A Tale Of Two Leaders But Whatever You…

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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.”

Tim Wilson epitomises so many things that are wrong with the Morrison government

Two photographs taken by Alex Ellinghausen last week pretty much sum up Liberal Member for Goldstein, Tim Wilson.

The first shows Tim joining the Parliamentary Friends of Running (yes, there is such a thing) and the Indigenous Marathon Foundation members as they head off together on a four-kilometre jog to promote active lifestyles in Indigenous communities.

Tim, clutching his mobile phone, is wearing a Liberal-blue t-shirt, jogging shorts, and what appears to be some sort of compression skins underneath the shorts. I am assuming that was to protect his groin when he did a rapid u-turn when the cameras stopped filming. Tim only ran 100 metres before Ellinghausen snapped him returning alone to the warmth of parliament house.

It’s all about self-promotion as Tim freely admitted in a 2014 interview.

He became heavily involved with student politics, eventually becoming president of the Student Union in 2001, thanks in part to his talent for favour-trading – plying opponents with “a whole bunch of delegateships” in return for their support. He also had “this really clever little trick”, using a digital camera, “which very few people had back then”, to take photos of himself at university club functions, several of which he would attend in a single night. He would then send the photos to the club magazines the next morning. “They didn’t have any photos, certainly not that immediately. So they’d run them, and of course I was in half of them, and it made me look as if I was the centre of everything.”

How very Morrison-style Liberal of him. It’s all about the photo ops and trading favours.

It’s not just running where Tim does his rapid back-flips.

After years campaigning for the Australian Human Rights Commission to be abolished during his time at the Institute of Public Affairs, he was chuffed to immediately accept a very high-paying job with them when, after a pleasant evening spent together at the IPA’s 70th birthday bash, George Brandis rang out of the blue to offer Tim a job that didn’t exist.

And Wilson wasted no time taking advantage of his new role, spending $77,763 in expenses in his first year on the job in addition to his $332,000 salary package and $40,000 accommodation allowance. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of the extremely competent Disability Commissioner, Graeme Innes, as Tim’s new job didn’t come attached with any new funding, so someone had to go.

But Tim was just marking time, waiting for another IPA party-goer, Andrew Robb, to retire from his plum Liberal seat of Goldstein, at which time Tim very quickly resigned from his sinecure at the Human Rights Commission which had only ever been to give him something to put on his CV. Tim was now a Member of Parliament in a seat that has always voted Liberal – barring disaster, a lifetime gig (unless a better offer comes along as it did for his predecessor).

In his previous life at the IPA, Wilson had also spent his time writing witty bon mots ridiculing those who urged action on climate change.

The success of Kerryn Phelps at the Wentworth by-election caused Tim to do another spectacular u-turn when he realised his Inner-city Melbourne constituents were possibly more concerned about climate change than coal-mining jobs. So obvious was Tim’s about-face, the Quadrant magazine labelled him Tim ‘Windvane’ Wilson.

Wilson’s very public championing of freedom of speech is also inconsistent.

During the Occupy Melbourne protests in 2011, he tweeted “all people who think freedom of speech = freedom 2 b heard, time wasters … send in the water cannons”. Yet, in 2019, he was tweeting selfies taken at democracy protests in Hong Kong, extolling the importance of their voices being heard.

During his IPA days, Wilson was a constant panellist on the ABC whilst his organisation was calling for its privatisation. Use it to raise your profile and then demand it be sold off to appease the doyen of the IPA, Rupert Murdoch.

Tim Wilson, as chair of the parliament’s economics committee, collaborated with a relative and investment partner to use publicly funded hearings to attack Labor’s franking credits policy, co-ordinate protests with committee meetings, use a petition to collect signatories contact details, and enlist new members to the Liberal Party.

The Liberal Speaker of the House, Tony Smith, expressed his concern about Wilson’s actions which he said could be “seen to have caused damage to the committee’s reputation and damage to the house committee system more generally”.

Wilson was bemused. ‘What did I do wrong?’

I can understand his confusion.

Tim is the archetypal Liberal. No expertise other than self-promotion, jobs for the boys, rapid u-turns for political expediency, maximise your expense claims, deals for mates, feather your financial nest, and get your photo taken a lot. He will probably go far.

And isn’t that … so disappointingly inadequate?

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Scott Morrison’s “promise to Australia”

Scott Morrison’s 2019 election campaign speech:

“To run a stronger economy requires a government that knows how to manage money.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And by staying on this path we will eliminate the debt within a decade, without raising your taxes. We have achieved this by getting spending growth under control, getting Australians off welfare and into work – and treating every dollar provided to us by the taxpayer with respect. It’s what Liberals and Nationals do.”

Other things Liberals and Nationals do…


Cashless welfare card.

JobKeeper gifted to profitable businesses.

Sports rorts et al.

White elephant NBN.

Torture refugees by locking them up indefinitely in unsafe offshore detention.

Subsidies and grants to the fossil fuel industry.

Signing up for 12 submarines whose cost has blown out from $50 billion to $90 billion before they have even fully negotiated the details.

Use fraudulent documents to attack a political opponent and suffer no consequence.

$40 million gifted to Foxtel whilst slashing funding for the ABC.

Almost half a billion dollars to a few businessmen who called themselves the Great Barrier Reef something-or-other.

Another half a billion to a security firm headquartered in a beach shack on Kangaroo Island.

A fortune spent on consultants and government advertising.

Trash our international reputation through inaction on climate change.

Antagonise China through pointless hairy chest-beating.

Huge money paid to donors for water that doesn’t exist and land that was worth a fraction of the price paid.

Run up a trillion dollar debt.

Uncountable jobs for the boys and girls, stacking Boards and tribunals and diplomatic posts…

I could keep going forever… it’s been a long 7 years 8 months and 6 days.

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The insane pinball game that masquerades as Coalition energy policy

Three years ago, then Treasurer Scott Morrison declared the government was not interested in subsidising any source of energy.

The days of subsidies in energy are over, whether it is for coal, wind, solar, any of them,” the treasurer said.

“That is the way I think you get the best functioning energy market with the lowest possible price for businesses and for households and that is what the national energy guarantee and our energy policies are designed to achieve.”

