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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.

“Hey, Bill, your son’s made a racist cartoon!” “Ok, well, he has to get a name somehow!”

When a friend asked me why I’ll read the Murdoch media if it’s left out on a bench when I know that it’s just full of illogical propaganda and hate-filled nonsense, I replied that I thought it good to hear what other people had to say even if I disagreed with them otherwise we’d simply be living in an echo chamber and nobody would ever change anyone’s mind.

“That’s ridiculous,” he replied.

“Why?” I asked. At which point he shouted that he didn’t have to explain himself to me and promptly blocked me on social media.

Ok, that’s not entirely true. I mean it didn’t actually happen to me but I’m sure that there’s someone out there who’s thinking that I must have been listening in to the argument they had with somebody they know.

I think it’s important to listen to all people for the simple reason that, unless somebody actually disagrees with them, they’ll go on thinking that everyone agrees with them… Apart from those idiots who should be shipped off to wherever it is that the people disagreeing with them should go.

At this point, I should add that there are people on both the left and the right are guilty of not considering the simple idea that they’ll be wrong about some things at some point in their lives. I know I’ve been wrong on at least two occasions but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, I’ve heard people on the left proclaim that I shouldn’t accept something because I read it the mainstream news, and while that’s true, I also believe that it’s foolish to reject everything that I read in the mainstream news. It’s possible to pick up information that’s factual true even when it’s presented through the medium of a biased media. I can accept, for example, that the moon landing happened and still not see it as a triumph of capitalism, particularly when it was a government program. It’s also possible to believe that Scott Morrison actually made an announcement about providing funding to something  without accepting the media narrative that this is the same as actually providing the money.

And so this idea that somehow the political correctness of the past few years has invented “cancel culture” and thanks to some humourless lefties, people are liable to have their lives ruined over the odd casual remark. Of course this completely overlooks how often the conservative forces have enacted their own form of cancel culture. They don’t need to boycott advertisers to get people taken off the air or removed from their jobs. Think Scott McIntyre who was sacked over his ANZAC tweets or Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Recall the furore over Annaliese van Diemen, Victoria’s Deputy Health Officer, comments comparing Captain Cook to Coronavirus which some on the right didn’t like because they didn’t think that Cook did that much harm, while others didn’t like it because it suggested that like Covid-19, the man was largely a myth created by people with a vested interest.

Whatever, we’ve had censorship for a long time and, while some may argue that they’re sovereign citizens and they have a right to do whatever they like including walk onto private property and tell people that they have no right to impose any conditions, it’s generally agreed that some things are just too offensive to be in the public arena. The only real debate is what these things actually are. Once upon a time a woman in a bikini would have been arrested for public indecency, but now we not only allow that, but there are even photos of Tony Abbott in speedos published in the newspaper where they made lead to nightmares in impressionable children… And while standards in this area have changed, we can all agree that a photo of Clive Palmer in budgie smugglers is argument for the return of the death penalty…

So, when Johannes (son of Bill) Leak has his offensive cartoon published in “The Australian” what should one do? I mean, it’s tempting to ignore it because he’s obviously trying to emulate his father and drum up a bit of publicity, and it’s hard to do that when you lack the talent to make perceptive observations with your cartoons so you have to resort to racism in the hope that you’ll actually attract the sort of outrage that will actually alert people to the fact that you are not your father even though you basically copying his style because you never developed one of your own.

Photo from Twitter (@KarenMMiddleton)

Yes, it’s tempting to just ignore it because you feel that outrage must be what he’s after because nobody could be stupid enough to think that it’s acceptable. Still something about the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.

And, like I said before, unless someone disagrees, people might actually think that nobody thinks what they’re saying is wrong.

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Why Are Those Ignorant, Ugly Trolls So Abusive?

Perhaps one of my favourite bits of irony is when journalists go on Twitter to complain about Twitter…

It’s true, of course, that there’s a lot of ignorant and abusive people on social media who spout opinions without evidence, attack defenceless people and generally lower the whole tone of debate. I can see why some journalists are upset by this because these amateurs are doing for free what journalists get paid to do.

I know, I know. When they ask Dan Andrews a question, ignore his answer and then ask the same question, they’re just holding politicians to account. When they ask politicians to prejudge the findings of an inquiry they’re just trying to get a scoop; they’re not attempting trial by media. And when they ask Andrews if he’ll resign, it’s a simple question. It’s not like those people asking for the government in Lebanon to resign. No, the people in Lebanon are seeking retribution when they talk about resignations…

So it seems to go something like this. Journalists are there to hold politicians to account, but it’s not the public’s job to hold journalists to account for anything whether the public feels that it’s an inappropriate line of questioning or a lack of balance in the holding of particular politicians to account. It’s up to journalists to make that decision and it’s quite frankly none of your business and if you should dare to comment on their decision-making processes, let alone their ethics, why you’re a troll whose putting at risk the whole democratic process. Why shouldn’t we let the Liberal Party write our questions for us? I mean, it saves the trouble of getting them to send them through via our editors. It’s the sort of efficiency that we need in these troubled times for the media. In fact, we should save a lot of time and just print the Coalition’s press releases verbatim…

It’s intrigued me for years the way that the media has gone along with the idea that the Labor party is omnipotent while the Liberals are largely a victim of circumstances. Think back at how various issues have been portrayed. The Liberals are still banging on about how Labor were responsible for the deaths under the Pink Batts scheme even though it was faulty work practices. “It was too rushed and they should have been better trained’, but when Robodebt deaths occur that was something that just couldn’t be helped because how is the government expected to know the consequences of putting people under pressure. Unemployment under Labor equals a weak economy while unemployment under the Gliberal party is because of all those work-shy people who’d rather live in poverty and take drugs.

And so Victorian Labor is at fault for the pandemic raising its head again because the security workers should have had better training and been told that when you’re in charge of a person under quarantine you’re not supposed to be exchanging bodily fluids with them. That’s the sort of specialised knowledge that could only come with an extensive and expensive TAFE course run by a Liberal donor.

And it’s thanks to Victorian Labor that the economy will take longer to recover. Josh Frydenberg told us so and he should know because he’s about to deliver his second budget and nothing in it is the fault of the government but the bringing forward of the tax cuts is all down to the superior economic management of the Glibs because the best way to bring the budget back into the black is to reduce your revenue stream.

Now I’m not saying that Labor are without fault or that the media have no right to criticise. I’m just suggesting that a little more even-handedness would be welcome. I mean, if they could just point out the irony of the party that spent so long talking about strong borders could even think of joining Clive Palmer’s High Court challenge to border closures, or at least ask the Federal government why they backed it and then withdrew, it might be a good start.

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Passing On Debt To The Grandchildren And Why Josh Will Be Able To Deliver A Surplus After The Next Election!

Now I heard something rather interesting recently. Somebody said that because of all the spending associated with the pandemic, it’d be impossible for the Liberals to deliver a budget surplus any time soon.  I started trying to explain to this person why they were wrong before realising the futility of what I was doing: Just like all those times I’ve shouted at the politicians, the person on the TV wouldn’t be able to hear me no matter how loudly I yelled.

So, because I couldn’t explain it to the guy who said it, I’m going to explain it to you. And, just like a politician, I’m going to use an analogy because if I started talking about actual macroeconomics, you’d straight away see that my argument had various counterarguments and nobody wants a debate when they start explaining things.

