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Day to Day Politics: Malcolm Turnbull. How wrong I was.

Sunday May 21 2017

Author’s note: Is it my age or does time seem to just go quicker? When this morning I looked at what I had written on the corresponding day last year I was really amazed that what follows I had practically written a year ago. Even more amazing was that when I re-read it I was even more taken by how little has happened. The governance of the country has gotten worse. Note the mention of Peter Dutton and compare it with recent happenings.

What a fraud the Prime Minister has turned out to be

1 When Malcolm Turnbull came to power, I like many others naively thought that after Abbott’s confrontational gutter style politics we would see a new era in the practice of political discourse. Not exactly a lovey dovey one but at least it would be sensible and reasoned. After all, Malcolm for some time had been doing the rounds of media programs espousing his own particular brand of diplomatic civility. He was overwhelming seen as the conservative leader we had to have. At the time I wrote:

”Conversely, Malcolm Turnbull, will it appears, obtain the office with a calculated mixture of personal charm, reasonableness, and consummate diplomacy. He presents a façade of calm confidence and understanding in stark contrast to Abbott who shows all of the traits of a man who has lost control of his emotions”

The Saturday Paper in December 2016 said this of Turnbull:

”He has worked up a lovely public persona: as cultured as Keating but blessed with a kinder sense of humor; as intelligent as Rudd but far from as malevolent. And somehow, with his green-froth-drinking diet success and his endearing leather jackets and business shirts, his Stephen Fry-like adoration of gadgets and mastery of social media, his raffish smile and mellifluous voice, he has formed the perfect personality for most popular, and probably most trusted, politician in the nation”.

How wrong we were. Since coming to power he has proven to be a hypocrite and a fraud. Policies and beliefs he held for many years were ditched without as much as a hiccup when the far right nutters of his party demanded it. Consistently he has caved in on policies contrary to his beliefs.

When he allows and condones the xenophobic racist rhetoric of the immigration minister Peter Dutton any thoughts I had left that he might bring a new era of politics have been finally laid to rest.

I had thought there was a possibility of the election being about a contest of policies and ideas, the means to implement them together with the means to pay.

But Turnbull in utter desperation has played the racist card. He has allowed Dutton with his nefarious mouth to spew out racist talk like a daily shower of offensiveness that rains down on an unwitting society every day.

Dutton’s remarks about refugees were deeply offensive to the historically compassionate immigration program of both parties. An effective program that has helped Australia to become a multi-cultural success.

Not only did Turnbull express his agreement with Dutton’s remarks but said he was an outstanding minister. How crass he is. Pauline Hanson’s eyes would be popping out of her head with delight.

Turnbull was often critical of the politics of division thinly directing them at Tony Abbott. What a fraud he is.

Michael Gordon in an article for The Canberra Times said this:

”But, no, Prime Minister, the 25 Labor MPs you say are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ are not in open mutiny over Bill Shorten’s (and Labor’s) commitment to turning back the boats and offshore processing (notwithstanding the breathless headlines in the Herald Sun)”

”Many have done nothing more than express similar sentiments to you, like when you told Fran Kelly you ‘sympathise with, and grieve for’ the ‘mental anguish’ that so many on Nauru and Manus Island have had inflicted on them”.

The 25 Labor MPs mentioned are guilty of nothing more than harbouring humanitarian instincts.

An observation.

”Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s wellbeing for the sake of it”.

2 The latest Essential Poll has Labor on 51% and the Coalition on 49%. The interesting thing is that for the first time we find Malcolm Turnbull dipping into net negative territory on personal approval for the first time. This can only be as a result of his hypocrisy

3 Craig Emerson tweeted:

”Rolling out Dutton so early in the campaign to vilify refugees with PM saying he’s an ‘’outstanding Minister suggests bad internal polling”.

Sean Kelly of The Monthly today makes the observation:

”Those who follow election campaigns know that early every morning the strategists of all parties get together to analyse and pinpoint the topic of the day. What you want the public to focus on is the most important decision of the day. Liberal strategists have been focusing on background briefings to the media for some time. They tell them that any day where the focus is on Asylum Seekers is a good one for the government.

Coincidently the day the Prime Minister attacks Labor immigration policy the Liberal Party’s pollster Mark Textor writes an article about how a party can win a political battle not by winning the political that day, but by pushing an issue on which it has an advantage to the heart of the debate”.

Strange how the planets can align so coincidently.

4 Did you know that during the last English election all three political leaders signed a pledge to tackle Climate Change? Are we really so stupid not to?

5 “When it comes down to a beauty parade for who’s best qualified to educate the children of Australia, I’ll pick the teachers and curriculum experts over the right-wing of the Liberal Party every time” (Labor leader Bill Shorten when asked about funding the Safe Schools program past 2017).

My thought for the day.

”Nothing matters in life so much as to live it decently. And you don’t need any form of religious belief to do so. Be as humane as you can possibly be”.

PS: The AFP have been given access to James Ashby’s old mobile phone records. Watch this space!

Incompetence and Expediency

Despite overly optimistic, but what should be called laughable forecasts in the budget, wage growth in Australia is now the lowest it has been since the mid-1990s. And it’s not hard to see why.

Private-sector annual wages growth, at the March 2017 quarter, was 1.8%. The latest labour force data released yesterday by the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows a modest decline in the unemployment rate from 5.9% to 5.7%.

The reason is, full time employment fell by 11,600 jobs, and part-time employment increased 49,000. As a consequence total hours worked fell by 0.12%. But here’s the kicker. Underemployment rose by 0.1% and there are now over 1.8 million Australians who a) want to work and b) want more working hours, but are under-utilised.

In seasonally-adjusted terms, 58 per cent of the net jobs created in Australia in the last 12 months have been part-time. When one grasps the reality of this depressing state of affairs, it is not hard to see why wages growth is so low.

When Scott Morrison brought down his fiscal statement (budget) last week, he predicted wages growth over the forward estimates to be 3.5%. This then, is factored into the tax revenue estimates and the broader bottom line. His projected surplus in 2020-21 is based on a wage explosion. That is the stuff of fantasyland.

It is laughable to the point of negligent. It’s as if a bottom line figure was established first and the rest put together to justify it. This is the way of it with the present government. It is incompetence and expediency played out to mask any realistic plan for job creation.

They simply do not know what to do, or do not want to. Either way, they are traitors to the nation they govern. The participation rate while steady at 64.8 per cent is well down on the most recent peak in November 2010 of 65.8 per cent when the labour market was still recovering from Kevin Rudd’s fiscal stimulus.

The answer, therefore, is blindingly obvious. Unless the government undertakes a significant spending program, targeted to soak up the idle capacity in our workforce, Scott Morrison’s budget estimates will not be realised.

There is no evidence that there is sufficient activity planned in the budget that will make this happen, even allowing for the additional infrastructure allocation announced last week. It is too little and too remote.

Despite the bluff and bluster coming from both Turnbull and Morrison, the economy is going nowhere. In the meantime, a debt burdened private sector is drifting precariously toward a precipice that has the capacity to cause a monumental economic collapse.

And we can’t say we didn’t see it coming.

The broody hen sitting on a huge pile of our money

After Peter Costello conducted a fire sale of our assets while stashing away surpluses from the mining boom, he put aside over $60 billion of our money to establish the Future Fund.  This has now grown to $130 billion.

We are told the purpose of this fund is to pay for “unfunded Commonwealth superannuation liabilities.”

As all employers, including the government, are required to pay the superannuation guarantee into their employees’ super funds, how can there be an unfunded liability?  There is a continuous stream of income into superannuation funds.

As a sovereign currency issuing nation, it is impossible for us to be unable to meet this obligation.

Along with the Future Fund, Costello’s crowd are responsible for investing the DisabilityCare Australia Fund, the Medical Research Future Fund, the Building Australia Fund and the Education Investment Fund – a further $18 billion.

So what are they doing with this $148 billion?

The following are the returns achieved in 2015-16 and the current balance as at March 31, 2017:

FUTURE FUND   4.8%   A$129.6bn

MEDICAL RESEARCH FUTURE FUND   2.1%   A$4.6bn

DISABILITYCARE AUSTRALIA FUND   2.5%   A$6.2bn

BUILDING AUSTRALIA FUND   2.5%   A$3.8bn

EDUCATION INVESTMENT FUND   2.6%   A$3.8bn

Not only are the returns woeful, the expenses for running this fund are exorbitant.

In the year ended 30 June 2016, expenses for wages, management fees, performance bonuses, brokerage fees and the like were over $288 million, down from $316 million in 2015.

The Australian reported that three Future Fund employees earned salaries ranging from $1.058m to $1.235m last year, while more than $10m was paid out in performance bonuses to Future Fund staff in 2015-16.

“All permanently employed staff at the Agency at the reporting date are eligible to receive an entitlement to a performance related payment as approved by the Board. Employees who receive an entitlement may elect to have the entitlement converted to cash and paid to them. Alternatively, they may defer part or all of the payment for an initial two year period and receive a commitment from the Agency to pay them a future amount which will be dependent on the performance of the Fund over this two year period.”

As the majority of fund investments are in other countries, they also paid $62 million in tax to foreign governments in 2015-16.  In 2015 they lost $2.7 billion on foreign currency exchanges.

As at June 30, 2016, 21.7% of the funds assets were held in cash.

In the budget it was revealed that the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund the government promised would find a cure for cancer won’t deliver the $1 billion promised for medical research by 2020 because of poor earnings.

Research Australia says while the government has banked $4.6 billion in health savings in the scheme it has so far released just $125 million in research funding.

Also in the budget was the government commitment to delay drawing down from the Future Fund until at least 2027 rather than 2020 as originally legislated allowing it to build to a projected $300 billion by 2027-28.

Whilst Peter Costello sits on this huge pile of money like a broody hen, the total face value of CGS on issue (gross debt) is projected to rise from $537 billion in 2017-18 to $725 billion by 2027-28.  The Government’s total interest payments in 2017-18 are estimated to be $16.6 billion rising to over $20 billion in 2020-21.

Surely this money could be better invested.

House prices in Sydney grew by 19% and in Melbourne by 16% over the year ending March 2017.  Couldn’t we use several billion to buy or build some affordable housing?  The government would benefit from income tax returns from those employed in construction, maintenance and management.  The Future Fund would benefit from rents and capital gains.  The citizens would benefit from having somewhere affordable to live with the security of long term leases and regulated prices.

The dollar return on investment in education, health and research is way beyond the paltry returns the funds are currently achieving.

