Wentworth Mystery: The Baffling Case Of The Missing…

So the Coalition dump Malcolm Turnbull as leader and he decides to…

The story behind the latest unemployment figures

The government sent out the troops to spruik the latest jobs growth…

Poor planning causes overcrowding

Population Minister Alan Tudge has suggested that Melbourne and Sydney are experiencing…

Is there a glimmer of a coming Enlightenment…

European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the course…

Embassy Disappearances: Jamal Khashoggi and the Foreign Policy…

“Do this outside. You will put me into trouble” (Mohammad al-Otaibi, Saudi…

Nauru - Is this a Mexican Stand-Off ?…

There are about 119 children currently detained with their families on Nauru…

DNA in Trumpland: Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Dance

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) made a fundamental error in chasing the coattails…

Climate recalcitrance

By John Haly“Recalcitrant” is what Prime minister Keating once described Malaysian prime…

«
»
Facebook

Tag Archives: Coalition Government

Charity Begins At Home Or We Need To Talk About Harriet

School Counsellor’s Office. Mr and Mrs White enter.

Counsellor: Ah, thanks for coming in.

Mr White: We’re really glad you called.

Mrs White: We’ve been really worried about Harriet.

Counsellor: I understand, but really, it’s nothing to worry about.

Mr. White: Yes, but some of the things she’s been doing. She keeps taking her younger brother’s toys and insisting that he shouldn’t have them until he’s earned them. I mean, I do appreciate a work ethic, but…

Mrs White: But he is only two. And then there was what she said when she saw that the government was helping farmers with the drought.

Mr White: Yes, she insisted that we shouldn’t be giving charity to people who didn’t come from the same house as we did. I said that they were in need and she just said that they didn’t have the same surname so why should we help them. And she locked one of her friends in the cupboard because she didn’t come in the right door.

Mrs White: We’ve been asking her for the key for months now, but she insists that the friend has to stay in the cupboard so none of her other friends come in by the wrong door.

Counsellor: So she does have friends?

Mr White: Well, not so many since she had her thirteenth birthday and told them that they had to make a large donation to sit at the table with her.

Counsellor: Yes, well, I can see how this may seem like a real worry to you. However, I’m just throwing this out there, but have you ever considered that she might be…

Mr White: Go on!

Counsellor: A Liberal!

Mrs White: No, she can’t be. I mean what sort of…

Mr White: Not our daughter surely. I mean, she can’t be. She’s female.

Counsellor: Now I know that you may need some time to adjust to the idea but believe it or not, there are female Liberals. It’s just that they’re much more likely to be hidden away than the type you see in the media, but female Liberals are more common than you might think.

Mrs White: But what makes you think that she’s a Liberal?

Counsellor: Well, one of her teachers noticed that she kept blaming everyone else whenever she made a mistake. By itself that wouldn’t be unusual but then we noticed her complete lack of empathy and her inability to make a consistent argument for anything. For example, when she was doing group activities, she’d insist that she’d done all the work and then when the marks were in, she’d loudly declare that this shouldn’t go on her report because the other students had done it. Classic Liberal behaviour.

Mr White: Is it… Is it something to do with the way we raised her?

Counsellor: Now, you mustn’t blame yourselves. Sometimes these things just happen and because we live in a tolerant society she’ll be able to lead a relatively normal life. Of course, she’ll never be able to make a meaningful commitment or trust any of her friends, but apart from that, she’ll be able to function just like a normal person.

Mrs White: Is there anything we should be doing? Like is there any treatment or help available.

Counsellor: I think the main thing is just continuing to be supportive and remembering when attempts to install herself as head of the household, that it’s the condition and nothing that you should blame her for.

Mr White: So there’s no cure or…

Counsellor: Well, there are people trying a radical new therapy. Apparently if you give Liberals lots and lots of money and keep telling that they’re the adults, they behave politely and only lash out at things like renewable energy or unemployed people.

Mr White: How much money?

Counsellor: All of it, but I only mentioned that to say that people are trying to help. I don’t know if there’s any scientific validity behind the therapy.

Mrs White: But the lack of science wouldn’t matter, would it? I mean, if she’s really a Liberal…

Counsellor: The main thing is not to over-react. As unbelievable as it may seem, there are lots of Liberals out there and if you can just steer clear of certain topics, you might never even be aware that they’re any different from you or me.

Mr White: Is there some sort of support group? Malcolm Fraser inspired a lot of people by showing that you could make an almost complete recovery from being a Liberal.

Counsellor: That’s what I mean. You shouldn’t talk about recovery. You should just respect her choices.

Mrs White: So it is a choice thing?

Counsellor: Look, I’m not an expert. We do have someone at the school who’s very good at understanding they way Liberals think and he’ll be able to give you some strategies for getting Liberals to do what you want.

Mr White: Who’s that?

Counsellor: The school chaplain.

 

 

Seldom has a government looked more ridiculous. More compromised. Incompetent. Less trustworthy.

If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever, wrote George Orwell, foreseeing, our Border Protection policy, in the news this week as Australian War Memorial Director, Brendan Nelson proposes the creation of a type of shrine or monument to paramilitary thugs; the weaponising of compassion to enable us to deny our own innate humanity.

Similarly highlighted this week is the tender loving care our government lavishes on loan sharks, insurance touts, embezzlers and other predators in “the financial advice industry” at the expense of “ordinary hardworking Australians”. Yet nothing shows our open, transparent, democratic, government so clearly as its suppression of criticism; dissent.

Group hugs must surely break out all round at Sunday’s news, that the Coalition has pressured the UN to excise from its expert report on irrigation, a critique of the government’s $13 billion failure to restore our Murray-Darling river system.

The “Australia chapter” is now cut from the UN report “Does Improved Irrigation Technology Save Water?” published online by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Down the memory hole it goes; extinguished.

Water allocations to irrigators will in fact increase an extra 605 GL under innovative “on-farm efficiency: schemes but nothing may distract us from the government’s carefully orchestrated inquisition into usury and other money-lending malfeasance this week in Melbourne, an antipodean Malleus Maleficarum, which can turn grown men to water.

Banks Behaving Badly-or Business as Usual, a spell-binding, live-streaming, morality play, stars Royal Commissioner, The Honourable Kenneth Madison Hayne, QC, AO, as Grand Inquisitor, brilliantly assisted by Ms Rowena (shock and) Orr, QC.

The show, so much better than anything Labor had planned, government ministers keep telling us, continues its blockbuster run, as a hand-picked cast of spivs, charlatans and rogues and other financial advisers show open contempt for corporate cop, ASIC, and expose Coalition nobbling. Yet mystery shrouds this week’s show. Where are the big guns?

Conspicuous by their absence, possibly in witness protection, as secure as if in Monash fox-holes, are any CEOs.

Schadenfreude seizes the nation. Outrage. The drama has our full attention. True. Bonkers Brendan Nelson does his best to distract with his proposal to honour Border Force; to extend The Australian War Memorial to commemorate those brave souls who served in the war on compassion; our nation’s glorious battle with innocents; those compelled by cruel fate to seek asylum by any means. Some troops, he says, even jumped into the water to save people from drowning.

By Monday, the plot of Banks Behaving Badly includes dead people, knowingly being charged for financial advice; The CBA pockets $118 million for advice it doesn’t provide; NAB bribes people – its innovative “Introducer Program” -pays commissions to unqualified “spotters” – no financial expertise necessary- for home loan referrals, a subplot which includes forged payslips to settle loans, and envelopes stuffed with cash. The Introducer nets NAB $24 billion in loans.

(Former banking lobbyist, Scott Morrison’s tough new fines are capped at less than 1 per cent of that. Offenders will be brought to account, thunders former Goldman Sachs banker Turnbull. NAB is laughing all the way to the bank.)

Fee for no service turns out to be a nice little earner also. AMP’s head of financial advice, Anthony Regan, says he’s lost count of how many rip-offs; how many thousands of customers are charged fees for services they don’t receive. Lives are destroyed by bad advice; or when advisers’ financial ineptitude is compounded by avarice and duplicity.

It’s bad timing, however, for government by and for the banks, a Coalition which has to sell the electorate the last $35 billion of its $80 billion tax cut package, a gift of $13.2  billion in savings to our big four banks over the next ten years.

Even worse, its big business pals are no help. In the parallel universe where senate enquiries are held, Business Council of Australia’s CEO, Jennifer Westacott is asked, this week, by The Greens’ Lee Rhiannon.

“Can you give us an example of another country where tax cuts have resulted in wage rises?” 

