Day to Day Politics: How is your memory?

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Category Archives: Rossleigh

No Cash Only; Credit Where Credit’s Due!

Ok, a lot of people have been distracted by all the excitement around discovering that our Deputy Prime Minister has been misleading us. I, of course, am referring to the fact that he stayed on in his position even though he admitted that the was doubtful that the High Court would rule in his favour. Malcolm Turnbull assured us that there was no need for him to stand down and if you can’t take the assurance of our PM then what’s the National Energy Guarantee worth… Probably no more than the guarantee about having everyone connected to the NBN by 2016.

Anyway, the High Court decision had everybody talking. Pauline Hanson told us: “I lost a great man in Malcolm Robertson”, which must have been quite upsetting. Particularly for poor Malcolm Roberts standing behind her, who must have been wondering who this RobertSON guy was. However, I’d like to return to Michaelia Cash for a moment.

In the heat of the moment where people are arguing about whether or not she misled Parliament and should therefore resign, or whether the defence that when you are misled, then repeating the incorrect information isn’t misleading anybody is enough, it’s easy to overlook exactly what happened. Of course, she has an ironclad defence because she herself was misled. Imagine you’re buying a car. The salesman tells you that your repayments will be $100 and you sign up. He later tells you that, in fact, head office has misled him and your repayments will actually be $150 a week. I mean, who could have a problem with that?

So the issue is not whether she misled Parliament. The issue is whether she was lying or not. And so we should forget everything else and just examine how events unfolded according to the Cash version of events.

The ROC want the AFP to raid the AWU offices because they are concerned that the AWU has recorded incriminating evidence ten years ago. There is some urgency to do this because there is a concern that they will suddenly decide to destroy this because it has never occured to them before that it would be a good idea – if such evidence exists – to destroy it.
The AFP seek permission from a magistrate to raid the AWU offices.
At this stage, only the ROC, the AFP and the magistrate know of the raid.
Somebody, presumably from the ROC or the AFP alert somebody in the media. I’m presuming that Senator Cash wouldn’t believe it to be the magistrate. I could be wrong, because she grew very upset with the idea that anyone connected with the ROC or the AFP could be politically motivated. Anyway, somebody from this group alerted somebody in the media. It’s unclear whether they alerted one media person or several.
This media person was concerned that nobody in Senator Cash’s office knew about this, so they contacted David De Garis, the senior media adviser there. I don’t know the motivation for this. Perhaps, the media person was concerned that his or her organisation didn’t have enough cameras and they hoped that Mr De Garis would pass the message on so that the story could be viewed from a number of angles. Media people hate being the only organisation to have the news. One thing they all try to avoid is getting what’s called “an exclusive” because it makes them sound so elitist.
David De Garis was so excited by receiving the news that he passed it on to other news outlets, but he didn’t feel any need to share it with anyone in his office. Apparently, he wandered around the office, smiling smugly and saying to himself , “I know something you don’t know”. Think about this in terms of your own workplace. You get a call telling you that something relevant to your organisation will be on the news and what do you immediately do? Tell the people you work with? Of course not. You make sure that it’s an even bigger story by ringing other news outlets.
The next day, Senator Cash is asked if she, or anyone in her office, tipped off the media. She says no. Mr De Garis doesn’t see the need to tell of his phone calls. She gets asked again. She says no. Mr De Garis doesn’t think that this may be a good time to tell her. And again. And again. She becomes quite indignant.
She, and David De Garis, speak to the Prime Minister who asks her – but not David De Garis – if she tipped off the media. She says that she didn’t. Mr De Garis doesn’t get asked and being a polite sort of chap doesn’t like to interrupt the conversation and say, “Oh, about that, it might have been me.”
At the dinner break, after everybody is aware that various people have been telling various other people that it was David De Garis who rang them, he suddenly remembers the events of the previous day and tells that because of a failing memory, he needs to resign.
Senator Cash congratulates him on his failing memory and goes into the Senate to correct the record.
Malcolm Turnbull tells us that she corrected the record, so what’s everyone’s problem?

As one can see, this is all totally plausible and I don’t see how anyone could suggest that there’s the slightest problem with what Senator Cash is asking us to believe. All the negativity is coming from the same sorts of people who are doubting that energy prices will fall after the next election or don’t see the need for the vote on marriage equality to be delayed until well into 2018 in order to work out the legislation to protect religious people and ensure that anti-discrimination laws don’t take away their right to discriminate.

The Cash Less Raid…

A few years ago, I read a book called “Spy The Lie”. It was written by a professional interrogator who made various suggestions about how you could tell when somebody was lying. I can’t remember it all, but I do remember that he made the point that there was no one definitive sign, but there were things that, taken together, were a pretty sure sign. For example, in the case of a politician, the fact that their lips are moving is not enough. They have to be making sounds into words. And if you add the fact that they belong to the Liberal Party, you have enough to presume that it’s a lie.

Anyway, in spite of this, I’m personally satisfied with Senator Cash’s explanation. While she told Parliament five times that neither she nor anyone in her office tipped off the media, I’m quite happy for her to say that she didn’t mislead Parliament. She herself was misled. And that’s the point. Once she discovered that she was misled, she corrected the record. And it probably had nothing to do with the fact that Doug Cameron asked if someone from her staff tipped the media off at 3-30, which seems pretty specific and like he actually had the sort of information that was from someone who’d actually noted the time that they were tipped off and let Cameron know so he could ask the question for a fifth time.

If you repeat a lie, you’re not misleading anyone, because you yourself were misled. It’s sort of like repeating gossip. You don’t need to check whether it’s true or not. The fact that somebody told you means that you should be able to repeat it with impunity and just say sorry if you’re wrong.

Speaking of Barnaby Joyce, I wonder how the High Court will rule tomorrow. I know that a lot of conspiracy theorists believe that they’ll let him off because everything’s corrupt and everyone’s in everyone’s pocket, but I’ve been told that it’s not like that… If I’m wrong, then I didn’t mislead you because someone else told me that.

I need to pause and remember why I started this…

Oh that’s right, I was going to describe an imaginary experience because I’m really a fiction writer… Mm, I wonder if Malcolm needs a speech writer.

Scene: A courtroom. The clerk is reading the charges.
Clerk: You are charged with perjury. How do you plead, guilty or not guilty?
Defendant: Not guilty… Look I know that I filled in misleading information on a Centrelink form but somebody misled me.
Judge: So you’re denying signing the form with the incorrect information?
Defendant: No, I did that. But only because I’d been given the wrong information by someone else.
Judge: Oh, I see. Well, case dismissed.

Yeah, that’s pretty much fiction. Strange that it works like that in Canberra. I guess that’s why it was named as one of the top places in the world to visit. There aren’t many places like that in the world. You know, the sort of place where fantasy rules. I mean, who needs Disneyland when you’ve got Canberra?

The Magnificent NBN, Victoria’s “Right-To-Kill Bill” And It’s Just A Flesh Wound…

Writing in “The Herald-Sun” (and no, that’s not really an oxymoron) in May last year, Terry McCrann lauded the government’s NBN success:

 

“RIGHT now, over one million Australians are actually signed on to and using the National Broadband Network. When Labor lost office in September 2013 barely 100,000 were.

So in just two and a half years the number of active users has leapt tenfold — an extraordinary rate of increase in both access and use.

The total number of premises which are able to connect, when and if they choose, has similarly expanded at that spectacular pace, from around 250,000 then to approaching 2.5 million now.

The NBN is finally a done deal. There really is, or should be, no going back to the failed all-fibre $100 billion-plus fantasy of Kevin Rudd and Stephen Conroy.”

