There is an alarming trend in Australia at the moment. While the world struggles with climate change and population, we here are experiencing a knee-jerk reaction to supposed ills that are befalling us, and the governments seem far too quick to react with their band-aid solutions. I am seeing more cases in the media every day of what can only be pandering to minorities and special interest groups, where minor problems are becoming issues big enough to change policy over. Case in point, here in Victoria, where reforms are flying out the doors of Parliament house like bats from a cave, only these reforms are much more sinister than bats.

One step backward

In May this year, it was announced that Victorian Government and public servants will no longer be required to acknowledge the traditional land owners in speeches and public events. This article from The Herald Sun reads "FORMER premier Jeff Kennett has congratulated Ted Baillieu for the "courageous decision" to move way from acknowledging traditional Aboriginal land owners, describing it as a win against political correctness". Sure, okay, we can't force people to acknowledge traditional land owners in every situation, but this sure comes across as a symbolic backward step in societally, and certainly a symbolic slap in the face of the indigenous people of Victoria.

Two steps backward

Later in the same month I heard that Victorian police will be given powers to issue on-the-spot fines to people caught swearing in public. While these laws are nothing new (they were introduced by the Labor government in 2008). This struck me as a little odd, especially in a country for whom swearing is a great proportion of the language we speak. I agree it's not pleasant to have some drunken football fan yelling abuse into your face, but there are laws which cover that already, like public indecency. We are yet to see if this law will go ahead, and whether it is in effect giving the police powers to become the harbingers of doom to the collective freedom of speech, but to me it seems like a case of political correctness gone too far.

Three steps backward

On June 2nd I read with horror and disgust that the The Ballieu Government "cast the rules of Parliament aside to reintroduce a bill that will allow faith-based groups to discriminate on grounds such as religion, marital status or gender." I wonder if the government would call this a "a win against political correctness" also? I see it as governmental pandering to the religious, again placing the insidious wishes of groups like the ACL in a privileged position outside that of the normal everyday citizen. After all, if religious groups can discriminate against us, then by rights we can and should discriminate against them.

While I agree that sometimes political correctness can be taken to an extreme and be used as an excuse for people to get their way, the term is now being used as a weapon by the conservatives to describe anything they don't agree with. A "win against political correctness" is a convenient way to describe the disdain which the politicians in this state hold for the people.

What is more sinister in this situation is that these backward-thinking policies coming through the parliament seem to keep on coming, as if there is an unspoken wish for the state of Victoria to return to the "good old days" of the 1960s, where blokes liked sheilas, swearing was a no-no and "the aborigines" lived in the desert somewhere. Once they can achieve that slightly bleached filmic hue, and get everyone back into shorts with high socks, then they will have Victoria "back on track."

According to the Australian Government, "Australians are doing it tough." This is a very convenient way to convince people that life is hard everywhere, and especially now. The effect this has on people is to make people feel like their are at war with life, and when things are tough, it's time to gat rid of all those "politically correct" laws and concentrate on the things that really matter. I'll bet this trend continues, and as our hard-won liberties get stripped away one by one, soon we'll look back and say "Wait a minute, I don't remember being in a police state!"

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