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Kaye describes herself as a middle-aged woman in jammies. She knew Tony Abbott when they both attended Sydney University where she studied for a Bachelor of Science. After 20 years teaching mathematics, with the introduction of the GST in 2000, she became a ‘feral accountant’ for the small business that she and her husband own. Kaye uses her research skills “to pass on information, to join the dots, to remember what has been said and done and to remind others, and to do the maths.”

Stick to the photos, boys – it’s yer best thing

Last month, Scott Morrison addressed the Lowy Institute, declaring his government will lead the charge in asserting the authority of ­nation states over unelected ­international ­institutions.

“We should avoid any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community. And worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy,” Mr Morrison said.

“Only a national government, especially one accountable through the ballot box and the rule of law, can define its national interests. We can never answer to a higher authority than the people of Australia.”

He warned about a new order that sought to “elevate ­global institutions above the authority of nation states to direct ­national policies”.

“Under my leadership, Australia’s international engagement will be squarely driven by Australia’s national interests.  To paraphrase former prime minister John Howard, as Australians, ‘we will decide our interests and the circumstances in which we seek to pursue them’.”

The not so subtle subtext was ‘you can’t tell us what to do on refugees, human rights, climate change, and all that other sustainability crap’.

Moving right along to today, and the deputy leader of the Liberal party, the grinning Treasurer, is giving a speech at the Australian National University where he will call for the reinvigoration of the World Trade Organisation and for the International Monetary Fund to change its governance structure to reflect the larger role of emerging economies, particularly those in Asia.

“Given Australia’s strong strategic, political and economic ties with key partners both near and abroad, we are well placed as a nation to play an active and constructive role,” he will say.

“We need to reclaim that spirit as we pursue multilateral and plurilateral arrangements that embed the concept of openness in their rules and norms and support a broader rules based order.”

Like the Paris Agreement?

Like the Refugee Convention?

Like a Human Rights Charter?

Like letting witnesses testify in the International Court of Justice?

To paraphrase John Howard, ‘we will decide which rules we will follow and the circumstances in which we will tell you anything’.

If we say we are smashing our emissions reductions targets, then we are, and any figures from our departments saying otherwise haven’t spun the per capita and GDP lines hard enough.  All we need to do is issue a shitload more temporary visas and our per capita emissions will go down even further with no effort.  That’s what I call efficient.

These guys really should stop giving speeches.  Stick to the photos boys – it’s yer best thing.

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Taylor fiddles as the country burns

The only thing that qualifies Angus Taylor to be in charge of the most important portfolio in the government is his overweening self-belief that he is the smartest guy in the room.

Who needs expert advice or evidence?  Certainly not Angus.

As bushfires ravage a drought-stricken country, as rivers dry up and reefs bleach, as species become extinct due to habitat loss – Angus applauds himself for overseeing rising greenhouse gas emissions.

We must have more coal says Angus, in total contrast to every person who has a clue.

When Taylor first entered parliament, he fought to have the renewable energy target scrapped altogether and was successful in having it slashed by a third.  He was instrumental in the sinking of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Clean Energy Target and the National Energy Guarantee, both of which would have provided the policy certainty needed for private investment to go ahead.

Instead, Angus wants the government to give money to coal and gas-fired power with some pumped hydro also getting the nod.  Solar, wind, batteries, transmission grids, demand management – pattooey!

Addressing the AFR Energy Summit in Sydney last month, Angus said we have too much renewable energy.

He wants policies supporting the uptake of renewable energy to be “scaled down and phased out”, and said that energy sector investment must focus on securing greater reliability of supply, adding that “the extraordinary distortions we have seen need to be addressed.”

Ima guessing he wasn’t talking about fossil fuel subsidies.  Or his new you beaut UNGI slush fund where he will use public money to underwrite his pet projects.

The Minister for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has called for a rapid increase in natural gas production and for the lifting of gas exploration moratoria, despite the fact that our already huge increase in LNG production for export is what is causing our emissions to continue rising.

According to Angus, the only solution to high energy prices and perceived reliability challenges is to keep baseload power stations open.

Which is completely at odds with what the chair of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, said at the same summit.

“What we actually need in the market is energy that is both firm and flexible,” Schott said. “The thing about coal plants, because they have to run all the time, is that they are not flexible at ramping up or ramping down.  They are dinosaurs in that sense for being complementary with renewable energy.”

Schott said it was clear that solar, wind and battery storage are emerging as the cheapest source of new electricity generation capacity and flexible supply, and propping up an ageing coal fleet is not a long term solution to Australia’s energy troubles.

“We’ve got a grid at the moment that’s not fit for purpose. The reason why it is not fit for purpose is that it was developed decades ago to take power from large coal generators to the cities and those coal-fired generators are in the Latrobe Valley and the Hunter,” Schott said.