 

And just a few weeks ago were told by Malcolm himself, that the NBN was “doing an extraordinary job”. Yes, just a few weeks ago the board that replaced the one that Labor put in place had the situation well in hand and, while even one complaint was too many, now that so many people were being connected then, of course, there’d be more complaints. After all, people are such ungrateful wretches, why look at how some people are complaining about the closure of Manus. As Tony “the Legend” Abbott tweeted: “For years, Greens and Labor allies demanded Manus close. Now it’s closing, they’re still complaining. They just can’t be trusted on borders”. (N.B, NOT SATIRE. ACTUAL TWEET. I know that it’s sometimes hard to tell. Just like when the Australian Border Force told the Senate that sometimes a boat arrival was not a boat arrival. From what I could understand, a recent boat wasn’t an arrival because it happened and we haven’t had one in over a thousand days so,therefore it couldn’t be an arrival, I’m not sure if it was still a boat.)

But more on Tony later… Mm, that last bit should be read aloud. Anyway, just because in a handful of cases, people were being stuck without a landline, they complained. Don’t they understand that this is the “biggest, fastest” thing in the history of Australia? Nay, the world. Why, it’s the biggest, fastest thing since the big bang. (Not the TV show, the Big one!) Don’t they understand that it’s one of Australia’s shining achievements? Why, Turnbull himself listed it and the NDIS as the achievements of his government.

So it comes as a complete shock to me that Turnbull, the man who took over when there was but a “bare 100,000” signed on to the NBN, should suddenly decide that it was a “train wreck”. Well, in case you think that it’s a mea culpa, remember that Malcolm and his Merry Men, don’t need to apologise because nothing is ever their fault. You see, it was because Labor started the project. And they had to take over from where Labor had left it. It’s not like they could put in a whole new management… Oh wait, they did. But it’s not like they could renegotiate the contract and stop the fibre to the premises… Oh wait, they did that too. But I suppose it’s the 100,000 houses that had signed up under Labor who are having the problems… Oh wait, no it’s not.

Anyway, it’s Labor’s fault because it was their idea, like the problems with energy policy: they want a Clean Energy Target but we’ve put in place: A GUARANTEE. And we’re good at things like that. Who could forget “Our Contract With Australia”? You know, the one where we promised to “End the Waste And Debt”?

Mm. Perhaps I’d better move on to Mr Abbott and mention that he “stopped the boats”, which must have fixed up the hospital queues and the traffic problems in Sydney. A remarkable achievement. In a recent tweet, he told us:

Now, I think that we really need to object to his emotive language. Wherever you stand on the issue, the use of the phrase “right-to-kill bill” is an attempt to paint the legislation in negative light. Ok, he probably neither meant to reference Quentin Tarantino nor suggest that Victoria was declaring open season on Bill Shorten… No, it was a really pathetic way of framing a difficult decision as “killing”. Allowing a terminally ill person to end their own life is vastly different from giving people the “right to kill”. Still, one can see why poor Tones might be finding parallels with euthanasia and what the Liberals did to his leadership and that may be what’s making him behave so emotionally.

But perhaps, Tony just likes to impersonate the Black Knight from “Monty Python And The Holy Grail”. You know, “it’s just a flesh wound.” How else could one explain one of his other tweets: “Re AFR story. This isn’t over. There are five million Australians yet to vote and the NO campaign is appealing to every one of them!”

Mm, does Mr Abbott mean that they are making an appeal, or does he mean that the No campaign is appealing to all of them but they just haven’t got around to voting yet?

Whatever, ya gotta laugh. The only other option is for me to decide that I’ve died and I’ve been sent to this absurd Hell, where Donald Trump is president and even after taking the leadership of Abbott, Turnbull behaves like he’s not only betraying all his previous principles, he’s putting his hand up to be the most inarticulate PM since Billy McMahon famously urged people to look at the facts and vote for the ALP… Billy did quickly correct himself, but history would have judged him less harshly if he’d pretended that he meant it. Whatever you think of Tony, he at least gives the feeling that he does have some misguided belief in the things he’s saying, while Turnbull sounds like an understudy who didn’t bother to learn his lines properly, let alone develop an emotional truth.

Free Money And Was Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” An Anagram?

Ok, as anybody who’s a regular reader knows, I’m not an economist so I can’t possibly explain how the economy works. Of course, like most people on the internet these days, a lack of formal qualifications doesn’t stop me from having all sorts of opinions about all sorts of things based on something I read somewhere. But the sources of my opinions aren’t limited to dodgy internet sites. From time to time, I read books, as well as listening to what some guy down at the pub told me about what someone who really knows his stuff said.

So when it comes to economics, I’m just as qualified as the next bloke to put in my two cents worth. Of course, two cents won’t get you much these days. And not just because there isn’t a two-cent coin any more. No, it’s because economists have wasted a lot of time studying at universities, only to discover that nobody values their opinion unless they first charge a lot of money.

Having thus established why I’m just as qualified as the next bloke to talk about economics, I’d like to explain a few little things about money which people fail to grasp.

Let’s start with expression, “Money doesn’t grow on trees”. For many years we had paper money, and this led to a lot of confusion because people obviously believed that, as money was paper, it therefore was a paper product. Of course, the paper money wasn’t anything more than a symbol of the money and the actual money was… well, I think that this is where people grow confused. The actual money was just a concept.

Money is, was and always will be just a measurement tool.

I know that this is a bit hard to grasp, so let me quote Yanis Varoufakis, who you may remember as the Greek Treasurer who had to resign because he had a degree in Economics and his understanding of what was going on, was interfering with the negotiations when the world was concerned that Greece would default on its loan. In his book, “Talking To My Daughter About The Economy” he explains that in early societies they rarely used actual coinage. As he explains:

“For example, the accounting log would note, ‘Mr Nabuk has received grain valued at three metal coins,’ even though those metal coins had not been minted yet and might not be for many, many years. In a sense, this imagined form of money, used to facilitate real exchanges, was a virtual currency. So, when people tell you that today’s economy is very different to the economy of the past, citing the virtual payments made possible by digital technologies, tell them that is nothing new; that virtual money has existed ever since the economy was invented, following the agricultural revolution twelve thousand years ago and the creation of the first surplus.”

People look at physical things like coins and notes and gold bars and just presume that these are what constitutes money. But that’s a bit like looking at a tape measure and thinking that’s what constitutes a metre. And like a metre or a yard, money remains an abstract concept. Creating more tape measures won’t lead to their being any more land, of course. But it may lead to more land being divided up or shared, if the shortage of tape measures was holding up the process. This could be compared to pump priming the economy, but the analogy is already a little stretched and once one stretches a tape measure then its value is debatable.

In essence, money is merely a way of expressing debts. Physical money, unlike informal debts between individuals or notations in a ledger, is simply guaranteed by the sovereign or government of the day. And, it’s a simple way of settling the debt, because it’s guaranteed by the power structure of the time.

Of course, should the government be toppled, or issue too much money, then the money attached to that state loses its value. Physical coins, naturally, can be melted down for whatever and paper money can used to light fires, but while we have confidence in the government, the money is worth it’s face value, notwithstanding inflation or deflation, which merely means that the value of the money is fluctuating relative to the value of goods and services.

And, of course, there are all sorts of guarantees in this world. Take the National Energy Guarantee, for example. Just today, Josh Frydenberg told us that he was “confident” that this plan would lead to lower energy prices but that wasn’t part of the guarantee. What, in fact, they’re guaranteeing is that we’ll have coal providing our power for as long as they can possibly drag it out.

Then there was the Google guarantee. Or rather their slogan/motto/mission statement? Whatever it was, “Don’t Be Evil” had a nice ring to it even it was expressed in the negative. Why not, “Be Good”? Or did they just mess up the order and was it meant to read: “Don’t Believe”? (Ok, I added an extra “e”) When they first started, we were told that it would be the wisdom of the crowds which determined the top-ranked sites, but before long, it was the ads that were the first thing we saw. I guess that’s ok, because everybody has to earn a dollar. Of course, there’s no way anybody should expect them to pay tax on that dollar because that must be evil.

