My Kangaroo Island

The looks of excitement on our faces was sure evidence that Mr…

Let's Just Ignore The Bushfires!

This may seem like a strange question but can we afford the…

A Matter of Quality: Air Pollution, Tennis and…

They are disgruntled and have every right to be. Whatever one’s feelings…

We won’t be lectured to about anything –…

Any pretence at transparent, accountable government has been abandoned.  Evidence based policy…

But, that's the way we always do it…

Quoting then Sports Minister Bridget McKenzie after the Australian National Audit Office…

SmoKo's Brisbane Line

By Grumpy Geezer  The Brisbane Line was a controversial accusation from Labor's Eddie…

Sniffing Change in the Financial Rafters in a…

By Denis Bright   Arrival of Chinese New Year and Spring Festival in this…

Short of Time: Julian Assange at the Westminster…

London.Another slot of judicial history, another notch to be added to the…

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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.

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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Will we never change until it gets too uncomfortable to stay the same?

In my most recent post, I was talking about the need for change and why I thought conservatives hadn’t the best ideology to bring it about.

The need for dramatic change will be thrust upon us because of the effect changes in our climate will have on our planet.

Many years ago Margaret Thatcher summarised the ideology of the conservative in this way:

There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect from the rich. (Paraphrased).

My contention is that it is not a philosophy to take us into the future.

Conservatism, as we know it today, is but a collection of self-indulgent principles that include narcissistic tendencies, selfishness, egotism, self-importance, self-entitlement greed, corruption, self-regard and conceit. These are reflected in its leadership.

Take this as an example: England has a bumbling, bereft of ideas Prime Minister who has won an election and may indeed get his country out of the EU but has little regard for equality or anything else that might benefit the middle and lower classes for that matter.

The United States has a President who describes himself as the greatest President ever and amongst other things, a genius.

Australia has a Prime Minister of no redeeming features. One who is like the leader before him, held captive by a group of climate deniers within his party?

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

Writing for The Guardian Marina Hyde had this to say.

“I am humbled that you have put your trust in me,” announced the nation’s foremost liar in front of a backdrop reading “the people’s government”, as though this ideally axiomatic concept was an innovation.

All three – Morrison, Johnson and Trump – have in common a poisonous capacity for lying and all practice a “greed is good” social engineering perspective.

In the fullness of the uncertain future that we face we cannot afford to assign the world’s future to the kakistocracy*.

Nor can we afford to apportion the solving of global problems to individuals of ill repute.

But we can allocate a “collective individual” responsibility that realises the scale of political change that needs to take place now.

The election in England yet again has demonstrated peoples’ capacity to vote for conservative parties who feel no obligation to better the lot of ordinary people, yet display a willingness to make the rich richer.

This time the peasants voted for their overlords or as Paul Keating rather luminously put it in a tweet:

 

He is correct. People have a capacity to forgive appalling conservative governance that goes beyond reason.

In 2013 I wrote a piece titled Abbott’s form of Social Engineering, in which I wrote the following to demonstrate the art of social engineering:

“The conservative Abbott Government has taken away from middle and low income earners, the School bonus and a superannuation discount to low income earners, mainly women. In addition they have blocked a pay rise to low income Child Care Workers.

The annual small lump sum given to pensioners to pay for unexpected bills was also abolished.

The abandonment of all these benefits in the name of austerity is a smoke screen. It is only taking from one group to give to another.

Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave Scheme comes to mind. (Later abandoned) Also the 15% tax rebate for the highest wage earners.

This is not equity, it is social engineering. If the budget truly demands cuts, they should be equitable. (Remember the social engineering budget of 2014).

When a Government seeks to backtrack on election promises like the Gonski reforms and reimpose its own elitist inequitable schools policy with not the slightest thought for those who can least afford a better education: it is practising social engineering.”

Social engineering is something that, in introducing their policies, all governments practice. The problem I have with current conservatism, however, is the manner in which it is implemented.

In the recipe that is current conservativism social engineering, the main ingredients seem to be an assortment of unashamed lies that provide for all tastes but confuse the buds along the way.

Rupert Murdoch – worldwide – gives his all assisting conservative parties who might, in return, further his own interests be they newspapers or other media.

Shock jocks, right-wing blogs, Fox News, Sky News … all contribute to the growing propaganda. It is what Keating refers to in his aforementioned tweet.

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

However, those of the Left must also choose a form of social engineering to counter that of the conservatives. So, what manner of social engineering would the left use to create, for example, a community for the common good?

Without answering or dreaming up some sort of consensus my, thoughts drift to what I think a society should be and the changes necessary to bring that about.

We never change until it gets too uncomfortable to stay the same.

We are currently witnessing the sort of society conservatism creates and how people are so easily duped into believing the outlandish lies they are told. My memory only goes back to post 2nd World War but I have never experienced a period where lying has been devalued as much as it is now.

To achieve the creation of a truly successful society we must first by way of truth-telling, convince the people that they are being conned; that there is no equity in our economics.

That they have as much hope of attaining the riches of the land of milk and honey as the next person given an equal playing field.

That the Margaret Thatcher drip-down overflow of money from the rich to the poor, the un-housed and the disadvantaged has never worked. It was just a nonsensical propaganda pipe dream.

Truly successful societies – like the Scandinavian examples – are built around a common good and we need to examine which political ideology is best placed to build such a society.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves how an ideal society is based on the assumption that’s it’s an attainment we may never accomplish, but none-the-less is a worthwhile aspiration Philosophically speaking, which party is best suited to create such a society?

The right govern for those who have and the left for those who have not.

In a modern Western sense, an enlightened society is a populace of men, women and children who as a collective desire to express their humanity, work, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry and play with the richest possible diversity.

It cultivates a common good with equality of opportunity for all. A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon your character and the colour of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth.

This society is one that thinks collectively while at the same time enables the individuals right to pursue intellectual accomplishment and financial reward that is only regulated by what is beneficial for the common collective good.

In other words, everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

In this society for the common good freedom of expression is guaranteed but limited only by the innate moral personal decency of the individual.

A society where free speech is fair speech. An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

A society where the health and welfare of all is sacrosanct and access to treatment is assured. Where the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us is indelible in the mind of every citizen.

A society that respects science before myth and mysticism, but at the same time recognises the individual’s right to the expression of their own form of spirituality so long as it doesn’t hinder the common good.

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

In democratic societies (the best-or least bad form of government) our herding instincts are realised by the election of leaders who form government. Even in the imperfection of democracy we realise that a group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality.

So, unlike the governance we have now, we need a government that is subservient to the will (the common good ethic) of the people and is responsive to public opinion.

It is government that decides and regulates the progress and ambitions of society and what necessitates the bringing about of change for the common good.

Or at least provides the environment in which “change” can occur.

There is very little that is done in the name of progress that cannot be attributed in some way to government. Individual or collective ambition should come from within government and social structures that encourage it.

Currently we are experiencing the implementation of a form of fascism that is controlled by the kakistocracy that are the least worthy in our society to achieve anything.

My thought for the day

Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy but the pain is worth it for the long-term prosperity of all.

