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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.

Money matters

How could we change economics so that it better reflects the expectations of a modern pluralist society? The world, in the main, and in the absence of anything better relies on a capitalistic monetary system that is undisciplined, unregulated and intoxicated with greed.

Firstly, I believe a better understanding of why money matters might help. As I see it, we need to eliminate many of the reasons we worship it. Very simply put:

  • “Economics is the study of how people allocate scarce resources for production, distribution, and consumption, both individually and collectively.
  • Two major types of economics are microeconomics, which focuses on the behavior of individual consumers and producers, and macroeconomics, which examine overall economies on a regional, national, or international scale.
  • Economics is especially concerned with efficiency in production and exchange and uses models and assumptions to understand how to create incentives and policies that will maximize efficiency.
  • Economists formulate and publish numerous economic indicators, such as gross domestic product (GDP) and the Consumer Price Index (CPI).
  • Capitalism, socialism, and communism are types of economic systems.”

It was never intended to be a measure of one’s success, or lack of it. It has never made one person better than another but it has suppressed the advancement of many.

There are those who make money but are never remembered. There are others who do great deeds and are.

At the root of all that is evil is greed. The want of it, the craving for it, the love of it and the power that comes with it.

Economics is not and was never intended to be a capitalist gift for those who happen to support a right-wing political ideology. Nor was it intended to be a means by which the wealthy become wealthier. Nor was it meant to be a means by which politicians could cement their power.

How is it possible for the inherited rich and privileged to understand poverty?

Economics should be a gift used to mould a humane and rounded society committed to kindness and compassion. A system by which the pursuit of success is encouraged while at the same time acknowledging that fairness and equality of opportunity is real in economic terms.

Imagine if you will an Australia where economics has a humane face to it. Where capitalism is controlled by common good regulations.

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

The root cause of all this ill-conceived thinking is a failure to understand what an economy is.

I believe that the Morrison government thinks that our economy collects taxes and other methods of obtaining money and redistributes it, using a top down methodology.

It is this government’s view that the economy is an entity unto itself – it seems to operate somehow in a separate cloud to the rest of us. Furthermore, it is independent of the world in which we live.

That is until events wrench us back to it. For example, according to this theory, the environment is somehow in conflict with the economy rather than an essential, vital essence of it.

This theory is wrong

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

Invariably when I read about how successful people are. the measure is always the value of their assets.

For those on the left it has been a depressing year; losing an election that was there for the taking. A disaster no one expected.

Those on the right rejoiced at their unexpected good fortune in the belief that it was the way things should be anyway.

Then along came some blistering fires, a few floods and a pandemic with a recession tagging along. I don’t make light of these matters because they are unlike anything for over a hundred years.

There are mixed views on how well our government has handled all these matters but for the purpose of this piece let’s put that aside and look at the future.

If COVID-19 has given us anything positive it is the opportunity to look at things differently, with fresh eyes and ideas.

With a new budget coming down in just a few weeks would it be too much to hope that our government might aim for a more equitable distribution of the country’s wealth.

I wish to revisit what I wrote almost a year ago:

“Indeed, would it be a little too much to expect – even hope – that this government might show a little more compassion, even love toward the elderly, those who cannot find work, or those who simply need more?

Could the government we elected – headed by a man of faith who confesses that God is love – find it is his heart to do something about the lack of it shown to the asylum seekers left on Manus and Nauru? Don’t leave the heavy work to God all the time.

Will those Ministers who share his faith with him, who also confess love as the central tenant of it, do more for the lost who walk our streets, those who hunger for food and love, or lodgings?

Will those who confess that they walk in the shoes of Jesus and those who don’t, reconsider their decisions involving, climate change, ethics, education, morality, law, medicine, population, infrastructure, water, what we can grow and many other complex issues in the knowledge that the changes they legislate will have a lasting effect on our children and their children?

My fervent hope is that love, kindness and compassion is considered in their deliberations. May your God bless you in this?

I would also hope – as I’m sure you would pray – for far less lying by all politicians given that truth is one of the commandments unto all. That its restoration be hastily elevated to its former standing.

And so, it goes for what we see on our televisions, the demonstrable hatred toward each other that you show in Question Time. Please eliminate it now, urgently.

What I ‘m trying to say here is that a true democracy cannot exist without a love for all the things that it exists for.

Love is a democratic outcome of all the thoughts that humble us. Debate in our place of democracy is not of necessity about winning or taking down one’s opponent. It is an exchange of facts, ideas and principles. Or in its purist form it is simply the art of persuasion

By this I mean that love shames us when we seek to act without principles, but love honours dignity and mutual respect for our opponents.

Love softens hearts that want outrage, violence, bossing, bullying and sometimes love cannot be spoken, only shown

There is such a widespread disillusionment with how politics is practiced in our country that people feel powerless. That their vote means very little and they are not participants in our democracy.

The absence of love from one to the other eventually insinuates its way into society and partakes in its decay.”

We are all in this together.

My thought for the day

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

 

 

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A damming report on aged care the government cannot ignore

The COVID-19 deaths in our aged care institutions has revealed the dereliction of duty by the federal government, as it is the federal government who is ultimately responsible for setting the standards for their care. This failure, however, is not a recent phenomenon. The Interim Report into Aged Care Quality and Safety released late last year was also damning for the federal government, which I reported within days of its release. It is pertinent to re-publish this article.

* * * * *

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, 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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Tony Abbott still makes me feel sick in the pit of my stomach

1 Sir Robert Menzies and Tony Abbott remain the only two Prime Ministers who one could argue were more British than the British.

Menzies adoration of The Queen was so over the top as to be an embarrassment. Abbott’s love for the Monarchy showed up when he championed its side during the 2019 referendum.

Now we find that Abbott, who was so despised as Australian Prime Minister, that his colleagues got rid of him. Then to make matters worse his constituents voted him out of his seat.

My view of him when he was elected Prime Minister in 2013 was this:

Has Australia ever so blindly elected a man so negatively characterless?

So ignorant of truth and transparency.

So willing to endorse and foster inequality,

So insensitive to those who cannot help themselves.

So illiterate of technology and science.

So oblivious to the needs of women and the aged.

So inept at policy formation and its implementation,

So prone to the language of absurdity.

So pugnacious so confrontational, so self-righteous, in his attitude toward others.

So dismissive of those wanting equality and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

A man so unsophisticated in deep wordily acumen or discernment, yet so religiously motivated.

Yet here he bobs up, being proposed as a British trade envoy to do all the necessary Brexit trade deals.

Tony Abbott as a British trade envoy is not quite comedy but it will do for a serious giggle.

If all they expect of him is the repetitious shaking of hands and gratis smiles at garden parties then he is probably their man.

I expect that the job would demand all the attributes of a leader he never showed as Australia’s number one man.

In that role he was about as useless as an ashtray on a motor bike.

Of course, he was born in England in 1957 and later attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. So draped, was he in his Englishness, that he even, as prime minister, gave the Duke of Edinburgh an Australian knighthood.

The sheilas and blokes of good old Oz were completely gobsmacked with the decision, at the time, and demanded he get a new manager. He has been handling himself for far to0 long was the word from the main bar at Young & Jackson.

Nobody could see what services the Prince had done for us that might justify us giving the wanka a title that we couldn’t receive ourselves. I hope that makes sense.

Well unless you were still a British citizen, you were still eligible for a knighthood. Perhaps a discreet meeting had taken place with Sir Lynton Crosby. Do you get my drift?

There is nothing in Abbott’s background that suggests he is remotely qualified for this job. I mean, one wouldn’t dare put the mother country through such an ordeal.

The UK’s shadow trade secretary, Emily Thornberry was aghast at the appointment, saying:

“I just find this appointment absolutely staggering,” Thornberry said. “On a personal level, I am disgusted that Boris Johnson thinks this offensive, leering, cantankerous, climate change-denying, Trump-worshipping misogynist is the right person to represent our country overseas.”

 

 

In fresh news The Guardian reports that Abbott had admitted that in signing trade deals while he was Prime Minister he never allowed himself to become “side-tracked by peripheral issues such as labour and environmental standards.”

Which is of course in direct opposition to Boris Johnson’s insistence that “workers’ rights and environmental standards would be maintained once Britain leaves the single market and customs union.”

Just to finish off the former Prime Minister put the throttle down. In a speech to the Policy Exchange think tank he said that the economic cost of lockdowns meant families should be allowed to consider letting elderly relatives with the coronavirus die by letting nature take its course.

“Letting nature take its course.” Those words make me feel sick in the labyrinth of my guts.

Abbott claimed it was costing the Australian government as much as $200,000 (£110,000) to give an elderly person an extra year’s life, substantially beyond what governments would usually pay for life-saving drugs.

Abbott said not enough politicians were “thinking like health economists trained to pose uncomfortable questions about the level of deaths we might have to live with.”

That the man could have been a priest is beyond my physical and mental capacity to cope with as I try to manage my way through this crisis.

This conservative thinking of money before lives makes … me want to vomit.

But Abbott’s proposed appointment hasn’t been the only controversy of late.

