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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 – modern liberal or con man?

When George Brandis created a very high-paying job as a human rights commissioner to gift to Tim Wilson without any selection process, it raised many eyebrows, not least because Wilson, in his role at the IPA, had been calling for the abolition of the very organisation he was now to join.

But that conundrum pales into insignificance in comparison to freedom boy’s new found embrace of action on climate change – a change of heart that followed the shock loss in the Wentworth byelection.

Tim has now joined the Parliamentary Friends of Climate Action group and is hitting the airwaves to tell us all about it.

“Some of us want sensible, sustainable policy that confronts Australia’s emissions challenge, focuses on technology and economic growth and doesn’t leave Australians behind,” he said.

Well, that’s terrific Tim, except, having a memory slightly longer than a goldfish, I recall what you said when you were Director of Climate Change Policy at the IPA.

Here is Tim in 2012 arguing for us to get out of Kyoto.

When covering the Copenhagen climate change talks in 2009, Tim was at his witty worst.

“for the first time in the ten year history of the Awards, the “Ray of the Day” Award was given out to Tuvalu for arguing for a binding, international treaty to cut global carbon dioxide emissions.  If the event weren’t such a farce, it’d almost be funny.”

Or this enlightened appraisal…

“…there was a much greater presence of anti-capitalist sentiment amongst protestors today with placards and posters decrying “toxic capitalism” and “change the system, not the climate”.

But opposition to capitalism clearly only went so far with a little coffee stall where you could get a “green bean” coffee.

I presume the protestors turned a blind eye to the fact that beans were imported from the other side of the world by a carbon emitting shipping line and traded on globalised international markets.

But considering how cold it is in Copenhagen I can understand putting ideology to one side especially when the objective is to warm up. Oh, except when it is the climate.”

For Tim, it’s all about the money.

“For developed countries, the negotiations are about how much they have to give to that adaptation financing pool, and how much they’ll have to harm their economies and their competitive advantage against developing countries through emissions reduction as well.”

But if you think our economy is his major concern, you would be wrong.  Tim is singularly focused on his own economy and there is not a principle he wouldn’t ditch in order to feather his own nest.

In a revealing interview in the SMH in 2014, Wilson explains his tactics.

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.”

The only thing that qualifies this dilettante to be a leader in our country is his overweening self-confidence, his shameless self-promotion, and his ability to brazenly claim that there is nothing inconsistent in his weathervane flip-flopping.

 

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Dutton The Dud strikes again

Peter Dutton has used his preferred diplomatic channel, 2GB, to mightily piss off our biggest trading partner by saying that the policies of the Communist Party of China are “inconsistent with those of Australia.”

Further wading into the mire, he proclaimed that “Australia is not going to allow university students to be unduly influenced by China, the theft of intellectual property or the hacking of government or non-government organisations.”

The reaction from the Chinese was predictable, calling his comments “irrational”, “shocking” and “baseless”.

“We strongly condemn his malicious slur on the Communist Party of China, which constitutes an outright provocation to the Chinese people,” it said in a statement.  “Such ridiculous rhetoric severely harms the mutual trust between China and Australia and betrays the common interests of the two peoples.”

The only surprising thing here is that anyone is surprised by Dutton’s comments.  He seems to be on a mission to offend as many people as he can.

In 2008, he chose not to be present in the chamber during the apology to the Stolen Generations because it would do nothing for “kids who are being raped and tortured in communities in the 21st century.”

On 11 September 2015, Dutton was overheard on an open microphone, before a community meeting on Syrian refugees, joking about rising sea levels in the Pacific Islands. He said, “time doesn’t mean anything when you’re about to have water lapping at your door”.

The foreign minister of the Marshall Islands at the time, Tony deBrum, responded by writing the “insensitivity knows no bounds in the big polluting island down [south]” and the “Next time waves are battering my home [and] my kids are scared, I’ll ask Peter Dutton to come over, and he is still probably laughing,”

Before the 2016 election, Dutton said of refugees “many … won’t be numerate or literate in their own language let alone English”, and “These people would be taking Australian jobs”.

Then In November 2016, Dutton said it was a mistake by the Malcolm Fraser administration to have admitted Lebanese Muslim immigrants because second and third-generation descendants were terrorists.

In March 2018 Dutton made calls to treat white South African farmers as refugees, stating that “they need help from a civilised country”.  The Australian High Commissioner was subsequently summoned by the South African foreign ministry, which expressed its offence at Dutton’s statements, and demanded a “full retraction”

Dutton was roundly ridiculed when he said that people in Melbourne were too scared to go out to dinner because of “African gang violence”.

One could be forgiven for dismissing Dutton as an oafish lout who has no empathy, no respect, no communication skills, and no fucking idea how to win co-operation – but the reality is probably much more sinister,

Peter Dutton is a political animal who seems to think that being racist will appeal to us.

Considering his vote went up in the last election despite his appalling performance, he may be right.

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Labor are losing their nerve

When the Coalition under Malcolm Turnbull won 76 seats in the 2016 election, it was generally accepted that Turnbull had “blown it” and the knives were quickly sharpened.  Yet when the ad man wins 77 seats, he is hailed as a messiah that has delivered a decisive victory enabling the Coalition to do whatever they damn well please.

Let’s be clear about that election result.

Leaving out Queensland, in the rest of the country, Labor won 62 seats compared to the Coalition’s 54.  That is a resounding victory.

