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Search Results for: what should shorten do

Day to Day Politics: What should Shorten do now?

Tuesday 5 December 2017

In terms of political strategy I think for any opposition leader to draw attention to himself (other than making rudimentary comments) while his opponents are indulged in their own self-destruction is political folly.

On the Labor side of politics the consensus seems to be that Bill Shorten should, with much urgency, become more aggressive and spruik policy together with an abundance of ideas and a planned future pathway for the nation. And it all should be boxed in a narrative that explains it all with Whitlam-style grandiosity.

But given Turnbull’s predisposition to stuffing things up, there is no hurry. The Government should be left to squirm and fester in the cesspool of political ineptitude it has created.

Timing and patience are required. What I am advocating is that Shorten should firstly take on the high moral ground starting with the repair of our democracy. Necessarily required because of the destruction caused to it by, principally, Tony Abbott and then the current Prime Minister. There is any amount of evidence for it.

There is no doubt that the Australian political system is in need of repair, but it is not beyond it. Shorten should burst into 2018 with a series of speeches titled, “A reformist agenda for our democracy.“

Labor has already taken a small but important first step in allowing a greater say in the election of its leader, however it still has a reform mountain to climb. Besides internal reform that engages its members, it needs to look at ways of opening our democracy to new ways of doing politics: ways that engage those that are in a political malaise so that they feel part of the decision-making process.

Some examples of this are fixed terms, and the genuine reform of Question Time with an independent Speaker.

Shorten needs to promote the principle of transparency by advocating things like no advertising in the final month of an election campaign, and policy costings submitted in the same time frame. You can add reform of the Senate into this mix, and perhaps some form of citizen initiated referendum. Get the people involved.

Given the success of the Marriage Equality survey, consideration should also be given to a plebiscite on the question “Should we have an Australian as head of state?”

Implementing some form of National ICAC is absolutely necessary and would have broad public appeal.

Perhaps even a 10 point common good caveat on all legalisation.

The citizenship fiasco has proven beyond doubt that our Constitution is in need of an overhaul and Shorten should propose a standing panel of review to do so. Even include a debate on a Bill of Rights.

I might add to that a department of the future where policy can be subjected to the riggers of future needs. A department that is constantly looking into the future needs of the country, lock the productivity commission into it.

Appeal for bipartisan government for the common good as Howard did with Hawke and Keating. On top of this is the need to do something about politicians expenses and there justification. You can add foreign political donations to that.

The biggest issue though is a commitment to truth in order to restore people’s trust in government and our representatives.

He needs to convince people of the need for a truly collective representative democracy that involves the people and encourages us to be creative, imaginative and enthusiastic. In a future world dependent on innovation it will be ideas that determines government policy, not the pursuit of power for power’s sake.

Good democracies can only deliver good government and outcomes if the electorate demands it and it doesn’t come about by people being disengaged from the process.

We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so? We need to exercise our creativeness, use our brains, and talk about what is best for ourselves as individuals, couples, families, employees, employers, retirees, welfare recipients and what is affordable for the future of the country. And their needs to be avenues by which our ideas can be presented to government.

Shorten’s narrative must convince the lost voters who have left our democracy to return. Shorten has to turn our democracy on its head on its head, shake it and re-examine it, then reintroduce it as an enlightened ideology-opposite to the Tea Party politics that conservatism has descended into.

He must turn his attention to the young, and have the courage to ask of them that they should go beyond personal desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial, but greatness.

That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of right-wing political indoctrination.

He might even advocate lowering the voting age to sixteen (16 year olds were given that right in the Scottish referendum). An article I read recently suggested the teaching of politics from Year 8, with eligibility to vote being automatic if you were on the school roll.

Debates would be part of the curriculum and voting would be supervised on the school grounds. With an ageing population the young would then not feel disenfranchised. Now that’s radical thinking; the sort of thing that commands attention. It might also ensure voters for life.

Why did the voters leave?

Well over 3.3 million Australians have tuned out of politics because of the destabilisation of leadership, corruption on both sides, the negativity and lies of Tony Abbott (initially), the propaganda of a right-wing monopoly owned media, and the exploitation of its Parliament by Abbott and Turnbull. Somehow the lost voters must be given a reason to return. A reason that is valid and worthwhile. A reason that serves the collective and engages people in the process, and a politic for the social good of all – one that rewards personal initiative but at the same time recognises the basic human right of equality of opportunity.

Shorten needs to campaign for a robust but decent political system that is honest, decent, and transparent, and where respect is the order of the day. A political system where ideas of foresight surpass ideological politics, greed, disrespect, and truth. Where respect, civility and trust are part of vigorous debate and not just uninvited words in the process.

“The right to vote is the gift our democracy gives. If political parties (and media barons, for that matter) choose by their actions to destroy the people’s faith in democracy’s principles and conventions then they are in fact destroying the very thing that enables them to exist”.

The reader might determine that the writer is an idealist of long standing. That is so and I make no apologies.

There is much in the way of common sense to support the narrative I suggest but will a politician of Bill Shortens ilk take the plunge?

All the latest polls give Labor an unambiguously clear lead over their Coalition government. Malcolm Turnbull has proven to be a failure as leader and the electorate has recognised that they elected a dud. He has a trust deficit even worse than the fiscal deficit.

You might ask then, in light of all this, what then is Bill Shorten doing wrong? In spite of a clear lead in the polls he constantly comes under fire for his inability to cut through as Opposition Leader. Even on the pages of this site he is criticised for an incapacity to confront his opponent, communicate policy or at least differentiate it.

Leading your party in opposition must surely be a job you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. It’s a thankless, powerless task that has few positives but comes with enormous expectations from those who follow you.

Releasing policy is considered precarious until the election campaign begins. Ask John Hewson. He tried it. The media focus on the incumbent and often a 10 second grab on the nightly news is about all one can expect. Often you are damned if you support something with bi-partisan intent, or damned if you don’t.

Your followers have a ‘why doesn’t he stick it up ‘em’ mentality that is laced with an unrealistic desire to win every argument along the way.

It is all made the more difficult when your own ability is limited by your personal capacity to deliver succinct messages because people have an expectation that you should have the presentation skills of a Barack Obama, Bill Clinton combined with the charisma of Whitlam or Hawke. Shorten has none of their eloquence, instead showing a distinct inarticulateness that is at times depressive. Often he comes over as just another apparatchik or union boss. As a communicator he lacks charisma and personality. What he does have though is an ability for well thought out policies and ideas. He may very well be the man for the times.

So opposition leaders tend to come over as unconstructive, having nothing good to say, or mere carpers. Abbott of course made a virtue of it.

So what should Shorten do?

Well, for the moment he should sit pat and let Turnbull’s self-destruction take its course. Only react as necessary. At the same time he should not fall into the trap of adopting a small target strategy. As I see it, Bill Shorten, at this time in our political history, has been handed a unique gift.

The opportunity to create a narrative about the decline in our democracy and Abbott’s/Turnbull’s involvement in it. It’s an invitation to do the same as Abbott did. Redefine what opposition is, and do so, in a resoundingly positive way. Acknowledge the faults, the corruption on both sides together with the destruction of our parliamentary conventions and institutions. Shout the need for a new democracy as often as Abbott said “Stop the Boats”.

In every utterance say that good democracies can deliver good government and outcomes only if the electorate demands it. Messages should speak to young and old alike by appealing to people to participate in a new democracy where all policy is cantered on the common good. I can hear the first sentence of his first speech:

“I speak to all who have a common interest in renewing our democracy regardless of ideological association.”

As President Obama said:

“A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonising each other; where we talk issues and values and principles and facts rather than ‘gotcha’ moments or trivial gaffes or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives”.

My thought for the day

“All in all our Parliament has become a cafeteria for self-serving individuals who walk the aisle with tray in hand selecting from a smorgasbord of rorts to select from.”

Abbott’s Royal Knightmare – What should Shorten do?

Photo: heraldsun.com.au

Photo: heraldsun.com.au

The premise of my last post for THE AIMN, Bashing  Bill Shorten was this:

“In terms of political strategy I think for any opposition leader to draw attention to himself (other than making rudimentary comments) while his opponent is in self-destruct mode would be political folly. The same goes for the release of policy. Timing and patience is required. The only exception would be commentary on the reform of his party”.

The Prime Minister’s incredulous appointment of Prince Philip as an Australian Knight and the following furore serves to reinforce my argument.

The fact that we have knighthoods at all is insulting and fundamentally undemocratic, and to give it to a bloke whose interest in Australia is at best marginal, is extraordinary.

Then the PM with spellbinding cringe worthy ignorance calls social media “graffiti on a wall” while his government spends 4.3 mil on finding out the extent of its influence. One word suffices to describe him; it is ‘Luddite’. But then the Prime Minister has always been guilty of being himself.

“Thus the captain of team Australia continues to bat for the other side. Nobody wants to play on his”.

If he had not already lost the people’s trust his decision to knight a 93 year old boring Greek who has survived on the public purse all his life most certainly has.

However, when reading the comments on my previous piece, two things were apparent. The first was that Bill Shorten was not popular. This is confirmed by similar postings on Facebook. The consensus seemed to be that Bill Shorten should, with much urgency, become more aggressive, spruik policy together with ideas and a planned future pathway for the nation and a narrative that explained it all in Whitlam style grandiosity.

What was misunderstood in my piece was the presumption that I was unsympathetic to these objectives. I am not. I want the same passion advocated by other writers on this blog, but I was suggesting there were a number of contexts’ to consider before making any ideological pitch to the Australian public. And given Abbott’s pre disposition to terminal political illness there was no hurry. He should be left to squirm and fester in the cancer he has created.

Let’s look at context.

1. In the latest Essential survey when asked:

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

Political parties were placed last on 13%. Regaining peoples trust is of major importance to the progressive side of politics. (See list at the end of this article.) Shorten has to build his and not rely on Abbott’s unpopularity.

2. It must be remembered that if in the unlikely event the Liberal party replace Abbott with Turnbull (Bishop would be a major leap of faith.) there would be a 10% turn around in the polls. This would not make their task impossible because Turnbull would not necessarily be able to turn around their stinking policies because there is enough distrust among the Dries against him. He might be tightly reigned in, and they may not give it to him regardless.

3. Many Labor policies are probably still a work in progress.

4. There is a widespread belief that the political system, our democracy, is corrupted.

5. It suffers from an emptiness of explanation that needs to be addressed.

6. The next Australian Labor Party National Conference takes place in Melbourne next July. The conference is still the supreme decision-making body of the (traditionally) centre-left major party of Australian politics. National Conference is therefore the main opportunity to secure ‘progressive’ change in ALP policies during this term of Parliament, including on those issues affecting the LGBTI community.

