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(Some of) the lies from Scott Morrison since he became Prime Minister

By Shane Crocker

A person could grow very weary trying to keep up with Scott Morrison’s lies. Below is a section of his falsehoods, which by no means is an exhaustive list and some of them you no doubt know, while others may be new to you. Either way, there are many more out there.

September 3, 2018: Told Melbourne radio station 3AW that homosexuality is a choice and that he supports conversion therapy.

October 10, 2018: Told Melbourne radio station 3AW that schools have a right to expel homosexual students and fire homosexual teachers, and that hospitals have the right to fire homosexual doctors and nurses.

October 10, 2018: Lied when he promised to introduce legislation to protect LGBTIQ+ students. (Note: this was the same day he told Melbourne radio station 3AW that schools have a right to expel homosexual students.)

December 12, 2018: Lied when he promised to create a new federal level anti-corruption and integrity commission based on New South Wales’ ICAC. No progress has been made in the three years since because he had no intention of following up on the 2018 promise.

April 7, 2019: Lied about electric vehicles when he said:

“[An electric vehicle] won’t tow your trailer. It’s not going to tow your boat. It’s not going to get you out to your favourite camping spot with your family. Shorten wants to end the Australian weekend.”

December 10, 2019: Refused to allow volunteer fire-fighters to be paid or compensated with tax breaks. He further alienated the fire-fighters by saying they “want to be out there“.

December 16 to December 21, 2019: Went on an unannounced holiday to Hawaii during the bushfire disaster. Instructed the Office of the Prime Minister to falsely tell the media that he wasn’t in Hawaii.

January 6, 2020: Announced a $2 billion fund for bushfire disaster recovery. Nearly two years later most of the relief money has yet to be distributed to the bushfire victims.

March 12, 2020: Dismissed the announcement by the World Health Organisation of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, saying on Twitter, “I’m going to the footy this weekend & I’m looking forward to it…& I encourage you to, unless you’re ill.”

 

 

May 11, 2020: Said, “It’s a free country” in response to the violent anti-lockdown protest on the steps of Victoria’s Parliament House in Melbourne. He gave support to the protesters two more times; on November 12 and November 19, 2021.

 

 

August 19, 2020: Lied when he said:

“Australians will be among the first in the world to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, if it proves successful, through an agreement between the Australian Government and UK-based drug company AstraZeneca.”

There was no agreement.

October 22, 2020, March 31, 2021, Apr 24, 2021, June 22, 2021: Lied and exaggerated four times, between October 2020 and June 2021, about the number of Australians who have received the COVID-19 vaccine saying; “everything is on track”.

November 4, 2020: Lied when he said; “Our strategy puts Australia at the head of the queue.” The UK and the US started vaccinating their populations a month before Australia. In the UK half of all adults had their first jab before any vaccinations started in Australia.

 

 

February 23, 2021: Undermined former Liberal staffer Brittany Higgins allegation of rape by saying she is “confused”.

March 11 2021, March 14 2021, March 31 2021, July 21, 2021: Mishandled the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination program, saying three times in March “It’s not a race”.

July 9, 2021: Lied when he said Australia is leading the world in the vaccination rate. In fact Australia is rated last among the 38 OECD nations for vaccinations (Iceland is Number 1.)

August 30, 2021: Lied when he said all the problems with the COVID-19 vaccine rollout had been “overcome” when several states still couldn’t get supplies of the vaccine.

August 31, 2021: Refused to strengthen laws to protect women from sexual harassment and sexual violence.

October 31, 2021: Lied to the President of France about the French contract to build submarines for Australia.

October 26, 2021: Lied when he told a press conference saying Australia would be taking a net zero emissions target to the COP26 in Glasgow.

October 31, 2021: Lied to the President of the USA when he told President Biden that he told President Macron about terminating the submarine contract much earlier than he really did.

November 2, 2021: Leaked private text messages between himself and French President Emmanuel Macron for domestic political points.

November 10, 2021: Announces the Australian government will do nothing to reduce greenhouse emissions:

“We believe climate change will ultimately be solved by ‘can do’ capitalism; not ‘don’t do’ governments seeking to control people’s lives and tell them what to do.”

November 11, 2021: Lied when he said he’d never said anything negative about electric vehicles.

November 12, 2021: Says; “I’ve never told a lie in public life. I don’t believe I have, no.”

 

Image from Twitter (@sacarlin48)

 

November 12, 2021: Sends mixed messages by giving comfort to the extremists involved in the violent anti-vaccination protests in Melbourne by saying “I understand people’s frustrations.” This was actually the second time he gave tacit support to violent demonstrations. The first time was on June 12, 2020 when he said, “It’s a free country.”

November 13, 2021: For the second time in a week he equivocated over the violent protests in Melbourne. He said he didn’t have sympathy for the violent protests but that he had sympathy for their cause. Asked if he had sympathy for the protesters, Mr Morrison said he did have sympathy for those who have had a “gutful of government’s telling them what to do”. This was after he said; “My message couldn’t be clearer.”

November 18, 2021: At a photo-op at a NSW brewery, he made a sexist and racist joke about “an Irish girl in a brewery.” It made the news at Irish on-line news site, Independent.ie. Scott Morison has now upset the Irish. They are not amused.

November 22, 2021: Lied about telling the Federal Leader of the Opposition Anthony Albanese where he went during the 2019 bushfire disaster.

November 25, 2021: Blocked debate on the creation of a federal integrity corruption commission despite making a promise in 2018 to set up a federal version of ICAC.

November 26, 2021: Refuses to guarantee teachers and students won’t be expelled and sacked if the Religious Freedom legislation is passed. Said that the legislation will be “reviewed” in 2023 despite promising gay students will be protected by legislation by Christmas 2018.

Please note: I would never use the term “homosexual” myself. The term is anachronistic and quite a put down. I was quoting what Scott Morrison actually said. Scott Morrison just says “homosexual” in preference to LGBTQI+. He’s an Evangelical Christian. To the Evangelicals “homosexuality” is an unforgivable sin. He also says it’s a “lifestyle choice”. He voted against the Sep 19, 2012 Marriage Amendment Bill 2012. He also voted against bills that would have legalised marriage equality in 2008 and twice in 2010. He hates gays. Use of the term “homosexual” is an affront in 2021 but I won’t soften what he said.

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Lies, damn lies and economics

By 2353NM

There must be a federal election coming – the infamous yellow and black Clive Palmer funded billboards have made a reappearance. One of the billboards has a statement that suggests COVID-19 related restrictions and vaccinations are a waste of time because it is still possible to be infected. It’s claimed the vaccine and restrictions are an attempt to restrict your ‘freedoms’.

There are two small problems in Palmer’s logic. First, there is no guarantee of ‘freedom’ in Australia because there is no Bill of Rights or similar legal instrument. Second, if Palmer had bothered to listen to the health experts and the State Premiers, he would have heard that restrictions on movement and constant requests to ‘get vaccinated’ were to ensure that the health system actually has enough infrastructure to cope with the potential hospitalisation of those that do need assistance to recover from a bout of COVID-19.

Health facilities and infrastructure cost money to build and run. While we have seen evidence of the federal government ‘printing money’ to increase stimulus, the state governments who run the hospital systems around Australia don’t have the ability to ‘print the money’ to build new hospitals to cater for a large influx of sick and dying COVID-19 patients, a likely outcome if there had been an uncontrolled pandemic. The reality is someone has to pay for it, and in the case of services supplied by state or local governments we pay through our taxes. Palmer should know this – he was a Federal MP for a short period of time.

As usual, Palmer is making the ‘facts’ suit the particular biases of his likely followers. His followers are likely convinced that the ‘income tax’ component they see in their payslips is wasted and things were much better for them (and others) in the glory days – whenever they were. Palmer hasn’t spelt out how he will protect ‘freedom’ – would it be the introduction of a ‘Bill of Rights’ to enshrine ‘freedom’ in legislation or some other process?

It’s very easy to suggest in retrospect that the pandemic restrictions weren’t needed as our health system wasn’t swamped (unlike other places in the world). Retrospect is always 100% correct and in this case the proposition hasn’t been tested against a ‘let her rip’ strategy that was ineffective at best in the UK and parts of Europe. Recent news reports also suggest that the public health systems in a number of Australian states are close to, or at full capacity without pandemic related illness. Full capacity is good from an economic point of view, but considerably below what is desired if you are the one on an ambulance gurney at 3am waiting for a bay in Emergency or a bed ‘upstairs’ to become available.

