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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.”

Come on, Bridget – it’s a bit late for outrage

Nationals leader in the Senate, Bridget McKenzie seemed outraged that Scott Morrison had breached the coalition agreement by usurping the authority of Nationals resources minister Keith Pitt in April 2021.

‘Our coalition arrangements are a negotiated outcome and they include a ratio of cabinet portfolios in a coalition government,’ she told ABC Radio National on Thursday.

‘By essentially removing the authority of one of those ministers and giving it to a Liberal minister… (he) breached the coalition agreement.

‘It showed complete disrespect for the second party of government… the National Party would not have agreed with having one of its ministers removed.’

Except Keith Pitt knew about the arrangement when he was overruled on the PEP-11 gas permit and he told Q&A host Stan Grant that Michael McCormack knew of Morrison’s co-ministering as well. So clearly the Nationals did know and allowed it to happen without comment.

McKenzie went further on ABC’s Afternoon Briefing, calling the moves by Morrison “absolutely unprecedented”.

“I think these revelations do bring into question our Westminster system of government, the conventions that underpin how we have confidence and trust in our parliamentary system.

“As a former cabinet minister in the Turnbull and Morrison governments I took those conventions very seriously.

“If there were two ministers effectively exercising the same authority within cabinet, who was the senior minister? What if they disagreed? What implications does that have for decisions?”

McKenzie added that the Westminster system has many conventions to keep government officials accountable, but they only work “if everyone within it abides by those conventions” and all parliamentarians should be held accountable, agreeing that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has made the right call to review Morrison’s secret appointment.

But what makes Bridget’s belated outrage even more ludicrous is the fact that her partner, Simon Benson, is the journalist who wrote the book, based on contemporaneous interviews, that disclosed Morrison’s secret power grab.

So spare me your pretence, Bridget. You and your colleagues were complicit in the reign of secrecy and dishonesty because your own political ambition outweighs any respect for good governance.

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Five Labor failures, or one silly meme?

Despite Labor having only been in government for less than three months, the Liberal Party have already come up with a new meme titled 5 Labor failures. It’s worth addressing each of their claims individually.

  1. BROKE THEIR PROMISE TO REDUCE POWER BILLS BY $275

The actual projection was to “cut power bills for families and businesses by $275 a year by 2025, compared to today”.

Aside from the timeline for price reductions, this modelling was done in 2021, before the war in Ukraine and before the fossil fuel market went crazy.

Adding to changed expectations is the revelation that Snowy Hydro 2.0, due to start production in 2025, is currently 19 months behind schedule.

  1. HIGHEST ELECTRICITY PRICES ON RECORD

According to the AEMO’s Quarterly Energy Dynamics Q2 2022,

Key factors underlying the extraordinary rise in wholesale prices in Q2 included:

– The impacts in local fuel markets of extremely high international prices for traded gas and thermal coal.

– Reduced availability of coal-fired generation, due to scheduled maintenance as well as long- and short duration forced outages, driving high levels of gas-fired generation, which both raised electricity prices and put pressure on local gas markets.

Australians were paying higher prices for gas than our overseas customers and, when the regulator interceded to cap prices, the gas companies withdrew supply.

The only thing more expensive than a “gas-led recovery” would be to follow the Coalition down the nuclear rabbit hole.

  1. BLOCKED A COAL MINE IN QUEENSLAND

Tanya Plibersek has invited public comment on her draft decision to refuse Clive Palmer’s Central Queensland coal mine.

The Queensland government last year deemed the proposal “not suitable” and said it posed “a number of unacceptable risks” due to its location, the prospect of polluted water discharge and a lack of effective mitigation measures.

Despite the state government’s rejection, the project remained viable and sat on the desk of then federal environment minister, Sussan Ley, awaiting a determination. Apparently, she was too gutless to make a decision either way.

  1. NEUTERED THE CONSTRUCTION WATCHDOG

The ABCC was re-established in late 2016 under the “Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Bill”.

The Productivity Commission’s 2017 Shifting The Dial report found labour productivity between 2007-08 and 2015-16 in construction had seen annual 2.1% average growth, topped by a 5.8% increase in 2011-12.

After the restoration of the ABCC, in 2017-18, construction sector labour productivity fell by 2.4%, followed by further falls of 2.6% in each of the following 2 years before the pandemic hit.

Putting aside some of the more ridiculous cases pursued and lost by the organisation, If the goal of the ABCC was to improve productivity, it has been a very expensive abject failure.

  1. REAL WAGES GOING BACKWARDS

That they had the gall to include this as a Labor failure shows severe cognitive dissonance.

At every turn, the Coalition has fought against wage rises for anyone except politicians. Even worse, they successfully advocated for a reduction in penalty rates for our lowest paid workers and removed government paid maternity leave from women who had a workplace entitlement, deriding it as “double dipping”.

They also abandoned or delayed the scheduled increases in the tax-free threshold and the superannuation guarantee.

Labor fulfilled their promise to make a submission in favour of an increase in the minimum wage which realised a positive outcome. They have also asked for a significant increase in aged care wages.

Unfortunately, these wage rises are being eaten up by inflation which I am pretty sure Labor didn’t cause.

It looks like the Liberals will be about as effective in Opposition as they were in government. They can’t even mount a vaguely credible critique. Don’t hold your breath for any viable alternative policies.

 

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Best man for the job or someone needing an escape route?

Far be it from me to suggest a politician has ever done anything wrong – mainly because they make sure everything they do is considered “within the rules” they set, and secondly because they have an unhealthy penchant for defamation suits.