7. 6% of eligible voters went missing at the last election believing they were disenfranchised from the system. Given they are probably disaffected Labor voters, Shorten has to win them back.

What should Shorten do?

In my piece, I counseled well thought out patience, letting Tony Abbott self-destruct at his own pace. Of course he can’t afford to wait around for Abbott to become terminal; it may not happen, and if it does, it will only mean that he will fight another, and perhaps more effective, opponent.

What I am advocating is that Shorten should firstly take on the high moral ground starting with the repair of our democracy. Necessarily required because of the destruction caused to it by the Prime Minister. There is any amount of evidence for it.

There is no doubt that the Australian political system is in need of repair, but it is not beyond it.

Labor has already taken a small but important first step in allowing a greater say in the election of its leader, however it still has a reform mountain to climb. Besides internal reform that engages its members, it needs to look at ways of opening our democracy to new ways of doing politics: ways that engage those that are in a political malaise so that they feel part of the decision-making process again.

Some examples of this are fixed terms, and the genuine reform of Question Time with an independent Speaker. No Government questions etc. Mark Latham even advocates (among other things) its elimination in a new book ‘’The Political Bubble’’. In fact he makes many suggestions of considerable merit.

Shorten needs to promote the principle of transparency by advocating things like no advertising in the final month of an election campaign, and policies and costing submitted in the same time frame. You can add reform of the Senate into this mix, and perhaps some form of citizen initiated referendum. Also things like implementing marriage equality and a form of National ICAC. Perhaps even a 10 point common good caveat on all legalisation. A plebiscite on the question. Should we have an Australian as head of state?

Address inequality. The world’s richest 1 per cent will own more than the other 99 per cent of the world’s wealth by next year. It must promote and vigorously argue the case for action against growing inequality in all its nefarious guises, casting off its socialist tag and seeing policy in common good versus elitist terms. The same fight must also be had for the environment.

Appeal for bipartisan government for the common good as Howard did with Hawke and Keating. On top of this is the need to do something about politicians expenses and there justification.

We need to exercise our creativeness, use our brains, and talk about what is best for ourselves as individuals, couples, families, employees, employers, retirees, welfare recipients and what is affordable for the future of the country.

The biggest issue though is a commitment to truth.

He needs to convince people of the need for a truly collective representative democracy that involves the people and encourages us to be creative, imaginative and exciting. In a future world dependent on innovation it will be ideas that determines government, and not the pursuit of power for power’s sake.

His narrative must convince the lost voters who have left our democracy to return. (And I am assuming that most would be Labor), Shorten has to turn Labor ideology on its head, shake it and re-examine it. Then reintroduce it as an enlightened ideology-opposite to the Tea Party politics that conservatism has descended into.

He must turn his attention to the young, and have the courage to ask of them that they should go beyond personal desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial, but greatness. That they should not allow the morality they have inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of right-wing political indoctrination.

He might even advocate lowering the voting age to sixteen (16 year olds are given that right in the Scottish referendum). An article I read recently suggested the teaching of politics from Year 8, with eligibility to vote being automatic if you were on the school roll.

Debates would be part of the curriculum and voting would be supervised on the school grounds. With an aging population the young would then not feel disenfranchised. Now that’s radical thinking; the sort of thing that commands attention. It might also ensure voters for life.

Why did the voters leave?

How has democracy worldwide become such a basket case? Unequivocally it can be traced to a second-rate Hollywood actor, a bad haircut, and in Australia a small bald-headed man of little virtue. They all had one thing in common. This can be observed in this statement (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich”.

Since Margaret Thatcher made that statement and the subsequent reins of the three, unregulated capitalism has insinuated its ugliness on Western Society and now we have an absurdly evil growth in corporate and individual wealth and an encroaching destruction of the middle and lower classes. These three have done democracy a great disservice.

Where once bi-partisanship flourished in proud democracies, it has been replaced with the politics of hatred and extremism. Where compromise gets in the way of power, and power rules the world.

3.3 Million Australians have tuned out of politics because of the destabilisation of leadership, corruption on both sides, the negativity and lies of Tony Abbott, the propaganda of a right-wing monopoly owned media, and the exploitation of its Parliament by Abbott. Somehow the lost voters must be given a reason to return. A reason that is valid and worthwhile. A reason that serves the collective and engages people in the process, and a politic for the social good of all – one that rewards personal initiative but at the same time recognises the basic human right of equality of opportunity.

Shorten needs to campaign for a robust but decent political system that is honest, decent, and transparent, and where respect is the order of the day. A political system where ideas of foresight surpass ideological politics, greed, disrespect, and truth. Where respect, civility and trust are part of vigorous debate and not just uninvited words in the process.

“The right to vote is the gift our democracy gives. If political parties (and media barons, for that matter) choose by their actions to destroy the people’s faith in democracy’s principles and conventions then they are in fact destroying the very thing that enables them to exist”.

The reader might determine that the writer is an idealist of long standing. That is so and I make no apologies.

There is much in the way of common sense to support the narrative I suggest but will a politician of Bill Shortens ilk take the plunge?

2015 will reveal the character of his leadership.

As President Obama said:

“A better politics is one where we appeal to each other’s basic decency instead of our basest fears. A better politics is one where we debate without demonising each other; where we talk issues and values and principles and facts rather than ‘gotcha’ moments or trivial gaffes or fake controversies that have nothing to do with people’s daily lives”.

 

The Essential Report is a very interesting survey on how people rate our institutions.

 

Those Who Think They Know Everything Upset Those Of Us Who Do!

Ok, I’m sure that somewhere on social media someone will point out the hypocrisy of the title… I frequently have people telling me that I’m wrong or an idiot based on the title of my piece and, while I may in fact be both wrong and an idiot, the point is I can tell that they haven’t read more than the title by the fact that everything in the article agrees with their world view and it’s only the title that’s misleading.

And yes, I know, if I didn’t want people to react to the title, why didn’t I chose a less ironic title? The simple reason is that more people read it when they expect to be outraged than when they expect to agree with every word. For example, my best ever blog was “SOME OF US OWE SCOTT MORRISON A BIG APOLOGY” had thousands of times more views than the one titled: “MORRISON IS A COCKSUCKER!” However that may have been because the word “cocksucker” was actually banned by various social media outlets… I don’t know why. Some of my best friends are cocksuckers and I’ve never held it against them…

Perhaps I should rephrase that!

Anyway, I just thought – as a Christmas present – I’d throw out a small sprig of hope for all those non-Murdoch hypnotised people who are hoping that one day we’ll actually elect a government who has an agenda for improving the world as opposed to just winning the next election. (Yes, Joel Fitzgibbon and friends, I’m including you in that!)

So while various media outlets are telling us that Scott Morrison has the next seven elections in the bag, I’d just like to remind you of the simple fact that 2020 has been full of surprises. Ok, I started the year with shingles and I remember thinking that things wouldn’t get much worse…

Yes, the future is unpredictable. No matter how many times the universe shows us this, we seem completely incapable of learning it. I have suggested that the problem is that ninety percent of things are predictable so we start to presume that everything is and what we don’t realise that not only is that ten percent going to happen from time to time but we don’t actually know which ten percent will be the unpredictable bit..

In terms of elections, I remember after Maggie Thatcher was dumped, John Major – in a shock result – won the next election.

However, I don’t want to go all the way back to last century but without doing major research into votes this century, I’d like to remind you that John Howard was heading for a big defeat when the Tampa sailed in. Kim Beasley decided not to rock the boat (symbolically and literally) and spent the next few months going along with anything Howard said. Then the terrorist attack on the World Trades Centre (or the USA attack it you want a good conspiracy theory) pretty much sealed the election for Howard. Yes, he was a masterful politician who then won another election before losing his seat in 2007.

Let’s just look at recent events and look at the predictable nature of politics:

  • Abbott is elected Liberal leader because his party hated Turnbull and all the good candidates didn’t want to take on Rudd who was sure to win the next election.
  • Kevin Rudd gets dumped by his own party.
  • Abbott nearly wins.
  • Obama is predicted to lose in 2012. He wins.
  • Abbott wins the 2013 election. He is dumped before the next election.
  • The British vote for Brexit much to the surprise of David Cameron who says that he didn’t expect that and he’s not going to stick around.
  • Bill Shorten nearly wins the 2016 election prompting an election night dummy spit from Turnbull.
  • Pauline Hanson shows everyone that both zombies and vampires are real by winning Senate seats at the 2016 election.
  • Donald Trump gets elected POTUS.
  • Jeremy Corbyn goes closer than anyone expected in the British election.
  • In spite of everything he’s done, Clive Palmer thinks that nobody will remember and launches a series of ads and tells his party members that they’ll probably win the election. Some people actually believe him.
  • Bill Shorten is so certain to be elected that one of the betting companies pays out on the result the day before the election.
  •  Trump becomes so irrational that even some Fox News commentators can’t support him.

Ok, this is not an extensive list. And yes, Scotty The Marketer may win the next ten elections. The world is unpredictable.

All we can do is go forward in hope that we’ll be equal to the forces that try to tell us that there’s no point in trying because the future is certain.

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Only in America: A look at Trump from Down Under (part 1)

I posted this article (of the same name) in 2016 in the early days of the US presidential campaign. It remains my favourite piece, and to this day remains pertinent given the dismal failure of the Trump administration and the stupidity of the president himself, and that America votes again in three weeks in what some people consider to be their most important election yet.

This is my 1000th piece for The AIMN – and given the pertinence of my 2016 article – to mark my personal milestone I would like to revisit it. I hope you enjoy it as much now, as you did then. There are some changes, which will be in italics. (I would like to add that the original article was also published on the popular American blog, Crooks And Liars).

Only in America

As a young boy born in the year of the bombing of Pearl Harbour, I have been privy, in my growing up in Melbourne Victoria Australia, to witness the way in which the United States insinuated its post-war mentality into the Australian psyche.

Whether born at home or overseas and whether for good or ill, Australians became Americanised.

Perhaps, I should pause here, lay my cards on the table, and even offer a disclaimer. I confess I haven’t visited the American mainland. Honolulu is as far as I have ventured. There, I was suitably impressed by the hospitality of the people, struck by their obesity, and disillusioned by their ignorance of all things not American. I find them often crass, as well.

