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John has a strong interest in politics, especially the workings of a progressive democracy, together with social justice and the common good. He holds a Diploma in Fine Arts and enjoys portraiture, composing music, and writing poetry and short stories. He is also a keen amateur actor. Before retirement John ran his own advertising marketing business.

Day to Day Politics: After-Budget Hangover.

Wednesday 24 May 2017

I’m having one of those days where I’m going over all those things that I haven’t gotten around to reading since the budget. Catching up on things that friends have sent me. It occurs to me just how much information I take in on a daily basis. Some things hang around for a few days before giving way to whatever has hit the headlines.

And that’s how it is at the moment. The Budget has come and gone leaving a residue of problems, complications and Senate procrastination. And a hangover of sorts.

So what follows is a list of things that have caught my attention. You might like to discuss some of them.

1 Tuesdays Essential Poll shows Labor leading the Coalition 54/46 showing there has been no budget bounce. It also confirms my belief that when you are on the nose with the public its awfully difficult to move the numbers.

Turnbull says the Polls since the budget vindicate his Budget. Can someone point me to one that did?

A Budget can only really be judged when you define its purpose and that need not always be economics. This one was unashamedly political. Sean Kelly suggests that behind it were four aims 1. Too obliterate Turnbulls reputation as a do nothing politician. 2 Too establish some sort of competence. 3 Re present himself as a moderate. Kill off Labor attacks.

2 Making sense of the jobless figures. That’s if you can. In any case the way we measure them needs to be upgraded. And it puts a lie to the Governments constant attacks on those without work.

The figure of 19 applicants for every job available might be far worse than we think.

The Australian – Page 2: 22 May 2017

Original article by Adam Creighton

Roy Morgan Summary

“According to official data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the unemployment rate fell by 0.2 per cent to 5.7 per cent in April 2017. However, analysis suggests that the real unemployment rate exceeds 20 per cent if all Australians of working age who are not currently in the labour market or are underemployed are included in the data. Roy Morgan Research executive director Gary Morgan argues that Australia’s political leaders should follow the example of US President Donald Trump in calling out “fake” unemployment figures. Morgan adds that the Reserve Bank sets interest rates too high on the basis of the “phony” jobs data.”

Be honest about unemployment – it’s above 15 per cent

The Australian – Page 12 : 22 May 2017

Original article by Adam Creighton

Roy Morgan Summary

“Official figures show that just 732,000 people in Australia are unemployed at present and the nation’s unemployment rate is 5.7 per cent. However, 6.9 million people of working age are classified as not in the labour force, and more than 20 per cent of them want a job. Likewise, the underemployment rate has risen to a record 9.2 per cent, which equates to 1.1 million people. The Australian Bureau of Statistics uses an internationally recognised definition of unemployment, but it should also publish the real unemployment rate, which would be at least 15 per cent.”

My apologies to whoever sent me the above piece. I cannot trace your name.

3 I was going to include a comment on this but Terry2 did so yesterday and I don’t think I could have said it better.

Just as an aside: I note that the Trump women didn’t wear a head covering when meeting with Saudi royalty as is conventional – something that Trump had previously criticised Michelle Obama for the same thing, he tweeted in 2015 :

Many people are saying it was wonderful that Mrs. Obama refused to wear a scarf in Saudi Arabia, but they were insulted. We have enuf enemies”

Then Trump wears a ‘Kippah’ [skull-cap] at the Israeli Western wall as is customary for men: no women allowed.

When Michelle Obama met the Pope she wore a black ‘mantilla’ on her head as is customary: the Trumps will meet the Pope in the next few days so it will be interesting to see what the Trump women wear: perhaps beanies all round (?)

The politics of head covering!

4 Tony Abbott continues to be a thorn in the side of the Government saying his budget of 2014 was the gilt-edged Rolls Royce one that would have solved Australia’s economic problems.

He also thinks Australia has become part of the weak government club because centre-right politicians can’t get their agenda through the Senate.

I wonder why these people ever in the quietness of their thoughts ever ask themselves the very simple question ”why?”

It still hasn’t occurred to him that it was one of the reasons he lost his job.

In his latest advice to the party he once led he said the budget, which was the best the government could do in the circumstances, underscored the urgency of Senate reform.

Didn’t he realise they had already done that?

5 The Federal Governments Black Economy Task force is due to release its findings in October. Originally they said it was worth around 25billion but now they reckon if you include money laundering, and drug trafficking it’s likely twice as much.

I used to be one of those who insisted on an invoice from a tradesman showing the GST. Then I found out how many of the rich and privileged didn’t pay tax. Then I ……..

6 Pauline Hanson seems to have really gotten caught with her pants down trying to make money from One Nations own candidates. And it’s all on tape.

The conversation went like this (as reported by the Australian Financial Review):

“There is an opportunity for us to make some money out of this, if we play it smart. Now I know they say you can’t make money out-of-state elections, but you can,” Mr Ashby is recorded as saying.

“And I’ll deny I ever said this, but, what stops us from getting a middle man, or gracing, I’m happy to grace in cash and double the price of whatever it is, and we say to the candidates, we will fund 50 per cent of this package.

“So the package might be five grand, ‘you’re gonna pay $2500’ and we’ll pay the other $2500 of the $5000. The other $2500 is profit, it’s the fat, and I wanna write it off. I don’t want the cash for it, I’ll make it a bloody tax deduction.”

At one point, he suggests “we buy the corflutes for $5, we sell it to them at $11” and claims “that’s what the Liberal Party do”.

“Because when you lodge the receipt at the full price with the Electoral Commission of Queensland you get back the full amount that’s been issued to you as an invoice.”

At one point, Senator Hanson appears open to the idea, saying: “just look at it, what is the best financial outlook for us?”

Together with the ATO revelation last week they reinforce the need for a form of federal ICAC.

Bill Shorten said:

“But clearly here, down the track there will have to be questions of competence for the government to answer. And I also think it makes Labor’s support for having a Senate committee investigating the merit of a National Integrity Commission seem quite on the money.”

7 The Washington Post is reporting that President Trump registered eight companies in Saudi Arabia. The names appeared to be of a “hotels nature.”

Trump registered the companies in August 2015, shortly after launching his presidential bid, according to The Post.

Note. It is illegal for a President to gain economically from overseas companies.

My thought for the day.

“Life is an experience of random often unidentifiable patterns and indiscriminate consequences that don’t always have order nor require explanation. The more we relate to others the more we get to know ourselves.”

 

Day to Day Politics: Three cases of lying by omission.

Tuesday 22 May 2017

1 I have for some time now been calling out members of the Government who have been repetitive liars. Abbott was and probably still is. He had some excellent accomplices in Hunt, Pyne and others.

But for omission Peter Dutton takes the prize. His latest example of asylum seeker bashing is a perfect example.

Earlier this month the Law Council of Australia severely criticised the immigration minister over his complaints about the legal system’s handling of cases involving Iranian refugees, calling his views “dangerous and erosive to our justice system”.

He had been on 2GB last Tuesday speaking about Iranian refugees who had been granted Australian visas that the Government had later tried to deport after making return trips to their home country.

The Administrative Appeals Tribunal blocked the deportation bid.

Dutton told 2GB of his “frustration” over the AAT blocking the government’s plan.

“When you look at some of the judgements that are made, the sentences that are handed down it’s always interesting to go back to have a look at the appointment of the particular Labor Government of the day,” he said.

Then on the same day on 3AW he was at it again blaming Labor. He appears to hate all opinions other than his own.

“The tribunal will look at these cases and it will come down to the judgement; the professional judgement of some people within the AAT and obviously those appointments are made by the government of the day, as is the case with the judiciary across the court system otherwise,”

“It’s Labor’s fault” is his constant cry, his never-ending excuse for his own incompetence.

In his current attack on asylum seekers who haven’t yet applied for a Temporary Visa he omits to say that this was only a requirement from last November.

“Those people who are fake refugees, people who are refusing to provide detail about their claim of protection … or indeed refusing to lodge their protection claims.”

There is no proof that people are refusing to apply, it’s just Dutton being Dutton, demonising people as they have done for a generation.

David Manne said:

“These applications take many hours because we’re looking at completion of forms with well over 100 questions, plus a detailed written statement, of the person’s fears of return to their home country, all in English and needing expert legal help so that people can understand the requirements of the process,” 

Manne also indicated that his legal centre had over 2000 (of a total of 7500) asylum seekers on its books seeking pro bono help to apply for temporary protection visas.

He argued they had only had a small window of opportunity to do so.

“These applications take many hours because we’re looking at completion of forms with well over 100 questions, plus a detailed written statement, of the person’s fears of return to their home country, all in English and needing expert legal help so that people can understand the requirements of the process,” 

This continuous bashing of asylum seekers from a man of little virtue is becoming somewhat boring. He knows that legal services are already under pressure. He is a cruel man who would have no hesitation in splitting up families and deporting them. He’s deliberately trying to tear people out of our communities and deport them to danger without any chance of a fair and proper process.

If it is the case that there is an October 1 deadline then you would think that a Minister who is in charge of the well being of these people then he should be bending over backwards to accurate them. As Philip Coorey put it in the AFR:

Rather than a war of “fake refugees”, this has the hallmarks of a “fake war” on an easy, and very familiar, target.

What loathsome creatures inhabit conservative politics?

2 Now, lets move unto that other Coalition MP who lies by omission with scant regard to any transparency what so ever. Scott Morrison, since he delivered his 17- 18 Budget has deliberately created the impression that the banks would accept the government levy and not pass on the losses to their customers.

Even though they know the banks will do what they always do and slug their customers, just because they can.

Barry Cassidy called him out on Insiders.