Let’s imagine that I’m a father which is pretty easy to do because I actually am one, but so that I’m using a hypothetical I’m going to imagine that I have two sons and two daughters rather than just the one son. For the purposes of ease, I’m going to refer to them as A, B, C and Trevor.

Let’s start with Daughter A. She has moved out of home and has a good job. Daughter B is still studying. Son C is travelling overseas on a gap year and like the two daughters totally irrelevant to my analogy, so we’re really just dealing with Trevor.

Trevor has just come to me and asked me for a $15,000 loan so that he can buy a car which would enable him to start a job in hospitality which he has been offered. The hours of work mean that public transport isn’t an option and taking Ubers would mean that it wasn’t worth working. I tell Trevor that I don’t actually have $15,000 but he points out that have a redraw facility on the mortgage and could easily raise the money. This is where I take a leaf out of the Liberals book and suggest that if I go into debt by accessing the redraw facility then my grandchildren will be paying off the debt and is that any way for him to start a family and before I can invoke the spirit of John Howard, Trevor interrupts me and points out that if he’s working, he’ll be able to pay me back starting at twenty cents in the dollar once he’s earning over $19,000 moving on to cents in the dollar once he hits $37,000 which just happen to be Australia’s income tax rates…

Anyway, Trevor convinces me to lend him the money and so, Trevor is now working and I have to pay an extra few hundred dollars in interest each year, and because I’m a fair sort of chap I decide that I have to give all my children a similar loan.

Now stick with this because this is where I make the point about the surplus. If we say that the borrowed sixty thousand is going to cost me about two thousand in interest when it comes time to do my personal budget for next year, the only difference between a surplus and a deficit is two thousand. The fact that I’ve borrowed and spent sixty thousand doesn’t come into play with next year’s budget beyond the interest I need to find. And because son C used the money instead of putting things on his credit card when on the gap year, that Daughter A used it to get into the housing market and the Daughter B used it to help pay her HECs debt means that my grandchildren are all in a potentially better financial position than they would have been if I’d stayed debt free and kept Trevor unemployed.

And, if any of my kids start paying me back because they’re better off financially or I decide that I can work more hours, then the sixty thousand has very little effect on next year’s budget at all. In fact, it may even help me have a surplus because I have more possible sources of revenue.

Which is exactly the way JobKeeper might work. Except that unlike my ungrateful non-existent children, people who work are obliged to pay tax.

So there you have it, economics by analogy. I know it’s a terribly flawed analogy but then so are all the ones about government’s putting things on the credit card and the idea that there aren’t times when you shouldn’t spend more than you earn. In theory plenty of people could borrow money at about three percent using equity in their home and purchase a diverse range of shares that would pay off the interest as well as growing in value. Yes, it’s a bit risky but people who make money don’t mind a bit of risk… that’s why you have so many people who write for the financial section of the papers calling for an early end to lockdown saying that we just have to let COVID-19 rip because lockdowns cause mental illness, isolation and depression that are unacceptable unlike when those things are caused by neoliberal economic policies.

So while Josh may not be able to deliver a surplus with his second budget, it won’t be that hard to deliver one after that unless he resorts to the supply side economics that caused the economic mess of the Fraser years. Of course, when his next budget will be is anyone’s guess given that he delivered his first one a month early and his second is scheduled to be six months late but, hey, it’s not like you need to do it on a fixed date every year. Why not just do the Federal Budget whenever it suits?

I hope my actual son doesn’t read this or I may have to lend him the money for a car just to show that I’m not playing favourites with his imaginary siblings…

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“When It Rains Everyone Gets A Rising Tide To Lift All Boats!” says Scott Morrison

Let’s begin by giving our PM a big round of applause for cutting short his Queensland trip. I know he deserves one because most of the stories in the media were about how he had to rush back to Canberra to deal with the crisis in Viictoria’s aged care, but I don’t know why he was in Queensland travelling around in the midst of this pandemic but I presume he had a good reason or why else would he be doing it? The bit that is hardest to explain is why he rushed back to Canberra which is too unsafe for everyone else to travel to, when the crisis was in Victoria.

Once back in Canberra, Scotty the Saviour…

Apparently that’s his name now. In case you missed it, last week he was at the beach and a woman fell and injured herself but the Saviour was on hand and he sent one of his men to help before coming over himself and laying his hands upon her at which point she was able to walk again after feeling his power…

Anyway, back in Canberra the Saviour was able to quickly explain the situation in aged care facilities:

  • The challenges are not unique to Australia so don’t try and blame the Federal Government who is responsible for the regulation of aged care.
  • It’s inevitable that Covid-19 will get into aged care facilities because of the high rate of community infection.
  • It’s being brought in by staff and not spontaneously appearing in the residents who are under lockdown and not allowed to leave.
  • Brendan Murphy still agrees with Morrison even though he’s no longer CMO but he’s always available for a press conference.
  • “When it rains, everyone gets wet.” This I presume is because the profit motive is so strong and the regulations so lax in Aged Care Facilities that there’s no necessity to fix the holes in the roof.

Of course, that last point he made is a bit of a cliche that comes from the financial markets. It’s something like “A rising tide lifts all boats”, which was one of the justifications for Reaganomics and Thatcherism and the idea that tax cuts for the rich will trickle down in much the same way that rain gets everybody wet. However, neither thing works the way that the saying suggests that it should. For a start, many people choose to stay home until the rain stops and others have an umbrella. Similarly, while it’s nice to think that a rising tide lifts all boats, some have leaks and just sink while the vast majority of people don’t own a boat at all and consequently won’t be lifted by the tax cuts to the richest people in our community. This is true on both a symbolic and a literal level. Of course, the other problem with the whole cliche is that the tide rises and falls on a daily basis, so the inference I draw is that tax cuts may increase the height of those lucky enough to have a good boat but before long the tide will fall and everything will return to the way it was.

And speaking of the way it was, it was certainly strange to see our Treasurer’s nostalgia for Thatcherism and Reaganomics. His idea that they were successful was even more odd. Thatcher increased unemployment and Reagan massively increased America’s debt. Although given his record as Treasurer so far, you’d have to say that he’s certainly succeeded in his aim to use them as role models!

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Lives Matter! But Some Lives Are Expendable…

I saw a post on social media which said: “Blue Lives Matter!” Now, I presumed that they weren’t making a plea for blankets for the cold; I presumed that they were suggesting that we should support the police… Ok, the police no longer dress in blue in my state, but old habits die hard.

Anyway, taking a leaf from the book of the people. who aren’t-racist-but, I responded to it with the conciliatory, “All Lives Matter!” Strangely, this did not go down well. Apparently the people who think that all lives matter think that if you write “All lives matter!” when they’ve just said that blue lives matter then you’re suggesting that blue lives aren’t important but when you write “All Lives Matter” on a BLM post you’re doing it to specifically show how non-racist you are…

Yes, I’m confused too. This is even more confusing than Morrison’s decision to keep Parliament closed after telling us that we couldn’t hide under the doona forever. At least that was simple enough to understand. That was like when your boss tells you that he has special privileges. “You can’t hide under the doona,” he tells you, “but I can, because I’m the one making up the rules.” Ok, once upon a time it was Parliament which voted on the rules, but we don’t have time for that. I mean, that’s far too risky these days. Things might not get through the Senate…

And it was even more confusing to try to understand Albanese’s response, which was basically that Labor would agree to shut down Parliament, even though they don’t like the idea, however,  they won’t oppose it because they want to be a constructive Opposition and not one that behaves like Tony Abbott. This is only confusing because it seems to be what Labor keeps saying this to every proposal that the Liberals make, and I’m confused as to why they haven’t noticed that Kim Beasley tried the same approach and lost both times, but Abbott went close in one election and actually won the other.

