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Day to Day Politics: A party full of liars.

Sunday 24 April 2016 – 71

1 On NEWS 24 on Saturday morning I listened intently to yet another interview with Greg Hunt. I have previously called him the Coalition’s second biggest liar after Tony Abbott. He was typically using his best flamboyant language to say that Australia is the envy of the rest of the world for its direct action on climate change. As usual he was lying by omission. When asked about a recent declaration by the independent Climate Change Authority that Australia would have to decrease its emissions by 40/60% if it was to achieve its future targets he simply ignored the question and continued on with the absurd suggestion that we were, more or less, the world’s best performers .

In spite of all the science that has placed the problem beyond any reasonable doubt people need to recognise that half of the Coalition still don’t accept the evidence of climate change. This week we had the Attorney General (the same Senator who cannot use a computer) saying that the science is still unsettled.

Most of us accept evidence based, peer tested, evidence. There are three cohorts of people who don’t. Luddites like Brandis, religious nutters, and capitalists who worship profit before people.

The vast majority – in excess of 97 per cent – of scientific papers on climate change agree its causes are primarily man-made.

CSIRO Chief Larry Marshall said:

“The question has been answered, and the new question is what do we do about it, and how can we find solutions for the climate we will be living with.”

Senator Nash, who happens to be responsible for regional development, told Sky News there were “varying views” on climate science and she was of the opinion it was still up for debate.

An observation.

Asked where the Paris deal left Australia’s climate change policy, the expert adviser to the former government Professor Ross Garnaut said: “Exactly where it was before the US-China announcement – up shit creek.”

So how does a leader with firm well known supportive views on the subject cope with so many deniers in his party? Well the answer is he doesn’t. He allows them to lead him.

2 And the leader himself lies about the affect Negative Gearing will have on the value of peoples homes. His deputy lies about Labor’s debt. The Treasurer and his assistant use goobly gook words to confuse people about the state of the economy,ignoring the fact that there was a Global Financial Crisis and that they have themselves increased our debt substantially.

3 Not to be outdone in the lying stakes Sophie Mirabella, the bride of bitchyness, in a debate with other candidates for the seat of Indi says that her party withdrew $10million dollars allocated to the local hospital because she didn’t win.

Of course logic tells you that had that money been available it would have been a policy in her campaign. Her contemptuously  outrageous statement will probably cost her any chance of winning the seat. What it has done however is to reinforce the perception that unless you live in a marginal seat then your vote doesn’t count for much.

I live in the seat of Gippsland. The city of Traralgon is currently experiencing rapid growth. It requires a new swimming complex and arts district. On many occasions I have said that until the seat becomes marginal that it’s wishful thinking. The current Member is Darren Chester who holds the seat by around 14 per cent. In the last reshuffle he was made Infrastructure Minister. Guess what?

4 On other matters Bill Shorten has said that Labor will accept the umpire’s decision on Penalty Rates which will be handed down at some point during the campaign. It will probably go against the grain and upset the Union Movement but as he says:

“I’ve said I’ll accept the independent tribunal,” “just like that”, it was ultimately up to the commission” he said.

“I’ve got my opinion. At the end of the day though, the way minimum wages get set in this country is through evidence, it’s through the submissions of workers, their representatives and employers.”

5 A small but important point from the last IPOS Poll suggests that Labor needs to do more to attract the young vote.

At 32 per cent, the Greens’ primary vote among 18 to 24-year-olds is seven points ahead of the Coalition and just one point behind Labor’s 33, highlighting the century-old social democratic party’s problem with losing voters from the left.

Labor’s vote is 20 points down from its peak of 53 per cent in mid-2015, the height of the Abbott government’s political woes.

It was only a very small sample but never the less is a concern. It does also of course reflect just how unpopular the Coalition is with the young.

6 This week’s final Crickey Bludger Tracker combined poll analysis has the Coalition on 50.1 and Labor 49.9

“It’s close but no cigar for Labor in the latest reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, which projects the Turnbull government grimly hanging on to a parliamentary majority.’’

My thought for the day.

It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who dont’.

 

Day to Day Politics: I have never seen them so angry. The nutters I mean.

Saturday April 9 2016

1 The Crickey BludgerTrack analysis of combined polling this week has it 50.8-49.2 to the Coalition.

After a few weeks where it appeared the trend to Labor had tapered off, the BludgerTrack poll aggregate records a solid nudge to Labor this week on the back a Newspoll result crediting it with a 51-49 lead. BludgerTrack doesn’t go quite so far, but it does have the Coalition losing a full point off the primary vote since last week.

There is much happening on all social networks. The fact that things are not going well for the government is reflected in the angriness of the right-wing commentary. Even The Australian has been giving the Government a bit of stick.

I myself have taken a bit of a battering this week on some Facebook pages that purport to be discussion pages.

Every day I write my opinions on a variety of subjects. They are my own thoughts based on my political philosophy, many individual and collective influences, and my world view based on 75 years of living experience.

On some Facebook pages it’s astonishing just how many on the right of politics swear blind they never read, would never contemplate reading my work, so abhorrent it is to them. Then they go on to opine about it.

Whatever intelligence I might have affords me no understanding of this.

Here is an example after I questioned an individuals civility.

‘Far from it John, I am being very tame given it is social media. You should see the real me when it comes to people like you. You represent everything that caused over 100 million deaths last century. I think it is funny the very thing that allows me to tolerate you is the very thing you are trying to destroy. You seem so proud of what you are. Don’t be :-)’

And for the things they say about this blog. Well I’ll leave it there.

2 It has now become apparent that the future of the Government sits with the budget. A budget that has two competing requirements. Firstly one that addresses spending.

This is a budget that is critical to the future of Australia. The Abbott/Turnbull government have blamed Labor for all manner of things and promised to fix everything. The have said that revenue is not the problem, spending is. They have committed to cutting spending without raising revenue.

Everything that was once on the table and presented as a grand plan has been swept from it. The budget has become the plan.

A leading player on the right, Cory Bernardi said the Government’s priority was ‘getting the budget back in the black and making government sustainable’.

No we cannot continue to spend more than what we earn.

Bernardi went on:

‘This is a critical budget for the future of the country. It’s a critical choice for the future of the country because we cannot continue on spending 50 or 60 billion a year more than we have in income and taking further income in is not the answer.’

The Government has placed itself between a rock and a hard place. Its ideology demands that it doesn’t hurt its own constituency. That is why it won’t address the revenue issue. It’s called votes.

Barry Cassidy in an article for The Drum makes my second point with this comment.

‘But can the Treasurer fashion a budget that does all that and also serves as the political document that saves the day? Can it be both economically tough and politically pragmatic?

I don’t think so. And I might put this question.

How can the Government, given the unscrupulous behaviour of the corporate world possibly argue for tax breaks for business in the budget and at the same time ignore the ordinary punter.

3 The Governments main thrust of attack has been centered on Union corruption. Parliament is being recalled at an enormous cost to debate the ABCC legislation.

The waters of this debate have been muddied this week with the release of the Panama papers, serious allegations of corporate cheating globally, and the atrocious behaviour of some of our banks.

And of course the appalling management of Arrium reminds us that the corporate world has taken an almighty hit this week. The government on the one hand cannot be seen to be Union bashing whilst on the other be seen to be condoning the behaviour of their corporate mates.

An observation.

A strong banking system is vital for the Australian economy but it shouldn’t be a licence for corporate economic immorality.

