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When ignorance is a priority

By RosemaryJ36  

The Coalition government has three major problems – one is effective communication, the second is setting appropriate priorities and the third and most important is ignorance of science, including evidence, proof and scientific method!

For over 200 years the rights of our First Nations were ignored under the Terra Nullius doctrine, despite their being grudgingly granted the right to vote in national elections in the 1960s.

In 2015, a Referendum Council was established jointly by the then Prime Minister – Malcolm Turnbull – and the then Leader of the Opposition – Bill Shorten – with the brief to examine inclusion of the Aboriginal and Islander peoples in the Constitution.

In 2017, Aboriginal and Islander people from all over Australia presented to the Coalition government the Uluru Statement from the Heart – which was immediately brushed aside by the Prime Minister on the unfounded pretext that it was asking for a third chamber of Parliament.

No further action has been taken on the issue, which many see as totally inappropriate given the general agreement that Constitutional recognition was a matter of urgency.

Now, despite Australia having been originally established as a colony of Great Britain, under the Crown, who is the Head of the Church of England, those responsible for drafting the Constitution, noting many aspects of the USA Constitution, made the deliberate choice to include s116 of the Constitution in Chapter V – The States.

It was an interesting decision, based on the fact that the existing States were ceding many of their powers to the Commonwealth Government, and, at the time of Federation, many of the States would have regarded themselves as Christian and were left free to choose, without dictation from the Federal Parliament.

In general, throughout Australia, people are free to practice their preferred religions and governments are secular.

So – what is the problem?

Acceptance – in many cases reluctantly – that the age-old abhorrence of homosexuality was ill-founded, and that sexuality in a rainbow set of varieties is determined before birth, Parliament decided to agree to amend the Marriage Act (ill-advisedly made more exclusive by John Howard in less enlightened times) to enable same sex marriage.

Sadly, one of the drawbacks of many religions is that their faithful rely on ancient religious tomes to guide their behaviours, totally ignoring the fact that knowledge is not fixed in time, translations are imperfect* and much of what people knew 2000 years ago has been proved to be incomplete or inaccurate knowledge.

Just think of the technical knowledge which we take for granted nowadays which, if mentioned even 600 years ago would have led to the unwary speaker being burnt at the stake or stoned to death! Just think – Galileo!

Even before the national plebiscite on same-sex marriage was held, polling indicated a majority of people were in favour. A majority of those in opposition would have generally been holding on to ancient prejudices based on ignorance of the nature of sexuality, instilled and supported by their religious ‘beliefs’.

I am honestly struggling to come to grips with the idea that we should support people who believe in something which is patently untrue! Surely, we should help them to accept reality.

We can mostly accept someone’s belief in the existence of a god – which I do not share – because, being supernatural, it can be neither proved nor disproved. I could understand a citizen in 1680 refusing to believe that it could be possible for a man to fly in some sort of machine – despite Leonardo da Vinci having designed one sometime earlier.

I can also see that early civilisations needed to develop rules for a community to live in harmony – and, to this day, the ethics which were reportedly preached by Jesus Christ are an admirable foundation for a harmonious community.

However, because prejudice against members of the LGBTIQ community continues, we have become aware of the damage to the mental health of young people who are being pilloried for being ‘different’. Fortunately, sporting bodies are continually developing policies to support inclusion and ignore difference and requires club members to support their policy – which is endorsed by sponsors.

So now we come to priorities.

It is clearly a myth that the Australian government is secular, just as it is a myth that they want to include proper recognition of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the Australian Constitution!

If it were not so, then two things would happen

  1. They would ignore their own religious preferences and prejudices, accept that human sexuality is determined before birth, tell the faithful that their prejudices are based on out-of-date knowledge and to grow up and stop hurting vulnerable children. And, in any case, the Constitution says they can practice their religion but the anti-discrimination law should encourage them to not discriminate against others on grounds of sexuality;
  2. They would accept that what the Uluru Statement asks for is NOT a third Chamber and get on with the long-overdue job of implementing the requests in that statement!

In relation to point 1 – and the total refusal of the government to take urgently needed action to stop and reverse climate change/global warming/the climate emergency plus their prejudices indicate clearly that:

THIS GOVERNMENT REFUSES TO BELIEVE SCIENTISTS AND WE ARE SUFFERING IN CONSEQUENCE!

*In discussing translations of the Bible, Matthew Vines indicates that the sort of same sex union which was referred to as unacceptable in the Bible was in fact pederasty or paedophilia, mistranslated, however, as homosexuality.

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Socialists have aspirations as well

By Sean Crawley  

Dear Prime Minister,

It’s pretty clear that you and your side of politics believe that any form of taxation or welfare destroys people’s aspirations. I speak for myself while suspecting I am not alone, especially since at the last federal election more people voted for Labor and the Greens than voted for your so-called broad-church coalition of neo-liberal/conservative/National parties.

I have lots of aspirations. One of these I can phrase in your very own faux fair dinkum Ozzie parlance. It is: A fair go so we can all have a go. It looks a lot like your mantra: A fair go for those who have a go, but it is quite different, and the type of society that would emanate from my philosophy would be quite different from the one you are currently legislating into existence.

If you’re having trouble understanding the difference, let me use this horticultural analogy. One gardener, let’s call him Bluey, sows a field of wildflower seeds. The other gardener, let’s call her Cerise, does the same. Bluey likes to keep a tight rein on his gardening budget so he waits until the seeds sprout before he decides which plants will get water, mulch and fertiliser. Cerise has already fertilised and mulched the soil and she regularly waters the whole field. It doesn’t take long before some of the wildflowers in Bluey’s patch sprout and grow tall and strong. Bluey gives them lots of water and all the fertiliser they need, he mulches around them and sings their praises. “Why look at this tall strong blue flower, it is clearly having a go. It deserves to be well looked after.” After some time, Bluey’s field contains a smattering of tall thriving blue flowers. “Look how they reach for the sky, they will be an inspiration for all the other flowers who are not so tall or strong. Oh, what a good gardener am I.”

Cerise’s garden has blue flowers as well, but they don’t stand out like the ones in Bluey’s garden because they are surrounded by a multi-coloured blanket of floral delights. By feeding, watering and tending to the whole field each species of flower can thrive and blossom.

Not all flowers aspire to be the tallest.

Scott, I believe that the brand of aspiration you and your adherents claim that socially progressive political parties wish to destroy, is the aspiration that drives some people to become wealthy by winning at the brutal game of capitalism.

I don’t aspire to be wealthy, but I do aspire. I aspire to live in a society that is well-watered and fertilised, a society where every person is looked after so they can thrive in a multi-coloured field of wild and unique humans.

Call me a socialist if you will. Yes, a small red flower, that for a long time now has been wrongly accused of being something that it is not. I am not a communist, I am not a soldier of class warfare. I am not envious of the rich and influential. I aspire for things other than money and power. I aspire for peace and equality and for our human society to tread a whole lot more lightly on the planet and all its life forms.

Scomo, you have been elected to serve all the peoples of Australia. Please understand that not all of us aspire to get ahead of the pack to be tall poppies in the corporate world that is destroying the planet with its dogged pursuit of growth and profits. Welfare and taxation are the water and fertiliser for a healthy society. Most of us would prefer to live in Cerise’s garden, not Bluey’s.

Fair dinkum,

Sean

This article was originally published on wake up and smell the humans.

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A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 15)

By Dr George Venturini  

On 5 August 1995 The New York Times published an article by Keith Bradsher, in which he wrote: “In a small Swiss city sits an international organisation so obscure and secretive … Control of the institution, the Bank for International Settlements, lies with some of the world’s most powerful and least visible men: the heads of thirty-two central banks, officials able to shift billions of dollars at the stroke of a pen.”

On  28 June 1998 The Washington Post published an article about the Bank for International Settlements titled: “At Secret Meetings in Switzerland, 13 people shape the world’s economy”, which described these individuals as “this economic cabal…this secretive group … the financial barons who control the world’s supply of money.”

Quigley commented: “Each Central bank sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”

Another book, Secret records revealed, by Dr. Dennis Lawrence Cuddy complements the story.

This book would almost be better titled, sub-titled maybe, ‘Quotes about conspiracy theories from people in high places.’ It is an excellent reference book for anyone wanting to support a claim for a ‘shadowy cabal’, as it quotes the very men who and the organisation which are implicated, saying just as much. An example may suffice:
“On [15 December 1922] the Council on Foreign Relations’ Journal, Foreign Affairs, published an article…in which it was said that:

“Obviously there is going to be no peace or prosperity for mankind as long as [the earth] remains divided into 50 or 60 independent states … until some kind of international system is created which will put an end to the diplomatic struggles …”

The book goes to show that whether one thinks that there is a conspiracy under foot or not is really irrelevant, given the fact that the people who have all the power do believe in ‘conspiracy theories’. I highly recommend this book. Cuddy focuses on Cecil Rhodes who in 1890 famously said that  he would start a movement which would in one hundred years bring in a world government in which there would be no war and only one language. One hundred years later on 11 September 1991, President Bush-Senior announced before the United States Congress the arrival of the ‘New World Order’. Since early this century Rhodes Scholars have been involved with the C.F.R, United Nations, International Monetary Fund, international banking, Congress, and federal administrations. Dr. Cuddy reveals the source of the conspiracy which has been dedicated to erasing nationalism and replacing it with a world government. (D.L. Cuddy, Secret Records Revealed: The Men, the Money, and the Methods Behind the New World Order, Hearthstone Publisher, Plantsville, Connecticut 1999).

The authors of War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy commented:Thanks to the legal privileges she enjoys – such being able to hide her investments behind the screen of the Bank of England Nominees – the Queen’s personal wealth is literally incalculable. There is no information available to enable it to be calculated with certainty, although a recent analysis by the Independent estimated Elizabeth II’s personal fortune to be around £175 million [in 2002]. Of course, the question can fairly be asked why her subjects need to know about her private means, which are quite separate from the government funds intended to pay for her expenses as Head of State. But the distinction is not always clear: for example, although the estates at Balmoral and Sandringham – acquired in Victoria’s reign – are said to be the Queen’s private property, there is evidence that Victoria and Albert acquired them at least partly with money diverted from the Civil List, in which case surely the state has a claim on them? And when these houses are occupied they are paid for by the taxpayer, on the grounds that wherever the Queen is she is always the Head of State. What of the Royal Collection – the works of art that according to one estimate are worth around £7 billion [in 2002], and which contain three times as many paintings as the National Gallery? In theory the Queen holds all these ‘in trust’ for the nation; in practice she alone possesses them, while they remain largely unseen by the rest of us (at any one time, less than a half of a per cent of the collection is on public display). There is also the very vexed question of the ‘grace and favour’ properties, paid for the state.” (L. Picknett, C. Prince, S. Prior, War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2002).

And what of the Crown Estate?

This is one of the largest property owners in the United Kingdom, producing £211 million for the Treasury in the financial year 2007-2008, and with holdings of £7.3 billion in 2011. (‘About Us’, Crown Estate, 6 July 2011).

The Crown Estate is not the private property of the Queen. It cannot be sold or owned by the Sovereign in a private capacity, nor do any revenues, or debts, from the estate accrue to her. Instead the Crown Estate is owned by the Crown, a corporation representing the legal embodiment of the State -a most certainly difficult concept and quite removed from understanding by the ordinary subject. It is held in trust and governed by Act of Parliament, to which it makes an annual report. Revenue from the Crown Estate is thought to be due to double in real terms between 2010 and 2020 with additional lease revenues deriving from the development of offshore wind farms within Britain’s Renewable Energy Zone, the rights of which were granted to the Crown Estate by the Energy Act 2004.

A number of State possessions are held in trust by the Sovereign. Among them is the Royal Collection, defined as ‘the art collection of the British royal family’. Humm.

It is one of the largest and most important art collections in the world, containing over 7,000 paintings, 40,000 watercolours and drawings, about 150,000 old master prints, historical photographs, tapestries, furniture, ceramics, books, gold and silver plate, arms and armour, jewellery and other works of art. The collection includes the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London – including the crown, orb and sceptre.

It is physically dispersed between thirteen Royal residences and former residences across Britain. Although the collection belongs to the sovereign, it is not the personal property of Elizabeth II as a private individual. Instead the collection is held in trust by the Queen for her successors and the nation. (‘Royal Special: Sovereign wealth’, The Independent, 31 May 2002).

The Treasury refers to these assets as “vested in the sovereign and cannot be alienated.” Income is generated by the collection from public admissions and other sources. This income is received by the Royal Collection Trust, the collection’s management charity, and not by the Queen.

In addition, the occupied royal palaces in the United Kingdom such as Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle are held in trust by the sovereign. The Royal Household is expected to use the Sovereign Grant to maintain the palaces. In May 2009 the Queen requested an extra £4 million annually from the government to carry out a backlog of repairs to Buckingham Palace. In 2010 the Royal Household requested an additional grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport but the grant was refused on the basis that the scheme was “aimed at schools, hospitals, councils and housing associations for heating programmes which benefit low-income families.” Over a third of the Royal estate was in disrepair by 2012-13 according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee. The cost of restoration was estimated to be £50 million, but the Reserve Fund was at a historic low of £1m. (R. Younger, ‘Royal Estate Overspend Leaves £50m Repair Bill’, Sky News, 28 January 2014).

The Queen is also responsible for using the Sovereign Grant to pay the wages of 431 of the approximately 1,200 Royal Household staff, amounting to £18.2 million in 2014-15. In 2013 The Guardian reported that Buckingham Palace was using zero-hour contract for its summer staff, and in 2015 it was reported that at least four senior officials had been made redundant to reduce costs. (S. Rozina, ‘Buckingham Palace ‘axes at least four’ of the Queen’s senior officials’, The Telegraph, 23 May 2015).