Fast forward to this week when Keith Pitt, the minister for resources, water and northern Australia, blocked a loan for the Kaban green energy hub which had been approved by the Northern Australian Infrastructure Facility (Naif) in January.

The blocked funding would have helped build a 157-megawatt windfarm and 100MW battery and included a 320km transmission line upgrade.

Pitt’s reason for overruling the decision was that investment in “mature technologies” like wind and solar energy would be driven by the private sector whilst the government’s policy was to support dispatchable generation.

I’m not sure what Mr Pitt thinks batteries are for.

Instead of giving a loan to a commercially viable renewable project that would have employed about 250 people in its construction, the government has announced hundreds of millions in direct funding to the already very-profitable gas industry.

In March, the AEMO published their Gas Statement of Opportunities in which they said:

“Industrial demand for natural gas is not forecast to grow in the next 20 years, and could potentially reduce significantly as industrial users in the gas sector start to decarbonise.”

Head of the Energy Security Board, Kerry Schott, says increasing gas supply won’t bring prices down “when there are a whole lot of other things around that are cheaper in price, like wind, solar and big batteries, like pumped hydro and we’ve got Snowy 2.0 coming.”

“Nobody is going to build it from the private sector because it doesn’t stack up. Because it’s expensive power, it’s hard to see it makes commercial sense.”

After years spent trying to abolish the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, the government is now trying to change the legislation to redirect money into their own preferred technologies, including carbon capture and storage, gas generators and hydrogen produced from fossil fuels.

In typical Coalition fashion, Angus Taylor has stacked the board at ARENA with handpicked appointments that he hopes will do his bidding.

Meanwhile, in March, the European parliament voted to forge ahead with carbon levies on products from countries with weak environmental laws.

Two senior European officials said the transition to green technologies would drive power shifts away from those controlling and exporting fossil fuels, mainly referring to oil rich countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia, suggesting that traditional fossil-fuel exporters would need to diversify their economies and free themselves from the “oil curse” and the “corruption it so often fosters”.

As Professor Warwick McKibbin pointed out, “The economic cost of a carbon border adjustment mechanism is nothing compared to the issue Australia will have to deal with economically when its fossil fuel export industry dramatically declines over the coming decades. There needs to be a reopening of the debate on how to create a world-leading framework for climate and energy policy in Australia.”

Despite all the dire warnings from climate scientists, the direction suggested by energy experts, the agreement from economists and the business community, and the threats of trade sanctions, a handful of politicians in Australia have put their short-term vested interests in front of the inevitable action we must take to tackle this global emergency.

Why is it that everything to do with the pandemic is predicated on “the best medical advice” but, when it comes to the health of the planet, it’s all about the profits for political donors and the electoral prospects of a few politicians?

When we have idiots like Matt Canavan, whose brother’s coal company recently went broke, saying “Renewables are the dole bludgers of the energy system, they only turn up to work when they want to,” what hope have we got?

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The drums of hairy chest beating

It is a given that a Coalition government will, rightly or wrongly, promote their credentials on national security. Who could forget Tony Abbott’s ludicrous promise to shirtfront Vladimir Putin.

The tough talk might appeal to some but this political posturing has real-life consequences for people.

“Stop the boats” was not a strategy to deal with the global refugee crisis. It never addressed how our role in foreign wars was contributing to the exodus, how our greed consigned others to poverty, or what would become of the people we turned around on the high seas.

Incarcerating asylum seekers indefinitely became a weapon – a warning to others who may look to us for help. We have spent tens of millions keeping the family from Biloela locked up on Christmas Island, and hundreds of millions fighting court cases and paying compensation for the harm we have done to traumatised people who fled from danger seeking a safer life.

Buoyed by what they call success, Scott Morrison, Peter Dutton and Mike Pezzullo have decided, with an election looming, to up the ante.

Deporting a 15 year old boy to New Zealand is called “taking out the trash”.

Australian citizens who try to return from pandemic ravaged India face jail time.

And Australians are warned that we must prepare to send our children off to a war with China over islands that having nothing to do with us.

The arms manufacturers are delighted. Out trots Peter Jennings from ASPI, who are sponsored by these same arms dealers, to agree that we must spend hundreds of billions more on missiles we will never shoot, submarines that will be obsolete before they are built, jet fighters that will spend most of their time on the ground.

Let’s get real here – we are never going to be a military power.

Is diplomacy dead in Australia?

Our ADF could play a vital role in building relationships if these hairy-chest thumpers would shut up and let them play to our strengths.

We are very good at search and rescue, disaster response, medical emergencies, humanitarian relief, peace-keeping, building infrastructure, providing expert advisors. Domestically the ADF have been crucial in assisting with natural disaster clean-ups and rebuilding, border closures, quarantine, and vaccine rollout. They are an agile, skilled workforce who can make a valuable contribution here and overseas rather than an expendable asset offered up for war.

Peter Dutton has failed at every portfolio he has ever been given. The critical reports of his departments have been scathing. Yet the Canberra media call him a powerbroker, a man who brings gravitas to his new role as warmonger.

Dutton is, and always has been, only focused on promoting himself.

When he went close to losing his seat of Dickson in the 2007 election, winning by only 217 votes, Dutton chose to abandon his constituents, running for preselection in the safer seat of McPherson for the 2010 election.

Interestingly, despite a lot of pressure to roll over and let Dutton have his way, Karen Andrews, Dutton’s successor in the Home Affairs portfolio, defeated him in the preselection ballot and refused to stand aside. Dutton had to skulk back to Dickson.

As the person responsible for our domestic security, Andrews needs to show that same determination now.

Home Affairs department secretary, Mike Pezzulo, hugely overstepped the mark with his belligerent drums of war speech. It was either a job application to head Defence, or a power play to let the new Minister know who is in charge. Either way, Andrews should have asserted her authority and shut it down when shown it “as a matter of courtesy” just beforehand. It was unnecessary chest-poking from a man whose experience should make him know better. What audience was he hoping to appeal to?

Karen Andrews has no experience in this area so will no doubt take a little while to find her feet – it’s a big, and important, portfolio.

