Day to Day Politics: Will someone please fix…

Thursday 25 May 2017 Those of you who follow my daily political mutterings…

Your Say: the 1967 Referendum

From Gary Pead It should be remembered in Referendum Week ​that in 1967…

Day to Day Politics: After-Budget Hangover.

Wednesday 24 May 2017 I’m having one of those days where I’m going…

At least I never said "Adani"...

Someone asked me how my wife feels about having our conversations repeated…

Day to Day Politics: Three cases of…

Tuesday 22 May 2017 1 I have for some time now been calling…

“Baa, baa, black sheep …”

By freef'all852 (Warning: This article contains words and language that may offend the…

No, the banks aren’t really scared

By Ross Hamilton A lot of Australians are fed up with the big…

Finding the pathway to humanity

A few weeks ago, an international peace conference was held in Cairo…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: Abbott Government

Day to Day Politics: Abbott admits to being an idiot.

Tuesday April 26 2016   – 69

In a revealing third essay for Quadrant Magazine Tony Abbott admits some of his failings. I haven’t read his work and because I think he is the greatest liar to have ever walked the corridors of Parliament house, I probably won’t.

Adam Gartrell in a critique for Fairfax Abbott admits to making errors and unnecessary enemies. He lists his expensive paid parental leave scheme (PPL) proposal and his decision to abolish the debt ceiling together with his decision on Knighthoods as major blunders.

He stands by his policies on same-sex marriage, climate change, asylum seekers and national security.

He still thinks that the 2014 budget was the greatest thing since sliced bread.

It is commendable that people, especially politicians, admit error. However in Abbott’s case he is simply trying to perpetuate an image of himself contrary to that of those with independent political judgement.

Of his budget he says that there was a “moral purpose” to returning the budget to surplus because it would have allowed the government to create a better society. How offensive is that to those he was expecting to pay for his better society? It was a budget that might have been called “the unfair immoral purpose of inequality”.

The question that arises is this, “a better society for who?” This budget was universally judged as the most unfair ever. If he was looking to a better society then it would not be the rich who would create it.

The utter dumbness of his PPL, his blindness on Climate Change, his infiltration of our schools with Christian Chaplains, and his stupidity on Knighthoods will be cemented in the political history of Australia as amongst the most injudicious ever.

If it were in him he would have listed his ability to lie in all circumstances as his biggest sin but that might be too much to expect. He wasn’t stopping boats he was turning them back.

Instead he says he should have done more media, particularly more long-form interviews so voters could see more of his personality. Personality, I’m lost for words so I will move on.

Two other things he regrets are not proceeding with changes to section 18c of the Racial Discrimination act and curtailing MP’s entitlements.

Leaving aside his attitude toward women I think I will leave it there least I say what I think. I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong impression of me.

Well one last thought. It’s this. How could you possibly on the one hand admit that as a leader you made many monumental errors of leadership and on the other wonder why your party sacked you? And on top of that harbour thoughts of returning to the job.

It takes a certain kind of arrogance to think that way.

My thought for the day.

“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics. But unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven”.

 

Day to Day Politics: Pie in the sky politics.

Friday April 1 2016

1 The now Abbott/Turnbull Government spent three years in opposition before coming to power in 2013 on the back of Labor leadership dysfunction. During this time Abbott spent an inordinate amount of time being negative, opposing everything.

‘Oppose’, that’s what oppositions do, he said.

Policy groundwork was neglected on the grounds that simply being in office would correct things. When the Australian people gifted them with government it became immediately apparent that, despite the most educated bunch of ministers in Australia’s history, they were policy deficient.

It dogged Abbott for the better part of his tenure. So much so that his leadership was challenged. He survived and made the most astonishing statement that ‘Good Government starts tomorrow.’ In doing so he made a public confession that he had governed badly.

Deplorable government continued unabated to the point where it was no longer tenable. So he was replaced with the more affable personality of Malcolm Turnbull. People’s expectations (including mine) was that a new era of public discourse might come to fruition. It didn’t because Turnbull was unable to be his own man. To get the job he had sold his soul to the extremists of his party. Bequeathed on us was a centre left leader under the control of the right.

He promised a new economic debate centered on tax reform saying that everything was on the table. We quickly found that the menu was so good that everything was gobbled up by the extremes of economic obesity.

The latest addition to the menu is a proposal to allow the states to impose their own income tax to fund schools and health. You won’t mind if we continue to fund the private schools will you?

Yesterday I listened to his interview with Fran Kelly and I was left with the unmistakable impression that this was yet another policy cockup. They haven’t done their homework. It is but a blatant attempt to pass the buck.

For some time now the government has been saying that to repair the budget, cuts have to be made. That cutting expenditure was the answer. Revenue was not the problem. Yet during the interview with Kelly whilst trying to justify his proposal he said:

‘It’s not an attempt to raise taxes but there is a revenue problem’.

There may be some merit in his proposal but can anyone seriously persuade me that the states over time won’t raise taxes to accommodate their needs. Turnbull insists that the State Tax plan isn’t about raising taxes but it is, in fact, the very point of the exercise.

This is simply a handball job. The economic mess the Coalition has made for itself could be fixed if they would put their ideology aside for five minutes, govern for the common good, and take note of the recommendations of CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia. (See their report ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ laid the basis for economic recovery).

Has anyone considered the individual social inequality this will cause? Or state to state inequality for that matter. Or why would we even need a Federal Government.

What we are experiencing is simply ‘thought bubble on the run politics’. And from a man who should know better. And all because the Abbott/Turnbull Government has placed political egotism and ideology before sound policy development.

Further evidence of this government’s dysfunction was identified when the Treasurer soon after Turnbull’s announced his grand plan appeared to be at odds with his Prime Minister. The best one can say about their relationship is ‘it’s complicated’.

2 For me it’s odds on that the proposal will be rejected with some saving grace for the PM. However, we are no further advanced. A budget is looming in a matter of weeks. A budget that if the Treasurer is true to his word that spending is the only means of repairing the budget, should be a shocker. It has to be if he is fair dinkum. And what about the billions still there from the 2014 that is still stuck in the Senate? He can’t continue to leave it on the books, surely.

It’s hard to believe just how badly this Government is playing the political game.

3 Peta Credlin is to appear on Sky News as an election commentator. They apparently wanted her to join with Bolt to give the channel objectivity.

4 Billionaire retailer Jerry Harvey, the man who views the world through the prism of his own cash registers, reckons we need a two tier wage system where cheap labour is plentiful.

‘Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn … I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff‘ he said.

5 Conversely, I was reading the daily Morgan Report and would you believe the Fair Work Ombudsman did a nationwide investigation into the fast-food sector and found that nearly half (47 per cent) of 565 spot-checked employers have not been paying their staff correctly, with workers being paid as low as $6 per hour compared to the statutory minimum of $17.25 per hour.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation found that in nearly one-third of cases, the flat hourly rate paid by the employer to its workers was not enough to cover hours attracting penalty rates and loadings, resulting in underpayments for which an employer could be ordered to compensate the underpaid worker, and fined for breach of the applicable Industrial Award.

Royal Commission anyone?

6 Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t go any lower, he does.

Trump was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to define his ‘pro-life’ stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

‘Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle?’ asked Matthews, during the taping of a town hall event.

‘The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,’ said Trump.

‘For the woman?’ Matthews said.

‘Yeah, there has to be some form’ Trump replied.

‘Ten cents, 10 years, what?’ Matthews asked again, pressing.

‘That I don’t know,’ said Trump.

My Thought for the day.

At some time in the human narrative ... in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But thats men for you’.

 

Day to Day Politics: ‘Remembering Abbott’s Past’ – 51 Reasons why he should move on.

Wednesday March 30 2016.

Leaders rarely go with good grace. Almost always they feel they have been hard done by. Tony Abbott has joined a long list who stubbornly cling to the past in the hope that they might reinvent a future. Abbott was never a popular leader. He fell into the Prime Minister’s job without the any attributes of leadership.

Here a just a few examples of why he was never suited for the job.

‘Do you really think my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was Peter as opposed to Peta?” Mr Abbott asked the ABC’s Lyndal Curtis.’

My words

Do you really think I would be attacking the Prime Minister in the manner I do if her name was James and not Julia.

‘I think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms.’

The Guardian has judged him as ‘politically incorrect to the point of dementia.’

New Statesman said Abbott represents ‘politics at its most crass, exploitative and disturbing’

UK Labour MP Paul Flynn called him ’a bigoted airhead.’

The LA Times called itself ’scandalised by his prejudices.’

The Sydney Morning Herald said ‘Tony Abbott had plumbed new lows in government decency.’

Le Monde thinks he is ‘sexist and vulgar.’

The influential Huffington Post said ‘he is simply an idiot.’

In the midst of the New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell’s resignation over a bottle of wine a reporter asked a seemingly legitimate question about corruption on the conservative side of politics in that state. The (then) Prime Minister’s reaction was indeed unrepresentative of the highest office in the land. His anger at the mere suggestion of corruption from his side of politics was palpable. Lest we forget.

But then his ability to feign indignation is only surpassed by that of Christopher Pyne. The fact that the journalist in question was a young lady, who he addressed as Madam, did nothing to dim his reputation for misogyny.

You can watch the video here.

There are those who say that blogs of the ilk for which I write are simply going through an exercise in character assassination. Not so. I was never a Howard hater like many people. Hating people is repugnant to me. However I do believe that Tony Abbott was demonstrably unfit for the highest office in the land and therefore open to the most severe examination.

There are three reasons. Firstly he was arguably the worst liar to have ever walked the halls of parliament. A liar by his own admission and by evidence. Secondly he is a luddite of the highest order. Anyone who cannot comprehend science and is dismissive of technology belongs in another time and is intellectually unsuited for leadership in the complex word of today. Lest we forget that he appointed Malcolm Turnbull as the then opposition spokesperson to destroy the NBN. Thirdly he is a characterless man of little personal political morality which has been on display throughout his career. He is and always has been an unpopular gutter politician of the worst kind. Lest we forget.

It is said that when opposition leaders ascend to the highest office they are judged by their performance in it. That their past misdemeanours are of little relevance. I cannot subscribe to that. Lest we forget.

Trying to convert a lifetime of negativity into motivating inspirational leadership was a bridge to far. To say the least he was totality uninspiring. In fact I can think of no other person in Australian public life who has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott.

But one should not use the aforementioned language without substantiating one’s claims. So, lest we forget these indiscretions from his past.

None of these events are in chronological order. They are just as they came to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.

1 When the President of the US visited he broke long-standing conventions by politicising his speech as opposition leader.

