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How embarrassing

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The Prime Minister for Double Standards

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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.”

How embarrassing

The rest of the world knows how stupid and venal our politicians are and, unlike most of us, they aren’t afraid to tell them.

In obvious reference to the gormless Peter Dutton’s gaffe when he was overheard giggling about time meaning nothing when you have “water lapping at your door”, the Fijian Prime Minister told Scott Morrison exactly what he thought about his government’s inaction on climate change and dogged support for coal.

“Here in Fiji, climate change is no laughing matter.  From where we are sitting, we cannot imagine how the interests of any single industry can be placed above the welfare of Pacific peoples — vulnerable people in the world over.  Prime Minister, I urged your predecessor repeatedly to honour his commitment to clean energy future, the only future that guarantees the survival of your neighbours in the Pacific,” he said.

Mr Bainimarama said the issue “cannot be written off as a difference of opinion”.

“Consensus from the scientific community is clear, and existential threat posed to Pacific Island countries, a certainty.”

Slap down number one.

Then we had Tony Abbott contributing his views on Brexit to the twittersphere.

“What’s wrong with no deal? Australia does $100 billion a year in trade with the EU without a deal.”

This was immediately met with derision.

Jonathan Portes, a professor of economics at King’s College in London, replied:

“Australia’s trade with the EU is worth about 7.5% of Australian GDP.  UK’s trade with the rest of EU is worth more than 30% of UK GDP. Anyone with a basic grasp of economics (not @TonyAbbottMHR it seems) should spot the problem”.

International trade expert Dmitry Grozoubinski wrote “Australia’s exports to the EU are dominated by raw commodities and agricultural products for which it enjoys country specific quotas the UK won’t get.  You are embarrassing. Stop.”

Andy Bruce, an economics writer for the wire service Reuters, tweeted:

“Gaffe-prone former Aussie PM, deposed by own party, once described by Council on Foreign Relations as most incompetent leader of any industrialised democracy: listen to this guy!”

For some unfathomable reason, Abbott is a member of a pro-Brexit advisory panel called The Institute for Free Trade.  His membership alone is sufficient to destroy the credibility of that organisation.

Unsurprisingly, Peta Credlin is spouting the same lines as Tony with speculation that these two are supporting Boris Johnson’s leadership aspirations.

“You should plan for a no-deal Brexit,” she said. “You should square your shoulders, Britain. Put something on the table and walk away.  Bugger Europe, they need you far more than you need them … a bit of bulldog spirit there. I want to see Britain look and sound the way it used to look and sound.”

Considering how well they did when they got the reins, the only skill this pair have is in wrecking things for what they admit are entirely political reasons.  Talking tough guy rather than making a plan is how they operate.

When asked to reflect on his time in leadership and any regrets or mistakes, Abbott told the Daily Telegraph “I probably shouldn’t have winked at Neil Mitchell. I probably shouldn’t have eaten an onion. I probably should have had walk coaching.”

Because for these guys, it’s all about the image.  They bounce around doing what their spin doctors and the IPA tell them to do.  They have no plan.

Slogans about “stepping up and turning up and showing up” or “listening and hearing and doing” and “if you have a go, you’ll get a go” are meaningless when you are completely unwilling or unable to assess risk and address the priorities of governing.

Not only has the government been an embarrassment, they are a source of misinformation with an increasing lack of transparency.  They are an impediment to progress in this country and they must be booted out.

The Prime Minister for Double Standards

Why do Coalition PMs keep conferring titles on themselves that they patently do not live up to?

Abbott was the Prime Minister for Women, Indigenous People, and Roads.

We thought Turnbull was going to be man who would refuse to lead a party that wasn’t as committed to action on climate change as he was – which turned out to be not very – but he dubbed himself the Prime Minister for Innovation instead.

And now we have ProMo, the Prime Minister for Standards (PMS) – or should that be Double Standards

The Coalition government want to claim credit for legislating an end to discrimination in the marriage act at the same time as they also want to enshrine in law the right for anyone who disagrees with it to continue to discriminate.

The Prime Minister for Standards and his team believe in the sanctity of marriage – except for the part that says “to the exclusion of all others”.  The purpose of marriage is for procreation and it is crucial for children to be raised by their biological parents – unless they are Indigenous or the children of Hugh Jackman.

They want to claim credit for handing out drought assistance money whilst enabling water theft and rampant land-clearing and denying climate change.  Subsidies for renewables are evil but subsidies for fossil fuels help keep people working.

When it comes to an Australian citizen who has never applied for citizenship of another country but who may have been eligible under certain conditions, which he doesn’t satisfy, that is sufficient to convince the PMS that they are indeed a citizen of the other country – but any politician who has not applied for citizenship even though they are eligible is definitely not a citizen of another country.

The baseball-cap wearing PMS has announced a dress code for citizenship ceremonies which must be held on Australia Day, or another day in September, or whenever a Greens MP or Senator chooses to.  Meanwhile, real Aussies will drag out their flag cape, get pissed, and go look for someone to bash.  No doubt Promo will be cooking a strawberry curry on the barbie while Jen rolls out the pav she cooked earlier.

And there will be some passing acknowledgement of the traditional custodians of the land whose successful management for 50,000 plus years was much appreciated but aren’t you lucky we came along.

Income management will empower you, truancy officers will instil a love of learning, mandatory sentencing and imprisonment for unpaid fines will stop adults from being poor – we’ll look after the kids.   And if they play up while you’re gone, we always have places like Don Dale to help teach them to be good.

ProMo really cares about kids (if they don’t express opinions).  So much so that he will publish a list of pedophiles complete with photo and address – what could go wrong?  But we won’t be doing pill-testing because that would just make kids think it was ok to take drugs which they certainly don’t do now.  And we won’t be taxing alcohol or sugar because that would be bad for profits of hard-working mum and dad investors.

Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the whole wide world – in fact I hear the Saudis might have an award up their sleeve for a certain Minister or two.  And isn’t it great that the Saudis are willing to help with Jobson Groethe by buying weapons from us.

