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Hell hath no fury: The makings of a Turnbull return

By Dr Strobe Driver

Normally I restrict my opinions to international relations issues with a particular emphasis on war and conflict however, the arrival of Malcolm Turnbull on the ABC’s Q&A programme made me want to offer a possibility of Malcolm being the ‘comeback kid,’ a term that was originally applied to Bill Clinton. So I suppose there is some relevance to international relations. Nevertheless, the opportunity was too much, as was the chance to suggest how he will ‘come back.’

The well-balanced, nuanced, articulate and commendable accuracy—albeit with only accomplishments writ large—in the ex-prime minister’s (pm) appearance on the ABC’s Q&A special edition as part of New South Wales Festival of Dangerous Ideas programme on 8 November, 2018, was exceptional only in that the ex-pm was able to contain his incandescent rage at those that unseated him (read: kicked him out of office). It should also be noted that Mr Turnbull also kept insisting that though he is ‘retired,’ that does not exclude him from making a comment about his ‘brilliant leadership,’ and the aforesaid ‘accomplishments’ therein. Nor should an ex-pm be excluded from the debate as a free and opinionated citizen in the liberal-democracy of Australia—all should have their say outside of the shackles of slander and smear in a robust democracy. Was it just me, or did others get the notional understanding that Malcolm Turnbull is in the nascent phase of being a ‘comeback kid’? The once ‘Honourable’ Malcolm Turnbull wants the title back! This was his first go at establishing what will be a fast and furious transition to Minister of Parliament, although a few things will have to happen first.

The most important ‘thing’ to happen is that the Honourable Bill Shorten wins the next election and within this happening there is a ‘blowback’ within the Liberal Party and its ‘rusted on’ voters. The demise of Ministers Abbott, Birmingham, Cormann, Dutton, Hunt, Seselja—or at the very least, a significant plunge in their popularity—and several others such as Craig Kelly and Nigel Scullion and other ‘faceless men’ (that term sounds familiar), will have to take place as this will segue into Turnbull being ‘invited’ back to the ‘sensible centre’ of the Liberal Party; and the Liberal Party per se. Where will this mysterious invite emanate from and will there be enough constituents in the area concerned to vote for Turnbull because he is well … the one and only Malcolm Turnbull. What has to happen is the revenge-vote has to come to the fore and the constituents concerned will want to send a message, to the Honourable Member Shorten and paradoxically, the Liberal Party as well. Who will it be and what seat will it be? Subtleness is the key here, and more to the point it will have to be like a hand-pass in Aussie Rules—seamless, a small move and able to help someone else kick a goal, something for the  greater good.  From then on it is Malcolm who will be kicking goals all the way back to the prime ministership. Turnbull has this as his ultimate goal after last week’s Q&A, and he knows time is short but he does have the sympathy vote in hand; a large portion of the Australian public thinking he is ‘PM material;’ and he is still young enough to pursue this avenue. And theoretically, if Shorten makes a hash of it then he only has four or so years to wait—and as it stands there is a dearth of talent in the Liberal Party—especially ‘leadership talent.’ This is perhaps Turnbull’s greatest weapon within the Liberal Party. Where will he go and what will he do to achieve this?

Casting an eye over the Liberal Party and their seats as well as their ‘rusted on’ supporters one can be forgiven for thinking that the Honourable Karen Phelps might be the first to have her seat removed as Liberal Party people remove a person who was a blip on their political radar. This is however, unlikely as to vote someone else in instead of Malcolm is tantamount to being traitorous to the cause, whereas voting in Phelps was not traitorous, it was a reaction—it was voting out the Liberal Party not voting Phelps in. This happened in the resurgence of the Labor Party in Victoria after the mind-boggling horrors of the Kennett years in Victoria, it wasn’t that Bracks was particularly great, it was he was so vastly more in touch with the people of Victoria that he would ‘do.’ Out with Kennet, not in with Bracks and the other ‘99ers’ as they were called.

So, who will give up their seat in order to place Malcolm in a robust conservative position with a strong middle-of-the-road sentiment? We have to go to the old stomping ground of Bennelong where they were willing to give a radical new-age thinking a go and an articulate woman a chance (Maxine McKew). After they realised what they ‘had done,’ they returned to lackadaisical ‘everything will be fine,’ ‘no need to panic,’ run-of-the-mill political mainstream—the Honourable John Alexander. This is where Turnbull’s greatest opportunity is, a solid Liberal seat that doesn’t want to venture into the unknown again, (because it was obviously quite scary to have an articulate woman in the job), yet it offers unlimited opportunity for another go at the prime ministership—and who in this seat would not be begging for a change from the humdrum of the current incumbent?

Turnbull and his advisors must be looking at Bennelong and their mouths must be watering, a seamless transition, a ‘rusted on’ group of voters and the chance for these ‘aspirationals’ to have a prime minister in their midst. And whats more, it wouldn’t cost Turnbull a cent (unlike his last grab at the job), he would just majestically reappear—the first step in his new Aussie ‘bloke having a go’ at what is rightfully his; and should never have been taken away. Don’t underestimate Turnbull’s ambition; or his rage.

This article was originally published on Geo-Strategic Orbit.

Strobe Driver completed his PhD in war studies in 2011 and since then has written extensively on war, terrorism, Asia-Pacific security, the ‘rise of China,’ and issues within Australian domestic politics. Strobe is a recipient of Taiwan Fellowship 2018, MOFA, Taiwan, ROC, and is an adjunct researcher at Federation University. The views expressed in this article are his own.


Morrison’s latest prop

So the Liberal Party has hired a bus as a new toy for PM Scott Morrison. As a special gesture, they have also arranged for the bus to be covered in advertising so no one can mistake who is on the bus. The initial run for the bus is from the Gold Coast to Townsville located on the North Queensland coast, something like 1400 km in four days. Despite the initial publicity, the bus run was subsequently truncated to Rockhampton and Morrison flew to Townsville.

It makes sense. Morrison claims he a ‘fair dinkum’ Prime Minister who is on the road to listen to the Queensland community. Since Morrison’s elevation to the Prime Ministership, he hasn’t reversed the opinion poll trend which suggests that the ALP would win an election somewhere between a whisker and comfortably. Neither has he successfully articulated (despite a lot of invitations) the reasons why he or Peter Dutton would be a better option for the Liberal Party coming into an election that Malcolm Turnbull was.

So, he of the oversized props, including a lump of coal in the House of Representatives and the ‘daggy dad’ persona, is the latest in a long line of politicians that have hired transport vehicles to ‘go out and meet the people’. The USA’s long distance train operator, Amtrak, suggests that the first use of a train in a political campaign was in 1836 and also mentions Truman’s 1948 ‘whistle stop’ tour of 28,000 miles and over 300 speeches. Reagan also campaigned by train, dubbing it the ‘Heartland Special’. The premise of using the train was the train could stop at every ‘whistle stop’ or small community and the candidate could give their standard speech from the train, then alight and meet the locals. The theory goes that the locals — having met the candidate for a high office would be more likely to vote for the person they met.

Trump and both Clintons used planes as have a number of Australian politicians — Australia doesn’t have 28,000 miles of rail lines in the one gauge for a start — and others around the world have used buses, from advertising on the side of commuter buses to the ‘Bill Bus’ used by Opposition Leader Shorten at the last Federal Election. Even the fictional Vice President in the satirical TV comedy series ‘Veep’, had a campaign bus. You might remember Turnbull pinched the slogan at the last Federal Election.

The point of being on a road or rail trip is to stop at the small local communities and meet and greet the locals. Morrison’s trip last week covered a number of Federal Seats held on small margins by the LNP in Queensland, so meeting and greeting in small communities is a great idea — right?

Well it might be, but Morrison wasn’t travelling on the bus. As the Brisbane Times reported:

The ghost bus will be left with only its driver on board for several key legs, including the 400 kilometre-plus stretch from the Sunshine Coast to Gladstone.

That’s right, Morrison and his entourage will be flying to and from campaign appearances on RAAF VIP planes that you and I are paying for. Apart from the obviously missed opportunity to personally charm some people in small towns that just happen to be in marginal LNP seats, the Australian taxpayer is paying for Morrison and crew to travel to and from political rallies at our expense.

So, the Liberal Party’s hired bus is another prop. If you’re a resident of any of the communities between the Sunshine Coast and Gladstone you are being ignored. It’s not like the 400 or so kilometres between the Sunshine Coast and Gladstone is out in the middle of the Nullabor and there are no communications facilities to allow Morrison and others to do something productive or more likely surf the internet when they are fed up with asking if they are there yet. The Federal Government funded a good deal of the communications infrastructure along the Bruce Highway some years ago to ensure communication was possible by either mobile phone or laptop connected to the 3 or 4G networks.

Who knows, if Morrison sat on the Scomobile ©, he might actually observe that the Bruce Highway (part of National Route 1), predominately funded by the Federal Government, is nowhere near the standard of the Hume and Federal Highways that would be used by Morrison if he chose to drive from his electorate to Canberra. But then again, he may not. As anyone who has caught public transport with advertising covering the windows will tell you — it’s almost impossible to see out of the window if it’s dirty or wet. Queensland is pretty dusty, there are usually some roadworks on the Bruce Highway to add a bit more dirt and it rained last week.

What do you think?

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Lest We Think

By Barddylbach

If you think you know the history,
can distinguish fact from legend and myth,
if the Great War could ever be won at Gallipoli
by Arcadian heroes fighting in the trenches
and absent British generals;

If you think you know the truth,
can turn a deaf ear to national pride and memory,
if the peace was ever preserved by battle and blood
on the western front and beaches,
by monument and shrine;

If you think you know their story,
can cast an even eye to those around you still,
forever haunted by machine gun, mine, death and mud,
wounded by the crowd, by those who sent you
dead or alive, blood and gutless remain;

If you think you know your country,
can speak for the vanquished voices of our past,
man and woman, black or white without prejudice or resentment,
if this could ever better our world, all just all settled
lessons learnt; then think it through again.

This poem was originally published on All Poetry.

Lest we forget to remember

By Henry Johnston

The request seemed simple enough on first reading. The text from a niece said her son, my great nephew, is having an assembly on Remembrance Day, and do we have anyone in the family who fought in World War 1, and if so do we have any photos or memorabilia?

My equivocal response ended with the explanation that my great nephew might find it difficult to describe the story of our family’s involvement with the Great War.

Sure enough my niece did not respond, but when I tried to put her request out of my mind, I could not erase the image of the tale told me by my long dead mother.

It is not a myth of derring-do, or patriotism, or a tear jerker in the mould of Saving Private Ryan. It is a casual observation about two men who returned to Ireland after the 1914-18 war. I think they were brothers; certainly my mother’s uncles. When she first told me the yarn, I imagined them wizened aged men, whereas in truth they were probably a mere decade or so, older than my great nephew.

