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Rossleigh is a writer, director and teacher. As a writer, his plays include “The Charles Manson Variety Hour”, “Pastiche”, “Snap!”, “That’s Me In The Distance”, “48 Hours (without Eddie Murphy)”, and “A King of Infinite Space”. His acting credits include “Pinor Noir Noir” for “Short and Sweet” and carrying the coffin in “The Slap”. His ten minutes play, “Y” won the 2013 Crash Test Drama Final.

Frydenberg: Best Economic Manager Ever Improves Budget By $60 Billion Overnight!

It’s been quite a week for the Coalition government what with China calling us a joke after cancelling some of our exports, Peter “He Who Must Not Be Named” Dutton calling for the opening of borders, and Stuart Robert trying to shut down the Abbotsford Centrelink office. In the case of the Centrelink office, it was announced that they were being evicted the next day because of an inability to reach agreement with the landlord who – according to reports – had offered them an extension of the lease at the same rent. Evidently, the people in charge of Centrelink hadn’t heard that the Morrison government had announced a six months freeze on evictions.

Of course all that fades into insignificance when it’s put beside Josh Frydenberg’s remarkable achievement. He has improved the Budget bottom line by $60,000,000,000 in just twenty four hours. To give you some perspective, this is more than Rudd spent in total on his stimulus package. It’s ten times more than the entire federal Arts budget. Why it’s even more than Bridget McKenzie spent on girls’ change rooms prior to the last election.

While many people are asking how this could happen, I don’t think it’s the time for laying blame or contributing to the GoFundMe campaign to buy Josh a calculator, I think we should all just be happy that we’ve managed to save so much money… Of course, when I say “save” I don’t really mean save because after all, as our great Treasurer pointed out, “This is all borrowed money.”

That’s right, the money we haven’t spent isn’t saved, it’s just not borrowed from wherever it is that government’s borrow money. Some of it comes from bonds where the government borrow money from people who want to put their money somewhere secure. For example, your superannuation fund might be buying it up if you hadn’t just accessed your super because the government said you were allowed to. Now if you’re one of the the people who hasn’t done that then there’s a very good chance that you’re getting interest from the government bonds and you’re the sort of capitalist bastard who’s squeezing money out of the taxpayer.

For those of you who still insist on holding someone to account, let me quickly explain what happened. When the government announced that JobKeeper would cost $130 billion, they were working on a figure of $1500 per fortnight multiple by thirteen fortnights for the six months multiplied by six million workers. The only mistake they made was the assumption that six million workers would be on JobKeepeer. Now, in hindsight, it’s easy to say that six million workers is a rather large number to be on JobKeeper given that Australia’s entire workforce was only about twelve million, that some of them would be put on JobSeeker, that, not only would some businesses not be eligible or fail to apply, but some people would be essential workers who didn’t lose their jobs, that some of them were casuals who didn’t fit the criteria, that some of them worked for universities and didn’t deserve money because they think they’re too clever by half, that others worked in the Arts industry and still others had decided to jump on a cruise ship and take their chances rather than stay in the country. However, like I said, who could have predicted all these things unless they looked up the statistics on the ABS website and tried to make a more accurate estimate. I mean time was of the essence and slowing down to look up numbers and calculate a more realistic figure would have delayed the announcement to the next news bulletin.

And then, of course, there’s the fact that it was the businesses themselves couldn’t understand that how many employees do you have meant exactly that and not how much do you expect to get. I mean, who hasn’t made a simple mistake like that. When I’m filling out a form which asks how many children I have, I frequently write the cost of raising him rather than “1”. One could blame the people designing the form for not stressing that number of employees meant exactly what it said. Fortunately though, nobody who wrote 1500 was actually sent the $2 million plus in that first week, because we were told that there were no overpayments.

Clearly this is nobody’s fault – apart from the aforementioned business people and the people who designed the form and they’re not really to blame – so we should all just congratulate the Liberals and say that thank god the adults are in charge because there’s no way Labor would have done anything like this.

Yes, Josh Frydenberg is right. Liberals are there to take the credit but never the blame.

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Scottie, It’s Time To Get Democracy From Under The Doona!

Just twelve months ago, I was thinking about what a challenge writing was going to be. I mean, I expected that we were going to have a Shorten Labor government and, while I was sure that it would only be a matter of time before I’d be able to apply my satiric style to them, I was sure it was going to be more of a challenge. Let’s be real. With the Coalition the satire practically writes itself.

Take, for example, Scottie telling us that it’s time to get out from under the doona and that we need to get things moving again while it’s still too dangerous to fully re-open Parliament…

Of course the danger in having a full session of Parliament has nothing to do with Covid-19; the danger is all those tricky questions people get asked in Question Time and Senate Estimates. There’s only so many times you can ‘reject the premise of the question” before someone actually says, “Well, I reject the premise of your rejection!” leading to a premise rejecting interchange reminiscent of Monty Python’s argument sketch.

The strange thing to me about politics is the stupidity of what we discuss.

Now I’m not holding myself up as someone outside the stupidity here. I’m not trying to suggest that somehow I’m above it all and it’s all your fault. I’m just saying that there’s something basically wrong with the way we discuss politics. Because the media is all about conflict, it means that when we have that dinner party and people start to disagree we’re all concerned that it’s going to end up like a discussion between a Trump supporter and a supporter of ISIS whereas the reality is that we all share more common values than the media would have us believe… even the Trump and the ISIS guys…

Actually, probably especially the Trump and ISIS guys…

But anyway, we have people popping up all over social media talking about 5G and complaining about the conspiracy of silence over Bill Gates determination to control the world, but we have almost nobody concerned about the legislation that Dutton is trying to slip through that would enable him to arrest Morrison and prevent his access to a lawyer because the lawyer keeps making it difficult to obtain a confession.

Ok, ok, I know this is Australia and that sort of thing would never be done even though the legislation allows it. I mean, a few years ago people were concerned that some of the security legislation could be used to intimidate journalists and that’s never happened…

Well, as far as we know it’s never happened. Some of it would be illegal to report, so we just have to trust people, content in the knowledge that no journalist has been charged yet and as far as that Annika Smethurst is concerned if you’ve got nothing to hide there’s no problem with the AFP going through your underwear drawers.

In order to write this, I decided that it might be interesting to re-read the Liberal Party’s “Real Solutions” booklet. I suspect that’s not available in most good bookstores but here’s a copy

.

Now what do you notice about all the people on the front cover? Apart from the obvious that they were all ministers in Abbott’s attempt to prevent us from being too smug about the USA electing Donald Trump.

That’s right. There’s not a single one of them left in the government. (That’s Warren Truss, not Eric Aidsandabetz, in case you were going to try and point that the latter is still haunting the Senate like the ghost of Christmas Past.)

It’s pretty interesting when you think about it. I mean, you’d expect a few to have moved on, but just two elections later and nobody who was considered senior enough to make the front cover is left.

Which makes me wonder to what extent, Scottie was able to pull it off last year because voters thought of him as a new government and didn’t associate him with the mess from Abbott and Turnbull. After all, you only have to look at the way the media is presenting him as a candidate for canonisation due to his handling of the Covid-19 crisis. It seems to be something along the lines of, “He hasn’t stuffed up like he did with the bushfires because, not only did he stay in the country this time, but he also changed his mind about going to the football. Clearly he’s learned and is now up there with people like Menzies, Gandhi, Jesus and Alexander the Great.”

Of course, I still think of the fable about the scorpion and the frog*

I mean how else can you explain someone who’s put everyone on government benefits now complaining and telling us people shouldn’t be on government benefits and we need to get out from under the doona? How else do you explain someone suggesting that we need to Improve productivity (read lower wages) because nothing stimulates demand like workers on less money? And how else do we explain that every time a new advisory body is formed we find it’s stacked with ex-Liberal MPs and fossil fuel executives regardless of whether they have any expertise in that area or not.

