Remembering when Good Friday became Bad Friday

By Shamindan Kanapathi I write this, wishing you all a very happy Easter.…

Adding to Suffering: Typhoid Fever in Hillside Camp

By Shamindan Kanapathi  A few weeks ago, I wrote of how the food…

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Remembering when Good Friday became Bad Friday

By Shamindan Kanapathi 

I write this, wishing you all a very happy Easter. We, in Manus, send our love and prayers to all of the people around the world and especially our beloved families and friends in Australia. May God bless all of us by fulfilling our hopes and dreams.

This is the 6th Easter we are celebrating since we were forcibly transferred from Australia to Manus Island. Every Easter I have said to myself that next Easter will be happier, and I’ll be free. But here I am, still on Manus, still desperately waiting for my release and freedom. Yes, waiting through another Easter, the same as the Easter when we experienced the PNG Navy shooting towards us.

In 2017 Good Friday became a bad Friday for us. It was a day filled with fear, trauma and powerlessness as the PNG Navy shot at us for about 60 minutes. Highly sophisticated guns were used. We had no protection. We were left imprisoned and abandoned. We didn’t know what to do, where to go or from whom to seek safety. Instead of the security guards protecting us they ran away from us and hid.

The former Immigration Minister, now Minister for Home Affairs, Peter Dutton, publicly accused us of creating this situation, saying that it was our fault that the shooting happened. But like many times before, we had done nothing wrong. Mr Dutton’s power and use of words that represent us as criminals or terrorists seemed to produce enough doubt in much of the Australian people’s minds so that these terrifying criminal acts against us were not seen as serious, or even as acts of crime against human beings. Minister Dutton euthanised out any truth. Instead of enquiries and investigations he accused the victims of this tragedy. His explanation and the stories created about this terrible day were the actions of an irresponsible man without any integrity. The PNG police commander for Manus Province, however, denied Dutton’s allegations and stood by justice.

Having survived this shooting of 2017, we realised that again we were just lucky enough to be alive. We fled our family and home country to escape being tortured, persecuted and eventually killed but here we were experiencing the same treatment.  It’s been almost three years since this tragic violence was visited against us and still, we are here in this remote island with no hope, desperately waiting for our freedom.

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Adding to Suffering: Typhoid Fever in Hillside Camp

By Shamindan Kanapathi  

A few weeks ago, I wrote of how the food ration that the men in Hillside camp receive has been reduced and the quality of the food is considerably less than what is at the lowest scale of acceptable for humans. Not only is the food not nurturing, sometimes obviously dangerous, and the amount not enough, but the men in Hillside camp have not been given adequate sanitation and the toilets are not being cleaned properly.

Now, two men in the Hillside camp on Manus Island have been diagnosed with Typhoid Fever. Poor sanitation, contaminated water and food are some of the main factors responsible for typhoid. Each of these factors are present in Hillside. Unhealthy diets, including uncooked food and reheated food, unclean water, the damaging effects of being detained that affect our immune systems, and the accumulation of toxins in our bodies that have resulted from the unhealthy life-styles forced upon us, make it difficult for us to fight typhoid fever which is easily spread in a prison camp environment.

After the two men were diagnosed with Typhoid fever were flown to Port Moresby. A maintenance team was bought in to clean their rooms with the aim of stopping the virus from spreading. A man who shared the room with one of the infected men was taken to Pacific International Hospital (PIH) Clinic on Manus Island for a medical checkup but was sent back to camp without any medical checkup.

The PIH is contracted by the Australian government and runs a basic, ill-equipped clinic on Manus Island, offering even more inferior health care than was available to us in the past years. This clinic for refugees does not have the capacity to treat sick men. When someone is sick and needs anything other than basic first aid, let alone to be isolated and kept in an intensive care unit, the PIH send the sick man to Lorengau local hospital where there are very limited facilities. The local hospital is overwhelmingly overcrowded, so much so that even one patient adds more pressure and trouble than the local community can hold. To send the sick refugees to Port Moresby where the PIH is, requires various approvals from the authorities. This practice of requiring various approvals of course takes time and can be dangerous, as we have seen with our friend Hamed who died because of the delay by authorities of approvals to move him to a hospital that could treat his infection.

This outbreak of Typhoid fever is worrying us all. The two ill men have been sent to the PIH in Port Moresby, but the local staff need to be given proper medical checkups as do the refugees. Most of the men and staff are not being given enough information on how to prevent this kind of disease from spreading.

Keeping men confined in camps lacking basic hygiene, quality food and depriving them of appropriate medical support can easily lead to this situation. There is an answer to preventing the further spread of such a disease. There is an answer to ending the exacerbation of trauma. It is well over time for the camps to be closed.

On this Easter Good Friday I’m calling the Australian people to call their politicians to account for the ongoing violence against us and to bring an end to this devastating policy enacted by your name.

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Great news about Climate Change

Much has been written about climate change in recent years. There seems to be a belief by some that it is possible to argue both sides of the debate, that both sides have great merit in their positions. What I present here are many attempts to downplay the reality of Climate Change in the mainstream media (MSM) and the way in which that position is an incoherent muddle of misinformation and contradiction. I add some science derived from Tony Eggleton in his book “A short introduction to Climate Change” (Cambridge UP, 2013).

* * * * *

Ian Plimer, “Repeat after me: Carbon dioxide is good for you” (7/8/18).

Plimer emphasises two “fallacies”:

  • human emissions drive global warming
  • future climate can be predicted by computer models.

He goes on to elaborate.

There is no connection between temperature and CO2 emissions, but there is between solar activity and temperature. Climate models over the past 30 years did not predict what actually happened because they assume that CO2 had the pivotal role. Sun and orbit, he says, drive climate change.

Later he asks, “Why should Australia be the only country out of step and aim for an impossible bankrupting reduction of 26% or more of our 2005 CO2 emissions?”

In fact, we might ask why do we reduce any emissions at all if, as he claims, CO2 has nothing to do with climate change?

Giles Auty, in “Rainy Day Notes” (7/12/18), quotes from Plimer’s “Heaven+Earth: Global Warming – The Missing Science”.

“Despite our comfortable materialistic lives in the Western world there are many who ask is this all? They want a meaning to life and yearn for a spiritual life…a new religion has been invented to fulfil this need: extreme environmentalism. It is an urban atheistic religion disconnected from the environment.”

Auty goes on to say:

“The fact that ‘global warming’ caused by human CO2 emissions is a scientifically demonstrable myth has no bearing on the tenacity of beliefs which simply replace earlier forms of primitive or extreme religiosity.”

Tony Abbott has spoken of belief in global warming in terms of sacrificing goats to appease the gods. More recently he has flipped on his demand to leave the Paris Agreement. Not quite so sure now? Just political expediency?

John Howard has said he is an ‘agnostic’ with regard to global warming. He is more certain about his belief in ‘traditional’ methods of creating electricity – by which he no doubt means coal. But the religious word ‘agnostic’ is interesting, the use of coal is primitive – and as PM of Australia he should have had a better access to information. But his “agnosticism” gets in the way – or is it ideology?

Another person who should have had plenty of access to climate change information and who claims to be “agnostic” is Maurice Newman. But then he might have had closer association with actual deniers. He said, April 22, 2014, “…t here is no empirical evidence that man-made CO2, man-made emissions are adding to the temperature on earth. We have not had any measurable increase in temperature on earth in the last 17.5 years… no evidence that CO2 has driven climate change either… because Mother Nature is not complying”.

In Nov 2012, he said:

“When Mother Nature decided in 1980 to change gears from cooler to warmer, a new global warming religion was born…”

Already, we see some contradiction arising – there has been warming, but not now, he says. Newman remains “agnostic”.

On July 3, 2013, Maurice said:

“While CO2 may be a greenhouse gas, it seems that natural forces dominate climate change, not mankind’s emissions. Henrik Svenmark’s Theory of Cosmoclimatology (the role of cosmic rays) might be right”.

So he is willing to believe Svensmark’s catechism, but not the IPPC’s, because Svensmark’s avoids blaming the burning of fossil fuels. Yet there is this concession that “CO2 may be a greenhouse gas”.

But already in Feb, 2012, Svensmark had been “guest author” in a book called “Die kalte Sonne” (The cold sun) which espoused that ‘global warming over the past 150 years is part of a natural cycle  that is characterised primarily by the sun”.

According to some sources (such as Zeit Online) the book contains numerous fallacies… these fallacies include the book’s claims that the Earth has not warmed since 1998, that the Hockey Stick graph was a hoax, that only the sun is to blame for global warming, that the IPPC has manipulated climate science, and that we are entering a period of global cooling due to solar activity”. Newman seems to have bet on the wrong horse. Perhaps he, too, has vested interests (an accusation he levels at IPPC scientists when he said, July 3, 2013, “… the science of human-caused climate change is a smokescreen for vested interests”).

(Source: desmogblog.com and see Eggleton, 2013, pp.34-35 re sun spots and re Svensmark).

For these people, climate change/global warming is merely something you believe in or you don’t. If you believe, they say, it is a primitive religion; if you do not believe, you must be a highly sophisticated scientist – or some such thing.

Another scientist who has criticised the IPCC stance on Climate Change was the late Bob Carter writing in his book “Taxing Air: Facts and Fallacies about Climate Change” (2011). The fatuous title, the cartoons and the Credlin confession that Gillard’s carbon ‘tax’ was not a tax reveal a great deal.

Carter tells us that CO2 is a ‘greenhouse gas’ and Greenhouse gases play a key role on controlling temperature (p 90). But then he goes on to say that the more CO2 there is, the less effective it is. He claims this according to a “projection, using the MODTRAN standard atmospheric model (University of Chicago).

All of which is very interesting because Carter contradicts Plimer on both counts: CO2 as a greenhouse gas and the failures of computer driven climate models.

Another writer on things climate change is Jo Nova at joannenova.com.au: “Townsville flood maps reviewed as more houses go under”.

Nova tells us:

“If we had better climate models, perhaps we might have been able to empty the dam before the downpour instead of during it…

“The local Government Guru must be flummoxed. He (Hallam) even protests they used the ‘Monte Carlo’ risk analysis ‘as recommended in 2012 by experts’. What could possibly go wrong?

“How about basing a $1.5 trillion global industry, agriculture, energy generation and national wealth on models one hundred times more complex which also use a ‘Monte Carlo’ analysis.”

She goes on to recommend a certain “Assessing Climate Change under Uncertainty: a Monte Carlo Approach” by Jeeyoung Park, submitted “in partial fulfilment of the requirement for  the Master of Environmental management degree at Duke University, 2008.

Notice Nova’s use of the word ‘perhaps’ and the snide comment about a Guru expert – and “What could possibly go wrong?” Experts are regarded by deniers as deluded elites(?)

Remember that Plimer said climate change cannot be predicted by computer models. And that carbon dioxide has nothing to do with global warming. He is contradicted by Bob Carter with regard to carbon dioxide and computer modelling. Jo Nova speaks about a ‘one hundred times more powerful computer model to do the job. Note also how her modelling is to rescue a highly profitable economy. Yet Nova has also been very sceptical of computer modelling [Eggleton p. 181].

Perhaps it is the economy which needs to be changed. Perhaps it is the economy which is wrong, not the IPCC science.

The Townsville floods of a year’s rainfall falling in a week is an extraordinary event. Around the world people are seeing weather events of magnitude and power they have never seen before. And as for the Park computer model, “one hundred times more complex’, have we seen it at work at all? And if it is our coal-driven economy is the cause of Anthropogenic Global Warming, is that economy worth saving or are humans bound to find another way?

Graham Lloyd writes that:

“Weather has always been wild: don’t assume it’s part of a trend” as a by-line for his article “Latest forecasts: Climate of fear” (2/9-10/2019).

In the middle of his essay, he quotes Judith Curry as saying to the US house natural resources committee hearing:

“Based on current assessments of the science, man-made climate change is not an existential threat on the timescale of the C21st, even in its most alarming incarnation. If we believe the climate models, any changes in extreme weather events would not be evident until late in the C21st. The greatest impacts will be felt in the C22nd and beyond.

“… extreme damage from recent hurricanes plus billion-dollar losses from floods, droughts and wildfires emphasise the vulnerability of the US to extreme events.”

“Vulnerability”? So that is the problem, not climate change and extreme events per se. She might very well have mentioned Australia as well – and all the world, perhaps?

She goes on: “It’s easy to forget that US extreme weather events were actually worse in the 1930s and 1950s”. This is the old distraction: ”Oh, look over there! Climate change has always happened!”

But has it really? Is there something different about the present global warming? Something about the rate of change – far different from Curry’s predictions of far off consequences? Are we not seeing consequences now?

