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Search Results for: false boast

The Coalition’s False Employment Boast

Bill Shorten addressed the National Press Club on Tuesday and committed a future Labor government to a policy of full employment. When asked by Leigh Sales on ABC’s 7.30 Tuesday evening what he considered to be an acceptable unemployment level, he said 5%.

It was a safe answer, but not the right answer. Full employment should mean just that; he should have answered, 0%. Full employment means a full time job for everyone who wants one and a part time job for everyone who wants one.

Anything less is not full employment. Whether or not Bill Shorten understands this, is open to conjecture. But on the other side of the parliamentary chamber, they don’t even care. Full employment is anathema to conservative, neo-classical politics.

Their most recent mantra, ‘jobs and growth’ is a smokescreen to hide their conviction that a minimum level of unemployment (somewhere between 5-8%), is needed to maintain an orderly workforce and control wages growth.

The present level has been hovering around 6% for the last two years and is probably right on the mark for them, evidenced by their lack of interest in reducing it.

Unemployment dropped to 5.8% for February due to a steep fall in the participation rate, but the trend figures are not encouraging, even worse when we compare February 2016 results with September 2013, when the Coalition came to office.

The ambivalence demonstrated by the government on the issue of employment is breathtaking. That the MSM allows them to get away with it, is outrageous.

Michaelia-Cash-_-glamour_-21Mar14-rex_b_810x540Minister for Employment, Michaela Cash salivated recently over the claim that 300,000 new jobs had been created in 2015, but could not point to one convincing government initiative  that had contributed to it. Well, let’s take a closer look at those figures.

You may remember one of Tony Abbott’s core election promises in 2013 was the creation of one million jobs over the next five years and two million jobs in ten years.

What he didn’t tell us was that natural population growth plus immigration requires around 125,000 new jobs to be created each year just to maintain existing levels of employment. Boasting to create one million jobs in five years sounds impressive, but in reality, it barely covers the minimum required.

And, as it happens, they have Buckley’s chance of achieving that.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) figures show the September 2013 unemployment rate was 5.7% in trend terms. At that time there were 706,400 unemployed. In February 2016, unemployment was trending at 5.8% with 736,600 people unemployed, meaning unemployment has increased by 30,200 over the past 2 years and 5 months.

The same ABS reports show that 11,646,800 persons were employed in Australia in September 2013, while in February 2016 that number was 11,903,100. This tells us that there were 256,000 new jobs created over the past 2 years and 5 months (a big drop from that short term 300,000 in one year boast).

However, it gets worse. From an available workforce in September 2013 of 12,353,200 we grew in numbers to 12,639,700 in February 2016, an increase of 286,500. Which means the 256,000 new jobs created have failed to keep pace with population growth, let alone reduce existing unemployment.

By any language or spin, this is a failure of government to sufficiently stimulate the economy.

tonyabbottTony Abbott’s 1,000,000 new jobs in 5 years was a pipe dream. He, or whoever came up with it, might as well have dreamt it.

No doubt Scott Morrison will put the usual optimistic spin on the latest figures but when proper comparisons are made, one can clearly see, that in trend terms, we are going in the wrong direction.

A Whale of a Taylor – too.

“People aren’t spending” sighs Fran Kelly at the end of ABC Insiders Sunday, blaming us for the government’s epic failure to manage the economy. It’s always the victim’s fault. Yet if you don’t have it, you can’t spend it.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) records a snail’s pace in the latest increase in household incomes. ABS data shows a healthy increase from 1995 through until 2012, the period of the Howard and then Rudd/Gillard governments. Then it collapses in 2013. It is yet to recover. No wonder 9,300 retail stores will close their doors this year.

Average wealth per adult Australian, also fell by $US28,670 in 2018-2019 reports Credit Suisse in its annual global wealth report. Although Credit Suisse’s calculation includes falling house prices and a falling Australian dollar – and despite Australians remaining among the wealthiest in the world, the report confirms economic mismanagement.

We are one of a tiny minority of countries with wealth per adult lower in 2019 than back in 2012.

Vast amounts of wealth are being shunted offshore with little or no benefit to the people of Australia.

“There is no mineral resources rent tax, no other scheme to retain wealth in Australia, tax avoidance and evasion are rife, the Tax Office’s audit and enforcement divisions are severely understaffed and the Government keeps giving handouts to its foreign corporate mates,” writes Alan Austin.

What is improving is the Coalition’s strangle-hold on the media, helped in the ABC’s case by $84 million budget cuts, intimidating calls to head office, stacking of the board and a PM’s captain’s pick of Ita Buttrose as ABC Chair. AFP raids on working journalists help to increase the state’s pressure on everyone not to criticise; step out of line.

Journos pick up the vibe. Last week, Kelly’s love-in with work experience kid, Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg aids and abets Coalition’s lies about its comprehensive, colossal failure to manage the Australian economy.

“When we came to government, unemployment was 5.7%. Today it’s 5.3%. We have a record number of Australians in jobs. We have just produced the first current account surplus since 1975 … the budget is back in balance, already delivered, for the first time in 11 years. And we’re going to deliver a surplus. That means paying down Labor’s debt. Right now we have an interest bill of around $19 billion a year …”

 “So what we need to do is build the resilience of the Australian economy and face those domestic and global economic headwinds that all countries are facing, particularly the trade tensions,” Frydenberg lies.

OK, Josh. Perhaps you’d like to take credit for at least half of that debt and rising interest yourself. Hey Big Spender, your government spends like a drunken sailor. Since March, Australia’s gross debt was $543,409,430,000. Double all debt accumulated by every government from Federation to the 2013 election. Just tell the truth.

Global headwinds? Mathias Cormann – who’s never been the same since his arithmetic failed him as Dutton’s numbers man in the Liberals’ last leadership coup – has been wearing out this excuse since he become finance minister. Luckily, he need suffer no longer. He’ll quit politics at the end of this parliamentary session according to Paul Bongiorno. Cormann should go. Ten years ago, the nation was praised for its success during the GFC.

Now we lag the field. Global wealth grew during the past year as the five-year international boom in trade, jobs, investment, corporate profits and government revenue continues, although Alan Austin reports some easing with the new record high adult wealth reaching $70,850 or just 1.2% below last year’s record.

There are no global headwinds. The excuse is invoked whenever jobless figures rise, interest rates are cut, GDP per capita is lower than last year and declining productivity, among other factors, show our local economy stalling.

We’re all at sea. The mutinous dog in the captain’s rig may have seized the helm in last year’s dirty double, double-crossing of Turnbull. But the usurper has no charter; no vision. His first mate can’t read a compass and the crew are frigging in the rigging or sleeping in a cabin far below. No wonder Chief Purser Cormann is about to jump ship.

With Fran’s help, Frydenberg’s farrago of lies includes his party’s whopper that it has a record number of Australians in jobs. Yet Australia’s population growth of 1.7 million people (over 15 years old) during the same period, “created” those jobs. And a record number of deaths, too, not that you hear any boasting on that score.

Even if you take figures at face value, ABC, you could query the quality of those jobs. As in the US, many Australian workers are waiting up to a decade for a pay rise, income inequality is at record levels, working hours are long or unpredictable and penalty rates are being cut or do not exist. Conditions are also rapidly getting worse.

Wage theft is becoming the new normal as every month another corporation is found underpaying its workers.

“For many workers, there is no on-the-job training or chance for career progression, stress related illnesses due to intense work pressures are common and large sections of the workforce live in fear of being sacked without notice or redundancy pay because employment security provisions have been eroded,” reports the ACTU.

Above all, as The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss asks, “… if the Coalition is managing the economy, why did they grow the population rather than create jobs for those who were already unemployed?” We need to explode the pernicious myth of the coalition as good economic managers.  And as Denniss puts it, the economy’s effect on the budget vastly outweighs the effect of any budget on any economy.

Budgets are important but budgets are not central to the management of the economy.

Context matters. Unemployment was indeed 5.7% at the end of the financial crisis or global recession of 2013 but that rate still put us eighth in OECD rankings – as contrasted with our 21st place today at 5.3% as shown in last month’s ABS data. That’s our lowest ranking since records have been kept. But no-one holds Josh to account.

The budget is not back in balance. As Finance Dept data reveals, the deficit at the end of October is around $14.7 billion. A surplus is predicted for next June. Alan Austin spells it out, that’s seven months away.

Above all, as Ross Gittins and others point out, any surplus requires a series of heroic assumptions which include expecting government spending to grow by just 0.1% in real terms – as opposed to 4.9% last financial year.

Then there are the decidedly unheroic calculations and assumptions of this government. Helping create a sacred surplus are cuts to NDIS, although the preferred term is “underspend”. Chief amongst these is the $4.6bn that has not been spent on NDIS, or to use the bureaucrats’ jargon, the “… slower than expected transition of participants into the NDIS and lower utilisation of participants’ individual support packages”.

In other words, our most vulnerable experience delay or denial as more stringent assessments reduce the numbers who qualify for NDIS. Wheelchair Basketball and Tennis, Paralympian Dylan Alcott is disgusted.

“I see the heartbroken families of people who try and try to get funding but can’t, robbing them to be independent, contributing members of society. Fix it.”

Then there’s the timing of receipts. Bringing forward the collection of tobacco excise collections, for example, Shane Wright reminds us, boosts the bottom line by several billions in the new financial year. But wait!

Look over there! In an “explosive allegation”, a Chinese spy ring, exposed by Nine’s 60 Minutes, Sunday, may involve the late Bo “Nick” Zhao, (32) a former luxury car-dealer in leafy Glen Iris in Melbourne’s sleepy eastern suburbs who was offered one million dollars to be a Chinese agent of influence in Australian federal politics.

Or so the self-professed Manchurian candidate, Bo told ASIO a year ago. Is Glen Iris the den of sedition, our ex-pat local sage and dramaturge Barry Humphries, has always warned us about?  Sandy Stone now a suburban guerrilla?

A nation is shocked to learn of the plot to parachute Bo into the Liberal seat of Chisholm. Bo would then be injected like a bacillus into the fibrillating heart of our body politic, our parliament, like Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin) in the train to the Finland Station in April 1917. Seriously? More panic from Canning MP, Andrew Hastie.

“I heard that he was a 32-year-old Melbourne resident cultivated by the Chinese Government to run as a Liberal Party candidate,” Chair of Parliamentary Joint Subcommittee on Intelligence and Security Hastie breathlessly tells Channel Nine whose chairman is former Liberal Treasurer and current chair of the Board of Guardians of our $148 billion (that won’t be invested in education, health or welfare) Future Fund, nest-egg, Peter Costello.

Sadly, it turns out Bo’s in jail awaiting trial for fraud in October when Chisholm’s preselection takes place. Gladys Liu, who also boasted she could raise a million dollars for the cause, takes his place. Bo’s bid would be a Chinese Communist Party long-term strategy, helpfully suggests Alex Joske, Australian Strategic Policy Institute analyst.

Did Bo know too much? Tragically, he is found dead of a drug overdose in a Mount Waverly motel after tipping off ASIO that Chinese intelligence operatives would give him a million dollars to run for Chisholm. What could possibly have gone wrong? The party would even have given him a hand with the odd fake AEC polling booth or two.

Mandarin language electoral booths in Chisholm and Kooyong and in several other electorates with Chinese speakers instruct unwary voters to unwittingly tick the box to elect the Liberal candidate. These appear to be authorised by the Australian Electoral Commission. Prove they affected one vote say government lawyers.

Cases have been brought against the two candidates by climate campaigner Vanessa Garbett and unsuccessful independent Kooyong candidate Oliver Yates. The fake poll booth case is currently before the full federal court.

Former acting Victorian Liberal party state director, Simon Frost, has testified that signs written in Chinese at polling booths on election day were designed to look like official Australian Electoral Commission signage. Preliminary comments from the bench are not encouraging. At least the spy scandal gets our PM’s attention.

“Deeply disturbing”, Scott Morrison finds the spy claims, he says, while Liberal MP for Canning, first talent-spotted by Greg Sheridan, and an Abbott, captain’s pick, former SAS Captain, Andrew Hastie, cranks up the hysteria.

A state-sponsored attempt to infiltrate our Parliament using an Australian citizen and basically run them as an agent of foreign influence in our democratic system,” cries Andrew “handy Andy” Hastie, who chairs the Australian Parliament’s oxymoron – its intelligence and security committee.

It seems to give Hastie a lot of prominence if not power.

Incredibly, another self-proclaimed Chinese spy, Wang Liqiang, who also comes to Hastie’s attention, is the star of a 60 Minutes’ show when he comes forward with sensational allegations. Wang claims he worked as a secret Chinese operative for five years. Worse, Beijing has directed overseas assassinations, including on Australian soil.

Yet barely a week passes before our spooks conclude the self-proclaimed Chinese spy is not a highly trained intelligence operative dispatched by Beijing to wreak havoc on China’s enemies. At most, they suggest, he may be a bit player on the fringes of the espionage community. But what a star. Let’s hope he’s awarded asylum.

“We develop friendly co-operation with Australia and other countries based on mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit,” a foreign ministry spokesman says. “We have not interfered and are never interested in interfering in other countries’ domestic affairs.”

That settles that, then. Meanwhile, it seems Wang may have some charges to face should he return to China. The Chinese Embassy insists he is merely a “self-proclaimed intelligence agent” and a convicted fraudster who was sentenced to one year and three months in prison, with a suspended sentence of a year and a half.

The embassy cites a Shanghai police statement of an investigation into Mr Wang they opened in April, after he allegedly cheated 4.6 million yuan ($960,000), in a “fake investment project”, involving car imports in February.

Chinese spies is the latest episode of Morrison’s Police State which stars our fearless anti-hero the PM as daggy-Dad, a NSW copper’s son, making yet another dud judgement call. Rather than get his Minister for Energy, Emissions, water-rorts and Round-Up, Angus Taylor, to explain who cooked up the dodgy document Taylor used to falsely impugn Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore – he rings Mick’s mobile. Is Mick’s number on Scott’s speed dial?

So our PM phones a friend; his former neighbour and bin brother, top cop, Mick Fuller. Mick’s NSW Police Commissioner, a passionate advocate of strip-searching minors, the separation of powers and augmenting the rule of law with a little bit of fear.

Young people should have a “little bit of fear” of police he tells the fear-mongering Sydney tabloid The Daily Telegraph. It’s a view which former AFP chief Mick Palmer does not share. He says it is frankly frightening.

Morrison tells parliament that Strike Force Garrad (SFG) won’t be going anywhere. He implies Mick’s told him.

SFG is the NSW police investigation of Gus Taylor’s use of doctored documents to ridicule Sydney’s Lord Mayor, Clover Moore for declaring a state of climate emergency over some forged travel figures, Gus swears were downloaded from Sydney City Council’s website, a claim contradicted by the council’s website metadata.

Doubtless, no crime will be found to have been committed but no-one will believe Morrison hasn’t leaned on Fuller to back off.

Happily, our spooks are up to snuff. The Australian even suggests that Morrison could learn from their approach. Don’t turn crisis into catastrophe.  Spymaster, ASIO Director-General Mike Burgess looms up late Sunday night to assure all loyal Australians that not only is ASIO aware of the matters but is “actively investigating them“.

A former Telstra information security chief, Mike’s a top bloke says Peter Dutton. Last August Mike “moved across” to head ASIO after heading the Australian Signals Directorate, (ASD). He was on deck to News Corp Annika Smethurst whose scoop, April last year busted an ASD plan to spy on all Australians. Mike says it’s bollocks.

Mike Burgess and two departmental heads, (always better than one) issued a rare public statement disputing the report. Later Smethurst’s home was raided by the Australian Federal Police, reports Michelle Grattan, looking for anything which would lead them to her source.

Since then, there’s been a lot of fuss and bother about the role of the free press, a debate in which News Corp is handicapped by the baggage of having urged Coalition governments to increase state powers to spy on us all.

News of the Chinese plot is enough to put a nation off its Uncle Toby’s Weeties, Monday morning and quite upstages Evangelical Stuart Robert’s frantic attempts to hose down the government’s dumpster fire which erupts when, as it knew would happen, its Robodebt assessment or extortion of the poor is ruled illegal Wednesday by the Federal Court. The Morrison government may have to repay hundreds of millions of dollars.

While MSM faithfully report that it’s a shocker of a week for Morrison, it is, in fact, a very positive week for the Australian worker. Bill Shorten also is in top form. He raises the following matter in parliament. He asks

“Given that the government has now suspended robodebt after three years of operation, is it because the Coalition government at the time of creating it either, a) didn’t seek legal advice, or b) had inaccurate legal advice or c) received legal advice but just didn’t think that Australians would notice the government unjustly enriching itself at the expense of the most vulnerable in Australian society.”

It’s a bad week for Scott Morrison chorus Nine Newspapers following News Corp’s lead. But it’s far from that. It’s a good week or at least a hopeful week for ordinary Australians. What is bad is that Ensuring Integrity and repeal of Medevac are not remotely necessary.

Worse, Jacqui Lambie and Pauline Hanson note the hypocrisy, the double standard applied to workers and Westpac bankers who have just been called out by AUSTRAC on twenty-three million counts of money-laundering.

“The Prime Minister himself came out and said ‘it’s not up to us to deal with it, it’s up to the board to deal with the banks’ – but that’s not good enough,” senator Hanson says.

In the end, the Morrison government’s just not good enough, Pauline Hanson nails it. Or big enough.

One bill before the senate extends the government’s campaign to cripple unions; reduce further the power of workers to organise and exercise industrial action while the other is more a fit of pique – a sure sign that petty political point-scoring matters more than the human rights of asylum-seekers – or our compassion, humanity – or our doctors’ Hippocratic oath. Morrison’s government hates any law that Labor may have had a hand in.

Finally, there’s the robodebt debacle. The government has been happy to connive at extortion but even when called on it’s illegal averaging to raise a debt, all its Government Services Minister Stuart Robert can offer is;

“This government does not apologise -” Yet apologise it must. And fitting restitution must soon follow. No government can treat its people with such contempt; nor in reversing the onus of proof put itself above the law.

As for Yellow Peril 2.0, its spy drama, cooler, wiser heads must prevail. Andrew Hastie’s Sinophobia has all the hallmarks of an orchestrated diversion, designed to distract us from a government in deep trouble.

This week Scott Morrison reveals he understands neither the separation of powers nor the rule of law in our democracy; he acts the can-do PM; markets himself as a man of action. Yet this does not give him permission to ring the NSW Commissioner of Police in the midst of a parliamentary sitting to seek details of an investigation it is not his business to ask nor the Commissioner’s business to tell. Both parties are now irrevocably impugned.

Viewed in conjunction with his eagerness to silence dissent and his government’s passage of at least eighty laws increasing the powers of the state to spy on its citizens, his behaviour is not only entirely inappropriate it is truly alarming. The road toward a police state is paved with such incursions into liberty, democracy and justice.

Just as the incessant repetition of party propaganda and lies mask a grave unwillingness to consult others, let alone fairly and effectively manage our nation’s economy and resources whilst elevating illusion over truth.

Yet this tyranny is not inevitable. Armed with knowledge we can resist. We must. Our democracy depends upon it.

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Prospects of Israel’s Return to the Political Centre

By Denis Bright

Prospects of Israel’s Return to the Political Centre Under a Blue White Coalition Government Headed by Benny Gantz

Despite the strong showing by Benny Gantz’s centrist Blue and White Party, conventional opinion in Israel just prior to polling day still favoured a continuing coalition between Likud and the far-right religious parties with Benjamin Netanyahu staying on as Prime Minister. 

Predictions of a continuing Likud vote were surprising as Netanyahu faces a final pre-indictment hearing on three cases of corruption on 2 October. Netanyahu’s capacity for survival is well summarised by Haaretz Online (17 September 2019):

Should Netanyahu triumph in his quest to put together a 61-member Knesset majority, he is believed to be planning to use his power to obtain immunity from prosecution from the Knesset and passing legislation to prevent the High Court of Justice from removing that immunity. 

Despite numerous reports to this effect – and public statements from political parties supporting Netanyahu vowing to back immunity legislation – the Prime Minister’s Office has repeatedly denied that any such plans are in place, calling it a “false media spin.” 