4 The Labor Party has taken the lead with an announcement on Friday that there will be a Royal Commission into the financial sector if it wins office.

The Government throws a tantrum saying there is no need. That ASIC and other regulatory bodies have adequate powers to deal with the issues.

Which of course raises the question that if they are doing their job of regulating why are we seeing scandal after scandal relating to financial services.

A friend, Russell Green, on Facebook posed this question.

‘At the risk of harping on a well-worn record. Given the events of the past few months with regard to companies and individuals not paying any tax, regardless of its legality, and the subsequent release of the “Panama Papers”, the time has come for governments to give up on income taxes and pursue transaction taxes instead. Income Tax has become optional in the eyes of many. Whereas transaction taxes are in fact very collectible. As it is the institutions themselves that collect and pass on the tax. This form of taxation would be extremely difficult to avoid. In simple terms get rid of all income and company tax. And replace with a percentage, whatever is able to replace that lost revenue, of each transaction. Keep the GST at 10% but make it on everything. This would have the effect of destroying the tax avoidance industry; stop the need for negative gearing; the cost of doing business would be that; and Australia would become a tax-free haven. There would be so much to gain. The only people who would be fearful of this are those that stand to lose what they currently avoid by devious means.’

Make any sense or just food for thought.

5 Finally. Even after yet another report and subsequent findings into parliamentarian’s expenses we still find politicians feeding themselves from the public purse.

Barnaby goes one better than Bronny chartering two $4000 helicopter rides to visit a village near his electorate office.

Then today we find it’s actually four.

On top of that we find that other are paying off their Canberra homes on the public purse using their travel allowances..

These are some of the culprits.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, Social Services Minister Christian Porter, Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion and Assistant Defence Minister Michael McCormack.

They stay in houses or apartments they own and claim the travel allowance when in Canberra, which can work out at a minimum of $1000 a week or $18,000 a year.  That’s it I have had enough.

My thought for the day.

Never confuse what you want with what you need’

 

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

Saturday 2 April 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Turnbull said:

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

Really? That statement smacks of privilege.

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

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

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

An observation.

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

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

Maybe you have some thoughts.

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: My after Easter catch up. Bolt looks to Sky.

Tuesday 29 March.

1 After a short break it’s a bit difficult to know where to start, Oh well, let’s start with Bolt. After 5 years of poor ratings with ‘The Bolt Report’ on 10 it seems he is looking to the sky with a nightly program. Ten apparently refused to continue funding his ratings disaster.

Monday to Friday he will cover his set topics of Racism, Free Speech, Muslims, National Defence, Tony Abbott, George Pell and Climate Change.

He will interview a stream of compliant guests who will undoubtedly agree with him. He will critique the media and politicians which of course means those who disagree with him and while doing so opine about the news of the day. He will preach to a smaller Sky audience but a more agreeable one.

Bolt said:

“The worst thing of any of the jobs I’ve got, whether it’s the newspaper, radio or TV, is trying to get guests on … You go from being fearless to supplicant! The big question is, will Malcolm Turnbull come on?”

He has trouble getting guests. No, he can’t be serious.

An observation.

We have so much to learn from people we disagree with that it’s a wonder we don’t do it more often.

2 Bolt’s fellow right-winger Cory Bernardi in the meantime has raised the prospect of a split in the Liberal Party by laying the background for a new Conservative party. It’s clear to anyone who takes an interest in politics that internally the party is split into two groups. The Neo Conservative, Tea Party types, and old style Small L libs. Tim Costello got it right when he said the party was two parties in one. It’s a battle royal for the ascendency.

As it stands, despite have a leftish leader, too weak to lead, conservative policies are having their way. There are many examples of this. Only last week they shelved a promise to announce the plebiscite question on Marriage Equality until after the election. The extremists are having their way. They want to frame the question to their own liking.

Tony Abbott is forging ahead with his own right-wing agenda openly critical of anything outside of his own legacy, highlighting meetings with world leaders as he travels and he intends campaigning in his own right. What he misses of course is the extent of his own unpopularity.

John Hewson suggested:

“He won’t go away, so I think you give him a role. Define the role very carefully and encourage him to be judged by his performance.”

As if he would take a role that in any way diminished his ego.

Former Howard Minister Peter Reith suggested he keep his head down lest he lose his legacy.

3 Former Labor minister Craig Emerson hit the mark when he said it was strange the prime minister had left the timing of the next election in the hands of four senators “who hate his guts”.

“That’s a master stroke, apparently” Emerson said.

However, late on Monday it was reported that Turnbull was in discussion with Senator Day about extending the Legislation to include other forms of corruption. Something Glenn Lazarus has been suggesting for months. If this compromise is reached and the bill passed if would make a mockery of wanting to be rid of the cross bench senators because our democracy wasn’t being served.

4 On top of all their other worries they still have the problem of Arthur Sinodinos to deal with. By any measure, including the pub test, Arthur doesn’t pass. It simply beggars belief that when he was finance director of the Liberal Party that he didn’t know about the intricate scheme to channel loads of illegal donations to his party.

His evidence at the ICAC enquiry was astonishing. It seemed that the poor Senator had had an early onset of dementia, so bad was his memory. In fact one has to wonder how a person with such a poor memory could possibly serve in any capacity.

Surely now it’s time for a national ICAC.

Once these accusations surface they usually have a way of growing legs of their own, with an inevitable guilt ridden conclusion.

It’s all very well for Mike Baird and the PM to say just fess up and reveal who the donors were, but the implications in doing so may be very bad indeed if favours are seen to be involved.

5 I have often wondered why it is that politicians address each other as honourable when it is obvious to most that they are not.

They are certainly not honourable when it comes to their expenses and the recent findings suggest that the proposed changes supported by the Government won’t make the less so. The proposed changes are an improvement but superficial at best.

Lenore Taylor put it this way:

“Question: When are expenses legitimate? Answer: When the politician says so.”

The report has yet to reach any conclusion about Bronwyn Bishops rorting of the system. In the meantime she hasn’t yet chosen an artist to paint her portrait to hang in Parliament House. Hope you’re sitting down. The cost is $30,000.

My Thought for the day.

“Those who cannot forgive are foolish but equally so are those who seek to forget.”

 

Day to Day Politics: It’s really play school but they call it “Question Time”

Saturday 19 March 2016

Question Time in the Australian Parliament is an insult to the intelligence of reasoned people. Although it is only watched by those with a professional interest or political tragics like me, it is nonetheless the prism through which the Australian public form a perception of their politicians.

Now and then news services showcase Question Time, and voters are left wondering if it’s for real or just a group of bad actors auditioning for play school.

It is devoid of wit, humour, words of intelligence and those with the eloquence and debating skills to give them meaning. Mostly it embraces a maleness that believes in conflict as a means of political supremacy over and above the pursuit of excellence in argument.

Question Time under former Speaker Bronwyn Bishop degenerated into a bear pit of mouths that roared with hatred. The Speaker gave the appearance of disliking men with a bitchy witchlike headmistress’s loathing more suited to an evil character in a Disney movie than a democratic parliament.

Her demeanour was obnoxious, threatening and deliberately intimidating. She was consciously biased to the point of dismissing legitimate points of order out of hand. And in a mocking manner that lacked any dignity and grace. In doing so she gave the impression of a women obsessed with herself and her party rather than acting in the impartial manner the position demands. All with an authoritarian sharp-edged sarcastic manner calculated to make her subjects cringe. Her condescendingly belligerent manner lacked the civility required for reasoned discourse.