National security is a priority for our PMS and his sidekick, P Duddy (who must wish Sophie Mirabella was still there so everyone would stop hating on him).

In order to keep us safe, they will stop letting any more Muslims or people with black skin into the country and they will make the ones who are already here too scared to go out and definitely too scared to express an opinion, or to not express an opinion.  They must worship Australian values of free speech and stop being such snowflakes about Mussie bashing and Neo-Nazi rallies against African kids.  And NO, we are NOT racist and don’t you dare say we are!

Religious freedom is a right of all Australians as is the right to stop any mosques being built.  Anyway, Islam isn’t a religion.  And how can Jews claim to be Aussies when they won’t eat a bacon and egg roll?  They should be forced to eat a pie and scull a beer at the citizenship ceremony like way too many politicians do.  Will Andrew Laming do his usual gig of gate-crashing parties with a tray of lamingtons and do his party trick of drinking a beer whilst doing a handstand?  Will he send out another Australia Day greeting with a photo of the boys showing their bits?

It may be a tad difficult for New Australians to get a handle on these Standards the PMS is espousing.  My family has lived here for eight generations and our current government in no way represents the standards and values I respect or those that could actually make this country a place worthy of celebration.

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Rather than public office, Mark Latham should seek help

After being dropped by virtually every media outlet in the country, Mark Latham is aiming to return to what he (thinks he) knows best – sucking on the public teat.

After finishing an economics degree, Latham was elected to the Liverpool City Council at age 26, becoming mayor at age 30.  At 33, he was gifted a safe seat in federal parliament via a by-election and nine years later, became leader of the Labor Party, leading them to an ignominious defeat in 2004 and resigning a year later.

And it’s all been downhill from there.

Latham is, to use the words of Media Watch’s Paul Barry, “offensive, abusive and a bully.”

I would add a misogynistic, racist, homophobic boor with a vastly over-inflated sense of his own intellectual capacity which seems to have been spawned in the front bar of pubs in Western Sydney – oh for the days when the snowflake sheila’s were banned from darkening the doorstep.

I mean a man want’s the right to say “fuck, cunt, poo, bum” whenever he feels like it as Latham told a bemused audience at the 2015 Melbourne Writers Festival.

It’s people like Rosie Battie, that “spokeswoman for the left feminist movement”, who have spoiled it for Aussie blokes.

“I worry that the domestic violence debate is being used as a trojan horse to push a left wing feminist position saying that we are a patriarchy.  Demonising men and making them feel worse about themselves isn’t going to solve the problem,” Latham said on a Triple M podcast.

“I don’t think it’s about how men look at women, it’s how the men look at themselves. Blokes have lost their self esteem, they’re welfare dependent, they’ve got other troubles, drugs, alcohol in their life, it’s that loss of self-esteem where I think they use the domestic violence as a coping mechanism to get over all the other crap they’ve got in their lives,” he said.

“Surveys show women are safer than ever before, that, sure, there are some unacceptable incidents of domestic assault in the community, but they’re no worse than they were 20 or 30 years ago. Why this big national push?”

And any male who sticks up for women is a “dickhead [or] gay”, as Latham described a group of students from Sydney Boys High who made a video in support of International Women’s Day.

Mark seems to revel in picking on women and kids.  When the governor of the Reserve Bank, Philip Lowe, revealed in a speech that it was a comment from his 15 year-old daughter that had motivated him to think about the equality of opportunity for women at the RBA, Mark attacked the kid on that silly show of his on Sky that he later got sacked from.

“Her concern, the daughter of the governor of the Reserve Bank, of one of the most privileged households in the country, her concern wasn’t about poor and disadvantaged people, it was about people like her, and Lowe has taken this up and said he won’t be making appointments strictly on merit, he’ll be shoehorning women in,” Latham said.  “This daughter is getting a bigger say at this taxpayer funded institution than any Australian voter.”

When Wendy Harmer tweeted that she was  unimpressed and may cancel her Foxtel subscription, Mark turned his popgun on her.

“Now Wendy, of course, we know her well. She’s a proven commercial failure, so naturally she got a job at ABC radio at the sheltered workshop there for all the lefties. She fits the criteria: she’s female, she’s got a disability – that’s what they mean by diversity.  So we say to Wendy Harmer on this Sunday morning: get a life, love.”

He has tweeted vile abuse at all and sundry.  To Australian of the year finalist, Cate McGregor, he sent this raving rant:

… When you were wearing a nappy asking to suckle middle aged women, you looked like a he/she. Or was that a different person?

— Twitter, @RealMarkLatham, 10 August, 2015

Considering all that, and a whole lot more I could add, you’ll be pleased(?) to hear that Latham, who according to Antony Green, will be elected to the NSW upper house in a couple of weeks’ time in his latest iteration as NSW state leader of One Nation, has an education policy for a total reform of our schools, their curriculum and staffing.  Despite having zero teaching experience, he knows what’s best for our kids!

The idea of Latham sliding in on the coattails of Pauline Hanson is hilarious.  His education policy is not.

Commonsense tells us that critical and creative thinking is impossible without a strong foundation in knowledge, logic and rationality – that is, the qualities of the Enlightenment and the classics of Western civilisation. Extensive research studies in education have confirmed this point. Pressure and resilience also play an essential role in the learning process.

Under the banner of ‘mindfulness’ and ‘mental wellness’, NSW schools are dropping their standards, testing requirements and homework expectations to achieve a different type of classroom result: less stress, less anxiety, less discomfort. Naturally, some students are milking this new approach to minimise their workload. Like other parts of society, ‘anxiety’ (what we used to call ‘worrying too much’) has become an all-purpose alibi for avoiding effort and responsibility. The rise of the ‘snowflake school’ model in NSW has coincided with the State’s slide down international league tables.

There has been an attempt in NSW schools to sideline parents and indoctrinate children with notions of ‘gender fluidity’ as a regular, even desirable part of life.

