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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 will we pay for this? Vote Labor

Before the last election, Labor detailed a suite of policies that Josh Frydenberg said would amount to $387 billion in “new taxes” over the next decade.

Like everything Josh Frydenberg says, this was a lie.

$230 billion of this figure came from Labor’s opposition to the Coalition’s plan to raise the 19% tax bracket threshold from $41,000 to $45,000 from 2022, then flatten tax brackets from 2024 so all taxpayers earning between $45,000 and $200,000 pay a marginal rate of 30%.

The foolishness of locking in tax cuts years in advance is now being rammed home.  Labor sensibly said at the time that we should wait to see how the economy was faring to see if we could afford it.

Opposing tax cuts can hardly be described as “new taxes”.

The next largest revenue measure was $57 billion from ending taxpayer funded cash rebates for self-funded retirees  with excess franking credits.  This does not amount to anyone paying more tax.  It just means the tax paid by companies would actually go to the government rather than being handed back as a gift to shareholders who pay no tax (pensioners excluded).

Labor also looked to raise $34bn through changes to superannuation tax concessions including lowering the high income super contribution threshold to $200,000 and lowering the annual non-concessional contributions cap to $75,000.

An end to negative gearing for existing properties – the ability to claim a tax deduction from a loss-making investment property (grandfathered so existing investors are not impacted) – and halving the capital tax gains concession from 50% to 25% for assets purchased after 1 January 2020, would have raised another $31 billion.  Negative gearing deductions would still apply to new properties thus helping to encourage construction.

Labor wanted to raise $27 billion by imposing a standard minimum 30% tax rate on discretionary/family trust distributions, which are often used by wealthy Australians to minimise their tax.  You would be hard pressed to find a Coalition politician who does not use this tax loophole.

Another $6.5 billion would be raised by extending Abbott’s deficit levy, effectively increasing the top marginal rate to 47%.

Capping deductions for accountants’ fees and managing tax affairs would raise another $2 billion.  It is particularly galling to see very wealthy people pay accountants millions to reduce their taxable income to nothing.

These were all responsible suggestions aimed at getting rich people to pay their share – something that will never happen under a Coalition government.

You can be certain that, when we come out the other side of this crisis, it will be the little people who will be hit again with austerity measures and attacks on welfare whilst the wealthy will have all their loopholes fiercely protected.

Or we can vote Labor.

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When we come out the other side of this crisis, will we have learned anything?

My father always said every experience in life, good or bad, teaches you something.  But are we willing to learn?

Will we have realised the value of investing in research?

Will we have conceded that people can’t live on $40 a day?

Will we recognise that education is an investment rather than a cost?

Will we understand that providing affordable childcare keeps the economy running?

Will we listen to experts?

Will we value nurses and teachers and aged/child care workers and cleaners and supermarket shelf stockers and delivery drivers for the crucial roles they play?

Will we be willing to mobilise resources to address the existential threat posed by climate change?

Will we get that amassing obscene wealth does not make you invulnerable?

Will we all be willing to contribute according to our means to create a safe and equitable society for all?

Will we stop the puerile partisan abuse and prioritise people and a healthy planet over profit?

We will have a choice when this is over – compassionate capitalism or a catastrophic “snap back” to the failed neoliberal ideologies of the past.

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The consequences of Coalition penny-pinching

In 2014, when the Abbott government slashed funding to the CSIRO, one of the affected research bodies was the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, the country’s only facility capable of working with live samples of some of the most deadly diseases, including Ebola and MERS.

At the time, experts warned that this short-sightedness posed a great risk to Australia.

Director of Queensland University’s Australian Infectious Disease Research Centre Mark Walker said “Funding cuts will leave the nation exposed to new and emerging infectious disease agents.  The country requires this type of expertise, as we don’t know which new virus will be a major health threat. It could be Ebola, or it could be something completely different.”

