Scott Morrison’s “promise to Australia”

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After a paltry increase, Morrison vows to crack…

By Mark Thompson While the rate will be raised, the Morrison government has…

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By Denis Bright Josh Frydenberg has presented a re-election budget. Its assumptions have…

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By Andrew Wicks Last night’s budget vowed to “help more Australians realise their…

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Prime Minister Frydenberg

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After a paltry increase, Morrison vows to crack down on welfare recipients

By Mark Thompson

While the rate will be raised, the Morrison government has promised to be tougher on those who need welfare in order to survive.

In handing down the Federal Budget, the government offered welfare recipients both the carrot and the stick. In the same breath where they promised an increase to JobSeeker (by $50 a fortnight), the Morrison government announced stricter measures, designed to crack down on those who are “not genuine” about receiving welfare.

It’s worth noting that the minor increase will be applied to the original pre-COVID welfare rate, which gave recipients $40 a day on which to survive. A raised welfare rate has been repeatedly asked for from welfare groups, the opposition, and even former Liberal Party Prime Minister, John Howard, who said that the “freeze had gone on for too long.” The reality of $40 a day is brutal. In 2019, Lisa Carberry spoke to The Guardian about her life on welfare, stating that: “I now have $9.95 to last me for the next two weeks… I have to either not pay a bill or access charities for food and things in order to continue to tread water… that’s really what it is. It’s treading water. It’s not swimming.”

After the increase, recipients will receive $44 a day.

Indeed, as Evin Priest of News.com.au discovered, there are three rental properties in the entire country that those on JobSeeker can actually afford.

Yet, while more and more Australians face the very real possibility of homelessness, the Morrison government has announced that they’re going to be tougher on those who receive welfare. The government says it is “strengthening mutual obligations” allegedly to provide “better support for job seekers in their search for work.”

Per News, “The government will spend $197 million to ‘enable’ job seekers to take part in an ‘intensive activity’ after six months of unemployment, including participating in approved intensive short courses, with some job seekers required to participate in the Work for the Dole program.”

Heinously, they’re going ahead with a ‘dob-in’ line where employers can snitch on those who they feeling aren’t trying hard enough. In February, Greens Senator Rachel Siewert described the move as, “an abuse of power that will hurt the most vulnerable in our community”.

“The job provider system is already rife with bullying (and) harassment of people being ignored or treated very poorly by their job providers and now the government is empowering employers with the means to intimidate and bully job seekers,” she said.

The increase will be applied to the original pre-COVID welfare rate, which gave recipients $40 a day on which to survive. After the increase, they will receive $44 a day.

Social Services Minister Anne Rushton said, “In doing this, we have balanced their incentive to work and making sure we have a sustainable welfare system into the future… not only today but into the future.”

Labour market economist Jeff Borland said there is “no evidence” that the increased coronavirus supplement stopped job seekers looking for work and even a “substantial increase” in unemployment benefits would not provide a disincentive to take a job.

In conversation with the Senate community affairs legislation committee, Borland said that there was “no evidence the higher jobseeker rate in 2020 has had any appreciable effect on incentives to take up paid work.”

As Paul Karp of The Guardian noted, “The evidence, supported by the social policy academic Peter Whiteford, contradicts concerns from Coalition backbench MPs and anecdotal evidence from employers that jobseekers are turning down work.”

In 2019, an article resurfaced that stated that the Morrison government will institute a plan to relocate jobseekers to go and pick fruit. The language of the piece is staggering. “Dole bludgers who refuse to take jobs at farms will have their Centrelink payments slashed as part of a national push to help Aussie farmers prepare for the upcoming harvest season,” Jack Houghton wrote in The West Australian.

Within the article, Morrison said that “Our government has heard from farmers…about how tough it is now to find workers, particularly at the height of harvest season for some crops…we want to highlight exactly where the jobs are and make sure jobseekers know where to be looking. While we’re tackling the labour shortage this also ensures job seekers on taxpayer support have no excuse to refuse opportunities.”

At the time, the fruit farmers excoriated Morrison’s plan. Under the proposal, the unemployed would be shepherded out of their homes and their communities under the threat of having their benefits cut. Whether this plan is dead, or not, is largely irrelevant, as it points to a larger pattern. Clearly, the Coalition loves a deterrent, one formed on the assumption that those who are unemployed are unemployed by choice.

“35% of the Federal Budget,” said Joe Hockey back in 2014, claiming we spent more on welfare than “on any other single policy area including health, education or defence.” It actually turned out to be 19.5%, which made us the 25th out of 30 OCED nations. In a 2018 measure by the same institution, our welfare spending shrank from 23.5% in 2015 to 17.8% of our GDP.

In 2014, the Coalition instituted stricter welfare conditions that saw applicants saddled with a six-month waiting period. At the time, The Guardian revealed that “failure to attend Centrelink appointments and mandatory Jobseeker activities will see prospective welfare recipients punished with a further two-month delay to their payments. This measure will disproportionately punish job seekers in remote areas with limited access to services.”

In February of that year, the ABS noted that there were 140,000 jobs for 700,000 applicants. Despite this, Hockey explained the measures as “an incentive… and if they have to move to get a job, that’s just the way it is.” In the words of the then Federal Minister of Employment Eric Abetz in the same year, the unemployed should just “try harder.”

In May 2020, Scott Morrison uncovered the ‘JobMaker’ plan, with the Prime Minister labelling it a “plan for a new generation of economic success.”

It was later revealed that the program created 609 jobs, well short of the 450,000 it promised.

Oddly, the paltry figure is viewed as a win. As Treasury secretary Steven Kennedy put it, “the program has done its work, frankly.”

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Seeking the Post-COVID Sunshine: The Re-Election Budget With a Dash of Social Justice Rhetoric

By Denis Bright

Josh Frydenberg has presented a re-election budget. Its assumptions have been challenged by the grim realities of the budget papers themselves and some critical reporting in sections of the mainstream media. The political rhetoric is about untested future possibilities from the conservative crew which brought an unequal recovery from the excesses of the resources boom, the GFC and now the challenges posed by COVID in the global economy.

The unequal income tax changes were locked into the system before the arrival of the COVID challenge with reluctant bipartisan support. Tax relief of up to $510 per year for the lowest paid workers coexists with continued largesse to the government’s support base with the add-on benefits of legalized tax avoidance strategies. These tax inequalities will increase in Phase 3 of the LNP’s tax reform strategies when everyone in the $45,001 to $200,000 taxable income range will share a tax rate of 30 per cent in 2024-25.

Tax avoidance strategies available to taxable income recipients of over $200,000 will mean that few Australians in the future will actually pay the highest tax rates. The highest income earners also have the advantage of tapered Medicare premium rates which the ATO is always slow to update in the next edition of its Medicare calculator for 2021-22. Medicare is also negligent in its failure to remove out of pocket expenses to patients accessing bulk-billing services for access to specialists and their diagnostic services.

The possibilities of an early election are increased by the lack of sustainability in the rebound from the global COVID recession. A forecast rebound of +4.25 per cent in real GDP in 2021-22 will taper to +2.25-2.5 per cent in the short-term future. Delivering Phase 3 of the flatter taxation scales in 2023-24 under a re-elected LNP government risks the attainment of the government’s reduced unemployment rate targets and the possibilities improved real wages (Budget Outlook Paper):

 

 

Close trading and investment ties with China during the volatile Abbott years after 2013, protected Australia from the worst phases of global economic volatility long before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some acknowledgment of the positive benefits of our relationships with China does not appear in the Budget Outlook Paper:

 

Chart 2.1: Real GDP growth in 2020, Australia and the G7 economies

 

Optimistic projections for spending on the essentials of health, aged care and infrastructure is always subject to the effects of future episodes of global economic volatility and the increasing militarization of our strategic policies. The biggest irony in the current budget has been picked up by ABC News (11 May 2021) in its coverage of the hesitant delivery of home-care packages for elderly and disabled Australians:

Tens of thousands of additional home care packages and mandating the time staff spend with aged care residents are at the heart of the federal government’s nearly $18 billion response to the damning findings from the aged care royal commission.

Key points:

80,000 additional home care packages will be released

Every aged care resident to receive 3 hours and 20 minutes of care a day

The government rejects levy proposal and will pay for the $17.7 billion package through revenue

Tuesday’s budget revealed the sector will receive $17.7 billion over five years, after the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety estimated one-in-three people living in aged care in Australia experience neglect, physical or emotional abuse.

Eighty thousand extra home care packages will be provided over the next two years, despite the royal commission finding that, as of June 2020, almost 103,000 older people were waiting for a package.

However, Health Minister Greg Hunt insisted that would be enough to clear the current backlog.

With the success of the mass COVID-19 vaccination roll out in NSW prompted by an innovating app developed by a smaller Queensland enterprise, all Australians will cheer on the commitment to more IT training packages. The Australian economy should not be relying on multinational providers for the delivery of such innovative servers so that users are actually paying for the profit taking by firms with a self-proclaimed expertise in their cherished fields. It’s pretty appalling that multinational expertise in low technology products like fare readers should be in the hands of US based transport and military security giants like the Cubic Corporation with its headquarters in San Diego.

Josh Frydenberg’s budget delivery with those rhythmic nods from Scott Morrison and senior ministers did have a hypnotic character about a new transition to the social market in Australia. It was just a dash of social justice in a recipe for unequal economic recovery that might be harder than expected to sell to the electorate. The devil is in the detail of future projects for the delivery of great outcomes which can be wound back at a moment’s notice as our naval vessels are sent on dangerous freedom of navigation patrols to annoy our most profitable trading and investment partner.