They hope to make young people confused about their gender and sexual identity, dismayed by what society has supposedly done to them. In these circumstances, young people are more likely to rebel against the existing social order – a key Marxist goal. Gender fluidity teaching is not designed to help young people but to use them for political purposes.

Schools need to drop the modern obsession with turning themselves into political laboratories, gender fluidity factories, mental health clinics, social work centres and cultural propaganda tutorials. Students have parents, extended families, local communities and other government services to help them address non-educational issues in their lives.

I wonder if Latham has actually looked at suicide rates in our young people, or domestic violence statistics, or if he would even care.

People of NSW … we MUST prove Antony Green wrong.

This man is dangerous.

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The staggering cost of small government

The Coalition came to power in 2013 promising to cut wasteful spending and one of their first steps was to immediately start sacking public servants with a goal of 16,500 by mid-2018.

Whilst the government didn’t do any figures on how much this would cost, analysis gave an estimate of $1 billion in redundancy payouts to public servants even before entitlements such as leave were paid.

One influence driving up redundancy bills was the Commission of Audit’s call to reduce the number of middle managers.

An audit report released in December 2017 then revealed that government spending on management consultants had increased from $200 million in 2012-13 to $700 million a year now.

The big four accounting firms — KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young, Deloitte — have won close to half-a-billion dollars in consultancy work over four years.

Professor Leo Dobes, a retired senior public servant and associate professor at the Australian National University, told the ABC that there are not enough skilled economists left in the public service, describing “a woeful lack of ability and knowledge in that area.”

Matthias Cormann, as always, had a justification.

“It helps to keep the cost of Commonwealth administration low by helping to avoid the ongoing costs which would be incurred with the recruitment of additional permanent public servants when the need for specialist skills or additional support is temporary or project-specific,” he said.

There is the added attraction that you can limit the questions you ask a private firm to look at and pass on some public money into selected private hands.

It isn’t just economists that we have lost.  Many scientists left the CSIRO with a devastating loss of expertise and waste of research.  Regulatory bodies like ASIC and the ATO were decimated.  DFAT was stripped of staff and function.

Outsourcing has been sold as a more efficient way to do things.  And hasn’t that gone well – NOT!

The cost of Government IT has spiralled from $5.9 billion in 2012-13 to nearly $10 billion a year, with 24 per cent of that going to Boeing, IBM and Telstra.

That was more than they spent on Newstart.

Yet we are plagued by stuff-ups and burdened by the few remaining public servants not having the expertise or courage to evaluate and implement better IT solutions.

The waste of money, the loss of expertise and the opportunity for frank and fearless advice, has had far-reaching effects on the capability of the government and its agencies to make the right decisions and to offer an adequate level of service.

That’s what happens when you elect people who insist that they are such good economic managers they don’t need to explain themselves or look at broader consequences or modeling and boring figures.

It’s in their DNA – “Do Not Ask”.

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The hounds are off the leash and it is your fault, Scott

In 2011, when Scott Morrison urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate, he was rebuked by senior colleagues.

Deputy leader, Julie Bishop, and the former immigration minister Philip Ruddock, strongly disagreed with the suggestion, pointing out that the Coalition had long supported a non-discriminatory immigration policy and saying it was not an issue that should be pursued.

But Morrison, seeing it as a vote winner, pushed on.  And Peter Dutton picked up the baton and eagerly ran with it, expanding the vilification to include second and third generation Lebanese Australians, African Australians and anyone else who offended his worldview of white supremacy and Christian domination.

Creatures like Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning crawled out from under their rock, emboldened to once again parade their ignorant bigotry and racism – something that was soundly rejected decades ago when Pauline was sent packing the first time.

Hanson, Anning and George Christensen have all willingly addressed far-right rallies organised by convicted criminals, leading us to the ugly scenes we witnessed at St Kilda Beach yesterday.

So excuse my cynicism when Scott Morrison took to Twitter to tell us “I thank Vic police for their efforts dealing with the ugly racial protests we saw in St Kilda yesterday. Intolerance does not make Australia stronger.  Australia is the most successful migrant country in the world. This has been achieved by showing respect for each other, our laws and values and maintaining sensible immigration policies. Let’s keep it that way, it makes Australia stronger.”

Far from being strong on national security, you are jeopardising it by alienating and marginalising groups in our society.

You unleashed the hounds, Scott and you did it for cynical political advantage.  And now we are reaping what you sowed.

If you care about a safe Australia, we must send this mob of shit-stirrers packing.  Get back under your rock and let decent people work together for all Australians.

Are we there yet?

When Scott Morrison took over as Treasurer, he took waffle to a whole new level.

“It’s like going off on that summer holiday,” he told us.  “You get in the car; you know where you’re going; you don’t put the passengers at risk; you get to your destination safely. Of course there will be people chiming in from the back seat like my kids always do, saying, ‘Are we there yet? Are we there yet?’ Well, we are going to get there and we’re going to get there with everybody on board.”

What has seemed an interminable trip along a pot-hole ridden track, with innumerable unexpected detours and passengers being thrown out the door along the way, is finally drawing to a close and the kids are getting excited about being able to get out of this old clunker and into some fresh air.

There has been spirited debate here at the AIMN about what Labor and their supporters should be doing right now.

Should we refrain from saying anything that could be perceived as critical of Labor, particularly of Shorten?  Should Bill go quiet and save any policy announcements for the campaign?  Valid questions with reasonable arguments for and against.

But we are actually running out of time.

Parliament resumes for a dreadfully onerous seven sitting days between February 12 and 21.  Should Labor leave it to the crossbenchers to pressure the government on tricky issues?  Will the bullied and ignored women in the Liberal Party fall in behind the propaganda that female enablers are trying to spin about the Liberals being wonderful to and for women?

The December quarter GDP figures are scheduled for release on March 3rd.  Might that influence the election date?  We keep getting told how wonderfully well the economy is doing but they always leave out the bad bits.

