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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. He has recently joined the Australian Arts Party.

Clean Coal, Malcolm’s Principles And Other Oxymorons!

Now, I know that consistency isn’t a strong point with people generally. And I don’t have a problem with people who change their minds. As John Milton Keynes was alleged to have said, “When the facts change, I change my mind. How about you, sir?”

No, it’s not as Donald Trump administration would have it, “When I change my mind, the facts change and it’s all fake news anyway, because as Abraham Lincoln said to George Washington, you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet!”

I found it hard to reconcile the Abbott government’s insistence that the workers killed installing insulation were the fault of the Labor government’s lack of oversight, while announcing that they’d get rid of all the red tape which slowed down business.

But lately, the Liberals are creating a new gold standard when it comes to saying one thing one minute, then another thing a minute later. Sometimes they’re even contradicting themselves in that same sentence when they tell us that negative gearing doesn’t make house prices higher, but removing it would make them lower.
Most you probably noticed Josh Frydenberg floating the idea of allowing the CEFC to invest in “clean” coal, and I suspect that many of you would probably argue that like it’s allowing QUIT to invest in clean tobacco.

Of course, you do have a strong argument, and I’m not denying that the idea of “clean coal” sounds more of an oxymoron than “Malcolm Turnbull’s principles” or “humble One Nation MP”, but I’m prepared to say that it’s not impossible that we may be able to create “cleaner” coal if we put our minds to it and pour money into researching it. Of course, I’m also prepared to say that unicorns may exist, that Scott Morrison may not be planning to be PM before the year is out and any day now, Donald Trump may announce he’s resigning because he’s done everything possible to get impeached but the Republicans are stupider than he imagined… It’s not the possibility of clean coal that I find inconsistent. It’s a strange idea. But the Liberals do have a lot of stranger ideas, like putting Cory Bernardi on their senate ticket or telling us that One Nation is now more “sophisticated than it was twenty years ago.

No, it’s their recent decree to the Clean Energy Finance Corporation that’s the weird thing. Late last year, Mathias Cormann and Josh Frydenberg lectured the CEFC about the need to strive for an annual return well above the bond rates. In other words, they were told that they needed to be investing in profitable enterprises. None of this helping out evolving industries and giving them a helping hand while they become more commercial. Nope, we want commercial decisions which make a profit, and not just a small profit: 3-4% above the interest rate!

So imagine the surprise from the CEFC when they hear that just a few short weeks later, they get told that Mal and his mates are looking at changing the legislation to enable an investment in coal from the fund. The fact that clean coal isn’t profitable is no problem. I almost expect Frydenberg to be telling us that “Field Of Dreams” is the evidence on which they intend to base energy policy, and if we build it, they will come.

Of course, this is on top of the fact that a voluntary levy which coal companies paid to investigate clean coal was used for political advertising. Of course, it’s rather scandalous that the money to pay for the advertising was deducted from state royalties. But that’s not what I found most interesting about the ABC’s story.

No, for me it was this simple statement which the ABC seemed to skate over:

‘With a lack of research projects to finance, the levy was suspended in 2012. In 2013, the coal lobby changed the mandate of Coal21 to downplay research and allow its funds to be used for “coal promotion”.’

Let me just repeat that first bit for you, “With a lack of research projects to finance, the levy was suspended in 2012.”

Or let me just put it in bold: With a lack of research projects to finance!

In other words, our government now wants to give taxpayer funds to something that even the coal industry itself didn’t think was worth looking at. The levy was stopped, not because it was too expensive in these hard times for coal producers, but because they had more money than there were projects to fund.

So, if you thought George Brandis was bad when he suggested that asylum seekers were breaking the law, but he wouldn’t tell us which section of the migration act they were breaking because that – like operational matters, on-water events and where they’ve hidden Christopher Pyne – is a secret, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait till they tell us that we can give millions of taxpayer dollars to the coal industry to research something that even they themselves thought wasn’t worth spending money on. Just wait till they tell us that it’s a mistake to be “ideologically driven”, but the coal industry is the way of the future. I mean, didn’t you see those great ads? Not only that, thanks to all the money they’ve been given, they’ll soon be making even better ads. They’ll have Scott Morrison, holding a lump of coal, telling us that it’s only through coal that the Budget will be back in the black, and it’s only the coal industry that stands between us and the Marxists forcing their clean energy ideology on us all. Not only that but they’ll have a row of dancing girls with lights powered by coal – that’s both the dancing girls and the coal.

Coal – if it’s good for humanity, it’s god for the Liberal Party!

Why Malcolm Roberts Is Right And How He Can Never Be Wrong!

Over the years, I’ve had some very frustrating arguments with people. I don’t always find arguments frustrating; sometimes I feel that the exchange of differing viewpoints helps everyone to grow. Sometimes I feel that I’ve learned something about the way that people with different value systems perceive the world. Sometimes, I even change my mind. So why is arguing with some people annoyingly frustrating?

I sort of intuitively knew that it was because I knew that I’d never be able to change their mind. I think that was the frustration: no matter what I said, they’d still go on telling me that I was deluded, that I hadn’t thought about the issue, that I was a victim of groupthink, that I was a left wing stooge, that I was a right wing apologist, that I was thinking like everyone else, that I was one of the few who thought like that, it was the chemicals in the water, it was the fact that I didn’t drink enough water! Whatever, they’d never feel the need to even consider the possibility that I might be right… Or at least, closer to being right than they were.

But listening to Malcolm Roberts over the past few months, it’s become even clearer to me what’s so frustrating about arguing with certain people. Now, I suspect that at times, we’re all guilty of this but Malcolm has turned into an art form. Basically, the thinking goes like this:

1. I know that X is a fact.
2. Because it’s a fact, I don’t need to prove it.
3. If you don’t believe that X is a fact, then it’s up to you to disprove it, because it’s up to the person arguing against facts to produce the evidence.
4. When you produce evidence I can ignore it because it’s clearly manufactured by people who don’t believe that X is a fact. Therefore, it can be ignored because if it comes from people who don’t believe that X is a fact, then they’re either brainwashed, part of the evil forces trying to peddle Y as a fact, or just plain stupid.
5. When I’m asked to produce evidence about X, I don’t need to because it’s clearly a fact. After all, you couldn’t produce evidence to disprove it without resorting to the lies put out by people who want to spread disinformation. You’ve clearly been brainwashed and are incapable of thinking for yourself.
6. Of course, not that I need to, but I can produce evidence in the form of anecdotes and links to various websites and there’s no need for me to worry about a conflict of interest because it’s only people who are interested who’d bother to investigate something.
7. No, no. Only people who agree with me are worth listening to, so I think that it’s time you just admitted the truth and gave up!

Now the thing about this, is that it’s impossible to fault. I’m serious. Once you replace X with almost anything, you’ll see how it works. Try vaccination! And just to be even handed, try it from the perspective of an anti-vax person, then try it from someone who believes that vaccinations are worth it. Try climate change. Try Donald Trump’s presidency…

Not that Donald Trump is president!

