Father Bob Maguire and Les Thomas at March in May, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Father Bob Maguire and Les Thomas at March in May, Federation Square, Melbourne.

Last Sunday saw the first large protests against Joe Hockey’s disgraceful first (and hopefully last) budget and I was very happy to be able to perform “Budget Reply” which was written the day after the budget was delivered.

Of course, no one that I know expected kindness from the Abbott government, as they’d been making a huge amount of noise into the lead up, but the aggression of stripping social security support, hurting the sick and the elderly, taking  $80 billion out of health and education while undermining long-cherished universal health care and robbing $536 million from Indigenous programs has been shocking. If the measure of a society is in how well it treats its most vulnerable, we must be heading for the bottom of the ladder.

They’ve also taken $7.6 billion out of foreign aid, but when it comes to punishing asylum seekers offshore, of course money is no object. To the Abbott government, they’re convenient scapegoats, as if people fleeing persecution are a greater threat to employment than a government that are preparing to slash some 16,0000 public sector jobs.

A lot of it looks like a return to the bad old days, but realistically both Liberal and Labor have been dragging us in the direction of lower wages and conditions as they sell off public assets that generations before us worked so hard to create. While to newspapers and right wing shock jocks gnash their teeth at students standing up for their education and rightfully taking on Christopher Pyne, Julie Bishop and the like, the truth is living standards would be way worse without our history of protest. Have people forgotten that they live in the same place where the Eureka Stockade helped to deliver democracy? And while it’s widely assumed that  we’re an apathetic bunch in the land down under, the campaign for Land Rights, the NSW BLF’s Green Bans to save Sydney, defending the Franklin River, the MUA dispute in 1998 and most recently the successful Bentley Blockade show that we can stand up when necessary.

What they weren’t counting on was the groundswell of public opposition that is set to keep growing. Links are being formed between students, Indigenous activists, unionists, environmentalists and countless others who see the dangers of allowing this socially destructive budget to pass . Together we are strong, so I’m looking forward to standing shoulder to shoulder with people who hate this budget. If we all do that, we could get rid of this government in the wink of an eye.

Events to get to in Melbourne include
March for Medicare on May 30
Bust the Budget on June 12
Bust the Budget – Disability Support and Rights March on July 11


Thanks to Samantha Castro from Whistleblowers, Activists and Citizens Alliance for shooting this video! I hope to have a studio version of this song finished soon, so stay in touch via the mailing list and/or Facebook and I’ll keep you posted.


Budget Reply
By Les Thomas

Someone switch on the lights and butt out those cigars
Cos it’s like we’ve been hit and we’re still seeing stars
We all saw the train coming but the wreck’s still a shock
Instead of looking to the future here they turn back the clock

So the age of entitlement’s come to an end
Unless you’re one of their billionaire friends
Too bad if you’re sick, or too old or too young
When the age of cruelty’s just begun

What kind of future do they offer round here
When the most in need have the most to fear?
They punish the weak to reward the strong
And they’re blind to the difference ‘tween right and the wrong

Hey Joe, don’t you know?
You’re gonna hear our budget reply

My doctor took an oath to do no harm
So why do you insist they take a leg and an arm?
Truth be told, they’d rather let us bleed
An emergency indeed

Don’t tell me white Australia’s a thing of the past
When it’s plain that they still put our first people last
Don’t even pretend they respect this sacred ground
So ‘sorry’ leaves a hollow sound

You say a windmill offends you, what they hell are your smoking?
Must be all that cheap coal in the stogie you’re toking
Fact is, Joe, there’s one world to spare
And if you trash it we’ll be going nowhere

Hey Joe, don’t you know?
You’re gonna hear our budget reply

Without a safety net for the unemployed
A higher rate of crime will be hard to avoid
Maybe that’s a feature of the plan
Making money for the prison man

With knowledge and science both under attack
How many centuries will you send us back?
Not all of us were born with a silver spoon
So we’d better speak loud and soon

Hey Joe, don’t you know?
You’re gonna hear our budget reply