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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.

If you wanted more proof Coalition misdemeanours, here it is

Continued from Coalition misdemeanours: the list is long.

From Part 1, a refresher:

I have had the following list in my files for some time. They were first circulated early last year, and shared so widely that I am unable to determine neither its origin or creator, though I thank him or her for their efforts. There is enough meat in their list to make some salient observations.

The list [from Part 1] contains allegations of government corruption and misdeeds covering the early part of the Abbott/Turnbull/ Morrison era.

It is just the start. My next post [today’s post] will cover the latter part of Turnbull’s tenure and Morrison’s impact.

I continue the list (with some extra of my own):

50 George Christensen charges taxpayers for domestic flights and ComCar trips that were part of his trips to known red-light districts of the Philippines. Then, when he is caught, he pays back $2,100 with no consequences.

51 Barnaby Joyce runs up a bill of $675,000 in 9 months in his role as Special Drought Envoy. When asked what he did in the roll, Joyce explained that he sent his “report” in the form of multiple text messages to Morrison; when The Guardian submitted a Freedom Of Information request for these texts, it was rejected because Morrison was too busy to retrieve them.

52 The Coalition awarded a $423million contract to run Manus Island detention facilities to a small and almost unknown company called Paladin as part of a “limited tender” process only meant to be used under exceptional circumstances. The company’s head office was a small shack on Kangaroo Island, and family members of the PNG Parliament were directly profiting from the contract. (Expanded from Point 18 in Part 1 of this list).

53 On two separate occasions, Peter Dutton personally intervened to have European au pairs allowed into the country after being initially refused by Border Force. The first was on behalf of an old Police colleague, the second on behalf of the AFL Chief Executive and son of a Liberal Party donor.

54 Barnaby Joyce’s ‘mistress’, Vikki Campion, was forced to leave her role as his staffer when rumours of their affair started causing tension with colleagues. As a result, she was given a plum $190,000 a year job with good friend Senator Matt Canavan despite Parliamentary rules prohibiting ‘partners’ positions.

55 The Coalition granted $200,000 to Foxtel’s Sky News to fund a new show featuring future Liberal Candidate Warren Mundine. The funding was taken from money budgeted for “Indigenous Advancement”. Inquiries later found that the grant had been officially approved before Mundine had even formally applied for it.

56 Assistant Treasurer Stuart Robert charged taxpayers $2,000 a month for home internet, blaming “connectivity issues”. He was later forced to repay $38,000 in inappropriately claimed expenses but was not further investigated.

57 Barnaby Joyce approved a ‘dodgy’ $80million water buyback from a property owned by a Cayman Island’s based company that Energy Minister Angus Taylor used to be the Director of and his college mate now ran. Then, when Twitter users began to discuss it, his lawyers sent letters threatening legal action for defamation if they didn’t delete the tweets.

58 A property owned by Energy Minister Angus Taylor’s brother was alleged to have illegally burned 30 hectares of native grassland classified as endangered under existing environmental laws. After Angus Taylor personally intervened and met with then Environment Minister Josh Frydenberg about the investigation into his brother, the Government suddenly announced a review into the part of Commonwealth environment laws that deals explicitly with endangered native grasses.

And that is where the list that I acquired ends and mine begins. I have not placed my list in any particular order but just how they have come to mind.

1 The Labor Party instigated a price on carbon, and out of hand, the Coalition repealed it. It was arguably the worst policy decision by any Australian Government ever.

Almost a decade on, we are no further advanced. Writing in The Guardian, Katharine Murphy spells out the consequences:

“Over the past couple of months, the International Energy Agency has said fossil fuel expansion must end now if the planet is to address the climate crisis; there has been a G7 declaration (with Morrison in attendance) that public financing of unabated coal-fired power must stop this year and a pledge that net-zero emissions must be achieved by 2050 “at the latest.”

2 The former senior spy dubbed Witness K has been given a three month suspended sentence for conspiring to reveal classified information about an alleged spying operation during oil and gas treaty negotiations between Australia and East Timor. His lawyer Bernard Collaery awaits sentencing. Both were only ever guilty of telling the truth. That being that the Australian Government was guilty of espionage on its neighbour East Timor with the intent of robbing them of what was theirs. A secret trial like no other.

3 An international fail on diplomacy. Words are a beautiful means of communicating with others. How you use them with other countries takes great skill and an understanding beyond that of Scott Morrison.

Jumping to his defence comes David Speers:

“Prime ministers all say things they live to regret. It’s how they clean up the mess that inevitably follows that can be telling.”

4 Morrison refused:

“… to apologise to: Christine Holgate, the former Australia Post boss who says she was bullied, harassed and hounded out of a job, in part because of her gender and in part by the Prime Minister.”

5 Chris Graham writing in New Matilda broke the story that:

“On the day before the 2019 federal election, the Morrison government gave $15 million to one of its largest donors – the retail giant Wesfarmers, which had recently announced a half-yearly profit of $4.5 billion.”

6 Christian Porter remained in a job [but not for long] despite calls for an independent inquiry into historic rape allegations from several quarters, including the alleged victim’s own family. He pulled out of his defamation case and has to pay costs.

7 No use pretending otherwise. The Australian rollout of COVID-19 vaccines at 3% has been and continues to be a balls up of epic proportions, and the fault is undeniably that of Scott Morrison and his Government.

8 Scott Morrison and his Government stand accused of not having any empathy at all, and it is true. For example, they jailed the Biloela family on Christmas Island without regard to the cost, and they have been incarcerated there for three years. All because Morrison wants them to be seen as an example to others who might seek asylum here. How pathetic. “The Biloela family are just the latest unwilling participants trapped in Australia’s ongoing theatre of cruelty.”

9 Liberal Party MP Dr Andrew Lamming made headlines – albeit for the wrong reasons – after he allegedly bullied two female constituents online, including the wife of a local councillor.

10 Remember Sports Rorts? The Sydney Morning Herald’s article “Remember sports rorts? Here’s why we mustn’t forget that shameful episode” gives us an insight and a warning:

“These are the lessons of the abuse of the $100 million Community Sports Infrastructure grants program. The Sports Rorts program offers a prism illuminating all that is wrong with the Government.”

11 And then we come to Paul Fletcher, who:

“… previously served as cities and urban infrastructure minister – weighed into the controversy about the purchase of the so-called Leppington Triangle from a Liberal donor, explaining the decision was made by a departmental secretary due to a ‘highly inadequate brief’ that disguised its true value.”

12 So the Prime Minister didn’t know. Then he apparently changed his mind and admits he’d heard that allegations had been levelled against one of his ministers in a letter from friends of a now-deceased woman who had accused the unnamed minister of raping her in the late 1980s.

13 The Royal Commission into Aged Care said:

“Government did not prepare the sector well enough for the pandemic. In a damning report, the commission rejected the Government’s repeated claim it had a plan for aged care, which is a federal responsibility.

The commission said that now ‘is not the time for blame’ for what happened in aged care, where most of the Australian deaths have occurred – as at September 19, 629 out of 844 total deaths. The latest number of deaths from residential aged care is 665.”

14 Continuing the Government’s love of oil:

“The Australian Government’s support for the fossil fuel industry and lack of a credible climate policy has caused UNESCO to recommend the Great Barrier Reef be listed among World Heritage sites in danger, according to a new report.”

15 Arguably, the worst public policy failure in Australian political history is the introduction of Robodebt:

“The federal government’s robodebt scheme was a ‘massive failure in public administration’, according to the Federal Court judge who has approved a $112 million settlement over the “unlawful” program.

The Federal Court approved a $112 million robodebt settlement on Friday morning, with Justice Bernard Murphy criticising the Government over the ‘unlawful program’, labelling it a ‘shameful chapter’ in Australia’s social security history.

The Judge also said it should have been obvious to the public servants and Ministers presiding over the program that it was faulty.”

 

And that:

“In 2018, the Senate was provided with figures showing that, from July 2016 to October 2018, 2030 had died after receiving a robodebt notice. Morrison had his name written all over this policy.”

We must never forget the damage caused by this program. Never. It deserves to be the albatross around Scott Morrison’s neck.

* * * * *

My last post included many accusations of pathetic governance. This one continued down that path adding more facts about Coalition corruption or misdemeanours. In my next post I shall summarise what I have written and pose just what dangers these facts might do to Australia in the future.

Well, I don’t know about you. Still, I’m just about exhausted and I haven’t mentioned the NDIS, the backgrounding on (in this case roughly translated as bad-mouthing) of Higgins’ partner, domestic violence, a failed NBN, racism, transparent government, and the good old-fashioned ‘fair go.’ Then follows discrimination, the destruction of our democracy, and lying in all its guises.

My thought for the day

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

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Coalition misdemeanours: the list is long

In my previous post I mentioned that I would post a list of Coalition misdemeanours over their term in office. There are many, which to most of us would come as no surprise as to the depths of the Coalition’s dirty dealings and the realisation of how rotten these two parties are.

I have had the following list in my files for some time. They were first circulated early last year, and shared so widely that I am unable to determine neither its origin or creator, though I thank him or her for their efforts. There is enough meat in their list to make some salient observations.

The list contains allegations of government corruption and misdeeds covering the early part of the Abbott/Turnbull/ Morrison era. You be the judge.

It is just the start. My next post will cover the latter part of Turnbull’s tenure and Morrison’s impact. Hang onto your seat.

1 Angus Taylor and Barnaby Joyce were involved in a shady water buyback scheme that involved channelling money through the Cayman Islands

2 Andrew Robb was taking an $880k/yr job with a donor before even leaving politics (alleged).

3 Christopher Pyne took a job with E&Y straight after politics – despite the fact he was the Defence Minister, E&Y had been awarded $21 million in contracts to do consulting work for the Defence force.

4 Julie Bishop was appointed to the board of Palladium after exiting politics – a company that profits from foreign affairs (her previous portfolio).

