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John has a strong interest in politics, especially the workings of a progressive democracy, together with social justice and the common good. He holds a Diploma in Fine Arts and enjoys portraiture, composing music, and writing poetry and short stories. He is also a keen amateur actor. Before retirement John ran his own advertising marketing business.

Day to Day Politics: Both beyond redemption.

Sunday 26 March 2017

You have to wonder about the sanity of people like Pauline Hanson. Three weeks ago she advocated parents have their children take a non-existent test before vaccinating  them.

She followed that up hours after the London attack with a video with #PrayForLondon hashtag as a way to “solve the problem”.  When asked by a reporter which God to pray to she seemed flabbergasted.

Yes Jews, Muslims and Christians believe in the same God. I was waiting for her to ask, “Please explain?”

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are sometimes called Abrahamic religions because they all accept the tradition that God revealed himself to the patriarch Abraham.

She wasn’t finished yet. “Islam is a disease; we need to vaccinate ourselves against that.”

Now before I go on let me explain my attitude to traditional religion. I long ago came to the conclusion that one of the truly bad effects religion (any religion) has on people is that it teaches that it is a virtue to be satisfied with not understanding.

Now I think I’m right in saying that Hanson believes that Islam is not a religion but a political movement. Now she thinks it’s a disease. An infection, a virus or a condition of abnormal function. Trying to explain that would ensure that a headache will follow so I will give it a miss and concentrate on the racism aspect.

People like Trump and Hanson thrive on attention. They crave it with malevolent fallaciousness.

“Islam is a disease; we need to vaccinate ourselves against that.”

That’s about as racist as you can get I suppose but what is it that converts one into a racist? I don’t believe we are born racist. I think perhaps the reason I have difficulty understanding racism is that I have grown up and experienced multiculturalism since I was a boy.

Today the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation.

I firmly believe that people of my generation and later should divest themselves of their old and inferred racist superiority.

The Prime Minister said he had told her that:

“If you seek to attribute to all Australian Muslims responsibility for the crimes of Isil then  you are doing what Isil wants.”

Anthony Albanese in the Guardian:

“I think it was extraordinary that Pauline Hanson chose to politicise an issue like this at the time that she did,” he told the Nine Network. To play politics at a time like that, was, I just think, said a lot about the nature of her character.”

Christopher Pyne said:

“We’re not about to deport Australian citizens who are Muslims because of any kind of xenophobic campaign.”

Bill Shorten chipped in with “If Malcolm Turnbull thinks One Nation is helping Isis, he should stop helping One Nation get elected” he said. “Why is he still refusing to put One Nation last? He can make all the platitudes he likes, but it’s his policy to help One Nation get elected.”

But that won’t stop the likes of Hanson who have hate in their hearts and express it through tempestuous lips. The peddlers of prejudice and fear are not interested in love, truth, tolerance, understanding and internationalism. They are scared and lack any understanding of difference. Hate is in their hearts.

Allow me to digress and include some personal experience and one Andrew Bolt.

So it was last year when I was watching one of my grandsons playing basketball. One of the boys in the team is from Somalia. A number of families with African heritage have moved to our area. I observed the mateship of their winning endeavours and the generous enthusiasm of their play between matches. The fun, friendship and frivolity of their connectedness was a delight to watch. The dark lad is of prodigious talent with a generous smile, a face as black as night and gregarious nature.

I have also observed the total unabashed acceptance by children of different races at school, and at the local swimming pool where mature judgement is made by children unhindered by the prejudicial ignorance of adults.

My thoughts drifted to my own youth and I wondered just what it is that causes people to be racist. I recalled as a small boy being told what side of the street to walk to school because Jews lived on the other side. I lived through the post war era of immigration when Australians belittled and sneered at Italians and Greeks. Then later with bi-partisan agreement we accepted the Vietnamese who came by boat. But not before debasing them with the worst part of our own uniquely Australian prejudice.

Memories came back to me of a pub I used to drink at on my way home from work. The beer garden attracted a cohort of Aussie builders who sub contracted concreting work to a group of Italians. I would observe how the Aussie fellows would run them down with the foulest of language and then drink with them, without a hint of condemnation when they arrived.

There was a time when a relation who was traveling by caravan around Australia rang me from some remote area highly populated by indigenous people. After the usual greeting the following words were advanced.

“I’m not a racist but . . . “. When you hear someone say those words they generally are. What followed was a tirade of critical commentary about every aspect of Aboriginal culture and living standards. I have no doubt that much of what she was saying was true however, there was no situation that wasn’t replicated in white city society. Her comments were therefore racist. The singling out of any group for reason of drawing attention to colour is abhorrent to me.

More recently I have experienced racism where I live. I have two neighbours (one now deceased) who when talking about indigenous folk have described Aboriginals as taking up to much space.

At a junior football final a couple of years ago a teenage boy was standing behind me verbalising a young aboriginal player of immense talent. The insults insinuated themselves into the minds around me. The aboriginal boy had heard the remarks and was a bit distressed about it. I turned and said to the boy of uncouth mouth:

“So yours is what a racists face looks like.”

The teenager slunk away probably not used to having his racism confronted. In the unnatural silence that had invaded the group where I was standing I received a couple of congratulatory slaps on the shoulder.

You see, I hate all forms of racism in a way that even someone like me, with a love of the moulding of words as disciples for good, cannot do. It was a little brave of me to do what I did because I am getting on in years. But we must confront it.

In watching the antics of children of different races in their play we can bear witness to the sin of the abusers of decency. By the influence of those who cannot concede that we were all black once. And those who believe that superiority is determined by a chemical compound.

Children celebrate difference and prove to us that racism is not a part of the human condition. It is taught, or acquired. You have to learn it and those who tutor it and preach it are to be pitied for their ignorance and imbecility. No one is born a racist but we are born into racist societies.

What is racism?

It is best described in two parts. Firstly it is the belief that one race is superior to another. That it accounts for differences in human character and ability. Secondly racism is, discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Scott Woods puts it another way:

The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.

Racism is preserved in many and various ways. Even Christian art propagates the myth of Jesus being white when in fact he would have been dark-skinned and of Middle Eastern appearance. But art depicts him as white with European features and more often than not as effeminate. Christians also cannot bring themselves to the point of accepting that dark-skinned people were responsible for the introduction of religion into society. No white person has ever introduced a major religion. Some Christians even quote Bible verse to justify white superiority.

Even the law disproportionalyl targets coloured (I hate that term) people resulting in levels of incarceration much higher than other groups.

The worst perpetrators of racism are those who do it through the guise of free speech. People like Andrew Bolt. A journalist of mediocre talent who writes in a grammatical style attractive to the intellect of 13 year olds, unable to challenge the mind (or his argument) with a word, or sentence.

He wants 18c changed so that he would be freer through his column to abuse and defame. When the legislation was turfed because of its unpopularity, the first time, Tony Abbott felt obliged to phone this journalist of such little virtue and apologise.

People who support Bolt, Hanson and others for their racism need to ask just why it is that they are fixated on the subject of race and Muslims and the answer is simple. Murdoch has built his news empire on smut and controversy. The formula has made him extremely wealthy. And there is no doubt that Bolt is paid extraordinary amounts of money to proliferate the pages of the Herald Sun with this sort of gutter journalism.

Let us not forget what Justice Bromberg, said about Bolt’s use of language. He said:

His style and structure is highly suggestive and designed to excite. His style was ”not careful, precise or exact” and the language not moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic”. There is a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery,” he wrote. Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is language, which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines.

We should also remember that during the London riots, of the not too distant past Bolt in one of his pieces used the word ‘aped’ to describe the copycat behaviour of some people. The use of the word was legitimate in that sense until you appreciate that he was talking about black West Indians, and then the word became racist. Bolt keeps coming back to skin, or the colour of it as if it were a sexual fetish that gives him endless gratification.

And it must be said that Andrew is presumed a racist and has been found to on many occasions lie in his writing, particularly on the environment. In addition he has been known to defame a female magistrate.

He wants the law changed so that in the future under the guise of free speech he will be able to vilify at his heart’s content.

Take two recent examples from his TV program, ‘The Bolt Report’.

Bolt is an opponent of an attempt, which has bi-partisan support, to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution, contending that to single out any particular group is racist because it divides Australians? Former Labor minister Craig Emerson thus declared him a racist by his own criteria.

“Then you are a racist,” Emerson said, “because of the comments you made in relation to Indigenous people. By your own criterion, and that’s what you did. You identified a group of people and went for them.”

He was correct. Emerson’s remark relates to the legal case in which Bolt was found to have breached racial discrimination laws in articles that implied light-skinned Indigenous people identified themselves as Aboriginal for personal gain. He was guilty by his own admission.

Another more recent example is when he quiet bizarrely declared that ‘’aboriginals weren’t here first’’. As I said earlier he has this thing about race that sends him into some kind of mental climax that needs constant stimulation. If you want to figure out the argument he was putting go here and then explain it to me. I cannot.

I will end where I started with my observation of that gregarious dark-skinned boy playing joyfully in fellowship with his light-skinned mates, and the fact each was different in colour, one to the other didn’t enter the unblemished purity of their companionship. And I silently prayed that it never would.

Pauline Hanson’s remarks as contemptible as they were do nothing more than disclose the racist she is. Any words said in anger by me won’t change what she is. People like her and Bolt usually hang themselves with their own.

Wonder When the Seed Is Planted

I look upon the child’s face and see Innocence – unblemished purity Translated in looks virtuous How sweet how incorruptible

Then it happens with measured subtly The distortion of youthful thought Insinuated into free And immature minds

I wonder when the seed is planted When evil first takes hold And intolerance evolves To become scum on the pond of life

Who grants permission to damage the child? Of its pristine purity The wonderment of adventure And unfiltered creativity

Is it the sin of the father? That makes a child loathe That makes them xenophobic Racist just like him

When does it take root this hatred? That enters the child’s mind To be carried with them always Fermenting as they grow

Are parents so imbued? With experiences of the past That forgiveness is impossible Bad memories seem to last

So they pass it onto their children And intolerance lingers on Licking on the finger of hate It seems to have no end

I can only ask that compassion Might replace their putrid sin And the cry that is inside each heart Will – let understanding in. (John Lord).

My thought for the day.

“Why is it that religion assumes it has some bizarre ownership on people’s morality. To assume that an atheist is any less moral than someone religious is an absurdity.”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Cunning bastards.

Saturday 25 March 2017

Why would the leader of a political party that is well down in the polls, with his own inadequate leadership under question and its mainstream policies seemingly hibernating for the upcoming winter, allow itself to get bogged down in arguments it cannot win. 18c and marriage equality are the two in question. Overwhelmingly the public supports the introduction of Gay Marriage and overwhelmingly they cannot see a reason to change 18c except for procedural matters. “No brainers” we call them.

It seems they have appointed Dutton (I have no understanding of why they wouldn’t use ‘The Fixer), the man who thought that $50 million was a good deal for settling two asylum seekers in Sri Lanka, to find another option for getting the legislation over the line.

An observation.

”Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”

Just why they think Dutton, once described as the worst Health Minister ever, and heartless Immigration Minister, might be capable of a solution outside of their existing policy of having a plebiscite to find out something we already know, is beyond me. And at a cost of around $160 million. Poll after poll shows two-thirds of the population supports marriage equality.

I have a solution for them, seriously, and I won’t charge a cent. Simply do what you were elected to do. Present the bill, vote on it, bury your pride, cop some flak for a few days and it’s all over. Better than giving the opposition a baseball bat to belt you with for the next two years.

Of course this would require the PM chancing his arm that one of the extreme right-wing religious screwballs in the party won’t take revenge later.

To say that some in the Coalition have an ideological obsession with 18c would be an understatement. Barnaby Joyce in a lengthy interview with Fairfax said there were only four in the party room who wanted changes made.

“This is an issue, it is an issue but I’ll be frank, it lives in the extremities of the bell curve. Where do you meet those people [who care about 18C]? At party meetings, they are absolutely blessed people and they are terribly politically involved and they have an intense interest in some of the minutiae of debate. They come into your office to rant and rave about it, all four of them.”

