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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.

Tis not the season to be jolly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The problem is that the wrong party is in power!

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

 

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The Greens say that with the benefit of hindsight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hayne said that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pat Conroy went on to say that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

 

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George Christensen and other secrets. What do you think?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Has the parliamentary committee who oversee such matters questioned him?

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

There is, however, another source of possible revenue.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Then when I read that Tony Abbott himself said that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

He went on to say:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jones went on to say that:

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

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

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

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

Jones continued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

Enough said.

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I have nothing but contempt for Scott Morrison

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this case the latter must apply.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But enough of my emotion.

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

My thought for the day

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

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Politically illiterate, or just plain dumb

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

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

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

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

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

Now, on with the week that was:

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

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

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

And Katharine Murphy in The Guardian surmised that:

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

Given what was involved that was very sloppy indeed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’re itching to win next time – and so

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

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

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

In solidarity,

Anthony”

3 Who said this about whom and why?

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

Find out here.

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

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

Seems to have worked for me.

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

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

6  In The Guardian I read that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some cannot even pay people what they are supposed to.

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

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

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

That’s why diversity really matters”

You can read the article here.

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

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

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Impeaching the President: 5 possibilities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are five possibilities.

1) A formal impeachment vote is never pursued

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

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

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

Chance of this happening?

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

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

Chance of this happening?

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

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

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

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

3) The House votes to impeach, the Senate acquits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chance of this happening?

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

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

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

4) The House votes to impeach, the Senate convicts

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

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

Chance of this happening?

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

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

5) Trump steps down (aka the Nixon approach)

This could happen at any time. Or never.

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

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

Chance of this happening?

Probably never as the facts stand at the moment.

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

Now about Mike Pence. What do we know?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pence’s most

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

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

Pence is on the record as saying that:

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

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

His speech also contained the surprising and misleading claim that:

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

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

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

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

My thought for the day

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

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It wasn’t a miracle at all

When you criticise the election loss of the party you support and you do so without the benefit of any internal analysis, then your critique must be flawed to some degree.

I have recently written two such critiques. The first, “The Bill that Australia despised” was an attempt to describe the depth of untrustworthiness the public had for the Labor leader. In it I said that:

My view nevertheless wasn’t that of the majority of Australians. More than enough hated him for reasons beyond my understanding to make the difference between winning and losing.

In a couple of weeks a small group of Laborites will report on why Labor lost to such a group of pathetic individuals unfit to govern our great nation. They will come up with a multitude of reasons, but Shorten probably wont be on the top.

In my second piece, “Is Labor doomed for oblivion, or can Albo mount a comeback?” I wrote:

A leak, however, from the committee appointed to reason why Labor lost, seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Shorten.

It is now almost 6 months since Labor experienced its night of soul-destroying darkness. All the untruths and scares told by a prodigious teller of fabrication by Morrison wasn’t enough to unseat him.

The accrued mistrust of Shorten together with union association and unpopularity reigned supreme over the lies and scare campaigns of the Coalition. It must have run deep.

 Now I know it wasn’t a miracle at all. There were perfectly good explanations,

And so the report by Labor luminaries Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill saw the light of day on Thursday 7 November.

That Bill Shorten was one of the three reasons nominated by them as the reasons for Labor’s loss came as no surprise.

That Labor went into the contest with no documented election strategy was.

Was it that confident of a win that important matters of stratagem could be overlooked? That a campaign strategy had not been discussed, argued and agreed to within the wider Labor party – smacks at over confidence.

And to not have some formal means of monitoring it’s progress and indeed its implementation is a mystery.

The report found that there were three factors in Labor’s defeat: 1) weak strategy, 2) poor adaptability, and 3) an unpopular leader.

I find it rather odd that the popularity of the leader figured so prominently. Normally in an election the popularity or otherwise of the leader (in polling) means nothing. It’s whom they are going to vote for that counts.

So what does this mean for the future? If popularity is a prerequisite for winning then Albo on current polling doesn’t stand a chance.

“So if Albo is less popular than Morrison before the election, do they dump him?,” a Labor strategist wondered.

Perhaps it means that leaders who play popular politics, like Morrison and Trump, will inherit the world.

Or could it be that Morrison turned it into a Morrison Vs. Shorten campaign and if that theory is correct then Bill in accord with the polls never stood a chance.

If Shorten was unpopular, then he must have been immensely so.

The report says that, “Unsurprisingly, the Labor campaign lacked focus, wandering from topic to topic without a clear purpose.”

And that cannot be denied. Sitting in front of the television some nights I felt as though they were just saying things for the sake of saying them and without any coherent narrative.

The report is comprehensive, outspoken, and fair. That it is open for all to see is commendable and should be read by all with an interest in politics.

However, there are three things that puzzle me.

  1. What does a political party have to do to defeat what was for 6 years arguably the worst 6 years of governance in our history?
  2. Why didn’t the composers pay more attention to the influence of Clive Palmer and more particularly that of Rupert Murdoch?
  3. As reported in The New Daily, the publicly available Newspoll figures had a persistent technical error that overstated Labor’s primary vote, understated the Coalition’s primary vote and

“… consistently suggested Labor was in an election-winning position,” the report states.

“However, the persistent Labor lead in Newspoll (and other published polls) created a mindset dominated by high expectations of a Labor victory, and this affected the Party’s ability to process research findings that ran counter to this.”

Sure, this may have made Labor’s chances of winning less even less so but it draws me back to question 1.

If Labor was never actually in front against a hopeless lot of charlatans what does that tell you?

It says both the Coalition’s and Clive Palmer’s campaigns trained their guns on the unpopular leader, and the interaction between Labor’s expansive policy offering and the doubts about Shorten became a “lethal combination”.