5 Barnaby Joyce misused his travel allowance to stay with Vicki Campion.

6 Julie Bishop and her $450k Chinese sponsored “Glorious Foundation.”

7 Former Liberal President Shane Stone was paid $500k per year to oversee flood recovery efforts in rural Queensland. This salary is nearly the same as our Prime Minister (not illegal, of course).

8 George Christensen was accused of spending 300 days in the Philippines during the last few years – despite claiming to represent the Australian people.

9 Fraser Anning claimed $35k for family travel expenses on 44 trips between January and December 2018. Then there was his recent problem with women.

10 Sussan Ley popping up to the Gold Coast on travel allowance and ‘accidentally’ buying a $700k apartment at the same time.

11 Failure to address housing inequality – when at the time 226 federal MPs owned 524 properties, there’s zero incentive to address the problem

12 Barnaby Joyce free rent from a donor. (See above).

13 Billions of dollars in foreign aid go to Indonesia – they, in turn, purchase billions of dollars’ worth of military helicopters and now consider bidding for the 2032 Olympic Games!

14 Joe Hockey owns more than $1 million worth of shares in Helloworld – whose share price goes up 164% in 4 years since being awarded a string of government contracts worth $1 billion. Talk about insider trading. Mattias Cormann, not realising at the time that his family got a free holiday to Singapore – only weeks after Helloworld was awarded a new government contract.

15 Barnaby Joyce purchases property with insider knowledge of the rail route.

16 The continued protection of individuals’ tax-free status with millions of dollars in tax – whilst the lowest paid people in society struggle to get any meaningful wage increases due to how the official CPI calculation has been corruptly manipulated to keep wages low artificially.

17 Matt Canavan failing to declare property interests.

18 Peter Dutton awards a $423m contract through a ‘limited tender’ process to Paladin to run Manus Island – a company his sister, works for that has no previous experience in running such facilities.

19 Sale of Darwin’s port to a Chinese company four days after $40k donation to LNP. (Alleged).

20 $30m to Foxtel for women’s sports, while cutting $84m from the ABC (later added another $10 million).

21 David Feeney failing to declare $2.3m house

22 Choppergate by Bronwyn Bishop.

23 Sussan Ley $21k on cabs in the USA in one week.

24 Tony Abbott’s repeated expenses that have needed to be repaid, e.g. 2016 total expense claims equivalent to 37 years of Newstart payments

25 Tony Abbott’s daughter acquired a $37,000 unadvertised “scholarship.”

26 Arthur Sinodinos’s inability to recall anything under oath at NSW ICAC. (He is now Ambassador to the USA).

27 Roman Quaedvlieg’s (Border Force) $500k nine months paid leave.

28 Failure to fix significant scale tax evasion – why do so many massive businesses persist with Australia if they collectively lose trillions here? (Good question).

29 Michaelia Cash was leaking to the media before raids on AWU – and then spending nearly $1m of taxpayers dollars trying to defend her behaviour.

30 Similar for NBN raids on Stephen Conroy’s office.

31 Sarina Russo receives $754m of contracts in return for a $20k donation to LNP in 2010 (Alleged).

32 NBN issues multi-million FTTC contract to NetComm, whose chairman is also a director of NBN co. (I’m unaware of this one).

33 George Brandis allegedly forced Justin Gleeson’s resignation as Solicitor General, lying to a Senate enquiry.

34 Steve Irons “electorate business” in Gold Coast spending $2k for the wife to attend with him. (I’m unaware of this one.)

35 Georgina Downer was handing over big cheques for government grants in her ‘electorate’ despite not even being an elected member of Parliament.

36 Stewart Robert’s inappropriate behaviour on a trip to China.

37 The Government gave $640k to Bjorn Lomborg for a climate-denying book.

38 Eric Hutchinson appointed to $160k job after losing his seat in 2016 election

39 George Brandis appointing his son’s lawyer to $370k/yr job (Firewall).

40 Craig Laundy failing to declare businesses on a register of interests.

41 $444m to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation with no tendering – straight into the pockets of directors with links to Liberal National Party.

42 Cabinet Minister Kelly O’Dwyer told colleagues the Liberals are widely regarded as “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers” during a crisis meeting of the federal Victorian Liberal party.

43 A $4.6 billion buy off deal was struck with Catholic and independent schools, heading off another potential election-losing issue.

44 Mr Morrison flagged Australia’s Israeli embassy’s shifting to Jerusalem to win backing from Jewish investment bankers to keep funding Australia’s record debt.

45 Then Finance Minister Mathias Cormann charged taxpayers $4,400 to take his wife on a romantic beach getaway on her birthday. More recently was his use of a government aircraft to fly around the world to secure a job with the OECD.

46 ‘Nick’ Zhao, a Chinese born Australian, goes to ASIO telling them he’s been offered $1million from the Chinese Government to run as a Liberal Party candidate and then infiltrate the Australian Parliament as a Chinese Spy. He then turns up dead in a Melbourne hotel room in March. Enter Gladys Liu, the Liberal Candidate with a host of concerning connections to the Chinese Government who earns Liberal pre-selection thanks to miraculously raising a million dollars in donations. Fairfax then discovered a photo of Liu at her home with Nick Zhao in the background. Gladys is now the Liberal Member for Chisolm.

47 Liberal Candidates Gladys Liu and Josh Frydenberg both have signs in Mandarin at polling booths in the colours of the Australian Electoral Commission branding telling Chinese citizens how to vote (by putting one next to the Liberal Candidate).

There is no Liberal Party branding on the sign. However, liberal officials admit in court that the characters were designed to convey the appearance of official electoral commission material.

48 Angus Taylor writes a public letter, published in The Daily Telegraph, to Sydney Mayor Clover Moore criticising her for her millions of dollars of domestic travel. However, the document he quotes is a forgery.

Taylor refuses to disclose where he got the fake document and denies all Freedom of Information requests from the media that might give insight.

49 Fake ‘How To Vote’ cards were handed out in Peter Dutton’s seat of Dickson designed to trick Greens Voters into voting for Dutton.

Fortunately many of the names on the list are no longer Members of Parliament!

Anyway, that’s where I will round it off for the first part of this most revealing list. (And one to keep in mind prior to the next election). The next post will further reaffirm my contention that Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison presided over the most rotten Governments in living memory.

My thought for the day

I found it impossible to imagine that the Australian people could be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that has performed so miserably in the first two. A government with some of the most devious, suspicious and corrupt men and women amongst its members, but they did.

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Who do you trust?

At the end of my last post I suggested I needed more words to explain my proposition that Labor could win the next election. I did so because I felt l would be overwhelmed by anti-Albanese comments.

True to form, the anti-Albanese’s (mainly Facebook) were at it wanting a character full of sarcastic rebukes and aggressive remonstration. Even if it were Tanya Plibersek. I do not doubt that Albo has that in him; I have seen it when Albo was his party’s attack dog during Question Time. But when people are sick to death of shouty debate, it will not shape a believable candidate when looking for someone they can trust to oppose Scott Morrison.

Albo has all the characteristics of a politician who has given long service to his electorate, party, and country. He has held several portfolios and has served as deputy Prime Minister.

However, his main attribute is that he has a clean slate without scandals: Nothing on which Morrison (or the media) can pin a controversy. In other words, he is more trustworthy than Morrison. And that, of course, also applies when words like decency, transparency, lying, honesty, morality and fairness are used to describe a political candidate.

Who would you trust?

With Albanese, we have a man who can, when necessary, raise the tone of a debate while appealing to people’s better instincts.

Conversely, in Morrison, we have a Prime Minister who refuses to answer questions about his knowledge of one of his best friends’ involvement in the conspiracy theory QAnon. It is the “why” he won’t answer that annoys people. If there is nothing in it, why not answer?

And it’s a little early, but Morrison could always employ the Liberal’s favourite scare campaign saying that the boats will start again if the Biloela family is granted asylum. There isn’t one iota of evidence that this is so, yet the Coalition sticks to its hard-line policy. It will lead to the floodgates opening again, they might say. And after all these years, raising this issue against a child’s illness is despicable and fills one with disgust.

Immigration Minister Alex Hawke has the final say, but it was like taking a step back in time listening to him last Thursday. The words remain the same, as does the manner in which they are conveyed.

But of course:

“… the pedlars of verbal dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of lying because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. They use our countries gift of free speech to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.”

But alas, I have drifted from the points I wanted to add to my last piece. I wanted to strengthen my view that there were enough issues so damaging to the Government that Labor would make it look vulgar in an election campaign: Problems that amount to gross incompetency and negligence are as numerous as mice in a cornfield.

For example, at the G7 conference, the emissions reductions promised by the US, UK and EU doubled those proposed by the Morrison government. They also promised more policies before Cop26 in Scotland.

By comparison, Australia, in the eyes of the world, looks foolish and uncommitted. Despite acknowledging that the world is moving to a new energy economy, Scott Morrison has yet to address how Australia fits into it.

Australians now clearly see the need for us to be part of this new world. A world in which we lead the technologies race and the will to make it happen. Yet the conservative attitude that has so blinkered their thinking since Labor first proposed a carbon tax continues to take us down the wrong path and will not get us there in the future.

COVID-19 and the Royal Commission into Aged Care have highlighted the Morrison Government’s horrifying attitude to aged care in our country. So much so that I found (as an 80-year-old) this source for my research upsetting:

“Homer Simpson could have seen the catastrophe in aged care coming with COVID-19 because it was there in your face,” said Professor Joseph Ibrahim, head of the Health Law and Ageing Research Unit at Monash University.

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. It is lying by omission. It is also equivalent to the manipulation of our democracy.

The Government’s outright incompetency has:

… cost 909 deaths from COVID-19, more than two-thirds of them (685) people in aged care facilities. Sadly, this is a disgrace, and the blame sits securely at the Government’s feet.

