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Zombie Policy Apocalypse Part 2: Cruel Britannia

Continued from Part 1

From Cruel Britannia, Land of Grope and Tory – a scandal-ridden post Brexit economic basket-case, The Sick Man of Europe, or gaga but stable as described in Colin Hay’s “catastrophic equilibrium”, a simultaneous failure and stability, comes news of a new probe into old allegations against former party Whip, Chris Pincher, MP for Tamworth, who now sits as an independent while The Australian Solution to asylum-seekers offers no quick fix at a time when City puppet Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is preparing another set of cuts to spending and tax increases which will do nothing to ease stagflation or the long-term damage caused by George Osborne’s austerity measures in his first budget in 2010.

Chris Pincher is to be investigated. Revisiting “Pestminster” is the last thing Rishi Sunak needs. The oxymoronic office of the UK Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards Kathryn Stone OBE, opens the investigation on 20 October, into “actions causing significant damage to the reputation of the House as a whole, or of its members generally”.

There’d be a horde of Tories ducking for cover under this rubric – notorious serial sex pest, Chris Pincher is the fifth in three months – but Johnson whose regime is a string of scandals since 2019, promotes a known abuser, normalising abuse by describing Pincher as “handsy” and referring to him as “Pincher by name and Pincher by nature”.

All of which speaks volumes about Tory sleaze-baggery and locker room culture; while for Johnson, his trivialising of Pincher’s sexual offending means his lies must find him out.

Pincher allegedly, sexually assaulted two men at the elite, members-only, Carlton Club, a Tory political incubator. Battling to keep the lid on the Tory dumpster-fire, is poor little rich kid, billionaire PM Rishi Sunak, another City of London catspaw, who rues the day he re-instated failed Home Secretary, Cruella Braverman, rewarding her support in his bid to be PM.

Crazy Braverman breaks Home Office security rules six times, whilst ignoring legal advice on catastrophic overcrowding in Manton, a former RAF base in Kent, where four thousand men, women and children are crammed into a facility designed for a thousand.

Children’s hands reach out through chain mesh and tarpaulin covers. Hungry youngsters huddle together under a thin blanket on the plywood floor of a marquee. Such highly visible reminders of policy failure and the public spectacle of an ineffectual and rogue Home Secretary, are already casting doubt on Sunak’s political judgement.

There’s a fabulous plan to deport asylum-seekers to Rwanda but that’s run into a legal hitch.

Johnson’s government cancels its first deportation flight in June when the European Court of Human Rights rules that the stunt carries “a real risk of irreversible harm.”

The scheme is now being tried in the UK’s High Court. But there’s no shortage of support from the arse-end of the earth from a former Liberal Foreign Affairs Minister who tells The Weekend Australian,[paywalled] he’s set his sights on becoming the next Lord Mayor of Adelaide.

“Put them onto stable craft and drive them back to France – that’s the simple solution and would destroy the smugglers’ business model in a week,” Alexander Downer chortles.

“Short of that, [make] sure they can’t settle in the UK under any circumstances – the [agreement the] government negotiated with Rwanda – is a good solution as well.”

Sound familiar? The eternally vigilant Liberal Party’s elder statesmen never sleep.

“Suppository of all wisdom”, Tony Abbott hawked his boat-stopping to former Tory governments, even though asylum seekers boats had stopped under his predecessor, Labor’s Kevin Rudd, 19 July 2013, two months before the election.. It’s become Liberal Party dogma; a xenophobic, cynically opportunistic, contempt for international law and human decency, not merely inhumane but gratuitously cruel. When you sell someone else your barbarism, it makes your own monstrous indifference to others; your squalid moral bankruptcy; your poverty of mind and spirit seem less abhorrent.


Downer always seems to be able to go lower. In February, former Johnson regime unparalleled failure, Home Secretary Priti Patel invited him on to her Rwanda committee – bugger-human-rights-and-international-convention-send-them-on a one way journey to a Central African nation with a bad human rights record. He’s into it like a rat up a drainpipe.

