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

Day to Day Politics: Politicians getting in the way of good policy.

Saturday 11 March 2017

1 There is no doubt in my mind that the greatest impediment to the future prosperity of Australia is our political system. In particular, conservative politicians. I say conservative because they are more attached to the system of capitalism than those of the left. And might I add, pre-disposed to the wacky idealism of the extreme right. Having said that, I include all political parties in my statement.

Nothing backs my argument more than the history of our political parties’ attempt to deal with the subject of Climate Change over the past ten years. I could have included other policies like the NBN but for the purposes of this piece I will stick with the environment.

Barry Jones, as Science Minister in the Hawke government, first alerted us to the danger of Climate Change and man-made emissions over twenty years ago. No one took much notice back then. It has only been over the last decade that the problem has been taken seriously. Well not so seriously if you look at the calamitous attempts Australia’s highly educated, highly paid but never the less incompetent politicians have made to put in place Climate Change and energy policy.

And you don’t need to digest my words, it’s easily evidenced and traceable.

Did it have to come to the point where rising prices, rising emissions and a national grid that falls over for any reason, but mostly from a decade of calamitous, unconscionable inaction from our politicians? We have witnessed a decade of public policy failure.

It’s not just the current politicians, although their incompetence is surely worthy of public contempt. It can be traced back to Rudd who in 2009 put Turnbull in a corner, got an agreement, but when the crunch came didn’t have the balls to act. Then the Greens voted down a Carbon Trading Scheme believing polluters were sympathetically treated.

But if anyone should take the prize for destroying, what has now proved to be a correct decision, it has to be the ultra-conservative face of Tony Abbott. For years in opposition he exposed the voter’s gullibility to propaganda.

His former Chief of Staff recently admitted on Sky News that his scare campaign was essentially a political rouse that had nothing to do with Climate Change.

“It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax.”

“We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and, when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

His alternative policy of direct action was just an attempt to show the public they were doing something when in fact it was doing nothing.

If it were possible he should be charged with crimes against the environment.

He had in fact used climate policy to steal the leadership from Turnbull. The devious cunning gutter politician then began his ”axe the tax” campaign with all the political brutality he could muster cumulating with the repeal of the tax and self-congratulations on the floor of the parliament.

A decision now proven wrong. The price of electricity has doubled since its repeal.

Now we are faced with fixing the problem but who do we turn to fix it. Well the same people who caused it of course. Our inept, bungling, ineffectual politicians who when seeking a solution will put aside the national interest in favour of self-survival or self-interest.

A cohort of interested parties are collectively pleading with the government that they want an emissions trading scheme. The whole of the Energy and big users are wanting to get into the headstrong government of climate deniers and make them understand just what is wrong and how to fix it.

This is where they run into a brick wall. The government, for purely political reasons, will rule out any form of carbon pricing. Turnbull would lose his job if he agreed.

The Chief Scientist Alan Finkel has been asked to come up with a solution without a price on carbon but it’s a bit like asking a captain to save a ship that’s already on its way to the bottom.

Turnbull is to have a meeting a meeting of east coast gas company chief executives and other stake holders and in the meantime is blaming them. I hope they bring some hand grenades to throw at him.

Their collective view would be that the fault is of the governments making. The lack of a cohesive bipartisan policy framework. The writing has been on the wall for a generation. Coal-fired power stations do have a lifespan after all. Investment went on strike and we have ended up in a mess of our politicians making.

On top of all this we have a gas market seemingly out of control. We have an abundance of the stuff but we export most of it for profit and have little left over for ourselves and what is left we have to buy at world parity.

With the government poring scorn over renewable energy and wanting to lower our RET, the whole thing has become a political dogs breakfast of political making. The can never act on the advice of experts because the advice is usually contrary to conservative ideology.

The world will not collapse if they show the grace of admitting they were wrong and take the advice of the industry who want certainty for investment and secure energy. Turnbull being captive to the moronic denialists of the far right doesn’t help either, nor does the avalanche of lies they continue to tell..

2 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

I have been writing daily about Malcolm Turnbull’s takeover of the Liberal Party leadership. Anyone who follows my writing will attest to me at first embracing him as a new light on the hill. I said that Australians would be eternally grateful to him for removing the greatest liar of a politician the country had endured. He would bring a new era of reasoned political discourse.

For the ensuring five months it became apparent that despite his eloquent, articulate and grandiose statements, he had no plan, no economic reform agenda and his only motive has been one of self-interest. There was nothing to reasonably debate.

Some said I was overreacting and he just needed more time. Well I’m pleased that yesterday one of their own in former Victorian Premier Jeff Kennett said it like it is.

Jeff, whether you liked him or not could never be accused of holding back. I got to ask him a question at a function many years ago. I asked him why he was going to an election when there was no reason to do so. His answer was a lie but forcefully put.

Anyhow this is what he had to say about Malcolm Turnbull during a 2UE radio interview on Wednesday.

”When they changed leaders, I thought we were in for a period of government, a period of stability, a period in which policy was going to be enunciated.”

”This talk about an early election is an indication, sadly, that the government does not have a plan for the future of the country and they are trying, I think, to use this talk of a double dissolution, an early election, simply to cover up their own failings.”

Mr Kennett said the Prime Minister ”did not have any plan at all’ when he took the leadership for his own self-interest”.

He added that Turnbull had received much public goodwill in taking over the leadership but had squandered it with his failure to create a narrative when the public was ‘craving good leadership’.

”What they can’t stand is vacillation where politicians don’t have the courage, in this case in my opinion, to put the interests of the country well before their own and their own party”.

He went on to say that he had failed to stand by his beliefs on negative gearing and same-sex marriage.

”We don’t need a plebiscite on this. We don’t need to waste another $139 million on a vote.” If Malcolm had any courage, he would have simply stood up and said ”I’m going to put this through the Parliament.” What he’s saying now. ”This decision, this policy position was decided by Tony Abbott and we’re going to stay with it,” he said.

There’s a good example of where Malcolm set himself apart from Tony Abbott and yet, when he took on the leadership, he hid behind Tony’s clothes and did not have the courage of his conviction and that applies right across the board.

Nothing different in all that than what I have been saying for some time. At the risk of repeating myself the fact is that he never had any policy to bring to the table, nor the conviction of his own beliefs. We have a yes man, a hypocrite doing what he is told to by the extremists in his party.

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: A Society for the Common Good. (Updated)

Friday 10 March 2017

Author’s note.

1 There are some things we write that at a later date when writing on the same subject the words we choose seem inferior to the original ones. It is with this in mind that I post.

A Society for the Common Good. That’s what I want.

I was walking my dog Zach (since departed)one autumn day in 2016 and thinking about the year in politics. Many things came to mind but the one thing that stood out was the sense of self entitlement that politicians have.

As if just being a politician necessitated some form of self-indulgence that set them apart from the society they are supposed to represent. My thoughts drifted to what I thought a society should be.

When, many years ago, the lady with the bad hair do uttered her famous and dispassionate condemnation of the human species:

”there’s no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look after themselves first”

I was horrified. It was a statement that could only be expressed by someone with a deep sense of isolation, selfish indifference, or indulgence. Was she saying that families only consisted of individuals making their way without any dependency on societal structure? The basic need to coexist and seek companionship.

We are by nature a herding animal. We form groups because no individual can survive without the assistance of others. ”No man is an island” as John Donne said. Margaret Thatcher’s statement condemns us to class self-centeredness and serfdom.

Successful societies should be built around a common good and we need to examine which political ideology is best placed to build such a society.

Firstly, let’s ask ourselves what is an ideal society based on the assumption that’s it’s an attainment we may never accomplish, but none the less is a worthwhile aspiration. Even call me idealistic if you want.

In the modern Western sense an enlightened society is a populace of men, women and children who as a collective desire to express their humanity, work, aspirations, spirituality, art, poetry and play with the richest possible diversity.

It cultivates a common good with equality of opportunity for all. A society where one’s sexual preference or gender is not a judgement upon your character and the color of your skin says nothing about you other than perhaps your geographical place of birth. A society that believes in individual pursuit, intellectual accomplishment and financial reward only regulated by what is beneficial for the common collective good. In other words everyone is entitled to an equitable share of society’s wealth.

A society where freedom of expression is guaranteed but limited only by the innate moral personal decency of the individual. Where free speech is fair speech. An enlightened society in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.

A society where the health and welfare of all is sacrosanct and access to treatment is assured. Where the principle that we should treat others in the same manner as we expect them to treat us is indelible in the mind of every citizen. A society that respects science before myth and mysticism, but at the same time recognises the individual’s right to the expression of their own form of spirituality so long as it doesn’t hinder the common good.

A society that should be judged by its welcoming, and how well it treats its most vulnerable citizens. By how well protected we are and how accessible the law is regardless of stature or wealth.

In Democratic Societies (the best – or least bad form of government) our herding instincts are realised by the election of leaders who form government. Even in the imperfection of democracy we realise that a group mentality advances society better than dictatorial individuality.

So we need government that is subservient to the will (the common good ethic) of the people and is responsive to public opinion.

It is government that decides and regulates the progress and ambitions of society. Or at least provides the environment in which to do so. There is very little that is done in the name of progress that cannot be attributed in some way to government. Individual or collective ambition can only be achieved within a social structure built and controlled by government.

Currently we are experiencing a shift in power from government to those who control the means of production, financial institutions, the media, and the rich and large corporations.

Government by the people for the common good needs to be taken back.

It is our entitlement, not theirs.

2 On this day in 2016 I wrote:

A Whilst I understand the ABCs desire to have a diversity of views on its panel for the life of me, given his past, I could not understand how having Alan Jones opining about the Catholic Church, boys and morality was appropriate.

B A Royal Commission into the banks and the Financial Advice Industry is long overdue. Conservative Governments are loath to investigate the big end of town for ideological reasons. Last night’s Four Corners program should ensure one is implemented. It also highlights the need for a national ICAC.

C I have read many political books in my lifetime both biographical and scholarly. My favourite in terms of insight into how government works has always been Don Watson’s masterly study of Paul Keating ‘Recollections of a Bleeding Heart.’ Yesterday I began reading the book of the moment. Nikki Savva’s ‘Road to Ruin’ It gives promise of an insight into all that is wrong with the way we are governed.

D The IPA gains a voice in the Senate with the selection of 28-year-old James Paterson to the top of the Liberal Victorian ticket. Paterson has strong libertarian views on issues like free speech. Together with the right the IPA have had a victory?