No serious estimate can be made of Queen Elizabeth II’s wealth.

It all began with ‘mad king’ George III, 1769-1815, who – incidentally – became the owner of Australia. No one seems to care. He was not quite as mad when he exchanged some of the Crown Lands with Parliament for extravagant annual payments, of taxpayer money, to fund the ‘Royal Family’ and its palace-pampered-lifestyle of offensive luxury. These annual payments are now called The Sovereign Grant. The royals annual Civil List became an endless supply of money-for-nothing to be used for warmongering-for-profit and Empire money-grubbing-speculation. By 1936 when the Queen’s grandfather, George V, died the royals private – and offshore kept – fortune was estimated at one billion pound Sterling.

It was with George III that the British monarch became the ultimate insider-trader.

A small part of the present Queen’s massive disposable wealth is the tens of billions amassed tax free between her Coronation in 1953 until the public demanded she pay tax in 1992. And for that also 1992 was branded as her annus horribilis.

1992 was also horribilis because it was the year of the Windsor Castle fire. Widespread public outrage erupted when the taxpayers were arbitrarily told they would have to pay approximately £30 million for the fire!

The outcome was a “memorandum of understanding” that the Queen would pay some taxes – at her pleasure, of course. Meaning that the Queen can ignore this memorandum any time she pleases. In 2002 it pleased the Queen to refuse to pay tax on the known £70 million the Queen Mother left to her. Prior to her death the Queen Mother was always said to be broke. Yet it transpired that eight years before she died she had placed £140 million into Swiss Trusts for her grandchildren. British monarchs have illegally avoided taxes and illegally accumulated untold investment wealth in a countless number of countries in addition to the countries of the Commonwealth, the intergovernmental organisation of  53 member states which are mostly former territories of the British Empire.

There the investments are defended with every possible means. And that includes Orders in Council which are left to ‘the care’ of compliant subjects. The monarch and the Privy Council got together in the dark and bloody violent days of the Norman kings.  Each man appointed to the Privy Council had legal and/or local knowledge the monarch could call upon. Down the centuries hardly anything has changed. Advised by her hand-picked Privy Council the Queen signs-off the day-to-day business of running Britain and the Commonwealth through Orders in Council. All powerful Orders in Council control acts of parliament covering every aspect of life, including crime, immigration control and – above all -banking regulations in the dependent territories: for instance, the Cayman Islands, the Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the British Indian Ocean Territory et cetera.

Was that the reason why Kerr desperately wanted to become a Privy Counsellor? And what was such disguised concupiscence, such desire to serve? The still unavailable correspondence could provide the answer.

To establish for certain the Queen’s wealth is almost impossible. She could very well be the richest woman in the world and near enough the most powerful. The combination of a great imperial style, the support of the high protestant hierarchy with even higher and mysterious practice and display of form, the most subservient political structure and system, a still very powerful financial centre – and all of this in that one square mile which is Westminster – and all that surrounded by the most antiquated, arcane and secret process, combines into a pastiche of myth and truth from which it is most difficult to distinguish fact from fiction, and from the fable, which is the substance of a monarchy. Conspiracy theories, suggestive and suggested in the circumstances, do not help to reach a careful analysis. All this makes it easy to understand how highly suppositional certain positions may be, and how attributions may suffer from the secretiveness in which a monarchy like the British thrives. Lacunae and apparent leaps of logic do not help providing real evidence. And often one encounters only nuggets of fact woven into the story by way of deduction, often by very questionable substance and yet deserving consideration.

All this premised most of what follows seems to withstand critical examination.

The Queen’s great grandfather, King Edward VII – Queen Victoria’s heir better known as Dirty Bertie – probably inherited but most certainly reinforced the ‘Royal Family’  love of money, which is in their case money-for-nothing. One of Edward VII’s advisers was the German-born banker Moritz Freiherr von Hirsch auf Gereuth. When Hirsch died in 1896 his position as leading adviser passed on to German-born and Prussian-educated Sir Ernest Joseph Cassel, whose daughter and heiress, Edwina, married Lord Louis Mountbatten – actually Battenberg – who would become a chief influence on Prince Philip first and then on Prince Charles.

Other bankers, such as the Rothschilds, the scheming American financiers J. P. Morgan and E.H. Harriman and the Sassoons were all friends of King Edward VII. Interestingly, the Sassoon family, known as ‘Rothschilds of the East’ due to the great wealth they accumulated in trade, is of Baghdadi  descent and international renown. It was based in Baghdad, Iraq, before moving to Bombay, India, and then spreading to China, England, and other countries. It is said that the family descended from the Shoshans, one of the families of Iberian Peninsula. From the 18th century, the Sassoons were one of the wealthiest families in the world, with a merchant empire spanning the continent of Asia.  The British monarchy never discriminated when dealing with money – much, much money.

There has always been an incestuous relationship between the British monarch and the global money-grubbing oligarchy, especially with the German-originated Barings Bank, once the world’s second oldest merchant bank, dating back before the Opium wars.

Edward VII intensely disliked his cousin Wilhelm II, the eldest grandchild of Queen Victoria, and the Kaiser of Germany, who reciprocated. His son, the present Queen’s grandfather, George V, and the Kaiser were responsible for starting the so-called ‘cousins’ war’ – the first world war. But, while millions were dying in that war, the cousins’ families were enjoying life in Switzerland, surrounded by war-profiteers and their agents.

At the end of the war the royals resumed their usual lifestyle, entertaining German cousins with the usual gold plated banquets after hunting on their various estates, racing their yachts at Cowes and their horses at Ascot, cruising the sunspots in the summer and, of course, the usual winter bash in the Alps – paid for by their bankers.

Edward VII’s heir, George V, continued the ‘good friendship with bankers’ practiced by of his father. George V’s private financial adviser from 1929 onward was Sir Edward Peacock, a partner of Barings Bank. Peacock was also director of the Bank of England. Sir Edward Peacock would continue to advise the monarch until his death, well into Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

In 1934, for his services to the royals Swiss account, Peacock was knighted and given a Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order, which is part of the ‘Sovereign’s Gifts’ in that it does not require consulting the Prime Minister. Incidentally, Kerr was craving and finally received such recognition for services to the Queen.

George V hugely enjoyed the incestuous relationship with ‘the City’. He selected Lord Cromer – more precisely Evelyn Baring, 1st Earl of Cromer – as his Lord Chamberlain. Cromer was a director of Baring Bank and a director of several ‘establishment’ companies.

In 1936, when George V died, he left at least 1 billion pounds, tens of millions of which went directly into Swiss trusts for his ten-year-old granddaughter, Elizabeth, whom he adored.

While ordinary children were dying of starvation because of the Depression the future Queen never missed her morning ride in the heavily guarded Windsor Royal Park.

Continued Saturday – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 16)

Previous instalment – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 14)

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

 

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When the religious bullets hit …

By Keith Thomas Davis  

I’ll likely end up against a church wall because I’m proposing the total de-funding of private religious schools here in Australia. It seems preposterous to me that a secular State should fund an added-on education system under-layered by the proselytising of various forms of god belief. But first a bit of context and background.

Religion means nothing to me. I’m secular and humanist. I don’t follow the dictates of any sort of bible. If I base the flow of my life on anything at all then the Desiderata foots the bill handsomely. But it wasn’t always so. I had to make a conscious decision to escape the clutches of the purveyors of the bi-polarism of eternal damnation and eternal salvation.

I’ll never forget the welcoming speech the Marist Principal gave in my penultimate year in high school in 1969. “Boys” he said, “for the last eleven years our religion has been your guiding principle, but this year we are moving on to the level of teaching you what to think. It will help you make your way in the world.”  Ha … I thought his speech was absolute bullshit.

As you can gather, I was raised a catholic. Or to be more precise, they tried to raise me as a catholic. They failed dismally for a number of wonderful reasons.

Firstly, I was not born as a catholic. I was born as a human being. The grab your soul mob moved in after that and tried to convert me to their way of thinking. They wafted their incense and preached their preachings and conducted their archaic ceremonies and strange rituals … all to no lasting avail where I was concerned. I thought it was all so medieval and silly. I also thought that they rarely practised what they preached.

The only question of note I ever asked myself at the masses I was forced to attend was “Why are those men wearing floor length front-buttoned black frocks, how weird and a bit suss is all of that?”

The main reason they failed, and the main reason I dropped religion, is because I think for myself. I don’t need to live my life being told what to do, or how to do it, and I don’t need to be told how or what to think. I heard what the proselytisers had to say, I was a captive audience at the time so to speak, but I thought that their version of how things are was a total load of nonsense. Just made up stuff with some heavy fear overlay.

Some old book cobbled together from the musings of some old zealots who’d obviously experienced far too much alone desert time was never going to supplant A Canticle For Leibowitz from the top of my reading list. Nor were the dictates of that old made-up book, in my estimation, ever going to be any sort of valid underpinning of any proportion of the curriculum of our education system as a whole. Which is why I am for the total de-funding of private religious schools here in Australia.

Faith is a belief. Faith is a private thing. Faith is not a universal given. It is nothing more than a personal choice as far as I am concerned. Anybody has the right to choose and follow a faith if they so desire. Good luck to them if it makes them happy, and I support their right to find happiness in their own way.

However, saying that Australia is a secular nation, which I do, does not light the fires, brimstone or otherwise, of the faithful. We are continually told that Australia is a christian nation, and our politicians continually parade their credentials of faith in order to gain, or not lose, votes. All so tedious, it makes them look like prats and venal happy-clapping gooses.

The ABS Census Figures state that approx 52% Australians profess to be followers of the christian faith. Well, wherever they follow it, they certainly don’t follow it into a church of any kind, because on any given Sunday, rather than plonking their butts on any kind of religious pew, they are far more likely to be found happily pissed on beer or wine at their favourite beach BBQ site. Me too, we probably all say hello to each other.

Also, according to mccrindle.com.au, less than one in seven of the Australians who ticked “Christianity” on their census form regularly attend a church of any sort. In other words, only 1.8 million Australians out of the overall number of over 25 million actively activate any sort of faith. The rest are too busy having a good secular time thank you very much.

All of which shows that statistics of can be fiddled and fudged. I often argue that Australia is a secular nation, and others argue the opposite. The figures to support either argument can always be dredged up from somewhere. But you cannot argue about the lack of bums on seats/pews thing. The majority of Australians wouldn’t know the inside of a church if you paid them.

I simply think that religion is a private matter, and I think that there is no place for it in our schools. I also happen to think that the separation of Church and State is not only a good way to go … it is the only way to go. A very good separation of both of those things protects us from the possibility of some very weird things happening … you only have to have a bit of a guage around the world to see how strange things can get when Church and State are inseparable.

I’m very uncomfortable with the way religion has insinuated itself into the organs of our body politic. I think it stinks that religious politicians have forced the religious proselytising of the Chaplaincy Program into our secular State education system. God does not exist, and the bothersomes of god belief should not be allowed past the school gate.

Such nonsense needs to stop. The children of the overwhelming majority of Australians who are actively non-religious, are continually dudded by, and exposed to, the under-resourced nature of a marginalised State education system.

I am not arguing that private religious schools do not have the right to exist. They do have the right to exist. But religion is a private matter. It should not be a State sponsored matter when the vast majority of citizens of this State vote with their bums and do not attend a church of any kind.

By all means have a private religious school if you wish. But pay for it yourself. Federal education funding should solely go to State sponsored secular schools.

I don’t hate religion. I simply think that god and religion are nothing more than made up stuff. But I can guarantee that some supporters of religion, though thankfully not the majority, will hate me and my secularism and my humanism. That’s a given when you don’t go with the flow.

If I end up against a church wall and you see me there … just before the bullets hit … throw me my last request … and make it a JPS Red. Ha … the filters on those things cut down the damaging long term affects of tar something grand …

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Lies, damned lies, and children in onshore detention

By RosemaryJ36  

When I came to Australia nearly 50 years ago, it was just starting to recover from the White Australia policy and was still proud of giving everyone a Fair Go – that was the name of the boat we bought soon after our arrival!

Not true anymore!

Malcolm Fraser has often been praised for the way he handled the Vietnamese boat arrivals but his example has been turned on its head by more recent governments of both persuasions.

I dare you to watch the following two videos, as well as the report, and not feel shame for what Australia has become!

And the calibre of some of the comments on the Twitter feed makes me feel sick!

 

Detention Centres are run by staff with no knowledge of the nutrition requirements of developing children, and the whole set up is blatantly ignoring the damage done to children when they are cut off from stimulation and the company of their peers.

A visitor with a birthday cake for a 2-year old is denied access!

Quite apart from the sheer inhumanity of this treatment of young children – and there have been others who have been treated similarly – it shows how totally out of touch this government is.

The current Climate Emergency – which the Coalition refuse to acknowledge – is going to lead to a massive exodus from many low-lying areas in countries like Bangladesh. Not only will country be flooded – by the oceans – but so, too, will countries like ours be flooded – with people – when these refugees seek dry ground!

We are currently seeing on TV the mass drownings occurring in the Mediterranean Sea as refugees seek help in Europe and are repelled at the ports. This is not Brave New World fiction, but living 21st Century reality.

As far as the Biloela family is concerned, the government is insisting that they can safely return to Thailand. They rely on the word of Thai government officials but a firsthand examination would almost certainly tell a different story.

In any case, the family was contributing to and loved by their community.