Now Big Al or Bunty as he’s fondly known at home, a patrician fop with a lordly sense of entitlement honks out the heartless xenophobia that has worked so well for MPs here.

Drive asylum seekers back to France from whence they come like moths to a flame? Or shivering from hypothermia, drenched to the bone, exhausted, in leaky, overloaded rowboats, navigating only by eye toward the white chalk cliffs of Dover.

Over 35,500 asylum-seekers cross the channel this year; up from 28,000 in 2021.

Dozens have drowned in the attempt.

All hands to the bilge pump to dispel the “southern invasion” of Albanian economic migrants as asylum-seekers in small boats are misrepresented in The Daily Fail and by Home Secretary, raving Cruella Braverman.

The Home Office worries that the make-up of people on small boats is changing. From January 2018 to June 2022, it claims that Iranian (28%) and Iraqi (20%) nationals represented nearly half of all small boat arrivals. In the first six months of 2022, over half (51%) of small boat arrivals were from three nationalities – Albanian (18%), Afghan (18%) and Iranian (15%). These figures are unverified.

From May to September 2022 Albanian nationals alone comprised 42% of small boat crossings, with 11,102 Albanians arriving by small boat in those five months.

The Home Office claims that Albanians don’t need asylum because they come from a “safe” country. The data suggests otherwise. In the year ending this June, 53% of Albanian claimants were granted asylum, or other forms of leave to stay in the UK, on first decision, and a higher proportion on appeal.

Dressed to kill, in Top Gun pilot’s helmet and flak jacket, Braverman commandeers a Chinook military helicopter which “can lift anything and go anywhere” to travel thirty kilometres from Dover to an overcrowded migrant gulag at Manston. Is Suella morphing into android or super hero mode? What’s clear is she will fight them on the beaches in her own chauvinistic Churchillian movie, acting her socks off as a loyal defender of the realm.

But don’t sell her short. Ruthless Rishi’s record sprint to the top job means he’s done deals all over the shop. Crazy Ms Braverman who is unlikely to outlast a Tesco tomato, owes her unholy resurrection to a Sunak deal. Who knows whom else he owes? Virtual political Mayfly, Truss, a fifty-one day dud, is a well-grubbed Tufton Street mole.

Is the fast-tracked Sunak human? A bot, programmed, like the Tory Party itself, to self-extinguish? The political knackers’ yard beckons the new PM, even without his Infosys slave-trading gig or his “brave” deal to reinstate Leaky Sue, (Send them) Home Secretary Suella Braverman, Tory arch bigot and anti-immigration dog-whistling xenophobe.

“Either he appointed a home secretary with a vicious demagogic streak knowing she is useless, in which case he has wilfully sabotaged one of the most important departments in Whitehall for no obvious gain, or he did it because he is blind to Braverman’s deficiencies, in which case he shares them,” writes The Guardian UK’s Rafael Behr.

On the third hand, it’s certain that the tabloid-orchestrated chorus of xenophobia – an “invasion on our southern coast” according to Sue, is the Sun and others running distraction for a Tory regime that’s a vortex of ineptitude, bad policy and worse PR.

What possessed Sunak to boast to Tunbridge Wells’ Tories he was Robin Hood in reverse; that he had diverted public funds from “deprived urban areas” to “areas like this”?

Sunak has blood on his hands. As BoJo’s Chancellor, Sunak’s £850 million “eat out to help out” meal and drink subsidy stunt drove new COVID-19 infections up by between 8 and 17% in the second wave of the pandemic in 2020.

Sunak, like BoJo or our ScoMo, doesn’t consult any experts.

It’s all part of our postmodern, post truth, faux-populist, global right-wing politics’ anti-intellectualism. Why would Chancellor Rishi Sunak consult public health experts before inflicting his ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ stunt in the UK Summer of 2020?