My maternal grandmother hosted a Hooley in their honour, complete with fiddler, tin whistle player, a lilter, a large jug of poitin, plenty of spuds and a side of pork. Before proceeding, here is a brief explanation for the uninitiated: A Hooley is an Irish party. A lilter is a person who enunciates a form of traditional singing. (If you are curious look up Séamus Fay from Cavan). Poitin is made from cereals, grain, whey, sugar beet, molasses and potatoes.

This Hooley was probably unleashed onto an unsuspecting Irish community, in about 1920. My mother was born in 1918, and was told the anecdote by an elder sibling.

Any gathering of young, strong men in rural Ireland in the 1920s would likely attract the attention of the Dúchrónaigh. You probably know of them by the colour of their uniform; black and tan.

The Tans were ex-British Army counter-insurgents, deployed across the island to fight the Irish Republican Army.

World War 1 had changed the world order, and like Humpty Dumpty, ‘all the King’s horses, and all the King’s men, couldn’t put Humpty together again’.

For the Black and Tans service in Ireland meant a suit of clothes, a few bob and a Webley revolver to shoot up the Paddy’s.

It seems the Carrigallen poitin set cheeks ablaze, as the fiddle player urged the young men and women to dance the night away. As my mother recounted it, both men refused to enter the cottage, preferring instead the stand beneath the stout lintel beam of the front door. And here they remained for the rest of the night, politely refusing all urgings to come inside and enjoy the craic.

Years later I asked my mother why the brothers refused to enter. She clicked her tongue and dismissed them as poor, befuddled, amadán’s (pronounced oma-thons) who could not look after themselves. Both relied on the kindness of local women to feed them and do their washing. The Hooley was my grandmother’s way of attempting to reintegrate them into society. Her kindness failed. The brothers had learnt in the battles of Flanders, or the Somme, or Ypres or Villers-Bretonneux, or wherever it was they endured war, the lintel beam of a door was the safest place to wait out a bombardment.

These men, and millions like them, suffered with post-traumatic stress disorder, or shell shock, or in rural nations like Ireland, and across Europe, they were simply known as ‘eejits,’ idiots.

How do you tell a six year old child that your only extant, family connection with World War 1 can be traced back, like a spidery filament, to two young blue eyed men, driven insane by the sights and sounds of the War to End All Wars? It is not the sort of parable one would expect anyone to recount on Remembrance Day 2018, but it is the only link I have with that century old calamity. And when the clock chimes the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 2018, I will recall the sad fable of my great uncles, lest I forget to remember them.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale at Brays Bookshop in Balmain an at Forty South Publishing.

The march of the demagogues

By Ad astra

Are you as unnerved as I am by the rise of demagogues around the world – leaders who gain popularity by exploiting prejudice and ignorance among the people, whipping up passions and shutting down reasoned debate, who overturn established customs of political conduct, or threaten to do so? Commentators often use ‘rabble-rouser’ or ‘leader of the mob’, as colloquial equivalents.

Today, there is no more observable demagogue than Donald Trump.

Writing in Vox earlier this month, Laura McGann and Starvos Agorakis had this to say in their article: The desperate demagogue – Trump has no choice but to escalate.

President Donald Trump’s closing argument for the 2018 midterm elections represents a dangerous escalation of demagogic rhetoric. If it works, things are only going to get worse.

During his presidential campaign, Trump shocked the media and half of the country by declaring Mexicans rapists and outlining an isolationist vision for America. He also covertly sent an “us versus them” message cloaked in the rhetoric of jobs and the economy…

It was a promise to his white supporters that he would put them ahead of other groups, like racial and religious minorities and immigrants – the very definition of demagogic politics.

This year, Trump doesn’t bother with fig leaves. He smears minority groups, particularly immigrants, with impunity. This week alone, he made comments, sent tweets, and unveiled policies (some real and some fake) all designed to further dehumanize and demonize his scapegoats.

Further on, McGann and Agorakis explain the thinking and motivation of demagogues: Trump’s actions

…looked erratic or even desperate, an irrational response to the reality that Republicans continue to trail in the generic ballot days before the election. It might be desperate, but it’s not irrational. Trump has a good reason to act as he has. It’s his most effective political strategy. And it’s a strategy that demagogues know has to keep ratcheting up to work. And if he’s not stopped now, he’ll only get worse.

“Every demagogue acts voluntarily and through choices. They are not how they are painted; they are not creatures of their own appetite, irrational and out of control,” said Michael Signer, a professor at the University of Virginia who has written extensively on demagogues. “They tend to be extremely opportunistic and shameless and ruthless political actors.”

You will not need reminding of the terms that Trump has used to describe ‘illegal immigrants’. When he authorized the separation of children from families, he insisted that these people were ‘infesting’ America, a term traditionally used to describe pests. He said that Democrats were to blame. “They don’t care about crime and want illegal immigrants, no matter how bad they may be, to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13”, a violent criminal gang based in Central America.

Referring to the ‘Caravan’ currently headed through Mexico towards the US, Trump tweeted ”Many gang members and some very bad people are mixed into the Caravan heading to our Southern Border. Please go back, you will not be admitted into the United States unless you go through the legal process. This is an invasion of our Country and our Military is waiting for you!”  Robert Bowers, the alleged murderer in the synagogue shooting, posted similar comments about the Caravan on Gab, a social media platform that gives voice to white supremacists. In one post, Bowers wrote, “I have noticed a change in people saying ‘illegals’ that now say ‘invaders.’ I like this.” The company Trump keeps!

There is no end to the exaggerated rhethoric. Trump’s media supporters now claim that the Caravan is a health threat to American children, bringing to the US tuberculosis, leprosy, and even smallpox, a disease eliminated from the world in 1980! Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, reports that Trump said that black people were too stupid to vote for him during the 2016 election.

McGann and Agorakis point out that Trump’s message is growing increasingly extreme, but like all demagogues, he has no choice but to continue to ratchet up his worst words and worst behaviour. Although the media see his behaviour as aberrant, his supporters see exactly what they want to see; they believe his line that he’s not responsible for extreme rhetoric in politics or a sense of division in American life. They don’t support him in spite of his behaviour; they support him because of it. A recent poll found that 80 percent of Republicans agree with Trump’s recent claim that the national media has done more to divide than unite the country since Trump took office. A Gallup poll showed that 89% approved of the job he’s doing.

Although many of us question Trump’s rationality, McGann and Agorakis believe Trump knew exactly what he was doing – stirring up emotions among his supporters ahead of the mid-term elections in order to get them out to vote for Republican candidates in an effort to maintain control of the legislature.

Social psychology provides an explanation for such demagogic behaviour. It is termed: The out-group homogeneity effect. It is the perception that members of other groups are more similar to one another than are members of our own group: “They are alike; we are diverse”. How many times have you heard: ”Muslims are all the same”, or ”Immigrants are all the same”, or ”Boat people are all the same”, coming here illegally, taking our jobs, taking our houses, bludging on our social welfare.” In contrast, how many times have you heard: ”Aussies are all the same?” No, we’re different – diverse, adaptable, hard-working, socially responsible, generous, altogether good fellows ready to give our mates a leg up!

Demagogues exploit the out-group homogeneity effect to foster antagonism. It has been found among a wide variety of different social groups, from political and racial groups to age and gender groups. Thus, out-group judgments are overestimated, supporting the view that out-group stereotypes are overgeneralizations. Some social researchers view the homogeneity effect as an example of cognitive bias and error, while other researchers view the effect as an example of normal and often adaptive behaviour.

Image from edition.cnn.com

Stepping back from Trump and Putin – the Super-Demagogues – we can recognize many others. The election of Jair Bolsonaro as president of Brazil marks a new stage of the rightwards slide to fascism and its demagoguery. A frightening number of alt-right players are emerging in Europe: Viktor Orban, prime minister of Hungary; Heinz-Christian Strache, deputy prime minister of Austria; Jaroslaw Kaczynski, chairman of Poland’s governing party; Janez Janša, leader of Slovenia’s largest party; Matteo Salvini, leader of Italy’s junior governing party; and of course Marine le Pen runner-up in the French presidential election in France, are some of them. Do read what policies they have in mind for their countries! They bring with them their own style of demagoguery. It should make us all fearful.

Year after year, we are witnessing the relentless march of the demagogues. Their influence extends inexorably. It will not stop. We must be alert. We should be very alarmed. The world is in peril. They are a danger to us all – now.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Extreme distraction (part 2)

By Tony Andrews

… Continued from Part 1

The world is rigged, and it has been for a very long time.

Society has a bad habit of labelling everyone into being something that can fit into an easily defined mould. Capitalist, Socialist, Christian, Muslim, right wing, left wing, progressive, conservative, conspiracy theorist, whatever term or ‘ism/ist’ that can be used to remove the impression of autonomous, free thinking individuals.

Labelling or pigeon holing is, after all, the basis of most of our western names. Our first names and our surnames are both derived from the need to identify and pigeon hole the owner, John Smith, ‘that man’s a christian and he’s a tradesman’, is one obvious example.

I’m no different to anyone else and am guilty of pigeon holing and labelling people and stuff as well, so feel free to label me as you wish, but at least I acknowledge that it’s a bad habit that allows us all to judge other people based on almost nothing… who knows, maybe it’s genetic.

The modern reality show, as well as being entertaining, is also exposing the flaws in our economic system. The popularity of shows that give an insight into how the other half lives, gives a newfound and constant form of proof to the world that the rich and privileged in our society are no smarter than average people. In fact, often they actually appear less intelligent, more self-absorbed and seem to lack self-awareness more than most of the world’s population.

While we laugh at the selfish and demanding personalities, edited to capture their individual extremes, the more outrageous the better, in order to capture the tv audience from other network’s similar, reality-based shows, overall, the essence of who these Uber members of society really are shines through. And we are all slowly realising that these are the people and children of the people, that control our very existence.

That they didn’t get where they are today by working harder or being smarter than the average wage earner. They did it by being either, manufactured by industry as marketing tools, a personality that the target market for the corporate product can identify with, or inherited wealth and the networks and connections that offers, has provided them with a life that their brains and ability could never have provided.

To quote Jack London, “they walk on dead man’s legs.”

The same flaws are being exposed in our political system. The constant need for program content on news and current affairs shows and its ‘news all day, everyday’ mantra, means that our elected representatives in government are revealed as the people they really are, warts and all.

The talking heads that interview our members of parliament and the senate, as well as our economic and intellectual leaders, are trained to attack weakness and to follow their employer’s editorial direction.

They need to look ‘hard hitting’ in order to maintain their own profile and career, in other words, to continue to service their mortgage and investments… to earn their daily bread, so to speak, because let’s face it, one thing we all have in common is a need to provide for ourselves and those we love.

The interviewers also have to appear knowledgeable about whatever subject is being discussed whilst maintaining their image as ‘ordinary’ members of society.

It’s a balancing act that has cut many careers short, as we don’t like ‘tall poppies’ or ‘know it alls.’

