Investment Funding for Northern Development: Is the LNP…

More Dams for the Northern Food-bowls: Achievable Policies or Pre-Election Hype? Preamble to the…

Scott Morrison is completely out of touch

Many of us were disenchanted with Malcolm Turnbull, but Scott Morrison is completely…

PM steps up religious crusade

By Brian MorrisAustralia has already been described as a ‘soft theocracy’.  The question…

Adani To Go Announces Its Intention To Continue…

Every now and then The Australian Financial Review has an article that…

From Aristophanes to Knight Or "Is something else…

By George TheodoridisIt is a case -as it bloody nearly always is- of…

Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under

There is something peculiar doing the rounds in Australian food circles.  The…

What do think tanks think?

By Henry JohnstonAuguste Rodin’sThe Thinker is universally regarded as a symbol of…

Complicit in corruption reprint

Breaking news....well kind of.Company linked to alleged foreign bribery conspiracy in Nauru…


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.”

Scott Morrison is completely out of touch

Many of us were disenchanted with Malcolm Turnbull, but Scott Morrison is completely wrong about why.

The majority of the population agreed with Turnbull’s previous statements about climate change, renewable energy, marriage equality, the Republic, the negative affects of overly-generous property tax concessions, the perils of political donations, the need for state-of-the-art communications etc.

Our disappointment stemmed from his backflips on these issues precipitated by the apparent stranglehold on the party by a few noisy anachronistic men who yearn for the days when women were content with silent domestic servitude and one’s connections, rather than one’s ability, offered opportunity.  Dishonourable mention should also be made of the few women aboard the gravy train who enable these throwbacks by their complicit silence.

Morrison, after an ugly coup very reminiscent of how he originally won preselection, immediately tells us his priorities are the drought and reducing power prices, no doubt as payback to the Nationals for signing the agreement that keeps him in government (like the Nats would ever jeopardise their over-represented position at the table).

Yet his first action is to kill off any action on climate change and to throw the growing renewable energy sector into uncertainty once again, actively working against the mechanisms that would achieve his stated goals.

In the annual Lowy Institute Poll on Australian attitudes to the world and global issues for 2018, 59% of respondents agreed with the statement: “climate change is a serious and pressing problem. We should begin taking steps now even if this involves significant costs.”

This represents an increase of 5 percentage points from 2017, and a consistent increase in support for this statement over the past six years.

While the federal government pretend to pursue a “technology-neutral” energy policy, public support for a large-scale energy transition in Australia is even more emphatic than support for climate action.

According to the Lowy poll, 84% of Australians support the statement that “the government should focus on renewables, even if this means we may need to invest more in infrastructure to make the system more reliable”.

But it’s not just climate change and energy policy where the Morrison government is unrepresentative of community attitudes.

Scott Morrison, along with several of his colleagues, couldn’t bring themselves to vote for marriage equality despite overwhelming community support for it.

He has refused to release the report from Philip Ruddock on religious freedom but has intimated that, even though he can’t point to any actual concerns, he will introduce legislation to fix a problem that doesn’t exist.

He vaguely talks about parents having a choice about the values their children are taught which we all know is the religious dog whistle about the Safe Schools program.

If Mr Morrison has convinced himself that there is no bullying problem in his party, it’s perhaps not surprising that he cannot understand the bullying that goes on in schools and the request from teachers for resources to help them discuss respectful relationships and tolerance and understanding of diversity.

The majority of Australians support euthanasia and legal abortions, but not our Scott and the unrepresentative preponderance of religious people in our parliament.

While every economist is telling us that wage stagnation is a real problem, Scott keeps telling us that all will be well if businesses make more profits, once again completely out of tune with the community and out of touch with the reality of soaring company profits which have not translated to wage rises.

Scott also keeps telling us they are keeping us safe by spending hundreds of billions on war materiel, terrorism stuff, and keeping asylum seekers locked up, yet he pays lip service to domestic violence, not understanding that the behaviour of politicians is a shocking example of the belittling intimidation that accompanies such violence.  He seems more worried about keeping us safe from strawberries than from the trauma that is a part of too many Australian’s lives.

He tells us he leads a united party who wants a united country.  We may be apathetic and weary of political shenanigans but that is just impossible to accept from the man who “sees votes in anti-Muslim strategy” and who happily just knifed a sitting Prime Minister for no reason he can articulate.

Shutting down parliament, refusing to go to the Pacific leaders forum, cancelling the scheduled COAG meeting, and leaving the Senate with no legislation to discuss, does not engender hope that they are getting on with governing.

It seems more like they are fine-tuning their slogans and their shouty attack of it all being Labor’s fault.


Complicit in corruption reprint

Breaking news….well kind of.

Company linked to alleged foreign bribery conspiracy in Nauru received $2.5m Australian government contract

Shock horror.  Our AFP have discovered corruption in Nauru….eventually.

Which leads me to repost an article I wrote over two years ago…..

In June [2016], in an interview with A Current Affair, Nauru’s Justice Minister David Adeang claimed that Nauru has “much lower” rates of sexual assaults, murder and rape than Australia and many refugee assault claims are false or exaggerated.

“[Refugees] have an accident, and they claim that a couple of boys beat them up. That hurts us. They have relationships, somebody gets pregnant, and they claim it was born out of sexual assault and rapes.”

He claimed such allegations were “political” and an attempt to cast aspersions on the Australian government’s offshore detention policies.

So how trustworthy is Adeang?

In June 2015, the ABC revealed Adeang received huge bribesfrom Australian phosphate dealer, Getax, in a plot to overthrow the government in order to receive commercial benefit.

When Mr Adeang was in opposition in 2009 he told former Getax director Ashok Gupta: “We can create a new business relationship that can take this country to a higher level of development and of course taking also your business to even more success”.

Mr Adeang told Getax he had the support of a number of other MPs who were prepared to desert the government.

“We give you full authority to mobilise or lubricate the MPs to secure the vote and win the battle,” Mr Gupta replied.

