1. Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced a Cabinet that includes just one woman. One woman. For context, the previous Labor Government had six women in Cabinet, the last time Australia had only one female in Cabinet was 2001, and countries like Egypt, Afghanistan, Uganda, Liberia and China have more.
2. Tony Abbott is now the minister responsible for women’s policies. No really, the same Tony Abbott who said abortion is the ‘easy way out’ is the minister responsible for women’s policies.
3. After the Cabinet was finalised, the Government announced it would scrap massive pay increases to aged care workers who are mostly women.
For the environment:
4. The Minister for the Environment, Greg Hunt, recently used Wikipedia – ‘I looked up what Wikipedia said for example just to see what the rest of the world though’ – as a legitimate source to refute arguments that there was a connection between bushfires and climate change. He didn’t stop there. When a BBC journalist quoted Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comment that ‘Climate change is absolute crap’, Hunt angrily refused to respond to the question.
5. Perhaps even more depressingly, the Coalition continues to pursue a climate change policy – Direct Action – that is expensive, won’t meet Australia’s already miserly carbon reduction target and has been recently rejected by both Australia’s leading economists and the OECD. Indeed, the Coalition’s first act in the new Parliament will be to introduce legislation to repeal a scheme that is already working. Labor’s first act of Parliament was an apology to Indigenous Australians. #priorities
6. Multiple members of the Coalition frontbench – including Prime Minister Tony Abbott – have been forced to payback thousands of taxpayer dollars after erroneously using their money to attend lavish weddings and various other functions unrelated to their work as MPs.
For gay Australians:
7. In a depressingly ironic turn of events, the very same Coalition frontbenchers that used taxpayer money to attend the weddings of MPs and accompany billionaire-mining magnates on trips to India have launched action in the High Court to repeal the ACT’s recently passed same-sex marriage legislation.
For the economy:
8. After repeatedly lambasting the Labor Government for creating a ‘budget emergency’ and calling Labor’s 2012 increase to the debt ceiling ‘really extraordinary’, the Coalition announced an increase in Australia’s ceiling to an unprecedented $500 billion.
9. On the same day the debt ceiling increase was announced, the Coalition announced it was likely to sell Medibank Private as part of Commission of Audit that could also include massive cuts to government services and an increase in the GST.
For foreign policy:
10. Tony Abbott was forced to issue an embarrassing apology to Malaysia’s Prime Minister after repeatedly criticising the country during debate over Labor’s ‘Malaysia Solution’. Not to be out done, he later attacked the previous Labor Government in an American interview, calling them ‘wacko’ and ‘embarrassing’, in a performance a right-wing American political scientist called a big mistake.
11. As part of their own ‘schools revolution’, the Coalition have announced a plan to make public schools ‘independent’ by giving parents and principles more control over hiring staff and setting budgets – a move many see as a way to simply make public schools private.
12. Education Minister Christopher Pyne has also revealed that he would like to scrap the Student Services and Amenities Fee (SSAF); recap university places and potentially privatise HECS debt. Woo university students!
For asylum seekers:
13. Minister for Immigration, Scott Morrison, has issued a directive that asylum seekers who arrive by boat are to be called ‘illegals’. Never mind the fact that a person seeking asylum is definitely not doing anything ‘illegal’, Morrison seems content on taking Australia down the 1984 path of thoughtcrimes and newspeak.
14. In another 1984-realted development, Morrison has also stopped the Government’s established practice of announcing boat arrivals and limited his Department’s ability to make any comments on arrivals.
It’s going to be a long three years…