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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.

Pentecostalism: A personal perspective

Of the many articles I have read about Pentecostalism on this site and in the mainstream media none have captured the inner machinations of the church.

I can assure you that the church has just as many scandals and intrigues as any other organisation, or political party for that matter.

In this piece (and subsequent instalments) I will attempt to paint a picture of the inner workings of the church in everyday language. If I used church language you would think me unintelligible.

Please note that I am writing this not with any angst against the church, but simply to give another person’s perspective.

My personal experience (part 1)

Of late, many articles on these pages and in mainstream media have appeared purporting some knowledge of Pentecostalism. All have lacked a lived experience. I have spent 20 or more years in fundamentalist churches so I think I can claim some knowledge of their workings.

There has been a surge of interest in Pentecostalism and its members in recent months. The association with it of Prime Minister Scott Morrison has mostly sparked an interest in this Christian community.

Why is it that religion assumes it has some bizarre ownership on people’s morality? To assume that an atheist is any less moral than someone religious is an absurdity.

But it is not just Pentecostalism. The Prime Minister has taken religion into the precinct of politics and there is an answer to why he has done so.

The answer to it is that religion or at least the Christian religion is likely, in Australia; no longer exist in the next 20 to 30 years. Someone must try to save it.

The 2016 Census doesn’t paint a very rosy picture for faith in Australia. If the figures are repeated in subsequent censuses then over time religion – as we have known it – will gradually fade away.

A Uniting Church minister friend of mine recently said to me that Christianity had been successfully sidelined.

I’m more inclined to the view that knowledge has done so.

Nearly 7 million Australians (roughly a third of all Australians) are now ‘no religion’. They make up the biggest category, overtaking Catholics who fell to 22%, and more than double the number of Anglicans.

39% of people 18-34 are of ‘no religion’ and there is no reason to expect people will become religious as they get older.

A third of Australians as ‘No religion’ represents a huge shift from 50 years ago, when the vast majority of Australians were Christian.

It’s the first time:

“… in Australia’s history the number of people who claim ‘no religion’ has overtaken Catholics.

The latest Census drop showed those ticking “no religion” rose from 22.6 per cent to 29.6 per cent, while those identifying as Catholic dropped from 25.3 per cent to 22.6 per cent.”

The Sydney Morning Herald sent journalist Jacqueline Maley along to the church that the Prime Minister worships at to observe just what all the fuss was about.

She highlighted the smiling faces she saw and the positive vibes of the service.

The Guardian‘s Elle Hardy in her experience, emphasised the popular appeal of Pentecostals who have (she purports) developed historically “with less content, more show.”

Hardy caricatures Pentecostals as religious entrepreneurs with an inspirational message and a product to sell.

Hardy’s piece asks; “Is there any substance behind the ‘trendy image’ projected by Pentecostals?”

Well, all their observations are correct to a point. Yes indeed they try to portray a positive image. But there is much more to it than just an image.

With 20 or so years in charismatic churches I feel qualified to fill in the gaps left by pastors who like politicians fall for the lying by omission trend in society.

So allow me to put you straight on a few things.

Charismatic – fundamentalist – Pentecostal or churches of that ilk all believe in a literalist belief in that the Bible is the absolute truth and word of God. Literally so. Something I could never comprehend.

They not only believe it but also practice it. Preachers will bend the truth and cherry pick scripture to uphold a literal version.

If there is a conflict between scripture and science then scripture and the literal version of it wins.

The truth is though that in any Pentecostal congregation you will find any number of variations in how individuals interpret scripture. This applies in any church.

The preacher may preach the official theology of the church but there are many different voices that will interpret the spoken words in their own way.

The only areas that I can think of where science is questioned are in the religious fever of climate change doubters, conservative politics and unconventional religious belief.

Unlike mainstream churches who have a better more worldly understanding of life, Charismatic churches seem to attract folk of a more simple disposition who are even more susceptible to the word of the Lord in charismatic form.

I was always conflicted by my belief in the politics of social justice and conscience as opposed to the literal word of God.

Issues of sexual equality, gay marriage, the rights of women and civil rights in general. Free speech, Aboriginal rights, sexual harassment, the rights of the child, the environment and climate change, domestic and family violence, equality of opportunity in education, asylum seekers and multiculturalism, always seemed to be fighting with a very right wing conservative thinking and voting church.

I recall speaking at a men’s breakfast on the subject of women’s rights many years ago. Scripture was thrown at me in literal form left right and centre.

A friend who happened to be a paramedic told me on the way out that my thinking was far ahead of these guys and it was true. Having a view that contradicted scripture was like stepping on broken glass.

Another time I recall telling a pastor that I was a democratic socialist and that I believed that Jesus was the world’s first socialist. I put up a pretty good argument but the look on his face was one I will never forget. You mean you are a communist.

Yes, Pentecostals are on the far right of politics although the leadership will tell you they are “A” political.

Pentecostalism thrives in the lower socio-economic areas of the US and third world countries.

Jacqueline Maley’s observation of the smiling faces she saw and the positive vibes of the service are true but the attending flock is no different to any other group in the community.

Families have the same family issues, child problems, disputes, employment issues, people with businesses have issues and teens have their problems with schooling and the list goes on and on.

They come from a diverse range of backgrounds

The difference being that they all believe that in God or the pastor or prayer they will find the answer to whatever ails them.

The church tells them this is so but many fall by the wayside when their needs aren’t met. Or they shop around for another church with a Pastor sympathetic to their needs.

More often than not sermons are nothing more that inspirational words designed to make one feel better about oneself and the problems that confront you.

The truth is that prayer isn’t what its made out to be, the pastor isn’t qualified in all these matters or God doesn’t hear them.

When an answer isn’t forthcoming then the default button of “it isn’t God’s will” is pushed and that seems to resolve everything.

Pastors are more often than not are just ordinary people who complete a Biblical course and qualify to preach God’s word.

Having achieved that status they believe they have a spiritual gifting that has been bequeathed on them by God, but few have any extraordinary qualities.

They are often just ordinary men and women unqualified to deal with the many social issues of the congregation and the times.

I believe that a commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry, rather than faith and mysticism, is the best way of providing solutions to human problems. That does not however mean that faith doesn’t have a place.

Unlike mainstream churches where ministers are required to complete a much more rigorous theological education pastors are, after being ordained, encouraged to start their own church.

After all, their entire mission is to save souls. The conflict here is that the souls to be saved are in the community and the church encourages its members to be totally involved in the church. In Bible study, music, drama, different courses and other ministries. All of which lock you into the church.

Dr Jacqueline Grey, in Crucis reports that:

In her visit to Horizon Church in suburban Sydney, Jacqueline Maley met various members of the congregation and staff. This included the media manager, Kristy. Kristy is described as “a pretty blonde woman with a soft floral scarf floating around her neck and a brilliant, bone-white smile.” From this definition, you would expect a person whose highest qualification is an Instagram account. Yet a basic internet search reveals that Kristy is an ordained pastor, serves as Executive Pastor at Horizon Church and preaches regularly. She is also on the board of an international aid agency and has degrees in Arts and Education, as well as a Masters (International Studies) from Sydney University. The theology of her preaching on a church podcast emphasises hope amid suffering. While this female Pentecostal pastor is dismissed in the Maley article as a “pretty blonde”, there is more substance behind the image than the reporting allows.

Similarly, the Hardy article harshly critiques Pentecostalism as essentially “peddling spiritualised self-help.”

If you read the Bible with literalist intent it becomes the only text book on living never updated but if you read it with logical reasoning and an exploratory mind all manner of things of historic and literary value are revealed.

This is entirely correct. Worshippers are spoon-fed first class pop music by first-class musicians, sermons by first-class speakers preaching a gospel of total self-righteousness self-help therapy.

All backed up by the hundreds of authors who write books effectively proclaiming they have an insight into God’s will that others don’t.

Is it superficial? Yes, it is. After all, it is a carrot and stick religion. Do good and you go to Heaven, do wrong and you go to Hell.

“If it were only that simple?” I hear you say.

My thought for the day

Science has made in my lifetime, the most staggering achievements and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society.

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Truth doesn’t have the same importance it once did

Lies are so commonplace now that people just discount them or factor them into whatever context they read into various methods of communication. Many believe them.

It is a shame that I and many other writers for The AIMN find it necessary to write on the subject but we do and will probably do so until some semblance of normality returns to the body politic.

Such was my upbringing that using the ‘F’ word in front of elders was taboo. Using it in front of women was outlawed.

Using the ‘C’ word was totality forbidden. Even by men, but both are as common now as red, green and amber lights at intersections.

Like lying and good manners, it doesn’t seem to matter anymore.

The Rod Laver Tennis Centre now dominates an area of land where the Melbourne Olympic pool once stood. To its east massive Elm trees occupied the adjacent land.

It was under these huge trees that fierce political debates once took place.

Rather like Hyde Park in London. It was there that as a teenage boy I spent many a Sunday afternoon. Politics has been for most of my life something that had within its existence the means of making things so obviously wrong or unequal, better.

Other than what one might do in bed I can think of little that politics doesn’t invade in society in one way or another.

The circumstances of my growing up defined my future. I was exposed to injustice, inequality, unfairness and prejudice at an early age. Lying always seemed to underscore it all.

We may have been poor but we were taught values like truth, manners and honesty.

In my growing I became wise enough to understand that in a democracy the party I didn’t support had as much right to power as the one I do.

I am of the Left because social inequality is anathema to me.

There was, however, a time when I had a guarded tolerance for things Liberal and got on with life. But somewhere along the way things went horribly wrong.

Like rust finding its way, hate and untruth insinuated its way into the Australian politics.

It is now a cesspool of lying and ideological corruption where politicians use it as a legitimate political weapon. They just, in Trumpish fashion, brush aside their lies, and tell another one or repeat the same one.

At a time when the world is screaming out for collective answers to complex problems our government isn’t listening because it’s so busy telling lies.