Actually did you notice the story that Covid-19 recovery guy, Nev Power, is talking up a pipeline to take gas from WA to the eastern states. Some have suggested that because Nev is a director of Stryke Energy there appears to be a conflict of interest but as the Liberals frequently tell us, just because someone will benefit from the advice they give the government doesn’t mean there’s a conflict. Quite the opposite!

Yes, we can expect Saint Scottie of Marketing to soon be telling us that we’ve had our fine and it’s time to balance the budget again. We will do this by a combination of cutting services and government payments, while giving businesses big tax cuts. Why would cut taxes when we’re trying to make the budget balance and there’s no evidence that it’ll lead to more jobs?

Well, as the scorpion told the frog, “It’s my nature!”

”A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, both would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog then agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature.”

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They Tell Me The Internet Is Down; I Know Bill Gates Is To Blame…

Ya gotta love a good conspiracy theory!

Unfortunately the only good one I’ve ever heard is about a society so secret that not only does nobody know who they are, but nobody even knows why they exist and what they’re ultimate aim is.

Generally speaking, I tend to steer clear of people who use the word “sheeple” when they try to convince me that I’m just fooled by the mainstream media and I’m incapable of thinking for myself. Of course, when people tell me that I shouldn’t trust the government, various multinationals and other organisations, I do understand where they’re coming from. It’s just that when someone says, “I’m a discerning individual who suspects that we’re being deliberately fed misinformation and here are the facts!” I’d be more inclined to take them seriously if they hadn’t decided to believe everything contained in that Plandemic video without watching it because someone they don’t know posted stuff on Facebook that warned them that 5G towers were the combination of billionaires and communists trying to take over the world. “Green starts with “G” and it has five letters in it, so The Greens are clearly behind the 5G and it won’t be long before we’re all required to have vaccinations containing moon rocks that didn’t come from the moon because that’s another thing that was clearly faked.”

So, anyway, when the Internet went down in my area, I did wonder whether it was some conspiracy by the NBN to hide how terrible speeds were now everyone is working from home. However, my attempts to create something to rival the rag-tag group of protesters on the steps of Victorian Parliament who were demanding that golfers be allowed to play, that 5G be stopped in its tracks, that the lockdown end and Donald Trump be made supreme leader of Australia so that we can arrest Bill Gates, hit a brick wall when I discovered that the reason for my lack of Internet was workman accidental cutting through cables.

Allegedly…

As for the protest, it was interesting to hear Scott Morrison assert that it’s a free country in response. This was quite different from his announcement after the climate protests where he told us that he was going to be looking at measures to stop these protests from interfering with people going about their business. Yep, people flouting the laws about social distancing were ok, because it’s a free country but climate protesters need to have measures introduced to stop them. Seems a bit of a double standard, but then that’s been Liberal policy for years. We don’t just support standards; we support double standards.

Yes, it’s not the time for politics… unless you’re a Liberal who wants to have a crack at the Victorian Premier. Tim Smith managed to raise the tone of political debate by writing that Andrews wasn’t opening the pubs because he had nobody who’d want to drink with him. He then referred to him as “Lurch” from the Addams Family. I guess that makes it all right to call Dutton, Uncle Fester or will the Liberals once again raise their double standard.

There was an article in today’s paper about potential public sector wage rises and how these would adversely affect the economy. Ok, I’ll immediately concede the point that maybe it would be better to spend the money on a targeted program which helped get people in jobs. Maybe something like putting more people on the phones at Centrelink so some people will be able to get onto Jobseeker before they are eligible for the Age Pension. However, the final sentence confused me.

“Griffiths University economics professor Tony Makin said pulbic sector wages in Australia were cut by 20 percent in the Great Depression and should be cut again.” 

Now, I’m not an economist but I do know that most of the things that they did during the Great Depression actually prolonged it and that cutting back programs and wages didn’t actually help, so it struck me as rather odd that somebody would argue for something that was shown to be wrong. Don’t get me wrong, but it does seem like his ideas are either a) worthy of an explanation that helps us understand why he’s rejecting the prevailing wisdom about the Depression, or b) complete bullshit.

Whichever it is, this does seem to highlight the problem with discourse in the 21st Century. Politicians and journalists dismiss Twitter – frequently by tweeting their dismissal – but there’s often not much more analysis than could be contained in a 280 character tweet. This enables politicians to “reject the premise of the question” and not explain their thought process, and to ignore the nuances in any discussion about COVID-19. “We did Health last week; this week we’re discussing the economy so don’t you go talking about second waves because that’s part of last week’s talking points.”

It does strike me as a little premature for the Treasurer and others to start saying that whatever we spend now will have to be paid back. While we need a nuanced discussion about the best way to get the economy roaring along like the turtle it was pre-Coronavirus, to tweet something like that seems a bit premature. Like a doctor telling a family just before someone has surgery that the bill will need to be paid even if the patient dies.

It’s true, but it does make him sound as though the main thing on his mind is the health of his bank balance rather than the health of his patient.

Finally, I couldn’t let the occasion pass without mentioning the retirement of Alan Jones and adding my voice to the tributes. People have said that even if you disagreed with him you had to admire his ability to engage his audience. Mind you, they said the same about Hitler. Of course, it would be unfair to compare Jones to Hitler because the latter was responsible for the deaths of millions whereas Jones only occasionally called for the assault or execution of people and he would have been shocked if anyone had carried out his wishes even though he expected politicians to do it on a regular basis. So good on you, Alan, may your retirement be filled with chaff bags and socks and all those things that have given you so much pleasure over the years.

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Tim Wilson Makes His Bid For PM

“I want to go to shops!”

“Sorry, Timmy, but Mr Andrews has said that we’re not allowed until this COVID-19 is under control.”

“Pah, I don’t like that Mr Andrews. Who said that he could be boss?”

“The voters of Victoria actually elected him.”

“Silly voters. Well, I don’t like it and I’m going to tell my mummy when I see her this Sunday and…”

“Sorry but you can’t see your mother this Sunday unless it’s a carer’s visit. It’s not allowed in Victoria.”

“No fair. I want my mummy.” 

“Timmy, stand up. You know that nobody likes you when you throw yourself on the floor like that.”

“I will not! That Dan Andrews is a nasty man, and I hope that he gets told off by my mate, Scottie. Scottie is really in charge and he says that we can do what we like.”

“Now Timmy, you know that Scottie’s plan is to let people die so that he can save money on these franking credit refunds because he can’t get rid of them any other way.”

“Don’t care!” 

“Come on, Timmy. If you stop sulking Uncle Rupert will let you pretend that you’re going to be Prime Minister one day.”

“Of course, I’m going to be Prime Minister. Who else have they got. Josh? We all know what’s wrong with him!”

“Timmy, be careful.”

“He’s bald. And he looks like Peter Dutton.”

“Come on Timmy, Mr Andrews said that he’d make an announcement on Monday.”

“But I want him to make it NOW!”

“Now, now, we can’t always have what we want.”

“You might not, but I do. And I want that bossy boots to let me see my mum.” 

Ok, it might not sound like Tim Wilson is establishing his credentials to be the next leader of the Liberal Party, but you clearly haven’t looked at their recent history. No, I don’t mean preselection for Eden-Monaro where they seem to have established a consensus that Harold Holt would make the ideal candidate.

Take Tony Abbott. He just complained and whinged and sulked and called people names until there was no option but to make him the leader. Then Malcolm Turnbull said that he couldn’t serve under Tony, before Dutton threw a tantrum and forced the spill that gave us Morrison…

Actually, you can go back to the eighties and look at how John Howard undermined every attempt to make any Liberal leader PM but him.