As tentative results from the Israel’s proportional voting system were tallied, Benjamin Netanyahu still short of the 61 seats in the Knesset needed to form a working majority. Haaretz Online (17 September 2019) distributed the tentative results an hour after polling booths closed:

While the far-right parties in any potential coalition between Likud retained their share of the vote for Shas, United Torah Judaism (UTJ) and Yamina largely retained their share of the national vote, Otzma Yehudit (Strength for Israel) again failed to gain a threshold vote of 3.25 per cent needed to achieve representation in the Knesset with its commitment to a hardline messianic future for the state of Israel.

Any change of government in Israel will be welcome news to the Arab community which increased its presence in the Knesset by two seats to twelve representatives.

This leaves the Blue and White Party of Benny Gantz a chance to negotiate a coalition deal from his diverse support base which Haaretz Online refers to as Kachol Lavan as explained by the Israel Policy Forum: 

Kachol Lavan

Leader: Benny Gantz
Current Seats: N/A (new party)
Government/Opposition in Last Knesset: N/A (new party)
Supports/Opposes Two-State Solution: Supports

Kachol Lavan is a new party built from a merger between two centrist parties, Benny Gantz’s Hosen Leyisrael and Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid. Gantz retains the number one spot on the list, while he and Lapid share a rotation agreement in which the Yesh Atid leader will take over the premiership after two-and-a-half years if Kachol Lavan is selected to lead a government after elections.

The possibility of a change in Israeli leadership resides mainly from a loss of six seats for Likud from 38 seats to 32 seats in the tentative results. Small gains were made by Yisrael  Beiteinu which represents the Russian communities in Israel and the left-leaning Democratic Union with its Green support base. Likud was just short of a working majority in the Knesset as a result of Israel’s national elections, just five months ago:

Should the new centre coalition make it into majority government in Israel, the incoming government will inherit a strong but slowing economy from a Likud Government. However, Likud is tainted by corruption, militarism and plans for new settler projects in the Jordan Valley and on the East Bank near Jerusalem.

With or without Netanyahu, Likud presides over a strong economy with a sound if softening economic growth rate expressed in percentage terms from Trading Economics:

Surprisingly, for a centre-right country which is eulogized by conservatives worldwide, Israel has a strong government sector which drives new military spending and economic development:

Since 2014, Israel has moved from traditional forms of government intervention to the formation of a Citizens’ Fund in partnership with the Bank of Israel to assist with economic diversification. This process commenced long before the establishment of the Citizens’ Fund as noted by EE Times Online in 2001:  

Twenty years ago, oranges were Israel’s main export. The small Middle Eastern country still helps feed the global economy, but now wireless and optical communications technology are also bearing fruit.

Statistics cited by government agencies depict an amazing transformation in the past two decades, from a nation dependent on agriculture and diamond exports to a thriving economy and a hotbed of high-tech research.

“Israel used to be known as the land of milk and honey. Now it’s known as the land of start-ups,” said Eli Keren general manager of Sun Microsystems Israel Ltd. in Herzliyya. “It’s a Garden of Eden for venture capitalists.”

Investors-lured by the high concentration of scientists and engineers-last year sank some $11.4 billion into Israel’s industry, compared with $537 million in 1992. Technology venture capital investment alone grew to just over $3 billion in 2000, from $1 billion in 1999, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), Jerusalem.

A slump in the electronics sector brought a sharp drop in foreign investment on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange in February, but global economic uncertainty and growing violence in both the West Bank and Gaza have done little to dampen enthusiasm about Israel’s future as a major centre for technology development.

Israel now has a vast directory of electronics companies which are available for perusal by interested readers.

Investment in defence electronics is a major branch of Israeli technology. The list of firms involved in military technology is considerable.

Israeli military technology extends to the acquisition of nuclear weapons and other WMDs. These include a new generation of submarine-launched nuclear missiles on both the Mediterranean, Red Sea and Indian Ocean Fleets as well as land-based nuclear field weapons. Sharing of this nuclear weapons technology commenced prior to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1968 and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1993. Israel has not ratified the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972. NATO ally Egypt is a non-signatory to the Biological Weapons Convention.

Surprisingly, Australia’s DFAT boasts of its defence ties with Israel when a gentle diplomatic nudge to the incoming Israeli government to ratify all international agreements against WMDs might be more appropriate: 

Australia continues to broaden bilateral cooperation with Israel. In recent years, there has been significantly increased engagement across a range of sectors, including innovation, security and defence.

Austrade established one of its five innovation Landing Pads in Tel Aviv in 2016 as part of the National Innovation and Science Agenda. As a bridge between the Australian and Israeli innovation ecosystems, the Landing Pad offers early-stage Australian start-ups a platform to build links with local and multinational business partners in Israel. In February 2017, Australia and Israel signed a Technological Innovation Cooperation Agreement. The Agreement includes a bilateral funding program to enable cooperation between Australian and Israeli companies.

Since 2017, Australia and Israel have expanded cooperation on national security, defence and cybersecurity. Defence officials began annual strategic talks in 2018 and in early 2019, Australia appointed a resident Defence Attaché to the Embassy in Tel Aviv. Leveraging Australia and Israel’s respective areas of expertise, cooperation on national security, continues to develop, including on aviation security with Home Affairs as the lead Australian agency. In January 2019, following a series of reciprocal visits and dialogue, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on cybersecurity cooperation.  

Expanded economic engagement has been underpinned by the conclusion of several bilateral agreements including a Double Taxation Agreement in March 2019, an Air Services Agreement in February 2017, and a Working Holiday Agreement in June 2016, and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on defence industry cooperation in October 2017. The opening in 2019 of an Australian Trade and Defence Office in West Jerusalem will facilitate trade, investment and defence industry partnerships.

Australia’s acquisition of Israeli defence technology is a badge of honour for Australian defence forces as noted by ABC News Online

The kill chain: Australia’s drone war

Updated 27 Jun 2012, 8:23am

Let’s hope that Australia and other countries linked to NATO can move on from that love affair with the Netanyahu Era when everyone is assured by further negotiations on the character of the next Israeli government.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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Morrison’s monumental dysfunctional Pacific “family” failure

No matter how much money you put on the table it doesn’t give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is cutting down your emissions, including not opening your coalmines.”  (Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, 14 August 2019).

“Shove a sock down the throat of Jacinda Ardern” – urges Alan Bedford Jones, 2GB Sydney’s sock-shock jock, another former, failed, Liberal Party candidate and inveterate misogynist,Thursday, as New Zealand’s PM supports Pacific Islanders’ global warming concerns, endorsing the resolutions of all but one of the eighteen countries and territories of this week’s 50th Pacific Islands Forum, (PIF) meeting in Tuvalu’s capital, Funafuti.

Left on its own, promoting global warming is Australia. Ms Ardern says, diplomatically, that our land down-under can answer to the Pacific for itself. New Zealand, or Aotearoa, as its Maori people named it, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud, or, continuously clear light is doing what it can to limit its carbon emissions to 1.5C.

Ms Ardern expects all nations to make a similar commitment but will not lecture others.

Rabid climate change denier Jones turns puce. He rants; spits foam at the microphone. Does ScoMo’s office tell Jones to put the boot in? For Jones and his audience – and, indeed, for much of Morrison’s government, global warming, is a hoax. And an aberration, a perversion of reason. The notion is an unnatural hoax, as is the monstrous regiment of women who dare to demand their fair share of political power from blokes.

“Here she is preaching on global warming and saying that we’ve got to do something about climate change,” Jones harangues listeners from his bully pulpit. His signature outbursts of outrage, his demonising and his scapegoating are his own take on Orwell’s two-minute hate. Jones down low may be heard playing daily in all the best dementia wards in hospitals all over Sydney. Thursday, Jones goes off like a frog in a sock.

Preaching? It’s precisely what the Kiwi PM takes pains to avoid, but Jones rarely lets fact spoil his argument.

New Zealand has cows that burp and fart, he sneers, in a rare, brief, departure into scientific truth.

Jones role has little to do with reporting and even less with respecting fact. In the 1990 cash for comment scandal, where he and John Laws were found to have accepted money from a slew of corporations, QANTA, Optus, Foxtel, Mirvac and big banks, the jocks’ defence was that they were not employed as journalists, but as “entertainers” and thus had no duty of disclosure or of journalistic integrity. Yet Jones hopes the PM is briefed,

“I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.”

Outraged by Ardern’s audacity – as much as the fact that she’s a Jezebel – a woman brazenly asserting authority, independence and leadership, Jones works up a lather. Arden’s an impudent hypocrite, he squawks. Australia act responsibly or answer to the Pacific on policy? Accountability is heresy in ScoMo’s government. Perhaps Jones hopes that his “sock it to her” will be an Aussie form of “send her back”.

Sending Kiwis home, if Peter Dutton doesn’t like the look of them, is at least one Morrison government policy that’s coherent. Repatriation on “character” grounds saw a thousand forcible deportations between 2016-2018. Under Morrison as Immigration Minister in 2014, the policy was expanded to include all those Kiwi-born residents who’d been sentenced to twelve months or more in prison.

Many of those deported under the “character test” have no family or friends in New Zealand; have extensive family ties in Australia and have spent very little time in New Zealand, having arrived in Australia as children.

It’s another source of friction between Australia, its major trading partner, despite China (NZ$15.3bn) now having eclipsed Australia (NZ$13.9bn) as New Zealand’s biggest export market.

Friday, Jones’ sock-jock mockery continues. “The parrot” ridicules one of New Zealand’s most popular and effective Prime Ministers; alleging Ms Ardern is “a clown” and a “joke” for “preaching about climate change”, claiming, falsely, that New Zealand’s carbon dioxide has increased per capita more than Australia’s since 1990.

The Parrot’s problems with women in power, rival those of the Liberal Party itself. Worrying aloud in 2012 about our Pacific policy and how “women were wrecking the joint” during Gillard’s highly successful minority government, Jones said he was “putting Julia Gillard into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea”.

Gillard’s government invested $320 million in promoting Pacific Island women’s role in business and politics.

“She said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating,” he shrieked in utter disbelief to listeners during an on-air hate update from Barnaby Joyce about the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium.

“$320 million could have bought the 93,000 hectare Cubbie Station and its water rights, he reckoned. Kept it in Australian hands. There’s no chaff bag big enough for these people.”

“Women are destroying the joint – Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly.”

Gillard’s father John a former psychiatric nurse who passed away at 83, “died of shame”, he added in 2012, “To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament.”

Also socking it to Jacinda, Jones is joined in combat by another Liberal supporter and climate denialist, One Nation’s resident empiricist, Malcolm Roberts, who knows how much Kiwis love sheep jokes.

“New Zealand has over 60 million sheep. Sheep produce about 30 litres of methane a day. If Ardern was serious about addressing ‘climate change’ shouldn’t she start by culling the entire sheep population of NZ? Or is she just climate gesturing?”

Roberts is wrong in several respects as an AAP fact check demonstrates. He can’t count sheep. New Zealand’s official data agency, Stats NZ, reports the most recent farm census, conducted in 2017, records 27.5 million sheep in the country. A 2018 provisional update reports a drop to 27.3 million.

Nor are sheep the major culprits. New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2017, released in April 2019, shows sheep produced 12.7 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy cattle accounted for 22.5 per cent, while electricity generation created 4.4 per cent.

Above all, this year, New Zealand introduced a bill to reduce emissions of methane by animals to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030, and between 24 and 47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.

Fellow climate science denier, Mick-Mack, as Coach ScoMo calls our deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, must grab a headline to delay being deposed by Barnaby Joyce. Mick-Mack chimes in with a killer argument. Lenore Taylor says on ABC Insiders Sunday, that he couldn’t be more “offensive or paternalistic” if he tried. Itinerant Pacific Islander fruit-pickers, he says, should thank their lucky Aussie stars.

“They will continue to survive,” the part-time Elvis impersonator says in his most tone-deaf, judgemental manner. “There’s no question they’ll continue to survive and they’ll continue to survive on large aid assistance from Australia. They’ll continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit.”

And our tomatoes – for eight dollars an hour, as reported in the recent settlement of a case on behalf of fifty workers from Vanuatu, who suffered bleeding from the nose and ears after exposure to chemicals at a farm near Shepparton under the government’s seasonal worker programme.

Brisbane based Agri Labour Australia refuses to admit liability, even after being taken to court and even after agreeing to an undisclosed financial settlement. The Fair Work Ombudsman takes separate legal action. This results in nineteen workers being compensated $50,283 for wage theft – a crime rife in our migrant workforce be it in horticulture or in hospitality.  No records were kept of the workers’ labour over six months.

Seasonal worker and father of six ,Silas Aru, worked for six months, yet was paid a mere $150 in total in farms across Queensland – also as part of a government seasonal workers’ or slave labour scheme. Federal Circuit Court Justice, Michael Jarratt​ struggled to imagine a “more egregious” case of worker exploitation.

Exploited to the point of criminal neglect or abuse, men and women from the Pacific Islands are often the slaves in our nation’s overworked, underpaid, casual or part-time workforce. Mick-Mack knows how to pick ’em. Rip off the vulnerable. Trick them. Rob them blind. Then remind them what a favour you are doing them.

As the bullying of the Pacific Island leaders rapidly turns into an unmitigated disaster, something must be done. ScoMo’s staff work long and hard to orchestrate a shit-storm in response. It’s specialised work. Howard allegedly had an operative in his office solely working on “Alan Jones issues” throughout his term in office, former 2UE Jones colleague and big critic Mike Carlton tells The Saturday Paper’s Martin McKenzie-Murray.

Jones’s confected outrage is a tactical dead cat thrown on the table; distracting media from ScoMo & Co’s default policy of bullying and duplicity. Con-man Morrison promises $500 million over five years for “climate and disaster resilience” but it’s an accounting trick; a shonky repackaging of existing aid. No-one falls for it.

Pacific leaders are insulted, alienated by Morrison’s attempt to con them with a fake bribe. Our PM adds injury to insult by adding a bit of emotional blackmail.  Fijian PM, Frank Bainimarama explains.

“The PM … apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific.” He said: “I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very insulting.”

Bainimarama is ropeable. By Saturday, he is all over the media after phoning Guardian Australia. ScoMo’s “condescending” diplomacy is as much of a massive fail as his government’s energy or environment policy or overseas aid abroad vacuums. The Fijian PM is clear that by alienating and insulting Pacific Islanders, ScoMo is helping drive the leaders into the arms of the Chinese. In other words, Morrison’s mission is a total failure.

Kick Australia out of the PIF, calls Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, and veteran advocate for nations battling rising sea-levels caused by global warming. Australia’s membership of the Pacific Island Forum should be “urgently reviewed” for possible sanctions or suspension over the Morrison government’s pro-coal stance, he says. There’s a precedent. Fiji was barred until recently in a move to censure its departure from democracy.

(PIF) … is supposed to be about the well-being of the members,” Tong tells The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age“If one country causes harm to other nations, such as by fuelling climate change, “there should be sanctions”.

“Pacific people see through this facade. We won’t solve the climate crisis by just adapting to it – we solve it by mitigating it, reducing emissions, investing and transitioning to renewables, not shirking our moral duty to fight,” Greenpeace’s Head of Pacific Joseph Moeono-Kolio says. But our federal government just doesn’t get it.

ScoMo started badly by opting for antagonism and insult. Sending junior minister, coal lobby shill, Alex Hawke on ahead to set up talks did not go over well. Hawke recycles denialist garbage. Human influence on global warming is “overblown” he reckons, while in Tuvalu, he peddles the lie that our economy depends on coal.

In reality, the Morrison government’s dance to the tune of the coal barons costs us a fortune. Avoiding climate change reduces our GDP, by $130 billion a year, reports The Australia Institute, citing calculations by government consultant, Brian Fisher. Yet in the reporting of the Forum, our media helpfully relay the government’s re-framing of our global warming crisis into a choice between jobs or a few more emissions.

We are “family” insists Great White Bwana Morrison. A dysfunctional family where a crafty Father Morrison tells the younger fry lies. The Greens Adam Bandt puts his finger on it. Our wretched carry-over Kyoto credits are yet another shonky accounting trick to allow ScoMo to continue his hollow boast that “we’ll meet and beat” our Paris emissions reduction targets. The stunt certainly does not impress beleaguered Pacific leaders.

“At the moment we are not on track to meet the Paris targets. No one in the world is. We are on track to exceed 3.5 degrees of global warming, which will be a catastrophe. The Pacific Island leaders know this.”

Exploiting “a pollution loophole” is how The Australia Institute (TAI) describes Australia’s bad faith. The “pollution loophole” amounts to about eight years of fossil-fuel emissions from the Pacific and New Zealand combined, calculates, TAI, in a research paper it helpfully makes available to leaders before the Forum. The paper pulls no punches from its title onward: How Australia is robbing the Pacific of its climate change efforts.

Worse, it spells out how Islanders are paying for our denialism. Australia intends to use 367 Mt of carbon credits to avoid the majority of emission reductions pledged under its Paris Agreement target. Meanwhile, the entire annual emissions from the Pacific Islands Forum members, excluding Australia, is only about 45 Mt.

The bad faith continues. ScoMo & Co coerce Island leaders into watering down the text of their draft declaration. Or so it seems, unless you are tuned to Radio New Zealand. Local reports have it that after twelve hours, the PIF comes up with a hollow text that mimics the Coalition’s own climate change denialism.

Pacific leaders released a draft declaration in Tuvalu, Tuesday, calling for “an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines” and for all countries “to rapidly phase out their use of coal in the power sector”. It echoes the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call last May.

All references to coal go from the forum communique and climate change statement. Expunged also, are any aims to limit warming to less than 1.5C or any commitment to a plan for net zero emissions by 2050.

Naturally, the Pacific leaders have the nous to issue their own separate declaration with targets which echo its draft statement and which follow the lead of the United Nations, sadly, a body increasingly ignored – if not ridiculed – by our own government and that of its great and powerful friend the US, among a host of others.

By Saturday, Morrison’s stunt with grateful fruit-picker and sock back-up is unravelling badly. Promising to be “a good friend, partner and brother of Pacific Island countries” is China’s special envoy to the Pacific, ambassador Wang Xuefeng, who is quick to exploit the rift between Australia and its Pacific neighbours.

Morrison insists the Forum is a “family gathering” and that “when families come together they talk about the stuff that matters, that’s most important to them. Over the next few days that’s exactly what we’ll do.” It’s ScoMo code, Newspeak for insulting, alienating and bullying the leaders; trashing their hopes and aspirations.

Let the Pacific Islanders worry about rising sea levels and increasing salinity which is rapidly making their homes uninhabitable. In Australia, government energy policy is dictated by a powerful coal lobby – with powerful allies in the media. The PM who brings a lump of coal into parliament also has an assistant recruited from Peabody Coal and has his fossil-fuel lobby and a daft hard right with the upper hand in mind all week.

The Prime Minister’s performance at the Pacific Islands Forum is a monumental failure. Even if his bullying, his intransigence, his inhumanity and chicanery do impress a few one-eyed partisans at home it has dealt irreparable damage to our goodwill in the Pacific, which has not really recovered since the Abbott government  cut $11bn from overseas aid in 2015, a cut which the budgie-smuggler insisted was “modest”.

Fears that China will exploit Australia’s neglectful – if not abusive – relationship with its Pacific neighbours are aired all week but the Morrison government isn’t listening. It does everything in its power to offend and alienate Pacific leaders as it clings to its ideological fixation with supporting a moribund coal industry at home.

Above all, enlisting or inspiring the support of Alan Jones, aka The Parrot, has helped the Morrison government shine a light on the unreason, the bullying, the racism and the misogyny which lie at its heart.

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A conga line of bludgers: Prince Charles (part 2)

By Dr George Venturini  

In October 2012 a former senior royal aide revealed that notorious paedophile Jimmy Savile (actually Sir James Wilson Vincent Savile OBE since 2006), who was said to have acted as a kind of marriage counsellor between Prince Charles and Diana, was a cause for “concern and suspicion” at ‘The Palace’. Mr. Dickie Arbiter had handled media relations for the Prince and Princess of Wales while press spokesman for the Queen between 1988 and 2000.

