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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.

Mathias Cormann Says Hello, World!

Now let me emphasise that there is a comma in between the “Hello” and the “World”!

I wish to emphasise this so that nobody gets confused and thinks that I’m making any reference to that time that the Liberal donor and Helloworld booking agent, Andrew Burnes. Now when I call him a booking agent, that wasn’t his only role. He also ran the company and was the one who complained to Mathias about the tender process for the awarding of a government contract before ultimately gaining the contract. I’m not sure if that was when Cormann said, “Oh, by the way, could you book a Singapore holiday for my family at the full commercial rate because I’m a busy man and it’s easier while I’ve got you on the phone to ask you to do it because you’ve obviously got less to do than any of my staff who I’d normally get to make travel arrangements on my behalf.”

However, that was a mistake on then-Senator Cormann’s behalf, because Mr Burnes was so busy that, while he had time to book a Singapore holiday for the whole Cormann family for the full commercial price of $2780, he was too busy to remember to invoice Mr Cormann for the amount and Mr Cormann was too busy to notice that no money had been deducted from his account nor had any bill arrived. Both parties failed to notice until somehow Fairfax media noticed, at which time, both Mr Burnes and Mr Cormann said, “What an oversight. We both certainly hope that the company hasn’t forgotten to charge the government for their government contract…”  And to be fair to Mathias, who hasn’t failed to notice when they aren’t charged the odd couple of thousand for a holiday?

Anyway, I’m just pointing out that when I wrote, “Mathias Cormann says Hello, World” it has nothing to do with that whole saga of a finance minister failing to keep track of his personal finances which is surely none of our concern and we should only be worried when he fails to keep track of government finances. Thanks to the watchful eyes of the Liberal Party, Australia’s debt hardly did any more than double in the time he was Finance Minister… Unless you want to count the last Budget which one shouldn’t because that’s nothing to do with the government as it’s bad news.

No, this is about ex-Senator Cormann demonstrating his environmental credentials by helping avoid the spread of Covid-19 and taking a private jet everywhere. Of course, when I say “private”, I actually mean “public” but that would be confusing because it would make it sound like he was using commercial flights and that would be like taking public transport and we can’t have someone who used to be an important figure in the government being forced to wait in line for a flight.

Now some people have asked why he can’t just use the internet and go on Zoom like nearly every worker has been forced to do in the past year. Let me just remind you that he’s going for a very, very important job and we can’t risk the NBN failing to work in the middle of a call. No, he has to go to each city and do the Zoom meeting from there.

The same whingers are also pointing out that there are Australians wanting to return home and the government isn’t putting RAAF jets at their disposal. However, this overlooks the fact that we’d need to house the returning Australians in hotels and the states aren’t making enough positions available. Even though the Federal Government has made a very generous offer and told the states that they have a number of ex-SAS officers prepared to look after hotel quarantine in ways that ensure that any positive cases won’t escape into the community, the states just aren’t helping.

No, some people just don’t understand that were Mr Cormann to be the successful candidate that would be a real feather in the cap for all Australians and people around the world would sit up and take notice because who can’t name all the Secretary-Generals of the OECD for the past twenty years?

And surely, given it’s such a high-paying position, private citizen Cormann would feel an obligation to repay the taxpayer for the use of the jet, and make available all those frequent flyer miles he must have accumulated from his trips to any of the poor souls trying to make it home for Christmas.

Or perhaps he could just avoid controversy by actually paying the bill for his travel this time!

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Beggars, Choosers And Tim Wilson!

Outside the supermarket last week, there was a man sitting with a sign asking for help to get accommodation for the night. His upturned hat contained some coins, so I decided to go and ask him if he could spare a few.

“What?” he said, betraying a distinct lack of manners, when everybody knows that “I beg your pardon,” is much politer.

“I have a mortgage,” I explained, “and you clearly aren’t in any debt whatsoever, so clearly your financial position is much sounder than mine. I just wondered, as you have a positive financial position, whether you’d like to help me out!”

Ok, ok, I didn’t really do that, but it did occur to me that he didn’t have a large mortgage and if I were a government and he were a taxpayer, then certain media outlets would be more concerned about my debt than his homelessness. Actually, when I think about there are dozens more stories about government debt than homelessness. Why is that?

Well, I suppose the obvious point is that government debt is everybody’s problem while homelessness is only a problem for that individual. Or that family. Or the person who owns the shop where he blocks the door by sleeping in front of it. Or the people who feel that he’s cluttering up the streets. Or the cost if he develops a problem that causes him to be hospitalised. Or…

Actually, it’s more than an individual problem when I think about it. Whatever, the main point remains: Being free of debt is not necessarily a great financial position to be in.

When the Victorian Government brought down its budget, there was a lot of talk about the “extravagant” big spend and – even though the amount being borrowed is considerably less than the Federal government – much concern about the level of debt being incurred.

Now let’s agree to look at this objectively and not through any tribal position. While too much debt is potentially bad, a lack of debt doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing well. And in the case of governments, urgency in paying back the debt may simply be a desire to look good for no worthwhile reason. To illustrate this, I’m inviting you to the country where I’m government and you’re the taxpayer.

Governor Rossleigh has taken on a debt which works out to be equivalent of $50,000 per taxpayer. I could simply service in the interest and pay it off over fifty years which would mean that it was costing each taxpayer the interest plus one thousand a year. However, I’ve decided to pay it off quickly. I cut services, putting some of you out of work. I also raise taxes placing a great burden on the remaining taxpayers but, hey, that’s not my problem and isn’t it better that your government is free of debt so your grandchildren don’t have to pay off government debt..

And, if I raise taxes enough and stifle demand and kill off certain industries, your grandchildren may not even have to pay off your personal debt because – like the man outside the supermarket – you may not have a debt at all. Ok, you don’t have a home either, but Tim Wilson has the solution to that.

Timmy has this great idea that if we stop putting money into super we’ll all be able to own a house. Actually, I don’t know if that is his real belief, because I don’t know if he’s a liar or just stupid. Not that the two things are mutually exclusive. Whatever his actual belief, it’s what he suggests will happen if we don’t increase compulsory super from 9.5% to 12%. There’s just a couple of flaws in his argument. And, by a couple, I mean enough to bullet point them.

  • There’s no certainty that if that extra money wasn’t mandated to go into superannuation it would find its way into workers’ pockets in the form of pay rises. It’s possible but just because employers can now theoretically afford it, doesn’t mean they’ll  necessarily do it. After all, historically I can’t remember an occasion when an employer body argued that they’re doing so well that workers can have an increase.
  • Even if the whole amount was turned into a pay rise, then after tax, someone on $100,000 a year would only get an increase of $1750 a year. While everything helps, it’s certainly not going make the difference between buying in the outer suburbs and the North Shore.
  • Most people don’t earn $100,000 so they’re getting even less than the amount I just used in the above example.
  • Of course, once everybody has the extra money from their super, then they’ll get a bigger deposit and they’ll be able to spend more and house prices will go up meaning that in no time at all people will need an even bigger deposit.
  • And finally, not only will cutting the increase not help the homeless guy outside the supermarket, it won’t be much help to people whose income is too low to afford a house.

