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Day to Day Politics: It not only has to be fair but it must be seen to be.

Friday 6 January 2017

1 Malcolm Turnbull made a statement similar to my headline, I think on Q&A when, before he became Prime Minister, he was espousing virtuous platitudes of political niceties that got him rave reviews for his generosity of spirit.

And since then he has often repeated the same reflection.

“Fairness is absolutely critical” he said recently.

But the truth is that this generosity of spirit has not been evidenced by his Government’s actions.

Richard Denniss in a piece for The Guardian makes the point that in the current debate about Centerlink recouping overpayments from Welfare recipients that “billionaires get more leeway than vulnerable citizens”.

On top of that there seems to be no fairness when MPs use the living away from home allowance to pay for homes through negative gearing or claim expenses that in the private sector would invite dismissal. They fly willy nilly across the country attending weddings, sporting occasions etc at the public’s expense as though it’s a God-given right.

How many Government MPs, including former ones, could provide paperwork for 6-year-old travel allowance claims?

Yet the poor old welfare recipient is confronted with a letter of retrospective demand decided by and based on a computer algorithm that suggests they might have been overpaid. They have even placed the onus of proof on the citizen many years after the fact. And it’s a liberal Government.

I’m not arguing that it may well be the case that “some” are overpaid. My beef is with the fairness aspect.

Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie has, after receiving more than 100 complaints (including from four people who were suicidal) has suggested that the system be put on hold pending an inquiry.

It is a form of class warfare and it’s the right that are fighting it not the left.

Then they argue as Denniss says that:

“Like the economic modelling used to argue that a $50bn tax cut for big business is the best way to boost the wages of low paid workers, the data matching algorithm used by Centrelink to identify “overpayment” is only as accurate as the assumptions and data it relies on. As the old adage says: garbage in, garbage out.”

The Government argues that they need to cut spending but never look beyond one sector to do so. Unlike Pink Batts they can’t blame Labor for this one. Their default excuse of blaming Labor for everything after they have been in Government for 4 long years is not going to work.

Then Senator David Leyonhjelm who seems to know anything and everything about anything and gets ample media space to opine about it suggests that anyone on a pension shouldn’t be proud of it and that people should give up wanting one.
OMG, spare me.

I have even read on social media that Centrelink is advising those in distress to contact Lifeline. However I cannot vouch for the veracity of it.
Yes, Malcolm, “Fairness is absolutely critical”.

2 So far the 17 appointees to Trump’s Cabinet have more wealth between them than the bottom 43 million Americans.

3 What a start to the year. Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne has issued a statement about Indonesia’s decision to suspend military co-operation with Australia. According to Payne, suspension applies only to certain areas of defence cooperation between the two countries but Indonesian armed forces spokesman Major General Wuryanto said all forms of cooperation had been suspended. Wuryanto stated technical reasons were behind the suspension.

As usual the Governments transparency is about as good as its fairness.

4 No doubt we have a pro coal Government. With the Coalition considering a $1 billion loan for Adani’s coal mine project in central Queensland they are coming out all guns firing against environmentalists. It’s just a pity that the planet takes second place all the time.

5 According to Conservative Commentator Judith Sloan the Prime Ministers report card looks a bit sad. She reckons his efforts in public policy development are unsatisfactory. Little progress has been made in reforming industrial relations, education, health, and energy in the past 12 months. It is particularly disappointing that the Federal Government did not respond to the recommendations of the Productivity Commission’s report on the workplace relations regulatory regime.

6 Now I have a gripe. I have always argued that we should have some sort of test for MPs. Something that tells us their suitability or otherwise to represent us in the parliament. For example we have a government with degrees from the best learning institutions in the world yet they are seem incapable of good day-to-day governance. Maybe they need more experience in the real world perhaps.

More empathy in Government maybe. Whatever? So my question is if all that education doesn’t make them better citizens, unable to govern the country? Why does Peter Dutton think that by changing the citizenship test to make it tougher he will end up with better citizens?

What makes him think that the standard of Australian citizenship the Prime Minister and his government sets is any better than that of those seeking to become citizens?

7 Donald Trump on Climate Change:

“I’m still open-minded. Nobody really knows … Look, I’m somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It’s not something that’s so hard and fast. I do know this: Other countries are eating our lunch.”