One’s first thought would be that they were completely outnumbered so why did it get approval. There must have been threats from one or all of the four to cross the floor.

The bill would remove “insult”, “offend” and “humiliate” from the prohibition on discriminatory speech and add ”harass”. Now even blind Freddy could see that it would weaken the law.

So these bigots may have cost the Coalition six seats at the next election just to satisfy its ideological obsession with an issue that has little relevance to the lives of most Australians. Of course the bill won’t pass the Senate but the damage has already been done.

If you were to read between the lines of the speech given by Arthur Sinodinos at the National Press Club he was saying in no uncertain terms that sticking to long-held ideological beliefs that are certain to change anyway might satisfy ones purity of conservative values but it might also cost you government. All to no avail.

There is in the community now that with 18c, the Republic, Marriage Equality and the Environment/Energy a belief that Turnbull has meekly surrendered to the right of his party. His conversion is complete. Through his effortless hypocrisy he is now owned lock stock and barrel by the zealots within the party.

Whilst I once held some hope that he might have the guts to break free from their vice-like grip I now concede that he is now entrenched in the far right. They have humiliated him and is now one of them.

Whilst the government has had a victory of sorts with the Childcare legislation is still has no narrative for what it has done, what it is doing and what it wants to do other than to keep Labor out of power.

It remains a divided rabble with a leader ready to backflip on major issues. A softening up of tax policy has begun and you can bet it will be axed in favour of buying some votes. They are being supported by The Australian and other Murdoch outlets. Take this grandiose nonsense for example from Paul Kelly.

”The Coalition parties have nailed their principles to the wall. They fight for them or they die.”

Principles? Please spare me.

Labor has them by the proverbials over the $50 billion tax cuts and the Fair work decision over Penalty Rates. We might even end up with personal tax cuts.

An observation.

”Politicians who change their minds aren’t necessarily seeing the light. They might just be feeling the heat.”

There are those on the extreme right doing their very best to blame immigration for all manner of things. The cost of housing and supply. Even traffic jams. Like minded and  susceptible folk uninterested in the facts believe this rubbish.

Blaming and demonising minorities has been part and parcel of right-wing tactics for many years now and those believing they are not getting a fair go are the most susceptible.

In their desperation the Coalition put the blowtorch to Bill Shorten digging up all manner of dirt we have heard before. .

In the final Newspoll before last July’s election he recorded a net negative satisfaction rating of minus 15, but it did not stop him giving Malcolm Turnbull the fright of his life at the polls.

He has always been unpopular with the electorate and since the election nothing much has changed. And he did outperform Turnbull during the campaign. And remember during it the Prime Minister used the findings of the Royal Commission into Trade Union Governance and Corruption to characterise shorten in the worst possible light. It didn’t work.

Jim Middleton put it this way in Thursday’s edition of The Monthly Today:

“The question remains whether voters are more concerned about Shorten’s past or their own future.”

2 Malcolm Turnbull’s Small Business Minister has charged taxpayers nearly $50,000 to stay in his wife’s Canberra apartment but has defended the spending by comparing his travel allowance to penalty rates.

Michael McCormack is the Small Business Minister in the Turnbull Government and is one of about 50 federal politicians who use their $273-a-night Canberra travel allowance to pay off a second home.

He defended the spending by comparing his travel allowance to penalty rates:

“I get a travel allowance, others get penalty rates – it’s part of the package.” As a minister he receives $313,500 PA.

What happened with that enquiry?

3 Which President said this?:

“I guess, I can’t be doing so badly, because I’m president, and you’re not.”

Like father like son. Which President’s son tweeted this?:

”You have to be kidding me?!: Terror attacks are part of living in big city, says London Mayor Sadiq Khan.”

However, he neglected to mention that Mr Khan was noting that residents need to ”be prepared” for such attacks.

Yes, like father like son.

My thought for the day.

”We all toy with the idea of changing the world but never consider changing ourselves.”

Day to Day Politic: What should progressives do?

Friday 24 March 2017

Author’s note. Today I give up my daily article to a long-time friend Max Odgen. We played football together and share a love for cool Jazz. We have kept in touch over some 50 years. Max is well-known on the left of Australian politics, particularly in the Union movement as an activist. Now retired he is an active member of the Collingwood/Fitzroy branch of the ALP.

I recommend this article to you.

TOWARD A GLOBAL COALITION OF PROGRESSIVES – 

DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS, FAIRNESS, JOBS, AND CLIMATE CHANGE ACTION

It is becoming urgent for the broadest forces of Progressives globally, to come together and reach agreement on a minimalist, but principled set of strategies to roll back the massive advance of the global Right. However it must be based on an objective analysis of the real world, and not some imagined, optimistic fantasy.

More & more experts are referring to the twenties and thirties for similarities and lessons, and there are many. The latest report of International Human Rights Watch – Jan., ’17, warns that the growth of populist movements and leaders, could lead to a resurgence of Fascism and Nazism.  No two eras are the same, but there are important lessons to be learned. Perhaps the most important, is how progressives in the twenties and thirties, were more concerned with fighting each other, which made it easier for the Right to come to power. This must not be allowed to happen again.

CURRENT STATE OF GLOBAL RIGHT ASCENDENCY 

Brexit, and possible breakup of the EU.

At this stage there is little chance of the British Labour Party winning the next election, especially under Corbyn, when 80% of his caucus refuse to serve under him.

Trump, with Republicans in control of both houses, 35 states, and he can appoint Supreme Court judges, which will reverberate for a generation.

Hard Right governments in Poland and Hungary. In Austria, while losing, the hard Right garnered 46% of the presidential vote. A serious concern.

Italian politics in chaos, with a right-wing, populist victory very real at their next election.

While Le Pen is unlikely to win the presidency in France, she could win the first round and accumulate a lot more influence, with the Socialists in their worst state for generations, and struggling to find a candidate.

A criminal state in Russia aligning itself with Trump, and a possible increase in nuclear weapons.

China, under the current leadership, tightening its grip and undermining whatever civil liberties there are, expanding militarily in the Sth. China Sea, while its global influence grows, especially in second and third world countries.

A self-confessed murderer, President of the Philippines, trampling on the few democratic rights they have.

Japan continuing to elect conservative governments, with Abe further to the Right than most.

Israel has moved so far to the right, that it is hard to see Palestinians ever being liberated, certainly not in the foreseeable future.

Fundamentalists making gains in Indonesia, undermining democratic developments.

Turkey under Erdogan moving rapidly to the Right and embracing Islam, attacking progressive movements, and gaoling thousands of activists and leaders.

The global wealth gap increased significantly in ’16, with the wealthiest increasing by 10s of billions, a lot of it immediately after the Trump victory.

The UN under the greatest attack since its creation.

‘17 is likely to see setbacks for climate change action.

It is clear from this brief summary, that there is little good news for global Progressives, as we are losing ground almost everywhere. There are those who are buoyed by the Bernie Sanders campaign because it mobilised millions of young people. However the result suggests a lot of them were so pure they could not vote for Hillary, and now look what they have got. Despite that good campaign, it was still insufficient to win. Some think Sanders might have won.

However given the incredible attacks thrown at Hillary, it is likely that Bernie would have copped far worse, as he threatened privilege more than Hillary, and that is the central issue. History suggests that it is difficult to maintain that kind of momentum. A colleague of mine says, it is mobilisation not organisation, and that is what it must transition to, across the globe.

2016 ELECTION

In Australia the ALP did well in the ’16 election, and it ran on possibly the best set of policies for decades. A friend said that the ’15 National Conference provided the best set of policies since he joined the party in ’62.

The election saw the growth of small, but vocal and influential right-wing groups, pursuing very dangerous racist and nationalist policies, taking their lead from Trump and Brexit. Increasingly they are being backed by the Right in the Coalition Government, which may even split away, although given their influence, this would be a silly move.

For virtually everyone, Turnbull has proved to be a woefully weak PM as he bows to the Right on almost every issue.  The most recent poll from Get Up, shows the ALP ahead on the two party preferred vote 54% – 46%. While this is heartening, the Labor Party primary vote is the same as the Liberals – 32%, which is not marvellous, but it strengthens the need for a broad progressive alliance. The ALP leadership is not cutting through. Shorten and his Shadow Ministers performed reasonably well during the election campaign, and they ran on those good policies.

Given the poor government performance and various scandals, the ALP should be polling much better. This isn’t helped by the recent endorsement of a controversial candidate to say the least, for a Senate vacancy, and police charges for breach of polling regulations against several members of the ALP Right. Both these incidents will blow back on the labour movement.

Given the growth of the Right and the general trend of politics in this country, despite that recent polling, winning the next federal election will not be easy. The Andrews Victorian state government, despite its excellent record, particularly the enormous investment in infrastructure, and other worthwhile projects, will probably struggle to get re-elected, given its very narrow majority. Hanson is planning to stand in almost every seat, and despite Victoria being their weakest link, it may be sufficient to attract some ALP and even some Green votes. They will preference the Coalition, so it is going to be a difficult task. Hanson support will also make it difficult for the Queensland, minority ALP government to survive.

POLICIES, LIES, AND FAKE NEWS

Progressives usually believe they have a chance of winning, provided our campaigns are based on good policies, and the last federal election showed the possibilities. However, other recent experience suggests that this may no longer be true.  Recent campaigning in Australia, UK, and the US, showed that outrageous lies, fake news, anti-truth, rejection of scientifically proven facts in many fields of science, with insidious use of social media, have prevailed over good policies and researched facts.

It is not widely understood that Hillary Clinton ran on the best set of progressive, Democrat policies since Roosevelt, according to an ex state Democratic Governor in an interview on Lateline. Yet virtually no one knew because of the dominance of lies and fake news.

We are in a new era where science is trashed, there is little regard for researched facts, which runs counter to the Enlightenment. We thought social media would enhance democracy, but so far, its manipulation by the Right has been successful in turning it into its opposite.

The Right have been clever in using simple phrases, but practicing the opposite. Everything is about more democracy, the elites – using the term exactly opposite to the reality, protecting our lifestyle, our shores, our culture, giving everybody a say over their lives, making our society great again, creating fear of anyone and anything different, and for many it works. This, despite the reality will be very different, and the wealth gap will continue to grow. They have been particularly effective in turning “political correctness” into a weapon against Progressives.

Progressives are disadvantaged, as their policies and solutions are necessarily more complex than just a slogan or one word, but we have to find a way around this. The simple focus on Medicare in the last few weeks of the ’16 Election campaign, was effective, but also real, as Coalition governments have been wanting to smash it for decades. We need to consider how more complex policies can be reduced to a few words which link them to reality.

Like in many other countries, Australia is experiencing attacks on democratic rights under the guise of fighting terrorism, climate change attacked and relegated to a minor issue, cuts and attacks on Medicare, and education, which is now the most privatised education system in the developed world, the gap in wealth ownership continues a pace, increasing joblessness and development of the casualised gig economy, vicious, and unprecedented attacks on the Human Rights Commission, and the ABC, and a trashing of scientific endeavours and their results.

To demonstrate the insidious impact of the Right, the Age newspaper recently exposed how right-wing fundamentalist Christian organisations have spent several years in successfully dominating the Casey council in Melbourne’s fastest growing Sth. East region. They are impacting many developments including public schools, and other public organisations. This is a new element, and frightening in its ramifications.

We cannot counter these attacks in the traditional way, of simply arguing for the return of an ALP Government. We must build a powerful movement of all progressive forces united around a minimalist, but principled set of key, strategic issues.

KEY STRATEGIC ISSUES

For the greatest unity I would suggest the following six issues as providing the greatest potential for unity.

Democratic Rights

Climate Change Action

Fairness, Tax and Closing the Wealth Gap

Jobs

Health

Education

These six are not suggesting that other issues are not important e.g. gay marriage, the Republic, etc., but they provide the best chance for the widest possible unity, and anyway success with them, will positively impact all the others.