Yes, I’ve noticed over the years that the Liberals often have excellent solutions to problems that would be the perfect answer except for the fact that there’s no explanation about the steps to get to the actual solution. In much the same way that we were told that the answer to unemployment was to create jobs and growth, Joe Hockey told people that the way to buy a house was to get a better job, and that the best form of welfare was a job, we now have Timmy Wilson telling us that it’s better to buy a house than to increase your superannuation. Of course, how people on lower incomes manage to buy a house when  they’re getting enough for an extra cup of coffee, well, that’s not really addressed.

I’ll concede that you’re almost certainly better off owning your home than renting once you hit retirement, but only if Mr Wilson will acknowledge that you’re also better off having a share portfolio, a million dollars worth of superannuation and a private jet. Answers to economic problems are always simple; the difficulty is how we actually create the circumstances where the answer is possible.

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November 3rd, 2120: Happy Donald Trump Day

“Good morning, children, and happy 100th anniversary of Donald Trump Day to you all. Today is the day when we pause in our daily work and remember the great man and how he changed America forever.

“As the older children all know, back before Emperor Trump assumed the throne, there used to be what was called elections. These primitive ways of selecting the government were based on the idea that all people should have input into the running of the country. Naturally, this was an incredible waste of manpower when it came to counting the votes, but people actually had to take time off to go to what were called “polling stations” where they would vote. And, even though all of them were less intelligent than the Great Leader, some still spent hours listening to what was called the NEWS. A few even wasted time reading about the decisions that the government would make.

“Obviously this was a very poor way of selecting who was best to govern. For a start, most people were below average intelligence so this meant that the winner was someone who appealed to the less intelligent. Then there was the problem that the elite only received the same voting power as the ordinary citizen.

“The election of 2020 demonstrated this point clearly. While Emperor Trump received all the votes of the intelligent people, he was still behind when the votes were all tallied up because, in those days, the votes of those wishing to vote against him were actually counted.

“At first Trump tried to point out that there were discrepancies in the voting, like the fact that one person was prepared to come forward and sign an affidavit that he had heard people talk about how someone’s uncle had actually witnessed people changing ballots from blank to Joe Biden. When a court threw this out after it was eventually investigated and discovered that this was just the person exercising their right to vote on their own ballot paper, the Trump team was forced to return to its basic principle that anyone who didn’t vote for him was clearly part of the socialist mob that wished to change the United States through voting for someone else.

“It became clear that the courts were going to be no help when even his appointees suggested that they had an obligation to uphold the law and not simply follow the whims of the President, so in between the sixteenth and seventeenth holes, Trump was forced to make what we now know as the Mar-a-Lago Doctrine which upholds the ideal upon which this country was re-founded.

“To quote it in full: 

I’m a really great president. Nobody does presidenting like me, except maybe Abraham Lincoln and he’s dead, so that makes me the best but these Democrats want to take that away by insisting that all votes count when we all know that this country was founded on the principles of no taxation for the very rich and only they deserve representation and obviously only the votes for the best candidate should count because I can’t see why all the people who didn’t vote for me aren’t in jail because they clearly don’t support law and order and you know how we were going to make the country great and lock Hillary up, well, clearly they want to stop that and so the best way to prevent them is with an executive order which makes it illegal to vote for anyone else but me. So if they’ve voted for Sleepy Joe then that means they’ve committed a felony and we all agree that felons shouldn’t get the vote. Henceforth, every four years we’ll have a day where people can go into the polling booth and exercise their democratic right to endorse the really, really good government and if they don’t want to do that well… they can still vote for the other person but they should realise that their vote won’t be counted.”

“Once Trump issued the decree that only votes for him would count, some were too foolish to accept the result and many of the Fake News Media started to make up stories about everyone’s vote counting, as though this had ever been more than an experiment gone wrong.

“When the media was put under the control of the White House to prevent Fake News from spreading, a number of people took to the streets deliberately causing chaos. In a magnanimous gesture, the Great One forgave them and told them that if they returned to their houses, they would not be shot in the streets. And true to his word, he waited till they had returned to their houses before sending his militias to kill them all in the comfort of their own homes. After that, people were generally more appreciative and very few people tried to argue.

“So ever since that day, Americans have been spared the difficulty of making choices and what they do is dictated to them by someone who knows much better than the elites who tried to take away people’s rights to be homeless and to force us to have affordable healthcare so that even those without money could defy Darwin and God’s decree that only the fittest should survive.

“Later today, President Trump will once again have to appear on the screen to show that he has not died as the fake news insist. He is a happy 174-year-old who hasn’t changed a bit in the past ninety years as you’ll see by his appearance at his yearly news conference. So, have a happy Trump Day and after this brief pause, you can all get back to work.

“Hail, Emperor Donald.”

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Everyone Has The Right To A Private Life Unless It’s In Public…

There are often competing rights in any civilised society. Clive Palmer’s right to go skinny-dipping at a public beach needs to be balanced by other people’s right not to be put off sex for the foreseeable future.

And so, while it’s perfectly reasonable to argue that people have the right to keep their private life to themselves, this sometimes can run the risk of keeping some things out of the public eye that should be examined. In order to explain this further, I’m going to talk about someone’s sex life and then I’m going to deliberately leave sex out altogether.

First up, let’s use the example of Fred. If we imagine that Fred can only become sexually aroused when he’s in private and watching highlights of John Howard’s speeches, then, while we have a clear picture of someone who has what most people would regard as a serious issue, Fred’s private life is something that doesn’t impact on others, unless he chooses to share it with them, thereby not only violating their rights but giving them a case under the UN prohibition on cruel and unusual punishments. If Fred keeps it to himself, then it would be totally wrong for me to secretly film him just so I could sabotage him at work, where he’s likely to be promoted because he’s so much better at his job than me. Yes, many of us disapprove of Fred’s private life, some of us are appalled by it and will never see Fred in the same light again, but to give Fred his due, he never wanted it to be made public and it didn’t interfere with his capacity to do his job, so he should be allowed to continue and I should be admonished for trying to use someone’s private life for my greedy, personal reasons.

Now let’s remove sex from the equation altogether which I’m sure you’re all happy to do after my previous paragraphs. Let’s imagine that several companies have put in a tender for a large contract at my place of work and I’m the person who gets to evaluate them for my boss. I look them all over and say – to everyone’s surprise – that a small company just starting out should get the job. After the contracts are all signed, someone asks why I didn’t disclose that the directors of said company happen to be my brother-in-law, an old school friend who owes me money and a woman who was bridesmaid at my wedding. “Yes,” I say, “that’s true, but I didn’t think that my private life was relevant.”

So when we hear that various MPs are bonking their staff…

Whoops, sorry. I forgot that the PM interrupted a woman being asked about whether the culture for women had improved to object to the term. Apparently, the words trivialise what is a very serious thing and so we now have a “bonking ban” ban.

Anyway, when we hear that various MPs are bonking their staff and someone suggests that it’s all right because they’re consenting adults, I can’t help but wonder why some of the people who argue this have been so slow to embrace other activities that consenting adults would like to try. Gay people marrying each other, for example.

The thing is that when there’s a power imbalance there’s an inherent problem. However, that’s not the only thing that worries me. Just as we had the brouhaha with Gladys Berejiklian the other week, if there’s no problem, why is it being kept secret?

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m a private person and I don’t like my private life splashed all over the media… Unless I’m paid $150,000 for the interview like Barnaby Joyce.