What would they know about a healthy economy? The £10 discount scheme, which provides cheaper meals to diners going out to their local curry house, restaurant or Pizza Express, (plus a bonus free COVID exposure), is “epidemiologically illiterate” sniff experts interviewed by The Institute for Government (IfG) for its report – a formal indictment of the cloud of unknowing at the heart of Torydom from BoJo to ScoMo.

“At times it was very unclear, outside the inner circles, just who would be involved, how decisions were taken and on what basis.”

Similarly self-harming are Sunak’s vows to stop crops of solar panels popping up in fields; or halt onshore wind farms, pledges aimed to attract party carbonari during his summer campaign failure to outbid Tufton Street muppet, Libertarian crash test dummy Liz Truss.

His emotional bypass may suggest Rishi’s a robot – as with Liz, but it’s not true. They’re zombie economics fanatics who will do whatever it takes to make the rich even richer.

So, too will LNP serial dud, Peter Dutton, another political Loaded Dog who claims “tax cuts boost economic activity” but who shows he doesn’t know his Yeppen from his Yeppoon, a gaffe which Coalition women try to bury by accusing Albo of bullying Michelle Landry.

Truss believes that if you just make the rich richer, (an imperative in an era of record profit, off-shoring and price-gouging), through tax cuts, subsidies and deregulation, it creates a virtual Niagara Falls of wealth for everyone else.

Oddly, no-one has ever seen it. In reality, wealth tends to trickle-up. Yet this is to miss its true function. Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute’s Chief Economist explains,

“The power of trickle-down economics has never been its economic logic but rather its political logic. Thatcher created a suite of rhetorical and policy tools that consistently united middle-class and high-income voters in the belief that the lower their taxes, the better their country would be.

The genius wasn’t selling the direct benefits of tax cuts to those who would get the cash, it was arguing that helping the rich was actually the best way to help the poor. And so “compassionate conservatism” was born.”

Truss is a rusted-on devotee of the IEA, a “”cell of Libertarian extremists which styles itself as “an educational research group which furthers the dissemination of free-market thinking” but like our IPA, won’t disclose its donors.

What you don’t know can’t hurt you? Spoiler alert, ExxonMobil gave Policy Exchange $30,000 in 2017.

The “think tank” went on to recommend the creation of a new anti-protest law targeting the likes of Extinction Rebellion, which led to the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022. Protesters can be banned from future protest, be fitted with tracking devices and worse.

Labour peer Lord Hain sees the law as “the biggest threat to the right to dissent and the right to protest in my lifetime.” It would have “throttled” protests by the suffragettes, he adds. Suella Braverman says it is not a human right to vandalise property.

Or not pay their power bills. E.ON, a German-owned energy giant which forecasts a profit of £3.6bn in global pre-tax earnings for 2022 spent its last summer lobbying Kwasi Karteng against capping of energy bills and also warning about what it sees as an “existential” risk posed by campaigners who threaten to stop paying their gas and power.

Also clear is the link between fossil fuel industries and the IEA; Truss’ mother-ship. The American Friends of the IEA pocketed a $50,000 gift from ExxonMobil in 2004, while the UK branch HQ of the IEA has received donations from BP every year since 1967.

OpenDemocracy reports, ‘Truss is particularly close to the IEA, having founded its parliamentary wing FREER in 2011 and hired its former communications director Ruth Porter to run her campaign, later rewarding her by making her deputy chief of staff’.

Tim Montgomerie, a former Johnson advisor, tells Twitter the Truss budget is a “massive moment for the IEA”. “They’ve been advocating these policies for years. They incubated Truss and Kwarteng during their early years as MPs. Britain is now their laboratory.” Director General Mark Littlewood is said to be distraught over how the market repudiated his group’s free-market experiment.

Some Trickle-downers trace their faith to a Will Rogers joke or a sketch on the back of a table napkin in the 1980s, the Laffer Curve, drawn by Reagan era economist Arthur Laffer, who also argues that government spending depresses the economy.