The work of selectively diligent researchers and discreet earpieces that can direct the interview from behind the scenes, mean these talking heads often appear more knowledgeable on a subject to the viewing public, than the person being interviewed, regardless of their training or expertise in the field being discussed… and we wonder why people have lost faith in ‘experts’… although, to be fair, strict ideological doctrines, like those that are universally trained in neo-liberal economic theory, for example, hasn’t helped ‘experts’ credibility much either.

Interrogated would be a more appropriate description of the modern interview technique. Especially when it is a politician whose views differ from those promoted by the shareholder appointed controllers of the media and whose ideas may upset the status quo… after all, the senior management of the media corporations want to keep their jobs as well and provide for themselves and those they love.

The accepted reality of today is that we need to be ‘competitive in the global economy,’ but the fact is that it’s just another slogan to promote the corporate’s profit serving agenda. Like the politically powerful ‘stop the boats’ or ‘jobs and growth’, used by the business arm of politics to persuade the general public that they are serving the needs of the people, when the reality is that they are only serving themselves and our corporate masters. We are a means to an end.

The corporations need us, the same way that a pig farmer needs to feed and fatten his produce in order to profit from their sale at market.

We, the consumers, are powerless and in today’s world, taxpayer funded government spending has added to the burden on citizens by directly subsidising these corporations in order to attract their investment. Allowing them to take full advantage of profit shifting to their parent companies via tax havens overseas and increasing the financial strain on the individual tax paying members of a country.

What is the point of a high GDP if the living standards of a country’s citizens don’t rise proportionately with it?

What has the ideology of the free market delivered for ordinary Australians?

For an economy to benefit everyone it needs to have a balance between regulation and the free market. No single solution ideology fits our modern societies, if they ever even did.

It’s about balance but, instead of looking for balance, we’ve allowed ourselves to get distracted, again, with seemingly urgent issues and philosophical debates that allow the corporate machine to continue on its path to worldwide economic and social collapse.

More and more of us know this now, we can see that we’re all being used, but we still fall for the old ‘divide and conquer’ rubbish. It’s not all our fault though, we’ve been trained by history to accept our reality and not rock the boat too much.

We know that millions upon millions of ordinary people have died in the pursuit of ‘freedom’. We know that fighting for a fairer share of the pie often leaves those that can least afford it destitute and hungry. Of course, we, the ordinary members of western culture and society, are scared to risk everything for a chance to help everyone and ourselves. History has shown us that we’ve risked it all before, only to replace one set of masters with another or have our burden increased by victorious incumbents we swore to serve. However, there is no free ride.

To really change things in favour of the majority of humanity, we need to resist the distractions of blame, hatred, and revenge. We need to resist those that insist change can only come with ‘class struggle’ and great personal loss because that brings with it the same problems… blame, hatred and revenge.

I’m not saying that there will be no cost, that it’s as easy to fix as snapping our fingers, but the revolution of the last thirty years, that’s what the economic reforms have been, a revolution, have occurred almost unseen. Capital has taken complete control over almost all the world economies. Social protections and our communal well-being have been removed almost completely from consideration.

In our country, Australia, de-regulation and the sale of publicly owned assets, as well as the offshoring of manufacturing have resulted in unparalleled levels of economic growth (on paper anyway). The social costs of these reforms need to be assessed accurately, calculated and given a value. This value then has to be returned to us. Not necessarily in monetary form, but in increased social protections and the ability to reform ourselves for future economic development, to regain the shared ability for individual economic prosperity.

We need to take some form of control back from the domination of the stock market’s rise and fall.

It’s not impossible, it just needs accurate data and the will to pursue a counter revolution. ‘Changing the rules’, a slogan and campaign produced by the Australian trade union movement is an example of this counter revolution. It’s already begun, the people are getting behind it. No guns. No violence. No ‘seizing the means of production’ or overthrowing capitalism. Just solid data and the will to initiate change to benefit people, not just bank balances. To quote a couple of influential Australians; “from little things, big things grow.”

The trade union movement and by extension, all workers, have suffered much during the current revolution.

The offshoring of manufacturing and the ‘modernising’ of industrial relations in all other forms of employment, has damaged our societies much more than the politically uninterested could believe possible.

Until rapid deregulation allowed the ‘housing boom’ to create another lucrative revenue stream for the multinationals, new suburbs around Australia were mostly built with public funds to provide housing for the workers that were needed in our industries. Not just large locally or internationally owned factories, but our mining and power generation as well.

Local workers earned enough to eventually build their own homes in the same areas. Creating ‘local’ economies, providing employment and opportunity for small businesses to service the local community. Creating, at the same time, the ‘fair go’, that’s become a cliché of Australian values.

Now, our communities are fractured. We no longer know our neighbours well or work together. Our high-priced homes in new estates, planned and built around the potential for profit generated by their development, rather than servicing the needs of local employers, has divided us more than skin colour or religious belief ever could.

Historically, communities formed the backbone of trade unionism in Australia and around the world. If workers in one industry were locked out or on strike, their friends, other members of the local community, did their best to ensure that the striking worker’s families still got fed and provided moral, as well as financial, support.

This concept of community must be recognised, also given a value, and internationalised. If the global economy is ever going to work for all of us, we need to re-adopt the same approach or similar, that allowed individual prosperity and the means for anyone to progress above the superficial barriers of ‘class’.

The idea needs to be continually reinforced in the public minds that modern unions are not just self-interested groups looking to improve the fortunes of some workers, while ignoring others that are not under their influence.

If we allow the current crop of revolutionary leaders and their propaganda arm, the media corporations, to continue with the ‘us vs. them’ style doctrines, directing the dialogue and condensing the public debate around globalisation into division between the haves and have nots, the future of the union movement and its regained public allegiance by the political parties that originated from their support, will wane.

Ignoring the current age of corporatism is not an option. Any political party that promises to wind back the clock and take capital head on, will very quickly find themselves unelectable.

Collective unity must include everyone.

The idea that for those with less to gain more, those with much must lose everything, has been an unshakeable barrier to change and is a huge factor in why we are where we are today.

The idea that there must always be winners and losers in any negotiation, means the threat of the guillotine still remains. For this reason, ‘changing the rules’ may bring about unintended consequences because capital will not capitulate.

It will go down fighting.

It will change the rules as well and, as history has shown us, it plays dirty.

The next card up the corporate sleeve if the status quo is too threatened, will be putting down social revolt in order to maintain the free market revolution. Not right now of course, so don’t go building a bunker in the bush just yet, they’ll need a reasonable excuse first.

Again, they’ll go back to basics.

The ever-widening gap between the rich and poor will be exploited even further because hate makes us blind. When we ‘see red’ we forget consequences. We forget to think rationally. Hate is a powerful weapon because it’s the one thing that can turn the masses into a mob.

Midway through the First World War, German leaders knew exactly what they were doing when they released Lenin from prison and shipped him off to Russia in a boxcar. The war was going badly, and they were desperate to ease the pressure on their borders. A Russia thrown into political turmoil seemed like a great idea at the time… it didn’t help them of course, they still lost the war, but the consequences of their actions still echo through time. The concept of the ‘class struggle’ has never gone away and it will only take massaging and coercion to steer the people’s desire for a fairer deal into something far bigger.

Just as the rise of salesman Trump has challenged the current political structure, it won’t be long before his polar opposite appears.

Not Sanders in the US, not Corbyn in the UK, these men desire stability and a fair go for all. That is not enough to create the kind of conflict that can stop change in its tracks.

The media, intentionally or not, will help create a new Lenin.

Like with the modern version of fascism, rising under Trump and others, ideology will be a secondary consideration. Old style communism will not work. Trotsky, for example, didn’t decide to take to the countryside and preach to the farm labourers, the rural peasantry, his version of a worker’s paradise for no reason. The more educated workers in the cities and larger towns were not so easy to convince and allow themselves to willingly be used as a weapon of their own personal destruction.

A new angle will need to be found and it’s quite possible that the trade union movement, somewhere in the world, will inadvertently provide it. Covertly encouraged by the masters of our present economic system.

Passion is infectious and easily exploited by those that have none. Given enough rope, a ‘true person of the people’, indulged by those in the media in search of high ratings and the illusion of job security that ratings provide, will help create an ‘anti-Trump’. Someone that can polarise the people by offering another means for us all to acquire that new can opener or toaster. The rope will tighten and there will be war.

The real winners though, will not be people. It will be the corporate machine and it will continue to roll over the top of us long after the war it creates between the historic monsters of ‘fascism’ and ‘communism’ has come and gone.

Any changes to the rules that will benefit us all and direct a fair distribution of profit back to those that provide the labour and consume the products created will be stalled indefinitely.

It will also provide another ‘ism’ for future corporate revolutionaries to scare us, the workers/consumers, into submission with for as long as they can… the threat of ‘unionism.’

Because almost all humans have at least one thing in common. We may wait years to buy a new can opener or toaster, deciding which brand suits us best, but when we make up our minds to get one, we buy it, and nothing will change our mind once it’s been made up. The same applies for which footy team we support or political party we vote for.

So the revolution will continue in the background and it will be our own fault, because instead of balance, we’ll allow extremes to control the agenda and humanity’s direction. Then, when the burden seems like too much to bear and we start to demand, again, a ‘fair go’, we’ll again search for someone to blame, rekindle our hatred, then seek revenge…

With the corporation’s covert approval.

Extreme distraction

By Tony Andrews

A revolution has occurred while we’ve been watching the telly, dreaming of a new car, dishwasher or holiday, and trying our best not to offend anyone.

No tanks have rolled through suburban Australia, no massed forces have seized the factories and farms, instead they’ve been relocated overseas or sold off, radically and completely changing the game.

Actually, ‘game’ is not the right word: our lives, our rights, our ability to work hard and be paid accordingly, our chance to get above debt and enjoy a comfortable life that allows more than just the illusion of freedom and independence. That is what’s been taken. It is no game.

This should be a reasonable and achievable goal for everyone, and from the 1950s up until the mid 1990s, it was. However, it isn’t anymore and never will be again for the majority of us, without a counter revolution.

We’ve been fooled into believing in nonsense concepts, like karma and good things come to those who wait. Work hard and be rewarded, good triumphs over evil… that the extra money generated by tax cuts for business will trickle down to the rest of us. But it’s all rubbish.

The reality created by this revolution doesn’t allow us all to become rich, doesn’t allow us all to have that one good idea that can put an entrepreneur into the world of the super wealthy.

That’s just how it is.

Almost all of us are destined to see out our days worrying about our rent or mortgage and paying just for the privilege of our existence.

Paying all we earn for our need for comfort and security. For our necessities and our most modest dreams.

Paying all we earn for our electricity, our phone, our car, our big screen televisions with Foxtel and internet, ensuring we can feed and clothe our children, send them to school, and dreaming that, hopefully, they can have a better life than us.

