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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.

Day to Day Politics: Dutton has alternative facts?

Monday 24 April 2017

As I said yesterday the Australian’s NewsPoll will be published today. The week started with a change to 457 Visa rule changes, then the rules pertaining to Citizenship. Then coincidently Peter Dutton turns up on Insiders. Will the weeks propaganda turn the tide of unpopularity.

Those who follow politics would understand that this was all calculated to effect the polling result. It is also premeditated propaganda to speak to the conservative heartland and to those with racist inclinations.

Only a political party in its death throes would lower itself to the point of trying to deliberately inluence political polls.

On insiders Dutton went through his usual boring script of blaming Labor for everything. When it came to the truth of what happened on Manus Island with a 10-year-old boy he decided on the American defence of I have alternative facts”.

He couldn’t or wouldn’t use any to defend or support his view.

An observation.

”The rise of the right has brought with it a new political language. One that has not yet been classified because it defies any normal understanding of what the word truth means”.

It is patently clear that his words on the matter are cast in such a way as to suggest that the asylum seekers involved were paedophiles intent on using the boy in some nefarious manner. In doing so he was attempting to infer that there was a connection between this incident and one that occurred two weeks later.

Now lest it be suggested that I am only opining about this matter let me point out that it is true that opinion forms some of what I write. In the first instance what I write is subjected to the truth of it. Then I resort to over 60 years of life experience. As in this instance when people like Dutton are repeat offenders of demonising asylum seekers I take that into consideration when forming my opinion.

So according to the SMH Immigration Minister Peter Dutton said fears about the safety of a five-year-old boy may have sparked last week’s rampage on Manus Island, in which gunshots were allegedly fired into the Australian-run detention centre.

Mr Dutton told Sky News ”asylum seekers had been spotted leading the Papua New Guinean boy into the regional processing centre,” which could have led to tensions escalating before the fracas on Good Friday.

Members of the PNG Defence Force, who were apparently drunk, allegedly discharged their weapons, threw stones and assaulted refugees, guards and local police officers in the clash.

Peter Dutton was falsely intending to draw a link between the two events. They were two weeks apart and the boy was 10 not 5.

There was a lot of angst around that within the local PNG community. There was concern about why, or for what purpose, the boy was being led away back into the regional processing centre.

“I think it’s fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly. I think some of the local residents were quite angry about this particular incident and another alleged sexual assault [by a refugee on Manus Island].”

Dutton keeps repeating that it is ”indisputable” that the two incidents were related. Be that the case then he should be transparent and offer some evidence that the shooting on the Manus Island detention centre and the young boy was connected.

The PNG Defence Force contradicted Dutton’s version of events saying that the  incident was triggered by an altercation on a football field when asylum seekers refused to leave the ground as directed, which escalated after an officer was assaulted.

And the local police commander, Inspector David Yapu, blamed the incident on “drunken” soldiers’’ who he claimed had waged an unethical and unacceptable rampage.

The boy – aged 10 not five as claimed by Mr Dutton – was taken into the centre, given some fruit and then escorted out by security. He was returned to his parents unharmed, Mr Yapu said. It was all openly viewed by Australian and PNG officials.

But Mr Dutton on Sunday insisted the incident with the child – along with a separate sexual assault – had contributed to a volatile mood on the island.

Buzz Feed reported that.

But Manus province police commander David Yapu said Dutton was referring to an unrelated incident earlier in the week when a 10-year-old boy came into the centre.

“He was given some fruits by the residents in the centre and then he was taken out again,” he said.

“So there was nothing done to him and also there was no official complaint by the parents of that small boy.”

In all my reading I can find nothing that supports Dutton’s view that the incident with the boy was responsible for the event two weeks later with the fight and break out on Friday night.

An observation.

”The pedlars of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.”

 There is no substance to Dutton’s claim and it’s obvious that he is just trying to cast aspersions on asylum seekers and refuges. His words arise from a deep well of hatred within the Coalition of all things Muslim.

As one asylum seeker said.

“There are Australian guards who monitor every single activity upon entry, which makes the claim that Mr Dutton made impossible.”

I await the evidence of Mr Dutton’s alternative facts.

”At another time in our political history he would not have lasted the weekend”.

My thought for the day.

‘’Have we reached the point in politics where TRUTH is something that politicians have convinced us to believe, “like alternative facts” rather than TRUTH based on factual evidence, arguments and assertions.”

Day to Day Politics: Destroying what we stand for.

Sunday 23 April 2017

It’s a lazy Sunday. There’s not much on. Rain is falling on corrugated roof creating a rhythm of thought-provoking questions that are not easily put aside. The word democracy keeps insinuating itself upon me. I know I have written about it unendingly but the political person who lives within me tells me I must incessantly return to it. Our democracy is in an unholy mess and my desire, before my candle extracts its last breath, is that it is rescued from its dank demise.

It is incontestable that Australians have had enough. How do we know? Well the latest Newspoll tells us that 29% of voters have abandoned both the major parties in favour of the minor parties and independents. That is the highest national level since 1910, when the two-party system was formed.

There can be no doubt that a high proportion of Australians have lost faith in our two-party system of Government and are electing to drop out altogether or change their voting pattern.

I would go so far as to say that if we didn’t have compulsory voting the turnout would be as bad as in the US.

Both major parties are responsible. The incumbent is on its last legs with a leader so weak that he takes orders from the far right of his party which is in a fight to the death with the moderates. Everything the Prime Minister turns his mind to has the smell of desperation about it. There is no sense of governance as a democratic principle. We have witnessed it this week with Turnbulls openly racist citizenship changes together with 457 Visas.

The Shorten-Labor Opposition with its eye on winning the next election has given away the opportunity to take the moral high ground and talk about restoring our democratic ideals.

It seems to me that in their desire to destroy each other they are in fact destroying the very thing that allows then to exist.

The AIMN has published many fine contributions on this subject.

Jenifer Wilson says that ”Democracy isn’t just the right to vote. It’s a way of being.”

Kyran O’dwyer says:

”The greatest threat posed by erosion is not that the change occurs, but that the change occurs gradually, over time. The change is not noticeable on a daily basis, but at the end of a year, a decade, a century, you suddenly notice all that has eroded away. You suddenly realise what you had, only because you suddenly realise it has gone.”

Kaye Lee:

”Successful democracy depends on an informed electorate to choose the appropriate representatives and informed politicians to make the right choices.  When information is withheld, obfuscated, or corrupted with lies, democracy is up for sale to the bidder with the loudest voice and the money to buy the biggest megaphone.”

Ken Wolff:

”We are seeing the same phenomenon around the world: the election of Jeremy Corbin to the Labour leadership in the UK; the rise of anti-establishment parties in Spain and Greece; and, unfortunately, it has also meant the rise of extreme right (and sometimes neo-fascist) parties that tap into that disaffection with the political system.”

John Lord:

In the recipe of what a democracy is there are many ingredients, but simply explained it is a political system where like-minded people come together to form ideas that become a philosophy. They then become the foundation of political parties. These ideologies pull in different directions in a quest for majority approval by the people. It is a far from perfect system that has variations all around the world. It is elastically flexible (we even have democratic dictatorships), unpredictable and at its worst, violent and extremely combative.

At its best it is noble, constructive and generally serves society well. It is very much better than the next best thing and accommodates diagonally opposed ideas, extreme or otherwise. All in all it’s an imperfect beast that has served us well. Yes it’s government for the people by the people.

Common to most Western Democracies (and in the absence of anything better) it has a capitalistic economic system. Of late this has come under question.

In Australia the right to vote is the gift that democracy gives and people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual) they support but overriding this is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy, if at the same time they think their party is the only one that should ever win.

A clear indication of an Australian Democracy in decline is the fact that people are giving up this voting gift, literally saying: ”A pox on both your houses”.

Three million do so by not voting.

Our political system is in crisis because our politicians fail to speak with any clarity on issues that concern people.

Moreover, an enlightened democracy should provide the people with a sense of purposeful participation. It should forever be open to regular improvement in its methodology and its implementation. Its constitutional framework should be exposed to periodical revision and renewal, compromise and bi-partisanship when the common good cries out for it.

But above all its function should be, that regardless of ideology the common good should be served first and foremost. A common good healthy democracy serves the collective from the ground up rather than a top down democracy that exists to serve secular interests. One that is enforced by an elite of business leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version. That is fundamentally anti-democratic.

Every facet of society including the democratic process needs constant and thoughtful renewal and change. Otherwise we become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see better ways of doing things. Unfortunately, Australia’s particular version of the democratic process has none of these things inherent in it and is currently sinking in a quagmire of American Tea Party Republicanism.

I am not a political scientist, historian or a trained journalist. I write this as a disgruntled and concerned citizen because it seems to me that the Australian democracy I grew up with no longer exists. The demise of Australian Democracy has its origins in a monumental shift by both major parties to the right with the result that neither seem to know exactly what it is they stands for. They are now tainted with sameness.

The Liberal Party has been replaced by neo-conservatism, actively asserting individual identity against a collective one and old style Liberalism no longer has a voice. There is little or no difference between the Liberals and the National Party who seem irrelevant as a political force.

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

”The whole logic of the ”lifters” and “leaners” rhetoric so favoured by the current Government is a distillation of the idea that there is no such thing as society, that we and only we are responsible for our own circumstances”. (Tim Dunlop, The Drum, 4/7/2014).

The Labor Party needs to rid itself of an outdated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.

The major parties have become fragmented with Labor losing a large segment of its supporters to the Greens whilst the LNP is being undermined by rich populist extremists on the far right.

In terms of talent both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work life experience. Both parties have pre-selection processes rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out. Both need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the Union Movement or in the case of the LNP, staffers who have come up through the party.

Our Parliament, its institutions and conventions have been so trashed by Tony Abbott in particular that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past.

Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds who are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills, to act deplorably toward each other. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Where light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. And in doing so they debase the parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals.

Question Time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Our democracy suffers because no one has the guts to give away the slightest political advantage.

Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. There is no reason to doubt that the stench of NSW doesn’t waffle its way through the corridors of the National Parliament and into the highest offices. Corruption weaves it way through all sections of society including Unions, Business and Politics.

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

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

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

Our voting system is badly in need of an overhaul. When one party, The Greens attracts near enough to the same primary votes as The Nationals but can only win one seat in the House of Representatives, as opposed to eight there is something wrong with the system. Added to that is the ludicrous Senate situation where people are elected on virtually no primary votes, just preferences. It is also a system that allows the election of people with vested business interests with no public disclosure.

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

The advent of social media has sent the mainstream media into free fall. Declining newspaper sales have resulted in lost revenue and profits. It is losing its authority, real or imagined. Bloggers  more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society. Writers with whom they can agree or differ but have the luxury of doing so. As a result newspapers in particular have degenerated into gutter political trash in the hope that they might survive. Shock jocks shout the most outrageous lies and vilify people’s character with impunity and in the process do nothing to promote decent democratic illumination. They even promote free speech as if they are the sole custodian of it.

There are three final things that have contributed to the decline in our democracy. Firstly, the Abbott factor and the death of truth as a principle of democratic necessity. I am convinced Tony Abbott and others who have followed believe that the effect of lying diminishes over time and therefore is a legitimate political tool. So much so that his words and actions brought into question the very worthiness of the word truth. Or he has at least devalued it to the point of obsolescence..

The 2014 budget will be remembered for one thing. That it gave approval for and overwhelmingly legitimised lying as a political and election contrivance.

Tony Abbott set a high standard when it comes to keeping promises. On August 22, 2011 he said:

“It is an absolute principle of democracy that governments should not and must not say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards. Nothing could be more calculated to bring our democracy into disrepute and alienate the citizenry of Australia from their government than if governments were to establish by precedent that they could say one thing before an election and do the opposite afterwards.”

We should never forget that, after crucifying Prime Minister Julia Gillard daily for three years, Abbott made this solemn promise:

”There will be no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS”

This was unambiguous statement that cannot be interpreted any differently than what the words mean. To do so is telling one lie in defence of another.