Westacott wimps out. She’ll “take that question on notice”, despite the claim’s being a central plank of the BCA and the government’s campaign for the past two years. But let’s be fair. There’s too much business bashing around these days, as Westacott often wails. Above all, even the BCA can’t provide evidence that doesn’t exist.

Examples abound, however, from Canada or from The UK where, despite ten years’ company tax cuts, real wages continue to decline. The National Bank conducts one of Australia’s largest business surveys only to report that a mere 8 per cent of businesses would give workers a significant wage rise if they received a company tax cut.

One-in-five say they don’t need a tax cut to secure their company’s future. But who needs research in an age of neoliberal faith? The Coalition takes heart in the recent dismissal of The White House Chaplain, Jesuit Patrick Conroy who has held the job for seven years.  No reason has been given for Father Conroy’s sacking. Nor is it needed. In a Trumpian universe, it’s heresy to frown upon trickle-down or laugh at the Laffer Curve or even just express dissent.

Best explanation, reports The New York Times, is that the priest is being punished for his prayer last November, at the opening of a debate on the Republican tax bill. Conroy asked God to make sure that the members’ efforts “guarantee that there are not winners and losers under new tax laws, but benefits balanced and shared by all Americans.”

Amen. Fairness is the last thing our government needs in its agile, innovative business-friendly zeitgeist but former Xenophon team member, now the more prosaic Centre Alliance, Sterling Griff, (a name that conjures confidence) is quick to remind listeners of government trumpet ABC Radio National that some top BCA companies pay no tax.

Australia’s effective company tax rate is 12% already. He warns his audience, moreover, where cuts will come from.

“It’s hard to see how a reduction in corporate tax is not going to lead to a reduction in public services like health and education.”

“The economic case for these company tax cuts never stacked up. The benefits were largely to foreign shareholders, with a huge long-term revenue cost to the budget,” says The Australia Institute’s executive director, Ben Oquist when the Coalition withdraws the tax cut legislation it fails to get through the senate last month.

“It’s a tactical retreat” explains former HealthGuard and HBF Insurance companies’ general manager, Mathias Cormann.

Desperate to stop the rot, Malcolm Turnbull mounts a type of apology for his government’s howling down the very idea of a Royal Commission into banks, an opposition it kept up for two whole years. His government would have been “better off politically” to have called the Royal Commission, “several years ago”, he calls in from Berlin, Monday.

Not that he’s accepting any responsibility (Westminster or otherwise) for any malfeasance that his government has effectively enabled by its two years of spirited opposition, evasion and delay,

“The responsibility for wrongdoing lies with the people who did the wrongs. Let’s be clear about that,” he says, hopefully.

It is too little, too late and will do nothing to appease his critics who rue his dreadful political judgement; nor those who ask why his government protects wealthy banks and big businesses, while hounding and gouging the poor.

ASIC’s official boast is that it’s “Australia’s integrated corporate, markets, financial services and consumer credit regulator”. The Coalition hypes the regulator’s powers. Two years ago, Treasurer Scott Morrison claimed that,

“ASIC has the powers of a royal commission and, in fact, it has greater powers than a royal commission.”

But just in case, penalties will now be increased; jail time provided for some offences, a hollow response that overlooks the core problem. ASIC has neither the will nor the resources to act. It’s launched but one criminal case in ten years.

As this week’s testimony shows, ASIC’s the financial sector’s family pet, lying doggo or sitting up and begging to play fetch or rolling over to have its tummy tickled. Of course there’s a weasel-word for it. In ASIC- speak it “negotiated” rather than prosecuted misconduct cases which is why it’s brought only criminal prosecution in ten years.

Does Hayne’s royal command performance have more power? While a royal commission can refer suspected offences to the Director of Public Prosecutions who can then prosecute, in practice, criminal prosecutions rarely result from recommendations of either a royal commission or a parliamentary inquiry.

Key to the commission’s power are its terms of reference. Here is a huge weakness. Its terms of reference dictate that it is not required to look at anything the commissioner believes “has been, is being, or will be, sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation or a criminal or civil proceeding”.

In other words, it will ignore the findings of at least 38 other inquiries held into banking and financial services since 2010. Sensational, shocking as it may be, the misconduct Hayne has revealed, so far, is but the latest scandalous chapter in a long series of instalments, all of which have also exposed ASIC as a Clayton’s corporate regulator; a paper tiger.

When The CBA ruined many clients with bad financial advice a 2014 Senate inquiry criticised ASIC for being “too slow to act, lack[ing] transparency and … too trusting of the big end of town”. The verdict still applies today.

In the meantime, by popular demand, – and the instigation of The Nationals helped by The Greens and with the late support of Labor, the show must go on.  And on. Talk abounds of an extended season. Yet can it fix anything?

Crusty Justice Hayne’s superbly orchestrated production is in danger of being upstaged by its own lurid revelations of the graft, fraud, usury, collusion, extortion, embezzlement, cheating, lying and bare-faced robbery integral to our banking system; as a series of wretched pin-striped small fry from the big four take turns to spill their guts.

Equally distracting are the sideshows. A stampede to steal the glory includes the two-bob populist Pauline Hanson, even though it was her hapless former colleague, Rod Culleton, a bankrupted WA farmer who campaigned for a royal commission. Perhaps she’s getting confused with her repeated calls for a Royal Commission into Islam.

Also confused is Hanson’s new pal, Tony Abbott who channels the Queen of Hearts. “Off with their heads”.

Tin-pot general of the monkey pod rebels, Abbott is pumped. He’s led his peacock peloton and mobile media squad coal revival cycle tour through the Latrobe Valley of death-by-coal-fire, his latest sortie in his “no sniping or undermining” war of revenge by attrition on Turnbull. He’s just back from the $100 million Monash Centre he had built in France.

He goes off like a frog in a sock. “Sack ASIC”, he shrieks, despite his own role as ASIC’s chief nobbler.

Abbott’s government snatched $120 million, a cut of 200 workers, from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, a pillaging which left the watchdog unable to do very much at all effectively, let alone chase up the banks. Instead, the corporate regulator would get banks to self-report. What could possibly go wrong?

At the same time, in July 2014, Mattias Cormann attempted to weaken Labor’s Future of Financial Advice legislation (FOFA) which sought to ensure that advisers acted in their customers’ best interests, amendments put up by the banks but lost only when two cross-benchers voted them down.

ASIC hit the panic button. It complained that all advisers would be caught on the hop. It would do nothing, it said until July 1 2015 – two whole years after the new law was supposed to apply.

This, the corporate regulator supported Cormann, giving advisers two extra years in which to charge commissions and evade their duty to put the clients first. This week has seen how AMP flouted the FOFA law with impunity.

“Through AMP’s dealings with ASIC regarding the extent and nature of its fee-for-no-service conduct, AMP adopted an attitude toward the regulator that was not forthright or honest, and demonstrated a deliberate attempt to mislead,” Ms Orr sums up Friday.

AMP and its advice businesses misled the regulator 20 times from 2015 to 2017 about the nature and extent of its fees-for-no-service practice.”

The Coalition is responsible. It can’t pretend now that it merely got the timing wrong. Surely. But that’s just what it does.

Time to chuck a U-turn. Not far from Hitler’s bunker in Berlin, in the Reichstag’s shadow, Monday, Turnbull grabs the Coalition handbrake; burns rubber in a tyre-shredding U-turn. The government’s been driving the wrong way up a one-way street for two years but a quick U turn will fix it. Memo: Get updated talking points to Kelly O’Dwyer.

Facing overwhelming evidence that its concerted opposition to a Royal Commission into the banks was palpably not in the public interest, a willful misreading, if not contemptuous defiance, of public opinion in defence of the top end of town, the PM and his minions hastily abandon their epic, sandbagged, campaign to defend their banking mates.

Seldom has a government looked more ridiculous. Or more compromised. More incompetent. Less trustworthy.

Tragically, Terry McMaster, of Dover Financial, a pillar of the financial advice industry, oxymoron of the week, is taken ill, mid-sentence – but quickly recovers sufficient self-possession to sit bolt upright in his ambulance stretcher like some grandee being ferried up above the masses upon a palanquin. He’s excused from further participation in Hayne’s show.

But not before he’s been able to defend hiring advisers who were under investigation and later sanctioned for serious breaches. At least, he makes some incoherent response. Perhaps he’s just choking.

McMaster’s also questioned on Dover contracts which purport to give client protection yet which, in fact, attempt to indemnify Dover advisers from accusations of bad conduct. Doubtless ASIC plans to catch up with him on that, too.

Dover is the only big financial advisory group to decline to assist the Royal Commission. It has not supplied adequate documentation. Yet McMaster has dramatically collapsed in the attempt. His clients will wish him a speedy recovery.