I suggest that we begin a wide discussion immediately about a broad progressive coalition, with the objective that by the end of ’17 a national congress of all those progressives wanting to play a role can take place, and agree on the program, and how we go about decisively defeating the Turnbull government, and the Right in our country.

The Progressive Coalition should reach beyond the Centre to include small “l” Liberals, and Nationals, farmers, progressive business both small and large, unions, welfare lobby, environmentalists, leading individuals in their fields across the board, people in the man y artistic streams, academics, workers in as many workplaces as possible.

DIALOGUE AMONG FRIENDS AND ENEMIES

This means welding minimal unity among groups who don’t usually dialogue with one another, or even see each other as enemies. The stakes are such that we simply do not have the luxury of fighting among progressives.  There are, and will remain, significant differences among progressives, but for the sake of our country and society, there are larger targets than each other.

I am well-known for being a strong critic of the Greens, but that does not preclude a constructive dialogue for the greater good. I am also critical of ALP factions and lack of democracy, and a member of Open Labor, an organisation dedicated to democratising the ALP.

Late in ’16 three of us members of the Collingwood/Fitzroy branch of the ALP, had dinner, and a very robust discussion with three prominent local Greens. We went hammer and tongs, but at the end everyone agreed that we must do this again, which will happen in February. I learned as a union activist and official, that despite disliking most employers and managers, often with very good reason, although not all, we had to engage them on an almost daily basis to resolve problems, and also dialogue about industry wide and nationwide issues relevant to the job.  So if we can dialogue with such people, surely it is possible to dialogue with people with whom we have more in common.

If the Greens take part in the suggested dialogue, they will be critical, and eventual unity to defeat Turnbull, they and others will need to modify their attacks on the ALP. This is not to suggest that they not have criticisms of the ALP, but to do this in a way which contributes to constructive dialogue. It also does not suggest that they don’t stand candidates in ALP seats, but whatever they do it must be in the spirit of defeating Turnbull.

ALP FACTIONS MUST DIALOGUE

The recent Get Up poll strongly suggests that the ALP cannot win on it’s own, but must work constructively with all other forces with an interest in defeating Turnbull. This means that if we are to succeed it is urgent that ALP factions come together and reach agreement on the key issues, and agree to meet, dialogue with, and develop unity and campaign with other organisations and individuals with the overriding objective of defeating Turnbull, which may mean having to include others in a government.

PUT LIBERALS LAST

Eventually at the election itself, it will be critical that all progressive forces agree to “Put Liberals Last”, meaning no deals preferencing the Liberals. Each group may have a different list, and there will be significant arguments, but by agreeing to the key strategic issues, building massive campaigns, and then putting the Liberals last, we will have a very strong chance of defeating the Coalition government in’19, if not before.

While this paper began on a pessimistic but realistic note, there is cause for hope. There are thousands of young, energetic activists in Progressive movements. The unions and the ALP have very impressive numbers of such people, as do the Greens, Get Up, the environment movement, women’s rights, against racism, among indigenous organisations, opposing current asylum policies, and among art and music practitioners.

If they can be united, mobilised, and organised with the supreme objective of defeating Turnbull, then not only will we be successful, but lay the basis for an ongoing democratic movement, which will continue action to influence a government, which in the circumstance of how it will come to power, we can rightly call ours.

Max Ogden.

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump Report No. 11 – “Just kids’ stuff”

Thursday 23 March  2017

She sat there edging forward with a tense look of bemusement on her face. It might have said, “why is this child acting this way?” He sat beside her looking like a spoiled kid with pouted lower lip giving the impression of a sulking child who had just been given a spanking by a displeased mother. She offered her hand but the most powerful man in the world sat, hands clasped together, paralysed within his own opinion of himself.

It was yet another display of snotty-nosed, juvenile insipid impertinence from a man completely out of his depth as President of the United States. Leaders making formal visitations to the White House leave wondering how this once great nation got around to electing a man with a childlike attitude to things of great importance.

It is now two weeks since his now infamous tweets about Obama bugging Trump Towers. As absurd as they were he, within the confides of his childish deliberations, believes them to be true. Children are susceptible to many influences and Trump has surrounded himself with many middle aged white Christian men. People who place faith and mysticism ahead of factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry that are the best way of providing solutions to human problems. But then men have never really grow up.

It is therefore unsurprising that he would adopt the thinking of these people unequivocally. Any of them only have to whisper in his ear and it becomes his truth and he takes ownership of it. A president prone to conspiracy theories. He is a stubborn if not backward pupil.If there is no truth in it, it doesn’t matter. Truth became obsolete during the campaign. He now owns it and shapes it in his own image.

But who knows, somewhere along the way he might have a Road to Damascus coming of age experience.

After Merkel left Donald had his thumb working overtime. Germany owed us “vast sums of money”. Once again he was wrong and the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called the criticism “inaccurate”. So did former U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder. “Trump’s comments misrepresent the way NATO functions,” he said.

His lack of experience and preparation for the job shows up in almost everything he does. As in the case with his wiretapping tweets. Now that the FBI Director James B. Comey has categorically said there is no evidence of any taps and Britain saying the same on their part you would think he would lay low. The idea that the British Foreign Secretary might sign a warrant authorising an intrusion into US politics was laughable as are Sean Spicer’s surreal daily attempts at word twisting.

One can only conclude that Trump is susceptible to fake news and is one who believes whatever he is told without applying even the most modest test of truth.

He cannot escape the fact that the FBI director has publically humiliated the President of the United States. His tweets have been found to be lies.The President is a Liar.

On top of this England’s Foreign Minister Boris Johnson, is heading to Washington this week undoubtedly to tell the lads to grow up.

The character of the man, or lack thereof, insinuates itself on the American people every day and will continue to do so. In the short time he has been in power he has a litany of instances of having to be corrected over untrue statements.

“There’s a smell of treason in the air,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley said. “Imagine if J. Edgar Hoover or any other FBI director would have testified against a sitting president? It would have been a mind-boggling event.”

So on and on it goes day after day just as I predicted it would. But there are signs that even his own side are sick of it. Let’s hope so. This puberty thing seems to be taking for ever.

From my American friend Ben Williamson:

”Republicans have agreed to investigate the ridiculous claim that Obama tapped Trump’s phones. Like Benghazi, we’ll spend millions on investigations without a shred of evidence, when if it were true, all Trump has to do is declassify the supposed warrant. All it takes is a stroke of the pen for him, and the fact he won’t do that pretty much proves he’s lying.”

”Much of what Trump does seems erratic at the time, but turns into extremely lucrative business deals for Trump, all on the taxpayer dime. It seemed crazy that Melania refused to move to the White House, but the Secret Service had to rent an entire floor at Trump Tower, the DoD a penthouse, and that money goes right into Trump’s pocket. He seems like just a lazy slacker for taking off to Palm Springs every weekend, but he’s making bank there too from all the extra attention …involved in a presidential vacation. When I say “bank” I mean “our money” of course. He thought he’d fool us into thinking he was divested from his holdings by making his sons trustees, but now taxpayers foot the bill for the Trump sons to travel the world and make deals that further enrich Donald Trump himself.”

”He was so proud of claiming he wouldn’t take a salary as president, but I’d be willing to bet he makes more personal profit in a week off the taxpayer’s back than that piddly $400k annual salary.”

My thought for the day.

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that that enables human progress.”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: A tale of two polls.

Wednesday 22  March 2017

“Coalition support rises by three points in Newspoll but Labor holds lead” read the headline in Monday’s The Australian.

1 Yes, the Coalition was on 48% of the two-party-preferred vote with Labor’s on 52%. “This cannot be right,” I thought to myself. Did around 3 million people change their minds in the course of three weeks? Of course they didn’t.

The Newspoll in February recorded the same 10-point gap as Tuesday’s Guardian Essential poll.

How can that be? I have put it down to a rogue poll and I expect the Newspoll will come back next time around.

As the Monthly said.

“Newspoll’s margin of error, which is approximately 2–3%, so any upward trend for the government would at the very least need to be confirmed by another poll.”

Newspoll put it down to the Prime Ministers Snowy Hydro Carbon scheme but surely it couldn’t all be attributed to that alone.

Essential put it down to the fact that there has been a significant rise in voter perceptions that the Liberals federally are divided. It also cited the government plans to bring heavily contested changes to the Racial Discrimination Act. And another factor ist that many see the government as being ”too close to big corporate and financial interests” and is out of touch with ordinary people.

2 I have written about free speech, hate, racial discrimination and the state of our democracy on many occasions and these questions will not leave me.

If we live in the age of enlightenment. Why is it, in the name of free speech that we need to enshrine, the right to abuse each other, in law?

Or conversely what is it they want to say that they can’t say now?”

Four times the PM was asked this question at Question Time on Tuesday and he refused to answer. It would seem that once again he has caved into the extreme right to hold onto his job. It’s probably safe to say that Turnbull is now rid of anything that allowed him to describe himself as a moderate.

So the conservative right faction has won again. The liberal moderates are but a shadow of their former selves. The small L Liberals wanted the procedures of the act changed but the nutters of the right wanted to if  see the words ”offend” and ”insult” removed from section 18C of the RDA, to be replaced by the term ”harass.” A massive watering down of the act. Bolt will be happy.

How one can argue that replacing words like offend and insult with the single one of harass makes the act stronger is beyond me.

An observation.

“We will never truly understand the effect  Free Speech has on an individual until we have suffered from the abuse of it”

To quote Bill Shorten:

“If Mr Turnbull walks out of his party room tomorrow with a policy that weakens the Racial Discrimination Act, everyone will know he has sold the last shred of his integrity to hang on to his own job.”

Shorten is correct.

As for me, well I have been writing everyday now for a number of years and I have never felt constrained in what I can say.

The internal wrangling has been going on for months now. Many Coalition members with marginal seats in the inner cities have been critical of such a move saying it would put their seats at risk. It is impossible to say but my gut feeling is that this decision will come back to haunt them.

And in taking the cowards way out the bill will go straight to the upper house where it will be defeated thus avoiding a debate in the Lower House .At least we now know where they stand.

And to do it on National Harmony Day of all days.

Religious and ethnic communities opposed to any watering down of the current provisions are sure to make their voices heard.

My thought for the day.

“An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.”

Day to Day Politics: What’s happening in the bear pit?

Tuesday 21 March 2017

Author’s note: I have updated and re-posted this because it is of great public importance.

Has Question Time in the Australian Parliament improved? Well just slightly since Tony Smith took over from Bronwyn Bishop. Bishop was an insult to the intelligence of reasoned people. Although it is only watched by those with a professional interest and political tragics like me, it is nonetheless the prism through which the Australian public form a perception of their politicians.

Now and then news services showcase Question Time and voters are left wondering if it’s for real or just a group of bad actors auditioning for play school.

It is devoid of wit, humour, words of intelligence and those with the eloquence and debating skills to give them meaning. Mostly it embraces a maleness that believes in conflict as a means of political supremacy over and above the pursuit of excellence in argument.

Question Time under Speaker Bronwyn Bishop degenerated into a bear pit of mouths that roared with hatred. The Speaker gave the appearance of disliking men with a bitchy witchlike headmistress’s loathing more suited to an evil character in a Disney movie than a democratic parliament.

Her demeanor was obnoxious, threatening and deliberately intimidating. She was consciously biased to the point of dismissing legitimate points of order out of hand. And in a mocking manner that lacked any dignity and grace. In doing so she gave the impression of a women obsessed with herself and her party rather than acting in the impartial manner the position demands. All with an authoritarian sharp-edged sarcastic manner calculated to make her subjects cringe. Her condescendingly belligerent manner lacked the civility required for reasoned discourse.

Unlike Speakers before her she attended her party’s parliamentary meetings to listen and be advised of tactics in order to respond accordingly. Anything to humiliate the opposition. There can be no other reason for doing so. In addition she regularly used her offices for party fund-raising functions. Something previous speakers would never consider.