E In the words of former Opposition Leader Dr John Hewson. Speaking about Tony Abbott.

”I suffered from his disloyalty because he was a constant channel from my office to John Howard”

”He did go down in history as probably the most effective leader of the opposition in the sense that he made negativity an art form, but from the point of view of good government and reform processes and so on, it was a pretty disastrous period”

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: Frydenberg’s another Hunt.

Thursday 9 March 2017

Tony Abbott came to power on 18 September 2013 and served as PM until 15 September 2015. The two things that stood out to me were firstly,when he appointed Malcolm Turnbull as Communications Minister, he wanted him to destroy the internet and secondly that he would repeal Labor’s ‘Carbon Tax’. He thought the internet was to access pornography and that Climate Change was a socialist plot to replace communism. Despite his luddite mind the internet survived, albeit a second-rate version.

The Carbon Tax did go and three and a half years later the decision can best be summed up with this comment in “The state of the environment Report 2016” tabled in parliament on Tuesday:

The government has no national plan to protect the environment in the years to 2050.”

An observation.

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

What a bloody disgrace this government is. Josh Frydenberg, The Minister for the Department of  “I couldn’t care less’’ tried to jump the gun by writing a column for the Guardian. In it he said the Coalition will “use this report to continue the good work” the government is doing in environmental policy. Frankly the man needs a manager. He’s been handling himself too long.

The report is commissioned by the government every 5 years and is written by independent experts. They say that Climate Change is beyond debate and that it will cause enormous damage in the future. Climate change is now irreversible.

Freydenberg was out and about doing what his predecessor Greg Hunt did for year after year, creating the illusion they were doing something whilst doing nothing. Telling lies, in other words. The tide has turned and people are now taking in the catastrophic damage that climate change will do to future generations. That a government can just continue to pay lip service to the science is beyond belief.

I suppose I have never come to grips with the fact that supposedly intelligent men can be so dismissive of the science.

An observation.

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

In the same year that Abbott came to power I wrote an essay titled “Climate Change. A Lay person’s dilemma”. Here are a few paragraphs:

For the life of me, I cannot understand people who accept science in fact and use it every day somehow become brain-dead when it comes to climate science.  However, lay people like me who believe in the existence of climate change cannot honestly claim to know the veracity of the science for ourselves but are happy to delegate this task to climate scientists. Laypeople simply do not have the knowledge to adjudicate on the issue.

On the other hand the, those who deny the overwhelming scientific consensus seek to justify their belief by attaching themselves to a minority of  science sceptics with obscure qualifications or worse to right-wing shock jocks and journalists with no scientific training what so ever. These people (like you and me) have no way of evaluating the volume of data produced by the various scientific institutions. One of the most outspoken sceptics (Andrew Bolt) has recently been found guilty of deceptive lying in that he defamed some white skinned aboriginals. One has to wonder how many he has told when writing about his favourite topic climate change.

If I do not support the 95% of scientists, every major scientific institution and the research that is constantly peer evaluated I am obliged to accept the alternative. That is that I should take seriously the likes of Andrew Bolt, (A journalist) Alan Jones, (I’m not sure how you would describe his contribution to society) Lord Monckton (A discredited something who was once a lobbyist for the tobacco companies) Nick Minchin and Tony Abbott. (Both politicians). In fact, Minchin is on the record as saying that climate change is a left-wing conspiracy to replace communism. None of the aforementioned people has a background or expertise in climate science.

Now that’s not to say that they should not have a view and that view should not be considered as should any laypersons if they are of that ilk. But surely, we must respect the science otherwise; you put into question all science.”

When a government is so out of step with science, public expectations and what we call common sense, we need in our democracy some sort of trigger that overrides the normal decision-making process and gives the public a greater say. Some sort of people’s referendum after a suitable petition.

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following:

4 Meanwhile in the US. ‘Only in the US,’ Donald Trump, in scenes reminiscent of a Hitler rally, asked, no demanded, that thousands of people at a rally swear an oath of allegiance. And they did. It was a scene that people of my vintage thought we might never experience again.

‘I do solemnly swear that I, no matter how I feel, no matter what the conditions, if there are hurricanes or whatever, will vote on or before the 12th for Donald J Trump for president.’

5 After last week’s embarrassing debacle over Negative Gearing you might have thought that The Australian might leave the chill of those waters behind for a while. But no, yesterday’s headline read.

‘Labor’s crackdown on negative gearing ‘a threat to small business’

6 Peter Costello has warned against changes to Negative Gearing, Superannuation, and Capital Gains Tax. In fact he has urged Scott Morrison to maintain the generously immoral superannuation and tax arrangements of his tenure for the rich and privileged.

On the evidence thus far the Government never had a reform policy in the first place. They just needed something to talk about. Something they are good at.

7 I think I will stop here. I’m becoming very depressed of late about the way in which we are governed. The disrespect that we are treated with. The incompetence. Government for self-abounds. There is a stench about it that is contributing to the way I feel. I wrote last week that this mob has degrees from the world’s finest learning institutions dripping from the walls of their parliamentary offices but all the learning seems unsuitable for good governance. The problem is that conservative ideology and practicable common sense just don’t mix.

I’m not sure that I want to read ‘Road to Ruin’ but I probably will. What seems to give the book integrity and is compelling about Niki Savva’s writing is the number of sources who have gone on the record.

My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: John Howard’s a bloody old Luddite.

Wednesday 8 March 2017

1 I think John Howard and I are almost the same age. We are both residents of the same country. It’s there that the similarities end. He is a Nationalist, I am an Internationalist.

“I was delighted with the result of the Brexit referendum,” he told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia forum in Sydney on Friday last. “The British people made the right decision. I saw that decision as being very much a cry for national sovereignty and control of their own affairs.”

He tried to deny that immigration was at the voter’s centre of attention.

“That wasn’t in my view a fundamental reason.”

He was no stranger to stoking the fires of nationalist hatred. His speech told us that he still has interest in the cultural wars being waged by his remaining acolytes.

“I think political correctness has become a problem in Western societies, we’ve become far too apologetic about our Western identity and anything that’s a sense of some kind of defence of cultural traditionalism or national identity is in many ways frowned upon.”

Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war. Taking the fight up to the social progressives. Rallying the troops for another assault on marriage equality, climate change and a host of other things.

At a time when the world is screaming out for leaders like Angela Merkel or the suave modernity of Canada’s Justin Trudeau, we are instead having nationalists like Trump thrust upon us. In Australia it’s the likes of Pauline Hansen who trumpet the simplistic but popular nationalist theme, or the unadulterated hypocrisy of Malcolm Turnbull.

If John Howard had taken an in-depth look at the Brexit polling results he would have found that overwhelmingly the young voted to stay. The young look forward into a time that the leaders of today will never occupy and see things that our ageing leaders don’t.

They see a time when Climate Change will change the way society functions. They concern themselves with how jobs will be found for everyone. How water will be distributed and who will grow the food for an ever-increasing world population. They are more empathetic toward others and see a global world.  They don’t see the answers in a closed shop mentality of Trumpish nationalism. They see solutions to complex problems coming from cooperative internationalism.

The profile of Pauline Hansen supporters in Australia isn’t in the under 40s. It’s the elderly longing for an Australia that has passed them by. Protesting the changes that oddly have made our nation the success it is.

Allow me to digress. Last year I visited Melbourne to have lunch with a friend. When it became time to depart I had some time to spare so I purchased a bag of chips and a cup of coffee from a fast food outlet on Flinders Street station.

”Do you mind if I sit here I said to a young man with deep black purplish skin.”

I initiated conversation. He was a little reluctant at first but conversation soon flowed. He was from Somalia, learnt English here and had a familiar Aussie Accent. He was doing an Arts degree at Melbourne University. When he left to catch his train I sat and pondered the flowing mass of humanity that occupied the collective stations of Flinders street. Observation tells us much.

Sitting in my seat on the train the  station gradually disappeared and I contemplated the Flinders Street Station I remembered as a young boy working in Central Melbourne. You never saw a black face then. In fact it was a bland community compared to today’s diversity. My country has changed in many ways and I have been a recipient of all that so my cultures have deposited in our country.

When I think about Australian culture or values I am at a loss to explain. In what decade I think to myself. I would say that Australian culture cannot be described without using the word diversity. As to our values, well I guess they are the same as many other countries, freedom security and peace are universal. I am yet to hear the likes of Hansen adequately explain just what Australian culture is.

Our Culture has changed progressively since I was a lad. Some of my vintage have adapted and appreciated why change is necessary and we  are still true blue Aussies in every sense of the word.

With so many cultures we will increasingly become a melting pot of vast ethnic diversity. It will and is constantly changing. My belief is that new migrants can only be expected to meet the same standards that apply to the rest of us, obey the laws of the land and try to be good citizens. To be expected to replace one’s ethnicity with another overnight is simply unreasonable.

Young people know the issues, if not the politics, and the way forward is not by closing our doors with Nationalistic fever, but by being more open to the problems of the future, by being an open society.

Unlike me John Howard never learnt how to use a computer or the value of the internet. Still a Luddite.

”John Howard said Donald Trump’s election and Britain’s decision to quit the European Union demonstrated a global push for greater ”national sovereignty” that’s also affecting Australian politics.”

Two observations.

In terms of social activism. The word wait should never mean never.”

“A commitment to love and social justice demands the transformation of social structures as well as our hearts and minds'”

The push for “National Sovereignty” as Howard puts it, in large part, can be put down to the inequality he and other conservatives saw fit to impose on us.

2 Essential Media this week still has Labor 6 Points clear of the Coalition.

They have some interesting observations in the weekly surveys.

A Q. Do you approve or disapprove of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to reduce current Sunday penalty rates paid in retail, fast food, hospitality and pharmacy industries?

32% approve of the Fair Work Commission’s recent decision to reduce current Sunday penalty rates and 56% disapprove.

Those most likely to approve were Liberal National voters (55%), men (40%) and aged 65+ (49%).

Those most likely to disapprove were Labor voters (74%), Greens voters (73%), women (63%) and aged 18-24 (64%).

B Q. What do you think will be the more likely result of cutting penalty rates for hospitality and retail workers?

57% think that the most likely result of cutting penalty rates will be that businesses will make bigger profits. 24% think businesses will employ more workers.

Those most likely to think businesses will make more profits were Labor voters (73%) and Greens voters (66%).

Those most likely to think businesses will employ more workers were Liberal National voters (42%) and aged 65+ (41%).

More interesting questions here.

