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Armageddon

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Peace Be Upon All

By Khaled-Oula Elomar

This is what I had to experience Thursday night 21st March 2019.

After a very long day in Melbourne attending an all-day Project workshop, this is what I had to endure on my return flight home. Before I start, let me warn you that this story will hurt you, frustrate you and make you rather angry. It did to me for 1.5 hrs but then I was overwhelmed with complete joy and happiness. You may not extract the same outcome as I did, but that’s OK. Just think about it without emotional connectivity and you’ll see my point.

I boarded the plane and the cabin manager throughout the boarding process was constantly noting that the plane was full and for those carrying more than one bag to place the larger bag in the overhead locker, and the smaller one under the seat. Now I was only carrying my brown bag which is just big enough to fit my laptop and diary.

Thinking like an engineer, as I only had the one bag, I thought I had the right to place my leather bag in the overhead locker so I can stretch my legs under the seat in front of me. I guess I should have been more sensible and placed it under the seat to allow others with 2 bags more overhead space.

After I sat down and started a new Sudoku challenge (Einstein Level lol), in comes a lady, with her nose stuck-up-in-the-air attitude and looking rather frustrated, she looks up into the locker where my bag was located and yells out, not in a loud voice, “who owns this brown bag?” I look up and say “it’s mine”. She replies “well obviously you don’t understand English. Did you hear what the lady was saying?” I said “my apologies. I will take it out now.” She says “you people are unbearable.” I said “obviously we’ve all had a long day. Please forgive my ignorance.”

When I took it down, not only did she place her big bag in the locker, she also put her small bag there too. That got me fired up but not to a point to say anything to her. I bit my tongue and convinced myself that I am only 1.5 hours away from seeing the most beautiful woman on the planet – yes, my wife Oula.

Now those who know me, know that I can complete an Extremely Difficult level Sudoku in under 10 minutes. We landed in Sydney and barely got through half of the same one I started in Melbourne airport. You could say I was hurt and shaken by that lady and her despicable attitude.

We arrived in Sydney and the lady disembarked the plane before me. Probably 5 people between her and I. As we were walking out of the airport, we got to a set of escalators to go down to the lower level. The escalator wasn’t working which added to her frustration because she had to carry that heavy bag.

I stood behind her and said “please let me help you with that.” I carried her bag down the escalator but never looked her in the eyes. And she never uttered a word to me but I could sense that she never took her eyes off me. We get to the bottom of the escalator and I said “have a wonderful evening.” I turned around and walked away. She neither said “thank you” nor apologised for her appalling attitude.

As I was making my way to the carpark I felt so good that I am closer to seeing the love of my life and that I rubbed that bitch’s nose in wet and moist dog shite. I am convinced that she was remorseful for her actions and appreciative of my assistance, but was completely overwhelmed with regret that it knotted her tongue and she couldn’t utter a single word. I didn’t need to hear her say anything.

And that, my friends, is how you shut and face up to a racist. You do it with Love and Respect. No need to lower yourself down to their level. The opportunity to get your revenge, in a humane way, will always come and highlight itself to you only when your calm and collected. If you reciprocate with them at their level and to their tone, you get blinded by rage and anger and will miss that opportunity.

Never miss an opportunity to yell at bigots Silently and Deadly.

Stay true and classy.

Love and Respect,

Khaled.

PS: Not to forget, I got to see my Queen and her infectious smile. Who could remain upset after that?

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What’s that smell?

For two years from May 1987 Tony Fitzgerald QC turned a spotlight and then a fire hose on the corrupt Queensland Country Party regime of Joh Bjelke-Peterson, his henchmen and his blue-uniformed partners in crime. Four ministers were jailed, numerous coppers were convicted and the shop-soiled shyster himself was charged with perjury, narrowly escaping a stretch of porridge.

While in office the despotic old bumpkin and grifter cultivated an autocratic political climate of rampant corruption. Queensland became a magnet for white-shod carpet baggers, spivs and urgers. He was so emboldened by a lack of accountability, an outrageous gerrymander and his grand delusion of wide popularity that the Joh For PM freak show was assembled on the bizarre notion that the rest of the country would endorse an authoritarian crime boss as our head of the government.

That notion was quickly shot down in the court of public opinion and memory of the whole short-lived absurdity has faded  – overtaken by the farce of  a newer generation of rustic political pick-pockets re-branded as the National Party.

Abraham Lincoln observed that you can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time. 

The National Party has traded on its ability to fool most of the yokels all of the time.

So brazenly confident were they of their right to country votes that they embraced as their federal leader another cartoonish oik – the “best retail politician in the country”, the priapic, purple-headed member from New England, Barmy Barnaby Joyce, a man who has never let his expansive ignorance interfere with his forming of an opinion.

To paraphrase Joseph de Maistre, we get the politicians we deserve. Barmy received 73.63% of the two candidate preferred vote and 64% of the primary vote at the 2017 New England by-election. So New England deserves the Beetrooter – but by default the rest of us then inherited this blathering ignoramus as an MP; an opinionated blowhard who no doubt gets his notions at the same Tamworth servo where he gets his petrol, his Playboy magazines and his dentistry.

Surely hillbillies, rubes, yokels, hayseeds and banjo strummers do not make up 73.63%  of the population of Tamworth, Armidale and their surrounds. What excuses can New Englanders offer for their enthusiastic support of an all too obvious paperhanger in a risible verandah-brimmed Akubra that remains untroubled by the sweat any any actual labour?

But Barmy The Beetrooter’s shortcomings extend further than the purile gibberings of a provincial gobshite and comical, cardboard cut-out cow cocky.

While Bjelke-Peterson’s supplementary income was delivered in brown paper bags such discretion is not Barmy’s strong point. His favours are sought via such things as a $40,000 inducement in novelty cheque form presented at a glitzy agricultural event; gleefully received but grudgingly returned after monumental outrage.

Beetrooter’s disregard for proprieties however is blatantly Bjelke-esque. Whether it’s complacency on water theft from a distressed river system and indifference to its consequences, outrageous pork barreling, conflicts of interest or bag-carrying for mining magnates our hero is shameless.

The flimflam has been supplemented with spectacular hypocrisy – self-pityingly pleading for privacy on prime time television and from the  front pages of newspapers while promoting his book; professing family values while boozing, womanising and shagging one of his staffers.

How is it that the straw-chewin’ tyre-kickin’ pastoralists and country town shopkeepers are so easily duped? Barmy is an entitled, in-it-for-himself, double dealing politician of the type the rustics rush to disparage, yet here they are nodding knowingly at Barmy’s facile flatulence over a shout in the front bars of country pubs. Are rural folk simply gormless hayseeds – parochial, uninformed, uninterested? Are they so rusted on to the agrarian socialist party that has sold them out in favour of the big bucks from minng interests that they will continue to line up at the polling booths to piss all over decency, accountability and their own interests?

The price for standing up to the Nats in the bush used to be social ostracism and boycotts if you ran a rural business**. The good news is that there are signs that the waft from Barmy and his chums is now reaching boondocks nostrils. Bushies are no longer prepared to accept that the countryside is there to be raped and pillaged for profit, they are (belatedly) acknowledging the reality of anthropomorphic climate change and most country electorates supported marriage equality.