She threw out the ”standing orders” and invoked her own set of rules. Particularly when it came to relevance, sometimes ignoring points of order or dismissing them out of hand. She even allowed Ministers to continue talking when points of order had been raised pretending to not to notice members at the dispatch box. Answers were allowed that were so far removed from the question asked that one could be excused for thinking one had a hearing difficulty. All in all Bishop so corrupted question time that it became so totally dysfunctional that it either needed to be terminated or reconstructed.

A new Speaker has returned some decorum to the chamber but it really serves little purpose. In so far as relevance is concerned it has not improved under Smith.

While a lot of the contestation is part of the drama of the Parliament; no one would wish Question Time to be reduced to polite discussion without challenge. Never the less, Question Time all too regularly descends into an unedifying shouting match between the Government and Opposition, damaging the public image of the Parliament and of politicians in general.

According to the Parliamentary Education Office the purpose of Question Time is to allow the opposition to ask the executive government questions and to critically examine its work. Ministers are called upon to be accountable and explain their decisions and actions in their portfolios. Question Time also provides ministers with an opportunity to present their ideas, their leadership abilities and their political skills.

During Question Time, the opposition also has a chance to present themselves as the alternative government

Question Time occurs at 2pm every day when Parliament is sitting and usually lasts for about one hour. By custom, the Prime Minister decides how long Question Time will last and indeed if it will be held at all.

Ministers do not know the content of questions posed by the opposition during Question Time. These are likely to be tough, designed to test ministers’ capacity to answer quickly and confidently.

During Question Time, government backbenchers also pose questions to ministers, in order to highlight government policies and achievements. These are prepared prior to Question Time and are known as ‘Dorothy Dixers’ after a magazine columnist who used to write her own questions and answers.

Question Time has evolved in the Australian Parliament over a long period of time. The first Parliament made provision for questions on notice to be asked and the answers were read to the chamber by the relevant minister. Over time, questions without notice were also put to ministers, particularly in regard to important or urgent matters. The focus in Question Time today is on making the government accountable for its actions and dealing with the political issues of the day.

Well in short that’s the purpose. Does it work in reality? Of course not. Every government on being elected says it will reform Question Time. As part of an agreement with Prime Minister Gillard Rob Oakshot and Tony Winsor made some effort at reform with a greater insistence on relevance and supplementary questions.

Prior to the last election Christopher Pyne, the then Manager of Opposition Business, but better known as ‘the mouth that roared’, or ‘the fixer’, had this to say:

”An elected Coalition Government will move to reform Parliamentary Standing orders in the House of Representatives.”

”Our reforms will make Parliamentary Question Time more concise and ensure Ministers are held to account and remain relevant to questions asked.”

”We will look to strengthen the definition of ‘relevance’ in the standing orders so Ministers must stay directly relevant to questions and ensure Matter of Public Importance debates follow Question Time.”

What a ludicrous load of nonsense. As I stated earlier, there is no requirement for relevance at all. And without it Ministers simply cannot be held to account. Without civility reasoned debate cannot take place. All we have at the moment is a shambolic gaggle of incompetent unedifying politicians not in the least interested in enhancing our democracy. It has degenerated to the point of being obsolete. It needs to be given the flick and rethought.

How should this come about? Try this. Bill Shorten should walk out of Question Time with his colleagues straight into a press conference with a detailed list of reasons for doing so. They being that Question Time has become untenable, so lacking in relevance that there is no purpose in asking questions.

After siting all the obvious reasons he should then, having prepared himself, launch into a list of proposals to make governments and Ministers more accountable. The whole point of his presentation should center on a better more open democracy. An address that takes the democratic moral high ground that is critical of both sides of politics.

”None of us can claim that in this place, first and foremost on our minds is how we serve the Australian people’.’

Let the ideas flow. I propose to appoint now, a panel of former speakers from both sides of the house, to rewrite the standing orders and reform Question Time.

All this is hypothetical of course because I am thinking out loud. But consider the following.

1 An independent speaker. Not a politician. Not only independent but elected by the people. A position with clout. The Parliamentary Speakers Office with the power to name and shame Ministers for irrelevance. Power over politicians expenses. It could include a ‘’Fact Check Office’’

2 Imagine if the Speaker’s Office adjudicated on answers and published a relevance scale on its website. This might serve two purposes. Firstly it would promote transparency and truth and secondly provide an opportunity for ministers to correct answers. It wouldn’t take long for profiles of ministers to build.

3 If in the course of Question Time the Opposition wants to table a document that they say supports their claim, in the interests of openness and accountability it should always be allowed. Documents would also come under the scrutiny of the Speakers Office and both their authenticity and relevance be noted in the Speakers weekly accountability report.

4 Freedom of Information could also come under the umbrella of the Independent Speakers Office with it deciding what could be disclosed in the public interest.

5 Dorothy Dixers would be outlawed because they serve no purpose. If back benchers want information from Ministers, then pick up the bloody phone. Question Time is not a public relations department. A place for policy advertising. Question Time is about Government accountability.

6 I acknowledge that our system requires vigorous debate and human nature being what it is passion sometimes gets the better of our politicians. When it occurs the Speaker should have the power to call time outs.

7 Lying to the Parliament is a serious misdemeanor yet the Prime Minister and the Ministers in this Government do it on a regular basis. An Independent Speaker would be able to inflict severe penalties on serious offenders.

8 In fully answering a question, a minister or parliamentary secretary must be directly responsive, relevant, succinct and limited to the subject matter of the question. Penalties apply.

Nothing has changed. The Government owns Question Time, the Speaker and the Standing Orders.

Democracy is dead. Lunacy prevails. Anyway I think I have made my point.

My thought for the day.

”If you have a point of view, feel free to express it. However, do so with civility. Then your point of view is laced with a degree of dignity.”

 

Day to Day Politics: Peter, Peter, think more deeply.

Monday March 20 2017.

1 The Minister for Immigration and noted homophobic non-thinking leader of conservative opinion in the Coalition must wake up every morning thinking what he can do to tweak his nasty disposition.

I said immediately after the election that the issue of Same-sex Marriage would never go away, that it would continue to burn like a gas fire that you could never put out.

Like Pyne, Dutton is a Coalition go-to man when gutter politics and exaggeration or just plain lying are needed to douse the flames of public discontent.

So some 30 CEOs of major companies using their democratic right to support their customers on the subject of Gay Marriage express it publicly with an open letter asking the government to get the matter resolved. It’s called free speech but attack dog Dutton takes an exception in the belief that free speech should only be available to those who support conservative policies.

Last Friday he told shock jock Ray Hadley that big corporations including Qantas were afraid of being targeted online by activist groups. Really, what a load of codswallop. Playing the man he gave outed gay Qantas chief Alan Joyce a big serve, accusing him of using the company’s brand to push his personal view on equality.

An observation.

“Love has no gender.”

Come Sunday the few moderates left in the Coalition had been pulled into line and any chance of a free vote was taken from them by a Prime Minister who supports marriage equality. Work that out.

But Dutton in giving 30 of our most influential businesses a serve about marriage equality showed just what an ignoramus he is.

Dutton said:

“Some of these businesses are concerned that if they don’t sign up that they will be subject to a campaign which will be run online by GetUp! and others… and that is going to impact on their business.”

He suggested that all the businesses should pay more attention to their bottom line. By that he means profit. Had he done any research he would have realised that gays as a cohort have the largest disposable income of any group in society. The pink dollar, as it is known, is much sort after and business knows it. They are looking after their bottom line. Thank God he isn’t the Finance Minister … or the Prime Minister.

Bloody dunderhead suffers, like many government ministers from foot in mouth disease.

An observation

“When you express your right to free speech you also reveal your personal inner morality.”

2. ‘In short’: A selection of responses, emails etc that I get from various online sources.

i) The Prime Minister has finally come out in support for the decision made by the Fair Work Commission.

“It is important to remember this was not a decision from the government, it was an independent considered decision of the independent umpire of the Fair Work Commission, every member of which was appointed by a Labor government, three of who were appointed by Bill Shorten.”

Life is about perception, not what is but what we perceive it to be. No matter which way you look at it he will be the PM who reduced the wages of the poor while cutting the taxes of the rich. A hard one to sell.

ii) A leaked document revealed the Turnbull government costed how much would be saved by stopping all welfare payments below $20 a fortnight. Energy supplement etc.

From the PM – A report today that the government is cutting the aged pension is false and we outright reject it. I can assure all aged pensioners the measure reported will NOT be in the Budget.

We assured the journalist too, but she insisted on writing the story. And sadly, I can also assure you that you can always rely on Bill Shorten to lie.

What has Bill Shorten to do with it?

iii) True. Dutton is seeking conservative votes in the party room.

iv) Hasluck, Pearce, Stirling, Canning and Swan. would all change? Become Labor seats.

v) Unsure. Every issue the Turnbull government has can be traced back to the Howard government.

vi) Maybe. There is no real difference between democrats and republicans. Both controlled by the elites.

vii) The liberal party preselected 38 female candidates for the lower house in the federal election. 92 per cent of them in marginal seats. So you wonder how serious they are re getting women into parliament.

viii) Minor parties polled 23 percent House of reps last election. Tipped to be 25 percent next election. Could be heading for a period of political instability.

ix) Interesting thought. Hanson fields candidates knowing they won’t win. But they will get over the threshold. So the party will earn some public funding.

x) I think so. Ban all donations over $5000. All foreign donations.

xi) I think so. Abbott could well be challenged by a moderate for liberal pre-selection in his seat. And lose.

xii) Maybe. The carbon tax and the NBN were the two worst decisions ever by an Australian government.

How do you mean?

Open re NBN. Carbon tax made little environmental impact.

xiii) The liberal party preselected 38 female candidates for the lower house in the federal election. 92 per cent of them in marginal seats. So you wonder how serious they are re getting women into parliament.

ixv) GST is 12 per cent of our tax revenue. Personal income tax about 40 per cent.

xv) Optional preferential is better but the major parties won’t touch it. For a number of reasons.

xvi) If company tax was at 22 per cent of our tax revenue it would go a long way towards paying off our debt

xvii) Greens are stuck on 10 per cent. Since shorten became Labor leader unions have donated $25 million to the party

xviii) Agree with Richo. Australians have moved to the right over the last 20 years. So the Greens are becoming more of a fringe party

ixx) The snowy mountains hydro scheme was really a Labor project. Although implemented by Menzies.

xx) The hydro project is 5 years away at best.

More like 8.

xxi) Interesting. If there was a federal election on Saturday Julie bishop would be the only liberal in WA to hold their seat.

xxii) Conflict of interest? “Malcolm Turnbull’s wife Lucy Turnbull is Chairman of Prima Biomed.

Prior to Malcolm Turnbull becoming PM of Australia, Lucy’s shares were valued at $750,000 then her share of the company according to reports grew to $5.5million. Prima Biomed is partners with GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis which both develop vaccines. Vaccine Makers have benefited greatly from the introduction of the No Jab, No Pay under Turnbull.

xxiii) John Alexander likely to retire at the election. After 3 terms. Something odd going on there. Risks a preselection battle if decides to stay.

Note: I cannot vouch for the veracity of all the comments I get via different sources, but they always make for interesting reading.

My Thought for the day.

“Are you really doing what is important? What you believe in, or have you just adjusted to what you are doing.”

 

Day to Day Politics: Turnbull, breaking bad laws.

Sunday March 19 2017

In the political section of my library I have a book written by Jim Cairns, published in 1972, titled The quiet Revolution. On one of its pages Cairns (I couldn’t find it) makes the same statement that ACTU leader Sally McManus, made on Wednesday’s 7.30 when she said that she believed in the rule of law and then qualified it by saying:

“Where the law’s fair, where the law’s right, but when it’s unjust, I don’t think there’s a problem with breaking it.”

The Conservatives were up early the next day preparing their nefarious, but thoughtless words of megalomania that only people with delusions of power could write.

