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Rossleigh is a writer, director and teacher. As a writer, his plays include “The Charles Manson Variety Hour”, “Pastiche”, “Snap!”, “That’s Me In The Distance”, “48 Hours (without Eddie Murphy)”, and “A King of Infinite Space”. His acting credits include “Pinor Noir Noir” for “Short and Sweet” and carrying the coffin in “The Slap”. His ten minutes play, “Y” won the 2013 Crash Test Drama Final.

Labor Needs To Come Clean On Emissions Target But Liberals Can Go On Being Dirty!

One of the consistent narratives over the past few years has been the Liberals’ demand that Labor tell us what their policies will cost. Sometimes asking about cost is entirely reasonable; other times it’s a little ridiculous.

To use a household budget – one of the Liberals’ favourite analogies – Mr and Mrs Smith are at the hospital waiting for news about their middle child when the doctor comes out to tell them that she needs their permission for an emergency operation. Does anyone think that the Smiths will say, “Hang on a minute, how much will this cost?” before telling the doctor that they’ve already worked out that the budget for his food and school fees threatens their surplus in the coming financial year, and well, this operation will put them into deficit?

Ok, that’s a silly analogy. How could parents be worried about cost when the lives of their child is at stake? No, it’s only when the lives of all children throughout the world are at stake that we want to know what the zero emission policy will cost.

Climate alarmism, eh? Yes, it’s a load of nonsense. A few years ago we were told that we’d have unusually severe weather events and look at what happened. There’s nothing unusual about them at all, we have severe weather events all the time now. There’s nothing unusual about having “once in a hundred years” rainfall several times in the space of a decade.

I guess the main thing that concerns me is that nobody in the media seems to be going: “Ah cost, that’s something we should consider, Mr Morrison what is the cost of your climate change policies?”

Ok, we all know how that would play out: Scottiie rejects the premise of the question. Quite right of him, too. The Liberals have no  policies about from a general idea that they’re against too much climate change and that some action is needed so long as that action doesn’t result in any change to anything whatsoever.

As I’ve previously pointed out the hashtag “Scottyfrommarketing” is appropriate. (Although not as appropriate as #Scottysackedfrommarketing”!) Morrison seems to think that once he’s managed the spin at the press conference then the job’s over. Getting flack about this, then announce that. Getting flack because that didn’t happen, tell everyone you’re disappointed and you’ll look into it. That still not happening, tell everyone you’re very, very angry and you’ve appointed someone to have an inquiry which will report to you personally and you’ll let us know how it showed you weren’t at fault in any way.

And this is how he deals with urgent matters, so 2050 is someone else’s problem. All that matters is making sure that neither Labor nor The Greens sound like they have any decent ideas about anything. If a press conference goes in the wrong direction, you bring it back on track by telling the reporter that you weren’t aware of any report that said anything or that his premise is faulty or that it’s just gossip and people outside the Canberra bubble don’t care about large scale corruption.

Yes, just like in the election campaign where Shorten was asked for specific details about all his policies while Morrison was asked which of his baseball caps was his favourite, there seems no equivalency in the focus of the media’s attention. We need to know the precise cost of a net zero emissions policy by 2050 but rather than being compared with the cost of the Coalition’s emissions reduction policy the nearest we get is, “What’s the cost of doing nothing?”

Which, I’m sure many would argue, IS the Coalition’s policy.

However, it would be nice if that could be made explicit rather than forcing us all to infer it from the fact that we have Coalition spokespeople like Matt Canavan telling us that zero emissions = zero jobs and Prue McSween telling us that 2050 is only twenty years away and how could we swap to renewables in a mere twenty years. (Perhaps somebody should tell Prue that twenty years ago we didn’t have YouTube, Facebook, smartphones and Google was but a glint in the eyes of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, so there can be a lot of change in a short time!).

At least then we can start saying that the choice is between a Labor Party who isn’t doing enough to fight climate change and a Coalition who seem to think that thoughts and prayers are enough for everything.

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Indue, Uhlmann, Andrew Bolt And Holden Cars…

Politics seems to have reached a point where we don’t just have different views depending who we are. We’ve gone beyond Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” where some were  arguing that Trump’s inauguration numbers were greater than what was being reported. At least, Conway was trying to argue a consistent set of incorrect information. She wasn’t trying to argue, as has become what I would suggest is Doubled-down Schrodinger’s Cat Position. Schrodinger’s cat, you may remember, was a physics thought experiment where a cat could be considered both alive and dead until one opened the box. Politician and opinion writers seem to arguing that the cat is both alive and dead AND they’ve opened the box to have a look but we can’t see because it invades the cat’s privacy/the cat is commercial-in-confidence/the cat is wrapped in a Cabinet paper/viewing the cat would sap consumer confidence.

I mean, is it just me but does anyone else find it strange that the Commonwealth can approach the robodebt court case announcing that they don’t have a duty of care while rolling out the Indue card. Of course if you’re a critic of the card, you can argue that it not only humiliates the holder but also makes their lives infinitely more complicated. However, the government’s argument is that they’re doing it to help the poor souls manage because if they don’t have to get approval to spend their money then they might waste it on things like drugs, alcohol, second-hand goods or rent. Yes, the government doesn’t have a duty of care, but it does care enough to check how people spend their money and it’s their duty to ensure it’s spent well.

Just when I thought that was going to win my nomination for Political Schrodinger of the Week, Chris Uhlmann bobs up on Twitter with this: For all of those who are taking up the memorable catch cry of RFS volunteer Paul Parker. Here is a bit more context from an interview he did with 9News AUS. There is only one politician in Australia he doesn’t think should “get f-ed”. Guess who?”

Yes, he wanted us all to know that Paul Parker was Pauline Hanson supporter.

Reading the response to Uhlmann’s tweet, the general reaction of the loose coalition of left and sensible centre who felt that Parker spoke for the nation when he told the PM where to go – which, if you didn’t hear it, wasn’t Hawaii – was, “Oh well, it’s a free country and while we don’t agree with him on PHON, he’s still a brave firefighter and didn’t deserve sacking just because he swore about the PM.”

It seemed to me that nobody much cared. Nobody was nominating the man for canonisation; nobody was asking him to run the country.

This was not the response that Uhlmann was wanting but, as with the wind farms not being the sole cause of the blackouts in South Australia a few years ago, Chris is not the sort of journalist to let the facts get in the way of his story. Suddenly there appeared an opinion piece from Unhlmann: “In despair, I wondered how politics got so bad – then I looked at Twitter” where he laid the blame of all that was ill with the state of politics at the feet of Twitter where Australia “has shattered into gated communities of the mind; a society Balkanised by its bigotries and harnessed by its hatreds.”

One of his main reasons for this conclusion? The way we all turned on Paul Parker after we discovered his political leanings. Which thanks to Uhlmann were broadcast on Twitter by… Oh, Chris Uhlmann.

According to Uhlmann, “When this nugget hit Twitter, it was like watching a train pull into Central Station as most of the mob got off. In the all or nothing era, St Paul can’t be part of what we hope for, he has to be with us on everything. He can’t be blemished by views that trigger delicate sensibilities.”

See, it’s not journalists who are failing to demand standards from politicians by holding them to account and reminding them of their tendency to hold more positions than the Kama Sutra. It’s Twitter!

I had just finished telling a friend that I thought that Uhlmann had managed to outdo Andrew Bolt and was a surefire candidate for lowlife of the week, when I was reminded that one should never underestimate Bolt’s ability to limbo dance under a snake’s belly.

