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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.

Coalition Announces That They Will “Meet And Beat” (Not About Prayer Room!)

Ok, I can’t help it but every time a Coalition MP says that they “meet and beat” their targets, I can’t help but think of that staffer and the minister’s desk.

I know, I know, it’s juvenile when we’re dealing with an important issue like climate change… Or rather, it’s juvenile when we’re not dealing with climate change.

For the first time in my memory, Barnaby Joyce seems to have summed up the government position better than anyone: Australia is not committing to spending money until they’ve seen the plan and until they have an idea of the cost they can’t possibly put a plan together.

This is so much clearer than Scott Morrison’s: “We must take action, as we indeed are, and continue to take action, as we will continue to, in developed countries, in advanced economies.” And, of course, Morrison did refer to the plan: “Our commitments are backed up by plans, and we don’t make them lightly. We consider them carefully.”

Yes, they’re considering their plan carefully. Just like their Car Pork Plan. Ok, the announcement of the intention to develop a plan did seem a little rushed but they needed to get the spreadsheet in place before they went into caretaker mode because you can’t allocate new funding to such a blatant bribe, if you’re in caretaker mode. Or something like that, but now they’ve been re-elected, they’re taking their time with the plans which is why only a couple of carparks have been built when nearly fifty were promised. No, now they’re taking their time and saying: “That carpark you were promised, do you still need it now that there’s no longer a station where you were planning to build it?”

At which point, Josh or whoever the local MP is, can say, “Now let’s consider this. We can build the car park where the station isn’t and then promise a few million dollars to build the station. That’s a win/win.”

Of course, some of you want to see the detail of the plan, but that would be contrary to everything this PM stands for. Remember when he took over as Minister for Immigration and announced that they wouldn’t be telling us how many boats were arriving because that only helped the people smugglers? When he was asked why his party had been helping people smugglers for years by announcing boat arrivals under Labor, he had a very good answer but he wasn’t prepared to reveal it because that would have only helped someone else and why should he help someone who isn’t in the inner circle.

So, we can relax because the government is going to respond with a careful plan and they’ll know how they can get there and what it will cost… Or to put the way Scotty and the guys working on climate change action into a different context, let’s imagine that they’re building a house.

First we need to have some land, and luckily they’ve been able to purchase some for less than ten times its market value. Next we need to decide how soon we can get the house onto the land and, as the PM said about climate change and the vaccine rollout, “We can’t get there until we do, but we’ll get there when we do and it won’t be a moment too soon or too late, it’ll be the finish of the race…”

Ok, that’s not an exact quote but his exact quotes are just giving me a headache lately because I’m having lots or trouble creating someone more banal while still having all the meaning of a song where the chorus consists of some sort of “Doo Whoop Ron Ron baby yeah!”

Anyway, now that we’ve established that the house can’t be built until it is, we need to look at our next step and we can’t rush that. We need to know how we’re going to actually manage to build the house before we can start working out costs. I mean, there’s a lot to take into account, like will certain things be better to use because technology changes things and until we know that we can’t possibly start a plan for how to actually start the house. However, we do have a plan and it’s to get the house there even if we don’t know what sort of house it is, how many bedrooms, the building materials and when we’re actually going to engage an architect. And until we have the blueprint, we can’t go around issuing blank cheques to our future expenditure because we need to remember that the future is uncertain and, anyway, I believe in miracles…

Tempted to write, “You sexy thing”, but Hot Chocolate haven’t had a hit since the seventies and it might make me sound old, and even more out of touch with this century than the Coalition…

Now, it’d be interesting to compare the “We can’t commit till we see the plan” on climate change with “You want to apply for a change room for girls for your men’s only yachting club? Well, I don’t see a problem there, have some money and work out the girls later!”

I’ll let someone else do that. I’ve decided I need a hot chocolate…

Oh, did anyone else notice that Josh leaked to the media about Morrison dropping the “F” bomb on a call to the NSW Treasurer? One article was at pains to point out that Frydenberg was on the call too. Maybe they were just protecting their source but apparently Josh leaks more than The Titanic...

 

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Perhaps COVID Is A Left-wing Plot To Reduce Conservative Voters…

The trouble with conspiracy theories is that they often have something plausible to a post-60s generation. Prior to that era people were basically gullible… In films, bad guys were always punished, as were bad women, and even when the police were corrupt, they’d meet a sticky end. We were expected to trust the Establishment, work hard and we’d get ahead.

Now, we’re more cynical, so it’s easy for a conspiracy theory to take hold because we want to believe that someone’s actually got some plan and that they’re in control even if we don’t like it. At least, when we stop THEM, the good people can take over.

And when people march in the street protesting that we should watch out because governments are taking away our rights, I have to admit that I would be prepared to join them if only they’d mobilised when we allowed anti-terror laws to turn into the sort of country that has secret trials and various other things which take away the very rights that we’ve had since the Magna Carta was signed by that English king who had worse people skills than Peter Dutton.

And when people suggest that we shouldn’t trust Big Pharma because they push a lot of unnecessary things on us, I could agree were it not for the fact that some of the people who called COVID a hoax decided to stop doing so after the sort of life-changing epiphany that is also known as dying from it.

Ok, I know what you’re going to say: If things have changed, why do we still have the same forces of evil being elected? Where’s the socialist utopias? Why do people elect billionaires who tell them that they can’t trust unions? Why isn’t something done about climate change? Why did Barnaby Joyce complain about government being in his life just before he become one of the leaders of said government? Why does Matt Canavan open his mouth to say things when the only good reason he could possibly have is to eat? Is there ever a good reason to name someone George when George the Third was mad? Is there a reason for the existence of Clive Palmer apart from the obvious reason that he makes me feel like it’s possible for any idiot to sway a large number of voters so long as he enough money and a refusal to acknowledge copyright laws?

Yes, these are all good questions.

I suspect that the answer is that the right wing have grabbed hold of the conspiracy theories that made paranoid people vote for left wing parties or refuse to vote at all and swept them all up into things like MAGA or QANON, or, even worse, the Scott Morrison fan club.

Sky After Dark presents theories that would be more at home in the sort of undergraduate newspaper that was started by university students who felt that the one run by the student union was too far right because it merely advocated for the overthrow of the system and didn’t have a clear agenda for mandating anarchy with rules that would prevent a new hegemony from taking its place. Once upon a time, success was valued by the Murdoch empire but to get a gig on Sky After Dark you merely need to be shunned by your party, lose an election or have criminal charges laid against you at some point in your life.

Pauline Hanson – the Liberal who lost preselection because she revealed her party’s intention to attack immigrants and indigenous people before the election ruining Howard’s intention for it to be a happy surprise for all those racists who’d been silenced by people who didn’t understand that being a Liberal entitled one to be, well, it just entitled one, didn’t it?# – went so far as to tell us that she wouldn’t be vaccinated and that it was her right to die from COVID and, on that, who am I to do anything but support her?