In that budget he broke them all. As a result, a rising stench of hypocrisy and dishonesty engulfed the Abbott prime minister-ship. When you throw mud in politics some of it inevitably sticks but there is a residue that adheres to the chucker. That was Abbott’s dilemma but the real loser was our democracy. In Australian political history Abbott’s legacy will be that he empowered a period emblematic of a nasty and ugly period in our politics. Abbott’s contribution to the decline of the Australian body politic is unmeasurable.

Our democracy is nothing more or nothing less than what the people make of it. The power is with the people and it is incumbent on the people to voice with unmistakable anger the decline in our democracy.

People need to wake up to the fact that government effects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed) and should be more concerned. But there is a political malaise that is deep-seated. Politicians of all persuasions must be made to pay for their willful destruction of our democracy.

Good democracies can deliver good governments and outcomes only if the electorate demands it.

“You get what you vote for” rings true.

Lastly but importantly we need to educate our final year school leavers (the voters of tomorrow) with an indebtedness and fundamental appreciation of democracy. A focus group I held recently at a nearby college revealed two things. One was that our young people are conversant with societal issues and have strong opinions grounded in clear observation. They cannot however place them into a logical political framework because (two) they are not adequately informed about political dogma and its place in the workings of a democracy.

We deserve better than what we have at the moment. However, if we are not prepared to raise our voices then our democracy will continue to decline and the nation and its people will suffer the consequences.

Three books have recently been published that address the state of our democracy. The first ‘Triumph and Demise’ is by The Australian’s editor-at-large, Paul Kelly. In the final chapter Kelly suggests that our political system is in trouble and that, if that is the case, then by definition so are we. Prime Minister Abbott launched the book, and at the time, fundamentally disagreed with the authors assertions.

Paul suggests that the relentless negativity of our contemporary conversation, the culture of entitlement that he thinks has sprung up over the last decade or so, means that good government has become difficult, perhaps impossible’.’

”It’s not the system which is the problem, it is the people who from time-to-time inhabit it. Our challenge at every level is to be our best selves.”

In the first quote two words, negativity and entitlement jump out at you. Not necessarily in the context of the difficulty of governance, he was alluding to, but rather as self-descriptive character analysis. He could not have chosen two better words to describe his own footprint on the path to our democratic demise.

The second is a disingenuous, even sarcastic swipe at his opponents that leaves no room for self-examination or blame for his own period as opposition leader and later as Prime Minister in particular. And in another indignant self-righteous swipe he said that Labor was “much better at politics than government.”

Three quotes from Kelly at the book’s launch are worth repeating. Kelly said he increasingly felt there were “real problems” with the mechanics of the political system as he worked on his book.

”I have always believed in the quality of leadership. I have always felt that leadership was fundamental … to the success of the country,” Kelly said.

”I do think the system today makes governing, and in particular serious reform, more difficult, and I think the record does show that.”

I have not read the book but I agree entirely with his diagnosis. In the first quote I believe he is referring to a breakdown in the conventions and institutional arrangements of our democracy.

The second is a general commentary on the dearth of leadership over the past decade or so. Although he was a Howard supporter and he said this of Abbott prior to his sacking..

”Abbott is governing yet he is not persuading. So far. As Prime Minister he seems unable to replicate his success as Opposition leader: mobilising opinion behind his causes. The forces arrayed against Abbott, on issue after issue, seem more formidable than the weight the prime minister can muster.”

The third quote is a direct reference to the 24/7 News cycle and negativity as a means of obtaining power.

The second book, The Political Bubble’ by Mark Latham also addresses the state of our democracy:

”Australians once trusted the democratic process. While we got on with our lives, we assumed our politicians had our best interests at heart”

He suggests that trust has collapsed. In this book, he freely explores and travels up and down every road of our democratic map. On the journey he talks about how democracy has lost touch with the people it’s supposed to represent. Like a fast talking cab driver he gives view on how politics has become more tribal with left and right-wing politics being dominated by fanatical extremists.

An entire chapter is devoted to how Tony Abbott promised to restore trust in Australian politics and how he failed to keep his promises. Another chapter is devoted to what can be done about fixing the democratic deficit as he calls it.

”Can our parliamentary system realign itself with community expectations or has politics become one long race to the bottom?”

The third, and more recent book, by Nick Bryant (BBC correspondent and author) aptly titled ‘The Rise and Fall of Australia: How a great Nation lost its way’ takes a forensic look at the lucky country from inside and out. The most impressive thing about this book, besides the directness of his observations and astuteness of his writing, is that what is being said is an outsider’s point of view. He is not constrained by the provincial restrictions of self-analysis. Instead he offers his take on what he calls:

”The great paradox of modern-day Australian life: of how the country has got richer at a time when its politics have become more impoverished.”

Another important contribution to the democracy debate is this piece by Joseph Camilleri ‘Democracy in crisis’ I highly recommend this thoughtful article for a comprehensive outline of what ails our democracy.

I have alluded to these works, not as a review of each, but rather to highlight a growing concern over the state of our democracy.

There is no doubt in my mind if one looks at all the ingredients that go into forming a strong democracy, and you make a list of ingredients, the traditional recipe is no longer working. Or it has been corrupted by inferior ingredients.

At the risk of repeating myself, take for example the seemingly uncontrollable bias and market share of Murdoch. A desire for unaccountable free speech that is weighted toward, extremism. The attack on the conventions and institutions of parliament by the Prime Minister. The precedent of invoking Royal Commissions into anything as a means of retribution. The rise of fanatical right-wing partisan politics and media. The decline in parliamentary respect and behaviour. Add to that the right wings dismissive contempt for feminism.

Corporate sway and the pressure of the lobbyist can also be added to the mix, together with the voice of the rich that shouts the voice of inequality. The idea that with political servitude comes entitlement via financial benefit and privilege. And you can throw in the power of personalities over policy within the mainstream parties. Then there is the uninhibited corruption from both major parties. Then there is the acceptance by both sides that negativity is the only means of obtaining power.

But at the top of the list is the malaise of the population. Although we have compulsory voting 3 million people at the last election felt so disgusted with our democracy that they felt more inclined to have a beer at the pub, or mow the lawn than cast a vote for Australian democracy.

My thought for the day.

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

Previous instalments:

Day to Day Politics: Where did it all go wrong? Part one.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part two – Newspapers.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part three – Electronic Media.

Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part four – ‘Right wing feral opinion’

 

 

 

 

Day to Day Politics: They may survive on life support.

Saturday 22 April 2017

1 It was calculated that with a Newspoll due on Monday that the blatantly racist political moves on Citizenship and 457 visas would cause a lift in the polls for the Coalition and the Prime Minister.

Although both were announced with all the characteristics of a party at war with itself, it could nevertheless be argued that there are those in the community who would have been impressed.

Enter Tony Abbott with a now weekly engagement with Ray Hadley and the Newspoll agenda was sabotaged.

Not happy with Abbott’s interview where he called on the Government to change policies and embrace more conservative principles the Prime Minister wasn’t happy.

“I’m not interested in personalities or politics of that kind.”

Then one of two people, Tony Nutt or Malcolm Turnbull leaked on the former Prime Minister with regards to his re-election prospects at the last election and by Friday it had turned into an all in brawl. Abbott called the leak ”sneaky and underhand”.

Of course the PM has vehemently denied that he and the former prime minister were engaged in “open warfare” Mr Abbott was entitled to his view said the PM.

Cabinet colleague Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network Mr Abbott went on the attack on Thursday against “self-serving” leakers, following revelations Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to be drafted in to save his political hide during the 2016 election.

On 7.30 Thursday in Lee Sales interview with Turnbull, two important questions arose. The first was when she asked “If we were are the most successful multicultural country in the world, why are these changes necessary.” He simply avoided the question and moved unto Australian values of which he had no idea how to define other than they were unique to us. Bullshit of course.

“Freedom, equality of men and women, mutual respect, the rule of law, democracy, a fair go — that’s our Australian values,” he said. But are these not universal human values.

“There is something uniquely Australian about them. We’re proud of them. We’re committed to them. We should celebrate them and we should put them at the core of becoming an Australian citizen.”

Really? Maybe they should be at the very core of becoming an Australian politician.

It was all an exercise about image or lack of it. The second one was when Sales asked him to characterize himself and he botched it because he didn’t know what his values were.

Chris Ullman writing for the ABC put it this way:

”He has clearly greatly disappointed many in the community who invested faith in the obvious intellectual talents he brings to the top job.

To date he neatly fits James Russell Lowell’s famous and unfair criticism of Edgar Allen Poe — that he had written some verses “quite the best of their kind, but the heart somehow seems all squeezed out by the mind”.

”Unable to define himself, Mr Turnbull has been defined by others and found wanting against his past words and deeds”.

Labor’s shorthand for him has stuck — an out-of-touch rich toff who doesn’t believe in anything.”

In the interview the PM expressed incredulity that his proposals had been viewed cynically by the electorate which of course caused me to wonder just how many real folk he met on a daily basis.’

Or does he have such a high opinion of himself that he believes we trust him? How silly.

Anyone who could say that he trusted ‘’the ”wisdom and judgment” of Trump and Pence by virtue of uttering the phrase leaves himself open to having no values.

He said to Sales:

”I’m surprised you’re challenging this on the ABC,” he said. “I don’t think your hearts in it actually, Leigh. I think you agree with me.”

It is well-known that Mathias Cormann had an all in brawl with Abbott about playing as a team but it appears Tony wasn’t listening.

”We have to ensure, working as a strong and united team, that we don’t help inadvertently Bill Shorten become prime minister”

”because that would be very bad for Australia.”

”All of us would love to be able to focus on the significant policy legacy of the Abbott government, I’d like to be able to do that.”

“Able to be interpreted as undermining our efforts to be able to provide strong and effective government and to maximise our chances of being successful at the next election.”

Now they are talking about bringing in former Prime Minister and manipulator, of all things political, John Howard to sort out the problems. Why not Mr Fixit you ask. Well he was unavailable. He had taken leave to question his values.

Prissy Pyne said on Chanel 9 that he doesn’t know and doesn’t care if Mr Howard is enlisted.

Christopher Pyne told the Nine Network Mr Abbott went on the attack on Thursday against “self-serving” leakers, following revelations Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had to be drafted in to save his political hide during the 2016 election.

Asked on Friday whether it was annoying to have Mr Abbott interrupting him from the backbench, Mr Turnbull said there were many potential distractions in his job.Values might be another.

Veteran MP Liberal MP Warren Entsch also got stuck into Abbott saying his backbench colleague hasn’t kept his word.

“He was going to step down graciously, he was going to serve in the best interests of the country, but he was not going to do a running commentary, he was not going to be political. Well, it’s been anything but that.”

“I look forward to all the members of my party room, all the members on the backbench or the frontbench, working together and getting out there and talking about the success of the government’s policies,”

It seems that whatever decisions are taken, whatever policies developed that they are overshadowed by Abbott’s opinion and the internal differences of left and right. At the moment it would appear that the internal bickering is pulling the party apart with the right-wing extremists seemingly having the upper hand.

During their term of office, and despite their claims to the contrary, they have not produced anything noteworthy in terms of policy. The whole of their time seems to be spent thinking up announcements that might improve the publics image of the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile the country stands still while Turnbull moans.

2 I have written that Tony Abbott is beyond doubt the greatest lying politician this country has ever seen. If that be true then Peter Dutton must surely take the prize for the sickest. What a vile vomitus man he is. His latest attempt to paint asylum seekers on Manus Island as pedophiles is beyond belief

“There was an alleged incident where three asylum seekers were alleged to be leading a local five-year-old boy (the boy was 10) back toward the facility and there was a lot of angst around that,” Dutton told Sky News.

“I think there was concern about why the boy was being led, or for what purpose he was being led away, back to the regional processing centre, so I think it’s fair to say the mood had elevated quite quickly.”

