“Another two years!” I hear you say.
While I have been resting up the past week or so after eye surgery I have also been adding to my “to read” list, which is in danger of self-destruction. So much so that I don’t think I will ever get through it all.
So, here is a brief overview of what’s in my “to read” box.
1 Besides the Coronavirus, I don’t think anything has gotten more coverage in the mainstream media than the “Sports rorts affair.”
The Prime Minister’s arrogant dismissal of a journalist trying to ask a question about it last week all but acknowledges the fact that he was up to his neck in composing the final list. McKenzie, in an act of self-defence, has said that she didn’t take any part in the selection process after the deadline.
It has now been firmly established that the Prime Minister is a first-class liar. However, writes Nick Feik in The Monthly:
“If we accept McKenzie’s statement, the only possible explanations for what occurred on April 11 are these: that someone in her office was independently making changes in her name without her approval; or that the prime minister’s office was dictating these changes.”
McKenzie herself adds:
“I did not make any changes or annotations to this brief or its attachments after 4 April 2019.”
Michael Pascoe writing for The New Daily suggests that he was lazy when he “stopped counting politically rorted federal grant programs when I got to $1.1 billion.”
He should have kept going to reach $8.1 billion.
That’s the total for 11 federal programs that have serious question marks – or worse – over their ethics, probity and basic governance.
That governments get away with this sort of corruption in a democracy such as ours speaks volumes for their dishonesty.
One of the funniest things I read during my break was this statement by the Prime Minister in The Canberra Times:
“Members of Parliament “live and breathe,” in their communities, giving them a better sense of what is needed than public servants”
QUOTE (Laura Tingle at AFR/ABC, 29/2/20): “The bitter dangers of budget politics, you would think, might make governments a little more careful about how they spend money, and how they manage things that they do control, like observing the law.
But while we continue to watch sanctimonious parsimony from MPs explaining why they can’t give the unemployed enough money to eat, the ongoing saga of the sports rorts scandal, and a broader picture of pork barrelling on an industrial scale, shows them not only cavalier in the way they spend our money to achieve their own political goals, but apparently not all that fussed about niceties such as the law and the constitution.”
Whatever the outcome I think it is fair to say that the Prime Minister has done himself immense harm. The sort of harm that sticks and creates an impression of one’s character.
In Scott Morrison’s case, he has only added to the blows his reputation took over his inaction over the fires. However, the electorate now knows that he is not quite the Christian man they thought him to be. He is a liar.
2 We haven’t seen the end of the hand out rorts.
The Guardian reported on 9 March that the former Indigenous affairs minister Nigel Scullion approved more than $560m worth of funding in his final six weeks in the role ahead of the announcement of the federal election in 2019.
Constitutional lawyers have given opinions that all the subsidies are unlawful but it seems that if they are not challenged then the government just gets away with it and life goes on. And there is no point asking the AFP to investigate. If it is the conservative side there is a “don’t touch” sign on the front door.
3 It’s rather like the government not being challenged about their efforts in continuously closing down the parliament.
I don’t know what the record is but this conservative government must be very close to it. “I move that the member no longer be heard” … four words after the Leader of the Opposition begins to speak.
And with the vote goes any portent of us being a democracy. The government immediately should stop stifling debate on issues like overseas companies not paying tax.
Debate is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purest form it is simply the art of persuasion.
Maybe the government is acting on advice that the electorate is sick of all the constant bickering and would be better off doing nothing. Well, they would, given their record, probably stuff that up also.
But then with only six sitting weeks left for the year and no policies to debate they may as well take a leaf out of George Christiansen’s book and take up residence in, wherever it is he disappears into.
Yes, this “much to do about nothing” government has been doing it for almost 7 years. Enough time to catch a virus.
4 The same applies to this passage in the Reddit:
“Why did Scott Morrison finally admit this week he sought to have Hillsong pastor Brian Houston invited to a state dinner at the White House? For months he refused to answer questions about it, following a Wall Street Journal story on the matter.”
Talking about Hillsong, I came across this on the Channel 7 News site:
“Controversial megachurch Hillsong has pulled a page on its website detailing plans to recruit teenagers in state schools across NSW, Victoria, Queensland and the Northern Territory in 2020.”
It’s what they do.