“Renewables are not in the Latrobe Valley and the Hunter, they happen to be in rural areas, and we need to change the grid to so we can get from that new generation source to the cities. What we’ve got at the moment is a long skinny string into town and Australia is well known for having one of the largest geographic grids in the world.”

Meanwhile, coal baron and LNP donor, Trevor St Baker’s proposed upgrade of the Vales Point coal power station in NSW, gets the nod on the short list of things we will pay for.

Scott Morrison has also handed over millions, supposedly for a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power plant for Queensland but in reality, it was just to shut up the Nats and Craig Kelly.

There is absolutely no question that the problems our energy market is facing, coupled with our rising emissions, have been caused by the decisions of governments, and whilst they continue to prioritise propping up their donors, we will continue to suffer from their greed and incompetence with dire consequences.

 

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“Insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes” – my review of the Labor review

In 2012, anti-corruption watchdog Tony Fitzgerald published an article titled The body politic is rotten. It is a must read from the man who exposed police corruption in Queensland and led to the end of the dictatorial reign of Joh.

One paragraph of it I found particularly relevant to my opinion of the Labor review into why it lost the 2019 election:

insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes, recognise only some of the problems and few of the causes and suggest insiders’ solutions with voters as mere bystanders. The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and business as usual.

Then I read a comment by AIMN author George Theodoridis which resonated with me far more than anything I read in Labor’s review.

the people were waiting for some Whitlamesque inspiration, like Medibank for example, like free education, like less militarism, like less obsequy to the Americans, like the closing down of the offshore torture tents, like some statement against the savagery of zionism, like a decent policy on reduction and or elimination of the mountains of pollution that is suffocating the planet. That’s what was in their minds when the campaigns began. Instead, they heard mealy mouthed waffle about a thousand and one things none of which had much to do with them. Some house keeping chores would be done but the huge lumps of dung in the middle of the lounge room, the kitchen the bedrooms were not even mentioned.

It is often said that facts are hard to get across to a disengaged public, that elections are won on emotion.

If you want to talk about stirring emotions, those of us around for the time of Whitlam know what that truly feels like.

He made us feel proud of ourselves, not of our alliance to anyone else.  We stood up as Australians with an ancient history and unique culture.  We would engage with the world as equals, not vassals.

Universal health and education were, not only our right, but an investment in our future.

Labor’s review says they were unable to react/innovate to respond to twists and turns in the campaign.

We want inspiration, not political manoeuvering.

If anyone asks how you are going to pay for something we need to do, like raise Newstart (for pity’s sake, just do it), answer that, if we can afford to spend $20 billion a year on new weapons of mass destruction, we can afford to look after our most vulnerable citizens and assist them to be contributing members of our society.  Put emotion/empathy in your answer – not tables of figures.

Simply point out the actual dollar return of investments in health and education.  Stress the rapidly rising economic cost of inaction on climate change.

Get real about jobs and stop pretending they will come from new coal mines.  Have each local member/candidate draw up a list of sustainable job options for their area and what assistance they think might grow employment in their electorate.  Instead of issuing talking points for media appearances, have your members do some work in their electorates and report back.

Policy should be informed by what experts and stakeholders say rather than in response to what focus groups or shock jocks say.  I may be biased in this, but I think teachers would be able to better advise you on how to simplify your policy objective into a message that is understandable to the public (that is our job) than young marketing/advertising gurus offering image advice and competing slogans.  It’s not about selling it – it’s about simplifying it and making it relevant.

Polls mean nothing as shown by the last election.  Stop worrying about who is friggin’ leader and just do the job.  Personally, I would rather see some courage and conviction than ‘adaptability’ and some sort of Survivor leadership blame game.

But I think George hit the nail on the head – fear and hate is exhausting, we crave inspiration.

 

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“I called the Royal Commission”

Scott Morrison seems to feel the fact that a Four Corners investigation forced him to call a Royal Commission into Aged Care cancels out how it has been the Coalition’s own actions and inactions that have caused this crisis.

In May, I wrote an article about How John Howard contributed to the aged care crisis.

It is a horror story of how the Howard government paved the way for profiteering and neglect – nursing home operators no longer had to allocate a set proportion of government subsidies to patient care, links between the level of funding received and the number of qualified staff employed were removed, the previous requirement for a registered nurse to be on duty was scrapped, and no spot checks were carried out.

In May 2018, Bill Shorten said that the aged care industry was “in a state of national crisis”.

“That’s extreme language, but this situation in aged care calls for extreme,” Mr Shorten said, arguing the government has been “asleep at the wheel” for the last five years.

Aged Care Minister, Ken Wyatt, responded angrily.