Will she be strong enough to keep Batfink and Karate in check? That remains to be seen. In the interests of our national security, social cohesion and, quite frankly, our humanity, I sure hope so.

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Blue carbon sounds nice… again

Our current Environment Minister, Sussan Ley (number four to try the job), has just reannounced, for the umpteenth time, our commitment to capturing blue carbon greenhouse gases in mangroves, marshes and seagrasses.

It’s a worthwhile endeavour, as it was when Julie Bishop made the same announcement in 2017. These systems are not just valuable because of the carbon they capture, they are valuable for a whole multitude of reasons around fisheries, around coastal protection, around supporting our marine biodiversity. But they are under threat.

Since European settlement in Australia, we’ve lost about 25% of our sea grasses, 50% of our tidal marshes, somewhere between 50% and 70% of our mangroves, and that loss is continuing.

Estuaries and coastal wetlands have been filled in, drained off and dug up to make way for agriculture and urban development.

Seagrass meadows and mangrove stands have been decimated by coastal development such as ports, marinas and sewerage outfalls.

Levies have been built for flood mitigation and to hold back the sea, killing mangroves and tidal marshes to turn them into pasture or some other sort of land use.

Things like fish farms can damage seagrass meadows; they put nutrients into the water column, they shade the seagrass, and that can have a negative effect.

The government’s active encouragement of rampant development has exacerbated the problem but the potential of blue carbon faces a far greater threat from climate change.

For example, a heatwave event in Shark Bay in 2010 and 2011 caused the loss of about 1,000 km² of seagrass.

A UN oceans report published in 2019 said blue carbon would offset only about 2% of current global emissions and would not be an effective replacement for the “very rapid reduction of greenhouse gas emissions” required to avoid catastrophic climate change.

The report states that “[…] under high emission scenarios, sea level rise and warming are expected to reduce carbon sequestration by vegetated coastal ecosystems”. If emissions keep rising, the speed and scale of climate change will overwhelm blue carbon ecosystems’ ability to adapt. This problem will be compounded by “coastal squeeze” as rising seas butt up against human infrastructure, leaving coastal plants with shrinking habitats.

As is always the case, there are political motives for the government’s pretence at caring about blue carbon. With China’s increasing involvement in the Pacific, we have all of a sudden “stepped up” in announcing things supposedly to help our neighbours. Not only do we want to look like we care, we also want to claim/buy carbon credits for anything we do to protect their coastal vegetation.

As Oli Moraes from RMIT University observed:

Australia is essentially telling our Pacific neighbours, who are on the front line of climate change: “We will protect your coastal carbon sinks in the short term for international credit, while continuing to burn and export coal, oil and gas.”

In the long term, Pacific islands will be devastated and even destroyed by cyclones and storms. Because those mangroves won’t be able to adapt in time to the hot, acidic and rising seas.

Whilst we continue to champion fossil fuels, all other measures to combat climate change are fighting a losing battle.

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Hubris and hypocrisy

Scott Morrison is getting worse. The hubris and hypocrisy is flowing at every turn.

Our Prime Minister believes he was given “a sign” by God in the shape of a picture of an eagle which he read as divine endorsement for his elevation to the top job.

Being the “chosen one” confers some sort of infallibility to one’s decision-making. It implies motives are pure. Morality is unquestioned. Outcomes are ordained.

Increasingly, ScoMo’s speeches are sounding like sermons. Speaking to a United Israel function on Thursday, he scolded doubters of his intentions and critics of his overt religiosity.

“Seeing the inherent dignity of all human beings is the foundation of morality… It makes us more capable of love and compassion, of selflessness and forgiveness,” preached Scott.

“Because if you see the dignity and worth of another person, another human being, the beating heart in front of you, you’re less likely to disrespect them, insult or show contempt or hatred for them, or seek to cancel them, as is becoming the fashion these days.”

Ummmm… this is the man that deliberately chose to call asylum seekers “illegal arrivals” and “detainees”, implying they were criminals. This is the man who refused to let anyone visit offshore detention centres, and sacked support workers, explicitly because he did not want refugees to have a human face. This is the man whose government continues to hold the family from Biloela hostage as an example to anyone else who might dare to ask for our help and the chance to make a positive contribution to our society.

Morrison also admonished us for not taking enough personal responsibility.

“Where we once understood our rights in terms of our protections from the state, now it seems these rights are increasingly defined by what we expect from the state… As citizens, we cannot allow what we think we are entitled to, to become more important than what we are responsible for as citizens…”

How many times have you heard, when politicians have claimed expenses for personal travel and other items, that it was “within entitlements”? How come Matthias Cormann was provided with a government jet to fly around the world spruiking himself for another job?

The conservative side of Morrison’s government, along with the Sky choir, have been making a big deal about ‘cancel culture’ and ‘identity politics’ lately.

“You are more than your gender, you are more than your race, you are more than your sexuality, you are more than your ethnicity, you are more than your religion, your language group, your age,” said Scott.

No shit, Sherlock. But I note that your government has spent an inordinate amount of time and effort on ‘religious freedom’, something that is already enshrined in our constitution.

How come that is ok but gays wanting to get married is not? Why should the state dictate to women about their own reproductive health? Why is income management imposed on people on welfare because of their postcode? Why do aspiring citizens have to pass university level English language tests? Why can’t we give Indigenous people some say in the policies that affect them?

Is it only “identity politics” if it’s not part of your identity?

Earlier in the week, Morrison addressed a Pentacostal Christian conference warning them that social media was being used by the “evil one” to undermine society. No mention about how Murdoch uses mainstream media to much greater effect to do exactly that.

He also spoke about how he “lays hands” on traumatised people.

When consent and unwanted touching have been such a big part of the public discussion lately, Scott needs to understand that his aggressively intrusive hand-shaking, elbow-bumping, and Evangelical laying-on of hands should not be forced on anyone, let alone those who are suffering.

Morrison only became involved with the Horizon church after his predecessor, Bruce Baird, introduced him to the pastor after Scott was preselected to run for Baird’s electorate.