And then it become clear…

COVID is a left-wing plot to get rid of the people silly enough to listen to conservatives who tell them not to get vaccinated thus reducing the number of people prepared to vote against their own interests… Ok, it’s a bit harsh like the Stalinist purges and Mao’s cultural revolution but that’s what the left is like!

Yeah, quote that previous paragraph at some anti-vaxer and watch the whole conversation change. Ok, they won’t agree, but then you can just have fun using all their previous arguments against them. You know, like when the same people who argue that people didn’t die of Covid-19 they died with it and it wasn’t the cause of death, turn around and try to argue that this person was vaccinated and they died so it was probably the cause of death and not the fact that they’re parachute failed to open when they were learning to skydive…

# For more on the subject of entitlement, I am working on a book called “Go Ask Alex”, which tells the story of how a very promising Liberal’s leadership was ruined when he found that the jokes that went down a treat with his friends lead to an addiction to being humorous which meant that he made fun of domestic violence. After that it was a long sad decline, leading to him being a figure of ridicule, even for those in Liberal circles. In his final years, he was reduced to writing columns in the media for no other reason than to make his colleagues look less ridiculous.

 

 

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Gladys, Climate Change And Why Some Days Everything Is So Obvious…

TNow, I’d think that this is hardly worth mentioning but then sometimes I think that and people go: “Wow, I never thought about it like that!” or “Gee, I’d forgotten that!”

In the past few days, an “important message” appeared in my letterbox. It was addressed to the adult householder and sealed so while I was tempted to think that it was something akin to the old sealed section of Cleo and dismiss it, I thought I’d better open it just so I could assert that I was, indeed, an adult member of my household.

To my astonishment it was from Clive Palmer telling me the figures from the CDC in the USA which showed how dangerous vaccinations were…

At this point, I should once again point out that I’m always wary of statistics, particularly when they come from people with an agenda. For example, “Never go to hospital! More people have died in Australian hospitals than all the astronauts killed in space flights put together, and we all know how dangerous space travel is.”

So back to Clive Palmer. I happened to mention this booklet to a work colleague and they expressed the view that, while they hadn’t read it, it certainly confirmed all their worst fears about the vaccines. I simply asked them if they had any similar concerns when Palmer was pushing hydroxychloroquine. They had no memory of it.

“Yes,” I insisted, “last year he donated all this hydroxychloroquine to the federal government. I’m just wondering if he’s got a stockpile somewhere and he’s trying to get people worried about vaccines so that he can shift his stockpile.”

I was accused of falling for a conspiracy theory yet again.

“Yet again?”

“Yeah, like how you’ve embraced all this climate change stuff even though there’s no evidence that the polar ice is melting. That photo with the polar bear was staged, you know.”

“Where did you hear that?”

“I can’t remember but it was a very reliable source. And you’re just going along with this whole Covid thing without thinking about it.”

“Whereas those listening to Clive Palmer and Alan Jones are thinking for themselves?”

“Exactly. This Covid is no worse than the flu.”

“But the flu kills millions.”

“Yeah, but we don’t lockdown whole cities and quarantine and vaccinate people because of the flu.”

“Actually we do vaccinate people because of the flu.”

At this point I started to understand how Sky After Dark has an audience, but later on that day I had an even bigger epiphany.

The news followed a report on Gladys Berijiklian’s progress in getting Sydney’s Covid situation under control with a report about some group or other telling us that governments needed to work together on climate change action.

Now I know this is obvious but I couldn’t help but think how putting the two things together made what I’d generously call the Liberal way of preparing for the future. It’s surprisingly the same modus operandi.

  1. While other governments are taking precautions and shutting down, we want to keep things open. No need to reduce emissions/lock Sydney down until we’re sure there’s a problem.
  2. All right we can see a tiny problem here, but there’s no need to panic and shut down because we can just mitigate the effects and keep a strong economy while adopting a “Can do” attitude.
  3. Ok, it seems to be getting a little bit out of control and people want us to do something but we might just wait and see if it’s really out of control because there’s no point in doing something until we’re absolutely sure our actions will be balanced.
  4. Mm, this is a real worry we should do something but not too much because we don’t want to cost people too much. We need to balance the economy with people’s lives and work out which is more important in a given instance.
  5. Well, it’s all happening, so it’s really too late for prevention so we’ll just rely on people and businesses to do the right thing and hope that technology/vaccines can save us.

Like I said, it’s obvious really. I once said that when I first bought a home, I one day hoped to live in a million dollar property. Little did I realise that it would happen without me moving. I also imagined that it would be a beachfront property. Given the way climate change action is happening, that might also happen without me moving, too

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“This Won’t Be A Sympathetic Interview, Mr Morrison!”

Sig O’Phant: Good evening, tonight we’re bringing you an interview with the Prime Minister. Good evening, Mr Morrison.

Morrison: Evening.

Sig: Now, this is going to be a hard-hitting interview and I’m not going to let you get away with anything because that’s my job.

Morrison: Of course,

Sig: So I have to ask the hard questions, even though I personally may not think that they’re fair.

Morrison: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sig: I mean, you know I didn’t actually write these questions.

Morrison: Let’s get on with it.

Sig: Right. Ok, first question: You’ve had a particularly rough week, how are you sleeping?

Morrison: Not too bad. I’m missing Jen and the kids, of course, because I’ve had to go back to Canberra and quarantine for Parliament but, as PM, one has to make sacrifices. The Olympics have helped and weren’t Australia great in the pool. It’s just wonderful that we’ve managed to secure the 2032 gig for Brisbane thanks to the hard work of whole range of people in my government.

Sig: Excellent. On another matter, are you worried about Sydney?

Morrison: Well, it’s hard not to be, but they have an excellent leader and I’m sure she’s trying her best, even if the task does seem a little beyond her at the moment, but we’re here ready to give whatever support they need and I think that you’ll find that now I’ve talked her into a lockdown, things should be fine any day now.

Sig: So will you be re-introducing JobKeeper?

Morrison: I don’t see the need for that. It was introduced to solve a particular problem and we’re not going to solve last year’s problems with this year’s solutions. We’re going to solve tomorrow’s problems by concentrating on what needs to be done, which is what my government is doing. We’re getting on with it. There’s no point in being wise in hindsight and there’s no point in regretting what you might have done if you’d done something that probably wouldn’t have helped because vaccines aren’t the answer to stopping lockdowns, we just need to be thankful that our Health Minister has worked night and day to get more at some future date so that we don’t need to lock down.

Sig: Someone was suggesting that the only way to suppress the vaccine is to get more vaccines into Sydney. Why don’t we just take them from the states that have no Covid and put the guns where the battle is most intense?

