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John has a strong interest in politics, especially the workings of a progressive democracy, together with social justice and the common good. He holds a Diploma in Fine Arts and enjoys portraiture, composing music, and writing poetry and short stories. He is also a keen amateur actor. Before retirement John ran his own advertising marketing business.

John Lord’s Election Diary No. 3: My language really doesn’t tell you what I think of these bastards

Monday 15 April 2019

The week opened with an unexpected Newspoll on Monday giving way to the view that Murdoch will be publishing a weekly poll from now on.

The poll, now that the election has been announced, gives a more accurate view of who people intend to vote for.

52% intend voting for Labor and 48% for the Coalition. Back to this later.

The lies being told by this government now that the election date has been announced are worse than the ones normally couched in innumerable shades of grey.

Morrison, Joyce, Dutton, Hunt, Taylor and others are so repetitive, so blatant so desperate that they could only come from men despairing of losing something. In this case, power.

The lies haven’t just started. They have only been using times past as practice. Climate change seems to awaken a latent conservative desire to be more absurd.

It necessitates an unrelenting urge to just make things up.

These are frightened, scared politicians on the cusp of defeat so worried about it that they will not hesitate to place lies before facts, as was the case with Taylor.

I am in this instance referencing an interview with Environment Minister, Angus Taylor and Barrie Cassidy.

Despite Cassidy shooting him down with irrefutable facts that our emissions were going up each year, he continued to over talk him with figures so obviously wrong that you would feel ashamed if your own son or daughter were quoting them.

But of course he isn’t the only one. The Prime Minister continues to say that we will reach our Paris targets in a canter. He does so in the knowledge that it is untrue. His own department tells him so but he so desperately wants everyone to believe him that he is prepared to toss his faith out the window and tell lies for God.

2 Normally a Prime Minister of standing, of reputation would not utter a sentence that implied that under his opposites governance the country would go into recession. Only a very desperate person would stoop so low. Morrison is one such person.

Last week we had the spectacle of Morrison calling Opposition Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek a racist because she was quoted as saying that Australians could not “rely on an Indian mining company to bring jobs to central and North Queensland”.

On top of that in an article for Crickey (firewall) Bernard Keane had this to say:

The Coalition (spectacularly) missing the point on tax?

Documents purporting to be Treasury costings were circulated to media outlets to demonstrate that Labor would increase taxes by $390 billion over a decade compared to the government.

It was yet another lie cooked up by Freydenberg and Morrison.

Tuesday 16 April 2018

Then on Monday, Health Minister Greg Hunt claimed there’s a $6 billion black hole in Labor’s centrepiece promise to get rid of out of pocket costs for cancer care.

Hunt is a sublime truth twister who does it with a calmness that is frightening.

But as Paul Karp reported in The Guardian, the figures did not come from any official costing of Labor’s policy, but a costing “for lifting the Medicare rebate for all cancer-related items to the level of the AMA’s recommended fee (to eliminate out-of-pocket costs). The price tag is $6.8bn.”

Greg Jericho, also in The Guardian, surmises that:

… the lies seem more brazen now. I suspect the Donald Trump effect has now fully taken hold – it is not so much that there are more lies, it is that politicians care less about being called out for lying.

4 How important is truth in politics? As a writer who happens to love the way words can be constructed to shape a thought, send a message, express love, anger, or convey an action I am lost without them.

Without them something vanishes from our discourse. Without words, the ability to communicate the seemingly endless aspects of human emotion is taken from us.

Words, of course, are at their best when they are accompanied by a factual truth of what they want to convey.

5 The government’s words and actions over the past 6 years bring into question the very essence of the word “truth.” Or they have at least devalued it to the point of obsolescence.

Like Trump, they don’t care about their lying and don’t care that people object to it. They just lie about the lie.

If more people had the capacity to think for themselves and question what they are being told perhaps we would have more genuineness in politics.

If more journalists had the intestinal fortitude to question and syphon out the truth of what politicians are telling them we may get a better body politic and a more honest democracy.

On Tuesday I was watching Freydenberg being interviewed on News24. Most questions he just refused to answer. The interviewer took it that his response was normal and left it at that.

“Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more” (John Lord).

6 Lying, misinformation, lying by omission, subliminally implied suggestions, straightforward propaganda, deliberate scare campaigning and any form of untruthful communication has become the norm in the way politicians and the media converse with the public. So normal and long applied has this form of conversation become that we are now unquestioning of it.

7 Tony Abbott has made himself available should the government lose the election.

Tony Abbott if nothing else is a very colourful character. He is aggressive both physically and in the use of language. His negativity is legendary and he has little consideration for any ideas other than his own and says NO to his opponent’s policies regardless of their worthiness.

He is by evidence and his own admission a liar of some regularity. Added to that he has a political gutter mentality and little respect for the institution of parliament and its conventions. Like most conservative politicians from the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments he shows an incapacity to feel or display compassion.

“Lying is wrong but lying to defend a lie is appalling immoral” (John Lord).

Now back to where I started with the polling. William Bowe, polling analyst from The Poll Bludger sums it all up this way:

Betting odds continue to point towards a sweeping Labor victory, even as intelligence from both sides of politics suggests a much tighter contest.

Speaking on RN Breakfast on Friday, Ben Oquist of progressive think tank the Australia Institute voiced the beltway consensus that “the bookies have got this one wrong at the moment – they’re forecasting a much bigger Labor victory than anybody seems to be predicting”. Betting markets at first appeared to respond, if not to Oquist specifically, then to the view coming through in media reports that both major parties were expecting a tight contest. Labrokes was offering $5 on a Coalition on Thursday, but by Sunday this was in to $3.50. Then came Newspoll, showing Labor maintaining its lead, and the Coalition blew back out to $4.50.

The individual seat markets have been more consistent, pointing to a Labor landslide of even greater dimensions than the one currently projected by BludgerTrack.

My thought for the day

Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it.

Previous Election Diary editions:

No. 1

No. 2

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John Lord’s Election Diary No. 2: Morrison plays the race card while Dutton lowers the bar even further

“We should not do or say anything that cheapens another because in the end we only cheapen ourselves” (John Lord).

Saturday 13 April 2019:

1 It looks as though Prime Minister Scott Morrison – without actually using the word “racist” – has inferred that the Opposition Deputy Leader Tanya Plibersek is racist. On what basis does he do so?

Well she is quoted as saying that Australians could not “rely on an Indian mining company to bring jobs to central and North Queensland.”

Scott Morrison has accused Labor of peddling racist sentiments.

He is of course talking about the Adani Coal Mine. How you could possibly infer that a person is racist from that statement is so stupid as to be beyond my comprehension, and the words are unworthy of an Australian Prime Minister.

But these members of the LNP are a weird lot. Power is everything to them and if you have to say certain things in order to retain it, then they think it is legitimate to do so.

“I think there’s form here from the Labor Party, particularly here in NSW,” Mr Morrison said.

While on the subject of Adani, there are some theorists who think that the election was called for May 18 because the subject of the Adani mine was to be discussed at a Senate Estimates Enquiry and that things might come out that would be uncomfortable for the government.

2 All the talk today has centered on Peter Dutton’s remarkable capacity for being a horrid individual after he criticised Labor candidate Ali France of using her disability as an ‘excuse’.

It was only a week ago that our Prime Minister when announcing a Royal Commission into the Abuse of the Most Vulnerable in our community said:

“We have to establish a culture of respect for people living with disabilities and the families who support, love and care for them.”

When asked for a comment he said that Peter had been taken out of context.

What on earth ever processed Dutton to think that with a history as long as your arm of saying the worst possible things about people, that he was Prime Minister material is beyond me?

Like many others of his ilk he is nothing more than a tactless, crass, insensitive individual who doesn’t belong in our parliament.

The vindictiveness of his crude attack on Ali France, that she was:

“Using her disability as an excuse” for not yet buying a home in the seat she wants to win at the May 18 election.”

Requires closer examination.

 Bernard Keane writing for Crickey.com (firewall) had this to say.

“Ali France is an above the knee amputee and spent $100,000 of her compensation payment modifying her home. She hasn’t found a suitable house in #Dickson but has said that if she wins she will move and again modify her home.

She was trying to protect her toddler in a pusher from an oncoming car, which ran over her leg during the accident.

She was in a coma for days then awoke and was told her leg had been amputated. Her child wasn’t injured.

Ali is a journalist who’s been working in palliative care. She’s not a lightweight drongo like Dutton who belongs in the bin.”


Come on, people of Dickson. Vote for Ali France!

As Bevan Shields said in Friday’s SMH:

“Both sides expect the election campaign to be dirty but few thought it could go so low so quickly by exploiting the plight of a woman in a wheelchair.”

Peter Dutton’s apology came in the form of a tweet yesterday:

“I apologise to Ms France for my comments yesterday. My argument with the Labor candidate is about how our respective policies would affect the people of Dickson.”

Despite the uncouth mouth of Peter Dutton also being condemned, Birmingham was doubling down. He had apologised, after all. But it was far from the apology of a decent man.

“Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity” (John Lord).

3 Continuing on with their Trumpish incompetency, Morrison and Freydenburg decided to launch an early scare campaign.

They have reached a stage where they believe that the public will believe every lie they tell them.

These lies however were so obvious that a half-blind stone-death great grand mother with no economic experience could see right through them. Trying to turn every policy of Labor’s into a tax increase simply defies logic.

“Surely an incoming government who doubles the countries debt cannot then claim to have inherited a debt problem that amounts to a budget crisis” (John Lord).

In an article for Crickey (firewall) Bernard Keane had this to say:

The Coalition (spectacularly) missing the point on tax?

“Documents purporting to be Treasury costing’s were circulated to media outlets to demonstrate that Labor would increase taxes by $390 billion over a decade compared to the government.

Interestingly, neither of the outlets friendly to the Coalition ran hard with it. The AFR‘s John Kehoe noted that it was really a Coalition costing “via Treasury”. The Australian tucked it away on page 4. Both outlets have, ironically, run with other stories in recent days saying Labor’s policies will raise far less tax than Labor says.”

The end result was for them to make monumental fools of them selves. In government their incompetency resulted in a daily stuff up of one sort or another. Are they trying to lie their way into another term?

