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The Voice to Parliament: Why the ‘Detail’ Argument is Bunk

Speaking at a festival recently, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese proposed a referendum to create an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice. Specifically, the proposal is that the following three sentences be added to the Australian Consitution Act of 1901

1. There shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

2. The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to parliament and the executive government on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

3. The parliament shall, subject to this constitution, have power to make laws with respect to the composition, functions, powers and procedures of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

One of the ‘arguments’ that are brandied about concerning the Voice is ‘lack of detail’. The government is not being precise in its definitions of what these changes would mean in practice. This claim can be laid to rest if one reads the report that serves as the basis for the Voice. In this piece I want to provide some of the ‘missing detail’ by quoting from and analysing the report. Since the media will seemingly not do its job, somebody has to.

The Details, Part One: What the National Voice Actually Is

The National Voice would serve as a body representing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to both the parliament and the government. It would comprise ‘a small body’ of members. The National Voice is an extension of (and chosen from) Regional and Local Voices. In this way, Regional and Local Voices function like local, state, and federal governments. Each represents an increasingly larger territory. This should belie any claim that the National Voice is some kind of ‘fifth column’ in Australian democracy. The Voice is based on the same model, with its members chosen locally.

Specifically

Members of the Local & Regional Voices within each
state and territory would collectively determine
National Voice members from their respective
jurisdictions

This answers any questions about how members would be chosen. It is an entirely local process decided upon by ATSI citizens.

The Details, Part Two: Accountability and Member Removal

Another question I must confess I had before reading the relevant section of the report was about accountability and the potential removal of Voice members. The report addresses these issues as follows

[The process for removal should include these steps]

  1. Alerting the member to the issue that may
    lead to the removal;
  2. Alerting the member to their risk of removal
    and the process that will now be followed;
  3. Consideration of the issue and a decision
    made on whether to remove;
  4. Opportunity for the member to address
    the issue;
  5. Steps put in place to mitigate the issue if
    required or remove a member; and
  6. Review processes that would give an
    opportunity for the member to seek review of
    the decision, in line with protocols agreed for
    the region

A detailed process indeed. An interesting procedural countermeasure to the outrage mob that has brought about the resignation of certain parliamentary members. Of particular note is point number four, the opportunity for the member to address the issue (and presumably maintain their spot if the issue were an honest mistake). Sam Dastyari and Peter Slipper may have benefitted from something like this, but I digress.

The Details, Part Three: Term limits

The issue of term limits for members is addressed in this way

No set length of terms is being proposed for
members of Local & Regional Voices; rather, this
is to be left open for community consideration
as part of the design of the structure

It is truly amazing how much detail the media has overlooked. In their defense, the report is dense but this is the life you chose. Your responsibility is to inform the people, and obscuring details does not serve this end. One could be forgiven for thinking that the media has an agenda here: scuttle the idea of the National Voice since that is the position of their overlords and political allies. The respective motivations are different, of course: political conservatives despise social change/progress and the media makes money off social division, but the result is the same. This is perhaps a little cynical, but in this day and age, one can never be too careful.

Hell of a Hill to Die On: The Opposition

The ‘detail’ argument forms a considerable part of the opposition to the National Voice. Indeed, the very nature of the opposition says a great deal about the more – regressive – parts of our society.

Consider this extract from the report

Only a tiny minority of people said there should
not be a National Voice. This opposition was mainly
expressed through submissions from a campaign of
considerably similar submissions, as well as other
individual submissions, such as the submission from
the Institute of Public Affairs rather than many
divergent opposing views

The report makes clear that the ‘tiny minority’ of detractors is about 2% of responders. In terms of the description in the report, the phrasing is a little clunky, but the point is clear. Considerably similar submissions made up the opposition ‘input’ to the discussion. In other words, the opposition was an astroturf campaign consisting of reading the talking points rather than actual opposition. Speculation? Maybe, but the Institute of Public Affairs, a far-right ideological ‘think tank’, is not known for its reasonable takes. It is almost as if the opposition submissions were copied and pasted. Thank you for your input. Please do not call us. We will call you.

Conclusion: Devils Obsessed With Detail

The details of this report, which inform the available details around the National Voice, are plentiful. Contrary to what the opposition is saying, this project is not vague and does not lack detail. I encourage anyone who is interested to read the report linked above. In spite of how I have criticised the media here, the burden still falls on proponents of this fine idea to sell it. The details that the detractors are looking for are present in the report. Not that I believe they would actually listen to and accept those details (since that was never the point), but at least you can say you tried.

Forward, Mr. Prime Minister.

 

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Biden’s Response to Roe: An Analysis

As many are no doubt aware, the Supreme Court of the United States overturned the 1973 decision Roe v Wade. Given how big of an issue this is for Democrats (they have run on it for decades), one would think they would have a response ready. Sadly no. The response, if one may call it that, has been anemic, to say the least. Extra damning is the fact that a draft of the opinion was leaked to the public. They knew this was coming and have done precisely nothing in response. Today I want to take a look at a recent Executive Order from President Joe Biden issued in response to the Dobbs ruling overturning Roe. I also want to use this to look at Mr Biden’s political philosophy more generally.

They’re Called The Classics for a Reason: Joe as Gaslighter in Chief

As part of his reading of the Executive Order, the President dragged out this classic from the hymn book

We need two more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality

The President would do well to remember that he currently has 51 votes in the Senate and a majority in the House. This gives the Democrats complete control of the Legislative and Executive Branches. The suggestion seems to be that not enough of the Democratic Senators are pro-choice. So the voters have to vote not just for Democrats, but for the right type of Democrats. The situation is never quite good enough to justify action, is it, Joe? There’s always a problem, for which the voters can be blamed, that gets in the way? Democrats have had super-majorities in the past and still not codified Roe.

Now you might be wondering: if this is such an issue for Democrats, why have they not codified Roe? The answer is in the question: the issue of abortion is just about the last issue the Democrats have left. If they actually solve the issue, then it is resolved. They can no longer run on the issue if it is dead. The big bad Republicans coming for your abortion rights (which was true – they were) was designed to get the Democratic base out to vote. The Democrats running on codifying Roe was only useful as long as it was not done. You codify into federal law the protections contained in Roe and the goose that laid the golden egg is depleted. This is why the Democrats, despite many opportunities, did not codify Roe. For this, eternal and unmitigated shame on them.

The Meat: What the Executive Order Does

Krystal Ball of Breaking Points provides a useful summary of what the Executive Order says

[The Order] largely finalises what has already been announced by the Administration. [This includes] instructions to the Justice Department to ensure women can travel out of state for abortion care. [The Order] addresses the elevated risk for patients, providers and clinics, which includes efforts to protect mobile clinics that have been deployed to state borders [for purposes of allowing women to go interstate for termination care]

It goes on, but you get the basic idea. Noteworthy here is that these actions are largely in response not to the Dobbs decision, but to state action taken in response. Many states had what were called trigger laws in place. These were laws that, once Roe was overturned, would move to severely restrict (or outright ban) abortion. The President is responding more to those actions than to the Court’s ruling. He side-stepped actually codifying Roe by blaming the voters for not giving him the political tools to do so. Cute, Mr President, but I for one see through it. You have options, but you are not willing to take any political risks to use them. Allow me to explain.

The President’s Options, Part One: The Senate

The Democrats have a majority in the Senate. They also control the House. This means they should be able to get their agenda through. The House is what we may call a tyranny of the majority. Basically, if you are in the majority, whatever you say goes: the minority has no power. This is not the case in the Senate. There is a piece of…parliamentary procedure in the Senate called the Filibuster. This is where the minority can require a sixty-vote super-majority to pass a bill.

Previously, this used to be the so-called ‘talky filibuster’. This required standing and talking for as long as possible without a break. This is no longer the case. Now all that is required is for a Senator to say ‘I filibuster’. No talking is needed and sixty votes are now required. To pass any legislation, you either require a super-majority or members from the other side to vote with the majority. How often does that happen these days?

What is left out of the discussion around the Senate is that so many of its rules are convention. All that would be required to carve out an exception to the filibuster is a majority vote. But the Democrats are reluctant to do this because they want to maintain the power of the minority for when they inevitably are back there. But this too is crap: an exception does not do away with the filibuster entirely.

Finally, for those who cite Manchin’s conservatism as an obstacle, there is a solution here too. Manchin’s daughter is a criminal. There are emails of her conspiring to price gouge epi-pen users. Threaten him with the AG or the DOJ going after her unless he changes his vote. This is called playing hardball politics.

The President’s Options, Part Two: Divide and Conquer the Opposition

Even if the Democrats could not get a full codification passed, you can still propose individual bills codifying parts of Roe. Examples here include well-known exceptions to abortion bans such as rape and incest. If the Republicans wish to vote against or filibuster these, let them do so at their own political peril. Democrats hold the majority position here. I believe I saw a poll that said abortion not being legal under any circumstances is supported by roughly 15% of the population. The Democrats then paint themselves as on the side of the people and the Republicans as the extremists that they are.

Now, of course, there are ‘pro-life’ members of the Democratic caucus, and this may explain why they do not take this path. The very exposure of the extreme Republicans I mentioned above would also expose any extreme Democrats. Evidently, the Democrats are unwilling to expose extremists in their own ranks: they value power more. So to hell with addressing this issue they have run on since Roe was decided in 1973. Power, with which Democrats do precisely nothing, is more valuable.

The President’s Options, Part Three: Abortion Clinics on Federal Land

Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez proposed building abortion clinics on federal land inside states where the procedure is severely restricted or banned. The central idea seems to be that state governments have no power on federal land, and so clinics could be built there if the federal government desired. Any state law restricting termination procedures would be null and void on federal land. It is noteworthy too that the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortion, also does not provide a problem here. Since it would be the provider paying the government to lease the land, no federal money would go towards termination procedures. It is a clever workaround.