Later Curry explains we can do nothing, or we can eliminate fossil fuels. She finds both ideas inadequate:

“A third option is to re-imagine the C21st electric power system, with new technologies that improve energy security, reliability and cost while minimising environmental impacts.”

“New technologies”? Unfortunately, if she is not referring to renewables, it is a pipe dream which kicks the problem down the road and offers no solution at all. It is of the Bjorn Lomborg kind which also tells us that climate change is real, that we cannot afford to reduce emissions but we could tackle other priorities such as TB and malaria until some technological solution arises to tackle climate change!

Jennifer Marohasy’s “solution” is: “… rather than existing climate models, which are unable even to predict events such as the Townsville flood even weeks beforehand, climate science should pay more attention to artificial intelligence systems that can include cycles.”

What Marohasy means by “cycles” is not clear, something about understanding “relationships in historical data”. Sounds like pie in the sky wishful thinking that such cycles exist, created in her own mind already without the aid of artificial intelligence. No examples are given, of course. She is merely trying to avoid blaming carbon dioxide as the culprit and instead proposes some arcane blend of cycles, such as orbits, Milankovic cycles, the carbon cycle, the sunspot cycle, Earth rotation, perhaps…anything but carbon dioxide?

What we see is how deniers are not able to compile a coherent denier science about the origins of Climate Change and frequently contradict each other and themselves.

Chris Mitchell: “Finding Facts: the Left often ignores the story to create its own story narrative” (4/2/19)

(And the Murdoch media doesn’t?)

Mitchell says:

“… generally the Left media loves to accuse those dissenting from fashionable views of being stupid…People on social media do it to get ‘likes’ on Twitter and Facebook. But for the thought leaders of the Left it is a deliberate tactic.”

Which explains why the Murdoch media publishes denier nonsense daily to comfort its adherents.

Mitchell goes on to say that Abbott, who

“used to write editorials… former Rhodes Scholar, volunteer lifesaver … (is being regarded as) a poor local member because of his position on climate change”.

Now there we have indeed a bit of ‘identity politics’ and ‘virtue signalling’ (favorite Murdoch phrases). The former PM, known for his poor judgement and sacked by his Party, is criticised for his view of climate change, on which he has recently flipped? Nothing about the lies, the lack of judgement, the wrecking of the NBN … and the sniping and treachery exhibited from the back bench in his bid to be PM again?

Furthermore, Mitchell has the obligatory shot at the ABC:

“The ABC took the cake for moral posturing on Wednesday when the ABC local radio’s Country Hour carried a report saying farmers needed federal subsidies to plant trees on grazing land to provide shade for live- stock… Average temperatures in Australia have risen 0.7 of a degree C since the start of the Twentieth Century”.

The average temperature has risen more than that. Besides, no mention of successive hottest years in the C21st, nor of the years of drought. It is just the ABC’s ‘moral posturing’.

In more recent times, we have seen the failures and falsities of the Coalition’s Green Army program and revelations of massive land clearance in Queensland and NSW. A report in The Conversation (11/3/19), written by a team of authors, tells us that in Queensland in the three years to June 2018, the equivalent of 570,000 Melbourne Cricket Grounds were cleared. That is, 1,138,000 hectares including 284,000 hectares of remnant (old growth) forest.

Tree reduction in parts of eastern Australia has increased surface temperatures by up to 2 degrees C.

In the SW corner of Western Australia only 7% of the natural flora still exist. Only 2% of rain forest still exists on the east coast.

In Tasmania this summer there have been terrible fires, raising fears for the survival of some specific trees, such as pencil pines. Emeritus Professor Aynsley Kellow has said the trees are “fire adapted”. Other scientists say they are not. Why is there this discrepancy?

So we come to Dr Peter Ridd, for example, who has written that coral is the ‘least endangered of any ecosystem to future climate change’.

He also tells us that he ‘raises almost all his research funds from the profits of consultancy work which is usually associated with monitoring of marine dredging operations’. Consequently he reports that the Great Barrier Reef is in fine shape and thrives in heat. As well, silt flowing through the Reef has no bad effects. No conflict of interest there? Who pays the piper?

He has been director of the Australian Environmental Foundation which has promoted the rejection of human-caused climate change since 2005 (desmog.com/peter-ridd).

Meanwhile, as reported on the ABC, scientists at the James Cook University have demonstrated that coral is affected by temperature. One of the scientists went to Hawaii to see how scientists there are breeding hybrid corals to resist heat. Another scientific contradiction.

Environment is referred to in a piece by Bella D’Abrera: “Young eco-warriors not taught about how we power democracy”. A by-line says: “Many teachers and lecturers see themselves as agents of change, not instructors” (15/3/2019). D’Abrera is director of the Foundations of Western Civilisation program at the IPA.

She claims that “From their first day at school until their last they are taught an environmental determinist view of human civilisation…’ and she seizes upon the word ‘sustainability’ in the curriculum that claims ‘humans and the natural environment are interrelated.”

She goes on:

“They are essentially being taught that it is our civilisation, Western Civilisation, that is failing both the Earth and humankind…

“However, few students are taught about the costs that come with climate action…deliberately omitted from their education.”

We recognise here the ideas of Lomborg and those economists who are intent on business-as-usual. It seems to derive from the Biblical idea of humans being given dominion over the Earth. It also reveals why school curriculum Studies of Society and Environment (SOSE) was so vilified by the right-wing media. The environment for them is there to be bought and sold for the benefit of infinite growth and wealth. If there are increases in global warming, it is too expensive to do anything about it and humans must simply endure it to survive.

We might ask, then: What is the cost of cooking the planet? What are the consequences of not acting sufficiently to Climate Change?

So how do all these ideas play out in the thinking of readers of right-wing media? Following are some Letter to the Editor written by readers echoing the articles on Climate Change appearing in the newspaper.

(1) This letter is about CO2 emissions from volcanoes based on a statement from the US Geological Survey in the newspaper. The writer asks: “If the emissions from volcanoes never causes global warming then logic would say that man-made CO2 emissions also never cause global warming”.

Looking at articles published by the Survey, I could not find the quotation referred to. But Climate.gov. response to the question, Which emits more CO2: volcanoes or human activities? says: “In fact, several individual US states emit more CO2 in a year than all the volcanoes on the planet combined do’.

The question raised by the correspondent is very like a question raised by Ian Plimer: “Can you show me how 3% of annual emissions of carbon dioxide, that is the human emissions, drive climate change and the other 97% do not?”

The falsehood is in the question. Eggleton points out: ‘All the CO2 in the atmosphere contributes to the establishment of the basic global temperature level…’ not just some of it [172] That is, a global level of14 degrees C [35]. Plimer refuses to acknowledge that natural CO2 at 280 ppm has maintained that basic global temperature level for at least the past 10,000 years [57]. Many deniers refuse to admit this role for CO2. If volcano CO2 emissions were to match the human emissions, they would have to emit at 30X their current annual rate [155]. Currently, the CO2 level in the atmosphere is 410 ppm, the highest level of carbon dioxide for at least the past 24 million years [177].

“At present the world is warming at the rate of 1 degree C in 60 years; that is, 20 times faster than any previous sustained rate of temperature change [133].

No point in trying to equate past climate changes with the current climate change. They do not equate.

We need to look carefully at figures used in newspapers. The article referred to by the correspondent claims volcanoes emit at the rate of 600 million tonnes per year. Eggleton says 300 million tonnes per year on average [155].

(2) This letter comments on a claim by the CSIRO that “recent warming can only be explained by human interference”. The reply given by the correspondent is that the climate has changed for millennia, but he does not seem to understand that reasons for change are not always the same. The response goes on the say that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is only 0.04% – and this is supposed to be the reason why it could not possibly cause global warming even if it were to be doubled or tripled.

Yet he is happy to claim that 0.04% CO2 is “the gas of life and without it we could not exist.”

That is, it is capable of supporting life on Earth, but like Plimer, the writer refuses to acknowledge the part played by CO2 at 280ppm in also keeping the average Earth temperature at 14 degrees C [35].

(3) This letter attacks the ABC for showing film of ice breaking off into the sea, bushfires, storms and floods. These are events which have occurred before, it is claimed, but there is no explanation about to what degree. (People are saying across the world that they have never seen anything like it.) But he wants the ABC to show how “higher levels of CO2 do not drive up the temperature. In fact, the reverse is true”.

So are we to believe that in fact the Earth is cooling, despite the recent years being the hottest recorded?

The idea of more CO2 having less effect is very much like Carter’s claim. But the CO2 does have an effect as more is emitted into the atmosphere. “Doubling the amount of CO2 or water vapour does not double the heat absorption; fortunately, it increases it by only about 30 percent” [65]. It does increase the heat, not the reverse. It is still a heating effect and not a cooling.

So the writer goes to solar activity and releasing CO2 from the oceans. But if CO2 has nothing to do with global warming, why claim the release of CO2 into the atmosphere? We know that by far the greater influential CO2 is that produced by the burning of fossil fuels. And we can see the extent of that kind of CO2 in the isotopes of carbon found in the atmosphere [155].

If by solar activity the writer is also referring to sunspots, Eggleton tells us: ”…Judith Lean of the US Naval research Laboratory concluded that the 11-year sunspot cycle causes a temperature fluctuation of about 0.1 degree C, and that since 1850 a gradual overall increase in the Sun’s irradiance has added perhaps another 0.1 degree C to the global temperature” [34-35]. Maurice Newman, take note.

(4) This letter asks how Australia can go it alone in influencing the climate. He says we cannot afford it. This is of course the argument of Lomborg and a number of people who are adherents to fossil fuels.

The truth is that we do not have to ‘go it alone’. That is the purpose of agreements such as Paris. It is why we have the United Nations.

But the myopic approach which thinks only of the sovereignty of Australia and its wealth beneath the ground and thinks only of the rest of the world as a market for its coal, is sure to lead to disaster

The big question to ask the author is: What is the cost of not reducing emissions?

Then there is the matter of gas. “Expanding gas mining threatens our climate, water and health” by Melissa Hastwell and David Shearman (The Conversation, 21/3/19) tells us: “Yes, burning gas emits less carbon dioxide than burning coal. Yet the ‘fugitive emissions’ – the methane that escapes, often unmeasured, during production, distribution and combustion of gas – is a much more potent short-term greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide…

“Current gas expansion plans in Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland, where another 2,500 coal seam gas wells have been approved. Harvesting all of WA’s gas reserves would emit more CO2 equivalent than Australia’s total domestic energy-related emissions budget…

“Chemicals found in gas mining wastewater include volatile organic compounds such as benzene, phenols and polyaromatic hydrocarbons, as well as heavy metals, radioactive materials, and endocrine-disruptive substances – compounds that can affect the body’s hormones.”

There are risks to health, climate, water and food security.

Reading such a list of problems reminds us of the details associated with the smoking of tobacco.

So we have numerous individual people and organisations warning us of the dangers of carbon dioxide (and methane) emissions. The IPCC. The Bureau of Meteorology, the CSIRO to name a few. Sir David Attenborough, individual scientists such as Tim Flannery, writers and intellectual such as Judith Wright, Richard Flanagan, John Kinsella and Tim Winton lament the ravages of human activity on the environment. Numerous fine Indigenous writers lament the destruction of country. Even a farm worker poet, John Shaw Neilson (1872-1942) noticed the loss of birdsong as trees were cleared in the Mallee region. Too many to name: poets, politicians, scientists, farmers, journalists, ordinary citizens.

I remember years ago reading the work of William Blake and the ‘dark satanic mills’. And of William Wordsworth’s ‘getting and spending we lay waste our powers’.

More recently, there have been legal judgements made, such as the NSW Land and Environment Court decision blocking the Rocky Hill mine in the Hunter Valley region (Feb, 2019).

Or the US judgement blocking mining in Wyoming for not quantifying climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing.

Naomi Klein and Noam Chomski have written extensively.

The IPPC has written lengthy reports.

So much information and opinion available. Yet the Murdoch media (“For the informed reader”, self-ascribed “Brand of the year”) and other media outlets, as well as independent denier sites, espouse their own home-made thought bubbles or repeat snippets they hear at the bbq or front bar – but have no scientific basis. Too often judgement is blurred by vested interests. And some of those are very rich.

Take for example Rupert Murdoch’s involvement in Genie Energy, which makes claim to fracking shale oil in the Israel-occupied Golan Heights in Syrian territory taken by Israel in 1967. “Covering and distributing news has been my life’s work,” said Mr Murdoch . “If Genie’s effort to develop shale oil is successful, as I believe it will be, then the news we’ll report in the coming decades will reflect a more prosperous, more democratic, and more secure world.” (source: nationofchange.org, 2017/01/15).

Image from nationofchange.org

Yes, yes. Great news for the world! Great news about climate change, great news about fracking for oil in occupied territory.