Yet another stone to throw at the Morrison government is the Coalition’s failure to produce a policy on the oversight of corruption or even a national security review. To find the answer to why a national ICAC has been left to decay at the grave of crime, you only have to read a list of the Coalition’s blunders, scandals and corrupt activities.

To formulate such a list – a complete one guaranteed to shock those who value their vote – will require a few more days. The more I dug, the deeper the scandals became. So can you please wait in anticipation?

Governments who demand the people’s trust need to govern transparently to acquire it.

I contend that the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments are the most incompetent, corrupt and unempathetic governments in my lifetime. The cabinet is full of narcissistic males who have a low opinion of women and a lessor one of the citizens they serve. And an awful lot of academic achievers who wouldn’t know shit from clay, as the saying goes.

This being so, then why are they still in power? Many of the activities, as mentioned earlier, should have required ministerial resignation. Still, principles and responsibilities seem to have been thrown out the window by this Government which has grown worse in this last term. Yes, they are ripe for defeat, and deserve to be.

My thought for the day

The real enemy of neoconservative politics in Australia is not Labor or indeed democratic socialism. It is simply what Australians affectionally call. A fair go.

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What’s it all about, Albo? Morrison or you?

I’m inclined to believe that the next election is more likely to be about Morrison than Albanese. If that seems odd to you, then stay with me. In the most recent US Presidential Election, Senator Biden used a low-key strategy focused not on himself but President Trump’s record, policies, actions, offensiveness, and lying.

In other words, he made Trump the issue, just as Howard did with Latham, and Morrison with Shorten. It was not about himself. This strategy proved to be most effective, and Biden went on to win by 6 million votes. And Howard then Morrison.

Ostensibly what Albo has to do is be himself and point out until boredom sets in the many varied and costly mistakes the Coalition has made. None more so than the Robodebt fiasco which cost the taxpayer an estimated 2 billion dollars. Thus far, nobody is responsible for probably the most extraordinary act of culpability the nation has ever seen, and it was the Prime Minister’s idea and responsibility. Nothing short of a Royal Commission is required to flush out those responsible for this crime against the citizens of Australia.

By playing low key, Albo, in my opinion, will place the focus entirely on Morrison, his policies, his record and his character. Not a bad strategy when you bundle up almost three terms of plain awful governance. When you look back over the Coalition’s three terms in office, you cannot be but shocked at the extent of their incompetency.

The sheer length of their horrifying governance and the volume of their inhumaneness is what Albo must attack. It would stretch the length of any campaign trail and give forth a constant stream of scandal, corruption, and bad management.

For me, it’s got to be, “Has your life improved under the Coalition government?” Or “Look at the performance of this government, it has been atrocious – scandal after scandal, numerous bad policies and the absence of any humanity where citizens can feel their government has their back and won’t abandon them.”

My premises are not based on wishful thinking but on the belief that there is always a point when all the wrong you created eventually catches up. And there is ample evidence of that now.

It seems to me that for some time now, the electorate has been giving Morrison more than just a cursory going over. Instead, they have become more analytical of the man and his policies.

An election might have been pencilled in for the last quarter of 2021, but a string of atrocious scandals, decisions, and massive mishandling of COVID-19 vaccinations may have forced them to pull out until the first quarter of 2022.

Indeed, the Coalition will start favourite mainly because – ironically – of their handling the pandemic. Early on, there is no doubt that the government will inherit the favour of the people (even though the states bore the heavy burden), however, all that will be negated by its woeful handling of the vaccine distribution. There is great angst in the community against its inability to carry out the promises it proposed.

Another societal or phycological mismanagement that could cost them dearly is the refusal of the Prime Minister to release the Tamil family detained for two years on Christmas Island.

We have gone past the used by date of “stop the boats” and “on-water matters” of the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison era. Past the scaremongering of “Muslims are coming to get you,” and “marriage inequality.” And beyond, second-rate politicians like Acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack warn against federal Liberal MPs’ calls for the Biloela Tamil family detained on Christmas Island to return home to Queensland.

The treatment of this family and others is so unrepresentative of our instincts as global citizens that it makes my blood boil. It infuriates my understanding of why we vote to retain such a Prime Minister. Perhaps he should consult his wife Jen as he did about rape to determine the damage incarceration can do to children roughly the same age as his own.

This story has echoed worldwide and reminded us of how cruelly Australia practises its deterrence – the more stubborn, the better. My view is that the world is sick to death of the far-right phonies who pretend to know what is best for us when it is really them that know who governments can do best for.

David Littleproud (Deputy leader of the National Party) said on morning ABC News (14 June) that a solution for the Biloela family would be found because, ultimately, we are a fair people. I wouldn’t dispute that it’s just that we have a dreadfully unfair government.

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

As I write, our media suggests that the government is on the verge of announcing a solution. However, even if they do, a residue of the stench of the government’s inaction will follow them into the election.

The people have had enough of this gratuitous governance for almost a decade now, and may I suggest people want more truth, more transparency, more honesty, more of all the things in the ingredients in the recipe of good governance? But, in reality, all the things this government is not.

There is nothing new about scandals; they have been part of the political landscape for as long as I can remember. But unfortunately, so frequently do they occur that if you blink, you might miss them.

Here is one, now almost all but forgotten:

In December 2019, contrary to the rules on the use of commonwealth aircraft, the Prime Minister and the Treasurer billed taxpayers almost $5,000 to take the prime minister’s private jet from Canberra to Sydney for Lachlan Murdoch’s 2018 Christmas party. There was little public outcry, no remorse, no embarrassment, and it scarcely registered as a scandal? It’s that easy to get away with.

In February of this year, Nick Feik in The Monthly wrote of this scandal-ridden government that:

“Scandals are nothing new in Australian politics, but the way they have piled up in the recent years of Coalition government points to a critical shift in our governance. Acts of malfeasance and impropriety have become more than isolated episodes, more than egregious slips or embarrassing failures. Unexplained and unresolved, they are open wounds on the body politic, overlapping and now chronic.”

Of course, the next election and the accompanying campaign policies will carry the burden of climate change. But, whilst an agreement by the G7 last weekend commits members to phase out government support for fossil fuels, our Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack was singing the praises of coal, reinforcing yet again his government’s commitment to the industry.

That the Coalition remains in dispute of the science is a given. That they intend to do little to improve the planet’s health must be a feature of Labor’s campaign. But just as public opinion is now firmly behind a world without fossil fuels, it would be a significant mistake not to take an unshakeable commitment to renewables to the election.

There is a mountain of material to attack the Coalition on appalling governance alone. But, further, I believe that the electorate has realised that corrupt liars and fools govern us.

The Australian people are waking up to the fact that government affects every part of their lives, and should be more interested. As a result, the political malaise that has been so deep-seated is beginning to disintegrate, and the government is being judged with reinvigorated minds.

“Hey, these guys are corrupt,” you will hear them say.

My thought for the day.

“I feel people on the right of politics in Australia show an insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination. They have a hate on their lips, and their hate starts with the beginning of a smile.”

PS: In its wisdom (or cruelty), the government granted the Tamil family community detention, which in reality is no decision at all, just an extension of its problem (or misery). This should be of no surprise given their attitude to such matters.

I believe that l have not fully covered my argument in this piece, so l will continue on this theme in my next post. Your comments might be of some assistance.

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Attempting to tame the juveniles in the play pit – or at least their stupidity – is a thankless task

Earlier this year, I consciously decided to give Question Time a miss for the year or until it at least resembled a sliver of those things that make up a democracy. Not the chamber of collective juvenile circus performers we have now. Instead, a group of men and women whose words and actions resemble those of people who have never grown up.

However, for some reason or another, I succumbed on the day that the current Speaker Tony Smith sat the Prime Minister on his backside together with Greg Hunt. What a sight they made of sucking on their thumbs while all the other juveniles played games on their phones. You can watch them here.

In it, you will witness just how badly the juvenile types behave. Even Uncle Tony’s futile attempts to put some of them back to sleep for an afternoon nap seems not to affect their behaviour one iota.

Honestly, the House of Representatives during Question Time resembles a kindergarten rather than a showcase for our democracy. Perhaps I’m a little unfair in belittling the juvenile types when I say that, but Smith was deservedly blunt when telling those acting like three-year-olds to get back to sleep or just shut up.

Yes, Mr Speaker Tony Smith told MPs that he was more than a bit cross just after playtime on Thursday.

At least a few of them stopped moaning long enough for him to hear points of order. The Speaker said:

“Obviously, in the course of the last week, I’ve enforced the standing orders vigorously… I intend to keep doing that, and the reason for that was to get an improvement in parliamentary standards.”

Another interpretation might have been: “If you all persist in being such dickheads – you can forget your afternoon naps.”

Smith, for sure, wanted to make his intentions heard in the Chamber. So during Question Time the following week, he sat Prime Minister Scott Morrison on his backside when the Prime Minister failed to heed his warning to return to the substance of a question. Direct relevance indeed.

Both Hunt and the Treasurer Josh Frydenberg also found his displeasure with a warning from Mr Speaker that he would use the ushers of the big black rod on their bare bums if they didn’t toe the line.

Anyway, as juveniles do, they all tried to push the line a little too far. Hence, the Speaker gave the flick to those immature little morons who use depressing brainless juvenile Dorothy Dix questions to sledge the opposition. Albo also called them out, saying it’s about time they grew up.

And the Speaker had to endure a prolonged assault on his highchair from the newly chrome-domed leader of the government in the House, Peter Dutton. There was even a rumour that he might challenge for the top job if he matured in time for the next election. There was some doubt, however, over the daily management of his potty mouth.

A few of the juvenile kids have spat their dummies since Porter quit the job. Any wonder why.

Anyway, at the end of the two-week parliamentary session, the Speaker called all MPs together for a dose of honesty to settle them down before telling them that he reckoned his ban on rattles was working. And:

“It has certainly been quieter,” the Speaker noted. “That’s for two reasons: those making the noise don’t stay in the chamber very long, and the vast majority of members have understood the need for an improvement in standards.”