Still, there’s something quite strange about the idea that something can be an open secret in Canberra but making it an open secret in the rest of Australia is intruding on that person’s private life… Actually, I’m starting to worry about the oxymoronic nature of the words “open secret”.

I guess what I’m saying is that were I doing something that nobody had a problem with, such as having a drink with a friend, then nobody would be particularly interested and exposing it is in nobody’s interest. However, if that friend happens to be a politician which I’m about to interview about a scandal in their office, it’s surely relevant that we frequently catch up and we’ve been having regular dinners together and so when my first question is: “How do you respond to this ridiculous nonsense that you’re imperfect in any way when you’re clearly so awesome at your job?”, people do have an inkling that my bias my the result of something more than the merits of the story.

And I guess I’m also saying that it’s inevitable that – from time to time – consenting adults working together may form attractions which they act upon. At such a time I think there’s only two ethical things to do: 1. Stop working together 2. Declare it openly so that it’s not a “private matter” and everyone can judge your actions through the understanding that the two of you are more than work colleagues. If you pick the third option of pretending it’s not really there, you can expect that, should it become public, then it’s hard to argue that you had nothing to hide because, if that’s so, why were you hiding it?

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Biden Loses OR Who Needs Votes When You Can Crown Yourself King Donald?

The great advantage of writing satire is that when you tell the truth, nobody believes you. This is fortunate because it means that no secret service people whisk me away to interrogate me about who’s leaking all this top secret stuff.

So when I tell you how the next month is going to play out in the USA, you can sit back and say that’s quite a story and if we believed you for a moment then we’d be very scared but as if such things could happen in this day and age. After all this is 2020. Then, of course, you’ll go: “Shit!!! It’s 2020, of course it’ll play out like this.”

Let’s start with the fact that Trump is refusing to concede defeat. This is no surprise and people are just moving on and working on the reasonable assumption that eventually he’ll have to face reality and accept the idea that he lost the votes in enough states and that merely winning a court battle in one or two, doesn’t do much because he’s behind in too many. And, let’s not overlook the important point that – even if a court found that there’d be irregularities – this doesn’t prove that they benefitted the Democrats. For all we know, if dead people were actually registered, there’s no proof that they voted for Joe Biden.

Even the more plausible attack that Attorney-General Barr is now mounting has its problems. The latest argument isn’t about voter fraud. It wants to stop Pennsylvania from certifying Biden because there’s a “two track” system which the Trump camp alleges applies a harsher standard of proof on those voting in person, than those voting by mail. Because, they argue, this unconstitutional, then it will go to the Supreme Court and nudge, nudge, we just appointed Amy Bony Carrot and two other judges so we should be set. Ok, in the unlikely event that they chose to disallow all mail voting, they could hardly suggest that it was legitimate to then declare Trump the winner. I mean, if you turn up at a polling station and they handed everyone voting there a pen because they had no pencils, it wouldn’t be regarded as fair when the electoral commission all votes from that polling station because they suddenly decided that only vote in pencils would be counted. You can’t change the rules after you’ve told people that it would be legitimate to vote this way.

However, anyone using such logic overlooks the important point that Trump and his cronies operate off alternative facts. So let’s look at the most recent event through the prism of King Donald’s sense of entitlement.

Trump had just sacked his Defense Secretary, Mark Esper with whom he had clashed over the use of troops to quell protesters. Now, I don’t know the views of the replacement but my best guess is that they won’t be clashing with Donald about anything. So, we now have the potential for the army to be used should riots break out. And I would imagine that a riot could be defined as such things as wearing a T-shirt with the words, “Resign, You Orange Clown!”, or energetic dancing to any non-approved tune.

Of course, the media have recently taken to do something rather unusual. They’ve taken to interrupting Trump campaign press conferences and pointing out that these have no basis in reality. Ok, we’ve probably been arguing for quite a while that it’s about time the media stopped this idea that balance is always ok, and if they’re not balanced, well, that’s okay too because they’re usually private companies and free speech and all that; sometimes there’s an obligation to report the actual truth. Of course this is not as simple as some would like, because sometimes the difference between a fact and an opinion is just someone’s opinion of a fact.

The trouble is that this makes Trump’s narrative that the media is fake news and trying to censor him just that little bit more plausible to anyone already believes that Trump is a good, clean-living man whom God has appointed to stop America’s decay because, while God was happy to let the Greek, Roman, British and every other Empire go by the wayside, the Supreme Being takes a special interest in the United States.

So, we have a little bit of action in the courts which leads to a few protests. Then we have various Trump supporting militias firing the odd shot. Trump announces that we can’t have this chaos on the streets, declares martial law and refuses to let the Electoral College vote on the grounds that there has been no decision by the Supreme Court. If the Supreme Court has made a decision not to his liking, he declares that it’s corrupt and we need to remove the judges that voted against him.

At this point, we’ll all be waiting to see which way, Rupert jumps. If Fox News actually starts being critical of King Donald, then we may see an attempted takeover of all media by the government.

Yes, yes, it’s all very far-fetched and nothing like that will happen…

But, like I said, it is 2020 so would you be prepared to bet against anything?

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Trump Loses OR The Devil Went Down To Georgia!

The media are reporting that anti-Trump protesters are outnumbering pro-Trump protesters at various places throughout the USA. This is being disputed by the Trump camp who argue that only protesters who’d been there since Election Day should be counted.

Of course, it’s not just this that some Trump supporters dispute. Apart from not believing in the idea that carbon dioxide could be harmful because it’s a natural gas while simultaneously believing that it’ll poison you when you wear a mask, they also refuse to believe that Democrat voters are capable of mailing their votes. “Don’t vote by mail,” says Trump. “We won’t!’ say his supporters. “Hey,” says Trump, “the mail-in votes are favouring the Democrats. This must be fraudulent.”

Yes, apparently there’s been widespread fraud in the US election. I know this because President Trump told us that there was. And he announced the fraud very early on. He announced on the night of the election. In fact, he announced it several months ago.

When one of his supporters was pressed about evidence, they said that they had  sworn affidavits from people. The example they gave was that someone was aware that  a dead person had registered to vote six days after their death and they had definitely voted.

Two things struck me about this immediately. For a start, how did they know to check that particular dead person and secondly, what was the evidence that this vote was for Joe Biden? Ok, maybe if you asked the person who signed the affidavit, he or she could tell you that they definitely voted for Biden.

However, with all the talk about Georgia I remembered that old Charlie Daniels song:

The devil went down to Georgia
He was lookin’ for a soul to steal
He was in a bind
‘Cause he was way behind
And he was willin’ to make a deal”

Revisiting the song and looking at the lyrics gave me a fresh understanding of American exceptionalism and Donald Trump. The basic storyline is that the devil bets a fiddle of gold against a young boy’s soul that he’s a better fiddle player. The boy takes the bet, channelling Trump with the lines:

The boy said, “my name’s Johnny
And it might be a sin
But I’ll take your bet, you’re gonna regret
‘Cause I’m the best there’s ever been.

So the devil plays, and he’s pretty good, but Johnny outdoes him, wins the fiddle of gold and sends the devil on his way with:

“Devil, just come on back
If you ever wanna try again

I done told you once you son of a bitch
I’m the best that’s ever been.”

