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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.”

Politicians aren’t experts – they should listen to people who are

Politicians love to tell us how hard they work.  The hours are horrendous.  The toll on the family is unbearable.  Oh, the pressure.

Bollocks.

These people do not have to have any qualifications.  They haven’t had to spend years studying, incurring a huge debt, to get the job.  They don’t have to reskill in their middle age.

They don’t have to have any experience or expertise at anything, though fund-raising is seen as a plus on your CV.  They haven’t had to start at the bottom and devote years of hard work to working their way up.

They don’t have to actually do anything – like build a house, or deliver a baby, or fix a car, or tend to the elderly, or fight fires.  They never have to .meet a deadline or stick to a contract.

Hell, they don’t even have to turn up to work if they don’t want to.

As for the toll on the family, the House of Representatives will sit for an onerous 45 days in 2019.  Should they miss their partner for the, at most, four days they are gone, the family can join the politician wherever they happen to be at public expense.

Perhaps if they made Parliament House an alcohol-free zone, there might be less “strain” on marital relationships.

It can be argued that local members must then have community engagement back in their electorates, except that seems to have degenerated into pics on twitter and facebook saying “Here I am at….”.

Fortuitously, they always seem to be with people grateful for their presence.  From personal experience, they move on pretty quickly if you have a concern you want to discuss, and block you from their facebook page if you ask questions or post inconvenient evidence (I’m looking at you Lucy Wicks).

Apart from PR, the actual job of this bunch of people with no expertise whatsoever is to be advised by the best experts in the land as to what our challenges are, how best to prioritise resource use to address them, what regulations must be put into place to protect the best interests of the people and the environment, and how best can we contribute to global efforts.

We invest a lot of money into education, training and research, and into expert inquiries, we employ thousands of public servants in departments whose job it is to advise government, only for politicians to ignore their findings and recommendations.

We have problems.  We have experts who know how to fix them.  We just need politicians who care more about what they say than what Alan Jones and Ray Hadley say.

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Government idiocy costing us billions

With a headline like that, I could go on to discuss innumerable things, but today I want to focus on the “save the ute” campaign.

In the lead up to the last election, Labor announced strategies to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

“Labor will set a national electric vehicles target of 50% new car sales by 2030, and 50% for the government fleet by 2025, as well as allowing business to deduct a 20% depreciation for private fleet EVs valued at more than $20,000… Bill Shorten will also flag a new pollution regulation on car retailers “in line with” 105g CO2/km for light vehicles, which is consistent with American emissions standards, but will consult on coverage and the timeline to phase in the change rather than impose it immediately.”

Cue an outraged Michaelia Cash who, with neck cords strained, swore to an audience of bored apprentices in her gratingly nasal “Kath and Kim” way, that she would “stand by our tradies to save their utes”.

Perhaps someone should have briefed Michaelia about the Coalition’s latest glossy brochure released a month or two earlier, the Climate Solutions Package, where they claim that “An electric vehicles strategy is expected to reduce emissions by up to 10 million tonnes by 2030”.

Not that they actually have a strategy.  The one paragraph devoted to it says:

The strategy will build on grants from ARENA, finance from CEFC, and the work of the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council to coordinate action across governments, industry and community in both urban and regional areas. This work will include consultation on whether mandating an electric vehicle plug type could improve the consistency of public charging.

As David Crowe points out in the SMH, there are many reasons why the government should want to encourage electric cars.

They reduce oil imports and improve the nation’s trade balance. They reduce demand for petrol and therefore ease Australia’s relative shortage of reserves at domestic refineries. They deliver a strategic benefit by using domestic rather than imported energy.

In percentage terms, the transport sector has experienced the largest growth in emissions, increasing 64.9 per cent (39.8 Mt CO2 -e) between 1990 and the year to March 2019, currently accounting for 18.8 per cent of Australia’s national inventory of GHG.

There is the obvious benefit of emissions reductions if the electricity is produced by renewable sources, which will boost employment in both the renewable energy sector and in building the charging infrastructure to service electric vehicles.

Even without the transition to electric vehicles, there are many things the government could be doing but are not, like introducing fuel efficiency standards that many other nations have already adopted.

According to The Conversation, “If Australia had introduced internationally harmonised emissions legislation three years ago, households could have made savings on fuel costs to the tune of A$1 billion.”

Available evidence suggests Australian motorists are paying on average almost 30% more for fuel than they should because of the lack of fuel efficiency standards.

The Australian government is not progressing any measures to introduce a fuel efficiency target. In fact, it recently labelled Labor’s proposed fuel efficiency standard as a “car tax”.

