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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.

Nats Vote No OR When You’re Standing At The North Pole Everything Is South

It’s sort of interesting that just a few days ago we had the conservative side of politics telling us that they didn’t have a position on the Voice because they didn’t have enough detail. Now, according to Nationals muppet, David Littleproud, there’s enough detail to announce that they’ll be opposing it.

Ok, I shouldn’t be calling Littleproud a “muppet”. This sort of name-calling doesn’t advance the political agenda. Besides, the muppets were cute little puppets who were fun to look at and brought laughter to a lot of people… So calling him a muppet is only accurate on the last point.

Anyway, in rhetoric reminiscent of some of the reasons for not apologising to the Stolen Generation, the Nationals are opposing it because it does nothing toward closing the gap. When asked why his government did so little about closing the gap in their time in office, Littleproud insisted that they’d done plenty.

I’m sorry, but I don’t consider making health and education outcomes worse for non-Indigenous people is really what’s intended when people talk about closing the gap.

Anyway, I’m sure that there’ll be a disproportionate number of voices being given coverage praising the Nationals for their courageous stance in standing up to the woke forces…

On a side-note, given that Hitler was racist does that mean people who are anti-Nazi are just succumbing to woke nonsense?

Part of the trouble is that the media feeds off controversy and drama so instead of working on the theory that where there’s a strong consensus, let’s concentrate on fixing the roadblocks to getting things done, they work hard to find a problem. For example, if there’s difficulty getting help to flood victims, instead of an impartial investigation into how the problem can be fixed, as well as how similar issues can be avoided in the future, we’ll have a “PASTOR BLAMES BUREAUCRACY FROM STOPPING HIM BUILDING ARK.”

For example, in the recent Victorian state election, Independent Ian Cook was given a great deal of publicity because his exit poll of friends and family said that he was a great chance of upsetting Dan Andrews in the seat of Mulgrave. Having failed to get the required votes, he is now getting airtime on mainstream media with his complaints about the fact that the two-party preferred on election night was done between Labor and Liberal when after the distribution of preferences he would have been in second place, and this says something about the corruption inherent in the system.

While the Victorian Electoral Commission have explained that the election night preference count is done on the basis of who is expected to finish in second place and it’s just done to give a guide, but when preferences are actually counted, they are actually distributed in accordance with the actual distribution, this hasn’t stopped the various calls for a recount being given a significant amount of air time.

The only problem is that it looks like Andrews will score more than fifty percent of the first preference vote in Mulgrave, meaning that even if another candidate gets ALL their remaining preferences, Andrews will still have more votes. It’s like complaining that they’re declaring the winner of the Brownlow medal when there’s still a round to go when the leader is more than three votes ahead of the field.

Preferential voting seems difficult for some people to understand with various people tweeting that Labor only got 37% of the votes so most people oppose them. (Similar arguments in the recent federal election.)

So for the benefit of everyone I’m going to explain preferential voting in simple terms so that you can show this to your kids or that drunk uncle at Christmas.

A simple majority vote

I have a class of twenty-five students. I tell them that I am buying them lunch on the last day. They need to vote on what we get. These are the options.

  • Pizza
  • Red Rooster
  • McDonald’s
  • Fish and chips
  • Subway
  • Nothing – I’ll be on the sports excursion

After voting, the results are as follows.

  • 5 votes for Pizza
  • 3 votes for Red Rooster
  • 5 votes for McDonald’s
  • 2 Fish and chips
  • 4 Subway
  • 6 Nothing,

Of course, when I tell the kids that in a fair and democratic election, Nothing won with 6 votes, so they won’t be getting lunch, I suspect that they won’t see the fairness of the simple majority system. On the other hand, a preferential system would ask them to number their votes from first to sixth. Apart from anything else I suspect that those voting for Nothing wouldn’t fill the squares from 1-6 making their vote informal.

After the distribution of preferences we discover that apart from those who voted Pizza 1, eight people had it as number 2. At this point, Pizza has more than fifty percent of the vote and is the victor. While they may not be overjoyed at not getting their choice, they’re certainly a lot happier than if Nothing was declared the winner.

It’s also interesting that some people who claim that Labor are illegitimate because they got less than fifty percent of first preference votes are more than happy for parties like the Nationals and Pauline Hanson’s One Notion to wield power disproportionate to their number of first preference votes.

And that’s part of the trouble. For years, it’s been suggested that Labor are the left and that the Liberals are the right and other parties are far right or far left and there’s a battle for the middle ground between Liberals and Labor but this overlooks the reality of the electorate.

While I’ve often pointed out that there’s something strange about calling someone like me left-wing when I’m not exactly calling for the destruction of the capitalist system and all I’m asking for is policies that work for people and not an elite few, the problem is not simply that I’m considered a lefty by people with extreme right views. The problem is that when you’re at the North Pole, everything is south of you, and when you’re on Sky After Dark, then even Costello’s Nine is far too close to that lefty outfit, the Liberal Party.

In the end, most people won’t something done about the cost of living but they also want something done about climate change, they supported marriage equality, they don’t support racism or sexism even if they – like me – sometimes have problems recognising it.

So the rise of the “so-called Teal” candidates in the federal election was no surprise. Simply, in seats where people hadn’t been able to bring themselves to vote Labor because they just don’t, they suddenly had an alternative that more closely reflected their views than the Liberals.

 

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Thanks To Dan Andrews I Got My First Dose Of Covid On Election Day!

Just to be clear here, I didn’t get it at the polling booths. I voted on the first day in the first hour that voting opened.

“Have you voted anywhere else before?” asked the guy crossing me off. Gee, I thought, I’d have had to have been quick, but I guess it’s like when they ask you at the airport if you’re planning a terrorist attack. I mean, I don’t know how many people they’ve caught like that but I guess it doesn’t hurt to ask.

Anyway, I picked up Covid somewhere and let me say I’ve felt better in my life. On the other hand, I can see how some people might be saying that locking down over something this mild was a massive over-reaction. Not the ones who died of course.

Which brings me to one of the great inconsistencies of some of the anti-Dan rhetoric we’ve all heard over the last few years. Apparently he was to blame for the 801 deaths which were a result of Covid leaking out of hotel quarantine, but locking down elsewhere wasn’t necessary because so what if a few people die. I found it hard to reconcile the idea that Covid needed the army – which we later learnt wouldn’t have been able to provide security – because it was so dangerous and needed to be contained but not for everyday citizens who should have been allowed to spread it because Freedom.

Whatever, Andrews has been re-elected and the media is talking about the swings against it as though the only thing that matters is the primary vote. Rather like saying Australia won the cricket test by 298 runs but their score in the first innings wasn’t as high as it was last time so they must be really, really concerned about that. As I wrote the other day, I have no idea if the opinion polls will prove correct but it seems as though some in the media are just ignoring them in order to feed a narrative that the election will be close. Yes, it’s always hard to work out exactly what will happen but if you’re just going to presume that the polls mean nothing it’s just as dangerous as presuming a single poll is 100% accurate.

There are all sorts of different factors at play in any election and it helps to create a single story around what happened such as this leader lost the left when he made all those homophobic and racist comments or that leader lost the educated vote with his policy to abolish universities. It’s far too hard to think that this person may have voted for the Liberals because he didn’t like people picking on some Liberals just because they’d been looking at inappropriate images, while the other person may have voted for Labor because he met the local member at the Football and he bought him a drink. Similarly I may have lost the female vote by talking about nothing but men in my examples there.