President Baron Waqa allegedly received $60,000 while the justice minister David Adeang — Nauru’s most powerful politician — received $10,000 per month in 2009 and 2010.  Other government MPs are also implicated in the scandal.

Leaked emails show Mr Adeang solicited an additional $665,000 in corrupt payments for himself and other Nauruan politicians from the Australian company, Getax.

Nauru’s police commissioner at the time was expat and former Australian Federal Police officer Richard Britten. He began an investigation into the alleged bribes and was promptly dismissed by the Waqa government who had won the 2013 election.

According to the scathing OECD report on inaction on foreign bribery cases, the AFP are still investigating.

Phosphate Mining Case:   A company allegedly bribed parliamentarians in a foreign country to obtain a phosphate mining permit. The company includes two corporate entities: one incorporated in a third country and one incorporated in Australia. Only the entity incorporated in a third country was implicated in the allegations. The AFP interviewed two complainants regarding the allegations, but concluded that the investigation could not continue for lack of jurisdiction. However, in the course of investigation, a number of unrelated financial transactions by the company were identified as suspicious. These transactions were passed to AUSTRAC, who conducted a financial analysis that enabled the AFP to establish a separate evaluation into other possible foreign bribery offences, which is ongoing.

In April, 2013, in the garden of their home, Adeang’s wife Madelyn burnt to death.   A brief police statement said she was carrying a bucket of petrol that ignited. But there has never been a coronial inquiry. The island’s resident magistrate and coroner, Australian expat Peter Law, considered the police statement “woefully inadequate” and began preparing a coronial inquiry.  Adeang in January, 2014, ordered Law’s arrest and deportation.  Law told the ABC that there were no crime scene photographs or witness statements. Local police investigating the death were “scared of Mr Adeang”, Law said, and unwilling to interview the powerful politician.

Nauru’s chief justice was another Australian expat, Geoffrey Eames QC. “I was proposing to fly to Nauru and the government simply told the airline company not to give me a ticket as my visa had been cancelled,” Mr Eames said, naming Adeang as the visa canceller. Eames then resigned his post, telling the media:  “The police obviously did not have the enthusiasm to conduct an inquiry. That’s a pretty alarming state of affairs.”

In June 2015, a Senate inquiry was told that, of the 50 cases of assault that have been referred to the Nauruan police by the Department of Immigration over the previous two-and-a-half years, only five charges have been laid. Only two convictions have been recorded.

The Panama papers revealed that Wilson Security, who runs the detention centres on Manus and Nauru, is owned by Hong Kong billionaire Raymond Kwok and his brother Thomas.

Thomas Kwok is in jail in Hong Kong, serving a five-year sentence for bribery handed down in December 2014 over his role in the former British colony’s biggest-ever corruption scandal.  Raymond Kwok was also charged but found not guilty.

Nauru charges Australia extortionate visa fees of $1000 a month per detainee.  That would be $6m collected this year and a higher amount in previous years. The business visas at $8000 a pop are another nice earner.

We spend about $1 billion a year on the detention centres to line the pockets of corrupt officials and businessmen who couldn’t care less about the well-being of the people they are being paid to protect.

Our politicians and police are fully aware of the corruption allegations yet they choose to believe what Adeang says regarding abuse in the detention camps rather than what countless inquiries have already revealed, and they have no qualms about enriching convicted and suspected criminals.

Why are the AFP impotent to act?  Why are we relying on a Nauruan police force who are intimidated by a man whose integrity is highly questionable?

If our government continues to knowingly neglect its duty of care then they must be considered complicit in this corruption and held accountable.

So the AFP finally decided to pay attention and find themselves a patsy.  Meanwhile, our government continues to enthusiastically line the pockets of the corrupt officials on Nauru.

Why is Melissa Price the Minister for the Environment?

First speeches in parliament can be revealing and so it was with the speech delivered by our new Minister for the Environment, Melissa Price, back in December 2013.

She began by congratulating Bronwyn Bishop for her elevation to the role of Speaker of the House, assuring us that Bishop’s “grace and good humour, will bring dignity and humility to this House.”  She also applauded Prime Minister Abbott’s decision to include Indigenous Affairs as part of his office, and wished Warren Mundine the very best in his role as the Chair of the Indigenous Advisory Council.

All of those people were dumped from their roles by her own party, casting some doubt on Ms Price’s judgement.

Price goes on tell us that she is “a girl from Kalgoorlie” who “left school at the age of 15” because she “did not think the nuns could teach me anything further.”

She later completed her education, “qualifying as a lawyer at the age of 31.”

As “a fourth generation goldfielder”, Ms Price said that times were tough growing up in the goldfields in the 1960s and 1970s due to the unpredictability of the gold price – a rather strange perspective considering she adds that “in those days people who worked on the mines worked regular hours, went home to their families at night and were able to contribute to the community more broadly.”

But Ms Price’s family had different priorities to those who worked the mines.

“My grandad David Dellar entered the Western Australian state parliament as a Labor politician in 1963. My uncle, Stan Dellar, also Labor, was elected to the parliament. My father also had aspirations of a political life but the opportunity did not present itself. He did work hard for the Labor Party and worked on many different campaigns.”

It seems Melissa belongs to yet another political dynasty, something common to an amazingly large number of Liberal politicians and those who aspire to become one.

“Mum and I both agree that if grandad Dellar were alive today he would probably be a Liberal. He was a hard worker, took good care of his own and was quite the entrepreneur with his various mining interests,” said Ms Price, perhaps explaining her interest in the price of gold.

She sounds like a girl after the PM’s own heart, stating that, when she was growing up, “my mother encouraged my siblings and me to ‘just have a go’.”  And no doubt, she’ll ‘get a go’ from a PM desperately in need of a female or two on the front bench who have not accused their colleagues of intimidating them.

Ms Price saw her “parents’ involvement in the Labor Party as really just a part of their social life—not as political activism.”  Will she bring that same attitude to her own ride on the gravy train?

Spruiking her credentials, Melissa said “I have some 30-odd years of combined commercial and legal experience. The member for Curtin and the member for Pearce and I are the three members of the Clayton Utz Perth alumni here in Canberra.”  How’s THAT for a coincidence.