In reality, cutting taxes to increase prosperity is David Hume’s idea in his 1756 essay Of Taxes, as University of Newcastle economist Professor Bill Mitchell patiently points out.

It defies all evidence. Especially historical. In the 1940s and the 1970s in the US top rates were anywhere between seventy and ninety-four percent, yet the nation posted record growth in GDP. After the 1980s, top rates began to come down yet GDP never recovered Iits post war boom. In reality, the rich tend to hang on to a tax windfall or spend extra funds buying back shares in their own company boosting its market value.

Zombie economics get another run in the UK. Coined by economist and Nobel Laureate, Paul Krugman it’s the free market gospel that somehow comes back from the dead to despatch the hapless Truss. It helped turn the US into the world’s biggest creditor nation into the world’s biggest debtor nation in Reagan’s two terms in office.

Frydenberg’s stage three tax cuts are a brazen, unfunded, unnecessary bribe to its donor class to vote for the Liberal Party, wrecking a progressive tax system and promoting inequality.

Labor promises to keep the cuts – who wants to get wedged in an election campaign? -but now Lucky Jim Chalmers calculates that the cuts will cost $254 billion over ten years, meaning so much less to spend on schools, hospitals, or the NDIS just to benefit a wealthy elite who already have the means to access tax minimisation schemes and don’t need it baked into the system.

Bank CEOs, surgeons, and federal politicians will get a windfall tax cut of $9075, while aged care workers, disability carers and those on minimum wages will get nothing.

Despite all her policy nonsense, it is chilling just how quickly Truss is trounced, bounced and hounded into resignation by the 1922 committee of hacks or backbenchers the Conservative Party keeps under the counter for just such emergencies.

It was only yesterday that Tory “grandees” were praising the new PM for her refreshing iconoclasm. Her show of blithe unconcern as to where the money was coming from? Too much. A volatile market was spooked and it cost the Bank of England at least $65 billion in a bond buy- back as it frantically- and far from convincingly – tried to calm the farm.

Her resignation speech mirrors her premiership or footage of Truss being received by the Queen at Windsor “haphazard, uncomfortable to watch, and almost comically short.”

Will the myth of trickle-down also be laid to rest? Not with Jeremy Hunt at the helm. Brought on by Truss to replace Chancellor Kwasi Karteng, with just a little prompting from Sir Graham Brady, chair of the 1922 Committee, who hints of a glass of whisky and a revolver, is Jeremy Hunt who caused a stir when he set up arms sales to the Saudis, worth at least $20 billion since 2015.

The issue is not how quickly Truss is undone but how she became PM at all. And how quickly and cruelly she is disabused of her delusions. Johnson’s, prank candidate, Libertarian free-marketeer and Maths whiz, Liz- as she prefers to be known-goes into a dizzy downward spiral of U-turn after U-turn, desperately trying to dodge a barrage of opposition to her mini-budget’s rejection by the market – only to be bullied into resignation. Humiliated as Jeremy Hunt publicly, sadistically, undoes every strand of her £460 billion bold new plan.

A plan not to raise corporation tax, and a plan to cap energy bills without resorting to a windfall tax on energy company profits. It ends with us having none of these things, writes Loughborough University, London’s Dr Gerhard Schnyder who notes that the battle was not between good and bad economics but which bad prevailed over worse.

Luckily, austerity is well in hand. In two weeks, rhyming slang Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and his PM will collude in ruining the lower orders with “fiscal tightening”, a fertile formula for the ruling elite, which involves cutting government services for the masses, raising interest rates, just as gas and electricity corporations price three quarters of households out of the market while a quarter must buy groceries on their credit cards.

Austerity is calculated to line the pockets of pawnbrokers, loan sharks, usurers, banks and other money lenders while energy corporations jack up the price of gas and electricity (elevenfold since 2019), leaving the poor to starve in the cold and dark as winter approaches. UK natural gas prices rose nearly 96% in the year to July.