I mean, it’s a fact that the real powers in the USA had already appointed Hillary and, because of concerns about a possible revolt from those who wanted her jailed for her work with Russia, they created a reality show and used Trump to provide such an entertaining distraction that nobody cares about what the US is actually doing any more.
No, I don’t need to prove it. It’s a fact, I told you!
All right, can you disprove it without resorting to quoting the people behind the charade? You can? Not by resorting to the media. They’re the ones behind it, after all. Oh, no not him, either… He’s one of the architects of the whole thing. Just ask Monica about this… If you can find her… No, I don’t mean the person who’s pretending to be her… the real Monica. No, the one who was interviewed looks a whole lot older.
Look, if you don’t believe me, here’s a link to a website that was taken down by the CIA because it was too close to the truth. Come on, be reasonable, weren’t you all saying Trump could never be President, why I even remember someone telling me that they’d never allow Trump to be President and this was just to ensure that Hillary would take power. You were right and now we’re watching the “POTUS – Reality show, who’ll be fired this week?”

See, it’s easy!

So remember the simple seven point plan at the next family occasion where you have to deal with someone who tells you that they’d join Bernardi’s new party if only he’d thought to register it before he announced that he was leaving the Liberal Party. (I know that he established the name. He doesn’t have any way of allowing people to join yet… Mm, perhaps that’s his plan to ensure that he isn’t taken over by left-wingers like Turnbull, Pyne and Abbott…) Start with your fact, then just follow the plan and watch the person who normally gives you stress become the one to get all angry and frustrated…

Good luck. It’ll work – that’s a fact.

God Told Me That Trump Is OK, And Cory Bernardi Too; It’s Jesus Who He Condemned!

All right, the title has nothing to do with what I’m writing. It’s not quite click-bait, but in an era where I’m competing with the tweets of Donald T-rump and the coal-powered humour of Scott Morrison, then I have to resort to whatever I can to get your attention…

Now that I have your attention, I find that I have nothing worth saying. It’s like when you win government and find that you don’t actually have an agenda…

(This is not a reference to either the Liberals or Donald Trump who have a clear agenda. They both want to make everything great again. But not for people who didn’t vote for them or give them money… Well, they’re not Robinson Crusoe on that)
.

Yep, I have nothing to say! That’s not really my fault. I figure that it must be the fault of the Labor Party because everything else seems to be their fault. Good God, they’re practically the Devil, because they keep making the Liberals do things.

“The devil made me do it!” cries the repentant sinner.
“Labor made us do it,” cries the Liberal minister.

The only difference being that the Liberals argue that Labor is making them do it before they actually do it, whereas the repentant sinner usually tries his line after he’s done it!

You see, Labor are making the Liberals think about a tax rise.

For four years, the Coalition has been saying that we don’t have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. In the last couple of days, they’ve floated the idea of a tax increase. (Relax, relax, I suspect that this will go the way of everything else they’ve floated. At least the Titantic made it out of the harbour!)

Anyway, it’s not their prefered option. But Labor/the devil is making them do it…

There was a bit of a suggestion about reducing the discount on Capital Gains tax on property, but apparently this would cause a revolt by the Coaliton MPs who own more than five investment properties. Turnbull, in spite of never needing to sell and therefore never needing to pay a Capital Gains tax, decided that this needed to be ruled out because Labor had suggested it at the last election. And without even doing the numbers, he knows that the number of Liberals with more than five investment properties who could vote against him in a leadership spill would be enough to end him as PM.

Anyway, I was going to make a point here, but I’ve forgotten what it was and that’s clearly because Labor made me forget it…

Wait, no, it was something about coal being cleaner because Scott Morrison managed to pass it round the chamber without anyone getting their hands dirty.

No, it was something else. Something about Donald Trump…

Oh, bloody Labor Party, I’ve forgotten what I was intending to do…

That’s right. I was planning to work out my budget for the next few weeks, but thanks to the Labor Party I have a spending problem because I bought too much alcohol last week when I got depressed that Malcolm Turnbull’s performance in Parliament was considered an improvement when he gave the sort of display that would lead to a suspension for bullying, if a Year 8 boy tried that in a school debate.

Bloody Bill Shorten…
Bloody Labor Party…
Bloody media…

I mean, they’ve made the Liberals exchange preferences with those PHONIES…

(Just in case you aren’t aware, PHONIES is an acronym for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Isn’t Everyone’s Stooge!)

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Labor once formed government with that dangerous extreme group “The Greens”, so there’s no problem with the Liberals helping One Nation get a few members up… After all, some of their members are less extreme than some of the National Party, so why would you preference them ahead of your Coalition partner?

Where were we?

Oh, that’s right. We were fixing my Budget.
And it had a problem coz the devil made me do it!

P.S. God didn’t actually tell me that Trump was ok. He actually said that he wasn’t going to tell me anything “on the record” but I could quote sources close to the Bible who wonder why the same people who are so definite on bits and pieces here and there on gay marriage, don’t have the same level of clarity about working on the Sabbath which is one of the ten commandments. Surely, if you’re going to risk you immortal soul by working on the Sabbath you should be entitled to extra pay. When I tried to clarify which day was the day of rest, sources close to the Bible suggested that it was the Labor Party who had confused things, and it was Bill Shorten’s fault even though he wasn’t born at the time.

P.P.S. Sources close to the Bible have suggested that they were misquoted and that unless we actually try to be a little more circumspect, then we’re all screwed in spite of what Rupert tells you.

What’s The Difference Between Barnaby Joyce And A Lump Of Coal?

The answer, of course, is that one is a prop and shouldn’t have been taken into the Parliament, while the other can be burned to provide heat – apart from that it’s useless…

Still confused?

Well, so am I! We have a Treasurer who took a lump of coal into Parliament. Just so you know, it’s against the rules to use props in Parliament. Ok, some of you are thinking, everybody knows that, but clearly Scott Morrison didn’t. I mean he wouldn’t deliberately ignore the rules, would he? That’s not a very good example to set our country.

Still, I guess when you’re dealing with those boring old number things as Treasurer day after day, you might need the odd creative outlet. Joe’s was dancing after the Budget, but unfortunately, not in the dark. Costello’s was creating fiction; he used to tell people that he’d be a great PM and one day soon, he’d challenge John Howard. Scott must have spied a lump of coal and been hit with an idea. Once inspired, you do tend to take liberties. That’s what artists are like, they sometimes feel that the rules don’t apply to them because they have a message to get out to the world.

I can picture it now, Mr Morrison and his lump of coal in his office. He calls in his staff. “I have this great idea,” he tells them.

“What is it?” they ask, fearful that it will involve incredible amounts of work “fixing the Budget”, or at the very least coming up with reasons why Labor owing $287 billion was the end of civilisation, but raising the debt ceiling above half a trillion isn’t worth talking about.

“I’m going to take this lump of coal to Parliament,” Scott tells them.

The staff nod approvingly, figuring that if they can perfect their nodding, they may get a safe seat where they can stand behind the PM and nod approvingly, but Scottie doesn’t notice. He’s on fire… (no, not literally!)

