17 August, 2014

Neither Christian nor Grown-up

I wrote recently about how, despite the initial worries of certain segments of the left, the Abbott government is demonstrably not a Christian government.

We are spoilt for evidence of this, but Joe Hockey’s latest effort deserves special attention. In a further attempt to convince both the public but more importantly, the cross-bench senators of the wisdom of his budget, Mr Hockey has been on what the media insist on calling a “charm offensive.” If this is Joe Hockey laying on the charm, I’d hate to see him on a tin-eared galoot offensive.

Mr Hockey tried to deny that the poor would be disproportionally disadvantaged by changes to fuel excise on the ground that the poorest don’t have cars or if they do, they don’t drive very far. (Gee, why do you think that might be, Joe?)

Of course, it didn’t take long for it to be shown that as a proportion of income, the poorest spend far more than the wealthiest on fuel. Even I would expect Mr Hockey to be aware of this fact, mainly because it was his party that claimed pensioners were going to freeze to death because of the carbon tax. Just you just imagine how they would have screamed if Wayne Swan offered an argument of convenience that the poorest spent less whole dollars on heating than the rich because they live in far smaller houses?

As a good Christian, Joe Hockey should have known better to attempt such an argument because he should be aware of the lesson of the widow’s two mites, mentioned in the Gospels of both Mark and Luke.

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
- Mark 12:41-44
And he looked up, and saw the rich men casting their gifts into the treasury.
And he saw also a certain poor widow casting in thither two mites.
And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.
- Luke 21:1-4
It would seem that by Mr Hockey’s calculations, your contribution is measured only by its comparison to other contributions and not, as Jesus suggested, by its comparison to what you have to give.

I’ve also written a few times about the government’s juvenile assertion that they are a grown-up government.

Again, evidence to the contrary is rife, but our prime minister’s comments on Scottish independence deserve special attention. He started out well, saying,
“What the Scots do is a matter for the Scots and not for a moment do I presume to tell Scottish voters which way they should vote.”
He should have left it at that. If he had, everything would have been fine, but then the Mr Magoo of international diplomacy couldn’t help himself, adding:
“I think that the people who would like to see the break-up of the United Kingdom are not the friends of justice, the friends of freedom…”
Um… WHAT??
We know Abbott is a master of avoiding questions so why choose this moment to be so candid? Clearly monarchist Abbott’s reflexive love of all things empire kicked in. If he had been alive in 1900, he would probably have argued against federation too. And he’s perfectly entitled to hold those personal views but you never take sides publically in another country’s affairs, especially not an ally.

Here’s how a grown-up would handle it: Write this down, Tony, in case you need to refer to it in future.
“That is entirely a matter for the people of Scotland. Whichever way the vote goes, Australia will maintain a strong and fruitful relationship with Britain and also an independent Scotland, should there be one.”

Was that so hard?

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