Expanding on her work experience, Ms Price informed us that she has worked in the hospitality and insurance industries, the fast food industry, the grains industry and the mining industry, and was even once an aerobics instructor.  Working for Crosslands Resources, she “had the pleasure of travelling deep into the mid-west to assess possible mining acquisitions.”

Our new Minister for the Environment used her first speech to describe the abolition of the carbon tax as a “significant step forward”, and to emphasise the need to further reduce red tape and get rid of unnecessary taxes.

She spoke of “Labor’s knee-jerk ban on live animal exports”, saying “Whilst the opponents of this industry are focused on animal welfare, I am focused on human welfare.”

Whilst “reflecting on the positive impact that the resources industry has had”, perhaps predictably, Ms Price was vehemently opposed to the mining tax.

“Madam Speaker, you did not need a crystal ball to predict the failure of the mining tax. Although it raised, relatively, no revenue, it still hung over the mining industry like a bad smell. From a regulatory point of view, it put a drain on the industry, whilst also discouraging investment and making Australia internationally uncompetitive.”

How strange then that mining investment spending as a share of the economy rose to a multi-decade high in the year after the introduction of the mining tax in 2012 (which only affected iron ore and coal mining companies after their profits exceeded $75 million), and then fell precipitously after its repeal in 2014.  Investment spending in the mining sector rose from around 2 per cent of GDP in the early 2000s, where it had been for much of the previous five decades to peak at around 9 per cent of GDP in 2012/13.

In November last year, the RBA said “there has been a notable lack of exploration spending in recent years. This means there is not much prospect of any material increase in investment spending in the period ahead. As a result, our expectation is that investment spending in the resources sector will bottom out just above 2 per cent of GDP and stay at roughly that level for quite a while.”

It seems Price and her party were very wrong about what drives or hinders investment.

As she reeled off the long list of people she wished to thank for getting her elected, Price referred to a special group she called the ‘Durack Dream Team’, one of whom was David De Garis, the man who confessed to tipping off the media about the infamous AWU raid and who, after resigning from Michaelia Cash’s office, now works as the media and communications officer for the AHA in Perth.

Ms Price said she was looking forward to being “a part of the team that brings about the necessary cultural shift” in government but she wasn’t talking about female representation or bullying or workplace behaviour.

“Government needs to be smaller, and more efficient; government departments more accountable, and more productive—with their performances measured to ensure that Australians are getting good value for money.”

By any measure, that has been a huge failure of the increasingly secretive Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison regime.

Was Ms Price selected to be Environment Minister because she was the person best-suited for the job?  Or was she chosen because she is a malleable conservative female from WA who will never let facts get in the way of a good slogan?

Scott Morrison – authentic or a populist opportunist?

The image spin doctors have decided to run with the line that Scott Morrison is an authentic daggy dad from the suburbs.

Authentic is not an adjective I would ascribe to this populist opportunist.

And nothing shows that better than his abandonment of any action on emissions reduction and climate change.

“We’ll get there in a canter” is the phrase du jour despite all evidence pointing to the contrary.

The dinosaurs in the Coalition tell us we exceeded our first Kyoto commitment like that was some badge of honour.  What they don’t mention is that first commitment was to actually, unlike the rest of the industrialised world, increase our emissions.

Compared to the base year of 1990, Europe promised to reduce its emissions by 8% in the five-year “commitment period”, 2008-12. The United States agreed to cut emissions by 7%, and Japan and Canada by 6%. Australia dug its heels in and got its way; its Kyoto target would be 8% above 1990 levels.

We then insisted, in what became known as “the Australia clause”, that we be allowed to claim carbon emissions reductions from a supposed reduction in land clearing, using 1990 as a base because it was an extraordinarily high year for land clearing, mainly in Queensland.

With the inclusion of the Australia clause, the nation’s emissions from burning fossil fuels could rise by 25-30% while overall emissions would still come in at under 8% by claiming reductions in land clearing.

This is precisely what happened. From 1990 to 2012 Australia’s emissions from all sources except land-use change and forestry grew by 28%.

Moving on to our second Kyoto target – a 5% reduction on 2000 emissions level by 2020 – we are playing the same sort of games.

According to the National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, Australia’s annual emissions for the year to December 2017 were 2.4 per cent below emissions in 2000 with emissions increasing 1.5 per cent from the previous year, continuing a three-year trend of increases ever since the repeal of carbon pricing.

Then we move to our 2030 target – 26 to 28% below 2005 levels.  Why change base years?  Because 2005 was, once again, a particularly high year for emissions.  To highlight the difference it makes, where last year’s emissions were 2.4 per cent below emissions in 2000, they were 11.7 per cent below emissions in 2005.  Just by changing the base year, we make it sound like we are doing more than we are.

And will we “get there in a canter”, as our PM without a policy tells us?

According to the Department’s emissions projections 2017, “Total emissions in 2030 are projected to be 5 per cent below 2005 levels.”

“Emissions in 2030 are projected to grow by 3.5 per cent above 2020 levels. Most of the projected growth in emissions is in the transport sector, led by increased heavy vehicles activity for freight, and the agriculture sector, driven by increased stocking numbers.”

So spare me your slogans Scott. (Have you noticed he has started counting them off on his fingers just as Abbott used to do?)

Psychology Today gives the following description of inauthentic people:

Are self-deceptive and unrealistic in their perceptions of reality.

Look to others for approval and to feel valued.

Are judgemental of other people.

Do not think things through clearly.

Have a hostile sense of humor.

Are unable to express their emotions freely and clearly.

Are not open to learning from their mistakes.

Do not understand their motivations.

If behind what a person says and does is a defensive and self-deceptive approach to life, then no matter how passionate and committed they are to a cause, ultimately they are not being true to themselves.

Authenticity is ultimately about those qualities that show healthy non-defensive functioning and psychological maturity. Those are the qualities we need to look for.

I would suggest our search for an authentic leader is far from over.

Gutless wonders

Yesterday we were subjected to a disgusting abuse of parliamentary privilege by a man who feels his actions should be beyond scrutiny.