“I’m slow to anger but I must admit that recently the Opposition Leader commenting that the system is in crisis and a national disgrace was not becoming of what I would expect in a bilateral and bipartisan approach to aged care.

“This demeans every one of those dedicated aged care workers and it achieves nothing but instilling fear into the hearts and minds of older Australians, just like Labor did in the lead-up to the last election when they were peddling ‘Medi-scare’ lies designed to scare the most deserving.

“For the Opposition Leader to continue this fear-mongering is verging on the abuse of elder Australians and it must stop.”

Mr Wyatt argued that the Turnbull government cared more about older Australians than Labor given their proposal to remove the cash refund arrangement on excess dividend imputation credits.

Seriously.

A couple of days before the Four Corners investigation, Who Cares, was to air, Scott Morrison rushed to announce a Royal Commission into Aged Care.  This was a government turnaround directly in anticipation of the damning ABC expose.

When interviewed for the program about a month earlier, Wyatt had said a royal commission would be an unnecessary move because the Government was already reviewing the sector.

“A royal commission, after two years and maybe $200 million being spent on it, will come back with the same set or a very similar set of recommendations,” he said, preferring to see that money go towards frontline aged care services.

Emails revealed at the RC show a flurry of activity in response to programs on the ABC whilst reports from the department on how to address the problems languished on the Minister’s desk.

Protecting his precious surplus, Morrison is willing to let people die while waiting for help.

Not only that, he wants kudos for calling yet another inquiry into a crisis of his party’s making in its never-ending pursuit of profit and deregulation

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Why is it so?

If you are as old as me, you might recall Julius Sumner Miller’s program Why is it so?  It was both fascinating and terrifying as we saw him confront quaking school students with scientific problems and ask them for an explanation.

Imagine if he did the same with politicians.

Why would mentioning boat turnbacks be forbidden because they “send a message to people smugglers” whereas braying about “foiled terrorist plots” and televising police raids is ok?

Why do Labor see the benefit of bringing government, unions and business together but point-blank refuse to work with the Greens on policy formation?

Why is a surplus more important than fixing our aged care system and lifting people on Newstart out of poverty?

Why are we claiming to have “smashed” our Kyoto target of reducing emissions to 5% below 2000 levels when they are now 0.5% above 2000 levels?

Why is it legal to sack people for not being religious but not ok to sack religious people for proselytising or discriminating in inclusive workplaces?

Why are so many government contracts awarded without a tender process and with any details obscured by phrases like “commercial-in-confidence” or “national security”?

Why do Australian government schools receive the third-lowest funding in the OECD, with only Turkey and Colombia doing worse?

Why is the government pursuing deregulation and privatisation when we have seen the shocking results of that in the banking, aged care, and energy sectors?

Why do we sack public servants and then spend billions on consultants?

Why does the government use public funds for political ads?

Why are we allowing big agribusinesses to harvest water and then paying them a fortune for the rights to buy it back from them?

Why are we condoning rampant land-clearing when it is having such a devastating effect through erosion, sediment run-off, changing rainfall patterns and increasing emissions?

Why do politicians fly all over the country to have their photo taken with a shovel?

Why are we so obsequious to the madman who currently occupies the White House?

Why are politicians paid huge allowances to sleep in their investment properties?

Why were women criticised as double-dippers if their workplace also offered them paid maternity leave when ex-politicians can receive a pension whilst still working in highly paid government quangos and sinecures?

Why does the government rail against subsidies for renewable energy (or the vehicle manufacturing industry) yet fiercely protect fossil fuel subsidies?

Why are the police investigating and prosecuting whistleblowers but not the crimes and corruption they expose?

Why are Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor still ministers after overwhelming evidence of their incompetence and shady dealings?

Why do we pursue a paternalistic approach that has entrenched Indigenous disadvantage rather than seeking advice from them on how to close the gap?

Why are over 3 million people, including 17.3% of children, living in poverty and over 116,000 people remain homeless in such a wealthy nation that has experienced uninterrupted growth for almost three decades?

Why are young disabled people put in aged care facilities?

Why did we underspend the NDIS budget by $4.6 billion when people are crying out for help?

Why are there 120,000 older Australians waiting almost two years to receive Home Care Packages?

Why are genuine refugees still incarcerated on Manus and Nauru?

This list could go on forever.

Why is it so?

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The more you tell me to shut up, the louder I am going to get

So this is what we have sunk to – a Prime Minister who wants us all to be quiet and, if we don’t, he’ll make us.

He doesn’t want us to talk about his government’s woeful record on greenhouse gas emissions.  He doesn’t want us to talk about reefs dying and rivers drying up and mass extinctions.  He doesn’t want us to choose ethical investments in sustainable industries.

He wants to bully insurance companies into insuring unviable projects and he wants banks to lend money to uncommercial ventures.  He wants to make our superannuation funds invest in what will inevitably become stranded assets.