Whilst the headlines for the September quarter figures showed the Australian economy grew 2.8% through the year, it also showed a concerning drop in household saving.

“The subdued growth in gross disposable income coupled with an increase in household consumption resulted in the household saving ratio declining to 2.4 per cent in the September quarter. This is the lowest saving rate since December 2007.”

Presuming they stick to delivering a budget on April 2, Morrison will have to call an election immediately which gives Bill the last word in his budget reply speech.

After the House is dissolved or expires, writs for election must be issued within 10 days and the election must be held on a Saturday between 33 and 58 days after the writs have been issued.

That means the writs must be issued by Monday 15th April at latest for a May 18 election.

Realistically, the campaign has already begun.

An effective debating technique is to anticipate the other side’s arguments, concede the undeniable before they can make their argument, and be ready with a substantive “however”.

The Coalition are entirely predictable so that makes the job even easier.

They are manoeuvring to attack Labor on taxation but that angle is easily rebuffed.

The OECD’s annual Revenue Statistics report found that the tax-to-GDP ratio in Australia (27.8% in 2016) ranked it 30th out of 36 OECD countries where the average was 34% of GDP.

It is true that, relative to the OECD average, the tax structure in Australia has substantially higher proportions of tax revenue from income taxes and a somewhat higher proportion from corporate taxes.  However, we pay much less GST and, more significantly, we pay no social security contributions which makes up, on average, 26% of tax receipts in other OECD countries.  We are not a high-taxing nation.

The Coalition proposed changes to income tax in the last budget.  Grattan Institute analysis shows most of the revenue reductions to government from the plan are the result of lower taxes on high-income earners.

“Once the three-stage plan — including removing the 37 per cent tax bracket — is complete, $15 billion of the annual $25 billion cost of the plan will result from collecting less tax from the top 20 per cent of income earners.”

This sets up a significant challenge for future governments to cope with less revenue and greater inequality.

I know many disagree and make good arguments for a different course, but if I was Bill I would be pre-empting the budget, making as many announcements as I could coupled with rebuttals for expected Coalition policy.

Have the figures at hand for how much cheaper power prices will be with more renewables in the mix.  Have an answer for the reliability discussion which, along with storage, could be largely overcome with targeted transmission and interconnection investment and demand management.

It’s too late for the Coalition to come up with anything new and if Bill announces a good plan, they are too silly to adopt it.  Their raison d’etre is to oppose anything Labor says or does.

Whatever the strategy, we are in the home stretch.

Labor begins the New Year with the same old excuses

When the Gillard government proposed removing John Howard’s grandfathering of the Parenting Payment, moving parents onto Newstart when their youngest child turned six if they had a partner and eight if they didn’t, the parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights held a public hearing into the legislative changes.

In their report, the Committee members expressed concern ‘that the affected single parents would be able to maintain access to appropriate levels of social security support if placed onto Newstart’, and that it would be ‘premature for the government to introduce these measures’ before the completion of a separate inquiry into the adequacy of Newstart. The findings of the Newstart Inquiry were not tabled until November 2012—nevertheless, against the recommendations of the Committee on Human Rights’ interim report, the Gillard government pressed ahead with the amendment in October that year.

The Newstart Inquiry, conducted in 2012 by the Senate Education, Employment and Workplace Relations Reference Committee, questioned whether Newstart provided recipients with ‘a standard of living that is acceptable in the Australian context for anything but the shortest period of time’, while noting that more than 62 per cent of Newstart recipients at the time of the inquiry had been receiving the payment for longer than twelve months. The committee expressed ‘particular concern’ at the loss of income experienced by single parents moving from Parenting Payment (Single) to Newstart, but fell short of recommending that Newstart be increased.

In its submission to the Newstart Inquiry, the Australian Council of Trade Unions provided data which showed that the real value of Newstart has remained almost constant since the payment was introduced in 1991, when it replaced the old Job Seekers’ Allowance. Adjusted for CPI (consumer price index), Newstart was worth $233.80 a week in 1991, and just $244.85 more than two decades later in 2012. Moreover, as ACOSS stated in its own submission, Newstart has fallen from 92 per cent to 72 per cent of the poverty line, and in 2012 it represented a meagre 21 per cent of the full-time median wage.

While the real value of Newstart has hardly budged, ACOSS also noted that Newstart’s purchasing power had fallen by $8 a week since 1991, because the cost of rent and utilities has risen faster than the CPI. Indexing Newstart payments to CPI—an initiative of the Howard government—rather than to average male earnings, as aged and disability pensions are indexed, means that Newstart payments fall further behind pensions and average wages every year. Even with the addition of Rent Assistance, which the majority of Newstart recipients are eligible for, Australia has one of the lowest rates of unemployment benefit in the developed world. At the time of the inquiry, the United States—not otherwise noted for its generous welfare safety net—had an unemployment benefit that was set at 47 per cent of the average wage, while in European countries such as Germany and France unemployment benefit was 64 per cent of average earnings.

The Business Council of Australia has described Newstart as “a barrier to employment” that “risks entrenching poverty”.  The OECD has expressed concern about the effectiveness of Newstart in “enabling someone to look for a suitable job”.   In 2016, KPMG advocated a $50 per week increase in Newstart while a more recent report from Deloittes analyses the impact of raising benefit rates by $75 a week.

The Productivity Commission released a Research Paper on inequality in August which states that “Nine per cent of Australians (2.2 million people) lived below the relative income poverty line (half of median disposable income) in 2015-16” with “Children, lone parents, those with a disability, the unemployed and Indigenous Australians most at risk of multiple deprivation.”  It also stresses that “Child poverty is of particular concern because of the damage poverty may do to a child’s development, their future productive capacity, and their life prospects more generally.”

Labor’s revised draft national platform, issued in October, states “The current rate of Newstart is too low and is a barrier to people finding work and participating in society,” promising to hold a “root and branch” review into the adequacy of Newstart and other benefits.

How many reviews will it take before they actually act on their findings?

