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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.

Say what you want, Murdoch. Exaggerate according to your own conscience.

Think television, newspapers, public speeches, movies, sport, news, advertising, entertainment, radio and above all, politics. Think about what you see, read and hear. Now think about the word “exaggeration.”

We have the best firefighters in the world, the best law enforcement agencies, the best health experts. We have “the best” of so many and so much it’s a wonder we aren’t the best in the world. Whoops, I’m sorry, we are the best in the world.

“We have the best people in the world looking at these issues,” said Scott Morrison on ABC Insiders last Sunday. He was referring to the problem of obtaining vaccines.

For me, l must say that l find all the exaggeration rather appalling and unnecessary. It is lying dressed in the clothes of fools.

It means an overstatement of the truth, stating something out of proportion to the facts. To embellish or guild the lily.

The temptation in death is to make someone out to be someone they were not, for example, “The duke was an exceptional human being.”

It is said of pornography (and I am not an expert in this field) that in order to maintain the viewers or readers interest, it needs to progressively become more outlandish – more tantalising – more seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning -more enticing- more exaggerated.

And in their desire to maintain some dominance, that’s precisely what Murdoch media does. It has chosen to prostitute itself in the forlorn hope of remaining relevant.

And the weapon of choice is exaggeration.

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

The original intent of free speech was to give the oppressed a voice and keep governments honest. However, in Australia, exaggeration is used to incite racism, validate hatred, and promote religious and political bigotry.

Nowhere do you find a greater use of exaggeration than in Murdoch’s media.

We can start with Andrew Bolt:

“Sky News host Andrew Bolt said Australian politicians simply ‘don’t have the courage’ to admit the ‘coronavirus crisis was exaggerated’ in the country. “

Andrew Markus in The Conversationrightly pointed out that:

“A feature of far-right movements was characterised in the 1960s by the American political scientist Richard Hofstadter as the “paranoid style“: a style of mind that … evokes a sense of heated exaggeration, suspiciousness, and conspiratorial fantasy.”

And an example of the media masters from Lenore Taylor in The Guardian:

“Abbott government’s zeal for political hyperbole (exaggeration) makes facts dispensable.”

Therefore, if a newspaper article is written in a manner to suggest objectivity, but subjective words are scattered throughout it together with carefully phrased unsupported statements, then dismiss the article as having no cogency.

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

I believed that Americans were the only people in the world who thought their bullshit didn’t stink, but we are now their equal.

Sometimes it is good to stop, think, evaluate and formulate one’s own opinion instead of being influenced by the Murdoch press.

Exaggerated lying has seen the birth and rise of the far right-wing; it has given license to politicians whose goal is to:

“… incite discontent and xenophobia… it has shown contempt for concepts such as truth, morality and ethics – they have been replaced by religiosity and ideology; hypocrisy in personal lives, masked by the propaganda of ‘family values’ and ‘traditional marriage.’ Just how has Australia benefited from so many lies, lies and more lies.”

My thought for the day

It is a pity that fact in journalism cannot be made compulsory and decency legislated.

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An idealist’s view of a democratic society

In this short series, I canvassed the notion that our democracy is badly in need of repair. I said that it required a grease and oil change. Some disagreed, saying that we didn’t have a democracy to begin with. In my second piece, I laid out some of the things that might give the old engine a fresh start.

Now it is time to disclose my view on what sort of a society would shelter under a repaired democracy.

We must ask ourselves if we are content with the selfish, self-interested dog eat dog individualistic, stuff my neighbour, greed is good society we have now or can we dare for the want of something superior. You may find my ideas a touch idealistically romantic, even simplistic, but that’s where I position myself as I write.

My society is a collection of people who desire to express themselves in every human endeavour: A collective who has aspirations to conduct their humanity, work, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry and play with the richest possible diversity and at the very centre of their being.

My society would have empathy instilled in their learning – the common good would be at the centre of their politics regardless of ideology.

This common good with equality of opportunity for both male and female would be enshrined in its constitution.

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

A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon one’s character. In my community, the colour of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth.

My society advances the individual’s right to pursue whatever desires he/she has, including the pursuit of wealth, which would only be regulated by the principles of the collective common good. In other words, everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

In my democratic society, people would be guaranteed freedom of expression, including the right to disagree but reminded that debate is not necessarily about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purest form, it is simply the art of persuasion.

An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate one’s right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

The health and welfare of all would be at the forefront of its common good philosophy. Sacrosanct for all and access to treatment would be assured.

Most importantly, the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us would be memorable in every citizen’s mind.

My society would have a healthy respect for science over myth and mysticism but simultaneously recognise that each individual has a right to express their spirituality in their way so long as it doesn’t corrupt the aspirations of ‘commongoodism‘.

My society would be judged by its welcoming and its treatment for its most vulnerable citizens, including the aged, the homeless, the poor, and those seeking asylum.

Accessibility to the law, regardless of stature or wealth, would be available to everyone.

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

My ideal society would acknowledge that a group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality.

In democratic societies (the best – or least bad form of government), our herding instincts are realised by the election of leaders who form the government.

A fitness to serve stipulation would seek a clause in our constitution to as much as possible guarantee that the most gifted serve in our parliament.

Individual or collective ambition can only be achieved within a social structure built and controlled by a sympathetic government.

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

If we are to live in a democracy, then it is the government that decides and regulates society’s progress and ambitions or provides the environment to do so. Therefore, every parliamentarian must abide by the principles of a constitution supported by the people and a bill of rights under a newly formed republic.

In reality, very little is done in the name of progress that cannot be credited in some way to the government.

Those of you who follow my daily political mutterings will probably know that, first and foremost, I am passionate about thwarting the decline in our democracy and the corruption that accompanies it.

Amid the angry voices intent on doing over one’s opponent, there must be people who have a genuine desire to change our democracy. There has never been a better opportunity than now.

My thought for the day

We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the government, the media, and self-interest groups.

 

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Our Democracy: What needs to be fixed and why

In my last piece; “Our Democracy is a work in progress for Social Progressives” I talked about the decline in our Australian democracy and who was responsible. The comments on my post ranged from “we don’t have a democracy” to “it is beyond repair.”

In that piece I had asked:

“Suppose you are, as I am, a socially progressive democrat: You are sick to death of the destruction that male conservatives in Australia and abroad have done to democracy. Their acquisition of the techniques of narcissism, sexism, intolerance, racism and lying as political tools for purchasing power or its retention has to be regretted.”

Now I would like to move onto what needs to be fixed.

1 The constant gibberish that is uttered by proponents of the mantra that small government and markets will save us has been demonstrably proven to be laughable.

2 The 40-year experiment of Neo-Libertarian Economics has got to an end, and that end should be now.

What does a business do whenever a crisis hits? They yell for the Government to bail them out! The time has come to acknowledge that Government has a central role in how a country runs; there can be no shirking that responsibility.

If the Government made a bold strategy and increased the Public Service and delivered more services then the knock-on effect of that would be enormous, and given the state of our public services, you can’t tell me that it wouldn’t have a positive impact on the economy.

3 Our Constitution should be open to constant oversight by a group of retired judges who would form a standing committee that could recommend any changes to both the government and the opposition.

For example, they might recommend our First Nations people be rightly recognised in our Constitution with a unique preamble.

To overcome partisanship, the committee could put its recommendations to the people in the form of a referendum at the next election.

4Bill of rights:

“A statutory Bill of Rights would encourage Australia to become a more rights-focused society. In such a society, people would be more likely to learn about and rely upon the rights to which they are entitled, and, as a result, the Government would face more pressure to uphold them.”

5 The Common Good: 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 its people is currently trapped in a quagmire of indifference.

As corrupt as it is, the current Government controls everything you do by way of the law, political, economic, cultural, religious, and social activities. A 10-point list (as a suggestion) of common-good caveats should be attached to every policy, and legislation must meet these standards.

I am not a political scientist, historian or a trained journalist. However, putting any perceived left-wing allegiance aside for a moment, it seems to me that the Labor Party needs to rid itself of outdated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead. They need to recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.

6 Pre-Selection: Both major 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 are lawyers or from the union movement for example. Or in the case of the LNP, staffers who have come up through the party. Parties should be comprised of 50% each man and women. Only when suitably qualified people are unavailable could one of the opposites be considered.

The major parties have become fragmented, with Labor losing a large segment of its supporters to the Greens because they are not left enough. At the same time, the LNP is undermined by wealthy populists like Clive Palmer using Trump-style politics.

Party hacks of dubious intellectual talent represent both parties without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience in terms of talent.

7 The Peoples’ Parliament: Since the election of Tony Abbott the Coalition has trashed our Parliament, its institutions and conventions that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Recent sexual revelations of rape and orgies suggest it resembles a place of ill repute than a place of debate and decision.

8 Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds who cannot 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 other’s 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 Parliament’s showcase and badly needs 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 and Royal Commissions, all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. There is no reason to doubt that the stench of recent corruption meanders its way through the National Parliament’s corridors and into the highest offices.

It now weaves its way into all sections of society, including unions, business, religion and politics.

9 Leadership: 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 we lost it in a recipe of ill-concocted power struggles, undignified self-interest and narcissistic personality.

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

10 Our voting system is badly in need of an overhaul. When one party, the Greens, attracts nearly as many 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.

11 The purpose of the Media: One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without simultaneously aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and conversion from reporting to opinion-making.