5 In a piece on the Hobbledehoy blog, British writer Nate White writes the best description of Donald Trump I have ever read. Just an exceptional piece of writing.
6 The demise of AAP is but a sad moment in the history of Australian news-gathering. Who is to blame. Well, Rupert’s rags are blaming everyone else but themselves, however, a very revealing piece in The Guardian said that:
“News Corp and Nine told staff they no longer wanted to subsidise a breaking news service for their competitors.”
It had Rupert’s hatred of competition all over it.
7 A blog that I came across late last year but plan to visit more often is the Sydney Criminal Lawyers. It contains some very useful information such their article How Do You Rate Morrison’s Performance in 2019?
They write that:
Sadly for many, our ‘lucky country’ has been trending in the wrong direction in several areas, as:
- The economy is in tatters, with national debt eclipsing the levels it reached during the purported ‘debt and deficit crisis’;
- There continues to be analarming erosion of individual freedoms and a concerted campaign to crush trade unions, and to silence protesters and those who are critical of government;
- The governmentrefuses to raise social security payments, despite recipients being barely able to afford housing and food;
- Homelessnesscontinues to rise and homeless people continue to be criminalised;
- Domestic violence is atall-time highs;
- Robodebt –which the Federal Court recently found to be ‘unlawful’ – has caused anxiety in many Australians and led to a number of suicides;
- Indigenous people continue to die in custody at unacceptable rates;
- Banks have beencaught behaving unlawfully, despite our leader having repeatedly voted against a Banking Royal Commission; and
- Climate change has been met with inaction, asour nation slips dramatically in the Climate Change Performance Index.
Hundreds of small businesses around the nation are bearing the cost of supporting the nation through these times, while big multi-national corporations get away with paying minimal or no tax.
Many farmers can’t feed their stock, some have given up. Fruit and vegetable producers are going bankrupt.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. And, undoubtedly, these can be incredibly complex and difficult issues to solve – which call for seeds to be sewn to achieve long-term success.
Many have criticised our man at the helm for taking an overseas vacation while fires raged across our nation, for holding up a piece of coal in Parliament as if it were the Holy Grail and for his dogged determination to ensure people of faith are allowed to express their beliefs, no matter how divisive and destructive they may be, and to discriminate against non-believers.
8 I was also interested to read Oxfam’s annual report on wealth and it is inescapable when looking at the facts that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. “So what,” you say, “we all know that.” The point though is that the concentration of wealth is becoming more confined to a smaller and smaller group.
Never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen.
Reviewing the report, The ABC notes that:
“Australia’s rich keep getting richer, with the top 1 per cent of Australians having more than double the wealth of the entire bottom 50 per cent — or more than 12.5 million people – according to Oxfam.”
“Oxfam’s annual list highlighting inequality has found the number of billionaires in Australia decreased from 43 in 2018 to 36 in 2019, but that the number has more than tripled over the past 10 years and the value of their wealth is still increasing.
The report, being released ahead of the 2020 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, found that the wealth of Australian billionaires, who are mostly men, grew by an average of $US460 million from 2018 to 2019.
Oxfam Australia chief executive Lyn Morgan said the top 1 per cent of Australians, just 250,000 people, owned nearly $US1.6 trillion — equating to 22.2 per cent of the nation’s wealth.
“This concentration of wealth in the hands of the super-rich is occurring while the share of wealth of the bottom half of our community has decreased over the last decade and workers’ wages continue to stagnate in Australia,” she said.
The world’s billionaires, 2,153 people in 2019, have more wealth between them than 4.6 billion people.
The report found the richest 22 men in the world own more wealth than all the women in Africa.”
9 Who said this? “Trump is the leading climate denier in the world. He’s leading the most influential nation in the world and he’s actively working against global action to reduce emissions.”
10 On Wednesday I tuned into a debate on the ABC about yet another stuff up by the government. The building of our fleet of 8 submarines by the French and the enormous cost blowouts. Added to the Robodebt, Energy, Climate Change, NDIS and the National Broadband Network you can see why people are fed up.
Anything this government touches it leaves behind a trail of wreckage as long as an airport runway. It is hard to think of a single notable achievement for which the three governments, Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison will be credited or remembered for. And Morrison still praises himself at every opportunity.
“Another two years of that!” I hear you say. “God help us!”
My thought for the day
History is just an ongoing commentary on the incompetence of men.
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