The Conservative Party itself is riddled with corruption far more toxic beyond Johnson’s faux populism, his vainglorious loutishness or his malignant narcissism, making it more of a push of spivs than an outfit seeking to revive life as it was in 1922, only with a personal hedge fund manager, a peerage for beer money and a personally curated concierge service.

Revelations of dark money contributions and paid lobbying abound in conservative parties worldwide, although UK Tories have an edge. Even its honours system is up for sale.

Fifteen out of 16 Tory party treasurers in the past seven years donated £3 million to the Tory party. Every one of them is offered a peerage. The sublimely named Peter Cruddas, a former Conservative Party treasurer, donated £30 million over ten years only to give the Tories £500,000 three days after taking his seat in the House of Lords in February 2021. Cruddas was busted soliciting cash for access to David Cameron, ten years earlier, a process now streamlined into a club named The Advisory Board run by Tory entrepreneur Ben Elliott.

Elliot, who sees himself as a “willing slave to the stars”, a luxury lifestyle consultant made his name running Quintessentially, a “concierge” company and aristocrat life support ecosystem that caters to the caprices of the rich, from shipping a dozen albino peacocks to a party for Jennifer Lopez to airlifting elm tea bags to Madonna.

All in a day’s work, the 45-year-old Etonian and son-in-law of rock star Steve Winwood tells the Financial Times in 2011. Securing services for his wealthy clients is all about knowing the right people to contact for the right favour.”

Elliot has the right connections. The nephew of Camilla, he was once accused of offering access to then Prince Charles in exchange for a lucrative Quintessentially membership.

But there’s more. With wealth comes power and with both comes The Advisory Board. Businessman and Tory donor, Mohamed Amersi tells The Guardian that Elliott’s Advisory Board Conservative club is “like the very elite Quintessentially clients’ membership: one needs to cough up £250,000 per annum or be a friend of Ben.”

Elliot has made the Advisory Board the number one club in the Conservative Party. Members got monthly access to Johnson or then chancellor Rishi Sunak, say insiders.

Tory Warlords claim the Advisory Board evolved before Boris took power, but won’t say when. Nor is it named in any party literature. A senior minister in David Cameron’s administration says: “I’ve never heard of it.”

Interviewed by The Guardian UK, Labour party chair Anneliese Dodds is blunt:

“This appears to be less of an advisory board than a means for a select group of elite donors to gain privileged access to the prime minister and the chancellor.”

Above all, the seeds of Brexit bear bitter fruit. Leaving the EU helps create division and instability while conferring none of the riches its advocates promised. Gone is instant EU access, exporters now face thirty days’ delay. The bureaucracy of the EU is now replaced by UK officialdom. Trickle-down Trussonomics builds on Brexiteers’ magical thinking; blending a defiance of expert consensus and the market with contempt for Britain’s partners.

Brexit has proved an unmitigated disaster to the UK economy, according to a wide range of commentators from academics and left-leaning journalists to growing numbers of bankers such as Citibank’s Chief Economist, Benjamin Nabarro.

But rotten as it may be, the party has its elite stormtroopers who move like a wolf on the fold when self interest is at stake. The party that pays lip service to liberty calls in its own Bank of England stooge, Jeremy Hunt, when the market panics at rising interest rates fuelled by a Trussian October Revolution of unfunded tax cuts, fuel subsidies and state spending.

Truss’ vision of an agile, lightly-regulated, innovative, entrepreneurial Britain with a Melbourne Cup field of “investment zones” where can-do capitalism can knock itself out free of red tape (or green) would not be out of place in a Malcolm Turnbull speech and is cut from the same international think-tank boiler plate. Build it and they will come. Especially with favourable tax and planning approval. It is more Singapore on Thames, critics sniff, than a practical solution to Britain’s real economic challenges of under investment, inflation, spiralling inequality and recession.

Others point out that it’s handing a blank cheque to businesses who’d have to force themselves to have a ten year tax holiday at the government’s expense. In the meantime, the government still has to pay to keep its projects afloat.

