Orwellian Australia: the “[Un]Fairer Parental Leave Bill 2015”

On 15 April 2016 the so-called “Fairer Parental Leave Bill 2015″ was “Lapsed at prorogation” and the current status on the bill is (thankfully, at this stage) “Not proceeding”. I’m not sure whether this is a permanent status, or whether they just ran out of time and will return to the bill later… 2f0cb4c7d47e3a96e31c5a2dc19352c0

When I see the word “fairer” associated with this bill I can’t help worry about the extent that we are living in an Orwellian Australia in which “discrimination is fair“, “slavery is freedom“, and “lies are truth“.

We seem to be stepping closer and closer to the world of 1984, a world in which “war is peace” and “ignorance is strength”…

I mean, in what sense is this bill “fair”??

The bill proposed to withdraw the current paid parental leave for women whose employers also pay parental leave – meaning that mothers can afford to spend less time with their newborn.

This has been proposed by the same Government that, at the time of their election, pledged to extend government-paid parental leave to 6-months.

When releasing the bill back in 2015 the Government had the hide to call mothers “double dippers” for claiming parental leave from both the Government and employers (hence spending longer with their newborn) – as per the current parental leave policy that Labor set up to incentivise employers to offer extended parental leave for mothers.

Granted I have a personal interest in this particular bill not going ahead… I’m due to give birth (!) soon before the proposed bill would begin. If my baby is a week late and the bill has been passed I will lose spending an additional 3-4 months with my newborn…

Perhaps the Government’s new leader Malcolm Turnbull cares more about true fairness to let this bill go through. I cannot find any coverage of the “not proceeding” status in the media. I’m not sure is a sign that it will pop up in the next couple of weeks and be passed or whether they hope that they see the bill as a big mistake and are hoping to forget about it in the lead up to their election…

Language like this – calling something that blatantly furthers gender injustice “fair” – reflects an Orwellian trend that is pervasively working its way through Western culture.

“Liberty” used to mean freedom of people from slavery, but now seems to mean freedom for corporations to exploit people without interference from governments.

The freedom of speech our democracy prides itself on is slipping away as journalists are fired for expressing their personal opinions outside of work (e.g. Scott Macintyre over Anzac tweets), academics are ostracised for speaking truth against power (be it a PhD student questioning the safety and efficacy of vaccinations, an academic standing up against the demolition of Palestinian homes and schools in the West Bank, or fighting to host His Holiness the Dalai Lama when money from China is against it), and citizens face Draconian laws (up to $10,000 or two years in prison for “obstructing” business operations) for peacefully protesting to protect the environment?

Rather than protecting citizen privacy, the Governments and corporations are allowed privacy while citizens are stripped of it. At what point does a society say: no more?

Politicians seem to get away with saying one thing, and doing another. At what point does a society stand up against their short-minded knee-jerk policies that have led to 40km school zones on major highways, curfews and prohibitions on selling shots at small bars and pubs (and yet allows major casinos 24 hour licences, thanks to the big money behind it), and that increases police power on peaceful protestors?

As Hugh de Kretser, executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre, puts it: “We need to call out regression like the NSW anti-protest legislation for what it is. We need to recognise the cumulative democratic harm being inflicted by particular environment, counter-terrorism or refugee policies. Ultimately, if we truly care about protecting our democratic rights and freedoms, we need to guarantee them in an enforceable national Human Rights Charter.” 

What does a society have to do to secure a Government that puts the common good of its citizens before the profit of corporations?

Is it about time that Australia had a Bill of Rights?

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