Read this comment by Terry2 on my post yesterday:

Peter Dutton said that the recent disturbances at the Manus Island Detention Centre were due to some refugee inmates being seen escorting a five-year old local boy into the centre : Dutton was clearly blowing a dog-whistle implying that there were issues of pedophilia, after all they are foreigners and they tried to come here by boat.

The officials on Manus have now said that there is no truth in this and that an instance where a ten-year old boy went into the detention centre – the centre is unlocked between dawn and dusk to convey the cynical Dutton deception that these people are not actually detained – looking for food was given some fruit by the detainees and then escorted back to his parents.

Dutton is a despicable individual and to think that some say he is being groomed to take over from Turnbull and lead this country is just too sickening to contemplate.

You can read a full account of the incident in The Guardian. My concern is to expose the former copper for the vile excuse of a human being he thinks he is. He should resign over this incident. He is unfit to serve as a Minister in any government.

3 The other thing that will cloud Mondays Newspoll will be the revelation that there are so many politicians soaking up our money by virtue of capital gains on property.

My thought for the day.

”We should always be careful when speaking of values lest our own come into view”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Australian values, fair dinkum.

Friday 21 April 2017

1 As a true blue Australian citizen I was perplexed with yesterday’s joint press conference between the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to announce changes to citizenship laws. In fact, I became angry that they could play the race card in such an obvious way. The changes were designed to strengthen Australian citizenship. What nonsense.

It was all smoke and mirrors designed to win back One Nation voters who have deserted them. They couldn’t even provide details of their proposed changes.

Asked at least five times to define ‘Australian values’ neither of them could. But it didn’t stop them from continuously repeating the term which seemed to get the journalists a trifle upset.

They seemed to be implying that these mysterious Australian values are somehow unique or peculiar to the local citizenry.

Are these the values that dared not pass their lips?

Respect for the equal worth, dignity and freedom of the individual

Freedom of speech

Freedom of association

Freedom of religion and secular government

Support for parliamentary democracy and the rule of law

Equality under the law

Equality of men and women

Equality of opportunity, regardless of race, religion or ethnic background

A spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play, compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good

But surely these are universal values common to most educated democracies.

So what are these uniquely Australian values?

Are they that one of our national songs is about a thieving itinerant worker who steals a sheep and commits suicide to avoid being caught?

Our national hero is a bushranger who ran around with a saucepan on his head.

Are our values built on our ability to overcome defeat on the sporting field?

Ricky Ponting is one of Australia’s greatest sporting heroes, for being the only Australian Cricket Captain famous for having lost the Ashes twice.

Do we look up to the values of Don Bradman who famously scored a duck in his last Test innings, thus ensuring he spectacularly failed to achieve a test average of 100 by the slimmest of margins?

What about the ABC who identifies so closely with his example of almost succeeding, while actually failing, that its GPO Box number is 9994 (Bradman’s ultimate average of 99.94)?

What about our armed forces who we celebrate with a biscuit?

We celebrate a massive and humiliating defeat in WW1 caused by British arrogance, idiocy and bad management. That’s why we prefer English migrants above all others. They make us look less stupid.

Most of our national icons are owned by foreign companies.

Our most famous piece of architecture was designed by a Dane.

Our most coveted sporting trophy is a bunch of ashes. The last day of an Ashes Test is called a “sickie”.

The country prides itself on its healthy disrespect for authority. It proved it at the Eureka Stockade when the miners fought the tax collectors. Sadly, they lost!

Australian Values, Fair dinkum.

Are our values enshrined in the example set by government, locking up and throwing away the key for asylum seekers on Nauru? What values do we find in committing people to a life in prison for not having perpetuated a crime?

Can our values be seen through the prism of and function of our body politic? By the standards our leaders set. By their corruption and incompetence.

We have built an entire culture on dubious values.

What about a “fair go”? Now that’s a tradition engrained in us. We give everyone a fair go unless it is politically useful not to do so or there is some advantage for our media to attack them.

What about the values we used to justify unilaterally attacking Iraq on the basis of a lie. That doesn’t mean we don’t respect democracy. We do. Specifically, we respect the democracies of Burma, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, China and Khazakstan.

As Australians we value and have a deep respect for a wide diversity of European cultures such as English and American.

You might recall that we demonstrated these values with the Cultural Respect classes we hold yearly in January at Cronulla Beach, a famous sewer near Sydney.

Again we demonstrate our values by showing tolerance. After all we tolerate homosexuals. We just don’t like them in our churches. We tolerate their awful deviant practices as long as we can avoid the mental pictures. Our values are such that at some time in the future we may even consider marriage equality.

Disregarding the fact that Australia has arguably the worst record of domestic violence in the world. Australia values and respects its women.

All Australians (except politicians) respect and value democracy. The government values the wishes of the people. It takes care to listen to the people and to their wishes, and then it does what it wants.

We value our own but prefer the head of another nation as our head of state. Australian values indeed.

And we value the existence of our indigenous folk so much that we might one day acknowledge their presence in our constitution. No hurry though.

My Australian values might be different to yours but we are a multicultural country.

2 I said but a few days ago that one only had to look at the property ownership of our politicians to find a reason for the Governments blanket ban on any changes to Capital gains and Negative gearing. Showing true self-interest and, might I say, Australian values. Yes the system has been set up to advantage the rich and privileged and of course our politicians. We should value them and we do.

The ABC says There’s no housing affordability crisis in the ranks of Federal Parliament’s members and senators.”

Even the razor gang, the group that slice and dice the budget and will ultimately decide on the housing affordability policies own many properties.

It’s composed of Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, who owns two residential and three investment properties; Treasurer Scott Morrison, who owns a home at Dolans Bay; and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who with his wife Lucy owns several properties, including a home at Point Piper and an apartment in Canberra.

Together with their perks on allowances it truly is a scandal what they are getting away with.

But they are the defenders of Australian values.

My thought for the day.

”Often our opinions are based on our values rather than our understanding and the difficulty is separating the two”.

PS: I acknowledge the contribution of Australian Values in the writing of this piece.

 

 

Day to Day Politics: When you tell a lie.

Thursday 20 April 2017

1 Like many others, I suspect, I was extremely sceptical of G W Bush’s claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The accusations always looked a bit sus as we Australians are apt to say. There are even suggestions that Bush knew that there were none. Even United States Secretary of State Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council looked fake.

On many occasions during that period I asked myself the question, ”why doesn’t Howard ask Bush for greater assurance before we make a commitment?”

As it turns out, there were none. There has never been to my knowledge a satisfactory explanation as to why the US Spy Agencies got it so wrong. Were we the victims of a gigantic lie, an excuse for a war that would revenge 9/11? Or was it just incompetence-telling your masters what they want to hear.

In recent weeks Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime has been accused of a pattern of chemical attacks.

Quoting Time.com:

”The bomb fell at around midday. Dropped from a helicopter, the barrel burst open and spawned its contents onto the pavement: at least four metal cylinders that ripped open to release a greenish gas that smelled of bleach. Within minutes, residents began to hack on the fumes.”

Chemical attacks represent a special brand of horror for civilian victims. That chemicals were used is beyond dispute. What is, is the truth of just who is responsible. The experience of Iraq highlights the need for truth over raw emotion.

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

”And given that samples from the victims showed conclusively that they had been exposed to sarin gas, there is only one conclusion: that the Assad regime almost certainly gassed its own people in breach of international law and the rules of war.”

I for one am yet to see any  solid, cast in concrete, beyond reproach evidence of who in fact was responsible. And until I do I shall preserve a healthy scepticism on the matter.

An observation.

“Any meaningful resolution to the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere for that matter) cannot be resolved without the transformation of the minds of men and consideration of the effect religion has on people”

 2 The Essential Poll. Labor leads Coalition 54% to 46% in two-party preferred vote. Labor is well ahead of the Coalition on the two-party preferred measure

Some interesting results in their surveys.

Pauline Hanson has a higher disapproval rating from voters than approval. The poll showed 48% disapproved of her performance, while 32% approved.

An observation.

”She thinks climate is the only thing you can do with a ladder”.

Voters gave the thumbs down to the idea of the Australian government providing military support for US actions in Syria. Fifty per cent disapproved while 31% approved.

3 Pauline Hanson tweeted that ”The Government will deny their tough talk on immigration & plan to ban 457 visas is because of One Nation but we all know the truth!”

Well she is right. The Government decision on 457 Visas was more to do with race than Australian jobs. It was an attempt to win back those who because of their adversity to others who are different have gone over to One Nation.

Shorten is winning votes on the left. Hanson winning votes on the right. Turnbull is being squeezed in the middle.

Just a few points on this. One, explain to me Australian values that aren’t universal ones. Two, are we so incapable of training a few thousand nurses, motor mechanics, carpenters, auto-electricians and young waiters? Three, is it because Abbott/Turnbull took $3 billion out of TAFE education? It was a race announcement under the pretext of a jobs announcement.

Lastly, it’s a bit rich when you have been in power for so long to then blame Labor for a problem you could have fixed ages ago.

On this day last year I wrote:

The average single pensioner receives $794 per fortnight. Bronnie will get $9614.

My thought for the day.

“When you tell a lie you deny the other person’s right to the truth”.

Day to Day Politics: On the habits of Abbott.

Wednesday 19 April 2017.

There are those who say he should just be ignored. I am not one of them. He is the proverbial gift that keeps on giving. The former Prime Minister is so full of egotistical compost that he can continuously replenish his own effluence.

And now every Monday he will be able to guild the lily to his heart’s content. He is the sort of person who craves the lights, the axiomatic attention seeker. No doubt Ray Hadley will feed him some questions reeking with the smell of blood and bone. But the truth is he shouldn’t have to worry about what people think of him if they knew how seldom they did.

But nevertheless let me take you on a journey back in time, to before he was disingenuously elected Prime Minister by the Australian people and eventually nominated as the worst leader in our history.

In a speech to the Western Australia Liberal Party Australia’s new Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised a “respectful” new parliament when it assembles for the first time on Tuesday 12 November 2013, promising the Labor years will soon fade like “a bad memory”.

Here are some other snippets from his speech:

Mr Abbott pledged a parliament that “discusses the issues, rather than abuses individuals”.

The prime minister said the parliament wouldn’t impugn the motives of opponents or trash their reputations.

If anyone tried to go over the top, new Speaker Bronwyn Bishop would sort them out.

“And I am confident that after just a few weeks of the new parliament – that parliament that diminished our policy and embarrassed our citizens over the last three years – will soon seem like just a bad dream’’.

“I want to say that we have made a good start, that the adults are back in charge and that strong, stable, methodical and purposeful government is once more the rule in our national capital.”

“I think all of you will have noticed that there is a new tone and a new style in Canberra.

“Yes, we will speak when we need to speak. But we won’t speak for the sake of speaking and we won’t bang on things for the purposes of a PR gesture.”

He is also on the record as saying this:

“We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public’’.

But let’s backtrack to Tony Abbott, Opposition Leader.

During his tenure as opposition leader he used colourful aggressive language. He was bullish in his attitude to others, particularly to the female Prime Minister of the day. His negativity was legendary. He was a repetitive liar by evidence and by his own admission.

He held in contempt procedures of the House of Representatives and the conventions it upheld.

There has been no other Opposition Leader in my memory who held the institution of Parliament in contempt to the degree Abbott did. He was the leader intent on creating a sense of crisis, of disorder, fear and dysfunction. His sole aim was the forcing of an early election at which he failed miserably.

His appalling parliamentary behaviour was on show for all to see. The abuse of question time and the endless suspension of standing orders. The constant refusal of pairs. The over use of censure motions and calls for quorums were all designed to distract the minority Labor Government.

The demeanour of he and his parliamentary colleagues (particularly Christopher Pyne) over the period of the Gillard/Rudd Governments was disgraceful and a blight on our parliamentary democracy.

An observation.

”Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh”.

It is true that Abbott found a formula (or was the formula) in Opposition that was suited for the political circumstances of the time. The formula will probably never be repeated because it is unique to certain personalities.