Instead of investing overseas, losing money on foreign exchange rates and paying tax to other governments (they are exempt from tax here), they could be building Australian infrastructure like the High Speed Rail and an NBN that actually works.  They could be the ones to invest in our air and sea ports and electricity grids.  They could have bought the Kidman farm rather than giving it to the Chinese via Gina.  Instead of paying hundreds of millions to middlemen brokers, they could be investing in profitable assets.

Speaking at the Australian Shareholders Association Conference in Melbourne on Tuesday, Peter Costello welcomed the Turnbull government’s decision to lower the funds’ targets in line with a low-return investment environment.

Rather than accepting this misappropriation and mismanagement of our money, we should be putting it to work to benefit current and future generations.

A Budget Primed to Backfire

We will know pretty soon, probably next week, how Scott Morrison’s fiscal statement (aka the budget) has gone down with the electorate. Trying to judge the mood of the voters today is fraught with difficulty. It is safe to say, however, that at least 52% will not be swayed by this so-called Labor-lite document.

Some would even see it as a complete capitulation of long standing Liberal values in their desperation to remain in power. For indeed that’s all it is; a pathetic attempt, not to balance the books, for they now know that is a bridge too far, but to give the impression that they can make the right call given changed circumstances. They will fail.

Initially, the swinging voter, however, might be impressed. Such is the ignorance at street level of what is really required despite what has been thus far, a fairly spirited reaction from Labor. But of one thing we can be certain. Any bounce in the polls for the government will be short-lived.

They now have too much baggage, both in what they have failed to do and what discontent exists within the party with this and other issues. All this means further displays of discontent that will, from time to time, spill over onto Main Street where those swinging voters, ignorant and ill-informed as they are, will recognise a government in disarray and revert back to their pre-budget position.

Taking a swipe at the banks is good politics, but Labor won that initiative a couple of years ago. By taxing the big four, the government has legitimised and strengthened Labor’s call for a Royal Commission. By forcing students to pay higher fees they have placed a generation at odds with a government full of graduates who received their degrees for free.

By drug testing welfare recipients, they not only demean the unemployed but clearly show their deep dislike for them. This resonates with all of us. This is blame shifting designed to disguise their inability to provide sufficient jobs for all those who want to work. It will end badly.

Bill Shorten has rightly emphasised the lack of fairness, the inequality of taxing the poor to service the wealthy. It is not a two day headline grabber. It is something that will become increasingly apparent as families continue to struggle meeting mortgage payments.

On Insiders this morning, Scott Morrison stated that the next likely move in interest rates would be up. He is right, but does he have any idea what that will do to the outer suburban mortgage belts of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane? For him, and his government, it will become like a festering sore that won’t heal.

As for the attempt to placate those trying to buy into the property market by offering salary sacrifice incentives, this too will fail. Who has the flexibility, in the short term, to establish a home saving account with sufficient funds that could keep pace with prices today?

The government knows, that to introduce a program abolishing negative gearing, the one issue we all know is fuelling the housing market, would mean most of their own members would be disadvantaged. They can’t bring themselves to do it. The rewards have been that good and they all want them to continue.

But they will pay for it in the long run.  It’s not that hard to see how an increase in interests rates will hit investors just as savagely as it will the average homeowner, now mortgaged to the back teeth.

This fiscal statement may well prove to be worse than Joe Hockey’s first effort in 2014. And wouldn’t Joe salivate at the thought of that.

Barnaby’s baby – boon or boondoggle?

As Scott Morrison announced $8.4 billion is to be spent on an inland freight rail linking Brisbane to Melbourne, Barnaby Joyce went purple with excitement.

But is it a boon or a boondoggle?

The proponent’s stated benefit-cost ratio (BCR) is 1.1.  When wider economic benefits (WEBs) are included, the stated BCR rises marginally, but is still 1.1 when rounded.

Infrastructure Australia has identified a number of risks which could impact on the economic viability of the project. Factors such as a decrease in demand for Australia’s coal exports, weak oil prices, reduced demand for interstate freight, and upgrades to the Newell Highway, could adversely impact the economic case for Inland Rail.

The budget papers concede that, given the marginal nature of the BCR, an increase in project cost could have a significant impact on the final BCR.

“Project costs will not be finalised until procurements, alignment and reference designs are completed. The project is sensitive to increases in project cost and lower revenues from users, and these risks could decrease the returns on the Government’s investment in the project.”

The budget also included funding for a Regional Road Freight Corridor in NSW—New England Highway: $30.3 million, Princes Highway: $52.5 million, Mitchell Highway: $5.6 million, Newell Highway: $78.8 million.  As stated by IA, these road upgrades lessen the projected benefit from inland rail.

The budget states that the inland rail project “will support 16,000 direct and indirect fulltime equivalent jobs at the peak of construction” and 600 jobs when operational.  But have they considered the number of jobs that will be lost in the road freight industry?  Or even those employed in road construction and maintenance as 7.5% of the total benefit comes from “Reduced lifecycle costs for infrastructure owners and operators on the road network as a result of lower freight volumes, with reduced maintenance costs and capital investments able to be deferred.”

All parties seem to be supporting this investment but I suspect that has more to do with not being the one to upset the regional voters than through any actual comparison of the value with alternatives.

High speed rail has a similar BCR but has the advantage of facilitating decentralisation which would help with housing affordability, urban congestion, the high volume of air traffic between Melbourne and Sydney, and regional revitalisation.  It would also, with less private traffic, free up existing rail lines and highways for freight.

This is definitely a win for the National Party but perhaps Barnaby had a more personal reason for his glee.

According to a map published on May 1, there will be a new section of rail built between Narromine and Narrabri.

“Approximately 307km of new track.  This new track will reduce the overall journey time and complete one of the missing links between Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Brisbane.”

Serendipitously, this line will go through a little place called Gwabegar where Barnaby Joyce happens to own  two neighbouring properties totalling 2400 acres.

When he bought them, the locals were bemused.  A successful farmer and exporter from a nearby area said of the Joyce’s purchase, ”This is scalded country. It could not support the number of animals that would be needed to make a return on investment.  It is a strange buy, put it that way.”

Perhaps not so strange now.

Winter is coming. Here’s $75 to keep you warm at night.

By Lurline Hanna

I’ve just received the fantastic news that Mr Turnbull is going to pay me a bonus of a massive $75 to help pay for my heating costs this winter.

When I received my first gas bill in this property, before using my one gas appliance – a heater – it was a bit under $17, for 10 days. Admittedly almost $10 of that was for them reading the metre when I moved in, and $6.70 was the supply charge: the charge for merely having access to gas at this property.

I thought how nice it was of the LNP government to pay my gas supply charge over Winter and – being pretty smart – thought that I was on a winner. But turns out it will cover the charge for 111 days. Nothing to help pay for the gas I use on these cold nights (currently in Autumn) that regularly have a “feels like” of under 0 degrees. Nothing towards electricity or its supply charge for the heater in the bedroom so Spencer D (assistance dog) and I can sleep at night.

I know I should be grateful for all the “free money” I receive from the government for having medical conditions that make it impossible for me to hold down a job. And believe me, I’m incredibly grateful my DSP was approved in 1999 before it was decided that mental illness isn’t really an illness, and that everyone who is on, or attempting to get on the DSP is scamming the government. I’m even more grateful I’m not under 35, because then my pension could be reviewed and I could be kicked off it if I’m judged capable of working at least 8 hours most weeks of the year.

However at this stage of my life – I turn 50 next month – after my rent, regular bills, and moving costs are repaid, I have $70 a fortnight to buy food, medications, fuel, clothes, haircuts, entertainment (ha ha), plus food, vet bills and medication for my assistance dog – a medical essential.

Admittedly, in two fortnights that will increase by $110 a fortnight. If it wasn’t for a very understanding family member I would be looking for help from the charities.

So thank you so much, Mr Turnbull, I’m incredibly grateful for your largesse. I just hope $180 a fortnight is enough to pay for my above costs plus the gas and electricity bills. I’m sure it will be, because of course I can afford to lose weight and my mental health and osteoarthritis, and insulin dependent diabetes don’t need me to try and keep on a healthy diet, and an in-water exercise regimen in a heated hydrotherapy pool (which doesn’t come free either).

 

Weird scenes inside the Abbott mind

I didn’t think it was possible but Tony Abbott is getting worse.

He is now claiming that a “cultural cowardice” at the heart of public institutions such as the ABC and the public service has caused people to abandon the major parties and mainstream political leaders have failed to promote the “virtues and benefits” of Western civilisation including “Gospel values” and free speech.

Right.  So a few good Hallelujahs will make us all forget about their incompetent management, the poor quality of candidates, the lies they tell, and their blatantly self-serving policies.

“Whether it’s official persecution of Queensland students for a bit of justified sarcasm, state governments promoting gender fluidity programs in schools, or a federal government-approved activist being disrespectful of Anzac Day, there’s this pervasive ambivalence verging on hostility to our country and its values from people who should know better,” Mr Abbott said on Wednesday night.

“When the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet thinks that his decisions may have been tainted by ‘unconscious bias’, when the newly appointed ABC chairman thinks that his organisation has no objectivity problem, when dozens of big companies are more ready to campaign for same-sex marriage than for economic reform, when shareholder activism has intimidated big banks against investing in coal, and when it’s all-but-impossible to discuss race, gender or religion in our universities without ‘trigger warnings’, the long march of the left through our institutions is almost complete,” he said.

Yes these are the most important challenges facing our nation according to the man who was kicked out of office by his own party – the Human Rights Commission, the Safe Schools program, marriage equality, the ABC, ANZAC day, free speech (for some), and some good old gospel jingoism.

Tony suggested that “values disruption” is even more concerning than job security, economic disruption and national security.

Ever the populist, Abbott took time to really put the boot into Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

“Of course she was wrong to claim that Islam was the most feminist of religions. Of course, you can express any opinion you like; but why is it that only some opinions get you sacked, or investigated by the Human Rights Commission?” Mr Abbott said.

Ummm…because nothing Yassmin said was racially offensive?

“Still, an over-promoted, politically correct 26-year-old is merely the symptom of the cultural cowardice that’s penetrated to the very heart of our institutions. While officialdom wrings its hands in nervous self-doubt about anything that might be labelled anti-youth, anti-women, anti-black or, perhaps worst of all, anti-Muslim, Australians show what they think of our country’s knockers by turning out in ever increasing numbers and ever greater enthusiasm on Anzac Day.”

