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Richard has worked in a range of jobs from Politics to Rubbish Recycling to the Finance Industry. He has a BA majoring in History and Politics and (nearly) completed a post graduate Diploma in Journalism. Richard’s interests include local and international politics, social justice and generally not taking life too seriously. Mainly Richard loves to read, write and make people laugh whenever possible.

What the UK General Election result means

When Theresa May called a snap election in April, opinion polls had her Conservative Party 20 points ahead of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Media commentators predicted her government would be returned with a majority of around 90 seats.

For the entire campaign Corbyn and his fully costed policies – including more spending on government services, a more equitable tax system and re-nationalising former government owned enterprises – were dismissed as unaffordable and unworkable.

The narrative that Corbyn was a ‘disaster’ and that the only option was for people to vote for more austerity and corporate cronyism, was proclaimed not only by the Conservative Party, corporate interests and the mainstream media, but also by a significant portion of his own party.

In spite of this, over a million 18-24 year-olds registered to vote during the campaign. On the final day before registrations closed, a record 622,398 people, two-thirds of them under the age of 35, registered to vote. Turnout on Election Day was 68.7 percent, the highest in 20 years, and appeared to be highest in seats with large numbers of young voters.

The result was the biggest swing to Labour since 1945.

This is a victory for Jeremy Corbyn’s mantra of ‘for the many not the few’ over Theresa May’s hollow rhetoric about ‘strength and stability’, neither of which she now possesses.

Theresa May is still the Prime Minister but she leads a minority government dependent on the erratic, and Brexit-sceptical, Democratic Unionist Party. May’s government is weak and lacking credibility, it is Corbyn’s Opposition who are strong and stable. Labour’s policy platform is now firmly entrenched in the political mainstream and, unlike the government’s austerity measures, have given people hope.

Corbyn didn’t succeed because of an Obamaesque vision, or a Trudeau like charisma, he succeeded because of his policies, and the passion with which he campaigned on them. Those policies are as old and well-worn as Corbyn himself. They come from the same beliefs held by the equally uncharismatic Clement Attlee, who lead Labour to their biggest endorsement ever in 1945. They are the policies of Social Democracy. The foundations of the modern welfare state. We tried them before, and they worked very well. They created a fairer and more equitable society, a society we’ve started to lose.

When it comes to living in a capitalist system, we’ve exhausted our options. There’s nothing new to offer from anywhere on the political spectrum. What many incumbent Right wing governments are offering – austerity, curtailing of civil liberties, and ‘trickle-down’ economics – have all been tried before. They are as harmful today as they were before Social Democracy took up the reins in the wake of the most destructive war in history.

Social Democracy created the National Health Service, it entrenched free education as a right for all children, it generated near full employment and real wage growth. Social Democracy made capitalism bearable. It has educated more people, created more equity and fairness, and resulted in more peace and prosperity for more people than any other political system.

The UK election has shown that Social Democracy belongs very much in the political mainstream. It is austerity measures and corporate greed that is unaffordable and unworkable.

Social Democracy is far from perfect, and it won’t in itself save the planet from war, injustice or the destruction of our environment. It’s obvious however that our current political trajectory is creating more conflict, inequity and environmental degradation. Those who benefit the most from the political status quo are afraid of Social Democracy, they have good reason to be.

When $400 million isn’t enough

The Murrin Murrin Joint Venture is a nickel-cobalt mining operation in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia, approximately 45 km east of the town of Leonora. Australia has the highest rate of Indigenous suicide in the world. Leonora has one the highest rates of Indigenous suicide in Australia.

A $1 million community fund aimed at supporting Indigenous health and education, hundreds of local jobs and lucrative contracts for Indigenous businesses, once promised by Anaconda founder and CEO Andrew Forrest, never eventuated. Those promises were made during negotiations between Forrest and 18 native title claimants before construction of Murrin Murrin commenced in 1997.

With no access to legal representation, and little understanding of what they were signing away, all 18 claimants agreed to confidential deals in exchange for a $25,000 cheque. Even by the poor industry standards of the 1990s, each of the claimants should have received the equivalent of at least 100 times that amount in royalties, contracts, employment, education and health care.

Today Murrin Murrin is the largest nickel-cobalt mining operation in the world, worth well in excess of $1 billion. Murrin Murrin is a joint venture between Minara Resources Ltd (formerly Anaconda) and Glenmurin Pty Ltd. In 2011 both companies were wholly acquired by Glencore International, a Swiss owned company registered in a Channel Islands tax haven. Between 2011 and 2014 Glencore paid virtually no tax on $15 billion in revenue from Australian mining operations.

In 2003, Andrew Forrest took control of Allied Mining and Processing, renaming it Fortescue Metals Group. In 2008 Fortescue lodged applications for three mining leases in the Solomon Hub area, some 800km north-east of Murrin Murrin, in the Pilbara region, and began negotiations with the native title holders through the Yindjibarndi Aboriginal Corporation (YAC).

Negotiations broke down after six months over the claim by the 700 traditional owners for a 0.5 per cent royalty from the mine, equivalent to around $50 million per annum on current iron ore prices. This figure was based on similar agreements negotiated by other mining companies in the region, such as Rio Tinto. By comparison Gina Rinehart receives 2.5 per cent in mining royalties for the land her father took from Indigenous people in the Pilbara in the 1950s.