Savile was known to have visited Prince Charles’s official London residence several times in the late 1980s when he was acting as a kind of marriage counsellor between Charles and Princess Diana. A spokesman for the Prince of Wales confirmed that the Charles and Savile formed a relationship in the late 1970s after coming together through their work with wheelchair sports charities. Charles led tributes to Savile when he died in 2011.

“He would walk into the office and do the rounds of the young ladies taking their hands and rubbing his lips all the way up their arms if they were wearing short sleeves.” Arbiter said of Savile. “If it was summer [and their arms were bare] his bottom lip would curl out and he would run it up their arms. This was at St James’s Palace. The women were in their mid to late 20s doing typing and secretarial work.”

Arbiter did not raise his concerns formally and there is no suggestion Savile committed any crimes while on ‘Royal premises’ or when he was with Prince Charles on numerous occasions from the 1970s onwards. But the concern over his behaviour expressed by a senior aide will raise questions over how Savile, who was under investigation in relation to child abuse involving 300 potential victims, managed to develop such a long-standing relationship with the heir to the throne.

Asked about Savile’s behaviour with the royal assistants or whether Prince Charles had taken any action to find out if anyone in his family or staff might have suffered any abuse or have any information relating to the criminal investigation into Savile’s alleged paedophilia, a spokesman for the Prince said: “We have no record of anyone making a complaint.”

“The Prince first met Savile through their shared interest in supporting disability charities [the Prince became patron of the British Wheelchair Sports Foundation in the late 1970s] and it was primarily because of this connection that they maintained a relationship in the years that followed,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Arbiter said that he thought the women might have thought Savile’s greeting was “rather funny”, but he said it was a cause for concern and he struggled to understand why Savile was granted such access to the ‘Royal Family’.

“I looked at him as a court jester and told him so,” said Arbiter. “I remember calling him an old reprobate and he said ‘not so much of the old’.”

Concern about Savile’s behaviour at ‘The Palace’ emerged as Sir Roger Jones, former chairman of the B.B.C.’s corporate charity Children In Need, said he had been so uncomfortable about Savile that he did not allow him to have any association with the cause. Jones, a B.B.C. governor from 1997 to 2002, said that he had “no evidence” that Savile was up to anything but “we all recognised he was a pretty creepy sort of character.”

“When I was with Children In Need, we took the decision that we did not want him anywhere near to the charity.” he told the B.B.C.

Prince Charles met Savile on numerous occasions. In 1999 he accepted an invitation to a private meal at Savile’s Glencoe home which was later in 2012 daubed with graffiti reading “Jimmy the beast.” Savile asked three local women to dress up in pinafores emblazoned with the letters H.R.H. and Charles subsequently sent the television presenter a Christmas card with the note: “Jimmy, with affectionate greetings from Charles. Give my love to your ladies in Scotland.”

Charles reportedly sent him a box of cigars and a pair of gold cuff-links on his 80th birthday with a note which read: “Nobody will ever know what you have done for this country Jimmy. This is to go some way in thanking you for that.”

Savile used to boast of his royal connections, made sure to be photographed with Charles on numerous occasions and ingratiated himself once telling the press that the Prince was “the nicest man you will ever meet. Royalty are surrounded by people who don’t know how to deal with it,” Savile said in an interview. “I have a freshness of approach which they obviously find to their liking. I think I get invited because I have a natural, good fun way of going on and we have a laugh. They don’t get too many laughs.”

The day after the meal in Glencoe Savile persuaded Charles to join him for a photo opportunity at his local post office where he went to pick up his pension money.

“The post office photo opportunity was definitely [down to] him [Savile],” said Ms. Coleen Harris, Prince Charles’s press secretary. “You always think that other people are getting more out of these things [than the prince] but on the whole it is for a good reason, for the charities and it is a positive thing.” She added: “Personally I always thought he was slightly eccentric, but beyond that I had no idea. He was a slightly odd bloke, but not in a cruel way.”

Mr. Arbiter said that despite Savile’s unusual behaviour with the royal administrative staff there was no evidence of any other cause for suspicion.

“There was a limit to what he could get away with in the royal household,” he said.

He also said ‘The Palace’ advisers felt the Prince’s charities might benefit from a connection with Savile, at the time one of the country’s most famous TV stars.

Perhaps Savile’s most unlikely role was that of personal counsel to Prince Charles in the late 1980s at a time when the ‘Royal Family’ was in deep trouble. The marriages of Charles and Diana and Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson were falling apart. Around new year 1990 Charles asked Savile to help the Duchess of York with what Savile later said was keeping her profile down.

Princess Diana was recorded telling her friend James Gilbey on the so-called “squidgygate tape”: “Jimmy Savile rang me up yesterday, and he said: ‘I’m just ringing up, my girl, to tell you that His Nibs [Prince Charles] has asked me to come and help out the redhead [the Duchess of York], and I’m just letting you know, so that you don’t find out through her or him; and I hope it’s all right by you.’ ” (R. Booth, ‘Jimmy Savile caused concern with behaviour on visits to Prince Charles’, 30 October 2012, theguardian.com).

Sometime in the 1980s Prince Charles met the Anglican priest Peter Ball. They remained good friends since, and Ball, who was boasting of his powerful friends, claimed to be a confidant of the heir to the throne.

In time Ball became Bishop of Gloucester, which is the district covering Prince Charles’ private estate Highgrove.

In July 2018, at an inquiry into Ball’s paedophile activities, Prince Charles appeared and submitted a letter – amongst others – which was read at the inquiry in July 2018, and in which Charles wrote of his “deep personal regret” at being “misled” by Ball.

The inquiry was investigating the actions of the Church of England after an earlier inquiry in 2017 found senior church figures covered-up the abuse allegations against the paedophile Ball, who was gaoled in 2015 after finally being convicted of abusing 18 teenagers and men over a 30-year period. Now aged in his late 80s, he is out on parole.

The inquiry was read extracts from a number of letters exchanged between Ball and Prince Charles when abuse allegations began to surface, including one in 1997 where Charles wrote of a victim: “I’ll see this horrid man off if he tries anything.”

Two years earlier, in 1995, Prince Charles wrote to Ball: “I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strong about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you.” This letter came despite Ball having accepted a police caution for gross indecency.

In November 1993, after a police investigation ended in the caution and his resignation, Ball wrote to Prince Charles: “Life continues to be pretty nasty for me, for it seems that my accusers still want to continue their malicious campaign. Luckily, they are beginning to show some of their fraudulent plans.”

A letter from Prince Charles, dated 16 February 1995, said: “I wish I could do more. I feel so desperately strongly about the monstrous wrongs that have been done to you and the way you have been treated.”

He went on to say it was “appalling” that the archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, had “gone back on what he told me before Xmas that he was hoping to restore you to some form of ministry in the church. I suspect you are absolutely right – it is due to fear of the media … If it is any consolation, the archbishop has written me a letter (between you and me) in which it is also clear that he is frightened of the press – what he calls ‘public perception’, which in fact, [is] perception of events and characters based entirely on lies, invention, speculation and sensation.”

In 1996 Prince Charles referred to efforts by the Duchy of Cornwall to buy a house that could be rented by Ball and his identical twin, Michael, also a bishop.

He wrote: “I pray the Duchy will be able to find something suitable for you both in due course, but it may take a little time to locate it! I long to see you both settled somewhere that suits you and gives you peace and tranquillity – and not too far from here so you can come over more easily.”

In March 1997 Prince Charles wrote to Ball: “I can’t bear it that the frightful, terrifying man is on the loose again and doing his worst.” He added: “I’ll see off this horrid man if he tries anything again.”

In his submission to the inquiry, Charles said that he was “unable to shed any light on references … to a ‘horrid man’ or a ‘frightful and terrifying man’ ” after a gap of more than 20 years. However, he suspected it referred to people trying to discredit Ball.

Prince Charles added that the letter to Ball needed to be read “in the context of my understanding at that time, namely that Peter Ball had been falsely accused of a single offence (the nature of which was unknown to me) … Events later demonstrated beyond any doubt, to my deep regret, that I, along with many others, had been misled.”

Charles was asked to submit a witness statement to the inquiry covering his friendship and correspondence with Ball. After protracted discussions between legal teams representing the prince and the inquiry, he submitted a letter.

In it he said he first became aware of Ball during the 1980s after hearing him preach, and found him to be “an interesting and engaging person.” From 1993 – the year Ball was cautioned by police – he invited Ball to give holy communion at the prince’s home “from time to time.”

The pair corresponded, although contact was “normally instigated and driven” by Ball. The bishop told the Prince that he had been “involved in some form of ‘indiscretion’ which prompted his resignation.” Ball suggested that the complaint came from a single individual who bore a grudge.

According to Prince Charles, the “true context and details” of the complaint did not come to his attention until Ball’s trial and conviction in 2015. “As context, it seems important to say that in the 1980s and 1990s there was a presumption that people such as bishops could be taken at their word and, as a result of the high office they held, were worthy of trust and confidence … At the time there was a presumption on my part of good faith.”

Prince Charles said that he was not aware of the “significance or impact” of the police caution and was “not aware until recently that a caution in fact carries an acceptance of guilt.”

He occasionally sent the Ball brothers “small gifts of money” as well as arranging for a house to be purchased by the Duchy of Cornwall which was rented by the Balls between 1997 and 2011.

The letter said: “At no stage did I ever seek to influence the outcome of either the police investigations into Peter Ball and nor did I instruct or encourage my staff to do so.”

He said he had ceased contact with Ball once he was convicted in 2015. “It remains a source of deep personal regret that I was one of many who were deceived over a long period of time about the true nature of Mr Ball’s activities.”

Richard Scorer, a specialist abuse lawyer representing a number of Ball’s victims, said the Prince’s explanation that he was not aware of the meaning of a caution left his clients “dissatisfied”.

He said: “Prince Charles had access to the best legal advice that money can buy and, as a man in his position, a particular responsibility to check the facts. It is difficult to see his failure to do so as anything other than wilful blindness. His evidence, together with that of Lord Carey, the then archbishop of Canterbury, and other establishment figures who have given evidence this week, will do little to dissuade survivors from the conclusion that the British establishment aided and protected Ball and even now have failed to give a transparent account of their actions.” (H. Sherwood, ‘Prince Charles kept in touch with ex-bishop later jailed for abuse’, 20 July 2018, theguardian.com).

Prince Charles told the inquiry of his deep regret at supporting a Church of England bishop later gaoled for sexual abuse of 18 teenagers and men. Prince Charles will become the global head of the Church of England whenever he ascends the throne.

“Peter Ball told me he had been involved in some sort of ‘indiscretion’ which prompted his resignation as my local bishop,” Charles wrote in his letter.

The Prince wrote that Ball had told him one individual had complained to police but the Crown Prosecution Service had taken no action.

While he had believed Bishop Peter Ball’s denials, Charles said that he had never sought to influence a police investigation.

“Events later demonstrated beyond any doubt, to my deep regret, that I, along with many others, has been misled,” Charles wrote. “It remains a source of deep personal regret that I was one of many who were deceived over a long period of time, about the true nature of Mr. Ball’s activities.”

Prince Charles wrote that his position had occasionally brought him into contact with prominent people who were later accused of serious wrongdoing. “Rather than rushing to private judgement I have always taken the view that the judicial process should take its course,’’ he told the inquiry through his letter.

He said he ceased all contact with Ball once the “true context and details’’ emerged against him at trial in 2015.

“My heart goes out to the victims of abuse and I applaud their courage as they rebuild their lives and so often offer invaluable support to others who have suffered,’’ he wrote (E. Whinnett, ‘Prince Charles’ deep regret over supporting Bishop Peter Ball who was later jailed for sex abuse’, 28 July 2018, news.com.au).

Continued Saturday – A conga line of bludgers: Prince Charles (part 3)

Previous instalment – A conga line of bludgers: Prince Charles (part 1)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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Top End Travels: The Tiwi Islands, the Catholic Church and King Joe of Melville Island

Darwin, Northern Territory

Lush mangroves, the spray of emerald water from the Timor Sea, the sense of the untainted: the journey to the Tiwi Islands, some 80 kilometres north of Darwin, was crudely advertised as one of the Things to Do in the Northern Territory. “Take the opportunity to have a truly fantastic day out. Visit Bathurst Island for this special day and a chance to view and buy Tiwi Island artwork and watch the grand footy final.”

The ferry service seemed a sloppy operation. Locals heading back to the Tiwi Islands new something visitors did not: do not bother pre-purchasing tickets. Do them on the day itself, and avoid the queue. On getting to Bathurst Island, the elegant wooden structure that is St. Therese’s Church is swarming with worshippers and guests: a wedding is about to take place.

Background reading on the Tiwi Islands lends one to squirming discomfort. They are glossily advertised as singular in their indigenous quality. But this count soon unravels. The populace on both islands, Bathurst and Melville, became witness to both the Catholic Church and the obtrusive efforts of roughing pioneers of the British Empire.

One such figure was Robert Joel Cooper, a figure who looks like a man who killed everything he came across. Anybody termed a pioneer in this particularly harsh environment would have to have a certain acquisitive tendency. What was seen, witnessed and met had to be possessed. His gravestone in Darwin’s ill-kept Gardens Cemetery suggests the flavour, reminding us of his known title of “King Joe of Melville Island”, “a man of courage and love for everyone”.

He had all the attributes of the ruthless frontiersman: patriarchy, a tendency to sow his not-so-royal oats, a capacity for a certain work regimen, a firm disciplinarian. He established the buffalo industry on Melville Island, extracting some thousand hides a year. He took an Aboriginal wife, Alice, in what seemed like a primordial gesture. One of his brood, Rueben, became a figure of sporting repute, adept and talented across a range of codes and ultimately minting history as a formidable player of Australian Rules Football, known colloquially in these parts as “footy”.

Cooper’s resume reads like that of any figure of conquest deemed important after the fact. His entry in the Australian Dictionary of Biography shows suitable wildness, with hints of admiration from the authors. Along with this brother George Henry (Harry) Cooper and pastoral lessee E. O. Robinson, he ventured to Melville Island “despite hostile Aborigines.” He did not seem discouraged in being speared in the shoulder; if anything, it emboldened him to “to abduct four Tiwi Aboriginals.” While such acts might well have been seen as those of a traditional looter of specimens and possessions, the authors of the entry condescend to suggest that he “treated his captives kindly and learned their language.” (The rough pioneer as accomplished linguist?  Go figure). In 1905, Cooper became the first “settler” since Ford Dundas was abandoned in 1828, using twenty Port Essington Aborigines to allay the fears of any locals as to what his intentions might have been. The ruse worked; he established his name.

Cooper’s profile matched like attitudes adopted to the indigenous populace more broadly speaking. They were there to be used, abused and infantilised, their autonomy relegated to the level of trinket exotica. Indigenous parenting was effectively disregarded: the Chief Protector in the Northern Territory, by virtue of the Northern Territory Aboriginals Act 1910, became the “legal guardian of every Aboriginal and every half-caste child up to the age of 18 years” irrespective of whether the child had parents or other relatives. This came with the power to confine “any Aboriginal or half-caste” to a reserve or Aboriginal institution. In the Aboriginal Ordinance of 1918, the clutches of the Chief Protector were extended to Aboriginal females from birth to death unless married and living with a husband “who is substantially of European origin.”

Cooper the hunter was also Cooper the connected figure. The Catholic Church, through the figure of Father Francis Xavier Gsell, was convinced by him to focus on neighbouring Bathurst Island to set up a Catholic mission. The good Father got to work, landing on Bathurst Island in 1911 and buying rights to marry Tiwi girls. Fiancées and fathers were won over (again, the message of seduction and appropriation are never far) with cloth, flour and tobacco. With due boastful extravagance, Gsell would recall his time on the island in his memoir, Bishop With 150 Wives.

The influence of Gsell and the church has become part of a formidable public relations exercise executed by the Vatican, masking the effects of what came to be known as inculturation. Publications of praise such as Australia: The Vatican Museums Indigenous Collection, conveys the impression of church guardianship and preservation of Tiwi tradition. No tincture of irony is present in the work. The collection itself boasts an early set of Pukamani poles (tutini) from the islands, grave posts that had made their way into church possession.

Anthropologists were not be left out of the stealing game, and German anthropologist Hermann Klaatsch, the first anthropologist to successfully make his way to Melville Island on September 20, 1906, recounted several feats of theft of Pukamani poles, lamenting that, “due to the smallness of my boat I could not transport more examples.” The penny, he was relieved, never dropped. “Luckily, we remained unnoticed by the blacks in our grave violating enterprise.”

The account might have been somewhat different. A certain Harry Cooper, no less the brother of Joe, may well have distracted the islanders by firing shots over their heads while Klaatsch did his deed. “There, that sounds more like it,” wrote Marie Munkara acidly.

The lingering Catholic presence, through immersion with Tiwi custom as both imposition and adjustment, has left its own traumas. The missionaries used “psychological warfare,” insists Munkara, a process which “corroded our ancient beliefs.” And much more besides.

Having assumed the role of converters and educators, the Church mission on Bathurst Island would eventually be shown in its ghastly manifestations. Protectors, whether religious or secular, became ready abusers. In 1993, claims that some 40 children who had been to St. Xavier’s Boys’ School on Bathurst Island had been sexually abused by Brother John Hallett were reported. Two years later, he received a five-year jail sentence, one quashed five months later by the Northern Territory Court of Criminal Appeal.

Cooper’s circle of intimates supplies a direct line to the spoliation of the Tiwi Islands, but more broadly, the indigenous population in the Northern Territory. Professor W. Baldwin Spencer, the anthropologist who became Chief Protector in 1912, stayed with the King of Melville Island at stages in 1911 and 1912 as he was conducting his own investigations. There was a meeting of minds: one appropriator to another.

Spencer’s 1912 report furnished the natives with a terrifying vision, executed with brazen cruelty towards children who had, by law, been executively entrusted into his care. “No half-caste children should be allowed to remain in any native camp, but they should all be withdrawn and placed on stations.” The mother should, as a matter of necessity, accompany the child “but in other cases, even though it may seem cruel to separate the mother and child, it is better to do so, when the mother is living, as is usually the case, in a native camp.” Unsurprisingly, Cooper, having obtained the confidence of Spencer, would himself be deputised in this less than protective role.

Visiting the Tiwi Islands has the discomforting effect of moving around in a historical zoo. The islands are haunted by Church, the Coopers, and civilisational predations. While the idea of the reserve is now regarded as a vestige of administrative barbarity, the Tiwi message and advertisement is one of false purity and the deceptively unspoilt. This has the effect of a museum feel with damaged artefacts. The wondering tourists with heavy wallets, backpacks, hats and sunscreen resemble the plundering pioneers of old. This time, instead of abducting native residents and doing a spot of grave robbing, they prefer to purchase the art.

Idealisation becomes hard to ignore; the spectator and viewer effectively participate in an exercise of unwarranted elevation and the words of Klaatsch in his Ergebnisse meiner australischen Reise (1907) come to mind. “When you see the black man walking by, with his erect posture, his head decorated with feathers, with the spear in his right hand, then who cannot help form the impression that you have a ‘savage gentleman’ in front of your eyes, a king in the realm of the surrounding nature, to which he is so well adapted.”

The brochure language does little by way of improvement on Klaatsch’s observation. In fact, it replicates it as a timeless fib, a gallery caption. Instead of the “Island of Smiles”, you are greeted by dazed wanderers of the walking wounded playing out a distorted cultural play. In 1999, attention was brought to the fact that the Tiwi Islands was facing a suicide epidemic. The then resident medical practitioner, Chris Harrison, noted a number of instance: 100 attempts, meaning that 1 in 16 or 1 in 20 on the islands had attempted some form of suicide. Nothing to smile at, let alone induce cheer.

When suggestions were made that such rates might be attributed to the influences, amongst other things, of the Church and its predatory practices, officialdom fumed. As then Bishop Ted Collins explained with irritation, “I think they’re trying to put the blame somewhere outside the people rather than acknowledge that it’s happening within the people.” How ungenerous of them to think otherwise.