But the thing is that the narrative, while comforting for analysts, is rarely the actual thing that decides people’s vote. While protesters were complaining about Dictator Dan for trying to make them get vaccinated, many more people were complying and feeling relieved that they were vaccinated when they got Covid.

And getting back to my point about getting my first bout of Covid on Election Day. Yes, that’s thanks to the Premier because I’m sure that if it wasn’t for the lockdowns and the mask mandates and all the other measures then I’d have undoubtedly had Covid before now.

Like I said, everything is a matter of interpretation and all the reasons why people vote a certain way can’t be reduced to a simple narrative.

 

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Opinion Polls OR If I Raced Usain Bolt I’d Be Neck And Neck With Him!

Costello Media told us that the two major parties in the Victorian Election were neck and neck, according to the latest opinion poll and I can’t work out whether:

  1. they are trying to boost Matt Guy’s chances by suggesting he’s a real chance
  2. they are trying to ruin his chances by worrying Victorians that we could actually have him as Premier
  3. they are just trying to sell newspapers by suggesting that it’s actually a close race
  4. they are complete morons who have no idea how to interpret opinion polls

Now, let me start by saying that I have no idea what the final result of the Victorian Election will be. However, I do know that if I were racing against Usain Bolt and he beat me by 90 metres in the heats, then I’d be a lot closer if I were to make the final. In the final, I’d be very close to him when we got on the starting blocks and I’d still be close to him when the gun went off and I’d still be a lot closer to him than I was in the heat and I’d stay closer to him until he’d run about twenty metres by which time he’d be a long way in front but I’d be as close to him as I’m likely to get… Unless he fell over and didn’t get up, in which case I’d beat him.

My simple advice to sports writers, however, is that you should not be writing me up as being a lot closer than last time just because we’re a long way from the finish line.

I’m going to make my point about opinion polls for what should be the final time but unfortunately political commentators still insist on doing the following:

  • Treating an individual poll as though it’s 100% accurate even though most firms running a poll will tell you that it has a margin or error of about 3% making an single poll pretty much useless for picking the result given 3% either way will usually mean a different party wins.
  • Ignoring the individual electorates and treating a poll like it will be consistent throughout the whole state or country. We’ve had a number of federal elections where the polls that predicted a swing that would result in a change of government were pretty much right, but there was no change of government because it just didn’t happen in the handful of seats that they needed to win.
  • Overlooking that a large number of people will make up their minds at the last minute and so the weather may make people feel happy or like they want a change. In the end, this handful may swing the three seats or whatever that make all the difference.
  • Treating all polls equally and ignoring the fact that some polls have been more accurate than others owing to the fact that they use better methodologies.
  • Failing to ignore the fact that certain polls are commissioned by certain people with certain agendas. If, for example, I commission a poll, it should be no surprise that the results show that even though Usain Bolt has won decisively the sprint final, most people admire my refusal to give up even more than his running ability.
  • Concentrating on something that won’t actually matter when people vote such as who is the preferred leader. Sure, it might swing some people but there could still be a case where the incumbent is the preferred leader by a significant amount, yet his or her party is behind in the poll. If the people who committed themselves to party B in the poll even though they preferred leader A, what makes anyone presume leader A’s popularity will be a significant factor in the actual election…

Speaking of Jeff Kennett, he recently tweeted that he was sorry that he didn’t stand. I don’t know what he was thinking when he tweeted it but I hope he wasn’t intending to drive anywhere in that state of mind. I inferred from his tweet that he thought that his standing would have helped the Liberals which tends to suggest that he doesn’t think that they’ve run a very good campaign. I also inferred that Mr Kennett seems to have forgotten that his own electoral record as leader consists of Loss, Loss, Landslide Win (When Labor Were So Unpopular That Tim Smith could have led the Liberals to a win… remember he’d have only been nine years old at the time…), Win after previous landslide, finishing with a Wi...Oh, hang on, this was meant to be in the bag, what do you mean the Independents hold the balance of power, well, I’ll sort them out and let them know who’s boss and.. what do you mean they’ve made Steve Bracks the Premier… I’ll quit politics and then you’ll all be sorry. So it’s three losses and two wins.

While Kennett was never all that popular, Dan Andrews was quite successful at winning some hearts and minds with his handling of the pandemic, even if a significant minority were showing their love of freedom by urinating on the Shrine of Remembrance. Even if some of that has worn off, there have been some truly silly attempts by the media to make Dan Andrews seem unelectable. such as the exciting news in The Herald-Sun that a federal politician slammed Dan Andrews and said that he didn’t deserve to win. Surprisingly, the politician concerned was Peter Dutton. Imagine that! The leader of the federal Liberals not thinking that a Labor leader was doing a good job… Let’s not forget that the stairs Andrews fell on were only steps. The “so-called stairs” refused all requests for an interview.

Three days out from the election in Victoria, it’d be unwise to make too definitive a prediction but I’m very sure that even if the opinion poll that made the media so excited was replicated, Labor would have a comfortable win. Of course, as the cliche goes, there’s only one poll that counts but the newspapers need a front page apart from repeating the Liberals’ election promise without criticism and finding a headline to link Dan Andrews with Satan (did you notice that If the “N” in his name was a “T” his name is an anagram of “WED SATAN”… of course, you have to leave out a couple of letters but let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good front page story.)

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Look, Just Because I’m Wearing A Swastika That Doesn’t Make Me A Nazi…

Warning: This has a particularly Victorian flavour so if you’re not up with who Dan Andrews is, then you’re probably in another state and not reading the Murdoch Muggle Media. Good on you!

Every now and then, when I’m feeling like I’m not very clever, I read the letters section of “The Herald-Sun” and I immediately feel like a genius…

Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t feel like I’m a genius because people disagree with me and have a different worldview; I often feel like a genius because some of the writer’s worldview actually contradicts itself. I mean, I get things like if I think it’s outrageous that someone should be attacked for an alleged crime when they’ve never been convicted in a court of law, then it’s only reasonable to give the same Innocent Until Proven Guilty benefit to others and not say but yeah, I don’t like him so …

Other times, I just feel slightly better educated because I know about things like science and logic, as well as understanding the limitations of such things. I mean, just because the scientific method doesn’t give us the answer the first time, that doesn’t mean that it’s not a good way of proceeding. However, when I hypothesise that if my wife loves me then she’d pay attention when I talk and I decide to do a test by talking for three hours and she falls asleep, I may have found one of the limitations of the scientific method when it comes to everyday life.

Anyway, this is not about me boasting of my superiority to most of the letters published in a propaganda sheet for the IPA. It’s about something that’s more fundamental.

We should stop calling people Nazis just because we disagree with them!

The whole Nazi Germany thing began with the demonisation of the other side and I’m not talking about the Jews here. The demands on Germany after the Treaty of Versailles were all about winning and punishing the bad guys who lost. The Germans, in other words.