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.

12 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 grassroots 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 political gutter 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 proper democratic illumination.

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

13 A republic with an Australian as our head of state is essential in a modern democracy.

14 The representation of women in our Parliament must be addressed. More so by the right than the left.

15 A Federal ICAC: It goes without saying that politicians have brought this on themselves. In a decent democratic society, it would not be necessary. Another idea is to amend the Criminal Code to allow the operation of “common law offence of misconduct in public office.”

16 Political donations reforms:

“Limiting the amount of money parties can spend during an election campaign would reduce the ‘arms race’ for donations. If parties had less incentive to sell access to donors, senior politicians would have more time to do their jobs instead of chasing dollars.”

17 The election cycle: There is not enough time between elections to debate new ideas in a three-year electoral process and put in the necessary work for democratic reforms. A rethink of 4-year terms is essential.

* * * * * *

Three final things 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 believed that the effect of lying diminished 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 at least devalued it to the point of obsolesce.

The 2014 budget will be remembered for one thing. That being that it approved 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‘.”

Australians need to take more care when electing their leaders. Before doing so, we need to question their character, integrity, trustworthiness and leadership qualities.

In Australian political history, Abbott’s legacy will be that he empowered a period emblematic of a nasty and ugly period in our politics. It continued and worsened under the hypocrisy of Turnbull, and now with the dictatorship of Morrison.

Secondly, 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 the decline in our democracy with unmistakable anger.

People need to wake up because the Government affects every part of their life (other than what they do in bed – though who knows – that could also change one day) and should be more concerned. But there is a deep-seated political malaise.

We must make those politicians who have participated in the wilful destruction of our democracy pay for it.

Good democracies can deliver good governments and outcomes” only if the electorate demands it. “You get what you vote for” rings true.

Lastly, but most importantly, we need to educate our final year school leavers (the voters of tomorrow) with indebtedness and a fundamental appreciation of our democracy and what it means.

In conclusion, allow me to quote Mark Latham:

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

Next time: What is an ideal progressive democratic society?

My thought for the day

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

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Our Democracy is a work in progress for Social Progressives

As a reader of The AIMN, you probably fit the profile of a centre to centre-left person more interested in politics than the average Joe Blow. That being the case, you are given over to thinking about how our politics affects not only you but all those who live within our democracy.

This point of this – and my forthcoming article – is that after the dreadfulness of COVID-19 has left us, we would examine what ideas and opportunities will present themselves toward a better system of governance.

If you think our system of governance doesn’t require a makeover, please don’t read any further.

Suppose you are, as I am, a socially progressive democrat: You are sick to death of the destruction that male conservatives in Australia and abroad have done to democracy. Their acquisition of the techniques of narcissism, sexism, intolerance, racism and lying as political tools for purchasing power or its retention has to be regretted.

In that case, you will understand that, in principle, democracy is a political system where like-minded people come together to form ideas that become a philosophy. In the main, they are male dominated, although the opportunity to lesson this burden that democracy carries is upon us.

They then become the foundation of political parties. These ideologies contain many different variants, and more empathise is often accorded one variant to another. Some beliefs are more extreme than others.

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

Democracy is far from a perfect system, but it is elastically flexible, unpredictable, and at its worst, violent and highly combative. Our Australian democracy at its best is noble, constructive and generally serves society well. However, after eight years of conservatism, it is undoubtedly in need of a grease and oil change.

That it is superior to the next best thing remains unchallenged. It not only accommodates diagonally opposed ideas but actively encourages them.

All in all, democracy has served us well. In its purest form, it is known as a government for the people by the people.

Common to most Western democracies (and in the absence of anything better), it has an unregulated capitalistic economic system.

In Australia, the right to vote is the gift that democracy gives. We do not, however, vote for who should be the Prime Minister.

The people are free to vote for whichever party (or individual in their electorate) they support. Overriding this, of course, is the fact that people cannot possibly believe in democracy and at the same time think that their party is the only one that should ever win.

A clear indication of an Australian democracy in decline is that people are giving up this voting gift, literally saying: “A pox on both your houses.” In the 2019 Federal Election almost 9 per cent of eligible voters elected not to participate in their democratic right.

Our political system is in crisis because our solicitations fail to clarify issues that concern people.

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

Moreover, an enlightened democracy should involve the people with purposeful participation. Not just ask them to sit in judgement every three years.

We can see the evidence of our democracy in crisis in the quality of those we elect. Kelly, Laming, Christensen, Porter, Taylor, Tudge, Joyce and others should never pass pre-selection. That so few women are elected to Parliament is a travesty and needs to be fixed. The quality and character of leadership have also been so poor that the government has seemed almost indolent and a serious concern.

Any system of government that primarily exists for self-interest or to serve secular interests. One that is overly influenced by an elite of business leaders, religious leaders, politicians and media interests who have the power to enforce their version of the democratic process is not a democracy. It is fundamentally anti-democratic.

Conservatives worldwide have gone down the path of inequality with a born-to-rule mentality favouring the rich.

These words Tim Dunlop’s article from 2014; “The right hates the society it has created” still resonate today:

“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 circumstances.”

Over the past eight years, conservatives in Australia have wrecked institutions and conventions that have existed for many years. So bad has their governance been that it would be best described as some variance of Fascism where big business, supportive media and religion dominate our everyday lives.

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

It has to change before we sink in a quagmire of American Tea Party Republicanism.

Next time: What needs to be fixed.

My thought for the day

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


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“It was as clear as mud, and it covered the ground, and the confusion made me brain go round”

Watching Question Time Monday, June 22, I was reminded of the old Harry Belefonte lyrics to the song; “Man Piaba“.

The song tells the story of a boy who is confused about growing up.

And so it was when the Prime Minister of Australia stood before the parliament with its assembled MPs and said:

“I have been very clear with this house.”

It was followed by laughs of mischievous intent from the opposition.

Scott Morrison, true to form, had not shown the slightest bit of clarity at all. It was as clear as mud. A look of defiance descended upon his lie beaten brow.

When Labor asked him to update the House as to the progress of a report he had commissioned by the head of his department, Phil Gaetjens, he looked like a man ready for an unnecessary war.

He is a man much used to lying, but this time he couldn’t seem to drag one from the closet, so he sought out the cousin to the lie, confusion.

In the muck-ridden conservative party formerly called the Liberal Party, there were once people of integrity. Or people who would let scandal pass through the sewer of their internal problems but always stop before it got beyond their conscience. Only a few remain.

Before I go on, I must tell you that my wife interrupted my writing to say that Morrison was on the television. It was last Tuesday at about 10am. A press conference of importance was taking place. Because of our natures, my wife and I are suckers for tears of sad moments, regrets, or mistakes well worn.

Morrison was pouring it on, and the tears were welling in our eyes. When it became apparent that he was answering the criticism of his handling of the accusations of rape over the past month and that this press conference was actually more about him than the scandals themselves, we quietly put the tissues aside.

He was so used to confusing people every time he gave a press conference that he breezed through most of the questions. Then when confronted with a fair dinkum question fromSky News journalist Andrew Clennell alluding to an employer of theirs “dealing with a person who has made a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman in a women’s toilet”, the dog was out of the kennel. The attack dog was back.

The following day the media was full of apologies from the Prime Minister with regrets that he had even raised the matter. The presser was really about two sides of the Prime Minister’s personality. The front end was just sanctimonious bullshit about how he was listening; he heard all the problems women have living in a society that treated them so pathetically.

The problem was that he gave so much time to listen that there was little left over to pursue answers. He had none.

The back end saw the return of the Morrison we know so well. The know-all, the snake oil salesman untrustworthy liar, prepared to do or say anything that would progress his cause.

Later in the day, on Facebook, he apologised.

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

Remember the date because a short time after Higgins had come forward with her allegation that she had been raped in Parliament House by a colleague on February 19, varying views had emerged as to who knew what and when.

Now let’s move on. On February 12, Morrison has identified Fiona Brown as the one who had first heard of the allegation. This is after news.com.au submitted a series of questions to the office about the events of March 2019.

This statement was incorrect and can be proven so. Fiona Brown, a member of Morrison’s staff, was all over it. Why? Well, “she managed the fallout while employed as chief of staff to Linda Reynolds.”

She was also employed by Morrison before she worked for Reynolds. Then she returned to the prime minister’s office after the 2019 election.

Clear as mud, isn’t it?

It seems evident that Brown (now a Morrison Staffer) knew what had happened, which also suggests that others could have learned about it in the manner of human gossip.

It was revealed byGuardian Australia that:

“… another senior Morrison staffer had been in the office of the special minister of state at the time the man alleged to have raped Higgins left the government.”

Brittany Higgins also remembered an approach via WhatsApp from Yaron Finkelstein, one of Morrison’s senior political advisers. A “how is it all going call?”

It was about the Four Corners program exploring workplace culture at parliament that had aired in 2020.

With all the goings-on:

“Morrison asked Gaetjens to get to the bottom of what had gone on. But then the investigation seemed to fall into a black hole.”

With their ears, pricked Labor began to ask questions.

One month bled into the next. Morrison gave no indication of when the report would be tabled. No information was forthcoming at all. Morrison had not given any indication that it had been “paused”.

Following on from that, The Guardianreported that:

“Gaetjens told Senate estimates on Monday he had “paused” his investigation after advice from the Australian federal police commissioner Reece Kershaw on March 9. Kershaw wanted a “clean corridor” for a criminal investigation into the rape allegation.