Morrison: Thanks, it was a beautiful Beef Rendang, which is one of the kid’s favourites. Taste.com.au have the recipe.

Sig: Um, er… ah… ok. Mr Morrison, what curry did you cook for your last meal with your family?

Morrison: Yes, we have considered that but it just wouldn’t be fair to those states who didn’t get any. I mean we need to give extra to Sydney but not at the expense of those who need it too because there’s a need and thanks to us we have millions of vaccines on their way in 2022. Thanks to the work of Mr Hunt, millions have had their first dose

Sig: Um… And they enjoyed it?

Morrison: The protests were selfish and they achieved no purpose. If anything they’ve extended the lockdown.

Sig: Excuse me, Mr Morrison, but I think we’ve got our questions and answers jumbled. Would you like to start again?

Morrison: No, let’s just keep going. You can edit them letter and put them all in the right order.

Sig: Ok, but that could be a bit confusing for the rest of the interview. I’m not sure…

Morrison: Your next question was the one about the Labor Party and their backflip on tax cuts.

Sig: I can’t find it.

Morrison: Never mind, find it later and edit it in. I’ll just give you my answer: This just shows that Labor can’t be trusted. They said that they were against them at the next election and now they’ve flipped. How are they going to pay for their promises without the revenue from these taxes?

Sig: I think that’s all I was supposed to ask.

Morrison: You were supposed to ask me about leadership tensions in the Labor Party and how Shorten wants Albanese’s job.

Sig: I thought he wanted your job… Sorry, that was a joke.

Morrison: Not funny. Oh, and by the way, can you keep spreading the rumour that I’ll call an early election if Dutton or Josh actually get the numbers for a spill.

Sig: So you were serious about that?

Morrison: Of course not, but they don’t know that. Although, if they do have the numbers I’d probably be better taking my chance with the electorate, wouldn’t I? I mean, imagine how many more car parks and change rooms we could allocate with the Covid stimulus excuse.

Sig: Ok, well, I’ll get the producer onto the editing. thanks, Mr Morrison.

Morrison: Thank you.

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

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Scott Morrison And The Ministry Of Information And Stuff That We Should Believe…

In a crisis, good information is paramount so it’s really lucky that this isn’t a crisis.

Just in case you’re confused, it’s not a crisis because we have everything on target and going to plan and now, we have a four phase plan which describes what will happen in the future assuming that it does. Added to this we now have some army guys running “Operation Covid Shield” which aims to shield the Prime Minister from any awkward questions by having the generals answer them. General Frewen announced in June that we were having a “complete refresh” which is army talk for: ‘’We just sustained a series of heavy defeats so we’re pretending that our strategy of retreat and surrender is part of a new plan for victory.”

But I think you’ll all agree that it’s good to have the army in charge… Well, not in charge. There hasn’t been a military coup, in spite of Dutton being Defence Minister. The vaccine rollout had been in the hands of private companies but like the Covid-Safe App and JobKeeper, it soon became apparent that this was only fifty percent effective. While it didn’t actually help with the battle against Covid-19, it did manage to transfer money from the pockets of the government into private industry which – as anyone following the Liberals knows – it’s better that people have the money rather than governments.

To illustrate this you only have to look at the Great Barrier Reef foundation who were given nearly half a billion dollars without asking for it, or the Car Park scheme where money was allocated for a car park next to a non-existent train station. You wouldn’t get private industry spending money like that. No, as the Liberals keep telling us, don’t trust us with anything, we’re incompetent! Well, they don’t say it quite like that, but they tell us that governments can’t be trusted to be efficient, even when they’re the government.

Anyway, back to the importance of information in battling Covid-19. Let’s clearly set it all out:

  1. Lockdowns are bad for the economy and we need to work to avoid them, and the Prime Minister says Gladys is wonderful because she’s managed to do just that.
  2. In order to stop lockdowns you need to get vaccinated.
  3. People aren’t getting vaccinated because there’s some confusion about the fact that they can’t book in unless they see their doctor and if they’re under sixty lots of doctors are telling them that they’d be better to wait for the Pfizer dose which is coming in millions of doses in the coming months.
  4. Scott Morrison’s office leaks to journalists that he was the one who encouraged Gladys to lockdown.
  5. More than half of Australia’s population is in lockdown, so you need to consider asking your doctor again about Astra-Zeneca because things have changed.
  6. We need to get more people vaccinated to get the economy moving.
  7. Brendan Murphy and the PM are telling us that more vaccinations wouldn’t have stopped the current lockdowns anyway because Delta is happening in other countries who have a much better vaccine rollout…
  8. By much better vaccine rollout, it should be made very clear that they only had a better rollout because they weren’t victims of their own success like we were and they thought it was a race.
  9. It wasn’t a race but now it is and we have to catch up, so will someone do a story about the restorative power of curries when it comes to hair growth?

I think that’s about it.

Quotes from the movie, Forrest Morrison:

“Life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re getting unless you look at the bottom of the box and then all the chocolates fall out.” – Scotty

”Listen, you promise me something, OK? Just if you’re ever in trouble, don’t be brave. You just run, OK? Just run away.” – Jenny

“I may not be a smart man, Jenny, but I know what polls are.” Scotty

”Run, Scotty, run!” Rupert Murdoch

”Stupid is as, stupid does.” Barnaby Joyce.

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Why Did We Need Katie Hopkins When We Have So Many Unemployed Bigots Here Already?

Ah, cancel culture strikes and Katie Hopkins is sent away simply because she refused to obey the law… The outrage industry strikes again.

I know I’m repeating myself, but well, isn’t history just littered with people who repeat themselves until somebody says why didn’t they say that before and when the person says that they did, they’re asked why they didn’t say it more often…

Ok, in capitals so we all hear it:

WHY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY PAID TO BE OUTRAGED ALL THE TIME LIKE BOLT AND JONES, THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ACCUSE OTHER PEOPLE OF BEING PART OF AN ‘OUTRAGE INDUSTRY”???

But then there’s a lot of things I don’t understand!

For example, what are we to make of this?

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government is in ‘constant appeal’ for the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to change its advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine.” Sky News

However the matter doesn’t end there with Scotty thundering at reporters: “Are you suggesting that the government when advised by the technical and advisory group on immunisation, some of the most senior level scientific medicos in the country, tell the government that the preferred vaccine for people of particular ages is 50 then they changed it to 60 that the government should refuse that advice?”

Yep, but the recent brouhaha with Katie Hopkins confuses me even more.

Ok, it’s true that there’s a certain irony that someone who is so hostile to lockdowns would come all the way to Australia just so she could be locked down in the Big Brother house, However, one wonders whether she was ever more than a publicity stunt for Channel 7. You know, “We’ll pay you X amount to come to Australia and be so offensive that we sack you. You can go back home and every news outlet will be giving us free publicity and then you can go back home and do some interviews about cancel culture!”