2 Last Monday, in a bid to redirect attention from the economic bad news he is about to deliver, the treasurer chucked the greatest political hissy-fit since Pauline Hanson objected to vaccinations.

“The biggest policy failure in living memory” so said the Australian Treasurer referring to Victoria’s perceived lack of a COVID-19 plan.

That is the greatest load of hogwash l have ever heard. Menzies got us involved in Vietnam. It cost our country 500 young lives and millions of dollars. Then there was Iraq.

That’s what I call policy failures.

3 Unless there is something I’m missing, I fail to understand all the goings on about Facebook and free news.

It seems to me that If I share something from a Murdoch newspaper on Facebook is it news or free advertising? A link to the newspaper ensures that you are directed away from Facebook to the newspaper in question.

Perhaps they should be paying Facebook. What am I missing?

4 Now let me move onto that never-ending question as to when we might get an anti-corruption bill. Well on Tuesday Paddy Manning wrote in The Monthly that Helen Haines, the independent member for the regional Victorian seat of Indi, put two new bills on notice in the lower house: the Australian Federal Integrity Commission Bill 2020 and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Standards Bill 2020.

It is said that the decisions our politicians make now and upon the ending of this pandemic will shape our future for decades to come.

Therefore, we must rise to the occasion and install an integrity commission. After two years it is obvious the government has no intention of doing so.

I wish the Member for Indi all the very best.

My thought for the day

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

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Newspoll: 50/50 – Will it get any better?

A month ago, Newspoll had the two major parties 53-47 in favour of the Coalition.

Now, courtesy of The Poll Bludger we find from the latest polls that:

The Coalition is down two on the primary vote to 41% and Labor is up three to 36%, with the Greens steady on 11% and One Nation down one to 3%.

Scott Morrison’s still-healthy personal ratings are down on the last three weeks ago, with approval at 64% (down four) and disapproval on 32% (up three). Anthony Albanese is up on both approval, by two points to 43%, and disapproval, by three points to 41%. Morrison’s lead as preferred prime minister is now 58-29, in from 60-25.

What does it all tell you? Well it tells you that things can only get worse for the Coalition. As unemployment increases and the “to let” signs gradually appear on the shop fronts and factories, the Prime Minister’s tendency towards plain bullshit and lying will become ever more present.

Last week showed us just how jittery the Prime Minister – who doesn’t like criticism – really is. He doesn’t seem to think that hundreds of deaths in nursing homes is any fault of his or that his totally un-reasoned diplomacy on China should stand up to scrutiny.

Do you ever analyse what’s happening politically in our country, and abroad and just what the voice of the people is saying about it? By the ‘voice’ I mean the ‘Fourth Estate’ (the mainstream media).

Unfortunately, our lives have become controlled by the noise of this mass media. The sad thing is … that we listen.

Obviously, the aforementioned poll numbers only tell us what the electorate is thinking at that moment, not how they would vote if an election were held today.

As unemployment rises (and it certainly will), business failures and bankruptcies will rise with it and the Coalition’s chances of retaining government will decline.

“This is the recession we had to have.” Paul Keating immortalised that line 30 years ago on November 29, 1990.

There were business failures and bankruptcies. Australia relied on high levels of population growth to prop up consumption and demand, but immigration is a no no in the current circumstances

COVID-19 will be with us for some time, yet, says economist Dr Richard Denniss of The Australia Institute:

“In response to COVID-19, ‘we’ve seen the biggest reduction in population growth since World War II at the same time as the economy is rapidly slowing,’ … as overseas students and immigrant workers have stopped arriving.”

The concern at the moment is that the recession caused by Coalition policies prior to the pandemic, and worsened by it, will be so deep that any hope of coming out of it in the short-term will be about as hopeful as Frydenberg winning the player’s sprint on AFL grand final day.

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

At the moment the Coalition could (reading between the lines) be accused of willingly seeing more old people die in order to get the economy moving again.

When rates, wage rates and operating costs fall low enough that investors decide it’s a good time to invest again then recessions are given a chance of ending and that is what the government is trying to do. Everything is couched in lethargy.

Keeping pensions stagnant, wages low and welfare payments even lower will encourage investment.

Touching subsidies for the rich and privileged will be off limits. Instead they are hoping for a lift in what the famous economist, John Maynard Keynes, called the “animal spirits.”

“The hope is that our “animal spirits” will surge as the lockdown is lifted and liberated citizens eat, drink and be merry — causing the economy to “snap back”, to use Prime Minister Morrison’s phrase.”

Recessions are not just economic occurrences with dire consequences. They carry with them societal hardship; not only do they wreck economies but lives as well. Families under pressure often fall apart, while others battle their way through but become the dregs of society. Relationships become battlefields and people get hurt.

When we go out of our way to help someone less fortunate, we cannot avoid helping ourselves.

Domestic violence has its way and women suffer its misery.

Recessions such as this are slow to recover, change lives and change societies in ways that are often miserable.

Conservative politicians have never had any sort of empathy that would enable them to understand that an economy comes about because a society requires certain elements for it to function or let me put it this way.

The Liberal Party has always been a party of elites and would be’s. The idea that economics and society are intertwined is abhorrent to them. Economics is the domain of the rich and privileged, and society belongs to those of class and privilege.

My thought for the day

For the life of me I fail to understand how anyone could vote for a party who thinks the existing education, aged care and health systems are adequately funded and addresses the needs of the disadvantaged.

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Trump versus Reason (or with God on his side)

My friend, Stuart Whitman wrote on Facebook that:

“Only the Republican National Convention can make the Democrats look good.

For all the Democratic convention’s superficiality and misconnection with the daily struggle of millions of Americans, they look positively competent and sane compared to the Republicans.

The Republican National Convention is a bizarre spectacle of America’s fringe right now at centre-stage with Donald Trump. They had a chance to strategically capture the working-class ground ceded by the elitist Democrats and instead decided to swing further right and indulge their outlandish conspiracy theories and talk about “cancel culture” while nearly 30 million Americans now say they can’t afford enough to feed themselves and their families.

Whoever wins this election, the average American still loses.”

You may or may not agree with Stuart’s point of view however he is correct in saying that their reluctance to target the working class is a lost opportunity.

Since the election of Tony Abbott in Australia and Donald Trump in the United States one characteristic of politics has declined to the point of obsolescence. It is “truth.”

Now you might, at this stage say “here he goes again,” John Lord talking about truth.

Essentially, you are correct and I can only hope that my repetitiveness doesn’t bore you to the point of turning off.

What I’m talking about in this instance is the political pathological liar.

Speaking of liars, check out this recent tweet from President Trump:

 

 

As a liar, Trump makes a great case study.

The American psychologist Jane Velez-Mitchell describes a liar this way.

“I’ve studied pathological liars, and anything they say, they believe, and that’s one of the reasons they’re so convincing, because they have no connection with the truth. It’s a dead issue. It’s like they’re colour-blind to the truth.

So, anything that comes out of their mouths is their reality.”

A reporter had waited five long years to ask Donald Trump one question, writes Helen Sullivan in The Guardian:

“Mr President, after three and a half years [of Trump’s presidency], do you regret at all, all the lying you’ve done to the American people?”

Trump responded with a question of his own. “All the what?” he said.

He looked genuinely shocked that anyone should ask such a question.

As Jane Velez-Mitchel says:

“… anything they say, they believe, and that’s one of the reasons they’re so convincing.”

Another time he asked an aid to bring some figures on COVID-19 to argue his point in an interview, and he couldn’t understand that the interviewer, Jonathan Swan (a former journalist with The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald and the son of coronavirus authority and presenter of the ABC Health Report Dr Norman Swan) couldn’t grasp his truth.

Trump left himself bare-arsed when he couldn’t account for the per-capita death rate, in favour of selected statistics that he couldn’t quite explain.

The reason l keep on about it is simple. Just imagine that telling lies was an accepted part of society and no one stood firm for the truth anymore. That it just didn’t matter and everybody told lies.

Imagine the quandary our everyday lives would be in. We would spend most of our time fact checking. The New York Times can hardly keep up their fact checking of Trumps lies.

My thoughts on the subject are summed up in this short poem I wrote around 20 years ago. It is with this in mind that I observe both US party’s national conventions.

About truth

Of truth we can say, we are all in need

How we use it creates the demarcation

between good, evil; right and wrong

Truth can be fragile but at times requires forcefulness

 

It can be binary or different shades of hue

We can misuse it, abuse it, distort it and with it cause despair

In discussion, we can eliminate it altogether

In debate it corroborates our assertions

 

We can manipulate it to bring about sorrow

We can leave it open to interpretation and disguise our omissions

But we can never ignore it

It is pure only when it is exempt from desires of self-justification

 

Together with rationale, it is the main ingredient of explanation

In its purity, it is the basic evidence of fact

When used to clarify decisions, it is the ultimate influence

Truth is not dependant on age or experience

 

Truth does not compromise or need illusion,

Truth never needs to justify itself. it is what it is

It can only be wise when used wisely

Is there a truth absolute? Yes

 

It’s called observable reason

You see, without truth, we cannot hope to understand what we scrutinize

Without literal truth

We cannot comprehend reason.