We have the government that Queensland thrust upon us against the wishes of every other state and territory (except WA – the only other state where the Coalition won a majority of seats).

Instead of highlighting that endorsement, Labor are flapping around like a dying Murray cod, desperately trying to find something or someone to blame.

Labor’s agriculture and resources spokesman, Joel Fitzgibbon, told Gerard Henderson’s Sydney Institute that the ALP should offer “a political and policy settlement” on climate policy “to make 28% the target by 2030”.  Matt Keogh agrees.

This view has nothing to do with science or jobs or responsible governance and everything to do with self-serving politics.

“How many times are we going to let it kill us? Indeed, how many leaders do we want to lose to it?” said Fitzgibbon whose primary vote in his coal-mining electorate fell 14% at the last election.

If Fitzgibbon was worth his salt, he would be pointing out to his constituents that opening Adani will lead to job losses in existing coal mines.  He should recognise that automation will also threaten coal-mining jobs and be transitioning his electorate towards more sustainable industries and employment.

Did I mention climate change?

At the time when we need them most, Labor are losing their nerve.

Fitzgibbon did say one thing with which I agree – “Labor’s equivocation over the Adani coal mine left us in no man’s land,” though I doubt we mean the same thing when we say that.

Speaking of Adani, despite government approvals being fast-tracked and a timetable of what happens next being published by the Coordinator-General, Adani continues to fail to meet deadlines.

The royalties agreement with the Queensland government was supposed to be finalised by September 30.  That deadline has now been put back to November 30.  Worryingly, the timetable now says “Agreement not required for construction of mine or rail to commence.”

Infrastructure and interface agreements with the Whitsunday RC and the DMRT also missed their September 30 deadline with hopes now that they will be concluded mid-October.

Accreditation as a Rail Infrastructure Manager (RIM) and Rolling Stock Operator (RSO) – Stage 1: construction and Stage 2: commissioning of rollingstock – were supposed to be concluded by July 31.  The latest release on October 1 states that “Adani will continue to work with the Commonwealth Office of the National Rail Safety Regulator to obtain necessary approvals. This approval not on the critical path and the Coordinator-General will continue to monitor.”

As climate activists around the world hit the streets pleading with governments to take urgent action, Labor is missing a crucial opportunity, preferring to investigate how they can be more like the Coalition.

Trying to appeal to Queenslanders is a road to ruin.  Have a go at the people they choose to represent them – Peter Dutton, Matt Canavan, George Christensen, Stuart Robert, James McGrath, Andrew Laming, Pauline Hanson, Malcolm Roberts, Bob Katter – what a sorry bunch.

We need strong leadership and conviction to tackle the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.  Sadly, Labor seems more interested in courting votes from those who will never vote for them than in saving the planet.

 

Now is NOT the time to be a ‘quiet Australian’

There is a disturbing trend emerging in Australia where the government is increasingly trying to silence the people.

They have painted unionists as lawless thugs and removed our ability to withhold our labour without their pre-arranged permission.

They have made charity funding dependent on them being uncritical of government policy.

They label conservationists and animal welfare groups as ecoterrorists and are pushing forward with legislation to make protesting unlawful if it causes any sort of disruption.

Public servants, journalists and whistleblowers face prosecution if they reveal what the government is doing.

They claim the gay community has “an agenda” and are therefore trying to introduce laws that make discrimination against them legal but discrimination against religious people illegal.

They dismiss school students who are concerned about inaction on climate change as being brainwashed by virtue-signalling elites and tell them to be quiet and get back to school.

Our leaders seem to feel impervious but they would do well to take some lessons from the past.

“We wear no mark; we belong to every class; we permeate every class of the community from the highest to the lowest; and so you see in the woman’s civil war the dear men of my country are discovering it is absolutely impossible to deal with it: you cannot locate it, and you cannot stop it.”

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst – Connecticut 1913

“The time comes in the life of any nation when there remain only two choices – submit or fight. That time has now come to South Africa. We shall not submit and we have no choice but to hit back by all means in our power in defence of our people, our future, and our freedom.

I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal, which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

Anti-Apartheid activist Nelson Mandela – High treason trial 1964

 “In the democracy which I have envisaged, a democracy established by nonviolence, there will be equal freedom for all. Everybody will be his own master. It is to join a struggle for such democracy that I invite you today. Once you realize this you will forget the differences between the Hindus and Muslims, and think of yourselves as Indians only, engaged in the common struggle for independence.”

Independence campaigner Mahatma Gandhi – Address to the A.I.C.C. 1942

 “I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream. I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”

Civil rights campaigner Martin Luther King – March on Washington 1963

“Without hope, not only gays, but those who are blacks, the Asians, the disabled, the seniors, the us’s; without hope the us’s give up. I know that you cannot live on hope alone, but without it, life is not worth living. And you, and you, and you, and you have got to give them hope.”

Gay rights activist Harvey Milk – Hope Speech 1978

“Whether we turn to the declarations of the past, or to the professions of the present, the conduct of the nation seems equally hideous and revolting. America is false to the past, false to the present, and solemnly binds herself to be false to the future.”

Anti-slavery campaigner Frederick Douglass – New York 1852

Perhaps the final word of encouragement – or warning – should come from Noam Chomsky’s “Business Elites Are Waging a Brutal Class War in America”:

“If you care about other people, that’s now a very dangerous idea. If you care about other people, you might try to organize to undermine power and authority. That’s not going to happen if you care only about yourself. Maybe you can become rich, but you don’t care whether other people’s kids can go to school, or can afford food to eat, or things like that. In the United States, that’s called “libertarian” for some wild reason. I mean, it’s actually highly authoritarian, but that doctrine is extremely important for power systems as a way of atomizing and undermining the public.”