Peter Dutton, outraged at what he calls a “personal smear campaign” against him, stood up in parliament and had what could only be described as a hissy fit, launching a cowardly and very personal attack on witnesses providing evidence to a Senate committee.

He also carried with him, every time he stood up, two large folders very obviously labelled with the names Chris Bowen and Tony Burke – the implication being ‘come for me and I will go for you’.

Asked to explain the rationale behind granting some people visas whilst rejecting others, his role in securing jobs for mates, and a possible conflict of interest regarding his businesses, he went into head-kicking mode.

All of the questions asked of Mr Dutton related to his actions as a Minister and his eligibility to sit in parliament.  None of those are personal smears.  They are legitimate questions.

Unfortunately, our Minister for Home Affairs does not think he should be held accountable and views any questioning as a personal affront.  If he has done nothing untoward, why is he so angry?  Why does he feel the need to impugn others?

Then, despite allegations of intimidation from several Liberal MPs during the leadership spill, all of a sudden, we are told it never happened.  No-one was bullied.  No complaints have been made.  Move on.

Considering how the Coalition mercilessly pursued Emma Husar over bullying allegations, their insistence that eligibility issues of Labor MPs be tested in the High Court, and their hounding of Sam Dastyari re his connection to donors, it is apparent that the government believes they should operate under different rules to everyone else.

Bullying, workplace harassment, cronyism, misuse of office, conflicts of interest, will all be swept under the carpet.  No need for a federal corruption watchdog, Cormann assures us.

But if you cover up a cancer with make-up, it will continue to eat away at the body of the party.  Until people are held to account for their actions, the abuse will continue.  Until they are made to realise that they are answerable to us, not just to faceless backroom men or radio shock jocks, they will continue to lie, obfuscate, and use their position for the benefit of their mates.

These gutless wonders, and I include the women who are now apparently too afraid to tell the truth about the intimidation they were subjected to, are treating us with contempt.  While they refuse to be held accountable, they are not fit to govern.

A “new generation” or a bunch of old Christians and young fogies?

When Tony Abbott first put his hand up for the Liberal Party leadership back in 2007 (withdrawing before the ballot), Paul Keating called him the “young fogey” – an apt description of an anachronistic man whose personal beliefs are out of touch with those of the majority of Australians.

Scott Morrison assures us that he has installed a “new generation” of leaders but it is increasingly apparent that what we now have is a government full of young fogies.

While Australians overwhelmingly endorsed marriage equality in the very expensive non-binding voluntary survey thingy, when it came time for our politicians to vote, 25 Coalition MPs and Senators chose to ignore the will of the people by voting NO or abstaining.  These included Scott Morrison, Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan, Michaelia Cash, David Littleproud, Stuart Robert, Zed Selesja and David Fawcett, all of whom now hold positions in Morrison’s ministry, as well as ‘Special Envoys’, Abbott and Joyce.

Scott has quickly launched his attack on the values taught at state schools (despite having attended one himself), exhorted us to all to pray for rain, and to love each other.

Yet several others who refused to vote for marriage equality are those who are suspected to be among the infamous bulliers in the recent leadership spill – Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar and James McGrath for example.

The Christian lobbyists are sensing an ascendancy and lining up to make their demands, but does this “new generation” of leaders understand, let alone represent, the new generation of Australians?

In the 2016 census, 39% of young adults aged 18-34 reported no religion.  A further 12% reported a religion other than Christianity.  That is over half of our young adults who are not interested in some sort of Judeo-Christian version of the world they live in.

Debate about free speech has flared again – whether it is for religious people, angry about marriage equality and Safe Schools, who want to enshrine their right to shun, or white nationalists who demand a platform to attack minorities.

But views on this tend to be age-related too.

Forty percent of millennials in the US — where free speech is enshrined in its constitution — think the government should be able to prevent people from saying things that offend minority groups, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center. That drops to 27% among generation X respondents, 24% among baby boomers and just 12% for “silent generation Americans,” aged 73 to 90.

There is also a generational divide in major emitting countries over who should bear the greatest burden in curtailing greenhouse gases. Young Americans, Japanese, Indonesians and Australians (those aged 18 to 29) are significantly more likely than their elders (ages 50 and older) to assert that rich countries should do more than developing nations to address climate change.

Vote Compass revealed that young Australians also hold different views on offshore detention for asylum seekers and on immigration more broadly.

Young people are more opposed to boat turnbacks and offshore detention, and more supportive of an increase in Australia’s refugee intake.

“Young people overall tend to have a more cosmopolitan view of the world,” said Dr Aaron Martin, a lecturer in political science research methods at the University of Melbourne.  “That’s obviously a pretty sweeping statement but I think having travelled more, having lived in a more diverse country … that explains the age differences there.”

ABC election analyst Antony Green agreed.  “Young voters grew up in a more multi-ethnic society than older Australians,” he said.

Old white Christian males in our government, and the young fogies who lust after that exclusive power and privilege, are moving us away from science and back to the days of fear, intolerance and discrimination where faith trumps fact and “others” are viewed with suspicion..

One bonus is that the marriage equality plebiscite motivated many young people to enrol to vote.  In fact, in the couple of weeks after the voluntary survey was announced on August 8 last year, almost one million Australians had either enrolled for the first time or updated their details.

The next federal election will be the first chance for many of these voters to give an opinion on the man who stopped the boats and who denied abuse was happening in our detention centres, the man who refused to vote for marriage equality and who doesn’t want our kids to talk about respectful relationships or gender diversity, the man who brought a lump of coal into parliament and who scrapped any policy for emissions reduction, the man who wants us to pray to break the drought.

It’s time for our young to raise their voices and for we oldies to get behind them and elect a government who cares about the new generation of citizens rather than their ‘new generation’ of political hacks.


The corrosive decay caused by secrecy

One lesson we should all take from the Royal Commission into Insititutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse is the horrific ongoing damage caused by the veil of secrecy drawn by the Catholic Church, and others, over the crimes that were being perpetrated on innocent children in their care.  That enabled the abusers to continue.

