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Michael recently retired from the Public Service and is studying law in his retirement. His interests are politics, media, history, and astronomy. Michael holds a BA in Aboriginal Affairs Administration, a BA (Honours) in Aboriginal Studies, and a Diploma of Government. Michael rarely writes articles for The AIMN theses days, but is heavily involved with the admin team.


Seriously, why would you vote for Pauline Hanson?

“The problem with Hanson is that she moans about what she doesn’t like but never says much about anything else”, wrote Zathras.

Could she be summed up any better than that?

She certainly has history.

When she burst back into the political scene at the last election – as it was in the late 1990s – she won ‘acclaim’ because “she’s not afraid to speak her mind” (or ‘moan’ as Zathras would say), or because “she speaks for me”, or this one: she “stirs things up“. I’ve heard those remarks on countless occasions.

Basically, it would seem, people like her because she speaks. Nothing else. Thousands of Australians voted for her for nothing else than she speaks. Wow, how good’s that? A person who practically holds the balance of power in the Senate is there because she talks. But that’s all she’s good at. She chatters away and sends the fact-checkers off into a frenzy (to ultimately discover that not only does she talk a lot, but she talks a lot of rubbish).

It’s not much of a credential.

Think about it. What solutions has she offered on the range of social or economic woes that recent governments have been incapable of addressing? The answer is simple: nothing. ‘Things’ social or economic are beyond her. Her response to any issue contains the same xenophobic rant, which might as well be “let these people in the country and they’ll take our jobs, get public housing, get the dole, wear clothing that offends me or pee in a hole in the ground”. Oh what a deep reservoir of knowledge she is.

She gets the privilege of having her regular moan to the fawning media and then sits snugly and smugly in the Senate voting with the government more often than any other non-Coalition Senator. So much for speaking her mind, speaking for me, or stirring things up.

At the end of her political career we can look back and ask, “What did she achieve?” Outside of Parliament she will be remembered, primarily, as a loud-mouth who through her intolerance of cultural differences fostered fear and hate towards minority groups. And those people who were inspired to elect her into Parliament – hopeful that fear and hate could somehow be codified into our legislation – will have been disappointed as her only ‘achievements’ were to side with a government who had taken the baton to the nation’s underprivileged.

How can she be speaking for you when all she does is rubber stamp whatever the government proposes? How can she be stirring things up while she’s continually siding with the government? How can she be speaking her mind when inside the Senate she just nods in agreement to whatever the Government says?

Seriously, why would you want to vote for a person like that? Why would you want to vote for someone who says everything and does nothing?

Here’s something else to consider:

The Turnbull Government is confident of securing Pauline Hanson’s vote on key ­pieces of legislation after she indicated to senior ministers that she sees Labor as her “enemy”.

Isn’t the Coalition the “enemy” of Labor? What’s the point of an independent politician or a party who is simply going to put the wants of government ahead of his/her/their electorate or the people who voted for them because the opposition is the enemy? Surely as an independent, Pauline Hanson should be voting on legislation and amendments based on merit rather than on her hatred of Labor

So again I ask, “Why would you want to vote for Pauline Hanson?”

“Because she speaks for me”, you might say.

Fine. But here’s the truth of the matter … she’s certainly not speaking for you where it counts.

She has history on that too.


A message from your Chairperson

By James Moylan

Dear Comrades,

The Politically Correct Peoples Association has had a terrific twelve months. I write to thank our all of our thoroughly indoctrinated members for their efforts and also to remind you that we are once again entering the secular holiday season. So it is time to redouble our efforts. Yes we are on the verge of victory; but we are still yet to win in our war against ‘Christmas’. However the fight is ongoing.

First of all I would like to point out that it is obvious that our enemies are on-the-ropes. By any objective measurement it is apparent that we are winning in our battle against the ‘red menace’ (colloquially called ‘Santa’). All you need to do is to walk down the main shopping street in any town across our country to see that nobody dares play ‘Christmas’ propaganda tunes in public anymore. Also most shopkeepers have simply given up trying to promote this insidious ‘festival’ at all. There is barely a piece of tinsel or sprig of holly to be seen!

But nonetheless we must all remain on guard. If we lift our feet from the necks of these ‘Christians’ then they will soon creep back into positions of power and influence. We will once again see members of this cult openly attesting to their beliefs in our parliaments and on our media outlets. We will once again see citizens bandying about gross insults like ‘Ha%$# Chr#$&@^$’ and feeling content to rip our arboreal friends from the sanctity of their quiet forest glades to be stuck into pots and tortured by hanging heavy objects from their quivering limbs. Thank secularism that nobody wastes their time with office parties anymore. At least our commercial sector seems to have totally abandoned the practice of celebrating these sick bronze-age mythologies.

