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Day to Day Politics: 2016 – Thank goodness there’s only one of them.

Monday 2 January 2017

When the last bauble has been taken from the tree and all the decorations that go with it are packed away. When the last of too many drinks has been drunk and the good or bad of it has been processed. When the result of too much food and merriment has been fully digested we descend into the months of January and February with the malaise that Australians are accustomed too. Play and sun, and momentary forgetfulness of things serious transcend all else.

Then we wake and the memory of it is still there. The year 2016 and the prospect of what 2017 might bring. The sheer awfulness of it and the people who made it so. Some of course like the readers of this blog do not rest. We are reflecting on the year past, analysing, processing, and reflecting on its horrid implications.

If Australian politics could get any worse it did so with spectacular incompetency. We saw the death of a once noble pursuit known as truth. There can be no doubt as to who was responsible and who denied it. Compassion politics deserted the body politic because it was  too costly and old-fashioned for a deeply far right conservative government.

The year ended with News Poll showing Labor on 52% of the vote and the Coalition on 48% and one had to wonder why a government who had governed so tragically could, if an election were held now, be within striking distance of its opposition.

On the eve of Christmas the  official quarterly figures, showing growth in year-on-year emission’s, confirmed independent projections from Ndevr Environmental, released earlier this month by Guardian Australia, which predicted Australia’s emissions would be rising.

This unequivocally proved beyond any shadow of doubt that Hunt, Turnbull and Freydenberg have been lying to the public for a number of years. If they were serious they would tell the public the truth. That is that they have no intention of doing anything about Climate Change because they don’t believe in the science. This report was actually finalized in September suggesting they have scant interest in telling the Australian people the truth of our Paris commitment.

This became apparent when in December Turnbull ruled out policies that would enable us to meet our Paris obligations. In doing so he condemned himself a liar and a hypocrite. It well may be that under the Presidency of Donald Trump and his cabinet of climate deniers the United States will opt out of the Paris agreement altogether  and in so doing leave it open for other countries to do the same.

Again just before Christmas the controversial donation to Bjørn Lomborg’s Copenhagen Consensus Centre rose its head again and it was found that the Turnbull government had in fact signed an agreement to make a $640,000 grant to the centre nine months after plans to establish it had been abandoned.

It was just another anti Climate Change decision.

Meanwhile Scotland celebrated Christmas by being coal free for the first time in 115 years.

The political lie in 2016 became an accepted part of the political vernacular. Take me seriously but not literally became the new mantra as we sank into the pit of hellish untruth.

It therefore followed that the public’s trust in politicians hit rock bottom with just 26% of people (ANA University) having trust in them. It was a year of appallingly bad governance. Dutton, George Brandis, Barnaby Joyce, Christopher Pyne, Mathias Cormann and Scott Morrison were individual ministers who really were not up to the task.

The Deputy Prime Minister looks and acts like a fool, and can be childish. Never before has Australia elected a person more unsuitable to the position.

As a Christmas present to the Australian people the government delivered bad news on the economy. The so-called MYEFO mid-year report revealed an economy in deep trouble. So much so that it revealed that over the four-year forward estimates it will have grown by more than $10 billion to $36.5 billion. And you can add to that another $13 billion in savings that is stuck in the Senate from the 2014 Budget and unlikely to be passed.

With the 2017/18 budget due in five months it must be a miracle of accountancy that a treasurer can carry forward such amounts as though they are actually part of the figures, simple to make himself look good, or better, when in fact, as treasurers go he is pathetically stupid.

Yet they continue to paint a rosy future using growth figures that are unreachable and at the same time saying that we will have a surplus in 19/20. If per chance we do there is a trick involved.

From 2020-21, profits generated by the Future Fund will be included in Australia’s budgets. Thus, a small surplus in that year will be achieved only because of a change in the fund’s accounting methodology. The Future Fund’s projected earnings of $A3.9 billion for 2019-20 are forecast to ensure a budget surplus of about $A1.1 billion in 2020-21.