Most of you probably heard about his little chat with Gerard Henderson where he said that the St Kevin’s coach “hit on the boy” and “no sex occurred”. Notwithstanding the fact that “hitting on” people in the workplace is generally not a good idea, there’s a whole offence called grooming which means that people can be charged even if they haven’t actually “hit on” the underage boy or girl.

Andrew wasn’t finished. He followed up by attacking the ABC for their reporting of his remarks. He was outraged that the pubic broadcaster had suggested that he was trivialising the coach’s behaviour and that they had falsely reported that he’d said that “only hit on” when what he’d said was that the coach “hit on the boy and no sex occurred”

Mm, don’t know about you but I infer a suggestion of “only” from that sentence.

Earlier this week I thought Scott Morrison’s anger about GM closing down Holden was sure to be the Political Schrodinger of the week. After all, Joe Hockey practically ran the car industry out of the country and we stopped subsidies in the first year of the Abbott government, but hey, it was the company that let Holden “wither away on their watch”. Yes, that’s right – Scottie didn’t try to blame Labor for that one.

Still, it is strange that Morrison should be angry about a commercial decision. For a start, it’s not like Holdens run on coal and secondly, doesn’t his government believe in letting the market decide. And when the market makes decisions like replacing the Holden Caprice Commcars with BMWs, doesn’t that mean that the company should realise the writing is on the wall and that they owe it to their shareholders not to waste money on something that not even the Federal government will buy?

Yes, it was a very even field, but I think the winner has to be Andrew Bolt.

Altogether now, to the tune of “Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Holden Cars”:

 

Sports rorts, gun clubs, Morrison and leadership,

Pauline, coal mines, climate change and Energy

Indue, Uhlmann, Andrew Bolt and Holden Cars.

 

Yes, we sound pretty Australian.

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The Consistent Narrative Of Barnaby Joyce And Dorothea Mackellar

Perhaps the speed of the 21st Century really has taken away people’s concentration span, but I keep coming back to the same point. While a clever brain can hold two points of view simultaneously while working out an answer, lesser minds usually seek a logical consistency that means they don’t frequently swing from one thing to the other without some attempt at a fig-leaf of an explanation.

You know the sort of thing:

“Yes, I am on record as saying that I don’t support violence in any situation but that guy I just punched must have really deserved it because I’m such a pacifist.” 

OR

“Yes, the economy does seem to be running into some headwinds, so isn’t it lucky that you have me in charge because Labor have showed they couldn’t manage an economy in recession by doing all they could to avoid one when we had the GFC.”

So, I’m having a lot of trouble putting together the narrative of the Barnaby Joyces of this world.

  1. We’ve always had bushfires so it’s nothing to do with climate change. Dorothea Mackellar wrote about “droughts and flooding rains” in her poem over a hundred years ago, so this nothing new.

  2. No, the bushfires are not worse. They’ve been worse in the past.

  3. These bushfires are particularly bad because in the past we had hazard reduction burns but thanks to lots of red-tape like not burning on days when the fire is likely to get out of control, we have a build-up of fuel and without that, we wouldn’t have a problem.

  4. No, it’s not unprecedented. Didn’t you hear me? We’ve had worse in the past.

  5. Yes, it’s because of the fuel. The past fires were easily brought under control because we didn’t have all those greenie restrictions.

And so on…

While it’s possible to mount a strong argument against each point, it because impossible to defeat the moving target. It’s very reminiscent of against the There is no climate change/Of course the climate is changing because it’s changed in the past so it’s nothing to do with emissions.

When it was just climate change and the bushfires, it would be bad enough but the thinking seems to be seeping into other areas too. How else can the PM stand there and say that he has a report; he can’t show it to you because it’s confidential but he can tell you what’s in it? The absurdity of this is the failure of people to call out its absurdity. I wish some journalist would ask Morrison if he’s breached the official secrets act by revealing the contents of a report which can’t be shared!

In the past few years, I’ve made some very accurate predictions like removal of Abbott for Turnbull, and Scott Morrison impersonating Steve Bradbury to beat Dutton. (At this point, I should point out that Bradbury’s Olympic triumph was not solely luck. He concluded that he wasn’t one the fastest three skaters, so his best chance of a medal was to hang back and hope that some of the faster skaters got knocked over. It was a deliberate strategy which relied on others making a mistake, whereas Morrison… Come to think of it, it was exactly the same strategy!)  Anyway, my capacity for prognostication relies on one simple idea: pick the most absurd course of action and imagine it happening.

Which, of course, brings me to Barnaby Joyce. I could predict that he’ll attempt to sell himself as a man who believes in family values so strongly that he started a second family, but that’s not absurd enough for the man who made the Christmas Eve video where he told us that he wanted less government in his life.

No, my prediction is that Barnaby will make another tilt at the Nationals leadership and unless his colleagues decide that they have to make him happy by giving in, Joyce will take the rebels and form a new party, arguing that they’re getting back to their roots by reclaiming “The Country Party” as their name because they’re going to stick up for the little guy in the bush by backing mining, fracking and less government, unless it’s a subsidy to buy non-existent water or a coal-fondling lobby group. “We are no longer ‘Nats’!” Joyce will tell us, but stop short of giving his rebel colleagues the name that the rest of the Coalition will be calling them.

This strange turn of events will embarrass the government in House of Representatives with several votes being lost when Joyce announces that they’ll be abstaining until the government agrees to put a new coal-fired power station in every city and to legislate to restrict the amount of wind and solar which can be allowed into our nation.

Faced with possible humiliation of the floor of the House, Morrison will decide that this is his chance to get rid of the pesky Nats – and others – once and for all. He’ll call an election, content in his conviction that miracles do happen for him on a regular basis. Not only was he made PM, but he was actually elected by voters. Why not a third sign that he is the chosen one?

Content that the sports rorts and the disinformation about Labor’s policies did him no harm last time, he will begin his campaign by telling people that anyone in a marginal electorate will be given ten thousand dollars so they can start their own sporting club providing that they’re not a member at the time of signing, and attacking Labor for their policy of compulsory vasectomies for any male over the age of eighteen. He’ll try to win the female vote by announcing that Labor intend to charge you extra tax based on the number of children you have, presuming – like Tony Abbott did as Minister for Women – that the only thing a woman cares about is having babies.

The Murdoch press will ignore everything that he puts out and back him on the grounds that, as we’ve fallen into recession and the long-awaited surplus hasn’t eventuated, we need a government prepared to make the tough decisions. Various editors will attack Labor for their plans to actually spend some taxpayer money on the taxpayers when it could be better spent by ensuring that newspapers had enough money to continue operating.

Ok, it might not all turn out like I’m suggesting, but given the last few years, would anyone be surprised?

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AFP Finds No Evidence That Malcolm Roberts Exists

Of course, when I say that the Australian Federal Police found no evidence of the existence of Malcolm Roberts, I have to be fair and point out that they didn’t look for any. As with the Angus Taylor case, they saw no need to waste valuable resources when there was very little likelihood of finding any evidence. And there was obviously almost no chance of finding any evidence because they weren’t going to look.

And, as with the Angus Taylor case, the absence of any evidence – apart from a letter containing incorrect information which he signed – doesn’t prove anything one way or the other, so it’s best to keep an open mind and accept that there is a possibility, however, unlikely, that somebody who could be stupid enough after being wrong in their assertion that they didn’t have dual citizenship because they didn’t believe they had it, could turn around and start asserting that large numbers of scientists were wrong on the basis of their personal belief.

