Of Eugenicists, Oligarchs and Psychopaths (part 6)

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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.”

Trust Linda Reynolds? Sure can’t

Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds was one of the first to speak up about the bullying that occurred during Scott Morrison’s rise to the top job.

“I just hope … whatever happens tomorrow that the behaviours that we have seen and the bullying and intimidation that I do not recognise as Liberal in any shape, way or form be brought to account.”

However, she quickly changed her tune when offered a minister’s role.  Despite it being her who raised it in the Senate, she then said it was not the appropriate forum to air the issue and accused Labor of making “cheap political capital” out of an important issue which she had subsequently decided should be addressed behind closed doors….or not at all.  No-one was “brought to account” but hey, Linda got a promotion so all’s well.

We then had the humiliating debacle – well for anyone with a conscience – of Linda’s 16 second complete backflip on wage restraint.

“Do you agree with the sentiment that flexibility in wages, and keeping wages at a relatively modest level, is a deliberate feature of our economic architecture to actually drive jobs growth?” David Speers asked on Sky News.

“No I don’t. No, absolutely not. And for Bill Shorten to even suggest that, I think, shows a fundamental lack of understanding about economics,” she said.

“Well I’m actually quoting Mathias Cormann, the finance minister, here. Your colleague. He says that wage flexibility is ‘a deliberate feature of our economic architecture’,” Speers said.

“He’s absolutely right,” Ms Reynolds replied.

Moving on to her brand spanking new portfolio of defence, three months ago, Reynolds said that, despite the Defence Honours and Awards Tribunal recommending that World War II hero Teddy Sheean be awarded a Victoria Cross, she did not feel it was appropriate.

“The 2019 review by the tribunal did not present any new evidence that might support reconsideration of the valour inquiries recommendation,” she said.  “That is also my view and the view of defence.  It is a very difficult decision, but I believe in the circumstance, the right decision.”

Then two days ago, Reynolds posted this on her facebook page:

“The announcement by the Prime Minister that Teddy Sheean has been recommended for a Victoria Cross for Australia is recognition of extraordinary and selfless acts of valour by a young Australian in defence of his country and his mates. Lest we forget.”

Oh Linda, we don’t forget.

So when Ms Reynolds takes time out from her sucking up to Donald Trump to issue a media release about Dan Andrews rejecting ADF help in Victoria’s fight against COVID 19, which was quickly refuted with facts from the actual person involved in Victoria’s emergency response, it is blindingly obvious that this woman is solely focused on petty party politics and will say whatever she thinks her bosses want to hear.  She has a laser-like focus on where her bread is buttered.

Heaven help us if she is the best person we can find for the job of co-ordinating the defence of this country.

Linda Reynolds, you are the epitome of a political hack.

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Risk avoidance vs disaster response – how the Coalition creates crises

Whether we are talking about climate change, bushfire management, poverty, inequality, employment, health, education, Indigenous disadvantage, or the myriad other responsibilities of government, the Coalition will always put profit in front of risk avoidance.

Nowhere is this more tragically playing out than in the crisis we are witnessing in the aged care sector.

In the 1996-97 budget, the Howard government slashed $1 billion from aged care funding and introduced its Aged Care Act, claiming that higher fees and bonds would provide the incentive for investors to expand and improve the industry. Instead, conditions in nursing homes deteriorated and average waiting time lengthened significantly.

Under the Act, 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. In 1998 the previous requirement for a registered nurse to be on duty was scrapped.

Homes and hostels were to be licensed for three years, with standards monitored through spot checks. Yet no such checks were ever conducted, Bishop admitted. According to Tim Burns, the general manager of the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency, its ability to carry out monitoring was severely compromised due to insufficient funding. He stated during Senate estimates hearings that the agency was 60 to 65 external assessors short in New South Wales and Victoria alone.

The Aged Care Act specified that audit reviews of nursing homes be made public on a regular basis. However, in late 1999, a list rating nursing homes was removed from the Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency’s web site in order “not to put undue pressure on homes, which may be rapidly moving to improve their situations”.

The government’s changes made the industry a more lucrative target for corporate takeovers. Under the headline, “Golden Oldies,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported on 2 March 2000 that “Nursing homes are big business, with handsome profits, for some”. American-based corporations were “moving into Australia to capitalise on a growth industry protected by an assured flow of government funds”.

Managing director Kevin Moss said: “Once you are in the business you have a guaranteed government income. It’s a very good business. It’s been a cottage industry in Australia … and some have milked the cow. But we are trying to get it more corporatised and professional.”

Having been given cash to spend as they saw fit for the previous three years, business operators were free to exit the industry before January 1, 2001, the next accreditation deadline, without having invested a cent in improvements, and then sell their bed licenses for up to $35,000 each, the going price on the Sydney market at that time.

The doctors’ organisation, the Australian Medical Association, and the nurses’ union, the Australian Nursing Federation, warned that between 600 and 2,500 beds would close on January 1 in the state of Victoria alone, intensifying the crisis.

In 2000, Regina Lohr and Mike Head ended their article about the aged care crisis with a chilling warning.

“Like every other aspect of life, aged care has become an increasingly two-class system. High quality homes with modern facilities, strict medical and hygiene standards, fresh and nourishing food and tranquil surroundings exist—but they are reserved for the wealthy who can afford fees in the order of $900 a week and entry bonds around $250,000. For lower middle class and working class retirees, the conditions have become Dickensian.

Increasingly stripped of all protective and regulatory remnants of the post-war welfare state, the unleashing of the “free market” is producing conditions where the majority of elderly people are treated as so much unwanted refuse. Medical science has significantly increased life expectancy, but, under the imperatives of the profit system, those who suffer the misfortune of being poor are simply being disposed of as cheaply and quickly as possible.”

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.

Former 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.

As we watch the pandemic devastate our aged care facilities, Scott Morrison now has the hide to stand up and remind us that he called the Royal Commission into Aged Care.  It’s a pity it took the spectre of an imminent Four Corners expose, Who Cares, to make him do it.  The program was to air on September 17, 2018.  #ScottyFromMarketing, in a preemptive move to cover his arse, called the RC on September 15.

When interviewed by the ABC 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.

That’s their MO.  If the media make a fuss, commission a report and then ignore it whilst focusing on how to minimise regulations and workers’ entitlements whilst maximising profit for investors.

We can thank the ABC for dragging the government kicking and screaming to conduct various different commissions and inquiries.  Sadly, they cannot make them act on their recommendations and, instead, face prosecution for truthfully revealing the nefarious dealings of those who purport to govern in the best interests of the nation.

We are witnessing what their deregulation and erosion of job security and ignoring of expert warnings deliver.  Rather than learn any lessons during this pandemic, our Treasurer invokes Thatcher and Reagan who hugely increased inequality and diminished workers’ rights and protections.  Persistently high rates of income or wealth inequality are bad for social cohesion, political inclusion and crime. The evidence for this is overwhelming.

As Bobby Kennedy so wisely said:

“the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile.”

That is something that those fixated solely on profit and the seemingly infinite growth of GDP will never understand.

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Rachel Maddow on the daily madness

Let’s hear it for the ‘leader’ of the free world.