Forrest’s offer was, and remains, cash payments capped at $4 million a year and $6.5 million a year in promised housing, jobs, training and business opportunities.

The YAC has been involved in an ongoing legal battle with Fortescue for the past eight years. Appeals to the Native Title Tribunal and the Federal Court failed to prevent the State Government issuing mining licenses for the Solomon Hub. Fortescue still refuses to budge and has helped fund a rival corporation who support Forrest’s offer.

Mining operations began in 2013 and Solomon is currently ranked as the sixth largest iron ore mine in the world. In the last six months of 2016, Fortescue recorded a US$1.2 billion profit – thanks to the export of 86.1 million tonnes of iron ore at $US90 a tonne. Fortescue are currently on target to ship 165-170 million tonnes of iron ore this year.

Today less than one percent of businesses in the Pilbara are owned by Indigenous people. The Indigenous unemployment rate in that region is 50 percent.

Andrew Forrest does not believe in paying royalties in the form of large cash payments to Indigenous communities. He calls this “corporate cash welfare” and “sit down money”. He does not trust Indigenous communities to invest the money wisely:

“…you know you’ve come to the end of the line. Social breakdown is complete. Now I’m not going to encourage with our cash that kind of behaviour.”

Forrest’s paternalism is at odds with other large mining operations in Australia, such as Rio Tinto and BHP. While those companies have still gained access to resources on Indigenous owned land at bargain basement prices, they have treated traditional owners as business partners, not children.

Where this has occurred, some of the money from royalties has been poorly invested – just as Forrest has made bad investments in the past – but much of it has delivered tangible benefits. All of the money has been entrusted to the Indigenous communities it is intended to benefit, rather than modestly doled out by a billionaire mine owner who insists he knows best.

This is not to say that Andrew Forrest cannot be generous with his money, when he can afford to be. Prior to announcing a $400 million donation last week, Forrest and his wife Nicola had donated around $222 million to various organisations and programs since 2001, largely through their philanthropic organisation, the Minderoo Foundation. Some of that money has gone towards causes such as climate change denial and promoting Forrest’s welfare agenda, but much of it has also delivered tangible benefits.

Philanthropy is in itself both a noble and necessary act that should be encouraged and applauded. It is however, a very poor substitute for welfare. Acts of philanthropy are entirely at the discretion of the philanthropist. It is difficult to imagine that anybody would donate money to a cause that has potential to act against one’s own interests. It is impossible to imagine in Andrew Forrest’s case.

Andrew Forrest does not believe in “sit down money”. The fact that that belief has help make him the third richest person in Australia is more than just a happy coincidence. Nor was it coincidence that the Abbott Government chose Forrest to conduct a review into Indigenous employment and welfare. Forrest’s recommendations, which include the cashless welfare card and attempts to control how welfare recipients spend their money, have been largely endorsed in the latest Federal Budget. They have also been roundly condemned by Indigenous and community groups who say they will produce a new economic subclass.

Indigenous communities, where unemployment is endemic, will be further disempowered. Those who find themselves negotiating with Andrew Forrest in future, will do so under the fear of a paternalistic and punitive welfare model. Under such a model, corporations provide the carrot, in the form of voluntary handouts and non-binding promises of employment and business contracts, while government provides the stick.

It is little different to the model that existed when Andrew Forrest’s great-grand-uncle, Sir John Forrest, took possession of 2000 hectares of “Crown land”, offering the Indigenous inhabitants only employment and patronage in return. That land is known as Minderoo, from which the charitable foundation takes its name. It is one of a number of cattle stations owned by Andrew Forrest.

When two small prospectors lodged applications to search for minerals on one of Forrest’s other cattle stations in 2016, Forrest successfully used native title laws designed to protect Indigenous land rights to stop them.

Andrew Forrest has done very well out of native title in the 20 years since he cut 18 cheques of $25,000. Forbes currently estimates his net worth at $5.78 billion.

In that same 20 years, little has changed for Indigenous Australians. Life expectancy remains 10 years behind non-Indigenous Australians. Indigenous children aged under five are now more than twice as likely to die as non-Indigenous children. Indigenous 15-year-olds are still, on average, about two-and-a-third years behind non-Indigenous 15-year-olds in reading and maths.

The resources that have made people like Andrew Forrest billionaires, mostly lie beneath Indigenous land. Indigenous people have felt the impact of mining more than any other Australians, yet they have benefited from it the least. The same tricks, paternalism and political back-scratching that once saw Aboriginal land sold from under them, is being used by Andrew Forrest to sell their resources from under them as well.

In towns like Leonora, people know the cost of having their future sold from under them – $400 million isn’t nearly enough.

Doctor Who and the Obnoxious MP

In a recent television interview government MP George Christensen claimed to be a lifelong Doctor Who fan. According to George his earliest memory of Doctor Who is watching ‘The Brain of Morbius’ on his grandparents’ grainy black and white television.

Like George, I’m a YUGE Doctor Who fan. So much of a fan in fact that I can tell you that George would have watched that show in 1986.