Former Australian of the Year and Nobel Laureate, Peter Doherty, described the AAHL as “an absolutely unique facility in south-east Asia,’’ and warned that Australia’s ‘‘scientifically illiterate government’’ risked losing talent to other countries, such as Singapore, which were investing in research.

A 2017 review of Australia’s biosecurity system said “the efforts of biosecurity agencies are hampered by eroding biosecurity budgets, declining and uneven capability and expertise across the jurisdictions, leadership churn (ministerial and executive), patchy coverage by formal institutions and a lack of codified practices.”

And now we are witnessing the consequences of the arrogance of politicians who ignore expert advice, be it action on climate change, water management, bushfire preparedness or global pandemics.

The Coalition government does not deserve praise for belatedly reacting to disasters that could have been foreseen or prepared for.  We must not forget the part that their hubris has played in placing this country at grave risk.

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The time for partisan bullshit is over, Josh – give it up

Less than four weeks ago, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg was still singing his own praises:

“Australia approaches the challenges ahead from a position of economic strength with the Coalition Government’s economic plan and responsible budget management contributing to the resilience of the Australian economy.”

Under the Coalition’s “responsible budget management”, net debt has increased from $161,253 million at 31 August 2013, a week before the election, to $424,164 million at the end of February this year.

Remember when the Coalition screamed blue murder about Labor increasing the debt ceiling to $300 billion?

Well, gross debt as of the end of last week was $579.2b with another $4.1 billion of AGS to be issued this week alone.

Before the bushfires and coronavirus hit, the economy was weak.

Real GDP grew by 1.9 per cent in 2018-19, softer than the 3 per cent growth forecast in the 2018-19 Budget, and the Wage Price Index increased by 2.3 per cent, below the 2¾ per cent growth forecast in the 2018-19 Budget.

Job creation was only keeping up with population increase and underemployment was emerging as a significant problem.

When asked by Leigh Sales about how the Coalition had blasted Labor’s stimulus package during the GFC, Frydenberg replied that he is “not looking backwards” – there will be no admitting fault.

Still stuck in slogan land, Coalition language is changing.

We have gone from a “targeted, modest and scalable” response to “targeted, measured and scalable” and now Frydenberg is calling for “quick, strong and co-ordinated action” from the G20 countries.

The self-satisfied smirks, the ridiculing of the idea of well-being, and the draconian persecution of the unemployed have disappeared.

After more than a decade of their bullshit, all of a sudden, “we are all in this together”.

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Peter Dutton is NOT the man we need in this crisis

Peter Dutton just can’t help himself.  Appearing on 2GB this morning in his regular chum session with Ray Hadley, he has made the most outrageous claims.

Speaking about the docking of the Ruby Princess in Sydney, Dutton said he would not get into a political game or “hang anyone out to dry” whilst then going on to say that the person in NSW Health that made the decision to allow the passengers to disembark would “have to live with that mistake”.

This was in response to that fool Hadley suggesting that “someone died, because of a decision taken by a public servant, or by someone in government, and that person needs to be held accountable for that death.”

What an utterly ridiculous irresponsible thing to say.  No public servant was responsible for people on that ship getting sick.  Certainly, the decision to allow them to disembark unchecked was a mistake.  To suggest they are responsible for the death of someone who contracted the virus onboard is wrong and pointless.

Dutton went on to contradict his own ABF Commissioner by saying that Australia was dealing with a “difficult situation” because of ‘lies’.

“Some cruise ships are lying about the state of passengers” said the man who chose to fly overseas in the midst of the crisis, not in any way enforce his own personal hygiene and social distancing, then go to a gym when he got home and spread the disease he had contracted.

When I rang the Minister’s office to express my concern, they hung up on me.  Sure, they are busy, but Dutton seemed to find the time to pass on misinformation on 2GB.

We cannot afford idiots to be giving out the wrong information or for politicians to be wasting everyone’s time looking for someone to blame.

But that is all Dutton is capable of.