It was even more confusing than the government giving Murdoch $10,000,000 to promote sports that are being ignored by the ABC who stopped broadcasting them because they had their budget cut. Or rather, when they didn’t have their budget cut because they only didn’t get as much money as they were supposed to, which isn’t a cut because they didn’t get less money. They just didn’t get the increases that would have enabled them to continue with the services. Using this logic, it seems that the proposed tax cuts aren’t tax cuts… Anyway, it’s confusing that you give funding to the place where the audience will be limited to subscribers if you want to promote these sports.

It was even more confusing than finding out that Phil Gaetjens only interviewed Bridget McKenzie and the head of Sports Australia in the far-reaching probe into the sports rorts ordered by Scotty Morrison. Sort of reminded me of good old Alex Downer’s response when the AWB scandal became public which went something like, “Well, we’d heard the rumours, but we went and asked them were they doing anything wrong and they said that they weren’t so we left it at that!”

It was even more confusing than when I realised that Quidditch makes no mention of Trainers, so where did Morrison get the JobTrainer idea from? For those of you unfamiliar with Harry Potter, Quidditch is played between opposing teams of seven players. There are three Chasers, two Beaters, the Keeper and the Seeker. I was expecting JobChaser or JobBeater, but where did he get the idea for JobTrainer. Furthermore, the Chaser’s role is to keep the Bludgers away from their team members who are trying to score with the Quaffle… No, the Quaffle is a type of ball not what you hear at Scotty’s press conferences.

But the most confusing thing of all is that – unlike when Labor propose anything about tackling climate change – the Coalition have created the biggest deficit in history and massively increased government debt, but all that anybody seems to be saying is that it’ll take years to pay off completely overlooking the fact that a large chunk of government debt is bonds which are expected to take years before they’re due to be cashed…

Speaking of cash, I was particularly annoyed about Morrison’s comment that the public understands that we can’t keep burning cash on JobSeeker, JobKeeper and JobBludger. Ok, he didn’t say the last one but it was implied.

For a start, it is NOT cash. It may seem like a picky point, but cash is limited whereas government money isn’t. I’m not going to get into an argument about Modern Monetary Theory here because it’s nearly the end of my piece and there’s only a limited number of words that I can write because that’s the way writing works. I can’t just keep burning up words because they’ll cause debt and…

Yes, that makes no sense. But that’s exactly the way the government talks about money. Probably the best analogy I could give is to think of government money like sex. Yes, there probably are limits to the amount of sex that people can have, but most people are nowhere near finding out what they are…

However, it wasn’t just the economic illiteracy of Morrison’s comment; it was the idea that helping people survive and eat and put a roof over their head was “burning cash” which suggests that it’s being wasted. I sort of picture Scotty standing over a relative’s hospital bed and suggesting that we can’t keep throwing money away when we don’t know how long they’ll need on life-support.

Whatever, it’s been quite a week.

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Jobs, Jobs, Jobs or “More Miracles For Morrison!”

In the beginning there was JobSeeker and Morrison looked out on the land and saw that a great pestilence was likely to put so many people on JobSeeker that it would look worse than the Great Depression. “Behold”, said ScoMoses, “I give you JobKeeper which will make it easier for people to go back to their jobs in September when the miracle occurs and we snap back to normal.”

And the people saw that it was good and praised their leader until some people asked what was going to happen if the miracle didn’t happen. “Trust me,” said ScoMoses, ‘have I ever been wrong before?” But before anyone could say, schoolsaresafe, Morrison the Miraculous Marketer told them: “Behold, not only do you have JobSeeker and JobKeeper, but I give you JobMaker and soon, I will add its younger brother, JobTrainer.” 

Verily, when one journalist did not play by the rules and asked if there was difference between the final two, he was taken to a place of exile and told that his premise was rejected. 

While some people are mocking this focus on jobs, it’s worth remembering that the government promised that they’d be all about jobs and growth when they first came to power back in 2013… I know that it’s confusing because we have had three Prime Ministers, three Deputy PMs, three Treasurers and the occasional Science minister jumbled in with another portfolio such as Trade or the Arts, but it is all the same government. And yes, it does seem reminiscent of people who keeps changing their name in the hope that the lawsuits won’t catch up with them, but let’s give credit where credit is due… Of course, demand cash upfront from those shops who keep putting up the “Under New Management” sign every few weeks.

What’s the difference between JobMaker and JobTrainer, you ask? Is this another example of the government re-announcing something and acting like it’s new when there’s no substantial difference and no extra funding?

Personally, I think we have to commend the government for keeping the focus on jobs when they could have so easily been distracted into worrying about the health of people. After all, the best form of welfare is a job and isn’t people’s welfare tied to their health and vice versa. When the Liberals came to power they were mocked for their three-word slogans and I understand that they’ll go into the next election with banners saying:

“MORRISON: MORE THAN SLOGANS!”

Following on from the success of the name change of NewStart to JobSeeker, which did actually acknowledge that it wasn’t a new start but a perpetual seeking of jobs, and the success of JobKeeper which was all about the Liberals attempt to hide the real unemployment figures so that they could Keep their Jobs, we’ll be heading into the next election with a bigger focus on jobs than ever before.

Word has it that the following programs are in the pipeline to be announced as we approach the next election:

  • JobPeeker – This is a new form of internship where you won’t be considered unemployed, but you’ll still get benefits in return for going to a forum and watching other people work. This will be completely different from
  • JobPeaker – When you are given a job on a board somewhere because you’re an ex-Liberal minister who’s way past their peak in terms of ability but not in terms of being overpaid for very little input. In some cases, you’re being paid to not give input to stories about all the government secrets. This is merely a renaming of the old Jobsfortheboys, acknowledging that Amanda Vanstone and various other non-boys are now eligible.
  • JobSneaker – Where you are required to demonstrate how hard you are looking for work by proving how far you’ve walked using the wear and tear on your shoes as evidence.
  • JobTasker – This is where you’ll be asked to design a job that you could do if only existed. It doesn’t matter that it doesn’t or won’t. The important thing is that you’ll be off the unemployment list because you are a JobTasker.
  • JobMasker – This is not wearing a mask in public as a good role model. This is a program that will employ hundreds of thousands for one hour a week so that they don’t appear on the unemployment list.
  • JobLover – Under this scheme, you’ll be required to show that even though you’ve been longterm unemployed, that you really love working and want to work by being required to demonstrate your love of volunteering for a Liberal party donor.
  • JobSafe – This is similar to the CovidSafe app. ABC journalists and public servants will be required to download an app which lets the government know if they’ve been in contact with any government critics. This app will be marketed as keeping their job safe, but like the CovidSafe app, it won’t actually work.