It also has to be said that Shorten’s rebuttal wasn’t very effective. In fact it was as insipid as a limp handshake.

“Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths” (John Lord).

4 It looks as though they are continuing in the campaign period. After all the problems with citizenship last year you would think it would be the first matter of importance. Instead the Liberals have had to replace three candidates, two with dual citizenships and one an Australia Post employee. How stupid can you be?

Labor also had it’s problems with Melissa Parks – Labor’s star candidate for Julie Bishop’s seat of Curtin – having to quit on Friday night after the party entered into crisis talks over remarks she made about the Israel and Palestine conflict.

5 It’s 12.30 I’m watching News24 when a Q&A promo comes on and Malcolm Roberts’ head appears. He is running for the Senate. Another blow for science.

6 It’s Sunday April 14, 8.30am and I’m watching Simon Birmingham being interviewed by News 24. He is telling the most outrageous lies and I can feel the rage building up in me.

I know that it’s what one should expect. However, there is this fight between the idealist me and outraged me. Despite the Lib’s accusation of a $387 tax grab being discredited throughout the media there was Birmingham repeating the same lies.

7 The Election campaign has been running for only a few days and we are yet to hear a narrative of hope – of – ideas – of innovation, even dreams of a better Australia. I can understand the silence of Scott Morrison.

After six years of governance he and the other prime ministers (Abbott and Turnbull) have harvested little to talk about. In fact, demonstrably the LNP has shown that it inhabits a past where its MPs find it difficult to break out of in order to keep up with the rest of us.

My thought for the day

The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on everyone to become involved.

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John Lord’s Election Diary No.1: There is no such thing as a society

Saturday 13 April 2019

1 This is the first of my election diaries for the coming campaign.

I have no doubt that this is the most important election in my long period of following politics. As a young 14 year old on Sunday mornings I would stand under the elms of the area now occupied by the Melbourne tennis centre and watch the political debates.

Something inside me endeared me to the left of politics and there I have remained ever since. I hope you find my meanderings unbiased otherwise I’m just wasting words. All the quotes in italics are my own.

“Bias is an opinion that in the absence of objectivity, is prejudiced and unbalanced. Its foundation is untruth and therefore cannot be impartial”

Thursday 11 April 2019

2 he Prime Minister visited the Governor General and soon after announced the date of the next Federal Election. And so will come to an end under Abbott/ Turnbull and Morrison: the worst period of government I can ever remember.

A period where self interest replaced the best interests of the people. A period in which some unknown process allowed the greatest bunch of political weirdos and ratbags in our history to be elected.

Together they have wrecked havoc on the nation and our parliament. Collectively the Australian people should breath a sigh of relief that the 45th parliament is gone and that our democracy commands us to elect another.

We will do so in 35 days minus some public holidays.

3 The Prime Minister makes his pitch and despite his government’s efforts to make it otherwise, Scott says Australia is the best country in the world.

He reckons economics is responsible for everything. That you cannot achieve anything without a strong economy. Which is true of course. But you can show greater equity in the way you share it.

He talks about how great his government has been. The GFC never happened. Everything is Labor’s fault. They are the world’s best managers of money. He doesn’t mention that we are now, because of them, swimming in so much debt that it will take years to pay back.

“There is no such thing as society, only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich,” said the lady with the bad hair do.

He paints such a rosy picture of his government that the smell waffles across my computer insinuating its way into the dollar tab. But what a snake oil salesman he is.

4 Bill Shorten says that economics is but a component of a fairer society. He is talking about a new Labor or is it the old Labor that I grew up with?

Is it impossible to hope that there are some people of integrity who might form a centrist party dedicated to honest government for all and the principles of “from each according to her/his ability, to each according to her/his need”? There is no one now to keep the bastards honest.

“We live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.”

“The happiest of people don’t necessarily have the best of everything; 
They just make the most of everything they have.”

As is usual the flurry of the first day comes and goes and the people must be, after Morrison’s silly attempts to prolong naming the day, must be pleased that we finally have a date to move toward.

Friday 12 April 2019

5 I’m in a reflective mood and the “what if” question enters my conscious. What if the LNP was to win and we are subjected to another 3 years of the sort of governance Abbott/Turnbull and Morrison have shoved down our throats?

My deliberations are interrupted by the 7am news that the first casualty of election campaigns has appeared. Lying Morrison produces a list of what Treasury reckons is a real list of Labor’s costings. The only problem is as Bowan correctly says is that Treasury does not cost opposition policies.

It seems to me that in order to keep the economy front and centre he will continue to lie about anything to this aim.

Like this one:

@ScottMorrisonMP: To pay someone more, you’ve got to sack someone else to do it. That is the Labor Party’s policy. I don’t think anyone wants to get paid more as a result of their work colleague getting sacked.

Or this tweet from Josh Freydenberg:

If elected, @billshortenmp will lead the highest taxing government in Australia’s history, with $387 billion in new taxes over the decade.

This is the equivalent to an extra yearly household tax bill of $5400.

$387 billion in new taxes. Well calling things taxes that simply aren’t looks like being the order of the day. The first scare campaign. Closeting down a loop isn’t a tax. Or deleting a subsidy to buy more houses isn’t a tax. I mean, get serious, Scott.

So if you put this nonsense aside who was the highest taxing government in Australia’s history? I wonder if any of our readers know.

For me as a former church goer (or more an idealist), watching Scott Morrison switch between politician and Christian is a fascination. 

“You know a political party is in trouble when it talks more about its opponents than it does itself.”

He does it with such consummate ease that the average person thinks it’s all perfectly normal. I regret having to say it, but our Prime Ministers turning on his Christian tap of tears, when the occasion warrants is really offensive. Truth is one of the central tenants of the faith. You cannot switch it on and off.

“This is so above politics”he will say when it suits but he has shown no empathy for the many asylum seekers he has made suffer over so many years.

6 On The Drum Thursday night the panellists were asked to name the achievements of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments. It was hilarious. Look it up on iView.

7 By the end of the second day all hope that I had of the campaign being conducted civilly has been dashed. Morrison has decided to take off his coat of many colours and fight with all the gutter tactics he can muster. He will don it again for Easter and Anzac day adding to the fallaciousness of his characterisation.

My thought for the day

Labor needs to win by enough seats so as to guarantee a second term and be competitive for a third.

Update: Thanks to ‘Ian’, here is an updated version of the Tax to GDP Chart that has been kindly posted in the comments by some readers:

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The Mystery that is the Polls

Because I find it difficult to comprehend how it is possible that a government who has governed so abysmally, stuffed up so many policies, NBN, NDIS and many others; had 3 leaders in 6 years with individuals openly fighting with each other, who cannot decide whether it is conservative or Liberal, had daily Trumpish like chaos during its tenure (and continuing), can be so close to winning the next election.

I would have thought that any government as corrupt as this one would be so far behind that a bad loss would be inevitable.

I cannot help but at least try to understand what is the mystery of the polls.

The only explanation that readily comes to mind is that because we have been in an unofficial election campaign for some time now that the tightening which traditionally gives us a more accurate guide to how people will vote, has come early?

Let’s take a step back and take a look at this week’s polls.

On Monday, Newspoll had Labor on 52 and LNP 48. A move of 4 points to the LNP.

Note. A month ago Newspoll had Labor 8 points ahead. In real terms, this means that within a month, after the budget or when the election became a reality, millions of people changed their vote. How is that possible?

Some 18 months or so ago Newspoll changed the way they counted preferences costing Labor 2%

IPSOS had Labor on 53% and LNP 47. No move

On Tuesday, Essential had Labor on 52 and LNP 48. No move. Which is normal for them.

Roy Morgan had Labor on 52.5% and L-NP 47.5%. 2.5% swing to the LNP. Morgan is the only one that does face to face interviews.

Is it possible that because we have been in an unofficial election campaign for some time now that the tightening that always occurs has come early?

I asked this because a degree of tightening normally takes place after an election is announced. In this case, I suspect that because we have been in election mode for so long we will see little movement from now on.

Another factor that doesn’t receive much attention is that the cohort known as the swinging voter has no doubt broadened and could be as high as 40%. We also have the young voters who registered during the Marriage Equality survey and those who have turned 18 since. Most would vote Labor.

The only way to get a real picture of what all the polls mean is to lump them all together over a period of time.

The last time The Bludger track did this was on 30 March and they had Labor Leading 52.9 – 47.

This would mean a comfortable win to Bill Shorten.

On my previous post for THE AIMN, a comment was made by “Alcibiades.” He gave a very succinct view of how he thought the election would play out. I thought it worth another run.

At present the LNP has 73 seats to Labor’s 71, meaning they don’t have a buffer against losses.

Actually it is LNP 73 seats to Labor 72.

As a result of the ~200,000 new & early enrollments just of youngins onlyonto the Electoral rolls just prior to & post the 2016 election & the ‘own goal’ of the Marriage Equality ‘Survey’, that translates to an absolute minimum of 3 plus seats to Labor.

Or to put it another way a minimum ~0.7% plus swing even if everybody else voted the same as for 2016(Not going happen).

These new & pre-enrollments are routinely not captured by pollsters or for that matter not commented on, considered or even remembered. Very odd.

Hence in reality LNP 70- seats to Labor 75 plus seats is ‘conservatively’ closer to the start point. With an embedded minimum swing of ~0.7% plus before considering under-represented polling.

The riven incompetent Coalition must win 6 or 7 seats minimum, whilst losing none nationwide to attain majority government.

Labor … 1 seat. For a third term Federal government to win 6+ seats & lose none would truly be … miraculous.

Because the seats in contention are limited to a relatively small subset of contestable seats, which now actively include traditionally ‘safe’ Blue Ribbon seats in VIC, NSW & WA, Labor could get over the line with a ‘smoothed’ National 2PP swing of only ~0.7%, whereas the swings in the contested seats would be dramatically higher.

Dutton’s chances of retaining his seat are barely one in three and diminishing. Labor will probably secure 90 plus seats on the current under-represented polling, which is inaccurately, based on the then 2016 preference flows.

Simply put, the Coalition lost 14 seats in 2016 and scraped over the line with one seat on a primary vote of 42% against a 2PP swing to Labor of 3%+. They have polled 36-39% primary vote ever since.

