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Kaye describes herself as a middle-aged woman in jammies. She knew Tony Abbott when they both attended Sydney University where she studied for a Bachelor of Science. After 20 years teaching mathematics, with the introduction of the GST in 2000, she became a ‘feral accountant’ for the small business that she and her husband own. Kaye uses her research skills “to pass on information, to join the dots, to remember what has been said and done and to remind others, and to do the maths.”

The time for partisan bullshit is over, Josh – give it up

Less than four weeks ago, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was still singing his own praises:

“Australia approaches the challenges ahead from a position of economic strength with the Coalition Government’s economic plan and responsible budget management contributing to the resilience of the Australian economy.”

Under the Coalition’s “responsible budget management”, net debt has increased from $161,253 million at 31 August 2013, a week before the election, to $424,164 million at the end of February this year.

Remember when the Coalition screamed blue murder about Labor increasing the debt ceiling to $300 billion?

Well, gross debt as of the end of last week was $579.2b with another $4.1 billion of AGS to be issued this week alone.

Before the bushfires and coronavirus hit, the economy was weak.

Real GDP grew by 1.9 per cent in 2018-19, softer than the 3 per cent growth forecast in the 2018-19 Budget, and the Wage Price Index increased by 2.3 per cent, below the 2¾ per cent growth forecast in the 2018-19 Budget.

Job creation was only keeping up with population increase and underemployment was emerging as a significant problem.

When asked by Leigh Sales about how the Coalition had blasted Labor’s stimulus package during the GFC, Frydenberg replied that he is “not looking backwards” – there will be no admitting fault.

Still stuck in slogan land, Coalition language is changing.

We have gone from a “targeted, modest and scalable” response to “targeted, measured and scalable” and now Frydenberg is calling for “quick, strong and co-ordinated action” from the G20 countries.

The self-satisfied smirks, the ridiculing of the idea of well-being, and the draconian persecution of the unemployed have disappeared.

After more than a decade of their bullshit, all of a sudden, “we are all in this together”.

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Peter Dutton is NOT the man we need in this crisis

Peter Dutton just can’t help himself.  Appearing on 2GB this morning in his regular chum session with Ray Hadley, he has made the most outrageous claims.

Speaking about the docking of the Ruby Princess in Sydney, Dutton said he would not get into a political game or “hang anyone out to dry” whilst then going on to say that the person in NSW Health that made the decision to allow the passengers to disembark would “have to live with that mistake”.

This was in response to that fool Hadley suggesting that “someone died, because of a decision taken by a public servant, or by someone in government, and that person needs to be held accountable for that death.”

What an utterly ridiculous irresponsible thing to say.  No public servant was responsible for people on that ship getting sick.  Certainly, the decision to allow them to disembark unchecked was a mistake.  To suggest they are responsible for the death of someone who contracted the virus onboard is wrong and pointless.

Dutton went on to contradict his own ABF Commissioner by saying that Australia was dealing with a “difficult situation” because of ‘lies’.

“Some cruise ships are lying about the state of passengers” said the man who chose to fly overseas in the midst of the crisis, not in any way enforce his own personal hygiene and social distancing, then go to a gym when he got home and spread the disease he had contracted.

When I rang the Minister’s office to express my concern, they hung up on me.  Sure, they are busy, but Dutton seemed to find the time to pass on misinformation on 2GB.

We cannot afford idiots to be giving out the wrong information or for politicians to be wasting everyone’s time looking for someone to blame.

But that is all Dutton is capable of.

As queues of travellers arriving from overseas formed at Sydney airport this morning, Border Force operatives were asked why social distancing was not being enforced.  The reply was “not our problem, that’s biosecurity.”

If I allowed people to cram in like that to my business, I would face hefty fines and possible jail time.

Dutton is incapable of dealing with this.  Shut the fool up.

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Learning the hard way

Many of us have felt the anger, frustration and fear caused by our government’s inaction on climate change.  Many more of us have felt the devastating consequences of the drought, bushfires, storms, floods, heatwaves and water shortages.  Our country is so large that we can be experiencing all these things at the same time.

Scientists’ increasingly strident warnings have been ignored in favour of greed.  ScottyFromMarketing went with “I will not take any action because I cannot look Australians in the eye and tell them how much it will cost and what it will mean for their jobs.”

Seemingly miffed at being ignored, Mother Nature decided to up the ante and send us the corona virus to remind us that there are more important things than a surplus.