As queues of travellers arriving from overseas formed at Sydney airport this morning, Border Force operatives were asked why social distancing was not being enforced.  The reply was “not our problem, that’s biosecurity.”

If I allowed people to cram in like that to my business, I would face hefty fines and possible jail time.

Dutton is incapable of dealing with this.  Shut the fool up.

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Learning the hard way

Many of us have felt the anger, frustration and fear caused by our government’s inaction on climate change.  Many more of us have felt the devastating consequences of the drought, bushfires, storms, floods, heatwaves and water shortages.  Our country is so large that we can be experiencing all these things at the same time.

Scientists’ increasingly strident warnings have been ignored in favour of greed.  ScottyFromMarketing went with “I will not take any action because I cannot look Australians in the eye and tell them how much it will cost and what it will mean for their jobs.”

Seemingly miffed at being ignored, Mother Nature decided to up the ante and send us the corona virus to remind us that there are more important things than a surplus.

All of a sudden, when the rich and powerful find themselves equally vulnerable, advice from scientists is paramount.  We will listen to them and spend whatever it takes to deal with this crisis.

All of a sudden, the value of early preventative action and mitigation is being stressed.  No-one is suggesting there have always been viruses and we should just adapt.

All of a sudden, the stock market is revealed for the hollow construct that it is.  One speech by that fool in the White House wipes trillions of dollars away in an instant.

We are being forcibly made to rethink our values and, so far, we are not covering ourselves in glory with our generosity and concern for others.

We are being made to realise the down side of globalisation and the loss of domestic  industries and manufacturing.  The obsession with maximising profit has diminished our capacity and resilience and has made us dependent on a world that is a long way away.

Privatisation has delivered profits to shareholders but has exposed industries to risk that the taxpayer is now having to bail them out from.

I wonder if the wealthy rue their tax avoidance when it leaves us with over-worked under-equipped hospitals?

We will get past COVID19 but, unless we learn some lessons about curbing our greed, listening to experts, and mitigating risk, this current crisis is just a taste of things to come.  The disasters and deprivation caused by a hotter planet could cause global anarchy.  As we line up hoping we can buy a few potatoes, people in the US are lining up to buy guns.

Can the world heed the cleansing of the temple?  Can we learn there are more important things than wealth?  Can we change our priorities from profit to sustainability?  Can we learn to share?

Or will future wealth be measured in toilet rolls and bullets?

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Here’s a thought

With school holidays coming up, parents must already have in place plans about what they are going to do with their children.

As it seems inevitable that things will get worse, why not go into lockdown for the two or three weeks of the holidays over Easter and Anzac Day which also equates to the required isolation period?

Surely that would slow the transmission rate?

Do it now when it can still make a difference.

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The last year has highlighted how paltry our government is

Whether it is reef bleaching, mass fish kills, drought, the bushfires, the urgent need for emissions reduction, the need for fiscal stimulus, or the response to the corona virus, our government has been found lacking.

So used are they to playing the game of “brutal retail politics”, they are completely unprepared to do what is needed.

The opposition to carbon pricing was madness.  Everybody agrees it is the cheapest way to reduce emissions and the best way to encourage research and development.  We had a system in place that was working to reduce emissions with no negative impact on the economy – we kept growing at a better rate than recent years.

Now, instead, we are throwing money at lifelines for the fossil fuel industry with research into producing dirty hydrogen using brown coal with unproven carbon capture and storage technology.  We are looking into new coal-fired power plants and to ramp up gas mining.  And we stubbornly persist in handing over billions in fossil fuel subsidies.

Likewise, the opposition to renewable energy has been hugely irresponsible.  Installing Angus Taylor as energy minister showed what little regard the government has for this evolving industry.

As reported at the time,

“Taylor has been a trenchant opponent of the federal Renewable Energy Target and wind farms ever since one was built next door to his family property near Cooma in the rich farmlands of southern NSW.  He helped spill Malcolm Turnbull and kill the National Energy Guarantee and its emissions target, just as he helped kill former Chief Scientist Alan Finkel’s Clean Energy Target.”

Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef, Warren Entsch, submitted a report in December last year (unlike our Special Envoy for Drought, who was too busy trying to get a pay rise to bother).

“Climate Change continues to be the biggest threat to the Reef and while people are entitled to a different opinion on the topic, there are fundamental facts that we must acknowledge and grapple with. There is broad consensus that human induced warming presents significant challenges to ecosystems and economies alike. Australia has a significant role to play from a global perspective. Many continue to argue that we represent only roughly 1.5 per cent share of global emissions. While that is indeed the case, if we use this metric as a rationale for reduced action on domestic emissions and other countries who have a similar share of emissions (less than 2 per cent) take the same view—it is equivalent to abdicating responsibility of roughly 40 per cent of global emissions. While everyone loves to point the finger at China and other large emitters, the reality is that we all have a role to play in addressing this issue.”

Needless to say, it received no coverage.

As for Barnaby, the former chair of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority said “it was my observation and impression that the MDBA’s direction changed when Barnaby Joyce became minister for agriculture and water resources. At that time it appeared to me that the MDBA shifted its approach further towards irrigation interests.”

He also slammed the authority’s decision not to take account of the 2012 Barwon-Darling water-sharing plan put in place by ex NSW minister and failed Nationals candidate for Gilmore, Katrina Hodgkinson, which has allowed irrigators to pump environmental flows travelling down the river during low flows.

The ongoing investigation by the Auditor-General into some very dubious water buyback decisions, and by police into the fraudulent rorting of the Healthy Headwaters program, promise to reveal just how disastrous it was putting someone like Barnaby in charge.

We have heard for months now how the government ignored urgent warnings about the upcoming catastrophic bushfire season and we watched in horror the consequences of their inaction and the ham-fisted inadequacy of their belated reaction.

And then the corona virus hit.

We don’t need fiscal stimulus.  Oops, yes we do.

We won’t give cash handouts.  Hang on, yes we will.

I’m going to the football.  Ok, maybe not.

I don’t need to self-isolate or get tested despite having been sitting next to a guy who has a confirmed case.  I don’t need to stop shaking hands.  That’s just for other people.

Photo opportunities and cosy chats on 2GB and Sky After Dark do not equate to governing.

Going on their record so far, does anyone trust this government to handle this situation?

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Can we tell the truth yet?

In October last year, Josh Frydenberg said “calls from Labor for a GFC-type stimulus are just ridiculous.”

“There is a spending story that is underway across the economy but it’s very targeted and it’s in the areas that need it most.  And it’s not a scattergun approach where you write cheques willy-nilly to the last person who asked you.”

Josh said what was needed was long-term structural reform to boost competition, cut red tape and reform workplace relations.

That’s the sort of stuff Liberal treasurers always say – it’s the IPA mantra.

Five months later, with the uber-confident grin fading, Josh was sticking to the “Labor bad” line.

“We won’t repeat the mistakes of the past with cash splashes,” Frydenberg told Sky News – a week before announcing a $750 payment to welfare recipients.

It is ironic that the government is being praised for leadership when they have actually realised they are entirely out of their depth and handed over the reins to medical and financial experts rather than the marketing crew.

The maladministration of funds through grants systems and the inability to disperse relief funds in a timely manner are the consequences of purging the public service of those with the experience and know-how to administer programs.

How many times must it be shown that the Minister does not know best?

If I believed in some guiding supernatural force, I would suggest they are trying to tell us something.  Personally, I prefer the scientists who are most definitely trying to tell us something.

Liberal governments have enjoyed the good times that have led to them being full of political animals and fundraisers.  Winning elections by whatever means has been the goal.