Will Australians be forced from their complacency?  Will self-interest prevail until the masses rise up?

The time for swallowing bullshit is over.  They leave us no choice but to make our voices heard in ways and numbers that they cannot ignore.

“In 1967 we were counted, in 2017 we seek to be heard. We leave base camp and start our trek across this vast country. We invite you to walk with us in a movement of the Australian people for a better future.” Uluru Statement from the Heart

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Conservatives can’t keep up

Conservative ideology and policy making is informed by the past and constrained by current capability.  It struggles with recognising the challenges of the future and the innovation needed to deal with them.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the eye-watering sums that we waste on so-called defence spending.

In the four budgets since the 2016 white paper, defence has received $143.2 billion in funding.  This year’s budget is about $106 million per day (not including funds appropriated to the Defence Housing Authority, nor those administered by Defence for military superannuation schemes and housing support services).

Capital expenditure alone will be $19 billion a year at the end of the forward estimates, growing to $23 billion a year by the end of the White Paper decade.   Since 2013–14, when the Coalition came to power, that’s real growth of 185%.

This rapid increase in projected expenditure has been beset with problems, not least of which is the inability to attract personnel.

By now, the ADF was supposed to have increased by 1730 people but they have only been able to recruit 600.  HMAS Perth will be up on blocks for two years after its latest upgrade for want of a crew.

We have always had trouble finding enough submariners for the six submarines that we have let alone when we ramp up to twelve in the coming decades.  $79 billion is a lot to spend on something you can’t use.

But finding personnel is not their only problem.

With increased capability comes increased sustainment costs.

The first of the F-35A aircraft have arrived but, to achieve final operating capability, the fleet’s flying hours will need to increase nearly sixfold over the next four years which will be expensive as their hourly flight cost is twice the classic Hornet’s.

The Future Submarine Program delivering the Attack-class submarines took nearly three years to sign its head contract, which is the strategic partnering agreement.  There is still confusion about where the submarine yard will be.

If all goes well, we won’t get the first of the new frigates into service until around 2030 and the first submarine won’t be in service until 2034 or 2035, despite a conservative design philosophy based on using only currently mature technologies.

ASPI predicted that Defence will have spent over $20 billion before the first frigate and submarine become operational.  They are now saying that looks conservative.

We are spending hundreds of billions on acquiring and sustaining “exquisitely expensive” manned-warships that “are too valuable to risk losing” in a world that is rapidly moving into the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ of autonomous systems, artificial intelligence and 3D printing.

Already, there are comparatively cheap anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles and drone technology that is evolving with things like swarms of tiny drones which can disable aircraft engines.

Meanwhile, ASPI reports that our Air Force still has some way to go to get the Reaper and Triton unmanned aerial systems into service.

Currently, less than 1% of Defence’s budget goes into its innovation funds.

ASPI, who are generally supportive of increased defence spending, gave some advice to the government in their appraisal of the 2019-20 defence budget:

“The value-for-money calculus doesn’t favour billion-dollar manned platforms…. But just as important is imagination and a willingness to pursue the disruptive potential of new technologies so they aren’t dismissed out of hand as poor substitutes for traditional platforms….There’s no point investing billions in military capability if it doesn’t support Australia’s political or military strategy.”

Conservative politicians try to convince us that they are concerned with the problems that face “the quiet Australians”.  I can’t think of a one of them that can be solved with having a few missile-carrying planes and warships.

Have you noticed how many conservative politicians have a military background and how many of those are also climate change deniers?  Perhaps they think we can shoot our way out of the problem?

Why else, out of everyone to choose from, would they think twice rejected retired General Jim Molan was the best choice for a Senator of Australia?

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They’re only children

Malala Yousafzai was barely 11 years old when she began championing girls’ education, speaking out in TV interviews. The Taliban had overrun her home town of Mingora, terrorizing residents, threatening to blow up girls’ schools, ordering teachers and students into the all-encompassing burqas.

Malala was only 15 when the Taliban shot her in the face.

She was 17 when she won the Nobel Peace Prize for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”

Emma González was 18 when she survived the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida which killed 17 of her schoolmates and injured many more.

She has become a vocal advocate for gun control in the US, incurring the wrath of the NRA and conservative politicians and media with one Republican candidate (and NRA member) labelling her a “skinhead lesbian”.

The Greensboro Four were teenagers when they changed American history by walking up to a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., sitting down, and refusing to leave.

The momentum that began at the Woolworth’s lunch counter would eventually contribute to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which outlawed segregation in public spaces.

The pro-democracy demonstrations in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square were led by students as are the current protests in Hong Kong.

The examples of student-led movements creating real change are many – the Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia which led quickly to the toppling of the Communist government, students in Johannesburg objecting to a law that mandated Afrikaans-language education set in motion a global movement against apartheid.

Scott Morrison has dismissed concerns about climate change as “needless anxiety”, told the kids to “get back to school”, and made it very clear that he will not be lectured to by a girl with “no life experience” when Australia is “doing our bit”.

Apparently, “doing our bit” means exporting enormous quantities of fossil fuels, refusing any push to stop subsidising the industry, approving rampant land-clearing, destroying river systems by extracting and diverting water,  resisting fuel-efficiency standards for transport, and using accounting tricks to disguise the fact that our emissions are now higher than they were in 2000 and are on an increasing trajectory.