Unlike speakers before her she attended her party’s parliamentary meetings to listen and be advised of tactics in order to respond accordingly. Anything to humiliate the opposition. There can be no other reason for doing so. In addition she regularly used her offices for party fund-raising functions. Something previous speakers would never consider.

She threw out the ‘standing orders’ and invoked her own set of rules. Particularly when it came to relevance, sometimes ignoring points of order or dismissing them out of hand. She even allowed Ministers to continue talking when points of order had been raised, pretending to not to notice members at the despatch box. Answers were allowed that were so far removed from the question asked that one could be excused for thinking one had a hearing difficulty.

All in all she so corrupted question time that it became so totally dysfunctional that it either needed to be terminated or reconstructed.

A new speaker has returned some decorum to the chamber but it really serves little purpose.

While a lot of the contestation is part of the drama of the Parliament, no one would wish Question Time to be reduced to polite discussion without challenge. Never­theless, Question Time all too regularly descends into an unedifying shouting match between the Government and Opposition, damaging the public image of the Parliament and of politicians in general.

According to the Parliamentary Education Office the purpose of Question Time is to allow the opposition to ask the executive government questions and to critically examine its work. Ministers are called upon to be accountable and explain their decisions and actions in their portfolios. Question Time also provides ministers with an opportunity to present their ideas, their leadership abilities and their political skills.

During Question Time, the opposition also has a chance to present themselves as the alternative government

Question Time occurs at 2pm every day when Parliament is sitting and usually lasts for about one hour. By custom, the Prime Minister decides how long Question Time will last and indeed if it will be held at all.

Ministers do not know the content of questions posed by the opposition during Question Time. These are likely to be tough, designed to test ministers’ capacity to answer quickly and confidently.

During Question Time, government backbenchers also pose questions to ministers, in order to highlight government policies and achievements. These are prepared prior to Question Time and are known as ‘Dorothy Dixers’, after a magazine columnist who used to write her own questions and answers.

Question Time has evolved in the Australian Parliament over a long period of time. The first Parliament made provision for questions on notice to be asked and the answers were read to the chamber by the relevant minister. Over time, questions without notice were also put to ministers, particularly in regard to important or urgent matters. The focus in Question Time today is on making the government accountable for its actions and dealing with the political issues of the day.

Well in short that’s the purpose. Does it work in reality? Of course not. Every government on being elected says it will reform Question Time. As part of an agreement with Prime Minister Gillard, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor made some effort at reform with a greater insistence on relevance and supplementary questions.

Prior to the last election Christopher Pyne, the then Manager of Opposition Business, but better known as the mouth that roared, or the fixer, had this to say:

“An elected Coalition Government will move to reform Parliamentary Standing orders in the House of Representatives.”

“Our reforms will make Parliamentary Question Time more concise and ensure Ministers are held to account and remain relevant to questions asked.”

“We will look to strengthen the definition of ‘relevance’ in the standing orders so Ministers must stay directly relevant to questions and ensure Matter of Public Importance debates follow Question Time.”

What a ludicrous load of nonsense. As I stated earlier, there is no requirement for relevance at all. And without it Ministers simply cannot be held to account. Without civility reasoned debate cannot take place. All we have at the moment is a shambolic gaggle of incompetent unedifying politicians not in the least interested in enhancing our democracy. It has degenerated to the point of being obsolete. It needs to be given the flick and rethought.

How should this come about? Try this. Bill Shorten should walk out of Question Time with his colleagues straight into a press conference with a detailed list of reasons for doing so. That being that Question Time has become untenable, so lacking in relevance that there is no purpose in asking questions.

After siting all the obvious reasons he should then, having prepared himself, launch into a list of proposals to make governments and Ministers more accountable. The whole point of his presentation should center on a better more open democracy. An address that takes the democratic moral high ground that is critical of both sides of politics.

“None of us can claim that in this place, first and foremost on our minds is how we serve the Australian people.’’

Let the ideas flow. I propose to appoint now, a panel of former speakers from both sides of the house, to rewrite the standing orders and reform Question Time.

All this is hypothetical of course because I am thinking out loud. But consider the following.

1 An independent speaker. Not a politician. Not only independent but elected by the people. A position with clout. The Parliamentary Speakers Office with the power to name and shame Ministers for irrelevance. Power over politicians expenses. It could include a ‘’Fact Check Office’’

2 Imagine if the Speakers Office adjudicated on answers and published a relevance scale on its website. This might serve two purposes. Firstly it would promote transparency and truth and secondly provide an opportunity for ministers to correct answers. It wouldn’t take long for profiles of ministers to build.

3 If in the course of Question Time the Opposition wants to table a document that they say supports their claim, in the interests of openness and accountability it should always be allowed. Documents would also come under the scrutiny of the Speaker’s office and both their authenticity and relevance be noted in the Speaker’s weekly accountability report.

4 Freedom of Information could also come under the umbrella of the Independent Speakers Office with it deciding what could be disclosed in the public interest.

5 Dorothy Dixers would be outlawed because they serve no purpose. If back benchers want information then pick up the bloody phone. Question Time is not a public relations department. A place for policy advertising. Question Time is about Government accountability.

6 I acknowledge that our system requires vigorous debate and human nature being what it is passion sometimes gets the better of our politicians. When it occurs the Speaker should have the power to call time outs.

7 Lying to the Parliament is a serious misdemeanour yet the Prime Minister and the Ministers in this Government do it on a regular basis. An Independent Speaker would be able to inflict severe penalties on serious offenders.

8 In fully answering a question, a minister or parliamentary secretary must be directly responsive, relevant, succinct and limited to the subject matter of the question. Penalties apply.

Nothing has changed. The Government owns Question Time, the Speaker and the Standing Orders.

Democracy is dead. Lunacy prevails.  Anyway I think I have made my point.

My thought for the day.

IF you have a point of view, feel free to express it. However, do so with civility. Then your point of view is laced with a degree of dignity.

Day to Day Politics: I have been Trumped.

Friday March 18 2016

When I wrote my piece titled ‘Only in America: Looking at Trump from Down Under’ I must confess that secretly in the labyrinth of my being I thought the American people were too intelligent to succumb to Donald Trump’s populist outbursts.

Stupidly I, like many others, assumed that over time his utterings of nefarious intent would be seen for what they were. The ravings of a pathological ratbag intent on obtaining power by any means. In my piece I covered the man’s personality disorders, his inappropriateness to even be considered as the Republican nominee and then I tied together current Australian conservatism with that of the American right.

As the Republican debates got underway it became apparent that Trump was not just a flash in the pan contender. People actually loved him for his bigotry, for his racism, for his anti-immigrant rhetoric, for his uncouth mouth, for his incitement of violence at his rallies. The more he did so the more they cheered him. The more hatred he spat out the more his supporters encouraged him. Even reciting an oath of allegiance on his command.

They loved him for his prejudice, his lies, his sexism. His racist tweets, and his offer to pay the legal fees of those who commit violence. His supporters worshiped when he advocated the use of torture and the murder of terrorist’s families.

They almost wet themselves when he gleefully told stories of executing Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. And they fell over themselves with excitement when he compared refugees to ‘snakes’ and claimed that ‘Islam hates us’.

They applauded him when he tweeted racist images and racist lies. When it took him 48 hours to disavow white supremacy there was not a murmur.

Cheers and raucous joy arose at his rallies at his every hate filled denouncement of minorities and everything he sees as un-American. As if America has some sort of ownership on all morality and righteousness.