All of a sudden, when the rich and powerful find themselves equally vulnerable, advice from scientists is paramount.  We will listen to them and spend whatever it takes to deal with this crisis.

All of a sudden, the value of early preventative action and mitigation is being stressed.  No-one is suggesting there have always been viruses and we should just adapt.

All of a sudden, the stock market is revealed for the hollow construct that it is.  One speech by that fool in the White House wipes trillions of dollars away in an instant.

We are being forcibly made to rethink our values and, so far, we are not covering ourselves in glory with our generosity and concern for others.

We are being made to realise the down side of globalisation and the loss of domestic  industries and manufacturing.  The obsession with maximising profit has diminished our capacity and resilience and has made us dependent on a world that is a long way away.

Privatisation has delivered profits to shareholders but has exposed industries to risk that the taxpayer is now having to bail them out from.

I wonder if the wealthy rue their tax avoidance when it leaves us with over-worked under-equipped hospitals?

We will get past COVID19 but, unless we learn some lessons about curbing our greed, listening to experts, and mitigating risk, this current crisis is just a taste of things to come.  The disasters and deprivation caused by a hotter planet could cause global anarchy.  As we line up hoping we can buy a few potatoes, people in the US are lining up to buy guns.

Can the world heed the cleansing of the temple?  Can we learn there are more important things than wealth?  Can we change our priorities from profit to sustainability?  Can we learn to share?

Or will future wealth be measured in toilet rolls and bullets?

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Here’s a thought

With school holidays coming up, parents must already have in place plans about what they are going to do with their children.

As it seems inevitable that things will get worse, why not go into lockdown for the two or three weeks of the holidays over Easter and Anzac Day which also equates to the required isolation period?

Surely that would slow the transmission rate?

Do it now when it can still make a difference.

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The last year has highlighted how paltry our government is

Whether it is reef bleaching, mass fish kills, drought, the bushfires, the urgent need for emissions reduction, the need for fiscal stimulus, or the response to the corona virus, our government has been found lacking.

So used are they to playing the game of “brutal retail politics”, they are completely unprepared to do what is needed.

The opposition to carbon pricing was madness.  Everybody agrees it is the cheapest way to reduce emissions and the best way to encourage research and development.  We had a system in place that was working to reduce emissions with no negative impact on the economy – we kept growing at a better rate than recent years.

Now, instead, we are throwing money at lifelines for the fossil fuel industry with research into producing dirty hydrogen using brown coal with unproven carbon capture and storage technology.  We are looking into new coal-fired power plants and to ramp up gas mining.  And we stubbornly persist in handing over billions in fossil fuel subsidies.

Likewise, the opposition to renewable energy has been hugely irresponsible.  Installing Angus Taylor as energy minister showed what little regard the government has for this evolving industry.

As reported at the time,

“Taylor has been a trenchant opponent of the federal Renewable Energy Target and wind farms ever since one was built next door to his family property near Cooma in the rich farmlands of southern NSW.  He helped spill Malcolm Turnbull and kill the National Energy Guarantee and its emissions target, just as he helped kill former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Clean Energy Target.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch, submitted a report in December last year (unlike our Special Envoy for Drought, who was too busy trying to get a pay rise to bother).

“Climate Change continues to be the biggest threat to the Reef and while people are entitled to a different opinion on the topic, there are fundamental facts that we must acknowledge and grapple with. There is broad consensus that human induced warming presents significant challenges to ecosystems and economies alike. Australia has a significant role to play from a global perspective. Many continue to argue that we represent only roughly 1.5 per cent share of global emissions. While that is indeed the case, if we use this metric as a rationale for reduced action on domestic emissions and other countries who have a similar share of emissions (less than 2 per cent) take the same view—it is equivalent to abdicating responsibility of roughly 40 per cent of global emissions. While everyone loves to point the finger at China and other large emitters, the reality is that we all have a role to play in addressing this issue.”

Needless to say, it received no coverage.

As for Barnaby, the former chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority said “it was my observation and impression that the MDBA’s direction changed when Barnaby Joyce became minister for agriculture and water resources. At that time it appeared to me that the MDBA shifted its approach further towards irrigation interests.”

He also slammed the authority’s decision not to take account of the 2012 Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan put in place by ex NSW minister and failed Nationals candidate for Gilmore, Katrina Hodgkinson, which has allowed irrigators to pump environmental flows travelling down the river during low flows.

The ongoing investigation by the Auditor-General into some very dubious water buyback decisions, and by police into the fraudulent rorting of the Healthy Headwaters program, promise to reveal just how disastrous it was putting someone like Barnaby in charge.