In the George Winterton Lecture in 2012, Malcolm Turnbull said:

“How often do we hear Australian politicians discuss these challenges in a genuinely open, honest, spin-free and non-adversarial way? Where the intention is to clearly explain the problem, accept responsibility for past misteps if appropriate (rather than apportion as much blame as possible to the other side), allow a non-ideological discussion of possible remedies, and see if there is any common ground for bipartisan work?

Seldom, and even more rarely if a camera is rolling.”

Far from claiming credit, it has taken a global pandemic to expose the shallowness of our supposed leaders.  All the things they railed against, they are now being forced to concede are necessary – renewable energy, emissions reduction, water management, fiscal stimulus, increased hospital funding, boost to welfare payments, a deficit budget and increased debt, increased preparedness to tackle bushfires, money to keep people employed (though how successful those measures will be is questionable).

Free trade agreements aren’t much use when there is no international trade.

Perhaps they will finally realise that there are better people to advise them than the Murdoch press and conservative “think tanks”.

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When slogans won’t cut it anymore

When Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg suddenly found themselves leaders of the government, they couldn’t hide their delight. The smirks turned into shit-eating grins.

As he launched the election campaign a few months later, Scotty began with “How good is mum? How good is Jenny?”

His victory speech a week later was more of the same.

“How good is Australia! How good are Australians! Thank you!”

Even as the country burned, Scotty was asking “How good is the cricket?”

From the time the Coalition came to power, they have had a relatively easy ride.

Disasters elsewhere delivered a much higher iron ore price than expected. Company profits delivered a budget boost.

The casualisation of the workforce has meant they can boast of more people in jobs, hiding the real problem of underemployment and insecure jobs. And all they have done really is keep up with population growth. Wage stagnation has become a persistent problem despite their claims of low unemployment.

They “stopped the boats” from landing in Australia but thousands of people still drown in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. “Queue jumpers” who are in a position to get a visa and get themselves on a plane are arriving in their droves. Despite the tough talk, the people smugglers have just changed their business plan. Meanwhile, people still languish in immigration detention and camps and nothing is being done to stem the worldwide tide of refugees.

They “axed the tax” which also stopped the decline in emissions. And electricity prices continue to rise. Private investment in research and development has fallen dramatically. Instead of polluters finding ways to reduce their emissions, we pay farmers to not cut trees down and to reduce herd sizes during drought.

Infrastructure spending keeps getting announced and then re-announced and then re-re-announced. Very little actually gets started let alone finishing anything. We have feasibility studies galore but little real action.

Scotty assured “quiet Australians” that, “if they have a go, they’ll get a go”, whatever the hell that means.

The “debt and deficit disaster” is over, Josh and Scotty tell us, now that we are “back in black” and “Labor’s debt” will be repaid in a decade by the Coalition’s surplus budgets.  Except they are about to deliver their seventh deficit and the debt has more than doubled under their watch.

After cruising along, wasting money on pork-barrelling rorts and political advertising and countless reports and inquiries, they are now being asked to actually govern.

2019 was the hottest and driest year on record. The drought has savaged large parts of Australia and rivers and dams have dried up. The catastrophic bushfires that experts had been warning about (whilst being ignored) eventuated, devastating so many communities and so much wildlife and their habitat.  When rain did come, it came in the form of terrible storms causing widespread damage and flooding.

And then the coronavirus hit.

Finally, it seems they have been jolted out of their lethargy to realise that slogans and blaming Labor just won’t cut it anymore. A surplus is no longer a Holy Grail and stimulus is no longer a dirty word.

But can these arrogant entitled people, so used to behaving like an Opposition, step up and do the job they are paid for rather than just a marketing campaign?  Can they listen to experts? Can they admit we have problems? Can they stop passing the buck and actually lead?

That remains to be seen.

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The shameless perfidy of Scott Morrison’s latest claims about emissions reduction

The Liar from the Shire has sunk to new depths – ok, maybe not new – with his ridiculous claim that “Emissions today are 50 million tonnes less on average each year under our government than under the previous government.”