Having observed this man, his vile behaviour and listened to his rhetoric, the anger he elicits, and the reaction of the American people to it I have to admit I was wrong. Rather than Americans seeing him, as I thought they would, for the fool he is, they are embracing him as their champion.

If I was wrong about Trump I also regrettably have to concede I was wrong about the American people or more particularly Republican Americans. Wanting a person like Trump as President speaks as much about their mindlessness as it does about his inappropriateness.

At some stage I reconciled that he might win the Republican nomination but could never win the Presidency. Am I also wrong about that?

Commentators are saying that if he gets the nomination we will see a more reasoned Trump. A more lucid personality.

The logic of this suggestion escapes me. I know who he is, what he stands for, and it frightens me. It should petrify the world.

My thought for the day.

‘The pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded’.

Day to Day Politics: The TRUTH about Negative Gearing.

Saturday 5 March

If ever an Australian politician scored an own goal it had to be Scott Morrison this week. Of course he was ably aided and abetted by The Australian Newspaper. The official newsletter of the conservative parties.

From the time Labor introduced its policy on Negative Gearing, Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison have sought to conduct a scare campaign on the issue. Morrison could have had a calm, sensible debate as he indicated he wanted to do when such matters arose but political expediency trumped good governance and hypocrisy won the day.

Frankly, Morrison, a co-founder of Christian Church Hillsong, is telling so many lies about Negative Gearing that as a Treasurer he makes Joe Hockey almost sound saintly. Turnbull, a Catholic, is doing the same.

It doesn’t seem to matter that a central tenet of the Gospel is ‘truth’.

So The Australian on Thursday publishes a report by BIS Shrapnel that Morrison says paints Labor’s policy in bad light.

The report has nothing to do with Labor’s proposition but Morrison arrives like a lone star cowboy in Question Time with two Colt 45 pistols rapidly exhausting both barrels before reloading. He does have a quick tongue.

The Australian withdraws the article from its online site. It often has to. It has no credibility and the BIS won’t disclose who commissioned the report.

Morrison rejects all the wrongs, inconsistencies and outright lies and both he and Turnbull in Question Time robustly, in spite of the reports lack of credibility, continue to say that if adopted, Labor’s policy would cause significant damage to the housing market and to our economy. Yet another Clayton’s crisis.

Grattan Institute chief executive John Daley says the report and its underlying assumptions:

‘did not pass the giggle test’ and were ‘manifestly ridiculous’.

He added:

‘Voters should be asking themselves whether a responsible government would rely on this sort of nonsense in a public policy debate. ‘ Late on Thursday the Prime Minister was still defending the report describing it as ‘thorough analyses’.

Other comments came from Board of Taxation chairman Michael Andrews who told a tax conference in Melbourne that the debate about tax was highly politicised, and regrettable:

‘The Australian Financial Review said that the Government has abandoned plans to make changes to negative gearing. The issue has proved to be divisive and it would be politically risky to proceed with the changes. The Government is now likely to focus on the changes to negative gearing proposed by the Australian Labor Party.’

In other words a scare campaign.

Besides the ridiculous assertion that house prices are going to go through the roof under Labor’s plan. Morrison also contends that:

‘Two thirds of those who use negative gearing have a taxable income of $80,000 or less. Seventy per cent own just one property, and 70 per cent have a net rental loss of less than $10,000.’

ABC Fact Check investigated this claim and found that those with taxable incomes above $80,000 have a proportionately larger share of the net rental losses.

Now the point of all this follows on from my Day to Day Politics yesterday when I posed this question: What resources does the average punter have to access the truth? If we have the time we can do some research? Look up the facts presented by fact checkers. Pay for FOI documents. Who has time for all that?

This scare campaign being waged by Turnbull and Morrison in light of what the PM said about fair, reasoned, transparent and open debate illustrates my point.

The truth is that in the absence of readily identifiable evidence we all use what is generally called ‘the pub test or common sense test.’ In other words we digest all the available information and ask ourselves the question ‘is it plausible?’ Does what I am being told have the ring of truth about it. We make judgements based on our life’s experience. Unless your personal bias clouds the ’Pub test’ your inner conscience dictates your judgement.

Now I’m not wanting to confuse the issue here because I thought I had my general principle of the ‘Pub Test’ sort of philosophically in order. Then a Facebook friend by the name of Phil Rudkin sent me this to ponder:

‘Unfortunately we are all subject to what is known as ‘confirmation bias’. That is, we believe what will confirm our beliefs and disregard that which runs contrary to our beliefs. This is a human failing found in us all. So, a lie that matches what we believe will be used to reinforce that belief. I am very aware of the potential for confirmation bias in myself and always try to seek evidence to support things that I hear from sources as unreliable as politicians but know that I will often fail. Confirmation bias is often confused with common sense and so will cause the pub test to fail.’

Now you don’t have to take my word for it but I found a piece headed.

Morrison painting a false picture of negative gearing.’

It’s by Rob Burgess. It passed my pub test (revisited) because it cut through the bullshit and presented a clear view of just where and why Turnbull and Gunna Morrison don’t have a leg to stand on. They are telling confirmation bias lies.

My thought for the day.

‘Never confuse what you want with what you need’

One house is enough.

PS. With degrees from the finest learning institutions in the world dripping from the walls of their Ministerial offices, after two and a half years the Abbott/Turnbull government still needs more time to formulate a tax plan.

That’s a fact. You can check it.

 

Day to Day Politics: For Christ’s sake tell the truth.

Friday 4 March 2016

It is said that in war ‘truth’ is the first causality. Lying is probably one of the most common wrong acts that we perform. In fact lying as we understand it is an unavoidable part of human nature. Therefore it’s worth spending time thinking about it.

Whilst it might be true that truth is the first causality of war, I would contend that over the past ten or twenty years it has become a major causality of our public discourse. If I were asked to pinpoint it I would date it at around, or post, Ronald Reagan’s appointment as president of the US.

It was a period that saw the beginning of the Religious Right’s involvement in Politics and of Neo Conservatism.

In the last US election Republicans Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan took lying to an unparalleled level. Fact finders alerted the public to 2019 lies by Romney alone. I watched the first Presidential debate and became fascinated with how Romney could present fiction as fact. It is my contention that President Obama lost the first debate not because he was of his game, or that he was unprepared, but rather he was taken by surprise by the wilful lies that Romney was telling.

Political lying in Australia since Tony Abbott’s appointment as opposition leader reached unprecedented levels and insinuated itself into our public dialogue, including the media. So much so that it is now almost impossible for the average punter to know just who is telling the truth.

Which brings me to my point. What resources does the average punter have to accessing the truth? If we have the time we can do some research? Look up the facts presented by fact checkers. Pay for FOI documents. Who has time for all that?

The truth is that in the absence of readily identifiable evidence we all use what is generally called ‘the pub test or common sense test.’ In other words we digest all the available information and ask ourselves the question ’is it plausible?’ Does what I am being told have the ring of truth about it. We make judgements based on our life’s experience. Unless your personal bias clouds the ’Pub test’ your inner conscience dictates your judgement.

Two observations.

‘I don’t judge people but I do form my own opinion of course’.

‘Life is about perception, not what is but what we perceive it to be’.

Let’s take two current items currently making headlines.