Julia Gillard made the mistake of not addressing this problem.  Will Bill Shorten make the same mistake?

Grab some popcorn – things are about to get interesting

2019 is almost upon us and Scott Morrison must be sweating bullets.

Not only will he have to hit the road running to contest an election, the first few months of the year are littered with land mines which have the potential to explode all around him.

The Murray-Darling Basin Royal Commission’s final report will be provided to the South Australian Governor by 1 February 2019.  That has the potential to embarrass both the NSW government and Barnaby Joyce right before elections.

February 1st is also the deadline for the banking Royal Commission to deliver its final report to the Governor-General.  We have already heard enough to know that it will be damning which only underlines the government’s poor judgement in characterising it as a “political stunt” by Labor.

February is also the month when the Federal Court is due to hear the case regarding the media tip-off from Michaelia Cash’s office about the raids on AWU offices, providing she hasn’t succeeded in having the subpoenas set aside as she has said she would.

The case against Kathy Jackson, that ‘lion of the union movement’, may take a little longer.  It is due for court mention in January but a tentative trial date of April 29 has been set because “she’s yet to secure funding for her legal representation.”

In the few sitting days available, the government will have to deal with a crossbench determined to facilitate medical evacuations from Manus and Nauru.

And there will still be the question about what to do with all those pesky gay teachers.

Jenny Macklin and Ann Sudmalis will be back from their jaunt to the UN.  I doubt Macklin will retire quietly and it remains to be seen if it was enough to shut Sudmalis up about the bullying allegations she made before she was gifted the $100,000 trip to New York to get her off the scene for three months.

Sooner or later they are going to have to release the five-yearly State of the Forests report due in 2018 which will have the fact-checkers working overtime to compare the emissions reductions claimed for the LULUC sector with some actual data – presuming they provide any because they keep saying in the National Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory that they haven’t had access to satellite images for the last two years.

Matt Canavan is going on Adani overload trying to convince us all that it is a happening thing, but the challenge to the Indigenous Land Use Agreement will likely be heard in May after the W&J people crowd-sourced the funding to continue their fight.  There are also issues remaining about water and threatened species management plans and unapproved bores.  It is extremely unlikely that Canavan will be able to point to any progress before the election.

The December quarter national accounts will be released on March 6th, less than a month before the budget is handed down.  The government is running on a campaign of good economic management but there are indicators that the updated figures might not be quite as good as they would hope for.

There is a $10 billion war chest of “decisions taken but not yet announced” but spending up big, presumably on tax cuts, will make claims of frugality and a promised but never achieved surplus harder to sell.  Not to mention gross debt rapidly approaching $540 billion and net debt at $350 billion.

Yup.  It sure will be an interesting few months.

A message to Australia’s children – might Matt Canavan be lying?

When thousands of school children took to the streets to protest against the Adani coal mine and the government’s inaction on climate change, they were met by patronising condescension from the Prime Minister who said he does “not support our schools being turned into parliaments” and that he wants “more learning and less activism in schools.”

The Minister for Resources and Northern Australia, Matt Canavan, went further tweeting:

“It is sad that all of those young people protesting today don’t seem to care for the rights of indigenous Australians. The W&J peoples voted 294 to 1 in favour of Adani mine. The views of the traditional owners should prevail!”

Well kids, sit up straight and pay attention as we do some learning.

The Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people hold the Native Title to the area where Adani wants to build the Carmichael coal mine.  The title applicants represent 12 families.

After Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) was rejected by them in 2012 and again in 2014, in 2016 Adani paid money to seven of the representatives to bring as many people as they could to a meeting to vote in favour of the mine.  Many of these people were paid to attend even though some of them had no idea what they were voting on.  Both the legitimacy of the people voting and the count were challenged.

This was the 294 to 1 vote that Canavan refers to.  One family representative, Craig Dallen, has since withdrawn his support for the mine, alleging Adani paid him and others to recruit mine supporters, including Indigenous people outside the W&J with no link to the mine site.  That makes the vote 6 for and 6 against.

In August this year, a Federal Court decision upheld Adani’s Indigenous Land Use Agreement (ILUA) with the W&J people, paving the way for the State Government to cancel all native title over the mine site and hand freehold to Adani, a decision the W&J people are appealing in the High Court.

Adani then filed an application to have the legal challenge thrown out unless W&J mine opponents deposited $161,000 into the court by cash or Australian bank guarantee within a fortnight, to secure potential legal costs if it wins.

The lawyers said Adani’s opponents had to date ignored its demands for payment of $637,000 with costs orders now totalling $870,000 from previous Supreme and Federal Court proceedings.

The judge ruled that Adani’s demand for $160,000 was “disproportionate and unpersuasive”.  Instead, the W&J opponents have to put forward $50,000 by the end of January.  The representatives fighting this challenge have no money or property.

“The threat of high cost orders is meant to stop us standing up to protect our human rights and our country. We have received threats of massive economic damages and bankruptcy,” said W&J Traditional Owner and lead council spokesperson Adrian Burragubba.

And it gets worse.

On December 21st, it was reported that “A traditional owner employed by Adani has been referred to Australia’s corporate watchdog for investigation over the collapse of a million-dollar trust fund set up to hold mining income for the Wangan and Jagalingou (W&J) people.”

Irene Simpson, who took a job with Adani after negotiating the contentious land access deal for its Queensland mine, was the controlling director of the trustee company, Cato Galilee.

According to Mr Burragubba, “Cato Galilee was controlled by several members of the W&J Applicant who received unauthorised financial benefits. Adani, along with the Qld Coordinator General, worked with these people to undermine our traditional authority and decision making.

“Cato Galilee directors betrayed us and went into private, unauthorised discussions with Adani after the W&J claim group voted ‘no’ for the second time in October 2014.

“In 2015, under the direction of Ms Irene Simpson, and fellow director at the time, Mr Patrick Malone, Cato Galilee entered into an unauthorised Memorandum of Understanding with Adani on behalf of W&J.