This led to the economic conditions that enabled Hitler and Friends (I don’t want to call them Nazis because that’s apparently not allowed) to rise to power by demonising the Jews and next thing you know, it’s World War Two…

So when Dan Andrews and the Labor Party suggest that certain people are Nazis, it’s a terrible over-reach and quite offensive to compare people who are merely talking about the superiority of the various groups of which they’re a member and doing Seig Heil salutes to Nazis, well, it’s just wrong.

Mind you, it’s all right to suggest that Dan Andrews is a

  • Dictator
  • Communist
  • Worse than Stalin
  • Autocrat
  • Totalitarian
  • Tyrant
  • Worse than Hitler
  • Chairman Dan
  • Etc.

Of course, at the same time as being someone who commands with an iron fist, Dan Andrews apparently takes orders from the unions. And Communist China.

So, if I put all the Murdoch media together, I’m left with the belief that Labor are in a conspiracy with the unions and China, and Dan Andrews is running it all.

Seems good to me. Maybe Victorians will get enough funding to fix the problems if all these people are working together under Dan Andrews.

Gee, what can the Liberals offer?

After the last few days, it seems all they can claim is to have a direct line to one of the Gods that their different candidates believe in.

Thoughts and prayers, Mathew, thoughts and prayers…

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Why We Actually Need A Conservative Party: Elon Musk And The Titanic

We often have the assumption that rich people know what they’re doing because, well, they got rich and if they had enough skill to build a fortune, then they must be clever.

Of course, I can see a certain appeal in that. George W. Bush, for example, was determined to make his own way and not rely on his parents so he went and borrowed a million dollars from his uncle and invested it in oil wells and next thing you know, he’s made it on his own.

Ok, some of you are undoubtedly thinking that you could have been independently wealthy too if only you thought of having an uncle who could lend you a million dollars when you picked the family you’d be born into…

So, it’s very tempting for people to live in the naive hope that Elon Musk knows what he’s doing. Or rather that he – like Baldric – has a cunning plan. I certainly believe that.

But for those of you unfamiliar with “Blackadder”, Baldric’s cunning plans had all the intelligence of a Matt Canavan tweet but with slightly less absurdity.

And so, I suspect Elon Musk’s plan is to disrupt in order to do two things:

  1. Create lots of publicity and therefore more traffic on Twitter leading to an argument that Twitter is breaking all records.
  2. Getting staff to leave so he can pick and choose the people of a more compliant workforce who’ll institute the changes he deems necessary.

The problem he seems to be creating with Number 2 is the simple fact that he has no idea what’s necessary and seems to be sacking the odd essential person. It’s sort of like deciding that you don’t need someone to open the boom gates to let you into the building because that could be done by the person on the reception desk remotely, only to discover that once you’ve sacked all the people opening the boom gates, there’s nobody there to let the person in to the reception desk so that they can operate the boom gates remotely, and this would be fine if only you’d got the boom gate operators to explain how to open them so that someone could get in the building to change the system.

The basic problem with Australia – and most Western countries – is our total lack of any sort of Conservative party.

The normal way democracy works is that you get the radical party voted in because we need change and then after a while, the electorate gets sick of all the change and elects someone who promises that they won’t change too much and they’ll even undo some of the changes… not too many, mind you, because we’re all heartily sick of this damned change and… oh, sorry, I didn’t mean to swear but you know how it is. Some things needed to be addressed and they were but all this extra stuff, well, it’s just not right, eh. Let’s go back to the good old days, when nostalgia was at its peak… And then after a few years of nothing much happening, we get a bit of groundswell for the things that need to change….

Nowadays, it seems like we don’t have any conservatives. When Labor get in, it’s usually as a result of promising not to change very much at all but, well, we all agree that this and that need to change, but even though we think that’s a good idea, be patient because we can’t do that yet because we said we’d be nice and quiet and not wake the neighbours in order to get elected and we know how important it is for Labor governments to keep the promises once elected. Liberals, on the other hand, are permitted the excuse of changing circumstances. You know the sort of thing: “When we promised that we were in opposition but now we’re the government, circumstances have changed and we feel we need to be more responsible when we were promising that we’d cut taxes, spend more and balance the budget all within days of being elected!”

The Coalition will undertake a path of radical changes, such as WorkChoices or privatising anything that’s left in their hands no matter how controversial that would have been a few years earlier.

The Liberals are no longer a bunch of conservatives. In Victoria, they’re currently attacking the Victorian Electoral Commission for its decision to refer them to IBAC for their inadequate response to questions. Now, I’m not going to into the pros and cons of the particular investigation. I’m simply going to point out that to accuse an independent body of interfering with an election campaign is a pretty serious allegation. In fact, I would argue that it’s worthy of a Royal Commission where all the interactions of the VEC and the Liberal Party are examined under oath and we can get to the bottom of what went on. Ok, we’re in a caretaker period but I’m sure that were Dan Andrews to announce his desire for one, then Matty Guy and his mates would be right behind it.

Yeah…

Anyway, my point is that no true Conservative party would start attacking the independent body and be casting doubt on its independence because such things destroy faith in the institutions that we hold dear.

Mm, I just re-read everything and I suddenly realised that it’s like this:

  • Elon Musk thinks he’s clever because it’s always worked in the past so why not now?
  • Labor are now the Conservative party.
  • The Greens are the radicals that we’ll get sick of after a few years of them making too many changes when they one day win government
  • Elon Musk thinks his plan is working because he’s got the boom gate operator to come back for a day and open the gate.
  • The Victorian Liberals thought that Tim Smith was a potential leader until he drove into a fence while he was drunk. Now they think that their best chance is to get behind Matt Guy and hope that he can make people angry enough with Labor that they won’t notice that the fence hasn’t been repaired a year later and, anyway, what’s that got to do with Matty because he’s not responsible for anything that anyone in his party does or says, and if we can just get elected then we’ll change IBAC’s terms of reference so that they can’t investigate past misbehaviour, only things that Labor might do in the future if they’re elected again.
  • Elon is pretty pleased with himself because he figures that eventually, it’ll work, or else he’ll just launch another rocket and tweet from space telling us that it doesn’t matter if Twitter fails, or the Earth because he’s got a spaceship and nobody on earth really understood him and…
  • Elections have delivered shock results, but the press keeps predicting a possible surprise… When Kennett lost, it was mainly from a protest vote which people felt confident giving because there was no way he could lose. I suspect that the Liberals ads saying things like “Don’t risk another four years of Dan Andrews” may actually work against them when people decide that they don’t want to risk more change and something about the devil you know…
  • Like The Titanic, Elon feels pretty much unsinkable. Maybe he should have considered the lifeboat question a little more carefully.

Maybe we should all go back to MySpace…

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Why Some People Are Always Right And Others Are Never Wrong…

Whether we’re talking about politics, racehorses or the football, there’s something admirable about tipsters and that’s that they never look back. Ok, they may have had it completely wrong last week and, while most of us would feel a sense of embarrassment about getting something so publicly wrong, there they are fronting up again next week and giving us their predictions about the future with all the confidence of an astrologer.

Of course, we all accept that people tipping sport are likely to get in wrong and nobody would seriously expect that the experts are likely to get it right every time because that would create an enormous problem for betting markets and, after all, aren’t the betting markets the main reason that would hold sporting contests?

And even with political and economic forecasters, it’s only reasonable to understand that even the most expert and knowledgeable commentator may sometimes get things wrong because of changing circumstances. You know the sort of thing:

“I said that interest rates wouldn’t rise in the foreseeable future and the fact that they’re now rising means that we’re no longer in the foreseeable future because I didn’t foresee it.”