They have lost 51 Newspolls in a row. That will be further compounded by proportionally lower diminished preference flows.

If they talk coal or Adani they may score a few votes in QLD, but their vote in VIC will be even more catastrophic and so on.

Further cannabilisation of 2-3 of Coalition seats is likely independents/minors.

On current ‘conservative’ 4.4% plus national 2PP swing (excluding 0.7%+), that’s comprised of State swings of:

QLD 7.1%
NSW 3.9%
VIC 1.2%+
TAS 3.7%
SA 3.4%
WA 5.7%
ACT 3.9%
NT 0%

As one wit on twitter put it:

I’m spending my future tax cut in advance now, to buy not one, but two brickbats!

The last factor is called “The Lord’s instinct.” It’s totality unreliable but it suggests the baseball bats are still behind the front door just waiting to let this government know what they think of it.

MY THOUGHT FOR THE DAY.

“According to the latest polling, the worse the government governs, the more popular they become.”

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A headline in Sunday’s Australian read: “PM buys time to sell budget”

Really, I thought to myself, or was it the fact that a Newspoll result was due to be published on Monday and would be sure to show the government behind yet again. It has now been 3 years since a Newspoll has had them in the lead.

Or is the real reason the Prime Minister didn’t visit the Governor General last weekend that a flaccid budget with an election announcement, followed by more bad polling, would not have been a self-confident look?

And so it came to pass that both the IPSOS 53/47 and Newspoll 52/48 showed Labor in an election-winning position.

So, had Morrison announced the election on Sunday it would have been followed by these polls on Monday and Essential on Tuesday?

As it stands he has another week to spend $600,000 a day on advertising and travel paid for out of the public purse and of course his daily ritual of calling the Opposition Leader a liar.

The other point that escapes most people is that with school holidays bleeding into Easter a fair portion of the population will be politically asleep.

The Poll Bludger had this to say:

Ordinarily I would point out that a two-point movement from Newspoll is a rare occurrence, which close observers of the polling industry suspect is down to Newspoll smoothing its numbers with some variety of rolling average, in which the results of the previous poll are combined with those of the latest.

The bookies have Labor’s odds at $1.16 and the LNP $5.00.

Of the budget, I can only say that other than the tax cuts that favoured higher paid workers I truly cannot remember, other than hearing the words “so tonight I can announce” so many times that my memory is greatly tested as to anything that stood out like the proverbial dog’s balls.

Yes, I do remember that after the budget the government decided that Newstart recipients and some other cohorts would also receive the Energy Supplement. All sorts of reasons have been suggested as to why they were left off but my own theory is that the opposition and the cross benches were prepared to put forward amendments that would see the government once again defeated on the floor of the house.

Actually, my memory is more conversant with what the budget didn’t deliver on.

Climate and energy, for example. The government seems to have abandoned any prospect of a policy on climate change.

Freydenberg raved on about a surplus that may or may not even eventuate as though the word had suddenly been rediscovered.

And it has only come about because of a collapsed tailing’s dam at a Brazilian iron ore mine that resulted also in the collapse of the mine’s output. In turn, it filled the Australian treasury vaults with rivers of gold.

Conversely, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten made a bigger impact with his address in reply. It is a pity that hardly anyone ever watches a budget in reply speech. Had they, they would have witnessed a calm reasoned politician whose delivery has immensely improved.

He made it blatantly clear that philosophical differences now exist between the two parties in terms of both economic and social policy development for this election. Labor has chosen to build on the things that matter to communities like health and education.

He wants an old fashioned Labor Party that merges with the problems of a modern complex society. Including in economics.

His compassionate policy on cancer proves beyond doubt that a Shorten government will be one for the people.

“Cancer not only makes you sick it makes you poor.”

With the public craving authentic people Labor has to hope that eventually, the Shorten haters will come on board.

When Freydenberg delivered his budget he sounded like he was at the annual meeting of a large corporation reading its annual report.

And this is something that conservatives seem utterly incapable of grasping! We live in a society, not an economy.

The Clayton’s campaign has been running for months now. Ask yourself this: If the government won another term and the, for now, hidden infighting and disunity, were to erupt again, which it most certainly would, then a collapse of our already fragile democracy would be inevitable?

From the voters perspective, it would mean that they didn’t care if the Government was arguably Australia’s most cooked parliament in history.

According to Newspoll Labor will win 82 seats. According to the Fairfax poll, 87 seats. Assuming a uniform swing, 76 seats are needed for a majority government. Labor only needs a uniform swing of about 1% to win a majority government. The good news for Labor, however, is that re-distributions for the next election would appear to gift Labor with three extra seats.

At present the LNP has 73 seats to Labor’s 71, meaning they don’t have a buffer against losses.

A 3% swing to Labor would lead to senior ministers Peter Dutton and David Coleman losing their seats. However:

The most telling number in a recent Australian Electoral Study group is the closing of the gap between those who voted traditionally for the same party and those who considered voting for another party. That tally of rusted-on voters is down to 40 per cent from 63 per cent in 1987 and 72 per cent in 1967.

With the public utterly disgusted with the behaviour of our politicians, trust will play an important part in the election. They hunger for a civil debate around the issues and want rid of all the name-calling, the lies, half-truths and uncouth comments, the exaggeration and self-interest.

Morrison’s repetitively calling Shorten a liar is uncalled for and may have a negative response.

So Labor, honestly, they can lecture nobody about anything. Labor are about lies and higher taxes.

Initially, the most important thing in this election cycle is that this current rotten lot of LNP politicians are turfed out. Australia cannot afford another three years of instability, pointless drifting like a ship without a rudder, without leadership wrangles every few months. It has to end and it’s in the control of the voters to end it.

An observation

Current experience would suggest that the Australian people need to take more care when electing its leaders.

We need a government that respects the institutions and conventions of our parliament. We are in a period where the very institution of democracy itself is in such a precarious position that it could collapse under the weight of bad politicians and bad politics.

An observation

I find it impossible to imagine that the Australian people would be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that has performed so miserably in the first two. But they just might.

Political history around the world is recording a moment in time where terrifying events are taking place.

We have a self-absorbed narcissist in the White House and because of Brexit, the live action collapse of the British government is possible.

Shorten, although not popular, is a thinker on policy and a leader with 6 hard years under his belt. He affords us the opportunity to make over our democracy. Instil fairness into it and intercede in all the rorting and corruption that has taken place over the past 6 years.

The Abbott, Turnbull and Morisson governments have been a mixture of blind incompetence and outright greed, where simply doing the right thing by people became a step too far but advancing the lot of the wealthy and privileged was always a lightweight to lift.

An observation

Never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen.

My thought for the day

The peoples of all the nations of the world increasingly seem to be having less to say about their own destiny.

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A budget that gives and gives and gives and gives but has no interest in the things that matter

Pre budget: Tuesday 2 April

What a farce it is to present a budget a few days out from the announcement of a general election. Particularly when you know that the odds of you winning are slim and your budget will become superfluous anyway. It’s yet another example of the mistrust people have for politicians.

Most voters will view it as a cynical pre-election move by a government that hasn’t been able to manage itself for 6 years.

Before commenting on this unnecessary exercise in yearly budgetary planning we must at first recognise that budgets are at best forecasts based on available evidence.

We won’t really know if it’s a surplus until November of 2020 when all the figures are finalised. So all this talk of a surplus budget is premature. The government is forecasting a very ambitious 3%growth rate for the year. It would only take a collapse in commodity prices and a surplus would be out the window.

Even blind Freddy knows that the only reason they are able to predict a surplus is that the price of iron ore and coal has risen dramatically over the past few months. To suggest that it is a result of sound economic management is saying that changing Prime Ministers frequently guarantee’s victory.

It is also unsurprising just how many of the voting fraternity think that a surplus budget wipes off all of our debt. No, Australia’s debt that the LNP have doubled still remains.

But in delivering his first budget just what will the treasurer tell us about the existing state of the economy. Nothing I have read thus far suggests the treasurer will mention the economic storms starting to rear the heads on the economic horizon. If America or Europe catches a cold then we are sure to get the flue.

Freydenberg tells us that his budget will ease the cost of living on those who need it most and to prove his point he will give pensioners and others $2 a week to help with electricity. Now we can give the grand kids some pocket money my wife said.

Delivering what can only be a political budget in the shade of an upcoming election is precarious. With only 3 days of sitting not many of the budget measures can be passed so it really is a campaign launch without the bells and whistles.

Shorten is calling the phony budget for what it is; a pantomime. Given they have been fighting each other for so long I’d suggest a few last minute cash splashes won’t mean much to the electorate.

As Shorten said:

“What new idea is the government going to do in the next six weeks that they couldn’t do in the last six years?”

Shorten is a better tactician than Morisson and his move to release Labor’s much more ambitious climate and energy and motor vehicle policies was a good move.I’m tipping there will be a lots of candy handed out on budget night. The problems for the government will be that it has either passed its used by date or the wrappers are to out of date.

Post budget: Wednesday 3 April

So, what are we to make of this budget? Well, it is a budget that gives and gives and gives and gives but has no interest in the things that matter.

It is one that Labor has said it will put aside before it’s own mini budget in September or there a-bouts. As it turns out it is a budget asking you to forget the last six years of division, disunity and of revolving door leadership. Just forgive and forget.

Even after doubling the debt to record heights they continue to roll out the debt truck, the debt emergency, of Labor’s incumbent years as if their own economic sins were their right to make.

It was so typically conservative, divorcing itself from the future, from science, from climate action, and solving our energy problems. Where were the voices shouting, “what price will the people of tomorrow pay for the stupidity of today’s folly”?

Where was the grand opening of eyes that had been closed for a generation? Where were the voices that could see that not having a climate change policy or an energy policy are part of that folly.

Labor is adopting Malcolm Turnbull’s policy on climate with their own enhancements. I call it entry politics. It’s the one their own party rejected.

The LNP is left with plans to spend $2bn “climate solutions fund” over 15 years, not 10 as they said a short time ago.

Morisson is stupidly making “carbon tax” noises again even though Peta Credlin admitted that under Abbott it was nothing more than a political hoax.

