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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: Whoops, their hypocrisy is showing badly.

Sunday 30 April 2017

1 Remember the phrase ”spending like a drunken sailor” and how the conservative parties aided and abetted by the power of the Murdoch press would shout their gutter vile comments about debt and deficit? Here are a few examples. It’s been going on for years.

“Skyrocketing deb out of control.”

“We will not leave budget problems for another day knowing the truth means we can get on with building investment.”

“We are absolutely determined to get the economy moving again.”

“What we will see today is the sad truth that six years of Labor fiscal profligacy has given us cumulative deficits in order of a quarter of a trillion dollars.”

“The repair job started from day one obviously with the election of the new government but it accelerates from today given that we will see the full extent of Labor’s debt. Mr Hockey questioned whether he would live to ever again see the budget in surplus, such was the scale of the fiscal mess he claimed had been left by the former Labor government.”

”Labor’s debt and deficit disaster.”

Ministers from Tony Abbott down love to note that we are paying ”a billion dollars a month” in interest on our debt, and that they inherited a ”record” amount of debt.

The Australian newspaper even produced a Debt Clock.It also said:

”it’s a no-brainer: the Liberals are better at managing Australia’s finances than Labor.”

”History tells us it has been the job of our side of politics to rebuild the damage done by Labor governments. it is only a Coalition Government that can manage our public finances properly and restore the nation to prosperity.” (Malcolm Turnbull, leader of the opposition, 17 July 2009).

”We inherited Labor’s massive debt”

”This government will deliver Australia’s economic future because only a Coalition government can. As Liberals and Nationals, sound economic management is in our DNA. We’ve done it before and we are doing it again.” (Tony Abbott).

As I type it’s hard not to burst out laughing. The media have never given the Coalition the smack in the face it gave Labor.

History tells us that THEY HAVE NOW OFFICIALLY DOUBLED IT.

Remember how the “grown-ups,” the lifelong born to rule managers of money said they would fix the problem because they, and only they could manage the economy? Oh yes, the Abbott/Turnbull government were big on rhetoric over a long period of time but not so big on delivery when it came to reducing the debt. They have officially doubled it.

In doing so they have destroyed one of the most commonly held beliefs in Australian politics, namely, that the Coalition are better economic managers than Labor.

Now on the eve of the 2017/18 Budget the Treasurer has done a triple backflip with pike in announcing that the government would create a demarcation between good debt and bad debt. Something Chris Bowen, Labor, and sensible economists have been encouraging for some time.

But how fortuitous for the Treasurer. Now he can explain all of his mistakes with the “good debt, bad debt” tag. How simple.

Let’s face it, it’s a good idea in a pure economic sense. Well except for who is deciding what is and what isn’t bad debt. It’s just a pity that they have taken four years to get to this point.

Former RBA governor Glenn Stevens said the economy would only be pulled out if its malaise if ”someone, somewhere, has both the balance sheet capacity and the willingness to take on more debt and spend”.

”Let me be clear that I am not advocating an increase in deficit financing of day-to-day government spending,” Mr Stevens said.

”The case for governments being prepared to borrow for the right investment assets – long-lived assets that yield an economic return – does not extend to borrowing to pay pensions, welfare and routine government expenses, other than under the most exceptional circumstances.”

Borrowing when rates are rock bottom it makes absolute sense and if it rids us of the Australian myth that all government debt is bad then it’s a good thing. Anthony Albanese has been advocating it for years.

For the Government it’s like a sleight of hand trick. It will be able to borrow money whereas once their adversity to borrowing and going into debt was anathema to them and their followers. I wonder how they will react.

But like commongoodism, who decides what it is? It’s the ideology that worries me. It can certainly be used to decide what debt is good or what conversely is bad and get it wrong both ways. There should be a few arguments about that.

Could it be used to justify the government borrowing for the Adani mine? Is it a good debt for example?

An observation.

”With the Adani mine likely to take some years to start production and renewable energy technology moving ahead at the speed of light why would any lending institution risk lending to an industry heading in the opposite direction.”

 As Paul Kelly in The Monthly points out:

”In other words, the Coalition is setting itself up for a political future in which the supposedly politically neutral document of the budget designates Coalition-friendly spending as ”good” and Labor-friendly spending as ”bad”.

The Government is positioning itself up to be able to say that its debt is good debt and that if Labor wants to borrow in its traditional areas of spending such as education, health and welfare, then that’s bad debt. Where, for example, would the National Disability Insurance Scheme fit in all this? Could not a case be made that a long-term investment in it would be good debt? What about borrowing money for a better educated society. Or making kids pay 25% more for University fees. Is that good or bad debt that they will be incurring.

This is an economic budget game changer with many ramifications. The Government will borrow money to build and own Sydney’s second airport.

Yes, they are now going socialist. The Government is also giving away its advantage in calling Labor bad economic managers unless they can prove the bad debt tag. And what about machines of war. Where do we place them?

As a friend said:

“Liberal logic: spending $1 billion on #Adani coal mine is good, spending $500 million to save Aussie car industry is bad”

The May 2017 Budget will make a distinction between “good” and “bad” debt. This decision, not without merit, will further enshrine in conservative ideology the thought that the poor will be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich without any understanding of the needs of a cohesive society other than capital.

Good luck with that.

An observation.

”The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages… It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” (Robert Kennedy, 1968).

2 In admitting that he was surprised the job of President would be so hard Trump has shown an ignorance beyond belief. Life wasn’t meant to be easy.

3 Now I know. I have been wondering all week just what it is that Yassmin Abdel-Magied had said to get everyone upset.

”LEST. WE. FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine …)” That’s it. That’s the whole thing in a nutshell.

And for saying what amounts to a plea that while you are honouring those who have fallen for your country could you also give a little thought to the suffering elsewhere.

Now as If the preposterous vitriol towards her isn’t bad enough, some idiot is now asking Minister Dutton to revoke her citizenship! Ah Australian values and free speech remain a mystery to me .

4 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

Instead of being proactive the Government seems to be reacting to everything. It’s still true.

My thought for the day.

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy on not fighting the old but on building the new.”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump Report No. 14

And so it has come to pass that Trump, as those with any brains knew all along, was simply full of hot air. It’s easy of course when campaigning to sound tough and to make the most outrageous promises in the knowledge that you probably won’t keep them. That governing is much more difficult than campaigning.

The Mexican wall is but one example. Mexico will pay for it he boasted. Of course they wouldn’t, but he sounds tough. Then he tries to get congress to allocate the funds. They won’t of course. The symbolism of the wall was the embodiment of the man himself. It reflected his every thought on how a society could be manipulated. How others should conform to the greatest nation on earth. It showed how he could humiliate others. It reflected his xenophobia and impressed those who felt the same humiliation themselves. But the fence will never be built.

It didn’t seem to matter that polls consistently recorded that 60 per cent of Americans didn’t want  the wall and that a wall along 3200 kilometres of the border is utterly impractical

I will destroy Obamacare he shouted without the faintest idea about what he would replace it with. He tried to make the poor pay but that didn’t work either.

Now he wants to dramatically reduce taxes, also without the faintest idea of how to fund it.

Of course all of this makes no difference to his followers who will say ”Oh well he tried” and go on believing in his simple solutions to complex problems.

He has ripped up trade agreements left right and centre. The latest being the US, Canada and Mexico one. Then last week despite appointing Exxon-Mobil’s chief executive officer, Rex Tillerson as his secretary of state he rejected a request from Exxon-Mobil to get a waiver to explore energy exploration in the Black Sea.

And in his madness that force is the answer to everything he decided to fire 59 tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase, following an alleged Syrian gas attack on rebel populations. It probably was but no concrete evidence that it was the Syrian’s has ever been revealed.

After saying that he and Putin would be good for each other relations with Russia have reached an all-time low.

The courts have twice rejected his much-modified and controversial travel ban that would apply to Muslim-majority countries. He thought he was above all this nonsense but he found out otherwise.

He said no one was interested in his tax returns but unsurprisingly that’s not the case. I guess with his intended massive tax cuts the family fortune will receive a boost. At no point has he attempted to address the many conflicts of interest his business empire poses.

The tax cuts will cost $2 trillion and economists say they are “basically a huge tax cut for the rich”. Including Donald. Even his own party is asking him to reveal his tax returns but he is adamant that he won’t. What business is it of theirs?

”As well as slashing costs for his own businesses, the new proposals will also cut the alternative minimum tax (AMT), a tax designed to stop the super-wealthy from taking so many tax deductions that they avoid paying anything. Leaked documents have shown that in 2005 Trump paid $31m in tax thanks to the AMT.”

It would not only be Trump who would benefit from the tax cuts. Remember his cabinet is the richest in history and contains a couple of billionaires.

He has been found wanting in terms of the intricacies of policy and how it is developed. More often than not policy is presented on a single sheet of paper.

He is still hostile to the media and continues to tweet his mindless thoughts at random. Falsehoods pore from his lips like milk through a straw. Everything is fake news that doesn’t agree with him while at the same time he is the greatest contributor to it. His Press Secretary has proven to be out of his depth with his Hitler comment and other gaffes.

Of course he was going to wipe out ISIS but may need more time which is something the Middle East is not short of.

Trump has lambasted opinion polls showing he has a low approval rating, calling the media outlets publishing them ”fake”.

The ABC News/Washington Post survey released on Sunday revealed that just 42 per cent of Americans approve of the way he is doing his job as president so far. The lowest since Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953. His disapproval rating of 53 per cent is 14 points higher than former President Bill Clinton’s highest disapproval rating in April 1993, which was the worst such figure until the current administration.

Trumps answer to this was to tweet that:

”New polls out today are very good considering that much of the media is FAKE and almost always negative. Would still beat Hillary in …..”  He seems to have forgotten that Hillary won the popular vote by 3 million.

April 29 signals his first 100 days in power. Our Prime Minister has judged him kindly saying that he trusts the judgement of the President which says more about his judgement than the Presidents.

As time passes and people see that all the rhetoric of his campaign was that of a con man selling hot air. However, it well may be that Trump  is the experience that America had to have. One that will bring them back to the sanity of a former time. One that might ”make America great again”.

My thought for the day.

“Some countries make a habit of institutionalising mediocre minds”.

 

Day to Day Politics: Dutton’s defenceless bullshit.

Thursday 27 April 2017

1 As if his outrageous lies of the past few days weren’t enough. He now calls on the defence of not releasing classified information.

”I receive confidential briefings, I receive classified information from the commissioner of the Australian Border Force and the department, and I am not going to release that information publicly,”

The differing versions of events are so profound that  it is incumbent on the Prime Minister to step in and get to the truth of the matter.

As I said yesterday, at another time in our political history, Mr Dutton would no longer be a Minister. However, the Conservative leader is so weak he cannot say anything LET ALONE SACK HIM.

But Dutton is so outraged that people, who would not just take his word for It, that  he describes people like me, who dare question his integrity. as ”fringe dwellers of the internet.” He demands we apologise because we exercise our right to know.

Having a born to rule mentality is one thing but a born to own the truth is another. Truth is truth as facts are facts, immovable and unquestionable.

When, key statements from key people are not consistent with the events in question then in the name of democracy we are entitled to search for the truth.

Such is the case of the latest troubling incident on Manus Island. Thus far Dutton remains unconvincing with regards to his version of events and to plead the “I can’t tell you because it’s classified information” excuse is beyond belief. It implies that he is not telling the truth.

As a minister of the crown he should know that he is accountable for what he says but it seems his arrogance has got in the way of this immutable obligation in a functional democracy. It may well may be that alternative facts and post truth is taking over society but it hasn’t caught up with me.

I demand to know the truth. If the Minister has facts that the public is unaware of then he should come clean and release them. Or the Prime Minister should demand that he does.

And to think this man is being looked on as an alternate Prime Minister.

If Dutton is the answer what on earth is the question?

The Guardian has published a Timeline of the Manus Island events. You can read them here.

Victoria Rollison in her open letter to the Prime Minister, on this Blog said this.

”This week you’ve made the call, through saying nothing at all, by hiding away, by pretending you don’t need to comment, to support your Immigration Minister Dutton’s blatant lies, designed to demonise asylum seekers by accusing them of paedophilia. We all know it’s messy for you to call Dutton out, to say he’s lied, to take responsibility for sacking him as Immigration Minister; he’s just as dangerous to you as Abbott. But Malcolm, just because something is messy and hard and takes a bit of bravery, doesn’t mean you need to rule it out. Were you never told as a child that nothing worthwhile was ever easy?”

In breaking news overnight Fairfax reports that.

The three refugees accused by Peter Dutton of triggering the Good Friday rampage by PNG soldiers at the Manus Island detention centre have emphatically denied any wrongdoing in a signed statement.