3 I had an email from a friend

”I’ve a neighbour who supports Hansen.  He’s not a fool.  He knows he’s being fu%ked by the system and he’s angry.  His anger distorts his common sense.’’

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following (I was tempted to post the whole article):

Traditionally two-thirds of the American economy has relied on consumerism. Wages are still at levels they were 30 years ago. Even people on average wages require food stamps to survive. People no longer have disposable income to feed the hungry giant of consumerism.

In Australia a similar situation is developing. Wages growth is at an all-time low and the government seems intent on keeping them so. The problem though is that without wages growth consumers don’t have expendable income sufficient to meet consumer demand for goods and services. America has found that out. Conservatives don’t seem to comprehend that you may be able to obtain growth on the back of low wages but if the low wages prevent people from buying what you produce. You have defeated your purpose.

Revolutionised morally regulated capitalism could, if legislated and controlled enable everyone an equitable opportunity for economic success. With equality of opportunity being the benchmark of all economic aspiration and legislation. In America 400 Americans have more wealth than half of all Americans combined?

None Union wages are also affected by the decline of unions. Tax cuts to the wealthiest have not improved the economy or created more jobs.

The incomes of the top 1% have increased exponentially since the GFC.

Conservative Republicans couldn’t care less.

The problem is the politics.

In Australia, although not yet at the same level as the US, inequality is manifesting itself in a similar fashion. At the end of Peter Costello’s tenure as treasurer he was asked why the rich had become 7% richer. His answer was to say that at least the poor had not become poorer. Joe Hockey said that:

“The bottom line is we have to lift the tide so that all boats rise.”

This is akin to Thatcher’s:

“The poor will be looked after by the drip down effect from the rich’.”Time has proven this a nonsense. So will Hockey’s.

The government’s actions since the 2013 election have been anything but an attempt to bridge the gap. To the contrary there has been an unashamedly concerted effort to take from those less well of (there is no need for me to list them) and give to the rich. And all indications suggest that this will continue with unabated irrationally.

 My thought for the day.

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

 

Day to Day Politics: Hanson Vs Cassidy. Round 1.

Tuesday 7 March 2017

1 I knew prior to the interview that Barry Cassidy (ABC Insiders) had never interviewed Pauline Hanson so I had sort of formed a view as to his approach. It was as I thought. He allowed her to relax by giving her time to reflect on her 20 or so years in politics, although the reality is that she has been around politics that long but not in politics.

As I anticipated he wanted to cover a broad range of topics. I have read criticisms of Cassidy’s interview saying that he didn’t drill in hard enough but I tend to discount them because Cassidy is in my view always fair. This might upset those who like a bit of blood on the dance floor, but subtlety is more his style.

And of course Cassidy had to feel his way. Interviewing people of intellect can be hazardous but interviewing someone with of little of it can be equality so. Particularly one who expresses with quivering speech and limited vocabulary.

She ummed and ummed her way through various topics without putting her foot in it until Barry hit a higher octave. When she started to wax lyrically about the virtues of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Cassidy had had enough and questioned her praise for one who was responsible for the deaths of 38 Australians. She was also enthusiastic with her praise for one Donald Trump who wants to make America great again at the expense of everyone else. He is very popular with the American people, she said.

She had dipped her toe into the waters of nonsensical response and didn’t handle it well.

Even the Prime Minister, normally loath to criticise her was forced to rebuke her asinine liking of the Russian dictator hiding behind the red guise of a Clayton’s democracy.

“I respect the man. He is very patriotic towards his country, the people love him, he is doing so well for the country. So many Australians here want that leadership here in Australia.”

Cassidy hit back:

“Vladimir Putin’s Russia is subject to international sanctions, to which Australia is a part, because of his conduct in shooting down the MH17 airliner in which 38 Australians were killed. Let’s not forget that,”

Mr Turnbull said Mr Putin’s Russia was responsible for the “shocking international crime” of shooting down the MH17 airliner – killing 298 people, including 38 Australian citizens – and was not worthy of the Queensland senator’s admiration.”

Cassidy now had his back up and was no longer spoon-feeding her. When he asked her about her statement some years back about being swamped by Asians she became befuddled and her answer confusing. Cassidy reminded, or rather divulged to her that half of all Australians were born overseas or had a parent who had, she seemed stunned.

It got worse. Then came the revelation that she is also a vaccination denier. She questioned the safety of child vaccinations, refusing to retreat from comments in which she linked vaccines to autism despite no credible scientific evidence of a connection. She said that parents should “do their own research” and “make an informed decision”.

Seemingly she thinks a parent’s research is better than a scientists.

“What I don’t like about it is the blackmailing that’s happening with the government. Don’t do that to people. That’s a dictatorship,” she said.

The Prime Minister was forced to comment. He had said she would not be a welcome presence in the Parliament during the 2016 campaign but had been loath to censure her since.

“The health of our children, the health of the nation, depends on vaccination and that has to be as close to 100 per cent as possible,” he said. “It is a vital health objective to ensure that everybody is vaccinated.”

Now that Cassidy has his first interview with Hansen out-of-the-way, might I suggest round 2 will be some way off.

2 When Bill Clinton lied about Monica Lewinski, Jeff Sessions said lying under oath was a “high crime”, worthy of immediate removal from office.  Now that Sessions has been caught lying under oath, he says he simply wasn’t clear in his answers to Congress.  That’s like if Bill Clinton said, “I didn’t lie!  When you asked if I had sexual relations with her, I thought you meant that day!”

3 The National Accounts were summarised by this question from Bill Shorten in question time last week.”Yesterday in Question Time, the Prime Minister said that he supports the decision to cut penalty rates. Today’s National Accounts confirm that corporate profits had their biggest increase in 40 years and that wages and salaries had their largest fall in over 20 years. Why is it that, under the Turnbull government, when companies receive record profits, they get tax cuts and, when wages flat line, workers get pay cuts?”

From my American friend Ben Williamson:

”One thing idiots like Trump and those who follow him don’t realize when they bash major Pulitzer Prize winning publications as “fake news” is that unlike conservative media, real news journalists have a LOT to lose by getting caught lying.  As we’ve seen often, if you tell a whopper or completely fabricate a story on Fox News, it’s no big deal, and you’re often even praised for it.  If a journalist from CNN, NBC, ABC, CSPAN, or even MSNBC gets caught making up “fake news”, they are immediately forced to apologize, and are then fired or forced to resign. Real journalists from real news outlets would be putting their careers completely on the line for a fabricated story, and while it has happened (rarely) over the years, they are always caught and branded for it. If you want to really be able to tell the difference in a real news outlet and a fake one like Fox News or Brietbart, see how they punish those who get caught lying, if they do at all.”

4 The Ombudsman reports that the largest amount of complaints comes from internet NBN subscribers not getting the speeds they pay for.

On this day in 2016 I wrote:

1 What a shocker of a week it was for the Coalition. The Treasure and the Prime Minister made fools of themselves by trying to link the BIS Report with Labor’s Negative Gearing policy.

2 As dramatic as that was I think Tony Abbott’s declaration of war with Malcolm Turnbull will have enormous repercussions down the track. Abbott has done himself no favours with colleagues with his National Security leak to Greg Sheridan and The Australian. You might even say that Turnbull may never, while he is surrounded by the methodology of Abbott governance, the negativity of it, be able to introduce the positive innovative style he talks about.

And we had this nauseating spectacle of Turnbull praising Abbott’s leadership at Howard’s 20th Anniversary while Abbott is shirt fronting him. Shades of Rudd you say. Well yes except Rudd had some public support whilst Abbott doesn’t. There can only be one inevitable conclusion if he continues. History shows that he will destroy Turnbull, himself and the party’s chances of winning the election.

That won’t worry him of course because wrecking is in his DNA.

3 Friday I watched the PM at a press conference waxing lyrically about the roll out of the NBN. On Monday, another Government leak highlighted massive delays in Malcolm Turnbull’s NBN.

4 Has there ever been a more crass candidate for the Presidency of the United States? Donald Trump as if to say that size is important in potential Presidential aspirants assures a debate audience that he is well endowed. Really, what a prick.

My thought for the day.

“Have you ever had a coffee with someone and you have had little to say but later on reflection felt like it was just the best conversation ever.”

 

Day to Day Politics: The Trump Report No 10. Creating his own case for impeachment.

Monday 6 March 2017

There can be no doubt that the President of the United States of America is mentally deficient. Alarmingly so. “You’re fake news” he yells at a journalist. Then he proceeds to ban any media outlet from White House press conferences that doesn’t support his presidency.

It was a press conference Quartz Media described as the most unhinged public appearance ever by an American president.

Speaking about the stream of leaks exiting the White House he said:

”The leaks are absolutely real but the news is fake because so much of the news is fake”.

He claimed his administration is running like ”a fine-tuned machine”

Now I’m no fan of the MSM but where is the evidence?

A Russian ship has lurked off the eastern coast of the US in recent days. Trump suggested blowing it up would be good for his ratings, saying “The greatest thing I could do is shoot that ship that’s 30 miles off shore right out of the water.”

It gets more bizarre. You can read it here.

He hinted at nuclear war:

”We’re very powerful nuclear country and so are they [Russia],” Trump said. “I’ve been briefed and I can tell you one thing about a briefing that we’re allowed to say because anybody that ever read the most basic book can say it—nuclear holocaust would be like no other.”

When asked about his claim that that his Electoral College victory was the biggest since Ronald Reagan’s, the president said:”Tomorrow they will say ‘Rants and raves at the press.  ”I’m not ranting and raving” he said, “I’m just telling you you’re dishonest people.”

Now that’s not bad coming from a perverted proven liar.

”The public doesn’t believe you people anymore. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know.”

Can there be any doubt that the President is out to destroy the reputations of any media that is not on his side? To ban organisations like BBC, L A Times, CNN and The New York Times, among others, from his press conferences is insulting the American constitution, particularly after saying just weeks before that a free press is.

”What makes a democracy a democracy versus a dictatorship”.

Those on the welcome list included conservative outlets Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, along with journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News.

Joel Simon, executive director of the Committee to Protect Journalists, also called the decision alarming.

“President Trump’s calls for an end to anonymous sources was alarming. It is not the job of political leaders to determine how journalists should conduct their work, and sets a terrible example for the rest of the world, where sources often must remain anonymous to preserve their own lives.”

David Smith writing for the Guardian reported.

”Trump also railed against embarrassing leaks of his phone calls with world leaders including Australia and Mexico, suggesting that people within the White House could potentially put the US at risk by leaking confidential future conversations about how to handle North Korea.”