Backing investment losers on the global scene is not good economics when the Australian economy is so short of new major private sector investment. Our new partnerships with the Quad Four of Australia, Japan, India and the USA should not be at the expense of proven economic allies that have carried Australia from over a decade of recovery from the GFC prior to the COVID-19 pandemic (Current RBA Charts to May 2021):

Now its over to Anthony Albanese and Jim Chalmers to deliver a much needed wake-up call to take the Australian electorate out of its potential hypnotic trance with that dash of social justice that came in the budget mix from Canberra. Watch out for the hang-over effects if the LNP makes it across the line at an early federal election while the initial rebound to last year’s lockdowns are temporarily in place as shown by the projections from the Budget Outlook Paper which was noted earlier in this article.

 

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

 

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Don’t believe the hype, housing affordability was ignored in this budget

By Andrew Wicks

Last night’s budget vowed to “help more Australians realise their goal of home ownership.” However, we’ve been told the same thing for the last three years.

In last night’s budget, we got a whiff of something familiar. The Coalition wants to help us find our forever home. There are three main points that they want us to focus on. HomeBuilder, the reduced rates needed to secure a home loan, and using more of our superannuation to enter the housing market.

HomeBuilder (another of Morrison’s grating portmanteaus) was instituted to “boost the private construction sector, motivating people to build new houses or significantly renovate existing homes, creating work for tradespeople and others in the industry,” per Kelsie Iorio of the ABC.

However, the conditions were steep, as you’d have to invest $150,000 in the renovation, in order to secure a further $25,000 in funding. While budget papers show that 120,000 applications were received, the Morrison government isn’t telling us how many of those applications were successful.

Elsewhere, there are 10,000 more spaces for the New Home Guarantee scheme, which allows us to buy or build a home with a 5% deposit. The kicker is that existing homes are not part of the scheme. This matters, of course, because in the real world, those looking to buy their first home often live in either capital cities or built-up urban areas, you know, where the jobs are. No matter, as the budget wants us to focus on the nebulous concept of the rural housing boom, which sounds a lot like Barnaby Joyce telling us to move to Tamworth.

The prize swine of the budget is the helping hand offered to single parents. Per the budget, if you have children, you can have a house for 2% of the value. I mean, we can ignore the way that debt and interest works (a lower deposit means more debt, and thus, more interest), but we should also note that the offer is limited to a minuscule 10,000 applicants.

But hey, it’s something, right? Something to increase housing affordability? Well, no. For a lucky few (and an aspirational many), it sounds good – the idea of a property for less. But, if we look deeper, we’re being sold a pie made of pork, or a house made of lies.

As it stands, the average first home buyer can use $30,000 of their super to put toward their deposit, provided they live in the house that they’re planning to buy. The new budget has increased that measure to $50,000. Which makes sense, until you think about it.

As Richard Holden, Professor of Economics at UNSW put it, “If everyone can take out big slabs of superannuation to buy houses, then the prices of houses will just go up more… this kind of subsidy just transfers the retirement savings of younger people to older people, and does nothing for affordability.”

Social housing has been summarily ignored in this budget and the two previous.

In 2019, Josh Frydenberg said that house prices would continue to fall, and might take a $60,000 tumble by 2020. Announcing the budget, he said the fall in dwelling investment was a concern for the economy, and warned it was the “worst possible time” to switch to Labor. To be fair, house prices fell by a percentage point in the month of the budget, but if we step back and look at the entire timeline, the image is closer to Picasso’s Guernica than Josh’s potentially thorned rose garden.

In March 2016 the median value of a capital city property was $550,000. Five years later, the same property is worth $693,936, an increase of 26 percent. In 2021, the median deposit needed for a house in New South Wales is $128,469.

So, clearly, while working the average job can no longer afford an average house, what we need is housing we can afford. Affordable housing, if you will. So, what has been done to remedy this?

Well, absolutely nothing. But alongside housing affordability, social housing has also been low-balled in this budget and the two before it.

In April 2019, Frydenberg declared that “housing affordability is a priority for our government”. To prove it, he announced no new measures in that year’s budget. Instead, he gave the same amount of money to the National Housing and Homelessness Agreement. The agreement (and the investment) has been repeatedly panned for not being enough to match the demand.

In 2018, Vivienne Milligan wrote, “… while there are positive directions in the new agreement, the funding deficit remains an issue. Despite not increasing its funding, the Commonwealth hopes the states and territories will increase theirs. The Commonwealth, however, has failed to extend or replace other large housing programs that operated in the past decade. These included the now-closed National Rental Affordability Scheme, which resulted in over 36,000 new affordable rental houses, and a A$5 billion national partnership to improve housing supply and conditions in remote (largely Indigenous) communities.”

A year later, the NT St Vincent de Paul chief executive Fran Avon told the ABC that her organisation was at capacity, and was turning away around six calls every day because of funding constraints.

“For some people, the situation is I need accommodation tonight and we have to say we can get you something in six weeks’ time… by that time their situation is either much worse or they’ve had to find alternative solutions,” she said.

After Frydenberg’s 2019 announcement, Mission Australia chief executive James Toomey said the government had neglected the needs of thousands of people. “Australia’s housing system remains broken and in urgent need of repair and investment,” he said. “We urgently need a commitment to at least 500,000 new social and affordable homes by 2030, so that the thousands of people and families who simply can’t afford private rent aren’t pushed into and unsafe living situations.”

A year later, Frydenberg refused to increase funding for the scheme in the 2020-2021 budget, granting the scheme the same $1.6 billion as the previous two budgets. In this year’s edition, the need was finally moved, with an extra $124 million added to the scheme. This is particularly the case with indigenous housing, as the $237 million invested in 2020 represents the highest point, with the funding down to $110 million by 2023.

But as the problem grows, the funding is actually set to decrease in the coming years. As Kate Colvin, a spokesperson for the Everybody’s Home campaign put it, “… social housing investment is trending down. With skyrocketing rents in regional areas, less than 1% rental vacancies, and high unemployment, this is a huge missed opportunity to deliver homes and jobs to families.”

As The Guardian asked, “Australia’s housing is one the most unaffordable in the world, so how is the Coalition going to fix it?”

This morning, we know the answer.

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Prime Minister Frydenberg

By Ad astra

Does anyone doubt that Josh Frydenberg covets the role of Prime Ministership of Australia?

If he succeeds, would he be the first Jewish PM in this country?

Search though I have, I cannot discover whether there has ever been an Australian PM of the Jewish faith. Perhaps one of you may know. If anyone is interested in this question, you may find this article in Eureka Street a helpful resource.

Wondering if Billy Hughes might have been Jewish, I researched his life, but discovering that he was married to Mary Hughes in Christ Church, South Yarra in 1911, that query was put to rest.

It looks then that Josh might be a first, if he succeeds.

Reflect on his demeanour during press conferences. He exudes confidence and pleasure, especially when presenting figures on the economy, which by his account is doing superbly well. Because the data support his contention, and of course his superior management of it, he literally swells with pride as he makes his announcements!

Frydenberg’s half-smile portrays not only his pleasure, but a degree of self-confidence that PM Morrison should beware of. Morrison’s demeanour is looking increasingly uncertain, sometimes fragile, as he grapples with problem after problem, announcement after announcement, and a plethora of undisciplined utterances that have landed him in hot water, the most recent and memorable being his condemnatory outburst against Christine Holgate. No amount of bluster, no number of announcements, no amount of stilted bravado, can disguise Morrison’s discomfiture. And the Holgate affair is not fading: Holgate-gate keeps opening doors and letting in a suffocating stench of Hypocrisy. Being PM is not the fun Morrison might have imagined when he chatted amiably in anticipation with his ‘ethics adviser’, Jen.

Of course Frydenberg is content to watch Morrison hang himself, all the better to witness that from a respectable distance. He has no need for strokes of appreciation from his boss when his portfolio provides them in abundance.

So we are now witnessing an intriguing dynamic: a floundering PM, who scarcely knows what next will assail him, and uncertain how to deal with it when it does, alongside an increasingly confident Treasurer who rejoices in unveiling encouraging economic data that he believes bespeaks his superb economic management.

What will Morrison do to counter the Frydenberg threat? Indeed, does he see it at all? Or will he wallow in the dangerous belief that as Prime Minister he must be safe from internal challenge? If so, more fool he; after all, Prime ministers are never toppled, are they?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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

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Why my organisation leaked Scott Morrison’s “evil one” speech

By Dr Meredith Doig

Last week, my organisation published Scott Morrison’s infamous “God’s work” speech. But as citizens of a supposedly secular nation, our crusade continues.

Imagine if our Prime Minister were a hard-line atheist giving speeches about political matters at an atheist convention that he or she wanted to keep from the wider public. Imagine if this Prime Minister’s government were in the midst of drafting legislation that would have devastating impacts on religious communities. I am certain that Christian groups, other faith groups, the media, and the public would be eager to know what such a Prime Minister had to say. And so would the Rationalist Society.

Last week, my organisation made the decision to publish the video of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s speech to the Australian Christian Churches conference, held earlier in April on the Gold Coast.

We published the video because it was overwhelmingly in the public interest to do so.