 

Trump speaks to God

Yes, he really did say that he speaks to God:

“During a small rally in Minnesota this week, Donald Trump claimed that God spoke to him about the state of our economy and how everything is going to be just fine. Strangely enough, the way God speaks sounds very similar to Trump. I’m sure that’s just a coincidence.”

“He then revealed the conversation he had with God about the economic crisis.”

“You know what that is? That’s right. That’s God testing me,” Trump explained. “He said, you know, you did it once. And I said, ‘Did I do a great job, God? I’m the only one who could do it.’ He said, ‘That you shouldn’t say. Now we’re going to have you do it again.’ I said, ‘OK. I agree. You got me.’ But I did it once. And now I’m doing it again. And you see the kind of numbers that we’re putting up. They’re unbelievable. Best job numbers ever. Three months, more jobs in the last three months than ever before.”

As usual he had his facts wrong but he believed everything he said to be true. In my previous piece I wrote about the Christian who never goes to church. If he believes that God spoke to him then besides being pathological, he may also be delusional but many Evangelical Christians will believe him.

By saying that he spoke to God, Trump is not only falsifying evidence, in so much as ‘god is love’ you would think that his/her main thoughts would be with the 180,000 US citizens who have died from COVID-19, as well as those who are still suffering. After all, he/she is a benevolent all-loving entity. Only in America would one claim God for such purposes. It is only there that they would believe him.

My thought for the day

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

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They know Trump is a basket case, but …

The American media called its previous election the most important ever. They did so in the belief that voters in general had become disillusioned with its democracy and the partisan state of its politics.

All are true, because after four years of Trump madness nothing has changed.

Well, that’s not altogether true because things have become decidedly worse.

If pushed a little most Americans would admit that their President is a mental cot case and Australians would put it rather more forcibly: “A dead-set wanker of the first order.”

Around this time prior to the last election I wrote a piece “Only in America: Looking at Trump from ‘Down Under”. In it I voiced my view of the Trump candidacy for President of the United States of America.

Here is a sample.

“From Down Under we see a sick deluded man of no redeeming features, full of racial hatred, bile and misogyny. A deluded pathetic liar unsuitable for the highest office in the land, if not the world. He sees complex problems and impregnates them with populism and implausible black and white solutions.

He is a person of limited intellect and understanding only capable of seeing the world through the prism of his own wealth. The far edges of knowledge seem to have passed him by. Matters requiring deep philosophical consideration seem beyond him.

His opinions on subjects of internal and international importance are so shallow that one would think he spent the entirety of his youth in the wading pool at the local swimming pool, or six years in grade 6 and never academically advanced.

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

Is America to have, an ignoramus of first world order, as President?

It might be said that my description of Trump has descended into what Americans call hyperbole.

If I have, I make no apologies.”

And so, it came to pass that Donald Trump was elected President. “What has transpired since?” one has to ask. “What have we learnt from appointing this man President?”

1 Well his tax returns have never been made public although that might change soon despite further attempts to ever have them disclosed.

Last Thursday a federal judge cleared the way for Manhattan’s top prosecutor to get Donald Trump’s tax returns, rejecting a last-ditch attempt by his lawyers to block a subpoena issued to his accounting firm.

Will it happen before the election? Time (what is left of it) will tell.

2 We have learnt that all the ballyhoo about Trump’s lying (how long is that New York Times’ list of his lies now?) was in fact true. He lies like no other public figure born before or after him yet he believes his every word is sugar coated with his own fictional truth.

3 He went to great lengths to hide his college results (but called himself a genius):

“Michael Cohen revealed that, under the direction of President Trump, he had sent letters to Trump’s high schools, colleges and the College Board threatening them with legal action and jail time if they ever released Trump’s academic records.“

4 The ‘businessman’ who bankrupted 3 casinos and lost over $1B in 10 yrs. Russ Buettner and Susanne Craig of the New York Times reported that:

“By the time his master-of-the-universe memoir “Trump: The Art of the Deal” hit bookstores in 1987, Donald J. Trump was already in deep financial distress, losing tens of millions of dollars on troubled business deals, according to previously unrevealed figures from his federal income tax returns.”

5 The ‘playboy’ who pays for sex:

“Two months before Donald Trump was elected president, his long-time fixer, Michael Cohen, made a secret recording of the two men discussing a hush payment to Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who said she once had an affair with Trump, the New York Times reports. Now the FBI has the tapes.”

6 The ‘virologist’ who knows more than Dr. Fauci. The President said:

“I would love to have the country opened up, and just raring’ to go by Easter,” he said, on Fox News. “You’ll have packed churches all over our country. I think it’ll be a beautiful time.”

And Dr Fauci? What did he say? Well …

“You stay completely apolitical and non-ideological, and you stick to what it is that you do. I’m a scientist and I’m a physician. And that’s it.”

7 The so called ‘leader of the free world’ who said he “fell in love” with North Korea’s dictator, Kim Jong-un.

“We went back and forth, then we fell in love. He wrote me beautiful letters. And they are great letters. We fell in love,” Trump boasted during a West Virginia rally.

 

 

8 The ‘Christian’ who doesn’t go to church.

“And Americans overall don’t think Trump is particularly religious: A majority say Trump is “not too” (23%) or “not at all” (40%) religious, while 28% say he’s “somewhat” religious and only 7% say he’s “very religious,” according to a new Pew Research Center survey.”

9 The ‘President’ who committed what could amount to TREASON by turning a blind eye to allegations of Russian bounties on US soldiers. President Trump:

“… dismissed the ongoing scandal surrounding allegations of bounties being placed on U.S. troops in Afghanistan as “a made up fake news media hoax” designed to hurt his reputation.”

10 The ‘unifier’ who calls white supremacists “very fine people.”

“Just 11% agree with the sentiment that it’s possible for white supremacists and neo-Nazis to be ‘very fine people,’ to 69% who say that’s not possible.”

11 The ‘philanthropist’ who defrauds charity.

In 2016 in an article for The Atlantic Connor Friedersdorf reported that:

“You said you’ve given more than $100 million to charity over the last five years,” The Washington Post’s Drew Hartwell challenged the billionaire celebrity during an interview. “But when you look into the money that was given to the Donald J. Trump Foundation,” he added, “you haven’t donated any actual money.”

12 The ‘patriot’ who dodged the draft five times:

“Trump, who attended the private New York Military Academy as a young man, received five military draft deferments during the Vietnam War, including one medical deferment after he was diagnosed with bone spurs in his foot.”

13 The “innocent man” who refuses to testify:

“President Donald Trump … said he is “an innocent man,” and also claimed that special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is “illegal.”

“Cohen testified about multiple potentially criminal acts by the president and by his company, related hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and alleged artificial inflation and deflation of Trump Organization assets.”

House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler said Sunday on ABC News’s “This Week” that he believes that Trump obstructed justice. Nadler, D-NY, also said his committee, which would lead any impeachment effort against Trump, will request documents from more than five dozen people in the president’s circle, including his son Donald Trump Jr. and top Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg.”

The President was impeached but still had refused to testify.

 

 

14 The ‘President’ who takes no responsibility. He lies and blames others but never takes personal responsibility.

Donald Trump said he will take no responsibility if Americans inject or otherwise consume disinfectant to kill COVID-19, even though he suggested it during press conference.

“No, I don’t,” the president said when asked about Maryland’s governor saying his government got calls from people asking if they should.

15 The ‘tough, strong man’ who wears makeup and hairspray.

No comment. You can see as much as I can. He also has an inflated view of the size of certain things.

16 The ‘deal maker’ who has yet to close a deal:

“Trump biographer Michael D’Antonio said that where international affairs are concerned, the president appears more interested having something showy to announce than in long-term problem-solving.”

If I have opened your eyes to something new about the POTUS, that in itself is rewarding. However, the eyes of the world need to be opened to reveal the nefarious implications of voting into power this mindless despot.

The first night of the Democratic National Convention saw former Republican Ohio Gov. John Kasich, who just four years ago sought the Republican presidential nomination, making the case for Joe Biden’s candidacy.

“The former Tea Party Republican said he agreed to speak at the convention after the Biden campaign asked him to because “my Republican affiliation is outweighed by my concern about the direction of the country.”

How has it come to this?

“I will make America great again,” Trump shouted from the highest peaks of the mountain of illusion.

The American natural inclination for technology has seen them take their inventions to unprecedented levels but its economics is badly in decline and a deep and lasting recession confronts them.

They don’t seem to care and go on spending more on defence than the rest of the world put together. Debt is but a word that hinders growth.

The science of climate change shows that they and the rest of us are looking at an impending environmental disaster of catastrophic proportions.

But Trump refuses to believe it. As with COVID-19, he knows better. They don’t believe in evolution either.

Thirty-eight million people live in poverty and the Republicans have no voice against it. Inequality is a problem with only the Left acknowledging it. The Right don’t give a damn. Trump plans to eliminate pensions and Medicade.