Why is this government so reluctant to adapt to change? That the world was far ahead of us on things that matter.

Why do they not see that if they were to win the next election we, given their objection to electric driven cars, might have to revert to manufacturing our own petrol driven cars because nobody else will be doing it.

At the risk of repeating myself a forecast is not a surplus. And when you have the NDIS paying for almost half of it you have to be contemptuous even cynical. And to take money away from the NDIS is nothing short of deplorable.

“Is it a moral fail to build an election surplus off starving the National Disability Insurance Scheme of money, leaving disabled people without the services they need?” Asked Jon Faine on ABC Radio.

And as I sat and listened to Josh Freydenberg giving away billions of dollars so effortlessly I had hopes of a small blessing for pensioners but it was not to be.

Now 6 years in power. All of it rotten and all of a sudden they think they deserve another three. Enough is enough.

This budget I believe isn’t the thinking of a progressive even ambitious government dedicated to marrying tax cuts to the common good. It is more that of an unfair government that assumes that those who earn under $40,000 will vote Labor and those earning $120,000 will vote LNP. Look at the tax cuts!

My thought for the day

We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence.

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A progressive society needs common good economic policies

The economics

“We have to change the government; we have to change our system of government. It’s not enough to nit-pick Canberra gossip, merely to second guess power plays, catalogue dishonesties and incompetence’s — ceaselessly doing that is what’s made you tire of writing John.

Your passions, which are good, need to be turned to the future, to a creative way of thinking about the future. Lately, it seems to me your thinking has run into a brick wall that others have built.”

My friend from Facebook is correct. The problems I so often write about are not confined to Australia. As he so eloquently puts it; they are ubiquitous and common to most Western societies.

I heard a broadcaster quote former President Obama the other day. He said if he could take three things from Australia it would be our compulsory voting system, our gun laws and our Health system.

And here am I thinking about what is wrong with our country.

One has to ask is Australia a democracy anymore or do we just live in a capitalist driven economy. Everything seems to be monetised, absolutely everything. There is nothing we do that in one way or another isn’t tied together by money.

The belief that we live in a democracy is a myth – comforting and beguiling, as it may be, but a myth never the less. One way or another all the problems of the world seem to be inextricably linked to economics and maybe it isn’t our democracy that is in need of repair but capitalism itself.

If only we could break the unassailable grip that global capitalism now has on humanity. Capitalism and its grip on politics has driven industrial agriculture and fishing to the point of system collapse. It has driven catastrophic climate change, and the greatest military Industrial complex ever assembled.

It threatens human existence on multiple fronts. Is capitalism our politics?

It owns our politicians be they progressives or conservatives, independents. Yes, policy differences can be found at the local, state, even national levels but they are all essentially the same under the ironclad laws of capitalism.

Profit is the immutable law. At any cost. Propaganda, PR and marketing (all the same) are used to mask the greed that underpins the capitalist drive for profit.

I don’t have any solutions – no one has the solutions. But we can act and respond. As individuals, we might brighten our daily lives and relieve the inner tensions driven by uncontrollable capitalism by thinking we can see solutions – by making lists of system tweaks for example.

But in the human herd, we are no more capable of stopping the stampede to our own destruction now, than is a wildebeest in its herd capable of stopping the march forward.

History tells us this much – revolution is the most powerful change maker. I think we are possibly living in a period that is the forerunner to a huge revolution in human terms.

By drawing up lists of minor tweaks to the capitalism that is driving us inexorably forward, I feel we are simply prolonging the agony and the planetary damage.

There is no light on the hill to steer Australia’s broken politics but in saying this I am not arguing for giving up – rather, it is a call to political, economic and social revolution – a call to our youth to take off the rose coloured glasses of consumer capitalism and corrupted politics and see the system for what it is – irredeemably corrupt, dehumanising capitalism, and to reject it outright.

Economics is not a capitalist gift to the right of politics to further the wealth of the rich or a plaything for politicians that will cement their power. Economics should be a gift used to mould a humane and rounded society committed to kindness and compassion.

Where the pursuit of success is encouraged while at the same time acknowledging that equality of opportunity is real in economic terms.

Imagine if you will an Australia where economics has a humane face to it.

Society

The sort of capitalism that is inseparably married to the common good.

Only youth can do this. The older generation got us to this point – it is not going to change anything because it hasn’t the energy, or the vision.

It requires the young to cultivate a common good society with equality of opportunity for all.

A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon your character and the colour of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth.

A society that believes in individual pursuit, intellectual accomplishment and financial reward only regulated by what is beneficial for the common collective good. In other words, everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

A society where freedom of expression is guaranteed but limited only by the innate moral personal decency of the individual. Where free speech is fair speech. An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

A society where the health and welfare of all is sacrosanct and access to treatment is assured. Where the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us is indelible in the mind of every citizen. A society that respects science before myth and mysticism, but at the same time recognises the individual’s right to the expression of their own form of spirituality so long as it doesn’t hinder the common good.

A society that should be judged by its welcoming, and how well it treats its most vulnerable citizens. By how well protected we are and how accessible the law is regardless of stature or wealth.

We need a government that is subservient to the will (the common good ethics) of the people and is responsive to the inclusiveness of public opinion.

It is government that decides and regulates the progress and ambitions of society. Or at least provides the environment in which to do so. There is very little that is done in the name of progress that cannot be attributed in some way to government. Individual or collective ambition can only be achieved within a social structure built and controlled by government.

Currently, we are experiencing, all over the world, a shift in power from government to those who control the means of production, financial institutions, the media, the rich, the privileged and large corporations.

Government by the people for the common good needs to be taken back. It is our entitlement, not there’s.

Catalyst is a word that describes something that is a defining reason for change, or it is what stimulates discussion about something that otherwise wouldn’t have taken place.

How I look at the past few years. They have been the catalyst that might wake us from the political malaise that had bogged us down in a quagmire of narcissism. It’s the individual first second and third.

Every part of society, when you think about it, has been indoctrinated with a nefarious, me first attitude that has seen the common good almost vanish.

Where as the common good should be at the center of any political philosophy. However, it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.

My thought for the day

“When drafting a budget for the common good what should your priorities be?”

Authors note

This post has been written in conjunction with a Facebook reader I am unable to identify. If you recognise your words and your name is Phil I will give you due recognition. An unidentified male also writes the first paragraph. A bad habit of mine is cutting and pasting things of interest and forgetting the author’s name.

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It’s been hard yakka, and there are so many to thank

Suddenly it is upon us. Like an unexpected thunderstorm that seemingly comes from nowhere. Next Tuesday, April 2, the Treasurer of Australia will present an unnecessary, premature election budget.

Bill Shorten will deliver his address in reply, then the Prime Minister will, after seeing the Governor, announce the date of the next election.

This Government has for a long time now been experiencing a terminal but drawn out, and at times painfully slow death that would have been better for the country if a severe form of euthanasia had been used.

However, like many others who write for The AIMN we should be eternally grateful for the unending stream of pitiful governance this country has ever seen.

Please excuse my negativity but writers of talent could hardly ignore such tit bits of unscrupulous governance. We rejoiced in the opportunities.

We have never had to suffer writer’s block because the conservatives have provided us with ample scoops of salacious tit bits of backbench threats, sexism, self-gratification, racist whispers and other seedy events like bedroom frolics that guaranteed to make the climate change.

Not only that, we should get on our collective knees and thank them for 6 years of scandal, deplorable leadership and nothing to show for their endless pursuit of political oblivion.

And as we approach these dismal final days in which the Australian public will make its judgement as to who should lead us next we writers of The AIM will be faced with the question; will it ever be this good again? Will our fingers ever feel such heat from the keys again?

Of course, the answer to that is in the future where as we are concerned with today and not the possibility of good governance tomorrow.

Of course it would be remiss of me, even bad mannered, if I didn’t show my appreciation to those members of the media who so diligently provided us with so many lies that they made our work so much easier.

And of course one cannot forget those rags, the Murdoch publications (disrespectful, I know) where the truth goes to die.

And their writers, those who write so much gutter drivel that our fingers become unconstrained and jump at the opportunity to correct their every lie.

You know them, the likes of Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Chris Kenny, Gerard Henderson et al. All of whom are paid enormous sums to titillate the moronic and stupefy the masses into believing that greed is good and reading their gutter journalism is the truth.

For our part we have been delighted to be able to correct the likes of Alan Jones and the other shock jocks who are remunerated with enormous sums for being controversial, exaggerating, misleading and telling lies. Even pulling down the characters of good people.

And what would we have written about if Prime Ministers Abbott and Turnbull had not been stabbed in the back. With 6 years of turmoil, of in-fighting we have had to have our fingers on notice night and day.

We have never known what our leaders have stood for. They tried to kid us into believing they had the country first and foremost in their hearts but we found that Tony had his own interests on top of his list. He spent three years trying to destroy his own party by turning them into right-wing fascists.

Then Turnbull bought his own prime ministership but ended up being the greatest hypocrite we have ever known. He sold himself out.

Lastly, we have Morrison, who says he is of Christian background but his actions suggest the complete opposite.

All three have done, in one way or another, their very best to destroy the structures of our democracy. Goodness knows what I would have done without the ‘Notes’ app on my iPad.

Yes Paddy, as I so affectionately call it, has done his fair share of work over the years. I would hate to know how many pieces I have posted on The AIM and Facebook.

I don’t think I have come across a government with so many idiots in its ranks. Miranda Devine once described them as the most educated group ever assembled. If that is so then why the daily dose of Trumpish-like blunders and near death experiences.

Fairdinkum, if you think I am a trifle annoyed you would be right. Look at this list of ‘contributors’ to this blog. Abbott, Joyce, Christiansen, Andrews, Dutton, Freydenberg, O’Dwyer, Price, Pyne, Robert, Morrison, Wilson, Zimmerman, Cannavan, Williams, O’Sullivan, and of course the red-haired one.

I have never been lost for a word with this lot of moronic individuals. In 6 years of writing my typing has improved immensely. So I have much to thank these unworthy politicians for and I hope that in return my words have expressed my most robust appreciation.