Whatever, the point is that there’s really nothing all that modern about Modern Money Theory. And if anybody out there believes that their money is worthless, they’re probably right and I’ll be more than happy to take it off them.

Ends And Means – Or Why The Right Don’t Seem To Say What They Mean…

Ok, let’s read Neil Cadman’s ad a little more closely here:

Mm, as I read that, it’s telling us that if we want to remove God’s blessing, we should Vote No. Maybe I misunderstood.

But then I don’t know why we can presume that “Australia was founded with God’s blessing”. Of course, we know about Sodom and Gomorrah (which weren’t countries but cities, however, let’s not let facts get in the way here), but what about other countries? Was Cuba founded with God’s blessing? Or Zimbabwe? Or the United States? Or China? Or just Australia?

Anyway, I suspect that the writer of the ad would benefit from a crash course in English. As would “The Australian” who, when referring to the New Zealand election, treated us to the headline, “NZ Shock: Losers Take Power”. Surely if they’re taking power, then they’re not the losers. Ok, they didn’t win more than half the seats, but nobody did. Does that mean that everyone lost and New Zealand must be ungoverned till the next election? But even allowing for that, it seems that the way Rupert’s Rabbits view elections is that if any left leaning party doesn’t get more than fifty percent of the vote, then they have no right to govern. The minor parties should support the more conservative party because they should have won. Ok, they didn’t get fifty percent of the vote either. Or even fifty percent of the seats, but as the natural leaders they should be in charge, because the votes of the people who supported them are worth more because, clearly, they’re much more intelligent having supported the same party as the Murdoch Media.

As an aside, did anyone else notice when Malcolm Turnbull talked up the credentials of the people who developed his energy policy by telling us that there were no academics on the team. No sir, we don’t want anybody who’s spent a lot of time studying the issue. Only people with a conflict of interest.

Anyway, when Michaelia Cash told us “History shows that unfortunately the last time the Labour, Greens and independents formed Government it didn’t end well”, I wondered if she was referring to a previous NZ government or Julia Gillard’s government. As I couldn’t find any references to one in New Zealand, I can only presume she was talking about Australia from 2010 to 2013. And yep, she was right. That ended with the election of the Abbott government and I think we can all agree that was a pretty disastrous thing.

I presume that was what she meant. Surely, as a Minister in Malcolm’s government, surely she’d know how to say what she meant.

2020: A Glimpse Of Australia In Turnbull’s Kingdom…

The trouble with politicians is that they think like footballers. The premiership is the goal. Occasionally, it’s absurd to think that you’ll succeed in a given year but, whether realistic or not, at the start of every season the dream is to win. And, of course, when it comes down to that final day, players throw everything at it with no thought of next week, because there is no next week. There is, of course, a next season but it’s worth risking injury or suspension because the whole aim is to win no that day.

And so it is with politicians: The aim is to win the election. Don’t worry if you have to – like Tony Abbott did – promise to abolish taxes, not cut spending AND eliminate the deficit. Once you’re elected, you can just do your victory lap and make a few apologies and/or blame everything on someone else. By the time the next contest comes around, you can use the same tactic and rely on the fact that most people will be more concerned about the future so that your total inability to deliver even half the things you promised won’t matter.

“The elimination of the carbon tax will reduce your power bills by $500.”
“The elimination of support for renewable energy will reduce your power bill by $100.”

Wow, awesome, putting the two together and looking at my bills from 2013, that’d mean that the power companies would be paying me money!

Anyway, today Malcolm Turnbull has broken with standard practice for his government and actually made a decision. We’re not going to have a Clean Energy Target. Instead we’re going to get a National Energy Guarantee. I haven’t been able to discover what’s being guaranteed yet. Nor have I been able to ascertain what happens if what’s being guaranteed doesn’t actually happen the way we were promised. I mean, if the toaster is faulty, you either get your money back or a new toaster. If the National Energy Guarantee doesn’t work, do we get our money back or just a new guarantee?

Whatever, I feel that the Liberals are doing all this not with regard to the long term, but because they feel that they need to do something or they’ll lose the next premiership… Sorry, election. And they don’t need to worry about next week. Or next season.

However, politics isn’t exactly like football. There’s a real difference. I know that may be a surprise to some in Canberra, but, while football teams get their names in the record books and don’t have to worry about anything except trying to win again next year, the winner of an election actually has to govern. Which means that people will hold you responsible for telling everyone that you were the better team and that you were the one who’d keep on kicking goals. In other words, they’ll expect you to be capable of actually running the country.

So, while Malcolm and the Muddlers are intending to use the demon of high energy prices to position themselves to win the next election, I wonder if they’ve actually thought beyond that glorious night when they hold the cup aloft and make speeches about what a great team they are.

Let’s fast forward to 2020 and imagine the unthinkable. Malcolm actually wins the next election and he’s still in power. (Actually I know that this is pretty far-fetched because everyone knows that they’ll hold out for as long as they can, then dump him for Peter Dutton. Or Scott Morrison, if Peter actually says something so offensive that even his cheer squad in the media have to abandon him. Come to think of it, he’s already done that. Anyway…) Malcolm appears on ABC where Andrew Bolt, the new presenter of the 7:30 Report – which is screened at 11:30 – interviews him.

Bolt: Good evening, Mr Prime Minister.
Turnbull: Good evening, Andrew.
Bolt: Now, in 2017 you promised to get rid of all those pesky renewables that were pushing prices up, yet we still haven’t seen any reduction in price.
Turnbull: I’m glad you asked that, Andrew…
Bolt: I didn’t ask anything, it was a statement.
Turnbull: Anyway, power bills are certainly a lot lower than if we’d done nothing. And certainly, we now have an efficient, reliable energy supply that works pretty much most days of the week. The guarantees that we’ve given mean that – when the new coal-fired power stations come into effect in 2023 – we’ll hardly have any blackouts.
Bolt: But what about now? I mean, shouldn’t we have been building new power stations years ago.
Turnbull: Well, of course, Labor had plenty of opportunity to do just that when they were in power, but they were too concerned with ideological ideas like “saving the planet” and as you well know, there’s only one planet worth saving and that’s planet Economy because without planet Economy we can’t have an environment to save.
Bolt: Yes, but there are still all those activists trying to shut down free speech by advocating for renewable energy. Can’t you implement Tony Abbott’s plan and use ASIO’s detention powers to arrest them.
Turnbull: Now, in a democracy everyone is entitled to an opinion.
Bolt: Yes, but should they be allowed to express it, if it’s going to risk our security like that?
Turnbull: I do understand where you’re coming from, but we don’t plan to make any change to our free speech policy until Mr Abbott makes a speech in London telling us to.
Bolt: Ok, what are you planning to do about all those people who still have solar panels on their roof? Is there any plan to compel them to turn them into coal fired power?
Turnbull: Not at this stage, but all options are on the table.
Bolt: And just finally, those illegal immigrants still on Nauru, when are you going to stop the dreadful waste of money? After all, we’ve been paying for their food and accommodation for over seven years now. If they’re going to stay there, can’t they be compelled to do something useful. I mean, your government is examining a “Work for the Age Pension” plan for Australians. Shouldn’t foreigners have to do something similar?
Turnbull: I was on the phone to President Trump just the other day and he assures me that many of these people will be resettled in the USA just as soon as vetting has been completed. We can’t rush these things, you know.
Bolt: Thank you, Mr Turnbull.
Turnbull: A pleasure, Andrew.

Ok, it may not happen quite like that…

However, when you read it these days, my piece on what it’d be like with Donald Trump becoming POTUS does seem more like an accurate portrayal than satire, so you never know.