How much has it cost us, and not just financially, to destroy the happiness of this little community?

Peter Dutton is capable of making instant and arbitrary decisions but he does so more often in ways that cause harm than ones that actually benefit the people involved.

How long do we go on ignoring the extent to which the government lies to us?

Does no one care that our reputation as a country is being destroyed?

First Australia was established as a convict colony by the British and the First nations were subjected to genocide. They remain largely disenfranchised to this day.

Then we received floods of migrants after WWII who were rubbished by the white Australians as wogs or worse.

Then the Vietnamese fleeing their homeland, which we had helped the USA destroy, would have been turned back except for Malcolm Fraser.

Now, while war and cultural clashes in many countries results in many seeking safe haven, we have a cold-hearted government which sees protecting our borders as more important than helping the desperate.

And the final irony is that many of the responsible Ministers claim to be Christian, but their behaviour brands them as hypocrites!

New Zealand might not be perfect, but in many, many regards it truly puts Australia to shame!

Stop listening to lies, Australia, and show how you can be better than this!

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Religious protection: Why?

By RosemaryJ36  

How quickly do we forget?

Few if any of the religious organisations in Australia came off as blameless, following the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

While the level of abuse in Catholic institutions was possibly the worst, even pastors and their relatives in evangelical organisations have had the finger pointed at them for covering up offences.

The question of financial compensation for victims is as yet unresolved, and contributions from many religious organisations to the National Redress Scheme are falling well short of what is needed.

And that, when most if not all these organisations have charitable status for tax purposes!

How charitable is it to rape an innocent child or take part in covering up such a heinous offence?

They should be hiding their heads in shame instead of queuing up to seek further freedoms from a complicit government! In fact, they should be made liable for taxation on all their fund-raising immediately, in order to provide resources for compensation!

But, as with follow up on the Banking RC – which the Coalition strongly opposed, until they were forced to establish it – the issue of redress has now been brushed on one side while necessary action to restore confidence in the financial institutions is not even in the pipeline for the newly re-elected Coalition government. Nor is insistence on adequate compensation for victims of abuse!

Do these religious hypocrites in the Coalition government have such short memories or, in their hubris following the unexpected election results, do they assume that we do?

If I had been one of those victims of abuse by priests or employees of any religious organisation, my blood would run cold at the thought that the Coalition government is seriously contemplating a bill to protect and promote religious freedom!

Some individuals refuse to accept that modern scientific knowledge makes it clear that those born into LGBTIQ status do not choose to be different, because their sexuality was defined before birth.

Consequently, if these individuals in denial are religiously motivated, they may proceed to condemn members of the LGBTIQ  group to ‘burn in hell’ status on the basis of an ill-founded ‘belief’ in the uneducated views recorded both in the bible or appropriate holy books for those of other religions.

In addition, religious schools appear to be free to promote unfounded beliefs by teaching their students ‘facts’ based on their ancient writings, rather than recognising modern teaching based on more recent scientific understanding – think creationism vs evolution. To oppose the Safe Schools project is to subject vulnerable children to what is often life-threatening abuse.

Astronomical knowledge revealed by the research of Copernicus and Galileo was, in its time, rejected by the Catholic church, so what is new?

In fact, you have to ask: Where does ‘belief’ begin and end when it is based on past levels of knowledge which are now known to be false?

Coming from the UK, where the protestant Church of England is the established church – at least in England and Wales – the pervasive influence of the Catholic church did not influence government to the extent to which it does in Australia. Nor does the more recent growth of the Pentecostal movement – where it seems that getting rich is the short cut to heaven – aid in reducing the clear influence on government of many members’ religious beliefs – in contradiction to the Constitution s 116.

My firm belief, having been brought up in a Christian household and now being an agnostic, is that we need ethics and comparative religion, in the historical context, taught in all schools; we need restraints put on the curriculum in private religious schools to ensure they are delivering modern truths instead of ancient debunked mistruths (or they lose all funding support from governments); we need protection for the non-religious from religious bigots who assume the right to tell them that they are sinners, and we need a truly secular government to adhere to its obligations under the Constitution – until such time as we succeed in replacing the Constitution with one appropriately incorporating an effective Bill of Rights to the 21st century!

I am truly gob-smacked that any Australian government could see the need to protect religion to any greater extent than is provided by the Constitution, when the damage that has been done, over many years, to our young and defenceless, has been so recently revealed and not yet redressed!

 

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The economy is sinking, but where is the lifebuoy?

By Ad astra  

Those of you who hear experts describe in frightening terms the dire state of our economy, and then hear the faux reassurances that issue from the mouths of our Treasurer and Prime Minister, must wonder if they live in some parallel universe, where, reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty, words can mean anything they want them to mean. “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.” Lewis Carroll – Through the Looking Glass.

In the face of our sinking economy, Humpty Dumpty Frydenberg assures us that ”The fundamentals of the economy are strong”, but then reminds us that “The economy is facing headwinds”, a fail-safe tactic he reckons will enable him to lay the blame on the state of the global economy if our economy sinks even further.

In another epic from the pen of Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland, the Cat proffers its advice: “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where – ” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “ – so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

Scott Morrison, Josh Frydenberg and Mathias Cormann must have well-fingered copies of Lewis Carroll’s classics from which they draw inspiration and guidance. They seem unsure of where they want to go, but determined to go somewhere, so long as they do get somewhere.

Let me elaborate.

Take the decision last month to cut the cash rate to 1.25%, the first cut in three years. The Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Philip Lowe, in his 20 June address to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA): The Labour Market and Spare Capacity, said the cut “… will support the economy through its effect on the exchange rate, lowering the cost of finance and boosting disposable incomes. In turn, this will support employment growth and inflation consistent with the Bank’s target.”

He added that the decision was not in response to a deterioration in the economic outlook since the previous update in early May, but rather it reflected a judgement that “we could do better than the path we look to be on… most indicators suggest that there is still a fair degree of spare capacity in the economy. It is both possible and desirable to reduce that spare capacity. Doing so will see more people in jobs, reduce underemployment and boost household incomes. It will also provide greater confidence that inflation will increase to be comfortably within the medium-term target range. Monetary policy is one way of helping get us onto to a better path…

“It would, however, be unrealistic to expect that lowering interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point [monetary policy] will materially shift the path we look to be on. The most recent data, including the GDP and labour market data, do not suggest we are making any inroads into the economy’s spare capacity. Given this, the possibility of lower interest rates remains on the table.” 

The Bank’s decision at its July meeting to cut the cash rate still further to a record low of 1% confirms Dr Lowe’s predictions. To cut rates in consecutive months for the first time in 11 years highlights his concern for our sinking economy and his determination to stimulate it. He reiterated that the country should “not rely on monetary policy alone” as analysts predicted even more cuts would be needed to drive down unemployment and push up wages. He urged Treasurer Frydenberg to lift borrowing to spend on infrastructure while increasing fiscal and productivity measures. “We will achieve better outcomes for society as a whole if the various arms of public policy are all pointing in the same direction.”

The clear implication of the Governor’s words is that lowering interest rates [monetary policy] will be insufficient, and that fiscal policy needs to come into play, notably in the form of infrastructure development, a responsibility of government. There are no signs that the LNP is ready to embark on the infrastructure development this country needs, as is demonstrated graphically in a recent article in The GuardianAustralia’s economy is in the doldrums and infrastructure is failing to prop it up. Treasurer Frydenberg seems petrified that his precious ‘surplus’ might thereby be placed in jeopardy. Nor does the government appear to have any strategy to develop structural policies that support firms expanding, investing, innovating and employing people.

After the latest cut to the cash rate, Governor Lowe reiterated that he would prefer the government to pull its weight by cutting tax and boosting spending, especially on infrastructure, and by policies that make Australia more productive: “The best approach to delivering lower unemployment and a stronger economy is through structural policies that support firms expanding, investing, innovating and employing people. As we ease monetary policy, it is in the country’s interest that other policy options [fiscal policy] are considered too.”

Greg Jericho, writing in The Guardian, gives a detailed analysis of the economic situation in The government has been lying about the strength of the economy – its lack of policy is hurting us. He concludes: “The Governor’s words are clear. The economic path we look to be on is not good. The Reserve Bank can do what it can to shift the economy on to a smoother road, but it needs help – a lot of help. Infrastructure spending, and policy work – something this government, which went to an election with basically only a policy of tax cuts that favour the wealthy, is not all that good at doing. They can start by dropping the faux outrage at people telling them the economy is going downhill and start acknowledging they have a problem that needs fixing.” Jericho’s article is well worth a read. I draw on the arguments he offers in his piece as follows:

“The yield for Australian government two-year and three-year bonds went below 1% for the first time in history. Seven months ago the rate the government paid for borrowing money for two years was 2%. As the gap between the five-year and two-year bond yields is now as small as it has been since the GFC, the market is seeing very little extra return from borrowing for five years as opposed to two years because they see very little chance that things are going to get better in that time.

“That does not happen when things are strong. That doesn’t even happen when things are just OK. It happens when things are bad.

“At the start of December last year the general expectation was that interest rates would stay flat for this year and then start going up next year. Now not only have rates been cut, it will be shocking if there is not another two cuts before the end of the year, and a 50/50 chance of a cut to 0.5% by this time next year.

“A cash rate of half a per cent would translate to mortgage rates lower than any recorded since the Second World War.

“The Reserve Bank is not doing that because the economy is abounding in sunshine and rainbows.”

So there it is. Clearly, the economy is sinking, and anyone who points this out, to wit ALP backbencher Anne Aly, will cop it. When she suggested that the economy looked as if it was going into a recession, she was angrily reprimanded by Finance Minister Cormann for making assertions that were: “… recklessly irresponsible and wrong and show that Labor has learned absolutely nothing from the recent election outcome”. Cormann is a verbose master of denial.

The economy is sinking, but where is the lifebuoy?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 14)

By Dr George Venturini  

At the end of second world war Britain was more or less bankrupt, so it was agreed that instead of paying cash for the shares of the Bank, shareholders would receive 3 per cent Treasury stock instead. With the 1946 Bank of England Act the Bank was ‘nationalised’, and all the Bank shares were transferred into the possession of the Treasury solicitor, and there they are to this day. It remains a corporation, not a government department.

The government of Prime Minister Clement Attlee issued Treasury Notes in the sum of £11,015,100. All the stock was owned by the British Government, although the Bank continued as a ‘Royal Charter Company’ with the absolute protection of confidentiality and security afforded by a Royal Charter and the Official Secrets Act.

Obviously the nationalisation was not welcomed by its shareholders or bankers of the day. Because of the abrupt resignation of Prime Minister Harold Wilson in April 1976 and the fact that the new government of Prime Minister James Callaghan had virtually no majority, ‘U.K. Ltd’ became vulnerable and effectively bankrupt. With double digit annual inflation, 70 per cent over three years, incessant strikes, the £ Sterling frequently suspended on international exchange markets, virtual parity with the United States dollar, it seemed the ideal time for the shareholders to strike back and re-take the Bank of England.

On 6 April 1977 the Bank of England formed the Bank of England Nominees Limited –  B.o.e.n., a wholly owned subsidiary private limited company, under no: 1307478, with two of its 100 £1 shares issued. Its Memorandum and Articles of Association’s objectives provided that B.o.e.n. was: “To act as Nominee or agent or attorney either solely or jointly with others, for any person or persons, partnership, company, corporation, government, state, organisation, sovereign, province, authority, or public body, or any group or association of them….” [Emphasis added]

The origin of B.o.e.n. is mentioned in a work by Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior,  from which comes the following extract: “In early 1973 new legislation governing the ownership of shares [was] proposed by [Prime Minister Edward] Heath Government. This would force stockbroking companies to disclose the names of the individuals on whose behalf they bought shares, to prevent them gaining a controlling interest in a company by buying shares in several different names. The Queen was concerned that this would mean that details of her private investments would be made public, which would allow her personal wealth to be calculated – which the royal family had always strenuously avoided – and asked her Private Secretary, Sir Martin Charteris (who had succeeded Sir Michael Adeane in 1972), to express her anxiety to Edward Heath. [Sir Martin Charteris, officially known as Lieutenant-Colonel Martin Michael Charles Charteris, Baron Charteris of Amisfield, in 1950 had been appointed Private Secretary to Princess Elizabeth, who was then Duchess of Edinburgh and heiress presumptive to the British throne. From her accession in 1952 until 1972, Charteris served as her Assistant Private Secretary under Sir Michael Adeane. On Adeane’s retirement in 1972, he was promoted to Private Secretary. He held this post until his retirement in 1977. Some of his correspondence with Sir John Kerr, at the time when Kerr & Co. were planning the Royal Ambush of the Whitlam Government, is publicly available at the National Archives of Australia. Some other, and probably the most important, including that between Kerr and the Queen, is still unavailable and is the source of litigation by initiative of Professor Jennifer Hocking. On his retirement Sir Martin was granted the honour of being a Permanent Lord in Waiting.] The legislation was delayed, but eventually became law – under Labour in 1976 as the Companies Act. However, a special clause was included which exempted a new shareholding company, Bank of England Nominees. This was established with the purpose of handling investments solely on behalf of heads of state and their immediate families. This allowed the Queen’s investments and those of her family – along with those of other heads of state, such as the Sultan of Brunei, Bhumibol Adulyadej the late king of Thailand, the Kuwaiti royal family, the late King Fahd of Saudi Arabia and his then friend Saddam Hussein and other crowned oligarchs who were quick to take advantage of the exemption – to be effectively concealed. They all became clients of what appeared to be the Queen’s very private bank. B.o.e.n. was only one of the many cut-outs used to hide obscene profits from the sale of arms, oil and nuclear material. Extraordinarily, not even the Chancellor of the Exchequer [was] permitted to know about the Queen’s personal investments. Andrew Morton would write: “The result of this legislation has been to cocoon further the royal finances in a web of mystery. Journalists who delve into dusty share registers find the impenetrable phrase ‘Bank of England Nominees’ staring back at them when they try to find a hint of royal investment in a company. The justification for the clause was that public knowledge about where the Queen invested her money might influence the market. However, that this was just an excuse is revealed by a memo sent from the Palace to the Government saying that it is ‘to be congratulated on a neat and defensible solution’. In other words, the Palace were pleased that the Government had come up with a way of justifying the secrecy.” (L. Picknett, C. Prince, S. Prior, War of the Windsors: A Century of Unconstitutional Monarchy, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2002).