However despite our overwhelming success in suppressing any mention of ‘Christmas’ in our media or in our shops; there are still actions that you can still take on a daily basis to ensure that our society does not slip backwards. Remember that you must be quick to suppress any mention of this evil cultish celebration wherever and whenever it is encountered. If we are not vigilant then these ‘Christians’ will once again feel free to gather together in their temples and worship their sky-fairy whenever they want. We will once again see millions of garish cult symbols festooning all of our houses and city streets. Our Godless Marxist inspired battle must continue or we will soon be knee-deep in wrapping paper and glazed-eyed children. Unscrupulous traders will be selling truckloads of cheap trinkets designed to spontaneously fall apart after three minutes of handling. Again we will be subject to endless reams of commercial propaganda featuring animated animals shopping at large department stores.

However it is obvious that our final victory is only a few oppressive, intolerant, fanatical, steps away! All due to your hard work. So I would like to thank all of the members of our vast and powerful multinational socialist conspiracy for helping us bring these cultish propagandists to their knees and for helping to banish these magical superstitions and practices from our society. Our success to date is apparent. Our ultimate victory is assured.

So have a happy summer break everyone. I wish you all a quiet and uneventful series of entirely secular public holidays. And also a happy progression into the new calendar year.

Your fanatical Marxist overlord,
James Moylan


No, Pauline, we do not need a debate on Aboriginal identity

In yet another display of pandering to sensationalism, Pauline Hanson wants a debate on Aboriginal identity, lamenting to an enthusiastically agreeable Andrew Bolt that there exists no “set definition to determine whether a person is Aboriginal”.

In essence Hanson wants a debate because she doesn’t know what set of biological or cultural characteristics define a person’s Aboriginality. And I would assume that she wouldn’t be happy with the outcome of the debate unless it packaged and labelled Aborigines into something that fits perfectly into her world view. That would explain why a debate is required over, say, a simple internet search for the answer.

Since 1788 there have been literally hundreds of politicians, anthropologists or other social scientists who have endeavored to piece together the very same question posed by Hanson (without, of course, the need for a political debate manufactured to endorse a shallow world view). Through the work of those ‘others’ – and with of course the benefit of consultation and engagement with Aborigines – we have a very clear picture of what determines whether a person is Aboriginal.

It is far more complex than Pauline Hanson would ever envisage. I am assuming that she seeks a simple answer (and of course, some googling would provide one with some simple answers) but the complexity of the issue is like one large cultural jigsaw puzzle.

I mentioned the year 1788. Let’s start with that piece of the puzzle.

If we cast ourselves back to 1788 we would embrace an environment where Aboriginality did not exist, but was to soon be invented by the colonising power. The European invaders constructed Aborigines as an ethnic category based on their own notions of culture and saddled Aboriginality on the Indigenous Australians, and European ideology continued to shape European ethnic perceptions. Prominent among the perceptions it was believed that culture was carried in the blood.

Over the next hundred years European ideology continued to shape the whites’ perception of Aborigines. Among these perceptions it was believed that culture was more than simply carried in the blood, but that culture was the external indicator of biological ancestry and culture, and that cultural characteristics, either heredity or unchanging, separated human groups from one another.

Ethnographic evidence indicates that before the arrival of Europeans, numerous distinct groups had occupied the Australian continent. Although these groups shared physical and cultural features and had ties of affinity, trade, and religious cooperation, these societies were distinguished by geography, language, and culture. With the benefit of hindsight, the ethnographic evidence failed to recognise that in determining identity, Aborigines traditionally attributed greater importance to culture and genealogical ties to heredity. Groups were differentiated on the basis of presence or absence of certain beliefs and behaviours, and of spiritual ties between people and land.

Basing their construction of Aboriginality on inadequate theories of culture, early anthropologists defined Aboriginality as constituting a pristine and timeless and cultural condition. Some still saw them as savages, remaining noble, despite constraining nature and unbending adherence to rules; the Aborigines typified a fossilised and primitive stage of social evolution. Ethnocentrism further led to the attribution or projection of negative characteristics. Even to this day many people have a stereotype of Aboriginal people as being very black, standing on one leg with a spear and living in the desert.

Up until recently, the social and cultural practices in Australia rendered Aboriginal people invisible. As a consequence, while Anglo-Australians have continued to ‘know’ about Aborigines they have known them only by report. Even in the rural Australia, local Aboriginal people have been ignored in favour of ‘real Aborigines’, supposedly living in a tribal life in the bush. The public has been largely dependent on representations of Aborigines to be found in the statements of various ‘authorities’, the work of painters and photographers, the printed and recently the electronic media, or even artifacts aimed at the popular and tourist markets.

“Such representations of Aboriginality called into doubt the special status of those who called themselves Aboriginal, but lived in urban settings, practised no traditional arts or ceremonies, and generally failed to ‘look the part’. Such people had constructed their Aboriginality in other modes, primarily by reference to proximate ancestors and living kin. Some have identified it as a major component of what is called ‘the Aboriginal commonality’, implying as it does a continuous network embracing all Aboriginal people throughout the continent” (Jeremy Beckett).

Regardless, under the doctrine of Social Darwinism it was always expected that the Aborigines would not survive alongside the presumed European superiority. However, only Europeans had selected Aborigines for extinction. Nature had not. While Australia was told that Aborigines were not going to die out, it was also given to understand that Aboriginality was doomed. Timeless and unchanging, Aboriginal culture was incapable of coexistence with the modern world: the old Aboriginal cultures were collapsing everywhere under the impact of while settlement, mining exploration, pastoral expansion and the effects of State assimilation policies.