We have heard for months now how the government ignored urgent warnings about the upcoming catastrophic bushfire season and we watched in horror the consequences of their inaction and the ham-fisted inadequacy of their belated reaction.

And then the corona virus hit.

We don’t need fiscal stimulus.  Oops, yes we do.

We won’t give cash handouts.  Hang on, yes we will.

I’m going to the football.  Ok, maybe not.

I don’t need to self-isolate or get tested despite having been sitting next to a guy who has a confirmed case.  I don’t need to stop shaking hands.  That’s just for other people.

Photo opportunities and cosy chats on 2GB and Sky After Dark do not equate to governing.

Going on their record so far, does anyone trust this government to handle this situation?

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Can we tell the truth yet?

In October last year, Josh Frydenberg said “calls from Labor for a GFC-type stimulus are just ridiculous.”

“There is a spending story that is underway across the economy but it’s very targeted and it’s in the areas that need it most.  And it’s not a scattergun approach where you write cheques willy-nilly to the last person who asked you.”

Josh said what was needed was long-term structural reform to boost competition, cut red tape and reform workplace relations.

That’s the sort of stuff Liberal treasurers always say – it’s the IPA mantra.

Five months later, with the uber-confident grin fading, Josh was sticking to the “Labor bad” line.

“We won’t repeat the mistakes of the past with cash splashes,” Frydenberg told Sky News – a week before announcing a $750 payment to welfare recipients.

It is ironic that the government is being praised for leadership when they have actually realised they are entirely out of their depth and handed over the reins to medical and financial experts rather than the marketing crew.

The maladministration of funds through grants systems and the inability to disperse relief funds in a timely manner are the consequences of purging the public service of those with the experience and know-how to administer programs.

How many times must it be shown that the Minister does not know best?

If I believed in some guiding supernatural force, I would suggest they are trying to tell us something.  Personally, I prefer the scientists who are most definitely trying to tell us something.

Liberal governments have enjoyed the good times that have led to them being full of political animals and fundraisers.  Winning elections by whatever means has been the goal.

In the George Winterton Lecture in 2012, Malcolm Turnbull said:

“How often do we hear Australian politicians discuss these challenges in a genuinely open, honest, spin-free and non-adversarial way? Where the intention is to clearly explain the problem, accept responsibility for past misteps if appropriate (rather than apportion as much blame as possible to the other side), allow a non-ideological discussion of possible remedies, and see if there is any common ground for bipartisan work?

Seldom, and even more rarely if a camera is rolling.”

Far from claiming credit, it has taken a global pandemic to expose the shallowness of our supposed leaders.  All the things they railed against, they are now being forced to concede are necessary – renewable energy, emissions reduction, water management, fiscal stimulus, increased hospital funding, boost to welfare payments, a deficit budget and increased debt, increased preparedness to tackle bushfires, money to keep people employed (though how successful those measures will be is questionable).

Free trade agreements aren’t much use when there is no international trade.

Perhaps they will finally realise that there are better people to advise them than the Murdoch press and conservative “think tanks”.

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When slogans won’t cut it anymore

When Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg suddenly found themselves leaders of the government, they couldn’t hide their delight. The smirks turned into shit-eating grins.

As he launched the election campaign a few months later, Scotty began with “How good is mum? How good is Jenny?”

His victory speech a week later was more of the same.

“How good is Australia! How good are Australians! Thank you!”

Even as the country burned, Scotty was asking “How good is the cricket?”

From the time the Coalition came to power, they have had a relatively easy ride.

Disasters elsewhere delivered a much higher iron ore price than expected. Company profits delivered a budget boost.

The casualisation of the workforce has meant they can boast of more people in jobs, hiding the real problem of underemployment and insecure jobs. And all they have done really is keep up with population growth. Wage stagnation has become a persistent problem despite their claims of low unemployment.

They “stopped the boats” from landing in Australia but thousands of people still drown in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. “Queue jumpers” who are in a position to get a visa and get themselves on a plane are arriving in their droves. Despite the tough talk, the people smugglers have just changed their business plan. Meanwhile, people still languish in immigration detention and camps and nothing is being done to stem the worldwide tide of refugees.

They “axed the tax” which also stopped the decline in emissions. And electricity prices continue to rise. Private investment in research and development has fallen dramatically. Instead of polluters finding ways to reduce their emissions, we pay farmers to not cut trees down and to reduce herd sizes during drought.