Win/win!

Anyway, I sort of have trouble when “conservatives” decide that they can break the law because they don’t agree with it. Yeah, yeah, I get that people need to break laws when they feel that they’re unjust or something… But when someone like Sally McManus – that union person – says something about being prepared to do just that, wasn’t she’s told that the LAW is sacrosanct? It’s not up to us to decide, to pick and choose what laws to follow – but hey, she wasn’t a CONSERVATIVE saying that we should break the law. She was one of those people who don’t understand their place and who thinks that they can break laws just because they want to, as opposed to people who have lawyers who can get them off…

Hmm, I’m tempted to make some tasteless joke about Gladys dating her lawyer because she needs someone who can get her off, but that may seem sexist to some and I may be forced to do that optional training that’s meant to solve sexual harassment and bullying in Federal Parliament. Oh wait, it’s optional. Yes, well that should make about as much difference as Scotty’s recent hair transplant makes to the vaccine rollout.

Yes, compare the favourable coverage some publican in Echuca received from Nine News when he decided to defy the lockdown and stay open with how they react when some poor casual worker decides to keep working in breach of health orders. One is doing it because it’s hard to keep a business afloat so we need to be understanding of the pressures, while the other is only doing it so that they can eat.

Whatever, it was good to see the PM demonstrate to us all that he’s still alive by holding a press conference where he announced that things were basically on target but just a little bit late and that’s mainly the fault of ATAGI… which, apart from the fact that he told us earlier this year that they wouldn’t be setting targets, does use the term «on target » in a rather unique way. «I was basically there for the ten o’clock meeting, apart from the fact that it started at ten and I arrived at midday! »

Of course, it was offensive of one journalist to suggest that the government do anything other than follow the health advice. That’s why the PM is adopting the Great Barrier Reef strategy. It would be wrong to ignore an independent body, so we’ll do the best we can to pressure them to give us the advice we want to follow. And if that doesn’t work, we can cut their funding like we did with the audit office… Mind you that only works if they’re funded by the government.

Yes, sometimes Scott Morrison just rambles on with meaningless waffles and lies, but other times, he disappears and says nothing.

Either way, his detractors are never satisfied… and speaking of Dutton and Frydenberg, apparently, Dutton thinks he has the numbers but without Mathias there to confirm them, he’s not willing to move. Josh was sure he had the numbers but after a recount, he discovered that he was short by sixty billion…

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Barnaby Has Already Achieved Net Zero!

One thing I’ve noticed about Coalition governments is that they like to tell us that they have a plan. Ok, exactly what it is may not be self-evident. I guess that’s why they need to tell just that there is one even if it’s; a) commercial-in-confidence or; b) part of a booklet that us that doesn’t mention the details but has lots of photos of Coalition MPs or; c) being developed in greater detail to be released some time in the very near future… Yes, in the scheme of human history any time this century is in the near future.

So it was rather surprising to hear Barnaby Joyce on the ABC this morning tell us that he couldn’t commit to net zero until he’d had a chance to look at the plan and consider the whether saving the planet was worth the cost…

Ok, I’m going to have to digress and make a point that I’ve made many times before: WE ARE NOT SAVING THE PLANET WITH ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE!!

That might sound a bit controversial. I may even sound like I’ve gone back to my National Party roots when I say that the planet’s climate has changed many times in its history and that it’ll adapt. but hear me out. Of course, the planet will adapt. It’s humans that may not. We may become extinct and take all those things we regard as cute and cuddly with us, leaving just the cockroaches… which, in spite of what some may think, does not include Rupert Murdoch and his stenographers.

Yes, Barnaby wanted the Labor Party to release a plan for achieving net zero. He didn’t seem to realise that he’s been in government for the past eight years… perhaps that’s because he’s been a bit disoriented over the past few years owing to… can I say a range of factors without another Coalition MP getting all litigious?

Anyway, he did tell us where he was – Walcha Road – several times in the interview… perhaps it was code, perhaps it was a request for someone to come looking for him. Whatever, it certainly answers my charge about him being disoriented incorrect when it comes to geography. However, I was referring to that video he released where he demanded that the government get out of his life… Personally, I agree and think it would be awesome if the government had no connection to Joyce, however…

So Labor, it’s up to you. Barnaby has told us that they don’t have a plan and this is a problem for Scott Morrison – who we’re told wants to achieve net zero emissions at the same time as vaccinating the population. Both are to happen, “as soon as possible” which is a pretty ambitious plan for most of us, but it seems pretty pedestrian for a man like him who believes in miracles. Couldn’t we have at least one of them happening before it’s possible instead of waiting for the possible? Otherwise, where’s the miracle?

sigh<

Maybe I should just congratulate Barnaby for achieving net zero in politics and conclude that maybe the planet knows what its doing and when the cockroaches take over, it might be an improvement.

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Josh Frydenberg: Why Everything Is Labor’s Fault But Liberals Are Just Victims Of Circumstance!

From the time of the oil shocks of the 70s, there’s been one consistent approach to the rhetoric of the Liberal Party: If Labor were in power when something happens, then it’s their fault but if the Liberals are in power, it’s also Labor’s fault… unless we can claim that it was obviously nothing to do with us and any suggestion from Labor is just playing politics with something that should be above politics… That’s the thing with Labor, they play politics, we don’t, we just get on with the job of finding some scapegoat and moving on in the hope that you’ll be upset that Labor dared to say anything when hindsight is easy from those people who warned us that this was likely to happen!

Anyway, I couldn’t help but notice that over the past week a couple of interesting things have happened with regard to the whole pandemic thing. First, there was the brouhaha about whether or not Kevin Rudd had any effect in the acceleration of the Pfizer rollout. While the front page of The Australian told us that millions of extra doses were here, they seemed to be using the word “here” in a way that I don’t find consistent with the dictionary definition, and it seems to me that what we have is another announcement that we’ve moved from the front of the queue to further up the queue and our improved place means that we’ll actually be getter more doses sooner than was scheduled even though they’re not really needed because, apparently, vaccines wouldn’t have prevented the Sydney lockdown or as some people call it, « the ban on browsing in shops that aren’t big Liberal donors »!

But putting aside whether Rudd was successful or not, and putting aside any suggestion that Rudd was trying to make himself seem like the country’s saviour. Put Kevin completely to one side and don’t even start with the “at least he tried” or anything. If we accept that Kevin didn’t achieve anything, what are we left with?