To finish, a quotation from the essay by Stephen Muecke, Jury Chair of English language and Literature in the School of Humanities at the University of Adelaide, “A fragile civilisation: Collective living on Australian soil” (From the Griffith Review 63, “Writing the Country”, Text Publishing, 2018)

“The country doesn’t know where it came from or where it is going. It still falsely claims that its heritage is white (those more than 50,000-year-old civilisations count for nothing much except tourist revenue), and it is deluded into thinking it continues to profit from an ever-expanding global economy. Certainly, this situation has been developing for half a century, but it is the threat of environmental disasters that has suddenly introduced a weird reversal of time. We can’t rely on past forms any more. Now it is an actually knowable climate-changed future that is crashing back onto the present with an argument that we must make sensible policy changes. It is this that has opened the fault lines of denial in what I want to call our ‘fragile civilisation’ (pp 56-57)

And I have not even mentioned the all-pervasive and destructive presence of plastics, a petro-chemical product.

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Trending Issues: The Call to Action Versus Old School Market Economics

By Denis Bright  

The federal LNP wants the national election to become an ideological auction about the merits of its prescription for market ideology with its unaffordable housing, homelessness and falling real wages.

Ironically, for the professional ideologies in the federal LNP, there is scant attention to trends in private sector investment which should be the forte of outstanding centre-right leaders worldwide.

In the marginal LNP Queensland federal electorate of Capricornia is still a strong supporter of the old economy (Katharine Murphy in The Guardian online 17 April 2019):

One of the Morrison government’s strongest backers of the controversial Adani coal project, Michelle Landry, says the company has attended fundraisers for her re-election campaign, but she doesn’t have a figure on how much has been donated.

Landry, who is the member for Capricornia, told the ABC on Wednesday she was not in control of her campaign finances, so she wasn’t in a position to nominate a specific figure for Adani donations. She said taking financial support from a company trying to secure federal and state backing for the project “certainly doesn’t sway me”.

“My main job is to look after the people of Capricornia, and [the Adani project] is about jobs for the people of Capricornia,” the Queensland MP said.

“I have the biggest coal mining electorate in this nation, and I stand up for my people here and will continue to do that”.

An analysis by the Australian Conservation Foundation of federal and Queensland donations data shows Adani has given the Liberal and National parties $60,800 since the last federal election.

One Nation has received $30,000 from Adani. Labor received $2,200, but later returned the money to the company.

The ACF’s Stop Adani campaigner, Christian Slattery, notes that Queensland has real-time donation disclosure laws, but it can take up to 18 months at the federal level for donations to be made public.

Josh Frydenberg wanted to dazzle the electorate with hopes of a $7.1 billion surplus for the financial year ahead in his budget delivery speech. Then came the welcome distraction posed by Bill Shorten’s response to a reporter’s question about Labor’s long-standing superannuation contribution tax concessions for incomes above $200,000 (ABC News Online 16 April 2019).

This is very old school political debate as apologists for the current market economy wait for the next El Dorado to replace the resources and property market booms while keeping tabs on opposition leaders under pressure without the resources available to a government in office in caretaker mode.

Balanced private sector investment to promote economic diversification is no art-form in current government policies.

Coverage of Investment in the 2019 Budget Speech

Like successive LNP Treasurers, Josh Frydenberg has squandered the opportunity to extend national investment levels by the temptation to offer the most generous tax concessions to its upper middle-income support base (from John Kehoe as Senior Reporter for AFR Online 12 April 2019):

Completely overlooked in the federal LNP’s rhetoric about that Stronger Economy are the languishing trends in private capital expenditure which accounts for 75-80 per cent of all investment in the Australian economy.

In the private sector, investment trends have plateaued since the election of the federal LNP in 2013 with an anomalous improvement in the December Quarter data for 2018-19. This will be the last set of private capital expenditure data to be released before the forthcoming election.

Capital expenditure in the Australian economy has lagged since the federal LNP was narrowly re-elected in 2016 as shown by the plateauing out of the longer-term trend-line of private sector capital expenditure. Only the last December Quarter in the series offered a good seasonally adjusted result due largely to a vast improvement in expenditure on plant and equipment associated with inducements to tax write-offs which commenced in the 2018 budget and were continued this year with bipartisan support.

The federal LNP’s blind-spots on the need for policies to foster economic diversification continues in the budget. Investment was mentioned six times in the budget delivery speech. Each time it was about the need for prudent government investment with overall government spending below 23.9 per cent of GDP to 2029-30.

Amidst all this rhetoric about containing government spending little attention was given to the trend-lines for Australian Capital Expenditure which should be the forte of any conservative government.

Percentage Trend-lines in Australian Private Capital Expenditure

The latest global data from the McKinsey Global Institute (19 January 2019) shows the importance of these new forwardly looking investment strategies for application in a middle-sized economy like ours.

Best practice in the application of the McKinsey Model occurs in the Scandinavian style of social market economies which achieve bipartisan support from the mainstream political parties.

As Australians are not ready to accept such high levels of taxation and government intervention to implement the McKinsey prescription for economic diversification, our future must lie in taxing every opportunity of available investment from the global market economy.

Missed Investment Opportunities: Missed Diversification Options

Missed Opportunities for the Consolidation of Net Capital Inflows to Australia from Asia have not been assisted by the federal LNP’s deference to policy directions from the Trump Administration with its America First focus. This makes Australia a client state in key areas of economic diversification.

Co-operation between Financial Consultants KMPG and the University of Sydney can offer new strategies for a progressive incoming Australian Government with real initiatives to break with the old economic jargon from the federal LNP. The full report from KMPG is available online.

While China is repairing its financial relationships with immediate neighbours like Japan, South Korea and Taiwan its financial relationships with the Indo Pacific Basin are being extended by Belt and Road initiatives in the important areas of higher technology investment and financial services which are crucial to the Australian economy.

Since the election of the Trump Administration the scope of China’s investment outreach has been contained with some assistance locally from investment controls by the federal LNP. Let data contained in the new report assist in explaining the situation:

Fortunately, a reservoir of goodwill exists between China and Australia which cannot be extinguished in just two terms of a federal LNP Government:

Great opportunities are available to continue to diversify Chinese investment away from the strategically safe areas of property investment to potential growth areas like healthcare, infrastructure, renewable energy and IT sectors:

New horizons present themselves for Australia if the federal LNP does not spook the electorate before 18 May 2019 with the quest for the market El Dorado to replace the resources and property boom with a new age of mass consumption for the aspirational side of town in the hope that the benefits of new tax packages might be passed down the line.

Despite the regressive certainty of our federal LNP leaders, a new investment direction is available that is quite mainstream in its assumptions about the opportunities for stabilising change. Like President Roosevelt of old, Bill Shorten can hopefully calm the fear strategies from the LNP’s most eloquent fear strategists to upset the leadership transition after 18 May 2019.

Will theme music be developed for application to Australia’s successful social market transitions at the 2022 elections?

Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is committed to citizens’ journalism by promoting discussion of topical issues from a critical structuralist perspective with support from evidence-based data. Readers are encouraged to continue discussion on the issues raised. Comments from financial, academic and political insiders with access to a better range of resources.

***********************

Some farcical but thrilling road-blocks were encountered in attempts to extend this article through phone calls and emails relating to private sector investment trends.

From the Treasurer’s Media Office Melbourne

Thank you for your email.

 Treasury is best placed to respond to your questions and will do so.

Can everyone conclude that the federal LNP is flying without radar in tracking projected private sector investment trends?  I don’t belief that this is true so let’s wait for the ABS data from future quarters which the mainstream press has chosen to ignore in the past.

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Beyond the Palace Letters

This is a kind of tragic-comic opera – an opera buffa, in many acts and parts, observed by a traveller to Australia who is likely to spend the rest of his life surrounded by an indifferent populace. It is a ‘mob’ – unconcerned about the original and continuing wrong of 1788 and lacking in development because conditioned by, and resigned to, a backward-looking view of life. That view suffers from the subjection to, and dependence on, a foreign authority undesirable for any imaginable reason. It was called ‘The Monarchy’ in a recent medieval pronouncement, written to deny access to some bits of the place’s history: the so-called ‘Palace letters’ (Hocking v. Director-General of the National Archives of Australia [2019] Federal Court of Australia, Full Court 12, 8 February 2019). Not that it matters much to the plebs; for them history pertains to the national religion: sport – from football to just about any physical activity, and even the passive observation thereof – so long as the brain in not engaged. A sense of safety comes from the ‘ruler at home’. But ‘The Monarchy’ is sectarian, parasitic by definition, steeped in privilege, inclined to prejudice, obscenely wealthy, and more than acceptably unhinged. And these are ‘qualities’ to which – except for money – even the furiously moronic machos claim to appear opposed and with which, anyway, they do not like to paint themselves.

Against the receding backdrop of the Royal Ambush of 1975, the opera is filled with criminal banksters, dilettante ‘statesmen’ – though there are some women on the stage, self-proclaimed ‘public women and men’ who perform in pirouettes in clumsy imitation of a foreign custom called ‘parliamentary democracy’, ostensibly as loyal subjects but often in pectore perjurers, while in substance the un-elected, not-responsible  moneybags play the part of substitutes for the lords – as ‘at home’.

It is a bilge of imitation of outdated, decrepit institutions of public life, strongly relying on the passive acceptance of lies, in peace – as well as in war, and a proclivity to commit to war ‘on call’ and frequently. It is an attitude continued with the parroting callisthenics of and in parliament, with the prescribed steps of a baroque and  privileged remoteness of an archaic system of justice, with a decaying public administration, comforted by brain-sucking and sometime criminal-religious organisations, an un-delivering system of education, a pretend-classless society,  and a delinquent system of social assistance which fatally accepts permanent un-employment, badly hidden under-employment, homelessness and generally lack of care from the cradle to the grave – just like ‘at home’.

The main actors are the Philistines who command the submission – they do not worry about respect – of the occasional out-of-tune choir which sings that the hoi polloi are ‘young and free’ in a home ‘girt by sea’.

The opera’s performances evoke the crimes reduced to almost passable and always indifferent words, easily forgotten by the passing of time so that previous mistakes may turn out to be new to new no-nothing generations. Some of the topics dealt with are: a pervasive malpractice, an unctuous attitude to power at the apex of which is ‘The Monarchy’, a tolerance of continuing corporate crimes, a habit (here called cultcher) of vassalage, adventures involving encounters with spying on neighbours, dancing with Saddam, or familiar paso doble steps such as AWB, Iraq, police’s crimes, banksters’ crimes, clergy’s crimes, and so on, down to the recent Invictus Games sponsored by arms manufacturers totally un-caring but for their profits.

The present libretto covers events from at least the beginning of ATM (the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison trio) in early 2013 to the Royal Commission on banksters in 2019.

An indifferent populace has been led for the past six years through three-words banal and demonstrably empty hooplas by slogans such as “climate change = crap”; “jobs and growth”; and – recently – “fair dinkum power”. The latest – one most ardently hopes the last – is the intellectual measure of a cheap marketeer who sees himself as a leader, when he is, in fact, an inferior combination of Arthur Miller’s ‘Willy’ Loman and Sinclair Lewis’ Elmer Gantry.

The ‘Palace Letters’

The misadventures of a banana monarchy and the tragic Opera Buffa of an indifferent Australian populace.

By Dr George Venturini

Prologue

An intending traveller to Australia in the early nineteen-sixties, before departing from Singapore, would have found, in the best provided bookshop-with-bric-à-brac, a little book by the attractive title: The lucky country. It remains the fame-giving work of Donald Horne, a caring Australian essayist and public intellectual.

The traveller would be surprised by observations such as these: “…while ordinary Australians have many fine and some quite exceptional characteristics, the present elites in Australia are mostly second-rate. Many of the nation’s affairs are conducted by racketeers of the mediocre who have risen to authority in a non-competitive community where they are protected in their adaptations of other people’s ideas. … Much energy is wasted in pretending to be stupid. To appear ordinary, just like everybody else, is sometimes a necessary condition for success in Australia. … In this atmosphere cleverness and talent can become devious … What often perishes altogether – in the bureaucracy of business or of government or in the universities and in such intellectual communities as exist – are originality, insight and sensitivity, the creative sources of human activity. In an imitative country no one has to be creative, the creative person is likely to be confronted with distrust – not perhaps in science or the arts, but almost everywhere else. It is as if the masters of Australia have inherited a civilization whose rules they do not understand. … The potential for change within the ordinary people of Australia is great; it is their misfortune that their affairs are controlled by second-rate men who cannot understand the practicality of change, who are, in other words, ‘conformist’.” (D. Horne, The lucky country, Penguin, Australia, 1964 at 39,40,41).