“And I’m going to say ‘This is coal,’ and I’m going to tell the Opposition not to be afraid of it! Brilliant, eh?”

His staff keep nodding as though there’s more, so Scott improvises.

“Um… then I’m going to suggest that the Opposition are suffering from coalophobia.”

When told that there’s no such word, Scott says that he’ll be remembered for creating it, like that guy who invented the word “selfie”.

“I’ll admit that I’m making up the word and tell them that it’s this ideological malady that stops them from allowing coal to create jobs and growth. And it’s an illness and they need help… Brilliant, eh?”

The staff nod more approvingly because nobody wants to upset the Treasurer when he seems in a good mood. Lately he’s been so down, thinking of how Cory has left and that’s one less vote for him when the spill happens. Not even the idea of some families losing Family Tax Benefits has caused him to smile. Even when told that some asylum seekers are being forcibly removed from Manus and sent back to possible torture and death, his spirits barely lifted.

So the staff say nothing.

And Scott appears in Parliament with that ugly lump and hands him the coal when the Speaker tells him to put the prop away. (Someone assured me that a lip-reader confirmed to them that when Joyce was given the coal he stroked it, saying, “My precious, my precious,” over and over.)

Of course, it may not have happened quite like that. Scott may have just wandered in to Parliament and put his hand in his pocket and discovered that he had a piece of coal that he’d forgotten to take out, and when one of the Labor MPs recoiled in horror, he may have quite genuinely thought it necessary to calm their fears.

Whatever, I found Morrison’s performance with the lump of coal more disturbing than Richard Denniss’ great article: How Christmas Prawns Explain Australia’s Power Blackouts

We Talk About 21st Century Learning While Looking In The Rearview Mirror!

Schools have always been under-rated! Politicians and some media outlets like to concentrate on the problems while ignoring the fact that they’ve educated vast numbers of people. Yes, there is room for improvement, and no, the occasional spelling mistake does not make that person (and an entire generation) “functionally illiterate” !

So, in a profession where one is constantly given harsh feedback – forget the media, think Year 8s on a Friday afternoon – it’s only natural that when teachers are presented with the “new, improved” model of education called 21st Century learning that there’s a certain amount of cynicism. Of course, some teachers will point to the distractions of technology and suggest that it’s just being pushed by people who love their toys and gadgets, while others will complain that they don’t have the capacity to embrace it due to poor resourcing and Internet access. When concepts such as “20% time”* are suggested, some educators often react as though “100% time” has been suggested for student projects.

While much of what people call “21st Century learning” is just what good teachers have always done in one form or another, but repackaged and rebranded, the phrase itself suggests massive change and disruption. And while most people find too much change stressful and threatening, we now live in the twenty-first century and the world around schools will change no matter how much individuals want to cling to the “way we do it here”.

Some of you will have heard the term “disruptive innovation”, which describes how many companies continue with their old business model and ignore the threat of new ideas or inventions because it doesn’t seem a threat to them. By the time they understand, it’s too late! Think old large computing firms ignoring the PC; think Kodak ignoring digital cameras. For schools, the innovations in the world around them can either by “disruptive” or made “sustaining” by adopting and adapting them to suit the needs of education. At first, some maths teachers wanted to ban the calculator, but it’s become a compulsory item. Similarly, many teachers have embraced word processing in order to allow students to draft and improve their work. These innovations have sustained and supported what teachers do.

However, the main problem with the way schools are looking at learning in the current century is that they’re looking at what WAS, rather than what IS, and very few educators see at as their role to help shape what WILL BE. Schools often merely take textbooks and put them online, rather than embracing the potential of the technology.

For example, just forget education for a moment. Let’s look at life in the twenty-first century: many people have a fitbit or smart phone which tracks all sorts of things from the steps you take to sleeping patterns. Google and Facebook are constantly recording the sites you go to, your preferences, your habits. We live in a world where all sorts of things are tracked. Yet, apart from a few standardised tests, most teachers would find it hard to access information about what Johnny did last week, let alone last year.

Historically, being able to access what a student has done in the past would have had two concerns: Privacy, and workload for teachers recording the data. But while protocols and safeguards around privacy would need to be addressed, how much information could we be collecting now about where students are having difficulty and falling through the cracks by simply using existing technologies in an education setting? And when the technology that allows us to see when a person looking at a screen is losing focus or concentration, should schools embrace it or not?

Oh wait, technology like that is already here. Just not widely available.

Yes, as William Gibson said, “The future is here, just not evenly distributed”!

Whatever your views on software that can track kids progress, whether you think that Big Brother is coming or whether you think it really is a brave, new world, these are the sorts of conversations we need to have now.

What is the potential of the technologies that will be here before we know it and, just as importantly, what are the ethics of the coming technologies?

*In simple terms, giving students free rein to work on any project of their choice. Based on Google’s one day a week to work on projects.

First Published Victorian Professional Development

Meanwhile, In A Country, Far Far Away The Leader Makes His Pitch For Clean Cocaine!

Last week our President Turncow addressed the people telling us:

“Brakinbaja is the world’s largest exporter of cocaine – we have invested $590 million since 2009 in clean cocaine technology research and demonstration, and yet we do still do not have one cocaine factory making clean cocaine. Here’s the current picture – old, highly diluted cocaine factories are closing down, reducing capacity. They can not simply be replaced by alcohol – because we make no money from it in this country – or by no drugs at all because that is just not an option because drugs are such a vital part of our economy and the drug syndicates contribute large amounts of money to my election campaign.
“Storage has a big role to play, that’s true, but we will use taxpayer dollars to build storage units and to bribe law enforcement agencies, and as the world’s largest cocaine exporter we have a vested interest in showing that we can provide both cleaner cocaine and a regular supply.

“The next incarnation of our national drugs policy should be agnostic – it’s security and cost that matter most, not how you deliver it. Policy should be “all of the above” working together to deliver the trifecta of secure and affordable drugs while meeting our bribery commitments.”.

While many expected that he would be deposed in the coming weeks, now that he may not, I have nothing but praise and loyalty. El Presidente Turncow’s strong position on cocaine has had many concluding that he may have headed off the expected coup. A significant number of his soldiers had become restless, and when Boring Conardi, one of the least likely to follow orders, announced that he was leaving to form his own army, it was expected that several other soldiers may join him.

However, when el Presidente put in another strong performance this week where he mocked Che-orten, the leader of rebels, the press are concluding – not just in print where they’re obliged to support the government but privately where they sometimes admit what a pendejo he really is – that he’s safe for the moment.

One told me, off the record, that Turncow’s wit was on fine display. “Honestly, when he said that the rebel leader was a big baboon with a fat red bum, I was reminded of those halcyon days when leaders put thought into their insults instead of just saying, ‘I know you are, but what am I?’ It was brilliant, brilliant!”

Another said that the highlight for him was when he pointed out that the rebel leader came out of the jungle for peace talks and that made him a hypocrite because rebels should never talk to their enemies, because that made them hypocrites.