“Doing our bit” for a peaceful, rules-based world also apparently means becoming the second largest importer of weapons in 2018, up from fourth largest the year before.

Last year, Christopher Pyne told us that “We expect that in the next nine years because of the investments of this government we’ll move to being in the top 10 defence exporters in the world, and so we should be.”

Except Australia last year fell from the world’s 18th largest military exporter to now be ranked 25th despite all the money we are wasting on pretending that the death industry creates jobs.

To the young people of the world I say, we need you to be loud and proud.

This time, we know we all can stand together

With the power to be powerful

Believing we can make it better

Per capita or not per capita – what is the question?

Nothing exemplifies the government’s dishonest spin more starkly than their switching to per capita measurements and back again, depending, not on which is the most relevant measure, but on which obfuscates the truth the best.

The Department of Environment and Energy produce a Quarterly Update of Australia’s National Greenhouse Gas Inventory.

The June 2015 report all of a sudden started including per capita emissions in its summary.  Why?  Because emissions had increased in the first year after the abolition of the carbon price and they didn’t want you to notice so they said “Emissions per capita were at their lowest levels in 25 years.”

As many people have pointed out, that is because population has increased, not because emissions have decreased.

Plus it is entirely irrelevant as the carbon budget to stop catastrophic climate change doesn’t care how many of us there are, just how much pollution we are pumping into the atmosphere.

But when it comes to GDP, you will never hear the government mention per capita because if they did, they would have to admit that we have not had 28 years of uninterrupted growth and that we were in per capita recession from the second quarter of 2018 until the first quarter of this year.

Population increase is, once again, the thing that is masking the truth.  GDP has grown continually mainly because of population growth but individuals have, on average, gone backwards lately which is a far more relevant measure of how our economy is going.

Another way the government tries to muddy the waters is by changing base years for comparison when talking about emissions reduction.  Take this beauty from their latest report:

“Australia’s emissions for the year to March 2019 have declined 14.0 per cent since the peak in the year to June 2007 and were 0.5 per cent above emissions in 2000 and 11.7 per cent below emissions in 2005.”

When it came to our Paris commitment, by changing the base year to 2005 we made the numbers look a lot better without having to do a damn thing – 0.5% above 2000 levels equates to 11.7% below 2005 levels.  Hey presto!

We have also heard Scott Morrison stir up anger in the community by talking about how much each of us is paying to foot the welfare bill – per capita is back in favour.

But they won’t mention how much we are spending on defence whose 2019-20 budget amounts to $105,853,573.77 per day.  That’s over $1,500 a year for every person in Australia.

Don’t let the satisfied smirks distract you.

Australia, you are being conned.

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Scott Morrison is giving me climate anxiety

As the government tries to convince children that they are unnecessarily anxious about climate change, and Pacific leaders that we are ‘stepping up’ by being really cross about plastic in the ocean, and the world that we ‘have met’ our emissions reduction targets and that we will meet our paltry Paris commitment ‘in a canter’, the evidence to the contrary keeps piling up.

The IPCC released its Special Report on Oceans and Cryosphere (or frozen areas) in a Changing Climate sounding a dire warning about ocean warming and acidification, coral bleaching and the loss of kelp beds and mangroves, a decline in fish and shellfish, melting ice sheets and glaciers, sea-level rise and coastal flooding.

And it’s not just the climate scientists that are alarmed.

Defence Force Chief Angus Campbell gave a speech warning of climate change stretching the resources of the ADF with more disaster relief efforts, as well as more peace-keeping missions, given climate change has “the potential to exacerbate conflict”.

At the height of our involvement in Afghanistan, we deployed 1,500 troops but it took 3,000 troops to help clean up after the North Queensland floods.

The RBA, APRA and ASIC have all also delivered speeches recently warning about the economic disasters awaiting us if we ignore the need to act now to reduce emissions.

When Greta Thunberg delivered her impassioned plea to the UN, Pauline Hanson dismissed her saying:

“I think that she’s basically a teenager who has had no life experiences. She was actually voicing what other people have put into her head.  I blame the adults around her for allowing this to happen.”

This from the woman whose head has always been filled with the most ridiculous stuff by the men she chooses to surround herself with.

Then we have George Christensen’s contribution.

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned about needless anxiety being fuelled amongst Australian children. This follows extreme green groups and unions encouraging students to wag school to go on strike and the United Nations getting a 16-year-old without life experience to lecture world leaders on so-called climate change.”

So George, tell us about your life experience – a brief flirtation with the priesthood, followed by politics?

Craig Kelly put in his bit for the moron award.

“Shocking to watch. Criminal.

Her childhood has been stolen by Alarmists that have brainwashed her, filling her head with apocalyptic fairytales of starving & drowning polar bears, and the world burning in a fiery hell – all so they can exploit her as their puppet to peddle their socialist vision of ‘’system change not climate change’’.

This is child abuse in the extreme.”

Miranda Devine was her usual vitriolic self.

“Someone should be arrested for child abuse. It is grotesque that a child, already emotionally vulnerable due to her condition, has been so indoctrinated by adults.”

I can’t even be bothered looking up what Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt might have had to say.

When parliament and the media are peopled by these sort of cretins, we are in serious trouble.

WTF has to happen before they will start getting anxious too?