Beside the Bathurst Island cemetery are two men, seemingly hypnotised, finding shelter under a lonely eucalypt. They gaze aimlessly at a billy boiling over a roughly made fire. There are no fragrant smells of cuisine, no sense of culinary wonder. Instead, there is a distinct sound of eggs clanking against the rim, no doubt hard boiled to oblivion. On the island, there are no food markets or stalls of fresh produce. Food items, canned and frozen, are imported. It is the afternoon, and the islanders migrate from their homes to the various shady spots under suitable vegetation. Lit fires across the island send their bluish plumes towards the sea. The church, in its wooden majesty, is quiet but for the whirring fans. The guests have left, the singing done. We leave Bathurst Island with a sense of loss, and not a smile in sight.

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Dressed for the Fourth of July: The US Imperium Comes Out

The United States of Amnesia has occasionally found expression amongst those despairing at the state of historical consciousness in Freedom’s Land. Gore Vidal remains something of its high priest, his writings a pertinent scolding about what went wrong in the creation of a New Rome in the Americas. From Pilgrim’s Progress to the National Security State, the US became an empire with certain resemblances those of past: territorial acquisitiveness, a code of behaviour to observe and impose, a bore’s insistence on its exceptional qualities.

The word “empire” never really caught on, sealed fast from the cognitive capacities of the US academic and policy establishment. The US was meant to be different, and celebrating the Fourth of July was not intended as a boastful affair of chained slaves on parade, rumbling armaments and purpled victory. Besides, any course Washington had to power was, as Geir Lundestad, former director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, famously observed, invited, not imposed. (Such fine dissembling!)

This point is insisted upon by historians and international theorists alike who avoid the implications of US thuggery and predation: the US merely exerted a sort of hegemony by consensus and encouraged its citizens to spend, spend, spend; it was also, by definition, the only true hegemon (on this, see John Lewis Gaddis) in a world without genuine rivals, which was not the same as calling it imperial. Any urgings that the US empire come out of the closet were met with alarm by such figures as Robert Kagan, who insist that calling it such “would not only be factually wrong but strategically catastrophic.” The US enriched rather than pillaged.

For much of the Obama administration, the imperium adopted what might be called a form of cross-dress or at least a form of fancy dress. No one could be under any illusion what the Chicago lawyer was really up to: the lingering power of Empire required a less than subtle reorientation, or pivot, eastwards to stay the rise of Cathay. It also saw an expansion of such interventions by stealth, with a spike in the use of drone warfare.

Then came President Donald J. Trump, who has nursed dreams of tanks rolling and jets roaring during an official celebration since 2017, when he witnessed the spectacular of a Bastille Day parade. If the French President Emmanuel Macron could bask in such ecstatic celebration of civilisation, why not the US? But even the empire has its logistical limits: a ballooning budget to run such a show, for instance and the prospect of damage to roads. (US infrastructure continues to ail).

Trump’s Fourth of July “Salute to America” was a chance to right the ledger. The US Navy’s Blue Angels impressed; the crowds took their snaps. The New York Times penned its own observation, and not an approving one at that. “Flanked by Bradley armoured vehicles and M1A2 tanks in front of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, Mr Trump payed homage to the five branches of the military as a chorus sang each service hymn and he cued the arrival of fighter jets, helicopters and other military aircraft as they roared overhead.”

Had Trump the militarist come out? Retired Marine Col. David Lapan of the Bipartisan Policy Center caught eye of the tanks but considered them less than impressive “props”. Prior to the celebration, the issue of Trump unleashing tanks in display was seen with mixtures of orgiastic delight and an infantile terror.

The American Empire was gasping to come out of the closet, and dressed for the occasion, but Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, himself a West Point graduate who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, would have none of it. “Tanks aren’t props. They are weapons of war.”

As with all beacon-on-the-hill messages, Trump spoke of an idea rather than an entity, a heart welled up. “We are one people, chasing one dream, and one magnificent destiny.” Then came the dreaming – and so much dreaming it was. “We all share the same heroes, the same home, the same heart, and we are all made by the same Almighty God.” The US was a narrative of, and in, progress. “Together, we are part of one of the greatest stories ever told – the story of America.”

While such notes have a historical rhyming with the speech fare of other presidents, this one was different in backdrop and occasion. Previous stewards of the imperium have preferred to avoid the abject reality of the US as empire, preferring the quiet retreat, the humble commemoration. Doing so assists amnesia, reassuring the US citizenry that Washington remains against wars of conquest, toppling governments and preserving its power.

On this occasion, there was no return to the home state, no low key gathering. George W. Bush preferred West Virginia for four years running; visible, military filled bluster was put to one side. As Time Magazine noted, the bicentennial parade of 1976 saw hundreds of thousands in attendance, but President Gerald Ford preferred a golfing stint in Bethesda.

While Fox News tends to be an annexe of laboured unreality, its commentators were out to celebrate the admission about US military power, taking issue with the naysayers. Lou Dobbs of the Fox Business Network, in the true sentiment of the imperial sissy, was feeling particularly bullish. “No wonder these Snowflake General haven’t won a war since 1991: Military chiefs concerned about @realDonaldTrump’s July Fourth celebration.” Dobbs’ was on shaky ground in his enthusiastic reliance upon a source: a piece in the UK Daily Mail – hardly a paper of record – noting claims by an “insider” that “members of the military’s top brass have been hesitant about accepting Trump’s invitation to the event at the National Mall on Thursday”.

Admittedly, the military high-ups were in short supply, being on leave, travelling or simply not in attendance. The same could not be said for military families given invitations by Trump to attend the VIP section.

Trump was heartily warmed by the occasion, and duly said so. “A great crowd of tremendous Patriots this evening, all the way back to the Washington Monument!” This came with its usual theatrical alterations – or so it was alleged: no show is quite complete without a cosmetic touch-up to Trump’s images, though the accusers were suggesting a mauling of the original. Allegations of authenticity battled those of the inauthentic, and Trump merely garnered more publicity for the occasion. The one entity, undoctored and decked out in the whole war costume of celebration, finally let out into the open with frank vulgarity, was the US imperium.

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ScoMo and co take us one week closer to fascism

“During this campaign we looked like a government in waiting. They looked like an opposition. It is time that the fourth estate held the government to account.”

Albo wants a press that speaks truth to power? Don’t we all? The newly anointed Labor leader takes aim at all press lackeys, hacks and toadies. He certainly gets their attention. Albanese can’t even decide how to pronounce” his own name, sneers our ABC’s Tiger Webb – instantly on Albo’s page – and case. Tiger implies Albo’s an indecisive, bastard scarred for life, by what Webb calls his single-parent upbringing and dramatic, late-in-life, rendezvous with his father.

There’s a mini-series in there, somewhere, along with Kill Bill, but the smart money is on Albo The Musical while Wokka’s World, an aquatic adventure series, where youngsters bolt marine art on to dead coral, is in pre-production. Truly.

Reef Ecologic’s Tourism Recovery Project promises to “lead in the design, creation and installation of underwater and inter-tidal interpretive art pieces across the Whitsunday region, coral restoration and educational activities”.

Dying marine creatures can look quite unsightly, but visitors can now feast their eyes on beautiful, artistic replicas.

The art attack aims to support tourism on the reef. Yet there’s even more good news and not just Adani which has been saved from bankruptcy by Modi’s newly returned BJP government. Adani looks like being fast-tracked to approval so that poor people in Bangladesh and other consumers may soon pay inflated prices for dirty Australian coal from its Carmichael Mine. This coal has a high ash content, causing deadly air pollution. But if we don’t sell it, someone else will.

There’s been some local argy-bargy because India doesn’t make enough electricity to officially permit its export to other countries but Adani has it sorted thanks to its fabulous mutually beneficial relationship with India’s PM Modi and his BJP.

Apart from Adani, news is full of the uplifting story about how Labor stuffed up an “unlosable” election. Got nothing right. By Sunday, Matthias Cormann does his “Labor, Labor” shtick on ABC Insiders. It’s all the Coalition does. A caring media tips buckets of gratuitous advice all over Albo. Look out for shifty Bill! Labor? The Labor Party is just one big factional brawl. Oddly, while ScoMo’s government helps sets fire to the planet, no-one seems to deem it newsworthy.

Nor do half of us seem to care that we are about to get into bed with thieves, rogues and scoundrels and those who question the wisdom of the Adani madness are howled down as being anti-blue-collar, latte-sipping economic saboteurs. Or in league with The Greens, whom everyone knows, are more harmful than any right wing extremist.

A class act, our ABC publishes Tiger’s public interest Albo story, just in case anyone mistakes Albo for a normal person. Doubtless, this comforts former Packer staffer, Network 10 morning show panellist, TV celebrity and “print media icon”, Ita Buttrose, ABC’s latest chairwoman, a Liberal stooge. Buttrose is in a blue funk about how Auntie lets her bias show.

“Sometimes I think, people without really knowing it, let a bias show through,” Ita says; her own pro-Coalition bias in full view, Wednesday, on ABC radio. It’s an alarming, unsubstantiated attack upon her own staff’s integrity. Part of her mission to get ABC “functioning again”, – like a sluggish colon – and with fibre – “stable management” and a varied diet.

“I think, sometimes, we could do with more diversity of views,” Buttrose’s studied indirection parrots the sniping of those who hate being held to account. Stay tuned for Auntie’s Anti-vaxxer and Ratbag half-hour. Perhaps One Nation’s empiricist, celebrity-nutter, Malcolm Roberts, could get his own NRA-sponsored show. Bush-lawyers, guns and money?

Money is a dirty word at our ABC. Under-funding our national broadcaster helps the Coalition keep Auntie under control – along with stacking the ABC board with Liberals and berating senior staff and board members. Last year, the government’s formal complaints broke all records, reports Jonathan Holmes. Its latest three-year “freeze” to the ABC’s annual funding indexation, is a big cut. Announced in 2018, it will cost the national broadcaster $83.7 million.

Now ScoMo’s government is miraculously returned, with some ABC help, $14.6 million of the new funding cuts will begin in July. Will jobs be lost? Buttrose equivocates, “There are many ways of achieving savings, you know. It’s not just people.” ABC staff are overjoyed by Ita’s coyly evasive, enigmatic reassurance. Management is ecstatic.

Stand by for even more repeats of Antiques Road Show, QI and further, endless renovation of Grand Designs.

But how good is ScoMo’s captain’s (cabinet) pick? Bugger the independent selection panel. Bugger the hapless applicants, gulled into addressing key selection criteria and a stroppy interview panel. No hard feelings, boys. A ScoMo lapel badge to former Fairfax Media CEO, Greg, “Maserati” Hywood, former News Corp CEO, Kim Williams, Film Victoria president Ian Robertson, and Gilbert + Tobin managing partner Danny Gilbert. You were all too qualified for the job.

Ita hasn’t been active in media management or high-profile chair roles for years; her experience running or editing large outlets is decades in the past, and confined to print journalism — the only medium the ABC isn’t involved in. She has no hands-on experience in meeting the challenges of digital media, Google and Facebook, streaming services or producing quality Australian content.” Bernard Keane sums up. But she won’t rock the boat; just what the Liberals are after.

How good is the ABC, moreover? Waking up to itself; realising its true role as ScoMo’s megaphone? Following all the best global trends, this week, our lucky country finds itself gently, but firmly, propelled further along the path to fascism.

As Henry Reynolds, observes, Morrison’s signature slogan about stopping the boats comes from the same deep well of intolerance, xenophobia and racist chauvinism as Trump’s Mexican wall and his recent, lunatic, five per cent tax. The Donald will tax all imports from Mexico until the Mexican government does something about “the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory” even though, as US corporations protest, trade and national security are separate issues.

On cue, a phantom boat turnback is reported by Border Force. Twenty people from Sri Lanka including “at least one baby” – now a type of weaponised incursion -seeking asylum are scooped up and flown back to their persecutors in violation of Article 33 (1 and 2) of the 1954 UN convention regarding the status of refugees. Article 33 (1) states,

“No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”  It’s a convention Australia helped create. Now we treat it with contempt. But look over there! Mainstream media rush to publish the notion that the asylum-seekers were enticed by Labor.

Keen followers of Cirque du ScoMo’s fantastical illusionist act Keeping Australians Safe will recall Ring Master ScoMo bellowing – hyperventilating about Labor’s Medevac perfidy. Australia would be flooded with fake refugees because of Labor. Labor helped vote in the “Medevac Bill” aka the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 moved by The Greens which provides urgent medical treatment in Australia to refugees detained offshore.

It’s clearly Labor’s-soft-on-borders fault for polluting our Christian charity and national security with feeble-minded leftist human rights dogma. “Look what Labor’s gone and done now” plays well for a day or two. In The Weekend Australian, Peter Dutton warns us we can expect more. An external threat is always a boon to any autocratic regime.

“Obviously people thought there was going to be a change of government… people smugglers have been marketing this.”

Cutting back on ABF patrols to save fuel may have played a part, but that matter is behind us Dutton assures the SMH. Patrols were restored in December after cutbacks were first denied. It is impossible to know, given government secrecy. Scott Morrison pioneered the practice of declaring all on water matters off limits to journalists. It’s part of the fiction that we are at war with asylum-seekers and is a key part of the wall of silence protecting the Morrison government.

On the other hand, push factors are more likely. The asylum seekers may have fled for their lives after the fatal Easter bombing attacks on three churches and four hotels in Batticaloa, an eight hour drive east of Colombo. At least 257 people, many of them Christians, were killed in a wave of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday. The National Tawheed Jamath Islamist extremist group which aligns itself with ISIS, has been blamed for the attacks.

Alternatively, Human Rights Watch warns of Sri Lanka’s unwillingness to begin accountability and reconciliation processes after its thirty-year civil war which ended ten years ago. Remaining in force is The Prevention of Terrorism Act which facilitates torture and other abuses. Muslims and other minorities face violence from ultra-nationalist groups.

They are not alone. As Michael Sainsbury argues in Crikey, Morrison’s push for religious freedoms cannot be taken seriously while his government continues to ignore the religious persecution of millions in Sri Lanka, India – or any other of our trading partners – even if ScoMo does use religious freedom as an excuse to legitimise discrimination and bigotry.

“Congratulations @narendramodi on your historic re-election as Prime Minister of India. Australia and India enjoy a strong, vibrant and strategic partnership, and our India Economic Strategy will take our ties to a new level. I look forward to meeting again soon,” Scott Morrison tweetsIn reality, the two nations are not close partners. India and Australia differ on foreign policies, the legacies of empire, the cold war, even the nature of international politics.

Beyond ScoMo’s toadying, moreover, as Sainsbury notes, Modi’s divisive Hindu religious-nationalist government is but one of many regimes across the region, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines which persecute religious minorities. Above all, we must contend with China’s religious repression of Uyghur Muslims in the name of anti-separatism and anti-terrorism. “Separatism” is a crime which can incur the death penalty.

The officially atheist Communist Party has locked up at least one million ethnic Uyghur Muslims -some authorities estimate two million – in gulags in their home state of Xinjiang that Beijing calls “re-education camps”.

None of this is addressed, however, by deputy PM Michael McCormack or Mick-Mack as the PM prefers in his team coach patter. Mick-Mack will answer no questions at all. On water. Off limits. He repeats the lie that the Sri Lankans were entering Australia “illegally”. Not one reporter at the press conference remonstrates; raises the fact that seeking asylum by boat is not illegal. McCormack simply repeats the expedient lie that refugees endanger our national security.

“No, I’m not going to provide any more details because of security reasons – that’s always the case.”

Enter, “Il Dutto”, Home Affairs Supremo, Peter Dutton, a former Queensland drug and sexual offenders cop whose family trust owns two childcare centres, a situation which may put him in breach of section 44 (v) of the constitution because it seems as if he has a beneficial interest in a trust that has an agreement with the public service. Family First Senator Bob Day, a former Liberal was disqualified by the High Court from sitting in parliament on the same grounds.

Dutto changes the story in the light of damaging revelations from locals that no boat is sighted. Activity involving people boarding a plane is reported. The fake refugees are real enough but the Christmas Island landing is a false account.

The boat arrival is pure fiction. No locals believe it. The Federal Government must have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the reported arrival of 20 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Christmas Island, its Shire President drily tells the ABC. Fine-tuning the Coalition narrative, Australian Border Force claims to have returned 186 people to Sri Lanka from ten people smuggling boats since September 2013. Secrecy shrouds turnbacks, but it’s clear the boats have not stopped.

Last year, Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs stated that, 33 vessels have been intercepted under OSB, with 827 people returned to their country of departure or origin, as of September 2018. What became of these people is anyone’s guess. Now that asylum-seekers have been dehumanised, demonised and the power of the state has grown, few of us dare ask.

The rise of a xenophobic, radical right and its closet embrace by Liberal and National parties worries Henry Reynolds. It’s the big story of election 2019 but it receives little attention. Reynolds quotes The New York Times‘ opinion writer, Ross Douthat who discerns “the global fade of liberalism”. Recent events suggest we are not immune to the trend.

As radical right groups gain more support, they are brought in from the fringe; “blessed with mainstream recognition and even respectability”. Liberals do a preference deal with Palmer’s United Australia. Queensland’s LNP does a deal with One Nation. For Reynolds, “Of greater significance was the fact that the deals worked and there was no obvious backlash from the electorate. Such arrangements are presumably here to stay.” All week it’s the elephant in the room.

Two cheers for Adani. This week sees a big win for the mining oligarchy which runs its pliant, client, ScoMo government. Queensland folds to federal bullying. Giving the bird to scientists, who have yet to learn what’s good for business is good for the nation, a Neocon article of faith, it pretends Adani has a plan to protect our black-throated finch.

Adani shares immediately rocket up thirty per cent on the news. Expect Adani’s flawed “water management” plan to receive similar approval, despite the company refusing to accept scientific advice and recommendations.

A state election looms and the Labor government is widely tipped to lose by an eager Murdoch media monopoly. A bloodbath, shrieks The Courier Mail. Approving Adani is unlikely to provide electoral salvation for Labor if the federal election is a guide, nor will it provide the jobs, nor the economic boost so widely over-promised. Yet that is what the Palaszczuk government is doing. “Tripping over themselves”, writes Renew Economy’s Michael Mazengarb, they rush to push approvals through, even though the state is very much divided on climate change and coal.

Yet the Adani story is not just about Adani. It’s about the host of other miners who seek to open the Galilee Basin. Each year, coal mines may soon spew 320 million tonnes of black rock and toxic dust up into what was once the grassland habitat of the unsuspecting black-throated finch. With the mines will come coal and gas fracking. About to unfold is an unmitigated economic and ecological disaster as other mines close while our exported coal raises global warming.

“Opening up the Galilee Basin” will cripple our existing thermal coal mines, costing thousands of existing Australian coal industry jobs in ten years. As The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss frequently points out, if this government were serious about preserving jobs in coal industry it would not be agitating to open any new mines. Adding another thirty percent capacity? Complete madness.

Yet the Adani cult is not rational. The phenomenon is less a policy than a cargo cult, a group psychosis in which we beggar ourselves; destroy our natural heritage in the delusion we will become fabulously wealthy. For Adani it is hubris. Faced with an energy market in India where renewable energy is twenty to fifty per cent cheaper than power plants burning imported coal, the company does not want to seem to have gambled and lost.

Modi government subsidies will help. Along with land, water and infrastructure and permission to charge higher prices to the state, these include declaring a special economic zone around Adani’s proposed plant in Jharkhand, which will spare it billions in taxes and import duties on plant and equipment – for a while.

Queensland and the nation is also granting absurdly generous concessions to a firm mining a toxic commodity in terminal decline. Adani may use huge quantities of ground water – free for its mining and extensive washing of its raw coal. It will enjoy a diesel fuel subsidy worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to darling Adani.

While the Queensland government has updated Queensland’s mine rehabilitation legislation over last two years, Adani is still entitled to leave a very big hole in the ground in perpetuity. Finally, it is granted seven-year royalty holiday – a capital subsidy of $600 million to $700 million, although it has yet to provide the necessary financial assurance.