The Prime Minister said he doubted that he could work with new ACTU boss Sally McManus after her comments that union members should break “unjust laws”. Peter Dutton a former copper called her a ”lunatic”. Even Bill Shorten got in on the act with a stinging rebuke. The shallowest thinking people in our society, the shock jocks were intoxicated with thoughts of unionists breaking the law. Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne, dubbed her comments ”anarcho-Marxist claptrap”.

An observation.

“I always used to say to my kids. Think beyond the answer. There’ sure to be another one lurking there somewhere.”

On the surface it would seem right that people can’t go around breaking the law. But having said that we do live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us and the shame of it is that we have normalised them and simply adjusted accordingly.

Anyway I thought to myself what sort of world would we live in if Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Liu Xiaobo, Susan Brownell Anthony and many others didn’t just protest bad laws, and then break them.

Would you say you’re justified in breaking the law whenever you morally disagree with it? Law and order is one of the greatest achievements of humankind but every law was written by a fallible mortal. Even those in a democratic societies with the best will in the world always get it right. Not all laws are made in good faith, even with the best interest of the people they are supposed to protect.

What about Whistleblowers like Daniel Ellsberg, Mark Felt, ”Deep Throat” , Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden and hundreds of others who have all broken the law to disclose wrong doing? Politicians themselves break the law by creating ones that hide the truth.

The law and the ethics of it have been debated since the times of the great philosophers. Its not a black and white topic with simple solutions for laws that are made by fallible people.

Australia broke international law when together with the USA it unilaterally invaded Iraq. Is it justifiable to break a law if a person’s life is at risk?

Some say that rules/laws are put in place for those who aren’t capable of being good citizens without there being some sort of consequence. Even that I find to be thoughtless gibberish. Its so much deeper than that.

Jane Caro writing for Fairfax said:

Even in a democracy, laws tend to be made by the powerful and the privileged. It is therefore inevitable that those with less power and privilege, including women, may have to break some of those laws to find justice.”

When Turnbull, a lawyer and Dutton a policeman, and Pyne, also a lawyer don’t have any comprehension of the vagaries of the law and are seemingly, by their statements, are against the actions of Mandela and company I well understand why the country is in the political mess it’s in.

It was civil disobedience that ended slavery.

An observation.

“In terms of social activism. The word wait should never mean never.”

Anyway, no doubt there are many opinions on this subject so I will leave you with two thoughts.

When the founding fathers of America broke the tyrannous laws placed upon the colonies by Britain, the United States of America was formed.

The Eureka rebellion was more than just a few miners breaking the law and protesting against an unjust tax. Some argue that it was the time Australian democracy was born.

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:

When I wrote my piece titled ‘Only in America. Looking at Trump from Down Under’ I must confess that secretly in the labyrinth of my being I thought the American people were to intelligent to succumb to Donald Trump’s populist outbursts.

Stupidly I, like many others, assumed that over time his utterings of nefarious intent would be seen for what they were. The ravings of a pathological ratbag intent on obtaining power by any means. In my piece I covered the man’s personality disorders, his inappropriateness to even be considered as the Republican nominee and then I tied together current Australian conservatism with that of the American right.

As the Republican debates got underway it became apparent that Trump was not just a flash in the pan contender. People actually loved him for his bigotry, for his racism, for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, for his uncouth mouth, for his incitement of violence at his rallies. The more he did so the more they cheered him. The more hatred he spat out the more his supporters encouraged him. Even reciting an oath of allegiance on his command.

They loved him for his prejudice, his lies, his sexism. His racist tweets, and his offer to pay the legal fees of those who commit violence. His supporters worshiped when he advocated the use of torture and the murder of terrorists’ families.

They almost wet themselves when he gleefully told stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. And they fell over themselves with excitement when he compared refugees to “snakes”, and claimed that “Islam hates us”.

They applauded him when he tweeted racist images and racist lies. When it took him 48 hours to disavow white supremacy there was not a murmur.

Cheers and raucous joy arose at his rallies at his every hate filled denouncement of minorities and everything he sees as un-American. As if America has some sort of ownership on all morality and righteousness.

Having observed this man, his vile behaviour and listened to his rhetoric, the anger he elicits, and the reaction of the American people to it I have to admit I was wrong. Rather than Americans seeing him, as I thought they would, for the fool he is, they are embracing him as their champion.

If I was wrong about Trump I also regrettably have to concede I was wrong about the American people or more particularly Republican Americans. Wanting a person like Trump as President speaks as much about their mindlessness as it does about his inappropriateness.

At some stage I reconciled that he might win the Republican nomination but could never win the Presidency. Am I also wrong about that?

Commentators are saying that if he gets the nomination we will see a more reasoned Trump. A more lucid personality.

The logic of this suggestion escapes me. I know who he is, what he stands for, and it frightens me. It should petrify the world.

My thought for the day.

“Time doesn’t diminish the crime.”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Talk about a Circus

Saturday March 18 2017

“Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”

The unedifying, undiluted, unplugged Jay and Josh press conference, or more appropriately called circus SA, between two monkeys on steroids showed Australians just why our politics has degenerated into a three-ring circus. In this instance, however, my sympathies are with Weatherill. Over the past few months he has had to accept much horse shit thrown from the conservative donkeys on the right who are brilliant at blaming the opposition for the circus’s unpopularity. He was just throwing a bit back.

A day after pretending he was a decent ring leader by getting gas companies to guarantee our future supply, (what choice did they have and why did the Government allow such a deal with no national interest test in the first place?) he cracks the whip by announcing a 2 billion upgrade to Snowy Mountain Hydro.

“She’ll be right” shouted the men of the Snowy when it seemed their work would never end or became too arduous. It wasn’t the negative quote we have interpreted it to be. It meant that regardless of the hardship, the work would be done. “She’ll be right, mate.”

It’s a quote unsuited to a do nothing Government. A bunch of clowns without the balls to juggle anything.

If nothing else the press conference highlighted just how broken our political system is. It demonstrated that in the big tent of politics, the circus is just full of under-performing jugglers who constantly drop the ball. A state government fails to brief the federal government on what it intends announcing and the federal government does the same. Not a thought about options or  solutions. Just gratuitous slurs hurled like knives at each other.

Weatherill wasn’t wrong when he said it was “galling” that the Commonwealth had endlessly “bagged” the state and now said “we want to work together”.

Mind you I have some sympathy for the Premier who since the lights out storm has copped a barrage of lies and insults that would make a trapeze artist reconsider a safety net.

Weatherill was probably responsible for instigating the confrontation but we have to consider that his ‘ENTITLED ANGER’ had been boiling away for six months so he had a lot of steam to let off.

Weatherill said the Snowy initiative was a “$2 billion admission that the national energy market has broken and there needs to be public investments to actually fix it up” adding that the government was “in a white-knuckled panic about national energy policy”.

Frydenberg not to be outdone said Weatherill had delivered a “$550 million admission of failure” two days earlier, and had a big job to do explaining why the lights went out in South Australia “not once, not twice, not three times, but four times”.

At the end of it Turnbull trotted in like the head clown in the three-ring circus to say:

I understand that the Premier’s conduct spoke volumes about the Premier’s state of mind at the moment.”

Low blow clowning at its best.

This was somewhat unfair as the federal government would have blamed the three dwarfs if it could. What the boots and all 20 minute press conference did tell us was just how little cooperation exists between the states and the commonwealth. It is now toxic. Turnbull has been saying for months now that any increase in energy prices would be the fault of the states. By stepping into the gas crisis he must now take ownership of the problem.

Now let’s look at Turnbull’s proposal in isolation.

It is not new. It has been around a long time. As to the cost they seemed to have plucked 2 billion dollars out of a magician’s hat. Like most projects of this type the cost seems to get out of hand and the time doubles so it could cost 6 billion and take a decade to compete. As yet it is only in feasibility stage which is to be completed prior to Christmas and the work to commence shortly afterwards. However, some say that it will never see the light of day. The major shareholders Victoria and NSW know precious little about it yet have been asked to dob in their share. If they don’t/won’t then with slight of hand dexterity the government will. Remarkable how they can find a few lazy billion when it doesn’t exist. Circus life does have its advantages.

Now it well maybe an excellent proposal, this Snowy scheme, but the question that needs to be asked is just how does it, and Weatherill’s proposal fit into the Finkel National Energy Policy that he is due to report on mid year.

The Coalition has had four years to come up with an energy plan, and all we have had is a lump of coal being handed around in the bullpit with accompanied bullshit. Pathetic I hear you say. The circus band plays on.

Finkel of course has been asked to come up with a plan that excludes the solution. Strange I hear you say. Well the Government has ruled out any  consideration of the approach considered by the National Farmers Federation, Energy Networks Australia, the retailer Energy Australia, the electricity provider AGL, the Climate Change Authority, the Business Council of Australia and the CSIRO who all agree that a form of an emissions intensity trading scheme is the best way forward. In their submissions all of the aforementioned have included consideration of an ‘EIS’. Finkel can hardly dismiss them out of hand.if he does the opposition will do an extra matinee for free.

The reason why Turnbull has forbidden this approach is that it is a tax and it be seen as an admission of guilt in axing Labor’s carbon tax. He values his job as ring master of the three-ring circus more highly than what’s best for Australia’s energy needs and a moral approach to our carbon emissions. It’s an ideology over common sense approach. It’s just amazing how much clout the clowns of the right-wing circus have.

What our readers say.

Terry 2

“The prime minister has ordered a feasibility study by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) into increasing the capacity of the Snowy Hydro scheme by up to 50% by the use of pumped-hydro technology. It is a “feasibility study” and should be completed by the end of the year. ARENA, which provides financial grants for 40 per cent of the CSIRO’s energy research, was set to be stripped of $1.3 billion in funding as part of the government’s Omnibus Savings Bill still before the parliament.”

“By the way, I think that SA’s reserve gas power facility is good risk management particularly as it will be publicly owned; Weatherill deserves our support for tackling a problem that the federal government is only now belatedly acknowledging.”

Peter F

“Within the last hour Fran Kelly was told by someone who has worked on the Snowy Hydro scheme that the PM’s idea is nothing new, it was always part of the original proposal, but that it will take YEARS to get agreement between all of the parties before anything can happen.”

“Yes, it should have been part of any government plan. But that is exactly the point: there was no plan before Weatherill’s announcement.”

“Ok, so, in response to the proposal for a battery system in SA ( one proponent says it could be up and running in 100 days) our wonderful PM drags out a $2bn Snowy Mtns scheme expansion (ARENA says it could have a 7 year lead time), while denigrating the battery proposal.”

Paulwalter

“As it stands SA and now the Commonwealth are up for heavy costs to remedy the fossil fuels oriented neglect of the previous decade, along with the hiving off of control of resources and infrastructures for ideological and political reasons with probably even graft involved.”

Whatever you make of all this one thing is abundantly clear. The Government led by Turnbull must be the most incompetent ever to have served the nation. In spite of all their collective education they can’t, after four years, even come up with decent policies on Energy and the Environment. Shame, shame, shame. And many other policies. Shame, shame, shame.

”This three ring circus needs to get its act together. At the moment it seems to have no energy at all”

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:

I have always believed Greg Hunt to be the second biggest liar, behind Abbott, in Australian Politics.

On Tuesday morning while driving my grandsons to school he was being interviewed on AM. The previous day it was announced that the average global surface temperature for February was 1.35°C warmer than the global average for the month between 1951-1980—a margin that shattered the previous record of 1.14°C, which was set just one month earlier—and exceeded preliminary figures released earlier this month.

“NASA dropped a bombshell of a climate report,” wrote meteorologists Bob Henson and Dr. Jeff Masters, founder of the Weather Underground. February 2016 has soared past all rivals as the warmest seasonally adjusted month in more than a century of global record keeping.

On Q&A on Monday night Australia’s Chief Scientist empathized the seriousness of the latest data more or less suggesting that the battle is being lost.

Seemingly oblivious to the situation Hunt in his interview told repeated lies about our commitment to reducing emissions giving the impression that Australia is on top of everything when the fact we are not.