Pastor Michael Murphy said “We had a desire to help and support political leaders… We knew most of the federal and state members. Bruce Baird, who was the local member before Scott, was a close friend. So the relationship between Scott and I was kind of a natural thing, and for our church to embrace him and Jen when he was just a backbencher. And we started the journey from there.”

Should we care about this increasing publicity about what most would feel should be a personal issue for our Prime Minister?

Perhaps the real danger in all of this is the PR exercise to make the community accept on faith what the government tells us to believe. They are the bastions of morality, they are making decisions based on what’s best for us. Asking for evidence is heresy. Experts have subversive agendas. Statutory bodies must support the government’s creed and charities must not act as advocates.

The government knows best.

Indoctrination of belief, unquestioning acceptance, and obeisant worship are central to religion’s power.

They have no place in government.

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Taking out the trash

I was prompted to start writing about politics when the spectre of the highly inadequate Tony Abbott as Prime Minister was first being seriously considered.

Having known Tony at university, it was completely unfathomable to me. We had always dismissed him as an inconsequential bovver boy, an overconfident loudmouth who spouted his indoctrinated views, a young man with anachronistic opinions and an overinflated sense of his own ability – a ‘second-grade footballer, third-rate academic and fourth-class politician.’

When the unthinkable happened, it didn’t take the country, or his own party, long to realise they had given the job to a man who wasn’t up to it, and Tony was disempowered. The people of Warringah then completed the disengagement.

Sadly, for all his high and mighty words, both before and after, Malcolm Turnbull turned out to be a Fizza, unable to lead a party that always viewed him with suspicion.

In part, that was his own fault. He, and subsequently Scott Morrison, intervened to ensure the preselection of nutters like Craig Kelly, Andrew Laming, and George Christensen.

These guys were not supported because of the great contribution they have made whilst in parliament. The politically expedient value of incumbency was put ahead of merit or the wishes of the local preselectors.

For different reasons, none of these three will be running for the Coalition in the next election. Good riddance.

But there is still work to do.

Peter Dutton has failed at every ministry he has been given. He is a plodder, a dull bully boy whose approach to everything is destructive. The negative reports about his administration from stakeholders, the ANAO, and his own departments, are endless.

And now they have given him defence.

This morning Dutton, the man now in charge of the guns, fired a shot at China on Channel 9.

“We’re not going to have our values compromised, we aren’t going to surrender our sovereignty,” the defence minister said as he admonished Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews for doing the wrong thing in signing the agreements with China which have now been abolished by the Federal government.

“He shouldn’t be entering into agreements that aren’t in our national interest,” says the man whose government allows our gas to be sold to overseas buyers far more cheaply than to the domestic market, the man whose government continues to subsidise fossil fuels and the technologies that will prolong their use.

And what of the Country Liberal Party’s decision to lease the Port of Darwin to a Chinese company for 99 years?

At the time, federal trade minister, Andrew Robb, was an enthusiastic supporter.

“Landbridge’s commitment to the growth of the Port of Darwin will be a huge spur to the development of Australia’s north, serving as a catalyst for the entry of major investment right across the port’s upstream supply chain in agriculture, resources and energy and economic infrastructure,” he told the Guardian in late 2015.

The day before the 2016 election, Robb accepted a job with Landbridge paying $880,000 a year.

Dutton also took aim at China for building up military bases in the region and launching cyber attacks – topics the intelligence, foreign affairs, diplomatic and defence communities have been at pains to deal with circumspectly.

Not Dutton, who launches straight in.

“All of that is not the actions of a friend… We need to make sure that yes, we’ve got an important trading relationship, but China and others need to understand that Australia is not going to be bullied. We are standing up for who we are. We’ve got very important diplomatic relations with many countries including China, but we aren’t going to be compromised by the principles of the Communist Party of China.”

Dutton apparently wants to look like a hawk but the reality is that he is an albatross around the neck of this country.

It’s time for the people of Dickson to ‘take out the trash‘ before this idiot, as he inevitably does, makes things worse.

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No amount of “official” photography can hide the man beneath the baseball cap

Before he became Prime Minister, you never saw photos of Scott Morrison wearing a baseball cap. Or building a chicken coop. Or cooking a curry. Or injecting himself into kids’ footie training. Or wearing boardies and thongs whilst on the phone to an international counterpart.

You’re not a celebrity, you’re an elected representative, you’re a member of parliament,” said Julie Bishop once, referring to a photo shoot by Julia Gillard.

So why are we subjected to this very staged presentation? Are the cheesy shots by Scotty’s “official” photographer supposed to make us forget what Morrison has said and done… or not done?

Mind you, this fixation with marketing is nothing new for ProMo.

During his first year as Immigration Minister, Morrison and his Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash spent nearly $120,000 monitoring the media for mentions of their names and the immigration portfolio, eclipsing cabinet colleagues including Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

They had changed the language regarding asylum seekers – those who travelled by boat were now called “illegal arrivals” and those held at detention centres became “detainees” rather than clients – and they wanted to track how their dog-whistling was being received.

The Canon of St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne, Stephen Ames, exposed Morrison’s real intent.

“It is misrepresenting the state of people who are fleeing for their lives, and to call them illegal and to perpetuate that and other dehumanising kind of labels, just doesn’t acknowledge their situation. The impression gets formed in the community that… they’ve broken a law, there’s something wrong here. It heightens fear and suspicion. These stereotypes get going, it produces a toxic atmosphere about these people.”

And it wasn’t just the church that deplored Morrison’s inhumanity. When he was invited to speak at a function at his old school, the alumni did not hold back in their criticism.

“We call on the Old Boys Union to immediately rescind the invitation so as to spare the organisation, and the school itself, the embarrassment of being seen to celebrate the achievements of a man who has so flagrantly disregarded human rights.

A similar sentiment had been expressed by the students of Tony Abbott’s old school.

“We look for heroes among our alumni, for insignes (generous and influential people, as Ignatius styled them). Instead we see only allegiances to parties that trade human lives for political expediency, that choose the lowest common denominator to woo the populace, and that speak of economic problems rather than the dignity of the human person, especially the most vulnerable.”

This was never about “saving lives at sea” as shown by Morrison’s dogged determination to make life even harder for those who had come seeking our help, particularly in getting his way about Temporary Protection Visas.

