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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.”

George Christensen is missing the point

Channelling ScoMo’s ‘aggrieved victim of outrageous slurs’ approach, George Christensen has hit back at those who have criticised him for spending 294 days in the Philippines over four years.

According to the Herald Sun, George spent 72 days in the Philippines in both 2016 and 2017 compared to 51 days in Canberra in 2016 and 64 days in the capital in 2017.

An indignant George says he’s the victim of a “smear campaign”, which is difficult to understand since the report is true by George’s own admission.

It’s none of our business because he travelled to the Philippines to visit his fiancee and her family and to help raise funds for a charity providing disabled children with wheelchairs…apparently.

Matt Canavan calls it “a massive beat up that’s an invasion of George’s privacy.”

Surprisingly, I have been unable to find any rules about Federal politicians’ annual leave entitlements but, as they only have to front up to their workplace for a few weeks a year, surely taking more than ten weeks off a year to visit your girlfriend is stretching the friendship.  I have found nothing suggesting he took leave without pay though he said he paid for the trips himself.

However he did charge the government for a trip to Manila in the Philippines in 2017, to attend the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) Inter-Parliamentary Assembly. The Guardian reported that the report filed by Christensen was basically copied and pasted from a report on the same event in Malaysia two years earlier.

Canavan also pointed out that George had been doing charity work in the Philippines.  That’s nice, but he could probably have raised more funds here.  Or donated his airfare rather than flying over himself?

I seem to remember Christensen, also in 2017, ranting against foreign aid, saying that “not one dollar should be spent on foreigners.”

Christensen is paid a significant salary, and very generous entitlements, to represent the people of Dawson and, further, to make the laws which govern all Australians.  He is not paid to spend months overseas visiting his girlfriend.

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What Ashby and Dickson want us to believe

Firstly, we are supposed to believe that the Qatari government have launched a three-year sting operation employing spies to influence the elections in Australia and, in order to exert influence over our government, they sought out James Ashby.

Sorry James, but that’s narcissism on steroids.  As if the Qatari government has ever heard of you and as if One Nation will ever have any actual influence over government in this country.  You can’t keep a Senator long enough for them to even get letterhead printed at the exorbitant rates you charge for your monopoly on One Nation printing business.

Next, we are asked to ignore what Ashby and Dickson said on the film because it was just boy talk at the bar and they are entitled to get pissed when on ‘study tours’ to foreign countries – just ask Jamie Briggs.

When asked who funded the trip, Ashby mumbled something which didn’t sound like ‘me’ but was quick to point out he took leave, and Dickson told us he actually cashed in $1,000 of his own money and only got US$760, no doubt to settle the bar tab.

The only thing Dickson is apologising for is for saying fuck and testicles.  ‘Sorry to you little ladies, I grew up on the land.’

We are also expected to believe that the reason Pauline wasn’t standing there also facing the music was because she is unwell.

Here’s a tip Pauline.  You are not going to feel better when you continually, seemingly habitually, surround yourself with idiot men in whom you place your complete trust and offer your unwavering support – until you have to admit that you didn’t really know them and that they have taken advantage of your supposed ‘popularity’.

That story is getting old Pauline.  You say you were “appalled” by Fraser Anning’s comments, adding that his first speech was “straight from Goebbels’ handbook from Nazi Germany”, yet he was only there because you chose him to be on your ticket.

Aside from, or perhaps evidenced by, the racism, climate change denial, gun advocacy, anti-vaxx attitude, and eager embracing of conspiracy theories, these people are gobsmackingly dumb.

If you can be so naïve as to say the things you said to a stranger who approached you pretending to be a gun lobbyist, you shouldn’t be anywhere near the halls of power in this country.

Nice try on the deflection guys but no-one, other than Sky After Dark, is buying it.

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It’s everyone else’s fault says Barnaby

In yet another gobsmacking display of cognitive dissonance and implausible deniability, Barnaby Joyce has urged the Federal Government to “wake up” after the New South Wales Coalition suffered swings against it in the bush.

According to the Beetrooter, “Those who want to give rifles back to the farmers and people are winning seats.”

“The Liberal Party and other people have to understand there is a different message in regional areas,” he said.  “You better wake up and understand that the political scope of Australia is vastly different from what we’ve been reporting on, and if you don’t recognise it, votes move.”

Then he blamed the ABC.

“It’s the heartland that has come out and said that we’ve got some issues that we need to address,” Joyce said. “We’ve got to stop taking our political advice from the ABC.”

Right.  So the reason the Nationals lost seats in NSW was because the Liberal Party didn’t recognise the call from country people for more guns and because the ABC has been dictating Coalition policy…according to Barnaby.

Nothing to do with his disgraceful conduct in his personal life, in his disloyalty to first the PM and then his party’s leader, or, more importantly, his climate change denial in the face of drought and floods and fish kills and his shocking mismanagement of the water portfolio he demanded as a condition of support for a Coalition government.

The people of Barwon seem to have a different message for Barnaby.

Darryn Clifton, president of the Broken Hill and Darling River Action Group, said “The NSW Nationals have decimated the environments of the Darling River and Menindee Lakes and their plan was to further destroy the Lower Darling.”

Resident Karen Page said the return of the Berejiklian Government is a “nightmare” for the people of Menindee.

“Everybody out here is devastated … another four years of neglect for our river, it’s just not good.”

The Coalition seem completely incapable of taking any sort of responsibility for mistakes they have made or any form of accountability that might indicate they have learned from them.

There is an interesting article in the SMH today about the dangers of what private school principals are calling “concierge parenting” which sees “parents rushing to rescue their children from everyday challenges and minor failures.”