OR

“It’s only because the Democrats held on to key seats that prevented the Red Tsunami that I predicted from happening.”

No, the future is uncertain and anyone trying to make a prediction will risk the wrath of the gods… Or maybe not! Who can tell?

However, lately I’ve started to wonder how certain people can be so dogmatic about their views without even once pausing to say, “Of course, I have been wrong in the past, so maybe you should be taking everything I say with a grain of salt!” At the very least, perhaps they should take the time to explain to people how their journey has taken them from a point somewhere on the road to Damascus where they were blinded by God to the point where they’re a complete atheist.

Take for example, Warren Mundine who was once president of the Labor Party, and as recently as 2012 expressed an interest in being a Labor senator. However, when Bob Carr got the gig instead, Mundine did an interview where he said that while he’d supported the Hawke/Keating Labor Party, the current one had fallen behind the Liberal Party in selecting Indigenous candidates. Mind you, that doesn’t extend to the Indigenous Voice to Parliament because you don’t need to select more than one Indigenous candidate named Mundine for him to stick with the party.

Anyway, at least it’s all clear about what changed his mind and why he’s gone from Labor President to someone who Retweets things from the Murdoch media.

Mark Latham, on the other hand, is a bit of a mystery. From being the Labor leader who referred to the Coalition as “a conga-line of suck-holes” for their support of the USA, he’s become someone who tweets photos of himself having dinner with his leader, Pauline Hanson.

Latham’s record:

  • In 2002, Latham said: “I’m a hater. Part of the tribalness of politics is to really dislike the other side with intensity. And the more I see of them the more I hate them. I hate their negativity. I hate their narrowness. I hate the way, for instance, John Howard tries to appeal to suburban values when I know that he hasn’t got any real answers to the problems and challenges we face.”
  • Latham left politics and wrote a book saying how terrible political life in Australia is.
  • He returned to politics, joining the Liberal Democrats.
  • He left the Liberal Democrats and joined One Nation.
  • He hosted a program on Sky called “The Outsiders”, presumably as an attempt to gain sympathy because he’s not an insider.
  • He was sacked from the program because he was too much of an outsider.
  • He’s a firm believer in free speech and believes that all those complaining about being oppressed should just shut up and listen.

But in all this, he’s never explained what changed his mind from disliking “the other side with intensity” to disliking just about everybody and everything that isn’t Mark Latham.

Or perhaps that was always the case.

 

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The Idiots Who Want To Save The Earth Are Stuck In The Past…

I have this pitch for a movie which goes like this:

Imagine I’m living in a garden and it feeds me but I decide that it’s not enough. So, I introduce all these things like irrigation and fertilisers and various other things until I grow more than I need so that I can sell it to other people and make lots and lots of money.

Eventually, it becomes clear that I’m not looking after the long-term health of the garden and there are certain problems, and if I just plant a few trees and let a few paddocks go fallow for a season or two and do this and that, then it will all be ok and I say:

FUCK THAT! I’M MAKING MONEY HERE…

Then my children read about what I’m doing and they tell me that I need to change my ways to save the garden because if I keep going like this then in a few short years there’ll be nothing.

And I say:

FUCK THAT! I’M MAKING MONEY HERE…AND BESIDES EVERYONE ELSE IS NOW DOING EXACTLY WHAT I’M DOING HERE.

And then they appeal to me and tell me that there’ll be no garden for them and I say:

FUCK THAT! I’M MAKING MONEY HERE…WHAT DO YOU NEED A GARDEN FOR ANYHOW? WE’VE GOT MONEY.

And they give me all this hippy stuff about Mother Earth and the nature of things and how the garden is very important and if we could just get in contact with Mother Earth she’d tell me that they’re right and we need to protect the garden and…

Anyway, this could go on forever and it’s not a feature-length film so let’s just cut to the meeting with Mother Earth here and hear what she has to say.

Mother Earth: You are wrong, children. You don’t need to save the Garden.

And I say:

FUCK THAT! I’M MAKING MONEY HERE…AND NOW MOTHER EARTH IS TELLING YOU THAT’S ALL FINE.

And Mother Earth says:

Yeah, FUCK THAT! I’M MAKING GARDENS ALL THE TIME AND ONCE YOU PATHETIC HUMANS DESTROY THEM, WELL I’LL JUST MAKE DIFFERENT ONES. IT MAY TAKE A WHILE AND CERTAIN THINGS WILL BE LOST BUT WE ALL NEED TO MOVE ON AND NOBODY WILL MISS YOU HUMAN THINGS. WE HOPED YOU’D ADAPT AND FIT IN. YOU DID JUST INTERFERE A BIT TOO MUCH BUT ONCE YOU’VE DESTROYED THE GARDEN THAT FED YOU, WE’LL FIND A BETTER SPECIES TO RUN RAMPANT OVER THE WORLD. YOU WERE ONLY THERE FOR A SHORT WHILE AND YET YOU WERE NOT AS RESILIENT AS COCKROACHES OR AS LOVABLE.

And the children cry…

And I say, but we have more money than a cockroach…

I suspect that I won’t be able to get Gina to fund this even if I offer to wear her logo on my t-shirt…

 

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Speaking Of Broken Promises: The Religious Discrimination Laws…

Ok, just from memory which is fine because nobody ever seems to spend a couple of minutes checking out a potential CEO on the internet anymore, I seem to remember that we were promised laws that would stop people being persecuted for their religious beliefs.

And, again from memory, it went something like this:

  1. Religious organisations should not be forced to employ anyone who didn’t subscribe to their religious beliefs.
  2. People should not be forced to abandon their religious beliefs because of the organisation they wish to join.
  3. We will decide what constitutes a religious belief and the circumstances under which these will count…

All right, my memory is a little bit faulty but it does seem to me that this is like the whole free speech thing which seems to be expressed in the popular media – if I’m important enough to have my views amplified by the media – any disagreement is somehow inhibiting my freedom of expression and shouldn’t be allowed…, particularly on Twitter which is just a sewer…

And speaking of Chris Uhlmann, I’m wondered how long it is before he blames wind power for the lack of electricity in Florida…

Anyway, I’m still trying to get my head around the idea of why religious organisations should be allowed to exclude people from employment because they’re atheists who don’t subscribe to their viewpoint but non-religious bodies shouldn’t be allowed to exclude religious people who want to condemn their clients and employers to hell…

Of course, this is all general and has nothing to do with the recent brouhaha about the Essendon CEO who lasted less time in the job than your average Tinder date.

When it comes down to it, he should have never got the job for the obvious reason that he was the person in charge of finding the next CEO.

Let’s be clear here: If you tasked me with the job of finding a replacement for Shaun at “Mad As Hell” and I came back a few weeks later and said after due consideration, I think it should be me, you’d have to think that I was far from a disinterested party and that maybe there was the sort of conflict of interest that meant that I should consider becoming the next Liberal leader rather than a comedian…

Fair point, there isn’t much of a difference these days.

But surely someone who gave him the tick must have noticed that he had NAB on his resume and wondered what he did there. Surely they could have done a quick search and found that he was head when the bank was charging dead people for financial advice and that the Royal Commission found him a wee bit unconvincing.

