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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.

Letters from the Queen’s secretary on a touchy subject

To people of my vintage it seems like yesterday that these events in the history of Australia’s democracy took place.

Those of us who lived through it see it through reflective battle-weary feelings.

An unelected representative of the Queen, the Governor General John Kerr, had dismissed a democratically elected government.

How was he able to do such a thing? Why did Prime Minister Whitlam accept his dismissal with such feebleness of spirit? Why wasn’t he on the phone to the Queen straight away?

Kerr was considered a Labor man. Was his betrayal longer in the making that everyone thought? There are many questions that have never been answered.

Fraser and Whitlam later became good friends. Did the Palace want Whitlam gone?

1975 is but a thought away but it lays heavy on the hearts of those on the left who believe that some sort of palace conspiracy took place.

Well, we won’t have to wait much longer now that the High Court has ruled in favor of historian Jenny Hocking in her bid to secure correspondence between the Queen and former Australian Governor General Sir John Kerr regarding the dismissal of Gough Whitlam:

“The high court on Friday ruled that the commonwealth was wrong to withhold the so-called “palace letters”, a series of more than 200 exchanges between the Queen, her private secretary and Kerr, the then-governor general, in the lead-up to the 1975 dismissal of Whitlam, the then-Australian prime minister.”

It is believed that the exchange consists of some 211 letters Jenny Hocking is calling on the National Archives of Australia to immediately release them.

I expect there might be some last minute quibbles about procedure but the public interest demands little delay.

After all the full history of the greatest political and constitutional crisis in Australia’s history demands the truth; a truth that has never been told.

For me personally it will bring to an end many years of frustrated suspicion that there was more to it that meets the eye. Even a total 211 letters suggests a certain depth of plotting never explained.

Our nation should be forever grateful to Jenny Hocking for the four years of persistence she has shown in obtaining what are critical documents in our history. She writes that:

“To have them closed to us, not even through our own laws or regulations, but because of an embargo by the Queen, that has just been a really terrible situation.”

Hocking in her research had previously found evidence that the Queen was indeed aware of Kerr’s intention to sack Whitlam.

The Queen was in fact fully briefed and involved in the deliberations. She believes the palace letters could reveal what the Queen said and the extent to which she influenced Kerr’s actions.

I still recall the state of shock the nation was in at the time. There existed a state of disbelief that a pompous twit and piss-pot like Kerr could dismiss a man of Whitlam’s stature.

All of it was of course was shrouded in the political machinations of the time. The blocking of supply by Fraser and Whitlam’s mishandling of the economy, which by today’s standards would suggest that the past four Prime Ministers should have been sacked.

For those who had come of age in the 1960s and 70s, Whitlam’s dismissal generated an intense personal anger and became the genesis for the lack of trust now shown for politicians. For those more directly involved it became a life and death confrontation with the principles of what constitutes a democracy and an ambiguous constitution.

As grotesquely as these events came upon us so did they disappear leaving a gaping unsatisfactory hole in the rights or wrongs of the dismissal. I expect the contents of the letters will not be revealed for a couple of weeks but I’m excited by the prospect of some holes being filled. In the meantime, The Conversation’s Anne Twomey gives us a couple of points to ponder:

“[Firstly], the queen never personally engages in correspondence with her governors-general. All correspondence goes through her private secretary, and it is he (as they have always been male) who responds to the governor-general.

[Secondly], in times past, when the governor-general was a member of the British aristocracy or upper classes, there was a “personal” element to this correspondence.”

This changed when Governor Generals were appointed from Australian citizenry.

My thought for the day

Substantial and worthwhile truth often comes with short-term controversy but the pain is worth it for the long-term prosperity of a progressive democracy.

PS: Essential reading – Dr George Venturini’s epic series, Beyond the Palace Letters.

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What a “couldn’t care less” lot we are

What a laconic couldn’t care less lot we are. Even when we get agitated over something we rarely make a ripple on Bondi beach.

The last time I can remember us getting a wee bit pissed about a something of importance was the marriage equality debate when we told the politicians enough unfairness was enough and to just get on with it. Then Turnbull claimed the credit.

It is true, I think, that we have a morbid distrust of seriousness and we are less enamoured by a sense of occasion than others. Although Anzac Day and sport may be the exceptions that generally raise our collective nationalism, but otherwise we remain indifferent in the face of things worthy of protest.

So forgiving of bad governance have we become that we have twice voted back in the governments that have been spectacularly unscrupulous without the blink of an eye. On current reckoning we will even allow them to wreck the planet without the slightest resistance.

Our national character is of loudness, speaking our minds when the situation demands it, so long as it doesn’t interrupt something more important.

Understanding the sovereignty of our Indigenous folk has been a thought for most, too difficult.

We still cling to the monarchy with childlike fascination and a republic is a threat to the celebrity of it.

Domestic violence is a crying shame but like many other things we sit quietly and say little. The same can be said of our underlying racism.

Suicide, the scale of it, explains the utter hopelessness we have created with our vision of what life and society is.

Men, those younger than I, seem to be narcissistic unfeeling creatures who derive pleasure from what life can give them rather than what virtues their maleness can give the world.

The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of the world.

Rightly or wrongly religion is dying. We are replacing it with the worship of celebrity. The young, in particular, adore people of the most mediocre endowment as if they were gods to be deified. Royalty, sports and television stars fill this category.

Our politics is confrontational, even ugly, and in the last 20 years or so has done its best to uphold our larrikin anti-authoritarian nature.

We exercise our involvement in our democracy every three years by voting. After that the vast majority takes very little interest. Why is it so?

In trying to describe what ‘Australian culture’ is we are confronted with the contradiction of an incredible culturally diverse nation. Our immigrants come from all over the world with one in four Australian residents being born outside of Australia.

Few understand the rich cultural diversity immigration has given us because politicians of the ilk of Tony Abbott have taught them the political value of hatred.

We have not yet grown into, or obtained the truth, that people are just trying to find a place in the world where they can be secure and loved. Our reputation around the world, perpetuated by the likes of Peter Dutton on immigration, is pitiful.

I guess that what I am trying to say here is that Government is responsible for all the laws made at a national level, state government at a state level and local councils at a community level. That’s three levels of government for 25 million people.

As a result of the political malaise we find ourselves in the government has been unable to govern to a standard befitting the needs of this nation. Its first problem is it’s standard of leadership. The second its quality of representation where one wonders how many MPs got past pre-selection n the first place. The third, of course, is that economic decisions have human consequences. That economics and society are  interwoven.

Character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of a life, governing moral choices and infusing personal and professional conduct. It’s an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of politics. But unexpected moments can sometimes reveal the fibres from which it is woven.

Examples of the government’s inability to govern arise every day. Last week we had an almost total breakdown in diplomacy with China.

China is an emerging power while the US under President Trump is vacating its once held position as leader of the free world.

China is speaking to the world in its own language and we are failing to comprehend.

We should remember that China, in rescuing millions of its people from poverty in 30 years or so has performed a miracle of sorts. To my knowledge it has never started a war but is now saying that it won’t be pushed around by the likes of Trump and Morrison.

Our government, instead of using words of understanding to China, seems intent on climbing aboard Trump’s hateful bandwagon. The leader of China is at least sane whereas the leader of the USA should be encouraged to get in as much golf as possible.

This is not to say that they are right in their actions. They are not. We are in a new phase of our relationship with China.

It says that it is incumbent on us to choose our words more carefully or pay the consequences.

The more we say the less the better about Chinese diplomacy.

After 19 attempts to arrive at an energy policy our government has reverted to old technologies to resolve this issue.

Even in the face of calamity it cannot bring itself to admit it was and is still wrong on climate change. Christiana Figueres – considered the world’s top climate change negotiator – commented that:

“I am deeply pained by the attitude of the current Australian government: that still after the worst disaster that has ever hit the planet, the bushfires in Australia, that this government is still denying climate change and denying the fact that there is a lot that Australia can and should be doing.”

Another display of incompetence occurred last week and remains a bone of contention: How on earth was the error of Job Keeper/Seeker not picked up earlier? It seems incomprehensible and a better explanation is required.

We now end up with the following:

  • On Job-Keeper the PM announced a spend of $138 but is actually spending $70b.
  • On the drought fund the PM announced $7b but is spending $2b. On the Bush Fire fund it is $2b with the actual at $250 mil.

The government has become accustomed to making announcements without putting in the hard yards of meticulous planning. I expected Morrison’s speech on Tuesday May 26 to be much the same – and I was correct – but I hope he is successful for the sake of the common good of the nation. Having said that, I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

My thought for the day

People need to wake up to the fact that government affects every part of their life and should be more interested. But there is a political malaise that is deep seated.


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We are being conned if we believe the government

In my recent article I concluded with:

Confronted with the fact that no one wants to invest in coal, what do you do? One is you set up an inquiry, stack it with lovers of the clean black stuff, and call it the ”King review.”