Firstly, there is a National Security leak. There is nothing more serious politically. The story appears in The Australian Newspaper which is a known supporter of former Prime Minister Abbott. The journalist in question, Greg Sheridan is also a personal friend of Abbott. Abbott is also quoted in the piece thus giving the leak credibility. To adhere one’s own words to a leaked document is dangerous.

Everyone knows that our former Prime Minister is a liar. He might even be the worst in our political history. He is certainly the worst this nation has ever seen. Many of our most respected journalists and media commentators have said so. He has even admitted he is a liar himself.

The evidence is so abundant, so overwhelmingly copious that it is beyond contradiction. It is fair to say that in general the populace accepted his lying as a fact. I and many others have listed them, quoted them, itemised, analysed them and exposed them in crystal clarity. Even members of his own party have accepted that he is a liar of nefarious intent.

And his sheer indifference to the fact that he lies together with his lack of conscience about it I found sickening. The list is as long as a toilet roll.

Secondly, Cardinal George Pell gives evidence at the Royal Commission into Child Abuse. Despite at all times being but a breath away from all the vile conduct of the church, the suicides, molesting, families destroyed, he denies everything and blames everyone else pleading that he was told nothing.

In the first instance, the leak, an investigation is being carried out. Leaks of course are not uncommon in politics. John Howard famously leaked to Andrew Bolt at the time of the Iraq war to discredit the outspoken Andrew Wilke. It wasn’t successful because Wilke had too much integrity.

History shows that enquiries reveal nothing. I therefore in the absence of hard evidence I conclude that my common sense tells me that Abbott is still upset with losing the Prime Ministership and is intent on undermining Turnbull’s position. The same as Rudd did to Gillard.

In the case of Pell I conclude, again in the absence of proof, that he could not possibly have been that close to the action, and not be aware of the unmitigated evil being carried out. Time and time again he pleads ignorance. I didn’t know I wasn’t told. Even when he pleads the greyness of the context of the time I deduce that time doesn’t diminish the crime.

An observation.

‘The standards we walk past are the standards we accept’.

Despite a tendency inherited biologically by all to lie. Truth in politics and society in general matters enormously. It is not a trivial matter in any democracy. Our whole system is based on the assumption that truth prevails over all else and that it is the people who judge its veracity.

Without truth the people cannot give informed accent to office and democracy fails. There are ethical obligations of integrity and coherence upon which society depends. Our leaders when they lie fail the highest standards of social morality.

At this time in our history we are experiencing a toxic tide of leadership mistrust. No other politician has contributed to it more than Tony Abbott. Is he the most dishonest, the most cynical and pathologically perverted liar to ever lead our nation?

Pell may indeed be found to be the worst religious liar this country has seen. A blight on the very essence of the teaching of Christ.

I will leave you to ponder the question. Use your common sense and ask yourself is what they are saying plausible. It’s the pub test.

Two thoughts for the day.

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that enables human progress’.

‘Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact’.

 

Day to Day Politics: I have never done this before (quote Andrew Bolt)

Thursday 3 February 2016

1 Last Month, long-time admirer and defender of Cardinal George Pell said that Pell was a victim of ‘one of the most vicious witch hunts to disgrace this country. It is shameful. Disgusting. Frightening.’

‘People pretending to be moral have competed with each other to slime Pell as the defender of paedophiles, if not a paedophile himself.’

‘One would hope that this inquiry can go forward in the spirit of actually finding the truth, not being a witch hunt and perhaps giving George Pell more benefit of the doubt than a lot of media has given him.’

After listening to Pell’s evidence.

‘Those words about the Ridsdale case – where George Pell said that it was a sad story but it was not of interest to me – I just think those will be hung around his neck for the rest of his career.’

‘Whether or not he directly knew – and the case against him is circumstantial – did he actually do what was necessary for any moral person and pursue the interests of the children being abused? And on that ground I think the case against him is very damning.’

‘I think it’s a disaster I really do. I thought it was awful and in once sense it was so awful because it fit into the narrative but it also seems to confirm a pattern … that he hadn’t picked up hints.’

‘Either he is lying when he said he never knew … was never told or that he wasn’t diligent in following up the kind of clues that were picked up by a number of other people.’

‘Here is the question now for the royal commission into sex abuse of children: is the Vatican’s third-most powerful leader a liar when he says he never knew what Ridsdale, his colleague, was doing in Ballarat?’

‘Or was he just dangerously indifferent to his responsibilities and to the warning signs that children were being raped?’

Bolt wrote in his column that his evidence would:

‘Stain his reputation forever.’

‘Or was he just dangerously indifferent to his responsibilities and to the warning signs that children were being raped?’

‘But the devastating admission drawn from Pell by Gail Furness SC, counsel assisting the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, was that he never bothered to ask.’

‘Now a royal commission seems poised to consider whether this prince of the Catholic Church is a liar.’

Not surprisingly, Bolt has secured ‘an exclusive, one-on-one interview with Cardinal Pell’ which will air on Friday morning on 2GB and Sky News.

Leigh Sales tweeted: If Cardinal Pell decides he no longer wants to honour his interview with Andrew Bolt, I’d be delighted to welcome him on 7.30 for a chat.’

I make this point: What Bolt said in essence is correct. In Tuesday’s evidence Pell again blamed everybody else. He was the most uninformed man on the planet. Everyone was so afraid of him they wouldn’t tell him a thing. Everyone knew but it was all hidden from him.

The evidence has not surprised anyone who has followed his evidence and his character over a long period. Was Bolt that naive, that ignorant, that this all comes as a surprise to him? His obliviousness matches that of the Cardinal.

Did he go to Rome with the intent of defending his friend of the right only to be informed of his culpability?

Bolt’s posture of blind ignorance is as hard to believe as is the Cardinal’s. It’s the greatest backflip since I, as 8-year-old, accidentally fell from the high tower at the Brunswick baths in 1950.

2 So much happens on a day-to-day basis that it’s difficult at times to keep abreast of it all. For example, you will recall that Tony Abbott wanted to be rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The good news is that it is now not the Government’s agenda even though the Government could still call a double-dissolution election on the matter.

3 Speaking of Double Dissolutions the Senate Reform Bill now looks like being passed. Yes, a Bill that three days ago couldn’t possibly be changed, now with the support of the Greens has been amended in two significant ways. Yep we can move fast when it suits us. A 4 hour inquiry and a report 12 hours later did the trick.

Nothing like a quickie when you’re frustrated.

4 Now, more about that 50/50 Essential Poll. This Poll is important. A Facebook friend explains:

‘The thing about the Essential Poll is that it is a rolling poll it averages out over several polls. So the 50 – 50 result in this survey compares to the 52 – 48 to the LNP in the last one. Then that necessitates that the raw figures are a whole lot worse for the LNP than even these numbers suggest. I would love to see what those number are!!!!  So the Essential Research rolling aggregate records an unusually sharp move away from the Coalition, and finds strong support for Senate reform legislation.

The normally placid Essential Research fortnightly rolling average records a rare two-point shift on two-party preferred this week, which eliminates a settled 52-48 lead for the Coalition over previous weeks. Particularly remarkable is a three-point increase in the Labor primary vote, from 35% to 38%, although the Coalition is down only one to 43%, and the Greens are steady on 10%.’

5 Essential also features is a very detailed question on Senate reform, in which the legislation was explained to respondents in meticulous detail, producing a result of 53% approval and 16% disapproval.

6 A question on election timing finds 56% wanting the election held later this year versus 23% who want it called early, although the distinction is an increasingly fine one.