That same veil of secrecy has been drawn by the government over the plight of people who came to us seeking asylum.  Instead of offering sanctuary, we incarcerated them indefinitely causing irreparable damage to children and their families once again.

The corrupt Nauruan government are protecting their biggest money earner by ignoring Australian court orders for medical evacuations and by cancelling the visas of anyone who speaks out about the shocking deterioration of the health of detainees in the squalid, hopeless conditions they are forced to endure.  People under our care are dying yet our government washes its hands of any responsibility.

Just as our new PM washes his hands of any responsibility to address the bullying, intimidation, harassment and threats meted out to his own colleagues during the boys’ power play.  According to our own baseball-cap-wearing supposedly Christian leader, the curtain has been drawn on that.  If the bullies are to wear the consequences of their actions, it will be up to women who are strong enough to sacrifice their careers to expose them – I truly hope they name names.

Despite the obvious atrocious behaviour by our ex-deputy PM, despite an official complaint of sexual harassment and an investigation which found the complainant was “forthright, believable, open” and “genuinely upset” by the incident, the Nationals Party was unable to make a determination.  Yet again, “the report will be kept confidential”.  Barnaby has not been cleared, but the signal sent is don’t mess with our mate.

The secrecy surrounding government actions has seen them gift money and positions to organisations and individuals with no due process.  There are a multitude of phrases they use to justify this lack of transparency, “commercial in confidence” or “national security” being two of their faves.

Just as they resisted a Royal Commission into the banks, the government remains steadfastly against a federal corruption watchdog.  Real time reporting of donations is too hard, as is publishing their diaries so we could see what they are actually doing to earn their enormous salaries, not to mention who they are meeting with and what influence they may be exerting (and whether that flight, comcar and accommodation charge was actually work-related).

We pay a fortune to consultants to produce reports advising the government yet the government can withhold the information if they so choose.  The phrase they use there is that it is “a report to government, not by government”, completely ignoring the fact that the public paid for it.

Other organisations who receive funding – be they a charity, union, educational institution, NFP etc – must be open to intense scrutiny.  They must have policies and procedures in place to protect staff and clients, transparent complaint handing procedures, and be accountable for every cent they spend.

Whilst ever our government chooses what they will tell us and what they won’t, the appalling behaviour from our politicians won’t change.

Tell us the truth and let us be the judge.  You have no right to withhold information that allows us to make informed judgements.  You have no right to hide what you are doing with our money or to use it to reward those who may be useful to you.  You have no right to manipulate public sentiment with lies.  That is what bullies do.  And you reward that behaviour and empower them by your silence.

Transparent and accountable is what you promised.

You lied.


Scott “had a go”

Pretending he is leading a united team, Scott Morrison handed out flag badges to remind his colleagues whose side they are on.

It didn’t work.

Inevitably, the recriminations continue as speculation grows that Scott had been planning on “having a go” for some time.

Despite not having anonymous sources to brief me or drop leaks in my inbox, it seems pretty damn obvious.

Exhibit A – When Turnbull appeared in the courtyard flanked by Cormann and Morrison, Scott, unlike everyone else, was grinning like a Cheshire cat.  Peter Dutton’s tortuous attempt at smiling didn’t come close to Scott’s beaming visage as he told us how ambitious he was for “this guy” and hugged the man he was about to stab in the back.

Exhibit B – The lies about numbers and support.  Forty-eight people voted for Malcolm first go around.  Whilst some argue that he caught people off-guard by calling a spill, they cannot possibly say that they didn’t know it was in the wind.  Cormann, Cash and Fifield lied about the majority favouring a spill.  That was not the case until they jumped ship.

Exhibit C – The confusion.  Fierravanti-Wells claims “well-known powerbrokers here in the Liberal Party in NSW” have been plotting Scott’s ascension for some time.  Bishop blames the “Queensland influence.”  Others point to the treachery of the WA vote abandoning Julie who seemed the most popular and experienced successor.

Exhibit D – The dust had barely settled but Morrison had a cabinet all picked out and ready to announce immediately.  With only a few months to an election, Scott threw the cards in the air, sacrificing any hope of continuity. Amongst the bruised and battered countenances of his colleagues, Josh Frydenberg’s shit-eating grin was completely incongruous.

Exhibit E – He dropped the company tax cut for big business in his first announcement, something he and Matthias would not allow Malcolm to do before the Longman by-election.

Exhibit F – The paying off of troublemakers and the elevation of people who were demoted for wrongdoing.  The Special Envoy sinecures tossed to Abbott and Joyce are embarrassing in their hamfisted obviousness.  The promotion of Ley back into the Cabinet is perhaps explainable but the promotion of Stuart Robert is nothing but blatant payback to a man who has so many clouds hanging over him he makes Sam Dastyari look like a saint.

Exhibit G – The recent roles of the two men who are now in charge mean they know the facts about how to reduce energy prices yet they publicly back coal.  The AEMO’s report, based on extensive modelling of different scenarios, concluded that “The lowest cost replacement for this retiring capacity and energy will be a portfolio of resources, including solar (28 gigawatts), wind (10.5 GW) and storage (17 GW and 90 GWh), complemented by 500 megawatts of flexible gas plant and transmission investment.” New coal power didn’t rate a mention.  These two happily sacrificed the NEG rather than prosecute the policy they developed and industry wanted.

Exhibit H – With flag badges in hand, Scott assured us he is “on our side” which kind of implies they haven’t been up till now?  He even had his new slogan ready – “if you have a go, you’ll get a go.”  It sure worked for him anyway.


Want to see what inspirational leadership looks like?

At times, the fight to make this world a better place can seem overwhelming.  One of the most dispiriting aspects is that the struggle is mostly against our politicians, the very people we entrusted with the duty to act in our best interests.

They value everything in dollars.  Their morality must be ours.  Their suspicions and intolerance are projected onto us.  They listen to well-connected people rather than well-informed people.  Wealth accumulation is their only motivation.

One could be forgiven for despairing, for doing what so many have done, giving up on politics altogether, unable to take any more of the lies, corruption, nastiness and greed.