Trickle-down economics and deindustrialisation are responsible for a huge loss of jobs, but who cares? Not Donald Trump.

The Right cling to the God of capitalism believing that making the rich even richer, will solve the problem.

Religion has a rather odd hold on the most technologically advanced country in the world,

The rich citizens and corporations seem to have boycotted paying tax. Corruption runs like rust through the community.

Donald Trump appears to pay no federal income taxes and uses his foundation to pay his legal bills.

Periodic mass killings at schools, malls, movie theatres and other public places continue but there are those who would soften our gun laws.

The problem of police committing public executions of black people in their streets is as much a truth today as it was 50 years ago.

Only a fool would deny that racism is rampart.

The reality is that it has a media that produces an avalanche of political and cultural untruths. It is based on the assumption that in a declining market it is legitimate to lie and disseminate political, intellectual and cultural discourse with a perverse sensationalism, emotionalism and pathetic dishonesty to arrest a declining market.

American media is saturated with highly paid commentators whose job it is to titillate, gossip and contaminate the airwaves and television screens with nonsensical garbage where people talk up negative possibilities. Selling advertising comes first and it’s done in any manner it can be.

Mass entertainment, both violent and sexually explicit, contaminates the cultural life of the country. American reality television conspired to produce a “reality” presidential candidate and look at the results.

“There’s no business-like show business.”

And such is his hatred of Obama, that Trump is still is trying to obliterate his legacy by dismantling all US social/health programs, environmental regulations, civil rights legislations, and the elimination of the federal minimum wage.

If he wins again, Obamacare would be immediately put to bed and
private insurance would have a ‘free ride’ over US healthcare coverage.

And Trump has promised a media/press ‘crackdown’ on contrary news reporting saying that Fox News is the only outlet that tells the truth. A lie upon a lie.

Programmes like Planned Parenthood have been abolished. LGBT laws have been overturned. Same-sex marriage has been achieved but much civil rights legislation in the US has been reversed.

Privatisation of Social Security, and Veterans Administration is becoming a reality.

By building a wall with borrowed money, President Trump has placed his nation in greater debt. And Mexico was supposed to pay.

International foreign relations have been be turned on its head.

“I will make America great again,’’ Trump shouted from the highest peaks of the mountain of illusion but whatever measure he has been a catastrophic failure.

Hundreds of millions of Americans have woken up. The dream has ended. The promise that everyone can be whoever they want to be and have whatever they want, if they would just work hard, and trust in God, is dead.

American exceptionalism in the land of milk and honey has died with it and the inclusive democracy that was once the shining light of the world has also. Americans are now just spectators, hostages to broken systems of government.

Chaos abounds and the common good is forgotten.

The political, cultural and intellectual discourse has been so effectively muted by the contamination of those who would seek power for power’s sake.

They have successfully stifled the intellectual exchange of ideas.

We the people of our enlightened societies feel betrayed by a lack of leadership, of vision.

Under Trump capitalistic neo-liberal ideology seems to have won the day and we, the people, have given up. The words we use to describe these events, the austerity, and the lack of transparency, uncontrolled capitalism and the death of truth are of themselves devoid of concern and fight.

And in our powerlessness, we listen to the voices of the absurd, to the promises of demigods and racists in the absence of ideas about how to fix things.

In America the voice of Trump is heard by those who cannot see that the great American dream has ended and those who have lost faith in institutionalised politics see no future.

What used to be a beacon of light to the free world, ‘the American Presidency’ is now but a reminder of the decline of a once great nation.

What Australians dislike about Americans is their pomposity and self-righteousness, their know-all attitude and belief in their own self-importance – for which we have a saying; “They think their shit doesn’t stink.”

Some would say that they are the only people in the world that believe their own bullshit.

Whatever happens in America – apart from frequent mass murders – usually reinvents itself in Australia. Greed is now God. Paying no tax has become a sport with no rules. Narcissism is rampart and religion has more to say than it should.

Again, how did it come to this?

It did so because the people gave licence to themselves to believe the lies. They fell for the mantra of hatred and fear they were so delicately indoctrinated with.

They allowed themselves to be conned into believing that poverty is the fault of the victim, but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

My thought for the day

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

PS: To think that the Republican Party could ever consider a megalomaniac like Trump as a nominee to run for the Presidency in the first place illustrates just how low the GOP have fallen.

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When ‘sorry’ seems to be the hardest word

The Prime Minister’s sorrowful words over the deaths in aged care homes could hardly be described as those of a sincere man.

l’m sorry to say it but they lacked the necessary honesty to be taken seriously. In my view apologies should be full of sincerity, delivered with appropriate remorse and if possible with a commitment to right a wrong.

Scott Morrison – when he does apologise – usually precedes it with a cavalcade of indulgent words of self-praise intended to compliment he and his government. This he did again in his apology for the disastrous events in commonwealth-run aged care homes.

It is most unusual to hear the Prime Minister apologise for anything, but on the deaths at government-run aged care facilities he has issued one of sorrowful defiance. Not exactly an apology.

The Royal Commission into Aged Care insists that no plan existed and Morrison reckons there was. Simple, just produce it and it’s settled.

But that aside, would it not be better to decide just how much value we place on the lives of our elderly citizens who have so steadfastly served the nation, and act accordingly? Do we have to call them clients and measure their value by profit in some annual report? “I wouldn’t send my own mother there“ rings true as do all the stories we hear about these, before death, resting places.

Dennis Atkins in The New Daily reports that Morrison “copped a punch” from the Royal Commission. Counsel assisting Peter Rosen QC gave Morrison a decent foot up the Kyber Pass finding that:

“… the government had no real infection control plan for COVID-19 related problems, all of which were foreseeable.“

“He said there was complacency and hubris at a federal level stemming from a sense of self-congratulation.”

Which of course leaves me with the most puzzling of questions. That being, that at the end of their third term in office the government will have served close to nine years with three prime ministers. During that time they have committed numerous very serious misdemeanours, including the rejection of climate change. The current prime minister has a list as long as the Flemington straight. So how come his popularity sits at 68 per cent?

The Aged Care Minister, Tasmanian Senator Richard Colbeck, the minister whose name is as memorable as the deputy prime minister’s, even came out from hibernation, uttered a few words that nobody remembers, or understood, and quickly went back to sleep.

They then pushed forward Professor Brendan Murphy who had earned a reputation during the crisis and is now head of the Commonwealth Health Department.

He in turn had trouble with the authority of the Royal Commission and his evidence was lost in his amateurish attempts at defending the government’s actions and tried to outline just how “plan prepared” they were. It was a hoax of sorts.

The Royal Commissioner gave him a wrap over the knuckles with a sit still and shut up instruction.

Prime Minister Morrison himself had spent the week in Canberra rugged up against the Canberra weather and the upcoming reports. Besides the aged care pasting he was expecting another regarding the Ruby Princess. This time for not allowing evidence.

Andrew Probyn tweeted that on March 15 – four days before the Ruby Princess docked saying that all cruise ships would be “directly under the command of the Australian Border Force.”

 

 

The fact that the government wouldn’t allow senior public servants to appear at the inquiry only serves to ignite flames of doubt. That they have something to hide. Without this evidence the report must be considered fundamentally flawed.

By this time bashing the Victorian Premier had become somewhat of a blood sport. The Melbourne Herald Sun even ran a popularity poll only to find they backed the wrong horse – and reported it on page 13 of a later edition.

 

Image from pedestrian.tv

It was to become a sport without a name played out each day as though there was no greater media occupation than to find out what Daniel Andrews had or hadn’t done the day before. They even overlooked the fact that his own side were feeding the “Blame Dan” frenzy.

Morrison, in the meantime, said everyone was doing their best and he was sorry. In the background his acolytes were doing as much damage as they could.

Morrison was, as animals do, marking clear lines of demarcation. If things went wrong with roles, responsibilities and outcomes then it was Andrews’ duty to explain, but being sympathetic and sorry was his.

Morrison is and has always been a man unable to search within when he is wrong. Instead he apportions blame to others. He juts his chin to display his arrogance and regret at having to display an ounce of honesty.

It’s not the weak that are unable to say sorry. It’s the strong and the privileged.

The wrongs of the Aged Care system have been known for many years. Twenty or more reports have been delivered to government with recommendations that could have been implemented at any time. Morrison has refused to do so and won’t tell us why.

It is wrong to say that he has ripped billions from the sector because people are rapidly becoming older, consequently government spends more. The real question is are we spending enough.

For a Christian thoroughly immersed  in the empathetic teachings of Jesus he allows none to filter into his politics.

In fact, l read last week that 2601 was the current number of days that  nearly 400 innocent humans in PNG, Nauru, and  200 people in onshore detention centres had spent in detention despite having never committed a crime.

If ever you needed an example of just how cruel our Prime Minister and his off-sider in inhumanity Peter Dutton can be then you only need to look at our treatment of refugees.

Watch out for the October budget.

Unless there are worldwide changes in leadership then we can hold out little hope for massive changes in the way democracy incorporates its politics.