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How The Black Lives Matter Protest Enables Me To Drink And Drive

It seems that Dan Andrews has stuffed up by allowing a protest to go ahead. I know this because every second person interviewed by the media is telling me so.

The other interviewees are concentrating instead on the poor management of the hotel quarantine. Apparently it’s not a good idea to use a private security firm to look after people unless they’re looking after people on Manus and Nauru. And apparently the guards weren’t trained properly so that they didn’t realise that the people under quarantine would have to follow the same social distancing rules as everyone else in the community. No, for once, the Liberals are outraged that a private company was used instead of the public service!

Of course, this lack of training and basic common sense from the security guards is Dan Andrews fault and he should resign because when you employ someone to do a job and they stuff up, then you should take responsibility and resign. Remember how Angus Taylor resigned when someone is his office stuffed up? Oh, that’s right, the AFP said it was all ok because someone said sorry. Ok, well Michaelia Cash? When that guy tipped off the press about the raid and… Oh, that’s right he moved on and she stayed.

All right, this is different because it’s a Labor premier and we all know that Labor are responsible for everything that happens under their watch while the Liberals are totally irresponsible.

Perhaps I’m slow, but I’m still yet to understand how the Black Lives Matter protest was Andrews’ fault. He did ask people to not protest, but that wasn’t enough. Apparently he should have stopped it. Exactly how you stop a protest I don’t know. And surely police arresting people when they refuse to cooperate would have been more likely to spread the virus than simply allowing them to march.

Whatever, it wasn’t stopped and so even though there were only one or two cases from the actual march, it was the effect on the people doing the right thing. Apparently, all those people who were doing the right thing said, “If those people can get away with that, then why should we stay at home? Let’s stop using hand sanitiser and masks. Let’s all go out and shake hands with as many people as possible!”

Yes, I remember how I felt when Peta Credlin got off her drink driving charge. I remember saying to myself: Fuck safety. I’m going to drink copious amounts of alcohol before I get into my car because the only reason I’ve had for not doing that it the fear of getting fined. No, it hasn’t been the concern for my own safety or the safety of others, it’s only been the fact that I felt that everybody had to abide by the same rules but after Credlin, I’ve decided that if the rules aren’t going to apply in every case, then I’m free to do what I like and it’s all George Brandis’ fault for writing her that letter to show to the magistrate!

No, I didn’t think that at all, and it’s certainly a worry if anyone actually decided that just because we had a protest that risked people’s safety then they should be free to ignore all the health requirements…

So, if I put the narratives about the recent Covid-19 surge being all Dan Andrews’ fault together we end up with this:

There was a protest and some security guards who were so badly trained that they didn’t know not get too close to the people they were guarding or let them go shopping. The security personnel who thought they were just there to open the doors and to share cigarette lighters and bodily fluids, noticed that the BLM protesters weren’t fined so they decided to stop social distancing because it just wasn’t fair!

Mm, perhaps I should send that off to Rupert. He might be able to find me work as a replacement for one of his columnists, or if he can’t afford to pay me, he might be able to arrange for me to get preselection for a safe Liberal seat!

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In Amazing Shock Eden-Monaro Votes Pretty Much How It Did A Year Ago!

Let me begin by saying that not only has Roger Federer never beaten me at tennis, but Tiger Woods has never won a round of golf against me.

Ok, I suspect the main reason for that is because they’ve never competed against me, but if they did they’d probably win… But they’d only win by the fact that the rules benefit them by allowing them to use their superior skill.

Sort of like the unfair way Labor won on preferences in Eden-Monaro… Or the shifty way that Julia Gillard was allowed to govern in 2010 by forming a coalition with the Independents and Greens. As Tony Abbott suggested at the time, that just wasn’t fair because only the Liberals and Nationals are allowed do that. Why they even call themselves the Coalition so it’s really not fair when someone else does it.

Of course the point I’m making about Federer’s lack of success against me is simple: It’s really not something that tells you anything about a likely result in the future. Sometimes history can help you predict what’s likely to happen; other times history is irrelevant. The fact that no federal government has won a seat from the Opposition in over a hundred years is not a statistic that makes it impossible. Before we conclude that it’s all uphill for a government we need to look at some simple facts about by-elections and why it’s unlikely for a government to win a seat held by the Opposition.

  1. For a start, the seat was previously held by the Opposition. This means that sometimes it would be a blue ribbon seat that wasn’t marginal and therefore unlikely to be lost.
  2. Secondly, governments sometimes don’t bother to field candidates in by-elections because there’s very little upside and it can look bad when there’s a massive swing against them.
  3. By-elections aren’t likely to cause a change of government so people often feel free to vote for the Opposition candidate just to keep the government on its toes. By-elections are even less likely to cause a change of government when you vote for the status quo.
  4. While the government can pork-barrel in general elections, when they do it in by-elections, it’s more likely to be met with cynicism. “If you really think we deserve gold-plated public toilets on every street corner, why didn’t you do it before the local MP resigned?”

So while last week various journalists were telling us that Eden-Monaro would be a tight contest, now the same journalists seem to be suggesting that it was probably a waste of time that the Liberals even bothered to field a candidate when history was taken into account. It’s amazing, apparently, that it was a close contest and that’s thanks to the popularity of Scott Morrison, while Labor winning a marginal seat on preferences is just a reflection of Albanese’s lack of cut-through and surely there needs to be leadership speculation because we need to talk about what Labor are up to because they’ve been in power for six of the previous twenty-four years and they may one day actually be contesting an election which they can’t win because we’ve been telling you for years that their leader is “unpopular”…

I know I’ve said this before, but the question on the opinion polls is never “Do you like Leader X?” It’s not even: “Would you like to share the Big Brother house with Leader X?” And it’s certainly not: “Do you regard Leader X as a potential romantic partner or friend?”

The question is always about whether you approve of the job they’re doing or whether you think that they’re better than other alternatives. In the case of the latter, asking someone whether they’d prefer to eat Brussel sprouts covered with cow dung or being forced to listen to all the speeches of Pauline Hanson non-stop for twelve hours, it does not mean that cow dung Brussel sprouts are actually popular and I wouldn’t suggest using the dish as an audition for Masterchef.

In 2013, I’m sure that many Labor voters wanted Albanese instead of Shorten as leader because of Shorten’s role in the removal of Rudd and then Gillard. And yes, they probably also thought he’d do a better job. However, I suspect that if you asked a bunch of Labor members now whether they found Albo more likeable than Shorten, followed by do you think he’s doing a better job as Opposition Leader, the answers would not be the same for each question.

Morrison’s “popularity” is people saying that they think he’s done a reasonable job with the Covid-19 response. It doesn’t mean that they’ll forgive him the next time he decides to do something like go on holiday during a national emergency. And it’s not the sort of popularity which will necessarily translate into votes.

Why did so many people in Eden-Monaro vote Liberal then? Well, there’s a number who believe that the Labor Party is the work of the devil and it would be better for all concerned if we did away with these silly elections and just declared the Liberals the rightful party of government. Undoubtedly some others may have thought that the Liberals are the government so the best way to get assistance is to elect a government MP. And, of course, a number of the electorate are connected with Defence and may have only voted Labor because Mike Kelly was their sort of guy. When you take all that into consideration, getting less than forty percent of the primary votes isn’t actually great news for them either.