In a formal complaint against what they claim is the Immigration Minister’s “false accusation”, the three have requested CCTV footage of them taking a local boy into the centre be released.

“We didn’t do anything wrong except helping a poor boy,” the three write in the complaint, lodged with Wilson Security and Australian Border Force and seen by Fairfax Media. “We need investigation ASAP.”

Mr Dutton has suggested the trio intended to sexually assault the boy and maintains the incident created angst and elevated tensions among locals who live and work on the Navy base that surrounds the detention centre.

More to come.

An observation.

”Truth is pure yet fragile and requires delicacy in delivery. There are however times when it needs some diplomatic force to make it register”.

2 Might I take this opportunity to wish Cory Bernardi every success with his new conservative party? I will be absolutely delighted if he succeeds in splitting the conservative vote. Joining with the fundamentalist Assemblies of God – Family First Party founded by Pastor Andrew Evans makes a lot of sense. They are all opposed to science as we know it.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation apparently declined on the basis that it wasn’t a minor party. Just big-headed.

Now we have the Liberal Party the National Party One Nation and The Conservative Party. And the difference is?

3 In response to my piece about Commongoodism on Tuesday Stephen Tardrew posted this comment on Facebook. I thought it worthy of greater exposure.

“Once again I borrow from good friend and excellent political analyst John Lord at AIMN. John poses questions I would not normally consider writing about so a big thank you John. In his latest Day to Day Politics he states the following.

“I ask myself if the isms of left and right have gone past their used by dates? Many questions arise. Do they suffer from the tiredness of longevity? Is there a possibility that a new politic could emerge from the ashes of our broken democracy.”

Repost: John I think it is time to recognise there is no such thing as an individual since without society, community, reciprocity, sharing and caring the individual would be alienated and deeply pathological. Solitary confinement is torture as the concept of the individual is a type of social alienation that leads to fear of the other and unjustifiable accumulation of immense wealth while others starve, suffer and die.

The individual is a myth.

The only true individual would be one that was totally self-sufficient without family or friends. In essence most people would go mad if they were not part of a network of practical interactions, beliefs and ideas. It is how we shape those beliefs and ideas that matter. Once more science raises its practical head demonstrating that a species needs fitness in survival skills, cooperation and mutuality as Darwin would have readily admitted.

The individual is a subjective concept driven by fear of poverty, hardship and death yet the society is a functional material complex of mutual support and interdependence. Without compliant workers capitalists would have none of their benefits. Unfortunately we are driven by an out of balance autonomic nervous system geared more to fight and flight rather than reasoned practicality. The feed forward pathways from amygdala to pre-frontal lobe are dense whereas the feedback pathways are sparse so we have to put cognitive effort into constraining our subconscious autonomic fearful drives. Ignorant politicians and religious ideologues are skilled at using these poorly developed pathways to frighten and cajole people into acting against their best interest. My hope is if we can get a practical handle upon the biological processes we could more effectively frame the political narrative.

Religion, magic and mythology allow us to distort our subjective wishes hopes and desires regardless of the practical facts that stare us in the face. Believe in your metaphysical archetype however do it from the practicality of a science based paradigm that demonstrably proves we need each other as well as functional societies that constrain greed and wealth accumulation through adequate regulation and legislation.

The right have so distorted the facts and the left fallen into their trap that we do not have a viable alternative to neoliberal and neoconservative empire building, war, entrenched inequality and biosphere destruction. Only a pathological society would continue headlong towards disaster and if we do not get control of our primitive fearful drives more of the same will ensue.

No there is no such thing as an individual and in a practical sense every person is a necessary artefact of evolutionary potentiality and there is no guarantee that the wealthy and successful are any more valuable than the poor and marginalised. Evolution does not chose it is value neutral values come from human self-reference which, if distorted by visceral fears, driven by magic, mythology, prejudice, and gross inequality, lead to self-harm and environmental destruction. Poverty in this sense is a human construct.

We can and should do much better however the deep subconscious manipulation by the wealthy and their media acolytes portends badly for the immediate future. It is a fight we are going to have to have.’’

My thought for the day.

“Art in all its forms is but a reflection of society”.

 

Day to Day Politics: Oh for some “commongoodism”.

Wednesday 26 April 2017

As an unashamed idealist I have always thought that at the centre of any political philosophy should be the ”common good”. In saying this my thoughts often drift toward a better way of doing politics and the term “commongoodism” is central to my internal debate. It sounds idealistic, this common good, and it may not in itself be suited to all political persuasions but it is worthy of examination.

Conservatives for example may never be able to overcome their dislike of equality. It is probably more acceptable to the left than the right. But politics after all is about ideas and compromise.

I ask myself if the isms of left and right have gone past their used by dates? Many questions arise. Do they suffer from the tiredness of longevity? Is there a possibility that a new politic could emerge from the ashes of our broken democracy.

Can a society deeply entrenched in political negativity and malaise, rise with a renewed interest in the common good, and still retain the essential ingredients of a vigorous democracy where a wide-ranging common good test could be applied to all policy. Even have a caveat placed on it.

Have left and right so fused into each other that they no longer form a demarcation of ideas? Could the ideologies of the two somehow come together to form this commongoodism? Who would decide the common good? How could one define it? Could capitalism embrace the common good or would it need a complete rethink?

Could conservatism which empathises individual responsibility and opportunity embrace it? What would common good values be? Some might even say there is no such thing.

That’s all a bit like political scrambled eggs I know but they are the sort of philosophical questions I ask myself on my daily walks. You see that although I still value my leftish views I do really believe that modern political thought and practice needs to move beyond narcissistic self-interest and the attainment of power for its own sake. Both sides are guilty of this.

And not just nationally but internationally. But particularly in Australia where politics no longer meets the needs or aspirations of the people and is held in such low esteem that politicians are barely relevant.

I have long felt that the political establishment has taken ownership of a system that should serve the people but instead serves itself. It is self-indulgent, shows no respect for the people it serves and lacks transparency. These thoughts I know challenge established political thinking. They may even be controversial, but politics, as we currently practice it has no future as I see it.

There I have finished my dummy spit, my dose of idealistic medicine.

“The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” (Winston Churchill).

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages…  It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom or our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile” (Robert Kennedy)

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip don effect from the rich” (Maggie Thatcher, paraphrased).

My thought for the day.

”Science has made in my lifetime the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society. The only areas that I can think of where science is questioned is in the religious fever of climate change doubters, conservative politics and unconventional religious belief”

 

 

Social Democracy and Capitalism: A Critique

Written by Dr Tristan Ewins, published by John Lord.

Capitalism and its benefits

“Restoring ‘a traditional social democratic mixed economy’ is part of the solution to current economic maladies ; but at the same time it is only the beginning of the journey…”

1) Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production, exploitation of labour by Capital, and markets as vehicles for distribution and exchange.

2) Capitalism has benefits and failures; which can be maximised or ameliorated via economic policy, and by the struggles of ordinary people for justice

3) Capitalism as we know it has the benefit of promoting innovation through the dynamics of competition; The competitive market system drives capitalists to innovate and respond to the intricacies of consumer demand. It also leads to the development of the means of production.

4) Capitalism also has the benefit of driving efficiency and productivity gains via those same dynamics of competition

Capitalism’s Flaws

5) But Capitalism’s failures include the following

Canadian economist Jim Stanford estimates that ‘the capitalist class’ of top owners and management dominates control of the economy despite only comprising about 2 per cent of the population. This has implications for the viability and meaningfulness of democracy.

Capitalism has also always involved a ‘business cycle; characterised by fluctuations in consumer demand and investor confidence. This could be sparked by the collapse of investment bubbles and the spread of ‘bad debts’; and in response to the use of interest rates to contain inflation , or because of ‘supply shocks’. (eg: the Oil Shocks of the 1970s). And these crises spread in the context of world capitalism because of increasing global economic interdependence. At its worst this has occurred in the context of Depression , and more recently with the Global Financial Crisis. These were only eventually overcome in the context of stimulus , government guarantees and other interventions , and in the past (eg: WWII and post-war reconstruction) also because of the ‘boost’ provided by rearmament and war.   The Great Depression put paid to the economic Liberal argument that ‘perfectly free markets’ ensured the full mobilisation of all ‘factors of production’. Arguably the right kinds of stimulus, intervention and regulation can reduce the severity and duration of the associated downturns.   This includes what Keynesians call ‘demand management’.  Downturns are a good time to invest in infrastructure, for instance ; though there are arguments to invest in productivity and quality-of-life enhancing infrastructure outside of that context as well.  Indeed stimulus can create ‘a multiplier effect’, creating jobs indirectly as well as directly.  But government (or ‘the people’) should not shoulder all the costs and risks, here ; with little in return.  Some of the concerns socialised to restore stability during the GFC should arguably have remained socialised.

6) Left to its own logic capitalism leads to economic monopolisation or oligopolism – which in turn can lead to the abuse of market power.  It also leads to systemic inequality. Though this can be ameliorated through labour activism, labour market regulation, progressive tax , and the social wage and welfare systems.  And also by competition policy ; or enforcement of competition via Government Business Enterprises with charters on promoting competition. Again, though, the ‘capitalist class’ as such comprises only 2 per cent of the population ; and yet has the power directly or indirectly to veto any public policy through destabilisation and/or a ‘capital strike’.  Unless ‘the people’ are sufficiently conscious and organised to oppose those strategies.

7) Nation States also pursue their economic interests attempting to extend their economic sphere of influence through control of – and access to -markets in other countries (including key strategic resources) ; or in the past through more direct expansionism.  This can involve military force or economic and cultural pressure ; and was described by the British liberal social theorist John.A.Hobson as “Imperialism” ; a term which was then seized upon by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin to explain the First World War.

8) Marxists once believed in ‘absolute pauperisation’  and ‘absolute bifurcation’  under capitalism; with the destruction of the middle classes through the dominance of monopoly capital and the inability of small business to compete.  In reality the ‘middle classes’ have re-emerged in diverse forms.  Via the professional classes ; via emerging small businesses in new industries where monopolies have not yet consolidated ; and more recently as contractors who compete against each other to provide goods and services for monopoly capital , or in other contexts via small jobs for private consumers and households. Meanwhile, the working class generally includes all wage labourers – skilled and unskilled, manual and mental.  The wealthy , and Ideological economic Liberals and capitalists, try to play the middle classes off  against the working classes and the disadvantaged.  As well as playing the working classes off against the most vulnerable with ‘anti-welfare’ narratives ; and using narratives around ‘political correctness’ as a wedge against the progressive liberal, social democratic and socialist Left.  Also capitalists try and play manual labourers against intellectual labourers ; appealing to intellectual labourers that they are ‘middle class’. (and hence do not share the same interests)  In democracies the challenge is to build a stable progressive electoral bloc to fight this.  Swedish sociological theorist Walter Korpi referred to a ‘democratic class struggle’. Arguably Labor could do better to consolidate its support bases around the working classes and the vulnerable by playing more directly to their interests and challenging dominant Ideological themes; while maintaining the support of middle class liberals.

9)  Current emphasis on ‘no real wage rises without productivity improvements’ leaves some labour-intensive professions (eg: cleaners) with little or no prospect of a real wage rise, ever.  That is: without increases in the intensity of labour – a disturbing notion given we are already talking about some people who are engaged in hard and demanding physical work. Hence the creation of effective poverty traps. Workers in other areas like Primary and Secondary Teaching would also be hard pressed to achieve ‘productivity gains’.  It also leads to absurd scenarios ; for example in higher education ; with academics measured by  their ‘academic output’ ; often excluding deep thought and study of particular areas ; and getting in the way of good teaching.

The Imperative of Capitalist Expansion; and the Associated Waste

10) Capitalism involves a dynamic of expansion ; Its survival depends on it.  Waste at various points in the production process means capitalism must continually expand into new markets – or more thoroughly exploit old markets – to remain viable.  That waste includes cost structure duplication because of competition, and also the cost of continual revolutionisation of the means of production to maintain competitiveness.  There are also areas of unnecessary costs in areas such as marketing, dividends, executive salaries, and so on.  Getting rid of this waste and duplication could arguably be qualitatively good for the economy, and for consumers : freeing resources to be deployed elsewhere.  Decisions need to be made as to where natural public monopolies are viable (eg: transport and communications infrastructure) ; as well as where existing corporate competition (eg: Samsung versus Apple) actually does drive innovation which improves peoples’ lives.

11) There is also extensive waste in other areas.  For example the fast food industry involves enormous waste ; and domestic food consumption alone also involves $8 billion of waste every year.  But approximately 2 million Australians depend on food aid every year.  Also there is the spectre of planned obsolescence (for instance white goods and electricals): that is, things are not made to last because that ‘would be bad for business’.  This might warrant some kind of regulation re: minimum warrantee length for said electricals, whitegoods and so on.