Palmer’s followers will probably only think about the need to potentially conserve health services if they, or one of their ‘nearest and dearest’, are the one in the gurney at 3am. They also won’t consider the need for schools, public transport, roads, regulatory bodies (that for example ensure that granny has food to eat and some comfort in Happy Memories Retirement Village, regardless of the operator’s desire to make bigger profits) and so on unless the lack or insufficient supply of the particular service directly affects them. When the service is not there on demand, the rationale is “it’s the ‘gummints’ fault” which further reduces their trust in the ‘gummint’.

And that’s the problem – ‘trust’. Palmer’s political party and others of a similar outlook only get their oxygen to survive because the large political parties have lost the trust of a considerable number of Australians. As evidence consider that the election results and opinion poll estimates suggest that either of the ‘major’ parties are flat out getting 40% of the electors directly supporting them. Even more concerning is the ‘marketing’ of the Liberals, Nationals, CLP and LNP as a combined force – except when facing an election. In a parliament that has a requirement of 50% plus 1 of the votes to form the government, there are a lot of people that feel they are unrepresented.

Some electorates take the plunge and elect someone without a large party machine of acolytes and rent seekers that have to be accommodated. When that happens, we get representation of the likes of Helen Haines and Bob Katter and the Parliament is all the better for it. However, for the rest of us, unfortunately if we choose to vote for an alternative to the major parties, almost inevitably our vote ends up with the one we typically hold our nose while numbering one higher than the other one on the ballot paper.

Arguably, the Gillard Government that relied on the support of the trio of Bob Katter, Rob Oakeshott and Tony Windsor was the most effective government Australia has had in the past 50 years. The reason is simple – to survive the government of the day had to actively listen to the concerns, aspirations and ideas of people ‘outside the ALP tent’. Gillard and current Opposition Leader Albanese (who was Leader of the House) did so, which is to their eternal credit.

Yes, there is an election coming up. Palmer’s advertising is effectively a lie as there is no legislated ‘right’ to freedom in Australia and he hasn’t articulated what he would do to create the ‘right’, How do we know? We asked weeks ago and are still waiting for a response, any response, even a ‘we’ve got your email’. The problem is that people like Palmer can promise utopia because they know they will never have to deliver. Based on the contents of Palmer’s advertising, he doesn’t understand the economics of health care at a basic level or the distribution of powers between states and federal governments, which is concerning from someone asking for your vote so he can run the country.

Voting for the major political parties is like buying a Toyota or Kia. It’s a justifiable, safe and reliable decision and a considerable number of others also make the same decision. Do you trust the car manufacturer or dealer to consider your individual objectives rather than theirs – of course not. However there are alternatives in a number of electorates. This time around, look at all the candidates and read the material shoved into your letterbox (despite the ‘no junk mail’ sticker). Make the candidates accountable and remind them they are there to represent you, not the powerbroker and rent seekers that seem to infest the political parties. Ask questions, insist on answers and vote accordingly.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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Voter ID and dead cats

By 2353NM

If you are over 18 you will be legally required to vote in a Federal Election between now and next May. If the Coalition Government gets its way, next time you vote in a Federal Election you will have to produce proof of identity before you are handed the ballot papers. The Coalition have been talking about this for quite some time. After the 2016 election the Liberal Party aligned chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, James McGrath said

it was a “regrettable omission” that Australia did not “treat elections with the same gravity as a visit to a surf club or entering a Brisbane CBD pub after 10pm on a Friday night”, both of which require ID.

He said the reform should be implemented “promptly” to counter “the current mistrust of politicians and the democratic process by the voting public”.

Despite

The Labor members [of the Committee} said claims of double voting were “unsupported by the evidence” and Coalition senators did not identify a single irregularity in the 2016 election.

They noted Coalition members had made a similar call after the 2013 election and the introduction of voter ID laws in Queensland [by the Newman LNP Government] had lowered turnout in the 2015 election before the requirement was repealed.

The Coalition Government under Morrison has revisited the issue and claims that identification of voters is required to ‘reduce voter fraud’. However, as Greens Senator Larissa Walters points out

voter ID laws were “a solution in search of a problem” with just 19 verified instances of double voting at the last election.

“There is zero credible evidence that election outcomes are being corrupted by voter fraud,” she said in a statement.

In addition there is evidence that a significant number of the poor, dispossessed and homeless don’t have identification to demonstrate that they live at a ‘fixed address’.

The Guardian recently reported

One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has claimed credit for the Coalition’s voter integrity bill, saying she made voter identification a condition for her support on another electoral bill.

Hanson told Guardian Australia on Thursday she had “had a gutful” of the Morrison government taking credit for her ideas and the voter ID bill “wouldn’t be happening without me”.

Coalition Senator Simon Birmingham is quoted as saying

“Public confidence can be eroded by actual areas of risk in the electoral system and perceived areas of risk in the electoral system.”

There are probably areas of risk in running an election. Australia’s compulsory voting system reduces the risk considerably, as we know prior to the election the number of votes we should get (the number of people aged 18 and above a week or two prior to the election, less those that have a lawful excuse). In countries with optional voting, there is no way of knowing how many votes there should be. This leads to claims from those that lose elections (the immediate past President of the USA comes to mind) that boxes of votes mysteriously appear or disappear from the counting rooms in areas that favour the victor.

And the same people that are worried about a handful of double votes in a Federal Election (where around 15 million votes are legitimately cast by Australians) are fighting the creation of a corruption commission that can investigate alleged incidents where someone elected to Parliament has not kept the high ethical and moral standards they all claim to follow, which also may be a large contributor to “the current mistrust of politicians and the democratic process by the voting public” (to coin a phrase).

Prime Minister Morrison acknowledged prior to the last election that a federal independent corruption commission would be introduced in the next (current) Parliament. However, after 11 months of ‘consultation’, disgraced former Attorney-General Christian Porter earlier in the year gave us a result that is less than encouraging.

Former NSW Supreme Court judge Anthony Whealy, QC, the chair of the Centre for Public Integrity, said the proposed national corruption body would be the “weakest watchdog in the country” because of the restrictions in the draft law.

“It would not be able to begin investigations into the majority of cases, as it is limited to only investigating a specific list of criminal offences,” he said.

Meanwhile Morrison

is adamant it will not have the same power as the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption, a view shared by ministers and backbenchers.

Mr Morrison said on Tuesday there was a “real problem” with the ICAC model after the state commission announced an investigation into Gladys Berejiklian last Friday, prompting her to announce her resignation as NSW premier that day.

“You’ve got to have processes that assume people are innocent before thought to be guilty and that is a real problem. So it’s not a model that we’ve ever contemplated at a federal level,” he said.

“And I’m sure there are millions of people who’ve seen what’s happened to Gladys Berejiklian, they’ll understand that’s a pretty good call not to follow that model.”

On October 8, The Sydney Morning Herald’s editorial suggested

Mr Morrison is entitled to defend Ms Berejiklian but his remarks show a fundamental misunderstanding of how the ICAC operates.

The ICAC has not found Ms Berejiklian guilty or even implied it. All it has done is announce public hearings into whether Ms Berejiklian broke any rules relating to state government grants paid to bodies in Wagga Wagga and Dubbo in which her secret lover, former MP Daryl Maguire, had an interest.

It was Ms Berejiklian’s choice to stand down and resign from Parliament. Mr Morrison and the public should wait until the public hearings begin on October 18 before jumping to conclusions.

In fact, the ICAC is legally forbidden from making findings of guilt. All it can do is recommend that the Department of Public Prosecutions or another body consider taking criminal action based on evidence it uncovers during its investigative hearings.

People that live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. James McGrath is correct to a point when he suggested that politicians don’t have a good reputation. Demonstrably it has nothing to do with the election process but more to do with actions the politicians are alleged to take during the political parties’ pre-selection processes or after election. Is it too cynical to suggest that the sudden legislation requiring voters to provide identification prior to voting is Morrison’s version of Boris Johnson’s ‘dead cat strategy’ where a dramatic or sensational topic is introduced to a discussion, solely to distract attention from the inconvenient truth?