Timothy Wright, headmaster of Shore School, has noticed more parents querying team selections, or essay marks, or invitations.

“I think some parents are more anxious about managing their children for ongoing success than they are about ongoing learning,” he said. “The notion that ‘my child must always succeed’ is profoundly dangerous.”

It creates students that are too fragile to accept feedback. “They can’t cope when a teacher says, ‘you need more reasoning here’, or ‘this is unclear’,” said Dr Wright.

It reminded me so much of Tony Abbott whose father complained when he wasn’t chosen in the First XV at school.  Whose mother raced to fill in and fast track a citizenship form for him so he could take up a Rhodes Scholarship offer.  Who, when charged with indecent assault, arrived at court flanked by his parents, a legal team including a QC, and seven witnesses.

These cossetted privileged private school graduates that infest the ranks of the Coalition have never learned to admit when they are wrong, they have never learned how to accept advice, they seem incredulous when anyone questions the ethics of their actions (looking at you Tim Wilson), they have a hugely inflated sense of their own capabilities, they are impervious to criticism, and they ALWAYS look for someone or something else to blame.

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Let’s talk about jobs and how the baby boomers could help

A few days ago, the monthly Labour Force survey for February was released and the news raised some concerns.

Over the month, the number of unemployed persons increased by 1,800.

On seasonally adjusted figures, there was a decrease of 7,300 persons in full-time employment.

Monthly hours worked increased by 1.9% over the past year, which was below the 2.3% increase in employed persons.

The average hours worked per employed person was 138.5 hours per month.  In August 2013, average hours worked per month was 141.7 per employed person.  Multiply that by over 12.7 million people in work and it is a significant loss of hours.

Scott Morrison has promised, without any plan other than tax cuts, to create 1.25 million jobs over the next five years.  Aside from his previous comments that governments don’t create jobs, the ABS report that, over the past year, the labour force increased by 237,500 persons, so 250,000 new jobs per year barely keeps up with the current workforce increase let alone the future as we grow.

When they talk about participation rates, they use the age bracket 15-64 year olds, ignoring the staged increase in the entitlement age for the aged pension.  For anyone born after 1 July 1952, they are no longer eligible on their 65th birthday and those who were born after 1 January 1957 must wait until they are 67.

As our parents live longer and our children breed later, people in their 60s now often have to work as well as provide care for aged parents and childcare for young grandchildren as their daughters return quickly to the workforce.  They are often the people who fill volunteer roles.

Many people use up their superannuation during those years or are forced onto Newstart or a disability pension.  It has also been suggested that they should raise the age at which super becomes available.

A different strategy would be to value the caring role that people of that demographic play.

If people in their 60s had the option to work or to fill that caring and community role, it would free up some jobs for younger people.  It would allow parents to return to work without such crippling childcare costs.  It would facilitate elderly people staying in their own homes longer.  I also think retirees could play a far greater role in training and mentoring inexperienced workers.  (As could young people in helping older people learn about new technology).

Rather than increasing entitlement ages, how about we decrease them back to 60, increase the aged pension but tighten up assets and income tests, and make some space for our young people to get a start.  Or perhaps have some sort of transition to the pension payment where people in their 60s could have their caring and volunteer work see them eligible for some part-payment.

When costing these alternatives, notice should be given to the economic benefit of lessening of demand for aged and child care places and the social benefit to the community of volunteer services like Meals on Wheels or school canteen duty or Landcare groups.

The government has acknowledged that we have an aging population.  Rather than considering that a problem, it’s time to work out how to make the best use of us.

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Dogwhistling? Me? Never!

Press release from Scott Morrison

Monday 27th February 2012

“Typhoid cases on latest boats highlight the risk of Labor’s border failures”

The confirmation of two cases of typhoid for asylum seekers on recent illegal boat arrivals to Christmas Island highlights again the risks and consequences of Labor’s failed border protection policies, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship, Scott Morrison said today.

“When illegal boats turn up in our waters there will always be the risk that people on these boats will carry serious communicable diseases. The more boats there are, the greater the risk of serious diseases presenting,” Mr Morrison said.

“Last year there were 56 cases of communicable disease from those who had arrived on illegal boats. These cases included everything from Tuberculosis and Hepatitis C to Chlamydia and Syphilis. These latest cases have now added typhoid to the list,” he said.

“Of greatest immediate concern is the risk to Australians living on Christmas Island, including children attending the local schools, as well those who come in direct contact with asylum seekers including our defence forces, Customs and border protection officers, federal police, detention centre workers, health professionals and immigration staff.

“These Australians have been living on the front line of Labor’s failed border protection for the past four years.

“Despite the best efforts of our health professionals and other officials responsible for dealing with these situations, there are no guarantees that the arrival of people carrying these diseases could not lead to an outbreak on Christmas Island or the transfer of these diseases to the mainland. This is the risk of failed border protection policy.

“In the past three months more than 2,100 people have turned up on 26 illegal boats. This is the highest number of arrivals over summer on record and 50% more than Labor’s previous record two year ago.

“Labor’s largest ever summer of boats followed their decision to introduce mainstream release of asylum seekers into the community, with support payments, free housing and set up packages worth up to $10,000.

“As long as Labor’s soft policies on our borders continue, these boats will continue to arrive along with the risks they carry, including people with serious communicable diseases,” Mr Morrison said.