So even though, Wilson is attacking Dan Andrews it’s actually about the internal workings of the Liberal Party. On one hand, it’s been suggested that the various Liberals complaining that Victoria is out of step with Morrison’s announcement that states would be setting their own timetables is Scott Morrison’s way of putting pressure on Andrews to reduce restrictions and enable more economic activity. This makes some sense because – as Morrison told us – we can expect more COVID-19 cases but we need to get things going because if there’s one thing more important than people dying it’s people losing their job. Particularly if that job happens to be PM. So we want the economy doing a V-shaped recovery and the Budget to be in the sort of position where they can announce that once again they’ve got it back in surplus next year… After the election.

But I think that credits Morrison with too much planning skill. After all, didn’t he tell us that he wasn’t doing the numbers and that he was ambitious for Malcolm and he didn’t even think of standing until sometime after his allies told him that he had it in the bag? How could a man that incompetent plan to put pressure on a state premier?

No, I think that they’re all just practising on Dan Andrews as a forerunner for when they say that Scottie has lost his way and he’s behaving like a dictator and the time has come to call for a spill and who cares about the new rules that prevents it happening, they can still muster enough votes on the floor of the House to bring down the government if Parliament ever sits again.

Similarly, Tim Smith – a Victorian Liberal MP – said that his attacks on the Premier “transcend politics” and when you read his tweets you’d have to think that he’s not trying to appeal to any swinging voter. By referring to the Queensland premier as “that dunce” and Andrews as “Chairman Dan”, you’d have to conclude that he’s certainly not playing politics. It’s clearly an attempt to impress his colleagues that he’s the sort of man who’d be able to rise to the role of statesman should he be given the great honour of facing the people as leader in an election campaign. This shouldn’t be viewed as partisan politics, but rather as an audition for the role of Opposition Leader in Victoria.

To believe that it’s a coordinated attack gives the current Liberals far more credit for organisation than anything in their past would suggest. Now I do understand that it’s hard for those who wanted to give their mother something special on Mother’s Day like coronavirus, I think that there’s a certain amount of false sentimentality going on here. Either you’re in regular contact with your mother for reasons of care because she’s elderly, in which case today is just one more day when you have to use social distancing when visiting, or this is the one day of the year when you make the effort and it’s going to upset her that you’re not here today because she knows that you won’t bother to visit her any other day… Ok, it’s probably somewhere in between, but wherever it is, you can probably visit next week or the week after and get her a bigger bunch of flowers because they’ll be on special.

Whatever, the restrictions won’t kill anybody’s mother. We certainly can’t say that about relaxing them too soon.

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Today’s Sermon From Saint Scotty Of Marketing

Good working day, here is the reading from the Book Of Ginasez:

In the beginning, the people had nothing, but they were not happy because they lacked something to own and so the high priests created Money and they saw that it was good and they divided the world into those who had it and those who didn’t and they told their flocks that these who had Money were meant to have Money and those that didn’t lacked Money because they hadn’t worshipped it enough. In the past few weeks, we have had a great plague which has caused some people to turn away from money and to fill their minds with thoughts of health and family and friendships. These people have forgotten the First Commandment: “I am Money, and thou shalt have no other Gods before me”.  

Yesterday I started to explain why a number of the comments from various politicians and commentators make no sense but I was halfway through a long explanation about how the economy doesn’t actually stop it merely changes when I realised that I was about as interesting as listening to Tony Abbott recall the highlights of his conversations with John Howard about cricket. Anyway, I had a moment of inspiration which may enable me to express my ideas in a much simpler form, and in keeping with the biblical theme I give you the Parable of the Toilet Paper.

The Parable of The Toilet Paper

Once there was a pandemic which led to some people grabbing as much toilet paper as they could lay their hands upon which led to a shortage in the shops and supermarkets, and this caused those who’d missed out to cry out and ask their leaders for help. 

“Oh,” the people cried, “we may have to use the Murdoch newspaper and it already comes with plenty of excrement. Help us please/”

“This is a great shame,” said the leaders, “but it is really nothing to do with us.”

“Couldn’t you, perhaps, deliver a few rolls of toilet paper to each house so that those without could get by and not have to daily risk their lives going from place to place seeking  rolls that are not there?”

“We are your government,” they replied. “We do not believe in intervening in your lives unless it suits our greater purpose.!” 

“Can’t you intervene and take the toilet paper from those who have more than enough to last ten lifetimes and give it to those without any?”

“Socialism!” cried those with the most toilet paper. “We must let market forces control the distribution of toilet paper because to do anything else would offend the great god of Mammon and his prophets. Or should that be profits? Anyway, it’s not something the government should do anything about.” 

“Quite right,” said the Man From Marketing. “those with the most toilet paper are those who had a go and if you have to go, then you should have had a go before you needed to go because those who get a go are those who aren’t using the sacred papers of Murdoch for unholy purposes.”

And so it was that some people had all the toilet paper and others had none, so we needed to get the economy moving, even if it meant sending people out in the pandemic where some would surely die.

Ok, it’s not a perfect parable but I’m only human, after all.

Anyway, the point remains. The whole urgency about starting up the economy makes some sort of sense if you’re one of the few people without any support from somewhere else, or if your business is going under, or you’re unable to live without shopping at least three times a week, I’m just wondering why so many people can say that we need to get things back up to speed as quickly as possible even if it means a few deaths. (Ok, few politicians are actually being that blunt, but check out the columns by some of the psychopaths who write for Murdoch!)  For those who were previously unemployed who are suddenly no longer trying to live below the poverty line, the idea of things going back to normal for the economy is hardly a prospect to look forward to. And while there are many reasons for wanting to get the economy up and moving again, it’s not because we’re actually running out of food. The problems we’re having are exactly like the toilet paper in the parable: We have enough, it’s just not well-distributed.

And I just can’t work out how nobody in the media seems to notice the constant series of constant flip-flops from Morrison. For example, he’s gone from “The health advice has been consistent that for children, schools are a safe space for children”  a month ago to asserting that he’d never said that reopening schools wouldn’t lead to more infections.

On schools, I read an interesting figure yesterday. Apparently Treasury estimated that keeping schools closed would cost over 302,000 jobs. This is quite an amazing figure and I can’t help but wonder if the information was downloaded by someone in Angus Taylor’s office. What assumptions went into the calculations? Over what time period? Does it assume that parents have to stay home to look after children and, if so, does it discount the likelihood that the job they lose would be picked up by someone without kids? Whatever, it does seem a high figure if you’re only talking a few more weeks before schools have a complete return.

I’m not advocating a socialist overthrow of our whole system here. I’m not even advocating that we stay like this permanently. I’m simply saying that now that so many of us have taken a step off the hamster wheel, it’s worth realising that the faster we ran, the faster the wheel went and maybe we could move a little bit more slowly when we do get back on.

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Captain Cook Roasts In Hell!

A few days ago I thought of tweeting: “Today on ANZAC Day we celebrate the turning back of boats from people trying to enter a country illegally”, but then I thought of Yassmin, and I decided that it might trigger a meltdown from all those who accuse left-wingers of being snowflakes every time they object to something someone says… Like Yassmin, my point was not about disrespecting the ANZACs who apparently went over to Turkey to defend our way of life and ensure freedom of speech, so that people are free to say whatever’s on their mind unless it’s the sort of thing that would offend John Howard, in which case they need to leave the country.