A third was full of praise of when el Presidente bellowed: “Che-orten pretends that he eats at McDonald’s and drinks beer, but I caught him drinking my chardonnay. OUT OF THE BOTTLE. Such a terrible faux pas makes the man unfit to be my opponent and I call him a donkey and class traitor!”

A fourth journalist confided that he had no idea why personal insults made Turncow fit to lead when his past few months had included such disasters as confiscating iceblocks and allowing them to melt before they could be put back in a fridge, as well as walking into a door which he blamed on the builder for putting it there. I have taken the name of this unpatriotic man and the secret police will be dealing with him tomorrow.

Meanwhile I would just like to add my voice to all those who argue that we should continue to export cocaine because it’s all about the money and we should be agnostic when it comes to the consequences. The ideologically driven opposition who seem to think that we should have a conscience about the damage we may be doing are clearly failing to consider all the jobs that may be lost if we were to suddenly stop what we’re doing.

Shame on them, I say! Viva el Turncow!

Bill Shorten Taking Orders From The Unions One Week; Betraying Them By Being Friends With Billionaires The Next!

Ok, I was confused enough when Pauline Hanson said that people didn’t see her as a career politician, while pointing out that she’d be around the political scene for over twenty years. I guess maybe she meant that her capacity for picking candidates who self-destruct saved her from being one, in much the same way as my inability to play a musical instrument means that people don’t consider me a rock star. Mind you, I haven’t spent to last twenty years trying to have a number one hit!

Now I don’t want to defend Bill Shorten here. There are many things about the man that I dislike. For a start, Shorten is clearly unfit to be PM because he has ill-fitting, cheap suits and bad breath. As for his hair…

Oh, you don’t think that his personal qualities are all that relevant in a debate about changes to Family Tax Benefits and Childcare and Buses (I don’t quite understand but they keep talking about the Omnibus Bill)! Well, I guess that you would say that. From comments on this site, it’s clear a lot of you don’t understand that unless we make savings we won’t be able to afford the subsidies to new, clean coal power stations and the $40,000,000,000 in tax cuts to companies.

Now I know that some of you may have been confused by Malcolm’s tirade in the last couple of days. Just last week we were told that Bill was beholden to the unions, that he was their captive because they made donations. This week, however, he’s betrayed the unions because he’s a sycophant who is friendly with billionaires. While John Howard preached that there was nothing wrong with being aspirational, Turnbull thinks that his opponent is a “social climber”. You know what a social climber is, right? It’s someone who doesn’t know their place.

So I’m a bit confused about what a Labor leader is actually meant to do. If they buddy up with union members, they’re lack the understanding that it’s business that provide all the jobs in this country, but if they’re sociable with bosses, then they’re traitors to their class.

Yesterday Turnbull confused many other people when he told the House: “They call themselves the Labor Party. Well, Mr Speaker, manual labour is a Mexican bandit as far as they’re concerned. Most of them have never done a day’s work in their lives.” Now, I do remember a joke that about someone thinking that Manual Labor was a Mexican tennis player, the joke of course being a play on Rod Laver’s name. I suspect that in the heat of the moment, Mr Turnbull just got himself a bit confused… Like when he said that he supported action on climate change.

But today, Turnbull once again defended the actions of his government in the way that great Liberal leaders always do. He attacked the Labor leader again. There is so much to praise in their current Bill that it’s impossible to pick, so let’s talk about the other Bill.

Turnbull told us that he couldn’t be bought by anyone and not just because nobody wanted him. He then added, “I don’t suck up to billionaires, I look them in the eye and when I need to take them on.”

While I find that last comment even more confusing than his Mexican bandit comment, I think the point he’s making is that he’s much more comfortable standing up to billionaires and saying things like, “No, I’m happy to provide you with an interest free billion dollar loan for your coal plant, but I’m not shining your shoes, we have Christopher Pyne for that”, than he is standing up to the right wing in his party and telling them that he might allow a free vote on marriage equality because isn’t it part of Liberal philosophy that everyone’s free to vote with their conscience at all times?

Anyway, he’s inspired me. Enough with this politics of envy. We know that when people complain about healthcare costs they’re just jealous that they’re not doctors. And enough with political correctness. Enough with affirmative action. Let’s get rid of racial discrimination boards and soup kitchens and disabled parking. Let’s take our lead from Malcolm and stand up to billionaires, but not about penalty rates which is what forces them to send their profits to the Cayman Islands.

Yes, Malcolm. Let’s stand up and be counted. I’m beginning to think that you’re right. Perhaps Bill is the problem. Perhaps it would be a good idea to change leaders! Would you like to see that, Mr Turnbull? Would you like Labor to take you at your word and replace him with Tanya or Jason or Mark?

What’s that? Bill isn’t so bad, you say? Oh, you just don’t think that the country benefits from changes of leadership?

Yep, Tony said that he’d sell anything except his arse to become PM, Malcolm made no exceptions!

Perhaps The Liberals Should Have Asked Cory Bernardi For A Pre-nuptial Agreement!

Well, the big news is that Cory Bernardi has started his own party. At last count, I understand it had precisely one member, which means that he’s got one more than me, unless I decide to start a party some time in the next twenty four hours.

That’s a political party, of course. If you were the only one at your birthday party, for example, you wouldn’t consider that a party; you’d consider that evidence that you were a social misfit. Not that there’s anything wrong with being a misfit… Just ask Cory why he left the Liberals!

It was apparently, in part, a response to the rise of Pauline Hanson. Of course when I say “rise” I mean that the media seem to find her candidates more worthy of interviewing than people who aren’t living proof of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Let’s be honest here: Some of Pauline’s party are the least suitable senators since Caligula made his horse one. Actually, all the horse did was shit in the wrong place so he may have been less damaging than the One Notion mob.

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. Just a few days ago, Pauline came up with the great idea of compulsory pre-nuptial agreements for couples. Mm, I can picture some couples saying: “We’re never going to fall out of love and we don’t plan to breed, so can have everything and custody because we’ll never have any!

Consistent with this idea of pre-nups, she suggested that her candidates should have a $250,000 bond which they’d forfeit if they left the party after being elected. Of course, this overlooks the technicality that one could be elected, not leave the party, but consistently bag Pauline and frequently refuse to vote along party lines. How would it work when Pauline herself tosses you out? Actually this sounds rather like Rod Culleton… Come to think of it, it was the modus operandi of many One Notion politicians, which sort of explains why they imploded last time…

Anyway, to help the conservative side of politics fight the drift to minor parties, Senator Bernardi has started another minor party, and this has upset a lot of people who seem to think that the fact he stood as a Liberal just last year and with no obvious change in the party’s position on anything, apart from the change from “jobs and growth” to “jobs and bread and butter issues” because growth was negative last quarter, Cory’s jumped ship.

Perhaps, they’ll come out in the next couple of days and suggest that Pauline was onto something with her idea of pre-nuptial agreements for politicians to prevent them doing a Bernardi.

Is “pre-nuptial” the right word in the case of politicians? I probably should look up exactly what “nuptial” means. I shouldn’t be bandying words about with no understanding their meaning like I’m the President of the United States.