Questions were asked, and quite frequently, in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The answers were always evasive, vague, inconclusive.

On 21 April 1977, to a question in the House of Commons from  Mr. Blenkinsop, who wanted to know from the Secretary of State for Trade whether B.o.e.n. was “intended to hold shares on behalf of ‘Heads of State’ and certain others” and whether he had granted any exemptions under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976; and if he would make a statement, Mr. Clinton Davis replied:The Secretary of State has granted one exemption under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976 in favour of Bank of England Nominees Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of England. Bank of England Nominees Ltd. have given a number of undertakings about the use to be made of the exemption. They will hold securities as nominee only on behalf of Heads of State and their immediate family, Governments, official bodies controlled or closely related to Governments, and international organisations formed by Governments or official bodies. They will in turn seek certain assurances from anyone in the eligible categories who wishes them to hold the securities as that person’s nominee. These assurances are to cover (a) the fact that the person is the beneficial owner of the securities to be held by Bank of England Nominees Ltd.; (b) that the beneficial owner will not use his interest in any securities held by Bank of England Nominees Ltd. to influence the affairs of the company in which shares are held except as shareholders in general meetings of that company; (c) that the beneficial owner is aware of his overriding obligation, under Section 33 of the Companies Act 1967 as amended, to disclose his interest to the company in which shares are held if he is interested in 5 per cent. or more of that company’s share capital.”

Mr. Davies added: “Bank of England Nominees Ltd. has also undertaken to make a report annually to the Secretary of State for Trade of the identity of those for whom it holds securities, and, provided that it holds securities for two or more people, the total value of the securities held. The contents of such reports are to be confidential to the Secretary of State.” (Shareholdings (Disclosure) HC Deb 21 April 1977 vol 930 cc151-2W 151-152W)

On 5 March 2010, replying to a request by Mr. E. Danielyan, as to “What is the “Bank of England Nominees Limited”? Mr. Ben Norman, the Deputy Secretary of the Bank of England explained that: ”The Bank of England Nominees is a wholly-owned, non-trading subsidiary of the Bank of England, with 2 ordinary shares valued at £1 each, as the latest Bank of England Annual Report states (see: Bank of England, Annual Report 2011, p.69).

Furthermore, “BOEN acts as a nominee company to hold securities on behalf of certain customers. It is a private limited company, incorporated in England and Wales in 1977, and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank. The shareholders are the Bank and John Footman, who holds his share as nominee on behalf of the Bank. The directors are John Footman and Andrew Bailey. (This letter can be viewed in full and downloaded here).

Both John Footman ( ‘John Footman Executive Director, Central Services and Secretary of the Bank’, and Andrew Bailey (‘Andrew Bailey, Executive Director, Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) – Deputy CEO designate’) were at the time employees of the Bank of England and their biographies were on the Bank’s website.

There followed questions in the House of Lords.

Paul Myners, who was known as Baron Myners, CBE, a member of the House of Lords, and had been a businessman until he became  the Financial Services Secretary – sometimes referred to as City Minister – in Her Majesty’s Treasury, and then the Finance Ministry, during the Labour Government of Prime  Minister Gordon Brown, rose:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the accounts of Bank of England Nominees Limited were last published; when they will next be published; and whether they intend to review whether the company should remain exempt from company law disclosure requirements”. (House of Lords – Hansard https://hansard.parliament.uk/ [HL8302]).

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox) replied: “The most recent accounts of Bank of England Nominees Limited are available via the Companies House website and were published on 14 June 2010. It can be seen from these accounts that the company is currently dormant. The company is due to publish its next set of accounts by 30 November this year. The company is no longer exempt from company law disclosure requirements and currently no other persons are exempt from these requirements.”

Later on, when Lord Myners rose:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government when the accounts of Bank of England Asset Purchases Facility Fund Limited will be published; whether these accounts will take into account an indemnity from HM Treasury; and whether the accounts of the company are exempt from any company law disclosure requirements.” (House of Lords – Hansard https://hansard.parliament.uk/ [HL8303]).

Lord Sassoon, the Commercial Secretary to the Treasury, replied: “The Bank of England will publish accounts for the asset purchase facility (APF) for the year ended February 2011 before the Summer Parliamentary Recess. The amount due to or from HM Treasury under its indemnity to the Bank will be identified. The accounts are not exempt from any company law disclosure requirements.

Lord Myners insisted and rose again: “To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the accounts of the Bank of England, Bank of England Nominees Limited and the Bank of England Asset Purchase Facility Fund Limited are all audited by the same firm of public accountants.” (House of Lords – Hansard https://hansard.parliament.uk/ [HL8310]).

To which Lord Sassoon replied:” KPMG are the external auditors for the Bank of England and the Bank of England Asset Purchases Facility Fund Limited. As a dormant company, Bank of England Nominees Limited is not required under the Companies Act 2006 to appoint an external auditor”.

In 2011 B.o.e.n. was no long allowed disclosure exemptions  from company law disclosure requirements”, as a written answer from the Lords’ Hansard on 26 April 2011(8) made clear. The consequence of this was that B.o.e.n. was no longer granted an exemption under Sec. 796 of the Companies Act 2006 to the notification provisions required by Sec. 793 – something to which it had been previously authorised.

To summarise: as stated in Hansard, B.o.e.n. was a company set up with the intention of holding shares confidentially on behalf of “Heads of State” – whoever they might be – and certain others.

One is perfectly entitled to presume from that that the Queen and her ‘immediate family’, however defined and certain bodies are included in that broad specification. (A. McConnachie, ‘Investigating the Bank of England Nominees, 11 October 2011, prosperityuk.com).

There had been a statement by Melanie Johnson M.P., Economic Secretary to the Treasury, in 2000 to the effect that “B.o.e.n. is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of England, which was granted an exemption by Edmund Dell, Secretary of State for Trade from the disclosure requirements under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976, because: “it was considered undesirable that the disclosure requirements should apply to certain categories of shareholders”. [Emphasis added]

A Freedom of Information request submitted in 2010 provided a similar answer.

Because of the combination of the provisions of the Royal Charter and the Official Secrets Act, the Bank enjoyed unusual confidentiality and security and was even untouched by questions being asked in the House of Commons.

Thus structured and protected, B.o.e.n. became a vehicle for governments and heads of state to invest in United Kingdom companies, subject to approval from the Secretary of State, and providing they undertake “not to influence the affairs of the company.”  Later on, B.o.e.n. was is no longer exempt from company law disclosure requirements. It remained as a dormant company, although  dormancy did not preclude it from actively operating as a nominee shareholder. Officially B.o.e.n. had only two shareholders: the Bank of England, and the Secretary of the Bank of England.

A fundamental question remained: why form a wholly owned ‘Nominee company’ which since its establishment in 1977 had never traded and confined itself to lodging ‘Short form’ un-audited accounts?

It was conceivable that sometime after 1977 The Bank of England had been in effect ‘privatised’, its shares being held in B.o.e.n., thereby making a ‘closed loop’: although B.o.e.n. was a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank of England, B.o.e.n. had effective control of the Bank because the shares were in fact owned by the secret shareholders. It seems that only 50 per cent of the shares were sold, but they controlled all voting rights. Considering that shareholders appoint directors, it was legitimately conceivable to conclude that the Bank of England was covertly controlled, if not by the banks, then by a higher banking entity which had the interests of the banks at heart, which justifies the rampant and systemic fraud perpetrated upon their customers with arrogance and impunity.

In 1997, after the Three Rivers District Council had won their action against the Bank of England for failing to control the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (B.C.C.I. would come under the scrutiny of numerous financial regulators and intelligence agencies in the 1980s due to concerns that it was poorly regulated. Subsequent investigations revealed that it was involved in massive money laundering and other financial crimes, and illegally gained the controlling interest in the First American, a major bank), several persons and entities who had fallen casualties of banks made formal complaints against the Bank of England for not enforcing control over their respective high street banks. Yet, contrary to the Bank’s own Statement of Principles and the Banking Acts the complaints were rejected on the ground that the Bank of England does not intervene between bank and customer. Within months the Bank of England complaints staff and department had been transferred to ‘Canary Wharf’ under the guise of the Financial Services Agency who could not act on complaints emanating prior to their formation.

In 1998 the Bank became an independent public entity, wholly owned by the Treasury Solicitor on behalf of the government, with independence in setting monetary policy.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee has a devolved responsibility for managing monetary policy. The Bank’s Financial Policy Committee held its first meeting in June 2011 as a macro prudential regulator to oversee regulation of the United Kingdom’s financial sector.

As a regulator and central bank, the Bank has not offered consumer banking services for many years, but it still does manage some public-facing services such as exchanging superseded bank notes. Until 2016 the Bank provided personal banking services as a popular privilege for employees.

B.o.e.n. was quietly dissolved, following liquidation, on 27 July 2017. (Bank of England Nominees Limited – Insolvency, commencement of winding up 13 October 2016, due to be dissolved on 27 July 2017).

Much mystery came to an end, in part anyway, when in a kind of ‘return for fixing the 1997 elections’ and facilitating New Labour into power, Parliament passed  the  Bank of England Act 1998, which gave the Bank’s Court of Directors complete independence with regard to monetary policy. That brought about the operation of a nationally owned institution,  which has the monopoly in the production of the national currency, and places independent control of the country’s monetary policy in the hands of a Court of Directors who serve the private banking system as they have since the Bank was established.

It means private banking control of the United Kingdom’s currency and monetary policy, and all that fully independent of government.

Since 1998 one witnessed the Bank rapidly inflate the money supply, while at the same time relaxing regulation on how banks could lend. No longer were banks required to have cash in reserve for loans they made. Instead the vast majority of currency entering the economy did so as a result of commercial banks entering some numbers into a ledger – money out of thin air, literally.

Working for the private bankers, the Bank of England set things up to maximise the returns for their banking colleagues’ speculative activities, in the full knowledge that as a nationalised institution, it would be the United Kingdom taxpayers who were carrying all the risk, and not, as would have been the case before 1946, the shareholders.

The Court of Directors is working for a kind of ‘combination’: the Anglo/Dutch/Saudi empire – the still-alive-and-kicking hidden hand behind the British Empire of the Victorian age. So it is no surprise that the solution they provide to today’s manufactured monetary financial collapse is to print more money. Their ultimate aim could be that of destroying  the last vestiges of British sovereignty.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who had served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Blair Government from 1997 to 2007, announced the new financial infrastructure at the 2009 gathering of the G20. Then he announced the possibility of a new global currency – to be issued and managed by the newly reinvigorated International Monetary Fund.

Protected by the Royal Charter and the Official Secrets Act, the B.o.e.n. never told anybody who are the shareholders, who control the company, who are the beneficiaries thereof: the Rothschilds, perhaps? The Queen, maybe?

Nevertheless, one would be surprised on finding out that the Bank of England, which is entitled to issue cash, then lends it and charges interest to the government, acting therefore like a private business.

This kind of operation is very much like that of the Federal Reserve Bank of America, which is a privately owned bank, as all central banks of the world are, including the Bank for International Settlements in Switzerland, which is the Central Banks’ clearing house.

If one day the ‘One World Government’ actually had an address, this would be part of it – the B.I.S, another privately owned bank, the central bankers’ central bank, beyond the control of guaranteed by democratic practice, yet able to influence events secretly from behind the scenes. One thing is certain: in times of financial crisis, these central banking networks become supremely powerful. The people wielding this power see the world’s financial crisis as their moment of opportunity to seize greater power. The scary part of that is that hardly a living soul even knows they exist. Now, that is real power.

What’s all this about?

The late Carroll Quigley, a distinguished American historian and theorist of the evolution of civilizations, noted for his teaching work as a professor at Georgetown University, for his academic publications, wrote a book on who ruled the United States and Great Britain between 1870 and 1960. He called it: Tragedy And Hope: A History Of The World In Our Time, (GSG and Associates San Pedro, California, 2004). The work is the ultimate view of a secret global élite which has impacted nearly every modern historical event. The main thesis is that the Anglo-American banking élites were able secretly to establish and maintain their global power. The book provides a detailed world history beginning with the industrial revolution and imperialism through two world wars, a global depression and the rise of communism. Tragedy and Hope is an important work on the world’s power structure and an essential source material for understanding the history, goals and actions of a possible ‘New World Order’.

The gist of the work is that “the power of the Bank of England and of its governor was admitted by most qualified observers.” In January 1924 Reginald McKenna, who had been Chancellor of The Exchequer in 1915-1916, as Chairman of the Board of The Midland Bank, told its stockholders: “I am afraid the ordinary citizen will not like to be told that the banks can, and do, create money … And they who control the credit of the nation direct the policy of Governments and hold in the hollow of their hands the destiny of the people.”

Quigley commented: “… the powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole.”