Meanwhile, Holy ScoMo explodes with sonorous high intent and low cunning. Modestly – no time to waste – he sets his sights on a fourth term. Fronting a lacklustre rabble of spivs, duds and fizzers, surprised to find themselves not in opposition, but behaving that way just in case, the PM morphs into Super-Coach “Sco-Motivator”.  Only ScoMo can put spin on spin. He’s incredible. You can tell his speech-writer has been working overtime, taking notes from Sammy J.

“Here we are, a fresh team. A team that is hungry, a team that is committed, a team that is united in the way we were able to fight on this campaign, to do one simple thing; that is to ensure Australians will be at the centre of our gaze. We will govern with humility; we will govern with compassion. We will govern with strength and we will govern for all Australians.” 

How good is ScoMo, our Aussie-centric, super-coach? Our nation’s super glue? Mr inclusivity with industrial strength empathy – but strong -our own iron chancellor, ScoMo? No-one boasts such humility. Uriah Heep, eat your heart out.

A fresh team? Parody abounds. ScoMo taps Tassie Peter Pan, Dick Colbeck, Minister for both old and young Australians. He upgrades former Assistant Treasurer, Stuart Robert, to Minister for Government services. (Fellow evangelical, Robert loves government services: he had to repay $38,000 he accidentally charged the taxpayer for his personal internet use.)

Nothing to see here. Brigadier Linda Reynolds (ret) will be beaut in Defence. True. She once worked for global gun-runner, multinational merchant of death, “defence contractor” Raytheon. But there’ll be no conflict of interest. Arms- length detachment. Not that it matters in the Trump new world order. Deal-maker Donald, Scott Morrison’s role model, and latest bestie, owns Raytheon stock. Stocks rose after Trump’s fifty-nine Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian airbase in April 2017, although Snopes says there is no evidence to suppose that the US godfather benefited personally.

Similarly, Paul Fletcher will make a fantastic Minister for Communications given his previous career with Optus and his position as parliamentary secretary to former Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will give him heaps of insight into how the NBN lemon was conceived purely to oppose Labor’s better, fibre to the premises concept.

“Today 9.28 million premises around Australia are able to connect to the NBN and almost 5.3 million premises are connected,” Fletcher boasts, after bagging Labor’s mess which the poor Coalition is forever having to clean up. We’d be happier knowing we were going to stay connected, Mr Fletcher and the more you add, the slower it seems to go.

Along with a slew of other self-parodying cabinet captain’s picks, ScoMo’s team pep talk is pure parody in motion.

How good is ScoMo the daggy-dad joker? An adoring nation just loves his unity gag. Already, on Sky, Christian Porter, our ambitious Attorney-General also picks up Michaelia Cash’s former Ministry of white-boarding, wage-freezing, penalty-rate stripping and union-bashing aka Minister for underemployment. Keep him occupied. Already, on Sky, Porter chortles about the voice to parliament, poor overburdened Ken Wyatt is tasked to bring about. After he closes the gap.

“Too vague”, Porter pontificates. Chris Kenny is all ears and eyebrows. Christian is not insulting Ken personally. It’s The Voice. He steps up the Coalition campaign against first peoples. Indigenous people need to learn they want far too much. Besides, ScoMo’s government knows best. Voice to parliament? Heavens. Don’t know what they’re talking about.

The great miracle-worker, Two-Seat Morrison will be flat out like a lizard drinking just keeping his cabinet on the rails and the Chinese language helpers of the Broad Church of his party out of court, let alone attempt to achieve anything. And even if the tax cuts don’t go through, it will help him blame Labor and their unholy alliance with the toxic Greens.

But achievement’s never troubled ScoMo much in the past and it won’t bother him much in the future, so long as the coal mines get going, the donations start flowing and he gets to bag Labor and its union bosses every day. So bridging visas have blown out by 147 per cent to a record 229,242 holders at the end of March? All Labor’s fault.

Having Ita’s ABC on speed dial helps, too. Bugger the fourth term. Go for a fifth. A sixth is not out of the question if Clive’s still around with his crazy anti-Labor propaganda.

 

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Beyond the Palace Letters

This is a kind of tragic-comic opera – an opera buffa, in many acts and parts, observed by a traveller to Australia who is likely to spend the rest of his life surrounded by an indifferent populace. It is a ‘mob’ – unconcerned about the original and continuing wrong of 1788 and lacking in development because conditioned by, and resigned to, a backward-looking view of life. That view suffers from the subjection to, and dependence on, a foreign authority undesirable for any imaginable reason. It was called ‘The Monarchy’ in a recent medieval pronouncement, written to deny access to some bits of the place’s history: the so-called ‘Palace letters’ (Hocking v. Director-General of the National Archives of Australia [2019] Federal Court of Australia, Full Court 12, 8 February 2019). Not that it matters much to the plebs; for them history pertains to the national religion: sport – from football to just about any physical activity, and even the passive observation thereof – so long as the brain in not engaged. A sense of safety comes from the ‘ruler at home’. But ‘The Monarchy’ is sectarian, parasitic by definition, steeped in privilege, inclined to prejudice, obscenely wealthy, and more than acceptably unhinged. And these are ‘qualities’ to which – except for money – even the furiously moronic machos claim to appear opposed and with which, anyway, they do not like to paint themselves.

Against the receding backdrop of the Royal Ambush of 1975, the opera is filled with criminal banksters, dilettante ‘statesmen’ – though there are some women on the stage, self-proclaimed ‘public women and men’ who perform in pirouettes in clumsy imitation of a foreign custom called ‘parliamentary democracy’, ostensibly as loyal subjects but often in pectore perjurers, while in substance the un-elected, not-responsible  moneybags play the part of substitutes for the lords – as ‘at home’.

It is a bilge of imitation of outdated, decrepit institutions of public life, strongly relying on the passive acceptance of lies, in peace – as well as in war, and a proclivity to commit to war ‘on call’ and frequently. It is an attitude continued with the parroting callisthenics of and in parliament, with the prescribed steps of a baroque and  privileged remoteness of an archaic system of justice, with a decaying public administration, comforted by brain-sucking and sometime criminal-religious organisations, an un-delivering system of education, a pretend-classless society,  and a delinquent system of social assistance which fatally accepts permanent un-employment, badly hidden under-employment, homelessness and generally lack of care from the cradle to the grave – just like ‘at home’.

The main actors are the Philistines who command the submission – they do not worry about respect – of the occasional out-of-tune choir which sings that the hoi polloi are ‘young and free’ in a home ‘girt by sea’.

The opera’s performances evoke the crimes reduced to almost passable and always indifferent words, easily forgotten by the passing of time so that previous mistakes may turn out to be new to new no-nothing generations. Some of the topics dealt with are: a pervasive malpractice, an unctuous attitude to power at the apex of which is ‘The Monarchy’, a tolerance of continuing corporate crimes, a habit (here called cultcher) of vassalage, adventures involving encounters with spying on neighbours, dancing with Saddam, or familiar paso doble steps such as AWB, Iraq, police’s crimes, banksters’ crimes, clergy’s crimes, and so on, down to the recent Invictus Games sponsored by arms manufacturers totally un-caring but for their profits.

The present libretto covers events from at least the beginning of ATM (the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison trio) in early 2013 to the Royal Commission on banksters in 2019.

An indifferent populace has been led for the past six years through three-words banal and demonstrably empty hooplas by slogans such as “climate change = crap”; “jobs and growth”; and – recently – “fair dinkum power”. The latest – one most ardently hopes the last – is the intellectual measure of a cheap marketeer who sees himself as a leader, when he is, in fact, an inferior combination of Arthur Miller’s ‘Willy’ Loman and Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry.

The ‘Palace Letters’

The misadventures of a banana monarchy and the tragic Opera Buffa of an indifferent Australian populace.

By Dr George Venturini

Prologue

An intending traveller to Australia in the early nineteen-sixties, before departing from Singapore, would have found, in the best provided bookshop-with-bric-à-brac, a little book by the attractive title: The lucky country. It remains the fame-giving work of Donald Horne, a caring Australian essayist and public intellectual.

The traveller would be surprised by observations such as these: “…while ordinary Australians have many fine and some quite exceptional characteristics, the present elites in Australia are mostly second-rate. Many of the nation’s affairs are conducted by racketeers of the mediocre who have risen to authority in a non-competitive community where they are protected in their adaptations of other people’s ideas. … Much energy is wasted in pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia. … In this atmosphere cleverness and talent can become devious … What often perishes altogether – in the bureaucracy of business or of government or in the universities and in such intellectual communities as exist – are originality, insight and sensitivity, the creative sources of human activity. In an imitative country no one has to be creative, the creative person is likely to be confronted with distrust – not perhaps in science or the arts, but almost everywhere else. It is as if the masters of Australia have inherited a civilization whose rules they do not understand. … The potential for change within the ordinary people of Australia is great; it is their misfortune that their affairs are controlled by second-rate men who cannot understand the practicality of change, who are, in other words, ‘conformist’.” (D. Horne, The lucky country, Penguin, Australia, 1964 at 39,40,41).

With the title immediately misunderstood, but gladly received in the common parlance, The lucky country was declared dead twelve years after. (D. Horne, Death of the lucky country, Penguin, Australia, 1976).

Horne’s criticism came after a constitutional crisis of revolutionary proportion, which was accompanied by increasing economic difficulties and inflation. And inflation – according to Horne – “demanded explanation. World inflation is not only an economic crisis. It is a cultural crisis and in such a crisis there can be a return to the consolation of old faiths. A large part of Australians’ values are measured in money. Describe our economic life and you describe a large part of our culture.” Id., at 62-63. [Emphasis added]

How could such pessimistic view be justified?

* * * * *

Well, Australians had not seen a Labor government since Curtin-Chifley government. That government had led the country through the years of the second world war, when Australians had been called to defend their country against the threat of a Japanese invasion. It would become the only occasion, one in sixteen, when Australians had not served as White Gurkhas of ‘Great and Powerful Friends’. In 1949 the federal government had returned the Liberal-Country Party; it would last with Robert Gordon Menzies until 1966 and give him, who had sold ‘pig-iron’ to the Japanese rising Empire in 1938 and for that earned the moniker, the opportunity to lie in 1965 to the Australian Parliament and people  over a telegram from the Saigon military junta of Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Their call for intervention was never found.

In between, Menzies found several occasions in the nineteen-thirties to exalt the Nazi dictatorship, and of hallucinating in the presence of Queen Elizabeth by declaiming during her visit to Parliament House in 1963 that “I did but see her passing by and yet I love her till I die.” followed by the customary, servile applause.

What Menzies did not say is that he was using lines 3 and 4 of the first stanza of Thomas Ford (1580-1648), a fairly obscure, forgotten English poet and lutenist of the seventeenth century.

There is another side of Menzies, less poetic. “There is a good deal of real spiritual quality”, Menzies declared on his return from Germany in 1938, “in the willingness of young Germans to devote themselves to the service and well-being of the state” (S. Macintyre, The succeeding age 1901-1942, Oxford University Press 1986, at 183). And in April 1941, as he was returning from London, leaving behind the fractured dream of replacing Churchill, he lamented that he had a “sick feeling of repugnance and apprehension“ which grew on him as he was nearing Australia and whereby he was wishing  that he could “creep in quietly into the bosom of the family and rest there.” (Menzies Diary, 23 May 1941, quoted in D. Day, Menzies and Churchill at war – A controversial new account of the 1941 struggle for power, Angus & Roberson Publishers, North Ryde, N.S.W.,1986, at 153).

Despite such unambiguous appeals to patriotism, Menzies was giving the Australians of the time what they most still crave: a sense of ‘respectability’ as defined by the conservative parties of the money bags and agrarian socialists and linked to ‘white’ Anglo-Saxon Protestant values. The modern Liberal-National combination still claims a monopoly on ‘loyalty’ – once to Britain and since the nineteen-forties to the United States. For three quarters of the life of Australia the Liberals have tried and mostly succeeded in establishing a monopoly on political ‘legitimacy’. And that has made of the Labor Party some kind of raggedy mob of dilettanti, often to be branded as a troop of clowns who have come to town to make a great noise but would not be tolerate for long. For good measure anyway, the game had been rigged in favour of the ‘divine rulers’. Labor had won an outright majority of votes in the 1954 elections, and a majority of the preferred votes in the 1961 and 1969 elections – but was still unable to obtain a majority of the House of Representatives, where a government – traditionally – is been formed.

Menzies was succeeded by Harold Holt (1966–1967), who during his visit to the United States in June 1966, in a speech at the White House,  departed from the prepared text and enthusiastically declared that Australia would be “all the way with LBJ” in the Vietnam war – sharing in the spreading of some 80 million litres of Agent Orange, a gene damaging chemical defoliant; John McEwen (1967-1968), briefly and un-memorably; John Gorton (198-1971), who in March 1969, toasting President Richard Nixon at the White House, reaffirmed that “… we will go Waltzing Matilda with you.” – for the same criminal function; and, finally, William McMahon (1971-1972), a rudderless joke.

In 1972 there was a surprise. Its name was Edward Gough Whitlam.

Born in Kew, Melbourne, hence from a ‘respectable’ side of the tracks, he was the son of a  federal public servant who would later serve as Commonwealth Crown Solicitor – a man deeply involved in  human rights issues who would exert a powerful influence on his son. Gough was fortunate enough to meet a glorious woman in Margaret, the daughter of Wilfred Robert ‘Bill’ Dovey, a New South Wales Supreme Court judge. That, too, added to ‘respectability’.

Elected to the federal Parliament in 1952 for the Labor Party, Whitlam became deputy leader in 1960 and leader in 1967. The conservatives had been served notice. Here was a man of unquestionable ‘provenance’, with a great education, a powerful erudition, supported by an extraordinary memory for the most minute details, equipped with a ferocious intellect and a tongue to go with it. In and out of Parliament he stood his ground without fear and occasionally without the customary hypocritical forms which characterises the boring etiquette of the Westminster System. It is a system so phoney that it had to steal a word from the French language to define its manners.

So Whitlam thought nothing of calling William Meskill (Bill) Bourke – an informer on the Labor Party of which he was a member and later a collaborator with the party’s enemies at the time of the split in 1955 – “this grizzling Quisling”, of calling Garfield Barwick – who would, while High Court Chief Justice, play a role in Whitlam’s downfall – a “bumptious bastard”, and stating that William Charles ‘Bill’ Wentworth, M.P. exhibited a “hereditary streak of insanity”. After referring to Sir William ‘Billy’ McMahon, the future prime minister he would defeat in 1972, as a “quean”, he was called to apologise. He did so. In time he would quickly find words for his nemesis and the usurper of his prime ministership: he would famously call the beneficiary of the Royal Ambush “Kerr’s cur” and the supporting Garfield a “truculent runt”.

Once in government, in mid-1974 Whitlam had had to face what historian Russel Ward branded as follows: “So in April 1974 Her Majesty’s loyal opposition behaved more like a gang of fascist thugs than responsible politicians in a democratic country.” They forced Whitlam to seek a double dissolution eighteen months before an election should have been necessary (R. Ward’s Concise history of Australia, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane 1992 at 322).

Between 1967 and 1972 Whitlam had conceived, set out and refined the Programme he would submit to the “men and women of Australia” at Blacktown, N.S.W. on 13 November 1972.

The Whitlam Programme contained three broad directives:

  • to promote equality;
  • to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of their land; and
  • to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.

In government Whitlam articulated those objectives, establishing priorities:

  • to end conscription,
  • to bring the boys back from the criminal adventure which was Vietnam,
  • to reopen diplomatic ties with China,
  • to recognise the independence of Papua New Guinea,
  • to establish the Law Reform Commission,
  • to abolish appeals to the Privy Council,
  • to establish the Legal Aid Office,
  • to establish the Trade Practices Commission,
  • to establish a single Department of Defence,
  • to establish Medibank,
  • to begin the work for the recognition of Indigenous land rights,
  • to set up Telecom and Australia Post from the Postmaster-General Department,
  • to begin to work towards equal pay for women,
  • to abolish tertiary education fees,
  • to raise the age pension to 25 per cent of average male weekly earnings,
  • to introduce no-fault divorce,
  • to see enacted a series of laws outlawing racial and sexual discrimination,
  • to extend maternity leave and benefits to single mothers,
  • to prepare the construction of the National Gallery of Australia,
  • to establish the National Parks and Wildlife Service,
  • to set up the National Film and Television School,
  • to establish the Order of Australia to replace the British Honours system, and
  • to change the national anthem to ‘Advance Australia fair’.

If nothing else, the Whitlam government went into power with a sense of agenda and spent its short terms in office obsessed, perhaps fatally, by its execution. All told, the two-phase governments lasted between December 1972 and November 1975: 35 months and two elections.

Maybe Whitlam had offered too much, and asked too much.

Most Australians – those ‘who matter’ anyway – like the kind of English, passionless muddling through which is available in grand loads ‘at Home’. Muddling through comes as way of life, a cult almost and its religious solemnity is celebrated by looking from below at a grandiosely dysfunctional, decaying, parasitic, over-dated ‘Family’, with its be-medaled males and ‘forever youthful’ women, standing above, from the Palace balcony, for the populace to admire it.

It does not matter that Australians like to make joke of some, perhaps many, members of ‘The Family’ – better: ‘The Firm’.

Muddling through suits Australians, because in the royal world of smoke, mirrors, hints and protocols there is room for authorised doubt. It helps equivocation, non-commitment. Deception? That too.

Whitlam would have, through education free for all, pulled back the curtain on Australian corroded and corrosive political system, which has been rendered inchoate – bland public performances by ‘battery-farm’ politicians alternating with vicious television ads – after the interminable years of cynical massage by consultants and pollsters. This is anyway the story through ‘the tube’, which arrived about sixty years ago, in Menzian time.

There is hardly any difference nowadays between a commercial and a ‘political’ advertisement. And how blah it has all become!

It is the ‘politics’ as expressed and practiced at the pub, or in the living rooms, and not exclusively by white men with a limited education and a will determined not to be disturbed by curiosity. But television – particularly private television – does not hold the truth. Television is most of the time an amusement park, a bad assortment of a circus, a carnival, a travelling troupe of acrobats and story-tellers, singers and dancers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion-tamers and football players.

That ‘third parent’ – if a child were to be so lucky to have the other two together – is in the boredom-killing business. It is rarely the source of truth, and even more infrequently of education.

Two generations, at least, of such ‘non-participants to public life’ – as it suits the two-party-Westminster-like system – have mistaken illusion for reality. Because of that the viewers of such incantation do whatever ‘the tube’ tells them, think like ‘the tube’, rear their children like ‘the tube’, dress like ‘the tube’, eat like ‘the tube’. In that ultimate theatre a mindless populace has found its ultimate charlatans.

These plastic men – and some women, too – these ‘managers’ work for the corporate society into which they have turned Australia, a section of the ‘western’ corporate world in a corporate universe. This world quite simply is a vast cosmology of small corporations orbiting around larger corporations – mostly foreign, mostly dependent on the banks – which in turn revolve around giant corporations. Yet, this is not the real world. It is the ‘world’ of the post-Whitlam ‘restoration’, largely with the values of ‘the market’.

In the fierce arena of ‘politics’ as ‘played’ today if ‘the tube’ hints or says that one has received, or is about to receive a fantastic sum of money, or is corrupt, or if the-one-proprietor-media say so, that is enough not to question and to give the vote to ‘the other party’. And the ‘Westminster System’ is based on two parties – no more, no room for shades, doubt, honest compromise or third solution to a problem.

Such backward, feudal and deleterious over-simplification, more often than not, committed to a short-bite sound, without room for discussion, produces the murmurs which cost the future to Cairns and Connor, portrayed the Whitlam Government as a band of amateurs, who could not be trusted to replace the ‘tried experts’.

That the experts turned out to be a prime minister and his foreign minister enabling the crooks of the Australian Wheat Board Ltd., and all of them operating against United Nations declared sanctions, is mentioned only in passing – if at all.