So it is with no comment that I provide the following information regarding John Barilaro.

On October 4 last year, John Barilaro resigned as NSW Deputy Premier. A few days later, it was reported that he and his wife had “quietly” split up.

On October 25, Mr Barilaro was called to give evidence at the ICAC investigation into Gladys Berejiklian. He stated that she should have declared her relationship with Daryl McGuire. In what may have been a warning from Ms Berejiklian’s legal team, Barilaro was then asked (three times) if he had declared all of his intimate personal relationships to the Premier. His attempt at answering that “difficult question” can be viewed here.

As reported by Shane Dowling, two days later, a person sent a complaint to the NSW ICAC suggesting that John Barilaro had perjured himself when he stated that he had declared all intimate relationships and alleging that he was currently in a personal relationship that he had failed to declare. ICAC responded on December 1, thanking the complainant for “drawing this matter to our attention”, adding that “this information will assist with the ongoing work of the Commission”.

On December 11, the Daily Telegraph published a story about the “new woman” in Barilaro’s life – his former media advisor Jennifer Lugsdin.

In early October, the SMH reported “Barilaro’s long-time media adviser and uber-loyalist Jennifer Lugsdin” had taken a new job in September as a senior media adviser at Investment NSW.

That’s the same Investment NSW whose CEO Amy Brown, also a former subordinate of Barilaro’s, chose Barilaro for a very high-paying post politics job in a role he created when Deputy Premier.

There are other questions swirling around that ICAC has taken an interest in about public money given by Barilaro to bodies connected with Angus Taylor and his family. It’s worth noting that Angus Taylor’s sister-in-law, Bronnie, is deputy leader of the NSW Nationals party. Her husband Duncan has been the CEO of an organisation that has received millions in government grants.

I can understand why Barilaro might want a fresh start in a new country away from inconvenient questions of both a personal and professional nature.

What I can’t understand is what qualifications or expertise make him the best candidate in the world for a job he created, which will cost the public purse a motza, whose function and benefit no-one seems able to explain.

 

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Governments are the cause of many of our problems – they could also easily solve them

The central purpose of government in a democracy is to be the role model for, and protector of, equality and freedom and our associated human rights. They should set an ethical standard for the people to emulate.

Yet we are subjected to atrocious behaviour from our politicians. They seem to have no qualms about rorting expenses, using public money for political purposes or their position for personal gain, doling out jobs for the boys and girls and contracts without tender to mates, slandering their opponents and downright lying if they think it will help their cause. The behaviour in question time is appalling as are the seemingly endless stories about sexual harassment and assault.

That sets a bad tone for the country.

Economic responsibility should include protection from the negative consequences of free markets. The government must defend us against unscrupulous merchants and employers, and the extreme class structure that results from their exploitation.

Figures from the March quarter show that, even though more of the population was in work than ever before, the share of national income going to wages sunk to a near all-time low of 49.8%. Before COVID the wages share was 53%. At the start of the 2000s it was 56%.

During the first two years of the pandemic, the world’s ten richest men more than doubled their fortunes to $1.9 trillion, while over 160 million more people were forced into poverty.

Yet employers scream blue murder if asked to share increasing profits whether through wage rises or taxation. Wage theft and tax avoidance/evasion are rampant whilst governments chase spurious overpayments in welfare, make compliance with Jobseeker harder, and refuse to increase income support payments.

More often than not, governments put corporate interests in front of workers, consumers and the environment.

Allowing mining companies and irrigators to dictate water usage has led to dire environmental consequences. Water theft is ignored. Pollution breaches attract miniscule fines. Required environmental offsets are not adhered to. Unapproved earthworks to trap, and then sell, flood water have devastated properties with little consequence or delivered nothing for all the government money thrown at them.

Businesses fraudulently collected JobKeeper – no problem – yet nurses and teachers who kept working throughout the pandemic are fined for withdrawing their labour in order to campaign for more staff and wages that don’t go backwards.

Instead of society’s infrastructure, including roads, posts and telecommunications, and water, sewage and energy utilities remaining in public hands and solely dedicated to the common good, many such services have been privatised, increasing costs and reducing the quality of service to users as companies strive for ever higher profits for shareholders.

That such assets should have public ownership is expressed in the idea of the “commons.” They should be owned by and shared between the members of the current population, and preserved for future generations rather than sold off by politicians for a one-off sugar hit to a budget.

A privatised care sector with inadequate regulation and oversight has also been a disaster. I was astonished to hear Bill Shorten say that 90% of NDIS providers aren’t registered. I was also dismayed to find out when my mother went into aged care that there is no required staff to resident ratio.

When we owned the Commonwealth Bank, it could influence interest rates through competition. Medibank Private did the same thing with private health insurance costs. When we owned our air and sea ports, the government could control charges. All whilst returning a profit to public finances.

That an energy superpower like Australia is suffering soaring prices and threats of blackouts is a shocking example of lack of forethought in sacrificing an advantage to private profit.

John Howard sold off Telstra and put the money into a sovereign wealth fund established mainly to meet future liabilities for payment of superannuation to retired federal public servants. As of the end of March, total funds under the management of the Future Fund stands at $249bn – the golden egg fiercely guarded by a broody old Peter Costello. There is about $50 billion just sitting there in cash. The Emergency Response fund has $4.6 billion in it and the DisabilityCare Australia Fund, $14.5 billion. Surely we could find better uses for this money?