So impressed was the Speaker with the improvement that he gave each member a new toy to play with now that the juvenile biting, pinching, and hair-pulling had stopped. He even gave thanks to the many members, private citizens and those in the public galleries who had approached him, thanking him for at least returning Question Time to some semblance of a kindergarten.

“I thought it was important to make that point as we finish up the sitting week,” he said.

Smith’s decision to take it up to those who think they can throw food at each other across the chamber continuously was going too far. His decision to pull them all into shape by telling them that they were little useless clowns intent on destroying our democracy.

Seriously though, there was a time that the public trusted our politicians to do the right thing while they just got on with life. When politics was a principled occupation – a time when Question Time may have been combative, but it had a purpose. But, unfortunately, the current one has none other than to tell lies or put down the opposition.

So, the question remains: Will these juvenile thugs have their way in the Parliament, or will they learn the difference between manners and civility?

Can Question Time get any worse than the appalling mess than it is? Can it be rescued by those intent on saving our institutions and our democracy?

There is a background to Smith’s attempt to change how the voting public gets but a small glimpse of the workings of their Parliament. A Senate committee had been working on changing Question Time from the thuggish presentation to be slightly less dreadful. The parliamentary committee recommends modest changes in the standing orders – changes that would turn Question Time from a bull pit into a wild dog pit. In other words, not much at all. Bloody little brats need to get a hold of themselves and understand that there are ladies present.

Katherine Murphy in The Guardian explained it this way:

“Smith presumably knew the whole complex was so heavily invested in being appalling that those changes had little to no chance of being adopted, so he decided to set about resetting the spirit of question time using the authority of his office as Speaker.

I strongly suspect the Speaker thinks the problem with behaviour between the hours of 2 and 3pm on sitting days isn’t a function of deficient standing orders. I suspect he thinks it’s a function of two things: MPs choosing to behave badly, and presiding officers more worried about not offending powerful people than about being custodians of important institutions.”

The current Speaker is an honest man desirous of reforming Question Time to resemble something like it was intended. Consequently, people like Katherine Murphy and I are of the same ilk.

I’ll leave the final word to Murphy:

“Smith’s crusade to improve the status quo may or may not work. But the point of drawing attention to it is to provide a level of reassurance to readers that there are people around who would like to change the culture, even modestly.”

Note: I make no apologies for calling those men and women intent on bringing down our democracy “babies” or “juveniles.” But, unfortunately, that is what they act like.

My thought for the day

The right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. Suppose a political party is not transparent in supplying all the information necessary to exercise this right. It is destroying the democracy that enables it to exist.

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A disaster is headed our way if we remain so ambivalent about our vote

It is impossible to imagine that the Australian people would be so gullible as to elect for a fourth term a government that has performed so pathetically in the first three. But they might.

At this stage of the electoral cycle you would have to say that the incumbent government has more than an even chance of being elected. I say this because of the closeness of the polls (and recent elections), and incumbent governments historically always come from behind.

But how do I conclude this when the facts suggest that the government has been an abject failure. The answer, I believe, can be found in our collective complacency or the “she’ll be right, mate” attitude of the Australian people. No matter the seriousness of the problem, in the end, “she’ll be right.” Things sort of work themselves out, mate.

We now accept that politicians these days are corrupt. Once, we trusted them and just got on with our lives. Now we don’t trust them but turn a blind eye to their shenanigans.

Most Australians have allowed themselves to be dumbed down to the point that they are in a state of political unconsciousness. Manipulated to the point of boredom, where more than half of us just go with the flow, re-elect the same idiots and give no thought to the consequences. We can then get on with it. Whatever “it” is.

The fact is we are so bloody compliant, so uncomplaining, so unwilling to take a chance on using our brains. And we are now showing this same indifference with vaccinations against COVID-19.

The pity is that these very same people are oblivious to what is at stake. But what if 20% of eligible voters of the swinging type just stopped and thought about what 9 years of conservatism had bequeathed us.

I confess I have never understood peoples’ unthinking attitude toward the gift that our democracy gives us – the privilege of voting.

I also confess I simply don’t understand how people would vote for anyone who had knowingly tried to put one over on the people by claiming, for example, expenses they were not entitled to.

And I also confess I don’t know how a politician who has been having an affair with one of his employees can be re- elected not once, but twice, and I fail to comprehend how so many mistakes and stuff-ups seems to have such little effect on voter’s intentions.

Has our social morality sunk to such an unfathomable depth?

I don’t understand how our largest banks can be so profoundly censured by a Royal Commission yet continue on their merry way with just a slap on the backside.

Why on earth don’t dried up river banks, dead fish and the Prime Minister’s response to bush fires and vaccines have little effect on his popularity?

How is it possible for a government to survive when aged care, domestic violence and women’s stature have been manipulated to the point of unmitigated sexism?

Why is it that while many are in a state of shock over these matters, the majority take such a layback attitude?

For example, I find it difficult to understand how the people of this nation could vote to re-elect existing members who are plainly degenerate. They are so devious, suspicious and corrupt that their parliamentary behaviour could only be described as a sort of sick moral degeneracy that saturates this government.

I fail to see how we could deliberately vote once again for a government that, by its actions, supports gas and dirty coal and tells lies about our emissions that are blatantly false. It is enough to make one weep in shame, and my temptation is to again list in total all of the government’s indiscretions.

And what a stuff up the vaccine rollout has proven to be.

But those who earnestly follow me on Facebook will know what I’m talking about. From Robodebt to sports rorts so on and so on. Ultimately it is Scott Morrison who is responsible for all of these events. His characterless unempathetic Christian leadership has done nothing to repair the damage done by his two predecessors and himself.

Fortunately, as I was writing, I came across the latest Guardian Essential poll, Tuesday 25May. I think it helps the points I make:

“The latest survey of 1,100 respondents suggests most voters would be irritated if Scott Morrison went to an election later this year rather in the first half of 2022, with 61% characterising any post-budget sprint to the ballot box as political opportunism, and 39% saying that would be reasonable because a lot has changed since the last federal election.

Only 25% of respondents said they were confident the government had a clear plan [for the vaccine rollout].

A further 42% suspected the government did have a plan for the vaccine rollout but believed it had been poorly communicated, while 32% were not confident a plan existed.

Only 21% of the sample believed there was a federal plan on quarantine facilities, while 79% thought either there was a plan but poor communication (38%) or no plan at all (41%).

[On] deficit reduction, 16% felt Morrison had a clear plan, while 84% thought there was a plan but poor communication (43%) or feared no plan (41%).

The idea of a Coalition plan for emissions reduction generated the highest level of scepticism from survey respondents (47% of the sample saw no plan, while 35% saw a poorly communicated plan and 18% felt they could divine a strategy).

Only 22% believed there was a clear plan to reform the Aged Care sector, while 39% thought there was a plan but poor communication, and 39% lacked confidence there was a plan.

On Australians returning from Covid-ravaged India, the latest poll suggests voters are restive about domestic quarantine facilities, with 63% of the sample agreeing with the statement, ‘It should be the federal government’s responsibility to build and manage quarantine facilities across the country’, and 37% believing that should be a state responsibility.”

So, at the risk of repeating myself, I once again ask that straightforward question: “How is it possible that the Australian people would be so gullible as to elect for a fourth term a government that has performed so pathetically in the first three?”

But they might.

My thought for the day

This Government’s performance over its time in office has been like a daily shower of offensiveness raining down on society. Surely performance or lack of it must mean something.

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There are consequences for reneging on a major promise

With the next election possibly but a few months away, it seems highly unlikely that the Coalition will bring any legislation into the House for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission. So pathetic was the last attempt by Christian Porter that it was laughed out of the Chamber.

Be it not for me to say that all the participants in our political system are lilly-whites, but conservatives seem most prone to the evils of the corrupt deal.

It is now two and a half years ago that they promised to legislate for a Commission, and it seems they will renege on it.

There are three possibilities as to why. One is that COVID-19 has made it too difficult to draw up complex legislation. Two might be that it would incriminate the Prime Minister and Cabinet in significant corruption. And three is that there is no money in the budget for such a commission and its long-term costs.

This flies in the face of:

“… the “government’s claim that it understands the need to prioritise transparency and accountability in public life and implement policies to achieve such an outcome.”

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

Suppose it is true that the Coalition doesn’t plan to take a policy to the next election. In that case, it may fly in the face of public opinion and at the same time create the impression that they are scared of doing so because such a commission may want to look at Coalition corruption during its term in office.

As I see it, it is a win-win for Labor. The government cannot produce legislation that will eliminate enquiries into Coalition dealings such as land deals, aged care, political donations, sports rorts, Robodebt and a host of others that would pass the Senate. If we don’t end up with a commission, the government will still have to explain why.

And if Morrison thinks he can explain it away with a few glib lies, then he will be overlooking what is now a long-term, deep-rooted desire for an effective federal anti-corruption body.

Governments who demand the people’s trust need to govern transparently to acquire it.

Dr Colleen Lewis, Honorary Professor, Australian Studies Institute, ANU, is certain that:

“This matter will not go away; indeed, the reverse is the case. In several Australian states, the establishment of an effective anti-corruption model became a significant election issue. Those who care about accountability, openness and transparency at the federal level, and there are many, will ensure that it is front and centre in the forthcoming federal election.

It is time for the government to admit that the Porter-promoted CIC model is so badly flawed as to be an embarrassment to any government that professes to be concerned about effective accountability in the Australian public sector. It is not too late for it to right the wrongs of the past 2 ½ years.”

In October of 2020, Scott Morrison was asked by Anthony Albanese a question about the delay in the legislation. It was obvious that Morrison had zero interest, deflecting the urgency:

 

 

At the time, I wrote that:

“In truth, what these answers delivered was confirmation of an ongoing capacity to lie to the Australian people. The government has been conducting business as usual since the outbreak began. Part of that normality has been legislation to overhaul the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and the foreign veto power proposal plus powers to remove mobile phones from asylum seekers legislation. Add to these other examples, like doubling university fees for some future humanities students.”