12) But also there are limits to how far capitalism can succeed by extending its reach into new markets or more thoroughly exploiting old ones ; Over the past century capitalism has driven greater labour market participation: for instance that of women.  It has integrated most of the world economy also.  Now capitalists are demanding changes which grate against social democratic principles, interests and values.  This led to what social theorist Jurgen Habermas called a ‘Legitimation Crisis’.  That is, capitalism could not or would not deliver any longer on the post-WWII social democratic historic compromise.  This was dealt with in the form of attacks of social democratic Ideology ; that is – convincing people to renounce their own social and industrial rights on the basis that neo-liberalism, greater inequality, privatisation, and austerity were ‘natural’, ‘inevitable’ and according to Margaret Thatcher that ‘There is no Alternative’. (‘TINA’)  This also involved twisted Ideological narratives of individualism and meritocracy which ‘naturalised’ and justified inequality and exploitation.

13) In response to the systemic imperative to expand into new markets – or more thoroughly exploit old ones – capitalists are demanding increases in labour intensity, longer working lives, and longer working days.  Capitalists are also pushing down on wages, conditions, welfare, the social wage and so on – to ‘create room’ for profits.

14) But this creates as many problems as it solves. Cutting welfare, the social wage, and so on may provide a short, local boost to profits of particular enterprises.  But it also reduces consumer demand and consumer confidence , and probably increases the costs of crime.  As well there is an intensification of inequality, and a hit to quality of life.  We are producing more on this planet than ever; and yet we are told we most work longer and harder ; and not simply enjoy the benefits of greatly improved productivity in some areas.  Also capitalist measures of production (eg: GDP) often take no account of social capital, and the benefits of voluntary work, and ‘intangibles’ (to capitalism) such as free time, happiness and the environment.

15) Left to its own logic capitalism creates great inequality. Certain social democratic policies can ameliorate this without a full transition to a qualitatively different economic system or mode of production.  (which is not currently an option)  Though we should not feel inhibited in imagining alternatives ; and discussing where current problems could ultimately lead.

Socialisation and the Welfare State could still  ‘Save Capitalism from Itself’

16) Firstly, a bigger public sector can actually be ‘good for capitalism’ to a significant degree.   Reversion to natural public monopolies in several areas could reduce cost structures, creating efficiencies which flow on to the broader economy.  This includes in communications, transport infrastructure, energy, water, and potentially with a single public-sector job search and welfare agency.  Cost structures would be reduced because of a cut in waste, duplication and unnecessary or inappropriate competition (eg: in energy) ; as well as because of a superior cost of borrowing for Government.  Again there are some areas (eg: energy) where ‘competition’ is ‘anti-intuitive’ for consumers ; and confusion leads to abuse of market power by energy retailers.  For policy makers there is also the danger of nepotism through the privatisation process ; including Public Private Partnerships which facilitate the ‘fleecing’ of consumers.

17) Secondly ; while capitalism needs to expand into new markets to survive, at the same time it undermines itself insofar as in its current form it is failing to create full time work for all those who want it. It is also failing to create full employment for all who want it; and indeed depends on ‘a reserve army of labour’ to discipline workers into accepting its demands on wages and conditions.  Proactive industry policies should endeavour to create full employment , and full-time employment for all who want it.  This involves the more thorough exploitation of old markets and well as taking advantage of new ones.  And with real creativity government can act as ‘employer of last resort’ through programs which provide for genuine social goods ; not merely pointless schemes ‘painting rocks’ and the like.

18) Further, strategic government business enterprises in areas like banking, general insurance, medical insurance – could counter attempts by private oligopolies to exploit their market power and fleece consumers.  That would mean more disposable income for average consumers upon whose demand the economy depends.

19) Finally, as the Nordics have shown, growing the social wage and welfare state is also good for people ; good for the economy. Greater equality can mean greater happiness ; and also greater consumer demand – as those on lower incomes spend a greater portion of their income.

Through these strategies capitalism can be made ‘more survivable, more fair, and more stable’.  These do not provide a final answer for capitalist instability and injustice.  But ‘with no way out’ for now to a qualitatively better system of production the amelioration provided by such responses is crucial for those who will have to live and work under capitalism.

Better Outcomes for Consumers, Workers, Taxpayers…

20) The Social Wage and Welfare State can also contribute to happiness and well-being by providing a living income for the disadvantaged and vulnerable , and support for carers.  The social wage, welfare state, and other areas of state provision (eg: infrastructure) can also provide a vehicle for ‘collective consumption’ by taxpayers via the tax system – providing much better value for money than were the associated goods and services purchased by atomised, private consumers.  As already alluded to ; the same applies in relation to ‘collective consumption’ with regard natural public monopolies re: certain infrastructure and services ; and in areas of health, education and so on.  Even if people pay more tax over the short term, they end up better off – with more disposable income after non-negotiable needs are provided for.

The social wage and welfare state demand higher taxes as a proportion of the economy ; but for the reasons stated actually tend to leave most people materially-better-off.  And with more choice ; that is, more purchasing power – not less – after essentials are provided for.

Democratic Socialists and Social Democrats must look to the best tax mix also. The overall tax mix must be progressively structured.  Arguably for fairness corporations and the wealthy must pay more ; as far as it can be sustained. If there are consumption taxes, for example (perhaps to prevent tax evasion), the bad distributive effects of this must be fully offset through progressive taxes and social wage measures elsewhere.  A bigger role for progressive income taxes, taxes on dividends, taxes on wealth and capital – is desirable.  Social security, welfare and the social wage (perhaps including a guaranteed minimum income) must raise the ‘floor’ of inequality as high as can be fairly sustained. (that is, higher minimum wages, including the effect of the social wage)  Currently there is exploitation of the low paid and unreasonable inequality in the labour market and in wealth ownership ; but there are arguments that reasonable reward for effort, unpleasant labour, past study and skill – should be factored in. (as most people accept)  There should be much less inequality ; but some inequality is justified even under democratic socialism.

Tax can also comprise a ‘lever’ for gradual socialisation over the long term in strategic areas of the economy.

Finally the broad Left and Centre-Left cannot morally abide by a system which uses the threat of descent into an ‘underclass’, or classes of ‘utterly destitute’ and ‘working poor’ – as a way of ‘disciplining’ other workers. Neither can we tolerate ‘middle income’ demographics having their material living standards (interpreted here as material consumption) rest upon exploitation of the working poor. What is needed is broader solidarity to the point where there is no class of working poor or utterly destitute.

21) As well the social wage and welfare state can provide the following:  High quality, comprehensive universal health care for all ; Providing  high quality Education for all – including education for personal growth, political literacy,  and hence preparation for active and informed citizenship; as well as education to meet the demands of the economy and the labour market.  Other important areas include public and social housing, legal aid , child care, financial services, access to information and communications services and technology , assistance for equity groups , Public sector media such as ABC and SBS with charters to maximise participation, support extensive pluralism, support local culture ; Broader support for diverse local culture, recreation, sport, and so on.  Creating ‘the good society’ involves more than ‘hands off’ and ‘leave it to the market’. New needs are also always arising as the economy and technology develop.

22) Further; there is a growing push for a ‘guaranteed minimum income’ for all ; which makes sense given the looming problem of distributing the productivity gains of future automation ; But also providing a ‘basic floor’ below which no citizen will be allowed to fall.

Automation is inevitable and governments must intervene to ensure the full economic benefits are passed on to workers and consumers.

23) The emerging economy should provide flexibility where possible on workers’ terms. Again; those wanting part-time work should be so provided. And those wanting full-time work should be so provided. All people should have the prospect of a fulfilling life; with a mix of varied manual and intellectual labour. There should be scope to devote time to personal growth; including creative labour, study and recreation. Industry and labour market policies must aim to update skills, and also strive to nurture new industries which draw on existing skill sets where jobs have been lost.

24) As Professor Andrew Scott explains in his work ‘Northern Lights’, the Danes have a policy they call ‘flexicurity’. Rather than focusing narrowly on ‘flexibility for employers to dismiss workers’, the Danes also emphasised ‘the provision of generous unemployment benefits for those who lose their jobs’ and ‘the provision of substantial and effective Active Labour Market Programmes (ALMPs), [with] quality training to help unemployed people gain new skills for new jobs …’  (Andrew Scott, p. 135, (pp. 152, 154-55).  By contrast Australia suffers ‘the lowest level of unemployment benefits in the OECD for a single person recently unemployed.’  Furthermore, ‘Work for the Dole’ programmes are punitive and provide little in the way of relevant skills for job placement. (Andrew Scott ; pp. 136-38). Denmark’s active labour market programmes are expensive says Scott, but are worth the investment in radically higher workforce participation. Achieving an economy which operates at ‘full bore’ – as the Swedes achieved for a significant time – also means more revenue for social programs. Industry policies ensuring more high wage employment also enhanced those outcomes.

25) The Housing Affordability Crisis is driving an economic wedge between Housing Market Investors, Home Owners, and those struggling to (or unable to) purchase their own homes. Simply releasing new land (the traditional Liberal ‘solution’) is not a viable answer unless services and infrastructure investment matches it. Large public and social housing investments in growth and transport corridors could increase supply, however, and if introduced in phases may be able to ‘deflate’ the boom without a ‘crash’.  Labor’s negative gearing policies would also mean less competition between first  home buyers and housing portfolio investors. Again, combined with increased investment in public housing, and implemented properly, it should be possible to ‘deflate’ the bubble without a crash.   Public housing construction should  involve expansion of ( largely ‘non-clustered’) public housing stock to at least 10% of total  stock over several terms of Labor Government. ‘Non clustered’ stock aims to avoid traditional stigma against public housing, as well as the creation of poverty ghettos. Though there is the opposing argument that (implemented properly ; with the right infrastructure and services) clustered housing can create thriving communities.

26) There are those who argue capitalism cannot deal with looming environmental crises. As a system based upon growth and the production of ever-more consumer goods, with a ‘growing environmental footprint’, there are reasons to take these claims seriously. That said: renewable technologies are advancing. And information, culture and service industries – if emphasised – could involve much less of an ‘environmental footprint’. A guided shift of emphasis to those industries could be key to environmental sustainability. At the same time, though, we want to remain an economy which ‘makes things’. Manufacturing will remain necessary; and working conditions in manufacturing tend to assist the organisation of labour. But we do not know yet just how far automation will go. Automation could be good for people in their capacity as consumers, but bad for organised labour.

The Big Picture and ‘The Good Society’

27) Finally, Labor needs a vision of ‘the good society’  which includes redistribution and rights of labour – including labour market regulation (with an increased minimum wage); but at the same time goes further. Marxism involved an implied moral critique of exploitation. But also of what was called ‘alienation’; that is, the impact of physically onerous, repetitive and/or mentally punishing labour. And the lack of creative control workers enjoyed over their labours, and the products of their labours. This ‘alienation’ could be addressed partly through increased free time for workers in such demanding areas. And increased opportunities to explore such diverse areas as philosophy,  science, art, and leisure. Though Marx also envisaged a time when fulfilling labour would ‘become life’s prime want’. ‘Automation’ could actually create opportunities here IF implemented properly.

Also Labor should have an appreciation both of the importance of constitutional liberal democracy; but also of its limits. Democracy needs to be extended into production and work.  This could involve support for diverse models of co-operative enterprise and mutualism – on both large and small scales. Not only would this model by-pass exploitation: it could also provide workers with creative control over their labours; including the kind of intimate control and identification that may go with co-operative small businesses (eg: co-operative cafes). Furthermore, mutualist and co-operative associations could contribute to full employment in a situation  driven by contextual human need, and not only ‘share value maximisation’ – which is the modus operandi for capitalism-as-we-know-it.

Large scale co-operative and mutualist associations could also occupy crucial points in the economy in areas like health, motor insurance, and general insurance, and  credit/banking.  Government could play a central role of ‘facilitation’, here) Strategic ‘multi-stakeholder’ co-operatives could also be created through co-operation between Government, Regions, and workers.   That model might have been applied in the case of SPC-Ardmona ; and may even have been applied (much more ambitiously) to save Australia’s car industry.  Ambitious ‘mutli-stakeholder co-operatives’ should be considered by Governments, Workers and Regions for the future.

Other options for economic democracy include: growing the public sector, promoting ‘democratic collective capital formation’ (for example, like the Swedish ‘Meidner wage earner funds plan’) – though perhaps inclusive of all citizens and not only workers.  As well as ‘co-determination’ (worker reps on company boards). Sovereign Wealth Funds or Pension Funds also socialise wealth and investment, and could be crucial to fund expenditure and investments (eg: infrastructure) into the future.