Pet projects grow into white elephants. Turnbull’s Snowy 2.0 pumped Hydro pipe dream with subsidies boondoggle – a bargain at $2 billion in its initial “under-cooked” quote – is now estimated to cost at least $10 billion and could be on stream by 2028 at the earliest.

It’s a snip compared with Inland Rail, the Nationals holy grail, which experts advise the Senate will cost at least $20 billion and counting.

Lean green machines, they are not. Utopia’s Rob Sitch, says the grid as it stands means that “pumped hydro is like trying to charge a Tesla with a diesel generator.”

Liz is a fizza but shadow lenders, unregulated, unaccountable and untouchable, increasingly deal themselves into the high-stakes poker of the biggest game in town.

The Tory Party’s abrupt reversion to orthodox, austerity economics is testament to the power of the old guard at the City of London to dictate economic policy.

Or is it a last-ditch attempt to dictate government economic policy by the unelected BoE board? As our Reserve Bank is currently making. Unfortunately, full steam astern will only lead the nation deeper into recession.

But it will be cruel Britannia all the way with all the help that tabloid media can supply about the need for a nation to take its medicine – and not to fuss itself over the prescription. The Bank of England Bank Governor and his pliant board will raise interest rates on household mortgages to halt inflation caused by corporate price gouging at the supermarket, the privatised supply of gas and electricity and the economic disruption of Russia’s War on Ukraine.

If that sounds like our own charismatic dynamo, Philip Lowe that ‘s because he’s reading from the same zombie apocalypse script. It will help protect the fortunes of the ruling elite but it will be the average wage earner who is forced to pay for it all.


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Zombie Policy Apocalypse Part 1

Taking Britain and Putin’s oil and gas war-disrupted Covid-stricken world markets by storm is Trussed!, another spectacular episode of trickle-down and double backflip, a 45 day far-right detour in Little Britain’s post-Brexit Tory Story, an action-packed, adrenaline junkie’s in-flight entertainment featuring political jokes, fiscal hocus pocus, bitchy infighting, breathtaking ineptitude, self parody and inglorious failure. Spoiler alert. There is no happy ending. Whilst Marx said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, the surreal spin cycle of UK Tory politics will continue to inflict misery and suffering on the poor.

Have the Tories come full circle? “The UK is once again in the grip of austerity and anti-democratic politics – when we got into this crisis precisely because of austerity and democratic failure. The vast spending cuts made by George Osborne wrecked our hospitals, our schools and our town halls, and stoked the frustrations that ensured Brexit,” writes Guardian columnist Aditya Chakrabortty. Now there will be more.

Mary Elizabeth Truss, is a product of Tufton Street, a hotbed of fossil fuel lobby groups and right-wing think tanks that have colonised government. Political activists Led by Donkeys’ latest video depicts three members up a ladder placing a mock blue plaque on 55 Tufton Street in Westminster, central London, a Georgian townhouse serving as HQ to right-wing zombie idealogues who spout the dud policies so popular with Truss.

“The UK economy was crashed here,” reads a “Liz Trussorative” sign, dated 23 September 2022, the day Ms Truss’s ex-chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng announces his uncosted “mini-Budget”, cunningly named to avoid Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) scrutiny. Proposing big tax cuts and heavy borrowing at a time of high inflation, lifts interest rates, shaves three percent off the value of the pound, upsets the bond market and has the Bank of England in damage control.

Within days, high profile Sunak supporter, Jeremy Hunt, a former Health Minister under David Cameron and Theresa May, pops up like the White Rabbit and proceeds to shred every thread of the Trussian roulette crazy plan. He vows to set up a new economic advisory council, with four crack economists already on board, Rupert Harrison, George Osborne’s former chief of staff, and a JP Morgan executive. George Osborne, the king of cuts?

All is not lost. Hunt keeps the uncapped bonuses for bankers, a vital fiscal reform.