You can’t fault the performances. The Royal Commission into crony capitalism is an orchestrated confession of wrongdoing; a lavish smorgasbord of malfeasance even if the grubby money-grubbers of the “wealth industry” themselves, are cynical, untrustworthy, grossly overpaid, self-interested spivs who’d sell their own grandmothers.

The formidable Rowena Orr, QC, continues to impress as she leads a brilliant supporting cast in homage to the English theatrical tradition of personifying justice as a Judge, a trend since Respublica, the mid-15th Century, morality play which has the body politic under insidious, deceptive attack from Avarice, Indolence, Oppression and Adulation.

By Monday, however, our political masters are back on song, a Hallelujah chorus of shock, surprise and outrage, the necessary ritual disclaimer and distancing which will enable them to snatch the whip hand back from Hayne.

“I have to say I have been surprised. I have to admit some of the revelations in recent times, I have been surprised.”

Mathias Cormann tells Sky News, Australia’s Fox News of government spin, while Matt Canavan, Minister for Coal, is “shocked“. Kelly O’Dwyer is “appalled” in a in a duet with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders. At the Self-Managed Super Fund expo in Melbourne on Friday, (no irony in the venue?) the assistant treasurer is back on stage and on song.

“The royal commission has highlighted in the most profound way, some of the devastating personal consequences that have resulted from corporate misconduct in the financial services sector,” she says.

“The government did get the timing wrong.”

That’s it, then. Just dud timing. Could happen to any government bank protection racket. As Helen Razer notes in Crikey, not one MP is surprised, or shocked, or appalled, or devastated enough to call out a scandal when they see one.

As Bob Katter fears, Karen Middleton reports, the real problem remains. Banks will continue to transfer loans between them, unilaterally dictate and then change the terms, downgrade property values and then foreclose without negotiation, seize and offload the properties at fire-sale prices, leaving borrowers still owing them the difference.

And it’s all perfectly legal.

Routed by the sheer force of numbers, rubbery figures, lies, impersonation and other evidence of illegality elicited from bankers so far, by beak of the week, Justice Hayne and his crack team of silks so far, Monday, Malcolm Bligh Turnbull beats a retreat on his quixotic Coalition forces’ foolhardy ideological charge against Labor and The Greens’ impregnable position; that there be a Royal Commission into Banking. It’s also a retreat from credibility and legitimacy.

News of the PM’s surrender from Berlin where he commends John Howard’s Pacific Solution (2001); lecture Germany on how to deal with refugees as he fills in time before opening yet another monument to John Monash and to honour his government’s militarisation of history and fetishising of war.

Some may admire his chutzpah. Germany took in a million Syrian refugees. The nonsense that border control helps build a multicultural society is insulting; demeaning to any audience. But it’s all designed for domestic consumption.

Turnbull makes no apology for his government’s enabling of what clearly amounts to a banking oligarchy; helping our new robber barons hold the country to ransom, destroying careers, wrecking families and ruining the lives of thousands.

“It was a poor political decision“, is the best the former merchant banker can manage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Honour The Sabbath, But Clearly In A Clearly Optional Way OR Why Tony Is The Only True Conservative Left!

Recently I’ve speculated on how the Christian Right have found clear evidence about the Bible’s opposition to gay marriage based on highly ambiguous readings of obscure verses here and there, but not one of them has come out and condemned the reduction of penalty rates on Sundays. I suppose one could argue that they see it as a sin anyway and whether one is paid double time or not is hardly the issue. However, I would expect that someone like Neil who graced us with his presence in the comments, or Lyle Shelton would have been jumping up and down and complaining about the abolition of penalty rates leading to more sin…

Yes, the wages of sin is death… But you do get to pick your own hours and the working conditions are pretty good!

I don’t know why I chose to start talking about penalty rates. I’m really much more interested in the coming leadership challenge which leaves us with a Liberal Party 100% behind Scott Morrison… Or Peter Dutton, if they decide that he’s the only one who’s still friendly enough with the Tony to convince him to take the effing job in London before they have to revoke his citizenship under the recent changes allowing us to cancel it when dual citizens commit crimes such as sedition… Sedition can loosely be defined as trying to bring down the government, and they could even get a jury to convict Abbott on that.

Ok, ok, I know that Abbott isn’t really a dual citizen and that he revoked his British citizenship some time ago, but he won’t tell us when because it’s a deeply personal thing and therefore an operational matter. Of course, when I say that I know, I’m using the words “I know” in the same way that Donald Trump knows that nobody understands the world like him and he knows that climate change is part of a conspiracy between Hillary and the Chinese to destroy Trump Tower!

Anyway…

Tony decided to warn his colleagues that they were in danger of losing the next election because they weren’t conservative enough. The Tone decided to do this – not in the Party room where he was concerned that his mates may be asleep or not paying attention – but via the media. In the everyday world where most of us live this would be the normal way of doing things. If you had a problem with your boss, you wouldn’t blurt it out at a staff meeting. No, you’d publish it on social media in the hope that someone would bring it to his attention and he’d go, “Yes, that person had a point, I’ll change my ways!”

Peta Credlin rushed to Tony’s defence. He wasn’t being disloyal. He was just frustrated. She quickly added that she was no longer working for Tony and her reflections were just to help us all understand that it was his pent-up frustration and that she wasn’t speaking on his behalf. No, she was just presuming that he was frustrated, and she was just trying to explain what he gets like when he’s frustrated by not having his own way. No, she may no longer be his Chief of Staff, but she knows where he’s coming from!

Tony, we’ll all have you know, is simply trying to keep the Liberal Party together. And we all know that the best way to keep a party together is to criticise it in public…

Yes, Labor has disunity; the Liberals have “a broad church”.

And part of this broad church, in the Gospel according to St Tony, tells us that we should just get rid of all the nonsense that we pretended to believe in when we were trying to get elected. You know, like all that nonsense he pretended to believe in when he was studying to be a priest before he realised that he’d never be Pope.

I mean, don’t you all understand the threat of One Nation?

No, not the One Nation which encourages songs like “We’re all in this together” or multicuturalism. No, the One Nation that wants to exclude most people in our nation from anything approaching rights and thinks that penalty rates should just be abolished altogether and women get pregnant for the money!

You know, One Nation…

Remember, Tony did his bit by meeting with Pauline where they had a jolly good laugh about how he raised the funds to have her put in jail.

You know, One Nation…

Who’ve hired James Ashby. Remember him? He left the Liberals to go and work for Peter Slipper. That worked out badly and he had to leave because he alleged that Slipper was sexually harassing him, but his case sort of fell down when his reaction to a text about being spanked was to reply that he might like it. (This is not a joke. Unless Winston Smith has started to work for the government it’s easily searchable!) Now James is working for Pauline and Tony is saying that we need to be less consistent to what we believe and more like PHON!

You know, One Nation…

Whom Abbott seems to believe may take votes off the Liberals and are a threat.

You know, One Nation…

The Party that the Liberals decided to preference above their Coalition partners in WA. Of course, helping them get elected doesn’t mean that we support them and agree with them. We’re just doing it because we’d trade preferences with the devil himself if he it helped us get elected. I mean, at least we have sunk so low as to work with The Greens!

Yes, it’s a worry that people may start to agree with One Nation whose candidates have done such wonderful things as suggesting that a termite repellent can be used to treat skin cancer (or could, were it not for the fact that silly regulations have stopped it’s import, just because a few people have needed hospitalisation because they have large holes in their face) and the idea that gay people are using “Nazi mind control” to change our thinking. I can see more votes leaking to One Nation than the Labor Party or The Greens. God, doesn’t Donald Trump show how dangerous the left can be?

When I suggest that the Liberals will call a spill this week, it seems highly unlikely at the time of writing. However, in a world where Abbott was elected as PM and Turnbull is praising the virtues of coal and Bill Shorten looks the most sincere of the three*, then it’s a risky call to bet against me unless you’re getting good odds. Do I think, Malcolm will be PM by the end of the week? Probably… But I am prepared to suggest that the person who suggested that Turnbull would go on to be one of our longest-serving and most successful Prime Ministers must be wishing that they’d decided to write a column about the achievements of Lachlan Macquarie instead!

*I only said, of the three, AND I do know we could have a long discussion about it, but the idea that it’s even debatable is EXACTLY my point!

What’s The Difference Between Barnaby Joyce And A Lump Of Coal?

The answer, of course, is that one is a prop and shouldn’t have been taken into the Parliament, while the other can be burned to provide heat – apart from that it’s useless…

Still confused?