2 He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

3 He did the same when the Queen visited.

4 He could not help but play politics with the death of an Australian icon in Margaret Whitlam.

5 He would not allow pairs (another long-standing convention) so that the minister for the arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Another Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personnel friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.

6 He refused a pair whilst the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

7 Then there were the callous and inappropriate remarks he made to Bernie Banton.

8 At university he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.

9 Referred to a woman Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

10 He was accused of assaulting a woman at University, and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.

11 Another woman accuses him of throwing punches at her. And hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others corroborate her story.

12 He threatened to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a woman’s right to an abortion.

13 In 1978 a young teacher by the name of Peter Woof bought assault charges against Abbott. Abbott had punched him in the face. The charges never went anywhere. Abbott was represented by a legal team of six and the young man could not afford to defend himself.

14 And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match.

15 He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.

16 He was ejected from the House of reps once in obscure circumstances. Hansard is unclear why, but it is alleged that he physically threatened Graham Edwards. Edwards lost both his legs in Vietnam.

17 In the year 2000 he was ejected from the House along with six others. Philip Coorey reports that he was headed toward the Labor back benches ready to thump a member who had heckled him.

18 Abused Nicola Roxon after turning up late for a debate.

19 Then there was the interview with Mark Riley where he had a brain fade that seemed like it would never end. I thought he was deciding between a right hook and a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying. After all, at the time this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister.

20 Together with Pyne he was seen running from the House of Reps to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

21 Being the first opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.

22 The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?

23 The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.

24 And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the catholic Cardinal George Pell.

25 During the Republic referendum he told many outrageous untruths.

26 His famous ‘Climate change is crap’ comment and later saying that he was speaking to an audience. This of course elicited the question; ‘Is that what you always do?’

27 His almost daily visits as opposition leader to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the carbon tax. None of which ever came to fruition. His blatant lying often repudiated by the management of the businesses. The most notable being the CEO of BHP and their decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam mine. Whole towns being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.

28 And of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so the next day.

29 Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal tent embassy at Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is to kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

30 He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.

31 And of course there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.

32 Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die.

I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh wait. Lest we forget.

33 We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden.

34 And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent.

35 His ‘dying of shame’ comment.

36 His ‘lack of experience in raising children’ comment.

37 His ‘make an honest women of herself’ comment.

38 His ‘no doesn’t mean no’ comment.

Then of course there were these Tonyisms. Similar ones have continued into his Prime Ministership.

Lest we forget.

39 ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia’.

40 ‘These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers’.

On rights at work:

41 ‘If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss’.

On women:

42 ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience’.

43 ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’.

44 ‘I  think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’.

45 ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’.

On Julia Gillard:

46 ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die’.

On climate change:

47 ‘Climate change is absolute crap’.

48 ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax’.

On homosexuality:

49 ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened’

50 ‘If you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things…’.

On Indigenous Australia:

51 ‘Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage’.

52 ‘Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…’.

53 ‘There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done’.

On Nicola Roxon:

54 ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?’

The list is by no means complete and I am sure readers could add many more to it. His ludicrous statement about our navy’s problems with navigation and blatantly lying about turning boats around as opposed to turning them back. Lest we forget.

His lying and nasty ill-founded comments continued unabated further empathising his unsuitability for the job. Take this for example:

When Tony Abbott said this what did you think?

‘You can vote Liberal or Labor and you’ll get exactly the same amount of funding for your school’.

‘There will be no change to school funding under the government I lead’.

Then he said the Coalition would deliver on its education election promises, not on what some people ‘thought’ it was going to do.

Now some time back Tony Abbott told us that the best way to understand the truth of what he was saying was to have it in writing. Otherwise what he was saying was just idle chatter for an audience.

So now I’m a little confused. 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 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.

I know what I thought and I know what I’m thinking now. Lying deceptive bastard. Lest we forget.

Another example:

When asked in parliament in February 2013 whether he stood by his statement of ‘no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS’ made the night before the election, Mr Abbott responded:

‘Of course I stand by all the commitments that this government made prior to the election. If there is one lesson that members opposite should have learnt from the experience of the previous term of parliament it is that you cannot say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.’

He was still saying the same thing some time later.

Convicted of lying by his own words I would have thought. And not a word of protest from the main stream media at the time.

Something truly remarkable had happened in Australian politics. The Australian Prime Minister who was as opposition leader a person devoid of character, was now attempting a personality conversion to rival nothing hitherto seen in an Australian leader. During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld. Lest we forget.

Then a few months into his term of office we were expected to believe that he had transformed into a mild-mannered, cultured man of some distinction. Walking the global stage as a gentleman with noble intent.

We were expected to put to one side the old Tony Abbott and embrace the new one with unbridled fondness. Lest we forget.

Well I am all for self-improvement. I like to think I have practiced it all my life. But in this instance I was not be conned with his nonsense.

David Marr’s quarterly essay “Political Animal” gave an engrossing even gripping insight into the persona of the then leader of the opposition leader. I made many observations as I read it and I cannot of course comment on everything. I must say though (given Tony Abbot’s statement that he finds gay’s intimidating) that I was a little bemused at how Marr even got to interview him. They apparently spent some time together which must have been excruciatingly uncomfortable for the then opposition leader. And given that Mr Abbott only allowed him to use just one quote I should think he probably wasted his time. Another thing that took my attention was the influence of Catholicism in his private and political decision-making. He apparently finds it difficult to make decisions without referral to his faith. Lest we forget.

Regardless of what political persuasion you are I believe we like to see character in our leaders. Now how do we describe character?

“Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of a presidential campaign, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.”

When looked at in isolation the lies and indiscretions of Tony Abbott, his problems with women and even his negativity could perhaps all be written off as just Tony being Tony. Or that’s just politics. However my focus here is on character and whether Mr Abbott had enough of it to be the leader of our nation. My contention is that because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behaviour over a long period of time he simply didn’t have the essence of character which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership. On the evidence the former Prime Minister fell a long way short.

Lest we forget.

It is however, it’s the area of truth that shows the worst aspects of his character. The future of this country is of vital importance. Given his performance of late he would do well to consider these words.

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. It was always easy to understand what Abbott said because he only ever spoke in slogans. The difficulty was always knowing what he means.

‘As he spoke I expected the very essence of truth but his words came from the beginning of a smirk, or was it just a sneer of deception.’

John Lord

If politics is fundamentally about ideas it is also about leadership. In this piece I have deliberately steered clear of policy argument in order to concentrate on character. On numerous occasions I have invited people on Facebook to list five attributes of Tony Abbott that warranted his election as Prime Minister of Australia. I have never received a reply. And when you look at the aforementioned list, is it any wonder. He is simply bereft of any character at all. He has been described as the mad monk and many other things but essentially he is a repugnant gutter politician of the worst kind.

My thought for the day.

‘It is better to be comforted with the truth than be controlled by lies.’

John Lord

Author’s note.

The phrase ‘lest we forget’ is generally used as a mark of respect for those who have died in war. It does however have other meanings. One of which is a warning against lying and the perils of self-pride, exaggeration and bad leadership that eventually leads to an inevitable decline in power. It is in that context that I use it.

Day to Day Politics: Random thoughts on many things.

Monday 29 February 2016

1 Tony Abbott said he wore his 2014 Budget like a ‘Badge of Honor’. Veteran economics journalist Ross Gittens put it this way at the time:

The first and biggest reason the government is having to modify or abandon so many of its measures is the budget’s blatant unfairness. In 40 years of budget-watching I’ve seen plenty of unfair budgets, but never one as bad as this’.

2 I do wish writers, even those on this blog would use the term ‘Abbott/Turnbull’ government.

3 And I do wish that writers would empathise the fact that the Abbott/Turnbull government has been in power for two and a half years.

4 Are the often outlandish statements from the likes of Cory Bernardi, George Christiansen and others about the Safe Schools programme just a forerunner of what we might expect in the plebiscite debate on marriage equality?

Some of what they are saying isn’t even in the programme.

This plebiscite might unearth, without quality leadership, some unwanted social disharmony.

Turnbull is only pursuing his expensive $160m plebiscite as a delaying tactic to satisfy the right of his party — extreme Liberals like Christensen. The fact is, if he were a strong leader, Turnbull would allow a free vote in the parliament on marriage equality next week.

5 I notice ‘The Fixer’ is saying that he is responsible for the defence policy announced last week.

6 Roy and The Fixer are helping police with their enquiries. Found this on Facebook. Can’t name the source.

‘My sources tell me the AFP is acting on a complaint made by the Federal Court that, at the least, Brough, in collusion with Ashby and Harmers Workplace Lawyers, set out to to subvert the court process.

How Harmers has gotten away with its patently false claims in the Originating Document beggars belief. They said they had a sworn, detailed affidavit of Slipper romping indecently with another male when they simply did not. It was total bullshit, but included the precise details of a lurid sick mind.’

7 How could George Pell possibly not have known about the child abuse happening all around him? Those who say there is some sort of vendetta against him are wrong. All they want is for him to tell the truth.

8 My reference to George Christianson and penis tucking yesterday seems to have gone over the heads of those who read my posts. George is indeed an obese man.

An observation.

It is the misinformed who shout the loudest. The rest of us are content with the truth we enquired about.

9 Thank goodness the latest series of ‘House of Cards’ commences Friday. Back to some reality at last.

10 To quote Paul Kelly: ‘Malcolm is starting to sound like Tony Abbott’.

11 There are some truly some excellent comments on my post yesterday. We are blessed to have some who make a virtue of responding.

12 Changes to Media Rules. This is how Fairfax puts it. Whatever the outcome Murdoch will be the big winner.

‘The reach rule currently prohibits television networks from broadcasting to more than 75 per cent of the population. The two out of three rule bans media proprietors from controlling a newspaper, television and radio station in the same market. Scrapping the two out of three rule is the more controversial change because of concerns about media diversity. Labor MPs are concerned about the change because it could allow a proprietor such as Rupert Murdoch to extend his control in major markets’.

13 Talking about Fairfax, if ever there was an illustration of how journalistic standards have slipped it has to be Paul Sheehan’s recent story ‘Louise’. It was just an unsubstantiated Islamophobia beat-up in an area in which he has substantial form. How he is still in a job is the bigger mystery.

14 John Howard says he shudders at the thought of Donald Trump becoming America’s next President:

‘In part, his success is emblematic of people’s frustration with political correctness. What people like is he seems to call it as it is’.

Does he mean that he agrees with the manner in which he conducts his public discourse?

15 The conservative objection to political correctness it seems to me is in large part sour grapes. I don’t see the right or the extreme right not having a voice or indeed the capacity to use it. What I hear is an incoherent voice that cannot get its point across.