Now, this is particularly interesting from the point of view of the way most cautionary tales work. Basically, you shouldn’t take a bet with anyone, let alone the devil. Secondly, hubris usually brings people undone. However, in this story, Johnny not only sins, but he wins and is given the fiddle of gold.

Ok, I’m not about to give you a Sunday morning sermon on the dangers of fiddle-playing, but it is interesting to reflect on the Trump presidency through the eyes of this song. Rather than being punished, hubris is rewarded. Similarly, Trump’s supporters had no problem with Donald and his “Nobody knows more about construction//basis/technology/infrastructure/ISIS/the environment/women/Facebook than me”!

Donald had his fiddle of gold, so he must have been better than the devil and he was better than the devil then he must have been good and if he was good, then we should vote for him even if he uses words like “son of a bitch”!

Still politics is a funny business. I was listening to question time a couple of weeks ago and, when our own answer to Trump, Scott the Chicken Coop Builder, went to the microphone, he launched into an attack on Labor and heaped praise upon his own government and how great they were and how lucky everybody was that the Liberals were managing the economy because Labor would have mucked it all up.

Now I could ask the obvious and ask how much worse could things be than massive debt, the biggest deficit ever, high unemployment and no long term plan for jobs apart from we’d like more of them, however, what struck me was how absurd such behaviour would be in any other workplace.

Imagine that Scotty is working in almost any other workplace and he was asked to do a report on his area of responsibility and his plans for the next financial year.

“Thanks boss, for the question. I take this opportunity to remind everybody how well I’ve done since I was given the job and how great the company’s bottom line is. It’s only twelve months ago that I beat a group of applicants for the job and, I think that we can all say, how good that is. Imagine if someone else had the job what a mess we’d be in. It’s only thanks to my expert management that we’ll do an even better job next year and let’s just think back to when someone else last had the job and how glad we all were that I got the job and what a great sigh of relief we had. If it wasn’t for the couple of things that we didn’t plan for, this would have been the best year in the history of the company.”

Yeah, I can’t picture Scotty lasting too long in any other job…

Oh, that’s right.

He didn’t!

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In The Interests Of Balance Will The ABC Have To Start Pushing For A Pro-Corruption Body?

I’m concerned that so few people understand how politics works in this country.

For example, various people were complaining about Greg Sheridan’s appearance on QandA last night and asking why the ABC feel the need to call on him so regularly. It’s very simple. The ABC’s charter requires balance so, if they’re going to have rational guests who understand what’s going on and say intelligent things, then they’re required to balance that by having Sheridan.

Similarly, calls for a federal anti-corruption body have to be balanced by interviews with people such as Angus Taylor, Barnaby Joyce, Stuart… Well, actually just about any government front bencher.

As for the proposed anti-corruption body itself, complaints about it being a toothless tiger are all wrong. Even without teeth, a tiger could rip you to shreds with its claws while this body will only be allowed to pursue corruption under the following circumstances:

  • The corruption is so evident that somebody else has already noticed it and referred it to the appropriate body, which means that the new body has no need to double up on the investigation.
  • The corruption is a “serious” crime. Not something like drink driving… which as we saw with the Peta Credlin case if you know the Attorney-General then you can get off with no fine, no conviction and no requirement that you pretend that you’ve even done the wrong thing.
  • It is someone on the left side of politics.
  • Alan Jones thinks that they should be investigated.

Of course, there are some safeguards to ensure that people don’t have they’re reputations besmirched by an unelected body which isn’t accountable to anyone. For a start, you can only be investigated if it’s clear that you’ve done something wrong. We don’t want innocent people having their name dragged through the mud. And given, everyone is innocent until proven guilty the body will only be allowed to investigate people who’ve already been found guilty by a court of law.

Secondly, so that we don’t have show trials which might be used for political reasons, we’ll have secret accusations with secret trials, which I guess suggests that there’ll be secret findings with secret penalties, but that shouldn’t be a problem because we don’t want people being publicly humiliated just because they’re accused of doing something wrong and that – under the terms of the referral – there’s a strong suspicion of criminal misconduct. As Christian Porter pointed out there have been numerous occasions when people have had their reputations sullied by various state corruption bodies and they hadn’t done anything wrong. Mind you, he didn’t give any actual examples, but it’s enough that he told us that such things had happened and I for one admire that he didn’t drag these people through the mud by talking about their innocence.

Another safeguard is the lack of protection for whistleblowers. This should prevent them from making scandalous accusations. In fact, if a whistleblower has a strong suspicion but no actual evidence, then they’d be best to keep it to themselves rather than bringing to someone’s attention because it could lead to a prosecutable for an unwarranted allegation. This should stop people from interfering into things that don’t concern them such as fraud, bribery and corruption.

The final safeguard seems to be that the Liberals will appoint people to the commission, so there’s a very strong chance that – like Arthur Sinodinos – they’ll have no idea what they’re job is and why they’re being paid, so they’ll be content to do nothing and just take their pay cheque.

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Fear, Clive Palmer And When Exactly Is This Death Tax Coming In?

Listening to the results come in from the Queensland election, I was reminded of the old saying, “When you’re a hammer, everything is a nail.” Or is it, “When you’re a nail, you think everything and everybody is a hammer!”?

Whatever, as the results came in, I couldn’t help but remember the truisms that frame every election night broadcast.

  1. Political commentators are like the proverbial hammer to which everything is a nail. Last night, it seemed that the only reason Ana Palaszczuk had ever closed the border was in order to use fear of Covid-19 to help her win the election. There was no suggestion that maybe, just maybe she’d done it in an attempt to keep the state as free of the virus as possible. I’m waiting for the day that one of them says, “Well, picking such a photogenic wife is such an obvious ploy to get the voters onside and arranging for his mother to have that terminal illness is so transparent that I can’t see how they’d expect to anyone to fall for it.”
  2. It’s easiest to work out what’s happening by not paying attention to anything that the people on screen are saying and ignoring any numbers on the screen. All you have to do is look at the body language of the various people speaking. If someone looks cross and is red in the face, they’ve certainly lost. If they have a smug expression that looks like they’re doing a Scott Morrison impression, they’re doing very well. When the broadcast cuts to a candidate and they’re drowned out by noisy supporters, it rarely matters that everyone’s telling you that this electorate is still too close to call, that person is a winner.
  3. Unsuccessful strategies that you tried are reprehensible and immoral when the other side uses them and wins. For example, Labor last night were apparently running a fear campaign about Covid-19. The Liberals discussion about the economic ruin should Labor be returned was apparently a simple prediction aimed at enlightenment of the unwashed masses. And, of course, the African gangs that were running rampant in Melbourne at the time of the last Victoria election seem to have all stayed at home during lockdown.
  4. What one has predicted is never wrong. It’s just that events intervened in such a way as to make what one was saying just a few days earlier different from what actually happened but that was only because of whatever stopped you being correct. It helps to consider Tuesday’s Melbourne Cup to fully appreciate this: Russian Camelot will certainly win, but if he doesn’t it was only because either the jockey made a terrible error OR some of the other horses finished in front of him. Either way, my prediction is basically sound and it’s only because of that unexpected thing that I wasn’t expecting that some of you are questioning what I said at all.
  5. Some commentators have a knack for spinning events so that they’ll be able to go back to their fundamental world view, whatever the result. While I don’t have the actual David Speers quote from last night it was something along the lines that a win for the LNP would be a great boost to the federal party, but a loss would have no implications because that would be because of the strong performance by Palaszczuk. This is very much like the argument that some have used against Covid-19 lockdowns and border closures: “We’ve only had six cases and two deaths! Why do we need to stop people from areas with much higher numbers coming here?”
  6. And finally, once the narrative has been decided, nobody much questions it. For example, last night the consistent line from the LNP talking heads was that it was still early and postal votes normally favour them, even though the talk was all aboutl how unprecedented this was and how nobody could predict how the record number of early voting and postal votes would go. Later, it was all about Covid-19 and that favours the incumbent government. Why, it was amazing that they’d even managed to hold as many seats as they did. Nobody asked if this meant that Donald Trump was therefore a certainty to be re-elected later this week.