The idea that one would get their investment advice from the likes of mummy’s boy Matt Canavan is hilarious.

But when our PM directly threatens us with retaliation if we speak out, it stops being funny.

Morrison vowed to outlaw the “indulgent and selfish” practices of environmental groups who campaign against Australian businesses that work with companies and industries they are opposed to, such as coal.

Oh yeah?  How?  You can’t tell us what to invest in or buy.  You can’t stop us from sharing information about the business practices of different companies.  You can’t stop companies from legitimately pursuing ethical and sustainable practice as a commercial advantage.

It is not “radical activism” to be concerned about our deteriorating environment.  We are fighting for our survival.

You are not the Messiah, Scott.  You are just a very inadequate ad man who elbowed his way to the front over the fallen bodies of your colleagues in the roller derby of Australian politics.

And if you think you can shut us up, you are sadly mistaken.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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No penalty for lying

With the frenetic pace of reporting nowadays, yesterday’s news is quickly forgotten.  The sheer volume of information overwhelms us with the result that the government can quickly move attention away from anything they do not want scrutinised.

For example…

When Reza Barati was murdered on Manus Island by the staff we employed to care for the asylum seekers we had incarcerated there, Scott Morrison told us that it was the refugees’ fault for leaving the centre and going on a violent rampage.  That was proven false.

Reza was killed inside the centre and the subsequent review commissioned by the government found that Reza was “a very gentle man” who was not involved in the unrest.  Two Australian guards allegedly involved in the murder were immediately brought home and have never faced charges.

When Scott Morrison’s ridiculous allegation that Save the Children staff on Nauru were encouraging children to self-harm was proven false, he refused to apologise despite the government having to pay compensation to the staff he wrongly accused and removed.

When there was a shooting incident on Manus, Peter Dutton said it occurred after local people witnessed asylum seekers leading a five-year-old boy towards the centre suggesting they were luring him away to sexually assault him.  This was, once again, completely wrong.

The shooting came from drunken sailors in an argument over a soccer field.  A couple of weeks earlier, asylum seekers had given a ten year old child food after he asked for some.  The incidents were entirely unrelated and misrepresented by Dutton.

Barnaby Joyce would have us believe that the woman he got pregnant was not his partner when he secured jobs for her in other MPs’ offices.  The spike in the number of non-sitting nights he spent in Canberra were ‘work-related’ according to Barnaby.  In response to multiple allegations of sexual harassment from other women, Barnaby basically said ‘prove it’.

Michaelia Cash still contends that her referral to the ROC of a ten year old donation by the AWU was not political and that she had nothing to do with tipping off the media about AFP raids.  Uh huh…

And then we have Angus Taylor, the man who congratulates himself on facebook forgetting to change accounts first.  Angus is racking up a lot of very questionable dealings where the truth seems to get lost in his bluster.

There was his involvement in an $80 million water buyback scheme/scam, his meetings with the Environment Minister to ‘raise concerns from farmers in his electorate’ about endangered grasslands (producing a letter that was written months after the meeting), and now his unbelievable attack on Clover Moore using a fraudulent document.

The death taxes campaign at the last election was the government at its manipulative, dishonest worst.

In some cases, such as Craig Kelly, the disinformation is due to stupidity but that didn’t stop the PM from interceding to make sure this dill was preselected against the wishes of the local Liberals and awarding him, of all people, the job of chairing the environment committee.  Kelly is so full of crap that he has been banned from appearing on the ABC but he is given open slather on Sky After Dark to spin his bullshit.

Time and again, government MPs get away with telling blatant untruths with no adverse consequences – for them at least.

The consequence for the rest of us is the undermining of trust in the institutions that govern our country and a tawdry decline into a political world where winning is all that counts and transparency and accountability are to be avoided at any cost.

When there is no penalty for lying, we get leaders like Donald Trump and his Billy Bunter groupie, ScoMo, who think having their photo taken with thumbs up saying “how good are we” substitutes for competence, honesty and integrity.

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Indoctrination blinds and binds us

In my role as an executor for a deceased estate, I was recently asked to swear on the bible (I took the option to ‘affirm’ instead) and it struck me how silly that all is.

Our politicians swear an oath before they take their seat in parliament.

I, ___, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law. SO HELP ME GOD!

They are given an option to do an affirmation instead.

I, ___, do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law.

The Parliament of Australia website offers some advice about the use of the bible.

“The oath of allegiance need not necessarily be made on the authorised version of the Bible, although this has been the common practice. A Member may recite the oath while holding another form of Christian holy book, or, in respect of a non–Christian faith, a book or work of such a nature. The essential requirement is that every Member taking an oath should take it in a manner which affects his or her conscience regardless of whether a holy book is used or not.”