The following communicable diseases were detected in immigration detention facilities on Christmas Island from 1 July 2010 to 6 May 2011 –

Diagnosis – Total
Chlamydia – 4
Dengue – 2
Gonorrhoea – 1
Hepatitis B – 10
Hepatitis C – 3
Malaria – 1
Pertussis – 1
Shingles – 3
Syphilis – 29
Tetanus – 1
Tuberculosis (active) – 1
Grand Total 56

Scott Morrison

Shadow Minister for Immigration and Citizenship


Source No Place for Sheep who state the source to be Question on Notice, 11/12 Budget Estimates (BE11/0615)

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Collective culpability

A very thin-skinned and defensive Scott Morrison tried to convince us on Thursday night that he has a wonderful record of supporting the Muslim community and any suggestion to the contrary is an outrageous slur.

“Over the last decade, I have spent my time as a public figure working with the Muslim community in south-western New South Wales,” he said. “That’s why I’m welcomed when I attend mosques in south-western Sydney, with warm embraces.”

On Saturday he took the cameras along for a photo shoot with Muslim leaders at Lakemba mosque, pretending all was sweetness and light as they hugged each other.

What he failed to mention was what was said in the meeting.

“The tragedy in New Zealand yesterday – it wasn’t something overnight, it’s been something that’s been a build-up over the last few years because of the incitement of hatred, bigotry, and discrimination against groups like the Islamic community,” Dr Ibrahim Mohammed told Morrison.

“We need to look into the causation of what makes such a tragedy that took place yesterday and it all comes down to the hate speech… that takes place.”

Lebanese Muslim Association Director Ahmad Malas said “The group raised several concerns, grievances with the position that senior members of government have taken on immigration, previous incidents such as the Bourke St attack, and political rhetoric about Muslims being detrimental. Also, a review of the laws to prevent religious discrimination and vilification of Muslims, and the need for the Government to take responsibility at stamping out the ideology of white supremacy and do more to address Islamophobia.”

Four months ago, those same Muslim leaders wrote to Morrison expressing their deep concern and disappointment with statements made by “senior Government Ministers and the Prime Minister” which inferred “that the community is collectively culpable for the criminal actions of individuals and should be doing more to prevent such acts of violence.”

 

On Monday, five highly qualified articulate Muslim women appeared on the Drum and were in total agreement about the damage being done by some politicians and media in stoking Islamophobia.

When Zaky Mallah warned that young Muslims in Australia felt vilified by a government “looking for votes” and that “ASIO and counter-terrorism police” benefit from community relations, all hell broke loose, with Tony Abbott saying that “heads should roll” (really Tony?) at the ABC for giving Mallah a platform.

We are bombarded with stories about cultural practices from other parts of the world that we find abhorrent, seemingly ignoring the fact that those practices are illegal here.  People who choose to live in this country agree to abide by our laws.

Morrison righteously intones that an attack on people of faith is an attack on all faiths, yet several members of his party, including his Deputy Josh Frydenberg, former PM Tony Abbott, and the very ambitious Andrew Hastie, have all said the problem stems from Islam itself.

It must be utterly galling for the Muslim community to hear Morrison spruiking his credentials at promoting harmony (the third finger in his election slogan – “keeping our economy strong, keeping Australians safe and keeping Australians together.”)

Where is the collective culpability for encouraging an atmosphere of suspicion and mistrust where raids on suspects’ houses are televised before they have even been charged with anything?

Where is the admission that collectively blaming all Muslims for the acts of a few has promoted fear and hatred?

Where is the acceptance that conflating asylum seekers with criminals is dogwhistling?

Wasn’t me, says Scott.  They love me.  I even went on a walk with some Muslim boys once.

Scott says he has led by example and that he has set the tone.

The tragedy is that he is right about that – and look at what has happened.

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Greg Hunt’s assurances mean fuck all

Perhaps in preparation for threatened defamation action against Waleed Aly for reminding us of the reports of Scott Morrison suggesting the Liberal Party should capitalise on community concerns about the inability of Muslims to integrate, Peter Dutton and Greg Hunt have lined up to deny it ever happened.

“Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton and Health Minister Greg Hunt have revealed what really went on during shadow cabinet discussions about Muslims, denying Scott Morrison urged the Liberals to use Islamophobia to win votes,” reports Samantha Maiden in the New Daily.

Except Greg Hunt wasn’t even at the meeting.

“Unfortunately I wasn’t at the meeting, but I know Scott, and his style is deep compassion, he is deeply compassionate, he agonises around the issues of protecting people who are being lured to their deaths,” he said when the article was published in 2011.

Greg goes on to assure us that “Our position is very clear. That we are completely colour blind, race blind, religion blind on the issue of immigration.”

Right.

So when Peter Dutton, Morrison’s other referee, suggested white farmers facing violence in South Africa “deserve special attention” from “a civilised country like ours”, and when he said that people in Melbourne were too scared to go out to dinner because of African gangs, he was being colour blind.

When Tony Abbott said we would resettle an extra 12,000 refugees from Syria and Scott Morrison, as social services minister, said Christian Syrians would make up the bulk of the intake, they were being religion blind.

“Middle Eastern Christians have been run out of town in the Middle East now for many years and that is why our government right from the outset has had a much higher priority focus on those persecuted minorities in the Middle East which are predominately Christian and that is where our focus will be,” Morrison told reporters.

A spokesperson for Dutton said “there will be a lot of Christians who come under the program, but ultimately we want to make sure that we’re bringing the right people; people who can integrate into our community, that can get a job, can speak English, can give their kids the opportunity to go to school.  That’s what we want from people that come under these programs and Mr Dutton is going to make sure that’s what we achieve.”