It seems that the current Prime Minister (Scott Morrison, in case you’ve forgotten) could make 55 phone calls trying to get Marty Corman a job, but when it comes to contacting Pfizer, “he doesn’t hold a phone, mate!”! Of course, the government can soon jump to action when there’s a genuine emergency. Look how quickly they responded when Kevin was getting a bit of thanks. How quickly they contacted Pfizer and got a spokesperson to tell everyone that Kevin had no role in contractual negotiations. Speed of light when something’s really important…

Of course, I know some of you can’t help but point out that there was never any suggestion that Kevin was involved in contracts. And some of you will be wondering how high up the spokesperson was. But leave all that and give credit where credit is due. When it comes to patting themselves on the back, the current mob of Liberals are gold standard.

All of which brings me to Joshie from the now-marginal seat of Kooyong and his performance on 7.30.

I’m going to begin by saying that the obvious way to deal with things is to establish clear guidelines before an event. If you haven’t done that because the unexpected happens then put in place rules or guidelines for what happens in the future. For example, if worker can take time off to go with their partner for their baby’s ultrasound because we have a family-friendly workplace, does that mean that another worker can take time off to get my partner pregnant? Obviously not, and unless the rules are clearly spelled out then you have all sorts of questions about what’s allowable and what’s not and if the boss’s partner is given time off to get his or her hair cut, then you’re going to have resentment, even if you do say that in the future you can all get you hair cut on company time.

Apparently, we’re all sick of Daniel Andrews’ whinging. Now, I know that not everyone stands with Dan, but I find it hard to imagine that even his worst critics would suggest that he’s spent the past year or so complaining. As far as playing politics goes, Andrews seems to have worked constructively with Scott Morrison which is nearly as amazing as seeing « Scott Morrison » and « work » in the same sentence. But no, pointing out that Victoria has had to fight for every cent while NSW is presented with heaps of extra funding is just « whinging ». Josh and his state Liberal mates have never been guilty of that. They’ve never complained because there was a lockdown then complained that the lockdown wasn’t quick enough. No, they’ve just been terribly constructive.

Josh went on to dismiss any criticism as “bots and Trots”! That’s the sort of witty rhyme that must go down a treat at Liberal functions but will annoy anyone who doesn’t think they’re a robot and doesn’t identify with the Trotskyists… And no, I don’t mean the Maoists and Stalinists!

But I guess that’s the way the right-wing works. Any criticism is just envy! Why, who hasn’t made a mistake and vaccinated 160 boys who just happened to have consent forms? The fact that it was a private school has nothing to do with it: You’re just starting class warfare. This is political correctness gone mad. Refusing to buy something because you don’t approve of the people who are behind it? Why, that’s cancel culture. Once everyone’s on an Indue card, we will decide who you purchase from and the circumstances in which you purchase!

Is it too far-fetched to suggest that in the near future, we’ll have some Liberal-friendly commentator saying that the current mess is all the fault of Labor for not winning the last election?

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Scotty The Inspiration For My Own Four Phase Plan!

There’s something very reassuring and inspiring about the Prime Minister’s four phase plan.

No, I don’t mean the one about post photos of Jen and the girls if photos of him making a curry isn’t enough to distract from the last SNAFU. In case you haven’t seen it,

  • PHASE 1: Reaching a certain vaccination threshold after offering all Australians the chance to get the vaccine
  • PHASE 2: Post-vaccination phase where focus shifts from suppressing the virus to minimising serious illness and death.
  • PHASE 3: Consolidation phase where health authorities manage Covid-19 similar to other infectious diseases like the flu.
  • PHASE 4: Complete return to normal with no lockdowns or border closures, and quarantine only for unvaccinated travellers.

As Scotty from 100 easy curries to make using more ingredients than you need, explained “The first phase is the one we are in – vaccinate, prepare and pilot…We continue to suppress the virus. That involves the implementation of the national vaccination plan to offer every Australian an opportunity to be vaccinated with the necessary doses of the relevant vaccine as soon as possible.” This explains why he was photographed sitting in the cockpit of that plane. It’s not because the pit was named after him; it’s to show that he’s our pilot. Phase one also includes the helpful information that we’ll reach “a certain vaccination threshold” which is so much better than the uncertain one that we’ve had until now. This also explains why he offered the under forties the chance to go to their doctor and be charged to have their GP tell them that they didn’t advise it and there weren’t enough vaccines to go round anyway.

See we’ll soon all have the opportunity because it’ll happen as soon as possible, which is the same deadline for so many other priorities like an integrity commission, an inquiry by Phil Gaetjens or infrastructure in a safe Labor seat.

Of course many of you may have noticed that according to the PM, we’re not in Phase Two yet. That’s the one where «focus shifts from suppressing the virus to minimising serious illness and death.”

This explains why we need to open up, get out from under the doona and avoid lockdown until we say “whoops, should have done it before there were so many hot spots that nobody can be bothered reading them all.”

Anyway, Mr Morrison has inspired me to develop my own four phase plan for helping kids catch up after all the remote learning they’ve done.

  • PHASE 1: Reaching a certain attendance threshold after offering all students the chance to return to the classroom and teachers to ensure that they’re professionally dressed both top and bottom.
  • PHASE 2: Post-return phase where focus shifts from work students can be doing at home to situation where they can be distracted by nearby students instead of their siblings and parents.
  • PHASE 3: Consolidation phase where authorities manage any problems by suggesting it’s the fault of new fads in education, a lack of quality graduates becoming teachers, or teachers just not trying hard enough.
  • PHASE 4: Complete return to normal with no concern about how kids are learning and no remote learning or school closures, and stories about education reserved for when some narrow international test shows that we’re behind some other countries when we always able to be number one in the world like we are in all sports and other endeavours.

Before closing I’d just like to respond to what Julia Banks said about why she left politics. She’s accused Morrison of being menacing and like a wallpaper. Now I’d just like to point out that the only time anyone’s suggested that a wallpaper is «menacing » was in a 19th Century story called “The Yellow Wallpaper” about a woman with mental illness, and as we know from reports which the PMO assures us doesn’t come from them about all those other women negative saying things about the Big Swinging Dicks club, you can’t ever believe any woman who got stressed because none of the Liberal men have ever experienced sexism and anyone who has must be a bit of a girl who can’t stand the rough and tumble of politics like blokes can. Now I have it on good authority – not the PMO’s office, no definitely not, we don’t need another six month long inquiry into who knew nothing and what they didn’t say about what they didn’t know – that the Prime Minister reached out to Ms Banks and tried to understand but she was too upset to express her reasons clearly and what can a bloke do when a woman just says that she’s leaving because of the disgusting behaviour and bullying of the people in charge except shake his head and sigh and make another curry.

Say what you like about Mr Morrison. I always find him an inspiration.

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A Guide To Covid Vaccinations OR Naked Men Startle Deer…

Now a lot of people are suggesting that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the rollout of vaccines here in Australia. I’d like to point out that the only reason people are confused is that they’ve been listening to the updates from Morrison and Hunt instead of simply turning up and being either turned away or vaccinated.