Young Muslim women with dark skin should know their place.  They have no right to remind us of the suffering of victims of war on our ANZAC day!

Tony knows a lot about over-promotion.  The people of Warringah have been rewarding his incompetence for decades.

The Race Towards Feudalism

By Christian Marx

The ultimate conservative manifesto has always been to make the rich wealthier.

This can only come at the expense of weakening the middle class and attacking social services. The extreme side of the conservative party (in Australia at least) is run by the hard-right crypto Fascists. This rag tag bunch of psychopaths is primarily supported by the free market, hard right “think tank” the Institute of Public Affairs.

These zealots call themselves “classical liberals”. They believe in virtually no government beyond defence and protecting private property. Classic Liberals believe that mankind is egocentric and coldly calculating. Classical Liberals were the architects of the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. This drastically limited the provision of social assistance. They saw poverty as a weakness and inevitable. “They believed the population would outstrip food production and they regarded that consequence desirable, because starvation would limit population growth”.

One can see from the above that these people are evil. They care absolutely nothing for those who may fall on hard times, and indeed are actively engaged in the decimation of social services in order to transfer wealth to their corporate backers.

Below are the chief ways of wealth transference in the race toward Feudalism.

Erosion of Social Services

We see this in almost every Western nation. Lies are spread about the government being in horrible debt. (In Australia a government can NEVER become insolvent as it owns and controls the production of money). The media also propagates this ruse in a bid to get people to vote in extreme austerity policies. These include huge cuts to healthcare, education, and the stagnation of unemployment benefits, pensions and carers’ benefits.

Globalisation

More and more labour and services are being outsourced. This is largely at the behest of large corporations in order to source and exploit cheap and unethical labour. A first world country cannot compete with a third world country like India, so this becomes a race to the bottom in terms of wages and conditions. Interestingly CEOs of said companies are earning ever growing amounts beyond the realm of sanity. Some of these spiders could earn enough to feed a third world nations populace for a year!

Added to this insult is the fact the CEO gets paid more for attacking his own workers conditions and wages as this increases the bottom line for the company’s shareholders.

Privatization of Public Services

This is a huge wealth distribution mechanism. Politicians work in conjunction with key players in big business to weaken and make public services inefficient by starving them of government funding. This in turn makes the populace bewildered and angry, leading to them blaming the government and actively voting against their best interests in favour of privatization.

As a result of the failing services, together with the mainstream media propaganda machine, big business is able to deceive the public into believing that private ownership will save the service and make it more efficient. This is a total lie, as history proves time and again that when a public asset is sold, prices skyrocket, maintenance is nonexistent and executive salaries balloon. Added to this, profit is the sole motivation as opposed to the community good.

By running a service into the ground, the government then sell the very valuable asset to a private company in a fire sale. Not only is the business usually a major donor or staunch supporter of the political party who sells the asset, they also are involved in the THEFT of a public asset, knowing full well that the average voter will be paying far more for a service, which they and the government deliberately destroyed in order to make huge profits.

The sale of the Commonwealth Employment Service is probably one of the most brazen examples of this unethical practice. Australia now has a completely dysfunctional job search system with dozens of job agencies sucking MASSIVE profits and subsidies from the taxpayer. America has also been decimated by the privatization of government run services.

Smashing of Unions

Unions are now just a shadow of what they once were and the results are disastrous. Wages have stagnated and are now no longer even keeping pace with inflation. Working conditions are precarious, particularly with the huge increase of casualization and zero contract hours.

More industrial accidents are happening as a result of lax health and safety laws and the workload of many organizations is crippling, with many employees facing burnout from an increasingly hostile and competitive working environment.

Creating a Housing Ponzi scheme

Housing is now completely out of reach for the young. In the major capital cities in Australia, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney, a house is now up to 14 times the average wage (if working fulltime).

This has been caused by a number of factors, including the ludicrous Negative gearing scheme, whereby a property investor can buy a house and rent that house out at a loss. (The rental income does not cover the mortgage repayments). The loss is then subsidized by the government, via taxpayer’s money! This is unheard of in other countries.

Australia also has one of the laxest laws in the world when it comes to foreign ownership. Foreign citizens are able to purchase multiple properties, thus shutting out young first home buyers from the property market.

Finally, rentals are horribly unaffordable in the major cities of Australia. It is almost impossible now for a person to rent a small unit on unemployment benefits or any kind of disability allowance or pension. Melbourne is now full of homeless people. Many are elderly or disabled and are unable to afford even the most rudimentary accommodation.

These key strategies are the arsenal in the conservative manifesto. Together they are used in a brutal and systematic fashion in a bid to transfer wealth from the majority, and shift the power and wealth to the corrupt and unscrupulous minority. It is unethical, barbaric and downright ugly and ultimately if taken to its full potential will lead back to 19th century type poverty and destitution. Pure, free market capitalism is in essence a race to Feudalism. Be alert and VERY alarmed.

 

“A man who doesn’t understand his job as Prime Minister.”

“He [Turnbull] is arrogant, he’s disrespectful. I don’t think he’s genuine and I think he has lost his way.”                                                                                              

 Anastasia Palaszczuk


“Arrogant, disrespectful and shallow … a man who doesn’t understand his job as Prime Minister,” says Anastasia Palaszczuk in disgust, bringing a hapless Malcolm Turnbull down to earth with a bump, ending a flag-waving, morale-boosting, troop-rallying week.

The Queensland Premier pronounces him to be a worse PM than Tony Abbott.

“When Tony Abbott was PM, I could get straight answers … all we’ve seen lately is a fly-in, fly-out prime minister who is espousing thought bubbles without any deep policy conversation,” she says, furious at the PM’s high-handed management of disaster relief after Cyclone Debbie, amongst other abuses of Commonwealth-state relations.

Palaszczuk is also angry that her state was not consulted on the PM’s latest gas plan, at this stage a vague threat to Santos and other powerful companies that the federal government may have to quarantine output for domestic supply.

“It’s about time that he showed some leadership and was respectful, not just to me but to all the other premiers across the nation,” she adds, picking up on a management style which earned Turnbull the nickname “Ayatollah” in merchant banking in the late 1980s.

“Malcolm would always do what Malcolm wanted to do,” explains a former employee.

A good leader inspires his troops. Helpfully demonstrating the Aussie values of mateship and chivalry, Cobber Dutton rushes to his current leader’s rescue. He takes a boot out of his Light Horse stirrup and gives the Premier a swift kicking.

Not only are Ms Palaszczuk’s comments an “embarrassing outburst”, “Premier Palaszczuk is a laughing stock around Australia,” Dutton says, showing the sort of disciplined team work and fine judgement that have helped ensure that this Coalition government, like its predecessor, has the spirit of federation pretty well hog-tied.

Digger Dutton also models the qualities of mind and spirit that make him a peerless contender for the super ministry of Homeland Security, a promotion his PM is about to bestow on him which will make him second most powerful minister.

The move comes despite a track record which makes his Immigration Department the most incompetent agency in the Commonwealth, as Bernard Keane capably details with reference to reports by the Australian National Audit Office.

Dutton implies that Ms Palaszczuk should have a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. Besides, the gas export plan is just an idle threat. Certainly there’s plenty of wriggle-room in its formulation so far.

The PM’s office says: “The government will have the power to impose export controls on gas companies when there is a domestic supply shortage.” Yet to others it’s nothing short of a declaration of war, a war the PM cannot possibly win.

Turnbull fires back on Facebook, of course! His choice of social media rather than seeek any personal contact confirms her misgivings about his incapacity to consult or interact with her or any other Premier. He adds insult to injury.

“Queenslanders don’t want their politicians hurling abuse: they want them to deliver,” snipes one of the most over-promised and under-delivered Prime Ministers the nation has ever endured. Turnbull fails this leadership test, too.

Yet the week began so well. Buoyed by last week’s “Aussie Values” duet, a rustic air for dog whistle and saw, featuring Peter “two bob each-way” Dutton, Monkey Pod Room convenor and Abbott cup-bearer, Turnbull is upbeat.

Inspired by Gallipoli spirit, our FIFO, leadership-by-though- bubble-PM takes his Aussie Values show on tour to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Valiantly, despite an epic failure to identify a single uniquely Australian value, he uses an Anzac backdrop to proclaim:

“Australian men and women [are] defending our values, defending our liberties, keeping us safe.”

He’s hoping his Aussie values show is paving the way for a turnaround in his government’s low opinion ratings.  Labor polls 52 to the Coalition’s 48% two party preferred. Turnbull’s personal approval soars two whole points in a Newspoll delayed by Easter but held after his values gig. The Clayton’s crackdown on 457 visas may have helped.  He’s pumped.

Pumped? Thirty-two percent approve of Shorten’s performance. Turnbull’s on thirty-three. He’s off like a frog in a sock.

In a bold bid for Aussie hearts and minds, our feckless leader plumps for a quick tour of duty, upstaging even Phosphorous Jim Molan of Fallujah or Abbott knight, Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove, in the vanguard of our nation’s annual assault on the Anzac spirit. For one day of the year, Australia becomes the bullshit capital of the world.

Troy Grant supplies the soothing, ritual, sanctimonious chorus that no-one is grandstanding or political on Anzac Day.

“On April 25 we expect all Australians to stop and give thanks for the dedication of those before us who fought for the freedoms our country holds dear, and to those who continue in this tradition of service and sacrifice. Anzac Day is sacred, should be kept above politics and certainly not hijacked for grandstanding.”

Anzac Day has been political since its inception. Beyond the irony in his own PM’s Anzac grandstanding, or his own grandstanding, or countless others, beyond how “the freedoms our country holds dear” is contradicted by Grant’s edict on correct observance is a chilling example of how close our government chooses to come to a totalitarian state.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten, a veteran US lickspittle, visits PNG to help Cosgrove commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Kokoda campaign and the Battle of Milne Bay, a part of the New Guinea campaign in the Second World War.

Yet Turnbull goes over the top. As with the foreign policy of US Oligarch Baron Donald von Trump, whom he’s now scheduled to meet next Thursday on the USS Intrepid, a warship museum moored in the Hudson a long way away from any White House reception, it’s a wag the dog strategy, a foreign adventure to divert from domestic ineptitude.

Wardrobe is put on a war footing. Turnbull is kitted out in helmet and Kevlar vest to blitz our troops on the frontline of a US War on Terror in Afghanistan and Iraq. Battle-weary soldiers yawn and look on warily. Is he taking the piss somehow wearing that over the top outfit?