As an example, I recall a sightseeing expedition one Summer day on the magnificent Sydney Harbour. The ferry carried a dozen or so American tourists. As we rounded an estuary, we encountered a large yacht race approaching us; their vibrant, colourful spinnakers in full sail. The scene was breathtakingly beautiful, but the loud Americans, more interested in the value of the mansions that dotted the cliffs, spoiled the moment.

On the other hand, I have a number of American Facebook friends with more developed sensibilities, some of whom I speak with regularly on Skype or telephone. These individuals are politically attuned to the downward course America is taking. In heartfelt conversation, they express their despair at the decline of what they once thought – rightly or wrongly – to be the greatest nation on earth. What they once regarded as an enlightened society strengthened by freedom of expression they now question as they see these same constitutional protections used by the Right to foment hatred.

Like me, they believe that in an enlightened society the need to legislate one’s right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

They mention the land of milk and honey in terms of “American Exceptionalism” and wonder why their fellow citizens still believe in the great American dream. They ask themselves if it was all just propaganda, a myth to distract the majority from the wrongs perpetrated against the minority.

Alas, under the leadership of Donald Trump, in the space of four years our view is anything but exceptional.

In fact, our trust in the American President has fallen off a cliff. The decadence of the nation so aptly told through the lies of President Trump explains the latest polling from the Lowy Institute.Since 2011our faith in the US to act responsibly has fallen from 83% to 55%, while only 30% of Australians have confidence in Trump’s foreign policy.”

The only people in Australia who trust in Trump are like-minded conservative equivalents who vote with our government.

I guess what I’m trying to project here is that far from “Making America great again” Trump has turned the swamp into a circus of which he is senior clown.

That an estimated 40% of the population believe in his every word is evidence that firstly the propaganda of the extreme right has been successful. Secondly, that the American people are extremely gullible and thirdly that the bias of Fox News and other media has worked.

Again, I had better pause lest you fail to grasp where I am heading. In Australia we have a saying, “Only in America.” It’s a phrase we say when something outrageously good or bad happens, as though such excesses can occur only in America.

It might be violent racism, another Columbine, kids being slaughtered – any preventable, tragic loss of life that repeats time and again for which no remedy is forthcoming. All of this is beyond the average Australian’s capacity to understand.

In terms of guns we would say in our rather impetuous wisdom that it is time that those with the capacity to change laws that might prevent the mass murder of people and refuse to do so were made to account. After all they are as guilty or as mad, whatever the case, as the perpetrator himself.

We would have similar thoughts for individuals of little empathy for those suffering from the effects of the coronavirus. “The blokes a fairdinkum bloody nut case” you will hear whispered in the corridors of power and shouted in our suburban streets.

In contrast, we also use “Only in America” as a term of endearment when some outstanding achievement occurs: a significant scientific breakthrough, a sporting record, a foot touching the moon’s surface.

How is it, we ask, that the most technologically advanced country in the world is descending into the moral abyss of unscrupulous, partisan political skulduggery and unbridled capitalism?

The profound decay of America in Trump’s term of office has been remarkable. It is also astonishing how it doesn’t seem to be able to be stopped. Racism has become more intrenched and the brutality toward people of colour has intensified.

Partisan politics has become so bitter that the two parties hate each other and seem to be so demarcated that they agree on nothing.

Riots are almost an everyday occurrence and Trump urges them on. His reaction to the COVID-19 deaths – over 215,000 in his own country – is one of little interest.

His behaviour and his spoken words in the election period have been so perplexing that one has to question his sanity.

America’s most famous Journalist Bob Woodward says he fears fur the future of the United States. “I’m deeply, profoundly worried about it.”

“Capitalism,” wrote Martin Luther King Jnr:

“as practiced in the USA does not allow for an even flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.”

Australians once applauded Americans for their ability to disagree on policy issues yet reach bipartisan agreement through compromise for the sake of the country at large. What happened?

Ronald Reagan gained power and legitimised the rise of Neo-conservatism and the Christian Right. This trend continued under George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Karl Rove and their cohort of ideologues. Believing America to be superior in every way to all other countries, they drove the U.S. towards a more aggressive, interventionist foreign policy and tried to reshape the nation domestically in their image, as well.

Sadly, the Americanisation of Australia continues apace and our politics are now increasingly informed by the same corrupt and duplicitous mindset.

In 2013, following four years of leadership turmoil in the Labor Party, Australians in their absentmindedness elected Tony Abbott as Prime Minister.

Neo-conservative Republicanism had crossed the oceans and invaded our Australian way of life; a culture that once had fairness at the core of its being. It is now a place where less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware.

Conservatives fed them all the bullshit they needed to hear. And the menu generally contained a fair portion of Americanised persuasive untruth. And the lying from Abbott began in earnest:

“Let’s be under no illusions: the carbon tax was socialism masquerading as environmentalism”.

With that statement and many more like it he took Australia into far-right conspiracy theory politics.

After two years the public, and indeed his party had had enough of the politics of fear and replaced him with the more moderate and sensible Malcom Turnbull. Ironically though it now has a centre left leader leading a far-right party.

Australian politics is now a corrupt mess and the more the government get away with the more emboldened they become.

We have seen such a decline in the practice of government that it wouldn’t surprise me if circumstances might prevail that would give the conservatives a long period of power that might entrench them. So good has the propaganda been. Add to it the lack of interest the public has in politics and you have a situation where maintaining the status quo is but a few lies away. Our current Christian Prime Minister copies the Trump methodology of only pleasing those that will help you win.

How bitterly dispiriting it is when the hearts and minds of our politicians are so utterly corrupted by this virus of political lies, but more demoralising it is that ordinary people catch the same infection.

So emphatically poor of political morality is the U.S. now that there is a distinct possibility that an ill of mind billionaire entertainer in Donald Trump might trump a second-grade movie actor to become the next president.

How a man of such ill repute, threatened by two countries to be disallowed entry, could even be nominated beggar’s belief. It even questions the sanity of those who would contemplate his election.

To think that the Republican Party could ever consider a megalomaniac like Trump as a nominee to run for the presidency illustrates just how low the GOP have fallen.

That he wanted to exit the hospital after treatment for COVID-19 wearing a Superman t-shirt under his suit so he could dramatically reveal it upon leaving hospital last week confirms his mental state.

The New York times says that “he ultimately decided against the stunt, thus depriving the world of what would have been a… memorable moment in a year of memorable moments.”

 

Continued tomorrow… (link to Part 2)

My thought for the day

The Office of the American President was once viewed by its people as an office of prestige and importance. Trump has reduced it to one of ridicule and contempt.

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So, How Will You Do It Better?

By 2353NM

In the next 12 to 18 months there are a number of elections coming up across Australia. Presumably, in amongst the cries of ‘you’re on mute’ in the socially distanced meetings called by all the political parties to plan and strategise their marketing, they are trying to work out how to convince you that their candidate is the shining light of goodness and rationality in the competition and their opponents are the devil incarnate.

To those who don’t belong to political parties, it can seem at times that candidates are picked by some arcane processes similar to inspecting chicken entrails, consulting oracles and reading the tea leaves. Regardless of what really happens, the preselections by a ‘representation’ of the party faithful sometimes seem to produce people that would be far better off in some other field of endeavour. The scary thing for the people paid by the political parties to convince you and me that we should vote for their particular side of the political fence is that the candidates that do get elected choose the ‘leaders’ of the party.

The leader then relies on the support of these elected candidates, something that can probably be demonstrated by Morrison shutting down criticism of Liberal Party backbencher Craig Kelly despite statements promoting the use of the discredited drug hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, which was subsequently shared online by former TV chef and current conspiracy theory promoter Pete Evans. We have no evidence to suggest Morrison called Kelly and effectively told him to keep his opinions to himself as he has no relevant medical experience or qualifications (and by the way, neither does Pete Evans).

Most people, let alone politicians, will claim they want to improve the circumstances they and those around them live in. The advertising executives hired by the political operatives will be ‘creating’ marketing statements such a ‘A strong economy, a better life’, to convince you and me that that even though the local candidate might be a complete tosser, the ‘leader’ is worth voting for. The slogans are pure drivel and tell us nothing. Motherhood statements involving the words ‘stronger’, ‘better’, ‘security’, ‘great’, ‘supporting’, ‘making’ generally imply a lot but really tell us nothing. And in real life, the train that’s going to run the country down is at the stop before yours.

If you think about it rationally for a minute, the expectation that anyone can guarantee exactly what they will do in the next three years is delusional. A perfect example is Morrison going to the last federal election promising strong economic management — even to Federal Treasurer Frydenberg announcing the budget was already back in the black a year before it was scheduled to happen. COVID-19 put paid to that aspiration. This century alone, we have had a global financial crisis appear out of nowhere to derail most of the aspirational targets promised by Kevin Rudd in the 2007 election campaign and a pandemic doing the same to Morrison’s 2019 campaign.

That’s the problem. Life is full of unfulfilled promises. It’s far easier to tear down a political opponent by latching onto some detail and make the case that the opponent should not be elected because of a flaw in their targets or aspirations than to develop, publicise and argue for alternative policies. It was far easier for Morrison to suggest Bill Shorten was ‘the Bill you can’t afford’ than to discuss his and his team’s vision for Australia’s future should the Coalition be re-elected.

A number of years ago on The Political Sword, we discussed that the only ‘industry’ that could get away with blatantly untrue advertising in Australian media is politics. Regretfully, the situation hasn’t changed and there is still nothing wrong in the eyes of the law with Morrison implying Shorten would introduce excessive taxes with ‘the Bill you can’t afford’ or the ALP claiming at the previous election that the Coalition might scrap Medicare. What the political parties are doing is telling us why we shouldn’t vote for their opponents, leaving a vacuum in policy development in this country and arguably all of us are poorer because it’s safer politically to promise nothing and deliver likewise.

It’s about time that political parties determined that most of us do have two brain cells to rub together and we are actually interested in a discussion around why we should vote for your party, rather than why we shouldn’t vote for the other parties. There is a good reason that most businesses in Australia aren’t using negative advertising to detract from their competition — it’s either illegal or breaches advertising standards. Negative political advertising demonstrates two things — they either have targets they don’t want to talk about should they win the election or they are desperate. Either way, the political parties that employ the ‘strategy’ should be questioned on how they would do it better.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

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Wear the bastards down – that’s what we have to do

Only our politicians could think of reasons why they in their personal conduct, their workplace and the political decisions they make, shouldn’t be investigated for suspected wrongdoing.

With that statement l inform you that a parliamentary committee made up of three conservative and two Labor MPs has, this week, rejected outright a code of conduct and establishing an independent parliamentary standards commissioner.