Let’s see,

 

Definition of nuptial
1
: of or relating to marriage or the marriage ceremony
2
: characteristic of or occurring in the breeding season

 

Right, well, pre-nuptial is the wrong word, because there’s no marriage between Bernardi and his party. And clearly, he wouldn’t approve of breeding with them… Although, he certainly has done his best to f*ck Turnbull.

Ah, Turnbull!

It’s always interesting how people have perceived him over the years. The suggestion that now Bernardi’s gone, it gives him a chance to be the “real” Malcolm. He doesn’t have to worry any more. This conveniently overlooks that he hasn’t had to worry since the election because there’s no way they can dump him easily because all it takes is one or two Liberals jumping ship or resigning and suddenly they’re a minority government. The idea that Malcolm is hamstrung because if he upsets the conservatives, they could toss him out as leader overlooks that this could easily bring down the entire government. At the very least, it’d going a long way to making them completely unelectable at the 2019 election. Malcolm has never taken a stand that wasn’t arguably populist. His support – luke warm as it’s been – for marriage equality, the environment, the Republic, you name it, has all been backed by what the majority think. The idea that somehow Turnbull would be different if he just had a little bit more power… Gee, he’s Prime Minister! At what point does he actually start acting on his supposed real beliefs?

That’s right! He stood up to Trump and said that a deal was a deal and that’s why Trump got annoyed. Of course, he did this behind closed doors because you don’t criticise other governments in public. Yet somehow we’re being told what happened in that phone call and how he’s the only man who’s standing up to Trump. But he’s doing it on the phone and he’s not going to say anything in public. In public, Turnbull is a lamb, but let’s just background the media that in private he’s a lion.

I guess that’s why when George “I like posing with my whip” Christensen warned Turnbull today that he needed to be more conservative, Turnbull chose not to comment in public. In private, he’ll be telling George to pull his head in and not to make threats… I’m sure.

Just as I’m sure that Tony Abbott won’t be calling for a spill. No, I promise you. He won’t.

Not this week!

P.S. Someone pointed out that I incorrectly referred to Pauline Hanson’s party as “One Notion”! My apologies, I clearly meant to write: “No Notion”!

A Long Hard Thing-k!

Mmm, what can we do…

Mmm, what’s going to actually help…

Mmm, I’m old enough to remember the sixties. By that, I mean that I’m young enough to have been alive in the sixties and not so old that I can’t remember the sixties because I was part of the sixties… If you know what I mean…

Anyway, I remember the sixties and how the forces that would control us, regrouped, and took control again…

As The Skyhooks sang in the seventies: “Whatever happened to the Revolution? We all got stoned and it drifted away…” Ok, some things endured, but flower power and non-materialism did not become the norm. John Lennon told us to give peace a chance and was shot.

I’m old enough now to have a vested interest in the way things are… Up to a point.

I think, while we never wealthy – although wealth is relative in a world where so many earn less than $2 a day – I came from a family that was always ok with the way things are… Up to a point!

I always wanted to change things. I always wanted to make them fairer… Up to a point!

Ok, ok, I can walk past beggars in the street and think that this is just wrong, but decide that my twenty bucks would be better spent on lunch for myself.

But I don’t think that we should have beggars in our streets… Not just because – from time to time – they make me feel guilty and rich and totally unable to complain about the people who really should feel rich and guilty because they wouldn’t miss $1.75 million in much the same way that I would miss the odd meal and the odd twenty dollars.

And I’ve been wondering if social media and the Internet is like every innovation. A Prague Spring.

Will we all descend into some distraction where we argue over who has the biggest? Crowd, that is… What’s wrong with you people?

Or will it enable us to connect, to define, to say this enables us to counteract the misinformation.

Television was also a great opportunity. But we filled it with shit to attract the lowest common denominator. Which is sort of ok, because the lowest common denominator has a right to watch things too. Just not a reality show about who will be next to be thrown off the show, when the person throwing them off is the POTUS in his latest role in “The Apprentice – Now I’m President, Where’s Monica?”!

Anyway, we may need to find a way to overcome the attack on the Internet. Yeah, I suspect that it’ll be next. They’ll need to control it… Not in a Communist sort of way, in a “We support Freedom” sort of way! We’ll need to censor it and control it to stop those who are using it “dark purposes”, and as the definition of “dark purposes” spreads and grows, we’ll find that even photos of your latest meal may need to avoid such things as lentils for fear it may be helping spread a vegan message!

Mm, what can we do?

What’s going to actually help?

Well, like I said, I remember the sixties and it’s not going to be the artists and writers and singers that actually make the changes. Russell’s Revolution notwithstanding.

It’s up to you.

No, really! I’m trying to tell you. It’s really up to you.

John Lennon’s dead, and I have a cold sore.

Nobody else is going to change the world.

Maybe Cody who’s twelve and wrote to the PM…

But I don’t think the rest of you can wait until Cody is old enough to take over.

Get off your fat spotty backside and do something.

Even if it’s only writing to your MP!

Ah, cheers everyone. I needed that.

🙂

Now that I’ve absolved myself from responsibility and blamed someone else, I can become a Liberal politician!

Well, Malcolm, are you resigning now? Or next week?

Malcolm, Money, Phone Calls And Clean Coal!

No!

I’m sorry, I just can’t do it. It’s impossible to make Malcolm seem any more ridiculous than he actually is. I can’t exaggerate or make up anything that’s more absurdly pathetic than the clown we have as the token Prime Minister.

“I’ve always been prepared to put my money where my mouth is,” he told us, leaving us to wonder exactly why his mouth is in the Liberal Party coffers. But he didn’t go on to tell us that he put his money there in order to ensure that his government would get the opportunity to… (fill in the gap with “jobs and growth” or whatever slogan the Liberals parroted before the election). No, he put his money into ensuring that we “didn’t have a Labor government”! And we used to think that Tony Abbott was negative. But while his donation is pure and good, Bill Shorten should be ashamed because the unions donated to him and that makes him beholden to them. Whereas, in spite of his donation, the Liberal Party apparently don’t owe him anything.

Now, normally this would be a talking point, but Malcolm decided to push the envelope on “clean coal”. Because we’re a large coal exporter, goes the Turnbull logic, it’s a “no-brainer” that we should be pushing clean coal. The fact that there’s no such thing is irrelevant. When we talk about clean coal, we mean “cleaner” coal, and we have the technology to build brand, new shiny coal-fired power stations, because this is the way of the future because South Australia had a black-out and it was ALL the fault of wind energy because there have never been blackouts in states where coal is used to generate power. We need to look at the cost of renewable energy right now and compare it what clean coal might cost, if we invest a few billion dollars in the hope that we can make burning coal cheaper. And fracking, we need to start fracking.

It was like a heroin dealer arguing that soon he’d have clean, no addictive heroin, so there was really no problem and would these “do-gooders” stop trying to get people off the drug…

Then his assurance that company tax cuts would lead to a pay increase of $750 a year in the average worker’s salary. I wonder who did the economic modelling on that. Or was it just that it seems likely because whenever businesses get some kind of windfall, they put out a statement telling their shareholders that rather than increasing dividends, they’ve decided to pay their workers more because, after all, aren’t they the ones who really deserve it!