Disconcertingly, the deliberation accounts in early March between Gaetjens and Kershaw (who was in another estimates committee on Monday morning) didn’t align entirely on the first telling. But Kershaw later issued a clarifying statement confirming that pausing the inquiry had been his “strong” advice to Gaetjens.

Gaetjens duly paused his efforts, and says he conveyed the decision to hold off to the prime minister’s office and to Morrison himself shortly after.”

So this is where we are at now?

After many questions to the Prime Minister regarding Gaetjens investigation, the prime minister (according to Gaetjens in Estimates) was fully aware the inquiry was on hold.

But instead of being transparent, instead of just telling it like it was, Morrison continued to deceive.

In response to Labor’s questions, Morrison said Gaetjens:

“… has not provided me with a further update about when I might expect that report.”

It is a mystery why Morrison would risk being accused of misleading the Parliament when Gaetjens had already given him an update about the timeline for reporting.

“Gaetjens had told him, implicitly, that he wouldn’t be reporting soon because Kershaw needed “a clean corridor” for the criminal investigation.”

Gaetjens is undoubtedly the most influential public servant in Canberra, and as such, it is unusual for him to appear before Senate hearings.

When one compares the evidence of Gaetjens before Senate Estimates and the statements Morrison has made in the House, one can reasonably, I think, conclude that Morrison was misleading the House.

By playing this silly game of one-upmanship, all the Prime Minister achieved was to make himself look mischievous.

Katherine Murphy writing in The Guardian, got it right when she wrote that all he had to say was:

“I am aware there has been a development, but I can’t convey it to the house in detail for probity reasons, but Gaetjens will advise you about that either through his own channels or at Senate estimates next week, as is proper.”

Was he just being a smart arse?

He must have known that at some point in time that he would have to reconcile the contradictions between what he was saying in the house and what Gaetjens was telling the Senate Estimates.

The wash-up now is that he has made himself look guilty and his party seem amateurish. Whether he likes it or not, Prime Ministers are elected to lead, not tell lies or avoid answering questions. If I were him, trying to swim my way out of the shit he has created for himself, I would want to appear as clean as a surgeon’s hands.

Did he mislead the house? Well, it certainly looks that way.

My thought for the day

Do you shape the truth for the sake of a good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you simply use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always a pain in truth, but there is no harm in it.

In breaking news, Brittany Higgins has formally lodged a complaint with the Prime Minister’s Department regarding backgrounding on her partner David Shiraz and family members.

The Prime Minister said he couldn’t comment because nobody had made an official complaint.

Now he has one.

A final word

I may be guilty of oversimplification here, but why on earth should there be a need for legislation that outlines rules and regulations pertaining to men’s behaviour when all that is required of them is that they demonstrate some excellent old-fashioned manliness.

 

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All we have in the government is a shambolic gaggle of incompetent, unedifying politicians

1 This Government is devoid of wit, humour, words of intelligence and those with the eloquence and debating skills to give them meaning. Mainly it embraces a maleness that believes in conflict as a means of political supremacy over and above the pursuit of excellence in Government.

That is my view of this obnoxious Government.

2 Without so much as a whimper, the Government has caved in on its proposed Industrial Relations Reforms. Labor’s Tony Burke called it pure spite.

The Federal Government will not commit to keeping its industrial relations changes even though it had the numbers to pass the legislation.

The (on sick leave) Attorney-General Christian Porter, after countless hours of consultations with employers and unions, had proposed five major reforms but ended with only a fragment of what he wanted.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation and Centre Alliance senators stepped in to help the Government get through a measure providing a more straightforward pathway for casual employees to convert to permanent jobs.

In a fit of anger, measures to crack down on wage theft by employers that had the support of all the Parliament were also dropped.

In my view, it is no tenable for an alleged rapist to remain in the job of Attorney General.

3 A few years back, Christopher Pyne said:

“Our reforms will make Parliamentary Question Time more concise and ensure Ministers are held to account and remain relevant to questions asked.

We will look to strengthen the definition of ‘relevance’ in the standing orders so Ministers must stay directly relevant to questions and ensure Matter of Public Importance debates follow Question Time.”

There is no requirement for relevance at all. And without it, Ministers cannot be held to account.

Without civility, a reasoned debate cannot take place.

All we have at the moment is a shambolic gaggle of incompetent, unedifying politicians not in the least interested in enhancing our democracy.

It has degenerated to the point of being obsolete. It needs to be given the flick and rethought.

What a ludicrous load of nonsense, Mr Speaker.

4Australia reports quarterly population decline for first time since 1980s,” read the headline. Not since quarterly population data was first collected in 1981 has Australia’s total population fallen until now.

Ross Greenwood (Editor of Sky News business) said:

“… while the current low population growth rates should be “bad news”, he expects the Government will allow the populations to grow “quite rapidly” once international borders reopen.”

The Government needs to give this urgent attention.

5 Sports Rorts scandal returned to the headlines this week with the Senate reporting that the Labor-controlled Upper House Committee, chaired by Anthony Chilsom concluded that:

“The evidence available to the committee indicates clearly the prime minister’s office, and likely the prime minister were aware of the use of electorate information to identify projects in marginal and targeted electorates well before the first grant recipient was announced.”

It also concluded that there was ample evidence to suggest that the Prime Minister was involved in the selection, although Coalition Senators disagreed.

Bridget McKenzie, in evidence, said that an unnamed staffer had made the $100m late changes during the caretaker period before the 2019 election.

Just one of many stains on the Coalition’s governance.

6 What do you think when thirty-four of Australia’s largest companies claimed JobKeeper wage subsidies in 2020 despite having improved their earnings on pre-pandemic levels, pocketing a total of $284m?

Here is one example from Kaye Lee. It is about Gerry Harvey, who I have said before only sees the world through the prism of his cash registers.

“In February, Harvey Norman reported that first-half sales climbed 25% and contributed to a net profit after tax of $462.03m for the last six months of 2020 – up 116% on the same time period in the previous year.

The retailer said it would pay dividends totalling $249m, of which Gerry Harvey is set to receive $78m due to his 31.4% shareholding in the company.

Despite this, they declined to pay back the estimated $22 million they somehow collected for JobKeeper, a payment they should never have qualified to receive.”

I have some questions: 1) Should they keep your money? 2) Should they be made to give your money back to you?

Scandalous, I should think, but our PM seems to think its perfectly okay.

7 An article in Central News also caught my eye during the week: “Leigh Sales asks why the powerful who abuse our trust keep getting away with it.”

She was being interviewed at a writer’s festival when she decided to let it rip on those who would destroy our democracy. Anyway, rather than quote a powerful read from start to finish, I urge you to read it on this link.

I suppose it’s the same as what I do every time my fingers hit the keys. In my 8th year now writing for The AIMN and I wonder at times just what effect my attempts at exposing these influential people has. It, at times, can be very dispiriting.

A Labor of love.

8 Is it just semantics (the meaning of a word)? It now seems powerful conservatives have convinced ASIO to delete “right-wing” from its description of rising right-wing terrorism.

We wouldn’t want to give it a bad name, now would we?

9 The Prime Minister, when confronted with a crisis, seems to harden himself. Australia’s most powerful man is waiting and calculating. There is no empathy shown. He is ruthless when he deems it necessary. His Christian teaching is forgotten.

What he wants to find out is this: is the Australian “Me too” movement just a flash in the pan, or does it have lasting credibility?

If it does, then both Linda Reynolds and Christian Porter will have to go. If it is just a passing thing, as the polls seem to suggest, then one or both might survive.

The Australian character’s malaise often seems to resolve these matters; however, to help the Government navigate the most significant political crisis they’ve faced, Morrison needs all the information he can gather. Then he will decide if the bar is too high to jump.

To think that we need to tell men how to behave decently when it is something their parents should have taught them as children.

10 The Government continued to play “Self-congratulations” with last week’s unemployment figures; however, the demise of JobKeeper will shoot unemployment through the roof. The Government is about job creation.

If it doesn’t happen, then don’t blame us. Blame Labor.

My thought for the day

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

PS The next National Press Club debate will take place tomorrow.

Big swinging chicks Vs Big swinging dicks

“An App as a solution for rape.”

Ladies are asked to bring a plate.

And please obey the rules.

Debate is not of necessity about winning or taking down ones opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purist form it is simply the art of persuasion.

 

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What is it like being interviewed by David Speers? Ask the Deputy Prime Minister.

On Friday of last week, I informed my wife that Michael McCormack would be the guest on ABC Insiders the coming Sunday. “Speers will have him for breakfast,” she answered with a touch of humour. And so it was.

A giggling Laura Tingle confirmed my wife’s answer after the interview while the two other panel members just managed to contain themselves. On the one hand, it was hilarious. On the other, it was a strategy that a man so unqualified for leadership was the Deputy Prime Minister of Australia.

Speers managed to quickly bring things back to order, but I have to say that the interview reminded me of a boy who had an appointment with the headmaster late one Friday afternoon and had prepared for it all week. Then when the time came, he forgot everything he was going to say.

When the head asked him questions, instead of appearing calm and confident, he seemed to give answers that belonged to other questions. Instead of appearing sure of himself, he looked like an overconfident bad actor – “gotcha then, Speersy.”

When asked questions that required an authoritative answer, he looked puzzled, even self-congratulatory at his own brilliance. I thought he could do with a manager because he had been handling himself too long.