Former Dept of Immigration employee, Shaun Hanns, describes in detail the lengths Morrison went to – that the minister was informed of the dubious legal nature of these tactics and was “comfortable” with them.

Hanns speaks of the concessions to Clive Palmer, which created a pathway to residency and citizenship for those with lots of money and how that undermined the system. He also spoke about the blackmailing of crossbench Senator Ricky Muir.

“Morrison made a clear threat to crossbench senators. The 1,550 people then residing on Christmas Island, including a substantial number of children, would be sent to Nauru and Manus instead of being resettled in Australia if the legislation failed to pass. As several politicians observed at the time, the government was in effect holding children in detention to ransom. What I personally can’t get past, though, was the decision to use 31 infant children as a bargaining chip to convince Ricky Muir to vote for the bill.”

We have since paid, and continue to face, huge compensation claims from refugees who have been incarcerated indefinitely in terrible conditions, suffering physical and mental harm and a shocking loss of opportunity to become productive citizens.

When Morrison moved on to Social Services Minister, the reaction from many was that he now had a whole new group of vulnerable people to persecute.

In a speech at an ACOSS summit in 2015, Morrison detailed his desire for the private sector to take a greater profit-making role in the welfare system – cue Indue’s cashless welfare card and JobActive providers.

“What I am basically saying is that welfare must become a good deal for investors – for private investors. We have to make it a good deal – for the returns to be there, to attract the level of capital that will be necessary.”

Because privatisation has worked so well in aged and disability care… so well, in fact, that we have Royal Commissions into both sectors that have heard horrific accounts of the litany of failures to care for and protect our most vulnerable.

When Bill Shorten said three years ago that aged care was in “a state of national crisis”, Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt responded by accusing Mr Shorten of “fear-mongering”.

“I’m slow to anger but I must admit that recently the Opposition Leader commenting that the system is in crisis and a national disgrace was not becoming of what I would expect in a bilateral and bipartisan approach to aged care. This demeans every one of those dedicated aged care workers and it achieves nothing but instilling fear into the hearts and minds of older Australians… For the Opposition Leader to continue this fear-mongering is verging on the abuse of elder Australians and it must stop.”

Four months later, in filming for the Four Corners expose Who Cares?, Wyatt dismissed the idea of a Royal Commission saying it would be a waste of money because the government was already reviewing the sector.

“A royal commission, after two years and maybe $200 million being spent on it, will come back with the same set or a very similar set of recommendations,” he said.

One month after that, Wyatt stood next to Scott Morrison as he announced the RC into aged care the day before the Four Corners series was to go to air.

Morrison was the Social Services minister when robodebt was conceived. He was the Treasurer when it was enacted. He continued the welfare debt recovery program as Prime Minister and pinned a promised return to surplus on its projected windfall.

Emails have since revealed that the Morrison government was warned the scheme was illegal and the ‘debts’ were not lawful, but apparently Scott was, once again, ‘comfortable’ with that – as if the poor can make a fuss. But they did. And the government settled for $1.2 billion hours before court proceedings were to begin.

On becoming Prime Minster, Morrison assured us he had nothing to do with the coup against Turnbull. He told us that the bullying that Liberal women endured had been fixed.

He has variously reminded us that ‘I don’t hold the hose, I’m not the Police Commissioner, I don’t go to Marches, the premiers and health authorities are responsible for any restrictions, vaccine hold-ups are nothing to do with a lack of planning and preparation by the Commonwealth government, and no-one told me about… pretty much anything bad’.

No amount of photo shoots and image massaging or efforts to silence dissent and exhortations to all row together along the Kakoda Trail (or some such inane analogy) can hide the man beneath the baseball cap.

How good is Scott?

Not very.

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“This isn’t an outcome-oriented workplace”

It’s kind of disheartening when the people who make our laws and have complete control of our common wealth admit that their only goal is to get rid of the other side.

When The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age invited federal MPs to attend a one-hour Zoom demonstration of what an empathy training course entails, five agreed – and their responses demonstrate exactly why we must change, not only our government, but our whole system of governance.

Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes, described as a “passionate advocate for rural and regional NSW” despite living on Sydney’s North Shore, had no qualms in setting us straight about our expectations of a constructive, respectful workplace in Parliament.

“Parliament and politics by its nature is actually not about compromise,” Hughes said. “This isn’t necessarily an outcome-oriented workplace. It’s a political workplace that has quite an adversarial nature at times.”

Not about compromise? Not outcome-oriented?

It seems our politicians have never grown up from their university debating days.

Barnaby Joyce seems to be channelling his rugby school days when adding his insight into what his job entails.

“[B]y its very nature, Parliament has the objective that one side has to get rid of the other, and vice versa. It’s a hostile crazy boarding school out in the country.”

Barnaby also had a bit to say on the idea that morality was a “core competency” for empathy.

“The morals of someone at Nimbin are going to be entirely different to the morals of someone at St Mary’s Cathedral, but neither of them would think they are personally doing something immoral.”

Is he equating smoking pot with institutionalised child sex abuse? Is he saying Catholic churchgoers like him are automatically of high moral standing?

Craig Kelly said he was too old to learn anything.

“You might be able to train someone as a teenager. When you’re 40 or 50 or 60 years old, it’s very hard to change your perspective of life.”

No wonder he thinks science is bullshit.

These are the people entrusted with the responsibility to make the decisions that determine our future.

It’s time we demanded better.

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I’m listening – and you better not say anything I don’t want to hear

Scotty is listening to women. Well, that’s what he tells us at least. But if history is anything to go by, a woman expressing an opinion Scotty doesn’t like is liable to find herself out of a job or, at the very least, the subject of a blistering and co-ordinated smear campaign.

When the Australian Human Rights Commission produced a report on children in detention, then-President Gillian Triggs was mercilessly attacked and hounded out of her job.

SCOTT MORRISON: “I don’t think the Human Rights Commission is being well served by her tenure. I don’t think Australians feel better and more supportive of the Australian Human Rights Commission because of her engagement in various issues. And what from, from… looking outside in I’m sure looks like a complete partisan approach to these sorts of issues.”

