Award-winning Australian author Peter Carey has accused the Abbott government of being “inhumane” and ruled by big business interests.
Mr Carey, who claims in his new book Amnesia that the CIA conspired to bring down Gough Whitlam’s government, says Australia has become a right-wing “corporation state” that is “terrifying” to live in.
“We have a situation where the right has come to rule, the corporation has come to rule,” Carey says. “It seems an inhumane regime.”
Speaking to The New Daily, Mr Carey said Australians were experiencing trauma equivalent to that of living through the Cuban Missile Crisis in the 1960s, when “one glimpsed one’s own extinction”.
“Now we live with that, and kids live with that, day after day, after day, after day, after day, and given the failure of governments to act – and given the fact that they’re acting in the interests of corporations continually, the corporations don’t care about the future – I think that’s terrifying.”
Mr Carey made his comments about the current government when asked about former prime minister Gough Whitlam’s legacy and the state of the nation, a day after the former PM passed away.
“Looking back [on Whitlam’s time in power] … it was a time when we had hope and could have hope,” Mr Carey says.
“We just pulled the troops out of Vietnam, the draft resistors were let out of jail. A week and a hundred different things happened and we were proud of ourselves, we were proud of Gough and we were optimistic about our future.”
The criticism also comes a week after fellow Booker Prize winner Richard Flanagan said he was “ashamed” to be Australian because of the Abbott government’s climate change stance.
“I’m very saddened because Australia has the most extraordinary environment and I don’t understand why our government seems committed to destroying what we have that’s unique in the world,” Mr Flanagan told the BBC’s Kirsty Wark.
“It doesn’t have to be this way. We can grow our economy but we can do so much for our extraordinary environment.
“There are so many things and, to be frank, I’m ashamed to be Australian when you bring this up.”
Mr Carey’s new novel is both an homage to the audacity of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and what he sees as gross American influence on the downfall of the Whitlam government.
The book centres around a downtrodden journalist, Felix Moore, who, having ruined his relationship with his family and lost his job, takes on the somewhat dubious role of writing about a young, female hacker who has become America’s enemy number one.
The cyber-hacker, Gabrielle ‘Gaby’ Bailleux, a striking blonde, has unleashed a virtual worm that has opened up the doors of Australian and US prisons.
Interweaved into the race to get her story are Moore’s own theories on the CIA’s involvement in the removal of Whitlam.
Mr Carey says the extent of the US-Australian relationship has always worried him and Assange’s emergence as a traitor or savior, depending on your point of view, reignited his passion for the subject.
“The US-Australian thing has long been in my mind,” he says.
“With Assange, it was a sense of amazement and wonder – and some admiration, I must admit – at what he’d done. He’s clearly very complicated.”
So is Mr Carey, it would seem.
Amnesia is out now through Penguin. Purchase a copy of the book here.