Well, so am I! We have a Treasurer who took a lump of coal into Parliament. Just so you know, it’s against the rules to use props in Parliament. Ok, some of you are thinking, everybody knows that, but clearly Scott Morrison didn’t. I mean he wouldn’t deliberately ignore the rules, would he? That’s not a very good example to set our country.

Still, I guess when you’re dealing with those boring old number things as Treasurer day after day, you might need the odd creative outlet. Joe’s was dancing after the Budget, but unfortunately, not in the dark. Costello’s was creating fiction; he used to tell people that he’d be a great PM and one day soon, he’d challenge John Howard. Scott must have spied a lump of coal and been hit with an idea. Once inspired, you do tend to take liberties. That’s what artists are like, they sometimes feel that the rules don’t apply to them because they have a message to get out to the world.

I can picture it now, Mr Morrison and his lump of coal in his office. He calls in his staff. “I have this great idea,” he tells them.

“What is it?” they ask, fearful that it will involve incredible amounts of work “fixing the Budget”, or at the very least coming up with reasons why Labor owing $287 billion was the end of civilisation, but raising the debt ceiling above half a trillion isn’t worth talking about.

“I’m going to take this lump of coal to Parliament,” Scott tells them.

The staff nod approvingly, figuring that if they can perfect their nodding, they may get a safe seat where they can stand behind the PM and nod approvingly, but Scottie doesn’t notice. He’s on fire… (no, not literally!)

“And I’m going to say ‘This is coal,’ and I’m going to tell the Opposition not to be afraid of it! Brilliant, eh?”

His staff keep nodding as though there’s more, so Scott improvises.

“Um… then I’m going to suggest that the Opposition are suffering from coalophobia.”

When told that there’s no such word, Scott says that he’ll be remembered for creating it, like that guy who invented the word “selfie”.

“I’ll admit that I’m making up the word and tell them that it’s this ideological malady that stops them from allowing coal to create jobs and growth. And it’s an illness and they need help… Brilliant, eh?”

The staff nod more approvingly because nobody wants to upset the Treasurer when he seems in a good mood. Lately he’s been so down, thinking of how Cory has left and that’s one less vote for him when the spill happens. Not even the idea of some families losing Family Tax Benefits has caused him to smile. Even when told that some asylum seekers are being forcibly removed from Manus and sent back to possible torture and death, his spirits barely lifted.

So the staff say nothing.

And Scott appears in Parliament with that ugly lump and hands him the coal when the Speaker tells him to put the prop away. (Someone assured me that a lip-reader confirmed to them that when Joyce was given the coal he stroked it, saying, “My precious, my precious,” over and over.)

Of course, it may not have happened quite like that. Scott may have just wandered in to Parliament and put his hand in his pocket and discovered that he had a piece of coal that he’d forgotten to take out, and when one of the Labor MPs recoiled in horror, he may have quite genuinely thought it necessary to calm their fears.

Whatever, I found Morrison’s performance with the lump of coal more disturbing than Richard Denniss’ great article: How Christmas Prawns Explain Australia’s Power Blackouts

Why we need more corporate tax cuts

 

ATO data shows that 36 per cent of large companies paid no tax in the 2014-15 financial year. 679 companies including McDonalds Asia Pacific, Chevron Australia, Vodafone Hutchison and News Corp made $462 billion in revenue in Australia last year without contributing a single cent to the nation’s health, education, defense or welfare.

Of the large companies who did pay tax, the effective tax rate on profits was 25 per cent – 5 per cent below the statutory rate of 30 per cent.

Of the 200 largest corporate taxpayers in Australia, companies in the health care, energy and financial sectors paid the lowest effective tax rates of 19 to 24 per cent on a combined income of over $330 billion.

Investors in Australia assume taxpayers will bail out Australia’s big four banks in the event of any of them becoming insolvent. As a result, investors lending to such large banks are prepared to accept lower returns for risk, which lowers how much banks pay for funding. The Reserve Bank of Australia estimates that Australia’s major banks receive an implicit subsidy worth between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion due to this assumption.

An international report on G20 subsidies found that the Turnbull government is continuing to subsidise fossil fuel production to the tune of $5.6 billion a year. Nearly $6 billion a year is paid to Australian corporations though the Fuel Tax Credit scheme. In 2014 it was estimated that State Governments alone had paid $17.6 billion in subsidies to mining companies over the previous 6 years.

Oxfam Australia estimates that the Australian economy is losing up to $6 billion a year in tax revenue due to Australian-based multinationals shifting money to international tax havens.

The federal government remains committed to doing bugger all about this problem, but they are pushing ahead with their plans to cut corporate tax rates. This means that while we’ll still be up to $6 billion a year down on revenue, corporate tax avoidance will be a lot less of a problem in Australia, because the less tax you’re meant to pay, the less tax you can avoid paying.

So the government would like to wish big business a happy and prosperous 2017. For the rest of us, they’ve had to made make some cut backs.

 

Jobs And Grr… Sorry, I meant to say Jobs and Gr…

Sorry, that was meant to be “growth” in the title but for some reason “growth” just stopped, and I think we all know the reason why it’s so hard to have any sort of gr…

Gro…

G-G-r-r-o…

Oh dear, it just won’t appear.

Anyway, I think we know the reason. It’s because of you.

Well, you all complained. You all ridiculed them about “Jobs And Growth”, so it’s your fault that the last quarter didn’t have any growth. It ran away because it didn’t like have to appear after “jobs” all the time. It couldn’t put up with the humiliation any more.

After all, it can’t be Scott Morrison’s fault that we don’t have “jobs and growth”. Couldn’t be. Ok, ok, maybe it’s not totally your fault. Actually when I think about it, like everything else, it’s Labor’s fault for blocking those company tax cuts. Now, I know Tony said that they were going to be a “no excuses” government, but this isn’t an excuse, it’s a reason. Besides, Tony’s not the Prime Minister any more…

Well, not at the time of writing, anyway, but if that changes before I hit publish then the rumours about him not launching a challenge until Malcolm’s approval rating goes so low that installing Ivan Milat as leader would give the Liberals a boost were wrong.

So, after giving the matter consideration, I think that we can safely say that the lack of growth can be put down to Labor’s decision to block the company tax cuts because reducing the government revenue from profitable companies would encourage all those unprofitable companies who pay little or no tax and the economy would get a boost somehow. I mean, remember the boost cutting the mining tax gave to the miners! Look at how cutting the carbon tax has the economy growing in a way not seen since the GFC!

And speaking of the carbon tax, thank goodness the Minister for Saving And Wrecking The Environment, Mr Frydenberg was able to clear up the confusion about an emissions scheme. Apparently when he said:”We know that there’s been a large number of bodies that have recommended an emissions intensity scheme, which is effectively a baseline and credit scheme, we’ll look at that,” he meant that they’ll view it, shake their heads, before announcing that they can’t consider it because not only is it the most cheap and effective way of reducing emissions but they can’t consider it because it was never on the table, unlike so many of the things that were on the table earlier in the year like the GST or the states having their own income tax. By “look at it”, many of those institutions peddling fake news like the ABC and Fairfax tried to imply that “look at” means the same thing as “consider”, in much the same way that they tried to imply that when Abbott said that he and Labor were identical on Gonski that it meant that they would both implement it, when Abbott merely meant that they had the same election policy. Really! Next they’ll be trying to ask us to believe that the jobs from the “jobs and gr…” slogan were meant to be jobs for people already living in Australia, which is the sort of xenophonic, racist nonsense that Labor and their union mates try to push…

Of course, if One Nation say exactly the same thing we should listen to them because they received nearly five percent of the vote in some states and you can’t ignore with people scoring that many votes in a democracy. In fact, you’re even allowed to disagree with them… but only after acknowledging that they have a point and maybe it is time that we replaced the High Court with the judges from “Masterchef”.

Anyway, it’s good to know that young Josh has come out and explained that on Monday he was misquoting himself when he talked about an energy intensity scheme and as our fearless leader, Malcolm Turnbull pointed out, there was nothing about an emissions intensity scheme in the review and that Josh Frydenberg was clearly being confused with someone who speaks on behalf of the Liberal Party when only Cory Bernardi is authorised to announce policy without checking with anybody on planet Earth.

Australian Voters – What are you afraid of?

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid.

I still recall that day in early high school so vividly. I was yelled at, embarrassed to the point of tears and pulled out of class.  I was ordered to sit on the verandah, because my parents could not afford the proper text book and the teacher decided I was not ‘ready to learn’. That experience, really drove home that the battlers could sit alone and cry red-faced in shame and be on the outside looking in, or they could use their voices to speak up.