A fine-tuned machine indeed.

Now let me make it absolutely clear. Donald Trump, president of the USA is and always has been a liar. One who does it with minimum effort for maximum gain. Be they lies of omission, the trivial, or the profound. He lies to avoid guilt or for the acceptance of praise. He does so when his pride is challenged or his pretentiousness is laughed at.

He is trying to tame the media, not because they publish the news as they see it, but because they dare publish a version that offends his  version of righteousness. No one would dare question him in business. Why would they now that he is president. He owns the truth.

An observation.

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

He and his acolytes tell us that the media should focus less on the lies he tweets and tells in interviews and instead focus on what he does. They do so to hide the fact that he more often than not tells lies to explain a lie or to tell greater ones to divert us from existing scandals by creating another one by telling a greater lie.

It has to be said that the main stream media do not always write virtuous words of truth, but to overlook what he says as if it doesn’t matter and not report it would be a dereliction of duty.

Trump is a person of such unseemly character that every time he opens his mouth he decays the faultlessness of truth, science and factual evidence.

As Charles M. Blow put it in The New York Times:

To take it even further, it may be these seemingly smaller infractions that produce the greater injury because the implications are more profound. Trump does not simply have ”a running war with the media” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.”

When doing its job as it should, the fourth estate are the seekers of truth providing the public with reasoned reporting? It is not perfect and does far too much opining. Trump’s rise to power has come at a time when the media has come under pressure to tidy up its act.

He has taken advantage of it by renouncing every criticism of him as  ”’Fake News” He wants to have power over free speech, absolute control of it with the ability to control the flow of information so that his own version of truth would hold sway over the public.

Life is about perception. Not what is but what we perceive it to be. Trump and his team are using every trick in the book to control the narrative. Quelling anything that is negative, even if true, with dishonesty while patting Trump on the back with mendaciousness and hypocrisy

At the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington DC he declared the media  “the enemy of the people“.

 And with self-righteous dismissiveness he excused his own perverted lying.

“I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources.”

And all this is happening against a backdrop of accusations of overt interest in all things Russian. Media reports suggest that President Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Priebus privately asked the FBI to prevent news stories of the Trump campaign’s communication with Russian intelligence.

The Trump Russian connection is something he can’t seem to lie his way out of and as the plot thickens so does the frequency of his tweets.

As the media and the American embroil themselves in the reds under the beds scandal, Trump on queue Tweets that Obama has bugged Trump Tower. He has no evidence, it’s just a hunch.

In repsonse, Obama Policy advisor Ben Rhodes tweets:

”No President can order a wiretap. Those restrictions were put in place to protect citizens from people like you.”

The story originated from Breitbart News, an extreme right wing conservative news outlet. White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon was the executive chair of Breitbart before joining Trump’s team.

In the meantime the people are being diverted from ”Russiagate” and the following legislation. Its classic Trump, or a conservative tactic. ”Create another scandal”

In case anyone got overly side-tracked by the Russian drama and the installation of listening devices, the following bills have been introduced.

  1. HR 861 Terminate the Environmental Protection Agency
  2. HR 610 Vouchers for Public Education
  3. HR 899 Terminate the Department of Education
  4. HJR 69 Repeal Rule Protecting Wildlife
  5. HR 370 Repeal Affordable Care Act
  6. HR 354 Defund Planned Parenthood
  7. HR 785 National Right to Work (this one ends unions)
  8. HR 83 Mobilizing Against Sanctuary Cities Bill
  9. HR 147 Criminalizing Abortion (“Prenatal Non-discrimination Act”)
  10. HR 808 Sanctions against Iran.

The New Millennial voters may have hated Clinton and certainly didn’t love Trump but is this what they really wanted.

Slowly but surely the President is building a case for his own impeachment.

My thought for the day.

“Instead of searching within when we are at fault the first human reaction is to apportion blame elsewhere. Why is that so?”

 

Day to Day Politics: The crisis that is Chrissy Pyne.

Saturday 4 March 2017

Before moving onto the indignant Christopher Pyne I must first make some comments on what has been a totally calamitous week for the Coalition.

The conservatives got what they have been advocating for, for decades when Fairwork handed down its decision on penalty rates and then acted like it was anathema to them. Strange that. Then Tony Abbott, still full of his own self-importance, found it necessary to dump on the PM whilst giving an out of tune rendition of ‘’My Way.’’

Then came that catastrophic Newspoll that told us what we all know. The Government is on the nose, out of control, in a spin or whatever else comes to mind. They still have two more years to inflict  whatever pain they can on us. One Nation is now level with the Greens. Wow.

Then they leaked to Fairfax the private details of an Australian citizen and Centerlink client contrary to the law.

George Christensen, another conservative politician full of his own self-importance decided to resign as chief whip for the Nationals. In doing so he gave his leader and Deputy PM a decent serve.  In this case size means nothing. What a prick you might say.

And then the Parliamentary Committee looking into free speech left the PM holding the baby in so much as it made no recommendations on changes to 18c. Instead it made a number of suggestions. Take your pick Malcolm but they are all politically loaded.

And that was the week that was. Now.

An observation.

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

The crisis that is Christopher.

1 Christopher Pyne is the second youngest MP ever elected to the House of Representatives. He is also arguably the most disliked. No one has been expelled from the Chamber for unruly behaviour more times than Pyne. Offence comes as naturally to him as does sleeping and wakening. His demeanour is crass and unpleasant.

His self-righteous indignation is prissy, shallow, superficial, and school boyish. Some time ago the Coalition said that “the adults were back in charge”: then it’s difficult to imagine how this adolescent loutish, imbecile with an uncouth acerbic tongue got a jersey.

And so it was that the Speaker this week had to reprimand him every day. Pyne got so frustrated that he wast not having his own way all the time that the Speaker almost lost his temper. If looks could kill.

In fact the whole of the Coalition on Thursday looked like they had been to an all-night meeting to discuss why it was that if they were born to rule, they couldn’t. No answers were forthcoming so I’m anticipating some further growth is required.

An observation.

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

2 We did get some advice from a couple of Liberal members. Yes, Alistair Gillette and Ann Sudmalis had some advice for new home buyers.

If you want to own a home, just earn more money, if you want more money, get a higher paid job.

Thanks for nothing.

3 On Wednesday the Australian Labor Academy was launched by Bill Shorten.

This is a vision arising from the 2010 ALP National Review (Faulkner/Bracks/Carr) Report that Stuart Whitman has been working to make happen for nearly 2 years.

Stuart Whitman has written for this blog a couple of times and I have had the pleasure of taking coffee with him. He has told me he will keep me informed on its progress and may even write a piece on it.

Stuart tells me that in his speech Bill Shorten said that for every good idea for progress or reform in politics, there’s at least 20 people telling you why it can’t happen.

Stuart added:

”My own experience has taught me that even with the best of intentions of being inclusive and seeking the common good, moving the ball only a few steps forward in politics takes tremendous patience, perseverance and strength of character and a hide as thick as a rhinoceros.”

4 On the subject of penalty rates Malcolm Turnbull was always on a hiding to nothing and It’s a wonder he didn’t act immediately to dodge the bullets. Progressively reducing the Sunday rates will not alter the fact that it’s a Coalition government that is reducing the pay of Australia’s poorest paid.

Sure Shorten is guilty of some hypocrisy but this is something the conservatives have been championing for two decades. I also note that Abbott is telling Turnbull how to do his job again.

Shorten is arguing his case better than Turnbull is. He maybe a “flip flopping hypocritical opportunist” but in the purest political sense he is the better politician.

And let’s not forget that the Government is politically vulnerable because it made no submission to the review. Labor and the Unions can play the ”who’s next” card right up to the next election.

I wonder if anybody had taken into consideration that because they are the lowest paid workers it might have been more appropriate to do nothing.

5 I heard Barrie Cassidy on News 24 on Friday say that Centerlink had received 24million calls and 4million just hung up. And they reckon it’s going well.

On this day in 2016 I wrote (yes, a year ago):

A So much happens on a day-to-day basis that it’s difficult at times to keep abreast of it all. For example. You will recall that Tony Abbott wanted to be rid of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation. The good news is that it is now not the Government’s agenda even though the Government could still call a double-dissolution election on the matter.

B Speaking of Double Dissolutions the Senate Reform Bill now looks like being passed. Yes a Bill that three days ago couldn’t possibly be changed, now with the support of the Greens has been amended in two significant ways. Yep we can move fast when it suits us. A 4 hour inquiry and a report 12 hours later did the trick.

Nothing like a quickie when you’re frustrated.

C Now, more about that 50/50 Essential Poll. This Poll is important. A Facebook friend explains.

The thing about the Essential Poll is that it is a rolling poll it averages out over several polls. So the 50 – 50 result in this survey compares to the 52 – 48 to the LNP in the last one. Then that necessitates that the raw figures are a whole lot worse for the LNP than even these numbers suggest. I would love to see what those number are!!!!

So the Essential Research rolling aggregate records an unusually sharp move away from the Coalition, and finds strong support for Senate reform legislation.

The normally placid Essential Research fortnightly rolling average records a rare two-point shift on two-party preferred this week, which eliminates a settled 52-48 lead for the Coalition over previous weeks. Particularly remarkable is a three-point increase in the Labor primary vote, from 35% to 38%, although the Coalition is down only one to 43%, and the Greens are steady on 10%.

D Essential also features is a very detailed question on Senate reform, in which the legislation was explained to respondents in meticulous detail, producing a result of 53% approval and 16% disapproval.

E This month in 2013 the then Prime Minister said. ”There is a budget emergency”

Since then. The deficit has doubled. Net debt is up 59.8 billion. Spending is at GFC levels. Unemployment is up 74,500 Wages growth is at an all-time level.

My thought for the day.

”We live in a time where horrible things are being perpetrated on us. The shame is that we have normalised them and adjusted accordingly”.

Day to Day Politics: What would you do then?

Friday 3 March 2016.

I found this list by Michael John Deller on Facebook. It’s serious but in a quirky sort of way he is suggesting what he would do if he were leading the nation.

At first I thought it was a bit over the top but then I thought there are probably what I shall call “leader’s lists” inside everyone’s head. I would, for the sake of discussion, ask that you might add some of your own priorities to Michael’s list or comment on his. It’s all open for discussion.

You might say no 16 is a stupid idea or I agree with No7. Anyway, as I said, it’s all open for discussion. I don’t agree with everything but it’s a better list than the IPA’s.