Still, as he believes in life after death, at least the charging of dead people is consistent with his religious beliefs.

 

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Murdoch Media: Propaganda Or Proper Goose?

Now I want to make it clear that I never buy “The Herald-Sun” but I often read it because it’s available for free at a lot of places. Yes, if you want something of quality, you need to pay but the best things in life are free.

Anyway, I was intrigued by a couple of front-page articles this week and, while they relate to Victoria, there’s a wider issue at play here.

The first was yesterday and it related to a ten-year-old incident involving an accident where Dan Andrews was in the car. Apparently, the cyclist involved has suddenly decided to consult a lawyer to investigate his legal claims so it’s front-page news. Why it’s taken him ten years to do so, I don’t wish to speculate and neither do I wish to speculate about the accident itself.

There have been rumours circulating about this for years. Most of them with the same level of evidence as rumours about Dan Andrews’ back injury. And while it is possible that a Victorian Premier might be able to wield some influence to hush up an incident, I think that people are forgetting that Andrews was leader of the Opposition at the time, so if people are suggesting that this would somehow protect him, one has to ask why Matt Guy threw Tim Smith to the wolves when all he was doing was emulating Liberal stalwart, Sir Henry Bolte’s driving habits.

But it’s not the accident itself that’s at issue here. The point I’m making is that for the issue to resurface in the midst of an election campaign is rather interesting timing. Coincidence? Of course, one couldn’t accuse the Murdoch paper of having an agenda. I’m sure that every ten-year-old incident where no new evidence has been produced is always worthy of a front page, so I’m sure we’ll have something about Matt Guy’s lobster lunch and how one of the guests was an Australian citizen thanks to the largesse of Amanda Vanstone and her compassionate granting of citizenship.

Then there was the story about NAPLAN. Again, a front page with the headline LOCKDOWN HITS HOME. The body of the article went on to tell us how Victorian students had posted the “biggest falls” in NAPLAN results and how this was all because of lockdowns and so on.

Now, I could go off on a long tangent here and talk about the pros and cons of a national test that tests all students in a short space of time and how that doesn’t really give you much more information than a series of snapshots taken by a blindfolded person. Sure, you’ll see some things and you’ll get some idea of what’s going on, but if you really want to get the real picture, you need to get a lot more photos, preferably with the blindfold off.

Anyway, reading the headline and the first few pages, you’d have the impression that somehow Victorian students were all slipping down the totem pole of results. However, if you did venture to pages 8 and 9, you would have also seen a little table (see below)..

And if you read that table closely you would have noticed that Victoria was best or second best in twelve of the twenty categories. And yes, there’s certainly room for improvement with Year 9, the fact remains that if Victoria’s results are a disaster because of the lockdowns, what was the problem in all the states that didn’t have them? I can’t help but wonder if the table was included by a subversive subeditor…

Let’s be clear, whatever the rights and wrongs of the Andrews Government, it’s clear that paper is little more than propaganda. While we all know this and it’s easy to dismiss it, the fact remains that it does help to set an agenda and to get people talking about particular issues. That’s why we’ve spent so long debating the existence of human-induced climate change instead of discussing how to reduce the consequences. That’s why we’re discussing nuclear power now, instead of ten years ago when it would have just been a distraction for the Coalition government and preventing them from getting on with their core business of ensuring that businesses have enough money to shovel some their way.

Which brings me to Elon Musk and his purchase of Twitter.

The real danger here is that Musk will turn Twitter into some kind of circus. At the moment, Twitter is very much like the rest of the media. Mostly crap but if you search you can find some gems. And when people find such gems they share them.

Twitter, like “The Herald-Sun” has the power to set an agenda, but unlike the Murdoch Muckraker, anyone can post anything on Twitter and if enough people discover it, then the story spreads until even the traditional media can’t ignore it.

The real question is whether Musk has an agenda too, or whether he really is as silly as he often sounds.

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Peter Dutton Reduced To Tears After He Realises That Albanese Was Mocking Him…

Ok, this is one of those times when people are going to say that I just don’t get it!

They’re probably right. But if men like me don’t keep saying things that are wrong, who will be left to disagree with?

Anyway, I suddenly had this thought about the whole Michelle Landry and all those who marched out to support her after she was so upset that she left the chamber in tears.

Now, people who watched the interaction seemed a little confused because the footage seemed to show her laughing. And it was clear that Anthony Albanese was responding to Peter Dutton’s interjection and that he even said that he was sure that the Member for Capricornia (Landry) would know that there’s a difference between Yeppoon and Yeppen.

So we’re left wondering – given that this shouting and mocking was enough to reduce someone to tears – how we’d have reacted if it were Peter Dutton who left and said that he was reduced to tears.

Now, I want to make it quite clear that I’m not mocking a man who’s reduced to tears over something…

And I also want to make it quite clear that I’m not supporting the bullying of women…

So what am I left with?

The whole episode raises two important questions. The first relates to the idea that we’d be pretty shocked if Peter Dutton did tell us that the “bullying” by Anthony Albanese was so bad he was reduced to tears…

“Reduced to tears”. That’s a pretty interesting phrase when you think about it. It suggests that somehow tears reduce us to something lesser than we are.

Anyway, we’d be pretty surprised that what Albanese said was enough to have the Opposition leader in tears and we’d think that it was well a bit weak and we’d wonder about his fitness for the role. I mean compared to some of the actual behind the scenes bullying of Bridget Archer and others, Albanese’s mocking was fairly consistent with what’s considered robust debate. Maybe we should have less robust debate and more intelligent discussion, but if – for example – we compare it to Josh (Who?) Frydenberg’s attack on Jim Chalmers for suggesting a wellbeing measure, it was fairly mild.

So that raises the first question: Do we just accept that women should be treated differently because they’re women? Nobody said, “Harden up, princess!” which I’m sure would have been the response if Dutton had called the press conference to tell us all how upset he was…

Like I said, as a male, I’m not going to be able to understand what it’s like to be a woman in her position, and I certainly don’t support the bullying of women. But I don’t support the bullying of men either, so I’m just putting it out there that it’s strange that the issue was all around whether Albo was talking to Landry or Dutton and that nobody pointed out that mocking an inaccurate interjection was hardly the stuff that makes the public go, “Wow, this is far worse than Morrison getting stuck into Christina Holgate, or the way the Liberals attacked Gillian Triggs. We certainly understand why all the Coalition came out to condemn this after being silent so many other times.”

But there’s a second question that this whole issue raises:

Is the Opposition working on the theory that what worked in the past should be the template for the future?

It seems that they’ve taken a pinch of Tony Abbott where they blame Labor for everything and do as much as possible to make things worse so that everyone else will blame Labor too. When the Coalition say that if they were in government, they’d cut spending, but interviewers rarely ask them where exactly they’d do that. And when Labor does actually cut some, LNP MPs like Michelle Landry ask accusatory questions in Question Time that educate us all on the difference between Yeppen and Yeppoon.