*A kakistocracy [kækɪ’stɑkrəsi] is a system of government that is run by the worst, least qualified, and/or most unscrupulous citizens. The word was coined as early as the seventeenth century.

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Tis not the season to be jolly

As one day merges with the next and the year moves rapidly toward its own sunset, I cannot in all truth say that it is a season to be jolly.

Christmas will come and go and Australia will enter its annual month-long period of self-imposed thoughtlessness.

Then in February 2020 our politicians will begin to slug it out for another year without the slightest thought to how they progressed our country in the previous one.

Uppermost in the mind of this writer who will in February of the following year turn 80, will be this question: How can I better express in my writing the horrific damage that this government has and continues too insinuate on our society?

It seems to me, and as irrational as it is, people believe that the party least likely to have the answers that would guide us through this period of time in our history, is the same one to whom they allot their votes.

It is the same conservative government that is at present attacking whistle-blowers, press freedom, curbing peaceful protest, sidelining courts, and limiting advocacy by community organisations. All of which results in a decline in people’s basics rights and freedoms.

In Australia we are witnessing – a never seen in my lifetime – attack on open transparent government that involves the suppression of press freedoms and the malevolent use of our democratic institutions including the Parliament.

How utterly dispiriting it is when the hearts and minds of our politicians are so utterly corrupted by this virus of political lies, but more demoralising it is that ordinary people catch the same infection.

The Australian government is currently using any means available to it to erode constitutional foundations with new laws and practices that indoctrinate secrecy and strangle criticism and accountability.

Save the Children’s director of policy and public affairs, Mat Tinkler, said:

“The secrecy surrounding our offshore processing regime means that the Australian people are forced to judge the merits of acts done in their name without all of the facts on the table, forcing whistle-blowers to take matters into their own hands.”

Yes, it is true and it can be observed in all its manifestations across the world. People are voting for parties who have no intention of helping them and ignoring those who would.

Paramount in my mind is how do I counter their recidivist lying that has permeated the minds of millions.

I was recently asked what I thought were the major problems facing society, to which I answered there were many but I suggested that the overriding problem was that wrong people are in charge. “How so?” my friend asked.

Well, I put it to you that the right of politics are philosophically the wrong people to contend with the changes that need to be made now and into the future because all of them contain an element of humanity. An inability to combine society with economics is a prime example.

If capitalism is the way forward then it has to be capitalism that is supervised, regulated penalised and makes decisions that serve the common good.

Of course, we will still require free markets but it may very well also require limits to growth. Decisions will have to be made around not what we want but what we need. A re-questioning of consumerism.

On the point of people who are able to manage change. The right, who only see society through the prism of cash registers at closing time, will be the least able to understand that change is being thrust upon.

Conservatives have little idea of the concept of change where it pertains to common good because they only ever see change in increments of “what’s in it for me?”

In the new world we are confronting technology that is thrusting its way into every crevice of society, decisions involving climate change, ethics, education, morality, law, medicine, population, infrastructure, water, what we can grow and many other complex issues. The changes we make will have to contain a survive first ideology and not a love of profit first methodology.

In terms of energy and climate change it is clear that the conservatives – by their inaction – have no interest in changing the status quo. Change is simply beyond them even when jobs and profit are obvious winners.

Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making with its own inevitability.

The problem is that the wrong party is in power!

What we have now is known to all and I don’t think I need repeat my view of the people who have forsaken virtuous yet tuff politics for a politic that should remain in the place from whence it came.

We have at this time in our history a society that is so indifferent, so alienated and untrusting of politics and the people in it that they voted for a lot of hapless men and women who have demonstrated their unworthiness for nearly 7 years.

To say that they picked the wrong party is not sour grapes, but a statement in fact.

Only a socially progressive party that is stripped of the motive of profit and instead understands the difference between the purpose of life and the reason for it, is qualified to make the decisions necessary to survive into the future.

My thought for the day

One of the oddities of elections is trying to understand how the voting public would so willingly return a party that has governed so abysmally.

 

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The Greens say that with the benefit of hindsight

Monday 2 December was the 10th Anniversary of Kevin Rudd’s Climate Change policy being voted down in the Senate. It was marked with speeches from Anthony Albanese, Ged Kearney, Josh Burns, Patrick Gorman, Pat Conroy, and Tanya Plibersek.

Last week saw the 10th Anniversary of the Greens rejection of Labor’s attempt to pass an emissions trading scheme and in so doing put in train a series of events that were to bring great shame on our nation.

Of course, with the benefit of hindsight the Greens may not have made the decision together with the Coalition to defeat Labor’s CPRS (Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme) in the Senate in 2009.

It was a decision at the time that was a “massive error of political judgement” that would prove to have consequences far beyond that of the environment but also on how we conducted our democracy.

“Australia’s carbon emissions would be more than 200m tonnes lower and electricity prices would be cheaper if the Greens had supported the carbon pollution reduction scheme a decade ago, the Labor frontbencher Pat Conroy says.”

Together with Tony Abbott’s decision to repeal Labor’s ‘carbon tax’ a few years later, they are arguably the two worst policy decisions ever made by the Australian parliament.

The result is that a decade on we still have no national energy or environmental policies and all sides of the debate continue to argue matters of science for which they have no qualifications and repeat the same arguments that they have already had with the same outcomes. No doubt an exercise in dumbing-down the intelligence of our citizenry with debate lasting a decade leaving one speechless.

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason, never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rationale explanation.

It is a debate, however, that would eventually come back to bite them on the bum. The past year (especially since the election) the tide of public opinion has sided with the view that serious action against climate change needs to be taken.

When kids are leaving the classroom to protest, and the effects of climate change being evidenced; the science now beyond rebuttal and communities demanding action Scot Morrison is finding himself trapped in his own “Trumpian” lies.

People are now resentful of his ‘do nothing’ approach.

Even Royal Banking Commissioner Haynes has weighed in with a stinging rebuke of the government and big business on their do nothing approach to the problem.

Hayne said that:

“… the country’s “opaque” decision-making processes were seen by the public as “skewed, if not captured” by powerful vested interests, while leaders were “unable to conduct reasoned debates about policy matters.”

And as if it couldn’t get worse finally the truth has come out publicly as to why Morrison has been so smug about Australia meeting its Kyoto targets.

As I have written many times, they intend using credits given to us as a form of encouragement to join Kyoto in the first negotiations.

The current meeting is debating whether to revoke the rule that made credits possible.

Using or not using credits is a moral argument. Without them we cannot reach our target and proves beyond doubt that we haven’t pulled our weight. In the eyes of the world we will be looked upon as international freeloaders.

Australia used to once care about what the world thought of us but now we couldn’t seem care less.

Pat Conroy went on to say that:

“As a result, Australia is still in the midst of a ‘climate war’ with no real climate policy and has higher emissions today than under a scenario in which the CPRS was implemented.”

He conceded that Labor had also made mistakes in its handling of the vexed issue of climate policy, Conroy said the party should have gone to a double dissolution election in 2010 after the defeat of the CPRS.