Few shake hands. Goodwill is conserved for battle. No-one sniggers openly, yet.

Turnbull has good news for the troops in Afghanistan, Australia’s $7 billion plus, thirteen year operation, its longest-war- that’s-not-its-war ever, is to have an extended season. He continues the absurd pretence that all US requests will be carefully considered. Yet the words he chooses leave little doubt that a troop increase is a foregone conclusion.

‘So it is going to be a long-term commitment and we will consider, with our allies in these conflict areas, … requests for further support and as it evolves, we’ll be looking at that.’ 

In other words, the show must go on, regardless of failure. Values? Our troops are endlessly expendable. It’s Kaiser Malcolm’s  deadliest piece of rhetoric yet.

Does he have any idea of the horrors of military service in “the graveyard of empires”? He should heed the warning signs. More soldiers take their own lives than have been killed on active duty in Afghanistan. The suicide rate among young male former defence personnel is twice the national average. Yet his government offers little real help.

The Coalition response to crisis is to order a feasibility study or trial.  It will “trial a suicide prevention initiative” in Townsville to help Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel. Surely, after fifteen years of US failure, it is time to reconsider Australia’s reason for tagging along, too?  Surely, Turnbull can see we are sending troops into harm’s way?

Defeat is staring us in the face. Afghanistan’s army suffered its biggest loss last week when insurgents overran a base near the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Reports state that “at least 100 soldiers” were killed.

Other reports have revised the figure to 140 while Taliban claim 500 were killed and injured. Trump’s administration is considering a Pentagon request to boost troop numbers but the plan sounds ominously like repeating Obama’s unsuccessful surge strategy.

The Obama administration increased US troop numbers in Afghanistan to 100,000 from less than 30,000. It also embarked on a “nation-building and counterinsurgency strategy” which it hoped would turn the war around in a few years. It failed. Afghanistan is torn between “a resolute insurgency and a kleptocratic, dysfunctional governing elite”.

In Iraq, our “Building Partner Capacity Mission” at Camp Taji, where we contribute 700 soldiers to a joint Australian-New Zealand operation to train security forces personnel and military police is a tribute to the spirit of Anzac.

As vassal states of our US overlord, Australians and Kiwis get to do the menial tasks behind the scenes. But the PM is undeterred.

Turnbull’s quirky bobble-head combat helmet and redundant, unfastened body armour may look more Stanley Kubrick meets Dad’s Army than intrepid Commander-in-Chief but at least he gets his boots on the ground. And into Tony Abbott.

Dressing fit to kill is the latest phase of the PM’s tactical battle to outflank Abbott, his nemesis in the costume wars, a guerrilla campaign of mutually assured destruction to decide the leadership of whatever remains of the Liberal Party.

Abbott now is regular guest sniper on 2GB Sydney radio since his old pal, Cronulla riot veteran, witch-ditcher 2GB’s Alan “chaff bag” Jones, got back his misogynist mike. Abbott also has a regular weekly spot with Ben Fordham’s “Drive time”.

Every other week he’s hazing with Ray. Hadley dropped “boring liar” Scott Morrison, he says, for standing him up for an ABC gig with John Faine and deceiving him about it.  Abbott was only too keen to slot right into his spot.

The phones have been running hot, Ray says, with praise for his decision, but he could have simply played a recording. Abbott will simply recycle the same old, dishonest empty cliches. Yet Hadley’s right about one thing. Morrison sucks.

“My listeners are sick of the obfuscation and non-answers he gives to almost every question.” Your listeners, too, Ray?

A broken record, Abbott bags Turnbull’s government for drifting left despite the PM’s self-eviscerating right wheel and about turn. The PM digs deep. He has to better an action-man predecessor who once stepped out of a SeaHawk chopper on to the deck of USS Blue Ridge in RAAF leather flying jacket and a pair of Douglas MacArthur aviator shades.

The pose led to some golden grovelling. Inveterate US camp follower, Abbott, called US troops a comfort to Australia. How grateful Australia was, too, he said, how thankful we all were for the work US forces did with Australian forces all around the world.

Our diggers were ever ready to follow the US anywhere and everywhere and at a moment’s notice; just say the word, he said. War is a captain’s call for a PM. No parliamentary debate nor evidence of WMD necessary.

Abbott’s baton is effortlessly taken up by Turnbull. Labor does not demur – even though Bill Shorten has called Donald Trump barking mad. Now we pledge unqualified military support, to a nation led by a golfing President who has trouble remembering how many missiles he fired on Syria, in a recent watershed AP interview. Or was it Iraq?

An utter lack of preparation for the Trump presidency has led to a dangerous inertia in the Coalition’s response to the incoherent bellicosity of The Donald’s foreign policy. Are we banking on his being taken captive by his Neocon advisers?

Neither prospect offers much reassurance. Turnbull shows little evidence of independence except to decline offers of a missile shield technology that is vastly expensive and almost totally unproven – yet another business coup for Boeing.

Our noble diggers are always up for a windy blast on Aussie values from any Prime Minister. Super-Mal’s blitzkrieg operation is kept under wraps, it is claimed, to protect the Prime Minister, but there’s a no sense the press have been left out of the loop. Not only is the war on Terror going well, our massive foreign aid is going gangbusters.

Why, in the last year alone, Australia’s aid programme in Afghanistan has helped enrol more than 5000 children in school, trained more than 9000 farmers and funded multiple women’s shelters.  We are doing a power of good.

Imagine what that aid could be if Hockey had not got to it. Despite being one per cent of all budget spending, Australia foreign aid, aka Julie Bishop’s ATM, has borne 25% of all government budget cuts from 2013-14 to 2018-19.

On the home front, Aussie Values foot soldiers are out in force. Local standard-bearer Senator Eric Abetz savages the values displayed by Yassmin Abdel-Magied whose ANZAC reflection on her Facebook page says “Lest. We. Forget. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)” She later deletes the political part of her comment and apologises.

Clear to Abetz is that Yassmin has failed “To understand the significance and high regard Anzac Day is held in our Australian culture” and for that ignorance she must resign from the Council on Arab-Australia Relations, (CAAR).

CAAR was set up by John Howard in 2003, the year the Australian Greens and Australian Democrats opposed military action in Iraq. It’s hard, given the context to think that his intentions had anything to do with free speech.

The Coalition has a track record of setting up hand-picked advisory bodies to fulfil its own purposes. Tony Abbott’s Indigenous Advisory Council also seems thin on representation; set up more to give government the advice it required.

It would do well to heed The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples Rod Little and Jackie Huggins who argue:

“Congress is and will be a much more valuable informant to the parliament than hand-picked individuals with lesser networks, knowledge or experience across matters impacting on our people on a daily basis.” 

Is it guided democracy? Rule by clacque? Clearly, some Australian values are yet to be formulated by the PM’s spin unit. Regardless, calls for Yassmin to resign are utterly unwarranted.

What is clear is that the orchestrated attack upon Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a vivid illustration both of an ugly intolerance  but a narrow-minded vigilantism which is deliberately courted by our government. Turnbull should offer a personal apology.

Intolerance is seen in Troy Grant’s semi-official nonsense and it is given unparalleled expression by our Minister for Immigration, sneaky Peter Dutton who maintains his assertion that the detention centre on Manus came under fire from some drunk local troops as a response to some form of sexual assault by detainees on a five year old Manus Islander boy.

Peter Dutton is contradicted on every detail of his account of the incident which he waited six days to report. When he did break his silence, he chose to utter a damaging smear against the asylum seekers themselves. Dutton’s behaviour has led to increased tension between those living in the centre and those in the community.

His conduct does not become a Minister and his witholding of information does not fit the code of ministerial responsibility. He has not excercised the duty of care his position demands. He has chosen to put his charges in harm’s way. He ought to resign immediately. Any other PM would be demanding Dutton stand aside at least.

Above all, the Minister’s strategy looks suspiciously like a stunt. Commentators note that the incident has all the hallmarks of another children overboard incident.

False claims that asylum seekers were throwing babies overboard helped John Howard demonise asylum-seekers in October 2001 and provided him with the notorious election-winning slogan “We decide who comes to this country.”

Repeatedly, Dutton claims to have access to other “classified information” which he has nevertheless seen fit to share with Andrew Bolt. PNG police chief David Yapu has tried to put the record straight but Dutton is not listening and irrevocable damage has already been done.

The 39 year old Afghan refugee who gave a young hungry boy some food provides a compelling account, an account which could well serve as a prompt to those, like Malcolm Turnbull, who are unable to articulate Australian values.

“I grew up in a country that had war and bombs and fighting and all of these things, and I was raised without a father. I experienced hunger, I experienced being thirsty, I experienced poverty, and I know how it feels for a child to be hungry. And when I see that, I cannot just close my eyes and not help.”

Turnbull needs to stop his mindless military urging and posturing and put away his cynical Aussie values dog whistle campaign to create a narrower, less tolerant society. Australians can see through his government’s stunts, distractions and evasions.

Above all, as the Queensland Premier puts it the nation is ill-served by a government which is arrogant and disrespectful, a government which is not genuine, a government which has lost its way.

Stop obsessing over Newspoll Mr Turnbull. Stop bluffing. Enough of the stunts. Call an early election. It’s the only honourable way out of your mess.

Good and Bad Debt from Dumb and Dumber

Finally something of interest came forth from the mouths of our good Prime Minister and Treasurer this week.  They began talking about good and bad debt. It sounded a bit like funny money, at first, coming as it did from two staunch economic conservatives who hate debt of any kind while having little understanding of it.

What they were trying to tell us, albeit quite badly, is that they see no way out of the debt (so called) spiral they have been taking us and want to redefine it in such a way that shelters them from the harsh realities of their own incompetence.

They have looked into the crystal ball, sought to find a way out of the mangled economic mess they have created and save some of what they think, is their credibility. In doing so, they have exposed their ineptitude even further.

As a former banker, Malcolm Turnbull would make a good janitor. As a former tourism director, Scott Morrison would make a good cleaner. Neither indicates that they have the slightest idea how money works.

This latest move on trying to explain the difference between good debt and bad debt is like a parent explaining to their five-year-old why they have a mortgage. The detail is right, so is the reasoning.

The problem is that the parents forget the number of times they told the child that money doesn’t grow on trees and how some things are not affordable. The result is an utterly confused child who thinks it’s all too hard and goes outside to play. And anyway, didn’t money come from daddy’s bank and mummy just kept it in her purse?