“My best estimate is that we are unlikely as a nation ever to surpass [2005 levels] … In my best judgment, the advice, the information from the department, we reached peak emissions in 2005-06 … and the course of history to come for Australia is that we will continue to be below that figure.”

In saying this he is assuming that his monumentally condemned Direct Action will work.

There is not an economist, environmentalist, climate scientist or serious science writer who thinks that ‘Direct Action’ is the answer.

Lenore Taylor in the Guardian said:

“Independent experts predict Australia’s emissions will almost certainly rise over that decade under current policies, which do not put limits on emission increases from industry, electricity generation or land-clearing. They were deeply sceptical of Hunt’s peak emissions in 2005 claim.”

Hugh Grossman, the executive director of Reputex, said his company’s analysis of the government’s own data showed Australia’s emissions would continue to grow and that ‘there is no peak in sight’.

Malcolm Turnbull said this:

“Now I think those are arguments that some of the supporters of the scheme take, but it obviously – if you want to have a long-term solution to abating carbon emissions and to achieve – if you want to have a long-term technique of cutting carbon emissions, you know, in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where the Government – where industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the Government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.”

Donald Trump said this:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

My thought for the day.

“Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”

 

Day to Day Politics: God give me energy, please.

Thursday 16 March 2017

The sentence stood out like the proverbial dog’s balls:

”However, industry and environment groups were united in calling for the federal government to provide more certainty though a national energy policy.”

You mean we don’t have one, I thought to myself. I read on.

”The federal government has charged Australia’s chief scientist, Alan Finkel, to review national energy security and he will report later this year.”

But of course the Prime Minister has categorically ruled out what all the major players believe is an obvious solution.

They being the National Farmers Federation, Energy Networks Australia, the retailer Energy Australia, the electricity provider AGL, the Climate Change Authority, the Business Council of Australia and the CSIRO.

So the question arises that if all of these organisations want an “emissions intensity scheme,’’ (EIS) agreeing it’s the logical way forward, why has the Prime Minister ruled out such a scheme? I mean it’s rare to get a group of this ilk to agree on anything. So why tell them to stick it. Even the Federal Minister Josh Frydenberg agreed with them before the ultra-right pulled him into line.

It’s simple really. Some members of his party have told him that he would be sacked if he pursued that course of action. It’s a pity he didn’t have the courage and zeal of Gough Whitlam. He would confront the bastards. If he only could reinvent his former self. The Malcolm Turnbull who supported a tax on carbon and thought that direct action on Climate Change was a waste of the public’s money. Whatever happened to him? The man of innovation.

All of this can be viewed within a framework of inaction by a Coalition of a coal loving Government unable to look forward to a renewables future, but with a gargantuan capacity to blame others.

Our energy market has been screwed. Privatisation, deregulation, greedy companies and Government are all to blame.

It can be factually argued that inaction by the Federal Government in both the supply of energy and the reduction of emissions is responsible for the current crisis. It lawfully has power over the export of gas, the introduction of an emission’s trading scheme and a national energy policy.

It has now been in power since 2013 but has accomplished little in the way of ground breaking policy of any sort.

The South Australian government, in the absence of any national strategy, is attempting to go it alone. So are others while a dithering National Government sits on its backside waiting for a report from the Chief Scientist later in the year? What was Greg Hunt doing all those years other than telling lies? Of course it would be better if all the states came in under the umbrella of a national scheme for both emission’s and energy supply. However, all they get is abuse and blame. They must be sick of it.

Yesterday morning both Frydenberg and Turnbull were giving the states a serve of inappropriate bullying. Victoria had closed down the Gas industry. SA was bucking the system. Albeit a non existing one. We have enough Gas, that’s not the problem. The problem is that we haven’t saved enough for ourselves. Blame Howard, he did a deal that could only be described as giving it away.

It is bizarre that gas customers in Japan buy Australian gas more cheaply than Australians. Some of this gas is drilled in the Bass Strait, piped to Queensland, turned into liquid and shipped 6,700 kilometers to Japan but the Japanese still pay less than Victorians.

The SA response could well be described as simply trying to treat the symptoms of a non existent national energy policy. Of course they could all be part of the solution but with a government treating them like shit what would you expect.

With great enthusiasm they hand around a lump of coal in the parliament. It’s convenient to mock It and  Weatherill every time the national power regulator fails, even if towers fall over, to keep the power on and to blame a massive storm on the SA government as an opportunity for a slogan, “Labor can’t keep the lights on”.

They are attempting to do what the federal government, with good will, and the common good in mind, could fix themselves. Just take the politics out of it, tell the denialist nutters where to go and problem resolved.

Penny Wong commented:

”The last bipartisanship we had on energy policy was in 2009 before Abbott tore down Turnbull. And it’s time Malcolm Turnbull rediscovered some of that, because a sensible long-term approach to this market that frankly the private sector is calling out for they are calling out for leadership.”

Matthew Warren, of the Australian Energy Council said.

”Many features of its (SA) energy plan would be made redundant by effective national energy policy reform,” Warren said. “This would be a win for all consumers and remains the fastest and cheapest way of fixing Australia’s energy crisis.”

The only thing standing in the way of a solution to our energy crisis is a select band of Coalition coal loving climate denialists led by Tony Abbott and a Prime Minister more in love with the stature of the Prime Ministership than doing what’s good for the country.

Nick Xenophon was promoting an energy intensity scheme to manage carbon emissions back in 2009, a policy now supported by everyone from the energy suppliers and the National Farmers’ Federation to the ALP.

Yesterday morning Malcolm Turnbull stood before the assembled members of the fourth estate, looking sartorially Prime Ministerial and said ”Good morning. Today I’m taking national leadership to resolve this gas crisis.” Where had it been all this time?

Rather reminded me of Tony Abbott’s declaration that ”Good government starts today”.

When a leader all of a sudden announces he is going to lead, all sorts of other questions arise. The crisis may not be as bad as he makes out and could be resolved with leadership. It’s just that he is not the right one.

STOP PRESS. Late Wednesday the Prime Minister predictably announces that the gas companies will supply whatever is required for Australia’s needs. In doing so he claims good leadership. It’s just a pity that we don’t in all the Coalitions years in power have a National Energy Policy or an Emissions policy. Shame, shame, shame.

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:

Peter Dutton says that the $55 million that was spent on a resettlement deal with Cambodia for two refugees was “a good deal”.

He also thinks that if Labor were to win the next election the Stock Market would crash.

The economy would collapse and there would be an inevitable recession.

We are awaiting his thoughts on the potential for a budget surplus if the Coalition wins.

Did you know that in 2008, when new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologised to the Stolen Generations, Dutton was the only coalition front bencher to abstain?

On 5 June 2015 Dutton categorically denied claims made by Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young that she was spied on during a visit to Nauru.

On 11 September 2015, Dutton was overheard on an open microphone, prior to a community meeting on Syrian refugees, joking about the plight of Pacific Island nations facing rising seas from climate change.

Dutton also attempted to introduce a GP co payment of $7, but this proved highly unpopular with both the public and the medical profession, and the plan was dropped. Dutton was overwhelmingly ranked as the worst health minister in 35 years according to a poll run by Australian Doctor Magazine.

Then in 2016 News Corp Sunday political Editor Samantha Maiden wrote a column critical of Jamie Briggs and Dutton drafted a text message to Briggs describing Maiden as a ‘mad f*cking witch’ but inadvertently sent it to Maiden herself. Maiden accepted an apology from Dutton.

He has had five ministries and hasn’t lasted very long in any.

We deserve better.

My thought for the day.

“Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow. In fact it is incumbent on them”

 

Day to Day Politics: There’s a sucker born every minute.

Wednesday 15 March 2016

Author’s note.

1 I decided to take a few days off from the pressure of writing a daily blog. I’m back now much refreshed and ready to catch up with matters political.

“There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase attributed to P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid-19th century, although there is no evidence that he actually said it. It does however, describe the gullible in society. In the world of politics it relates to those who fall for the simplest lies or accept dishonest words without question. Those who follow extremist leaders while most normal people see through their deceit.

An observation.

”It is the misinformed who shout the loudest. The rest of us are content with the truth we enquired about.”

We observe this in both American and Australian Politics. Yesterday we had White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer pulling back from the Trump accusation that Obama was spying on him. I’m sure that 90% of Americans would have concluded that he was tweeting lies but equally 10% would believe he was telling the truth.

Republican senator John McCain upped the ante and demanded that the President put up or shut up on his claim that Barack Obama had ordered wire taps on Trump Tower.

But Spicer had the answer. He reckons that when Trump uses the term “wiretap,” he means any sort of surveillance.

”There’s a whole host of things that fall into the category [of wire-tapping,”he said, and ”a wide range of ways in which somebody can be monitored or followed up on.”

Told you so. Just tell more lies to water down the first. ”There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Who said this during the US election campaign?

”Don’t believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment. The number’s probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 per cent.”

”The terrible jobs report that just came out shows the number of people not in the workforce increased by another 425,000 people last month.”

On Friday morning, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released jobs numbers from Trump’s first full month in office. The addition of 235,000 people to the employment rolls was good news. He claimed it was because he was now in office.

“They may have been phony in the past, but they’re real now,” @PressSec laughs, asked to explain Trump suddenly accepting unemployment figures.

What a perverted liar he is. All the reporters in the room laughed in unison.

An observation.

”The rise of the right has brought with it a new political language. One that has not yet been classified because it defies any normal understanding of what the word truth means.”

In Australia Pauline Hansen followers would believe her when she speaks against inoculating children against diseases. People get sucked in and truth becomes irrelevant.

2 Tuesday’s Essential Poll has Labor still ahead of the Coalition. 53/47. One Nation has moved ahead of the Greens on 11%.

On the survey questions.

A. Who do you think would make the better Prime Minister out of Malcolm Turnbull and Bill Shorten?

38% (down 1% in last 4 weeks) of respondents think Malcolm Turnbull would make the better Prime Minister and 26% (up 1%) think Bill Shorten would make the better Prime Minister.

41% of men prefer Malcolm Turnbull and 31% prefer Bill Shorten.

34% of women prefer Malcolm Turnbull and 22% prefer Bill Shorten.

B. Do you approve or disapprove of the $50 billion in tax cuts for medium and large businesses announced in the Federal budget?

24% approve of the tax cuts for medium and large business announced in the Federal budget and 46% disapprove. This represents a 4% drop in approval since this question was previously asked in June last year.

Those most likely to disapprove were Greens voters (63%), Labor voters (59%) and aged 65+ (61%).

3 The WA election in my view was entirely predictable. Longevity is the enemy of any sitting government. Add to it a tired looking leader who has not led well together with a deplorable Federal Government of the same ideology and you have a recipe for disaster. The Liberals could potentially lose 10 seats federally if the same swing occurs. One Nation got 5.7%. of the vote. Given all their infighting it’s a wonder they got that.

4 Nothing amplifies the need for a Royal Commission more that the news yesterday that Westpac had conned its customers into moving $646.7 million of their money into its superannuation accounts BT subsidiary. The allegation is that they were giving personal financial advice when advisors are only permitted  to give ”general advice”. ASIC is taking them to court but a RC would be more desirable.

5 It seems we have a very unhappy Public Service at the moment who are disillusioned about being used as bullies against presumed welfare cheats.

The bullied however, have their own way of retaliating. They stop warning you about the political hazards you face. Very clever I should think. “There’s a sucker born every minute”.

6 Senator Brandis is still refusing to hand over his Diary despite a court ruling him to do so. It makes it all a bit shifty. If he has nothing to hide why not just release it. I do hope he wasn’t chaving a bit on the side.

7 This from Anne Hurley the executive chair of Internet Australia:

”The industry-standard Akamai State of the Internet quarterly report on average Internet connection speeds has Australia falling in its global rankings from 50 to 51, at a time when we need to be heading up the chart. Interestingly, the report noted that for broadband adoption, quarterly changes were positive in the Asia Pacific region ”except for Australia, which posted a 1.9 per cent decline in adoption”.