Then they’ve looked at what worked for Labor so they’ve added the tactics that were employed against Scott Morrison:

  1. The PM is big on announcements but poor on delivery. (A little early in the term to try this on Labor. Even the $275 reduction in energy prices was by 2025. Ok, there’s probably no way they’ll get there, but it’s a bit early to be calling it a broken promise!)
  2. He always goes missing in a crisis. (Again, a bit hard to make this one stick because there’s a difference between taking Jenandthegirls on a Hawaiian holiday and attending the funerals of world leaders and attending conferences.)
  3. He doesn’t have a good understanding of the issues affecting women and there’s a culture of bullying in Parliament which he’s doing nothing to fix.

They might be tactics that eventually work but at the moment it seems like it’ll need more than fine-tuning. I mean, it could work to attack Kevin Rudd as a nerdy, academic type who’s spent too much time in Canberra, but I don’t think the same attack would work on Pauline Hanson… although she has spent a large part of her life in Canberra and I’d actually suggest that any time she’s spent in Canberra is too much!

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An Election Promise Is An Election Promise, Says Angus “Gertrude Stein” Taylor…

“Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.”

Gertrude Stein.

“An election commitment is an election commitment.”

Angus Taylor

Politics has always been a bit theatre and a bit reality.

I mean, we all know that there have been friendships across the political divide and we all know that certain people who campaign on “family values” have a private life that tends to suggest that they love families so much that they are doing their best to start several.

Whatever, I must say that the “Budget” delivered by Jim Chalmers was a rather dull first act…

First act? Well, I was a wee bit torn between concentrating on the micro economic problem of certain people freezing because they can’t afford heating, and discussing how the macro economic problem of doing anything about it may lead to the financial markets and the Reserve Bank and saying, “Oh dear, that’s inflationary… We need to add a couple of points to what people can earn if they just bank their money instead of wasting it on keeping themselves warm…”! However, then I realised that the whole thing – like nearly all politics – was a piece of theatre and that this was just a rather pedestrian first act in order to set the scene.

To succeed in the theatre, it’s not just a question of having a great play; you need to keep the critics onside. Poor reviews can destroy a show more quickly than a poor show. And so Labor have elected for a safe, steady first act which sets the scene but doesn’t actually do much else. Ok, there were a couple of election promises kept and there was an acknowledgement of the difficulties of the future without any suggestion of how they intend to solve them.

The NDIS will continue to blow out, we’re told. Oh no, say the critics. Something must be done. This is unsustainable.

Of course, as I pointed out before this is just the first act. If Hamlet had been told by his ghostly father to avenge his murder and the protagonist had immediately killed Claudius, Shakespeare would have had a play that was far too short and everyone would have wanted their money back. Similarly, when it comes to the NDIS, it’s obvious that there’s a great need, but it’s also obvious that there’s some efficiencies that can be found. I read recently about an ex-AFL footballer selling his NDIS business for $40 million. This does tend to suggest that private industry is doing quite nicely, thank you, and maybe, just maybe, if one NDIS business is worth that much then it’s charging too much for what it actually does. However, if Jim Chalmers had said something like the Coalition have let NDIS balloon due to poor decisions, but we’ll get this under control in no time, then where’s the dramatic tension?

The Budget also told us to prepare for a fifty percent rise in power prices, which has led to enormous cries for the government to do something about it. Fair enough, but that’s clearly something for the second act. This is when the protagonist will take action only to be thwarted by the evil deeds of those who are causing the problem. It’s only in the third act after a valiant struggle that the hero wins out against the forces of darkness… Unless it’s a tragedy in which case, the hero dies.

Whatever, this Budget was all about keeping the critics happy and establishing that the rising energy prices are really all the result of the evil Putin and Liberal inaction. Either way, the endless carping of Liberals such as Angus Taylor quickly sounds petty as soon as they’re asked what they’d so about it and they shrug their shoulders and say that they’re not the government.

So having established itself as a dull and cautious government, will Labor be able to make some more controversial decisions later? Will they be able, for example, to raise the unemployment rate or modify the Stage 3 tax cuts?

As an aside, I loved Samantha Maiden’s take on the Stage 3 cuts this morning, when she basically said that Labor had made a big song and dance about possibly changing them, but grown timid and backed off. I don’t remember any comment from Labor other than statements to the effect of they’re costly but we haven’t changed our policy. I thought that it was all the media speculating, rather than Labor kite-flying, but I keep forgetting that political commentators never get things wrong, it’s just that the reality doesn’t match their predictions because of some person or persons doing something or nothing, which altered the events that had already occurred in the mind of the commentator.

Of course, the analogy of this budget being the first act of a play has certain problems. For a start, critics don’t review theatre after one act; they wait and see the whole thing. But leaving aside that, there’s one very important point that Labor need to remember.

While a positive tick from the critics may get people into the theatre to watch the performance, it’s ultimately the audience who make the decision about whether the experience was worthwhile. And some of the audience reaction from potential Labor supporters suggests that they’d better have a more exciting second act planned.

They can’t rely on Peter Dutton making them look good forever. I mean, what if the Liberals change leader and put Sussan Ley in charge?

Mm, maybe if the Opposition adopt a new strategy and don’t appear on any media or make any comment, they’ll have a better chance of picking up seats at the next election!

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We Don’t Need A Kangaroo Court To Decide That Lidia Thorpe Is Unfit To Stay In Parliament

The jury’s in…

Well, it would be because there is no jury. What I’m trying to say is that the decision has been made by the people who matter which – as I am sure you know is the Federal Coalition. Lidia Thorpe has failed to declare a conflict of interest.

Peter Dutton has led the charge, announcing that Senator Thorpe must leave Parliament because ‘you can’t receive those briefings during the day and then hang out, you know, in nice circumstances of a night-time with a bikie.”

Now some Victorians may wonder why Mr Dutton was silent about the Victorian Liberal leader sharing lunch with someone who has alleged links to organised crime, but to be fair, Mr “Family” Guy assures that he had no idea who was at the lunch and if he’d known he’d have made sure it was a lot more discreet.

Anyway, there’s no suggestion that Senator Thorpe actually leaked any information to Dean Martin who – for the benefit of older readers – is not the same Dean Martin who used to be Jerry Lewis sidekick in movies until they went their separate ways. However, when one is in certain positions, there should be no potential conflict of interest that isn’t declared. Once unit’s declared people can make up their own minds. For example, if I were a minister and I’d happened to get one of my staffers pregnant, it’s fine to get her a promotion as long as I say something along the lines of: “She and I have been having quite a good time of it on the office desk but I think it’d be good if she moved somewhere else so I could actually get some work done.”

Senator Thorpe’s problem wasn’t that she had a brief relationship with a bikie; it was the fact that she didn’t declare it while she was serving on committees that were hearing sensitive information.

Of course, some of you are wondering how the Liberals can be so critical of the senator’s behaviour when they’ve been so firm on insisting that the proposed Integrity Commission shouldn’t be allowed to trash people’s reputations by holding public hearings. I believe the term, “Kangaroo Court” has been used on a number of occasions, demonstrating a certain lack of understanding of what the term actually means.

For the benefit of everyone, here is a definition from one online dictionary: an unofficial court held by a group of people in order to try someone regarded, especially without good evidence, as guilty of a crime or misdemeanour.

It would seem strange to call a legally constituted body which has its powers strictly defined and which cannot actually do more than recommend possible further action, a kangaroo court, but the Liberals have been known to do some very strange things.