Movement on the proposed federal anti-corruption commission has been placed in quarantine. Earlier this year, the attorney general, Christian Porter, indicated that draft legislation had been ready for release but was delayed due to COVID-19.

How often will they use that excuse in the future?

The government has already missed several self-imposed deadlines to introduce its legislation. The model it has proposed has been widely criticised as weak as water and in need of a decent stir.

There are many and varied reasons as to why we need a Federal Integrity Commission. All in their own way demand your attention. Corruption stands out amongst them.

However, in this instance l put to you that just one wrongdoing justifies the establishment of a commission to keep the bastards honest. Of course, if you accept that it’s OK for our politicians to tell us lies, half-truths and lies by omission then you will obviously disagree.

Lying is not good under most circumstances, especially in the public domain. l have always maintained that the Australian public simply cannot expect good policy to start emanating from government until we begin to clean up the system itself. Bill Shorten committed Labor to do so but the Coalition came in late in the campaign and the voices in support were but a whisper. History shows that Labor lost and the LNP thus far has reneged on its promise.

I, like many other readers of this site, feel that for many years now the integrity of our politics has been gradually sold out by a bunch of corrupt politicians more intent on feathering their own nests than working for the people. We are sick to death of the travel rorts, the living away from home allowance, donation rorts, and ministers when they retire, walking into senior positions with companies in the same field.

Bill Shorten described:

“… restoring public confidence in Australia’s democratic system as “bigger than me versus Morrison, bigger than Labor versus Liberal” and crucial to winning back trust.”

“Because the most corrosive sentiment in democracies around the world is the idea that politicians are only in it for themselves.”

But if the commission doesn’t have authority similar to a Royal Commission, independence with broad jurisdiction, with all the investigative powers it requires and is without government interference then all will be in vain.

Why do we need a Federal Integrity Commission?

On Wednesday the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee released a report on a Greens reform proposal, which:

“… sought to establish a statutory, independently enforced code of conduct to govern the behaviour of parliamentarians.”

In its wisdom, the committee concluded that:

“Based on the evidence before it, this committee is not persuaded that the circumstances have now changed such that there is a strong argument for introducing a code.”

Lying, misinformation, lying by omission, subliminally implied suggestions, straightforward propaganda, deliberate scare-campaigning and any form of untruthful communication has become the norm in the way politicians and the media converse with the public. So normal and long applied has this form of conversation become that we are now unquestioning of it.

That’s why we need a Federal Integrity Commission.

My thought for the day

If we are to save our democracy we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should be transparent and tell the truth.

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Scottie, It’s Time To Get Democracy From Under The Doona!

Just twelve months ago, I was thinking about what a challenge writing was going to be. I mean, I expected that we were going to have a Shorten Labor government and, while I was sure that it would only be a matter of time before I’d be able to apply my satiric style to them, I was sure it was going to be more of a challenge. Let’s be real. With the Coalition the satire practically writes itself.

Take, for example, Scottie telling us that it’s time to get out from under the doona and that we need to get things moving again while it’s still too dangerous to fully re-open Parliament…

Of course the danger in having a full session of Parliament has nothing to do with Covid-19; the danger is all those tricky questions people get asked in Question Time and Senate Estimates. There’s only so many times you can ‘reject the premise of the question” before someone actually says, “Well, I reject the premise of your rejection!” leading to a premise rejecting interchange reminiscent of Monty Python’s argument sketch.

The strange thing to me about politics is the stupidity of what we discuss.

Now I’m not holding myself up as someone outside the stupidity here. I’m not trying to suggest that somehow I’m above it all and it’s all your fault. I’m just saying that there’s something basically wrong with the way we discuss politics. Because the media is all about conflict, it means that when we have that dinner party and people start to disagree we’re all concerned that it’s going to end up like a discussion between a Trump supporter and a supporter of ISIS whereas the reality is that we all share more common values than the media would have us believe… even the Trump and the ISIS guys…

Actually, probably especially the Trump and ISIS guys…

But anyway, we have people popping up all over social media talking about 5G and complaining about the conspiracy of silence over Bill Gates determination to control the world, but we have almost nobody concerned about the legislation that Dutton is trying to slip through that would enable him to arrest Morrison and prevent his access to a lawyer because the lawyer keeps making it difficult to obtain a confession.

Ok, ok, I know this is Australia and that sort of thing would never be done even though the legislation allows it. I mean, a few years ago people were concerned that some of the security legislation could be used to intimidate journalists and that’s never happened…

Well, as far as we know it’s never happened. Some of it would be illegal to report, so we just have to trust people, content in the knowledge that no journalist has been charged yet and as far as that Annika Smethurst is concerned if you’ve got nothing to hide there’s no problem with the AFP going through your underwear drawers.

In order to write this, I decided that it might be interesting to re-read the Liberal Party’s “Real Solutions” booklet. I suspect that’s not available in most good bookstores but here’s a copy

.

Now what do you notice about all the people on the front cover? Apart from the obvious that they were all ministers in Abbott’s attempt to prevent us from being too smug about the USA electing Donald Trump.

That’s right. There’s not a single one of them left in the government. (That’s Warren Truss, not Eric Aidsandabetz, in case you were going to try and point that the latter is still haunting the Senate like the ghost of Christmas Past.)

It’s pretty interesting when you think about it. I mean, you’d expect a few to have moved on, but just two elections later and nobody who was considered senior enough to make the front cover is left.

Which makes me wonder to what extent, Scottie was able to pull it off last year because voters thought of him as a new government and didn’t associate him with the mess from Abbott and Turnbull. After all, you only have to look at the way the media is presenting him as a candidate for canonisation due to his handling of the Covid-19 crisis. It seems to be something along the lines of, “He hasn’t stuffed up like he did with the bushfires because, not only did he stay in the country this time, but he also changed his mind about going to the football. Clearly he’s learned and is now up there with people like Menzies, Gandhi, Jesus and Alexander the Great.”

Of course, I still think of the fable about the scorpion and the frog*

I mean how else can you explain someone who’s put everyone on government benefits now complaining and telling us people shouldn’t be on government benefits and we need to get out from under the doona? How else do you explain someone suggesting that we need to Improve productivity (read lower wages) because nothing stimulates demand like workers on less money? And how else do we explain that every time a new advisory body is formed we find it’s stacked with ex-Liberal MPs and fossil fuel executives regardless of whether they have any expertise in that area or not.

Actually did you notice the story that Covid-19 recovery guy, Nev Power, is talking up a pipeline to take gas from WA to the eastern states. Some have suggested that because Nev is a director of Stryke Energy there appears to be a conflict of interest but as the Liberals frequently tell us, just because someone will benefit from the advice they give the government doesn’t mean there’s a conflict. Quite the opposite!

Yes, we can expect Saint Scottie of Marketing to soon be telling us that we’ve had our fine and it’s time to balance the budget again. We will do this by a combination of cutting services and government payments, while giving businesses big tax cuts. Why would cut taxes when we’re trying to make the budget balance and there’s no evidence that it’ll lead to more jobs?

Well, as the scorpion told the frog, “It’s my nature!”

”A scorpion asks a frog to carry him over a river. The frog is afraid of being stung, but the scorpion argues that if it did so, both would sink and the scorpion would drown. The frog then agrees, but midway across the river the scorpion does indeed sting the frog, dooming them both. When asked why, the scorpion points out that this is its nature.”

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The Mongrel that is Rupert Murdoch

In an effort to deflect some recent criticism from former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, and former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten about his media empire, while addressing News Corp’s December 2019 annual general meeting Rupert Murdoch assured all that:

“There are no climate change deniers around I can assure you” after he was asked at the corporation’s AGM why his company gives them “so much airtime” in Australia.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, Guardian Australia’s Amy Remeikis exposed the lie that this was in her article Rupert Murdoch says ‘no climate change deniers around’ – but his writers prove him wrong.

On April 25, 2014, I wrote a review of the Paul Barry book; Breaking News: Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Succession. Here is a short extract:

Depressingly readable is the best way to describe Paul Barry’s revealing biography of Rupert Murdoch. I placed the word mongrel in the title of this piece but it could just as easily used scumbag, which means a contemptible or objectionable person.

It is a story about one man. A man with a love for money, power, influence, acquisitions, wives, children and even scandal. Scandal makes money.

Covering much of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, it is fluent yet comprehensive, with a not-too-much-not-too-little approach to Murdoch’s life.

It is brilliantly written. Barry has a rare talent for the exposure of things complex and how to unravel them.

What was depressing for me was the uncouthness of the man in question. He has obtained a vast fortune by printing smut and conditioning people to reading it and in doing so has displayed a complete disregard for the lives of others. His obsession with profit over anything else, even people’s privacy, is staggering. His business and personal moral corruption stands out larger than the worst of his tabloid headlines.

Having the power to elect governments is the ultimate power that carries with it the highest rewards that corruption can bring.

On three occasions I had to put the book down, so affronted was I by this vile nefarious excuse for humanity. One time was when one of his tabloid editors described the reason for his papers existence by saying:

“The reason we exist is to destroy peoples lives.”

On 7 September 2017, I wrote another piece titled about Murdoch, pondering whether he will again tell us how to vote, pointing out that his influence in the distribution of print media had waned but they were still the go-to news for the right-wing.

Again, here is a short extract:

So in terms of political influence Labor has little to fear from the nefarious front pages and slanted editorials of his tabloids. The 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 spectacular.

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.

I went on to say that:

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 the presenters of untruth quickly absorb whatever bias is on for the day.

Putting Julia Gillard aside those who feel most aggrieved, Shorten, Rudd and Turnbull have every right to feel so.

That one man through his power of opinion can make or break governments and individuals is just demonstrably and democratically wrong.

During the last election, Bill Shorten copped scathing headlines and opinions from the Murdoch stable of filthy headlines as to his character and anything else they could attack, which I covered in my Election Diary:

With an ever-increasing hostility from the Newscorp tabloids and The Australian Shorten at a press conference on Thursday decided to hit back.

I suggest you read this piece from Paddy Manning in which he says that:

Shorten let rip: “First of all, it is just a nonsense claim,” he said of the suggestion that Labor’s carbon reduction policy could cost business $25 billion. He continued: “It is built upon the back of a big lie. It says somehow that using international offsets to help abate carbon is a bad thing.” In terms of the costs, Shorten said that the Labor plan relied on the same public modeling as the government.