Australia could increasingly become a dumping ground for the world’s least efficient vehicles with sub-par emissions performance, given our lack of fuel efficiency standards. This leaves us on a dangerous path towards not only higher vehicle emissions, but also higher fuel costs for passenger travel and freight.

It would be cynical of me to suggest that the government is reluctant to give up the revenue they get from fuel excise, but what other explanation can there be for their strident opposition and negligent inaction?

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MYEFO will be interesting

The latest Monthly Financial Statement from the government raises some questions regarding their claim/aim to be in surplus and their assertion that they are “paying down Labor’s debt.”

The underlying cash balance for the financial year to 30 September 2019 was a deficit of $13,853 million ie in the first quarter of this financial year, we have spent almost $14 billion more than we have received.

And there are implications for the upcoming MYEFO as budget predictions are falling short.

The net operating balance for the year to 30 September 2019 was a deficit of $15,209 million, which is $2,681 million higher than the 2019-20 Budget profile deficit of $12,528 million. The difference results from lower than expected revenue and higher expenses.

The fiscal balance for the year to 30 September 2019 was a deficit of $14,650 million, which is $928 million higher than the 2019-20 Budget profile deficit of $13,721 million. The difference results from lower than expected revenue, higher expenses and lower net capital investment.

There have also been downgrades for expected wages and GDP growth.

When it comes to debt, as at 30 September 2019, net debt was $401,749 million.

I tried to access historical monthly debt figures to check what the net debt was when the Coalition won office in September 2013, only to find the site has recently been changed and, for some unknown reason, the entire 2013-14 financial year no longer appears.

From memory, net debt was about $161 billion at the end of August 2013, so any suggestion that the Coalition have paid down debt is absolute rubbish.  They have increased it by about 250% during a time of global economic recovery.

Whilst the government doggedly stick to their determination to produce a surplus this year, calls for them to increase spending are becoming louder.

We need our own firefighting aircraft.  We need to bring forward infrastructure spending.  We need to increase Newstart.  We need to build affordable public housing, reduce hospital waiting times, and properly resource our public schools.  We need to fix the mess the Nationals have made of water management.  We need to decarbonise our economy.  We need rehab centres and emergency accommodation, particularly in regional areas.

What we don’t need is to waste hundreds of billions on obsolete weapons of mass destruction, billions on consultants and government advertising, and politicians who think attending sporting matches is more important than their day job.

We don’t need a surplus.  We need someone who has a clue about how to invest in this country rather than their own political future.

 

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What will the fires do to our greenhouse gas emissions?

Australia has relied very heavily on the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector to pretend we are even going close to making some headway in decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, the latest greenhouse gas emissions data claims that LULUCF emissions have decreased by 110.5 per cent since 1990 and, just this year, accounted “for a net sink equivalent to 3.5 per cent of Australia’s national inventory” in the year to March 2019.

We started claiming net reductions from the LULUCF sector in the September quarter of 2014.

The latest State of the Forests report states that “The net increase in forest area over the period 2011 to 2016 was 3.9 million hectares.”

That sounds good except we just lost over 1 million hectares in a few days and, from what I can gather, that won’t be considered.

The Focus on Land Sector Estimates fact sheet states that “These estimates of forest change attempt to abstract from temporary factors affecting area of forest cover including from fire and cyclical climatic effects.”

What does that mean?

Are we assuming that everything that has died from drought and fires will all come back quickly and so we just pretend they are still providing a net sink?  Do we not count the emissions from the burning of over 1 million hectares of forest and grassland?

From the outset, Australia has been manipulative and dishonest.  We insisted that we be allowed to include LULUCF data and deliberately chose base years with very high land clearing rates (1990 and 2005).   We insisted we be allowed to increase emissions and then, when we didn’t increase them as much as we had insisted we must, we are now wanting to subtract the difference between how bad we could have been and how bad we were, from how bad we are now.

We then embarked on the ridiculous Emissions Reduction Fund where we pay farmers who say they won’t clear a bit of land if we pay them not to.  Or we pay them to replant trees which then die in the drought – or the floods or the cyclones or the fires. But the government claims the reductions anyway, not caring if they are actually delivered or if anyone was ever going to clear that land in the first place.

Yet, in the ultimate irony, it is we people who have fought to preserve some areas of native bush and to have unique areas declared national parks who are being blamed for the devastation ripping across NSW and Queensland.

Here’s a tip for Craig Kelly, Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan, Michael McCormack, Angus Taylor and the other fuckwits sitting on the Treasury benches – it’s CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSED BY GLOBAL WARMING you morons and your obsession with fossil fuels is what is causing it.

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Stick to the photos, boys – it’s yer best thing

Last month, Scott Morrison addressed the Lowy Institute, declaring his government will lead the charge in asserting the authority of ­nation states over unelected ­international ­institutions.