The Nats meanwhile, in thrall to donations from the mining industry, maintain their climate denialism, pimp for more coal mines and coal-fuelled power stations, look the other way on water theft and support wide-scale clearing of native vegetation, adhering to their old time ethos of “if it moves shoot it, if it doesn’t chop it down”.

“Water is wealth and a dam is a bank. Any essence of wealth is connected to water and water infrastructure. As they say you can make money out of mud, you can’t make it out of dust.” Barmy Joyce 2016.

Since falling from the Nat’s top spot because his myopic belief in his own sex appeal was challenged by a Rural Woman of the Year via a sexual harrasment allegation Barmy has spent his time in parliament glowering from the backbenches at Michael McSomebody, his marionette-on-Mogadon replacement and plotting a return, claiming with his signature disregard for reality to be the “elected deputy prime minister of Australia” and declaring he would have no guilt in again seeking the Nat leadership.

Barmy instead belongs in Gina Rinehart’s Home For Discarded Tory Politicians, polishing apples and running errands.

Is it too much to hope that come the election in May the voters of New England will push the button and use some of their remaining water to flush this turd?

References:

Nationals face their biggest threat yet after an annus horribilis – Guardian Australia

Barnaby Joyce defies the Senate on ‘pork barrel’ public service move – SMH

Waste of money: Opposition calls for the scrapping of our Barnaby bank – Northern Daily Leader

Barnaby Joyce accused of tilting Murray-Darling authority towards irrigators – The Guardian Australia

Barnaby Joyce sexual harassment allegation – The Guardian Australia

Poor white bloke – Inside Story.

Weatherboard and Iron: Politics, the Bush and Me – Barnaby Joyce. Book review

The Nationals Barnaby Problem – Independent Australia

*”…the confession in his autobiography that he was abusing “alcohol” and “carousing” in Canberra bars…

**… the Nationals run New England. If they don’t like you, that is the end of your career or business. Worse than the Masons.’

Barnaby Joyce: Peeling back the rumours – Independent Australia

*”A male witness we did locate and speak with did not see any initiating activity, but he did, allegedly, see a young girl in obvious distress at a Canberra pub in 2011. Then he saw an older female allegedly confront Joyce about his actions regarding the girl. And then he allegedly saw Joyce brush this woman off with what he was convinced was a pinch on the backside.

“After pub closing time, an allegedly inebriated Joyce, according to our witness, stood outside on the footpath in such a way the women felt intimidated and requested an escort to their cab.”

This article was originally published on The Grump Geezer.

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Armageddon

By RosemaryJ36  

Recently I am beginning to understand why people become so frustrated when need for action is denied, that they self-immolate.

With the increasing recognition of the effects of global warming being voiced in the media, it is clear that the world collectively is not doing enough to slow the process down, let alone reverse it. I have a constant feeling of impending doom as disaster after disaster is happening, all round the world.

Cyclone Idai, which affected south-east Africa very recently, has been dubbed the worst disaster to occur in the southern hemisphere, and the countries worst affected are not wealthy and will struggle to restore life to normal.

The irony is that every time viable suggestions are made for action which could be taken to avert disastrous temperature increases and the consequent catastrophic weather events, the immediate response is that the economic cost of the suggested measures make it inappropriate to proceed.

Has anyone bothered to add up the costs accruing from the increasing numbers of major disasters – hurricanes, cyclones, wild fires, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, landslides, etc – which have occurred in the last decade or two? To reduce the bill, some funds have been withheld, as, for example, in Puerto Rico, which is only regarded as part of the USA when it suits the White House!

And if it were not enough to have ‘natural’ disasters occurring with increasing frequency, (let’s forget for a moment that consensus now accepts that it is human beings use of fossil fuels which has disturbed the balance of nature), we also have a rising flood of crimes against humanity in terms of events such as the Christchurch massacre and the attempt by ISIS to set up a caliphate, based on a warped interpretation of the Qur’an.

Why do people feel it so necessary to not only dislike others because of their culture or religion but feel it is appropriate to actually hate them enough to kill them?

Talking with friends recently, there was general agreement that, increasingly in recent years, unpleasant language is used in public to an extent that was never publicly acceptable a generation or two ago. So many people just do not care if they offend others, in fact scorn anyone who criticises rude or unpleasant behaviour towards strangers.

Lack of respect for others (not to mention lack of respect for the environment and for biodiversity), plus lack of empathy for those in need, highlights the hypocrisy of many who claim to believe in Christianity or be guided by some religious moral code.

Also lurking in the background is the extent to which acquisition of wealth, synonymous with power, has become a religion for global corporations, creating monopolies which effectively dictate to governments. And among those for whom making money is paramount are the arms manufacturers, who make sure that those fighting have all the latest mod cons!

One of the first essentials for life is clean water. We are not managing it very well. Here in Australia we have practically destroyed the vitally important Murray/Darling system and all round the world, water is being polluted by fracking.

Another essential is clean air, and the health costs associated with a lack of this commodity are staggering.

Perhaps we need the world to be wiped out, because mankind has become the destroyer of all.

At the present rate of progress, those dreaming of colonising some planet not too far, far away will run out of time while the earth burns and crumbles!

We do not deserve to survive if we can allow our populations to be reduced to fighting each other for no good reason, while we fail to ensure that life can be viable as well as enjoyable!

I keep trying to be optimistic, but it becomes a losing battle when not enough people care enough to ensure that necessary action is taken in time!

The School Strike 4 Climate showed the way to tell the government to act. Now we all need to be out there!

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NSW State Election: Let the Economic Debate About the Sustainability of Strident Neoliberalism Continue

By Denis Bright  

Premier Berejiklian has confounded the final pre-election Newspoll to achieve an effective working majority in the NSW Legislative Assembly. Even in the less than likely absence of an absolute majority of 47 LNP members, Premier Berejiklian can seek endorsement from the conservative independents from the seats of Sydney and Lake Macquarie.

It will take more time to assess the political character of the Legislative Council where the quota for successful candidates is just 4.55 per cent under a state-wide proportional voting system.

Mark Latham (One Nation), David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrat) can form a voting bloc in the Legislative Council with members from the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF) and the Fred Nile Group of Christian Democrats, to move NSW politics in a centre-right direction. It is a long-time since a NSW Government had a cruisy relationship with the Legislative Council.

The results from previous elections show the ongoing appeal of minor parties in the Legislative Council (Tally Room 2019):

Five members of the cross-bench of the Legislative Council retain their seats until 2023 including two Greens and one each from Animal Justice, the Fred Nile Group and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers (SFF).

The size of the cross-bench is also likely to increase in the Legislative Assemble with SFF members from Murray, Orange and possibly Barwon. There are conservative independents of varied hues from Wagga Wagga, Sydney, Lake Macquarie and possibly even Dubbo which is still one of the doubtful seats on election night.

This fracturing of the traditional two-party system is reinforced by the re-election of three Green members from Ballina, Balmain and Newtown plus uncertainty of the result in Lismore as supplied by ABC News Online during the election count at 21.00.