At a time in world history when the quality of our leadership might determine our part in it, this interview would sadly tell you just how out of touch our leadership is.

He was to say:

“I’ve already got commitments that I will meet, and I believe if you make commitments, then you should stick to those.”

That this moronic individual would say in answer to a question about the protest of women outside Parliament House (Monday 15 March) and how they are treated is beyond belief.

“I appreciate that this is an important issue and I understand, part of democracy, that people have their right to march and protest and of course any submission or thing that they want to take forward. I know that Marise Payne who is the minister for the status of women has said she will take the submissions.”

That the Deputy Prime Minister would place his daily appointments above female constituents’ interests with grave concerns about their treatment generally and in Parliament House particularly showed incredible arrogance.

His dedication to his appointments was met in the Parliament’s passageways by an unexpected one with Janine Hendry, organiser of the March for Justice Australia.

She played him around her little finger until he looked like a puppy in search of a scratch behind the ears, then he drifted away without a whimper. “I might be able to spare 10 minutes,” he softly told her.

Just because clowns govern us, it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.

Had the Prime Minister followed by his ministry joined the throng of women outside the House, he would have made a symbolic gesture toward their cause and shown that the government at least had their ear. Instead, it was another “Know your place” moment with a directive to come to the office if you want to talk.

He is never one to display any emotion. Even his chat to his wife about rape came over as insincere. The point being that during this crisis and others never does he display any humanity. He is always the iron-fisted leader in damage control with no words of that convey a feeling that he actually cares.

Meanwhile, MPs were assembling for Question Time, and what followed was insulting to the women of our nation who were trying to gain some equality with the opposite sex.

Question time in the Australian Parliament is just an excuse for mediocre minds who are unable to debate with intellect, charm or wit, to act deplorably toward each other. And in doing so debase the Parliament and themselves as moronic imbecilic individuals.

Dorothy Dixers flowed from the government designed to show that they were working enthusiastically to improve their lot in society, and defend a Prime Minister who was making a fool of himself.

That they wanted an inquiry into Christian Porter’s suitability to be the highest law officer of the land was indisputable.

Morrison, intent on playing a strong hand, has so far refused to entertain holding an independent inquiry into Porter’s fitness to remain in the cabinet.

With his usual male stridency, he declared it would severely impact “the rule of law”, a claim rejected by senior lawyers. Then with his typical tough veneer, he refused a chat with the solicitor general for any advice on the matter.

Mr Morrison, we are still waiting for that Christian compassion and loving kindness you promised in your maiden speech to Parliament.

The women of Australia are sick to death (pardon my phrase) of meetings, inquiries, reports and typical conservative reluctance to change. They need no more. If the government cannot cope with their needs, it should get out and give Labor ago.

While the Bible sees them as unequal to men, you should put that aside and govern for all community members.

Goodness, if we can have a Royal Commission into the Kitchen Reno of former Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s house, we can indeed inquire into Christian Porter’s trustworthiness.

But back to Mr Morrison, who showed poor form in Question Time yesterday:

“Mr Morrison said it was “right and good” that people were able to congregate in peaceful protests as tens of thousands gathered to demand action against gendered violence in Australia… “Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker,” he said.”

What a truly disgusting thing to say.

That Labor is also represented in these injustices against women who work in Parliament House comes as no surprise, nor would it in general society.

That we have Michael McCormack, Deputy Prime Minister – who was quoted in an article in his local newspaper expressing his hatred of gays – in a position of power where he can help shape the nation’s cultural discourse is a disgrace.

My thought for the day

Moving forward in the dark, with only the soft glow of an idea, takes courage. Do you have it?

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Culture is but a reflection of the society our politicians create

If you are of adult age, do you ever ask yourself if the society you live in is better than the one you grew up in? At my vintage, I would have to say yes, but then I have the advantage of longevity, meaning my answer to the question can be measured over a long period.

In a material sense, everything is better. Public transport is better than what I used as an adult. The sporting facilities are better. Homes are built better. Everything would seem to be better. Our roads are. Airline services are much improved. More Australians travel the world than ever before.

Our motor vehicles are so advanced that they will soon drive for you. Sanitation has dramatically improved since I was a lad. A sudden rush in the advancement of technology has created a more affluent society. Health care has remarkably improved, as has education. The internet has changed the way we live, think, and communicate.

Science has extended my lifespan with the most staggering achievements, and they are embraced, recognised and enjoyed by all sections of society. On average, we even live longer.

Yes, as I say “materially,” Australia is a better place.

So how are we doing as a society? All the inquiries and Royal Commissions connected to us as a society would suggest something is drastically wrong. The Royal Commission into Banking revealed a culture of greed within several Australian financial institutions that financially ruined thousands of ordinary people. Of the commissioners’ many recommendations, not much has been done.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care told us that Australia’s quality and safety were substandard. It is said that thousands have died.

The abuse of children by the church that had been going on for decades. Child detention is a scandal. Many have committed suicide because of both of these.

Domestic violence and the rape of women occurs every week. “Violence, Abuse, Neglect and Exploitation of People with Disability is rife” and Aboriginal deaths in custody continue unabated today.

We are one of the most technological nations on earth. However, in terms of social progress on matters of great moral importance, we are backwards in our thinking.

The term “authoritarian populism” is often associated with far-right conservative parties; it has also been used to describe the Abbott, Turnbull, and Morrison governments. They are people with their own elite special interests who govern for those who have. They project an authoritarian way in which they manage government together with a “know your place” attitude. They also exhibit a “we know what’s best for you” perspective in their leadership and policymaking.

It is said that thousands have died from the Robodebt fiasco and many more in aged care.

In terms of policy decisions, the sports rorts affair has created inequality. The Government’s unashamed bias toward private schools creates a class society and inequality in education.

Allowing political donations creates an unfair playing field. The buying of land at bargain prices that filter back to donors is corruption at its worst.

Morrison’s slogan: “A fair go for those who have a go” implies that some welfare recipients didn’t deserve the benefits they were getting.

Morrison’s authoritarian packed punitive policy plan has blossomed since the election.

The constant deliberate attempts to lower the wages is nothing more than an effort by the Government to reduce the standard of living for ordinary workers and should be combatted with whatever means available.

I concede that Australia is an excellent place in which to live. We are doing well by many economic measures, but while many have disproportionally benefited from our decades of growth, our poverty levels have also risen. There are those who have and those who have not.

We have more millionaires than ever before, but we are literally going backwards on the side that we might call social progress. Progress, as such, is no longer used as a term to describe social change.

Does the average citizen experience equality? Are they punished if they don’t conform to the recent economic models?

Have our First Nations People benefited from our new prosperity? Recent data on social inclusion show visible flaws in our social cohesion and assimilation.

Some key facts on wealth inequality:

These figures from ACOSS show that income and wealth inequality in Australia were rising before COVID-19.

  • “Average wealth is relatively high and now exceeds $1 million for the first time ($1,026,000). Of this, 39 per cent is the main home, 21 per cent is superannuation, 20 per cent is shares and other financial assets, 12 per cent is investment real estate, and 9 per cent is other non-financial assets such as cars.
  • However, wealth is distributed extremely unequally. The average wealth of the highest 20 per cent of wealth-holders is $3,255,000 – over 90 times the wealth of the lowest 20 per cent (with just $36,000).
  • The wealthiest 20 per cent hold almost two-thirds of all household wealth (64 per cent), more than all other households combined.
  • From 2003 to 2017, the average wealth of the highest 20 per cent grew by 68 per cent compared with 6 per cent for the lowest 20 per cent. This divergence has been driven by the asset types held by the top 20 per cent: investment property, superannuation and shares. Eighty per cent of financial assets like shares and property investment are held by the highest 20 per cent of wealth-holders.
  • At the bottom of the wealth ladder, the most valuable asset holdings of the lowest 20 per cent are ‘other non-financial assets’ such as cars (48 per cent of their wealth holdings) and superannuation (38 per cent). At the top of the ladder, the wealthiest 20 per cent hold relatively less of their wealth in the main home (34 per cent) than those in the middle, and more of it in shares and other financial investments (26 per cent) and investment property (15 per cent).
  • The average superannuation wealth of the highest 20 per cent is $496,000 – nine times that of the lowest 20 per cent ($58,000). The top 20 per cent hold 60 per cent of the value of superannuation holdings.”

What statistics never show, however, is that we live in a failed system. Capitalism does not allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system, a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience, and almost all others are doomed to be poor at some level.

What conservatives have never achieved is a satisfactory marriage between our economics and our social progress.

Capitalism has failed because it has no understanding of society.

Culturally, our society has become a herd of self-loving narcissistic animals who want everything without questioning if they need it. Children have no idea of the difference between manners and civility. Possessions equate to materialism, so they are good for us.

Economic success, if used wisely, can benefit social progress, but if used only to benefit those who have, then it is useless. It can improve the wellbeing of a country only if it increases equality of opportunity and equality generally.

There is a growing awareness among thinkers “that economics alone” doesn’t measure a country’s success. Many thoughtful observers have highlighted the “limits of economic success as a proxy for wellbeing.”

In Australia, we have a government that measures social progress entirely on the success or otherwise of its economic policies.

Our moral landscape still occupies the darkness of unemployment, inequality and economic unfairness.