Probably because I don’t understand the “why” of it is the reason I have developed a particular loathing for all this lying – this self-righteous attempt to corrupt the business of government.

Time and time again history would record the failure of lies yet the temptation is ever present. It seems to have worked for Donald, so why not give it a go.

Children learn from the age of four how lying works and one might argue that men who lie in copiousness have never grown up.

Having said that, I’m not naive enough to think that it is curable; lying has and probably will always exist.

However, Trump has taken political language into a new dimension. One where the craft of nefarious persuasion and communication has reached into a bucket of his sewerage and take from it the stench of his own bullshit.

Lying in American politics is now a legitimate and acceptable part of the cut and thrust of it. Because lying is a choice it would be unfair to suggest we have inherited it from America, but it is a fair assumption.

Lying in Australian politics has also reached unprecedented levels. The Prime minister and his Cabinet have taken lying to such depths that it is not disingenuous to suggest that this government under Morrison no longer has a moral compass nor any understanding of truth.

If this means I am saying that our Prime Minister is a pathological liar then so be it. I’m not it the habit of calling anyone a liar without proof (I do so with a heavy heart) but we are dealing with truth here.

It’s not so much that he is a serial offender, he is.

That he professes a practising belief in the Christian faith at the same time is both insulting and hypocritical.

He makes truth the victim. You can shape truth by telling lies in a way that embellishes crap and you can use the contrivance of omission to create yet another lie but when they are exposed they have little value.

However, the ability to admit you are wrong when found out is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.

Admitting a lie requires a truthfulness foreign to conservatives. If a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information the public has a democratic right to be aware of, it destroys the very democracy that enables it to exist.

And if humility is the basis by which intellectual advancement is made then it is only on the basis of truth that we make any human progress.

Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it. It is far better to be comforted by truth than to be controlled by lies.

Is it plausible? Does what I am being told have the ring of truth about it? We make judgements based on our life’s experience.

Unless your personal bias clouds the ’Pub test’ … your inner conscience dictates your judgement. But in itself your emotion can never be a substitute for facts.

My thought for the day

Faith is the residue of what is not understood but can never be a replacement for fact.

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Inequality: Just what do you mean by that? Surely you don’t mean you are my equal?

Nothing divides a community, or a nation for that matter, more than inequality yet conservatives through out history have practised it with fervour unequalled by any other political philosophy.

Lack of equal treatment, inequality of opportunity as in education, inequality of opportunity in team selection. Inequality in sharing the country’s wealth, health services, aged care, or social service payments like the dole.

That’s what inequality means. It’s when the government assists those who have more than those who have not. It is a servant-master discipline or born to rule attitude that prevents it.

Conservatives say that their only responsibility is to help those who are in danger of falling through the safety net. After that they reward those who have a go. How they measure that, I don’t know.

Why then are they so hell bent on assisting those who “have”?

The Sports Rorts affair has shown just how elitist this government is. They are rotten, by any measure.

The evidence is in. The ‘Christian’ Prime Minister is an unmitigated liar. Nothing is more unedifying than a government handing out grants to sporting bodies in their own electorates.

If you judge a government on how it treats its most disadvantaged then this government would be lucky to score a point.

The common good, or empathy for it, should be at the centre of any political philosophy. However it is more likely to be found on the left than the right.

Do we in an equitable sense share the country’s wealth? When hundreds of companies pay no tax and others receive billions in subsidies while making huge profits could you say we are a nation of equality?

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

When the rich and privileged have a smorgasbord of tax breaks from which to choose, could you say that equality sets us apart from other nations?

When the law becomes a resource affordable only to the rich can you honestly plead a case for equality?

When our Indigenous folk are told year after year that we will bridge the gap of inequality, and we fail them,  can you openly preach the gospel of equality? Of course not.

When the government openly admits that it is deliberately keeping wages low can you see any equality?

When women suffer high incidence of domestic violence how do you explain equality to others?

Now we even find that children with development delay and who live in lower socioeconomic seats are waiting longer for a diagnosis than their counterparts in government seats in order to seek assistance from the NDIS.

In recent years Australian conservative governments have changed the way rises to the pension are calculated to save them billions of dollars.

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

A few years ago single mothers received $700 to help their children start the school year and pensioners got $1000 dollars toward the cost of their partner’s funeral. All have disappeared and there are many more examples.

The incidence of wages theft has become blight on the business sector but those on the right would have us believe that it is all so complicated that large businesses are just making tardy errors.

Home ownership is ever becoming but a dream for the low paid and in the meantime those who have purchase, with the assistance of the government, as many properties as they want.

I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

From Gareth Hutchens in The Guardian, (30 September 17):

“In a speech to the Business Council of Australia on Thursday evening, Morrison said the Treasury and the Reserve Bank had found, in specific analysis of current wage fundamentals, that wages were growing slowly across most industries in the economy, and most regions of the country.

And six months later Michael Janda for the ABC reports:

“Using Treasury data, as well as various ABS figures and the University of Melbourne’s HILDA survey, Per Capita calculated that major tax concessions totalling $135 billion to the rich per year were costing the budget more than the four main welfare payments — the aged pension, family assistance payments, disability benefits and Newstart — combined.”

That is astonishing. Even more amazing is the fact that the research for Anglicare finds more than half of the benefit from tax concessions goes to the wealthiest fifth of households.

“The vast wealth generated over the last three decades has decisively gone into the hands of the privileged few, and not the many.” (Inequality in Australia).

It is true to say that we haven’t had a recession since 91/92 but our wages growth has been the slowest of any sustained period since World War 2.

The fact that they are deliberately keeping wages down is both a mystery and an indictment of the Morrison government.

In terms of a more equitable share of the country’s wealth we did better post-war than we are doing now.

Despite record profits and record growth inequality in Australia over the last three decades has bounded along like an intoxicated roo.

The latest Oxfam report shows that Australia’s top richest 1% have more than double the wealth of the total bottom 50% – or more than 12.5 million of us.

Globally, the wealthiest 1 per cent of people in the world has more than double the wealth of 6.9 billion people.

The problem is an historical misunderstanding of the relationship of money and society. The origin of money in ancient Greece resulted in the formation of class societies with inequality an unintended circumstance. It all happened at the same time.

Instead of being just a means of recompense or a medium of exchange, over time, money for public purpose came into being and the characteristic of money and inequality came with it.

The evolution of money was closely intertwined with the rise and consolidation of what we know as class society. Harmony and the use of money to procure it were forgotten and greed became entrenched. In modern society money, a class society, and inequality has become a huge problem because there is nothing natural about the existence of socioeconomic inequality.

“The rich get richer and the poor get poorer” is a saying that we hear often and there is no doubting its truthfulness.

This concentration of wealth is astonishing.

The world’s billionaires, 2,153 people in 2019, have more wealth between them than 4.6 billion people.

Oxfam’s report cited World Bank figures showing almost half the world is trying to survive on $5.50 a day or less.

Conservatives have never understood that economics and the social structure are intertwined each dependent on the other.

Look around you see how obvious it is.

My thought for the day

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

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“Keeping the bastards honest”: Was it just a passing fad that lost its way?

Don Chipp left the Liberals in 1977 to help create a new party, the Democrats, and famously promised to “keep the bastards honest.”

It worked for a period, but the passing years seem to have taken the gloss from the statement.

Many things have changed since then. None more so than the political environment which has found itself in a swamp of lies.

Prior to the last election many Labor supporters, including myself, had been tossing about ideas for Labor to include in their campaign.

By far, the most popular policy suggestions were to advocate for a National ICAC or something similar.

Then as if on cue Bill Shorten started to advocate for an inquiry into the viability of such a commission.

Bill Shorten supports an anti-corruption commission,” read the headlines.

Shorten was unequivocally robust in his support, saying that any reform needed to go beyond an independent parliamentary expenses system.

He supported “an open and honest discussion” about whether Australia should have a federal Independent Commission against Corruption (ICAC).

“For me, reform doesn’t just stop at parliamentarians’ expenses,” he said.

“It must include greater transparency, greater accountability on political donations – and no discussion about electoral reform and rebuilding the confidence of Australians in the political process can take place without having an open and honest discussion about a federal ICAC.”

He further stated that:

“Before the last election there was a Senate committee set up to examine the existing capacities of the anti-corruption regime in Australian federal sphere of government.”

He was referring to a Senate Committee that lapsed after the last election. That inquiry received written submissions and held two public inquiries in April 2016, but lapsed before a final report could be handed down. It received little media attention.

Wouldn’t it be good if in our parliament, regardless of ideology, we had politicians whose first interest was the peoples and not their own?

Finally, when the Coalition took office the problem was hand-balled to the newly appointed Attorney General, Christian Porter.

The Coalition had also advocated an anti-corruption body – albeit a watered-down version – with questions being asked behind closed doors with the public having little insight into its enquiries or indeed its results.

With trust in politicians at an all-time low, there is genuine, overwhelming public support for some sort of ICAC with teeth.

So the question arises as to what stage has Christian Porter carried the proposed legislation forward?

Well, let me bring you up to date.

In September of 2019, Porter said that the proposed draft legislation was near completion.

It is now 2020, and over a year since the Coalition promised its formula for a federal integrity commission legislation.

It had promised to have it done and dusted by last December, but strangely, more than a few scandals seem to have gotten in their way.

That aside, Labor is rightly more than a little upset.

“Continuous scandals showed the government wasn’t interested in integrity, Labor leader Anthony Albanese said.

“Despite overwhelming public support for a national integrity commission the government had to be dragged kicking and screaming all the way,” he said.

Albanese pointed to comments  Porter made in parliament in September, when he said a draft was “well advanced.”

In the meantime. critics have rubbished the draft:

“It would create two divisions, a law enforcement division and a public sector integrity division.”

“It would have the power to conduct public hearings in its law enforcement division, but the public sector integrity division will not have the power to make public findings of corruption.”