I just wonder why the Liberals can’t see that most of their policies are just kicking the can down the road. If they’d voted on marriage equality, instead of using the idea of a plebiscite to delay it, their pain would be over. Instead, Malcolm’s going to have to contend with all the subterfuge when (if?) the Yes vote gets up. I can hear it now: “Ah, but if you look at the numbers who didn’t vote, then only a minority voted “Yes” so we shouldn’t make a drastic change without overwhelming support” and “Yes, we need to have a Parliamentary vote, but not until we’ve put in place laws to protect religious freedoms while ensuring that those relgious freedoms don’t extend to religions that we don’t like!”

Similarly, the whole energy situation needs to something that takes everything and all stakeholders into consideration, and not just used as a political football. We’re treated to the spectacle of Liberal politicians expressing horror about rising power prices, yet rising education or health costs are things we’re expected to just accept.

I wonder why that is…

Abbott And Bolt Or Why Our Current Energy Crisis Is More Like The Potato Famine!

Let’s start with a little quote from Andrew Bolt circa 2009:

“What I want is for people, it’s the emperor’s new clothes thing. I want people to see that the emperor has new clothes. If Tim Flannery can go on the ABC TV and say, whoops the theory isn’t working, the world is not warming, it’s actually cooling, then even you have to say, gosh, why are we then doing this massive tax that wouldn’t stop global warming even if it’s true and will cost a lot of people their jobs? Why don’t you ask that?”

Ok, that wasn’t the quote I was going to use, but I found it while looking for his piece about how it’s not heat that kills people, it’s cold. I thought the above quote reveals a lot about poor Andrew’s understanding of things. He desperately wants the people to “see that the emperor has NEW clothes”! Which is rather unfortunate, because if you remember the fairy tale, the whole point is that the emperor has NO clothes. Still, I guess Andrew would have been one of the sycophants refusing to admit that he couldn’t see the clothes because the tailors had convinced people that only a fool couldn’t see the material.

But it was the other 2009 quote that I was after. That year, Bolt also told us:

“MORE than 30 Victorians died in last week’s heat in one of the great scandals of green politics.

About 20 more people died in South Australia, but neither state government is telling yet how precisely the victims died, saying they are awaiting coroners’ reports.

But already warming extremists such as Prof Clive Hamilton are excusing these same governments—which almost certainly contributed to at least some of these deaths.

“Australians are already dying from climate change,” shouted this professor of public ethics at the Australian National University, and author of Scorcher.

But Hamilton is utterly wrong in portraying global warming as the killer.

Fact: Cold, not heat, is what really kills people, as we see now in Britain.

Fact: A warming world would save countless lives, not cost them.”

Rather poor timing, because he happened to write this the day before Black Saturday. I was reminded of Bolt’s assertion that heat was, in fact, much better for us than cold after Tony’s recent long rambling speech. While he did say that Australia had “ten years of disappointing governments”, I trust that he wasn’t including his in that, because I, for one, found nothing “disappointing” about it. It was simply as incompetently incapable of doing anything, as I expected it to be. When Tony told us that a bit of warming was good for us, at least he didn’t say it the day before a major Australian bushfire… Although, California does have a bit of a problem at the moment.

Right, two points to make before anyone else makes them. No single weather event is evidence of climate change so it’d be wrong to talk about the heatwave 0f 2009 in terms of climate, and the climate change sceptics who tell us after every disaster that this shouldn’t be blamed on climate change do have a point. It’s just a bad look to say that heat doesn’t kill people the day before a major bushfire does just that. Secondly, like many climate change deniers who ask where the global warming is when it’s a cold day, Abbott does presume that global warming will make it warmer everywhere. What it will do – if the hypothesis is correct – is alter the climate, which may lead to greater extremes.

Of course, Bolt interpreted criticisms of Abbott’s lecture on God, country and human sacrifice as further evidence of the shutting down of free speech and the refusal to engage in debate. Debate, of course, meaning that people should be free to say anything with which he agrees without the burden of anybody challenging them in any way. You know the way this works: Any outrage expressed by the left is dismissed as the politically correct brigade trying to impose their will on us all. Of course, it’s quite ok to be outraged by union thuggery, teachers telling kids that people have different sexual orientations and refusing to sing carols just because it’s eight months till Christmas, people on welfare missing appointments, halal certification or bakers being forced to do something contrary to their religious principles such as baking a cake. Then, outrage is ok and, indeed, in the case of the baker we need some form of legislation to ensure that they’ll only be required to make cakes for people whose belief system equates with their own. Mm, I wonder how One Notion will deal with the contradiction of trying to eliminate halal certification while ensuring the religious freedom of cake-makers.

In his musings on the confusing nature of reality, Abbott did make the worthwhile point that because of Australia’s abundant supplies of coal, gas and uranium that we should have much lower power prices. However, he puts the blame squarely on “green ideology” rather than the idea that it may have something to do with the fact that our gas is sold more cheaply overseas than here in Australia.

Ok, brief history lesson…

Mm, I wonder how many of you studied the Irish potato famine in school. I know that I didn’t. And it’s not like I didn’t do history. I did British History in Year 11, as well as Modern History. But I don’t remember any mention of the Irish potato famine. Maybe it wasn’t that interesting and I forgot about it… Although I do remember learning about the Corn Laws and they were surely a whole lot less interesting, even if they did have something to do with millions of Irish people starving. I suspect it’s more likely that it has something to do with history being written by the victors. The potato famine isn’t really one of England’s finest moments.

Now some of you are probably thinking what’s the failure of a potato crop in Ireland got to do with poor old England. But I suspect many of you do know that, even as people were starving to death, potatoes were still being exported by the absentee English landlords. Nearly a million people died from starvation. Yet, potato exports continued.

Why were exports continuing when the population was starving? Well, you see, many of the farmers were tenants. They didn’t own the land. And, if you don’t own things, then you’ve no right to eat. That’s how it works, isn’t it? Like, we don’t own our gas.

Or do we?

Whatever, the people who own it get to sell it overseas for less than we’re paying here because that’s how capitalism works.

Wait a sec.

No, that’s not how it’s meant to work. I must have missed something.

Anyway, I’m growing potatoes in my backyard. I hope that nobody wants to frack there.

Abbott: Majority Doesn’t Rule Unless I Agree With Them!

Just when I started thinking how pleasant it is here in New Zealand where the press don’t report everything that the person leading the Liberal Party says – they don’t even report on what the titular head, Turnbuckle, says – the person determining policy pops up in London to explain that just because scientists agree that doesn’t mean that they’re right.

Of course, anybody who knows anything about science will understand that scientists don’t know everything. In fact, science is all about finding out what’s not true in the hope that this brings us closer to understanding what is true. However, there’s a big difference between suggesting that much of what we believe as scientific fact will be found to wrong and saying, as Tony Abbott did at his speech, ‘…in October 2009, I observed that the so-called settled science of climate change was “absolute crap”.’

While the media have picked out some of the more ridiculous things about Abbott’s speech, such as the idea that global warming, like coal, would be good for humanity, the rest of it still makes it one of the strangest speeches of the past year (and I am including Trump in that!) For example, while he argues that anyone should have the right to question the conclusions of scientists, he complains that such people are subject to “the Spanish Inquisition”. Apparently, it’s only scientists who should have their views challenged; the average bloke is being attacked by the “thought police”.

To me the most bizarre part of the speech was his insistence of his own infallibility, while acknowledging that much of what he said until he was dumped by his own party was a complete lie. Compare “In Australia, we’ve had ten years of disappointing government” with the conclusion of his speech, “A tendency to fear catastrophe is ingrained in the human psyche. Looking at the climate record over millions of years, one day it will probably come; whatever we do today won’t stop it, and when it comes, it will have little to do with the carbon dioxide emissions of mankind.”

Didn’t Abbott tell us that he was instituting Direct Action to help combat climate change? Or was it just another way to hand government money to Liberal Party donors?

Whatever, if you want satire read the full transcript.