And just to recap…

It’s exhausting but we must keep speaking out until we get leaders who care more about people and the planet we inhabit than they do about their own ambition.

As Jason Wilson wrote some months ago, “Australia’s right is simply incapable of adopting a critical stance on US conservatism. They are under its tutelage.”

How bad does Trump have to get before we stand up?

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Booty call

One of my close friends was a flight attendant.  I was staying at her place when, late one night, a high-profile sports celebrity rang to say he was in town overnight and would send over a taxi to pick her up.

The classic booty call.

And this is exactly how our government behaves and expects us to be grateful.

You have a crippling drought?  They fly in, have their photo taken, offer you a gift which may or may not eventuate, and then head off into the sunset.

Same with bushfires.  Ignore you, then turn up wanting a cuddle, before they move on to their next photo opportunity.

Unemployed?  They call you all sorts of names – bludgers, leaners, rorters – and then all of a sudden they double your payment, cancel your debts, and pretend they care…but don’t get used to it.

And what of the promises made to Indigenous Australians?  Recognition?  Well hold your horses, we can’t agree on the wording of how to recognise you.  A Voice?  Well that’s tricky too.  Self-determination?  You are not ready for that.  Here, let me take your income and tell you where you must shop and what you must buy because that will teach you to be more responsible.  And don’t you worry your pretty little heads about that Closing the Gap stuff – that’s white man’s business.

What about community groups?  If there is an election coming up and the government has a chance of winning your seat, then expect a novelty cheque.  For those who put countless hours into their grant submissions explaining the community need and business case, silly you.  You got all dressed up for nothing when you obviously didn’t understand what the government finds attractive.  You know you are a favourite when you are given limited tender contracts or huge grants you didn’t apply for.

Anything to do with the environment – whether it’s global heating, reefs dying, rivers drying up, rampant land-clearing, air pollution from transport, water contamination from mining, waste management, or even the extinction of species – will only get the most cursory nod.  Not even enough to pretend interest.  A text occasionally maybe.

Whilst the government is flirting with workers at the moment – schoolkids and casual gym staff on $1500 a fortnight all of a sudden, a couple of union women allowed to be at the table with the overwhelming might of employer and industry groups, free childcare (for a bit), and dumping their kazillionth piece of union-busting legislation that was never going to succeed in the Senate anyway – don’t start asking for gifts like the promised increases in the superannuation guarantee, a share of profits through wage rises, security and safety in the workplace, equal pay for women, the restoration of penalty rates, or anything else that might be on your “wish list”.

Every day we hear the government announcing they are giving a diamond bracelet here, a sports car there, maybe even a trip on the private jet.

As for a long term plan … nada.  A lot of talk, a lot of deflection, a lot of excuses and buck-passing, lies and time-wasting.  A lot of self-indulgence and going out with the mates.  A lot of promises but no commitment.

This government doesn’t want to marry us.  They just want to use us for short term gratification.

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Known problems

Spokesmodel Christian Porter has been all over the airwaves announcing the government’s latest…ummm…announcement, which is that they want everyone else to sort out the “known problems” in industrial relations and to do so, they will form not one, not two, but five new “working groups” to come up with recommendations to add to the kazillion other ignored recommendations from countless previous reviews and inquiries and reports.

Unlike during the Accord, the government is not offering anything.  In fact, they are, in advance, very much limiting what the “known problems” up for discussion are.

We won’t be discussing the minimum wage or the superannuation guarantee.  We won’t be discussing the level of Newstart or the cutting of penalty rates.  And we most definitely will not be considering sustainability in the “Jobmaker” discussion.

The task that ScottyFromMarketing has given the face of the latest advertising campaign is to, in Porter’s own words, “have a product come out of every working group.”

“…the product may in some instances be legislative, it may be budgetary, it may be a policy product, but whatever product there is, the purpose of the working groups is to try and garner as much agreement around that product as possible.”

And just in case you didn’t get the message of what these committees will do, Porter repeated the latest slogan over and over during his interview with Leigh Sales.

“They’re designed to deal with specific known problems in the system”

“There are known problems inside the system”

“What we’re concerned about is known problems”

“What we do have here is a known set of problems”

“why would we not try and limit ourselves to solving known problems”

The trouble with this approach is that the government gets to decide which problems to ignore.

Slogans like “technology not taxation” are not action.  They are not even a plan for action.  And they aren’t even true.

Spokesmodel Angus Taylor, whilst spouting his three-word script, is also pushing to spend taxation dollars propping up an expansion of fossil fuels.  Even the very expensive Snowy 2.0 is to be powered by fossil fuels.  The hydrogen industry will be powered by fossil fuels.  The gas industry will be ramped despite that being the major source of rising emissions in this country.

At some stage today, the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources are obliged to publish the December quarter emissions figures.  Bushfire emissions will not be included but reductions due to the drought will be.  Not that we should be “setting our hair on fire about climate change and all the rest of it” as whatsisname, the Deputy PM, chided recently.

Meanwhile, the Senate inquiry into the recent catastrophic fires is hearing how the “known problem” of a potential disaster was ignored by the government.  Current fire chiefs are gagged from linking bushfires to climate change.  Limit what they can say and you limit your response to areas that are more politically advantageous.  It’s not fossil fuels causing climate change, it’s greenies stopping hazard reduction burning and wholesale land clearing.  And those hundreds of arsonists.

When you employ the gas industry to suggest a road map for the future, you aren’t trying to solve a “known problem” – you are looking for affirmation of the irresponsible abrogation of our responsibility to tackle global heating.

When the pandemic hit, we listened to the medical experts and took action.  Sure, they have formed countless committees, but they didn’t push decisions down the road six months until the committee published their findings.

We have thousands of reviews and reports and recommendations.  We know what the problems are and how to go about fixing them.  And it certainly is not by creating more committees to produce more reports telling you what you want to hear and coming up with more slogans to announce.

The greatest “known problem” in this country is that we are run by ScottyFromMarketing and his inept band of backup vocals.

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Never ask advice from someone unless you are sure they will tell you what you want to hear

One only has to look at who our government employs to advise them to get an understanding of how little they actually want advice.

Appointing Grant King to head a panel on how to reduce emissions was a joke.

He was Managing Director of Origin Energy Limited from February 2000 until his retirement in October 2016. He was formerly General Manager, AGL Gas Companies.  He is former Chairman of Contact Energy Limited, Oil Company of Australia and the Energy Supply Association of Australia (esaa). He is a former Director of Envestra Limited and the Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association Limited (APPEA).

So it was hardly surprising when King recommended that the government should change the investment mandate of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to fund coal and gas related projects.

Carbon capture and storage is the go, says King, despite all the money that has been wasted on this prohibitively expensive and universally unsuccessful technology which is purely a fig leaf for a dying fossil fuel industry.  It would be much simpler, cheaper and safer to simply leave the coal in the ground.

And the idea that gas is the answer is equally ludicrous.  The biggest driver of increasing emissions in Australia for the last several years has been the ramping up of LNG production.

Climate Analytics found that between 2015 and 2020 the emissions growth from LNG will effectively wipe out the carbon pollution avoided through the 23% renewable energy target.

It was estimated that LNG projects will emit roughly the same amount as 12m cars this year.