All our thinking on wellbeing, intellectual enlightenment and moral fairness has not advanced any understanding of the purpose in our being or the reason for our existence. Or, indeed, knowing the difference.

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

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Both must go, or Morrison will pay the price for eight years of scandals

It is true that in lawChristian Porter has no case to answer. To be brutally honest, it is now non-existent.

The criminal case against Porter is not weak. It is now non-existent. The complainant has not made a police statement, cannot be interviewed as she has died, the alleged offender has denied the allegation; there is no forensic evidence, no witnesses, no crime scene and no CCTV.

Having no case to answer, and as a consequence, is what Scott Morrison will use as his defence of the man.

He will say that there is nothing of substance to put to him. All of this is correct and irrefutable, but even in Scott Morrison’s saying there was no need for an inquiry, public opinion for one remains full of anger.

Morrison was well supported by The Australian, who in last Saturday’s online edition led Porter’s defence with no less than five headline articles on its front page.

“Rape stalemate threat to PM’s agenda”

“Unreconcilable teenage memories”

” ‘Get Porter’ a media disgrace”

“Grotesque political saga ignores principles of justice”

“The pile-on over Christian Porter will prove to be the defining test of Scott Morrison”

(All of these articles are paywalled).

In contrast, a first-blush view suggests the following media outlets support an enquiry into Christian Porter’s fitness to remain as Attorney General:

Porter is another example of the government’s method of scandal management, Crikey

AWL HAS WRITTEN TO THE PRIME MINISTER TO REGISTER ITS CONCERNS ABOUT THE ALLEGED CONDUCT OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL, Australian Women Lawyers

Has Christian Porter been subjected to a ‘trial by media’? No, the media did its job of being a watchdog, Pearls and Irritations

The week that will never go away, The AIMN

If he did it
‘Just imagine for a second…’, The Monthly

Morrison’s response to the allegation against Christian Porter raises uncomfortable questions, ABC News

As do The Greens, Labor and the Crossbench.

This obtuse statement can adequately sum up public opinion:

I don’t judge people, but I do form my own opinions, of course.

Anyone who cares to watch “Inside the Canberra Bubble” might also conclude that Porter’s long history of predatory behaviours, adultery, lying, manipulation and political treachery makes it reasonably straightforward that an inquiry is necessary.

 

 

Those like me who argue for an inquiry are not seeking to have Porter institutionalised. We just seek greater clarity of what happened when Porter was 17, what has happened since, and is he suitable to serve as Attorney General.

Are we to believe, as he repeatedly said at his press conference, that “it just didn’t happen” or are we to imagine that it did.

Writing for The Monthly, Rachael Withers puts it this way:

“But just imagine for a second that it is true. Just imagine that for a second. The flip side of Porter’s statement applies also to the people who believe him wholeheartedly, because this is what so many in the Coalition and the media seem unwilling to do. Imagine if a teenage Porter once forced a drunk 16-year-old into oral sex, kicked and choked her, and then anally raped her when she passed out, leaving her bleeding and ashamed. What would it mean if such a man was allowed to remain attorney-general of this country, without so much as an inquiry?”

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

How do we find the truth when Rossleigh makes this point and many others in this article for The AIMN:

“So let’s deal entirely in hypotheticals here, but let’s keep them non-party specific so that we can establish the general rule and then look at whether or not there should ever be an exception. Let’s give Christian Porter his time off and accept his statements at face value and believe him when he says that he has never been made aware of any of the allegations at any time and he strenuously denies them even if he has never been made aware of what they were except by Scott Morrison who hadn’t read them either but somehow knew that Christian Porter was the person to ask about the allegations of which neither of them had the specifics.”

Canberra is where the Australian government should be working with its total concentration on what is best for the country.

Instead, it seems we have a cesspit of politicians whose focus is entirely on themselves and their egregious conduct, who with little attention paid to governing the country, are presently squirming like maggots desperately trying to disclaim responsibility.

The dishonesty and the muddiness of the political mind is commonplace, and we’ve become used to it, but the abuse and the molestation of women is not normal.

But it seems the males who swagger the corridors of our parliament house think it is normal, with a nod and a wink, and now how frantically they are trying to make the fact of it go away.

The circumstances around Porter’s behaviour towards women more generally is questionable.

And these are the bastards we’ve elected to run our country. Their posturing is sickening!

Unfortunately for Porter, his reputation precedes his declaration of innocence, and Morrison is reaping what he has been sowing for years. He shows no inclination to reprimand anyone, be it Kelly, Christiansen, Reynolds or Porter.

Incidentally, Reynolds has announced she will take another month of leave.

Mr Morrison, if you want leadership perhaps you can heed the words of Joe Biden:

“I’m not joking when I say this: if you ever work with me and I hear you treat another colleague with disrespect, talk down to someone, I will fire you on the spot. No ifs, and, or buts.”

That is leadership.

What about the women of the future, those desirous of a career in politics no matter what rung of the ladder?

Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins will lead an investigation into the workplace culture at Parliament House and responses to sexual harassment and assault. As opposed to her last, this one will take in broader aspects of the sexual goings-on in Australia’s parliament.

Fifty recommendations arose from her last report delivered only last November, a few of which have been implemented.

Back to the Porter scandal, the Prime Minister said he would also “welcome” a coronial inquiry in South Australia if the coroner opted for one.

But sexual conduct is only a part of the cultural behaviour of those who frequent the halls of parliament. Will this inquiry include the culture of suppressing freedom of information, telling the truth, transparency, business ethics, open corruption and religious interference?

Culture is a complicated, fluid thing, a learned and shared behaviour. Sex is only part of it.

“Ditch the Witch,” “JuLiar… Bob Brown’s Bitch” Were thrown at Julia Gillard by Abbott supporters and never reprimanded for them.

Respect for women is also a moral, cultural act.

Reminiscent of his “I don’t hold the hose, mate” response to the bushfire catastrophe Scott Morrison gives us,, and “I am not the police a force,” when a 16-year-old is raped.

As reported by Laura Tingle on The ABC live blog.

“Porter argued on Wednesday that “if I stand down from my position as Attorney-General because of an allegation about something that simply did not happen, then any person in Australia can lose their career, their job, their life’s work based nothing more than an accusation that appears in print”.

“I am not standing down or aside.”

Yet people’s lives are destroyed by allegations all the time, often about something that “simply did not happen”, like the RoboDebt scheme over which Porter and a number of other ministers, including the Prime Minister, presided over for several years, including a period in which they had received advice that it was unlawful but said nothing.”

When the NSW Police announced this week that they would not be proceeding with any investigation, they also may have caused a tragedy for those like me who would have liked the allegation against Porter investigated.

But also, for the man himself who will always remain labelled an “alleged rapist.”

Both Porter and Reynolds should resign to save the government more wind that they usually do on matters that require significant amounts of spin.

My thought for the day

Some men epitomise white male privilege, which would suggest that the Australian people need to take more care when electing their leaders.

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The week that will never go away

Note: The bulk of this piece was written before the announcement that the Cabinet Minister accused of the rape of a young girl would out himself.

1 The problem with Insiders is that it is so dammed inconclusive. What do I mean? Well, in its allotted hour, it discusses a lot but concludes little.

Take last Sunday for example. If the word “concludes” means to “bring to an end” or “reach a conclusion”, the show fails miserably. A lot was discussed, principally in general terms, but little of it had a “So where do you think that leaves the government now, Phil?” question to it.

It looked as though they had dragged three people off the street to discuss things they had little opinion about, and it showed through.

Despite the seriousness of the points in question, I was staggered by the casualness with which the journalists answered/discussed the issues at hand.

It went like this, if you take my point: “It was only my interpretation of what he meant. I mean, did he say what he meant, or did he really mean to say what he meant or was what he meant really what he meant?”

Yes, it was all mumble jumble, a waffle of repetitive stuff that was already on the table and required some conclusion.

And whilst David Speers is a good interviewer, his greater need to entrap his guest on some mundane point every week I find stomach-churning.

In this case, the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, wouldn’t be moved on whether the Cabinet Minister alleged to have raped a young girl should have his name revealed. It’s the Prime Ministers decision, he repeated ad nauseam until Speers accepted his answer.

It was apparent that Scott Morrison could: a) leave it with the police, b) allow the person to come out of his own accord, c) allow it to be leaked or revealed under Parliamentary Privilege, or d) release it himself.

As it turned out, he elected to go with the first choice, which of course, should leave every cabinet minister hopping mad while the eyes of the world are upon any 16 of them.

It was a display of illogical leadership by Morrison based on his passionate belief that his Minister was telling the truth. In this case, it required more than just a bit of blind passion – some even-handedness.

The voting public and the government must now satisfy themselves that it is perfectly alright to have an alleged rapist within government ranks.

Notwithstanding all of that, the accused must also be afforded a presumption of innocence.

Of course, if you lived inside the Canberra bubble – as most political journalists do – then you would probably, as would the politicians, know who this person is.

It wouldn’t surprise if many people had already determined that they couldn’t vote for a rapist in their party, alleged or not.

Inevitably, it will go public. It could be published in some corner of the internet where Australia’s defamation laws don’t reach. Or a member of a State or Federal Parliament will name him under Parliamentary Privilege.

However, when his name is revealed, it might become apparent just why Morrison had not made the person known in the first place.

It came as no surprise when Christian Porter fronted the media.

And it is here that to give this piece some relevance; I need to say that it was announced late on Tuesday that the Minister involved would give his side of the story on Wednesday.