My thought for the day.

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

Well that’s politics.

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  1. Kaye Lee

    Malcolm Roberts has gone on NZ radio demanding sanctions against Kiwis because of their government’s stance on Israeli settlements in Occupied territories. This was the response from Opposition MP Kelvin Davis….

    “I read his press release yesterday and I suspected the guy was a bit simple and listening to that interview then, I think that has confirmed it,” he said.

    “He’s a climate-change conspiracies’ theorist; he’s a racist and probably the saddest thing about his entry into Australia politics, spending so much time in Canberra, is he has denied a village somewhere in Australia of its idiot.

    “What he is saying is absolutely nuts.

    “We shouldn’t be surprised at One Nation’s low-IQ politics, which is basically to create an enemy – in this case it is New Zealanders – persecute that enemy and use the politics of hate and division for self-promotion. That is all they are really doing.

    “New Zealand at the UN stood up for what they believed; One Nation stands for hate and division. What he is saying is just crazy.”

  2. Kaye Lee

    “I have even read on social media that ‘’Centerlink’’ is advising those in distress to contact ‘’Lifeline’’. However I cannot vouch for the veracity of it.”

    The agency’s official Twitter account has been communicating with users concerned about receiving debt notices during the Christmas period and has referred some to Lifeline, the 24-hour crisis support and suicide-prevention service.

    Centrelink has been sending out 20,000 debt-compliance letters a week since the Turnbull government introduced a new computer-based compliance system in July, up from its usual rate of about 20,000 a year.

  3. Terry2

    Well, one bit of good news.

    It was suggested before Christmas that Peter Dutton had a “Field Marshall’s baton in his knapsack” evidently implying that he had aspirations of Liberal Party leadership and hence the Prime Ministership of this country.

    Relax folks, further enquiry established it was a stick not a field marshall’s baton.

    Phew !

  4. jim

    Yea at a time when we’re most likely heading for a recession/ depression it appears this LNP government are dismantling the Australia that we once could be very proud of. But what have the LIBs done closed our car industry wrecked our scientific ability sacked thousands of very good scientist
    with most of them gone overseas never to return, geez good one LNP.

    Independent Senator for South Australia Nick Xenophon says the announcement made by the Turnbull Government yesterday to award a $529million Icebreaker contract to a European firm is a “kick in the guts to many hundreds of SA shipbuilders who will lose their jobs as the jobs ‘valley of death’ deepens between now and late 2018”.

    In 2014 the Coalition Government released a restricted tender for a new Antarctic Icebreaker. The tender did not require an Australian build – unlike other countries (especially the US) which require their merchant and naval vessels to be built locally. The winner of the tender is Netherlands-based Damen Schelde, part of the Damen Shipyards Group….

    And the list of very bad government goes on and on and on.

  5. Zathras

    I’m frankly surprised at Malcolm Roberts’ stance on the Israeli settlements – I would have thought he would be part of the “International Jewish Banking Conspiracy is behind Global Warming Hoax” brigade (or is it the shape-shifting reptile overlord group?).

    In any case it’s an example of International Fairness that he doesn’t like and is part of the opportunistic political culture that scapegoats, vilifies and divides.

    As for the Government generally it’s starting to look like they are plundering the public purse on behalf of their financial sponsors as quickly as they can before it all gets even worse for them, grabbing whatever they can before the next election sees them back in the political wilderness.

    These decisions look more like acts of desperation than long term nation-building.

  6. Ella Miller

    I can’t express my outrage , disgust and yet pity for Senator. D. Leyonhjelm. What a sad imitation of what a human being should be.

    I also feel angry at journalist who are not smart enough to ask him;

    How long does he think a worker on an average wage would have to work to earn what he does in three years? Six years maybe more?
    How much money can such a worker put aside in super in a lifetime? $300 Ks, $400Ks.
    For how many workers was there no super when they started to work?
    So should these people who will obviously need either a full or part pension live on fresh air?

    What a disgraceful attitude…

    What a disgraceful representative for his electorate!

    He has no right to suggest that “anyone on a pension shouldn’t be proud of it……give up wanting it”;
    He can prove that he does not claim every possible claim as a Senator,
    he can prove he does not claim every possible tax deduction , ethical or not.