It is fair to say that the people have been screaming out for some sort of means of checking on the integrity of their politicians for some years. Or was it the time that they happened to notice that they weren’t as lily-white as they first thought?

Now that politicians on all sides of the divide have agreed to an integrity commission the battle has turned to getting one that has enough teeth to bite those who might or have been led astray.

The National Party’s Bridget McKenzie’s allocation of funds to sporting clubs is exactly the sort of scandal that an independent integrity commission would investigate, yet here we have a Liberal Attorney General who is responsible for pulling it all together; seemingly doing his utmost to delay and delay.

The scandals surrounding the practices of Energy Minister Angus Taylor should also be investigated, regardless of the AFPs decision not to take matters any further.

Instead, the Prime Minister, in the case of McKenzie, decided to have his department head take a look at it.

His findings wouldn’t pass a pub test anywhere in the world and to say that she was only guilty of not confessing to joining a gun club was nothing more than contemptible bullshit.

Where is the integrity, the transparency?

Is it any wonder that 32 retired judges from around Australia recently came together to speak as one?

“In an open letter published in the media, they used their considerable expertise in the corruption-integrity area to clearly state why Australia needs such a body at the federal level. They did not put forward a suggested model, deciding instead to try to have the issue placed firmly on the political agenda. Their approach has been successful.”

Well, in so much as we have some construct of an agenda for a commission and an objectionable draft. What we don’t have is a minister with the will and desire to get his legislation passed in the parliament.

The way we are governed has been in serious decline since Tony Abbott took power in 2013.

It has happened at a time in our history when we need an astuteness of leadership – that is seemingly beyond the current crop of politicians.

Never in our history, in the time in which we live, have the consequences of bad governance been more profound.

Getting any sort of reform, given the government is capable of drawing up the legislation, seems to get stalled in a philosophical vacuum that never gets emptied.

There was a time when the major parties could at least work together for some common goals but now even those ideals seem to have lost their appeal.

My Thought For The Day

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

While our political system has always been adversarial, we used to be better at working together for common goals.

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What do the words Disaster, Adaptation and Resilience mean to you?

What do the words Disaster, Adaptation and Resilience mean to you? Do they mean that the government has given up on reducing our carbon emissions and are now taking the approach that the world’s carbon emissions will rise no matter what we do to limit it, and that we shall have to be resilient and adapt to whatever comes our way?

To find the answer to this question – and more – I spoke to Amanda Leck*, the Executive Director of The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR).

I pondered this question in the headline as I sat watching the endless ebb and flow of humanity on Flinders Street station as I waited for my train back to Traralgon.

My mind ran pictures of my grandchildren, particularly the youngest (aged 10) as I contemplated with awful dread the environment she will need to contend with when she is my age and earlier.

Along the way many young people boarded the train with their typical youthful appetite for schools’ end and I wondered how many might have had any insight into what they might confront in middle-age and beyond.

I drew consolation from my meeting with Amanda that there were good people and organisations such as The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience trying to make a difference in a political quagmire of unbelief and senselessness.

Sorry. I digress.

The purpose of my meeting was twofold. The first was to seek some explanation for matters concerning her organisation I had raised in an article for The AIMN titled “Asking Peter Dutton.”

The second was to find out more about adaptation and resilience.

It had begun with this message from a Facebook friend, which then led into many other questions.

“Hi John, Part of the bloated Dutton budget is spent on this group [AIDR]. Young Peter has been strangely silent of late so may be an appropriate time to highlight his expertise.”

Hence, my first question to Amanda was this:

Why is it the government never mentions the AIDR and your work in this area?

“I don’t know but I wish they would,” she replied.

I thought it rather obvious given all the adaptation and resilience talk the Prime Minister was throwing about.

I followed up with; Why was funding in the 2017 budget axed for The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility?

When it existed it worked to support decision makers throughout Australia as they prepared for the management of risks from climate change and sea-level rise.

The answer was that; “funds were likely withdrawn from 2013 onwards after Tony Abbott came to power and funding ended in 2017.”

“That would be right,” I thought to myself.

Their web page is still in existence.

My next question related to funding for AIDR: Why are you funded by the Attorney Generals department yet you come under the department of Home Affairs? Isn’t that a bit strange?

Her answer was along these lines:

“There isn’t anything sinister in this. It was just the complexity of the workings of government. How budgets start and end with overruns and unused funds becoming available. Our funding has recently been doubled.”

Are restrictions placed on you by the government in speaking out about the causes of Climate Change?

“No not at all, although I prefer to steer clear of the topic and concentrate on adaptation and resistance.” This led into another question on the same topic:

It maybe my imagination but I’m fascinated as to how the two words adaptation and resilience have become buzz words.

“I think that would be pure coincidence but I wish they would use them more often came the answer.”

Is there any connection between Twiggy Forrest forming a volunteer group and AIDR doing the same thing in WA?

“No, there is no connection except for one with his Minderoo Foundation and CSIRO’s Data61, the data science arm of Australia’s national science agency.”

Tell me about ADRC Australian Disaster Residence Conference.

“It had become an annual conference where a number of agencies come together to discuss the changing climate, and how reducing risk contributes to the resilience of our nation.”

But how do you adapt to an ever-worsening climate while we are simultaneously pursuing policies that are accelerating warming?

“That’s one for the politicians, John. I’m sorry about that. I do have a view but it would be off the record. I did, however, detect from the Prime Minister’s interview with David Speers a change in policy direction.”

But if we are trying to limit the increase in emissions to 1 1/2 % and Indications are that the frequency of major weather events links them to climate change. What if we reach 3%?

No definitive answer emerged from this question other than a discussion that I will touch on later.

My final question was:

What affect would a Royal Commission into the fires or drought or Climate Change have on your organisation?

Administratively, you mean?

Yes.

“Well depending on the terms of reference I imagine we might be called but to what degree I couldn’t be sure.”

I found after listening to Amanda’s answers to my questions and our general conversation that the matters I raised in my original piece were unquestionably without foundation.

As is often the case, there isn’t always controversy at the end of every story.

With any chance of some Facebook conspiracy theory laid to rest I found that I wanted to do what I could to publicise the work of the AIDR, which has a foundation in community involvement.

As I said earlier, what I had intended as a formal interview became more of discussion about adaptation and resilience.

On a meagre budget the amount of work the AIDR do is formidable, from education in schools, research, supporting emergency service agencies, non-government organisations, universities and researchers, production of handbooks and educating volunteers.

Climate Change is real and even at the lowest levels of increased emissions our resilience and how we adapt to it will form a vital, if not essential, part of change.

These two words, adaptation and resilience that seem to have suddenly entered the vocabulary of every conservative politician, invite further exploration by everyone.

On its website the AIDR has a comprehensive Knowledge Hub together with education for kids with a volunteer leadership program. It also has a number of booklets on various subjects for sale.

An example of AIDR’s effectiveness is shown by the fact that 11 years ago 173 people lost their lives in the Black Saturday fires. Since then, science and research has informed our knowledge to create more prepared and resilient communities for the future.

It is notable that in our current season that with significant developments in warnings and a more aware and responsive community appear to be important factors.

Build Back Better” is the current catchphrase:

“The use of the recovery, rehabilitation and reconstruction phases after a disaster to increase the resilience of nations and communities through integrating disaster risk reduction measures into the restoration of physical infrastructure and societal systems, and into the revitalization of livelihoods, economies and the environment.

The term “societal” will not be interpreted as a political system of any country.“

A planet subject to ever increasing heat will result in intensified drought, declining water supplies because of reduced rainfall, reduced agricultural yields, and health impacts to both humans and animals and of course more bush fires and floods.

Also impacted will be our primary industries like forestry and fisheries.

Livestock and many animals will be at greater risk of heat stress, reducing livestock productivity and reproductive rates.

Food productivity will suffer from crop failures caused by crop destruction or failures, and the social unrest and mental health problems caused by food shortages, potential loss of habitable land, and prolonged uncertainty.

Continued climate change will have far-reaching impacts upon our society and will necessitate great change. The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience and their research partners like the AFAC, CFA, Australian Red Cross and the CSIRO are at the forefront of what these changes will require from us; or indeed what we will need to change in order to survive.

Some of the problems mentioned are already evidenced in the frequency of major events we are currently experiencing.

My conversation with Amanda had to end sometime and I still have much to learn to pass onto my grandchildren.

But the big question for me remains:

How do you adapt to an ever-worsening climate while we are simultaneously pursuing policies that are accelerating warming?

As she said, that question is for the politicians. Should they allow a 3% rise in emissions then a great deal of resilience and adaptation will be required from my grandchildren.

Further reading

A useful article from the recent AJEM article that frames the meaning of resilience.

The Australian Disaster Resilience Handbook collection provides guidance  on national principles and practices for disaster resilience.

AIDR runs the Education for Young People program with a vision of creating a disaster resilient nation. You can join the Network here.

*Amanda is a community development and engagement professional who has provided leadership and strategic direction in the planning, implementation and delivery of programs in complex environments.

With 20 years’ experience in the emergency management and community sectors, Amanda led the community development area for the Country Fire Authority in Victoria. Joining AFAC (The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council) in 2009, she was appointed Director Community Safety in 2013, where she provided strategic advice in relation to risk reduction, community safety and warnings.

In 2019 Amanda was appointed as Executive Director of the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR), an operating division of AFAC.

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You cannot be a leader and a bare-faced liar at the same time

It was marketed as his first key note address for the year. Any good marketing person, given that he really had things of great importance to confide in with the citizens of the nation, wouldn’t allow it to be hijacked by other problems his government was facing.

Well unless he had little to confide in and would rather be questioned just about the “Sports Rorts” scandal.

So bad had been its governance and such a shock had its win at the election been that drawing any attention to its ineffectiveness would make it look even worse.

Never in the history of this nation has a government been so unfit to serve, and never in the history of this nation has its people been so indoctrinated with so much propaganda that they, in effect, discarded any sense of levelheadedness or reasoning to re elect this sordid lot of corrupt politicians.