I knew that public education in the early 1980s was considered free for all students and that I was entitled to an education.  (My Mother had told me time and time again “you don’t need money to be clean, honest, intelligent, kind, well mannered, etc., etc.,)

That day, I furiously marched to the Principal’s office at lunchtime and I made a formal complaint.  I stood up straight, looked him in the eye and asked him loud and clear, if I was allowed to be excluded from class because I could not afford the text book.

For a reason I cannot remember now, (possibly being thirteen and misunderstanding the political framework!) I threatened to report the school to the Governor General and guaranteed that he could stand me in front of class and ask me questions. I argued that it would be revealed that I knew more than most of the students who had text books. I was angry and offended that the school had drawn a line between my intelligence, my willingness to learn and the amount of money my parents had to buy a stupid text book!

After some scornful lecture reminding me that it was somehow a thirteen year old’s responsibility to ensure I had the right books for school and I was ‘ready to learn’, I was given a ‘loan’ of a second hand book.  I had to promise I would protect this book with my dear life until the end of the year and I was curtly reminded that ‘forgetting to return the book would be considered stealing from the school.’   That was also a stark reminder of how a low socio-economic background was an immediate negative judgement of one’s morals.

Two things were important that day: A rule existed to prevent unfairness and I had the courage to speak up. 

Rules and Societal Norms shape who we are

Legal rules and also societal norms shape who we are. They shape our nation. The democratic system of parliament is the system which enables the rules by which we live. If the school had a rule implemented that stated I could be excluded because I did not have the correct book, I could have sat on the verandah for the rest of the year. Not learning and not participating. Some kids would not have complained, as I did.  

An important point is that not everyone has the same levels of self-efficacy to use a complaints system, or to even question if they are a victim of unfairness. The rules should be there to protect people so they do not need to have an inherent self-confidence to right any wrongs.

This is the reason I take politics and voting so seriously.  The Liberals, time and time again implement ‘rules’ or laws, that not only make life hard for the disadvantaged, but also make it hard to complain and achieve fairness.  We see this in Education, in Health, in Welfare and in unemployment programs to name a few.

This is the future under the Liberal Government I see and what we have seen for the past three years and in previous Liberal Governments state and federal.  A system of rules, that makes life harder for battlers. A system of rules that makes it harder for battlers to have a voice.  A system of rules that is the antecedent to unfairness and a divided society.

The Liberals seek to make that verandah I sat on, even wider between the thirteen year old me and inclusion in that classroom.  

The Liberals seek to make rules, that would have the Principal tell the thirteen year old me, ‘that it was my fault, I can do better, get richer parents, shut up, sit down and do as you are told, or we may arrest you.’

The tight polls indicate that a number of Australians are afraid of what a change of Government will bring. However, the thought of remaining with the Liberal Government makes me very afraid:

I don’t want to live in a world where a Liberal Government works hard for a greater divide between the rich and the poor. 

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals ensure the working class have no rights and can be replaced by foreign workers in the dead of night.

Where the practices and policies of the Liberals make the disadvantaged choose between seeing a doctor or buying food.

Where the ideology of the Liberals does not see marriage equality as a right for all citizens.

Where the Liberals favouritism of austerity is implemented in times of severe, global economic uncertainty.

Where a narrative which harms and stigmatises people is encouraged and supported and sometimes led by members of the Liberal party.

Where Liberal/Conservative/austerity-laden budgets are designed to give the wealthy money and see the poor grasping for the trickling down of the scraps.

Where the spending decisions of a Liberal Government produces a health system so underfunded that death of Australians is realistic consequence.

I don’t want to live in a country where a Liberal Government makes rules to make life harder for the battler or makes it harder to protest against unfairness.

Another term of The Liberals. That is what makes me very afraid

If you are NOT voting 1 Labor, what are you afraid of?

  • Does ensuring Medicare is in the safe hands of the Labor party  – the party that invented Medicare and the party that has fought against cuts to Medicare by the Liberals for years and years, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that all children have the funding they need for more individual attention to excel in school, make you afraid?
  • Does a party who fights for the rights of the worker, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that our health system is properly funded, so Doctors and Nurses can do their jobs properly, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring transparency, KPIs for processing, independent overseer, child guardian, refugee tribunal and funding UNHCR camps to eradicate the need for boat journeys, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that the party that got us through the GFC unscathed, managing the economy in a transitional environment or global instability, make you afraid?
  • Does a history of delivering major reforms that have progressed this nation forward such as: NDIS, Enterprise Bargaining, Medicare, Superannuation and Gonski, make you afraid?
  • Does the underpinning ideology of a fair go, make you afraid?
  • Does ensuring that we have a fibre-laden, first rate technology National Broadband System, make you afraid?
  • Does every citizen having the equal right to marry, make you afraid?
  • Does the idea a party can have 100 positive policies, presented and costed before an election, make you afraid?

Vote Labor to put people first on July 2. Don’t be afraid.

Originally published on Polyfeministix

Day to Day Politics: On the eve of the last election.

Saturday 23 April 2016   -72

Author’s note: On the eve of the last election I was forced to confront the reality that the party I supported couldn’t win. This is what I wrote:

I am still no further advanced in answering the question “who will win the election?” I think my mind is still in cause and effect mode. Thoughts of consequence invade me. So I ask the reader to indulge me for a little longer.

I have always thought that at the centre of any political philosophy should be the common good. In saying this my thoughts often drift toward a better way of doing politics and the term commongoodism is central to my internal debate. It sounds idealistic, this common good and it may not in itself be suited to all political persuasions but it is worthy of examination. Conservatives for example may never be able to overcome their dislike of equality. It is probably more acceptable to the left than the right. But politics after all is about ideas and compromise. I ask myself if the isms of left and right have gone past their used by dates? Many questions arise. Do they suffer from the tiredness of longevity? Is there a possibility that a new politic could emerge from the ashes of this election. Can a society deeply entrenched in political negativity and malaise, rise with a renewed interest in the common good, and still retain the essential ingredients of a vigorous democracy where a wide ranging common good test could be applied to all policy. Even have a caveat placed on it.

Have left and right so fused into each other that they no longer form a demarcation of ideas? Could the ideologies of the two somehow come together to form this commongoodism? Who would decide the common good? How could one define it? Could capitalism embrace the common good or would it need a work over? Could conservatism which empathises individual responsibility and opportunity embrace it? What would common good values be? Some might even say there is no such thing. That’s all a bit like political scrambled eggs I know but they are the sort of philosophical questions I ask myself on my daily walks. You see that although I still value my leftish views I do really believe that modern political thought and practice needs to move beyond self-interest and the attainment of power for its own sake. And not just nationally but internationally. But particularly in Australia where politics no longer meets the needs or aspirations of the people and is held in such low esteem that politicians are barely relevant.

I have long felt that the political establishment has taken ownership of a system that should serve the people but instead serves itself. It is self-indulgent, shows no respect for the people it serves and lacks transparency. These thoughts I know challenge established political thinking. They may even be controversial, but politics, as we currently practice it has no future as I see it.

There I have finished my dummy spit, my dose of idealistic medicine.

10 AM Friday.

Now I will answer the question.

Who will win tomorrows election?

Well it won’t be Labor and here are three reasons why.

Firstly, despite the growing influence of the Fifth Estate the mainstream media still packs an enormous punch. In advertising the success of one’s spend is measured by the resulting sales. The media can measure its influence in the polls. Labor has been the victim of the most concerted gutter attack ever thrust upon an Australian political party. And from all sections of the media, although one in particular, News Corp, has gone well beyond the realm of impartiality. Labor has been drowned in an avalanche of lies, repugnant bile, half-truths and omissions. The media has lost its objectivity and news reporting in general has become so biased that it no longer pretends to disguise it. The MSM has forsaken truth, justice and respectability in its pursuit to protect privilege. They print and tell lies with such reprehensible consistency that a gullible and politically undiscerning Australian public has never really challenged. As a famous business man once said, “I spend a lot of money on advertising and I know for certain that half of it works”.

The Fifth Estate (including me) has attempted to counter these nefarious attacks but in my view it is three years away from reaching its full potential. Having said that I plead some degree of ignorance, and I must say, I am absolutely astounded at how many people participate in social media and the voice it gives them. However in three years’ time its ability to influence the younger generation will have risen exponentially. Added to that will be a declining older generation.