The housing crisis, both in affordability and supply, has been exacerbated by governments offering generous tax concessions to investors. They have also been remiss in oversight of development approvals. Suburbs are built without the social infrastructure to support them or, even worse, in areas at significant risk of flooding, bushfires or coastal erosion.

Political donations are shrouded in secrecy and lobbyists, many of them former politicians or staffers, have easy access and too great an influence on policy. Ministers are not required to tell us who they meet with or why.

We blithely ignore the social harm caused by gambling and alcohol, presumably because of the money governments collect from these powerful industries.

When governments have access to the best experts, the latest evidence and analysis and the benefits of a fiat currency, and yet these problems persist, it’s hard not to think that politicians think more about themselves than they do about making decisions in the best interests of the country.

 

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Builders or wreckers – the contrast is stark

The Coalition came to power in 2013 with the promise to wreck things and they didn’t disappoint.

Labor had introduced a price on carbon that was working well. It encouraged polluters to reduce emissions, investment in renewable energy, and research and development. It gave money to farmers for carbon abatement. Trade exposed industries were compensated as were consumers with a tripling of the tax-free threshold, increased pensions and energy supplements to welfare recipients.

We also had a tax on mining superprofits with the revenue to be redistributed via company tax cuts, small business instant asset write-offs, increasing the superannuation guarantee and super tax concessions, an infrastructure fund for the states, increases to family tax benefits, a supplementary allowance for those on income support, plus the schoolkids bonus.

And then along came Tones who got rid of it all.

Investors in clean energy fled as the Coalition “axed the tax” and cut the renewable energy target. Soaring profits from mining continue to be funnelled off to foreign shareholders as they squeeze every cent of profit from what are fast becoming stranded assets, leaving this energy rich nation to deal with exorbitant power prices and the insecurity of an aging fossil fuel generation fleet.

Under the Gillard government, a real FttP rollout of the NBN had begun.

Abbott’s response to this nation building infrastructure as he instructed then shadow communications minister Malcolm Turnbull to “demolish” it?

“The Government is going to invest $43 billion worth of hard-earned money in what I believe is going to turn out to be a white elephant on a massive scale. We can be certain the NBN will be to this term of government what pink batts and school halls were to the last term of government.”

It is telling that they chose Murdoch’s Fox Sports studio to announce the demolition.

We are now paying billions to redo NBN connections to all those poor bunnies who had the totally inadequate FttN thrust upon them.

Over the last nine years, our relations with other countries soured. Our rankings for human rights, transparency and corruption, and press freedom have all tumbled, as has trust in government and other institutions.

These will all have to be rebuilt.

From the way Peter Dutton has started as leader, it seems the wrecking mentality continues in the federal Coalition. Luckily, the Australian electorate has made them irrelevant.

 

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We tried letting Sky News run the country and look where it got us

Whilst there are many factors contributing to our current energy woes, there is general agreement that “the simplistic, ideological nonsense that has substituted for policy in the past decade” is right up there.

This crisis was a long time in the making and won’t be fixed quickly or easily. The first step, admitting we have a problem, has been thrust upon us by a confluence of circumstances.

Despite the difficulties faced, both immediately and into the future, there is a sense that action is being taken. Experts are being listened to rather than tame consulting firms commissioned to produce spurious reports about the unaffordability of moving to clean energy.

Yet still, the Coalition resist and deny.

The new leader of the wedge and slogan party said the crisis has occurred because the power industry has been “spooked” by the ALP’s plans to promote renewables “too quickly”.

The new leader of the climate change denying party suggested nuclear power was the answer. It is the most expensive form of power. It would take 15 years to build. It is not renewable and it produces toxic waste.

It is obvious where the views of the alternate prime minister and his deputy come from and it isn’t any of the energy regulators, suppliers or academics in the field.

Oh no. If you want to know how to run the country, turn to Sky non-News.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese signing a deal to prioritise “climate gestures” amid an energy crisis could be “signing his own political death warrant,” says Sky News host Chris Kenny.

Mr Albanese and Climate Change Minister Chris Bowen signed a letter to the United Nations promising to deliver cuts to Australia’s emissions by at least 43 per cent by 2030.

“So that’s it, rather than ensure you have enough electricity, no greenouts, and that your electricity is affordable,” Mr Kenny said.

“Albanese and Bowen, in the middle of an energy crisis, have bowed to the UN and promised to cut our emissions by even more.

“The political timing is unthinkable.”

And they wonder why we are in such a mess.

 

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Three things Labor should reconsider

Governments, despite what they may have said in the past, have to be flexible enough to respond to changing circumstances.

There are three things that Labor should reconsider.

Firstly, they should increase income support payments. The arguments in favour of this are obvious and have already been made and accepted by everyone except the government.

Secondly, they should scrap the stage 3 tax cuts. If they could abandon or delay the scheduled increases in the tax-free threshold and the superannuation guarantee because of changing financial circumstances, then they can change their mind on this too. With inflation on the rise, we certainly don’t need to give rich people more money.

They should revisit the taxation reform package they took to the 2019 election and take time to explain it to the electorate, though I can understand their hesitation. Tax concessions on property investment have fuelled the housing crisis – start there.

Thirdly, Labor should do a complete review of defence spending. We are wasting hundreds of billions of dollars on last century’s weapons of war. Cyber security, robotics and autonomous systems, communications, international regulatory bodies, foreign aid, trade and diplomacy will be far more important than accumulating manned tanks and submarines.