There are not many who could play the unconscionable bastardy role that he did. Although his gutter mentality was profoundly suited to it.

And now he wants us to believe that after his attempt at the wilful destruction and exploitation of our Parliament, (including an attempt to overthrow it) he now expects us to believe all the bullshit that his ego manufactures.

There is something fundamentally wrong with the character of a person who behaves in such a belligerent manner in opposition and government and  then sees no fault in it. Instead he placed all fault at the foot of his opponents. It takes a deluded personality to do so.

Despite holding the record as the most ejected politician in Parliamentary history Christopher Pyne as the new leader of the house indicated a more reasoned approach to debate. No one has ever feigned indignation better than the most disliked politician in Australia. It was a ridiculous thing to say because he had no intention of being reasonable. Speaker of the House Bronwyn Bishop presided over the Standing Orders she so often abused like an incubus witch.

If the first few weeks of the Abbott led Government Abbott displayed the contempt with which he held the Australian people. But we were not fools.

We knew that a politician whose grounding in politics was so adversarial cannot simply change from gutter politician to reasoned leader without taking some slime from the residue of his past with him.

If it’s one thing I dislike, its politicians who try to con me. Abbott’s attempt back then, and now, to eliminate facts, science and knowledge in the information age was ignorance that only a Luddite of Abbott’s technological illiteracy can display.

He showed a propensity to run from questions, avoid criticism, shut down debate and shut the mouths of ministers. He became confused by his own devious cleverness.

As PM he developed an elitist attitude born from his period as Opposition Leader where he believed his own bullshit. He was like a very bad actor in a performance of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. He is not in control of what personality he wants to be and even now reverts from one to the other without thinking.

“We will restore accountability and improve transparency measures to be more accountable to the public’’.

“What utter crap”, to use a phrase he was fond of.

Tony Abbott should be judged by his own standards and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. He has often been described as a pain in the neck but I have a much lower opinion of him.

His Monday meetings with Mr Hadley should prove delightfully destructive for both he and the Coalition. I hope it goes wonderfully well for all concerned.

“No wrecking, no sniping and no undermining”.

Why is he playing this negative political game? Is he trying to destroy the man who replaced him or even the party that deserted him? More likely he wants the leadership back. In the process he is more likely to bring on his own demise.

But then to quote Alan Jones:

“Coalition deserves a thrashing at the next election because they need to learn”.

My thought for the day.

”There are those who are so dumb you can see it written all over their face. And even then they spell it wrong”

PS Before the week is even done Trade Minister Steven Ciobo gets my gold medal award for the most laughable quote.

”Every backbencher has a right to put in their view, that’s exactly how our system works. I encourage every backbencher to keep contributing to the arsenal of policy ideas that the Coalition government has.”

 

Day to Day Politics: 8 days of political garbage.

Tuesday 18 April 2017

1 Whilst I enjoyed 8 days off from my day to day writings on matters of politics, I was burdened with the absurdity of it. No, not my writing, but the unadulterated nonsensical crap that invades the democratic process. Every time I tried to divorce myself from it something more incongruous would find itself into the media.

Malcolm Turnbull, for example, was shouting out that the Adani mine would create 10,000 or more jobs but Adani had told an Australian judge that the project would create 1464 direct and indirect jobs.

Someone tweeted:

@TurnbullMalcolm, could you please tell us how many ‘tens of thousands of jobs’ you think #adani mine will create. References wld be good.

At the same time the PM was meeting with the owner, scientists announced they were unable to keep up with the monitoring of major coral bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef. Yes, Turnbull was in India meeting with the CEO of Adani to discuss the mining giant’s multi-billion dollar Carmichael coal mine in Queensland, inland from the reef.

2 I watched economist Chris Richardson speaking at the National Press Club last Wednesday and it occurred to me just how those outside of political parties, or without an allegiance to one, made so much so more sense of things. How much better they were at explanation without the choke of ideology.

3 John Howard once said that disunity was death in politics. This current mob won’t have it. They believe a bit of long-term internal biffo is good for one’s brand. Scott Morrison at this time last year, if you remember, had so many things on the table that the recipe for a good budget became a chef’s disaster. This time around he has decided that using this thing called ‘superannuation’ might be better used to ease housing affordability without considering that it was designed for one’s retirement. Then all the mad-hatter conservatives go blabbering off at the mouth even when the PM tells them it’s not on saying the issue had gone “round and round” and referring to his earlier criticism of the plan as a “thoroughly bad idea“.  But who gives a stuff about what he thinks?

Morrison seems to be on the outer and all he seems to be doing is giving his mouth more exercise than it really needs. All and sundry know that something needs to be done about negative gearing but they will still have nothing to do with it. Mind you, if you were to take a peek at the property holdings on the government side even Blind Freddy could see why they don’t want to change the current set up.

4 “The release of the taxation statistics for 2014-15 reveals that, while the number of people negative gearing has levelled in the past three years as interest rates have fallen, the greatest share of the benefits of negative gearing goes to above average earners – and the biggest growth is to those owning multiple properties.”

5 The infighting must be very embarrassing and the interjections by senior members telling everyone to shut up, while expressing their own opinion, even more so. Christopher (The Fixer) Pyne joined the chorus of those telling everyone to shut up while allowing his own mouth to sing out of tune:

“It’s a great pity that colleagues are running these debates publicly.”  Then he joined the debate.

Even Sydney shock jocks, namely Ray Hadley, has deserted the Treasurer. Their friendship seems to have fallen apart since the shock jock demanded Mr Morrison literally swear on a Bible that he hadn’t betrayed the former PM. Now the hopelessly out of touch former PM Tony Abbott will replace Morrison for their Monday morning chats. This will of course give Abbott the opportunity to open his mouth further than it was ever intended to do and create more disunity. My tip is for a leadership challenge later in the year.

6 Mobs tried to storm the compound on Manus Island according to reports from security personnel and refugees inside the centre. The deal between the US and Australia is not yet in place but the government has said it plans to resettle those remaining on Nauru. Presumably to rot or just go mad as a deterrent to others who might seek compassion on our shores.

7 The Acting Prime Minister was found to be acting more like a petulant child in shouting at Queensland to “FILL IN THE BLOODY FORMS” than a compassionate politician. I thought he was a champion of cutting red tape. Well he is if there’s a buck in it.

8 Donald Trump dropped the largest ever non-nuclear device it has ever unleashed on a network of caves and tunnels used by Islamic State in eastern Afghanistan. Then he said he was ”proud” of doing so. Like rust, madness seems to be insinuating itself on the minds of our mentally deficient leaders.

Then their acolytes are infiltrated by the same madness.

Sean Spicer: “Hitler didn’t even sink to using chemical weapons.”

Ah yes, the Von Trump family and the presidency now seem to be running the world. The President’s son tells Moscow not to play funny buggers with his “tough” dad and Presidential daughter it seems was so outraged by the Syrian chemical strikes that she told Daddy to bomb ’em.

9 Thousands of hard-working Australians this Easter gave up time with friends and family to work on public holidays to make ends meet, yet Malcolm Turnbull wants to cut their wages.

10 One Nation and its leader Pauline Hanson seem determined to put beyond doubt any pretence to the fact that they are a mob of (I don’t know how to put it politely) unconscionable buffoons with fallacious individual dispositions.

Yes, Malcolm Roberts is at it again. This time he is accusing the ABC of colluding with the Islamic State:

“Their ABC put our digger’s lives at risk so as to execute a political hit on Senator Hanson. The ABC have declared Jihad on Aussie diggers. They have a fatwa on Pauline Hanson,” Senator Roberts posted to Facebook on Wednesday.

Not to be content with the above absurdity, One Nation then threatened to reconsider all legislation unless the Government withdrew $600 million from the ABCs budget.

Really, there should be a proof of sanity test before entering Parliament.

11 Then I read in the Guardian that:

”The OECD’s latest rankings show Australia slipping another spot to 17th out of 29 countries – meaning small countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg are contributing a greater portion of their budgets to helping the world’s neediest compared to Australia.”

12 Then over breakfast one morning I read that forty-eight Australians who earned more than $1m in the 2014-15 financial year paid no income tax. Nineteen reduced their taxable income to zero by claiming a combined $20.2m for the ”cost of managing tax affairs” – nearly $1.1m each. Gee that’s a laugh.

Remember what Tony said:

I just want to give you this assurance: no member of the Coalition comes into Parliament to raise taxes. Coalition members come into public life because we want to see taxes go down”.

He wasn’t kidding, was he?

Meanwhile the government plans an attack in the budget on those of a lessor earning capacity who take some cash in hand. You know those small business people who they purport some fondness for.

While I’m on the budget, am I to assume that because the Conservatives have doubled the debt that Labor left and that given the Treasurer’s repeated and repeated assertions that our problem is one entirely of overspending he must be planning one of two things? He is going to hit us with the biggest economic sledge-hammer of all time, or he will walk into a Hillsong Sunday service and ask for a miracle.

13 The performance of this excuse for a Government has yet again come under fire with the Onbudsman saying that Centrelink’s robo-debt scheme was not Not reasonable or fair”. It makes one wonder what will be next on their list of appalling decisions.

Well at least Abbott’s Green Army has gone and Work for the Dole seems set to follow.

14 I suppose I should finish less you think I have more to say than the Treasurer. Mind you that would be difficult. Anyway, when you ask a reasonable question I have always been of the view that you should get a reasonable answer in return. So on the matter of  ”jobs and growth” when Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison are asked for estimates of the growth and jobs dividends (how bloody many) from the company tax cuts passed by the Senate last week, the response is always bullshit, not numbers.

Morrison is usually egregious.in a What’s it got to do with you?” attitude:

“The Labor Party needs to be convinced about that,” he started, before adding that Labor had been putting around the press gallery the need for econometric modelling”

15 Just one more. An analysis of the last quarter’s Newspoll results show that “older Australians are deserting Malcolm Turnbull’s government in a powerful swing that is fuelling the rise of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, with the federal Coalition suffering a 10 per cent fall in support among voters older than 50 since the last election”. There you go. I knew I had some good news to share. Or is it?

My thought for the day.

“Every experience is a mountain with a peak to climb, a decent to safely navigate and a lesson or two to learn on route”.

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Inequality, unfairness, and other emotions.

Sunday 9 April 2017

1 I was alarmed to read yesterday that there was an internal struggle within Labor over its approach to inequality and other policies leading up to the next election.

At the moment Labor are benefiting from the public’s opinion of what is a deplorable government but with two years to go anything can happen. It’s easy for an opposition to lay back and let the consequences of bad governance take its course. Labor is effectively in cruise control post-election thanks to a Government almost on its knees. But being proactive is far better than reacting to daily issues, and more effective.

Positive polls are a reflection of a party without division, in permanent campaign mode unified with a common purpose. Labor cannot afford to lose sight of the many challenges confronting it to attain government.

But behind the everyday machinations of government as Labor begins the always challenging task of recalibrating key policies there are signs of decent.

Labor must not lose sight of the turbulence that exists in politics, worldwide. People are protesting that they are being left out. That they no longer have a say in their future. There is a dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. In their naivety communities are turning to the very people who have no interest in helping them.

There are those on the party’s left who believe in a more robust approach to inequality. Although on the right former Treasurer Wayne Swan is leading a chorus of voices in favour of a more aggressive one.

The contentious issue seems to centre around what’s known as the ”Buffett rule” where high income earners would pay a minimum rate of tax.

Creating a more equitable society will not be an easy task. There are a multitude of issues like the future of work for example that will need to be addressed. The Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen is on the “No Buffett tax” side and is adamant that it will not be on the party’s platform.

Whatever the outcome it is to be hoped that the Labor movement brings together a bit of the old Labor fire in the belly campaigning.

”From each according to his ability to each according to his needs”

If Labor cannot command the electorate’s attention on inequality and fairness then it doesn’t deserve to govern. The ACTU under the leadership of Sally McManus seems to be intent on taking advantage of a growing anger with what is seen as tax rorts by the rich and privileged. It may in fact be the catalyst that brings home those who have left the party and gone to the Greens or otherwise have joined the three million who have dropped out altogether.