And again: “Each Central bank sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world.”

Continued Wednesday – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 15)

Previous instalment – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 13)

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

 

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FFS, Albo. Show some mongrel!

By Grumpy Geezer  

How hard can it be, Albo? 

You’re up against a cadre of mullet-headed, swivel-eyed, spittle-flecked, purse-lipped, curtain-twitching, flabby-jowelled, short-armed, mouth-breathing, bristle-headed, bow-legged, soggy-crotched, gravy-stained, drink-addled, baggy-arsed, liver-spotted, pendulous bellied, stiff-knecked, soft-cocked, addle-pated, snaggle-toothed, self-satisfied, shit-grinning, jelly-backed, knee-bending, wombat-headed, training-wheeled, bottom-feeding charity bin bandits, bobble-headed, undies-sniffing self-abusers, brown baggers, skivers, poons, backstabbers and assassins, doorknob jigglers, porch climbers, coin slot fingerers, touts, hairy-palmed monkey spankers and shrubbery-skulkers, pilferers, dangle berries, gimps, lickspittles, tree poisoners, flat-earthers, frog boilers, humbugs, liars and thieves.

They are discredited, disgraced, dishonourable, double-dealing, duplicitous detritus. And you won’t take ’em head on? You won’t challenge this incompetent coagulation of feculent barrel scrapings in a face-to-face knuckling? FFS! Could there be an easier target? Is there anywhere a more deserving coffle of arses to kick?

“I will hold his government to account, strongly and forcefully. I am a values politician. But I also say this — I’m not Tony Abbott.

“People want solutions, not arguments. They have conflict fatigue.” (Albo, 2019, news.com.au).

Mate, not being Tony Abbott means not being an arsehole – that leaves plenty of latitude for how you fight the Tories. “I like fighting Tories. That’s what I do.” Remember that Albo? That was you in 2012.

Conflict fatique? Bollocks!  We want these bastards to face the consequences of their duplicity, we want the rorters, grifters and lurk merchants held to account, we want retribution for years of malfeasance and snark.

You cannot negotiate with RWFWs Albo. Negotiation is capitulation, appeasement is surrender. Theirs is a zero sum game with one winner. And it ain’t you Albo. Or us.

We want that perpetual, condescending, god’s-on-my-side smirk wiped off FauxMo’s happy-clapping face.

We want you to slap those smug, chubby Friednburnt cheeks.

We want the potato-headed Herr Kipfler called out constantly for his sadism and incompetence.

We want that sour kraut Cormann to be shown up for the treachorous double-dealer that he is.

We want the priapic, purple Beetrooter pursued.

We want an end to incompetence, wilful ignorance and creeping totalitarianism.

We want a federal integrity commission with teeth.

We want real action on climate change and species extinction.

We want an end to the victimisation of those who were handed the shitty end of life’s stick.

We want an Australia as it should be and can be – no more pandering to the most privileged, no more genuflecting to religious bigots, no more profiteering by tax-evading foreign pillagers.

What are you waiting for, Albo? The inevitable Lib self-immolation? Dutton’s shank to Morrison’s ribs? Joyce’s spiking of McCormack’s beer? What harm will this freak-show cause while you play the long game?

Don’t play nice. They won’t return the favour; they’ll see any civility or courtesy as weakness and they’ll double down. They are serial offenders – do you think they’ll change?

Watching Abbott punch himself in the head was good fun. Not much was required of Labor in those times other than to enjoy the spectacle. Then came Malcolm and the Lib’s bitter tribal wars and again, it was great spectator sport. The coming election was to be a lay down misere, FauxMo’s Machieavellian subterfuge to steal the top spot should’ve sealed the deal for you. Well, that went well,didn’t it?

Your Labor strategy folk fucked up in the election campaign. Bigly. The electorate has the collective memory of a goldfish yet there was no attacking of the abysmal preceding six years of incompetence and failure, no mention of the infighting, no highlighting of the corruption and disregard for our institutions, no reminders of their sabotage of our most treasured icons such as the ABC and CSIRO and our values and democracy. You thought the best strategy was to be calm and measured and forgiving of the past. And you got played like a fiddle.

Now you seem to have lost your bottle entirely. Put up a fight FFS! Whatever happened to principles and the ethos of the Labor Party? Are you selling us out Albo? Are you collaborating with the enemy?

We need a mongrel, not a pussy cat.

This article was originally published on geezerspot.com.

 

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A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 13)

By Dr George Venturini  

Even to attempt to establish the private wealth of the Queen would be – for all practical purposes – a fruitless exercise.

The Queen has a private income from her personal investment portfolio, (G. Rayner, ‘Queen’s finances are safe from cuts for two years’, The (London) Telegraph, 21 June 2015), but her personal wealth and income are not known. (P. Hall, Royal Fortune, Tax, Money and the Monarchy, Bloomsbury, London, 1992, at xxii).

As early as 1962 estimates were being made on the actual wealth of the Queen. Jock Colville, a former private secretary to Princess Elizabeth, as she was before becoming the Queen, “made a statement reported in The (London) Times in which he said that the Queen was worth 12 million pounds.” In 1971 the same Jock Colville, now Sir John Rupert Colville, as  a director of the Queen’s, Coutts and Co., which  is a private bank and wealth manager, founded in 1692, and the seventh oldest bank in the world, estimated the Queen’s wealth at £2 million in 1971 (the equivalent of about £26 million (AU$46,466,828 as at 30 June 2018)

In 1991 The (London) Sunday Times estimated that the Queen had assets worth US$11 billion (AU$14,910,166,401 as at 30 June 2018).

In 1992 Guinness World Record wrote that the Queen was “asserted by some to be the wealthiest woman,” although “a few of her assets under the perpetual succession of the Crown are either personal or disposable.”

An official statement (by The Earl of Airlie as Lord Chamberlain) from Buckingham Palace in 1993 called estimates of £100 million “grossly overstated”.

In October 2001 The Mail on Sunday ran a two-part Royal Rich Report which estimated the Queen’s wealth at nearly US$ 2 billion (AU$2,712,552,247 as at 30 June 2018), mainly broken down into the following: stocks and shares estimated at US$800 million (AU$1,084,992,961 as at 30 June 2018), jewellery collection worth US$120 million  (AU$162,766,433 as at 30 June 2018), including a diamond brooch worth nearly US$42 million (AU$56,968,495 as at 30 June 2018), stamp collections valued at US$167 million (AU$226,548,593 as at 30 June 2018), and fur coats that she never wears worth at US$1.6 million (AU$2,170,022 as at 30 June 2018). The Queen’s collection does not include horses and a stud farm, wine, medals, a collection of classic cars and land – a lot of land, in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and other lesser known domains across the seas.

In 2002 Queen Elizabeth II inherited her mother’s estate, thought to have been worth £70 million (the equivalent of about £105 million (AU$187,441,806 as at 30 June 2018).

In April 2011, on the eve of another ‘royal wedding’ – that of William and Kate – Forbes magazine conservatively estimated Elizabeth II’s  fortune at around US$ 500 million  (AU$ 678,650,490 as at 30 June 2018) . This figure seems to conflict with a total addition of the Queen’s personal holdings.

In 2012 the financial firm Wealth-X, a global financial advisory firm, estimated the Queen to be worth US$510 million (AU$692,322,897 as at 30 June 2018).

In 2012, also, the Sunday Times estimated the Queen’s wealth as being £310 million (AU$ 553,671,928 as at 30 June 2018), and that year the Queen received a Guinness World Record as Wealthiest Queen.

Forbes magazine estimated the Queen’s net worth at around US$500 million (about £325 million in 2011 – AU$ 678,957,191 as at 30 June 2018) (‘Just How Rich Are Queen Elizabeth And Her Family?’, www.forbes.com; (‘Queen Elizabeth has a fortune worth over $500 million’, www.businessinsider.com.au), while an analysis by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index put it at US$425 million (about £275 million in 2015 – AU$577,106,936 as at 30 June 2018) (T. Metcalf, ‘Queen Elizabeth II Isn’t as Rich as You Think’, bloomberg.com, 20 October 2015).

The Sunday Times Rich List 2015 estimated the Queen’s wealth at £340 million (AU$607,314,663 as at 30 June 2018), making her the 302nd richest person in the United Kingdom. For the first time that year the Queen was not among the Sunday Times Rich List’s top 300 most wealthy since the list began in 1989 She was number one on the list when it began in 1989. (H. Nianias, ‘The Queen drops off the top end of the Sunday Times Rich List for the first time since its inception’, The Independent, 26 April 2015).

The Express asked again “What is the Queen’s net worth? How much does the Queen get paid?”

The increase granted in 2018 meant that the amount provided by the Sovereign Grant will have almost doubled in two years since it was set at £42.8 million in 2016-2017 (AU$76,360,938 as at 30 June 2018).

Sir Alan Reid, the Keeper of the Privy Purse, said: “In 2016-17 the Sovereign Grant equated to a cost of 65p per person in the United Kingdom – the price of a first class stamp.”

The Sovereign Grant for the financial year (2017-2018) increased to £76.1 million (AU$135,768,672 as at 30 June 2018), which represents a cost of £1.16 per person. Next year’s £82.2 million (AU$146,660,280 as at 30 June 2018) settlement will be equal to £1.25 a head.

But these are miserable, propagandistic considerations worthy not only of panem et circenses but also of a lot to drink, while treating the subjects as helots!

In the last year alone, the Crown Estate, a property company nominally owned by the sovereign, increased profits by 8.1 per cent to £328.8 million (AU$586,726,069 as at 30June 2018).

In March 2017 the House of Commons had voted to allow the grant paid to the ‘Royal Family’ to be increased from 15 per cent of Estate profits to 25 per cent over the next ten years.

The decision was based on the need to find £369 million (AU$658,328,491 as at 30 June 2018) over the next 10 years to pay for ‘essential works’ to Buckingham Palace.

The Queen’s personal fortune remained unknown, but in 2016 Forbes again guess-timated that her private wealth came to £415 million (AU$742,18740,383,640 as at 30 June 2018).

This estimate included her private real estate portfolio, Sandringham House, Balmoral Castle, real estate in London and agricultural land across the country.

Forbes ranked Elizabeth II as number 29 on its Power Women list in 2016 but her personal wealth is only a fraction of the monarchy’s total fortune. As Queen she is to benefit from assets which are technically owned by the Crown such royal palaces and the crown jewels.

The Crown Estate owns a huge amount of property including Buckingham Palace,  Windsor Castle, Clarence House and most of Regents Street. (J. Tambini, ‘What is the Queens net worth? How much does the Queen get paid ?’, 28 June 2017, www.express.co.uk).

The Queen’s personal art collection alone is worth at least 10 billion pounds (AU$17,840,599,397 as at 30 June 2018), but is held ‘in trust for the nation’, and cannot be sold. The Queen also privately owns large amounts of property which have never been valued, including Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House. Furthermore the Queen owns the Duchy of Lancaster, which is valued at 310 million pounds (AU$553,031,995 as at 30 June 2018). The Queen technically owns the Crown Estate with holdings of 6 billion pounds; although the income of this was transferred to the Treasury in return for the Civil List payments.

The Queen also enjoys the income from the Duchy of Lancaster, an ancient estate made up of lands across the country and stock market investments. As at 2012 the Duchy had a market value of US$600 million (AU$810,775,939 as at 30 June 2018).

“Not included are those assets belonging to the Crown Estate,” wrote Forbes, “which she gets to enjoy as Queen, such as $10 billion (AU$13,510,369,082 as at 30 June 2018) worth of real estate, Buckingham Palace – estimated to be worth another $5 billion (AU$6,755,181,866 as at 30 June 2018), the Royal Art collection, and unmarked swans on stretches of the Thames.”

However, the Almanach de Gotha (German: Gothaischer Hofkalender) – a directory of Europe’s royalty and higher nobility first published in 1763 by C.W. Ettinger in Gotha in Thuringia, Germany – is more generous in assessing Elizabeth II’s wealth. As the leading authority when it comes to royalty, the Almanach placed the Queen’s wealth over US$100 billion (AU$135,090,351,750 as at 30 June 2018), claiming that, as sovereign, the Crown Estates, Royal palaces, Crown Jewels, et cetera, are legally hers. This makes her not only the richest monarch, but also the richest person in the world – richest beyond measure if one can only imagine Queen Elizabeth II’s holdings through a myriad of nominee companies.

Most people have heard Winston Churchill’s description of Russia as “a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.” The dictum applies to the Bank of England.

On 27 July 1694 a private joint-stock association called ‘The Bank Of England’ was formed with a capital of £1.2 million – Bank of England Act 1694. The capital was ‘loaned’ to the government in consideration of a monitory and banking monopoly over the Kingdom of William III (1650-1702).

The Bank was privately owned by stockholders from its foundation in 1694.

The Bank’s headquarters have been in London’s main financial district, the City of London, on Threadneedle Street, since 1734. It is sometimes known by the metonym The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street or The Old Lady.

There is still a view that it is controlled by the Rothchilds. Actually, story of the Bank of England is strictly tied to the history of the British Empire. The British Empire was never a political empire; it was always a monetary financial empire, as much a parasite on the people of Great Britain as on the rest of the world. The myth of the Victorian’s British Empire bringing civilisation to the darkest parts of the world is one which needs real reconsideration.

The Bank of England was originally set up as a core part of the British Empire and for its first concern: making huge profits from loans to the British East India Company and other tendrils of the Great British parasite. The mainstays of the trading activities of these companies were drugs, warfare and the looting of raw materials from poverty stricken places.