Given the unlikelihood of Roberts’ existence, I can’t see why so many people are still talking about him. Surely it’s time to move on and look at some of the other problems facing Australia:

  • After promising to be a “no excuses” government, the Liberals excused Tony Abbott from PM duties and agreed to let Turnbull be the guy as long as he promised not to actually do or say anything about climate change. Now Mal’s gone and Scottwhogotsackedfrommarketing has said a number of times that climate change is real and we need to do something about it as soon as somebody comes up with something that we can do that doesn’t affect anything that we’ve done in the past, change anyone’s work practices or cost money.
  • Frydenberg is suggesting that the balanced Budget that they achieved last year was all they needed to do because the Surplus was “never an end in itself” and now they’ve balanced the Budget that practically counts as the Surplus they promised, so they don’t need to make excuses and they can help out all those in need because of the drought and the bushfires. (Of course, using the logic that a balanced Budget that is close to a Surplus, one could argue that Collingwood won the 2018 Grand Final because the game was balanced and it was only one kick in the end.) In order to help those in need, we may need to take money from the NDIS and crackdown on welfare recipients who don’t understand that the best form of welfare is a job which everyone can get. Look how easy it is for failed Liberal MPs to get work when they lose!
  • To encourage young people to look for apprenticeships in the trade area, PM Morrison engaged Scott Cam as a jobs ambassador. Now, lots of students are interesting in becoming a tradie so they can be paid hundreds of thousands to do nothing. Unfortunate that the jobs ambassador has the name S.Cam.
  • In a “7-30” interview, minor party deputy leader, David Littleproud, argued that people shouldn’t vote Greens because they were a minor party and had no power. His use of the phrase “We cut the cheques” was unfortunate given the only reason that he became deputy was because of all those large cheques that Bridget McKenzie approved. He went on to complain about the “emotional two-word slogan ‘climate change’!” Slogan? Surely all slogans are three words like “Stop the boats” or “meet and beat”. Still, Littleproud did tell us that he wasn’t academically gifted. I don’t know why he felt the need for the word “academically”!
  • Speaking of stopping the boats, the Liberals have a new plan to eliminate them once and for all. By privatising the visa system, instead of paying people smugglers, potential asylum seekers can just pay the preferred tender for a visa and come by plane. Unfortunately, the Liberals declared a donation of $165,000 from a company run by one of the people attempting to win the billion dollar contract. They quickly scrubbed this and explained that the disclosure was a mistake which makes me unsure as to whether it was the disclosure that was the mistake because they were intending to hide it, or the fact that the money was never intended to go to the Liberal Party and that it was just an administrative error. If it was the latter, it does concern me that this is not the sort of thing we want from someone in charge of our borders. To paraphrase John Howard, “We will decide who issues our visas and how much they can charge us, but they get to decide who gets in and the circumstances under which the money gets transferred to hopefully the right account.”

So, it’s little wonder that AFP can’t waste their valuable resources on Angus Taylor when it was simply a matter of fraud and he said sorry and not much damage was done because the document used had such dodgy information that anyone could pick it as unbelievable… except apparently Angus, but how can you expect from a busy minister to check what they’re putting their name to. The AFP need to concentrate on tipping off the media about raids on union offices and not tipping off the media before the raid their houses.

And, of course, their most pressing investigation.

I suspect that one will take even longer than their investigation into Michaelia Cash’s office.

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Report Tells Us That The Sports Grants Were Not Political So Scott Morrison Is Off The Hook!

Let me see if I can explain this in ways that make the IPA happy.

  • Sometimes governments set up bodies and institutions to ensure that they make decisions based on objective criteria so that they’re not influenced by political whims and they make decisions that are fair to everyone.
  • Sometimes there is even legislation giving these bodies powers so that decisions are separated from the potential short-term considerations of politicians.
  • Such bodies are unelected.
  • It’s a democracy so politicians should have the power to over-ride unelected decision-makers.
  • When the government does just that, it would be wrong to suggest that we’re doing so for political reasons. They are obviously just changing the criteria to something that they – as our elected representatives – are happier with.
  • This new criteria is not politically motivated at all.
  • However, exactly what the criteria is remains a secret because if people start understanding the rules, then they may make applications based on the new criteria and then we’d have to hand out more money and then there’d be problems because we need to be frugal or we won’t have a surplus.
  • No, it’s got nothing to do with marginal seats and Bridget McKenzie’s colour-coded spreadsheet was just to ensure that there were an appropriate number of grants given to all electorates evenly and not just going to Liberal and National seats.
  • All the projects were eligible.
  • If you say that you think they weren’t, you’re some sort of sick pervert who wants to see girls changing in cars and behind the sheds.
  • The Auditor-General said one thing, but Scott Morrison got his mate to do another report which is confidential and says that the other report isn’t very good because the Auditor-General is one of those unelected people who can be over-ruled which is what the new report said, and no, you can’t see it because apart from the bit about it all being Bridget McKenzie’s fault it’s confidential.
  • Just to make it clear, these grants weren’t decided on political grounds. The minister looked at the applications and decided who was eligible based on the size of the font in the application and/or whether they used the word, “please”.

There I think that about sums it all up. Bridget’s gone and tomorrow there will be a new National leader.

Of course, by that, I don’t mean to suggest that Barnaby will topple Michael McWotsisname. Neither am I suggesting that there is a third contender that will do a Scott Morrison and is currently doing a ring around to say that they shouldn’t go back to Barnaby but if they stick with the current guy, they’ll be dead meat, so why not give me a go?

No…

Perish the thought of another leadership change.

No, I just mean that another female leader in the form of the Deputy Leader of the Nationals has bitten the dust. But hey, let’s not mention the female thing here, eh? I’m sure that any male in the same position would have resigned.

And I’d just like to back up Scott Morrison and say that she has shown the highest integrity there. She’s maintained extremely high ministerial standards.

Of course, some of you are probably suggesting that standing down because you haven’t done everything perfectly isn’t really showing high standards and that you’d be better off by not breaching the standards in the first place. However, I do understand what Morrison means: Everyone is breaching the rules, but unlike the rest of his front bench she’d decided to stand down now that she’s been told to, unlike a couple of them who have simply told him to get stuffed.

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Scott Morrison Dazzles At The National Press Club…

As a teacher, I’m aware that most kids tell the truth most of the time. It occasionally stuns students when I believe them without demanding proof. “How do you know he’s not lying,” someone will occasionally ask. The answer, even though I never tell them, is quite simple. Liars invariably give themselves away with a little smirk which says more clearly than words, “That stupid teacher bought it when I said that I was late because I was helping Mr Smedley pack up the chairs.”

Of course, if you ask the student to go and get a note from Mr Smedley, he or she will, for the first time ever, need to get on with their work and it’s really, really insulting that you should question their honesty.

I don’t know why this occurs to me as I write about Mr Morrison’s dazzling performance at the National Press Club. And, yes, I was smirking as I wrote that.

While much has been written about the PM’s inability to find more than two modes of expression – Shouty McShoutface and the Jerk with the Smirk – I haven’t seen anybody suggest that his behaviour is exactly like that of an adolescent. Smug, when they think they’ve got away with something, and angry when they haven’t. For those of you who’ve never dealt with a teenager, you may be surprised to find that one of their favourite tactics when they’re caught doing something wrong is outrage: “You only caught me because you hate me and you didn’t catch George yesterday, so everything is really your fault and you should apologise!!!”