When Dutton said it was a mistake for Malcolm Fraser to let Lebanese Muslims migrate here in the 1970s because a few of their great grandchildren had been charged with crimes, he was being race blind…apparently.  Ignore the fact that these kids were born, raised, and educated here.

Greg Hunt is the man who, in 1990, wrote his Honours thesis on the necessity of a carbon tax and, when he became environment minister, devoted himself to destroying our carbon pricing, earning him an award from the oil-producing nations for being the Bestest Minister Ever In The Whole Wide World”.

Greg Hunt is the health minister who would have us believe he has approved over 200,000 new drugs for inclusion on the PBS – except the vast majority of those are just allowing new companies into the market supplying their version of the same drugs.  Hospital waiting lists have grown by an average of 2.4% per year over the last 4 years.

The peak body representing GPs is also not enamoured with the ministry of Dutton or Hunt, joining the political campaign with a grim warning.

“If we do not see action, general practice will not be able to keep delivering quality preventive, acute and chronic care. This will lead to increased hospital use and costs.”

Dutton and Hunt had in their mind that they would be PM and Deputy leader last August.  Both have been censured for their disrespect for the legal system.  They have no loyalty, no honesty, no integrity – just naked ambition.

If they are the best you can come up with to provide alibis/cover/character reference, then you are stuffed.

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We need to talk about Australian Conservatives

In 2017, the day after the London Bridge terrorist attack, Cory Bernardi’s newly formed party, Australian Conservatives, emailed his supporters with a survey titled We Need to Talk About Islam.

The preamble to the survey stated:

Our founder, Senator Cory Bernardi, has been a regular critic of Islam, including here calling on Muslims to ‘reject, refute and reform’ Islam, and here where he called out the error of Britain’s migration program accepting Islamic migrants.

One question states that “some have attributed the migration of people of Islamic belief to terror attacks in Australia and abroad” and asks people for their view.  In an obvious attempt to solicit negative responses, other questions included, “What is your view on the practice of sharia law in Australia?” and, “What is your view on the Islamic practice of allowing men to marry girls who are under the legal age of sexual consent?”

Bernardi defended the timing of the survey saying “We’re not politicising anything, we’re trying to decide what the Australian people want.”

Far from an innocent information gathering exercise, the very format was intended to offend.

A graphic next to the survey showed the Islamic “shahada” or proclamation of faith, written in Arabic with a large cross through it, a move labelled “fiercely extremist” by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils, and offensive by Sydney Muslim community leader Dr Jamal Rifi.

AFIC spokesman Ali Kadri made a very prescient warning.

“Bernardi’s party are trying to reverse the gains of the Western world and eventually the people will pay for it, just as people in the Muslim world are paying now, because they excused extremism and thought it was the answer.”

Whilst not a member of Bernardi’s party yet, member for Dawson, George Christensen has appeared with Berrnardi at anti-Muslim speaking events and has addressed anti-Muslim rallies.

In 2016, he tried to set up a site (unsuccessfully it seems) specifically designed to attack Islam.  He appealed to Facebook for writers to make contributions (for free).

“The website will seek to expose radical Islamic practices, its adherents and its appeasers within our midst. The site will also root out political correctness and its purveyors who seek to stymie free speech on this, the most important subject for the future of our Western civilisation,” George grandiosely claims, promising to expose the “practices of so-called moderate Muslims in this country or elsewhere [who] are found to be less than moderate or appeasing the extremists.”

“The pay rate for writers and researchers is a whopping total of nothing but you’ll be helping fight for a cause which could determine the future of Western civilisation, freedom, liberty and humankind.”

The fact that these two politicians make much of their personal religious adherence makes their perfidy in demonising other people of faith all the more galling.

Whilst Hanson and Anning are rightly ridiculed and dismissed as fringe dwellers, Bernardi and Christensen were part of the government, contributing to the debate about national security and forming the policy and laws to enforce it.  They, along with Morrison and Dutton, gave a legitimacy to Islamophobia.

Hate speech was defended by the white men in the Coalition, the rights of bigots being apparently more important than the rights and safety of their victims.

Just as the Islamists who would seek to corrupt our youth must be exposed and vigorously opposed, so must these politicians who are, to use their own words, “appeasing the extremists” and enabling those who would seek to impose their warped views of White Supremacy and the superiority of something they call our “Judeo-Christian heritage” on us all.

The hate speech must stop and those who promote it must be removed from public office and, if necessary, prosecuted for inciting hatred and violence.  This is not about political correctness or censorship.  It is about opposing those who threaten our social cohesion.

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What Liberals really think

When politicians make their first speech, we hear about their history and their aspirations.  When they leave parliament, we hear the truth.

Former leader John Hewson is particularly scathing about the current crop of Liberals who he described as “a directionless rabble”.

“The party is now characterised by disunity and disloyalty, by tribalism, not by principle or policy but by personal interests – not even party interests and certainly not the national interest.

Despite what they claim, few who stand as Liberals come with a genuine policy agenda or commitment. Their end game is simply to be a politician, or a minister, or even prime minister. Not necessarily to achieve anything in particular – just to be there, and to enjoy the trappings of the position.

While aggregate growth and employment numbers are a constant boast of the government, voters are increasingly concerned about the distribution of those jobs and growth, about income security as well as job security, having to live with increases in their costs of living while wages are stagnant – having to fund their daily lives by running down their savings and/or increasing their debts.

Therefore, it is a massive insult to voters when Liberals, individually and collectively, are more concerned about themselves, their careers and what they can suck out of the political system for their personal benefit.”

Julia Banks echoed these sentiments in a speech announcing her resignation from the party.