But they almost certainly won’t.

Life for all of us is full of good days and bad, regardless of our level of wealth. The difference between the haves and have nots though, is what they can do to ease the bad days and extend the good.

Most of us can only imagine never needing to worry about providing the basic needs of existence for ourselves and those we love.

Never worrying about where the money will come from to pay for the car registration or the utility bills. It’s a luxury not afforded to many Australians or indeed, most of the world’s people.

Worrying about unexpected illness or injury and the affects that it can have on our quality of life and finances has been eased a little for Australians without accumulated wealth, but the attacks on Medicare since its inception, and escalating rapidly, has given us long-term causes for concern. But, like everything that is taken away from us, it’s downplayed or dismissed as scaremongering from the radically conservative members of society… our revolutionary masters.

How to stay employed and have enough money to retire comfortably after our working days are over.

These worries take up a lot of the average person’s thoughts, just like finding enough work to feed themselves and their families possessed the thoughts of our great grandparents during the Depression.

Today, the radically conservative influenced governments and the media make sure that the rest of our thinking time is filled with distraction, not just entertaining programming, sports and reality shows but also news that’s tailor made to suit their needs. Preying on our fears and manipulating our emotions with one sided statistics and an agenda focused coverage of local and world events.

Advertising that forces us all to be avid, materialistic, consumers, spending more than we can afford.

This distraction allows them to further stretch the gap between those who have and those who have not, often without really meaning to. They are mostly just reasonably normal people. People that have been trained to see the world one way and have been given free reign by our apathy and life’s distractions to build the world to reflect their beliefs, often with unintended and unseen consequences. ‘It’s not personal, it’s just business’, is a phrase we’ve all heard way too often.

It’s not their fault really. How many people actually read a book that they aren’t required to?

How many people continue to educate themselves informally after their schooling is complete? Not many, and who can blame them?

It’s much easier and less stressful to drift with the tide.

Most people see glimpses of the truth at times, but the saying, “ignorance is bliss” is truly based in fact, so that when we see a politician or political commentator discussing the merits of this policy or that, the effects on our daily lives purposely obscured by lengthy, convoluted dialogue, we switch off, find another distraction and leave it up to those that we assume, know best.

One of the main focuses of distraction by boredom is the economy.

When you listen to our elected representatives in government and their spin doctors, the lobbyists, and our corporate masters, you get the idea that the economy is a fragile thing, that any negative affect to shareholder value and trade will cause untold damage to our way of life. And it’s mostly true. They have structured it that way.

They will wring every cent out of us that they can because the corporations no longer have any choice. Their programming has been designed to deliver certain results, not to think about social consequences.

They must expand and maximise profit, devouring smaller enterprises because if they don’t, they too will be taken over by other corporations.

Surplus profit has to be put to work to create more profit or else the whole concept of corporate capitalism will fail, but it’s very nature will also be our undoing.

Hardly anybody is prepared to make decisions anymore because it may affect their own position in the corporate world or jeopardise their climb up the ladder.

The ones that do decide on the future direction of the corporation that employs them are rarely given all the facts related to the decisions they are required to make. Only the information that is beneficial to the stock price appears to be calculated and taken into account, for reasons of ‘plausible deniability’ those in charge often don’t want to know all the facts.

Those below them in the corporate structure, will also quite willingly throw someone else under a bus to maintain their own progression and livelihood. Decisions which involve personal financial risk are avoided because the modern business has purposely removed the protections once afforded to its employees.

No one wants to be the negative voice that stands in the way of profit. Altruism and a social conscience have no place in the boardrooms of the corporate world. They have a multitude of think tanks and spin doctors compiling oaths, company creeds and internal policies that would have the outside world believe otherwise, but unless there’s a financial benefit to behaving ethically or for the good of humanity and the planet, it just doesn’t happen… well, sometimes it does actually, but it’s more of a by-product of progress rather than purposeful humanitarianism.

The world is changing though, like ‘terminators’ that have become self-aware, massed humanity is awakening slowly to reality. The only way the machine can continue to generate profit for profits sake, well into the future, is by distracting the masses with the same old tricks. By giving the monsters from the past enough air to distract us all from creating real change that may negatively affect the corporate bottom line.

Today, that distraction is ‘privilege’, ‘equality’ and ‘over-population’. Tomorrow, unless we’re very careful, the only solutions offered to us will be ‘fascism’ or ‘communism’.

Extremes never fail to keep us occupied.

White privilege is a fact, but it’s also a fairly broad term that misses the point. It seems to encompass all white people, and, to a certain extent, it does. Except that, for the majority of white people, it doesn’t mean very much.

Sure, we don’t generally have police checking our identification before we are allowed to buy alcohol, as is a frequent occurrence for Australian First Nations people, or are not baselessly accused of being ‘terrorists’ because of our olive skin, beards and belief in a certain religion, but overall, the majority of white people are not exactly given the red carpet treatment by society either.

Once upon a time it was definitely ‘trueish.’

White people did control commerce and write the versions of history that our western societies still mostly assume to be true. This is changing of course, but the belief of ‘white superiority’ will linger in the minds and ambitions of some for a long time to come. As will the concept of ‘racial superiority’ in the minds of people with a different melatonal composition, but if the ordinary Irish, Scot, English, or Frenchmen, from centuries past, could still speak, I doubt they would ever have considered themselves privileged above others.

It’s just another slogan that separates us all into factions and divides humanity, allowing the revolution to continue in the background.

An emotive branding that simplifies a complex issue, providing a focal point for the historically oppressed that covers a section of our global community with a blanket that would seem to define colonialism and atrocity purely on skin colour.

Or, if you’re white skinned, a rallying cry to draw those with an obvious genetic legacy into allegiance with those that wish to use our massed alliance to pursue their own agenda. It ignores the real truth, that individuals within the collective global society, with skins of many hues and varying degrees of size and strength, have no real power. We have no voice that isn’t just an extension of someone else’s philosophical or political belief. Our emotions are easy prey for our present and potential future, revolutionary leaders. Men and women that are trained to capitalise on our frustrations and voicelessness.

After watching a ten-minute adformercial about the latest and greatest can opener or toaster, who doesn’t want to own one themselves? If every couple of days we’re told we’re being discriminated against because we’re white, black, too short, too tall, disabled, unskilled, too skilled, male or female, genderless even, it’s hard to resist the impulse to agree, especially when we are barely treading water. Even the most successful humans (in monetary terms) of our societies are prone to the suggestion of discrimination against themselves. ‘Class warfare’ is their rallying cry, isolated by their wealth and despised by those that are not so well off. The unfortunate victims of ‘the politics of envy’.

We are all malleable to suggestion.

We are unconsciously drawn to anything that appears to improve our present circumstances. We buy lotto tickets hoping for a better life, knowing that we don’t have a hope in hell of winning. We grasp at any straw that’s offered to us because we know that the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

Am I saying that discrimination based on human traits doesn’t occur or the lingering effects of historical oppression are blown out of proportion… no, I’m not.

An interesting fact is that men between 6’ and 6’ 3” are the most highly paid and are disproportionately represented in the higher levels of the corporate and political world. Is this their fault?

Are they smarter than those of less impressive stature?

No more or less than any other group within society, it’s just that height commands a kind of instant respect and is considered a ‘leadership quality’… unless they are too tall of course, over 6’ 5” and we consider them to be freaks.

Is this bias towards a certain male height an example of what they call ‘reverse discrimination,’ because I’m not sure what that term means exactly, but it’s obvious that we are not only malleable to suggestion, we are all guilty of stereotyping as well. Which goes a long way towards creating the world’s winners and losers.

Even the terms we use most to describe admiration and respect reflect this bias. We “look up” to someone and “look down” on those that we don’t respect. We ‘size people up’ to appraise their worth.

Men of less impressive stature that question this ‘natural’ order, apparently have a well known syndrome…

Humanity it seems, deserves the future that has been written for us.

We all need community, people that we feel akin to, that we consider are the same as ourselves. It’s natural and human. It’s just that it’s no longer sustainable for these feelings of tribal connectivity to be localised or based on common features, cultures or easily definable traits. If we want human life to continue to exist, we have to evolve, not regress. Race. Religion. Nationality. All redundant. All just a form of special effects used to distract us from the present revolt.

Blaming individuals or groups within society for our disconnect from modern life and the lack of individual advancement, regardless of effort, is pointless and self-defeating. Collectively, we are achieving nothing except another drift into catastrophic global conflict, but there is hope.

Slowly and, in most cases, without actually meaning to, individuals on our planet are educating themselves, all of them.

We have access to the accumulated knowledge of the entire world. Our children can access historical information that their grandparents, unless specifically trained, would’ve refused to believe could be true.

They were not stupid, not at all, unfortunately, ignorance is now commonly regarded as meaning the same thing, but ignorant just means unaware.

Our grandparents were generally ‘unaware’ of what was happening outside their own borders or interests. Which is why they were susceptible to ‘the call to arms.’ Why the people of the past appeared so willing to allow themselves to be treated like cattle and herded in whichever direction their political leaders required. Now, we want more than a strong hand to guide us or a romanticised ideal. We know there’s no Utopian paradise awaiting us after the war, any war is won… the truths of history are now in the public domain and easy to find if you look or accidentally stumble upon when ‘net surfing. However, before enough of us wake up a ‘strong hand to guide us’ is a distinct possibility for our future.

The drift away from our major political party’s is a reflection of the dissatisfaction and doubt in the ability of our leadership to improve our individual lives. Which is why voters are choosing to elect people that they believe share their outlook or are prepared to ‘shake things up’. Trump, a billionaire salesman. Clive Palmer, a billionaire mining magnate. Pauline Hanson, a fish n chip shop owner.

‘Class’ is not the issue for most voters, they don’t care about your background anymore, they just want things to be different.

Trump is a good example of this indifference to class war by the general public. He is a salesman, pure and simple. Trained from birth to ‘make the deal’, he is not affected by attacks on his intelligence or diplomatic skills by political pundits or his rivals, it runs like water off a duck’s back because he knows who his target market is. He knows who’s buying what he’s selling. It isn’t the intelligentsia or political elite, it’s the average, disillusioned punter.

These voters are not confined to any particular class, they are from all levels of society. That’s what makes him scary to the existing political establishment and exemplifies how easy it is to drift toward fascism. Not ideological based fascism as we know it, but a different kind. The people know he’s bullshitting to them, but it’s ‘honest’, car salesman style bullshit. He’s promising them a better can opener, a better toaster, and just like insomniacs tele-surfing at midnight, the voters have got their credit cards ready.

Those that wish to continue the present revolution are getting desperate to maintain the illusion of division rooted in different skin colours and cultural backgrounds. Between left and right, god and the devil, between anything that they can think of really, to keep us from collectively changing the world to one that benefits all of mankind, instead of just those that have inherited the earth and its riches as we know it. The modern beneficiary however, is not a person or small group of powerful individuals, they’ve now been incorporated. The multinational is now in control of our destiny, and it’s a runaway train. A Titanic in search of an iceberg.