From yesterday’s performance, which Peta Credlin gave “full marks, we learnt a number of things:

  • The Federal Government doesn’t have the power to do things unless the states ask for help because – apparently – they can’t declare a national emergency unless asked to by the states.
  • Some of the states didn’t ask for help, so why not go to Hawaii?
  • Climate change is real so we should just buy more sunscreen and prepare for hotter times.
  • We need to cut down lots and lots of trees because they’ll just burn so maybe the Commonwealth should have more power to make this happen.
  • We need more gas so maybe the Commonwealth should have more power
  • This government is taking the Auditor-General’s report very seriously, but no rules were broken and guidelines aren’t rules.
  • While the Minister should have the final power to make decisions, it was different when Ros Kelly and any Labor Minister made a decision because they need to follow all guidelines.
  • Even though Senator McKenzie was responsible for the grants, Mr Morrison was able to reject categorically that the colour-coding was about targeting marginally electorates, because he told us: “That’s not why I did it!” which suggests that he was involved in the decision-making process.
  • All of the grants were about female change rooms because Mr Morrison doesn’t want girls changing in the car or behind the sheds.
  • He was late because he was helping Mr Smedley pack up the chairs.

Of course, you’ve probably noticed a recent tactic by our Prime Minister of telling the journalist, “I reject the premise of your question.” Like so many other things with this government, this seems to be acceptable without any sort of scrutiny. While Labor keeps getting asked how much their emissions reduction targets will cost, nobody ever asks the PM how much will it cost to “beat” our targets.

Perhaps, the next interviewer could try something like this:

“Mr Morrison, are you concerned with the lack of urgency with which the Attorney-General is developing his ICAC legislation?”

“Sorry, I reject the premise of your question.”

“Which premise is that?”

“The premise that there’s no urgency. We won’t be rushed into making a poor decision and there’s no need to panic.”

“So you’re saying you’ll take your time and get it right? Well, I reject your definition of urgency.”

“Sorry, but I reject your rejection of our definition of urgency.”

“On what grounds.”

“On the grounds that we are giving this our urgent attention.”

“So what happens with things that aren’t urgent, if the urgent ones miss deadlines.”

“Like I made clear earlier, we won’t be panicked into making poor decisions.”

“Well, I reject the premise of your assumption that you made that clear.”

“Look, the Australian people aren’t interested in a semantic argument. They want us to get this right.”

“I reject your assumption inherent in your premise, because I think that you did promise to have legislation ready by the end of last year and your rejection of my premise suggests that your promise…”

“I am sure that the Australia people are more concerned with things like the strong economy that we’ve created.”

“And which offshore tax haven is that in?”

Speaking of urgency, how long do you think it’ll take for that report on whether Bridget McKenzie breached ministerial standards to reach the PM’s desk? It’s been a week and nothing yet. I mean, it’s not like they need to wait for DNA samples to come back from the lab.

But I guess it’s hard to convince someone to take one for the team when everyone else is playing for themselves.

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Is It Just Me? Amanda Vanstone gets AO in Australia Day Honours!

Ok, I’m sure that there are always people who receive honours and you ask how on earth did they get the nod, whereas others you can look at say, “Even though I personally find them an odious reptile, I can see that they have done some things that a rather warped person would see as truly great.”

For example, while many of you wouldn’t like Campbell Newman, it’s worth noting that his award was for services to the Queensland Parliament and I can certainly see that. Newman was elected in the biggest landslide in Queensland’s history and then governed so badly that he lost the next election, which most people surely see as a great service to the Parliament and the people of Queensland.

But Bettina Arndt? I mean, really?? Clearly she only got the nod because she’s a woman. After all, plenty of men have been going around justifying their own bad behaviour and nobody ever nominates Chooka for explaining why he and his mates have every right to comment on the way women dress and how it’s their own fault if anything happens to them.

As for Amanda, I’ll leave it, “Is it just me?”, the way she did when commenting on Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s grant to complete her book. That way I can’t be accused of all the implicit dog-whistles…

Oh, that’s right. A metaphoric dog-whistle is meant to be something that only racists can hear. Big fail there, Mandy.

Anyway, given the fact that most people won’t be happy with the current Australia Day Honours for all sorts of reasons… The fact that it’s not being called Invasion Day, for one. Or the fact that nobody even thought of nominating you is another. And, of course, the fact that the list contains all sorts of people who have simply done what they were paid to do and, in some cases, they didn’t even do that well…

Given people’s unhappiness, I thought I’d give you my own list.

  1. Bridget McKenzie an OD (Order of Distraction) for her services in deflecting attention away from the Government’s inability to come up with any sort of sensible response to climate change.
  2. Paul Kennedy OND (Order of Non-Distraction) for interviewing a couple of politicians and actually not allowing them to simply regurgitate their talking points.
  3. Michael McWotsisname (Order of Miraculous Achievement) for rising to role of Deputy PM with no discernible talents or abilities. In spite of being born without a personality, he hasn’t let this stop him and he remains an inspiration to all those ordinary people who refuse to accept their lack of a qualification prevents them from having an opinion on such topics as climate change or monetary policy.
  4. Malcolm Turnbull OI (Order of Irrelevance) for coming out and saying the sort of things that make us feel that he would have made a great PM if only he’d made the long trip with Dorothy and discovered that he could actually have courage without waiting for the Wizard to give it to him.
  5. Twiggy Forrest OO (Order of Obfuscation) for announcing that he was giving $70 million to bushfire relief, only to clarify that $50 million was going into his own charity which will conclude that it’s all the fault of letting trees grow and nothing to do with fossil fuels.
  6. Peter Dutton OOC (Order of Outright Contradiction) for doing what some people would consider lying. Apart from the comment about not listening to the “Twitter crazies” (how does he know they’re crazy if he don’t listen to them?), when asked if he’d ever heard of Matt Kean, Dutton told listeners, “Never!” He then added that he doubted that anyone outside a three kilometre radius of inner Sydney had… Perhaps it was just a lucky guess, but most of us wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the location of someone we’d never heard of.
  7. Anyone keeping up with politics and still being optimistic that good sense will one day triumph petty point scoring should be given an OWWD (Order of Wow, Well Done!) Yes, it’s a hard job but if nobody does it, we’ll all just end up in a foetal position on the floor and that won’t help anyone.

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Taking Politics Out Of Climate Change Research – Twiggy Forrest To The Rescue

The politics of envy has been raising its ugly head again. Some of the poorer sporting clubs who didn’t get grants are complaining about various well-off clubs being given large sums to complete various works. I’m sick of these poor types complaining just because they haven’t got enough money to buy their own politicians.

And, as for Bridget McKenzie and the shooting club, the media are portraying her giving a grant to a club where she was a member, but from what was reported yesterday, that’s inaccurate. She arranged for the grant and then they gifted her a membership. What’s wrong with that? If a person makes a donation and then the politician receiving the donation shows their gratitude by doing a quid pro quo, then that’s corrupt. However, if the politicians were to do something nice upfront – like say, rezoning land or vastly overpaying for a good or service – and then the person shows their gratitude by arranging a trip to Disneyland, then that’s just politics as usual.

Anyway, I’m sure you’re all sick of this storm in a teacup when we’ve got more important things to be concerned about.