2 Speaking of fairness, the man who knows not when to close his mouth was at it again yesterday, defending himself against the Robb Report’s conclusion that the party was “policy underdone” when it came to power. Something that I have been saying for many years. He believed that so long as the conservatives were in power that alone was a sure-fire answer to all the country’s ills.

“I’m happy to stand behind the 2014 budget,” Abbott told 2GB. “It was obviously a budget that was sabotaged in the Senate but it was a budget of sustained structural reform.”

”Had those measures passed through the Senate, our budgetary position would be vastly better, our future I think would be much more secure because we would be living within our means.”

The mind of a silver spooned capricious fool like Abbott, lacking any understanding of the word altruism, would I think be prevented by his own narcissistic qualities in admitting that his 2014 budget was condemned universally as the most unfair ever.

3 The one thing that is clear about our current situation is the trajectory. We have lost 30 Newspolls in a row. It is clear that the people have made up their mind about Mr Abbott’s leadership,”

Are you absolutely sure that the quote above was said by Prime Minister Turnbull.

“When I challenged Tony Abbott, I referred to the fact that he had lost 30 Newspolls in a row. That was not the only basis for my mounting a challenge, I made a number of other points.”

He is being asked the very reasonable question of what should take place when and if he reaches 30.

Mr Dutton, considered a potential future leader from the party’s right, agreed 30 bad Newspolls in a row would present a legitimate trigger for leadership challenge.

You see now he is saying that what I thought he said is only a figment of my imagination. That what I think I thought he meant is not what he meant at all. That when he says something and I take it to mean one thing he has the option of saying that what I thought I heard was not what I heard at all. It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant or did he mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant.

I know that I am 76 and I have the odd senior moment but usually I know what I mean and what is meant by what I say. I also know that people understand what I’m meaning.

My thought for the day.

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

PS: I will be taking a short break leading up to Easter.

 

Day to Day Politics: The Great Confession. “We are hopeless”.

Saturday 8 April 2017

“Three years of mistakes dented Libs”.

“The Coalition’s poor election result will be blamed on a failure by senior levels of the government over three years”.

“Post-mortem uncomfortable for all” says Simon Benson.

These words followed the headline in The Australian online newspaper. Nobody will be surprised at all. The polls reflect the ongoing insipid performance of the Coalition. No doubt the report into the performance of the Liberal party at the last election will leak more tasty morsels of embarrassment but these for words “Three years of mistakes” reveals their foolhardiness. The inconsistent in that statement is that it refers to the three years prior to the election. It speaks nothing of their ongoing failures.

“Jobs and Growth” had replaced “Stop the Boats” and despite its ineffectiveness and any explanation of how it works, remains so.

When I returned to The Australian online another headline had been posted:

“Libs split over exposing PM’s errors”.

“Senior party members worry that releasing a review of the 2016 election will further damage Malcolm Turnbull” wrote Joe Kelly.

The report released yesterday by former Trade Minister and Liberal Party director Andrew Robb, is believed to have found that the government was outgunned on the ground by Labor and progressive activist groups like Get Up, and failed to develop a strategy to neutralise or rebut key attack themes, such as the so-called “Mediscare” campaign.

Pre-empting that the report would be critical of him Tony Nutt resigned as federal director of the Liberal Party, saying it was time for renewal after 35 years of service.

The two headlines taken together and posted in what is nothing more than the official newsletter of the Liberal Party, for me is a confession of ineptitude of the highest order.

In case many of you are beginning to think that I’m sounding like a broken record allow me to quote Sean Kelly of The Monthly Today:

”According to sources familiar with the 2016 election campaign wash-up undertaken by Andrew Robb, the review finds the Liberals were outgunned on the ground by Labor and progressive activist groups, and failed to develop a strategy to neutralise or rebut key attack themes, like the so-called ‘Mediscare’ campaign. It criticises the lack of concrete policy sitting behind the Coalition’s ‘jobs and growth’ campaign slogan, and a lack of attention to defining political opponents…”

”Out of all those criticisms the one that jumps out at me is the lack of policy behind the “jobs and growth” slogan. This is part confirmation bias – I’ve made the point myself many times. Mostly though it is a huge slap at both Turnbull and Morrison. The fact that Labor can pick it up and use it indicates how important a point Robb must have felt it was. It can also be read as a clear direction to both the leadership and the cabinet about what can and must change right now. Policy is desperately needed. The company tax cuts are not enough.”

After the Coalition was elected it was obvious that the Government was flying blind under Abbott, MPs complained the central campaign message of jobs and growth was not cutting through but the mantra of ”Jobs and Growth” continues. With the budget only weeks away Scot Morrison, after telling the Banks to shut up about Marriage Equality is now imploring big business to shout to the rafters that the tax cuts will guarantee ‘’jobs and Growth.’’

Morrison was actually, even though cutting taxes was a government decision, needed to be making the case for business tax also. In other words they should be supporting the Government and be open about it.

They are, for obvious reasons reluctant to do so because there is no guarantee. If you have ever witnessed a chook having its head cut off and the frenzy that takes place after it, then you would have some idea of Morrison’s mindset at the moment.

In another confessional Peter Dutton admitted in an interview with Ray Hadley that the state of the Polls reflected the government’s performance. As is his want he blamed Labor for the Governments ills.

“Labor and Greens vote together to block legislation, it’s not an easy time to deal with the Senate or the debt that we’ve got, much easier if you’re spending money and making people happy.”

“But ultimately people recognise that yes they’ve made tough decisions but they’ve been for the right reason.”

Hadley noted that the Turnbull government has lost 10 Newspolls in a row and asked at what stage the prime minister would conclude he had ”better just pass the baton to someone else”.

”What happens after five more, he gets to 15 – does he say then enough is enough?” he asked, noting that Turnbull cited Tony Abbott’s loss in 30 consecutive polls as part of his justification to challenge for the leadership.”

Dutton replied: ”Well, Ray, that’s a fair point and Malcolm Turnbull wouldn’t step back from that point.”

”What we need to do is to turn polls around if that’s the measure we have to make tough decisions as the Howard government did, as the Abbott government did.”

Dutton argued that the government was not popular because it had to manage record debt levels in the budget and the Senate was made up of independents. Couldn’t he have taken it a step further by including a perception of incompetence and unfairness?

He didn’t elaborate on why the Coalition had doubled the debt.

”It’s easy to scare people in politics and Shorten has mastered it. And we have to expose it and if we do that and continue to do that in the run-up to the election then we will see the polls turn around.”

He is of course referring to “Mediscare” but Labor had enough evidence to make the claim credible. Turnbull conceded this point in his post-election analysis when he talked about Labor having “fertile ground in which that grotesque lie could be sown”.

He didn’t mention the Liberal’s long history of scare campaigns dating back to the 50s or how Abbott managed to scare people: ”Their coming to get you”. Nor did he mention how scary he was himself.

Labor will allow communists to take over Australia (1950 – 1972);

Labor will give unions too much power (1950-ongoing);

Labor will allow refugees to overrun Australia’s borders (2001-2014);

Labor plans to introduce a wealth tax (2001); and

Labor will introduce a great big tax on everything (2010 and 2013).

More recently, Electricity Bill, Climate tax and Border protection.

So leading up to what is clearly another important budget the Government has admitted that it has been a lousy one. They have made many errors both in leadership and policy.

The Governor of the Reserve bank has told them they are wrong on Negative Gearing and other matters and former Governor Bernie Fraser has done the same on abolishing Penalty Rates.

They have been told by treasury that there is little in return for the massive tax cuts for the big end of town. And yet all the policies put together by a born to rule government remain intact. The drip down hoax continues.

Could it be that they just need to listen. Or perhaps Turnbull, like Abbott, has a date in mind to reintroduce good government.

My thought for the day.

”I think we can often become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see other ways of doing things”.

Please note: ‘Day to Day’ is taking a rest in the run up to Easter.

 

Day to Day Politics: Advance Australia Where?

Friday 7 April 2017.

I have at my age come to appreciate just how little time is contained in the passing of three years. Those of us who discuss politics argue that three years is hardly enough time to change anything and suggest that four would be better. Having said that, historically parties generally get two terms so in reality they govern for six, which should be enough time to implement a program. If you have one.

What complicates it is when a government such as the one we have now is elected and is incapable of getting things done. One full of internal division and ministerial incompetence.

What follows is a simple demonstration of this. Compare what I wrote on this day last year with the happenings of today. The comments in bold are also mine. You might like to raise some points of your own.

1 In my naivety, after so much damage had been done by Tony Abbott to our democratic institutions, I like many others thought that with the advent of Malcolm Turnbull a new era of politics might be possible. One in which civility prevailed over crass debate. I had hoped that this election might somehow be the contest of ideas that Bill Shorten had talked about.

I wrote these words one year ago today. Only one side was offering anything new and it was the Labor Party who was ahead of the game in the months leading up to the election. Turnbull was producing thought bubbles that were seen for what they were. The person of quiet, calm discourse went missing in a blaze of hypocrisy soon after attaining the position.

I was of course wrong. After watching the debacle last week that cumulated in the states knocking back Turnbull’s states tax proposal I am convinced that this election will follow all others before it with the same quantity of rusted on bullshit that attaches itself to those who seek power over leadership and governance for the common good. It will be an election like all the others of my lifetime. An election of claims versus counter claims, of lies and promises designed to either gain or retain office.

Well it turned out to be an election of a 10 week duration where the leader of the conservative parties put in one and a half million dollars of his own money. Shorten surprised by out campaigning Turnbull with a thoughtful campaign that gave refreshing, progressive ideas that have been lacking for years.

2 Yesterday’s Newspoll 51/49 to Labor result got everyone excited at the possibility of a Labor victory. No one seemed to notice that the Morgan Poll released the same day had the Coalition well ahead on 52.5 to Labor 47.5. Morgan suggested, if you believe them, that this was because Turnbull was showing leadership. You can add to the mix Tuesday’s Essential Poll which had the two parties on 50/50.

Polls only ever reflect what people are thinking at the time. They are not  a ”who will win” barometer this far out. One would need to look at seat by seat polling to get a feel for that. However, Labor has to be pleased with the trend toward it.

The Polls were suggesting a very close election. The Murdoch press decided to ignore it and just scraped over the line and with a majority of one proclaimed a mandate to do anything. And still do.

The fact is, that the government is in very bad shape with a leader who seems to be in very poor form. His Government is riddled with disunity. Even the mouth that roared, Chrissy Pyne agreed after hearing the Newspoll result on Q&A. Nobody feigns indignation better than the fixer.

What’s changed? A year on the government is still in very bad shape with a leader who seems to be in very poor form. His Government is riddled with disunity.

Abbott is in the background being who he is. Conservative senator Cory Bernardi is registering his own Donald Trump-style political party Morrison isn’t talking with the boss but both he and Mathias Cormann are. They pop up here there and everywhere talking and talking and talking like the proverbial broken record. Rarely do the actually say anything.

Yes they still do it. They pop up here there and everywhere talking and talking and talking like the proverbial broken record. Rarely do the actually say anything. I don’t know if it’s just me but at the moment I’m finding Morrison almost indecipherable. I thought Turnbull was going to do all the for that reason.

Andrews would even challenge with half a chance. Turnbull puts things on the table and takes them off before people have had a chance to peruse the menu.

His last big idea that was presented to the Premiers, a tiered tax system together with segregated education system, lasted three days. The process Turnbull used to present his ideas was simply deplorable. If a manager presented a plan such as it on a sheet of A4 to the board of a major company they would laugh him out of the boardroom. We deserve better this sort of crap. Pardon my Tonyism.

An observation.

“Change is a process, not an event”.

Somehow the Murdoch press managed to spin it as Turnbull confronting the states. Can you believe it?