“This occurred after the claim group had rejected the Adani ILUA, and the authorised Family Representative Group instructed the applicants to oppose the deal. The MoU was subsequently rejected by our people at an authorisation meeting in that year” he said.

Ms Simpson, is employed by Adani as an Indigenous engagement officer. Mr Malone heads a Western Kangalou company, while working with Adani on W&J’s cultural heritage.

On December 13th, Matt Canavan hit Twitter again.

“Great to see first Australians already benefiting from Adani. Today Woongal – a W&J certified business – was awarded the contract for surveying services at the Carmichael site. In 2016 the W&J traditional owners voted 294 to 1 in favour of the mine. Time to get on with it!”

It just so happens that Patrick Malone’s son, Mr Jonathan Malone, has majority interests in the pop-up company, Woongal Environmental Services which has been given a contract to monitor environmental outcomes on Wangan and Jagalingou country.

But it’s all a front according to the other Native Title holders who oppose the mine.

“We have condemned Adani’s recent announcement that Woongal Environmental Services is a ‘W&J certified business’. This ‘certification’ is false. This contract is not with the W&J people and its supposed benefits are typically meagre. Adani are taking ‘green washing’ and ‘black cladding’ to a new level.

“Companies like Cato Galilee and Woongal Services are being used as fronts. They undermine the foundations of our society and proper governance”, Mr Burragubba said.

This is not an isolated incident, as Matt Canavan must know.

In May, it was revealed that a north Queensland Indigenous organisation kept secret more than $2m in payments by the Adani mining company.  The Kyburra Munda Yalga Aboriginal Corporation did not account for payments by Adani, then paid its own directors up to $1,000 a day cash-in-hand to conduct now-invalidated cultural heritage assessments for the Indian mining company’s Abbott Point port expansion.

A letter from the AFP stated “It is … alleged that Kyburra chairperson Angelina Akee, and (others) are diverting Kyburra funds for their personal gain. It is suspected that the remaining directors are complicit in these activities and may also be deriving personal benefits”.

Matt Canavan’s twitter feed is a wealth of information – not from him but from the people who respond exposing his lies.

Another interesting piece of information to emerge from late June this year…

Glencore has focused efforts to sell its Rolleston coal mine in central Queensland on Winfield Energy Group; a new entity set up by ex-Peabody executives Rob Hammond and John Canavan.

Based on a price for thermal coal at $US75 a tonne, the new owner could expect $567.5 million EBITDA in 2018 and, perhaps more relevantly, $160 million mining pre-tax cash flows

Rolleston has also received government approval to extend its mine life to beyond 2040.

Way to go bro.

There endeth today’s lesson on greed and corruption. And lies?

What the world needs now …

For all its bumps and twists, despite always facing new challenges, the world and its travellers are a wondrous thing.

A Merry Christmas and thank you to all for your stimulating company – you make an old woman realise she has a lot to learn.

At this time of year, politics seems so measly … so trivial.

I came across this list of quotes and would like to share it with you. Perhaps someday we will finally agree about what’s really important.

1. “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

2. “Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.” – Mark Twain

3. “You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

4. “Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” – George Sand

5. “A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” – William Arthur Ward

6. “Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust, and hostility to evaporate.” – Albert Schweitzer

7. “Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

8. “Love and kindness are never wasted. They always make a difference. They bless the one who receives them, and they bless you, the giver.” – Barbara de Angelis

9. “Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams

10. “One who is kind is sympathetic and gentle with others. He is considerate of others’ feelings and courteous in his behavior. He has a helpful nature. Kindness pardons others’ weaknesses and faults. Kindness is extended to all — to the aged and the young, to animals, to those low of station as well as the high.” – Ezra Taft Benson

11. “There is overwhelming evidence that the higher the level of self-esteem, the more likely one will be to treat others with respect, kindness, and generosity.” – Nathaniel Branden

12. “The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted.” – Aesop

13. “Wherever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

14. “Because that’s what kindness is. It’s not doing something for someone else because they can’t, but because you can.” – Andrew Iskander

15. “You can accomplish by kindness what you cannot by force.” – Publilius Syrus

16. “Always be a little kinder than necessary.” – James M. Barrie

17. “Transparency, honesty, kindness, good stewardship, even humor, work in businesses at all times.” – John Gerzema

18. “Kind people are the best kind of people.” – author unknown

19. “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” – Theodore Isaac Rubin

20. “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind.” – Henry James

21. “A single act of kindness throws out roots in all directions, and the roots spring up and make new trees.” – Amelia Earhart

22. “How beautiful a day can be when kindness touches it!” – George Elliston

23. “One who knows how to show and to accept kindness will be a friend better than any possession.” – Sophocles

24. “He that has done you a kindness will be more ready to do you another, than he whom you yourself have obliged.” – Benjamin Franklin

Best wishes to you all.

The Reformation of the Broad Church

The Protestant Reformation was the 16th-century religious, political, intellectual and cultural upheaval that splintered Catholic Europe, setting in place the structures and beliefs that would define the continent in the modern era.

The events of the last five years must surely be making the ‘broad church’ of the Coalition question whether the time has come for their own Reformation.

It’s all very well to listen to a range of views but that doesn’t mean you should let the nutters call the shots which is increasingly what is happening.

When Australians voted overwhelmingly for marriage equality, there were still several MPs who refused to accept the vote of the people.

Bob Katter, Keith Pitt, David Littleproud and Russell Broadbent voted No.  Barnaby Joyce, Tony Abbott, Andrew Hastie, Michael Sukkar, Kevin Andrews, Scott Morrison, Alex Hawke, George Christensen and Rick Wilson all abstained from the vote.

Surprisingly, that group contains three party leaders (four if you count Katter), and another who is touted as a future leader of the Nats.

When it comes to taking action on climate change, the broad church gets even more ridiculous.  Who could forget the jubilation on the floor of the house when Abbott succeeded in dismantling an effective policy on carbon pricing that was achieving its goal of emissions reduction while compensating consumers and trade-exposed industries.