I also purported that:

“Like many other readers of this site, I feel that for many years now, the integrity of our politics has been gradually sold out by a bunch of corrupt politicians more intent on feathering their nests than working for the people. We are sick to death of the travel rorts, the living away from home allowance, donation rorts and ministers when they retire, walking into senior positions with companies in the same field.”

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

I could keep going, but I think you get my drift. All of these everyday pieces of legislation have been worked on while at the same time coping with an awful pandemic. With a list of alleged corruption growing longer by the day

And I repeat an earlier claim:

“If all the LNP errors, rorts and corrupt activities during the Morrison government’s tenure were lumped in the same basket as corruption and looked at retrospectively, then an Integrity Commissioner would have years of work.”

My thought for the day

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

 

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When what I do know is only surpassed by what I don’t

I suppose it’s impossible to know everything, but I know that Australians should make a more meaningful attempt to know something about their everyday politics. About what’s going on in the world, particularly their homeland.

I don’t mean that scornfully, but they should consider that If they did, they would make a larger contribution to their country’s future than they do now. A considered, informed vote must carry greater weight than an ill-informed one.

This is why the importance of the words that follow are revealed and shared among those interested in the truth.

1 Last week, the Federal Government said it would instruct the Commonwealth-owned Snowy Hydro company to build a $600 million gas-fired power plant in the NSW Hunter Valley.

The 660-megawatt plant will operate just two per cent of the time and employ just ten full-time workers.

The major problem seems to be that there is no money for the project in the budget, and it doesn’t seem to matter that there is no expert in the field that agrees with the decision.

2 No move in the latest Newspoll. 51/49 to Labor when just 44% said it was a reasonable budget.

The Poll Bludger reports that James Massola of The Age/SMH believes “Liberal MPs think an early election is increasingly likely after Josh Frydenberg’s well-received third federal budget,” although “much will depend on Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.” A balls up in anyone’s language.

3 It seemed reasonable when Labor asked Morrison to update the House about the progress of a report he had commissioned into why he wasn’t told of the allegation of rape to Brittany Higgins.

Did you believe him? Well, Phil Gaetjens, when he appeared before Senate Estimates, looked like a Collingwood supporter after a series of bad losses.

No comment. He couldn’t say who, how or when he interviewed people, nor were any notes taken. His demeanour suggested that he was above all the nonsense and couldn’t be bothered.

4 And as expected, the spin department enquiry by the Liberal Party into allegations that:

“… members of the Prime Minister’s media team briefed journalists against the partner of former staffer Brittany Higgins did not find that the briefings had taken place, saying the evidence fell short.”

His report, in effect, was just another slap on the face for women.

5 On the same case, the employment of the man alleged to have raped Brittany Higgins was not terminated for ten days after he packed up his desk despite the Prime Minister’s claims that he was “sacked, quite swiftly” over a security breach. Did he lie, or didn’t he know? Sorry but it just doesn’t stack up.

In addition, the AFP revealed a further 19 allegations relating to federal MPs and political staffers as PM’s top bureaucrat was refusing to answer questions.

And you wonder why public confidence in the transparency of Government is further diminished.

6 Likewise, is Dutton lying about when he first knew about the rape of Brittany Higgins? The AFP says Dutton’s Defence Department was notified a month before he said he knew.

Fair dinkum, when you tell a lie, you deny others the right to the truth.

7 Prime Minister Scott Morrison refuses to answer legitimate questions in Parliament. It has been going on for some time. He handballs questions directed at him to his Ministers. Questions he should answer himself.

Suddenly, Speaker Tony Smith has had enough of his office being treated as an irrelevance.

So, on Wednesday of last week during Question Time in the House of Representatives, Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese asked Prime Minister Scott Morrison a direct question concerning constructing a purpose-built Quarantine Facility.

Instead of answering the question, Morrison – clearly rattled – launched himself into an angry outburst, saying that Labor was more interested in fighting the Tories than the virus.

Albanese rose on a ‘Point of Order’, but Speaker Tony Smith beat him to the punch. Directly telling Morrison to answer the question as it had been a direct one.

The Speaker then continued speaking from his chair, telling Morrison to answer the question.

Without looking at the Speaker, an irritated Scott Morrison said he was happy to answer the question. With a look that would chest an Abbott shirt front, the Speaker rebuked Morrison for his disregard of the Speakers direction.

Nevertheless, Scott Morrison ignored Speaker Tony Smith and continued by not answering the question and making his own political point.

This confrontation unmistakably demonstrates Scott Morrison’s utter contempt for the Australian Parliament and the Speaker’s position.

Moreover, Scott Morrison puts beyond doubt that he hates being held to account. Even by the Speaker of the House of Representatives with a name like Smith.

Tony Smith thought it necessary to pull Scott Morrison up and make him answer Albanese’s question.

With his usual ignorance, Morrison turns his back to the Speaker and answers the question; all be it in devious fashion.

Older Australians like me would describe our PM as a Mug Lair (all bleach and trousers) who thinks he is God’s gift to Australian politics. Or even the world.

Smith is, without doubt, the best Speaker in my memory. His rebukes on Wednesday helped the Government appear more mature the following day. Now all they need do is start telling the truth about vaccination and quarantine.

If you want to know, his methodology here is some of Dennis Atkins: On Morrison’s four favourite ways to bend the truth. (This makes the release of Crikey‘s A Dossier of Lies and Falsehoods – covering 16 documented lies and 11 falsehoods from Prime Minister Scott Morrison, all backed with referenced source – surprising lonely because it is overdue):

Crikey draws an important distinction between lies, which are used to intentionally mislead, and falsehoods, which were untrue or turned out to be so.

It’s a generous interpretation for a politician who has made avoiding the truth, letting falsehoods slip and bending reality part of his standard operating procedure.

Writing in The New Daily, I argued late last year that Mr Morrison can lie easily because he has the ability to convince himself his untruths are factual.

You can demonstrate he is lying, but he believes he’s telling the truth – if he says it’s not raining, grab an umbrella.

It’s a frustrating and infuriating state of affairs but, to quote another famous political purveyor of porkies, Donald Trump, it is what it is.

Crikey’s Bernard Keane goes to the heart of why this matters, claiming Mr Morrison lies openly and frequently.

“(He does so) about matters large and small – Australia’s carbon emissions, or an inquiry in relation to a sexual assault within the ministerial wing in Parliament House, or simply whether he spoke to someone who refused to shake his hand, Keane says.

Most of his lies are about himself, or his government, and what it has done, or failed to do; often he has lied about things he himself has said or done, as if he wasn’t present when a woman refused to shake his hand and he turned his back on her, or he didn’t carefully explain to Parliament that the secretary of Prime Minister and Cabinet had given him no update about his report in relation to Brittany Higgins.”

There are many ways Mr Morrison deploys his falsehoods, but the most common come under four threads.

Most blatantly is that bald-faced denial of reality when he simply says something didn’t happen or doesn’t exist. It’s rolled out with firm conviction making a challenge appear impudent.

Next Mr Morrison quickly changes the subject after a swift, hardly perceptible, denial. A quick “no, but if you look over here” moves the discussion along and is then smothered in a word salad.

Third, is the “I’m too busy” for that tactic, as seen in the false denial he ever called Sam Dastyari “Shanghai Sam” when he deflected by saying, “I’ve got to say my focus was on the bushfires.”

Last, Mr Morrison loads his response with numbers and assertions regardless of whether they are related or even relevant.”

So, it does matter that voters are well-informed. That people do understand the meaning of those issues that will affect their everyday lives, just as it matters when our politicians lie, especially if they’re in leadership positions.

Issues of truth arise so frequently with the Morrison Government that it’s hard to keep up with them.

What matters most is that we attempt to reveal the truth and correct mainstream media when they print so much right-wing bias.

My thought for the day

Lying is wrong at any time, but lying to defend a lie is appallingly immoral.

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You are being manipulated politically. Here’s how.

… Continued from Part 3

This is the last in my series on ‘manipulations,’ and since I have been throwing a lot of mud on who does it, it would seem fair if I explained how they do it and why we should fight it.

So let’s start with lies. It could be argued that lying is ruining our national discourse. It has reached such proportions that finding the truth and reporting it is more important than creating a narrative where controversy matters more.

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

In a piece for Independent Australia I put forward this proposition:

If we are an enlightened society, why do you think we need to enshrine in law the right to hate each other?

Surely you would think that an enlightened progressive free-thinking society would want to eliminate it, not legislate it.

It is not a question that requires great philosophical, ideological or even theological debate. It is a black-and-white question. After all, is it not, by definition, a prerequisite of the human condition?

We do live in an age of enlightenment, a period where the world has made enormous advances. We are better schooled, we have taken enormous technological strides in medicine and many other fields. We are, indeed, enlightened.

But at the same time, our intellects have not advanced our capacity to understand how to reason.

Indeed, if we were truly enlightened we would treat our fellow human beings with respect, love and faithfulness. We would do unto them as we would expect them to do unto us and we would strive to do no harm.

We would love life and live it with a sense of joy and wonderment. We would form our own independent opinions on the basis of our own reason and experience, and not allow ourselves to be led blindly by others.

And we would test all things; always checking our ideas against our facts and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it did not conform to them. We would readily admit when we were wrong, in the knowledge that humility is the basis of intellectual advancement and that it is truth together with love that enables human progress.”

In another piece titled ‘Conservatives and social engineering‘ which is but another way of manipulating us, I wrote:

Social engineering exists within “the Psychology of Politics.” That means that persuading people to think as you do is an important part of any democracy provided you are not being manipulated, lied to or fed propaganda.

I have seen many governments come and go in my lifetime. All incoming governments naturally implement their policies within the constraints that exist within the two Australian Houses of Parliament.