Before I go on, did anyone actually have two naked men being startled by a deer AND Victoria one of a handful of places not in lockdown on their bingo card? You did? Well, I think if you can lie like that, there’s a place for you on the Coalition front bench…

Just to save time here, as well as sparing any Coalition MPs the expense of getting a lawyer to draft me a letter, I would just like to say that I apologise and any suggestion that any individual on the front bench of the Coalition has told a lie was made in error and I don’t wish to impugn the good name of anyone. I certainly wouldn’t wish to make them waste any more money on lawyers whether it’s their own or taxpayers. As I would be unable to mount a truth defence because there’s no evidence on the internet that any of them have actually said anything that they later say they never said, I feel my only course of action is to apologise and to agree to pay the costs that they haven’t incurred owing to the fact that my apology occurred before they received legal advice, making it an enormous win for whoever took offence to my suggestion that their statements may have been only loosely connected with what most people call reality. I think we can consider this an even bigger win for the Coalition than when strenuously-denier Christian Porter settled his case with the ABC.

Anyway, it’s quite simple:

  1. If you’re over 60 the Astra Zeneca vaccine is the best one for you to have.
  2. If you’re over 50, it was the best one but now it’s not, so don’t get it unless you already got your first dose, in which case you should get your second dose..
  3. IF you’re between 40 and 50, you are eligible to get a Pfizer dose as soon as you find someone who has one. It’s not recommended that you have the Astra Zeneca.
  4. If you’re under 40, you’ll be turned away unless the person at the centre doesn’t check your ID and like those pubs that served you when you were under 18, you can get away with getting the non-recommended Astra Zeneca.
  5. If you’re Jane Norman, you might get lucky and get a Pfizer.
  6. If you’re any age you can get an Astra Zeneca vaccine because it’s been clarified that there was never a time that you weren’t able to. It’s just that nobody would let you and now it’s a bit like growing up and putting on your big boy pants and saying, “You’re not my boss and I’m going to do this even though you told me that it was dangerous.”
  7. Because people are over-reacting to the potential side-effects and the fact that we were just told that lots of other vaccines are coming, we’d like to point out that all of them are relatively safe and effective, so go get one, but only after taking to your doctor who is indemnified against any hiccup.

I think that explains in a way that should be clear to everyone, except for Amanda Vanstone who went rogue and missed the memo that the states were hoarding vaccines and they should use what they had without the need to keep some for second doses. Her opinion piece in the Costello propaganda paper accused Victoria of mucking things up by using vaccines and not holding some back because we couldn’t expect to given extra for a second one for those who’d had their first. But then Amanda has never been great at… actually I was about to finish that sentence and so many things came to mind that I can’t actually remember which one I was intending to use.

Like the vaccine rollout, someone else will need to take over if it’s going to be finished any time in the near future.

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Why A Stay At Home Order Is Better Than A Lockdown!

“Hi Ben, I think it’s your shout.”

”Ok, two beers, thanks.”

“We better drink ‘em quickly before Dictator Dan gets back and shuts the whole state down.”

”Like in NSW you mean?”

”Nah, they’ve just got a stay at home order. That’s not a lockdown. Glorious Gladys doesn’t do lockdowns. She keeps the state running..”

”Actually I believe they’re calling it a lockdown now so you may have to stop calling Gladys ‘glorious’!”

“Well, even if they are locking down, it’s not really her fault.”

”How do you figure that?”

”Well all those other premiers were locking down unnecessarily when they only had a handful of cases, so she presumed that she wouldn’t have to because NSW would only be a handful of cases too.”

”Isn’t it possible that it’s because they locked down early that they only had a handful of cases?”

”I don’t think you can say that. As Scott Morrison said last year, we can’t hide under the doona forever.”

”So why is he in quarantine?”

”He just wants to keep us all safe.”

”Then why didn’t he vaccinate us all sooner? It sure looks like it should have been a race.”

”You just jump on any chance to criticise the Liberals. Thanks to Scomo we’re all a lot safer. Those vaccines are so dangerous they’re going to stop administering them after October.”

”That’s just Astra Zeneca. And even it’s got a much lower death rate than Covid, which I seem to remember you telling me was such a small death rate that we shouldn’t worry.”

”Yeah, but you can’t help getting Covid whereas you can refuse a vaccine because they’re all dangerous. Pauline Hanson and Clive Palmer have been alerting people to the fact that over two hundred people in Australia have died after getting the jab.”

”That doesn’t mean that the vaccination caused the deaths. I mean, if you get hit by a bus on the way home from the vaccination centre, you died after getting the injection but it doesn’t mean that Astra Zeneca was the cause.”

”Well, it does because if you didn’t go there you’d have been safe at home.”

“Like when we have a lockdown?”

”Ha ha.”

”Look, heaps of the first people to get vaccinated were in aged care, so that suggests that they were old and likely to be near death in many cases. I mean, Prince Phillip got a jab and then he died. Are you suggesting that the vaccination was responsible?”

”Seems likely!”

”What? He was 99!!”

”Exactly. He’d lived ninety nine years and then dies a few weeks after getting one. Can’t be coincidence.”

“Hang on, weren’t you saying just a few weeks ago that there was lots of people who were being diagnosed as having been killed by Covid when it they could have died of something else and they just happened to have the virus so the death rates were a lot lower than we were being told?”

”Yeah. So?”

”Well, that’s the exact opposite of what you’re now saying about the vaccines. You’re saying because the two things happen then there has to be a link whereas a few weeks ago you were saying that there was no link. This means that you re changing your argument to suit your beliefs.”

“So are you. If you didn’t accept that there were deaths that were blamed on the virus you can’t now say that all these people dying from injections and buses are just some coincidence.”

”That’s not exactly what I’m saying.”

”Well, what are you saying?”

”I’m not sure any more.”

”Whatever. I don’t think we should trust the government because they’re in the pocket of Big Pharma and they just want to make money.”

“Whereas Scotty from Marketing and Gladys the Great are insisting on keeping the economy open because that’s the way to keep most people healthy.”

”What about people’s mental health when you have a lockdown. Lots of people got very depressed and suicidal when they lost their business or their job.”

”Interesting that you had no interest in people’s mental health when I talked to you about Robodebt.”

”Ok, the point I was making is that those people were probably depressed anyway because they’d been unemployed so they were likely to kill themselves whereas the people I’m talking about are only depressed because of the government shutdown.”

”I’ve finished my beer. It must be your shout this time.”

”Speaking of shout, did you see the clip of Barnaby giving it to Labor in Parliament? Magnificent.”

”Just buy me the beer. If you going to talk about Joyce being Deputy PM, I’m going to need a drink.”

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Barnaby And The October Election That May Now Be Later!

Monday, 21st June.