The President’s Options, Part Four: Court Reform

The final option that the President has that was notably absent from the statement, the Order itself, or general discussion, is Court packing. Since three seats were arguably stolen from the Democrats (Gorsuch, Coney-Barret and Kavanaugh), many have floated the idea of expanding the Court. This idea, if the Administration were ever considering it at all, has been, if you will pardon the expression, aborted. The Supreme Court has gone full rogue authoritarian and the Executive and Legislative Branches, nominally meant to be a check on the Court, are doing nothing.

Former President FDR similarly faced a rogue Court. All he had to do was threaten to reform/pack the Court and they saw the error of their ways. Joe Biden does not have the conviction to do that. He is, at his core, an institutionalist and a conservative. Rocking the boat is not in his nature, even if it is taken over by pirates.

Conclusion: Institutionalism as Death Knell

I hinted above at Mr Biden being an institutionalist. I should define what this means. It refers to someone who defers to established norms and conventions, seemingly for their own sake. The actual usefulness of the institution in practical terms is irrelevant. In Mr Biden’s mind, the Court ruled this way and so the best he can do is tweaks around the edges. This exposes the fundamental conservatism of Mr Biden’s approach to politics. He is unwilling to do anything that would be considered ‘uncivil’ or ‘lacking decorum, Good Sir’.

Mr President, asking people to depart in an orderly fashion and wait their turn while the theatre is on fire helps no-one. Institutions, like anything else, are ripe for reform if they no longer serve the interests of the people. The Republic is crumbling around you, Sir. Your unwillingness to do anything may be concisely summed up as an argumentum ad morem fallacy. This is the argument from tradition. In other words, something is correct not because of the substance of the argument, but because it comes from tradition. Basically, traditional equals correct. If this is your guiding principle, Sir, America should be very different than it is now. Slavery should still exist, along with prohibition and the infamous ‘three-fifths clause’. This is not an effective argument, Mr President.

Like any body-politic that hopes to survive, America must be adaptive. She cannot afford to become calcified. At this point, the incumbent President is not the man for the moment, and should be primaried.

 

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Blinded by The Right: Albo Overseas

The media and the opposition have made much of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s gall in travelling overseas. Cries of hypocrisy are flying thick and fast around criticism of Scott Morrison travelling overseas during a natural disaster when Mr Albanese is doing the same thing. This piece is intended as a follow-up/piggy-back on a great article on this site called Airbus Albo, which I encourage you all to check out.

Context is Everything; What the Opposition Left Out, Part One: Travel

Attacks from opposition politicians are usually devoid of context. They are designed to score cheap political points. The target audience of these attacks is ‘headline readers’, consumers of media who do not know the context. The specific attack being used right now is a false equivalence. The two points of comparison are Mr Albanese going overseas during the NSW floods and Scott Morrison doing the same thing during the 2019 bushfires. Left out, of course, is the vital context that Mr Albanese is on official business, whereas Scott Morrison, to use friendlyjordies’ phrase, f*cked off to Hawaii on holiday.

The idea that these two things are even remotely comparable is laughable. One is a new Prime Minister who needs to show his face to our allies early in his first term. He is also repairing Australia’s disastrous relations with foreign countries, specifically France. The other was a lazy cosplayer prime minister who went on regular holidays, seemingly ignoring his duties. The nerve it takes for the LNP opposition to complain about Mr Albanese spending time overseas cleaning up their foreign relations mess is gargantuan. Both the politicians making the claims and their media stenographers ignore all context around Albanese and Morrison’s overseas trips.

As a final parting comment for this section, it would behoove the opposition to be silent on issues of overseas travel.

Context is Everything; What the Opposition Left Out, Part Two: Ukraine and Flood Relief

As part of his trip to Europe, Mr. Albanese visited war-ravaged Ukraine. Opposition member Angus Taylor criticised the fact that we had not heard from him for forty-eight hours. Once again, Taylor ignores vital context: when travelling in a warzone, leaders observe radio silence for security reasons. Mr Albanese was not on some secret personal sojourn (unlike a certain trip to Cornwall I could mention) but was observing protocol. But this does not fit the narrative and so Taylor left it out. Slimeball.

Finally, we come to flood relief for NSW. As many are aware, a recent deluge has left many parts of the state in disarray. Authorities have declared a state of emergency. The NSW Premier, Dominic Perrottet, was at a press-conference the other day and even he had to correct as ‘untrue’ suggestions that the federal government was not helping. Indeed, Mr Perrotet said that Mr Albanese had called him and said ‘what do you need’. Disaster payments went out in a matter of days. The response was efficient and cooperative. When even a Liberal Premier has to correct the media narrative around Mr Albanese and the flood response, there is a serious problem.

So, we have a number of problems with this attack on Mr Albanese. First, he was on official business while Scott Morrison was on holiday during a disaster: not the same thing. Second, there was communication between the Premier and Prime Minister (so Albo out of action was a lie). Third, disaster payments went out as needed rather than on a partisan basis. How quickly the LNP thinks people forget. The electorate has a long memory.

The opposition has a perpetual case of foot-in-mouth disease.

The Obvious Follow-up: Is it Deliberate?

In this piece, I have criticised the media for being opposition stenographers. They simply report what their partisan allies in the LNP say. The question above, is it deliberate, refers to whether the media is unaware of the context I outlined, or they know about it and choose to ignore it. Neither resounds to their benefit. If they are unaware of the context outlined above, they are terrible at their job. If, however, they are aware of it but choose to ignore it, that is much worse.

To his credit, Angus Taylor’s interviewer did bring up the issue of radio silence, but the framing was telling. They asked Taylor whether he accepted the idea that radio silence was necessary for security reasons. Whether or not he accepts the facts of reality is not important. The great thing about facts, as de Grasse Tyson said, is that they are true whether you believe them or not. So even when the media tries to hold the opposition to account, there are constraints. Like giving a dog medication in food, it has to be as palatable as possible.

Returning to the point, telling the full story regardless of the partisan outcome is the media’s job. Their role is to give all facts, all context and all details. This naturally clashes with the media’s narrative of ‘Labor bad’. Giving full context to events often exposes cheap political criticisms as just that. It is often difficult to discern intent, but journalists who cover politics should know better. So either way, they are terrible at their jobs.

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Dutton Dressed as Lamb: Dissecting The Image

You may have noticed over the last week or so that Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has received quite the image makeover from the propaganda rags in the media. He is trying to present a kinder, gentler image of himself, as well he might. The problem, however, is that his record in government is both recent and extensive. I want to look at an extensive press conference he gave, and specifically at the transcript presented in the Financial Review.

The Press Conference: The Apology, Part One

When asked why he walked out of the Apology to the Stolen Generations, Mr. Dutton offered this in response

I made a mistake in relation to the apology, and largely that was because of my own background and experience.

Many of you have lived out in regional areas and many of you haven’t.

I worked in Townsville. I remember going to many domestic violence instances, particularly involving Indigenous communities, and for me at the time I believed that the apology should be given when the problems were resolved, and the problems are not resolved.

Is he seriously suggesting that he ignored the apology because Indigenous communities still experience problems? The idea that you do not apologise until the problem is fixed is absurd. Indeed, an apology is the first step in solving a problem since it acknowledges that there is one. Also, if your experience and background compels you to walk out on an Apology to generations of mistreated people, you need help.

The Press Conference: The Apology, Part Two

This might cost me a friend or two, but Dutton actually gets close to a point when he says

Going to a meeting here in Canberra and giving 10 acknowledgments to country, that’s fine, and I don’t say that in a disparaging way.

I want to know how it is we’re going to support those kids and how it is we’re going to get higher health outcomes and mortality rates, more kids through university, just to finish primary school and secondary school to start with. That’s the perspective that I bring to it.

He is surprisingly close to the mark when he says that doing Acknowledgements of Country without actually having practical solutions to the problems that exist is hollow. Now of course he had three terms in government to implement those practical solutions, so his criticism itself rings somewhat hollow. But I see his point: Welcome to Country while leaving the underlying problems unaddressed is tokenism. This still does not excuse him from walking out on what was a national acknowledgement of a problem. Shame.

The Press Conference, Part Three: The Teals and The New Government

Asked if the LNP would abandon any of the seats that the Independents won, Dutton gave this amazing response

I’m not giving up on any seat, but I do want to send a very clear message to those in the suburbs, particularly those in seats where there has been a swing against the Labor Party on their primary vote, in many parts of the country.

Dutton is delusional. He does not mention the broader trouncing his party took. Nor does he mention the six LNP seats the Teals won. He has to shift to the Labor party’s decreased primary vote. Your own primary vote also dropped to record lows, but you do not mention that, do you? Hack.

When asked about the new government, the new Opposition Leader said this

There is huge hesitation around Anthony Albanese and whether he is up to the job. People will give him a go, rightly – they voted for him and there will be a honeymoon period, the media will give him that…but people had big doubt about whether they would vote for him and in some cases…the[ir] primary vote went down.

This hesitation around Mr Albanese of which you speak; where did that come from? I cannot put my finger on it. Could it be from you jokers and your media enablers? Talk about manufacturing your own success. You smear your opponent, the media picks it up and then you claim that what was reported in the media is true.

Second, the idea of a ‘honeymoon period’, specifically with the media, is crap. Have you seen the coverage of the new government? Finally, you keep harping on about the ALP’s primary vote dropping. This is not unique to the ALP. Drop this point, Sir, you will lose it!

The Press Conference, Part Four: China and His Own Credentials

Dutton’s response to a question on China was as arrogant as one might expect

I will support policies which help to defend our country, decisions made by the new government in relation to rolling out AUKUS, which was an incredible achievement of the Morrison government, and other policies which will help keep us safe.