As any lifelong Doctor Who fan would know, ‘Brain of Morbius’ was a touch too violent for the Australian Classification Board. It was therefore not shown on Australian television until a heavily edited version was screened in the adult time slot of 8pm in early 1980, when George was less than two. The first time it was shown in the regular 6:30 children’s time slot was in 1986, when George would have been about seven.

That’s about the same age I was when I watched ‘Genesis of the Daleks’, my earliest Doctor Who memory.

Now apart from being Doctor Who fans, George and I don’t have very much in common. In fact his politics and mine are about as different as you can get. So how did two people who became lifelong followers of the same TV show end up on the opposite side of politics? It’s not as if Doctor Who has shied away from political themes in the past. Environmentalism, pacifism, tolerance and gender equality have featured heavily throughout the show’s history.

Maybe it stems from the first shows we watched. ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ is the origin story of the Doctor’s greatest enemy and parallels the rise of Nazism. ‘Brain of Morbius’ is a Lovecraftian horror story where the titular villain is driven off a cliff by an all-female cult of religious fanatics. Make of that what you will.

Both shows did star Tom Baker in the lead role however. If there’s one thing that could span the political chasm between myself and George, it’s that iconic scarf. That’s the appeal of Doctor Who, everyone can take something from it.

But does everyone have something to give back to Doctor Who? Maybe not. Here’s why I think that George Christensen should never be let into a Tardis:

George is an outspoken opponent of Muslim immigration, often speaking at Reclaim Australia rallies and the better dressed but equally racist Q Society. He claims we are “at war with radical Islam”.

So it’s probably safe to assume that if George had had his way in Britain in 1946 it is unlikely he would have allowed an eight year old Muslim immigrant called Waris Hussain and his family to enter the country. Which would have been a shame as Waris went on to direct the first ever Doctor Who serial, An Unearthly Child, in 1963. As well as most of the epic fourth serial, Marco Polo, in 1964.

George isn’t too keen on women either, if the opinion piece he wrote, ”The truth is that women are bloody stupid”, is anything to go by. The piece appeared in a student magazine edited by George in 1998, which also contained a number of anti-Semitic and homophobic articles.

It’s just as well George wasn’t in charge of the BBC at the time they hired their first female producer, Verity Lambert. She was hired 1963 to produce a children’s television show called Doctor Who, which was expected to last for thirteen weeks. Lambert was also Jewish, as was Carol Ann Ford, who played the Doctor’s first companion.

George is quite an outspoken opponent of LGBTI rights. That probably wouldn’t have sat well with John Nathan-Turner who was openly gay in an era where Boy George still hadn’t officially come out. Nathan-Turner produced Doctor Who from 1980 to 1989.

During that time he managed to keep the show running despite numerous cuts to his budget and attempts to cancel the show. In fact it’s fair to say that without his efforts the show would have been canned long before Christensen tuned into it on a black and white television in 1986.

The man who brought Doctor Who back to our screens in 2005, Russell T Davies, is also gay, as are a number of characters and companions featured in the revived series.

George was probably too young to pick up on the anti-Thatcher themes that permeated the Sylvester McCoy era, or known that many of the Doctor’s speeches in that era were copied from the CND policy platform.

Who knows what the Doctor would make of George’s aggressive opposition to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program? Most baffling of all though is that George is a member of a government who holds public broadcasting in contempt.

It’s difficult to imagine a show as iconic as Doctor Who originating anywhere other than the BBC, but they’re not the only public broadcaster that George has to thank for his favourite show. Without the ABC, which he and the government he is part of have attacked, denigrated and underfunded on an ongoing basis, Australians, myself and George included, would probably never have known about Doctor Who. That’s a parallel universe I never want to travel to.

So I hope that George Christensen enjoys tonight’s episode as much as I do. No doubt we’ll take some very different things from it. One thing we should all take from it however is that we’ll be watching tonight’s show thanks to people who are nothing like George Christensen.

Black and White Justice

On Thursday this week two men from the Northern Territory appeared in court.

In Darwin, a 58-year-old man who goes by the name of Joe pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography.

Over the border in Mount Isa, 48-year-old Marshall pleaded guilty to a driving offence.

Joe had been caught in possession of eight videos containing child pornography, with two rated as category one, and the other six as category two. The first category includes depictions of “torture, cruelty or abuse of children”, while category two includes “penetrative sexual activity between adults and children”.

One police investigator described the videos as the worst example of child abuse material they had ever seen. Joe had downloaded other files that had been deleted from his hard drive and could not be recovered by police.

Marshall had been caught driving without a licence.

Joe’s lawyer told the court that he had viewed the child abuse material in an attempt to seek “emotional respite”. They claimed Joe, a former firefighter, had been diagnosed with high levels of PFOS (a potentially hazardous chemical previously used in firefighting foam) and was also affected by a fatal accident that occurred between an aviation firetruck and a car which occurred on his watch as commander.

Marshall’s lawyer provided evidence to the court saying he was unfit for custody because he had liver cancer and had been given six to nine months to live by doctors.

The judge in Joe’s case dismissed the argument made by his lawyer but took into account the fact that Joe had not paid for the videos, had a low amount of them, had deleted them after watching them and had stopped accessing them at the time of his arrest. The Judge also acknowledge that the shame, embarrassment and public humiliation Joe had experienced would also act as a deterrent.