When ABC journalist Emma Alberici wrote an article analysing Treasurer Morrison’s proposed company tax cuts, the hit squad were so outraged they insisted she withdraw her article and put pressure on the ABC management to get rid of her.

Georgie Dent wrote a piece about how the 2020 budget had let women down. The next morning, she was contacted by the office of the PM, telling her that her article was “factually inaccurate” and “no one credible” was making that argument.

Within hours, a tsunami of “credible” women and men united behind Dent on social media under the #crediblewomen banner, all making precisely the same point.

In response to an impassioned speech by Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, Scotty said kids should be kids and leave the adults to think about that stuff.

Which was almost as dismissive as his bimbo putdown of Pamela Anderson‘s advocacy for Julian Assange.

And woe betide anyone who messes with our jingoistic public holidays.

On Anzac Day, Yassmin Abdel-Magied posted a private Facebook post that read: “Lest We Forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine …)”. She was then subjected to the most horrific personal attack, forcing her to leave the country.

“There was a concerted effort to ruin my life, and nobody stopped them. Not the government, not advocacy groups, no one. I was out there alone.”

There was similar outrage from the top when Dr Annaliese van Diemen, Victoria’s Deputy CHO and a respected public health physician, tweeted on her personal account:

“Sudden arrival of an invader from another land, decimating populations, creating terror. Forces the population to make enormous sacrifices & completely change how they live in order to survive. COVID-19 or Cook 1770?”

Morrison hit the airwaves to express his disappointment.

“She clearly wouldn’t get the job as chief historian,” Mr Morrison told Alan Jones on radio station 2GB. “People should stick to their day jobs.”

So much for truth-telling.

Anika Smethurst got raided by the police for telling the truth. Samantha Maiden got called a “mad fucking witch” for telling the truth. Brittany Higgins got called a “lying cow” for telling the truth. Louise Milligan is being sued for telling the truth.

Scott Morrison tells us that it is actions, not words, that count. Mind you, he only says that when avoiding any commitment to targets on emission reduction, but, if we are to judge him by his actions towards women raising their voice, we still have a very long way to go before he will consider us worth listening to.

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Oh beaut – a ‘taskforce’

Rest easy, ladies, we got ourselves a taskforce – a Cabinet taskforce, no less – who are going to fix women’s equality, safety, economic security, health and well-being by putting a gender lens on policy.

It will be made up of 4 men and every woman they could scrape together – the same women who have, by their silence, enabled a toxic workplace to flourish. The same women who have ridiculed affirmative action describing it as playing the gender card. The same women who have voted for so many policies that have been detrimental to women. The same women who have been called ‘handbags’, as they are trotted out to defend the boys club.

Even discussing how women are affected became ‘identity politics’. Feminist became a derogatory label.

In 2014, after 40 years of production, the Commonwealth government stopped producing the Women’s Budget Statement as part of the official Budget papers. Hey, we had the Prime Minister for Women, Tony Abbott, to look after us. Why worry our pretty little heads about all those confusing numbers when we have ironing to do.

Assisting him was Michaelia Cash who, in the lead-up to International Women’s Day in 2014, said “In terms of feminism, I’ve never been someone who really associates with that movement. That movement was a set of ideologies from many, many decades ago now.”

They got rid of the schoolkids bonus, a timely payment that helped families pay for school needs, preferring for the mining companies to keep their super profits.

They argued to reduce penalty rates, mainly impacting women and young people.

They slashed funding for shelters, legal aid, and community support programs because a surplus was their only goal and they wanted the most vulnerable to fund it whilst giving tax cuts to the wealthy.

And far from delivering on the promised improvement to Paid Parental Leave, they labelled women as “double dippers” if they combined the current government assistance with a workplace entitlement.

In 2018, Jane Hume, our new Minister for Financial Services, Superannuation, the Digital Economy and Women’s Economic Security, dismissed the idea of quotas to address the dismal number of women in her party.

“For women that don’t get there, the trick is to work that little bit harder. Don’t get bitter. Get better. Work harder. Nothing that is worth getting doesn’t come without hard work.”

Ms Hume said she “really disliked being patronised as if I am a minority. We are capable of anything but we are entitled to nothing. We have to work for what we want.”

She was then asked if an African migrant living in Melbourne “had just as much chance to get into parliament as somebody who goes to a private school in Toorak? Does she have the same connections and networks and start with the same family?”

Hume also wants us to use superannuation for everything but funding our retirement – family violence, home deposit, emergency expenses – consigning many more people to a life on an inadequate pension. And you can bet your nelly that the legislated increases in the superannuation guarantee will be abandoned, further widening the gender gap in retirement income.

These are the women who, after revealing the shocking bullying and harassment they endured during the leadership spill, were silenced by either promotion or getting rid of them, choosing party loyalty or personal ambition over holding perpetrators to account.

We have a mute Minister for Women who wouldn’t even meet with the March4Justice. Assisting her is a woman who is anti-abortion, anti the “transgender agenda”, who thinks men are victims of scurrilous allegations of sexual abuse, and who thinks men’s rights activist Bettina Arndt was deserving of an Australia Day award for “services to gender equity”.

Despite the disproportionate effect of COVID-19 on women, the October budget delivered by Josh Frydenberg concentrated its stimulus in the male-dominated areas of construction, energy, transport and manufacturing.

Many had pressed the government to use stimulus spending to invest in social housing, support for the caring professions, child care, aged care and disability care, as well as the female-dominated sectors also hard hit in the wake of COVID-19. These recommendations were made not just because of the loss of employment, but also because COVID-19 exposed the opportunity to reform a number of systemic issues and would likely provide a greater increase in employment.

But long-term planning and investment in society isn’t this government’s best thing.

Announce a taskforce of the women who you know won’t make waves. Tell them they are all being promoted. Then get back to the boy’s business of making rich people richer.

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Spare me your tears

A ‘tearful’ Scott Morrison took to the stage this morning to tell us how his daughters, his wife, and his mother are the centre of his life.

Yeah, we know. That’s how he began his election campaign – “Aren’t they fantastic? How good is Mum? How good is Jenny?”

So, aside from the fact that he has female relatives, why was Scotty upset?