On that he is correct. They probably would have conceded some seats but still have won.

The Greens in their stubbornness to get what they wanted – with the benefit of hindsight – would have realised that had the CPRS been implemented, emissions for 2020 would have been:

reduced to 459m tonnes compared to the 540m tonnes projected by the department, which are on track to keep rising to 563m tonnes by 2030.

Had the Greens voted for the bill we would have saved the nation much political angst; we would have been world leaders and the economic rewards would, by now, be flowing into government coffers. How incredibly stupid we have been.

My thought for the day

On the subject of climate change, think about this: If we fail to act and disaster results, then massive suffering will have been aggravated by stupidity.

 

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George Christensen and other secrets. What do you think?

We are all aware of the rorting of expenses by our politicians. Who can forget Bronwyn Bishop’s famous helicopter rides, or George Brandis and his bookshelves? Or Joe Hockey’s claiming expenses for staying overnight in houses his wife owned or Susan Ley’s claiming travel expenses for private business.

And what about the Finance Minister Senator Cormann chartering private planes to take him home?

Independent Australia disclosed more of this rorting in an article by Belinda Jones titled; “Out of Control Expenses claims made by Federal politicians.”

The list goes on of course but when a politician is elected on a generous salary and spends much of his time outside the country, well, that takes rorting the system to a whole new level. A reprehensible one.

He is a bit of an oddball is George Christensen. Wikipedia tells us that he is a vocal supporter of the sugar industry and has rejected policies such as a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages aimed at reducing obesity.

He has likened the climate change debate to a science fiction film plot, but says “alarmist” claims are more comedic than frightening.

He has previously stated that Australia was “at war” with Islam. In July 2015, speaking at a rally held by far-right group Reclaim Australia — which infamously held a 10th “anniversary” for the 2005 Cronulla race riots — Christensen said: “we would be foolishly naive to think that we are not at war with radical Islam.”

“On 20 September 2017, Christensen moved a motion to ban the burqa at the National Party’s annual conference in Canberra. The motion was voted down 51 votes to 55, with Christensen saying he would continue to advocate for the policy.”

A joint investigation between Nine News, Sydney Morning Herald and The Age alleges that Mr Christensen visited an adult bar called ‘Ponytails’ in the Philippines, and that:

Ponytails bartender Marjorie Lamsen told the organisations Mr Christensen was a “very regular visitor” to the venue. “He was always very good … he was a big spender,” she said.

And:

The bar manager of the night spot, which identifies itself as an “adult entertainment service”, said Mr Christensen did not reveal he was a politician and alleged his “weakness” was women.

I have read that he recently completed a degree in divinity enabling him to preach the gospel of Christ but the latest news has him frequenting the very best adult entertainment bars in the Philippines.

He has previously stated that his frequent trips to Asia before meeting her was for church and charity work.

Many fellow parliamentarians now call the ‘Member for Manila’ because of his frequent travel to the region, including an astonishing 28 trips in a four-year period.

These allegations have surfaced in the mainstream media from time to time over the past few years even suggesting that George spent 300 days in the Philippines between 2014 and 2018. Now that’s a fair amount of time away from his electorate on the taxpayer. Apparently he met his now wife April Asuncion at Ponytails in 2017. We learn that:

Nine News, The Age and The Herald have seen documents, which suggest Ms Asuncion was an employee at the Ponytails bar.

Now, normally you would think that with so many rorting scandals behind them that political parties would wake up. How does a member of the House of Representatives get to spend 300 days holidaying (or) doing whatever one does at these places without being found out?

It is important to say that the AFP has concluded that Christensen hasn’t broken any law. Although they have said that he had compromised himself to foreign interests.

The problem here isn’t that of breaking the law but of the character and behaviour of the man involved.

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

He has obviously not represented his electorate in a manner befitting his office. Has the leader of his party reprimanded him? It would seem not, although both (then Prime Minister) Turnbull and National’s leader McCormack were both briefed by the AFP. McCormack apparently told Christensen to stop travelling overseas and focus on his marginal electorate only after he was elected leader.

At the last election – despite his constituents being in full knowledge of his escapades to the Philippines – returned him with an increased margin of 11.2 per cent.

Has the parliamentary committee who oversee such matters questioned him?

I mean, surely, you cannot get away with having 300 days away from the job on full pay without any consequences. Although judging by the inaction of anyone and everyone, you can.

George, the in-depth Christian, has decided to block the release of key documents about the federal police probe into his frequent travels.

Secrecy is fast turning into an art form with this extremely conservative and very right-wing government.

What sort of democracy are we? We are not allowed to know about the Lambie secret deal or the content of the Taylor emails; nor the circumstances of the secret trial jailing of witness J or the contents of an AFP report about George Christensen; and we are not allowed to know why Pastor Houston isn’t allowed into the White House. Why?

This government takes our right to know what they are doing very lightly.

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

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.

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Going from ‘very bad’ to ‘it couldn’t get much worse’

1 What a terrible time it is for our Australian democracy, the government and its Prime Minister who is trying to cover up a minister, Angus Taylor, who judged by any pub test has lied about his conduct.

This is a sackable offence and the Australian people are entitled to know what is going on, but now we find that Labor has been denied an FOI request for the contents of two emails because they relate to an unspecified “ongoing process.

This government has made a mockery of the very existence of Freedom of Information by repeatedly knocking back request after request.

The two emails in question were sent at 8.52am on 25 October – the day after Guardian Australia revealed the controversy – and a second email chain at 3.23pm on the same day.

It is not only Labor’s right to know the contents of these two emails, but also the public’s.

When a political party deliberately withholds information that the voter needs to make an informed, balanced and reasoned assessment of how it is being governed is, in essence, lying by omission. It is also tantamount to the manipulation of our democracy.

2 The lack of any action by the government on climate change is regrettable. It is just trying to tough it out while it spends more on fossil fuels: but it is making a usually docile Australian public become decidedly angry.

Politicians who change their minds aren’t necessarily seeing the light. They might just be feeling the heat.

Important to most Prime Ministers is the legacy they leave behind, and with Scott Morrison, it may very well be a picture of him in Parliament handing around a chunk of coal. The symbolism would be telling. A metaphor of Morrison’s complete incompetency.

It would paint a story of a man hopelessly out of touch with science, inflexible of mind with an inability to lead in the face of hostile opposition from within.

Having adopted the Trump methodology of governance bullshitting, sacking, threatening and lying he believes the more lies you tell the more confused people become.

It could be said that he may be satisfying those with vested interests, those with financial interests, those whose jobs are coal-dependent – those who rely on political donations for their survival or those who simply don’t believe in science but at the same time he empowers those who have the capacity to think for themselves.

What a profound moment it is when you discover an opinion that is absolutely of yourself. Completely devoid of any other influence.

But for all the untruth and repetition of it, those who inhabit middle ground, those who swing – who determine government, know that something is amiss. That our climate is changing not for the better but for the worse. Observation is the basis of all science. Finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

Repeating lines like; “We’re only 1.3 per cent of global emissions so we have no impact” has been trotted out and shot down so often as to be useless, or; “We are meeting our Paris targets” are wearing very thin indeed.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also gave the government an environmental going over in this interview with Katherine Murphy of The Guardian.