As the election night count continued, Labor looked like gaining the seat of Coogee, rather than the most state marginal seat of East Hills prior to election day.

The net loss of seats to the state-LNP has also been reinforced by voting trends in regional NSW.

Despite Labor’s failure to gain more winnable marginal seats across Metro Sydney, the NSW election result is hardly a ringing endorsement of Treasurer Dominic Perrottet’s strident brand of neoliberalism.

Strong Economic Management: The LNP Treasurer Ace LNP Election Card?

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has attempted to humanise and popularise the appeal of neoliberalism and the effects of recent privatisations in his press releases.

As a softener to the privatisation of NSW electricity generation, the NSW Government has established a Generations Fund which will manage some of the revenue generated to expand infrastructure and community development projects (Media Release from Treasurer Dominic Perrottet 19 June 2018):

“The NSW Generations Fund adds a whole new level of resilience to the sturdy financial foundations our Government has already built, to help withstand the budget pressures of an aging population in the coming decades.”

The NSW Generations Fund will grow through investment returns and future contributions. Following the proposed 51 per cent sale of WestConnex, the Government intends to place the State’s residual interest into the NGF, so ongoing returns on that asset are shared with the whole community.

The NSW Generations Fund will also deliver for people today with up to half of returns on the fund enabling My Community Dividend, a new initiative that empowers citizens to take more control over the way public funding is allocated to local projects. My Community Dividend will give residents an opportunity to nominate and vote on projects that strengthen and enhance their local communities. To launch the program, $27.5 million has been allocated in the 2018-19 Budget to fund projects expected to range in value from $20,000 to $200,000.

“My Community Dividend is about empowering the people of NSW to get the projects that matter to them and their communities off the ground,” Mr Perrottet said.

No-one could sensibly object to the formation of a Generations Fund. The political problem is its reliance on privatisation for the source of funding when real alternatives are available in a social market economy that can tap international and local corporate sources of finance for legitimate investment in infrastructure and community development.

In true neoliberal traditions, Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has also leased a 51 per cent share of the Sydney Motorway Corporation (West Connex) at a net gain of $9.3 billion to top up the NSW Generations Fund for additional general infrastructure funding and community development spending to $10 billion and $25 billion in a decade (Media Release 18 December 2018).

As the cash cow provided by privatisations is allocated by current expenditure and capital works programmes, the real challenge is a quest for alternative sources of funding (Parliamentary Research Service 2017):

After the sale of key public assets in NSW, the state LNP government is running out of new cash cows to privatise. Revenue from the long-term leasing of electricity transmission and distribution has been diverted into a Restart NSW Fund:

Restart NSW is the vehicle for the delivery of the Rebuilding NSW plan, which is the Government’s 10-year plan to invest in new infrastructure funded by the electricity network transactions, Commonwealth Government Asset Recycling Initiative payments, and investment earnings.  These proceeds are first deposited into the Restart NSW fund before being invested into infrastructure projects.

Infrastructure NSW is responsible for assessing and recommending Restart NSW projects which improve the productivity and competitiveness of NSW across all sectors. They include a mixture of NSW Government agency-led infrastructure projects, as well as local and community infrastructure projects led by local government, non-government organisations and other agencies, the majority of which are recommended following a submission-based competitive process.

The budget papers for 2018-19 show the projected decline in capital expenditure in the next three budgets to 2021-22.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet has extended privatisation processes to some of the operations of NSW Treasury (NSW TCorp) (Media Release 13 December 2018). These changes will become operational in April 2019:

The contracts will cover all Government transactions including payments, receipts, cross-border banking and purchasing cards and are expected to save up to $5 million each year in fees and charges.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet signed the contracts after an extensive tender process.

“The finance sector is evolving rapidly, and the NSW Government has selected the providers who will ensure we offer both the best services to consumers and are an early adopter of innovative technology and new ways of banking,” Mr Perrottet said.

“These contracts will also allow greater flexibility and as technology evolves, a better experience for the millions of people who transact with the Government each year.”

Other advantages, which will flow from the new contracts, include a more streamlined approach to transactions, more payment options for customers, improved security and greater use of digital payment options.

The three-year contracts will commence in April 2019 with the opportunity available for parties to extend the agreement by up to three years.

Westpac and ANZ will provide transaction banking services, payment services and cross-border banking services. Citi will manage the Government’s purchasing cards.

NSW Treasury Secretary Michael Pratt said this was an excellent outcome for the State.

“The new contracts set-up a platform for the NSW Government to execute its long-term banking and payment strategy by allowing us to tap into the expertise of a broader range of leading Australian and international banks,” he said.

One possibility is the opening of NSW Treasury loan raising to Investment Bonds to maintain the momentum of infrastructure and community development during the 2019-2023 term of government.

These options could be tested by the Labor Opposition through parliamentary committee processes available to review the economic dogmatism of the NSW Government.

Budget Papers 2018-19 offers a convenient short-term bench-mark in infrastructure spending in both the NSW Government Sector and in the Public Non-Financial Corporate Sector (PNFC) (Budget Paper No. 2 2018-19):

Public-private partnerships can also assist the private sector to achieve more social market goals from the equivalent of new projects like the existing Parramatta Square Project which is currently being managed by the Walker Group.

Treasurer Dominic Perrottet is protected from the macro-politics of NSW in his safe electorate of Epping despite a strong resurgence by Labor’s candidate Alan Mascarenhas:

As the privatisation bonanza of the state LNP runs out of fresh assets in a slowing national economy during the 2019-2023 term of the re-elected government, it is Labor’s responsibility to come up with viable alternatives to the slash and burn style of neoliberalism which has been the hallmark of the current government.

Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is committed to citizens’ journalism by promoting discussion of topical issues from a critical structuralist perspective. Readers are encouraged to continue the discussions in this current series of Trending Issues for Australians in this national election year.

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Bovine excrement

By 2353NM  

Prime Minister Morrison seems to be certain that the next federal election will be in May. Cynics would suggest as Parliament is only sitting for two weeks in April, the plan is to hone their political sales pitch, pork barrel marginal electorates and parachute past or failed LNP politicians and their supporters into positions where they could potentially influence government programs and decisions into the future. It’s time to call bovine excrement on the sales pitch (because the word ‘bull****’ would trigger a significant number of internet filters).

The Climate Council is on the record as suggesting that Australia is NOT on track to meet its target of reducing carbon emissions to below 2005 levels by 2030. In addition, they note

This target is inadequate in terms of the science and Australia doing its fair share to tackle climate change. The independent Climate Change Authority recommended, in the lead up to the Paris climate talks in 2015, Australia adopt a 2030 emissions reduction target of 45-65% below 2005 levels.

Australia’s 2030 target is economy wide, meaning that Australia must reduce total greenhouse gas pollution taking into account emissions from all sectors – electricity, stationary energy, transport, fugitive emissions, industry, agriculture, waste and land use.