But out in the real world, truly inspirational people are making a difference.

One such man is Father Rod Bower who works tirelessly to remind us all to be kind to each other.

Watch his interview on 7:30 report.  It is good for the soul.  After spending so much time listening to politicians, it actually made me cry with relief.

He also makes me laugh through the tears with his clever wit.

“Apparently we won’t always have Paris”

Thanks Father Rod for all you do.  You truly make it a kinder more compassionate world.  And you help keep the bastards honest!  (Can you say that to a priest?)

This gentle, caring man is what a real leader looks like.


No Scott, we can’t just heal and move on

If anyone still held out any hope that our current government could lead this country in the right direction, that has been well and truly smashed.

Scott Morrison seems to think that giving all of his MPs a flag badge will somehow make them all focus on us (strategically pointing at camera as I say that).

He thinks that mentioning his football team every time he is interviewed will make us all relax and forget what has gone on.

He says that bullying would not have occurred under his leadership.  Well, gee, here I was thinking that he held a leadership role as Treasurer, but obviously he wasn’t strong enough, or didn’t care enough, to stop the intimidation.

Helen Kroger, former Liberal senator and the current chair of the party’s women’s committee (and former wife of Liberal power broker Michael Kroger), said she does “not believe there is a culture of bullying and intimidation in the Liberal party.”

Oh, ok then.  But did it ever occur to Ms Kroger that bullies pick on people who don’t have her connections?  People who may not enjoy the security she obviously feels?

Outgoing workplace relations minister Craig Laundy has spoken about the tactics used by the bullies that Ms Kroger doesn’t think exist.

“Being a third generation western Sydney publican, you come at me and I’ll come back,” Mr Laundy told as he revealed he had personally heard complaints by female colleagues and believes some were made to the Prime Minister’s office.

“There were complaints made to the PMO and I’ve had complaints made to me.”

Mr Laundy also gave the shock jocks a serve they rightly deserved.

“I’ve had Jones, Hadley, Bolt, Peta Credlin … insert name of right-wing commentator here … give me free character assessments basically for the past five years,” he said.

“And the last election campaign I think is the best example of what influence they actually have, if you are a shrewd marginal seat operator.  It was an eight-week campaign where particularly Alan Jones would offer free character assessments that weren’t too complimentary on a daily basis.  And when the state of NSW had a 5.1 per cent swing against (the Liberals) I had a 1.6 per cent to me.”

He said the broadcasters encouraged voters to contact him, with Mr Hadley publishing his official email address.

“I couldn’t thank him enough for that because what it does is it takes those fired-up people — a lot of times based on misinformation and that commentator’s personal opinion and a real personal dislike of me or Malcolm Turnbull — it makes that listener come to me,” Mr Laundy said.  “I’ll ring them. I’ve done it thousands of times. And I read my own emails and reply, usually pretty quickly. And it shocks the living crap out of them,” he said.

I can personally confirm this.  I emailed Mr Laundy asking him to back up claims he had made about convictions arising from the trade union royal commission.  He responded with the details I had requested.  And he was right – it shocked the living crap out of me to get a factual response, no obfuscation, from a Coalition MP.

There have been several Liberal party members suggesting that politics is no place for “snowflakes”, intimating that if you can’t cop intimidation then you aren’t up to the game.

Sadly, these people seem to think that being able to endure bullying is more important than being able to formulate, understand, and advocate for sensible policy direction.  (Looking at you Craig Kelly for starters)

Political pundits will tell you that it has ever been thus.

Does that mean we should allow it to continue?

In recent times, much has been written about the lack of leadership in Australia.  But that is like asking the coxswain to win the race on their own.

Until the crew starts pulling together, we will never get anywhere.

How the Australian people have been bullied by our politicians

Gaslighting is a tactic in which a person or entity, in order to gain more power, makes a victim question their reality. It works much better than you may think. Anyone is susceptible to gaslighting, and it is a common technique of abusers, dictators, narcissists, and cult leaders. It is done slowly, so the victim doesn’t realize how much they’ve been brainwashed. (Psychology Today)

People who gaslight typically use the following techniques:

  1. They tell blatant lies.

You know it’s an outright lie. Yet they are telling you this lie with a straight face. Why are they so blatant? Because they’re setting up a precedent. Once they tell you a huge lie, you’re not sure if anything they say is true. Keeping you unsteady and off-kilter is the goal.

  1. They deny they ever said something, even though you have proof.

You know they said they would do something; you know you heard it. But they out and out deny it. It makes you start questioning your reality—maybe they never said that thing. And the more they do this, the more you question your reality and start accepting theirs.

  1. They use what is near and dear to you as ammunition.

They know how important your kids are to you, and they know how important your identity is to you. So those may be one of the first things they attack. If you have kids, they tell you that you should not have had those children. They will tell you’d be a worthy person if only you didn’t have a long list of negative traits. They attack the foundation of your being.

  1. They wear you down over time.

This is one of the insidious things about gaslighting—it is done gradually, over time. A lie here, a lie there, a snide comment every so often…and then it starts ramping up. Even the brightest, most self-aware people can be sucked into gaslighting—it is that effective. It’s the “frog in the frying pan” analogy: The heat is turned up slowly, so the frog never realizes what’s happening to it.

  1. Their actions do not match their words.

When dealing with a person or entity that gaslights, look at what they are doing rather than what they are saying. What they are saying means nothing; it is just talk. What they are doing is the issue.

  1. They throw in positive reinforcement to confuse you.

This person or entity that is cutting you down, telling you that you don’t have value, is now praising you for something you did. This adds an additional sense of uneasiness. You think, “Well maybe they aren’t so bad.” Yes, they are. This is a calculated attempt to keep you off-kilter—and again, to question your reality. Also look at what you were praised for; it is probably something that served the gaslighter.

  1. They know confusion weakens people.

Gaslighters know that people like having a sense of stability and normalcy. Their goal is to uproot this and make you constantly question everything. And humans’ natural tendency is to look to the person or entity that will help you feel more stable—and that happens to be the gaslighter.