Infrastructure spending keeps getting announced and then re-announced and then re-re-announced. Very little actually gets started let alone finishing anything. We have feasibility studies galore but little real action.

Scotty assured “quiet Australians” that, “if they have a go, they’ll get a go”, whatever the hell that means.

The “debt and deficit disaster” is over, Josh and Scotty tell us, now that we are “back in black” and “Labor’s debt” will be repaid in a decade by the Coalition’s surplus budgets.  Except they are about to deliver their seventh deficit and the debt has more than doubled under their watch.

After cruising along, wasting money on pork-barrelling rorts and political advertising and countless reports and inquiries, they are now being asked to actually govern.

2019 was the hottest and driest year on record. The drought has savaged large parts of Australia and rivers and dams have dried up. The catastrophic bushfires that experts had been warning about (whilst being ignored) eventuated, devastating so many communities and so much wildlife and their habitat.  When rain did come, it came in the form of terrible storms causing widespread damage and flooding.

And then the coronavirus hit.

Finally, it seems they have been jolted out of their lethargy to realise that slogans and blaming Labor just won’t cut it anymore. A surplus is no longer a Holy Grail and stimulus is no longer a dirty word.

But can these arrogant entitled people, so used to behaving like an Opposition, step up and do the job they are paid for rather than just a marketing campaign?  Can they listen to experts? Can they admit we have problems? Can they stop passing the buck and actually lead?

That remains to be seen.

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The shameless perfidy of Scott Morrison’s latest claims about emissions reduction

The Liar from the Shire has sunk to new depths – ok, maybe not new – with his ridiculous claim that “Emissions today are 50 million tonnes less on average each year under our government than under the previous government.”

This crap should be used in school maths classes as an example of how data can be manipulated to mislead.

The latest release tracking Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions includes a table of emissions for each financial year.

Emissions to the end of June 2007 were 627.0 Mt CO2-e.  Six years later, they were 537.6, and 533.9 a year after that when the carbon price was repealed in 2014.

In the year ending September 30, 2019, they were 530.8.

To save you doing the sums, under Labor policies, emissions reduced by over 93 Mt CO2-e.  Since the Coalition “axed the tax” almost six years ago, emissions have reduced by about 3 Mt CO2-e.

But hey ScottyFromMarketing, run with that line if you want.  Get Angus to say it too.

Because we ALL know how trustworthy you two are.

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Speaking of rorts…

Eleven days before the election last May, Scott Morrison announced $15 million to extend a program to build regional study centres in country towns.

The project, Country Universities Centres, was initially proposed by Duncan Taylor, the brother of the federal energy minister, Angus Taylor, when Duncan’s wife, NSW Nationals state upper house MP Bronwyn Taylor, was parliamentary secretary to John Barilaro, the Nationals state leader and deputy premier.

Despite a cost-benefit analysis showing the project would be unlikely to deliver a positive benefit to the state, the NSW government handed over $16 million – $8 million in 2017-18 and another $8 million in 2019.  The grants were awarded without tender.

Bronwyn Taylor has insisted she had nothing to do with the grants yet emails have revealed she was informed about it minutes after the decision was made which caused NSW Labor to ask the pertinent question in Senate estimates:

“You said you had no involvement but you were informed three weeks before the grant is announced. If you weren’t lobbying and engaging behind the scenes why were you told about it?”

The CUCs had previously received $5.1m funding in 2018 from the federal government, including $830,000 for a centre in Goulburn in the seat of Hume, the seat of Angus Taylor, whose wife, Louise Clegg, is on the board of the Goulburn CUC.

In New South Wales the centres have been largely located in seats that coincidentally are under pressure from minor parties, like the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, or independents.

The $15 million handed over during the federal election campaign was for five new centres, only one of which had been decided upon at the time.  It just so happened to be in the seat of Indi where the Coalition were trying to wrest the seat back from the independents.

Once again, we see Coalition governments using public money to shore up their political fortunes and, once again, the Taylor family are the recipients of government largesse.

In fact:

“From the time Angus Taylor entered parliament in September 2013, companies & organisations the Taylor family have managed, directed or are directly associated with have benefited from over $93,515,673 in federal & state government funds.”

It pays to have friends and relatives in high places.

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Who do you trust? Not you, FauxMo

When Scott Morrison launched the 2019 election campaign – six days before the election to maximise campaign funding being paid from the public rather than party purse – how good was everything.

How good’s mum?  How good’s Jenny?  How good’s family?  How good am I?

