June 2003 #4

What you loose on the round-a-bout, you pick up on the swings

Just a week or so ago I opened up the discussion regarding politician’s salaries in relation to those whose main source of income is part time or casual work.

As Mrs. E and I sat down for our after dinner repose last night I casually asked if she had heard about the new Governor General getting a $55,000 a year pay rise. Being the cynical bastard I am, I mocked him by saying “If he doesn’t give it to charity, like his army pension, I wont vote for him next time – ha ha.”

Thinking I had scored another chuckle, I was pleased with my little jibe, for about three seconds. Mrs. E shot back, “I wont vote for him unless he
refuses to take it.” Dumfounded by this comment, as she is not one who usually agrees with me on issues such as this, we struck another interesting

Our new Governor General said, when he took office, that he would give away his army pension as he didn’t need two incomes. He also said he believed that anyone could become governor general or whatever he or she liked, if they worked hard enough. He said he was going to try and heal some of the damage done by his predecessor, but that he wouldn’t comment on that man’s term of office. He also said he would have a focus on young people.

On the first issue, we discussed why he should refuse the latest offering of largesse from the public purse. It seems Mrs. E has gone a bit bolshy on this latest bit of snout trough diving. She said that if he really wanted to be part of the people and really understood what it was like to struggle, he should, on principle, refuse to take it. Only if he does, said she, would he win her heart and mind. If he didn’t, he was just another greedy political manoeuvrer (that’s my word, hers cant be reproduced in an open newsletter).

I pointed out to her that Tony Abbott, that fierce and determined defender of the working class, said that the pay rise, which now puts the GG on about a $1,000 a day – and on top of that are all his allowances, free rent, free medical, free travel and accommodation, a butler and 70 or so staff and on and on – you get the picture, Tony Abbott, said that the increase would make the GG's salary “moderately exceed” that of high court judges (and, I’m sure he mumbled under his breath plumbers, cooks, waiters, the bloke behind the counter at McDonalds, receptionists, teachers, nurses, child care workers, fitters and turners, social workers, the unemployed, those lucky enough to qualify for student benefits, mechanics, meter readers and most working Australians.

Of course young Abbott didn’t think it prudent to remind us at that point that his minions have just spent untold tax payers – that’s us – money on making sure the minimum wage remains only just above the poverty line.

So it seems Mrs. E and I agree on the fact that the real test for this newly picked “man of the people” will come in the application of his moral attitude. He says he will give away his $50,000 per year pension while he’s in office only to be told he just got a pay rise of the same magnitude. I pondered out loud as we reached this point in the conversation if the deal had been a wink wink, nudge nudge, offer prior to his acceptance?

“Don’t get started”’ she shot back. “Shut up. Kerry’s coming on”.

Having been reduced to silent pondering on the type of man who occupies the highest office we have, I though about faking an angina attack or something because I wanted to continue the conversational intimacy we were engaged in, but though better of it. If she wants to watch Kerry, I’d rather ponder in silence.

The problem is, that is what our political masters hope we will do. Because in so doing we allow them, and they do take our silence as acquiescence, to continue to allow a system most of know is morally wrong and inhumane, to flourish and for some to prosper off it.

The time now is not for silence but for loud shouting and opposition. There are other possibilities for us as a society, but, unfortunately until we, collectively, rise up and take back what is rightfully ours, those we allow to rule us, will remain in charge and under the orders of their real masters. 

But lets not start the revolution till after Kerry finishes.