Barrie Cassidy: “You can’t guarantee they won’t pass on the costs.’’

He was forced to respond.

Scott Morrison: “In the same way the banks have put up interest rates when there hasn’t been a move in the Reserve Bank cash rate. I mean, banks will find any way they can to charge their customers more with fees and charges.’’

It’s a clear as a bright sunny day that the banks will find a way to slug the taxpayer. So lets get it straight. It’s an underhanded way to implement a new tax.

Now Morrison may be presenting himself as a changed man. One who after a long period farinaceous inflexibility now sees that revenue is as important as spending in budgetary terms but he also needs to apprehend that people are sick and tired of his slogans, lying by omission and the habit he has of sneeringly talking down to people.

To quote Sean Kelly in The Monthy:

‘’So it’s a pity that Morrison, having been flatly contradicted by Cassidy on ABC’s Insiders and forced, on air, to correct himself, and having had at least two articles (one here) written about it, this week continued to repeat the deliberately misleading accusation that Labor’s tax policy means “the Labor Party wants you if you do well in life to spend one day working for the government and one day working for yourself”. He clearly had the line distributed to other Coalition MPs, too, who repeated it.’’

If Morrison expects people to accept his transformation from bad cop to good cop then he had best start with arguments based on fact and not this sort of staggering hubris. Australians, because they don’t trust them, don’t take a lot of interest. They do however have a good nose for bullshit, or when they are being conned.

3 The third Minister on my list is the Education Minister Simon Birmingham.

Here he was on News 24 explaining the Gonski reforms. He insisted time and again that the Government was introducing the Gonski in full. In doing so he urged Labor to join with the Government and implement the legislation.

In an interview of some length he kept insisting that this was the real deal. Even blind Freddy knows that he is lying by omission.

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: Malcolm Turnbull. How wrong I was.

Sunday May 21 2017

Author’s note: Is it my age or does time seem to just go quicker? When this morning I looked at what I had written on the corresponding day last year I was really amazed that what follows I had practically written a year ago. Even more amazing was that when I re-read it I was even more taken by how little has happened. The governance of the country has gotten worse. Note the mention of Peter Dutton and compare it with recent happenings.

What a fraud the Prime Minister has turned out to be

1 When Malcolm Turnbull came to power, I like many others naively thought that after Abbott’s confrontational gutter style politics we would see a new era in the practice of political discourse. Not exactly a lovey dovey one but at least it would be sensible and reasoned. After all, Malcolm for some time had been doing the rounds of media programs espousing his own particular brand of diplomatic civility. He was overwhelming seen as the conservative leader we had to have. At the time I wrote:

”Conversely, Malcolm Turnbull, will it appears, obtain the office with a calculated mixture of personal charm, reasonableness, and consummate diplomacy. He presents a façade of calm confidence and understanding in stark contrast to Abbott who shows all of the traits of a man who has lost control of his emotions”

The Saturday Paper in December 2016 said this of Turnbull:

”He has worked up a lovely public persona: as cultured as Keating but blessed with a kinder sense of humor; as intelligent as Rudd but far from as malevolent. And somehow, with his green-froth-drinking diet success and his endearing leather jackets and business shirts, his Stephen Fry-like adoration of gadgets and mastery of social media, his raffish smile and mellifluous voice, he has formed the perfect personality for most popular, and probably most trusted, politician in the nation”.

How wrong we were. Since coming to power he has proven to be a hypocrite and a fraud. Policies and beliefs he held for many years were ditched without as much as a hiccup when the far right nutters of his party demanded it. Consistently he has caved in on policies contrary to his beliefs.

When he allows and condones the xenophobic racist rhetoric of the immigration minister Peter Dutton any thoughts I had left that he might bring a new era of politics have been finally laid to rest.

I had thought there was a possibility of the election being about a contest of policies and ideas, the means to implement them together with the means to pay.

But Turnbull in utter desperation has played the racist card. He has allowed Dutton with his nefarious mouth to spew out racist talk like a daily shower of offensiveness that rains down on an unwitting society every day.

Dutton’s remarks about refugees were deeply offensive to the historically compassionate immigration program of both parties. An effective program that has helped Australia to become a multi-cultural success.

Not only did Turnbull express his agreement with Dutton’s remarks but said he was an outstanding minister. How crass he is. Pauline Hanson’s eyes would be popping out of her head with delight.

Turnbull was often critical of the politics of division thinly directing them at Tony Abbott. What a fraud he is.

Michael Gordon in an article for The Canberra Times said this:

”But, no, Prime Minister, the 25 Labor MPs you say are only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ are not in open mutiny over Bill Shorten’s (and Labor’s) commitment to turning back the boats and offshore processing (notwithstanding the breathless headlines in the Herald Sun)”

”Many have done nothing more than express similar sentiments to you, like when you told Fran Kelly you ‘sympathise with, and grieve for’ the ‘mental anguish’ that so many on Nauru and Manus Island have had inflicted on them”.

The 25 Labor MPs mentioned are guilty of nothing more than harbouring humanitarian instincts.

An observation.

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

2 The latest Essential Poll has Labor on 51% and the Coalition on 49%. The interesting thing is that for the first time we find Malcolm Turnbull dipping into net negative territory on personal approval for the first time. This can only be as a result of his hypocrisy

3 Craig Emerson tweeted:

”Rolling out Dutton so early in the campaign to vilify refugees with PM saying he’s an ‘’outstanding Minister suggests bad internal polling”.

Sean Kelly of The Monthly today makes the observation:

”Those who follow election campaigns know that early every morning the strategists of all parties get together to analyse and pinpoint the topic of the day. What you want the public to focus on is the most important decision of the day. Liberal strategists have been focusing on background briefings to the media for some time. They tell them that any day where the focus is on Asylum Seekers is a good one for the government.

Coincidently the day the Prime Minister attacks Labor immigration policy the Liberal Party’s pollster Mark Textor writes an article about how a party can win a political battle not by winning the political that day, but by pushing an issue on which it has an advantage to the heart of the debate”.

Strange how the planets can align so coincidently.

4 Did you know that during the last English election all three political leaders signed a pledge to tackle Climate Change? Are we really so stupid not to?

5 “When it comes down to a beauty parade for who’s best qualified to educate the children of Australia, I’ll pick the teachers and curriculum experts over the right-wing of the Liberal Party every time” (Labor leader Bill Shorten when asked about funding the Safe Schools program past 2017).

My thought for the day.

”Nothing matters in life so much as to live it decently. And you don’t need any form of religious belief to do so. Be as humane as you can possibly be”.

PS: The AFP have been given access to James Ashby’s old mobile phone records. Watch this space!

Day to Day Politics: A case of B&A

Saturday 20 May 2017

On Wednesday May 17 I wrote a piece titled ”What if Shorten …?” in which I canvassed what might have been the public reaction had the Leader of the Opposition taken a different tack in his Budget in Reply speech. I suggested that he might have gotten greater traction had he more aggressively said that in essence the conservatives had stolen well known thought out Labor policies. Sure they may have been Labor lite and didn’t represent Labor one hundred per cent but none the less were plagiarised.

I copped a bit of flak for what some thought was a criticism of Bill Shorten. It wasnt , and how people could have interpreted it so is beyond me. But that aside the next day Anthony Albanese in a speech to the Transport Workers Union in Perth, entertained my very sentiments.

There were two distinct approaches. On the one hand Shorten chose to say that the policies bore no resemblance to Labor policy. He was not wrong to do so because they didn’t. It just came over as a Labor lite reply.

On the other hand both I and Albanese reckoned we should say that A, they had stolen Labor policy and B, that we deny that it was the real McCoy.

Albanese said that the Labor Party ”should celebrate our victories”, in this case the ”ideological surrender” of the Coalition.

I had said that ”I don’t think I have ever seen a party so obstinately betray its own ideology and deliver a socialist budget. However lite.”

Albanese went on to say that  ”The way forward for Labor is to accept [the conservatives’] rhetorical conversion and triple our pressure for investment, while continuing to argue the case for further progressive reform.”

Shorten had spent the whole week arguing against the idea that the budget had even the faintest resemblance to Labor’s policies on the NDIS, education, infrastructure and health.

My whole point was, what if he had ripped into them with the truth of it. That they were so bankrupt of ideas that they had to pinch Labor’s, but even then they couldn’t bring themselves to go the whole way. What a bunch of liars and hypocrites they are. After telling us for years that it was only by cutting spending that we could get the budget back in the black.

I was just pointing out that there was an alternative method and, and it’s not too late to attack the Conservatives with it..

“Budget 2017 was an overwhelming victory for the Australian Labor Party and the broader labour movement,” Albanese said.

“It was the budget of ideological surrender”.

“We in the Labor Party and the broader labour movement should celebrate our victories.”

In contrast Shorten said the budget was an “admission of guilt” and fundamentally unfair, and rejected suggestions it was a “Labor lite” document.

He had missed an opportunity to damage the Coalition brand permanently.

Albo put it this way and I agree.

”The way forward for Labor is to accept [the conservatives’] rhetorical conversion and triple our pressure for investment, while continuing to argue the case for further progressive reform.”

Labor, in my view, should over the next few months seek to take back the policy initiative from the coalition and repetitively call them frauds without policies. And talk of a challenge to the leadership is just silly.

My thought for the day.

”I find it impossible to imagine that the Australian people would be so gullible as to elect for a third term a government that has performed so miserably in the first two. But they might”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: It’s all just so obscene.

Friday 19 May 2017

It has been known for years that besides the terrible incarceration inflicted on people who have not committed any crime it has been the conservatives intent to make their conditions so deplorable that they just give up.