Now the debate and policy direction seems to be being led by Craig Kelly who appears in the media daily and floods social media with increasingly hysterical rubbish disparaging anyone who thinks we should reduce carbon emissions.  Yesterday’s effort suggested that “if you are a climate Alarmist” shooting Santa’s reindeers “becomes a MUST for those calling for zero emissions.’’

His deliberate misinformation knows no bounds.  Two days ago he posted this incredible observation:

 “2018 – COLDEST OF LAST 4 YEARS

Even before the December satellite global temperature readings are finalised, it’s now clear that 2018 will be a colder year than either 2015, 2016 or 2017.

I wonder if this cooling trend will continue in 2019 and beyond?”

Cooling trend???  The hottest twenty years on record have all happened in the last 22 years with the last four years topping the list but because 2018 didn’t beat the record the previous three years set, Kelly considers this a cooling trend.

Aside from dubious policy direction, we have been subjected to an unedifying avalanche of allegations about bullying, harassment, intimidation, misogyny, infidelity and expense rorting committed by the moralising men of the broad church.

This cannot continue.

Unless the Coalition go through a purging Reformation, these anachronistic, self-entitled male bullies, and the compliant women who facilitate them, will be consigned to the scrap heap of history and it will be completely their own fault.

The legacy of the ATM government – we now know what misandrist means

As the Coalition government draws inexorably closer to an election wipeout, what do we remember from their time in government?  What have they achieved?

They will tell us that the economy is in great shape.  Well bully for ‘the economy’.

Meanwhile…

There are 3.05 million people living in poverty, including 739,000 children.

Homelessness increased by 14% between the 2011 and 2016 censuses, with 116,427 people now thought to have no permanent home.

The AMA, and everyone else, are warning us about the crisis in aged care.

Closing the gap on Indigeneous disadvantage targets related to life expectancy, employment, literacy and numeracy, and school attendance are not on track to being met.  Indigenous adults are 13 times more likely to be imprisoned in Australia than non-indigenous counterparts.

Comparative educational standards are declining and preschool attendance is comparatively low.

Less than half of all working Australians have a permanent full-time job with leave entitlements, with insecure work becoming the new normal.

In March 2018 gross household debt reached $AUD 2.34 trillion and gross household debt relative to disposable income reached 190.1%, ranked the second highest in the world.

Despite record company profits, Australia’s private sector workers are enduring their sixth straight year of minimal real wage rises with incomes growing by 0.5% or less a year since 2013.

Four million Australians experience mental illness every year and around 3,000 people die from suicide.

Waiting times in emergency wards or for elective surgery or dental work are increasing.

The other area where the government will tell us they are doing well is national security.

They have “stopped the boats” from landing on Australian shores, in part by holding thousands of people, including children, hostage for years and subjecting them to indescribable torment.  Tens of thousands more suffer the uncertainty of temporary visas which can be revoked at the whim of a Minister who delights in deporting people.

Dog-whistling is encouraged with Muslims, Africans, Lebanese and Chinese all targeted by politicians who want to blame migration for everything from crime to traffic congestion.

Draconian counterterrorism laws in response to the threat of “home-grown terrorism” are undermining our civil rights, privacy and our cybersecurity.

Despite continuous growth, since 2013, in cumulative terms, the Australian foreign aid budget has been cut by over 30 per cent.

New travel warnings have been issued to Aussies going to Indonesia due to protest activity in Jakarta about ScoMo’s brilliant, and now deferred, idea to move our embassy to Jerusalem.

The greatest real threat to our national security, and every other aspect of our existence – climate change – is not only being ignored, but we are actively pursuing policies to increase emissions, hence exacerbating and prolonging the damage.

Aside from the stuff they think they do ‘well’, the government are hoping that we will forget about their problems with women which is kind of hard to do when we are subjected daily to new episodes:

Tony Abbott et al standing in front of signs describing Julia Gillard as a witch and Bob Brown’s bitch.

Tony Abbott telling us to vote for him because he had good-looking daughters.

Tony Abbott, when asked to describe the attributes of a female candidate, saying she had sex appeal.

Barnaby Joyce describing Bridget McKenzie as a flash bit of kit.

Jamie Briggs thrusting himself on a public servant and then sending her picture to the media when she complained.

Peter Dutton mistakenly sending a text to a female journalist describing her as a “mad fucking witch” which wasn’t as bad as the text also mistakenly sent to a female journalist by Senator Barry O’Sullivan’s media contact describing her as a cunt who he wanted to die of vicious cancer and who he would bitch slap if she came to his house.

Barnaby Joyce getting a junior female staffer pregnant and facing accusations of sexual harassment from a highly respected female farmer (and others).

Andrew Broad having us fund his flights to meet ‘sugar babies’ he had been sexting with.

Several women calling out the bullying and harassment they receive in the Liberal Party, forcing them to quit.

The overwhelming preponderance of male Coalition MPs and the dirth of female candidates in safe seats.

The treatment of Julie Bishop despite her loyalty, hard work and good international standing.

I guess we can thank them for expanding the RWNJs’ vocabulary to include the word misandrist because, as we know, rich older white Christian men are terribly picked on.

Will the curse of the despatch box strike again?

As the Prime Minister of the day strides to the despatch box in Question Time, the cameras focus on the back benchers sitting directly behind him as they nod dutifully and call out “hear, hear”, or point accusingly as they call out “shame.”

These people are deliberately placed there in order to raise their profile and, in the case of the Coalition, to give the impression that they actually have some women in their party.

But recent experience should make them wonder if this is a good strategy.

 

 

 

 

 

Seated behind Tony Abbott were his faithful blondes, Natasha Griggs and Karen McNamara, both of whom lost their seats in the 2016 election.

 

 

 

 

 

They were replaced by Malcolm Turnbull’s girls, Ann Sudmalis and Julia Banks.  Both have said they will not recontest the next election as Liberal candidates citing bullying as the reason, with Ms Banks quitting the party and moving to the crossbench for the remainder of her term.