Before I begin, please compare these two statements by the Prime Minister.

“I had a discussion with the individual, who as I said absolutely rejects these allegations – and so after having spoken to the commissioner and the deputy secretary of my department, there are no matters that require my immediate attention.”

“I have listened to Brittany. Jenny and I spoke last night, and she said to me, ‘You have to think about this as a father first. What would you want to happen if it were our girls?’

So, the Prime Minister has admitted that he hasn’t read the statement of the young woman who later committed suicide but completely accepts what his Minister has told him. In doing so, he rejects out of hand whatever the girl said. That is a very dismissive way to treat her.

Australian of the Year Grace Tame in an address to the National Press Club on Tuesday, gave an unforgettable speech on sexual harassment. I will be eternally grateful.

 

 

At question time, when asked about the performance of the Prime Minister, she was less than enthusiastic. Who can blame her when he makes such contradictory statements? Particularly, as in 2019, he said that victims of rape should come forward with the view that they would be believed.

Her putting down of Scott Morrison’s remark about his consultation with his wife Jenny was classical.

“You shouldn’t need to have children to have a conscience.”

It was a speech that will be long remembered by those fortunate enough to remember it.

The Gold Coast Bulletin reported that:

“Mr Albanese warned the PM the scandal “won’t go away”, and directly attacked him by pointing out the “stark contrast” between Mr Morrison’s insistence the Minister in question is entitled to be presumed innocent, and a 2019 clip of him saying all rape victims should be believed.”

It came as no surprise when a teary Christian Porter fronted the cameras in Western Australia.

He remembered nothing. It was a Morrison defence. He repeatedly said, “It just didn’t happen,” as if he was trying to convince himself.

He was in complete denial, and one had to wonder if it was on this basis that the Prime Minister accepted he was telling the truth. Personally, I would need more than he presented.

He was unaware of any of the allegations until very recently. He followed all the accepted ruled of denial. He couldn’t talk about the allegations because nothing happened.

He will take a short break for the sake of his mental health. No, he will not resign. His character has been tested beyond belief. I know nothing. Nothing sexual happened.

I found it astonishing that neither the Prime Minister nor the Attorney General had read the dossier. I struggled to believe Porter that he remembered specific points but not others.

All it did for me, and I suppose for many others, was to reassert that Scott Morrison needs to have an independent and open inquiry. It is the only valid path to take. Sure, it wouldn’t/couldn’t resolve all the issues, but at least it might fix some loose ends (like the behaviour of men in our parliament).

The events of this week will never go away. To quote Kaye Lee:

“We make haste slowly.

But we cannot give up.”

Now back to Insiders.

The panel included Rosie Lewis, Lanai Scarr and Phil Corey. Whilst I agree with having every possible representation in journalism, they should limit it to those who can make a point without any waffle. (Apologies to Phil). And, of course, those who have a forceful television personality. These days all they seem to do is agree with each other.

This government, of course, stuffs up so much that it makes it nigh on impossible to cover it all in an hour, and in this instance, the allegation of rape against an unknown cabinet minster was allowed so much time that other important subjects barely got a mention.

But they did Craig Kelly (will the Nationals pursue him?) and his sidekick Frank Sumbo, procedures against sexual harassment, the presumption of innocence, the government’s newfound working majority, Peter Dutton’s entry into the rape issues to darken the waters, Nicolle Flint to leave politics after confronting attacks, why the Liberals don’t support women, will Lynda Reynolds retain her job, the new dole payment and the poverty line and JobSeeker (or was it dob a seeker?), or Penny Wong, Linda Reynolds, and the Press Club.

Around 15 issues were canvassed, all of which had a negative slant towards the government, but nobody thought to sum up the government’s standing.

Maybe I have been a little harsh in my assessment of the Insiders programme. Perhaps it’s the Liberal and National parties who are at fault for the avalanche of material that needs to be discussed.

If they didn’t stuff up as much as they do, then the show might be able to vent its spleen at a slower pace.

The left of politics is concerned with people who cannot help themselves. The right is concerned with those who can.

2 As the female journal journalist said to the Prime Minister; “You release a report, [Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety final report] and then 30 minutes later you call a news conference. Fact is you do it all the time.” Well, don’t hold me to those words, but they are reasonably accurate.

And so began what turned out to be a somewhat ridiculous news conference on one of the most severe topics of recent times. With an ageing population, both sides of parliament had known for many years that a crisis in aged care would come sooner or later.

One side knew that it had overlooked 20 reports that had come before the Royal Commissions. It now has to make decisions that will shirt front its philosophy that individuals should pay for their aged care and health costs, for that matter, instead of depending on the state.

However, what they need to decide here and now is what sort of society they want, then Morrison and Frydenberg will have to stare in the face of these questions.

When drafting a budget for the common good, what should your priorities be?

Do you want to do what’s best for Australia’s citizens who have little, or are you more inclined towards increasing the riches of our wealthiest?

My thought for the day

The true test of any nation surely must be how it treats its most vulnerable.

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Whatever the Liberal Party is, it is not a place for women

Who would have thought that of all the blunders the Liberal and National Parties have made over their period of incumbency that it might be women who would bring them undone?

Not by any definition of incompetency or stupidity, but by being used by men for their sexual gratification.

That man and the sin of sexual abuse by members of their political party might be responsible for its demise is unfitting, I know.

That women should have to suffer in seeing the end of its governance is a tragedy.

What l am suggesting is that the magnitude of their suffering might be enough to turn people away from these two parties where the saying “know your place” speaks proudly.

The LNP is steeped in a philosophy of greed and desire where even the most private of a woman’s possessions can be taken against her will by men who know nothing but lust in all its vagaries, be it sex, money or power over her.

We now know that another bright young lady of the Liberal Party, Nicolle Flint dipped her toe into the Parliament’s cold waters at the last election and found it so toxic that she will not contest the next election.

Adding to the already deplorable revelations of the alleged rape of Brittany Higgins, raped by a colleague in a ministerial office in March 2019, we have another allegation by a woman – now deceased – of rape against a government minister before he entered Parliament.

Other women subsequently have come forward to support Brittany Higgins with their own stories of sexual harassment by the same man.

The now-deceased woman’s allegations can no longer be tested in court, so we have to take the women at her word. Men that fit her account will be sitting at the cabinet table staring with accusing eyes, wondering just who it might be. So will the people of Australia.

You might ask if his name should be revealed when he cannot defend himself. Conversely, you might ask if it is appropriate for an accused rapist to sit in Australia’s Parliament or even stand at the next election.

But her words should be read, judged and acted upon if they warrant it.

Two weeks into this calamitous scandal, the Prime Minister is trying to hold back the forces that suggest he is lying (that he was told of the incident that took place on the Minister for Defence’s sofa).

That so many people knew about the rape of Brittany Higgins, and he didn’t make his answers seem implausible.

The excuse that he wasn’t told until two years later is as stupid as your wife saying she forgot to tell you she was pregnant when you are blowing out the candles on its second birthday. One can only suggest that he has the most incompetent staff working in the prime minister’s office ever.

Even the Press Gallery is befuddled. According to the prime minister, the Minister for Defence suddenly became ill on the eve of a National Press Gallery address and was able to assume her duties a day or two later also remains a mystery.

That she was being set up to blame for it, all was a full-hand win until Morrison spoke to her cardiologist.

Now he is covering up. In Parliament last week, his story kept changing as new information emerged.

He refused to answer whether the Gaetjens Review into the conduct of his office would be made public. By the end of the week, it became apparent that the report would be a Cabinet document that couldn’t be released for 30 years.

Until the latest revelation on Friday, February 26 (which happens to be my 80th birthday), I would have tipped that Reynolds would have copped the blame then be sacked as Defence Minister, and Morrison would have walked away scot free. However, I’m now of the view that Morrison will have to convince many women that he isn’t lying. Something he used to be comfortable with but of late has found much harder.

 

My thought for the day

At some time in the human narrative… in our history, the man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you.

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

1 The journalist who broke the story about the rape in the Minister’s office, Samantha Maiden said on ABC Insiders last Sunday that she first approached the government to comment on the allegations at 2.30pm on Friday 12 February.

Every programme I have seen her on, I have gleaned a sense of professionalism where the truth mattered more than the controversy.

She has shown sensitivity and warning toward the young women involved and was let known the trials and tribulations that would follow.

She added with a hint of ridicule that they “spent the entire weekend, for which we’re very grateful, seeking facts and information” for the article.

“And yet nobody told the prime minister, and his evidence is that he didn’t know about this story until we published it at 8am last Monday.”

During one of the seemingly endless door stops on Sunday, the Prime Minister was asked whether people should believe that his office did not inform him for more than 48 hours. “Correct – that’s what happened,” as quick as his tongue could shape the words they leapt from lips practised in the art of the lie.

He was asked again why his staff had not informed him, he answered:

“I expressed my view to my staff about that very candidly on Monday.”

Another reporter more forcibly asked Morrison whether his staff were reprimanded for not bringing such a serious allegation to the Prime Minister’s attention.

“You can be assured they know exactly my views about that matter.”

Then he changed his tone. And this is important.

“But you know, it’s not about how I feel. It is always about the person who is at the centre of this.”

This quick change of emphasis where he dismisses himself from the matter at hand (I wasn’t told, and I’m upset) is a familiar ploy, and it is one that the general public overlooks, even forgives him for.