8 A study by the Climate and Energy College at Melbourne University tells us that the price of electricity has doubled since the axing of the Carbon Tax. I have not had time to fully digest the announcements regarding Energy Policy by the SA government but a first blush appraisal suggests they are on the right track. Now if only the PM had the balls to confront his party and implement some form of emissions trading scheme. He won’t of course, the gutless fool. My memory goes back to the times when Gough was confronted with similar situations.

On this day in 2015 I wrote:

For most of my working life I worked in marketing and advertising so I know how people are influenced, persuaded or swayed by such things as branding and repetitive advertising. Companies spend millions of dollars to subtly brainwash you. To align you with a certain brand or product. They will use all manner of persuasive techniques including sex and deceptive packaging to solicit your good will and loyalty. They even measure the eye blink rate of women from hidden cameras in supermarkets to test colour reaction. Yes it’s that sophisticated. And brand loyalty is what they want. There are more psychologists employed in advertising in America than in the health industry. It is all calculated to take power over your decision-making. And it works.

The same can be said for Australian mainstream media. It also wants your brand loyalty and the power to coerce you into its way of thinking. It uses similar techniques to the advertising industry and the main ingredients are untruth and the creation of perceptions with subliminal messages. In the media it is easy to apply. It can be a headline, a one liner (stop the boats) or a photoshopped photograph and on television the way you lead a story or conduct an interview. We are almost manipulated beyond our free will. But of course the often repeated blatant lie takes precedence and is the best tool to use for an audience that is uninformed and in a malaise and thus susceptible to this sort of propaganda. Now of course they have another tool, “Opinion Journalism” (Andrew said). Now let me add that there is nothing wrong with opinions so long as there is a diversity of them. But the fact is we don’t have a diversity and we would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the media and self-interest groups’

The less informed voters unfortunately greatly outnumber the more politically aware and therefore are the obvious victims of mainstream media deception where everything is reduced to simplistic slogans. Where the opinion makers use all manner of tantalising, seductive and provocative words and imagery to win you to what they want you to believe. Media is no longer about reporting news. It is about persuasion by opinion.

My last thought.

Wages of politicians have increased 75 percent since 1994. Newstart not been increased in real terms in that time. Enough said.

”There’s a sucker born every minute”

My thought for the day.

“We live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level”.

Day to Day Politics: Politicians getting in the way of good policy.

Saturday 11 March 2017

1 There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest impediment to the future prosperity of Australia is our political system. In particular, conservative politicians. I say conservative because they are more attached to the system of capitalism than those of the left. And might I add, pre-disposed to the wacky idealism of the extreme right. Having said that, I include all political parties in my statement.

Nothing backs my argument more than the history of our political parties’ attempt to deal with the subject of Climate Change over the past ten years. I could have included other policies like the NBN but for the purposes of this piece I will stick with the environment.

Barry Jones, as Science Minister in the Hawke government, first alerted us to the danger of Climate Change and man-made emissions over twenty years ago. No one took much notice back then. It has only been over the last decade that the problem has been taken seriously. Well not so seriously if you look at the calamitous attempts Australia’s highly educated, highly paid but never the less incompetent politicians have made to put in place Climate Change and energy policy.

And you don’t need to digest my words, it’s easily evidenced and traceable.

Did it have to come to the point where rising prices, rising emissions and a national grid that falls over for any reason, but mostly from a decade of calamitous, unconscionable inaction from our politicians? We have witnessed a decade of public policy failure.

It’s not just the current politicians, although their incompetence is surely worthy of public contempt. It can be traced back to Rudd who in 2009 put Turnbull in a corner, got an agreement, but when the crunch came didn’t have the balls to act. Then the Greens voted down a Carbon Trading Scheme believing polluters were sympathetically treated.

But if anyone should take the prize for destroying, what has now proved to be a correct decision, it has to be the ultra-conservative face of Tony Abbott. For years in opposition he exposed the voter’s gullibility to propaganda.

His former Chief of Staff recently admitted on Sky News that his scare campaign was essentially a political rouse that had nothing to do with Climate Change.

“It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax.”

“We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and, when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

His alternative policy of direct action was just an attempt to show the public they were doing something when in fact it was doing nothing.

If it were possible he should be charged with crimes against the environment.

He had in fact used climate policy to steal the leadership from Turnbull. The devious cunning gutter politician then began his ”axe the tax” campaign with all the political brutality he could muster cumulating with the repeal of the tax and self-congratulations on the floor of the parliament.

A decision now proven wrong. The price of electricity has doubled since its repeal.

Now we are faced with fixing the problem but who do we turn to fix it. Well the same people who caused it of course. Our inept, bungling, ineffectual politicians who when seeking a solution will put aside the national interest in favour of self-survival or self-interest.

A cohort of interested parties are collectively pleading with the government that they want an emissions trading scheme. The whole of the Energy and big users are wanting to get into the headstrong government of climate deniers and make them understand just what is wrong and how to fix it.

This is where they run into a brick wall. The government, for purely political reasons, will rule out any form of carbon pricing. Turnbull would lose his job if he agreed.

The Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has been asked to come up with a solution without a price on carbon but it’s a bit like asking a captain to save a ship that’s already on its way to the bottom.

Turnbull is to have a meeting a meeting of east coast gas company chief executives and other stake holders and in the meantime is blaming them. I hope they bring some hand grenades to throw at him.

Their collective view would be that the fault is of the governments making. The lack of a cohesive bipartisan policy framework. The writing has been on the wall for a generation. Coal-fired power stations do have a lifespan after all. Investment went on strike and we have ended up in a mess of our politicians making.

On top of all this we have a gas market seemingly out of control. We have an abundance of the stuff but we export most of it for profit and have little left over for ourselves and what is left we have to buy at world parity.

With the government poring scorn over renewable energy and wanting to lower our RET, the whole thing has become a political dogs breakfast of political making. The can never act on the advice of experts because the advice is usually contrary to conservative ideology.

The world will not collapse if they show the grace of admitting they were wrong and take the advice of the industry who want certainty for investment and secure energy. Turnbull being captive to the moronic denialists of the far right doesn’t help either, nor does the avalanche of lies they continue to tell..

2 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

I have been writing daily about Malcolm Turnbull’s takeover of the Liberal Party leadership. Anyone who follows my writing will attest to me at first embracing him as a new light on the hill. I said that Australians would be eternally grateful to him for removing the greatest liar of a politician the country had endured. He would bring a new era of reasoned political discourse.

For the ensuring five months it became apparent that despite his eloquent, articulate and grandiose statements, he had no plan, no economic reform agenda and his only motive has been one of self-interest. There was nothing to reasonably debate.

Some said I was overreacting and he just needed more time. Well I’m pleased that yesterday one of their own in former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said it like it is.

Jeff, whether you liked him or not could never be accused of holding back. I got to ask him a question at a function many years ago. I asked him why he was going to an election when there was no reason to do so. His answer was a lie but forcefully put.

Anyhow this is what he had to say about Malcolm Turnbull during a 2UE radio interview on Wednesday.

”When they changed leaders, I thought we were in for a period of government, a period of stability, a period in which policy was going to be enunciated.”

”This talk about an early election is an indication, sadly, that the government does not have a plan for the future of the country and they are trying, I think, to use this talk of a double dissolution, an early election, simply to cover up their own failings.”

Mr Kennett said the Prime Minister ”did not have any plan at all’ when he took the leadership for his own self-interest”.

He added that Turnbull had received much public goodwill in taking over the leadership but had squandered it with his failure to create a narrative when the public was ‘craving good leadership’.

”What they can’t stand is vacillation where politicians don’t have the courage, in this case in my opinion, to put the interests of the country well before their own and their own party”.

He went on to say that he had failed to stand by his beliefs on negative gearing and same-sex marriage.

”We don’t need a plebiscite on this. We don’t need to waste another $139 million on a vote.” If Malcolm had any courage, he would have simply stood up and said ”I’m going to put this through the Parliament.” What he’s saying now. ”This decision, this policy position was decided by Tony Abbott and we’re going to stay with it,” he said.

There’s a good example of where Malcolm set himself apart from Tony Abbott and yet, when he took on the leadership, he hid behind Tony’s clothes and did not have the courage of his conviction and that applies right across the board.

Nothing different in all that than what I have been saying for some time. At the risk of repeating myself the fact is that he never had any policy to bring to the table, nor the conviction of his own beliefs. We have a yes man, a hypocrite doing what he is told to by the extremists in his party.

My thought for the day.

”Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity”.

 

Day to Day Politics: A Society for the Common Good. (Updated)

Friday 10 March 2017

Author’s note.

1 There are some things we write that at a later date when writing on the same subject the words we choose seem inferior to the original ones. It is with this in mind that I post.

A Society for the Common Good. That’s what I want.

I was walking my dog Zach (since departed)one autumn day in 2016 and thinking about the year in politics. Many things came to mind but the one thing that stood out was the sense of self entitlement that politicians have.

As if just being a politician necessitated some form of self-indulgence that set them apart from the society they are supposed to represent. My thoughts drifted to what I thought a society should be.

When, many years ago, the lady with the bad hair do uttered her famous and dispassionate condemnation of the human species:

”there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first”

I was horrified. It was a statement that could only be expressed by someone with a deep sense of isolation, selfish indifference, or indulgence. Was she saying that families only consisted of individuals making their way without any dependency on societal structure? The basic need to coexist and seek companionship.

We are by nature a herding animal. We form groups because no individual can survive without the assistance of others. ”No man is an island” as John Donne said. Margaret Thatcher’s statement condemns us to class self-centeredness and serfdom.

Successful societies should be built around a common good and we need to examine which political ideology is best placed to build such a society.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves what is an ideal society based on the assumption that’s it’s an attainment we may never accomplish, but none the less is a worthwhile aspiration. Even call me idealistic if you want.

In the modern Western sense an enlightened society is a populace of men, women and children who as a collective desire to express their humanity, work, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry and play with the richest possible diversity.

It cultivates a common good with equality of opportunity for all. A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon your character and the color of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth. A society that believes in individual pursuit, intellectual accomplishment and financial reward only regulated by what is beneficial for the common collective good. In other words everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

A society where freedom of expression is guaranteed but limited only by the innate moral personal decency of the individual. Where free speech is fair speech. An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

A society where the health and welfare of all is sacrosanct and access to treatment is assured. Where the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us is indelible in the mind of every citizen. A society that respects science before myth and mysticism, but at the same time recognises the individual’s right to the expression of their own form of spirituality so long as it doesn’t hinder the common good.

A society that should be judged by its welcoming, and how well it treats its most vulnerable citizens. By how well protected we are and how accessible the law is regardless of stature or wealth.

In Democratic Societies (the best – or least bad form of government) our herding instincts are realised by the election of leaders who form government. Even in the imperfection of democracy we realise that a group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality.

So we need government that is subservient to the will (the common good ethic) of the people and is responsive to public opinion.

It is government that decides and regulates the progress and ambitions of society. Or at least provides the environment in which to do so. There is very little that is done in the name of progress that cannot be attributed in some way to government. Individual or collective ambition can only be achieved within a social structure built and controlled by government.

Currently we are experiencing a shift in power from government to those who control the means of production, financial institutions, the media, and the rich and large corporations.

Government by the people for the common good needs to be taken back.

It is our entitlement, not theirs.

2 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

A Whilst I understand the ABCs desire to have a diversity of views on its panel for the life of me, given his past, I could not understand how having Alan Jones opining about the Catholic Church, boys and morality was appropriate.

B A Royal Commission into the banks and the Financial Advice Industry is long overdue. Conservative Governments are loath to investigate the big end of town for ideological reasons. Last night’s Four Corners program should ensure one is implemented. It also highlights the need for a national ICAC.

C I have read many political books in my lifetime both biographical and scholarly. My favourite in terms of insight into how government works has always been Don Watson’s masterly study of Paul Keating ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart.’ Yesterday I began reading the book of the moment. Nikki Savva’s ‘Road to Ruin’ It gives promise of an insight into all that is wrong with the way we are governed.