It all relates to a gradual rise in narcissism and inequality together with a demise in compassion that illustrates the state of the world.

My thought for the day

Our lives should be subject to constant reflection, otherwise the way forward is locked into the constraints of today’s thoughts.

PS: On concluding this piece I note that the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has apologised “unreservedly” to anyone affected by community transmission resulting from the disembarkation of the Ruby Princess.

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Wear the bastards down – that’s what we have to do

Only our politicians could think of reasons why they in their personal conduct, their workplace and the political decisions they make, shouldn’t be investigated for suspected wrongdoing.

With that statement l inform you that a parliamentary committee made up of three conservative and two Labor MPs has, this week, rejected outright a code of conduct and establishing an independent parliamentary standards commissioner.

Movement on the proposed federal anti-corruption commission has been placed in quarantine. Earlier this year, the attorney general, Christian Porter, indicated that draft legislation had been ready for release but was delayed due to COVID-19.

How often will they use that excuse in the future?

The government has already missed several self-imposed deadlines to introduce its legislation. The model it has proposed has been widely criticised as weak as water and in need of a decent stir.

There are many and varied reasons as to why we need a Federal Integrity Commission. All in their own way demand your attention. Corruption stands out amongst them.

However, in this instance l put to you that just one wrongdoing justifies the establishment of a commission to keep the bastards honest. Of course, if you accept that it’s OK for our politicians to tell us lies, half-truths and lies by omission then you will obviously disagree.

Lying is not good under most circumstances, especially in the public domain. l have always maintained that the Australian public simply cannot expect good policy to start emanating from government until we begin to clean up the system itself. Bill Shorten committed Labor to do so but the Coalition came in late in the campaign and the voices in support were but a whisper. History shows that Labor lost and the LNP thus far has reneged on its promise.

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

Bill Shorten described:

“… restoring public confidence in Australia’s democratic system as “bigger than me versus Morrison, bigger than Labor versus Liberal” and crucial to winning back trust.”

“Because the most corrosive sentiment in democracies around the world is the idea that politicians are only in it for themselves.”

But if the commission doesn’t have authority similar to a Royal Commission, independence with broad jurisdiction, with all the investigative powers it requires and is without government interference then all will be in vain.

Why do we need a Federal Integrity Commission?

On Wednesday the Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee released a report on a Greens reform proposal, which:

“… sought to establish a statutory, independently enforced code of conduct to govern the behaviour of parliamentarians.”

In its wisdom, the committee concluded that:

“Based on the evidence before it, this committee is not persuaded that the circumstances have now changed such that there is a strong argument for introducing a code.”

Lying, misinformation, lying by omission, subliminally implied suggestions, straightforward propaganda, deliberate scare-campaigning and any form of untruthful communication has become the norm in the way politicians and the media converse with the public. So normal and long applied has this form of conversation become that we are now unquestioning of it.

That’s why we need a Federal Integrity Commission.

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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What a disaster the two peas in a pod have proven to be

1 The President of the United States has yet again demonstrated a capacity for vindictiveness that is beyond most people. That a man such as Trump could ever become POTUS says as much about the people of the USA as it does about Trump himself.

This time, or should I say, yet again, he has directed it at those without the power to respond.

By signing executive actions that broadly challenge the powers that separate the White House and Capital Hill. He is proposing to eliminate payroll tax. Now that might sound OK to some until you find out that the receipts from the tax goes into a fund that in turn finances Medicare and social security.

As if all the suffering from COVID-19 isn’t enough he is now, by Presidential decree, attempting to bypass Congress and make dramatic changes to tax and spending policy.

Trump says he will eliminate payroll tax if re-elected. In short this means that the United States will no longer support its citizens in the face of poverty.

Everything he does is vindictive. In my view another four years of Trump would see the USA go into such decline that it may never recover.

Of his actions he said this “Will take care of pretty much this entire situation.” What that means is anyone’s guess.

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

2 Back to good old Aus. Conservative MPs and its media are trying to make the most of what might yet prove to be stupid mistakes by a few people the Victorian government was trying to fit into a jobs plan.

In times of crisis, even with the best intent disastrous mistakes will happen and governments of the right take much pleasure in pointing them out. Pink batts and school halls, for example.

Where they are up against it on this one is that their own government has responsibility for aged care and 68% of COVID-19-related deaths in Australia had occurred in nursing homes.

Added to this is their own deplorable record of scandal and humiliation:

A The failure of the Federal Government and the Private Health Industry to provide adequate care has resulted in as many as 162 people losing their lives.

B Robodebt has also led many poor souls to take their own lives.

C Angus Taylor has made both himself and his Government look foolish with his Watergate and Grassgate scandals.

D The Sports Grants affair that went on for months and if not for the virus would probably still be commanding headlines was of itself enough, in ordinary circumstances, be enough for a government.

E Then there were the bush fire failures with the Prime Minister taking a holiday with the embers still burning.

F Then we have an avalanche of no tender government contracts to former Liberal staffers.

G Add to the list the AFP raid on the AWU with no outcome.

H And Stuart Roberts’ Rolex and internet usage.

I Its failure to recognise faults in the financial sector.

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

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

It goes without saying and his popularity of 68% backs me up that Scott Morrison is a consummate politician. Albeit a rather unscrupulous one with a capacity to somehow suggest that everyone else is at fault when he obviously is.

This attribution of blame is demonstrated with Victoria’s second wave of coronavirus infections and its subsequent handling of the it. At every press conference and every interview the Prime Minister and his ministers take every opportunity to cast doubt on the Victorian Premier’s accountability but when asked if they should be accountable for the deaths in nursing homes the Prime Minister, after fluffing up the surrounds of the question, gives answers like the following, as reported by Katherine Murphy of The Guardian:

“But Morrison saw the death rate through a different prism than a prime minister having a specific, negative charge to answer. Morrison said it was terrible and tragic that elderly Australians had died, but “sadly” it was not surprising that fatalities were concentrated in aged care because elderly people were “the most vulnerable in our community.”

“The aged care regulator was also being accused of causing a “catastrophic communications failure” causing a “potentially deadly delay” after revelations it took them four days to inform the government about a COVID-19 outbreak at Melbourne’s St Basil’s aged care home.”

“Unfortunately for the prime minister, in a forum outside the press conference, the counsel assisting the aged care royal commission was less glass-half-full. In an opening statement, counsel suggested evidence would show neither the health department nor the aged care regulator developed a Covid-19 plan specifically for aged care – which sounds like a commonwealth-specific deficiency.”

Just who is accountable? Well everyone is, including all politicians. However, Scott Morrison thinks that everyone else is … except him.

The two peas in a pod I refer to have similar characteristics. They both blame others, they both lie like it’s a gift to be demonstrated.

My thought for the day

I don’t mind the criticism but please don’t do it on an empty head.

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From Abbott to Morrison: by God you need patience

In August 2016 I wrote a piece about dysfunctional government and how much patience was needed if one was to have any confidence in conservative governments ever reversing their incompetence.

There is probably no need for me to tell you that Tony Abbott won government in 2013 – he poured his ideology over society in a period of disastrous dysfunctional leadership that saw him warned by his party that he needed to shape up or ship out.

His answer was to say that “Good government starts today” and we all wondered why it didn’t start on day one.

It never came, of course, and yet another Prime Minister in Malcolm Turnbull not only promised better government, but a more open one that would listen and be more transparent.

Now I am a patient man, but I must say it’s not infinite. I’m still waiting for it to happen. Take for example the kerfuffle at the time over the banking sector.

Blind Freddy knew that the banks had been ripping off their customers for yonks. There is ample evidence that they had destroyed the lives of many thousands of people.

The conduct of their financial advisers was criminal and a drover’s dog knew that they had manipulated interest rates, even colluded on them.

In short, they had behaved criminally. I recall thinking at the time that if a government that was hopelessly dysfunctional can have a Royal Commission into alleged corruption in the Union Movement, why can it not have one into our financial institutions?

Well, you all know what happened after that. The government relentlessly resisted a financial services Royal Commission until the scandal became bigger than Ben Hur and the chariots of fire were let loose.

Good conservative governance requires patience. Lots of it. Which rather laboriously brings me to my point.

Seven long years after Tony Abbott spoke those now infamous words, “Good government starts today” I am still mustering every ounce of something that is very foreign to me. I am by nature a very impatient man.

And so it was when I learnt that none of the $250 million set aside for ‘The Arts’ in June had been allocated.

Art in all it’s forms is just a reflection of society.

By God, they didn’t take long deciding on the allocation of funds prior to the last election.

Now being a thespian of long-standing, a composer of poetry, short story writer and portrait artist,  I was a touch upset for those in the arts who are now unemployed. Well, I’m more than a touch upset, I’m actually filthy on the government that since the announcement by Minister Paul Fletcher on 25 June, nothing has been done.

“Thousands of jobs across Australia’s arts industry will be backed with a new $250 million targeted package to help restart the creative economy and get the entertainment, arts and screen sectors back to work, as they rebuild from the impacts of COVID-19.”