16 Did you know that current wages growth at 2.2% is the lowest ever recorded?

17 Someone emailed this to me without leaving a name:

‘If the Catholic Church was a corporation, or a charity, it would be shut down and its assets sold off. All Catholics are now disenfranchised apologists for an organisation that has utterly betrayed their faith and the god they love. Pity the faithful. They don’t deserve the harm the men within the church have inflicted on them. A new reformation is needed. A revolution in thinking is required’.

18 The Prime Minister was out and about yesterday spruiking his scare campaign against Labor’s Negative Gearing policy. There was not a hint of the explaining he said he would do.

19 Sydney radio station 2GB is conducting a Poll on this question:

‘If you voted Liberal in the last election, who’s your preferred Prime Minister now?’ At 4pm yesterday the count was 96% for Abbott and 4% for Turnbull.

20 Donald Trump has the support of the KKK and Jean-Marie Le Pen. Only in America.

My thought for the day

‘There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Captain Turnbull batting on a sticky wicket.

Sunday 21 February 2016

Having replaced Abbott as captain of the Australian side Malcolm Turnbull finds himself on a sticky wicket. He promised much as the side’s new leader but on Friday, when commenting on the other side’s policy on negative gearing looked as though he had been hit ‘to leg’. In fact he talked decidedly like the previous captain. Maybe the protector he was using was too small or something, and it was affecting his concentration.

The other team looked as though they, given the advantage of batting first, have out played the incumbents with a solid opening partnership. They have runs on the board hitting opening bowler Gunna Morrison for six on a number of occasions.

He gave a few interviews after his opening spell but the consensus in the press box was that he was bowling without a plan. He wasn’t on a length and too many were going down leg side. Mind you all the sledging from opener Bowen after three consecutive sixes in the first over of the day didn’t help.

It ended with Turnbull having to bring himself on. He spent what seemed an eternity discussing what positions the new members of the team should field in. The other opener Bill Shorten complained to the umps about time-wasting, shouting ‘less talk and more action’. Turnbull responded by saying it takes time to get a plan right.

Wicketkeeper Pyne adjusted his box shouting, in indignation. ‘Don’t forget the Double Dissolution, Mal’. Shorten’s opening partner Albanese was heard to mumble that Pyne should be dropped or that he should at least get a manager because he has been handling himself too long.

The current state of play indicates a subtle but significant shift in how the game is being played. The Opposition captain is on the back foot firmly behind the ball, playing a flamboyant innings, prepared to have a go early. Turnbull doesn’t like it either when the yobbos in Bay 13 keep reminding him that his sides been out of form for the better part of two and a half years. And the government’s bowling has been off-line. If fact, its bowlers have been no-balled a few times for bowling wide of the crease.

I mean, when you’re bowling on a green top, why on earth would you bowl so much spin? Poor form, that.

At the close of play on the second day the Opposition has the Government by the short and curlies. For how long is anyone’s guess.

So let’s see if we can analyse the match thus far, remembering this is a five test series leading into September.

Despite  replacing many ageing, out of form players who had seemingly lost touch with the modern game ages ago, captain Turnbull seems determined to take the game back to the quaint days of W.C. Grace.

However, there’s talk that he might chance his arm and change the line-up for the next match. ‘Too many leaners and not enough lifters’, he was reminded. Of course, the Murdoch press is playing ball supporting the Captain despite a longing for the previous captain’s deleterious leadership style.

On the other hand, social media has stumped a few batters by chucking a lot of fast positive commentary at a government deemed to be under-performing. This bloody underarm stuff is “simply unbecoming” said the editor of The AIMN.

One spectator on the square leg boundary was heard to say to Dutton, whose head was not taking kindly to the sun. ‘When will you recognise that it’s time to concentrate on the finer points of the game and consider traditional fair play?’ Even the umpires have chatted to him about his ball tampering.

The fact is, the Government has been caught behind and need to play ball with the umpiring public. At the rate Turnbull is scoring he is unlikely to captain the side in the next test, and there is talk about the composition of the team including some new arrivals.

Some are saying that Joyce should be dropped on the grounds that the vice captaincy requires a degree of fitness for the position. He always appears out of breath.

Another on the back foot, as it were, is Cormann, who it is said is always short of a length and is finding it difficult to run between the wickets. Too many cigars while waiting to bat must be detrimental to one’s health. He always seems to be full of puff.

Dutton was well out of his crease batting at third drop and stumped several times when he wouldn’t give an undertaking that his team would play by the rules, instead opting to never allow juniors a chance to play on his turf.

Meanwhile the rich and privileged in the members pavilion could be seen clapping his every shot. It’s fair to say that the Government has been creamed on every economic announcement by the opposition. Gunna Morrison looked like he was acting as a reluctant runner for the injured opener. It’s a pity they couldn’t have used the 12th man. He is known to be up to speed on economics.

Well, they did get rid of the Carbon Tax but the entire team still seems to be confused by the difference between weather and climate which doesn’t go well for the quality of future pitches.

You might say the spectators have been hit for six on this one. Maybe it’s time to bring on the quicks. A bit of bodyline or Direct Action of the right sort, that’s what’s needed.

After bowling a few maiden overs there can be no doubt Turnbull has copped one in the box over his inability to get his side moving. The protector needs something like speedos to keep it in place otherwise everything hangs loose.

It’s been a balls-up all round and the Turnbull has been no balled four times during the current over while trying to get his point across. He reckons its all the talk from the batsmen that affecting his concentration. He’s asked the umpire to stop everyone talking saying there’s too much of it.

Fact is, the lack of policy has been comprehensively hit to square leg and team mascot Wyatt Roy was seen chasing after it with a view to retrieving it because he’s not guaranteed of a second knock.

Leader Turnbull nicked one to slips over the latest job figures. Reminds me of something Merve Hugh’s said to a spectator at fine leg at the G after dropping a catch; ‘Fkn hopeless’. It seems that because of budgetary constraints he will be powerless to give those unable to win a place on team Australia any assistance. Instead he wants them all to field in slips and repeat the word plebiscite while waiting. If they drop one he can blame it on Labor for bowling too many short pitched deliveries.

Turnbull’s team are appallingly bad sports. Hypocrisy abounds. It’s a pity the opposition can’t appeal to the third umpire. Once upon a time it was a gentleman’s game and we played by traditional rules, but captain Turnbull seems to have let it all roll into the gutter. He has replaced everything our beloved game stands for with Lillee white lies. All the video replays confirm it. When a captain says something he should stick with it.

I think for the last six months he has just been batting with the breeze or must have been hit with a bouncer while not wearing a helmet. Concussion set in and when he recovered he realised that there are real known facts in the world and that one’s word does matter.

When I found out about all the lies, any respect I had for the new captain of Team Australia went to the boundry. My God, I felt like I had just copped one in the nuts from Malcolm Marshall I was so distressed. Bloody hypocrite. No wonder, a captain who bats at 10 isn’t a cricketer’s arsehole. No wonder he’s on a pair.

Then during the lunch break he was complaining about the cost of living (or was it lifestyle?) pressures on the players and spruiked that it was perfectly OK to receive expenses even if they were given to the spouses. Nothing worse than a bloody all-rounder who can only bowl arm balls.

Then after lunch he brings  on his slowest bowler Greg Hunt to bowl ‘Chinaman’ deliveries. In a recorded interview before play he was quoted as saying that he was stumped as to why the game had never appealed to environmentalists.

Goodness knows he is good at bowling spin on sticky wickets. Hunt was on a hat-trick but the umpire dismissed his third appeal on the basis of an obstructed view – something to do with an indirect action.

Anyway, at the close of play Turnbull’s team Australia has shown little desire to get on with the game. He gives the impression he would rather be sipping a Merlot in the members. The team treasurer is still saying the team budget will be presented in May. They just needed to talk more about it.

After a long drawn out final session, the captain of team Australia looks intent on a draw of sorts. He doesn’t seem to have the spectators on side. His captaincy shows little of the innovation, transparency and flamboyancy he promised. In fact the team is in disarray, the pitch is deteriorating, and he shows little inclination to arrest his and his teams appalling governance of the game. Some say his vision is effecting his batting.

At the after play drinks one player in the opposition was heard to say: ‘That bloody Turnbull must have been born with two dicks. He couldn’t be that stupid playing with one.’

Anyway, who’s for a game of backyard cricket? Pitches will be going cheap according to the man with it all.

My thought for the day.

‘It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others.’

 

Day to Day Politics: All they do is tell lies.

Monday 15 February 2016

It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.’ (Tony Abbott).

Undoubtedly in this election year the issue of truth will emerge. It always does. We the voters are often left to decide who is and who is not telling the truth. Or who is telling more or less of it. So what is a lie?

We know that a lie has three essential ingredients; it communicates some information. The liar intends to deceive or mislead. The liar believes that what they are ‘saying’ is not true. And we call people who use these three principles blatant liars.

When the then leader of the opposition Tony Abbott said in July 2012 ‘The tragedy of this toxic tax is that it will not actually reduce emissions’ and six months later they fall by 8.6% did he actually tell a lie? One could well argue that he had no facts on which to base his assumptive statement, so it could not be construed as a lie. It might be just an opinion. The same could be said about his infamous statements about towns being wiped of the map and many others. However, if in politics we believe that lies or statements are made either to deceive or manipulate, (and has the three principles mentioned previously) then you would conclude that he was telling porkies.

‘When it comes to controlling human beings there is no better instrument than lies. Because, you see, humans live by beliefs. And beliefs can be manipulated. The power to manipulate beliefs is the only thing that counts.’ (Michael Ende, The Neverending Story).

If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.’ (Adolf Hitler).

Conversely, when former Prime Minister Julia Gillard said ‘I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism, I rule out a carbon tax.’ Did she actually tell a lie? Clearly she showed an intent to keep her options open. She was not trying to deceive. She was being honest within the uncertainty of the circumstances.

I have always felt that when politicians have in their procession certain knowledge and facts and fail to disclose it then they are guilty of lying by omission. When you withhold information you are denying the other person’s right to the truth. An example of this was when John Howard found out that the children overboard incident was false and withheld the information for two days prior to the 2001 election. It was in fact lying by omission. And of course there is the weapons of mass destruction lie. Did John Howard ever check the facts? If not he perpetuated one of the greatest lies in history.

But of course the greatest lie ever perpetuated by an Australian Politician belongs to Sir Robert Menzies.

Those with long memories will recall that Sir Robert Menzies said that he had received, in the form of a letter, an official invitation from the South Vietnam government to participate in the war against the communist North. When the cabinet papers were released thirty years later it was disclosed that no such letter existed. Australian men lost their lives in a war that Menzies said was in our best interests.

On a more personal level there are what we call white lies where we deliberately colour what we say in shades of hue to protect the feelings of others or ourselves, or to avoid argument.