This crap should be used in school maths classes as an example of how data can be manipulated to mislead.

The latest release tracking Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions includes a table of emissions for each financial year.

Emissions to the end of June 2007 were 627.0 Mt CO2-e.  Six years later, they were 537.6, and 533.9 a year after that when the carbon price was repealed in 2014.

In the year ending September 30, 2019, they were 530.8.

To save you doing the sums, under Labor policies, emissions reduced by over 93 Mt CO2-e.  Since the Coalition “axed the tax” almost six years ago, emissions have reduced by about 3 Mt CO2-e.

But hey ScottyFromMarketing, run with that line if you want.  Get Angus to say it too.

Because we ALL know how trustworthy you two are.

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Speaking of rorts…

Eleven days before the election last May, Scott Morrison announced $15 million to extend a program to build regional study centres in country towns.

The project, Country Universities Centres, was initially proposed by Duncan Taylor, the brother of the federal energy minister, Angus Taylor, when Duncan’s wife, NSW Nationals state upper house MP Bronwyn Taylor, was parliamentary secretary to John Barilaro, the Nationals state leader and deputy premier.

Despite a cost-benefit analysis showing the project would be unlikely to deliver a positive benefit to the state, the NSW government handed over $16 million – $8 million in 2017-18 and another $8 million in 2019.  The grants were awarded without tender.

Bronwyn Taylor has insisted she had nothing to do with the grants yet emails have revealed she was informed about it minutes after the decision was made which caused NSW Labor to ask the pertinent question in Senate estimates:

“You said you had no involvement but you were informed three weeks before the grant is announced. If you weren’t lobbying and engaging behind the scenes why were you told about it?”

The CUCs had previously received $5.1m funding in 2018 from the federal government, including $830,000 for a centre in Goulburn in the seat of Hume, the seat of Angus Taylor, whose wife, Louise Clegg, is on the board of the Goulburn CUC.

In New South Wales the centres have been largely located in seats that coincidentally are under pressure from minor parties, like the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers, or independents.

The $15 million handed over during the federal election campaign was for five new centres, only one of which had been decided upon at the time.  It just so happened to be in the seat of Indi where the Coalition were trying to wrest the seat back from the independents.

Once again, we see Coalition governments using public money to shore up their political fortunes and, once again, the Taylor family are the recipients of government largesse.

In fact:

“From the time Angus Taylor entered parliament in September 2013, companies & organisations the Taylor family have managed, directed or are directly associated with have benefited from over $93,515,673 in federal & state government funds.”

It pays to have friends and relatives in high places.

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Who do you trust? Not you, FauxMo

When Scott Morrison launched the 2019 election campaign – six days before the election to maximise campaign funding being paid from the public rather than party purse – how good was everything.

How good’s mum?  How good’s Jenny?  How good’s family?  How good am I?

“Our government has restored our nation’s finances. We have turned that around. We have kept our AAA credit rating. We have handed down, well done Josh and the entire team, the first Budget surplus in more than a decade — back in the black,” claimed FauxMo in an embarrassing display of premature congratulation.

That was about as truthful as when he put his arm around Malcolm Turnbull – something he has a bad habit of doing – and brazenly said “I’m ambitious for this guy,” as his numbers men were scurrying around the halls drumming up support.  Only it wasn’t for Malcolm.

ScottyFromMarketing has no problem telling lies if he thinks it will advance his cause.  Like all ad men, he wants to manipulate public opinion.

When in Opposition, he suggested, as a campaign strategy, capitalising on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.  When confronted about that last year, Scotty said he wanted to “address fears, not exploit them”.  Uh huh….

During his time as Immigration Minister, Morrison showed little regard for the truth and no empathy for the people under his care.

He summarily dismissed the AHRC report on the Forgotten Children in offshore immigration detention with a vicious personal attack on Gillian Triggs.