Australians, on the whole, are uncomfortable with extreme worldviews, whether they are religious or political ideologies.

We also like to think that the religious views of individuals won’t unduly interfere in government. But, even in our liberal democracy, it’s quite possible for a politician to be elected without them fully disclosing their worldview.

We have a right to know what ideas guide the actions and decision-making of those who stand for public office.

If a Christian political candidate believes planet earth was ‘created’ a few thousand years ago and is eagerly awaiting the return of Jesus at the Apocalypse, voters have a right to know. Likewise, if a militant atheist candidate harbours ill intent toward religious people, voters have a right to know.

We published the video because it was overwhelmingly in the public interest to do so. We also like to think that the religious views of individuals won’t unduly interfere in government. We have a right to know what ideas guide the actions and decision-making of those who stand for public office.

Far too often religious views are deemed off-limits. In 2015, for example, then Liberal candidate Andrew Hastie refused to be drawn on questions about whether he believed in creationism, arguing that his religious views were irrelevant to voters.

Far from being irrelevant, the religious beliefs of political leaders are of great interest to Australians – as demonstrated by the public reaction to the video of Prime Minister Morrison’s speech.

There is a legitimate concern about how such beliefs may impact policy-making in the Morrison government.

The Prime Minister has pledged to deliver a Religious Discrimination Bill to parliament before the next election, even though the first two drafts drew widespread criticism from all quarters, including business groups, legal groups, human rights groups, LGBTIQ groups, and even religious groups.

If either of those divisive draft bills had become law, religious people and organisations would have been provided a ‘sword’ they could use to discriminate against and harm a wide range of people. Anti-discrimination laws are meant to be ‘shields’, not swords.

While the vast majority of Australians, including many Christians, support the concept of secularism – the separation of church and state – it is not clear the Prime Minister feels the same. In his maiden speech to parliament, he went out of his way to argue Australia “is not a secular country”.

In response to the release of the video, I have been heartened to hear public figures like Anthony Albanese and Kevin Rudd assert the importance of upholding a secular society which protects people of all faiths and none, and treats them equally.

Disappointingly, very few politicians speak up for secularism, even though Australia is a multi-faith and, increasingly, a non-religious society. With this year’s census expected to confirm a further decline in affiliation with Christianity, people increasingly want freedom from religion as well as freedom of religion.

The need for pro-secular champions in the community and in politics is becoming increasingly important, as religious institutions maintain and seek to enhance their privileged place in government institutions.

For example, in parliaments and councils across the nation, non-Christian representatives – atheists, agnostics, and people from minority faiths – are forced to observe exclusively Christian prayers before getting down to their daily work of representing their constituents.

In our military and our schools, government-funded pastoral care is reserved almost exclusively for the Christian religion, despite the fact that government schools are mandated as secular and the vast majority of recruits into our armed forces are now non-religious.

As Australia’s oldest freethought organisation that promotes reason and evidence as to the basis for policymaking, the Rationalist Society of Australia will continue to inquire into the beliefs of this country’s political leaders. We will, unwaveringly, continue work to advance the cause of secularism.

 

Meredith Doig is president of the Rationalist Society of Australia and also writes a daily bulletin called ‘RSA Daily’.

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

 

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Seeking the Post-COVID Sunshine: Talking Up the Unequal Economic Recovery

By Denis Bright

The 2021-22 Budget will offer positive trendlines on the extent of economic recovery even after the removal of JobKeeper support on 28 March 2021. Only time will tell if the recovery is sustainable. Return to that traditional rhetoric about the horrors of debt and deficit will inevitably follow the re-election of the federal LNP for a fourth consecutive term.

The mainstream media has currently written off the likelihood of an early spring election in 2021. Scott Morrison’s media advisers will be scanning the polls for the emergence of any winnable scenarios before the early signs of economic recovery are more thoroughly tested.

Trends in employment data will of course be mobilized to assist in the re-election of a federal LNP Government that is not derailed by too many senate cross bench members. The numerous cross-bench senators from 2016 will be up for re-election in the next half-senate election. That election in 2016 secured a loss of three senators to the LNP and a temporary rise in support for One Nation (+4) and the Xenophon team (+2).

Employment data from March 2021 can be used to offer the halo possible economic recovery.

The current shallowness of this better employment data from March 2021 can be qualified by a more detailed analysis.

Feb-21 Mar-21 Monthly change Monthly change (%) Yearly change Yearly change (%)
Seasonally adjusted
Employed people 13,006,900 13,077,600 70,700 0.5% 74,300 0.6%
Unemployed people 805,200 778,100 -27,100 -3.4% 62,100 8.7%
Unemployment rate 5.8% 5.6% -0.2 pts na 0.4 pts na
Underemployment rate 8.5% 7.9% -0.6 pts na -0.9 pts na
Participation rate 66.1% 66.3% 0.2 pts na 0.4 pts na
Monthly hours worked in all jobs 1,762 million 1,800 million 38 million 2.2% 22 million 1.2%

Graph from abs.gov.au

 

A Closer Look at the Employment Trendlines

The global unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent nationally always grossly underestimates the real extent of the unemployment problems. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) defines a person who is unemployed as one who, during a specified reference period, is not employed for one hour or more, is actively seeking work, and is currently available for work. It excludes people on training programmes authorized by employment agencies and periods of temporary illness faced by job-seekers like other members of the wider community.

Despite the upbeat interpretation of the March unemployment data by Minister Stuart Robert, full-time employment fell by 20,800 during March 2021. The increase in employment was due to the increase in part-time jobs to a record high of 4.2 million Australians. This represents 13.5 per cent of all employment and of course includes both preferred and involuntary part-time employment. Involuntary underemployment is increased in Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory and was stationary in SA which has the worst unemployment rate of 6.3 per cent plus an underemployment rate of 8.6 per cent.

Our leaders should be quizzed more critically through the mainstream media on the extent of involuntary part-time employment.

Employer organizations have funded this 24/7 site to assist businesses to navigate the quite weak controls of the Fair Work Commission over workers’ rights in neoliberal workplaces:

 

 

More details were requested about Employsure but without success. Its office location is Level 1 at 180 Ann Street in Brisbane’s CBD. I will check out next week and offer a comment as a postscript to this article.

A range of corporate businesses and the Federal Department of Home Affairs are also there to check out the details of prospective recruits for vacant positions. Firms like the Barrington Group with its overseas corporate links are always prepared to assist Australian employers:

Background checking is essentially a security screen for job candidates, especially for applicants seeking a position that requires high security or a position of trust. These employees will often go on to be trusted with sensitive company information and company assets, including financial assets. Failing to check their background thoroughly could result in major issues down the road – both in terms of financial and reputational damage.

Conducting personnel checking in an Australian business also relays the message that your organisation values honesty and integrity – laying the expectation for these values to present themselves at every level of your business.

The Department of Home Affairs has a well-established Employment Suitability Clearance (ESC) which invites your perusal if you are seeking that highly paid dream job.

Barringtons boasts of its associations with the federal government in Australia to assist with the clearance of applicants for sensitive jobs.

On the other side of town, major service providers have a preference for low wage part-time casual employment in key service industries such as security, traffic control and road maintenance. It extends to sub-contracting for the delivery of essential services.

Progressive Australians would be well aware of the extent of injustice in these casual workplaces. Without high rates of trade union membership, casuals work without sick leave, holiday pay and at home sites are offered a thirty-minute lunch break without pay. Casual workers have to endure these work sites for years without any improvement in conditions.

Federal funding for the states and territories is so tight that our state governments are still on the receiving end of traditional anti-debt and deficit policies from Canberra.

Queensland received no financial assistance for its cross-river rail project with construction work in the early stages on new inner-city underground rail stations at a cost of over $6 billion over several years.

Last year’s federal budget figures showed that the prospects for improvements in funding for the states and territories from specific purpose grants are not increasing fast enough to meet reasonable delivery costs.

Queensland hospitals are under real strain from an increasing popularity of access to free hospitals for hospitalization and out-patient services as patients are out of pocket at most private clinics which cannot survive permanently on current levels of Medicare remuneration for totally bulk-billed services.

GST entitlements to the states and territories will add a temporary positive hue to public finances. These additional allocations to GST will add an additional $70-75 billion to allocations to the states and territories for 2021-22. The likely positive trends in GST allocations are linked to the benefits of additional iron ore sales to China.

In previous federal budgets prior to the arrival of COVID, the federal LNP was keen to erode its revenue base with overly generous taxation concessions and tax avoidance protocols to its corporate and private household support bases. This year Treasurer Frydenberg promises to be more even handed with less talk of debt and deficit.

Let’s see what happens next week when the federal budget is delivered for 2021-22. Regardless of the next election date, it is likely to be the last budget before the national elections. Expect a soft-sell approach from a plan to gain re-election without the distraction of too many cross-bench senators.

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

 

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Religion and Politics: A Letter to Scott Morrison

By Annasis Liz Kelly

Take me by the hand and let me tell you a story of a man who thought he was God’s gift to, well, Australia. There is a certain person who has a very high position in the government who believes that he was anointed to this position because of the God that he pays lip service to.

Whilst I have no issues with a person’s personal belief system, as I hope none take issue with mine. I do, however find it disgraceful to this very country to stand as the Prime Minister and give sermons while flaunting his lip servicing beliefs. You, Mr. Morrison can claim to be Christian all you want but you need to practice it as if it is Jesus who you were helping. The very fundamental aspect of Christendom. To be like Christ. The man who walked with the hopeless and gave them hope. The man who walked with the sick and healed them. The man who fed the poor and hungry because it was the right thing to do. The man who rebuked those who paid lip service and knew that those who did, their hearts weren’t pure.