I’d like to refute the evidence Abbott used just so I’m not accused of trying behave like those Spanish Inquisition people… I know, I know, You didn’t expect me to bring out the soft cushions and next I’ll be shutting down free speech.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any evidence. Just a whole lot of jumbled assertions like the idea that the 2013 election was a referendum on one thing: Labor’s carbon tax, as well as Labor’s complete loss of control over our maritime borders… two things, the 2013 election was a referendum on two things…

I probably should leave the last word to Professor Roger Jones From Victoria University:

“I read the speech in full. Abbott is clearly quite unhinged from reality.
“He tells the GWPF the lesson he has learnt, from being in, then out of government, is to speak his mind. And what a strange, bizarre place it is. Surrounded now by a big fence that clearly refuses the entry of facts and the egress of any sense, just like our Federal Parliament House.”

And for those who didn’t expect them:

Private Organizations Shouldn’t Be Able To Discriminate Cries Group Seeking Laws To Enable Discrimination

Last year, Cory Bernardi wrote a blog entitled, “Freedom to Refuse Must Be Defended”, which included the following:

“And this is the essence of the dilemma we now face; is it okay for any business to say they simply don’t want your business for any or no reason? Personally I think it is, but that freedom has to be defended and protected so that it applies to any business, no matter what side of a debate they are on.”

Seems a fairly clear position. Recently, however, something seems to have changed his mind.

You see, the Coalition for Marriage – a rather strange title, given that they were formed with the sole aim of preventing same sex people from marrying each other, thus reducing the number of potential marriages – had their booking cancelled at Wrest Point Casino.

This, of course, was outrageous. As Cory said, “…there are legitimate questions to be asked why a venue that has been booked and paid for has suddenly become unavailable with no reason given about why. If nothing else, it is a terrible business practice.”

Until the University of Tasmania changed their minds and made space available, there was going to be nowhere for these people to tell us all how marriage equality was going to lead to businesses being forced to provide services to people when they didn’t approve of the way such people lived their lives.

Anyone else see a certain irony here?

Of course, the Coalition for Marriage is only concerned about people being forced to provide services when it offends their religious beliefs. Like I suggested the other week, do atheists and agnostics need to start their own religion in order to be able to exclude people?

Imagine the following:

I appoint myself as High Priest of the Church of St Adamsmith, a denomination of Tax Avoiding Economic Rationalists. Like all churches, we pay no tax, but in our case it’s a religious belief. Anybody can make a tax deductible contribution and in return feel the Church’s generous bounty when it returns 99% of their gift, saving them the need for offices in the Cayman Islands. (Ok, I realise there’s probably a flaw in this, but stick with it. Gee, if people can re-elect Malcolm Turnbull, it’s not much to ask you to stick with the ridiculous for a few moments.)

Anyway, the Coalition for Marriage try to book our venue…

High Priest Rossleigh – Sorry, we can’t help you.
Coalition for Marriage – But why not?
HPR – Your activities offend our religious principles!
CFM – In what way?
HPR – I don’t like your lifestyle.
CFM – What’s wrong with our lifestyle?
HPR – It’s unnatural.
CFM – What do you mean by that?
HPR – We’ll, it’s different from mine.
CFM – That’s just idiotic. Just because we have a different lifestyle doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to book your venue!
HPR – Stop bullying me and calling me names.
CFM – But what you’re saying makes no sense.
HPR – I’m just worried if I let you spread your message, we’ll end up with polygamous marriages like Solomon and all those other biblical kings.
CFM – We just want to book a venue…
HPR – Yes, but it’s a slippery slope, isn’t it? First, a venue, then you’ll be advocating the stoning of adulterous women.
CFM – Nobody wants to introduce stoning!
HPR – We’re also worried that a lot of you are Christian.
CFM – What’s wrong with that?
HPR – We’ll, wasn’t the founder a Middle-Eastern Jew? We don’t think we want that sort of person in our venue?
CFM – You can’t exclude us because Jesus was Jewish!
HPR – So, it’d be ok to exclude you because he was middle-eastern?
CFM – It’s illegal to be anti-Semitic.
HPR – Can we get an exemption if we say it’s part of our religion?

Yes, of course, nobody should be given an exemption from racial or religious vilification. That’d just be wrong. It’d be suggesting that somehow their human rights were disposable.

Sexual preference, on the other hand…

Greetings From The Land of the Long White Clown – or as we call him “Barnaby”!

Hi,

I must say New Zealand is quite pleasant. For a start, there are no ex–PMs completely ignoring the fact that they were so out of touch with popular opinion that they were voted out of their position (in one case by his own electorate; in others by their own party), and lecturing me on what I should be thinking. But leaving politics aside, the weather has been nice, the fush and chups have been tasty and the people don’t make fun of my accent.

Sitting here with the benefit of distance, I must say the Coalition look even more absurd than they do when I’m at home. I mean, I’ve grown used to the idea that they can attack the Labor/Wilkie deal for self-imposed limits on poker machine losses as the nanny state gone mad, yet turn around in government and introduce a cashless welfare card without any of them expressing similar concerns.

And, I can accept that, even for the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott is an outlier. Who else could come up with the idea of a vote on marriage equality, insist that any debate will be civil and to suggest otherwise is to insult the Australian people, only to turn around and say that we all must vote “No” because the debate has turned ugly.

No, looking at the green hills as I drove to Napier, I couldn’t help noticing a wind farm and I thought would any NZder – apart from Barnaby – think that a coal mine would be less intrusive. The newspapers aren’t filled with the idea that without coal civilisation as we know it will be destroyed. And Labour (yes, New Zealand Labour still includes “u”) is written about as they’re an alternative government, not some illegitimate group of rabble-rousers. Even The Greens seem to regarded as people with a point of view which may differ from other parties, but isn’t that what democracy is all about?

Ok, it might be different if I lived here and started to pick up the intricacies, but it does seem more mature than the attempts by the Liberals to win political arguments by coming up with alliterative nicknames for their opponents.

So, greetings from New Zealand. I presume that Barnaby is still Deputy PM, and that Malcolm is still impersonating Tony in the hope that the part won’t dump him before the next election. Although from what someone told me, Turnbull is completely safe until it’s closer to the next election when the theory is that they can dump him and hope that the new leader’s honeymoon period will win them enough votes back to make it close.

The List Of Strange Bedfellows – If You’ll Pardon The Expression.

Sorry, but I’m off to New Zealand in a couple of days and this may be my last post for a couple of weeks. The trouble is that I’m having difficulty working out which of the interesting potential targets to write about. I’ve started to compile a list.

  1. Peter Dutton calls asylum seekers, “Armani refugees” and tells us all that they’re not fleeing war but are, in fact, economic refugees. How then have they been judged to be worthy of asylum? Surely this is a failure of his government to identify them and send them back.
  2. The “No” Campaign expresses outrage that people are being sent one text message urging them to vote “Yes”, labelling it an invasion of privacy. Cory Bernardi announces his intention to robocall a million homes with a two-minute recording of him speaking, which he then follows with a survey of voting intentions. I suspect that he’ll achieve a 100% “No” vote with his survey, as nobody else would listen to him for three minutes. Actually I suspect that he’d get close to 100% if the question was are you my wife or a paid supporter?
  3. Tony Abbott has a column in the paper telling us that Australians don’t like being told what to do and think and the fact that the “Yes” campaign is trying to influence us could backfire. Leaving aside the obvious point that the “No” campaign is also telling us what to think, this could be a valid point. Abbott follows it up, however, by telling the NRL that they shouldn’t have Macklemore at the Grand Final. Apparently, only ex-PMs are allowed to tell us what to do… And only if they aren’t members of the Labor Party.
  4. Malcolm Turnbull goes on “The Project” and gloats that Waleed Aly was wrong about suggesting that Australians couldn’t conduct a civil debate on marriage equality. When Waleed says hang on and points out that there’s been violence and bullying and some really nasty comments, Turnbull bristles and tells him that this has only been from a minority and most people have been ok. Maybe I’m wrong, but I don’t think that anybody was suggesting that the majority of people would conduct themselves badly; it was always about the minority.
  5. Tony Abbott, a free enterprise champion, suggests bringing in the army to take over gas supplies.
  6. Malcolm Roberts argues that a) he believed that he was never a British citizen and b) that he attempted to renounce any claim by sending of an email headed “Am I Still A British Citizen?” This is akin to arguing that I’m not guilty of bigamy because I never believed that I was married and sending off an email with the words, “Has the divorce come through yet?”
  7. Andrew Bolt. Almost anything he says about the Liberal Party/Churches/big companies when compared to anything he says about the Left/Bill Shorten/The Greens/companies that aren’t doing what he thinks that they should.
  8. Turnbull tells us we have a gas problem. Then he tells us it’s Labor’s fault because they should have done something about it four years ago even though, nobody in his government has done anything about it in the past four years. Then he tells us that it’s worse than he thought. Then he tells us he’s solved it becasue the gas supplies have agreed to sell to Australian companies for only a little bit more than what they’re selling to overseas companies.