He wrongly accused Save the Children staff of coaching children to self-harm, leading to them being deported.  When his own commissioned reports showed he was wrong, and that the government had ordered the dismissals for political reasons “on no evidence or reliable information”, the government had to pay out millions in compensation and legal fees.

FauxMo also lied about the murder of Reza Berati at the hands of the people we pay to care for asylum seekers.

As soon as he was made Minister for Social Services, Morrison said the government would have to cut welfare spending in order to pay for the ‘unfunded’ NDIS.  That’s the NDIS that Australians pay an extra 0.5% Medicare levy to help fund, the NDIS that the government underspent $4.6 billion on last financial year in order to deliver their ‘balanced’ (a mere $700 million in deficit, not worth mentioning) budget.

As Treasurer, Scott Morrison slammed Bill Shorten’s call for a banking royal commission as a “populist whinge” and a “reckless political game”, voting against it 26 times.

After his successful coup to get the top job – and no Scott, we don’t believe your hands are clean in that tawdry affair – Morrison silenced complaints from women in his party about bullying during the leadership tussle.  Linda Reynolds’ call for people to be held to account disappeared with her promotion.

ProMo has become increasingly secretive to the point where he didn’t even tell us he was leaving the country.  He dismisses as gossip his invitation to a man who covered up child sex abuse to be his guest at a dinner at the White House  – except it’s true.

Morrison has revelled in using public funds for his ad campaigns, be they on television or by way of grants rorting.

It is obvious from the evidence into the sports rorts affair that Bridget McKenzie did as she was instructed to do by the PM’s office.  Being the man he is, Scotty made her the sacrificial lamb on a minor technicality whilst completely denying his own role in determining where, moreso than who, would get the grants.

Michael Pascoe writes in the New Daily about 11 federal programs totalling $8.1 billion that have serious question marks – or worse – over their ethics, probity and basic governance.

For ScottyFromMarketing, the corona virus has been a godsend.  It has moved attention away from his woeful handling of the bushfires.  He is being credited with showing leadership when, in fact, he has just got out of the road and let the experts dictate what must be done.  If only he would do that about global heating.  Or increasing Newstart.  Or Closing the Gap.  Or tackling the domestic violence crisis.  Or the obesity epidemic. Or governing?

The corona virus will also give an excuse for not delivering the surplus we had supposedly already achieved before the last election.

Morrison exudes confidence but, like everything else, it’s fake.  A person who was confident they were doing the right thing would welcome scrutiny, they would invite suggestions on ways to improve, they would listen to and genuinely consider alternatives.  They would show respect to their colleagues rather than puerile mockery and respect to the public by being honest and transparent.

The most important qualities of a good leader are integrity, accountability, empathy, humility, resilience, vision, and positivity.

Instead, we have FauxMo the ad man.

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Technology road map or a lifeline for coal?

All of a sudden, the government has discovered “technology” – they just don’t know what to do with it.

No doubt, we will get another glossy brochure with no research to back it up, no comparative analyses of different approaches or relative cost/benefit, no risk analysis or management.

Because this government doesn’t really believe in it as shown by their track record.

Total R&D expenditure is at its lowest level since 2005-06 and business R&D expenditure is lower than at any time since 2002-03.

ABS figures show that Australia’s gross expenditure on research and development fell to 1.79% of GDP in 2017-18, down from 1.88% in 2015-16. This compares with an OECD average of 2.37% for developed nations. Business expenditure on R&D fell from one per cent of GDP to 0.9% over the two-year period, while the OECD average was 1.49%.

Government investment in R&D in 2011-12 was $10.072 billion.  Despite our continually growing GDP, in 2018-19 it was $9.396 billion.

R&D tax incentives in 2011-12 were $1.07 billion.  In 2019-20 they are estimated to be $280 million.

Aside from cutting funding and incentives, instead of letting the research and market decide where technology should go, this government has shown its penchant for picking winners, usually based on political rather than practical considerations.