In 2013 I wrote a piece titled “The Abbott form of Social Engineering.” Not long after he had become Prime Minister it became apparent that he and his government had embarked on a conservative form of social engineering.

It was based on the aforementioned tactics of manipulation, lies, propaganda and hidden persuaders.

At the time I received a fair bit of flack for my views so I followed up with some quotes to put them in context.

It is said that American economist, Milton Friedman:

In one of his most influential essays, (Milton) Friedman articulated contemporary capitalism’s core tactical nostrum, what I have come to understand as “the shock doctrine.” He observed that: “Only a crisis – actual or perceived – produces real change.” [Which of course is a variation on Machiavelli’s advice that “injuries” should be inflicted “all at once” – Naomi Klein, “Shock Doctrine”].

In other words, manufacture a sense of crisis and you can get away with anything starting with maximum harm. Therefore, Conservatives manufacture crisis at every opportunity.

In March, I posted a piece titled ‘It was as clear as mud, and it covered the ground‘ in which I made this point:

“Sorry, I just had to fit that digression in. Now back to Question Time and some background. Morrison had asked the Secretary of the Prime Minister’s department, Phil Gaetjens, to undertake an inquiry – to check if any communications between members of his office and the former government staffer Brittany Higgins existed. That was February 17.”

How the government delays reports, covers them up or buries them all together is unbefitting our democracy. Nor is the lack of transparency. This report is still to be released, and I feel sure that the prime minister will be exonerated.
You are also being manipulated when the government cuts $14 million from the national audit office after that office discovered actual improprieties and wasteful spending (such as the sports rorts and paying ten times too much for land for the new Sydney airport).

To finish, allow me to mention my favourite manipulation; the ‘myth. For example, take a look at my piece; ‘Who are the best managers of the economy: Labor or the Coalition?‘ In it, I expose this long-held myth that the Conservatives are the best managers of the economy.

Conclusion

So having hit page 4 on Google’s search engine, there is nothing more on this subject. My search has reached its inevitable conclusion. However, if the reader should care to hit the links on this subject, I’m sure there is a wealth of information to be devoured.

To all my friends on the debating sites who so readily criticise me on this subject, I have provided you with all you need to further your enlightenment. Bless you, one and all.

My thought for the day

I always used to say to my kids. Think beyond the answer. There’s sure to be another one lurking there somewhere.

PS: On the off chance that you are not now running to your psychologist, I have not mentioned how our first nation’s folk are manipulated or how a form of National ICAC might remedy all this and, of course, the uprising of Australian females.

 

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You are being manipulated much more than you think

… Continued from Part 2

These are the days of two incomes, a decline in marriage with more divorce, bigger houses, and empty hearts. And a proliferation of kids with single parents.

Because they mistakenly believe they have ownership of righteousness, churches manipulate people into believing that love and morality are exclusively a religious domain. They don’t allow their own immorality to impede on their self-righteousness. Added to this is the manipulation of minors by men of the cloth.

We have become obsessed with celebrity, and the media manipulates us into believing that people of little virtue, talent or character are somehow important. More often than not because they have acquired notoriety, wealth or influence.

We have been manipulated into competitive living while at the same time we have forgotten how to laugh or even volunteer. Now, what was the name of that family across the road? And we don’t comprehend the difference between manners and civility. At least our kids don’t. Narcissism is rife, and men are particularly prone to it.

Enormous advances have been made in medicine, and future discoveries will increase significantly. More drugs are available for many illnesses, but the large drug companies manipulate who gets them and the price paid.

The vaccine for the world pandemic COVID-9 is a case in point. A vaccine was found in various countries in “record time,” but the wealthiest nations were the most advantaged.

There is, however, still much less wellness. Mental illness, at last, has been recognised. We have succumbed to domestic violence where men manipulate women resulting in a death almost weekly. Record amounts of money is thrown at the problems without really addressing the issues.

Women have had enough manipulation, and recent events have highlighted their plight but, men still rule the world.

They manipulate women to maintain a perceived physical, academic, corporate and sexual dominance. History records their manipulation together with the ongoing incompetence of the government.

People live longer but are less happy, and the incidence of mental health has become a social problem. We mumble a lot without saying much, we seldom love meaningfully, and the joy of sex has degenerated into casual opportunism where women are manipulated.

It is a time of enormous profits, little leadership, “shallow thinking and superficial relationships.” A time in which technology is making extraordinary advances, but our intellectual reasoning seems unable to appreciate its capacity for good without the word ‘profit’ attached.

We are exploring outer space all the while diseases are polluting our environment and our souls.

We allow ourselves to be manipulated by exaggerated, flamboyant rhetoric designed to heighten a sense of alarm or simply gain our attention.

Unscrupulous people manipulate our social behaviour, and the young fall victim to the persuasive influence of debilitative drugs.

And the purity of our playtime, our sport has been manipulated by the corrosive effect of money and drugs.

And the cheats, in turn, manipulate us with their lies.

Continued Sunday with… “You are being manipulated politically. Here’s how.”

My thought for the day

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

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You are being manipulated because purposeful social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil

… Continued from Part 1

“The gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.” (Robert Kennedy, 1968).

We live in a manipulated, failed economic system where unregulated capitalism (in the absence of anything better) rules the day. But we are manipulated into believing that this failed system is the best economical solution. It is, however, a system where a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

We want our children to have a better education, and they are getting it. The current generation has more tertiary qualifications than ever before. We have more experts, less judgment and more problems. This is probably because education is presented as a means of obtaining wealth rather than as an altruistic pursuit that might make humankind better.

The current Morrison cabinet has more degrees from the best schools globally, but their governance has been pathetic. Yet, their party has now won the past three elections. Why? Because they know how to manipulate you.

I call it ‘manipulated competitive capitalism.

We now live in a society where science is only respected to the point where it conflicts with profit. Then the conservative right, together with vested media interests, manipulates facts and distorts the truth to discredit them.

The environment is but one area where we are manipulated by uncredentialled fools who tell us that science knows nothing.

By people like John Howard, said he would instead rely on his instinct than scientific evidence. It was probably his instinct that sent us to war in Iraq. A decision that certainly wasn’t evidence-based.

Now I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today’s environmental vandals. We have allowed ourselves to become so manipulated that we have lost any commitment to the use of critical reason, factual evidence, and scientific methods of inquiry as to the best way of providing solutions to human problems.

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.

We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves, rather than allowing ourselves to be manipulated and obstructed by the unadulterated crap served up by the media, self-interest groups and arguably the worst government Australia has ever had.

Politicians manipulate truth because power is all-important. They have lost any semblance of public morality and duty to the collective common good. And we have seen how they will even manipulate racial hatred if it advances their power.

Continued Thursday with… “You are being manipulated much more than you think”

My thought for the day

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

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Are you being manipulated? Yes, and it’s getting worse.

Preface:

I wrote what follows almost nine years ago and the reason for the reposting of it (with some alterations and additions) is to examine what may have changed. Springing to mind some monumental changes in society would include a rise in feminism and the #BlackLivesMatter movement, while in government there certainly has been a bold display of narcissism and authoritarianism. Some questions we should consider are: Has the government gotten better or worse in these past nine years? Have we become a better nation, more caring? I care about how we are governed. The word ‘manipulated’ is used repeatably in my text to empathise how I think we are governed, so read on, and please make a contribution in the comments section.

Purposeful manipulative social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil.

It seems to me that in my lifetime, a lot of things have changed. But then change is one of those constant certainties of life. However, I am greatly concerned by how manipulated we have allowed ourselves to become.

Let me canvas some of the manipulated changes we have experienced and make some observations.

Of course, one’s age might bring a different perspective to how we view manipulated change. Obviously, if you are very young, you will have nothing to compare what follows with anything you have experienced. In other words, your “now” might be your norm.

For example, I happen to believe we are, as a society, more manipulated now than I can ever remember. You can see it everywhere – Murdoch’s manipulation by virtue of extreme media ownership.

Political manipulation by institutions, lobbyists and corporations more powerful than government. The manipulation by television stations would have you believe that mediocrity is excellence. And you can include religious faiths that manipulate children with warped theology based on very little evidence.

Manipulation by the blatant falseness of advertising is another means of persuading you to think the way you are directed. If you think about your everyday life, you cannot avoid the fact that many of the things you do are manipulated to influence your decision-making processes. Blatantly so. This was brought to our attention in the book by Vance Packard, Hidden Persuaders, in which he revealed the length advertisers go manipulate you. First published in 1957, “it remains one of the best books around for demystifying the deliberately mysterious arts of advertising.”

I have been retired now for some time, and I have had time to think. In fact, if I had my time over, I would not be the slave to the work ethic I had. Thinking can be impaired by too much work. We spend so much time at it that we have lost the art of thoughtful observation and creativity.

Our spending is even manipulated by the need to have more of the ‘unnecessaries‘ of life, and we have become confused with what we want instead of what we need.

Of course, we are manipulated into believing we need things because it creates jobs. Spend up big this Christmas. We are even told that things that are bad for us we are entitled to.

I’m thinking salt, fat and sugar that is causing a worldwide epidemic of obesity and, in the future, might take half the nation’s income to pay the health bill. We have more leisure, but less fun, more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

And it’s conservatives who say it’s the individual’s right to free choice even if it goes against the common good. In reality, it is the government that has the power to change things. Not the people.

So we end up spending more but enjoying life less. But we still need the money, of course. We have been manipulated into thinking we need another car, or a bigger house because ‘Bill and Mary’ have one. But it will take two wages to pay for it. Who cares that it will mean a smaller family and less family time?

Increasingly our possessions multiply enormously. We are told that this creates jobs, and if you want to be seen to be successful, you will need a boat and a holiday house.

Nothing is repaired anymore. Replacing things will also create more jobs. We have become a replacement society. But at the same time, our appreciation of the value of our possessions has declined. We have become so manipulated by ‘Affluenza’ that we have forgotten what frugality means.