Shorten continued: “The News Corp climate change deniers and their ally, the prime minister – a coal-wielding, climate-denying cave-dweller on this issue – they all say, ‘Look at the cost,’ but never mention the cost of extreme weather events, do they? They never mention the cost of not getting into renewables, and they never mention energy prices, do they?”

The Daily Telegraph has been vomiting out its usual front pages. The Australian is in a battle with itself to see how many anti Labor headlines it can fit on its front pages. After dark Sky News is so partisan it only has comedic value.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

Murdoch and his majority owned newspapers with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society. On the contrary it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably.

They even promote free speech as if they are the sole custodians of it.

I don’t think anyone could deny Newscorp’s bias and their capacity to influence the character assassination of any individual should they want to.

However, as I said earlier given the declining influence of its mastheads the question is how much influence does he really have?

The outspoken former head of News Corp Kim Williams reckons Malcolm Turnbull has overstated the Murdoch press’s ability to influence elections because News Corp is “old media” with dwindling power.

He described Newspapers as a “terminating technology” and would soon disappear.

“I am surprised at the severity of Malcolm Turnbull’s comments because it attributes a level of power to old media that I don’t think they have any longer… ”

Conversely, Turnbull’s view was that:

“Media barons, and many other billionaires, like politicians who are dependent on them…

So, while it’s easy to say that the Murdoch’s thought I was too liberal, at the heart of it was the fact that they knew I was my own man, and had seen that up close many times over 40 years.

With Abbott they had a deferential prime minister they thought they controlled.

A similar assessment can be made of Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and their colleagues at 2GB – in their vanity and megalomania, Jones and Hadley berate and bully politicians who don’t kowtow to them.”

Sometimes it is good to stop, think, evaluate and formulate one’s own opinion instead of being influenced by the media and other vested interests.

In a no holds barred piece for The Guardian late last year Kevin Rudd went on the attack:

“And for those who think it will all expire when Rupert dies, there’s another Murdoch in waiting. Lachlan is every bit as conservative as his father, including being a climate change denier. Murdoch has cultivated an atmosphere of fear in Australia.

Debating Murdoch’s power has long been effectively off-limits. Politicians, academics, corporates, even journalists and commentators from other news organisations are fearful for their own reputations, because they know from experience that Murdoch’s editorial henchmen will come after anyone who attacks them, with a view to shredding the offender’s reputation.

Murdoch editors see no need to correct the record when they print inaccuracies or just make stories up. After all, who is going to have the guts to challenge them? Which is why we have such a deafening national silence in this country on the problem, which dare not speak its name: Murdoch.”

A Death Certificate might show proof of death but the legacy you leave behind will demonstrate how you lived.

A Royal Commission is long overdue into the nefarious working of Murdoch and his mafia-like behaviour.

It is well known that Murdoch’s media outlets in Australia lose millions of dollars every year, so why does a man who luxuriates in the making of it allow this?

It can only be for the power and influence it gives him. At nearly 90 one might question its importance, but then, old habits die-hard.

My thought for the day

There are those who make money but are never remembered. There are others who do great deeds and are.

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Incident on the Bulldog Run

I can see by some of the recent comments that there are those who are getting a bit “nervy” … tempers are being tested and in some, found wanting … so please, if it can be of assistance in these testing times, perhaps you can let ol’ Uncle Joe tell you a tale or two to settle the nerves … after all, we may be here for some time.

Now … where were we?

If you turn off the main “Halfway House Road” there about seven mile out of the town, there onto a dirt, bush track; “The Bulldog Run” and go a few miles down that track, you’ll see away there off the side in the mallee scrub; Rhidoni’s old place … a small cottage built in that old pioneer style of four rooms with a lean-to on the back and the old “bucket ‘n’ chuck-it” dunny out the back yard.

The Hocking family had made this cottage their home … for the near future .. a future fraught with the uncertainty of shifting fortune and work … Not that Dick Hocking was such a determined seeker of full-time permanent employment … nor was his wife Alice that keen to become a part of any township community … herself having escaped from a trapped, middle-class life back in civil-war torn Ireland, but still retaining enough of that class’s snobbery to scorn small-town society.

No … the bush suited them just fine and so they sought out these cheap-rental, isolated cottages where scrutiny and regulation was never a problem.

So in consequence, Dick and Alice Hocking and their children stayed in many old pioneer huts out in the deep mallee back in the pre-war years … Because of their isolated positions, far from the nearest town, these huts and settler’s cottages could be rented much cheaper … and with them never being flush of funds at the best of times …

Such run-down old pioneers huts, part stone construct, part pug ‘n’ pine were the usual homes on such tracks as “The Sleeper Track” … named after the cutting of railway sleepers … ”The Seven Cross-roads” or as it is locally known; “The Seven Sisters Junction” … or in the case I am about to tell of: “The Bulldog Run” … locally shortened to just “The Bulldog” … not named solely on account of that particular breed of dog, but because of the wilds of country there … as in; “That’s wild country out there … real bulldog country … ”

It was at Rhidoni’s old place … out in the sticks there just a bit off from The Bulldog … The Hockings lived there a while with three of their children … there were five kids, but the eldest girl had gone to work on one of the river stations as a servant girl and the oldest boy had got work at the local post office in the town of Sedan and was away for most weekends … that left the two early teenage girls and the youngest boy who was around four or five years old.

The parents went to town one day, taking the youngest boy with them to get supplies, leaving the two girls home with the company of a local youth named Murray also in his late teens, who was courting after the elder girl, Maggie … he was safe … But there were some dodgy characters who made their way to the Murray Mallee to escape the law in the city and there was no better place to “disappear” than in the wilds of the mallee in those days … Such a desperate character came upon the cottage there with the three teenagers alone.

The rough looking man watched the youths play a while, reassuring himself there was no adult about … He then calmly approached them in the front yard.

“Hello, children,” he said, his gaze roaming cautiously about, ”Is mum or dad around?” He asked in an innocuous tone as if he knew the parents … foolishly, Rose, the younger of the three replied that “No … they had gone to the town to get supplies and won’t be back for a while” …

The man nodded, tipped his hat and melted into the bush …

But the teenagers became suspicious of his motives when they spotted him lurking about just out a ways in the scrub … They decided it was better if they went inside when they saw him sneaking up closer to the house …

It was fortunate they did, for no sooner than they had gone inside than they heard him cautiously try the door handle … the three children silently stared in fear as the handle of the door moved up and down and then could hear the door creaking and see the door being forced upon gently with his shoulder as he tried to get in … Now this is when things got a tad worse! … Rose had a little dog … a poodle she was most fond of and it had been forgotten when they retreated into the house … Rose became distressed when she noticed the dog’s absence and with a shriek, quickly ducked out the back door to retrieve the poodle, much to the panicked cries of Maggie and her boyfriend Murray …

“NO! … Rosie … come back!” But it was too late … they heard her call for the dog and they could hear the man leave the front door and scurry toward the voice of Rose … They heard his rough voice cry:

“YOU … stay there! … ”

Murray opened the front door and called for Rose …

“IN HERE Rosie, the front door!” and she suddenly appeared, little dog in arms and scurried through the front door with the rough man not half a dozen strides behind her! … Murray slammed the door in his face and quickly secured it … the man put his shoulder to the door and crashed it several times, but fortunately it was built of strong, stout rough-cut timber with a cross-bar securing it, so it stood firm against his thrusts … He then went to get the axe there at the wood heap and proceeded to hack at the door … The children were terrified …

Here, the youth; Murray, did the smartest thing he would do in what turned out to be an otherwise mundane life … He went as close to the front door as to be heard by the man outside and in a ‘just too loud’ whisper, said:

“Maggie … go get your dad’s 303 rifle and I’ll shoot the bugger through the door!” …

All went silent, the axe went still and the man seemed to think for a moment and then abandoned his intended deed and slunk away quickly into the bush … Of course, there was no rifle, it was just a clever bluff … and it worked … The police who later came and searched for the man found him and reported to the parents that he was a wanted rapist from the city …

Lucky children indeed …

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The clock is ticking ever closer to Doomsday

In developing a policy, as a broad generalisation, it is wise to explore the possible adverse effects as well as the advantages of adopting that policy.

But if you have an enemy on your borders and delay may mean that your efforts to repel an invasion will be unlikely to succeed, what should you do?

“India and China as well as the USA are responsible for the greatest increases in emissions. Our efforts will be wasted if they do nothing.”

“Solar panels will not last for ever and we may have significant problems recycling them.”

“We have survived an earlier Ice Age, and Warm and Cold periods have happened before, so what is the problem now?”

“Why are people so certain that mankind has been responsible for the present increase in temperatures?”

These are some of the arguments being put by people who do not agree that there is an urgent need to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gases.

There are, in fact, plenty of countries which are not only doing something positive but are creating impressive milestones.

Please note – whenever something is stated as a ‘fact’, ideally it should be followed by the statement “based on current knowledge”. And that knowledge is based on scientific research which has determined the level of probability of a particular hypothesis – and on accurate reporting. The more likely it is to be true, the more confidence we can place in that ‘fact’.

Death, taxes and change are, after all, pretty much the only certainties in life! You don’t know when you will die, how much tax you will pay in the future nor how much change will occur!

At this point in time, we do know there is no Planet B!

People get confused by the concept of ‘climate’, which is inherently local. When scientists are talking about July 2019 being the hottest month on record, and you are freezing in Antarctica, you need to realise that they are referring to the highest average world temperature, which takes account of the whole world, not just a region.

The whole climate change, global warning issue is a whole world issue requiring cooperation which is only slowly forthcoming.

In the last election campaign, Bill Shorten was vilified because he would not answer the question as to now much his plans to counter global warming would cost.

What he should have answered, is “How much will it cost over the next decade to repair damage and recompense people if the severe weather patterns, droughts, fires and storms we have been experiencing actually continue or even worsen?”

How long is a piece of string?

The adults who criticise Greta Thunberg should be charged with child abuse!

She has a brain which is capable of analysis and research at a level way beyond most of them. She has researched the data, she is quoting the experts and she is fighting for a future for her own and following generations.

As are many adults who fear for the future of their own grandchildren. They are, in many cases, activists who are fighting for survival of humanity, against government inaction and flawed policies.

Greed and monetary interests have taken priority in most governments, including our own. We talk endlessly about the economy but we brush aside criticism of government policies which are actually hurting vulnerable people.

We have truly lost our moral compass, following get-rich-quick cults and ignoring the needs of those who do not have a chance to ‘have a go’!

We waste food while the poor in other countries – and some in our own – are starving.

We have developed a throw-away economy where manufacturers build in obsolescence.