Morrison insists Australia will meet the target ‘in a canter’ (partial paywall), and in the last week or so announced a number of ‘measures’ to demonstrate his ‘commitment’. Given Morrison was the one handing a piece of coal around in the Parliament not that long ago and his party was the one claiming earlier this decade an emissions trading scheme would wipe out Whyalla and generate the $100 lamb roast, you really have to question the claim. Well The Saturday Paper did, (partial paywall) using evidence, and not favourably

Having seen the policy and watched Morrison’s misrepresentations of climate reality in media interviews, Tim Baxter, a fellow of the Law School and associate of the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University, doesn’t see Australia cantering towards its climate goals. He sees a gallop. The “Gish gallop”.

For those unfamiliar with the term — as I was when Baxter used it — the Gish gallop is a rhetorical technique, named for an American creationist, Duane Gish, who employed it.

As Baxter explains: “It’s a term for when you throw out copious amounts of half-truths and baseless claims in rapid succession, knowing your opponent cannot rebut each one in the available time. It’s based on the premise that it takes vastly more effort to debunk nonsense than it takes to put it out in the first place.”

The Climate Council is a group of scientists that look at evidence, not popularity. They work in a similar way to the scientists that monitored every child born in Denmark for an 11 year period (around 650,000 people) and determined vaccination doesn’t have any effect on autism rates versus those who determine that vaccination is dangerous based on Andrew Wakefield’s UK ‘research’ using a group of

just 12 patients, [which] could not be repeated in subsequent studies, and Wakefield lost his UK medical licence after it was revealed he had conflicts of interest in the case and had falsified data.

Morrison claims he ‘stopped the boats’ and protects our ‘strong borders’. In 2011, Morrison, as a part of the then Coalition opposition (together with the Greens), blocked the ‘Malaysia Solution’ to the ‘problem’ of potential refugees sailing on unseaworthy boats with the intention of arriving on Australian soil.

In all likelihood, those new laws would have significantly deterred asylum seekers from attempting the dangerous journey by boat. Without the legislation, 591 boats brought 39,070 people to Australia from October 2011 to July 2013. Tony Abbott has since expressed some regret about his role in blocking the plan. As far as I can tell, Scott Morrison hasn’t joined him.

From the same article in The Inside Story

Nevertheless, asylum seekers are now arriving in greater numbers and at an increasing rate by the safer and cheaper means of the aeroplane. In the year ending June 2018, 27,931 people with visitor visas, the bona fides of which may be difficult to assess at points of departure to Australia, applied for protection visas, compared with the 18,365 boat arrivals who made such claims in 2012–13. The backlog of applications for protection visas at June 2018 was 177,140, and the backlog of appeals to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal has increased from 17,480 in 2016 to 52,491 in 2018.

The Inside Story goes on to argue that Morrison and Dutton’s Home Affairs Department within the Coalition government is an abuse of process, inefficient and weakens rather than strengthens the capacity of Australia to process asylum seekers claims in a humane and realistic timeframe. Most asylum seekers (who arrive by plane) are living in towns and cities around Australia waiting for their protection claims to be processed by Morrison and Dutton’s monolithic department that has to follow byzantine and inefficient policies to do the work required without adequate resourcing. Apparently the rhetoric around Home Affairs and offshore detention being the response needed for ‘border protection’ is more spin and marketing without evidence.

In both cases here, just as with other policies and practices of the current version of the Abbot/Turnbull/Morrison government, Morrison is clearly in trouble on a factual level and has to rely on bovine excrement and ‘Gish galloping’ to justify dodgy policy. Let’s call him out on it now, during the election campaign and at the ballot box.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Society’s spooked with sacred superstitions

By Brian Morris   

There’s a critical element missing from the whole debate on ‘Religious Freedom’ — and it’s one that must be addressed when Scott Morrison’s ‘Religious Discrimination Act’ is finally rolled out during the May election campaign.

Why is it — as a secular nation — we have become spooked on the topic of religion? We don’t communicate beyond our own sphere of beliefs! How is it that basic questions about religious faith are seen as “offensive”? For what reason do media outlets maintain a strict taboo — avoiding discussions which probe the provenance and foundational fallibilities that underpin all religions?

It’s time to confront religion as a man-made concept.

Currently, it’s a minefield. No pun. Discuss Palestine and you’re condemned as either pro-Israel or anti-Semitic; for Syria it’s pro/anti Shiite or Sunni; in Ireland (still) you’re for/against Catholics or Protestants; for Kashmir it’s Hindus vs Muslims; in Surabaya ISIS attack Christians; in Thailand, Buddhists persecute Rohingyas; and in Jerusalem — all three Abrahamic religions claim it as their own.  Visualise every current conflict and almost all are internecine or involve two historically combative religions.

Religion is a ‘choice’ — it is not determined by skin colour or gender. And the ‘cultural’ argument just doesn’t wash. Children from every country on Earth are born without any religious DNA — all doctrines are learned, and at some stage in their lives, individuals can choose another faith; or none at all. True; with some faiths, that decision can be hazardous, but it does not change the fact. This is one illustration of how religion divides us.

Religious origins and dogmas remain incomprehensible to the public majority, including many who claim a specific belief. This confusion about religion and its various manifestations — of being “out of touch with the real world” — is just one psychological marker for schizophrenia. And it does seem insane that we cannot openly discuss the fundamental flaws of religion in today’s evidence-based society — four centuries on from “the enlightenment”.

At the core is “Religion” itself; its questionable histories, myths, and man-made dogmas.  

God is not the issue here! There is no scientific evidence either way, ‘tho mounting material and circumstantial evidence would suggest no deity. But for Australia, where Christianity is predominant, there are highly relevant questions of provenance surrounding all Christian denominations. Contemporary historians and biblical scholars point to a faith that is built on highly unstable foundations in a Middle-Eastern desert.

Christianity dominates politics, education, and social administration in this country. It is the non-religious voice that has been silenced in the “public square” — not the privileged and well-financed Christian denominations. Token secular views are rarely heard on voluntary euthanasia, pro-choice, and a score of current issues — the loudest media voice comes from archbishops, devout politicians, and a plethora of Christian Lobbies.

A shrewd conservative strategy — promoting a myth of religion being “silenced” — began when the 2011 Census showed ‘No Religion’ had reached 22.3 per cent, pushing out Anglicanism, and falling just 3 per cent short of the Catholic vote. By 2016, ‘No Religion’ ranked highest, at 30.1 per cent (with Catholics at 22.6 and Anglicans 13.3) — and that secular figure will top 50 per cent when the Census question on Religious Affiliation is finally revised.

“Freedom of Religion” became a mantra following the Religious Round Table in 2015 — the meetings of church leaders in 2015, run by the then Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson. Regrettably, belated meetings for secular groups were cancelled at the last minute when Wilson resigned prematurely to prepare for his Liberal Party campaign for the federal seat of Goldstein, which he won in June 2016.

This mantra has run consistently, through to Philip Ruddock’s ‘Religious Freedom Review’ — a last-ditch strategy by (then PM) Malcolm Turnbull to placate his conservative party room, and squeeze through the vote to legalise same sex marriage in December 2017. Ruddock’s Review fielded more than 16,000 submissions — the vast majority coming as proforma emails from church congregations, organised by Christian lobbyists.