You, Mr. Morrison have forgotten the words of Christ, so here is some to remind you.

Mark 10:25; “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God.” As a man of faith, you believe that you are going to go into heaven because you believe in Jesus?

Yet, you have, Matthew 19:14; “but Jesus said suffer little children and forbid them not, to come unto me, for of such is the kingdom of heaven”. Made children suffer.

And forsaken one of his greatest commandments “love thy neighbor as thyself”. It is that important in that it is cited three times in the New Testament in Matthew 22:35-40, Mark 12:28-34 and Luke 10:27.

Basically Mr. Morrison, as a Christian, a man of Christ, you at the very core of it, are capable of helping every one of the children in this country to not be poor. You are in the right position but you choose to follow the money. It is something that you should not do and you should love and treat everyone as you love and treat yourself. As a Christian, you should be focusing on helping the less fortunate not focusing the rich people like you have since taking the position of Prime Minister.

If I was still a Christian, I would be so ashamed that you are what others view Christians. I am ashamed as it is that you lead a country that has many different religious beliefs, while bringing your beliefs to your PMship. It is fine to allow them guide you, but not take over. And no this is not a form of persecution for being a Christian, like I know many would be thinking when reading this. This is someone who is sick of seeing empty promises and lies (another broken commandment, the 9th one) and a complete disregard to human life that is not your own.

Why not bring home the Tamil Family (including two Australian children) living on Christmas Island for the past three years to the tune of 2.5 million dollars, at the 16/09/2019 Senate? That would be the Christian thing to do. Why not bring real change to the issues facing the Indigenous of the land? Why not let the Sacred Sites of the Indigenous mobs stay in their hands? That would be the Christian thing to do. Why not get rid of the Indue Cashless Debit Card and the Basics Card? That would be the Christian thing to do.

The Christian thing is to literally do what Christ himself would have done. In fact, in Matthew 25:35-40 35 it says; “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” So what you do, Mr. Morrison, to the poor of the land, you do unto Christ, himself. Not very Christian-like.

How can you call yourself a man of God, a good Christian man, when we rarely see you behave like him? I have in fact seen the poor Aboriginal man give away his last coin to a child just so that child could buy a sweet. The look of pure joy in his eyes knowing he made that child happy is one of my favourite memories. Yet you cannot give that to a child? That is who we are supposed to be to help our fellow human beings. We are not garbage. We are not children to be dictated to by an authorial man. We are, going by Christian beliefs, God’s wonderful creation, yet you do not treat us as such.

Your religion is not the be all and end all in who we are as Australians. We are and always will have many different beliefs and quite frankly your choice on merging the two is indicative of where you want Australia to head into the future. Which may follow a similar path seen by the Romans. Collapsed into smithereens. Simply put, your religious freedoms don’t allow for other religious freedoms. Our basis of government should remain the confounds of science and a person’s belief should only be a guide the individual and nothing more.

You can say you are a Christian but the public does not need photo opportunities seeing your arm stretched in praise to your Abrahamic God. Would you like the same for a Muslim to praise their Abrahamic God? No, you wouldn’t. What about any other belief say the Dreaming? Again, you wouldn’t. Why? Because you have been led to believe that by allowing this to happen is an attack on your beliefs but it isn’t.

Remember how I said that I was once a part of the Church? Yeah, well I know what gets taught. What we get “programmed” to believe. There is no attack on you or Christianity, just your attack on everyone else’s right to believe in something else other than Christ, as per your personal beliefs. No, we will not go to hell due to a differing perspective on faith. And if you are right and there is a Heaven and Hell, and you went to heaven, well I would prefer to go to hell. Simply because people like you, and others I have met who claim to be Christian, would apparently go to heaven and I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of eternity with the likes of you. With all the people you lot claim to “are going to hell” because they are, gay, trans, unwedded mothers, and any other versions of “undesirable”, hell is going to be fun.

You do not get to dictate to us if we have sinned, when you have not removed the plank in your own eye. And remember, pride comes before a fall, you sir, are that full of pride that it is floating up like a hot air balloon and when your fall comes, believe me it will come sooner than you think, that balloon will pop, and how does a popped balloon go? Mmmm, just like that. You will become so deflated in the fall; your ego will have no other choice but to lash out.

The fact remains, if Christ was to have a second coming, he would dine with me before he would with you. Because when a child was hungry, you kept a card in play that allowed rich people to feed upon. When a homeless person needed help, you made it difficult for them to gain a home. When someone cried out for a job, you allowed business to close whilst allowing your rich mates to profit. When the sick cried for their much-needed medication, you couldn’t, nay wouldn’t deliver the medication. When our elderly in aged care were wringing their hands due to the traumatic experience of their lives, you turned but a blind eye. When the country burnt, you were not here, “coz you needed a holiday”, yet there were thousands who lost their homes and are still waiting for financial aid.

And worse of all, when women cried out for justice, you closed your ears. When Ministers show severe misconduct in their performance, you give them a free pass by doing an “online empathy course”. Newsflash, you gain empathy as you grow up, interacting with your peers, you cannot gain empathy by doing an online course and have a certificate saying that you have empathy. The biggest con job, every lie you have told.

From the appearance of the heart you show, your actions are evident. You are only Christian by your words, not by heart.

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Morrison blames media for travel ban backlash

By TBS Newsbot

According to Scott Morrison, it’s the media’s fault for focusing on the punitive elements of his travel ban.

This morning, Scott Morrison has publicly claimed that it is the media’s fault for highlighting the potential gaol time and fines that Indian-Australians face if they try and return home. 3AW’s Neil Mitchell asked the Prime Minister; “I would argue you’ve perhaps made a mistake in emphasising punishment which is what happened. Would you agree that was a mistake?” In response, Morrison said, “we didn’t, but the media did.”

Which isn’t actually true. Per a media release on April 30, issued by Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health and Aged Care; “Failure to comply with an emergency determination under the Biosecurity Act 2015 may incur a civil penalty of 300 penalty units (which equates to $66,000 – Ed), five years’ imprisonment, or both.”

After Mitchell highlighted this point, Morrison said; “There was simply a statement of what the Biosecurity Act does as a way of fact, this is not something that was accentuated by Greg Hunt or me or anyone else. It was picked up on (sic) in the media and they’ve highlighted that. But as I’ve said it’s highly, highly remote that the extremes of those sanctions would apply in these circumstances because they’ve been in place for 14 months and no one’s been to jail.”

The delusion is certainly real. Clearly, it’s the media’s fault for accurately reporting a government provision, but clearly, whether they enforce it (or not) is the issue that should be the focus. The people who haven’t gone to gaol, those who still might, but probably won’t. What?

Health commentator and GP Vyom Sharma thought the decision “incredibly disproportionate to the threat that it posed.” Sharma is certainly correct on this score in terms of international law, which requires the least restrictive or least intrusive way of protecting citizens.

As Dr Binoy Kampmark noted, “Then there was the issue of the previous policies Canberra had adopted to countries suffering from galloping COVID-19 figures. A baffled Sharma wondered, ‘Why is it that India has copped this ban and no people who have come from America?’ Former race discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane seconds the suspicions. ‘We didn’t see differential treatment being extended to countries such as the United States, the UK, and any other European country even though the rates of infection were very high and the danger of its arrivals from those countries was very high’.”

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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Can Bradfield do better? Independent Janine Kitson thinks so.

By Jane Salmon

Round blue eyes, unfashionably thick brows belie the fact that Janine Kitson was extremely effective in her campaigns for natural heritage and accountability. So much so that she was voted out of Ku-ring-gai Council in 2004 only after a concerted effort from Liberal apparatchiks – at a time when Barry O’Farrell had yet to become NSW Premier.

Now, quixotically, she plans to stand for the environment, accountability, public education and broadcasting in a seat that has been regarded as “safe, blue ribbon Liberal” since Federation. Her opponent is the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher, who despite his strong position, suffered a small but significant swing against him in the last Federal election.

Her slogan “Bradfield Can Do Better” is based on the notion that voters cannot be taken for granted. The rise of self-funded candidates who campaign on integrity and are unencumbered by deals or debt is a fairly recent phenomenon in federal politics. The emerging powerful Independent voting bloc in parliament shines a fresh light on issues. There have to be alternatives to the closed-policy and backroom machinations of the major parties. As a group, she believes that Independents can thrash out and determine outcomes crucial issues.

Janine Kitson identifies with the impact of Zali Steggall, Cathy McGowan, Helen Haines, Andrew Wilkie and Rebekah Sharkie.

While Kitson’s broad smile may have one wondering whether she is calculating enough to enter cut-throat politics, she claims to know how hard it is to win the seat. She has committed her savings as a retired teacher to the campaign. “This is about the future of every young person I have ever taught from Mount Druitt to here. We can do better than reflexive coal or gas subsidies, sloppy NBN rollouts, stranded Aussies and the appalling Covid vaccine distribution debacle.”

She claims that her resolve is strengthened by her life as a teacher and the thousands of learners she has taught from Kindergarten to HSC to senior citizens.

Her optimistic demeanour and enthusiasm cannot conceal that Kitson has strategised, fought and sustained endless campaigns to protect the ABC, public education, natural environmental features and local heritage across NSW. She knows her opponents at every level of government, through and through.