Now if you believe Turnbull, Morrison and Cormann that the only problem we have is one of spending too much. That the budget is a disaster waiting to happen, then the next budget will have to be the most draconian in recent history. The question arises will they do the right thing for the country or will they present a survival budget with an eye on doing the dirty work in a second term if the win.

This budget will be helped out with some rises in commodities. But after blaming Labor for every economic sin in sight they somehow have to explain how they have managed to double the debt, and how it is possible we can afford a tax cut for the rich and privileged while at the same time attacking the conditions of the less well off. And of course being unable to explain how the cuts will produce jobs. Morrison yesterday was asking large companies to explain what he cannot.

3 Turnbull faces many problems as the election approaches. The two that stand out are ones of comparative fairness. It was he after all who said that the government had to apply a fairness test to its proposals. He wants to give business a tax break in the midst of raging controversy over corporations and wealthy individuals not paying any. Stories of the prevalence of tax evasion are everywhere, on TV, the radio and news programs. The super-rich and the privileged don’t have to pay. Why should we?

While tax evasion is rife by those who can well afford to pay the latest news tells us that the government is about to pounce on the black economy. The local electrician who might take cash to install a power point.

The Panama Papers have revealed some 800 Australians people being investigated by the ATO. People see the unfairness. PAYG taxpayers must think the government is just using them to cook the books.

Only last month the Tax Office admitted that 321 companies with earnings over $200 million didn’t pay any tax in 2013-2014. The Melbourne Institute which shows the top 1 per cent of Australian earners had amassed 9 per cent of Australian income in 2013, more than double the rate of wealth concentration than was the case in the 1980s.

I mean, “fair suck of the sav” as someone once said.

4 They want the ABCC legislation passed and won’t even consider structuring an authority to oversee corruption in big business and government. People see the unfairness. It looks like and sounds like a vendetta against Unions for no other reason than political gain.

Well they got the ABCC legislation through but it was watered down to the point where you could drive a truck through it.

So to repeat myself.

It will be an election like all the others of my lifetime. An election of claims versus counter claims, of lies and promises, all designed to either gain or retain office. Nothing more, nothing less.

5 Quoting Peter Hartcher:

”Australia had a bipartisan consensus on climate change under John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. The consensus was that climate change was real and that pricing carbon through an emissions trading scheme was the best way for Australia to respond.

Abbott shattered the consensus. He rode to power a conservative reaction against climate change action. He used it to destroy Turnbull’s leadership and then Rudd’s and, finally, Julia Gillard’s …The bleaching of the Barrier Reef.

In the first week of the news breaking, it ranked as the ninth most reported subject, according to the media monitoring specialists at iSentia. The most reported topics of that week in Australia were tax reform, the Twenty20 World Cup, the Socceroos, the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Egyptian airline hijacking.

In the second week, as more evidence of yet more extensive mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef emerged, the topic dropped to number 10.

Similarly, there was relatively little reporting of the record-breaking heatwaves of February, says iSentia’s Patrick Baume.

Why? “It’s only a hypothesis, but I think there’s been a peaking of interest or concern” in matters related to climate change.

“It’s seen as something from the past, as if getting rid of the carbon tax meant we’d got rid of climate change. It’s a funny one.”

An observation.

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

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: The man with the cowboy walk.

Thursday 6 April 2017

1 Trump and Abbott are very much alike in so much as they are liars of the highest standard. What separates their uniquely nefarious qualities is that Abbott admits to it while Trump cannot see that he ever does.

That aside I wanted today to discuss the future of the former Prime Minister Abbott. What is it that makes him hang around? Is it that as a former PM he is still listened to. Does he still cling to the forlorn hope that he might regain the top job. I think it fair to say that he has no hope of doing so.

I give four reasons for his unsavoury uselessness in occupying space that someone else could usefully inhabit. First is the capacity to inflict wounds on one’s predecessor Two he is so deluded that he truly thinks that if Turnbull were to go his party would welcome him back. Thirdly, he is not trained to do anything else. And fourthly he just craves attention.

There is ample evidence that he is the greatest liar to have ever walked the floor coverings of the House of Representatives. Albeit with a “cowboy walk” more befitting an exit from a rodeo toilet. (Look it up).

After a gilt edged guarantee that there would be ”no wrecking, no undermining, and no sniping” when he lost the leadership to Malcolm Turnbull in September, 2015, we now find him deliriously discontent with the government’s Xenophon agreement to pass billions of dollars in company tax cuts.

”You should never agree to do something which is wrong to get something which is right.”

”We all want to be in the sensible centre but you’ve got to have things that you are fighting for.”

It was Abbott’s way of giving Turnbull a shirtfront after he implored the party, last Saturday, to make for the center of Australian Politics. It also comes after the Essential poll and Newspoll returned the Coalition to a 6 point disadvantage.

The comments of course are a follow-up to his February comment that the government was ”Labor-lite” and suggested it was ”drifting to defeat”.

Turnbull rather sarcastically responded by saying that Tony was an ”experienced politician” who ”knows exactly what he’s doing”.

A very angry and upset Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said:

”I am just saddened by what self-evidently is his decision to provide more and more destructive commentary. He is not helping our cause.”

So what will happen to the politician with the cowboy walk? It seems likely that if he decided to retire at the next election he would not do so without drawing both Colt 45s and hitting as many targets as possible.  He is untrained for anything other than politics and no one would employ a liar of his enormousness. I would suggest a Texas ranch where blue jeans, the appropriate boots, the cowboy swagger and a flair for the uncouth are much more appreciated.

If the Coalition happened to win there would be no future and if they lose, less so. No I think, either way Australian Politics will see the last of the liar with the John Wayne swagger.

Just to refresh your memory here is a list of Abbot’s critiques since the election.

September 22, 2015 In his first post-spill interview, Mr Abbott claims new Treasurer Scott Morrison ”badly misled people” after he’d suggested he had warned the former PM about the coup on his leadership.

September 29, 2015 Two weeks after the spill, Mr Abbott appears on Sydney talk radio with a cheeky swipe at the new government. ”If you listen to the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, they’re even using the exactly the same phrases that Joe Hockey and I were using just a fortnight ago,” he tells 2GB.

September 9, 2016 Malcolm Turnbull announces an inquiry into youth detention in the Northern Territory following revelations of alleged abuse by Four Corners. Soon after, Mr Abbott appears on Alan Jones’ show. ”But you’re right, Alan — normally governments should not respond in panic at TV programs,” he says.  October 18, 2016 The backbench MP is at the centre of controversy over speculation that the Turnbull government is considering a Senate deal on the Adler shotgun in return for passage of the ABCC.

February 24, 2017 On a Friday night in February, Mr Abbott sends Coalition ministers into a spin, labelling the government ”Labor-lite” and suggesting it was ”drifting to defeat” in two separate public appearances.

March 24, 2017 In the week Victoria’s Hazelwood power station is slated to close, Mr Abbott offers his successor some unsolicited advice. The PM should try to keep it open, he writes in a piece for the Herald Sun.

March 31, 2017 After helping to scuttle an extradition treaty with China being pushed by the government but opposed by some Coalition MPs, Mr Abbott lashes ”senior government sources” who had briefed against him.

“Plainly, the whole extradition treaty business was badly mishandled by senior members of the government,” he tells 2GB.

April 3, 2017 The government is overjoyed after it strikes a deal with crossbencher Nick Xenophon in the Senate to pass its company tax cuts. Later on Sky, Mr Abbott is less impressed.

2 Both Turnbull and Morrison in interviews over the past couple of days have been loath to say how many jobs will be created by the tax cuts for business.

In my daily reading I came across a piece by respected economics journalist Ross Gittens. In it he was discussing the credentials of the Tax Cuts for business. His summary was succinct

This is economic nonsense. ScoMo regards it as a self-evident truth that cutting taxes creates jobs whereas raising taxes destroys jobs. Unfortunately, no one’s told the Scandinavians.

In fact, there’s no empirical evidence of a relationship between countries’ level of taxation and their success in creating jobs.’”

ScoMo’s own Treasury modelling predicts that the full company tax cut would do almost nothing to increase employment.

Beware of politicians trying to sell propositions on the basis of all the jobs they’ll create. They just know which of your buttons to press.

3 So One Nation has made the decision to restructure its political Party. In doing so they have made federal leader Pauline Hanson President and her chief of staff, James Ashby secretary of a new incorporated body.

I’m interested as to how a shady character like Ashby is able to, despite confessing on National Television that he intended stealing the Speaker of the Hose of Representatives diary, could be appointed to such a post. There were more sinister allegations of bringing down the government of the day.

Not only that however. In 2016 he was alleged to have had sex with two 15-year-old boys.

Hear is part of an email used by 7.30.

7.30 has also seen Facebook messages that Mr Ashby sent to the young man confirming their relationship.

“I really never gave an explanation behind me f***ing off and not saying why,” Mr Ashby wrote.

“Strangely enough the reason was so pathetic but I thought I’d share it with you.

“Your mum freaked me out one night when she walked in on me in your bed. That did my head in for some strange reason.”

As I said it was all alleged and the Queensland Police cleared him regardless of the email. The same with the 60 minute interview.

Perhaps it’s just the standards that have slipped.

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump report No12. A madman indeed.

Wednesday 5 April 2017

1 Arguably the worst decision ever undertaken by a politician in the history of the Western body politic is the one taken by the President of the United States called ”Energy Independence” executive order. It reverses the one President Obama put in place to combat climate change and help America meet the commitments it made in Paris.

It is a decision that could only, given the copious mountain of scientific evidence, be made by a madman. One so devoted to the greed of capitalism that he is blinded by his own ignorant, narcissistic insanity.

We look upon the sky and planes fly with the force of science. We look upon our cities and great cathedrals of science rise. We attend our doctor who scientifically diagnoses our ills and we fight, for better or worse, our wars with the aid of science. The credentials of science seem inexhaustible.

Science unequivocally tells us that there is a problem with our emissions and we must do something about it to avoid catastrophic outcomes.

The President’s evidence in support of doing nothing to combat the effects of climate change is as follows:

“The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”

On Dec. 30, 2015, Trump told the crowd at a rally in Hilton Head, S.C., “Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming and … a lot of it’s a hoax. It’s a hoax. I mean, it’s a money-making industry, okay? It’s a hoax, a lot of it.”

On Jan. 25, 2014, Trump tweeted, “NBC News just called it the great freeze — coldest weather in years. Is our country still spending money on the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX?”

On Jan. 29, 2014, Trump tweeted: “Snowing in Texas and Louisiana, record-setting freezing temperatures throughout the country and beyond. Global warming is an expensive hoax!”

That same day, he tweeted, “Give me clean, beautiful and healthy air – not the same old climate change (global warming) bullshit! I am tired of hearing this nonsense.”

Trump also called climate change a “hoax” on the Jan. 6, 2014, edition of Fox & Friends.

In addition, he said on the Sept. 24, 2015, edition of CNN’s New Day, “I don’t believe in climate change.”

And on Jan. 18, 2016, Trump said that climate change “is done for the benefit of China, because China does not do anything to help climate change.”

”We didn’t find Trump using the word “hoax” in the months since our previous fact-check, but he hasn’t backed off his aggressive skepticism of climate change and policies designed to alleviate it. In fact, he’s enshrined opposition to climate change efforts as a key part of his platform.”

Donald went to his doctor complaining recently complaining about chest pains. All the relevant tests were done and the doctor reported that there was indeed a problem that needed urgent attention. Probably surgery. Trump looked at him, without the slightest concern and said. Well thanks, Doc, but it seems OK at the moment.

Melania is probably right. My hiccups are getting worse.

These are measures Mr Obama put in place to combat climate change and help America meet the commitments it made in Paris:

  • Limit global warming to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius and aim for 1.5C
  • Make greenhouse gas emissions peak “as soon as possible”, followed by a rapid reduction
  • Eliminate use of coal, oil and gas for energy
  • Replace fossil fuels with solar, wind power

“My administration is putting an end to the war on coal,” Mr Trump said as he signed his executive order, flanked on by more than a dozen coal miners.

Some observations.

