We can all agree that politically, 2017 was a boring year: 365 days of nothing but the monotony of watching a woeful government led by a spineless prime minister simply meandering aimlessly along. After the Abbott years, maybe we all needed the rest!
In its five years of publishing political articles, those most popular have usually been about political leaders – of which Tony Abbott in years gone by was a standout. In 2017, however, our most popular articles were those about unfairness and hypocrisy.
Here are The AIMN’s five most popular posts in 2017:
(The Top 5 is based on the number of views only. It does not take into account the number of comments or the post’s popularity with other online media sites such as Facebook or Twitter).
Number One … The LNP Welfare Card: the true facts exposed. Corruption disguised as philanthropy!, by Michael Griffin.
However, the Ministerial decision to award the contract to Indue is not excluded from review under the Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977 (Cth). It may be possible to challenge the award of the contract to Indue under that Act on grounds of ‘unreasonableness’ and, perhaps, ‘bias’. The decision was ‘unreasonable’ on the basis that the trials were not completed or their outcomes assessed before the contract was awarded to Indue. This means that the decision to award any contract to Indue at the time it was awarded had no factual basis or evidence to support the alleged purpose for the card programme or, hence, to provide any reason to award a contract. That is, no reason existed or relevant facts regarding the appropriateness of the card programme were known by the decision maker when awarding the contract to Indue. On that basis, the Minister’s decision to award the contracts to Indue was ‘unreasonable’ at the time the Minister made it and, on that basis, that decision should be reversed. The decision was ‘bias’ because no open tender was used to award the contracts and because Indue is a donor of the Liberal Party and its members are LNP members or supporters. Hence, when awarding the contracts for the issue, implementation and management of the welfare card programme, the Ministerial decision-maker preferred Indue to other possible suppliers due to the association of Indue with the LNP, that is, the political party in which the Minister for Human Services, Allan Tudge, who made the decision to award the contract to Indue, is also, necessarily, a member. As is Larry Anthony one of the beneficiaries of these contracts.
Number Two … The curious incident of the bigot in the Senate, by Damian Smith.
I’ve been reluctant to comment on Pauline Hanson’s noisome remarks regarding autism and schooling. Like wildfire her vacuous bigotry requires oxygen and I am loath give her the attention she so desperately desires.
However, there are times when one must stare into the abyss.
I have what was once known as Asperger’s Syndrome, now coalesced into the all-encompassing autism spectrum.
I’m one of what Hanson calls ‘those people’.
I’ve built my career around being on the spectrum, on de-stigmatising a condition that doesn’t render you inferior – just different. I’ve tried to make myself an example of achievement, that being on the spectrum doesn’t limit you and can in fact empower you, that you can be ‘normal’ if you want to be, but more importantly that there’s no need to be normal at all.
And in this capacity it is incumbent on me to retort.
I also went to a public school. One with something of a reputation. A school that stands to gain a lot from the Gonski program.
School was a brutal experience. Aside from the regulation systemic bullying, there were the problems stemming from lack of funding. Our classes would regularly contain over thirty students, sometimes two to a desk. Half of our classrooms were temporary demountables, lacking heating in the winter and pushing 35 degrees in the summer.
Hardly ideal conditions for learning in the formative years of your life.
In this post-apocalyptic hellscape of a high school were students held back? Were students denied the attention because of the disruption of their peers? Of course they were.
Were the students causing these disruptions the ones with special needs? Absolutely not.
In my experience it wasn’t the special needs students who were the problem at all.
The problem was the idiots.
The racists, the xenophobes and homophobes; the kids who were terrified of anything different, who translated that terror into anger and violence.
Does this sound familiar, Senator Hanson?
Number Three … In the words of Julie Bishop, “You’re not a celebrity, you’re an elected representative”, by Kaye Lee.
In 2007, Federal Education Minister Julie Bishop accused Deputy Opposition Leader Julia Gillard of behaving like a “fashion model or TV star” rather than a politician.
“You’re not a celebrity, you’re an elected representative, you’re a member of parliament. You’re not Hollywood and I think that when people overstep that line they miss the whole point of that public role.”