“I acknowledge that many Australians, especially women, believe that I have not heard them, and that greatly distresses me.”

The tears were not for the victims and survivors of sexual assault. It very much sounded like the PM is finally realising that this could hurt him electorally.

“Now is not the time for me to run over whether as a Minister for immigration or a Treasurer, or a Minister for Social Services, the keen interest I have shown in these issues, I’m not going to do that today.”

Keen interest??? So interested that you did nothing about the complaints from female colleagues about bullying and harassment during your knifing of an elected Prime Minister? So interested that your staff and colleagues made sure not to tell you about two rape allegations so you could do your Sgt Schultz act?

“I have heard that women are overlooked, talked over, by men, whether it is in board rooms, meeting rooms, rooms, media conferences, cabinets, or anywhere else. Overlooked and treated like they have nothing valuable to contribute.”

Oh you’ve only ‘heard’ about that? Did you hear it from Julie Bishop?

Recalling incidents in 2013, where she was at one point the only woman in cabinet, Ms Bishop spoke of the difficulty of getting her voice heard in a room full of 18 men.

“People would be talking and then I would intervene to say something and there would be silence, and then they’d just keep on talking,” she said. “(Then) somebody would say precisely what I’d said and all the guys would say ‘gee that’s a great idea, why don’t we do that?’ And I’d think, didn’t I say that?”

Or perhaps you heard it from Anne Ruston who you wouldn’t even let answer a question directed to her about the culture in parliament.

Phil Coorey, journalist: “As a woman in government, your reflections on the culture inside, has it got better, worse or no change since the ‘bonk ban’?”

Ruston: “Well, Phil, the only thing that I can …”

Morrison: “How this ban is referred to I think is quite dismissive of the seriousness of the issue, Phil. And I would ask the media to stop referring to it in that way. We took it very seriously, and I think constantly referring to it in that way dismisses the seriousness of this issue. It’s a very serious issue. Thanks. Anne.”

Scotty has also heard about women “being belittled, women being diminished, and women being objectified. That is not OK.”

Perhaps he heard that from Pamela Anderson when she urged him to help Julian Assange.

“I’ve had plenty of mates who’ve asked me if they can be my special envoy to sort the issue out with Pamela Anderson,” smirked Scotty.

“You trivialised and laughed about the suffering of an Australian and his family. You followed it with smutty, unnecessary comments about a woman voicing her political opinion,” Ms Anderson wrote in response.

“Rather than making lewd suggestions about me, perhaps you should instead think about what you are going to say to millions of Australians when one of their own is marched in an orange jumpsuit to Guantanamo Bay — for publishing the truth.”

Scotty kept up his caring façade until it came to questions from the media.

When asked if he had “lost control of his staff”, Morrison reverted to type, attacking the journalist who had asked the question.

“You would be aware that in your own organisation that there is a person who has had a complaint made against them for harassment of a woman,” Mr Morrison told Sky News political editor Andrew Clennell, after being asked about parliamentary culture. “That matter is being pursued by your own HR department.”

“if anyone in this room wants to offer up the standards in their own work places as comparison, I would invite you to do so. You are free to make your criticisms and to stand on that pedestal but be careful.”

Ahhh, the old ‘glass houses’ attack – just like his warnings to Labor. Dob on us and see what happens.

The problem was it seems Scotty gave details of the alleged incident on national TV without gaining the consent of the woman who had made the complaint.

So much for respecting the agency and confidentiality of the complainant, the excuse used for the disgraceful handling/coverup of the Higgins case.

Spare me your tears about how unfairly you have been treated, Scott, Linda and Christian. It’s not about you.

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How good is Gerry!

When Gerry Harvey gave an interview to 60 Minutes in March last year, he asked, “Why are we so scared about getting this virus? It’s pretty much nothing to get scared of.”

Instead, he saw it as an opportunity.

“Our sales are up … by 9 per cent on last year. Our sales in freezers are up 300 per cent. And what about air purifiers? Up 100 per cent!” Gerry boasted.

Predictably, there was a stinging public backlash. People were dying.

“It’s no revelation that Gerry Harvey is a selfish loudmouth whose constant acting out is likely a manifestation of dementia. Even still, the veteran retailer’s 60 Minutes interview on Sunday was genuinely breathtaking,” wrote Joe Aston in the AFR.

A few days later, with the country in lockdown and a social media campaign to boycott his stores, Gerry was backpedalling.

“Now, everyone thinks I’m this callous old bastard out making a profit on other people’s misery … but believe me, that was not my intention. I was trying to give a positive view.”

As it turns out, Gerry was right, both on the opportunity presented and on his self-assessment of making a profit from misery.

A couple of weeks ago, the Daily Telegraph included a magazine called the Sydney Power 100, and there at number 7 were Gerry Harvey and his wife, Katie Page.

As editor Ben English explained, coronavirus was “the great power shift of 2020.”

“Those who adapted, who recognized the opportunity in the great crisis, bolstered their power and not only survived, but thrived.”

According to the Telegraph, “Harvey Norman profits jumped by 160% in the first four months of 2020 and the boom continues.”

Which makes me wonder how they qualified for the JobKeeper payment which, for companies with over a billion in turnover, had to show a decline of 50% to be eligible.

In February, Harvey Norman reported that first-half sales climbed 25% and contributed to a net profit after tax of $462.03m for the last six months of 2020 – up 116% on the same time period in the previous year.

The retailer said it would pay dividends totalling $249m, of which Gerry Harvey is set to receive $78m due to his 31.4% shareholding in the company.

Despite this, they declined to pay back the estimated $22 million they somehow collected for JobKeeper, a payment they should never have qualified to receive.

But that’s all fine and dandy with the Treasurer apparently who won’t be asking for the money back from any of the companies who claimed the payment despite making higher profits.

As Secretary of the ACTU Sally McManus pointed out, “They have no qualms about requesting and forcing people to pay back Centrelink payments – no problem with that whatsoever. Somehow we’re all supposed to sit back and say ‘oh well that’s OK, that’s just the rules that apply to big business in this country’.”

“That’s disgusting.”

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Nicolle Flint’s “non-political” attack on Labor

Nicolle Flint seemed to be trying for a Julia Gillard moment yesterday when she attacked Anthony Albanese.