  1. They project.

They are a drug user or a cheater, yet they are constantly accusing you of that. This is done so often that you start trying to defend yourself, and are distracted from the gaslighter’s own behavior.

  1. They try to align people against you.

Gaslighters are masters at manipulating and finding the people they know will stand by them no matter what—and they use these people against you. They will make comments such as, “This person knows that you’re not right,” or “This person knows you’re useless too.” Keep in mind it does not mean that these people actually said these things. A gaslighter is a constant liar. When the gaslighter uses this tactic it makes you feel like you don’t know who to trust or turn to—and that leads you right back to the gaslighter. And that’s exactly what they want: Isolation gives them more control.

  1. They tell you or others that you are crazy.

This is one of the most effective tools of the gaslighter, because it’s dismissive. The gaslighter knows if they question your sanity, people will not believe you when you tell them the gaslighter is abusive or out-of-control. It’s a master technique.

  1. They tell you everyone else is a liar.

By telling you that everyone else (your family, the media) is a liar, it again makes you question your reality. You’ve never known someone with the audacity to do this, so they must be telling the truth, right? No. It’s a manipulation technique. It makes people turn to the gaslighter for the “correct” information—which isn’t correct information at all.

The more you are aware of these techniques, the quicker you can identify them and avoid falling into the gaslighter’s trap.

Remember that as you listen to our politicians.

Meet our new Minister for the Environment

For most Australians, our new Minister for the Environment, WA MP Melissa Price, will be a total unknown.

She was elected in 2013 to represent the electorate of Durack, the largest single member electorate in the world.  Price became Assistant Minister for the Environment in December 2017 and has now been elevated to the top job.

Prior to entering parliament, Ms Price was a lawyer, working as general counsel for CBH Group and Crosslands Resources Ltd.

Crosslands Resources is owned by the Mitsubishi Corporation.  It owns the Jack Hills iron ore mine and the Jack Hills Expansion Project, located 380 kilometres north-east of Geraldton.

The CBH Group (an acronym for Co-operative Bulk Handling), is a grain growers’ cooperative that handles, markets and processes grain from the wheatbelt of Western Australia.

In 2016 the Australian Taxation Office revealed that despite generating more than $3.4 billion in revenue in 2013/14, the company paid no tax. This made it Australia’s biggest revenue earner not to pay tax in the period under review.

Ms Price appears to be a climate change denier, just what we don’t need in the Environment portfolio, particularly in combination with the Energy Minister, Angus Taylor, who notably also happens to be a climate change denialist.

In November 2015, she spoke in parliament to “set the record straight and to smash yet another one of the myths started by the increasingly irrelevant Labor Party.”

Whether you believe so-called climate change is due to human behaviour, planetary motion, ocean currents or solar variability et cetera, to me, is not the point.  The world is rejecting carbon taxes and embracing direct action style approaches involving practical actions to reduce emissions.

Like most of their other portfolios, the Labor Party do not have a plan to tackle climate change. They just whinge or do nothing new in particular. They make a big song and dance about the government’s plan, yet they do not have a policy on the area themselves or none that they care to commit that might be new. In the last five years, the Labor Party have had five—that is right, five—different policies, while we on this side of the chamber have had one strong, consistent and effective policy.

While in government together last term, Labor and the Greens presided over a series of waste, mismanagement and bungles. Who could forget the carbon tax? It was their big idea for dealing with climate change. This tax did little to improve the environment, but it put a huge impost on the price of energy in this country. It had the greatest impact on the most vulnerable members of our community, whom those opposite say they represent. What a joke? Of course, the biggest flaw is that the carbon tax was a local tax. If global warming is the problem it was trying to solve then, by definition, we require a ‘global solution’. That is why Australia must join with the international community to determine how to achieve a long-term global reduction in CO2, emissions.

While we are talking about those opposite, who could forget the Home Insulation Program, which was linked to deaths of four people, 224 home fires and 70,000 repairs.

It is worth repeating, because it was Australia’s greatest embarrassment. There were the bungled green loans. Three independent reports found extensive mismanagement. Let’s not forget the citizens assembly. What a fabulous initiative! It was a 2010 election promise to assemble 15 citizens to discuss ways to tackle climate change, which was dumped just weeks after the election. What a shameful waste!

Mr Deputy Speaker, as you can see, clearly the government has made significant inroads in addressing climate and change, and improving our environment. Our current policies are working. We will meet our 2020 and 2030 targets. As we have heard today, the Department of the Environment has released a formal emissions update on our 2020 target, which shows that we are on track to beat out 2020 target by a whopping 28 million tonnes. That is what I call good government.”

Will we citizens have to storm parliament to get these fools to listen to the scientists and address the existential threat posed by climate change?

Or we could just vote the flat earthers out.


Rewarding poor behaviour is not going to get us good policy

It seems obvious to say that, if you ignore, or worse still, reward bad behaviour, you set yourself up for future problems.  Parents know that.  Teachers know that.  Employers know that.  Sporting coaches know that.

But apparently, our politicians do not.

A whole bunch of people in the Liberal Party spent last week lying to each other.  These are people who are supposedly on the same team.  And our new PM has chosen to reward them.

Tony Abbott and Barnaby Joyce now “deserve the respect due to former leaders” and have both been offered sinecures.  Barnaby’s job seems to be to wander round outback pubs and farms, chatting and drinking with the locals.  Tony’s is a tad more problematic because Indigenous people definitely do NOT want him being the voice to parliament that they asked for.

Arguably the most treacherous player, Matthias Cormann, retains his position as he does a media blitz denying his despicable behaviour which is on the record for all to see.

Peter Dutton, who must now realise that he was a dupe being lied to as well, also retains his position and, whilst immigration has been taken from him, he still maintains power over asylum seekers.

Morrison is going to have to come up with some policies.

His first act was to appease the Nats which he has done by appointing a kazillion people with “drought” in their title and heading off for his first photo shoot.

But he has been lashed by former president of the National Farmers’ Federation, Brent Finlay, who insists that any policy about drought must include action on climate change as they are “interlinked”.