Bleak and brutal conditions are fashioned so as to break the spirit and dehumanise the individual so that suicide seems the only option. People like Peter Dutton create these environments of self-harm and human despair. The apathy of it is reflected in the faces of the Australian people.

The Guardian reports that:

“Confidential documents from inside Australia’s offshore detention centre on Manus Island reveal bleak and brutal conditions inside, including persistently high rates of self-harm, repeated suicide attempts, regular violent and sexual assaults, and warnings of an emerging culture of drug use by staff and detainees.

Incident reports obtained by the Guardian show that on several occasions, four men in detention on Manus have attempted suicide and self-harm in a single day. In one week, 16 self-harm and suicide attempts were recorded by authorities.”

And did I hear that the Minister has been given $250 million to upgrade his offices.

Rather obscene, I should think.

2 With special counsel appointed to oversee probe Russia’s involvement with Trump American politics is becoming the never-ending scandal story with the President playing a leading role. The justice Department has picked former prosecutor and FBI director Mueller to lead the investigation.

In another emerging scandal it’s now claimed that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill in June 2016 with his fellow GOP leaders. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan interjected and stopped the conversation from exploring McCarthy’s assertion, saying: ”No leaks. This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

How ironic it would be if James Comey becomes the man who saved America and the world from the presidencies of both Clinton and Trump.

Will it take the FBI to do what America’s dysfunctional major political parties could not?

Look forward to the next exciting episode of ”The White House Needs a Plumber.”

3 Australia, not to be left behind in the scandal stakes has a major one of its own.

Adam Cranston, the 30-year-old son of deputy tax commissioner Michael Cranston is among nine people arrested over an alleged $165-million fraud syndicate following 30 AFP raids across Sydney on Wednesday.

Turnbull’s comments on the midday news: “it shows the system is working.” Please explain. Not clear for whom the system is working for.

It seems the Australian Taxation Office Deputy Commissioner Michael Cranston is to be charged in connection with an alleged $165 million tax fraud syndicate. Police have described it as one of the biggest white collar fraud investigations in Australian history.

Among the items seized under proceeds of crime were 25 motor vehicles, including luxury cars and racing cars, 12 motorbikes, 18 residential properties, two aircraft, $1 million from a safe deposit box, firearms, jewellery, bottles of Grange wine and artworks.

All a bit obscene, I think.

4 Health funds are apparently overseen by regulators, including APRA, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission and made $1.4 billion to April 2017. The funds lobbied heavily for the latest 4.8 per cent increase in premiums to battle what it called the “relentless upward curve of health inflation.”

In 2016, the government waved through a 6 per cent increase, with premiums rising a cumulative 28 per cent since 2012.

A bit obscene, I should think.

5 It seems the people building Australia’s high-speed broadband network, the NBN  has 5000 staff, and is spending more on coffee than all other major government departments and agencies, which have a combined total of about 155,000 staff. $447 thousand on coffee.

An obscene use of taxpayer’s money.

6 It seems Anthony Albanese agrees with my thought that That Bill Shorten should have gone in harder with his budgets reply speech. Yes let the people know that the Liberals are pinching Labor policies.

“We should celebrate our victories,” said Albo.

7 Wage growth figures show that we have entered negative real wage growth where wages are not even matching inflation. The cost of living is now soaring.

Yes, that is obscene.

8 Donald Trump now reckons he is the worst treated politician in history. With apologies to the three who were assinated I hope.

Now that is obscene.

9 Cory Bernardi says Liberals flocking to Australian Conservatives. 700 Have signed on. Don’t laugh. Given the size of the Liberal membership that’s a fair chunk.

My thought for the day.

“John Lord wants to write something positive about Australian politics.”

Is that obscene?

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump Report No. 15

Thursday 18  May 2017

Only in America.

Where else in the world would people deliberately elect as their President a man who is an acknowledged racist, sexist, a sexual predator, a homophobe, a xenophobe, a conspiracy theorist, a bully, an imposter, con man and would-be dictator.

This of course raises the obvious question as to why then are people surprised when things go pear-shaped on a daily basis.

A person like Trump, so used to others agreeing with his every word, finding it difficult to accept real world facts. Liars don’t always have good memories and it brings them undone. Trump’s answer to a lie is to tell another or multiples of others so that the preceding ones are diminished or forgotten.

When uttering the words “Donald Trump” we in Australia are apt to cringe for we see a sick, deluded man of no redeeming features. He is a crash through politician with a ubiquitous mouth. One full of racial hatred, bile and misogyny. A deluded, pathetic liar unsuitable for the highest office in the land, if not the world. He is a creature who sees complex problems and impregnates them with populism and implausible black and white solutions.

We ask ourselves how naïve the American people are. Or was it just absent-mindedness that they chose an ignoramus as their President? However, to give them the benefit of the doubt, more likely perhaps, in their own unique way, electing him was a form of protest that went dramatically wrong.

We sit before our televisions and watch his antics and ponder at the gullibility of the American people and say, “only in America.”

From the day he set foot in the White House controversy has followed his every decision. His unpreparedness for the highest office showed up in the disaster that has been his first 100 days. From the selection of his cabinet to his juvenile tweeting.

Following his sacking of FBI director James Comey he then threatened to reveal tapes of his conversations. The man is a thug in the mould of Nixon who taped everything. With Trump we don’t even know if he does tape or just a bluff. It’s how his mind works.

Then according to a set of notes taken by the former FBI director following a February meeting with President Trump, the president brought up the counterintelligence investigation into Michael Flynn, the former national security adviser, and urged Comey to drop the investigation.

Experts say he may have obstructed justice but proving intent would be difficult although Comey’s memo offers a plausible case that the president obstructed justice

It gets more Nixon like all the time. On top of all this we have the saga of Trump legally but not advisedly sharing classified information with the Russian senior statesman Sergei Lavrov. It is alleged that he “boastfully revealed to Russian visitors his knowledge of highly classified reports about threats by the Islamic State.”

He responded to the criticism by his normal method, tweeting that he had an “absolute right” to share facts. That maybe correct but it had made the security agencies hairs stand on end, particularly as it contradicts administration officials who went from denouncing The Washington Post’s report as false to either confirming or declining to challenge nearly every key aspect of the account.

The Oval Office has become like the center of a three-ring circus with Trump the senior clown.

Remember the Twitter assault on Hillary Clinton over her use of emails:

“Crooked Hillary Clinton and her team were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information. Not fit!”

Republicans who called Clinton “reckless” may find themselves in an awkward position in the wake of all these disclosures.

David Brooks writing for The New York Times had this to say:

“At certain times Donald Trump has seemed like a budding authoritarian, a corrupt Nixon, a rabble-rousing populist or a big-business corporatist.

But as Trump has settled into his White House role, he has given a series of long interviews, and when you study the transcripts it becomes clear that fundamentally he is none of these things.

At base, Trump is an infantalist. There are three tasks that most mature adults have sort of figured out by the time they hit 25. Trump has mastered none of them. Immaturity is becoming the dominant note of his presidency, lack of self-control his leitmotif.

First, most adults have learned to sit still. But mentally, Trump is still a seven-year-old boy who is bouncing around the classroom. Trump’s answers in these interviews are not very long – 200 words at the high-end – but he will typically flit through four or five topics before ending up with how unfair the press is to him.

By Trump’s own account, he knows more about aircraft carrier technology than the Navy. According to his interview with The Economist, he invented the phrase “priming the pump” (even though it was famous by 1933). Trump is not only trying to deceive others. His falsehoods are attempts to build a world in which he can feel good for an instant and comfortably deceive himself.”

There are so many shifting lies emanating from the mouth of Trump and because they change direction so many times that it’s hard to keep up but they certainly don’t pass what we Australians call the pub test (trusting one’s instincts). And now he wants to do away with White House media briefings and do them himself every couple of weeks. He is a clown.

Since coming to office some four months ago hardly a day has passed without a tweet contesting the truth as only trump sees it, or a scandal of sorts, or a sacking, or insulting lawmaker, the media or the pushing the boundaries of presidential behaviour.

Impeach the bastard.

Even prominent Republicans like McCain are asking if his erratic behavior and impulsive decisions are threatening his Presidency.

Lawrence Tribe professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School writing for Fairfax:

“Ample reasons existed to worry about this president, and to ponder the extraordinary remedy of impeachment, even before he fired FBI Director James Comey and shockingly admitted on national television that the action was provoked by the FBI’s intensifying investigation into his campaign’s ties with Russia.

Even without getting to the bottom of what Trump dismissed as “this Russia thing”, impeachable offences could theoretically have been charged from the outset of this presidency. One important example is Trump’s brazen defiance of the foreign emoluments clause, which is designed to prevent foreign powers from pressuring US officials to stray from undivided loyalty to the United States. Political reality made impeachment and removal on that and other grounds seem premature.

No longer. To wait for the results of the multiple investigations underway is to risk tying our nation’s fate to the whims of an authoritarian leader.”

As I wrote above; “Trump is a crash through politician with a ubiquitous mouth.” But he remains an incoherent mess who bounces back after each disaster thinking he has been impressive while those around him are laughing their heads off. Entertaining in a uniquely American way he might be to the hillbillies but leadership requires worldly character.

If character is a combination of traits that etch the outlines of life, governing moral choices and personal and professional conduct. Donald Trump is devoid of it. He is nothing more than a walking talking headline for all that’s unscrupulous about American politics.

Character is also an elusive thing, easily cloaked or submerged by the theatrics of a president drowning in his own self-indulgence. His transparency is there for all to see. We sit before our televisions and watch his antics and ponder at the gullibility of the American people and say …

”Only in America.”

My thought for the day.