My question is why the hell are we swearing allegiance to a tourist attraction in the UK and what the hell the bible has to do with it.

Archaic obeisance and indoctrination are no way to run an independent social democracy.

We must liberate ourselves from the rituals of monarchy and church and become a nation who puts the well-being of its citizens first and foremost.

It is not only in religion and homage to the queen that we see the perils of indoctrination.  Adherence to economic doctrine also has a stultifying effect on the ability to judge and react to changing circumstances.

Coalition governments will always say that taxes must be reduced.  They think if the rich pay less towards the upkeep of the society that provides the environment that created their wealth, this will translate to benefit for all.

The only way to uphold that belief is to ignore all evidence of current economic reality and adhere to the belief that lower taxes are, in themselves, a good thing regardless.

There is a renewed push by the business lobbyists who control the government to reduce company tax rates because Donald Trump did.

Aside from the fact that thinking anything Trump does is worth copying, the evidence shows that our lack of coherent policy is a much greater deterrent to investment than our tax rate.

Clinton Fernandes, Professor of International and Political Studies at UNSW, analysed the ownership of Australia’s 20 biggest companies a few days after the 2019 federal election in May. Of those 20, 15 were majority-owned by US-based investors. Three more were at least 25% US-owned.

…all four of our big banks are majority-owned by American investors. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s biggest company, is more than 60% owned by American-based investors.

So too are Woolworths and Rio Tinto. BHP, once known as “the Big Australian”, is 73% owned by American-based investors.

With all the concessions available to companies in Australia, our tax rate is pretty irrelevant.

Indoctrination, whether it is religious, monarchist, or economic, has no place in government which must be able to react to the changing needs of our society and a rapidly moving global context.

Praying for solutions or going to state dinners or having your photo taken being an Alfie Langer water boy is not what governing is about.

Indoctrination confers a certainty that rejects calls for transparency and accountability, rejects questioning, resists change.

We can’t afford that any more.

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Police? Political? Nevah!

If the police want the public to believe that they are not a political tool, they should stop acting like one.

In 2012, the OECD Anti-bribery taskforce politely pointed out that the AFP were basically doing fuck-all about some very serious allegations of foreign bribery.

“Out of 28 foreign bribery referrals that have been received by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), 21 have been concluded without charges. The Working Group thus recommends that the AFP take sufficient steps to ensure that foreign bribery allegations are not prematurely closed, and be more proactive in gathering information from diverse sources at the pre-investigative stage.” (See Annex 4 for specifics)

Among many areas identified for improvement, the working group stressed that “Protection of whistleblowers in the public and private sectors need to be strengthened.”

But hey, the AFP were very busy in 2012 investigating allegations by whistleblower James Ashby about Peter Slipper’s misuse of cab charges.  Despite Slipper being exonerated of the heinous charge of using $900 to visit a winery – which he offered to repay but wasn’t allowed because the AFP were already ‘investigating’ – his career and personal life were destroyed.

Investigations by the AFP into the illegal copying and distribution of Mr Slipper’s diary to the media were dropped.

See – they do protect whistleblowers.

Then we have the AFP raids on the media to see how they found out about alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan and about a proposal to widen surveillance laws on Australian citizens.

But the investigation into who leaked classified national security advice about border protection during the medevac legislation debate was dropped “due to the limited prospects of identifying a suspect”.

This pattern was also followed during the investigation into who tipped off the media that the AFP were raiding AWU headquarters about a ten-year-old donation with links to Bill Shorten.

Despite Michaelia Cash’s media adviser admitting that he told journalists before the raid, no charges were pursued.

“The AFP can confirm the CDPP has advised they will not be proceeding with a prosecution as there are no reasonable prospects of conviction.  The AFP considers this investigation finalised.”

Even though it was Cash who referred the allegations of possible misconduct to the Registered Organisations Commission, who then conducted what a judge has ruled was an “invalid” investigation because the rules state that if after four years an alleged contravention of union rules had not been acted upon, it was “deemed to have been in compliance” with the rules, and even though it was her office that tipped off the media – the union’s claim that the raid was politically motivated was dismissed.

In October last year, AFP officers raided the Department of Home Affairs in Canberra as part of an investigation into “destabilising leaks against Peter Dutton over his ministerial interventions to save a number of foreign au pairs from deportation.”  Seriously, is this a productive use of their time?

We saw how the NSW police handled Craig Thomson.

It will be interesting to see how they now deal with the apparently forged document quoted by Angus Taylor to attack Clover Moore.

What would be even more interesting is if they actually punished people committing real crimes like in the Securency/One Note foreign bribery case where a few fall guys got a suspended sentence.  I’m still not sure if I am even allowed to talk about that.

Police forces often complain about a lack of resources.  I think employing someone who can prioritise what’s important would be a really good start.