The list goes on…

I have a plane to catch.

See you in a week or so!

Foolish Farmers Fight Fracking!

Great headline, eh? And, of course, it’s only a matter of time before the Murdoch Muckraker prints one something like that, but I got in first and I’ve got them covered for alliteration, even if I’m lacking one of those very witty sub-editor puns such as “Otter Devastation” or “All You Need Is Gloves”!

But before we look at the whole issue of fracking, let’s look at the “crisis”. (Due to a typo, autocorrect changed that to “circus” – was tempted to think that autocorrect may be onto something!)

Let’s just take a random headline from 2002: “Gas boom as China signs $25bn deal”

Oooh, what’s that about? Let’s read, shall we?

 

An Australian-based consortium has won a contract to supply China with liquefied natural gas worth up to $25 billion in what will be the nation’s biggest single export deal.

The contract gives Australia a foothold into what promises to become a highly lucrative market.

The gas, from the North-West Shelf off Western Australia, will be worth between $700 million and $1 billion a year for 25 years.

China’s offshore oil company will invest in the project, which promises $1.5 billion of capital works and new jobs in remote Western Australia.

The Prime Minister, John Howard, who announced the deal, said the contract to supply China’s first liquefied natural gas power station in the rapidly growing Guangdong province would benefit Australia for years.

“This is a gold medal performance,” he said, hailing the deal as the fruits of a close but realistic engagement with China.

 

Awesome, this deal is going to benefit Australia for many years. Wow. God, that Howard was a forward planner. Not, that it’s possible to be a backward planner. Anyway, good ole Johnny went so far as to put out a White Paper on Energy in 2004. In the foreword, Howard tells us:“Three themes—prosperity, security, and sustainability—underpin the government’s approach to energy policy. The Australian Government has undertaken a comprehensive review of its energy policies and approaches, and has developed a long-term framework to ensure our energy advantage is utilised for the benefit of all Australians.”

Wow, they have a framework to ensure prosperity, security and sustainability. Sounds familiar?

Anyway, the White Paper goes on to tell us:

“Australia’s gas reserves are sufficient for more than 100 years at current production levels, or more than 200 years of current domestic consumption. Furthermore, prospects for finding and proving up more gas are good, subject to finding markets.”

Mm, we need to find markets. Apparently, we’ve got gas coming out of our ears. Or wherever. We’ve got plenty as long as we can find markets.

Ok, I could pick various bits out which indicate a willingness to allow a market mechanism to decide who will get our gas and the circumstances in which they get it, but, as the people have Bennelong concluded in 2007, I think we need to move on.

Along comes fracking. Or rather, the suggestion of fracking. Fracking or hydraulic fracturing involves the “process of creating fractures in rocks and rock formations by injecting specialized fluid into cracks to force them to open further”. (Definition: Investopedia). Now let’s not get into all the pros and cons of fracking here, but sufficient to say that like colonic irrigation. some people think it’s a great idea while most people don’t think that it should be done in their backyard. Consequently, we have farmers saying things like “Lock The Gate” which is understandable because they don’t want their livestock wandering on the road.

Given that farmers are traditionally strong supporters of the Coalition, this presented a wee problem for the Liberals. Do they point out that the Nationals have always been Charlie Brown to their Lucy promising to hold the football, only to pull away at the last second, or do they simply say, “Ha ha, what are you going to do? Vote Greens?” While every now and then, someone on the Coalition points out that there’s been absolutely no problem with fracking, particularly in areas where it hasn’t been done and any evidence to the contrary is being put forward by people who are against fracking because they’re putting forward concerns about it so we can just ignore them. Really it’s like climate change: The only opponents are those – like the Bureau of Meteorology and NASA – who are falsifying evidence.

Whatever, fracking has been too much of a political hot potato for the Coalition to push too hard on.

Let’s forget fracking for a moment because we have something much more important to worry about. Energy security.

Lately the government has been pushing the idea that we need affordable and reliable energy. Now, not many people will argue that we don’t, so they’re on a winner there. The only trouble is that many people were putting solar panels on their roof and failing to see that wind farms are a bigger eyesore than coal mines.

Of course, the power blackout in South Australia presented them with a big opportunity. Never mind that the main cause was connections being blown over. No, it was because they were so reliant on wind energy. And no, we didn’t see the same argument when NSW had blackouts because the Liddell coal-fired power station is always reliable even when it breaks down.

Suddenly climate change isn’t even part of the discussion. Our energy policy is all about RELIABILITY. Oh, and AFFORDABILITY. Your power bills are too high, aren’t they? That’s because of renewables. We need more coal. And GAS. We don’t have enough gas. No, it’s not because we’re sending it overseas. It’s all the fault of NSW and Victoria not opening up their states as one big gas reserve and farmers wanting to continue to farm instead of allowing exploration, and this country relies on exploration. What if Burke and Wills hadn’t been explorers, eh?

No, the State governments lack the courage to do something, whereas we just got the gas producers to promise to provide us with enough gas to avert the crisis that we told you was three times worse than what we said just a few weeks ago. Lucky we’re in power because we know what’s going on. And we’re courageous. We’ll stand up to any of those farmers who are worried that fracking might upset their water supply. Farmers only have a right to protest against wind turbines, not our friends in the mining sector.

So let’s see how long it is before the MSM steals my headline. Let’s see how long it is before we’re told that we have no other choice but to override the state governments, the farmers, the tree-huggers, Blackout Bill, the scientists, the academics, the Safe Schools supporters, the Senate and anyone else and send the army in because we need that gas to defeat North Korea.

But I guess AGL’s CEO, Andrew Vesey should have the last word on this. Yesterday he tweeted the following:

I think that’s his way of “frack off” to the PM.

P.S. On another matter, does anyone else see a certain irony in the following headline from “The Australian”? (And yes, it was the actual headline online. I haven’t seen the paper version)

Same-sex marriage: Yes vote will endorse Safe Schools, Lyle Shelton says.

Rhetoric 10, Logic 1, Or Why I’m Not Going To Talk About Marriage Equality And Freedom Of Speech!

“Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance” was one of those books that everybody had on their bookshelves at one stage. Of course, when I say everybody, I just mean people I knew. Some people may have an issue with that, but they’d be the same sort of people who’d have an issue when the current Coalition of Klutzes tell us what most people are thinking.

In the Coalition’s case, though, the logic is a little bit more consistent. They can tell us what people are thinking because if you don’t agree with them, then you aren’t thinking. Of course, many people would dispute this, but as Tony and Barnaby would tell you, they can be ignored because they’re wrong. We know they’re wrong because they don’t think like us.