“Our government has restored our nation’s finances. We have turned that around. We have kept our AAA credit rating. We have handed down, well done Josh and the entire team, the first Budget surplus in more than a decade — back in the black,” claimed FauxMo in an embarrassing display of premature congratulation.

That was about as truthful as when he put his arm around Malcolm Turnbull – something he has a bad habit of doing – and brazenly said “I’m ambitious for this guy,” as his numbers men were scurrying around the halls drumming up support.  Only it wasn’t for Malcolm.

ScottyFromMarketing has no problem telling lies if he thinks it will advance his cause.  Like all ad men, he wants to manipulate public opinion.

When in Opposition, he suggested, as a campaign strategy, capitalising on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.  When confronted about that last year, Scotty said he wanted to “address fears, not exploit them”.  Uh huh….

During his time as Immigration Minister, Morrison showed little regard for the truth and no empathy for the people under his care.

He summarily dismissed the AHRC report on the Forgotten Children in offshore immigration detention with a vicious personal attack on Gillian Triggs.

He wrongly accused Save the Children staff of coaching children to self-harm, leading to them being deported.  When his own commissioned reports showed he was wrong, and that the government had ordered the dismissals for political reasons “on no evidence or reliable information”, the government had to pay out millions in compensation and legal fees.

FauxMo also lied about the murder of Reza Berati at the hands of the people we pay to care for asylum seekers.

As soon as he was made Minister for Social Services, Morrison said the government would have to cut welfare spending in order to pay for the ‘unfunded’ NDIS.  That’s the NDIS that Australians pay an extra 0.5% Medicare levy to help fund, the NDIS that the government underspent $4.6 billion on last financial year in order to deliver their ‘balanced’ (a mere $700 million in deficit, not worth mentioning) budget.

As Treasurer, Scott Morrison slammed Bill Shorten’s call for a banking royal commission as a “populist whinge” and a “reckless political game”, voting against it 26 times.

After his successful coup to get the top job – and no Scott, we don’t believe your hands are clean in that tawdry affair – Morrison silenced complaints from women in his party about bullying during the leadership tussle.  Linda Reynolds’ call for people to be held to account disappeared with her promotion.

ProMo has become increasingly secretive to the point where he didn’t even tell us he was leaving the country.  He dismisses as gossip his invitation to a man who covered up child sex abuse to be his guest at a dinner at the White House  – except it’s true.

Morrison has revelled in using public funds for his ad campaigns, be they on television or by way of grants rorting.

It is obvious from the evidence into the sports rorts affair that Bridget McKenzie did as she was instructed to do by the PM’s office.  Being the man he is, Scotty made her the sacrificial lamb on a minor technicality whilst completely denying his own role in determining where, moreso than who, would get the grants.

Michael Pascoe writes in the New Daily about 11 federal programs totalling $8.1 billion that have serious question marks – or worse – over their ethics, probity and basic governance.

For ScottyFromMarketing, the corona virus has been a godsend.  It has moved attention away from his woeful handling of the bushfires.  He is being credited with showing leadership when, in fact, he has just got out of the road and let the experts dictate what must be done.  If only he would do that about global heating.  Or increasing Newstart.  Or Closing the Gap.  Or tackling the domestic violence crisis.  Or the obesity epidemic. Or governing?

The corona virus will also give an excuse for not delivering the surplus we had supposedly already achieved before the last election.

Morrison exudes confidence but, like everything else, it’s fake.  A person who was confident they were doing the right thing would welcome scrutiny, they would invite suggestions on ways to improve, they would listen to and genuinely consider alternatives.  They would show respect to their colleagues rather than puerile mockery and respect to the public by being honest and transparent.

The most important qualities of a good leader are integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, and positivity.

Instead, we have FauxMo the ad man.

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Technology road map or a lifeline for coal?

All of a sudden, the government has discovered “technology” – they just don’t know what to do with it.

No doubt, we will get another glossy brochure with no research to back it up, no comparative analyses of different approaches or relative cost/benefit, no risk analysis or management.

Because this government doesn’t really believe in it as shown by their track record.

Total R&D expenditure is at its lowest level since 2005-06 and business R&D expenditure is lower than at any time since 2002-03.

ABS figures show that Australia’s gross expenditure on research and development fell to 1.79% of GDP in 2017-18, down from 1.88% in 2015-16. This compares with an OECD average of 2.37% for developed nations. Business expenditure on R&D fell from one per cent of GDP to 0.9% over the two-year period, while the OECD average was 1.49%.