With the title immediately misunderstood, but gladly received in the common parlance, The lucky country was declared dead twelve years after. (D. Horne, Death of the lucky country, Penguin, Australia, 1976).

Horne’s criticism came after a constitutional crisis of revolutionary proportion, which was accompanied by increasing economic difficulties and inflation. And inflation – according to Horne – “demanded explanation. World inflation is not only an economic crisis. It is a cultural crisis and in such a crisis there can be a return to the consolation of old faiths. A large part of Australians’ values are measured in money. Describe our economic life and you describe a large part of our culture.” Id., at 62-63. [Emphasis added]

How could such pessimistic view be justified?

* * * * *

Well, Australians had not seen a Labor government since Curtin-Chifley government. That government had led the country through the years of the second world war, when Australians had been called to defend their country against the threat of a Japanese invasion. It would become the only occasion, one in sixteen, when Australians had not served as White Gurkhas of ‘Great and Powerful Friends’. In 1949 the federal government had returned the Liberal-Country Party; it would last with Robert Gordon Menzies until 1966 and give him, who had sold ‘pig-iron’ to the Japanese rising Empire in 1938 and for that earned the moniker, the opportunity to lie in 1965 to the Australian Parliament and people  over a telegram from the Saigon military junta of Nguyễn Cao Kỳ and Nguyễn Văn Thiệu. Their call for intervention was never found.

In between, Menzies found several occasions in the nineteen-thirties to exalt the Nazi dictatorship, and of hallucinating in the presence of Queen Elizabeth by declaiming during her visit to Parliament House in 1963 that “I did but see her passing by and yet I love her till I die.” followed by the customary, servile applause.

What Menzies did not say is that he was using lines 3 and 4 of the first stanza of Thomas Ford (1580-1648), a fairly obscure, forgotten English poet and lutenist of the seventeenth century.

There is another side of Menzies, less poetic. “There is a good deal of real spiritual quality”, Menzies declared on his return from Germany in 1938, “in the willingness of young Germans to devote themselves to the service and well-being of the state” (S. Macintyre, The succeeding age 1901-1942, Oxford University Press 1986, at 183). And in April 1941, as he was returning from London, leaving behind the fractured dream of replacing Churchill, he lamented that he had a “sick feeling of repugnance and apprehension“ which grew on him as he was nearing Australia and whereby he was wishing  that he could “creep in quietly into the bosom of the family and rest there.” (Menzies Diary, 23 May 1941, quoted in D. Day, Menzies and Churchill at war – A controversial new account of the 1941 struggle for power, Angus & Roberson Publishers, North Ryde, N.S.W.,1986, at 153).

Despite such unambiguous appeals to patriotism, Menzies was giving the Australians of the time what they most still crave: a sense of ‘respectability’ as defined by the conservative parties of the money bags and agrarian socialists and linked to ‘white’ Anglo-Saxon Protestant values. The modern Liberal-National combination still claims a monopoly on ‘loyalty’ – once to Britain and since the nineteen-forties to the United States. For three quarters of the life of Australia the Liberals have tried and mostly succeeded in establishing a monopoly on political ‘legitimacy’. And that has made of the Labor Party some kind of raggedy mob of dilettanti, often to be branded as a troop of clowns who have come to town to make a great noise but would not be tolerate for long. For good measure anyway, the game had been rigged in favour of the ‘divine rulers’. Labor had won an outright majority of votes in the 1954 elections, and a majority of the preferred votes in the 1961 and 1969 elections – but was still unable to obtain a majority of the House of Representatives, where a government – traditionally – is been formed.

Menzies was succeeded by Harold Holt (1966–1967), who during his visit to the United States in June 1966, in a speech at the White House,  departed from the prepared text and enthusiastically declared that Australia would be “all the way with LBJ” in the Vietnam war – sharing in the spreading of some 80 million litres of Agent Orange, a gene damaging chemical defoliant; John McEwen (1967-1968), briefly and un-memorably; John Gorton (198-1971), who in March 1969, toasting President Richard Nixon at the White House, reaffirmed that “… we will go Waltzing Matilda with you.” – for the same criminal function; and, finally, William McMahon (1971-1972), a rudderless joke.

In 1972 there was a surprise. Its name was Edward Gough Whitlam.

Born in Kew, Melbourne, hence from a ‘respectable’ side of the tracks, he was the son of a  federal public servant who would later serve as Commonwealth Crown Solicitor – a man deeply involved in  human rights issues who would exert a powerful influence on his son. Gough was fortunate enough to meet a glorious woman in Margaret, the daughter of Wilfred Robert ‘Bill’ Dovey, a New South Wales Supreme Court judge. That, too, added to ‘respectability’.

Elected to the federal Parliament in 1952 for the Labor Party, Whitlam became deputy leader in 1960 and leader in 1967. The conservatives had been served notice. Here was a man of unquestionable ‘provenance’, with a great education, a powerful erudition, supported by an extraordinary memory for the most minute details, equipped with a ferocious intellect and a tongue to go with it. In and out of Parliament he stood his ground without fear and occasionally without the customary hypocritical forms which characterises the boring etiquette of the Westminster System. It is a system so phoney that it had to steal a word from the French language to define its manners.

So Whitlam thought nothing of calling William Meskill (Bill) Bourke – an informer on the Labor Party of which he was a member and later a collaborator with the party’s enemies at the time of the split in 1955 – “this grizzling Quisling”, of calling Garfield Barwick – who would, while High Court Chief Justice, play a role in Whitlam’s downfall – a “bumptious bastard”, and stating that William Charles ‘Bill’ Wentworth, M.P. exhibited a “hereditary streak of insanity”. After referring to Sir William ‘Billy’ McMahon, the future prime minister he would defeat in 1972, as a “quean”, he was called to apologise. He did so. In time he would quickly find words for his nemesis and the usurper of his prime ministership: he would famously call the beneficiary of the Royal Ambush “Kerr’s cur” and the supporting Garfield a “truculent runt”.

Once in government, in mid-1974 Whitlam had had to face what historian Russel Ward branded as follows: “So in April 1974 Her Majesty’s loyal opposition behaved more like a gang of fascist thugs than responsible politicians in a democratic country.” They forced Whitlam to seek a double dissolution eighteen months before an election should have been necessary (R. Ward’s Concise history of Australia, University of Queensland Press, Brisbane 1992 at 322).

Between 1967 and 1972 Whitlam had conceived, set out and refined the Programme he would submit to the “men and women of Australia” at Blacktown, N.S.W. on 13 November 1972.

The Whitlam Programme contained three broad directives:

  • to promote equality;
  • to involve the people of Australia in the decision-making processes of their land; and
  • to liberate the talents and uplift the horizons of the Australian people.

In government Whitlam articulated those objectives, establishing priorities:

  • to end conscription,
  • to bring the boys back from the criminal adventure which was Vietnam,
  • to reopen diplomatic ties with China,
  • to recognise the independence of Papua New Guinea,
  • to establish the Law Reform Commission,
  • to abolish appeals to the Privy Council,
  • to establish the Legal Aid Office,
  • to establish the Trade Practices Commission,
  • to establish a single Department of Defence,
  • to establish Medibank,
  • to begin the work for the recognition of Indigenous land rights,
  • to set up Telecom and Australia Post from the Postmaster-General Department,
  • to begin to work towards equal pay for women,
  • to abolish tertiary education fees,
  • to raise the age pension to 25 per cent of average male weekly earnings,
  • to introduce no-fault divorce,
  • to see enacted a series of laws outlawing racial and sexual discrimination,
  • to extend maternity leave and benefits to single mothers,
  • to prepare the construction of the National Gallery of Australia,
  • to establish the National Parks and Wildlife Service,
  • to set up the National Film and Television School,
  • to establish the Order of Australia to replace the British Honours system, and
  • to change the national anthem to ‘Advance Australia fair’.

If nothing else, the Whitlam government went into power with a sense of agenda and spent its short terms in office obsessed, perhaps fatally, by its execution. All told, the two-phase governments lasted between December 1972 and November 1975: 35 months and two elections.

Maybe Whitlam had offered too much, and asked too much.

Most Australians – those ‘who matter’ anyway – like the kind of English, passionless muddling through which is available in grand loads ‘at Home’. Muddling through comes as way of life, a cult almost and its religious solemnity is celebrated by looking from below at a grandiosely dysfunctional, decaying, parasitic, over-dated ‘Family’, with its be-medaled males and ‘forever youthful’ women, standing above, from the Palace balcony, for the populace to admire it.

It does not matter that Australians like to make joke of some, perhaps many, members of ‘The Family’ – better: ‘The Firm’.

Muddling through suits Australians, because in the royal world of smoke, mirrors, hints and protocols there is room for authorised doubt. It helps equivocation, non-commitment. Deception? That too.

Whitlam would have, through education free for all, pulled back the curtain on Australian corroded and corrosive political system, which has been rendered inchoate – bland public performances by ‘battery-farm’ politicians alternating with vicious television ads – after the interminable years of cynical massage by consultants and pollsters. This is anyway the story through ‘the tube’, which arrived about sixty years ago, in Menzian time.

There is hardly any difference nowadays between a commercial and a ‘political’ advertisement. And how blah it has all become!

It is the ‘politics’ as expressed and practiced at the pub, or in the living rooms, and not exclusively by white men with a limited education and a will determined not to be disturbed by curiosity. But television – particularly private television – does not hold the truth. Television is most of the time an amusement park, a bad assortment of a circus, a carnival, a travelling troupe of acrobats and story-tellers, singers and dancers, jugglers, side-show freaks, lion-tamers and football players.

That ‘third parent’ – if a child were to be so lucky to have the other two together – is in the boredom-killing business. It is rarely the source of truth, and even more infrequently of education.

Two generations, at least, of such ‘non-participants to public life’ – as it suits the two-party-Westminster-like system – have mistaken illusion for reality. Because of that the viewers of such incantation do whatever ‘the tube’ tells them, think like ‘the tube’, rear their children like ‘the tube’, dress like ‘the tube’, eat like ‘the tube’. In that ultimate theatre a mindless populace has found its ultimate charlatans.

These plastic men – and some women, too – these ‘managers’ work for the corporate society into which they have turned Australia, a section of the ‘western’ corporate world in a corporate universe. This world quite simply is a vast cosmology of small corporations orbiting around larger corporations – mostly foreign, mostly dependent on the banks – which in turn revolve around giant corporations. Yet, this is not the real world. It is the ‘world’ of the post-Whitlam ‘restoration’, largely with the values of ‘the market’.

In the fierce arena of ‘politics’ as ‘played’ today if ‘the tube’ hints or says that one has received, or is about to receive a fantastic sum of money, or is corrupt, or if the-one-proprietor-media say so, that is enough not to question and to give the vote to ‘the other party’. And the ‘Westminster System’ is based on two parties – no more, no room for shades, doubt, honest compromise or third solution to a problem.

Such backward, feudal and deleterious over-simplification, more often than not, committed to a short-bite sound, without room for discussion, produces the murmurs which cost the future to Cairns and Connor, portrayed the Whitlam Government as a band of amateurs, who could not be trusted to replace the ‘tried experts’.

That the experts turned out to be a prime minister and his foreign minister enabling the crooks of the Australian Wheat Board Ltd., and all of them operating against United Nations declared sanctions, is mentioned only in passing – if at all.

Memories are very short, and selectively so. And so the helots – who in ancient Sparta were a class of serfs neither a slave nor free citizens – draw the despairing conclusion that ‘they – meaning ‘the politicians’ – are all the same’. But in this miasmatic presentation the Liberals are still ‘more respectable’. The question remains: ‘respectable’ by whom, where, why and how? The monarchy needs such morons; it thrives on them.

One is back to the master-servant relationship which seems to pervade the Australian society.

Whitlam might have been persuaded to blast through the ideological sclerosis of the two parties ‘system’, to make room for voices different from the original inhabitants, the old and the ‘new Australians’ – that mysterious mélange of different people referred to en masse as multicultural, who should be welcome – and not ostracised, not exposed to historical nativist, anti-refugee xenophobia by a mass of imitative, sub-tropical Englanders.

If given the chance, Whitlam would have transformed a soi-disant Judeo-Christian-dominated ‘traditionally British’ place into a real nation, a gloriously vibrating – by ‘British’ standards, for sure – mongrel polyglot society, open to new ideas, friendly to its neighbours after so many years of discrimination, mistrust and aggression.

Reduced to its absurd minimalism, today the television bites favour ‘three-word programmes’.

The resurgent mantra of the ‘born-to-rule’ in time would become a little bit longer: “freedom, the individual and the market”, but settled down to a more memorable “Jobs & Growth”.