And yet again I am compelled to watch Prime Minister Scott Morrison, the one with the mouth that weaves its way in and out of problems with all the charm and vigour of a rattlesnake ready to strike, and thus my writing may be intoxicated with the venom of his untruth and lies.

In other words, I wouldn’t believe a word he says.

I shall, however, with the greatest respect for fairness and truth try to report fairly on the words spoken.

These were my feelings before the Prime Ministers address to the National Press Club and the nation.

A large part of the Prime Ministers speech addressed the subject of “disaster resilience” but again he never mentioned the AIDR.

The Conversation reminds us that:

 “In 2017 the government axed funding for the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF), an agency that provides information to decision-makers on how best to manage the risks of climate change and sea level rise.”

And The Australia Institute tweeted:

 

As only he can, the Prime Minister sold his government’s performance as one of astonishing success where ministers were performing brilliantly. His capacity to leave out facts of great importance is astonishing.

Try these, courtesy of Sydney Criminal Lawyers as an example:

Hundreds of small businesses around the nation are bearing the cost of supporting the nation through these times, while big multi-national corporations get away with paying minimal or no tax.

Many farmers can’t feed their stock, some have given up. Fruit and vegetable producers are going bankrupt.

This is all contrary to the picture the Prime Minister painted. Once again he repeated his lies about meeting our emissions targets and later when asked a question about the combined nations of 1.4 emissions equalling 40% of total emissions he looked dumbfounded at the questioner as though it wasn’t possible. But it is true.

Deputy leader of the opposition Richard Marles countered with these remarks:

“We are not on target to meet our Kyoto targets … we are not on track to meet the commitments on the Paris accord,” he said.

“The global assessment of Australia is that we are ranked right at the bottom on the terms of climate change.

“I think the Australian people can now see through the fact this is a prime minister who lies.”

Morrison, in all his righteousness, hit back: “Australia is carrying its load and more,” he said on climate change, adding:

“We are doing what you would expect a country like Australia to do but what I won’t do is this: I am not going to sell out Australians – I am not going to sell out Australians based on the calls from some to put higher taxes on them or push up their electricity prices or to abandon their jobs and their industries and them they are collateral damage of a global movement.

These words smack of a constant theme in conservative commentary. A conspiracy theory.

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.

He was in good form. So much so that if you didn’t know better you would think that we lived in a Utopia beyond compare.

There was no mention of a grand plan to take the nation forward into the years beyond our understanding; of the dangers or indeed the enlightenment we might discover.

It was the same old Morrison bombastic speech where the lips moved at a remarkable speed but had little to inspire. It was a defense of everything his party had done or was doing. What a great nation we are he was telling us despite the view around the world..

He focused on two issues. The first was the Commonwealth’s role in national emergencies in which he raised some practical issues, and the second was National Mitigation Adaptation and Resilience Program for worsening climate change.

He also said that:

“… the summer’s bushfire crisis had proven the need for greater flexibility in calling out the Defence Force to assist in responding to emergencies.”

Something that will be discussed, I’m sure, at the next COAG meeting.

It means that it’s – for this government at least – easier to give up on lowering our emissions, be resilient and adapt to whatever comes our way.

And then came question time. The journalists were chafing at the bit. They new what they were there for and those like me knew why we were watching.

We had been grossly misled about the use of our money for political campaigning.

The first came from Sabra Lane, the President of the Press Club.

She asked the Prime Minister to reflect on his own performance during the bush fire crisis. He didn’t bother to answer. He waffled on incoherently about something else and by the time he had finished I think Lane had forgotten that she had asked a question.

A lie by omission.

Mark Riley was second in line and in an acknowledgement of the gravity of the scandal rather emotionally asked Scott Morrison:

“Can you say categorically your office had nothing to do with this, no involvement in the construction of this rort?”

Morrison assured Riley that both he and his department were at all times at arms length, which of course didn’t explain why cabinet a few weeks prior to the election increased the funding by an extra $40 million.

We now know that, with the leaking of incriminating emails to be an outrageous lie.

A lie by omission.

Make no mistake, even if no rules were broken this is corruption of the highest order. It was the corruption of the public purse to advantage the Coalition’s political campaigning.

And underlying what is really concerning them is the possible resurgence of Barnaby Joyce.

The ABC’s Andrew Probyn followed with Senator McKenzie’s coloured charts in hand for all to see, asked if there would be no further slush funds, Mr Morrison replied:

“Well Andrew, I’ll put your editorial to one side and your commentary on it, that’s your view…” and proceeded to ignore the question.

A lie by omission

Michelle Grattan – the Doyen of Australian political journalism – asked about who was better qualified to make decisions the public servants or politicians. Unequivocally Morrison answered it had to be ministers.

He must have thought that public servants were less human than politicians.

Bullshitting is bad enough but when someone believes their own, that is intellectual dishonesty.

When The Guardian’s Sarah Martin turn to ask a question came around she asked if there was nothing wrong as a matter of principle in using public funds for political interests and entrenching the government’s power, Morrison gave her two answers: “I just reject the premise of your question” and a “you can have an editorial on it”

Lying by omission

When it came to the ABC’s Laura Tingle to have a go she ventured into wondering what was the point of having guidelines if they were not followed. She is still wondering because he didn’t answer.

Lying by omission.

Ms Tingle also asked as to who knew what and when at the very top of the government – by asking how Cabinet on March 3 thought an extra $42.5 million could be properly spent as time ran out before the approaching election.

Guess what? Another lie by omission.

So confident with his answers was the Prime Minister that at the end of it he wanted more.

I said at the beginning that you couldn’t believe a word he said.

What further evidence do you need? And just where this “you can have an editorial on it” new verbal reply to journalists comes from is a mystery, let alone what it actually means.

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

You wouldn’t trust him or his ministers as far as you could throw them. The Prime Minister is a masterful liar to those who see through him, but he must sound like the Messiah to those who don’t.

(Note: I have something further to add to my post of last week titled Asking Peter Dutton in which I mentioned the entity of The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) and questioned its relationship to government and who it was that funded them.

Well, I was contacted via The AIM by the Executive Directors assistant of this entity and as a consequence was invited to interview her next Thursday, February 6).

My thought for the day

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that that enables human progress.

 

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Until death us do part

On 26 February I will turn 79, leaving me with but one year to achieve the average life span of the Australian male.

Given the assembly of the many different coloured tablets – each with its own purpose – that confront me morning and night, I’m confident of achieving this milestone.

It is surprising to me just how little interest people take in their death given they didn’t have any opportunity to do so in their birth.

These words are not meant to be pessimistic or morose, even humorous, but more to the point, they are simply about the process of death.

Truth be known people of my vintage ask themselves how many more times they will be called to vote. How many grand kid’s birthdays will I see, or grand finals, tennis opens, Melbourne Cups and others I have never missed? How many more articles for The AIMN?

We are not inclined to talk about death until we are face-to-face with it, and even then we try to push it away in the forlorn hope that it might be postponed.

Ask us to come up with stories about our birth and we will produce countless second-hand versions of family memories handed down.

Death is not the mystery it is made out to be. It is simply the reverse of the other mystery we call birth.

Death is a more remote thing. We allow it to hide from us until we have to talk to it.

Then when we are forced to ask questions about it in the quietness of self-reflection or with a friend, or relative, we find ourselves lacking any previous experience.

Can you remember your first experience of loss? When death first appeared in your life with any consequence. When your emotion stirred with an unexplained forfeiture. When you couldn’t marry death and loss together; what it looked like, what it was and how you should react to it.

Only when we face it with some experience of loss can we truly understand it. But the anxiety of it is something we carry with us all of our living days.

We never confront it until it becomes an immediate barrier to our living. Some older folk push it away, kidding themselves that it is a never-ending story.

People of faith have the promise of another and better life but not all are necessarily filled with conviction.

To be told that the life we are living is a forerunner or introduction to better one serves only to devalue the one we have.

In my own journey, I think about it a lot and try to put it into some sort of context that gives me an understanding of the why of it. But I struggle with my logic versus my emotion.

I guess I’m trying to understand the difference between the purpose of life and the reason for it.

I believe that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

After a lifetime of observation I have concluded that the purpose of life is about procreation and as to the reason for it, well, put simply, there doesn’t, when you think about it, need to be one.

Life has been to me a series of questions that after examination have an explanation or they don’t and are quickly replaced with another series. Such is the enormity of our experience.

I don’t want this “shock horror” thinking that usually comes with the sudden death of a loved one. The “why” of it often has no enlightenment.

The process is important to me and I want my family to understand my life, my family, its disappointments, its grace, its inner sanctum of love, its worth, its challenges and its termination. Although they have experienced much of it already.

If you are looking for the ultimate expression of the purity of love, there is no better place to look than in the sanctity of what we call motherhood.

Most families are ill-prepared for the death of a loved one because they don’t think or talk about it. Of course, the suddenness of one’s departure or illness or accident cannot prevent this, but generally speaking, we know where the destination of longevity is headed.

The manner in which people die are so variable that we have no way of pre-empting it but as we approach life’s conclusion we should give thought to those things that would better prepare your family for your death.

Forgiveness might play an important part of the process, as might the expression of love.

If you don’t explain your legacy, how you wish to be remembered, to your family then you don’t do your life, the living of it, any justice, you would have lived it in vain even devalued its importance.

Take the time to casually talk to your family about your death, how you wish to die and your after death desires for your funeral.

People of faith may want to reconcile with their maker or just put things right and this can be confusing for the non-believer who in my view should just let it go without judgement.

For sure, it might help them resolve the missing gaps they may have in their thoughts about you.

For some, death can be long-suffering or sudden and shocking. Not everyone ends up in palliative care a hospital bed or their own.

For me, the less fuss the better. I have had that conversation with my wife.