Take Gladys Berijiklian, who suddenly resigned, even though “she hadn’t done anything wrong” apart from fall for a boundless cad who seduced her into diverting money in his electorate. This was rather strange behaviour, but perhaps she felt she was slipping as the kangaroo lawyer who questioned her had to constantly remind her of things that she’d forgotten to do, such as answer the question he just asked. With her faculties slipping, she may have felt it time to go while she was still on top.

It’s not like she did anything like Lidia Thorpe because her partner wasn’t a bikie. He just drove tractors very badly, often running over iPads and the like.

And then there was that time that they paid $30 million for land that was only valued at $3 million. There was no conflict of interest there.

Neither was there a conflict of interest when Dyson Heydon declared that he was unbiased and the fact that he was going to speak at a Liberal fundraiser didn’t make him ineligible to head the Royal Commission Into Embarrassing Labor And The Unions.

And when Scotty the Virtuous Globalist had his QAnon mate staying at Kirribilli House, well that was no problem because we all knew about it… eventually. And just because your best mate is head of QAnon Australia, well, you’re not responsible for anything that your mates do or say. Or as someone said about Peter Dutton, “Don’t judge him by what he’s said and done!”

You see, the Liberals believe in the individual, while Labor believes in the collective. This is why what anything a Liberal does is just an isolated thing, while anything Labor does is part of the whole left. And we can include the Greens in that because, even though the relationship between Labor and the Greens is more toxic than the one between Turnbull and Morrison, they’re apparently a “coalition”…

No, whatever criticism you may want to make about the Liberal Party, you certainly can’t accuse them of failing to adopt a consistent stand on things.

 

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Mature Educated Singles Nearby…

Ok, that was an ad that popped up.

I’m not sure why… It’s not like I’ve been on Tinder or looking at porn sites where glasses are a thing… Although I suspect that even if I was turned on by the idea of women wearing glasses during sex, I’d be a little bit disturbed in real life if a woman kept her glasses on for reasons that have to do with the whole myth of size being important… (In a typo of epic irony, spellcheck changed important to impotent…)

I guess that the reason that I felt compelled to share: “Mature Educated Singles Nearby” wasn’t simply for the lack of a comma between “mature” and “educated”, but was in fact for my great relief that somewhere nearby were people who were not only mature but also educated, even if their status as single was of no interest to me.

After all, I still remember when Tony Abbott announced that the adults were back in charge and I could help but hear that as: “I’m more mature than you are, so there!” and when someone like that is leader of a country it does make one despair about the level of maturity and education around.

Still give Tony Abbott his due: He is responsible for one of the greatest speeches ever made in the Australian Parliament.

I refer, of course, to the misogyny speech that Julia Gillard gave.

Now, a lot has been written about this speech on its tenth anniversary.

Some like to say that they didn’t get it at the time and they thought it was just her way of justifying the whole Peter Slipper thing…

But I thought at the time it was a bit like the original “mad as hell”, which is from a film called “Network” and is certainly worth a watch if you’ve never seen it. The line: “We’re mad as hell and we’re not going to take it anymore…” was pretty much what Julia was saying. Or to put it another way with the benefit of hindsight: “How dare this man – who will one day appoint himself as Minister for Women – lecture me on sexism? It’s like Hitler lecturing someone on anti-Semitism!”

Ah, Godwin’s Law… a big hi to Barnaby here and his suggestion that the Indigenous Voice to Parliament was reminiscent of the racism of Nazi Germany… Somehow I can’t really see the Voice leading to a massive genocide, so we’ll just have to agree to disagree on that one.

Anyway, Julia Gillard’s speech was dismissed by the Canberra Press Gallery as hypocritical and an attempt to distract from the fact that they needed Peter Slipper’s vote. Of course, none of those insightful insiders thought to mention that Peter Slipper had been a Liberal and there was something just a wee bit hypocritical about the Liberals suggesting that he had no right to be doing anything because of his sexist texts when he’d been a member of their party for years. There are only two conclusions one can draw here: Either they never noticed his attitudes when he was on their side (quite possible, given the lack of attention to detail the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government demonstrated), or they didn’t mind when he was voting with them.

Julia’s speech resonated with a lot of women because it probably reminded them of something in their own lives. I say, probably, because I’m a man and I shouldn’t be speaking on behalf of all those women. How the press gallery didn’t actually notice that she was genuinely angry after Abbott echoed Alan Jones disgusting suggestion that Gillard’s father “died of shame” is an indictment on how they view everything through a political lens and don’t understand that sometimes people will mean exactly what they’re saying. When politicians speak their mind, it’s impressive because it’s so rarely done. (Yes, I know someone’s going to bring Pauline Hanson into this but note that I said “speak their mind” and I think that disqualifies her!)

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve had another great example of the inability of the press gallery to apply Occam’s Razor and accept that what’s being said is actually what the politician means. When Labor were questioned about the Stage 3 Tax Cuts, the answer was always that there was no change to the policy, even though there was one suggestion that circumstances had changed since they were legislated. This was followed by a lot of speculation about how Labor were floating the idea of modifying them to test the reaction. Labor repeated that there was no change to the policy. Various groups from economists to welfare groups said that the country couldn’t afford them; very few people argued that they should be kept. Labor repeated that they had no plan to change them. Now the press is telling us that Labor backed off because of the poor reaction to the suggestion.

Interestingly, there doesn’t seem to be any thought to the idea that Labor may have briefly discussed whether they could do it before rejecting it straight away. There certainly hasn’t been a lot of negative reaction to the idea, apart from the Liberals and their propaganda merchants in some media outlets.

I don’t assume that the policy won’t change, but at the moment it seems like it’s another case of: “Let’s assume that we were right with what we predicted and the only reason it didn’t happen is because something different happened.”

Whatever, I’m waiting for the day that some of these “mature, educated” people are part of the press gallery, single or otherwise!

 

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Is Labor Stuck Between The Economic Reality And The Political Reality Or Has The Canberra Bubble Burst?

There’s something about the whole Stage 3 tax cut thing that reminds me of the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

For those of you who don’t remember it went something like this:

“Hand over your weapons of mass destruction or else!”

“We don’t have any. You made us get rid of them after the last Gulf War.”

“We don’t believe you. We’re going to send weapons inspectors in.”

“Ok, they won’t find anything.”

A little while later.

“The weapons inspectors haven’t found anything because you’ve hidden things and fooled them. Hand over your WMDs of we invade.”

“We told you. We don’t have any!”

After invasion, “Well, they certainly hid them well. Still it was good to get rid of that Hussein guy because he was an awful dictator who fooled us into thinking that Iraq had WMDs.”

The reason that Stage 3 tax cuts remind me of this is because Labor keep saying that they haven’t changed their policy while the media and the Opposition – which some days do seem like the same entity – keep asserting that Labor are considering a change of policy, so why aren’t they being honest and explaining exactly what their change of policy is.

Now, I’d just like to make the simple point that Labor would be foolish if they weren’t considering all options in the current economic circumstances, but with this particular change they have to weigh up making the correct economic call against the political fallout from a broken election commitment. And while they’re weighing that up, they HAVEN’T changed their policy and it’s pretty hard to come out and say we haven’t decided what we’ll do yet because we’re tossing up whether we should ignore the right thing in order to keep a promise we weren’t that keen on anyway.