Joe was given a sentence of 12 months which was reduced to nine months for cooperating with investigations and pleading guilty at an early stage. The nine-month sentence was then fully suspended.

Marshall was given a sentence of 15 months. He will be incarcerated in the prison ward of the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane. Marshall’s family are unable to afford to stay in Brisbane, leaving him with no one to visit.

Joe is white.

Marshall is Indigenous.

The judges in both cases were white. The Premier of Queensland, and her Justice Minister – who have both ruled out intervening in Marshall’s case – are also white. So are Nigel Scullion, Jenny Macklin and Mal Brough – the last three Federal Ministers for Indigenous Affairs – under whose watch Indigenous incarceration rates have increased by 52% over the last decade.

The Government of Western Australia, which incarcerates Indigenous people at nine times the rate of Apartheid South Africa, is predominantly white. So is the government of the Northern Territory which incarcerates Indigenous children at three times the rate of other Australian States.

Three percent of Australia’s population are Indigenous. So are 28 percent of our prison population, 35 percent of all incarcerated women and 48 percent of all juveniles incarcerated in Australia.

Before either Joe or Marshall set foot in court, Marshall was 15 times more likely than Joe, to be incarcerated.

That’s Australian justice in black and white.

A New Political Party

Introducing Australia’s newest political party – the Laboral Hypocrats.

Are you sick of all the talk of political correctness, feminism, asylum seekers, safe schools and multiculturalism?

So are we!

In fact if we have to listen to one more rant from that right-wing, self-agrandising, dickhead Mark Latham banging on about any of those subjects one more time, we’re calling him a taxi.

Just because someone has the right to an opinion – regardless of how misguided, prejudiced or psychologically unstable – doesn’t mean they have the right to be heard.

That’s why the Laboral Hypocrats are committed to defending the most important freedom we have in Australia – Freedom from Speech.

The Laboral Hypocrats will fight to defend the freedom of all Australians to not have to put up with every racist, misogynist, homophobic, Islamaphobic, attention-seeking jerk repeating the same misanthropic crap, day in and day out.

Under a Laboral Hypocrat government – whinging about being shouted down, stifled by political correctness and ‘reverse racism’ – will no longer be legitimate grounds for defence against criticism.

The Laboral Hypocrats will ensure that all hateful and divisive opinions are stuck exactly where they belong by requiring all public figures, and Sam Newman, to sign the Self-importance Time Free Undertaking (STFU).

The STFU will ensure that opinions expressed in a public forum may be subject to ridicule, disregard and being labelled “bullshit” without fear of the detractor being persecuted under Freedom of Speech laws.

The Laboral Hypocrats are more than just a single issue party.

We believe in the science of human induced climate change – anyone one who wants to argue against us is welcome to debate all 97 of our environmental spokespersons.

The Laboral Hypocrats are committed to a national telecommunications network that lets you phone someone who cares.

The Laboral Hypocrats also have a strong animal welfare policy. We believe that the STFU system should not only apply to people, but also to the horses they rode in on.

So next election don’t be brow-beaten by some has-been politician, Murdoch hack or wannabe satirist on Facebook – Vote Laboral Hypocrat!

Movie Review: A Fistful of Rubles

Belonging to the lesser known genre of Australian films known as the Fish n Chip Western, A Fistful of Rubles is a B-grade farce currently screening in Australian cinemas. It tells the story of Red Hanson and the One Nation Gang, a group of small time hustlers and con-artists who make a living by harassing ethnic and religious minorities, pedaling climate change denial and rustling voters at election time, for which the Australian Electoral Commission pays them $2.62 per first preference vote.

After a successful heist netting $1.2 million at the 2016 Federal Election, and inspired by news of the Trump Gang’s exploits in the Wild West, Red decides to expand the gang’s operation. Red sets off for the lawless town of Canberra with fellow gang members: demolitions expert Mad Malcolm; gunslinger Killer Culleton; and Ringo Burston, whose purpose remains unclear throughout the movie.

Things begin badly when Killer Culleton, weighed down with excess baggage, is caught in quicksand, forcing Red to cut him loose to prevent the rest of the gang being dragged down with him. Despite this and numerous other setbacks, the gang continues to attract support, recruiting a number of deperados, deplorables and dickheads, as they dynamite their way across the Australian political landscape.

Upon arriving in Canberra, Red and the gang learn of a feud between a family of local landowners, the Liberals, and a railroad company owned by a mysterious businessman known only as Vlad the Russian. The Liberals are looking to protect their own interests and sense of entitlement, while Vlad wants to railroad his way through Western Democracy so that he can exploit his sizeable oil and gas investments, currently stifled by international sanctions.

Red decides to play off one faction against the other by swapping preferences with the Liberals, while at the same time seeking financial patronage from Vlad by trying to convince the townsfolk that a corrupt, warmongering, human-rights-violating, dictatorship is the sort of “strong” leadership that’s needed there.

From here the movie descends into an unauthorised, low-budget ripoff of a Sergio Leonie film, which is itself an unauthorised, low-budget ripoff of an Akira Kurusowa film. Poorly scripted and directed, with lacklustre performances from the cast, A Fistful of Rubles has the artistic merit of a post-Guttenburg Police Academy sequel.