If you want respect, show you deserve it.

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The Coalition money shuffle

One of Joe Hockey’s first acts as Treasurer in 2013 was to gift the RBA $8.8 billion.  The main reason for this was to make Labor’s deficit look bigger.  As a side bonus, it allowed the RBA to invest in the forex market, banking on the Australian dollar losing value as the mining boom subsided.

And that is exactly what happened allowing the government to draw…wait for it…$8.8 billion in dividends over the last six years.  That’s all very well (if we ignore how the Coalition screamed like stuck pigs when Labor took a one-off dividend of $500 million in 2013) except Hockey borrowed the $8.8 billion so we are still paying interest on it.

We have also paid a fortune in “fees for banking services” as investment banks have raked in hundreds of millions in trading fees.

Had Hockey not engaged in this political chicanery, we would be billions of dollars better off.

And then there are the six Future Funds which contained $198.8 billion as at June 30 this year.

The direct cost of managing these funds was over $1 billion for the last three years alone.

The DisabilityCare Australia Fund had $16.4 billion sitting in it, which must be aggravating to the many people still waiting to access services or those who have had their services reduced.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund (ATSILS Fund) was established in February 2019 with a capital contribution of $2 billion transferred from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account.

The purpose of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, to whom the fund will make payments apparently at the discretion of the Minister if the investment mandate targets have been met, is to acquire and manage land, water and water-related rights so as to attain economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits.  One wonders how much will actually be handed over for that purpose now that Peter Costello has his hands on it.  I am sure the mining companies would prefer that money to be tied up rather than used.

In July, the government deposited another $7.8 billion into the Medical Research Future Fund.  As we were still in deficit, this was a pretty amazing feat which must have come at the cost of other research cuts and/or interest costs for the borrowed money.  It’s interesting how they can find a lazy $8 billion when they want to.

The Education Investment Fund, originally intended for new facilities in the higher education sector, had payments frozen in 2013 and it has been accumulating funds since.  These have now been taken to create the government’s new $4 billion Emergency Response Fund.

Then, on 1 September 2019, the assets of the Building Australia Fund were transferred to the newly created Future Drought Fund.

The original Future Fund was established in 2006, funded in part from budget surpluses but mainly from the sale of Telstra.  As at June 30, there was $162.6 billion sitting in it.

Kevin Rudd, as Opposition leader, suggested using $2.7 billion of it to invest in a National Broadband Network with profits being returned to the Future Fund.  The Howard government screamed blue murder, claiming that Labor intended to “raid” the Future Fund for their own means.  Gee, that has worked out well for us hasn’t it.

While legislation permits drawdowns from the Future Fund from 1 July 2020, the Government announced in the 2017-18 budget that it will refrain from making withdrawals until at least 2026-27.

What on earth is the point of sitting on that pile of money when only 20% of it is invested in Australia?

The ten year return has been 10.4% for the Future Fund which might sound good until you look at Infrastructure Australia’s High Priority Project list where every project has a cost benefit ratio of better than that.

We could be employing people in productivity enhancing infrastructure construction. We could be increasing primary healthcare and reducing hospital waiting times to save money and improve quality of life.  We could be investing in research and education, both of which bring a far greater return than 10%.

But the Coalition are obsessed with accumulating cash and apparently have zero understanding of the value of actually using the money for the benefit of our economy and our citizens.

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Instead of excluding homosexuals, the church should exclude homophobes

Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and Synod president, has told homosexual people that they should abandon the church.

“My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture. Please leave us.

“We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”

Change our doctrine?  Here’s some “plain teaching of Scripture” for you Glenn.

James 4:11-12

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Romans 14:1-13

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Titus 3:2-7

“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, …”

Colossians 3:12-15

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Matthew 25:41-46

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

In speaking about homosexuals, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Davies and his ilk, by passing judgement and seeking to exclude people, are the ones who are going against the doctrine of the church.  Perhaps the homophobes might like to form their own church because they sure as hell do not represent the teachings of Christ.

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Tim Wilson – modern liberal or con man?

When George Brandis created a very high-paying job as a human rights commissioner to gift to Tim Wilson without any selection process, it raised many eyebrows, not least because Wilson, in his role at the IPA, had been calling for the abolition of the very organisation he was now to join.

But that conundrum pales into insignificance in comparison to freedom boy’s new found embrace of action on climate change – a change of heart that followed the shock loss in the Wentworth byelection.

Tim has now joined the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action group and is hitting the airwaves to tell us all about it.

“Some of us want sensible, sustainable policy that confronts Australia’s emissions challenge, focuses on technology and economic growth and doesn’t leave Australians behind,” he said.

Well, that’s terrific Tim, except, having a memory slightly longer than a goldfish, I recall what you said when you were Director of Climate Change Policy at the IPA.