But I think it was his display over the phone call that makes me think he actually believes that he’ll still be PM at the next election. He actually thinks we’ll believe anything.

On Monday, Turnbull tells us that the asylum seeker deal was going ahead because President Trump had told him so. Today, when people are suggesting that this must have occurred after he hung up on Turnbull, our PM tells us that such calls are private so he won’t be commenting. So Malcolm can tell us that the call was warm and agreeable on Monday, but he can’t talk about what was in the call a few days later because such things are private. You know, like when he told us that if he had a problem with Trump’s travel ban, he’d do it in private because that’s what friends do. I guess Trump’s tweet today was meant to be private then. Or maybe he doesn’t consider Turnbull a friend.

Yep, Malcolm, you’ve done me. I can’t make up anything. You were stretching credibility when you told us that the Liberal Party didn’t have factions, but now you’re making Clive Palmer sound believable. What else have you got for us? Making Malcolm Roberts a minister, telling everybody that you know he’s not in your party but anyone with such a strong belief in quantifiable evidence just has to be included in our decision making? Or will you invest in Adani because you put your money where your mouth is, and coal has such a future?

I need a rest. Malcolm’s done me ‘ead in.

A Musical Interlude – “Blowing In The Wind”!

Let’s all sing it loud and with gusto!

How many times must Turnbull back down
Before you call him your man?
How many times must he say “Jobs and Growth”
Before he can say what he’s planned?
Yes, and how many times must we trust the Libs
Before they’re forever banned?
Turnbull, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
Turnbull is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, and how many years can coal power exist
Before it’s washed to the sea?
Yes, and how many years will people stay on Nauru
Before they’re allowed to be free?
Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see?
Turnbull, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
Turnbull is blowin’ in the wind

Yes, and how many times can a man lie to us
Before we know it’s a lie?
Yes, and how much did you give to the Liberals
Including the bits on the sly?
Yes, and how much did you trade to be the PM
You pathetic thing, Malcolm Bligh?
Turnbull, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
Turnbull is blowin’ in the wind.

 

Australia’s Newest Party Supports Trump 100%!

“”Good Afternoon, in the studio today we have Alfonso McGillicuddy, candidate for the Arts Party who has just issued a press release saying that Donald Trump hasn’t gone far enough and wants all Muslims to be compelled to wear a yellow crescent on their clothes. Mr McGillicuddy, what do think this would achieve?”
“Absolutely nothing.”
“Then why do you think it should happen?”
“I don’t.”
“What about your press release?”
“Well, I’ve been saying intelligent things about the Arts for twelve months now and you keep interviewing nuph-nuphs like Malcolm Roberts, so I thought if I said something totally ridiculous then I’d be able to get on your program where I could point out how many people the Arts industry employs either directly or indirectly…”
“But that’s dishonest.”
“Oh, so I should have waited until you asked me how I support the same sorts of policies that Hitler used, at which point I could have said that when you put it like that, I’ve changed my mind and with the dead air time I could have quickly asked you if you knew how many people make their living from the Arts?”
“Hang on, comparing things to Hitler is a little extreme. He killed six million Jews, after all.”
“All right, let’s get back to talking about the Arts…”
“No, I’m not prepared to give you air time to put forward your policies when you’ve misrepresented them in order to get air time!”
“Oh, so I was genuinely an anti-Islamic idiot or a climate change denier, you’d give me time, but not if I’ve only done that to try and get an interesting discussion about the role of the Arts in our society! Ok, then, how about if I ask why no Christian leaders have condemned the shootings in the Quebec mosque by a white student? Is that extreme enough to get me a chance to express my point of view?”

* * *

All right…
I’m one of those wankers who’s joined the Arts Party, so you could consider the above a political ad.

But – and this is the really important point – you hear almost nothing about them. Or indeed, you don’t hear arguments from lots of people. There are lots of people out there with important things to say, and we rarely hear from them. We ignore significant sections of the community. But suddenly, we need to hear from the less than ten percent – according to a poll, not any election – who voted for One Nation. Because Malcolm Roberts can assert things. And demand evidence from others. Real evidence, not evidence from people who are manufacturing stuff that doesn’t back up what he believes. That makes for a good program.

And Pauline Hanson can tell us that she’s not a puppet, that was right wasn’t it, James, I’m not a puppet, I’m just here standing up for people like us who got screwed by the Liberal Party, and, sorry, I didn’t quite catch that, but let me just say, people love Trump because he’s the same colour as me… in the hair, I mean, I’m not a racist, in spite of what those foreigners say…

Trump’s team managed to do this all the way to the Whitehouse.

* * *

When I wrote this last year, I thought I was joking…

But after he just sacked the Attorney-General today, I have to wonder if I wasn’t closer to the truth than any political commentator who tried to predict the way things would happen.

This may be why the Arts is important. It gives you a concept of how absurd things can get if you don’t pay attention. Although George Orwell wrote “1984” years ago and it doesn’t seem to have helped beyond giving the Trumpets a “Fascism for Dummies” guide…

COME ON RUSSELL, WHERE’S YOUR REVOLUTION WHEN WE NEED IT??

The Phone Call – Turnbull Is Assured Or So I’m Led To Believe By Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless!

From “The Sydney Morning Herald:

“Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has received Donald Trump’s personal assurance that a deal for the US to resettle refugees from Nauru and Manus Island will go ahead, despite the US President’s harsh immigration policies sending shockwaves around the world…

Mr Turnbull’s office declined to comment on the 25-minute phone call with Mr Trump. Fairfax Media has been told the President confirmed his administration would honour last year’s agreement, though it remains unclear how many of the roughly 2000 asylum-seekers held on Nauru and Manus Island will be resettled in the US.
Under the Obama deal, final details, including the number to be resettled, were not expected to be nailed down until the second half of this year, after US officials scrutinised applications and carried out security checks.”

Ok, now I really hope I’m wrong, but it does strike me that this is one of those ones where you say something’s happening and if we all go, “That’s good,” and forget about it then there’s really no problem. However, being a cynical sort of chap, I do have to wonder about three things in the SMH report.

1. Why, if the deal is going ahead, did Mr Turnbull’s office decline to comment?
2. “Fairfax media has been told that the President confirmed his administration would honour last year’s agreement…” BY WHOM? Turnbull’s office is declining to comment about the phone call, Trump’s press release merely said that they were happy that Australia is happy to do whatever the US wants in return for having its tummy-tickled while the President says, “Who’s a good boy then!”, so who was this anonymous person who told Fairfax about the agreement? Was it the same person who led the ABC and The Australian to “understand” that the deal was going ahead?
3. How on earth does it take the USA nearly a year to check out people who’ve had Australia checking them out for the past four years? Do they have to check everything again? And then check the people doing the checking?