In July 2018, King wrote an article for the Whitsunday Times lauding the wealth brought by our fossil fuels and perpetuating the myth that our ‘slightly less dirty’ fuels will reduce world emissions.

“Our coal and natural gas are some of the most carbon efficient in the world and continuing to make them available to the world makes both economic sense for Australia and contributes to improved carbon efficiency in other countries less blessed with the energy resources we have available to us.

There were some who were opposed to the development of the LNG industry in Queensland, but industry, government and the community worked together to create this new industry for Queensland.

This same model of cooperation must be used again to make sure Queensland does its bit to ensure Australia continues to remain an energy superpower.”

Never ask advice from someone unless you are sure they will tell you what you want to hear.

King was also appointed as a Director of the infamous Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

Mr King, who votes on funding decisions, has spoken out in support of further development of gas exports at Gladstone port and has said the contentious Adani coal mine proposal would serve the “greater global good”.

Foundation chairman John Schubert told a Senate hearing that the foundation focused on “local actions” to help the reef adapt to climate change and “does not take a position on various policies related to energy or individual company developments.”

Equally unsurprisingly, we have Nev Power, former head of “Twiggy” Forrest’s Fortescue Metals Group who now chairs the National COVID-19 Co-ordination Commission, appointed to tell us that cheap gas will be key to Australia’s post-pandemic economic recovery.  He wants increased production and the construction of new infrastructure, such as pipelines, and also to move energy-intensive manufacturing to his home state of WA.

Last September, Power had already described the west-east pipeline as “a permanent and low-cost, long-term solution”.  He also happens to be on the board of Strike Energy, a junior gasfield developer that is seeking to develop the large West Erregulla find north of Perth.

WA seems to do very well out of Mr Power’s advice.

Of the 12 projects shortlisted by the government under its pre-pandemic policy to underwrite reliable generation, five are gas projects and one is coal.  We know the government, run by the Minerals Council, wants to prolong the life of dirty old unreliable coal-fired power stations and even pay for new ones to be built.  And they have resisted every international call to cease fossil fuel subsidies.

We now have Angus Taylor looking to change the rules of the CEFC and ARENA to further prop up fossil fuels.  And his ‘hand-picked for previously expressed views’ advisers are giving a veneer of consultation to what is a full-court press to prolong the ‘climate destruction for profit’ policies of Coalition donors.

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Scotty’s shirtfronting sophistry

The hypocrisy of ScottyFromMarketing’s hairy-chested approach to an investigation into the origins of COVID-19 and China’s response was highlighted this week when Border Force Tsar Michael Pezzullo refused to guarantee that his empire would co-operate with the investigation into the Ruby Princess debacle.

When Commissioner Bret Walker led the South Australian Murray Darling Basin royal commission, the commonwealth went to the high court to resist subpoenas to call federal public servants.

When asked about co-operating with subpoenas in the coronavirus investigation, Pezzullo said he expected the commonwealth’s position “wouldn’t change from issue to issue” as there were long-standing points of principle and jurisdiction.

Righto.  So we expect China to be open and transparent but not our fearless men in black.  If our own Border Force won’t co-operate then why should another country, particularly considering the accusations being made and broadcast by the Murdoch muckrakers like Sharri Markson who now seems to have become the letter box for US propaganda.

What a joke.

And where is the call for an investigation into the handling of the outbreak in the US and the UK and our failure to stop them importing the virus into Australia?

This is par for the course with our current government who have the same approach to transparency and accountability as the Catholic Church.

The government has waged an expensive legal battle for the last seven months to stop an Auditor General’s report into a $1.3 billion arms deal from being released.

They have also invoked the National Security Information Act to keep the civil defamation case by their favourite war “hero”, Ben Roberts-Smith, secret.  This is the same Act they used to charge, try and imprison Witness J in such secrecy that the ACT justice minister knew nothing about it.

Hell, they can’t even get their own Minister to tell where he got a forged document from or why he sent it to that other Murdoch miscreant, Simon Benson.

If you want others to co-operate in a fact-finding mission so we can learn from it, accusations are not the best way to garner support.  Particularly when you are absolutely adverse to any scrutiny of your own actions.

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We cannot afford to flout the grave risk posed by climate change and a government who wants to “do us slowly”

According to the Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources, who, for some reason, have taken over from the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment in reporting on Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, “The 2019-20 bushfires will have negligible impact on Australia’s progress towards its 2020 or 2030 target.”

This is despite that same department saying that the fires up to February 11 emitted “around 940 Mt CO2‑e, comprised of carbon dioxide emissions of 850 Mt CO2‑e, 81 Mt CO2-e of methane and 9 Mt CO2-e of nitrous oxide.”

To put that in perspective, that’s about 2% of global annual emissions.  In Australia, emissions for the year to September 2019 were estimated to be 530.8 Mt CO2-e.

The department seems to be relying on the ability of the burnt-out areas to quickly recover and provide a significant carbon sink in coming years.

“The recovery of the forest is expected to be complete.”

However, it comes with the warning that “Climate change impacts, including droughts or more frequent and more intense fires, can affect the ability of forests to recover after fire.”

Much of their modelling about regeneration in the report comes from the aftermath of the 2003 fires in the ACT where 1.73 million hectares were burnt.  The 2019-20 bushfire season affected around 7.4 million hectares.

Conditions in 2003 were very different to now.  Nine of the ten hottest years on record in Australia have occurred since then with 2019 being the hottest.

According to the Bureau of Metereology:

2019 was also the driest year on record for Australia at 277.6 mm, well below the previous record in 1902 (previous lowest was 314.5 mm). Nationally-averaged rainfall for 2019 was 40% below the 1961–1990 average of 465.2 mm. The national rainfall dataset commences in 1900. Although every period of rainfall deficiency is different, the extraordinarily low rainfall experienced this year has been comparable to that seen in the driest periods in Australia’s recorded history, including the Federation Drought and the Millenium Drought.

Now, the fires are out and some rain has come.

But so has a deadly virus that has temporarily shut down the global economy.

As we deal with this latest crisis, it should be a time for reflection of values, a time to rethink priorities, a time to learn and plan for a better future.

Instead, we are being subjected to a full court press from those who want a return to old habits that we can no longer afford.

We are being told there will be a “gas-led recovery”, that we will invest in “dirty” hydrogen produced using fossil fuels, that we will subsidise fertiliser factories and aging coal-fired power stations, that we must stockpile oil, that we will get rid of “green tape” and “red tape” to facilitate mining, rampant land-clearing, over-development, habitat destruction, water extraction and contamination.

Temporary increases to welfare payments will be removed. Protection for workers and for the environment will be cast aside in the haste to get businesses back to making record profits that somehow never translate into wage rises for their employees or tax for the government.

We have an opportunity to change direction.

If the government doesn’t take it, then it will be up to the voter in 2022.  The people of Eden-Monaro will have an opportunity to start the message.

We cannot afford to flout the grave risk posed by climate change and a government who wants to “do us slowly”.

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The Minister for Fossil Fuels and Fudging Figures must go

Leaving aside Angus Taylor’s involvement in poisoning endangered grasslands, disseminating forged documents to the media to attack a political opponent, and dodgy water buybacks from Cayman Island companies, the Minister for Fossil Fuels and Fudged Figures must go because he hasn’t got a friggin’ clue what he is doing.