Finally, I’d like to say farewell to Mathias Cormann. Not just him of course, but he’s a least doing the decent thing and deserting the ship. His steady hand on the Finance ministry has helped get Australia where it is today. Yes, I know that we’re about to slide into recession but, according to Nine media, the economy will bounce back. Ok, not in terms of jobs or wages, but that economy thing which I would have thought included jobs and wages but no, in keeping with the austerity theme, it’s only growth these days – jobs is being cut from the slogan.

Apparently the Liberals have a five-year plan to restore things, which given the fact they’ve been in power for seven years does seem a little late. “Yes, we’re into the ninth year of our five year plan!” seems a little bit like the Carlton Football Club which coincidently has had quite a few Liberals as members so perhaps they’ve picked up something.

However, it’s good to have a five-year plan because that means that when they go to the next election, they can say that we’re completely on track because we didn’t expect things to be fixed until after the election when we’ll be BACK IN BLACK and there’ll be two chickens for every pot and nobody need go without toilet paper.

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Morrison Government Burning Money And Destroying Our Children’s Future!

It’s really unfortunate that Covid-19 has hit during a Coalition government. I mean, normally economic shocks occur when Labor is in power. The oil crisis of the 1970s, the world-wide recession of the eighties and the GFC were all used to beat Labor over the head. It’s almost like the Liberals were able to say, “Here take the wheel!” just before an upcoming storm, then take control of the ship when the waters were smooth. This time, however, Labor dodged the bullet and lost an election they were widely expected to win.

Now I’m not suggesting that Scott Morrison winning was a good thing. I’m just approaching this with all the objectivity of Dyson Heydon when he decided that he didn’t have to disqualify himself as Head of the Royal Commission into Union Corruption, because he wasn’t biased… And who would be in a better position to judge than the judge judging himself. No, I’m simply looking at this with complete objectivity…

Although reading Alexander Downer’s tweet this morning, I’m shocked to find that I’m a political opponent. According to the big Downer:

“I’m going to advise the government not to participate in #QandA. One minister and all the rest are political opponents…”

Isn’t it cute how Alex thinks anyone would take his advice? As for the composition of the QandA panel, there was performing arts representative, a youth advocate, as well as Sue Morphett whose profile showed her socialist credentials: “Sue currently holds non-executive directorships with Arnott’s Biscuits Limited, Asaleo Care Limited, and Mosaic Brands Limited, she is a member of the Corporate Council for the European Australian Business Council (EABC).”

Mm, while Bill Shorten could reasonably be described as a political opponent, the fact that Alex thinks these people are opponents says heaps about the Liberals us and them view of the world. Whether you support Labor, The Greens, Clive Palmer, Pauline Hanson or the local cricket club who wants to know why they missed on funding, you’re a political opponent. Or perhaps the best way to define it: Unless you’re a donor then you’re some sort of leftie…

Anyway, we have the rather unusual spectacle of the Coalition having to deal with difficult economic times. Unlike Labor, who seem to be responsible for everything that happens while they’re in power, the current government constantly suggests that everything was hunky-dory and this Covid-19 is a setback that wasn’t anything to do with them, so let’s all ignore all economic indicators and just give them a big pat on the back for the fact that they actually understood that keeping unemployment benefits at starvation levels would have led to the sort of collapse that made the Great Depression resemble a Gatsby party. Couple that with their realisation that they needed something like JobKeeper so that we wouldn’t actually notice that the true employment numbers actually make the GFC look like boom times.

Yes, the government has been generous. Announcing billions in funding for this and that, in the hope that the new announcement will make the public less concerned with the fact that the previous announcements haven’t been fully delivered. Or, in some cases, haven’t even been partially delivered…

Of course, this generosity can’t last. We can’t have people not wanting to work. In fact, anecdotally, somebody said that they’d be a fool to work for less money than they’re getting for staying at home, so logically we need to cut payments to everyone because we don’t want to have a situation where some people are happy not to work and only those who actually need or want a job are the ones working.

Yes, it may seem strange to some of you that we’d be concerned about the people who don’t want to work when there are more willing workers than jobs. This would be like a concert promoter being concerned because there were only a thousand people unable to get into the venue instead of the ten thousand who caused the crush which killed a few dozen people the week before. The idea that some people might be content to stay at home during this pandemic and not want to go out… I mean, the message may have been stay at home but we didn’t want you to like the idea!

We can’t afford to keep paying people for doing nothing and I’m not just talking about most of the Coalition front bench here. Ok, we don’t have jobs for everyone but the least that those who miss out could do is feel depressed and miserable about it. At least that way, the numbers of unemployed may go down because they give up looking for a job and don’t get counted any more.

And yes, some of you are going to ask if anecdotal evidence is any way to inform government policy? Well, there’s a simple answer to that which is: “I reject the premise of your question…” With any luck the person asking it won’t follow up by asking which premise, the idea that only anecdotal evidence is being used or the idea that the government has policies and isn’t just lurching from announcement to announcement in the hope that we’ve all forgotten about the notional bushfire fund?

If that doesn’t work, the response should be: “I find that a pretty offensive question…” So far no journalist has thought to respond with, “That’s a pretty offensive answer,” so it’s pretty much a great way from distracting from the central idea.

And if all else fails, use the ABC cuts tactic and deny reality completely. “Just say that there are no cuts and people on unemployment benefits are given more than enough to live on.” This is actually true. The forty dollars a day would enable someone to live in luxury if they were only able to time travel back to the 1930s or move to a country where most people are subsisting on less than two dollars a day.

So don’t worry about anything. The future is bright now. We’re getting ships and long-range missiles. That should solve all our problems. But don’t ask where the money’s coming from. That’s only a question for when we need to tackle climate change.

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Sexual Harassment Is Only A Problem For Victims…

Barry – G’day.

Garry – G’day. Can I buy you a drink?

Barry – Gees mate, you’re lucky I’m not a woman!

Garry – Why?

Barry – Didn’t you hear about Simon at work? He’s been done for sexual harassment…

Garry – Yeah but he denies it.

Barry – Yeah but does he strenuously deny it?

Garry – Does it matter? I mean he denies it…

Barry – Nah, nah mate. You’ve got to look at all these celebrities which I’m not going to name for legal reasons but lets just call them Tom, Dick and Harry. Now, take Tom…

Garry – Where am I taking him?

Barry – You’re not taking him anywhere because he’s in jail. Anyway, he emphatically denied the accusations of sexual assault and he ended up in jail.

Garry – Ok, well, that’s all very well, but where’s me drink?

Barry – Oh sorry. Two beers, please…

Garry – So he denied it and ended up in jail. What’s your point?

Barry – No, I need to move on to the other two before I make my point. Take Dick…

Garry – I’d rather not thanks.

Barry – Well, that’s the point, isn’t it? Dick was a bit insistent after a few drinks but when he was accused of doing something wrong, he categorically denied it, so his mates understood and just told him to watch his drinking. Whereas Harry strenuously denied it and they thought, what a guy and gave him a promotion, because we like strong men who are strenuous…

Garry – Yeah but I don’t see how this relates to Simon.