“Led by members of the reactionary right wing, the coup was aided by many MPs trading their vote for a leadership change in exchange for their individual promotion, pre-selection endorsements or silence. Their actions were undeniably for themselves, for their position in the party, their power, their personal ambition, not for the Australian people who we represent, not for what people voted for in the 2016 election, not for stability and disregarding that teamwork and unity delivers success.

The aftermath of those dark days in August then acutely laid bare the major parties obstructionist and combative actions and internal games – all for political point scoring rather than for timely, practical, sensible decisions on matters which Australians care about.

The Liberal Party has changed. Largely due to the actions of the reactionary and regressive right wing who talk about and talk to themselves, rather than listening to the people.”

Ex-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has spoken of the impossibility of getting any sensible policy on climate change through his party room.

“The truth is … the Liberal Party and the Coalition is not capable of dealing with climate change.

It is just a fact I regret to say. It is like a third rail. We have at the present time in the Coalition, a group of, a constituency, that is the best way to describe it, who believe we should get out of (the Paris Agreement), that climate change is a fraud, the more you have the better, and are literally on another planet.

They are not prepared to play ball with everybody else.”

Mr Turnbull said the anti-­climate change group in the ­Coalition and his own party took the attitude that “if you don’t do what we want, we will blow the show up, and that is essentially what you’ve seen — and so the problem is that everybody loses”.

His Deputy, Julie Bishop, echoed the frustration and its implications for energy policy.

“Our party is divided on the issue of climate change and whether – or how – we respond.”

“I don’t see a solution to the current impasse, but investors need regulatory certainty given the large and long-term investment needed for building energy generating capacity,” she told business leaders.

“The closest we have come to achieving bipartisan consensus with Labor, sufficient to get an energy policy through Parliament, was the National Energy Guarantee – no longer Coalition policy.”

Tony Abbott’s former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin, boasted about their cynical duplicity regarding carbon pricing.

“Along comes a carbon tax. It wasn’t a carbon tax, as you know. It was many other things in nomenclature terms but we made it a carbon tax. We made it a fight about the hip pocket and not about the environment. That was brutal retail politics and it took Abbott about six months to cut through and when he cut through, Gillard was gone.”

Departing Liberals all agree that the party has a women problem with Turnbull comparing it to “the corporate world in the 1980s, maybe a bit earlier. It’s far, far too blokey.”

Any pretence that preselection and promotion are made on merit was blown away with the intercession of Scott Morrison to save Craig Kelly from his own local preselectors and with the promotion of Peter Dutton to the most powerful position in the country.

I note the Australian Federal Police Association have said the AFP must split from Dutton’s ministry in order to regain its “organisational integrity and its ability to carry out investigations without government influence.”

Former Attorney-General, George Brandis, used his final speech to warn about the dangers of Dutton’s power grab and his colleagues’ contempt for the judiciary.

“Increasingly, in recent years, powerful elements of right-wing politics have abandoned both liberalism’s concern for the rights of the individual and conservatism’s respect for institutions, in favour of a belligerent, intolerant populism which shows no respect for either the rights of individual citizens or the traditional institutions which protect them,” Senator Brandis said.

“I have not disguised my concern of attacks upon the institutions of the law: the courts and those who practice in them. To attack those institutions is to attack the rule of law itself,” Senator Brandis said.

“It is for the Attorney-General always to defend the rule of law, sometimes from political colleagues who fail to understand it or are impatient of the limitations it may impose upon executive power.”

Former Treasurer Joe Hockey also dished up some truth as he was leaving.

“Negative gearing should be skewed towards new housing so that there is an incentive to add to the housing stock rather than an incentive to speculate on existing property,” he said. “We should be wiser and more consistent on tax concessions to help pay for that, in particular tax concessions on superannuation should be carefully pared back.”

This is exactly what Labor is proposing to do and what the current Liberals totally reject.

Hockey also praised Labor for bringing in the national broadband network admitting it was a “very significant commitment” – one which has been bastardised from the second the Libs took over.  We can’t undermine Rupert’s monopoly now can we.

From their own mouths, those who were, until recently, in the top positions in the Liberals, have told us that their colleagues are liars, incompetent, self-serving rorters who couldn’t care less about the best interests of the country or its people, and who have scant regard for the institutions that uphold our society.

If the Liberal Party is to survive as any form of credible alternative government, this rabble must be removed.

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We have a chance to turn the pages over

Around the world, schoolchildren have taken up the mantle of demanding action on issues that are important to them in creating the society in which they want to live and raise their children.

Malala Yousafzai spent her 16th birthday addressing delegates at the UN about her fight for girls’ education – a fight that saw her shot in the face by a Taliban gunman the year before.  By age 17, she had won the Nobel Peace Prize for her fearless determination to ensure all girls receive 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Emma Gonzalez, a survivor of the Parkland high school massacre, has become the face for young people fighting for gun control in the US.  Her message is simple.  “We are going to be the last mass shooting.  We are going to change the law.’’  Tragically, mass shootings haven’t stopped but the laws are beginning to change.

Schoolchildren in many countries march to insist that we take urgent action to save the planet from the ravages of climate change.  The greedy excesses of the past and present mean there are plants and animals these children will never see.  It is almost certain that they will not be able to take their children snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef.  Will they be able to paddle down the Murray?  They are rightly furious about our lack of stewardship of their future.

We have raised our children to believe that gender and sexual orientation should not limit opportunity and that all people should enjoy the same human and legal rights.  So it was unsurprising that they came out in droves to support marriage equality.  Young people hurriedly enrolled to vote for the first time.  Many, including Tony Abbott’s daughter Frances, spoke out in bemusement at the intolerant hypocrisy.  “She’s just Aunty Chris,” Frances said of Abbott’s gay sister.