On Whitlam’s death a state memorial service was held on 5 November 2014 in the Sydney Town Hall. Thousands of common people were outside, the faithful ones, those who would not forget the three highly charged 35 months and their aftermath.

The Hall was full, with many good people, a strong contingent of Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander People, the usual attendees, several former prime ministers all of modest stature, and amongst them an omni-present un-indicted war-criminal. And then there were the usual celebrities and several ‘whited sepulchres’.

Noel Pearson, the Indigenous lawyer, academic, land rights activist and founder of the Cape York Institute for Policy and Leadership delivered what he called a fitting tribute to ‘an old man’.

He was the most lyrical, assertive, sublime of the celebrants.

Pearson, most warmly, forcefully, movingly remembered Whitlam for his burning conviction to break down class and race barriers:

“We salute this old man for his great love and dedication to his country and to the Australian people. When he breathed, he truly was Australia’s greatest white elder and friend without peer of the original Australians.

Of course recalling the Whitlam government’s legacy has been for the past [then] 39 years since the dismissal, a fraught and partisan business. Assessments of those three highly charged years and their aftermath, divide between the nostalgia and fierce pride of the faithful, and the equally vociferous opinion that the Whitlam years represented the nadir of national government in Australia.

Let me venture a perspective.

The Whitlam government is the textbook case of reform trumping management.

 In less than three years an astonishing reform agenda leapt off the policy platform and into legislation and the machinery and programs of government. The country would change forever. The modern, cosmopolitan Australia finally emerged like a technicolour butterfly from its long-dormant chrysalis.

Thirty-eight years later we are like John Cleese, Eric Idle and Michael Palin’s Jewish insurgents ranting against the despotic rule of Rome, defiantly demanding ‘and what did the Romans ever do for us anyway?’

Apart from Medibank?

and the Trade Practices Act 1974?

cutting tariff protections?

and no-fault divorce and the Family Law Act 1975?

the Australia Council?

the Federal Court?

the Order of Australia?

federal legal aid?

the Racial Discrimination Act 1975?

needs-based schools funding?

the recognition of China?

the Law Reform Commission?

the abolition of conscription?

student financial assistance?

FM radio and the Heritage Commission?

non-discriminatory immigration rules?

community health clinics?

Aboriginal land rights?

paid maternity leave for public servants?

lowering the minimum voting age to 18 years?

fair electoral boundaries and Senate representation for the Territories?

Apart from all of this, what did this Roman ever do for us?

And the prime minister with that classical Roman mien, one who would have been as naturally garbed in a toga as a safari suit, stands imperiously with twinkling eyes and that slight self-mocking smile playing around his mouth – in turn infuriating his enemies and delighting his followers.

There is no need for nostalgia and yearning for what might have been. The achievements of this old man are present in the institutions we today take for granted, and played no small part in the progress of modern Australia.”

Jenny Hocking (image from batemansbaypost.com.au)

What happened towards the end of those 35 months of the Whitlam governments is exceptionally well covered in a book by a distinguished historian, Professor emerita Jenny Hocking: The dismissal dossier – Everything you were never meant to know about November 1975 (Melbourne University Press, 2017). There is a perhaps more sanguine version of the events in The Anglo-American ambush of the Whitlam Government – 11.11.1975 (serialised from 8 November 2015 by The AIM Network).

And what happened on 11 November 1975? Put it simply, this: The Governor-General secretly decided to support the political plans of the Liberal-National Coalition – the backwoodsmen of yesteryear.

Against all honourable and contemporary practice he did not discuss that decision with Whitlam. Of course! The chief justice and a judge of the High Court supported the plan, albeit – at least from the latter – under some conditions, which were disregarded. The Governor-General then mounted a time-tabled operation, that one could better describe as a coup d’état. And that, too, is a foreign expression, because nothing like that ever happened in Sir John Falstaff’s beloved England! Really? Spies from Ukania are the world champs in false flags, lying and deception; they have been for centuries. And the Australian Falstaff had learned to be fairly good at it.

The Prime Minister – trusting in the given word, and only apparent honourable behaviour of a fat, vain, boastful, vulgar sensualist, debauchee often too well-imbibed, and cowardly knight, was left with a false sense of security.

Such deception was necessary to dismiss the prime minister and install in his place the leader of Her Majesty Opposition, and immediately dissolve parliament. Voila!

Maybe Whitlam had demanded too much of a recalcitrant, uneducated, indifferent populace. For months Her Majesty’s Opposition had charged the Whitlam government with ‘bad management’ of the economic crisis which had gripped the world and was known overseas as the ‘petrol crisis’ but in Australia as a consequence of ‘Whitlam socialism’. Of course, people of good faith knew that Whitlam was no socialist, perhaps not even a social-democrat – simply a decent man concerned with the amelioration of Australian society, for all and not for the few who controlled it. So the electorate was exposed to a long campaign of accusation of generic faults summed up in words ague but familiar: ‘international safaris’ against ‘the politicians’, ‘job for the boys’ – that is people connected with Labor, ‘dole bludgers’ as the ultimate humiliation of the unemployed et cetera. It was the familiar jargon of a subtropical transplant of a nation of shopkeepers, a limited language expressed in primitivistic abstractions: ‘initiative’, ‘independence, ‘thrift’. It was, as often in the past, ‘protection’ from ‘competition’ – both of them mis-understood, of course, ‘freedom of enterprise’ against ‘socialism’ – worst still ‘communism’, which was always not far away, coming down from Asia, as Menzies-the-Prophet had reassured. It was, in the end just as at the beginning of the Whitlam government a conflict between Labor incompetence and crookedness and a tried and successful Liberal management of a complex economy. And the remedy ? the triumph of ‘the private sector’, which of course was supported by newspaper proprietors and that camarilla of ‘bien-pensants’ who are the controllers of political-legal networks: most judges and barristers, the leaders of professional organisations such as doctors, and most top administrators, academics, ‘intelligence’ men, bank managers, and all those who would be ‘at home’ – and this time, here, in Australia – in anyone of the ‘establishment clubs’ which still pullulate the major cities, particularly Melbourne and Sydney. To all of such, natural leaders’ Labor in government, and heaven knows in power, was anathema. That it should be given a chance every once in a while, was a proof, but not a guarantee of ‘democracy’; but the licence should not last for long, because they, ‘the Liberals’ were the natural leaders of the country.

Continued Saturday – The restoration of malpractice (part 1)

Dr. Venturino Giorgio Venturini devoted some seventy years to study, practice, teach, write and administer law at different places in four continents. He may be reached at George.venturini@bigpond.com.au.

 

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Will they ever learn?

By Ad astra  

Will they ever learn? After watching the first Question Time of the most recent sitting of the House of Representatives, the only plausible answer to that question is a resounding NO.

On April 2, parliament resumed after a brief recess to enable the Budget for the next year to be tabled, a necessary prelude to the PM calling an election.

It began with motions of condolence before getting down to the real business of parliament, the unseemly brawling that characterises our federal politics day after distressing day.

It was heartening though to experience what our politicians are capable of being. Their condolence speeches were well-written and sincerely and stylishly delivered by the PM and the Opposition Leader. They acknowledged the tragedy of the Christchurch massacre, the death of Dr John Herron, surgeon and longtime Liberal Senator, whose humanitarian work in war-ravaged Rwanda is legend, and the death of Les Carlyon, accomplished war historian and sports commentator. It was a professional exhibition of good manners, courtesy and collaboration across the aisle. It was warming, albeit surprising to see our politicians acting with mutual consideration, each acknowledging the fine words of the other. As a long time detractor of the political class, I asked myself why could it not be like this always. Could courtesy become the norm?

Faint hope.

No sooner had the pleasantries finished and the condolence motions formally referred to the Federation Chamber for further consideration, than Chris Bowen asked the first of the ‘Questions without Notice’. Regrettably, it was an angry question aggressively directed to PM Morrison. Entirely predictably, it evoked the ill-tempered, archetypical response from the always-ready-to-scrap Morrison. Shouting from lips quivering with rage, he assailed his opponents with a torrent of angry words. Good manners were abandoned. The brawling resumed. It will continue unabated until the House assembles again after the election.

Why do politicians behave this way? We know that aggressive behaviour is not confined to males. Listen on Fridays to Jon Faine’s The Wrap on ABC Melbourne Radio, a weekly summation of federal politics. There you will hear his panel of women screeching at one another. Reflect on Michaelia Cash’s raucous rant during Senate Estimates when she snarled at accusations of improper actions in her department and threatened retribution, and again recently when, addressing a cluster of tradies after Labor announced its electric car policy, she thunderously declared: ‘Labor is coming after your utes’, forcing you to drive electric vehicles.

Although we know that aggressiveness is not restricted to males, even male chauvinists would concede though that males have longstanding form on this sort of behaviour.

Is there an explanation? Having roundly criticised the behaviour of senior politicians during that appalling episode of Question Time, I ask myself: ‘Why is it so?’ Coincidentally, as I was writing this piece, there was an episode of the ABC’s The Drum titled ’Men’s Special’ hosted by John Barron, which featured a panel of experts who discussed the behaviour of men in great detail. The insights they provided revealed the thought processes of a variety of males, young and old alike: their fears, their apprehensions, their hopes, and their ambitions. Although the programme runs for an hour, it is well worth a view. It gives more insight than I ever could into why men behave the way they often do.

So I conclude this short piece with that episode from the ABC’s The Drum ’Men’s Special’. It speaks for itself, illustrating as it does the violent behaviour that men are capable of displaying. I rest my case. Click here then play the Men’s Special episode, which appears at the top of the page. You may not wish to play the whole of it; the first few minutes will give you the gist of it.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Prophetic Pilger: Breaking the Silence – An Evening’s Q&A, 10th April 2019, Byron Bay

By Melissa Frost  

Its Bullshit. The media, it’s Bullshit. We have been lied to since the 50s. Where’s the anger? Why aren’t we angry? Where’s the protests and the movements?

Award winning journalist and film maker John Pilger addressed the propaganda of the media, during his Q&A talk at the Cavanbah Centre in Byron Bay last week.

The hall was crowded with Byron Bay/Mullumbimby residents, sitting obediently still. Waiting for inspiration perhaps. Or a platform to express their discontent at the facts behind the fictions that Pilger has been reporting on for over 40 years.

When the 76-year-old wandered through the crowd to the stage, a wave of excited celebration moved across the Byron Bay audience.

Pilger said it was good to be home. Pilger been based in London since 1962. The acceptance of home was not lost on the Byron Bay audience who lapped up the recognition.

“John Pilger’s independent journalism is the stuff of legends,” said Dr. Richard Hill, convenor of the Ngara Institute.

In his talk, Pilger tackled what he calls the “great Australian silence.” The complacency of Australians. The lack of dissatisfied energy of the Australian populous. “Where are the heroes? “Pilger says. “Here!”, “Here!”, “Here!”, several in the crowd called out. And with that the energy of the hall lifted. People were leaning forward, mesmerised by the heinous facts Pilger was delivering about our unjust world. The 750,000 starving Yemeni children. The brutality “Le Petit Royale” aka Macron was enforcing on his French countrymen and women of the Yellow Vests. And the ever expanding listening and scrutinising US base at Pine Gap.

Pilger goes on to say he is disgusted at the political agenda of all Western governments. Australia not independent, continues to do what America tells it, still playing the race card, still at odds with the one unique element of Australia: The First Nations. “Where are the journalists?”, Pilger asks. The ABC under siege, Fairfax on the ropes and Murdoch manipulating all sides of government.

Pilger is a strong critic of American, Australian and British foreign policy which he considers to be driven by an imperialist agenda. Pilger goes on to say that a war between US and China is likely, referencing his recent film, “The Coming War with China”.

Pilger then turns to the topic of Julian Assange, whom he has visited in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London many times. Assange now a dual citizen of Australia and Ecuador. Pilger tells us that Assange is constantly monitored by guards and cameras and that his lack of human rights are in violation of asylum international law. Assange has not been charged or convicted of anything and the Australian government continues to abandon him. Pilger fears for Assange’s health and sees no immediate solution. Pilger goes on to suggest that Ecuador would lose its reputation on the World Stage if Assange is forcibly removed from the embassy by British Police.

Little did Pilger know, exactly 24 hours later that’s indeed what took place in London.

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Julian Assange: a scapegoat for history’s violent male aggression

By Jerome Irwin 

Historically, the masculine ideological world view – professed by politicians of both gender’s, their counterparts in the corporate and military world’s and all those citizenry who support them – have dominated the evolution of human civilisation in both war and peacetime; life on Earth an endless ruthless, violent, aggressive Game of Thrones.

Because of this dominant raw, unaddressed male violence and aggression throughout history, Julian Assange, Wikileaks and Chelsea Manning now, no doubt, are about to be charged with treason and subjected to the propaganda of a modern flashy state trial in the United States that will be every-bit the equal of any historical trial ever held in the communist world.