Barry – Well, it’s his whole lack of an adverb to go with his denial. Now it’s true that if you choose the wrong adverb you can end up in jail. I mean, emphatically merely means that you’re giving your denial emphasis, so it’s really no better than a simple Simon like denial. It’s like shouting; “Not Guilty!’ when they ask you how you plead. It just makes you look guilty, but when you use a word like categorically, it shows that you’re educated because you know that categorically means without doubt or without any possibility of being changed. Someone using the word “categorically” has a fine legal mind, and they’re sort of saying; “Don’t fuck with me!”

Garry – Which is sort of ironic, given what they’ve been accused of.

Barry – Let’s not go down the irony path here. I still haven’t explained Harry.

Garry – Isn’t he now in charge of the free world?

Barry – No, Harry isn’t actually Donald Trump…

Garry – Speaking of Donald, did you see what he did with one hand the other day?

Barry – You mean when he drank that glass of water?

Garry – No when he made that little white supremacy sign just before he drank the water.

Barry – I’m sure it wasn’t. He was just doing the; “I’m ok” so that his minders knew that he was ok to drink the water unaided.

Garry – Ya reckon?

Barry – Of course. Surely the Americans wouldn’t elect a racist.

Garry – Just someone who was too ignorant to know what the hand signal meant.

Barry – Exactly. Anyway, when anyone says that they strenuously deny something, it means that they’re prepared to fight anyone who says it.

Garry – While someone who says categorically has a fine legal mind and they think they’ll win in court because they have lots of friends who’re probably thinking there but for the grace of God…

Barry – Yep, that’s pretty much it.

Garry – Yeah but what about that guy in Melbourne. He strenuously denied accusations and then was suddenly too ill to be interviewed or continue as mayor.

Barry – Yeah, well I don’t think we should comment on specific people here but clearly strenuously and I’m too stressed don’t go well together. I think we should move back to the point that without a strong adverb, Simon is toast.

Garry – But won’t he be able to cross-examine the people making the complaint?

Barry – It’s not a court of law. I mean, if this was a criminal case, then Simon would be given every opportunity to intimidate the witnesses in open court, but this is just an internal enquiry and they’ll want to keep it all hush-hush, so Simon will probably given a large redundancy and he’ll move on to a job somewhere else. Poor guy.

Garry – What about his accuser?

Barry – Accusers.

Garry – Yeah. I mean, it’s not going to be very pleasant knowing that they could come after us at any moment just because we make some innocent moment where we admire their clothes or ask them to take them off because we don’t like them.

Barry – Yeah, I imagine they’ll be sent to other branches so that they don’t have to face the ignominy of people know that they’re responsible for Simon having to move on to another job.

Garry – I’ll miss Simon.

Barry – Emphatically.

Garry – Categorically.

Barry – Strenuously.

Garry – My shout!

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We Can’t Change Our History, But We Can Make It More Expensive!

When the Prime Minister made the bold assertion that there was no slavery in Australia, many were quick to point out his poor knowledge of our history forcing Morrison to correct himself. Of course, many people would have left it as that, but not our leader.

No, we can’t have all these elites telling the PM that he’s wrong, so he sprung into action and doubled the price of doing a Humanities course at university. That’ll teach those smart-arises to correct him.

Not that there isn’t some merit to ensuring that, when you undertake a large debt to become educated, you are able to find a job which will enable you to repay it. After all, the government recently received a lot of flack over Robodebt where they demanded money from people who couldn’t pay it back. Although Robodebt had the extra complication that they were demanding money with menace from people who didn’t actually owe the money, which would be illegal were it not for the fact that they’re a Coalition government and laws do not apply to them unless the AFP has a sudden urge to do something beyond raiding journalists, Labor senators and other enemies of the state or tweeting jokes.

No, some Arts graduates have no prospect of useful employment. Take Dan Tehan: He completed an Arts Degree with Honours and what possible job is he fit for outside politics… or inside politics, come to that.

Yes, all that rhetoric about our history being important and not pulling down statues because you can’t change history doesn’t apply when talking about studying history. Yes, we need to learn about and celebrate Western civilisation, but we can do that by looking at the statues of bygone colonial masters… And by masters, I don’t mean to suggest that they had slaves. Just people who understood the economics of “opportunity cost”, which means the benefits a person passes up when choosing one course of action over another. In the case of various explorers, this referred to the fact they were passing up the opportunity cost of staying in the comfort of their own land and working for a steady income. In the case of the various people who choose to work for the explorers in a total non-slavery way, the choice to work gave up the opportunity cost of being thrashed or shot.

But enough about economics because, like history, that’s one of the courses that’s going to cost more. Law degrees are also going up in cost.

It’s almost like the government doesn’t see the value of more people learning about history, economics and law…

I guess that’s because they’ve had so many people like Andrew Bolt and other Murdoch commentators who’ve managed to become experts in just about everything without actually obtaining a degree.

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PM Scotty Joins The Commentary Team!

I heard something interesting today. Scott Morrison was on 2GB telling voters:

“Anthony Albanese has been totally burned by this scandal. We’re fighting for jobs, they’re fighting each other.”

Yes, it’s a fairly unremarkable statement were it not for the number of times I heard him tell interviewers that he wasn’t a commentator when asked about such things  poor opinion poll numbers. It’s been a fairly consistent line from a lot of politicians when they can’t simply “reject the premise of the question”.

So one must presume that from this moment on, Mr Morrison is a commentator and will be doing a running commentary on a whole range of topics. For example, if Judge Flick finds Peter Dutton guilty of contempt of court just because he’s that the judge’s ruling is wrong and treating with contempt, will Commentator Morrison tell us:

“This is outrageous. We can’t have a duly elected member of the government being asked to comply with the law. If this becomes a precedent there’s no telling where this will end up. You’ll have the AEC telling people to take down signs just because they’re purple and containing misinformation. We’ll have employers going to jail just because they’ve deliberately held back money from their workers in order to buy a ticket to a Liberal fundraiser. This is the end of democracy as we know it.”

Instead of getting on with the job of creating jobs, will he instead devote his time to telling us all what a great job his government is doing at the business of announcing really, really good policies and how good they are and how Labor are the party of negativity because they see it as a bad thing that almost none of the announcements are leading to actual money being spent? Will he tell us that – in spite of the worst unemployment figures in years, the highest debt ever, their inability to actually deliver a surplus and a massive costing mistake – the current government is a great economic manager because it would be worse if it wasn’t for their skill at making announcements.

Oh wait, that one already happens.

Perhaps he’ll begin to comment on the election chances of Donald Trump and say that his idea of solving the Covid-19 problem in the US by not testing is a sure vote winner and it’s something that could be used in Australia with the same likelihood of success.

Or maybe he’ll tell us what a great job Boris has done with Brexit and what a good idea it is for a country to close its borders…

Actually, don’t get me wrong. I think Brexit is a damn fine thing, albeit too little, too late. I mean, the idea that the British people want to exit from the EU is a fine thing, but many, many countries in the world probably wish that Britain had exited from their country before they even got there.

Take India.