I’m, of course, talking about the recent bushfires. Just to recap the main talking points:

  1. The bushfires, while bad, are nothing new because we’ve always had them.
  2. These bushfires are not unprecedented. We’ve had worse.
  3. They should not be politicised by talking about climate change.
  4. They are the result of “greenie” influence and a lack of fuel reduction burns.
  5. They are unprecedented because, in the past, we used to do fuel reduction burning.
  6. They are not the result of climate change because a hotter climate doesn’t cause fires.
  7. Don’t talk about climate change and try to politicise the issue.
  8. Have we mentioned arson?
  9. It’s all the states’ fault for not doing fuel reduction burning because that used to enable the fires to be put out before they’d got out of control.
  10. We’ve always had droughts and fires and floods, so this is nothing new.
  11. Of course, we believe in climate change, but, of course, some people will want more evidence before we do anything like… well, before we do anything.
  12. Who is Matt Kean and why should we listen to someone who’s NSW Environment Minister?

So in spite of the clear signals that Scott Morrison is considering that he’s prepared to change Coalition policy on climate change as long as it doesn’t involve anything which will affect jobs… In particular, his job. And so long as somebody can guarantee that this action won’t affect the Surplus, coal exports and ensure that his daughters get to ride on a unicorn, then he’s prepared to take it to the party room.

Fortunately, mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest has decided that we need to “take it out of this football field of politics and have peer-reviewed science … and lay it out on the table”. And he intends to do this by raising $500 million so that it can be done properly by scientists working for his foundation.

All of which is rather strange, given that he also told us that fuel loads were the main thing responsible for the fires at the same time as telling us that it needs to be studied.

Now let’s just all take a deep breath here and look at this objectively. Someone who makes their money from mining and has already told us that he knows the main cause of bushfires is setting up a fund to look at “the science” because even though a large majority of scientists acknowledge a link between fossil fuels and climate change, according to Twiggy, “the science is incomplete”, and it’s only by setting up his own foundation that we can get the answers. Only then shall we got proper “peer-reviewed” stuff. You know, letting Lord Monckton check it, because he’s  peer..,

Yep, seems legit. Just like when “HelloWorld” forgot to charge Mathias Cormann and he didn’t notice that he hadn’t paid.

The whole hazard reduction argument is a bit of a sideshow. No, I’m not saying that it mightn’t help someone defend their property if they’ve cleared as much potential fuel as possible. However, I am saying that when you’re looking at fires started by lightning in places that are inaccessible nothing short of cutting down every forest in Australia will make us safe from some fires.

But I guess that might be the plan. Log all the trees and anyone who objects is just one of those difficult greenies whose responsible for the whole thing anyway.

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Scott Morrison Commits His Cabinet To Meeting And Beating Matt Kean

NSW Environment Minister, Matt Kean, recently suggested that some federal Liberals are pushing for more action on reducing emissions and arguing that we shouldn’t be using carryover credits from Kyoto. When Scott Morrison was asked about these comments he told us, “Matt Kean doesn’t know what he’s talking about, he doesn’t know what’s going on in the federal cabinet [and] most of the federal cabinet wouldn’t even know who Matt Kean was.”

Well, I guess that Kean is only a Liberal minister in the relatively unimportant portfolio of “The Environment”, in the relatively unimportant state of “NSW”, so why should any of the cabinet have any idea who he was, so I don’t understand why people are reacting so negatively to Scottie’s frank admission.

I, for one, am hoping that this will be the start of more honesty in politician’s answers.

For example, next time someone is asked about the Sporting Grants scandal, it’d be a refreshing change if, instead of trying to argue that no rules were broken, they simply said, “Look, this whole exercise was an obvious attempt to bribe marginal electorates. You know that, I know that, the general public know that and the people who got the bribes know it… But, they must have been pretty happy because they voted us back in, so we know that simply dangling shiny objects in front of them will be enough to distract them next time, so we may even get away without actually stuffing up our plans for a surplus.”

Next time Scottie gets asked something like, “Does Germany’s decision to quit coal put any extra pressure on Australia to increase its emission reduction efforts?”, he could reply, “Look, Germany can do what it likes, but half of my front bench couldn’t even identify it on a map, let alone tell you the name of any German leader since that one who did such a good job at getting the budget back under control.”

Actually our PM could go on and explain that the only reason he took that lump of coal into Parliament was because it had gone down a treat when he took it into the party room, where most Liberal MPs oohed and aahed and said that they’d always wondered what coal was, and it was really good to see it up close and to discover that it wasn’t dirty at all. He was actually quite surprised to find that many other people had actually seen coal before and, unlike his compadres, knew what it looked like.

Anthony Albanese could also benefit from this new approach too. Instead of playing all cagey when asked about putting a figure on Labor’s emissions reduction targets, he could simply say, “Look, it’d be silly to put a figure on it, but as you seem to want one, how much would you allow before you’d follow up with a question about how much that would cost… I tell you what, Morrison is committing to meet and beat their own targets and we’re prepared to commit to beating what they beat it by plus another one percent. And we’re committed to this costing $10 less than it would be under the Liberals. Are you happy now? Because there’s no way I can possibly know whether any of this is possible so far out from an election and once we’re elected we can just ignore all our commitments like the Liberals do… Budget, in the first year and every other year, my arse!”

Even the interviewers could get in on the act. Instead of repeating the unanswered question, they could simply say, “Minister, clearly you’re not going to ask the question that I just asked so can you just tell me which questions you will answer so we can stop this ridiculous pretense that somehow by repeating the question a couple of times, you’ll forget that you’ve been told to change the subject every time I mention this indefensible behaviour from your party?”

Ok, I guess it should be a matter of concern that if most… let’s remember Slomo did say “most”! Most of the front bench would respond to a text message from Matt Kean proposing a meeting with “Who dis?”

But they lack of knowledge of Matt Kean does make one wonder who else don’t they know.

I mean, did Pauline suddenly change her vote on the Ensuring Integrity For Anyone But Us and Our Friends Bill when one of the Liberal Cabinet members shook her hand and said, “Pauline was it? And which party do you represent?”

Did they ignore the Garnaut report because it was too hard to spell Ross Garnaut’s name? I mean, surely some of them could spell, “R-O-S-S”!

Do they ignore all those reports and Royal Commission recommendations because they don’t know the person who wrote them?

And is that what happened with the recent Auditor General’s report?

“Who’s this Grant Hehir guy?”

“He’s the Auditor-General?”

“Oh, what’s that?”

“It’s a role where they check to see that government money is appropriately and efficiently spent?

“Ah, do we really need someone doing that?”

“Yeah, it’s mandatory. Don’t worry, we’re going to privatise it.”

Now, I don’t want to start any silly rumours here. A high-up Liberal source told me that he was totally unaware of any government plans to privatise the role of auditor general, but then when I asked him what he thought about Scott Morrison’s comment regarding Matt Kean, he did reply:

“Hang on, I’m just trying to place the guy… Just a second, Scott, oh, he’s the PM, isn’t he?”

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Let’s Just Ignore The Bushfires!

This may seem like a strange question but can we afford the cost of fighting the bushfires over the coming months?

I’m just asking it because no interviewer is asking anyone this question. They’re not even asking Labor what they’d be spending on fighting fires if they were in government. Nobody is pointing to all the lost productivity from volunteers taking time off work and asking if we can afford it.

We have fires. They threaten parts of Australia, so we fight them. Nobody says we can’t afford it, because everyone understands that it would cost more not to fight them.