Government investment in R&D in 2011-12 was $10.072 billion.  Despite our continually growing GDP, in 2018-19 it was $9.396 billion.

R&D tax incentives in 2011-12 were $1.07 billion.  In 2019-20 they are estimated to be $280 million.

Aside from cutting funding and incentives, instead of letting the research and market decide where technology should go, this government has shown its penchant for picking winners, usually based on political rather than practical considerations.

And as per usual, this tactic comes directly from the Republican playbook.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Republican Sen. John Barrasso wrote:

“The nation is leading the way not because of punishing regulations, restrictive laws or carbon taxes but because of innovation and advanced technology, especially in the energy sector,” he wrote. “Making energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs to consumers will be accomplished through investment, invention and innovation.”

Enter hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, which may sound like a good idea – or may sound more like a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is the main driver behind the hydrogen push and he wants it produced using coal and gas combined with carbon capture and storage.  Only 4% of the hydrogen produced globally is made using renewable energy.

A recently published study by the Center for International Environmental Law warned that some technologies, in particular carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, could slow the transition to renewables.

“CCUS is valuable to the fossil fuel industry in three key ways: it expands oil production, provides a lifeline to a declining coal industry, and further entrenches the overall fossil fuel economy,” the report says. “Incentivizing CCUS through policy and relying on it in planning will likely slow the transition away from fossil fuel investments and undermine broader efforts to mitigate climate change.”

Touting technology and innovation is a tactic being used to sound like you are doing something on climate change while kicking action on reducing emissions down the road.  None of the technologies are close to being developed at a scale large enough to have a true impact on global warming, a process that would have to be coordinated among many countries on a vast global scale.  We don’t have time to wait.

But hey, at least the fossil fuel industry is happily on board.

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The appalling behaviour of politicians must stop

I’m sure Josh Frydenberg thought he was being very funny as he ridiculed Jim Chalmers for suggesting we need a well-being budget. I’m sure he revelled in the laughter and accompanying jeers from the nodding heads behind him. He was no doubt encouraged by the smirking jerk to his right as he delivered his putdown.

“I was thinking yesterday, as the member for Rankin was coming into the chamber fresh from his Ashram deep in the mountains of the Himalayas barefoot in the chamber, robes flowing, incense burning, beads in one hand, wellbeing budget in the other, I thought to myself: ‘What yoga position the member for Rankin would assume … to deliver the first wellbeing budget?”

Unsurprisingly, Australia’s many Hindu citizens were unimpressed.  The President of the Universal Society of Hinduism said in a statement it was “heartbreaking” for the hardworking and peaceful Australian Hindu community to watch the religion be “belittled and laughed at” in the parliament.

But that’s what our politicians do constantly. Belittling is their cap in trade. Jeering and catcalling and name-calling is standard practice.

This sort of behaviour is emotional abuse.

“Emotional abuse may include behaviours such as threatening, insulting, shaming, belittling, name-calling, gaslighting and stonewalling, which are done in an attempt to chip away at the victim’s independence and self-esteem so the abuser can gain control in the relationship. “

We see this behaviour every day in our parliament.

Along with the emotional abuse, politicians also fuel racism by their snide remarks and racial/religious profiling. Who could forget Attorney-General George Brandis defending the rights of bigots?

Peter Dutton is a constant offender – laughing about Pacific Islands being inundated, wanting to fast track visas for “white” South Africans, labelling second and third-generation Lebanese Australians as a terrorist threat, telling us that Melbourne is under siege from African gangs, boycotting the Apology and stridently defending Bill Leak’s cartoon about Aboriginal parenting, ridiculing Armani wearing asylum seekers – the list is endless.

Josh Frydenberg only recently spoke about the rise of anti-Semitism in Australia yet he seems to have little problem with his party wanting to prioritise Christian migration.  They give lip service to religious freedom but they really mean the freedom to impose their beliefs on others.

We can’t punish our way out of the domestic violence epidemic that grips Australia.  We can’t get rid of racism just by laws.  We all have a part to play in changing our society by stepping up to say it’s not ok.

It would be great if the leaders of our country, the people who make the laws, took some time to examine the example they are setting with their appalling behaviour.

It’s not ok.

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Buyers remorse for the voters of Wentworth?

As our intelligence services warn us about the increasing risk posed by far right groups, the Liberals are doing a full court press to warn us about “far left lunatics”, kicking off with our Home Affairs Minister who later ridiculously tried to say he was referring to ISIS when we ALL know he was talking about GetUp.