Of course, if someone connected to the government was briefing journalists “off the record”, then why is it off the record? And if it’s on the record, why not say a spokesman for Mr Turnbull or the Minister for Information and Newspeak told us the Mr Trump said such and such. Surely, journalists would ask why they’re being briefed off the record, why this isn’t official statement! Surely, they wouldn’t just report someone saying, “Look, I can’t tell you this officially but Mr Trump said that he was totally ok with the deal, but we just have to say nothing for now, but you can report that it’s on. Trust me, I’m saying this on behalf of the people who are declining to comment. Yes, the deal is going ahead and the US will take some of the people on Manus and Nauru. No, we don’t know how many. No, we don’t know when. But it’s definite. No problem. Rock solid guarantee. Trump said he’ll take any that fit the criteria. What criteria is that? Not sure, it was a quick phone call and Malcolm only had time to ask how he was doing and to make a couple of jokes and to say that he was hoping that the TPP wasn’t dead yet, but if it is, well, that’s ok, because the USA has no truer friend than Australia even if, Mr President, I had to spend the first five minutes on of the call waiting while you found it on a map. We still love you, even if you love another more. Well, the criteria might be that they’re not Muslims. Or from Syria or Iran. Or any one of a number of other countries. And, of course, they can’t be law-breakers. No, being an “illegal immigrant” doesn’t count. Why not? Um, look, I’m just speaking of the record here so I don’t have any actual information, but you can just write that it’s going ahead, ok, and we can all get back to worrying about Jobs and Growth… Sorry, don’t mention growth. Jobs and innovation.”

For the sake of those on Manus and Nauru, I really hope I’m wrong. I really hope we see something official in the next few days, but given this government’s lack of follow-through with even the things they’ve announced, I have to wonder when Turnbull’s office is declining to comment. But hey, Mr Turnbull is probably preparing a press release as I write this and there’ll be a big announcement and a timetable for when the people on Nauru will be re-settled. And even a timetable for the ones on Manus who were found to be being held “illegally”. Yeah, all ok now. We can go back to sleep.

P.S. I’ve started tagging a lot of my posts “climate change” in order to waste the time of paid climate change deniers who’ll read the whole thing and then wonder why there’s nothing they can be commenting on. Alternatively, they may comment anyway, which’ll just prove that they’re not really interested in “discussing the science”. My apologies if you read it because you feel that you desperately needed to be informed about the topic and haven’t realised that you’ve probably read enough things that should prompt you to actually start doing something to counter the misinformation out there!

Malcolm Turnbull: “It’s Just A Flesh Wound…”

Update: After writing this, I noticed that both the ABC and The Australian are reporting that they “understand” that the deal is going ahead. I do note that the Whitehouse didn’t mention it in their press release, and there was no official announcement from Australia. Ok, good, I’m happy to say that I was wrong about the deal going ahead and that’s a good thing… Unless someone’s just “leaked” this to them in the hope that we’ll all breathe a sigh and forget all about it so that Turnbull won’t have to say that we didn’t get any agreement from Trump. And whenever this is brought up in the future, then the response will be checks are still underway, because in nearly four years, there hasn’t been enough time to check them out yet.

Recently, a number of people have suggested that Turnbull was the worst PM since Billy McMahon, which long-time apologist for the Liberal Party, David Flint, suggested was terribly unfair because there’s no way Billy would have done some of the things that Malcolm’s doing…

McMahon – for those of you too young to remember – became our leader when Gorton failed to get a majority in the spill and used his casting vote to resign. With ears that would put Tony Abbott to shame and a capacity to put his foot in it that would make Barnaby blush, one of Billy’s best moments came in the ’72 election campaign when he told voters that after examining all the facts, he was sure that they’d all vote for the Labor Party. Ok, he quickly corrected himself, but he may have been better not to and claimed that as a rare moment of political honesty in Australia. Billy was nicknamed “the Leak” by various journalists, and not because he needed to urinate frequently.

Whatever, it’s rather embarrassing for a man such as Turnbull to be compared to McMahon. It’s sort of the opposite of when people say, “This is the best thing since sliced bread!” Mm, what was the best thing before sliced bread? And who would there be to compare Turnbull to, if McMahon hadn’t had those glorious couple of years ensuring Whitlam’s victory? Malcolm Bligh Turnbull worst Australian leader since his namesake, Governor Bligh, who was the only Australian leader deposed by a rebellion. The Rum Rebellion was January 26th… Now there’s something we could all celebrate on January 26th: getting rid of an out-of-touch arrogant leader! Anybody want to suggest it to the Liberals?

All right, I know that some of you will have alternative facts on Bligh’s removal and suggest that – as with Whitlam – it was the ruling elite who removed him and we could be here all day when all I wanted to do was defend poor Malcolm who has been bravely continuing on in the face of reality.

Yes, Malcolm assured us that there’s no need to abandon the TPP just because the USA and Japan have called it dead, Mexico will be ultra-keen when Trump imposes that twenty percent tariff. And China! Maybe China could step and do what the US was going to do and reap all the benefits by allowing their companies all sort of access to our markets in return for Australians being allowed to sell three extra blocks of cheese a week and all the Vegemite that China requires!

For most people, that would be enough. Most people can only ask us to believe in one impossible thing a week, but Malcolm is telling us that he’s “confident” that Trump will honour the refugee deal and resettle asylum seekers from Manus and Nauru, even though visa-holding non-refugees with family in the US have been stopped at the border if they’re from certain designated countries.

Interestingly, Saudi Arabia was not one of the countries on the no-fly list… Is no-fly list the right term here? Because unless one believes the various conspiracy theories on 9/11 – it was Israel/the CIA/Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone – then wasn’t it mainly Saudi nationals who took flying lessons and asked for a discount because they didn’t need to learn how to land?

So, Malcolm will ring Donald today and argue that the US should take them!

Why? Because well, we can’t! No, no it’s not because we’re worried that they’re a security threat. No, no, not at all, we’ve been holding them in an off-shore detention centre… No, not like Guantanamo Bay…Well, yes a bit like that… but not because they’ve done anything wrong – apart from try to come to Australia. No, it’s because letting them come here would send the wrong message to people smugglers if we were to resettle them in a nice country like Australia… but taking them to the US, well that’s not something that would incentivise people to make the dangerous journey by boat. Look, it’s just a favour. Can you take them? Come on, we took those ones from Central America and you were going to take these ones! That was the deal even though we said that it wasn’t… We made this deal with Obama and… Hello? hello? Can you get, Mr Trump back on the line? We seem to have been cut off.

But like the TPP – where the Coalition was so confident that they didn’t do any modelling – and everyone having access to the NBN by 2016 and cutting back the debt, Malcolm is confident. I hope he does manage to persuade The T-Rump, but somehow I think we have more chance of Barnaby Joyce giving some sensible advice on housing or a One Nation senator admitting that there’s an area where they’re not an expert so they’d like some advice.

Speaking of cutting back the debt, did anyone notice that Mr Morrison will be raising debt ceiling past $500 billion, telling us: “Despite the debt and deficit legacy we inherited as a government we continue to make progress in getting the growth in government expenditure under control and arresting the growth in Commonwealth debt, which is still well below that of many comparable and other AAA rated economies.”