Memories are very short, and selectively so. And so the helots – who in ancient Sparta were a class of serfs neither a slave nor free citizens – draw the despairing conclusion that ‘they – meaning ‘the politicians’ – are all the same’. But in this miasmatic presentation the Liberals are still ‘more respectable’. The question remains: ‘respectable’ by whom, where, why and how? The monarchy needs such morons; it thrives on them.

One is back to the master-servant relationship which seems to pervade the Australian society.

Whitlam might have been persuaded to blast through the ideological sclerosis of the two parties ‘system’, to make room for voices different from the original inhabitants, the old and the ‘new Australians’ – that mysterious mélange of different people referred to en masse as multicultural, who should be welcome – and not ostracised, not exposed to historical nativist, anti-refugee xenophobia by a mass of imitative, sub-tropical Englanders.

If given the chance, Whitlam would have transformed a soi-disant Judeo-Christian-dominated ‘traditionally British’ place into a real nation, a gloriously vibrating – by ‘British’ standards, for sure – mongrel polyglot society, open to new ideas, friendly to its neighbours after so many years of discrimination, mistrust and aggression.

Reduced to its absurd minimalism, today the television bites favour ‘three-word programmes’.

The resurgent mantra of the ‘born-to-rule’ in time would become a little bit longer: “freedom, the individual and the market”, but settled down to a more memorable “Jobs & Growth”.

On Whitlam’s death a state memorial service was held on 5 November 2014 in the Sydney Town Hall. Thousands of common people were outside, the faithful ones, those who would not forget the three highly charged 35 months and their aftermath.

The Hall was full, with many good people, a strong contingent of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander People, the usual attendees, several former prime ministers all of modest stature, and amongst them an omni-present un-indicted war-criminal. And then there were the usual celebrities and several ‘whited sepulchres’.

Noel Pearson, the Indigenous lawyer, academic, land rights activist and founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership delivered what he called a fitting tribute to ‘an old man’.

He was the most lyrical, assertive, sublime of the celebrants.

Pearson, most warmly, forcefully, movingly remembered Whitlam for his burning conviction to break down class and race barriers:

“We salute this old man for his great love and dedication to his country and to the Australian people. When he breathed, he truly was Australia’s greatest white elder and friend without peer of the original Australians.

Of course recalling the Whitlam government’s legacy has been for the past [then] 39 years since the dismissal, a fraught and partisan business. Assessments of those three highly charged years and their aftermath, divide between the nostalgia and fierce pride of the faithful, and the equally vociferous opinion that the Whitlam years represented the nadir of national government in Australia.

Let me venture a perspective.

The Whitlam government is the textbook case of reform trumping management.

 In less than three years an astonishing reform agenda leapt off the policy platform and into legislation and the machinery and programs of government. The country would change forever. The modern, cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly from its long-dormant chrysalis.

Thirty-eight years later we are like John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin’s Jewish insurgents ranting against the despotic rule of Rome, defiantly demanding ‘and what did the Romans ever do for us anyway?’

Apart from Medibank?

and the Trade Practices Act 1974?

cutting tariff protections?

and no-fault divorce and the Family Law Act 1975?

the Australia Council?

the Federal Court?

the Order of Australia?

federal legal aid?

the Racial Discrimination Act 1975?

needs-based schools funding?

the recognition of China?

the Law Reform Commission?

the abolition of conscription?

student financial assistance?

FM radio and the Heritage Commission?

non-discriminatory immigration rules?

community health clinics?

Aboriginal land rights?

paid maternity leave for public servants?

lowering the minimum voting age to 18 years?

fair electoral boundaries and Senate representation for the Territories?

Apart from all of this, what did this Roman ever do for us?

And the prime minister with that classical Roman mien, one who would have been as naturally garbed in a toga as a safari suit, stands imperiously with twinkling eyes and that slight self-mocking smile playing around his mouth – in turn infuriating his enemies and delighting his followers.

There is no need for nostalgia and yearning for what might have been. The achievements of this old man are present in the institutions we today take for granted, and played no small part in the progress of modern Australia.”

Jenny Hocking (image from batemansbaypost.com.au)

What happened towards the end of those 35 months of the Whitlam governments is exceptionally well covered in a book by a distinguished historian, Professor emerita Jenny Hocking: The dismissal dossier – Everything you were never meant to know about November 1975 (Melbourne University Press, 2017). There is a perhaps more sanguine version of the events in The Anglo-American ambush of the Whitlam Government – 11.11.1975 (serialised from 8 November 2015 by The AIM Network).

And what happened on 11 November 1975? Put it simply, this: The Governor-General secretly decided to support the political plans of the Liberal-National Coalition – the backwoodsmen of yesteryear.

Against all honourable and contemporary practice he did not discuss that decision with Whitlam. Of course! The chief justice and a judge of the High Court supported the plan, albeit – at least from the latter – under some conditions, which were disregarded. The Governor-General then mounted a time-tabled operation, that one could better describe as a coup d’état. And that, too, is a foreign expression, because nothing like that ever happened in Sir John Falstaff’s beloved England! Really? Spies from Ukania are the world champs in false flags, lying and deception; they have been for centuries. And the Australian Falstaff had learned to be fairly good at it.

The Prime Minister – trusting in the given word, and only apparent honourable behaviour of a fat, vain, boastful, vulgar sensualist, debauchee often too well-imbibed, and cowardly knight, was left with a false sense of security.

Such deception was necessary to dismiss the prime minister and install in his place the leader of Her Majesty Opposition, and immediately dissolve parliament. Voila!

Maybe Whitlam had demanded too much of a recalcitrant, uneducated, indifferent populace. For months Her Majesty’s Opposition had charged the Whitlam government with ‘bad management’ of the economic crisis which had gripped the world and was known overseas as the ‘petrol crisis’ but in Australia as a consequence of ‘Whitlam socialism’. Of course, people of good faith knew that Whitlam was no socialist, perhaps not even a social-democrat – simply a decent man concerned with the amelioration of Australian society, for all and not for the few who controlled it. So the electorate was exposed to a long campaign of accusation of generic faults summed up in words ague but familiar: ‘international safaris’ against ‘the politicians’, ‘job for the boys’ – that is people connected with Labor, ‘dole bludgers’ as the ultimate humiliation of the unemployed et cetera. It was the familiar jargon of a subtropical transplant of a nation of shopkeepers, a limited language expressed in primitivistic abstractions: ‘initiative’, ‘independence, ‘thrift’. It was, as often in the past, ‘protection’ from ‘competition’ – both of them mis-understood, of course, ‘freedom of enterprise’ against ‘socialism’ – worst still ‘communism’, which was always not far away, coming down from Asia, as Menzies-the-Prophet had reassured. It was, in the end just as at the beginning of the Whitlam government a conflict between Labor incompetence and crookedness and a tried and successful Liberal management of a complex economy. And the remedy ? the triumph of ‘the private sector’, which of course was supported by newspaper proprietors and that camarilla of ‘bien-pensants’ who are the controllers of political-legal networks: most judges and barristers, the leaders of professional organisations such as doctors, and most top administrators, academics, ‘intelligence’ men, bank managers, and all those who would be ‘at home’ – and this time, here, in Australia – in anyone of the ‘establishment clubs’ which still pullulate the major cities, particularly Melbourne and Sydney. To all of such, natural leaders’ Labor in government, and heaven knows in power, was anathema. That it should be given a chance every once in a while, was a proof, but not a guarantee of ‘democracy’; but the licence should not last for long, because they, ‘the Liberals’ were the natural leaders of the country.

Continued Saturday – The restoration of malpractice (part 1)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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This Election, Try Telling the Truth

Having a good memory for past federal elections and the tactics employed, going back as far as 1958, I cannot recall a time when dishonesty and outright lies played such a pivotal role in the strategy of the Liberal Party.

With the possible exception of the “children overboard” scandal in 2001, their deceit is palpable. ‘Children overboard’ lies at the heart of it, because that’s where it began. A lie that gathered momentum, despite evidence to the contrary, which then compounded itself exponentially with the aid of a compliant media, until it became unstoppable.

Since that shameful episode, flagrant lies have not just become the norm for the Liberals, they have become more and more sophisticated in their delivery.

From babies overboard to interest rates always being lower under Coalition governments, from Abbott’s, no cuts to the ABC, to his equally dishonest lies about the Carbon Tax, the Coalition have always had the media on their side, prophesying doom and gloom of one kind or another under a Labor government.

Today, in 2019, nothing has changed. From their budget costings to electric cars to tax projections to border protection to energy savings and climate change, they reveal themselves as a party that lies its way to power.

The reopening of Christmas Island was a stand-out attempt to create an atmosphere of panic. It was laughable, but it showed us all how desperate they are.

But of all their deceptions and outright lies, nothing surpasses the perception that they are the better economic managers. The very notion is false and absurd and flies in the face of all the evidence.

A classic case is the “debt and deficit disaster.” How have all the deficits of the last 12 years impacted on the Australian economy? Were they really the Armageddon so crudely and politically promoted by the government?

Has employment improved? Are people better off today than they were in 2013? Did they really “create” a million jobs over the past five years? No, they didn’t. Those jobs came as a natural consequence of population increase. It has always been thus.

As we stare down to May 18 and the election we have to have, albeit six months early, perhaps we should take a moment to reflect on the monumental dishonesty of the Liberal party and their lapdogs, the Nationals, on the economy.

After all, it is their vanguard, their flagship, the issue they boast about so profusely. We need to go no further than Josh Frydenberg’s budget, handed down last week.

Point one, the budget is not back in the black and is unlikely to be. This is actually a good thing, something Frydenberg would not understand, even if it were explained to him in words of one syllable.

He simply doesn’t understand that budget surpluses restrict economic activity. They are not money in the bank.

Point two, the economy is not stronger today than it was in 2013. Compared with our trading partners, our competitors and the general cost of living, we are weaker.

Point three, we have not reduced our gross debt. The reality is, we have doubled it, not that it matters anyway. Our gross debt represents the selling of government and treasury bonds all of which are issued in Australian dollars.

As we are also the issuer of Australian dollars, we could extinguish that debt today by issuing the equivalent amount, crediting the bondholder’s accounts at the Reserve Bank and it wouldn’t raise a ripple in a bathtub.

The bondholders would simply clamour to buy more bonds.

Point four, they are not a lower taxing government. The Morrison Government is taxing our economy at a higher rate in 2019 (23.3%) than was the case in 2013 under Labor (21.3%).

Point five, since 2013, wages, relative to costs have declined, national savings have declined, growth in the value of exports has declined, public services have declined, evidenced by the reductions in staff numbers in the Taxation Dept and Centrelink.

Overall, our economic ranking has fallen from number one in 2013, to number twenty-one in 2019, on the IAREM rankings.

There is something positive, however, that we can say about this government’s public relations performance. The Liberal party are good at sweeping the bad stuff under the carpet. They are good at lying, they are good at pointing the other way and saying, “look over there.”

This election, we need to, not look over there, we need to ask every question and question every answer. Their capacity to conceal truths, propagate lies and deceive the electorate is extraordinary. But it is only able to happen because of poor journalism and a media juggernaut that allows it to happen.

And that is a direct assault on our democracy. The Liberal party don’t embrace democracy, the use it to stay in power. In reality, they despise it.

For these and a multitude of other reasons, they don’t deserve to be in government.

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Adani: some inconvenient truths

By Phil Gorman  

Let the facts speak for themselves.

Queensland’s workforce

  • 2.36 million people are employed in Queensland.
  • The tourist industry directly or indirectly employs 217,000 Queenslanders.
  • Coal mining directly or indirectly employs around 20,000 Queenslanders.
  • Adani’s mine would directly or indirectly create about 1,500 jobs.

Tourism

Key state government statistics reveal that, “The tourist industry directly and indirectly employs 217,000 Queenslanders – or 9.1% of all people employed in Queensland.

Tourism contributes $12.8 billion directly to the Queensland economy, accounting for 3.9% of Queensland’s gross state product (GSP).

“The industry indirectly contributes an additional $12.5 billion to the state’s economy, making the total contribution $25 billion, or 7.8% of total Queensland GSP.” (i)

Coal mining

  • Coal mining employs less than 1 percent of Queensland’s workers. (ii)
  • From a high point of 30,000 in 2013 coal mining currently employs around 20,000 people.
  • All mining (coal, gas and other resources) are projected to shed 7,400 jobs by 2020.
  • The Carmichael Mine would create only 1,500 new jobs.
  • The Carmichael Mine would mean an unknown number of job losses in other industries.

According to Commonwealth Department of Employment projections Australia’s coal miners will cut their workforce by a further 21 percent by the end of 2020.

The Australia Institute’s “Facts on jobs, and coal in Queensland” shows, “The coal industry has always been a minor employer in Queensland.  At its peak it employed fewer people than the arts and recreation industry, but in recent years it has shrunk further, shedding 10,000 jobs in Queensland and now representing less than 1 percent of the state’s workforce.”

Coal industry lobbyists and the Murdoch media unduly influence most politicians and misinform the people. Despite the industry’s increasing displacement of workers with new technology many Queensland voters still believe the “jobs, jobs, jobs” propaganda. Declining investment has already meant a 35% cut in the coal workforce.

At the same time Queensland has experienced a growth in employment. “This is a practical demonstration of the fact that jobs and growth come from a broader range of industries, in particular health, education and services,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

Adani: impacts, lies, boasts and damned lies

Adani has an international history of flouting the law, of bribery, corruption and ignoring its environmental commitments. It has created environmental havoc abroad without redress. It has already ignored the interests and desires of many local Aboriginal people.

The Carmichael Mine would destroy local ecosystems, including the habitat of a rare finch. It would accelerate global warming, spreading coral die-off on the Great Barrier Reef. This threatens Queensland’s tourist industry. Any damage to local ecosystems and water tables can have wide ranging consequences for agricultural, pastoral and fishing industries. These impacts have yet to be fully accounted for by Adani’s researchers.

Despite continuing reservations expressed by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia the government has pushed through another environmental permit to placate the Queensland right in the elections.

In 2015 Adani’s economic adviser, Jerome Fahrer of ACIL Allen consulting, told the Queensland Land Court, “Over the life of the Project it is projected that on average around 1,464 employee years of full time equivalent direct and indirect jobs will be created”.

These job projections would include Adani’s own employees and indirect job creation flowing from the economic benefits to local business. (iii)

Under oath Mr Fahrer was forced to reject Adani’s claim of 10,000 direct and indirect jobs being created by its mining operation over the projected lifetime of the Carmichael Mine. He said; “It’s not many jobs. We can agree on that.”

At the 2017 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, Adani Mining CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraju, boasted that the operation is to be fully automated. “When we ramp up the mine, everything will be autonomous, from mine to port. In our eyes this is the mine of the future.”

Adani and its loyal proponents still falsely claim that 10,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by its mining operation over the projected lifetime of the Carmichael Mine.

The undue influence of the extractive industries in this country has corrupted due process and distorted the economy. It has led to massive environmental damage, accelerated global warming and undermined the public good. It is to be hoped that the new Commonwealth Government will put the environmental and public good first for a change.

Adani must be stopped. This would be a first step towards restoring a degree of trust in our democratic institutions.

Sources

i    Queensland Bureau of Statistics: Key Torim Statistics 2018 https://www.qld.gov.au/Key tourism statistics

ii   Australia Institute “Facts on jobs, and coal in Queensland”. ABS Cat no. 6291.0.55.001 – Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, 2 ABS Cat no. 6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia,3 Department of Employment (2016) 2016 Industry Employment Projections – five years to November 2020, 4 Department of Employment (2016) Regional.

iii  Adani sticks with 10,000 jobs lie.  Leith van Onslen in Macrobusiness, 2018-02-07, Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

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Night Parrot Confections: The Dangers of Discovering the Elusive

Discoveries of natural flora, fauna and phenomena are not necessarily straightforward things. The discoverer may wish to conceal the source. The discoverer may also have various motivations. In certain grave instances, the entire claim might be fabricated. Piltdown Man, discovered in a gravel pit in England in 1912 by amateur archaeologist Charles Dawson, was celebrated as an ancestral link to humans. In 1954, with the application of dating methods, the discovery was designated a fraud. A human skull had been cleverly paired with an orang-utan’s jaw.

The quest for the Australian Night Parrot remains one of the stranger tales of the naturalist meeting the professional researcher; the skilled amateur in battle with establishment practices; the vainglory efforts to seek a place in the birding pantheon.

An entry on the site Bush Heritage Australia gets the description of the bird to a flying and enthusiastic start. “The Night Parrot (Pezoporus occidentalis) is one of the most elusive and mysterious birds in the world. This nocturnal and mostly ground-dwelling parrot is endemic to Australia but for around 100 years it was feared to be extinct. Incredibly, we now have a second chance to save it!” As has been remarked, this particular bird has been Australia’s Ivory-billed Woodpecker, driving ornithologists professional and amateur to the edges of sanity.

Then came the moment and the initial, gasping thrill. In 2013, Queensland naturalist John Young rediscovered the Night Parrot, first found in 1845. (There had been, prior to that, a road-killed specimen in 1990 in western Queensland, and a headless sample to the south-east in 2006, found on barbed wire). Young, however, was cautious. Locations were kept secret; exposing the sites might led to over enthusiastic twitchers finding their way to the area, disrupting the environment. Evidence, caught on video and photos, would be shown to the anointed, an all invitation-only gathering. He was keen to push the scale of the discovery: two pairs of Night Parrots, and a nest with three nestlings.

Young, however, had a history, one weighed down by naturalist half-truths and a persona of perceived quackery. Through the 1990s, he survived on funding from anaesthesiologist Tom Biggs and his wife. This enabled him to pursue his roving adventures through Young Wildlife Enterprises, a company he established to produce films, run tours and identify rare bird species. He spent time pursuing gigs for conservation, propelling, for instance, the move to establish TYTO Wetlands, thereby saving the Crimson Finch and Eastern Grass Owl.

In November 2006, Young was confronted by accusations from bird enthusiast Greg Roberts that he had been big in the manipulation game regarding the discovery of a new species of what was termed the Blue-fronted Fig Parrot. Young had boasted of the discovery, extolling his own knowledge and climbing skills. But he was also secretive, deleting original photographs so that no forensic expert might corroborate the find. According to Penny Olsen in Glimpses of Paradise (2007), this was true to form: claim of “a sensational find, shrouded in secrecy, which divided the birding community and ultimately came to nothing.”

The 2013 discovery seemed like an atonement, and his show to the selected guests at the Queensland Museum in Brisbane was akin to a ritual cleansing. Money followed, ironically enough from a mining company Fortescue Metals Group, to study the bird’s ecology and document its behaviour. Young was picked, working alongside conservation ecologist Steven Murphy in a collaboration of some friction. Murphy, for one, thought Young’s methods free of science, a wildlife buccaneer lacking method.

Young was subsequently given free rein by the Australian Wildlife Conservancy to find and document rare bird species on the organisations properties, something akin to an environmental janitor. Then, the millstone of history seemed to tug again. Hanging heavily, there seemed to be problems. Old pictures were revisited. Did Young actually place a mesh around The Night Parrot he photographed in 2013?  Were the pictures taken at a time the birds were not active? Murphy was particularly riled by Young’s doctoring of one photo where damaged feathers, occasioned by the capture, were removed.

Then came specific allegations regarding Young’s work for the AWC. The material in question featured a Night Parrot feather, found at Kalamurina Wildlife Sanctuary, South Australia; a Night parrot call recording, downloaded at Kalamurina from an acoustic monitor; and Night Parrot nests and eggs supposedly found at Diamantina National Park, Queensland.

Red-faced, officials of the AWC proceeded to cleanse the website of any reference to the bird. “We have received questions about the veracity of some of the content and we are investigating these matters.” Content connected to the night parrot “will not be republished until we receive the results of the independent investigation into the veracity of the work.”

The independent panel’s findings were damning on all three items. It transpired that the feather in question, whilst being that of a Night Parrot, said to be the same one sent by AWC to the South Australian Museum, was different and therefore not conclusive of its existence in Kalamurina. Night Parrot calls published by the AWC from recordings made in September 2018 purportedly taken at Kalamurina were actually derived from publically available material from a Western Australian specimen, not a local one. As for the discovery of eggs and nests, a majority of consulted experts (eleven individuals including nine ornithologists) concluded that the eggs in one nest could not have been natural.