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

If we do not take action on the environment and there is no disaster the outcome will be due to luck alone, like someone winning tattslotto.”

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

How can one man hold the future of the planet in his hand while the remaining leaders kowtow to him?”

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

The ‘historic and ambitious’ climate agreement has shown global leadership from the US and China.”

2 The recent London terrorist attack on 23 March on Westminster Bridge near the Houses of Parliament killed at least four with forty injured.

A few days later earlier air strike killed more than 200 civilians in Mosul. An investigation has found it was conducted by the US-led coalition at the request of Iraqi security forces, the Pentagon said on Saturday.

Witnesses said the airstrike killed hundreds of residents on Baghdad Street in west Mosul’s Aghawat Jadidah neighbourhood on March 17, including many women and young children.

Donald Trump had nothing to say.

3 Being the world’s champion egotist and self-loving narcissistic, it must have come as a shock to the President to find out just how incompetent he and his Republican representatives really are. During the election campaign he described the Health Care plan he would deliver as a health care one  that would be “unbelievable”, “beautiful”, “terrific”, “less expensive and much better”, “insurance for everybody”.

What a dud it was and no amount of sweet talk by the Donald would wipe the embarrassment from his face.

Writing for Fairfax Nicholas Kristof described it thus:

“It’s sometimes said that politicians campaign in poetry and govern in prose. Trump campaigns in braggadocio and governs in bombast.”

After all they only had 8 years to design a better scheme than Obamacare. All they could come up with was a tax cut for the wealthy financed by dropping health coverage for the needy.

4 Last but not least the Presidents former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, openly confesses that he offered to testify before the FBI and congressional committees about potential links between the Trump campaign and Russia in exchange for immunity.

Now I wonder why he would want immunity.

My thought for the day.

“We can sometimes become so engrossed in our own problems that we can easily overlook the enormity of the suffering of others.”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: It’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

What follows are edited pieces from an interview between CNN’s Lou Dobbs and Warren Buffet in 2005. Please note the year.

BUFFETT: I personally would increase the taxable base above the present $90,000. I pay very little in the way of Social Security taxes because I make a lot more than $90,000. And the people in my office pay the full tax. We’re already edging up the retirement age a bit. And I would means test … I get a check for $1,700 or $1,900 or something every month. I’m 74. And I cash it. But I’ll eat without it.

DOBBS: You will eat without it. So will literally more than a million other Americans, as well. Means testing, the idea of raising taxes, the payroll tax. In 1983, Alan Greenspan, the Fed chairman, he had a very simple idea: raise taxes. That’s what you’re saying here.

BUFFETT: Sure. But I wouldn’t raise the 12-point and a fraction payroll tax, I would raise the taxable base to above $90,000.

DOBBS: That’s a progressive idea. In other words, the rich people would pay more?

BUFFETT: Yeah. The rich people are doing so well in this country. I mean, we never had it so good.

DOBBS: What a radical idea.

BUFFETT: its class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be.

DOBBS: Exactly. Your class, as you put it, is winning on estate taxes, which I know you are opposed to. I don’t know how your son Howard feels about that. I know you are opposed to it …

At the same week the House passed the estate tax, Congress passed the bankruptcy legislation, which they had the temerity to call bankruptcy reform, Democrats and Republicans passing this legislation, which is onerous to the middle class. Half of the bankruptcies in this country take place, because people fall ill, serious illnesses result in bankruptcy. Nearly half of the people involved. How do you, — you have watched a lot of politics. What is going on in this country?

BUFFETT: The rich are winning. Just take the estate tax, less than 2 percent of all estates pay any tax. A couple million people die every year, 40,000 or so estates get taxed.

We raise, what, $30 billion from the estate tax. And, you know, I would like to hear the congressman say where they are going to get the $30 billion from if they don’t get it from the estate tax. It’s nice to say, you know, wipe out this tax, but we’re running a huge deficit, so who does the $30 billion come from?

DOBBS: And it is, its $300 billion in lost tax revenue over the course of the next decade if the estate tax goes through.

You say the rich are winning. The rich are winning in some cases, because they are cheating. The corporate corruption scandals, which burst full upon the country at the end of 2001, Sarbanes-Oxley, new regulations, new efforts to achieve transparency. Has enough been done? Or does more need to be done?

BUFFETT: Well, right now corporate profits as a percentage of GDP in this country are right at the high. Corporate taxes as a percentage of total taxes raised are very close to the low.

DOBBS: Historically we’re talking about.

BUFFETT: Historically. So, you know, corporate America is not suffering, I’ll put it that way.

DOBBS: Corporate America is not suffering. In point of fact, those same organizations that I just mentioned, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable representing some of the largest companies are saying “You tax us, you are taxing our consumers, our customers.” Do you think corporations in this country should be paying more? Taking some of that burden?

BUFFETT: I think that … you have seen companies be able to repatriate earnings with a very small tax that were taxed at very low rates abroad. Corporations are doing better in the total tax picture than the people I’m going to walk by on the street when I leave here.

DOBBS: And some of the people you are going to meet are going to say, perhaps this evening and otherwise in business circles, are going to say, Warren, what are you talking about, raise our taxes.

BUFFETT: They are still friends of mine, Lou.

DOBBS: You are going to get along. I know you are going to get along.

BUFFETT: Is there anyone I have forgotten to offend?

Since that interview In 2005 Buffets assertion that ”it’s class warfare, my class is winning, but they shouldn’t be” the rich have become even more powerful with more wealth than the lower classes could ever imagine.

After the 2016 Australian budget people dared to speak about the subject of ‘’class war”. Usually a taboo one at the best of times. Bill Shorten noted that the budget offered tax breaks for the wealthy, but nothing for those on less than $80,000 a year. The well-known columnist Andrew Bolt described Tanya Plibersek as a ”merchant of envy” for daring to point out that millionaires and big business would benefit from budget measures in a way that middle-income families won’t. Right wing journalist Miranda Divine even accused Scott Morrison of caving in to the new normal” of “soak-the-rich class warfare” by targeting the ”Coalition’s base of hardworking ‘lifters’ — the top 4 per cent of income earners”.

There is of course, in case you haven’t noticed, a class war going on. Warren Buffet re asserted his observation in 2011:

”There’s been class warfare going on for the last 20 years, and my class has won.”

As Jason Wilson pointed out in the Guardian after last year’s budget:

In Australia, as in other economies, since the 1990s, labour’s share of national income has declined dramatically, and in the last decade wage growth has fallen away too. Unions have declined in membership as their power in the workplace has been curtailed, and the screws have been put on the poorest with endless iterations of ”welfare reform”, even as corporate taxes have been cut.

In the past week we have seen huge tax reductions for the rich and privileged against a backdrop of taking away penalty rates for the poorest paid in our community and a lack of support on an increase of the minimum wage while around 700 companies pay no tax at all.

Inequality is rife and the rich have open to them any amount of tax concessions and ways of limiting their tax liability, yet those who feel disenfranchised turn to the likes Trump and Hanson who have no interest in them.

We live in a society where poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

There’s a class war going on where one side has all the weapons and the other is just subservient. The why of it escapes my understanding?

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

Do people believe it’s their individual right to take an ownership of prosperity and cultural worth? Perhaps the deliberate assassination, by the political and religious right, of science, has something to do with it. Maybe it’s the death of truth as we know it.

In my lifetime the left, as society has become more affluent, has certainly moved to the right and the right have gone further so.

Maybe it’s the preponderance of right-wing propaganda in our media. Whatever it is why are they so feral about it?

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

In the case of Australian politicians, well they have inherited the worst traits of American Republicanism, Trumpism and the Tea Party. It’s loud, powerful and crass. It’s determined to have its way.

 But the mystery to me is why the middle and the deprived classes of society think their lot will be improved by electing those the least interested in doing so.

An observation.

”The word ”Frugality” is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the English language, yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying and a consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.”

Another observation.

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

Every time the left in Australia shouts fairness equality and equity the right come back with envy, class warfare and jealousy.

But what the hell is this class warfare everyone talks about? I would have thought that there was less class distinction in Australia than in most countries. At least on the surface. We do however have an attitude known as ”them and us” syndrome. This phrase speaks of the wealthy who are privileged beyond conscience and then, well there’s us. The battlers with aspirations to also be wealthy but, unlike Americans, with the common sense to know that not everyone can be. Although if you are one of them of course (the wealthy) it does afford you a better class of education, of medical treatment and access to the law.

In fact it gives you distinct societal advantages. Like tax havens, tax avoidance, and superannuation discounts not available to us. Oh and I forgot negative gearing and a myriad of other concessions.

The term ”Class Warfare” originates from the USA and has been a favourite form of attack by Fox News and the Republicans against the left. Like most things that have a basis in the worship of wealth and privilege the right in Australia adopt the same negative position. Fox News also uses the term ”War on wealth” in their efforts to support wealth as a national goal. Everyone should aspire to be rich even if everyone cannot.

Who is waging this so-called war? I don’t see the middle and lower classes up in arms over their treatment. But I do see the wealthy and the super-rich getting cranky every time there is a threat to their privilege.

Or at the suggestion that they should contribute more to the public coffers. In fact never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen about their economic self-righteousness.

They are ably supported by the Murdoch press who invariably perpetuate and use the phrase “Class Warfare” in a manner that suggests the lower and middle classes and particularly the Labor Party are at war with the rich. But ask yourself who is doing all the complaining. It’s the wealthiest it’  ”them” not ”us”.

When for the first time Australian mining companies campaigned against the Rudd government effectively telling them how much tax they were prepared to pay, they were playing the class warfare card. Such was the power of wealth that Gina Rinehart, Twiggy Forrest and Clive Palmer got away with it. The fact that the minerals belong to all of us seemed unimportant to them. Not to mention the enormous taxpayer-funded subsidies they receive. They don’t seem to understand the concept of fairness. There is ”them” and ”us”

When Wayne Swan made a speech some years ago encouraging an equitable share of the country’s wealth he was accused of engaging in class warfare. Isn’t tax meant to be redistributed?

Even newspapers like the Herald Sun who pitch to a common man/woman demographic, pander to the class of rich without hesitation. Perhaps it’s because they are owned by one of the world’s wealthiest men. Ironic, isn’t it?

Let’s look at the GST for example. It burdens the poor and those with the least capacity to pay. It discriminates against the poor and the pensioners who are living a hand-to-mouth existence and spending the bulk of their income on the necessities of life – clothing, rent, heating, power etc. The middle and lower classes pay more GST than the rich but I don’t see them in open warfare because of it. Goodness, once the rich had to pay a luxury tax of 33% on their BMWs. Now it’s 10%.

Media commentary research shows that the Murdoch press is the major contributor to this supposed idea of a class warfare. The Australian Financial Review at the time ran 10 articles on this theme. The Daily Telegraph 21 and The Australian 77. Add to that a few disgruntled Labor hacks who couldn’t get their own way and you can identify who is leading the chorus. But us, until now, well we seem to be leaderless.

When the wealthiest in the land have for years virtually been practicing tax avoidance literally paying no tax and large corporations following suit, who is playing class warfare?

When such behaviour is questioned the right-wing media portray it as an attack on the wealthy. “It’s class warfare” they shout.

However, at the time of Swan’s essay, the Coalition planned to cut the rebate for low-income earners (mainly women) and take away the school bonus subsidies the war becomes a one-sided impasse. And when Abbott’s 2014 Budget was universally condemned as the most unfair ever because it placed the burden of budget repair on the poor and middle class, the right had the audacity to call it class warfare on the rich.

Yes, the rich are in a class of their own. And their success is judged on the size and value of their assets. A poor measure by any standard.

Even when it’s suggested that equality of opportunity in education is a noble pursuit and the right of every child, people like Christopher Pyne say it as class warfare and he ludicrously described the Gonski reforms as such. Mind you he confessed to never having read the report.

When a person like Pyne suggests that the implementation of Gonski is practicing class warfare, it’s easy to see who is actually practicing it. Those elitist bastards, not us.