Just to confuse matters though Mathias Cormann did say that the budget surplus by 2020 was a projection, not policy.

We are in such grave trouble that we are in danger of losing our AAA rating and many economists are forecasting a recession. But in Scott Morrison and Mathias Cormann we have a treasurer and finance minister who both fail to recognize we have a revenue problem.

Turnbull says that repairing the Budget is a moral issue:

“This moral issue of living within our means is absolutely paramount because we cannot keep on building up this mountain of debt to throw onto the shoulders of those for whom we should care the most.”

Turnbull is correct to say it is a moral issue, particularly moral when you are asking the poor and middle classes to fund it.

Will giving $50 billion in corporate tax giveaways to wealthy corporations and individuals resolve the issue? Is that what he means by morality? Fairdinkum.

2016 was also a year in which the parliament decided to pass onto the public something it couldn’t do itself. Despite overwhelming public support for equality in marriage the government decided that it wasn’t up to the task of passing legislation and called for a plebiscite. The Senate rejected it and nothing happened, further exposing the Parliament, particularly the Government to the ridicule it so richly deserved. But it wont go away. 2017 will see marriage equality trying even harder to gain the justice it so richly deserves.

Tomorrow: Part two

My thought for the day.

Happy New Year.

There is something about a new beginning. A new start. First time happenings … It’s fresh it’s alive – the new of another year It conjures a feeling of excitement of anticipation. It triggers emotions. Of change, hopes and fears. Of things not yet encountered. We are privy to new experiences. A gift yet unwrapped. What is it filled with? I dare you. Cut the ribbon.


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  1. johnlord2013

    Yes I know it doesn’t silkworm but it is still an embarrassment in the public eye.

  2. Graeme Henchel

    My prediction. Things will get worse for Turnbull. The Delcon right will continue to threaten to leave (it’s all part of the destabilisation strategy). Abbott will position himself as the peace maker, the only one who can keep the ship together. Turnbull will lose. The only uncertainty is whether he loses with a skerric of dignity by standing up to the right or loses in absolute humiliation. Abbott will continue his destiny, to destroy the coalition for a generation. Happy New Year.

  3. John Kelly

    I don’t worry about the fictional mountain of debt, the literally worthless AAA rating, but shudder at the thought of a surplus. At a time of zero growth, a surplus will only make it worse. I also lament the loss of truth. That, more than anything else, signifies a morally bankrupt country.

  4. Michael Taylor

    John, today is The AIMN’s 4th birthday. What a wonderful post to kick it off with.

  5. helvityni

    Looking at the header photo of our PM, I get the feeling that Mal is praying for more time for himself…

    The God of Important Things is not happy and says: time to go, you have not cared about the most needy, the sick, the jobless, the pensioners, the homeless, the asylum seekers…

    Welcome back, John.

  6. Ella Miller

    Happy Birthday AIM Network, you are one light in the darkness of politics.

  7. Keitha Granville

    Wonderful read as usual John, thanks.
    Do you think we have to wait until the next election is actually due before we get rid of this mob ? I don’t know if I can bear it. ANOTHER budget with measures that won’t be passed, ANOTHER year of having to listen to Morrison and Cormann talking up their financial brilliance, ANOTHER year of Pauline Hanson making nonsensical statements. She might as well be spouting Jabberwocky.

    Can we please have a new system where those seeking political office must pass a test of ethics, morals, and basic human decency ?

    It is time for the parliament ie the Speaker and the president of the Senate, to STOP those making stupid statements, to STOP the use of question time for Dorothy Dixers and to control the rabble as smoothly as the average kindergarten teacher. There’s an idea, appoint a kindergarten teacher to do those jobs.