“We should avoid any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community. And worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy,” Mr Morrison said.

“Only a national government, especially one accountable through the ballot box and the rule of law, can define its national interests. We can never answer to a higher authority than the people of Australia.”

He warned about a new order that sought to “elevate ­global institutions above the authority of nation states to direct ­national policies”.

“Under my leadership, Australia’s international engagement will be squarely driven by Australia’s national interests.  To paraphrase former prime minister John Howard, as Australians, ‘we will decide our interests and the circumstances in which we seek to pursue them’.”

The not so subtle subtext was ‘you can’t tell us what to do on refugees, human rights, climate change, and all that other sustainability crap’.

Moving right along to today, and the deputy leader of the Liberal party, the grinning Treasurer, is giving a speech at the Australian National University where he will call for the reinvigoration of the World Trade Organisation and for the International Monetary Fund to change its governance structure to reflect the larger role of emerging economies, particularly those in Asia.

“Given Australia’s strong strategic, political and economic ties with key partners both near and abroad, we are well placed as a nation to play an active and constructive role,” he will say.

“We need to reclaim that spirit as we pursue multilateral and plurilateral arrangements that embed the concept of openness in their rules and norms and support a broader rules based order.”

Like the Paris Agreement?

Like the Refugee Convention?

Like a Human Rights Charter?

Like letting witnesses testify in the International Court of Justice?

To paraphrase John Howard, ‘we will decide which rules we will follow and the circumstances in which we will tell you anything’.

If we say we are smashing our emissions reductions targets, then we are, and any figures from our departments saying otherwise haven’t spun the per capita and GDP lines hard enough.  All we need to do is issue a shitload more temporary visas and our per capita emissions will go down even further with no effort.  That’s what I call efficient.

These guys really should stop giving speeches.  Stick to the photos boys – it’s yer best thing.

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Taylor fiddles as the country burns

The only thing that qualifies Angus Taylor to be in charge of the most important portfolio in the government is his overweening self-belief that he is the smartest guy in the room.

Who needs expert advice or evidence?  Certainly not Angus.

As bushfires ravage a drought-stricken country, as rivers dry up and reefs bleach, as species become extinct due to habitat loss – Angus applauds himself for overseeing rising greenhouse gas emissions.

We must have more coal says Angus, in total contrast to every person who has a clue.

When Taylor first entered parliament, he fought to have the renewable energy target scrapped altogether and was successful in having it slashed by a third.  He was instrumental in the sinking of Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Clean Energy Target and the National Energy Guarantee, both of which would have provided the policy certainty needed for private investment to go ahead.

Instead, Angus wants the government to give money to coal and gas-fired power with some pumped hydro also getting the nod.  Solar, wind, batteries, transmission grids, demand management – pattooey!

Addressing the AFR Energy Summit in Sydney last month, Angus said we have too much renewable energy.

He wants policies supporting the uptake of renewable energy to be “scaled down and phased out”, and said that energy sector investment must focus on securing greater reliability of supply, adding that “the extraordinary distortions we have seen need to be addressed.”

Ima guessing he wasn’t talking about fossil fuel subsidies.  Or his new you beaut UNGI slush fund where he will use public money to underwrite his pet projects.

The Minister for reducing greenhouse gas emissions has called for a rapid increase in natural gas production and for the lifting of gas exploration moratoria, despite the fact that our already huge increase in LNG production for export is what is causing our emissions to continue rising.

According to Angus, the only solution to high energy prices and perceived reliability challenges is to keep baseload power stations open.

Which is completely at odds with what the chair of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, said at the same summit.

“What we actually need in the market is energy that is both firm and flexible,” Schott said. “The thing about coal plants, because they have to run all the time, is that they are not flexible at ramping up or ramping down.  They are dinosaurs in that sense for being complementary with renewable energy.”

Schott said it was clear that solar, wind and battery storage are emerging as the cheapest source of new electricity generation capacity and flexible supply, and propping up an ageing coal fleet is not a long term solution to Australia’s energy troubles.

“We’ve got a grid at the moment that’s not fit for purpose. The reason why it is not fit for purpose is that it was developed decades ago to take power from large coal generators to the cities and those coal-fired generators are in the Latrobe Valley and the Hunter,” Schott said.

“Renewables are not in the Latrobe Valley and the Hunter, they happen to be in rural areas, and we need to change the grid to so we can get from that new generation source to the cities. What we’ve got at the moment is a long skinny string into town and Australia is well known for having one of the largest geographic grids in the world.”

Meanwhile, coal baron and LNP donor, Trevor St Baker’s proposed upgrade of the Vales Point coal power station in NSW, gets the nod on the short list of things we will pay for.