Detailed submissions from secular groups — calling for the winding back of religious privileges that provide legal means to discriminate against the non-religious — were swamped by the flood of Christian emails. Religion has this inherent advantage to effectively lobby all governments — even with their diminishing congregations. The secular public do not ‘congregate’ and ultimately lose an effective voice on all progressive social policy. It’s not surprising, too, that Australian parliaments are among the most Christianised in the Western world.

Recommendations from the Ruddock Review have been drafted by the Morrison government which will codify existing discriminatory privileges for all religious institutions. This Religious Discrimination Act will be a significant plank in the Liberal Party’s election platform. And for Scott Morrison, himself a devout Pentecostal Christian, his voice has echoed on the floor of parliament that we need a crusade to save Christianity.

So, will a reduction of religio-political influence come anytime soon?

A turning point could well be the 2021 Census. For decades, Question 19 on Religious Affiliation, has read; “What is the person’s religion?”. That is a ‘closed’ question which assumes every citizen has one!  The Australian Bureau of Statistics has been urged for years to adopt an ‘open’ question, similar to other OECD nations — “Does the person have a religion?”. The ‘No Religion’ figure will then run closer to Europe, which is well over 50 per cent.

Meantime, secular and atheist organisations look to the media to be more even-handed and provide equal time to the Christian churches — whose voice has not been silenced, as their leaders claim. Religion does remain divisive; it has lost its moral authority, and it is long overdue that its flawed foundations are openly discussed.

With 40 per cent of secondary students now attending private religious schools, mostly Catholic, it is essential that these students think rationally about the religious doctrines and historical myths they are being taught through 12 years of education. Are we simply creating a new generation with schizoid perceptions of religion?

Philosophical ethics and critical thinking provide the moral and ethical foundations that allow for a rational and compassionate approach to facing the challenges of life. It is long overdue that public education bureaucracies (in every state) provide these essential life-skills to all public school students. But we can expect the mythical Hell to freeze over long before private religious schools deign to teach PE and CT in place of religion! Will mainstream media ever step up and join the debate?

Brian Morris is a former Journalist and Public Relations professional and the author of Sacred to Secular, a critically acclaimed analysis of Christianity, its origins and the harm that it does. You can read more about him here.

 

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There is no Planet B

By 2353  

This was written in the immediate aftermath of the Christchurch terror attack where 50 innocent people (at the time of writing) were gunned down by a lone gunman. It was going to be a rant against a number of Australian politicians who use racism and terrorism to further their own objectives. However, Waleed Aly on Network 10’s The Project can express it much better than I can.

(See video below post or click on this link).

It’s true, the Senator in question received 19 direct votes. As Amy Remeikis writes in The Guardian’s website

But vote for him, they did. More than 250,000 people did just that in fact, with his name forming part of the One Nation Senate ticket in Queensland, winning the Pauline Hanson-led party the highest vote after the major parties.

A twist of fate elevated him to the Senate when Malcolm Roberts, Hanson’s number two, fell to the section 44 constitutional crisis.

But it would not have taken much more for Anning to have been elected as the third One Nation senator. He didn’t just happen upon the party’s ticket. He’d been there before. If he hadn’t had fallen out with Hanson over Roberts, he’d be there again.

As Remeikis points out, last August this Senator delivered a speech using a term straight from the annals of Nazi Germany. Two months later Coalition Senators voted for a motion declaring it is ‘OK to be white’ moved by the leader of One Nation. A month after that the NSW National Party kicked out a number of members because the media worked out that the members were neo-Nazis and told the National Party about it. In short, it wasn’t a problem until it was public knowledge.

We’ve also had the Home Affairs Minister suggest that white South African farmers deserved our assistance to jump the queue if they wanted to migrate to Australia (the very crime asylum seekers coming to Australia by boat are claimed to commit) and a number of white nationalists have been welcomed to Australia and Parliament House in Canberra to spread their particular form of propaganda.

Some of what this Senator does has to be purely to get some name recognition come the next election and maybe a few votes from rednecked Queenslanders who know what he is saying (or even worse, those that really don’t care but have heard the name — so he must be ok). The real problem is that we have a group of people in this country that can be summed up by this diagram found on Facebook the day after the terrorist attack in Christchurch.

And Morrison’s expression of sorrow on television on the Friday night the terrorism occurred, while probably genuine, should be balanced with the statement made by Waleed Aly’s in his video editorial (above) that 8 years ago when in opposition, Morrison was promoting creation of racial unrest as an election strategy. You would also have to ask why the 1,000 people predominately from the middle-east (where the Islamic religion is most popular) are still being held in concentration camps off-shore while over 27,000 people flew into Australia in the last year, applied for protection visas and are living in the community.

Terrorism is terrorism — regardless of your particular ‘cause’.

The same day as the terrorism in Christchurch, students across Australia and elsewhere around the world went on strike to protest the lack of meaningful action on climate change. The same conservative blowhards that promote ‘Christian values’ but look for excuses when terrorism is perpetrated by a Christian (and some that should know better) were claiming that the students should have protested on their own time.

Why? When you look at it rationally, the students’ parents and grandparents have ensured that the students will have to make a lot of sacrifices to be able to live on this planet and religious and racist nutjobs have ensured that there is artificial division of homo sapiens based on skin colour, belief systems or other arbitrary barriers. We’ve really stuffed it up for our descendants. They have the right to protest and tell us to lift our game.

As one of the placards at one of the student climate change rallies around Australia shown on the media suggested — ‘there is no Planet B’. It’s a shame our children have to tell us the blindingly obvious.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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The importance of history

By RosemaryJ36  

We ignore history at our peril!

How many people know when universal compulsory education first began and which countries have adopted it?

How many people realise that for a long time – like centuries, and still continuing in some countries – religious organisations were solely responsible for providing education? And that, in many countries, the religious orders were responsible for substantial aspects of governance?

How many people know the countries which still deny equal access to education for women?

Those of us in most of the developed world do not fully appreciate how fortunate we are!

One could relate the recent attempts to dominate the world on the basis of religious beliefs by ISIS as being comparable to the Great Inquisition – which took place not so long ago in the earth’s history!

The last century has seen a monumental increase in technology, which has also gone hand in hand with a massive increase in mankind’s influence on climate, following the industrial revolution.

Our misplaced concerns about the rise of Islam are founded, I would claim, in our ignorance of our own history.

The continuing thread throughout history is the desire to acquire power and use it to control others.

China is the most recent addition to those seeking world domination, but our concerns over wars and power balancing, pale into insignificance when we look at the forces we are continuing to unleash in nature.

Sadly, the appalling slaughter in New Zealand by an Australian man (who shall remain nameless), occurred on the same day as the students’ March 4 Climate Change.

Because of the media’s attention to the unfolding events in NZ, little coverage was given to the massive turnout, worldwide, of young people who genuinely and realistically fear for their future in a world where no adequate attempts are being made to curb and reverse global warming.

Our politicians are not scientists (sadly!) and pay scant regard to their findings, putting us in a most unacceptable situation.

Each one of us can, as we did during WWII, try to recycle and postpone replacing items as they age, but only governments have the power to enforce larger scale efforts to counter climate change.

We need to simultaneously decrease the unnecessary wrappings which generate the pollution causing waste, at the same time as we are developing and installing the technology (which is in part available already) to sort and recycle the existing waste. The first is in our hands but the latter requires input from government and private investors.