Compare this to climate change. Labor is not allowed to argue, as Bill Shorten tried: “People don’t stop me and ask what is the cost of acting on climate change, people ask what is the cost of not acting on climate change.”

Just imagine if Tony Bourke’s interview on the ABC the other day was about bushfires rather than climate change. The interview would have gone something like this:

ABC: What is Labor’s policy at the moment on bushfires?

BURKE: Our policy has always been that we should act on bushfires. Always.

ABC:Specifically how much are you proposing to spend on prevention and firefighting equipment? Because Bill Shoren took a policy to the election and you lost, so is there a change in policy?

BURKE:  Our next chance to implement Labor policy is in 2.5 years’ time. We can’t wait for that. There is a Government that won the election and they need to act on bushfires now. People are breathing in the impacts of these bushfires.

ABC: Can you put a figure on that then, Mr Burke? What specifically – when it comes to bushfires, are there specific targets in terms of the number you would like the government to commit to fighting?

BURKE: First of all, we’d like Scott Morrison to commit to putting them all out.

ABC: But put a figure on it. What would Labor be prepared to spend to do that?

BURKE: I’m not really in a position to put a figure on it.

ABC: Well, the PM has said the Government’s plan is to meet and beat all the bushfires without upping taxes, losing productivity, spending on equipment and without pulling the rug out from the building industry that will get an enormous boost from all the rebuilding. Can Labor also commit to doing the impossible? And if so, how much would it cost?

Yeah, you’re right. It makes no sense. Of course, nobody disputes that the fires are actually happening and tries to suggest that they’re part of some conspiracy of scientists to get more funding for bushfire science. Nobody argues that we’ve always had fires so there’s nothing we can do about it. (Ok, some people talk of “droughts and flooding rains” and try to suggest that it’s part of the landscape, but nobody suggests that we should do nothing.)

There’s a consensus that the fires are real, they are an actual threat and from there the only arguments are about how best to tackle the ones that are already burning and what to do about reducing future risk. Climate change, on the other hand, is a little bit more complicated. Leaving the deniers to one side – which is probably the best place for them – we still have the problem of the lip-service politician. Just like John Howard of 2007 who “intuitively” didn’t believe the scientists, but knew that telling the public what he really thought was politically dangerous, we have a large number of MPs who tell us that they accept the science when talking generally, but want to ignore it when it comes to talking about specific action. While nobody would say, “I saw you fall off the ladder and I’ve already written a letter asking for an ambulance to be sent as soon as it’s convenient, so you just lie there and medical help should arrive some time in the next week or so!”, we have politicians tell us that they’re fully committed to taking action on climate change, as long as it doesn’t affect anything or anybody.

Of course bushfires are immediate and urgent. Unlike climate change which sneaks up slowly, it’s impossible to argue that now is not the time to talk about them or to suggest that we won’t start fighting them until other countries do something about their own fires.

And, if one tries to mention any possible link between droughts and fires and climate change, why that’s just an attempt to politicise the disaster, which is quite shameful at a time when so many are suffering and the community is all pulling together, and we have ads telling us what a good job the Federal government is doing.

Besides, the Morrison government has all that climate stuff under control. We’re going to “meet and beat” our targets. Yep, we’ll beat our targets… Interestingly, no journalist ever asks, “By how much?”

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Morrison Tells Us It’s Not The Time For Politics

Interviewer: Good morning, First up we have an interview with Smirko the Jerko. Now just to make it clear that you are not Scomo.

Smirko: That s right. There’s a clear difference.

Interviewer: Yes, while one is an artificial creation and only good for the purpose of satire, the other is doing this interview with me. First up, let me ask you about the weather…

Smirko: Yes, isn’t that rain good? You’re welcome, by the way.

Interviewer: You’re welcome?

Smirko: Yes, a direct result of my prompt thoughts and prayers. But about the weather, I think it’d be hasty to try and link this current crisis to the weather. As I’ve gone around offering comfort to my backbench, one of the things that they’ve been most concerned about is the lack of hazard reduction burning…

Interviewer: Which is a result of cuts to budgets and a smaller window of opportunity for burns because of climate change.

Smirko: Look, it’s not the time to get political. Australia is burning and people are losing their homes.

Interviewer: Then why aren’t you accepting much of the help offered by overseas nations?

Smirko: Because we’ve got everything under control here and we need to keep our borders safe.

Interviewer: How can you say that everything’s under control when half of Australia is burning?

Smirko: I think you’ll find that Australia has always had fires and that we’re a resilient lot and we’ll manage to get through this with the true ANZAC spirit.

Interviewer: You mean that battle where Australian soldiers died needlessly trying to attack at a totally inaccessible part of Turkey?

Smirko: Now, I won’t have you attacking the ANZACs.

Interviewer: I wasn’t. I was more referring to their leadership. Which brings me to your holiday…

Smirko: You know the funny thing about that. I actually planned to holiday in Australia, but then at the last minute, back in March, I thought why not give my family a surprise and take them to Hawaii, because I had to go to India and once you’re in the air one country is much the same as another. If it hadn’t been for my trip to India I’d have been in Australia like I always am.

Interviewer: But you went to Fiji with them after the election.

Smirko: And you’re point is?

Interviewer: Well, Fiji isn’t part of Australia.

Smirko: Nobody would argue that it is.

Interviewer: But you just said that you always holiday in Australia.

Smirko: I think we’ve well and truly covered my holiday, and frankly it’s a bit of a non-issue so I don’t think that we should ever speak of it again.

Interviewer: Ok, then let’s move on to the link between climate change and the fires.

Smirko: There is NO link between climate change and the fires.

Interviewer: Surely, the drought has made the country tinder dry and this increased the likelihood of extreme fires.

Smirko: Yes, but I object to you trying to suggest that there’s a direct link.

Interviewer: So you concede that there’s an indirect link?

Smirko: Let’s be quite clear here. For a fire to start you need three things: Fuel, oxygen and something, or someone, to start it.

Interviewer: Are you trying to dog-whistle all those trying to suggest that the fires were started by arsonists?

Smirko: Not at all. I’m trying to suggest that more CO2 in the air would deprive the fires of vital oxygen.

Interviewer: So you have no plans to increase government action on climate change.

Smirko: I’ll repeat what I’ve always said my government will meet its emissions targets and we may even exceed them.

Interviewer: But any more radical action would be blocked by the climate change deniers in your party?

Smirko: I reject that entirely. We have no climate change deniers in our party.

Interviewer: Just recently Craig Kelly did that terrible interview with the British press where he was actually challenged and looked completely silly, and George Christensen was asserting that the fires were nothing to with climate change.

Smirko: Yes, well we are a broad church and unlike some parties, we value everyone’s opinion.

Interviewer: But you just said that there are no climate change deniers in your party.

Smirko: I think we’ve covered this, so we should move on.

Interviewer: Ok, sir, I’m sorry that I attempted to clarify your answer.

Smirko: Yes, you’re behaving as badly as those British journalists who kept interrupting Craig Kelly and ambushing him with a lot of things that contradicted his views.

Interviewer: So, finally, do you have any regrets about your handling of the fire situation?

Smirko: Let me say that obviously, in hindsight, there are things I would have done differently, but nothing that I’m going to specifically admit. Mostly I’d like to blame the states because they were slow to ask for help and the Federal government is prevented from doing things in the states by the constitution unless there’s a national emergency and we didn’t declare this a national emergency so I had to wait for them to ask. Certainly, nobody could have predicted the scale of the fires, unless they were alarmist lefties and we never listen to them. And, of course, I’d have ensured that I had a stunt double while I was in Hawaii so nobody noticed me gone.