“Labor lost the election because of a weak strategy that could not adapt to the change in Liberal leadership, a cluttered policy agenda that looked risky and an unpopular leader,” the review says. “No one of these shortcomings was decisive but in combination they explain the result”.

You can read the report here.

My thought for the day

The first rule of politics is to gain power. The second is to retain it.

PS: It seems it wasn’t a miracle at all.

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Aged care not in their DNA: A damning report the government cannot ignore

It is not as though we haven’t been forewarned about the urgent need to attend to the crisis in aged care.

Numerous reports, over many years, have shown that the sector is in dire need of attention.

That the government is so reluctant to address any of the problems brings shame on them and our nation.

For a country that has enjoyed so much success in so many areas, it is sometimes more appropriate to put this down to luck rather than industrious thinking by government.

Despite words of assertive action by the government it is hard to see that, given its reluctance to spend a dollar that might affect its need for a public relations surplus, that they will have the money to spend on aged care. And I mean real money

The interim report by the Royal Commission into Australia’s Aged Care sector found that “cruel and harmful” attitudes prevailed.

That it has been so for many years is, without doubt, a smear on the nation.

The report also said that the sector was “fragmented, unsupported, underfunded,” and very much unsafe and uncaring.

That we could be so uncaring of the needs of our most vulnerable citizens who are at the end of their lives is tantamount to a crime against humanity.

The responsibility for this shame, this “shocking tale of neglect” as the two commissioners Richard Tracey and Lynelle Briggs have described is the result of many years of neglect.

The report described the industry as having a “culture of ageism.”

What a way to describe the treatment of our aged seniors as the sunset of life sets upon them; a time that should be as loving as their beginning.

The Interim Report released on Thursday, titled Neglect, listed a litany of problems that the commission described as needing urgent attention. “Unkind and uncaring,” “a shocking tale of neglect” were among the words of condemnation of the government’s inaction.

“The neglect that we have found in this Royal Commission, to date, is far from the best that can be done. Rather, it is a sad and shocking system that diminishes Australia as a nation.”

The report also said that Australia’s aged care sector might not be financially sustainable.

How embarrassing it must be for the minister, let alone the government, to hear these words of judgement after nearly 7 years of conservative neglect.

To say that they must feel dreadful for the appalling way they have allowed the treatment of our aged to go on unchecked would be futile.

They have done it deliberately, for several reasons, all of which relate to economics.

The first of course, and most current, is that to spend the money needed to correct what needs to be done would mean the prevention of a surplus and the second also includes the conservative philosophical principle that such things should be paid for by the individual or his/her family.

Do you think we would ever have a National Health Scheme or an NDIS without Labor? Of course not. These things are deeply ingrained in Labor’s blood.

It was only the budget before last that the Coalition removed the $1000 funeral benefit paid to pensioners to help with the cost of burying their loved ones. How pitiful. On this, the report said that:

“By any measure, this is a cruel and discriminatory system, which places great strain on older Australians and their relatives.”

“It is shocking that the express wishes of older people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, with the supports they need, is downplayed with an expectation that they will manage. It is unsafe practice. It is neglect.”

The report rightfully confronts what it describes as our country’s “ageist” mindset, a culture that has led to an irrelevant view of how we see ageing and end of life ethics.

Too often we view our ageing relatives as a burden, an obligation, even an encumbrance without a thought for their life’s journey and our involvement in it. The report surmises that:

“As a nation, Australia has drifted into an ageist mindset that undervalues older people and limits their possibilities.”

There is a moral obligation on Australians to care for the aged that we have never taken seriously. We have allowed self-interest, even the selfishness of inheritance to invade our thinking instead of the clear-mindedness of love.

Why we find such compelling reasons to treat each other badly is beyond me.

Even when old and frail the difference between being alive and truly living can still, with proper care, be experienced.

A commitment to social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds.

Although Labor are not lily-white in this area, having shown little interest when in power, it can mount a defence with its many reforms in other areas.

The Coalition’s neglect, however, cannot be excused. They need to invest heavily in those areas the Commission has identified.

This in part requires for fundamental reform of the system with more home care packages, action to respond to the significant over-reliance on chemical restraints in the sector and removing young people with disabilities from aged care. The report concludes that:

“By any measure, this is a cruel and discriminatory system, which places great strain on older Australians and their relatives.”

After nearly 7 years in power, this is yet another example of just how inept this government has been. They deserve the strongest condemnation by the public and those involved in the sector.

Note. As Treasurer Scott Morrison in 2016 ripped $1.6 B.J. from the aged care sector.

My thought for the day

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

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Albanese’s thinking is futurist and way in front of his opponent

It began not five minutes after he was elected leader of the Australian Labor Party or as soon as those of a robust mindset realised that Anthony Albanese wouldn’t be laying into the Prime Minister with a flurry of rights and lefts to the head.

But before I go on let’s take a brief look at his parliamentary career and private life. Please note that I’m using Wikipedia for this information:

“He was born Anthony Norman Albanese on 2 March 1963 in Sydney. He attended St Mary’s Cathedral College, before going on to the University of Sydney to study economics.

He joined the Labor Party as a student, and before entering parliament worked as a party official and research officer.

Albanese was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1996 election, winning the Division of Grayndler in New South Wales. He was first appointed to the Shadow Cabinet in 2001 and went on to serve in a number of roles, eventually becoming Manager of Opposition Business in 2006.

After Labor’s victory in the 2007 election, Albanese was appointed Leader of the House; he was also made Minister for Regional Development and Local Government and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport.

In the subsequent leadership tensions between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard from 2010 to 2013, Albanese was publicly critical of the conduct of both, calling for unity.