Our throwaway mentality has already resulted in an enormous amount of pollution in our oceans, putting our own food resources at risk. And speaking of food – the shocking amount of food waste in developed countries would feed millions who are currently dying of malnutrition.

It is almost as though mankind is developing a self-destruct, nihilistic fatalism!

But we are better than that – and we have future generations whose fate is in our hands.

Water is essential for life – and we are wasting and polluting it. The very air we breathe is polluted to an unacceptable extent in many parts of the world.

All round the world, people are living in dire circumstances while mega-monopolies create untold wealth for a tiny minority of the world’s people.

I find it ironic that the USA has a Social Security system linked to financial assistance in later life, yet they react to the idea of social welfare as if a snake had reared its head.

People can only survive if they help and support each other and we should be expecting our governments to recognise and enable that process.

We are rapidly approaching the point of no return. Maybe a decade and then it will be a question of survival for the hardiest.

We must all join the children and make our voices heard! This is a much worse situation than the decadence of Rome destroying an empire.

This is the selfishness of human beings destroying a planet.

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Getting the word out

A couple of weeks ago a reader asked why AIM wasn’t being more proactive in spreading the word in what we do.

It was a flattering question. Said reader clearly considered our contribution to the political debate important enough to deserve a wider audience.

A number of readers responded with ideas for us.

Two that were prominent were that we come up with car stickers and pamphlets (that could be dropped in letter boxes).

That got the ball rolling.

The first thing we had to do was have a logo designed that would catch the eye. Check. ☑️

Number two – in regards to the pamphlets – was to purchase a quality printer and pamphlet paper. Check. ☑️

Next was to have a pamphlet designed. Check. ☑️

Lastly, design and have car stickers printed. This is still a work in progress. They are designed, but we’re having difficulty finding a local printer. We may have to look online, but we will find one.

Back to the pamphlets …

Eventually we will have a link/button on the site where people can print these off themselves. In the meantime if anybody would like some pamphlets please email us at theaimn@internode.on.net letting us know how many you would like and we will send them to you.

As we don’t have a web version of the pamphlet yet – and knowing that you’re keen to see what you’re ordering – we hope this photo will do:

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Fact and Opinion

By RosemaryJ36  

Every child is born with a unique set of genes, inheriting a variety of characteristics from its ancestors. Immediately it enters the world, it is subject to a variety of influences, some good, some bad, and these all go to form an individual with a range of abilities, needs and aspirations.

For those in countries where education is mandatory, to the influences of relatives and care givers are added those of teachers and peer groups, to gradually develop a complex personality.

More than two decades ago, I got involved in a very ill-chosen relationship during which I became someone I did not like. A few other people in my life have had a similar effect.

So, over time, I became aware that we are all probably much more complex than we appreciate. If you were to get a collection of friends and chance acquaintances to describe how they see you, you would probably emerge with an amazing combination of pictures. Some, who have encountered you in darker days, might come up with a picture you would rather not accept as you.

The instigator of the appalling massacre of Muslims in Christchurch is probably seen by his friends as a hero for acting out what they would all like to do. Why?

Elements of education which, unfortunately, are not experienced by everyone, include critical thinking and empathy raising. In relation to the latter, literature on the development of the brain indicates that the part of the brain which allows the individual to empathise appears not to have developed fully or at all in psychopaths.

If you cannot see life through someone else’s eyes or walk in their shoes, then you might well be unable to accept them as valid people. You could even be oblivious to their needs.

Many people do not appreciate that Judaism, Christianity and Islam have the history of the Jews as a common background to the development of their faiths, sharing the same single god but differing mainly in the importance they pay to the various prophets. My understanding is that Islam sees Jesus Christ as an important prophet, but Muhammed as the most important, while the Jews reject the claim that Jesus Christ was god-made man.

Our individual knowledge and opinions are what form our essence, and the more open our minds are to new knowledge and experience, the more informed we are and the more accepting of the difference of others.

We each have our own set of individual talents and abilities and it is sad that some of these are rated more highly than others.

All the above is essentially common knowledge yet we still fall short of developing the skills in our early educators and medical personnel to identify the children whose circumstances have delivered them a far from ideal set of experiences in early life.

We all are entitled to our own opinions as long as that does not cause us to act in ways that harm others. It can be impossible to persuade someone that their views are essentially antisocial – and that is where the law comes in.

The Australian facing trial in New Zealand appears to have personality defects which result in his inability to understand why his actions are wrong. But the rest of society deserves to be protected from him and the cohort that supports him and his actions.

And government has a responsibility to identify others whose behaviour puts law-abiding citizens at risk, rather than demonising those being attacked on the grounds of race of religion.

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Uncivil War

By Robert Stygall  

This week the UK was plunged into chaos as a second civil war took place.

After weeks of humiliating rejections by Parliament and a refusal by the EU to extend the Brexit exit date; the opposition called for a new election. Theresa May rejected the call and suspended parliament, knowing she would lose a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in her government.

Some hours later, the Queen announced she was intervening in the constitutional crisis. ‘I thought the year Charles separated from Diana, was my worst year, but this year is truly my ‘annus horribillis’, given the events of recent weeks I have decided to suspend the authority of the British Parliament and appoint Prince Charles as Regent and ruler of the UK – effective immediately.’

Subsequently Prince Charles broadcast to the nation, ‘We have watched events over the last two years deteriorate and we are not amused. Our family has an extensive European hereditary and I therefore feel I am ideally qualified to negotiate with Michel Barnier of the EU. I will be exploring the concept of an absolute monarchy within the EU.’

President Macron when asked to comment on the Prince’s proposal said, ‘This Royal coup d’état has as much chance of being accepted by the EU, as the last Emperor of Europe had of escaping St Helena.’

Shortly after the Queen’s announcement, Jeremy Corbyn fled and formed a militia, known as the New Roundheads, with the help of defecting members of the military forces. ‘We will fight them (the Royalists) on the beaches, we shall fight in the fields and streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender,’ he later tweeted.

When a BBC correspondent later accused Corbyn of plagiarism, he replied ‘I have no intention of using biological warfare, including the release of the plague.’

A number of prominent politicians including Theresa May, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage have already been arrested and taken to the Tower. Ironically they have appealed to the European Court of Human Rights regarding their imprisonment.

Scotland has also declared it will secede from the UK, Billy Connolly and Mel Gibson have both been rumoured as strong candidates to be President.

President Trump tweeted ‘Those Europeans really are Anus Painus, it’s about time those Limey’s put the Great back in Britain. The concept of an absolute ruler, is a really, really good idea – worth exploring further.’

Tiffany’s denied rumours that they had been called to the White House, for the purpose of designing a set of Coronets.

Whilst the Australian Government so far officially remains silent on events taking place in the UK, Tony Abbott said he supported the Royal intervention but denied rumours he was putting himself forward as the next Governor General.

He also subsequently denied he had been talking to constitutional experts regarding the power of the Governor General to dismiss a government and become the effective leader of the country.

Bill Shorten said he would avoid any constitutional crisis with the UK by declaring Australia a republic immediately upon being elected. Malcolm Turnbull confirmed he would be a candidate running for President.