In just a few more days a budget the opposite of 2014 will be presented to the parliament. Everything else they have touched has failed now they will try to buy us. It will be an election budget and not a nation building one.

So the time has come for those on my side to unite our fingers and let the keys do the talking.

My thought for the day

The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.

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History tells us that it’s hard to believe him

Leaders can only be defined by what they do and what they say. Their character is measured by their contribution to the good of society and the contradictions of our human nature. Our emotion and our logic.

How do we balance the two? Character governs our moral choices, our professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics.

So, in watching the interview of Waleed Aly and Prime Minister Scott Morrison I desperately wanted to eliminate any perception of bias on my part. An impossible task you might say because in this case that is exactly what we are doing, judging.

Often our opinions are simply based on our own values rather than our understanding and the difficulty is separating the two. Some judge with a mixture of logic and emotion others with one or the other.

Another factor in making any judgement is experience. When you are not far from 80 and have 60 years or so of following politics behind you certain elements come together allowing one’s experience and knowledge to form judgements.

The protagonists: Waleed Aly

The Australian tweeted that Gerard Henderson writes that:

“It appears Waleed Aly believes his views are more significant than those of the PM”

When I read it the first thing that occurred to me was maybe they are. I know many people whose knowledge of Climate Change for example are far superior to that of the Prime Ministers.

No one has an ownership of knowledge, or wisdom, for that matter.

My interpretation of Henderson’s words was that Aly had no right to question Morrison simply because he was the Prime Minister and he should have more respect.

Was Aly supposed to concede that politicians are the citadels of all knowledge?

Aly is an author, journalist, newspaper columnist, radio and television presenter, lawyer, academic, guitarist, songwriter and thinker.

Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister of Australia has a BSc (Honour’s) from Sydney University.

Background

Aly on the television programme “The Project “gave a passionate response (now viewed 14 million times) to the New Zealand massacres in which, without mentioning the Australian Prime Minister’s name, nonetheless implicated him in the criticism of those who have shown anti-Muslim traits for many years. Central to Aly’s criticism was the proposition that Scott Morrison had, at a shadow cabinet meeting in 2010 “urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns” about Muslims and appeal to the public perception of their “inability to integrate”

This followed his questioning in the same month after forty-eight asylum seekers died in the Christmas Island boat disaster. In February 2011, Morrison publicly questioned the decision of the Gillard Labor government to pay for the relatives of the victims to travel to funerals in Sydney, arguing that the same privilege was not extended to Australian citizens.

After fellow Liberal and shadow treasurer Joe Hockey disagreed with Morrison’s statements, Morrison said that the timing of his comments was insensitive, but did not back away from the comments themselves.

The interview

After a few days passed with the tension rising the Prime Minister agreed to a 30-minute interview with Aly. He had earlier threatened to sue Aly and the 10 Network.

Now he desperately wanted to be believed.

The Prime Minister in the interview demonstrated that he has learnt nothing from the voice of public opinion that for years has been screaming. “Enough is enough.” Enough lying. Enough lying by omission enough of the lack of transparency, of truth, of non-answers, avoiding the question.

His demeanour was at times condescending, talking down to Aly as though he was giving a schoolboy a lesson in behaviour. He was often prickly even defiant. To avoid answering questions he substituted answers with antidotes.

This he did continuously forcing Aly to often interrupt to bring him back to the question. Aly’s style is unobtrusive yet persistent.

The evidence

Aly got the ball rolling by asking Morrison if the Liberal Party had a problem with Islamophobia’ he quoted a list of examples for the Prime Minister to consider. He didn’t wouldn’t, couldn’t, answer the question instead playing the part of a raconteur giving a light-hearted after dinner speech.

Six times in 13 minutes he avoided the question and defended his colleagues. It was the same old political defence. The one the public has said enough too.

Having had enough of this form of questioning Morrison hit back saying:

“Do we want to get bogged down in this? Or do we want to move on and make things better?”

Aly returned fire. “Talking about the past is important because the only way you can move forward and reset at a moment like this, is to acknowledge things that have happened in the past that are a problem and need fixing.”

Aly for all his boyish nicety was giving as much as he got and became particularly irate when Morrison pointing at Aly’s notes suggested he was a bit emotional and that his reaction to the 50 lives lost was a bit over the top.

Morrison was deliberately trying to undermine his incredibly well composed, heartfelt and powerful monologue on The Project on Friday night.

Comment

Now I consider that beginning with Tampa and the first moment Philip Ruddock called people genuinely seeking asylum, “illegals,” that there are ample examples, including himself, of LNP MPs using race to demonise people that there could only be one answer to the question.

All of Morrison’s storytelling (“my record of working with the Muslim community in Sydney in particular speaks volumes for my track record”) couldn’t change anything so strong is the evidence of them debunking the character of Muslims. We have had 10 years of it. It’s on the record. Abbott, Dutton and Morrison.

As an aside yesterday’s Essential poll found that (42%) agreed with the statement “politicians from Australia’s major parties have deliberately stirred up anti-Islamic sentiment as a way of getting votes.”

“Do we want to get bogged down in this? Or do we want to move on and make things better?”

The interview rolled on with Aly on the same theme. Did Morrison suggest that anti-Muslim sentiment should be exploited?

It degenerated into a bizarre exchange of “he said she said” that could only go nowhere. Aly’s demeanour was typically calm and measured Morrison was becoming increasingly exasperated.

Both did their share of interrupting the other.

Much of Morrison’s defence was taken up with his monologues of the awesome work he had done with the Muslim community and the friends he had made.

No, he couldn’t answer for other colleague’s but not one was guilty of racist derogatory remarks. It would seem that they were all as pure as snow and people like me and the 42% were all just left-wing nut jobs.

Toward the end the Prime Minister began to lecture Aly.

When it came to the question of; “would he be putting One Nation last on his How To Vote card,” he refused to answer.

Aly countered by saying that it was One Nation that has previously stated Islam is a “disease that needs to be vaccinated.”

You would think that saying just that was a good enough reason, but Morrison wanted to keep his options open and when Aly persisted he became belligerent.

Aly asked the question several more times, asking; “why is this is difficult question?” But no answer was forthcoming.

The final question was about Asylum Seekers. Is it a problem that we talk about asylum seekers as rapists, murderers and paedophiles?

Morrison replied by asking: “What if there are rapists and murderers? … Do we ignore that?”

Aly responded by saying; “Frontfooting that description of these people, when there are so few of them in that category, that creates a prejudice.”

But Morrison insisted we must be honest with people. There are real risks, he said.

Aly tried but could not get a figure.

The point being that the government was subliminally or auto suggesting that all asylum seekers could be rapists, murderers and paedophiles.

After 30 minutes with no add breaks the Prime Minister like so many other times never really answered the question even though he knew the answer he wanted the public to imagine the worst.

So, in the end I am left to evaluate it all with little to go by other than my experience.

My experience has told me that unquestionably it certainly cannot be denied that the government has been consistent with their endless Islamophobic rants and demonising of asylum seekers. It has been going on for a decade.

As for whether Morrison in 2010 who; “urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns” about Muslims,” I truly cannot say. The evidence is mixed.

Three respected journalists say they were briefed to that effect. A few shadow cabinet ministers say he didn’t. One, Geoff Hunt says he didn’t, but he wasn’t even there. Yet another said he did. He is on the record.

The Prime Minister says that Aly’s editorial contained “a disgraceful smear and an appalling lie.”

So, I’m left with only my experience to guide me. It tells me that despite his grand stories of making friends with Muslims, his evangelical Christianity and his self-righteousness he must have used those words or similar.

“Don’t prejudge me,” the Prime Minister said. Well I am afraid many like me already have.

My thought for the day

When you tell a lie you deny the other person the truth.

PS: The tone of our political debate, despite 50 lives being lost, still hasn’t risen from the sewer. It won’t until this government has gone. If that is bias then so be it.

Postscript

After TV presenter Waleed Aly reminded us of Scott Morrison’s reported suggestion of making anti-Muslim sentiments a political weapon, Prime Minister Morrison threatened to sue Waleed Aly.

New Zealand PM, Jacinda Ardern instead invited Waleed to New Zealand for an interview. Morrison has backed down on his threat to sue. Waleed went to New Zealand to meet the Prime Minister.

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Killing the innocents and other misdemeanours

It was only after a half hour or so after watching the video footage of the New Zealand killings that I awoke to the fact that the vision had made no impression on me.

Had I become so immune to all the horror of mass murders? The killing of the innocents and the rape of young girls that my mind had been numbed senseless by it all? I had to shake myself from my indifference. I felt ashamed of myself.

Once I had watched an ISIS leader shoot 20 or so old men in the back of the head and kicked them into a deep mass grave. It appalled me, so horrific it was.

The mass killings in New Zealand, because the boot was now on the other foot, have evoked many responses. This was a white man killing brown men. Yes, Muslims.

The fine Australian Waleed Aly on The Project gave a passionate response to the New Zealand massacres in which, without mentioning the Australian Prime Minister’s name, nonetheless implicated him in the criticism of those who have shown anti-Muslim traits for many years. Central to Aly’s criticism was the proposition that Scott Morrison had said at a shadow cabinet meeting:

“What are we going to do about multiculturalism? What are we going to do about concerns about the number of Muslims?”

I unquestionably recall reading about that statement just as I do Morrison’s insensitive one about the cost of allowing other Muslims to attend funerals in which people had drowned. Abbott backed him, of course. And Morrison made it on the day they were being buried.

In a 2011 piece for the SMH Lenore Taylor said that the opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

Whatever is the truth of it, it certainly cannot be denied that at that time and since, the government has been consistent with their endless Islamophobic rants. It has been going on for a decade.

That Muslims have tolerated the conservative dog whistling comments of Peter Dutton and many others is commendable.

“Lebanese Muslim migration program in the 1970s was a “mistake”.

Tony Abbott’s speech in which he said;

“Islamophobia hasn’t killed anyone”.

Tell that to the 50 men, women, and children lying still but coldly calm in a morgue in the land where the silver fern grows.

On Monday in an interview on 2GB former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said:

“All of us need to lift our game,” “We need to get right away from demonising people.

“We should not make anyone who is an Australian feel like a stranger in their own home.”