After the final leadership ballot between the two in June 2013, Albanese was elected Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and was sworn in as Deputy Prime Minister of Australia the following day.

Following Labor’s defeat in the 2013 election, Albanese stood against Bill Shorten in the ensuing leadership election, the first to include party members as well as MPs.

Although Albanese won a large majority of the membership, Shorten won more heavily among Labor MPs; Shorten subsequently appointed Albanese to his Shadow Cabinet.

After Labor’s third consecutive defeat in the 2019 election, Shorten resigned. Albanese became the only person to nominate in the leadership election; he was subsequently declared elected unopposed as the Leader of the Labor Party, becoming Leader of the Opposition.

Albanese is married to Carmel Tebbutt, former Deputy Premier of New South Wales. They have one son. Albanese and Tebbutt amicably separated in 2019.”

* * * * *

If you carefully peruse the aforementioned words the one thing that stands out is that there isn’t an aroma of a scandal. Not even a whiff.

Unlike many of his predecessors he has not a bit of baggage for which the attack dogs of the right can get their teeth into.

In other words, he is trustful, has integrity and is honest. However, as they did with Shorten, five minutes into his tenure there are those who have decided he is not their man.

The Prime Minister is “loose with the truth,” he has declared on a number of occasions. Is that not calling a spade a spade and worthy of a headline?

Does it not illustrate just how difficult just how hard it for a leader of an opposition to gain any traction? Do people realise just how hard it is to win from opposition?

That is, unless you are a Whitlam, Hawke or Rudd who had the advantage of the government’s time being up.

Other than those three being Opposition Leader is the loneliest of places. The hardest slog in the entire political domain.

That is not to say the job is impossible. Next time around 9 years of pathetic government might be just enough for the voters of Australia.

On Tuesday in Perth Albanese delivered what I believe to be the most remarkable speech I have heard for some time.

It was about jobs and the future of work. It is well-worth listening to.

In it he reviewed the current state of a world on the cusp of the greatest transformation since the Industrial Revolution.

Albo’s speech charted a new course for a socially progressive government.

What it had over and above more recent economic and social thinking was that it was devoid of spin and bullshit, bringing together the problems of the environment, economics, power, jobs, coal and business, both large and small and looked not just at the negatives but all the positives. What’s in it for us, he asked? Everything became an opportunity rather than a problem.

He encapsulated all that had been argued for the past decades and laid a succinct plan to transform our economy and our thinking so that ahead we might see our future with eyes of opportunity.

In other words, he spoke without bias; a speech born of sound thinking and a rational appreciation of all the problems and how the solutions can benefit us all for the better. To some degree it replicates the work of Dan “gets it done” Andrews in Victoria.

Of course, finding recognition of Albo’s thoughts were another matter. The Murdoch press hardly gave it a mention.

The New Daily did though:

Along the way, as The New Daily’s Samantha Maiden reported this morning, Albanese’s speech gives some hope to those who as a minimum do not want to see backsliding on Labor’s commitment to climate action, by noting that “experts tell us achieving 50 per cent renewable energy at home while building a hydrogen export industry would create 87,000 good, well-paid jobs”.

And The Guardian gave it some decent coverage:

“The unprecedented pace of change and spread of new technologies are leaving many workers unsettled, and others left out of the labour market altogether.”

Albanese said that to restore confidence in the labour market, workers needed to be helped to engage with technology and innovation in “an assured manner”, which would require “the single-minded pursuit of skills”.

This would help address a mismatch between what workers have to offer and what employers need, with Albanese highlighting a recent Australian Industry Group survey that three quarters of businesses cannot find the skilled workers they need.

“The world is decarbonising. With the right planning and vision, Australia cannot only continue to be an energy exporting superpower; we can also enjoy a new manufacturing boom. This means jobs,” Albanese said.

As did The New Monthly:

“Albanese is no fake. The opportunities in the clean economy are enormous. The jobs on offer are better than the jobs in coal – blue collar and white collar, north and south. The number of people who don’t get it and are resistant, as Alinta Energy’s Mark Johnson confessed to ABC’s The Business last night, is actually tiny.”

As good as Albo’s first Headland speech was, he also needs to campaign for a robust, decent political system that is honest, decent, and transparent. Where respect is the order of the day. A political system where ideas and foresight surpass ideological politics.

Where respect, civility and trust are part of vigorous debate and not just uninvited words in the process.

These are the opening words of his speech. (You can read the whole speech here):

“Australia is at a crucial intersection.

We have a weakening economy and growing job insecurity

We face environmental, demographic and geopolitical challenges.

But we have a Government that has no agenda, let alone a plan for the future.

They are in denial about insecure work.

About wage stagnation.

About declining living standards.

They are in denial about our choked cities and our starved regions.

They are in denial about energy and science.

And they are more interested in division than inclusion.

But above all, they are characterised by being scared of the present and terrified of the future.

I’m optimistic about the future. Provided we get the policy settings right.

Today the Labor Party begins laying down the framework on which we will build the policies that we will take to the election.

Today, the Australian Labor Party turns our focus forward.

We must face the future in the interests of our country.

And we will be guided every step of the way by our values.

Labor values.”

My thought for the day

In the information age, those who control the dissemination of news have more power than government.

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There is nothing worse than that sinking feeling you get when you have lost it

Note: If the title and the first part of this article looks eerily similar to yesterday’s article … it is because they are! A technical issue occurred. Yesterday’s article has been removed and here is the full article (as was intended for yesterday):

1 The heading refers to when one has spent a few hours writing what one thinks is a fairly decent piece for Saturday’s AIMN only to find that it didn’t save.