Yes, as I said, Morrison’s legacy might very well be just a lump of coal and all the judgement that goes with it.

3 Robodebt has been added to a long list of government policy failures that has left it red-faced and embarrassed.

Failures with the NBN, NDIS, climate, power, equality of opportunity in education, water, drought, infrastructure, submarines and motor vehicles. Marriage Equality’s success you can give to the people. You could make a list as long as the lord’s arm.

With Robodebt, management quietly sent an email to staff of the Department of Human Services telling them that it would abandon sole reliance on the controversial “income averaging” method and instead require additional proof before demanding welfare recipients pay back alleged debts.

The department also revealed it would review all existing alleged debts and freeze existing debt recovery pending the review.

And then they found out what they were doing was illegal anyway.

4 An illustration of just how secret our society has become is when a Canberra judge doesn’t know what happened to a man who appears to have been tried in secret. Are we now an authoritarian state?

Last Thursday Greens Senator Nick McKim asked the government to tell the Senate why the inmate – given the court pseudonym Alan Johns – was charged and imprisoned in near-total secrecy due to commonwealth orders.

Anthony Whealy, a judge in NSW’s highest courts, reckons the secret prosecution and imprisonment of a man in the ACT raises many questions about the quality of our justice system. The judge said:

Are we now a totalitarian state where people are prosecuted, convicted and shunted off to prison without they or the public having any notion as to what has happened?

5 The Prime Minister is still refusing to answer questions about Pastor Brian Houston’s knockback invitation to the White House giving the impression that he is hiding something.

6 On top of the Royal Commission into the Financial Industry, we now have Westpac breaking the rules a zillion times without caring.

With the government refusing to have a RC and repeatedly voting against it gives off a whiff of corruption somewhere in the corridors of power.

All things considered, the banks and large companies – avoiding tax and not paying award wages – commit more crime than all the unions put together.

But even with unions now only making up 14% of the workforce the federal government was hopeful that One Nation would support its Ensuring Integrity Bill, with the minor party’s two votes being crucial to its passage through the Senate. Meanwhile, independent senator Jacqui Lambie had proposed a number of last-minute amendments to the bill in return for her support. (Taken from the Roy Morgan daily newsletter 26/11/2019).

How anyone could barter with peoples right to receive medical treatment is beyond me.

Then in the midst of my writing, a bill in the Senate is voted on and to the shock and horror of the government, the bill is defeated in the Senate. Yes, the redhead, the mad scientist and the queen of Tassie have said “no” to the elimination of unions in this country.

7 Also in the same Roy Morgan newsletter and coming on top of the band-aid $500 million infrastructure spend announced by the government:

The Parliamentary Budget Office has forecast that Australia’s net infrastructure investment will peak at $38 billion in 2019-20, before falling over the next three years.

This is primarily due to expectations that the net debt of the state governments will blow out to around $156 billion by 2022. This would constitute the states’ highest share of public debt in two decades.

8 As the China Syndrome takes a foothold in the consciousness of our citizens Scott Morrison is doing his usual band-aid solution on our relationship with the great mass from the north. Logic would have it that in the future China will become, in many ways, the most dominant country on earth.

Time for a policy that recognises this and logically makes the most of it while at the same time caters for the most self-obsessed nation on earth.

9 The same can be said for the $500 million for Aged Care. It won’t even cover a shaving nick by a 90-year-old. Always reactionary never proactive, that’s our government.

10 But for what it’s worth the answers to these questions are summed up in the way the cake is carved. Take a look at my post on just how much money is used this government gives away to the rich in subsidies.

My thought for the day

It’s now over six years that I first tapped out an article for The AIMN. Its title was “An Abbott in the lodge – NEVER.

During that time I have enjoyed the assistance of the editor Michael Taylor and his small band of followers who dedicate their time to keeping the individual writers relevant and interesting, alive and valid and importantly, in a time of much crap comment, truthful.

In particular, I want to thank Michael whose strength of character has helped me along the way. It has at times been more than I deserve.

My arthritis causes me grief almost daily but so far it hasn’t touched my fingers. I have lost count of how many articles I have penned in my time with The AIMN.

As I near my 80th year my mind remains young and my enthusiasm for change remains undaunted.

We live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us. This government’s performance over its time in office has been like a daily shower of offensiveness. I remain steadfast in my desire to see it removed.

PS: In conclusion might I add that no legislation has passed since the miracle of Scott Morrison’s election victory. That in itself is proof of my criticism of a do-nothing government.

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What have Newstart, the pension and aged care got to do with the environment?

When cutting up Australia’s economic cake all sorts of demands are placed on it.

So much so that this financial year our government couldn’t find enough money to increase the Newstart allowance despite every man, women and his dog saying it was desperately needed.

Nor could they find any money for aged care to fix problems identified by numerous enquiries, let alone by what the Aged Care Royal Commission came up with.

You can add to those a view that the Aged Pension needs to be increased.

Of course, there are competing demands because every department wants a larger slice of the cake than they got the previous year.

Those mentioned above would take a huge bite from a cake already draining economic cream at the edges.

And if you want to take a huge bite there are only three ministries large enough to open your mouth on. They are Health, Education and Social Services.

These are the three that Tony Abbott hit in his 2014 budget: The one that was universally acclaimed to be the unfairest ever.

So given that these three are crying out for more where do you raise the money? One suggestion is that you prioritise your spending better.

For example, is it necessary to spend $500 million on improvements to the War Memorial in Canberra, or $20 million to maintain Christmas Island to house 4 Asylum seekers?

There is a long list of questionable spending by this government such as the $500 million given to the obscure Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Perhaps you don’t give tax cuts while Newstart, aged care, the pension and NDIS are screaming out for more funding.

When fully implemented, the government’s tax cuts will cost a staggering $30 billion annually.

Or you could cut back on the concessions given to the rich and privileged.

In 2018 the Anglicare Australia Cost of Privilege report showed that:

“… revenue from the richest 20 per cent of Australians was more than $68 billion a year, costing taxpayers $37 a week.

This compares to just $6.1 billion in concessions for the bottom 20 per cent”.

A staggering $68 billion in taxpayer dollars is spent keeping the wealthiest households wealthy.”

That is greater than the cost of Newstart, disability support, or any other benefit.

The 2018 Cost of Privilege report also found that tax exemptions on private healthcare and education for the wealthiest 20 per cent cost over $3 billion a year, superannuation concessions to them cost over $20 billion a year, and their capital gains tax exemptions cost a staggering $40 billion a year.”

Not to mention franking credits which are “rorted on an industrial scale”, and negative gearing. From what I have revealed thus far it is easy to see that it is the Right who govern for those who have them and it is the Left who govern for those who don’t. In doing so the conservatives still cannot comprehend that economics serves and moulds society. Economics alone is but self-serving.

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.

There is, however, another source of possible revenue.