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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Scott Morrison has moved on, apparently

By Jim McIntosh

Of course, we always knew that Morrison is a liar. A congenital liar who even lies when it’s of no particular benefit to him. So not just a liar, but a stupid one as well.

But then, when a foreign head of state actually came right out and called Morrison a liar, at that point the cat was truly out of the bag. Morrison, clearly wounded by the words of the French President, over-reacted in a manner that thoroughly weaponised the allegation against him, and made our prime minister appear even more stupid that he usually does. When Scotty’s minders or whoever it is that have to clean up the never-ending puddles of his diplomatic and political ordure finally convinced him that he’d gone a bit too far, his next predictable reaction was to ‘move on’. By that, any mention of the matter was met by a shouty, angry-faced Morrison saying that ‘we’ (note the pronoun) have moved on, because he had already blathered something along those lines “in Dubai” (although why the geography of his defensive, over-reactive damage control efforts should be an issue, is still a mystery).

So now that the tamestream media in Australia have been told that ‘we’ have moved on, we (the real we, the we that gaze in astonishment at what passes for a prime minister these days) now see Scotty happily frolicking in front of cameras dressed in hi-vis and assuring Australians that Labor lied about his 2019 aversion to EVs, and that everything is back to normal – although it’s not – and trying desperately to relive his happy, happy days of the 2019 election campaign where he was on top of everything and set to win the election. At the same time, in Trumpian style he uses ambivalent dog-whistling on the one hand to condemn the recent street violence in Melbourne while calling out to his cohort of violent right-wing ratbags that the government isn’t in the business of telling them what to do and inferring, rather that the Labor state premiers are the ones doing just that, not him, no, no no.

But in the final analysis, things are different now. Scotty is damaged goods, and he’s becoming a liability to his own rag-tag party. The point being that if Morrison feels the need to call out and appeal to violent street thugs and extremists of the far right, then the damage is real. What about all his ‘quiet’ Australians, the ones he always claimed were behind him? So, even though I and many of us already knew the nature of the beast, what matters now is that if it’s good enough for the French President to come out and state the facts about this man, then it’s certainly good enough for me. And Morrison, meanwhile, becomes more and more an object of derision and clownishness.

Et tu, Rupert? We shall see.

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It’s just not cricket, it’s institutional misogyny

By Gay Mackie

Through the eyes of Cricket Australia, a man can resign and keep his job, but a woman cannot have control of her own body.

This afternoon, Australian men’s Test captain Tim Paine stood down over a “sexting” scandal, which involved the cricketer sending a picture of his penis (amongst other things) to a female colleague in 2017. In a press release, Cricket Australia chairman Richard Freudenstein said: “The Board has accepted Tim’s resignation and will now work through a process with the National Selection Panel of identifying and appointing a new captain.”

Mr Freudenstein added: “While the Board acknowledges an investigation cleared Tim of any breach of the code of conduct regarding this matter some years ago, we respect his decision (to resign). Cricket Australia does not condone this type of language or behaviour. Despite the mistake he made, Tim has been an exceptional leader since his appointment and the Board thanks him for his distinguished service.”

Here’s the kicker, per Freudenstein, “Tim will continue to be available for selection in the Test team through the Ashes summer.”

While the relationship seemed to be consensual, we’re again at the mercy of Cricket Australia being the arbiter of right and wrong, and indeed, leaving them to dole out the punishment. They’ve posted some questionable form in this regard. In 2018, the same body dismissed an employee for actively campaigning for abortion reform, prompting the nation to define what we expect of our institutions.

 

 

Six months earlier, there were more headlines, as the problem was a square of sandpaper. The manipulation of a ball was rocketed to a fiasco, as we angrily called for heads to be lopped, as, among other things, they set a poor example for our children. Guess which issue garnered more attention?

 

 

Through the prism of CA’s values, perhaps it is that a mother’s currency is irrelevant. A woman is only worthy of dismissal, but a man is able to keep their job. While their body is theirs, of course, it also exists as evidence that can be used against them. It’s worth noting that both Steve Smith and Tim Paine, despite the apologies and the shame they feel, managed to keep their jobs. Bitterly, the former may replace the latter, despite the disgrace they’ve both earned. What we have here, however, is an institutional problem.

According to Fairfax, Angela Williamson was “exposed” after a senior member of the Tasmanian government disclosed her abortion to the administrators of Cricket Australia’s regional branch, Cricket Tasmania. Sticking to objective facts, Williamson had to travel to Melbourne as the only clinic in the entirety of the state closed. Subjectively speaking, how did this nameless figure know, why did that factor into the decision, and how did empathy, or common logic not enter into the decision?

Surely it had to pass through many hands before it was rubber-stamped. While Williamson eventually settled out of court, it was only after she threatened to take the dismissal to the High Court. I ask you, what is the difference between a handful of tweets and a handful of texts?

This is the issue, we’re not dealing with one person, we’re dealing with a culture. Clearly 1951 rolls on down the corridors of Cricket Australia, a halcyon place where a woman’s place is out the door.

 

 

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Could artificial intelligence save Australia from another black summer?

University of South Australia Media Release

Flashback to the summer of 2019/20 when horrendous bushfires burnt 18.6 million hectares in Australia, killing 34 people, one billion animals, and damaging thousands of properties.

Two years down the track, could we potentially be facing another disastrous fire season in the months ahead?

Perhaps. But what if the satellites orbiting above Australia could detect very small fires before they became problematic? This is the challenge facing UniSA STEM PhD candidate Liang Zhao.

The second-year PhD student is collecting smoke imagery from multiple satellites and then designing and training artificial intelligence (AI) models to recognise small outbreaks with the aim of preventing a repeat of the 2020 summer.

Zhao’s algorithm will use satellites to improve fire detection, even from 30,000 kilometres away.

“The problem with satellites is that those with high spatial resolution, focusing on small areas, tend to have low temporal resolution, taking much longer to capture images for the same location,” he says.

Conversely, satellites with low spatial resolution, such as the Japanese weather satellite Himawari-8 situated over Australia, capture multiple images in quick succession but with less detail.

Zhao’s plan is to use his model on multiple satellites so that both detail and time are considered when capturing images. His algorithm is trained to detect smoke, as opposed to cloud, and overcome the problem of small fires obscured by forest canopies.

He has already successfully tested his algorithm on bushfire imagery captured from Landsat 8, a high spatial resolution satellite.

Zhao’s software complements the work that is being undertaken in Australia to build satellites and drones specifically to detect fires outbreaks by monitoring Australia from a low orbit.

Queensland based company Fireball plans to launch a constellation of 24 purpose-built satellites in 2022, with the aim of establishing a national system of automated bushfire surveillance within five years.

An ABC story this year reported that new fires can spread 1500 square metres every 10 minutes, and if located in a remote area, could burn for hours before being detected.

Failing to detect bushfires could cost Australia $2.4 billion a year by 2049, fuelled by global warming, according to Australian National University modelling, making the investment more urgent.

The same modelling predicted that early bushfire detection could save the Australian economy $8.2 billion over the next 30 years.

“This is why many countries, including Australia, are launching more satellites specialised in fire detection,” Zhao says. “And with these satellites, the core is the algorithm, which is what my project is focused on.”

(Zhao was one of seven UniSA PhD candidates to present their research in this year’s Three Minute Thesis competition earlier this year.)

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Invasion Day

By 2353NM

No, we’re not getting in early for that date at the end of January. Although there is considerable substance to the claim from First Nations People that Australia had a civilisation long before Arthur Philip turned up with a number of ships and people that were a social problem the English decided to export rather than manage.

What we are talking about is the ridiculous hyperbole from the likes of US media commentator Candace Owens or US Senator Ted Cruz suggesting that Australians are living under the yoke of a totalitarian regime that rivals the Taliban or Nazi Germany. They seem to be questioning if the US should invade Australia to restore ‘freedom’. Apparently implementing restrictions such as lockdowns, capacity limits, mandatory vaccinations and wearing masks as countermeasures to minimise the effects of a pandemic on our society is just as offensive as gun control and universal health care to the conservatives in the USA.