  8. thebustopher

    Bang on John (Kelly). The economy needs an injection of funds, and we’re heading down the recession path already. I went and did my Christmas Shopping on Christmas Eve as I usually do this year, and it was very easy to park, and nowhere near as crowded as last year. Anecdotal I know, but I think retailers will not be all that happy when the figures all come in…

  9. Jaquix

    The trouble with getting rid of Turnbull is that he will only be replaced by some other useless “Liberal” party member of parliament. There is no evidence of any talent with any leadership qualities amongst them. Despite the publicity he gets, Tony Abbott is probably not going to get the support they think he is. Would be wonderful (in my humble opinion) if he was, the government would be plunged into even more turmoil, and go down the tube even faster with voters. Turnbull has aged considerably in the year since he grabbed the top job he’s always wanted, which indicates he isnt really having such a wonderful time as he claims. The best he can hope for is a doctor’s advice to resign immediately, thus triggering a by-election in Wentworth and leaving the rabble to it.

  10. stephentardrew

    Another good one John. Agreed John B Kelley surplus will be our doom.

    One must ask if we are talking about moral imperatives what is moral or ethical about feeding the wealthy more wealth while making the middle, low income, marginalised, refugees, welfare recipients and poor suffer unreasonable hardship while the doyens of neoliberalism swim in a pool of unbridled wealth and greed. Morality has nothing to do with lifters and leaners or doers and spongers these are fabricated rhetorical devices meant to vilify and marginalise those who are less fortunate as if modifying language will justify cruelty and brutality.

    That many of our politicians call themselves Christians adds weight to the truth that they are liars, grifters, and hypocrites willing to use any false narrative to maintain their misbegotten entrenched inequality. There seems to be hardly any semblance of logic, rationality and critical thinking left in a completely biased an uneducated media. You may have degrees, masters, Phd etc. however if you lack emotional intelligence and moral discrimination none of it is worthy of the imprimatur intelligence.

    To, with malice and forethought, do harm to your fellow human beings is immoral and unconscionable. It is the self-regulating market finding equilibrium just another lie to justify immorality and cruelty. How come you are willing to regulate the market to feed the coffers of the wealthy while shafting the poor and call it self-regulating. You keep citizens in ignorance for you own self-interest. This is true of both left and right. I am sick of the elitist left bleating about unfair criticism when it is logically, rationally and demonstrably provable they are complicit in this injustice..

    Neoliberalism is actually entrenched injustice and inequality in the name of a self-regulating market which the corporations, financiers and politicians control. We are in deep trouble because nearly all of our politician willingly drink the cool aid while making of democracy a Machiavellian lie.

    New year, new hope? I don’t think so until there is a radical rethink of economics and politics to meet the real and justifiable needs of the people. With the environment in deep trouble we are heading towards a greed infested hell of our own making.

    Unfortunately, the fact is for our children and grandchildren, we do not have time to hope. The battle has only just begun.

  11. Florence nee Fedup

    Abbott is busy man with all his so called essays. Today’s is found in the Spectator I believe, Demanding that foreign aid be cut to Palestine.

    He is busy setting the agenda for this the Turnbull government.

    Wonder whose idea it was for him to join the joint deputation to Israel with Shorten and other Labor MPs? Love the way Abbott managed to get many pictures standing next to Shorten with big grin on his face.

    Funny thing is Abbott is acting more like a PM now than when he had the job. Emphasis on “acting” playing the role. One could say that is all Turnbull is also doing.

    The younger Bishop heading the bookmakers list, followed by Dutton. Neither welcome prospect.

  12. Florence nee Fedup

    “Can we please have a new system where those seeking political office must pass a test of ethics, morals, and basic human decency ?”

    Maybe something like the test many on the right from Howard’s time demand those applying for citizenship have to pass?

    A test that proves they will be loyal to Australia and all who reside here. Maybe they should be made prove they are fit to stand before becoming a candidate?

  13. Florence nee Fedup

    We got Abbott the first time by default.