Clinton lied. A man might forget where he parks or where he lives, but he never forgets oral sex, no matter how bad it is.’ (Barbara Bush).

Consider the case where telling a lie would mean that 10 other lies would not be told. If 10 lies are worse than 1 lie then it would seem to be a good thing to tell the first lie, but if lying is always wrong then it’s wrong to tell the first lie …

When politicians lie over a long period of time. It only serves to denigrate the liar, and show contempt for the voter’s intelligence. Especially if the lies are chronic and systemic. The current use of the term ‘no direct knowledge’ is a lie within a lie pretending to absolve a person who is fully conversant with the facts.’

Oh, what a tangled web we weave … when first we practice to deceive.’ (Walter Scott, Marmion).

Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we carry out (one researcher has said ‘lying is an unavoidable part of human nature’), so it’s worth spending time thinking about it.

Why is lying wrong?

There are many reasons why people think lying is wrong; which ones resonate best with you will depend on the way you think about ethics.

Lying is bad because a generally truthful world is a good thing: lying diminishes trust between human beings: if people generally didn’t tell the truth, life would become very difficult, as nobody could be trusted and nothing you heard or read could be trusted – you would have to find everything out for yourself and an untrusting world is also bad for liars – lying isn’t much use if everyone is doing it.

Who are the biggest liars? The left or the Right of Politics?

Some might say I am being biased here but I am struggling to remember lies from the left of the frequency and nefarious intent that Tony Abbott told.

Others might say that Bill McMahon was. Even his own party detested him for it.

And remember, it was a Senator from his own side who called John Howard ‘the lying rodent’.

But for mine Tony Abbott is demonstrably by his own words the greatest liar ever to have walked the corridors of Parliament House.

Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it’. (John Lord).

In the last US election Republicans Romney and Ryan took lying to an unprecedented level. Fact finders alerted the public to 2019 lies by Romney alone. It is my contention that President Obama lost the first debate not because he was off his game, or that he was unprepared but rather he was taken by surprise by the wilful lies that Romney was telling. The same fascination for untruth by conservatives has been exported to Australia.

In my view Australians face the most important election in living memory. Liberalism no longer exists so what we are facing is a political decision between a very sharp turn to the scary right. Or a party (in spite of its faults) that has the common good at the centre of its ideology.

Let the independent fact finders emerge in all their glory. And the sooner the better.

My thought for the day

‘Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie .I can only conclude that there might often be pain in truth but there is no harm in it’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Forces that drove Tony Abbott to stay in parliament

Thursday 28 January 2016

I don’t normally read The Australian newspaper because it’s behind a firewall and it’s owned by Murdoch. But mainly because of its bias and poor journalism. Here is an example. My comments are in italics.

Greg Sheridan THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 26, 2016

Tony Abbott agonised over whether to stay in parliament or to leave. He got a lot of conflicting advice. The case for leaving was substantial.

No politician in modern Australia, at least since Malcolm Fraser in 1975, has been subjected to such sustained, vitriolic and personalised abuse as Abbott.

When you look at the abuse handed out by Tony Abbott. Alan Jones, Andrew Bolt and others to Prime Minister Julia Gillard during her tenure you have to wonder at the objectivity of such a statement. There was hardly a day in the Parliament in which Abbott didn’t label her a liar. Even members of his own party, at times shook their heads in shame at the sexism. Anyone with any sense of perspective would find this statement just so totality biased as to be deliberately misleading.

Reference 1

Reference 2

Reference 3

Reference 4

If he left politics, this would subside. The former prime minister is a strong and resilient person, but this kind of abuse takes its toll not only on the person ­directly affected but also on their family. It is also the case that the sooner he left, the sooner it was likely his record of substantial, perhaps historic, achievement would be reassessed.

Could you please repeat that? I’m really struggling.

No other prime minister could have stopped the boats.

The catalyst in stopping the boats was Kevin Rudd’s deal with Papua New Guinea. And we know the boats didn’t completely stop. He was paying people smugglers to turn them back.

The Abbott prime ministership prevented Australia from being engulfed in a tidal wave of uncontrolled, illegal immigration, as Europe has seen.

He was a Prime Minister who demonised those legally seeking asylum. A Prime Minister who tossed the subject around like a political football extracting from it every ounce of political mileage, never once seeking a regional solution .And look at his legacy of allowing innocent people to be incarcerated for the rest of their lives without recourse to the law.

Then there were the free-trade agreements, the abolition of the carbon and mining taxes, the attempt to address the growing budget contradiction.

The abolition of the Carbon Tax is looked on by the rest of the world as a dreadful decision. One that left our nation in the embarrassing position of taking a laughable policy to the Paris talks. A policy that will have to be seriously reconsidered in the near future if we are to seriously address the climate issue.

Addressing the budget contradiction. So his answer was to almost double the debt. A strange way of addressing a problem he described as a debt crisis of monumental proportion.

All of this will be reassessed and revalued more quickly if ­Abbott is outside parliament. Moreover, while he stays in politics almost everything he says will be misinterpreted by a lazy media through a leadership prism.

Yes they might, in the same way The Australian hounded Julia Gillard. You can speculate as much as you want as to the motives of him staying. May I suggest though, that a good place to start might be his historical political behaviour? It makes for good profiling.

In some measure, the same problem afflicts Malcolm Turnbull. Everything he says is freighted by foolish commentators as somehow containing some secret anti-Abbott significance.

Lenore Taylor got it right when she said:

‘The public liked Turnbull because he seemed different to Abbott, but his colleagues voted for him because they were eventually persuaded he would be – in essence – pretty much the same’.

Then there were the purely personal considerations. First, the miserable prospect of sitting mute as a backbencher in Canberra. Also, political life affects family life. It is extraordinarily difficult to be an attentive husband and father with weeks away in Canberra, and more weeks away interstate and overseas in the constant travel of political leadership.

It is something they have lived with all their married life. He is after all a career politician who has had little experience outside it. His wife seemed to accept her position. Except for one daughter they have all moved on. If sitting on the backbench was indeed a miserable prospect then why do it. What other motive could he possibly have?

Abbott had been prime minister for two years, party leader for six and before that a minister for a decade. It’s a long record of service. No one could reasonably ask him for more.

Who is? The fact is that he lost his job because his party felt he wasn’t up to it.

And, if he had the slightest interest in making money he would make much more outside of parliament than in. His parliamentary pension as a former prime minister would be substantially more than his salary as a backbencher.

On top of that he would be free to earn money in the private sector. He has enough close supporters in business to guarantee a board appointment or two. He could give lucrative speeches on the US conservative speakers’ circuit. He could write newspaper columns, the odd book, perhaps do some TV. There is always a consultancy or two on offer.

I seem to recall that he took time off from his job as an MP (with pay) to write a book. And isn’t he now making a few quid on the speaker’s circuit now. This gets worse the more I read.

 But Abbott has never been motivated by money. He always wanted to give his family a decent life, but had no interest in trying to pile up money.

This is downright dishonest.

Reference 1

Reference 2

We know that this feeling is universal, because it’s exactly how Tony Abbott felt, after losing 40 per cent of his income in 2007 when the Howard government lost power and he went back to a basic backbench salary.

“What’s it called? Mortgage stress? The advent of the Rudd Government has caused serious mortgage stress for a section of the Australian community, i.e. former Howard government ministers!” he said at the time.

“You don’t just lose power … you certainly lose income as well, and if you are reliant on your parliamentary salary for your daily living, obviously it makes a big difference.”

Mr Abbott was notoriously knocked-around by his change of circumstance, which obliged him to take out a $700,000 mortgage on his northern beaches home, and fostered a period of gloom and introspection in which he remained mired for more than a year.

When Kevin Rudd announced a salary freeze for all politicians in early 2008 – a decision greeted with bipartisan loathing around the corridors – Mr Abbott remarked that it was “all very well for politicians who have other sources of income or who have very high income from their spouses”.

Mr Abbott’s spouse, of course, works in the child care sector, which is notoriously under … oh, stop me if I’m repeating myself.

He was not the only one to complain; quite a few former Howard ministers felt the sting of their reduced circumstances, and discreet approaches were even made to the new Labor Government to fiddle things so that shadow ministers might be paid more.

It never happened, of course. Governments are bastards like that, don’t you find?

The arguments for staying essentially boiled down to duty. His supporters had invested so much hope in him.

If he left, it was as if conservatives would be admitting that none of their number could ever serve in the highest office. It would be a great victory for the Left if their lynch mobs had chased him out of town. As a nation we are not blessed with a super abundance of politicians of the first rank. We can’t afford to lightly throw them away.

If Abbott stayed in politics, he would signal an intent to advocate the broad political values that have motivated him all his life. And, in the long run, he helps the government a great deal by staying.

By staying, indeed he would advocate the political values he aspires to. The problem is that they are not the same as the leaders. Therein lays the problem. The Coalition now has what the public wanted. A less feral leader but he is controlled by Abbott’s men.

You might also countenance the thought that he has little experience at doing anything else.

Turnbull went through a dark night of the soul when he lost the leadership of the Liberal Party in 2009. He initially decided to leave politics and resign at the next federal election, but then changed his mind. As the next few years rolled by, his presence was actually a very big plus for the then Abbott opposition.

Correct. He often had to step in and demonstrate that there were some in the party that could be reasonable when Abbot continuously showed his ugly side.

It showed voters of a ‘small l’ liberal persuasion that they had a place in the Liberal Party. It helped stop the party from leaking votes to the centre.

How gratuitously silly is that statement. Robert Menzies would turn in his grave at the thought that any of today’s Liberal members even understood the term.

The Liberal Party has no serious competitor on the right of politics at the moment and therefore no imminent prospect of leaking votes to the Right.

But the centre right is always in danger of fracturing, just as it has in most Western nations, just as we see so many effluxions of right-wing populism in Queensland.

A coalition that can accommodate a Tony Abbott as well as a Malcolm Turnbull is inherently much stronger, and seems much broader than either factional Labor or sectarian Green politics, no matter that each man might find such coexistence disagreeable at times.

He is and will be in the run up to the election a thorn in Turnbull’s side. And an intentional thorn at that. It is naïve in the extreme to think otherwise.

Turnbull and Abbott are both grown-ups, both volunteers. We pay them to give us good government. We expect them to manage things between them well.

We pay for good Government and expect it from day one. Tony Abbott said that we would get it 12 months after the ball had been bounced. Even then it didn’t happen. We are still waiting for Turnbull to stop talking about it and start delivering. By the time the election comes around the electorate will be entitled to ask whether the Coalition can ever deliver on it.