  7. helvityni

    I never thought that I’d agree with Judith Sloan about anything, but I do now: the Prime Ministers report card looks a bit sad…Of course it’s more than ‘sad’…

    A conservative commentator has been rather generous, I’d give our PM a firm FAIL.

    According to my Liberal voting businessman friend he will not last much longer…

  8. Wayne Turner

    Evil LNP attacking the less well off that have done the right thing,and then LNP lying about it.

    Gutless lying Turnbull was too busy bludging at the cricket yesterday to do anything/say anything about this.

    LNP a pack of lying self serving rorters.

  9. brickbob

    They can see the writing on the wall not just by the polls but by their own constituents as well i suspect,so they have adopted a scorched earth policy along the lines of a defeated retreating army,destroy everything that the next incoming Govt can use against you and then while in opposition scream like demented banshees how the new Govt is hopeless and has wrecked everything thatyou achieved while youwere in power.
    This massive deception can easily be maintained and serviced by a compliant partisian media to fool the ignorant masses on a daily basis just like they have done in the US, constantly accusing Putin and Russia of rigging the elections and trying to invade and take over the world when it is the Neo Cons and Neo Liberals in Washington who have been doing that exact’thing for over 30 years.”””””’
    There is a fairly good chance of a thermo nuclear war in the near future,and it wont be started by Putin or China,but rather the insane war hawks and Washington Dr Strangelove look a likes.”””””””””””””””””

  10. Kaye Lee

    I completely disagree about any likelihood of a nuclear war. This is from a Russian commentator…..

    “Having established the principle that those launching a nuclear attack should expect a symmetrical response, one wonders for what reason NATO & Co would want to trigger such a cataclysm. Maybe to save the dollar from the true economic crisis that threatens to annihilate American hegemony? What wealth prospects could the oligarchs of Wall Street and the City of London ever have once their main partners (Europeans, Americans, Russians, Chinese) are reduced to ashes? Who would obtain an advantage from a lethal exchange of nuclear weapons between NATO and Russia? Let’s be honest: nobody. All those who claim to the contrary have not examined the issue seriously enough.

    I would like to bring to the attention of the kind reader some issues that we often take for granted. The real industrial profit for the military industrial complex, working hand in glove with Wall Street and London, stems from the preparation for war: spending on research, development, manufacture, stretching costs, inflating them and extorting as much money as possible from the government and the American taxpayers. This is the basic guideline for American military spending doctrine. Do you think that Raytheon and Boeing would derive higher profits from a nuclear exchange with tens of millions of deaths? Unlikely, least of all because those who finance them (common citizens paying taxes) would themselves be reduced to ashes.”

  11. Steve Laing -

    Correct Kaye – also why Malcolm is so keen to spend, or should I say waste, money on vastly overpriced and underperformant fighter planes, and submarines which will be obsolete before they are even built. But who cares when weapons manufacturers can rip off the taxpayers! I wonder how many shares in them Malcolm’s blind trust funds own?

  12. wam

    Great thought Lord!
    Heard the rabbott use that technique to explain how his suppository of shirt fronting was not what you heard or what he actually said.

    The centrelink computer is a tragedy now and will kill people unless it is reprogrammed.

    The attitude of the two long term pensioners is:
    ‘I have always had pleasant dealings with centrelink’.
    My wife and I have taken one of them to centrelink for minor communication and changes of details that required a couple of minutes keyboarding. Easily fixed by the operator’s level of access to the computer.
    This woman is ‘violently’ ethical, scrupulously honest and has been involved with government funding throughout the late 50s to mid 90s. Yet keeps her money out of the banks so that the government won’t put up her rent. When it gets to $10000 she gives it to her son.
    She approves of the government’s measures against dole bludgers, disliked gillard as a woman, believed the papers description of a liar who achieved nothing and has always voted clp.
    This time, I ignored her age and told her she was a pension bludger and should not compare herself to a pensioner. She agreed but said she was not cheating just saving and keeping her rent low.
    I hope a class action can be taken against centrelink by the thousands of innocent Australians who have suffered by this action.
    (It would be great if it has a side effect in destroying the surfie dole bludger syndrome)
    As for the liberal thinker, he is a nasty piece of work. It is beyond me to think of who would have voted for him twice?