It is difficult to imagine that Taxpayers subsidise immorally rich energy companies, but they do. Try $12 billion a year.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison chooses to hand out billions to a dirty and dying industry that pay little of the cost fossil fuels impose on our health and the environment. We now spend more on subsidies to mining companies than we do on our environment, and that is going down.

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

An initial ACF analysis released last December found the federal environment department budget was slashed by 30% over the last three complete financial years, with further cuts planned out to 2020-21.

A new paper by the same group says that while the federal environment department’s budget had been cut to a projected $950m, the commonwealth is expected to award the mining sector $2.5bn in fuel tax credits this year. An estimated $980m of that would go to coal companies.

Matt Rose ACF economist said it was distressing that public investment in the environment was being slashed while government budgets were rapidly growing.

It shows that our elected representatives have made a clear decision to devalue our natural world and safe climate at a time when they are under enormous strain,” he said. “It robs people of the funding needed to make a practical difference for our environment through programs like land restoration, tree planting and removing invasive species.”

According to Market Forces each and every year the Australian Government hands out an estimated $12 billion in tax-based fossil fuel subsidies of public money to support the production and use of fossil fuels by hugely rich companies who don’t employ a lot of people. And might I add overcharge for their product.

Subsidies for the mining of coal have become a worldwide issue as renewable energy replaces coal.

The community should be asking why its government is providing billions of dollars to a dying industry.

The International Monetary Fund commissioned a report that said that global fossil fuel subsidies continue to grow, despite the growing urgency of the need to decarbonise the global economy.

Renew Economy said that the battle over energy subsidies has been a feature of Australian politics over recent years, with conservative politicians attacking renewable energy subsidies.

The growing evidence from groups like the IMF and the IEA shows that fossil fuel subsidies are a major drag on the global economy, with the true costs of their use being a burden on wider society.

Given all the evidence it would be better if these subsidies were spent on increasing the pension, increasing the Newstart allowance and better care for the elderly.

At least the money would give our economy a bit of a much-needed jolt.

My thought for the day

Substantial and worthwhile change often comes with short-term controversy, but the pain is worth it for long-term prosperity.

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Tony Abbott’s government was “remarkably underappreciated”, says Tony Abbott

That 1000 people would pay $130 each to attend a function to celebrate former Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s 25 years in Australian politics astonished me.

To find out that they had to turn many others away amazed me even more. Then to find out that most of the speakers reckoned he was underappreciated left me in a cold rage.

That anyone could find anything decent to say about a man who frankly was the greatest liar ever to walk the hallowed halls of our parliament was dumbfounding.

Our country is becoming worse than the US in our capacity to celebrate mediocrity I thought.

And to hear that many who spoke at the function described him as “undervalued” had me searching for a packet of valium.

Then when I read that Tony Abbott himself said that:

“I used to think that the Abbott government was a remarkably underappreciated one.”

“The great thing tonight is that finally I think it might be seen for what it really was — a good-faith effort to help our country to be the very best it could be.”

Well, what can I say, that had me on the phone to my psychiatrist.

Good lord, hadn’t he admitted that it was a chronic failure. “Good government starts tomorrow,” he was alleged to have said after he was threatened with the sack.

And when I read that many who spoke at the event in Sydney told guests Mr. Abbott had been equally undervalued, I went to the kitchen to look for a sharp edge.

Is this the same bloke who repealed the ‘carbon tax’: probably the worst policy decision by any Prime Minister since federation?

He went on to say:

“I used to think that the Abbott government was a remarkably underappreciated one.”

The Master of Ceremonies was no other than Alan Jones, who said there was so much love for Mr. Abbott that even with 1,000 guests attending, “hundreds” more had to be turned away.

At this stage, I was beginning to feel that dreaded taste one feels just before one’s throat erupts with the vilest of memories in liquid form.

“They cannot be talking about the same bloke?” I thought. I recall writing this about the man when he was Opposition Leader:

“When looked at in isolation the lies and indiscretions of Tony Abbott, his problems with women and even his negativity could perhaps all be written off as just Tony being Tony?

Or that’s just politics. However, my focus here is on character and whether Mr. Abbott had enough of it to be the leader of our nation.”

My contention was that because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behavior over a long period of time he simply didn’t have the essence of character which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership.”

On a daily basis the negativity of Abbott, when Opposition Leader, spread like rust through the community. He sought to confuse with the most outlandish statements. Hardly a day passed without referring to the then Prime Minister, Julia Gillard as a liar while at the same time telling the most outrageous ones himself. And with a straight face, I might add. He sought to hamper all legislation with a pre-determined NO. Often without even reading it.

Abbott has taken lying and the frequency of it to a level in political discourse we have never experienced.

But here was Alan Jones talking about a man who very nearly destroyed his own party and who was credited with trashing many of Australia’s democratic conventions and institutions.

Jones went on to say that:

“It was a contradiction for a politician who had been defeated in a nasty and bruising campaign for the seat of Warringal.”

“Tony Abbott … has a heart which beats like everybody else and he’s been brutally wounded by appalling condemnation and vilification which no person of his ability should ever have had to endure,” Mr. Jones told a Liberal Party who’s who.

Mr. Jones described the campaign that unseated Mr. Abbott at this year’s election as “one of the most disgraceful chapters in Australian political history”.

All this about a man who vilified our female Prime Minister with the most misogynistic language his limited intellect could muster. “Send her out to sea in a chaff bag…”

Jones continued:

“It wasn’t the defeat it was the extent to which the personal vilification and undermining of the character and decency of this man was not only embraced by the electorate but condoned by people who should have known better.”

Good lord, I was becoming dizzy with the capacity of these people to believe their own bullshit.

Peter Dutton followed up saying that Mr. Abbott had been largely misunderstood:

“I think in fact it’s his intelligence and depth of thought that wasn’t properly appreciated (really) by many of the modern-day journalists,” he said, adding that most people who meet Mr. Abbott says he is nothing like what he seems on television.

“In fact that is the great tragedy, not that he’s a different person publicly but that he is portrayed as such by his opponents.

“Nevertheless Australians sensed a decency in Tony and they were right.”

That reminded me of the 2014 budget of which even conservative commentators agreed that it was the unfairest budget ever.

Mr. Abbott was also praised for policy achievements such as abolishing the carbon tax and the mining tax, and putting Australia “on the path to surplus.”

And his many volunteering and fundraising efforts, including his annual support of the Pollie Pedal, were acknowledged. (And the taxpayer paid all of his expenses). (His fire fighting volunteering was nothing more than photo opportunities).

Scott Morrison was next praising Abbott for identifying Islamic State as a threat to Australia before many leaders in the Western world had thought to, and for his compassion and drive towards improving Indigenous lives.

Again, his interest in our First Nation Peoples was purely for photo opportunities.

Former Prime Minister Howard reckoned his greatest policy achievement was “restoring Australia’s border protection regime.”

And yet today we have asylum seekers coming up for 7 years in jail for not committing any crime. How shameful.

Joe Hockey’s contribution, in a video, was to say that Abbott was a man for others.

“Whatever you do or say in the future will most definitely be for others — you are genuinely a man for others.”