Scott Morrison refused to answer question on rumours that British Cruise ships were heading to Australia seeking refugee status.

Scott Morrison instead said he was focused on the forthcoming election and had no comment regards the civil war in the UK and potential implications for Australia. ‘I have appointed Barnaby as special envoy to the Royal Household at this time and his priorities are clear, Lamb and Coal exports.’

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Labor will hire an additional 5,000 teachers

Media Release

NSW Labor Leader, Michael Daley, has announced that a Daley Labor Government, if elected this month, will hire an additional 5,000 teachers across NSW.

By 2036, it is estimated there will be one million students enrolled in NSW public schools. Only Labor will hire the additional teachers needed to keep up with demand and provide the best opportunities for our children.

Labor’s plan for an additional 5,065 teachers includes literary and numeracy teachers as well as specialised education teachers.

Mr Daley said: “This announcement is about more one-on-one time for students, to provide them their best chance. The current Liberal-National Government is denying them this fair chance.”

“If State Government is not about good quality education for our children then what is it about?”

This builds on the announcement that a Daley Labor Government will inject $2.7 billion over the life of the current State and Federal Gonski funding agreement to become the first state in Australia to deliver 100 per cent of the standard level of funding for every student.

Once implemented it will mean more than $1,500 extra every year for every student in NSW public high schools and more than $1,200 for every public primary school student.

Currently, the NSW Liberals and Nationals are providing just 70.8 per cent of the standard level of funding each student needs, short-changing every NSW public school student.

NSW Labor Candidate for Manly, Natasha Phillips-Mason said: “Labor has a strong history of supporting our schools and teachers. When last in office Labor increased the number of school teachers by 23 per cent.”

“But while NSW’s population has been growing over the last eight years, the Liberals and Nationals have only increased teacher numbers by just 11 per cent.”

This further builds on Labor’s previous education commitments, including to:

  • Replace 1,000 ageing demountables across the state
  • Make TAFE free for courses in skill shortage areas
  • Ensure every child can learn a second language
  • Allocate $5,000 to P&Cs
  • Give free glasses to disadvantaged school kids
  • Air condition every school in NSW.

“Only Labor is putting schools and hospitals before knocking down and rebuilding stadiums,” Ms Phillips-Mason said.

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Dear Tony

Dear Tony,

It’s time. Don’t humiliate yourself any further; gather the tattered remnants of what remains of your dignity and go. Whatever vestige of credibility you may have ever had is long gone. You’re a figure of fun, a delusional buffoon with an introspection-free self-regard that has been resistant to public derision, your serial failures or any wise counsel. You embarrass yourself, and far worse, you embarrass our country. Your time, the mid 1800s, has gone to never return and so should you.

Frightened by a girl you’ve surrendered your archaic signature doctrine of withdrawing from the Paris Agreement on climate change in a pathetically transparent dodge to rescue your unhinged ambition of a return to the big, green swivel chair. You’ve been shirt-fronted by Zali Steggall and you pissed your pants. Is it your narcissism that prevents you from considering a return to the limbo of your pre-infamy days as a nobody? Is that a scarier prospect than the ignominy of being taken down by a woman? Is that worse than the very real prospect of further humiliation – a Howard-scale rejection by a rusted-on Liberal Party base in your Tory heartland electorate?

Pause for a moment, Tones and reflect upon your résumé.

Your only achievements have been ones of destruction and wreckage. Free of imagination, ideas or insight you have sought to level the playing field by bringing down the accomplishments of others. Negativism is your forté, capriciousness is your modus operandi, slander and bullying are your tools of trade. Hamstrung by religious conceits and weighed down by insecurity you seek validation from your antiquated certainties  – the unquestionable authority of a medieval belief system and its dogma, the hereditary supremacy of born-to-rule elites, the worship of privilege, power and wealth. You’re lost in a world of ritualised voo-doo and dog-eat-dog Randesque ideology where we serfs know our place and democratic institutions are an inconvenience to be sabotaged or manipulated.

Jonathan Swift wrote in 1721: Reasoning will never make a man correct an ill opinion, which by reasoning he never acquired.

Reasoning is not one of your strong points, Tones. You’re a man of flexible principles but rigid opinions. You sought affirmation from a convicted child rapist yet dismissed the expertise of scientists. For you the mysticism of be-jewelled, robed necromancers swathed in incense and claiming to have the ear of an omnipotent yet vindictive deity always trumped proof, evidence and facts.

You were always widely loathed and so it remains. The evidence supports popular opinion: you are a leering, winking, creepy sexist, you are a self-confessed homophobe, a mendacious, cowardly bully, a crank and a weirdo with a propensity for licking the faces of babies and kissing the back of women’s heads.

Despite your image management – the macho man in red sluggos, the lycra-clad warrior, the hero with a hose, it is obvious to all except the gormless and callow that you are phoney, Tony. The staccato cackle, the clammy, tight-skinned visage of a carp wrapped in cling film, the sleazy smile, the ludicrous bow-legged affectation bringing to mind a rodeo cowboy leaving a port-a-loo; it’s all counter-productive Chuckle Head and subliminally reminds us of your ape-like swaggering approach to unsuspecting victims – the lunatic grin and manic chuckle, the far-too-close, double-handed deathgrip cutting off easy escape. We could read the minds of the hapless recipients of this faux chuminess, Tones, we could see it in their eyes – “Fuck, I want to turn away but if I do he may kiss the back of my head. But if I don’t he may go for the mouth.”

You’re King Midas in reverse, Tones – everything you touch turns to shit. For your own self-respect, it’s not too late, give it away.

Gratuitously yours

Grumpy Geezer

This article was originally published on The Grumpy Geezer.

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Labor’s unprecedented school building program: 204 schools to be built and upgraded

Media Release

A Daley Labor Government, if elected this month, will embark on an unprecedented $7.4 billion school building program.

Labor is committed to building and upgrading 204 schools right across NSW as part of the largest investment in public schools in NSW history.

NSW Labor Leader, Michael Daley, said it is part of Labor’s investment into our schools that will put our children’s future before Sydney stadiums.

“Labor can afford this record investment into our public schools because we will not proceed with the Liberals and Nationals’ $2.2 billion Sydney stadium splurge.

“Labor will make sure school infrastructure keeps up with the booming school-aged population,” Mr Daley said.

By 2036, it is estimated there will be one million students enrolled in NSW public schools, an increase of 200,000 students compared to today. Already, 636 NSW schools are at or above 100 per cent capacity.

It comes on top of Labor’s commitment to replace 1,000 ageing demountables and to ensure that every new school built has childcare or before-and-after school care facilities.

NSW Labor candidate for Manly, Natasha Phillips-Mason, said: “The Liberals and Nationals have broken their promise to build 12 new schools a year.”

“While our community has gotten bigger, local services like our schools have struggled to keep up.”

“The Liberals and Nationals haven’t put local kids first. Instead they’re splurging $2.2 billion of our taxpayer money on Sydney stadiums.”

Currently, there are 4,640 demountable classrooms in NSW schools and the Liberals and Nationals have recently purchased 520 more rather than investing in bricks and mortar classrooms.