1 Triple bottom line accounting mandatory.

2 Full freedom of information, NO exception.

3 Full referendum before deployment of any forces, advisors included.

4 Secret ballot in all chambers of governance.

5 Truth in All media, Punitive fines applicable.

6 A Constitution setting out Rights and Duties.

7 Taxation based on every entity, religious included,

as per the individual.

8 Any public servant found to be engaged in malfeasance to suffer the full force of the law.

9 All senior public servants to be fully audited.

10 Removal of politician’s pensions. Period.

11 A super profits tax.

12 Punitive taxation to scale up over 10 times the basic wage.

12 Judges to be retired after 65.

13 Removal of all subsidies from government to private sector.

14 Removal of subsidies to private schools.

15 Removal of subsidies to private health insurance.

16 Decriminalisation of all drugs.

17 All enforcement officers to be body crammed at start of work and all enforcement places of work to be crammed and streamed.

18 CSIRO to be charged with making the Nation ready for the coming environmental collapse.

19 The removal of pesticides and agricultural chemicals from the food chain.

20 Full indexation of welfare payments.

21 Implementation of Public housing with the goal of shelter for all.

22 The removal of cost shifting and tax shifting.

23 Every shred of DNA upon this continent and its shelves to be protected, NO exception.

24 Full audit of biodiversity and directed force to ensue failing populations of any groups to be reinvigorated.

25 All food imports whether finished or as ingredient to be batch tested as per safety and the definition of purity to be vigorously enforced.

26 Nationalisation of all gas fields and ban the export of all energy sources, coal, gas, uranium.

27 Mandated National goal to be zero carbon footprint, certainly by 2050.

28 Mandated renewable power grid by 2040.

29 Full rights and protections for ALL animals.

Nobody has an ownership of ideas. Feel free to add your own or discuss others.

My thought for the day

“The exchange and intellectual debate of ideas needs to be re energised and it is incumbent on everyone to become involved”

Day to Day Politics: 18c Free speech Vs hate speech. Why the need to change.

I have written about free speech, hate, racial discrimination and the state of our democracy on many occasions and these questions will not leave me.

Why is it, in ‘the name of free speech’ that we need to enshrine, the right to abuse each other, in law?

Or conversely “what is it they want to say that they can’t say now?”

The joint committee on human rights has finished its deliberations and made 22 recommendations on how to proceed. The Prime Minister is now caught between a rock and a hard place. Will he yet again cave into the hard right of his party or will he take a more sensible, moderate course.

Free Speech and an Enlightened Society.

“European politics, philosophy, science and communications were radically reoriented during the course of the “long 18th century” (1685-1815) as part of a movement referred to by its participants as the Age of Reason, or simply the Enlightenment’“.

The Enlightenment advocated reason as a means to establishing an authoritative system of aesthetics, ethics, government, and even religion, which would allow human beings to attain objective truth about the whole of reality.

If you were to ask the likes of Bernardi if we live in an enlightened society he would probably answer “yes”.

I’m not sure how he would answer if you asked.

If we are an enlightened society why then do you think we need to enshrine in law the right to hate each other?

Surely you would think that an enlightened progressive free thinking society would want to eliminate it not legislate it.

It is not a question that requires great philosophical, ideological or even theological debate. It is a black and white question. After all, is not by definition a prerequisite of the human condition.

We do live in an age of enlightenment, a period where the world has made enormous technological advances, but at the same time our intellects have not advanced the capacity to understand simple tolerance.

Indeed, if we were truly enlightened we would treat our fellow human beings, with respect love and faithfulness. We would do unto them as we would expect them to do unto us and we would strive to do no harm. We would love life and live it with a sense of joy and wonderment.

We would form our own independent opinions on the basis of our own reason and experience; and not allow ourselves to be led blindly by others. And we would test all things; always checking our ideas against our facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it did not conform to them. We would readily admit it when we are wrong in the knowledge that humility is the basis of intellectual advancement and that it is truth that enables human progress.

And of course we would enjoy our own sex life (so long as it damages nobody) and leaves others to enjoy theirs in private whatever their inclinations, which are none or your business.

We would uphold the principle that no one individual or group has an ownership of righteousness. We would seek not to judge but to understand. We would seek dialogue ahead of confrontation.

We would place internationalism before nationalism acknowledging that the planet earth does not have infinite resources and needs care and attention if we are to survive on it. In doing so we would value the future on a timescale longer than our own. We would recognise that the individual has rights but no man is an island and can only exist, and have his rights fulfilled, only by the determination of a collective.

We would insist on equality of opportunity in education acknowledging that it is knowledge that gives an understanding. We would seek not to indoctrinate our children in any way but instead teach them how to think for themselves, evaluate evidence, and how to disagree with us. We would, in our schools open their minds to an understanding of ethics instead of proselytizing religion.

We would never seek to cut ourselves off from dissent, and always respect the right of others to disagree with us.

Importantly we not overlook evil or shrink from administering justice, but always be ready to forgive wrongdoing freely admitted and honestly regretted.

Lastly we would question everything. What we see, what we feel, what we hear, what we read and what we are told until we understand the truth of it because thoughtlessness is the residue of things not understood and can never be a replacement for fact.

If these things truly are the embodiment of enlightenment. How do we stack up? It is fair to say that some societies and individuals could lay claim to attaining a measure of it. For example in some countries gender equality is more readily accepted and there has been advances in education. Overall though I think the reader would conclude that in most instances our enlightenment has not progressed much.

This is no more empathised than in our understanding of what free speech is. Are we honestly enlightened if we think we need to enshrine in legislation an emotion people already have and use, to express hatred?

There is something fundamentally and humanely wrong with the proposition. There is an intolerable indecency that suggests that we have made no advancement in our discernment of free speech.

If free speeches only purpose is to denigrate, insult and humiliate then we need to reappraise its purpose. There are those who say it identifies those perpetrating wrong doing but if it creates more evil than good it’s a strange freedom for a so-called enlightened society to bequeath its citizens. Are we saying that hate is an essential part of the human condition?

To quote Jonathan Holmes:

“Let’s be clear: Charlie Hebdo set out, every week, with the greatest deliberation, to offend and insult all kinds of people, and especially in recent years the followers of Islam, whether fundamentalist or not. 

Look at some of the magazine’s recent covers: An Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood protester in a hail of gunfire crying “The Koran is shit – it doesn’t stop bullets”; a full-on homosexual kiss between a Charlie cartoonist and a Muslim sheik with the ironic headline “Love is stronger than hate”; a naked woman with a niqab thrust up her backside.”

The Charlie Hebdo massacre as vile and as unjust as it was gave no excuse for repressive world leaders to lecture anyone on freedom of expression. The sheer hypocrisy of it was breathtaking. Some of the world leaders locked arm in arm in the Paris March were from countries with the world’s worst suppression of press freedom. To see the Foreign Minister of Egypt marching arm in arm with world leaders was two faced-ness in the extreme given that Peter Creste has spent more than a year in jail.

It’s all in the name of satirical free speech but it’s not funny if has no insightful truth.

Is this really what an enlightened society means by free speech? Does it demonstrate our cognitive advancement? Is this what well-educated men and women want as free speech or should we see free speech as being nothing more or nothing less than the right to tell the truth in whatever medium we so choose.

One has to wonder why the so called defenders of free speech feel they are inhibited by what they have now. I don’t. I have never felt constrained in my thoughts or my ability to express them. I’m doing it now. But then I don’t feel a need to go beyond my own moral values of what is decent to illuminate my thoughts.

Why is it then that the likes of Abbott, Bolt, Jones, Brandis, Bernardi and others need to go beyond common decency, and defend others who cannot express themselves without degenerating into hate speech? The answer has nothing to do with an honourably noble sort of democratic free speech.

Why does this demand for open slather free speech always come from the right of politics and society? They seem to have an insensitivity to common decency that goes beyond any thoughtful examination.

And we shouldn’t forget that the means of distribution for hate speech is weighted toward the right-wing media, particularly in Australia.

They simply want the right to inflict hate, defame with impunity, insult, and promote bigotry if it suits their purpose. And behind that purpose can be found two words. Power and control.

Often those who demand unrestricted free speech, do so to compensate for the freedom of thought they seldom use.

The way we presently view free speech simply perpetuates the right to express all those things that make us lessor than what we should be. Debate, in whatever form, should not include the right to vilify. It is not of necessity about winning or taking down ones opponent. It is about an exchange of facts ideas and principles. Or in its purest form it is simply about the art of persuasion. The argument that bigots are entitled to be bigots or that unencumbered free speech exposes people for what they are, doesn’t wear with me. It simply says that society has not advanced.

That our cultural ethical intellect has not progressed at the same rate as our technological understanding.

The fact that so many people agree with the free speech argument highlights the tolerance we have for the unacceptable right to hate each other, which to me is the sauce of everything that is wrong with human behaviour.

We will never truly understand the effect free speech has on people until we have personally suffered from the abuse of it.

And we want to make it acceptable by legislating to condone it.

Are we really saying that in a supposed enlightened society that values, love, decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the others point of view, that we need to enshrine in law a person’s right to be the opposite of all these things.

If that is the case then we are not educating. We are not creating a better social order and we are not enlightened at all.

The fact is that free speech in any democratic system should be so valued, so profoundly salient, that any decent enlightened government should legislate to see that it is not abused. That it carries with it sacrosanct principles of decency that are beyond law and ingrained in the conscious of a collective common good.

After all the dignity of the individual (or individuals) within the collective is more important than some fools right to use freedom of speech to vilify another. Those who insist on unlimited free speech should realise that when they do so they also reveal their inner morality.

My thought for the day.

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

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Political scandals that pass us by.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

1 One of the more troublesome aspects of Australian political democracy for me is the amount of scandal that seem to come and go. They come with the smell of reprehensible corruption and go with sleight of hand manipulation.

Investigations, enquiries or whatever seem to take forever and get lost in the essence of time. Even AFP investigations are perceived to be politically tainted.

James Ashby is a case in point. He admitted on national television that he had illegally sought to steal the diary of the then Speaker of the House, Peter Slipper, yet he faced no charges. In my view the whole sordid affair required a Royal Commission because one party, the Liberals, were actively engaged in perverting the course of justice by trying to bring down the speaker and an elected government.

The same James Ashby is now chief of staff to Pauline Hansen. Work that out.