Lacking the special effects budgets of similar productions in the US and Europe, the film resorts to a pedestrian plot line, one-dimensional characters and clichéd dialogue. Slapstick performances from supporting actors Roberts and Culleton provide some comic relief but fail to prevent this production from becoming a thoroughly cringeworthy experience.

One out of five stars.

NASA Announces Exciting New Discovery

Breaking news: NASA has called a press conference to announce the discovery of a parallel universe. “We have long speculated about the existence of parallel universes”, a NASA spokesperson said, “now for the first time we have evidence”.

A team of scientists in Australia have observed a universe which, although similar to our own in appearance, is governed by a completely different set of laws. The newly discovered universe, inhabited almost exclusively by politicians, CEOs and government appointed judges, has been dubbed the Peter Pan Universe by its discoverers, after a fictional over-indulged child who refuses to grow up.

“It appears as though laws that apply to the Peter Pan Universe are completely contradictory to our own” NASA stated.

In the Peter Pan Universe the more money you earn the less tax you have to pay. People on tax-payer funded incomes below the poverty line have to repay their debts to the Commonwealth but people on tax-payer funded incomes starting at $230,000 (the base salary of a federal MP) don’t. The team even found a judge with a remuneration package in excess of half a million dollars and no requirement to work on Sundays ruling that weekend penalty rates were excessive.

Scientists first began searching for the parallel universe back in 2011 when they discovered an anomaly in their data. While wage grown in the real world has been steadily declining, research uncovered evidence of a huge pay rise going to federal politicians, judges and senior public servants.

When combined with data showing exponential growth in the salaries of CEOs and corporate tax evasion, scientists reached the inescapable conclusion that these people clearly inhabit a completely different universe to the rest of us.

NASA was able to confirm this theory on Thursday when they took readings showing Sunday penalty rates in Australia had been reduced. This ran contrary to readings taken in January this year showing a 2-3 per cent pay rise for the people who made that decision.

“The only conclusion we can draw from this data is that there is one set of rules for our universe, and a completely different set of rules for theirs” NASA stated in a press release.

Despite being excited by the discovery, NASA is at pains to point out that travel between the Peter Pan Universe and our own is physically impossible.

Traveling to the Peter Pan Universe requires a level of wealth, privilege and entitlement that is beyond the capacity of people living in the real world. While traveling from the Peter Pan Universe to our own is equally problematic, as one scientist explained:

“The inhabitants of the Peter Pan Universe have evolved to live in a more sheltered and comfortable environment, one of excessively high wages, expense claims and off-shore tax havens. They couldn’t survive a week in the real word”.

What’s good for the goose

Malcolm Turnbull has come a long way since he said the consequences of unchecked global warming would be catastrophic.

Today he leads a government that has cut $500 million from funding for clean energy, gutted the CSIRO, and continues to erroneously blame South Australia’s use of renewable energy for power failures.

Turnbull’s government remains steadfast in its support for the Adani coal mine and is contemplating a $1 billion loan for the project.

Last week, while most of the nation endured a massive heatwave, his government taunted the Opposition, and presumably anyone else concerned about carbon emissions, by passing around and petting a lump of coal.

The man who in 2010 said that Australia needed to move to “a situation where all or almost all of our energy comes from zero or very near zero-emission sources” now describes proponents of renewables as “drunk on left ideology on energy”.

These days Malcolm Turnbull is all about addressing the impact of carbon emissions by investing public money in clean coal. This is a bit like the government addressing the impact of smoking by investing in low-tar cigarettes, which hasn’t been suggested since Bronwyn Bishop was shadow Heath Minister.

Some might cast Turnbull as an incipit sellout to the fossil fuel industry who now hates renewable energy, but that’s only half true.

It is wrong to assume that Turnbull shares his coal-stroking compatriots’ phobia of clean energy. The man who last week attempted to revive his political fortunes by calling Bill Shorten a “hypocrite” is more than happy to get a little drunk on left ideology on renewables, at least when it comes to himself.

Last year the PM upgraded the solar panels on his Point Piper harbourside mansion and added a stack of batteries giving him a total of 14.5 kilowatts worth of solar panels and 14 hours of battery power. With more heatwaves and power shortages to come, this should ensure the Turnbulls remain in air-conditioned comfort.

So it turns out Turnbull is prepared to back renewables for one Australian family. And who can blame him for going off grid? It’s not like he can rely on his government to fix the problem.

Dinner at the Turnbulls

 

MT: Smashed that little oik Shorten in Parliament today.

Lucy: Did you darling?

MT: Oh yes. Pass the foie gras….do you know what he said to me?

Lucy: What did he say dear?

MT: The chap said I was the most out-of-touch PM ever. Bill Shorten! Fellow can barely tell the difference between a Château Lafite and a Château Mouton, and he calls me out of touch! Well I wasn’t having any of that.

Lucy: No dear. There was that Prime Minister during Federation, what was his n….

MT: I’d had a terrible day….the oysters are a bit tasteless tonight.

Lucy: I’ll have a word with the chef. What was bad about your day darling?

MT: Well it all started off with that nasty Cory Bernardi business…

Lucy: Oh so he resigned then?

MT: Yes. So anyway….how did you know he was resigning?

Lucy: Well it was obvious wasn’t it?

MT: How so?