The individuals at the helm however, are still under the delusion that they are in control and will fight to the death (your death and your children’s, not theirs of course) to maintain the status quo. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that their fortunes are tied so closely to the stock price and not their brains. The influential proponents of the ‘free market’ and its revolutionary leaders are not immune to the negative effects of its progression, unfortunately though, their cognitive dissonance and fear of a future created by the disgruntled masses continue to perpetuate the current revolution…

They feel they have no choice.

War and economic collapse are almost inevitable because the real division in society is dawning in the minds of ordinary, working people. Those that are in power, as well as those that seek control, are starting to strategise. Some have even re-emerged from history’s closet, to claim what they believe is rightfully theirs… before it’s too late.

Before enough of us understand that philosophical ideals and adherence to strict ideological doctrines are the reason we are where we are today, and that almost all of them are a con.

The world seems unable to stop the rapid rise of inequality. The yawning chasm between the haves and the have nots is ever widening, yet the ‘solution spinners’, the political and intellectual elite of our world (both from the left, the right, and all spaces in between) apparently have no ideas or set directions to follow that aren’t based on ideological and/or philosophical notions from the last and previous centuries. Notions that widen the chasm even further by encouraging hatred and revenge. That promise to satisfy their followers, yet only offer further division of our already fragmented humanity.

The agenda driven, manufactured versions of division, the ones based on religious beliefs or melatonal composition are designed to distract us, but the ones underlying those, the ones that until now, have been easy to defeat for those with the money, are not so easily hidden.

When the obvious disparity between the wealthy and the wage earner is more and more pronounced every day and the access to factual information regarding wealth inequality is within the reach of almost anyone with access to the internet and an inquiring mind, those that hold all the cards need to reshuffle the deck.

Until recently, the aces hiding up their sleeve haven’t been needed, but the age of distraction, the game of smoke and mirrors is almost over. It’s time for the manipulators to bring out their big guns, and this is why…

All the distractions of the modern world are failing to numb the minds of wage earners and their children. Normal, everyday people, that are developing, through education and intimate knowledge, an awareness of the real causes of the stress created by providing a living for themselves and those that depend on them.

The ability and means to understand that something is wrong with the way the world is run and that no matter how hard they work, they only ever seem to barely, and not always, stay ahead of their financial commitments. Seeing a future where retirement is not going to provide security or comfort. Where their children are at the mercy of an untouchable system that still doesn’t care if they survive or not.

That doesn’t care about addressing past wrongs or future internationally significant issues. Paying lip service to change, instead of actually changing to advance the interests of all mankind…

OK, I meant man and womankind… umm, maybe I mean all genderkind. Forgive me, it’s difficult to keep up with the divisive distractions that seem so vital to address and cause us all to walk on eggshells every time we open our mouths or write down our thoughts, but actually create more division that hides the real barriers to collective unity.

Concluded tomorrow with Part 2

Dare ya

On 21 August, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said

I think in the immigration portfolio, you are defined by Nauru and Manus … I would love to get everybody off there tomorrow. If I could have brought them to Australia in a charter flight overnight I would have.

Admittedly this was the ‘kind, warm and fuzzy’ Dutton around the time he resigned as Turnbull’s Immigration Minister after challenging for the leadership and losing. History tells us he was going to make a second strike at the Liberal Party leadership a day or two after the first attempt and was furiously (and incorrectly) counting the numbers. History also tells us the second strike removed Turnbull but installed Scott Morrison as Prime Minister, himself a previous Immigration Minister.

By October, a number of children who are believed to be suffering extreme physical and mental health issues as a result of years of imprisonment on Nauru at the behest of the Australian Government were being repatriated to Australia for appropriate medical care following political pressure from ‘radical’ organisations such as Getup, progressive members of the Liberal Party and the Australian Medical Association. It’s not enough. As reported by Paddy Manning in The Monthly’s weekday afternoon email the next day, on 25 October federal Liberal MP Julia Banks spoke about the continued imprisonment of refugees on Nauru and

relayed the story of a little girl on Nauru who asked the UN’s High Commissioner for Refugees, “Why am I in prison?” When asked her name, the girl gave her number. “That little girl has a name,” said Banks yesterday. “That little girl has a life, and she’s living in child years. Let us as a country not have to apologise to that little girl and the other children on Nauru in years to come.”

As Paddy Manning went on to observe

Banks is no softie — she was the same MP who earlier this year reckoned she could live on Newstart — and arguably her speech was too little, too late.

Manning goes on to reflect on the ‘rank hypocrisy’ of the Australian Government’s apology to the victims of institutional child sexual abuse while we as a country are still committing equally disgusting and repulsive acts on children as Morrison made his apology speech (as a result of former PM Gillard’s courageous — in the correct sense of the word — Enquiry into Institutional Child Abuse) in Parliament.

That isn’t to suggest for a minute that those that were abused by members of institutions that were supposed to care for children don’t deserve an apology — they do. The people currently on Nauru also don’t deserve an indefinite jail term for the legally permitted action of seeking refugee status in a country of their choice either.

So the ‘cuddly, friendly’ Dutton in August wanted to bring all those on Nauru to Australia. Well Morrison re-appointed Dutton as Home Affairs and Immigration Minister, so he still can. Apparently it’s as simple as hiring a plane. What’s stopping him? Dutton had no trouble authorising that a couple of au pairs employed by people he knew to stay in the country (while declining the application for an Afghani translator employed by the ADF) so the precedent is there. C’mon, Pete, you can do it, hire the plane — those of us that aren’t on the extreme right wing of the Liberal Party dare ya.

The alternative is that Dutton was saying whatever he thought would give him a leg up in the popularity stakes by apportioning the blame to others. While there are others that are equally to blame here from both the red and blue teams in Parliament House, the person with the absolute power at the moment is Dutton. And he chose to use the physical and mental health of children in a vain and ultimately fruitless attempt to remake his image. It demonstrates the calibre of the man’s ethics and morals.

Even if Dutton can’t grow a backbone and hire the plane to bring everyone from Nauru to Australia he can be overruled. Morrison rolled in over the top of Dutton and took the prize (or would poison chalice be a more apt description given the opinion polls and the result of the Wentworth by-election?). We recently discussed Morrison’s attempts in looking for a marketing slogan that worksduring the period of the Wentworth by-election and noted a number of ‘policy on the run’ decisions as well as a few backflips. Eminent Liberals such as John Hewson have argued that Morrison’s best chance for re-election was to be brave and completely reset the policy agenda (rather than resetting the messaging of the current policies) for the Coalition government and this could include issues such as refugee policy, addressing climate change, integrity and so on. The ABC’s Laura Tingle wrote about the same issues the week after the Wentworth humiliation and now Morrison’s even annoying the IPA.

But then again, to change policies to appeal to a broader cross section of Australians would take considerable backbone, something Morrison has yet to demonstrate he has with his constant kowtowing to the alt-right rump in the Liberal and National Parties. Morrison may not get past the next election, but what a legacy if he was to order the release of everyone Australia has imprisoned on Nauru and really did some ‘fair dinkum’ work on reducing emissions through a trading scheme. He really doesn’t have much to lose but potentially a lot to gain by attracting moderates back to the Liberal Party. As Dutton said, getting people off Nauru is as easy as chartering a plane (and presumably terminating an agreement). So if Dutton doesn’t have the backbone to do it — how ‘bout you, Scomo — we double dare ya.

What do you think?

This article by 2353 was originally published on The Political Sword.

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War, religion, and a half billion dollars

By Henry Johnston

When you do the maths, you realise almost a half billion of your dollars has been set aside by the Morrison Government to redevelop the Australian War Memorial. Add to this $100 million spent on the Monash Centre in Villers-Bretonneux. Now add almost $13 million to document the official histories of wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor. Then add the $40 million dollars lavished on the refurbishment of Sydney’s ANZAC Memorial in Hyde Park.

So far I’ve tallied almost $653,000,000. I am innumerate, so this figure might be off the mark, but you get my drift. I do not know how much money has been set aside on war memorials or their equivalents in other states of the Commonwealth, but the tally might approach three quarters of a trillion dollars.

So, what is going on? The 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War 1 comes and goes on November 11 2018, but the question is, does this sad anniversary justify this massive expenditure?

Social media is taking the pulse of Scott Morrison’s largesse, and the indirect beneficiary of this near half billion dollar grant, the Australian War Memorial’s Director and failed Liberal leader, Dr Brendan Nelson. All I detect is a general consensus suggesting the dough be spent on the health and well-being of men and women injured in Australia’s most recent conflicts.

As a writer I’ve woven the effects of war into my novels and short stories. I am of a generation directly affected by World War 2. My father worked in war industry and before him long-dead nameless great uncles survived the horrors of World War 1.

My first reaction is ANZAC Day and war memorials large and small in Australian towns, villages and cities, serve as a substitute for a national religion. The Dawn Service held at Gallipoli, Turkey on April 25th each year, is a rite of passage for thousands of young Australians. These rituals are not uncommon. Young European men and women tread the path of Camino de Santiago in Spain, or complete the five routes to achieve Ireland’s Pilgrim’s Passport.

Religion and war freely borrow one another’s iconography to snare this youthful optimism and I reckon the half billion dollars earmarked for the decade-long redevelopment of the national war memorial, continues this tradition.

I doubt the Labor Opposition will criticise the expenditure because there is no political mileage in so doing. Indeed, former Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd appointed Dr Brendan Nelson Director of the Australian War Memorial, and the good doctor will now be comfortably remunerated until he retires.

So on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the Armistice of World War 1, it is worth considering two examples of religious iconography deployed by propagandists, during that awful period of our history.

The first is the Angels of Mons. The second the Miracle of the Sun, known among pious Christians as the Miracle of Fatima, a village in Portugal. Both occurrences are inextricably linked with the actual apocalypse.

The Angels of Mons occurred shortly after Great Britain declared war on Germany on August 4, 1914. A mere 19 days later on August 23rd, the British Expeditionary Force clashed with the German Army. After the shock and awe of battle, the BEF somehow managed an orderly retreat, and staved off a major defeat.

An account of events in Mons, written by journalist Arthur Machen, described heavenly bowmen from the Battle of Agincourt shielding the retreating British forces. Machen’s item became a cause celebre among home front spiritualists. His story eventually morphed into the myth of the Angels of Mons, and was deployed to boost morale. The Angels of Mons fantasy is documented by the Australian War Memorial, but not so the Miracle of the Sun, or Fatima. The latter is probably ignored because Portugal’s involvement in World War 1 focused principally on its imperial possessions in Africa. However, the date of the Miracle of Fatima 13 October 1917, is significant. The Russian Czar is in custody. The Bolsheviks in power, and with Russia out of the war, the redeployment of German divisions to the Western Front means defeat. Three of Fatima’s children describe visions of the Virgin Mary. The sun dances in the sky as an accompaniment to the miracle, which remained a powerful example of Marian piety until the reign of Pope John Paul the Second. In reality the Miracle of Fatima was used by the Vatican in its campaign against Communism.