The idea is to grab some cash from the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, as well as Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

In their findings you have the inquiry recommend that the funds be opened up to provide funding to heavy emitters and fossil fuel projects.

Not a bad plan. After all, it wasn’t the intention to use the funds in this way.

They are not just environmental vandals but straight out corrupt con merchants. Angus Taylor makes a good crook, it would seem. Or at least he knows how to get away with things.

I wanted to expand a little on the subject of this con job. You see there was a time when Australians didn’t like being conned.

“Don’t listen to him, he’s a con artist,” my folks would say.

I can vividly remember that phrase. As a teenager we seemed to apply it to everything. We sort of instantly knew when someone was bullshitting.

Now it seems we have lost that instinct and are now a gullible lot ready to believe whomever and whatever we are told.

If you didn’t read pertinent articles in The Guardian, The Age (paywall) or News24 you wouldn’t have a clue as to what the Coalition is doing. You might if you watch Sky After Dark and wanted a warped version of the truth.

After committing the worst possible domestic violence on our part of the planet, the Coalition decided to have a review of their existing madness, with men who in part created the environmental vandalism and go back to the past and use discredited technology.

Having spent a decade proving their incompetence these same idiot politicians now speak of the virtues of gas as being some sort of gentle nurse to the raped victim.

As Katherine Murphy wrote in The Guardian:

“Politicians and their advisers used to talk up the virtues of gas as a transitional fuel, and they used to talk about carbon capture and storage (CCS) as technology that governments needed to invest in to drive the transition to low-emissions economies.

The great botch-up is now well past infancy, and Australia’s record on climate and energy is a disaster so profound it’s still traumatising backstage protagonists years after the stadium rock wreckers have left” the crime scene.”

We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.

Allow me to bring you up to date. The Coalition is proposing that after appointing a committee headed by former Fortescue boss Nev Power and others of the same persuasion, who in turn have probably been instructed on what to conclude; propose to spend heaps of your money on a gas-fired revival of manufacturing.

Conning the Australian people is really that simple. They do it all the time and people don’t care or don’t know. Paddy Manning in The Monthly reported that:

“Environment groups reacted with alarm, and independent Warringah MP Zali Steggall has called on the federal government to bring industry groups together to canvass their views on stimulus measures, arguing that the COVID-19 commission’s decision-making processes lacked transparency

Manning reported that:

Shadow climate and energy minister Mark Butler welcomed the roadmap’s step away from coal, but described the document as the Coalition’s 19th energy policy – and one that was light on details. “Minister Taylor has pulled a hamstring making sure that his anti-renewable colleagues know that expensive new coal is still in the mix, while also tipping his hat to expensive and dangerous nuclear power,” said Butler.

“… shadow resources minister Joel Fitzgibbon told Sky News, the roadmap appears to imply that CCS could keep the ever-contentious Liddell power station operating in his Hunter Valley electorate. “It’s just ludicrous to suggest that you can retrofit any carbon capture and storage system to a more-than-50-year-old coal-fired generator,” Fitzgibbon said.”

Once again a political donations-focused government seems determined to do nothing about climate change.

Absent is a price on carbon and nothing about a new regulatory strategy and there isn’t any room for a sizeable public investment.

And God help us! Talk about going back to the past. It even talks about big role for carbon capture and storage. You know, that technology that was going to change the future and give us clean coal.

Goodness knows how many millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on this obscenely expensive yet failed technology over the past 10 years.

The Prime Minister made a proper clown of himself in his handling of the summer fires, and the punters told him so.

During the coronavirus pandemic he made up a lot of ground. However, with climate change he finds himself, on the one hand, between his job, party donations, the backbench, the cabinet, and a squillion-dollar fossil-fuel industry that has he and his government by the short and curlies, and on the other hand what is best for the planet and its people.

It is not as though the government is without options. If it had the intestinal fortitude it could use a COVID-19 recovery that would drive full-time sustainable jobs and growth on the back of a low-emissions transition that would last 50 years or more.

The other option is to use the recovery to continue with fossil fuels and pretend (lie your way through it) that in a time of great uncertainty you had a moment of gas led fossil fuel enlightenment. Jobs versus the environment.

History tells me they will take option two.

My thought for the day.

In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today.

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Nothing to show

Nothing to show: A year in power … Nothing to show. Two years as PM in August … Nothing to show. Three terms in office … Nothing to show.

Monday, May 18 marked the anniversary of the Morrison government’s election win, and Scott Morrison is fast approaching two years as serving as Prime Minister. In addition, the LNP will be on their way to concluding three terms of governance.

So how has this period advanced Australia as a nation? Well, the simple answer is it hasn’t. Are we likely to see from Morrison any bold ideas that will inspire us to be better than we are? Conversely, what did Abbott and Turnbull achieve? Turnbull claims marriage equality but I put that down to social protests.

What has Morrison done in his two years at the helm that would get you excited? It is fair to say that at present he is confronted with a pandemic and is being applauded for his efforts. Rightly so, but all he has done is to follow the advice of science and the experts. Not hard.

When Labor was confronted with a similar economic problem (the GFC) to what the coronavirus is doing, Morrison as much as denied the GFC’s existence.

Turnbull, in his book, describes Morrison as a pragmatic professional politician with a plan for winning but not for governing.

1 You have to wonder if he is a man for the times. One not of necessity a brilliant intellectual, but a man who could see what lay ahead for the next 5, 10 or 20 years and could drag from those around him the ideas and willpower to get us there. A man like Anthony Albanese has those qualities.

But instead we have a government that doesn’t want parliament to sit because it is paranoid that someone from the opposition might throw a curved ball at them. Nobody knows.

Not even our most senior public servant knows. Paul Gaetjens had to take some fairly basic questions on notice at Senate hearings on COVID-19 last week. Take these for example:

“Do the decisions of the national cabinet have to be ratified by the full cabinet? Do they bind the states and territories? How, exactly, is it different to the Council of Australian Governments? Are all of its workings covered by cabinet confidentiality?”

Just as suss is this mysterious committee known as the NCCC or National COVID-19 Coordination Commission to be headed by the Prime Minister’s mate’ Nev Power, who was a former head of Fortescue and is to be paid the princely sum of $267,345 for doing 6 months work which is yet to be defined.

However his chief executive, Peter Harris AO (a former chairman of the Productivity Commission), padded up at the Senate and admitted that the NCCC’s processes were somewhat “opaque.”

Opacity is a word that best describes the government’s attitude toward accountability. Hardly transparent at all.

The NCCC has no commissioners with expertise on clean energy but an abundance of folk with ties to fossil fuels that are set to push for a gas-fired recovery, as the ABC has reported.

2 The Trade Minister’s counterpart in China won’t return his calls because we are saying silly undiplomatic things about them. We have been playing “deputy sheriff” for the US for so long other nations resent it.

China has now slapped an 80% tariff on our barley to remind us that diplomacy is – sometimes best done in-house rather than shouting in the streets.

3 The Prime Minister’s self serving indignation over the Sports Rorts Affair and Angus Taylor’s self-indulgent incriminations are making the government look pathetic in terms of parliamentary obligations and standards.

The inquiry into the rorts prior to the election tells us that the prime minister’s office asked Bridget McKenzie to seek Scott Morrison’s “authority” for intended recipients of $100m of sports grants and coordinate the announcement with Coalition campaign headquarters.

The Australian National Audit Office to the Senate inquiry gives evidence that contradicts Morrison’s claims that McKenzie, the former sports minister, was the ultimate decision-maker.

It also confirms that changes for the grant program were not made after parliament was dissolved.

On 27 February, Morrison told the House of Representatives that “there was no authorisation provided by me as prime minister on the projects”.

This article by Paul Karp in The Guardian gives a thorough account of the sequence of events and it would be difficult not to conclude that the Prime Minister has certainly mislead the Parliament and should resign.

He won’t of course because integrity has gone out of fashion.

There still remains of course the question as to the grants constitutional validity.

But then it would seem that no one resigns for misleading parliament anymore. It’s just another example of the declining standards of political integrity in this country.

4  Is our government treating students who would make an enormous contribution to our Universities and our economy fairly? Why are they standing in food lines?

5 What is the real figure of our unemployed and underemployed?

Employment, underemployment and unemployment will be a problem for years to come and trying to spin the figures as they have been doing for some time will only make matters worse. The million the government says they have created only ever kept up with immigration and didn’t create any “new” jobs.

There will be no snapback as Morrison predicts. One reason being that it is not known how many jobs will be lost from companies that just go broke for any number of reasons.

Paddy Manning writes in The Monthly 15 May says:

“The official employment figures show that a staggering 2.7 million people (one in five working Australians) either left employment between March and April or had their hours reduced. The participation rate – people working or looking for work – fell back to the level it was at before the China boom took off in 2004, with half a million people giving up job seeking altogether.”

Brendan O’Connor, Labor’s shadow Employment Minister responded to the ABS figures, saying they were a picture of the economy a month ago, and would get worse.