Here is Tim in 2012 arguing for us to get out of Kyoto.

When covering the Copenhagen climate change talks in 2009, Tim was at his witty worst.

“for the first time in the ten year history of the Awards, the “Ray of the Day” Award was given out to Tuvalu for arguing for a binding, international treaty to cut global carbon dioxide emissions.  If the event weren’t such a farce, it’d almost be funny.”

Or this enlightened appraisal…

“…there was a much greater presence of anti-capitalist sentiment amongst protestors today with placards and posters decrying “toxic capitalism” and “change the system, not the climate”.

But opposition to capitalism clearly only went so far with a little coffee stall where you could get a “green bean” coffee.

I presume the protestors turned a blind eye to the fact that beans were imported from the other side of the world by a carbon emitting shipping line and traded on globalised international markets.

But considering how cold it is in Copenhagen I can understand putting ideology to one side especially when the objective is to warm up. Oh, except when it is the climate.”

For Tim, it’s all about the money.

“For developed countries, the negotiations are about how much they have to give to that adaptation financing pool, and how much they’ll have to harm their economies and their competitive advantage against developing countries through emissions reduction as well.”

But if you think our economy is his major concern, you would be wrong.  Tim is singularly focused on his own economy and there is not a principle he wouldn’t ditch in order to feather his own nest.

In a revealing interview in the SMH in 2014, Wilson explains his tactics.

He became heavily involved with student politics, eventually becoming president of the Student Union in 2001, thanks in part to his talent for favour-trading – plying opponents with “a whole bunch of delegateships” in return for their support. He also had “this really clever little trick”, using a digital camera, “which very few people had back then”, to take photos of himself at university club functions, several of which he would attend in a single night. He would then send the photos to the club magazines the next morning. “They didn’t have any photos, certainly not that immediately. So they’d run them, and of course, I was in half of them, and it made me look as if I was the centre of everything.”

The only thing that qualifies this dilettante to be a leader in our country is his overweening self-confidence, his shameless self-promotion, and his ability to brazenly claim that there is nothing inconsistent in his weathervane flip-flopping.

 

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Dutton The Dud strikes again

Peter Dutton has used his preferred diplomatic channel, 2GB, to mightily piss off our biggest trading partner by saying that the policies of the Communist Party of China are “inconsistent with those of Australia.”

Further wading into the mire, he proclaimed that “Australia is not going to allow university students to be unduly influenced by China, the theft of intellectual property or the hacking of government or non-government organisations.”

The reaction from the Chinese was predictable, calling his comments “irrational”, “shocking” and “baseless”.

“We strongly condemn his malicious slur on the Communist Party of China, which constitutes an outright provocation to the Chinese people,” it said in a statement.  “Such ridiculous rhetoric severely harms the mutual trust between China and Australia and betrays the common interests of the two peoples.”

The only surprising thing here is that anyone is surprised by Dutton’s comments.  He seems to be on a mission to offend as many people as he can.

In 2008, he chose not to be present in the chamber during the apology to the Stolen Generations because it would do nothing for “kids who are being raped and tortured in communities in the 21st century.”

On 11 September 2015, Dutton was overheard on an open microphone, before a community meeting on Syrian refugees, joking about rising sea levels in the Pacific Islands. He said, “time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door”.

The foreign minister of the Marshall Islands at the time, Tony deBrum, responded by writing the “insensitivity knows no bounds in the big polluting island down [south]” and the “Next time waves are battering my home [and] my kids are scared, I’ll ask Peter Dutton to come over, and he is still probably laughing,”

Before the 2016 election, Dutton said of refugees “many … won’t be numerate or literate in their own language let alone English”, and “These people would be taking Australian jobs”.

Then In November 2016, Dutton said it was a mistake by the Malcolm Fraser administration to have admitted Lebanese Muslim immigrants because second and third-generation descendants were terrorists.

In March 2018 Dutton made calls to treat white South African farmers as refugees, stating that “they need help from a civilised country”.  The Australian High Commissioner was subsequently summoned by the South African foreign ministry, which expressed its offence at Dutton’s statements, and demanded a “full retraction”

Dutton was roundly ridiculed when he said that people in Melbourne were too scared to go out to dinner because of “African gang violence”.

One could be forgiven for dismissing Dutton as an oafish lout who has no empathy, no respect, no communication skills, and no fucking idea how to win co-operation – but the reality is probably much more sinister,

Peter Dutton is a political animal who seems to think that being racist will appeal to us.

Considering his vote went up in the last election despite his appalling performance, he may be right.

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Labor are losing their nerve

When the Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull won 76 seats in the 2016 election, it was generally accepted that Turnbull had “blown it” and the knives were quickly sharpened.  Yet when the ad man wins 77 seats, he is hailed as a messiah that has delivered a decisive victory enabling the Coalition to do whatever they damn well please.