Just who the others are is debatable, but they certainly weren’t the underprivileged.

To conclude the night Mr. Abbott chose not to blame anyone other than himself for the loss of his seat.

“If anyone wants to know who is to blame for the Warringah result it was not the campaign — it was just the candidate.”

And that was one of the rare times the truth escaped its prison.

For me, it says much about the conservative party that a man so much an abject failure as a Prime Minister could attract a crowd 1000 people to celebrate it.

That they let historical facts so easily go through to the keeper never ceases to amaze me.

My thought for the day

In Tony Abbott did Australia ever elect a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment and science? So oblivious of the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

Enough said.

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I have nothing but contempt for Scott Morrison

I write today with heavy spirit and considerable anger about men and women for whom I have only contempt.

I am failing to digest any circumstances in which it can be evidenced that the government of my country has the people, their future and their welfare, uppermost in their governance.

Like millions of others I have little understanding of science but my default position has always been to believe the science. My choice otherwise is to believe the ratbaggery elements of the “no evidence” establishment.

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

The only areas that come to mind where science is challenged is in the religious fever of climate change doubters, by conservative politicians and alternative religious belief.

For six years plus the people have, even against the best advice, given the conservatives the benefit of the doubt, suspended their judgement, and have elected the Coalition for a third term. Yes, even when all the evidence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were the worst government ever, with the worst collection of ministers this country has ever seen.

On the subject of global warming they have refused to take the advice of anyone who has any expertise in the area. From the scientists who study the burning of fossil fuels to the experts in weather and those responsible for predicting just what a 2% increase in the world’s temperature might mean, particularly with drought, fire and floods.

The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments have all rejected the advice of some of our finest minds and everyone with even a small degree of acumen knows why.

They have rejected the cost so as to acquire a surplus. So they have never modelled the cost of doing nothing or considered that there is a cost for the upkeep of every individual’s health and therefore it is logical that there would also be a cost for the upkeep of the planet.

They have placed ideology before obligation, profit before the planet, and power before the people.

They believe that the lies they have perpetrated in telling the population with sinister regularity are best served by more and more lies purely for the purpose of propaganda. That being to use this manifest danger we face to retain power. That they would deliberately allow the loss of life for the shallowest of self-seeking reasons is simply beyond contempt.

A more evil un-Christian concept I have never come across. I can only feel disgust for these people who would support the pillars of capitalism and its thirst for profit over and above the lives of common folk.

What virtue do they see in their support for fossil fuels and their hideous attempts to stymie renewable energy technology?

Does truth have to shout out its name to get these morons to listen? Do the people have to rebel in disgust against their authority? Do our kids really have to protest their angst against a federal government intent on looking after the top end of town? (My words, not Albo’s).

How many homes and lives need to be destroyed by the ravages of fire – the heat of flame or cascading waters in the name of jobs that could be obtained in other more substantial ways? Ways that are so open to innovation and ideas.

Why cannot this rotten government open its glazed and blinkered eyes to the possibilities that could be ours?

On the day of writing this l listened to a group of former emergency services heads involved in the cause and prevention of bush fires and floods, among other things. Their qualifications without exception were beyond question. The Prime Minister when seeking an audience on numerous occasions had brushed them aside.

He didn’t even acknowledge these men of merit and superior intelligence on the subject. Now Minister Littleproud has agreed to meet with them, however, there is little chance of leaving an impression on a man who feigns belief but probably doesn’t, is almost negligible.

The lack of interest by the Prime Minister and his refusal to meet with them shows his hand. One that slaps them on the cheek for their impertinence.

What does it say about an individual or indeed a government that refuses to heed the views of important people and institutions who have the research to back up their claims? It must mean that they are as thick as a brick or have ulterior motives.

In this case the latter must apply.

When the five eminent former fire chiefs gave their news conference last Thursday I immediately applauded their sincerity, their aplomb and their undoubted seriousness. They were laying it on the line to the Prime Minister. He has squibbed them.

These 21 men and 2 women called themselves the “Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.” All expert in his or her field. They had a story to tell and did so with words of force that had me mesmerised with their authoritative tone.

Collectively they more or less berated Morrison for not granting them an audience. Their message was to the point.

“We are living in an era of unprecedented bushfire danger and climate change is the reason,” they said as one followed the other with the same message.

As advocates for their cause they all spoke with compelling sincerity.

Speaking in turn they all cited the government’s unwillingness to talk about the problem as being of major concern. They wanted the government to act and they demanded that it do so, and now.

What is needed is more resources and a better policy to reduce emissions and move to clean energy, but as I listened to the potency of their argument I inwardly doubted that they would get a positive response from these people who denied the existence of the argument they were putting.

However, because of the public’s changing mood the government is finding itself behind the eight ball and sooner or later it will have to act. This refusal to act together with parents seeing their children protesting their future has woken the populace from its ignorant malaise.

Morrison probably wants to act but he strangely finds himself in the same position as his predecessor and is under threats from the lunatic fringe within the party to bring it down.

But consider this: Even the National Party’s natural constituency is turning against them; farmers seem to know more about the problems than the National Party itself and business is now factoring climate change into their decision-making processes. They don’t want to be seen as out of step with the public’s mood.

Business takes a more projected view of its planning than government and it is clear to them that the public’s disposition is on a knife edge. They want action. Contrary to the government’s lies, emissions are rising.

Its policies, whatever they are, are not working. The government’s lack of any reasoned thinking still has business flabbergasted. There has been no investment certainty for 6 years.

Unlike the former fire chiefs whose motivation has the support of science, their experience and their observation, everything the government does has the stench of politics about it.

And in politics it’s best not to have your record raked over the coals, so to speak, while the people are contrite over the issue. This only highlights your incompetence and sour policies, whatever they may be.

Some say that the Prime Minister has acknowledged a link between climate change and natural disaster but given the Trumpion amount of lies he tells on the subject it is difficult to be sure.

As is usual when controversial issues arise he goes into hiding. In this case it is because he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. His government’s record is abysmal.

Abbott’s repealing of the carbon price may well be looked back on as the worst policy decision by any Prime Minister in Australian political history.

They have attempted to gut the Renewable Energy Target in a frivolous fashion and then imposed what can only be described as bandaid solutions that have cost ordinary taxpayers billions of dollars only to see emissions rising every quarter.

There is little doubt that with every bushfire the public will be reminded of the folly of the government’s inaction and people will be asking why so many people have to die before something is done.

With every home that goes up in flames, with every family’s memories in ashes, with every life lost and with every tree that is burnt to the ground the people will reflect on the absurd utterances of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the lies of the Prime Minister.

In time the pressure will mount on these buffoons who have frustrated every effort to bring about a reduction in our carbon emissions.

In the past week they have brought more shame on themselves with their self-serving antics.

At the risk of repeating myself I am failing to digest any circumstances in which it is evidenced that the government of my country has the people and their future uppermost in their governance.

But enough of my emotion.

Morrison’s silence will have to end soon. It is my bet that the party room belief in a coal future will influence his response and that those who invent the slogans and phrases will produce more propaganda to persuade a gullible electorate that all is well, and that  the science is crap and God is on their side. Just pray.