We pollute to the point that some fresh water sources are no longer suitable for consumption.

The rate of loss of species diversity is enormous. No surprise, when we recognise that humankind is the Earth’s most dangerous predator!

The clock is ticking ever closer to Doomsday, and all the wealth, in financial terms, which a few have accumulated, will not save them forever when the air and water are polluted and the temperatures soar out of control! They might end up living lonely lives in luxurious caves!

Government funding cuts and concentration on research that brings in money has not yet quite destroyed the CSIRO. We have plenty of sources of viable plans for action.

All is not lost – yet!

Please can we persuade governments, starting with our own, that time is truly running out for action to be effective.

Stop thinking “What’s in it for me?” and start thinking “How can we ensure that humankind survives in a world which is not totally hostile?”

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All Aboard The Australian Political Change Bus: Why Does It Usually Run So Late So Often?

By Denis Bright  

At last political spin doctors want Australians to move on from the rhetorical victory laps of the federal LNP after its surprise victory on 18 May 2019. Cheering on the victory laps cannot go on indefinitely even if sections of the federal LNP still want to continue the polarising rhetoric on issues like the need for more coal fired power stations for North Queensland to compete with One Nation in regional seats at next year’s state election (The Australian, 29 October 2019):

Scott Morrison and Matt Canavan reportedly had a heated argument over a new coal-fired generator in Queensland with the Resources Minister overheard shouting “this is f***ed” during the closed-door meeting.

Tensions over the roll-out of a new coal-fired generator at Collinsville in central Queensland boiled over during a fiery exchange in the Prime Minister’s office in Canberra last Tuesday, The Courier Mail reports.

The clash was reportedly so loud it was heard by others waiting in the corridor outside, including first time MP Phil Thompson and Capricornia MP Michelle Landry.

The war-of-words is alleged to have been sparked by a “go-slow” directive given by the Prime Minister’s Office on a business case for the new generator.

During the election campaign, Senator Canavan announced a $10 million study to develop the business case for baseload power options, including in Collinsville.

The row came amid a split in Coalition ranks over its drought funding strategy last week, with ­Nationals MPs blindsiding Scott Morrison with a $1.3bn policy document leaked without approval from leader Michael McCormack.

Such antics were destined to prepare for a polarising Queensland state election in late 2020. Most constituents alas are perfectly aware of the financial and environmental costs of climate change and the pragmatic value of energy transition strategies. Unlike the National Party, the wider federal LNP must also hold marginal metropolitan seats where Pauline Hanson is no folk hero.

Even the local news on 4CA in Cairns projected a strong environmental theme (30 October 2019):

The scientific community has shown that the Great Barrier Reef is in imminent danger of massive damage and, ultimately, complete loss unless global warming is limited to 1.5C.

Report author Bill Hare, director of Climate Analytics, said: “If Queensland continues to emit carbon pollution from energy use at the same rate as in 2017, the state’s Great Barrier Reef safe carbon budget will be used up in less than 12 years, by 2031.

“As the highest carbon-emitting state in Australia and custodian of the Reef, Queensland urgently needs to get its house in order and do its bit to limit warming to 1.5oC.

“To ensure that Queensland’s carbon emissions stay within a carbon budget consistent with global efforts to meet the Paris Agreement limit of 1.5oC, Queensland needs to cut energy and industrial emissions by a total of 58% by 2030 (compared to 2005 levels) and reach zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The good news is that there are tremendous opportunities for Queenslanders in a decarbonised economy due to its cheap and plentiful solar and other renewable energy resources, advanced industrial capabilities and existing resource industry and infrastructure.

“For Queensland to take advantage of these opportunities and stay within the carbon budget it is of vital importance for the government to develop a whole of economy Great Barrier Reef safe strategy.”

State Labor currently holds four seats of Cook, Cairns, Barron River and Mulgrave in the 4CA catchment. The seats of Hill, Hinchinbrook and Traeger in the regional hinterlands from the Coral Sea to the NT Border are held by the Katter’s Australia Party (KAT).

In this time to move on from the 2019 national election campaign, Anthony Albanese used the CEDA forum on 29 October 2019 to offer a broad-church strategy from the Labor Party as the State of the States Report from CommSec.

In a responsibly conservative style, the Opposition Leader offered some hope for a new consensus between business and Labor that would also tackle the climate change emergency. Not being able to find the full text of Anthony Albanese’s headland address to the nation from the CEDA forum in Perth, I must reply on the synopsis from Matt Coughlan of the West Australian (29 October 2019):

Labor leader Anthony Albanese has vowed to “circuit-break” a crisis in training and vocational education with a new federal agency targeting skills and workforce shortages.

Mr Albanese used his first major policy speech as opposition leader to promise to create a Jobs and Skills Australia under a Labor government.

“I am determined to circuit-break the crisis in training and vocational education,” he said in Perth on Tuesday.

The agency would be established with legislation and in partnership with large and small business leaders, unions, regional experts and federal, state and territory governments.

Mr Albanese wants it to be data-driven, working with labour market technology from professional websites Seek and LinkedIn.

He said the new agency would have a similar model to Infrastructure Australia, which he established as minister in 2008 and has since become bipartisan policy.

“A collaborative model to guide investment in human capital, just as Infrastructure Australia guides investment in physical capital,” he said

Jobs and Skills Australia would undertake:

* Workforce and skills analysis

* Capacity studies, including for emerging and growing industries

* Specific plans for targeted cohorts such as the regions, workers aged over 55 and youth

* Reviews of the adequacy of the training and vocational system.

It would have an obligation to undertake workforce forecasting skills assessments for majority government-funded services like the National Disability Insurance Scheme, aged care and health.

Mr Albanese said Jobs and Skills Australia would form the basis of a new compact.

“It will work with business and unions to harness insights from industry to ensure that training is meeting not just today’s needs but to anticipate how work is changing,” the opposition leader said.

In coming months, Labor will also look at industrial relations reforms to address job insecurity and uncertainty for workers.

As Australian investment trends worsen, even the federal LNP has decided to endorse a cautious energy transition agenda which still includes the possibility of new and upgraded coal fired power stations (The Guardian, 30 October 2019):

An extra $1bn is being handed to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to invest in projects aimed at ensuring a reliable electricity supply.

The new fund – separate to the corporation’s existing capital – will be earmarked for power generation, storage and transmission projects such as pumped hydro, batteries and gas.

Eleven of the 12 new generation investments shortlisted for the Coalition’s energy underwriting program are also eligible for funding, although Guardian Australia has confirmed that both new coal power stations and coal power upgrades will be ineligible.

The underwriting program shortlist includes a proposed upgrade to an existing coal-fired power station in NSW’s Lake Macquarie put forward by coal baron and LNP donor, Trevor St Baker.

Labor’s carbon emission targets are highly compatible with the infusion of new investment in both energy transition and support for new infrastructure particularly in depressed regions and the outer-suburban fringes as covered in a recent 7.30 Report.

To avoid a repeat of the highly successful LNP scare-campaigns against progressive taxation measures, investment funding for the economy of the future must surely come from the local financial sector and overseas investment. Both Paul Keating and Anthony Albanese want no immediate return to traditional stimulus spending models against previous investment down-turns (Shane Wright for the SMH, 29 October 2019):

All governments have been urged by the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to use low rates to expand their infrastructure programs in a bid to drive down the unemployment rate and lift wages. The RBA’s official cash rate sits at a record low of 0.75 per cent while interest rates on government debt are at near-record lows.

Mr Keating said with monetary policy barely having an impact, and the economy growing at 1.4 per cent, it was time for the government to develop a growth-led agenda.

The economy is idling at the lights, it’s like the car idling at the lights, waiting for the lights to turn green again to take off,” he said. “The economy at 1.4 per cent is simply idling.”

Mr Keating, who oversaw the first budget surpluses since the 1950s when he was treasurer, said Howard government treasurer Peter Costello had been correct to follow with more surpluses. But that focus on a return to surplus was now risking the broader economy, with too many within the Liberal Party believing the budget should be run like a small corner shop.

As member for Whitlam in the House of Representatives, Stephen Jones has taken the case for more investment in sustainable mining to assist in building the new economy

Greg Jericho’s critical economic analysis in the The Guardian (22 October 2019) does suggest that the federal LNP is starting to believe its own rhetoric about economic competence during a time of global economic downturn:

Given the market sector is roughly 82% of the economy, you would expect it to contribute around 80% of the growth in the economy every year. And yet over the past year, the non-market sector actually contributed more to economic growth than did the market sector.

The market sector only accounted for 44% of the growth in the economy, and when we exclude mining, that number falls to just 15%:

Government revenue has been artificially inflated by the failure of the senate crossbench to deliver company tax reductions for large companies.

As noted by Michael West the extra revenue has come in handy if commitment to a budget surplus is to be achieved in the current financial year (Alan Austin for Michael West, 14 October 2019):

Down in Tasmania which received favourable comments in CommSec’s Leagues Table, the myth of a thriving market economy rests on extraordinary levels of federal largesse to the extent that 62 per cent of all revenue raising is derived from grants from Canberra to support the 2019-20 state budget.

But still the State of the States comparisons continue each month and are reported as fact on mainstream news services.

Change will not come easily in a slowing national economy. Some welcome green shoots have been generated this week on both sides of politics. Without an Australian financial node equivalent to Wall Street, the City of London or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), Australians might choose to unite around social market values appropriate to a middle-sized open economy which predated the ANZAC traditions of 1915.

Anthony Albanese has made a good offer of greater consensus-building at the CEDA forum.

Regrettably, appeal from Labor for greater consensus-building is not new. It was indeed welcomed by Paul Kelly in an outstanding opinion piece in The Australian (30 October 2019).

At least the Morrison Government is now on board the energy change bus with a promise of $1 billion for Labor’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation which was established in 2012.

Perhaps the most progressive federal LNP’s spin doctors have been reading some Labor media releases from another era (from Jason Clare as Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy, 22 January 2019):

Most of the benefits of hydrogen development will be in regional Australia. For example, the deep-sea water ports of Gladstone and Newcastle are well placed to support a hydrogen export industry. While benefiting the nation as a whole, regional Queensland will be the big winner from Labor’s plan. Labor is taking a hands-on approach to supporting the new jobs and industries Queensland needs for the future.

We want regional Queenslanders to have good, secure blue-collar jobs for the future in existing and new industries.

Hydrogen can be the next great energy industry for Australia – and Labor has a plan to make it happen.