While yes, I agree with his assertion that we’re still below many comparable, triple A economies, it does seem a strange thing to suggest that you’re making progress when all you’re doing is boasting about reducing the rate of growth in expenditure. That means it’s still growing. It’s like saying, “Yes, doctor, I haven’t reduced my drinking, but I’ve slowed down the rate at which I’m increasing it! Surely that’s impressive. If I’d keep up last year’s rate, I’d have been drinking a bottle of scotch and two bottles of wine by 2020, by at this rate it’ll take me till 2022 to get there.”

Let’s just ignore that Labor had gone through the GFC and many of the items that were causing the increase in expenditure were arguably good ideas which would have produced economic benefits in the longer term like Gonksi, the NBN and the NDIS. Compare that with submarines, planes that don’t fly, helicopter flights and running an offshore detention centre where nobody’s quite sure who authorised the spending of a billion dollars, but someone must have because we spent it, so what’s the big deal?

Anyway, for those wondering about the title and for those who’d enjoy watching it again (particularly the opening minute where he gets rid of Abbott), here’s Malcolm as the Black Knight:

Workless – why Scott Morrison Should Get Out Less And Read More!

In London, our Treasurer, Scott Morrison made the observation that negative gearing wasn’t responsible for higher house prices because Britain had high house prices too, and they didn’t have Australia’s tax concessions. Now, while I could spend a long time speculating about why that makes about as much sense as smoking doesn’t cause lung cancer because Fred got it and he doesn’t smoke, I think I’d be better to concentrate on the fact that he went on to tell us that if we did what Labor wanted and grandfathered negative gearing for existing properties then real estate values would crash.

Some of you may wonder – as you did in the election campaign – how such a thing could be. I guess we truly are living in a world of “alternative facts”. No, it doesn’t push up prices but they’d suddenly become a lot lower if we abolished it. I vaguely remember some Coalition MP trying to tell us that it would push the prices up for buyers but down for sellers. Huh?

Now it would be presumptuous of me to lecture the Treasurer on matters economic because I’m no expert. I have no qualifications or training. And it’s only in the area of climate change that one can say that one’s opinion derived from a gut instinct is just as good as people who have spent years studying it. So I’m just going to compose a little reading list for Scott which might help more than a trip to the UK, where he can come back and tell us that he learnt that not only were prices high in London, but they were in pounds.

The first thing I’d recommend that Mr Morrison read is Tim Dunlop’s excellent book: “(Why The Future Is) Workless”
Dunlop places our current predicament in context by examining the history of the work ethic and looks at how robots and apps like Uber are changing the way people work. While our politicians and some of the commenteriat take the view that this is just a temporary blip and when things get back to normal then we can get those lazy bludgers back to work, “Workless” sets out the reasons why this is unlikely to happen. Dunlop further challenges the notion that every time we use a machine to perform a job that a human once did, then another less mundane job is created. It’d certainly be worth Mr Morrison’s time to read it, but failing that, perhaps a few of us should clip out bits and start sending them to our MPs. In light of the recent Centrelink debacle this quote from the book with a question about the extent to which they agree might be good place to start: “The privatised employment agency became an agent of government control while the role of government changed from provision of welfare to one of surveillance.” However, if you feel that your MP is capable of reading more than one line, then this it might be worth seeking his opinion on this:

“In a world where technology is likely to drive either job losses, or at the very least, a rise in precarious employment, the idea that people should have to rely on having a job in order to participate in society in a decent way is an increasingly obscene idea. To maintain our current work ethic –one that equates having a job with human decency and moral rectitude –is not only anachronistic but cruel. In a world where huge swathes of humans are surplus to the requirements of the economy, you either change the means of distribution or you create a world where a substantial part of the population are forced to wallow in squalor and insecurity, while a tiny proportion of people live lives of untold luxury.”

Of course, Scott may not have enough time to read a whole book in between meals on his trip back from London, so perhaps this short article might help him grasp the concept that jobs won’t appear by themselves: How To Make American Robots Great Again!

I was going to recommend that our current Treasurer also read Kevin Kelly’s “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future”, but, like the decision not to do any modelling on the USA pulling out of the TPP because it was hypothetical, this book talks about the future and nobody can predict the future. (Even if I had a stab at writing the news stories for February last week!) For example, just look at this excerpt from Kelly’s book:

‘In late 1994, Time magazine explained why the internet would never go mainstream: “It was not designed for doing commerce, and it does not gracefully accommodate new arrivals.” Wow! Newsweek put the doubts more bluntly in a February 1995 headline: “The Internet? Bah!” The article was written by an astrophysicist and network expert, Cliff Stoll, who argued that online shopping and online communities were an unrealistic fantasy that betrayed common sense. “The truth is no online database will replace your newspaper,” he claimed. “Yet Nicholas Negroponte, director of the MIT Media Lab, predicts that we’ll soon buy books and newspapers straight over the Internet. Uh, sure.” Stoll captured the prevailing skepticism of a digital world full of “interacting libraries, virtual communities, and electronic commerce” with one word: “baloney.”
‘This dismissive attitude pervaded a meeting I had with the top leaders of ABC in 1989. I was there to make a presentation to the corner-office crowd about this “Internet Stuff.” To their credit, the executives of ABC realized something was happening. ABC was one of the top three mightiest television networks in the world; the internet at that time was a mere mosquito in comparison. But people living on the internet (like me) were saying it could disrupt their business. Still, nothing I could tell them would convince them that the internet was not marginal, not just typing, and, most emphatically, not just teenage boys. But all the sharing, all the free stuff seemed too impossible to business executives. Stephen Weiswasser, a senior VP at ABC, delivered the ultimate put-down: “The Internet will be the CB radio of the ’90s,” he told me, a charge he later repeated to the press. Weiswasser summed up ABC’s argument for ignoring the new medium: “You aren’t going to turn passive consumers into active trollers on the internet.”
‘I was shown the door. But I offered one tip before I left. “Look,” I said. “I happen to know that the address abc.com has not been registered. Go down to your basement, find your most technical computer geek, and have him register abc.com immediately. Don’t even think about it. It will be a good thing to do.” They thanked me vacantly. I checked a week later. The domain was still unregistered.’

See, people can’t predict the future. That’s why the Liberals keep trying to return us to the 1950s. Ok, not all of them. Turnbull does seem to think that by clicking his heels and saying “Innovation…innovation…innovation, there’s no need for the CSIRO”, he and Toto will return to Kansas and discover it was all a horrible dream… Oh wait, that was that old film with Judy Garland in it, not the Coalition’s innovation policy. Easy mistake to make, they’re both a sort of fantasy about a place called Oz.

Anyway it’d be nice to actually have some sort of informed discussion about the nature of work in the coming decades instead of simply asserting that everybody needs to have a job. Perhaps, we should all chip in and buy a copies of “Workless” and “The Inevitable” to send to George Brandis’ library. While we’re at it, we should probably add “Most Likely To Succeed” by Tony Wagner and Ted Dintersmith. At least then, there’d be some books written this century that wasn’t a biography of a Liberal politician.