Action on climate change is a crucial part of national security as is a respectful relationship with other countries.

Labor must move from the mentality of a bruised Opposition, scared of discussions about national security and the economy. Take the reins and steer in a different direction.

 

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Why branch stacking is a really bad idea

There are a few reasons why parties might engage in branch stacking.

One could be genuine grassroots support for a worthy local candidate who has inspired political engagement.

Much more likely than that altruistic possibility is that party factions are at play with power to influence party structure and direction the sought-after goal. Unfortunately, this can lead to incompetent puppets being put forward

Even more insidious than both those options is when a small minority take over and try to push views that are out-of-step with the direction that broader society is comfortable with.

That is what has happened in the Coalition with the religious right seeking domination. Swept up in this crowd are climate change deniers, homophobes, anti-vaxxers, and xenophobes.

Appealing to these groups might be a political strategy advocated by some, but it is definitely not a strategy for good governance.

Branch-stacking leads to confirmation bias and the promotion of fringe issues. Niche audiences have their voices amplified by Sky After Dark which is streamed for free into Canberra parliamentary offices and listened to avidly by Coalition MPs.

The constant culture wars, wedge politics, and the denigration of experts as ‘unelected elites’ over the last decade has been exhausting and pointless. Finally, Australia woke up and said enough is enough.

We are sick of elected representatives refusing to listen to evidence and expert advice.

We are sick of confected conflict.

We are sick of factional deals that see incompetent people promoted.

We are sick of politics standing in the way of solutions.

The Labor government will need the best advice available and the best team possible to negotiate the difficult times we face. People want truth, not spin.

Can they forego the politics and party favours? Will they finally realise that internal wars are only destructive? Can they share good governance rather than petulantly wanting to own it?

We shall see.

 

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As the world turned to shit, the Coalition turned to religion

With all that’s going on in the world – a pointless war, a global pandemic, rampant global heating leading to increasingly severe and compounding natural disasters, superpowers competing over our region, soaring cost of living, rising inflation, unaffordable housing, poverty, social unrest – the last government spent its dying days fighting for a religious discrimination bill we didn’t need and arguing over trans women playing sport.

When the country was ablaze and blanketed in smoke, our ex-Prime Minister ducked off for a quick holiday. After all, what could he do but pray for us … from a safe distance. On their return, he and Jenny went to visit the victims to tell them about their “thoughts and prayers” and to do a bit of good old “laying on of hands” – because that will make people who have lost everything feel better.

“I’ve been in evacuation centres where people thought I was just giving someone a hug and I was praying, and putting my hands on people … laying hands on them and praying in various situations,” Morrison said.

“It’s been quite a time, it’s been quite a time, and God has, I believe, been using us in those moments to be able to provide some relief and comfort and just some reassurance.”

The fires were due to arsonists and the loony left opposing hazard reduction burns, claimed those who dismiss the call for action on climate change as a “religion” practised by urban elites.

In a display of utter callousness, our ex-deputy PM and ex-leader of the Nationals suggested two of the victims who were killed had “most likely” voted for the Greens. Are we supposed to infer from that that, had they voted for the Coalition, they would be alive today? That it was their own fault?

According to Barnaby, only God can change the climate as he told us in a bizarre video posted Christmas Eve in 2019 when much of Australia was struggling with crippling drought.

“The thing we’ve got to acknowledge is there’s a higher authority that’s beyond our comprehension – right up there in the sky – and unless we understand that it’s got to be respected, then we’re just fools, we’re going to get nailed.”

We have had various Liberal Prime Ministers provide references for paedophile priests and/or describe those who covered up paedophilia as their “mentors”. It was left up to the White House to tell Scott Morrison that it was inappropriate to bring Brian Houston as an invited dinner guest considering he was facing criminal charges.

Conservative commentators like The Australian’s Paul Kelly dismissed the Royal Commission into child sex abuse as “a populist witch hunt” purely designed to undermine Catholic authority.

“This decision has plunged Australia into a multi-jurisdictional, multi-institutional, state-church, high-cost shambles where nobody knows how the massive expectations of victims can be satisfied. It is, however, a perfect fit into Gillard’s political strategy. For Labor, that’s what counts. The media loved it – the combination of a moral crusade, a cast of victims and coming systemic dismantling of the Catholic Church.”

Far from being the party of the outer urban working class and the struggling regions, this jealous defence of wealth and privileged power permeates the Coalition’s response to everything from the Uluru Statement to their support for the mining and burning of fossil fuels.

There has been an influx into the Liberal party of conservative members recruited from Pentecostal churches and other religious groups, with growing influence of climate-denying Christian conservatives.

In the last parliament, being Pentecostal was seen as being meritorious within itself. How else could one explain the promotion of Alex Hawke and Stuart Robert? Or the official photo shoot of an enraptured Morrison lifting voice and arm in praise of the Lord? Or the videos of Scott addressing the congregation?

Our parliament is far more religious than the wider community. The more cynical among us may suggest that is more about a relationship with power rather than God, more about networking than love of their fellow man, more about saving their political hide than their immortal soul.

Courting the religious vote has led to terrible policy and social outcomes – inequitable school funding, divisive debates about the rights of the rainbow community, women’s reproductive health and the choice to die with dignity.

The previous government achieved nothing. They failed to identify risks, let alone manage them, being far more preoccupied with confected culture wars and wedge politics than planning for the future or nurturing international relationships..