Labor called on the government to expand the JobKeeper programme to include others (such as casuals) but the suggestion seems to have fallen on deaf ears of conservative ideology.

We can expect the job figures to become increasingly worse in the months to come.

The Prime Minister says he wants a business-led recovery but a recovery by any means might be a better idea.

6 Some businesses wont even comeback let alone snapback. The Prime Minister has yet to lay before the Australian people a plan to take us forward, to take the opportunity of creating new economics that

7 I have no doubt that the government will use COVID-19 as an excuse for doing nothing on climate change. “It will have to wait,” will be the spin.

Monday night’s ABC Four Corners revealed in chronological order the blameworthiness of our politicians on this most serious of matters.

Take these quotes for example from The Guardian’s report on the program:

“Ken Henry, the Treasury secretary between 2001 and 2011, said the question the government should be asking itself on climate was how to put a cap, or limit, on national emissions at least cost to the country.

“The answer to that question – and everybody will tell this – is an emissions trading scheme,” he said.

Martin Parkinson, a former secretary of Treasury and the now defunct climate change department, said it was incorrect to categorise carbon pricing as being “about taxing people”.

“The carbon price is actually about creating the right sort of incentives to develop the technology and then use it,” he said.

On national climate policy, Parkinson said: “What climate policy? I mean it’s basically … it’s a mess. It’s incoherent and has been for a decade.”

Peter Shergold, the head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet in the final years of the Howard government, was asked what he would say to the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, if he held that position now.

He said he would tell him: “My sense, prime minister, is that there is a mood to follow such leadership if it exists. Tell it honestly, and tell it truthfully, and don’t try and pretend there are not going to be costs imposed on industry and costs imposed on individuals, but it is worth that for the sake of your children and your grandchildren.”

Now you would think that these fellows would know a bit about the problems of climate change and how to address it, but our friend Angus and the Prime Minister seem to know more.

Confronted with the fact that no one wants to invest in coal, what do you do? One is you set up an inquiry, stack it with lovers of the clean black stuff, and call it the ”King review.”

The idea is to grab some cash from the $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, as well as Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) and the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

In their findings you have the inquiry recommend that the funds be opened up to provide funding to heavy emitters and fossil fuel projects.

Not a bad plan. After all, it wasn’t the intention to use the funds in this way.

They are not just environmental vandals but straight out corrupt politicians. Angus Taylor makes a good crook, it would seem.

You should read this. It is absolutely scandalous.

To answer the implied meaning of my headline I simply say that this Prime Minister and his Ministers are so ineffectual that they are incapable of fixing anything, let alone guide us into the future.

We all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health. Why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet.

My thought for the day

At the last G7 conference the Prime Minister described himself as a “conservationist.” In Australia we know that all the evidence suggests he is an environmental vandal.

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Alan Jones: A rat from the feral right

People like Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and Andrew Bolt worked out long ago that there is money in hate-filled rants.

They are the peddlers of verbal violence and dishonesty and the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy.

With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers such as these seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.

It says something about the moral sickness of a supposed enlightened society when people like Jones and Bolt et al – members of the exclusive Rats of the Feral Right Club – want the right to abuse each other, in the name of free speech, enshrined in law.

To make big money in NSW talk back radio one has to be more outlandish, more tantalising, more seductive, more flirtatious, more provocative, more outrageous and more offensive than your opponent and have a desire to maintain a brutal dominance.

That’s exactly what Jones has done for 35 years. He would not have survived in Melbourne. We are not easy victims of filth.

Bolt can only maintain a small television audience and without The Herald Sun and his syndications he would be little known. Jones has also been a flop in the medium of TV.

I often speculate about how much better a society we would be if people took the risk of thinking for themselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the Murdoch media and its money for outlandish comment spewing from the mouths of men like Jones.

All they do is politically prostitute themselves in the forlorn hope of being relevant.

Let’s have a brief look at some of Jones’ history.

Thirteen years ago the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found that the broadcaster 2GB and Jones had broadcast material (specifically comments made by Jones between 5–9 December 2005) that were “likely to encourage violence or brutality and to vilify people of Lebanese and Middle-Eastern backgrounds on the basis of ethnicity.” They were talking about the Cronulla riots.

Yet our Prime Minister said this of him:

“You’ve always spoken your mind to everyone, including me, and we’ve had one or two disagreements, but you’ve always done the right thing for your country.”

To hear our leaders from the Prime Minister down give such effusive praise to a man so divisive that he would set Australian against Australian – and not give it a second thought – was sickening.

Later, Jones was “convicted of breaching the Children’s (Criminal Proceedings) Act 1987 (NSW), by broadcasting the suppressed name of a juvenile witness in a murder trial.”

It didn’t stop Tony Abbott from gushingly tweeting this when learning of Jones’ retirement from radio:


We continue …

In 1998, Jones claimed on-air that rugby league referee Bill Harrigan was biased. Harrigan sued Jones for defamation and, in 2001, was awarded damages of $90,000.

Yet Nine chairman Peter Costello said Jones had a “unique” place in Australian media.

He is guilty of lying about climate change “…human beings produce 0.001 per cent of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,” he said.

Yet according to advertising guru John Singleton, Alan Jones is the “best broadcaster in the world.”

He has retired suitably, on another lie, perhaps? That being that ill health has forced him out. The truth is that his advertisers had had enough. They deserted him in there droves. The SMH reported that after:

“He was forced to apologise after telling a Sydney Young Liberal fundraiser in 2012 that Ms Gillard’s father “died of shame”, commentary which caused the broadcaster to temporarily suspend advertising after more than 70 companies walked away from the breakfast show.

A jacket made from chaff bags and signed by Mr Jones was also auctioned at the event. Mr Jones had previously said on air that Ms Gillard should be “put into a chaff bag and thrown into the sea.”

Then there were the comments made by Jones about New Zealand’s Prime Minister Ms Ardern last year when he said that Prime Minister Scott Morrison should “shove a sock down her throat” following Ms Ardern’s warning at a Pacific Islands Forum in Tuvalu that Australia “will have to answer to the Pacific” on climate change.

And let’s not forget his aggressive treatment of Opera House chief executive Louise Herron telling her she should resign.

A fair dose of misogyny, I should think.

He lied about the Grantham floods. In doing so he defamed many ordinary people especially members of the Queensland-based Wagner family. They received 2.7 million in damages.

He has the dubious record of having had more complaints upheld by the communications watchdog than any other radio presenter. He has had to make more apologies for his lying and insults than John Farnham has made comebacks. Each time his audience has increased.

He leaves a litany of lying as long as Tony Abbott’s.

It includes lying about the NBN roll out and police blockading truckies during his infamous and failed Convoy of No Confidence in 2011.

Other than the 35 years he has spent in radio he has been a teacher where his apparent liking for teenage boys has been well-documented, as has the notorious moment in a London toilet.

He has been a speechwriter for Malcolm Fraser, a political candidate and coach of the Australian national rugby team for which he was awarded an Order of Australia in 1988.

Also well documented was the cash for comment revelation in 1999 that he sold his opinions for millions. He should have been sacked on the spot. But he was protected by those that he made millions for and by an audience with short memories

But what is it that occupies the minds of men that they need be so malevolent in their thinking? That the power of persuasion with reasoned thought and debate no longer suffices.

What is it in the backgrounds of people that causes their narcissism and their inability to accommodate difference or equality?

Is it the sins of the fathers that invite their racism? In the media, is it loyalty to the despot?

Why is it that the megalomaniac Alan Jones with his vile gutter speech attracts a huge listing audience?

Why is there this preponderance of right-wing attitude? This alignment to neo-conservatism and nationalism? Why have we allowed ourselves to be saturated by extremism? Why do those who feel unrepresented and unheard think their problems will be reconciled by the likes of Jones?

Perhaps the answer can be found in materialism. Or in an entitlement society. Maybe it’s those elements of Christianity who believe in a gospel of wealth.

Perhaps the deliberate assassination by the political and religious right of science has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the death of truth, as we know it. Jones, after all,  thought climate change was a hoax.

Maybe it’s the preponderance of right-wing propaganda in our media. There are, to my knowledge, no left wing shock jocks. Whatever it is why are they so feral about it? Well I’ll have a bit of a stab.

With the media I believe it is the threat of annihilation and in turn, profit. Social media and the advent of bloggers are now threatening their power and influence.

But the mystery to me is why the middle and the deprived classes of society think their lot will be improved by listening to the vile thoughts of Alan Jones.

I’ll leave this with you. Do watch:

My thought for the day

The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.

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Please, won’t you just say it as it is?

President Trump is giving his daily press conference and on a split screen a man constantly interrupts to point out his lies, his misrepresentations, his illogicality and his perversions.

As is my custom I write early in the morning because in the silence my mind is at its most receptive. This morning however, before I begin I find myself in need of some think time.