Scott Morrison has also handed over millions, supposedly for a feasibility study into a new coal-fired power plant for Queensland but in reality, it was just to shut up the Nats and Craig Kelly.

There is absolutely no question that the problems our energy market is facing, coupled with our rising emissions, have been caused by the decisions of governments, and whilst they continue to prioritise propping up their donors, we will continue to suffer from their greed and incompetence with dire consequences.

 

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“Insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes” – my review of the Labor review

In 2012, anti-corruption watchdog Tony Fitzgerald published an article titled The body politic is rotten. It is a must read from the man who exposed police corruption in Queensland and led to the end of the dictatorial reign of Joh.

One paragraph of it I found particularly relevant to my opinion of the Labor review into why it lost the 2019 election:

insiders see problems with insiders’ eyes, recognise only some of the problems and few of the causes and suggest insiders’ solutions with voters as mere bystanders. The usual, and sometimes intended, outcome is a flurry of superficial activity, appointment of a suitable group of other insiders to report, lengthy discussion of their report, considerable navel-gazing, a feel-good pronouncement and business as usual.

Then I read a comment by AIMN author George Theodoridis which resonated with me far more than anything I read in Labor’s review.

the people were waiting for some Whitlamesque inspiration, like Medibank for example, like free education, like less militarism, like less obsequy to the Americans, like the closing down of the offshore torture tents, like some statement against the savagery of zionism, like a decent policy on reduction and or elimination of the mountains of pollution that is suffocating the planet. That’s what was in their minds when the campaigns began. Instead, they heard mealy mouthed waffle about a thousand and one things none of which had much to do with them. Some house keeping chores would be done but the huge lumps of dung in the middle of the lounge room, the kitchen the bedrooms were not even mentioned.

It is often said that facts are hard to get across to a disengaged public, that elections are won on emotion.

If you want to talk about stirring emotions, those of us around for the time of Whitlam know what that truly feels like.

He made us feel proud of ourselves, not of our alliance to anyone else.  We stood up as Australians with an ancient history and unique culture.  We would engage with the world as equals, not vassals.

Universal health and education were, not only our right, but an investment in our future.

Labor’s review says they were unable to react/innovate to respond to twists and turns in the campaign.

We want inspiration, not political manoeuvering.

If anyone asks how you are going to pay for something we need to do, like raise Newstart (for pity’s sake, just do it), answer that, if we can afford to spend $20 billion a year on new weapons of mass destruction, we can afford to look after our most vulnerable citizens and assist them to be contributing members of our society.  Put emotion/empathy in your answer – not tables of figures.

Simply point out the actual dollar return of investments in health and education.  Stress the rapidly rising economic cost of inaction on climate change.

Get real about jobs and stop pretending they will come from new coal mines.  Have each local member/candidate draw up a list of sustainable job options for their area and what assistance they think might grow employment in their electorate.  Instead of issuing talking points for media appearances, have your members do some work in their electorates and report back.

Policy should be informed by what experts and stakeholders say rather than in response to what focus groups or shock jocks say.  I may be biased in this, but I think teachers would be able to better advise you on how to simplify your policy objective into a message that is understandable to the public (that is our job) than young marketing/advertising gurus offering image advice and competing slogans.  It’s not about selling it – it’s about simplifying it and making it relevant.

Polls mean nothing as shown by the last election.  Stop worrying about who is friggin’ leader and just do the job.  Personally, I would rather see some courage and conviction than ‘adaptability’ and some sort of Survivor leadership blame game.

But I think George hit the nail on the head – fear and hate is exhausting, we crave inspiration.

 

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“I called the Royal Commission”

Scott Morrison seems to feel the fact that a Four Corners investigation forced him to call a Royal Commission into Aged Care cancels out how it has been the Coalition’s own actions and inactions that have caused this crisis.

In May, I wrote an article about How John Howard contributed to the aged care crisis.

It is a horror story of how the Howard government paved the way for profiteering and neglect – nursing home operators no longer had to allocate a set proportion of government subsidies to patient care, links between the level of funding received and the number of qualified staff employed were removed, the previous requirement for a registered nurse to be on duty was scrapped, and no spot checks were carried out.

In May 2018, Bill Shorten said that the aged care industry was “in a state of national crisis”.

“That’s extreme language, but this situation in aged care calls for extreme,” Mr Shorten said, arguing the government has been “asleep at the wheel” for the last five years.

Aged Care Minister, Ken Wyatt, responded angrily.

“I’m slow to anger but I must admit that recently the Opposition Leader commenting that the system is in crisis and a national disgrace was not becoming of what I would expect in a bilateral and bipartisan approach to aged care.