And so to our own great myth; the debacle of the landing at the Dardanelles where 8,709 Australians died. By the end of the obscenity of World War 1, 61,522 Australians perished.

I do not belittle those who take spiritual nourishment from the story of Gallipoli or the Angels of Mons, or the Miracle of Fatima, but I hope a tiny portion of the half billion dollars will be set aside by the Australian Government to valorise the memory of young Aboriginal men and women, killed in battle to defend their Australian home lands. I doubt this will happen because as of now those frontier wars do not fit our view of who we are, and how we became Australians.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale at Brays Bookshop in Balmain an at Forty South Publishing.

Shackled by Ideology

By Ad astra

Can the body politic ever be freed from entrenched beliefs?

How many of you despair of our politicians? How many of you fume at the incoherence of the positions they take? How many bristle at their intransigence, their stubbornness, their adherence to outmoded dogma that is no longer supported by the facts? How many of you have a feeling of hopelessness about their conduct?

We watch incredulously as they appear on our media to announce their intentions, to denounce their opponents, to avoid answering questions, or simply to gain exposure. And they do this seemingly oblivious of the palpable disregard the electorate has for them, and the scorn that voters heap upon them every day. They often refer to ‘the Canberra bubble’, as if somehow it is occupied by others, not themselves. Yet it is they who exhibit the behaviour we might expect of those disconnected from the daily reality of ordinary folk.

Take the recent conference called by PM Morrison to discuss the present severe drought. Its object was laudable and the timing appropriate. It offered the opportunity to review the factors that are creating the unprecedented drought conditions we are enduring, to reflect on what the future might hold, and to consider how we might better prepare for future droughts. There was an elephant in the room though – climate change. Being a central issue, it ought to have been the focal point of the discussion. But the proponents could scarcely mouth the words. Pressed by journalists, Morrison turned on his usual loquaciousness, ducking and weaving to avoid the connection between the drought and climate change. The words eventually tumbled out, diluted in a torrent of obfuscation.

The only explanation I can give is that his, and the Coalition’s denial of the reality of global warming, creates a dissonance that renders words such as ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ verboten. Like an ecclesiastic being forced to utter blasphemy, to use obscenities, or to denounce long-held and cherished beliefs, Morrison is so repulsed by these words that they struggle excruciatingly to escape his lips.

How can we ever hope for a rational approach to the enduring and recurrent problem of drought when a major factor in its genesis is shunted onto a back road because of ideological roadblocks?

In recent weeks there has been a number of authoritative reports from reputable scientific bodies, not only documenting the reality of increasing greenhouse emissions, but also the extent of steady rises in global temperature, in sea levels, and in ocean acidification, which have already occurred and will continue to do so. Yet these reports have been ridiculed by the so-called Environment Minister, Melissa Price, and ignored by the Coalition and the PM. The message seems too indigestible for them to stomach. So wedded are they to coal, that they cannot bring themselves to contemplate a world without coal-powered electricity generators. The fact that renewables are overtaking fossil fuels economically, and will soon replace them, seems impossible for them to accept. Entrenched beliefs block their thinking and distort their reasoning. They behave like clerics wedded to their catechisms, chanting them mindlessly. All the while industry cries out for a coherent climate policy, and a previous Liberal leader, John Hewson, insists that it’s irresponsible not to have one.

What hope is there that change can ever take place?

When Kerryn Phelps won the Wentworth by-election, she said it was “a victory for democracy”, and signalled “a return of decency, integrity and humanity to the Australian government”. Laudably, she imagined a change in the behaviour of politicians towards what we expect of them. But what hope is there?

Writing in The Conversation, Clare Wright, Associate Professor of History at La Trobe University, said: ”As well as taking a progressive stand on social issues, Phelps vowed to represent all those who were disgusted by the internal brawling and destructive power plays of Australia’s elected officials.” She continued: ”One commentator rejoiced that people who were ‘tired of the spineless and incompetent politicians who are intent on destroying the joint’, were finally getting their moment in the sun.”

But it will take all of Phelps’ considerable skill and persuasion to dent the intransigence of PM Morrison and his party members on the subject of global warming. They are wedded to fossil fuels as ‘part of the mix’ of sources of energy, no matter how much damage they continue to inflict on the environment.

PM Morrison and the Coalition are permanently shackled by their climate change ideology.

The Coalition’s entrenched beliefs don’t stop with climate change. They contaminate every discussion of refugee policy.

There is rapidly gathering momentum in the electorate towards bringing to Australia the residual refugees on Nauru. It will prove to be irresistible. The government will have its hand forced.

Morrison’s though is still choking on what to do with them when they return. The New Zealand option, while an obvious solution to sensible voters, is anathema to Morrison, who is gripped with the entrenched belief that such a move would be an invitation to people smugglers to resume business, as they would then be able to bribe people to pay good money to board their boats by promising that they will eventually be able to get to Australia, even if by the circuitous route of a third country, in this case New Zealand. The obvious parallel though – the resettlement of refugees in the US – seems to Morrison not to constitute a rationale for people smugglers to induce people onto their boats. His logic escapes me!

So here is another example of a government and its leader shackled by ideology, petrified that any move to take up New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees will ‘open the floodgates’, encourage people smugglers, and result in flotillas of boats arriving on our shores. The government’s fear is heightened by opinion polls that show that voters overwhelmingly want the Nauru refugees repatriated here, but they still want strong border protection! Morrison and his immigration people simply don’t know how to achieve both. They have created the desire in the electorate for ‘strong border protection’ with all their exaggerated talk about hordes of refugees invading our shores in waves of Indonesian fishing boats. Now they have to deal with the feelings among voters that they themselves have shaped with their menacing rhetoric. They simply don’t know how!

We are left disillusioned and feeling hopeless because our government is so shackled by ideology that it can scarcely move, so immobilized by fear of contravening its entrenched beliefs that it cannot solve our nation’s problems, so sterile of ideas that it cannot think clearly, plan strategically, or put into action the changes the nation desperately desires and needs.

Is it any wonder voters despair?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Murdoch strikes at democracy

By Stephen Fitzgerald

The first German chancellor, Otto von Bismarck, said there were two sights the public should not see: The making of laws and the making of sausages. To this list of enduringly nauseating spectacles we should add one more: The political machinations of media moguls. It’s called “one-sided censorship.” So, it only goes half way towards removing freedom of speech but, it goes all the way to undermining democracy.

The headlines read: “Murdoch press a threat to democracy: Cameron”. Senator Cameron said he would take a motion to Labor caucus seeking to widen the existing inquiry into the media to look specifically at News Limited’s “absolute hatred” of Labor.

Going after Labor leaders is one of Rupert’s favourite pastimes. Rather than hunting lions in Africa or tigers on the Punjab – That’s way too dangerous and way too hard and goes nowhere towards right wing corporate control and exploitation of society.

As an example, the response from the average bucko in the street is that Bill Shorten is an idiot. Oh really, on what do you base that powerful observation? The response is always the same – “Because he is.” Whereas, the truth would be: “Because Rupert Murdoch told me so.” It only takes a little tiny bit of observation to work out who the idiots are in politics and, it’s not Bill Shorten, as the polls are now showing.

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd launched an incendiary attack on Tony Abbott and News Corp executive chairman Rupert Murdoch, who he claims have undermined Australian democracy and contributed to the “orgy of political violence” that led to Malcolm Turnbull’s ousting.

Murdoch blew in to take a swipe at Turnbull for being too conservative and usher in the extreme right wing of the LNP. Right-wing media have given a megaphone to reactionary forces in the Liberal Party. ABC political editor Andrew Probyn outlined what look like the very plausible entrails of the evident involvement of Rupert Murdoch in the recent Liberal Party leadership spill.

I vaguely remember, somewhere back, Turnbull having a go at Murdoch. Now, would Murdoch really be that vindictive, that he would make a concerted effort, to get rid of our elected Prime Minister, because Malcolm wouldn’t play ball?  Yes, it’s diabolical.

In the U.S. the headlines read: “Corruption? Is Rupert Murdoch Hacking our Democracy?” Reagan exempted Murdoch from foreign ownership rules and eliminated the “Fairness Doctrine.” Rupert Murdoch then became the propaganda recruit for Reagan. A Reagan bitch or, was it the other way around?

Rupert Murdoch bought the Rockefeller mansion in New York for $44 million in cash. The fact that the house used to belong to a Rockefeller shows that Murdoch understands his spiritual ancestors and his role in the world. Every era needs an evil, heartless elitist it can blame its problems on and Rupert foots the bill for the James Bond villain.

If there’s one man in the world who might ever possibly build a device to control the weather and freeze us all unless the governments of the world pay him several hundred billion dollars and recognize Fox News’s copyright of the phrase “Fair and Balanced,” it would be Rupert.

The man has amassed a giant fortune and news empire through consistently pandering to the lowest common denominator and relentless shock journalism, in true William Randolph Hearst fashion. He got big in Britain by putting topless girls on page three of The Sun and the Daily Mirror. If you recall, he was unable to use this tactic in the U.S. They are not so easily titillated so he had to latch on to stuff like the non-existent killer bee threat to get a foothold.

Of course, he also owns the Fox networks, which have given the world some great TV shows, but mostly tasteless sitcoms and horrible reality shows about gold-digging idiot whores. And then there’s Fox News. Rupert must have gotten up one day and said, “I don’t like Labor, so I’m going to start my own news channel where I can hang shit on them all day. Excellent. It’s not really the politics of Fox News that are entirely objectionable as much as Murdoch’s ability to start up his own blatantly obvious propaganda news network.

With all the talk about evil corporations around today, and yesterday, even those clowns at Enron and the drop kicks on Wall Street couldn’t compete with a good old-fashioned robber baron like Murdoch. He’s a super-rich, selflish jerk who doesn’t even attempt to hide it. The only constant for Murdoch is power, money and self-interest.

“Thanks, Rupert. What, you don’t have enough already! You feel the need to suck the life out of society along with the rest of your parasitic cronies. We have independent and social media now and we see straight through you. Leave our democracy alone or we will switch you off.”

‘Click,’ Murdoch’s gone. It’s that easy.

The Demtel Man

Those who remember free to air television in the 80s and 90s will remember the advertising for ‘as seen on TV’ products marketed by a company called Demtel. A quick Google search will remind you of the process if you are fortunate enough to have either not lived through the era, only watched Channel 2 (the only ABC Channel in those long-gone days) or have completely and probably mercifully forgotten how annoying the advertising really was. Alternately, watch one of the TV shopping channels that infest digital television for ten minutes and think about how much they would have to speed up the delivery if they had to fit the product advertising into a minute or so long spot on one of the commercial television stations.