Lucy: I mean all that carry on about conservative Christian values, criticising your leadership and saying he was going to leave and form his own party. That was obvious wasn’t….

MT: He criticised my leadership? A chap who can barely tell the difference between Beluga and…

Lucy: Oh no. I think I’m getting confused with someone else entirely. Nothing to do with your leadership…silly me. Anyway, you were saying?

MT: Mmmm, not a bad year that Grange…now where was I?

Lucy: You were saying Bill Shorten called you out of touch.

MT: Ah yes. Well, I was already in a bad mood after being blindsided by Cory, who could have seen that coming?

Lucy: (Sigh) No one dear.

MT: After all the effort I made. I sent him off to New York for three months, and not one photograph of him passed out in a strip club. What does Joe Hockey think we pay him for?

Lucy: I warned you about that…

MT: I know, I know. So as if that’s not enough…Mmmm, truffles are good this time of year…as if that’s not enough, it turns out Gina is financing him.

Lucy: Joe Hockey?

MT: Not Joe, well no more than usual, she’s financing Cory.

Lucy: Still?

MT: Yes. Well I wasn’t standing for that. I was straight on the phone to Gina’s office asking her PA to reconsider.

Lucy: How is Sophie?

MT: She was a little under the weather….shall we open another bottle?

Lucy: Better not, we don’t want to be nodding off during the ballet.

MT: I suppose not. Anyway I didn’t hold back. I begged, I pleaded, I cried my eyes out. I said: “Didn’t Gina realise how much our association has mutually enhanced our reputations?”

Lucy: And what did she say?

MT: Look at that, tarnished!

Lucy: I’ll have a word with the maid. What did Sophie say?

MT: Oh something about knowing my station and needing to go for a pedicure. I’m giving her secretary a call tomorrow, I won’t be letting this go.

Lucy: That’s what I love about you darling.

MT: Me too. So after all that, I walk into parliament and that upstart Shorten calls me out of touch.

Lucy: So you put him in his place?

MT: Oh yes. We had plenty of his sort at Sydney Grammar, scholarship boys. Soon whipped them into shape. I called him a ‘parasite’, a ‘simpering sycophant’ and a ‘hypocrite’.

Lucy: And Barnaby was okay with that?

MT: Oh yes. He thought it was hilarious. Said I can call Shorten those things any time I like. I don’t even need his permission.

Lucy: That’s nice. So why did Bill Shorten say you were out of touch?

MT: Oh he was banging on about us passing a bill cutting $8 billion from welfare and government services while calling for tax cuts for corporations. You know the usual politics of envy stuff…that was a nice drop. Could have done with a bit more of a decanter.

Lucy: I’ll have a word with the butler.

Lay off our PM, President Trump

Dear President Trump,

We in Australia read with dismay that you were rude and disrespectful during a phone conversation with our esteemed Prime Minister Malcolm Trumble. Frankly sir, this reflects very poorly on your understanding of international diplomacy, and in particular your understanding of US-Australian relations.

Australian Prime Ministers have a long and proud tradition of sucking up to US Presidents. Yet not since Stanley Melbourne Bruce has this nation elected so consummate a lickspittle as Mr Trumble to be our Prime Minister.

There is no Statesman, World Leader or Russian prostitute more willing to satisfy your ambitions than Mr Trumble, and it’s not just presidential arse he’s adept at smooching. Mr Trumble has been steadfastly resolute in selling out to every homophobe, climate change denier, and right-wing nut job in his party.

As Prime Minister, Mr Trumble has consistently demonstrated that there is no principle too strongly held to abandon, no commitment too firmly made to back away from, no position too humiliating to get into, for the sake of those who hold his position to ransom. A ransom he is prepared to fork out $1.75 million of his own money to pay.

So lay off our PM, President Trump. It’s time you showed him the respect and admiration you can clearly see he’s earned from his party, the nation and our parliament. We all hope that that you will show a great deal more respect to the next Australian PM when they phone to introduce themselves in a few months time.

Sincerely,
Australia

Why we need more corporate tax cuts

 

ATO data shows that 36 per cent of large companies paid no tax in the 2014-15 financial year. 679 companies including McDonalds Asia Pacific, Chevron Australia, Vodafone Hutchison and News Corp made $462 billion in revenue in Australia last year without contributing a single cent to the nation’s health, education, defense or welfare.

Of the large companies who did pay tax, the effective tax rate on profits was 25 per cent – 5 per cent below the statutory rate of 30 per cent.

Of the 200 largest corporate taxpayers in Australia, companies in the health care, energy and financial sectors paid the lowest effective tax rates of 19 to 24 per cent on a combined income of over $330 billion.

Investors in Australia assume taxpayers will bail out Australia’s big four banks in the event of any of them becoming insolvent. As a result, investors lending to such large banks are prepared to accept lower returns for risk, which lowers how much banks pay for funding. The Reserve Bank of Australia estimates that Australia’s major banks receive an implicit subsidy worth between $1.9 billion and $3.7 billion due to this assumption.

An international report on G20 subsidies found that the Turnbull government is continuing to subsidise fossil fuel production to the tune of $5.6 billion a year. Nearly $6 billion a year is paid to Australian corporations though the Fuel Tax Credit scheme. In 2014 it was estimated that State Governments alone had paid $17.6 billion in subsidies to mining companies over the previous 6 years.