He is not only untrustworthy, but cunning in the Howard mould.

Our society’s true Christians must be dismayed at the damage he is doing to their faith.

After a disastrous week for the Government Mondays, Newspoll result did Morrison and his government little harm. They remain on 50/50. How this happens is beyond most commentators.

Anthony Albanese is even further behind as preferred Prime Minister. Is it time for him to stand down? No. Not on 50-50. At this stage of the cycle, with COVID-19 thrown in, that is a good result.

On Tuesday, The Guardianreported that a second staffer in the governments employ knew about the incident. Another headline in the same news outlet suggested that Brittany Higgins partner David Sharaz would leave his job. It was correct; Sharaz has resigned from his position dealing with federal government clients, saying he could no longer continue the role.

Finally, Clare O’Neil, the Labor member for Hotham, says this about the men in parliament in an excellent article again for The Guardian:

“The problem is simply and coldly this: in the Australian parliament, a man allegedly believed he could rape a woman metres from the Prime Minister’s office and face no consequences. His belief was entirely reasonable because, as we know, he was almost right.”

However, with 4000 people working at Parliament House, they are not all going to be bastions of moral virtue. That’s the reality.

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

2 Two things stood out last weekend that further confirmed to me the success that Rupert Murdoch has had in the indoctrination of Australians. The first was the crowd’s reaction to the mention of vaccines at the men’s final of the tennis, and second, the same vile response at the words “Victorian government”.

When we booed Hawke at the G years ago, it was a term of endearment; now we boo Goodes, and it is sarcastic racism.

It is a travesty that one man’s lifetime could have caused so much societal upheaval.

3 After having used Facebook for only a short period, I wrote the two paragraphs at the foot of section 3 in 2013. I’m not sure that I would do so now. There are many rights and wrongs to this story, but under it, all one word stands proud and tall, and that word is greed.

Perhaps the mainstream media barons should be paying for free exposure and advertising Facebook gives them.

Perhaps Facebook is entitled to charge for the news that finds its way onto Facebook.

4 As a midfield contributor to the political news cycle, opinion and discussion, The AIMN should not be dragged into this argument that Facebook and the Government are having.

Anyway, in greed is good argument; I thought my voice for The AIMN would be “no longer heard.” Still, I never anticipated the technological brilliance of The AIMN’s back room, who quickly rescued me.

My voice and those of others will still be able to be read as you have been used to.

However, you may have missed one or two pieces titled “When will Conservatives ever treat women with a modicum of decency, even dignity?” and “A tale of two wrongs: A rape and the Prime Minister’s response.”

Facebook makes you dive into humanity, hear things you do not want to hear, and defend what you have to say. It is for those with opinions or those without the courage to share them. And Fence-sitters, of course.

It attracts the reasoned, the unreasoned, the civil and the uncivil. The biased and the unbiased. It is for people with ideas and, sadly, those without any. It whispers or shouts dissent. But mostly, it’s a society of our own creation.

At the moment, it borders on a being hotchpotch of nothingness.

5 A gold-plated National Broadband Network may have cost $10 billion less than previously estimated by the Coalition government, with hidden figures from a review showing considerable savings expected from technological advancements for a full-fibre rollout.

Then-Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in 2013 that continuing with Labor’s full-fibre approach would mean “wasting well over $50 billion,” helping justify moving to the multi-technology mix.

6 Well, to finish on a good note my computer has just advised me that Craig Kelly has resigned from the Liberal Party. A joy to behold.

My thought for the day

On this occasion I have chosen to step aside for the Prime Minister.

“We think through the consequences of our policies. The Labor Party don’t.” (Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia).

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A tale of two wrongs: A rape and the Prime Minister’s response

As if this government’s 8-year run of corruption, ongoing stuff-ups and persistently bad governance weren’t enough, now we have women being raped in the Defence Minister’s office. On her sofa, no less.

I find myself pausing as I write. I feel ashamed of my country. Well, not so much my country but on those who run it.

Our country’s prime minister asks us to believe that he knew nothing for two years about a rape that took place 50 meters from his office, no less. He turns to his wife for her sage advice. She tells him; Ask yourself, “what if it were our girls.” After consideration, he finds he has empathy for the victim.

He might have asked himself the same question. What if it were him? I imagine the pain would be similar. Do you want me to be more graphic?

That he even needed to confide in his wife is sad in itself that he required some explanation of a women’s fear of a man’s physical power over a woman is pitiful. The fragility of his character has been exposed to the world.

But still, he knows nothing. I see the emptiness of truth in the words that flow guiltily from his mouth.

He knew nothing is considered nigh on impossible by many of those experienced in government machinations. Misleading the parliament is a grave offence – even former Prime Ministers have expressed a view of disbelief at the Prime Minister’s response.

Former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd had a word to say.

“It doesn’t ring true that when you have a case of such gravity involving this young woman who is alleging rape in a ministerial office, that this wouldn’t have immediately been informed or provided as a report to the Prime Minister’s chief of staff.”

And Julia Gillard said she was “horrified both by the incident and the aftermath.”

Another former Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull was adamant that it would be “inconceivable” that Mr Morrison knew nothing of the alleged incident.

Even Peta Credlin, former Chief of Staff to Tony Abbott was on the attack, telling 2GB this week that Mr Morrison’s timeline “doesn’t stack up”.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said that a series of text messages contradicted Mr Morrison’s claim that his office knew nothing of Brittany Higgins’ claims until it was contacted by a journalist last Friday.

But back to the story and what we know so far. It seems to me that there are two stories in this remarkable event. Both are independent of the other and require the attention each independently deserves.

One is about political trust, accountability, transparency, compassion and fairness.

The first concerns the rape of a young woman, and the second is about why the government and the Prime Minister covered it up.

Morrison said that he and his staff knew nothing about the Higgins allegations of rape throughout the week. Well, until Friday 12 February.

This is patently untrue, unless Fiona Brown, Reynolds’ chief of staff, who now works for Morrison and was the first person Brittany Higgins told of her ordeal.

As is the case in matters of scandal, the evidence tends to linger before it lands. Such is the case with the revelation late last week that:

“… explosive text messages have cast serious doubt over the Prime Minister’s account of when he first learned of the alleged rape of a former Liberal staffer at Parliament House.”

An example of this is the story in Saturday’s Australian.

A second woman has come ­forward to allege she was sexually assaulted late last year by the same former Morrison government adviser ­accused of raping his female colleague in Parliament House.

Since the scandal broke, the Prime Minister has invoked the “I know nothing” defence.” At a doorstop press conference on Friday, Morrison repeatedly claimed he knew nothing of this heinous crime and repeatedly tried to shift attention onto the victim’s welfare for the purpose of moving it from himself.

Over and over, he has claimed that his office was unaware of any claims that his office knew about Brittany Higgins’s insistence that a colleague had raped her until a week ago.

He dismisses claims that he had any personal knowledge of the event until he was told last Monday. Yet all of these attempts at denialism fly in the face of a text message that suggests his office was told within a fortnight of the alleged incident. “If there was anything different here, I would like to know,” he said.

Yet again, he denied misleading the public and said his version of events was based on advice from his office. “I have asked the secretary of my department to actually test that advice,” came his response.

The facts suggest that its harder to find people in the parliament who didn’t know than those who did.

The texts are of an exchange between Ms Higgins and a fellow Liberal staffer and came to life on Friday.

The Liberal staffer in the message said they had spoken directly with a member of Mr Morrison’s staff:

“Spoke to the PMO. He was mortified to hear about it and how things have been handled,” he said.

“He’s going to discuss with COS – no one else. I flagged the need for councillor (sic) and desire to be closer to home during the election.”

(PMO refers to Mr Morrison’s office, and COS is shorthand for Chief of Staff).

Last Friday, the Prime Minister edged his way toward the truth, saying that the texts would be “within the scope” of a review of the response to Ms Higgins’ allegations by Prime Minister and Cabinet Secretary Philip Gaetjens.

And guess who will conduct the review? None other than Mr Gaetjens himself. Yes, the same man who ran the internal enquiry into the Sports Rorts Affair and found that the Prime Minister had nothing to answer for.

So nothing will come of it.

There is much water to flow under the bridge of this scandal.

In my previous post on this scandal, I wasn’t backwards calling the Prime Minister a liar. I don’t detract from that; in fact, events since would seem to confirm my statement to be correct.

My thought for the day

A man who has mastered the art of manliness embodies many, if not all, of these manly characteristics:

  • He looks out for and is loyal to his friends and family. Does the right thing, even when it’s not convenient. He is proficient in the manly arts. Treats women with respect and honour.
  • Serves and gives back to his community. Sacrifices for the good of others. Works hard and seldom complains.
  • Exhibits both great courage and tender compassion. He has a confident demeanour but isn’t a pompous twit. Is witty without succumbing to sarcasm. Embraces instead of shirking responsibility.

Is that a man you know?

(Paraphrased from The Art of Manliness)

Another thought

At some time in the human narrative… in our history, man declared himself superior to women. It must have been an accident, or at least an act of gross stupidity. But that’s men for you.

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When will Conservatives ever treat women with a modicum of decency, even dignity?

And to think that Morrison knew all about it. Well, to be more precise, both the Liberal and National parties knew of this rape before the 2019 election. In fact, right in the middle of the campaign.

Had it been disclosed at the time, it might have made the difference between winning and losing for Labor.