The shock of the horrific murders in Christchurch have prompted an outpouring of grief but also solidarity with the Muslim community.  Our young people never knew the White Australia policy.  They have grown up with a wonderfully diverse society where their friends and classmates come from many different ethnic backgrounds.  They welcome refugee children into their classrooms and fiercely protect them, appealing to the government to allow them to stay, sadly too often unsuccessfully.  They are less religious than their grandparents but they are not threatened by the sight of classmates and teachers wearing veils.

Anyone who lives with young people will know that they do not consider respecting other people’s identity some sort of draconian imposition curbing their free speech.  They will very quickly tell you that you cannot call a woman a slut and you may not use racially derogatory terms or stereotypes and that sexuality and gender should be irrelevant.

Our children offer far more hope and inspiration than our government.  To them I say

You’re the voice, try and understand it
Make the noise and make it clear,

We’re not gonna sit in silence
We’re not gonna live with fear

This time, we know we all can stand together
With the power to be powerful
Believing we can make it better

We can’t change the past but we can determine the future.

We have the chance to turn the pages over

We can write what we want to write

If Australia is to move forward, we must dump the Howard legacy

The fact that the Liberal Party consider John Howard some sort of elder statesman with great knowledge to impart, the fact that they wheel him out every election like he has some relevance to the contemporary electorate, shows just how bereft of ideas they are.

The blame for pretty much every problem we have can be sheeted squarely at the feet of the Howard era, exacerbated by his disciple, Tony Abbott.

They squandered a once in a lifetime windfall.  They sold off our assets.  They privatised essential services and utilities.  They introduced unsustainable tax concessions that skewed investment away from productive enterprises.  They gave huge tax cuts to corporations and high-income earners.

They used refugees as political pawns.  They changed the marriage act.  They insisted on religious chaplains in state schools.  They instigated the Northern Territory Intervention and refused to apologise for the Stolen Generation.  They sent us to war in Iraq based on a lie.

Despite a pre-election promise to match Keating’s increases to the Superannuation Guarantee, Howard immediately reneged.

They introduced Workchoices which undermined job security, workplace entitlements and wages growth.

Between 1999 and 2005, federal funding for public schools increased by $261 per student compared to an increase of $1584 for each private school student.

Howard’s government corroded Medicare by misdirecting money into tax deductions for inefficient private health insurance.

Infrastructure spending was arbitrary, reduced to porkbarrelling in Coalition and marginal seats.

The public service was politicised and the independence of the ABC attacked.

They torpedoed the referendum on finally getting an Australian head of state.

After negotiating to be one of only three countries permitted to increase emissions under the Kyoto Protocol, they refused to ratify it.  Ever since his defeat in 2007, Howard has spent his time pouring scorn on the “alarmist” scientific consensus on global warming, comparing those calling for action on climate change to religious zealots – a line often repeated by Abbott and Pell.

The Howard legacy was to suck the country into a vortex of power, privilege and greed where ambition, self-aggrandisement and the pursuit of wealth have replaced integrity, public service and acting in the best interests of the nation.

In 1996, Keating said “When you change the government, you change the country.”

How right he was.  But undoing the Howard legacy will be a huge mountain to climb for any government.

Politicians are making themselves irrelevant

The more politicians lie to us, the more they think advertising replaces substantive debate, the more they rely on talking points rather than considered informed opinion, the more they use their position to reward their mates, the less relevant they become.

Scott Morrison can say until he is blue in the face that we will meet our emissions reduction targets but we can actually look up the facts for ourselves.

Tony Abbott can keep spinning on his arse doing the Paris hokey pokey – no-one is listening to him.

Matt Canavan and George Christensen can pray for more coal-fired power stations but no-one will put up the money.

Peter Dutton can cry wolf till he is hoarse but the citizens of Melbourne continue to enjoy its culinary delights.

The “better economic managers” myth is a persistent one but how long can they even hang onto that when we are in a per capita recession because of stagnant wage growth and increasing cost of living?  I know company profits are high, but companies don’t vote.

How can we avoid cynicism when newly promoted and extra keen Linda Reynolds tells us that wage suppression is not a tool they are using to boost employment and that anyone who said so knows nothing about economics……until she was told it was a quote from her Finance Minister and not Bill Shorten as she at first thought.  She went from he knows nothing to he’s absolutely right in the space of 16 seconds.

We still have politicians who think that our gender or sexuality is their business.  As they moralise from on high about “ideal families”, we are subjected to seemingly never-ending scandals about their own tawdry behaviour.

As people on welfare are labelled leaners and bludgers, politicians fight tooth and nail to retain what they call ‘entitlements’ which roughly translates to having someone else pay for everything, hopefully for the rest of your life.  Want to see a concert?  A football game?  A fashion show?  You name it, here’s a free ticket for you and your family and here’s a jet to take you and a chauffeur to drive you because, as Barnaby reminded us when defending Bronwyn Bishop’s use of limos to go to the opera, they are often obliged to drink at these events.

We are expected to believe that it is refugees who are responsible for a lack of affordable housing, long hospital waiting lists, unemployment, and congestion on our roads.  Nothing at all to do with the people who plan the infrastructure and set the immigration levels and the spending priorities.  Nothing to do with the people who overstay on tourist and education visas or all those who arrive by plane and then seek asylum.  Boats, drowning, Bill Shorten, soft borders…..someone pass me the talking points, I’ve forgotten what I am supposed to say about Christmas Island.