The Northern Territory’s Chief Minister, Michael Gunner recently mandated vaccinations for a majority of the NT’s workforce. US Senator Ted Cruz wasn’t impressed and commented on Gunner’s social media message. The exchange is worth a read and one report is here which shows that those with an axe to grind won’t let the truth get in the way of a good story.

 

 

It’s an interesting proposition when human life is apparently not as important as claimed civil rights. Like the right to keep an assault rifle behind the seat of the ‘pickup truck’ just in case there is an armed rebellion that you have to help suppress which occurs in the time it takes you to pop down to the shops to get some milk. Or the right not to do something as simple as wearing a mask and staying home so that those with a highly transmissible illness can be found and looked after in an appropriate health care environment without spreading their illness to others. The discussion for another time is around the cost of treatment in an appropriate environment is probably also prohibitive to a good percentage of the US population.

Unfortunately, the American Conservatives aren’t the only ones that prefer to promote the story rather than the facts. Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce has claimed that fossil fuels are Australia’s largest export, resurrecting poor old Hanrahan to bleat and complain about how change will only cause ruin and destruction to our way of life. Pity he’s wrong – iron ore is the largest export from Australia and if we play our cards correctly, not only can we continue to dig it up, we could value add and turn it into ‘green steel’ before it goes overseas. Selling the finished product contributes far more to our economy than shipping the raw material and then propping up someone else’s economy to value add prior to sending some of the steel back to us at a profit.

Deputy Nationals Leader Bridget McKenzie is no better. McKenzie, who’s behaviour in doling out sporting grants to organisations that were usually located in marginal Coalition seats was too much even for Prime Minister Morrison to stomach, claimed that 54,000 people were employed in the the thermal coal mining industry. Again the assertion is wrong, but it demonstrates to the estimated 38,000 or thereabouts people working in the overall coal industry in Australia (data from the 2017/8 Financial Year – the latest information available) that the Nationals are more interested in the mining vote than their traditional supporters.

The real problem is polarisation. Regardless of your point of view, no one is totally correct and the ‘other side’ of a discussion sometimes has a good point. We on this side of the Pacific shake our heads and wonder how people in the USA with guns are allowed to massacre people so frequently that it’s not even the headline for the day. On that side of the Pacific, apparently they are concerned that the majority of us comply with health regulations to minimise the impact of a pandemic without large scale rioting in the streets. We all know what rioting on the street can do – remember the US Capitol last January?

While some will never change, that doesn’t mean that change is impossible for all. Next time you feel like insulting someone who expresses a view different to your own, instead of thinking up a ‘clever but sarcastic’ name and trolling them on social media or in the comments below an article on a website – stop and think. Does it add value or are you as bad as Joyce, McKenzie or (perish the thought) Cruz and Evans who don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story (or their prejudices)? Promote your point of view certainly, but trolling and name calling drags you down to their level where they can beat you with experience.

And by the way, Conservative USA, we’d rather you consider increasing the perceived value of every human life in your country and dragging your political system out of the gutter created by your immediate past President than worrying about us ‘Down Under’. There is no need to send the Pacific Fleet and thousands of troops to invade Australia. We’re fine – really!

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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Charting the Post-Diwali Opportunities

By Denis Bright

The festival of Diwali has become a unifying cultural and religious festival across the Indian Subcontinent and the global Indian diaspora.

On the Indian Subcontinent, it is a festival of light and enlightenment as winter approaches in the Northern Hemisphere. Diwali has generated very diverse epic stories amongst mainstream Hindus, Punjabis, Jains and Sikhs. The appeal of Diwali also extends to some other religious communities. It is welcomed by Indian political leaders and the marketing divisions of internal soft drink manufacturers.

With the BJP’s huge majority in the Indian parliament, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is keen to relate Diwali to mainstream political life in India. Dressed in Army fatigues, PM Modi used Diwali to promote claims for Indian control of Jammu and Kashmir (4 November 2021):

It is written in our scriptures: को अतिभारः समर्थानाम।

That is, the overburden does not matter to the one who is capable, he easily realizes his resolutions. Therefore, we need to increase our military power according to the changing world, the changing nature of war. They also have to be moulded with new strength. We have to adapt our preparations according to this rapid change taking place in the world. At one time, battles were fought with elephants and horses. Now no one can imagine this because the form has changed. Earlier, it might have taken decades, maybe centuries, to change the form of war. Today, the method of fighting changes from morning to evening because of rapid technology. Today’s art of warfare is not limited to the modus operandi of operations. Today, better coordination of different aspects, use of technology and hybrid tactics can make a huge difference.

Scott Morrison’s Diwali greetings did not make it to PM Modi’s web site. It is a communication directed at Australian Indian communities. It is worth reading as an opportunistic message of goodwill to an important section of the Australian community (SBS Punjabi Network 3 November 2021).

Scott Morrison’s media team are aware of the importance of strategic ties with the Modi Government and our vital defence ties with Fiji that has an important place in the wider Indian diaspora.

Immigration from the Indian subcontinent has long diversified Australian life. The prehistoric settlement of Australia is linked to the low sea levels associated with global cooling from volcanic eruptions including the Toba Crater Lake in Sumatra around 74,000 years ago (Kya):

 

 

Contemporary coverage of Indian communities focuses on very recent immigrations from the Indian Subcontinent during the colonial period and the turn of the current century (ABS Census data 2016). The Australian Indian community is well represented in Sydney and regional NSW.

The Diwali traditions to promote the victory of of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance can assist in rejuvenating global politics with a new style of progressive moral leadership goals beyond winning the next election` through rhetorical tricks and fear strategies.

There is no universal Indian Diwali epic as explained by the Conversation (Updated to 26 October 2021). In the Sikh traditions, Diwali celebrates the release from prison of the sixth guru Hargobind (BBC 20 October 2020). Mainstream Hindus have developed other epic sagas. Lord Rama returned to his family after defeating Ravana in Lanka.

Across the Diwali traditions, Indians enjoy fireworks, candles, family feasts as well as the exchange of gifts and sweets.

Such innocent traditions can be contaminated by political jingoism as shown by the self-promotional rituals of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi (The Print, 9 November 2021):

Civilian leaders in military uniform are an attraction unmatched by any other clothing. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has worn one every Diwali since the India-China confrontation at Doklam in 2017. This year, he spent some time with the Army and addressed troops at Jammu’s Rajouri, not far from the Line of Control. He was dressed in an Army camouflage jacket and a red-banded hat, worn by Colonels and above. He wore an Indian Army emblem as the crownpiece, so to say, in the middle of the red band around the hat. No rank badges were worn.

The Prime Minister’s oratorical skills and the speech delivered in his inimitable style would have touched the hearts of the troops and uplifted their morale. ‘We are lucky to have a leader like Modi’ would perhaps be a lasting memory for those who saw him in flesh and blood. Even for those who would see it on video, and especially for the millions of his supporters across the world, it would have had a similar effect.

The political values of a whole subcontinent and a global diaspora cannot be changed in a decade. PM Modi’s media team is well aware of diverse interpretations of Diwali across the Indian Subcontinent. Not all sections of the Indian community are onside with PM Modi’s personality cult and new defence ties with Israel and the US Global Military Alliance.

India was still represented at the recent Non-Aligned Summit (NAM) in Belgrade, Serbia with over one hundred countries plus observers as well as regional associations and voluntary organizations. This year’s NAM Summit attracted observers from Russia and China. Virtually all countries in Africa are NAM members.

 

 

The guiding principles of NAM have a moral appeal which is always being compromised by great powers. Some member countries of course strongly compromise their NAM principles in favour of militarism and excessive nationalism.

Diwali traditions of seeking enlightenment and recovery from darker times are strongly compromised by global warming and involvement in the nuclear arms race which offers humankind the penultimate form of global warming through nuclear warfare.

Such challenges should confront the Indian BJP’s commitment to national aggrandizement as distractions from the plight of working people across India from income inequality and pollution of the country’s most sacred rivers.

This year’s Diwali and NAM Summit coincided with the most spectacular light show in the night sky from the aurora australis in parts of Southern Australia. Pics and videos available on the ABC News site (5 November 2021). The dark skies associated with the arrival of the new moon contributed to the intensity of this year’s aurora. Solar flares were an even more significant factor. The Aurora Borealis was also active across the northern hemisphere.