“This demeans every one of those dedicated aged care workers and it achieves nothing but instilling fear into the hearts and minds of older Australians, just like Labor did in the lead-up to the last election when they were peddling ‘Medi-scare’ lies designed to scare the most deserving.

“For the Opposition Leader to continue this fear-mongering is verging on the abuse of elder Australians and it must stop.”

Mr Wyatt argued that the Turnbull government cared more about older Australians than Labor given their proposal to remove the cash refund arrangement on excess dividend imputation credits.

Seriously.

A couple of days before the Four Corners investigation, Who Cares, was to air, Scott Morrison rushed to announce a Royal Commission into Aged Care.  This was a government turnaround directly in anticipation of the damning ABC expose.

When interviewed for the program about a month earlier, Wyatt had said a royal commission would be an unnecessary move because the Government was already reviewing the sector.

“A royal commission, after two years and maybe $200 million being spent on it, will come back with the same set or a very similar set of recommendations,” he said, preferring to see that money go towards frontline aged care services.

Emails revealed at the RC show a flurry of activity in response to programs on the ABC whilst reports from the department on how to address the problems languished on the Minister’s desk.

Protecting his precious surplus, Morrison is willing to let people die while waiting for help.

Not only that, he wants kudos for calling yet another inquiry into a crisis of his party’s making in its never-ending pursuit of profit and deregulation

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Why is it so?

If you are as old as me, you might recall Julius Sumner Miller’s program Why is it so?  It was both fascinating and terrifying as we saw him confront quaking school students with scientific problems and ask them for an explanation.

Imagine if he did the same with politicians.

Why would mentioning boat turnbacks be forbidden because they “send a message to people smugglers” whereas braying about “foiled terrorist plots” and televising police raids is ok?

Why do Labor see the benefit of bringing government, unions and business together but point-blank refuse to work with the Greens on policy formation?

Why is a surplus more important than fixing our aged care system and lifting people on Newstart out of poverty?

Why are we claiming to have “smashed” our Kyoto target of reducing emissions to 5% below 2000 levels when they are now 0.5% above 2000 levels?

Why is it legal to sack people for not being religious but not ok to sack religious people for proselytising or discriminating in inclusive workplaces?

Why are so many government contracts awarded without a tender process and with any details obscured by phrases like “commercial-in-confidence” or “national security”?

Why do Australian government schools receive the third-lowest funding in the OECD, with only Turkey and Colombia doing worse?

Why is the government pursuing deregulation and privatisation when we have seen the shocking results of that in the banking, aged care, and energy sectors?

Why do we sack public servants and then spend billions on consultants?

Why does the government use public funds for political ads?

Why are we allowing big agribusinesses to harvest water and then paying them a fortune for the rights to buy it back from them?

Why are we condoning rampant land-clearing when it is having such a devastating effect through erosion, sediment run-off, changing rainfall patterns and increasing emissions?

Why do politicians fly all over the country to have their photo taken with a shovel?

Why are we so obsequious to the madman who currently occupies the White House?

Why are politicians paid huge allowances to sleep in their investment properties?

Why were women criticised as double-dippers if their workplace also offered them paid maternity leave when ex-politicians can receive a pension whilst still working in highly paid government quangos and sinecures?

Why does the government rail against subsidies for renewable energy (or the vehicle manufacturing industry) yet fiercely protect fossil fuel subsidies?

Why are the police investigating and prosecuting whistleblowers but not the crimes and corruption they expose?

Why are Peter Dutton and Angus Taylor still ministers after overwhelming evidence of their incompetence and shady dealings?

Why do we pursue a paternalistic approach that has entrenched Indigenous disadvantage rather than seeking advice from them on how to close the gap?

Why are over 3 million people, including 17.3% of children, living in poverty and over 116,000 people remain homeless in such a wealthy nation that has experienced uninterrupted growth for almost three decades?

Why are young disabled people put in aged care facilities?

Why did we underspend the NDIS budget by $4.6 billion when people are crying out for help?

Why are there 120,000 older Australians waiting almost two years to receive Home Care Packages?

Why are genuine refugees still incarcerated on Manus and Nauru?

This list could go on forever.

Why is it so?

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The more you tell me to shut up, the louder I am going to get

So this is what we have sunk to – a Prime Minister who wants us all to be quiet and, if we don’t, he’ll make us.

He doesn’t want us to talk about his government’s woeful record on greenhouse gas emissions.  He doesn’t want us to talk about reefs dying and rivers drying up and mass extinctions.  He doesn’t want us to choose ethical investments in sustainable industries.

He wants to bully insurance companies into insuring unviable projects and he wants banks to lend money to uncommercial ventures.  He wants to make our superannuation funds invest in what will inevitably become stranded assets.