Interviewer: What about further action in the future?

Smirko: Well, I certainly intend to consider the possibility of having an inquiry or possibly a Royal Commission to look at what we should do. In fact, I’ll probably consult the Cabinet and we’ll ask ourselves whether a Royal Commission is the way to go or whether we should simply appoint Maurice Newman or Justice Dysen to go away and come up with a report in a few months time that we can put with the report we didn’t look at because it was commissioned under the previous government.

Interviewer; Rudd or Gillard?

Smirko: No., Turnbull.

Interviewer: Thanks, but your time is up.

Smirko: Did Rupert Tell you that?

Interviewer: This has been another interview that didn’t actually happen but is still less absurd than the ones that do. Back to real life.

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Libspill – Does Dutton Have The Numbers?

Let’s be quite clear here: Thanks to a change introduced by Scott Morrison after he assumed the leadership, a two-thirds majority is required to trigger a spill in the Liberal Party. This only applies to leaders who win an election. One presumes that the Dutton supporters who voted for it weren’t expecting that it would apply to Morrison, but there you have it! It would be very, very difficult to force a spill and so Scottie seems to be safe because he’d have to have a clear majority turn against him.

However, remembering that almost nothing in politics is predictable these days, so picking the most unlikely thing and asserting that you’re almost positive that this will happen is a surefire way to seem like a genius. “No, no, Joe Hockey won’t win. Abbott will get up and then almost beat Julia Gillard in the election. Yes, yes, I know that Rudd is popular at the moment, but the polls will turn and then they’ll replace him with Julia, who’ll eventually lose to Tony. This will be followed by Britain leaving the EU, Trump being elected President… Yes, of the USA, and Boris Johnson will complete the trifecta of complete morons. Oh, sorry I forget to mention that Turnbull replaces Abbott and then gets replaced by Morrison… What do you mean I’m completely insane and you’ll give me good odds about any of those things happening?”

So given anything is possible, let’s take a quick look back at the Morrison versus Dutton contest.

Looking at  a list of those MPs who are believed to have voted for Morrison, one sees that there are a number of departures. Julie Bishop, Malcolm Turnbull,  Craig Laundy, Kelly O’Dwyer, Ann Sudmalis and Christopher Pyne all decided not contest the 2019 election. Mitch Fifield and Arthur Sinodinos were moved onto other jobs by Morrison, which may not have been the wisest move. Menzies and various other leaders used to move their rivals on to other roles, but I guess Slowmo didn’t feel that any threat was likely.

On the other side of the ledger, Dutton lost Tony Abbott and Jim Moylan. Moylan was returned to the Senate as a replacement for Arthur Sinodinos. Giving his first appointment was a replacement for Fiona Nash, he may be the only person to serve in two Parliaments while be pretty much unelectable having lost both attempts at winning a place at an election.

Anyway, working on the hypothetical assumption that all votes stayed the same, this would mean that the result of the spill would now be 37 to 39 in Dutton’s favour. Of course, this completely overlooks the fact that there were various new MPs elected and makes it a ridiculous hypothetical but, hey, hasn’t politics been littered with ridiculous analysis in the mainstream media? I mean, why should they have all the fun…

But, ridiculous or not, let’s consider the fact that a number of people only voted for Morrison because they were Turnbull supporters who thought that Dutton shouldn’t be rewarded. Ok, they still might harbour ill-feelings toward the Minister for Dark Arts, but that doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t jump ship once they realise that they’re on The Titanic.

And, of course, there is the possibility that another contender could emerge. While Angus Taylor may be thought to be electorally risky for all the reasons which I can’t list because I don’t have a good lawyer, the Liberals have plenty of ministers with the talent to match Morrison’s skills. Unfortunately, they seem sadly lacking at anyone who might be vaguely competent at anything apart from saying, “It’s Labor’s fault!” or “The Greens did it!” or “I had a dream about coal last night, and it loved me back…”

So will Christian Porter get to carry the party into the next election? Can Josh manage to make another video where he walks AND talks at the same time? Will Spud the Dud win by having ASIO detain all his opponents?

Yes, I know there’s the matter of the two thirds majority. But it’s a rather silly safeguard. I mean, if you called for a spill and it was only defeated by slightly over a third, you’d have to think that the leader was on borrowed time. From that point on, the question would be not can he hang on, but rather, “Do we have to go with the idiot who called the spill or do we actually have someone that the electorate’s never heard of so we can pretend we’re a whole new government?”

No, this is all just silly and I am sure that there won’t be a spill and that Morrison is safe. Given the past ten years, that means it’s 100% certain he won’t last the summer.

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Some Of Us Owe Scott Morrison A Big Apology!

Some people will be surprised that I’m suggesting that we owe our PM an apology, but anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a fair man. And anyone who doesn’t think that I’m a fair man obviously doesn’t know me…

Yes, there are certain things that our PM has done recently that I’ve criticised:

  • Tweeting about how good the summer would be thanks to the cricket, while the bushfires were raging
  • Going on holiday in the midst of a crisis
  • Coming back
  • Having his office lie about his whereabouts
  • Shaking people’s hand against their will
  • Suggesting that the firies didn’t need any compensation, changing his mind, then telling us that they’d been working on it for a while
  • Making the compensation harder to get than a subsidy to start a coal mine
  • Telling people that Kangaroo Island still had two thirds not burnt so it was open for business.
  • Saying that it was good that nobody on Kangaroo Island had died only to be corrected by someone who pointed out that two people had
  • Implying that bushfires were all the fault of arsonists.
  • Calling arsonists “Un-Australian”. (What nationality promotes arson. Is it an English thing? A Canadian thing? A Greek custom? An Italian habit?)

But I’ve taken a step back over recent days and had a good long think about our PM.

When in New Zealand, he left his job as director of the Office of Tourism and Sport with a year to run on his contract for reasons unspecified. He was sacked from Tourism Australia, and not just because of the appalling “Where the bloody hell are you?” campaign.

After failing to gain preselection, losing to Michael Towke 82 votes to 8, he managed to become the candidate, after Towke was disendorsed by the NSW executive of the Liberal Party after allegations of branch stacking against Towke. These allegations were later proven to be false and “The Daily Telegraph” settled a defamation case for an undisclosed amount.

Once in Parliament, Morrison quickly became noticed. One of the highlights of his career was when he complained about the Gillard government paying for relatives of the Christmas Island boat tragedy to attend the funerals. This early demonstration of his empathetic nature was something that made him a natural for advancement in the Abbott Ministry.

As Immigration Minister in the Abbott government, he introduced weekly briefings where he would tell the media nothing about boat arrivals or turnbacks because such things were a matter of “security”. When the media said that there was no point in having a weekly meeting where all that was said was that nothing could be said, Morrison quickly agreed and stopped the meetings altogether.

When the Australian Human Rights Commission issued a report in 2014 which asserted that Morrison failed in his responsibility to act in the best interests of children in detention, the Liberals suggested that the report was poorly timed because they were in power and it should have been critical of Labor who couldn’t retaliate by appointing Tim Wilson to the Human Rights Commission.

Morrison moved from Immigration to Social Services where he found that his strategy of locking up people and refusing to comment was a little trickier to implement. He announced that he didn’t want to take a combative approach to the portfolio, so if people would just agree with him that would make it a lot easier.