So you will support the new government as long as they continue your policies? That is essentially what he said. The phrase ‘policies which help keep us safe’ is best translated as ‘Liberal policies’. While I am not asking him to abandon his party’s policies (as much as I despise them), it is the height of hubris to say ‘we expect the new government to implement our policies despite the people voting against them’. Garbage. You also cannot stop stoking fear, can you? Australia is quite safe, thank you.

The tone-deafness continues when he cites John Howard’s endorsement (from Dutton’s first term) as some sort of credential. That man campaigned for his party in many seats that the party wound up losing. His opinion is not held in high regard. This press conference is a trainwreck so far.

The Press Conference, Part Five: Big Business and Superannuation

When asked about the LNP’s relationship with big business, Dutton came out with this howler

We will have a cordial relationship with big business, and we will work on that, but I think, frankly, a lot of CEOs now are closer to the other parties than the Liberal Party, that is the modern reality.

Priceless. You have a symbiotic and sycophantic relationship with big business you mean. Delusional. But he saved the best for last: CEOs are closer to the other parties than the Liberal Party!? It is actually impressive that he was able to say that with a straight face. You are not the party of the little guy, Spud. You service the big end of town. The gall to claim that CEOs are more aligned with the party of the workers or the more openly redistributive party is gargantuan. Get that garbage outta here!

On using superannuation to buy property, which would sabotage many people’s retirement and bring about a reverse-mortgage policy, Dutton said this

I think on home ownership, if we’d allowed people to access their super five years ago or 15 years ago, 25 years ago – when you see what property prices have done in our country – they’d be sitting on a fortune.

A pathetic post-hoc rationalisation. No more need be said

The Press Conference, Part Six: The Integrity Commission

The deflection and just total crap continues when Mr Dutton was asked about the integrity commission

I believe very much in the transparency. The reason I think it’s more important than ever is that under this Labour government, under the Albanese government, we are going to have a continuation of this unholy alliance with the CFMEU, the ETU, the MUA and the Labor Party.

Mr Dutton does not seem to realise that the federal integrity commission is a non-partisan body. Its purpose is not, like its state counterpart in NSW was originally, to be an LNP dirt unit on the Labor Party. Rather than simply yell at him to ‘SHUT UP’ as I did when I first read that ridiculous statement, focus instead on the utter lack of self-awareness.

You know it used to be said that the LNP was not built for opposition. I disagree completely. The ability to spin a federal body that will, if done correctly, decimate your own party, into something about the government is actually impressive. He is delusional once again, of course, but the mental gymnastics on display here would make professional gymnasts blush.

The Press Conference, Part Seven: The Biloela Family

Asked about calling the Biloela family ‘anchor babies’, a phrase ripped directly from US right-wing immigration rhetoric, Dutton responded with this

There are hundreds of cases where I acted on grounds of compassion in relation to migration policies. The minister of immigration is one of the most difficult jobs in the government…

So, I wish the family well, I have no gripe against the family, and as I said I acted compassionately in hundreds of cases which were not in the media.

A total and complete red-herring. You were not asked about cases where you ‘acted on grounds of compassion’. You were asked specifically about calling those children ‘anchor babies’. But you did not want to answer that question, did you?

On your complaint about Immigration Minister being a tough job, I have two questions. First, if it was so tough, why did you take it on? You could easily have told your leader ‘I do not want this job’ or refused it in some other way. Second, why does ‘strength’ have to manifest as cruelty? Why does being ‘strong’ have to result in just being a d*ck? You do not know what the word compassion means, and you now expect to be taken seriously when you speak about it? Be quiet.

Finally, you acted compassionately in hundreds of cases that were not in the media? So it is the media’s fault that people view you as an anti-immigrant sociopath. Good to know. But there is hypocrisy here that is noteworthy. Does the phrase ‘white South African farmers’ ring a bell? You wanted expedited visas for those people because they experienced violence and persecution. While this is a good idea, it was not applied consistently, and race played a part in why. Get that garbage outta here!

Conclusion: Dutton Dressed as Lamb

I hope that this article has shone some light on the sheer crap that is the media’s attempt to rehabilitate The Dark Lord. As I said in the opening paragraph, his record in government is too recent and too well documented for this to work, but I thought I would add my voice to the chorus of detractors. No matter how much the media tries to create and run with this new Dutton, the people know who he really is. His recent (and central) role in a government so thoroughly rejected in the polls should be too much to overcome, but with our press, one can never be sure.

 

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I’ve Seen This Movie Before: A Warning for the Albanese Government

Having lived through the last Labor government where the Greens were involved, I am cautious about how the Greens, with their increased influence, will behave under the Albanese government. Leader Adam Bandt spoke of a ‘green-slide’ on election night, despite the party holding roughly 3% of the seats in the House. The popular conception of the Greens is as a ‘non-governing party’. A minor party in the true sense of the word. I say this not to disparage the Greens, merely to acknowledge the reality of their very small numbers in the House.

I want to look today at a piece in the SMH dealing with the rise of the Greens in the recent election.

Background: The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme – Unreasonable?

The Labor Government elected in 2007 was keen to introduce a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS), later demonised as the ‘carbon tax’. The statement was not accurate of course, but when did that ever stop the LNP? But back to the Greens. The Guardian outlined the timeline of events surrounding the fall of the scheme, and the role of the Greens in that process. Even under threat of a double-dissolution, the Senate still rejected the scheme a second time, seemingly because it was not up to the standards of the Greens.

While there is an argument of ‘if you plan to do it, do it right’, the Greens did not seem to acknowledge that compromise is the essence of practical politics. One may ask for much more than one wants in a negotiation, but there is a limit. It is for this reason that the Greens earned the ire of certain political observers. Their policies are rarely costed since it is known that they will likely never be implemented.

The Election Result: Ideology and The Structure of The House of Representatives

All seats in the House of Representatives (the House) have now been called. Labor will govern with a majority of 77 seats. The LNP have 58 and the remaining 18 are shared between the Greens, the Teal Independents and the Others. The Greens have four seats out of 151. Hardly the ‘green-slide’ that Mr Bandt declared.

The SMH article asks this question of all the parties

when it comes to ideology, how much is enough?

The Greens seemed to be the most ideological at the election, with Labor a close second. The Lliberals, as normal for Morrison, stood for precisely nothing. Given the Greens’ increased share of the vote (roughly one in eight), something more ideologically stringent (whatever one thinks of their policies) was the order of the day.

I want to turn briefly to the Liberals and ideology at the recent election. The piece referenced above makes an interesting observation on Morrison and his rise in the LNP

Morrison’s philosophical and ideological vacuity was not an accident. He was chosen out of panic after the Liberals had worked through Abbott, whose most successful setting was negative, and Turnbull…

Faced in 2018 with the prospect of Peter Dutton taking over, the party room gave the nod to Morrison, renowned by his colleagues for having zero ideological attachments beyond his existence as a Liberal.

That last clause is decisive: the decision to place Morrison in leadership was based on his being an empty vessel. He believed nothing beyond being a Liberal. If one may assign a core belief to Scott Morrison, it was in power. As Sean Kelly made clear in his (highly recommended) book The Game, Morrison saw politics as a match between two teams, where winning, rather than good policy, was the goal. This, however, is not an ideology.

Ideology on Steroids: The New Greens

The piece goes on to state

To hear him [Bandt] and his new MPs advocating for the immediate introduction of their climate change stance, you’d think the entire nation had voted Green, not one-in-eight voters.

It is correct to chastise Bandt and his troops for what is, by any other name, entitlement around the implementation of their policy. The party has four seats in the House. This is hardly a mandate. Their slightly increased share of the vote looks to be going to their heads. We have seen this movie before under a previous Labor government. The Greens, who have some good ideas, forget their place as a tiny minority in the grand scheme of things. The Senate is another matter, however. The Greens have at least twelve senators, so on that front they should be taken more seriously. However, the role of the Senate is different to that of the House.

The Prime Minister Responds: Albanese and The New Greens

In another SMH piece, Mr Albanese ruled out negotiating with what he called ‘fringe groups’, including the Greens. The context here was the event of a hung parliament. Interestingly, this did not change after the election. Mr Albanese said that he had confidence and supply secured, and did not need to negotiate with the Greens. The assurance of confidence and supply was presumably a reference to some of the Teal Independents. If this is the case, this lends more credence to the idea that at least some of the Teals are not just Liberals in cheaper suits.

I suspect that The Prime Minister has seen this movie before as well. He is trying to avoid being beholden to the Greens, and it is easy to see why. Having witnessed the destruction of the original CPRS by a Senate where the Greens held much sway. He does not wish to be in a place where he can be dragged too far in one direction or another. With majority government (including, if he desires, a Speaker) now secure, being beholden to the Greens (in the House at least) is now a dead letter.

Conclusion: Learn from History or Repeat It

The newly minted Prime Minister and his government seem to have learned the lesson from ten years ago. They are not willing to be beholden to the Greens because they know how that plays out. This is not to say that the Greens should be utterly shut out. Some of their policy ideas are positive (expanding Medicare to include mental health and dental care for one). But they should not be allowed to demand their policies be implemented when they received a tiny percentage of the vote. Who do they think they are, the Nationals?

More seriously, the lesson of allowing small minority parties to have large influence over policy is not a lesson that Anthony Albanese has forgotten. Long may this strategic competence continue.

 

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Dutton Blasts Albanese: ‘How Dare You Do What You Said You Would Do!’

SATIRE

Incoming Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has blasted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese for doing what he said he would do, as well as going back on an LNP policy.

‘How dare you do what you said you would do? That’s not what a government does’ he said.