    There was no demand for him at the time. Encouraged Hockey to stand, saying he would withdraw at second round. Of course Abbott as usual lied. Stood against Hockey second round. Split the vote, winning by very narrow margin.

    Funny both visited Howard night before. Hockey up front, Abbott sneaking in the backway, in secret.

  14. guest

    Just look at Turnbull under pressure when he is interviewed at length. He shows clearly he is under pressure.

    His voice quavers with uncertainty when the speaks even about Coalition policies, with a fixed smile on his face and arms waving as if to gather in some support from round about. He lists bills passed as proof of his achievement, how he is treating others with respect – but omits to say (nor is he asked) how he achieved the passing of the ABCC bill (the big issue behind the DD and the TURC report) by making 20 different deals with voting parliamentarians.

    He prefers to get away from discussing Coalition performance and flies off to criticise Labor, claiming Shorten lives in some parallel universe. Nice irony there.

  15. wam

    Welcome back, Lord!
    There has been such a dea(r)th of your favourite 4 letter word that I could hardly wait for your posts.
    What a year it is going to be???????? The tlob being so anti-trunbull and the devine miranda’s so anti-the rabbott has made reading rupert a giggle.
    Perhaps the best start to my mind is the wonderful Helvitinyi’s
    God of Important Things
    That is a great description of the ‘god of remarkable men echoing lampooning endless sweaty simpletons’.

  16. Terry2

    Compliments of the season, all.

    I think the world has passed me by.

    I have just heard a financial services person on the ABC talking about the changes to pension entitlements and suggesting that retirees with $500,000 in the bank should be able to buy an annuity returning $30,000 a year after fees, year-in year-out (i.e. 6%) and together with a part pension they should be able to do very nicely.

    I know I’m an old bugger and don’t have my finger on the financial markets as much as I should but can anybody tell me where you can get that sort of return on a low risk investment ?

  17. MichaelW

    Breaking news: the coalition have some new policies for 2017. Unfortunately they are unable to reveal them. “We don’t discuss policy matters”.

    Not looking forward to 2017 with this incompetent bunch of nut jobs trashing the joint, unfortunately things can only get worse.
    Even if labor win the next election it will take decades or never to repair the damage this incompetent bunch of nutters have done in just over three short years.

    When labor (hopefully soon) get into government their first priority should be abolish labour hire companies, the absolute scum of the Earth. Neighbor of mine has to phone every morning at 3.00am to see if there is work available for him and be ready to start at 5.00am.
    Miners expected to work for $24.00 per hour casual rates. Just a couple of examples I could go on and on.

    Elderly and young people volunteering for charity work to receive the dole because they are thrown on the scrap heap. Low and middle income earners no pay rises for three years, in fact some have had pay cuts.

    Happy New Year to all. (hopefully).

  18. Terry2

    Tony Abbott being helpful as ever has barged into Middle East politics after taking a taxpayer funded jaunt to Israel and is now suggesting that Australia move its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

    He well knows that Jerusalem is claimed by both Islam and Judaism as their sacred city and the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa Mosque is the third holiest site in Sunni Islam, located in the Old City of Jerusalem which is also revered by Jews. The site is part of the Old City, controlled by Israel since the 1967 war and both Israel and the Palestinian Authority claim sovereignty over it, and it remains a major focal point of the Arab–Israeli conflict.

    Abbott knows that by moving our delegation to Jerusalem we would be giving tacit acknowledgement that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish state of Israel and would be a major snub to the Palestinians and efforts to establish a two state solution.

    We have to plead with the good folk of Warringah, please do not vote this man back into office at the next federal election, he is a loose cannon at home and a disaster when he goes overseas.

  19. olddavey

    “The Deputy Prime Minister looks and acts like a fool, and can be childish. Never before has Australia elected a person more unsuitable to the position.”
    Not quite right John, Australia didn’t elect him to the position, the half-witted coalition numpties did that all by themselves!

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