Keeping promises isn’t always given the blessing of the media anyway. Here in Victoria, Dan Andrews went to the 2014 election promising that he wouldn’t be building the East-West link, so the Liberals quickly signed contracts in the period just before caretaker conventions kicked in. Was it the Liberals who were attacked by the media? No, it was Dan Andrews for wasting a billion dollars on something that didn’t get built. Nobody talked about sunk costs, opportunity cost and the fact that building the road would have committed Victorians for billions more and maybe those billions could have been better spent on something else.

Some people respected Andrews for keeping his promise, but one person I spoke to thought that he should have broken it. Not because of the billion dollars to break the contract, but because it was going to take twenty minutes off her commute to work.

And that’s the point with the Stage 3 tax cuts. The extent to which people care will largely be the extent to which they miss out. As Jack Laing is reported to have said: “In the race of life, always back self-interest, at least you know it’s trying.”

So, while we all agree that it’s important to keep promises, the extent to which we judge people depends on a whole range of things, but one of the most important things is how it affects us personally, For example, you’re unlikely to really care when I tell you that you can’t trust Sally because she promised to give me a foot massage in 1998 and I’m still waiting. It certainly won’t stop you giving her a job, if all her referees give her a glowing report.

So when politicians break election promises, they usually get away with it if it only affects a minority. For example, when they promise more resources for indigenous Australians to help close the gap, the majority might be a bit disappointed that it didn’t happen but when you balance that against the beaut, new sporting clubrooms the government built, well, it’s priorities, isn’t it? They can’t be expected to do everything…

Similarly, if Labor decide to keep the changes in the bracket where the tax drops from 32.5 cents to 30, then fiddle around with the bracket starting at $120,000 and lift it by a figure that covers enough people in that range, they can say screw you to those on $180,000 or more, the outrage of the few that are affected will just make them seem like they don’t appreciate how lucky they are to be on more money than the people who just got a tax cut. In fact, Labor could even raise the $180,000 to $200,000 just to show that they’re not really the Marxists that the Murdoch sabre rattlers would have you believe.

Whatever, I keep coming back to my fundamental point: Labor do not have a definite, confirmed position on the Stage 3 cuts yet, so the idea that they should make it very clear that they in the process of balancing good policy against political damage and they’ll let us know when they’ve decided which way they’re going is just naive.

After all, if you listen to Peter Dutton on “Insiders”…

You have my sympathy.

But as to the substance of what he was saying on the Liberal position when asked if the Liberals would go to the next election promising to reinstate them, if Labor changed the legislation, well, there wasn’t any. Substance, that is….

As he said when asked about what his policy would be at the next election for those earning more than $200k, “We will take a policy to the next election and when we’re successful at the next election, in government, we will honour it…”

So, he’s still committed to the cuts even if he’s not committed to stating exactly what the policy will be, if Labor change the legislation. Which is fair enough, if you’re the Liberal Party, because only the Labor Party should be forced to state what their plan is while they’re still working it out. And he’s committed to calling Labor liars at every opportunity, as well as suggesting that there’s a big rift between Albanese and Chalmers on the tax cuts. The Liberals are a “broad church”, but Labor have rifts.

Ah, just like the mainstream media I’ve spent all this time discussing something which hasn’t happened yet and I’ve completely ignored the story about how Mathias Cormann is stuffing up his job at the OECD and how 26 economists and academics have written an open letter expressing concern about how he has effectively shut down the New Approaches to Economic Challenges which they believe was working efficiently.

Yes, when Mathias left the Liberals to work at the OECD, he managed to reduce the competency of both groups. It’s really pretty amazing that a body like that could employ a man who didn’t even notice that he’d forgotten to pay “HelloWorld” for his holiday.

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Do The Saints Keep Losing Because Jesus’ Father Didn’t Marry His Mum…

Look I know that Essendon are the Bombers, but the Saints made a better headline and like the mainstream media I’m more concerned with sounding good than actually conveying accuracy in my headlines.

By the way, I loved the front page that I saw today: CHALMERS OFFENSIVE. I’m presuming that it was meant to be a play on the phrase “charm offensive” even though there’s no suggestion that the Treasurer is launching one. The paper managed to get easy with calling Dr Jim offensive without any link to what they’d written. Where’s “Mad As Hell” to use that one and say just a bit of fun, eh? The actual piece was about how abolishing the Stage 3 tax cuts was going to hit teachers, nurses and tradies. I could write a whole piece about how the Stage 3 tax cuts could be manipulated a bit so that, not only were they fairer, but they could be made less costly without abolishing them entirely. It’s interesting though, because the media is wildly speculating that Labor are “softening us up” for a change and then complaining bitterly about their broken promise… which mightn’t actually happen. Labor may actually mean it when they say that they intend to go ahead with them.

Whatever Labor end up doing, I’d like to suggest that while it’s good to keep promises, reassessing a situation closer to the time is always important. I’m sure that nobody would argue that Barry should keep his promise to drive his mum to church this Sunday even though it means dragging her out of the hospital where she’s on a respirator.

But before I got distracted by the whole tax cut thing, I was going to comment on that poor guy who lost his job because of his religious views, Now, if you read the original version of the Bible you may end up a wee bit confused…

No, not just because it was written in a foreign language…

Was it originally written in Hebrew, Latin or some other language?

Whatever, it certainly wasn’t written in English so there’s a whole range of things that may have been lost in translation.

Anyway, in case you haven’t followed the news, Andrew Thorburn was asked to resign from the job that he’d been given after an extensive search by Andrew himself, after which he concluded that the best person for the job was him. (Yes, yes, shades of Morrison, but stop interrupting and making me lose my train of thought!)

Andrew Thorburn has an impressive track record in the corporate world where he told the Banking Royal Commission that he had no idea what was going on and that dead people were being charged for financial advice that they weren’t receiving. In some cases, this was because they were dead, but as Mr Thorburn believes in life after death, he may not have seen it as a problem… unlike all the problems he acknowledged as problems even though he had no idea they were going on because he was just the CEO, so how could he be expected to know what was happening?

Let’s just pause a minute here and look at the way things are meant to work in a secular, inclusive society according to those outraged by Mr Thorburn’s sacking/resignation:

  • Nobody should exclude anyone from a job on the basis of their religion, unless the body doing the employing is religious itself, in which case they shouldn’t be forced to employ someone who doesn’t adhere to their values.
  • Nobody who’s religious should be excluded from a job based on the position of their religion on certain topics, even if that position is in direct conflict with some of the views of the organisation employing him, her or them.
  • Schools don’t open on Christmas Day, indicating a refusal to celebrate Christmas and all schools should be celebrating Christmas even if the teachers employed there have a religious objection.
  • Australia has the right to insist on certain values and people who don’t adhere to Australian values should go back to where they came from, even if their objection to the value is religious in nature.
  • If the people not adhering to Australian values happen to be non-migrants who are just doing things like calling January 26th Invasion day, then they should be sacked from any job they hold because they don’t appreciate how lucky they are, because if the British hadn’t invaded then it would have been the French and that would have been a bigger problem because most of us don’t speak French.

Peter Dutton thinks that Andrew Thorburn should be re-instated, and not just because Dan Andrews thought that removing him was a good idea. No, it’s like I said: religious institutions have the right to consider religious views when hiring and firing, but nobody else does.

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