The idea that one would get their investment advice from the likes of mummy’s boy Matt Canavan is hilarious.

But when our PM directly threatens us with retaliation if we speak out, it stops being funny.

Morrison vowed to outlaw the “indulgent and selfish” practices of environmental groups who campaign against Australian businesses that work with companies and industries they are opposed to, such as coal.

Oh yeah?  How?  You can’t tell us what to invest in or buy.  You can’t stop us from sharing information about the business practices of different companies.  You can’t stop companies from legitimately pursuing ethical and sustainable practice as a commercial advantage.

It is not “radical activism” to be concerned about our deteriorating environment.  We are fighting for our survival.

You are not the Messiah, Scott.  You are just a very inadequate ad man who elbowed his way to the front over the fallen bodies of your colleagues in the roller derby of Australian politics.

And if you think you can shut us up, you are sadly mistaken.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

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No penalty for lying

With the frenetic pace of reporting nowadays, yesterday’s news is quickly forgotten.  The sheer volume of information overwhelms us with the result that the government can quickly move attention away from anything they do not want scrutinised.

For example…

When Reza Barati was murdered on Manus Island by the staff we employed to care for the asylum seekers we had incarcerated there, Scott Morrison told us that it was the refugees’ fault for leaving the centre and going on a violent rampage.  That was proven false.

Reza was killed inside the centre and the subsequent review commissioned by the government found that Reza was “a very gentle man” who was not involved in the unrest.  Two Australian guards allegedly involved in the murder were immediately brought home and have never faced charges.

When Scott Morrison’s ridiculous allegation that Save the Children staff on Nauru were encouraging children to self-harm was proven false, he refused to apologise despite the government having to pay compensation to the staff he wrongly accused and removed.

When there was a shooting incident on Manus, Peter Dutton said it occurred after local people witnessed asylum seekers leading a five-year-old boy towards the centre suggesting they were luring him away to sexually assault him.  This was, once again, completely wrong.

The shooting came from drunken sailors in an argument over a soccer field.  A couple of weeks earlier, asylum seekers had given a ten year old child food after he asked for some.  The incidents were entirely unrelated and misrepresented by Dutton.

Barnaby Joyce would have us believe that the woman he got pregnant was not his partner when he secured jobs for her in other MPs’ offices.  The spike in the number of non-sitting nights he spent in Canberra were ‘work-related’ according to Barnaby.  In response to multiple allegations of sexual harassment from other women, Barnaby basically said ‘prove it’.

Michaelia Cash still contends that her referral to the ROC of a ten year old donation by the AWU was not political and that she had nothing to do with tipping off the media about AFP raids.  Uh huh…

And then we have Angus Taylor, the man who congratulates himself on facebook forgetting to change accounts first.  Angus is racking up a lot of very questionable dealings where the truth seems to get lost in his bluster.

There was his involvement in an $80 million water buyback scheme/scam, his meetings with the Environment Minister to ‘raise concerns from farmers in his electorate’ about endangered grasslands (producing a letter that was written months after the meeting), and now his unbelievable attack on Clover Moore using a fraudulent document.

The death taxes campaign at the last election was the government at its manipulative, dishonest worst.

In some cases, such as Craig Kelly, the disinformation is due to stupidity but that didn’t stop the PM from interceding to make sure this dill was preselected against the wishes of the local Liberals and awarding him, of all people, the job of chairing the environment committee.  Kelly is so full of crap that he has been banned from appearing on the ABC but he is given open slather on Sky After Dark to spin his bullshit.

Time and again, government MPs get away with telling blatant untruths with no adverse consequences – for them at least.

The consequence for the rest of us is the undermining of trust in the institutions that govern our country and a tawdry decline into a political world where winning is all that counts and transparency and accountability are to be avoided at any cost.

When there is no penalty for lying, we get leaders like Donald Trump and his Billy Bunter groupie, ScoMo, who think having their photo taken with thumbs up saying “how good are we” substitutes for competence, honesty and integrity.

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Indoctrination blinds and binds us

In my role as an executor for a deceased estate, I was recently asked to swear on the bible (I took the option to ‘affirm’ instead) and it struck me how silly that all is.

Our politicians swear an oath before they take their seat in parliament.

I, ___, do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law. SO HELP ME GOD!

They are given an option to do an affirmation instead.

I, ___, do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law.

The Parliament of Australia website offers some advice about the use of the bible.

“The oath of allegiance need not necessarily be made on the authorised version of the Bible, although this has been the common practice. A Member may recite the oath while holding another form of Christian holy book, or, in respect of a non–Christian faith, a book or work of such a nature. The essential requirement is that every Member taking an oath should take it in a manner which affects his or her conscience regardless of whether a holy book is used or not.”