Sorry, Tony but that staggering hypocrisy is yet another disgusting lie to defend the ones already told. The avalanche of them told by you and your racist party over the past 10 years is simply deplorable.

The hatred expressed by those of the far-right has inexorably been normalised. It’s what I fell for. Say it often enough for long enough and people will become immune to it and be comfortable with it.

And look at the result. Look at what all their words of hatred has produced.

And there is no point denying your xenophobia. Remember the Tampa? What a racist success that was.

So has offshore detention worked? It has enabled you to demonise people to your hearts content. All despite repeated condemnations from international bodies.

Places like Nauru where men and women were kept without dignity and without hope. And most of them were Muslims. They might just be terrorists, you said. And it’s about community safety.

Then we went to Iraq on the basis of a lie. Side by side with the USA. They had no evidence nor did John Howard.

It’s always been about Muslims, so we fight them where we can. Even if we have to go to Afghanistan.

Abbott tells us to be afraid ISIS is coming to get you. Yes, you personally. It’s Muslims once again.

“The wars began with a deluge of propaganda.” Later, the terror threat was leveraged to massively enhance surveillance by Australia’s national security.

Then in December 2005 the darling of the dollar Alan Jones was urging all the fit and abled young Australian white males to get down to Cronulla and throw whatever they could find at Muslims having a picnic on a bright Australian summers day. It didn’t worry Alan his ratings just went up.

The race riots of Cronulla were the genesis for the wearing of our flag on naked torsos to symbolise that we were better that those Muslims.

Now it’s commonplace to wear a flag on Australia Day to put those “Others” in their place. The flag that says little about our past and less about our future flies on Anzac Day celebrating militarism and imperialism.

And at the same time the Murdoch rags and other media outlets monopolises our media market and will keep demonising Muslims so long as it makes them a quid. Or they at least think it does.

Maybe they don’t have the circulation they once had but they still have the influence. They are still the go-to place for the shock jocks and others.

They say that the left is as bad as the right but I have never seen any evidence. Show me the evidence. Show it to me now. Does it compare with the facts I have written? Name me a left wing shock jock.

Do you recall Anzac Day of 2017; an intelligent young Muslim girl by the name of Yassmin Abdel-Magied had the audacity to use the words “LEST.WE.FORGET. (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine…)” on her Facebook page?

She was trying to make the point that suffering was just suffering regardless of the conflict, and that people on Nauru and Manus were also suffering.

Murdoch’s Australian newspaper took offence, condemned her, and over time drove her out of the country.

She is a Muslim.

She escaped their racism and went to London where she described Australia as like an “abusive boyfriend”.

The Daily Telegraph but a year ago was reporting on the white farmers in South Africa. The writing was full of innuendo implying that blacks were murdering thousands of white farmers. In stepped Immigration Minister Peter Dutton suggesting that white farmers might be given “special attention” if they wanted to immigrate to Australia.

Peter Dutton – around the same time was – suggesting that Melbournians were afraid to go out to a restaurant because of African gangs. Melbournians laughed at the suggestion.

Shall I go on?  Well, there is still much to be said. There is the case of Senator Anning who made it into the august chamber with just 19 votes on the One Nation ticket and then promptly deserted.

Again this week he came to national attention when he appeared to blame the victims of the Christchurch massacre, and then again when a young protester cracked an egg on Anning’s baldhead. It was a pity the kid didn’t use an even dozen.

Does the reader think that white nationalism is on the increase? Is it just my imagination? After all our Senate in all its wisdom did pass a bill saying that its “It’s OK to be white.”

Only last week the man who once had a brain Mark Latham and the red head with an ultra white complex were suggesting that self-identified Indigenous people be DNA tested before they receive welfare.

Retired former discrimination commissioner Tim Soutphommasane said recently that the government was “campaigning on fear, seeking to incite hysteria about asylum seekers and border security.”

I’m going to stop there not because I cannot produce more evidence of the Right’s decades-long xenophobia and Muslim-bashing. Goodness, I haven’t even mentioned Andrew Bolt.

They all know who they are these politicians and media hacks that belittle those who but seek comfort and safety from Australia.

Do they wonder why New Zealand is more forthcoming with love and compassion?

When we watch our televisions do we discern how naturally, from the old and the young it comes? Do we reflect that we are not like them, those New Zealander’s but we could be and should be?

Let me finish by saying that the language will have to change and also the transparency of it. If politicians and journalists – anyone for that matter – want to use the language of the gutter it will now be called out.

If politicians want to use racist scare campaigns as they have in the past – and no doubt plan to use in the next election campaign- then there will be a price to pay. If they want to change section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act to open free speech to enter the field of hate speech, I wouldn’t dare.

There are signs that public sentiment has shifted enormously; that all the government’s lies have caught up with them to the point where even their own supporters don’t believe them.

From now on a form of accountability in the form of public opinion will judge them.

My thought for the day

An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

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How to fix our democracy (Part 1)

When I posted my piece “An election that’s also about restoring our democracy” a week or so ago l didn’t expect so many comments because I and so many other writers at The AIM had written expressively on the subject in the past. Mel Cam summed them up saying:

Totally endorse all that you’ve said John. I await your post “How to fix it” episode with Interest.

So, l wondered how l should address the question. Firstly, I have to say other writers and people who commented all assume that Labor will win the next election in a canter. Without a win that is accompanied with a large mandate then this exercise will be fruitless.

The AIM doesn’t encourage repeat posts – nor does it reject them – preferring original work. This then is a re-hash of the many pieces I have written on the subject. It is my fervent hope that it answers many of the questions arising from the destruction of our democracy.

It is blatantly clear that people have lost faith in our political democracy and their representatives. This is obvious by the millions turning their backs on our system of democracy and refusing to vote. Who could blame them?

An observation

To say that we are ambivalent about our politicians is an understatement. Now we are ashamed.

Truth

To restore trust politicians who survive the expected annihilation of the contemptible right, as difficult as it might be, must start telling the truth.

In the last session of Parliament Tony Smith, Speaker of the House of Representatives, by refusing his party’s request to hold onto information he had in his possession, set a courageous example in refusing to do so. He showed how respect could be won.

The parties

A consequence of the decline of our democracy has been the rise of extremism and far-right conservatism. Liberalism no longer exists and what the National Party stands for is anybody’s guess.

As a matter of urgency, all parties must redefine their ideology so that the public knows exactly what they stand for.

The Liberal Party has been replaced by neo-conservatism actively asserting individual identity against a collective one and old style Liberalism no longer has a voice.

To give voice to both sides it may have to split into two: A Conservative party and a Liberal Party.

There is little or no difference between the Liberals and the National Party who seem irrelevant as a political force. They also may have to revert to being the Country Party if they are to have any influence in the future.

The Labor Party needs to rid itself of outdated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead.

The elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit and should be recognised as such.

Both major parties have become fragmented with Labor losing a large segment of its membership to the Greens whilst rich populists are undermining the LNP.

In terms of talent, both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual talent without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience.

Both parties have pre-selection processes rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out. Both need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the Union Movement or in the case of the LNP, staffers who have come up through the party.

Question Time

Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills, to act deplorably toward each other. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness.

A place where light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. And in doing so they debase the parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals.

Question Time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker.

Our democracy suffers because no one has the guts to give away the slightest political advantage.

Corruption, politicians, and leadership

There is no reason to doubt that the stench of corruption, seen or unseen, waffles its way through the corridors of the National Parliament and into the highest offices.

Corruption, like rust, insinuates it’s way through all sections of society including unions, business and politics.

This can be fixed with a national ICAC of which I will talk about later.

And our democracy lacks leadership because our current leaders and their followers have so debased the Parliament that there is no compelling reason to be a politician. Well at least for people with decency, integrity and compassion.

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership. In recent times we have had potential but it has been lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest and narcissistic personality.

The pursuit of power for power’s sake and the retention of it has so engulfed political thinking that the people have become secondary and the common good dwells somewhere in the recesses of small minds lacking the capacity for good public policy that achieves social equity.

Our voting system

Our voting system is badly in need of an overhaul. When one party, the Greens attracts more primary votes than the Nationals but can only win one seat in the House of Representatives, as opposed to eight there is something wrong with the system.

Added to that is the ludicrous Senate situation where people are elected on virtually no primary votes, just preferences. It is also a system that allows the election of people with vested business interests with no public disclosure. We need to look at fairer ways to improve what is a good system.

Our media

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of our Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion. Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

On the contrary, it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably.

An observation

In the information age, those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government.

The advent of social media has sent the mainstream media into free-fall. Declining newspaper sales have resulted in lost revenue and profits. It is losing its authority, real or imagined. Bloggers more reflect the feelings of grassroots society.

Writers with whom they can agree or differ but at least have the luxury of doing so.

As a result, newspapers, in particular, have degenerated into gutter political trash in the hope that they might survive. Shock jocks shout the most outrageous lies and vilify people’s character with impunity and in the process do nothing to promote decent democratic illumination.

They even promote free speech as if they are the sole custodians of it.

Australia desperately needs a National Press Council with the teeth of a tiger. It could be funded by government but be totally independent. Attached to it would be a National fact check unit accessible by the public that publishes its results in real time on the Internet. All forms of media should be covered including television, newspapers, radio, and bloggers.

An observation

Lying in the media is wrong at any time however when they do it by deliberate omission it is even more so. Murdoch’s papers seem to do it with impunity.

In my next post, I will cover many other concerns about the decline in our democracy and how to fix them.

I may even revisit some topics as further possibilities come to mind.

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What’s the matter with kids today?

Other than in the headline I have managed not to use the word “kids”. I tried not to do so because it would insult the adult behaviour shown by them during the Climate Strike. Frankly, I don’t give a flying pig if they stayed away from school to give their protest its full weight.

I conducted a focus group three years ago as part of research I was doing for an article about teaching politics in school. The group of year 11 and 12 girls and boys at our local Catholic college showed average knowledge of the workings of politics (exactly what I expected) but their knowledge of issues was excellent.

“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

I watched the Minister for Social Services, Dan Tehan on ABC News 24 last Friday morning. In typical LNP “we know best” fashion he was telling young adults to attend school and let people like him decide what is best for their future.