As the banker to the Government, the Bank also did quite well from lending to the Treasury. In those days, the profits of the Bank went into the hands of the shareholders.

In 1844 the Rothschild manifested desire to take complete control of the United Kingdom came true with the Bank Charter Act. This Act gave the Bank of England the monopoly on the production of Sterling, and control of Britain’s money supply. In Northern Ireland and Scotland, where to this day commercial banks are allowed to print their own money, they must have one Bank of England note in reserve for every note of their own that they issue.

The Bank of England is now the central bank of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the model on which most modern central banks have been based. It is still the second oldest central bank in operation today, after the Sveriges Riksbank. The Bank of England is the world’s eighth oldest bank.

Continued Saturday – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 14)

Previous instalment – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 12)

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

 

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Climate Catastrophe

By RosemaryJ36

I am one of a growing number of people who accept the science that tells us that urgent action is needed if we are to avoid the extreme effects of the mankind-generated climate emergency.

I am normally optimistic, but the re-election of the climate-change-denying Coalition government sees me feeling less positive.

I keep in touch with news from around the world, I see that – despite POTUS’ intransigence on the need for action – there are growing efforts in many US states to reduce emissions and increase the use of renewable energy.

I see European countries also achieving significantly reduced reliance on fossil fuels. Even China is making moves to reduce its dependence on coal.

My 18-year-old granddaughter, who is a high functioning autistic, was recently charged, I assume under some form of civil disobedience legislation, for gluing herself to the road at the Extinction Climate protest in Edinburgh. I would have gladly joined her were I not so far away!

I have solar panels on my roof. I cannot afford an electric car but I have a very fuel-efficient hatchback. I minimise waste and recycle all I can.

I am appalled at the Coalition’s refusal to even begin effective action. The states and territories are mostly increasing support for renewable energy but the electricity supply network needs central control to take the action necessary to adapt to increasing fluctuations arising from feeding power back into the grid.

The 3-D printed solar film, which the CEO of CSIRO showed the Q&A audience a few weeks back, is already in use in Japan, to generate electricity and reduce evaporation of water – a necessity for life which Australia does not husband well enough!

I seriously wonder whether the weird brand of religion followed by some in government, particularly the PM, has led them to believe that, as ordained by their god, the end of the world is nigh, and they are accepting that as a given, and refusing to try to prevent it!

Certainly, without effective and rapid action, the end of the world as we know it is rapidly approaching! Heat waves in Europe are likely to reap deaths from heat exhaustion. Polar ice in the Arctic is rapidly melting with clear implications for rising sea levels and adverse effects on marine life as well as the survival of species like the polar bears.

THE TIME FOR TALKING SHOULD BE OVER! 

When governments think in 3-year bites (except when it comes to tax cuts, when they are happy to deny future funds to essential services in order to please voters in several years’ time!) they appear to refuse to consider cause and effect.

In fact, it appears that an alarmingly high proportion of our elected politicians are totally ignorant when it comes to scientific understanding.

We have government subsidies going to those who mine the coal and drill or frack for gas. We have trees being mown down so corporations can increase their profits, and greed and graft are rampant.

Most people reading this on the AIM Network could rightly accuse me of preaching to the converted. But I shall also post it on social media where it just might cause a stranger to think again about priorities and politics.

Where is our Extinction Climate action in Australia?

Our children have already led the way with their Strike 4 Climate rallies.

Are we adults all wimps or what? Do we ignore the truths spoken by Greta Thunberg because she is just a teenager, so what would she know about life and science? She has done the research which governments continue to ignore.

Please, can we set a date, when all who support the need for immediate action to fight global warming can down tools and get out in the middle of our nearest town and outside our government offices and make it clear that we need action and we need it NOW!

And we need to repeat this effort, monthly and then – if no changes are made – weekly! 

Our world and the future of our children is in our hands. If we fail to take action, we will pay an appalling price in lives.

THE TIME FOR EFFECTIVE ACTION IS NOW!

LATER WILL ALMOST CERTAINLY BE TOO LATE!

 

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We are defined by our politics …

By Keith Thomas Davis  

I rarely write about politics in Australia because so many other people from either side of the divide do it so much better, and because it is a subject matter guaranteed to cause in me an ongoing feeling of frustration and, at times, utter bloody amazement.

We have a cobbled together system of governance that combines the adversarial Westminster System with a new crassly copied American presidential way of electing our national leader. We have a debate-less Parliament where the farce of Question Time demolishes any notion of a contest of ideas.

We have a checks and balances system whereby an unruly House of Representatives, largely full of party hacks, is supposed to be kept honest by an unruly Senate, peopled also by dutiful hacks as well as an odd smattering of independent minuscule vote gatherers.

Undoubtedly there are good people in our Parliament from either side of politics, but when you look at the majority of the others, those representatives of the people, you’d have to hope that their mindset does not represent that of the Australian population as a whole.

As an Australian voter I’m well aware that I have absolutely no direct input into who becomes PM, and that the only person I am actually voting for is my local candidate. Each particular party elects its own leader. Half of us seem to have an understanding of that stark truth, but our voices are swamped by the press barons, the political parties themselves, and the commentariat, who at the last election insisted it was a but a choice between Morrison and Shorten. Forget the policy agendas … simply choose your hero and vote accordingly.

We’ve now entered an era in Australian politics where the cult of the hero, where who can prove to be the most authentic liar, where aspirational greed has been weaponised to such an effective suck-in degree, and where economic truth is blithely lied about and subsequently believed in, has left us with the reality that any notion of democracy here has been well and truly dust-binned.

People say that a small minority of undecided voters who cannot think for themselves, unless it concerns the greasing of their own wallet, continually have the final sway-say on which type of government gets elected at the end of each three-year cycle. Perhaps what people say is right.

Political parties represent their bases, and for the last six years we have had governments replete with policy indecision and guided by internally controlled groupthink. The only question of note emanating from Parliament House over the last six years is how finely honed does the assassination knife really need to be to be terminally effective?

It is said that the Westminster system of government has served us well. Really? How does a system, based on the fact that either side will automatically oppose what is proposed from the other side, serve us well?

I really do think it is time that a blast of arctic wind blew cleansingly across the flat plains of both sides of the Australian political landscape. But will that ever really happen? Probably not. It is far too predictable to forecast how the next three years of our politics will play out.

A party that claims to play up to the wish of many Australians to own their own homes will concurrently pursue an industrial relations agenda of casualisation and low pay that will ensure that home ownership remains an impossibility for far too many.

A party that vociferously states that they protect our borders from a tiny number of traumatised genuine refugees who arrive by boat, and who are no threat to anybody, will continue to ignore the number of arrivals at our airports as an inconvenient truth because of their ideological belief in the value of unending growth and jobs. Hypocrisy, demonisation, xenophobia, and inhumanity, will continue to reign supreme.

A party that proudly proclaims the strength of Australian geo-political independence will also automatically kow-tow to any request for Australia to join any newly proposed coalition of the willing. Afghanistan failed. Iraq failed. Ignorable facts when you have a demonstrated ability to not think for yourself and simply do as you are told. Our young people, and our veterans, will continue to pay the price for such short-sighted thinking.

A party that has perfected the technique of being elected without a coherent policy platform in sight will continue to pork barrel the buying of votes and the ongoing wastage of taxpayer dollars into a tiny number of marginal seats.

A party that hardly even pretends to veneer any sort of genuine environmental credential will continue to try to blindside the unstoppable growth of renewable energy, and will continue to promote the agenda of their vested interest donators. There is no satisfaction in knowing that it is a battle that they will ultimately lose, because some of the environmental damage their thinking is causing is permanent.

A party that continually damns and demonises the poor and the disadvantaged as unworthy, will continue to do so because it plays well with their base. At the same time they will continue to pursue policies that protect the rich, fool the middle-class into thinking that their hopes and aspirations are being catered to, and which are guaranteed and planned to keep the poor as a handy and blameworthy ‘other’.

The unemployed will continue to be treated as Newstart Criminals. A jailer type corporation has now been contracted to help corral the unemployed. The scent of Arbeit Mach Frei, Work Sets You Free, now overlays some of our Unemployment Industry institutions. The erosion of our freedoms is not limited to the civil liberties arena … just ask anyone who is unemployed for confirmation.

A party that professes to support the notion of free speech will continue to muzzle the press via intimidation, will continue to muffle the voice of independent thought via the creeping method of de-funding the ABC, and will continue to demonise anyone with a different political ideological bent as some sort of vague threat to national security … you can ask Bill Shorten about how that one feels.

A party, seemingly still guided by a rump of zealots, will continue to install religious proselytisers in our secular schools via the Chaplaincy Program. Indeed, reality, and practice, Australia is a secular nation … just look at the empty church pews. It is right that people should be free to practice the religion of their choice whatever that may be, and a minority of Australians do just that without bothering anyone else, but it is not right that the children of the secular majority should be exposed to religious proselytising against the wishes of their parents.

A party that promises to govern for all Australians will continue to claim a mandate and continue to ignore the wishes of the Australians whose first preference vote last time favoured the opposing group of political parties. Here’s some raw first preference numbers from the AEC …

4,752,160 ALP

3,989,404 LIBERALS

1,482,923 GREENS

642,233 NATIONALS

488,817 PALMER’S MOB

479,836 INDEPENDENTS

438,587 PAULINE’S MOB

I’m well aware that we do not have a First Past the Post electoral system, and that preferences and deals etc are the ultimate deciding factor in our system. Nonetheless, these figures do debunk a couple of currently held Australian political myths.

In a comparative sense of who their first preference is, the majority of Australians do not support the Coalition made up from a union of the Liberal and National parties. The majority of Australians actually support the Non-Coalition made up from a non-union of the ALP and the GREENS.

People say that voters are swinging in huge unstoppable numbers towards Independents and minor parties. Do the first preference figures say that? I don’t think so. The majority of Australians remain Centrist and continue to vote for the GREENS, the ALP, the Liberals, and the Nats. Personally, I wish that they’d drop the Liberals and the Nats, but the figures are what they are.

We seriously need to question a system that allows minor fringe parties, who receive such a small proportion of the first preference vote, to exercise so much power and influence over the policy agendas of the major parties who receive the overwhelming majority of the first preference vote.

I don’t have rose coloured glasses on where the side of politics I support is concerned. The adherence of the ALP to mirroring certain Coalition policies in order to not lose votes, on such matters as border protection and refugees, makes me cringe at times. I understand that these issues are very vexed, and that there is no easy solution in sight, however I do feel that when you disassociate love of fellow man from public policy agenda you’re doing a disservice to both self, and to the well-being of the psyche of the nation.

The ALP and the GREENS are not perfect, and they attract their fair share of criticism, some of which I agree with. However, I think for myself, I’m not a party hack lemming, and I have never supported the notion that one simply has to make a choice between the two of them. I embrace both. They are of one tribe as far as I am concerned. The blend of their general policy agendas is exactly what, in my opinion, Australia needs. It is why I share my vote between them.

Whatever I may think of the coalition between the Liberals and the Nats I will say this for them. They have formed an effective coalition. Despite the fact that the Libs don’t really give a toss about the bush, and that the Nats don’t really give a toss about the cities, their Coalition enables them to get elected, and re-elected. I gnash my teeth at that fact, but I accept that fact as reality.

Somewhere in all of that, in my opinion only, there is a lesson for the ALP and the GREENS. When comparing existing coalitions or existing non-coalitions, the ALP and GREENS combined receive the majority of first preference votes. When you also consider that about 54 of the ALP’s new seats in the 46th Parliament were decided by preference flows, and when you consider from which party the majority of those preferences flowed, you’d have to think that the ongoing internecine warfare and knee-capping that goes on between both parties self-defeats the greater cause of both.

Will an effective coalition ever be formed between the GREENS and the ALP? That’s like asking can you remove a party’s ego from that party’s quest for power. Parties are made up of human beings, and human beings have egos, huge ones in some cases. So only the two parties involved in this matter can provide the answer to that question.

None of which will stop me from voting for them. I believe in social justice. So do they both.

We, as a country, are at least in part defined by our politics. As I mentioned in my opening statement, I feel utterly bloody amazed at what I see unfolding daily in our political arena. It is not a happy amazement.

 

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Nutbags and Dickheads

By Grumpy Geezer  

A guide to the Liberal Party. They will sell you the secrets to getting rich for only $9.99. They’ll get rich and you’ll be out a tenner.

* * * * *

The Tory’s broad church embraces a diverse range of sects within its hairy-palmed parliamentary congregations with grifters, lurk merchants, drunkards, hayseeds, suck-holes and seat sniffers making up their number. Despite this diversity they all worship the same deity. Mammon is their god, their common cause and the only thing that unites their fractious tribes. It’s the unifying force across the otherwise disparate coveys of Personality Defects Checklist box-tickers.

It’s a given that Tories are uniformly avaricious; spinning greed as aspiration, selfishness as ambition, wealth as virtue. It’s who their party is, it’s their reason for being, it’s the essence of the Tory cause. We can be disgusted by it but we can understand it – just as a naturalist can understand the behaviour of hyenas squabbling over a carcass. The thing that makes the Tory party intriguing though, adding some interest to their otherwise off-putting pestilence, is the sub-groups that collectively form this foozle of a political party.

The following is a catalogue of toxic Torydom that I thought could provide some insights for those struggling to understand the contents of humanity’s remainder’s bin trading as the Liberal/National Party & Co.

The riders on the sunshine bus

The evolutionary U turners who’ve yet to master an opposable thumb, these dull-eyed remedial readers are an inspiration to underachievers everywhere.