My question is why the hell are we swearing allegiance to a tourist attraction in the UK and what the hell the bible has to do with it.

Archaic obeisance and indoctrination are no way to run an independent social democracy.

We must liberate ourselves from the rituals of monarchy and church and become a nation who puts the well-being of its citizens first and foremost.

It is not only in religion and homage to the queen that we see the perils of indoctrination.  Adherence to economic doctrine also has a stultifying effect on the ability to judge and react to changing circumstances.

Coalition governments will always say that taxes must be reduced.  They think if the rich pay less towards the upkeep of the society that provides the environment that created their wealth, this will translate to benefit for all.

The only way to uphold that belief is to ignore all evidence of current economic reality and adhere to the belief that lower taxes are, in themselves, a good thing regardless.

There is a renewed push by the business lobbyists who control the government to reduce company tax rates because Donald Trump did.

Aside from the fact that thinking anything Trump does is worth copying, the evidence shows that our lack of coherent policy is a much greater deterrent to investment than our tax rate.

Clinton Fernandes, Professor of International and Political Studies at UNSW, analysed the ownership of Australia’s 20 biggest companies a few days after the 2019 federal election in May. Of those 20, 15 were majority-owned by US-based investors. Three more were at least 25% US-owned.

…all four of our big banks are majority-owned by American investors. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia, the nation’s biggest company, is more than 60% owned by American-based investors.

So too are Woolworths and Rio Tinto. BHP, once known as “the Big Australian”, is 73% owned by American-based investors.

With all the concessions available to companies in Australia, our tax rate is pretty irrelevant.

Indoctrination, whether it is religious, monarchist, or economic, has no place in government which must be able to react to the changing needs of our society and a rapidly moving global context.

Praying for solutions or going to state dinners or having your photo taken being an Alfie Langer water boy is not what governing is about.

Indoctrination confers a certainty that rejects calls for transparency and accountability, rejects questioning, resists change.

We can’t afford that any more.

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Police? Political? Nevah!

If the police want the public to believe that they are not a political tool, they should stop acting like one.

In 2012, the OECD Anti-bribery taskforce politely pointed out that the AFP were basically doing fuck-all about some very serious allegations of foreign bribery.

“Out of 28 foreign bribery referrals that have been received by the Australian Federal Police (AFP), 21 have been concluded without charges. The Working Group thus recommends that the AFP take sufficient steps to ensure that foreign bribery allegations are not prematurely closed, and be more proactive in gathering information from diverse sources at the pre-investigative stage.” (See Annex 4 for specifics)

Among many areas identified for improvement, the working group stressed that “Protection of whistleblowers in the public and private sectors need to be strengthened.”

But hey, the AFP were very busy in 2012 investigating allegations by whistleblower James Ashby about Peter Slipper’s misuse of cab charges.  Despite Slipper being exonerated of the heinous charge of using $900 to visit a winery – which he offered to repay but wasn’t allowed because the AFP were already ‘investigating’ – his career and personal life were destroyed.

Investigations by the AFP into the illegal copying and distribution of Mr Slipper’s diary to the media were dropped.

See – they do protect whistleblowers.

Then we have the AFP raids on the media to see how they found out about alleged war crimes by Australian troops in Afghanistan and about a proposal to widen surveillance laws on Australian citizens.

But the investigation into who leaked classified national security advice about border protection during the medevac legislation debate was dropped “due to the limited prospects of identifying a suspect”.

This pattern was also followed during the investigation into who tipped off the media that the AFP were raiding AWU headquarters about a ten-year-old donation with links to Bill Shorten.

Despite Michaelia Cash’s media adviser admitting that he told journalists before the raid, no charges were pursued.

“The AFP can confirm the CDPP has advised they will not be proceeding with a prosecution as there are no reasonable prospects of conviction.  The AFP considers this investigation finalised.”

Even though it was Cash who referred the allegations of possible misconduct to the Registered Organisations Commission, who then conducted what a judge has ruled was an “invalid” investigation because the rules state that if after four years an alleged contravention of union rules had not been acted upon, it was “deemed to have been in compliance” with the rules, and even though it was her office that tipped off the media – the union’s claim that the raid was politically motivated was dismissed.

In October last year, AFP officers raided the Department of Home Affairs in Canberra as part of an investigation into “destabilising leaks against Peter Dutton over his ministerial interventions to save a number of foreign au pairs from deportation.”  Seriously, is this a productive use of their time?

We saw how the NSW police handled Craig Thomson.

It will be interesting to see how they now deal with the apparently forged document quoted by Angus Taylor to attack Clover Moore.