The thought that we should teach our children how to think and not what to popped into my head as l contemplated the sheer intellectual inadequacy of MPs like Tehan.

An enlightened democratic society should applaud its system of education if that system produces young adults so thoughtful as to the future of their global home and wanting to protest about it.

Further, given that politicians on Tehan‘s side of the political divide have so coldly admitted using the subject purely for political gain it’s difficult to take them seriously.

Of course, I’m referring to Tony Abbott and others who over the past decade has treated climate change as some sort of political plaything.

These young people are to be commended for conveying their thoughts for the survival of the planet so effectively

Given how flippantly Tehran’s right-wing government has treated this world problem, my view is that they just should shut their collective traps and listen to the wisdom of the young.

The television coverage showed these young folk of various ages exercising their democratic right to peacefully and lawfully protest.

A protest they thought important enough to take time away from their education.

“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

They shouted their slogans with the typical robustness of youth as they marched to the home of the Victorian state parliament.

Some were accompanied by their parents, shouting the message in unison with their offspring.

For those of us who understand the implications of climate change and those who don’t but defer their knowledge to science, which guides them, it was a wonder to see.

Adults would be gullible to think that their offspring don’t give climate change any thought, how it happens and who is responsible. They discuss it in class; watch its worldwide effects on television; and talk about it with their friends.

Those who are just starting life’s journey are more apt to worry about it than those who are coming to its end.

Some parents had a flush of moisture around their eyes so moving seemed the protest. These young adults were very much aware of the consequences of doing nothing and just who is responsible.

300,000 registered to vote when it was a requirement to participate in the marriage equality survey. Who does the prime minister think they will vote for in the coming election?

They know that the current generation has utterly failed the next and they are not afraid to say so.

The message of the last protest was the same as the last and will be again if one is held before the next election.

“What do we want? Climate action. When do we want it? Now.”

They know that truth has failed them and the science they are taught and told to respect is the very same science our leaders call “crap”.

They know that if action isn’t taken now then we will have bequeathed our offspring an impossible mess to clean up. They are anything but dumb when they witness the denials and the stupidity; when the facts are placed before them they wonder why their parents – in some cases – are so stupid.

They know that mum and dad incur a cost for the upkeep of their family’s health and they ask why then should they not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.

In terms of the environment they wonder what price the people of tomorrow (meaning them) will pay for the stupidity of today

Tim Flannery was in the march and was quoted as saying:

The amount of despair that young people feel today with this crisis can be immobilising. So to see people out getting angry and demonstrating is bloody fantastic.

It’s a sign of disgust with politics, the fact that people can lie openly and there’s no redress; the fact that inaction is so deeply embedded and that lobbyists seem to rule the roost rather than the voices of the people.

It may be a terrible thing to say, but at least the elderly climate deniers – those who so ardently oppose change and vote according to their own pockets – are disappearing and hopefully will be replaced by young school leavers who have had a good education, respect science and what their logic tells them.

As for me, well, I’m looking for special dispensation.

PS: Next post I will reply to all those questions about what can be done to fix our democracy.

My thought for the day

If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, then what’s the point?

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It’s been confirmed: Those of unsound minds are leading the Nationals

I know I rise early and sometimes in the changeover from bleary eyed half asleep writer to the wide awake writer for The AIM one is apt to misread headlines. But no, there it was in the boldness of stark big black type:

“Nat’s leader links emissions to night sport”

I know LNP MPs frequently make the most outrageous statements on many matters but to say that pursuing a target of 45% emissions would put an end to sport under lights was a bit of a stretch.

“I mean sure, go down that path, but forget night footy, forget night cricket”

And it didn’t end there. The Deputy Prime Minister of Australia went on to say that:

“You’ll have pensioners turning off their power because they won’t be able to afford it, and they’ll be shivering all winter, and they’ll be melting all summer.”

These comments by Michael McCormack were the follow up to last week’s gaffe on The Project, where after a question from Waleed Aly he was unable to think of just one, yes just one time when the National Party had supported farmers over miners. All to often he is caught with his pants down exposing his inabilities.

As a leader Michael McCormack shows little capacity for it. The Aly slip-up is just one of many illustrating his incapacity to think on his feet (or his bum) in this case.

Barnaby Joyce has the same problems when it comes to leadership. Here are a couple of snippets of my thoughts on The AIM from a time now past:

“Leadership demands more than just a ‘retail’ personality. It requires, in the sense of leading a country, a deep insightful worldview. Anyone who has seen Joyce on a Q&A panel with guests who present an understanding of life in all its variances will acknowledge that he has not the capacity to appreciate life beyond politics. He is like Abbott, caught in a world that the rest of us have left far behind.”

***

“Bad policy.Allowing – and maybe even actively supporting – water theft in the Murray Darling Basin. Positive support for coal, opposition to renewables and inaction – or waste of money on Direct Action – on climate change. Pork barreling in rural electorates. These policy disasters stem from the same sense of entitlement that Joyce showed in the conduct of his affair, but have much more significant results. They are the real legacy of Barnaby Joyce”

The National Party no longer represents country folk. It hasn’t for a long time. And it’s not just farmers over miners. When is the last time they have stood up to the Liberals insisting, for example, on a world class NBN for their constituents. Can you remember when they emphatically said NO to a Liberal leader? And it would seem that farmers know more about the environment than the Nationals and they are doing their utmost to protect it but it would seem that Barnaby and Michael think climate is the thing you do with a ladder.

All they do is vote with them. They never initiate policy. With only around 3%of the vote they gain 9 House of Representatives seats compared with the Greens 9% and one seat.

Now it seems that the Nationals, well some of them, led by the irrepressible Barnaby Joyce want a coal power plant built in Queensland and for the taxpayer to foot the bill. And it’s just two months before the election. You would have to be nuts. Such things are only ever done by unsound minds.

This week Barnaby Joyce laid out his claim to the leadership saying that he was elected Deputy Prime Minister at the last election and would stand again if the leadership ever came up. Without realizing just how on the nose he was he had said that the Nats were not married to the Libs. Most times what Barnaby says is politically unfathomable. Just bullshit in the “look at me manner.”

McCormack, in a grubby reply said he understood what it took to have a successful marriage:

“I understand when you have a marriage that it’s a two-way relationship,” he told reporters in Queensland on Monday.

“You don’t always get what you want but you have to work together to build better outcomes for your family.”

It was no doubt an unnecessary reference to Joyce’s recent much publicised marriage breakdown. Also an unnecessary reflection on today’s politics.

Joyce retorted:

“I would hope nobody in politics revels in the personal issues of others and I hope that this is not the case this time.”

Another example of his character is in 1993, McCormack published a controversial editorial in which he blamed homosexuality for AIDS and criticised pride parades. He wrote “a week never goes by anymore that homosexuals and their sordid behaviour don’t become further entrenched in society. His article was the subject of three complaints to the Australian Press Council.

His remarks resurfaced when he embarked on a career in politics, and he issued further apologies in 2010 and 2017, stating that he had “grown and learnt not only to tolerate, but to accept all people regardless of their sexual orientation or any other trait or feature which makes each of us different and unique”.

Despite his apologies, the controversy resurfaced after he became Deputy Prime Minister.

In other editorials, he called for the return of caning in high schools, saying; “there is nothing wrong, in my opinion, with students being given a ‘stinging reminder’ about how to conduct themselves.”

He even wants the Death Penalty returned.

So here we have two dunderheads fighting over the leadership of what is really a country party whose members are not the least interested in the egos of two small minded politicians who have little to offer in the way of leadership.

Joyce in his usual warped state of mind reckons he is “The elected deputy prime minister of Australia.”

While McCormack reckons he is but few can remember his name.

An observation

In the recipe of good leadership there are many ingredients. Popularity is but one. It however ranks far below getting things done for the common good.

Labor’s shadow treasurer Chris Bowen” probably summed it up with this tweet:

“It’s a Venezuelan style stand-off between two blokes who think they are the deputy prime minister. I reckon we just give Tanya Plibersek the job.”

They have nothing positive to say about water, energy, and food or the environment. All of which are in their natural domain. In fact they have little to say about anything other than themselves.

The reality is that they are not a party of or for women. They have little to say about the status of women in their party. Women however have much to say about them.

This for example from Farm succession planner, farmer and 2013 New South Wales Rural Woman of the Year, Isobel Knight said Joyce was not the right person for the leadership and it was a common view in his seat of New England, where she lives.

“I don’t think he is the right person to be in leadership regardless of which side of politics you support, because of his personal integrity and lack of respect for women as well as his adherence to mining interests over farmers,” Knight said.

Loud mouth Joyce never seems to take into account the gravity of what he is saying. He just opens his mouth and lets it rip. When and if a Royal Commission is held into the Murray-Darling Basin plan, Joyce may find himself sorted out from a million others who were incorrectly baited.

I live in the country in the Seat of Gippsland, held by National Darren Chester. For a brief time he became Minister for infrastructure and was able to use his influence to have the City of Traralgon gain an Olympic size swimming pool, a new theatre complex and the refurbishment of the existing basketball complex.

Otherwise it never would have happened. I only mention this because Mr. Chester is a man of quiet dignity, who without much fuss, is determined to get things done for country people. He is enlightened and progressive. Much against National Party policy he was at the forefront of support for Marriage Equality.

I expect the Nationals to take a big hit in the next election. They deserve it. In failing to stand for policies that effect country people and simply caving into the Liberal Party at every turn it has diminished the public view of the party.

Together with having leaders who display all the signs of crazed unsound minds the party has lost so many folk who had always thought of it as their party.

On Tuesday 12 March Fran Kelly interviewed Joyce on Radio National. He became so deranged that Kelly had to ask him to calm down. Former Senator Amanda Vanstone in a tweet has also expressed concern about his mental stability.

The National Party is without leadership and presents itself as a party of ageing country bumpkins or chooks all running around with their heads cut off.

They need to ask themselves if they should revert to the name of Country Party and be fairdinkum about representing them or get to hell out of politics altogether and concentrate on baking pumpkin scones.

My thought for the day

At some time in the human narrative … in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you.

PS: No night footy at the “G”. Now who said that?