During the federation era (1901-14) prior to the formation of the Country Party, Alfred Deakin once reached across the political divide to form as association with Andrew Fisher through a progressive phase of social liberalism. The current associations between the Liberal Party and populists from both the National Party and One Nation are barriers to the return of such historical precedents. As a traditional Laborite, Billy Hughes returned Australia to the centre-right of politics which he broke with the Labor caucus over his support for conscription for the war in Europe which failed on two occasions.

Joe Lyons (Scullin’s Treasurer) also broke with the Labor caucus over his neoconservative plans for economic recovery from the Great Depression.

The Liberal Party’s current dalliance with populists in both One Nation and the National Party is an optional association which Scott Morrison can choose to terminate in the interests of economic sustainability with Labor’s support in the Deakinite traditions of the federation era.

Action on energy transition and economic sustainability in a global warning era will require bi-partisan support. The National Party and One Nation will never a more diluted populist thunder.

Look out for the Political Change Bus in the electorates around the country to break the frustrating delays in progressive Australian public policies. Perhaps the needs of people and their environments in a middle-sized open economy will ultimately receive bipartisan attention.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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Is Labor doomed for oblivion, or can Albo mount a comeback?

Bill Shorten took over as leader of Australian Labor Party in 2013 and resigned in 2019 after taking the party to two elections.

He won the leadership in a two-horse race with Anthony Albanese (Albo) under revised party rules: Rules that gave Albanese little chance of winning.

In 2016 he came within one seat of becoming Prime Minister after adopting a strategy of prematurely revealing major policies well before the election.

He also adopted a benign approach to the everyday swings of Australian politics. An approach that was seen as sensible by some and too light on by others.

He wasn’t expected to win in 2016 so his narrow loss was seen as exemplary. In 2019 he was in better shape and given the dreadful performance of the Coalition in office was expected to win in a canter.

Labor had led in the polls for the better part of three years. Shorten had turned the conventional wisdom on its ear by going early with new policies and shirt-fronting the government at every opportunity.

In many ways it was a radical approach to electioneering taking from the rich to accommodate a fairer and more equal society. Having said that, there were many Labor die-hards who wanted policy to be even further to the left. Conversely, others wanted more centre-right policies.

In short, Labor had done everything right. They were disciplined and loyal to their leader but when the crunch came, even with a set of policies that would make for a better society, their campaigning was terrible.

“The campaign, not the issues, was Labor’s Achilles heel, with the Coalition’s personal attacks on Shorten the final nail in the coffin,” wrote Peter Lewis in The Guardian.

A leak, however, from the committee appointed to reason why Labor lost, seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Shorten.

It is now almost 6 months since Labor experienced its night of soul-destroying darkness. All the untruths and scares told by a prodigious teller of fabrication by Morrison wasn’t enough to unseat him.

The accrued mistrust of Shorten together with union association and unpopularity reigned supreme over the lies and scare campaigns of the Coalition. It must have run deep.

Once again Labor was to experience the loneliness of opposition.

Having had a right-wing Opposition Leader who took them to the left they elected a left-wing leader in Anthony Albanese who seems intent on taking them to the right.

In the months that have past, Albanese has given members the chance to publicly speak up on policy. Some have, and I feel sure more will once the report into their election loss is released in the next week or so.

Moreover, this point in time Albanese seems to be taking the rather old fashioned tactic of laying low unless its otherwise necessary, upping the anti in the third year and releasing policy with only a few weeks or months to go before the election.

At this point it would be wrong not to release a climate policy, very wrong.

The perception of Albo was that he could ‘tuff’ talk to any conservative leader. He indeed unlike others knew how to lay a decent shirtfront on the government.

Initially, Party members wanted him instead of Shorten. Now that they have him and the shirt-front is nothing more than a powder-puff to the left cheek, they want more aggression. As if it resolves everything.

As the theory goes, Labor only ever wins when a person of charisma enters the fray. Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd were men of their time who had vision, excited the people with the possibility that they could achieve great things.

All had one thing in common. They dared to be different, even radical.

The common good should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.

There are those in the Party, and those who support it, who long for the socialism of days long gone without a thought for the changes that have occurred in society. As if one thought suits all.

People scream out “retaliate with the truth”, but the fact is that accessibility or exposure to do so in opposition is limited to a 15-second grab on the nightly news.

Taken in totality, and in my view, there was nothing wrong with Labor’s policies for the recent election. It was just the way they were presented that was deplorable. A Hawke or Keating would have held society in the palm of their right hand and mellifluously told them the facts.

Had as much thought been put into how they were to sell them, and indeed defend the complications in them, they might have stood a chance.

As it was there were so many impediments that you could drive the proverbial truck through them.

Just as the government has a list of talking points to defend its policies, so too should the opposition have had to defend its own.

For example, when employment raises its head every Labor MP should know the following:

“In September 2013, there were 706,400 people unemployed (trend) or 697,100 (seasonally adjusted).

In September 2019, there were 718,000 people unemployed (trend) or 709,600 (seasonally adjusted).

They aren’t keeping up with population growth. Why does no one ever say in response to the jobs growth claim, that there are 12,000 more people unemployed now than when they took over?”

Tell it straight, tell it as it is and fix it.

I have gotten a little ahead of myself so let’s come back to the present. Labor is going through a period of self-examination with a new leader who hasn’t yet found his feet.

Albo is, however, making overtones of doing politics of the past whereas what is needed is something purer than the abrasive manner of the mouth that roared.

Albo should be using the phrase; “He’s loose with the truth” (about Scott Morrison) on every occasion he can, and keep on doing it until it sinks in.

And he should add; ”Just a clone of Trump” to a collection.

It is reasonable to assume that after his sucking up to Trump, Morrison is telling us that it will be the path of Trumpism he will be taking in the future.

At the moment Morrison is having a ball portraying Labor as a party of the past and that it is he and his party that are for the workers.

This impression is reinforced by responses to questions in this week’s Essential Report designed to get the first real take on peoples perceptions of Anthony Albanese’s Labor.

Morrison’s marketing experience – based mostly on slogans – comes through in everything he says and does. He understands the value of lies, repetition and misrepresentation.

It is a pity that Australian politics has degenerated to such a level, but it does however; give Labor an opportunity of rebirth, maybe as a “Common good party.” Dare to be different, and above all be progressive.

It would be a grave mistake to re emerge as just another centre-right party.

It seems to me that everyone wants an economy that is performing well.

However, when you are asking those who can least afford it to disproportionally support it you are not serving the common good.

When Joe Hockey was Treasurer he told the National Press Club: “The average worker works one month every year to pay for the welfare of others.”

At the time I wondered how many months the average worker worked to subsidise farmers, miners, tax breaks, negative gearing, franking credits, private and religious schools (religions don’t pay taxes), and retired politicians.

Fairness and equality of opportunity must be central to any Labor Party platform.

It is difficult to get a grip on just how Albo might rebrand Labor after its period of self-examination given that the opposition leader, given his confusing support for so many Coalition policies.

At the moment he is less popular than Shorten himself. If he doesn’t survive they could end up with a future leadership team of Queensland’s Jim Chalmers and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

So much depends on the attitude of the leader that it is even more difficult to predict how the party will brand itself without it being settled in leadership.

Let’s put that aside for a moment. Before any re-branding can take place the party has to be satisfied that the reason or reasons for the defeat have all been exposed.

Was it the unpopularity of Bill Shorten? Was it the policies or was it entirely the campaign itself?

For me it was the trifecta. Yes, Shorten was unpopular. No, there was nothing wrong with the policies – it was the leaders inability to articulate them, which of course bleeds into the conduct of the campaign.

Ask yourself would Labor have won with Albo?

A hypothetical question indeed. And truthfully I don’t know what Labor should do. It is too early. All I can do is offer some comments, ideas and suggestions, but I have always felt that cleaning up our democracy would be a noble pursuit and the first step toward regaining government.

I note that as I write the news community today, 21 October, are asking for more transparency in our government. It is true that we have a government of a “need to know” mentality, that hides things from us and is about as transparent as a black glass window.

When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed. It is lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.

Here are some thoughts on a Labor revival based on repairing our democracy:

  1. The Labor Party needs to rid itself of out-dated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead.
  2. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. In terms of talent, both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience.
  4. Labor’s pre-selection processes are rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out.
  5. There is a need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the union movement. Fix it.
  6. Our Parliament, its institutions, and conventions was so trashed by Tony Abbott and those who followed that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Fix it.
  7. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Fix it.
  8. Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills. Fix it.
  9. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Fix it.
  10. Question time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Fix it.
  11. Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. Fix it.
  12. Light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. It has debased the parliament and all MPs, as moronic imbecilic individuals. Fix it

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership.

In recent times we have had potential, but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest, and narcissistic personality.

The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.

People on the right of politics in Australia show insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers; with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

On the contrary, it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably. Fix it.

Bloggers more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society.

Truth in government as a principle of democratic necessity needs to be reinstated.

Fix it first and common good policy will follow.

My thought for the day

Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise.

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John Lord’s Election Diary No. 13: Shorten has dared to go where other Labor leaders have not

Saturday 11 May 2018

1 By this time next week, only those who haven’t voted pre-poll will be left to cast their vote in this most important election. All the policies, or lack of them, will have resonated with the electorate in varying degrees. Some will vote in a state of confusion but most with certainty. The young have become engaged and hopefully, they might return our democracy to some form of respectability and transparency.

The issue though is will the right win, will they be emboldened to move further right to satisfy the interests of the establishment, corporates and rich individuals. Or on the other hand, will the electorate be prepared to give Labor’s policies of change a chance?

2 The polls have played a fairly negative part in portraying an accurate position of the parties. Given the knowledge all and sundry have of the previous 6 years I find it difficult to believe they are an accurate reflection of the public mood.

“An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.” JL

3 In recent days it has really hit home to me just how intensive the use of social media has played in this election. My message box, my email, and any other way, the parties could attract my attention, they have pestered to a point where I have had to look the other way.

A positive is though that my diary has attracted new readers by ten a day for its duration.

“The fourth estate as the custodians of the public right to know should act responsibly and report fact and not just express biased opinion.” JL

4 Peter Dutton has come out from whatever slime hole to inform us that Bill Shorten intends letting the boats start again and the redhead insists they will introduce a death tax.

5 Yesterday Labor released its costing’s. Why? Well, it might have been because they were very confident that any criticism of them could be hit to leg but another reason might be that it would keep attention on Labor’s policies and bring Chris Bowen into the picture.

Predictions already show that Labor because of the huge and fair increases in its revenues will be able to better the governments planned surpluses by double and have a $200bn war chest to spend on further tax cuts over the next decade.