My thought for the day

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

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The Coalition makes a miserable start to 2020

With January almost done and dusted the Coalition’s form over the past six and a bit years has shown no signs of improvement.

Sincerely, I would much rather be writing about the remarkable advancements the government has made since Scott Morrison came to power. I would gladly take it on the chin and congratulate his work.

About how when he took the reins of the leadership of our nation that he confronted the climate change deniers of his party in the best Whitlamesque “crash through or crash” style of leadership – won the day for the nation and now governs for the common good.

But alas, I cannot. The story is as sad as it is true. It is an ongoing seemingly never-ending narrative of poor leadership that has no vision, no goals that long for completion and no truth that the people can trust.

I would like to say that they have a blueprint, a narrative that inspires me to follow a leader I can have faith in, who has the nation in his heart.

Again, I cannot.

What they are good at is producing advertisements that falsely sing their own praises no matter the wickedness of what they have done.

I and others who write for The AIMN, over many years now have repeatedly explored the incompetence of the Coalition partners.

“Good government starts tomorrow,” said Tony Abbott in 2014. It never did. In fact, it has gotten progressively worse since to the point where the latest polls reflect the electorates current disdain for Scott Morrison’s leadership.

It has been and will be for the duration of its tenure a government lacking in confidence, without having their heart in it given they never expected to win the last election. Nor can it improve given the quality of its leadership, its outmoded economics and its untrustworthiness.

Never be burdened by the negativity of others. Wear positivity as if your life depended on it.

The worry is the time a new government, whenever it is elected, will take to restore any semblance of what we know of good governance, Our memories might have faded so much by then that its meaning might leave us altogether.

I can now confidently predict that spin of the political kind will start to emerge about the reasons why the government is now unable to produce a budget surplus. The fires burnt it all. Was it going to happen? Well, we will never will. Convenient, isn’t it?

The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments, for many and differing reasons, have been a complete and utter failure. Why?

The main problem is that the team is full of highly-educated people who have been in the game for so long that they know nothing other than the negativity they have inherited from previous leaders.

They have a fear of doing the right thing, as is the case of Minister Bridget McKenzie’s pork barrelling distribution of funds to sporting clubs prior to the last election. That she was wrong to do so is beyond dispute but to admit it would be against the principle of fake news.

Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I know a lot. Then I realise that in the totality of things, I know little. One thing I am certain of however is that there are known facts in the world because science proves them.

Seriously though, Labor is correct. This is exactly the sort of thing they suggest that should go before a National Integrity Commission.

Probably because they thought they would lose the election this effort at deception was particularly brazen. It was nothing less than using taxpayer money for campaign funding.

The Prime Minister, in this instance, isn’t immune to charges that he would have known. After all, he did the announcements on a daily basis.

Twenty-four years ago Labor’s Ros Kelly did a similar thing and resigned from the ministry. McKenzie should do the same.

Having the ability to admit that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.

The only man I know who could possibly talk underwater was sadly out of form during the first month of the year. His leadership during the current bushfire crisis left a lot to be desired and this reflected itself in a large drop in the polls.

His woeful leadership doesn’t include a thought for the possibility of being wrong or the capacity to tell others of his own ilk they are.

It is in this inflexibility that we may see him lose his job during the course of a year that may have profound consequences for the citizens of this great land.

Speaking of leadership, the National Party itself demonstrates the dearth of talent we have in our country. The only candidate the party could come up with to replace Barnaby Joyce (a renegade politician with an obsession for the ownership of self-righteousness) was Michael McCormack who seems to suffer from foot in mouth disease an aversion to gay people and any socially progressive decisions made post his birth date.

During January the two most obnoxious politicians in the parliament; George (have you met my wife) Christiansen and Craig (if I cannot say it here I will fly to England to do so) Kelly continued to promote coal as opposed to common sense.

The Minister for Things including the NDIS, Stuart Robert (the man with the biggest NBN bills in the land) had the affront to claim that no one had died waiting for the scheme, despite the agency saying more than 1,200 people have died before they received a scheme plan and the prime minister describing those same figures as “unacceptable”. Go figure that one.

And while all this was happening Peter Dutton was nowhere to be found. “Let him stew in his own mess” probably preoccupied his thoughts as Morrison slugged it out in the heat of unwanted flames.

Or maybe he was privately talking about resilience and just how much the Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) develops, maintains and shares knowledge and learning to support a disaster resilient Australia.

Or his absence might mean he is busy congratulating those asylum seekers who are this year entering their 8th year of forced incarceration for never having committed a crime.

There was one reason to take some joy from the first month of the New Year. It was that James and Kathryn Murdoch were quoted as saying:

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial of the role of climate change among the news outlets in Australia, given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

They, of course, were referring to the overwhelming evidence that all Murdoch news outlets in Australia were to a large degree biased against climate heating and heavily biased toward the right of the political spectrum.

My Thought for the Day

Everyone has a choice. You can either whinge about the issues or do something about them.

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As prophetic as I may be

1 I don’t see myself as being particularly gifted in prophetic wisdom, but on at least three occasions in 2019 I said that it would take an event of catastrophic proportion to wake the Australian population from its malaise over climate heating.

That it has happened gives no pleasure to my words. That they make for a catalyst for action does.

The unsurprising drop in Scott Morrison’s approval rating confirms my prediction that the public mood for action is as hot as the flames that have caused so much devastation.

Although the Prime Minister is still insisting on a no-change policy it is as obvious as the nose on one’s face that he will have to move with the mood or get run over by a bus.

The Prime Minister’s interview with David Speers did nothing to change my view that he and his government are guilty of the greatest incompetence.

Every word he uttered that referred to environmental problems we needed to overcome are ones that could have been acted on two years ago.

Various warnings were thrust upon a deaf-eared government. Finally, at least the public knows that Morrison and his predecessors have been lying by omission about the carbon credits for almost a decade.

Four points:

(i) The PM has at long admitted that he intends using carry over credits to meet our targets. If he does so the rest of the world will view us as cheats. The credits are 50 per cent of our target. Why had he not mentioned the credits in years past?

Again, it’s called lying by omission.

It is unfortunate but fitting that the Australian government is now scorned and reviled around the world. It’s a unique achievement that only conservatives could pull off.

(ii) If the credits are not allowed, and this is highly likely, then we will not reach our targets and the rest of the world will view us as no better than Trump’s US. Deservedly so.

(iii) Using the “We only produce 1.3 per cent emissions” argument doesn’t cut it either. All the countries around this figure in total form one third of the world’s emissions.

Imagine being part of that group and doing nothing.

(iv) Nor will the excuse of damaging the economy or losing jobs. The opposite is the truth. There are more jobs and economic pluses in an economy that takes advantage of renewable energy.

I have been espousing these points for 7 years now but coal always seems to get in the way.

The disaster that has been the recent bush fires might also have been the catalyst for some truth telling about Rupert Murdoch’s News Corps lying media.

That the Fourth Estate as the custodians of the public’s right to know might act responsibly and report fact and not just express biased opinion.

2 Anyone who has had the misfortune of reading any Murdoch masthead or watched Sky News would be sympathetic too to the views published last week of the younger Murdoch and daughter in law regarding climate heating and the companies reporting of the subject.

James and Kathryn Murdoch are quoted as saying that:

“They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial of the role of climate change among the news outlets in Australia, given obvious evidence to the contrary.”

Anyone that has a capacity for thinking would know that Murdoch journalists, opinion makers, editors and news presenters would know that Murdoch media has been misrepresenting the science of climate change for as long as I can remember.

Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

Recently News Corp commercial finance manager Emily Townsend who resigned in December gave Murdoch a serve for spreading “misinformation” about climate change.

Walking out the door she sent an email:

“I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate change denial and lies,” the email said.

“The reporting I have witnessed in The Australian, the Daily Telegraph and the Herald Sun is not only irresponsible, but dangerous and damaging to our communities and beautiful planet that needs us more than ever now to acknowledge the destruction we have caused and start doing something about it.”

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.

Media Watch on 9 September 2013 gave us a snap shot of what Rupert Murdoch did for Tony Abbott. They reported that:

“The final tally of (the Daily Telegraph’s) coverage in the election campaign stacks up like this. Out of a total of 293 political stories we scored only six as pro Labor. While 43 were pro coalition. On the negative side there were just five articles that we judged to be anti-coalition. While a remarkable 134 were anti Labor.”

That summary takes no account of the front page splashes that ridiculed Labor, day after day. Or the coverage by Murdoch’s other papers outside Sydney.

In the media – generally speaking – balancing a proposition (the amount of space you give it) is attributable to the volume of evidence each side of the debate brings to the table. When 95% of Climate Scientists say we have a problem one would expect that their argument would deserve the greater exposure.

To do otherwise is to display a bias for whatever reason. In his quarterly essay “Bad News,” Robert Manne analysed climate change articles printed by The Australian newspaper between January 2004 and April 2011 and found that 700 articles were “unfavorable” to action on climate change. Balanced against these 700 articles, there were 180 stories and columns ‘favorable’ to action on climate change.

That is, they disagreed with the consensus of climate science, didn’t support Australia’s ratification of the Kyoto protocol or didn’t support previous governments’ steps towards a carbon-trading scheme.

Murdoch is responsible for this and it continues today. The Australian some time back had to write a correction and then a retraction on misrepresenting the latest IPCC report where the paper deliberately and falsely reported the data and findings. The Australian in their retraction stated the errors were due to errors in their production process.

Then of course we have Andrew Bolt; that champion of all things contentious. A Murdoch man through and through. Global warming denial is his speciality and he has been writing rubbish about it for years, in spite of the fact that on a few occasions his dishonesty has been revealed he still commands an enormous Murdoch audience.

Shock Jock Alan Jones also has been made to retract lies on this subject and when he has done so increased his audience. Brainwashing is indeed their forte.

And so we have a landslide of anti-science propaganda from all around the world. From religion, from the media, big business, self-interest groups, the mining industry and neo-conservatives from the lunatic fringe of right-wing politics.