After the reaction to Victoria’s Deputy Health Officer’s tweet about Captain Cook, it seems that I was right to keep the tweet to myself. Apparently, it’s not all right to suggest that the arrival of white people had a similar effect as the introduction of COVID-19 because, well, it’s just.. um, political? And as a public servant, you’re not allowed be political, even in your private time. According to Tim Smith, the Victorian Opposition MP whose role is to make his colleagues look relatively intelligent, this tweet was the “biggest issue of the day”. Mm, I would have thought that something else might have actually been more significant for most people, but hey, I’m not across what makes something an issue apart from the fact that people like him insist that it’s a much bigger issue than, for example, people getting off a cruise ship and spreading disease this century.

Which makes me wonder what’s happening with the religious freedom bill. Will it be all right for public servants to tweet their religious views? And when do religious views become political views? Would it have been all right for the DHO to have said that Jimmy Cook was burning in Hell because of his attempts to observe the transit of Venus?

Whatever, it does seem strange that the free speech brigade are some of the first to demand the punishment of those who say something that offends them. Of course the calls for the head of the naughty person who’s said something that’s offensive only has the effect of spreading the reach of the comment. This applies whether the said person is left-wing, right-wing or just too stupid to understand that what they’re saying is not defensible by anyone. If Uncle Fred makes a fool of himself at Christmas lunch, Alan Jones doesn’t demand that he be banned from all future festivities and nobody outside the family ever has to get annoyed with Uncle Fred’s lack of empathy, education and understanding.

Who’d have heard of Annaliese van Diemen if it weren’t for the outrage?

Well, obviously a few people because she does have a fairly important job at the moment… Which sort of makes me wonder why you’d be distracting her by calling for her resignation unless you thought that she was doing something that put the health of people at risk.

sigh<

In other breaking news, I understand that it’s been discovered that Eden-Monaro has a severe shortage of female change rooms and that Bridget McKenzie will be given the sort of special envoy status that enabled Barnaby to write such a detailed report on the drought. Apparently, Barnaby sent Morrison several texts which alerted the PM to the fact that the drought was worst in the areas that had the least rain, but that the drought wasn’t severe enough for there to be an actual pub with no beer.

Senator Jim Molan is thinking of standing as a candidate. A lot of people are asking why he’d resign from the Senate to risk an unlikely electoral victory, but he thinks that he should be able to win because Labor are likely to endorse a woman. In fact, that’s one of the reasons that Molan wants to join the House of Representatives. He has his eyes set on the Prime Minister’s job, because it’s well-known that all you need to become leader of the Liberals is a ruthlessness and a totally unrealistic opinion of your own abilities which Molan has in spades.

Finally, I’d like to thank all those in the media who work so tirelessly rewriting the federal government’s press releases as news stories because without them, we’d never know what the government wants us to think.

Cheers. It’s Friday.

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Popular Scott Morrison: Polls, Pokers And Pupils…

Opinion polls are NOT popularity contests!

Put simply. Imagine the following scenario: At your medical appointment you heard the surgeon berating his receptionist, telling her that she’s more useless than a Labor politician. You found him a thoroughly objectionable human being, but he’s the only person qualified to perform the operation that you desperately need. When I offer to perform the operation myself, you decline, simply because you figure that an objectionable surgeon is better than someone who finds it difficult to apply a band-aid if there’s too much blood, so would it be correct to say that Surgeon Sam is more popular than Rossleigh?

Ok, I’m sure that there are people who would like Surgeon Sam a lot more than me, but just you think that he’s a safer choice, it doesn’t mean that you want to invite him over for dinner. Approval of someone’s performance does not make them “popular”!

Similarly, when it’s a choice of two, it doesn’t mean that one actually likes either alternative. If I conduct a poll where I ask whether people would rather spend an evening listening to John Howard reminiscing about what a great PM he was, or have a red hot poker placed in their rectum, the fact that John Howard wins by a slight margin, does not mean that people actually want to hear him, any more than it means that the ones who chose the poker option are actually looking forward to the experience. Although to be fair, there may be some masochists in both categories…

Anyway, I’ve had a week of frustration when trying to get some people to engage in some healthy distrust of politicians when it comes to all things Covid-19 related. Now, I know that I’m perhaps more cynical than I should be when it comes to politicians. Something about the fact that they regularly lie to us and almost any politician who’s retired will readily admit that they had to say things that they didn’t believe, in order to toe the party line, makes me think that the question should always be: “Are you saying this because you believe it or because you feel it necessary to have solidarity with the idiots in your party who got to decide the policy?”

All right, they probably wouldn’t answer that honestly either, but at least if they did, they have a way out where they could claim that they weren’t aware that it was a secret that their party was run by idiots.

When nearly all media start the same thing, I find it strange. I don’t mean that they’re writing about the same thing, but when all their opinion pieces have a similar feel, I can’t help but wonder whether it’s some sort of instruction from the IPA, or whether it’s the groupthink of the Canberra bubble that our “popular” PM likes to reject while giving a press conference to the people in it. Lately, I’ve noticed that the narrative seems to be that Morrison made some mistakes over the bushfires and forced handshakes and announcing that he was going to the football and… well, I’ll probably miss something no matter how long I make the list, but lately he’s managed to bring the country together and his handling of the Coronavirus crisis has allowed him to reset his trajectory and just look at how well he’s doing now.

Without wishing to sow seeds of discontent in these troubled times, I can’t help but ask since when has not stuffing up been seen as leadership worth praising. It’d be like praising Barnaby for choosing a male as his press secretary so that he doesn’t make the same mistake twice. Let me compare this to the baggage Labor leaders are still carrying for the Pink Batts deaths even though they weren’t directly responsible.

And I can’t help but notice that nobody in the media has called out Morrison for the divisive way that he made the call for schools to be reopened. To explain what I mean, you may need to put your views on the subject to one side, because the rights and wrongs of the argument aren’t at issue, I’m talking solely about the approach here.

Schools were a state matter and different states had made different decisions. In Victoria, for example, Dan Andrews announced very early on that schools would be closed at some point in the future. Given every nearly other country affected had done this, it’s hardly controversial. The various states have various differences in policy but, in every state,  arrangements are made for some students to attend school.

Then, while NSW is still on school holidays, the PM implores teachers to allow schools to be open for a variety of reasons.

Take a step to one side and ask yourself what’s going on here. We have a National Cabinet of state leaders meeting. They’re the ones making the decisions. Why ask teachers directly? It’s not as if the shutdown was directed by teachers or even teacher unions. This is like asking nurses to do more Covid-19 testing; it’s not their decision. Why ask teachers directly and not work it out with the National Cabinet?

Suddenly, the media are crying for schools to be open. Some kids need to go to school. What about health workers’ children? What about vulnerable students? Schools should be open for these children at least…

Nobody in the media seems to want to report that schools are supposed to be open for anyone in those categories. Nobody in the media is doing a follow-up and asking where it happened, when it’s suggested that children are being turned away.

No, the media are all suggesting that schools are “safe” because there was only a couple of transmissions when NSW Health did a study of fifteen schools which showed they were safe. Nobody in the media asks is this the same NSW Health that the federal government says were responsible for allowing the Ruby Princess passengers to disembark?

Like I said, my concern here is not whether or not schools should reopen. My concern is that there is an almost universal chorus in the media that they’re safe even though virtually every other country has shut them down. Singapore was cited as the exception and it was doing really well. Singapore is being used as example since their spike in the number of cases.

So while Dan Tehan is asking teacher unions to consider all the poor kids who desperately need school, nobody in the media is actually challenging the idea that it’s teacher unions who are making these decisions. While the unions have made various comments about trying to ensure teacher safety, I can’t find a single comment from any of the union websites or media releases suggesting that teachers should refuse to attend school if they reopen, unless the individual teacher is a health risk themselves. But by framing it as though it’s those bloody unions again, we overlook the simple fact that it’s not their decision, nor is anyone going to seek their permission for school to resume as normal.