I had used the heading ‘A conga line of disasters.’ Diligently, I saved all my source material so that I could expand on each recent episode of bad government.

As much as I hate to admit it, I also deleted my source material so re writing is my only choice.

In my efforts to retrieve my work I stop and pause at the amount of stuff I have written over the past six years. It must run into thousands of articles.

If you add in all the other writers, it is no wonder our editor loses it from time to time.

As I recall I began with the fact that years ago in one of my many pieces on the destruction of our democracy by the conservatives that we should have a Ministry for the Future. (You can place any policy you like in it).

2 As we deal with the drought and find that the National Party’s answer to the problem is to build more dams.

Never mind that if it did rain and the mighty Murray flowed then 80% of the water would go to the irrigators.

Everyone has a plan, and everyone wants to release it. So characterless is the Nationals leader (what is his name again?) that it looks as though Barnaby has taken over again.

The problem is of course is how the water is dispensed. Who gets it, in other words?

Imagine if we had had a Ministry for the Future when all of the problems were first identified and forecast to grow inestimably into the future.

The ideas of today need to be honed with critical reason, factual evidence and scientific methods of enquiry so that they clearly articulate the currency of tomorrow.

Why is it we react to problems instead of being proactive? With this government now in power for going on 7 years we have made no progress on a national drought policy, energy or climate policy.

That is genuinely poor by any standard.

The problems didn’t just invent themselves here and now and to invite prayer as a remedy is an insult to our collective intelligence.

3 But reports coming out of Canberra suggest the Nationals are most upset at being pushed out of what should be their sacred domain; the bush. So while this drought has its way with the animals the people and growers of produce the Nationals and Conservatives decide to have a Donny Brook about who should take the credit for the latest hand out.

4 They will do anything they can to assist people who are in the most dire of circumstances so long as it doesn’t diminish the possibly of a surplus.

Maryanne Slattery’s article in The Guardian; “The only thing as certain as drought in Australia is the stupid call to build new dams“ makes clear sense:

“The reason politicians don’t like to talk about these dams is they do nothing for drought-stricken towns and struggling communities. Instead they are on private land for the exclusive use of corporate agribusiness.”

On the subject of dams, or more generally lying, Tony Burke gave an impressive speech in the House of Representatives last week in which he names four policies for which the government blatantly – and unapologetically even – incontrovertibly tells lies.

They were: a) that Labor never built a new dam during its term in office, b) has to do with paying down Labor’s debt, c) is about us meeting our emissions targets, and d) had to do with extinctions and. And we can add another: The government is lying in the house itself and how it weakens our democracy. I urge the reader to watch the video (in the link above) and see just how Burke pulls the Government apart.

5 But let’s move on, for the Conga line is long.

Never in my lifetime would I have envisaged all our major newspapers, including Murdoch’s mastheads, simultaneously appeal to our democratically elected government to be more transparent about the way it conducts our business.

It simply reinforces the public’s view that our Prime Minister lies at will, lies by omission, misleads by choice and is evasive when we have a right to know.

In a democracy the public’s right to know is sacrosanct.

6 Lying has become so ingrained in those in government that they treat it as a sort of divine right.

Journalism and press freedoms are an integral part of any democracy as is our right to know. Our government treats our right to know as a need to know. This is fundamentally wrong on many levels.

7 FOI applications are now almost impossible to obtain and when they are acquired, they are so redacted as to be useless.

8 This should not be taken as an endorsement of the behaviour of our news outlets, far from it. That is a different matter.

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

9 Here is another example of non-transparency in government. Did you know that:

“Australia’s richest private schools – which charge students as much as an astonishing $70,000 a year for boarding and tuition – can access cash assistance from a new $1.2 billion taxpayer-funded slush fund.

Senate estimates heard evidence on Thursday that no private school would be banned from accessing the fund, which was established in 2018 as a sweetener to quell the concerns of Catholic and independent schools about a new funding model.

However, public schools are not eligible to apply.”

10 And here is but another example of the Government’s complete lack of transparency:

“It pays to be in power. Especially if you’re one of the 52 people in Scott Morrison’s so-called “Star Chamber” lucky enough to score a secret taxpayer-funded pay rise.

According to the Department of Finance, as of October 1 the Prime Minister has signed off on 52 “personal staff” in his ministerial wing being paid a “salary that is above the top of the range of their classification”, adding an extra $1,414,272 a year to the budget.”

11 But no need to worry. There are some MPs in Canberra who have promised to campaign for more transparency.

The only trouble is that they are opposition members.

12 The mystery around an invitation to the White House for Pastor Brian Houston continues to amuse everyone except for the more seriously-minded political nerd such as myself. Well you see, the man in question went on radio Thursday to raise the question of his own importance but instead created another question.

Why is the Prime Minister going through this charade of not answering questions about the invite? The Pastor thinks it’s much to do about nothing so what does the PM know that we cannot? Ha Ha, is the CIA involved?

On the subject of Hillsong, in 2006 the church secured funds for:

“Indigenous development grants. Hillsong‘s benevolent arm got the money, which went almost entirely to employing and providing offices for church staff, with only a trickle-reaching Aborigines.

In one case, Hillsong Emerge spent $315,000 in federal funds employing seven of its own staff in Sydney to administer a “micro-credit” project that made only six loans to Aborigines worth an average of $2856 each.

Hillsong also failed to enable a single Aborigine to become self-employed under a $610,968 federal grant to encourage indigenous entrepreneurship.”

13 Did you know that the Morrison Government spent $170 thousand on empathy experts for advice on how to deal with drought stricken communities?

They couldn’t find it in their own hearts.