“Funding can be deployed more sensibly. Privatisation can be inefficient and short-sighted. Basic home economics misleads us to imagine that a budget is fixed and finite. But in fact, with the national economy, experience proves that there is opportunity for greater flexibility. I refer people to the work of the Australia Institute which is also independent. So many areas that would operate better under steady public funding are now the province of charities or private companies that duplicate resources over and over without solving essential problems. Australia has thrown the baby out with the bathwater. It’s not socialism so much as common sense. We can level playing fields in a targeted way to give everyone a fair go.”

“All human beings deserve respect and have the same basic needs, no matter how they are met.”

“Governments can do better at following up on the findings of Royal Commissions, too,” Kitson adds.

Kitson bridges groups from the conservative National Trust and Friends of Ku-ring-gai Environment to progressives of the NSW Teachers’ Federation.

She says that economic solutions to environmental sustainability are central, given that stock dividends matter at least as much as jobs round here, to paraphrase David Marr. “Sure. We can’t run a national budget on gum leaves,” she says. “Renewable energy and reducing car dependency is possible in big cities like Sydney. Nor should we mine the nation’s food bowls. Australia ultimately need to build healthier, smarter technologies to take over from raw material extraction just for starters.”

Isn’t she a bit Anglo Aussie for a suburb attracting an influx of conservative millionaire migrants? Kitson responds that she may not be into the latest fashion trends but has taught locally, met people at local parks, run market stalls, waved from her bike and listened after tennis, led historic walking tours or hikes and simply chatted on trains. “This community is for everyone,” she said. “It’s a cliché but I’m on the ground to listen to local concerns every day, not just during election cycles.”

Indeed, it could be said that Kitson’s warmth has been a lynch-pin of community around Bradfield.

Her chief political opponents in Bradfield may argue that the area is destined to be an enclave reserved for the rich. Those who want affordable living will probably have to move elsewhere. Kitson is not indifferent. “The older flats round here make great homes for single parent families,” she says. There should be a mix of housing options to ensure fair access to leafy suburbs. Balance is all.”

Zali Steggall and Janine Kitson

Kitson herself plays host to many in her light-dappled older flat replete with nature prints, shared backyard, camellias, compost bins and storage for her bike. She still has family in the area where she attended Gordon East Public School.

What does Kitson see as Bradfield’s future? Is it a cosy anachronism gradually eroded by urbanisation or a blueprint for other areas?

“Some of my childhood was spent near Penrith. I also taught in the western suburbs. As a result, I value all that we have here even more,” she concedes. “Other parts of Sydney are tearing up the concrete and being re-planted. We should save what exists, from carefully maintained native eucalypts planted by Annie Wyatt or ancient bunya pines to the azaleas in our parks. If you have it, value it. Some of the nation’s foremost student climate activists are from this area, which augurs well.”

What else does the Bradfield area have to offer youth?

“It has amenity and access to urban facilities, study centres and jobs that area a train or bus ride away. All this is balanced by family stability. More local facilities and festivals will help manage youth boredom or alienation. We are protected from some of the vulnerabilities of young adults in regional towns if we engage more. Take this ‘we-are-all-connected’ t-shirt, a local young woman made and sold at the Lindfield East Sunday market. I bought a set because we need to get behind our youth and their enterprises.”

“A degree of financial steadiness gives us an opportunity to think beyond ourselves. Ethics matter wherever you are. We can and must afford coherent values, not one set of conditions for the privileged and to hell with the rest. That’s not what decency is.Out of sight is not out of mind.”

Kitson’s main political foes are probably the white retired rugby males rusted on to 2GB, Fox Sport and Sky. Does she herself even think about “franking credits”?

How well does she think aged care is being managed federally?
How about public health?
Can private schools be too rich?
What guarantees quality in public health and education?
Would she keep cutting the ABC in favour of Murdoch outlets?
Where does she stand on a federal ICAC?
Isn’t cronyism the domain of both Liberal and Labor?
How will the current Cabinet’s anti-China sentiment go down in Lindfield or Gordon?
How would Kitson protect local open spaces given current state laws?

And why isn’t Kitson a bog-standard Green? “The Greens have achieved a great deal as a bloc in parliament”, she says. “However, some aspects of the Greens platform, like drugs policy, are too extreme for people round here. We need more consideration and wider representation. Not every conservationist is up for radical change.”

She says she will tap into knowledge-based think tanks and canvas local opinion by surveys in a timely way.

As an educator, Kitson is confident that she can talk the public through each policy, step by step. Transparency is important and we need diversity of media ownership to encourage that.

What about preferences? Will she urge voters to put Liberals last? What will happen if she does not? Isn’t a vote for her a vote for the Libs anyway?

Kitson believes that voters themselves will join the dots and are not too lazy to deliberately place their preferences in a coherent way on a ballot form. “Every voting position counts, including on the senate form. Each vote is a message about the standard of conduct and values you are willing to accept from your elected representatives and your government. We need to think hard rather than let the major parties decide everything for us. Considered policy begins with a thought-through, thorough vote. We are not cogs in a two-party political machine. Together we can make a huge impact.”

Kitson will be launching her local campaign at Roseville Cinema on Wednesday evening with a screening of ‘The Weather Diaries’. The film was made by a Bradfield local mother Kathy Drayton with famous cinema icon Tom Zubrycki and will be introduced by prominent carbon and climate conservationist Ian Dunlop.

Tickets to Bradfield Can Do Better screening of ‘The Weather Diaries’ on Wednesday 5 May, 2021, 6pm can be purchased from fan-force.com.

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Seeking the Post-Covid Sunshine: Refocusing the Travel Sectors on a Renewed Spirit of Country

By Denis Bright

Cut off from overseas recreational travel destinations beyond the Trans-Tasman travel bubble, Australians are still left with a range of more localized travel options.

Affordability is the key to the revival of our domestic travel. No authority is to blame for the popularity of overseas travel in the pre-COVID era. Departures of Australians for overseas destinations reached an estimated 11.3 million in 2019.

An estimated $63 billion was spent overseas by Australians in 2019 on travel and family visits. This represented about 3.5 per cent of GDP. These outflows were largely balanced by incoming tourist revenue by 9.4 million visitors.

While New Zealand and Bali topped the destination list for Australians, the big spenders were the visitors to other exotic long-haul destinations.

With opportunities for domestic travel and visits to New Zealand now opening up, Australian tourism must refocus on more localized travel opportunities. One risk of the Trans-Tasman travel bubble is for New Zealand to become the paramount destination for Australians who are hungry for an overseas travel venture.

Federal air fare subsidies are certainly a welcome initiative to Australian travel. The initiative has bipartisan support. Labor would widen the choice of destinations.

The tyranny of distance is always a real barrier to local travel by Australian residents. This barrier is easily illustrated by the challenges faced by tourists seeking out remote destinations across Northern Australia for their winter travels.

A road trip from Sydney to North West Queensland (NWQ) through Mount Isa (2,400 kms by the most direct route) would literally 25-30 hours behind the wheel. The trip would take a minimum of three or four days in each direction from Sydney. Most drivers would prefer more stopovers but this really cuts into the limited holiday time from increasingly deregulated workplaces.

 

 

There are few real alternatives to the use of private vehicles for affordable long distance Australian travel. Travelling the Savannah Way on separate escorted safari tours between Broome and Cairns now is far more expensive than any European jaunts from pre-COVID days. Self-drive vehicle hire is quite expensive on back roads which might be off-limits to standard insurable packages.

It will be left to future generations to perfect more affordable hop-on off bus connections along this 4,000 km route via Darwin, Kakadu, Boodjamulla (Lawn Hill) and the Cairns Outback during the winter months. Such transport options would require government subsidies at state and territory levels. Only the current bans on overseas travel justifies the addition of long distance affordable bus routes.

Before the current COVID crisis, exotic localities like Boodjamulla Gorge (Lawn Hill) were always in competition with long-haul overseas destinations like Italy or the Greek Island.

Regrettably, Indigenous involvement in the management remote accommodation facilities near the Boodjamula National Park was minimal even though this Spirit of Country has so much to offer.

 

Image from Boodjamulla National Park Queensland National Parks

 

Indigenous communities certainly benefited from royalties negotiated with operators of the Century Mine which operated between 1999 and 2015 (Details available from Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation (ALCAC). Support for the diversification of economic activity in NWQ was an afterthought as the riches from the mineral boom became more threadbare.

After sixteen years of mining operations the most accessible ores are now exhausted. Some tailings are still being reworked adjacent to the open cut mine site and are still transported to the port of Karumba by pipeline.

Tourism near Boodjamulla National Park increased in importance after 2015. Tourist visits were centred on the camping and accommodation available near Adel’s Grove. Some of these facilities were destroyed in an overnight fire in 2019.

The Queensland Government had supported botanical research, tropical agriculture and grazing at Adel’s Grove from the 1920s. These experimental efforts were devastated by flooding in the late 1950s. The site drifted back to becoming an accommodation centre and had a low level of self-sufficiency despite the local water resources available.