Similarly, we have the Prime Minister calling for aged care providers to allow their residents to see their relatives. Yes, it’s hard to argue that they should be locked away and prevented from contact but if you were running one, you’d find it hard to justify that you took the risk and allowed visitors when the virus wipes out a number of your clients.

Which brings us to the app. We all need to download it to help end the lockdown sooner because it’s going to make us safer. Again I’m not going to discuss the pros and cons of downloading an app that seems to me the equivalent of showing one where to look for the horses that bolted before the stable door was shut. My concern is the way some people are simply saying that it’s the right thing to do, it’s the patriotic thing to do and anyone who questions it should take a good hard look at themselves because to ask questions is going to slow the return to normal.

When nobody is questioning anything, nobody asks the right questions.

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Playing Dice With God And Other Stories Of Rupert Murdoch!

During my essential journey to the supermarket to buy chocolate, I couldn’t help noticing the front-page headline on “The Australian” which blared:

TEACHERS DEFYING VIRUS SCIENCE

Quite a neat trick really, I thought. How does one “defy” science? Is it like defying gravity? Or is it like defying your boss and announcing that there’s no way you’re going to perform that task without the correct safety equipment?

Defying science… It reminded me of that quote from Einstein: “God does not play dice with the universe.” Without starting a religious debate here, I’ve always suspected that the reason for that is that the universe worked out who was likely to win, so it was the universe’s decision as much as God’s. But religion aside, I take it that Einstein was trying to argue that there are certain laws of physics set up and there wasn’t some supreme being likely to change them after each roll of the dice.

Whatever, I thought the headline such an interesting take that – for a moment – I was tempted to actually buy the paper to read the article. Mainly because I suspect that were I to ask the Prime Minister’s Office to send me a pirated copy, they’d be a little reluctant to do so. Sanity, of course, prevailed and I merely picked it up and read it as though I was considering the purchase of Rupert’s Rag.

Anyway, I could point out the various logical flaws in the article itself but I’ve done that enough recently. You know the sort of thing: the laws of infection change when a child is not at school so they can hang out with thirty kids in a class but four of their friends in a shopping centre presents an unacceptable risk because God will roll the dice and only those in school will be protected. Or the argument that only a small percentage of kids are likely to be infected so it’s not a worry. Less than three percent and this isn’t worth thinking about even after someone points out that originally there was only one person with the virus and that one person is responsible for every other case. Even without doing the maths, I’m prepared to say that this one person was less than three percent of the world’s population.

What intrigued me…

No, “intrigued” is the wrong word here. “Intrigued” is what I was when I read that Peta Credlin said that she wasn’t “going to climb into the gutter with Turnbull” because the word climb suggests an upward movement and after her shows on Sky, I was intrigued as to whether she considered the gutter a step up from the sewer she frequents.

“Intrigued” is my reaction to Angus Taylor’s announcement that we’re going to increase our emergency reserves of oil… but keep them in the USA. This is like someone announcing a concern that the banks may shut and converting a large portion of their money to gold then putting in a safety deposit box AT THE BANK!

I was “intrigued” as to how the Liberals were going to justify not having a surplus in the May Budget. Of course, I know the answer to that one now… We just won’t have a May Budget.

No, not intrigued. More incredulous. Gobsmacked.

This paper and its various sisters and brothers have consistently told us that – when it comes to climate change – there is no consensus. The science isn’t settled yet. Experts? Who’s an expert? Look, this person doesn’t have any credentials in this area because their PhD isn’t in climate science; far better to listen to university dropout Andrew Bolt or your neighbour or the Uber driver because they think that it’s all a big beat-up because it was cold yesterday morning.

No, when it comes to climate science, there’s no such thing as a consensus view. It’s still open for debate, but teachers, well, they’re all defying the absolutely settled science that it’s completely safe to be in a school because the best medical advice says so. Ok, nearly every other country in the world shut their schools but they didn’t have the best medical advice. We have it and, as Scottie said, teachers are at more risk in the staffroom than the classroom… Not sure how this sits with schools being completely safe, but anyway.

Now I’m not trying to convince you of the rights or wrongs of schools being open here. You can make up your own mind about that and I suspect that if you’ve been stuck at home with some children then you’re more than happy to send them off to school whatever the risks, just as I’m sure that some people think it’s about time their aged parents went on that cruise so that they can enjoy their last few weeks…

No, what I find amazing is the sheer hypocrisy of a newspaper that can switch from an “everyone has a right to an opinion and scientists have been wrong in the past” position to a “you don’t have the right to question because you’ve been told by the PM so shut up and do what you’re told” stance.

And, of course, this completely overlooks the fact that teachers are doing what they’re told. In some states, teacher unions are pushing to ensure safety, but to the best of my knowledge, none have suggested teachers refusing to attend school. Except for private schools, it’s state governments who’ve made the decisions about schools, not the teachers themselves.

Still, Rupert’s editors have never let the truth get in the way of the story.

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Scott Morrison More Popular Than Jesus And Closing In On The Beatles!

We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.” John Lennon

Now, I try very hard to be fair. I am aware that not everyone will have the same moral code or the same life experience as I do. I try to listen and to accept people, even when they have a different viewpoint.

Yes, yes, I know that some of you are thinking that’s ridiculous and some people just aren’t worth the time and they’re just evil and stupid and…

I do understand and accept that point of view.

However, when I wrote a headline that compared Morrison to Churchill, I found many people attacking it without actually reading beyond the headline. Churchill, I pointed out, only really had one or two good moments in a long political career. Morrison, as far as I’m concerned, is yet to have that many.

So the narrative from some of the media about how he’s made a few mistakes but now he’s really hitting his stride strikes me as a little premature. “FROM DAGGY DAD TO FATHER OF OUR NATION,” read one headline. Now, I didn’t read the article so it seems unfair to condemn it on the basis of the headline, particularly after I’ve just complained about people doing that to me.

But, hey, if there’s one thing you need, to write opinion pieces, it’s hypocrisy in large doses, so let me make the following points to the writer of that article:

  • Morrison’s “daggy dad” image was carefully crafted and about as genuine as a Rolex watch that sells for $30 but only if you meet Barry at the pub between five and six o’clock. I mean, take the recent curry making effort. It’s one thing to make a curry for your family, but it’s another to film yourself doing it and put it on social media.
  • Giving inconsistent messages for several weeks, followed by a consistent message for a couple of days, does not make one a “father of the nation”. One usually becomes a father by having sex, so in the sense that Morrison has fucked the nation then I am prepared to concede there is some chance of him being the actual father, but I’d want DNA testing before I was sure.
  • Some of Morrison’s recent moves have been a good idea, but usually, the ones that are good are the same ones he was condemning just a few weeks ago.
  • One swallow does not a summer make…Although Bob Hawke could apparently down a whole yard of beer in one swallow and Morrison sculling a glass and putting it on his head is not really all that impressive when compared to Hawkie.

Yes, while I’m not saying that Morrison has done everything wrong, he certainly hasn’t done everything right. I understand that these are unusual times and how it’d be wrong to be too picky, We all need to be on Team Australia and all that.

However, his messaging on schools just created confusion. I’m still yet to understand how kids can be safe at school and not pass it on to each other, teachers or their parents, but they’re unsafe if they stay at home being looked after by granny, whom they are going to kill by picking up the virus. Apparently, the best medical advice says that only a very small percentage of kids are testing positive. Why? Well, the best medical advice doesn’t have an answer to that but the best medical advice is completely sure that they can go to school and only a very small percentage will catch it and an even smaller number will die from it, so it’s really completely safe.