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The Messiah from the Shire and other advertising slogans

If you believe the media, Scott Morrison is popular with the electorate because he is “genuine”.  Apparently, he is a man of conviction, a man who’s deeply held beliefs guide his actions, a man who sticks to his word.

Or should that be slogan?

Scott’s past was as an advertising man and one could be forgiven for thinking that’s all he’s got.

The whole Newstart debate has degenerated into a sloganfest.

“The best welfare is a job”.

“Labor’s unfunded empathy”.

“Conservative compassion”.

When Scott resists advice from everyone that the low level of Newstart is an impediment to getting a job, and when he resurrects random drug-testing for young unemployed people, and when he supports extending the cashless welfare card, and when he stubbornly sticks with the Robodebt debacle – he isn’t putting his surplus before the well-being of the people and the economy, he isn’t throwing red meat to the baying hounds of Sky After Dark, he isn’t stigmatising those who cannot find work no matter how hard they try – he is being kind.

In the ultimate display of self-interest and paternalistic hubris, the Messiah explains that his government’s priority was “not to overburden the welfare system”.

“I’m helping a lot of people if I’m careful about it, and if it’s well targeted, and I invest in getting a better understanding of what the needs are and what people have to overcome, in order to become more self-reliant.”

I am not sure that trying to make Scott understand is a worthwhile investment.

But back to the ad man’s slogans.

Defending his cruelty, Morrison tells us that he wants welfare to be “a trampoline, not a snare”.

Great line.  So great he’s been repeating it for years.

In his address to the IPA in July 2015 titled Positive welfare and compassionate conservatism, Scott called it “The Trampoline Effect”.

“An effective and reliable safety net that catches and supports the most vulnerable is absolutely necessary. But we need a safety net that acts like a trampoline, not a snare.”

When the Messiah rose from the ashes of the Turnbull knifing to reluctantly take the mantle thrust on him by a grateful party, he travelled to Albury in September last year to deliver a sermon rekindling the Menzies adoration and calling on us all to love each other.

Morrison said anyone worried about what he would do to Medicare or Centrelink should know he is committed to looking after people.

“Remember, my value is: we look after our mates,” he said.  “That’s why we have a safety net in this country, to protect people. But it works as a trampoline, not as a snare.”

As Morrison and co try to portray the unemployed as indolent, hedonistic addicts rorting the system, the fact is that the majority of Newstart recipients are aged over 50.

With the pension age rising to 67, and renewed calls to increase it further to 70, combined with the skills required in this new age of digital disruption, that number will only rise.

“If you have a go, you’ll get a go” doesn’t seem quite fair to say to a retrenched 65-year-old.

Just like he stuck with “Where the bloody hell are ya?” despite its obvious failure, this ad man will stick with the plagiarised slogans he has been using for years.

Genuine?  You gotta be shitting me.

 

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Pulled the wrong rein there

After my father was medically retired from teaching, he chose to take a lump sum payout of his superannuation.  When he lived longer than expected, he said to me “Pulled the wrong rein there, love.”

Are governments ever capable of, with hindsight, saying the same thing?

So many of the problems we are facing today could be addressed by going back on some of the decisions made in the past if only the government was willing to admit that something is not working as intended.

The Job Active Scheme is one case in point.  Introducing a profit motive in unemployment services has been a disaster.  Bringing back the Commonwealth Employment Service could not only make the process a lot more user-friendly, it would provide invaluable information to the government about where job vacancies are, skills shortages, identifying areas of disadvantage, referral to and collaboration with support services, educational requirements – and it might actually be able to hook people up with jobs instead of signing them up to ridiculous courses or cutting them off entirely for non-compliance with inflexible rules.

We bemoan the rising cost and deteriorating cover of private health insurance like there is nothing that can be done about it.  Had we not sold off Medibank Private, it could have provided a standard that other funds would have had to compete with.  The profit it made could have been invested in keeping premiums down.

We complain about rising power prices and the cartel-like behaviour of a market concentrated in the hands of too few players seemingly oblivious to the power we have to control that.  We own the resources.  We used to own the power generators and distribution network.  Instead of the government providing power and thus controlling prices, we handed it over to companies whose aim is to maximise profit.  Even so, if the government was truly concerned about energy prices, they could slash them by 10% immediately by making them GST-free to households as they are to businesses who claim the GST back as an input tax credit.

Privatisation and outsourcing was supposed to make so many things better but the reality is that it has led to higher prices, job losses, and poorer service delivery, particularly for those in regional areas.

And then there is carbon pricing which was successful in bringing emissions down and encouraging investment in sustainable practice.  Instead of collecting billions from polluters which was redistributed to the community and trade-exposed businesses, we now pay billions for no result and there is no incentive for businesses to change their practices.

Back in 2005, when we still owned half of Telstra, they wanted to move to fibre rather than remediating an aging copper system.  John Howard and the ACCC put such roadblocks in their way that Telstra abandoned the idea.  Labor valiantly tried to bring the nation’s communications into the 21st century with FttP NBN until Abbott gave Turnbull the instruction to “demolish” it.

Handing over disability and aged care services to for-profit providers has also proven problematic because the government failed to make or enforce an adequate regulatory framework.  That there is no required staff-to-resident ratio in nursing homes is a recipe for disaster.  As the Royal Commission has shown, staff are untrained and over-worked and unable to provide the care residents need.

When Menzies gave a one off grant to private schools to build science labs, he probably didn’t envisage a time when we would be giving the most elite schools pot loads of recurrent funding to hire Olympic rowing coaches and build sound studios and swimming pools.  The rise in public money being handed over to private schools has drained the public system of resources and created a two-tier education system where the disadvantaged must make do with less.