Superannuation is entrenched now, and provided for peoples’ retirement without the political problems of raising taxes. It was seen as having democratic potential; but it also had problems of reinforcing inequality in retirement (also affecting women); requiring low income workers to make contributions they could not afford; and reinforcing the capitalist focus on share value maximisation regardless of other need. Arguably pensions need to be more generous and broad-based; but the superannuation system may lead to the marginalisation of the Aged Pension into the future.

In conclusion; we should talk of capitalism and not only ‘neo-liberalism’. Because to name capitalism is to make it relative. And one day the way may open for something better to become possible. At the end of the day all wealth does derive from labour and Nature: and now just as in ‘the Heyday of radical Social Democracy’ this implies a moral critique of capitalism and class.

References

Scott, Andrew,  ‘Northern Lights: The Positive Policy Example of Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Norway’, Monash University Publishing, Melbourne, 2014

Stanford, Jim  “Economics for Everyone – A Short Guide to the Economics of Capitalism”, Pluto Press, London, 2008

Dr Tristan Ewins has been a Labor activist for over 20 years. He has written for many publications including ‘The Canberra Times’; but most prolifically for ‘On Line Opinion’; see: http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/author.asp?id=208

 

 

Day to Day Politics: The racism experiment.

Tuesday 25 April 2017

1 The headline in the Monday Australian read Support for PM on the rise. ”The Coalition has gained an increase in support over tougher citizenship rules while PM’s voter satisfaction improves.”

Here we see an exercise in Murdoch propaganda. ”On the rise” – what on earth does that mean? The poll results were nothing more than normal fluctuations at this time in the cycle. The three words are intended to suggest that things are on the improve for the conservatives.

On the contrary, the poll results are still a disaster for the Coalition.

The Crickey Poll bludger says:

The latest result from Newspoll records Labor with a two-party lead of 52-48, down from 53-47 in the last poll (which was three weeks ago rather than the usual two, owing to Easter). Labor and the Greens are both down a point on the primary vote, to 35% and 9%, with the Coalition and One Nation steady on 36% and 10%. Malcolm Turnbull is up two on approval to 32% and down two on disapproval to 57%, while Bill Shorten is up one to 33% and down one to 53%. Turnbull’s lead as preferred prime minister shifts from 41-32 to 42-33.

After spending the entire week trying to influence the poll with nothing more than populist racist policies on migration and citizenship reform it has made no net gain that can be demonstrated to be as a result of their racist policies.

The movement is within the poll’s margin of error. The latest Guardian Essential poll had Labor leading the Coalition 54% to 46% a week ago.

Mind you, the Coalition’s attempt to influence the poll may have been disrupted by continued displays of disunity. In particular Tony Abbott.

What can be taken from the poll is the unpopularity of both leaders? As in France, if a credentialed Independent came along willing to start a new party then all manner of things might happen.

2 Further thoughts on the Dutton disaster. Now for the third time his “alternative facts” have come into question.

Ronny Knight the local MP has called Dutton’s view of the violence and the linking of the incident of the boy as just ridiculous. There is CCTV footage of the boy and Dutton has been called on by Mr Knight to release it.

“His comment that he knows more than we do is ridiculous.”

“I’m on the ground, I’m the MP from here. If he knows more than I do then he must have a really good intelligence organisation and it must be Australian, not PNG.”

Incidentally, Dutton has always claimed that PNG is in charge of all facets of the administration of the camps. If that is so why is it that Australia has control of the CCTV footage?

Here is a transcript of the Cassidy interview. Dutton can be seen as lying through his teeth. If he has an alternate truth why won’t he release his facts?

CASSIDY: I want to ask you about the recent disturbance at Manus Island. You recently linked that to a situation where you said that a 5-year-old boy was led away by three asylum seekers and that caused the mood to elevate quite quickly. Now, that’s not true, is it?

DUTTON: Of course, it is true.

CASSIDY: It’s not true.

DUTTON: It is true. And the briefing that I’ve had is particularly succinct and clear.

CASSIDY: Who gave you this information?

DUTTON: Well Barrie, I have senior people on the island. We also have obviously, significant contacts with the governor and people of Manus.

CASSIDY: You didn’t speak with the police commander, clearly?

DUTTON: I can give you the facts in relation to it or you can take the Twitter version.

CASSIDY: Well let me give you what I understand the facts to be. The boy wasn’t five, he was ten. It didn’t happen on the day of the disturbance, it happened a week before the disturbance and there’s CCTV footage outside of tent number one that shows the boy went inside and the people are packing fruit into plastic bags. They gave him the fruit and he left.

DUTTON: So let me give you the facts. The fact is that as people would understand, Manus Island is home not only to the regional processing centre but also to the naval base there as well. The point that I was making and certainly the clear advice that I received was that there had been a ramping up in terms of the mood on the ground over a period of time which included a sexual assault, to which you’ve made no reference, separate to any incident that we’re talking about here.

CASSIDY: The sexual assault, that you’re talking about two people have been charged with sexual assault but deny the charges.

DUTTON: So as you imagine …

CASSIDY: You’re an ex-Queensland policeman. You know that you’re presumed innocent don’t you?

DUTTON: Of course, but you’re going to the mood on the ground which is not something that you need to prove beyond reasonable doubt in court. You’re talking about what the elevation of the mood was on the ground and it was elevated by these allegations around this sexual assault. Now let that go through the courts.

CASSIDY: Elevated by the incident involving the 5-year-old boy?

DUTTON: Well just let me finish. So you’ve got the sexual assault, which as you say, can be heard in court. Everybody deserves innocence and I don’t make any judgement about that. But I’m saying that that it did elevate the mood on the ground. And second to that, there is this incident which is being investigated by the police. Now, that will run its course.

CASSIDY: The police are investigating this incident around the 5-year-old boy?

DUTTON: Yes, they are.

CASSIDY: Do they understand that he’s 10 and not 5?

DUTTON: I’ll leave the detail to them.

CASSIDY: The detail is important in these matters?

DUTTON: It is. But if your claim is that the mood on the ground hadn’t been elevated …

CASSIDY: It’s not my claim. The police commander says that there’s CCTV footage showing that the boy was waiting outside the gate, he was looking for food. Food was placed into a plastic bag and given to him. He was ten years old and it happened a week before the disturbance and he left. That’s the extent of it. Now how is that relevant to anything?

DUTTON: Well Barrie, I’m not sure whether you can be the judge, jury and executioner in this matter.

CASSIDY: The police commander said this.

DUTTON: Let’s allow the police investigation to be conducted.

CASSIDY: Well why didn’t you do that? Why didn’t you let that happen?

DUTTON: I received different advice from that.

CASSIDY: Why didn’t you let the investigation happen before you pre-empted it?

DUTTON: I was asked why the mood had elevated on the ground on Manus Island. These two incidents fed directly into that. That is indisputable. So if you’re asking me about why there was an elevation of the angst between those that are living, including on the naval base on Manus, this was part of it. And that was the clear advice to me.

CASSIDY: Do you accept that you got some of the information badly wrong?

DUTTON: No, I do not. And again –

CASSIDY: The age of the boy? The intentions, whether he was led into the facility? He went in and took a plastic bag of fruit and left?

DUTTON: Again Barrie, I think that there are facts that I have that you don’t so why don’t we let the police investigation run its course and allow them some independent analysis of it because if you’re asking me why the mood elevated, these two incidents fed into it and I have that on very good authority on the island. The parents of the boy involved in the incident might have a different view to the one that you have read off tweets and that’s fine.

CASSIDY: The police commander said that this happened because there was a soccer game going on beyond a six o’clock curfew and that’s what caused the disturbance and he said that some of the PNG soldiers were drunk. And yet, you put all of the blame on the asylum seekers.

DUTTON: I didn’t put any blame anywhere. I was asked a question as to why the mood was elevated, I’ve answered that question honestly and on advice. In relation to the soccer game and the incident otherwise, yes absolutely, that’s part of the facts of the whole lead-up to this unfortunate incident. Now, it’s being properly investigated by the chief of defence in PNG, by the police commissioner, as it should. I also make the point — in that interview, which you don’t note, I make the point that shots being fired or behaviour as it is reported is completely unacceptable and it should be investigated. I made that point, which you neglect to make reference to. And it is important that this investigation take place, that it is properly looked at and if people are charged or whatever comes out of it, as you say, let them have their fair day in court.

CASSIDY: What would clear it up and it would help to clear up any reflection on you over your version of events is the CCTV footage. Would you allow that to be released so that everybody can be clear on what happened?

DUTTON: Barrie, the police investigation will take place –

CASSIDY: And after that, do you think that it would be appropriate to release the footage?

DUTTON: – if people are charged in relation to it to allow the course to be run.

CASSIDY: But if there’s no charges and nothing happened here? Are you happy to have that footage released?

DUTTON: Well we will continue to release footage as is the normal practice now. I’m not making an exception one way or the other in relation to this case. If it is appropriate for it, and that’s been the practice in the past, then that will happen. But that is an issue for the PNG Government. They run Manus Island, as you know. We inherited the mess of Manus Island from the Labor Party. We’ve stopped the boats and we want to get people off Manus island as quickly as possible. We’ve done that in terms of the negotiation with the US. Kevin Rudd’s deal with the PNG Government had no outcome at all for people on Manus island. We are not adding to people on Manus island. We’re not repopulating through new boat arrivals because we have stopped boats. But our job now is to get people off. We’re doing that as quickly as possible. But we face all of the barriers in terms of returns that we spoke about before.

. . .

As I said yesterday, at another time in our political history, Mr Dutton would no longer be a Minister. However, the Conservative leader is so weak he cannot say anything LET ALONE SACK HIM.

3 To all who believed Donald when he said Mexico would pay for the wall. He is now ready to shut down US government if Congress doesn’t fund it.

An observation.

Today the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”.

In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation.

People of my generation and later should divest themselves of their old and inferred racist superiority. ‘’

My thought for the day.

Death abides

Love hides

Goodness vanishes

Suffering manifests

Truth a causality

Faith is lost

Humanity stumbles

But Hope survives

And Only the dead see the end of it

Lest we forget.

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Dutton has alternative facts?

Monday 24 April 2017

As I said yesterday the Australian’s NewsPoll will be published today. The week started with a change to 457 Visa rule changes, then the rules pertaining to Citizenship. Then coincidently Peter Dutton turns up on Insiders. Will the weeks propaganda turn the tide of unpopularity.

Those who follow politics would understand that this was all calculated to effect the polling result. It is also premeditated propaganda to speak to the conservative heartland and to those with racist inclinations.

Only a political party in its death throes would lower itself to the point of trying to deliberately inluence political polls.

On insiders Dutton went through his usual boring script of blaming Labor for everything. When it came to the truth of what happened on Manus Island with a 10-year-old boy he decided on the American defence of I have alternative facts”.

He couldn’t or wouldn’t use any to defend or support his view.

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”.

It is patently clear that his words on the matter are cast in such a way as to suggest that the asylum seekers involved were paedophiles intent on using the boy in some nefarious manner. In doing so he was attempting to infer that there was a connection between this incident and one that occurred two weeks later.

Now lest it be suggested that I am only opining about this matter let me point out that it is true that opinion forms some of what I write. In the first instance what I write is subjected to the truth of it. Then I resort to over 60 years of life experience. As in this instance when people like Dutton are repeat offenders of demonising asylum seekers I take that into consideration when forming my opinion.

So according to the SMH Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said fears about the safety of a five-year-old boy may have sparked last week’s rampage on Manus Island, in which gunshots were allegedly fired into the Australian-run detention centre.

Mr Dutton told Sky News ”asylum seekers had been spotted leading the Papua New Guinean boy into the regional processing centre,” which could have led to tensions escalating before the fracas on Good Friday.

Members of the PNG Defence Force, who were apparently drunk, allegedly discharged their weapons, threw stones and assaulted refugees, guards and local police officers in the clash.

Peter Dutton was falsely intending to draw a link between the two events. They were two weeks apart and the boy was 10 not 5.

There was a lot of angst around that within the local PNG community. There was concern about why, or for what purpose, the boy was being led away back into the regional processing centre.

“I think it’s fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly. I think some of the local residents were quite angry about this particular incident and another alleged sexual assault [by a refugee on Manus Island].”

Dutton keeps repeating that it is ”indisputable” that the two incidents were related. Be that the case then he should be transparent and offer some evidence that the shooting on the Manus Island detention centre and the young boy was connected.

The PNG Defence Force contradicted Dutton’s version of events saying that the  incident was triggered by an altercation on a football field when asylum seekers refused to leave the ground as directed, which escalated after an officer was assaulted.

And the local police commander, Inspector David Yapu, blamed the incident on “drunken” soldiers’’ who he claimed had waged an unethical and unacceptable rampage.

The boy – aged 10 not five as claimed by Mr Dutton – was taken into the centre, given some fruit and then escorted out by security. He was returned to his parents unharmed, Mr Yapu said. It was all openly viewed by Australian and PNG officials.