In a recently released report, the International Energy Agency said the most severe plunge in energy demand since the second world war would trigger multi-decade lows for the world’s consumption of oil, gas and coal while renewable energy continued to grow.

Speaking at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, a virtual meeting of more than 30 governments on the climate crisis, the UN secretary-general António Guterres and the German chancellor Angela Merkel urged that economic rescue packages should invest in climate technologies.

“Where taxpayers’ money is used to rescue businesses, it must be creating green jobs and sustainable and inclusive growth,” said António Guterres. “It must not be bailing out outdated, polluting, carbon-intensive industries.”

Merkel added “The coronavirus shows us that international cooperation is crucial and that the wellbeing of one nation always depends on the wellbeing of others.  There will be a difficult debate about the allocation of funds. But it is important that recovery programmes always keep an eye on the climate. We must not sideline climate, but invest in climate technologies.”

So what is our illustrious Minister doing?

Offering up public money, with a good dose of state coercion, to facilitate, fast track, and underwrite fossil fuel projects.

The Underwriting New Generation Investment (UNGI) slush fund short-listed twelve projects for funding consideration including five gas-fired power stations and one coal-fired power station.

UNGI would offer a financial loan, grant funding, or derivatives contracts to provide the project with a revenue guarantee.

In January, Taylor announced the first two projects to receive funds would be two gas generators – APA Group’s proposed 220MW gas generator in Dandenong, Victoria, and Quinbrook’s proposed 132MW gas generator in Gatton, Queensland.

As many analysts have pointed out, this sort of government intervention would likely dissuade other private investments.  With plummeting world demand and prices, locking us into guaranteeing their profits will only artificially inflate prices – the exact opposite of what Taylor was employed to do.

Taylor is strong-arming the states to join his fossil fuel push, as reported by Mike Seccombe in The Saturday Paper.

Funding for other energy development in Victoria was contingent on them removing the moratorium restricting conventional onshore gas exploration.

An MOU signed with the NSW government included support for the very old, very dirty Vales Point coal-fired power station owned by Liberal donor Trevor St Baker’s Delta Energy.

Then, at the end of March, the NSW government also gave approval for United States coalminer Peabody to extend operations under Woronora Reservoir, which supplies drinking water to parts of Sydney and areas south.

State governments in South Australia and Western Australia have given big financial breaks to minerals and petroleum companies in recent weeks – exempting them temporarily from having to meet various fees and expenditure requirements in order to “stimulate industry to mitigate the economic impacts of coronavirus”.

But it is extremely doubtful that an economic recovery will be led by an industry whose demand has plummeted.

Tim Buckley, director of energy finance studies at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, makes this point:

“We have seen the global oil and gas majors cut capital expenditure programs for 2020 by 20 to 25 per cent just in the last month.  Woodside last Thursday put out a statement announcing it was shelving $53 billion of investment on North West Shelf LNG [liquefied natural gas] developments. The next day Origin put on hold their fracking of the Northern Territory. The next day Santos put on hold the fracking of the Northern Territory. You’ve had massive, massive cutbacks.”

He also warns of the danger of stranded assets.

“Australia spent $US80 billion in Gladstone building six LNG trains. They were all modelled on an LNG price more than three times what it now is.”

The Coalition’s fixation with fossil fuels, and their blindness to the direction the world is taking regarding energy, is threatening our economic well-being, our international reputation, and, as one of the countries most exposed to the ravages of climate change, our very existence.

Taylor is not the man for the job ahead.

(PS  Who in their right mind would commit to buying oil to top-up emergency domestic supplies and then store it on the other side of the world?)

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Time to rethink the purpose of the ADF

Today is a day to remember the sacrifice made by our military personnel and their families.  It is also a day to reflect on the horror of war.

But thanks to John Howard, ANZAC Day has instead turned into some sort of jingoistic national celebration.

Speaking to the ABC in 2013, historian Clare Wright said: “What we saw in the Howard era was that Anzac Day became used as a political opportunistic tool for rallying the nation behind a particular version of Australia’s history.”

Afghanistan war artist Ben Quilty is scathing of that time: “It was state-sanctioned zealous patriotism and the young men and women serving in the ADF were to lose because their story was buried more and more for the Anzac story.” And as for disillusioned youth at the time – they were also sold short, says Quilty – “they were given patriotism as emotional crutch.”

James Brown, a former officer of the Australian army who now works at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, has called the centenary celebrations and the enormous amount of money spent on them, an “Anzac arms race – to find the biggest way to commemorate dead soldiers.”

“The sheer effort we are expending on the Anzac centenary is utterly irreconcilable with the parlous state of our defence forces, our ignorance of the war in Afghanistan and the marginal status of the serving military in our society. We need to look hard at the reality of Anzac, the bad as well as the good. [With] commercialisation: what started as a simple ceremony is now an enormous commercial enterprise.”

John Howard also sent our troops to Afghanistan – the epitome of the futility of war.

After the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001, President George Bush declared a war on terror and Prime Minister John Howard committed Australia to assist, citing the ANZUS Treaty. Most Australians had long expected that if ANZUS were ever to be invoked at all, it would be the US coming to our assistance, not vice versa.

Australian special forces were soon in Afghanistan alongside US and coalition counterparts. Their task was to dismantle al-Qaeda and deny it the havens from which the September 11 attacks had sprung by removing the Taliban from power.

Australia’s military and civil aid commitments between 2001 and 2017 amounted to more than $7 billion, and, in April 2017, Malcolm Turnbull confirmed a further commitment of $1.236 billion out to 2020 ($916 million and $320 million of military and civil aid respectively).

That same month, Donald Trump, in some kind of weird dick-waving exercise, dropped the Mother of all Bombs on Afghanistan.  Which was kind of odd considering he had campaigned on getting out of there.

Later that year, Trump said he was sending 4,000 additional troops.  Marise Payne refused to rule out sending more Aussies, saying: “We will examine the president’s statement, consider any expectations of counterpart nations, and engage in discussion with the US on those matters.”

Then lo and behold, last month, foreign minister, Marise Payne, and the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, issued a joint statement welcoming the agreement signed between the United States and the Taliban that will see the 19-year presence of coalition forces come to an end.

What a waste.

The Defence Portfolio Budget Statement shows the eye-watering resources that are being spent on acquiring and sustaining military equipment.

We are spending hundreds of billions of dollars for what?

We won’t get the first of the new frigates into service until around 2030. All going well, the first submarine won’t be in service until 2034 or 2035, despite a conservative design philosophy based on using only currently mature technologies.

HMAS Perth will be up on blocks for at least two years after its latest upgrade for want of a crew.

We’ve already spent $4.6 billion on the Joint Strike Fighter planes, with another $2.4 billion to be spent this year, and for that princely sum we have two planes.

In a rapidly changing world, the value-for-money calculation doesn’t favour billion-dollar manned platforms that are too valuable to risk losing.

Autonomous systems, artificial intelligence, more accessible space resources, and 3D printing could help militaries to break out of the vicious cycle of increasingly complex but increasingly expensive manned platforms.

Currently, less than 1% of Defence’s budget goes into its innovation funds.  There’s no point investing billions in military capability if it doesn’t support Australia’s needs.