Suffering severe cases of Ability Deficit Disorder these time servers should be serving time for taking wages under false pretences but are instead pulling a motza for simply pushing in stools on the backbenches. These stink-fingered chin-dribblers would be out of their depth in a car park puddle. The standouts are:

Gorgeous George Christensen – The perpetually clammy George is an ovoid Humpty Numpty whose sex appeal is a request for donations rather than a personal attribute.

Malcolm Roberts “the living soul” – Built like a chicken’s instep but with a disproportionately bulbous head he’d be a sniper’s dream. Suitable transport for the living soul would be a bullet-proof convertible.

Michael McCormack – He’s found his niche as head noddy – a dullard of such monumental proportions that people are warned about operating heavy machinery within 2 hours of hearing him speak.

The fully-licensed f-wits

The product recalls of politics, they will nevertheless leave their mark – drool stains on the carpets and teeth marks on the door handles.

Craig Kelly – This is what happens when a giant arse-crack grows arms and legs. A Mr Creosote body double sans the table manners.

Melissa Price – With a face like an interrupted sneeze, Price was listed as Missing In Action during the election campaign, the irrefutable logic being that the less people saw of her the better were her prospects of re-election.

Her genius as Environment Minister was to make her job easier by ensuring there was less environment to look after.

Michaelia Crash – Imagine the ideal of womanhood: a lilting laugh and quick wit, kind, nurturing, self-sacrificing, intelligent and who lifts spirits and brightens a room merely by her presence. Now imagine the opposite.

The pompous, condescending twats

Conservative governments believe their primary task is to keep the Labor Party away from the Treasury benches. From a Tory perspective we all dwell in a profit-making enterprise, Australia Inc, not a society like those lefty bastards would have us believe.

And the environment is to be monetised and not coddled as if it supported all life on the planet. If they could privatise oxygen the Libs would charge us to breathe.

(“Hang on – rampant clearing of oxygen producing forests, rising levels of CO2? I’ve got an idea for a start-up.” Roger Grosse-D’Barkle, Young Liberal Of The Year).

The highest accolade in the Church Of Mammon is to be put in charge of the country’s  finances. Hence the smug, patronising humbug from the brothers grim Frydenberg and Cormann. These two innumerate dunny bungers have over-sighted our worst economic performance since WW2 – still pointing at Labor after six long years of fiscal ineptitude while shovelling the bucks to the big end of town and dangling bribes in front of the already well off.

The best that can be said of these two is that they are not crazies, they are just incompetent munts whose agenda is to Americanise our traditional fair go country into a dog-eat-dog dystopia of ruling, privileged elites.

The holy rollers

These are the brethren who’ve managed to reconcile their devotion to both Jesus and to mammon by upgrading to Jesus V2.0 who comes packaged with an extensive property portfolio and access to franking credits.

And they are creationists yet they preach social Darwinism (“lifters and leaners”, “if you have a go you’ll get a go”). Slogans are their forté, not deep thought.

Scooter Morrison – With Jesus on his team Scooter likes the idea of encouraging an earlier onset of Armageddon by joining his new friend and fellow cockwomble, the orange BLOTUS, in a drive-by bombing of Iran.

Stuart Robert – Brother Stuart’s frequent and lengthy communication with Jesus is apparently via the interwebs if his $38,000 internet bill is any indication.

The Tony Abbott Memorial Sink Holers

A rustic sub-branch characterised by confusion on where they stand with their peculiar brand of capitalist socialism. These self-sufficient, rugged individualists have never refused a government grant, have never turned away a subsidy or knocked back a tax-payer hand-out.

Matt King Coal Canavan – A humble servant for his constituents – dodgy Indian mining billionaires. Matteo wants to use our money to underwrite stranded assets to be milked for profit by filthy rich foreign free-marketeers who will not pay any tax. Matteo’s not been reading Joshie’s copy of Better Economic Management for Dummies.

Black Angus Taylor – The answer to the first question in a proctology exam Angus is a strong believer in tax payer support of family businesses. His own (1).

The sex pests

The Crusty Undies Club members:

Barmy Barney Joyce, aka Barney the dinosaur – the fossil tossle. The purple-headed member on the purple-headed member apparently has a mind of its own. Sure as shit Barmy has got no idea WTF he’s doing.

Jamie Briggs – Fondler of public servants (2). His dad was a banker; Jamie took a different, albeit rhyming path. He’s now returned to a job he’s qualified for – a model for stranger danger posters, but he possibly maintains his name on the Crusty Club mobile app.

Andrew Broad – Randy Andy enjoyed a vigorous sex life but he found himself in strife when he tried to find someone to share it with (3).

* * * * *

So, that’s the nutbags. What I do not understand however are the dickheads who voted for them.

(1) From the time Angus Taylor entered parliament in September 2013, companies & organisations the Taylor family have managed, directed or are directly associated with have benefited from over $93,515,673 in federal & state government funds. (This thread is in no way intended to infer any of the Taylor family have acted in any way inappropriately).

(2) Jamie Briggs Wikipedia

(3) Andrew Broad’s dumb mistake The Guardian

This article was originally published on geezerspot.com.

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The Root Cause

By 2353NM  

Frequently, when presented with a problem, we attempt to treat the symptom rather than the real issue. For example, if every morning when you get in your car you notice that one of the tyres looks a bit flat, you could treat the symptom by calling in at the nearest petrol station and putting more air in the tyre. However, as air doesn’t shrink or disappear for no reason, there is obviously a deeper issue involved. It could be that your tyre has been punctured and a screw or nail is still in the tyre, or it could be that the rim of the tyre has been bent or twisted. So, you could go on treating the symptom into the future (and calling at the local petrol station on a regular basis), or you could address the real problem and get the tyre or rim fixed. Sometimes however, the real problem or ‘root cause’ of the issue isn’t quite as easy to observe or fix as a screw in a car tyre.

Johann Hari has written a book entitled Lost Connections, which describes his quest to understand why increasing amounts of anti-depressants prescribed for him for a long time had little or no long-term effect. One of his findings was that people were treating the symptoms rather than the root cause. He uses the example of Kotti, a suburb of West Berlin where those who ‘didn’t fit’ within the general community were housed in decaying apartments in an area that was best described as a ‘nook’ in the Berlin Wall. When the wall came down, Kotti went from being forgotten to become an undeveloped area in a great location in the centre of unified Berlin. Soon after, the developers moved in and the decaying apartments were in danger of being bulldozed. The residents, who fairly typically when developers move in had nowhere to go and with a bit of help started to organise and ‘man the barricades’. Gradually, the barricades became more substantial and people were onsite 24 hours a day on a roster system. Hari describes a number of people rostered on barricade duty, who in the past had completely different lifestyles isolated from each other and society, (as individuals are usually afraid of talking to people that look or act ‘strangely’ or have different moralities), began sitting together with not much to do, and started talking.

Gradually, people started greeting each other in the street and stopping for a chat, realising that regardless of the individual’s beliefs or appearance, they also were human. And gradually a community was born. Shops opened and diversity was encouraged by the residents, leading to a community that had the energy to retain the best of what it had and become a place where people wanted to be, with the local government controlling development so the exiting residents were not overwhelmed. That’s when the medical services began to notice that the people that made up Kotti were gradually becoming happier. They observed the beneficial effect of less medical interventions and drugs being required for the people who lived in the area. Hari also looked at similar examples around the world (including in Australia) where belonging to a community has led to a reduction in mental ill-health and a subsequent decline in the use of prescribed drugs to ‘regulate’ people’s moods.

Obviously, pharmaceutical companies can’t really monetarise community and happiness, which is part of the reason why research into ‘making people feel part of where they live’ is not funded to the same level as the next ‘breakthrough medication’ that will be sold to help people feel (for a while at least) that they are happy and coping with life. There is certainly a place for medication in mental health, but the issue is that long-term use of increasingly stronger doses of drugs is treating only the symptoms, not the ‘root cause’.

It’s the same with politics where there is far more effort and time spent in identifying particular groups of people such as the ‘haves’ or ‘have nots’ and either lauding or persecuting them for the positions in which they find themselves. The reality is that the difference between ‘having’ and ‘having not’ is sometimes a decision made by a manager who might not know where Australia is and is usually totally unrelated to the individual’s performance or knowledge. So the ‘person who used to have’ applies for welfare and gets caught in a spiral where one side of politics observes that welfare is ‘too easy to obtain’ and implements some practice to ‘ensure the dole bludgers don’t rort the system’, making it more draconian, and so on ad infinitum with a resultant deterioration in welfare applicants’ feeling of ‘worth’ in the community where they live.

At the same time, the ‘haves’, observing the language used to justify increasingly draconian practices being imposed on the welfare recipients, believe they should get more as the ‘dole bludgers’ are ‘wasting’ the support they are receiving. So the government promotes tax cuts or increases business write offs/child care supplements/funding for health insurance or private schools, or similar payments (which are really welfare payments in all but name) to appease the ‘haves’ who are clamouring for greater levels of ‘support’.

While there is nothing wrong with targeting groups in the community with assistance to derive some holistic benefit, there is a problem when the targeting is done to seek votes or popularity with certain sectors of the community. Flatter tax rates and so on do benefit those on higher incomes; while the dollar amount they pay can be higher, the percentage of their income required to live in similar fashion to those on lower income is less, leading to inequality, which in turn doesn’t do anything for building or maintaining perceived equity and fairness in communities.

Some Governments, such as in New Zealand and the ACT, have realised that budgets are not just financial documents. How the wealth is distributed is important, as discussed in this ABC report. Bhutan has used a ‘Gross Happiness Index’ for decades.

Maybe they are on to something. We have discussed research that suggests that happiness comes from being in a community, so we can make the assumption that while ‘state against state’ and ‘mate against mate’ might be OK in football games, it shouldn’t be a way to run a country. Rather than creating ideological wars between different groups within our community and treating the symptoms, research suggests our community would be better if the root causes of greed and inequality were addressed. While the ALP seems to be on the right track, it’s hard to see how those promising to ‘Make Australia Great’ or claiming to be the ‘better economic managers’ are helping. Let’s just hope the ALP doesn’t change focus away from community to try to grab some votes in the next few years.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 12)

By Dr George Venturini  

If being poor in Britain in 2012 was brutal, it continued to be brutal in 2018.

If not reading the papers, what were the occupiers doing at the Palace? Counting money, perhaps.

The Queen’s personal fortune has been the subject of speculation for many years. And the personal wealth must be distinguished from the expenses necessary to run the show.

The ‘work’ of the Royal Family is financed by the ‘hereditary revenues of the Crown’. The British Parliament employs a percentage of the Crown Estate, a part of the Crown’s hereditary revenues belonging to the sovereign which is placed at the disposal of the House of Commons, to meet the costs of the sovereign’s official expenditures. It is not an easy operation.

The expenses include the costs of the upkeep of the various royal residences, staffing, travel and state visits, public engagements, and official entertainment.

But there are other sources of income and these include, as will be seen, revenue from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster, a parliamentary annuity, and income from private investments.

It is all enveloped in arcane language. Hence it is for The Keeper of the Privy Purse to be The Head of the Privy Purse and Treasurer’s Office and to carry overall responsibility for the management of the sovereign’s financial affairs. And where there are changes the language becomes rococo. So on the occasion of consideration of the latest reforming arrangement, the Queen would not say a plain ‘thank you’ – She would send a ‘gracious message: ‘The Sovereign’s gracious message to the House of Commons re: The Sovereign Grant Bill’, Buckingham Palace. 29 June 2011 (pdf).

There was in the past what was referred to a as the Civil List. Historically, until 1760 the monarch met all official expenses from hereditary revenues, which included the profits of the Crown Estate – the royal property portfolio. King George III agreed to surrender the hereditary revenues of the Crown in return for the Civil List, and this arrangement persisted from 1760 until 2012.

The Civil List was paid from public funds and was intended to support the exercise of the monarch’s duties as head of state of the United Kingdom. In modern times the Government’s profits from the Crown Estate always significantly exceeded the Civil List. Under the Civil List arrangements the Royal Family faced criticism for the lack of transparency surrounding Royal finances. The National Audit Office was not entitled to audit the Royal Household. (R. Verkaik, ‘First look at royal finances fails to satisfy MPs’. The Independent, 28 June 2002).

Under such arrangements the Queen would receive an annual £7.9 million a year from the Civil List between 2001 and 2012. The total income of the Royal Household from the Treasury was always significantly larger than the Civil List because it included additional income such as Grants-in-Aid from the Treasury and revenues from the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster. The total Royal Household income for the financial years 2011-12 and 2012-13 was £30 million (AU$53,726,453.56 at mid-June 2018) per annum, followed by a 14 per cent cut in the following year. However, the Treasury provided an additional £1 million to pay for Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

Royal expenditure differs from income due to the use of a Reserve Fund, which can be added to or drawn from. The official reported annual expenditure of the Head of State was £41.5 million (AU$74,320,492.93 at mid-June 2018) for the 2008-09 financial year. This figure did not include the cost of security provided by the police and the Army and some other expenses. (‘Cost of Royal Family rises £1.5m,’ BBC News, 29 June 2009).

The way of funding the Royal Household by a mixture of Civil List payments and Grants-in-Aid was amended by the Sovereign Grant Act of 2011. From 1 April 2012 a single annual Sovereign Grant has been paid by the Treasury. The level of funding for the Royal Household is now linked to the Government’s revenue from The Crown Estate.