“Instead of jumping in front of the cameras when a drought is on, we need them to do the grunt work on effective financial measures that allow our farmers to build up cash reserves in the good times to draw upon when the dry comes again.

The climate is changing, you can see it in the eyes of farmers who dismissed it as rubbish eight years ago. By recognising climate change, it is empowering resources to support agriculture.

It’s not going to make me popular to say it but unfortunately current drought assistance measures reward our less efficient farming operators at the expense of those families who’ve been better prepared for drought.

You’ve only got to look at our current weather patterns to know that climate change is real and we should expect more extreme weather including more droughts in the future.”

Scott’s next priority is to lower power prices but he is under even more intense pressure than Malcolm was from those who think building new coal-fired power stations will achieve that.

It was April when Morrison “smacked down a backbench push for the Turnbull government to back a new coal plant, arguing that high-efficiency coal does not mean cheap energy, and taxpayers would also be left on the hook.”

He has just appointed an energy minister who spoke at Alan Jones’ rally against wind farms and who has described climate science as a religion based on faith rather than facts.

The facts show that renewable energy will bring down power prices but that doesn’t seem to be where we are headed which is more regulation, possible nationalisation, and government subsidies to prop up a dying, polluting industry.  They used to talk about the sovereign risk of blocking the Adani coal mine, yet now they are talking about compulsorily stripping assets from companies, assets we sold them only a few years ago.

The other focus for Scott is immigration but this too is a minefield.

He has pushed the line that we must unite together, I suppose to forestall any playing of the race card, but there are many in his party who do want it to be about race and religion, or “composition” as they say to try to disguise their bigotry and white supremacist tendencies.

Tony Abbott, when addressing the Sydney Institute in February, called for immigration levels to be cut from 190,000 people a year to 110,000.

Morrison responded by saying “Mr Abbott’s plan would cost the budget $4bn-$5bn over four years, and result in a lower proportion of skilled migrants.”

Addressing the National Press Club a few months ago, Peter Dutton backed that view.

“Essentially our two-thirds, one-third mix of skills to non-skills within the visa program has continued as it did in the Howard days because there is economic benefit, as well as a social dividend. My judgment is we’ve got the settings right.  There’s an economic benefit to bringing people in who are skilled, who will work and pay taxes and contribute to society.  It’s not just a social dividend. There’s a significant economic dividend.”

So are they both going to backtrack on those views to say Tony and Pauline had it right all along?  Are we going to hear more about the “composition”?  It would appear as a shameful populist capitulation rather than a considered stance on what is in the best interests of the nation.

If early indications mean anything, we will not see any sensible policy come from Morrison’s government, but there is a going to be a whole lot of populism, pork-barrelling, and rewarding of bad behaviour as he uses his few months as PM to appease all the wrong people.

He’s just a pig

Prior to last week’s political implosion, Labor MP Emma Husar was under such intense pressure about claims of workplace harassment that she folded, saying she would leave politics altogether.

Yet, from what we hear, the bullying that went on during Dutton’s failed coup makes any allegations against Husar pale into insignificance.

Channel 7 political editor Mark Riley said Peter Dutton’s camp was using “thuggish” behaviour to lift its numbers on Wednesday night.

“I saw two female Liberal MPs in tears along the corridors,” Mr Riley wrote in The West.

“I wrongly assumed they were lamenting the imminent assassination of yet another prime minister. It wasn’t until I spoke with them on Thursday that I understood what had really happened.

“They’d been sobbing in shock and disgust at the threats and intimidation they’d been subjected to by the goons and knuckledraggers trying to gather the signatures on Dutton’s behalf.

“One of them purports to be a conservative family man of traditional Christian values. To those women now, he is just a pig.”

Dumped Minister for Small and Family Business, Craig Laundy, also spoke of the intimidation used by Dutton’s camp in an interview with 2GB.

“Some of the behaviour this week… I’ve had one female senator and two female members of the house, when it came to the letter – the petition, that were physically stood over to sign it, and they refused.  That sort of intimidation and bullying is something you can actually file a claim against.”

Former Liberal MP Fiona Scott said on Sky News that Liberal MPs had their preselections threatened unless they switched to the Dutton camp.

“I’ve had a couple of people having their preselections challenged against them. In relation to comments even [Queensland Liberal MP] Gary Hargrave made not too long ago, where he’s saying well if Peter Dutton doesn’t get up, the civil war will continue, we will just keep marching through, that’s not uniting the party.”

West Australian senator Linda Reynolds also spoke out.

“Some of the behaviour is behaviour that I simply do not recognise and I think has no place in my party or in this chamber, so whatever happens over the next 24 hours, I cannot condone or support what has happened to some of my colleagues on this side in this chamber in this place,” she told the Senate.

“I think the tragedy of what has been happening, I think the madness of what has taken hold of a number of my colleagues. I do not recognise the values. I do not recognise the bullying and intimidation that has gone on and I hope that whatever happens tomorrow after midday that we can find a way to get back together again.”

This is not a discussion about whether a staffer should be asked to walk the dog.  This is substantiated very nasty workplace bullying and intimidation.

Yet from what I can gather, our new PM thinks we will all just move on in sweetness and light with the “new generation” of the Liberal Party which will have the architect of the bullying sitting there practising his new smile in his old position on the front bench.

To Malcolm Turnbull

To Malcolm Turnbull….

I have written a great deal of criticism about your government over the years – mainly yearning for the Malcolm we all thought we were getting when we collectively breathed a sigh of relief when you took over in 2015.

You said you never give in to bullies but you did.  And they did what empowered bullies do.

As it turns out, your greatest achievements were saving us from Tony Abbott and then Peter Dutton and for that I will be forever grateful.

Don’t dwell on why this happened or what you could have done differently.  Don’t think about the injustice because it will only harm you, not them.  They didn’t win.  Enjoy that and then forget them.  They are paltry people.

Enjoy your family.  Relax and heal.

And then I expect you to get out there with John Hewson as an activist for all those things you know are important.

Go in peace Malcolm, you deserve some.

Scroll Up