And as per usual, this tactic comes directly from the Republican playbook.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Republican Sen. John Barrasso wrote:

“The nation is leading the way not because of punishing regulations, restrictive laws or carbon taxes but because of innovation and advanced technology, especially in the energy sector,” he wrote. “Making energy as clean as we can, as fast as we can, without raising costs to consumers will be accomplished through investment, invention and innovation.”

Enter hydrogen and carbon capture and storage, which may sound like a good idea – or may sound more like a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.

Chief Scientist Alan Finkel is the main driver behind the hydrogen push and he wants it produced using coal and gas combined with carbon capture and storage.  Only 4% of the hydrogen produced globally is made using renewable energy.

A recently published study by the Center for International Environmental Law warned that some technologies, in particular carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, could slow the transition to renewables.

“CCUS is valuable to the fossil fuel industry in three key ways: it expands oil production, provides a lifeline to a declining coal industry, and further entrenches the overall fossil fuel economy,” the report says. “Incentivizing CCUS through policy and relying on it in planning will likely slow the transition away from fossil fuel investments and undermine broader efforts to mitigate climate change.”

Touting technology and innovation is a tactic being used to sound like you are doing something on climate change while kicking action on reducing emissions down the road.  None of the technologies are close to being developed at a scale large enough to have a true impact on global warming, a process that would have to be coordinated among many countries on a vast global scale.  We don’t have time to wait.

But hey, at least the fossil fuel industry is happily on board.

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The appalling behaviour of politicians must stop

I’m sure Josh Frydenberg thought he was being very funny as he ridiculed Jim Chalmers for suggesting we need a well-being budget. I’m sure he revelled in the laughter and accompanying jeers from the nodding heads behind him. He was no doubt encouraged by the smirking jerk to his right as he delivered his putdown.

“I was thinking yesterday, as the member for Rankin was coming into the chamber fresh from his Ashram deep in the mountains of the Himalayas barefoot in the chamber, robes flowing, incense burning, beads in one hand, wellbeing budget in the other, I thought to myself: ‘What yoga position the member for Rankin would assume … to deliver the first wellbeing budget?”

Unsurprisingly, Australia’s many Hindu citizens were unimpressed.  The President of the Universal Society of Hinduism said in a statement it was “heartbreaking” for the hardworking and peaceful Australian Hindu community to watch the religion be “belittled and laughed at” in the parliament.

But that’s what our politicians do constantly. Belittling is their cap in trade. Jeering and catcalling and name-calling is standard practice.

This sort of behaviour is emotional abuse.

“Emotional abuse may include behaviours such as threatening, insulting, shaming, belittling, name-calling, gaslighting and stonewalling, which are done in an attempt to chip away at the victim’s independence and self-esteem so the abuser can gain control in the relationship. “

We see this behaviour every day in our parliament.

Along with the emotional abuse, politicians also fuel racism by their snide remarks and racial/religious profiling. Who could forget Attorney-General George Brandis defending the rights of bigots?

Peter Dutton is a constant offender – laughing about Pacific Islands being inundated, wanting to fast track visas for “white” South Africans, labelling second and third-generation Lebanese Australians as a terrorist threat, telling us that Melbourne is under siege from African gangs, boycotting the Apology and stridently defending Bill Leak’s cartoon about Aboriginal parenting, ridiculing Armani wearing asylum seekers – the list is endless.

Josh Frydenberg only recently spoke about the rise of anti-Semitism in Australia yet he seems to have little problem with his party wanting to prioritise Christian migration.  They give lip service to religious freedom but they really mean the freedom to impose their beliefs on others.

We can’t punish our way out of the domestic violence epidemic that grips Australia.  We can’t get rid of racism just by laws.  We all have a part to play in changing our society by stepping up to say it’s not ok.

It would be great if the leaders of our country, the people who make the laws, took some time to examine the example they are setting with their appalling behaviour.

It’s not ok.

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