The ADF are a highly-skilled, well trained, well-resourced, mobile workforce who are being wasted on war games.

Forty-one Australian soldiers died in Afghanistan.  Eighty Australians have died in the last couple of months from the coronavirus.

Perhaps old generals are not the best people to equip us for the world of the future.

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The unaccountable Ministers’ advisers

The irony of the government’s focus on its union-busting Ensuring Integrity Bill has been highlighted yet again by the devious dealings of another Ministerial adviser – this time in the Prime Minister’s Office.

Senior Adviser to the PM, Nico Louw, thought it would be a great idea to send a pirated version of Malcolm Turnbull’s book to all and sundry before its release.

That is theft.

On Insiders, Foreign Minister Marise Payne admitted she received a copy but said she deleted it.  She denied it had come from the PM’s office, which was a stupid lie since the guy had already confessed.

In response to the interview, publisher Hardie Grant chief executive Sandy Grant said:

“When I watch a senior government minister saying they received stolen goods but can’t help us know where they came from, you despair.”

Mr Louw agreed to an out of court settlement in record time.  It would be interesting to know who is paying for it.

Ministerial advisers are completely unaccountable.

In a research paper from 2002 titled Accountability of Ministerial Staff?, the author observed:

“The decision to attempt to prevent advisers appearing as witnesses is based on a premise that they are accountable to ministers, and that ministers account for the actions of their advisers. Whether ministers actually do so, however, is increasingly debatable.”

Time and again, rather than being held to account, we see these shadowy people protected.

There was the baffling decision by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecution that there was “no reasonable prospects of a conviction” for the unauthorised leak tipping off the media about raids on the AWU headquarters.  This was despite the admission of Michaelia Cash’s chief of staff and media adviser that they did it.

“The court has previously heard Mr Davies passed on information about the raids to Mr De Garis after being alerted to them by Mark Lee, who was on secondment to the newly established ROC at the time and had been offered a job in Senator Cash’s office.”

Likewise, Angus Taylor’s dissemination to the Murdoch media of a forged document attacking Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore will go unpunished because the police didn’t bother asking Taylor, or anyone in his office, any questions.

“Following inquiries undertaken and information provided by NSW Police, the AFP has determined it is unlikely further investigation will result in obtaining sufficient evidence to substantiate a Commonwealth offence,” an AFP spokesperson said in a statement.  “The AFP assessment of this matter identified there is no evidence to indicate the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction was involved in falsifying information.”

This was despite the fact that staffer Josh Manuatu was identified as the person who obtained the false figures that were used in a Daily Telegraph article that criticised Moore.

According to Angus Taylor, “The leader of the opposition and shadow attorney general’s pursuit of this matter is a shameful abuse of their office and a waste of our policing agencies’ time.”

Far from being punished, Manuatu was given the job of ACT Liberal Party Director and will be in charge of running the campaign in the territory election later this year.

In 2013, Ted Mack gave the Henry Parkes Oration – well worth the read if you have time.

He made the following observation about political staffers:

Over the last 30 years politicians’ staff has increased dramatically. At federal level there are now some 17 hundred personal staff to ministers and members. The states probably account for over two thousand more. Add to this the direct political infiltration of federal-state public services and quangos with hundreds more jobs for the boys and girls, there is now a well-established political class.

This has provided the political parties with a career path for members. In many cases it often produces skilled, partisan, “whatever it takes” warriors with a richly rewarded life through local state and federal governments to a well-funded retirement. Unfortunately while this career path, as Tony Fitzgerald states, does include principled well-motivated people … it also attracts professional politicians with little or no general life experience and unscrupulous opportunists, unburdened by ethics, who obsessively pursue power, money or both.

Exhibit A:  Alex Hawke; Exhibit B:  James Patterson; Exhibit C:  Tim Wilson, Exhibit D:  James McGrath.

In the name of “Ensuring Integrity”, either political staffers should be accountable to parliament and the law, or the Minister who employs them should take responsibility.  The Sergeant Shultz defence is not credible.

One erstwhile ministerial staffer was quoted in Spectator describing his younger colleagues in the following manner:

The staffer brat is a twenty-something, arts degree graduate, typically moderate-leaning, Kool-Aid drinking political adviser.

With their Young Liberal membership firmly tucked in their chinos, they stroll the blue carpet of the Ministerial Wing with superficial busyness, often in the direction of free booze and networking. They flash their blue ministerial passes at Aussies to crush the spirits of junior staff who secured a rare trip to Canberra. They’ve seen the inside of the Qantas Chairman’s Lounge and they won’t let you forget it.

They greet senior ministers as close friends. They are the fly-in-fly-outs, over-promoted, under-qualified and full to brim with travel allowance to supplement their already over inflated salaries. They do not serve on the frontline, rarely accountable to voters and lean heavily on their department for support.

Their policy expertise often only extends to PVO Newshour and 140-character commentary. Their Instagram is laden with West Wing-style images of riding VIP jets, post-run selfies with the Foreign Minister and artsy pictures of the parliamentary courtyards

If these are the type of people who are employed to advise our Ministers, what hope have we got?

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We need imagination, not hibernation

Josh Frydenberg is on a mission to try to convince us that we are well-placed to deal with the economic downturn because of the strength of our economy due to their superior economic management.

One thing Josh won’t be talking about is bond yields and specifically, the ten-year bond rate.

Bond yields are still a very good way of working out just how much confidence there is in financial markets.

On June 13, 1982, the yield on the 10-year bond rate reached what turned out to be its historic peak of 16.4 per cent.

In 2008 when the GFC was unravelling, the government bond yield fell to just under 4 per cent.

By May 2016, the ten-year rate was at 2.2 per cent.

And now, according to Trading Economics, “Australia 10Y Bond Yield was 0.84 percent on Wednesday April 15”.

When the Productivity Commission’s report on infrastructure funding was released in 2014, the 10-year bonds were yielding closer to 3.40 per cent.

As rates fell, many were calling for the government to take advantage.

“Forget any other way of raising money like public private partnerships, superannuation funds, or coming up with tax breaks to entice retail investors.

And forget about corporate bonds and bank loans. The cheapest money on offer for infrastructure projects is if the government goes and borrows the money itself.

With such cheap borrowing, now is the time for the government to act.”

But it’s not only infrastructure that we should be thinking about.

As I wrote on Barnaby Joyce’s facebook page after his latest attempt for relevance bemoaning our growing debt, it would take a special kind of idiot to not be able to work out a way to invest money in our society that would bring a better than 1 per cent return.

For example, PwC published an “Economic analysis of universal early childhood education in the year before school in Australia”, which found that approximately $2 of benefits accrued for every $1 spent on early childhood education. Expressed differently, “this is a return on investment (ROI) of 103%.”

We are belatedly realising the need for a strong vocational education sector where people can be trained or reskilled to adapt to and support our changing technology.

A paper by the NATIONAL CENTRE FOR VOCATIONAL EDUCATION RESEARCH lists a few of the positive returns.

“Positive effects on business productivity and profitability. Higher returns where training is highly specific; accomplished quickly and related to new technology or processes.