‘That’s not what a government does’ he said.

‘He also reversed our policy, a very galling decision on his part. Mr Albanese is very entitled, isn’t he? He seems to think being ‘in government’ allows him and his fellow lefties to ‘make decisions’. The man is ‘delusional’.

 

 

 

 

 

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Election Reaction: The Media’s Tantrum

Elections always bring about diverse reactions. One side is typically overjoyed at victory, while the other is disappointed in defeat. In a two-sided contest, such disparate reactions are the order of the day. In a healthy system, transitions of power are peaceful.

Looking at recent history, however, this trend is fading. Consider 2016 and the famous Women’s March. Consider the so-called ‘resistance Liberals’ who objected to Trump’s ‘tone’ and lack of ‘civility’. In addition, consider the 2020 reaction with the great lie that is the ‘stolen election’.

To prove that Australia is not immune from this frankly hysterical reaction to electoral defeat, I want to look at the media’s reaction to the ALP’s recent victory. The reaction can be described as nothing short of a tantrum. There is a clear and unsubtle subtext of ‘Listen, you peasants, no one said you could vote Labor’.

The Usual Suspects, Part One: Sky News

In a response that shocked precisely no one, Sky so-called News responded to a democratic loss with a few gems. Keep in mind, these are the ‘hard truth’ people who ‘tell it like it is’. Not those overly emotional leftie cucks who yell about their feelings and cry when things do not go their way. After Dark host Paul Murray came out with this absolute pearler in response to the result:

 

 

Ok, in order. Resistance against what? The will of the majority of the voters, who rejected your increasingly hard-right party and their cruel politics? You never get to talk about democracy again, you flaming hypocrite. Oh, you love sacred democracy, as long as it generates the correct result. Also, the mad left? Really, the mad left. So anyone who dares to vote for anyone other than the LNP is a ‘mad leftie’ from whom the country must be taken back. Seems legitimate. Finally, that phrase at the bottom of the screen does not mean what you think it means. You think it means resistance to the mad left. But at face value, that sentence reads that a resistance of the mad left begins now. To paraphrase George Carlin, learn the language we have all agreed upon, you clown.

The Usual Suspects, Part Two: The ABC

There are many voices from the right on the ‘left-leaning’ ABC, a statement the election coverage utterly blew out of the water. One of the most prominent is renowned right-wing hack Andrew Probyn, who had this to say concerning Anthony Albanese:

Does the contempt for voters and the elitism not simply ooze off that statement? In other words, ‘Albo appeals mostly to stupid peasants who do not know their place’. Remember too that these clowns hate elitists, otherwise known as people who can read. But you live in a democracy, remember. You can vote any way you like as long as ‘the right people’ get into power. But sacred democracy is the most important thing, remember. Garbage. Total, utter and complete garbage. As I have long suspected, for Tories, the word ‘democracy’ is a mere buzzword for ‘the status quo which benefits us and our corporate masters’. Get that garbage outta here!

The Usual Suspects, Part Three: Lord (Lady?) Downer

I wanted to end the institutional tantrum that is the reaction to a Labor Party election victory by looking at a statement from former Foreign Minister Alexander Downer. He said

I don’t always think the voters are right and in Kooyong I think they were profoundly wrong in voting out Josh Frydenberg. I think it is a huge national mistake.

Once again we see the contempt for the peasants, a group best understood as anyone who dares to not vote for the LNP. Nothing brings voters onside quite like saying they are profoundly wrong. But the most amusing part is the idea that the ousting of Josh Frydenberg, a single member in one electorate, was a ‘national mistake’. It was an entirely local decision. So not only was it not national, it was not a ‘mistake’ either. This is not merely because I wanted to see the back of old Joshy, but a result in an election cannot, by definition, be a mistake. It was the will of the voters. To borrow from Paul Keating, how you going over there Curly? You old darling? Clod

Conclusion: An Institutional Tantrum

The Labor Party won the 2022 election by some considerable margin. Based on the reactions of various parts of the media, this was not planned. Whether it is Sky, the ABC or any other media figure in the mainstream, the reaction to this democratic election going a certain way may be accurately characterised as a tantrum. Both the Liberal Party and their media allies are nothing but brats in suits. Power is their toy and they should never have to share it. Mummy and Daddy (the electorate in this analogy) made them share it here, and so they are stamping their feet and screaming and crying like the pampered brats they are.

This response, as pathetic as it is, does provide useful insight into the institutional bias in this country. A party with repugnant ideas, which should have gone by the wayside years ago, is propped up by the media, now including the National Broadcaster. For the Labor Party to win government, it has to combat the media as well as the Liberal Party. The fact that the party which represents the workers has been in power roughly 30% of the time in the last seventy years says much about the institutional bias in favour of the LNP.

But back to the plot. The media has shown itself utterly incapable of doing its job. Indeed, the incompetence of the Fourth Estate has given rise to what Giordano of The Juice Media called The Fifth Estate. People like us here at The AIMN, Independent Australia, Alan Austin, Friendlyjordies, The Echidna and others. Just ordinary citizens doing actual critical reporting of government and media. We may never replace the Fourth Estate, but we are far closer to the people than those elitists will ever be. Soldier on, my friends.

 

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A New Start: The 2022 Election

Prologue: The Result

It is done. The former regime under which we have lived for the last nine years is no longer in power. Despite the corporate cheerleading, despite the blatant bias and propaganda from the media, the Australian Labor Party will form the next government. All the king’s monkeys and all the king’s propagandists could not reinstall (off a floppy disk) the LNP. The rise of the Independents and Others (Greens etc) means that a minority Labor government is likely. That says much, does it not? The two times in the last generation that the party of the workers has been allowed to form a government they were in a minority? Granted this is not settled yet, but it does look likely.

The ALP and Political Courage

Prior to getting into the policies I hope the new government will implement, it is necessary to consider how they will govern. You may recall that very early in the Abbott government’s term, they established an institutionalised witch hunt into ‘union corruption’, which discovered precisely nothing. The Royal Commission, which had a political appointee (Heydon) overseeing it, was very much designed to find dirt on Bill Shorten. The political courage (read balls) it took to use a public institution for such brazen political purposes was remarkable. The sheer level of ‘try and stop me’ arrogance and pigheadedness underlying that Royal Commission was amazing. The LNP simply did not give a sh*t: they were going to do this so get used to it.

The ALP, in its new government, needs that same attitude. Mr. Albanese and his troops need to take that ‘No. This is the right thing to do, and we are going to do it. Try and stop us’ attitude. The difference will be where they apply it: to what ends. If you combine conservative self-assuredness (arrogance) with ALP policies, you have a potentially quite effective combination. The ALP also needs to learn how to play politics with issues, but I want to look at this in the context of specific policies. The point, for now, is that Labor cannot be timid in how it governs. The media and the LNP will both be gunning for them. The ALP cannot show weakness or timidity.

The Most Important New Government Policy: The Integrity Commission

The most important policy, one that should be put in place when political capital is greatest, is the Integrity Commission. Since corruption molds government opinion, and government opinion informs policy, this is the first issue to address. The fish stinks, as Senator Fierravanti-Wells said, from the head down. If you do not first address corruption, any and all policy is compromised. To use an analogy, purify the water before distributing it to the villagers.

In a previous paragraph I mentioned playing politics with issues. On the issue of integrity, the backlash against this is likely to be severe. But you cannot show weakness, Mr Prime Minister-elect. If the LNP and the media dismiss this Commission as a partisan witch hunt you must be ready to fight. The way you fight is simple. You ask ‘Why would the Leader of The Opposition oppose an anti-corruption Commission? As the former Prime Minister Mr Morrison used to say, if you have done nothing wrong you have nothing to hide’. Yes, play it like that. No party with a clean record would oppose such a Commission. Is this dirty? Possibly, but it is for the right reasons.

A brief comment on the nature of this Commission: it must be retrospective, it must have teeth (including subpoena power) and its funding must be in ten year blocks chained to inflation. Any and all former MPs, Senators, consultants, lobbyists, or donors of any party are not eligible to become Commissioners. The Commission would appoint fresh Commissioners for each investigation, with an overarching Chief Commissioner appointed for two years. The time has come to clean up Australian politics. If that makes the corrupt politicians screech and cry, so be it. Having a non-corrupt government and opposition matters more than some politician’s feelings and especially their bottom line.

A Looming Threat: The Media and Operation Restore Legitimate Government

The hostility of the media toward Anthony Albanese and the Labor Party was clear throughout the campaign. But the new government cannot ignore the media. In a previous post, I suggested that if Labor won the election, the media would start Operation Restore Legitimate Government the next day. The media (read Murdoch) gets to decide who governs the country, don’t you know? Oh the peasants might technically ‘elect’ the government, but we tell those peasants what to think. But they did not follow our instructions. They had the nerve to elect the other party. Well, we cannot have that. We need to get the party of legitimate government back into power.

You cannot ignore this, Mr Prime Minister-elect. The media will be gunning for you, particularly the partisan monkeys in the papers and on commercial television. The ABC may change its tune though (hear me out). The ABC is, always remember, government funded. For the last nine years, that government was the LNP, and so the ABC was little more than LNP propaganda. However, the ABC knows where its bread is buttered, and so its tune may well change. Let us be clear: I would be mortified if the ABC did the same as they did under the LNP but with a different partisan slant. But you might find that, now that it is a different government giving the ABC its funding, a slight tune change may occur. But back to Operation Restore Legitimate Government.

The peasants cheated the media. So, they will just have to try harder. If you thought the media was hostile to Labor during the campaign, just wait.They are bitter and angry that their preferred party is no longer in power. They want revenge. How do you deal with this? Continue the strategy of not taking the media’s crap that you used in the last two weeks of the campaign.