“Managing Aboriginal people under one guise or another, the State has been in a position to influence their public constructions. Not only has it determined who should have access to them, but it has played a major role in the assembling of information about them, has commissioned much of the research conducted by experts on them, and has acted as patron for artistic representations of them” (Myrna Tonkinson).

Consider, for example, the Western Australian interpretation of what constituted an Aboriginal person. Every person who is:

  • an Aboriginal inhabitant of Australia, or
  • a half-caste who lives with an Aboriginal as husband or wife, or
  • a half-caste who, otherwise than as wife or husband habitually lives or associates with Aborigines, or
  • a half-caste child whose age does not apparently exceed sixteen years, shall be deemed an Aboriginal within the meaning of this Act . . . ” (Western Australia Aborigines Act of 1905, Section 3).

Aborigines though are no longer silent objects of study, but increasingly challenge the very terms in which they are written about. However, it is not easy to re-examine the intellectual heritage; a heritage that is a body of knowledge understood by those sharing the same discourse and built into our contemporary consciousness in many intricate and hidden ways. Aborigines are exploring their own Aboriginality and are finding that the white Australia cannot accept their own view of themselves. You can’t define Aboriginality in terms of the colour of their skin or in terms of what genes and chromosomes were inherited. Aboriginal people have a very strong spiritual heritage: above anything else it is the essence of being an Aboriginal.

Consider how different an Aboriginal interpretation of Aboriginality compares with the political or social construction. The emphasis on spiritual and cultural unity is absolute. They identify the following characteristics as common to all Australian Aborigines:

  • descent from the original inhabitants of Australia; a shared historical and cultural experience, particularly that arising from relations with non-Aborigines;
  • the Dreaming, or Aboriginal worldview; intimate familial relationship with the land and the natural world, and knowing the pervading moulding character of these in all matters Aboriginal’;
  • social interaction based predominantly on the mutual obligations of kinship; observance and social importance of mortuary rituals; and
  • bi or multilingualism.

Whilst these elements constitute Aboriginality, Aboriginal values such as reciprocity and individuality could also be included, although these are not unique to Aborigines. However the list provided could be considered typical of cultural inventories: they constitute a coherent set of characteristics that are present and enduring in all Aboriginal people. However, significantly, the operative definition of Aboriginality has shifted from biological to the cultural. The Aboriginal emphasis on kinship and behaviour in determining identity is apparent. Another notable characteristic of Aboriginal social life is the self-conscious identification with notions of sociability and behaviour ascribed to Aboriginality, a world view with definable social values, attitudes and cognitive orientations.

In denying people the right to relate to themselves through their bodies and where notions of kinship are organised around cultural notions of the body is denying Aboriginal a major aspect of their Aboriginality. The dominant theoretical prescription of ideal Aboriginality would act to prevent Aborigines from creating their identities out of the body and out of biology, and would also in effect prevent them talking descent and moreover reinventing their notions of descent.

‘The assertion of Aboriginality is part of a political process’, wrote Tonkinson, further noting that:

Although the legal and social status of Aborigines has changed significantly, they are by no means equal participants in Australian society. They still suffer severe social disadvantage and defacto discrimination; in the eyes of many whites, being Aboriginal is still a social stigma. Against this background, many Aborigines are consciously and actively working to establish positive images of themselves and their cultures. This involves the rejection or reversal of dominant European definitions; the promotion of colour as a desirable feature rather than a taint; and the revival, invention, or adoption of distinctively Aboriginal cultural behaviours and symbols . . . the construction of a new identity in which all Aboriginal people can share.

So no, Pauline, we don’t need another debate on Aboriginal identity. We simply need to respect that they exist. Debate over.

About the author: Michael Taylor recently retired from the Australian Public Service, which included a decade in Aboriginal affairs, three years of which were spent visiting remote Aboriginal communities in the Flinders Ranges and the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Lands. He holds an Arts degree in Aboriginal Affairs Administration and an Honours degree in Aboriginal Studies.


We’ll soon see just how much of a hypocrite Malcolm Turnbull really is

There is overflowing evidence that Malcolm Turnbull is an out and out hypocrite. Since smooching his way to the prime ministership we have watched him backflip on every issue he once stood for and we can only take wild guesses at what he might stand for tomorrow. One has the uneasy feeling that he stands for, unremarkably, whatever the extreme right-wing of his party fancy.

Over the next couple of weeks I expect he will take hypocrisy to a profoundly higher level.

Appalled at Labor’s indication they would block his plebiscite, earlier this week he accused them of ‘not wanting to consult Australians on same-sex marriage‘:

“So if Labor is seriously saying that, they are saying, ‘Don’t consult the Australian people because they won’t give you the answer you want.’”

The PM said he was confident same-sex marriage would be introduced, reiterating that he and his wife Lucy would vote in favour of the legislation.

“The fastest way, the way to guarantee that there is a vote in the Parliament on gay marriage in this Parliament, is to support the plebiscite,” he said.