In February, the Year in Review summary of 2018 was conspicuously silent on Young and the Night Parrot, despite extolling “delivering measurable outcomes for Australia’s wildlife” by means of delivering “ecological return”. The trumpet still sounded: “Almost 87 percent of AWC’s operational expenditure continues to be spent where it can make the greatest difference to Australia’s threatened wildlife – in the field.”

Works such as David Goodstein’s On Fact and Fraud: Cautionary Tales from the Front Lines of Science (2010) show scientists as fallible creatures prone to careerism and the posterity disease. Discovery lust can muddle a scientist’s integrity, a point encouraged by what Goodstein calls the Reward System and the Authority Structure. Rather than being high priests of fairness and objective research, they are as susceptible to manipulation and deceiving as any group.

The difference here is they do not necessarily see it in that light.  In that cosmos, merit and manipulation can be seen to go hand in hand. The injection of “falsehoods into the body of science is rarely, if ever, the purpose of those who perpetrate fraud. They almost always believe that they are injecting a truth into the scientific method.” Robert Millikan, for instance, manipulated his data, not so much to deceive as to reach the most accurate value for the charge of the electron. Young, in addition to his attempt at redemption, can be said to have some something similar, with his compulsive touching up of images, and his denial that he had captured the birds in question.

Nobel laureate physicist Richard P. Feynman, in his commencement address at the California Institute of Technology in 1974, offered a cardinal warning regarding scientific integrity: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself – and you are the easiest person to fool…. After you’ve not fooled yourself, it’s easy to fool other scientists. You just have to be honest in a conventional way after that.”

Young’s greatest trickery was one played upon himself. The others, for a time, fell into his orbit, and even then, with some scepticism. He was never particularly good at maintaining a front for long. But for all that, there was enough to front the claim that The Night Parrot had been found, tantamount, as the editor of Birdlife Australia suggested, to “finding Elvis flipping burgers in an Outback roadhouse”. A salutary tale to any future discoverer of the remarkable and doggedly elusive, and the dangers that entails.

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Hugs won’t fix your government’s Islamophobia, ScoMo.

If a lie is half-way around the world before the truth can get its boots on, what does it take for a Prime Minister to call out a falsehood eight years later? Our intrepid PM tries to set the record straight this week. Or is it a reboot? Many wonder aloud why he didn’t call out the lie earlier.

The alleged lie? In 2010, Morrison called on his party to make political capital out of popular anxieties over Muslim immigration, or so alleges, Lenore Taylor who bases her story on several reliable Liberal sources.

Yet not a peep from ScoMo. “Neither I, nor as far as I know, any of the journalists who did follow-up stories, received threats of defamation suits, nor even an angry phone call from Mr Morrison,” says Taylor to The Age’s Peter FitzSimons.

Is this the curious incident of the shaggy dog in the night-time? What’s clear is, in the wake of Christchurch, Morrison denies he ever suggested fanning anti-Muslim fears and bigotry at a shadow cabinet meeting late in 2010.

Some of his colleagues say they don’t recall. Greg Hunt says Morrison’s right but it turns out he wasn’t at the meeting. Luckily, after closing down a presser, ScoMo 2.0 comes up with another version of events entirely. Bugger plausible deniability.

Yeah. Nah. What ScoMo was doing was canvassing ways his party could protect our Muslims from local Islamophobia.

Not only that, ScoMo’s dedicated his entire parliamentary career to walking the talk; even taking young Muslims and “a whole bunch of others” from the Shire up the Kokoda track and in the track of the Sandakan Death March in Borneo in 2009 and 2011. Why, when he couldn’t go himself he was helping organise a trek.

But, in the end, he says, cheerily, his government’s made up of individuals. What can one poor Prime Minister do?

A leader can’t stop Peter (Dutton) lamenting “the mistake” of Lebanese migration; how so many second or third generation Lebanese-Muslim men are terrorists. Nor Gorgeous George Christensen, he’s LNP QLD, anyway or any other MP’s racist hate-speak as he equably explains to Waleed Aly on The Project, Thursday.

Dr Aly list a few examples to support his case that the Coalition may have an Islamophobic problem.

  • “George Christensen speaking at a Reclaim Australia rally, appearing on an alt-right podcast, speaking at a Q Society event where horrible things are said about multiple minorities.”
  • “Tony Abbott saying that; “Islamophobia never killed anybody,” when actually it already had – it’s not just that it was true at the time and it isn’t now, it wasn’t true at the time – and suggesting that when Muslim leaders condemn terrorism, they don’t really mean it.”
  • “Peter Dutton suggesting that Lebanese immigration in the 70s was a mistake or that mistakes were made around it. Talking about Mehreen Faruqi, who is a Muslim Senator, who is part of the Greens, being ‘as bad as Fraser Anning after the Christchurch attacks.”
  • “When you have … seven Coalition Senators shaking Fraser Anning’s hand after he gives the ‘final solution’ speech in Parliament.”
  • “And when you have reports in a newspaper like The Australian that it got to the point that the head of ASIO Duncan Lewis contacted members of the Liberal Party and of the Coalition, to warn them about the way they were talking about Islam.”

When I aggregate all that and – there are other examples I could give – when I aggregate all that, is there something that does need to be confronted within your own Party henceforth?, Aly concludes. 

Prime Ministers and Liberal Party Leaders do have power and responsibility, it is clear despite the current tendency for the PM to be told what to do on policy by his right wing. Scott Morrison regularly makes captain calls about candidates.

Former Labor member and Gerard Henderson’s son-in-law, Warren Mundine is even parachuted in to Gilmore leaving Alby Schultz’s son Grant spluttering. (Has the PM no respect for the practice of rural dynastic succession?)

The PM or his party is able to fast-forward the application process so that Mundine is virtually signed up on the spot. Schultz will now contend the seat as an independent; hardly an outcome likely to help Wokka’s prospects.

Most recently, ScoMo rings Stan Grant. Invites him round to Kirribilli House with its view of the harbour. (The Morrisons moved there from their Port Hacking home last September. All that reaching out to community must be so much harder, now.)

Asks him to nominate for Craig Laundy’s inner-western Sydney seat of Reid. The Liberal Party will put all its resources behind you, Stan, he promises. Grant is not a member of any political party let alone even a member of a declining Liberal Party.

Grant declines, he says, wisely, because he likes what he does now. And he values his independence. If only Senator Marise Payne’s excuse were so admirable. Asked if she could get some government Islamophobes to shut up, she uses the well-worn “things are too sensitive” at this moment evasion.

Christchurch, David Marr says, on ABC Insiders Sunday, might never have happened as far as Coalition anti-Muslim policy is concerned, Payne’s evasion is pitiful.

“I am not going to go into a series of adjudications on statements made by my colleagues or anyone else at this time. We are dealing with a very serious situation here,” Payne chips in this week to defend indulging Dutton .

It’s just like when ScoMo’s pal Dr Jamal Rifi, The Australian’s Australian of The Year 2015, rang him to see if he could do anything about the El Baf family’s four boys who’d gone off to join ISIS in Syria in 2014. Sadly, it was all too late, says Morrison. Muslim boys just sit at home all day waiting to be called up by an ISIS recruiter. (Nowhere in his appearance, Thursday, is any hint that the risk of alt-right White supremacists far outweighs any other terror).

Always impressively dressed these days, ScoMo opts for a charcoal blue suit on The Project, Ten’s dumbed-down current events show, a blokey, jokey middle-class fantasy world where grinning men in suits run everything with an easy-going superiority. The power suit and open-necked business shirt combo help him blend in while reminding us and his host he’s the Prime Minister. Above all, it implies he’s taking Islamophobia seriously (even if he won’t deal with it).

“G’day Waleed”. Using your host’s first name is a trick that goes back, at least, to Bob Hawke, The Great Ingratiator. See. It’s not really an interview after all. Just two good mates fixing up some personal stuff – as you do, whenever your Prime Minister calls you in to explain himself. Or put you right. On Kerry Stokes’ prime-time national television show.

ScoMo sits low in his Project set chair – a hint of Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily“, all steel rectangles and shallow bum-shelf. A leg crosses. He cocks one foot up on a beefy knee as if about to kick his Egyptian-Australian host. It’s ScoMo’s signature pose. A veneer of matey first names, slick grins and forced civility over bruiser body language.

Exposing a sole to your host is an offensive gesture in Egypt. ScoMo could politely inform viewers he’s on The Project to clear up a canard that he’s Islamophobic based on a leak from a shadow cabinet meeting in December 2010, where he’s accused of proposing a strategy to win votes by exploiting anti-Muslim anxieties in the community.

An “ugly and disgusting lie”, is what comes out of his mouth.

Passive-aggressive. Nursing injury, says his body language. The camera also magnifies his footwear, not the shonky two left-feet-K-Swiss trainers of “shoegate”, but solid, RM Williams ankle-boot jobs that could do you an injury. Boots that put the boot into “putting the boot in”, continue a menacing counterpoint to his puffery; his public self-praise.

These boots are made for walking. Morrison says he’s walked the Kokoda Trail with young Muslims and others. “Both parts of our communities.” In case any Morrison-watcher may have missed it, ScoMo’s been out doing the hard yards community building. “… it has been my work in Parliament to try and build these communities together, not apart.”

What a legend! Not only is Morrison up to rub out a lie, the old shape-shifter reinvents himself as a latter-day Nelson Mandela. A fair bit of air-brushing is required. It was George Brandis in August 2017 who upbraided Pauline Hanson for her burqa burlesque in the senate. ScoMo has never censured Dutton for branding Lebanese Muslims as terrorists.

And, even after Christchurch, the last thing ScoMo will commit to is putting One Nation last on how to vote tickets.

“Don’t prejudge me”, he threatens his host, Dr Waleed Aly, even though that’s impossible given we’ve seen so much of ScoMo’s work already. He’s well beyond prejudging, and it’s bizarre for him to act as if there were some way he could “reset” his political identity as The Guardian Australia‘s Katharine Murphy wryly points out.

Murphy cautions Morrison, “You are what you have been. You cannot outrun your record as a public figure, because you are still that public figure, and your identity is the sum of your record. So there aren’t any prejudgments.”

There’s hypocrisy. ScoMo’s been an avid pre-judger, especially, as we love to say nowadays, in the asylum-speaker “space”. Morrison’s record as political attack dog rivals junkyard Abbott’s; it’s well and truly out in the public domain.

As is his ambition. ScoMo’s vaulting ambition saw him leap-frog preselection rival Michael Towke, eight votes to eighty more popular, to win Cook in 2007. Towke was going well until a series of scurrilous attacks on his character appeared in The Daily Telegraph. The Libs rescinded his pre-selection. By-passing preselection, ScoMo was parachuted into candidacy and won the retiring Bruce Baird’s old seat, as he likes to remind us; the baton of greatness passing on.

Bruce Baird was also Morrison’s second boss in tourism as former transport minister in the Nick Greiner and John Fahey NSW Liberal governments (1989-2005). Morrison’s rise to political power is a tribute to his networking.

Scott’s got anti-Muslim form. He cut his political teeth as Liberal bovver-boy challenging the reckless benevolence of paying for the families of drowned asylum-seekers to come to Sydney to bury their dead. Morrison led the Abbott and others in The Opposition pack attack on a feckless Federal Government decision to fly 22 asylum seekers to Sydney for the funerals of eight people, including two babies, who died in the Christmas Island shipwreck, December 15, 2010.

Excessive benevolence? The $300,000 total cost of airfares amounted to a cost to each of us just two cents apiece.

Faced with some opposition from his own party which included Joe Hockey, his mentor Bruce Baird, Russell Broadbent and others, Morrison later withdrew his objections and issued a sort of an apology, professing that he was insensitive to question the cost. Poor timing, he added. Nationals’ Fiona Nash still couldn’t see the point given that Australians don’t get government help attending a funeral forgetting that the Disaster Assist Fund does pay up to $10,000.

After a wobbly start in Social Services culminating in his brilliant “wait for the dole” scheme, which the senate rejected, Scott got a gig as Head Bouncer at our island concentration camps, a job he put his own stamp on as we know.

Less well understood is how his secretive communication style matches his capacity to reach out to local communities, bind them together and inspire them with shared walks on Kokoda and other self-punishing odysseys.

A good guide to his capacity to reach out to others is his record of briefings on border security. As Immigration Minister, ScoMo was quick to do away with briefings entirely. Or walk out of them. Many were replaced by an occasional memo. Despite commissioning a $330,000 media briefing room in Canberra, next door to DFAT, ScoMo chose never to use it. Instead, from October 2013, weekly briefings were held at commonwealth offices in Sydney, closer to home. Briefings ended, that December, as reports of boat turnbacks came in which the government refused to discuss.

Just keeping the room on standby cost us $100,000 PA. Even the unused door knob cost an impressive $800.

In Canberra, Morrison uses Parliament House facilities for border protection-related pressers.

Yet he takes pride in his work. ScoMo proudly displays in his office a model boat trophy of his defeat of the human need for sanctuary; a refuge-seeker’s right to asylum, typically involving men women and children of Muslim faith.

“I stopped these”, says the inscription on the laser-cut steel trophy. It’s an empty boast. The flow of asylum-seekers travelling by boat slowed to trickle in 2013 when Kevin Rudd made it clear that no refugee or asylum-seeker arriving by boat would be re-settled on the mainland. Morrison was, moreover, one of the key figures in the Abbott opposition who helped frustrate the proposed 2011 Malaysian solution, a decision which led to a surge in numbers of maritime arrivals.

Morrison contends he prevented drownings, of course, but a slogan about boats rather than people helps desensitise us to the reality while distracting from the reality that most asylum-seekers arrive by plane. 18,290 arrived by air seeking asylum in 2016-17 and 27,931 in 2017-18, according to former Border Force Commissioner,  Roman Quaedvlieg.

Not only is it faster, it’s cheaper with a flight from Tehran at $1500 compared with $5-10,000 on average for a berth from Java to Christmas Island, although Morrison, Abbott and Dutton would have us believe the boats will start up again any minute, given Labor’s perfidious, Medivac Bill that will also swamp us with paedophiles, rapists and murderers.

Murderers? One of ScoMo’s last acts as Immigration Minister was to refuse permission for Egyptian father of six, Sayed Abdellatif to apply for a visa despite his own department recommending that this be granted. Abdellatif was tried and convicted of murder, firearms offences and destruction of property in absentia, in a show trial which relied upon testimony from his father and brother-in-law, obtained under torture. Interpol removed him from their Red list last year.

But Home Affairs keeps him in gaol. We’ve detained Abdellatif for six years in the Hotham high-security wing of Villawood, an act of sadistic cruelty.

“My case has taken five years to be finalised, it’s ridiculous. It’s not only crushed my hope. It’s torture, he says

We call it immigration detention but really it is open-ended imprisonment without charge, writes Richard Ackland.

Back in the studio there’s a palpable subtext of injury. “Morrison’s office”, that wonderful cop-out of modern politics, rang Waleed Aly recently and threatened to sue him over his claim that ScoMo urged his party’s shadow cabinet to exploit concerns over Muslim immigration. It’s a hurtful slur which festers.

“Does your Party and your Coalition have a problem of Islamophobia?” asks Aly.

Morrison replies he does not believe the Coalition had a problem with Islamophobia, as if it’s a matter of belief.

“I don’t think the Liberal Party does as a total group. And I don’t think the National Party does either,” he ducks and weaves before abdicating any responsibility as leader of his party for its members’ bigotry.

“Our party is made up of a lot of individuals and in our parties individuals have a lot more freedom to say what they think than other parties. It’s not for the party to answer for every single member on every occasion,” he responds, changing Aly’s question. What is he, as PM, going to do about his party members’ islamophobia?

The Project is dedicated to the Wildean premise that while all of us are in the gutter, some of us are pissing ourselves laughing at everyone else’s misfortune but the only joke, tonight, is the PM’s appearance as an angel of mercy.

In thirty minutes – “commercial-free” -ScoMo totally owns the show – at least in his own mind. A grateful nation rejoices. Gets the good oil; fair-dinkum gospel according to Arthur Brooks, US neo-con think-tanker, man of God and mammon, about how we should “disagree better not less”. ScoMo’s devoted his whole political career to binding and uniting.  And denial.

The denials and excuses come thick and fast. ScoMo’s never led an anti-Muslim mob in his life. A PM’s can’t be responsible for whatever Tony or George or Peter may say in the heat of the moment. It’s up to branches to put One Nation last on how to vote cards. “We’re a party of individuals, he says, unlike some … (we know who you mean, ScoMo, you sly-digger.)

Why, Scott’s got mates in Lakemba who’ll tell you that he doesn’t have an Islamophobic bone in his body. On cue, the ubiquitous Dr Jamal Rifi, News Corps’s celebrated “moderate Muslim” pops up on Friday on ABC’s The Drum to say just that. Rifi extols Morrison’s compassion and humanity. Of course ScoMo’s done a lot that himself.

Muslims rush to hug him when he rocks on up to the local mosque. Hug one another. That’s what we all should be doing at this troubled time. Just like they do to you down at the intensive care unit when you come in bleeding to death from an AR 16 fired by a white supremacist. St ScoMo, somehow, knows that what the nation urgently needs is a an endless flow of platitudes, slogans and absolutely no action.

He won’t attempt to stop the Islamophobia. He can’t. But he does offer hugs.

“So as I said on that first Friday night to Australians; just hug each other tonight. I think we need to keep hugging each other,”  the new touchy-feely Morrison, touchy-feely gropes for what he hopes will be mistaken for compassion.

Hugs are only part of his story. Morrison’s a beacon of ecumenical enlightenment, tolerance and multicultural, inter-fidelity. Just the other day, he took Jenny and the girls to pray at a Coptic church. Put that in your thurible and smoke it.

If he were truly such a huge friend of Islam, Morrison would be acting upon the leaders’ advice. The Islamic Council of Victoria, for example, urges that we need to act upon what is sees as the escalating threat of white extremists.

“We’re not confident they’re taking the threat of far-right extremism as seriously as they do – and I’ll use their terminology, though I don’t like it – Islamist-based or jihadist terrorism,” fears spokesman Adel Salman, who tells The Saturday Paper. “This is a very, very toxic form of white nationalist and white extremist ideology.”

Salman wants governments to publicly condemn Islamophobia. “It’s about time that our authorities … do it seriously,” he says. “They may be doing it behind the scenes, but they need to be taking it up publicly.”

An enchanted nation looks on in wonder as ScoMo, Australia’s most spectacular quick-change artist sets out to convince the nation that he is Nelson Mandela 2.0, guiding us down our own Kokoda Trails toward multicultural enlightenment and a man so revered by the Muslim community, it’s only a matter of time before he’s an honorary Mufti.

And if his goat ate your washing, he’d tell you that it wasn’t his goat; it just didn’t happen because Greg Hunt says so, Arthur Sinodinos and Phil Ruddock don’t remember it and besides you ought to be more careful where you peg out your smalls.

David Marr is right. In the wake of Christchurch, our PM is more concerned with going on prime time TV to deny something he is reported to have said than exercising leadership or taking any responsibility for the various ways that his government has directly and indirectly helped encourage a toxic subculture of Islamophobia; the ways his government has aided and abetted if not supported white supremacists.

The very least he could do is direct his party’s branches to put the racist, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, One Nation Party last on the Liberal how to vote card in the May Federal Election.

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The Good News according to Josh

It has been the legacy of Conservative governments over the past 50 years to deliver underperforming economies to incoming Labor governments while at the same time, flaunting false credentials, refusing to acknowledge their own failings.

How it is, that they have been able to convince the public that they are better economic managers, while systematically undermining the living standards of the average household, is something that requires a good deal of in-depth analysis. But as each week passes, we continue to see their form on display.

Take our current Energy minister, Angus Taylor who argued fiercely on Insiders last Sunday that Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions were coming down.