D The IPA gains a voice in the Senate with the selection of 28-year-old James Paterson to the top of the Liberal Victorian ticket. Paterson has strong libertarian views on issues like free speech. Together with the right the IPA have had a victory?

E In the words of former Opposition Leader Dr John Hewson. Speaking about Tony Abbott.

”I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard”

”He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period”

My thought for the day.

”We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence”

 

Day to Day Politics: Frydenberg’s another Hunt.

Thursday 9 March 2017

Tony Abbott came to power on 18 September 2013 and served as PM until 15 September 2015. The two things that stood out to me were firstly,when he appointed Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister, he wanted him to destroy the internet and secondly that he would repeal Labor’s ‘Carbon Tax’. He thought the internet was to access pornography and that Climate Change was a socialist plot to replace communism. Despite his luddite mind the internet survived, albeit a second-rate version.

The Carbon Tax did go and three and a half years later the decision can best be summed up with this comment in “The state of the environment Report 2016” tabled in parliament on Tuesday:

The government has no national plan to protect the environment in the years to 2050.”

An observation.

”In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today”

What a bloody disgrace this government is. Josh Frydenberg, The Minister for the Department of  “I couldn’t care less’’ tried to jump the gun by writing a column for the Guardian. In it he said the Coalition will “use this report to continue the good work” the government is doing in environmental policy. Frankly the man needs a manager. He’s been handling himself too long.

The report is commissioned by the government every 5 years and is written by independent experts. They say that Climate Change is beyond debate and that it will cause enormous damage in the future. Climate change is now irreversible.

Freydenberg was out and about doing what his predecessor Greg Hunt did for year after year, creating the illusion they were doing something whilst doing nothing. Telling lies, in other words. The tide has turned and people are now taking in the catastrophic damage that climate change will do to future generations. That a government can just continue to pay lip service to the science is beyond belief.

I suppose I have never come to grips with the fact that supposedly intelligent men can be so dismissive of the science.

An observation.

“How can one man hold the future of the planet in his hand while the remaining leaders kowtow to him?”

In the same year that Abbott came to power I wrote an essay titled “Climate Change. A Lay person’s dilemma”. Here are a few paragraphs:

For the life of me, I cannot understand people who accept science in fact and use it every day somehow become brain-dead when it comes to climate science.  However, lay people like me who believe in the existence of climate change cannot honestly claim to know the veracity of the science for ourselves but are happy to delegate this task to climate scientists. Laypeople simply do not have the knowledge to adjudicate on the issue.

On the other hand the, those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus seek to justify their belief by attaching themselves to a minority of  science sceptics with obscure qualifications or worse to right-wing shock jocks and journalists with no scientific training what so ever. These people (like you and me) have no way of evaluating the volume of data produced by the various scientific institutions. One of the most outspoken sceptics (Andrew Bolt) has recently been found guilty of deceptive lying in that he defamed some white skinned aboriginals. One has to wonder how many he has told when writing about his favourite topic climate change.

If I do not support the 95% of scientists, every major scientific institution and the research that is constantly peer evaluated I am obliged to accept the alternative. That is that I should take seriously the likes of Andrew Bolt, (A journalist) Alan Jones, (I’m not sure how you would describe his contribution to society) Lord Monckton (A discredited something who was once a lobbyist for the tobacco companies) Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott. (Both politicians). In fact, Minchin is on the record as saying that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy to replace communism. None of the aforementioned people has a background or expertise in climate science.

Now that’s not to say that they should not have a view and that view should not be considered as should any laypersons if they are of that ilk. But surely, we must respect the science otherwise; you put into question all science.”

When a government is so out of step with science, public expectations and what we call common sense, we need in our democracy some sort of trigger that overrides the normal decision-making process and gives the public a greater say. Some sort of people’s referendum after a suitable petition.

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:

4 Meanwhile in the US. ‘Only in the US,’ Donald Trump, in scenes reminiscent of a Hitler rally, asked, no demanded, that thousands of people at a rally swear an oath of allegiance. And they did. It was a scene that people of my vintage thought we might never experience again.

‘I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J Trump for president.’

5 After last week’s embarrassing debacle over Negative Gearing you might have thought that The Australian might leave the chill of those waters behind for a while. But no, yesterday’s headline read.

‘Labor’s crackdown on negative gearing ‘a threat to small business’

6 Peter Costello has warned against changes to Negative Gearing, Superannuation, and Capital Gains Tax. In fact he has urged Scott Morrison to maintain the generously immoral superannuation and tax arrangements of his tenure for the rich and privileged.

On the evidence thus far the Government never had a reform policy in the first place. They just needed something to talk about. Something they are good at.

7 I think I will stop here. I’m becoming very depressed of late about the way in which we are governed. The disrespect that we are treated with. The incompetence. Government for self-abounds. There is a stench about it that is contributing to the way I feel. I wrote last week that this mob has degrees from the world’s finest learning institutions dripping from the walls of their parliamentary offices but all the learning seems unsuitable for good governance. The problem is that conservative ideology and practicable common sense just don’t mix.

I’m not sure that I want to read ‘Road to Ruin’ but I probably will. What seems to give the book integrity and is compelling about Niki Savva’s writing is the number of sources who have gone on the record.

My thought for the day.

“A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds.”

 

Day to Day Politics: John Howard’s a bloody old Luddite.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

1 I think John Howard and I are almost the same age. We are both residents of the same country. It’s there that the similarities end. He is a Nationalist, I am an Internationalist.

“I was delighted with the result of the Brexit referendum,” he told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum in Sydney on Friday last. “The British people made the right decision. I saw that decision as being very much a cry for national sovereignty and control of their own affairs.”

He tried to deny that immigration was at the voter’s centre of attention.

“That wasn’t in my view a fundamental reason.”

He was no stranger to stoking the fires of nationalist hatred. His speech told us that he still has interest in the cultural wars being waged by his remaining acolytes.

“I think political correctness has become a problem in Western societies, we’ve become far too apologetic about our Western identity and anything that’s a sense of some kind of defence of cultural traditionalism or national identity is in many ways frowned upon.”

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war. Taking the fight up to the social progressives. Rallying the troops for another assault on marriage equality, climate change and a host of other things.

At a time when the world is screaming out for leaders like Angela Merkel or the suave modernity of Canada’s Justin Trudeau, we are instead having nationalists like Trump thrust upon us. In Australia it’s the likes of Pauline Hansen who trumpet the simplistic but popular nationalist theme, or the unadulterated hypocrisy of Malcolm Turnbull.

If John Howard had taken an in-depth look at the Brexit polling results he would have found that overwhelmingly the young voted to stay. The young look forward into a time that the leaders of today will never occupy and see things that our ageing leaders don’t.

They see a time when Climate Change will change the way society functions. They concern themselves with how jobs will be found for everyone. How water will be distributed and who will grow the food for an ever-increasing world population. They are more empathetic toward others and see a global world.  They don’t see the answers in a closed shop mentality of Trumpish nationalism. They see solutions to complex problems coming from cooperative internationalism.

The profile of Pauline Hansen supporters in Australia isn’t in the under 40s. It’s the elderly longing for an Australia that has passed them by. Protesting the changes that oddly have made our nation the success it is.

Allow me to digress. Last year I visited Melbourne to have lunch with a friend. When it became time to depart I had some time to spare so I purchased a bag of chips and a cup of coffee from a fast food outlet on Flinders Street station.

”Do you mind if I sit here I said to a young man with deep black purplish skin.”

I initiated conversation. He was a little reluctant at first but conversation soon flowed. He was from Somalia, learnt English here and had a familiar Aussie Accent. He was doing an Arts degree at Melbourne University. When he left to catch his train I sat and pondered the flowing mass of humanity that occupied the collective stations of Flinders street. Observation tells us much.

Sitting in my seat on the train the  station gradually disappeared and I contemplated the Flinders Street Station I remembered as a young boy working in Central Melbourne. You never saw a black face then. In fact it was a bland community compared to today’s diversity. My country has changed in many ways and I have been a recipient of all that so my cultures have deposited in our country.

When I think about Australian culture or values I am at a loss to explain. In what decade I think to myself. I would say that Australian culture cannot be described without using the word diversity. As to our values, well I guess they are the same as many other countries, freedom security and peace are universal. I am yet to hear the likes of Hansen adequately explain just what Australian culture is.

Our Culture has changed progressively since I was a lad. Some of my vintage have adapted and appreciated why change is necessary and we  are still true blue Aussies in every sense of the word.

With so many cultures we will increasingly become a melting pot of vast ethnic diversity. It will and is constantly changing. My belief is that new migrants can only be expected to meet the same standards that apply to the rest of us, obey the laws of the land and try to be good citizens. To be expected to replace one’s ethnicity with another overnight is simply unreasonable.

Young people know the issues, if not the politics, and the way forward is not by closing our doors with Nationalistic fever, but by being more open to the problems of the future, by being an open society.

Unlike me John Howard never learnt how to use a computer or the value of the internet. Still a Luddite.

”John Howard said Donald Trump’s election and Britain’s decision to quit the European Union demonstrated a global push for greater ”national sovereignty” that’s also affecting Australian politics.”

Two observations.

In terms of social activism. The word wait should never mean never.”

“A commitment to love and social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds'”

The push for “National Sovereignty” as Howard puts it, in large part, can be put down to the inequality he and other conservatives saw fit to impose on us.

2 Essential Media this week still has Labor 6 Points clear of the Coalition.

They have some interesting observations in the weekly surveys.

A Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to reduce current Sunday penalty rates paid in retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries?

32% approve of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to reduce current Sunday penalty rates and 56% disapprove.

Those most likely to approve were Liberal National voters (55%), men (40%) and aged 65+ (49%).

Those most likely to disapprove were Labor voters (74%), Greens voters (73%), women (63%) and aged 18-24 (64%).

B Q. What do you think will be the more likely result of cutting penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers?

57% think that the most likely result of cutting penalty rates will be that businesses will make bigger profits. 24% think businesses will employ more workers.

Those most likely to think businesses will make more profits were Labor voters (73%) and Greens voters (66%).

Those most likely to think businesses will employ more workers were Liberal National voters (42%) and aged 65+ (41%).

More interesting questions here.

3 I had an email from a friend

”I’ve a neighbour who supports Hansen.  He’s not a fool.  He knows he’s being fu%ked by the system and he’s angry.  His anger distorts his common sense.’’

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following (I was tempted to post the whole article):

Traditionally two-thirds of the American economy has relied on consumerism. Wages are still at levels they were 30 years ago. Even people on average wages require food stamps to survive. People no longer have disposable income to feed the hungry giant of consumerism.

In Australia a similar situation is developing. Wages growth is at an all-time low and the government seems intent on keeping them so. The problem though is that without wages growth consumers don’t have expendable income sufficient to meet consumer demand for goods and services. America has found that out. Conservatives don’t seem to comprehend that you may be able to obtain growth on the back of low wages but if the low wages prevent people from buying what you produce. You have defeated your purpose.

Revolutionised morally regulated capitalism could, if legislated and controlled enable everyone an equitable opportunity for economic success. With equality of opportunity being the benchmark of all economic aspiration and legislation. In America 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined?

None Union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs.

The incomes of the top 1% have increased exponentially since the GFC.

Conservative Republicans couldn’t care less.

The problem is the politics.

In Australia, although not yet at the same level as the US, inequality is manifesting itself in a similar fashion. At the end of Peter Costello’s tenure as treasurer he was asked why the rich had become 7% richer. His answer was to say that at least the poor had not become poorer. Joe Hockey said that:

“The bottom line is we have to lift the tide so that all boats rise.”

This is akin to Thatcher’s:

“The poor will be looked after by the drip down effect from the rich’.”Time has proven this a nonsense. So will Hockey’s.

The government’s actions since the 2013 election have been anything but an attempt to bridge the gap. To the contrary there has been an unashamedly concerted effort to take from those less well of (there is no need for me to list them) and give to the rich. And all indications suggest that this will continue with unabated irrationally.

 My thought for the day.

”The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow.”