And while I’m cynical about JobKeeper just being a way of hiding the number of true unemployed so that the statistics don’t look that bad, I can see that it’s potentially a good thing. Yes, Freddy doesn’t have any work to do but he’s still being paid by his employer who’s being paid by the government so he’s not actually unemployed and won’t be counted as such, which should make Freddy feel better because he has a job and the best form of welfare is a job even if it’s one where you’re basically not employed. Unfortunately, like so much that this government does, the reality doesn’t match the announcement. There’ll be employers who don’t apply because it’s too complicated, as well as employers who somehow rort the system leaving their employees to join the JobSeeker queue anyway. Either way, we’ll see unemployment hit unparalleled numbers, leading to a surge of IPA commentators appearing on the ABC complaining that not only does the ABC never put them on, but it’s ridiculous to be in lockdown when all you’re doing is saving the lives of a few people, and there’s no need to do that when we have so many spare people not working.

Over the next few months the cries about government debt will get louder until Scott Morrison abandons the non-ideological persona he’s tried to adopt over the past few weeks and insists that, in spite of the fact that they ran up more debt than all federal governments combined, they’re really, really good economic managers who will have the Budget back to surplus in no time at all and the crisis is over so anyone who doesn’t have a job clearly isn’t trying.

The whole thing about government debt is that it’s different from personal debt. I remember once reading a meme which said that the world was in debt to the tune of umpteen trillion dollars and it demanded to know what planet we owed it to. And that’s sort of the point about government debt. Who do they owe it to? There’s no simple answer but one way of the government has generated it, is through bonds. Who bought the bonds? Some of them have been bought by institutions which you own through your superannuation. So, in other words, some of the money taxpayers owe because of government borrowing, they owe to themselves.

Ok, I’m sure that an economist could explain that in much more detail so that you’d see that I’m guilty of over-simplification, but if we didn’t have people like me doing that, then economists would just keep explaining things with all those words that make you stop listening so that you ignore them and figure the whole thing is just too complicated and the Liberals seem pretty boring so they must know what they’re doing. After all, they keep telling the same sort of thing that your parents did when you didn’t want to listen to them and look how that turned out…

Yes, it’s just a few weeks ago that Josh and Scott were telling us that Labor hadn’t delivered a surplus since last century, but if you want to go back through history, it’s worth remembering that the only Liberal Treasurer to deliver a surplus in the last forty years is Peter Costello, who did it during the mining boom. Let’s not even point out his selling off of assets like our gold reserves for bargain prices.

I’ll just leave you with one final thought as we approach Anzac Day: Conservatives seem to have an obsession with everyone remembering what happened over a century ago, while demanding we all forget what happened last week!

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From July 1st, 2013 – Because someone referred to Neil Postman in a comment I thought it worth reposting.

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny “failed to take into account man’s almost infinite appetite for distractions”. In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us.” 

Courtesy of www.ritholtz.com

Neil Postman “Amusing Ourselves to Death”

Some books are ahead of their time. The quote above is from a book written in 1985, well before the Internet added to the white noise of what passes for information, before Reality TV reduced things to static and encouraged us to see good guys and bad guys. A couple of days ago, I was reminded of it by a comment about the ten second grab for the evening news, so I searched my bookshelves and found it. It’s been years since I read it, but flicking through, I found it quite amazing.

In one chapter of the book, Postman talks about a debate between Lincoln and his political opponent in 1854 where, after a three hour address by his opponent, Lincoln suggests that the audience go home and have dinner before he begins his three hour reply. Of course, there was nothing much else to do in 1854. No Internet, no TV, no Radio. So listening to political opponents speak would have been a novelty. But it would be hard to imagine one of our leaders today letting his audience walk out before some sort of reply had been given – even if it were only a promise to stop the boats.

For years I’ve felt that what we call “News” is a voyeuristic prying into things that don’t really concern us. Spectacular film of something will get greater coverage than Government decisions that affect us all. A ten car pile-up with exciting footage will get more airtime than an earthquake in a third world country that kills thousands. I suspect this book has influenced the way I see such things, but re-reading it, I find its message more accurate than I did when I first read it twenty five years ago.

Is politics a version of “Big Brother” or “MasterChef”? – Julia has been voted out of the house. Kevin Rudd has taken over and  reduced the lead according to the latest opinion poll. Who’s in front? Who will win? Exciting, isn’t it? This soap opera will only mention policy briefly, if at all. Kevin offers to debate Tony at the National Press Club. Tony says he’ll wait until the election date. But I very much doubt that there’ll be a three hour debate. We don’t have that much interest in politics. We don’t care about how we’re governed enough to listen to these people for more than a few minutes at a time. There is no widespread condemnation of Abbott’s refusal to debate. It’s only to be expected. This is not about getting your point of view out there. This is about winning. Political commentary is often about whether the strategy is effective.

I once suggested that before people were allowed to vote that they needed to pass a test which showed that they had some understanding of the issues they were voting on. Someone wanted to know if the politicians had to pass the same test. I thought he was joking. Now, I’m not so sure.

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When The Left And Right Join Forces It’s Not Always Good!

When both teams complain about the umpire’s decisions, there’s a tendency to presume that there was no bias because both were upset about perceived injustices. Of course, there is the possibility that the umpire was just terrible.

A few days ago, I started to feel sorry for Scott Morrison because he was being attacked from both sides of politics. While the IPA and business interests were telling everyone that we needed to end restrictions because the economy’s more important than a few deaths here and there, there were some on the left that saw the lockdown as part of a conspiracy to stop protests and to impose a fascist state…

Now, I’m not dismissing either viewpoint entirely. While I think that some people have expressed it badly, there is a case for saying that we need to work out a cost-benefit analysis for easing restrictions. On one hand, too much restriction on the economy may lead to deaths anyway and letting the virus rip will mainly kill old people, speeding up your inheritance and possibly getting rid of Rupert…

Ok, calm down people, I didn’t say that I supported this view. I just said there was a case to be examined. I’m not John Kehoe who wrote that his father had had a good run at 68 and he was sure that his dad would be happy to give up his life for the good of the economy. Clearly his parents weren’t among those who weren’t prepared to give up their franking credits for the good of the budget a year back, but a lot can change in a year.

Take Alexander Downer who tweeted: “We either save avoidable deaths & destroy society OR accept avoidable deaths & save society. The moral dilemma of our time.” In the short time since he’s left his public role, he’s managed to develop a concept of a “dilemma”. That’s progress.

And I do understand the concern from some of the more paranoid among us… particularly those who are concerned that 5G will activate the vaccines that they refuse to have because polio was a made-up disease and then there’ll be no stopping the lizard people from taking total control. Without subscribing to any of the various conspiracy theories, I do share the concern that Covid-19 shows how easily a government can just impose restrictions, shut down Parliament and start making decisions with little or no oversight. While Labor objected, the media did manage to treat this as though Parliament was another one of those bureaucratic bits of red tape that we don’t need in an emergency.

So there I was feeling like I should write a considered piece on the difficulties of doing anything right in such a troubled time. There I was thinking that we could move on and say: “How good is ScoMo?” and just forget the trip to Hawaii, the inability to actually deliver a surplus, Robodebt, his refusal to say that he’d tried to get Brian Houston an invite to the White House, the sports rorts, his refusal to even think about a solution for the people on Manus and Nauru, Watergate, the corruption, the Ruby Princess debacle,  his annoying habit of suggesting curry as the solution to any problem big or even bigger, his insistence that his religion is a private matter which can only be used by him in statements as PM, his inappropriate smirk when disaster strikes… Yes, we could just forget all that and press the reset button. Yes, because he hasn’t completely stuffed things up this time we could start writing him up as one of the great Australian Prime Ministers. Wait, did I say “Australian”? Too limited. He was bordering on being one of the great all-time leaders with his consistent messages once the rugby stopped and the Hillsong conference was over.