Veteran botanist Albert de Lestang (1884-1959) spent his final years in the Charters Towers Eventide Home when corporate and government support for the rehabilitation of Adel’s Grove was not forthcoming. Anecdotes from Southern Gulf Catchments recall the demise of Adel’s Grove as a botanical research site (2012):

After de Lestang died in 1959 Adel’s Grove was neglected with mining prospectors camping there for a time. Most of his trees and shrubs did not withstand the lack of attention and have succumbed to drought, fires and termites. Those that have survived thrive alongside the remnants of his irrigation channels. Early in the 1980 Adel’s Grove was purchased by the present owners with an eye towards the increasing tourist trade within the Burke Shire.

Defenders of local ecosystems could take heart from the successful claims by first nations people at Boodjamulla National Park. Every major piece of infrastructure now invites an environmental backlash.

The pressure of urban sprawl near Brisbane is unlocking a new round of environmental action campaigns in defence of the remnants of natural ecosystems in coastal wetlands. The latest controversaries are associated with the Coomera Connector road corridor (ABC News 2 May 2021, “Coomera Connector route puts the Eagleby Wetlands under threat, residents say” – article includes a short video on the proposed Coomera Connector Route):

Members of a wetlands advocacy group in Logan, south of Brisbane, say they’re “devastated” the Queensland government has confirmed its gazetted corridor will be the future path of the Coomera Connector’s northern section.

The project is set to ease congestion and provide an alternative route to the M1 between Loganholme and Nerang, but a local federal politician said it could be a “nationally important habitat” for migratory species, referring the matter to the Commonwealth.

A group of Eagleby residents has opposed the project for years, concerned about the impact on the Eagleby wetlands – a flood plain home to birds and reptiles.

Minimal Support for Recreational Local Travel by Public Transport

During lean times in previous generations, urban Australians were attracted to use public transport to local recreational spots with food and drink packs prepared at home.

This austerity culture is not yet popular. A new McDonald’s outlet at Southpoint in Grey Street, South Brisbane has been coped with heavy patronage since its opening on 30 April 2021 in competition with established food outlets near the South Brisbane TAFE College and Griffith University. It was the only food outlet open on Queensland’s Labor Day holiday at the Southpoint Food Court.

Cycling is still a popular niche in recreational travel and personal fitness programmes.

Image from the Qld Government

The Bicentennial Bikeway near the Brisbane River had attracted almost 1.5 million bikers in each direction to May this year and about half as many joggers or walkers. Many Translink bus and train links in Metro Brisbane carry far less traffic than this busy bikeway.

The Queensland Government has made great strides to extend bike lanes into the Brisbane CBD to provide hassle free access to workplaces. Allowing bikes on Translink train services has been a practice for the past 30 years for unexpected wet afternoons.

Extending bike lanes and bikeways into scenic areas and coastal resorts is a logical extension. It is just a few kilometres by bike from Varsity Lakes Station on the Gold Coast to the nearest surfing beaches. Even the slowest bike rider should reach the beach within 30 minutes at about the pace of that routine weekend jogger.

The popularity of lesser known destinations will probably increase in time.

Image from Homebound Advertising

The paved access corridor to the old highway on the Cooroy Range near Noosa is particularly inviting during the current spell of mild autumn weather.

The old highway route for bicycles and trail bikes is a mere 7-8 kms from the nearest Translink station and about half-way between Cooroy and Tewantin.

Regrettably there are no Translink rail services to Cooroy and Gympie North during daylight hours on Saturdays. This is the very day when less experienced cyclists might want to travel there from Brisbane during daylight hours on an affordable long weekend away with overnight stays to explore the Noosa National Park.

The views from nearby Mt. Tinbeerwah are spectacular even though the elevation is only 236 metres. An access road extends half-way up the mountain.

Rail trails can rekindle just a little of the romance of more distant and often disused railway networks. The entire Cairns Outback railway network west of Kuranda might attract investment in new rail trails in association with the heritage trains operating in Ravenshoe, Cairns to Forsyth and Normanton to Croydon. This is a policy agenda for quite a few years ahead as federal grant funding for Queensland is not awash with cash.

Regional bus services like Trans North also currently take bicycles on the longer hauls at a very nominal extra cost to passengers so there is no need to wait for more policy commitment from government.

As Australia’s income gaps widen, bicycle tourism might ultimately gain a higher profile with support from tourist authorities and the availability of affordable regional trains and buses for those long hauls for less confident riders.

Few Australians would seriously oppose responsible investment in such rail trail initiatives and financial commitments by state and federal governments to regional tourism.

Cut off from the world of instant travel by COVID-19 restrictions, Australian society now has a chance to become reconnected in different and affordable ways. Let’s make it happen by being more proactive in seeking new outlets for sustainable change in our use of recreational time.

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

 

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Disarray

By Ad astra

This piece won’t take you long to read. Its message is clear, precise, and uncomplicated. The social media abounds with descriptors of the Morrison Government. Few are complimentary. Many are rude, even obscene. Many emanate from an adversarial viewpoint. There are few restraints on those seeking to denigrate; it’s easy to be critical when contrary views are limited. So let’s skip those, and find a descriptor that is accurate, even polite.

We need only to reflect for a moment on recent events to arrive at a conclusion.

Among the many possibilities, it seemed to me that ‘disarray’ was an apt descriptor for the contemporary Morrison Government. A Google search for the meaning of this word says: “Combine the prefix ‘dis’ meaning ‘lack of’ with array which derives from the Old French word areer (‘to put in order’), and you’ve got a mess on your hands – or a lack of order. That’s disarray.

Here’s how the Merriman-Webster Dictionary defines ‘disarray’: “lack of order or sequence”. The meaning of the word is not obscure!

How applicable then is the noun ‘disarray’ when summing up the Morrison Government?

Reflect on its actions and performance.

Take its handling of the COVID vaccine arrangements. On again, off again; confusion about which one is most suitable; uncertainty about contraindications; confusion about when and where the vaccines will be available, to whom and for whom; lack of certainty about the continuity of supplies, their sources, their arrival times, even their efficacy; lack of clarity about who will administer them and where; uncertainty about the legal responsibilities of suppliers and those administering the vaccine, a worrying aspect for general practitioners.

As The Conversation puts it: The vaccine rollout – which remember, started stubbornly late – is in disarray. A promised four million inoculations by the end of March and completion by the end of October proved wildly unrealistic. On another front, reflect on Morrison’s handling of his recent political problems: the Laming saga detailed in sordid detail under ‘Controversies’ in Wikipedia, the Christian Porter scandal, the Craig Kelly schemossle, and now the Holgate affair, which has exposed his propensity for bullying behaviour for all to see.

Need I continue? What more evidence do you need to confirm that the Morrison Government is in a state of disarray, perpetuated by a confused, conflicted, con man, who sadly is also our Prime Minister?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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

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Is it the truth?

By 2353NM

The company that makes a lot of the voting machines used in the recent US election is suing a number of individuals, groups and companies that manufactured and promoted the lie that the US election was rigged in part due to the algorithms used in the voting machines. The company’s allegation is that the individuals, groups and companies didn’t tell the truth, because they were claiming that the Democrats (Joe Biden) hadn’t received more votes than the Republicans (Donald Trump) in the 2020 US Presidential election.

As reported in The Guardian, Dominion is a Canadian company that manufactures voting machines that are commonly used in the USA. Their case is the claims made by Trump and his supporters are factually wrong – and therefore libellous. After filing a $1.3 billion lawsuit against a number of Trump’s supporters including lawyers Rudy Giuliani and Sidney Powell, Dominion’s lawyers filed a $1.6 billion lawsuit against News Corp’s Fox News in March,

“The truth matters,” Dominion’s lawyers wrote in the complaint. “Lies have consequences. Fox sold a false story of election fraud in order to serve its own commercial purposes, severely injuring Dominion in the process. If this case does not rise to the level of defamation by a broadcaster, then nothing does.”

The suit argues that Fox hosts and guests “took a small flame and turned it into a forest fire” by broadcasting wild assertions that Dominion systems changed votes and ignoring repeated efforts by the company to set the record straight.

“Radioactive falsehoods” spread by Fox News will cost Dominion $600m over the next eight years, according to the lawsuit, and have resulted in Dominion employees being harassed and the company losing major contracts in Georgia and Louisiana.

Unsurprisingly, Fox News denies the claim. Another voting machine manufacturer, Smartmatic has also filed a similar claim against Fox News seeking $2.7 billion in restitution.

Trump’s lawyer (for a very short time) Sidney Powell asked for the lawsuit against her to be thrown out, claiming

the defamation lawsuit Dominion Voting Systems filed against her earlier this year should be dismissed because “no reasonable person” would believe that her well-publicised comments about an international plot against former President Donald Trump were “statements of fact.”

Dominion’s and Smartmatic’s move to sue those who have assisted in Trump’s ‘big lie’ is attempting to make them accountable for their actions, not through the political system but through the legal system. The idea is conceptually sound. The 1930’s Chicago gangster Al Capone was finally jailed for tax evasion, not the multitude of crimes he is alleged to have committed or sanctioned. Capone was only jailed because a US court ruled income received from illegal sources was still taxable!

The Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison Government also has an issue with truth and living with the consequences of their actions. While they aren’t being sued for libel by voting machine manufacturers, you might remember Morrison blustering in Parliament late last year that the CEO of Australia Post, Christine Holgate, must go as she arranged for the purchase of Cartier watches for some of her executive team who had renegotiated the ‘Bank@Post’ contract for Australia Post and its franchisee ‘shop’ owners, producing a favourable outcome. As Dennis Atkins reports in The New Daily,

He was clearly loving himself, riding his elevated steed.
“I was appalled,” he snarked when asked what he thought of Holgate’s performance gifts to four executives who had saved small post offices from parlous times.
“It is disgraceful and it’s not on.”
Morrison turned his blokey anger on Holgate: “If the chief executive wishes to stand aside, well not wishes to stand aside, she’s been instructed to stand aside and if she doesn’t wish to do that, Mr Speaker, she can go.”