We are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying simplicity. A consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having stuff and has failed to teach us that doing things is more pleasurable than possessing things.

Our kids have been manipulated into thinking that six hours on ‘Fortnite‘ is more pleasurable than sleep. So ingrained into our teenager’s minds has gaming become our kids are losing touch with life’s realities.

So successful has manipulation become by government, corporations, and the advertising industry that we now confuse the cost of living with the cost of lifestyle.

Continued Sunday with… “You are being manipulated because purposeful social change without a common good caveat is a form of social evil.”

My thought for the day

Never confuse what you want with what you need.

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

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The budget: A layperson’s dilemma

Before I even begin to comment on this year’s budget, I must point out that I am not an economist. In reality, I have no training in finance whatsoever.

I have read that this is an economics by assumptions budget. Or an internal one. I have, however, picked up over many years of more than an average interest in politics and a lifetime in marketing and an ability to read the spin of politics.

Does that make my point of view any less important? It is we, the voters, who pass judgement on a budget’s worthiness. Therefore our opinions are mostly consequential.

What is its intention, how forward-looking is it? Does it look after our most vulnerable? How does it address the health of its people, or the condition of our infrastructure and our education? Does it endeavour to make right our inequality? These are the sort of questions a layperson like myself ask.

Indeed, many questions are asked of a budget. However, they are always constrained by the politics of the day and the proximity of an election.

Usually, the economic decisions of the budget reflect the ideology of the party in power. In this case, a coalition of two very conservative parties. It is astonishing just how quickly this party can throw away its political philosophy when its power is threatened.

The first thing that hits one in the face about the texture of this budget is that it is contrary to normal. It is a socialist budget from a deeply conservative government. The politics and a looming election underpin all that is within it. As a layperson, l see this budget as driven by the requirements of an election together with economics by assumptions.

It seeks to and succeeds in taking from Labor those things that, in a political sense, it had going for it: National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), childcare, aged care and infrastructure, for example.

Goodness me, it was only in 2013 that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey leading an ultra-right-wing government, produced the most draconian budget in Australian history. Remember those historic levels of debt that Abbott and Morrison used to throw at Labor? Now the shoe is on the other foot.

For as long as I can remember, Liberal governments have preached restraint. Their philosophy has always been that government should not interfere with market forces. It should allow personal ambition and free enterprise to flourish and drive economic growth to solve financial problems.

It is simply astonishing how they have tossed out the economic mantra of their beloved Milton Friedman for the socialist one of John Maynard Keynes.

In this case, the politics of survival and the retention of power have taken over this budget, and it is about nothing else. Economic orthodoxy surpluses and austerity are on their way to landfill. Labor might correctly argue that they are using leftist economic principles to solve the current problems, but there isn’t any point in crying over spilt milk.

* * * * *

1 I dare say that many of you are like me; you know little about how trillion-dollar budgets are put together. Yet we eagerly await budget time to see “what’s in it for me.” But as a pensioner, I answer that question very quickly: Nothing.

In fact, the value of the pension is likely to diminish over the next few years as the cost of living rises. The periodical increases are measured against movements in the Consumer Price Index (CPI), whereas previously, they measured them against a set of articles related to pensioners actual costs.

So now, with a big thanks to China for buying our iron ore (until they buy it from Brazil) and keeping us afloat, I shall make some comments on other matters.

2 On the top rung of what I shall call ‘appallings’ is a plan to make new immigrants wait for four years before being eligible for social benefits.

Is this the way to make them feel welcome, secure and accepted? If throwing them on the scrap heap before they get a job is the way to invite new immigrants to our country, then the entire Cabinet needs to be on top of the millions they have put aside for empathy training. I reckon Morrison would be behind this decision even if many of the immigrants are of the faith.

3 Another ‘appalling’ is the miserly increase in the work-seeker (or dole) payment of $3.50 a day. Another kick in the backside for those that Morrison thinks could quickly get a job.

Other rearrangements will further disadvantage those out of work; read this. Doubly appalling, even inhumane.

4 Am I to seriously believe that in the next 20 years, when the whole world is driving electric cars, Australia will have to import them with all its manufacturing knowledge? This budget failed to give it a mention.

5 Anthony Albanese is in the habit of saying that supporting climate change has not won them an election. What a shame it would be if he walks away from it now. The Conservative’s decision in this budget not to support renewables and instead give $59 billion to gas projects is criminal. It will make us the laughing stock of the world. I suggest Albo rethink the issue.

The Guardian reported that:

“In contrast, the UN environment program found Australia had done the least among the world’s 50 largest economies to drive a green recovery. There is nothing to change that in the budget.”

6 Tax cuts to the rich have been legislated and will be vigorously supported by these conservatives, but there is no evidence that they will spend the money. In any case, it’s a risky thing to give the wealthy a tax cut during a crisis such as COVID-19.

They will stick it in their wallets and create a worthless bulge. They won’t create another job or feed a homeless person. Nor will they encourage the recipients to work any harder.

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

7 Vaccinations and the timeline in which they completed underscore a lot of the budget, and the government continues to screw it up. It depends on what day and who you ask as to what answer one gets. The community deserves better answers. The important thing is that they are completed as quickly as possible if we are to re-enter the world.

8 Some have suggested it’s a women’s budget. Huh? It is nothing of the sort. Think about it. It is a short-term fix to a re-election problem. Only 4% of new money in the budget went to women, and half of that went to child care.

Sorry, girls. It would be regrettable if you accepted this at face value.

9 Aged care is also subject to some smoke and mirrors treatment. This is what Katherine Murphy of The Guardian wrote:

“The royal commission recommended a new dental program for pensioners and people in residential care, given the risks associated with poor oral health. That will be subject to “further consideration”.

“So will a mandatory minimum qualification for personal care workers. A clear recommendation that low wages in the sector be increased was “noted,” rather than supported.”

“There are also a bunch of recommendations that have been “accepted in principle” rather than adopted outright. All this screams: watch this space during the implementation period. Closely.”

And on it goes. I would suggest that everyone look at the link I have included.

10 The giveaway item is the $9 billion put aside for decisions made but not yet allocated. In other words, a slush fund for the next election.

11 Andrew Probyn wrote for the ABC that:

“Disability spending through the NDIS is expected to overtake the cost of Medicare within three years, according to budget estimates that will fuel debate about the scheme’s sustainability. There wasn’t an explanation of how they intend to pay for it in the future.”

Perhaps we could use some of the billions given as subsidies to the miners of our undoing.

12 Another concern with this budget is that it is a document based on economics by assumptions. It assumes that the price of our iron ore will remain high even when there is no guarantee that China will continue to buy the stuff once Brazil gets its production up and running.

13 The big miss in this budget is the failure to spend anything on quarantine accommodation as an investment for now and into the future.

14 And the booby prize goes to the 10% cut to universities and higher education.

15 Finally, I get to infrastructure, but it seems that the finalising of projects is so far behind the announcements that they might never catch up, if you get what I mean.

My thought for the day

At the time of the election, the coalition will have been in power for nine exhausting years and want another three. What as a legacy do they have to show for it? Has this Government raised your standard of living?

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Is it fair to call Scott Morrison a racist? Where’s the evidence?

How much more proof does one need to advance the proposition that we have a racist government?

Moreover, its leader carries the tag of Christian more as a convenience than a truth.

The problem with that premise is that despite all the criticism of Morrison wearing his faith on his sleeve, he shows no inclination for using any Christian ethics in his decision-making.

I’m speaking of real Christian ethics like love, compassion, devotion, morality, sacrifice, loyalty, openness, truth, support, work, and human equality. Any separation of church and state doesn’t eliminate these words.

These are words or concepts that even non-Christians practice. Why are they absent from Morrison’s world view?

In many respects, he prosecutes a strange sort of separation of church and state. He practices all these things in his faith but not in his politics. Does that not seem rather odd?

It seems irrational to me. A practice dumber than dumb that invites its own dangerous problems.

I think what atheists find most offensive with religion is not only that they reject theist belief, but also the injustice, immorality and hypocrisy that often comes with it.

In 2015 The AIMN published Arise Scott Morrison, Lord Sixwords of Cronulla!, an in-depth series that examined the ‘real’ Scott Morrison. I offer this quote from Part 1 of the series:

“In December 2010, 48 asylum seekers died while attempting to reach Christmas Island by boat. Morrison’s attitude to the event was bitterly criticised by both the government and his own party for comments he uttered after the tragedy.

On February 15 2011, the then Shadow Immigration Minister questioned the decision of the Gillard Government to pay for relatives of the dead to attend funerals in Sydney.

Afterwards, fellow Liberal and Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey denounced Morrison’s statements, saying that that he would “never seek to deny a parent or a child from saying goodbye to their relative.” Morrison acknowledged that the timing of his comments might have been insensitive but did not recoil from the comments themselves.

“Do you think you run the risk of being seen as heartless on the day of these funerals to be saying – to be bickering over this money?” asked ABC reporter Barbara Miller, whose report that morning was broadcast on the programme AM.

Here is what Morrison replied: “When it comes to the question of do I think this is a reasonable cost, then my honest answer is, ‘No, I don’t think it is reasonable.'”

The Fairfax press published a column which called him a “cheap populist”, with the outburst “harmful to the national interest”.

Caught unawares and always prone to equivocation, the Leader of the Opposition gave the remarks a lukewarm endorsement during the course of an interview with a notoriously Right-wing radio station. He said: “It does seem a bit unusual that the government is flying people to funerals.” Morrison’s comments were met with condemnation from former Liberal leaders.

One called the comments “inhumane”. Another expressed his hope that “Scott Morrison is just a fringe element in the party.

Herein lays my quandary. On reading the preceding words, you could not be blamed for thinking that the person must be a racist of sorts, as Morrison’s comments were directed at a particular cohort of people.

When he gives a directive to another group, who are citizens of Australia, that they cannot return home under threat of jail, one might be excused for thinking that this is also racism.