You’d think Ben-Roberts-Smith-VC-Kerry-Stokes-Employee’s admission that he drank out of a replica of a prosthetic leg and not an actual prosthetic leg to the best of his recollection, would be the most absurd thing that you’d hear all day. As an admission in order to make one sound more reasonable, it’s right up there with, “No, this is not a photo of me in a compromising position with Donald Trump… It’s something I photoshopped to make it look like we were having intimate relations because I love the man and I didn’t realise people would see it when I used it as my profile pic on Facebook…”

Anyway, that was not the strangest thing that happened today.

The Nationals have decided that rather than stick with Michael McWhatisName, they’d go back to the Big Bananaby. Why? Well, it seemed to them that he was the best person for the job because – and I want you to stop for a long time and consider this – he was not only what the Nationals saw as a better person for the job than Elvis McCormack, but they couldn’t find anyone in their ranks who was more competent than either of them.

Whatever, I look forward to the future when the Nationals decide that, just as the name the Country Party was too limiting, they forge ahead and decide to call themselves the Multinationals because who gives a fuck about Australia… Before I’m picked up on this, I will say that their new leader certainly gives one and that’s why they’ve installed him…

When I say that he gives a fuck, I mean about the country, just in case there’s a bit of confusion and those trigger happy litigators in Parliament try to sue. Barnaby is one man who wants to leave the country a better place for his children. A country where they’ll be able to get jobs, because, heaven knows, he certainly won’t be able to support that many children no matter how big his super grows with the Deputy PM promotion or how much he gets paid for interviews about how terribly intrusive it is to have the media around all the time.

Perhaps the most interesting point about the return of Barnaby Joyce to the role of Deputy PM isn’t related to the discovery that at least one Coalition person can actually accurately count numbers. No, for me, it was the fact that the commentary was all about how there were whispers of a spill but the Canberra Bubbling Journalists were all telling us that it mightn’t happen and, even if it did, Joyce didn’t have the votes to succeed.

Ok, I have something that we need to break to these people very gently. It’s entirely possible that those backgrounding you have no idea what’s actually going on either but once they admit that, you won’t buy them dinner on your expense account. Of course, it’s also possible that they may know and still be prepared to lie. I know these things are terribly obvious, but so many of the guests on Insiders don’t seem to have noticed.

Perhaps, David Speers could have me as a guest and I could make stuff up and, even though it would often be wrong, at least it would be more interesting than his regular guests… and more plausible than Sky After Dark.

Mm, would a Rossleigh on Insiders hashtag work? Or should I just go on Hard Quiz and have as my special subject, “Things that we all know but journalists tell us we’re wrong about and then we’re proven right but they’re the ones that keep getting media time.”

So, will Scotty go to the election in October as he’s planned or will Barnaby’s ascension mean that he delays it? Or will he suddenly think that he better go next week?

I’ll put my money on October still…

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What About The Other Secret Trial?

A few weeks ago, various Australian MPs were expressing their outrage at China for holding secret trials. I understood their concern. Secret trials are something that should be reserved for the enemies of capitalism and not something that those lefty Chinese should be engaging in.

Most of you have probably heard that Witness K pleaded guilty and was given a three month suspended sentence. Witness K, for those of you who are unaware, was on trial for conspiracy in that he revealed secrets about what the Australian government was doing in relation to Timor-Leste. I presume I don’t need to add allegedly here because, if they weren’t guilty of it, it wouldn’t be a secret, it would be misinformation and you can’t accuse someone of spying when they’re just making stuff up. And if you’re going to start charging people for making stuff up, there goes most of Sky News, the fossil fuel industry and the entire front bench of the Coalition.

Anyway, to the best of my knowledge Witness K is no relation to Joseph K who was the main character in Franz Kafka’s well-known novel, “The Trial” which is about a man who suddenly finds himself on trial even though it’s unclear exactly what he’s charged with. Kafka’s writings have led to the term Kafkaesque used to describe any nightmarish and oppressive bureaucracy that occurs in real life which leads me to the whole notion of secret trials.

The concept behind the legislation that allowed some of the most Kafkaesque elements in the legal system was that, were the trials of terrorists to be reported it might give away valuable information and actually aid the terrorist. Sort of like when the PM announced that we’d managed to catch all these criminals because they were using an encryption system that had been fed to them by the law enforcement agencies. From that time on it’s pretty clear that only those criminals who don’t keep up to date with the PM’s pressers would still be using the messaging service.

Anyway, given that Witness K now has a suspended sentence of three months, one has to suggest that his trial wasn’t exactly the sort of thing that the legislators had in mind when they introduced the whole secret trial concept. I mean, a suspended sentence is meant to be a deterrent to discourage you from committing the crime again. What are we expecting Witness K to do? I won’t reveal any more government misbehaviour for fear of having to serve those three months?

I remember arguing at the time that so much of the anti-terror legislation just went too far and was a fundamental erosion of rights. The answer to any criticism was something along the lines of: Technically it does say that, but this is Australia and we’d never have governments doing the sorts of things that you scare-mongering, lefty types are suggesting.

My point was always that the legislation exists and governments change and as soon as I’m leading the country I can promise you that Pauline will be locked up as a security threat straight away because her stupidity is a definite challenge to the country. In fact, anyone who opposes me is a threat to my security and therefore in need of being detained and questioned by the anti-terrorism agencies and such questioning cannot be reported under parts of the legislation.

In other words, while we may be talking about the so-called secret trial of Witness K, there may be lots and lots of other secret interrogations taking place and we wouldn’t even know.

Anyway, in spite of all this, I must say that I support John Barilaro’s use of the fixated person’s unit in dealing with satirist friendlyjordies and his producer. I know that many people have criticised him and said that this unit was meant to be about potential terrorist threats and if the NSW Deputy Premier felt stalked then he should have just used the police rather than this overreach. However, given how tardy the NSW police were in taking a statement from Christian Porter’s accuser, it’s understandable that Barilaro may have no faith in their ability to act promptly. And thankfully now that the matter has been dealt with and, according to the bail conditions, the friendlyjordies’ producer may not possess or distribute any caricature of John Barilaro.

I’m sure we all feel a lot safer knowing that NSW law enforcement can protect people from such things.

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If The Morrison Government Had Been Historical Figures…

As we seem to have entered a phase where the level of spin in the country is so great that Shane Warne would have struggled to get a game in Prime Minister’s Eleven, I’ve started wondering who the various politicians in the Morrison government had been if born in previous times.

For example, if Christian Porter had been King John:

”This has been a complete capitulation by the rebel barons! They have agreed to stop spreading lies about me and their insurrection is at an end. They have acknowledged that I am the rightful king and that they will pay their taxes and that I have a right to set them and we’ve set all this out in a document I initiated called the Magna Carta. They have also acknowledged that I am clearly above the law because this document was created by me and if I’m not the chief law-maker then who is?