7 Also featured: most important election issues (health topping the list, followed by economic and cost-of-living concerns), best party to handle them (Labor for industrial relations and environment, Coalition for national security and the economy, although Labor has a slight lead on housing affordability) and perceptions of the parties as right or left-wing (indicating Labor is seen as more centrist than the Coalition, although there is little sense that this has changed in recent years).

Essential conducts it’s polling weekly and is accompanied by a survey. For me the stand out figure in its surveys is always the very high ‘Don’t know’ answers.

8 This month in 2013 the then Prime Minister said: ‘There is a budget emergency.’

Since then:

The deficit has doubled.

Net debt is up 59.8 billion.

Spending is at GFC levels.

Unemployment is up 74,500

Wages growth is at an all-time low.

9 There will be many in the Labor Party happy to see the back of the much hated Union backed Catholic Senator Joe Bullock. His replacement, ‘the father of reconciliation’ Pat Dobson is an excellent replacement. One MP summed up his feelings saying:

‘Good riddance to the big fat rat.’

Bullock got the Senator’s position with a factional stitch up mired in controversy at the time. He is well-known as being anti things not Catholic.

My thought for the day.

‘Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of life and grow over time. They govern moral choices and demonstrate empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow. In fact it is incumbent on them.’

 

Day to Day Politics: Does Christianity have an ownership of righteousness? Ask Cory.

Thursday 25 February 2016

1 What is it with the likes of Christian Cory Bernardi that they think they have some sort of ownership of righteousness? To think that with all the problems confronting the nation, seven MPs needed to speak in a Party Room meeting about a bullying programme in schools.

They are the same MPs who so stoically oppose marriage equality. The homophobes of the Liberal Party. The ones who so blithely, without any understanding, want the world to remain as it was.

A world where kids know their place and turn the other cheek to bullying in all its nefarious forms. A world where clergy have their way with children and society romances its piety.

These are the same people who will dictate to the Prime Minister the plebiscite question and demand that he support it.If ever one needed confirmation of just how obedient Malcolm Turnbull is to the extremes of his party. This is it.

Malcolm Turnbull has sided with extremists like Cory Bernardi and ordered an ‘investigation’ into the Safe Schools program – putting the only anti-bullying program for LGBTI students at risk.

80% of Australian LGBTI students face verbal abuse and bullying at school.Not only that, but same-sex attracted and gender diverse young Australians are six times more likely to die from suicide, with bullying and exclusion major factors in suicide attempts.

Bill Shorten got it right when Bernardi heckled him at a news conference.

Bernardi: ‘At least I tell the truth, Bill’.

Shorten: ‘At least I’m not a homophobe, mate’.

Bill is starting to show some balls. Well not literally.

An observation

I think what atheists find most offensive with religion is not only that they reject theist belief, but also the injustice, immorality and hypocrisy that often comes with it.

My suggestion would be that Bernardi and his ilk get off their political backsides and talk to some real young thinking teenagers. In doing so he would find a world in which, to teens, morality is born of empathy. It’s a world he should try to understand.

Or watch some of the evidence being given at the Royal Commission. This is partly that children need protection from. Conservatives have always adopted black and white answers to complex problems.

2 On the same theme the Prime Minister has voiced a desire to recruit Stan Grant to the Liberal Party. At the same time MP Dennis Jensen is playing the race card invoking Tony Abbott’s ‘Noble Savage-Lifestyle’ words.

Will Turnbull pull him into line? If not he will again reinforce his hypocrisy.

Why do the conservative parties attract the feral misfits? Those who have hate on their lips and when they speak they begin with a smile.

Sometimes you have to feel for Turnbull. Leadership is difficult enough without having to put up with the mentally deluded dregs of one’s party.

3 Straight out of Liberal Party pollster Mark Textor’s textbook. When in trouble change the subject. After being battered on tax reform for the past fortnight on Wednesday a defence paper is unveiled.

At the same time Assistant Treasurer Kelly O’Dwyer this morning said this:

‘The Labor party has a very irresponsible campaign, they have got a policy that will increase the cost of housing for all Australians, for those people who own a home and for those people who would like to get into the housing market through their negative gearing policy.’

They are still in a mess. This is contrary to what the PM has been saying. And apparently the Cabinet agreed not to disclose any tax reforms until the budget leaving themselves open to all sorts of accusations. Paul Kelly writing for the Australian said that Turnbull was sounding more like Abbott every day.

Listening to question time yesterday these were his words of reason, describing negative gearing as a massive blunder, and destructive, ill-conceived, and sending shock waves through the community. House prices will fall. All full of Abbott shock and awe.

He was describing modest long overdue changes to Negative Gearing.

On negative gearing Lenore Taylor writing for The Guardian said:

The only problem for the prime minister who promised evidence-based policy making is that there’s no evidence to support his claim. Even those who agree there might be some reduction in-house prices, say the impacts would be one-off and small.

And the property industry – which hates Labor’s changes – has modelling that says removing negative gearing could actually push house prices up and that the exact impact is hard to know. Either way, no smashing’.

‘Unlike the Liberal Party, who thinks that the Australian dream is to negatively gear your seventh house, we think the Australian dream is to able to afford to buy your first house’ said Bill Shorten, looking for all the world like an actual opposition leader

4 Whilst there maybe, in a changing media dynamic, a justification for changing the three media rules, unfortunately the person to benefit most is the man most likely to corrupt it.

Murdoch will now have carte blanche to own and use all forms of media? In a business sense it might mean survival but the stench of his media immorality will linger long.

An observation

‘The mainstream media will only ever print or say whatever is in its best interests. Then it might say something interesting and truthful’.

5 The Governments proposed changes to Senate elections might sound fine at first blush but will give the Greens more power and most likely wedge Labor. I don’t agree with the current situation where barely qualified folk from minor parties have too much influence but there has to be a better way.

My thought for the day

‘There are times in our lives when we need a friend good enough to save us from ourselves’.

 

Day to Day Politics: Where did Murdoch’s readers go and what about the election?

Saturday 13 February.

Author’s Note.

This week’s announcement that News Corp’s revenue has declined for the fourth successive quarter has sent a shiver down the spine of the newspaper industry. It is now in its inevitable death throes. Further cuts will now have to be made in his Australian publications and when the traditional hard core readers have passed on what will be left.

This is a repost of an earlier.

Recently I found myself without access to the internet. It only lasted a day and a bit, thankfully, but it did bring home to me just how reliant I am on it. The pause however, did give me reason to think about how very differently I consume information now as opposed to say 10 or so years ago. It also gave me reason to think about what influence old media, and in particular Murdoch newspapers, might have on the next election.

I have been a prolific reader all my life and not to fill my brain with a daily dose of anything newsworthy might lead to withdrawal symptoms. Habitually at 6am I would be awake waiting for the familiar thud of the Melbourne Age dropping onto the driveway. Together with a hot cup of green tea my day was put in perspective.

With the advent of the internet it all changed. Both the reader and the media proprietor now find themselves in a vastly different arena.

Where as in my case I relied on The Age to provide the entirety of information about my many and varied interests I now find I have unlimited access to anything and everything I want to know. It is simply astonishing just how much the webb has changed the world.

Now I wake at six (a lifelong habit) turn on the ipad, check the weather, my email, post some thoughts on Facebook and then peruse the newspapers, but not before seeing whose writing what on THE AIMN. In fact my newspaper reading is now limited and specific. I hone in on what I want to read and move on. I don’t subscribe to pay sites because there is ample quality information available on free sites and blogs. For example I look with contemptible curiosity at the headlines on The Australian site just to see the outrageous unmasked bias. I can peruse any newspaper in the world.