Anyway, there’s a large section in “Zen…” where the battle between rhetoric and logic is discussed. I can’t help but be reminded about it when I look at today’s politics. To grossly oversimplify, we have the belief that logic won the day and from that time forward, rhetoric is just a pleasant distraction in debating societies. When we learn about Ancient Greece, we learn about Socrates and Plato and Archimedes and Aristotle and naked Olympics and Theatre and Democracy, but, like Plato, we tend to dismiss people like the Sophists. The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy describes them thus:

“The sophists were itinerant professional teachers and intellectuals who frequented Athens and other Greek cities in the second half of the fifth century B.C.E. In return for a fee, the sophists offered young wealthy Greek men an education in aretē (virtue or excellence), thereby attaining wealth and fame while also arousing significant antipathy. Prior to the fifth century B.C.E., aretē was predominately associated with aristocratic warrior virtues such as courage and physical strength. In democratic Athens of the latter fifth century B.C.E., however, aretē was increasingly understood in terms of the ability to influence one’s fellow citizens in political gatherings through rhetorical persuasion; the sophistic education both grew out of and exploited this shift.”

Now if you have a look at the way politics works in the Western World, there’s an interesting dual reality going on. There’s the world of Government and then there’s the world of Politics. We expect our Governments to be dispassionately looking at the world, considering possible future scenarios and attempting to use logical thinking to solve the problems. Note I said that we expect “Governments” to do this, and I used a capital “G” deliberately. Because nobody expects our politicians to do this. We just accept that our politicians are modern-day sophists, skilled at mounting an argument and there isn’t a sane person who doesn’t expect them to lie. I’m not talking about broken promises here. I’m talking about the every day, avoiding the question, backing your party, misrepresenting the other parties type of lie. From time to time, we still get upset about the broken promise, which is strange given that we accept that the game of politics is a game of rhetoric. IF a politician ever comes out and actually says something like, “No, I haven’t changed my mind. You know I got rolled in the party room and I have to pretend to like this dog of a policy!” then we’re all stunned.

I guess a reasonable analogy would be to imagine if healthcare was organised in the same way. Doctors all make speeches about which one should be allowed to look after your health for the next three years. You elect to have Doctor Tony. Mainly because he’s told you how bad Doctors Julia and Kevin have been. And how Julia’s insistence that you take your carbon medicine has cost you $500 a year. At your first consultation, Dr Tony tells you that he never promised you better health, he just promised you lower medicine costs, so he’s not going prescribe anything no matter how sick you because you’ll probably be better in a few weeks whatever he does. He tells you that he’s a staunch believer in smaller medical intervention. A few weeks later, you go to him complaining about a pain in your chest. He tells you that it’s undoubtedly caused by either Kevin or Julia. You ask him whether you should have some tests. He tells you that tests are expensive and that it’s probably nothing. Not only that, but you’d need to take time off work to have the tests and the most important thing is your bank balance because without that you won’t even be able to afford to see a doctor. You express the view that your bank balance won’t matter if you’re dead. But Dr Tony assures you that everything’s fine. There’s no proof that chest pains cause death. Besides people have died in the past and that wasn’t linked to a pain in your chest. You express the view to the receptionist that you think that Tony is the worst doctor you’ve ever met. A few weeks later, you go back and discover that he’s been replaced and Dr Malcolm will now be seeing you. Phew, you think. You mention the chest pain to Dr Malcolm. He says that he sees no immediate need to change the treatment that Tony suggested. You point out that Tony hadn’t actually suggested anything. “Ah,” says Dr Mal, “that was probably because he was too busy fixing up the pervious doctor’s mistakes. Just leave it with me.” You do. Dr Malcolm then tells you that you need to re-elect the doctor all over again. You decide to give Dr Malcolm a chance because he’s not Dr Tony. You go back. He tells you that you’re fine and that, if you still have a pain in your chest, it was all Dr Bill’s fault. You say that you still have a pain in your chest and it’s getting worse…

Ok, this could go on forever, so let’s cut to the chase… When you suddenly drop dead, Dr Malcolm will simply tell your loved ones that it was all Dr Bill’s fault and there was nothing he could do. When someone leaves politics, they often admit that they didn’t believe in what they were doing. Rather like the aforementioned doctors telling us, “We didn’t think that the medicine we prescribed would actually save anyone, but we saw it as the only way to win the position of Grand Physician!”

We’d never accept something like that from a real doctor. So why do we allow politicians to resort to rhetoric and sophistry, instead of actually admitting that they don’t have a clue. Take the gas “shortage”. I’ve put “shortage” in quotation marks because it’s hard to accept that Australia has one, when we’re actually exporting gas. It’s like a farmer selling all the food they grow then going to the soup kitchen because they have nothing to eat.

But leaving that to one side, I hear that the gas “shortage” is “three times worse” than was thought. Note the passive voice there. Thought by whom? The government? This is as close as we get to a government saying, “We got it wrong!” But no, we won’t hear that. What we hear is that it’s a result of not allowing “fracking”. Ok, Turnbull doesn’t actually saying “fracking” because that would get him more trouble than if he used another word which sounds like “fracking” and could be used to describe what Tony Abbott is trying to do to the government, but the meaning is clear. He blamed the NSW and Victorian governments for their “failure” to develop gas “Queensland is producing most of the gas on the east coast of Australia. But both Victoria and New South Wales are not doing enough” he told us. Of course, he neglects to mention if they had produced extra gas reserves then these would have, in all likelihood, been contracted to be sold overseas at bargain prices. It’s actually cheaper to buy Australian gas in some other countries than it is here. Which suggests a rather obvious solution to our shortage that doesn’t involve fracking our environment.

Of course, we only have Turnbull’s word that it’s three times worse than was thought. And is he still relying on the same advice that got it wrong? Or did he just decide that if it’s three times worse, he looks three times better when he actually does something beyond have another meeting where he tells the someone else that something needs to be done and if it isn’t, he’ll be forced to have another meeting with them. If the prospect of another meeting with Turnbull isn’t enough to spur them into action, he could threaten to take along Christopher Pyne.

Anyway, as I promised in the title, I’m not going to talk about marriage in any way, because apparently urging people to vote “Yes” is a bullying and arguing with anybody who suggests you should vote “No” is an infringement of their freedom of speech. One could question the logic here, but that would just give our current day sophists more ammunition: “Some guy was trying to force us to think logically. That’s a violation of my rights!”

Why Women Should Never Have Been Given The Vote And Sundry Other Matters…

Recently I heard about a suffragette who threw a brick through a window early last century. Because of this, we should have never given women the vote.

Ok, ok, I know that’s a ridiculous argument for two reasons:

  1.  Why should the violent actions of one person deprive others of their rights?
    
  2.  Women in Australia already had the vote when this happened. This was in the days when Australia thought that they could do things without waiting till everyone else did it.
    

So, while almost everyone can see how ridiculous the logic of voting “No” to women’s right to vote just because some of them grew a little bit uppity and did things like throw bricks or – even worse – behaved in an unladylike manner, it seems that some people are calling the assault on Tony Abbott a turning point in the marriage equality debate.

Ok, I know that it’s Tony Abbott. And I know that a lot of people will have no sympathy and crack jokes and talk about Karma, but that’s only to be expected from the front bench of the Liberal Party, it’s when people who don’t normally support violence join in that I become concerned.

We should condemn it because violence only leads to more violence. And it only gives the “No” campaign a chance to distract from the actual question being asked.

And we shouldn’t get caught up in conspiracy theories just because it’s Tony Abbott. He claims to have been assaulted and it’s not like the man isn’t trustworthy.

Granted, it was very convenient that it should happen at this time. And it was very convenient that the man was wearing a “Yes” badge so that there was no doubt that he was one of those awful people who wants to get rid of Christmas and not someone from the renewable energies lobby. So whatever your natural inclination toward a conspiracy, it’s worth noting that the police have a man in custody, so I expect that he’ll explain that why he did it and plead guilty. Or claim he didn’t do it and plead not guilty.