However, what definitely won’t be put on trial is an ancient way of seeing the world and those male and female humans responsible for seeing the same way that has created an endless litany of human and planetary disasters and human crises, whether they be: the many modern wars that have been waged In places like Iraq, Syria, Gaza, Libya, Afghanistan, Vietnam, the whole of Asia, Africa, Middle East and South America, or; the violent ravages of climate change, global warming, population explosion, an unsustainable, liveable way of life for all forms of life, while perpetuating the constant potential threat to the entire planet of a sudden global nuclear winter brought on by some monstrously insane, idiotic nuclear clash.

Historically, little of Mother Earth’s feminine energies have been able to make any real impact or inroads upon this dominant masculine-male world viewpoint to affect a different kind of outcome to all these crises, which remain part and parcel of the world’s whole ball of wax as it still exists in the 21st century. Reconfiguring this ball of wax isn’t a simple matter of politically deciding the single question, “Is Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, Eric Snowden or any other real patriot guilty of treasonable actions?”

Those who should end up being put on trial are the one’s who refuse to admit to, while continuing to perpetrate, the modern, masculine-dominated human civilisation that is guilty of causing the wholesale destruction and deterioration to all forms of life on the planet brought on by the untold cuts of a hundred thousand knives.

Those corporate-militaristic-minded politicians repeatedly elected to hold the reins of power at whatever level of government in the world, seldom pay much real notice to basically what many women, indigenous peoples and the youth all may think, feel or say about the overall dubious health of our Mother Earth, and the alternative solutions they have to offer to address her health and healing processes.

It all starts with how one sees the world. One way of looking is based upon respectful relationships and kinship with Mother Earth, where everything upon her and within her is a relation to one another, as that between a mother and her children; hence the traditional expression All My Relations is commonly used to acknowledge this emotional and spiritual connectedness and relationship to one another. The opposite way of seeing the world is one that lacks meaningful relationships and mutual connectedness with Mother Earth and all her children, where incompatibility, alienation, estrangement, violence and aggression dominate.

Those like Assange, Snowden, Manning and others will eventually be run through a showcase kangaroo court, with all the TV cameras and iPhones whirling and tweeting away; the world on the edge of its seats, listening to a veritable litany of platitudes, promises and lip service paid to the need for justice to be served, or the tenets of democracy to be upheld and protected from all the haters and evils of the world. But how much attention will be given to the need for the male corporate-military-political rulers to take stronger, tougher actions towards matters like: creating non-violent, peace-oriented academies in every country; immediately eliminate all nuclear weapons that threaten the continued existence of all life on earth, or; eliminate all the human causes responsible for apocalyptic climate change and global warming?

The youth of the world already have begun to march out of their classrooms to hold weekly Friday’s 4 Climate rallies in front of parliaments and government offices to demonstrate their sense of frustration and urgency to the deteriorating state of Mother Earth, and the questions it raises about the future questionable survival of all of life unless the whole ball of wax is seriously re-configured. But will even more youth, and now even all their mothers and fathers, join them once America’s state trial of the century begins to spin its evil web of propaganda?

Jerome Irwin is a freelance writer-activist who, for decades has sought to call world attention to problems of sustainability, excessive corporate-development and the resulting horrors of such everyday realities like: traffic gridlock, loss of single family neighbourhoods and; host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues and concerns that exist between the conflicting philosophies and world views of Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples.

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Adani: some inconvenient truths

By Phil Gorman  

Let the facts speak for themselves.

Queensland’s workforce

  • 2.36 million people are employed in Queensland.
  • The tourist industry directly or indirectly employs 217,000 Queenslanders.
  • Coal mining directly or indirectly employs around 20,000 Queenslanders.
  • Adani’s mine would directly or indirectly create about 1,500 jobs.

Tourism

Key state government statistics reveal that, “The tourist industry directly and indirectly employs 217,000 Queenslanders – or 9.1% of all people employed in Queensland.

Tourism contributes $12.8 billion directly to the Queensland economy, accounting for 3.9% of Queensland’s gross state product (GSP).

“The industry indirectly contributes an additional $12.5 billion to the state’s economy, making the total contribution $25 billion, or 7.8% of total Queensland GSP.” (i)

Coal mining

  • Coal mining employs less than 1 percent of Queensland’s workers. (ii)
  • From a high point of 30,000 in 2013 coal mining currently employs around 20,000 people.
  • All mining (coal, gas and other resources) are projected to shed 7,400 jobs by 2020.
  • The Carmichael Mine would create only 1,500 new jobs.
  • The Carmichael Mine would mean an unknown number of job losses in other industries.

According to Commonwealth Department of Employment projections Australia’s coal miners will cut their workforce by a further 21 percent by the end of 2020.

The Australia Institute’s “Facts on jobs, and coal in Queensland” shows, “The coal industry has always been a minor employer in Queensland.  At its peak it employed fewer people than the arts and recreation industry, but in recent years it has shrunk further, shedding 10,000 jobs in Queensland and now representing less than 1 percent of the state’s workforce.”

Coal industry lobbyists and the Murdoch media unduly influence most politicians and misinform the people. Despite the industry’s increasing displacement of workers with new technology many Queensland voters still believe the “jobs, jobs, jobs” propaganda. Declining investment has already meant a 35% cut in the coal workforce.

At the same time Queensland has experienced a growth in employment. “This is a practical demonstration of the fact that jobs and growth come from a broader range of industries, in particular health, education and services,” Executive Director of The Australia Institute, Ben Oquist said.

Adani: impacts, lies, boasts and damned lies

Adani has an international history of flouting the law, of bribery, corruption and ignoring its environmental commitments. It has created environmental havoc abroad without redress. It has already ignored the interests and desires of many local Aboriginal people.

The Carmichael Mine would destroy local ecosystems, including the habitat of a rare finch. It would accelerate global warming, spreading coral die-off on the Great Barrier Reef. This threatens Queensland’s tourist industry. Any damage to local ecosystems and water tables can have wide ranging consequences for agricultural, pastoral and fishing industries. These impacts have yet to be fully accounted for by Adani’s researchers.

Despite continuing reservations expressed by the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia the government has pushed through another environmental permit to placate the Queensland right in the elections.

In 2015 Adani’s economic adviser, Jerome Fahrer of ACIL Allen consulting, told the Queensland Land Court, “Over the life of the Project it is projected that on average around 1,464 employee years of full time equivalent direct and indirect jobs will be created”.

These job projections would include Adani’s own employees and indirect job creation flowing from the economic benefits to local business. (iii)

Under oath Mr Fahrer was forced to reject Adani’s claim of 10,000 direct and indirect jobs being created by its mining operation over the projected lifetime of the Carmichael Mine. He said; “It’s not many jobs. We can agree on that.”

At the 2017 Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit, Adani Mining CEO Jeyakumar Janakaraju, boasted that the operation is to be fully automated. “When we ramp up the mine, everything will be autonomous, from mine to port. In our eyes this is the mine of the future.”

Adani and its loyal proponents still falsely claim that 10,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created by its mining operation over the projected lifetime of the Carmichael Mine.

The undue influence of the extractive industries in this country has corrupted due process and distorted the economy. It has led to massive environmental damage, accelerated global warming and undermined the public good. It is to be hoped that the new Commonwealth Government will put the environmental and public good first for a change.

Adani must be stopped. This would be a first step towards restoring a degree of trust in our democratic institutions.

Sources

i    Queensland Bureau of Statistics: Key Torim Statistics 2018 https://www.qld.gov.au/Key tourism statistics

ii   Australia Institute “Facts on jobs, and coal in Queensland”. ABS Cat no. 6291.0.55.001 – Labour Force, Australia, Detailed, 2 ABS Cat no. 6202.0 – Labour Force, Australia,3 Department of Employment (2016) 2016 Industry Employment Projections – five years to November 2020, 4 Department of Employment (2016) Regional.

iii  Adani sticks with 10,000 jobs lie.  Leith van Onslen in Macrobusiness, 2018-02-07, Unconventional Economist in Australian Economy

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Adding to suffering: reducing food

By Shamindan Kanapathi  

On Manus Island there are three camps that are run by PNG immigration and Australian Border Force. East Lorengau Transit Centre and West Lorengau Transit Centre are for people recognised as refugees through the flawed PNG/Australian refugee assessment process. The third is called Hillside camp. It is where those who have been deemed non-refugees, for various reasons, are held.

East Lorengau Transit Centre is fully contracted to a company called Paladin which provides security, maintenance and food. West Lorengau Transit Centre and Hillside camps have different service providers. Paladin provides security and a local company called NKW Holdings, provides food.

Those transferees who live within the East and West Transit Centres are provided with raw food and have self-catering kitchens to cook themselves. Those deemed non refugees who live in Hillside camp are served cooked food by NKW.

Asylum seekers in Hillside camp on Manus are seriously suffering with hopelessness and desperation. Management is now adding more stress and weakening them by reducing the amount of food they receive. Most of the men go to bed hungry because they have not been given enough to eat. This is further crushing on top of all of us being treated like criminals, our very basic human rights actively ignored.

We ask: What is our fault or what was our crime? Why are we being treated like this?

When the guys ask for an extra piece of meat or one cup of rice the guys are being humiliated and refused.

The contractors care only about money. They put all the funds that are given to spend for refugees in their own pockets. After almost six years refugees here are still made to suffer unbearably. This is really, really ridiculous and a cruel crime.

The man who killed 50 people in New Zealand complains about his lack of rights. But here we are having committed no crime and yet we are treated like the worst criminals.

All decent Australian should raise their voices against this injustice that is being done in your name, paid for with your taxes, which are wasted, spent to torture innocent vulnerable people who came to your country to seek protection.

Please speak up for us now. Please make our voices heard. Please use your voices to support ours. Speak now or you may be the next to suffer. What is done to us will be done to you next. Wake up, Australia.

Shamindan Kanapathi is a Sri Lankan Tamil man and refugee. He has been detained by Australia on Manus for almost 6 years. Over a number of years he has been reporting from within the camp through social media. His hopes have been that some day he will be free and reunited with his family; be able to help to raise the voices of those who are not heard; to care for those who are not cared for; and pursue his dream of becoming a veterinarian.
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Pentecostalism – taking Christ out of Christianity

By Willz  

The first time I heard the word Pentecostal was when my older cousin became one. I was 13 at the time and thought she was nuts. She kept equating the newly invented bar codes with “the mark of the beast”. More out of curiosity than anything, I went to church with her to see what it was all about and as a result, I was quickly lured into the church, boots and all. I was “born again”, baptised in water and then baptised in the holy Spirit, which supposedly gave one the ability to heal people, speak in tongues and prophesy. I studied the bible with a fervour, poring over every detail, determined to become a preacher and help spread the Word …

I kept hearing Pentecostals talk about them being the only true Christian church, yet the racism and religious bigotry never seemed to bother anyone. Apparently, because we were part of the one true religion, we were always right and everyone else was going to hell.

It was only after spending some time away from the church’s influence that I started looking at their beliefs in a more objective way and started questioning all I had been told. Having to be born again to avoid hell never sat well with me as I wondered why people who had never heard the message deserved to go to hell.

I slowly started drifting away from the church as I came to the realization that many of their doctrines were not biblical and their self-righteous racism and religious bigotry really started to bother me. One of the heroes of the Pentecostal movement is evangelist Franklin Graham, who recently toured Australia. Many Pentecostals attended his rallies. Franklin Graham has openly supported the racist policies of Donald Trump. Graham’s support for Trump crosses over into idolatry as he treats Trump like the Messiah (Zwartz 2019). Perhaps the best comment about Graham comes from American Baptist leader, Russell Moore, who stated that the problem with Franklin Graham is that “the Religious Right turns out to be the people the Religious Right warned us about” (Zwartz 2019). Without a doubt, Pentecostals, who are part of the Religious Right, represent everything that they claim they stand against. They claim to be a religion of love, yet their hatred of others is overt.

Is it any wonder that Graham and evangelicals in general, are so racist when their particular brand of Christianity is rooted in the racism and hate-crimes of America’s deep south during the 19th century? Graham thanks God for the victories of the white Christians (Redemptionists) of the 19th century, who used violence often unleashed by the Ku Klux Klan, in the fight against “Negro rule” because they claimed it was immoral (Barber II 2016). This hatred, this bigotry still permeates the psyche of evangelical, Pentecostal Christians today and manifests in their behaviour, in their support and idolising of racists and Islamophobes such as Trump, Abbott, Morrison, Hanson, Bernardi and so on.