Secondly, Tony Abbott has been a man who has adopted an American Republican style shock and awe approach in his pursuit of power. Main stream media has hailed him the most effective opposition leader in Australian political history. This is solely based on his parties standing in the polls and says nothing about the manner in which he lies and distorts to bring about this standing. Perhaps they should rethink the criteria they use.  On a daily basis and in the parliament he has sought to abuse, disrupt proceedings and tell untruths that normal men would not. His gutter style negativity has set a new benchmark for the behaviour of future opposition leaders. Luckily though, he may be the only one of his characterless ilk, and future opposition leaders may be more affable. However, the consistency of his negativity has had an effect on an electorate in a state of comatose.

Since the election date was announced he has portrayed himself as a different person. An indifferent public has been fooled by this chameleon disguise. He is simply a politician who climbs from the gutter to spread his pessimism everywhere. David Marr uses these words to sum up the character of this would be Prime Minister:

“An aggressive populist with a sharp tongue; a political animal with lots of charm; a born protégé with ambitions to lead; a big brain but no intellectual; a bluff guy who proved a more than competent minister; a politician with little idea of what he might do if he ever got to the top; and a man profoundly wary of change … He’s a worker. No doubt about that. But the point of it all is power. Without power it’s been a waste of time”.

On the other hand, John Hewson described him as lazy and indolent.

Thirdly, this where the truth hurts. My Party can at times be its own worst enemy. For the six years it has been in power it has governed well. Despite the enormous difficulty of minority governance. This is indisputable when you look closely at its economic record, the legalisation passed in the Parliament and the reforms from within a minority framework.

Its problems though have not originated from everyday governance. In this sense it has been no better or worse than any other. Rather its problems stem from personality conflict and the pursuit of power.

Politics by its very nature is confrontational and uneasy with those who pursue power for powers sake, or those who think they have some sort of ownership on righteousness.

Labor had two formidable intellects in Rudd and Gillard. In fact, combined they would total the entire opposition front bench. This clash of personalities supplemented by an inability to sell its policies has for six years damaged Labor immeasurably.

And this is the main reason why Labor will lose. Not because they haven’t governed well. But because life is about perceptions, not what is, but what it appears to be. We have painted a picture of dysfunction. Rightly or wrongly that is the perception.

In conclusion, if you are a praying person I suggest you get on your knees and ask that Abbott not be elected tomorrow night.

And in the aftermath, if we stand still in the midst of these challenging and changing times we will stagnate. We simply must move on and confront those oblivious to the common good with all the resources at our disposal.

My thought for the day.

‘I think acceptance and embracement of change is one key aspect of what we try to define as wisdom’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Why would you vote for them really?

Friday 22 April 2016   -72

1 There is not an area in public life, be it sport, leadership, commerce, or whatever, where performance is not the key indicator of one’s success or otherwise. On that criteria you would think the Coalition wouldn’t have a chance of winning the upcoming election. That any opposition would be a mile in front of this excuse for a Government.

Under Abbott and then Turnbull they, by any standard, have governed poorly. So much so that they really don’t deserve to win. It would be fair to say that a vote for the Coalition would be a reward for governance that doesn’t even approach mediocrity.

Having said that, one then asks how come they are still favourites to win? Is it because people think Labor would be even worse. The perception that the Rudd/Gillard governments also governed badly is still strong in the public’s mind. I use the word perceived only because in reality they were, as governments go, no better or worse than many. Indeed, it’s true that for their tenure they suffered a crisis of leadership.

The truth is though that there is always a percentage of voters who will vote the same way every election regardless. The ‘mum and dad influenced’ me types.

Current polling would suggest the electorate is split down party lines and once again it will be the swinging voters who will sway the day. That of course is taking a universal view, whereas it might be individual seats with special interests that may decide.

Whatever it is the question remains: “Why on earth would you vote for a government whose performance has been so abysmal?”

2 Peter Martin makes some interesting points in an article for The Canberra Times. Here are some.

A About the Budget advertisements.

“Never before has a budget advertisement been prepared ahead of the budget itself. In fact, rarely before has a budget needed an advertisement”.

B About revenue.

“When you hear someone say we have a revenue problem, what they are saying is that Australians should be taxed more, that the tax burden on the Australian economy must be increased,” Treasurer Scott Morrison says. “Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen agree – that is why they are proposing, even boasting, that they will increase the tax burden on the Australian economy by over $100 billion over the next 10 years”.

C About debt.

“Under Tony Abbott’s and Malcolm Turnbull’s watch, net government debt has grown from $202 billion to $279 billion and over the next three years will head for $347 billion”.

“Morrison is planning to turn his back on reality on Tuesday week. Down the track, someone is going to have to do the hard work and put taxes up”.

An observation.

“People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated”.

3 Inequality is starting to play a role in this election. 40 prominent Australians have sent an open letter to the Prime Minister saying that “By allowing corporations and wealthy people to set up shell companies and shift profits offshore, our politicians are giving the mega rich the tools they need to hide public money through tax dodging”.

In addition, Labor is considering maintaining the 2% tax surcharge on the wealthy.

4 It’s still only early days. Labor is already in election mode but the Coalition seem unsure as it whether the starter has fired the gun.

My thought for the day.

“The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information necessary to exercise this right. It is destroying the democracy that enables it to exist”.

 

Day to Day Politics: The campaign has started – “It’s Labor’s fault” … “The GFC didn’t happen”.

Wednesday 20 April. -74 Days

1 Predictably the Conservatives have already started blaming Labor for everything. They inherited an enormous debt. We left them with none they say. They are the problem, not us. No mention of the Global Financial Crisis or why they doubled the debt.

In the meantime, now that the ABCC has been voted on, for which Turnbull allowed a fortnight, nobody seems to know what to do with the remainder of the time. There is no substantive business to debate. What will the members do? Stay or go. Perhaps they could adjourn to the bar on the public purse for a fortnight. Wouldn’t even need to take a vote on that one.

By committing to a date for the election he has, as Julia Gillard did, taken away the element of surprise. Naming the date so far in advance didn’t work for Gillard, it is unlikely to work for him.

In question time the Prime Minister said “the election would be about trust”.

I wouldn’t like to be backing that statement up with facts.

“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).

2 Sky News presenter Paul Murray has claimed to have seen the script of a TV add he says will be run straight after the budget saying that there are savings measures of $16 billion over four years. If this is true, what does four billion a year tell us? Well it tells us that they are not fairdinkum and unwilling to hurt their constituency. So much for fairness and budget repair. And guess who is paying for the advertisements? Well it’s not the Liberal Party. It’s illegal of course, but they will still do it.

3 The Morgan and Essential Polls on Tuesday came in with the parties on 50/50. Combined with the Ipos 51/49 and Newspoll 50/50 Monday it confirms the trend toward Labor which is of course a strange time to be going to an election. Added to this for the Coalition is the complexity of delivering a popular budget in the midst of a campaign. And of course running on policies of your predecessor rather that your own.

Morgan says that “If a Federal Election were held now the result would be too close to call and would likely result in a hung Parliament”.

What shouldn’t be overlooked is the fact that Labor needs a uniform swing of 4.3% and 21 seats if it is to win. My view is that on the current figures the Coalition would still win with a reduced majority.

Having said that, the majority of both parties’ policies are yet to be released. There are still 73 days to go.

In the Essential weekly survey 59% were in favour of a Royal Commission into banking with 15% opposed.

4 The power of public opinion. Telstra has decided to re-engage its support for marriage equality or to use their terminology. “Renewing its active position” on the issue. This comes only a few days after it said it no longer “drive further debate” on the subject.

My thought for the day.

Never be burdened by the negativity of others. Wear positively as if your life depended on it”.

PS Wildcards in the election. Bronnie and her lovechild still have scores to settle.

 

Day to Day Politics: With 17 backflips Turnbull qualifies for the Olympic diving team

Friday 15 April 2016

We can thank Malcolm Turnbull, for ridding his party, and the nation, of the combatant pugilist Abbott. He was rewarded for his effort with election winning polls and a personal popularity rating the envy of any celebrity. Initially with charismatic personality, he seduced and beguiled his way into the hearts of those who wanted nothing more than to see the back of Abbott and some who didn’t.

The punters welcomed, for the time being at least, his sense of reason, fairness, discretion and natural charm, even if these characteristics seemed out-of-place in a party so demonstrably right-wing.

After 7 months of what can only be described as waffle, it has become apparent that he is not the leader people thought he was. I have written hundreds of words, no, literally thousands, about his individual policy backflips but I have never collated them together.