The war it seems is only being waged against those who are wealthy and can afford it. Poor buggers. I’m tempted to donate 10% of my pension if they are doing it that bad.

So the ”Class War” would appear to be a Clayton’s one at best. Only one side is fighting it. It’s ”them” not ”us.”  And it’s very hard to get through to a class who believes that what’s theirs is theirs and what’s yours is negotiable.

They want all the excesses that come with wealth and then they want some more. As for us, we don’t confuse what we want with what we need.

When you consider that currently taxpayer subsidies given to mining companies, the taxpayer assisted negative gearing, the tax loopholes and the wealthy who just don’t pay tax at all, is it any wonder the rich feel threatened? And with a growing awareness that banks and big business are ripping us off, it is the rich who are practicing a class warfare that is breeding a growing inequality.

Neoliberalism argued that if government taxed the rich less and kept wages down and taxed the poor more than the more equitable society, through efficiencies would eventually become.

It hasn’t worked that way. All that has happened by releasing the super-rich from the constraints of democracy is to make them wealthier than morality should consent to.

You can be assured of one thing: When a conservative Government and right-wing MSM refer to class warfare they are simply saying ”they are trying to take something from us that we deserve and it’s not fair”. And remember that Maggie assured us that the poor would be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich.

My arse it will! It never has and it never will be.

My thought for the day.

”Meritocracy is a term used to imply that those at the top of the social scale have merit and a slur against those at the bottom.”

PS: And there we had the Prime Minister on Saturday imploring the Liberal Party not to go any further to the right. It’s too late, you already have.

 

Day to Day Politics: Taking credit when none’s due.

Sunday 2 April 2017

1 For all his bluff and bluster, a perpetual smile, together with the occasional stunt, it seems to me that Nick Xenophon really doesn’t achieve much. Such is the case with the Government’s Tax Cuts for business. And I might add that when he does it generally favours a rightish ideology.

Ostensibly all he has negotiated is a one off ‘insult’ payment to pensions of a piddling $75 for a single person and $125 for a couple for those on the aged pension, the disability support pension or the parenting payment.

It’s supposed to cover rising energy prices.

The smiling faces of Malcolm Turnbull, Treasurer Scott Morrison and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann gave a press conference on Friday to hail the changes as a ”great day for Australian workers and Australian businesses”.

”This is a great result for 6.5 million Australians working for businesses that will get the benefit of this tax cut,” Turnbull said.

My God, you would think they were going to walk into work on Monday to be told their would be an extra 100 bucks in their pay packets next week.

Xenophon additionally negotiated some energy measures including fast-tracking a solar-thermal plant in South Australia. It is already underway and a new National Energy Policy which the chief scientist had already been commissioned to come up with by mid-year. There was also a non-binding promise for a study into the viability of a gas pipeline connecting the state with the Northern Territory.

The Government also promised to enforce a ”Public interest” order on the big three liquefied natural gas exporters in Queensland to force them to pump more gas to the domestic market. Again this was something Turnbull had done when he met gas executives early last month.

It seems to me that Xenophon does this frequently walking away with the credit for doing little other that giving the government it way. He is a PR freak. At the end of the day all he got for tax cuts to the rich and privileged was a one off $153 payment for pensioners.

There is no evidence that these cuts are about ”Jobs and Growth,” no modelling. No statement from the ATO that they will create ”Jobs and Growth.”

As Sally McManus told the Press Club last Wednesday:

”Wage theft is a new business model for far too many employers. Inequality in our country is now at a 70-year high. And 679 of our biggest corporations pay not one cent in tax.”

So the new tax rate will reduce from 30 to 25 per cent over 10 years for companies earning up to $50 million.

With a large number of companies paying no tax at all together with numerous concessions and tax imputation most companies already only pay about 24%.

It is one of the reasons why a report from the Australian Tax Office found that Business Council of Australia members actually paid an effective tax rate of 24 per cent as a group in 2014-2015.

With the lack of evidence regarding any connection to ‘’Jobs and Growth” it is easy to see that this is just old trickledown economics of the sort that modern economists say is past its used by date.

Jacqui Lambie argued that companies – including multinationals – did not need any more help with tax cuts and said the big four banks would receive $7.4bn in revenue if the Coalition’s package went through.

At midday on Saturday while enjoying a cuppa the Prime Minister graced our television screen espousing how we are all going to enjoy the benefits of giving tax cuts to businesses with turnovers of $50 million.

Having already doubled Labor’s debt one wonders where the money is coming from to pay for this. Remember the uproar from the Coalition and the Murdoch press just a few years back.

I can only conclude that the word “lying” in political terms has been replaced with the more subtle reference of “overstatement”. Maybe bullshit would be a better word. One thing is for sure. He is no longer the calm reasoned man of thoughtful disposition we thought we were going to get when he got the job.

While I’m on the subject of energy it’s interesting that a $1 billion battery and solar farm will be built at Morgan in South Australia’s Riverland by year’s end in a project the proponents describe as “the world’s biggest.

An observation.

”Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability”

2 Germany is set to introduce the world’s first zero-emission passenger train to be powered by hydrogen. It only emits steam.

3 For the time being the fight against changes to 18c has been won. I will now be able to continue writing freely as I have been doing without feeling the need to think up new ways to criticise people.

Against changing 18C – ALP, Greens political party, Nick Xenophon Team, Jacqui Lambie

For changing 18C – Government, One Nation, Derryn Hinch, David Leyonhjelm.

4 From the Labor Party email Newslette:

You’ll remember in Week Two of the election campaign there were raids on Labor in relation to the National Broadband Network. The raids happened after Labor had exposed the Turnbull Government’s incompetent handling of the NBN. This week the Senate inquiry into these raids and the materials which were seized found it was an “improper interference” with the functions of the Parliament. I’ve asked the Speaker how this will now be handled to prevent these issues coming up again in the future. He’ll be reporting back to the Reps when we return for the Budget.

5 Following on from my recent piece ”what’s happening in the bear pit?” I have to report that it’s getting worse. Take a look at this.

6 The Australian made a complete fool of itself when it tried to discredit new ACTU leader Sally Mc Manus.

The story was promoted by the Australian’s associate editor, Caroline Overington, on Twitter before an address by McManus at the National Press Club.

Reporters will asking @sallymcmanus tough questions about her resume when she appears at Press Club today:

Gutter reporting from the Murdoch press.

The Guardian has the story.

On this day in 2016 I wrote:

A Just when we thought Donald Trump couldn’t go any lower, he does.

Trump was asked by MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to define his “pro-life” stance and assertions that abortion should be banned.

”Do you believe in punishment for abortion – yes or no – as a principle?” asked Matthews, during the taping of a town hall event.

”The answer is there has to be some form of punishment,” said Trump.

”For the woman?” Matthews said.

”Yeah, there has to be some form,” Trump replied.

‘Ten cents, 10 years, what?’ Matthews asked again, pressing.

”That I don’t know,” said Trump.

B Billionaire retailer Gerry Harvey, the man who views the world through the prism of his own cash registers, reckons we need a two tier wage system where cheap labour is plentiful.

”Australia doesn’t have cheap labour. Many overseas workers would be prepared to move here for a much better life and half the money Australians earn … I’ve got horse studs and it’s difficult to get staff” he said.

C Conversely, I was reading the daily Morgan Report and would you believe the Fair Work Ombudsman did a nationwide investigation into the fast-food sector and found that nearly half (47 per cent) of 565 spot-checked employers have not been paying their staff correctly, with workers being paid as low as $6 per hour compared to the statutory minimum of $17.25 per hour.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s investigation found that in nearly one-third of cases, the flat hourly rate paid by the employer to its workers was not enough to cover hours attracting penalty rates and loadings, resulting in underpayments for which an employer could be ordered to compensate the underpaid worker, and fined for breach of the applicable Industrial Award.

Royal Commission, anyone?

My thought for the day.

“We are given the gift of foresight however, we choose to be reactive rather than proactive. Why is it so?”

PS: I think the only thing I have missed is Mark Latham’s manners, but I will give it a miss.

 

Day to Day Politics: Gutless Joe is back.

Joe Hockey, Australia’s Ambassador to the United States last Thursday gave a speech to the conservative Sydney Institute. In the cut and thrust of Australian politics it got lost in the noise of chaos.

It seems that after a short stint in the land of milk and honey, where truth has become a word lost to a once great language, he has become a believer in all things Trump.

The same shades of hue that cloud Trump speak, have like rust, invaded his mode of discourse.

He says that the Trump administration is a ”practical” administration and warns against ”constant criticism”. They are, he said, a “practical” and “credible” force that is finding its feet 70 days into its four-year term, and called for a halt to “constant” criticism of the White House.

Where on earth he gets this from is beyond me. The coverage I read consistently says that the White House is in utter chaos.

He went on to say that the Republican’s rise reflected a citizenry that felt “impotent” and heralded “the arrival of disruption into the mainstream of American politics”.

I would suggest that rather than being disruptive the good citizenry of the United States are simply raising their collective voices against a President who has proved himself the fool most thought he was. It has only taken him 74 days to do so. Surely by now Joe would have made himself aware of the inviolable 1st amendment.

When he said that the Trump administration was unorthodox but ”practicable” and  the critics should give Trump a fair go, he could have been talking about the Abbott/Turnbull when he was part of the confusion and disorder it created. It is not something foreign to him. Nor is the asking for a fair go.

He predicted, contrary to everything I have read that the failure to repeal Obamacare would not harm Trump.

I’m beginning to believe that the speech was written by a Trump staffer rather than an Australian.

“We need to avoid the temptation to become constant because it is not a carbon copy of the previous administrations.”

If an Australian had written it I feel sure the sentence would have been. We need to become constant critics of the new US administration …

Then he made the most incredibly inane statement when he praised Mr Trump’s “very credible cabinet”, which he said fulfilled an election commitment to “drain the swamp”.

Drained the swamp he might have but created a lake of multi-billionaires with no experience and a hatred for the policy portfolios they were to undertake. I bet Joe loves rubbing shoulders with this lot. What odds he comes back with a Greg Norman accent.

Of the President’s failure to repeal Barack Obama’s healthcare regime – his core election promise – would have “little negative impact” among Republican voters.

“It will be seen as a failure of the system and will reflect poorly on the already poorly regarded Congress.”

However, he warned “repeated failure does have a cost”, and “the goodwill and tolerance of your voter base can be the patient for only so long”.

On this he is probably correct but it was none the less a monumental failure that would have seen 25 million of America’s poorest left without health care.

He was more correct when he said that Mr Trump and his “America first” message was rooted in the global financial crisis and the long-term erosion of confidence in American institutions, Mr Hockey told the dinner. In Australia he would never acknowledge that one ever existed.

Quoting research from the Pew Research Centre which showed that  trust in the federal government had fallen from 73 per cent in 1958 to just 19 per cent in 2015. And that faith in other institutions had also collapsed.

He said that middle-income families had seen their assets halved in value since the GFC, this explained “why the strongman change-maker, Donald Trump, was so attractive to many Americans”

He made the point that educational attainment characterised “the new electoral divide” in the US. States with higher numbers of professional degree-holders were more likely to vote Democrat, and vice-versa.

“Regular citizens have become increasingly distant from their own governments, both geographically and often ideologically. They don’t trust institutions that they can’t directly influence.”

Again this is true and equally applies to us, but in Australia as Treasurer, he was instrumental in creating this divide between the haves and have-nots. He had no interest in equality or indeed, opportunity. Remember his 2014 budget.

An observation.

“For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education system is adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged”

It is one thing to identify the reasons for the alienation felt by voter’s worldwide but quite anther to give praise to a populist scumbag for taking advantage of it. I suppose as Ambassador one has to be circumspect about what one says within the US but when in Australia you can speak out with a dose of authenticity and not be altogether gutless. But then it was The Sydney Institute.

My thought for the day.

“It is far better to form your own your own independent opinions relative to your life experience and reason than to allow yourself to be blindly led by others”.