If ever we had proof of the level of incompetence Turnbull and Morrison have sunk to, Thursday’s announcement delivered it.

“It can be very wise for governments to borrow, especially while rates are low, to lock in longer term financing and invest in major growth producing infrastructure assets, such as transport or energy infrastructure,” Mr Morrison said.

Has it really taken them over four years in government to realise that? Where was this sort of thinking when they were crucifying Labor over the cost of the NBN? Where was this sort of thinking when Joe Hockey boasted he would return the budget to surplus in their first year? And how’s that working for them these days?

If yesterday’s announcement had come from Bill Shorten, just imagine the outcry from the unadventurous, mean-spirited, let’s screw the little guy to help our rich friends, conservative camp. How quickly would they have warned the nation against the reckless, high-spending, debt laden foolishness that we have come to expect from Labor governments. But there’s more….

“But to rack up government debt to pay for welfare payments and other everyday expenses, is not a good idea,” Morrison continued.

No, it’s not. So why don’t they do something about unemployment beyond talking about it? Why not put welfare recipients’ to work with a job guarantee? Why not demonstrate, in practical terms, how utilising idle resources (the unemployed and underemployed), by creating value-adding projects, can stimulate an economy and benefit the nation as a whole?

If last Thursday’s announcement about “investing in major growth producing infrastructure”, was a genuine mea-culpa from this mindless duo, one could be a little magnanimous and say better late than never. But that’s not their plan or their vision.

Like everything else they do, it’s all just cheap politicking. Their inability to articulate a sound platform for arresting the housing spiral has run its course and now they are trying something else. It sounds suspiciously like the budget numbers are revealing a bigger deficit than projected in the forward estimates and this has to be explained somehow.

So, without admitting their inability to stop the debt spiral (so called), they have decided to redefine debt. Their jealousy over state governments’ taking the credit for infrastructure projects financed with federal money is their first target. They want some (perhaps all) of the credit.

What hypocrisy! After spending the last four years flogging off anything that moved, these princes of privatisation want some equity in infrastructure. They now want to own stuff. Really? What brought about this 180 degree shift in thinking?

It’s the fear that the upcoming fiscal statement (the budget), will expose them as failures. They have looked into the crystal ball and seen their legacies trashed. They have decided to embrace debt rather than demonise it.

Well, that’s fine. Better late than never, but they still don’t understand it. They still think it has to be repaid. They still think money they create has to be repaid to someone. They still have such a long, long way to go and they will never get there until they understand the power of a sovereign currency issuer. They probably never will.

 

The Racist Agenda Was Made to Destroy The Working Class

The fear of ‘the others’ permeates everything lately. Social media, politicians, commentators and the mainstream media are enabling a culture of stigma and ‘othering’. Fear of people we don’t understand shuffles beneath the surface of individual thought.  These fears have a parasitic grip on beliefs, ideas and thought. It channels thought, word and deed through the prism of fear. This fear is a man-made construct, developed by conservatives to destroy the working class.  It can be framed as the pre-agenda of the real agenda. The real agenda for the conservatives is as always – to destroy the working class. The pre-agenda is to establish a base, through fear of others, to help them get there.

Racism, Fear and Work Choices

This pre-agenda was first tried in the 1990’s with the aim to support the real agenda. That was to see more people embrace Howard’s Work Choices. In the 1990’s the stigma and fear of Indigenous people and Asian people was developed with a particular aim. That is fear would grip people. They would turn to those speaking out loudest against Indigenous people and Asian people. This would then, see people turn to the Government’s ‘paternalist-guiding hand’ agenda. In other words, stand with the Government to destroy the unions and destroy the working class. Even better if you were working class yourself and you left the union.

It was not going according to plan. To save some face, Howard had to terminate his association with the person he mentored, developed and gave a platform to, to be the voice of the pre-agenda. The agenda of racism. A person so ‘brave’ her voice shook when she spoke. A person dressed as an everyday Australian suburban woman. The mother at school, the tuckshop lady, the shop owner, the corner store worker. The person we don’t really know but feel comfortable ‘having a chat to.’ This person was Pauline Hanson. Pauline Hanson was to be the very voice to create a culture of fear, stigma and racism. This fear was to be so great that people’s attention would divert away from the atrocity of Work Choices. So blinded by fear of others, they would support it. 

Work Choices Enabled

As history has shown us, this backfired. It was the wrong time and the wrong targets of racism for longevity. It did work in part. A conservative Government was in for four terms and the biggest defining piece of anti-worker legislation was enabled.

However, the uptake was not strong enough for people to be blinded to the plight of the worker and the destructive anti-worker policies put forward by the Howard Government.The Rights at Work movement was the light of the working class fighting against the darkness of Work Choices. Good trumped Evil and in 2007 the working class won. We are seeing no such movement today. No such swell of deep angst organising to take up the cause. The ‘fear of other’s’ is blinding people to the real agenda. There appears to be no lessons learnt from the Work Choices era.

The Agenda of Fear Enables Attacks on the Working Class

Prejudice, intolerance, bigotry, racism, hatred and xenophobia suck the life from rational decision-making like an insidious contagious disease.  Once it has obtained its grip, this fear underpins and drives people to agree and believe in political ideology and political direction and policies, they would normally not have agreed with or believed in. The fear that we must stay safe from ‘the others’ now underpins agreement. Agreement to attack the worker and demonise and denigrating the poor. Those who choose to do so defend this stance vehemently. They see this as the just thing to do. It does not matter what the consequences are.

The Howard Government, along with the Abbott-Turnbull-(?) Government underpins their policy decisions with the idea that the working class do not know what is good for the country. That is, to allow the free market to flourish, by allowing the owners of the capital to tell the owners of the labour what they will be paid, how they will work and the conditions they will work in. Not to stand in they way of big business.

This is a Disturbing Reality

The fear of others is so great that some of the people who fought against this in the 1990’s are not remotely interested in what is happening to the working class, the jobless and the poor. They are too busy battling the ghosts the agenda of fear has conjured. The conservatives appear to have chosen the right time and the right targets of racism and stigma.

Muslims, in the minds of the fearful, are far more frightening than Indigenous people or Asians. In the 90’s these targets of victimisation were “stealing our social security money, stealing our jobs and stealing our land.”  Today, in a nutshell, the belief among the fearful is that Muslims will take over the world and force us to become ISIS.”  

Therefore, they must seek solace in ‘the brave’ – find their ‘protector.’  When Pauline Hanson’s voice shakes today it sounds much more brave to fearful ears, as the fear is much more magnified today with Muslims as the target. Hanson is indeed much more appealing as a consoling leader, as she speaks the loudest and the media makes her the centre of attention, which reinforces her words as ‘normal and justified.’  This is a disturbing reality towards the success of the conservative agenda of destroying the working class.

Too Busy Battling Ghosts

Today in 2017, the fear of others is so great that some of the people who fought against Work Choices in the 1990’s are not remotely interested in what is happening to the working class, the jobless and the poor. They are too busy battling the ghosts the agenda of fear has conjured. The fear of things that may never, ever happen and are not happening underpins their decisions to support anti-worker, anti-welfare and anti-community policies. They will even argue that these things are not happening, although the nightly news will tell the stories of what has been passed in parliament and although they can watch both houses live. It is a case of blanket denial, because ‘Pauline stands up for us Aussies against those Muzzie Bastards – Have you even read the Koran?‘  

They will scream, yell, insult and rant at those who are awake to the fact that these policies are being passed and are deeply concerned about their implications, and call them liars or ‘too sensitive’.  They are practised at standing firm with everyone who agrees with them and calling it ‘the right’ and those who they shun and don’t agree with them ‘the left.’

For Hanson voters, Attacking Workers Is Pro-Worker

Hanson advocates appear to have a twisted belief that Hanson, a conservative, Christian, nationalist, ex-member of the Liberal party, who shows immense support for the Liberal Party and who wants to abolish all penalty rates, abolish holiday leave loading and voted for the ABCC, somehow is ‘for the worker.’ This would indeed make Hanson ‘left’ on the political spectrum.

Yes, the pro-working class voter of yesteryear, now see being angry at the passing of legislation that will increase worker deaths, where a worker has no right to silence, that removes mandatory employment of apprentices, that sees income ripped from low paid workers and harsh and unjust punitive measures on the jobless, as weak and ‘not concerned enough about ‘the others’ (who will destroy our freedoms). Workers rights have become secondary to many people who are actually good working class people, simply blinded by unfounded fear. That is a disturbing reality.

Right Time. Right Targets

This time, the conservatives appear to have chosen the right time and the right targets of racism and stigma. This is also a disturbing reality.

With so much talk about Australian values lately; attacking the worker and denigrating the poor were conservative agendas that people would fight tooth and nail against. It was against our values. They would rise up and join the struggle to ward off this narrative from becoming the norm.

The narrative of the pre-agenda is, however, strong and it has born an entirely new class of voters. Voters who are now welcoming these baseless attacks on the working class and the poor as ‘the new acceptable norm’.  Some choose to ignore the implications, such as anti-worker policy passing both houses. Others see it as a ‘sacrifice’ for the greater good, of staying safe and not letting ‘the others’ destroy us, take over our country, our jobs and our freedoms. 

Some of these people are true conservatives. Some are the non-union working class, some are union working class and some are jobless and/or are living below the poverty line. The majority of people within the ‘right wing agenda-Hansonite groupings’ supporting this ‘pre-agenda’ are the very people conservative politics attacks.

The Mini Resistance

The desire to keep fear and prejudice strong within individuals has now formed into a collective, via contagion and has formed into a mini-resistance.  It is suffocating the empathy and understanding of the plight of the worker, the jobless and the poor. There are those who were in the trenches with the working class in the 1990s, who are now fighting against the worker, shoulder to shoulder, embracing the enemy of the working class.

There are those who fight by shouting their prejudices and wearing them on their sleeve; angrily scream at anyone who dares to ‘not see the real truth.’ Their truth.

Then there are those who consciously or unconsciously deny their prejudices. They don’t want to say these things out loud. They just want to think them. Pauline Hanson, other conservative politicians, conservative commentators and the media will say these things for them. (She speaks for me). This gives them a new confidence to speak these prejudices out loud for the first time. To speak them gives a sense of reinforcement and belonging. For some, the feeling is almost euphoric. A relief beyond comprehension. They feel they are finally part of a collective. A resistance and that they ‘belong.’