Ben Elthan in his piece for New Matilda does just that and when viewed in their totality it becomes obvious the backflips are worthy of a gold medal. How a new leader could possibly backflip on so many issues is beyond understanding. Well except to suggest that he is incompetent and controlled by the right-wing of his party. Anyway, here is the list, you be the judge. You can read Ben’s piece on New Matilda. But first, here are the backflips Ben writes about:

1) Marriage equality

2) Climate policy

3) Raising the GST

4) Income tax cuts

5) Company tax cuts

6) Capital Gains Tax

7) Simplified tax returns

8) Funding for the Gonski schools reforms

9) University fee deregulation

10) International carbon permits for Direct Action

11) Safe Schools

12) Section 35P of the ASIO Act

13) An Australian republic

14) Tax disclosure

15) The “effects test” for competition law

16) The early budget

17) Income tax for the state.

2 During this week I wrote at length about the need for a Royal Commission into the financial sector. I think those who have so stridently opposed one underestimate public opinion on this one and are already into scare campaign mood. In reality the banks are about as popular as politicians. Here are a couple of small examples of why one is needed.

If one is looking for reasons to justify a Royal Commission into banking here is a small but significant one. The cash rate is 2%. The bank card rate on credit is 21% or there about. A 19% differential.

Here is another: Why is it, if you try to get a $10k personal loan unsecured at around 8% you have a 50/50 chance of being knocked back,  but banks can’t give you a $10k credit card at 20% quick enough.

Here are some bigger ones:

The fact is that on the evidence thus far our major banks are probably (should I use the word allegedly) guilty of insurance fraud, rate fixing and dodgy financial planning practices. They have no conscience when it comes to profit.

The objection to a Royal Commission brings into focus just what sort of democracy we are, or want to be. Are we one where the people are represented by the government of the day or some sort of corporatocracy where the government is just a political appendage of large corporations?

3 A factor we don’t consider when trying to analyse polling is the undecided factor. Lee Mullin. A Facebook friend sent me this:

“As most of the polls have the parties coming together it makes Morgan the standout as they are bucking the trend of the others. With the election getting ever closer, the polls start to take on more significance. I would love to know how they are dealing with the undecideds are they extrapolating them into the numbers or are they excluding them from the numbers and of course what are the raw figures on the undecideds. As that is where the election will be won and lost”.

4 Not often I would agree with the PM but on this he has my wholehearted support:

“I think as we all know, and I say this as a former mediocre rugby player, AFL is the most exciting football code”.

5 Waleed Aly wrote an interesting article this week in which he used a metaphor “The planets are beginning to fall into place for Labor” to explain how the growing discomfort with societal inequality in its many forms was giving Labor a narrative to really differentiate itself with the Conservatives.

They ranged from the wilful horror of Trump, to the right’s defence of the banking sector, into the unfairness of the Coalition’s monetary policy, the fact that major companies and individuals don’t pay tax, and the Panama papers. Notwithstanding the fact that the rich are becoming disproportionately wealthier year by year.

I have written on this subject on this blog before about inequality previously.

Aly is correct though. Both in Australia and overseas there is an acceptance that big business and right-wing governments are cheating. That the ordinary citizen’s rights are not being represented by government. The opposite is true. Governments are representing the interests of the privileged, the rich and big business. Labor has a chance to get back to its grass-roots and represent the common good of the people. I hope they grasp it.

My thought for the day.

“We must have the courage to ask of our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of evil minds”.

PS: My worst fears have come to fruition. Yes I am regretfully sorry to inform you that Barnaby Joyce is Prime Minister.

Day to Day Politics: ‘Wishy–washy politics‘ … What did she mean?

Friday April 8 2016

1 When a Coalition MP described the Government as wishy-washy what exactly did she mean?

MPs have voiced concern over the direction of the government, with backbencher Michelle Landry warning it appears ‘wishy-washy’ and lacking direction.

‘It’s been portrayed in the media that we are not focused. It’s coming across that we are wishy-washy’.

‘We have had a great lot of successes and there’s some fabulous things the government wants to do. I think we have to really focus on getting the economy on track’.

I of course understood the term but I wondered if it really was an apt term to use to describe this government.

She said the Government had done some fabulous things. I struggle with that. She added that they wanted to get the economy on track and I immediately thought we might have a repeat of ‘good Government starts today.’ Where on earth did the first term go?

I’ll look it up I thought. Then I understood what she was getting at.

Wishy-washy. Meaning. Feeble, ineffectual, weak, vapid, effete, spineless, limp, namby-pamby, half-hearted, spiritless, irresolute, indecisive, pathetic, weak-kneed, half-arsed, pale, insipid, wan and sickly. Mission accomplished.

2 After telling all and sundry one day that there were no more children in detention we once again find out that Peter Dutton was lying. The next day he admits there are still two in detention and that 90 more are being returned to Nauru. They argue that they are not in detention because they are free to roam around. On an island the size of Nauru I call it incarceration.

‘We’re happy to make third-party arrangements, we offer settlement packages and talk individually with the families’.

Mr Dutton said resettlement in Cambodia would be offered, urging people to deal with facts, ‘not the emotion’.

‘Not the emotion’! Words fail me. We are actually telling them that they will remain on the island for the rest of their lives and he says don’t be emotional.

3 Did you know that later this month the Government will introduce legislation that will allow private employment agencies the power to fine people on the dole?

Under the proposal, Australians receiving the dole can be fined 10 per cent of their income support – increasing by 10 per cent each day until they ‘re-engage’ – if they:

Fail to sign a job plan at their first job agency appointment; or

Are found by their job agency to have behaved inappropriately at an appointment (‘inappropriate behaviour’ is defined as acting in a manner “such that the purpose of the appointment is not achieved”); or

Fail to attend a Work for the Dole or Training exercise without an excuse deemed reasonable by the job agency.

4 Bronwyn Bishop has managed to have four of her own staff members appointed to the preselection panel for her blue ribbon seat of Mackellar. Talk about cooking the books.

Will Dick Smith challenge?

5 Just a question but how come Waleed Aly gets so much flak from the right yet gets enough votes for a Gold Logie nomination?

Its petty I know but is it simply because he unapologetically espouses opinions they don’t like.

6 The Mouth that roared proved that the title is an apt one when he over shouted a group of angry protestors.

Mr Pyne was announcing the government would fast track legislation to delay the introduction of new minimum pay rates for truck drivers until January next year.

‘It’s a pity unions are trying to shut down democratic discussions in Australia today’  he said.

His other identity Mr Fixit had no comment.

7 Central to the Governments budget is likely to be tax cuts for business. The ‘Panama Papers’ and an avalanche of recent publicity about tax evasion suggests the government will have a hard time convincing those who pay tax that business deserves tax cuts when a third of them don’t pay any anyway. Tax avoidance looms as a large issue in this election.

To quote Peter Lewis:

‘Not only will the PM likely enter a campaign justifying a tax cut while attacking Labor for tightening negative gearing concessions and paring back superannuation benefits for high income earners. But he will also now be called to explain why the Government has failed to act on homegrown tax avoidance and minimisation that sees  a third of Australia’s top companies paying no tax’.

8 Australia has a need for many things but there is none greater than the need for equality of opportunity be it employment, equal pay or whatever. But there is none greater than the need for equality of opportunity in education. That is what Gonski was all about and for an Australian Prime Minister, as he did this time last week, to divest himself of any responsibility and advocate a segregated system is an unmitigated disgrace.

Labor’s Chris Bowen says it was a ‘moment of black comedy ’He is correct.

Referring to Turnbull’s offer to the states Greg Jericho said this:

‘Of course they did – and of course they should have. It was a proposal delivered with such little genuineness that Turnbull might as well have been offering to sell the premiers a bridge in Sydney’.

9 From an article by Jonathan Holmes refuting claims from Bolt and Henderson that the ABC is biased.

‘Mark Scott has clearly failed to enact his promised reform agenda’, fumed Gerard Henderson in his Media Watch Dog blog.

‘How can the man heading our biggest media organisation be so blind to the ABC’s unlawful and dangerous Leftist bias?’  frothed Andrew Bolt.

‘Andrew’s world is a simple one, ‘I said. ‘It has two boxes. There’s the one that right-minded people like himself inhabit, and there’s the box in which just about everybody else sits, which he calls ‘the Left’.

My thought for the day.

There is no shame in not knowing. The shame is in not wanting to know’.

PS When you only have Royal Commissions into matters relating to your political opponents and ignore those associated with you, you leave a stench of hypocrisy that has a whiff of gutter politics about it.

 

Day to Day Politics: Turnbull’s Election Campaign. Making something of nothing.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Given that the independent Cross Bench Senators fail to pass the ABCC legalisation its odds on that we will be going to the polls on July 2. An extremely important one for Australia’s future I might add.

So I’m thinking what will Malcolm Turnbull and the Coalition campaign on. What will he fight the election on?