And then today, he makes a statement suggesting that teachers shouldn’t force parents to choose between homeschooling their child and “putting food on the table”. This just shows that Morrison could limbo under a snake’s belly without limbering up.

Ideally, of course, every kid should be at school. So let’s start with the idea that this is not an ideal situation. Here in Victoria, the government has announced that second term will be done via remote learning as far as possible with provision for parents to send kids to school “if they need to”. It’s not ideal, but it’s clear.

Now when Morrison makes his pronouncement suggesting homeschooling is forcing people into starvation, he conveniently overlooks that it’s not teachers who are making these decisions. When our PM asked teachers to “reopen the schools”, he conveniently overlooked the fact that most of them don’t have alarm keys and they’d be soon grabbed by police or security guards. Just like when he closed Parliament, but to keep schools open there was no teacher input into that decision. Teachers who felt at risk only had the choice of letting down their students and taking sick leave.

It struck me as odd several times that playgrounds had to be closed to stop children picking up Covid-19 but it was just fine for them to potentially pick it up at school because it doesn’t affect young people that badly, according to our Chief Medical Officer. Which always begged the question, “But what about the people they take it home to?”

I could list several other reasons why Morrison’s statement is inconsistent and potentially dangerous, but I’ll stick to one main one: Yet again he seeks to suggest that someone else is to blame, that like his role model Trump, he has limited power but he’s the one in charge. I can’t make that decision, but you don’t get to make this one.

You know how it goes. I can’t help with the bushfires because it’s a state thing and Gladys didn’t want any help, but now I’m sending in the army because it’s about time I took charge which I couldn’t do before because it wasn’t my job but I can do it now because I want to take some credit for something that’s going right. 

Recently, Scottie compared himself to Moses. To be fair to Moses, he led people around in the wilderness for forty years because he was commanded to by God. I trust that isn’t ScoMoses’ excuse.

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O.J. Simpson And George Pell Both Found Innocent By Courts; Jesus Not So Much!

Some idiot tweeted “He is Risen” after George had his appeal upheld by the High Court. Given the allegations against him, I thought that one of the most inappropriate tweets ever.

Of course, some people will be offended by the idea that they think I’m making a joke, but I can’t help other people’s reactions. In actual fact, I know that people rarely laugh at my jokes; they tend to laugh when I tell the absolute truth and then act shocked like I was crossing some line in order to be funny. If I was trying to make a joke I’d say something like we should henceforth call George “Vanilla”, which I find funny but only because I imagine people actually doing it.

Just for the record, satire isn’t funny. It’s savage and outrageous and going that one step too far so that people recognise the horror that passes for moderate proposals.

So I’m not making a joke when I say that both O.J. and George Pell are equally innocent. The fact is that they are in terms of the law because if one isn’t convicted of a crime one is presumed innocent. 

The difference between Simpson and Pell is simple: While a jury in the USA found there was insufficient evidence to convict, a jury in Australia – according to the High Court – didn’t behave rationally because they ignored that fact that lots of people testified that his usual practice was to go outside and greet people so he couldn’t have deviated from that practice or else they would have remembered years and years later. Or something like that. I’m not a legal expert and I haven’t read the case in detail so I probably shouldn’t be commenting but I live in the hope that if I can just keep making outrageous comments on things I know nothing about then Rupert will offer me large sums of money to write for one of his papers before he realises that I’ve been writing satire… Perhaps that’s how Andrew Bolt got his job!

And so, at the risk of losing my potential job as one of Murdoch’s Minions, I’d like to add a point of rationality here and I need capitals and HEADLINES but failing that, I’m just going to do it calmly and in bold. Pell, we are told, has been proven innocent and anyone with a legal brain can tell you that’s not true. The case was dismissed by the High Court and consequently, he is entitled to the PRESUMPTION of innocence.

Ok, let’s apply the principal and I’m going for the BOLD type here.

THERE ARE NO ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS BECAUSE NOT ONE PERSON CURRENTLY HELD ON MANUS OR NAURU HAS BEEN CHARGED AND CONVICTED, SO THEY ARE ALL ENTITLED TO THE PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE AND ANYONE CALLING THEM AN “ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT” IS DEFAMING THEM BEFORE THEY’VE HAD A TRIAL!!

Or is only special people who are entitled to the rights of law?

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Why Scott Morrison Should Be Compared To Churchill!

There’s been a definite change from some of the commentators with respect to our Prime Minister over the past couple of weeks. People who were criticising Scott Morrison just a few weeks ago are now comparing him to Hawke, Curtin and even Winston Churchill. Personally I find the comparison to Churchill the most apt but more on that later. First, let’s take a few moments to remind ourselves of all that’s praiseworthy in our leader.

  1. After the 2019 election, he admitted that there was no earthly reason for him to win by announcing that he believed in miracles.
  2. He delivered a budget surplus before it happened.
  3. He declared his ambition for Malcolm Turnbull when he could have easily talked about himself and his own ambition.
  4. He put his family before his job, taking his daughters to Hawaii even though this drew criticism from people who thought that he should be leading the country just because it was on fire.
  5. He compared himself to Moses which explains why the whole country has been lost without direction for a generation.
  6. He was very concerned about girls changing behind trees and in cars, citing that as the reason for giving grants to organisations that no longer existed or who had no female teams attached to them.
  7. He shows confidence in his underlings right up until the time that something goes wrong and it’s their fault.
  8. He’s not afraid to share his personal life, telling journalists that he’d spent a lot of time on his knees lately.
  9. He always keeps smiling, no matter how bad the news is.

Ok, there’s probably a whole lot I’m forgetting, but we need to talk about Covid-19 and not live in the past because, well, there’s a lot in the past that would just annoy the Coalition and wipe the smile off even ScoMoses’s face.

Some people have been critical of the effusive praise for Morrison, but they’re obviously not worth worrying about because they’re clearly anti-Morrison which is clear by the fact that they keep wanting to bring up the past. However, I would like such people to imagine the following scenario:

There is a factory worker which we’ll call Moe. He gets given the job of keeping people out of the factory. He announces that this has been causing a distraction, so he’ll keep them out but he won’t say how he’s doing it. In fact, he won’t give you any information about it. People are generally happy with this, so he’s given a promotion which is to look after the factory’s accounts. He announces that the accounts were in a mess, but he’s fixing them. He has a plan. This seems to satisfy some people but others want to know what the plan is and why he keeps wanting to shut down various parts of the factory. When someone suggests putting solar panels on the roof to keep energy costs down, Moe tells everyone that’ll be too expensive but he has a plan to keep energy costs down and thanks to his sound management the factory only owes twice as much debt as when the old boss was sacked. In spite of everything running so smoothly, there’s a bit of an outbreak of discontent and suggestions that there needs to a new boss. After a week of turmoil, Moe is installed as boss. A few months later, a fire breaks out in the factory and while people are fighting it, Moe goes on holiday, explaining that the fire brigade had been called and he’d planned the holiday before the fire broke out. Many people are appalled at this explanation, but when he returns he explains that he’ll give lots and lots of money to people affected by the fire. There is much shaking of the head and even more people are doubting Moe. It then comes to light that bribes were paid by one of Moe’s associates, but he insists that the bribes were nothing to do with him. Some people start to ask about the money that’s meant to be going to those affected by the fire, but it’s pointed out that these things take time because there’s a need to make sure that the money is going to the right place. 

At this low point, a virus breaks out in the factory which threatens the life of many of the workers. At first, Moe says it’s nothing to worry about, before telling everyone that he’ll be at the firm’s football match. Then he has a rethink and says that nobody should be at the football, or anywhere with more than a handful of people. People start to die. 