Notwithstanding that our emissions have increased every year since 2013, the year Tony Abbott, as prime minister, abandoned the carbon tax, Angus Taylor was quite emphatic that they were coming down.

He did so on the strength of a slight reduction in the December Quarter of 2018. Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price made the same observation a few days later. It was classic Liberal spin.

Today, on the release of the December quarter GDP figures which revealed a disappointing 0.2% growth, (annualised at 2.3% but just 0.9% for the second half of last year), our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg interpreted this as good news, by reminding us that Australia was growing faster than any G7 country, except the US.

By using that twisted logic, he was avoiding the underlying truth. One can interpret a set of numbers any way one likes. But in doing that, Frydenberg ignores the reality that our economy is slowing. Choosing to boast some meaningless international statistic rather than face up to the microeconomic impact of life at home, is more classic Liberal spin. Josh Frydenberg needs be reminded of that, although it’s doubtful he would listen.

The microeconomic impact of today’s GDP numbers is that we are now in a per-capita recession. That means economic growth per person has been in decline now for two successive quarters. That is the real news. The only reason we are not in a full-blown economic recession is because of population growth and government spending.

How ironic is it, that while this government has done its level best to cut back on spending wherever they can, the only reason we are not in recession is because they haven’t cut back far enough?

“Government final consumption expenditure grew 1.8 per cent, with ongoing expenditure in health, aged care and disability services,” Frydenberg said in addressing the GDP result.”

Does he really have any idea what he is saying?

Our economy is retracting, an increase in unemployment is just around the corner, the only thing saving us from a recession is government spending and he is preparing a budget where he intends to spend even less, just so he can produce a surplus!!

What madness is this? The economy is being starved of money, forcing households to draw down on savings while our treasurer is doing his level best to starve us of even more money. By what economic measure can this be a good thing???

Dissecting the numbers released today, we can see that consumer spending is outpacing income growth, which means households are taking on more credit or drawing down on savings, something that cannot be sustained, individually or collectively. But that’s okay, because Josh Frydenberg tells us that our economy is out-performing six of the G7 nations.

It is highly likely that the March 2019 quarter will be negative. But we won’t know that until the first week of June when, in all likelihood, a new Labor government will have only just been installed.

Once again, Labor will have to inject stimulus money to revive a weak economy and suffer the misfortune of an electorate that believes them to be an inferior economic manager. The irony is gobsmacking.

It happened in 2007, in 1983 and in 1972. It seems to validate the claim that Labor governments have to be twice as good as conservative governments, to be judged their equal.

Falling living standards are always the result of fiscal austerity, something for which conservative governments can pride themselves in excelling. This is what Labor will inherit. Once again, they will have to do the same job all over again.

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No, ScoMo, you can’t have Snowy 2.0 and coal-fired power too.

“What we are talking about here is reliable, renewable, energy,” gurgles a pumped PM, Tuesday. He stands in the same spot as Turnbull, before ScoMo deposed him; the same huge penstock steel pipes arch back behind him like some gigantic, shamanic, horned headdress. The pose gives pause for thought. As does ScoMo’s pivot; his sudden switch from bearer of the black rock in parliament to ScoMo of Snowy 2.0, a study of calculation in concrete brutalism.

In an incredible back-flip, Faux-Mo re-invents his carbon-emitting, coal-powered government as climate and environmental custodians. Snowy 2.0 is the site of Turnbull’s nation-building pet project. Is his an act of homage, or  usurpation? Yet it could be a lemon. Neither the Coalition, nor its wholly owned Snowy Hydro, will reveal any financial models. Giles Parkinson notes that there’s a fair bit of red tape to clear, not to mention environmental issues to resolve.

No financial modelling? No worries. Whether nation-building with your ego or your energy policy, it’s the vibe that matters. And the mix. A “technologically neutral” ScoMo-government may green-wash itself overnight but it’s careful to leave black or brown coal-fired power generation still in the energy mix. It prolongs the hoax that coal and wind and solar can somehow co-exist, whatever the market is saying about the need to invest in renewables to make a profit.

Naturally a few false prophets must be ignored. The Australian‘s Chris Kenny is all for a nuclear option, safe, cheap; a boon, environmentally, as Fukushima and Chernobyl attest, with only a few drawbacks including toxicity, short life-span, long build time and prohibitive price as demand for electricity diminishes. Nuclear is so yesterday. As for green, any saving in daily running cost is offset by a large environmental debit incurred in the massive concrete construction.

But is our new ScoMo Coalition with clean, green, pumped snowy hydro 2.0 fair-dinkum? Giles Parkinson drily notes,

“…a government that “scrapped the carbon price, tried to kill the renewable energy target, defenestrated the Climate Change Authority and tried to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency appears to be taking note that climate focused independents are posing a real threat to incumbent MPs.”

Is it green? Will our unreliable, coal-fired clunkers such as Liddell be taken off life support? (Liddell’s expected life-span was 25 years, when built in 1973.) Will filthy, new, polluting smoke stacks rise phoenix-like from the ashes, as the Coalition honours Matt Canavan’s recent pledge to fund ten new coal-fired power plants? Funding? Banks won’t touch them. China doesn’t love us any more and the Russians have already been well-tapped by Trump.

Government funding is promised to those keen to build new coal-fired power projects – but is it legal? In a startling new piece of legal advice from barristers Fiona McLeod SC and Lindy Barrett, The Australia Institute reports McLeod and Barrett argue that the government will need parliament’s approval before it can underwrite any new coal fired plant.

The only existing authority for such appropriation of funds is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a body set up to encourage investment in energy-efficient; low energy or low emission technology. Coal or gas projects are excluded.

The barristers hazard that “Energy Minister Angus Taylor is in such a rush to funnel taxpayer funds to new coal fired power stations before the election, he seems to have overlooked that he has no constitutional authority to do so.”

Assistance for new coal fired power projects, it is argued, will require “some form of supporting legislation”, reports Katharine Murphy, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge. Certainly, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is coy about new build details.

Taylor, is tight-lipped on ABC Insiders, Sunday. Incredibly, after six years in government and with an election in May, he acts as if he is being put on the spot by a key question on major policy. Perhaps he is. Has no-one done the research?

“I’m the energy minister, I am not going to commit to a number here and now.” An evasive Taylor sees fit to use the Westminster code of ministerial responsibility to parliament to weasel out of a simple question in the national interest.

Instead, Trump-like, the Energy Minister spins a web of lies. He risks ridicule in pretending that the Coalition is reducing its carbon emissions. The government’s own figures show a five-year increase. (Emission rose again when, then PM, Abbott “axed the carbon tax: a lie which even former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin now admits was untrue – “just brutal retail politics” – by which she means ruthless, self-serving, pragmatism. Any means to win an election is OK.)

Yet Taylor’s cool with coal and pumped hydro competing. Has he read Tassie’s Project Marinus’ feasibility study? It’s clear from the project brief that the interlink will be economically viable only if coal is taken out of the mix – and soon.

“… when approximately 7,000MW of the national electricity market’s present coal-fired generation capacity retires”,

Pouncing, like a terrier, on the word “competition”, the topic of his M.Phil from Oxford where, like Abbott, he was a Rhodes Scholar, Taylor offers a touching non-sequitur, “You put your finger on it – we want more competition, Barrie.” Perhaps coal can compete with pumped hydro in the parallel universe of the coal lobby shill or the Kelly “ginger group”.

Taylor has ScoMo’s biggest lie off pat. “We will reach our Paris targets in a canter.” The Coalition knows that with repetition the lie will become orthodoxy  – as has the false narrative that our energy policy is a failure because “both sides” have been bickering, a point repeatedly made by Coalition MPs and their supporters on mainstream media, including the ABC’s The Drum and Q&A. No. It’s a Coalition wedded to its coal sponsors causing the damage.

There are no reputable scientists or economists who believe we will meet our Paris target to reduce our emissions by 26%, based on 2005 levels, by 2030 in a canter. Now the talk is of carry-over credits.

The question has Taylor talking about The Kyoto agreement to Australia fudging its figures; being allowed a credit for land-clearing and forestry in article 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol, known but not fondly, as The Australian Clause and inserted at the behest of Senator Robert Hill. In brief, we chose 1990, a year when land-clearing had been high as our base, thus giving the impression of progress even if we did nothing. The Coalition’s attitude remains unchanged.

We did not do nothing. The Hawke government introduced policies to restrict land-clearing and established Landcare. When Kyoto was officially ratified in 2008, under Rudd, Australia was able to claim “emissions from Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) had fallen by over 80 million tonnes CO2-e … an almost 15 per cent reduction in Australia’s emissions – enough to offset the significant growth in emissions from electricity generation over the same period, which had added 82 million tonnes CO2-e by 2009.”

Because we will beat our 2020 Kyoto targets by 240 million tonnes of CO2, the Morrison government will carry these forward against our 2030 Paris pledge, if other countries are weak enough to allow this. The 26 to 28 per cent target effectively turns into a 15 per cent cut on 2005 levels.

It seems like sharp practice – and in terms of our real contribution to curbing global warming it is a shamefully weak effort, yet our environment minister, “Invisible” Melissa Price, says “it’s a great result for the environment and for the economy”, helping prosecute the fallacy that curbing emissions acts as a break on prosperity, a myth so widely and frequently circulated that it is Coalition and mainstream media orthodoxy.

Bill Hare, director of Perth-based global consultancy Climate Analytics, says there’s no chance we can meet our target without new policies. Most other experts agree. Yet the Coalition is a policy-free zone, especially around energy.

Barrie tries to chat about rats leaving the sinking Coalition ship. Ten faux-green bottles no longer hanging on the wall. More to accidentally fall? Taylor recycles ScoMo’s spin that while the faces may change, the policies remain “focused”. Yet  coal is in now out of-focus while hydro gets a spin.  And since Taylor’s debut in August, energy is an enigma. Even Frydenberg didn’t try to ride two horses at once. You can’t burn coal and pump hydro. It’s one or the other.

Unless it’s for show. This week the Coalition puts another $1.6bn into the kitty for Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. Invests $56m in interconnector 2.0, or the Marinus link to make little Tassie a powerhouse; “the battery of the nation”.

Marinus will carry power not only from pumped hydro, moreover, it will be able to conduct electricity from wind-power projects in the pipeline. But it won’t be economic; it can’t pay its way unless coal-fired power generation is retired. The costs of the poles and wires are extra. These, ScoMo generously makes clear, are to be borne by the relevant states.

For Tassie’s Marinus 2 project to work, however, its feasibility report says its necessary or our nation to get out of coal-fired power generation. Fast. 2020 is suggested. Yet Angus Taylor suggests there may be ten coal-fired plants which the government may subsidise. Again, it’s impossible to have an each-way bet. Giles Parkinson sums up: Snowy 2.0 and the Tasmanian scheme only make economic and financial sense if coal-fired power production ceases.

“There is no place in the schemes if coal-fired generators remain.”

That’s entirely at odds with Coalition policy. This includes a type of state aid to Trevor St Baker, the billionaire who bought Vales Point from the NSW government for a song – and poised to set up some new ones; a white knight of the black rock and a Liberal Party donor just battling to make a quid by keeping old stations such as Liddell running well past their use-by date. No wonder the government is releasing no feasibility study. What they propose is impossible.

At base, however, Snowy 2.0’s just another show.  “Getting on with the job”, as Showboat ScoMo pitches his cynical faux humility. Typically, “the job” entails the hard slog of deception, disinformation and spin but the old stager knows no sort of performance can distract from the reality that at least ten of his Coalition crew are madly stampeding for the exits.

“Jobs for the boys” are what we are in fact talking about, as Labor’s Penny Wong never tires of reminding us.

Wait, there’s more good news. “A record seven women in cabinet”, boasts Nine news. ScoMo boldly overpromotes rookie WA Senator Linda Reynolds straight from assistant Minister for Home Affairs, to Minister for Defence Industry.

“When you can call up a brigadier, in the form of Linda Reynolds, to take on the role of defence minister, it shows we have a lot of talent on our bench to draw from” Morrison lies. It does show the Liberals’ fetish for militarism. Above all, it rewards Reynolds for quickly abandoning her complaints of bullying in the Liberal Party.

“As a soldier I believe you go through a chain of command and you do things internally,” she says. Her cryptic comment may make sense to a part-time army reservist on a weekend camp but how is this Liberal individualism?  Of far more concern, is how the potential Minister of Defence would respond to whistle-blowers.

Alarmingly, Reynolds repeats Morrison’s myth that voters have no interest in the internal workings of the party – a nonsense given the party’s commitment to transparency – and given the ways our choices of candidate and party are justly informed by insights into party culture – or as Kelly O’Dwyer put it, ways votes are lost by a popular perception that the Liberal party is a mob of “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

ScoMo promises to make Reynolds Defence Minister after Christopher Pyne tidies up his sock drawer and ties up a few other loose ends such as our $79 billion submarine contract. Can he get the boats built in Australia by Australians – preferably in his own state, if not his own electorate? How will we provide crews? A lot for the Fixer to work through.

Reynolds is also – gasp – a woman and a Brigadier in the Army Reserve – irrefutable proof of the Liberals’ egalitarian democracy, despite only nineteen MPs being women.  And a reservist Brigadier will instantly win over any full-time ADF member. Yet the PM fails to cut a dash given the splash as rats desert HMAS Chum-bucket his sinking submarine.

The week in politics sees the federal Coalition frantically green-wash its cred – even recycling the direct action scam, a monster magic soil boondoggle only Hunt could flog, as it struggles to “get on with the job” as ScoMo puts it.

Everyone else lost interest long ago. Or they’re jumping overboard or already off-grid, as a weary nation battles fair-dinkum fatigue, a torpor not even Snowy Hydro 2.0, a Sisyphean marvel now bigger than ANZAC, Phar Lap and Kokoda put together can shift.

“It’s absolutely fair-dinkum power. It doesn’t get more fair dinkum than this,” gurgles ScoMo, who transforms, this week, into state socialist as he widens the sluice-gate of government funding on a project which has already cost a mozza; $6 billion for the Commonwealth just to buy out NSW and Victorian states’ investments.

This week’s capital transfusion transforms Malcom Turnbull’s pipe-dream into a Ponzi scheme. Snowy 2.0 will pump water uphill when power is cheap and let it rush downhill again when the price is right driving whirling turbines to produce top dollar power which cannot but help drive up power bills.

“We don’t need Morrison’s money”, carps Snowy Hydro CEO, Paul Broad, to News Corp, rejecting the Coalition’s sudden, unbidden injection of $1.4 billion part of a largesse which includes glad-handing $440 million to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a sign that the outfit may be struggling to stay afloat; struggling to make its numbers add up.

Pumped hydro schemes are generally not profitable, reports Giles Parkinson. Last year, data from the Australian Energy Market shows that existing pumped hydro schemes made almost no money from this activity. In the last quarter, they actually lost money and over the previous four quarters made virtually no money. Paul Broad is less expansive.

“The government decided the way it wanted to balance out the funding. It wanted to sustain dividends,” Broad says. “It wanted to support the project with equity. These things are part of negotiations that go on. We never asked for it. We never asked for anything.” Keeping financial modelling secret only fuels suspicion that Pacific Hydro’s in trouble already.

 Our PM quickly whips up a succession of other phantasmagorical stunts, this week, ranging from Monday’s Climate Solutions fund to spruik the ERF’s resurrection, an Abbott scam for channelling funding to Big Agriculture and even Big Coal amongst other worthy Liberal donors and supporters. It would cost $200 bn to use it to reach our Paris targets.

In other words, it’s “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and a fig leaf to cover its determination to do nothing”, as Malcolm Turnbull proclaimed of Abbott’s ERF plan prior to the 2013 election.

An emission-abating nation gasps as “showboat” ScoMo simultaneously flogs a dead horse, puts lipstick on a pig and executes a reverse pork barrel dive with pike all in free-fall off Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains region.

“Magic-soil” Morrison rebadges Abbott’s quick and dirty emissions reduction fund (ERF) boondoggle as a $2bn Climate Solutions Fund (CSF) whilst slashing its annual budget from $510 million to $200 million.  Sheer genius.

It’s half of the funding Abbott committed in the 2013 election campaign. The Kiwis are right. ScoMo’s a phenomenon; a force of nature; a cunning stunt and not a one trick pony after all.

If there’s less pork to fork, what’s left is spread more widely; farmers, whose fingers are already worked to the bone filling in drought-relief forms can now apply for a CSF handout to “drought-proof” their farms, whatever that means, or just do a bit of re-vegetation. Businesses get handouts for “energy efficient projects” and not just planting for trees they would have planted anyway. Given that ERF farmers are agri-businesses, also, a double dip may well be possible.

The Wilderness Society calls on the invisible Environment Minister Melissa Price, former  to review the channelling of funds into paying farmers to protect native vegetation after Queensland satellite data suggested recipients of such money were clearing other parts of their land. What could possibly go wrong?

“Our analysis shows that 13,317 hectares of forest and bushland clearing has occurred across 19 properties in the same year or years subsequent to winning ERF contracts for funding under vegetation methodologies,” Glenn Walker, climate campaign manager for the group, says in a letter to Minister Price.

Not to be outdone, Home Affairs Super-Minister, one trick pony, Peter Dutton doctors up his fear campaign Thursday, with another populist dog-whistle from Dutts Unplugged, a long-running White Australia revival tour.

“People who need medical services are going to be displaced from those services, because if you bring hundreds and hundreds of people from Nauru and Manus down to our country, they are going to go into the health network,” Uncle Dutts tells a fawning of loyal reporters in Brisbane. Doctors respond that the claim is nonsense.

Oddly, not a word of support is heard from anyone, not even Craig and the rest of the Kelly gang, a sect whose job it is to invite climate-change deniers to parliament to mislead policy-makers and to hold Morrison to ransom on energy, a kindness paid forward by the PM and his federal energy minister, Angus Taylor in dictating to the states.

Nobody’s talking. It’s an “announceable” – not a discussion topic. Flanking his PM in the photo opportunity, is Angus, “Squizzy” Taylor, our federal energy enforcer. Was he in witness protection since his rout late last December’s COAG meeting? Then he refused NSW energy minister, Don Harwin’s call for a new national zero emissions policy?

“Industry is spooked by poor policy”, Harwin holds; a circuit-breaker is needed. Squizzy shoots him down. Out of order.

December’s COAG meeting does not even hear NSW’s point of view. Taylor tells Harwin to zip it, citing procedural grounds. Vetoes discussion. “It got ugly very quickly. It was a full-on revolt”, a source tells Fairfax, now Nine Newspapers.

Happily Craig Kelly’s not worried. “I know how [Taylor’s] mind works”, he explains to Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy. Murphy wisely leaves this alone. On Sky, Taylor won’t divulge how many Coalition coal projects are planned but Matt Canavan blabs that the government is looking at including ten in the underwriting scheme. Someone needs to talk to Canavan but only after voters are sold on the wave of jobs that will flow from so many new automated hell-holes and black-lung health hazards.

But it’s not Handbrake Kelly’s backbench committee to abort any change in energy or environment that Morrison really needs to win over. Nor is it the cabal of climate deniers Buzzfeed dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”, in 2016. Still in parliament, at least until May, are Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Zed Seselja, Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen. Senator Linda Reynolds must surely get a Dirty Dozen supporter lapel pin for disinformation,

“Remember when the coalition repealed the carbon tax? It led to the largest fall of electricity prices on record,” she lies.

ScoMo’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 reboot is a bid to woo Kooyong, Warringah, Wentworth, Higgins and Tasmanians who’ll be pumped to be included, even if they’ll have to pay for the bits to make the interlink link anywhere. Knit their own cables.

The media narrative that both major parties’ squabble threaten the development of a sound energy policy is a myth invented by those reactionaries and others who call themselves conservative parties. Conservative?

The lack of progress towards renewable energy is no fault of partisan politics or any 24-hour news cycle, but an outcome actively planned and funded by key stake-holders whose institutes, associations and think tanks enjoy remarkably success – if you can count the win of the mining lobby, (just for example), as a win and not an irretrievable, egregious loss in terms of global warming, environmental vandalism and humanity.

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