Holgate has since been exonerated by Australia Post – she acted appropriately and within the rules and has apparently engaged a large legal firm to represent her. Some leading conservative ‘opinion leaders’ such as Alan Jones and Terry McCann are saying that Morrison bullied Holgate. From Atkins’ report

In a column this week, McCann doubled down on his prediction for Morrison’s electoral fate: “There is no way, no way, the federal government is going to win the next election. What ‘won it for ScoMo’ in 2019 was not his inherent brilliance or doggedness but Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer, with a little help from Bill Shorten.”

It has long been the case that the states were the real managers of the COVID-19 response in Australia. Morrison’s attempt to ‘sell’ the concept that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout had been hamstrung by supply difficulties (which rapidly turned into a tit for tat argument with the European Union over the supply of Astra Zeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine) was a cover for his earlier ‘world class rollout’ that had been shown to be anything but ‘world class’. It certainly didn’t help when the ‘we’ll put all our eggs in the one basket process’ promoted by Morrison fell apart because of apparently rare but serious contra-indications from the Astra Zeneca vaccine causing blood clots in people’s brains. The promise of ‘everyone who wants vaccination will have it by October’ now looks as believable as former PM Abbott’s promise to increase ABC funding or Turnbull promising to address climate change. As Paul Bongiorno suggests in The New Daily

Gladys Berejiklian and Annastacia Palaszcuk made it very clear the states were responsible for 30 per cent of the distribution, the Commonwealth for the rest – and completely responsible for the supply of the vaccine.

The states ignored Morrison’s pressure to curb lockdowns and keep borders open, and that saved the health of the nation and contributed in no small way to the incipient economic recovery.

But on the vaccine planning and delivery, the emperor in Canberra has no clothes and the nation will pay dearly for longer.

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

Queensland’s Treasurer, who was Health Minister six years ago claims he called for an additional vaccine manufacturing facility in Australia at the time, but was ‘laughed at’ by the Coalition Government. While retrospectivity is always 100% accurate, if the claim is true the Coalition Government on past form won’t see the wood for the trees and will attempt to ‘market’ themselves out of trouble rather than admit they ‘got one wrong.’ The Victorian Government is currently investigating the possibility of building a vaccine manufacturing facility.

There is another way. The tradition in Rotary Clubs is that members who are either business owners or managers and all members subscribe to a simple test to do business, called the 4 Way Test

The Four-Way Test is a nonpartisan and nonsectarian ethical guide for Rotarians to use for their personal and professional relationships. The test has been translated into more than 100 languages, and Rotarians recite it at club meetings: Of the things we think, say or do

  • Is it the TRUTH?
  • Is it FAIR to all concerned?
  • Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
  • Will it be BENEFICIAL to all concerned?

These principles have been developed over the years to provide Rotarians with a strong, common purpose and direction. They serve as a foundation for our relationships with each other and the action we take in the world.

While there are probably ‘hour a week’ Rotarians in a similar way to ‘hour a week’ Christians – who follow the teachings of their particular brand of Christianity for the hour each week they are on the church premises before reverting to the type of people that lock up refugees for years with no due process or victimise groups within society for political ends – a lot of Rotarians evidently consider and benefit from the 4 Way Test in their daily life.

Consideration of the tenets of truth, fairness, goodwill and beneficial to all concerned would be a nice change in Australian politics and who knows, may renew trust in governments generally. We all know it’s needed!!!

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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“Our national identity has become defined by our participation in wars”

By Maria Millers

Anzac Day’s evolution as a national obsession has been cleverly manipulated by politicians, companies, organizations and clubs all trading on the lucrative Anzac brand.

In recent years Prime Ministers of both persuasions have seen political gain in the Anzac legend.

Prime Ministers from Hawke to Howard and beyond have seen political gain in promoting the Anzac myth. An exception was Keating, who rejected the obsession with Gallipoli and turned his attention to Kokoda.

With the heavy pall of the Brereton report’s disturbing revelations of gross misconduct by our elite force in Afghanistan, commemorations should return to quiet reflection; not the noisy spectacles with jingoistic overtones at a time when serious soul searching, beyond the easy clichés, is needed.

On my own patch the local RSL is collaborating in hosting a local derby football match on the 24th. There will be a flyover of 9 war birds, 50 pigeons, a canon to start the game and a full battalion brass band to march the players onto the ground.

Not surprisingly, the sitting members from the three levels of government will be there.

Engagement of the young is seen as crucial in maintaining the Anzac legend. But like all legends, the Anzac legend is very selective in what is taught as history to our young. According to James Brown, Defence Analyst and former army officer, the awful pain of the reality of Gallipoli has become reconfigured into a heroic narrative that belies the truth. The emaciated, dehydrated victims have been turned into bronzed heroes of Greek mythology

Our national identity has become defined by our participation in wars. The Frontier Wars are, however, a notable omission.

Furthermore, the Anzac troops who fought and died at Gallipoli are always idealized and portrayed as heroes fighting in the cause of protecting democracy and freedom. Ironically, most of the much lauded freedoms we enjoy are not due to war efforts but have been achieved through trade unions and the reforms of progressive governments.

Historians such as Marilyn Lake and Joy Damousi have pointed to the role of governments in force-feeding us military history not only through the education system but through the promotion of war heritage. This is most blatantly illustrated by the proposed $500 million renovations and extensions at the Australian War Memorial, at a time when other national cultural institutions are struggling to survive; while the welfare and needs of damaged veterans appear to have been marginalized, in fact, totally neglected.

After a great deal of pressure the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison has just announced a long overdue royal commission into suicides by Australian veterans and serving Defence personnel.

I’m not sure what the RSL and organizers of the Anzac event at the derby match at my local football ground hope to achieve. And despite asking my local member who was funding the war planes for the event, I have still not received a reply. Perhaps the money could have been put to far better use.

We should take note this Anzac Day of what American writer Norman Mailer once pointed out: that “Myths are tonic to a nation’s heart. Once abused, however, they are poisonous.”

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“We don’t have a race problem”: NSW Police Minister takes leave of senses

By Mellek Steel

Today, the NSW Police Minister made two comments of note. The first was laughably incorrect, the second was absolutely terrifying.

This morning, the NSW Police Minister, David Elliott attacked a group of primary school students for hanging a Black Lives Matter poster in the wake of the George Floyd ruling. Sensationally, Elliott made the case that children were being brainwashed with anti-police propaganda, and he would be pursuing an apology from the teacher involved.

The poster, shared by GetUp! media advisor Alex McKinnon on Twitter, asks us to ‘Stop Killer Cops’ surrounded by hashtags calling for #JusticeNow and #BLM. Elliott, speaking on a morning breakfast show, said that “we don’t have a race problem here in Australia,” and we should “stop trying to teach our kids what is going on overseas is the way it happens in Australia.”

 

 

Crucially, Elliott also said that “I don’t want taxpayers’ money going into an alleged education where children are going to walk away thinking that police are somehow racist.”

 

 

I’m not suggesting that the Police Minister doesn’t have a clue, or indeed, is not telling the truth, but his statements only make sense if you disqualify the reality we First Nations people face.

In January, The Guardian’s Michael McGowan noted that while 96 children were searched in 2020, a disproportionate number of those searched (about 21%) were Indigenous, including one case in which an 11-year-old was strip-searched by police. The data also revealed that Indigenous Australians of all ages continue to be disproportionately subjected to the practice.

Karly Warner of the NSW Aboriginal Legal Service told the outlet that “forcing a child to remove their clothes is deeply intrusive, disempowering and humiliating, and especially for Aboriginal people who have too often been targets of discrimination and over-policing… the excessive use of strip-searching is causing extreme emotional and psychological harm… an unclothed and traumatic early encounter with police is something that children will have to deal with long after they’re allowed to put their clothes back on. It is unjust, it violates children’s rights, and it undermines the relationship that police have with children.”

In February, a 57-year-old Corrective Services NSW officer presented at Lismore police station on 5 February 2021 and was charged with manslaughter over the 15 March 2019 shooting death of Wiradjuri man Dwayne Johnstone, who was a detainee in the custody of the prison guard.

On the day of the fatal shooting, Johnstone had appeared in the Lismore Local Court and was denied bail over an assault charge. He later suffered a possible epileptic seizure in the holding cell at the courthouse and two Corrective Services officers took him to Lismore Base Hospital for treatment.

Johnston was being taken back to a van as he left the hospital when he elbowed an unarmed guard and made a break for it. The 43-year-old was handcuffed and shackled as he attempted to escape. And the other officer fired three shots, hitting him in the lower back with the third, which proved fatal.

As is the procedure with custodial deaths, a coronial inquiry followed. And in an unprecedented move, NSW state coroner Teresa O’Sullivan called a halt to the inquest in late October last year, as she referred the matter to the DPP to consider whether charges should be laid.

The decision to charge the guard with manslaughter is ground-breaking. It marks the first time a corrections officer has faced a substantial charge in relation to a First Nations custodial death.