14 And you can add to that $20 million for Christmas Island to remain open with eight cleaners and six gardeners at the detention center for a family of four Sri Lankans and of course, to keep the island on alert for a flood of asylum seekers.

15 Now talking about extinctions we find, as reported in The Guardian that hundreds of Australian academics have endorsed this view:

“The science is clear the facts are incontrovertible.

We are in the midst of the sixth mass extinction, with about 200 species becoming extinct each day. This includes many species of insects, some of which are essential to our food systems. Many people around the world have already died or been displaced from the effects of a rapidly warming climate.

July 2019 was the Earth’s hottest on record. Arctic peat is burning and ice is melting at rates far beyond even the most radical scientific predictions. The Amazon is burning at an alarming rate. All are creating devastating feedback loops, releasing more CO2 and reducing the Earth’s heat reflecting capacities.”

16 It’s hard to imagine a week passing without Angus Taylor finding himself in trouble. Besides him not being able to find solutions to our power problems and looking after his own self interests, he is now allegedly being accused of falsifying documents.

All the Minister is doing is showing contempt for accountability.

The Guardian reports that:

“Sydney’s Lord Mayor has categorically rejected Angus Taylor’s version of how he came to rely on inaccurate figures of the council’s travel spending to attack her, saying “there were no alternative versions of the document” on the council’s website at any time.”

Labor has asked the NSW to investigate a possible breach in the law, however, I have about as much trust in them as the AFP to find anything against the Coalition.

Any wonder only 13% of us trust politicians.

To say that we are ambivalent about our politicians is an understatement. Now we are ashamed.

17 Did you know that the Prime Minister banned Craig Kelly from appearing on Q&A in case he made matters worse on climate change?

Any half-decent PM would have done the same. The man is a disgrace.

18 I think I will finish with the Prime Minister. Michael Pascoe in the The New Daily asks if the Prime Minister is a nutter. (By that he means in the Donald Trump mould).

Remember that no matter what the portfolio, Morrison was always loath to answer questions.

He was always evasive, and everything was on a ‘need to know basis.’ As Albanese said last week, he is loose with the truth.

Pascoe continues:

“They’re “gossip”, “bubble”, and “family privacy”. Running away from what should be simple matters creates fears about how bad the answers might be.”

The refusal to answer questions in Senate Estimates last week was unprecedented.

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

Your text

My thought for the day

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

PS: Our intention of a voice for our First Nations People is becoming a bit of a whisper.

 

 

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Is Labor doomed for oblivion, or can Albo mount a comeback?

Bill Shorten took over as leader of Australian Labor Party in 2013 and resigned in 2019 after taking the party to two elections.

He won the leadership in a two-horse race with Anthony Albanese (Albo) under revised party rules: Rules that gave Albanese little chance of winning.

In 2016 he came within one seat of becoming Prime Minister after adopting a strategy of prematurely revealing major policies well before the election.

He also adopted a benign approach to the everyday swings of Australian politics. An approach that was seen as sensible by some and too light on by others.

He wasn’t expected to win in 2016 so his narrow loss was seen as exemplary. In 2019 he was in better shape and given the dreadful performance of the Coalition in office was expected to win in a canter.

Labor had led in the polls for the better part of three years. Shorten had turned the conventional wisdom on its ear by going early with new policies and shirt-fronting the government at every opportunity.

In many ways it was a radical approach to electioneering taking from the rich to accommodate a fairer and more equal society. Having said that, there were many Labor die-hards who wanted policy to be even further to the left. Conversely, others wanted more centre-right policies.

In short, Labor had done everything right. They were disciplined and loyal to their leader but when the crunch came, even with a set of policies that would make for a better society, their campaigning was terrible.

“The campaign, not the issues, was Labor’s Achilles heel, with the Coalition’s personal attacks on Shorten the final nail in the coffin,” wrote Peter Lewis in The Guardian.

A leak, however, from the committee appointed to reason why Labor lost, seems to lay the blame squarely on the shoulders of Shorten.

It is now almost 6 months since Labor experienced its night of soul-destroying darkness. All the untruths and scares told by a prodigious teller of fabrication by Morrison wasn’t enough to unseat him.

The accrued mistrust of Shorten together with union association and unpopularity reigned supreme over the lies and scare campaigns of the Coalition. It must have run deep.

Once again Labor was to experience the loneliness of opposition.

Having had a right-wing Opposition Leader who took them to the left they elected a left-wing leader in Anthony Albanese who seems intent on taking them to the right.

In the months that have past, Albanese has given members the chance to publicly speak up on policy. Some have, and I feel sure more will once the report into their election loss is released in the next week or so.

Moreover, this point in time Albanese seems to be taking the rather old fashioned tactic of laying low unless its otherwise necessary, upping the anti in the third year and releasing policy with only a few weeks or months to go before the election.

At this point it would be wrong not to release a climate policy, very wrong.

The perception of Albo was that he could ‘tuff’ talk to any conservative leader. He indeed unlike others knew how to lay a decent shirtfront on the government.

Initially, Party members wanted him instead of Shorten. Now that they have him and the shirt-front is nothing more than a powder-puff to the left cheek, they want more aggression. As if it resolves everything.

As the theory goes, Labor only ever wins when a person of charisma enters the fray. Whitlam, Hawke and Rudd were men of their time who had vision, excited the people with the possibility that they could achieve great things.

All had one thing in common. They dared to be different, even radical.

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

There are those in the Party, and those who support it, who long for the socialism of days long gone without a thought for the changes that have occurred in society. As if one thought suits all.

People scream out “retaliate with the truth”, but the fact is that accessibility or exposure to do so in opposition is limited to a 15-second grab on the nightly news.