But Mr Dutton on Sunday insisted the incident with the child – along with a separate sexual assault – had contributed to a volatile mood on the island.

Buzz Feed reported that.

But Manus province police commander David Yapu said Dutton was referring to an unrelated incident earlier in the week when a 10-year-old boy came into the centre.

“He was given some fruits by the residents in the centre and then he was taken out again,” he said.

“So there was nothing done to him and also there was no official complaint by the parents of that small boy.”

In all my reading I can find nothing that supports Dutton’s view that the incident with the boy was responsible for the event two weeks later with the fight and break out on Friday night.

An observation.

”The pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.”

 There is no substance to Dutton’s claim and it’s obvious that he is just trying to cast aspersions on asylum seekers and refuges. His words arise from a deep well of hatred within the Coalition of all things Muslim.

As one asylum seeker said.

“There are Australian guards who monitor every single activity upon entry, which makes the claim that Mr Dutton made impossible.”

I await the evidence of Mr Dutton’s alternative facts.

”At another time in our political history he would not have lasted the weekend”.

My thought for the day.

‘’Have we reached the point in politics where TRUTH is something that politicians have convinced us to believe, “like alternative facts” rather than TRUTH based on factual evidence, arguments and assertions.”

Day to Day Politics: Destroying what we stand for.

Sunday 23 April 2017

It’s a lazy Sunday. There’s not much on. Rain is falling on corrugated roof creating a rhythm of thought-provoking questions that are not easily put aside. The word democracy keeps insinuating itself upon me. I know I have written about it unendingly but the political person who lives within me tells me I must incessantly return to it. Our democracy is in an unholy mess and my desire, before my candle extracts its last breath, is that it is rescued from its dank demise.

It is incontestable that Australians have had enough. How do we know? Well the latest Newspoll tells us that 29% of voters have abandoned both the major parties in favour of the minor parties and independents. That is the highest national level since 1910, when the two-party system was formed.

There can be no doubt that a high proportion of Australians have lost faith in our two-party system of Government and are electing to drop out altogether or change their voting pattern.

I would go so far as to say that if we didn’t have compulsory voting the turnout would be as bad as in the US.

Both major parties are responsible. The incumbent is on its last legs with a leader so weak that he takes orders from the far right of his party which is in a fight to the death with the moderates. Everything the Prime Minister turns his mind to has the smell of desperation about it. There is no sense of governance as a democratic principle. We have witnessed it this week with Turnbulls openly racist citizenship changes together with 457 Visas.

The Shorten-Labor Opposition with its eye on winning the next election has given away the opportunity to take the moral high ground and talk about restoring our democratic ideals.

It seems to me that in their desire to destroy each other they are in fact destroying the very thing that allows then to exist.

The AIMN has published many fine contributions on this subject.

Jenifer Wilson says that ”Democracy isn’t just the right to vote. It’s a way of being.”

Kyran O’dwyer says:

”The greatest threat posed by erosion is not that the change occurs, but that the change occurs gradually, over time. The change is not noticeable on a daily basis, but at the end of a year, a decade, a century, you suddenly notice all that has eroded away. You suddenly realise what you had, only because you suddenly realise it has gone.”

Kaye Lee:

”Successful democracy depends on an informed electorate to choose the appropriate representatives and informed politicians to make the right choices.  When information is withheld, obfuscated, or corrupted with lies, democracy is up for sale to the bidder with the loudest voice and the money to buy the biggest megaphone.”

Ken Wolff:

”We are seeing the same phenomenon around the world: the election of Jeremy Corbin to the Labour leadership in the UK; the rise of anti-establishment parties in Spain and Greece; and, unfortunately, it has also meant the rise of extreme right (and sometimes neo-fascist) parties that tap into that disaffection with the political system.”

John Lord:

In the recipe of what a democracy is there are many ingredients, but simply explained it is a political system where like-minded people come together to form ideas that become a philosophy. They then become the foundation of political parties. These ideologies pull in different directions in a quest for majority approval by the people. It is a far from perfect system that has variations all around the world. It is elastically flexible (we even have democratic dictatorships), unpredictable and at its worst, violent and extremely combative.

At its best it is noble, constructive and generally serves society well. It is very much better than the next best thing and accommodates diagonally opposed ideas, extreme or otherwise. All in all it’s an imperfect beast that has served us well. Yes it’s government for the people by the people.

Common to most Western Democracies (and in the absence of anything better) it has a capitalistic economic system. Of late this has come under question.

In Australia the right to vote is the gift that democracy gives and people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual) they support but overriding this is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy, if at the same time they think their party is the only one that should ever win.

A clear indication of an Australian Democracy in decline is the fact that people are giving up this voting gift, literally saying: ”A pox on both your houses”.

Three million do so by not voting.

Our political system is in crisis because our politicians fail to speak with any clarity on issues that concern people.

Moreover, an enlightened democracy should provide the people with a sense of purposeful participation. It should forever be open to regular improvement in its methodology and its implementation. Its constitutional framework should be exposed to periodical revision and renewal, compromise and bi-partisanship when the common good cries out for it.

But above all its function should be, that regardless of ideology the common good should be served first and foremost. A common good healthy democracy serves the collective from the ground up rather than a top down democracy that exists to serve secular interests. One that is enforced by an elite of business leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version. That is fundamentally anti-democratic.

Every facet of society including the democratic process needs constant and thoughtful renewal and change. Otherwise we become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see better ways of doing things. Unfortunately, Australia’s particular version of the democratic process has none of these things inherent in it and is currently sinking in a quagmire of American Tea Party Republicanism.

I am not a political scientist, historian or a trained journalist. I write this as a disgruntled and concerned citizen because it seems to me that the Australian democracy I grew up with no longer exists. The demise of Australian Democracy has its origins in a monumental shift by both major parties to the right with the result that neither seem to know exactly what it is they stands for. They are now tainted with sameness.

The Liberal Party has been replaced by neo-conservatism, actively asserting individual identity against a collective one and old style Liberalism no longer has a voice. There is little or no difference between the Liberals and the National Party who seem irrelevant as a political force.

Conservatives have gone down the path of inequality with a born to rule mentality that favours the rich.

”The whole logic of the ”lifters” and “leaners” rhetoric so favoured by the current Government is a distillation of the idea that there is no such thing as society, that we and only we are responsible for our own circumstances”. (Tim Dunlop, The Drum, 4/7/2014).

The Labor Party needs to rid itself of an outdated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.

The major parties have become fragmented with Labor losing a large segment of its supporters to the Greens whilst the LNP is being undermined by rich populist extremists on the far right.

In terms of talent both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work life experience. Both parties have pre-selection processes rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out. Both need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the Union Movement or in the case of the LNP, staffers who have come up through the party.

Our Parliament, its institutions and conventions have been so trashed by Tony Abbott in particular that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past.

Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds who are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills, to act deplorably toward each other. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Where light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. And in doing so they debase the parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals.

Question Time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Our democracy suffers because no one has the guts to give away the slightest political advantage.

Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. There is no reason to doubt that the stench of NSW doesn’t waffle its way through the corridors of the National Parliament and into the highest offices. Corruption weaves it way through all sections of society including Unions, Business and Politics.

And our democracy lacks leadership because our current leaders and their followers have so debased the Parliament that there is no compelling reason to be a politician. Well at least for people with decency, integrity and compassion.

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership. In recent times we have had potential but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest and narcissistic personality.

The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.

Our voting system is badly in need of an overhaul. When one party, The Greens attracts near enough to the same primary votes as The Nationals but can only win one seat in the House of Representatives, as opposed to eight there is something wrong with the system. Added to that is the ludicrous Senate situation where people are elected on virtually no primary votes, just preferences. It is also a system that allows the election of people with vested business interests with no public disclosure.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion. Murdoch and his majority owned newspapers with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society. On the contrary it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably.

The advent of social media has sent the mainstream media into free fall. Declining newspaper sales have resulted in lost revenue and profits. It is losing its authority, real or imagined. Bloggers  more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society. Writers with whom they can agree or differ but have the luxury of doing so. As a result newspapers in particular have degenerated into gutter political trash in the hope that they might survive. Shock jocks shout the most outrageous lies and vilify people’s character with impunity and in the process do nothing to promote decent democratic illumination. They even promote free speech as if they are the sole custodian of it.

There are three final things that have contributed to the decline in our democracy. Firstly, the Abbott factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced Tony Abbott and others who have followed believe that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. So much so that his words and actions brought into question the very worthiness of the word truth. Or he has at least devalued it to the point of obsolescence..

The 2014 budget will be remembered for one thing. That it gave approval for and overwhelmingly legitimised lying as a political and election contrivance.

Tony Abbott set a high standard when it comes to keeping promises. On August 22, 2011 he said:

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.”

We should never forget that, after crucifying Prime Minister Julia Gillard daily for three years, Abbott made this solemn promise:

”There will be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS”

This was unambiguous statement that cannot be interpreted any differently than what the words mean. To do so is telling one lie in defence of another.

In that budget he broke them all. As a result, a rising stench of hypocrisy and dishonesty engulfed the Abbott prime minister-ship. When you throw mud in politics some of it inevitably sticks but there is a residue that adheres to the chucker. That was Abbott’s dilemma but the real loser was our democracy. In Australian political history Abbott’s legacy will be that he empowered a period emblematic of a nasty and ugly period in our politics. Abbott’s contribution to the decline of the Australian body politic is unmeasurable.

Our democracy is nothing more or nothing less than what the people make of it. The power is with the people and it is incumbent on the people to voice with unmistakable anger the decline in our democracy.

People need to wake up to the fact that government effects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more concerned. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated. Politicians of all persuasions must be made to pay for their willful destruction of our democracy.

Good democracies can deliver good governments and outcomes only if the electorate demands it.

“You get what you vote for” rings true.

Lastly but importantly we need to educate our final year school leavers (the voters of tomorrow) with an indebtedness and fundamental appreciation of democracy. A focus group I held recently at a nearby college revealed two things. One was that our young people are conversant with societal issues and have strong opinions grounded in clear observation. They cannot however place them into a logical political framework because (two) they are not adequately informed about political dogma and its place in the workings of a democracy.

We deserve better than what we have at the moment. However, if we are not prepared to raise our voices then our democracy will continue to decline and the nation and its people will suffer the consequences.

Three books have recently been published that address the state of our democracy. The first ‘Triumph and Demise’ is by The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly. In the final chapter Kelly suggests that our political system is in trouble and that, if that is the case, then by definition so are we. Prime Minister Abbott launched the book, and at the time, fundamentally disagreed with the authors assertions.

Paul suggests that the relentless negativity of our contemporary conversation, the culture of entitlement that he thinks has sprung up over the last decade or so, means that good government has become difficult, perhaps impossible’.’

”It’s not the system which is the problem, it is the people who from time-to-time inhabit it. Our challenge at every level is to be our best selves.”

In the first quote two words, negativity and entitlement jump out at you. Not necessarily in the context of the difficulty of governance, he was alluding to, but rather as self-descriptive character analysis. He could not have chosen two better words to describe his own footprint on the path to our democratic demise.

The second is a disingenuous, even sarcastic swipe at his opponents that leaves no room for self-examination or blame for his own period as opposition leader and later as Prime Minister in particular. And in another indignant self-righteous swipe he said that Labor was “much better at politics than government.”

Three quotes from Kelly at the book’s launch are worth repeating. Kelly said he increasingly felt there were “real problems” with the mechanics of the political system as he worked on his book.

”I have always believed in the quality of leadership. I have always felt that leadership was fundamental … to the success of the country,” Kelly said.

”I do think the system today makes governing, and in particular serious reform, more difficult, and I think the record does show that.”

I have not read the book but I agree entirely with his diagnosis. In the first quote I believe he is referring to a breakdown in the conventions and institutional arrangements of our democracy.

The second is a general commentary on the dearth of leadership over the past decade or so. Although he was a Howard supporter and he said this of Abbott prior to his sacking..

”Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the prime minister can muster.”

The third quote is a direct reference to the 24/7 News cycle and negativity as a means of obtaining power.

The second book, The Political Bubble’ by Mark Latham also addresses the state of our democracy:

”Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart”

He suggests that trust has collapsed. In this book, he freely explores and travels up and down every road of our democratic map. On the journey he talks about how democracy has lost touch with the people it’s supposed to represent. Like a fast talking cab driver he gives view on how politics has become more tribal with left and right-wing politics being dominated by fanatical extremists.

An entire chapter is devoted to how Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in Australian politics and how he failed to keep his promises. Another chapter is devoted to what can be done about fixing the democratic deficit as he calls it.

”Can our parliamentary system realign itself with community expectations or has politics become one long race to the bottom?”