A lack of accountability has long marked the aftermath of Aboriginal deaths in custody. Despite the Royal Commission into this continuing crisis handing down 339 recommendations in 1991, there have now been over 440 First Nations custodial deaths since the inquiry tabled its report.

Later the same month, undercover officers in the Sydney suburb of Parramatta were recorded assaulting a First Nations minor.

As Paul Gregoire of The Big Smoke wrote at the time: “On hearing yelling from an enclosed shopping area around the local station, a member of the public started filming as they made their way up a small flight of stairs to where the noise was coming from. There, they encountered three undercover officers and a young boy in their custody. The handcuffed Indigenous youth is screaming, as one officer has an extremely tight grip on his left wrist from behind. A number of young passers-by, as well as those known to the youth, plead with the officers to ‘stop hurting’ him. But two of the plainclothes officers blankly stare on – like they’ve heard it all before – while a third walks towards another minor filming in an effort to make them stop. The third officer approaches the person filming, waving them on. The cameraperson responds that they won’t move as the colour of the boy’s hand is changing.

“In the background, the police van can be heard approaching with its siren. ‘No. I am not moving,’ the person filming continues. ‘How old is he?’ And another young onlooker calls out, ‘He’s 12.’”

The above exists in the safe vacuum of yet more violence, as NSW Police Commissioner Mick Fuller famously said in June 2020 that the officer filmed throwing an Indigenous teenager to the ground during an arrest “had a bad day.

As The ABC put it, “the incident, in which the officer kicked the 16-year-old’s feet from beneath him before dumping the boy to the ground, is now the subject of an internal police investigation, to see whether excessive force was used.”

*****

Indeed, an important point that Elliott missed is that the school children were protesting the police officers who are killers, with Derek Chauvin being the most contemporary example. However, by claiming that racial bias doesn’t exist, he’s merely illuminating his entitlement, and indeed, how he’s forever been the oppressor, and never the oppressed.

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

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The empathy deficit

By 2353NM

Like most winners at the conclusion of an election process, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has claimed on a couple of occasions that he would consider the hopes and ambitions of all Australians while he is the Prime Minister. The first time was when he mounted his quixotic charge past Peter Dutton to take the Prime Ministership from Malcolm Turnbull, the second after he convinced enough Australians that the empty promises and meaningless platitudes that constituted his re-election campaign were actually achievable following the last Federal election.

To consider the hopes and ambitions of all Australians, you need to understand the positions of others and even if their situation doesn’t affect you personally, have some reaction and share the motivation for others’ feelings. It’s called empathy and relies on emotional intelligence and maturity to develop.

Prior to mounting the white charger and spearing the Dutton supporters, Morrison was Turnbull’s Treasurer (remember the arm around the shoulder and claims of fully supporting ‘his’ leader). In former Prime Minister Abbott’s Government, Morrison was at one stage the Minister responsible for overseeing the implementation of what is potentially the cruellest refugee treatment program in the world where people are kept in detention for years with no clear pathway to release, and a family with young children being forced from their home to be the sole residents of a detention centre on the other side of the country even though the courts have mostly agreed with the family’s legal position.

The now infamous Robodebt was devised while Morrison was the responsible Minister for social security. Then as Treasurer, Morrison was the Minister responsible for steering the legislation through Parliament, he was the Prime Minister when it ‘suddenly’ became evident to the Coalition Government that the entire process was probably illegal and the $1.2 billion decision was made to settle prior to being dragged through the court system as the target of a class action. But the Minister responsible at the time of the class action, Stuart Robert (who somehow survived clocking up a $2,000 per month taxpayer funded internet bill from his house in the Gold Coast Hinterland), also kept his job despite spending millions defending the indefensible in the lower courts, causing some to ask if there was any accountability in Government.

In October 2019, the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety released its interim report in three volumes (here and here and here). Entitled ‘Neglect’ they were a foretaste of the final report, this time in 8 volumes, released on 1 March 2021. The full report and a number of other documents are available from this link. Morrison called a press conference to release the final report of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Standards.

At the press conference, the following exchange occurred

JOURNALIST: This report was delivered last Friday. You gave us half-an-hour to attend a press conference. You tabled the report when we were here. How can we ask questions to know what’s relevant in the report without knowing what’s in it?
There will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions. But we’re before you now. This isn’t the only day to ask questions. I’m telling you that we’re releasing the report…

JOURNALIST: That’s a tactic, isn’t it, Prime Minister.
No, with respect, today is not about the media. Today is about releasing the royal commission report. There are 8 volumes, and I would encourage you to digest all of them. And on occasion, after occasion, after occasion, I have no doubt you will quiz me on it. Today is the day for us telling Australia that it is released. There’ll be plenty of other opportunities.

JOURNALIST: This is a major social reform and you’ve stopped us from actually looking at the report. Is that because you’ve [got] two commissioners who disagree on the reforms and the way forward?
No. I don’t understand the question.

JOURNALIST: The commissioners are split on a number of fundamental reforms.
Because it is a complicated issue.

JOURNALIST: So which of the reports and recommendations would you take onboard?
That’s what we’ll consider and include that in our response.

JOURNALIST: Isn’t it a problem that you’ve got a royal commission blueprint…
No I think it’s a problem that people think this is so simple. We can’t be glib about these issues and they they’re simple to do with. I’m not surprised they are. I’m not surprised that people with that level of experience who have poured over this, heart and soul, for years… there’ll be difference of views. That does not surprise me. I don’t think it surprises Australians who’ve had to deal with this system either.

It was a pretty good bet that the final report would be damning, which it was. Of course, it didn’t stop the playing of politics (partial paywall)

A senior source within the royal commission tells The Saturday Paper that selective leaking of the final report to favoured media outlets ahead of its release was “infuriating”.

The stories stemming from the leaks said there were divisions between the commissioners on a path forward for the sector.

“[The leaking] tells us very clearly, before the public has even had a chance to see the findings, that they are willing to play politics with this historic moment,” said the source, who did not wish to be identified.

“That was a vindictive act and speaks volumes about the government’s commitment to this process.”.

The report paints a picture of consistent underfunding and lack of enforcement of standards by governments for a number of years. While Morrison is not solely to blame either as Treasurer or Prime Minister, in the Commissioners’ view he stripped more than $2 billion in care subsidies from the sector since late 2015 and booked the savings in the federal budget – a direct cut in funding to the sector (previous governments of both political colours emasculated the funding so it didn’t keep pace with the funding formula, producing nominal increases – albeit reductions in real terms). Morrison denies he cut the funding while Treasurer.

Regardless of the politics around what should have been the start of a process to fix the aged care system in Australia, clearly it was in Morrison’s view a handy distraction from the claims of philandering and a toxic culture in the halls of Parliament House. Morrison told a press conference that he saw no issues with the alleged rape of a political staffer by a senior staffer in Defence Minister Linda Reynolds’ office until his wife suggested he might have a different reaction if one of his daughters was involved. Neither did he see the problem with his Attorney General staying in the role without any investigation after being alleged to be the perpetrator of an historic rape in 1988, which can never be tested in court as the alleged victim took her own life last year. When the ‘court of public opinion’ finally passed its judgement, Morrison did include Reynolds and Porter in a Cabinet reshuffle – ‘demoting’ both of them but not removing them from the Ministry.

Morrison’s delayed reaction to both matters suggests he doesn’t have the emotional intelligence and maturity to understand that it takes real courage and bravery for those that have allegedly suffered violence against them to come forward and make their claims. Rather than take his favoured position of ‘riding it out’, assault victims should be believed and if the alleged victim is unable to tell their story, there should be an enquiry to establish the facts as far as possible.

As Katherine Murphy discussed in The Guardian,

Before deciding, once and for all, whether Porter can remain as attorney general, and Linda Reynolds as defence minister, Morrison wants to assess the salience of federal parliament’s #MeToo moment. Have voters logged the Higgins story, and the rape allegation levelled by a now-deceased woman against his attorney general?

Do they have views about it? What are the views?

Murphy was suggesting that assuming the opinion polls are not catastrophic, Morrison seemed to be planning to ride the storm out. That probably wasn’t the best strategy! The hope would be good news announcements would allow him to direct us all to ‘look over there’ at some behaviour that doesn’t adversely affect his government. The Aged Care Royal Commission final report was one piece in this puzzle, as was the ‘half price airline tickets’ fiasco.

As former Opposition Leader John Hewson states in the The New Daily Morrison, like former Prime Minister Howard prefers to play politics than develop and deliver policy for the betterment of all Australians

The end game is simply winning the next election, and the daily focus is to minimise the risks in doing so. As challenges emerge, the initial response is reactive not pro-active, to let them run for a while to see how they unfold, “nothing to be seen here” – maybe they’ll even solve themselves. But, if finally there is a need to act, the response is to do as little as they can get away with.

Obviously Morrison doesn’t have the emotional intelligence to consider the views of others. It wasn’t empathic to return from an overseas holiday during the middle of catastrophic bushfires claiming that as the country’s political leader he couldn’t do anything because ‘I don’t hold a hose mate’. Neither is it empathic to release an eight-volume report detailing failures in the aged care system without expressing concern and regret, moving young families across the country to detention centres because the government isn’t getting its own way in the court system or ignoring the apparent long term toxic sexual misbehaviour on his side of politics that is far short of contemporary community standards.

As Hewson suggests, Howard lost the 2007 election and his seat because of his tone deafness on matters of importance to the community. Does Morrison have the ability to reflect on that and act appropriately?

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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