Demtel’s favourite ‘spruiker’ was Tim Shaw. He is famous enough to have a Wikipedia stub article. While the time-worn joke ‘but wait there’s more — ring in the next ten minutes and receive a free set of steak knives’ probably had its origins in a Demtel advertisement spruiked by Shaw, the promise of gold bullion or fame and riches beyond compare as the ‘free extra’ is probably an exaggeration. However, Shaw did attempt to sell the proverbial ice to Eskimos (with the previously mentioned steak knives as a free gift) with some initial success.

A bit like Scott Morrison really. Morrison has made a lot of announcements since his rise to the Prime Ministership. It’s almost looking like he’s back in the advertising agency brainstorming slogans to get the mug punter to buy the pretty shiny new toy they neither want or need. Former Liberal Party Leader (and co-incidentally also a former Member for Wentworth) John Hewson recently wrote an opinion article for Fairfax listing Morrison’s various policy announcements/backflips during the Wentworth by-election.

the lingering image of him hugging a lump of coal; his defence of advertising on the sails of the Opera House, wanting to see not just horse racing but also car racing; his mishandling of the issues of funding and independence of the ABC generated by the dismissal of chief executive Michelle Guthrie; his multiple positions on the treatment of gay students and teachers; the white supremacist/neo-Nazi parliamentary vote; announcing the possible shift of our embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (even after most devout Jews in the electorate would have already pre-voted, to avoid having to do so on the Sabbath); the possible rejuvenation of a New Zealand deal on refugee resettlement; and then, finally, the assertion that a Kerryn Phelps win meant “instability”, conveniently ignoring the instability in his own party that had resulted in the byelection in the first place.

Fortunately, it seems others with some influence aren’t buying the slogans either. A group who manages substantial Qantas shareholdings have asked the company to review its policy of transporting refugees and asylum seekers at the behest of the Australian Government citing

Qantas is “exposed to certain human rights-related risks”.

“Allegations of human rights abuses can inflict, at a minimum, reputational damage and may dramatically affect shareholder value … We believe that a thorough review of how this issue is being handled would be in the best interests of shareholders.”

Shareholders of Whitehaven Coal are likewise concerned about climate change, possibly moving a resolution at the Annual General Meeting in the next few weeks that

calls on the company to disclose climate change-related risks to shareholders, in line with recommendations of the Financial Stability Board’s taskforce on climate-related financial disclosures.

Another proposal says that shareholders call on the board to make strategy and capital expenditure decisions “consistent with the climate goals of the Paris agreement” in order to safeguard the longer-term success of the company and respond to risks and opportunities posed by climate change.

The same article also reports that the rail transport company Aurizon acknowledged at their Annual General Meeting that parts of their rail network may be stranded assets at some point in the next 50 years due to reduced demand for coal.

Even Hewson has a problem with Morrison’s lack of real management ability. From the same article as above

Morrison’s only hope is a new beginning. He will surely last until the next election, so he should seize the opportunity by leading a complete policy reset, a complete repositioning of the Coalition. Not just a remarketing exercise, but a substantive reset, addressing issues such as climate, refugees, integrity in government, the cost of living and broad-based tax reform. Policy boldness would be his electoral friend. He simply must be seen to be attending to the health of the government horse, putting other potential jockeys in their place.

I doubt he is capable of even thinking about this. I fear he will continue to slide from bad to worse. The COAG energy ministers are to meet this Friday. Energy is mostly a state responsibility, the Commonwealth having only a limited platform for influence. Yet, apparently Energy Minister Angus Taylor is attempting to heavy them to ditch anything to do with emission reduction strategies and an effective transition to renewables in favour of his “socialist” regulation of the “gentailers”. In the hope of a genuine energy/climate action plan, the states must stand their ground.

Morrison doesn’t have a quality product to sell and while there are always those that will fall for the fancy new thing regardless of its actual usefulness or quality, as people realise they are getting poor value for their money, they’ll move on. Morrison has been in power for a couple of months and there has been no improvement in the polls, continual criticism of his actions by his own side of politics and amazement that he still can’t articulate why Turnbull was so bad he had to go (while continuing to implement Turnbull’s policy settings).

Maybe we should go back to Demtel to see how this ends. Tim Shaw is now the breakfast announcer of Canberra’s ‘talk radio’ station (which also relays Alan Jones and Ray Hadley) while the company owner spent nearly five years in jail for money laundering. ‘But wait- there’s more’ indeed.

What do you think?

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Morrison’s Bell

By Barddylbach

So I’m thinking about kids on Nauru, global warming, the recent by-election and our idiot politicians who dish out cruelty like Smarties, smirk and think they’re smart. 

“No party seizes the imagination of the people unless the people know the party stands for certain things. And we’ll fight for those things until the bell rings” (Robert Menzies, c.1944).

Alas, today what the Liberals stand for and what they do are two different things, and both are very different from what Robert Menzies stood for and did all those years ago. He must be turning in his grave today.

Alas, Morrison’s ‘Until The Bell Rings’ (6 September 2018) speech in Albury was (still is) hogwash, full of holes, a sieve, a drain pipe, a sewer; and yes you can call it hypocrisy and sophistry, but hogwash will do. Morrison’s bell is already ringing after just a few weeks since the serpent crept in pretending to be Christian and a family man, a community man, an honest Australian.

That smug smirk, so this is his creed, believe what you will, but it’s not worth the paper it’s written on, not when you hold up a lump of coal in Parliament, mock and grin and hold the nation to ransom on behalf of the coal mining lobby, big banks, no energy policy and total contempt for climate change and global warming.

Not when you refuse to release children and their families dying from suicide and Resignation Syndrome, from false imprisonment, torture and access to basic medical health care offshore for five years with no hope in sight, can you claim the values and beliefs he claims to uphold in this ‘Until the Bell Rings’ speech. Menzies would be turning in his grave.

And when the world is held upside down and out to dry, besmirched and lost, tachyons glowing by the Morrison-Dutton Liberals; when our children’s children cry out in their anger and their shame on a dying world, Scott Morrison is the man who should have resigned – ‘Morrison’s bell, a treasurer’s creed’ and here’s my poem (below).

Yes, Australia, we should all be ashamed – road to damnation. And still Morrison ‘the original architect of a system that brought about the torture, the deaths in detention, both physical and mental, is holding firm’, still he lies to us telling us he has been slowly-quietly getting them out of detention, (that was Howard’s secret recalcitrant and grumbly way a long time ago before the current misguided regime). Dutton and Morrison’s Border Force and Department of Home Affairs, their wretched excuse for a government are still being mindlessly dragged through the Federal Courts over and over again to the point Dutton now seeks to overturn the Law of this Land, contesting the Judicial system’s jurisdiction, our constitution, separation of powers, the very fabric of society that protects us all – and Morrison lets him.

The bells are ringing loud and clear on our streets, (and Menzies words here to haunt us). Yes, it has taken many years for the Australian public to recognise this evil. It’s not too late for Australia to act, but too late to save our souls – dammed already, should have thought about that before locking up innocent children and refugees in the first place all those years ago, destroying their lives, ignoring the Rule of Law and International Law, ignoring our own duty and responsibility to justice, morality and fair go. What hypocrites we are! But certainly no reason for us to maintain the same direction, for to do so will destroy our own way of life, our children’s and our children’s children, not just the children on Nauru who reached out for our help while we continue to torture them and their families.

‘Kids off Nauru’

Morrison’s Bell – A Treasurer’s Creed

It was not the Pacific,
it was not the Great Barrier Reef,
it was not the Indue cashless welfare scam,
Baghdad or Jerusalem.

We know it was not the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia,
it was not control of the press, ABC
or the government lotto giveaway
to Adani and the mighty corporation.

It was not that banks could rip the hearts out
of every working Australian
or silence the majority,
the war on security,
freedom of speech,
privacy, the right to earn a decent living.

Abbott, Turnbull, Dutton, Morrison,
there were many others,
no greater lie than denial of humanity,
we missed that boat.

We all thought it was Islam, global warming,
refugees and over population,
violence is an offshore, off-world thing,
Nauru, the innocence of
little migrant children,
coal and original sin.

The drought,
the floods
they rage
and I shall not resign

It was not a Ring of Fire,
the total destruction of democracy,
the planet and our oceans,
the Trump and Putin smirk,
China, DMZ or North Korea.

But as I live and breathe
it was the loss of Wentworth,
the feast of Pentecost,
and our beloved country.

The storms,
the fire
they rage
and I shall not resign.

It was a Mexican standoff,
I missed the apology,
the final solution
I spun the world around
and turned it off,
tachyons glowing,
I hung it upside down
besmirched, and lost.

The children,
our children’s children,
they rage
and I,
I shall not resign.



Poem: Morrison’s Bell – A Treasurer’s Creed by Barddylbach, 25 October 2018 www.allpoetry.com/poem/14159662-Morrisons-Bell

Cartoon: For Whom the Wentworth Tolls by David Pope – via Twitter 20 October, 2018 https://twitter.com/davpope/status/1053562389323530240. (David Pope is editorial cartoonist for the Canberra Times).


What Goes Around, Comes Around by John Kelly (News & Politics) – The AIM Network, 28 October https://theaimn.com/what-goes-around-comes-around

Was Wentworth unworthy of the Liberals? by Jack Waterford – The Canberra Times, 27 October 2018 https://www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/was-wentworth-unworthy-of-the-liberals-20181026-p50c31.html

Dutton’s department challenges federal court’s authority to order Nauru transfers – The Guardian Australia, 26 October 2018 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/26/duttons-department-challenges-federal-courts-authority-to-order-nauru-transfers

The children, the children! by George Theodoridis (Social Justice) – The AIM Network, 26 October 2018 https://theaimn.com/the-children-the-children/

Claimed emissions reduction from land use are very doubtful and must be verified by Kaye Lee (News & Politics) – The AIM Network, 26 October 2018 https://theaimn.com/claimed-emissions-reduction-from-land-use-are-very-doubtful-and-must-be-verified

A Message to the World – Hashem Al-Ghaili, 11 October 2018 (FB)https://www.facebook.com/ScienceNaturePage/videos/2441190252565502/

The Saudi Arabian Model: Blueprints for Murder and Purchasing Arms by Binoy Kampmark (News & Politics) – The AIM Network, 26 October 2018https://theaimn.com/the-saudi-arabian-model-blueprints-for-murder-and-purchasing-arms

Labor says banking inquiry failed to expose how legal system used to crush customers: Labor’s banking royal commission submission says Australians being forced into ruthless court processes – The Guardian Australia, 26 October 2018www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2018/oct/26/labor-says-banking-inquiry-failed-to-expose-how-legal-system-used-to-crush-customers

Even for Trump, There Is Such a Thing as Too Far by Matt Barreto – The New York Times, 24 October 2018 https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/24/opinion/trump-caravan-immigration-midterms.html

‘I Call ‘Pigsh*t!: Helen Razer On The ‘Historic’ Wentworth Win – New Matilda, 22 October 2018  https://newmatilda.com/2018/10/22/call-pigsht-helen-razer-historic-wentworth-win/

We May Have Escaped Prime Minister Dutton, But Scott Morrison Is Also Pretty Shit by Sam Langford – Junkee, 24 August 2018 https://junkee.com/scott-morrison-sucks/172890

Until The Bell Rings – Speech By Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Albury, 6 September 2018 https://www.pm.gov.au/media/until-bell-rings-address-menzies-research-centre

What is resignation syndrome? The condition is spreading among children on Nauru – The Economist, 24 October 2018  https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2018/10/24/what-is-resignation-syndrome

Resignation Syndrome – YouTube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?