“Current experience would suggest that the American people need to take more care when electing its leaders.”

 

Day to Day Politics: What if Shorten had … ?

Tuesday 16 May 2017

1 The Crickey Poll bludger analysis of voter intention shows that:

Last week’s Essential Poll had Labor leading the Government 54/46 pre-budget.

Reach TEL polls post-budget had Labor 53/47

Both Newspoll and IPSOS have Labor 53/47

All would indicate that there has been little immediate change on voting intention in the wake of last week’s budget.

So what are we to make of this? Well, the IPSOS poll showed a 2% rise in the Coalition’s fortunes. Other than that voters gave the thumbs up to the four major initiatives (Labor policies) that the Government put forward. Did the punters factor in that Labor owned them?

The four measures tested with voters were a tax increase for Australia’s five largest banks, a 0.5 per cent rise in the Medicare levy linked to funding the National Disability Insurance Scheme, an $18.6 billion, 10-year increase in school funding and a boost to infrastructure spending funded by a larger national debt.”

On education; ”A thumping 86 per cent of all voters supported the policy, with just 12 per cent opposed. Broken down according to party allegiances, 87 per cent of Coalition voters backed the extra spending, while 90 per cent of Labor voters and 91 per cent of Greens voters backed it.”

Now we can all theorise about what all this means and it is but an insight into what the punters are thinking at the time. Therefore, my thoughts on what the polls are saying, and more generally what the populace is reflecting on, is just an opinion.

For me, and based on many years of experience, is the notion that once the rot sets in for a political party it becomes incredibly difficult to shake it off. Now it may also be right that those in the middle ground couldn’t care less about who delivers the polices, so long as they are to their liking. Have the punters stoped listening to the Prime Minister?

However in this case, I believe, supported by the polls is that the electorate have made a judgement on the Government. Firstly, they have concluded that the Abbott Government was a do nothing Government who achieved nothing and his constant commentary on a non-existent legacy constantly reminds them of his negativity.

Secondly, they believe that they were duped by Turnbull into thinking he was something he wasn’t and have regretted it ever since. His hypocrisy and lying now matches that of Abbott.

Thirdly, they understand that the measures proposed in this budget belong to Labor and that they are getting the conservative Clayton’s version of socialism.

Fourthly, they see that both the Liberal and National parties, by demonstration, have no policies of their own and are bankrupt of ideas.

Fifthly, they also see that the Government is prepared to surrender the basic tenants of its ideology to retain power. By adopting Labor policies in the absence of any of their own they have proven beyond doubt that, first and foremost, they are a party of self-interest.

I don’t think I have ever seen a party so obstinately betray its own ideology and deliver a socialist budget. However lite.

Some might say that it’s just smart politics. Over time the polls will contract and Labor will be forced further to the left. Make no mistake: this budget was as much about the remaking of Malcolm as anything else.

Which all brings me to my question: what if after the budget Shorten had taken a different tack? There is no doubt, (and I cannot fathom why Labor never anticipated it) that Labor got caught with its pants down and decided to take, in my view, the negative ”No no, no, they’re not our policies approach”.

”Our policies are the real deal because they spring from our values. They weren’t cooked-up in a panic to try to neutralise a political liability. And the great irony of this budget is that while it doesn’t measure up to our values – it doesn’t keep faith with Coalition values either” (Bill Shorten).

Sure, Shorten’s Budget in Reply speech outlined a litany of coalition blunders, but who was watching?

My point again is, what if he had ripped into them with the truth of it. That they were so bankrupt of ideas that they had to pinch Labor’s, but even then they couldn’t bring themselves to go the whole way. What a bunch of liars and hypocrites they are. After telling us for years that it was only by cutting spending that we could get the budget back in the black. Yes four years of achieving absolutely nothing.

After lying to the public that everything was Labor’s fault because of the debt they left and then without any qualms doubled it. After denying Gonski and equality of opportunity in education and rubbishing Gonski at the time they drag the good man out and pretend that he had done it all for them.

For heaven’s sake, Christopher Pyne, as Education Minister didn’t think his report worthy of reading. What a disaster of a cabinet. Not a decent one among them.

This Prime Minister should be in the Olympic diving team given his expertise in backflips. After wasting four years of our countries progress he has denied the existence of Climate Change by not giving it a mention in the budget.

It’s so typical of the Liberals to abandon their ideology for the sake of its own self-interest. And now totality against their own philosophy they want to fund the NDIS, a policy Shorten was largely responsible for.

Anyway I think you get the gist of what I’m saying. It’s a response I think that might have resonated with the punters more than the approach Shorten elected to take. One that might have painted the government as a hopeless, do nothing, policy bankrupt, a government prepared to plagiarise its opponent’s policies in order to stay in power. And that’s the truth of it.

For me that effect would have a more repetitive ring to it than sort of half agreeing at the margins. They could shout it all the way to the next election, next budget included. Any way as usual your thoughts are appreciated.

An observation.

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

 2 Amnesty International has released expert analysis of photos and video from the Good Friday incident that directly contradicts the official account.

Will he get away with it?

Dutton said the riot was sparked over concerns that a Manusian boy had been able to enter the centre where he was given fruit.

”I think there was concern about why the boy was being led, or for what purpose he was being led, away back into the regional processing centre.”

3 American Express have paid no tax in Australia for the past 9 years.

4 Remember the Liberal Party’s debt truck? Well as Warren Snowdon from the Northern Territory interjected, now it’s a road train. Australia is now heading towards nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars in debt under this Government. Yet they still have $65 billion in spare change to give away to multinational corporations.

My thought for the day.

“When the PM champions innovation is he doing so only for capitalism’s sake?”

 

Day to Day Politics: Dutton still a bloody drongo.

Sunday 14 May 2017

1 Peter Dutton, in his obsession for criticising anyone who disagrees with him this week took it upon himself to give Fairfax media a spray. Even when he has repeatedly been accused of lying over an incident on Manus Island. Remember he has form in the area of free speech. Not so long ago again on the Ray Hadley show he denounced business leaders’ for daring to have a view on gay marriage.

The public didn’t miss the company’s “left-leaning” journalists when they went on strike to protest looming job losses, he said.

The shocking Minister for Immigration was being interviewed by the shocking shock jock from Sydney Ray Hadley (one of many shock jocks who house themselves within the right of politics – left have none, btw) who seems to be in sync with Dutton’s opinion of Fairfax journalists. A glowing reference for the SMH or The Age would not be forthcoming in this interview.

Dutton, the former copper from Queensland has always had problems with opinions other than his own. He thinks free speech can only be spoken by the right.

“I thought the productivity of Fairfax went up last week with the strike. I don’t think lives were affected one way or another,” he said. 

“I think people realise you can live without reading Fairfax newspapers. I think it’s a better way to lead your life – that would be my advice.”

There were “a couple of good journos” at the company, most were “out of touch” and intent on pushing a “political and ideological argument.”

“When they [the journalist] say ‘the Prime Minister has been captured by the right’ or ‘has been playing to the conservative base of the party’ that’s code for this: they’re saying Malcolm Turnbull hasn’t undone the boats policy, he hasn’t allowed the detention centres to close on Manus and Nauru.”

“That’s the one thing that they’re obsessed about. “They believe that already we should’ve had gay marriage or we should’ve had a republic, they can’t believe that somebody like Turnbull is being captured into thinking you continue Operation Sovereign Borders.”

During the strike by journalists it should be noted that Fairfax was praising the budget.

Fairfax Media chief executive officer Greg Hywood put him in his box: “Once again Peter Dutton shows why no one rates him.”

I do, badly.

Dutton’s Cabinet colleague Matt Canavan had this to say:

“I think we are lucky in this country to have a great diversity of media, from the ABC through to Fairfax, the Australian, the Courier Mail, the TVs – I think it would be a sad day if any of those organisations couldn’t continue.”

An observation.

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

I posted this on the same subject a couple of years ago. It addresses journalism on the right of politics.

Of course, you could hear the shouts: “So what. Who reads The Australian?” Well the correct answer is not many. It only has a circulation of about 20,000 in Victoria but the point is that it is the go to publication for the right-wing shock jocks, conservative politicians and the chattering political class. It has enormous political clout and although it loses millions, every year Murdoch props it up because of its influence. It’s the same reason Reinhardt wants a slice of Fairfax. It’s for the influence it would give her. It has been demonstrated in Victoria just how powerful the Herald Sun is. They have been largely responsible for the dismissal of two recent police commissioners.

What it comes down to is what the Australian public is prepared to endure. In a free society where freedom of the press is sacrosanct (as should be diversity) newspaper proprietors should be able to, within reason print what they want and if the journalists want to make idiots of themselves, then that should also be their right. However, it is the sheer avalanche of bias on a daily basis that I object to. When Murdoch owns 70% of print media and with editors like Chris Mitchell, there is no balance and the politically disengaged are therefore unfairly influenced. Now that Fairfax has decided to join them together with a new ABC right-wing policy, it has become decidedly worse. In fact the left no longer has a voice. If it does. It is scarcely a whisper. It has nothing to do with free speech but has everything to do with power and influence.

It is about time someone stood up to the distortions, contradictions and outright lies of the poisonous and extremist Murdoch Empire and mainstream media in general. It is simply not good enough for a democratic Australia and we should all be outraged by it. If the government is unable to get its legislation passed then it shall remain unfinished business. If it does it will probably require refinements at a later date. And there has to be something in it for Murdoch.

And this is what is at the heart of the matter. The real fears of the media proprietors concern the advocates other task being whether future mergers and acquisitions are in the public interest or not. It is not about free speech at all. It is about self-interest.