And, before all those people who reminded us about the presumption of innocence when George Pell was charged start pointing out that this guy too shouldn’t be judged without a trial, let’s now let the law take its course and not mention it again because the man should be given the opportunity of a fair trial.

Ok, I realise that doesn’t suit people who want to use this to argue that you have to vote “No” because this just shows you what sort of people want you to vote “Yes”, but if they stuck to their arguments that relied solely on why two gay people shouldn’t be able to marry each other, the whole debate would be over in two minutes.

“I’d like to say that gay people shouldn’t be allowed to get married because I don’t like it.”
“Any other reason?”
“Yes, it inhibits my religious freedom.”
“But surely you don’t think that other people should have to live their lives according to your religion.”
“Why on earth not?”
“Ok, any other reason.”
“Um… it might lead to other things.”
“But that’s not what’s being asked.”
“Ok, well, let’s stick with God doesn’t like it because you can’t argue with that.”
“I can.”
“Stop bullying me! I demand religious freedom!”

Still, I do find a certain irony in the fact that the man who set up the plebiscite in 2015, and who assured us that there’d be no problems with having a debate, is the one who’s now telling us that we have to vote “No” because – according to him – the “Yes” campaign have turned nasty.

Ok, let’s stop letting the whole marriage equality thing dominate everything. And let’s insist that we don’t talk about Tony’s alleged assault while under investigation. Let’s look at what else has been happening this week.

Mm, I suppose we could consider what Malcolm Roberts is telling the High Court. He thought that he was an Australian citizen and had no citizenship anywhere else even though he became an Australian citizen at nineteen years of age. Why? Well, his sister said so. He didn’t ask her for empirical evidence. Why would you? I mean, lots of us have siblings and why would you ever doubt anything they said to you? Seems fair to me. And when he signed a form saying that he was British, he was young and didn’t read it. Seems like the sort of man you want deciding the country’s future. However, by the time he stood for the Senate, he realised that there was a chance that he might be a British citizen, so he sent off an email to ask if he was. Being unfamiliar with the internet, he didn’t realise that, while one can create a name for one’s own email, if one wants the email to get to another person, you have to find what their address is and not just make one up. Once he realised this, it only took him a few days to work out how to find the British people who could renounce his citizenship and with all the speed of the US processing of asylum seekers on Manus and Nauru, he took steps to ensure that he only had allegiance to One Nation.

Or we could wonder how the party which so strongly argued that putting a voluntary cap on poker machine losses was a ridiculous “nanny state” idea, now wants to roll out the cashless welfare card to more electorates. Apparently, it’s not being a nanny state if they’re the ones doing it. I’m just wondering why the big NSW clubs haven’t mounted the same strong campaign against the welfare card that they did against the voluntary cap.

But maybe we’d be better off just not thinking. It seems to work for many of our politicians.

Updates:

  1. Person charged with Abbott’s assault says that it was nothing to do with his position on marriage equality.
  2. Malcolm Roberts found to be UK citizen at time of nomination.
  3. NSW clubs still have no problem with nanny state when Liberals are the ones doing it.

Do Atheists Deserve Religious Freedom Too?

Throughout my life I’ve always tried to see if there are general principles that one can adopt. For example, while a work colleague may be causing me stress and I feel that it would make my life a lot better if I were to “accidentally” knock him or her down the stairs, can I justify the use of violence simply to improve my working life? And once one puts it in those terms, then the answer is no for a variety of reasons, but one of the most obvious ones is that, from time to time, I use the stairs myself and I’m sure that there would be people who, for some inexplicable reason, find me irritating and would happily apply the same method of improving their lot in life.

So I find myself rather confused by many of the positions held by some people in the whole marriage equality debate. I don’t see the point in being abusive to the other side. It doesn’t mean that I’m telling people that they can’t do it. Neither am I saying that I definitely won’t do it myself. I’m simply saying that I don’t see the point of doing it. It won’t change the mind of the person who you decide to call a “homophobe” or a “nutter” any more than it will change the mind of someone when you tell them that they’re opening the floodgates and they’ll be responsible when someone wants to marry a plate of vegetables. If you’re resorting to abuse, you’re simply doing it to make yourself feel better, in much the same way swearing at the televison when Malcolm Turnbull appears makes Tony Abbott feel a little bit less like his whole life has led up to one gigantic stuff-up at the point when he should have been best able to implement his plan to take Australia back to the 50s. Anyway, what are the principles about abuse that I should be applying here, and am I being hypocritical if I object to one side calling the other nasty things, while finding no problem when the side with which I agree does the same?

Actually I have been wondering if the “Yes” campaign should take a leaf out of the “No” campaign’s playbook and use the hypothetical argument against them. A large chunk of the latter’s arguments have been to suggest that if the “Yes” vote wins the day then all sorts of things will happen. Howard says we’ll lose religious freedoms; Margaret Court says we’ll lose Christmas; Abetz says someone will marry the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Maybe the “Yes” campaign should adopt the same level of hysteria and suggest if the “No” campaign wins then women will lose the right to vote, pre-marital sex will be punished by stoning and the Amish will have the power of veto over the government’s plans for the NBN… actually that last one may have already happened.

So, I’ve been a bit intrigued about the whole notion of religous freedom and freedom of speech over the past few months. Let’s leave aside the question as to where were all those supporters of free speech when Scott McIntyre, the SBS broadcaster, was sacked over his comments about ANZAC day a couple of years back. And let’s forget all about Yassmin and the calls to have her deported, sacked and hung, drawn and quartered. No, let’s just look at the recent controversy about the contractor who was “sacked” over her Facebook comments where she suggested that a “No” vote was the way to go.

Now we could get all technical here and point out that a “contractor” is contracted for jobs and a simple decision not to use them any more isn’t a “sacking”, but that would raise a whole series of questions about the ways in which workers are being exploited in our lucky country. Let’s just take it as a sacking.

And let’s compare this to Steven North, the Ballarat minister who refused to allow a couple to marry because the bride posted support for the “Yes” campaign on Facebook. Would those supporting the contractor’s right to free speech, similarly argue that the bride had the same right without being denied the right to use that church?

Of course there’s a obvious difference. In the case of the church, it’s a religious institution and therefore exempt from anti-discrimination laws. The argument that some are running is that there’s a difference between what Steven North did, in that the contractor had her employment terminated. People, it’s being argued, should be allowed to express their opinions freely on social media without losing their job.

And this sounds convincing. Until you remember that public servants aren’t allowed to do this. And, if an employee of a religious organisation were to express a view on marriage equality which was contrary to the views of his or her employer, would this by all ok, or would the “religious freedom” of the church trump the “free speech” rights of the employee?

Like I said before, are there principles which we can apply to everyone, or are these fluid depending on whether we agree with the view being expressed?

And, given that Andrew Bolt consistently refers to the environment movement as a religion, could they take advantage of this and register themselves as one and exempt themselves from anti-discrimination laws and ensure that they pay no taxes?

Mm, speaking of the environment, I seem to getting a bit distracted by this whole marriage equality thing. I meant to write about the Liddell coal-fired power station and draw an analogy between it and the HR Holden. They both came into existence about the same time, and it seems to me that the Coalition’s position is akin to arguing that we need to extend the life of the HR Holden we’re driving because new cars are more expensive and they’re not as reliable because they sometimes run out of petrol and one broke down in South Australia last year. My HR Holden is much more reliable even if it does need a new battery, and the compression isn’t quite powerful enough to push the car forward when I have more than two passengers or luggage in the boot. But if I just spend about forty thousand or so, I should be able to keep it running well into 2027.

But that’s a silly analogy. I’d rather leave the silly analogies – like comparing Labor’s policies to East Germany – for the Liberal Party.

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