The third, and more recent book, by Nick Bryant (BBC correspondent and author) aptly titled ‘The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a great Nation lost its way’ takes a forensic look at the lucky country from inside and out. The most impressive thing about this book, besides the directness of his observations and astuteness of his writing, is that what is being said is an outsider’s point of view. He is not constrained by the provincial restrictions of self-analysis. Instead he offers his take on what he calls:

”The great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished.”

Another important contribution to the democracy debate is this piece by Joseph Camilleri ‘Democracy in crisis’ I highly recommend this thoughtful article for a comprehensive outline of what ails our democracy.

I have alluded to these works, not as a review of each, but rather to highlight a growing concern over the state of our democracy.

There is no doubt in my mind if one looks at all the ingredients that go into forming a strong democracy, and you make a list of ingredients, the traditional recipe is no longer working. Or it has been corrupted by inferior ingredients.

At the risk of repeating myself, take for example the seemingly uncontrollable bias and market share of Murdoch. A desire for unaccountable free speech that is weighted toward, extremism. The attack on the conventions and institutions of parliament by the Prime Minister. The precedent of invoking Royal Commissions into anything as a means of retribution. The rise of fanatical right-wing partisan politics and media. The decline in parliamentary respect and behaviour. Add to that the right wings dismissive contempt for feminism.

Corporate sway and the pressure of the lobbyist can also be added to the mix, together with the voice of the rich that shouts the voice of inequality. The idea that with political servitude comes entitlement via financial benefit and privilege. And you can throw in the power of personalities over policy within the mainstream parties. Then there is the uninhibited corruption from both major parties. Then there is the acceptance by both sides that negativity is the only means of obtaining power.

But at the top of the list is the malaise of the population. Although we have compulsory voting 3 million people at the last election felt so disgusted with our democracy that they felt more inclined to have a beer at the pub, or mow the lawn than cast a vote for Australian democracy.

My thought for the day.

”If we are to save our democracy we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should tell the truth”.

Previous instalments:

Day to Day Politics: Where did it all go wrong? Part one.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part two – Newspapers.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part three – Electronic Media.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part four – ‘Right wing feral opinion’

 

 

 

 

Day to Day Politics: They may survive on life support.

Saturday 22 April 2017

1 It was calculated that with a Newspoll due on Monday that the blatantly racist political moves on Citizenship and 457 visas would cause a lift in the polls for the Coalition and the Prime Minister.

Although both were announced with all the characteristics of a party at war with itself, it could nevertheless be argued that there are those in the community who would have been impressed.

Enter Tony Abbott with a now weekly engagement with Ray Hadley and the Newspoll agenda was sabotaged.

Not happy with Abbott’s interview where he called on the Government to change policies and embrace more conservative principles the Prime Minister wasn’t happy.

“I’m not interested in personalities or politics of that kind.”

Then one of two people, Tony Nutt or Malcolm Turnbull leaked on the former Prime Minister with regards to his re-election prospects at the last election and by Friday it had turned into an all in brawl. Abbott called the leak ”sneaky and underhand”.

Of course the PM has vehemently denied that he and the former prime minister were engaged in “open warfare” Mr Abbott was entitled to his view said the PM.

Cabinet colleague Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network Mr Abbott went on the attack on Thursday against “self-serving” leakers, following revelations Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to be drafted in to save his political hide during the 2016 election.

On 7.30 Thursday in Lee Sales interview with Turnbull, two important questions arose. The first was when she asked “If we were are the most successful multicultural country in the world, why are these changes necessary.” He simply avoided the question and moved unto Australian values of which he had no idea how to define other than they were unique to us. Bullshit of course.

“Freedom, equality of men and women, mutual respect, the rule of law, democracy, a fair go — that’s our Australian values,” he said. But are these not universal human values.

“There is something uniquely Australian about them. We’re proud of them. We’re committed to them. We should celebrate them and we should put them at the core of becoming an Australian citizen.”

Really? Maybe they should be at the very core of becoming an Australian politician.

It was all an exercise about image or lack of it. The second one was when Sales asked him to characterize himself and he botched it because he didn’t know what his values were.

Chris Ullman writing for the ABC put it this way:

”He has clearly greatly disappointed many in the community who invested faith in the obvious intellectual talents he brings to the top job.

To date he neatly fits James Russell Lowell’s famous and unfair criticism of Edgar Allen Poe — that he had written some verses “quite the best of their kind, but the heart somehow seems all squeezed out by the mind”.

”Unable to define himself, Mr Turnbull has been defined by others and found wanting against his past words and deeds”.

Labor’s shorthand for him has stuck — an out-of-touch rich toff who doesn’t believe in anything.”

In the interview the PM expressed incredulity that his proposals had been viewed cynically by the electorate which of course caused me to wonder just how many real folk he met on a daily basis.’

Or does he have such a high opinion of himself that he believes we trust him? How silly.

Anyone who could say that he trusted ‘’the ”wisdom and judgment” of Trump and Pence by virtue of uttering the phrase leaves himself open to having no values.

He said to Sales:

”I’m surprised you’re challenging this on the ABC,” he said. “I don’t think your hearts in it actually, Leigh. I think you agree with me.”

It is well-known that Mathias Cormann had an all in brawl with Abbott about playing as a team but it appears Tony wasn’t listening.

”We have to ensure, working as a strong and united team, that we don’t help inadvertently Bill Shorten become prime minister”

”because that would be very bad for Australia.”

”All of us would love to be able to focus on the significant policy legacy of the Abbott government, I’d like to be able to do that.”

“Able to be interpreted as undermining our efforts to be able to provide strong and effective government and to maximise our chances of being successful at the next election.”

Now they are talking about bringing in former Prime Minister and manipulator, of all things political, John Howard to sort out the problems. Why not Mr Fixit you ask. Well he was unavailable. He had taken leave to question his values.

Prissy Pyne said on Chanel 9 that he doesn’t know and doesn’t care if Mr Howard is enlisted.

Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network Mr Abbott went on the attack on Thursday against “self-serving” leakers, following revelations Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to be drafted in to save his political hide during the 2016 election.

Asked on Friday whether it was annoying to have Mr Abbott interrupting him from the backbench, Mr Turnbull said there were many potential distractions in his job.Values might be another.

Veteran MP Liberal MP Warren Entsch also got stuck into Abbott saying his backbench colleague hasn’t kept his word.

“He was going to step down graciously, he was going to serve in the best interests of the country, but he was not going to do a running commentary, he was not going to be political. Well, it’s been anything but that.”

“I look forward to all the members of my party room, all the members on the backbench or the frontbench, working together and getting out there and talking about the success of the government’s policies,”

It seems that whatever decisions are taken, whatever policies developed that they are overshadowed by Abbott’s opinion and the internal differences of left and right. At the moment it would appear that the internal bickering is pulling the party apart with the right-wing extremists seemingly having the upper hand.

During their term of office, and despite their claims to the contrary, they have not produced anything noteworthy in terms of policy. The whole of their time seems to be spent thinking up announcements that might improve the publics image of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the country stands still while Turnbull moans.

2 I have written that Tony Abbott is beyond doubt the greatest lying politician this country has ever seen. If that be true then Peter Dutton must surely take the prize for the sickest. What a vile vomitus man he is. His latest attempt to paint asylum seekers on Manus Island as pedophiles is beyond belief

“There was an alleged incident where three asylum seekers were alleged to be leading a local five-year-old boy (the boy was 10) back toward the facility and there was a lot of angst around that,” Dutton told Sky News.

“I think there was concern about why the boy was being led, or for what purpose he was being led away, back to the regional processing centre, so I think it’s fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly.”

Read this comment by Terry2 on my post yesterday:

Peter Dutton said that the recent disturbances at the Manus Island Detention Centre were due to some refugee inmates being seen escorting a five-year old local boy into the centre : Dutton was clearly blowing a dog-whistle implying that there were issues of pedophilia, after all they are foreigners and they tried to come here by boat.

The officials on Manus have now said that there is no truth in this and that an instance where a ten-year old boy went into the detention centre – the centre is unlocked between dawn and dusk to convey the cynical Dutton deception that these people are not actually detained – looking for food was given some fruit by the detainees and then escorted back to his parents.

Dutton is a despicable individual and to think that some say he is being groomed to take over from Turnbull and lead this country is just too sickening to contemplate.

You can read a full account of the incident in The Guardian. My concern is to expose the former copper for the vile excuse of a human being he thinks he is. He should resign over this incident. He is unfit to serve as a Minister in any government.

3 The other thing that will cloud Mondays Newspoll will be the revelation that there are so many politicians soaking up our money by virtue of capital gains on property.

My thought for the day.

”We should always be careful when speaking of values lest our own come into view”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Australian values, fair dinkum.

Friday 21 April 2017

1 As a true blue Australian citizen I was perplexed with yesterday’s joint press conference between the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to announce changes to citizenship laws. In fact, I became angry that they could play the race card in such an obvious way. The changes were designed to strengthen Australian citizenship. What nonsense.

It was all smoke and mirrors designed to win back One Nation voters who have deserted them. They couldn’t even provide details of their proposed changes.

Asked at least five times to define ‘Australian values’ neither of them could. But it didn’t stop them from continuously repeating the term which seemed to get the journalists a trifle upset.

They seemed to be implying that these mysterious Australian values are somehow unique or peculiar to the local citizenry.

Are these the values that dared not pass their lips?

Respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual

Freedom of speech

Freedom of association

Freedom of religion and secular government

Support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law

Equality under the law

Equality of men and women

Equality of opportunity, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background

A spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play, compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good

But surely these are universal values common to most educated democracies.

So what are these uniquely Australian values?

Are they that one of our national songs is about a thieving itinerant worker who steals a sheep and commits suicide to avoid being caught?

Our national hero is a bushranger who ran around with a saucepan on his head.

Are our values built on our ability to overcome defeat on the sporting field?

Ricky Ponting is one of Australia’s greatest sporting heroes, for being the only Australian Cricket Captain famous for having lost the Ashes twice.

Do we look up to the values of Don Bradman who famously scored a duck in his last Test innings, thus ensuring he spectacularly failed to achieve a test average of 100 by the slimmest of margins?

What about the ABC who identifies so closely with his example of almost succeeding, while actually failing, that its GPO Box number is 9994 (Bradman’s ultimate average of 99.94)?

What about our armed forces who we celebrate with a biscuit?

We celebrate a massive and humiliating defeat in WW1 caused by British arrogance, idiocy and bad management. That’s why we prefer English migrants above all others. They make us look less stupid.

Most of our national icons are owned by foreign companies.

Our most famous piece of architecture was designed by a Dane.

Our most coveted sporting trophy is a bunch of ashes. The last day of an Ashes Test is called a “sickie”.

The country prides itself on its healthy disrespect for authority. It proved it at the Eureka Stockade when the miners fought the tax collectors. Sadly, they lost!

Australian Values, Fair dinkum.

Are our values enshrined in the example set by government, locking up and throwing away the key for asylum seekers on Nauru? What values do we find in committing people to a life in prison for not having perpetuated a crime?

Can our values be seen through the prism of and function of our body politic? By the standards our leaders set. By their corruption and incompetence.

We have built an entire culture on dubious values.

What about a “fair go”? Now that’s a tradition engrained in us. We give everyone a fair go unless it is politically useful not to do so or there is some advantage for our media to attack them.

What about the values we used to justify unilaterally attacking Iraq on the basis of a lie. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect democracy. We do. Specifically, we respect the democracies of Burma, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China and Khazakstan.

As Australians we value and have a deep respect for a wide diversity of European cultures such as English and American.

You might recall that we demonstrated these values with the Cultural Respect classes we hold yearly in January at Cronulla Beach, a famous sewer near Sydney.

Again we demonstrate our values by showing tolerance. After all we tolerate homosexuals. We just don’t like them in our churches. We tolerate their awful deviant practices as long as we can avoid the mental pictures. Our values are such that at some time in the future we may even consider marriage equality.

Disregarding the fact that Australia has arguably the worst record of domestic violence in the world. Australia values and respects its women.

All Australians (except politicians) respect and value democracy. The government values the wishes of the people. It takes care to listen to the people and to their wishes, and then it does what it wants.

We value our own but prefer the head of another nation as our head of state. Australian values indeed.

And we value the existence of our indigenous folk so much that we might one day acknowledge their presence in our constitution. No hurry though.

My Australian values might be different to yours but we are a multicultural country.

2 I said but a few days ago that one only had to look at the property ownership of our politicians to find a reason for the Governments blanket ban on any changes to Capital gains and Negative gearing. Showing true self-interest and, might I say, Australian values. Yes the system has been set up to advantage the rich and privileged and of course our politicians. We should value them and we do.

The ABC says There’s no housing affordability crisis in the ranks of Federal Parliament’s members and senators.”

