Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s new government has met a skeptical reception on the streets of Sydney’s inner west, with locals expressing concern about its first week priorities.
The Inner West Independent spoke to shoppers in Glebe, Balmain and Leichhardt on Sunday, four days after the new administration was sworn in.
The government’s decisions to cut the Climate Commission, regulate the publishing of information on asylum seeker boat arrivals and the inclusion of only one woman in cabinet were the most unpopular.
“The way I look at it you can either be a climate sceptic or you can believe in climate change, but whatever your view is, I don’t think you should get rid of the [Climate] Commission,” said Harsha, who works in taxation.
Cecilia, a student at Sydney University, questioned how women’s affairs would be treated by the new government.
“There’s only one woman in the cabinet, and there should be more,” she said. “We’re supposed to be a fairly egalitarian society where the advancement of women is not something that’s strange.”
Many were concerned about the welfare of asylum seekers and the revelation at the weekend that the government will not announce boat arrivals as they occur.
“I feel they’re regressive over where they’re going to take this country,” said Trish of Balmain, who works in administration. “Mostly it’s about the boat people, and the inability to recognise that this is a global issue and we have to work on it.”
“He’s hiding things about boats coming in already, moving the goal posts,” said one Leichhardt resident.
Others were willing to give the new government the chance to prove itself.
“So far so good I think,” said Dulanja, a clinical researcher from Elizabeth Bay. “I think they’re just getting ready, so you can’t really judge as yet.”
She said strengthening the economy to withstand another financial crisis should be the Coalition’s first priority.
Holly, a bartender from Balmain, wants the government to legislate for gay marriage but feels it is unlikely. She said the Climate Commission should not have been disassembled.
“There’s a lot of scientific basis for global warming, we probably shouldn’t be regressing on that front.”
John, a retired transport economist from Abbotsford, objected to the sacking of senior public servants and Steve Bracks, the former Victorian Labor premier who was relieved of his diplomatic post in New York before even taking it up.
Locals frequently cited the NBN, DisabilityCare and Gonski as ideas they want the new government to follow through on.
“Probably all the Labor policies, the big picture things,” said Kate from Petersham, who works in the public service.
For Tom, a Balmain student, it was even simpler.
“It sounds bad, but hopefully [they] screw up so the other guys can get in,” he said.