It will be up to Labor to offer something better than ‘thoughts and prayers’ to fix the situation that we now find ourselves in after three years of a prime minister who considered himself divinely ordained.

 

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Barnaby sounds worried

Barnaby Joyce definitely doesn’t want a federal ICAC – a view he tried to justify in a rather extraordinary article in the SMH today in which he contends that a Federal anti-corruption body will manacle political vision.

It would be “an abrogation of democracy” if “the vision of elected representatives” was “usurped by another pillar of bureaucracy such as the proposed commission”, argues Barnaby.

“Government ministers have – and must have – the discretion to step outside bureaucratic recommendations and make decisions based on a vision for a greater Australia. It might be a decision based on their political views, or on their compassion, and it might not subscribe to the purity of a business case.

Any deviation from bureaucratic edict could be deemed corruption, so the primacy of the decision-making shifts from the parliament of the people to the bureaucracy of the government.”

Mr Joyce seems to miss the point that a federal ICAC would not remove a minister’s right to make decisions. They would just be required to justify them, as they supposedly are now if they go against departmental recommendations.

He claims that a body like the NSW ICAC would “usurp not only the proper process of democracy but of jurisprudence”, pointing to the “eviscerating, salacious expose´ into the personal life of Gladys Berejiklian”.

What the supporters of Saint Glad fail to admit is that she wasn’t being investigated for her choice of boyfriend, as ill-advised as it may have been. Ms Berejiklian chose to use public money to bolster the political fortunes of her secret lover, all the while not disclosing any conflict of interest.

Even more damning was the allegation that Ms Berejiklian was aware of the corrupt conduct of Mr McGuire, who has admitted using his position for personal gain, and did not report it as she is legally obliged to do.

It is telling that the NSW ICAC recently held a conference where pre-eminent members of the legal profession explained that pork-barrelling is, in fact, illegal despite what our politicians might think.

Constitutional law expert, Anne Twomey, told the forum “something I probably should not admit publicly” about previously being tasked with drafting a ministerial code of conduct while working in the legal branch of the NSW public service.

“We formed a beautiful one on the basis of best practice and it went to cabinet and I got called up to the cabinet door and they said, ‘nope we’re not doing any of that’,” she said, adding that a different code of conduct was “dictated to me from the cabinet room”.

“They didn’t want proper rules and restrictions on their powers in the code of conduct at all,” she said.

Which brings me back to Barnaby and why he might be worried.

For years, he has been doling out money hand over fist, often to people with connections to the Liberal or National parties, for water rights or dubious dams.

There was the Politics in the Pub night in Shepparton where Joyce promised irrigators more water from the Murray-Darling.

“We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show.”

He dismissed a Four Corners program about water theft as “them trying to take more water off you, trying to create a calamity.”

Never mind about fish kills and dried up rivers and towns with no drinking water.

Then there was ‘Watergate’ where Barnaby paid $80 million to a company with connections to Angus Taylor for worthless overland water flows.

Urannah dam is a whole other can of worms with hundreds of millions being funnelled to a company run by people with links to the LNP for a project facing serious questions about its economic benefit.

Likewise the Dungowan dam proposed for Barnaby’s own electorate, where he said he has “no real interest” in seeing the business case because “we’re not asking for a return”.

In March, Joyce promised $5.4 billion to build the Hells Gate dam on the Burdekin River despite there being no business case and no assessment of the environmental impacts yet.

Barnaby’s baby, the Inland Rail, also deserves scrutiny.

It’s time our politicians realised that public money is not theirs to dole out to mates or to use for their own political or personal benefit and if it takes a Federal ICAC to stop them, then bring it on – the sooner, the better.

 

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It is hard to fathom what a hateful place Australia has become

The last decade changed Australia.

We became a country who held asylum seekers hostage in concentration camps where they were regularly abused and offered no hope for the future. Various Australians were demonised – Muslims, those of Lebanese and African descent, the Chinese diaspora. The superiority of Western Christian civilisation was to be taught in schools.

We cut off services to remote Indigenous communities, unwilling to support their “lifestyle choices”, placed them on income management despite no evidence that it improved anything, took their children and locked up their youth in record numbers, some as young as ten years old, and rejected the invitation offered by the Uluru statement.

Our aged care system is in an appalling state. Lack of regulation and oversight has led to a private industry whose prime motive is profit rather than care. The heart-breaking stories from the Royal Commissions into the aged and disability care sectors should shame us all.

Prominent women have been bullied, harassed, intimidated, demeaned and silenced. Julia Gillard, Gillian Triggs, Yassmin Abdul-Magied, Christine Holgate, Sarah Hanson-Young have all been treated deplorably and it’s worth noting that Peter Dutton was one of the prime offenders.

During Dutton’s failed leadership coup against Turnbull, Liberal women were reduced to tears and threatened with the loss of their preselection. No-one denies this happened – many women spoke out at the time – but there were no consequences.

The rainbow community have been used as political footballs in the Coalition’s attempt to woo the religious vote. The country had publicly debated their right to marry, to study or work, to play sport, to aged care, to order a wedding cake or flowers, to pronouns – even where they go to the toilet had been endlessly pored over by conservative media.

The Coalition set about demonising and undermining unions in order to remove the ability of workers to have a collective voice. They have kept unemployment benefits below the poverty level and cut penalty rates to the lowest paid workers. Wages have stagnated whilst cost of living has soared.

We gave tax cuts and concessions to the wealthy and then, in the name of budget repair, illegally pursued welfare recipients for historical debts with the onus on them to prove they didn’t owe anything.