2 The budget still weighs heavily on our minds and the reason for not including the costs for reaching our Paris Agreement targets is a mystery.

Exactly one year ago I wrote this:

A few days prior to Malcolm Turnbull announcing the election Greg Hunt, the Coalition’s second best liar released modelling by Energetics that he said those who said they couldn’t reach their targets were totality wrong. And he told The Australian Newspaper just that. “Who else?” you might ask.

But Peter Holt, associate at Energetics, told Guardian Australia that the policies would only achieve those reductions with changes – either large funding top-ups to the ERF (estimated by others at least $6bn) or a strengthening of the safeguards mechanism so it turned into a baseline and credit emissions trading scheme.

Which all rather confirms what Turnbull said just a few years ago:

”If you want to cut carbon emissions in a very substantial way to the levels that the scientists are telling us we need to do by mid-century to avoid dangerous climate change, then a direct action policy where … industry was able to freely pollute, if you like, and the government was just spending more and more taxpayers’ money to offset it, that would become a very expensive charge on the budget in the years ahead.”

The ABC also did a fact check on an assumption of Turnbull’s.

The claim: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says that Australia’s emissions reduction target of 26 to 28 per cent of 2005 levels by 2030 is “second only to the emission cuts offered by Brazil” when measured on a per capita basis.

The verdict: Australia’s per capita reductions for 2030 will be 50 to 52 per cent lower than 2005 levels, which is smaller than the 53 per cent per capita reduction Brazil will make over the same time period, but the per capita cuts of Norway, at 57 per cent, and Switzerland, at 60 per cent, are even higher than both Brazil and Australia. Mr. Turnbull is incorrect.

An observation.

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

On Wednesday I received this from Amanda McKenzie CEO of the Climate Council.

On Tuesday night I sat on my couch and waited. And waited. “I was waiting to tick climate change off my budget bingo but I never got the chance. That’s because Scott Morrison delivered his budget speech without a single mention of climate change, the biggest long-term economic threat we face. But, hidden deep within the budget papers was the revelation that the Climate Change Authority had been stripped of almost two-thirds of its funding and confirmation that it will be wound up. The Climate Change Authority is charged with providing independent advice to the government on how to tackle climate change effectively. For example, it provides detailed analysis on what Australia’s emissions reductions should be and pathways for how to meet those targets. The disappearing Climate Change Authority means there will be one less group conducting vital research in Australia. We can’t accurately or effectively mitigate or adapt to climate change without the most up-to-date climate and energy analysis. This continues the Federal government’s pattern of cutting funding to climate research. First it was the Climate Commission, then it was CSIRO, and now the Climate Change Authority is on the cutting block. With the Government spending even less on science, and climate change research, we need to expand our work to ensure the community is informed. Can you chip in and support the future of climate science in Australia? The good news is that concern about climate change is now at the highest levels since 2008 (1). So this is the time to keep pushing. Let’s keep fighting – keeping the government honest and the community informed.”

My thought for the day.

“The original intent of free speech was to give a voice to the oppressed and to keep governments honest. In the United States, the first amendment is now used as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.”

Day to Day Politics: Ignorant bastards, aren’t they?

Saturday 13 May 2017

1 I hardly think it necessary to comment on the picture above. Every picture tells a story.

If the leader of the opposition as some commentators have said has been caught with his pants down then it didn’t show in Shorten’s Budget in reply speech.

Before I comment on it however allow me to digress. In the aftermath of any budget when people of knowledge have had time to peruse it at length, all manner of overlooked things are discovered. Like drug testing welfare recipients

I tend to judge more on the why of things. Was the decision made with the common good in mind or is it just purely political. As this budget was.

What it did highlight for me, now with time on my side, is just how bereft of ideas conservatives are. It was a budget based entirely on the ideas of those who oppose you. Some might say that in itself is a good idea, but it was also one that admitted that the past four years the country had been subjected to woeful governance. Don’t take my word for it just think about the extent to which they have back flipped.

Indeed, what a backflip it was from Scott Morrison who repeatedly told us since becoming Treasurer that we never had a revenue problem we had a spending problem. What a breathtaking turnaround. By inference he even admitted that his lecturing, in your face style hadn’t worked. He has even undergone a personality change.

An observation.

“You don’t tax your way to prosperity.”

The horror 2014 Budget that Tony Abbott still defends is now dead and buried. There will still be many Conservatives who will be livid with Scott Morrison’s Budget and in coming weeks we are likely to see much infighting about the ditching of historical conservative philosophy.

An observation.

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

No more so than ex-leader and failed PM Abbott. The treasurer and Prime Minister have now admitted with, the composition of this budget, that Abbott and the government he led were complete failures. This budget among other things sought to remove all traces of the unfortunate Abbott /Hockey period of economic mismanagement. Abbott’s short term government will be remembered as the “debt and deficit disaster” government. He should just disappear into the past in which he belongs.

Not often I quote Andrew Bolt, but here goes:

Andrew Bolt (11/5/17)  ”Turnbull and the nation are ‘turning Left’ on the basis of insufficient austerity and new tax measures intended to ameliorate the deficit. In reality, however, Turnbull is hitting students and the unemployed hard. Students on half the minimum wage will pay thousands; and disadvantaged job seekers will have to exhaust their meagre savings before receiving Newstart only after a waiting period of 6 months.  Despite this the Budget does move the Government closer to the relative economic centre in the sense that overall cuts are ameliorated by comparison with the disastrous Hockey Budget of 2014.  And there is finally acceptance that there was ‘a revenue problem’. Ironically, the ”Abbott Purists” will likely claim the austerity has not gone far enough. Though they may be upset by the attacks on Catholic education.”

Would Abbott, Bolt and others have us drift into a US style scenario with a class of utterly destitute, and a class of working poor? It seems so.

Now back to Bill Shorten.

Shorten as I have previously said is not an orator but when you think about it neither were Abbott or Howard, but he has backbone. His best line was when he quipped how the PM and his colleagues were ”politely following this debate” when they all looked intoxicated and were ignorantly doing their best to ignore every word.

But oh well, after all, they were born to rule.

Shorten did however stay on script. Even after Turnbull had sought to take the middle ground by raiding bank profits, reinforcing Medicare, securing the NDIS, and building economy-enhancing infrastructure Shorten didn’t drop a line.

He did, even if the acting was bad, deliver his lines in rapid succession underling the many differences between the two parties. And this is true. Shorten spoke of conviction and values arguing that Turnbulls efforts to step into enemy controlled policy territory lacked sincerity and passion.

Despite Turnbull’s controversial attack on the big banks, with which he agreed, he insisted on still having a Royal Commission. And so far as the banks passing on the cost he  declared that if any bank passes on a dollar from the new tax, it should be the end of the PM and his treasurer.

When he latches on to the meat on an argument he displays his best and most forceful qualities. This was so when in the afternoon’s question time he was handed a gift when the Treasurer admitted that the planned tax cuts to business would cost an extra $15 billion. Mind you it has to be said that both parties are playing around with the issue knowing that the tax hikes will never pass the Senate.

Never the less he ridiculed the Treasury modelling as a pittance for workers: “We’re talking about an extra $2 a day … in 20 years’ time,” he said, contrasting “$65 billion for big business and ten bucks a week for workers in 2027.”

An observation.

”The problem is that Capitalism does not allow for an even 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.”

If Shorten and the party he leads were supposed to show fright by the conservative’s overnight appropriation of the middle ground of Australian politics then it didn’t show in Shortens often aggressive speech.

He may be taking a risk of ”class warfare” with his Medicare proposal to only levy people in the top two tax brackets. Together with Labor’s decision to keep the budget repair levy, it will be game on to win the political argument about budget fairness.

The tax rises will be used to frame the Coalition as more concerned about millionaires than the middle class.

2 It now seems that the funds the Government was going to loan Adani and they said they didn’t need, are now a requirement for the project going ahead.  It seems to me that with the mine likely to take some years to start production and renewable energy technology moving ahead at the speed of light why would any lending institution risk lending to an industry heading in the opposite direction.

3 From an article in The New York Times about the development of our internet:

”After a Liberal-led coalition was elected in 2013, that party looked for ways to contain costs and speed up the rollout. They focused on what in the telecommunications industry is called “the last mile” — the wires that connect a home or business with the broader network. While the National Broadband Network initially envisioned high-speed fiber connecting homes and businesses directly to the network, the Liberal-led effort compromised by connecting them with existing copper wire — basically, the same technology used in the earliest days of the telephone”.

I told you he would get away with it.

My thought for the day.

”Friends may leave your presence but their impression remains’.’

PS: It wasn’t just the intoxicating voice of Mark Colvin that kept one immersed in his subject. It was more likely his intelligence and stature among his peers.

 

Day to Day Politics: Coalition pays tribute to Labor policy.

Thursday 11 May 2017

After four years of denial Scott Morrison has finally admitted that the Government actually did have a revenue problem. Just when he went through this cathartic experience is unknown. Further, in the absence of any ideas of his own, he conceded that Labor did, and the easiest way around his economic problems was simply to steal Labor’s.

And in an openly fraudulent manner he did just that and put paid to the 2014 budget and all the slime that Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey attached to it. This budget has successfully isolated Abbott and his merry band of far right conservatives. It sets out to remove any memory of Abbott’s Government.

It remains to be seen if they will lay down and accept defeat. How Abbott responds in defence of his 2014 worst ever budget will be interesting.

For Turnbull it remains to be seen if this Budget efficaciously recasts him as the moderate he purported to be when he challenged Abbott. But once the populace gains an impression of a government and, once locked on that impression, they don’t want to budge.

I cannot imagine that with only a one seat majority that the Christiansens of this world will not stir the pot in some sort of self-indulgent manner.