Education benefits: Improved health, improved environment, reduced national crime and drug use, democratisation and human rights. Adaption to technological change. Produce higher skilled workforce. Initial TVET – better health, membership of organisations and job satisfaction. Non-market benefits of self-esteem, confidence and opportunities for advancement.”

As enrolments drop, now would be the time to prop the universities up and let them devote the time and resources to research and development that bring such a big return

In 2018, a report by KPMG, “The Economic Impact of Medical Research in Australia”, showed that “every dollar invested in Australian medical research returns $3.90 in benefits to the population.”

Also in 2018, Deloitte Access Economics released modelling based on increasing Newstart payments by $75 a week.  They found that the annual cost of $3.3 billion would be outweighed by the size of the “the prosperity dividend” – a lift of about $4.0 billion to the Australian economy.

They estimated it would lead to 12,000 new jobs, a 0.2% boost to wages, and that the Federal Government would raise an extra $1.0 billion in taxes, while State and Territory Government revenues would increase by some $0.25 billion plus a boost for the regions.

“There is also a relatively tight correlation between the least well-off districts across Australia (measured using the SEIFA index) and the boost to regional spending from this proposal, meaning that the regional economies most in need of help would receive it were this proposal to be enacted.”

As more and more people study, work, shop, play and communicate from home, we are experiencing increased online traffic, slower internet speeds and higher wholesale costs for providers serviced by the NBN, limiting the amount of extra data these providers can purchase.

As reported in the Conversation, our system is being exposed for the lemon it is.

“In Australia, the Coalition government’s 2013 decision to move to a copper-based multi-technology-mix NBN, instead of Labor’s all-fibre network with fibre to the premises (FTTP), has seen Australia fall down the global broadband rankings. Fibre to the premises is when fibre-optic lines run from the nearest available node directly to a premises.

Currently, low-quality streaming over the NBN occurs for two reasons. Firstly, because of the NBN’s high data charges for service providers, and also because of the second-rate multi-technology-mix infrastructure. And this will only worsen as more people adhere to social-distancing and isolation measures.”

Once again, New Zealand has shown leadership and foresight.

“In New Zealand, an FTTP rollout has been progressing since 2012. Connections to Chorus UFB broadband (New Zealand’s NBN equivalent) cost a flat monthly fee for service providers, don’t incur a data usage charge and have no data usage limits.  This has allowed companies to quickly respond to the pandemic, and they have begun offering extra content free of charge.”

Instead of going into hibernation, the government should be going into overdrive thinking about what they could be investing in now and into the future.

What can they employ people to do right now?  What training gaps do we have for the short and medium future?  What research and development will we invest in?  How do we insure against supply chain disruption?  What new sustainable industries could we develop?

We don’t need people with small minds who long for the days of coal, copper and austerity.  We need people with imagination about the opportunities of where we are headed and the foresight to start preparing now.

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Lest we forget

After active opposition to action on climate change, rorting on a grand scale in water management, no long term national drought strategy, and a woeful response to the bushfires, ScottyFromMarketing (SFM) is now positioning himself as some sort of crisis leader.

In actual fact, he is finally being led by advice from experts, and luckily able to share the burden with the Premiers, or pass the buck where necessary.

Whilst watching the new iteration of SFM, it is important to remember what the Coalition have been doing for the past six and a half years because that is what they assure us they want to snap back to.

This is an article I wrote in December 2013, three months after the election.

“I know this government feels we have a debt and deficit crisis and a budget emergency so, in the interest of making some helpful suggestions …

Leave the fixed price on carbon until 2015, as was originally suggested. After all, as Steven Koukoulas points out, carbon pricing has had almost no impact on the macro-economy and inflation remains very low. Add to that the fact that emissions are falling and renewable energy generation is growing.

According to PEFO (Pre-Election Economic and Fiscal Outlook), with a fixed carbon price of $24.20/t of CO2 emissions, projected revenue for 2013-14 is $6.475 billion. If we left the fixed pricing until 2015, as originally intended, we will receive revenue of approximately $13 billion dollars over those two years.

Joe Hockey could scrap the Direct Action Plan because it won’t work, and save $3.2 billion over the next 4 years plus have a far better chance of meeting our targets.

Keep the Clean Energy Finance Corporation as they are making a profit of up to $200 million a year and are financing clean energy initiatives which will assist us in meeting our Renewable Energy and Emission Reduction targets. They are reducing emissions whilst making us money.

After all, there is no guarantee that electricity prices will go down if we remove the carbon pricing.

Joe Hockey could keep the mining tax. PEFO estimated an income from the MRRT (Minerals Resource Rent Tax) of $5.95 billion over the next 4 years. It is impossible to accurately predict future revenue but, even if it is half what is projected, that is still three billion.

Keep the changes to the FBT (Fringe Benefits Tax) that require claimants to provide proof of their car business use by filling in a log book once every 5 years. This tax concession costs us $1.8 billion dollars and will not change entitlements, only the way they are calculated and claimed, so genuine business use will be unaffected.

Keep the means test on the Private Health Insurance Rebate as that will save us $2.4 billion over three years by removing the concession from those earning over $260,000 a year.

Keep the tax on annual superannuation payments of over $100,000 per year which will raise us a projected $313 million over 4 years. I know the super funds have suggested it would be hard to implement but I am sure a scheme could be worked out with the ATO (Australian Taxation Office) and the funds if they put their minds to it.

Keep the superannuation co-contribution to low income earners. The Productivity Commission has identified the old age pension as a future burden that is becoming unaffordable. As low income earners are the most likely recipients of the old age pension, it is worthwhile encouraging them to invest something towards their retirement.

Keep the current paid parental leave scheme. The Productivity Commission said that replacement wage PPL (Tony Abbott’s Paid Parental Leave scheme) “would have few incremental labour supply benefits” and was too costly.

That would save us $5.2 billion dollars a year, and the proposed increase in company tax can be either scrapped, or used in the childcare area which is much more important in improving productivity and addressing the needs of parents.

Keep the funding for the Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia. Its $1.5 million annual funding seems a pittance to invest considering Aussie youth’s battle with booze and drugs, and that $32 billion a year of taxpayer dollars is spent dealing with alcohol, illicit and prescription drug abuse, and that alcohol related crime occupies 60 per cent of policing resources.

Keep the National Crime Prevention Fund which distributes money confiscated from the proceeds of crime to various charities, communities and local councils. Organisations like the PCYC (Police-Citizens Youth Club) and Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets do a great deal to help keep young people out of gaol and surely this funding is less than the direct and indirect costs of incarceration.

Keep experienced public servants rather than hiring consultants, implement the recommendations of the reviews that have already been carried out, and get advice from the departments we already have like Finance, Treasury, the PBO (Parliamentary Budget Office), the Productivity Commission and Infrastructure Australia. Reinstate the Climate Council and refund the CSIRO. Considering the 5 person panel for the Commission of Audit costs us $7500 a day for their wages alone, we should save a motza and be far more likely to get actual ‘independent’ advice.

Increase our humanitarian intake. Negotiate to set up refugee processing centres in Malaysia, Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Speed up processing, and fly successful applicants to Australia and assist them to become productive members of our society. Increase foreign aid and combat human rights abuses so less people need to flee their country. This has to be cheaper than using our Navy to patrol for fishing boats, detaining people indefinitely, and transporting people to offshore detention centres which cost a fortune to run.