What would be even more interesting is if they actually punished people committing real crimes like in the Securency/One Note foreign bribery case where a few fall guys got a suspended sentence.  I’m still not sure if I am even allowed to talk about that.

Police forces often complain about a lack of resources.  I think employing someone who can prioritise what’s important would be a really good start.

If you want respect, show you deserve it.

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The Coalition money shuffle

One of Joe Hockey’s first acts as Treasurer in 2013 was to gift the RBA $8.8 billion.  The main reason for this was to make Labor’s deficit look bigger.  As a side bonus, it allowed the RBA to invest in the forex market, banking on the Australian dollar losing value as the mining boom subsided.

And that is exactly what happened allowing the government to draw…wait for it…$8.8 billion in dividends over the last six years.  That’s all very well (if we ignore how the Coalition screamed like stuck pigs when Labor took a one-off dividend of $500 million in 2013) except Hockey borrowed the $8.8 billion so we are still paying interest on it.

We have also paid a fortune in “fees for banking services” as investment banks have raked in hundreds of millions in trading fees.

Had Hockey not engaged in this political chicanery, we would be billions of dollars better off.

And then there are the six Future Funds which contained $198.8 billion as at June 30 this year.

The direct cost of managing these funds was over $1 billion for the last three years alone.

The DisabilityCare Australia Fund had $16.4 billion sitting in it, which must be aggravating to the many people still waiting to access services or those who have had their services reduced.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land and Sea Future Fund (ATSILS Fund) was established in February 2019 with a capital contribution of $2 billion transferred from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Land Account.

The purpose of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, to whom the fund will make payments apparently at the discretion of the Minister if the investment mandate targets have been met, is to acquire and manage land, water and water-related rights so as to attain economic, environmental, social or cultural benefits.  One wonders how much will actually be handed over for that purpose now that Peter Costello has his hands on it.  I am sure the mining companies would prefer that money to be tied up rather than used.

In July, the government deposited another $7.8 billion into the Medical Research Future Fund.  As we were still in deficit, this was a pretty amazing feat which must have come at the cost of other research cuts and/or interest costs for the borrowed money.  It’s interesting how they can find a lazy $8 billion when they want to.

The Education Investment Fund, originally intended for new facilities in the higher education sector, had payments frozen in 2013 and it has been accumulating funds since.  These have now been taken to create the government’s new $4 billion Emergency Response Fund.

Then, on 1 September 2019, the assets of the Building Australia Fund were transferred to the newly created Future Drought Fund.

The original Future Fund was established in 2006, funded in part from budget surpluses but mainly from the sale of Telstra.  As at June 30, there was $162.6 billion sitting in it.

Kevin Rudd, as Opposition leader, suggested using $2.7 billion of it to invest in a National Broadband Network with profits being returned to the Future Fund.  The Howard government screamed blue murder, claiming that Labor intended to “raid” the Future Fund for their own means.  Gee, that has worked out well for us hasn’t it.

While legislation permits drawdowns from the Future Fund from 1 July 2020, the Government announced in the 2017-18 budget that it will refrain from making withdrawals until at least 2026-27.

What on earth is the point of sitting on that pile of money when only 20% of it is invested in Australia?

The ten year return has been 10.4% for the Future Fund which might sound good until you look at Infrastructure Australia’s High Priority Project list where every project has a cost benefit ratio of better than that.

We could be employing people in productivity enhancing infrastructure construction. We could be increasing primary healthcare and reducing hospital waiting times to save money and improve quality of life.  We could be investing in research and education, both of which bring a far greater return than 10%.

But the Coalition are obsessed with accumulating cash and apparently have zero understanding of the value of actually using the money for the benefit of our economy and our citizens.

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Instead of excluding homosexuals, the church should exclude homophobes

Glenn Davies, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney and Synod president, has told homosexual people that they should abandon the church.

“My own view is that if people wish to change the doctrine of our church, they should start a new church or join a church more aligned to their views – but do not ruin the Anglican Church by abandoning the plain teaching of Scripture. Please leave us.

“We have far too much work to do in evangelising Australia to be distracted by the constant pressure to change our doctrine in order to satisfy the lusts and pleasures of the world.”

Change our doctrine?  Here’s some “plain teaching of Scripture” for you Glenn.

James 4:11-12

“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbour?”

Romans 14:1-13

“As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions. One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him. Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

Titus 3:2-7

“To speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people. For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, …”

Colossians 3:12-15

“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.”

Matthew 25:41-46

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me. They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’  Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

In speaking about homosexuals, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

Davies and his ilk, by passing judgement and seeking to exclude people, are the ones who are going against the doctrine of the church.  Perhaps the homophobes might like to form their own church because they sure as hell do not represent the teachings of Christ.

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