered electricity.

Not for much longer, however, as the federal government’s recent decision to cut funding to household solar energy is yet another step backwards, making us even further away from supporting renewable energy.

More: 10 Reasons you can't afford to avoid the working-family policy discussion

6. This government's lack of transparency or accountability regarding refugees

They say they've "stopped the boats", but at what cost? Thousands of legitimate refugees, sold a lie by miscreant people smugglers, jumped on their one and only chance for freedom, only to end up in worse conditions, rotting in detention facilities so unsavoury you wouldn’t wish them on your worst enemy.

They won't even allow Amnesty International Australia access to refugees on Nauru, with Karen Trentini, the charity’s media manager, confirming, “In Australia, freedom of speech is being curtailed with workers on offshore detention centres gagged from speaking publicly about deplorable conditions and abuse. Amnesty International itself has been denied access to the Nauru detention centre — a visit took place in late 2012, however, since then one request for access has been denied and two more have not received a response.”

More: How U.S. maternity leave policies compare to other countries

And Abbott won't confirm or deny whether our government has actually paid the vermin who arrange these journeys, aka the people smugglers. This is surely a passage of time that we will look back on with shame and wonder how we allowed such a nasty, inhumane policy to dictate the way we treat refugees.

Speaking for myself, I'm already ashamed.

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