Taken in totality, and in my view, there was nothing wrong with Labor’s policies for the recent election. It was just the way they were presented that was deplorable. A Hawke or Keating would have held society in the palm of their right hand and mellifluously told them the facts.

Had as much thought been put into how they were to sell them, and indeed defend the complications in them, they might have stood a chance.

As it was there were so many impediments that you could drive the proverbial truck through them.

Just as the government has a list of talking points to defend its policies, so too should the opposition have had to defend its own.

For example, when employment raises its head every Labor MP should know the following:

“In September 2013, there were 706,400 people unemployed (trend) or 697,100 (seasonally adjusted).

In September 2019, there were 718,000 people unemployed (trend) or 709,600 (seasonally adjusted).

They aren’t keeping up with population growth. Why does no one ever say in response to the jobs growth claim, that there are 12,000 more people unemployed now than when they took over?”

Tell it straight, tell it as it is and fix it.

I have gotten a little ahead of myself so let’s come back to the present. Labor is going through a period of self-examination with a new leader who hasn’t yet found his feet.

Albo is, however, making overtones of doing politics of the past whereas what is needed is something purer than the abrasive manner of the mouth that roared.

Albo should be using the phrase; “He’s loose with the truth” (about Scott Morrison) on every occasion he can, and keep on doing it until it sinks in.

And he should add; ”Just a clone of Trump” to a collection.

It is reasonable to assume that after his sucking up to Trump, Morrison is telling us that it will be the path of Trumpism he will be taking in the future.

At the moment Morrison is having a ball portraying Labor as a party of the past and that it is he and his party that are for the workers.

This impression is reinforced by responses to questions in this week’s Essential Report designed to get the first real take on peoples perceptions of Anthony Albanese’s Labor.

Morrison’s marketing experience – based mostly on slogans – comes through in everything he says and does. He understands the value of lies, repetition and misrepresentation.

It is a pity that Australian politics has degenerated to such a level, but it does however; give Labor an opportunity of rebirth, maybe as a “Common good party.” Dare to be different, and above all be progressive.

It would be a grave mistake to re emerge as just another centre-right party.

It seems to me that everyone wants an economy that is performing well.

However, when you are asking those who can least afford it to disproportionally support it you are not serving the common good.

When Joe Hockey was Treasurer he told the National Press Club: “The average worker works one month every year to pay for the welfare of others.”

At the time I wondered how many months the average worker worked to subsidise farmers, miners, tax breaks, negative gearing, franking credits, private and religious schools (religions don’t pay taxes), and retired politicians.

Fairness and equality of opportunity must be central to any Labor Party platform.

It is difficult to get a grip on just how Albo might rebrand Labor after its period of self-examination given that the opposition leader, given his confusing support for so many Coalition policies.

At the moment he is less popular than Shorten himself. If he doesn’t survive they could end up with a future leadership team of Queensland’s Jim Chalmers and former deputy leader Tanya Plibersek.

So much depends on the attitude of the leader that it is even more difficult to predict how the party will brand itself without it being settled in leadership.

Let’s put that aside for a moment. Before any re-branding can take place the party has to be satisfied that the reason or reasons for the defeat have all been exposed.

Was it the unpopularity of Bill Shorten? Was it the policies or was it entirely the campaign itself?

For me it was the trifecta. Yes, Shorten was unpopular. No, there was nothing wrong with the policies – it was the leaders inability to articulate them, which of course bleeds into the conduct of the campaign.

Ask yourself would Labor have won with Albo?

A hypothetical question indeed. And truthfully I don’t know what Labor should do. It is too early. All I can do is offer some comments, ideas and suggestions, but I have always felt that cleaning up our democracy would be a noble pursuit and the first step toward regaining government.

I note that as I write the news community today, 21 October, are asking for more transparency in our government. It is true that we have a government of a “need to know” mentality, that hides things from us and is about as transparent as a black glass window.

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

Here are some thoughts on a Labor revival based on repairing our democracy:

  1. The Labor Party needs to rid itself of out-dated social objectives and invest in a social philosophical common good instead.
  2. And recognise that the elimination of growing inequality is a worthwhile pursuit.
  3. In terms of talent, both parties are represented by party hacks of dubious intellectual liability without enough female representation and worldly work-life experience.
  4. Labor’s pre-selection processes are rooted in factional power struggles that often see the best candidates miss out.
  5. There is a need to select people with broader life experience. Not just people who have come out of the union movement. Fix it.
  6. Our Parliament, its institutions, and conventions was so trashed by Tony Abbott and those who followed that people have lost faith in the political process and their representatives. Fix it.
  7. Ministerial responsibility has become a thing of the past. Fix it.
  8. Question time is just an excuse for mediocre minds that are unable to win an argument with factual intellect, charm or debating skills. Fix it.
  9. The public might be forgiven for thinking that the chamber has descended into a chamber of hate where respect for the others view is seen as a weakness. Fix it.
  10. Question time is the showcase of the Parliament and is badly in need of an overhaul and an independent Speaker. Fix it.
  11. Recent times have demonstrated just how corrupt our democracy has become. We have witnessed a plethora of inquiries all focusing on illegal sickening behaviour. Fix it.
  12. Light frivolity and wit has been replaced with smut and sarcasm. It has debased the parliament and all MPs, as moronic imbecilic individuals. Fix it

I cannot remember a time when my country has been so devoid of political leadership.

In recent times we have had potential, but it was lost in power struggles, undignified self-interest, and narcissistic personality.

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

People on the right of politics in Australia show insensitivity to the common good that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

One cannot begin to discuss the decline of Australian democracy without at the same time aligning it to the collapse in journalistic standards and its conversion from reporting to opinion.