Yesterday, Mr Daley announced Labor’s plan to hire an additional 5,065 teachers to keep up with demand and provide the best opportunities for our children.

Ms Phillips-Mason, said: “Labor has fought for and will deliver the public services like schools and hospitals our community needs.”

This further builds on Labor’s previous education commitments, including to:

  • Inject $2.7 billion to deliver 100 per cent of the standard level of funding for every student
  • Make TAFE free for courses in skill shortage areas
  • Ensure every child can learn a second language
  • Allocate $5,000 to P&Cs
  • Give free glasses to disadvantaged school kids
  • Air condition every school in NSW.

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We’re not mugs, Scomo!

By Ad astra  

Do you become as infuriated as I do at the sheer insolence of PM Morrison and his spokespersons when they feed us arrant nonsense about their policies, when they serve us up implausible readings of political events and the economy, when they treat us like mugs who will swallow anything they feed us?

Take the recent analysis of our shrinking economy. Economists put it this way: ”Australia’s economy slowed from 4% annualised growth at the start of 2018, to around 1% in the second half, and Australia’s economic output shrank 0.2% per person in the fourth quarter, after a 0.1% decline in the third.” In other words, we’re going backwards. It was only our population growth that saved us from being in a formal recession, defined as: ’Two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product (GDP)’

Australian Bureau of Statistics chief economist Bruce Hockman added“Growth in the economy was subdued, reflecting soft household spending and a decline in dwelling investment…approvals for dwelling construction indicate that the decline in dwelling investment will continue.”

Writing in ABC News business reporter Stephen Letts says this: “The domestic sector continues to struggle, with consumption up a weak 0.4 per cent over the quarter, while private sector investment and demand effectively contributed nothing to GDP growth, compared with the 0.4 percentage points they added over the previous four quarters.” 

ANZ’s Felicity Emmett said ”…the figures were disappointing, particularly the ongoing weakness in the household sector, where vehicle sales, household goods and utilities spending were the main drags.”

Whichever way commentators chose to spin it, it was a poor result, one that ought to have had the Morrison government, and especially its Treasurer, apprehensive, even apologetic. Being unfamiliar with the term ‘per capita recession’, voters needed our Treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, to explain it. So what did he do? He assured us that despite the rather frightening term ‘recession’, everything was fine: ”The fundamentals of the economy remain strong despite the impact of falling consumption spending (code for people have closed their purses) and the drought.”

We’re not mugs, Josh. Please don’t dish up that claptrap. We can see that the economy is sluggish and faltering despite all your and Morrison’s insistence that you are the experts at running our economy.

While we’re on the economy, Scomo, for years you’ve been telling us that the benefits of tax breaks for business will trickle down to the workers as better wages – just be patient. We always thought that was nonsense. You know it hasn’t happened – wages have been stagnant for years. Now your Finance Minister, the voluble Mathias Cormann, has spilled the beans by telling us that keeping wages down is ‘a deliberate feature of the government’s economic architecture’; in other words a premeditated plan for wage restraint. To make this revelation even more wacky, within hours your Minister for Defence Industry, Linda Reynolds, under intense questioning by David Spears on Sky News, flatly rejected Cormann’s proposition, then asserted that he was ‘absolutely right’, all in the one breath – quite a feat! Even your senior ministers can’t get their lines right. We’re not mugs, Scomo. They are.

It is not the purpose of this piece to argue the pros and cons of the state of our economy. Rather it is to highlight the contemptuous way this government has reported on a poor result, on the arrogant way it insisted: ‘Nothing to see here. Everything’s fine. We’ve got the economy under control’. Just leave it to us’, when Blind Freddie can see that this is baloney. You hope the tax cuts you’re tossing out as bait will hook the voters. They won’t, Scomo. They’re not mugs. They’re smarter than fish.

Let’s take another example. Recall our PM’s response to the mass exodus of ministers from his ranks. He insisted that this was quite normal, simply the natural process of attrition; certainly not an indication of rats deserting a sinking ship fearful of an electoral loss and a long time in opposition! He smirked as he told us how he takes all this in his stride. We’re not mugs, Scomo – we know that such an exodus would be a concern to any leader, even one as poor as you. So don’t try to convince us otherwise. Might it have been better for you to admit that the retirement of many ministers was worrisome, but that you had others ready for advancement that could fill the bill? No, that would be a sign of weakness, a chink in your ‘superman’ armour.

Let’s jump to Christmas Island, re-opened at an estimated cost of $1.4 billion, to accommodate those on Manus Island and Nauru who require medical assessment as judged through the Medivac arrangements. So far none have come. The Christmas Island Detention Centre is not equipped to handle surgical cases, nor can it cope with complex medical problems. These will have to be transported to the mainland.

Morrison visited the Island with a press gallery entourage at a calculated cost $2,000 per minute. He spoke for less than 30 minutes, but time enough for him to re-assert that Shorten’s changes to the Medivac legislation had exposed our nation to invasion by dastardly criminals, and that he was standing firmly to avoid this: “People smugglers see me as a brick wall; they see Shorten as an open door.” He expects us to swallow that.

We’re not mugs, Scomo. We all know what this Christmas Island saga is all about: a clumsy pre-election attempt to convince the electorate that we are in imminent danger from people smugglers, asylum seekers and an assortment of criminals arriving from Manus and Nauru, all because of Shorten and Labor. What’s more he tells us, he is there to protect us. You know that’s blatant spin, Scomo. So do we.

Then there’s climate change. We know what you’re up to, Scomo. You have claimed Australia will meet its targets ‘in a canter’, but multiple quarterly emissions reports have shown the country’s greenhouse gas emissions are tracking upwards, not downwards.

Do you really believe your own rhetoric? We don’t. We know it’s simply hot air. You hope the voters are gullible enough to swallow this – hook, line and sinker. But you may be stunned to realise that voters are not mugs, Scomo. They know what you’re up to. Even you should have woken up to the anger that is smouldering in the electorate over your government’s pitiful response to global warming. Yet you seem to think that a few platitudinous words will quieten their fury. No, Scomo, they’re not mugs.

If that’s not enough to convince everyone that our PM thinks he can open his mouth, say whatever he likes and the voters will excuse his words, no matter how careless, take his recent comments to the Chamber of Minerals and Energy International Women’s Day Breakfast in Perth: ”We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse”. This was widely interpreted as: ‘We want to see women rise but not if it leaves men worse off’. This enraged news outlets and social media worldwide, which interpreted him as saying that men should not have to make way for women’s empowerment. Caught out with his careless words, he was forced into an embarrassing retreat. If you’ve got the stomach, you can read about it here. Need I go on?

Our PM is an embarrassment to us all. He opens his mouth before engaging his brain, scatters inanities all around him, and then fancifully believes that his oratory, his grandiloquent gestures, and his supercilious smirk will fool the voters.

We’re not mugs, Scomo. If you go on treating us as mugs, we’ll repay you at the ballot box. Take a look at the polls following the chaos that’s putrefying the LNP from top to bottom. Don’t be surprised at what they’re telling you.

Baseball bats will be the least of your worries.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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