In the past two weeks we have heard from the lips of Tony Abbott’s former Chief of Staff admit that when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister the Coalitions attack on a Carbon Tax had little to do with the environment but was basically just brutal retail politics. In other words a scare campaign. Nothing more and nothing less. In admitting it they have at least put the historical record straight. Together with the photos of Coalition members laughing in a circle when the tax was repealed, and the more recent one of Morrison brandishing a lump of coal, will remind us of the stupidity of their actions in perpetuity.

In the absence of a law forbidding reprehensible inanity the people are left to judge the absurdity of their actions.

On top of this we also learned that our involvement in the Iraq war was more a public relations exercise about holding hands with the US than fighting a war. Fairfax media uncovered a comprehensive report which is an assessment of our involvement in the war.

The 572 page declassified report with 500 redactions was written between 2008 and 2011 by Dr Albert Palazzo from Defence’s Directorate of Army Research and Analysis.

‘’The report concludes that Howard joined US president George W. Bush in invading Iraq solely to strengthen Australia’s alliance with the US. Howard’s – and later Kevin Rudd’s – claims of enforcing UN resolutions, stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism, even rebuilding Iraq after the invasion, are dismissed as ”mandatory rhetoric”

”Howard and Sir Peter, facing domestic political pressure, ensured that Australian lives were exposed to as little risk as possible. The result was a contribution that was of only modest military use and, in many cases, made little sense. Politically, delivering the right force was “secondary to the vital requirement of it just being there” but it led some American military officers to grumble that Australia was providing “a series of headquarters”.

And I cannot finish without mentioning the biggest cover-up in Australian political history. How we became involved in Vietnam. Sir Robert Menzies had said that he had received a letter from South Vietnamese government to join the war. What Menzies did not say was that his government had approached the United States requesting such an invitation. When the cabinet papers were revealed 30 years later no letter was mentioned or found.

500 young men lost their lives and 3129 were injured.

The question of course is how they get away with it. We all read about the corruption that exists. The political donations in return for favours. The expenses scandals. There seems no end to it. We know what is needed but politicians are loath to investigate themselves. Yes we need a national ICAC. One with teeth and the powers necessary to wipe out political corruption whenever it raises its head.

Other scandals of the top of my head and in no particular order were the Petrov affair, the Morosi affair, Bjelkemander, the 1975 Constitutional crisis, Tampa, Mulamed Haneef, AWB Oil for wheat, Pink bats, Choppergate, Craig Thompson, Edie Obeib and Children Overboard.

2 This week’s Essential Poll has Labor still in front but only by 6 points as opposed to Newspolls 10. They use different methodology but you would have to say that Newspoll is more on the mark.

On this day in 2016 I wrote:

Author’s note. I have to say that when I look up what I have written on the same day of the previous year, I could almost get away with posting the same piece and everyone would think it was written today.

Who said this?

”I am a reformer by nature, very much so”.

”Everything, every single element, is on the table. And I know that always means that someone can then run a scare campaign, but I’m sorry, we’ve got to stop [this]. This is part of the political tradition I’m determined to end. We have got to be able to consider policy options in an unfettered way. We’ve got to have the maturity to have a debate that is not throwing things off the table …”

Yes, Malcolm Turnbull.

There’s the problem. Tony Abbott has said on a few occasions that he couldn’t work out why the government had changed leaders when it had not changed any of his policies.

Tanya Plibersek made the point ”All of those people were sitting in middle Australia thinking, ‘Thank God Tony Abbott is gone. What have they been left with? They have been left with Tony Abbott in a different suit”

”Because what happens is politicians who get intimidated by their opponents or by the media or whatever, they say, ‘Oh that’s off the table, that’s off the table, that’s off the table’ and suddenly there’s nothing left on the table.”

Yes Malcolm Turnbull.

Those who were thankful and delighted in the demise of Abbott are entitled to think they have been let down. Even people of the opposite ideology felt that Turnbull would bring a new era of public discourse.

But today, Turnbull is the man taking options off the table in a piecemeal, panicky kind of way.

I have said it before that new Prime Ministers generally try to make their mark on the party they led by implementing their own policies. Putting their stamp on their leadership. Turnbull in spite of saying all the afore-mentioned has chosen to rubber stamp all of Abbotts policies.

He has reaffirmed Abbott’s policies on same-sex marriage, direct action on climate change, his monarchist stance, border protection and foreign policy.

”We need a style of leadership that explains those challenges and opportunities, explains the challenges and how to seize the opportunities. A style of leadership that respects the people’s intelligence, that explains these complex issues and then sets out the course of action we believe we should take and makes a case for it. We need advocacy, not slogans.”

Yes, Malcolm Turnbull.

Peter Hartcher of Fairfax put it this way:

”Two weeks ago he decided that he would not support raising the GST, that “big bang” tax reform was off the table, and since that moment he has transformed.

From explaining the challenges and opportunities, he has transformed into a politician who instead explains why he is not pursuing challenges and opportunities.

First he explained why he was not going to raise the GST. Then he explained why he will reject Labor’s ideas on negative gearing and capital gains tax. And then he launched into a full-throated scare campaign against Labor’s proposals without advocating any alternative.

On tax reform, he is now heading to exactly where Abbott said he was likely to have been: “At a minimum,” Abbott told me last November, “we would have had modest tax cuts based on spending restraints.”

Abbott is right to ask why they changed leaders but is wrong to assume he would have won the next election.

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”.

 

Day to Day Politics: 55-45 to Labor. That’s more like it. But …

Tuesday 28 February 2017

I have been saying for months now that the polls, based on the performance of the government, have not reflected an accurate picture of where the parties stand. 55-45 In favour of Labor is more like it. But …

The current standings are:

Primaries: Coalition 34, Labor 37, Greens 10, One Nation 10, Others 9 Turnbull: Satisfied 29, Dissatisfied 59 Shorten Satisfied 30, Dissatisfied 56… Better PM: Turnbull 40, Shorten 33

Mind you polls so far out from an election don’t say much about who might win. They are only a snapshot of the prevailing political circumstances of the time. The trend is important. And what an unpleasant picture it is.

Mr Turnbull’s reaction was predictable. He blamed Abbott (a change from blaming Labor) saying that his speech was a calculated and deliberate attack to undermine confidence in the Coalition. Not that one could say any existed. But trying to blame Abbott for the bulk of the Governments performance has no credence. Even his over-hyped attack on Shorten impressed nobody. It’s not what they expect from the Lord of the Manor.

He also gave the media a serve, Trumpish style:

“You’re much more entertained by conflict and personalities than you are by jobs…Now, you can focus on the personalities if you wish, that’s up to you, but I’m focused on jobs, I’m focused on economic growth, I’m focused on ensuring that as hard-working Australian families can get ahead, and on that note we must return to Parliament.”

Now there is some truth in that but the leadership speculation and appalling governance is not of their making.

Why is the Government in so much trouble?

Well it’s not difficult to work out. Abbott won Government because Labor showed they were dysfunctional with revolving door leadership. He spent three years calling Julia Gillard a liar and painting a negative picture of the nation. When he won a number of things became obvious. He had no policies and he could not make the transformation from negative gutter dweller opposition leader to Prime Minister. He proved to be a monumental flop.

So much so that many judged him to be the worst Prime Minister in Australia’s history. Although he had the most educated cabinet we had ever seen, they lacked empathy and the skill sets required for good Government.

Malcolm Turnbull had spent a lot of time since losing the leadership of his party appearing on various media displaying a reasonableness of character that would eventually see him successfully challenge for the leadership and win.

He in turn had no policies or the ones he did hold dear he ditched for the support of the extreme right of his party. The public hoped beyond hope that he was the real deal but eventually had to concede that if Abbott was the worst PM ever then Turnbull had to be the most hypocritical.

His failure to deliver on Marriage Equality, action on Climate Change and other policies have all contributed to a ‘’he doesn’t listen’’ view of his character.

In the midst of it all the old Liberal Party that Menzies founded was taken over by the hard right and the neo-conservatives now control it and its leader.

The rejected leader, Abbott decided to hang in and despite saying he would not be disruptive has been a constant thorn in the PMs side. After his latest attack on his leader the party had had enough and he was publicly and privately rebuked.

Will he stop? Probably not. The reality that he could not win back the leadership has now almost certainly sunk in but his loathing for Turnbull runs deep. He sees him as a weak leader.  He very likely has many bullets in his arsenal ready to fire at a time of his liking. If he cannot be the leader he may as well be the assassin.

Abbott’s speech last week does however, reveal an understanding of current world events where people believe that strong leaders with populist, black and white solutions to complex problems are the ones to blindly follow. A belief that by just being in power, things will be resolved for the better.

You can be a liar, misogynist, sexist, environmental vandal or whatever but so long as you are tough they will stupidly lock onto you.

Chris Uhlmann in a piece for the ABC said:

”Tony Abbott is morphing from leadership aspirant into political assassin and the transition is deadly.

Because if Mr Abbott abandons hope of ever being prime minister again, he might settle for mortally wounding Malcolm Turnbull and letting someone else bury the corpse.”

Peter Credlin, his former Chief of Staff said.

“I do not believe that Tony Abbott wants the job again. I think he would have a hard time reconciling around that Cabinet table with people like Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop and others, It’s still a very personal grievance that he feels.”

“But by God they’re angry and they are leaving in droves and it shows in Newspoll after Newspoll. The party is bleeding, the supporters are going and I honestly fear the party will not get them back.

“It’s on life support.”

In the meantime Turnbull and his Government don’t seem to have a clue on what they are doing. It’s as though they have given up on the governance of the country.

The economy and the environment, among many other things, need urgent attention but it’s as though they are stuck in quicksand and the need to survive is uppermost in their thoughts. The government is focused on itself rather than governing.

Many in the Government come across as snarly incompetent fools lacking any sense of understanding or empathy. They are lost in the fog of their own internal ideological struggle. A struggle that sees many of its supporters drifting to the moronic party of One Nation whose inarticulate leader is a confused populist. And I would venture to say that the 10% she has attracted to her nest also feel attracted to her policies or they fly to her because it’s the next ‘Right’ option. It’s what the conservatives in the Coalition want the party to become.

It is right to say that at any given time polls are only a snapshot of current political events. Yes, every picture tells a story. It’s not a pleasant one.

On this day in 2016 I wrote:

But ordinary Australians, those who believe in a fair go, recently have, by virtue of a factual avalanche of evidence, come to realise the extent of the unfair pampering that this government is giving the top end of town and wealthy individuals.

Yet it’s the pensioners, the unemployed and welfare recipients who are being asked to tighten their belts in the public interest. The recent Senate enquiry into the amount of tax that giant corporations like Apple, Google Transfield, Ikea and others pay in this country has opened the eyes of the average Australian who during an extended period of affluence have had them closed.