“I say to the leader of the opposition: I will not be lectured by you. I will not be lectured by your side of politics about the treatment of women in this place.”

Ms Flint, after saying that “the safety of women in this place should be above politics,” went on to get very political:

“What I say to the Labor party today is that they may not have held the spray can to vandalise my office with sexist slurs and they may not have held the camera pointed at me by the stalker or called me evil in GetUp’s phone calls, but they did create the environment in which hate could flourish.”

Oh come on, Nicolle.

It was Morrison who reportedly urged your party to capitalise on community fears about Muslim integration as a political strategy.

It was Abbott who stood in front of signs saying Ditch the Witch and Juliar and Bob Browne’s bitch.

It is Peter Dutton who spends every waking moment demonising refugees.

It is your government who has labelled welfare recipients “leaners”.

You have deliberately, for your own political advantage, stoked fear, division, and disinformation.

Where were you when SA Senator Lucy Gichuhi, and many of your female colleagues, were bullied and intimidated during the leadership spill? Where was your support for Julia Banks?

Senator Gichuhi said “I had senators and ministers in tears, that’s how bad it was. One of my colleagues was in tears the whole day.”

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

Morrison’s response?

“The events of a couple of weeks ago, I have described as a Muppet Show and the curtain comes down on that and Australians expect us to get on with our jobs.”

Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

When the allegations against Christian Porter surfaced, Sarah Henderson tried to raise again the allegations against Bill Shorten.

As was quickly pointed out, the police DID investigate those allegations unlike in the Porter case.

And if there was any doubt that Nicolle’s contribution was absolutely political, it was blown away today at #Scottyfrommarketing’s press conference about the COVID situation in PNG where he magnanimously took one question about another topic.

Except it was a set-up as exposed by Paul Karp who tweeted:

“Oh wow PM staff indicated to Morrison to take a question from Chris Uhlmann – the only non PNG vaccination question – and it’s about Nicolle Flints speech on her experience of sexism. Now PM has to go, so none on govt handling of rape allegations.

The govt is determined to create a false equivalence between its fumbling the Brittany Higgins allegation, failure to investigate allegation against Porter (which he denies) and Flints complaints about GetUp.”

Limp lettuce leaf Uhlmann asked his Dorothy Dixxer and the PM responded:

“I think she’s incredibly brave. I know how brave she was because I was there with her as she endured one of the ugliest campaigns I’ve ever seen besieged against not just a woman but anyone in this country and her determination to stand up to that in the face of the most vitriolic of abuse, stalking and threats to her own public security was absolutely appalling and I just am amazed at the Labor Party and the unions and GetUp just standing by to let that happen.

They were aware. They saw it. They were happy to be advantaged by it and I think she’s called it out well and I think she’s an incredibly strong woman.”

Are we supposed to forget that a woman was (allegedly) raped in the office of a senior Minister and nothing was done about it? The multitudinous people who knew didn’t bother informing the Minister for Finance whose department was the investigating body? No-one told the Prime Minister?

I am certain that complaints of sexual harassment will emerge from Labor’s call for women to come forward. It remains to be seen how they will handle things but I have more confidence in Labor women working for change than in the Liberal Party handmaidens.

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The trouble with being privileged is that you cannot fathom what it is like for those who are not

When Linda Reynolds and Christian Porter shed public tears, it was not for a young employee who had allegedly been raped in your workplace by another hand-picked employee, it was not for a friend from years ago who had tragically taken her own life.

Oh no, those tears were solely about the possible political consequences for the Ministers involved.

When Joe Hockey increased the fuel excise, he told us it wouldn’t impact poor people because they “either don’t have cars or actually don’t drive very far.” Ignore the tolls that cripple those who live in the outer suburbs, ignore the price rises that businesses pass on to cover higher distribution and delivery costs.

Julia Banks told us that she “could live on 40 bucks a day knowing that the government is supporting me with Newstart looking for employment.” I would suggest lawyer and businesswoman Julia, has never drawn up a budget in her life without a sizable bank account, portfolio of assets, and high income to back it up.

Michaelia Cash didn’t whinge when she had “practically nothing” as she spent three years backpacking around the world after finishing university. She knows what it’s like to try to survive on $40 a day whilst holidaying overseas decades ago.

But hey, the poor are getting an extra $3.50 a day. Hawaii here we come!

When Jon Faine was discussing how his children could not break into the property market, Malcolm Turnbull’s response was that Faine should “shell out for them – you should support them… You can provide a bit of intergenerational equity in the Faine family.”

Joe Hockey had an even better plan.

“The starting point for a first home buyer is to get a good job that pays good money,” he said. “Then you can go to the bank and you can borrow money.”


Whenever the Coalition carries on about ‘mum-and-dad investors’ and self-funded retirees, I wonder if they realise that, for so many Australians, investment is something entirely beyond their means. Too many families struggle to feed and house their children. The idea of investing to provide for a comfortable retirement will never be on their radar.

What the hell are franking credits and how did they become so important?

The government cannot understand why the public want transparency about contracts and grants. The money is theirs to give to whoever they want and if they want to give millions to Foxtel, they will.

When Gladys Berejiklian was questioned about handing out grants to Coalition seats with no consultation, her office had sadly shredded all documents and erased all emails about the matter.

And why should porkbarrelling concern us anyway wondered an incredulous Gladys. Everyone does it. It’s not illegal.

When Indigenous men were accused of child sex abuse, we staged a military style Intervention. When Catholic priests were accused of child sex abuse, Prime Ministers wrote them references.

When Indigenous people have an alcohol problem, we subject them to income management. When politicians have an alcohol problem, they write a book.

The government want to cut taxes again.

But all that means to those who pay no taxes – the young, the elderly, the poor, the unemployed, the disabled – is that there will be less money to provide the services they need.

But hey, why should the vulnerable spoil a political strategy. I’m sure Crosby-Textor have their tax misinformation campaign cocked and ready to fire.

And that’s without mentioning some of the consequences of male privilege… which I am too exhausted to talk about any more.

The notion that we are all treated equally before the law is one that only privileged people could possibly believe.

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