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An election that’s also about our restoring our democracy

There is no greater imperative in Australian society today than the restoration of our democracy. It cannot happen in a year or two. It will take almost a decade.

Labor needs to win the upcoming election by as many seats as to make a second term a certainty. Then it needs to govern in a refreshingly wholesome way that would make a third term attainable.

During this time it should change leader (a woman would be preferable) and declare our democracy stable.

What needs to happen?

After Christopher Pyne’s thoughtless interview with Barrie Cassidy on Insiders Sunday 10 February I could only conclude that he had rather stupidly and hysterically insulted the process by which logical thinking takes place.

He doubled up the following day lamenting the state of our parliament and our democracy.

I agree our democracy is in a bad way, but not for the reasons Pyne outlined. His seemed predicated on a vague sort of bromance. A bromance is a close, emotionally intense, non-sexual bond between two men. In this case Malcolm Turnbull.

The rise of narcissism, inequality, the demise of compassion and the absence of truth illustrates the state of our democracy.

My view is that it is not broken beyond repair but if we are to save it we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should tell the truth. We have to ask ourselves if we have reached the point in politics where truth is something that politicians have persuaded us to believe in, “alternative facts” rather than truth based on factual evidence and solid argument.

Democracies are formed when like-minded people come together to form parties that then compete for the public’s attention within a democratic voting system. The parties have differing political philosophies and can vary throughout the world. We even have democratic dictatorships.

The Australian polity at its best is elastically flexible, unpredictable and at its worst, violent and extremely combative; it accommodates diagonally opposed ideas, extreme or otherwise. All in all, it’s an imperfect beast that has served us well. Yes, it’s a government for the people by the people.

In the absence of anything better, we have a capitalistic economy and a compulsory voting system. The right to vote, imperfect as it is, is the gift that democracy gives and people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual) they support but overriding this is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy, if at the same time they think their party is the only one that should ever win.

Evidence of a democracy in trouble is when a sizeable proportion of the population gives up this gift and says to its politicians “a pox on both your houses.”

Millions withdrew their right to vote in the last election. 15 676 659 are currently registered to vote in the 2019 election, whilst 816 000 estimated eligible Australians aren’t enrolled.

This compares to an estimated 1.22 million in 2013. Many have been added from the vote on same-sex marriage.

Australia’s form of democracy, as robust as it is, has until recently served us well. However, when self-serving “leapt” ahead of “the people” in terms of why people sought to serve in our democracy, it went into decline.

Pinpointing the genesis of this is difficult but it was most definitely in John Howard’s tenure and Tony Abbott made it flourish doing untold damage.

Of course, the repair of our democracy will not come about unless we understand what is happening and why.

The system finds itself in this predicament because our politicians fail to speak with any clarity on issues that concern people. So the people have no sense of any purposeful participation.

Any democracy, including its constitution, should be exposed to periodical revision and renewal. Ours is not.

It should forever be open to regular improvement in its methodology and its implementation. Its constitutional framework should be exposed to, compromise and bi-partisanship when the common good cries out for it.

Logic calls for deeper thought about what influences government and how to restrict these influences be they lobbyists, the media, big business, Unions or secular interests etc.

Led by Howard, and then followed by Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison, Australian democracy experienced a monumental shift in our politics to the right.

This came about when American Tea Party conservative politics insinuated itself on the right of our politics and was adopted by the conservatives and fringe groups like One Nation.

So we have become a top-down hotchpotch democracy that exists to serve only the rich and privileged. One that is self-serving, that believes in unregulated capitalism.

I am not a political scientist, historian or a trained journalist. I write this because the democracy I grew up with has been lost in the longevity of sameness.

Conservatives have gone down the path of inequality with a born to rule mentality that favours the rich.

Still resonating with me is Tim Dunlop’s article from 2014, The right hates the society it has created, in which Tim said:

The whole logic of the “lifters” and “leaners” rhetoric so favored by the current Government is a distillation of the idea of that there is no such thing as society, that we and only we are responsible for our own circumstances”.

“People like Paul Kelly might yearn for a better society, but they miss the fact that the modern woes are a by-product of the neoliberal program they champion.

Might I suggest that the right is given to govern for those who have and the left for those who have not? So this upcoming election is important. Crucially so.

It is not just about the competing forces of left and right. If you think about it politics governs almost everything you do. Well except what you do in bed and some would like to control that.

This election is about the structure of our society, about our democracy, the rules and conventions under which politicians can conduct the affairs of the nation.

About the people eligible to serve. About our constitution and whether it needs a major face-lift. This election offers a choice as to if we should become a republic.

All these things need serious thought and it is incumbent on the young to become involved. After all, they are the future custodians of our great nation.

Our Parliament, its institutions and conventions have all felt the destructive hand of Tony Abbott and others. We don’t trust our politicians anymore. To say that we are ambivalent about our them is an understatement. Now we are ashamed.

Is it any wonder? Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour.

In this election, your vote is not just about left versus right or a swing to independents. It is also about what restoring, repairing or reappraising what we want our democracy to be in the future.

Next time: How to fix it.

My thought for the day

If we are to save our democracy we might begin by asking that at the very least our politicians should tell the truth.

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Their lying has its roots in the gutter

When I was looking through AIM’s list of articles last weekend I noticed that Kaye Lee had already covered a subject that I so desperately wanted to write about.

To hell with it I thought. After watching Angus Taylor being interviewed by Barrie Cassidy on Insiders last Sunday I thought, bugger it. They need as much truth thrown at them as the lies they tell. His was a dreadful performance.

Cassidy threw all the truth that reason warranted at him but his lies contained a sort of political finality about them. Lies that are being told when an internal honesty tells the inner self that the final act of defence has been reached. When defeat looks one in the eye.

An observation

“Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it.” 

The lies so frequently being told by this government are worse than the normal ones couched in innumerable shades of grey.

The lies being told by Morrison, Joyce, Dutton, Hunt, Taylor and others are so repetitive, so blatant, so desperate, that they could only come from men despairing of losing something. In this case power.

These are frightened scared politicians on the cusp of defeat so worried about it that they will not hesitate to place lies before facts, as was the case with Taylor.

Despite Cassidy shooting him down with irrefutable facts that our emissions were going up each year, he continued to talk over him with figures so obviously wrong that you would feel ashamed if your own son or daughter were quoting them.

But of course, he isn’t the only one. The Prime Minister continues to say that we will reach our Paris targets in a canter. He does so in the knowledge that it is untrue. His own department tells him we cannot but he so desperately wants everyone to believe him that he is prepared to toss his faith out the window and lie to us.

Normally a Prime Minister of standing, of reputation would not utter a sentence that implied that under his opposites governance the country would go into recession. Only a very desperate person would stoop so low. Morisson is one such person.

An observation.

“If we are to restore our democracy then the first thing we must do is insist that our politicians should at least tell the truth.”

In her article, Kaye Lee says that:

“For a democracy to function successfully, there must be checks and balances on power.  Government decisions must be transparent and accountable.  The electorate must be told the truth so they can make informed decisions about alternative approaches to address the challenges facing the nation.”

In September 2017 in a piece for The AIMN, I wrote:

“How important is truth in politics? As a writer who happens to love the way words can be constructed to shape a thought, send a message, express love, anger, or convey an action I am lost without them.”

“Without the,m something vanishes from our discourse. Without words, the ability to communicate the seemingly endless aspects of human emotion is taken from us.”

Words, of course, are at their best when they are accompanied by a factual truth of what they want to convey.”

The next great lie likely to be perpetrated on us is when the next budget is announced. The Treasurer will say that it is a surplus budget. But the reality is that we will not know until November 2020 when all of the accounts are finalised if it is or not.

Because their habitual lying prevents them from doing otherwise and despite the figures saying the economy took a dive in the last quarter of 2018 they will tell us that everything is splendid.

It is said that a campaign filled with fear will always beat one filled with hope. History would record that the LNP are the masters of fear.

An observation

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you”

A comment on Facebook this week said:

“Sadly, there are still millions of sheeple who are afraid to move from their entrenched position as LNP followers, believing the constant mantra “we are the better money managers “without even glancing at the turmoil and waste over the past six years. The sheer brutality and corruption is so blatant it is impossible to overlook, yet again, millions do. Poor fellow my country.” 

Tony Abbott is the greatest liar ever to dirty the plush carpets of Parliament House.

Malcolm Turnbull, by walking away from what he believed in is the greatest hypocrite.

Scott Morrison by trying to buy office with lies has betrayed his faith.

Again this week we had the Federal Treasury scolding the Coalition for exaggerating the impact of Labor’s proposed negative gearing overhaul.

The government’s words and actions bring into question the very essence of the word truth. Or they have at least devalued it to the point of obsolescence.

If more people had the capacity to think for themselves and question what they are being told perhaps we would have more genuineness in politics.

If more journalists had the intestinal fortitude to question and syphon out the truth of what politicians are telling them we may get a better body politic. A more honest democracy.

In July 2016 I wrote a piece for The AIMN about fear. In it, I quoted Dr. George Venturini:

“The State lives on fear. Today, it is the fear of ‘terrorists’, which is a manufactured threat, meant to scare people into handing over their rights and dignity to the tricksters in power. “Our twentieth century is the century of fear,” wrote Camus in his article ‘The century of fear’ for Combat, the newspaper that had supported the French Resistance to Nazi occupation during the Second World War. Camus said that fear could be regarded as a developed science.”

The next time you hear or see an interview with an LNP politician consider these methods they use to counter questions or even avoid them – 35 techniques politicians use to avoid answering interview questions.

Keep talking. The more you talk the fewer the questions.

Questioning the question or attack it.

The question is offensive.

Attacking an external group. (The opposition or rival groups) Blame Labor.

Starting an answer but not finishing it (interrupting yourself).

Saying or implying that the question has already been answered.

Lying, misinformation, lying by omission, subliminally implied suggestion, straightforward propaganda, deliberate scare campaigning and any form of untruthful communication has become the norm in the way politicians and the media converse with the public. So normal and long applied has this form of conversation become that we are now unquestioning of it.

This election should tell us if we have woken up to these illegitimate forms of persuasion or are we just plain stupid?

My thought for the day

Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s well-being for the sake of it.

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