So much has been made by the government of the need for coal and gas to provide cheap reliable power, that they refuse to admit that it is our very reliance on these fuels that is driving up prices. We stupidly sold our resource development to foreign shareholders who then determine to whom they will sell and for how much. It’s all about profit and nothing about benefit for local consumers.

Supposedly fixing this would risk national sovereignty – investors would be wary, they say. I would suggest any slack left by fossil fuel investors would be quickly picked up by investment in renewable energy, storage and transmission. But that wouldn’t please Gina and Clive and a few coal miners in Queensland who want to keep their exorbitantly high-paying jobs.

Housing has become unaffordable, not because of a lack of supply, but because of tax concessions and low interest rates that have seen the market swamped by investors. A look at politicians’ property portfolios, Peter Dutton’s for example, may explain why they are so reluctant to change this.

We have fallen from a world leader in introducing a price on carbon to a pariah, labelled the Colossal Fossil for our resistance to any action on climate change. We are now a global leader in wildlife extinctions.

Water has become a commodity for the use of miners and large-scale irrigators, or for landowners to sell to the government. The abuse and corruption has been exposed many times, but still it continues as our waterways dry up, fish die, and towns truck in water to survive.

There is no better example of this than John Norman – a cotton farmer charged with defrauding the Murray-Darling plan of tens of millions of dollars and causing significant damage to neighbouring farms. His property was in David Littleproud’s electorate and he is Littleproud’s ex-wife’s cousin. Despite being charged in 2018, I can find no record of prosecution to date though it appears he may have sold his property along with its significant water allocation.

Barnaby Joyce and Angus Taylor are also up to their eyeballs in this. Tanya Plibersek will have an uphill battle trying to sort this mess out.

One of the most disturbing factors of the previous government was their increasing secrecy – refusing to release reports, shutting down FoI requests, employing consultants rather than using the public service, contracts awarded without tender. But what is most chilling has been their attacks on press freedom.

Journalists’ homes and offices have been raided and they have been threatened with prosecution or defamation suits. The ABC has had its funding cut and had countless complaints from government and endless inquiries into its supposed bias, all concluding it is not. Respected journalists like Emma Alberici and Nick Ross have been sacked because the government didn’t like what they wrote.

We have had to have spelled out to politicians that pork-barrelling is, in fact, illegal – something they refuse to accept. The arrogance of government using public money for political gain, or the enrichment of associates, has become so entrenched that they believe it a legitimate right of power.

Bestowing positions as rewards for party loyalty rather than on merit and expertise is endemic. Appointing Sophie Mirabella to the Fair Work Commission in the dying days of government, a job she will hold until age 65 at a huge salary, was a prime example of this. They also gifted her husband Greg a senate seat in Victoria. Sophie has always had an eye for the prize.

Universities have also been under attack – locked out from Jobkeeper assistance, no foreign students, funding cuts, interference in research grants and courses, demeaned as out-of-touch indulgent “elites”. Anti-intellectual, anti-science rhetoric has emboldened climate change deniers and anti-vaxxers – groups the government actively supported and pursued.

We have become a hateful place over the last decade – suspicious of each other, greedy, unprincipled, uncaring, focused only on what’s in it for me.

The election showed the country is ready for a reset. It will be up to all of us to be part of that. We can and must do better.

 

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Meet Sky After Dark’s Voice to Parliament

Newly elected senator for the NT, Jacinta Price, told Sky’s Paul Murray that she is “feeling really strong” and ready to “get out there and fight” for Australians.

“Australia will soon realise that they’ve just elected our Joe Biden to run the country and they’re just going to have to learn the hard way. But I’m certainly going to be there to hold them to account and to help pick up the pieces once we have to.”

So much for constructive conciliation.

In fact, it’s hard to see how having Ms Price in parliament will be in any way constructive.

She dismisses the Apology, the Voice, the Uluru Statement, the Aboriginal flag, Acknowledgement of Country, and changing Australia Day as divisive hollow symbolism, pointless window-dressing, ignorant woke virtue-signalling of the urban left.

She is a supporter of the NT Intervention and the Indue cashless welfare card.

Ms Price, a campaigner against family violence, claims that Indigenous culture is used as a shield for abusers arguing that domestic violence is an innate and accepted part of Indigenous culture in remote communities.

She is a firm proponent of placing Indigenous children in out-of-home care, arguing that the spectre of a “second stolen generation” has stopped politicians from taking the decisive action needed to protect communities.

Men should get a job and kids should go to school. Young offenders should be punished and children taken from families who don’t live up to expectations. Welfare money should be administered by someone more responsible. Easy.

Because punishment and paternalism has worked so well in the past, we just need more of it.

Ms Price doesn’t speak about preventative programs or rehabilitation. She doesn’t talk about making the curriculum relevant or offer any ideas about Indigenous employment. She seems to set little store in family and connection to country. She doesn’t seem to think that pride and self-determination form part of empowerment.

On April 27, Ms Price published a letter on the NT Independent.

It begins “Welcome ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls! A special welcome to the lefties doing opposition research who may have been offended by my introduction.”

This was a barb directed at the NT government’s “Diverse sex, sexuality and gender identity in schools” draft guidelines which said “using gendered language such as ‘girls and boys’ or ‘ladies and gentlemen’ confirms stereotyping and roles… and can be alienating”.

The draft also recommended some non-gendered teams and sporting activities where possible to reduce the withdrawal of transgender and gender-diverse children from sport.