The final straw for me was when I sat through a sermon on prosperity which claimed that god would reward his faithful Pentecostals with boundless riches if they prayed hard enough, gave enough to the church and isolated themselves from “worldly people” (i.e. non-Pentecostals). Apparently, those in developing countries are not as deserving even though they pray harder and often have greater faith and reliance on god. Go figure!

After marrying a divorced non-Christian lady, I was cut off from my family who were Pentecostals. They said I would not be part of the family until I left my new wife and came back to the church. Thirty years on and they’re still waiting, hopefully they didn’t hold their breaths. Now I was away from the church’s influence I started to see for myself what a sad group of self-serving racist, religious bigots they were. Infidelities by Pentecostal preachers were starting to come out in the press and I quickly realised it was a case of “do as I say not what I do.”

Having time to read the bible and reflect on its contents without anyone trying to twist it for me, I quickly realised that many of their core beliefs had no basis in scripture. Speaking in tongues is nothing more than incoherent rambling also known as glossolalia, described by linguists as “the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning.” It sounds like unintelligible gibberish but is supposedly a sign of being “baptized in the holy spirit.” Healing is another of their favourite doctrines, but I never saw anyone actually cured of anything even when multiple people laid hands on and prayed for them.

I could go on about how messed up their beliefs are, but even a cursory glance at their history and beliefs on google will have you shaking your head in disbelief. As their movement becomes more openly racist and Islamophobic their hypocrisy needs to be challenged. If there was any doubt about how far removed they are from the teachings of Jesus, their support of a white supremacist, Islamophobic bigoted president that has broken all ten of the commandments several times over. Yet, they claim Trump is a man of god! Are they serious?

Emboldened by Christian preachers openly supporting a white supremacist president, white supremacist Nazis have been attacking Muslim communities, injuring and killing innocent Muslims. Recently there was the murder of 50 innocent people attending Mosques in Christchurch by a white supremacist. While most people expressed sadness and outrage, some right wing politicians tried blaming the massacre on Islamic Immigration and as disgusting as that is, it was a position supported by Pentecostal preachers who treat Islam as an evil cult. They argue that they hate Islam but love Muslims, which makes as much sense as claiming they are loving Christians. They are just hypocritical xians who’ve taken the Christ out of Christianity.

Do not be deceived, Pentecostals and evangelical churches are not Christian. They do not follow Jesus’s example of charity and humility. They follow their own twisted version of scripture by preaching hatred, intolerance and greed. They have nothing in common with true Christians at all. They supported the illegal invasion of Iraq and then complained about people wanting to emigrate from war-torn countries because they are Muslim.

It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that these are the people who we should fear, and not Muslims. Their open hatred for Muslims and anyone who isn’t a white Christian is empowering violent Nazis to commit acts of terrorism like the one in Christchurch. They have blood on their hands and have shown no sympathy for the victims at all.

The bible warns against “wolves in sheep’s clothing.” They are the wolves and Muslims are the sheep.

References

Barber II 2016, ‘The racist history of Southern white evangelicalism and the rise of Donald Trump’, The Washington Post, 23 November, viewed 5 April 2019.

Zwartz, B 2019, ‘Franklin Graham walks in his father’s footsteps – and Trump’s shadow’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February, viewed 5 April 2019.

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Beware the Ides of March

By 2353NM

While Shakespeare may have ‘popularised’ the term, the ‘ides of March’ goes back to Roman times when March was the beginning of the year (giving the excuse for celebration and prayers that the new year would be prosperous) until 55 days were added in 46BC. Two years later ‘dictator for life’ Julius Caesar was stabbed to death — linking March with turmoil forever after.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison must have felt like Julius Caesar last month. While he would be relaxed and comfortable with losing opinion polls — after all his government hasn’t won any — the covert strategies of blaming everything on ‘illegal’ asylum seekers being allowed to travel to Australia for medical treatment as well as claiming ‘good economic management’ were both shown up by external events for the furphies that they are.

March opened with (depending on your point of view) either a technical recession or very small increases in the growth figures released as a part of the national accounts. Regardless of your point of view, wages are generally perceived to be growing at a lower rate than prices, fees and charges. In addition, Treasury blew the whistle on the government for misrepresenting the ALP’s proposal for changes to negative gearing policy, should they win the next election.

Greg Jericho, a columnist for The Guardian recently reflected on the overreaches and selective reporting of Australian politics which, if nothing else, compares the ‘shouty’ bravado of Morrison versus the longer and more nuanced (but selectively edited by sections of the media) statements of Opposition Leader Shorten, even when it comes to discussions on hate speech in the aftermath of the Christchurch terrorist attack. Like Jericho, Paddy Manning who writes for The Monthly, pointed out (in February) that ‘This is not normal’, commenting the 45th parliament is sinking under a barrage of sleaze.

Then a white supremacist walked into two Christchurch mosques (ironically given the history) on 15 March.

Along with everyone else, The Political Sword has made comparisons between the reactions and subsequent observations on the Christchurch terrorism event in Australia and New Zealand. And while Teena McQueen (an apparently ultra conservative factional warrior and National Vice President of the Liberal Party) did make the valid point on the ABC-TV’s Q&A broadcast on March 26 that New Zealand is effectively copying Australian laws introduced in 1996 by former Prime Minister Howard after the Port Arthur massacre, the rest of McQueen’s performance was in the opinion of Nine Media’s Neil McMahon Train wreck TV. McQueen tried to diminish Ardern’s credibility by suggesting that her government is a coalition with Winston Peter’s NZ First party. True, it is, and Peters has run an anti-immigration line at times — but the Morrison government (whose party has also consistently run an anti-immigration line for 25 years or so) is the result of a long-term coalition with the National Party. Most countries around the world have to some extent a coalition of political views in their respective governments. Apart from showing that ideology without knowledge or understanding is a dangerous thing, her point is …?

If McQueen wasn’t bad enough to end the month on, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age published Peter Hartcher’s Endgame series that in four articles discusses the machinations behind the Abbott, Turnbull, Morrison governments — and yes Morrison was in the mix promoting his own self-interest, just like Abbott and Dutton.

The same week as Endgame was published and McQueen appeared on Q&A, ABC-TV broadcast Al Jazeera’s ‘How to sell a massacre’, detailing a ‘sting’ operation on the USA’s National Rifle Association (NRA) using two ‘officials’ from Australia’s One Nation. It’s easy to believe that originally the ruse did not involve One Nation, but the producers were happy that the Party was gullible enough to accidentally participate. During the program, a number of statements were made by the One Nation officials that indicated that they were in favour of relaxing gun laws and repeated white supremacist hate-based rhetoric.

Morrison spent much of the week trying to justify distancing himself and by implication his government from the actions and policies expressed by the One Nation officials, but still courting their preferences. The ALP announced early in the week that they would be recommending that voters placed the One Nation candidate last when completing ballot papers.

Political parties in general need to remember that while they can ‘recommend’, ‘suggest’ or even ‘encourage you strongly’ to follow the order of preferences determined by the respective head offices or campaign headquarters, they only ‘control’ or ‘direct’ the preferences when you vote above the line on the Senate paper. So while Morrison got into all sorts of bother sitting on the fence yet again, he could have finished the ‘discussion’ over One Nation’s apparent love of guns and white supremacy in a day by suggesting that the Liberal Party will put One Nation last on the Senate ‘above the line’ preferences and that voters do the same when they have to decide preferences. Morrison can’t speak for the Nationals or the LNP in Queensland as they are separate Parties (that don’t have to follow your direction Teena), the same problem McQueen claimed demonstrated a lack of credibility of the Labour/NZ First Coalition in New Zealand.

So April brought the budget promising things that might only occur if the Coalition is re-elected and has a Senate that will work with them. No doubt the rest of the month will bring more examples of Morrison tying himself in knots, especially with the additional pressure of a formal election campaign. Watch this space.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Gladys to make NSW great! (or “bugger the koala, give me a martini”)

By David C. Paull   

After her calls to “make New South Wales great”, it was a very telling move by the newly elected Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian to remove two departments (or offices) and place their functions entirely under two new ‘super-departments’. Effectively there are only eight departments now in NSW, a remarkable concentration of power by any Australian standard. And no hint at all that this priority move was on the books prior to the recent election, given the surprise shown my departmental managers and staff.

Uncertainty still clouds the implications of subsuming a government department under a consent authority umbrella with senior and junior ministers, though the chain of authority would indicate the new environment and energy minister Kean would be without an independent voice and would more likely have to toe the line when it came to development approvals.

This is pertinent with a number of high-profile mining and gas approvals poised for approval or rejection in NSW currently before the Department of Planning, now re-named the Department of Planning and Industry. This new amalgam of ministerial interest, bringing together potentially conflicting pieces of legislation, is what the Berejiklian Government means when it says it is ‘streamlining’ or making things more ‘efficient’. But if considered with the history of legislative and policy reforms over the last eight years, particularly in relation to the environment, planning and development, these things have been said before. The Office of Environment and Heritage is a large department containing the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). But this agency has been subject to repeated funding and staffing cutbacks over the last eight years such that the total budget has decreased by $80 million in two consequent budgets by the Baird Government.

As such the capacity of the NPWS to properly manage its current estate has been compromised, leaving open a number of private operators to start making a few bucks. Leaving the environmental managers short-staffed is a tactic which results in the agency open to more criticism for being poor managers, and so the cycle continues.

But the NSW Planning department specialises in legislative and policy hocus pocus in order to roll out the mining and housing development with the general intent to increase approval turnaround speed and reduce issues.

A crucial moment in the development approval process in NSW was the Warkworth Coal Mine Expansion, which was knocked back in the Land and Environment Court for a variety of social and environmental reasons, with the local endangered community a key issue. The NSW Government’s response was swift, to deprive the public of ‘merit appeal rights’ in the court by the establishment of a supposed ‘independent planning commission’ which would hear the merits of any major project provided there was enough objectors. ‘Independent’ of course but still under the same Planning Minister. Several iterations since the commission was first established has seen the scope and recourse for public input reduced. This is still the case in NSW.

Another bold move by the Planning Minister of the time was to put economic considerations clearly above social and environmental ones when considering development applications. However the howl of indignation, from the public and commentators saw this policy eventually rescinded. In fact, there are other ways to manage the environmental issues for any project, particularly for mining, being so intrusive in the environment.

  • Development of an offset policy which would not deliver improved outcomes but provide something a bucket developer could throw money at;
  • Legislative, administrative and policy flux through a series of new guidelines and rules and organisation re-structures in the environment area over the last eight years. Gladys recently announced.

Of course, the Berejiklian Government has substantially changed the environmental laws in NSW in a significant overhaul in 2016, dropping the Threatened Species Conservation Act and the Native Vegetation Act resulting in much weaker assessment and environmental protection powers on private land in particular, with a massive expansion of the self-assessment system and clearing loopholes. This is all at a time of course of serious declining biodiversity and land condition across the state.

An issue Planning has spent some time on is how to bring the triple bottom line components (environmental, social and economic) together into one measure of relative value. In theory, this would add robustness to the approval process and make them less susceptible to legal challenge. However the method adopted was the use of ‘choice modelling’, a type of cost-benefit analysis where, rather than ascribe an intrinsic value to a matter, say a particular creek, in terms of environmental services it provides, this method gives a dollar value only to public perceptions of environmental and social outcomes. Perceptions obtained by the use of community surveys.

Offset policies have been a failure in terms of delivering real environmental gains, as this has never been substantiated. It is the general consensus within the scientific community that rather than delivering good outcomes, offsets have only been successful at turning public perceptions to one of acceptance for significant environmental loss.

The pattern however seems to be clear, reduce accountability for environmental impacts and any legal recourse the public may have. One has to ask the question, is the government gearing up for an onslaught of unpopular development? New onerous changes to trespass laws have also been flagged by the Liberals, another worrying sign of impending social turmoil.

But is this really a war on the environment? To do so would imply a co-ordinated and substantial effort over many years, something ingrained in the culture that would allow such deliberate obfuscation of their public responsibility. Recent whistle-blower resignations have rocked the Planning Department and points to the fact that all is not well in the Department. Despite calls for the department to be investigated for some of its dodgier approvals which have surfaced, there is nothing in the recent announcement of this significant restructure in the bureaucracy by Gladys to suggest that anything will be scrutinised.

As whistle-blower revelations have suggested, there is a lot to hide. From my own dealings with the Planning bureaucracy there were certainly individuals who seem to have been taken with the idea that the aim of planning is to ignore and white-wash impacts and consideration of the environment as much as possible. As a regulatory officer with OEH (2013-15), a source of contention which kept being raised to me more than any other were threatened species and ecological communities, as one Director in the Planning Department, said to me at a meeting with Glencore over their Bulga Coal Mine approval; “endangered communities, they don’t matter that much do they?”