“What to write about?” I ask myself. “Do I just continue on voicing my views at the injustices of the world or could I take another path? Why not reinforce your views with those of others. Just freelance and let your mind go where it will. You can always scrap it if turns out crap.”

I accept the challenge and my mind is directed to my “to read” folder where I have forgotten the purpose of putting things there, but whatever the purpose, it must have been important at the time.

1 So my mouse finds its way into my “to read” bin and like a lucky dip the first piece it comes up with is by former US Secretary of Labour in the Clinton administration; Robert Reich. A man short in stature but big in logic, truth and analysis. In this piece he is talking about his least favourite politician, the President of the USA.

I find myself married to his opinions. He is relentless in his attacks on Trump.

2 Trump has claimed that Obama left behind “bad, broken tests” … for a virus that didn’t yet exist.

The Huffington Post also quoted the President saying:

“I feel about vaccines like I feel about tests: this is going to go away without a vaccine.

“Eventually it’s going to go away. The question is will we need a vaccine?”

It is time that those with the capacity to change laws that might prevent the mass murder of people and refuse to do so were made to account. After all they are as guilty or as mad, whatever the case, as the perpetrator himself.

3 To follow that up, the Huffington Post reported that President Trump abruptly ended his coronavirus press briefing on Monday 11 May after getting visibly angry with two female reporters, one of obvious Asian appearance. This brought out the racism in Trump.

4 With Trump and his Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo saying anything and everything to blame China for a laboratory origin for the coronavirus I came across this piece (“The Discussion Is Basically Over”: Why Scientists Believe the Wuhan-Lab Coronavirus Origin Theory Is Highly Unlikely) by Joe Pompeo in Vanity Fair. Of Trump’s reasoning he says it “makes for great propaganda – but uses dubious science.” It’s a great read.

I am convinced conservatives believe that the effect of lying diminishes over time and forget that they leave behind a residue of broken trust.

5 In this piece by Paddy Manning in The Monthly, Manning accuses the government of using the pandemic to target old foes:

“We’re well past the stage where any of this could be excused as an oversight, an unintended consequence of the rushed pandemic response. By now it’s obvious: this is a deliberate strategy. Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the rest of the Coalition’s culture warriors are not wasting this crisis, that’s for sure.“

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

6 No, I’m not yet finished with COVID-19.

According to Rod Myer of The New Daily it is ripping a great hole in the finances of News Corp with a $1.5b loss for the March quarter.

So much so that the media giant has called in consultants to its Australian operations to advise on how it can shrink costs and jobs.

“The move, reported in Nine Newspapers, comes after Rupert Murdoch’s flagship called out a poor performance in its Australian operations since July.

“Stories published on Google and Facebook in turn drive a lot of readers back to companies like News and Nine,” says [media analyst Peter] Cox

“If those visits are cut, then I assume advertising revenues would fall because advertising revenue depends on the level of traffic on media sites.”

7 Former LNP Opposition Leader John Hewson wrote an exceptional piece for The Guardian titled “Coronavirus is a dress rehearsal for what awaits us if governments continue to ignore science.” Hewson warns that:

“The coronavirus pandemic should be seen as a dress rehearsal for what awaits us if we continue to ignore the laws of science, the physical world and the demands of several catastrophic threats such as climate change.”

Instead of being proactive we tend to wait for disaster. Even in politics.

8 Former US President, Barack Obama always lowers my political blood pressure. His quiet calm dignity, appearance and reasonableness of argument are qualities of leadership that you would want leaders and especially politicians to have. This piece by the ABC’s North American correspondent James Glenday speaks of the Obama’s critique of Trump’s mis-handling of the coronavirus crisis:

“Former US president Barack Obama has attacked the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, describing it as an “absolute chaotic disaster.”

Mr Obama added that the pandemic would have been difficult for any administration but the Trump White House had approached it with a “what’s in it for me?” attitude.

What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy — that has become a stronger impulse in American life.”

The rise of narcissism and inequality and the demise of compassion illustrate the state of the world.

In the interests of length I have omitted Angus Taylor’s alleged Cayman Island company, Peter Dutton failing to register one of his companies, and George Christensen summoning the Chinese Ambassador before a Senate Committee.

My thought for the day

“1500 – That’s the forecasted number of extra deaths by suicide per year over the next five years as a result of the economic and social impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, according to modelling by Sydney University’s Brain and Mind Centre” (via The Monthly).

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Turnbull: Just the man to tell all (part 2)

I always had a soft spot for Malcolm Turnbull. The early pages of his memoirs outline the many occupations he experienced as a young man and the remarkable dexterity he showed in performing them.

But Prime Minister is what he wanted to be and that’s what he achieved. There are many who would say, and they would be right in doing so, that he was out of his depth.

They point out his unpopularity in his party and his failure with the NBN. That he failed to live up to his potential.

In all fairness, it has to be said that had he been allowed his way with policy he may have made a success of it.

But that wasn’t to be. Instead, he was made to sign an agreement that saw his leadership at the mercy of the ratbag fringe of the LNP. The so-called conservative extremists who eventually got rid of him so as to have their own way.

Many others and I called him a hypocrite in not being able to legislate policies such as. climate change and on a national energy policy. Policies that were joined to his hip, so to speak.

That the likes of Scott Morrison, Barnaby Joyce and other like-minded dunderheads defeated the prodigious intellect of Malcolm Turnbull  showed how out of touch with reality the LNP are.

But this post has more to do with Turnbull,s opinion of the man who ousted him than Turnbull himself.

Katherine Murphy, a consummate journalist for The Guardian, in a preview of Turnbull’s book gives an exhilarating insight into the – what can only be called devious – workings of Prime Minister Morrison. She writes that:

“Turnbull says his first encounter with Scott Morrison happened in 2001, when the then-businessman was mulling options to enter politics and Morrison was the state director of the Liberal party.”

As the story goes Morrison wanted Turnbull to be the Premier of NSW and “had hatched an ingenious” plan to implement it.

Turnbull, however, wasn’t interested and I could imagine he felt it was beneath a man seeking the big prize.

It seems to me that Morrison is always central to the machinations of the party, always in the scrum directing the moves, and always with a long-term objective.

He plays his politics in the shadows just behind the play ready for any eventuality.

Murphy continues:

“Turnbull portrays the current prime minister as always ringside, either in person or through surrogates, during the corrosive leadership battles that erupted shortly after the Coalition came to power in 2013. Turnbull says Morrison began to “sniff out interest in removing Abbott” as early as 2014, only a year after the Coalition’s election victory, when the majority of colleagues were not countenancing a change.

There was talk of moving Turnbull to Treasury to replace Joe Hockey after the disaster of the 2014 budget. “I was careful to play no part in this. Abbott would never move me to treasurer,” Turnbull says. “And I felt I was being used as a stalking horse by others, especially Scott Morrison, to position themselves.”

When one watches individual politicians over a long period of time a profile emerges. In this case the one of Morrison is incomplete but it can be seen that he is conspiratorial type with great cunning.

At this point I’m trying to condense Murphy’s words but the scheming of Morrison is getting the better of me.

Let’s move on.

According to Murphy Turnbull says the “agitation persisted,” and on “10 December he had dinner with Morrison, who wanted to replace Abbott as party leader.”

“It was the first time he laid out, fairly comprehensively, his thinking on Abbott, who he felt would have to go by the middle of 2015 if his performance didn’t improve. He said Hockey should go now and he was making the case to Abbott to replace him with me.

He was closely in touch with the key figures at News [Corp], he told me, and said they were getting ready to dump Abbott. And he made it clear he saw himself as the successor.

After reshuffle at the end of the year and Abbott moved Morrison out of Immigration and into Social Services, Turnbull said that Morrison was “furious” and “this was the first time I recall him saying we will need to remove him before the budget”.

Morrison, according to Turnbull, garnered a cohort of MPs who would readily get rid of Abbott from the leadership.  It was obvious that Morrison wanted the job, “but didn’t want to be seen to challenge him.”

According to Morrison, the shock jocks wouldn’t support him (by whom he meant Alan Jones and Ray Hadley). Morrison also, according to Turnbull, wanted to sideline Julie Bishop, but later changed his mind, and they agreed that Turnbull would be the leader in the event that Abbott got the flick.

Turnbull noted:

“Morrison was vocal in his support for Abbott and publicly denied discussing leadership issues with me. Of course, he’d done so on many occasions, and every indication was that he’d encouraged, if not masterminded, the [first] spill itself.”

If Turnbull is correct you can see the succession and opportunistic planning in Morrison’s mind. The dice were beginning to roll for his own benefit.

Back to Katherine Murphy:

“Turnbull’s ire is directly predominantly at Mathias Cormann and Peter Dutton for the coup that terminated his prime ministership in 2018 but he concludes after some equivocation (“it’s never possible to be 100% certain about these things”) that Morrison “was playing a double game: professing public loyalty to me while at the same time allowing his supporters to undermine me.

It was, of course, precisely what he’d done in 2015 when he said he’d voted for Abbott in the leadership ballot but worked closely with me to ensure his supporters voted against Abbott.”