Ms Price was not impressed, claiming that Labor and the Greens only “care about pushing their own Marxist ideology, and removing all rights from women and giving them to men playing dress up.”

She then launched into an impassioned defence of Katherine Deves.

“Liberal Candidate for Warringah Katherine Deves is being slandered for trying to protect women’s sports (a topic left-wing activists claim isn’t even a real issue).

They’ll condemn Katherine, try to silence and intimidate her in Sydney, claim it’s not even an issue worth discussing, meanwhile they’re off doing the very thing she’s warning us about!

The Gynophobic attacks on Katherine Deves must stop.

She is standing up for all women. She is standing up for our daughters, nieces, sisters, wives, mothers and granddaughters whose rights are literally under attack from the left’s Marxist ideology.

They want to silence her and bully her into submission. They’re trying to make an example out of her so no one else dares fight back.

We have fought for decades for our rights and now they’re under attack.

But women won’t be silenced.

We won’t forfeit our hard earned rights to this new wave of misogyny – even if it does come wearing a dress.

When I get to Canberra, you can bet I’ll work to protect your rights. And the rights of women like Katherine Deves who get up and say what needs to be said.

You can bet I’ll be supporting Senator Claire Chandler’s Save Women’s Sport Bill.

And you can bet that when the left’s wokeness and political correctness go too far, I’ll be there standing in the way.

Yours for REAL solutions,

Jacinta Nampijinpa Price”

Perhaps Jacinta needs to spend less time listening to Sky After Dark.

 

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Australia must get real about reducing emissions

From the get-go, Australia has used every trick in the book to avoid any meaningful contribution to the global effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Under Kyoto, each nation was assigned a target – measured against the nation’s specific baseline of emissions produced in 1990. Our negotiators argued that our dependence on fossil fuels and energy-intensive exports meant cutting emissions would be difficult and negotiated that, instead of reducing our emissions, we would limit the increase to 8% above 1990 levels by 2012.

We also demanded the inclusion of what has come to be known as ‘the Australia clause’ which allows Annex I parties to include greenhouse gas emissions from land use change in 1990-base year calculations. This is important for Australia because, in 1990, national forestry and land clearing activities represented net sources of emissions. Reducing these activities from what they were in 1990 therefore counts as an emission reduction, without actually reducing direct emissions.

Forest clearing in Australia plummeted after 1990, when Queensland enacted tough new land clearing laws. So including deforestation emissions in Australia’s baseline meant we would never really struggle to meet – or as it turned out, beat – our targets. In fact, the rule effectively rewarded Australia for its mass deforestation in 1990.

The latest quarterly report shows that, if we exclude these dubious LULUCF reductions, we have actually increased emissions by over 15% since 1990.

As it turned out, we overshot our 2012 ambition, increasing our emissions by 3% rather than 8%. Any surplus emissions reduction in the first Kyoto period could be carried over to the second period, from 2013 to 2020, though several countries voluntarily cancelled their surplus credits. We did not.

The 2012 Doha Amendment, where the baseline year is 1990, set Australia’s 2020 target as a 0.5% reduction in emissions. The Abbott government redefined this to a 5% reduction on 2000 levels including the carry-over from the earlier period.

Changing the base year is another sneaky trick from the government to look like we are doing something when we are not.

Our commitment to the Paris agreement was for our 2030 emissions to be 26-28% below 2005 levels. To illustrate the difference that the change of base year to 2005 makes, the latest report states that Australia’s annual emissions for the year to September 2021 are estimated to be 10.1% below emissions in the year to September 2000 and 19.821% below emissions in the year to September 2005. Hey presto.

Nothing epitomises the Coalition’s fruitless time in government more than the spin they have put on emissions reduction.

Fiddle the books, throw in some slogans, hold up a brochure, claim credit for what others are doing, cast doubt on the experts, bleat about how disastrous it would be to actually do anything – all whilst vehemently saying that you won’t be lectured to by unelected faceless bureaucrats as you do the bidding of fossil fuel lobbyists and donors.

The people have elected a parliament with a clear mandate to take urgent action on climate change. The government must heed our voices and increase their ambition.

It’s time to get real.

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The day Australia “woke” up

For the last few years, a strange phenomenon has pervaded political discussion in Australia, mainly led by middle-aged, often religious, white men.

The term “woke” became the conservative pejorative of choice.

Action on climate change was “woke”. Protection of the rights of the rainbow community was “woke”. Indigenous recognition was “woke”.

Addressing inequality, corruption, women’s issues, multiculturalism, welfare – all “woke”.

In fact, anything that threatened the power and wealth of white Christian men was dismissed as “woke”.

Hearing people like George Pell and Tony Abbott misuse an African-American slang term just sounds ridiculous.

According to Merriam-Webster, “woke” means “aware of and actively attentive to important facts and issues (especially issues of racial and social justice).”

Since when did this become a bad thing?

In March last year, the SMH published an article titled ‘It’s our turn’: Inside the Christian Right conference plotting a political takeover

The article covered the “Church and State” conference held in Brisbane the previous weekend and how conservative Christian activists are attempting to grow their numbers and influence within the Coalition, and their belief that opposition to transgender rights would be key to their political success.

Speakers included George Pell, the Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles, Nationals Senator Matt Canavan and Liberal National MP George Christensen. In the past, the summit has featured Murdoch scribbler Miranda Divine and Liberal Senator Amanda Stoker.