Conclusion: A New Start

The new government, under the leadership of Anthony Albanese, has a grand opportunity to reform Australia. Restoring Medicare, NDIS, public school funding, cleaning up corruption, action on climate and so much more. The floor, and the parliament, is yours, Mr Prime Minister-elect. If you cannot form a majority in your own right, I encourage you, Sir, work with the Independents and Others. I am not of the cynical Sam brigade which suggests that the Independents are merely Liberals in cheaper suits. You may find that some are, but go in with an open mind and seek common ground. As one of the Independents said in 2010, negotiating is in Labor’s DNA. Use this to your advantage, Sir, and form a strong, cohesive working majority if this is how government is to be formed.

Good luck, Mr Prime Minister-elect.

 

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LNP ‘Values’ and Their Actions: A Comparison

At this point, some may consider anyone voting, or considering voting, for the LNP as TFG; too far gone. These are the ‘rusted ons’, the ‘dyed in the wool’ types who are unreachable. I do not think this is a productive strategy, as pleasant as the dopamine hit might be.

Instead, I will go here: I will meet these voters on their home turf and compare the LNP’s own values to their actions and see how they stack up. Some of you may recall I have taken a similar approach to Mr Morrison and his play-acting Christianity. Some points of comparison between the values that the LNP espouse on their website and their actions require no commentary beyond simple laughter, as we will see.

Values vs Action, Part One: Freedom

The first values statement says

[We believe] in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative

Inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples, you say? So, Julian Assange should be freed then? Working people should be paid a wage that keeps pace with productivity? Also, a ‘lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives’? Those on the Indue card would tend to disagree with this claim. The Biloela family would tend to disagree with this claim. As for individual and private sector initiative, this means tax cuts and deregulation. The latter refers to health and safety regulations, pay and conditions and all the rest of those pesky, what are they called, laws that get in the way of Holy, Sacred Profit. Next

Values vs Action, Part Two: Tax and Democracy

The second statement reads

[We believe] In government that nurtures and encourages its citizens through incentive, rather than putting limits on people through the punishing disincentives of burdensome taxes and the stifling structures of Labor’s corporate state and bureaucratic red tape.

A government that nurtures and encourages citizens through incentive, you say? By incentives, again they mean perks and privileges for the rich and corporations. When the LNP say they are the party of lower taxes, they are not talking about you! The crack about ‘there are two types of LNP voters: the rich and the manipulated. Check your wallet to see which one you are’ carries a great deal of truth. Second, if you have to define yourself in terms that essentially say ‘we are not the other mob’, that tells me nothing about what you stand for. Also, the tax claim is a lie. Shadow Treasurer Jim Chalmers correctly noted that the two highest taxing governments in the last thirty years were LNP governments. Once again, the party of lower taxes means for the rich and corporations.

The third statement reads

[We believe] In those most basic freedoms of parliamentary democracy – the freedom of thought, worship, speech and association.

Freedom of speech, you say? You crow about this often, but if I might offer a few counterpoints to this claim, here is the first one. Mr Jordan Shanks (friendlyjordies) on the claim that Morrison wants to censor government critics:

 

 

Second, every single Labor member who has been confronted with ‘Mr Speaker, I move that the member no longer be heard’ while at the dispatch box would like a word with you. That piece of parliamentary procedure was originally designed to end attempts at filibustering debate. It was never intended to silence debate altogether. But regardless of that, this action of silencing your opposition does not square with any claim to love freeze peach. Lastly, nothing quite says ‘we value freedom of religion’ (which includes non-religion) quite like trying to institute religious privilege into law.

Values vs Action, Part Three: Justice and Equality

The fourth statement reads

[We believe] In a just and humane society in which the importance of the family and the role of law and justice is maintained.

This one is the first of a couple of jokes in the LNP beliefs. Just and humane society where law and justice are maintained? Your government held a Royal Commission into Unions and appointed a man, Dyson Heydon, to preside over it despite his involvement in selecting then Prime Minister Tony Abbott for the Rhodes Scholarship! You have stacked the Fairwork Commission (among many other administrative bodies) with your close associates. Your government refused to simply legislate marriage equality, instead giving a national platform to some of the most ignorant and bigoted clowns in the country. Finally on this point, have you heard of Katherine Deves? Just and humane society indeed. Go away now.

Statement five reads

[We believe] In equal opportunity for all Australians; and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice.

This one is quite funny too, but I will respond anyway. Equal opportunity? Indue card, anyone? Also, this statement tries (unsuccessfully) to hide the true beliefs of the party. Implied in this statement is the suggestion that ‘the highest possible standards of living, health, education and social justice’ are functions of wealth. In other words, the wealthy ‘deserve’ these things and the peasants do not. This claim partially explains the funding of private schools despite cutting money from public schools. Indeed, a recent edition of NSW Educator Journal suggests that, for every dollar that went to private schools, the federal government gave public schools a mere 27 cents. But equal opportunity, right? Get that garbage outta here.

Values vs Actions, Part Four: Privatisation, Environment and Security

Statement six reads

[We believe] That, wherever possible, government should not compete with an efficient private sector; and that businesses and individuals – not government – are the true creators of wealth and employment.

In a word, this statement could be summed up as Libertarian. This is ra-ra privitisation free market as religion garbage. Government not competing with the private sector (usually because the government provides better services as they are not obligated to turn a profit) is code for privatising everything. These people do not understand that the reason some things are run by government (the military, the police, public schools, public hospitals) is precisely because they should not be profit-driven. Finally, if you truly believe that government is not a true creator of employment, why have you not resigned yet? Oh I see: your cushy government jobs paying hundreds of thousands per year (plus perks) are justified, but anyone down on their luck who needs a little government support is moocher and a parasite. Silly me.

Statement seven says

[We believe] In preserving Australia’s natural beauty and the environment for future generations.

I think this brief clip sums up my reaction to such a claim:

 

 

What a total, utter and complete crock. Have you ever heard something so ridiculous? Said it before, say it again: get that garbage outta here.

We end with a statement that, in light of Australia’s declining relations with our pacific neighbours, is also laughable

[We believe] That our nation has a constructive role to play in maintaining world peace and democracy through alliance with other free nations.

First of all, the maintenance of world peace implies that it exists. Presently, it does not. So your claim is nonsensical. Second, Australia is an irrelevancy on the world stage. The idea that Australia, an island in the middle of nowhere, has any role to play other than as a water carrier for the US, is crap. Finally, Australia has trade relations with China, one of the least free nations on earth. No, what this all really means is Australia will continue to play ball with the mafia organisation that is foreign relations.

Conclusion: You are What You Do

Political parties are free to say what they like, but it is their actions that define them. No amount of flowery rhetoric can hide the true nature of a political party, which is defined by its policies. The current Australian government may have flowery rhetoric in its beliefs, but, as I hope I have shown here, their actions and policies tell a different story.

 

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Plibersek Shows The Way: Labor, The Media and The Future

I should start with an apology to anyone who reads my contributions to this fine project for my absence over the last six weeks and beyond. Work simply erupted over this time and so opportunities to write for pleasure or interest were few. But now that I have some time I want to note a very interesting interview with Tanya Plibersek on the ABC’s Insiders programme. Ms. Plibersek’s reaction to the trained monkey interviewing her sets the tone for how the Labor party must behave toward the media moving forward.

Background: The Media and the 2022 Election Campaign

Anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to the media coverage around this election campaign would have noticed the unbridled bias the media has shown. Whether it is uncritically reporting government talking points or being quite openly hostile to Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and his team, the media has let its true colour show, and that colour is blue. Lest you think this is merely partisan bellyaching, there is evidence to support this. A gander at the front pages of what passes for ‘newspapers’ in this country shows the COALition propaganda rags these papers have become.

This is also by no means restricted to the print media. The television networks are awful too. Whether it is channel 7 constantly bashing every policy Labor put out, and when Albanese and co responded by not putting policies out, accusing them of having no policy, or the ABC consistently cutting Mr Albanese off in his press conferences (technical glitch they said – once maybe, but on the regular?), the bias has been on full display.

Sidenote: The ABC

While bias in the media is to be expected, it is least forgivable in the ABC. Here is a national service that we all, regardless of our political affiliation, pay for. It is the National Broadcaster, not the Government Broadcaster. As one who advocates for a change of government at the forthcoming election, I would be mortified if the ABC turned on a dime and did propaganda for an Albanese government the way they do for the current government. Such action would not surprise me, and it would expose that the ABC knows where its bread is buttered, but I digress. The point is that the National Broadcaster has turned into a government propaganda network. Actually, strike that: based on current evidence, it is a liberal party propaganda network. Its bias against the Labor party is unforgivable. From Stokes, Costello and others I expect this (one is a former treasurer under the LNP ffs), but the ABC knows better.

It is truly remarkable to see a party that nominally represents half the country being treated like an insurgency against the legitimate government that must be stopped at all costs. Democracy is a cruel joke at this point.

Speer[s] Through The Heart: The Plibersek Interview

On this morning’s Insiders programme on the ABC, Shadow Education Minister Tanya Plibersek was interviewed, or more aptly interrogated, by host David Speers. For full context, we note that Speers used to work for Sky. The man is a clear example of ‘you can take the man out of Sky, but you cannot take the Sky out of the man’. I refuse to watch the interview (chiefly because I would throw something at the screen if I did), but the exchange that is making headlines is when Ms Plibersek said to Speers

Sorry, go on. I don’t want to interrupt you, David, please go on

Such was her response to what even news.com.au called ‘one of many interjections from ABC Insiders host David Speers during an interview’. When even news.com.au notes the excessive number of your interruptions, you have gone too far. But more to the point, Ms Plibersek has shown how you combat the media. Her snark, what one might even call sass, sets the tone for Labor’s media relations moving forward.