Now that the election is all done and dusted, I’d like to see an interview Clive Palmer where someone asked him the obvious questions.

  • Mr Palmer, you spent a large amount of time and money telling us about Labor’s death tax, but given Labor have been in power for two terms and there’s no Upper House in Queensland, why wouldn’t they have already done so if they wanted one?
  • Mr Palmer, now that Labor has been re-elected, how soon before you expect them to introduce the death tax?
  • When you said that you wanted to create another Titanic, were you referring to your own political party?
  • Clive baby, exactly what did you hope to get for the millions you spent? I mean, I know that Mr Murdoch wastes millions keeping unprofitable newspapers afloat just so he can influence public opinion, but at least every now and then the Liberals can slip him some money to cover sport and pretend that it’s not a bribe, what did you hope to get out of it?
  • Is it true that in an upcoming production of on the life of Henry the Eighth that you’ve financed that Campbell Newman will play the very important part of Henry, while you’ll play the rest of him?

Yes, I know. Clive would simply say that because of his campaign Labor is now too frightened to introduce the tax, that they had a terrific result and that they haven’t given up hope of some seats because the preferences from the informal votes are yet to be distributed and was happy to spend the money for the benefit of Queenslanders.

But we shouldn’t spend too much time on Palmer. After all, like Pauline Hanson, he received such a small percentage of the vote, he wouldn’t be worth talking about were it not for the way that we were encouraged to talk about him before the election. Yes, it seems that money not only buys you advertising, but it also buys you publicity.

Yes, I still remember the days when Clive was the politician we thought most like Trump. The politician who could lie about something even though it was quite clear that what he said was just not true. But now we have a PM who can look at the camera and say that they haven’t cut funding to the ABC and that it’s time to get out from under the doona because this virus can’t be an excuse forever.

Anyway, like David Speers said, this has no federal implications because it was about state issues and the fact that Morrison spent a week campaigning can just be ignored.

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The Recession Is Over So Let’s Thank Josh Frydenberg…

Ok, the recession isn’t really over yet. I’m just getting in early because the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank said something about growth that gave rise to a headline or two about the recession being over.

Of course, I know that some of you are thinking that the country is in such a mess that it’ll take years to get over the recession, but you’re very possibly wrong. I only write very possibly because, while the Liberals have the reputation of being good economic managers, the reality is somewhat different. The Liberals are good economic managers in the same way that the company using child workers in a third world country can argue how much they’re doing for the local economy in that country and how they’ve helped so many avoid homelessness by letting them sleep on the factory floor after they’ve finished their 18-hour shift. In the same way, even though we should be able to get out of this recession more easily than people think, I don’t rule out the possibility that the Coalition may do something that undermines the recovery.

Anyway, the best way to explain is to take a household and use it as a metaphor to explain a recession. A recession occurs when you have two-quarters of negative growth. This is sometimes called “a technical recession” when the person speaking doesn’t want the government to be blamed for the bad economic conditions. For the purposes of this, let’s imagine that a man – who we’ll refer to as Ozzie – has a steady job which enables him to meet all his bills and to pay his rent every week. One night he goes to the Casino and starts playing Blackjack. He loses more in that night and when you add that to his other living expenses he comes out behind, but this isn’t a recession because it’s only one week (or we could say one quarter but that would take too long to get to the point). Convinced he’s learned something he goes to the Casino the next week and loses even more money. This is two weeks of negative growth and we can call it a recession.

Ok, here’s where the metaphor breaks down because in Ozzie’s case it would be easy to end the recession. He merely has to stop going to the Casino… Or get luckier. A real recession relies on convincing people that it’s ok to invest and to start spending, but you get the picture.

Now let’s imagine that Ozzie doesn’t do the sensible thing and decides to keep going to the Casino until he loses so much that he’s evicted and homeless. The good news is that this makes his expenses less and for that week he’ll be earning more than he loses because he’s also lost his wallet and can’t access any money to get to the Casino. So this homeless man with no access to cash is now out of recession… At least for this week. And this is pretty much where Australia is at right now. We’re at such a low point that growth is almost inevitable in the coming months, but that won’t stop the media from talking about what a great achievement it is that we’ve beaten the recession and not only that – against all odds – the Liberals have delivered a surplus ahead of schedule in two years time… just after the election.

Scott and Josh will be given great credit because they’ve done such a great job and we’ll all be encouraged to put them back in because we’re back in black and those mugs weren’t a waste of money because they can be recycled. In Parliament, Scott will reprise his lump of coal effort and announce, “This is gas, don’t be afraid, don’t be scared,” only to have someone from the Opposition try to heckle him with: “Gas? I think it was wind!” Josh will repeat his attempt to blame Dan Andrews for the suicide of the friend of a friend because said friend’s friend committed suicide after losing his job which must have been because of the lockdown and not the recession that we had to have because of Covid-19. This time, however, Josh will point to welfare recipients hit by Robodebt and suggest that it was because of the Victorian lockdown that they couldn’t afford to pay their debts.

Speaking of Dan Andrews, I’d like to offer the following as a description of the way the whole thing has panned out:

“Captain Dan is batting with the other opener when a mix-up occurs and they both end up at the same end. The other batsman is run out and this leads to mini-collapse. Dan continues to bat, while the twelfth man, Michael O’Brien, brings out the drinks and tells him that he should resign because it’s his fault that we’ve lost so many wickets. Andrews replies that he’s still batting and we can look at who’s to blame for the run out after we’ve scored the required runs. O’Brien suggests that we’ll never be able to score the runs and that Andrews should resign. Some of the spectators form a squad which boos every time Andrews or one of the other batsmen scores a run. When it’s suggested that we should all get behind him and try and win, they suggest that it’s his fault we’re in this position. Josh Frydenberg suggests that Andrews insistence to bat on is wrong, and he should declare because everyone should be at the pub. When Andrews hits a century and puts the team in sight of victory, O’Brien suggests that if he was batting he would have got the runs a lot faster…”

Ok, it’s not cricket season yet, and before that, we have to have the Queensland election, the Melbourne Cup and the US election. I predict Labor in Queensland, King of Leongrass or Admire Robson in the Cup and Joe Biden in the US election by a significant margin. If you’re reading this next week, you’ll wonder why I don’t work as a tipster for a living. I don’t mean I’ll be right; I just mean that I’ll be like all the other tipsters and explain that I would have been right if only something else had happened…

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2020: It Doesn’t Exist And I Have Entered A Parallel Universe!