Amanda Stoker posted on Facebook “Sensible Australians are waking up to the hysterical, divisive and unethical tactics of GetUp. Please help everyone understand what they’re all about by sharing this article from today’s Australian far and wide!”

Member for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, eagerly  complied.

Well said Senator Amanda Stoker 👍🏼

“It’s relentless harassment and intimidation designed to psychologically crush and scar the target. And it’s wrong, yet Getup trains and directs people to do it.”

I’ve been on the receiving end of such tactics myself … it’s nothing more than bullying.

Sharma also did an interview with Chris Kenny complaining about how he was being persecuted by GetUp and the ABC.

His constituents seem unimpressed with Sharma’s “poor me” attitude and expressed their disappointment with his personal lack of performance.

The following is a selection of responses from Mr Sharma’s Facebook page:

“I thought you would be a centralist but obviously I was naive Dave Sharma. I voted for you and it looks like I made a massive mistake. Mr Turnbull was hounded by that paper and company and maybe that is why you’re always posting Sky interviews, so you don’t face a similar fate.”

“Agree. I’m in the same electorate. He started out as the nice guy with posts about the environment, now he attacks the organisations that would stand up against the inaction of this government. Adaption is no solution.”

“I wondered how a seemingly clever person would want to stand for a government where he had little chance to succeed in his foreseeable future. ( This was at the time of the elections) Unfortunately now I can see the road he is taking and it certainly it isn’t the one that I was hoping he would take.”

“Yes I was hoping for a more centrist approach as well, tired of the extreme right of the party shutting down discussion.”

“Dave why are you spending so much time worrying about GetUp – you’re just proving that they are succeeding in rattling you and others in the LNP.

Also, don’t you have better things to do with your time? Like respond to concerned voters in your electorate who are contacting you about your Government’s complete lack of any realistic climate change action plan?  That’s what we want to hear from you. We cannot see any leadership in your party on this. Can you please focus on doing your job?”

“100% agree. I’ve talked to many others who have emailed his office on climate action, only for everyone to receive a copy-pasted stock reply two weeks later, responding with vague platitudes. And no wonder, he seems to spend all his time moaning about getup and the ABC”

“That’s what I got in response to my written letter as well. Also, Dave why did you lie on Sky News this week about not being aware of QASU after they met with you only days before? It’s one thing to disagree respectfully but, as your Wentworth constituents, you at least owe us the courtesy of not lying about our contact with you. You are meant to be our MP and representative in Government. At least we know your true colours now, and we will spread the word locally and get organised now so Wentworth voters know for next time. Thanks!”

“Dave, why are you giving your time to small minded Newscorp media hacks please? Can you at least try to pretend you are a serious politician?

We want to see actual policy discussion not just negative take downs of concerned voters in your electorate. I and many others support what QASU are doing. We are lawyers, teachers, academics. We are not the “usual suspects” or a “ragtag” bunch. How insulting you are.

Not good enough.”

The people of Wentworth hoped for a lion for climate change action.  Or perhaps a Solomon wise enough to convince his colleagues of the risks.

Instead, they got a mouse who meekly runs with the rat pack.

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They just don’t get it

Watching the Senate inquiry into the sports rorts affair shows that the government has no understanding of what they have done wrong.

Eric Abetz, whose entire demeanour screams arrogance, tried to tell us that Senator McKenzie’s intervention had made the grants fairer because it increased the total number of electorates to receive funding and Labor-held seats got more grants from her decisions than from the recommendations of Sports Australia.

He repeatedly tried to get the Sports Australia representatives to agree that this was the case and they repeatedly answered that arbitrary electoral boundaries were not considered in their merit-based assessment which, instead, assessed community need and impact.

For Senator Abetz’s line of argument to be worthy of consideration, we would have to believe that every electorate is equally in need of sports infrastructure upgrades and that the political persuasion of their federal representative should be relevant.  This view only confirms that the Coalition consider political considerations more important than funding based on need.

The same thinking seems to apply to school funding and here, Labor are guilty too.  Our government offers a public school system available to all.  Some people choose not to use it, but still expect government funding to subsidise their choice.

Scared of the political consequences of cutting funding to private schools, governments of both persuasions have caved in to making special deals, especially with the Catholics who are just given a huge amount of money to spend as they will with no justification that it is going to the schools most in need.

It is unbelievably galling to hear about very high fee-paying schools being giving large amounts of government money as they install a sound-proof recording studio, buy new rowing sculls, and build another three squash courts.