Or if Scotty Morrison had been Fletcher Christian:

”Yes, I said I was ambitious for Captain Bligh and I gave him a small boat and the opportunity to demonstrate his sailing skills by getting back to England. As for any suggestions that I was plotting against him, I deny it completely. There was a vacancy once he was put on that boat and the ship needed a captain.”

Or if Peter Dutton had been Abraham Lincoln:

”Look, I make no apology for the conditions that slaves are held under. If they choose to come here by boat, then they have to accept what they’re given, and no, I don’t swallow the bleeding heart abolitionists who say that they were forced to come here. They could have chosen to be shot in their homelands.”

Or if Stuart Robert had been Pontius Pilate:

”Well, we sent Jesus a letter asking him to prove that he wasn’t guilty of anything and he didn’t reply, so I asked the soldiers to look into it and I don’t see any connection between this and his decision to allow himself to be crucified. I don’t like the term ‘Robocross’ and I’ve never heard it before, but holding me responsible is unfair and I completely wash my hands of any blame!”

If Josh Frydenberg had been Captain of The Titanic:

”You’ll notice that in spite of the problems caused by the iceberg which was completely out of our control, that we’re now in a much better position. While there’s still some problems in the stern, you’ll notice that the bow of the ship is higher than ever and is still rising, which is a credit to our capacity in steering the ship.”

If Craig Kelly (ok, he’s no longer technically in the government) had been Christopher Columbus:

“Ok, I think we’ve sailed far enough to prove that the world is flat, we should turn around now and go back before we lose sight of Spain.”

If Linda Reynolds had been Richard Nixon:

”The people involved in the Watergate break-in were all sacked from their current role and it was up to the hotel as to whether they wanted to press charges. I think anyone suggesting that I should have done more is just… Oh, I’ve just remembered that I have a pre-existing condition brought on by people asking too many questions, so all appearances are cancelled until you’ve forgotten about this!”

The Murdoch papers if any of them had been found to be Jack the Ripper:

”While Jack has his eccentricities and nobody would suggest that he’s without fault, his colleagues all agree that he does a great job for his electorate and that he’s a great retail politician. Any suggestion that he should be dis-endorsed at the next election would be an over-reaction.”

 

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Swans: Dane, Wayne, Norman and, of course, Nassim Nicholas Taleb

The other day, former AFL player, Dane Swan, had his thoughts on the Melbourne lockdown reported in what’s alleged to be a Melbourne newspaper after which a number of people took to Twitter to point out Dane’s lack of expertise in the area of epidemiology and crisis management. (To be fair, I think that a look at Swan’s playing career and life would suggest that he may have some expertise in the latter…) This response led Mr Swan to tweet the following:

Of course, this is one of the great things about platforms like Twitter; they enable anybody to have an opinion no matter how many head knocks they may have suffered. The terrible thing about Twitter, as Dane Swan points out, is that sometimes people have an opinion which differs from one’s own. Swan’s tweet seems to suggest that while one shouldn’t be excluded from an opinion just because one is a sportsman, losers who haven’t excelled are losers and shouldn’t be allowed to judge his thoughts.

It’s a common thing in social media and we shouldn’t be surprised that a whole range of people have a whole range of views. Neither should we be surprised when people start pointing out other people’s lack of experience/qualifications/breeding/intelligence or anything else that they feel is relevant to helping to explain why said person has no idea what he’s talking about.

The problem isn’t that social media has a lot of opinions that most people would be better off ignoring. The problem is that the level of discourse in the political realm generally is no better. For example, when Wayne Swan was named World’s Best Treasurer by a group comprising leading European bankers and investors, did the Liberals acknowledge the honour and congratulate him? Did social media think that these people must know more than they did because they were looking at criteria other than “Does Alan Jones approve?” No, it was ridiculous because he’d sent the country broke! We had no more money. Strangely we now have three times the debt and an enormous deficit but the Liberals found a trillion dollars in the back of the couch, and in spite of the lack of a budget surplus, they’re supposedly managing the economy well and various people are expressing thanks that Labor isn’t in power because they’d be spending too much money…

So what about Norman Swan, who like Dane, is no expert in epidemiology? The difference is that Norman is doing research and presenting the research. He doesn’t argue that he knows everything. Neither does he argue that nobody else has a right to an opinion. Compare this with the way in which some of the media present information. One ABC presenter recently argued that – as two test results were “false positives” we should wait until we’re sure that tests aren’t positives before adding sites to the exposure list. The expert she was talking to was trying to explain that it would be too late to stop the spread if they waited until everything was double-checked before releasing the possible exposure sites. “Yes, but some people had to isolate unnecessarily!” Apparently this is a bigger problem than if they were allowed to roam free spreading the virus for another couple of days.

When it comes to expertise, the media often make the mistake of thinking that getting one thing right qualifies one as an expert. Frequently when there’s a share-market or property downturn, they’ll search up some guy and announce that Mr Doomsday is a genius because he predicted this and then they’ll ask him what they future holds. Never mind that Mr Doomsday has been predicting the same thing for thirty years and he’s been warning that this is imminent. Predictions of this sort can only be useful if the time frame is within a reasonable limit. For example, if I tell you that this year’s Melbourne Cup will be won by a female jockey, you’ll hardly consider me to be worth listening to if it’s 2034 before the next female jockey wins it.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb wrote an interesting book called “The Black Swan” which put forward the proposition that there were sometimes unpredictable events which had enormous consequences, but that, when looking at them introspect, humans frequently talked about them as though they inevitable and obvious, rather than a random, disruptive event. The Europeans believed that there was no such thing as a black swan and refused to believe that they existed. Once it was established that Australia had them, and no it wasn’t a painted white swan, then it became mundane and so what!

The interesting thing about Taleb was that he predicted the possibility of something like the Global Financial Crisis. His basic argument was that we couldn’t be sure that we had it all under control because the unexpected is always a possibility, and in terms of history, likely. When he was being interviewed about this after the GFC, one interviewer asked what he thought would happen in the future. After all, he’d been right about the future being unpredictable, so why not??

The fact that Taleb got that right hardly qualifies him to prognosticate any more than if I say, “Here’s my Tattslotto numbers but I have no idea which numbers will come out because it’s just random!” It’s hardly going to have people celebrating the fact that I was right about not getting them right and asking for my expert forecasts on other matters.

Yes, we’re rather drawn to those making predictions even if they have no history of them ever being correct. Even though we didn’t predict the GFC, Tony Abbott winning the leadership of the Liberal Party, Tony Abbott being removed as PM by his own party, the vote for Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, Labor’s loss in 2019, the pandemic, but somebody will tell you that they’re sure that Morrison will be re-elected, even before the date is announced.

Anyway, I’m waiting for “The Herald-Sun” to interview Dane Swan on his thoughts for how to resolve the Israel-Palestine conflict.

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