It’s a pity the Abbott/Turnbull compassion starved Government didn’t have the same fervour for cutting tax avoidance by the rich and privileged as it does for cutting welfare for the poor. Good governance is much preferred to bad politics.

Authors note.

The title of the piece was Tax reform cannot be done because the rich might suffer. If you have the time have another read and discover why the polls are as they are.

My thought for the day

”Instead of being proactive we tend to wait for disaster. Even in politics”.

 

Day to Day Politics: As Time Goes By..

26 February 2017.

On this day in 2016 I wrote the following. I repost it purely to demonstrate just how little this Government has achieved. Anyway you be the judge.

1 Its only fair, regardless of one’s political ideology to give credit where credit’s due. The Abbott/Turnbull government has done something truly remarkable. At the last election it accused the Labor party of being the worst financial managers in the country’s history. The budget was in crisis. Something had to be done to arrest it. Spending was out of control. We were an economic cot case and if nothing was done we would end up like Greece.

Two and a half years later after doubling the debt amid a debate about the need for major tax reform they have managed to find 30 billion dollars to spend on defence. What makes it even more remarkable is that they have not been able to get the senate to pass legislation for cost savings in the past two budgets.

So credit where credits due. That’s almost the equivalent of Jesus walking on water.

But not to finish there the Magician is now, according to the AFR signalled his willingness to arrange a funding deal with the states to relieve pressure on their health and education budgets.

Remember Abbott took 80 billion away from them.
Treasurer Scott Morrison maintains at the same time that the states should deal with funding shortfalls on their own. Turnbull would like to resolve the issue and repair the Federal
Government’s relationship with the state governments before the May 2016 Budget.

Wow, I wonder what miracle they will perform when we get the ’real’ bill for Direct Action on climate change.

And there going to cut your taxes.

2 It seems that the Prime Minister has decided to walk away from his much promised Tax Reforms. Reforms that might have achieved some budget repair. And not because they may have brought some equitable redistribution of the wealth of the country. Some fairness. No simply because tax reform might have hurt the pockets of those who vote for him.

It seems he has also decided to walk away from the transparent, truthful, and reasoned and policy explanation politics he also promised.

In deciding to take the path of Abbottism politics he has turned his back on all those who had hoped for a new era in politics.
Seeing him in parliament this week mounting a scare campaign against Labor’s proposed changes to Negative Gearing disclosed him for the fraud he is and people are entitled to ask why they changed from a blatant liar as leader to a hypocrite of titanic comparison.

3 Cory Bernardi said that Bill Shorten had had a Mark Latham moments when he said Cory was a homophobe. By saying that was Cory elevating himself to the position of a Prime Minister.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews summed him up rather well.

’I’m sick of Liberal politicians telling our kids that there’s something wrong with them – when there isn’t,’
‘I don’t think these extreme Liberals are actually offended by the structure of the program, or the teachers who lead it. I just think they’re offended by the kids who need it.’

The Liberals now plan to “investigate” (meaning: ultimately shut down) the Safe Schools Coalition, a program that looks after teenagers who are getting bullied at school.

There is nothing worse than a Clayton’s leader. Grow some balls Malcolm. Stand up to the ferals in your party. Saying it is a broad church doesn’t jell anymore.

4 When on earth are we going to get the report on parliamentary expenses? It was promised earl in the New Year.

5 Is it just me or are there others who are finding the ABCs political reporting rather bland. Almost like they are frightened of putting their foot in it.

6 This almost went under the radar but according to The West Australian, retiring Senator Bill Heffernan told parliament on Wednesday that the child abuse royal commission should be extended to investigate sex abuse in judiciary ranks, producing an alleged list of paedophiles he says includes senior judges and lawyers, as well as a former prime minister.

He says Australia needs a federal judicial commission and he will seek senior legal advice on the matter.

My thought for the day.

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

Day to Day Politics: Tony Abbott, remember these?

Saturday 25 2017

1 Yesterday the failed former Prime Minister Tony Abbott gave Malcolm Turnbull yet another lecture about how to run the Government. It was without doubt his biggest rebuff yet of Turnbulls leadership.

Leadership can be a very strange beast indeed. Abbott lost the leadership of the nation for one very good reason. He had not the ‘character’ that leadership requires.

Turnbull took over his job thinking he had the character to lead the nation only to find that he had as little as Abbott. Now Abbott who failed the test of leadership wants his job back and is willing to shaft his boss to do so.

Of course we shouldn’t forget that when Abbott was leader he trailed Bill Shorten 30% to 48% as preferred prime minister. Defeat would have been a virtual certainty under his leadership.

”My government Said Turnbull. has a record of achievement. In the last six months since the election we have achieved more … with fewer seats in the House and fewer seats in the Senate than we did in the previous three years”.

He went on to list his compelling list of accomplishments:

”I have not talked about abolishing the Life Gold Pass for former MPs and ministers – I’ve abolished it.”

”I haven’t talked about restoring the rule of law to the building sector – I’ve done it.”

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

The Prime Minister said that Tony Abbott knows exactly what he is doing. He didn’t say it in words but he will do everything within his power to destabilise his party to the point where the PM, in order to stabilise his own position, will have to bring on a spill motion.

Trying to convert a lifetime of negativity into motivating inspirational leadership was a bridge too far. To say the least he was totality uninspiring. In fact I can think of no other person in Australian public life who has made a greater contribution to the decline in public discourse, the lowering of parliamentary standards and the abuse of our democracy than Tony Abbott.

When looked in isolation the lies and indiscretions of Tony Abbott, his problems with women and even his negativity could perhaps all be written off as just Tony being Tony. Alternatively, that’s just politics. However, my focus here is on character and whether Mr. Abbott has enough of it to be the leader of our nation. My contention is that because we are looking at a litany of instances of lying, deception and bad behaviour over a long period he simply does not have the essence of character, which is one of the main ingredients in the recipe of leadership.

None of the following events are in chronological order. They are just as they came to mind and are listed randomly in order to build a character profile.

So this is Abbott’s resume for re-election as Leader of the Liberal Party.

1 When the President of the US visited he broke long-standing conventions by politicising his speech as opposition leader.

2 He did the same when the Indonesian president visited.

3 He did the same when the Queen visited.

4 He could not help but play politics with the death of an Australian icon in Margaret Whitlam.

5 He would not allow pairs (another long standing convention) so that the minister for the arts could attend the funeral of painter Margaret Olley. Another Australian icon. Malcolm Turnbull, a personal friend was also prevented from attending. There have been other instances of not allowing pairs.

6 He refused a pair whilst the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard was on bereavement leave following the death of her father.

7 Then there were the callous and inappropriate remarks he made to Bernie Banton.

8 At university he kicked in a glass panel door when defeated in an election.

9 Referred to a woman Chairperson as “Chairthing”.

10 He was accused of assaulting a woman at University, and later acquitted. He was defended by a QC and the girl defended herself.

11 Another woman accuses him of throwing punches at her. And hitting either side of a wall she was standing against. He says it never happened but others corroborate her story.

12 He threatened to punch the head in of Lindsay Foyle who disagreed with him on a woman’s right to an abortion.

13 In 1978 a young teacher by the name of Peter Woof bought assault charges against Abbott. Abbott had punched him in the face. The charges never went anywhere. Abbott was represented by a legal team of six and the young man could not afford to defend himself.

14 And he did punch out Joe Hockey’s lights during a rugby match.

15 He established a slush fund to bring down Pauline Hansen and then lied about its existence.

16 He was ejected from the House of reps once in obscure circumstances. Hansard is unclear why, but it is alleged that he physically threatened Graham Edwards. Edwards lost both his legs in Vietnam.

17 In 2000 he was ejected from the House along with six others. Philip Coorey reports that he was headed toward the Labor back benches ready to thump a member who had heckled him.

18 Abused Nicola Roxon after turning up late for a debate.

19 Then there was the interview with Mark Riley where he had a brain fade that seemed like it would never end. I thought he was deciding between a right hook and a left cross. Something that I found mentally disturbing and worrying . After all, at the time this was the man who could be our next Prime Minister.

20 Together with Pyne he was seen running from the House of Reps to avoid embarrassment at being outwitted.

21 Being the first opposition leader to be ejected from the house in 26 years because he repeated an accusation of lying after withdrawing it.

22 The infamous “Sell my arse” statement verified by Tony Windsor. Will Windsor ever release the mobile phone transcript?

23 The interview with Kerry O’Brien where he admitted that unless it was in writing he didn’t always tell the truth.

24 And in another O’Brien interview he admitted lying about a meeting with the catholic Cardinal George Pell.

25 During the Republic referendum he told many outrageous untruths.

26 His famous “Climate change is crap” comment and later saying that he was speaking to an audience. This of course elicited the question; “Is that what you always do?”

27 His almost daily visits as opposition leader to businesses with messages of gloom and doom about the carbon tax. None of which have come to fruition. His blatant lying often repudiated by the management of the businesses. The most notable being the CEO of BHP and their decision not to proceed with the Olympic Dam mine. Whole towns being closed down. Industries being forced to sack thousands. The end of the coal industry etc.

28 And of course there is the now infamous Leigh Sales interview where beyond any doubt he lied three times and continued to do so the next day.

29 Then there was his statement that the Aboriginal tent embassy at Parliament House be closed. To call his statement an error in judgement is too kind. It almost sounded like an incitement to riot.

30 He is quoted as saying in the Parliament that Prime Minister Gillard and Minister Albanese had targets on their heads. He later apologised.

31 And of course there is also the lie about asylum seekers being illegal.

32 Added to that is his statement that the PM refused to lay down and die.

I think I have exhausted it all but I cannot be sure. Oh wait. Lest we forget.

33 We should not leave out his insensitive comments about the attempted suicide of John Brogden.

34 And the deliberate lie he told to the Australian Minerals Council that the Chinese intended increasing their emissions by 500 per cent.

35 His “dying of shame” comment.

36 His “lack of experience in raising children” comment.

37 His “make an honest women of herself” comment.

38 His “no doesn’t mean no” comment.

Then of course there were these Tonyisms. Similar ones have continued into his Prime Ministership.

Lest we forget.

39 ‘Jesus knew that there was a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia’.

40 ‘These people aren’t so much seeking asylum, they’re seeking permanent residency. If they were happy with temporary protection visas, then they might be able to argue better that they were asylum seekers’.