(I didn’t know his wife could vote in favour of the legislation, but that’s another story).

Given that 57% of Australians support same-sex marriage it appears, on the surface, that Malcolm Turnbull is siding here with the electorate and signals his intention that he will stand and deliver.

There was Malcolm, a self-declared champion for the people.

And now that “the Federal Opposition has announced it is preparing to move a motion to bring on a bill to legalise same-sex marriage in two weeks” he has his chance to prove it.

And given that it was also announced that . . .

Adam Bandt, Andrew Wilkie and Cathy McGowan . . .  too are introducing a “marriage equality bill”.

Mr Bandt says they will introduce a crossparty bill on the issue and are seeking support from Labor.

Ms McGowan says “it’s a wonderful thing” that Labor plans to table a bill, but they need the support of the Coalition.

. . . he really has no better opportunity. The people come first. He has been busy condemning Labor for not honouring that.

But if Malcolm Turnbull has truly listened to the electorate he too will support the bill. If he is ‘owned’ by the extreme right of the party, he will not. In which case he has lied.

Yes, it’s all hypothetical at this point, but my guess is he’ll take hypocrisy to an even higher level. The wishes of the party will remain supreme.

I’ll be watching.


I’m a lot like Jill and Hillary, but not much like Donald

Here’s a surprise for you. If I was eligible to vote in the US elections I wouldn’t be voting for Donald Trump.

It’d be a toss-up between Hillary Clinton and Dr Jill Stein.

“Who the hell is Jill Stein?” you ask.

If you haven’t been following the US election race then there’s a strong chance you’ve never heard of her. Or Darrell Castle. Or Gary Johnson.

You see, it’s not all about Hillary or Donald. There are actually 3rd party candidates:

  • Darrell Castle (Constitution Party)
  • Dr Jill Stein (Green Party)
  • Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party)

And I know nothing about any of them!

But based on what I stand for Jill Stein comes out trumps (though I must admit she tied with Hillary Clinton).

So who would you vote for?

Forget personalities. Forget conspiracy theories. Ignore what you read about the candidates in the media or on Wikileaks. Ignore what you think of them personally. Just focus on their policies and you might be surprised who you would support when it comes to the crunch.

For a bit of fun take the test here on Already over 40 million US voters have taken the test.

It’s fairly lengthy and there’s a lot of clicking to do but after the 5-10 minutes the test takes you might be surprised with your answers. There might just be more Donald Trump in you than you think.

(For the record, I support both Jill Stein and Hillary Clinton on 91% of their policies, while Donald Trump goes it alone without me with a miserable 16%).


The pueriles of Pauline

Richard Ackland’s brilliant article today (‘The defence of free speech is limited for the anti-18C brigade‘ in The Guardian) reminds us of one of Pauline Hanson’s more puerile assertions: that “Aboriginal women ate their babies”. Ackland wrote:

A book published in her name, Pauline Hanson – The Truth, made a number of ludicrous claims, including that Aboriginal women ate their babies. When a racial vilification case was brought against the book, it was defended under the RDA exemption for publishers acting reasonably and in good faith.

Let us leave aside the absurd finding that the publishers were “acting reasonably and in good faith”: absurd in that they must have believed her and that her evidence could not be disputed, and ponder instead how Pauline Hanson could have come to her conclusion of these cannibalistic practices.

I can only assume she read it in a book.

After five years at university studying (among other things) Aboriginal archaeology and anthropology I can confidentially announce that there was no evidence in the archaeological record or oral histories to suggest they did, but yes, it was once ‘confirmed’ in a book. This book reported that:

As a race the aborigine is a savage in the strongest sense of that term. Alike cruel and treacherous, he loses no occasion of wreaking his vengeance on an enemy, and indulges in the most bloodthirsty propensities. The practice of cannibalism is general among the natives: for a long time this was doubted, but it has been proved, beyond the reach of question, and the practice often found accompanied by the most revolting ferocity – as the sacrifice of an infant by its own mother for the mere pleasure of eating its flesh.

The book? David Blair’s History of Australasia, published in 1879. The above paragraph can be found on page 237.

When quoting that paragraph for my Honour’s thesis (A review of the racist ideologies of Social Darwinism and eugenics in colonial Australia in the formative years of Federation, and how these ideologies were applied to purify and secure a White Australia) I introduced it by noting that:

In a period that witnessed Aborigines being hunted like animals, dying in their thousands through imported diseases, and reportedly murdered at the hands of punitive colonials, the emergence of a law which not only justified the extermination of Aborigines but argued that it was beneficial to the human race, was gratefully accepted and enthusiastically endorsed by many sectors of Australian society.

Popular literature of the nineteenth century depicted an image of the Australian Aborigine that reinforced these colonial ideals. We are to assume that the contemporary reader of the following extract [above] from David Blair’s History of Australasia, when published in 1879, foreshadowed, perhaps demanded, the inevitable extinction.