“Why is it so?” Prof Julius Sumner Miller once asked.

Murdoch is the supreme commander of the troops. It would be naïve to think that Murdoch isn’t expecting something in return for his support. It may not be spelt out but it will be implied.

We don’t need science to be hijacked by the likes of this boorish primordial example of capitalistic gluttony.

My thought for the day

The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow.

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Asking Peter Dutton …

A couple of days ago I received this message from a Facebook friend:

“Hi John, Part of the bloated Dutton budget is spent on this group [AIDR]. Young Peter has been strangely silent of late so may be an appropriate time to highlight his expertise.”

A Google search and it tells me that:

The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) develops, maintains and shares knowledge and learning to support a disaster resilient Australia.

So why haven’t we heard about this institute before or during the course of this ongoing disaster? What is the reason for its existence, and why does it come under the umbrella of Peter Dutton’s department?

What is their total funding and what is it spent on? With a bit of checking I find out that it is funded by the by the Attorneys General’s Department. “Now that’s a bit strange,” I think to myself.

One of a few web pages in their name describes their function:

“The Australian Institute for Disaster Resilience (AIDR) develops, maintains and shares knowledge and learning to support a disaster resilient Australia. Building on extensive knowledge and experience in Australia and internationally, we work with government, communities, NGOs, not-for-profits, research organisations, education partners and the private sector to enhance disaster resilience through innovative thinking, professional development and knowledge sharing.

AIDR is supported by its partners: the Australian Government Department of Home Affairs, AFAC, the Australian Red Cross and the Bushfire & Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.”

I asked myself; if the government has a department already functioning for the purpose of disaster resilience why is there this sudden reactive flurry for the need of more information?

The site has a link that includes an Annual Report but it doesn’t list any financials.

It also links to one of its partners The Department of Home Affairs.

“The Department of Home Affairs is a central policy agency, providing coordinated strategy and policy leadership for Australia’s national and transport security, federal law enforcement, criminal justice, cyber security, border, immigration, multicultural affairs, emergency management, and trade-related functions.”

Turning our attention back to Peter Dutton, is he hiding a secret? Perish the thought and bite your tongue. Interesting too that Twiggy’s $70M is actually $10M, plus $10M to his private foundation and $50M to duplicate the stated raison d’etre of the AIDR

What was strange, however, was that in this article by Sarah McPhee Twiggy uses the word “resilience” twice.

“We know that this is a matter of national resilience,” Mr Forrest told reporters in Perth today.

“This goes to a holistic assessment of where the nation is at and what we need to do to improve resilience.”

There is also this sentence:

“In addition, he will provide $10 million through the couple’s Minderoo Foundation to build a “volunteer army” to deploy to regions devastated by bushfires and another $10 million for communities in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross, the Salvation Army and other agencies on the ground.”

Note that the same agencies are mentioned on multiple occasions.

AIDR is funded by the Commonwealth Attorney General’s Department through Emergency Management Australia, managed by AFAC and supported by the Australian Red Cross and Bushfire & Natural Hazards CRC. (From the 2016-2017 AIDR Annual Report).

Why does this word “resilience” keep popping up?

Yet another google search takes me to another AIDR page sub-headed “Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub.”

There are a number of web pages all dealing with the work of the AIDR and I’m wondering why this is necessary.

The only place I can find money mentioned is on page that mentions the doubling of funding by the Turnbull government. They get an extra $1million.

The Knowledge Hub page tells us that:

“Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub. The Knowledge Hub is a national, open-source platform that supports and informs policy, planning, decision-making and contemporary good practice in disaster resilience”

“This goes to a holistic assessment of where the nation is at and what we need to do to improve resilience.”

Then when I read Kaye Lee’s piece for The AIMN in which she talks about Twiggy Foresters conditional $70 million donation and the formation of a volunteer group I notice that the AIDR are forming a volunteer group in WA. Is this the same thing, I ask myself?

“The Volunteer Leadership Program (VLP) equips emergency sector volunteers with the skills and confidence to grow as leaders. The VLP experience is immersive and collaborative, bringing together volunteers from different organisations and agencies to build knowledge and share experiences with each other. The program explores practical leadership frameworks through interactive learning, and participants gain both self-awareness and an enhanced ability to understand and contribute to their organisations.“

Now it must be connected, I say to myself, but why the secrecy? Why is the AIDR never mentioned but the Prime Minister uses the word resilience in every interview? As he did with David Speers.

Another thing I find rather odd is that the site never mentions any names. Surely the NIDR has a chairperson, a committee or some form of management.

But for some reason it appears to be a faceless organisation. And why is their no mention of the current crisis on their web site?

There are so many questions that require answers but I have reached a dead end.

Yet I remain convinced that there is something shonky about all of this.

Could it be that the government will award an amount of money, matched by Twiggy’s donation to this obscure voluntary organisation?

Shades of the Barrier Reef Foundation. Anyway, I have gone as far as I can go with it …

Then as I’m about to close I find this on the John Menadue’s Pearls and Irritations. Again the word “resilience” pops up.

The article is dated 13 January and written by Abul Rizvi.

Where have Dutton and Pezzullo been hiding?

The culpability of Dutton and Pezzullo for the bushfire crisis.

Peter Dutton is the senior minister responsible for the Home Affairs portfolio that includes Emergency Management Australia (EMA). EMA is a division of the Department of Home Affairs whose Secretary is Mike Pezzullo. EMA says its role is to “build a disaster resilient Australia that prevents, prepares, responds and recovers from disasters and emergencies”. Thus in their empire building, Dutton and Pezzullo took on responsibility for preventing and preparing Australia for these bushfires. So why the eerie silence from both of them?”

Now we have two identities working on this resilience. EMA and AIDR, and both under the control of Peter Dutton.

Yet another Google search reveals a volunteer group known as the Australian Emergency Management Volunteer Forum, and guess what? A representative from Home Affairs attends their meetings and the Commonwealth Department of Home Affairs provides secretariat support to the AEMVF.

This all goes beyond any coincidence, but I cannot put my finger on it.

My thought for the day

We see what we are thinking and feeling; seldom what we are looking at.

 

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The baggage they have lugged from one year to the next means 2020 will be a hard slog (part 4)

In Part 1 my focus, in the main, was on “Global Heating” and the lies being told to justify the government’s denial of the problem. The government’s denials has been with us for over a decade now and it is difficult to comprehend how educated men and women can be stupid enough to allow such a catastrophe to occur when it is in their power to do something about it.

In Part 2 I concentrated on a return to trust and transparency in our governance.

In Part 3 I talked about the lack of leadership in our country and in Part 4 I’m talking about the actual baggage list. So here we go.

1 “One-third of Australia’s largest companies paid no corporate tax last year despite the total tax take increasing by more than $6.6 billion.” What is the government going to do about it?

“The tax office doesn’t name the companies but all were able to deduct their profits from previous years’ losses, reported an accounting loss, or claimed deductions such as research and development”

All it does is create an enormous tax burden on the honest companies who pay their share.

Having proposed tax cuts to big business how does the Prime Minister explain so many of them not paying any?

Samantha Dick in The New Daily writes of wage theft:

“Celebrity chefs pinned over wage theft scandals included former Masterchef judge George Calombaris, Rockpool Dining’s Neil Perry, British chef Heston Blumenthal, French-born chef Guillaume Brahimi and Australian pastry king Adriano Zumbo.”

She reports also that companies doing the same were Woolworths, Sunglass Hut, Commonwealth Bank. Domino’s, ABC, Quantas, Super Retail Group, Michael Hill and Bunnings.

2 Julian Burnside in The Saturday Paper 21/12/19) on The Secret Trial of Witness J:

“The underlying criminal case against Witness J remains a mystery to the public. In the Senate on November 28, 2019, the minister representing Attorney-General Christian Porter refused to provide any details about the case. That Witness J was charged and sentenced in secrecy is scandalous in a country that purports to be a democracy. It is also a serious warning to all of us, raising the risk that Australia is quietly becoming authoritarian.” (My bold).

3 Didn’t the Prime Minister promise a form of federal ICAC as part of his election campaign? Whatever happened to it?

4 The election narrative of “jobs and growth” seems to have dropped by the wayside now that the unemployment figures are rising. With school leavers about to hit the jobs market unemployment will be a pain in the backside for the government this year.

“November’s figures from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) show Australia’s jobless rate has snuck up to 5.32%. That’s up from 4.98% last December and 5.25% in June,” writes Alan Austin.

He continues:

“The number of workers aged 15 to 24 now unemployed is 275,500, the highest in 20 months. The youth jobless rate is now 12.4% which ranks 20th in the OECD. This is also the lowest ranking on record.”

5 Conservatives have never been sympathetic to the arts. Even though they sell more tickets than the AFL, NRL and the BBL combined.

And they employ more people than the mining industry.

Art in all its forms is but a reflection of the society in which we live and should be encouraged, not relegated. The arts will not take their demise lying down reciting Shakespeare.

6 The issue of political donations wont bury its head in the sand in 2020. A shake-up of political donation laws is well overdue, including real-time disclosures and to curb the potential for foreign influence in order to protect Australia’s democracy from manipulation.

7 A report into how Question Time can be improved is due to be released but don’t expect anything that might disadvantage the government.

8 Will 2020 disclose just what the secret deal was with Jacqui Lambie to repeal Medevac? It would have to be a worthwhile proposition in order take away people’s proper medical treatment.

9 It has been suggested that the Government will have to write down the value of the National Broadband Network, however Finance Minister Mathias Cormann says they have no intention of doing so.

Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s has issued warnings that the value of its investment in the national broadband network is under threat from 5G mobile technology, saying that it will eventually supersede its hybrid technology.

The problem with designing a network to meet the needs of today is that it denies you the ability to meet the needs of tomorrow.

10 Did you know that 2020 would, for some asylum seekers, be the beginning of year 7 of their incarceration for not even having committed a crime?