Locally, Anthony Hearsey has impressed visitors to the QUT Museum in Brisbane with cosmic space images. These images add new dimensions to an awareness of cycles that promote an interest in alternatives to environmental degradation.

Diwali has even brought people on the Subcontinent closer to this degradation. 2020 brought an upsurge in COVID-infections across India. This year the main problem is air pollutions from literally millions of candles and lamps in major Indian cities as well as the pollution of sacred rivers.

The Indian Government chooses the dark path of acquiring more weapons of mass destruction. Details of the current balance of nuclear terror have been made available by the Arms Control Association:

 

 

While India and Pakistan have an agreement against first strike use of nuclear weapons, the militarization of India with support from Israel and other members of the US Global Alliance is a source of strategic instability in the Indo Pacific Region. It invites closer ties between Pakistan and other arms suppliers. Details of India’s strategic arms build-up is provided in The Wire (26 December 2020).

As a responsible middle power, Australia should be working for peace on the Subcontinent as its BJP Government seems hell-bent on acquiring more weapons of mass destruction in this COVID-19 era and playing with targets for carbon and methane emissions that see Australia siding with India, China and Russia in demanding further delays of impending 2030 responses to control global warming.

The federal LNP’s version of moral political values is hardly about enduring principles which are enshrined in the global NAM Movement. In India, the BJP Government of Narenda Modi has an enormous governing majority to propel investment in new fossil fuel projects, state of the art nuclear weapons and a new affinity with the AUKUS Alliance which erode India’s long association with the values of the NAM Movement in geopolitics.

Supporters of the Murdoch press are enthralled by these developments since the formation of AUKUS on 15 September 2021. The Indian Government chooses to proceed more cautiously as it currently lacks a majority in the upper house of its bicameral parliament with its powers to make constitutional amendments in the very unlikely event of a two-thirds majority. Treating a nation of 1.5 billion people as a personal chess-board might indeed erode the vast support base of the BJP in the lower house or Lok Sabha in May 2024.

 

Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.

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Jenny Hocking’s heroic palace coup is a victory for truth

By Tess Lawrence

IF ROYAL TITLES were still in political play in Oz, freedom fighter Jenny Hocking would surely be up for a gong by the “fountain of honour”, the Queen. As if.

She would be invested with the Order of St Michael and St George for service to the Commonwealth, Australia in particular, truth and history.

She has personally executed and driven a remarkable and bloodless palace coup.

Hocking has won a formidable battle

She’s given Boadicea a run for our money and self-respect. You go, girl!

For years, this tenacious Monash University Professor Hocking has been fighting the formidable clout of Buckingham Palace and the establishment for access to the correspondence between Queen Elizabeth and the then governor-general Sir John Kerr, leading up to and including the notorious 1975 bloodless putsch of Gough Whitlam’s Labor Government, now seared into the Australian psyche and simply known as The Dismissal.

Sir John immediately commissioned Opposition Liberal Party leader Malcolm Fraser as caretaker prime minister on 11 November, a date of political infamy that marks Australia’s biggest constitutional crisis.

The NNA’s facile argument

In a shameful collaboration with the Palace, Government House and the Government, our Canberra-based National Archives of Australia refused Hocking and the nation access to these critical historical papers using the facile argument that they were private documents. Pathetic.

Such an obvious falsehood undermines our sovereignty and leads us to rightly question the integrity and independence of our National Archives. What else is being hidden from us? Well might you ask.

Here, in Professor Hocking’s own words in The Conversation, is a precis of her inspirational endeavour.

The correspondence between the Queen and her representative, Sir John, should have been released to us in 2005, 30 years after their “creation” in accordance with the Archives Act. It is an affront and gross insult that they were not. Hocking, subsequently, was having none of it.

The plucky academic took on not only the Palace but also Whitehall and thus the British Government. She was to win the seemingly unwinnable.

On 29 May, the High Court ruled in favour of the people and Professor Hocking in her valiant case versus DG National Archives of Australia. The documents would, at last, be released.

High Court enforced accountability over untouchable Monarchy

Hocking wrote:

‘In rejecting this presumption of royal secrecy, the High Court has enforced a measure of transparency and accountability over a monarch and a monarchy once seen as untouchable. The significance of the decision and its ramifications is tremendous, beginning with the release of the letters themselves.’

Indeed it is.

Director-General David Fricker undertook to start the process and in direct contradiction to the NAA’s previous and steadfast legal stance in this matter, noisily proclaimed:

‘The National Archives is a pro-disclosure organisation. We operate on the basis that a Commonwealth record should be made publicly available, unless there is a specific and compelling need to withhold it. We work extremely hard to do this for the Australian people.’

Er…only if the High Court orders you to do so, sir.

Kerr was jealous of Gough

Last week, Fricker issued another statement further detailing the tranche of correspondence and confirming Tuesday’s release date.

Again, given the NAA was legally compelled to produce the documents and indecently fought against their release, there was a hollow boast in his claim that:

‘The National Archives is proud to function as the memory and evidence of the nation, to preserve and provide historical Commonwealth records to the public.’

At the risk of repeating myself…

However, in that statement, Fricker left us a clue giving us some hope, describing the documents as the ‘Kerr Palace Letters’, perhaps hinting that it was Kerr rather than the Queen who contrived to oust Whitlam.

Sir John could never match Whitlam’s grandeur

We have known for some time, that Kerr’s bloated and alcohol-fuelled ego and his proactive, obsessive determination to get rid of Gough Whitlam was quite politically spooky and displayed great animus towards his nemesis. He always struck me as being jealous of Whitlam.

Despite his top hat, his knighthood, his distinguished mop of grey hair, the 18th governor-general could never emulate or match the grandeur and gravitas of the erudite Whitlam.

Who was taller? Gough Whitlam or Sir John Kerr? Probably Margaret Whitlam.

In fairness, it must be stated that successive governments maintained the “suppression order” on the letters and the mistress/slave obeisance to Australia’s offshore Queen, as indeed have all eight or so directors-general of the NAA since the still contentious Dismissal. Embarrassing and sad. Lackeys one and all.

So why did the Palace fight so hard to keep this secret from us? Especially since it was really the enemy within and under the top hat that brought down our own government – not our monarch.

Here are the Palace Letters, please monitor your blood pressure

Here for your own perusal are all the Kerr Palace Letters. Please monitor your blood pressure while you read.

Already there are premature and perhaps naive assessments about the contents of the letters from Kerr – and the Queen’s knowledge of them.

The letters must be read in context and with an understanding of Palace intrigue, powerplay, subterfuge and diplomatic doublespeak.

For example, when it is cited that the Queen was not told of this or that by a particular person, who is prepared to go on the diplomatic record for posterity (embargoes notwithstanding), it is possible that she was told by someone else – or shown documents, or documents left on her desk for her to casually rather than officially peruse.

The importance of context

It is utterly ridiculous to countenance that the Queen would be unaware of the imminent dismissal of one of her Commonwealth properties. It is premature and naïve of commentators to read such documents on face value. They should be read in context with other correspondence, reports and analyses at the time, including from both the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

Now is the time to put in Freedom of Information requests to these agencies.

It needs to be remembered that the governor-general represents the Queen in Australia. The governor-general does not represent Australia, therefore his/her allegiance is first to the Crown, not Australia. Yes? No?

Should Britain ever compromise Australia’s security, perhaps even in alliance with a third country or corporation – say perhaps the United States and China and the governor-general of the day was made aware of possible conflicts of interest – what obligation and allegiance, if any, does the governor-general owe Australia? Should he/she inform Australia?

These are not only questions for a grown-up coming-of-age Australia or for the republic that will emerge after a Treaty with our First Nations. These are questions for now. For today.

Our National Archives hold a great many secrets. What the courageous Professor Hocking and her supporters have done is to turn that mighty key to the vaults that house and secrete so much of our past, including our shameful treatment of our Indigenous brothers and sisters, just for starters.

Her win in the High Court stands other seekers of truth, justice and history in good stead. Since her brave intervention, we all have a better chance of accessing these archives.

These archives belong to we people. They are ours. For better and worse. They do not belong to the Palace. They do not belong to the government of the day. They do not even belong to the National Archives and they most certainly do not belong to any governor-general who resides in the Queen’s house on Australian soil.