You might describe Morrison as a cunning rat, loyal and disloyal depending on the need.

Murphy continues:

“Turnbull says he knew on the morning he spilled the leadership, “while I was prepared to accept Morrison’s assurances of continued loyalty, I knew that some of his supporters were starting to urge him to make a move himself”. He says he was aware of the risks of tactical voting by Morrison supporters in the first ballot. Turnbull says Morrison sent him a note while the ballots were being distributed.

The note said: ‘I don’t know why we didn’t discuss this. But that’s your call.

Turnbull is on my ballot.’ I replied, ‘Thanks! It’s the right call. The room has to make up its mind.’”

When the result was 48 votes for Turnbull and 35 for Dutton, “I wondered whether some of Morrison’s supporters had taken the chance and voted for Dutton, hoping they didn’t accidentally deliver him a win.

Subsequent accounts of these events indicate that Stuart Robert and Alex Hawke had organised about half-a-dozen of them to vote for Dutton – enough to lift his numbers up to a level that damaged me but didn’t get Dutton over the line. If Morrison’s friends had voted the way he said he did, the Dutton insurgency would have been utterly dead that morning.

The idea that they did that without his knowledge is fanciful. Scott is a control freak and I’d seen before in the ballots in 2015 how he’d publicly vote one way while ensuring his supporters voted the other way.

When it was clear he had no prospects of retaining the prime ministership, Turnbull actively encouraged Morrison’s campaign.

Turnbull says he lined up behind Morrison because he believed he was “a responsible, safe pair of hands. But Dutton, were he to become prime minister, would run off to the right with a divisive, dog-whistling, anti-immigration agenda, written and directed by Sky News and 2GB, designed to throw red meat to the base.

With no constraints, Dutton would do enormous damage to the social fabric of Australia. It’s one thing having the tough cop handling border protection and counter-terrorism, but not at the head of our multicultural society”.

Turnbull also records the messages he exchanged with his successor after Morrison was sworn in.

“I messaged him,” Turnbull says, “Congratulations prime minister and good luck.” According to Turnbull, Morrison replied the next morning. “Only you can know how I feel today, but I cannot begin to know how you feel.

I loved working for and with you. I’m really proud of what we did. And that is always how I will always feel and speak of it. I want you to know I am thinking about you a great deal and you know I pray for you.

That doesn’t change now. I don’t know why all this happened, but now it has come upon me, you know I will be relying on my faith, friends and values to overcome and conquer what is ahead …

Thank you for all you’ve done for me. But above all as one PM to another, thank you for everything you did for our country. No one knows that contribution better than me.

“Love you, mate.”

All we can do is gather the evidence, sort out the fact from the fiction and come to a decision. For my part, I have the added benefit of about 65 years of an up front close observation of politics that allows one to see through the lies, the bullshit and the intended airbrushing of it all.

I make two points. On the one hand Morrison mentions in his note to Turnbull, “all that we have achieved together.” I’m lost as to what he is referring to because in 7 years they have achieved nothing,

On the other hand I used to think that the Americans were the only race on earth that believed their own bullshit. Now I know that Australian politicians do also.

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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Turnbull: Just the man to tell all (part 1)

My association with the man Malcolm Turnbull began in 1999. It was the year that Australia attempted to become a republic.

I was an area leader in this effort to become a country of the future and not the past. Twenty and a bit years on I remember the time for Turnbulls leadership, John Howard’s lack of it, and Tony Abbott’s unpleasantness in his defense of the monarchy.

I confess to a tear or two when I read Turnbull’s post-republican book “Fighting for the Republic.” It was an extraordinarily and rank memoir of the convention and the egos, idealists and opportunists who took part.

Turnbull said John Howard “broke this nation’s heart” over the Republic referendum. He was, without doubt, correct.

I mention this because I’m only 71 pages into his autobiography (ibook version) and my expectation is that it will be filled with many such descriptions of colleagues and of the times.

As my reading progresses I intend to feed readers of The AIM with snippets of Turnbull’s versions of events and the personalities that were placed in the centre of them.

Turnbull would frequently appear on Q&A and other programs and spoke of freedom of the press as though he really meant it. Unlike many of his conservative colleagues.

But before then I want to comment on a couple of things already published in the fourth estate. I refer to two articles that give some credence to a picture of Turnbull as a man of democratic principles, and one who saw them as first and foremost in a democracy.

The first article – by The Guardian’s editor Lenore Taylor – tells the story of how the left-leaning online newspaper got started in Australia and Malcolm Turnbulls involvement.

Those on the Left may find themselves puzzled, even bemused by the fact that it was largely by way of Turnbull’s suggestion that the Australian version of The Guardian came into being.

Why would he do such a thing if he were a true blue conservative hell bent on seeing that the Left got as little exposure as possible?

Taylor reports that in his memoir Turnbull writes that:

“I was beginning to despair about the state of Australian journalism,”

“I wasn’t especially concerned about the political slant of one outlet or another, but more about the fact that newsrooms were shrinking and editorial standards were dropping to the loopy standards of the twittersphere. Gina Rinehart was threatening to buy Fairfax – no doubt so that its newspapers could emulate her own ultra-rightwing views.

“In June 2012, I suggested to Alan Rusbridger, editor of the UK’s Guardian, that he should establish an Australian edition. For a modest cost, he could start a digital-only edition. That would provide a good base from which to build. Alan was interested. We exchanged some rough numbers and he concluded he’d need $20m of underwriting for three years – if it couldn’t get to break-even in that time, it never would.

“Given my political role, I could hardly participate myself, but I thought I knew someone who would. Graeme Wood had made hundreds of millions of dollars from an online travel booking business called Wotif. He was on the political left and had been generous in the past to the Greens. He’d also recently funded a progressive free online newspaper called the Global Mail. It wasn’t going to make it. So, I suggested to Graeme he drop the Global Mail and instead use his fortune to bankroll an Australian edition of the Guardian.

“Its progressive politics suited him plus it was one of the greatest newspapers in the English language, nearly 200 years old and, unusually, wasn’t controlled by any media mogul but rather an independent trust dedicated to ‘quality, independent liberal journalism’.

“Once Graeme Wood was on board, I introduced Rusbridger to two seasoned Canberra political writers, Lenore Taylor and Katharine Murphy (AKA murpharoo). He sent his deputy, Kath Viner, to Australia to be the first editor. The (digital) paper-exceeded expectations broke even after a few years and Wood got all his money back. Clearly, my deal-making skills remained intact.”

Lenore Taylor concludes that particular story with this:

“Turnbull’s recollection skips over a long and complicated process that followed those initial introductions, after which Turnbull had no further involvement as far as I know.”

Perhaps Turnbull’s memoir will enlighten me further but until then I shall remain unconvinced as to the true state of his political philosophy.

However, we can thank Malcolm Turnbull for ridding his party, and the nation, of the combatant pugilist Abbott.

He was, for a time, rewarded for his effort with election winning polls and a personal popularity rating the envy of any celebrity.

Initially with charismatic personality, he seduced and beguiled his way into the hearts of those who wanted nothing more than to see the back of Abbott and some who didn’t.

The punters welcomed his sense of reason, fairness, discretion and natural charm, even if these characteristics seemed out of place in a party so demonstrably right-wing.

He certainly wasn’t a conservative, perhaps an old fashioned Liberal. The sort that don’t exist anymore.

Immediately after being installed as Prime Minister he found himself in charge of the greatest bunch of out of control, extreme right-wing nut cases who he could never control and in the end accepted his assassination without so much as a whimper.

Had he been allowed to govern in his on right it may have been a different story.

There was always this nagging feeling that he was more left than right but would morph into anything to become Prime Minister.

Perhaps some of you will recall the story of Malcolm wanting to join Labor at the time of the Republican Referendum but was told in no uncertain terms that he would be more suited to the Liberals. There are various antidotes.

The second piece I refer to is about Morrison’s part in the deceptive dismissal of Malcolm Turnbull and in turn Turnbull’s characterisation of Morrison. For a so-called Christian he would be somewhat of a disappointment to Jesus, to say the least.

But more on that in Part 2.

My thought for the day

To what degree do we actually control the course our lives take?


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The Mongrel that is Rupert Murdoch

In an effort to deflect some recent criticism from former Prime Ministers Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, and former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten about his media empire, while addressing News Corp’s December 2019 annual general meeting Rupert Murdoch assured all that:

“There are no climate change deniers around I can assure you” after he was asked at the corporation’s AGM why his company gives them “so much airtime” in Australia.

Unfortunately for Murdoch, Guardian Australia’s Amy Remeikis exposed the lie that this was in her article Rupert Murdoch says ‘no climate change deniers around’ – but his writers prove him wrong.

On April 25, 2014, I wrote a review of the Paul Barry book; Breaking News: Sex, Lies and the Murdoch Succession. Here is a short extract:

Depressingly readable is the best way to describe Paul Barry’s revealing biography of Rupert Murdoch. I placed the word mongrel in the title of this piece but it could just as easily used scumbag, which means a contemptible or objectionable person.