Trade unions are habitually attacked because we can’t have the workers having a voice about the value of their labour.  Groups like GetUp! and Greenpeace are likewise vilified.  They seem to fear ordinary people having a say.

But our children have had enough.  Girls are fleeing the oppression in Saudi Arabia.  Schoolchildren in America are fighting for gun laws.  They are bemused by the intolerance of some adults to diversity.  And around the world, children will march tomorrow to demand that we put the health of the planet before profit.

More power to their arm.  Politics is not confined to the Canberra bubble boys much as you may have fought to keep it that way.

We are people hear us roar

In numbers too big to ignore

Cause we know too much to go back and pretend.

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When the wealth of the few is more important than the well-being of the many

According to Scott Morrison, he is being “honest” with the Australian people when he warns that Labor will decimate the economy with $200 billion worth of higher taxes.

Let’s examine that in a bit more detail – not Scott’s strong suit.

At a business summit in Sydney, ProMo promised that he “will maintain the continuity of the policies that have been so successful in restoring the budget.”

Pardon?

The Coalition are about to hand down their sixth budget and they are yet to deliver a surplus.  There have been countless promises of one, but you don’t get to count a promise as a success until you deliver on it.

Despite “higher than expected revenue, lower expenses and lower net capital investments” than predicted in MYEFO, at the end of January, the underlying cash balance for the current financial year was a deficit of almost $22 billion and net debt was over $373 billion.  The net debt at the end of August 2013 was $161 billion.

No gold stars there.

So how about policies?

When Peter Costello introduced a 50% discount on capital gains tax back in 1999, he skewed both the housing market and the tax system heavily in favour of landlords over first home buyers.  Prior to that, negative gearing did not cost the budget anything because roughly equal numbers of people were making rental profits and losses balancing the tax situation out.

As Richard Denniss points out,

Since Costello introduced the capital gains tax discount, the “smart money” has bid up the price of houses beyond their capacity to ever generate a rental profit, in the hope that the low-tax capital gains made the whole venture eventually worthwhile. The annual cost of negative gearing has blown out from around zero to $1.6 billion. And the capital gains tax concessions on investment housing now cost a further $3.7 billion per year.

A policy that costs billions in lost revenue and makes housing unaffordable for those hoping to buy their first home is hardly something to be proud of.

Costello was also responsible for making superannuation income tax free and for allowing people to make a voluntary tax free contribution of $1 million in one year.  Tax concessions for superannuation now cost the budget more than $46 billion per year, and will soon cost more than the age pension.  Even the Coalition have recognised this is not sustainable.

Another of Costello’s concessions that the government is fiercely defending is the ridiculous situation where people can claim a refund on tax they haven’t paid through excess franking credits.  We are constantly told that the majority of people who would be affected by Labor’s policy to stop this are poor retirees.

The Grattan Institute points out the perfidy of this line.

Take the example of a self-funded retiree couple with a $3.2 million super balance, plus their own home, and $200,000 in Australian shares held outside super. Even drawing $130,000 a year in superannuation income, and $15,000 a year in dividend income, they would report a combined taxable income of just $15,000, and pay no income tax whatsoever.

With pensioners excluded, this policy change will only affect people who already have significant assets and/or income.

Another tax avoidance measure that Labor are targeting is family trusts where income is shared between family members thus lowering their individual tax obligation.  Normal PAYG employees are not able to do this.  The Coalition have been quieter on this measure because they know it has been abused and recognise it probably should stop.

So back to the $200 billion.

This is the extra revenue that the Coalition estimates that Labor will raise over the next ten years but the vast majority of it comes from not proceeding with the second and third stages of the government’s proposed income tax cuts for high income earners.  Judging the impact on the economy of stopping tax cuts that have not yet begun is highly theoretical and, as we know, the government tends to just make up numbers rather than doing any genuine modelling.

It also ignores Labor’s proposed income tax cuts which would see everyone who earns less than $125,000 a year – that is, most Australians – hundreds of dollars a year better off compared to what the Coalition is offering.

Coalition policies got the budget in trouble in the first place.  They facilitate tax avoidance by those who can most afford to contribute at the expense of government services and payments to those who can least afford to pay.

If you call that success, then you patently care more about the wealth of the few than the well-being of the many.

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They lie to each other so why on earth would we trust them to tell us the truth?

The thing that struck me most about Julie Bishop’s latest homage to herself was the revelation that 17 of her colleagues lied to her.

No-one goes into a leadership spill not having canvassed the numbers.  Obviously, some of them are not very good at it – whoever thought Peter Dutton was a good idea needs help – but Bishop was very specific – she thought she had 28 votes wrapped up which should have been enough to see her through to the second-round ballot in the three-way contest.

As we all know, that support evaporated when the secret ballot actually took place with Julie only securing 11 votes.  Her colleagues had lied to her.  Whilst it may not be quite on the scale of how bad Hilary Clinton must have felt losing to Donald Trump, Julie was humiliated.  She lost to a man who none of the electorate wanted, as polling showed, and who the bookmakers considered a very long shot as betting odds demonstrated.

Whether she would have been a good leader or not is debatable but not the point.  She has chosen to leave after being betrayed by her own people.

Bishop should not have been surprised because lying has become second nature to the Coalition.

Whether it is Angus Taylor telling us emissions have come down, or Peter Dutton telling us people will be kicked off hospital and public housing lists if sick refugees access urgent medical attention, or Josh Frydenberg telling us that tax concessions are mainly utilised by poor people, or Barnaby Joyce every time he opens his mouth about anything, the lies just keep on coming.