The interesting thing about the decline in sales and influence of Australian newspapers has been how they have responded. On the one hand Fairfax decided to cut costs, lower its journalistic standards, change its size and be a little more tabloidish. On the other hand Murdoch, who had made his fortune on smut decided to prostitute his publications by becoming even more offensive and provocative. It hasn’t worked. They both now opine rather than report.

So in terms of political influence Labor has little to fear from the nefarious front pages and slanted editorials of his tabloids. The recent Labor victories in both Queensland and Victoria have highlighted News Limited’s growing irrelevance to the electoral process.

Last year, the total daily circulation of all Australian daily newspapers was a little over 2.1 million, fully one million lower than it was at the turn of the century. When you take into account the growth in population post Second World War the decline is even more specular. In 1947 two copies of daily newspapers were sold for every five people. In 2014 the figure was 1-14. So now, Murdoch with a 60% share of the Australian circulation can only attract 4% of the population to buy his rags.

And the point of course is that the readership is rapidly ageing and disproportionately Coalition. They are voters who are locked into their political preferences. If you analyse any poll you will find that 60% of the Coalitions support comes from those over 65 and 60% of Labor’s from the under 40s.  Hence it’s unlikely that Murdoch is influencing the younger voters. The group that gives Labor the best chance of winning the next election. And with so much support coming from a rapidly ageing cohort the right must be concerned as to where their future voters will come from.

Recent surveys by Essential Research also suggest that even those who read the Murdoch tabloids have little trust in them. Of the major newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald constantly score 70% trust with The Australian on 60%. But the three Murdoch metropolitan tabloids are only trusted by a little over half of their readers. The Herald Sun 53%. The Courier Mail 54% The Daily Telegraph at times fell to 41%. This of course means that those who buy this tabloid filth must do so for entertainment or sports. Certainly not for reliable reporting on politics. Habit may be another factor of course.

So, if all the research is correct, Murdoch only reaches less than 10% of the voting population which is about half the reach they had when they so blatantly supported Howard in 2001.

There are a couple of things to remember when discussing Murdoch’s political influence. The first is the flow on effect. The Australian is the shock jocks first point of call every morning and whatever bias is on for the day is quickly absorbed by the presenters of untruth.

Whilst the shock jocks have substantial audiences the fact is that the average listener can be likened to the average Murdoch reader. Elderly and set in their ways.

The Australian loses around $30 million every year and it is difficult to imagine it continuing production after the mogul dies. It is also difficult to expect that it doesn’t exert some influence on television which still attracts a sizable audience of uncommitted voters. Again it must be said that television audiences are now older. The young have deserted it for the internet, games or streaming media.

The second factor in all this is that whilst there has been a dramatic decline in the sales of newspapers and readership there has been a corresponding rise in the readership of their websites. Tabloid newspapers however have not been able to successfully merge their image into the digital market. It may be a graphics thing where internet news demands some form of visual and quantifiable sophistication.

Research also shows that Australian newspaper web sites have high traffic rates but whereas we might assume the average readership of the print edition The Daily Telegraph might have a 15 minute duration. Visits to its website are a lot shorter. As little as thirty seconds or so. So, it’s fair to assume these visits wouldn’t have much political impact at all.

There is no doubt that Labor can expect the full treatment from Murdoch at the next election. Anything from filth to fantasy. Everything will be magnified out of proportion, images crudely photoshoped to show leaders in the worst possible way together with lie after lie after lie. There is no doubt they will be as crass as is possible. But the big question is. Given all the evidence, what sway will they have?

There was a time when you would do nothing to offend the mogul but instead ingratiate oneself. Perhaps it’s time to call a spade a spade and tell the Australian people just how un Australian this American citizen is. Tell them he should not be imposing his Republican Tea Party ideology on us and that it’s about time he started to pay some tax in Australia. In other words call the mongrel for what he is. A pathetic self-serving power hungry bastard who believes you can control people with words calculated to gain favour with conservative governments.

The decay of traditional news media and the rise of digital media has meant that the young have not been touched by the Murdoch cancer. Instead they are forging opinion based on information sourced of themselves. And in doing so have dramatically reduced Murdoch’s sphere of influence.

He may preach from the high alter of propaganda but only reach the already converted but he is certainly not winning over any new adherents.

Some findings from the Essential survey.

How much trust do you have in the following media commentators and journalists?

Lauri Oakes 71% Sarah Ferguson 51% Tony Jones 51% Mark Riley 51% Michelle Gratton 49% Neil Mitchell 49% Chris Uhlmann 46% Andrew Bolt 38% Alan Jones 29%

The most trusted newspapers were.

SMH (70% a lot/some trust) and The Age (66%). The least trusted were The Telegraph (46% a lot/some trust), the HeraldSun (48%) and the Courier Mail (48%).

Overall, trust in media has fallen a little since this question was asked last year – however rankings remain much the same.

The most trusted media were ABC TV news and current affairs (63% a lot/some trust), SBS TV news and current affairs (61%) and ABC radio news and current affairs (58%).

The least trusted were internet blogs (20%) and commercial radio talkback programs (34%).

How much trust do you have in the following institutions and organisations?

AFP were top with 68% the ABC had 58% at the bottom on 16% and religious organisations 25%

Don’t ask me how the AFP got there.

My thought for the Day

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

Day to Day Politics: Hunting with hypocrisy.

Thursday 11 February 2016

1 The news that Greg Hunt has received an award as ‘Best Minister in the World’ will be received with much scepticism by many Australians. Even hilarity.

Mr Hunt told Fairfax Media he was “genuinely humbled” by the prize, but noted “this is really an award for Australia”.

The criteria for winning the award, according to the organisers, is that the minister should lead quality successful initiatives that serve the needs of citizens.

Any economist, environmentalist or climate scientist or journalist specialising in the subject would be aghast that a person who has done so much harm to environmental policy could be honoured with an award.

Politics in this country is rapidly turning to farce. First we make Philip Ruddock our Human Rights Envoy, and now this!

Internationally, in environmental gatherings Hunt is referred to as the man for all seasons. He has long been admired for his ability to put the case for Direct Action without ever explaining exactly how it might work. Or how it might be paid for.

He gained a masters with honours in 1990 with a brilliantly argued thesis for a carbon tax to reduce carbon emissions. Then he did an about turn when Abbott gained power supporting Direct Action. It was then that he lost all credibility and has been ridiculed ever since.

There is an award at every climate summit called ‘The Fossil of the Day’. The award is given by the international Climate Action Network to the country which has done the most to block progress at the climate change negotiations.

We are a regular recipient of this award.

2 The Polls are beginning to reveal the electorate’s disapproval of the government’s pathetic handling of the GST proposal and general Tax Reform.

It has become so silly that the State Ministers and Chief Ministers had to recently cancel a meeting on tax reform because they had no idea what on earth they should be talking about.

Essential this week has the Coalition 51/49 and Morgan 52.5/47.5.

“Morgan finds serious slippage in support for the Coalition for the first time since Malcolm Turnbull became leader, bringing it more closely into line with Essential Research, which continues to find the Coalition with a narrow lead. Morgan also finds serious slippage in support for the Coalition for the first time since Malcolm Turnbull became leader, bringing it more closely into line with Essential Research, which continues to find the Coalition with a narrow lead.’’