The ACL director spoke at length about what he called “the transgender thing”, describing it as the weakest part of the LGBTQI rights movement because it was “where the lie is most fragile”. He said governments had “given up [their] God-given duty” to “punish those who do evil and reward those who do good”, and implied that behaviour viewed by the church as sinful should be outlawed. He also claimed that within a few years there will be enough of a Christian presence in parliament to send a “shockwave” through it.

Iles recounted a comment by his father that we needed “a good war” to sort this out because society would not be so concerned about climate change or gender identity if we were at war with China.

And it sure looks like the Morrison government heeded his advice, pre-selecting the odious Katherine Deves, drawing a “red line” in the Pacific, and telling us, on ANZAC day of all days, that we must prepare for war with China.

At the behest of this crowd, Morrison reinvigorated his push for a religious freedoms bill which provides those of faith with the means to discriminate against anyone on the basis of sex, sexuality, gender, race or disability if they can justify their discriminating behaviour in the name of their religion, or more specifically Christianity.

Stories of the infiltration of branches of the Coalition by the religious far right abound which may go a long way towards explaining why they failed so spectacularly at this election. The party members are not representative of broader Australia.

Morrison said in his first speech to parliament that Australia was not a secular country. He ignored the wishes of his electorate by abstaining from the vote on marriage equality. He “laid hands” on bushfire victims. And he promoted and surrounded himself with fellow Pentecostals like Alex Hawke, Stuart Robert and Ben Morton.

On Saturday, Australia rejected this march of the religious right to take over our parliament. They chose science over faith and compassion over coercion.

May 21, 2022, was the day Australia “woke” up.

 

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Dutton is not what this country needs, even in Opposition

If Peter Dutton is the best the Liberals can offer as an alternative Prime Minister, then they are destined to become irrelevant in modern day Australia.

As Australians voted overwhelmingly for greater action on climate change, a move welcomed around the world, we look set to get an Opposition leader who cracks jokes about Pacific Islands being inundated by rising seas.

As momentum grows for Indigenous recognition, they look set to elect a leader who boycotted the Apology to the Stolen Generation.

With violence against women and children a major focus, we will be lumbered with a man who suggested that female refugees were “trying it on” by making claims they had been raped. A man who said he didn’t know the “she said, he said” details of Brittany Higgins’ allegation of rape. A man who lied about the cause of riots on Manus, incorrectly implying asylum seekers may have molested a young local boy. A man who texted his support to a colleague stood down for sexual harassment describing a female journalist as a “mad fucking witch”.

Before the 2016 election Dutton said of refugees “many … won’t be numerate or literate in their own language let alone English”, and “These people would be taking Australian jobs”. He went on to say that Malcolm Fraser was wrong to allow Lebanese Muslims to migrate to Australia because it was their grandchildren committing terrorist acts in Australia.

Changing targets, Dutton then said that people in Melbourne were scared of going out because of “gang violence” involving African Australians. He bought into the white genocide conspiracy by declaring Afrikaners required refugee status in Australia because of the “the horrific circumstances they face” in South Africa, offering fast-track visas to white South African farmers, claiming they needed help from a “civilised” country.

With Scott Morrison suggesting that he should have shown more empathy as PM, we are now being offered a man who described the children of the Biloela family as “anchor babies” and blamed the family for the millions that have been spent by the government to continue their persecution.

Dutton also said that climate protesters that disrupted traffic should have their names and photos distributed widely “so that we shame these people”, that they should receive mandatory sentences, be cut off from any form of social security and be forced to pay for the police response.

Dutton’s MO is to belittle as in his attack on Queensland Deputy Premier Stephen Miles.

“On a daily basis now, Mr Miles goes out and frankly makes a fool of himself in front of the press. He’s done it again today. It is like watching a juvenile go out there on a university campus and engage in university politics. He is supposed to be the Health Minister and Deputy Treasurer – Deputy Premier of this state and he is acting like a school child.”

When 31 CEOs signed a letter to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull calling for a free vote in the Australian Parliament on same-sex marriage, Dutton responded by saying that the CEOs “shouldn’t shove their views down our throats” and that CEOs who were “doing the wrong thing” should “be publicly shamed” and that they should “stick to their knitting”.

In a 2015 poll by Australian Doctor magazine, based on votes from over 1,100 doctors, Dutton was voted the worst health minister in the last 35 years by 46 percent of respondents. His departments of Home Affairs and Defence have been the subject of countless damning reviews from the Auditor General, often citing a lack of leadership.

Despite his demonstrated incompetence, Peter has done very well for himself accumulating a large property portfolio which no doubt contributes to his opposition to reining in property tax concessions like negative gearing.

He likes being able to help his mates out too, as we saw with his decision to ignore departmental advice and override immigration laws to get their illegally arrived au pairs out of detention.

In recent times, Dutton has shown he is willing to jeopardise our national security for domestic political gain.

On China, WA Premier Mark McGowan said “All this rhetoric by Mr Dutton is just politics, and his language around war and ‘we’ve got to be prepared to fight’, all this sort of stuff that’s gone on for the last year, is highly dangerous. It’s against the national interest, and it’s actually inflammatory and unnecessary, and I just think he’s the biggest threat to national security.”

Dutton is a mean-spirited man with no vision beyond his own self-interest. As McGowan also observed, he’s not that smart.

It seems hard to believe that a party trying to regain the votes they lost in this election rout would think Dutton the man for the job. I can only presume that he is being set up as an interim fall guy. If not. the Liberal party has truly lost the plot.

 

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