It is a story about one man. A man with a love for money, power, influence, acquisitions, wives, children and even scandal. Scandal makes money.

Covering much of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st, it is fluent yet comprehensive, with a not-too-much-not-too-little approach to Murdoch’s life.

It is brilliantly written. Barry has a rare talent for the exposure of things complex and how to unravel them.

What was depressing for me was the uncouthness of the man in question. He has obtained a vast fortune by printing smut and conditioning people to reading it and in doing so has displayed a complete disregard for the lives of others. His obsession with profit over anything else, even people’s privacy, is staggering. His business and personal moral corruption stands out larger than the worst of his tabloid headlines.

Having the power to elect governments is the ultimate power that carries with it the highest rewards that corruption can bring.

On three occasions I had to put the book down, so affronted was I by this vile nefarious excuse for humanity. One time was when one of his tabloid editors described the reason for his papers existence by saying:

“The reason we exist is to destroy peoples lives.”

On 7 September 2017, I wrote another piece titled about Murdoch, pondering whether he will again tell us how to vote, pointing out that his influence in the distribution of print media had waned but they were still the go-to news for the right-wing.

Again, here is a short extract:

So in terms of political influence Labor has little to fear from the nefarious front pages and slanted editorials of his tabloids. The Labor victories in both Queensland and Victoria have highlighted News Limited’s growing irrelevance to the electoral process.

Last year, the total daily circulation of all Australian daily newspapers was a little over 2.1 million; fully one million lower than it was at the turn of the century. When you take into account the growth in population post Second World War the decline is even more spectacular.

In 1947 two copies of daily newspapers were sold for every five people. In 2014 the figure was 1-14. So now, Murdoch with a 60% share of the Australian circulation can only attract 4% of the population to buy his rags.

I went on to say that:

So, if all the research is correct, Murdoch only reaches less than 10% of the voting population which is about half the reach they had when they so blatantly supported Howard in 2001.

There are a couple of things to remember when discussing Murdoch’s political influence. The first is the flow on effect.

The Australian is the shock jocks first point of call every morning and the presenters of untruth quickly absorb whatever bias is on for the day.

Putting Julia Gillard aside those who feel most aggrieved, Shorten, Rudd and Turnbull have every right to feel so.

That one man through his power of opinion can make or break governments and individuals is just demonstrably and democratically wrong.

During the last election, Bill Shorten copped scathing headlines and opinions from the Murdoch stable of filthy headlines as to his character and anything else they could attack, which I covered in my Election Diary:

With an ever-increasing hostility from the Newscorp tabloids and The Australian Shorten at a press conference on Thursday decided to hit back.

I suggest you read this piece from Paddy Manning in which he says that:

Shorten let rip: “First of all, it is just a nonsense claim,” he said of the suggestion that Labor’s carbon reduction policy could cost business $25 billion. He continued: “It is built upon the back of a big lie. It says somehow that using international offsets to help abate carbon is a bad thing.” In terms of the costs, Shorten said that the Labor plan relied on the same public modeling as the government.

Shorten continued: “The News Corp climate change deniers and their ally, the prime minister – a coal-wielding, climate-denying cave-dweller on this issue – they all say, ‘Look at the cost,’ but never mention the cost of extreme weather events, do they? They never mention the cost of not getting into renewables, and they never mention energy prices, do they?”

The Daily Telegraph has been vomiting out its usual front pages. The Australian is in a battle with itself to see how many anti Labor headlines it can fit on its front pages. After dark Sky News is so partisan it only has comedic value.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of 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.

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

I don’t think anyone could deny Newscorp’s bias and their capacity to influence the character assassination of any individual should they want to.

However, as I said earlier given the declining influence of its mastheads the question is how much influence does he really have?

The outspoken former head of News Corp Kim Williams reckons Malcolm Turnbull has overstated the Murdoch press’s ability to influence elections because News Corp is “old media” with dwindling power.

He described Newspapers as a “terminating technology” and would soon disappear.

“I am surprised at the severity of Malcolm Turnbull’s comments because it attributes a level of power to old media that I don’t think they have any longer… ”

Conversely, Turnbull’s view was that:

“Media barons, and many other billionaires, like politicians who are dependent on them…

So, while it’s easy to say that the Murdoch’s thought I was too liberal, at the heart of it was the fact that they knew I was my own man, and had seen that up close many times over 40 years.

With Abbott they had a deferential prime minister they thought they controlled.

A similar assessment can be made of Alan Jones, Ray Hadley and their colleagues at 2GB – in their vanity and megalomania, Jones and Hadley berate and bully politicians who don’t kowtow to them.”

Sometimes it is good to stop, think, evaluate and formulate one’s own opinion instead of being influenced by the media and other vested interests.

In a no holds barred piece for The Guardian late last year Kevin Rudd went on the attack:

“And for those who think it will all expire when Rupert dies, there’s another Murdoch in waiting. Lachlan is every bit as conservative as his father, including being a climate change denier. Murdoch has cultivated an atmosphere of fear in Australia.

Debating Murdoch’s power has long been effectively off-limits. Politicians, academics, corporates, even journalists and commentators from other news organisations are fearful for their own reputations, because they know from experience that Murdoch’s editorial henchmen will come after anyone who attacks them, with a view to shredding the offender’s reputation.

Murdoch editors see no need to correct the record when they print inaccuracies or just make stories up. After all, who is going to have the guts to challenge them? Which is why we have such a deafening national silence in this country on the problem, which dare not speak its name: Murdoch.”

A Death Certificate might show proof of death but the legacy you leave behind will demonstrate how you lived.

A Royal Commission is long overdue into the nefarious working of Murdoch and his mafia-like behaviour.

It is well known that Murdoch’s media outlets in Australia lose millions of dollars every year, so why does a man who luxuriates in the making of it allow this?

It can only be for the power and influence it gives him. At nearly 90 one might question its importance, but then, old habits die-hard.

My thought for the day

There are those who make money but are never remembered. There are others who do great deeds and are.

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A very unstable genius

Where would the President of the United States get the idea from that injecting disinfectant into the body could cure COVID-19? From a fellow called Mark Grenon, apparently. Writing in The Guardian, Ed Pilkington reveals that:

“The leader of the most prominent group in the US peddling potentially lethal industrial bleach as a “miracle cure” for coronavirus wrote to Donald Trump at the White House this week.

In his letter, Mark Grenon told Trump that chlorine dioxide – a powerful bleach used in industrial processes such as textile manufacturing that can have fatal side-effects when drunk – is “a wonderful detox that can kill 99% of the pathogens in the body”. He added that it “can rid the body of Covid-19”.

Who could imagine any American President in his right mind ever suggesting the citizens of his country take bleach by injection as a cure for the coronavirus, but Trump has.

The American people are indeed unfortunate to have, during a time of crisis, a man so unqualified to lead, let alone lead them through a pandemic.

While the piles of dead mount daily and millions lose their jobs, and the very fabric of its culture is torn asunder, the President seemingly indulges himself in his own self interest, embellishes his own character, his TV ratings and is now suggesting that people-inject disinfectants into their lungs which is tantamount to suggesting they commit suicide.

Never, under any circumstances inject Lysol or Dettol into your bloodstream say the manufactures, Reckitt Benckiser.

The President of the United States is not a doctor of medicine. Instead, ask yourself what is his Cabinet doing about his dangerous advice?

Nothing. And to think this President has described himself as a “very stable genius.”

When the foolhardiness of his words were explained to him or by some miracle he realised it himself later, he back peddled and told another lie. Rather flippantly he suggested he was just being sarcastic.

What would his thinking be if a declaration of war were required?

With the death toll at 53,000 what will it take for the American people to realise that their president is of unstable mind?

In a piece for The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg wrote that:

“Trump, meanwhile, spoke of the crisis in the past tense, as something America is now emerging from, suggesting that all the country will face in the future is “some embers of corona.” The day before, the country had recorded around 2,200 deaths, making it one of the deadliest days of the pandemic in the United States.

Over the last three and a half years, Americans have had to accustom themselves to a relentless, numbing barrage of lies from the federal government. In one sector after another, we’ve seen experts systemically purged and replaced with toadying apparatchiks.”

Frankly, the president shouldn’t be left in charge of his own mouth.


My thought for the day

The Office of the American President was once viewed by its people as an office of prestige and importance. Trump has reduced it to one of ridicule and contempt.

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A layperson’s guide to lying

An app for the purpose of finding and identifying those who are close to a virus carrier is an invention of significance.

It deserves the co-operation of every citizen with a device able to accommodate it. So why all the negativity? Despite every possible assurance by the government, why do so many say they won’t download it?