How will the average punter see what has been presented? Will they react with disgust at the waste of four years in the life of the nation where Abbott and Turnbull have governed so ineffectively?

A government who told us that only the conservatives knew how to manage money. It was in their DNA, yet they managed to double Labor’s debt. Their naivety, after delivering the 2014 disaster in thinking that a hostile Senate would pass the bulk of the draconian measures that stripped benefits away from the unemployed, slashed education spending and imposed a co-payment for each visit to the doctor was laughable.

At least we can be satisfied that the horrors of that misguided budget have been expunged. The fact, contrary to the thoughts of some political diehards, is that the LNP have been dreadful managers of our money.

Will they just forgive and forget saying that Malcolm has turned around a Government so badly of touch. Yes, he was the man we thought he was. One so smart that he could steal Labor policies and get away with it. Make no mistake, this budget is as much about the remaking of Malcolm as anything else.

Are the punters smart enough to see the political games they have been subjected to during the Coalitions term in office? Their brutal onslaught on Labor when in office. The ”debt and disaster” and ”fiscal emergency” years. The accusations that Labor were a big taxing, high spending party.

With this budget they have morphed themselves into just that by using socialist policies. In my time following politics I don’t think I have ever seen a party so obstinately betray its own ideology and deliver a socialist budget.

Writing for Fairfax Mark Kenny agrees:

”Where Labor offered a guarantee on Medicare, needs-based school funding, curbs on excessive greed in the big banks, and imaginative nation-building infrastructure, it now finds itself up against a government committed more-or-less to these very things.

The comprehensiveness of the Coalition’s ideological retreat marks arguably the largest systematic reversal in recent political history. In area after area, the Turnbull government has adopted its opponent’s arguments.”

Whilst in one way it is enormously complimentary, in another, Labor and Bill Shorten, are hardly in a position to gloat. The rug has been pulled from beneath them.

So what do we make of this budget now that the Government has conceded we have a revenue problem?

It has decided to raise taxes. Make no mistake. This Government has gone down the path of high taxes. The banks have been subjected to a $6.2 billion tax – something Labor has wanted to do for years. The banks can afford it, but the big question is will they pass it on? My guess is that they will.

You could hardly argue against the Medicare levy to fund Labor’s NDIS.

Again they are promising a surplus by 2020-21 funded by the normal mix of optimistic revenue growth and a still higher than average tax-to-GDP ratio.

However, as Adam Creighton points out in The Australian:

”Treasury forecasts in the May 2017 Budget must be taken with a large grain of salt, particularly on the revenue side. It overestimated the amount of revenue it will collect from taxpayers in eight out of the last nine years. Treasury expects tax receipts to increase from $A405.7 billion in 2017 to $A496 billion in 2020, or from 23.2 per cent of GDP to 25 per cent. Its forecasts will have to be highly accurate if its prediction of a Budget surplus of $A7.4 billion in 2021 is to come true.”

Turnbull has successfully isolated Medicare, schools, banks, public investment and housing affordability leaving Bill Shorten and Chris Bowen to argue in degrees. It is a less compelling argument. Maybe they should adopt the “you thieving bastards’’ one. An after effect of Turnbull’s isolationist strategy may result in pushing Labor further to the left.

We have to live within our means Morrison has warned us. Will the anti-debtors of the right in the LNP accept the truckloads delivered in this budget?

Incidentally, what happened to the environment, jobs and growth, equality, real wages, job security, homelessness, poverty?  Is it possible that Malcolm got the nod from Donald that America was going to opt out of the Paris climate agreement and that’s why it didn’t rate a thought. Whatever happened to the once champion of climate change?

On this day last year I wrote this:

A GPs are certainly not happy with the government’s plan to trying to enforce a GP co-payment by stealth by extending the freeze on Medicare rebates for another two years, saving them almost a billion dollars and forcing doctors to put their prices up. Posters are going up in every waiting room in the nation warning patients of the government’s plans. The bastards would privatise the Parliament if they had half the chance.

B How could anyone seriously vote for a party that has performed so pathetically – that has so many unfair policies? Firstly with a leader in Tony Abbott who was nothing more than a grubby uncouth loudmouth gutter politician. Secondly, in the short time he has been in the job Malcolm Turnbull has proven to be the most hypocritical Prime Minister in our history. A party full of obnoxious liars with a ‘right to rule’ attitude. A party that has been in power for three years and on the eve of an election finally tells the country that it has a plan.

C A party that argues it is the one better placed to govern for the next three years when it hasn’t done so for the past three. A party that has wasted three years into which nothing will be recorded by political historians as being worthwhile.

A party who boasts a plan for growth and jobs while there are more people looking for work now than at any time in the past twenty years. A plan three years in the making. Are the people of Australia really going to reward such abysmal governance with another term? Surely not.

A party that thinks climate change is an invention of the left to replace communism.

I had better stop there, my fingers are cramping.

D Why reward a bad government with another three years? It’s tantamount to giving your approval to do the same thing again. You wouldn’t do that to your children.

My thought for the day.

“The young celebrate their youth and the old get their satisfaction by dreaming of the way things once were.”

 

Day to Day Politics: Pre-budget Polls.

Wednesday 10 May 2017

1 Whilst you are all, this morning, foraging through details of the budget looking for any benefit you might have gained, or indeed lost, it is important not to lose sight of the other things happening around us.

For example, yesterday’s Guardian/Essential Poll reveals Labor charging further ahead of the Coalition: 54/46 TPP. This has now opened the gap to 8 percentage points.

The polling took place after the Government revealed its plans for higher education.

56% disapproved of the proposal to reduce university funding by $2.8 billion, and only 28% approved. Those most likely to disapprove were Greens voters (80% disapprove), ALP voters (69%) and those with a university degree (65%). Those most likely to approve were Liberal/National voters (45% approve) those aged 65+ (40%) and males (34%).

60% disapproved of the proposal to increase student fees, and only 30% approved. Those most likely to disapprove were Greens voters (84% disapprove), ALP voters (73%) and those aged 18-24 (71%). Those most likely to approve were Liberal/National voters (51% approve) and those aged 65+ (46%).

47% approved of the proposal to require students to repay their loan earlier, and 44% disapproved. Those most likely to approve were those aged 65+ (68% approve), Liberal/National voters (67%) and other party/independent voters (57%). Those most likely to disapprove were Greens voters (68% disapprove) and those aged 18-24 (59%).

It could well be that the rot has really and truly set in and no matter what a party does nothing will move the vote.

Good article by Laurie Oakes on Saturday saying the catholic school funding issue was mishandled. Could cancel any boost in the polls related to the budget.

On the question How important is it that the Government returns the budget to surplus? 

71% thought that returning the budget to surplus was important. Those most likely to think this were Liberal/National voters (87% important), those earning over $104,000 (78%) and those working full-time (76%).

19% thought that returning the budget to surplus was not important. Those most likely to think this were Greens voters (43% not important) and ALP voters (28%).

Herein lies the problem for the Coalition. There is some justification for good and bad debt but their base has always been opposed to debt per se.

2 So did the budget find the $6 billion necessary to fund the NDIS and what suffered for it to do?

3 Philip Coorey wrote in the AFR that the Australian Government’s May 2017 Budget is tipped to forecast a surplus in 2020-21. However, ratings agency Moody’s Investors Service has doubts regarding the Government’s ability to meet this target, as well as the economic growth forecasts in the Budget. Marie Diron of Moody’s says the firm will consider all aspects of the Government’s Budget consolidation policy over the next five years. She adds that the Australian economy’s trend growth is unlikely to be any higher than 2.75 per cent.

And the answer is?

4 Not a bad idea. Demerit system for welfare recipients. Lose 20 points for every missed interview. Start out with 100 points a year. So can only afford to miss 5 interviews a year?

5 The Labor advert featured no Australians from ethnic background. Accidental or deliberate? Either way not acceptable. Shorten has to take responsibility.

Albanese was certainly giving him a warning.

6 Do we need a publicly funded national newspaper? “No” would be my answer.

7 Did today’s budget focus on spending? We are leaving a substantial debt to future generations. What has the government done about it? More tomorrow.

8 Gone very quiet. Aboriginal recognition referendum. And I might add the parliamentary enquiry into expenses.

9 Shorten said foreign aid is the best form of national security.

10 A pre-budget prediction. The Medicare levy will be increased.

Now I can get onto the budget.

My thought for the day.

“Are you really doing what is important. What you believe in, or have you just adjusted to what you are doing”.

 

Day to Day Politics: What me biased, really?

1 Around this time last year I received a message from a friend on Facebook. It went something like this:

”John, despite me being a lefty, I’m waiting for you to say something positive about the government. Surely there must be something. Try and be more non-biased, please.”

I replied:

Andrea, there was a time when the LNP had some soul. People like Fraser and a few others still carried the residue of true Liberalism. The small  ”L” types. It was a time when I thought that losing an election wasn’t the end of the world. That if you believed in democracy then you had to respect the other party’s right to win.

However Abbott and Turnbull have taken them so far right that I cannot see any redeeming features what so ever. I am sitting thinking about policy areas and I cannot think of anything positive to say. Fact is I cannot think of one positive thing to say about The Coalition. They have governed abominably.

Their denial of climate change appals and infuriates me and their opposition to equality of opportunity in anything and everything simply disgusts me.

I’m sorry to disappoint. I will try harder because I am not generally speaking, biased. At least I don’t think I am. Perhaps it’s just that I love my country too much and it shows.