Murdoch and his majority-owned newspapers; with blatant support for right-wing politics have done nothing to advance Australia as a modern enlightened democratic society.

On the contrary, it has damaged it, perhaps irreparably. Fix it.

Bloggers more reflect the feelings of grass-roots society.

Truth in government as a principle of democratic necessity needs to be reinstated.

Fix it first and common good policy will follow.

My thought for the day

Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise.

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The Conservatives may have won the election, but what about our future?

In my two most recent posts, I have, in “The State of Play” discussed the background or lead into the 2019 election.

In the second, “The Bill the Australia despised” I canvassed the comparative campaigns of both major parties.

In this one I concentrate on the aftermath of the election and dip into the future of both parties. Firstly, that of  the Liberal and National Parties and then the prospects of Labor.

It is predictable, even inevitable, that those who participated in the Australian general election of May 2019 will step back and consider the result. Many have done so already.

Members of the victorious party – in this case the Coalition – all charged their glasses and drank of the well of the unworthiness of its victory.

And through rose coloured glasses – after it sobered up – found that nothing had changed.

They were still the same party with the same incompetent personnel. They had won yet another undeserved victory. Yes, nothing had changed. They were blessed with victory but little else.

The same problems (many of their own creation) still challenged them and they are now battling their way through their own incompetence with all the pace of conservative thinking.

In the meantime, the people who voted for them in their melancholy lethargy give not a thought to their decision to vote through their pockets.

In Australia uninformed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives fed them all the bullshit they needed and the menu generally contained a fair portion of untruths. It was true of this election, and those before it.

Way back on August 1, 2014 I wrote the following:

How has democracy worldwide become such a basket case? Unequivocally it can be traced to a second-rate Hollywood actor, a bad haircut of an English woman, and in Australia a small bald headed man of little virtue. They all had one thing in common. This can be observed in this statement (paraphrased):

“There is no such thing as society. There are only individuals making their way. The poor shall be looked after by the drip down effect of the rich.”

Since Margaret Thatcher made that statement and the subsequent reins of the three, unregulated capitalism has insinuated its ugliness on Western Society and now we have an absurdly evil growth in corporate and individual wealth and an encroaching destruction of the middle and lower classes. These three have done democracy a great disservice.

Where once bi-partisanship flourished in proud democracies, it has been replaced with the politics of hatred and extremism. Where compromise gets in the way of power, and power rules the world.

Australians have tuned out of politics because of the destabilisation of leadership, corruption on both sides, and the negativity and lies of Tony Abbott. The propaganda of a right-wing monopoly owned media and the exploitation of its parliament by Abbott.

Somehow the lost voters must be given a reason to return. A reason that is valid and worthwhile. A reason that serves the collective and engages people in the process, and a politic for the social good of all – one that rewards personal initiative but at the same time recognises the basic human right of equality of opportunity.

We need a robust but decent political system that is honest, decent, and transparent, and where respect is the order of the day. A political system where ideas of foresight surpass the politics of greed and disrespect, and truth, respect, civility and trust are part of vigorous debate and not just uninvited words in the process.

The right to vote is the gift our democracy gives. If political parties (and media barons, for that matter) choose by their actions to destroy the people’s faith in democracy’s principles and conventions then they are in fact destroying the very thing that enables them to exist.

The misuse of free speech may have contributed to the decline of our democracy, but it is free speech that might ultimately save it.

Of course, since then the phenomenon of Trumpism has reached our shores and taken us into a pit of sewage that we struggle to escape from

Opposition in this country has much to overcome before it can govern.

As for the loser well sad to say that they are still recovering from a loss of momentous proportion. How was it possible to lose an election that was well within their grasp?

(Well I will address that in my next article for The AIMN).

Here, however, is my summary of Coalition incompetence past, present, and likely future.

If government is a work in progress then how come this one has so much carry over work from election to election?

Power: Whatever happened to the 25% reduction in power prices we were promised? When will the government tell us its future intentions regarding coal? You would think a decade is long enough. I watched Angus Taylor on Monday’s 7.30 Report and he didn’t seem to have a clue on national energy policy.

Snowy Mountain Scheme: Taylor spoke about Snowy 2 as though it was a done deal and that the cost estimates all stacked up, whereas I could see cost overruns written all over it. And not just the costs but also the completion date of around 2025 seems ambitious. It’s reasonable to assume that it could come in over $10 billion given this governments record.

Initially promised at $2 billion, it was quickly revised to $4 billion and a contract for part of its construction has been agreed at $5.1 billion,” said Dr Bruce Mountain, director of the Victoria Energy Policy Centre.

Climate Change: Will they ever take it seriously and admit that Abbott’s decision to rescind the ‘carbon tax’ was probably the worst policy decision ever taken by an Australian Prime Minister?

Drought: What is being done to future proof us from worsening drought? Does anyone know?

Water/ Murray Darling: What is being done to resurrect this once mighty river? Who was responsible for stealing much of the water?  Who is looking to its future?

Religion and free speech: With religion now (as proven by the last national census) in rapid decline will the government come clean on its proposals regarding the influence of religion and free speech?

Banks: The government is going through yet another ‘bash the banks’ exercise, shouting that it’s not us who are responsible for such low interest rates. It’s them, the banks. Now we have to wait for another inquiry for some blame shifting.

Newstart: The government continues to put a surplus ahead of any rise in Newstart. Their reasons are purely political and without a thought for the welfare of its recipients.

A fair rise in this welfare payment would kickstart the economy

National Broadband Network: Together with the tax on carbon it has been a monumental tragedy. To have spent so much money on something so important to the country’s future is a national disgrace.