Tighten up on Parliamentarians’ expense entitlements. According to the Department of Finance, taxpayers forked out approximately $54.5 million in parliamentary expenses from June to December last year. That suggests an annual cost of  over $100 million a year for 234 MPs.

Oh and get back the $8.8 billion present we gave to the RBA (Reserve Bank of Australia), who weren’t expecting it and didn’t need it. Borrowing that money is costing us $300 million a year in interest. Gambling on exchange rates gaining you a profit in time for the next election may be OK if we had spare money, but we don’t, so let’s get our priorities right.

Of course, nearly all of these things could have been achieved by leaving Julia Gillard in charge, but we didn’t.

I have only spoken about the financial side of these decisions. I have left aside any discussion of responsibility, morality, priorities or equity. That would take me volumes. My main aim has been to try and help find some money.

Now Mr Hockey, could we please have the full Gonski reforms and a proper NBN?”

Ahhh… what might have been.

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“I got a tip, I’ve got a tip for you,” said ScottyFromMarketing eleventy months ago

Eleven months ago today, Scott Morrison launched the Coalition election campaign.

The following is an extract from his speech.

“I believe that Australia is a promise to everyone who has the great privilege to call themselves an Australian. You know what that promise is? We know it. It’s the promise that allows Australians, quietly going about their lives, to realise their simple, honest and decent aspirations – quiet, hardworking Australians.

An Australia where, if you have a go, you get a go.

Where you’re rewarded and respected for your efforts and contribution.

An Australia where you can live in an economy that enables you and your family to enjoy the best living standards and be able to plan for your future with confidence.

A country where your children get the best possible start in life; a great education and can grow up safe, safe.

A country where older Australians are respected, where their savings are secure and they get the help they need and the recognition they deserve.

But you know, it’s also a country that acknowledges the First Australians and unceasingly strives to ensure that every Indigenous girl and boy can grow up with the same opportunities as every other Australian. That’s the promise and you know, it’s so much more. This is why all the peoples of the world have come here to call Australia home and make us the most successful immigration country and multicultural nation in the world today.

That’s the promise of Australia friends. To all the Australians listening, that’ s the promise of Australia. A hard-won promise provided by the generations that went before us and must be improved by us in this current generation, to pass on to those generations that will follow. You know there is no-one to whom this promise of Australia is more entrusted to than the person you elect to be your Prime Minister. It is my vision for this country, as your Prime Minister, to keep the promise of Australia, to all Australians.

You know, it all begins with keeping our economy strong. A stronger economy, where people have the confidence to invest more, to employ more, to invent more, to work hard. Because people matter, as Mum said, a stronger economy matters. Because the economy is what people live in. It’s real.

By 2030, around 800,000 more Australians today will be on the aged pension. They’ll be depending on a stronger economy and under our Government’s policies, as Josh has said, we have made our economy stronger and we’ll continue to do so in the future.

Growth is higher. There are 1.3 million more Australians in jobs. 95 per cent of the jobs created in the past year have been full time. Last financial year, more than 100,000 young people got a job. How good is that?

An all-time record!

230,000 new small and family businesses have been created. 70 per cent of our trade is now covered by export agreements, up from just 26 per cent under Labor. We have a plan to keep it that way. A plan that will see 1.25 million more Australians get a more over the next five years, one in five of those jobs will be for younger Australians. a plan that will see another 250,000 small and family businesses open their doors during the next five years. A plan that will give an additional 80,000 Australians a career by gaining an apprenticeship and particularly out there in rural and regional areas, where we’re doubling down on ensuring that in regional areas, we can get more apprentices. A plan that will see 10,000 more Australian champion companies, exporting beyond our shores by 2022, supported by export deals that then will cover around 90 per cent of our trade. That’s what an economic plan looks like.

To run a stronger economy as Mathias Cormann knows – because he’s been doing it with us for the last six years – to run a stronger economy requires a government that knows how to manage money.

If you can’t manage money, you can’t run the country.

Have you ever noticed this? How those who can’t manage money always end up spending more of it, and never spend it well? What they say, those who can’t manage money, what the costs will be – if they’re game enough to tell you – that’s only just where it begins.

The real cost comes after their big spending programs fall victim to their incompetent administration. We have seen it every time under Labor.

School halls, last time. Pink batts. Cash-for clunkers. Border protection failures. Welfare blowouts. Rorting.

You know, Labor’s appetite for big spending always exceeds their competency to spend it wisely or properly. You know, that’s the bill you really cannot afford.

And as we know, when Labor runs out of money, they always come running after yours soon after. So, today, I’m not getting into a spend-a-thon with Labor. They’re welcome to it. Reckless spending is not a vision, Australians. It’s a burden on current and future generations. So I say to Australians; do not allow Labor’s reckless spending to start. Vote Liberal and Nationals next Saturday.

Our Government has restored our nation’s finances. We have turned that around. We have kept our Triple A credit rating. We have handed down – well done Josh and the entire ERC team – the first Budget surplus in more than a decade, back in the black.

And by staying on this path we will eliminate the debt within a decade, without raising your taxes. We have achieved this by getting spending growth under control, getting Australians off welfare and into work – and treating every dollar provided to us by the taxpayer with respect. It’s what Liberals are Nationals do. You know, central to our plan of keeping our economy strong, is our plan to keep lowering taxes for hard-working Australians and small and medium sized family businesses. Making life just that little bit easier. We believe you should keep more of what you earn, because your money is better off in your hands than the Government’s.

We believe, as Liberals and Nationals, that you know what is right for you, your family and your business. We believe that you, Australians, are the answer to keeping our economy strong. Those who believe in big taxing, big spending agendas, are not only prepared to experiment with our economy at a time when we can least afford it. They believe that they know better than you.

We don’t buy Labor’s politics of envy.

I want more Australians to be able to realise the dream of owning their own home. We have already put strong foundations in place. A strong economy is of course critical to that.

And I’ll tell you what we won’t do; what we won’t do is undermine the value of the home you have saved so hard to buy.

And today I make this pledge and I challenge Bill Shorten to do the same; I pledge to the 13.5 million Australians with private health insurance, there will be no private health insurance cuts under my Government.

I will not punish Australians for taking responsibility for themselves and their families.

I want young Australians to be full of hope and living their life positively for the future. I am on a mission on this and, as Jenny knows, when I get determined I get very determined.

And our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package is taking real action on climate change.

That’s real action on climate change that we are doing our bit as we should as a global citizen, but I’m not going to do it and put our kids economic future at risk.

And I’ll tell you another thing; I’m not going to do it by telling you what car you can drive. I wonder if he’s looked up the price yet.

We have saved the Great Barrier Reef – well done to Greg Hunt particularly on his work when he was Environment Minister – taking it off the endangered list.

Operation Sovereign Borders, I never get tired of referring to that because it remains one of our Government’s signature achievements. It has been a privilege to have been a part of it, with so many others, as I said before. But Australians know this; only the Liberals and Nationals could have stopped the boats. And only the Liberals and Nationals can be trusted to ensure they remain stopped.