She replies:

”To be honest I agree with a lot of what you say, but I’m trying to also look for the good in the bad and bad in the good, if you know what I mean. So I guess what I’ve seen of your posts has been looking a little like the flip-side of a Murdoch-type Liberal bias. However like you said you’ve tried hard to find something positive in the Libs and haven’t been able to find anything, so that’s fair enough.”

Well if I were replying to Andrea now, I could manage a degree of positivity in so much as on budget eve the Coalition has developed a liking for Labor Party policy and indeed has adopted many to the point of appearing positively socialist. All of these decisions have been made, not because the Coalition believes in them, but rather to counter Labor’s popularity in them

Now Andrea’s suggestion that I am biased has made me take a longer walk than normal to do some critical self-analysis.

Music has always held a special place in my heart. I have a collection of over 600 CDs and 150 live concert DVDs. I play piano (badly) and have composed a number of songs. I have no bias to any particular genre of music and appreciate it all.

Books are like children to me and I have a family of hundreds. I treat them with a fatherly love but I show no bias or favour to any. I have read the political thoughts of Hasluck, Menzies, Howard and Costello and many others on the right. Again my reading has no bias. Fiction and text books comfortably interchange.

In the AFL I support two teams, so I could hardly be called biased. And I have played a variety of sports.

But of course my friend is referring to ‘political bias’. So It got me thinking about what political bias actually is.

I would say it is either an inability or unwillingness to want to understand an opposing point of view.

In my defence on that count I plead not guilty. I have studied conservative ideology and rejected it. I have studied current conservative policy from Climate Change to the NBN and rejected it all. Not because of any biased view, but rather because I have studied each on its merits. A biased person rejects everything out of hand and is incapable of objective reasoning. Anyway I will let others judge. Who knows, next thing someone will say I’m a communist and that Karl Marx’s grave is a communist plot.

2. In terms of the Budget this is what we know:

Education: University fees will rise and Graduates will have to pay back loans earlier.

School funding will follow the Gonski model with a lot less funding than Labor proposed.

Infrastructure: There will be funding for Badgery’s Creek Airport, roads, rail including the Inland Rail.

Housing: The Government has promised to reveal their answer to the housing affordability problem.

Health: The Medicare rebate freeze is likely to end. Savings on generic drugs.

Welfare: New measures to ensure welfare recipients are looking for work and meeting their so-called “mutual obligations”.

A trial program restricting Centrelink recipients from purchasing liquor, gambling or withdrawing cash.

Legal: Restoration of funding to legal aid. Possible increased funding to family court.

Tax. Petroleum Resource Rent Tax Oil and gas companies to lose generous tax deductions.

Companies with a turnover of $50million to get a tax cut.

We’re likely to see the figures on the so-called “Google tax”, which was passed in April and could recoup $2 billion in revenue.

Media: Gambling advertising to be outlawed before 8.30.

The $130-million annual license fee for broadcasters will be scrapped in favor of a $40-million spectrum fee.

Veterans Affairs: $350million to help prevent suicide among war veterans.

Security: $321 million to fund an expansion of the AFP. Up to 300 personnel are expected to be hired, including negotiators, tactical response officers, bomb squad technicians and forensic specialists.

Industry: $100 million funding package for manufacturing, aimed at Victoria and South Australia which have suffered the brunt of the demise of car-making.

What won’t happen? University deregulation, borrowing on super for house deposits, changes to negative gearing and no reform of GST.

Whoops almost forgot. Pensioners are to get a few dollars to help with a large increase in energy bills.

So the question is, where is all the money is coming from? All the sweeteners have been revealed (I think) but what cuts will be made to pay for them. How is the proposed $50billion in tax cuts being funded?

Here we have a government who when in opposition had the audacity to say that Labor had given the country the worst debt and deficit problem the country had ever faced yet in office have doubled the debt. And now after rejecting any form of large scale infrastructure spending have had a change of mind and yet again are borrowing Labor policies.

Albeit clayton images of them. They seem to be in an awful hurry to show that fairness is in their political DNA. And all this debt. There was a time when conservatives wouldn’t countenance spending of this sort. They would be shaking their heads in horror.

All in all they have governed appallingly, achieved nothing yet are asking the people to take them in good faith. They still haven’t recovered from their ill-fated 2014 world’s unfairest budget. Meanwhile the country has just drifted on with a bunch of incompetent, yet well-educated fools running the place without knowing their right foot from their left.

My thought for the day.

”Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it. Faith is the residue of things not understood and can never be a substitute for fact.”

PS: I will be glued to the ABC at 7.30 tomorrow. If I’m biased let me know.

 

Day to Day Politics: The three lying fools.

Sunday 7 May 2017

1 There they sat. The three of them. A likeness for lying fusing them together like kindred spirits in a society of conservative fools. One the President of the United States with little knowledge of the things that consent to the moral and lawful functioning of a society other than the individuals pursuit of wealth.

The one in the middle a media slut who has made his wealth from titillation and fake news. In Australia it is difficult to win office without his support. And the other, a subservient intellect of them both. A man prepared to forgo his principles and his country’s well-being for the sake of power.

These and others like them are what we define as leaders. Donald Trump likes to describe himself as a big history fan. Well that’s what he told Time magazine.

Jack Holms writing in Esquire Magazine:

”President Trump’s American history credentials have rarely been questioned, except by anyone who knows even a modicum of history. So it was surprising on Monday when the president flubbed his take on the Civil War: the whole thing could have been avoided; President Andrew Jackson was upset by the war even though he died 16 years before it began; and why didn’t anyone stop it, anyway? The incident prompted The New York Times to re-examine the president’s past issues with history, including when he thought Frederick Douglass was still alive, and the time he bought a “fixer-upper” golf course that was once home to a Civil War battle site. Sort of.”

What I’m getting at here is quality of leadership. If you read the full article it will occur to you that Trump cannot even get his history right. In fact he gets things wrong on a regular basis.

On Turnbull’s trip to the US, ostensibly to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Coral Seal battle, the Australian Prime minister went out of his way to embarrassingly, with a now permanent smile fall over the ‘’we are family, Donald”.

The Prime Minister’s behaviour could only be described as cringe worthy. His perpetual grin had him looking like if Trump were to ask him to bow, he would have. Imagine Paul Keating in his place. I don’t know about you, but as an Australian I felt a little put off by his demeanour.

Then, showing not an iota of compassion or strength of character, to disagree with the maniacal patriarch he congratulated the President on his win in the Congress on the repeal of ”Obamacare.” What a disgrace.

”I got to say, it’s always satisfying to win a vote when people predict you’re not going to win it too. So keep at it, it’s great.”

He had to know that in saying this that the vote would mean the loss of insurance to around 25 million of America’s lowest paid workers. All it was, was a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.

”Labor’s shadow minister for health and Medicare Catherine King said the prime minister was praising a bill that will could lead to thousands of Americans losing their healthcare and “will take away the requirement for health insurers to cover people with ‘pre-existing conditions’ – such as diabetes, autism or cancer.”

At the meet and greet, the foot in mouth President who doesn’t even know his country’s history told Prime Minister Turnbull “you have better health care than we do.”

”We have a failing healthcare.”

Bernie Sanders couldn’t believe his luck:

Well Mr President, you’re right, in Australia and every other major country on Earth they guarantee health care to all people. They don’t throw 24 million people off health insurance. So maybe when we get to the Senate we should start off with looking at the Australian health care system.”

“Thank you Mr Trump for admitting that universal health care is the better way to go,” Mr Sanders later tweeted.

The Trump and Turnbull comments were repeatedly played on US cable TV news networks and is doing the rounds on social media in Australia. Dare I say it but I predict some fake news from Fox news. What contradictory fools they have made of themselves.

All of which goes to show just how little intelligence our leaders have. And to think that one has his finger on the nuclear button.

On this day in 2016 I wrote:

An observation.

”Telling the truth should not be delayed simply because we are not sure how people might react to it.”

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer over the past few days have been attacking Labor alleging that it is practicing class warfare and the politics of envy. Morrison says that voters were “over the us and them” approach to governing. He is correct but who is really waging this so-called war? I don’t see the middle and lower classes up in arms over their treatment. But I do see the wealthy and the super-rich getting cranky every time there is a threat to their privilege. Or at the suggestion that they should contribute more to the public coffers.

In fact never in the history of this nation have the rich and the privileged been so openly brazen about their economic self-righteousness.

An observation.

”This Governments performance over its time in office has been like a daily shower of offensiveness raining down on society.”

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey said people trying to afford a good home should get a good job. In an interview with Melbourne Radio Host Jon Faine in which the PM suggested he (Faine) should be helping his kids with the cost of a house. He seemed to be indicating that all you needed was rich parents.

Bill Shorten retorted in Parliament saying:

Is that really the Prime Minister’s advice for young Australians struggling to buy their first home? Have rich parents.”

Turnbull had purchased a $2.7 million penthouse, with knockout views of the harbor and city skyline, in 2008 for his then aged 23 daughter, Daisy Turnbull Brown.

My thought for the day.

”Life is about doing things. Not having things.”

PS: Antony Green says the next federal election probably September-October 2018.

 

Day To Day Politics: The Catholics won’t let it happen.

Saturday 6 May 2017

1 At this time last year Leigh Sales got it right when she asked the Treasurer; “What was the point of your three years in office?” On the eve of an election it was a relevant question to ask a government who in order to gain office accused the Government of the day of absolute carnage in terms of running the economy. And then proceeded to double the debt of the Government it so condemned.

On the eve of the 2017/18 budget the question by Leigh Sales remains unanswered. Most governments of whatever persuasion can name at least one policy area where they have made the life of the folk they govern, better.

Gillard can lay claim to introducing the NDIS which although still in its infancy will, in the future, be looked on as an international masterpiece of progressive legislation for those with disabilities.