  13. silkworm

    Barnaby on ABC24 now saying those on welfare are taking taxpayer’s money. I’ve heard Porter saying the same thing. This is wrong. Modern Monetary Theory tells us that taxes recoup (destroy) money that is spent (created) by government. Taxes don’t fund anything. I also heard Sarah H-Y also talk about “taxpayer’s money” funding Nauru and Manus.

  14. MichaelW

    Methinks Malcolm has no morals, no conscience, no empathy and no idea. He is prepared to be dictated too by the far right nut-jobs of the party just to keep his job.

    I predict he will serve his term as PM (unless we have a revolution) then retire from Parliament with his over inflated ego, pension and expenses to add to his wealth.

    Meanwhile those at the bottom end of the food chain can get stuffed.

    As I have said previously when labor get back into power it will take decades or never to repair the damage this incompetent excuse for a government has done.

  15. Jaquix

    Malcolm Turnbull has a silver tongue. Fairness is just a word to him, to be employed to make him sound like a statesman. Unfortunately he is just a two-bit two-faced politician out for his own interests. The Centrelink debacle has dominated the headlines over Christmas and I hope when the polls resume soon, they show a drop in support for this miserable lot.

  16. Kim Southwood

    Yes, Jaquix! MT works on the principle that if he says it his flock will believe it. We only need to look at the man’s resume pre-politics!!!
    Who else it these uncertain times could make such an omniscient statement as:

    “The need to undertake reforms to deliver long-term gains for all Australians, which may create winners and losers in the near term, isn’t keenly felt in many parts of Australian society,” Mr Turnbull said.

    In one breath he is telling us his ‘reforms’, which financially screw over the lower earners, are not only justified but also bullet proof. In the other he is telling us we’re too dumb to feel the ‘egalitarian’ thrust of his purpose. We should be cowed in His Presence.

    Sadly for MT we’re actually wising up to see him and his strata of the earning pyramid as walking proof of his concept of egalitarianism.

    Another article much enjoyed, John.

  17. Florence nee Fedup

    helvityni I believe you agree his report card is a fail but for very different reasons. She bellieves he hasn’t gone in hard, cut enough. #auspo[

  18. Florence nee Fedup

    The worse aspect of the present Centrelink 140 million fiasco is not the money wasted. not harm caused to beneficiaries but the depleted staff will be diverted from day to day tasks. Will lead to bigger more expensive mess to clean up.

    We have school leavers moving onto either dole or education schemes, along with new school year. Added on to this 20k letters a week.

    Doesn’t take much imagination to know what outcome reactions their ideology driven policies will be.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    silkworm. the are receiving entitlements their taxes have contributed to over a lifetime. Still contribute to with GST, rates and gap payments doctors and road tolls only to mention a few. They are paying because of this mob’s ideology of user pay,

  20. Florence nee Fedup

    Do I have it wrong or did we over the weekend have the PM pouring expensive wine into a glass.He made it worse by saying or words to this effect, he wouldn’t be doing this way at home.

    In his waffling voice that he would decanter the bottle, letting it stand for half an hour, So one could saviour the hidden flavours and scents.

    I might have it wrong, as I wasn’t listening properly at the time. It was mentioned Hawke stayed with beer, probably low strength.

    The PM seems to delight every time he goes out, in showing us how much he is out of touch.

    Out of touch not only with the public but with many in his own parliamentary party. Comes across as a lonely person who acts as a observer, not PM, responsible for government, where the buck stops with him. He doesn’t appear to belong to anyone with the poor me, little boy look that now never leaves his face.

  21. Florence nee Fedup

    I fail to see MT having silver tongue at all. He reminds me of a snake oil salesman or maybe a carpet b(r)agger of US South.

  22. helvityni

    I tend to agree with you, Florence; I find him awkward and clunky. For me it’s Keating, whose way of speaking I admire, he kept you interested, good timing, excellent word choices, often comic, often sharp but spot on…I’m with Keating when he says :Turnbull lacks judgment…
    Hewson is a better speaker than Turnbull and Abbott put together… Howard was boring…

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