Looking over the events of the last couple of days, I’m trying to decide which one actually tipped the scales to make me realise that I will conclude my reflections on the year with the Deus ex Machina: “And then I woke up and it was all a dream!”

In the recent few days, there’s the Cartier watches; the ABC paying Foxtel so that they can cover women’s soccer after Foxtel was given government money to cover women’s sport; the disappearance of all documents relating to the “grants” in NSW; the realisation that even if Trump is voted out, some people still think that Donald Trump is a reasonable pick for President; the confusion that, four years after Trump’s surprise win, the best the Democrats could come up with was Joe Biden; the media’s presentation of the Melbourne lockdown protests and the fact that many people are tipping Richmond to win the AFL flag by more points than they’re likely to kick for the whole game…

Strangely that last one is the least of my concerns!

Ok, let me take them one at a time:

  1. Cartier watches. Scott Morrison is appalled that Australia Post could reward a handful of executives with the gift of a $3000 watch for achieving a great result. Ok, I’m personally appalled that any watch could cost that much, but it does seem strange that he’s so irate about this when he wasn’t concerned when executives are paid bonuses worth millions when they don’t achieve their goals. Neither was he appalled when he himself granted larger pay rises to the people in his office.
  2. The government gave Foxtel $10,000,0000  to cover women’s sport. Foxtel is now charging the ABC for the rights to broadcast women’s soccer. We can’t know how much because it’s a commercial arrangement, but as I see it we’ve given Murdoch money so that he can create a product which he then charges us for.
  3. Prior to the last NSW state election millions were given out in grants, with 95% of the money going to Coalition electorates. Any documents relating to this have been destroyed and they’ve been deleted from any computer, so it’s all over and there’s nothing to see. It’s all very sad. Berejiklian says that she recently ended her relationship with the documents when she realised how bad they were and that she hasn’t seen them since. However, she adds that was never intimate with these documents and the reason that these documents were destroyed was that she’s a very private person and she didn’t think they were important enough to tell anyone about. She is heartbroken because she thought that one day, she might wed the documents but instead she had to shred the documents!
  4. From the debate I discovered that Trump doesn’t understand that tariffs are paid by the country imposing them (or else he’s hoping that his supporter base is stupid enough to buy that!), he thinks that his inauguration address should include information about why people shouldn’t vote for Joe Biden, and making money is a measure of success unless his opponent does it, in which case it means that he must be crooked. Also anything positive Biden hasn’t achieved in the past 47 years can be held against him, but anything negative, Biden will be able to do immediately on becoming POTUS. Even on the worst polls, 40% of Americans support Donald.
  5. Biden is so old that not even Joe Hockey would argue that he shouldn’t be eligible for the pension. I’m not ageist and I don’t hold it against him, but it does mean that every slip is put down to his age, whereas a younger person could have put it down to fatigue or drugs and alcohol. Surely, surely, the Democrats could have been looking for a bomb-proof candidate from 2016 onwards. The fact that they have one that makes the next candidate for Pope look like the next generation does strike me as odd.
  6. From what I’ve read on social media, today’s protesters weren’t just asking for Dan Andrews resignation because they felt that he was a dictator. No, apparently they think that Covid-19 is a hoax and if you get tested then you’ll have a Bill Gates tracking device shoved up your nose. Ok, I’m combining a couple of their ideas here, but basically they mainly fall into the category of people who refuse to wear a tinfoil hat because they suspect that it’s the CIA’s way of tracking you. Don’t get me wrong, I think we’re always better to be a little suspicious of our governments, but it does strike me that they’re trying to protest racist police horses* and not the fact that Peter Dutton, Scott Morrison and friends are introducing legislation that would make Tim Wilson jump on a plane and join the protest if similar laws were introduced in Hong Kong. This is not actually an exaggeration. Many of the things wouldn’t be out of place in a dictatorship but we’re not noticing because the only protests being reported are the ones by people opposed to Labor governments. Interesting that the current protests of a few hundred get more coverage than the thousands at the March in March ones a few years ago.

So, I’ve covered everything except tomorrow’s AFL game but this is 2020 so I’m not going to make any predictions there. If there’s one thing life has taught me, if you think you know something, you’re very possibly right. If you’re sure you know something, have a long hard look at yourself and be prepared to be proven wrong. You may not be, but it’s a good idea to be prepared…

 *The bit about racist police horses was in response to one of the demonstrators yelling, “Your horse is racist!” shortly after the police horse was hit with a flag. 

 

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Forget Kevin Rudd’s Petition, I Have A Much Better Idea…

To anyone who looks for consistency, political commentary can be confusing. You know the sort of thing, Brett Sutton is meant to be in trouble because he claims that he didn’t remember something in one of the thousands of emails he received, but Gladys is ok because she can’t be expected to remember that her boyfriend had to stand down because he was dodgy.

Ok, I know that it’s wrong of me to call Dodgy Daryl, Gladys’s boyfriend. As she’s made it very clear, he wasn’t a boyfriend, he wasn’t even an intimate associate, he was a mere ship that passed in the night, occasionally docking and causing her a lot of stress just like the Ruby Princess. She didn’t want to reveal her relationship because she’s a private person and there would be no conflict of interest because she wasn’t interested in anything he wanted to tell her. I know how much she didn’t want to reveal the details of her private life because I’ve read at least a dozen stories about all the things that she doesn’t want to talk about.

Speaking of NSW politics, did you notice that the Upper House suspended the Liberal leader for not providing paperwork pertaining to grants? The NSW treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, found this terribly unfair because such paperwork doesn’t exist and nobody has found any proof that millions of dollars of grants were outside the guidelines because, well, it’s pretty hard to find evidence when you’ve made sure that none exists in the first place.

Similarly, Michael Sukkhar has been found completely innocent of everything by a law firm he used to work for, but that’s okay too, because the guy they put in charge of the investigation wasn’t there at the same time Mr Sukkhar was. Some of you may be wondering why a law firm would be investigating allegations against a federal politician, rather than an organisation like the AFP but the reason is simple: They couldn’t use the AFP to investigate a Liberal politician without a conflict of interest.

Anyway, as for my great idea. I know some of you are signing Kevin Rudd’s petition calling for a Royal Commission into the Murdoch media. While I fully appreciate the motives behind it, I think it’s doomed to fail at one of the following hurdles:

  • The government will argue – as they did with the Banking Royal Commission that it’s unnecessary.
  • If public pressure becomes too great they will appoint someone with limited terms of reference. Possibly someone like Dyson Heydon whose already headed one RC and has found that he has no political bias and it’s only those nasty, unwashed lefties who think that he has.
  • If the Royal Commission does happen to find that there is a fundamental problem with the Murdoch media’s reach, their approach, the lack of ethics, the lack of qualified people being presented as experts or indeed, anything at all, then the government announce a billion dollars to form a committee to examine the recommendations of the RC.
  • When it’s pointed out that the committee still hasn’t been formed, the government will hastily appoint a committee with at least three of the following on it: someone from the IPA, someone from the Business Council, an ex-politician from the conservative side of politics, Twiggy Forest, a current politician’s in-laws, Hillsong, someone from a fossil fuel lobby group, or Scott Cam.
  • The committee will conclude that some of the Royal Commission’s recommendations violate the principals of free speech, and while there are certain practices that need reform, the best way to achieve this would be for all Murdoch editors to spend some time working at the ABC on a rotating basis where they can see the way that it’s done and given the ABC useful tips on how to ensure that they meet their charter and don’t forget to balance all those left-wing commentators they have from organisations like the Climate Council, charities and the IPA.