Abbott and Turnbull cannot lay claim to a single major policy that has contributed to the economic advancement or social fabric of the nation.

Having said that, is it possible that the Coalition, or more particularly the Prime Minister, has finally seen the light and is making a tectonic shift by recognizing fairness, equity and equality. Or is it just a ruse?

“All of us were driven by a sense of fairness and wanting to make sure that there’s an equitable degree of opportunity for all students regardless of their background. Yes, that’s fundamental to me … but I can’t say that it was me alone driving the fairness equation. It was one that certainly Malcolm shared and ultimately the cabinet was driven by too.’’

These are the words used by the Education Minister when introducing his government’s education policy. I have no doubt that his words are sincere and deliberate. He is after all from a public school background.

However the last seven words of his statement worry me: “ultimately the cabinet was driven by too.”

It well may be that Birmingham and Turnbull know that the word ‘unfairness’ is a word that spells danger to them.

Now I’m not privy to cabinet discussions but I find it difficult to believe that all the Catholic Ministers would be pleased with a policy that takes away the right to choose the school your kids attend or indeed in reducing funding to schools of which your core supporters attend.

Already the troops are gathering for an almighty fight on this one and there are many Catholics willing to lay down their cross in a fight to the end. And they will be ably led by former PM Tony Abbott.

All the pre-budget announcements so far, from the reinstatement of Legal Aid Services to Gonski to good and bad debt to probably lifting the Medicare rebate and protecting Australian jobs are all designed to change the ‘unfairness’ image the electorate has of the Coalition. That it unfairly goes after the poor, the sick, the old and the young. It is out of touch, elitist and protects its mates in big business.

As Kristina Keneally puts it in a piece for The Guardian:

“If all this keeps up, Turnbull could go down in history as the biggest spending, biggest taxing, most socialist prime minister in modern times. Or maybe in all of federation. (I’m getting carried away with the headiness of it all.)”

I suspect there might be a revolt of sorts from the more conservative Catholic backbench MPs who will be absolutely horrified at all this socialist stuff that the PM is talking about.

2 Enter Tony Abbott giving yet another lecture on how he saw his party. In a speech to the WA Branch of the party he spoke about Labor being captured by identity politics. By individuals identifying with singular issues.

He said his party needed to be less a party of management and more a party of values if it wanted to appeal to disaffected voters.

The point here is that they have always been a managerial party but never one of values and most certainly never one of ideas.

“When it’s not making excuses for militant unions or welfarism, Labor is consumed by the Green left’s theology of climate change and identity,” Abbott said.

One might respond by saying that a leader who wanted to destroy the internet and called cimate change “crap” without the slightest idea of what it was about, really isn’t qualified to opine.

He said it was good “the government is not further funding the insidious and corrupting so-called Safe Schools program which is social-engineering masquerading as anti-bullying.”

Yet it was a program he and his cabinet passed with the full knowledge of its contents. Honestly, he still lies as he always has.

Earlier in the day, during a public outing, he warned that the Government’s Gonski funding reforms would face a vigorous debate in the party room. At least he is right about that. There will have to come a time when Turnbull confronts him. There isn’t enough room in the party for both of them.

3 The story of the boy on Manus Island continues to grow legs with the ABC’s Barry Cassidy unearthing an as yet unnamed informant who suggests that Immigration Minister Peter Dutton has misrepresented the facts around a shooting at the Manus Island detention center for political advantage, and has alleged that Border Force staff are being asked to “become politically biased”. You can see a video on the ABC Facebook page.

I’m still suggesting he will get off scot free.

My thought for the day.

“We experience happiness so that we might better understand sorrow and we experience sorrow so that we might better comprehend joy.”

PS: As I finish writing my attention is drawn to the fact that our Prime Minister has formerly congratulated the President of the United Stated for taking the first step of seeing 25 million low-paid workers have their health care taken from them and the money transferred to the rich.

He ain’t the man we thought he was. Beware of Turnbull spruiking bullshit.

 

Day to Day Politics: Dutton is getting away with murder.

Tuesday 3 May 2016

1 Ian McPhee is a mild-mannered, former Immigration Minister and man of ethical behaviour who served in the Fraser Government. One who Peter Dutton could well do to take lessons in civility and manners from. In a report by Liberty Victoria’s Rights Advocacy Project McPhee said he was ”disgusted by the power accorded to current ministers regarding the lives of people fleeing persecution”.

Peter Dutton has sweeping and unchecked powers that are beyond the review of courts, are unjust and “un-Australian” and must be wound back, the former immigration minister has said.

The comments, by the former immigration minister come in a report that has examined the discretionary powers of immigration ministers and found them to be dramatically increasing, and adversely affecting asylum seekers.

”Ministers now exercise power that is mostly beyond the review of judges,” he said. “Such power should be exercised humanely and in accordance with morality, not absolute law’.’

”The law and its practice is now unjust. It is un-Australian.”

Current powers include various discretions to approve, refuse, or cancel visas, to detain or re-detain an asylum seeker without warning, to send asylum seekers to offshore detention centres and, in some cases, prevent reviews of decisions not to grant protection visas.

To make matters worse there are two bills before the Parliament that would give this obnoxious character even more power.

These powers, the RAP said, would further allow an immigration minister to “play god”.

Rather, the minister is empowered to an alarming degree to make decisions based upon his whim, with scant regard for due process.”

I”t’s just appalling the situation that has arisen,’ he said. “I don’t know how anyone like Morrison or Dutton can be proud of what they’re doing. It’s against the Australian idea of a fair go”

Another author of the report Lauren Bull said:

Under Australian law, no other minister – not even the prime minister – is given anywhere near as much unchecked power.”

”This is an astonishing development of unchecked discretionary power considering that in 1989 there were only three comparable public interest based discretionary powers and, prior to that, there were none whatsoever.”

Unfortunately when you have a ”born to rule” government with a ”my way” attitude then this is the sort of disregard for civil liberties and the rule of law you can expect.

Talking about Dutton, I predicted last week that he would get away with his lies about the men and a boy on Manus Island. I’m still thinking the same.

2 It is only four years ago that the then Opposition leader Tony Abbott, with the use of language more befitting a prophet predicting the end of the world, described the health of the Australian economy thus: Disaster, catastrophe, failure, debacle, fiasco, shambles and many other words were repeated and repeated ad nauseam. Over time, Hockey, Abbott then Morrison doubled the debt. Having done so the government still continues to blame Labor for all their woes. Hockey and Morrison have proven to be ineffectual Treasurers. Now returning to a surplus isn’t important anymore. We can have good or bad debt, take your choice.

All the talk around the budget today seems to center on the fact that this is not your usual budget. This one has a plan attached, or a blueprint for good and bad debt. The Treasurer Scott Morrison has stated many times that we don’t have a revenue problem but a spending one. That implicitly implies that there will be a lot of pain if he has budget repair in mind. Of course, none of this has been leaked but it will come out in the wash. If you want to cut massively there are only three areas in which you can do it. Education health and social services. Well, there is a fourth if you add in subsidies to mining companies and tax breaks for the rich and privileged. Already noises are being made by the backbench about money being taken from private schools.

Just backtracking on the plan thing, I would like a quid for every time I have heard Abbott, Morrison or Turnbull say that ”only the Coalition has a plan”. Indeed, I would be a wealthy man. It seems it is one of those plans that needed a lot of planning before becoming one. Almost four years in fact. There were of course other plans but they seem to have been discarded along the way. They only now seem to be addressing issues they could have rectified years ago.

Remember all of Turnbull’s grandiose talk of Tax Reform promised to be the most talked about one for many a year. Everything was on the table and then off it. The waiters didn’t know their right hand from their left. Morrison promised much but was has delivered nothing.

The Budget Repair Levy on earners over $180,000 will end as scheduled, on June 30, 2017 meaning high income earners will get a double wammy tax cut. University students are set to pay a greater proportion of fees, which might be capped. Tobacco will cost more which is in line with Labor’s policy. And there is a new dental scheme which on the surface is a new money-saving one.

The rhetoric behind the budget will be the oft-repeated one of jobs and growth, as the economy transitions. Which I might add is just rhetoric for two reasons. One, there are more people looking for work now than any other time in the past twenty years.

Two, there is no evidence that we are successfully transitioning our economy. Oh I forgot about innovation. It will again be championed despite the anti-innovation sacking hundreds of scientists and building the world’s 63rd slowest internet. Deterring the young from attending university by raising fees. Not to mention a Claytons reform of the Gonski proposals on education. And not to mention the Governments ambivalence to Climate Change.

And on jobs and growth let me quote Stephen Koukoulas of the Guardian:

”In terms of jobs and growth, the ABS data shows that average quarterly GDP growth and average monthly increases in employment are historically stronger when Labor has been in government compared with the Coalition”.

”I recently analysed the rates of GDP and employment growth under Labor and Liberal governments. The data were based on the 43-year period since December 1972 when the Labor Whitlam government was elected. This meant, quite neatly, that there was around 21 and a half years of data for Labor governments and around the same for Liberal governments”.

Tuesday’s budget will have everything to do with the Government’s re-election and little else.

The propaganda attached to this budget will be Turnbull, Morrison and others trying to convince Australia that the past four years have been an aberration.

3 As I mentioned there already appears to be some dissention within the Coalition over the proposed cuts to private school education. MPs fear it will affect the party’s voter base. Government schools totaling 9,000 are to receive increased funding under a needs based funding model. Catholic schools have warned that parents will face higher fees, while some may be forced to close.

Given the history of the party room on other matters it may not even pass a vote. What an embarrassment that would be for the PM.

My thought for the day.

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

 

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