Abbott is no Kevin Rudd. He is not motivated by revenge or any delusion of return to the prime ministership. His decision to stay in parliament is the latest episode in a lifetime of doing what he thinks is right.

After reading this last paragraph I am thinking I will give Tony the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it isn’t him who is deluded. It’s Bill Sheridan.

My thought for the day

‘Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity’.

 

Day to Day Politics. A final thought.

John LordThere are many words that I could add to those I have already written in 2015. But it is time for a rest. Australia takes its annual lengthy leave at this time, creating its own form of hiatus, and all manner of things become forgotten, put away for the heat of summer whilst play takes precedence over important matters.

Undoubtedly the highlight of the year was when the country gave a collective sigh of relief at the dismissal of Tony Abbott.

Words being precious things can easily be wasted on past unpleasantness so I won’t waste anymore on his time as Prime Minister. I feel exhausted by his incompetence, his ignorance and sense of entitlement.

I had planned to continue writing for a little longer but It is now time to put Day to Day Politics to rest. At this stage I am unsure if I will continue next year. This month I have been posting my thoughts on Facebook and THE AIMN (well over 250 pieces) for three years. I am still not used to the feral nature of some and the grammatical criticism of others.

A thought.

‘Good grammar is vitality important but is secondary to the expression of a valid well constructed point of view’.

Thanks everyone for your likes, your shares, your encouragement and your opinions, be they agreeable or contrary. We have so much to learn from people we disagree with that its a wonder we don’t do it more often.

Whatever your faith or lack there of have a joyful holiday season and above all seek a positive 2016. Take from it the best it has to offer. They are not repeated.

              MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

‘One of the downsides of technology and social media is that it has enabled the nutters’.

 

Day to Day Politics. Abbott’s gone: ‘Lest we forget’

Tuesday December 8

1 All this silly talk about Abbott staying on with the view to regaining the leadership should stop.

He lost the leadership of the nation for one very good reason. He had not the ‘character’ that leadership requires.

Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics, but unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven

Trying to convert a lifetime of negativity into motivating inspirational leadership was a bridge to far. To say the least he was totality uninspiring. In fact I can think of no other person in Australian public life who has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott.

None of these events are in chronological order. They are just as they came to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.

1 When the President of the US visited he broke long-standing conventions by politicising his speech as opposition leader.

2 He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

3 He did the same when the Queen visited.

4 He could not help but play politics with the death of an Australian icon in Margaret Whitlam.

5 He would not allow pairs (another long standing convention) so that the minister for the arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Another Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personnel friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.

6 He refused a pair whilst the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

7 Then there were the callous and inappropriate remarks he made to Bernie Banton.

8 At university he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.

9 Referred to a woman Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

10 He was accused of assaulting a woman at University, and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.

11 Another woman accuses him of throwing punches at her. And hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others corroborate her story.

12 He threatened to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a woman’s right to an abortion.

13 In 1978 a young teacher by the name of Peter Woof bought assault charges against Abbott. Abbott had punched him in the face. The charges never went anywhere. Abbott was represented by a legal team of six and the young man could not afford to defend himself.

14 And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match.

15 He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.

16 He was ejected from the House of reps once in obscure circumstances. Hansard is unclear why, but it is alleged that he physically threatened Graham Edwards. Edwards lost both his legs in Vietnam.

17 In 2000 he was ejected from the House along with six others. Philip Coorey reports that he was headed toward the Labor back benches ready to thump a member who had heckled him.

18 Abused Nicola Roxon after turning up late for a debate.

19 Then there was the interview with Mark Riley where he had a brain fade that seemed like it would never end. I thought he was deciding between a right hook and a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying . After all, at the time this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister.

20 Together with Pyne he was seen running from the House of Reps to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

21 Being the first opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.

22 The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?

23 The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.

24 And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the catholic Cardinal George Pell.

25 During the Republic referendum he told many outrageous untruths.

26 His famous “Climate change is crap” comment and later saying that he was speaking to an audience. This of course elicited the question; “Is that what you always do?”

27 His almost daily visits as opposition leader to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the carbon tax. None of which have come to fruition. His blatant lying often repudiated by the management of the businesses. The most notable being the CEO of BHP and their decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam mine. Whole towns being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.

28 And of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so the next day.

29 Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal tent embassy at Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

30 He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.

31 And of course there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.

32 Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die.

I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh wait. Lest we forget.

33 We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden.

34 And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent.

35 His “dying of shame” comment.

36 His “lack of experience in raising children” comment.

37 His “make an honest women of herself” comment.

38 His “no doesn’t mean no” comment.

Then of course there were these Tonyisms. Similar ones have continued into his Prime Ministership.

Lest we forget.

39 ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia’.

40 ‘These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers’.

On rights at work:

41 ‘If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss’.

On women:

42 ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience’.

43 ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’.

44 ‘I  think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’.

45 ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’.

On Julia Gillard:

46 ‘Gillard won’t lie down and die’.

On climate change:

47 ‘Climate change is absolute crap’.

48 ‘If you want to put a price on carbon why not just do it with a simple tax’.

On homosexuality:

49 ‘I’d probably … I feel a bit threatened’

50 ‘If you’d asked me for advice I would have said to have – adopt a sort of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy about all of these things…’.

On Indigenous Australia:

51 ‘Now, I know that there are some Aboriginal people who aren’t happy with Australia Day. For them it remains Invasion Day. I think a better view is the view of Noel Pearson, who has said that Aboriginal people have much to celebrate in this country’s British Heritage’.

52 ‘Western civilisation came to this country in 1788 and I’m proud of that…’.

53 ‘There may not be a great job for them but whatever there is, they just have to do it, and if it’s picking up rubbish around the community, it just has to be done’.

On Nicola Roxon:

54 ‘That’s bullshit. You’re being deliberately unpleasant. I suppose you can’t help yourself, can you?’

The list is by no means complete and I am sure readers could add many more to it. His ludicrous statement about our navy’s problems with navigation and blatantly lying about turning boats around as opposed to turning them back. Lest we forget.

2 The news that Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union organiser John Lomax and his right hand man are to be charged with blackmail will have a negative effect on Bill Shorten and the Labor Party. Whilst I generally support unionism, I cannot support rogue ones such as the CFMEU. Why Labor does is totality beyond me.

In an effort to offset the damage Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has unveiled his party’s policy on combating union corruption, a package of measures he says will improve governance and transparency.

3 The Prime Minister has released his innovation statement. In doing so he has reinstated science to its rightful position. One that Abbott had devalued for reasons of capitalistic advantage. It is to be hoped that the country might now see a new era where political parties see the value of thoughtful progressive thinking. One where innovation might also be applied to the new economy and renewable energy.

Labor had already announced much of Turnbull’s policy but incumbency gives government ten times the coverage.

4 Warren Truss has asserted the National party’s demand for a greater share of cabinet positions as the deputy prime minister pushed back at criticism of his secret talks with Liberal defector Ian Macfarlane.

The leader of the junior Coalition partner addressed the media alongside Macfarlane in Queensland on Monday and stressed the need for Turnbull to deal with the cabinet proportion issue “in due course”.

It seems they are determined to make their leader look weak. No love lost there.

An observation

‘The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on the young to become involved’.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

“It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who don’t”.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 26 September

1 It seems to me that the coverage thus far from the MSM of Turnbull’s challenge to Abbott and his subsequent elevation to the Prime Ministership is that of an election rather than a change of leader. I say this because it is reminiscent of a honeymoon period. In essence nothing has changed other than the leadership. The policies are the same and one has to wonder what all the fuss was about other that a government divesting itself of a dreadful leader.

2 Malcolm Turnbull was honest enough to admit that of course politicians follow ‘the polls’ but decidedly they can only ever be a snapshot into how people are currently thinking. They cannot possibly say how people will vote a year out from an election. And of course each poll uses different methodology to arrive at a result. The only fair way to look at them is by adding them all together and getting a mean average. There have now been five polls since Turnbull’s rise to power. The mean average is 51.5 to the Coalition and 48.5 to Labor but it is distorted by a rogue Morgan poll that supported a 23% turnaround to the Coalition.

Sunday 27 September

climate 11 Turnbull’s hypocrisy on Climate Change has been further emphasized by China’s decision to have a carbon Cap and Trade scheme by 2017. For those of the extreme right of his party to have such control of its leader on on this issue must be as embarrassing for him as it is for the nation. And it reinforces just how stupid Abbott’s repeal of the carbon tax was.

2 I have always felt that the possibility of having a person of the intellect of Barnaby Joyce as Deputy Prime Minister unimaginable. Yet if he leads the Nationals at the next election and the Coalition wins, that’s what will happen. Currently he is becoming anxious about taking the leadership from the ageing Truss. Barnaby’s petrified that if it doesn’t happen this year, he may never be leader. I’m petrified that he might.

3 Never thought I would agree with Tony Abbott but he is correct. “Border protection policy the same, national security policy the same, economic policy the same, even same-sex marriage policy the same, and climate change policy the same. In fact, the rhetoric is the same.” It’s just that the message is being delivered with less ugliness.

4 Tony Abbott in all his years as LOTO never ever sought a humane policy on Asylum Seekers. He opposed every attempt to do so. And it is highly debatable that any decision by him actually stopped the boats. It is more likely that Rudd’s decision to do a deal with Papua New Guinea did. I would be totally ashamed to claim that I “Stopped the Boats” as part of my legacy as Prime Minister.

5 According to Miranda Divine

md“Abbott was like the soldier on D-Day who threw himself on barbed wire so others could go over the top. He did the dirty work that Turnbull never would have been willing to do. History will be kind to him”.

In making that statement she confirmed everyone’s opinion that beyond any shadow of a doubt she is Australia’s worst journalist. Dispute it if you will.

Monday 28 September

1 A friend yesterday reminded me of just how overtly religious the Abbott Government was. It is clear that Abbott and many of his ministers couched their dialogue with the Australian people in a language of conservative Christianity that sat at dramatic odds even with mainstream Christians.

It also sat uncomfortably with the Australian constitution, which states unambiguously that this nation enjoys a secular system of government. There is no official or state religion. Religious affiliation does not affect one’s status for better or worse.

Abbott’s taunting of Muslims, his offensive Holocaust references, weren’t calculated insults – they were the verbal tics of a blinkered schoolyard zealot.

Religion itself can only flourish in a secular environment.

2 How shameful that the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Canada’s Francois Crepeau has postponed a planned visit to Australia because the federal government cannot guarantee legal immunity to detention center workers who discuss asylum seekers and migrants. Having 1500 people in jails (that’s what they are) without committing a crime and a life sentence to boot is a national disgrace and our Prime Minister needs to do something about it.