My idea is much simpler. As well as signing the petition, if everyone who signed were to contribute an amount from $1 to $100 and the money go towards buying out one of the media organisations. Each week there could be a raffle and one of the lucky donors would be awarded a small parcel of shares, so it wouldn’t necessarily be a loss-making donation. In fact, you could treat it like Tattslotto where you know in advance that you’re not going to win enough to retire on.

Now, I know that even three million wouldn’t be enough to take over something like Nine, but it might buy enough votes to elect some troublemaker to the board. And once the Liberals got wind of the idea that there’s people on the left trying to influence the way the media spin stories, they might actually do something about changing the media laws so that there were greater consequences for misleading or inaccurate stories.

Yeah, probably not. But it would be interesting to see the reaction from all those who advocate that the private media should be allowed to show bias!

 

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The Poor Women Has A Right To A Private Life!

The media can be quite invasive. What right did they have to splash this poor woman’s personal life across their front pages and to lead with stories about her poor judgement? Ok, there may have been criminal activity involved, but is it her fault if she happens to be involved with the wrong guy.

Or guys, actually. I mean, there were several of them and not all of them were criminals. And she did reveal details about their criminal activity even though it was probably a breach of lawyer/client privilege.

I speak, of course, of Nicola Gobbo, the lawyer whose activity has possibly meant that a number of convicted criminals will have their case thrown out on appeal which means, as any George Pell supporter will tell you, that they’re innocent, so logically Gobbo hasn’t been associating with criminals at all.

Anyway, she’s not the only woman who’s been in he media spotlight for her relationships. Lately we’ve had many people arguing much the same thing about Gladys Berejiklian. After all, we’re told, she’s not responsible for what her partner does and just because people share airspace and germs, it doesn’t mean that they’ll necessarily share secrets…Particularly if one partner says that he or she doesn’t need to know about that. I mean, who among hasn’t – at some time or other – hasn’t put up their hand to stop their partner revealing the method by which they’re going to make a heap of money because it’s sometimes better just not to know.

So I think we should all just accept that a person’s sex life is their own affair and just get on with our lives and not worry about things like whether a political leader is in bed with someone guilty of corrupt behaviour. Just for clarification, I mean that literally. Obviously if they’re in bed in a metaphorical sense that would constitute corrupt behaviour on their part and nobody would be defending that.

Yes, no less a person than Scott Morrison has endorsed Gladys and said that she’s a fine person who would have had nothing to do with any of Daryl Maguire’s dodgy dealings such as his immigration scam. Just for clarification, that’s Maguire’s dodgy immigration dealings; I’m not suggesting that Morrison had any dodgy dealings while he was Immigration Minister. As we all know Morrison wouldn’t have known anything about Maguire’s dodgy dealings at the time he was Minister because at that time he was too busy stopping boats to notice anything else.

Speaking of dodgy dealings, it’s a great relief to find that once again, Liberals accused of misconduct have been cleared. Michael Sukkhar and Kevin Andrews have both been cleared of wrongdoing after the Department of Finance asked them if they’d done anything wrong and they said that they hadn’t and that there was no need to ask any of their staff because their staff would give much the same answer unless they were a disgruntled employee who was likely to lie. After such an exhaustive inquiry into branch stacking and illegal use of staff, we can forget all about this and get back to attacking Dan Andrews for a) not using police in hotel quarantine b) using police in the social housing lockdown c) not locking down soon enough to stop the second wave and d) not opening up and allowing a third wave to give the Liberals plenty of ammunition.

Anyway, I think that it’s time we just accepted that who people see in their personal life is just that and we shouldn’t be worried about whether Prince Andrew knew Geoffrey Epstein or teenage girls or whether a politician sits down to lunch with a crime figure or even if property developers have intimate Christmas dinners with politicians where they exchange gifts like paper bags and planning approvals. Let’s all agree that a person’s private life is just that and we should butt out at all times and the fact that said person happens to be in a position of power shouldn’t mean that they need to declare their relationship in case of a conflict of interest because that’s an offensive intrusion. We can surely trust people to do the right thing!

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The Liberals Have A Plan!

Ok, here’s a brief summary of the Liberal position over the past seven years.

2013: Debt and deficit disaster. It’s only by having a surplus that we get economic growth. We have a PLAN for JOBS AND GROWTH and to bring your energy prices down. IT’S ONLY BY HAVING GROWTH THAT YOU HAVE JOBS. NEVER FORGET THAT!!!!

2014: We’re fixing Labor’s debt and we’ll have a surplus soon. We’re implementing our PLAN for JOBS AND GROWTH.

2015: We’re on track for a Budget Surplus and Jobs and Growth, we just need a change of leadership to help sell our message.

2016: We’ll have a Budget Surplus after the election thanks to the JOBS and Growth.

2017: We’re going really well, and we’re now including a plan for bringing down your energy prices as well as a JOBS, JOBS, JOBS plan which is thanks to the growth in the economy.

2018: National energy guarantee. We intend to develop a plan to get power prices under control and to make power more reliable and we’re going to do this by replacing our leader so we can have an even better plan.

2019 (pre-election): We will deliver jobs and growth after the election when we’ve kept our promise of delivering the FIRST SURPLUS this century. We are such good economic managers and once we’ve been re-elected we’ll give you our plan for getting energy prices down, down, down and making supply more reliable.

2019 (post election): Jobs are our number one priority and we’ll announce our energy policy as soon as we’ve worked out what to do with the promises we made when we thought that Labor would be the government. But, hey, JOBS will follow our tax cuts in a few years, so that will lead to growth. And we’re still on track for that surplus.

2020: PANDEMIC! All bets and the budget is off. Forget the surplus, forget growth. Now it’s JOBS, JOBS, JOBS. Jobs are our priority and we intend to be pragmatic and to forget all about the idea of a surplus because an economy in this much trouble needs a lot of stimulus so we won’t have a surplus until we’ve got jobs, jobs, jobs which will give us growth but until then forget the surplus we intend to have a bigger deficit this year than Labor left in terms of total debt.

But hey, JOBS, JOBS, JOBS.

And growth?

Look we’ve always said that it’s only by having jobs that you have growth, so that’s why we’re giving concessions to business in the hope that they start employing people they don’t need in order to create growth.

People have suggested doing something about climate change or putting more funding into childcare…

Don’t be ridiculous. Where would the money come from?

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It’s Clear My Wife Doesn’t Understand How Good Scott Morrison Is!

My wife doesn’t appreciate the Liberal Party’s great achievements. Or mine for that matter. She seems to be confused about what a great job we’re both doing.

About the time that the Liberals took over because the Labor government were such terrible money managers, I decided it was time that we took stock of our personal finances. “Look at this mortgage!” I told my wife, “It’s more money than either of are likely to earn next year. Our grandchildren will be paying it back!”