ABC News reported the Chairman of Telstra, John Mullen as saying that the NBN “was a massively expensive waste of resources that has entrenched a slow, state-owned monopoly, rather than a competitive high-speed broadband network.

Aged care crisis: It is totally incomprehensible how any government, whilst at the time of instigating a Royal Commission into what is another national disgrace, should instead seek a budgetary surplus when previous reports have disclosed problems that could be attended to immediately.

Immigration: Forget about the boats, asylum seekers are flooding in by plane. This is what David Crowe of the SMH had to say:

“Australia is on track to post a new annual record for asylum seekers who arrive by air after official figures confirmed more than 95,000 arrivals over the past five years amid fears of corruption and exploitation.

About 80 people every day since the start of July have claimed protection after landing at an Australian airport, highlighting a huge change in people smuggling operations since the government’s crackdown on boat arrivals.”

And might I mention those who came by boat and are now in year 7 of an unofficial jail sentence for not committing any crime. Shame, Dutton shame.

Inequality in education: The Australian Government continues to spend the majority of commonwealth funding of private and Catholic schools. This is fundamentally wrong. Every child is entitled to equality of opportunity in education.

According to this article in The Guardian, educational inequality has cost the Australian economy more than $20bn, as well as contributing to the widening gap between rich and poor.

International Diplomacy.:Since Scott Morrison adopted the language of Trumpism our voice of international diplomacy has declined into crass gutter talk. Sure you can make your point, but trying to punch above one’s weight usually results in a very uneven fight.

Instead of trying to build a relationship with China it looks as though we are trying to intimidate them. Ah, the art of diplomacy.

Just who does this Prime Minister think he is that on a thought bubble of his own wind, in the loneliness of his limited intellect, think that he can make decisions concerning Middle Eastern peace with all the simplicity of a leader unsuited to the task. It’s not often you can offend all sides of an argument?

Trumpism: In his speeches in America the Prime Minister seemed to indicate that the characteristics of Donald Trump – with its self-styled disingenuous narcissism, hard right authoritarian dictatorial messages using accusations of fake news, or other methods to attack one’s opponents – would be the style he would follow.

The problems facing the world are global ones yet we find right-wing dictators of the Trump ilk using populism to talk about national issues.

Australians have a low opinion of Trump, and for the Prime Minister to deliberately copy his concept of and attitude towards life is to embarrass and lower the public opinion people overseas have of us even further. And at a time when restoring trust in politics is important.

The Office of the American President was once viewed by its people as an office of prestige and importance. Trump has reduced it to one of ridicule and contempt.

Internally the Coalition’s hard-right is holding sway over the small L liberals. Scott Morrison has control but only for as long as Peter Dutton’s ambitions are kept under control: Usually by allowing him to do and say what he wants.

Former Liberal leader John Hewson recently wrote this for the SMH:

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison would have us believe that he is putting Australia “first”, and is governing primarily to reflect the values and aspirations of the “quiet Australians” he would also have us believe gave him his “miracle” election win.

He would have us believe he was putting Australia “first” when he sat like a muppet through US President Donald Trump’s excruciatingly embarrassing press conference at the White House recently, when he allowed Trump to turn the opening of an Australian manufacturing plant in Ohio into one of his cheap presidential campaign rallies, when he did Trump’s bidding on the trade status of the Chinese and when he grossly misrepresented our climate actions in his address to the UN, including a sideswipe at the messenger Greta Thunberg and other student climate protesters.”

The economy: With what appears to be an economy going backwards and the government more inclined towards a political surplus, just what does the government plan to do? Create a surplus or try and fix what they have broken, including many people?

On Wednesday of this week the International Monetary Fund reported on the state of the Australian economy and it wasn’t pleasant reading:

The IMF – again – downgraded Australia’s forecasts, slicing 0.4 of a percentage point off growth for 2019 and cutting the 2020 expected recovery rate by 0.5 of a percentage point to a below-average 2.3 per cent.

As the IMF gave the Australian economy the thumbs down the Australian Financial Review reported that:

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared his budget surplus plan will not be ‘spooked’ by international events, as the International Monetary Fund slashed Australia’s economic growth forecast to just 1.7 per cent and advised world governments to unleash a spending stimulus.”

Rudd prevented a recession during the WFC with a massive stimulus spend. However, it looks as though the Coalition, according to Mathias Cormann, would never consider a Rudd style stimulus.

Given that they have no intention of spending anything immediately on infrastructure and their tax cuts and other measures haven’t worked l’m wondering just what miracle Scott Morrison is praying for to prevent a full-on recession.

Employment: Unemployment is measured with a less than perfect analytical process (one hours work a week= full time) and is probably much higher than the current figure.

Any increases in work participation are only matching the immigration rate so when the government heaps praise on itself for creating jobs this is all they are doing.

It has become obvious that the party that promotes itself as the only one that knows anything about economics is making a mess of it.

In fact ,during their tenure of government this government has made a monumental mess of almost everything they have touched.

* * * * *

Thus far I haven’t yet mentioned Medivac, funding for health, funding for the NDIS, an urgent requirement to do something about political donations, a national ICAC and revised rules for Question Time.

To say that we are ambivalent about our politicians is an understatement. Now we are ashamed.

We have been wandering around like a drunk looking for a drink under this government, from one serious setback to another. They say they have ‘a plan’ but in six plus years they have never revealed it.

What an abysmal bunch of well-educated yet incompetent fools we have in charge of so many important portfolios.

You cannot have clowns in positions of authority when the future of the country is at stake, and with two and a half years of his term still to go just being some sort of crazy clone of Trump wont get us to where we need to be.

My thought for the day

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

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