Well, take your choice:

A. The government and its ministers cannot be trusted.

B. The Prime Minister is a liar and cannot be trusted.

C. The government has lied so much that you wouldn’t believe a word they say.

D. They have stuffed around with matters relating to people’s privacy that you wouldn’t trust them as far as you could collectively throw them.

E. People wouldn’t have a bar of anything Stuart Robert was involved with.

F. The data will be housed in another country.

Truthfully, any of the aforementioned points would be justifiable in making your decision. And it’s such a pity given the app’s unique ability to save lives and end the crisis.

Although I have some misgivings about the government handling of the coronavirus emergency they have, thanks to an acceptance of the science, performed admirably.

Consequently they have received praise for their efforts proving in the process that doing good has its rewards.

Improving the common good post COVID-19 is another matter.

Lies that are told when an internal conscience tells the liar that he/she are wrong is the last act of self-defiance.

We should 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, Dutton, Hunt, Taylor and others are so repetitive, so blatant, and so desperate that they could only come from men of self guilt and deliberate intent.

The Prime Minister sets the example for the ministry to follow. It’s when he is being questioned under stress that his lying is most blatant.

These are scared politicians who have become so immersed in untruth that they have forgotten the truth that sincerity and transparency brings with it. It’s called ‘being honest.’

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.

Only a very desperate person would stoop so low. Morrison is one such person.

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

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 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.

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

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

Scott Morrison by with his lying has betrayed his faith.

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 in Dr. George Venturini’s outstanding series, The facets of Australian fascism: the Abbott Government experiment, he wrote:

“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:

  • 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.

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

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.

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

Four months ago Morrison argued that there wasn’t any evidence that connected the bush fires with Climate Change. When he said that reducing Australia’s emissions would do nothing, he told another lie:

“But I think to suggest that at just 1.3% of emissions, that Australia doing something more or less would change the fire outcome this season – I don’t think that stands up to any credible scientific evidence at all.”

It is well known that those countries with the equivalent emissions or under Australia’s make up for a third of the total problem.

Grant Turner, writing for Independent Australia about the Sports Rorts said:

“LOOKING BACK through Australian political history, I’ve tried to find a more blatant example of a Prime Minister knowingly looking down a camera lens and flat-out lying to the Australian people as Prime Minister Scott Morrison did when he said in relation to the sports rorts grants program that all projects funded were eligible and that his office had no input into which projects received grants.”

When addressing the United Nations in September of last year the Prime Minister said, “plastic pollution in the oceans is a more immediate threat than climate change.” This simply isn’t true and you don’t need to be a scientist to know so.

His holiday in Hawaii was yet another unnecessary lie as was the lie about Paster Houston being invited to the White House.

Another time when being questioned about the phrase “Shanghai Sam” in connection with Gladys Liu’s potential links to China’s central government as being racist. He denied it, where as in fact he had used the phrase 17 times. He then claimed he misheard the question.

We can go back to the time when he was immigration minister and at the height of Abbott’s “stop the boats” propaganda he invents the phrase “on water matters” and under these words refused to answer the simplest questions.

Scott Morrison displays an annoyance, an almost paranoid dislike of answering questions. He finds it anything but comfortable.

It’s not that he is born of incompetence but rather petulance. Like it’s beneath him. The longer an interview goes the more seething is his demeanour.

Of course he, as Prime Minister has to front up but you can tell he doesn’t like it. That he should be questioned at all he finds contemptible.

It has never been as easy as it is now to get away with lying in politics.

My thought for the day

Do you shape the truth for the sake of good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you?

Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is sometimes pain in truth but there is no harm in it.


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It’s more than just a virus: there are culture wounds and abscesses of leadership

So submersed have we become with all the consequences and complications of COVID-19 that it has preoccupied our minds as if nothing else exists.

And rightly so, given the deathly possibilities this virus insinuates upon society.

Like rust this deadly virus, without instruction, without fear or favour, spreads itself throughout the community; the wealthy and the poor die. The aged and not so aged.

Its side effects include the wrecking of lives, families, and the devastation of economies and cultures with the possibility of a world recession.

Without a cure our only defence is isolation and some meaningful rules that – if followed – suffice as effective and efficient weapons.

The rich with a negative worldview see the gloom as a reason to protect themselves and their wealth. The poor with no recourse to health insurance die because Trump hates the word Obama. But the rich do too because of an unpreparedness to combat this killer.

Some, like President Trump, arguably the biggest political liar in history, have likened it to a war and as we know truth is the first fatality of any conflict. He is well suited to the title, king liar.

He advocates – against the best health advice – a return to business as usual, taking the risk that the vicious virus might restart again even encouraging people in certain states to protest against their state governors.

Without even a thought for those who might die because of such a premature decision Trump urges these protests as if he is the sole dictator over life and death.

His mental deficiency also prompted a bad decision to withdraw money from the World Health Organization at a most precarious time in the spread of the pandemic. A decision that has faced condemnation around the world, and at home, and will end the lives of many in Africa where most of the money was spent combating Ebola, HIV and other diseases.

As is his habit, Trump seeks to blame others. Maybe the silence of the cash registers in his resorts has been a price t0o much to pay.

In Australia our Prime Minister is of the same ilk as Trump. His lying, although just as notorious as Trump’s, doesn’t have the same chilling, life-ending, effect. He is, however, a politician so arrogant as to believe that he is beyond the inconvenient nuisance of being questioned. How detestable is the hypocrisy?

The US has a coronavirus death rate per million population of 114.14 compared to Australia 41.9.

Defending his poor handling of the pandemic, Donald Trump resorts to more lying:

 “We’ve handled the situation incredibly well … Everything is perfect … the United States has the most robust, advanced, and accurate testing system anywhere in the world … We’re now the king of ventilators … The research and development that we’ve done at the federal level has been absolutely incredible … Ultimate victory in this war will be made possible by America’s scientific brilliance.  There is nothing like us.  There is nobody like us.  Not even close … We did the right thing.”

Scott Morrison – like Trump – is devoid of trustworthiness. Although both profess by faith to be Christians any suggestion that trust would be a quality of leadership in them both needs to be ignored.

That aside, however, Australia it would seem is in a better position to resume business as usual ahead of most countries.

Most are predicting that four weeks will see us back to normal. Morrison is no longer talking about “snap back”, instead saying that we will be in:

“… a different world on the other side of the virus …

We’re going to have to have economic policy measures that are very pro-growth.”

That to me sends a message that a reliance on old style economics will be used to try and fix what is a crisis on two fronts. On the one hand the virus, and on the other hand the economy and all the agony that goes with it.

As we rush toward a recession and 10% unemployment I see no intention to reform the economy at all. I see no promise of a more equitable system that addresses fairness, the privileges of the rich, and all the subsidies to the mining companies.

Morrison says that he has a 3-point plan. The three priorities he outlined were to:

A: Protect the health of Australians

B: Secure their jobs and livelihoods.

[Note, some economists are predicting a jobless rate of up to 16%, which of course would be catastrophic].

C: Set Australia up to bounce back stronger.

And everything is on the table but I don’t see the evidence of it.

That sends shivers down my spine and the word ‘draconian’ enters my head as a descriptive for the next budget.

It is obvious to me that we are in a unique period of time where from these recent health, societal, economic, and environmental disasters there will evolve the opportunity to correct our course.

Now is the time and the opportunity for reform. Yes, real reform. Think health, social security, the aged, pensions, infrastructure, economics, government subsidies, taxes etc.

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

Dictatorships in the guise of democracies have grown their crooked influence and are more interested in power than people.

Morrison has stated that the parliament will sit on a trial basis for a two-week period. Now that’s democracy for you. It shouldn’t be on trial, it should just be.

We have leaders like Trump and Morrison who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process yet they make the most contribution to its demise. And of course, there are many others.

Before the last Australian election I found it impossible to imagine that the people could be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that has performed so miserably in the first two, and has amongst its members some of the most devious, suspicious and corrupt men and women, but they did. And might I add extremely well-educated.

But as I have diligently argued many times previously, Conservatives cannot do reform of the nature I speak of. It goes against their philosophy.

I’m afraid the only plan our Prime Minister has is to return us to where we were.

We must fight against this Government’s return at the next election with everything we have, and more.

My thought for the day

This Government’s performance over its time in office has been like a daily shower of offensiveness raining down on society.

Surely performance or lack of it must mean something.


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Memes R Us

I put this simple question, “What is a meme?” to Wikipedia.

This is what they told me:

An Internet meme, more commonly known simply as a meme (/miːm/ MEEM), is a type of meme that is spread via the Internet, often through social media platforms.

Traditionally, a prominent form of such memes consisted of image macros paired with a concept or catchphrase. In some cases, these memes used words and phrases contain[ing] intentional misspellings (such as lolcats) or incorrect grammar (such as doge and “All your base are belong to us“).

However, in more recent times, memes have evolved from simple image macros with text to more elaborate forms such as challenges, GIFs and viral sensations.