Yes, that’s what somebody told the British generals and so they did. And there they stayed until the Indians kicked them out.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Any minute now, Alexander Downer is going to Tweet that you should think yourself lucky that the British were the ones to not invade Australia because if it was the French then you’d all be in trouble because nobody much speaks French. “I mean,” Alex will tell us, “I can, so I’d be ok, but the rest of you would just grow frustrated and need to be put out of your misery like all those aboriginal people who didn’t respect my grandfather’s property rights. Probably because the law was written in a language which they couldn’t read. And you’d be just like them if it laws were written in French…”

Anyway, it’s good to know that Scotty will be providing commentary from now on. I look forward to his take on such things as how the Liberals manage branch stacking when they don’t – as Malcolm told us – have factions. Or perhaps commentary on Bridget McKenzie’s skill that enables her to criticise Labor for inappropriateness, while keeping a straight face. I look forward to him providing a running commentary on exactly why he rejects the premise of any question that doesn’t suit him.

And I particularly look forward to his commentary when told about an upcoming leadership challenge or Liberal Party scandal…

No, I don’t know anything but it’s been over eighteen months since the last change of PM, so surely someone must start spreading rumours soon. And it’s been over a week since the last suggestion of Liberal Party corruption… Or clever politics, as the MSM refer to it.

Surely something must be about to happen.

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Black Lives Matter; All Lives Matter… Except During A Pandemic!

When I saw a headline about Peter “Uncle Fester” Dutton condemning the left for trying to rewrite history, I immediately thought it was the forerunner to a leadership challenge. While I personally wouldn’t call our PM leftwing, I do realise that I’m not Peter Dutton who would probably consider Albert Speer, a bleeding heart. But no, it wasn’t about Morrison’s suggestion that we didn’t have slavery in Australia, it was the actual left who keep insisting that history is subject to re-interpretation as new information comes to light, such as the idea that there were people living here before Captain Cook’s circumnavigation… Whoops, that was another one from Morrison.

Lord of Mt George, Alexander “A Real” Downer instructed us via Twitter: “Blackbirding may have been awful by today’s standards but it wasn’t slavery. Slavery abolished in the British Empire in 1833. Blackbirding began in 1863.” This is an interesting concept. Blackbirding involved kidnapping or coercing people to work for nothing (or occasionally very little), but this wasn’t slavery because… well, the British Empire had abolished it, so we couldn’t have been doing slavery, could we? Blackbirding is different from slavery in ways that escape a commoner like me, but I’m sure that the former High Commissioner will be able to explain. Whatever, the next time the police pull me over I’m using the Downer defence, and saying that I couldn’t possibly been speeding because Australia has had speed limits for over a hundred years…

Consistency is a hard thing to achieve. I know. It’s hard to establish a general set of principles that can be applied in all situations but when I look at the state of political debate, I wonder why the politicians believe that the general public have the memory of a  goldfish. (Yes, before some pedantic person points out that goldfish actually do have more than three-second memory span, I do know that but I was allowing myself a little poetic licence in order to make a point.)

At least when Scomosa Morrison counted on our collective amnesia with the black lives matter protests, many were quick to point out that when people were protesting the lockdown, Bill Gates and 5G he didn’t condemn the protest but rather argued that it was a free country. The difference, argued some, was that the earlier protest only attracted a handful of people while black lives matter protests attracted thousands. This would be a reasonable argument were it not for the fact that Morrison condemned the BLM protests and urged people to stay away before they happened. It’s almost like he expected people to disobey him, rather than do what I did and follow the suggestion to stay home and protest like a good, quiet Australian…

This, of course, means that we have a very confusing scenario. Often, when a protest attracts a large crowd, a politician will try to argue that there were more people not protesting so, therefore, the majority supports the alternative position. For these protests, we were told to stay home to reduce the risk of COVID-19 so when faced with the argument that these were a mob of leftist, AntiFa anarchists intent on causing damage, one can’t immediately dismiss them as a noisy minority. Even though I support their aims, I like millions of my fellow citizens, followed the advice of the PM and stayed home to protest.

Get out of that one, Scottie!

Of course one of the terrible things about statements like “Black lives matter” is that they have people saying stupid things like “All lives matter” or “It’s OK to be white”! Why I say they’re stupid is not because they’re not true, but because they demonstrate the very lack of awareness that anti-racists are trying to combat. If we reduce this to the personal, image the following exchange between a couple:

“I feel like you don’t care about my feelings and that my views are unimportant.”

“That’s ridiculous.” 

“My views are important and I think you just ignore what I’m saying sometimes.” 

“No, all views are important. My views are important too. By telling me about your views, I feel that you’re ignoring my views so let’s stop this silly discussion and move on because we shouldn’t dwell on the past.”

If I’ve offended anybody by that, I’ll apologise for my bourgeois oversimplification of an issue that’s much more complex than a discussion between a couple, but I’ll only apologise if someone tells me they’re offended because that’s what old, white males do. And to be fair to myself, I am trying to make things simple enough for stupid old white males to actually grasp.

I guess the thing that makes people like that have a better understanding of the whole thing is the recent response to the Cover-19 crisis by a few politicians and some of the more rational economists. (I am using “rational” in an economic sense, which means I’m using it like the “liberal” in “Liberal Party” or the “public” in IPA.)  Apparently, “All Lives Matter” but not if your life is one that stands in the way of the economy.

No, if you’re old or ill, it’s just bad luck. We need to get growth happening, so while all lives matter, some just don’t matter enough to worry about.

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Scott Morrison Does It Again With Homebuilder!

“Good afternoon, we were hoping to speak to Scott Morrison about the Homebuilder scheme but unfortunately he’s meeting with Josh Frydenberg to plan their next big announcement, so we’re talking to government spokesperson, Ivor Grey Tyedear. Welcome, Mr Tyedear.”

“Thanks for having me. Obviously Mr Morrison needs to ensure that his next big announcement is something that grabs people’s attention and has everyone talking.”

“Yes, I imagine that the government is keen to avoid a debacle like the $60 billion JobKeeper stuff-up.”

“No, that was a great announcement. It was just the details of the actual program that were a problem and that’s down to the Public Service. Remember, it’s not government’s job to implement policy, we just announce it and blame those responsible for not delivering it when the time comes.”

“But that makes it sound like you announce things even though you have no idea about whether they’re possible or not.”

“Yes… Is there a question?”

“Um, ah,.. yeah…  Can you just go through the details of who’s eligible for this Homebuilder package?”

“Yes, it’s quite simple. For a start, it’s means tested so people earning more than $125,000 if they’re single or $200,000 if they’re a couple are ineligible for the scheme, but if the individual is a couple then he or she is not eligible because only couples who aren’t individuals are eligible but individuals who aren’t couples are, but only if they can demonstrate their individuality. If you’re lucky enough to fit below the threshold you get $25,000 toward your renovation or build, as long as you spend over $150,000 but less than $750,000 and use a tradesperson approved by Scott Cam and agree to start work before the plans are drawn up and approved by local council.”

“It does seem that places a rather large number of restrictions on it…”

“Yes, there’s a ridiculous amount of red tape involved in local council decisions. Once upon a time you could knock down some old so-called heritage building to construct a coal-fired power station next to a hospital or a school without all this need for environmental approval but sadly those days are gone.”

“No, I meant there’s unlikely to be many people who are eligible.”

“Ah but that’s where you’re wrong. Many, many of our biggest constituents have taxable incomes of less than $1000 a year but in spite of this they manage to make the necessary sacrifices to send their kids to a good school and still demonstrate their thrift by not only having several investment properties but still being able to donate to the Liberal Party.”

“It’s also been suggested that not many renovations would cost as much as $150,000…”

“Well, I don’t know where you’ve been getting your marble kitchen benches and your gold taps from but I’d suggest that they may not be the genuine article.”