We need to keep in mind that this is going a very lengthy campaign so whatever the overall theme is, it needs to run the distance. We can rule out ‘Stopping the boats’ as this is to closely associated with Abbott. We can rule out Labor disunity as there doesn’t appear to be any. And given Abbott’s broken promises after the last election it can’t be a ‘who do you trust one.’

Media reform, Senate reform and fixing bankruptcy laws are nor heart and soul issues. Perhaps negative gearing and capital gains.

Union corruption and Shortens involvement might be a goer but Labour could counter that with accusations of corruption in big business and donations to the Liberal Party.

He certainly can’t campaign on the Governments record. Everyone knows it has been abysmal.

Scaremongering about a new carbon tax might get a run but it can easily be countered with a better story. The economy is usually the Coalitions strongest point but since coming to power promising to reform the taxation system and making utter fools of themselves, the public will be wary.

The Prime Minister is trying to pass off responsibility for Health to the states so he can hardly make health stand out like a beacon.

In the end it comes down to his favourite. That being ‘Innovation’

There is nothing wrong with the narrative of being an innovative country with an innovative economy. In fact it should be a worthwhile pursuit.

There are three problems though. Firstly, all innovation is generated by education and Turnbull’s proposal for the states to raise their own tax is regressive. The response thus far to this pie in the sky thought bubble has been dreadful. It was so lacking in any detail that the electorate thinks it sus. A two tier system. One run by the Commonwealth, the other by the States.

He will be accused of prioritising Christian schools and Private ones. Inevitably Labor will accuse him of religious preferentialism and class nepotism. Innovation born of educational privilege is a hard sell.

Turnbull said:

“I suspect no federal government would retreat from funding and continuing to support the non-government school sector because there would be a concern that they would not get a fair go from state governments who obviously would have a competing interest with their schools”.

Really? That statement smacks of privilege.

Strangely conservatives have never realised that kids from low socioeconomic backgrounds are our greatest untapped source of potential growth. They are our most undervalued resource..

Secondly, it’s also hard to sell a theme of innovation based of nice words alone. Their actions thus far with the dismissal of hundreds of scientists from the CSIRO doesn’t fit. And when he announced his $billion policy he failed to mention the $4billionAbbott had already taken out.

Thirdly, innovation requires the best technology to advance itself. Turnbull himself has made a complete mess of the construction of the NBN. Young people have not forgiven him for it.

An observation.

‘The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow’.

So there we have it. I may have missed something but there isn’t much left.

Maybe you have some thoughts.

My thought for the day.

‘The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow’.

 

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: Your corruption is worse than mine, and other taxing issues

Thursday March 31 2016

1 At the crux of the Senate stalemate over the ABCC legislation are two principles. Firstly the Government says the crossbench Senators, because some rorted the voting system, are unworthy participants. A DD will fix the problem it says. In itself that is debatable. Secondly the Government wants its ABCC anti-Union corruption bill passed.

The Senators suggest a compromise that would include all corruption. Not unreasonable you might say. After all corruption is knowingly rife in politics and business.

It is not unreasonable to suggest that corruption in the banking sector and its effect on ordinary people is far worse than that of unions in the building industry. And that corruption in politics is destroying our democracy.

Too unreasonably single out union corruption suggests you rate it worse than other corruption and leaves the Government open, particularly the Prime Minister, to further charges of hypocrisy. Union bashing in other words.

A recent survey by Essential Media found that most respondents opposed the reintroduction of the ABCC, and demonstrated that the Federal Government must be more active in countering misconceptions about the role and function of the construction watchdog.

It remains an open question as to whether the PM really wants a more democratic electoral system or if the ABCC is a more important matter than others that would seem more worthy of its attention.

If per chance the cross benches passed the bill, Turnbull would have some explaining to do as to what the real motive was.

The Essential survey on the following question:

What do you think is the main reason why the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull would call an early double dissolution election?

Showed that 14% thought it was because Parliament won’t restore the ABCC. 15% said it was because he wants to get rid of the independents in the Senate and 30% said it was because his Government is losing support and he will have a better chance of winning if the election is held early.

2 The Crickey Poll Bludger in the absence of any Polling over Easter reveals Newspolls quarterly breakdown. It shows the Turnbull Government sinking in Vic, and SA with Victoria leading the way. Another poll reveals that the government will have a hard time selling its budget. An internal poll also shows that Bronwyn Bishop wouldn’t hold her seat of MacKellar and the Nationals will almost certainly contest the seat of Murray. Sharman Stone’s former seat.

This week’s Essential Poll still has the parties 50/50.

3 Those interested in American politics should read this.

‘Justice Scalia’s seat is vacant. Ginsberg is 82 years old, Kennedy is 79, Breyer is 77, and Thomas is 67. Nowadays, the data shows that the average age of a Supreme Court retirement or death occurs after 75.

These are 5 vacancies that will likely come up over the next 4-8 years. The next President will have the power to potentially create a 7-2 Supreme Court skewed in their ideology.

Think about that… 7-2. If the next President appoints 5 young justices, it will guarantee control of the Supreme Court for an entire generation. And 7-2 decisions will hold up much more over time than 5-4 decisions which are seemed to be lacking in mandate’ – Colin Powell.

4 It seems Tony Abbott will run his own campaign in the forthcoming election.

He has expressed his readiness to participate in the 2016 federal election campaign to support colleagues who hold marginal seats. Senator Nick Xenophon said he would be delighted to have Abbott campaigning in South Australia. I suppose Christopher Pyne will also welcome him.

Nifty Nick knows when he is on a winner.

5 I know I’m always on about the NBN but when Australia slips to 60th position in world speed ratings it’s about time we all took notice. What a cock up this supposedly ‘innovatively’ minded Government has made of this medium.

It is just ridiculous that we are building a copper-based service that will be redundant in ten to 15 years. We should all question why we are heading down such an inferior pathway at such a huge cost.

6 How refreshing it was on Tuesday to watch Paul McClintock, a businessman and former staffer to John Howard deliver a speech ‘Deficit to balance: budget repair options’ for CEDA, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia minus the politics at The National Press Club.

‘No economic problem in Australia is graver than the persistence of large budget deficits,’ he said.

The research was conducted by a 12 member commission that included current Reserve Bank board member Dr John Edwards and three former secretaries of the federal department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Dr Michael Keating, Dr Ian Watt and Terry Moran.

What struck me was the way in which McClintock demonstrated that when you dispassionately divorce yourself from the politics, and objectively address an economic problem, just how much clearer the answers are.

Contrary to the Abbott/Turnbull governments’ notion that budget repair can only be achieved with spending cuts, the report calls for revenue enhancement. It reckons that $15 billion in revenue ‘enhancement’ measures and $2 billion in spending cuts would bring the budget to surplus in 2018-19.

Now you wouldn’t call these committee members raging socialists but their preferences for revenue raising were suspiciously Laborish.

Singled out were superannuation tax and capital gains tax. Introducing a flat 15 per cent discount on super contributions ($6.9 billion), reducing the cap for concessionary contributions to super to $10,000 ($8.5 billion), halving the capital gains discount ($3.6 billion) and abolishing negative gearing on all assets purchased after December last year ($2.6 billion).

Other options proposed included increasing petrol taxes, cutting the fuel tax credit scheme, cutting industry tax concessions, clamping down on work related tax deductions and extending the ‘temporary’ the budget repair levy.

Without action, the commission found personal incomes would bear the rising burden of taxation.

It all sounds reasonable when you take the politics out of it.

Recommend you read this article by John Kelly on the subject.

An observation.

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 dont’.

7 My first reaction to the Prime Minister’s proposal to give the states the right to raise their own income tax is that the electorate will never buy it. Imagine the States with that sort of power. He is just handballing a problem he can’t handle.

Turnbull indicated that over time if a particular state had a problem it might say.

‘OK, we have got an issue with one part of our services. Can we fix it ourselves or do we need more money? If we need more money, then they go, the state would go to their parliament, raise the money, go to the people and persuade them of the merits of it.’

A hard sell this one. I wonder how long it will stay on the table. We might even see a perpetually shifting population seeking the least taxing state.

And didn’t Scott say:

‘This is not a government that has any interest in lifting the tax burden on Australians’.

Wouldn’t it be easier to just get companies to pay some tax and stop all the subsidies?

My thought for the day.

‘For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education and health systems are adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged’

PS: I read last week that the actual plebiscite question that was supposed to be revealed prior to the election had been shelved. Yesterday I read that the plebiscite itself is to be shelved indefinitely. Can’t be true surely.

 

Scroll Up