She combined the correct substance, calling that trained partisan monkey out on his journalistic malpractice, with not losing her temper. She put him in his place without raising her voice and it was brilliant.

This is The Future: Labor and The Media

Since the media has made its bias as clear as one would like, the model for Labor is equally as clear. You must fight back against the media and its hostility toward you. The media is, at the end of the day, run by humans. Humans do what they can get away with. If you show the media that their constant barrage of ‘gotcha questions’ and loaded questions will not be tolerated, they will soon change. Hell, you could even threaten their access if you were so inclined. But you have got to bring them into line and make them remember that the Fourth Estate is not meant to show its colours so brightly.

A useful example of getting around the media took place on Qand A, another ABC programme, earlier this week. Mr Albanese received a question about the NDIS, but his attempted response was effectively shut down due to Speers’ constant interruptions. Undeterred, Mr Albanese obtained the woman’s mobile phone number, called her and, after thanking her for her question, provided a detailed answer. A fine demonstration of getting around the media, its hostility and bias and talking directly to voters.

Conclusion: Sass to The Max

The hostility of the media, along with its total hypocrisy (deficits are now an issue again just in time for a Labor government) is hereby exposed. Your role, Mr Albanese and the Labor team, is to no longer take the crap that media dishes out. Scott Morrison has cowered the media through his screeching about bias when confronted with facts he does not like, and they are compliant lapdogs instead of the watchdogs they are meant to be.

Now, I am not suggesting that Mr. Albanese manipulate the press as his counterpart has done, but I do want him to say when confronted with some partisan BS question framed in some crap fashion

Nice gotcha question there. Does anyone have a serious question they would like to ask?

This is not hostile to the media broadly, but it does send the message ‘serious questions only, folks’. It will be necessary for Mr. Albanese to put the media in their place from the start, because if Labor is elected on May 21st, the media will commence Operation Restore Legitimate Government from May 22nd.

 

Image from Twitter (@AndrewDarroch1)

 

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Integrity Bites: Attack of The Independents

An interesting piece from the Sydney Morning Herald (mirrored in The Age) has come out this morning, and it warrants some scrutiny. It deals with the use of the issue of political integrity and the federal ICAC to galvanise Independent campaigns.

Introduction: Not a Good Start

This piece was in the Australian print media, so we should not expect great writing, but this is something else. The piece begins as follows

A national row over trust in politics will be used to galvanise campaigns against the Coalition in marginal seats after Prime Minister Scott Morrison abandoned a pledge to set up a corruption watchdog and blamed Labor for not supporting his preferred plan.

Mr. Morrison would do well to remember that his party was the government for the last three years (when the corruption watchdog was an issue). It is not the role of the Opposition to support your policy. It is there in the name: opposition. By definition of forming a government, you had the majority necessary to pass legislation. The support of the Labor Party was not necessary. They refused to support it because they knew, like a tax agency set up by Al Capone, it would be toothless. To then turn around and blame them for having the nerve to not mindlessly fall in line with your policy is the height of arrogance. Moving on.

Morrison and Integrity – A Match Made in Hell, Part One

The Lodge Occupant has long opposed the idea of an Integrity Commission (draw your own conclusions on that one). One of the ridiculous arguments against such a body was that it would be a ‘kangaroo court’ where reputations would be tarnished. A judge rightly demolished this idea when he noted the small number of investigations [private] compared to actual hearings [public]. More cynically, The Lodge Occupant is annoyed that Bruz and The Bin Chicken resigned (voluntarily it must be remembered) due to ICAC hearings. Not a fault in the process, Scummo, sorry. I realise that the mafia sees the court system as biased against them, but there is a reason for that.

Morrison and Integrity – A Match Made in Hell, Part Two

A journalist actually had the stones to raise the issue of integrity with The Lodge Occupant on the campaign trail. Asked if he would set up such a body, The Lodge Occupant refused to commit. The next day a journalist asked him whether the fact that he had not done so amounted to a broken promise. The response has to be quoted in full to be believed

No, it is not [a broken promise]. “I am not going to introduce a kangaroo court. I am not going to introduce a policy that I don’t think is in the nation’s best interests.

It would be corrupted by a Labor Party that’s more interested in playing politics with this issue than addressing the real issues.

I put forward a detailed plan, a detailed proposal, which the Labor Party rejects. I have honoured my proposal. The Labor Party don’t support it. That is where the issue rests.

Indeed it is a broken promise, you liar. You said you would do something and you did not do it. That is a broken promise. Next, as we discussed above, it is not a ‘kangaroo court’ just because Liberals happen to be on the rough end of its actions sometimes. Third, how is a national political integrity body not in the nation’s best interests? You really are a clown, you know that?

Finally, as we addressed above, it is not the job of the opposition to support government policy. The nerve it takes to blame Labor for not supporting your policy is gargantuan. You had the numbers in the House. You just wanted to play politics with the issue by putting forward some non-retrospective, toothless tiger of a body and using Labor’s refusal to support it as a wedge issue. Politics truly is a game to this man.

The Rise of The Independents: Zoe Daniel and Company

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese stated the obvious (but it is no less valuable for that) when he said

The reason why this Prime Minister doesn’t want an anti-corruption commission is sitting on his frontbench

An interesting statement that is vague enough to avoid defamation charges, since it does not name a specific minister. However, it still throws the spear of corruption at the government. Labor also said that the only way to achieve an anti-corruption body was to elect a Labor government. Given the last three years of inaction, obfuscation and lies around the issue from The Lodge Occupant, it is difficult to disagree.

The Independent candidates in various seats are also making an issue of integrity in politics. Zoe Daniel in Goldstein, Kylea Tink in North Sydney among others have noted the essentially hamstrung position of government MPs. The Lodge Occupant’s refusal to address the issue leaves them with nothing of substance to say aside from the lies we dissected above. Another Independent of note is Helen Haines in Indi, who actually put forward a bill for a more powerful federal corruption watchdog. Naturally, the government rejected this. Dr. Haines has some credibility on the issue of integrity since she actually took action on the issue.

Distraction: Government MPs Attack The Independents

In a useful display of public stupidity, both Dave Sharma and Tim Wilson demanded that the Independents say who they would support in the event of a hung parliament. Textbook definition of a red herring there, gentlemen. They are not obligated to say where their vote will go since it may not even be an issue. The election has not happened yet and so the structure of the parliament is unknown. Morons.

This is actually ridiculous in another way too. Nothing says well-thought-out political strategy quite like making demands of the people who could hold the keys to the kingdom. Saying that the Independents should make their allegiances known before ‘making their next set of demands’ (where is the first one?) is likely to put them offside, is it not? Also, does this not suggest that these MPs think the Independents will have a major say in the next parliament? Reminds me of Mr Turnbull’s ‘forming majority government’ comment from a few years back.

Conclusion: You Are What You Do

The current government has a tenuous relationship with integrity. Morrison could not lie straight in bed, as his remarks on the campaign trail referenced above suggest. As Senator Wells said ‘the fish stinks from the head’. The refusal to introduce a federal corruption watchdog, along with the terrible arguments against it, speaks volumes about the Morrison Government. This cabal of (allegedly) corrupt corporate criminals must be removed and a powerful, retrospective, non-partisan watchdog introduced.

 

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J’Accus(ack)!: Catherine Cusack Swings the Axe

Last time I mentioned doing an analysis of a scathing Op-Ed that Catherine Cusack penned for The Guardian. The reference to Emile Zola’s critique of the Dreyfus conviction seems fitting since Cusack has accused The Lodge Occupant of destroying the Liberal Party. Let us take a look at this piece.

Introduction: The Past and Robert Menzies

Cusack begins her piece by making reference to the fact that she and Senator Wells typically do not see eye-to-eye. However, Cusack does endorse Wells’ ‘character assessment’ of The Lodge Occupant. Cusack then proceeds to go back to the original roots of the Liberal Party by bringing up its patron saint, Robert Menzies, saying

The inspirational party of Robert Menzies, whose photo today is affixed to a multitude of policies and statements that bear zero resemblance to the character and values of those tens of thousands of Australians, who formed the Liberals after the second world war.

Lest we dismiss this as a No True Scotsman fallacy, I think it is true that the Liberal Party has changed radically since the days of Menzies. This man was a conservative, yes, but that term too has changed. Cusack says as much when she describes the Menzies Era as follows

Robert Menzies invested in the CSIRO, universities and schools, and spoke with great intellectual power about the role of education and science in powering a modern Australia. These values have been totally abandoned by the Morrison government.

Remarkable, is it not? A Liberal Prime Minister who invested in science and education and saw them as a means of creating a modern Australia? Now Menzies had his flaws and the past is invariably remembered as better than it was. But the idea that a Liberal Prime Minister could actually invest in science and did not see education as the enemy is quite extraordinary. How times have changed.

You Were Doing So Well: Cusack Goes off The Rails

No Op-Ed piece is without its flaws, and former MLC Cusack delivers a howler with this gem

The Liberal party has no interest group like trade unions (Labor) or environmentalists (Greens). No, we exist for our values and ideas only.

Pick yourself up off the floor and we can continue. The Liberal Party has no vested interest groups? The coal industry, the gas industry, property developers, the Business Council? The idea that the Liberal Party has no interest groups is absurd. She even went one step further than the usual hypocritical stance of ‘it is ok when we do it’ to say ‘we do not do it at all’. Valid as her criticism of Morrison, which we turn to now, is, this statement is crap.