We can no longer continue to outsource our sovereignty to Mummy England. It is time we were weaned off Boadicea’s breast.

 

 

 

This article was originally published on Independent Australia.

Tess Lawrence is Contributing editor-at-large for Independent Australia and her most recent article is The night Porter and allegation of rape.

 

 

 

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Religious freedom laws: Morrison’s Christian majority does not exist

By Dr Meredith Doig

Since marriage equality was legalised, ‘religious freedom’ laws have been part of the conversation. But these laws do not represent us.

The introduction of same-sex marriage was a momentous occasion in Australia’s history, heralding equal respect for all Australians. But in the eyes of some, it was a dark turn of events. Since the 2017 plebiscite, conservative religious activists have stepped up their campaign for special protections through so-called “religious freedom” laws, playing on the fear of religious persecution.

As states have progressively enacted widely supported reforms on the legalisation of abortion, safe access zones around abortion clinics, gay conversion bans, and voluntary assisted dying, we have witnessed multiple attempts by conservative religious elements to stack political party branches.

Members of the Morrison government – and some in Labor, too – have enthusiastically bought into the narrative that religious freedoms are under threat. With such religious activists currently pushing hard for a federal Religious Discrimination Bill to provide positive rights for religious individuals and religious institutions to discriminate against the non-religious and the religiously apathetic, MPs would be wise to think again.

The first instalment of the Religiosity in Australia report, written by social researcher Neil Francis and published by my organisation, the Rationalist Society of Australia (RSA) revealed that the level of support for religion has been greatly overstated. Seven in 10 Australians (71%) say religion is not personally important to them and 62% do not belong to any religious organisation. Only 23% say they do belong and only 15% are actively involved.

The trend lines show that Australians considered weakly or modestly religious have been abandoning religion in droves for many years – and the results of this year’s census are expected to confirm Christianity’s fall to below 50% for the first time.

Most importantly, the report also revealed that the views of senior religious clerics on key policy issues like abortion rights and voluntary assisted dying are out of touch with the very people they claim to lead – those in their own pews.

The second in Francis’ Religiosity in Australia series – published earlier this month by the RSA – explores, among other things, Australians’ journey with religion from childhood to adulthood. Francis confirms that significant numbers of Australians have abandoned their childhood religion – including 66% of those who were ‘Notional’ and 47% who were ‘Occasional’ religionists.

71% of Australians say religion is not personally important to them and 62% do not belong to any religious organisation. Only 23% say they do belong, and only 15% are actively involved.

Analysing the push by religious activists for “religious freedom” laws, Francis argues that it’s the very decline of religion in Australia that is driving their political activism.

“No longer would Christian conservatives be able to refer to a presumed Christian ‘moral majority’: not that it has existed in reality for some time given the numbers of religious who never attend religious services and say they don’t belong to their religious organisation,” writes Francis.

“Therefore, it’s important to religious conservatives to achieve greater religious ‘protections’ now, in case the Coalition government loses office at the next federal election…”

However, Francis warns that efforts to increase the rights of the religious can trigger a counter effect, pointing to an international study of 166 countries that shows privileging Christianity leads to a reduction in the faith’s vitality.

When religious conservatives embarked on their campaign for special privileges, they may not have counted on the pushback from pro-secular Australians.

Where previously secular and non-religious groups were fragmented, now they are joining forces and coordinating on a whole new level.

In response to initial drafts of the Religious Discrimination Bill, atheists, humanists, rationalists and secularists spearheaded the #DontDivideUs campaign, with former High Court justice Michael Kirby the campaign’s public face.

More recently, the same groups raised more than $50,000 for a campaign that encouraged Australians to reflect honestly on their religious beliefs and practices and urged them to mark ‘no religion’ on the census if they were no longer religious.

This effort was necessary to address the effect of the biased census question that, in assuming everyone has a religion, artificially overstates the importance of religion in Australians’ lives, skewing policymaking and public funding.

I believe there is an even greater scope for people who care about secularism to work together to achieve common goals on other issues.

As Francis’ new report notes, the not-so-secret agenda of conservative religious activists are deeply unpopular among ordinary Australians, including the mainstream religions.

Politicians in Canberra and in state capitals would be wise to wake up to the tactics of conservative religious activists.

The rest of the country already has.

This article was originally published on Independent Australia as “Religious discrimination bill: The devil is in the details” and on The Big Smoke.

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Where has all the kindness gone?

By Ad astra

Here is another brief offering. It does not need to be lengthy because its message is straightforward. It asks the question: “Where has all the kindness gone?” and its corollary: ”Why not be kind to one another?”.

The September 25 issue of The Good Weekend featured an article titled The High Life by Jane Cadsow, which was about the excitement airline pilots experience as they fly their amazing machines around the globe. It included an image of the pilot’s console – a myriad of dials, lights and levers, arranged alongside and above them. The overwhelming aura was one of extreme complexity that bespoke the ingenuity and the skill of human thought and effort in creating such amazing machines, as well as the extraordinary skill of those that pilot them.

The image evoked in me the question: “If man can create such extraordinary things, why is it that is it so difficult to exhibit kindness and generosity to each other?” Here is my explanation. What’s yours?

A constant theme of the preacher at the church I attended in my youth was that selfishness was the worst sin of all.

To me that rings true. Selfishness is destructive.

Reflect on everyday politics, here and abroad. There we see political players trying to outdo each other to gain an advantage, grasping every opportunity to put down opponents, to demean them, to trash their reputation, to destroy their credibility, to render them impotent. It matters not how earnest their opponents are, how hard they try, how laudable their intentions, or how much they have achieved. If they are opponents, they must be put down, demeaned, castigated, humiliated, ignored, cast aside, and where possible, destroyed. Gratuitous sarcasm is a frequent accompaniment. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg is a contemporary master of this. Listen to the heavy mockery, ridicule, and scorn that pervades the language he uses to describe those he dislikes or hates! Any milk of human kindness he may have in his heart is intentionally missing.

This behaviour is not confined to politicians – a contemporary example is the media’s aggressive approach to Victorian Premier Dan Andrews. The Murdoch media leads the charge. No matter how often he appears at his podium to answer questions, no matter how long he stays there to address them, no matter how plausible and authentic his answers appear to be, there are always some who remain dissatisfied and continue to pepper him with acerbic queries that insinuate that he is being devious or outright dishonest. The tone of their questions is confronting, angry, redolent with disbelief. The same players front up every day to assault him with their nasty questions. Many are propelled by the Murdoch media. Andrews knows them all; so do we! Recently, they have honed in on rumours around branch stacking, aggressively insinuating that he is guilty. They are never short of nasty questions!

What we are witnessing is what we might reasonably label The political syndrome. Of course we know it is prevalent in other than political circles, but its occurrence there is so strident, so insistent, so discordant, so distressing, that this diagnostic label suits politics better than almost any other pursuit.

Is there any counter to ‘the political syndrome’? If so, what is it? Enlighten us with your responses.

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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Dear Gladys

By John Haly

Dear Gladys,

Our relationship has curdled, and I am concerned about your mixed messages. Despite maintaining it was finished between us (the voters, not Daryl), you remain in the house. Using our joint account to pay $10,000 a day for your expensive addiction to lawyers. When lovers tell each other it is over, they separate as soon as possible. We have moved on to Dom “Opus Dei” Perrottet. Our heart has changed allegiances; once we realised you were representing Daryl, and not us.

Obviously, we need to rethink this, adding a little candour to how our relationship has transpired. Yes, we (NSW) voted for you in high hopes you would be better for our economy (as you always promise but don’t deliver). You’d think we’d learn that, but like Charlie Brown, we want to hope Lucy isn’t lying to us, and we have another punt at that ball. Your words were beguiling, and we always fell for it. Some friends warned us, but we are all too forgiving in 2019. Just look at how heartbroken we were in 2021 when you said you were leaving us. Then you didn’t leave, toying with our feelings.

Deep down, we know it hasn’t been working well for years. Some of us had misgivings only a year ago. Both Bernard Keane and I expressed our doubts in October last year, three days apart from one another. OK, I admit I was a lot harsher than Bernard, as he seemed to think your most prominent sin was cheating on us with Daryl Maguire. But, even lately, Bernard has not been as tough or honest with you as he should be. Instead, Bernard sugarcoats it as “two remarkable misjudgments” as though they were your only ones, which “until 2020, was a glittering career”.