“We are backing over 600,000 Australians in the cultural and creative sectors whose work contributes $112 billion to our economy. These sectors have been hit hard during the pandemic, and the Government’s investment will play an important role in the nation’s economic recovery,” Minister Fletcher said.

Surely, in the circumstances we find ourselves, time is of the essence. Drawing up the guidelines for the allocation of funds could be done overnight. As I said the sports rorts funding was a very hasty effort. They didn’t waste any time with that.

Some six weeks have now flowed under the bridge since the announcement of the arts package. The Office of the Arts has submitted the draft guidelines but Minister Fletcher is sitting on them.

Once the Minister gives the go-ahead it will take another eight to twelve weeks for the cash to start flowing. So it will be November before anyone gets funding. Eight months after the announcement meaning we won’t see any production until the New Year.

Please forgive my impatience but I thought we were in some sort of crisis.

My thought for the day

An artist creates a sculpture alone; a painter uses a brush in isolation. But music forms a community, where the Spirit of life can be felt.

It didn’t take him long to give Murdoch another $10 million on top of the previous $30 million. Still waiting on an answer as to what for. Just be patient.

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‘Aged care’ should be exactly that, and not places where government determines how you live and die

As Prime Minister, Scott Morrison must take responsibility for aged care.

Most people of my vintage would have had the experience, the responsibility, of seeing that your parent’s last days on earth are as serene as is humanly possible.

For most, it is an experience of the celebration of their life. For others, the finding of a suitable nursing home can be a distressing time.

Death for the religious is the gift of moving from one life to another. For others, it is just the ending of normality; the cycle of life’s ending. It is not about the length of it but the depth of it.

For me, being told that the life we are living is a forerunner or introduction to better one serves only to devalue the one we have, but death is not the mystery it is made out to be. It is simply the reverse of the other mystery we call birth. Whatever the circumstance, dignity and the person’s final wishes are paramount.

The conclusion of our life ends in many, often-complicated ways. Ethnicity, and religion will frequently dictate the manner in which we die.

The way a society and its government views aged care (our final days) dictates the manner in which we see out our last days and with three years as Treasurer and two as Prime Minister, it is here that Prime Minister Scott Morrison must take responsibility for aged care.

A Death Certificate might show proof of death but the legacy you leave behind will demonstrate how you lived.

After 20 reports and an ongoing Royal Commission, no ignorance can be pleaded here.

The absence of any scrutiny on this subject has come about because our democracy hasn’t been functioning as it should.

Federal Parliament was supposed to sit last week. The decision not to was taken a couple of weeks before, on medical advice. Whether the Prime Minister is deliberately dodging the Parliament is up for debate but it has to be said that he doesn’t take kindly to criticism.

It is difficult to imagine that places responsible for the health of the aged could become breeding places for COVID-19 yet 10 per cent of Victoria’s aged care homes have now seen outbreaks.

My wife and I have had the rather unpleasant experience of hopping from one aged care home to another trying to find suitable care. Daniel Andrews isn’t the first to utter the words; “I wouldn’t send my own mother there.”

It wouldn’t surprise you if I said that the treatment of some residents has been disgusting. Hence Andrews’ comment.

At times there are 100 residents for one nurse, which of course is totally inadequate.

I believe that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

Now if the federal government – who runs private health care – knew that the elderly were the age group most vulnerable to COVID-19 then you would think they would have paid greater attention to their living conditions.

So, in part the Morrison government is responsible for Victoria’s second wave. The great crime is knowing and doing nothing. How could they possibly have just ignored it?

All 11 deaths in Victoria last Monday were at privately owned nursing homes that ultimately the federal government has responsibility for. (Shades of pink batts.)

Friends may leave your presence but their impression remains.

The Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck refused to name the aged care facilities in Victoria battling outbreaks of coronavirus on the basis of “reputational’ fears.” Yes, they are afraid it may damage their business.

 

Yes, you heard that correctly. They are afraid it may damage the reputation of their business. Well many of them should be thrown out on their ears and it is also fair to say that the government’s inaction on issues they knew about makes them responsible for the deaths of many elderly folk.

It’s as though these places are just God’s waiting room and there is little point to interior décor or excellent sanitary conditions.

“Reputational issues”! Lord, spare me.

The Australian reported (fire walled) that 65 per cent of the country’s total 221 coronavirus deaths have been in aged-care facilities. (Read here in The Monthly for an analyses.)

It is, however, particularly galling that the problems within the health care industry were not discussed, and seriously so.

Paddy Manning in The Monthly, reports that:

“Even conservative Liberal backbencher Concetta Fierravanti-Wells is angry. David Crowe revealed this morning that Fierravanti-Wells, writing in a submission to the aged-care royal commission, said that the Abbott government (including then social services minister Scott Morrison) “sowed the seeds of the predicament that the aged-care sector is facing today”. Fierravanti-Wells had held the aged-care portfolio in opposition and developed plans to reform the sector based on Productivity Commission recommendations, but her policies were dumped when the Abbott government was elected and she was shifted into multicultural affairs.”

More so given that they had received a scathing interim report from the Royal Commission. This makes Morrison’s inaction positively more dreadful.

His usual response in similar situations is to blame others, but he is on his own on this one.

The fact is that given the Victorian outcome it is shameful that he has done nothing since the release of the report.

The Parliament should have been debating this issue and Albanese (and others) would have the opportunity to question Morrison about the inaction but it appears our democracy has also been disgracefully quarantined.

Morrison seems to get away with enough from the Murdoch-led media in Australia and he goes unquestioned on important matters.

However on Q&A last Monday a few pointed questions were asked:

“Coalition MP Andrew Laming, a former doctor, was asked why the federal government had not done more to prevent the outbreaks in aged care.

Q&A’s host, Hamish Macdonald, asked him why a 2018 report into aged care, written by Prof John Polares, had not received a detailed response from the government.

“There has to be a response,” he said. And it has to be given to the professor.”

Two years have since past. Anyway his answer seemed to go through to the keeper with a minimum of swing, took a nick but, no appeal was made.

“The Labor MP Ged Kearney, a former registered nurse whose father-in-law died of COVID-19, said: ‘The Morrison government has failed aged care’.

Dr Vyom Sharma, a Melbourne GP, agreed and said a broader view was needed to understand why people might have not been following isolation rules.

‘We have to look at the systems approach here,’ he said. “Why aren’t people doing this? Could it be because people are waiting long periods of time for their test results to come back? Could be because we had no paid pandemic leave until very recently.”

Later in the program, Golding told the panel that the situation at St Basil’s had been ‘a catastrophic failure’ when her mother was being evacuated.”

Perhaps now it’s obvious why Morrison might not have been so keen for the Parliament to meet. He loves a soapbox where his words escape pursed lips at the rate of 10 a second, undefined and unchecked. But not in a Parliament where there are penalties for lying.

Albanese has been onto it, saying that Morrison must answer why he has made no effort to clean up these privately owned Aged Care Homes where profit comes before human health.

I for one would love to hear his answers.

My thought for the day

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness… You are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.

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Morrison, Murdoch, Trump: A week of shambles

There are so many matters ripe for your attention in this conservative capitalistic world, but mostly we just let them pass us by without much consideration. My “to read” file is chockers with things I told myself I must read but despite my best intentions I just don’t get around to it.

We have become so apathetic towards things that really matter that we barely stop to think of there imposition on our daily lives. And mostly all are as a result of the decisions our politicians make

So I thought I would just list a few, from the trivial to the serious, and ask that you reflect on them.

1 After an initial success over COVID-19 Victorians are now tired, shocked, anxious, stressed and frankly sick of it all, but the fight against this thing, this virus, must go on and people must obey the rules. If they don’t they could be responsible for the deaths of many of their fellow citizens.

Would you like that on your conscience?

2 The search is on for those three missing Palace Letters. Where they got to is anyone’s guess. Perhaps the AFP could help. They were discovered missing around July 18. As my mother used to say “Funny buggers goin’ on”

3 Now you know that fellow Tim Wilson, well it seems he provided direct assistance to the Institute of Public Affairs whilst he was the highly paid human rights commissioner, and at the same time he was soliciting endorsement for the 2016 election.

Well that’s what previously secret correspondence shows. Nothing surprises with our Tim.

4 Let’s start this one with a few tweets.

 

(I wonder why this is such big news. Any normal person would be disgusted with their particular brand of gutter journalism.)

 

Earlier this year a spokesman for James Murdoch said he and wife Kathryn were particularly disappointed with climate change denial by News Corp’s Australian outlets. Ah that explains it.

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

5 That’s not all. Newscorp given yet another $10m for Foxtell on top of the $30m of taxpayer’s dollars they got a year or two back and the Minister at the time could never adequately explain why. We have a government without any accountability.

We are giving taxpayer money to commercial TV. What on earth for?

6 “I wouldn’t let my mum be in some of these places,” the Victorian premier said of the privately run and funded aged care facilities. I can attest to his statement.

Profit before care is their mantra and they are not required to have a registered nurse on duty.