Ms Bishop said posing for magazine covers was “not my style”.
“Of course, people want to know more about you, but I don’t think you should be courting that celebrity status as if you’re a fashion model or a TV star, because you’re not,” she said.
Move along a few years to when Julie is “living the dream”, as she put it in an interview with Who magazine in December 2014.
“I can’t imagine a better job than the one I have,” she said as she posed for the magazine featuring an article where she “talks fashion, running, and style”, having also done a cover shoot for Harper’s Bazaar the previous month. In 2015, it was Vogue.
It seems Ms Bishop now considers herself very much a celebrity.
Number Four … Compare and contrast: Sussan Ley and Centrelink punters, by Jennifer Wilson.
Such is politics in these interesting times that it’s impossible when alerted to one scandal, to refrain from speculating if it has been confected to distract your attention from another.
So it is with Health Minister Sussan Ley’s current imbroglio which seems, at first blush, a nice little “look over here not there” moment arriving right on top of the Centrelink scandal.
In the former, federal Health Minister Ley appears to have spent an inordinate amount of taxpayer dollars travelling to the Gold Coast, including for two New Year’s Eve celebrations (what ministerial duties could she possibly be fulfilling on New Year’s Eve at the Gold Coast?) and, conveniently, at the time of the auction purchase by herself and her partner, a Gold Coast businessman, of an $800,ooo apartment close to his office.
Here is an analysis by the ABC of Ms Ley’s spending.
Ley has agreed to in part pay back some of these taxpayer dollars, acknowledging her fraudulent misappropriation of the money was “an error of judgement.” Many of us think of these behaviours as criminal activities that ought to be investigated by the AFP, but it all swings on the narrative.
In stark contrast, the AFP has joined forces with Centrelink to distribute intimidating letters threatening punters with jail if they might possibly have at some time in the last six years fraudulently claimed welfare benefits. People are advised to pay back the amounts Centrelink determined they owed, prior to any evidence that they actually owed anything. Three debt collection agencies have been contracted by Centrelink to pursue debtors, whether the validity of their debt has been established or not. This is an action Australian Lawyers for Human Rights describe as an abuse of legal process.
Number Five … Fairfax and Centrelink unite in an unprecedented move to publicly persecute one woman, by Jennifer Wilson.
Early in February, writer and blogger Andie Fox published an account of her interactions with Centrelink over a failure by her ex partner to submit tax returns that led to the department issuing her with a debt notice for over-payment of Family Tax Benefit.
It’s a harrowing account and it resonated with very many people who’ve endured the tortuous process of attempting to explain their situation to Centrelink, after being notified of debt they do not carry. As you may recall, Centrelink is responsible for the unprecedented failure of an automated system that has harassed, threatened, engaged debt collectors and otherwise hounded citizens who have no debt, or a good deal less debt than the department claims.
On Monday, Fairfax journalist Paul Malone published an article titled Centrelink is an easy target for complaints but there are two sides to every story. The article contains the private details of Ms Fox’s interactions with Centrelink, provided to him by the department with the authority of the Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge.
Tudge later triumphantly tweeted the article, which contains details Ms Fox contests.
Just to make it clear: Centrelink has released the private details of an individual citizen without her permission in order to present Alan Tudge’s “side of the story.”
In case there might be any doubt about Tudge’s intentions, Paul Malone and Fairfax have confirmed in their headline that Tudge’s only goal is to use the personal information of a citizen to present his side of the story.
Special mention must go to Michael Griffin whose article Astounding stupidity! Turnbull Liberals award contracts for the anti-gambling Welfare Card to gambling interests! finished in sixth place … with only three less views than the fifth spot.
And a big special mention must go to John Lord, who in April last year reached the outstanding milestone of one million views. Well done, sir.
And even bigger special mentions to John Lord, Kaye Lee and Rossleigh for their prolific output of outstanding articles.
And last, but not least, huge special mentions to every author who published articles on The AIMN in 2017. Anyone of those could have been, and deserved to be, in the Top 5.