Today I got the notice I already have $6000 dollars worth of HELP debt. At the tender age of 19 my hours have been cut at work, and in the same week I was fined for not having my concession card and warned that my casual ‘f-bomb’ reaction would get me another fine. And if the state government had it’s way I could probably be shot too.
If you think that’s a little bit dramatic, I’d also agree, but it’s a dramatic reaction to a dramatic proposal. Ted Baillieu has delivered on his election proposal for more police. I’ve nearly been stepped on by a police horse and been stopped by countless of the extra 1600 as I walk to my mother’s car at night. In the next few weeks, Melburnians will be fortunate enough to see the 940 Protective Service Officers at train stations to counteract the ‘culture of fear’ that is brewing in our bustling city. Armed with guns, these men and women fresh from an astounding six weeks of training will be there to protect us all. A gun to protect the community? That’s got to be good! Who’d have thought that people who have less training than a policeman and who aren’t even of that status are entrusted with public safety? It’s enough to make any bloodthirsty person’s mouth water!
In July police shot a young man from Gippsland and last week train inspectors pushed a man off a moving train. I’m not leaping to the defense of those accused, but surely, to settle a dispute, you’d exhaust all other options before reaching and firing a weapon that has unchangeable repercussions. This is a highly illogical question for the Liberal government. A Liberal government that in June, amended the Victorian Equal Opportunity Act allowing religious bodies to discriminate on grounds of gender, sexuality, and marital status and the same government that proposed to fine those who swear in public. If I reach to pull out my myki, and am mistaken for carrying a gun would it justify ending my life?
It is ironic that the Liberals, who make a career out of criticizing the Labor party ‘for fostering a nanny state,’ have afforded me fewer rights than my Sicilian mother. This all seems too similar to the situation in London. In the aftermath of the riots, a reaction to police brutality, 16 000 extra police patrol the streets and CCTV footage is being upgraded. Londoners are in virtual lockdown, anxious as some of the harshest economic restrictions stare Britain down the barrel. London, and Europe are likely to see more of these clashes as the underlying disparity between the interests of conservative governments and youth, facing unemployment and high university fees, are felt.
To bring this back to humble Melbourne, I’d be clutching at straws if I said we would see similar events. It’s already clear that if we rebel, put a foot out of place the consequences cannot be undone. Maybe they should take a note out of a humble hospitality worker’s book, ‘would you like a side of discrimination with your justice?’ On second thoughts, if they’re met with a ‘no’ they’d probably give it to you anyway. Silly me, I forgot that you don’t get a choice.