Morrison is really feeling the heat on this one. Professional medical care is in the hands of visiting GPs. Greg hunt threw a capitalistic fit on Andrew’s attack over this means of making money. Recent events should be reported to the Royal Commission.

Will we ever grow intellectually to the point where we are able to discern and understand the potential for the good within us?

7 Just a thought, but do we have to spend billions on armory for wars we can never hope to win?

8 People are being kidnapped and thrown into un-marked cars on the streets of Portland. Reminds me somewhat of the CIA in Chile when the CIA took over the country and installed Pinochet.

9 Further to that, in the US last week rent support ended and financial subsidies have now ceased. For millions of people it means no money for rent or health insurance.

10 Frydenberg talks about his love for Thatcher and Reagan, as though they were conservative geniuses when we all know that Trump was the only genius from the right of politics.

Anyway, Thatcher did close the mines and in doing so creating massive unemployment. Now I wonder if that’s what Josh has in mind.

Poverty is the fault of the victim but wealth comes from virtue and both are the natural order of things.

11 And just to prove that the world hasn’t changed, a reporter questioned Trump on his ‘expert’ doctor who believes In Alien DNA and Sex Dreams With Demons causing cysts. The Doctor who also part of Firepower Ministries. Now that’s a surprise!

“She has often claimed that gynaecological problems like cysts and endometriosis are in fact caused by people having sex in their dreams with demons and witches, She alleges alien DNA is currently used in medical treatments, and that scientists are cooking up a vaccine to prevent people from being religious.”

Trump bolted away after that question.

Sometimes wisdom jumps a generation. Well we can always hope.

12 A demonstration of the ultimate failure of any society must be the prosecution of 10-year-old kids. A society that punishes and blames its children is a failed one. Biwa Kwan reports on SBS reports that:

“Of the nearly 600 children incarcerated in Australia each year, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander kids are over-represented. Close to 100 per cent of the youths in jail in the Northern Territory are Indigenous Australians.“

Something is drastically wrong with the moral compass of a nation when it legislates to jail 10-year-olds.

13 Unbelievable! From Julian Borger in The Guardian:

“The Trump administration has been consulting the former government lawyer who wrote the legal justification for waterboarding on how the president might try to rule by decree.”

Will it come to that? It very well could.

Some countries make a habit of institutionalising mediocre minds.

14 Now there are fresh claims that the Ruby Princess debacle is the fault of a Border Force official who misread a document.

Really?

15 The Treasury Secretary Steven Kennedy gave evidence to the Senate select committee on COVID-19 last week and guess what? The figures handed down by Treasurer Josh Freydenberg are already out of date.

16 The Prime Minister’s very secret COVID-19 commission is fast becoming just that. The PM’s department in refusing to release any documents associated with its work further entrenches the thought that they only have coal on their minds.

We have the most secret government in my lifetime. One that even refuses to meet in Canberra to discuss the government’s programs.

My thought for the day

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

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“You bastard,” I thought to myself

The question on Facebook was; “Do you know anyone with COVID-19?” And further reading gave every indication that the person behind the question was a conspiracy theorist.

I didn’t join in the conversation because, in my view, the initial response to any question should be good and thoughtful, and my mood wasn’t anywhere near considerate.

In any case there might be some theorists reading this and I couldn’t give a toss for any negative exchanges at the moment. I just want to tell you how I felt.

Why these people support theories (feelings) before facts is a process that I find unfathomable and it is very difficult to contend with those of inflexible opinion.

As I said, my mind at the time of reading this question was nowhere near calm and docile. It was more annoyance and frustration.

It’s rather like the death of a family member who has been ill for some time.

Even when the announcement of their death is made the suddenness envelops you and it still comes as a shock. So it was when l found out that my son had tested positive to the COVID-19 virus.

He immediately self-isolated. Having no idea where he might have picked it up his first thoughts were for his partner daughter and son who had visited a few days earlier. He was working from home and had, as he says, practices impeccable habits of hygiene.

We now had a wait over the weekend to find out if his partner and their talented and beautiful 10-year-old daughter were also infected.

The waiting itself is like a custodial, totality, excruciating sentence. Hour after hour ticks by as your thoughts imagine the worst. The tyranny of distance and a parental need to action is unbearable, overwhelming in its desire to help.

I hold hands with my wife as she too thinks the worst and I worry with unrelenting nervousness.

“Fuck you,” I think to myself, “you idiots of conspiracy theory.”

My son, at the time, is in hospital on oxygen.

I ring my own doctor and he has volumes of information. I tell him I have had the sniffles for a couple of days and he tells me to get tested. I do, and I’m negative. Results are taking too long though.

Then they came in for my grandchild and her mother. They are both positive and as parents and grandparents, we are isolated both in mind and body.

My son has returned home having escaped the pneumonia that besets he and I from time to time. It could have been fatal. I feel guilty for my powerlessness and my numerous worst thoughts of; “What if?”

A few more days pass and my son sends me a note containing words that make me think. They are short but long in thought. We are hopeful in time for a full recovery.

My thoughts for the day

The knowledge that the one and only life we are living is but short should make it all the more precious.

Presenting facts to people who have reasoned by virtue of their feelings that they are right is totally fucked.

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So what is an economy now?

The economic news last week was enough to make the depressed reach for an extra anti-depressant tablet or two. Yes, it was bad economic news, folks; as bad as I have ever heard in my lifetime.

Given that the economic and fiscal update was based on so many assumptions such as Victoria bringing its mess under control within a 6-week lockdown period, it seems more like pure guesswork.

With Victoria’s COVID-19 numbers still in the high hundreds each day, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann are most certainly way off the mark.

The lockdown is now half way into its 6-week period and the amount of cases are showing no signs of abating; therefore is it time to say that the economic statement is just good intended bullshit at best, or incompetent guesswork at worst. In other words all a bit meaningless?

Before I move on allow me to quote the Finance Minister on debt and deficit. When at their joint press conference Senator Cormann was asked a question on the subject, he answered:

“What is the alternative? Are you suggesting that we should not have provided the support we did to boost our health system, to protect jobs, to protect livelihoods? I mean, in the circumstances what was the alternative.”

Greg Jericho, writing for The Guardian pointed out the hypocracy:

“It is an excellent point, and one dripping with as much hypocrisy as any statement that has ever been uttered by a finance minister in our history.

It is exactly the same reasoning that was behind the stimulus undertaken by the Labor government during the GFC.

What was Senator Cormann saying then?

In February 2009, he told the senate: “We have got this $42bn cash splash. What is this going to do? It is going to end up with us having $111bn worth of debt for starters, and even up to $200bn of debt, with a $9,500 debt for every Australian. This is absolute panic stuff.”

The problem with Cormann’s question of “what is the alternative” is not that is it wrong now, but that it was never wrong.

On Thursday, the Treasurer – with Cormann at his side – trumpeted that:

“Without the government’s economic support, unemployment would have been five percentage points higher.”

Back in 2009 Cormann told the Senate that:

“… governments cannot inject new money into the economy. All that governments can do is take money from taxpayers – either today’s taxpayers or, after borrowing money, tomorrow’s taxpayers.”

(I just needed to get that off my chest because just like that debt and deficit no longer really matter. Their hypocrisy is unforgivable.)

To get us out of this problem the government needs to adopt a Keynesian philosophy and borrow heaps of dollars, but in doing so have also to admit that their criticism of Labor for doing the same thing during the GFC (an approach that kept Australia out of recession) was all political bullshit and they were wrong.

This might be far too tempting for their collective egos but nonetheless it has to be admitted. We may even have to forgive them so that they may do the same.

So, how much wiser is the public with regards to the future?

Well they know that in Victoria COVID-19 continues on and 400 cases per day is much the new norm.

And come December there will be an unemployment figure of around 10 per cent or higher, youth unemployment will be around 14 per cent and women will also be worse off than a bad marriage.

Shane Wright’s article in The Age, ‘Long-term scarring’: Young people will suffer their entire working lives from COVID-19 offers a view of the current bleakness:

“Young people have suffered the largest increases in unemployment, and the biggest falls in jobs, since the advent of the pandemic”

In June, the jobless rate for those aged between 20 and 24 soared to 13.9 per cent, with almost 150,000 jobs disappearing since the start of the year. Among people aged 25 to 34, the unemployment rate has climbed by almost 3 percentage points to 7.5 per cent, with 164,000 jobs gone.”

Rather than being in the black – as the government said they would be before the last election – we will be in deficit by $86 billion for the 2019–20 financial years, and by $185 billion in 2020–21, and, writes Paddy Manning:

“Treasury predicts that Australia’s GDP will fall by 3.75 per cent in the 2020 calendar year, and then return to 2.5 per cent in 2021. So, amid the biggest shock since the Great Depression, the government expects the economy will grow at a faster rate next year than the two per cent it recorded before the pandemic in 2018–19.”

That is a brave assumption.

How convenient, neither Frydenberg nor Cormann would say how long it might take for us to have a budget surplus or to pay off the new debt.

It seems they didn’t know much about anything. They couldn’t say if the October budget, which usually includes four-year forward estimates, would include public service cuts.

