Some time has passed since the Federal budget. In that time I have been reflecting on the responses by fellow Christians and non – Christians alike. Why has there been such an outcry? Politicians have lied to us in the past. There is nothing new about that. Why are people so affronted now?
I think I have one reason. After the confusion and lies of the previous Labor government, Australians were looking for something new and fresh, something different from the turmoil and back flipping that had been going on. They were tired of it. Tony Abbott, astutely, played to that confusion and promised certainty and no more lies. We all knew that the “lie” bit was a lie but we hoped anyway. This desire of the people to have politics played differently was strong. We have seen that in the move to independent members of parliament and minor parties.
So when the budget came out and promise after promise was broken at a scale never before seen in Australian politics, many people felt betrayed and, I believe, justifiably so. Even worse, the most vulnerable were targeted with the budget decisions – here and overseas. If promises had to be broken why wasn’t the Paid Parental Leave scheme, delayed? Is it too cynical to suggest that most of these people who would benefit would vote Liberal? Why wasn’t the abolition of the Mining Rent Tax shelved – just as money was starting to come in? Is it that the miners are too powerful? There are many more uncomfortable questions like this. Do I believe that we have to live within our means? Certainly, but there are different ways to go about it. Starting from the weak up is not it.
But personally, I feel betrayed at a different level as well. As a child of the King, and many in the Government claim to be His, I cringe when I see fellow children of the King, in politics, obfuscate, justify and support policies that would make the King weep. Christ directed his followers to support the needy, weak and vulnerable. He modelled it for us. He, in fact, has given power to these brothers and sisters in politics and claims their first allegiance – before all else and that includes the Party.
So what is my job now? Matt 18 reminds me that when a brother or sister sins or sins against me I need to go them and speak to them. And yes, undermining the safety net we have for the vulnerable, I believe, falls into that category. That will have to be my first step. A step I need to take in grace – even when I feel angry and betrayed.
I could not agree more.