For a democracy to function successfully, there must be checks and balances on power.  Government decisions must be transparent and accountable.  The electorate must be told the truth so they can make informed decisions about alternative approaches to address the challenges facing the nation.

Increasingly, the Coalition have removed our right to know and the protection for those who would inform us.  They have deliberately sought out non-government agencies to produce reports that say what they want them to (the Minerals Council and the Properties Council are hardly independent advisors) yet refused to release genuine reports which might reveal what is actually going on.

How many times have we heard “it’s a report to government, not by government” as an excuse not to release reports they have paid for with public money?  But even the reports by government are suppressed when it suits them.  The Auditor-General has been silenced regarding defence contracts.  The Agriculture Minister is sitting on the State of the Forests Report.  NBNco demanded police raids when the truth was revealed about their lack of progress and cost blowouts.

Media have been threatened on a number of fronts.  Have you noticed how articles always come with the caveat now that “The X news site is not suggesting any wrongdoing by any of the corrupt people we have just written about”.  Certain topics will land journalists in gaol and whistleblowers who go to the media will be persecuted and prosecuted.

The ABC has been under continual attack and now, in a misguided attempt to appease those who accuse them of bias, give voice to a disappointing array of crackpots and allow politicians’ lies to slide by rather than offending them and being completely cut off.

Isaac Asimov once said “Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’”

We are now in the territory of an election being fought on my lies are better than your truth.

PS Special mention should go to Matthias Cormann whose appalling judgement and despicable disloyalty should disqualify him from being trusted by both his colleagues and the electorate.

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This government makes no sense

It doesn’t really matter what policy area you look at, there is no coherent plan as ProMo bounces around like a demented Santa offering sweeteners to all.

The result is a chaotic shamble where the gift offered by one hand is snatched away by the other in a government that is at war with itself.

Tony Abbott came to power offering a paid parental leave plan designed to encourage “women of calibre” to breed and then return to the workforce.  Not only was that abandoned, those women of calibre were now “double dippers” rorting the system and their existing entitlements were reduced.

After a tortuous process, marriage discrimination was ended – praise be.  But then we have an inquiry to work out how churches can ignore the law and continue to discriminate against gays.

The community and the majority of the parliament decide we have an obligation to provide medical care for seriously ill refugees under our care (I still can’t believe that is something they had to actually debate).  So people who are traumatised by being incarcerated with no hope on an island gulag will be shifted to another island gulag with no hope of any future and the promise of being sent back should they get well.

Successive Prime Ministers take their entourage to remote communities to find out first hand from Indigenous people what must be done to close the gap on disadvantage.  We have a (white) Special Envoy appointed to show how much we care.  And then we cut off services to them because we can no longer afford to fund their “lifestyle choice”, we ignore their call for a Voice to advise parliament, we quarantine their income, we lock them up in record numbers, and we take their children.

Budget assumptions show that the promised surplus is largely dependent on wages growing at a much faster rate than they are now.  Yet the government cuts penalty rates, argues against increases in the minimum wage, fights public sector pay rises (except those bestowed by the Remuneration Tribunal who determine politicians’ pay), and boast about the bill for welfare payments decreasing despite there being over 3 million Australians living in poverty.

When Labor announced their policy to change negative gearing and capital gains tax concessions, we were told this would decimate the property market and strip people of their meagre wealth.  Yet changes to lending practices have prompted a far greater crash in property values than any change Labor was proposing was likely to make.  But the government is silent on this with no response forthcoming.

In April 2012, Joe Hockey gave a speech to the Institute of economic affairs in London:

Despite an ageing population and a higher standard of living than that enjoyed by our children, western democracies in particular have been reluctant to wind back universal access to payments and entitlements from the state.

So, ultimately the fiscal impact of popular programs must be brought to account no matter what the political values of the government are or how popular a spending program may be.

Let me put it to you this way: The Age of Entitlement is over.

Yet when Labor propose to wind back the largesse of excess franking credit refunds, the government goes into overdrive about this “retirees’ tax” which is, as per usual, not a tax at all.

Foreign Aid is slashed until China starts filling the void.  Rather than recognising the value and efficacy of soft diplomacy, we scramble to join the arms race.

Action on climate change and energy policy is where it gets truly ridiculous.

Faced with a slew of Independents contesting the next election in previously safe Liberal and Nationals seats and all campaigning on climate change, Scott is trying to convince us that he actually has a plan.

We will spend billions on hydro energy whose business case only stacks up if coal is phased out.  At the same time we will underwrite new coal-fired power whose future is so risky that no bank will take it on.

We export gas at record levels whilst we endure sky-rocketing prices here.

We will spend billions paying farmers to plant trees that they must then try to keep alive through bushfires, floods, droughts and cyclones.  If they are hit by any of these extreme weather events, we will pay them more.

We will pay farmers to reduce herd sizes.  And then we will pay them money to restock after their herds are decimated by floods or fire and we will pay more to feed them during drought.

Meanwhile, the big polluters are free, and even encouraged, to increase their emissions, and rampant land-clearing by farmers and property developers continues apace.

We give billions to different groups to protect the Great Barrier Reef whilst allowing dredge to be dumped on it and ignoring toxic spills from coal ports.  The warming of the oceans and the damage from severe cyclones that will almost inevitably lead to the death of the Reef is ignored as we concentrate on the impossible task of eradicating crown of thorn starfish one creature at a time.

It seems the government’s only clear purpose at the moment is to use its few remaining months to reward as many fellow political travellers as they can with high-paying appointments and to secure employment for themselves post-politics.

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