Will Dutton now continue with his wild almost crazy assertions that Labor will allow the boats to return if they win the next election?

And they say that Dutton is a future leader. Wow.

11 Further to my previous post, Angus Taylor has been referred to the AFP but given their record on investigating these sorts of things one wouldn’t be confident they would find anything.

12 The lack of funding for the NDIS will continue to be a thorn in the government’s side as will its failure with Robodebt. You can expect more agitation from our First Nations peoples over The Uluru Statement, but water theft will be forgotten. New ideas for the common good will not arise until the next election and any hope of a Morrison legacy will have passed us by.

Conclusion

In Scott Morrison’s Australia everyday citizens are not supposed to protest those things we know to be unfair. The things we know to be wrong. We are not supposed to object when government doesn’t meet our expectations. Workers cannot strike for better conditions.

Nor are we supposed to protest our inability to see or obtain information about the workings of government.

Free speech is in rapid decline. People who report government wrongdoing are castigated and worst of all, government propaganda is seeking to change the way we think.

The absence of empathy is being replaced with narcissistic self-importance.

The Coalition contains some of the most outstanding liars, propagandists and hypocrites our Parliament has ever seen, including the Prime Minister. Is it possible the punters might, in 2020, see through them?

This chilling act of self-promotion was evidenced when the Prime Minister authorised a social media advertisement outlining the government’s actions in response to the bushfire crisis.

My thought for the day

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.

Have I mentioned the state of the economy? Oh well. you know the state it is in.

In spite of doubling our debt the economy is being promoted as being in good shape by the Murdoch media. That’s not the truth of course.

While you are at it think about these:

  • No world leading NBN.
  • No carbon price.
  • No booming alternative energy industry.
  • No Gonski scale school funding.
  • A weakened NDIS.
  • No republic.
  • Damaged relations with China and our region.
  • Subservience to the fascist Trump.
  • Wage stagnation.
  • Attacks on multiculturalism.
  • Attacks on welfare for the poor and vulnerable.
  • Massive tax cuts for the wealthiest Australians and foreign corporations.
  • Attempts to undermine Medicare.
  • More expensive university degrees.
  • $500 million cuts to university budgets and research.
  • Shrinking home ownership.
  • Everyday cost of living up.
  • Higher debt.

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The baggage they have lugged from one year to the next means 2020 will be a hard slog (part 3)

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

The combined intelligence of Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison has resulted in almost 7 years of the most appalling leadership. The country has carried their baggage for far too long.

Leadership is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of life and grow over time. Character governs moral choices and demonstrates empathy toward others. It is far better for those with these qualities to lead rather than follow.

It is known as servant leadership.

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

1 With Michael (what’s his name) proving to be not a leader’s bootlace and the National Party unrepresentative of country folk it’s difficult to see what sort of a future it or he has.

At some time in 2020 a National Party leadership challenge will take place.

Having said that, Australia has suffered from a dearth of leadership since the times of Bob Hawke. Howard may have given us longevity but with him came an incapacity to fathom immigration, Tampa, the Iraq war and a total lack of empathy for Indigenous Australians.

Rudd, like Turnbull, had a giant intellect but couldn’t see beyond his ego. With it came an inability to make courageous decisions. The exception being his Sorry speech to the Stolen Generation.

Julia Gillard had all the attributes of leadership, courage, empathy, determined with willingness to delegate and compromise. She however, could never overcome Rupert Murdoch’s resolve to be rid of her. The sexism thrown at her by the likes of Bolt, Jones and Abbott was a dark period in Australian political history.

When Malcolm “the velvet fog” Turnbull came along everyone breathed a sigh of relief that he had replaced the much-hated Tony Abbott. He was nicknamed so because of his, polished manner and suave sophistication. People thought, myself included, that at last some reason, dignity and transparency would come to debate within the body politic.

Alas, we had all been conned by the supreme snake oil salesman who later proved to be the biggest hypocrite in Australian political history. He had thrown previous convictions out with the bathwater.

John Hewson had this to say of Tony Abbott:

”I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard.”

”He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period.”

Of course, if Turnbull was a hypocrite then his predecessor had to be the greatest liar ever to have walked the halls of the parliament. His self-confessed lies are verifiable. He throws them around like confetti at a windy wedding, but the fact is that he couldn’t get away with it forever.

The leap from foul-mouthed, shirt-fronting misogynist and democracy destroyer to dignified Prime Minister was simply a step too far and he was an abysmal failure.

Our current Prime Minister – based on recent behaviour – seems to have been advised to seek a personality transplant urgently.

Nobody wants to be true to who they are anymore.

Now I’m not privy to who has given him this advice but it seems rather odd that any Prime Minister would want to develop the persona of a quick talking vacuum cleaner door-to-door salesman of the 1940s.

The series of bad decisions Scott Morrison is currently displaying has been a bad look giving way to questions of his credibility. People who once thought his credibility real and his Christianity authentic are now questioning his persona.

Currently Scott Morrison is looking and sounding like a middle-aged country bumpkin driving around outback Australia trying to convince everyone that he is something he is not.

People just find it difficult to reconcile their perception of how a Christian acts, with what Scott Morrison does in relation to asylum seekers. The two seen incompatible to most people. In short, he is a chameleon.

Scott Morrison is renowned for his hyperbolic embellishment of everything. He delivers it with all the magnification of a charismatic preacher. Facts don’t matter so long as perceptions are created.

Lying is justified if the theology demands it. Defend your teaching by saying the others are evil.

2 After watching Scott Morrison’s 22 December press conference after his embarrassing return from leave l have to say that he wasn’t the least bit impressive.

One thing I did conclude though was that sympathy doesn’t come naturally to the him.

3 The grant handed to the church where he attends fellowships “Horizon Church” in Sutherland, is intended to “protect children” from “religious intolerance.”

4 The question as to why the White House refused Hillsong Pastor Houston an invitation together with our Prime Minister still remains a mystery. Morrison’s refusal to answer only adds to his already long list of bizarre decisions. Transparency please.

5 Barnaby Joyce, who still sees himself as the natural leader of the Nationals, seems intent on making matters worse by dismissing science and invoking a higher order:

“And the other thing we’ve got to acknowledge is there’s a higher authority that’s beyond our comprehension – right up there in the sky – and unless we understand that it’s got to be respected, then we’re just fools, we’re going to get nailed.”

Despite his dalliances into the realms of fanciful imagination a leadership challenge from him this year seems highly probable.

6 The redrafted Religious Discrimination Bill will not find an easy passage. It’s about trying to please everybody all the time, an impossibility for any government.

No doubt the Prime Minister will be keen to see that Hillsong has its rights, as they see them, fully protected. This will cause a bit of a ruckus, I should think.

My thought for the day

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

PS: In my final post my words cover a number of issues that are carry over; unresolved baggage.

Link to Part 2

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The baggage they have lugged from one year to the next means 2020 will be a hard slog (part 2)

We are in many ways an incomplete democracy struggling along, so overburdened with the luggage consecutive conservative leaders have packed into bags so small that we never seem to find time for the bigger issues of nationhood.

Think a republic, a bill of rights; an overdue rehash of our Constitution has needed attention for many years. Indeed, a rethink of our democracy and how it functions should be at the very centre of our thinking.

But alas, given the conservative preoccupation with incremental change it would take them an eternity to make any major transformations.

The right to vote in an election is the gift that democracy gives. Therefore, it is incumbent on the voter to at least have a rudimentary understanding of politics and to take an interest in the political landscape.

Other than “climate heating” as the major piece of luggage the government carries into the New Year the erosion of our democracy is next important.

Its demise began with Tony Abbott and is continuing with the emergence of Scott Morrison as a Trumpish sort of warrior for the right.

In my last post for 2019 l alluded to the possibility of love playing a role in the way politics is practiced. By that I meant that a healthy respect for our democracy and a courteous manner toward one’s opponents might bring about better common good results than the hatred shown toward each other now.

In terms of readership it was one of my most least read posts for the year confirming within my thoughts that people are angry, confused and have dropped any semblance of the notion that we still live in a democracy. That logic, truth, trust and reason has the answers. On the contrary their frustration tells them that anger, belligerence, aggression and arrogance does.

It is not however, only in politics that we see it. It is but a reflection of our society.

More the fool me, I thought. Well, at least those people who commented in my favour and agreed gave me some room for reflection.

However, the public might be forgiven for thinking that our politics has descended into a swamp of hate where respect for the other’s view is seen as a weakness. Where light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut, lies and sarcasm.

And in doing so politicians debase our democracy and themselves.

But let’s move on beyond the wreckers like Abbott, Morrison and Dutton and most of the current Cabinet.

The accumulated mistakes they have made seem to have not troubled them in the slightest. Conscience is never revealed.

1 The Australian National University conducts an annual poll into the state of politics. This year they found that public trust has reached an all time low.

Key points:

  • Australians’ satisfaction with democracy is the lowest it has been since the Dismissal in 1975, a new study suggests
  • Public trust in government is also at an all-time low, according to the study.
  • Just over a decade ago, contentment with democracy was at an all-time high now it is at an all time low.
  • Just 25 per cent believed people in government could be trusted.

“I’ve been studying elections for 40 years, and never have I seen such poor returns for public trust in and satisfaction with democratic institutions,” lead researcher Professor Ian McAllister said.

Since gaining power in 2013 this government has taken umbrage at those who might say or print words critical of it. So much so that over a long period of time the attitude among politicians, public servants, security, officials and legal figures has been to halt the flow of information that one could be assured of from government in a liberal democracy.

It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who don’t.

Openness and transparency should be sacrosanct in any democracy, but it isn’t in Australia.

In a democracy the right to free speech is given by the people through the government. Therefore, it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view. Sadly, this seems to have been forgotten both here (and in the United States).

The very least we should expect from our government is an openness that gives the voter an assurance that whistleblower protection is in place. That freedom of information requests are treated with respect and that matters of governance and the national interest are best served with transparency.