Let’s be clear about that election result.

Leaving out Queensland, in the rest of the country, Labor won 62 seats compared to the Coalition’s 54.  That is a resounding victory.

We have the government that Queensland thrust upon us against the wishes of every other state and territory (except WA – the only other state where the Coalition won a majority of seats).

Instead of highlighting that endorsement, Labor are flapping around like a dying Murray cod, desperately trying to find something or someone to blame.

Labor’s agriculture and resources spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, told Gerard Henderson’s Sydney Institute that the ALP should offer “a political and policy settlement” on climate policy “to make 28% the target by 2030”.  Matt Keogh agrees.

This view has nothing to do with science or jobs or responsible governance and everything to do with self-serving politics.

“How many times are we going to let it kill us? Indeed, how many leaders do we want to lose to it?” said Fitzgibbon whose primary vote in his coal-mining electorate fell 14% at the last election.

If Fitzgibbon was worth his salt, he would be pointing out to his constituents that opening Adani will lead to job losses in existing coal mines.  He should recognise that automation will also threaten coal-mining jobs and be transitioning his electorate towards more sustainable industries and employment.

Did I mention climate change?

At the time when we need them most, Labor are losing their nerve.

Fitzgibbon did say one thing with which I agree – “Labor’s equivocation over the Adani coal mine left us in no man’s land,” though I doubt we mean the same thing when we say that.

Speaking of Adani, despite government approvals being fast-tracked and a timetable of what happens next being published by the Coordinator-General, Adani continues to fail to meet deadlines.

The royalties agreement with the Queensland government was supposed to be finalised by September 30.  That deadline has now been put back to November 30.  Worryingly, the timetable now says “Agreement not required for construction of mine or rail to commence.”

Infrastructure and interface agreements with the Whitsunday RC and the DMRT also missed their September 30 deadline with hopes now that they will be concluded mid-October.

Accreditation as a Rail Infrastructure Manager (RIM) and Rolling Stock Operator (RSO) – Stage 1: construction and Stage 2: commissioning of rollingstock – were supposed to be concluded by July 31.  The latest release on October 1 states that “Adani will continue to work with the Commonwealth Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator to obtain necessary approvals. This approval not on the critical path and the Coordinator-General will continue to monitor.”

As climate activists around the world hit the streets pleading with governments to take urgent action, Labor is missing a crucial opportunity, preferring to investigate how they can be more like the Coalition.

Trying to appeal to Queenslanders is a road to ruin.  Have a go at the people they choose to represent them – Peter Dutton, Matt Canavan, George Christensen, Stuart Robert, James McGrath, Andrew Laming, Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts, Bob Katter – what a sorry bunch.

We need strong leadership and conviction to tackle the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.  Sadly, Labor seems more interested in courting votes from those who will never vote for them than in saving the planet.

 

Now is NOT the time to be a ‘quiet Australian’

There is a disturbing trend emerging in Australia where the government is increasingly trying to silence the people.

They have painted unionists as lawless thugs and removed our ability to withhold our labour without their pre-arranged permission.

They have made charity funding dependent on them being uncritical of government policy.

They label conservationists and animal welfare groups as ecoterrorists and are pushing forward with legislation to make protesting unlawful if it causes any sort of disruption.

Public servants, journalists and whistleblowers face prosecution if they reveal what the government is doing.

They claim the gay community has “an agenda” and are therefore trying to introduce laws that make discrimination against them legal but discrimination against religious people illegal.

They dismiss school students who are concerned about inaction on climate change as being brainwashed by virtue-signalling elites and tell them to be quiet and get back to school.

Our leaders seem to feel impervious but they would do well to take some lessons from the past.

“We wear no mark; we belong to every class; we permeate every class of the community from the highest to the lowest; and so you see in the woman’s civil war the dear men of my country are discovering it is absolutely impossible to deal with it: you cannot locate it, and you cannot stop it.”

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst – Connecticut 1913

“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom.

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Anti-Apartheid activist Nelson Mandela – High treason trial 1964

 “In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by nonviolence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.”

Independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi – Address to the A.I.C.C. 1942

 “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

Civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King – March on Washington 1963

“Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s; without hope the us’s give up. I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.”

Gay rights activist Harvey Milk – Hope Speech 1978

“Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.”

Anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass – New York 1852

Perhaps the final word of encouragement – or warning – should come from Noam Chomsky’s “Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America”:

“If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.”

Will Australians be forced from their complacency?  Will self-interest prevail until the masses rise up?

The time for swallowing bullshit is over.  They leave us no choice but to make our voices heard in ways and numbers that they cannot ignore.

“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.” Uluru Statement from the Heart

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