Oxfam Australia estimates that the Australian economy is losing up to $6 billion a year in tax revenue due to Australian-based multinationals shifting money to international tax havens.

The federal government remains committed to doing bugger all about this problem, but they are pushing ahead with their plans to cut corporate tax rates. This means that while we’ll still be up to $6 billion a year down on revenue, corporate tax avoidance will be a lot less of a problem in Australia, because the less tax you’re meant to pay, the less tax you can avoid paying.

So the government would like to wish big business a happy and prosperous 2017. For the rest of us, they’ve had to made make some cut backs.

 

A depressing story about rorting

Once upon a time Bronwyn Bishop was appointed Speaker of the House of Representatives and given a taxpayer-funded salary of $341,477. During that time she ignored the long standing convention of a bipartisan Speaker by continuing to attend government meetings and party fundraisers.

In addition to her salary, between July 2013 and June 2016, Bishop claimed $1,900,201.65 in expenses. In 2014 alone she claimed over $800,000. In the second half of that year Bishop spent $130,889.80 on travel expenses. These included $42,805.51 on an 11-day trip to South East Asia in September 2014, $88,084 on a 15-day official visit to Europe while she was running for the presidency of the Geneva-based Inter-Parliamentary Union in October, and $5,227.27 for a charted helicopter flight to a Liberal Party fundraiser from Melbourne to Geelong (a 90 minute drive) in November.

Following an announcement that the Department of Finance would be investigating Bishop’s expense claims over the previous 16 years, Bishop resigned as Speaker in August 2015.

Bishop now works for Sky News as a political commentator. This week in response to Tony Abbott’s claim that governments have been far too ready to put people with bad backs and ‘a bit of depression’ on the disability support pension, Bishop said:

‘There are a large number of people who were rorting it and there are a large number of people who are drug addicts and they think they meet the criteria.”

According to Beyond Blue, Black Dog Institute and the Australian Government:

45 per cent of Australian will experience a mental health condition in their lifetime;

Around 1 million Australian adults currently have depression, and over 2 million have anxiety;

One in 16 Australians aged 16 to 24 is currently experiencing depression;

One in six young Australians is currently experiencing an anxiety condition;

One in four young Australians currently has a mental health condition;

Suicide is the biggest killer of Australians aged 16 to 24 accounting for 10.5 per cent of deaths, more than car accidents (6.4 per cent);

Every day, at least six Australians die from suicide and a further thirty people will attempt to take their own life;

Australians are more likely to die by suicide than skin cancer;

This year the Department of Health announced it would strip over $140 million in funding from the Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPYS) program;

Since 2013 the Federal Government has cut nearly $1 billion in funding for community services.

The Disability Support Pension is $797.90 per fortnight.

Bronwyn Bishop receives a taxpayer-funded pension of $255,000 plus 10 free domestic return flights a year.

And she lived happily ever after.

If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.

You better watch out

Peter Dutton would like to wish you a merry Christmas, and you’d better all damn well wish him one back.

Like the good Christian he claims to be, the minister for Immigration has decided to use the Christmas season to stir up more division and hatred among Australians. ‘Tis the season to be vigilant, yes Dutton is calling for people to “rise up” and defend Christmas against the dreaded scourge of “political correctness gone mad”.

According to the irrefutable testimony of a talkback radio caller named Jim, who attended a ceremony at his grandson’s school, not one Christmas carol was sung during the ceremony.

Dutton, the man responsible for imprisoning children on Nauru and Christmas Island in conditions where they are subjected to mental, physical and sexual abuse, is furious at the suggestion of school children not being allowed to sing Christmas carols.

“You make my blood boil with these stories”

Because according to Dutton, we are “a Christian society”. I’m not sure when that particular change to the Australian constitution was made but from now on if you’re not prepared to sing about peace and goodwill at Christmas time, you can expect the wrath of those who do.

Dutton linked the issue to the “Teachers for Refugees” campaign. Dutton doesn’t want teachers teaching students about how his department treats people seeking asylum by imprisoning them in remote Hellholes, he wants them teaching students about how Mary and Joseph were given refuge in a barn.

The talkback radio host, Ray Hadley, identified the “Left-wing” principal as the problem and suggested a reason they may be poorly qualified for the position.

“I think it’s a female”

Hadley had some words of advice for the principal.

“What she’s got to get through her skull: by doing it, she causes division, because the kids who want to hear the Christmas carols … suddenly target those minority groups.”

The principal is actually a man, but Hadley’s point still stands. What he’s got to get through his skull: if he doesn’t let children who want to hear songs about bringing good tidings to you and your kin hear those songs … they’ll beat the shit out of minority groups.

So there you have it minorities, if you don’t like living in Peter Dutton’s Christian Australia, go live in a country where religious fanatics run things.

Turnbull & Morrison Tax Consultants

Turnbull & Morrison are Australia’s leading tax minimisation consultants, specialising in reducing the tax obligations of some of our biggest companies.

In the 2014/15 financial year, Turnbull & Morrison helped 679 public and private entities with combined revenues of $462,143,275,019 pay 0 per cent tax. We’ve have helped over a third of Australia’s largest companies pay no tax for the last two financial years.