Cusack Goes After Morrison, Part One: The Pre-Selection of Craig Kelly

Cusack begins her account of The Lodge Occupant and his actions inside the Liberal Party of NSW like this

I thought forcing moderates to vote for Craig Kelly in Hughes prior to the last election was the worst. But he [Morrison] has outdone himself engineering a federal intervention to jump over the organisation [NSW branch of the Lliberal Party] all together. Yes, he got what he wanted – at the expense of destroying our rules-based selection system and disgusting virtually every member of the NSW division.

Morrison did, as you may recall, intervene before the 2019 election to save Craig Kelly from pre-selection. The latter process is what the Americans call a primary: an inter-party contest to determine the election candidate. Mr Kelly left the Liberal Party within eighteen months of the intervention. Evidently a well-spent splitting of the ranks there, Lodge Occupant.

The case of Craig Kelly is but one example of The Lodge Occupant manipulating the selection process of the Liberal Party to ‘get his way’. The concept of ‘parachuting in’ candidates is nothing new (Kristina Kenneley to Bennelong, Warrane Mundene etc). But these appear to be ‘hank-picked’ candidates to suit Morrison as an individual, whatever the consequences for the party. The process is, just for a change, about him. Politicians are egos on legs, but Morrison is that on steroids.

Cusack Goes After Morrison, Part Two: The Climate Debate

As an MLC from the Northern Rivers, a region recently devastated by floods, one might expect Ms Cusack to be vocal on climate change. She does not disappoint, and even the media comes in for a serve. She says

The climate change fight has divided and just exhausted many of us in the NSW Liberals. And sitting here in the flood-ravaged northern rivers I can only deplore how much time has been lost.

Somehow the federal Liberal party, encouraged by the Murdoch press, has delayed the urgent need for climate change action by at least 15 years. To give you an idea as to how completely anti-intellectual and stupid this is, just read Andrew Bolt’s opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph last week saying it was “woke warmists” (climate change activists) like Tim Flannery who caused Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Scathing, is it not? Bolt is a renowned anti-intellectual, taking the seemingly standard right-wing position of ‘anything I don’t like is the cause of [insert current tragedy here]’, so this is nothing new. But the point here is Ms Cusack, a Liberal, accurately decrying the utter lack of action on climate change. She does not go so far as to use the C-word (corruption), but the message is clear: Morrison’s inaction on climate change is inexcusable. Hear hear.

Cusack Goes After Morrison, Part Three: Partisan Relief Funding

I referenced this briefly last time, but it bears repeating. The Lodge Occupant played partisan games with public disaster funding. Ms Cusack does not allow this to slide, excoriating Morrison with these words

Scott Morrison’s brazen attempt to fund flood victims in a Nationals seat and exclude flood victims in a Labor seat that I happen to live in was just too much. I cannot deny we are all overwrought here, witnessing so much suffering. My bullshit tolerance levels are at zero. To see the self-serving ruthless bullying that has increased inside the Liberal party spill over into public policy…is simply intolerable.

There are several things with which one does not play politics: the military, health, education, disaster relief. These are things that cross, or should cross, partisan lines. The current regime has played politics with all of these things, but Ms Cusack’s focus is disaster relief. To see partisanship creep in to the assignment of disaster relief funds was simply too much for her; rightly so.

Conclusion: Why do you do This?

Why are Scott Morrison’s politics so Machievelian? What causes him to play politics with seeming third rails? Why is he so ruthless, even among his nominal allies?

A large part of the answer I think comes in the title of a book about Morrison that I am soon to start reading. The book is The Game: A Portrait of Scott Morrison by Sean Kelly. The title says much: Morrison conceives of politics as a game. Well what is the object of a game? To win. To win by whatever means necessary. You do what you have to do. Sanctified by god (as he would phrase it), any and all actions he takes, no matter how many people they hurt, are justified because you play a game to win.

This ruthless, savage brute with no conscience has no place anywhere near power in a civilised society.

 

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How the [Member for] Cook[ie] Crumbles: Morrison as ‘Bully’

After a long hiatus, I am back once again to contribute to this fine project. I trust you have all kept well in the last several weeks. I want to look today at several instances that have come out in the last week or two involving The Lodge Occupant and his status as a ‘bully’. Members of his own party, both state and federal, have lambasted The Lodge Occupant, and the description is not a pretty one.

Exhibit A: Senator Wells, Part One

New South Wales Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells took to the Senate floor this week to utterly blast The Lodge Occupant about what he has done to the Liberal Party. The speech is too long to go into in detail here, but I offer this fragment to illustrate the speech’s flavour

There is a very appropriate saying here: the fish stinks from the head. [Scott] Morrison and [Alex] Hawke have ruined the Liberal Party in NSW by trampling its constitution. Indeed, I understand that at a recent federal executive meeting, Morrison was asked if he was running a protection racket in NSW’

Damning, is it not? A protection racket, for anyone unaware, means saying ‘nice career you got there, be a shame if anything were to happen to it’. Protection is usually associated with organised crime; it is extortion. If Senator Wells is correct, Morrison and Hawke are criminals.

Analysis: All is Not as it Seems

Now this is all well and good, but Senator Wells’ remarks must be assessed in context. She admitted in her remarks that she lost a Senate pre-selection vote by a narrow margin. This relegated her to third on the ticket, making her chances of re-election very slim. Perhaps I am a cynical Sam, but I do find it curious that it is now that Senator Wells turns on The Lodge Occupant. For full context, I should note that the Lodge Occupant himself said something similar, essentially saying people lash out when they are angry. It was not my intention to parrot his line of thought, but I will not back away from a contextual assessment because it happens to mirror the argument of someone I despise.

Exhibit A: Senator Wells, Part Two

Senator Wells also included this little gem, saying that The Lodge Occupant is

An autocrat; a bully, who has no moral compass

This is from his nominal allies. You may have noticed this in recent history involving The Lodge Occupant. Once he says something, it is true, and questioning is ill-advised. Whether that is from the media, his detractors or even citizens in the street (if they can get near him). There is also no need for consistency in the things he says are true: whatever he says, regardless of how contradictory (or contradicted by evidence) it is, that is the truth today, and we have always been at war with East Asia. This is crap, and like rats off a sinking ship, his fellow Liberals are trying to take him down with them.

Ehxibit B: State MLC Catherine Cusack

A recently retired Member of the Legislative Council (MLC), Catherine Cusack, has also blasted The Lodge Occupant this week. Specifically, she targetted the politicised nature of flood relief payments. Quoting from the piece linked above

Scott Morrison’s brazen attempt to fund flood victims in a National party seat and exclude flood victims in a Labor seat that I happen to live in was just too much.

To see the self-serving ruthless bullying that has increased inside the Liberal party spill over into public policy and the poorest most vulnerable Australians who lost everything in the floods are the targets of this outrageous abuse of morality and power is simply intolerable

Does this lady work for the LNP? Complaining openly and bitterly about partisan funding arrangements? Ms Cusack, this is what he does! That is all he knows. Complaining about Morrison being partisan with public money is the equivalent of complaining about a kangaroo jumping about. It is hardwired into his nature. Like any tin-pot leader, he rewards those on his team and hands out vindictive reprisals to anyone not on that team. They should get themselves a good local member. (SARCASM)

The previous paragraph is not to normalise or rationalise partisan games with disaster funding. For that Morrison is the worst kind of bastard. I rather sought to point out that Ms Cusack is somewhat late to the party on this one, and that her commets are equivalent to calling Clive Palmer fat. Everyone can see it, no need to point it out.

Analysis

Ms Cusack actually went one step further. She said, in a piece that warrants its own analysis next time, that Morrison had so destroyed the Liberal Party that it was it no longer recognisable as the Party of Menzies. Further, she said that she would not vote for the return of Morrison’s government. I know little of Ms Cusack’s time as an MLC, and cannot say with certainty what her motivations are. She has resigned in protest over the partisanship with disaster funding, suggesting some sort of conscience. LNP scientists will get back to us on this foreign concept, once they are let out of the torture chamber.

Conclusion: Dissent in The Ranks and Unhappy Campers

These are but two examples of the dissent in the ranks of the current regime. The focus has been on themselves and their problems rather than the governance of the nation. Senator Wells and MLC Cusack have come out publicly on their way out the door and thrown a grenade over their shoulder as they left. Mr Morrison is evidently incapable of keeping the troops happy. Now two have turned on him.

With the election campaign announced today, these two women have created serious problems for The Lodge Occupant. He said he interfered in NSW to ‘protect good women’. Just not Senator Wells, apparently. Fight, you buggers, I hate peace.

Or if you prefer Tacitus:

nihil iam praestare fortuna maius potest quam hostium discordiam

Fortune can grant us nothing greater than discord among our foes.

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It’s the Politics, Stupid: Morrison and The Abuse Apology

Journalist Karen Middleton, writing for The Saturday Paper, has penned a remarkable analysis around The Lodge Occupant’s apology to those who suffered abuse in parliament. That the first, last and only consideration of The Lodge Occupant is politics should come as a surprise to precisely no-one. However, this is something special.

Delegation and Evasion: The Lodge Occupant and Responsibility

This topic also needs little introduction: recall the phrase ‘I don’t hold a hose, mate’?. But this is just delicious. Middleton reports that

Scott Morrison intended to leave his abuse apology to the presiding officers

For clarity, ‘the presiding officers’ refers to The Speaker of The House and The President of The Senate. So the original plan was for The Lodge Occupant to delegate responsibility for a change. To give full context here, there had been an agreement between all sides (LNP, Labor, Greens and Independents) on February 3rd that the Presiding Officers would deliver the apology. It was the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Albanese, who first considered making a personal address on the subject. There was back and forth between their two staffs, with The Lodge Occupant insisting that the original order be observed. Mr Albanese’s decision to speak regardless of what The Lodge Occupant did forced the latter’s hand. Not wishing for Mr Albanese to upstage him, he was forced to say something. Great: not wanting to be upstaged, rather than actually, you know, addressing the issue was his motivation. Clown.