An observation:

Is it morally sustainable that in order to protect our borders that we should allow the indefinite incarceration of people? The sexual abuse of children. The rape of women and the murder of men. If it is so then by any fair judgement we must be a decadent society.

3 Health Minister Susan Ley said her department may outsource Government healthcare payments using innovative high-tech methods. I’m ok with that provided substantial safeguards are built-in and the work is conducted within Australia.

But the continuous floating of thought bubbles on top of an as yet unexplained narrative of why all these changes are warranted, is disconcerting.

4 The Stuart Robert scandal is taking a highly familiar road to nowhere. We have to wait on yet another report. The AFP are still to report on Mal Brough. We are still waiting on the report on parliamentary expenses and ICACs ruling on Arthur Sinodinos. Mounting a paper bill that might yet keep the paper mill in Morwell open. It is struggling because the government won’t buy its Reflex copy paper.

That aside, with the imminent retirement of Nationals leader Truss and Trade Minister Andrew Robb, Turnbull faces a nightmare of a cabinet reshuffle.

5 The ABC made a mistake in falsely reporting that a 5-year-old had been raped on Nauru. When it confirmed an error had been made it apologised. And correctly so.

I made the following remark on a Facebook debating site:

It’s a pity other news sources didn’t apologise when they make mistakes.

The following transpired:

Jack: Perhaps you could lead by example, John.

Me: Healthy thing to do, Jack.

Jack: You would be busy for quite some time bringing things up to date.

Me: How long do you think it would take Bolt, Jack?

Jack: I don’t believe Bolt lies – in fact the press would rip into him if he did. And that is irrelevant. We are talking about you.

Me: Two court cases and the Press Council think he does, Jack.

Me again: It would be a good idea if all media outlets corrected their errors.

Jack: Well that means nothing until proven guilty and I know you’re spreading lies and bullshit every time you post.

Jack again: We are talking about you, John Lord. Like all lefties you love to deflect and not take responsibility for your own actions.

Me: Two courts found him guilty of lying and the press council asked him to retract.

Jack: We are talking about you, John Lord. Like all lefties you love to deflect and not take responsibility for your actions.

Me: Jack, you are talking about me. I am not.

Jack: Like I said you deflect and won’t take responsibility for your actions.

Me: What am I deflecting from, Jack? All I suggested that it was a good idea for media outlets to own up when they make a mistake.

Geoff: Send them a terse letter, John. Let us know the response.

Jack: You are deflecting from my comment you should lead by example.

Rohan: That’s the AIMN guy’s modus operandi. Call all the media liars and de-flectors, then double down on lying and deflecting. Shouldn’t be surprised, Jack. It’s the only way they can cobble together their contrarian views.

An observation:

Social media has opened the world to a new method of communication. Unfortunately it has also given a voice to the nutters.

I recalled some lines from an old West Indian folk song:

‘It was as clear as mud and it covered the ground. And the confusion made me brain go round.’

6 Former PM Tony Abbott has warned disenchanted voters may be tempted to “flirt” with extreme right-wing parties.

What was it he was leading?

7 Gillian Triggs is reported as saying that the PM reversed a decision to include her on the selection panel for the sex discrimination commissioner and was not consulted about Ruddock being appointed Human Rights envoy:

My Thought for the day:

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

 

Day to Day Politics: Making a meal of it.

Tuesday 9 February

1 The ongoing talkfest on taxation reform continues unabated. The GST (depending on what news source you read) seems to have slipped from the table. The other stuff it would seem is on the slow cooker waiting on the Lord of the Manor to decide what might be on the recipe for the annual carve up in May.

It is fast becoming a joke and it has been suggested that the head chef Gunna Morrison is wanting to give the May banquet a miss and instead settle for a Fosters over an early election barbeque. Sorry I’m just mincing my words.

But really there should be lot to serve up to an electorate starved of good policy from a Government that has made a meal of governance for over two and a half years.

An electorate who in just a few months will go to the polls. On the economic front the electorate knows that, given the current internal and external conditions, adjustments need to be made to our economy. They understand that cuts will need to be made and they are not silly enough to know that revenue needs to raised.

For both parties not to be making a case for both and detailing their attitude  is appalling.

We are being treated with contempt by both parties. Now is the time to put away the smooth talk and translate words into actions. At least outline a blueprint of why cuts are needed and how revenue will be raised, then outline the detail.

Turnbull has the gift of the gab but there appears to be little meat in the sausage. As the incumbent government he needs to take the bull by the horns and charge into it.

In order to cast an informed vote the voter should be given all the available economic information. It beggars belief that a government could run almost a full term before deciding to do something about a problem they knew existed when they gained government.

Its a bit like having a plebiscite to confirm something you already know.

As I see it both parties are limited to reforming the same policies. Capital gains, a form of land tax, superannuation, negative gearing. They will split down ideological lines on the savings. Labor will fill the hole in health and education. The coalition will leave the states to solve the upcoming funding crisis in both. The Coalition will give tax breaks to their constituency.

Turnbull’s approach so far has been to try to put everything on the table. The problem with that is that you can leave a lot to clean up afterwards. That’s when the rubber gloves hit the hot water and there’s a fight about who wants to dry. I’m suggesting Malcolm wash if Gunna agrees to dry up.

Seriously though all this indecision does suggest the possibility of an early election. Do they really want to produce a budget?

At this stage I’m tipping that all will be revealed election eve.

2  Here are some comments I had to my Monday post on Facebook debating sites.

A: ‘If the boats aren’t disgorging illegal immigrants on our shores, they’ve been stopped.’

B: ‘More distorted bullshit from John Lord.’

C: ‘Barnaby Joyce has more brains than most of the Labor front bench. Certainly he’s more educated and experienced than the world’s greatest treasurer, Wayne Swan. Joyce is nothing like the US republican nutters.’

D: ‘Turnbull is not a “president”, he’s the Prime Minister. Yep, he’s an arsehole, but he does NOT entirely set the agenda you fool.’

E: ‘I didn’t know you were racist against muslims.’

F: ‘I’d almost feel sorry for the AIMN guys if they weren’t out and out deceptive in every post.’ G ‘What gives you guys the right to openly lie?’

H: ‘Dishonest from start to finish.’ I ‘they have stopped coming to Aus. Journeys have slowed dramatically – very few attempts are even being begun.’

Thank goodness I had a quiet day.

I’m a little depressed today so I am being a bit frivolous looking for things to cheer me up. Then I came across these snippets from Mr. Fixit. Christopher Pyne. Note I said Christopher. I got into trouble for calling him Chrissy last time.

On Asylum seekers:

‘Cool heads and big hearts’.

No one wants to see “the people smuggling trade being re energised”.

On dumping an increase to the GST:

‘We are responding to events as they occur’.

4 A note of thanks to all who take the time to read my daily post and especially those who make a comment. The discussion is great.

5 ‘Mr Ruddock will be Australia’s first special envoy for human rights, reflecting the government’s commitment to further strengthening Australia’s contribution to advancing human rights.’  (Julie Bishop).

My thought for the day

‘We should not do or say anything that cheapens another because in the end we only cheapen ourselves’.

 

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

Thursday 28 January 2016

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

Greg Sheridan THE AUSTRALIAN JANUARY 26, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

No other prime minister could have stopped the boats.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lenore Taylor got it right when she said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is downright dishonest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

 

Day to Day Politics. A final thought.

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

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

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

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

A thought.

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

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

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

              MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY

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

 

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