This sense of belonging brings a sense of security and protection. A belief that if the ‘protectors’ – the one’s who are loudest attacking ‘the others’ will keep us safe from harm. However, it is through this false sense of reality, that real harm is being ignored, disbelieved. For some who have made the complete transformation to anti-working class – they embrace it.

The Racist Agenda. A Man Made Construct to Destroy the Working Class

What other anti-worker, anti-welfare policies will dedicated ‘Hansonites’ ignore, accept, condone and defend, all in the name of staying true and remaining loyal to the resistance that fights against minorities and speaks loudly to denigrate ‘the others?’

The racist agenda is a man-made construct developed as a pre-agenda to assist the conservative Government to destroy the working class. In 1996, “Howard’s Battlers” of the working class enabled the biggest onslaught on the working class we have ever seen. In 2017, “Pauline’s Battlers” are on the rise.

People must stop allowing the unrealistic fear of others to underpin and guide their beliefs, opinions, and decisions and take notice of the attacks on the working class. They must make a conscious choice. Support the workers and the jobless. Otherwise, support the Christian-Conservative Nationalist anti-worker agenda of Hanson and the rest of the right-wing parties. Supporting Hanson, the Liberals, The Bernardis, the Xenophons and Hinch, gives zero support to the working class.

Otherwise, this time, the conservatives may win and sustain real longevity. The attacks on the working class may completely destroy everything unionists and the working class have fought for, were jailed for and died for.

Astounding stupidity! Turnbull Liberals award contracts for the anti-gambling Welfare Card to gambling interests!

By Michael Griffin

The Turnbull Government claims, on the Department of Human Services website, that the cashless welfare card programme is:

an effective tool for supporting disadvantaged communities to reduce the consumption and effects of drugs, alcohol and gambling that impact on the health and wellbeing of communities, families and children.

Rarely can such rank hypocrisy and idiocy be seen in a government as that exhibited by Turnbull and his moronic LNP colleagues. Do they take the Australian people they purport to represent as complete morons? If so, they are surely mistaken because this little black duck is just one that is not convinced one little bit by their incompetent and corrupt nonsense.

The blatant stupidity and ideologically driven policies of the group of absolutely corrupt neo-fascist cretins who currently run my unfortunate country can nowhere be more evident than in the fact that the corporation to whom the contracts to manage and operate the cashless welfare card, with its purported philanthropic anti-gambling purpose, Indue, is now majority owned by a Hong Kong corporation, Stargroup, that has direct interests in and commercial dealings in, you guessed it, the very thing the welfare card program seeks to eradicate – gambling and casinos! What an astonishing fact! Such blatant stupidity and rank hypocrisy is almost unbelievable yet it is entirely true. Such a circumstance can only eventuate by carelessness and incompetence at a Ministerial level where the responsible minister has failed to do proper appraisals when awarding a lucrative government contract or by corruption arising from turning a blind eye to the obvious facts in the interest of obtaining a political donation from the company awarded the contract and the accompanying generous public funds as administrative fees.

The question is how can a government discourage gambling by rewarding an organisation that profits from it with lucrative contracts involving vast amounts of public funds? This is absurdity at its very highest!

On a visit to the Stargroup website one can read several updates of Stargroup’s purchase of Indue. The update to the purchase of Indue on the Stargroup website dated 11 April 2017 is an official Stargroup report to the Australian Stock Exchange and states the following:

Financial Technology and ATM machine company Stargroup Limited (ASX: STL) wishes to advise it and its wholly owned subsidiary, StarLink Pty Ltd, have made the part payment of $2,600,000 to Indue Limited in relation to the acquisition of its Automatic Teller Machine (“ATM”) switching, settlement, processing, telecommunications and reseller business which was required to be made on or before 14 April 2017.

In other words, Stargroup has purchased most of Indue and its business assets and will acquire the rest of Indue soon.

On the same website one can also read Stargroup’s annual report for 2016 which, at page 13, states the following:

Casino and Gaming Market – The Company will further benefit from the product development and growth within the casino gaming related products such as cash redemption terminals and gaming table automatic settlement products for the Australian market off the back of the NeoICP developments in Macau and other Asian casino gaming markets which were successfully rolled out by NeoICP in the 2016 financial year.

‘NeoICP’ is a Stargroup subsidiary in Asia – that is disclosed further in the same stock market update. The point is, Stargroup already has gambling interests in Asia and intends to also get into gambling in Australia very soon.

Astonishing as it may seem, Stargroup, the soon to be sole owner of Indue – to whom the ‘boy wonders’ of the LNP Tudge and Porter awarded the contracts for the management of the anti-gambling welfare card – derives its revenue from, and intends to extend its interests in, the very thing the welfare card is purportedly designed to discourage – gambling! Such ridiculous hypocrisy makes the mind boggle!

Why is it acceptable that the rich can gamble in luxurious resort casinos in Asia while pensioners and welfare recipients in Australia cannot even enjoy a flutter on the Melbourne Cup?  What’s the difference I ask? Is it not defeating the purpose of the welfare card program to condone gambling for one group but condemn it for another? Is this not rank hypocrisy or is it just plain stupidity and incompetence? Either of these are sufficient to warrant dismissal of the morons responsible.

Furthermore, prudent economic management would require that the risks posed to public funds by the welfare card contractual arrangements with Indue (aka Stargroup) are to be avoided. All government contracts with Indue should be cancelled forthwith! More than four billion dollars of public money could be at risk if the welfare card is extended to all welfare recipients. That does not include the welfare entitlements of Australian citizens that Stargroup via Indue will ‘manage’. That is $4 billion plus that could be used for the proper public purposes of health, education, training or debt repayment that would benefit all Australians and not on rewarding and lining the pockets of multinational corporate players with interests in gambling and that have a vested interest in the furtherance of gambling and with exposure to the risks inherent in gambling enterprises.

This is too ridiculous for words

Alan Tudge and Christian Porter are the ministers responsible for this ludicrous incompetent and deceptive stuff-up and have put public funds at risk by exposing them to an organisation up to its knees in the criminal infested Asian gambling market and with the associated risks that accompany gambling ‘enterprises’.

The ludicrous facts of this outstanding incompetence do not require any embellishment or enhancement by the techniques used in fake news or in the master works of comedic fiction for the astounding stupidity and hypocrisy behind it to be any more apparent than they already are and there is only one solution for it. TUDGE & PORTER MUST GO and the Turnbull Government must be sacked forthwith! How much more incompetent mismanagement and deception must the Australian people tolerate before the comedian of Kirribilli acts, resigns or is sacked?

Michael Griffin © 2017

 

Turnbull dogwhistles bigots while Trump bluffs and blusters.

Mr Turnbull identified Australian values as freedom, equality of men and women, the rule of law, democracy and “a fair go”, and claimed these were “uniquely Australian”.

“They are shared with many other democracies but they are in and of themselves unique. There’s something uniquely Australian about them,” he said.


A haze of fake tan and a whiff of panic hangs over Canberra this week as Malcolm Turnbull vows Australian values be put first. He plays an anti-migrant card to inflame the same blind fear of others as John Howard’s desperate lie of 2001 that asylum seekers were throwing babies overboard. 457 Visas will be scrapped to ensure that any migrant who gets an Aussie job can speak English. Pass an Aussie values test – even if he can’t define those values himself.

The fair go he speaks of certainly does not apply to women who as Michael Short reports continue to be paid less than men, on average $27,000 and $100,000 if we’re talking about executive salaries, according to Tax Office figures. The gender gap, on average 26,000 a year in wages, he reminds us, is unchanged after 20 years.

Australia’s take on a fair go and equality of opportunity ensures that it’s a blokes’ world where men have more power, earn more while women not only earn less and are more likely to be passed over for promotion. Women continue to carry out two thirds of all unpaid domestic work, three quarters of child care and 70 per cent caring for adults in Australia.  Unpaid childcare alone is estimated by PwC at $345 billion a year.

A fair go is a pet rhetorical device for our politicians. A fair go had a fair go from Kevin Rudd when he opposed Howard’s WorkChoices. Julia Gillard wove “mateship” into the skein when she spoke of the ways the NDIS could offer a fair go, a scheme now imperilled by our current government which pretends that there it is unfunded.

Turnbull gave it a whirl when he blathered on about tax reform in 2015. Menzies and Fraser also both hopped into it. It’s at best an appeal to fairness and justice. Equality of opportunity is in there, too. Clearly, however, it’s not something to be taken too seriously although the ten to fourteen per cent of Australians living below the poverty line would disagree.

Above all, Indigenous Australians whose life expectancy is lower than other Australians; whose children are more likely to die as infants; whose health, education and employment outcomes are poorer than non-Indigenous people would , sadly, have plenty of evidence to dispute the sincerity beneath the PM’s glib rhetoric. The irony for Malcolm Turnbull is that his trumpeting of Australian values, as Michelle Grattan points out, raises serious questions about his own.

Is he tapping into community fears; reaching out to ordinary Australians, widely believed to be Hanson supporters – spurned in an age of identity politics? Or is he willing, once again, to forgo his own beliefs to save his career?

There is nothing uniquely Australian about the values which Malcolm Turnbull is able to instance in a patronising interview with Leigh Sales on ABC 7:30, the PM reveals that respect for a woman with a different point of view is often conspicuously lacking. Indeed, viewers, would be forgiven for concluding Australian values include arrogantly talking over the top of your (female) interviewer and chiding, belittling or mocking your adversary’s commitment.

“I’m surprised you’re challenging this on the ABC,” he says. “I don’t think your heart’s in it actually, Leigh. I think you agree with me.” Daddy knows best, dear. Of course, if Turnbull were really concerned to preserve our uniquely Australian freedoms, he’d not only be practising what he preached, he’d be pushing for a bill of rights.

Instead, what’s clear is that his own heart is not in it. He’s toying with populist rhetoric. It’s also a dog-whistle to those who like Peter Dutton would have us believe, against all evidence, that migrants were taking our jobs. That all our problems are caused by people from other countries who don’t know Don Bradman’s batting average.

That’s it! He’ll set a harder test – only three tries allowed – as if migrants need further tests; as if the questions mean anything; as if any test which rests on cultural  assimilation is not at odds with even his lip service to multiculturalism.

Doubtless a focus group or a think tank told him this is how to win over Pauline Hanson’s fans. It’s not going to work. Yet there’s an awkward echo to Australia first. An orange ring around the rhetoric. An echo of the yam that talks.