My thought for the day

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

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Politically illiterate, or just plain dumb

My ‘To read’ file and the additional information I gather from week to week seems to grow enormously and I have trouble keeping up with all of it.

I continually challenge my bias but I can find little if anything to say about a government whose incompetency seems to grow in unison with their length of tenure.

So what follows is my usual collection of things you may have missed reading, and facts about things that may not have occurred to you. I want people to be informed when they vote – in fact, all the time.

When we consider the state of Australia’s politics it is easy to become downhearted, even depressed. Last week I read that only 10% of the world’s nations have compulsory voting, but of course making people vote doesn’t make them politically literate.

Which leads me to Labor’s report on why they lost the election. What wasn’t mentioned in the report was that perhaps a fair per cent of the people we make vote … are actually politically illiterate or just plain dumb.

Now, on with the week that was:

1 Tuesday’s Newspoll (with new methodology, supposedly to correct previous errors) was published with the two major parties neck and neck, and Albo improving his position.

I’m not surprised and I find the Poll Bludger gives a fair analysis of the NewsPoll findings:

“The public release of Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill’s report into Labor’s federal election campaign has inspired a run of commentary about the way ahead for the party after its third successive defeat, to which nothing need be added here”

And Katharine Murphy in The Guardian surmised that:

Labor went into the contest with no documented election strategy that had been discussed, contested and agreed across the campaign organisation, the leadership and the wider Labor party – and there was no body empowered to discuss and settle a campaign strategy or monitor its implementation.

Given what was involved that was very sloppy indeed.

The negative noises from Labor Party supporters are thunderous at the moment, given that for the first time in a while Labor has a leader without any baggage. One who is doggedly determined to layout a step-by-step approach toward gaining government.

2 I received an email from the Leader of the Opposition, which read as follows.

“Well, the review into our election campaign is complete. For true believers, it’s not an easy read. It doesn’t brush over the hard truths – and nor should it.

In short? We got it wrong. Not everything was wrong, but enough was.

I’m not going to make excuses. We know that if you do the same thing again, you should expect the same result.

That’s why Labor will change. We will be better. And at the next election, we will offer the Australian people a real alternative: A party of growth. Of aspiration. Of social justice. A party of nation building and the natural environment. A party of the future.

This is the vision that will guide our way forward. It’s the vision I began laying out today.

I know people are angry and hurt at Labor’s loss – and so am I.

You’re itching to win next time – and so

You’re anxious to change the world – and so am I.

That’s why the project we’re about to embark upon matters so much.

Together, we will chart a new course – modernising, positive and optimistic about the future. Together, we will return Labor as the party of aspiration and the party of government.

In solidarity,

Anthony”

3 Who said this about whom and why?

“Belligerent in rhetoric, authoritarian in tone, divisive in intent, unimaginative in vision, deceptive and insubstantial in content.”

Find out here.

4 It is easy to be angry with those who debate on Facebook.

Simply confess that you are an unashamed idealist concerned about equality and the common good, and you have left wing political leanings together with a strong sense of social justice. Add to that an intestinal fortitude for expressing your views.

Seems to have worked for me.

5 Dear PM, I just need to correct tone of your recent statements (lies).

Mining is not 1 in 7 jobs in Queensland. It’s 1 in 25. And coal? 1 in 100.

6  In The Guardian I read that:

“11,000 scientists state. We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”

And there is good reason to believe that with simple observation that the frequency of weather events may be linked to Climate Change. At least you wouldn’t ignore it.

The deputy Prime Minister (sorry, I can never remember his name) when asked about the connection said:

“They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they’re trying to save their homes.”

 Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Adam Brant were also criticised for suggesting that Climate Change and events like the fires in NSW and QLD are linked. It’s to do with the timing.

And as if not to be left out of the nasty comments, Barnaby Joyce suggested the unfortunate people who lost their lives were Green voters.

And it is a sensitive issue but I don’t know why our politicians want to hide from it.

I’m sick and tired of people saying, “We need to have a conversation about this” or “There needs to be a serious debate on the issue.”

But, PM, what about future drought proofing of our nation? Have you done any work on that? It’s called planning for the future?

What is needed is more listening to the science followed by action on it. How dare they say they know more than a scientist who has made it his/her life’s work.

I will end this section with some good news. On Wednesday 6 of November the National Energy Market produced more than half of its electricity via renewable sources.

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

And still on the environment, The Australian (firewalled) reports that:

The Emissions Reduction Fund Set up by the Abbott government in 2015, has been re-badged recently as the Climate Solutions Fund. Former Origin Energy CEO Grant King is part of a panel that has been set up to review the fund, with the panel having received 40 submissions since it was established.

King rejects suggestions the panel was only set up because Australia was in danger of meeting its Paris climate targets, while he believes the fund can be restructured to achieve greater carbon abatement that would see Australia exceed its Paris targets.

7 Did you know that 81% of Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump?

8 The Australian (firewalled) 12 Nov, reported that the:

Parliamentary inquiry into Nationhood National Identity and Democracy had received a paper from the New Democracy Foundation, the ­Melbourne School of Government, and the Susan McKinnon Foundation, proposing fixed parliamentary terms, an increase in the number of ‘free’ votes, and an independent speaker.

If anyone seriously thinks that this government will forgo the slightest advantage it has over its opponent has not observed its behaviour over the past six and a half years. All worthwhile, as are the changes being considered for question time.

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

9 Some ‘prisoners’ have been on Nauru for nearly seven years. That’s a long sentence when you haven’t committed a crime.

10 A friend in retail tells me that Australia’s retail industry is doing it tougher now than at any time since the Bureau of Statistics started tracking their progress.

Some cannot even pay people what they are supposed to.

11 You can expect Energy Minister Angus Taylor to be under more pressure when the parliament sits next.

12 A fine piece by Richard Dennis from the Australia Institute worth reading. Dennis says:

“Greta Thunberg thinks we should stop building new coalmines and urgently increase investment in renewable energy. But who is she to say what’s important and what’s not? Doesn’t she know? We have parliaments, boards and a media full of older men to tell us what’s important.

That’s why diversity really matters”

You can read the article here.

13 Rupert Murdoch is in trouble with News Corporation reporting a loss of $306.7 million for the September quarter. Australia was the main contributor to the loss with “lower subscriptions from Foxtel” and “challenges in the Australian housing market.” I’m guessing revenues from newspaper advertising were also down.

14 The ABC will not broadcast the Olympic Games. Is there is a message there for the government?

I guess I had better finish here. There were other things of course, like the Auditor General’s warning about pork barrelling.

And I did want to comment on Morrison’s quiet Australians.

Of course I had to leave out Peter Dutton’s call for mandatory sentences for people who break the law while protesting, and for suggesting protesters on welfare should have their payments cancelled.

My thought for the day

At some time in the future history will record that even though they should have known better the people of Australia made, in May 2019, a monumental mistake in electing a Morrison government. Subsequently some lessons will be learned the hard way.