I clearly underestimated Pauline Hanson. She is far more well-read than I ever imagined. One can only assume that she has read David Blair’s repulsive work and as such is well-versed in the Australia of 1879 and is passionate to the cause of the colonials. (Yes, I am being sarcastic). But I really can’t imagine where else she could have read it. I’ve read over a thousand books, journals or articles about Aboriginal Australia and I’ve only seen it as a ‘matter of fact’ in Mr Blair’s book.

If Pauline was truly sincere and wanted to learn about Aborigines I would be more than happy to loan her one of my 80 or so text books that all contain one important element: the truth. In 2016 that’s what we prefer.


I’ll have the boats, please

With the news during the week that a boat with 21 Vietnamese asylum seekers had been shoved back to sea came the solemn warning from Immigration Minister Peter Dutton that:

“People smugglers in Indonesia are watching very closely and they believe if there’s a change of government on July 2, the people smugglers will be back in business and people will be back on boats coming to our country”.

How convenient. In the shadow of an election . . . along comes a boat. All very juicy stuff for Peter Dutton who seized the moment to remind us of the fearful prospect: a Labor Government will not stop the boats.

If Minister Dutton is so eager to inform the electorate of what they will ‘get’ under a Labor Government perhaps he should have mentioned that a Labor Government would also:

  • Provide $570 million in additional support for students with disability and additional learning needs.
  • Increase the Child Care Benefit by 15% for low and middle income families. Every one of the 813,000 families that rely on the Child Care Benefit will be better off – an increase up to $31 per child per week, or up to $1,627 per year.
  • See that an additional $96 million go towards improving outcomes for Indigenous students around Australia over school years 2018 and 2019. In addition, Labor will provide $4.8 million over the forward estimates to fund 100 scholarships per year for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students, and increase the number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander teachers.
  • Invest $6 million over three years from 2017-18 to continue the Safe Schools program and support the Foundation for Young Australians to keep working with school communities to reduce bullying and discrimination.
  • Restore indexation of the Medicare Benefits Schedule from 1 January 2017.
  • Scrap the Liberals’ cuts to the PBS, ensuring there will be no increase to the co-payments or safety net thresholds on top of regular indexation.
  • Reverse Malcolm Turnbull’s cuts to bulk billing incentives for pathology and diagnostic imaging.
  • Deliver the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
  • Scale up the rollout of fibre-to-the-premises and phase out the rollout of fibre-to-the-node.
  • [To] achieve a target of net zero pollution by 2050, set a target at 2030 for a 45% reduction in carbon pollution on 2005 levels.
  • Will ensure that 50% of the nation’s electricity is sourced from renewable energy by 2030
  • Introduce a domestic emissions trading scheme that will have two distinct phases. The first phase is designed to get Australia’s pollution levels back under control and to establish the architecture for an enduring ETS. The second phase will then drive the long-term transition in our economy.
  • Protect Weekend Penalty Rates.
  • Will shut down loopholes which allow big multinational companies to send profits overseas, ensuring they pay their fair share of tax just like everyone else has to. Labor’s plan has been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, and will bring at least $7.2 billion back to Australia in tax from big multinationals over the next decade.
  • Reform negative gearing effective from 1 July 2017.
  • Restore CSIRO’s capacity to drive the national science, research and innovation agenda that will grow new industries and build a smarter Australia.
  • Deliver more than $70 million over three years in targeted funding to ensure those suffering from family violence can access critical services when they need them.
  • Commit almost $50 million to frontline legal services, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services, to ensure women suffering from family violence get legal support. The aim of this is to ensure, at least, that women facing court have access to appropriate legal services.
  • Make an initial investment of $15 million in Safe at Home grants to help people affected by family violence stay safe in their own home.
  • Will legislate for marriage equality within the first 100 days of the next parliament.
  • Will hold a Royal Commission into misconduct in the banking and financial services industry.
  • Appoint a full-time LGBTI Discrimination Commissioner to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), to ensure the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians are protected, and they are free to live their lives without discrimination.
  • Will renew investment in Australian multiculturalism, with $28.3 million of new funding to support social cohesion and economic inclusion.

Well, no wonder Peter Dutton just wants to talk about boats.

If is this is what we’ll get (plus more) with a Labor Government . . . I’ll have the boats please.


Cathy McGowan on being independent

Australians saw no better example of democracy at work than when Cathy McGowan took the seat of Indi from sitting member Sophie Mirabella in the 2013 federal election.

The electorate took it upon itself to oust Mirabella on the basis that she didn’t appear to be representing anyone but the Liberal Party, and most certainly not her electorate.

How did Cathy McGowan perform what many consider to be a minor miracle, ousting a sitting Liberal Party member at an election where there was a 3.6% swing towards the Abbott led Liberals? Cathy not only achieved this, but with a massive of 9.2% swing against incumbent Sophie Mirabella. Only in Indi did a sitting Liberal member lose their seat.

During 2012, a small group of young people gathered together on the basis of their feelings that they weren’t being represented properly or effectively, and from those few people grew a movement of over 3000 volunteers who basically door knocked the entire electorate.

The result of this grass roots movement, or “Kitchen Table Conversations” emerged a document: ‘Voice for Indi’ with Cathy McGowan, businessperson, farmer and academic agreeing to become that voice.