She seemed to think that it was all under control because we were managing to pay off the minimum each month, but I managed to convince her that the only thing to do was to take out an even bigger mortgage so that we could clear any other outstanding debts and to invest in our future. “You leave it all up to me,” I told her “because people like me are good at managing money.”

“What do you mean, ‘people like you;’? Is it because you’re a man?” she wanted to know, immediately betraying her obvious left-wing, feminist bias. However, I refused to be sidetracked and managed to convince her that I could manage the money side of things and she wasn’t to worry her pretty little head about such matters because she’d let us get into the mess in the first place.

To her credit, she didn’t show much interest in what was happening after the first few months of me giving her daily reports of how well we were doing. Then last year, she suddenly decided to ask me how things were going.

“Excellent,’ I told her. “Next year, for the first time in over a decade we’ll earn more than we spent.”

“What!” she yelled. “What do you mean, for the first time in over a decade?”

“Well, it’s been hard getting the budget back under control. I mean, thanks to your prolific spending a few years ago on things like a car to get you to work, I’ve had to take out a second and third mortgage. But it’s all good now. Next year, we’re going to be back in the black.”

“Really?” she inquired.

“Yes, I’ve bought a share in a racehorse that won the Melbourne Cup.”

“Your horse won?”

“Yes, my horse won next year’s Cup.”

“But next year’s cup hasn’t happened yet. You can’t say you’ve won next year when it hasn’t happened yet.”

“Look,” I told her, “the Prime Minister just said that they’d brought the budget back into surplus next year. If he can use the past tense about a future event, why can’t I?”

She didn’t seem convinced. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 recession and the fake news media have led her to believe that Morrison was wrong about being back in surplus just because it didn’t actually happen.  And, to make matters worse, I can’t get her to understand that I was right either, owing to the simple unfortunate technicality that my horse won’t be running in the Cup because it hasn’t actually been broken in owing to the fact that it’s too vicious for anyone to get near it. But this just shows how strong it is and how it has exactly the right sort of determination and spirit that it needs to be a winner.

I tried to tell her this, but she simply said, “The fact is it’s not a winner. I mean, it hasn’t actually won anything, has it?”

“I totally reject the premise of your question!” I told her.

“How?” she demanded.

“By telling you that I reject the premise. That’s how Mr Morrison does it.”

“But on what grounds are you rejecting the premise?”

“On the grounds that I don’t accept it.”

Unable to pursue a calm and rational argument, she left the room, muttering something about “Utopia” not being a made-up show.

There seems to be nothing I can do to convince my wife that both Morrison and I are right and that it’s the actual events that are the error, not our judgement. In fact, she didn’t seem to understand the fact that our mortgage was now three times what it used to be was thanks to my excellent financial management. If it wasn’t for that, we wouldn’t be able to now borrow in excess of two million dollars in order to help us get through then next few months because of all the expenses associated with some of my excellent decisions  such as purchasing materials that will enable us to start fracking in our backyard once the silly rules preventing such from such an enterprise are removed when Tim Smith becomes Premier of Victoria. Honestly, you’ve no idea how much red tape is involved in getting a fracking licence in suburban Melbourne.

It should be obvious that it’s only thanks to me that we’re in this position and that she should show a little gratitude to me and ScoMo, but no, it’s all, blame, blame, blame. Why she even suggested that the budget was terrible for women over thirty five because they’d actually find it harder to get work after the youth subsidies. She completely overlooks that the infrastructure spending will mean that they have nicer roads to travel on while they look for work and all the promised mental health support if they can’t cope with not getting it. That’s the trouble with the left. They’re just never grateful.

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Trump, Conspiracies And Occam’s Razor!

Let me begin by saying that I think that the trouble with politics is that people are expected to lie. There are the small lies where someone body has to agree with the party line, even though everything they’ve said in the past indicates that they don’t. And there are the big lies: “We didn’t take into account the fact that the electorate was marginal when awarding them a billion dollar grant to be spent in any way they see fit!”

How else would it be possible for the Liberals to argue that the budget deficits of the Rudd  and Swan years ruined our economy but the much larger budget deficit of next week is saving the economy? Surely someone would be asking them to explain the contradiction were it not for the fact that political parties are expected to lie.

Anyone who’s followed the career of Donald Trump would have to acknowledge that not everything he said is the gospel truth… Or rather they would were it not for the fact that, in politics, you can dispute something which is verifiable as the truth and not be thought of as mentally incompetent or stupid. You know, the whole facts and alternative facts thing…

So we have the rather strange moment where – thanks to Trump taking political lying to a whole new art form – nobody believes anything that he says even though those working for him have to pretend to.

And let me quite clear, if either Trump and Morrison told me that I have ten toes, I’d be taking my shoes and socks off to check that they hadn’t removed one while I was sleeping. However, I find it interesting that many of those who were frustrated by Trump’s supporters calling the whole COVID-19 thing a hoax, are now the ones who suspect that it’s Trump who’s pretending to have it. We now have one thing that both his supporters and his opponents are both prepared to agree on: the existence of a corona virus hoax. They only disagree on the nature of the hoax.

While I certainly wouldn’t put it past Trump to create a fiction that helps him win, I also believe that someone who has refused to wear a mask, insisted on packing people into rallies and mocked social distancing has a better than average chance of contracting the virus.

When faced with two competing ideas, I’ve found it’s useful to apply Occam’s Razor which in simple terms means that when faced with competing explanations, the simpler one is more likely to be correct. For example, is the fact that most of the experts who doubt climate change were employed by the fossil fuel industry because they’re the only ones clever enough to see through the deception perpetuated by scientists who’d rather apply for funding to investigate something fictional, or is it because they have a vested interest in suggesting that there’s nothing wrong with fossil fuels and we should all use as much as possible because coal is good for humanity.

So if I were forced to pick between this being real and something Trump made up, I’d pick the scenario that he has actually been diagnosed with COVID-19 for a few simple Occam’s Razor-like reasons:

  • He’s been trying to play down COVID-19 all year, so to now tell people it’s something that can disrupt his election campaign suggests that he might have got it wrong.
  • Disappearing for a few days or weeks disrupts his narrative that he’s a strong man and nothing can stop him.
  • The fact that Hope Hicks was diagnosed first and then he and Melanie got tested indicates a level of planning that I suspect would be too difficult for Trump as it involves a two-step plan.
  • It’s been suggested that the Republicans told him to hide away so that he didn’t have to do any more debates because he lost. Trump never listens to anyone so it’s unlikely he’d believe them about either losing the debate or the necessity of hiding so that he didn’t need to do more.
  • This puts COVID-19 front and centre when Trump has been trying to shift the campaign chatter to the economy. While he could theoretically argue that the big drop in markets when he tested positive shows how much he’s needed, that’s not the sort of argument that sways many people. It’s sort of like when your partner turns up late when you’ve been trying to prepare for guests and says, “Wow, look at the mess you’re in. This just shows how important I am!” If they really wanted to impress, it would have been better to have been there.

Whatever the truth, I suspect that I won’t have swayed anyone. The difficulty of politics in the 21st Century is that it’s all so unbelievable that something like QAnon can flourish, the Brexit debacle can lead to one of the people responsible getting elected PM with an increased majority and Tony Abbott being given a job which requires diplomacy. If Trump is pronounced dead, some people will be sure that Deep State got him and others will be sure that this is just his way of avoiding embarrassment.

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