These small movements tend to spread from person to person via social networksblogs, direct email, or news sources. They may relate to various existing Internet cultures or subcultures, often created or spread on various websites. Fads and sensations tend to grow rapidly on the Internet, because the instant communication facilitates word of mouth transmission …

… And on they went.

My interest in them stems mainly from a general appreciation of how we use words; how they make us think, the effectiveness of them and the perceptions they might carry.

Life, after all, is about perception. Not what it is but what we perceive it to be.

Here are my top 15 favourite memes. The first thing you will notice is that the group of 15 all reflect my own views. Memes allow this. It’s part of the culture.


15 Every picture tells a story. Yes?


14 Admitting one’s guilt.


13 Words that make you think.


12 Seriously funny.


11 Slam dunk.


10 What’s his name again?


9 I liked this for its truth.


8 I agree


7 Fools rush in.


6 No words needed.


5 The truth hurts.


4 When you tell a lie you deny the other person his or her right to the truth.


3 Memories


2 A true, if biased view


1 A classic.


I have no more to say except that I might follow up with a Top 10 Donald Trump memes. They should give your thought processes a thorough going-over!

My thought for the day

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.

Words have special meaning when they are written by the intellectually rich but mean nothing when written by the intellectually corrupt.

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“Be generous with your praise and considerate with your criticism”

What ever I have been involved in be it sport, the arts, politics, community or writing for The AIMN I have tried to adhere to my quote that suffices as the headline for this piece.

I have no doubt that I am influenced by my personal bias from time to time but in the main I believe that I am fair and considerate.

So, based on the principles of fairness and consideration I was a bit taken a back last week when Barrie Cassidy, on The Drum, gave the Government full-on praise for their handling of the Corona virus crisis.

I was not at all upset by the well-deserved praise but rather for the imbalance of it. Had he qualified it with an “it’s not before time mind you” or a “mind you it’s taken six years”, even a mention of “snapback” and I would have felt much happier.

If he had even mentioned that Morrison had said, “We have to get back to where we were before.” I would have declared a need for balance.

The truth of the matter is that after Morrison’s effort on the fire front he could not afford another cock up of the same magnitude.

After early mistakes with Centerlink caused by the obfuscation of the Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert and some lessor things around the edges they gave it over to the experts who seemingly have and should take the praise – things under control.

When the Parliament met (as they should in a democracy like ours) and the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese said, “This is good legislation” in reference to the bill allowing for increases to Newstart etc. we saw for the first time two leaders wanting to meet in a bi-partisanship way for the betterment of the nation. The government should be praised. And It deserves the generosity of our praise.

But that the government refuses requests from people of sound lawful knowledge and judgement for the parliament to sit during this crisis deserves the sting of our criticism.

That it is doing so unassumingly to avoid criticism is manifestly wrong under any circumstances and continues their track record of almost seven years. There isn’t room to be considerate. They are just wrong.

They seem to, at long last, be listening to those reputable in the science of viruses. This also is deserving of our highest praise.

That they do not apply the same logic to the science of climate change is deserving of our most serious foreboding.

If you have a point of view, feel free to express it. However, do so with civility. Then your point of view is laced with a degree of dignity.

The government, when in opposition, was extremely critical of the Labor government during the GFC and after its criticism dried up almost went as far as denying its existence.

In fact, the Murdoch press followed suit despite the world heaping praise on the Australian government and its Treasurer Wayne Swan.

This new found bi-partisan approach has brought with it a community anticipation that things will change. Once having demonstrated that calm rational debate can work. The community has raised its expectations.

They are asking why it cannot work all the time. Well it can, and the exchange of intellectual debate and ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on everyone to become involved.

The coronavirus has bought with it the hope of a renaissance. That a new understanding of whom we are and what we are here for might emerge from this dreadful time.

Would it be too much to hope that a new period of enlightenment might indoctrinate itself into the hearts and minds of our leaders who at present govern us from the perspective of self-interest only?

Have they woken to the fact that good open governance has its rewards? We have so much to learn from people we disagree with that it’s a wonder we don’t do it more often.

My thought for the day

Will we ever grow intellectually to the point where we are able to discern, understand and act on those matters that seek the good within us?

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What will happen in the aftershock of the corona virus? (part two)

What does ‘snapback’ mean?

Our political system is in crisis because our government fails to speak with any clarity on issues that concern us.

Last week’s Essential Report asked people about their expectations of what would happen to the economy following the coronavirus situation:

“Half of the people (51%) think the coronavirus will impact the economy for up to a year, with slow growth following. A further 29% believe the impact will be even more devastating, with long-lasting impact and recession.

Younger people aged 18-34 are a little more optimistic, with 16% thinking the economy will recover within 2-3 months (compared to 9% of those aged 55+).”

The now retired Senator and Scottish warhorse Doug Cameron tweeted:


Cameron’s words in there brevity contain the sting of truth and the bark of foolhardiness.

Only a government bereft of any political nouse would believe that it were possible to, as Cameron said, abandon its own dogma, snap its fingers and return to the political settings of early January 2020.

I know I’m stepping on my previous words here but please be patient. In a short space of time the government (1) doubled the benefit payed to those out of work, and (2) spent $130 million on unconditional wage subsidies with the dole queue likely to remain lengthy for a long, long, time.

For the first time in my life the issue of peoples’ health became the government’s top priority.

The answers to the question from Essential poll show a remarkable naivety by the young with the other half of the people just as gullible.

That said, what of the born to rule party who think they are best to manage the economy? The party who, before COVID-19, was almost certain to take us into a recession waving a white flag.

But no party is recession proof.

Wikipedia tells us that Paul Keating’s recession – the one we had to have – saw 11% unemployment.

The young of today wont know what hit them. Youth unemployment reached 17%; inflation and interest rates soared, and financial institutions collapsed.

I was in business at the time and paying 19% interest on a large overdraft.

Having ticked up the biggest budget deficit in postwar history, and recognising that at some time it will have to be paid back the Prime Minister intends to go ahead with the already legislated tax cuts for the well off. Greg Jericho wrote last week it’s a form of “snapback” austerity – meaning cuts to services will be inflicted on the less well-off. He went on to say that:

“And yet, despite the coronavirus shredding all projections made even just three months ago, the government remains firm in its view that it will deliver its tax cuts – cuts which were not even costed when they were legislated, and which now are based on scenarios of pure fantasy.”

Having now dipped his toe in the waters of flexible ideology why doesn’t the Prime Minister just put a blanket ban on subsidies (unless proven to be in the common good) and the taxation loophole doors that are always revolving for the rich and privileged.

As I said in my previous piece, this crisis could be the catalyst for change.

“Snapback” won’t snapback easily. Having seen the value of our public health system and the part private hospitals play in it pressure will be on the government to fund it better. Or organise it better.

We have also witnessed the intrinsic value of essential workers including nurses, cleaners, aged care workers, child carers and home delivery drivers. Their value must be adequately recognised and recompensed.

Pause and think; should be the mantra, develop ideas look at different ways of doing things, dismiss nothing? A moment of tranquillity that brings creativity, stillness, thoughtfulness and change is a precious one.

We, together with our politicians need to stop and ask ourselves what a society is and what are the aspirations and desires of it. Surely they must be better that what we have now.

They put their ideology aside to help fix the problem. Why not prolong it with ideological forgetfulness.

Now that the government has accepted the science of the coronavirus they should totality accept the science of climate change and recognise that we must all incur a cost for the upkeep of our health.

So why then should we not be liable for the cost of a healthy planet and do something substantial to lower our emissions as a matter of urgency?

But having said that, one can picture the deniers of climate change arranging their forces to attack those who believe and don’t want it to become worse than what it is.

Now is not the time – “they will say afresh” and the same old story will be repeated.

We must at all cost resist them.

Those of us game enough to display our naked idealism see a much different world than the unregulated one of capitalism and the far right.

Never confuse what you want with what you need.

We see a society where the common good works hand in hand with regulated capitalism. Where caveats are placed on policies so that fairness, kindness and the colour green is evident. A society where ample time is given to the children we have conceived to raise the citizens of tomorrow.

We must have time that balances work, rest and play. We must plan ahead free of the dogma of greed is good and free of past errors.

As I see it, the simplistic message of “snapback” suggests that governments are only ever reactive institutions instead of, as far as is possible, being proactive.

This must be reversed.

Hugh Mackay, writing for The Conversation puts it this way:

“But pandemics are such a potent sign of our interconnectedness and interdependency, they remind us that sustainable communities depend on a steady supply of compassion to nurture them. Longer term, major disruptions like this one tend to bring out the best in us, so we are entitled to hope for some overdue corrections to our mad materialism and our unhealthy individualism.”

Scott Morrison said “snapback” means, more or less, that we have to get back to where we were before.

Surely he doesn’t mean experiencing the rorts, the corruption, the daily incompetence and the appalling lies … then forget it.

When we emerge from our confinement the worst possible thing would be that the “snapback” principle simply reinforces a conservative view of a world that has long past us by. Let us hope that it is not the destination the leader wants to take us.

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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