On rights at work:

41 ‘If we’re honest, most of us would accept that a bad boss is a little bit like a bad father or a bad husband … you find that he tends to do more good than harm. He might be a bad boss but at least he’s employing someone while he is in fact a boss’.

On women:

42 ‘The problem with the Australian practice of abortion is that an objectively grave matter has been reduced to a question of the mother’s convenience’.

43 ‘I think it would be folly to expect that women will ever dominate or even approach equal representation in a large number of areas simply because their aptitudes, abilities and interests are different for physiological reasons’.

44 ‘I  think there does need to be give and take on both sides, and this idea that sex is kind of a woman’s right to absolutely withhold, just as the idea that sex is a man’s right to demand I think they are both they both need to be moderated, so to speak’.

45 ‘What the housewives of Australia need to understand as they do the ironing is that if they get it done commercially it’s going to go up in price and their own power bills when they switch the iron on are going to go up, every year…’.

There are probable more since I compiled this list but I WILL FINISH HERE.

On three occasions over time I have invited people on Facebook to list five attributes of Tony Abbott that would warrant his re-election as Prime Minister of Australia. I have never received a reply. And when you look at the aforementioned list is it any wonder. He is simply bereft of any character at all.

He has been described as the Mad Monk and many other things but essentially he is a repugnant gutter politician of the worst kind. In following the American Republican party’s example his shock and awe tactics associated with perpetual crisis did nothing but degenerate the standard of Australian politics and the Parliament generally. In the public eye he was most effective in attack dog mode. However he is found wanting when he needs to defend himself and simply reverts to stuttering hesitation and lies.

The future of this country is of vital importance. So much so that its leadership should never be entrusted to a politician of such little virtue and character.

Or Turnbull for that matter, a man who has failed to articulate a narrative for Australia’s future other than a personal desire to occupy the seat at the head of the table. A man who’s hypocrisy knows no bounds.

My thought for the day.

”The way you think and feel about yourself affects every aspect of your life. When you love, accept, respect and approve of yourself, you validate your existence.”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: What is your labour worth?

Friday 24 February 2017.

1.  I wonder how you would feel if having received a consistent salary over a period of time and your employer told you that next week he was going to cut it? Devastated would be my first reaction. After all the wage and conditions I received, were what I had negotiated. It was what I depended on each week. It was what I budgeted on, week to week.

It was the wage I got. What I expected.

With this decision there is no compensation that would see the lowest paid workers no worse off. They could have done so but I guess the commissioner, Ian Ross, who earns $8000 a week probably thinks that people who make coffee on a Sunday in a café are overpaid.

“Many of these employees earn just enough to cover weekly living expenses,” Fair Work Commission president Iain Ross said.

On the contrary, it seems to me that in deciding that Sunday was no longer special it became a reason to lower a cohort of people’s wages by saying it would create more jobs. I am yet to see the evidence for this. In any case I find that arguing that weekends are just like any other working day is a spurious one. To my mind everything still happens on a Sunday.

I am more inclined to the view this decision as the first step in a process to abolish the minimum wage and the Industrial Relations act? I can’t see it will lead to more jobs.

The Fair Work Commission have taken a long time to consider its decision and the issue has been complex however, the economy is experiencing a 75 year low growth in wages. Hundreds of thousands of Australia’s lowest paid workers will now get less for doing the same work.

Employment Minister Michaelia Cash said without the slightest concern for those taking a pay cut. The decision would help unemployed people find work. What, at the expense of low paid workers taking a pay cut.

“This will have a positive impact on many of the employers who will now be able to open on a Sunday and offer more employment, in particular to those who are unemployed or underemployed,”

Those taking the pay cuts may very well become the underemployed or indeed, the overworked.

This decision comes at an inopportune time.

And it comes at a time when the Government wants some good news. They cannot blame this independent decision on Labor. It’s another attack on the lowest paid workers. While this decision was made by an independent umpire it is a conservative government that has been campaigning  for years to have them lowered.

To quote Brendan O’Conner.

For Malcolm Turnbull, supporting cuts to penalty rates is just his way of doing business. For Labor, supporting workers is personal.

These workers  don’t deserve it.

I agree with Bill Shorten.

“I have never seen an argument which would justify wholesale pay cuts for the lowest paid workers in Australia.”

I reckon it’s only the start. They will chip away incrementally.  Nurses next?

In the meantime the PM will receive a pay rise of $6740 in July. Inequality runs rampart.

2.  The latest report by the Climate Council of Australia lays it on the line regarding the progress of Renewable Energy.

Under the headline ‘’State of Solar 2016: Globally and in Australia’’ it says that:

Solar power is surging in Australia and around the world, on the back of scaled-up production and continually falling costs.

Our new report finds that the solar rollout will continue to go gangbusters this year, with more than 20 industrial-scale installations set to go ahead across the country, and another 3700 megawatts in the pipeline.

I haven’t expanded on this but I recommend you read the piece to counter the propaganda of the conservative Turnbull Government.

My thought for the day.

To what degree do we actually control the course our lives take?”

 

 

Day to Day Politics: Bland Brandis Branded Banal and Bereft of compassion.

1. George Brandis is your typical born to rule conservative full of the pitfalls that are evidenced in a demeanour of entitlement and self-righteousness. On Monday night’s Q&A he exhibited all the traits of a man full of his own self-importance.

Duncan Fine in a piece for Fairfax suggested that Q&A is a program set up for  ”’gotcha” moments for right-wing politicians. I disagree.

‘While a review of the show then found no evidence of a “leftie lynch mob”, after Monday night’s episode where George Brandis became the latest in a long line of right-wing pantomime villains, I think it’s time to be frank – Q&A has big problems.”

Whilst on the one hand he makes some good points as to the composition of the show, on the other, he ignores the fact that it’s the combativeness that has made the show as popular as it is.

“And week after week Q&A falls into the trap of setting up a person (invariably a right-wing politician, conservative columnist or shock jock), to be ridiculed for their opinions.”

On the contrary. If Labor were in power they would be faced with the same dilemma. The problem is with those participating. More to the point, their lack of preparation. In the case of Brandis he would have well-known the sorts of questions he would be confronted with.

The mixture of panelists would have suggested what he would be asked to defend and who was likely to back him up.

The first question for the night came from,

“Fred Thorpe, a victim of Centrelink’s debt recovery regime that has quite rightly been exposed as being in many cases both heartless and hopelessly wrong.”

Brandis could have distanced himself given the subject wasn’t within his portfolio. But he chose to answer and in doing so offered not a scintilla of empathy or recognition of the problems people were facing when dealing with Centerlink.

He simply told her that her problems would be addressed if she picked up the phone and rang her local Centerlink office. In doing so he indicated to one and all that he must be the most out of touch politician in Australia.

When the moronic Piers Akerman (how on earth does he get a Guernsey) chimed in, he had no idea that a young man had committed suicide over a debt issue.

Then the Attorney General had a run in with human rights advocate Julian Burnside over the legality of asylum seekers after he said refugees who come to Australia commit “offences against our migration laws”.

Brandis said that any refugee who arrives “in the hands of people smugglers” is unlawful. Burnside then asked whether or not he believed asylum seekers were committing a crime.

“Attorney-General, as the senior law officer of the country, do you believe that asylum seekers who come to Australia commit any offence?” Burnside asked.

“Yes, I do,” Brandis responded.

“What offence do they commit? Which?” Burnside went on.

“They commit offences against our migration laws. I’m not going to quote a section,” Brandis shot back.

“Because there isn’t one. You are wrong,” Burnside responded.

“The fact is people are entitled to seek asylum in an orderly manner,” Brandis responded. “The people of whom we speak are people who have put themselves in the hands of people smugglers and who have come to Australia unlawfully.”

When Burnside asked why no one had been charged Brandis didn’t seem to have an answer.

2. When you consider, according to 2015 Tax Office records, 77 Australians who earned more than $1 million paid no income tax due to aggressive tax minimisation, a form of the so-called ‘’Buffet’’ tax might help in the cause for equality?

It would mean that Bill Shorten would go to the next election requiring people earning more than $300,000 a year, for example, to pay no less than 35 per cent of their taxable income.

It’s the sort of measure that Labor will have to impose if it is to counter the populist policies of the minor parties. By then inequality may be a big issue.

3. The latest Essential Poll shows Labor ahead 52/48. Something I find hard to evaluate given antidotel evidence would suggest that the Government is on the nose and on the way out.

In its weekly survey it did find that more than 70% of voters think the Turnbull government is not doing enough to ensure affordable, reliable and clean energy for Australian households and businesses – and a clear majority also supports Labor’s goal of sourcing 50% of energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Even among their own constituency, Liberal and National voters, 62% of the sample said the government was not doing enough.

On this day IN 2016 I wrote.

1. It is remarkable how Labor has managed to become the de facto government. Or so it would appear the way the government is being forced to attack its policies. I have said previously that Labor cannot win this election with a traditional campaign. By releasing policy early Shorten has wrong footed Turnbull who says he won’t release tax reform policy until the budget.

I have never seen this before. A government having to attack an opposition who is delivering sound economic policies 7 months before an election.

When the top 10% of wage earners are the ones who benefit most from negative gearing it is a policy relatively easy to defend. Yesterday we had the best retail politician in Australia, Barnaby Joyce, saying Labor’s Negative Gearing policy would reduce the value of a million dollar home by a third. Rather reminded me of the $100 dollar roast. Honestly the most educated Government in Australia’s history are acting like they don’t have a collective brain in their heads.

On top of all the talking and retracting over the past few weeks yesterday they had a thought bubble on low-income earners getting their super payments as wages. Expect they will back down today.

Turnbull and Morrison’s problem is that the areas ripe for tax reform are the very ones that would affect it constituency most. Whilst Bill Shorten is not the most charismatic person around he might just be the policy wonker people say he is. And a strategist to go with it. In any case he is getting all the favorable media. (this proved to be true)

2 Goodbye Harper Lee. As a young boy you changed my life.

3 How dreadful, how disillusioned those good Catholic folk who have their faith at the core of their being must feel. I know our local Parish Priest does. But having committed the sins it has, it is difficult to see how the church has any right to cast moral judgement on others.

The indignation it is showing over accusations about Cardinal Pell is outrageous given the deaths it has caused. So many children abused, lives destroyed and families devastated. To this day I don’t think they fully comprehend the damage they have done. The Vatican still won’t release documents in their keeping. As an institution the Church is morally bankrupt.

My thought for the day.

“Do the young of today have any respect for those of older generations? Do they know the difference between manners and civility? Empathy and altruism.”