Are we dating the same woman?

#Koalakiller tag burnt into our memory.

Bernard and I must be “dating” different women named “Gladys”. I don’t want to dwell too long on matters raised before, so I will be quick. I thought we both loved koalas, but instead, others gave you the tag #koalakiller because of your environmental policies on logging forests. You promised me public transport but gave us tragically built ferries not designed for our bridges and trains not made fit for our tunnels. You said you valued our cousins in the public service. But you spent all our money on pay rises for 65 coalition politicians and a police commissioner and refused to fund public service workers. You said you were good with money, but there were overpayments for some properties and underpayments for others. Was it just empty promises when light rails, stadiums and museums were under-costed or facing undisclosed financial discrepancies?

Your cuts to Rural and Urban fire services and de-staffing fire management officers and National Parkes and Wildlife, all before the most extensive bushfire in NSW. All despite having been predicted a decade earlier. The dodgy water trading, fracking and conservation failures, all while you hid MP’s water interests and were not straight with us. You switched on the desalination plant in Kurnell when water ran out in country towns and Dams were contaminated and then made us pay the subsequent price rises. Westconnex did well, while we saw the prospect of rising toll road costs and lost properties to compulsory acquisition. So, Gladys, you just needed to do a little planning. Then you put our lives at risk via the Ruby Princess and Aged care deaths under the management of Aspen Medical despite the fraud associated with them. But Bernard thinks you made only “two remarkable misjudgments”. Really Bernard, how could you overlook all this? Love, really is blind!

Her “glittering career”!

 

Climate Chaos is now unavoidable, but NSW corruption, unnecessary!

 

Look, Gladys, I was really hoping we could all move on to “a glittering career”. But the end of 2020 and 2021 hasn’t been covered in glory, have they? Barely had I finished talking about our relationship concerns in October 2020, then the “Stronger Communities Fundpork-barrelling to coalition local councils showed up. You tried to hide your infidelity by shredding documents relating to those councils’ $252 million grants scheme. Even Scotty from Marketing could have told you that you don’t go on TV and refer to pork barrelling as the “common parlance” and at least try to look a little contrite.

Before the month was out, we discovered you’d previously given Wagga Wagga $40K worth of Grants out of a discretionary fund and to nobody’s surprise, it was Daryl’s electorate. (You’re our representative, not his.) True, the Premier’s fund was at your sole discretion, but you were not very discrete (as ICAC has the tapes). Daryl got millions for projects without business plans or discussions of substance. You seemed to “just throw money at Wagga” to benefit him. In November, the Upper house voted to refer you to ICAC for failing to disclose your relationship with Maguire.

By December, the ABC was reporting your involvement in the project for new headquarters for the Australian Clay Target Association Daryl Maguire championed. You have to admit Gladys he always one with an eye for a profit which ICAC tapes revealed you knew, despite seeking to maintain plausible deniability coyly with, “I don’t need to know about that bit“.

While the NSW government defunded it, the people clamoured for it.

In March 2021, ICAC confirmed they were still investigating Daryl. The highway running past his properties in his electorate came under scrutiny, as did your meeting over it with him. His Airbnb plans for his Ivanhoe properties didn’t strike you as a conflict of interest issue? Really, Gladys, really?

By May, when the upper house voted to provide for ICAC’s $7.2 million budget shortfall due to their declaration that its annual funding had been below inflation for most of the 30 years since its inception, but your friends in the lower house voted it down. It doesn’t help sell the image of integrity for someone for whom all proper processes were followed” to underfund the very organisation that could establish that. If you have done nothing wrong”, why undermine the one organisation that could prove it?

Daryl resigned from the party in July of 2018 over those scandals, and despite this entire sordid history, he remained on the crossbench. Does either of you understand the concept of “resignation”? Despite “quitting”, he stayed till August of 2018. Despite that, did it never occur to you to break it off with him and serve your constituents? Why wait till September of 2020 when the further announcement of ICAC investigations transpired?

Meanwhile, Wagga Wagga was doing very well, from their $12m cycling complex to their Australian Clay Target Association. Wagga Wagga seems to be the epicentre of sport in NSW. No surprise that more people in Wagga Wagga voted for the Liberal Candidate than for the Independent that won via preferences. Pork Barrelling works because the public is gullible and shallow.

Corrosive Covid

But enough of corruption charges, let’s look to your handling the pandemic and how you developed your competencies following the early mistakes of the “Ruby Princess”.

By June 2021, our attention moved on, as had yours. Your new beau, Arthur Moses, stepped up, being one of many who offered support. The AMA advised you to lock Sydney down when the Delta Variant made its way to Sydney. But you didn’t take the help they prescribed and relied on “business advice” for matters related to a virulent disease that had killed millions in India by June. Your own report coinciding with the Bondi cluster starting June 16 mentions “business” 21 times and “health” three times. Although “businesses” were still upset! You knew what happened when Dan delayed locking down the first time, yet you waited for School holidays to start a soft lockdown? Afterwards, you listened to medical advice. Who suggested that was a great idea, given you locked down the Northern Beaches during the previous Christmas over similar numbers? You waited another four weeks after the school holidays to get serious about a lockdown for what reason? How did this demonstrate your competence? Indeed, the 408 people who died from the virus before you resigned will never know.

So our infection rate rose over 1500 a day, Nurses and Doctors ran themselves ragged, and even though Morrison offered you the lion’s share of vaccines, NSW struggled to serve communities from the beginning.

 

The legacy of Gladys.

 

The other Eastern States provided their resources for contact tracing because you weren’t coping independently, but the public was told your State was the “Gold Standard”. You even needed help from the military to enforce lockdowns. Still, some people believed you were better than a Premier that had to break his back before he stopped doing public briefings. Whereas you stopped doing so because you needed time to run the State? To do what exactly? To open up around August/October when we still had hundreds of cases which seems a little contrary to the idea you expressed that “the number of positive coronavirus cases infectious in the community must drop to “as close to zero as possible” for the shutdown to be lifted”. But, of course, our new Premier, Dominic Perrottet, disagreed with that as a policy as the State recorded 477 new COVID-19 infections and six deaths on the weekend before restrictions were eased the following Monday. That was October 11, and you had resigned nearly two weeks before but were (and are, as of writing this) still a fully paid member of Parliament.

When are you leaving us?

So now I am writing the letter we should have written earlier if only we’d had the gumption and realised just how dysfunctional this relationship was. Instead, the media and public mourned your departure like it was a Shakespearian tragedy. I have never witnessed so significant a case of Stockholm Syndrome. Like the victimised battered wife who excused everything he did, outsiders are left wondering, why we didn’t leave long ago? All the indicators were there even from a year ago, yet too few remembered or noted.

 

Onset of Memory Loss upon exposure to ICAC.

 

But you are still in Parliament, you are still charging the State taxpayer for your legal fees, and you haven’t left yet. As a result, most days lately, we hear about your memory loss, despite a previous reputation for maintaining a detailed memory with meticulous focus on every minor policy detail “.

You said you were going, Gladys. Put the money back you have taken from the State coffers and leave! There is only so much corruption, pork barrelling and taking advantage of us that we can stomach.

Curiously wondering for how much longer before you pick up your toothbrush and go!

Regretfully,

The NSW Public.

 

This article was originally published on Australia Awaken – Ignite your Torches.

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How much more of this incompetence and stupid arrogance do we have to endure?

By Jim McIntosh

In an earlier missive, last month, I lamented that our PM had managed to leave our Navy short of effective submarine capacity. I think what he’s done deserves to be highlighted further.

Setting aside for the moment the blisteringly stupid behaviour of Morrison over the lying allegation made against him by French PM Macron and the obvious lies Morrison propagated about French ‘sledging’ against Australia and Australians (it wasn’t aimed at anyone other than Morrison), the real seriousness of the matter lies in what he has done to the RAN, and Defence overall.