The PM is, of course, paying homage to another weak, vainglorious lout, Donald Trump, who’s also muscling up, bigly.  Abruptly switching from America First or self-interested isolationism, to an intrusive, if not, trigger-happy foreign policy involving missiles and bombs, a violent right turn in desperate attempt to stem a rocketing disapproval in opinion polls, the Trump administration marks its hundredth day of chaos and dysfunction by picking a fight with everyone this week.

All the old foes cop a serve: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran. Russia’s “vassal” Syria is threatened with regime change. China must pull its spoilt brat, North Korea, into line; stop its “illegal activities” on the Spratly and Paracel Islands in The South China Sea. Pipsqueak Montenegro is pulled into NATO, adding an extra US base in Europe, antagonising Russia.

Yet a US alone in a world of threats is an illusion, a paranoid collective delusion. America’s real enemies are injustice, inequality and ignorance fostered, as in Australia, by a Neoliberal domestic policy which puts profits over people.

Trump promises “massive tax cuts” which would boost the rapid transfer of wealth from worker to capitalist, benefiting the top one per cent on average $214,000. Eight million low-income and single-income families would suffer financially.

It is not clear, however, that he will be able to deliver. Even Republicans – especially Republicans – want to see something revenue neutral. What he has accomplished is a Cabinet of billionaires and millionaires, the wealthiest in US modern history which stars Education Secretary Betsy de Vos, an opponent of state education, a woman who helped Michigan expand private schools with public funds. Students in Detroit now finish last in US tests of numeracy and literacy.

At the top, its role model is a president who knows no better than to claim in public that Korea was once part of China.  Not that it worries him. He has money. “Part of the beauty of me is that I am very rich”, he once told an interviewer.

We don’t care. US allies fawn approval. Mike Pence is feted by the Turnbull government this week as “wise and stable”.

Like Trump, who paid his own business $8.2 million out of campaign funds, Pence has also helped himself. 1990 campaign finance records show that Pence, then 31, was using political donations to pay the mortgage on his house, his personal credit card bill, groceries, golf tournament fees and car payments for his wife.  Not that it was illegal, then.

Turnbull may see this as wise and stable but it cost Pence an election. Public records also reveal as Governor of Indiana, Pence communicated with advisers through his personal AOL account on homeland security matters and security. Yet he’s despatched to Australia on a goodwill tour and to help us tell China to tighten the screws on North Korea.

It’s a rapid, dramatic change of role for the US. Exit stage left, Barrack Obama’s “pivot to Asia”. Enter stage right, Trump’s Team Heavy, a loosely affiliated gang of self-interested thugs united by their insecurity and a desire to kick heads.

Not that anyone can claim to have worked out Trump’s Foreign policy. It’s still a work in progress; a baffling, blustering incoherence based on boosting an already hugely unpopular, geopolitically ignorant President’s bellicose campaign rhetoric which usurps any rational policy based on negotiated mutual interest or calculated strategic initiative.

The US wants Russia out of Syria while it adds Montenegro to NATO.  Another link is added to a ring of bases it has established in spite of its 1990 agreement with Russia not to add a single one. It mouths off at Iran over its landmark nuclear test treaty. Iran, it says, is a threat to the entire civilised world. It’s a pivot to a hard core Neocon agenda which earns it gushing praise from a Turnbull government, desperate to arrest its terminal unpopularity by any means.

America’s reverse charm offensive is unique in US foreign policy history, at least in tone.  Cue VP Mike Pence, the smooth-talking former talk show hate radio host, who styles himself “Russ Limbaugh decaf” Hailed as a moderate, a safe pair of hands, (only by contrast with Trump?), Pence is an “evangelical social conservative“, a climate change sceptic determined to undo 40 years’ progress on abortion, gay rights, civil rights, criminal justice reform and race relations.

Anti-abortion, homophobic, Tea Party Pence is an oddball who won’t dine alone with any woman, a man who must have his wife by his side at events featuring alcohol. As a Congressman, he opposed federal funding to support HIV and AIDS sufferers unless it were matched by government investment in programs to discourage same-sex relationships.

Pence was one of only 25 Republicans to vote against George W Bush’s signature legislation No Child Left behind because he feared its Federal intervention in education. He visits Australia Saturday, with his family, to rapturous applause.

Turnbull is all over him like a rash. Over-zealous US sycophants feature large in the fawning over America that is our political leaders’ response to the US-Australia Alliance, an agreement which binds the US to do no more than consult with us in time of danger, but never has any PM been so keen to gush over a Vice President so far to his right.Â

Desperate for a bounce in the polls, in thrall to his own powerful conservative party rump, Turnbull dotes on Pence; rashly parrots US anti-China nonsense.

“The real obligation, the heaviest obligation, is on China because China is the nation that has the greatest leverage over North Korea,” Turnbull said. “It has the greatest obligation and responsibility to bring North Korea back into a realm of at least responsibility in terms of its engagement with its neighbours.” 

Does North Korea pose a problem for China? Noting its “medieval leadership” run by a family dynasty with “a habit of murdering its family members”, is problematic, Former Foreign Minister Bob Carr counters that China’s got less influence over North Korea than it has over any of its other thirteen neighbours on its 22,000 km borders.

China does fear, however, he says, that a DPRK collapse would leave US ally South Korea’s army on the Chinese border.

Yet nothing has changed in the behaviour of the leader of the DPRK. The only change has been Trump’s bluster.

Now that The Donald’s got his rockets off over Syria or Iraq, he’s not quite sure where, and the USS Carl Vinson is found to be nowhere near the Korean Peninsula but heading to Australia for war games instead, the confrontation is revealed to be a fake face off or a bluff, neither of which does much for Trump’s credibility. Nor our local media.

Our media eagerly, uncritically recycle the US show of force narrative and its dramatic brinksmanship. Is it a bluff or, perhaps, a double bluff, a signal that the Pentagon has no wish to let North Korea put the wind up it; spring a Thucydides trap? The risk or the trap is that the US will be drawn into war with China, as Karen Middleton notes.

Egg permanently on face Press Secretary, White House fall-guy, alternative factotum and, now, hapless casuist, Sean Spicer, is left to split hairs in the faint yet undying hope that he can claim black is white.

“The president said that we have an armada going towards the peninsula. That’s a fact. It happened. It’s happening, rather,’ he tells a scowl of reporters. “We never said when it would get there.” He could have made a virtue of a calculated delay. When we’ve finished bowls worked for Drake in 1588. But Trump’s White House is in 1984 mode.

War is Peace, Freedom is Slavery, Ignorance is Strength and Spicer is credible in the Orwellian world of modern politics.

While The Donald’s armada is found and turned around, our nation’s appetite for hate is regaled, ad infinitum, by a volley of shots of North Korea’s missile exhibitionism.

Scenes of last Saturday’s DPRK massed parades and assorted military porn help imprint an image of a “reclusive, rogue state” which is, paradoxically, never too shy to threaten nuclear Armageddon or put its people in gulags worse than anything Australia has on Manus or Nauru.

At least, that’s how our press packages its hate, served up with double-helpings of demonisation and lashings of fear.

Sample questions are produced to illustrate the type of thinking that will keep us safe from those who don’t share our values. Oddly they are all aimed at Muslims. Fear of 457 fraudsters, a type of visa which is all Labor’s fault, is whipped up in Canberra. Happily our heroic PM will save the day. Clean up Labor’s mess. He’ll rebadge the visa. It’s name will change and there will be some tinkering but the changes will affect only nine per cent of current 457 visa holders.

The PM hoses down any expectations his government’s budget will do anything except talk about housing affordability. It’s re-run of his all talk and no show tax summit.

Not talking, however, Monkey-Pod Top Banana, Immigration Minister and Border Enforcer, former Queensland drug squad copper Peter Dutton puts report of PNG soldiers shooting at asylum seekers on Manus on Good Friday down to a payback for sexual abuse of a young boy. It’s a rumour he starts. His facts are wrong.

But he’ll leave the commentary to others, he says, deflecting any questions.

Dutton should resign. He’s prejudiced any inquiry on Manus. He’s smeared asylum seekers’ motives as John Howard might. The implication of sexual abuse is a despicable attempt to blame the shooting on the victims.

It would seem, moreover, Dutton’s got the date wrong, the boy’s age wrong and that he’s refusing to admit PNG police evidence. He’s conflated two incidents. The boy who entered the camp was begging for food and was given some fruit.

Interviewed on ABC’s Insiders, Sunday, Peter Dutton won’t hear Barrie Cassidy’s protest that the incident involving a young boy was a separate matter; a week apart from when asylum-seekers were fired upon by an intoxicated mob of PNG solders after a football match at which asylum-seekers had refused to leave the field , according to local police. Dutton perpetuates the lie that the centre is run by PNG, to dodge responsibility for an unsafe environment.

The only proper solution would be to bring the asylum-seekers to Australia and out of harms’ way but Peter Dutton’s more interested in blaming the ABC for “commentary”. It’s un-Australian to expect him to account for his actions.

In the deeper international waters of intolerance and mindless enmity, however, a Leni Riefenstahl Logie goes to MSM, for its sensational scenario of a North Korea a goose step away from world annihilation, in a televisual extravaganza set up to loop endlessly, effortlessly across our screens, as George Orwell foresaw, a cheap and easy means of social control in a world of fear, hate and scarcity made possible by perpetual war. Neocons take a bow.

News editors are spoilt for choice of long-running conflict. There’s more dirt to dish on Syria as it dives for Russian cover, fear that ISIS will link with Al Qaeda in Iraq while Iran is back in the US hit list as public enemy number one.

After a cordial meeting with US Saudi leaders and pals who fund and export extremism, Rex Tillerson accuses Iran of being the mother of all evil with its alarming and ongoing provocations that “export terror and destabilise” the world.

“Allowing this dictator to have that kind of power is not something that civilised nations can allow to happen,” says Paul Ryan Speaker of US House of Representatives. He’s talking about North Korea’s Kim but it’s a nifty confection of moral outrage that would suit any number of contemporary US allies including Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who seized power in a coup and killed more than 800 protesters in a single day.

A similarly US-favoured strong man is Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan whose recent referendum win means a sidelined parliament and judiciary. Erdogan can now just get on with the business of growing the economy, cracking down on dissent and providing arms and other support to Jihadists in Syria.

Allowed far too much power, nominal leader of Rogue Superpower US President Donald Trump swears, on the other hand, he’ll put an end to nasty North Korea’s nuclear testing all by himself if he has to. Horrible. “The shield stands guard and The sword stands ready,” fearless leader, dimes in his sidekick, bloodless hulk VP Mike Pence, a villain fresh from a Marvel Comic Universe. International law? We make the rules, boss.