Well done, Tony – now you’ve destroyed the Coalition

By Ad astra

He’s been this way for years. Like a kid playing a violent video game such as Call Of Duty, he has aimed his high-powered rocket at his opponents, forcing them to duck or blowing them to smithereens, destroying them utterly. And then he claps his little hands in delight. Destructiveness has consistently been his modus operandi. He has no equal in Australian political history.

When looking for a scapegoat for the Wentworth by-election catastrophe, several columnists targetted Peter Dutton as the culprit. Bad a result as it was, they canvassed how much worse it would have been if Dutton had succeeded in wresting the prime ministership from Malcolm Turnbull. Of course their proposition was valid. But it missed the point. It was not Peter Dutton who conceived the coup – it was the master of destruction, Tony Abbott. Dutton was simply a compliant proxy for Abbott in his quest to utterly destroy his nemesis, Malcolm Turnbull. I suppose we are fortunate that Dutton’s mates didn’t understand simple arithmetic – they couldn’t count. I suppose we should be grateful that doing simple sums eluded them. Otherwise, it may have been PM Dutton at the by-election urging voters to vote Liberal!

Destructive Tony was delighted when Malcolm Turnbull was upended on 24 August. Although his dream was always that he would replace Turnbull and assume the leadership that was taken from him on 15 September 2015 so abruptly, so indecently, so disrespectfully, even his over-inflated ego could not fully accommodate that eventuality. But if he couldn’t be PM again, if he could at least dislodge Turnbull, that would be an acceptable bonus.

Abbott’s destructiveness goes back a long way. As Kevin Rudd said in his recent interview with Jon Faine on ABC Melbourne radio about his new book: The PM Years”Ninety-nine percent of Abbott’s political life has been about destroying things.”

During his university days he smashed a glass door when he lost an election. He threatened a female opponent. At Oxford, where as a Rhodes Scholar he won a university blue in boxing, he said that smashing a bloodied opponent to the canvas gave him great delight.

Jumping to his parliamentary days, think back just a few years. Remember how he verballed Julia Gillard over and again until she came back at him with the full force of her angry rhetoric in her famous ‘misogyny speech’, which attracted worldwide acclamation.

When he couldn’t destroy her with his oratory, he set about destroying her policies. Peta Credlin, Abbott’s Chief of Staff, admittedthat the climate change policy promoted by Julia Gillard was never a carbon tax; he simply used that label ”to stir up brutal retail politics…Abbott made it a ‘carbon tax’ and a fight about the hip pocket rather than the environment, and it took him only six months to cut through and when he did, Gillard was gone. ” Who will ever forget ‘Axe the Tax’? This climate policy – a price on carbon pollution – was, and still is, central to reducing carbon emissions. Abbott destroyed it, and much of Julia Gillard’s reputation with it.

Abbott extended his destructiveness to demolish other policies, notably the mining tax. He cast himself as the nation’s saviour, putting the tax on mining super-profits at the centre of the his campaign to win the election, pledging to wind it back if he won government.

His three word slogans became a hallmark of his campaign: ‘axe the tax’, was joined to ‘stop the boats’, ‘repay the debt’, and ‘stop the waste’. In these trios, Abbott was able to put his destructiveness in a nutshell. Each carried a punishing condemnation of Labor’s policies, and by implication Abbott’s remedy. The electorate embraced these easy-to-remember slogans. ‘Stop the boats’ remains a powerful slogan even today.

Unable to topple Labor in 2010, the election resulted in a hung parliament. Abbott was incensed that Julia Gillard outmanoeuvred him to obtain the support of two rural independents, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott, who, with a Green and another independent enabled her to govern successfully for the next three years, passing around six hundred pieces of legislation. Abbott’s anger was palpable, his desire to destroy her unabated. His sexist language continued, climaxing in her ‘misogyny speech’ in October 2010.

Abbott eventually grasped the prize in 2013 when the Coalition won and he became PM. His destructiveness continued.

Not satisfied with his victory, Abbott continued his campaign of destruction as he attacked Labor policies relentlessly. His retaliatory 2014 budget, one that he and Joe Hockey fashioned, was designed to hurt those on welfare, and punish Hockey’s ‘leaners’. It is still regarded as the most punitive budget in recent times. It was widely condemned by economists and progressives. Yet Abbott revelled in its destructiveness.

But as Abbott continued on his destructive path, he failed to look over his shoulder to see that Malcolm Turnbull had his measure, until that fateful day, 15 September 2015, when Turnbull challenged him for the Liberal leadership, and won. Abbott’s upending of Turnbull in December 2009 by one vote over Turnbull’s support for an ETS, was avenged. Abbott was forced onto the backbench, where he vowed there would be ”no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping.” The promise was hollow; Abbott continued with his unrelenting destructiveness. His prime aim was to destroy Malcolm Turnbull, no matter what the cost to his party.

So it came to pass that Abbott and his conservative mates were able to persuade the party room that Turnbull could not lead them to an election victory, and therefore had to be replaced. Abbott realized that he was unlikely to be chosen as Turnbull’s successor, so he worked on Peter Dutton’s over-inflated ego long enough to persuade him that he was ’a better man’ to lead the party to victory. Once Turnbull threw down the gauntlet, Dutton’s innumerate colleagues began to do their sums, but managed to get their numbers so wrong that Dutton lost to Scott Morrison, who unexpectedly came through the centre of the field to win the race. But although Dutton failed, Abbott was delighted – he had at last destroyed his nemesis.

But in the process, aided and abetted by the party’s conservative dinosaurs, Abbott had destroyed the Coalition. Perhaps he didn’t see it coming, so hell bent was he destroying Turnbull.

The result of his destructiveness is writ large in the outcome of the Wentworth by-election. Although there were many factors that led to this disastrous result for the Coalition, there is no escaping the naked truth that behind this calamity was the phantom of the nation’s most destructive politician, Anthony John Abbott.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Through the looking glass darkly

By Henry Johnston

October 2019. The Australian Labor Party is the government of Australia holding a whopping majority in the lower house, but it must deal with a pesky senate.

Bill Shorten’s government develops into an effective technocracy. The Federation of Australian States is positive about the carve-up of the GST. Victoria and New South Wales are in the Labor fold. House prices continue to tumble. A stimulus package is mooted courtesy of a fulsome budget crafted by Treasurer Chris Bowen. Wages rise.

Kevin Rudd is short odds to be the next Secretary General of the United Nations. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is gravely ill. Rupert Murdoch is dead. Brexit negotiations continue. Elizabeth Warren announces she will contest the 2020 U.S. elections for the Democrats and Elon Musk reveals a breakthrough in cheap, hydrogen energy.

Back home Prime Minister Shorten enlists Paul Keating as spokesperson for the looming referendum on an Australian Republic. Julia Gillard is the firm favourite to be the nation’s first president. Royalists are outraged. Alan Jones collapses on-air from apoplexy on the day Anthony Albanese turns the first sod on a national very fast rail service.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern hosts high-level talks with Foreign Minister Penny Wong. It seems there are ructions about some of the refugees resettled in New Zealand. Peter Hartcher opines in the Western Sydney Morning Herald it has something to do with the large number of Kiwis deported to New Zealand from Australia.

The drought worsens. Oil prices fluctuate. Wall Street is about to crash. Global warming continues.

Parliamentary debate, especially Question Time, is quiet, almost cordial. A large cohort of independents sit in the lower house.

A split looms in the Liberal Party. At the behest of the former Member for Warringah Tony Abbott, Gerard Henderson joins John Roskam writing A Manifesto for Renewal. Meanwhile Malcolm Turnbull enlists Peter van Onselen to craft A Conservative Dialectic: Finding Menzies’ Forgotten People.

Paul Kelly writes a two-volume history of The United Australia Party, and a descendant of Archie Galbraith Cameron becomes leader of the National Party, now arguing to maintain its status as a legitimate political entity.

Near Mt Isa a geologist-cum prospector uncovers an enormous seam of scandium and yttrium also known as Rare Earth Elements. Clive Palmer lodges an Intent-to-Mine document with the Queensland Government. The Australian Financial Review describes the discovery as ‘the next great mining boom of the north,’ and predicts domestic high-tech industries will expand.

Elon Musk meets with Prime Minister Shorten who kicks off a national debate about reviving the Australian car industry by building Tesla electric cars in South Australia and Victoria. China lodges a protest with the World Trade Organisation.

Barnaby Joyce threatens to retire as the Member for New England if a local Aboriginal land council continues to lobby to change the name of his Federal seat to Anaiwan.

Senator Pat Dodson is set to chair a national discussion in Old Parliament House Canberra to define Australia’s first Makarrata.

Sky News announces the Liberal split is underway.

Footnote: An incomplete snapshot of political party splits. The United Australia Party (UAP) forms as a new conservative alliance in 1931 with Labor defector Joseph Lyons, its leader. In 1939 Robert Menzies becomes prime minister as war looms. Menzies resigns as leader of a minority World War II government, amidst an unworkable parliamentary majority. The UAP led by Billy Hughes, disintegrates after defeat in the 1943 election. Menzies calls a conference of conservative parties and other groups, opposed to the Australian Labor Party. From 1942 onwards, Menzies maintains his public profile via an ABC radio series entitled, The Forgotten People.

During the 1954 federal election, Labor receives more than half the popular vote and wins 57 seats to the Coalition’s 64. Two key political players emerge; B.A. Santamaria and H.V. Evatt. In the subsequent election, the newly formed Democratic Labor Party directs its supporters to give their electoral preferences to the Liberals, ahead of the ALP. In 1961 and 1969 Labor wins a majority of the two-party vote, but DLP preferences result in Labor coming up short of the Coalition’s hold on government. The DLP still exists.

Tony Abbott describes B.A. Santamaria as his formative political hero. Herbert Vere ‘Doc’ or Bert Evatt serves as the third president of the United Nations General Assembly from 1948 to 1949 and helps draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Henry Johnston is a Sydney-based author. His latest book The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale at Brays Bookshop in Balmain and at Forty South Publishing.

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