3 On the other hand it seems the UN has, now that Abbott is off the scene, opened its diplomatic doors to Australia. Just goes to show how bad his reputation in international diplomacy was.

4 George Brandis on Insiders was heard to say that “Greg Hunt was the Climate Change intellectual of the parliament”. Our dog started barking at the screen for some reason.

5 I don’t suppose any country wants to be lectured about its faults and its lack of attention to them but the Pope certainly gave the USA a decent serve. Republicans however were secretly seething at the audacity of the man to suggest they had an inequality problem. Among many others.

Tuesday 29 September

1 I have just caught up with Andrew Bolt’s gushingly sick love fest for the former PM. What a terrible piece of nonobjective journalism. In the main he blames Abbott’s demise not on his inability to do the job (he hasn’t got a better friend in the entire world) but on those in the media he regards as left wing. His character assessment of Abbott is so emotionally effusive that it lends itself to being a ‘bit sus’ as Australians are apt to say. It’s rather strange that when the right wing media was giving Julia Gillard a big serve, Bolt not only supported it. He was one of the cheerleaders.

2 Malcolm Turnbull has decided to divest himself of the services of Abbott’s business adviser Maurice Newman. I wonder if the fact that he was a climate denier had anything to do with it.

3 It seems that Joe Hockey might be reconsidering going to Washington as Australia’s next ambassador now that New York Major Bowser has signed a deal with a wind power company to supply 35% of the cities power needs by 2032. Remember Joe thought they were a blight on the landscape, too expensive and utterly offensive. And the reason they are doing it is that it is a cheaper source of energy than fossil fuels.

4 The big tip going around is that the Prime Minister will give Rupert Murdoch more power by Christmas. The have a mutual understanding of what that power can do.

5 Why is it that when a topic of national importance raises its head interested parties immediately take opposite corners. I would have thought that Medical tests and Procedures would be open to constant, if not periodical review. Given the cost of National Health, both now and in the future, a more bi partisan approach is warranted. In my experience there does exist what I describe as a ”referral merry go round”.

6 Excellent article on Climate Change by Kaye Lee at THE AIMN.

7 Barnaby Joyce on Q&A last night gave an abysmal defence of Direct Action on Climate Change.

Wednesday 30 September

1 Barnaby Joyce using the depth of his life experience and intellect had this to say on Q&A Monday. The discussion was on domestic violence.

“Ultimately it’s a cultural change and we’ve all got to be a part of that. This may seem a bit quaint … but I think we’ve got to start changing our attitude all the time in how we deal with women. Like, don’t swear in front of them. It’s not politically incorrect to open a door. All these things so we can change the attitude so we can show that we respect people.”

It rather reminded me of my experience in Myers some years ago.

”Some years ago, I was in Myers (A department store) and I held open a door for a young woman who was obviously in a hurry. OH, she said: “You didn’t have to open the door because I’m a woman”. “Well I didn’t” said I. “I opened it because I’m a gentleman”.

2 Be it not for me to tell the Treasurer how to do his job but when spending is 25.9 per cent of GDP, and revenue is 24 per cent yes we do have a revenue problem. If blind Freddie can see it why can’t Scott.

3 Suggesting he would have won the next election only reinforces the view that Abbott didn’t have the judgment and character to be PM. Senate Cross Bencher Bob Day disagrees with me saying that MPs should “honour” the former prime minister by talking up his legacy. He reckons Tony is in the top pantheon of great liberal leaders. I reckon he needs a manager. He’s been handling himself too long.

And he said he wouldn’t snipe yet Tony Abbott is striving to prove that his ousting was pointless. He argued that you could be unpopular while still leading “a very effective political operation”, clearly not having realised that this was precisely what he had not led for at least the past 18 months.

4 Barry Humphries decries ABC left turn Australia’s greatest comedic export, Barry Humphries, says the ABC has become an extreme left-wing broadcaster and the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was correct to criticise it. “The ABC has become increasingly left wing. Blatantly so”.

And half way through the article you realise that it is an advertorial for The Australian. She’s changed that lass from Moonee Ponds.

5 Tuesday’s Essential Poll has the Coalition leading Labor 52/49. Same policies, different leader. So the electorate likes the policies???

Thursday 1 October

1 The tax breaks on super are costing the government in foregone revenue about $45 billion a year and this is roughly the same amount that is spent each year on the age pension.

The dollar value of the tax breaks is growing faster than expenditure on the aged pension, making concessions on super contributions a much bigger threat to balancing government finances in the near-term.

The super tax concessions are skewed to high-income earners: the top 10 per cent of income earners reap more than 36 per cent of the tax concession dollars, while the bottom 10 per cent are actually penalised for making super contributions

2 Quoting Eric Abeitz: “It is understandable that with the removal of Tony Abbott, Kevin Andrews and myself from the ministry that our core constituency feels disenfranchised”.

I know politicians have egos, but really.

3 At most, just over a quarter of fossil-fuel reserves can be used if warming is to be limited to 2° above pre-industrial levels, according to United Nations scientists. So that makes investment in coal uneconomical.

4 Remember the Conservative reaction when Rudd sought a seat on the UN Security Council? They were outraged. Well hypocrisy knows no bounds. Now the Turnbull Government is seeking to do the same.

Friday 2 October

1 Rather than leave quietly without sniping etc (mind you it’s not in his nature) Tony Abbott is willing to talk to anyone prepared to listen. I think he will be around for a while yet. He’s not the forgiving type.

2 The new PM is certainly starting to distance himself from his predecessor. The move to scrap $100,000 University Fees is a good start. No wonder the fixer was moved on.

3 TIMELESS CAPITALISM

I few months back I was reading an autobiography titled “My Song” by the entertainer Harry Belafonte. As a teenager I was a huge fan of his music. In later years I read of his work as an activist with the civil rights movement and that is the reason I purchased the ebook. The book was insightful for many reasons. I am impressed with how the big names of show business both black and white put themselves forward ( often at risk to their careers ) to help the cause of social justice. The writer also is unafraid to reveal his own inadequacies which is often a failure with many autobiographies. Lastly I found Belafonte’s capacity to maintain his career whilst working for the movement quite extraordinary.

That aside the reason for this short rant is that on page 234 I found this exchange between Belafonte and Martin Luther King Jnr.

“The trouble “Martin went on” is that we live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an even flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are are doomed to be poor at some level”.

I place the year at about 1960 and leave you to drawer your own conclusions.

Midday Thoughts

This small sample of headlines from online mainstream news outlets illustrates the new paradigm in Australian politics. Malcolm Turnbull has brought with him a different way of doing politics. Gone are Abbott’s repetitive sentences and slogans. His daily door stops surrounded by flags and acolytes mouthing silent agreement. Gone is his angry l demeanor and nastiness of speech.

It has been replaced with reasoned consultative diplomacy. Something the Australian people have not only longed for but couldn’t understand why they couldn’t have it, and as a consequence deserted the political arena.

Now instead of “He who shouts the loudest wins” we have a debate on policies. Bill Shorten has no choice but to respond to with a similar disposition. Does this mean the cut and thrust of politics will leave us? Certainly not. It will just be more dignified.

Having seen so many Prime Ministers in the last few years the electorate will be in no hurry to change again. If Turnbull can show a balanced view on inequality, take away some of the tax rorts that the privileged enjoy and adequately explain the reasons for future spending and policy changes he will be difficult to displace. He remains vulnerable on Climate Change and the NBN. And of course, internally he still has many detractors. However we are back to policy debates rather than personal vindictiveness.

Unions and employers hail inclusive Malcolm Turnbull as national mood lifts”.

Turnbull makes tax breakthrough

PM’s bridge-building comes off

“Your Rights at Work’ won’t work against Turnbull”

 “PM to reset terror pitch to Muslims”

 “New Team Reveals Finesse”

“Turnbull Targets Waste”

“How Will New Team Handle Tax Reform”

“PM Treats reformers as adults”

the week that was

This is the week that was.

Finesse

 

The Right Wing Horror Story

Before, during and after the implosion of the Abbott government, commentators have blamed this political failure on a ‘lack of narrative’. The media’s narrative of this ‘lack of narrative’ is a story about a good government who has many great ideas, but just can’t sell them to the untrusting, fickle, inattentive electorate. As someone who is studying political narrative, I can assure you these commentators have got it all wrong. The Abbott government, and the right-wing political class including the right-wing media, have a very obvious narrative to those who know what they’re looking for. Their narrative clearly describes their policies. Their narrative has been consistent across many generations of right-wingers. The snake-oil-salesmen in the Liberal Party are coherently telling this story. The problem is not, therefore, a missing narrative. The problem for the government is that voters, in the majority, do not like the story they are trying to sell. Turnbull is now trying to polish the same story, covering it in glitter. But we all know turds can’t be polished, and under eye-catching-glitter they’re still stinky turds.

Perhaps rather than telling us the Abbott government lacked a narrative, journalists could have done a better job of scrutinising the Abbott government narrative. It would have been really helpful if this had happened BEFORE ABBOTT WAS ELECTED. Anyhow, just like one of those brain twister images where you think you’re looking at a black and white twirl, but when you squint you can see a monster staring back at you, once you see the right-wing narrative, you can’t un-see it. Once you know the story, you see it everywhere. It haunts you. The right-wing story is scary. In fact, I would go as far as saying it’s a horror story.

The right wing narrative can fittingly be summed up with the tag line of a BMW advertisement: Life is not a race… said those who lost. In this narrative, the hero are those who in their mind have won the race. The race to get wealthy. The race to inherit wealth. The race for power. The race to afford a BMW. The race to climb the ladder and the race to kick the ladder away so other racers can’t climb up behind. These people live their life by the concept of dog eat dog. They see themselves as heroes for eating a dog before it eats them. No matter how advantaged they are in the race before the starting gun goes off, these right-wingers always see their own success as something they have won through merit. Not luck. Not privilege. Just because they’re born winners. And they are therefore the heroes in their right-wing narrative. But they are also the victims. Because in their scary little minds, and their narrow little worlds, they think they’re being dragged down in their quest to win the race of life by their story’s villain. I think by now you can guess who the villain is. Yep, you’ve guessed it. The weak. The poor. The sick. The uneducated. The vulnerable. The ones who think life isn’t a race because they lost. And of course, left-wingers who want to help these ‘losers’ are also part of the problem. Right-wingers think they’re the victims of these do-gooder-lefties who believe everyone in a community has a responsibility to care for everyone else. So in a nutshell the story is about right-wing heroes defending their victimised selves against the villainous losers and the losers who want to help the losers who don’t realise life is a race and that right-wingers have won the race. Get it?