Perhaps it is the feeling of disenchantment with the major political players, a wish for more personal involvement in the decision making process which is seeing the rise and rise of Independents such as Cathy McGowan. And so it is that Cathy faces another election and once more her main opponent is the controversial and high profile Sophia Mirabella for the Liberal Party.

It was tempting to want to discuss with Cathy the nation’s gaze on Indi: Cathy McGowan versus Sophie Mirabella, but Cathy ensured in her calm but forceful way that any discussion would focus on her beloved electorate, not on herself.

“That’s all everyone wants to talk about but it’s not what I want to talk about. Cathy McGowan versus Sophie Mirabella isn’t the important issue in this campaign. The needs of the people of Indi is the most important issue, and that is my focus”.

To walk into the McGowan campaign ‘headquarters’ is to take a step back in time, to when consultation plus representation were of prime importance. A time when it wasn’t about winning at all costs, where instead of ‘focus groups’ and highly paid consultants you will find a dedicated team of volunteers engaged in everything from assisting pensioners try to understand the new Senate voting system, to being busily engaged in painting chairs (for the weary to rest at polling stations) and making bunting and posters.

If McGowan is passionate about one particular thing then this is her insistence that her job is to represent. Her own goals? “I want my community to feel stronger, more confident and to know what it wants for itself. My job is to facilitate this”.

Contrast this with the response from any party beholden politician: “I can’t help you with that, it’s not Party policy”. To Cathy McGowan, the people of Indi are her policy with a passionate belief that the people of Indi ” … want a representative who will represent the people and not the Party. And that is my job”. This has brought with it some criticisms, namely that Cathy is too Indi focused to be a federal politician.

But perhaps too this is Cathy’s strength. In days were people fear that they do not have a voice, where their representative does not represent the views of their electorate but is bound by often city-centred focused only major party politicking. This is perhaps greater felt outside the major capital cities where the needs in rural and regional Australia have changed and where issues affect people far more directly: jobs, communication including mobile phone service and the NBN, and health including the notorious Wangaratta hospital (which may or may not have had funding according to Sophie Mirabella) have a direct impact on quality of life.

For Cathy McGown, it is through the Kitchen Table Conversations that the people of Indi continue to have a voice to be heard, where their interests, concerns and ideas can be taken up and pursued via her advocacy in Canberra. “It’s all about consultation and paying attention to what the community wants. My job is to represent them, and as I am not beholden to any party policy their voice is going straight to Canberra. This is doing democracy as it should be done”.

However, one cannot omit from any discussion about the fight for Indi, the onslaught coming from seemingly ‘anonymous’, the most recent being a glossy ‘Fact Sheet’ stating in bold Red and Green that: A vote for Cathy is a vote for the Greens and Labor. Reverse side we read supposed ‘Facts’. This ‘anonymous’ piece of political propaganda contains the name of no politician, the name of no political party, however the address printed ‘small’ at the bottom reveals that it is the address of the Liberal Party of Australia (Victoria Division).

Cathy’s response, quite typical is not to attack the person, but to calmly lay out the facts for consideration:

I am generally happy to support the Government in getting on to the day to day business of governing. But when they make decisions that are bad for the people of Indi, I will always stand up for our electorate. That is why I voted against the Coalition’s devastating cuts to Youth Allowance and Higher Education. I also opposed the GP co-payment.

This is Cathy McGowan representing Indi. This was what the community was saying they wanted. “I want the people of Indi to see themselves when I represent them in Canberra”.

This is Cathy McGowan on being independent.


Why on earth would you want to vote for the LNP?

Give or take a bit, the polls have both parties squared off at 50/50.

So it means that half of the voting population are prepared to re-elect the Turnbull Government.

People, of course, are free to vote for whoever they want, but I am also free to ask why they would bother to cast a vote in favour of the LNP. Why on earth would you want to vote for a government that:

Has been the worst economic managers since Menzies.

Will provide you with one of the worst broadband networks in the world.

Will keep cutting money from education and health.

Will see you paying up to $100,000 for a university degree.

Will in all likelihood sell off Medicare – at your cost.

Will do nothing to address the ravages of climate change.

Will do nothing about housing affordability.

Will look after the well-off at the expense of the poor.

Will continue to lock up asylum seekers.

Will continue to slash services to the poor, the elderly, the homeless and the ill.

Will do nothing to address Indigenous disadvantage.

Will continue to lie and rort.

Will continue to widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

Will do whatever it can to limit wage growth.

Will cut penalty rates.

Will, if the economists are correct, lead us into a recession.

Will not even countenance an investigation into the banking sector.

Will have no policies, only slogans and scare campaigns.

Will only ever continue to make vague promises about marriage equality.

Will continue to say one thing – only to do the other.

Will ignore science and technology.

Will allow our prime agricultural land to be mined.

Will more than likely make further cuts to the ABC.

Will send more jobs offshore.

Will do nothing about negative gearing.

Will continue to offer unnecessary subsidies to the mining industry.

Will ignore human rights.

Will have a prime minister beholden to right-wing extremists.