When Shane Wright, Nine’s senior economics correspondent asked if the dreaded austerity principles of the Abbott years would be adopted, meaning that any new spending commitment in the budget would have to be offset by matching cuts elsewhere, Freydenberg answered “Clearly we’re in a very difficult and different time,” adding it called for a “different approach”.

The public know that there is no way of avoiding unemployment figures never before seen in this country.

The million or so unemployed at Christmas time will be suffering greatly. Some young will return to the family home, stripped of their independence and to yet again be supported by their parents.

In their misery others may choose suicide as a means of opting out.

Charitable organisations wont be able to cope with the masses on the dole.

Others will suffer because they are just too old to worry about.

The government could take from the $120 billion it provides to the rich and privileged in schemes that allow them to become richer but wont because their ideology prevents it.

The Prime Minister will continue to say that they will increase Newstart but not by as much as to discourage people from looking for a job even though there are 13 people looking for the same job.

If you thought that Snapback had disappeared … you would be wrong. It returned as a plan the government took to the last election.

Instead, writes Manning:

“Its JobMaker plan for the recovery included – IR reform, infrastructure investment, skills and training, and cutting red tape – and insisted the Coalition would remain the party of lower taxes.”

If that’s not a Snapback I don’t know what is. But it’s not really a plan. It sounds suspiciously like an economic philosophy.

By now after being inundated with bad news since before last Christmas the general public are well aware of the sadness that confronts them.

However, last week’s economic statement was missing the one vital ingredient necessary in the recipe for our recovery; assuming we overcome the pandemic that seems to have so far, to have confounded us.

Where is the plan, where is the blueprint that marries into the future our society with our economy?

Show me in this ‘plan’ the part that says:

  • In the future there will be less empathises on ideology and more on the common good, equality, and fairness.
  • A complete change in the purpose and application of money.
  • Where in this presentation by the LNP are the daring innovative ideas that might redirect our thoughts for the future.
  • A ministry for the future with greater recognition of science that accepts public submissions and more investment in education.

Could we get fair dinkum about renewable energy and create the many thousands of jobs we know are buried in its construction.

Show me the plans for an Australian electric motor vehicle. We have the expertise, the facilities, and the people. All we need is the will to give it a go.

The true test of a successful recovery will be in the jobs we create and the manner in which we create them.

Insist that private sector aged-care employ more people.

Free childcare for those women who have or are seeking work.

We badly need to hear what the government plans to do.

Those among us who remain vibrant and enthused about the future just need to see the big ideas even taking into account the Jurassic Park thinking of the Coalition.

My thought for the day

We live in a failed system. Capitalism doesn’t allow for an equitable flow of economic resources. With this system a small privileged few are rich beyond conscience and almost all others all the others are doomed to be poor at some level.

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Comparing one government to another. How do they measure up? Gillard versus the rest.

A comment on one of my recent posts; The Morrison government has no sense of urgency on our future … or perhaps the marketing plan isn’t finished suggested that I write a post on the effectiveness or otherwise of the Gillard Government.

There are many ways to measure a government. Polling at the moment has the Coalition 53/47 in front of Labor, but they don’t give us any idea of effectiveness.

You can take an interest in the economy, the ballot box or even the health of the nation but even then you don’t get a clear picture.

Most people use their gut feeling that is probably infected, to a degree, by media propaganda.

Fear and apprehension during a crisis usually sees voters sticking to whoever is in power. The Prime Minister’s popularity is sky high but as the recession hits where it hurts over a long period of time the polls will shift.

Back to the subject …

During my research I came across a novel way of measuring a government’s effectiveness that eliminates the emotion. It has an important flaw that I will address later.

This method, which incidentally doesn’t have a name, but measures a government’s ability to pass legislation. (The Guardian’s Nick Efershed devised it.) The article was written in 2013 and updated in 2018. Passing legislation is a government’s most important function and is a measure of its ability to get things done.

Evershed explains his methodology this way and also its pitfalls:

“One way might be to look at the ability of a government to pass legislation. Admittedly this is a quantity over quality approach, but it does offer us a quantitative measure of a government, political party or prime minister. Someone that gets a lot of legislation passed might be considered to be good at getting things done.”

The results based on a government’s ability to get things done are as follows:

“Julia Gillard had the highest rate of passing legislation with a rate of 0.495, followed by Bob Hawke at 0.491.

Click here for the interactive graph on mobile.

Malcolm Fraser was the highest-ranked liberal party prime minister on the list, at 0.481.

The parliament with the highest rate was the 36th parliament, with Bob Hawke as Prime Minister. You can see the rate of legislation has increased over time as well, with recent governments passing far more acts than in the early days of the commonwealth.

Click here for the interactive graph on mobile.

The Coalition came out on top as the overall party, with a rate of acts per day of 0.365 to the Labor’s 0.360.”

Here you will find an updated list of Prime Ministers with their legislation lists from Gillard to George Reid. A thought-provoking aside to the graph is just how much legislation gets past nowadays.

As interesting as all this is it doesn’t explain the full story. For the past decade Australian politics has been characterised by hung parliaments, revolving door leadership and the destruction of our democracy.

A government cannot be judged just on its ability to get things done. The quality of its legislation must be taken into account.

How does it improves the standard of living of the population? Is it fairly balanced? Does it contain equality of opportunity (particularly in education)? We must also take into account the ever-increasing complexity of society.

Within their ideology conservatives have a reluctance for change and when it is necessary it is in incremental doses.

Now before we move onto Prime Minister Gillard let’s take a look at each party’s achievements the Liberal Party’s has listed on their web site – and other than the GST – it is a rather bland list that has nothing that speaks of a daring progress for the collective but more for individual pursuit.

You will see how much better off the nation is when we work as a collective rather than individual units.

This is The LNP list and this is Whitlam’s list (at bottom of article).

Now back to the crux of the matter. Julia Gillard, given that those before and after her were handicapped with severe character defects, might it be considered premature to judge pass judgement on her prime ministership.

There are, however, some things we can say about her with a degree of confidence.

Ms Gillard in her post leadership period has been moderate, dignified and measured. She hasn’t been tempted, thus far, into voicing sarcasm towards others even though she might be justified in doling so.

She has buried herself in the things she is most passionate about; in education, women’s rights and mental health.

“She has,” wrote Nicholas Reece in The Sydney Moring Herald, “judiciously weighed in on select issues, but not become the story like other attention-seeking former PMs. Indeed, she has grown in stature and dignity.”

When she attended the national apology to victims of institutional child sex abuse the victims wanting to thank her mobbed her.

When she announced the Royal Commission in 2012, Paul Kelly, writing for The Australian described it as “the dismal, populist and doomed quality of Australian governance.”

Being the first female Prime Minister of Australia gave carte blanche to those, mainly men, in the media, lacking any form of social acumen, to attack her relentlessly using misogyny and malevolence.

However, If you were to strip away the character assassination by the Murdoch media, the potty mouth of Jones and the daily blatant lying of Tony Abbott then you find a government led by Rudd then Gillard (over 6 years) who successfully passed over 500 pieces of legislation.

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.

So despite the pubic perception being painted by these megalomaniacs the legislative and policy record of the Labor governments is in fact impressive.

They dismantled Work Choices and replaced it with Fair Work Australia. They instigated Paid Parental Leave, NDIS and reformed secondary education while expanding tertiary education, improved the pay of low paid workers and removed over 80 forms of discrimination against same-sex couples, the apology to the Stolen Generations, instituted a carbon price, establishing the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, reformed Murray River water management, transforming federal-state hospital funding arrangements and improved relations with China and India.

It must be said that both had difficulties (if only perceived) in managing a capitalist economy just as Ben Chifley did against the power of the banks and Gough Whitlam against the power of the multinationals. Rudd and Gillard came up against the power of big business in implementing a tax on carbon.

And then Gillard came up against the power of the Murdoch machine whose purpose – it seemed – was to destroy her. In some ways being the first female Prime Minister worked against her. The country wasn’t ready for her, especially as she was seen to have knifed her predecessor. Ladies don’t do those sorts of things. She was never able to balance her toughness with her compassion for people.

She made a mistake in appointing Peter Slipper as Speaker of the House of Representatives. And a mistake too in promising specific timelines for returning the budget to surplus and she should not have conceded that a period of fixed carbon price leading to an emissions trading scheme was effectively a tax after she said she wouldn’t introduce one.

So how does one judge the Gillard government? It has to be remembered that they were never beaten on the floor of the House.

In a time of enormous economic challenges they did attempt to address the problems of the 21st century by incorporating growth with fairness.

During her tenure as Prime Minister history will kindly record that her speech denouncing Tony Abbott’s misogyny did more to embolden women to speak up against those who would harm and belittle them than any speech before her, and probably after.

Here it is as a reminder. Enjoy!

My thought for the day

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

PS: Comparing one parliament to another is rather futile as circumstances differ with the times. However I have read that historians regard the first Hawke ministry as being the best ever.

As to the current tenure of the LNP, well, you be the judge.

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