It was as Treasurer that Scott could really shine. Treasurers use lots of words like “fiscal”, “macroeconomic policy”, “market efficiency”, “superannuation” and various other phrases that even when understood, tend to make the listener drift off into a semi-hypnotic state where they conclude: “This guy is so boring, he really must know something about how to handle money.” (Ok, I did note the use of the male pronoun. I was going to change it to something more generic, but then I realised that Australia doesn’t have female Treasurers…)

Morrison had a natural advantage in that he was boring even before he was made Treasurer. Once he was made leader after Dutton’s aborted coup, Morrison managed to keep people in their semi-hypnotic state throughout the election campaign by talking about such things as curries and a fair go. Somehow he managed to have various people think that they were back in the fifties and it was a bonza country, but he was just a little bit alternative because he embraced these curry things, while Jen could whip up a mean salad.

All of which brings me to the apology…

Given his total and absolute inability to demonstrate empathy or competence in any job he’d ever held, and his ascent has only been through bastardry and nastiness, why on earth would we expect any better once he became our PM. Really, it’s our fault for electing him to a position far beyond his capabilities. He’s possibly doing the best that he can.

And so, on behalf of the Australian people, I’d just like to say, “Sorry, Scottie. We’ve expected far too much of you.”

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Scottie And The Miracle Of The Simultaneous!

One of the things about climate change deniers that’s always amazed me is their capacity to hold two contradictory positions simultaneously. You know the sort of thing I mean. After asserting for several minutes that the climate isn’t changing, that they can suddenly point to a cherry-picked set of figures and argue that not only is it getting cooler, but that climate has always changed and therefore it’s got nothing to do with mankind.

By itself, that would be contradictory enough, but then they will often move on and question the qualifications of someone like David Suzuki, Tim Flannery or Greta Thunberg because they’re “not experts” and have no “qualifications”. They know this because Alan and Andrew have told them. And what do you mean, they’re not experts either. Everyone has a right to an opinion and you are stifling my freedom of speech exactly like my teacher did when they said that I couldn’t call the other students certain names. It’s only because my teachers insisted that there was only one right answer that meant that I failed all my exams and why shouldn’t I be allowed to question whether A squared plus B squared really does equal C squared by writing any number I chose in the answer?

Now, you can expend a lot of hot air arguing with them, but that probably just helps contribute to the growth of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere so the best thing to do is quietly walk away… unless you can convince them that putting an “X” beside all the candidates they don’t like in the next election is a perfectly valid way to vote.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the miracle of the simultaneous lately as I read the comments on social media. Apparently we’ve always had bushfires so this is nothing out of the ordinary. At the same time, these fires are unprecedented and caused by what Prue MacSween called “greenie infiltrators” on councils who have someone prevented fuel reduction burning. Some people even go further and suggest that these are being started by arsonists belonging to Extension Rebellion in order to convince us about the need for climate change. Which, of course, brings up the further contradiction that these protestors were meant to be “inner-city types” who never venture outside their trendy cafes and are too lazy to do any proper work. But if we’ve always had fires, how is it suddenly only because of arsonists or the lack of fuel reduction burning.

Say what you like about Scott Morrison, the man is always thinking ahead as to how to turn a situation to his advantage. He’s gone to see John Howard, so I’m expecting them to trot old Johnny out so that he can do the empathy thing and Scott can stand around behind him hoping that his smirk seems like a smile of approval. That should free him from any more criticism about forced handshakes. Howard was occasionally good at the consoling thing and, if the sight of boats arriving with people from fires zones doesn’t make him slip up and instinctively say something like, “Children overboard!” then that should take the pressure of Morrison to look like he actually cares.

This will free up Morrison to do what he does best and make more Liberal Party ads. He’s just made one about the deployment of troops to help with the bushfires…

We know it’s a Liberal Pary ad and not a government announcement because it says “Authorised by S,Morrison, Liberal Party” at the end, and not “Australian Government”.  This ad has attracted a lot of criticism because some didn’t think that up-beat elevator music was the best backdrop. It’s attracted criticism from others because it seems to suggest that the only thing that matters to the government is its own image. The second criticism is unfair because people keep asking for truth in advertising so they shouldn’t complain when they get it.

So what will the next one be about?

Well, he did tell us that the most frequently raised issue with him by communities was lightening fuel loads…

Now, I’m not suggesting that this wouldn’t be an issue to some people. However, I do wonder that there weren’t many other issues that people would have been more likely to raise. For example, the funding of aircraft to fight the fires, the slowness in getting support to some of the victims, climate change, what’s happening about all the people who have lost their houses, his trip to Hawaii… the list goes on. Let’s take our PM at his word, and presume that this is the number one issue. Which is lucky for Scottie because, as he told us, these issues are overseen entirely by state and local governments, so nothing to do with him.

In spite of this being a state responsibility, it now needs a nationally coordinated approach.  Scottie already has the answer: more land-clearing and controlled burn-offs.

I must say that I am pleased to see the word “controlled” in there. Various people have been complaining that there were all these restrictions that stopped people doing burn-offs on their property. While I’m sure nobody meant something like days of “Total Fire-ban”, the idea that anyone can just decide to burn at any time doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

However, I suspect it’s the “more land-clearing” that we’re going to see in the next ad from Scottie from Marketing and we’ll see something like:

“These National Parks are a national asset and a national liability.”

SHOT OF FIRES BURNING THEM.

“Let’s liquefy the asset before fire takes it.”

SHOTS OF LOGGERS.

“There’ll always be those who seek to wreck”

SHOTS OF PROTESTORS

“But let’s build our future together.”

SHOTS OF ANZACS SUPERIMPOSED OVER AN AUSTRALIAN FLAG. 

Yes, you heard it here first. Ah, the Coalition Government… Satire one day; Policy the next!

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Scottie And The Art Of Shaking Hands!

When a worker refused to shake Bill Shorten’s hand in the election campaign, it made headlines. Bill should take a leaf out of Scott Morrison’s book who knows better than to let someone get away with that.

Here we see a woman reluctant to shake his hand.

Knowing that a photo can be paused anywhere, Scomo, using his famous “space invader” tactic, shows Bill how it should be done. Rather than being left hanging, he does something he hasn’t been able to do for much of his Prime Ministership: he takes his hand out of his pocket. He then uses it to grasp her wrist.

With a firm grasp on her arm, he manages to force her hand into his where he gives it a hearty, Mark Lathamesque pump, before walking off when she asks for more funding for the RFS.

At this point, I should issue the warning that this is only an approach that I would recommend to politicians. Don’t, for example, think that you can use the same approach if a person doesn’t want to kiss you at the Christmas office party, as political correctness gone mad demands that you obtain consent from people before manhandling them.

Just in case, you think there was something sexist in his approach, our Prime Marketer also showed the value of his empathy training by approaching a resting firefighter. Unlike most Liberal politicians, he didn’t ask him why he was resting. Instead he offered his hand.

This time, when it became clear that the man was just going to look disdainfully at the hand, Scottie adopted the switch approach, by quickly turning his hand and grabbing the fellow’s left hand as though this was some secret handshake between trusted colleagues.

Later, Morrison further showed the value of his empathy training by explaining that he didn’t take it personally and he understand that these people were just upset that they wouldn’t be able to make it to the cricket.

He went on to say, “There’s been a lot of noise and issues that people have sought to raise about these fires.”*

Noise? Don’t people realise that he only listens to the quiet Australians? You know, the ones who are saying anything…

*Actual quote. Not satire. 

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