Why would anybody want to vote for a government that would make themselves, their families, and the majority of Australians worse off? Why would anybody want to vote for a government that is out of step with the rest of the world? Why on earth would you want to vote for a government that is turning Australia into an economic basket case? Why on earth would you want to vote for a government that will not address social or environmental issues?

Oh, I see, they ‘stopped the boats’ and they ‘axed the tax’.

Well in that case – if that’s all you’re interested in – then go ahead and vote for them.


What will Malcolm say now that the NBN is an election issue?

Much has already been written about Malcolm Turnbull’s disastrous NBN plan though I would just like to add just one thing, by way of a simple question.

But first, something from the media archives to give you some background:

Incoming communications minister Malcolm Turnbull is facing a social media backlash after he seemingly brushed aside a snowballing online campaign to save Labor’s national broadband network (NBN).

An internet petition set up by a Liberal-voting student six days ago had more than 200,000 online signatures by 4pm (AEST) on Thursday, making it the largest ever online petition in Australia.

The NBN petition on calls on the incoming coalition government to scrap plans to create a fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) network in place of Labor’s existing fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) approach.

When asked on Twitter to reconsider policy in light of the petition, Mr Turnbull replied: “Wasn’t there an election recently at which nbn policy was a key issue?”

That was a brush off if ever there was one, and with with a touch of condescension.

In fact, it was such a non-issue to a majority of the Liberal Party – the opinion that the Labor NBN was something nobody really wanted or needed – it was announced that:

The Abbott government will break its NBN election promise of giving all Australians access to 25 megabits per second download speeds by 2016, Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted in Parliament on Thursday.

So to my question . . .

Now that the NBN is an election issue – as spectacularly demonstrated on last night’s Q&A –  what will Malcolm say now?

What will Malcolm say now that the NBN is an election issue?

(Better still, what will he do?)


Malcolm only had one job to do

The NBN has been in the news a lot today, and for all the wrong reasons. It reminds us that the government’s NBN, of course, is a complete farce. It is slow, it is costly, and it uses infrastructure that is out of date. But we know all that.

I think we need to remind ourselves that there is one person, and one person only, who is responsible for providing Australia with a broadband network that is truly pathetic. One that saddles Australia with one of the worst internet speeds in the world. One that places Australian businesses at a disadvantage in a global market. One that also disadvantages the fields of education, science, medicine, technology . . . and on the list goes. One that could take an untold amount of time and money to replace.

One person.

Malcolm Turnbull.

But it was his job. The only job he had to do:

Tony Abbott has ordered Malcolm Turnbull to “demolish” the Government’s National Broadband Network (NBN) as he today brought him back to the Coalition frontbench to head up its communications portfolio.

Remember that. It was Malcolm Turnbull.

And in spite of promoting himself as an astute businessman and visionary, Malcolm Turnbull agreed to do it . . .

Remember that.

How much has been cut from your schools?

The Turnbull Government has cut $29 billion from schools’ funding. Would you like to know how much has been cut from your local schools? Click on the button below.





$126 million has been cut from schools in my electorate (Indi). How much has been cut from yours?




“Elections are decided by those who turn up”

We’re going to the polls on July 2 in what the pundits are predicting will be a close call. Let’s hope that the disappointments of 2013 are not repeated.

After the 2013 election I read somewhere that an extra 30,000 votes for Labor – if those votes were distributed in the right place – would have seen them retain government. I don’t know if that is true or not, but what is true is that an estimated 1.22 million Australians who were eligible to vote, simply didn’t see the need to. Of these, 400,000 were young Australians who hadn’t bothered to enrol.

I find this disappointing, as we rest our hopes on the youth of Australia.

It is the youth of Australia who will face the horrid effects of climate change and a ravaged environment. It is the youth of Australia – more than any other cohort – who are demanding a world class internet. It is the youth of Australia who face an uncertain future because of rising unemployment and ever increasing house prices. And it is the youth of Australia who may have better luck than we did in closing the off-shore detention centres.

If we can encourage the youth to vote, it is fair to say that the people who didn’t vote in the 2013 election might very well determine the result in this year’s election.

This email from Labor (below) was sent to me yesterday. They urge young Australians to enrol and to have their say when it matters most: election day. It is worth sharing and worth spreading.

Elections are decided by those who turn up.

While we may have compulsory voting in Australia, there are over 1.06 million Australians who are aren’t enrolled to vote. This includes nearly half of all eighteen and nineteen year olds.

Last election, marginal seats like Capricornia were decided by just a few hundred votes. If all of these people enrolled, things could have been very different.

Can you make sure you and your family and friends are enrolled to vote today?

Making sure everyone is enrolled could mean the difference between another three years of these out of touch Liberals or a Shorten Labor Government that puts people first.

That’s why we’re asking every single Labor supporter to make sure they’re enrolled to vote and, if you are, to make sure your friends are enrolled too. The rolls may close as soon as next weekend. Can you enrol to vote and share this link with your friends today?

Voting is one of the most important things you’ll do this election — and enrolling yourself or enrolling a friend means you get to have your say. This could be the difference whether we elect a Labor Government that invests in our schools, or a Coalition Government that cuts Medicare.