Now you see the story, you realise how worn out it is. The Abbott/Hockey budget told this story, with the winners nicknamed the ‘lifters’ and of course the losers the ‘leaners’. Abbott and his government colleagues all share the values in this story. Turnbull, a filthy rich merchant banker who believes in the power of a free market to ensure the heroes keep getting richer and aren’t made into victims by villainous governments and their un-free redistribution of wealth to weak losers. Workers organising into unions to demand a fair share of capitalist profit are, in the right-wing narrative, the villains who should just shut up and worship the heroes who gave them a job in the first place. Miranda Devine has told the same story when this weekend she victim-blamed ‘unsuitable women’ for the abuse they suffer since they choose to have relationships with ‘feckless men’. Everything is the fault of the weak. The abused. The ones asking for help. You see the same story in this article describing the behaviour of Conservative politicians in the UK who join clubs of rich young men who burn money in front of homeless people.

The right wing narrative is a scary story about a community I would never choose to live in. I was not brought up to blame the disadvantaged for their predicament. And nor will I bring up my child to think our societies’ problems are the fault of the vulnerable, the disabled, the sick, the mentally ill, the poor and the abused. The rejection of the Abbott government has, I hope, proved that the majority of Australians, like me, reject this story and don’t believe that life is a race. I hope so. But either way, next time someone says the Liberal government is missing a narrative, just remember the narrative is there. It’s just not a very nice story and they know this so they do their best to keep it hidden. Don’t let them get away with it. You know the story. Call it out whenever you see it.

 

Political Realities, Leadership Change and why Democracy won

DemocracyThere are those on the left who desperately wanted Tony Abbott to be Prime Minister at the next election. They rightly saw his unpopularity as Labor’s best asset. I thought that there was a greater imperative. As a believer in representative democracy first and foremost I felt that our political system would be better served if he was given the boot.

There is no individual in Australian political history who has done more to damage the conventions and institutions of our democracy, and indeed the Parliament itself, than the former Prime Minister. Personally, I hope he leaves politics altogether and takes the stench of his confrontational politics with him.

Abbott in both his tenure as Opposition Leader and Prime Minister had a breathtaking, pungent absurdity about him. A Christian man of unchristian demeanor.

Australia has never elected a person more unsuited to the highest office. He was a Luddite with little appreciation of science, the needs of women, and was out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

In hindsight the Australian people have learnt a valuable lesson. In future they should check out the credentials and character of the leader of the party they support. It was an experiment we cannot afford to have again.

The election of Malcolm Turnbull provides an opportunity to wipe the plate of democracy clean. Debate will now be able to take place without the negative pugilistic dog eat dog style of Abbott. It can still be assertive and robust but at the same time conducted with intellect and decorum. Given his sense of superiority (already displayed during question time) and ego don’t inhibit him perhaps his panache and wit might insinuate itself on the house and generally raise the standard of discourse.

Whatever you think of Turnbull’s policies, and he has many detractors in his own ranks, there is no doubt that he is a tough competitor with a formidable mind. One who can debate with true elasticity of intelligence and skill.

He will be a daunting opponent for Shorten and Labor. It is, however, an opportunity for Shorten to rise to the occasion and Labor supporters should challenge the party to also rise above itself.

Already the early polls are suggesting a resurgence of Coalition support. If Turnbull plays his cards correctly he will take many advantages into the next election campaign.

A ministerial reshuffle that rids itself of ministers with a perception of nastiness like Dutton should go over well with the public. As will a more refined and decent political language that no longer reflects Abbott’s crassness and sneering sloganeering.

Unlike Abbott who thought he was above the independent senators and the Greens, I believe Turnbull will seek to take them into his confidence to get legislation passed.

A major advantage he has is that the public are sick and tired of revolving door leadership. If my calculations or indeed my memory serve me correctly we haven’t elected a PM who has served a full term since 2004. That’s about a decade ago.

Unless he stuffs up in a major way the electorate will be reluctant to change again. Continuity of governance with the pursuit of ideology for the sake of it is not what the people want. Added to that is the fact that Turnbull is not beholding to the media. He has in the past told Murdoch, Bolt and Jones where to go.

During the Republic Referendum I worked assiduously for the Australian Republic Movement. I came to admire Turnbull’s capacity to present his case in the face of Howard’s rat pack that included Tony Abbott and Nick Minchen. Turnbull’s account of the The Reluctant Republic still resonates with me.

But if there is much to like about Turnbull there is equally as much to dislike. There can be no doubt that he has prostituted himself to gain power. All of those things that set him apart from the conservative wing of his party he seems to have been willing to capitulate on, and in so doing displayed an hypocrisy unworthy of him. He has spent the first week defending Abbott’s policies.

“No more Captains calls” he said. Then without even swearing a new Cabinet, he prostitutes himself (again) by reneging on his previously respected and long held beliefs on climate change. He then does a deal worth $4 billion with the Nationals and at the same time outrageously sells out the Murray Darling Scheme.

In his initial comments after becoming PM he made a big pitch about the future of innovation, science and technology. He would therefore know that a large part of our future is tied up in renewable energy. That the jobs of the future are in the technology sector, as is our economic future which makes his decision to stick with Abbott’s policy on climate change all the more disappointing. Conservatives around the world acknowledge these points, why can’t ours.

He has at this early stage left himself open to the charge that he is not his own man but rather a captive of the conservative right. It can arguably be said that the policies remain the same and an abrasive Prime Minister has been replaced with an eloquent but no less deceptive one. How he will prosecute the case for a Republic is unknown. It will be odd that we have a Monarchist Government led by a Republican Prime Minister.

Even the hypocrisy he shows on same-sex marriage has the smell of betrayal.

It is of course far too early to judge him but based on his immediate decisions it is obvious that he had to do deals to get the job.

For me his willingness to betray long held beliefs and principles has been nothing short of pathetic. I predict however that the general public will overlook it for what they will perceive as better attention to the economy.

As for the Leader of the Opposition. well according to the polls Bill Shorten is about as popular as Abbott was. He carts a lot of baggage that he will carry into the next election.

There is now no point in holding back on policies and allowing Turnbull to make all the running. He should in some way adopt the Whitlam approach, create a narrative, and release policy showing an innovative futuristic approach to economic issues and government. But above all Labor must attract the younger generations. It is the under 50s that will determine who governs.

Having said all that, if the polls continue in an upward trajectory Turnbull would be well justified in going to an early election. The next month will see Turnbull stamping his authority on the party and his leadership. He has the charisma to sell them and the public is in a buying mood. I can only hope that Bill also has something to sell.

 

My Thoughts on the Week That Was

Saturday 5 September

1 “If you want to stop the deaths, if you want to stop the drownings, you’ve got to stop the boats,” Mr Abbott told ABC Murray Goulburn Local Radio.

In making this statement he ignores the fundamental fact that in Syria 300,000 people have been killed so that stopping the boats actually condemns them to death. Strange logic that. Is he actually telling Europe to turn the boats back giving them no escape?

Barnaby Joyce shows some empathy saying that we should take more Syrian refugees. He also suggested that Christians in the region should be given priority. I’m uncertain if he meant non-Christians were less worthy. I think he did.

Never in the history of our Nation has the standard of political leadership been so poor.

2 The PM for undoing is at it again. This morning we woke to the news that Tony Abbott has again put the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme ‘on time and in full’ in jeopardy. He has begun plans to replace the entire NDIS Board by advertising for new board members in this morning’s paper.

Sunday 6 September

It is clear to me that if we are to solve the refugee problem we must firstly divest ourselves of our Nationalism and replace it with a form of world family Internationalism.

A Father’s Day present for thinking men

boy3The Boy on the Beach

The listless body of the now dead boy Lies on sand-a pillow for his head Gentle waves caress his past It’s beginning and its end

He knew not play or fun and of Suffering he knew not why Only a picture tells his story A life not yet begun

A man gathers his past and his future Gently in his arms He is dead and seen the last of it This thing that men call war

Is there anyone for whom a child’s life is not precious Said the father of the boy My two are gone the mother too My world is also empty

Yes the picture tells his story The pain he has to bare His eyes no longer see, just stare At miseries despair

I explain it to a grandchild with tears in my eyes Of man’s inhumanity to man A world so sick and sad Give him hope says my silence

Thoughts invade me of the ones I love And the pleasure given me I understand the father’s grief But experience it I cannot

I know the intent of evil men Who inflict on children their hate Time will not diminish their crime For my disgust is not benign

Tasmania offers to settle 500 refugees. That’s wonderful but where is Abbott’s voice. If he agrees to take Syrians he will in fact be taking those that have escaped by boat and he won’t do that. But play war games he will.

Mike Baird put it this way:

“Stopping the boats can’t be where this ends. It is surely where humanitarianism begins”.

An observation:

“We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others”.

An Afternoon Thought

seekersAbbott’s decision to simply change the mix of asylum seekers we take rather than increase the overall total again places him on the wrong side of public opinion. It is an unsympathetic, Luke warm, response to a problem of enormous humane proportion and as such required a response that in another time have might have been filled with the Australian compassion I grew up with.

But of course had he agreed to take Syrians who had escaped by boat would have placed him in an invidious position. Australia deserves better than Abbott. He is a combative PM who uses language with an inference that leadership is about being tough above all else. There are those on the left who want him around for the next election. I want him to go without delay.

Monday 7 September

1 Breathtaking that the Australian Media could omit, in reporting Abbott’s decision on refugees, that he is not increasing the quota but taking more Syrians at the expense of others. It’s called lying by omission.

2 Quiz

In 2010 on Q&A this question was asked of who?

I have a gay son. When I was confronted with that situation, in a very short amount of time, and with due consideration, I accepted his position and I overcame my ignorance and my fear of gays and the idea of gay marriage.

“When will you?”

3 If you are under 40 you will never have experienced a recession. That’s remarkable when you think about it. But don’t hold your breath. 3 quarters of negative growth = recession.

4 There are holes in the China free trade agreement large enough to drive a truck through but no one seems to be interested. 1 It could dispense with Australian law. 2 It doesn’t give first preference to Australian jobs. 3 Qualifications of foreign workers might be overlooked. Surely it’s not too much to ask that these principles be addressed before putting pen to paper.

5 Andrew Robb was less than impressive on Insiders on Sunday.

Tuesday 8 September

1 The Morgan Poll this week comes in at 55/45 to Labor but the Greens surge to 16.5 Some backbenchers must be awfully worried.

2 Peter Dutton has been sent to Geneva to ask the United Nations how our government can assist in the refugee crisis – though it’s possible, given his propensity for terror speech, that this was simply to get him out of Australia.

3 It seems that Abbott is being slowly drawn to a more humane response to the refugee problem. The fact that as our leader he could not make a positive captains call in response to public opinion says much about the man.