Even the razor gang, the group that slice and dice the budget and will ultimately decide on the housing affordability policies own many properties.

It’s composed of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who owns two residential and three investment properties; Treasurer Scott Morrison, who owns a home at Dolans Bay; and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who with his wife Lucy owns several properties, including a home at Point Piper and an apartment in Canberra.

Together with their perks on allowances it truly is a scandal what they are getting away with.

But they are the defenders of Australian values.

My thought for the day.

”Often our opinions are based on our values rather than our understanding and the difficulty is separating the two”.

PS: I acknowledge the contribution of Australian Values in the writing of this piece.

 

 

Day to Day Politics: When you tell a lie.

Thursday 20 April 2017

1 Like many others, I suspect, I was extremely sceptical of G W Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The accusations always looked a bit sus as we Australians are apt to say. There are even suggestions that Bush knew that there were none. Even United States Secretary of State Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council looked fake.

On many occasions during that period I asked myself the question, ”why doesn’t Howard ask Bush for greater assurance before we make a commitment?”

As it turns out, there were none. There has never been to my knowledge a satisfactory explanation as to why the US Spy Agencies got it so wrong. Were we the victims of a gigantic lie, an excuse for a war that would revenge 9/11? Or was it just incompetence-telling your masters what they want to hear.

In recent weeks Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been accused of a pattern of chemical attacks.

Quoting Time.com:

”The bomb fell at around midday. Dropped from a helicopter, the barrel burst open and spawned its contents onto the pavement: at least four metal cylinders that ripped open to release a greenish gas that smelled of bleach. Within minutes, residents began to hack on the fumes.”

Chemical attacks represent a special brand of horror for civilian victims. That chemicals were used is beyond dispute. What is, is the truth of just who is responsible. The experience of Iraq highlights the need for truth over raw emotion.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

”And given that samples from the victims showed conclusively that they had been exposed to sarin gas, there is only one conclusion: that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people in breach of international law and the rules of war.”

I for one am yet to see any  solid, cast in concrete, beyond reproach evidence of who in fact was responsible. And until I do I shall preserve a healthy scepticism on the matter.

An observation.

“Any meaningful resolution to the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere for that matter) cannot be resolved without the transformation of the minds of men and consideration of the effect religion has on people”

 2 The Essential Poll. Labor leads Coalition 54% to 46% in two-party preferred vote. Labor is well ahead of the Coalition on the two-party preferred measure

Some interesting results in their surveys.

Pauline Hanson has a higher disapproval rating from voters than approval. The poll showed 48% disapproved of her performance, while 32% approved.

An observation.

”She thinks climate is the only thing you can do with a ladder”.

Voters gave the thumbs down to the idea of the Australian government providing military support for US actions in Syria. Fifty per cent disapproved while 31% approved.

3 Pauline Hanson tweeted that ”The Government will deny their tough talk on immigration & plan to ban 457 visas is because of One Nation but we all know the truth!”

Well she is right. The Government decision on 457 Visas was more to do with race than Australian jobs. It was an attempt to win back those who because of their adversity to others who are different have gone over to One Nation.

Shorten is winning votes on the left. Hanson winning votes on the right. Turnbull is being squeezed in the middle.

Just a few points on this. One, explain to me Australian values that aren’t universal ones. Two, are we so incapable of training a few thousand nurses, motor mechanics, carpenters, auto-electricians and young waiters? Three, is it because Abbott/Turnbull took $3 billion out of TAFE education? It was a race announcement under the pretext of a jobs announcement.

Lastly, it’s a bit rich when you have been in power for so long to then blame Labor for a problem you could have fixed ages ago.

On this day last year I wrote:

The average single pensioner receives $794 per fortnight. Bronnie will get $9614.

My thought for the day.

“When you tell a lie you deny the other person’s right to the truth”.

Day to Day Politics: On the habits of Abbott.

Wednesday 19 April 2017.

There are those who say he should just be ignored. I am not one of them. He is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. The former Prime Minister is so full of egotistical compost that he can continuously replenish his own effluence.

And now every Monday he will be able to guild the lily to his heart’s content. He is the sort of person who craves the lights, the axiomatic attention seeker. No doubt Ray Hadley will feed him some questions reeking with the smell of blood and bone. But the truth is he shouldn’t have to worry about what people think of him if they knew how seldom they did.

But nevertheless let me take you on a journey back in time, to before he was disingenuously elected Prime Minister by the Australian people and eventually nominated as the worst leader in our history.

In a speech to the Western Australia Liberal Party Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a “respectful” new parliament when it assembles for the first time on Tuesday 12 November 2013, promising the Labor years will soon fade like “a bad memory”.

Here are some other snippets from his speech:

Mr Abbott pledged a parliament that “discusses the issues, rather than abuses individuals”.

The prime minister said the parliament wouldn’t impugn the motives of opponents or trash their reputations.

If anyone tried to go over the top, new Speaker Bronwyn Bishop would sort them out.

“And I am confident that after just a few weeks of the new parliament – that parliament that diminished our policy and embarrassed our citizens over the last three years – will soon seem like just a bad dream’’.

“I want to say that we have made a good start, that the adults are back in charge and that strong, stable, methodical and purposeful government is once more the rule in our national capital.”

“I think all of you will have noticed that there is a new tone and a new style in Canberra.

“Yes, we will speak when we need to speak. But we won’t speak for the sake of speaking and we won’t bang on things for the purposes of a PR gesture.”

He is also on the record as saying this:

“We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public’’.

But let’s backtrack to Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader.

During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He was a repetitive liar by evidence and by his own admission.

He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld.

There has been no other Opposition Leader in my memory who held the institution of Parliament in contempt to the degree Abbott did. He was the leader intent on creating a sense of crisis, of disorder, fear and dysfunction. His sole aim was the forcing of an early election at which he failed miserably.

His appalling parliamentary behaviour was on show for all to see. The abuse of question time and the endless suspension of standing orders. The constant refusal of pairs. The over use of censure motions and calls for quorums were all designed to distract the minority Labor Government.

The demeanour of he and his parliamentary colleagues (particularly Christopher Pyne) over the period of the Gillard/Rudd Governments was disgraceful and a blight on our parliamentary democracy.

An observation.

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

It is true that Abbott found a formula (or was the formula) in Opposition that was suited for the political circumstances of the time. The formula will probably never be repeated because it is unique to certain personalities.

There are not many who could play the unconscionable bastardy role that he did. Although his gutter mentality was profoundly suited to it.

And now he wants us to believe that after his attempt at the wilful destruction and exploitation of our Parliament, (including an attempt to overthrow it) he now expects us to believe all the bullshit that his ego manufactures.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the character of a person who behaves in such a belligerent manner in opposition and government and  then sees no fault in it. Instead he placed all fault at the foot of his opponents. It takes a deluded personality to do so.

Despite holding the record as the most ejected politician in Parliamentary history Christopher Pyne as the new leader of the house indicated a more reasoned approach to debate. No one has ever feigned indignation better than the most disliked politician in Australia. It was a ridiculous thing to say because he had no intention of being reasonable. Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop presided over the Standing Orders she so often abused like an incubus witch.

If the first few weeks of the Abbott led Government Abbott displayed the contempt with which he held the Australian people. But we were not fools.

We knew that a politician whose grounding in politics was so adversarial cannot simply change from gutter politician to reasoned leader without taking some slime from the residue of his past with him.

If it’s one thing I dislike, its politicians who try to con me. Abbott’s attempt back then, and now, to eliminate facts, science and knowledge in the information age was ignorance that only a Luddite of Abbott’s technological illiteracy can display.

He showed a propensity to run from questions, avoid criticism, shut down debate and shut the mouths of ministers. He became confused by his own devious cleverness.

As PM he developed an elitist attitude born from his period as Opposition Leader where he believed his own bullshit. He was like a very bad actor in a performance of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He is not in control of what personality he wants to be and even now reverts from one to the other without thinking.

“We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public’’.

“What utter crap”, to use a phrase he was fond of.

Tony Abbott should be judged by his own standards and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. He has often been described as a pain in the neck but I have a much lower opinion of him.

His Monday meetings with Mr Hadley should prove delightfully destructive for both he and the Coalition. I hope it goes wonderfully well for all concerned.

“No wrecking, no sniping and no undermining”.

Why is he playing this negative political game? Is he trying to destroy the man who replaced him or even the party that deserted him? More likely he wants the leadership back. In the process he is more likely to bring on his own demise.

But then to quote Alan Jones:

“Coalition deserves a thrashing at the next election because they need to learn”.

My thought for the day.

”There are those who are so dumb you can see it written all over their face. And even then they spell it wrong”

PS Before the week is even done Trade Minister Steven Ciobo gets my gold medal award for the most laughable quote.

”Every backbencher has a right to put in their view, that’s exactly how our system works. I encourage every backbencher to keep contributing to the arsenal of policy ideas that the Coalition government has.”

 

Day to Day Politics: 8 days of political garbage.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

1 Whilst I enjoyed 8 days off from my day to day writings on matters of politics, I was burdened with the absurdity of it. No, not my writing, but the unadulterated nonsensical crap that invades the democratic process. Every time I tried to divorce myself from it something more incongruous would find itself into the media.

Malcolm Turnbull, for example, was shouting out that the Adani mine would create 10,000 or more jobs but Adani had told an Australian judge that the project would create 1464 direct and indirect jobs.

Someone tweeted:

@TurnbullMalcolm, could you please tell us how many ‘tens of thousands of jobs’ you think #adani mine will create. References wld be good.

At the same time the PM was meeting with the owner, scientists announced they were unable to keep up with the monitoring of major coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, Turnbull was in India meeting with the CEO of Adani to discuss the mining giant’s multi-billion dollar Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, inland from the reef.

2 I watched economist Chris Richardson speaking at the National Press Club last Wednesday and it occurred to me just how those outside of political parties, or without an allegiance to one, made so much so more sense of things. How much better they were at explanation without the choke of ideology.

3 John Howard once said that disunity was death in politics. This current mob won’t have it. They believe a bit of long-term internal biffo is good for one’s brand. Scott Morrison at this time last year, if you remember, had so many things on the table that the recipe for a good budget became a chef’s disaster. This time around he has decided that using this thing called ‘superannuation’ might be better used to ease housing affordability without considering that it was designed for one’s retirement. Then all the mad-hatter conservatives go blabbering off at the mouth even when the PM tells them it’s not on saying the issue had gone “round and round” and referring to his earlier criticism of the plan as a “thoroughly bad idea“.  But who gives a stuff about what he thinks?

Morrison seems to be on the outer and all he seems to be doing is giving his mouth more exercise than it really needs. All and sundry know that something needs to be done about negative gearing but they will still have nothing to do with it. Mind you, if you were to take a peek at the property holdings on the government side even Blind Freddy could see why they don’t want to change the current set up.

4 “The release of the taxation statistics for 2014-15 reveals that, while the number of people negative gearing has levelled in the past three years as interest rates have fallen, the greatest share of the benefits of negative gearing goes to above average earners – and the biggest growth is to those owning multiple properties.”

5 The infighting must be very embarrassing and the interjections by senior members telling everyone to shut up, while expressing their own opinion, even more so. Christopher (The Fixer) Pyne joined the chorus of those telling everyone to shut up while allowing his own mouth to sing out of tune:

“It’s a great pity that colleagues are running these debates publicly.”  Then he joined the debate.

Even Sydney shock jocks, namely Ray Hadley, has deserted the Treasurer. Their friendship seems to have fallen apart since the shock jock demanded Mr Morrison literally swear on a Bible that he hadn’t betrayed the former PM. Now the hopelessly out of touch former PM Tony Abbott will replace Morrison for their Monday morning chats. This will of course give Abbott the opportunity to open his mouth further than it was ever intended to do and create more disunity. My tip is for a leadership challenge later in the year.

6 Mobs tried to storm the compound on Manus Island according to reports from security personnel and refugees inside the centre. The deal between the US and Australia is not yet in place but the government has said it plans to resettle those remaining on Nauru. Presumably to rot or just go mad as a deterrent to others who might seek compassion on our shores.

7 The Acting Prime Minister was found to be acting more like a petulant child in shouting at Queensland to “FILL IN THE BLOODY FORMS” than a compassionate politician. I thought he was a champion of cutting red tape. Well he is if there’s a buck in it.

8 Donald Trump dropped the largest ever non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. Then he said he was ”proud” of doing so. Like rust, madness seems to be insinuating itself on the minds of our mentally deficient leaders.

Then their acolytes are infiltrated by the same madness.

Sean Spicer: “Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Ah yes, the Von Trump family and the presidency now seem to be running the world. The President’s son tells Moscow not to play funny buggers with his “tough” dad and Presidential daughter it seems was so outraged by the Syrian chemical strikes that she told Daddy to bomb ’em.