Well, apart from being enshrined in legislation, these things certainly do bother the hell out of mining executives. I remember one mining exec telling me he would like to ‘gauge the eyes out’ of an ornithologist for having the temerity to report seeing a couple of Regent Honeyeaters (Money-eaters as he called them) on his mining lease. This complete disrespect for the environment (and our human rights as a consequence) is not pretty to encounter first hand, but even less pretty seeing it reflected in the dealings of the public consent authority.

Another way of understanding this issue is the fact that the approach in NSW (and Australia more generally) of reducing the operation, size, power and effectiveness of that part of the bureaucracy dealing with the environment, has also been undertaken by the Australian Government with a 30% reduction in the federal department work force and a privatisation its functions, and also the US Government with significant repeal and winding back of important environmental protections and functions since the Trump presidency began. Co-incidence?

It is more likely that these patterns reflect a growing ‘libertarian’ or ‘neo-conservative’ trend in some western democracies, one that advocates for less government, less regulation, less taxation and less democracy. The taxation objective they have achieved with the biggest corporates paying no or little net tax today. But it is the twilight years for the fossil fuel sector, and this is the end game, however they’re not ready to lose their grip on the old ways of making money just yet. So, with a climate disaster looming, only two things can save our society from disaster for everyone in my view. (1) start a just transition to renewables and (2) end the grip of big money over our political institutions. They are not mutually exclusive and need to be done tomorrow. Our environment cannot wait.

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On the cusp

By Henry Johnston  

On June 16, 1858 Abraham Lincoln spoke these prophetic words to his peers assembled at the Illinois State Capitol in Springfield: “a house divided against itself, cannot stand”.

Lincoln won the presidency of the United States and a civil war provoked by slavery, an abomination known by the recent ancestors of many Aboriginal Australians.

Lincoln’s seven words launched countless political science theses, and to this day his observation remains a moral actuality among those who aspire to the highest of offices.

I do not know if the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten pondered Lincoln’s words when he began his Budget Reply speech in the Australian Parliament on April 4 2019.

But across the despatch box neither Shorten nor the nation, could ignore the self-evident truth of a government utterly divided against itself.

Shorten’s first five words “women and men of Australia” is a deliberate riff on Gough Whitlam’s famous aphorism, “men and women of Australia.” Whitlam’s memorable saying marked the beginning of Australia’s transformation from colonial backwater to one of the most intriguing societies ever to occupy an entire continent.

And yet on the cusp of the most important elections of the century, ABC journalist Leigh Sales concluded her interview by asking; “what would you say to the Australian voter who thinks, “jeez, I just don’t like that Bill Shorten bloke very much. I don’t know if I can vote for him?”

While the full transcript includes Shorten’s response, Sales’ observation poses a raft of questions about how we view ourselves.

No matter who we elect I doubt Australians will ever be fully content with who we are as a people, and the nation will likely continue as “a house divided against itself, [and thus] cannot stand”.

Why?

Shorten alluded to the answer during his speech. In the words of the American author Ken Kesey, it is a great notion whose time is yet to come.

But the idea is given short shrift by media, and the majority of the women and men of Australia know virtually nothing about Makarrata.

I have not read one media report on the Budget Reply Speech which reported Shorten’s reference to a Makarrata.

I find this odd given the Uluru Statement is a modern Australian rhetorical masterwork.

Consider this. “How could it be otherwise? That peoples possessed a land for sixty millennia and this sacred link disappears from world history in merely the last two hundred years?

“With substantive constitutional change and structural reform, we believe this ancient sovereignty can shine through as a fuller expression of Australia’s nationhood.

“Proportionally, we are the most incarcerated people on the planet. We are not an innately criminal people. Our children are aliened from their families at unprecedented rates. This cannot be because we have no love for them. And our youth languish in detention in obscene numbers. They should be our hope for the future.”

When asked about Makarrata the former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said; “the constitution cannot be changed by Parliament. Only the Australian people can do that. No political deal, no cross-party compromise, no leader’s handshake, can deliver constitutional change … To do that, a constitutionally conservative nation must be persuaded that the proposed amendments respect the fundamental values of the constitution, and will deliver precise changes, clearly understood, that benefit all Australians.”

Herein is the difference between a conservative right-wing party bereft of ideas and a centre-left party within a whisker of government and led by a man characterised by a senior ABC journalist whose “personal popularity is a bit lacklustre”.

On the contrary.

A politician who opines ‘we owe the Uluru delegates an open mind on the big questions. On the form recognition takes, on treaties, on changes required in the constitution,’ seems to me to have absorbed the wisdom of Abraham Lincoln who said; “I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.”

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.

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Trending Issues: Address in Reply-Appealing to National Consensus

By Denis Bright   

In the traditions of outstanding Address in Reply Speeches from the Labor Party since the days of Andrew Fisher in 1909, Bill Shorten has delivered an outstanding appeal to a fractured nation with the politics of hope.

Supporting the Consumer Revolution and Save Medicare Initiatives

The Address builds on the positives in the federal LNP’s own budget with a commitment to fair wages and an extension of the federal government’s own tax offset. This will now benefit income earners to a taxable income of $48,000 with an additional $1,080 in annual take-home pay from 1 July 2019.

These changes alone will detract from the shrill appeal of cross-bench parties in the less affluent electorates in all mainland states. Labor vote cannot go higher in Tasmania without threatening the career of the left-leaning member for Denison who usually supports Labor on crucial economic issues.

Labor will oppose implementation of Phases 2 and 3 of the Federal LNP’s tax relief for higher income earners to the benefit of spending commitments in the forthcoming election campaign:

Labor has signalled it is likely to support doubling the offset, which Bill Shorten proposed in 2018 in his budget reply. But the proposal to flatten tax brackets beyond 2024 would provide a significant point of difference between the two major parties, allowing Labor to oppose high income tax cuts at the May election.

Flattening tax brackets in 2024, as proposed in the 2018 budget, and lowering the rate to 30%, as revealed on Tuesday, would contribute to a cumulative total tax cut of $1,205 a year for a person earning $50,000, $1,955 for someone earning $80,000, $3,040 for a person earning $100,000 increasing to $11,640 for those earning $200,000 or more.

Frydenberg defended the changes as a “long-term structural reform”, which would ensure that 94% of taxpayers paid no more than 30c in the dollar in tax and “incentivise and reward hard work”.

Funding accountability will be enhanced by removing the worst excesses of franking credit payments to retirees whose income from share portfolios does not exceed the current tax threshold of $18,200. The overall cost of franking credit payments has blown out to $6.6 billion. This is approximately one third of the cost of all payments to the NDIS in 2818-19:

Labor’s Fully Funded Plans for the Future

Labor extends the LNP’s commitment to end the freeze on increases in Medicare Payments to practitioners and specialists with a $2.3 billion commitment to reduce the costs of cancer treatment. Access to MRI Units to detect cancer will be increased with particular emphasis on outer-suburban and regional areas. Early diagnosis will also reduce the costs of cancer treatment and in the case of skin cancers these costs can be reduced by more adequate prevention programmes. Preventative programmes can also be extended to aspects of reproductive health to reduce the costs of STDs and abortion procedures.

The Plan for the Future will also address climate change with pragmatic carbon emission targets that can be reinforced by the installation of household batteries with appropriate subsidies to users of extensive solar units at a cost of up to $2,000 per household.

The energy initiatives will be supplemented by controls on clearing of native vegetation and planning measures to support transport-oriented development (ToD Projects) for our cities and the attraction of investment to the regions with particular emphasis on Northern Australia.

All these changes will require support staff in NDIS, aged care programmes, technical support for TOD Projects and other transformative ventures. This justifies Labor’s commitment to tertiary education with an emphasis on overcoming training deficiencies in the IT sector:

Bill Shorten will commit Labor to spend $200m on Tafe campuses and promise to almost double the number of new apprenticeship offered by the Coalition in Tuesday’s budget.

The commitments in Shorten’s budget reply on Thursday amount to $440m of new spending, including $330m to deliver 150,000 apprenticeship subsidies in areas with skills shortages.

The package builds on Shorten’s promise last year to waive fees for 100,000 Tafe students and doubles the investment in campuses from $100m to $200m.

Scott Morrison is expected to call the federal election shortly after Shorten’s reply and education is likely to be one of Labor’s strong suits because it is an area where it can offer higher social spending as a dividend for tax reform.

Labor has already promised an additional $14bn over 10 years to public schools, universal preschool access for three and four year olds, at the cost of $1.7bn, and to reverse the freeze on commonwealth grants to universities.

In Tuesday’s budget the treasurer, Josh Frydenberg, promised a $525m skills package that contained $55m of new money and redirected $463m of unspent money from the Skilling Australians Fund.

The centrepiece of the Coalition’s package is $200m to create 80,000 apprenticeships by doubling incentive payments to employers to $8,000 per placement and giving $2,000 payments to new apprentices. Labor’s policy matches the amount of those subsidies but extends them to 150,000 places.

Labor’s $200m building Tafe for the future fund will be spent to re-establish Tafe facilities in regional communities that have lost campuses or courses, build new facilities in growing areas, provide new equipment and expand course offerings.

Shorten said the budget was a “cynical pea and thimble trick” which had cut Tafe, skills and apprenticeship programs despite the fact Australia has 150,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than when Labor left government in 2013.

Labor’s Plans for the Future consolidate the LNP precedents and should be a safe bet for voters in swing seats.

Beyond Precedents: The Need for Sustainable Investment Multipliers

Short-term economic development initiatives aside on both sides of the political aisle, Australia has not come to terms with initiative to attract the right mix of investment in both public and private sectors to sustain a balanced development agenda.

The federal LNP’s plans for a consumer revolution to extend the mining boom and the property market brings too much uncertainty investment for the future in a middle ranking Australian economy which is no global financial hub like Wall Street, the City of London, Beijing or Tokyo.

The consumer revolution might bring more investment in online warehouses, tourist infrastructure and Uber food outlets, but not the balanced investment to bring consensus to a more fragmented and stressful society.

The latest RBA Chart Pack shows the extent to which new age investment based on market-forces, favours the capital cities in Eastern Australia from Brisbane and the Gold Coast to Adelaide with a preference for Sydney and Melbourne:

Mainstream politics is not yet rectifying these financial blind-spots which require a new range of commercial investment sources as recommended by the Business Council of Australia (BCA). The BCA is still too conservative to extend its vision to Asian Belt and Road Investment and Infrastructure Options which need not be unilaterally from China but from China as the vibrant financial hub of the Indo-Pacific Basin. China has been willing to repair its old disputes with Japan, Taiwan and Vietnam and turn them into trading and investment partnerships.

Ironically, this engagement with the Indo-Pacific would save Australia in billions of unproductive defence investment in favour of ports and regional investment projects across Northern Australia about which the federal LNP and populist cross-benchers have fantasized for decades.

Bill Shorten’s address in reply offers a conventional start to a better orientation with closer immediate engagement with New Zealand and the Pacific Islands on a transformation which requires an extended period of Labor Governments at federal and state levels along the Scandinavian development model which reaches beyond the nasty politics of debt and division (Matthias Cormann in The Australian 24 August 2017, pay-walled):

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann has laid down the economic gauntlet to Bill Shorten, describing Labor’s policies as akin to communist East Germany’s, in a speech to the Sydney Institute last night designed to set the philosophical and political battleground for the next election.

In one of the most direct ­attacks on the Opposition Leader by a Turnbull cabinet minister since last year’s election, Senator Cormann accused Mr Shorten of being an economic charlatan attempting to take Labor back to the era of socialism by committing to more than $150 billion worth of new taxes.

He accused the Opposition Leader of a shameless descent into the politics of envy used by past socialist leaders. “As he looks ahead to the next election, he has made the deliberate and cynical political judgment that enough Australians have forgotten the historical failure of socialism,” Senator Cormann said.

“The Berlin Wall came down 28 years ago, which means roughly 18 per cent of Australians enrolled to vote were born after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the failure of a system of government that destroyed the economies of eastern Europe.

“Bill Shorten now believes the politics of envy will work for him politically if not economically; that people will believe him when he pretends that the path to a better life for them is to tax their neighbours, their friends and their family members harder; to demonise aspiration and go after hard-working Australians and successful businesses.

“His rhetoric is the divisive language of haves and have-nots. It is socialist revisionism at its worst.”

Let the unproductivity of this rhetoric speak for itself as the federal LNP in 2019 adopts many of Labor’s tax package suggestions in its own consumer revolution strategies.

Denis Bright is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis has qualifications in journalism, public policy and international relations. He is committed to citizens’ journalism by promoting discussion of topical issues from a critical structuralist perspective. Readers are encouraged to continue the discussions in this current series of Trending Issues for Australians in this election year.

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