Here is a simple example.

The Prime Minister has refused to disclose the content of Barnaby Joyce’s drought envoy reports in the form text messages.

Joyce has no objection, so why the refusal so here we have, yet again, the government shrouded in corruption, secrecy and incompetence.

2 Morrison returns.

After watching Scott Morrison’s, 22 December press conference after his embarrassing return from leave l have these comments. Firstly, his statement that this is a time for bipartisanship was a fib. The opposition has offered him it, many times.

Secondly, when asked about the use of credits to reach our Paris commitments he completely ignored the question and went on to repeat the lie of omission that we will meet our target in a canter.

The point is that 50% of our target can be taken up with the credits meaning that we would be guilty of not pulling our weight.

The world will be entitled to call us cheats, and they would be right.

He has literally refused to reconsider any part of his government’s climate change policy. He is in a very bad place with his attitude.

One thing I did conclude though was that sympathy doesn’t come naturally to the Prime Minister.

My thought for the day

Sometimes love cannot be spoken only shown.

Next post my words will speak of leadership.

Link to Part 1

 

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The baggage they have lugged from one year to the next means 2020 will be a hard slog (part 1)

It is of course usually impossible to predict just how a government is likely to perform one year to the next. However, this government given its form of almost 7 years has considerable form to back any forecasts.

But pathetic as they have been, one would think that our government could at least tidy up their mess just a little.

But no. Take a look at this carry over mess from 2019: The baggage they carry.

1 The secret holiday of the Prime Minister has revealed a soft spot in the belly of a man who never stops talking. Marketing men are normally full of ideas. You would think that a marketing man who is also a politician would be overflowing with them, but such is not the case.

When you look at the nation’s mounting problems you realise that 2020 is going to be a hard slog.

If there is one thing that the government is good at it is the art of doing nothing, and if you look at the economy, climate change, stimulus, constitutional recognition etc it becomes clear how little is being done with ministers completely unqualified for the job.

Other than negative thoughts, Scott Morrison isn’t a deep thinker. I think people are coming to realise that.

On the subject of climate change he has talked himself into an ambush of his own making. It has become the major issue of our time. With fires across our nation people have become genuinely scared of what is happening to our climate.

Now is the time for the Prime Minister to confront those who would, as Malcolm Turnbull puts it, bring the government down and show a bit of leadership.

Early this year he must positively respond to the public’s concern about our efforts on climate change.

Now that everyone knows that his comments about reaching our Paris targets in a canter are just fraudulent talk; that the only way we would do so is with carry over credits, which would make up half of our commitment.

The International Energy Commission who aren’t a group of pot smoking lefties are now saying that we are on track for 2.7c to 3.5c.

In other words the public now knows that Morrison intended cheating, that Australia wasn’t pulling its weight. Now he needs to explain why and what he intends doing about it.

The people are fed up with this decades long assault on the science and now that we are starting to feel the heat of its findings conservatives are now finding themselves obliged to say what their intentions are.

Angus Taylor should be removed from the portfolio before the end of January.

This cannot continue into 2020:

“Heads up re grasslands. Minister keen to see [if] he can accommodate Angus Taylor’s requests,” the note says. “Want a how to for Minister in event he wished to amend or delete thresholds.”

The “thresholds” he refers to are definitions of how much native grass has to be present for it to be protected under federal law.

A spokesman for Taylor said he “has never asked Mr Frydenberg to change laws governing the clearing of native grasslands”.

2 What ever happened to that investigation into the doings of Angus? It was going to be cleared up before Christmas but it never happened.

3 One of the many criticisms coming out of an interview with Martin Parkinson, former head of the Department of Prime Ministers by Katherine Murphy, was this:

“Parkinson is scathing about the Greens’ decision to vote down Kevin Rudd’s emissions trading scheme in 2009 – admitting to a “visceral dislike” of the minor party – and believes Tony Abbott as incoming prime minister in 2013 had political debts, which meant he was obliged to get rid of anything to do with climate change.

That included Parkinson, who was then Treasury secretary but was formerly head of the climate change department that developed the Rudd emissions trading scheme, which was in turn based on work he’d done on the Shergold review under the Howard government, at a point where there was a major-party consensus on the best way to address climate change.“

Another observation was this from Paddy Manning in The Monthly: 

“… the ANU Australian Election Study revealed trust in government had sunk to an all-time low, with 75 per cent of people agreeing that “people in government look after themselves”. Crikey’s Bernard Keane argued [$] that it showed Australia’s political class was “no longer fit for purpose”. The Australia Institute’s chief economist, Richard Dennis, put a fine point on it last week, tweeting that “Morrison’s denial re the need to do more to fight bushfires is consistent with his denial of the need to stimulate the economy, reduce emissions or fight corruption in Canberra. His government isn’t just post-truth, it’s post governing.”

4 Do you recall in mid December former fire chiefs Greg Mullins, from NSW, and Lee Johnson, from Queensland, called for a national summit on how the country should prepare for and resource bushfire emergencies in a changed climate?

Well, so disappointed were they with the government’s response that they have decided to go it alone.

One of the group’s leaders, Greg Mullins, had this to say:

“What we feel is that there’s just still this denial of the problem and where we have denial of the problem, there’s not going to be any action,” he said.

“So we’ll go it alone. We’ll arrange a national summit that will look at building standards, fuel management practices, response capability and national coordination arrangements.

“We’ll invite the prime minister and we hope that he comes too.”

Be warned. Still on climate and the Prime Ministers cunning creation of yet another deception:

“Our greenhouse gas records have been altered to show that emissions were significantly higher than previously believed for the years when Labor was in power, and no longer rise each year since the Coalition repealed the carbon price.”

Most of the revisions are due to a change in how the amount of carbon dioxide released from or absorbed by soil in grazing land is estimated.

Are they legitimate? Yes and no. Some experts said they were an improvement while others said they warranted further examination because of the way they fitted into the coalitions narrative.

One thing is for certain: It smacks at yet further manipulation of climate heating figures and smoke and mirrors politics. You will hear the Prime Minister shouting the revised figures as absolute.

This is but part one of my post on the luggage the government carries with it into 2020. And that’s before they think of any new ideas that might further the common good!

Part two will be published on Wednesday.

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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Does love have a place in politics? It should have.

For those on the left it has been a depressing year; losing an election that was there for the taking. A disaster no one expected.

Those on the right rejoiced at their unexpected good fortune in the belief that it was the way things should be anyway.

And in but a few days we begin another year. The end of a decade. One in which, well politically speaking at least, our country has little to be proud of.

Earlier in the week I started writing about just how much baggage this government would carry with it from this year to the next but the weight of it got to me and I gave up.

I felt in the mood to give the conservatives a right and proper end of year serve. But it really wasn’t what I wanted to convey to the reader.

People of faith pray for outcomes in expectation that they will be answered (if they are not then it is God’s will) and I make no judgement on their purpose.

People of little or no faith live in a world where the word “hope” substitutes for prayer. That by action or persuasion we hope that things will become better, or at least improve.

However, as I write I’m not in the least bit confident that this will occur.

Then as my fingers labour over my thoughts, they turn to how little love there is in our politics and what I really want to convey to the reader are not thoughts of romantic love or erotic love but other loves within us all.

Let me explain.

Would it be a little too much to expect – even hope – that this government might show a little more compassion, even love toward the elderly, those who cannot find work, or those who simply need more?

Could the government we elected – headed by a man of faith who confesses that God is love – find it is his heart to do something about the lack of it shown to the asylum seekers left on Manus and Nauru? Don’t leave the heavy work to God all the time.

Will those Ministers who share his faith with him, who confess love as the central tenant of it, do more for the lost who walk our streets, those who hunger for food and love, or or lodgings?

Will those who confess that they walk in the shoes of Jesus and those who don’t, reconsider their decisions involving, climate change, ethics, education, morality, law, medicine, population, infrastructure, water, what we can grow and many other complex issues in the knowledge that the changes they legislate will have a lasting effect on our children and their children?

My fervent hope is that love, kindness and compassion is considered in their deliberations. May your God bless you in this?

I would also hope – as I’m sure you would pray – for far less lying by all politicians given that truth is one of the commandments unto all. That its restoration be hastily elevated to its former standing.

And so it goes for what we see on our televisions, the demonstrable hatred toward each other that you show in Question Time. Please eliminate it now, urgently.

What I ‘m trying to tell you is that a true democracy cannot exist without a love for all the things that it exists for.

Love is a democratic outcome of all the thoughts that humble us. Debate in our place of democracy is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purist form it is simply the art of persuasion

By this I mean that love shames us when we seek to act without principles, but love honours dignity and mutual respect for our opponents.

Love softens hearts that want outrage, violence, bossing, bullying and sometimes love cannot be spoken, only shown

There is such a widespread disillusionment with how politics is practiced in our country that people feel powerless. That their vote means very little and they are not participants in our democracy. The absence of love one to the other eventually ends the way it has.

My thought for the day

Ask yourself this: Does the political culture we have make you feel good about your country? Is there not room for a little love?

Further thoughts

Be generous with your praise and considerate with your criticism.

The art of logical reasoning and persuasion is wasted on those with enraged voice, eyes closed and ears blocked.

To those who think they can win a debate by being loud and crass I say, “be quiet.” To those who think they can win with a perceived superior intellect I say, “be humble.” Discourse requires civility in order to produce reasoned outcomes.

We have so much to learn from people we disagree with that it’s a wonder we don’t do it more often.

Having the ability to admit that you are wrong is an absolute prerequisite to discernment and knowledge.

Humility is the basis of all intellectual advancement. However, it is truth that that enables human progress.

In our humanity – the concoction of who we are – the most important ingredient is hope. Together with love they make the perfect recipe.

May I take this opportunity to wish all the readers of The AIM a thoughtful festive season? One that is full of hope, thought and love.

See you all in 2020.

Love, JL.

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