The French submarines might have been overpriced; they might have been low technology, up against the superior forces of other nations in our region; we might still have had to extend the life of some of the Collins Class subs for a while. But, at least we would have had submarines. Now, the possibility that we’ll have any subs aside from those old Collins units is basically nil. All Scotty’s smirking blather about ‘going nuclear’, the grandstanding in front of the UK and US leaders, the latter of whom seemed to even forget Morrison’s name, well, it was purely for show. It holds virtually no substance at all.

So what Morrison has done in effect is to remove most of the submarine capability from the ADF at a time when tensions are on the increase. That much of the tension has actually been ratcheted up by Morrison himself, as he bangs the drums of war for what surely must be domestic audiences in a dangerous escalation of dog-whistling to the Australian electorate, doesn’t make it any less disconcerting. In essence, what Morrison has done is to put Australia at further military disadvantage for the sake of his perceived electoral survival, and he has left a hole in our defence capability that will not be repaired in this or even the next decade.

Haven’t we suffered enough? How much more of this incompetence and stupid arrogance do we have to endure before we can finally get a government in this country that works for the benefit of the nation, and not just to the advantage of its tin-pot leader?

 

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Tim Smith’s behaviour isn’t an outlier

By TPS Newsbot

Tim Smith refusing to resign over his drink driving is not an outlier, it’s indicative of a culture that remains in our politics.

After blowing 0.131 and crashing into the side of a house, Victorian MP Tim Smith vowed to quit politics. Sort of. He’s now changed his mind, refusing to stand down, claiming that he was ‘stupid’ but ‘not unwell’. Oddly, he has an ally. Tony Abbott has urged Liberal preselectors in Smith’s seat of Kew to not allow a “spirit of petty censoriousness” to end the public life of the “best Victorian (political) talents”. Smith himself has soliloquised: “Should one horrendously poor judgement render someone’s career over immediately?”

Tim Smith said he was not aware of how intoxicated he was because he had not eaten much that day.

“As a consequence, I blew much more than I ever thought I had consumed. I’m not offering any excuses,” he said.

He claimed he had only drunk “a few glasses” of wine at the dinner with friends.

“It’s selfish, it’s stupid, I’ve been fined, I’ve lost my licence for a year. I profoundly messed up in a life-altering way. I can’t take that back and I’m not trying to.

“It was an appalling lapse of judgment… I’m never touching a drop again.”

But while we get our heads around the above comments, Tim Smith’s drink driving and subsequent behaviour highlight a culture that has long been persistent in our politics.

In 2019, Labor MP Will Fowles made headlines for kicking a hole through a hotel door and was placed on administrative leave to treat his treatment for drug and alcohol issues. He did so with the “full support” of Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

 

 

Fowles said, via a statement that “I have, for a long time, been dealing with addiction and other mental health issues… I will take a leave of absence to properly deal with my health issues.”

That fell short with former Premier Jeff Kennett (who also founded mental health advocacy group Beyond Blue), who slammed him for referencing his mental health issues.

“What I object to very much indeed is him using the coverall of mental health illness in any way contributing to this act… Mental health does not lead to acts of violence, criminality or antisocial behaviour, in a majority of cases. Alcohol and drugs do, but not mental health,” he told 3AW at the time.

The Age has noted that “Labor sources indicated there have been concerns around parliament relating to Mr Fowles’ struggle with alcohol abuse since he was elected in the November 2018 landslide swing that returned the Andrews government with an increased majority.”

Fowles returned to work two months later, has repeatedly claimed that he hasn’t drunk since. He remains the member for Burwood.

Dan Andrews has repeatedly vowed to institute a scheme of random alcohol testing in parliament as early as 2014, and as late as 2016. The plan was also a commitment prior to the 2014 election, with Andrews promising that MPs would lose a week’s pay or face suspension if they were found intoxicated at work.

In 2016, Opposition Leader Matthew Guy noted that he had no objection to the plan, but outwardly questioned how much Mr Andrews believed in the plan, stating that “The Premier has had more than two years to implement this idea,” he said. “We agree it should be introduced along with random drug testing, and while Daniel Andrews is at it, he should also introduce random alcohol and drug testing of everyone on government construction sites – which he canned.”

When quizzed by The Age in 2016, Mr Andrews’ spokesperson said: “The Andrews Labor Government will deliver on each and every one of its commitments.”

In 2017, a bipartisan committee to analyse the idea dismissed it as “impractical”, with The Herald Sun noting that the “policy to breath-test MPs was informally discussed then dismissed at the House Committee in the past six months and hasn’t been raised by the government since. The government has not pushed the idea since the election.”

Practicality aside, what we clearly have is a cultural problem.

In 2016, The Age asked an unknown Labor MP about their thoughts about the plan being instituted. “Surely we’ve got bigger fish to fry,” that MP said. The example of Fowles’ door, the pieces of the marble table smashed when Tony Abbott was cast aside, the car that Smith drove into a house, speaks to the issue. It shouldn’t be left to these ministers to apply their own standards, make grandstanding apologies, and hopefully be changed by the experience. In 2016, Greens leader Greg Barber said it was up to party leaders to ensure their MPs adhered to standards, noted that “Green MPs don’t loll around the chamber drunk.”

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Alan Jones quits, writes 1500-word resignation letter on Facebook

By TBS Newsbot

After Sky News chose not to renew his contract, Alan Jones took to Facebook to announce that he was quitting.

If Ernest Hemingway said that courage stemmed from being graceful under pressure, Alan Jones quitting Sky News (after they chose not to renew his contract) in a rambling 1500 word Facebook post is surely the opposite. Carved in the tone of a jilted spouse, justifying all the positives he brought to the relationship, Jones confirmed that “the management at Sky News have indicated to me that they will not renew my contract, which ends on November 30.”

Jones wrote, “When I arrived at Sky News and was signed to a 17-month contract, it was made quite clear to me that the 8PM slot was, in the words of management, a ‘dead’ spot. It was clear from the outset that my signing at Sky News brought over a new audience to the station. Indeed, one observation was made last year that ‘since the launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia, the network has seen major growth across its digital platforms.’ And, ‘The launch of Alan Jones on Sky News Australia in July saw the channel’s radio ratings double on the iHeart Radio app, making Sky News Radio the #1 Australian news/talk station on the platform.’ In my brief time that I have been at Sky News, the audience at 8PM has significantly increased.”

“On the social media front, it was said that November 2020 was ‘another extraordinary month for Alan Jones on social media,’” Jones wrote, before adding: “In that month, there were 12.6 million views of Alan Jones video on digital platforms, with 68% of the audience coming from YouTube. I made mention of information on the US election being censored by ‘powerful interests’ in the media. That post reached 4.2 million people on Facebook and delivered 2.4 million video views with 617,000 of those watching for longer than one minute, which was described as ‘an extraordinary result’ for Facebook where the audience typically has a short attention span. Sky News rightly boasts significant personalities with strong and legitimate opinions. As a result, people often search the internet in order to refresh themselves with something we have said. In other words, put simply, if you’re not saying anything that is relevant to the viewer or the public, they are not likely to be much interested in checking out your content.”

Speaking in the third person, Jones claimed it was cancel culture that held the knife that bled him. “In recent times my material hasn’t been widely published on these sites as the company has felt under threat from being cancelled. Nonetheless, the figure I have indicated above is significant. People have been googling Alan Jones and immediately the bulk of them go to the Sky News website to access Alan Jones’ opinions,” he said.

So, what happens now? Probably nothing. In 2019, Jones was surprisingly featured on the 7News election coverage, who took the opportunity to draw the conclusion that Scott Morrison’s win meant that climate change wasn’t a thing.

At the time, Labor MP Chris Bowen asked “what is the Morrison government going to do on Monday if it is elected?”, Jones jumped in to cheerfully point out that “well, we won’t have to have a 50 percent renewable energy target… it was a vote on climate change tonight!…you said it was a referendum on climate change, but apart from Zali Steggall, I mean, you people can’t persist with this notion of 45 percent emissions reductions or a 50 percent renewable energy target.”

“Alan, one of the differences between you and I is that I believe in climate change, and I believe it’s caused by human activity,” Bowen said again.

 

 

“Well, I believe in the scoreboard!” Jones responded, pointing at the election results. “Have a look at the scoreboard!”

Considering that time is a flat circle, and the 2021 election will be fought over the same issues, we can assume that he’ll continue to have a spot in the mainstream media. So, tell me how cancel culture works again?

 

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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