Scott Morrison has placed the relatively-unknown SA Member for Boothby, Nicole Flint, behind him and, seemingly on cue, a seat that has been held by the Liberal Party since 1949 is looking shaky.

A recent ReachTEL poll put Ms Flint ahead 51-49 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.  But the poll also found that about 60 per cent of voters are opposed to oil drilling in the Bight – an endeavour that her government is encouraging.

About 84 per cent of poll respondents supported declaring the area a World Heritage zone because of the little known Great Southern Reef which is estimated to generate $10 billion each year for the Australian economy through fisheries and tourism. That’s about 50 per cent more than its more famous cousin, the Great Barrier Reef.

Whilst a seat behind the despatch box might make a member more recognisable, it also indelibly associates their image with the toxic policies being spouted by the Minister in front of them.

If I was Nicole, I would be changing seats.

Oh what a difference a new job makes

On Thursday, the Government announced a review into the “integration, employment and settlement outcomes for refugees and humanitarian entrants”.

The Prime Minister said: “We want to make sure we are doing everything we can to help people get jobs, and integrate into the community”.

Oh what a difference a new job makes.

After the 2010 election defeat, when opposition immigration spokesman, Morrison urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.

Mr Morrison’s suggestion was made at a meeting at which shadow ministers were asked to bring three ideas for issues on which the Coalition should concentrate its political attack during the next parliamentary term.

In early 2011, after Mr Morrison’s comments on the cost of asylum-seeker funerals and his role in the controversial decision to cut a Howard government program to fund schools in Indonesia, colleagues were privately questioning whether he was trying to pursue an anti-Muslim political strategy unilaterally.

After he handed the baton to P Duddy, things only got worse.

Responding to a Greens idea to boost the refugee intake to 50,000 in the lead-up to the 2016 election, Dutton said “They won’t be numerate or literate in their own language, let alone English.”

“These people would be taking Australian jobs, there’s no question about that.

“For many of them that would be unemployed, they would languish in unemployment queues and on Medicare and the rest of it so there would be huge cost and there’s no sense in sugar-coating that, that’s the scenario.”

Also announced on Thursday was some sort of protection against religious discrimination.  ProMo went to great lengths to link this to multiculturalism and mentioned that “someone” had told him that they felt less able to openly practice their religion nowadays.  He also stressed how important it was for parents to have the right to determine the values their children are taught at school.

Yet at last year’s Liberal National party state conference in Queensland they voted on a resolution that called for the federal government to ban immigration from countries with sharia law, with those in favour saying it was “culturally incompatible “ with Australian values.

Whilst the resolution was defeated, another calling for a ban on headscarves for children under the age of 10 was passed.  Apparently it is ok to tell a Muslim family how they must raise their daughter.

Considering their history regarding stoking up fears about Islam, and the current debate about immigration mixed in with border security, I don’t like the chances of anything positive coming from yet another Coalition government review.

Nice try guys but I don’t think anyone’s buying it

Scott Morrison and Christian Porter gave a press conference today to announce their response to the Ruddock review into religious freedom and the formation of a National Integrity Commission.

In explaining the need for religious freedom legislation and a Religious Freedom Commissioner at the AHRC, Scott started out by telling us what a religious country Australia is as 70% of people nominated a religion in the 2016 census.  It’s part of who we are.

And how the percentage of migrants identifying a religion was much higher.  Multiculturalism.

And blessed be the atheist who must be equally protected from discrimination.

When pressed to give examples of religious discrimination today, Scott floundered until Christian helpfully stepped in recounting how a person who had expressed opposition to marriage equality on Facebook got sacked and had to sue for unfair dismissal.  Which was kind of ironic as he was announcing the government’s support for religious schools to sack teachers if they express support for marriage equality.

Scott then remembered that someone had been blocked from entering a meeting somewhere because of their religion…then remembered they want to enshrine the right of religious groups to stop people from entering their premises so kind of mumbled something about exemptions.

After the thousands of submissions and wide consultation that led to the Ruddock review recommendations, they will now flick pass the five substantive ones to the Law Council to review the review for long enough to make it another government’s problem.

This wasn’t going quite as well as they’d hoped so they proudly announced their Christmas present to the Australian public – a National Integrity Commission….well two of them actually, but they won’t hold hearings or publish conclusions.  They will just investigate stuff and then pass it on to the DPP.

“What kind of stuff?” a reporter asked.  “Do you mean like Michaelia Cash’s office tipping off the media about a police raid?”

“No, no…  This will just be for aggravated criminal offences.”

“But that is a criminal offence.”

“Yes…errr…ummm…If criminal behaviour was shown to be ongoing….ummm…if it was say….ummm benefitting from giving out contracts for example….er….if it was aggravated behaviour….”

HELP ME.

PM to the rescue to tell us how bad the NSW ICAC was and that this will not be a political witch hunt like the NSW ICAC where good men’s lives were destroyed.  People were labelled as criminals but many of the findings were overturned by the courts.

Gee….I seem to remember Dyson Hayden saying some pretty damning things very publicly about the thugs and criminals in the union movement which fizzled off into nothingness.  Not to mention Peter Slipper.

If they said it once, they said it a hundred times – this wasn’t anything to do with Labor who just have a press release.  This was a body of work that began last January and that had been methodically discussed and worked through with the Cabinet.

Except, it was less than a month ago – November 19th to be exact – that Christopher Pyne said on Sky News….

“Look, we have a number of different bodies which are already over-sighting federal politicians.  The new Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, of course the Australian federal police, which has its own particular division which deals with fraud and so on in public office.  It’s the easiest thing to do is call for another organisation costing money, giving it extra powers.  I don’t think that’s necessary at the national level and it’s just another way of Bill Shorten trying to distract people from the real issues that matter around jobs, the economy, national security, border protection.”

Nice try guys but I don’t think anyone’s buying it.  The U-turn left skid marks.

 

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