When the Howard government went on its vote-buying spree with tax cuts and changes to negative gearing, capital gains, franking credits and superannuation, not only did they squander the boom and entrench unsustainable budgetary pressure, they skewed investment away from more productive enterprises and made housing unaffordable.

By demonising and depowering unions and stacking the Fair Work Commission with fellow travellers, the Coalition has cut off their nose to spite their face, as unions lose their power to gain wage rises, protect workplace entitlements and secure employment, and to maintain safety standards.  Shoddy workmanship in the building industry has become a real problem and tradesmen are brought in on visas that ensure they will remain quiet and compliant.

One of the nastiest political decisions by the Coalition has been to brand people fleeing war and oppression as criminals if they happen to use a boat instead of a plane.  Meanwhile, the real criminals are courted by a system that allows them to launder money through buying special visas be they as a gambling tourist or a “special investor”.

The Coalition have deliberately fostered suspicion of “others” be they Muslim jihadis, African gangs, second or third generation Lebanese Australians, Chinese university students, Tamil families.  Gays asking for equality have “an agenda” that will undermine society.  Unemployed people will be drug tested.  Indigenous people asking for some say in their own affairs are engaging in bleeding heart “identity politics”.  Environmentalists are anti-job ecoterrorists.  Anyone who believes climate scientists is a weak as piss bedwetter.

Why do this?  Why divide us?  Why seek to marginalise people?  Why dismiss people?

It must take a certain amount of ego to run for politics but what seems to be lacking is the actual confidence to be able to say we got that wrong.

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The impact of climate change felt in the National Accounts

When Josh Frydenberg gave his press conference about the June Quarter National Accounts, he tried his hardest to stick to the designated talking point.

Josh said our continued growth was “a reminder of the remarkable resilience of the Australian economy and a repudiation of all those who sought to talk it down.”

In case anyone missed that, Josh reminded us again, finishing his speech with “The Australian economy has shown remarkable resilience and these numbers are a repudiation of all those who have sought to talk down the Australian economy.”

When asked if he was happy with the worst GDP figures since the GFC, Josh replied “what this number shows, is the resilience of the economy, a repudiation of those who sought to talk it down.”

In response to a question about declining public investment from state and local governments, the Treasurer said…wait for it…“these numbers show resilience in the Australian economy… twenty eight consecutive years of continuous economic growth is a repudiation of those who’ve sought to talk down the Australian economy.”

The constant repetition is deliberate and mind-numbing.  We are supposed to focus on one phrase and don’t look too hard at what is actually happening.  Others have done analysis on the figures and it isn’t good.

But one thing that struck me that I am sure that Josh didn’t intend, was the impact that climate change is having on our economy.

Continued repetition that we are meeting our emissions reduction targets “in a canter” can’t hide the economic impact of increasingly severe weather events and climate trends.

According to the Treasurer, the rise in government spending was driven by consumption rather than investment, including “flood remediation works in Queensland” and “the payments in relation to the floods and the droughts and the victims.”

Further, “with the terrible droughts and the floods, we’ve seen farm GDP down 8.3 per cent through the year.”

There was “a reduction in manufacturing, wholesale trade and mining inventories, partly related to weather events, particularly the drought.”

Josh also explained that a “major factor” in the decline in household saving this quarter was because household income in the previous quarter was significantly boosted by “pay outs on insurance claims for hail storms in New South Wales, but also the floods”.

In August, Guy Debelle, the Deputy Governor of the RBA, gave the Keynote Address at the 14th Annual Risk Australia Conference where he warned that “Beyond the near-term risks for the economy, climate poses a material risk for the economy and financial markets over a longer horizon.”

One paragraph in his speech to business people should be particularly heeded by our government:

“I would emphasise the importance of disclosure, echoing the comments by Geoff Summerhayes of APRA and John Price of ASIC, as well as the information that ASIC released earlier this week. You should all be aware of the recommendations of the recent report of the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) chaired by Michael Bloomberg. It is important not just to have disclosure for disclosures sake, but to have consistent and informative disclosure. Investors need to be able to take account of that information in making their decisions, and be able to compare that across companies and across financial assets. Risk management under uncertainty is always challenging, but the challenge can be reduced with better and consistent information both in terms of the data inputs and the consistency of the scenarios considered.”

No doubt Matt Canavan would call him a “weak as piss bedwetter”.

Almost on a daily basis we are being reminded of the danger of ignoring the need for urgent action.

The AMA have declared climate change a health emergency.

Even the South China Post are pleading with us to save the Great Barrier Reef after it’s condition was downgraded to very poor by the GBRMPA.  Maybe we need an example of dying beauty to galvanise us to work together.

But what MUST happen is the government must understand the risk and stop playing what are, quite literally, lethal games.  Stop the spin, stop the cover-up, stop pandering to lobbyists.

If they won’t listen to the scientists, the financial and business world must show these dinosaurs just how expensive climate change is going to get.

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Message massacring

For democracy to function with anything approaching efficiency, the people who choose our representatives need to know the truth about the challenges facing us, have some understanding of the pros and cons of varying approaches towards dealing with issues, and should be given the choice between candidates who are capable of understanding, prioritising, and acting on solutions.

The sad fact is that, whilst we go through the motions of having elections, most voters are poorly informed, media and lobby groups distort the truth, political parties will do whatever it takes to gain power, and preselections and positions are bestowed on fellow travellers for their factional loyalty rather than their competence.