The Lodge Occupant’s Speech

The speech itself deserves some attention, for there is a gem in here demonstrating The Lodge Occupant’s utter lack of self-awareness. He said, in part

“Over many decades, an ecosystem, a culture, was perpetuated where bullying, abuse, harassment and, in some cases, even violence, became normalised,”

“We don’t shy, nor have we sought to silence the valid and just complaints of people, because there is fear about electoral consequences. I am sorry. We are sorry.”

The first part is quite true, and valid. Parliament was, for a very long time, a ‘boy’s club’ dominated by men. When women became employees (and eventually members) a culture was in place that did not treat women as equals. Fair point. By contrast, the second part must surely ring hollow in light of reporting about Grace Tame receiving a threatening phone call to ‘not say anything damning’ about The Lodge Occupant before the 2022 Australian of The Year Awards. Never sought to silence valid and just complaints? Spare me

Another Little Gem: Higgins and The Advocates for Change

A second little gem around this speech, as Middleton reports, is the fact that

The advocates’ presence in the chamber was also a late addition. They were initially not invited to watch the apology. Independent MP Zali Steggall facilitated their attendance at the last minute, as her guests, accompanied by one of her staff.

They were not intended to be there? Let us do a brief summary of what we have so far. The Lodge Occupant essentially had to be goaded into saying anything at all, and when he does decide to say something, it takes an independent MP to even have the advocates for change brought into the Chamber. It truly never ceases to amaze how a man so seemingly obsessed with marketing and optics can be so terrible at it.

The Lodge Occupant’s attitude to having to make the address is neatly summed up in this photograph, from Middleton’s piece:

 

 

Indeed is all I have to say to that.

A Horror Week for The Lodge Occupant, Part One: The Abuse Speech in Context

Between this issue and the breakdown of the Religious Discrimination Bill, this parliamentary week has not been kind to The Lodge Occupant. Middleton reports that he is feeling the heat too. She writes

The prime minister’s desperate tone would be explained two days later, when Peter van Onselen revealed that the night before, Morrison had been rolled by his own cabinet. The prime minister had put his leadership on the line over his religious freedom bill, trying to persuade his own MPs not to cross the floor against it by proposing to put legislation for a national integrity commission before parliament as well.

But his cabinet colleagues overwhelmingly rejected the strategy.

The Lodge Occupant evidently lacks the ability to read a room. Offering to bring forth the federal ICAC bill to persuade his own troops not to vote against the Religious Freedom Bill? They do not want such a bill anyway! Senator Cash (through a representative) said earlier this week that there was not enough time to debate the bill before the election. This effectively killed the bill. The point is this was not going to mollify the party room.

A Horror Week for The Lodge Occupant, Part Two: Back to What Brought Him to The Dance

A useful illustration of the utter chaos that is this government is found in what happened when the Coalition partyroom meeting continued after Question Time on Tuesday. Middleton reports that The Lodge Occupant said

“If we fail to agree on this, the mountain will be made higher. You will experience opposition – not a place you want to be. I appeal to you to come together

Interesting, is it not? From conciliatory to issuing threats in mere hours? He must get fired up after Question Time. Instead of attempting to bribe his party room with a bill that was already dead, he was now threatening them with ‘opposition – not a place you want to be’. So, if the party room did not fall in line, they would lose the election and be in opposition. A big threat to a born to rule government. This next point may be coincidence, but is it not interesting that The Lodge Occupant said ‘you will experience opposition’ rather than ‘we will experience opposition’? This suggests either that he thinks he will lose his seat, or he is trying to blame the party (because nothing is ever his fault) for electoral defeat.

Shovels to Earthmoving Equipment: The Lodge Occupant Keeps Digging

This incident offers detailed insight into the chaos going on behind the scenes with the government, and specifically its so-called leader. The Lodge Occupant is no longer using a shovel to dig his political grave; he has brought in a backhoe. The sheer instability of the current regime means that the focus is on themselves rather than governance. The election is not far off, and it remains unclear whether the current Lodge Occupant can survive politically. As my gran used to say, fight you buggers I hate peace.

 

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Grace (Un)Tame(d) Provokes Conservative Outrage

The media has made much of ‘that photograph’ of 2021 Australian of The Year Grace Tame glaring daggers through The Lodge Occupant. The Good Dr. Jennifer Wilson has penned a great piece for this website about the photo and the amazing cultural subtext, and I encourage you to check it out here. I want to focus on the media reaction, and discuss the breathtaking hypocrisy on display from those on the right. I also want to look at an excellent piece by Samantha Maiden on news.com.au (of all places). Maiden rightly puts Tame’s critics in their place.

The response from the media, by and large, has been to condemn Ms Tame as ‘uncivil’ (consider Peter Van Obsolete as Dr Wilson called him). Essentially, this photo-op is a yearly tradition and Ms Tame ruined it by refusing to be a good girl and ‘give us a smile, sweetheart’. It is worth noting that neither Ms Tame, nor anyone else, is obligated to give Scotty from Marketing a good photo-op. She, like most people, has a political stance, specifically an opinion on The Lodge Occupant. She conveyed that opinion and it is somehow a problem.

First, Have No Standards: The Hypocritic Oath, Part One: Free Speech

Many of Ms Tame’s most vocal critics on the right (including Miranda Divine) are part of the ‘free speech’ crowd. As is becoming increasingly clear, the conservative definition of this ‘right’ (which Australia does not have by the by, we never quite got to the whole ‘bill of rights’ thing) is ‘we get to say what we want and the rest of you fall in line’. In other words, for me and mine, not thee and thine. Standard practice? Maybe, but it still reeks.

Ms Tame expressed her political opinion of The Lodge Occupant in the most public and viral way possible. As we will see in the Samantha Maiden piece, Ms Tame knew exactly what she was doing. But back to the point: Ms Tame does not have ‘muh freeze peach’? Or does that sacred concept only apply to certain opinions? That consistency has never been the strong suit of the right is well known, but this gives whiplash.

First, Have No Standards: The Hypocritic Oath, Part Two: The Media and The Office of The Prime Minister

The Murdoch Media Menagerie has made much in the last day or so of ‘respect for the office of The Prime Minister’. The idea here is that even if you dislike the occupant, you show respect for the office. Anyone inclined to make such a suggestion regarding Ms Tame I direct to the following image, borrowed from the Facebook page of a Mr. Kevin Rudd:

Seems the ‘respect’ due to the office of The Prime Minister changes according to whether or not the occupant is from the right party. The brass b*lls it takes to bellyache about ‘disrespecting the office of The Prime Minister’ only when your guy is in there is something to behold. There is a real sense of ‘know your role, shut your mouth’ here that is most unbecoming. Now, am I suggesting that, as a sexual assault survivor and advocate that Ms Tame is insulated from any and all criticism? No. But of all the things to criticise someone with her past about, smiling? Seriously?

But Why So ‘Untamed’?

It should be clear that Ms Tame’s actions do not need ‘justification’ from me or anyone else. But I thought it might be useful to look at history for some motivation for her giving The Lodge Occupant the evil eye. One possible explanation for her ‘icy’ demeanour toward The Lodge Occupant might be his utter lack of action around sexual assault and family violence, specifically his defense (before the facts were known) of Non-Christian Porter around the rape of Brittany Higgins. A little detail here worth recalling is The Lodge Occupant discussing the rape of Ms Higgins with his wife, who encouraged him to think about the incident as ‘the father of two daughters’. Ms Tame rightly obliterated this nonsense when she said:

It shouldn’t take having children to have a conscience

Ms Tame does not evidently understand how the conservative mind works: something has to affect them before they care.

Now, this is but one incident, and it is not the whole story of course. But sexual assault advocacy was her issue. The Let Her Speak campaign was what brought her to prominence in the first place. Of all the issues for The Lodge Occupant not to act on, this was likely to poke the bear

Play it Again, Sam: Samantha Maiden to The Rescue

In a fantastic piece for news.com.au, actual journalist Samantha Maiden eviscerates the right wing narrative around this incident. She notes the hypocrisy of the government by pointing out (with photos) times when LNP cabinet members were playing on their phones while turning their backs on Tanya Plibersek as she addressed the House. Maiden also notes the utter non-issue that was Justice Kenneth Hayne of the Banking Royal Commission saying ‘nope’ when asked to shake hands with Treasurer Josh Frydenburg in 2019. But Grace Tame is the issue because she refused to ‘be a good girl and give us a smile, love’ to The Lodge Occupant? Spare me.

Maiden notes that the critics of Ms Tame are actually attempting to control her behaviour, a harkening back to the abuse she suffered as a child. I had not thought of it this way, and the suggestion is intriguing. But what is the most interesting part of Maiden’s piece is the comment that, through her facial expressions, Ms Tame has taught us something about activism.

The suggestion seems to be that activism comes in many forms, and this was a powerful one for Ms Tame. Her knowledge of how much The Lodge Occupant loves his photo-ops doubtless made this a tempting target. Maiden comments that Ms Tame ‘knew exactly what she was doing’ and I am inclined to agree. She hit The Lodge Occupant where she knew it would hurt him: public image. His obsession with marketing (despite his seeming incompetence at it) made him vulnerable there. She exploited that.

Conclusion: Nous Sommes Grace Tame

The lesson from this is that activism need not be bricks through windows, or even fiery rhetoric. Through her simple facial expressions and the fire in her eyes, Grace Tame has conveyed the outrage of the considerable segment of the population that has, to put it mildly, an unfavourable opinion of The Lodge Occupant. As much as her critics like to complain about her ‘lack of civility’, it is precisely that lack of civility, the idea of not being ‘the good little girl’ that makes her statement so powerful.

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