9 Thousands of hard-working Australians this Easter gave up time with friends and family to work on public holidays to make ends meet, yet Malcolm Turnbull wants to cut their wages.

10 One Nation and its leader Pauline Hanson seem determined to put beyond doubt any pretence to the fact that they are a mob of (I don’t know how to put it politely) unconscionable buffoons with fallacious individual dispositions.

Yes, Malcolm Roberts is at it again. This time he is accusing the ABC of colluding with the Islamic State:

“Their ABC put our digger’s lives at risk so as to execute a political hit on Senator Hanson. The ABC have declared Jihad on Aussie diggers. They have a fatwa on Pauline Hanson,” Senator Roberts posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

Not to be content with the above absurdity, One Nation then threatened to reconsider all legislation unless the Government withdrew $600 million from the ABCs budget.

Really, there should be a proof of sanity test before entering Parliament.

11 Then I read in the Guardian that:

”The OECD’s latest rankings show Australia slipping another spot to 17th out of 29 countries – meaning small countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg are contributing a greater portion of their budgets to helping the world’s neediest compared to Australia.”

12 Then over breakfast one morning I read that forty-eight Australians who earned more than $1m in the 2014-15 financial year paid no income tax. Nineteen reduced their taxable income to zero by claiming a combined $20.2m for the ”cost of managing tax affairs” – nearly $1.1m each. Gee that’s a laugh.

Remember what Tony said:

I just want to give you this assurance: no member of the Coalition comes into Parliament to raise taxes. Coalition members come into public life because we want to see taxes go down”.

He wasn’t kidding, was he?

Meanwhile the government plans an attack in the budget on those of a lessor earning capacity who take some cash in hand. You know those small business people who they purport some fondness for.

While I’m on the budget, am I to assume that because the Conservatives have doubled the debt that Labor left and that given the Treasurer’s repeated and repeated assertions that our problem is one entirely of overspending he must be planning one of two things? He is going to hit us with the biggest economic sledge-hammer of all time, or he will walk into a Hillsong Sunday service and ask for a miracle.

13 The performance of this excuse for a Government has yet again come under fire with the Onbudsman saying that Centrelink’s robo-debt scheme was not Not reasonable or fair”. It makes one wonder what will be next on their list of appalling decisions.

Well at least Abbott’s Green Army has gone and Work for the Dole seems set to follow.

14 I suppose I should finish less you think I have more to say than the Treasurer. Mind you that would be difficult. Anyway, when you ask a reasonable question I have always been of the view that you should get a reasonable answer in return. So on the matter of  ”jobs and growth” when Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are asked for estimates of the growth and jobs dividends (how bloody many) from the company tax cuts passed by the Senate last week, the response is always bullshit, not numbers.

Morrison is usually egregious.in a What’s it got to do with you?” attitude:

“The Labor Party needs to be convinced about that,” he started, before adding that Labor had been putting around the press gallery the need for econometric modelling”

15 Just one more. An analysis of the last quarter’s Newspoll results show that “older Australians are deserting Malcolm Turnbull’s government in a powerful swing that is fuelling the rise of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, with the federal Coalition suffering a 10 per cent fall in support among voters older than 50 since the last election”. There you go. I knew I had some good news to share. Or is it?

My thought for the day.

“Every experience is a mountain with a peak to climb, a decent to safely navigate and a lesson or two to learn on route”.

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Inequality, unfairness, and other emotions.

Sunday 9 April 2017

1 I was alarmed to read yesterday that there was an internal struggle within Labor over its approach to inequality and other policies leading up to the next election.

At the moment Labor are benefiting from the public’s opinion of what is a deplorable government but with two years to go anything can happen. It’s easy for an opposition to lay back and let the consequences of bad governance take its course. Labor is effectively in cruise control post-election thanks to a Government almost on its knees. But being proactive is far better than reacting to daily issues, and more effective.

Positive polls are a reflection of a party without division, in permanent campaign mode unified with a common purpose. Labor cannot afford to lose sight of the many challenges confronting it to attain government.

But behind the everyday machinations of government as Labor begins the always challenging task of recalibrating key policies there are signs of decent.

Labor must not lose sight of the turbulence that exists in politics, worldwide. People are protesting that they are being left out. That they no longer have a say in their future. There is a dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. In their naivety communities are turning to the very people who have no interest in helping them.

There are those on the party’s left who believe in a more robust approach to inequality. Although on the right former Treasurer Wayne Swan is leading a chorus of voices in favour of a more aggressive one.

The contentious issue seems to centre around what’s known as the ”Buffett rule” where high income earners would pay a minimum rate of tax.

Creating a more equitable society will not be an easy task. There are a multitude of issues like the future of work for example that will need to be addressed. The Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is on the “No Buffett tax” side and is adamant that it will not be on the party’s platform.

Whatever the outcome it is to be hoped that the Labor movement brings together a bit of the old Labor fire in the belly campaigning.

”From each according to his ability to each according to his needs”

If Labor cannot command the electorate’s attention on inequality and fairness then it doesn’t deserve to govern. The ACTU under the leadership of Sally McManus seems to be intent on taking advantage of a growing anger with what is seen as tax rorts by the rich and privileged. It may in fact be the catalyst that brings home those who have left the party and gone to the Greens or otherwise have joined the three million who have dropped out altogether.

2 Speaking of fairness, the man who knows not when to close his mouth was at it again yesterday, defending himself against the Robb Report’s conclusion that the party was “policy underdone” when it came to power. Something that I have been saying for many years. He believed that so long as the conservatives were in power that alone was a sure-fire answer to all the country’s ills.

“I’m happy to stand behind the 2014 budget,” Abbott told 2GB. “It was obviously a budget that was sabotaged in the Senate but it was a budget of sustained structural reform.”

”Had those measures passed through the Senate, our budgetary position would be vastly better, our future I think would be much more secure because we would be living within our means.”

The mind of a silver spooned capricious fool like Abbott, lacking any understanding of the word altruism, would I think be prevented by his own narcissistic qualities in admitting that his 2014 budget was condemned universally as the most unfair ever.

3 The one thing that is clear about our current situation is the trajectory. We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership,”

Are you absolutely sure that the quote above was said by Prime Minister Turnbull.

“When I challenged Tony Abbott, I referred to the fact that he had lost 30 Newspolls in a row. That was not the only basis for my mounting a challenge, I made a number of other points.”

He is being asked the very reasonable question of what should take place when and if he reaches 30.

Mr Dutton, considered a potential future leader from the party’s right, agreed 30 bad Newspolls in a row would present a legitimate trigger for leadership challenge.

You see now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant.

I know that I am 76 and I have the odd senior moment but usually I know what I mean and what is meant by what I say. I also know that people understand what I’m meaning.

My thought for the day.

“Bullshitting is bad enough but when someone believes their own, that is intellectual dishonesty”

PS: I will be taking a short break leading up to Easter.

 

Day to Day Politics: The Great Confession. “We are hopeless”.

Saturday 8 April 2017

“Three years of mistakes dented Libs”.

“The Coalition’s poor election result will be blamed on a failure by senior levels of the government over three years”.

“Post-mortem uncomfortable for all” says Simon Benson.

These words followed the headline in The Australian online newspaper. Nobody will be surprised at all. The polls reflect the ongoing insipid performance of the Coalition. No doubt the report into the performance of the Liberal party at the last election will leak more tasty morsels of embarrassment but these for words “Three years of mistakes” reveals their foolhardiness. The inconsistent in that statement is that it refers to the three years prior to the election. It speaks nothing of their ongoing failures.

“Jobs and Growth” had replaced “Stop the Boats” and despite its ineffectiveness and any explanation of how it works, remains so.

When I returned to The Australian online another headline had been posted:

“Libs split over exposing PM’s errors”.

“Senior party members worry that releasing a review of the 2016 election will further damage Malcolm Turnbull” wrote Joe Kelly.

The report released yesterday by former Trade Minister and Liberal Party director Andrew Robb, is believed to have found that the government was outgunned on the ground by Labor and progressive activist groups like Get Up, and failed to develop a strategy to neutralise or rebut key attack themes, such as the so-called “Mediscare” campaign.

Pre-empting that the report would be critical of him Tony Nutt resigned as federal director of the Liberal Party, saying it was time for renewal after 35 years of service.

The two headlines taken together and posted in what is nothing more than the official newsletter of the Liberal Party, for me is a confession of ineptitude of the highest order.

In case many of you are beginning to think that I’m sounding like a broken record allow me to quote Sean Kelly of The Monthly Today:

”According to sources familiar with the 2016 election campaign wash-up undertaken by Andrew Robb, the review finds the Liberals were outgunned on the ground by Labor and progressive activist groups, and failed to develop a strategy to neutralise or rebut key attack themes, like the so-called ‘Mediscare’ campaign. It criticises the lack of concrete policy sitting behind the Coalition’s ‘jobs and growth’ campaign slogan, and a lack of attention to defining political opponents…”

”Out of all those criticisms the one that jumps out at me is the lack of policy behind the “jobs and growth” slogan. This is part confirmation bias – I’ve made the point myself many times. Mostly though it is a huge slap at both Turnbull and Morrison. The fact that Labor can pick it up and use it indicates how important a point Robb must have felt it was. It can also be read as a clear direction to both the leadership and the cabinet about what can and must change right now. Policy is desperately needed. The company tax cuts are not enough.”

After the Coalition was elected it was obvious that the Government was flying blind under Abbott, MPs complained the central campaign message of jobs and growth was not cutting through but the mantra of ”Jobs and Growth” continues. With the budget only weeks away Scot Morrison, after telling the Banks to shut up about Marriage Equality is now imploring big business to shout to the rafters that the tax cuts will guarantee ‘’jobs and Growth.’’

Morrison was actually, even though cutting taxes was a government decision, needed to be making the case for business tax also. In other words they should be supporting the Government and be open about it.

They are, for obvious reasons reluctant to do so because there is no guarantee. If you have ever witnessed a chook having its head cut off and the frenzy that takes place after it, then you would have some idea of Morrison’s mindset at the moment.

In another confessional Peter Dutton admitted in an interview with Ray Hadley that the state of the Polls reflected the government’s performance. As is his want he blamed Labor for the Governments ills.

“Labor and Greens vote together to block legislation, it’s not an easy time to deal with the Senate or the debt that we’ve got, much easier if you’re spending money and making people happy.”

“But ultimately people recognise that yes they’ve made tough decisions but they’ve been for the right reason.”

Hadley noted that the Turnbull government has lost 10 Newspolls in a row and asked at what stage the prime minister would conclude he had ”better just pass the baton to someone else”.

”What happens after five more, he gets to 15 – does he say then enough is enough?” he asked, noting that Turnbull cited Tony Abbott’s loss in 30 consecutive polls as part of his justification to challenge for the leadership.”

Dutton replied: ”Well, Ray, that’s a fair point and Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t step back from that point.”

”What we need to do is to turn polls around if that’s the measure we have to make tough decisions as the Howard government did, as the Abbott government did.”

Dutton argued that the government was not popular because it had to manage record debt levels in the budget and the Senate was made up of independents. Couldn’t he have taken it a step further by including a perception of incompetence and unfairness?

He didn’t elaborate on why the Coalition had doubled the debt.

”It’s easy to scare people in politics and Shorten has mastered it. And we have to expose it and if we do that and continue to do that in the run-up to the election then we will see the polls turn around.”

He is of course referring to “Mediscare” but Labor had enough evidence to make the claim credible. Turnbull conceded this point in his post-election analysis when he talked about Labor having “fertile ground in which that grotesque lie could be sown”.

He didn’t mention the Liberal’s long history of scare campaigns dating back to the 50s or how Abbott managed to scare people: ”Their coming to get you”. Nor did he mention how scary he was himself.

Labor will allow communists to take over Australia (1950 – 1972);

Labor will give unions too much power (1950-ongoing);

Labor will allow refugees to overrun Australia’s borders (2001-2014);

Labor plans to introduce a wealth tax (2001); and

Labor will introduce a great big tax on everything (2010 and 2013).

More recently, Electricity Bill, Climate tax and Border protection.

So leading up to what is clearly another important budget the Government has admitted that it has been a lousy one. They have made many errors both in leadership and policy.

The Governor of the Reserve bank has told them they are wrong on Negative Gearing and other matters and former Governor Bernie Fraser has done the same on abolishing Penalty Rates.

They have been told by treasury that there is little in return for the massive tax cuts for the big end of town. And yet all the policies put together by a born to rule government remain intact. The drip down hoax continues.

Could it be that they just need to listen. Or perhaps Turnbull, like Abbott, has a date in mind to reintroduce good government.

My thought for the day.

”I think we can often become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see other ways of doing things”.

Please note: ‘Day to Day’ is taking a rest in the run up to Easter.