The latest quarterly update on greenhouse gas emissions was released on Friday. In amongst a lot of spin about per capita emissions and declines from the 2007 peak, there were two important sentences in this report:

Emissions for the year to March 2019 are up 0.6 per cent on the previous year.

Australia’s emissions for the year to March 2019 were 0.5 per cent above emissions in 2000.

If our emissions are above those in 2000 and have continued the trend of rising every year since abolishing the carbon price, we CANNOT meet our 2020 emissions reduction target.

Sure, we can bullshit about carryover credits and something about cantering, but the government’s own report demonstrates once again what crap that is.

We see the same message massacring from the ABS who, they assure us with no coercion from the government, decided to put a positive spin on inequality with a feel-good media release titled “Inequality stable since 2013–14”.

That too is, of course, crap.

Wealth inequality as measured by the Gini coefficient, “is at its peak now (0.621) since it was first comprehensively measured in 2003-04 (0.573)”, a phrase that was deleted from the draft copy after a direction to “focus on income over wealth”.

Another media release was engagingly titled “Average household wealth tops $1 million”. That’s the great thing about averages – a few billionaires make it sound like we are all going along just tickety-poo. Until you get to the part that says “the lowest 20% controlled less than 1 per cent of all household wealth, with average wealth currently at $35,200”, while “the wealthiest 20% of households still held over 60% of all household wealth, now averaging $3.2 million per household”.

And all policy settings are designed to keep that trend going. We can apparently afford tax cuts and a range of tax concessions for wealthy investors but we cannot afford to increase Newstart payments or provide affordable housing.

Wherever you look, we are being manipulated by messaging. The idea that, unless we persecute a hard-working Sri Lankan couple and their two baby daughters, our navy, air force and border force will be unable to repel an invasion by fishing boats, is beyond ridiculous.

The apathy brought about by the safety and comfort we have enjoyed in this country has led to an acceptance by the majority of the population of these massacred messages. The truth has been obscured by spin. No longer do we hear genuine debate about opposing ideas informed by factual evidence – we hear propaganda designed to maintain the power and privilege of the few.

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Morrison doesn’t want to talk about his anniversary – with good reason.

As the media falls over itself lauding Scott Morrison for lasting a year without being rolled, we are approaching the six-year anniversary of a Coalition government which invites reflection…

What have they achieved?

We hear a lot about jobs growth.

In September 2013, there were 706,400 people unemployed.  By July 2019, there were 715,600.

Average hours worked in September 2013 was 141.3 per month.  By July 2019, that had decreased to 137.6 hours.

We are told that the number of people on welfare is at its lowest rate in 30 years.

At the same time, the Poverty in Australia Report 2018 shows that over 3 million people, including 739,000 children, are living in poverty.

According to the Liberal Party page, “While electricity prices doubled under Labor, we have begun to turn the corner on power prices.”

The truth is that, since 2015, wholesale electricity prices have risen by 158 percent while gas prices have tripled.

Policy uncertainty has been a contributing factor in restricting investment and is it any wonder.

Last year, when Minister for Energy and the Environment, Josh Frydenberg was out on the hustings selling the National Energy Guarantee.

“People are sick of the hyper-partisanship which has dictated and dominated the energy and climate debate. They want practical, workable market-based solutions.”

Frydenberg said the NEG policy was “backed by business, industry and community groups”.

“Never have we seen such a loud chorus of support for a policy to boost the reliability of the energy system, deliver on our emissions reduction targets and to put downward pressure on power prices,” Frydenberg said.

“This is an opportunity which cannot be missed. It is time for all governments – federal, state and territory to put the national interest first and deliver a more affordable and reliable energy system through the national energy guarantee.”

Scott Morrison as Treasurer was likewise a fan of the NEG, saying it was how to “get the best functioning energy market with the lowest possible price for businesses and for households”.

Morrison also smacked down a backbench push for the Turnbull government to back a new coal plant, arguing that high-efficiency coal does not mean cheap energy, and taxpayers would also be left on the hook.

Now that they are the leader and deputy of the Liberal Party, the NEG is dead, any pretence at caring about emissions reduction is dead, power prices continue to rise and their solution is some sort of talk about “big sticks”.

The question should be asked, were they lying then or are they lying now?

We crow about being the biggest exporter of LNG as we suffer domestic shortages  – meanwhile, headlines overseas read European natural gas prices are at a historical low.

“Natural gas prices in Europe have plummeted thanks to a rising gas export war between Russia and the US, much to the delight of European consumers.  The clear winners from the war between these two gas powers are the European end consumers, who benefit from record-low natural gas prices, and power prices which have dropped more than 30% in the last six months.”

The Liberal Party page also tells us that “We have invested a record $328 million in preventing and reducing domestic family violence, including for new emergency accommodation.”

Compare that to the $423 million limited extension to the Paladin contract to provide “services” on Manus which currently works out at a cost of at least $1,600 per day for each refugee and asylum seeker, not including food or medical care.

Meanwhile, 26,500 children aged 0–9 were assisted by specialist homelessness services due to domestic violence in 2017–18, police recorded 25,000 sexual assaults in 2017, and 1 woman was killed every 9 days and 1 man every 29 days by a partner between 2014–15 and 2015–16.

Whether it’s aged care or foreign aid, wages stagnation or water security, Indigenous recognition or GHG emissions, government debt or hospital waiting times – the Coalition government, in all its iterations, has been an abject failure.