Wednesday 9 September

seeker21 Abbott’s delay in committing to the number of refugees Australia will take can only mean one thing. There are rumblings in the ranks. The Christians want to prioritise their faith and ban Muslims. Especially young men. Decisions are being weighed as to the political effect of allowing asylum seekers into the country will have on the electorate and inside the Government. Abbott’s leadership survives on the support of the hard right element of his party but he knows that public sympathy is for urgent action. He is therefore caught between a rock and a hard place.

2 Abbott and his team are blatant liars who misrepresent the facts on a daily basis. On Climate Change I have lost count. The one about every family getting $550 of their energy bills and now we have them saying we accept more refugees than any other country. It is provably wrong.

One of the central tenants of Christianity is truth. Many members of the Government practice the faith but are practiced liars. What would Jesus say?

3 Essential Poll again has Labor leading the Coalition 52/48.

4 And there’s more bad news for the Government with the Roy Morgan Consumer Confidence falling 5.8% in a single week.

5 When talking about unemployment everyone seems to be forgetting the consequences of the upcoming job losses in the car industry.

I’m quoting Ian Porter

“When all the car factories close, that will add about 12,500 people to the dole queue. Most of the parts suppliers will also close their plants, adding a further 33,000 people.” These figures aren’t taking into account the “multiplier effect”, either: some estimates put the likely number of job losses at six times higher in the next two years. The end of the car industry will take billions out of the economy and decimate the manufacturing industry. What’s the plan for these displaced workers?”

But the Government tells us it has a plan “jobs and growth”. It must be it’s a secret one.

Thursday 10 September

1 In my midday post yesterday I made reference to the fact that three times during his press conference Abbott went out of his way to empathise that women and children and families would be the priority when selecting refugees for the Australian intake. It seemed odd that he would phrase it that way and I wondered if a journalist might pick up on it. One did but Abbott chose to ignore it.

I have perused all that I could since but can find no reference to it in the media. What’s wrong with journalists that they can’t follow up on something as important as this I ask myself? Then I remembered something I read in an article a few days ago on the ABC web site.

One backbencher said the message to the Prime Minister was “no more Muslim men”.

2 Labor supports the extension of Bombing IS further empathising their inability to think for themselves.

3 I do wish people would get some perspective. George W Bush was a practicing “Born Again Christian” who is on the record as saying that God gave his approval for him to go to war with Iraq. It resulted in around 250/300,000 innocent people losing their lives and the ongoing consequences have been horrific. Australia’s complicity in it all was illegal and ill-considered by a Prime Minister who has never shown the slightest remorse.

4 After watching Abbott’s interview with Leigh Sales I can only suggest he has a very serious chat with someone at Beyond Blue. What a shocker that was

Friday 11 September

1 Good to see that Abbott’s plan to make the young unemployed wait for the dole get blocked in the Senate. At first they wanted 6 months and then 5 weeks but the Senate declared it was a lifeline to poverty. Well done.

2 One thing that got overlooked this week was the Governments capitulation to big business dropping a major reform to competition law after big business allegedly threatened an anti-government campaign. The reform would have made it easier for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to intervene when a big business uses its market power to damage or decrease competition.

3 All over the MSM and Social Media the last day or so has been Abbott’s interview with Leigh Sales. At the risk of repeating myself. WHAT A SHOCKER. Much has been said about it but for me it simply illustrates, on May levels, why he is unsuited to lead this nation. In the face of legitimate forthright questioning we saw a mediocre mind unable to defend his government’s performance and indeed, his own leadership. In answering a question on economic performance he reverted to his mantra of WE STOPPED THE BOATS. His defense of his Governments abysmal performance he resorted to blaming everyone else except himself.

4 The PM might deny it but the report that he intends to reshuffle his ministry prior to Christmas may very well be designed to flush out potential challengers in case Canning goes arse up. Stories like this don’t accidentally appear in the Daily Telegraph. It is an annexe of the prime minister’s media office. They get the drop on every stop, much to the annoyance of the rest of the press gallery.

To quote Tony Windsor: Tony Abbott’s performance on 7.30 suggests he may well have given up on himself”.

And this is the week that was. I leave you with this thought from Robert Kennedy:

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages … It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom or our learning;

neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

PS: A comment about the Dutton, Morrison Abbott conversation on Climate Change and indigenous attitudes to time will have to wait until I recover from the realization that men of their standard have no place in public life.

The slide away from democracy

In 2004, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that lays out seven ‘essential elements’ of democracy, including:

  • • Separation and balance of power
  • • Independence of the judiciary
  • • A pluralistic system of political parties and organisations
  • • Respect for the rule of law
  • • Accountability and transparency
  • • Free, independent and pluralistic media
  • • Respect for human and political rights; e.g., freedoms of association and expression; the right to vote and to stand in elections

Checks and balances – such as independent statutory watchdogs, our independent court system, the rule of law, press freedom, and the ability of non-government organisations to speak freely – are vital to the health of our democracy and for protecting human rights, particularly in the absence of a constitutional or legislative bill of rights.

Since taking office, the government has actively undermined these protections.

Gillian Triggs submitted the AHRC report on children in detention to the government in November 2014. In December the government cut funding to the commission by 30%. By February they were demanding her resignation.

In February 2014, the head of Infrastructure Australia, Michael Deegan, slammed the government for plans to overhaul the organisation that he said “would damage independence and transparency in infrastructure funding.”

The Business Council of Australia expressed similar concerns.

“The BCA is concerned the bill in its current form provides for ministerial powers that could be used to prevent Infrastructure Australia from assessing certain classes of projects and which require the publication of project evaluations only under direction by the minister,” Ms Westacott said.

Two weeks later, Deegan resigned.

Today we hear that the chair of the Abbott government’s climate change advice agency, Bernie Fraser, has resigned without explanation.

“It is understood Mr Fraser had a difficult relationship with Environment Minister Greg Hunt. Fairfax Media understands Mr Fraser announced his decision on Tuesday after an all-day meeting of the authority. Many of his colleagues are believed to be deeply saddened by his departure. He is not believed to have quit due to personal problems such as a health issue.”

Government interference was also apparent in their directive ordering the independent Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) to stop investing in wind and small-scale solar projects.

In the days before the election, Howard and Costello both advised Joe Hockey to keep Martin Parkinson as head of Treasury. But that call was ignored by Mr Abbott, who announced Dr Parkinson’s resignation in his first official act after being sworn in.

”You’ve got to understand that incoming governments do very much want to place their stamp on the economic policy of the country and that is exactly what we are doing,” Mr Abbott said.

”We are placing our stamp on the economic policy of the country and let there be no doubt, let there be no doubt, that Australia’s policy direction changed very substantially back in September.”

We have seen the exodus of basically every executive at NBNco over the last few years. At Delimiter, they ask the question “One wonders, one really does wonder, why so many executives signed up to help build the company but then quit so soon after. Could it be the complete and utter politicisation of the project, perhaps?”

Since Michael Pezullo took over as head of the Immigration Department last October, there had been 15 transfers to other departments by executives and another three senior bureaucrats had retired by mid-May.

Pezzullo told Senate Estimates that departing executives had told him they simply did not fit in with Immigration’s new direction under the Abbott government. He said that a number of his veteran senior bureaucrats had told him during “very sensitive” discussions that the Immigration Department they had joined was different to the one that was emerging under the reform now under way and that it was time for them to go.

Staff numbers at the ATO have been slashed by well over 2,500. Experienced staff are being made redundant and replaced by lower skilled new people.

About 450 Tax Office middle managers slated for redundancies will walk away with golden handshakes worth just under $90,000 each on average – an estimated $40 million in payouts as the ATO opts for a cheaper workforce. The latest cuts come after at least 780 executive level public servants were made redundant during the 2014-2015 financial year

Commissioner of Taxation Chris Jordan told the workforce in his regular bulletin that entry-level tax officials were to be hired.

The Australian Services Union, says the tax office, which has endured a torrent of criticism directed at its ability to collect the nation’s revenue, was getting rid of its most experienced and capable tax professionals, which seems counterproductive as it has been shown that every $1 spent by the ATO on investigation returns $6.

Even the courts are being sidelined.

Migration and counter-terrorism laws are granting extraordinary powers to be exercised at the personal discretion of ministers with court scrutiny curtailed. In a recent hearing into legislation that sought to restrict court review of asylum seeker decisions, Senator Ian Macdonald said the government “doesn’t want to be beholden to the High Court who will pick every comma in the wrong place”.

Legislation has been introduced to ensure there are no consequences under Australian law if the government fails to comply with international human rights law.

Likewise, the government is seeking to strip citizens of the right to contest development decisions on environmental grounds, labelling court action to uphold our laws as vigilante litigation.

A combination of funding cuts, changes to funding agreements and intimidation has been used to stifle advocacy by the NGO sector.

Funding can no longer be used for advocacy and no-gag clauses were removed from contracts. The threat of funding cuts has created a climate in which organisations are reluctant to speak out for fear of moving to the top of the list for the next round of cuts. Charity status is also under threat for political advocacy, unless you are a right wing think tank.

The ABC has had government interference in its programming and press freedom is being curtailed by new anti-terrorism laws that threaten up to 10 years’ jail for journalists and others who disclose information about operations the Attorney-General has deemed “special intelligence operations”. Journalists attempting to pierce the secrecy around the harm being done to asylum seekers have repeatedly been referred to the federal police in attempts to uncover confidential sources and whistleblowers.

Increasingly, the AFP and ADF are being employed in politically driven pursuits, with police raids being filmed and requests being made for a list of national security related things to announce and for bombing runs to be started before the byelection. We have seen the transformation of immigration and customs into a paramilitary force and the use of the Navy to deter asylum seekers.

Executive director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, sums it up well.

“This undemocratic slide is deeply concerning. We need political and community leadership to respond; to create a climate in which the independence of institutions is protected; where the separation of powers and the rule of law are understood and respected; where freedom of information, not secrecy, is the standard; where NGO advocacy is valued, even when it is uncomfortable for government.”

It is up to us all to fight for our democracy and to demand transparency and accountability from those who would seek to rule rather than represent.

liberal democracy

The sooner Tony Abbott goes the better

boy2Abbott’s decision to simply change the mix of asylum seekers we take rather than increase the overall total again places him on the wrong side of  public opinion. It is an unsympathetic, lukewarm response to a problem of enormous humane proportion and as such required a response that in another time have might have been filled with the Australian compassion I grew up with.

But of course had he agreed to take Syrians who had escaped by boat would have placed him in an invidious position. Australia deserves better than Tony Abbott. He is a combative PM who uses language with an inference that leadership is about being tough above all else. There are those on the left who want him around for the next election. I want him to go without delay.

 

Scroll Up