As Gonski attempted to point out, not all schools are equally in need and if we are really serious about improving results, we would be giving the funds where there is the greatest need.

It is also unfathomable how the government can resist all the evidence about the urgent need to increase Newstart and the economic and social benefit that would follow.  Their opposition seems entirely ideological, pandering to the ‘dole bludger’ pejorative.  Drug testing?  Nation-wide income management?  Seriously?

The argument that the best form of welfare is a job makes no sense as an excuse not to make Newstart adequate – if they could get a job, they wouldn’t be on social security payments.  Employment aspiration doesn’t pay the rent or put food on the table in the interim.

We employ these people to invest the common wealth in the best interests of the country, not to spend it to prop up their electoral fortunes.

They just don’t get it.

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The advice the government won’t listen to

In dealing with the coronavirus, Scotty From Marketing has all of a sudden decided that, not only must we do what the medical experts’ advise, we must also concentrate our scientific resources on combating the cause rather than just reacting to the crisis.

Yet this same logic does not seem to apply to the existential threat posed by global heating.

In order to avoid taking any action on reducing emissions, the government is busily calling for more inquiries to ignore and more glossy brochures to hold up.

They try to deflect the urgent need for action by ridiculous calls to quantify the cost and its affect on power prices and jobs in three decades time, all the while refusing to acknowledge the cost and impact of inaction.

And it’s not like they don’t know.

In 2015, the government published a National Climate Resilience and Adaptation Strategy.  It identified the major risks for Australia:

  • increased frequency and intensity of flood damage to housing, roads and other infrastructure
  • increased illness, death and infrastructure damages during heat waves
  • constraints on water resources in southern Australia
  • significant reduction in agricultural production in the Murray-Darling Basin and far south-eastern and south-western Australia if scenarios of severe drying are realised
  • increasing risks to coastal infrastructure and low-lying ecosystems from continued sea-level rise
  • increased damages to ecosystems and human settlements, infrastructure, economic losses and risks to human life from bushfires in most of southern Australia
  • significant change in the ecological community composition and structure of coral reef systems
  • loss of mountain ecosystems and some native species.

Then in 2018, the government commissioned the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework which further confirmed the huge costs of failure to act.  The following is an excerpt from that report.

Reducing disaster risk is critical to supporting communities and economies to be resilient when a shock occurs. Recognising this, in early 2018 the Australian Government invited all states and territories, local government, and key private sector representatives to work together to co-design and develop a National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework.

Many natural hazards are becoming more frequent and more intense, driven by Australia’s changing climate. The Bureau of Meteorology/CSIRO’s 2018 State of the Climate report describes the effect of Australia’s changing climate, including warming temperatures, rising sea level, more severe fire weather, and increased rainfall in Australia’s north and decreases in the south. It is predicted that these changes will continue, while new natural hazard threats will emerge. There is growing potential for cumulative or concurrent, large-scale natural hazards to occur.

In 2017 Deloitte Access Economics, reporting to the Australian Business Roundtable for Disaster Resilience and Safer Communities, found that over the past 10 years disasters have cost the Australian economy around $18 billion per year. Assuming current development patterns and population growth continue, this is forecast to reach $39 billion per year by 2050. This forecast does not account for the effects of a changing climate, which are expected to magnify these costs; nor does it account for losses that cannot be quantified but are no less important to people. Deloitte Access Economics found in 2015 that the intangible costs of disasters – including increased family violence, mental health impacts, chronic disease, alcohol and drug use, short and long-term unemployment, changes to school academic outcomes, and crime – are at least equal to, if not greater than, tangible costs.

There is significant momentum building across sectors to address climate and disaster risks. The release of the 2017 Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure report increased market understanding of climate risk and demand for services to help identify and manage that risk. The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority and Australian Securities and Investment Commission have stated that climate-related physical and economic transition risks are foreseeable and material financial risks that should be addressed by company directors alongside all other financial risks.

Mainstream investors are divesting from stock in exposed industries, credit rating companies are reassessing credit ratings to factor in climate-related risks and several banks have commissioned analysis of their mortgage books based on location. The Investor Group on Climate Change, in its 2018 Investing in Resilience report, predicts that the ability to differentiate investment opportunities by climate risks will be a key financial metric within the next 3-5 years. These developments provide additional reasons to take action to reduce disaster risk and position Australia for the future.

If they read their own reports, the government already knows the risks we face and how best to address them.  What is the point in more inquiries, more “road maps”, more glossy brochures, if they continue to ignore the science for their own political purposes?

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