Our Defence Forces can also continue to rely on the Liberals and Nationals. We set our commitment to restore Defence spending to 2 per cent, from the 1.56 per cent – pre Second World War levels, where the Labor Party left it. To get it back to 2 per cent of GDP, we said we’d do that and we will be doing it three years earlier than we promised in 2020-21. And our plan will grow the permanent ADF work force our Defence workforce, to 62,400 under our future plan over the decade and more than that, provide them with a capability and equipment and the support they need to do the job.

So in conclusion, with a stronger economy, the Liberals and the Nationals will deliver on our plan to create a 1.25 million more jobs and better paid jobs over the next five years. We’ll maintain the Budget surpluses and pay down debt. Deliver real tax relief for families and for small, hardworking businesses. Will guarantee increased funding for schools, hospitals, medicines and roads and keep Australians safe and keep our borders secure. And we’ll do that, as Josh said on Budget night, without increasing your taxes.

So the election, friends, is about a choice. The choice of who you can trust to keep the promise of Australia, to all Australians as Prime Minister. Myself or Bill Shorten.

The choice between a Government that knows how to manage money, has returned the Budget to surplus and will now pay down debt.

Or Bill Shorten and Labor, whose reckless spending and higher taxes will put all of that risk, at the worst possible time. There are storm clouds and tensions ahead. The choice between a Government that will ensure you keep more of what you earn, or Bill Shorten and Labor that will hit you and weaken our economy which impacts all 25 million Australians with $387 billion in new and higher taxes.

The choice between a stronger economy under my Government, that can guarantee funding, real funding, for hospitals, schools and roads, and Labor who always runs out of money and always comes after yours.

It’s the choice between a Prime Minister in myself who just wants to back, acknowledge and cheer on the decent and simple and honest aspirations of Australians – and Bill Shorten, who just wants to tax all of those aspirations more.

So, together with my whole team, we’re asking Australians for your support next Saturday, to vote Liberal and to vote Nationals, so together we can build our economy, to secure your future and so we can keep the promise of Australia to Australians, in this generation and the next. Thank you very much.”

Proverbs 16:18

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

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Questions about Hillsong, Alex Hawke, and the coronavirus

On March 5, Hillsong began its twenty-fourth Colour Conference at the First State Theatre at ICC, Sydney, with a “capacity crowd” – which is around 9,000 according to the theatre website.  Other reports put the crowd at somewhat less than this.

After scheduled gatherings on Thurs-Sat at the theatre, and then Thurs-Sat the following week at the Hills Campus, the formal conference activities concluded on Saturday, March 14.

The day before, Scott Morrison had assured us all that he would be going to the football on Saturday.  No need to cancel mass gatherings that weekend.  Leave it till later…maybe Monday?

That same day, Friday March 13, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) issued a warning via its Smartraveller website, stating that the travel advice for every nation had now been elevated to “Level 3 – Reconsider Your Need to Travel”.

Five days later, that changed to “We now advise all Australians: do not travel overseas at this time. This is our highest advice level (level 4 of 4).  If you are already overseas and wish to return to Australia, we recommend you do so as soon as possible by commercial means.”

Back to Hillsong’s Colour Conference, promoted as a “global women’s gathering” which “has inspired women around the world to rise up [and] champion womanhood in all its magnificence.”

Looking at the advertisements for this year’s conference, “Irresistable”, and next year’s, “Kiss”, I felt like I was looking at either a perfume ad or some sort of flirty dating site.

This is the promo for next year.

“Have you ever felt the power of a kiss.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN MOVED BY
THE TENDERNESS AND EFFECT,
THE HEART-FLUTTER AND EMOTION,
THE SAFETY AND PROMISE.

I can hear you perhaps chuckling right now, or perhaps you are thinking, “Bobbie has lost it, what on earth is she thinking and where is she taking us?” To be honest, I find myself smiling as I write this, yet, I also sense it is direction that the Spirit of God desires.

A kiss is personal, provoking and compelling.
A kiss carries enormous emotion. It’s intimate and disarming. It can be as pure and perfect as new-fallen snow on a mountain peak, or it can be as dangerous and misleading as a dark shadow in a fallen valley. A kiss has the potential to set you on a pathway to life, or a path contrary to His heart.

Our world is magnificent, yet on so many fronts she is wrestling and in need of a humanity who exemplify the Kiss of Heaven… a kiss that is tender, divine and eternal; a kiss that carries no deception or despair, but only wholeness and life. A kiss that is trustworthy, with the promise of a future woven with hope.

I believe a personal and loving Heavenly Father… longs to kiss humanity with His Goodness.

I believe a tender and magnificent Son… longs to draw you near and kiss you with His Grace.

And I believe the Holy Spirit… longs to lead you into wide open spaces that not only bless you, but those you influence.

2021 is a milestone year, and I am believing that it will be strategic and signature in the journey; that girls and women will gather from far and wide, and that together, as a Movement, we will place another stake in the ground of what is miraculous and inspiring. With a remarkable team alongside, we are believing that nations, neighbourhoods and individual hearts will resonate with new vision and new possibilities; that not only will we have the best time ever, but that God’s Spirit will anoint afresh with new capacity to love, be loved, and be the change. I also sense that at the quarter-century mark, a new breed of world changers will be empowered for the days ahead.

I pray this invitation resonates. I pray that each and every one of us will be found in the embrace of Heaven going forward, and that like the legends of old, we will walk in our destiny and carve fabulous pathways for others to follow. Placing value upon womanhood remains the origin and essence of who we are, and we look forward to sharing the days ahead with you and those you love.

Love always,
Bobbie xoxo”

My reaction was … icky ticky wuck chuck.

According to Hillsong’s 2017 annual report, its total revenue was just shy of $110 million, around two thirds of which came from “tithes and offerings” with the rest coming from education, conferences, music and other resources.

All that income is tax free.  Any form of lockdown would be costing them big time.

Alex Hawke has been described as Scott Morrison’s “right hand man”, at least in the political assassination of Malcolm Turnbull, as reported by David Crowe.

“Morrison shut the door on the Canberra winter to join his two flatmates and fellow Liberal MPs, Steve Irons and Stuart Robert, and their tactical whiz Alex Hawke, the man they considered their “spear-thrower” because he was so brutally effective at marshalling numbers for a ballot.”

Hawke (along with Robert and Morrison) is a Pentacostal and the member for Mitchell which includes the Hills District, home of Hillsong, which he attends.

Hawke has said before that he would like us to be more like America.

“The two greatest forces for good in human history are capitalism and Christianity, and when they’re blended it’s a very powerful duo.”

No wonder he is attracted to Hillsong.

In 2007, Anthony Albanese described Hawke as a branch stacker extraordinaire, a political hack tainted by links to fascists and part of the mentality that had led the NSW Liberals “to being the extremist rump that it is today”.

There have been unsubstantiated rumours floating around that alleged the parents of Hawke’s wife Amelia were onboard the Ruby Princess along with some friends from the Hillsong Church.

Regardless, the growing influence of the Pentacostals in our government is of grave concern, as is their growing influence amongst our young people.

Why was the Colour Conference allowed to continue?  Have any cases of coronavirus been linked to it?  Who made phone calls to allow the Ruby Princess to dock after initially being refused permission?  What charitable works does Hillsong undertake to avoid paying tax?  And why are people like Alex Hawke and Stuart Robert Ministers?

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