Let’s ensure that everyone has their say on July 2.

Thanks for your support,

Paul Erickson
Director of Target Seats


Turnbull will always govern for the big end of town

Once upon a time, long before Malcolm was Prime Minister, he could do or say anything he liked and nobody gave a damn. There was a time when, unlike now, he wasn’t dazzled by the spotlight of scrutiny.

But now he is Prime Minister and all his little pearls of wisdom from yesteryear are coming back to haunt him.

And so they should. With an election around the corner the electorate needs to know what their current prime minister stands for.

Once considered a moderate who many thought would tug his party back from the extreme right, Malcolm’s ascension was greeted with optimism and hope from an electorate relieved that the mayhem of the Abbott reign was over.

They were soon disappointed as it became patently clear that all the progressive values they thought Malcolm stood for – that he once said he stood for – have taken the back seat to the ultra-conservative madness and ultra-conservative values that were the trademarks of the Abbott years.

In a nutshell, Malcolm’s also in it for the top end of town.

But don’t be surprised. Malcolm always has been. We cast our spotlight to the days when nobody cared what he did or said, when as Environment Minister in the Howard government he approved a $10,000,000 grant to investigate untried Russian technology for ‘rainmaking’ to the Australian Rain Corporation. The Australian Rain Corporation was co-founded by Mr Matt Hanbury. Hanbury, incidentally, is the nephew of the News Corporation chief, Rupert Murdoch, and contributed to Mr Turnbull’s electorate fund-raising machine. (What an amazing set coincidences).

It was also revealed that Turnbull approved the grant even though the grant amount was five times bigger than his departmental experts recommended.

So even then he was in it for the big end of town. We were warned.

Telling fibs about negative gearing

From the moment a Labor policy is announced, the mainstream media is filled with the dire words from Coalition politicians warning that this policy will be the ruination of free Australia as we know it. From opposition or in government, the warnings flow freely. From opposition we heard ad nauseum from Tony Abbott the destruction to every fabric of our society that Julia Gillard’s ‘carbon tax’ would wreak. And now in government we hear that we can expect the same outcome – economic devastation (in particular for Mums and Dads) – if Labor’s much-needed plan to ‘fiddle with’ negative gearing is implemented.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has been quick to stride up to the nearest microphone to deliver ludicrous assertions that Labor’s planned changes to negative gearing would deliver a “reckless trifecta of lower home values, higher rents and less investment”. I use the word ‘ludicrous’ because that is exactly what these claims are: ludicrous. They are unfounded. This is nothing but a baseless scare campaign.

On Malcolm Turnbull’s Facebook page – where he is of course predicting horrific outcomes under Labor’s plan – buried among the 800 or so comments was a link to an article by Ross Gittins in The Sydney Morning Herald way back in 2003; ‘Pollies tell fibs about negative gearing‘. Gittins points out that the arguments (used in 2003) about the horrors of removing the capital gains luxury – which are the same being used now by Turnbull – are, to use his mild term, ‘fibs’. Gittins reported:

We all know that when Paul Keating got rid of negative gearing in 1985 this proved disastrous for the rental market and he was forced to restore it.

We all know this because the politicians – from John Howard to Simon Crean – keep reminding us of it.

There’s just one small problem: it’s not true. It’s remarkable how bad we are at remembering events – and how easily history can be rewritten by people with an axe to grind.

A negatively geared property investment is one where you borrow such a high proportion of the cost of the property that your interest payments and other expenses exceed the rent you earn. You then deduct this operating loss against taxable income from other sources.

In July 1985 – and as part of a much bigger tax reform package – Treasurer Keating moved to “quarantine” losses from negative gearing by stopping them from being deducted against other income. The US Congress had already done something similar.

But, so we’re asked to believe, this caused investment in rental accommodation to dry up. Vacancy rates fell very low and rents shot up. By September 1987 – just over two years later – Mr Keating was forced to admit his error and restore the old rules.

However, Saul Eslake, ANZ’s chief economist, has gone back to check this story and can’t find it.

His examination of the Real Estate Institute of Australia (REIA) figures for the capital cities shows that rents rose sharply only in Sydney and Perth (and the Bureau of Statistics’ figures for dwelling rent don’t show a marked increase for any capital).

If the tax change was causing trouble, you’d expect it to be showing up in all cities, not just one or two.

Mr Eslake’s conclusion is that rents in Sydney and Perth surged because their rental markets were unusually tight for reasons that had little to do with the tax change.

And this conclusion is supported by an earlier study by Blair Badcock and Marian Browett, geographers at the University of Adelaide.

They say Sydney was the only case that provides support for the claim that the tax change caused problems. “And even here the flow-on effects of the tax changes have to be weighed against the contribution of the general turndown in housing activity in Sydney to the deterioration of the vacancy rate and a real rise in rents,” they say.

But the academics remind us of a factor the pollies gloss over: the central role that politics played in the whole affair.

I wonder how long that link to a big bag of truth will stay on Malcolm Turnbull’s Facebook page.