Our specialist consultants will work with your business to reduce your tax liabilities by cutting staff and resources at the ATO, freezing wage growth, removing penalty rates and safe working conditions, and regularly distracting the public with sensationalised stories of dole-bludgers, welfare cheats and Australia having a problem with spending rather than revenue.

We are proud to have helped make Australia a nation where corporations pay an average tax rate of 16.2 per cent, less than a working nurse.

Some of our largest non-tax paying clients include:

News Corp, who paid less than 1 per cent tax on $2.7 billion in reported income in 2013/14 and no tax at all on $2.8 billion in 2014/15.

Qantas, who have paid just over $200,000 tax on over $30 billion of income over the last two financial years.

The Tech industry, where last year Apple paid 1.7 per cent tax on $8.3 billion in revenue, Google paid 2.7 per cent on $438 million, and Microsoft paid 4.9 per cent on $639 million.

The Resources and Energy sector, with nearly 60% of mining and energy companies paying no tax last year. We’ve also helped the industry by giving them over $4 billion a year in taxpayer funded subsidies, abolishing carbon pricing and ending competition from the renewable energy sector.

Other satisfied clients include Virgin Australia, Bluescope Steel, Treasury Wine Estates, Nine Entertainment, Downer EDI and Wilson Security.

Turnbull & Morrison are proud sponsors of the Murdoch Trust, who are also proud sponsors of us. We are grateful for the opportunity to support the Murdoch Trust’s philanthropic work promoting corporate-friendly policies in governments around the world.

At Turnbull & Morrison we’re working hard to reduce the burdens of transparency, accountability and responsibility. You won’t find a better team to keep your expenses down, your obligations to a minimum and your loopholes wide open.

So if you’re a public or foreign-owned company with a total income of $100 million or more, a private entity with a total income of $200 million or more, or one of our mates at the IPA, contact Turnbull & Morrison today for an obligation free quote. Our friendly innovative team will be sure to exceed your expectations.

At Turnbull & Morrison wealth always comes first.

How much freedom to hate do you need?

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 makes it unlawful for someone to commit a public act that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” someone because of their race or ethnicity.

Section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act contains exemptions which protect freedom of speech. These ensure that artistic works, scientific debate and fair comment on matters of public interest are exempt from section 18C, providing they are said or done reasonably and in good faith.

While opponents of 18C argue that it stifles freedom of speech, the courts have consistently interpreted sections 18C and 18D as maintaining a balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification. The courts have held that for conduct to be covered by section 18C, the conduct must involve:

“…profound and serious effects, not to be likened to mere slights.”

This is a point opponents of 18C always ignore. Section 18C isn’t about insensitive jokes and hurt feelings, it’s about genuinely malicious behaviour. Typical examples of successful prosecutions under 18C include:

Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism;

a case in which Aboriginal youths killed in a car accident were described as “criminal trash” and “scum” that should be used as “land fill”; and

a case in which an Aboriginal women and her family were subjected to an torrent of abuse, including being called “niggers”, “coons”, “black mole”, “black bastards” and “lying black mole c**t”.

Sections 18C and 18D were introduced in 1995 in response to recommendations from major inquiries including the National Inquiry into Racist Violence and the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. Those inquiries found that racial hatred and vilification could cause emotional and psychological harm to their targets, and reinforce other forms of discrimination and exclusion. They found that seemingly low-level behaviour often softened the environment for more severe acts of harassment, intimidation or violence by implicitly condoning such acts.

Sections 18C and 18D have existed in Australia for 21 years. They have been in existence for the entire time Andrew Bolt has been employed at the Herald Sun. They have been in existence for the entire time Pauline Hanson, David Leyonhjelm, Cory Bernardi, George Christensen, and the majority of conservative MPs calling for their repeal, have sat in parliament. They existed when One Nation, the United Patriots Front, and countless other hate groups demanding their freedom to offend, insult, intimate and harass were formed.

Those who claim that 18C limits their freedom to speak include a number of conservative MPs who, in addition to having access to taxpayer funded media staff and the national media itself, enjoy legal immunity through Parliamentary Privilege, which protects them against civil or criminal liability for actions or statements made in the course of their legislative duties. Outside Parliament Pauline Hanson has made regular TV appearances since 2004 and holds down a guest spot on the Today show. While Leyonhjelm, Bernardi and Christensen have hardly been starved of the opportunity to put forward their unstifled opinions.

Other opponents of 18C include:

The IPA, one of the most over represented organisations in Australia, with members filling a number of positions in the media, on Government boards and the Government benches;

Andrew Bolt, the most widely circulated commentator in Australia;

radio shock-jocks such as Alan Jones, one of the most highly paid and influential media personalities in Australia; and

News Corp, the largest media organisation in Australia owned by the proprietor of the largest media organisation in the world.

Opponents of 18C include some of the loudest and most influential voices in the nation, they possess more freedom to speak than anyone else. Their opposition to 18C has nothing to do their freedom of free speech, it is about tipping the balance between freedom of speech and freedom from racial vilification in their favour.

Earlier this week the Government rather meekly called for submissions regarding 18C to their “Inquiry into the freedom of speech in Australia”. While the people who claim that 18C stifles their freedom of speech have had years to make their case, the rest of us have until Friday.

 

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