Morrison deprecatingly swept aside mention of his one-year anniversary as being narcissistic.

Narcissistic people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others.

If the foo shits…

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“Weak as piss”

Just to underline how puerile politics has become, Federal Resources Minister Matt Canavan has called engineering firm Aurecon “weak as piss” and a “bunch of bedwetters” for severing its relationship with Adani.

“People of regional Queensland have kind of got over caving in to this kind of behaviour and conduct, it has to be called out, it’s exactly what they’ve done … apologies with being upfront with people,” he told ABC’s Radio National.

Upfront with people????  Calling companies names for commercial decisions they make???

Banks won’t finance the mine.  Insurers won’t insure it.  Another global firm, AECOM, had been designing a railway between Carmichael and Abbot Point, but walked away amid a financial dispute. A deal with integrated services firm Downer EDI collapsed in 2017.  The contract with Aurizon to use their railway hasn’t been signed and nor has the royalties agreement with the Queensland government.

If we want to talk about “weak as piss” and a “bunch of bedwetters”, let’s talk about the Liberal Party who were too chicken shit to accept Labor’s support to pass the NEG despite it having overwhelming support in their own party room.  They didn’t want Tony Abbott and Craig Kelly and Barnaby Joyce to make a fuss.  Personally, I would have done it just to get the picture of the three stooges crossing the floor to sit with the Greens.

Because of this cowardice, we have no energy policy, prices and emissions continue to go up, and our international reputation is trashed.

Meanwhile, Matt King Coal continues to try to find ways to waste public money on a project that no investor will go near.

Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg were both vocal proponents of the NEG.

“The days of subsidies in energy are over, whether it is for coal, wind, solar, any of them.  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.”  – Scott Morrison, April 2018

At a COAG meeting two weeks before the leadership spill, Josh Frydenberg said Australia could not have another failed energy policy, pointing to the collapse of the emissions trading and carbon pricing schemes.

“Today we must take forward the National Energy Guarantee and I’m confident that we can.  Australian eyes are on this room today and what happens here matters to the outcomes around every Australian kitchen table and every Australian factory floor.  We have a collective responsibility to deliver cheaper, more reliable and clean power for Australian families and businesses.  It’s not our job to re-litigate the mistakes of the past but rather to provide the solution for the future. Today, it’s up to us.”

But dangle the bauble of leadership in front of these two “bedwetters”, and they will dance to whatever tune you want.

Weak as piss indeed.

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Quiet Australians will never permeate the Morrison bubble

In what appears to be an attempt to emulate John Howard’s battlers, Scott Morrison tells us that he will be the champion of “quiet Australians”, whatever that might mean.

In a radio interview in 2004, Howard was asked what he thought a ‘battler’ was and replied that:

“… it’s not an exclusive definition, the battler is somebody who finds in life that they have to work hard for everything they get… normally you then look at it in terms of somebody who’s not earning a huge income but somebody who is trying to better themselves, and I’ve always been attracted to people who try to better themselves.”

But a new report from the Grattan Institute shows that, in Scott Morrison’s Australia, hard work is not enough with this generation set to be the first who are less well off than previous generations.

Underemployment, wage stagnation and job insecurity are part of the problem as is slow economic growth.

Another contributing factor is the taxation policy of the Coalition  – in particular, tax-free superannuation income in retirement, refundable franking credits, and special tax offsets for seniors – resulting in older Australians contributing a lot less income tax than we once did putting the burden on a smaller percentage of working Australians to underwrite the living standards of retirees.

Negative gearing and capital gains tax discounts have skewed investment towards property making it very difficult for first home buyers to enter the housing market.  A lack of supply has made rents grow making saving for a deposit and stamp duty that much harder.

Wealthy retirees fiercely protect their nest eggs so they can leave it to their children further exacerbating inequality and the wealth divide.

This has nothing to do with hard work or people “having a go” – it’s just the rich getting richer.

In a recent Roy Morgan poll, they asked “What do you think is the most important problem facing the World today?”

46% of respondents mentioned some form of environmental concern, more than doubling from the 22% recorded in early 2018, led by the issue of Global warming (34%) and including Pollution/Rubbish, Famine/Food shortages, Water conservation/Murray-Darling water problems.

When asked “What do you think is the most important problem facing Australia today?”, economic issues led by Unemployment, Cost of living, Economic problems, Poverty and the gap between rich and poor, Homelessness/ Lack of housing and Housing affordability were mentioned by almost 34% of Australians, with a further 24% (up from 11% last year) citing environmental issues including Global warming, water conservation and problems with the Murray-Darling, Drought, Pollution and Rubbish.

The government’s favourite themes of Terrorism/War/Security problems and issues surrounding the Energy Crisis, Energy and Power supply, Electricity grid, were mentioned by less than 4% of respondents.

Our inaction on climate change will unfairly place another huge burden on coming generations purely because we are too greedy and selfish to tackle the challenge now.

Morrison has also tried to copy Trump’s “drain the swamp” rhetoric with his constant references to getting outside the “Canberra bubble” when all he is in fact doing is taking the Canberra bubble on the road.

The voice of quiet Australians sinking in poverty, or the pleas of desperate Pacific islanders fighting for survival, or the passion of Indigenous people asking to have some input in addressing the endemic disadvantage they face, will never be heard in Scott Morrison’s bubble where the noise from people like Craig Kelly and Andrew Hastie drown out all other sound.

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