Thus far, we might at least conclude that our Prime Minister isn’t favourable to brown-skinned people.

Before going further, let’s examine just what racism is:

  1. The belief that human races have distinctive characteristics which determine their respective cultures, usually involving the idea that one’s own race is superior and has the right to rule or dominate the others.
  2. Offensive or aggressive behaviour to members of another race stemming from such a belief.
  3. A policy or system of government and society based upon it.

In the situation with Indian Australians, as mentioned earlier, is Morrison – in denouncing the costs of Australia paying for the funerals of those who lost their lives in such a tragedy – just playing politics or was he race-baiting.

Lenore Taylor, in The Sydney Morning Herald back in February 2011 delivered an opinion that suggests Morrison back then – seizing Coalition sentiment – saw vote-winning in racist strategies:

“The opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate… But after Mr Morrison’s comments this week on the cost of asylum-seeker funerals and his role in the controversial decision to cut a Howard government program to fund schools in Indonesia, colleagues are privately questioning whether he is trying to pursue an anti-Muslim political strategy unilaterally.”

On his website at the time, Mr Morrison, a member of the Assemblies of God Pentecostal Church, wrote; “My Christian faith remains the driving force for my family, beliefs and values.”

It was indeed a time when the conservatives in opposition and government tried to extract a view of Muslims with cynical manipulation driven only by race. Take the Cronulla Riots of which Alan Jones was found to have egged-on anti-Middle Eastern sentiment, or when Tony Abbott was delivering his own form of prejudice in an essentially racist manner.

A decade ago Kevin Dunn, professor of geography and urban studies at the University of Western Sydney, published a study on racism in Australia. In it, he wrote:

“Research has shown convincingly that geopolitical events, political events and political statements don’t affect Australian attitudes on race very quickly, but they do affect behaviour. People holding a grudge or who are just ill-informed; or acting on the sins of the father will feel empowered to act on them. They feel more empowered to act on them.” Racist abuse and discrimination follow.

Words and how you use them carry profound national responsibility (think about our current diplomacy with China).

Before addressing India, let’s examine Morrison’s statement that “there was no slavery in Australia.”

 

 

The government led by Morrison loudly condemned the Black Lives Matter protest marches while at the same time completely ignoring the reasons that make people protest.

It also ignored the written history of slavery that our First Nations People experienced. His flippancy when defending his comment was that of a man either playing the race card or one who is entirely ill-informed. I must, in my writing, dismiss the latter.

Aboriginals worked for years on cattle stations for no wages. If that isn’t slavery, then I don’t know what is. People responded by posting historic photographs of our First Nations Peoples in chains on social media.

“It was a pretty brutal place, but there was no slavery in Australia… While some bad things have happened in our past, we have apologised land moved on,” said the Prime Minister.

When I first read it, I was taken by the stench of its blatant racism given that we would jail Australian citizens in India from returning to Australia.

For me, it is obviously racism born of an inability to comprehend that many of our people were born overseas, or are of second or third generation. That when politicians leave us alone, we get on reasonably well together.

This seems to be married to the recent scare about terrorism in Australia rated as a likely event. Why they seem intent on these major scare campaigns is beyond me. I guess it’s because they work. Unfortunately, the answer to this is because they work.

Undeterred by public opinion, Morrison has fended off criticism by his most prominent allies, who said it “stinks of racism.” Among these were arch conservative Andrew Bolt, who has been found guilty of racism himself.

Morrison later said that it was:

“… highly unlikely that Australians who flouted the ban would be jailed. I think the likelihood of any of that occurring is pretty much zero.”

This, of course, raised the question of why the threat of jail in the first place.

Within the next twelve months, Morrison and his government face an election. They will do so with a few fewer votes from the Indian community, and rightly so.

Now we are confronted with yet more odious loathing. This time it is directed at those from India. It doesn’t matter what their country of origin if they are Muslim, they will suffer the entire thrust of minorities xenophobia. Just as 99 per cent of Muslims want peace, so do 99 per cent of Australians.

We have a long history of finding fault with things we don’t understand. At various times we have blamed communists, Jews, women, the devil, Indigenous people and witches, even God for all manner of things.

I have been privy to the ignorance that history has recorded on these matters. I am angry with Pauline Hanson, Peter Dutton and our Prime Minister who would seek to deny Australia of others who desire to pursue their personal freedom and the opportunity to give themselves to the advancement of this great nation.

When I sit on the platform at Flinders Street Station and watch the passing parade of ethnicity, I can only admire a country I could never envisage from the same seat in the 1950s.

My thought for the day

Why does western art always depict Jesus as white when as a middle eastern Jew he would have been brown-skinned.

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What would you know anyhow?

1 Have you ever been reluctantly drawn into one of those political discussions that just seem to flare up randomly in the office, on the train home, during a dinner party or at half time at the footy or the local pub? You know, the sort that takes you by surprise.

After many years of experience, I learned that by giving them five minutes of listening time, which ones were worth engaging in and those that weren’t worth the pain. The ones that usually end with a loud. “What would you know anyhow?”

My observation of these matters taught me that it’s usually good when temper flares to put some space between it and my common sense. Presenting facts to people who have reasoned by virtue of their feelings that they are right is totally futile.

You see, experience also told me that people often argue from within the limitations of their understanding. When their factual evidence is scant, they revert to an expression of their feelings. Or, more often than not, opinions are based on our values rather than our understanding, and the difficulty is separating the two.

Sometimes I would – if the protagonists were just too much to bear – spend enough time trying to convince them of the point I was making, before saying my goodbyes.

I never said it arrogantly. Unfortunately, I found that less informed folk usually outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need, and the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths. No, we are not a nation interested in how we are governed and it never ceases to amaze me just how little people know.

Perhaps a greater understanding of what I am saying might be obtained by exercising a greater willingness to think more deeply.

A good example was when Julia Gillard made her “There will never be a carbon tax under a government that I lead” statement on August 16, 2010. Then when the inference of a lie was growing, she said on August 20, “I don’t rule out the possibility of legislating a Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, a market-based mechanism. I rule out a carbon tax.”

Trying to explain to people that the clarifying statement negates the first one is almost impossible in politics.

I have learnt in the longevity of my existence that if I had a point of view, that I should feel free to express it. And if I did so with civility, my point of view would be laced with a degree of dignity. I still apply that principle today.

When people like Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt write or voice their opinions outrageously – based, so it seems, on ‘payment for controversy’ – they pick up on a statement like that of Gillard’s and run with it. You know that’s the end of the argument. They saturate the news media and other viewpoints aren’t heard.

Sometimes I allow myself the indulgence of thinking I know a lot. Then I realise that in the totality of things, I know little.

One thing I am sure of, however, is that there are known facts in the world because facts and science prove them so.

You see, a debate is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purest form, it is simply the art of persuasion.

So millions of YouTube subscribers watch the first video (the edited one) and conclude that Gillard lied. The Murdoch media pushes the shit out out of it, and it sticks.

Julia Gillard was vilified for what was perceived as a lie about the carbon tax. Tony Abbott told lies outrageously, and survivors of his ministry are still pumping them out today.

The three categories of political lies that l identify with most are gross exaggeration, omission, and falsehood.

The first may be when a party grossly over exaggerates its performance, the second is when they deliberately leave things out, like saying we have lowered our emissions when they have only done so by using credits issued at the first Kyoto. Thirdly there is the blatant lie.

Now I constantly ask myself if we have reached a point in politics where truth is something that politicians have persuaded us to believe, like ‘alternative facts’ rather than truth based on factual evidence and arguments.

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

Over the years l have written much about lying and still see it as a stain on the profession. If politics is to be cleaned up, it is firstly by eliminating lying as a political tool.

2 On a lighter note, Mike Carlton was as totally upset (NOT) as I upon hearing the news that George Christensen was leaving politics:

 

 

While Peter van Onselen noted that there was something smelly about this:

 

 

3 The usual approach by this government is to promise outcomes without the government accepting responsibility for any action to achieve that outcome. Nothing new there.

4 The PM tells us that what the country needs right now is the church. Good lord!

5 Not sure about Morrison’s laying on of hands stuff. It didn’t do much for Malcolm.

6 Of our ten most recent prime ministers, only Morrison was not politically active in his or her youth. Hawke joined Labor at 18. Keating at 15 or 16. Rudd at 15. Howard was involved in the Liberal Party in his early twenties, as was Fraser. Gillard was in student politics.

7 New fighter planes and submarines. Are we under threat? Who would want to invade us? We can hardly harvest enough water for our own thirst, let alone a significantly increased population.

8 The Coalition ride a wave of popularity and portrays itself as an election-winning powerhouse. It is not. It is highly dysfunctional with very average politicians. But lying is a very potent tool, and it comes in many forms. They are revealed in the sorts of situations l mentioned earlier.

9 It is the young who have a manifestly different view of the future and know that the time has come for change, not just to clean up the environment but also to rid the parliament of corruption. Where to start? Well, start with a Royal Commission into every aspect of the Murray Darling Basin Plan. Instigate a National ICAC with teeth and the power to conduct retrospective inquiries.

10 We must have the courage to ask our young that they should go beyond desire and aspiration and accomplish not the trivial but greatness. They should not allow the morality they inherited from good folk to be corrupted by the immorality of evil minds.

11 The drums of war are also drumming up a scare campaign for the next election. This is just the prelude.

12 Two more deaths in custody, now totalling 7 in the past few weeks. Is anyone in the government interested?

13 Criminalizing Australian citizens for wanting to return home is a disgusting thing to do, and the way the Prime Minister is so flippantly treating the decision is equally so.

I agree with Malcolm Turnbull that Australian citizens must be repatriated and quarantined at Howard Springs or elsewhere.

14 Distant threats of war with China and Peter Dutton as Minister for Defence. What could possibly go wrong?

My thought for the day.

What would l know anyhow?

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