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Impeaching the President: 5 possibilities

The probable impeachment of Donald Trump – like Brexit in England – has the citizens of both nations totally bored or captivated, depending on your point of view.

In the USA, in accordance with their Constitution, if a President is impeached then the Vice President takes his or her place. More on Pence later.

(Note that for this post I have borrowed heavily from the Progressive Secular Humanist site (and others) for views on the Vice President).

The point I’m making here is what difference would it make to the day-to-day running of the White House and international affairs. Would Pence be any different to Trump?

America is now 363 days from its next election. Given the length of time an impeachment will take it will certainly muddy the waters in the pre-election race.

But what does it mean to ordinary Australians unfamiliar with the American political process?

After reading what it is Pence believes in and stands for and then do a personality match with Scott Morrison you will see the purpose of my piece and the reason for posting it. Both nations would have religious nutters as their leaders.

Well, in my search for something concise and well-explained I came across this ABC article by Peter Marsh and Emily Olson on our own ABC; “Donald Trump’s impeachment will end one of these ways” which outlines five possibilities for impeachment proceeding, together with the chance of each happening.

(Before I go on, and just to make it clear where my opinion of the President of the United States of America sits, you may wish to peruse one of my earlier posts on the subject).

If you want to know more about the formal arrangements for impeachment read this. For the sake of brevity I have edited the following comments from the above site.

There are five possibilities.

1) A formal impeachment vote is never pursued

At the moment the Democrats, who control the House, are just conducting an impeachment investigation. There is a world in which Democrats decide that their investigation didn’t turn up enough evidence to hold any kind of official vote on impeachment.

Matthew Glassman, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University has said:

… it’s really important to keep in mind that impeachment is a political process, not a legal one. Which means the politics of it will have a big influence on how things play out.

Chance of this happening?

Dr. Glassman said it’s still unlikely that the Democrats drop the vote altogether.

2) An impeachment vote in the House fails before we get to the first vote in the House, the step right before is one of the most important to keep an eye on.

Chance of this happening?

Given the amount of precious policy-making time that Democrats will have put into drafting the articles at that point, it’s pretty unlikely that they’d fail to pass them.

Dr Reynolds [a senior fellow with the Brookings Institute] agrees “simply based on the number of Democrats who have come out in favor of the impeachment inquiry and that many of those Democrats did so before we had the additional information that we have now about the Ukraine call.”

Oh, and if you’re wondering when this vote could happen, your best bet is to just wait it out.

The Democrats, eager to avoid clashing with big election events, have said they’d wrap things up by December, but other reporting suggests that’s too ambitious given the weight of the choices they’ll need to make.

3) The House votes to impeach, the Senate acquits

This is the outcome where Mr. Trump’s support with Republicans holds firm.

Dr. Glassman said the Senate trial is likely to last for “weeks, not months”, running six days a week. He said the constitution is very clear about impeachment, but it doesn’t get into the nitty-gritty of the process.

It means Republicans will have a lot of control over the rules of the impeachment trial (like how long people can speak, what evidence can be presented etc.) because they hold a majority in the Senate.

Pretty much everything will be televised. “The chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial,” Dr Reynolds said.

As for the President himself appearing as a witness? Don’t count on it.

Republicans control 53 votes. As long as fewer than 20 decide to remove Mr. Trump from office, he’ll be acquitted.

He’s still considered to be impeached (just like Bill Clinton), but as Dry Glassman points out: “It functionally has no effect.”

Chance of this happening?

Democrats control the House. Republicans control the Senate. And partisanship remains a major factor in American politics.

All of that means as things stand at the moment – this is the most likely outcome of this impeachment process, according to Dry Glassman.

“The most likely outcome at this point is a majority vote to impeach in the House, and the President is acquitted in the Senate,” he said.

4) The House votes to impeach, the Senate convicts

This is the worst possible outcome for Mr. Trump. If 67 senators (that’s every Democrat and independent, as well as at least 20 Republicans) vote to convict, he is removed from office.

It happens immediately, and Vice-President Mike Pence is sworn in as president shortly after.

Chance of this happening?

Dr Glassman thinks this is very unlikely, but not for the reason you’d expect.

He said Mr. Trump would catch wind of Republicans’ plan to vote yes and resign before the Senate had a chance to vote, rather than lose a public vote and become the first president to ever be convicted.

5) Trump steps down (aka the Nixon approach)

This could happen at any time. Or never.

If Mr. Trump does decide to step down the impeachment process would stop, and Mr. Pence would become president.

Dr Glassman said if (and remember it’s a BIG if) this were going to happen, it would play out just like it did in 1974, when Republican leaders visited president Richard Nixon to tell him that his support had collapsed, and he would certainly be impeached.

Chance of this happening?

Probably never as the facts stand at the moment.

“There’s very little about Trump’s personality that suggests to me that this would be something that is possible,” Dr Reynolds said.

Now about Mike Pence. What do we know?

Some say that he is a “cruel, religious extremist with dreams of a Christian theocracy.” The former Indiana Governor is conservative Christian who doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state, and places his Christian faith above the U.S.

He is on the record as saying that he is ”a Christian, a conservative, and a Republican, in that order.”

He was raised a Democrat by Irish-Catholic parents in Indiana, and considered John F Kennedy one of his first heroes.

His conversionto born-again Christianity, and the influence of Ronald Reagan, saw him shift to the Right of the political spectrum.”

As a practicing Evangelical and from his utterings there is much we know about how his worldview, his religion and his politics come together.

For example, we know that he is a creationist and that he thinks creationism should be taught in public schools.

As a congressman his attitude to life’s beginnings were specific. He opposed evolution, and believes that only creationism (intelligent design) provides a ”rational explanation for the known universe.” A theory disproven by science.

Five years ago when addressing the US House of Representatives he argued vehemently that evolution is ”only a theory” and that public schools should teach both the theory of intelligent design and the theory of evolution.

If you have become a little frightened at this stage hang onto your seat, there’s more to come.

Pence’s most

“controversial decision as governor was to sign the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law in 2015.

Advocates said it would expand “religious liberty” by allowing business owners to push back when government policy was in conflict with their beliefs.”

Pence is on the record as saying that:

”I believe that God created the known universe, the earth and everything in it, including man. And I also believe that someday scientists will come to see that only the theory of intelligent design provides even a remotely rational explanation for the known universe.”

To suggest that the Bible is a literal truth is the alternate untruth.

His speech also contained the surprising and misleading claim that:

“… creationism is a valid scientific alternative to the theory of evolution, arguing that creationism should be taught alongside evolution in the public school science classroom.”

The ability of thinking human beings to blindly embrace what they are being told without referring to evaluation and the consideration of scientific fact, truth and reason never ceases to amaze me. It is tantamount to the rejection of rational explanation.

On the environment and the subject of Climate Change Pence is a passionate denier.

And this man could be the next President of the United States of America!

My thought for the day

America may be the most advanced technological nation on earth but its social progress on matters of great moral importance, INCLUDING ITS POLITICS is still fighting its way out of the dark ages when mysticism was rampart.

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