In addition to the almost half a billion dollars for an upgrade to the Australian War Memorial1; this week the federal government announced a discount card for returned service men and women, along with a jobs program to connect veterans with suitable employers and, get this, priority boarding and an acknowledgement of their service during in-flight announcements on Virgin Australia aircraft2. When I heard the latter, I initially thought it was a joke of some sort, but according to the news media it is true.
Was this Virgin Australia’s idea? Did Virgin Australia run it past the Minister or Prime Minister first? If they didn’t, then the CEO of Virgin Australia is an idiot. If they did, and the Minister or PM thought it was a good idea, then I am not in the least bit surprised, as they are both idiots. Is this sort of Trumpesque idiocy the best the Morrison government can do? It is as stupid as sending ‘thoughts and prayers’ in the face of a disaster rather than actually doing something, or saying to a person who has been injured in one of our wars, the idiotic American drivel: ‘thank you for your service’ as you turn and walk away.
Instead of doing impersonations of Trump, perhaps members of the government should consider: better mental health care, to help reduce the high suicide rate3 and high mental illness rate4 among ex-service men and women; better housing systems to help the over 5,000 homeless people who are ex-service men and women who served in Iraq and Afghanistan5; better assistance for families of those on deployment, while risking their lives in shambolic countries around the world. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the problems faced by ex-service people to which the government are tossing a few crumbs.
Scott Morrison said, after the internecine warfare that led to the demise of Malcolm Turnbull, that the Muppet show was over. He was mistaken.