Shades of John Howard and children overboard again, but more important, however, this time is just who decided to do a hush job. You might recall his very Christian reaction when he became Prime Minister, but when a young woman was allegedly raped, he decided to cover up.

According to the victim, staffer Brittany Higgins, her rape took place in Defence Minister Lynda Reynolds’s office on 19 April after a Friday night drinking session.

The election was held on 18 May.

The damage that such an act would have done to the conservatives – both Liberal and National – during an election campaign would be immeasurable. So what did they decide to do?

Well, on the surface, at least it looks as though they decided to double up on her pain.

The poor girl involved says she didn’t make a formal complaint because she wanted to hang onto her job and not do any harm to the reputation of the Liberal Party. What reputation one might ask?

A follow-up meeting was held inside the same office; the offence is alleged to have taken place a decision the Government concedes is “regretted.”

What moronic individual made such an inhumane decision knowing that it would almost certainly do further harm. Was it intended to?

The issue of the toxic treatment of women inside Parliament House and men’s behaviour within the Liberal and National parties yet again raises its ugly head. Remember Barnaby Joyce and the affair that led to his marriage’s breakup. Remember the Attorney-General Christian Porter kissing in a Canberra pub.

Back to Brittany Higgins, it was reported that:

“… a man working for then-defence industry minister Linda Reynolds took a 24-year-old female media staffer into Parliament House after a Friday night drinking session in March 2019 and allegedly raped her inside the defence industry minister’s office.”

On the Ministers, couch to be exact.

She should hang a sign on her door. “No defence here.”

Her story follows many other women known and unknown who have experienced similar situations.

The junior staffer was very new to her job – just four weeks, in fact – before this horrendous experience occurred. She then had to endure the decision between making a formal complaint or keeping her career.

After it was made perfectly clear that she might lose her job, she was shunted into Employment Minister Michaelia Cash’s office before Ms Higgins resigned.

A statement from a member of the Prime Minister’s Office said the reports about the incident were “deeply distressing.”

“At all times, guidance was sought from Ms Higgins as to how she wished to proceed, and to support and respect her decisions.

Throughout the entire process the overriding concern for Government was to support Ms Higgins’ welfare in whatever way possible.”

It sounds like they were falling over backwards to help her make the right moves to their advantage.

 

Brittany Higgins and Scott Morrison (Image from huffingtonpost.com.au – Photos from Channel 10 and Getty Images)

 

But after all this time, even after being denied access to video footage of the two’s movements, Ms Higgins has decided to ask the AFP to investigate. The why of that is another question. Given their record of investigating this Government, I wouldn’t say I like her chances.

Come Tuesday morning, the Prime Minister in a solemn mood to fit the occasion, fronts the media with apologises for everything under the sun. He had discussed the matter with his wife overnight and now looks at it from the point of view of what if it were his children.

 

 

His first defence was that he never knew, no one had told him anything. I found this to be wholly implausible, and secondly, that it was all a disgrace and he would move Heaven and earth to right everything. But as I said initially, I contend that the Prime Minister knew about it and wanted it covered up.

Of course, “not knowing anything” gave him the excuse to repair matters. Had he known, would not he have the obvious question; “Why didn’t you do something then?”

Samantha Maiden gets its right when she reports that:

“If history is any guide, he the Scott Morrison’s response to Brittany Higgins’ shocking account of sexual assault at Parliament House in Canberra will be open and shut.

He will urge her to take the matter to the police – which she did at the time – and perhaps suggest that is the beginning and the end of the matter?

But is it?

Or, do political parties owe the people that work for them – in this case a 24-year-old young woman – a more significant duty of care if they are sexually assaulted at work?”

If I might add to that, I think that Morrison gets away with his teary act too often and the “I wasn’t told” defence is just a poor excuse.

But time never diminishes the crime. What is needed is for men to grow up and be the men they are supposed to be. These events are just another addition to the many incidents of mistreating women.

My thought for the day

History is just an ongoing commentary on the incompetence of men.

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The revolving door of Conservative wrongdoings

The revolving door of corruption continues to tarnish Conservative politicians’ ranks and their party. Following the tradition of deceit that began in 2013 under Tony Abbott’s (or during Howard’s rein) victory, the Government continues with an openness that most leaders would be embarrassed by. Goodness knows what will happen if they win a fourth term.

1 Who else but Peter Dutton – the Minister for Everything Not Tied Down – could slash “millions in grant funding from organisations that were strongly recommended by his Department, and used the funds to support his own handpicked list”?

Documents obtained under FOI reveal from his own department that:

“The Home Affairs Department recommended funding a list of 70 community safety projects using a merit-based assessment.

Peter Dutton reduced the funding for 19 of the highest-scoring applications and redirected the funding to projects of his choice.

The funding guidelines state the minister can override the department’s merit-based assessments.”

Not only that, but the Minister also used the funds to help out a couple of councils in a marginal seat. It must be like having one’s own personal slush-fund fit for purpose. And to think that his department recommended they shouldn’t be funded at all.

This little morsel of corruption wouldn’t even pass a shandy test in the lady’s lounge.

On top of all this, an investigation by the ABCs 7.30 programme tells all and sundry that Dutton has:

“extraordinary influence that Mr Dutton wields over a multi-million dollar fund, drawn from the seized proceeds of criminal enterprises, for the Safer Communities program.”

As a former copper, you would think he would know better.

The guidelines for the grants for round three of the Safer Communities program stipulate that the Home Affairs Minister must consider each project’s assessment. Still, he has the power to overrule his department’s merit-based reviews.

It was also revealed that:

“… Mr Dutton was warned by the department, in a previously confidential ministerial briefing, that overruling the merit system could draw scrutiny from the Australian National Audit Office or other news organisations.”

Well, they sure did, and sadly they will probably get away with yet another one of these political crimes.

The documents, released under freedom of information laws, can only increase the mistrust we already have in our politicians. How we award, grants generally must be reviewed in light of the avalanche of evidence before us.

As is his usual ploy, Dutton tells us everything is above board and squeaky clean and you should believe him because he is a former policeman.

And meanwhile where is the chairman of this ring of skulduggery? Hawaii? No, he just allows it all to happen.

However, The ABC tells us that:

“The ministerial submission Legal experts have told 7.30 that Mr Dutton’s consideration of the grant funding after the association donated to the Queensland LNP may give rise to a perceived conflict of interest, which could be considered a breach of Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s ministerial standards.”

In breaking news Friday 12 February 2021, The Labor Party has asked the Auditor General to investigate the Safer Communities Fund after departmental documents exposed Mr Dutton diverted almost half the total pool of funding away from recommended projects to his own handpicked ones

2 So the National Party, the party that receives about half the Greens’ votes yet has nine seats to one in the House of Representatives wants to determine Australia’s climate policy. They don’t even have the support of the National Farmers Federation. To say they represent country people is in itself a lie. Just look at the NBN.

They must be the most unqualified group of people to have ever served the nation in this. Whoops, I forgot the redhead.

3 In politics, do you shape the truth for the sake of a good impression? On the other hand, do you tell the truth even if it may tear down the view people may have of you? Alternatively, do you use the contrivance of omission and create another lie. I can only conclude that there is always a pain in truth, but there is no harm in it.

4 From Facebook (author unknown):

“It was refreshing to see David Speers meeting his match on insiders this morning. Sunday 7 February. Try as he might, he could not disrupt or contradict Labor official Marles this morning, who reflected the quiet, competent professionalism awaiting Australia after this tired, lazy crooked Government is removed in favour of a new capable Labor’s government. Do we want more Craig Kelly’s or Marles, the difference is a bit too obvious? Of course, I haven’t even mentioned Tanya Plibersek or Kristina Keneally or penny Wong. Labor has a wealth of reformist talent ready to lead.”

5 This email from Mark Dreyfus I received in my Roy Morgan daily newsletter summary is worth repeating:

“We’ve all seen the ever-growing list of scandals surrounding the Morrison Government.

Sports Rorts. Robodebt. The Western Sydney Airport Land rip off.

The list goes on and on.

Australians deserve to have confidence in their Government. Still, Scott Morrison and his Liberal and National Party mates are doing everything they can to prevent the establishment of a powerful and independent national anti-corruption commission.

The Liberals are even proposing what has been called ‘the weakest watchdog in the country’ which will ensure they are never held accountable for their multiple scandals.”

6 Also from Roy Morgan:

“Professor Andrew Stewart from the University of Adelaide is among 23 labour law experts who have criticised key elements of the Federal Government’s omnibus industrial relations bill. Professor Stewart says a particular concern is the proposal to exempt some enterprise agreements from the ‘better-off-overall test’ for two years. The senior academics have also questioned the proposed definition of a casual worker. Professor Stewart stresses that the academics support some parts of the bill, such as increased penalties for wage theft.” (Original article by David Marin-Guzman, The Australian Financial Review, 09/02/2021).

7 From Peter van Onselen (Peter referred to Minister Greg Hunts astonishing attack on ABC journalist and morning host Michael Roland last Tuesday):

 

 

Anyway, truth won in the end.

My thought for the day

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

PS: Many thanks to Marilyn Richards, who found the time to write the following:

“Thank you I have enjoyed your writing and your thoughts on this crazy life for some time. I have particularly enjoyed the self-control you seem to have when I have needed to gather my thoughts and courage to stop myself from exploding. Wishing you many more enlightening contributions. To keep some of us sane.”

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