It has also allowed $55 million for a plebiscite on Australia becoming a Republic.

“The parliamentary budget office estimates will also reveal that Labor has about $200bn to spend on tax cuts beyond the forward estimates to meet a tax-to-GDP ratio of 24.3% – the same level achieved under the Howard government.”

On any level, you would have to admit that they have not been sitting idly by for the past three years. They have not left a stone unturned to get things right and be upfront and transparent with the public.

6 Also, the release might just detract from the Liberal Launch on Sunday. Which in itself, is but a liberal Party cost saying measure and if Turnbull is a no show, an embarrassment.

7 From the Press Club debate, I would have been tempted to say that I learnt nothing new but that wasn’t the case. I learnt that the opposition, if a world economic downturn did occur, is better placed, because of the savings from Franking and Negative gearing to ward off the effects.

8 The other thing was the Prime Minister saying that Melissa Price would be the Environment Minister in the next Government should he win. He had to be joking. But “Where is she?” said Bill. Time will tell.

“We will never truly understand the effect Free Speech has on an individual until we have suffered from the abuse of it.” JL

9 I cannot remember a government going to an election with so few policies. You would have to go back to Tony Abbott to make any comparison. Tony, of course, believed that just being in office fixed everything. The born to rule brashness.

“If a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements then dismiss the article as having no cogency.” JL

10 Incidentally what is the difference between Scott Morrison’s $2.4 billion cuts to the Aged Pension four years ago and cuts to Franking Credits? He sneakily changed the way future rises to the pension are calculated.

11 AIM readers may have missed my Facebook post on the Daily Telegraph’s version of what Bill Shorten knows about his own mum. So here it is.

I wrote this while ill in bed and managed to post it on Facebook but not the AIM.

“Why this was the most compelling moment of this election campaign”

This was the headline on the ABCs online site today. The Daily Mail had attacked him because he attended an elite school.

“In a new low, The Daily Telegraph has decided to use my mum’s life as a political attack on me, and on her memory.” Mr. Shorten said.

“Mother of Invention”, read the headline accusing him of not telling the full story about his mother.

Mr Shorten said his mother died from a catastrophic heart attack in her sleep in April 2014.

“I miss her every day,” he said. “I‘m glad she wasn’t here today to read that rubbish.” 

While appearing on Q&A last Monday, Mr Shorten had spoken of his mother, Dr Ann Shorten, as his inspiration.

He said, “She had wanted to study law but had to take a teacher’s scholarship so she could support her younger siblings.” 

The newspaper accused Mr Shorten of having neglected to say that his mother did go on to study law, and gained first-class honours before going on to practice for six years.

The Daily Telegraph also described Mr Shorten as having benefited from studying at “Melbourne’s elite Xavier College”. 

“I didn’t read it all because there’s only so much time in your day and you can’t afford to waste it on the rubbish,” Mr Shorten said of the article today.

“They think that [because] I explained myself at Q&A on a Monday night, that they play gotcha about your life story — more importantly, my mum’s.”

“She loved being a teacher and she was very good at it. She later became a teacher of teachers.”

“She worked at Monash University over three decades, but she always wanted to be in the law.”

He said, “his mother studied law in her 50s and he was proud of what she achieved.”

“When I was in my first year of law school, she was in her final year. She was her brilliant self and won the Supreme Court prize.”

“She finally realised her dream and qualified as a barrister in her late 50s.”

Conservative media seem to get some perverse satisfaction from this sort of defamation. Remember Alan Jones attack on Prime Minister Gillard:

‘’Her father died of shame because of her political lies.”

I am not well today but I felt compelled to say a little or a lot about the Daily Mail’s attraction of Bill Shorten. Firstly the leading tabloid of the Murdoch gutter publications published it. To say that it is the worst example, the most gutless of all his publications would be an understatement.

They are the newspapers where the truth goes to die. Bill Shorten doesn’t need me to defend him he does a fine job on his own. However, when one’s mother becomes the intentional centre of an attack on the son then we need to speak up and combat it.

I have never really understood the dislike of Bill Shorten because l have always found solace in my enquiries when criticisms have been directed at him by the press and every day by the government. They did the same with Gillard and I also found that reprehensible.

That he has gathered together a team that is so woven in solidarity. So married to his leadership and so surrounded with women is truly, to me at least, remarkable. Sure he has little habits that annoy me but nowhere near as much as the Prime Ministers overbearing nature.

In this election, Shorten has dared to go where other Labor leaders have not. He has taken on the rich and said enough is enough. Schools, hospitals and aged care are the priorities. He has bravely taken on top-down economics and said there is a better way.

My thought for the day 

“If you are looking for the ultimate expression of the purity of love, there is no better place to look than in the sanctity of what we call motherhood.”

Conservative media seem to get some perverse satisfaction from this sort of defamation. Remember Alan Jones attack on Prime Minister Gillard: ‘’Her father died of shame because of her political lies.”

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Do Debates Help?

Hands up how many of you have seen both so-called leaders’ debates? Not too many I will wager.

It seems that the Liberal party got to choose the venues, the times and the broadcaster and in Perth that was The West Australian as moderator and Channel Seven’s second channel as a broadcaster. Some of the questions were loaded but fairly evenly : Morrison was asked twice about his preference swap deal with Clive Palmer but wasn’t able to reassure the audience that it was just normal politics : Shorten was pointedly asked about border security and Labor’s record in a loaded question prefaced by “800 boats carrying more than 50,000 illegal arrivals flooded into Australia; 1,200 people lost their lives at sea under Labor” straight out of the Liberal party songbook.

Of the 48 undecided invited guests, 25 gave the win to Shorten 12 to Morrison and 11 remained undecided.

Then the Liberals chose Brisbane, the Courier Mail and SKY News for last Friday’s debate : nobody watched as it cut into footy time (both AFL and NRL) and this time there were 100 supposedly undecided voters invited although one woman – could have been Dorothy Dix – who was worried about her religious freedoms clearly wasn’t going to vote Labor any time soon.

Morrison had evidently been advised to intimidate Shorten and crowd his personal space in a Trump-like manoeuvre: didn’t work as planned with Shorten going for the zinger and calling him a “classic space invader” which sent Morrison scuttling back to his corner and much laughter from the crowd.

This time it was 43 to Shorten, 41 to Morrison and 16 still undecided: SKY called this a draw! I wonder how they score the footie?

Shorten will be doing a solo appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday, May 6 taking questions from the audience but so far Morrison has not committed to doing the same. Labor has also proposed a third debate at the National Press Club on May 8 with journalists from Nine, the ABC and another media outlet on a panel but Morrison has yet to confirm on this one either. Perhaps the initial enthusiasm for public confrontations is no longer so popular with the Liberals who have also been accused of hiding their ministers in witness protection – some of them should be in solitary confinement as far as I’m concerned!

Overall, Shorten has benefited from these debates as it has given those who bothered to watch a clear contrast between the two men and has shown Shorten to be well briefed and have a positive vision for the future, and a mischievous sense of humour; these qualities are not so evident in a somewhat wooden Morrison. He comes across as bombastic and evasive particularly when it comes to the potential chaos that this preference swap deal with Clive could have in a future Senate.

It seems that Shorten has gained confidence and that the punters are warming to him………let’s hope so.

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Who do you trust?

As they wander round in their high-vis vests, shearing sheep, drinking beer, kicking footballs, and joining in the factory production line, Coalition politicians keep asking us “who do you trust” as part of their determined attempt to cast Bill Shorten as untrustworthy.

As a measure of their judgement, it’s perhaps more informative to ask who do they trust.

Tony Abbott and John Howard have both expressed their admiration for convicted pedophile George Pell.  Abbott described him as “a fine man…one of the greatest churchmen that Australia has seen”, a personal mentor.

He also described James Ashby as “a decent man” for whom he “had a lot of sympathy”.

Abbott described Kathy Jackson, a woman who systematically robbed the Health Services Union of hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund her lavish lifestyle, as ‘brave’ and ‘decent’, while Christopher Pyne called her a ‘revolutionary’, a ‘lion of the union movement’.

One of Abbott’s first acts was to appoint Maurice Newman as head of his Business Advisory Council.  This is the man who wrote that the world was ill-prepared for a period of global cooling and that the United Nations was using debunked climate science to impose a new world order under its own control.

Tony has also described Rupert Murdoch as a “hometown hero”, comparing him to John Monash and Howard Florey.

In this bizarro world, Gina Rinehart advises on tax policy, Twiggy Forest on Indigenous disadvantage, and Noel Pearson on education.  The creche for aspiring Liberal politicians, aka the IPA, regularly dictate what is to be done to make their members wealthier – the only goal worth aspiring to.

Treasury advice is ignored in favour of “independent” modelling from the Minerals Council and the Property Council.

Government departments are regularly bypassed as compliant consultants produce reports supporting Coalition policy.

Scientific bodies and climate scientists are ignored in favour of tame (or should that be lame) economists who always seem to have links to the fossil fuel industry.

If you genuinely wanted to save the Great Barrier Reef, would you give half a billion dollars to universities and the CSIRO for research and action plans or would you give it to a few business middlemen to dole out to private companies who they may or may not have connections with?

And then there are the Ministers.

Trusting mining lawyer Melissa Price with the stewardship of the environment is a cruel joke.  She should be called the Minister for Approvals.  She is as trustworthy as Barnaby Joyce was as Minister for Water or Tony Abbott as Minister for Women or Michaelia Cash as Minister for Attacking Unions or Malcolm Turnbull as Minister for Destroying the NBN or Mitch Fifield as Minister for Foxtel.

For some unknown reason, and despite the horror expressed by the majority of their party and the nation at large at the notion of Peter Dutton becoming PM, he is entrusted with the most power of anyone in the country – the power to singlehandedly decide the fate of people’s lives.  Every evaluation of his handling of every department he has ever overseen has been damning, but on he sails as a trusted lieutenant.

How many MPs trust tax havens to increase, and hide, their wealth?  As Minister Taylor would say, “Fantastic.  Great move.  Well done Angus”.

Look at the candidates they have trusted to represent the Coalition in the upcoming election – racism, homophobia, Islamophobia, sexism, misogyny, white supremacy, religious fundamentalism – these appear to be the traits of those who aspire to join the conservative side nowadays.

If you ask the electorate who they trust, I doubt the answer would ever be a politician.

But if politicians are the only choice, then it certainly isn’t your mob Scott.

If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.”

Noam Chomsky “Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America”.

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