Moe shuts down the factory and says that he’ll pay the workers their wages in a month or so, and because of this, people say how great he is and how it takes a great boss to do something as difficult as shutting down the factory when you were allegedly just about to make a profit for the first time in over ten years. 

Of course, credit where credit’s due. Although many would normally prefer cash, we now have a situation where lots of shops won’t take cash. Anyway, yes, I have to admit that not everything Morrison has done in the past two weeks has been wrong, and while I thought that comparisons to that wartime leader Winston Churchill were a little over the top, I’ve been forced to reconsider.

After all, Churchill did oversee the Gallipoli disaster and, in spite of this and a few other fiascos, managed to do a good job of inspiring Britain when they faced the threat of being defeated by Hitler. Yes, Churchill was such a very good wartime leader that it’s hard to understand why his Conservatives were defeated in 1945.

Maybe it was the fact that just because you do something right in a time of crisis, it doesn’t mean that people are prepared to trust you when things get back to normal.

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Market Forces Rule, Except Sometimes…

Before I start this, I’d just like to tell you how great I am. I mean, I’m really good when it comes to economics. I understand them and I know how they work and that’s because I’m an adult and I’m open for business, and if you want me to get things in order just give me a free hand and don’t ask difficult questions because that just shows that you don’t understand and that you’re just repeating what someone who doesn’t agree with me has said…

Gee, it sounds pretty strange when I say it. Why doesn’t anybody seem to notice when the Liberal Party carry on like that? Apparently Greg Hunt recently said: “In 50 and 100 years’ time, I suspect people will look back on this National Cabinet as being one of the most amazing achievements of the federation in Australia’s first 200 years.” Although I guess it is April Fools’ Day and maybe it’s just one of those jokes that some people take seriously like Clive Palmer. How on earth one could take the 2019 Clive seriously after his previous foray into politics is one of life’s mysteries…

And speaking of life’s mysteries, did you hear the one about how negative gearing was going to lead to house prices crashing and going up at the same time? Ok, ok, that was last year. This year’s mystery is how the government can spend so much money without anyone asking how they’re actually going to pay for it? I mean, if Labor suggest a policy of zero emissions by 2050, then they have to be able to detail where the money is coming from, but the Liberals have managed to find the odd $61 billion here and the odd $130 billion there without any journalist asking where the money’s coming from.

There was the suggestion that the tax cuts may have to be put on hold, but hey, weren’t they legislated? Wouldn’t that mean that Labor and the minor parties would have to agree to let them through the Senate?

Economics is a funny thing… Yeah, all right, no it’s not, it’s actually rather tedious, and subject to all sorts of theories, many of which have no basis in reality. As someone once said, “Yes, it’s all very well to say that your idea actually works, but would it work in theory?”

That’s pretty much been the Liberal rhetoric about Labor’s response to the GFC. “You went too hard, too early and there’ll be nothing left when the recession actually hits,” was the Coalition’s first attack. Later it became, “You went too hard and you didn’t need to because we didn’t actually have a recession!” For years, we’ve been told by the Liberals that Labor keep messing up the economy and the Liberals are the responsible economic managers and you can’t spend your way out of a difficult situation.

So, what’s going on with this whole stimulus package thing? You must have noticed over the years how committed the Liberals are to the whole idea of market forces. You know the way it works: leave things to the market to work out because the government shouldn’t get involved. Smaller government, that’s the answer. No subsidies for things, unless it’s something that only a leftie socialist could object to and then we should give it a bit of a helping hand to enable it to overcome all that prejudice which stems from people who want to stop corporations from making exorbitant profits by not paying tax.

We’ve always had this nice contradiction where market forces are meant to rule but not if it  means that the wrong people get hurt. I mean, market forces are ok if factory workers lose their job when things shut down, but not if they means that renewables will put fossil fuels out of business. It all depends on who’s losing their job, and if it’s the PM, then all stops must be pulled out.

So, while just a few weeks ago, the rate of Newstart was just fine because it was only meant to be a temporary thing, suddenly it’s not enough because lots of people who may have been the quiet ones who voted for Scottie are likely to find themselves on it and they couldn’t possibly be expected to live on it. Even temporarily…

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not advocating a Milton Friedman approach here. If I was, I’d be suggesting that if those who have properties negatively geared need to find the money for their mortgage and if they can’t do that because their tenants have all stopped paying rent, well that’s the way the market crashes and this will help find that sweet market equilibrium price when they put the houses on the market and the oversupply brings prices down to a level where more people can afford them. No, I wouldn’t tell you that, but that’s what your IPA Young Liberal would tell you.

At least, that’s what they would tell you if they hadn’t made such a big thing about how Labor’s negative gearing policy was going to wreck the market and drive prices down but only for investors and those who already own their own home. It – apparently – wasn’t going to help first home buyers because prices were going to stay high for buyers; they were only coming down for sellers.

Yeah, life’s mysteries.

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The Best Form Of Healthcare Is A Job!

Ok, nobody has actually said that the best form of healthcare is a job. Nor has anyone said the best form of wealthcare is a job.

However, it’s certainly no sillier than the vacuous: “The best form of welfare is a job”!

Scott Morrison’s reluctance to introduce lockdown measures in response to Covid-19 does seem to underline the priorities of this government. I mean, if you think about this in terms of how they’ve framed climate change action then their slowness is perfectly consistent. “No, we understand the threat perfectly and we’re talking action, but it’s calm, measured action and we won’t be panicked into doing something which will affect our good friends and donors workers in the affected industries.”

Similarly, when it comes the Coronavirus, the Prime Minister knows that some action needs to be taken and, failing that, something needs to be said about the action that his government intends to take. So we have daily announcements about his intentions and how the best medical advice is being followed.

  • “I’m going to the football.”
  • “I’m not going now because of the way it would be misrepresented.”
  • “Nobody should be going to the football because it’s Monday and my advice is to stay home.”
  • “People are defying my advice so I’m telling you I’m going to make the advice compulsory if you don’t start doing the right thing.”
  • “No schools aren’t closing. Kids are perfectly safe and I’m happy to send my kids to school.”
  • “How dare you ask me if I’m actually sending my kids to school. My family is off-limits. Let’s concentrate on what matters; keeping the economy going and making sure that people are all right. To ensure that’s happening we’re announcing a second stimulus package because the first one was so well-received in the media even though nobody’s actually received anything yet. Not only that I’m forming a committee to advice us and we’re putting on experts in the fields of mining and industry to tell us what’s really important during a crisis.”

And so on…

Of course, I’ve resisted the temptation to be pedantic and point out some of Scottie’s inappropriate use of language like when he told us to “reconsider the need for unnecessary travel”. (If you think about that, there is – by definition – no need for unnecessary travel so if one rethinks the need for it one may decide that it is actually necessary!) When he said: “This will be a difficult six months. It could be longer,” I didn’t point out that while the next six months will be difficult a six month period won’t be longer than longer six months no matter how difficult it is I’ve tried to refrain from being un-Australian with regards to hoarding toilet paper, and I have attempted singing that tune from High School Musical “We’re all in this together”. However, it it does get hard when the Prime Minister’s press conferences start to follow that familiar pattern.

  1. We are doing all that we can.
  2. We would do more but it’s not our job.
  3. The states are responsible for almost everything.
  4. We don’t think that (insert latest SNAFU) was badly handled.
  5. SNAFU was badly handled but it was one lone public servant/Labor’s bad planning/Gladys Berejiklian
  6. We’re sending in the army.

As it stands, we’ve been warned by Morrison to be careful what we wish for when it comes to a lockdown because whatever action gets taken, we’ll be stuck with for six months.

It’s a shame that he didn’t give the same warning before the election and tell us that whatever happened we’d be stuck with it for three years.

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