The words get worse. The “era of strategic patience” is now over. Why, he’ll even snatch Kim’s missiles out of a falling sky, while as for Syria, bad-ass Bashar al Assad will get his regime changed on him any day now. Or sometime soon. OK.

Will North Korea launch a nuclear attack? Can China tighten the screws on its wayward neighbour, the DPRK? Will Iran prove itself the mother of all evil by pursuing its own nuclear programme? Can Bashar al Assad continue to defy Trump’s threats of regime change? Will Russia take Trump’s Tomahawk hint and pull out of Syria?

The essence of US foreign policy currently is to keep everyone guessing. What is clear, however, is that beneath the spin, the bluff and bluster and the breathless, apocalyptic reporting is a president whose opinion ratings are at record low.

Only 41.9 percent of Americans approve of Trump’s performance as President. 52.3 percent disapprove, according to the FiveThirtyEight aggregate of polls. Polls from swing states similarly show Trump’s approval rating under water, making him the least popular newly elected president in decades.

Most reassuring – but not to The Donald was that national polling showed that after his Syrian attack, euphemistically referred to everywhere as a “strike”, his polls remain flat. Trump is enough of a dud and a disappointment already to be denied the traditional bounce in approval enjoyed by presidents after ordering military action.

Turnbull should take note. Yet this week his grandstanding and dog-whistling on Australian values and his 457 visa rebadging stunt together with his embarrassingly over exuberant greeting of one of the least distinguished and most disturbing Vice Presidents ever to reach our shores is a signal that our PM’s in full panic mode.

As with our great and powerful friend, the US, Australia’s voters are not going to be fooled by a random attack of misty-eyed patriotism or any con-job about Aussie values. Another babies overboard in disguise at this late stage will not help a government which is so divided, so uninspired and so poorly led it just cannot deliver.

Spare us the embarrassing rhetoric, Mr Turnbull. Your frenzied embrace of a fair go and an Aussie freedom, you and your government are not remotely committed to betrays a lack of good faith and good judgement.

Similarly your adulation of Mike Pence and all he represents will do you no favours. Above all, your supercilious and patronising response to Leigh Sales on the 7:30 Report betrays your real values. Australians, especially women can spot a con.

Give up the fear-mongering. The enemy is not the migrant or the asylum seeker or the terrorist. It is within the neoliberal policy of your government which puts profit before people, a government which wages war on the poor and provides tax cuts for the rich.

Australia doesn’t need a new citizenship test. It does need a government which can honour its commitment to meet the needs of its people.

This means providing access for all to good health, welfare and education; ensuring equal opportunities, equality and justice for all; a fair go for all, if you like, but not just more empty talk or posturing while your policies deny these rights.

Day to Day Politics: They may survive on life support.

Saturday 22 April 2017

1 It was calculated that with a Newspoll due on Monday that the blatantly racist political moves on Citizenship and 457 visas would cause a lift in the polls for the Coalition and the Prime Minister.

Although both were announced with all the characteristics of a party at war with itself, it could nevertheless be argued that there are those in the community who would have been impressed.

Enter Tony Abbott with a now weekly engagement with Ray Hadley and the Newspoll agenda was sabotaged.

Not happy with Abbott’s interview where he called on the Government to change policies and embrace more conservative principles the Prime Minister wasn’t happy.

“I’m not interested in personalities or politics of that kind.”

Then one of two people, Tony Nutt or Malcolm Turnbull leaked on the former Prime Minister with regards to his re-election prospects at the last election and by Friday it had turned into an all in brawl. Abbott called the leak ”sneaky and underhand”.

Of course the PM has vehemently denied that he and the former prime minister were engaged in “open warfare” Mr Abbott was entitled to his view said the PM.

Cabinet colleague Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network Mr Abbott went on the attack on Thursday against “self-serving” leakers, following revelations Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to be drafted in to save his political hide during the 2016 election.

On 7.30 Thursday in Lee Sales interview with Turnbull, two important questions arose. The first was when she asked “If we were are the most successful multicultural country in the world, why are these changes necessary.” He simply avoided the question and moved unto Australian values of which he had no idea how to define other than they were unique to us. Bullshit of course.

“Freedom, equality of men and women, mutual respect, the rule of law, democracy, a fair go — that’s our Australian values,” he said. But are these not universal human values.

“There is something uniquely Australian about them. We’re proud of them. We’re committed to them. We should celebrate them and we should put them at the core of becoming an Australian citizen.”

Really? Maybe they should be at the very core of becoming an Australian politician.

It was all an exercise about image or lack of it. The second one was when Sales asked him to characterize himself and he botched it because he didn’t know what his values were.

Chris Ullman writing for the ABC put it this way:

”He has clearly greatly disappointed many in the community who invested faith in the obvious intellectual talents he brings to the top job.

To date he neatly fits James Russell Lowell’s famous and unfair criticism of Edgar Allen Poe — that he had written some verses “quite the best of their kind, but the heart somehow seems all squeezed out by the mind”.

”Unable to define himself, Mr Turnbull has been defined by others and found wanting against his past words and deeds”.

Labor’s shorthand for him has stuck — an out-of-touch rich toff who doesn’t believe in anything.”

In the interview the PM expressed incredulity that his proposals had been viewed cynically by the electorate which of course caused me to wonder just how many real folk he met on a daily basis.’

Or does he have such a high opinion of himself that he believes we trust him? How silly.

Anyone who could say that he trusted ‘’the ”wisdom and judgment” of Trump and Pence by virtue of uttering the phrase leaves himself open to having no values.

He said to Sales:

”I’m surprised you’re challenging this on the ABC,” he said. “I don’t think your hearts in it actually, Leigh. I think you agree with me.”

It is well-known that Mathias Cormann had an all in brawl with Abbott about playing as a team but it appears Tony wasn’t listening.

”We have to ensure, working as a strong and united team, that we don’t help inadvertently Bill Shorten become prime minister”

”because that would be very bad for Australia.”

”All of us would love to be able to focus on the significant policy legacy of the Abbott government, I’d like to be able to do that.”

“Able to be interpreted as undermining our efforts to be able to provide strong and effective government and to maximise our chances of being successful at the next election.”

Now they are talking about bringing in former Prime Minister and manipulator, of all things political, John Howard to sort out the problems. Why not Mr Fixit you ask. Well he was unavailable. He had taken leave to question his values.

Prissy Pyne said on Chanel 9 that he doesn’t know and doesn’t care if Mr Howard is enlisted.

Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network Mr Abbott went on the attack on Thursday against “self-serving” leakers, following revelations Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to be drafted in to save his political hide during the 2016 election.

Asked on Friday whether it was annoying to have Mr Abbott interrupting him from the backbench, Mr Turnbull said there were many potential distractions in his job.Values might be another.

Veteran MP Liberal MP Warren Entsch also got stuck into Abbott saying his backbench colleague hasn’t kept his word.

“He was going to step down graciously, he was going to serve in the best interests of the country, but he was not going to do a running commentary, he was not going to be political. Well, it’s been anything but that.”

“I look forward to all the members of my party room, all the members on the backbench or the frontbench, working together and getting out there and talking about the success of the government’s policies,”

It seems that whatever decisions are taken, whatever policies developed that they are overshadowed by Abbott’s opinion and the internal differences of left and right. At the moment it would appear that the internal bickering is pulling the party apart with the right-wing extremists seemingly having the upper hand.

During their term of office, and despite their claims to the contrary, they have not produced anything noteworthy in terms of policy. The whole of their time seems to be spent thinking up announcements that might improve the publics image of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the country stands still while Turnbull moans.

2 I have written that Tony Abbott is beyond doubt the greatest lying politician this country has ever seen. If that be true then Peter Dutton must surely take the prize for the sickest. What a vile vomitus man he is. His latest attempt to paint asylum seekers on Manus Island as pedophiles is beyond belief

“There was an alleged incident where three asylum seekers were alleged to be leading a local five-year-old boy (the boy was 10) back toward the facility and there was a lot of angst around that,” Dutton told Sky News.

“I think there was concern about why the boy was being led, or for what purpose he was being led away, back to the regional processing centre, so I think it’s fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly.”

Read this comment by Terry2 on my post yesterday:

Peter Dutton said that the recent disturbances at the Manus Island Detention Centre were due to some refugee inmates being seen escorting a five-year old local boy into the centre : Dutton was clearly blowing a dog-whistle implying that there were issues of pedophilia, after all they are foreigners and they tried to come here by boat.

The officials on Manus have now said that there is no truth in this and that an instance where a ten-year old boy went into the detention centre – the centre is unlocked between dawn and dusk to convey the cynical Dutton deception that these people are not actually detained – looking for food was given some fruit by the detainees and then escorted back to his parents.

Dutton is a despicable individual and to think that some say he is being groomed to take over from Turnbull and lead this country is just too sickening to contemplate.

You can read a full account of the incident in The Guardian. My concern is to expose the former copper for the vile excuse of a human being he thinks he is. He should resign over this incident. He is unfit to serve as a Minister in any government.

3 The other thing that will cloud Mondays Newspoll will be the revelation that there are so many politicians soaking up our money by virtue of capital gains on property.

My thought for the day.

”We should always be careful when speaking of values lest our own come into view”

 

 

Telstra’s copper network was almost dead 15 years ago, and they knew it

The internet can be a goldmine of little gems. And dig away, you might strike a little gem or two. Like these:

In October 2013 (then Communications Minister) Malcolm Turnbull announced the appointment of former Tesltra boss Ziggy Switkowski as NBN Co to lead a three-person board overseeing the national broadband network.

In his inaugural appearance at a Senate Estimates hearing, Switkowski said Telstra’s copper network is ‘robust’ and has been well-maintained for decades. Concerns expressed about the network not being up to being the basis for a FttN NBN, he added, were “misinformed”. He stressed that:

The copper network has been in place for a long time. It’s constantly being maintained, remediated, upgraded.

We are all too well aware of the criticism of the government’s NBN which is provided through Telstra’s copper network; an antiquated alternative to Rudd’s NBN.

But it was remarkable to hear Switkowski’s glowing praise of the copper network when compared to what Telstra had to say about it in 2003 while he was chief of the telco:

Telstra will replace its century-old copper wire phone network with new technology within the next 15 years, saying the ageing lines are now at “five minutes to midnight”.

Telstra executives revealed the problem at a Senate inquiry into broadband services on Wednesday.

Go figure.

I guess Malcolm must have changed his mind for him.

 

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