The Sovereign Grant Annual Report provided that the Sovereign Grant was £31 million (AU$55,357,623, as at 30 June 2018) for 2012-13, £36.1 million (AU$64,477,714) for 2013-14 and £37.9 million (AU$67,689,723 as at 30 June 2018) for 2014-15. The amount of the Sovereign Grant is 15 per cent of the income account net surplus of the Crown Estate for the financial year which began two years previously. The Sovereign Grant Act provided that the arrangements would have been reviewed by 2016 and a mechanism to prevent the amount of the Sovereign Grant increasing beyond what is necessary because of the growth in Crown Estate revenue. Under the Sovereign Grant Act the National Audit Office is now empowered to audit the Royal Household.

On 18 November 2016 a plan was announced to increase the Sovereign Grant from 15 per cent to 25 per cent to renovate and repair Buckingham Palace. The percentage is set to revert to 15 per cent when the project is finished in 2027.

The Duchy of Cornwall is a Crown entity holding land and other assets to produce an income for the monarch’s eldest child. The Duke of CornwallCharles, Prince of Wales – receives revenue towards charitable work and official activities, supported by the Queen’s Grant-in-aid funding to provide assistance with official travel and property. These financial arrangements also cover the official expenditure of some members of his immediate family. The Duchess of Cornwall, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry all have their official expenses paid from Duchy income, assisted by grants-in aid from the Queen. For the fiscal year 2011-12 – the Diamond Jubilee year – the Duchy was valued at £728 million AU$1,300,075,577 as at 30 June 2018) with an annual profit of £18.3 million (AU$32,678,877 as at 30 June 2018) paid to the Prince.

The Duchy of Lancaster is the private estate of the British Sovereign – that is Queen Elizabeth II – consisting of land holdings and other assets. As it is held in perpetual trust for future generations of Sovereigns, the Sovereign is not entitled to the estate’s capital. The revenue profits of the Duchy are presented to the Sovereign each year and form part of the Privy Purse, providing income for both the official and private expenses of the monarch. In the financial year ending 31 March 2015, the Duchy was valued at £472 million (AU$843,122,237 as at 30 June 2018) , providing £16 million (AU$28,578,541 as at 30 June 2018) in income.

In 2017 the Paradise Papers revealed that the Duchy held investments in two offshore financial centres, the Cayman Islands and Bermuda. Both are British Overseas Territories of which Queen Elizabeth II is monarch, and nominally appoints governors. Britain handles foreign policy for both islands to a large extent, but Bermuda has been self-governing since 1620.

The details of the Queen’s offshore dealings come from a leak of 13.4 million files from two offshore service providers and the company registries of 19 tax havens.

The material was obtained by the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and shared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists with partners including The Guardian, the BBC and The New York Times.

The Duchy’s investments included First Quench Retailing off-licences, Threshers and rent-to-own retailer BrightHouse. (H. Osborne, ‘Revealed: Queen’s private estate invested millions of pounds offshore’. The Guardian, 5 November 2017).

In 2005 the Duchy invested US$ 7.5 million in Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP, according to files from the offshore law firm Appleby. The fund invested in and profited from a company which developed fingerprint technologies for mobile phones and made investments in other high-tech and pharmaceutical companies. Other investors included British and American universities, a United Arab Emirates bank and charitable foundations. In June 2008, the Queen’s estate received about US$360,000 from its investment.

The Cayman fund also invested in a private equity company which controlled BrightHouse, a U.K. rent-to-own firm which has been criticised by consumer watchdogs and members of Parliament for selling household goods to disadvantaged Britons on payment plans with annual interest rates as high as 99.9 percent. From at least 2004 to 2010 the Duchy also invested in the Bermuda-based Jubilee Absolute Return Fund.

The Queen’s offshore investments have not been disclosed in annual financial reports of the Duchy, which is not obliged to reveal the details of her personal wealth. (Queen Elizabeth II | ICIJ Offshore Leaks Database, The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, offshoreleaks.icij.org).

The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is a global network of more than 190 investigative journalists in more than 65 countries who collaborate on in-depth investigative stories. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists  database contains information on almost 500,000 offshore entities which are part of the Panama Papers, the Offshore Leaks and the Bahamas Leaks and some from politicians featured in the Paradise Papers investigation. The data cover nearly 40 years up to early 2016 and links to people and companies in more than 200 countries and territories.

“The Duchy has an ongoing investment in the Cayman Island fund and was not aware of the investment in BrightHouse”, a spokeswoman for the Queen told The Guardian, an ICIJ media partner. She also confirmed the Duchy’s investments in two additional offshore funds. “The duchy’s investment policy is based on advice and recommendations from our investment consultants and asset allocation rather than tax strategy,” the spokeswoman said.

Though the Duchy characterised its stake in BrightHouse as negligible, it would not disclose the size of its original 2005 investment, which coincided with a boom in the company’s value. BrightHouse has since been accused of overcharging customers, and using hard sell tactics on people with mental health problems and learning disabilities. In October 2017 it was ordered to pay £14.8 million in compensation to 249,000 customers.

The Duchy also disclosed investments in “a few overseas funds”, including one in Ireland, and would be under pressure to give details of where the money is being held.

Although the estate said it received no tax advantages from investing offshore, the revelations about the finances of the Queen, one of the world’s richest women, will likely re-energise campaign groups and some MPs who have demanded greater scrutiny of royal spending. The disclosures also highlight the lack of transparency that has been a concern for critics, who have railed against the moral ambiguities of the offshore sector and demanded major changes. (‘Revealed: Queen’s private estate invested millions of …’, theguardian.com).

The most recent filings by the Duchy show it had assets worth £519 million at the end of March 2017. The Paradise Papers offer an unprecedented glimpse of the way the Duchy invested some of its money, including details of complex offshore arrangements not set out in the royal household’s annual statements.

According to the leak, the Duchy used offshore private equity funds designed to shield United Kingdom investors from having to pay United States tax on their holdings.

Investors who do not pay tax in the U.K. can face a tax bill if they invest in certain types of funds in the United States, although the Duchy said it gained no tax advantage from investing via the Caymans.

The stakes in Threshers and BrightHouse can be traced back to an investment into one of these schemes by the Duchy in 2005. The papers show it committed £7.5 million to Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP.

The Duchy became a limited partner in the scheme at the same time. Dover Street VI Cayman Fund LP is a “feeder” for another American fund, which invests in venture capital and private equity funds around the world.

Letters in the Paradise Papers show how the Duchy’s money sluiced through various funds, and where it ended up. Managers from Dover Street set out what cash they needed and where they had been putting it on behalf of investors.

In a letter dated September 2007, they explain that they have taken an interest in a private equity vehicle called Vision Capital Partners VI B LP. The Dover Street fund was one of 27 limited partners making an investment.

The letter explains that this was “formed by Vision Capital Partners to acquire a portfolio of two retailers in the United Kingdom.” Two months earlier, Vision Capital Partners VI B LP had bought BrightHouse and Threshers.

The investment in Vision Capital Partners by the Dover Street fund was among several outlined in the managers’ call for funding, to which the duchy was asked to contribute US$450,000 – 6 per cent of its commitment.

The Dover Street VI fund was set up to run until the end of December 2014 and since then has been selling off its holdings and returning funds to investors. It is unclear from the leak what has been returned to the Duchy. The Paradise Papers show only one payout from the fund, a letter from June 2008 explaining the duchy was entitled to US$ 361,367.

It seems to have received the distribution after paying a tiny amount of tax – 0.4 per cent – which it appears to have offset against the next payment into the fund.

BrightHouse, with more than 270 stores across the United Kingdom, had been accused of overcharging customers and using hard-sell tactics. It had previously denied claims as to its conduct and accused critics of misrepresenting the business. But it has been under investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority, which in October 2017 said that it was not a responsible lender.

The company was also forced to change the way it checked customers’ finances before granting them loans, in order to keep its consumer credit licence.

BrightHouse has limited its tax bill through a large loan to a Luxembourg holding company. Between 2007 and 2014, it reported £1.6 billion in revenue and made an operating profit of £191 million, but paid less than £6 million in corporation tax, analysis by Private Eye found. The Duchy’s chief finance officer, Christopher ‘Chris’ Adcock, told The Guardian it had been unaware of the indirect holding in BrightHouse.

“Investors commit to a fund for a given period and are not party to its ongoing investment decisions,” he said.

The Paradise Papers show that through the same indirect investment, the Queen’s money was invested in Threshers before it went into administration in 2009.

When asked what other offshore holdings the Duchy has, Adcock said it “invests in a fund domiciled in Ireland”, but declined to give details. In a second statement, the Duchy admitted it “operates a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimised.”

The Duchy would not give details of the size of the original stake in 2005, or what had been taken out since then.

“The Dover Street investment was bought in 2005 and forms only 0.3 per cent of the total value of the Duchy. The duchy investment in Brighthouse is through a third party and equates to £3,208,” it said.

Adcock confirmed that the duchy invested £5 million in the Jubilee Absolute Return Fund, which invests in hedge funds. At the time of the investment in June 2004, the fund was based in Bermuda. In 2006, it moved to Guernsey.

At the outset, the fund’s manager, Fauchier Partners, sought assurance that it would not be taxed in Bermuda on its income or any gains until 2016. The fund, which has been invested in by a string of charities and council pension funds, is now run by a different manager and has been renamed the Permal Absolute Return Fund, one of the world’s largest funds of hedge funds.

The papers do not make clear what money, if any, the Duchy made from this arrangement. Adcock said that the Duchy had redeemed its stake in the fund in 2010, but its investment in the Dover Street fund was expected to last for another two to three years while the fund was wound up.

There are some revelations, several concerning the ‘Royal Family’, from the Paradise Papers:

1) Millions of pounds from the Queen’s private estate have been invested in a Cayman Islands fund – and some of her money went to a retailer accused of exploiting poor families.

2) Prince Charles’s estate made a big profit on a stake in his friend’s offshore firm.

3) The 6th Dukes of Westminster, Major General Gerald Cavendish Grosvenor, KG CB CVO OBE TD CD DL (1951 – 2016), a British landowner and businessman had pumped millions into secretive offshore firms.

And, just by way of digression, but equally significant, Cambridge and Oxford universities and top American universities invested offshore, with some of the money going into fossil fuel industries.

‘The Palace’ did not comment on the revelation that the Duchy of Lancaster, which handles the Queen’s private wealth, used offshore investments.

A spokesperson for the Duchy of Lancaster said: “We operate a number of investments and a few of these are with overseas funds. All of our investments are fully audited and legitimate.”  … “The Queen voluntarily pays tax on any income she receives from the Duchy.”

Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn posited whether the Queen should apologise, saying anyone with money offshore for tax avoidance should “not just apologise for it, [but] recognise what it does to our society.” A spokesman for the Duchy said that all of their investments are audited and legitimate and that the Queen voluntarily pays taxes on income she receives from Duchy investments. (‘Paradise Papers: Queen should apologise, suggests Corbyn’, BBC, 6 November 2017).

Prime Minister Theresa May said that the ‘UK [was] already acting’ on offshore tax havens. She insisted that efforts were already under way to obtain revenue from offshore tax vehicles, adding: “We want people to pay the tax that is due.”

Speaking at the CBI Conference Centre, the Prime Minister said that Her Majesty Revenue & Customs had already collected £160 billion by tackling tax avoidance, evasion and non-compliance since 2010.

Mrs. May’s spokesperson said: “It is important to point out that holding investments offshore is not an automatic sign of wrongdoing, but H.M.R.C. has requested to see the papers urgently so it can look into any allegations.”

But when asked, Mrs. May did not commit to a public inquiry into tax revenue lost through offshore tax avoidance schemes.

Mr. Jon was Thompson, Chief Executive and Permanent Secretary of H.M. Revenue and Customs vowed “to chase down” anyone trying to hide money offshore and evade tax.

He told the Commons Public Accounts Committee that H.M.R.C. had asked to see the leaked Paradise Papers in order to “look at every case of tax evasion very seriously.”

Mr. Thompson said that there were 66 ongoing criminal investigations into the Panama Papers, which in April 2016 exposed tax avoidance and evasion, saying £100 million could be retrieved. “That gives you some sense about how long quite complicated tax cases take to bring to some sort of fruition,” he added.

The Crown enjoys tax-exemption because certain acts of parliament do not apply to it. Crown bodies such as The Duchy of Lancaster are not subject to legislation concerning income tax, capital gains tax or inheritance tax. Furthermore, the Queen has no legal liability to pay such taxes. The Duchy of Cornwall has also a Crown exemption and the Prince of Wales is not legally liable to pay income tax on Duchy revenues.

A ‘Memorandum of understanding on Royal Taxation’ was published on 5 February 1993 and amended in 1996, 2009 and 2013. It is understood that the arrangements in the memorandum will be followed by the next monarch. The memorandum describes the arrangements by which the Queen and the Prince of Wales would make voluntary payments to the Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs in lieu of tax to compensate for their tax exemption. The details of the payments are secret. The Queen voluntarily pays a sum equivalent to income tax on her private income and income from the Privy Purse – which includes the Duchy of Lancaster – which is not used for official purposes. The Sovereign Grant is exempted. A sum equivalent to capital gains tax is voluntarily paid on any gains from the disposal of private assets made after 5 April 1993. Many of the Sovereign’s assets were acquired before that date but payment is only made on the gains made afterwards. Arrangements also exist for a sum in lieu of inheritance tax to be voluntarily paid on some of the Queen’s private assets. Property passing from monarch to monarch is exempted, as is property passing from the consort of a former monarch to the current monarch.

One can see that everything is private, secret, confidential – away from the eyes of the subjects. Why? No one should dare asking!

Continued Wednesday – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 13)

Previous instalment – A cast of characters: The Monarchy (part 11)

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

 

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