“So why was this given priority over other industries?”

“Well, we were concerned that tradies are likely to find that when their current work finishes there’ll be a shortfall in the number of jobs.”

“Yes, but tradies have generally been still working. Why was this done in anticipation of a shortfall when people in tourism, hospitality, the arts, universities are all facing a lack of work now?”

“Oh, so you’re one of those anti-tradie elitists who think that the intellectual know-it-alls should be handed a living just because they believe in climate change and watch the ABC…”

“I have no figures on how many baristas and kitchen hands watch the ABC, but what would it matter if they did?”

“Well, it wouldn’t if the ABC were providing balance but lasts week’s QandA, for example, had a number of people who oppose the government’s stated policy on climate change without any attempt at balance.”

“They had Matt Canavan.”

“Exactly. He doesn’t support our stated policy, he only supports our actual policy of helping coal as much as possible.”

“So you can’t offer any help to the industries I mentioned?”

“Of course we can. The PM and Treasurer are working on a program where people in those industries can be given assistance providing they can prove they weren’t receiving any government benefits from 1864 onwards. If they don’t have records going back that far, we can assume that like those who were issued with demands under the income averaging scheme…”

“You mean Robodebt?”

“We don’t use that term in my office.”

“Because it’s not the correct name?”

“No, because it’s got a terribly bad press just because some people reacted badly to being issued with a demand for a large amount of money.”

“So if the person doesn’t have a debt then they’ll be eligible for some government assistance?”

“Now I don’t want to preempt the PM or the Treasurer, but no, not necessarily. If they can prove their lack of bad debts, then there’ll be a few other qualifications because we can’t have people getting it if they’re not entitled to it.”

“But you determine who’s entitled to it, so the more qualifications you put on it the harder it is for someone who really needs it to get it.”

“Yes, that’s the intention. If we give handouts to needy people they’ll end up needing it and then they’ll have no incentive not to need it...”

“Can you give me an example of some of these qualifications. Let’s take a comedian as an example, because the Comedy Festival was cancelled leaving many without any chance of recouping the outlay they made on things like flyers and booking fees.”

“Ok, well, we’d need to check that the comedian had been funny for a period of twelve months leading into the Comedy Festival and this would entail checking their jokes to make sure that there was nothing inappropriate or too politically correct…”

“Hang on, doesn’t policing jokes to ensure that they’re not politically correct amount to a sort of new PC?”

“No, it’s really simple. Something is only politically correct if politically correct people object to it. If someone like Scott Morrison objects to a joke, then he’s just expresses a personal preference but if someone with enormous power like say, someone with 24 followers on Twitter complains, then they’re stifling free speech.”

“Anyway, so imagine someone has been funny for twelve months, are they then eligible for… what are you calling this one ClownKeeper?”

“Don’t be ridiculous! It’s called ComicKeeper. Anyway, that’s just the start. They have to prove that they earned the sort of income from their comedy that would enable them to do something like a $150,000 renovation, and if they weren’t that funny then maybe they shouldn’t have given up their day job.”

“What if their day job was washing dishes?”

“Exactly.”

“But there aren’t too many dishwasher jobs. I mean they would have lost that one too…”

“Well, maybe they should have become a tradie like Scott Cam suggested…”

“Sorry, but we’re out of time. Thank you.”

“A pleasure.”

 

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Robodebt: Part man. Part machine. All crap.

Ok, I paraphrased one of the tagline from Robocop for the title but at least I haven’t stolen my entire media strategy from 1984

I did find the ABC’s framing of the robodebt fiasco in this tweet rather interesting.

ABC Politics @politicsabc

#BREAKING The Federal Government has announced it’s refunding 470,000 debts issued through the controversial #robodebt program at a cost of $721 million

ABC Politics@politicsabc

No, I’m not talking about the use of the word “controversial” instead of “illegal”. The idea that the government is refunding debts is such a mishmash of language and concepts I have to despair that the average person will ever have any understanding of what’s going on. I mean, you can refund money and you can forgive a debt, but what on earth does it mean to “refund a debt”? Particularly when it’s highly improbable that it was an actual debt in the first place.

Anyway, I’m not concerned with the past we need to move on and allow me to put on my Rostradamus hat and predict the future.

  1. If some journalist should have the temerity to suggest that the whole robodebt scheme was illegal, we can look forward to Scott Morrison “rejecting the premise of the question” before explaining, “We looked at the scheme and there were some discrepancies and we’re working through these to ensure that people haven’t been inadvertently issued with debt notices where they shouldn’t have been. Of course, we still expect people to pay back money where they’ve been overpaid and that’s what we’re seeking to do but we won’t be issuing any more debt notices to people who don’t owe money.”
  2. Now that the announcement has been made, we can expect no action from the government for quite some time. When Ray from Sunshine or Sally from Nimbin goes to a media outlet and manages to get their story told about how they had the money taken from their tax return/family payment, then we can expect Stuart Robert or Cormann the Barbarian to front the media and explain that this is taxpayer money and before it’s refunded we need to be sure that the person didn’t actually owe it. It will further be asserted that because said person hasn’t actually applied to have it returned it was reasonable to presume that they believed that they actually owed the money and didn’t want it back. However, if they wish to have the money returned then they should contact Centrelink for a form which they then send to the Tax Office and a short wait, they’ll be assessed and asked for evidence to prove that they actually filled out the correct form with their own pen.
  3. In the next few days, the individual making the trouble will either be given something to shut them up or some story will emerge of how they were convicted of animal cruelty, terrorism, fraud or, even worse, taking part in an environmental protest.
  4. At this point, there may be a series of stories about how nobody realised that they’d actually have to apply to have the money refunded, Morrison and others will say that of course that was the case and why did they think that it would be automatic because only those having a go deserve a go. Chris Kenny and other Murdoch miscreants will attack those owed money for being too lazy to check out what needed to be done and that it’s just typical of those who think that the world should be handed to them on a platter and if only they worked harder they could be like Rupert and given $50 million to keep regional newspapers going just long enough for the cheque to clear.
  5. If a followup story is done on how difficult the form is to a) find b) fill out and c) lodge, then a government minister will make the announcement that there needs to be a complete overhaul and that the government is looking into it, but we need to be careful because we are dealing with taxpayer money. As a result all repayments will be suspended until this is done. Nobody will think to point out that it’s actual the person’s money that was obtained under an illegal system.
  6. Josh Frydenberg will be trotted out to announce that they’ve only repaid $49,031 of the $721million thanks to superior economic management by the Coalition and as well as a bungle by Treasury, The Liberals will be hailed as GEM (Great Economic Managers) by certain economists, who know that when something goes right, it’s all down to them but if there’s a mistake it was because of Treasury.
  7. If some journalist should suggest that the reason that the full amount hasn’t been paid was because some people starved waiting, then Morrison will argue that starving was a choice because they could have always taken advantage of all the retraining opportunities and got a job, but “How good is living in Australia and having a choice?”
  8. People will take to Facebook to complain, because Twitter will have been taken over under orders from Trump because too many people were tweeting that Republicans were more upset about Kaepernick kneeling on the grass than a cop kneeling on George Floyd’s windpipe.

Yes, it seems farfetched but this 2020 remember!

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