Britain’s third PM in four years, a fanatical Libertarian Free Market Neoliberal, who acted her idol, Baroness, Margaret Thatcher in primary school, is dumbstruck; heartbroken to be booed off stage by The City, financial centre of the world, if New York.

Trussed! is a cautionary tale of a hapless, half-baked Thatcherite who strikes fear and loathing into the heart of the market she worships; a tale which may help dispel some of the voodoo economics of neoliberalism if not point to its death – as our own national living treasure, The Australia Institute’s Chief Economist Richard Denniss writes.

“It took Liz Truss just 45 days to destroy Margaret Thatcher’s life’s work. For 40 years the idea that tax cuts for the rich would trickle down to help the poor has not just dominated the rhetoric of Western politicians but aligned the ambitions of those who already have the most and those who wish they did.”

But it may be premature to dance on the grave of middle class welfare or government run by a privileged elite on behalf of that elite at the expense of the pathologically lazy wage slave, as Truss and her pals, all members of think tank The Free Enterprise Group, “encouraging classical liberalism” slander British workers in Britannia Unchained, (2012), her manifesto.

“Once they enter the workplace, the British are among the worst idlers in the world. We work among the lowest hours, we retire early and our productivity is poor. Whereas Indian children aspire to be doctors or businessmen, the British are more interested in football and pop music.”

Truss is hounded into resignation soon after her opening solo, Trickle Down, an attempt to woo the oligarchy and schmooze the rich, leads to her being replaced by Rishi Sunak, a former Goldman Sachs Hedge Fund manager when the firm brought on the 2008 recession.

“Dishy Rishi”, as tabloids dub him, goes on to marry fashion designer, venture capitalist and software heiress, Akshata Murty, whose father N.R. Narayana Murthy, founded tech sweatshop giant, Infosys which, incidentally, twenty years ago contracted to do a lot of IT work for Telstra. Whilst his affairs are hidden in a blind trust, the little battler, whose father was a doctor and whose mother owned a pharmacy, does very well for himself.

It’s cheering to see Sunak unchained, slaving to overcome a privileged upbringing in Hampshire, one of England’s most affluent counties. Our hearts go out to Rishi as he battles his way through an elite prep school, Stroud, before Winchester (£45,936 per annum) where he’s made head boy and then he’s up to Oxford, Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Later he’s on a Fulbright Scholarship doing an MBA at Stamford. There follows a stint where he is director of his father-in-law’s company. But can he do something useful with his life?

True, only in a parallel Tory Universe could a billionaire whose family fortunes are linked with labour outsourcing and who keeps his affairs secret, ever be a successful PM, just as any government on behalf of a wealthy elite will tend to perpetuate injustice, inequality and indifference to those lower on the ladder.

IT outsourcing itself is a paradigm of inequality, a neoliberal magic wand to make IT costs disappear, only to appear in a developing nation, for example, in 2017, a typical IT Indian worker would be paid $5,000 while their US counterparts can expect north of $100,000. Another part of the magic is that as IT costs disappear, so, too do jobs.

Already in the UK the poor are poorer. There’s plans to cut government spending because Trussonomics causes a £70 billion black hole, or so Hunt declares, (sound familiar?) which will mean cuts to schools and hospitals already in crisis due to under-funding. Even the fuel cap on household gas and electricity bills is cut from two years to a token six months.

Sunak is not popular with his party. Just last month, given a choice between Sunak and Truss, Tories voted for the untested, wild-eyed ideologue. Sunak solves his lack of support – for now – by recycling ministers from the fabulously impressive Johnson and Truss governments. Keeping RWNJs close. We’ve seen how well this tactic works in recent Coalition governments in Canberra.

Sunak strategically re-appoints, as Home Secretary, the anti-immigration, anti-protest right winger, Suella Braverman, who lampoons dissent on energy and environment policy as the work of “tofu-eating wokerati” an MP who sees opponents as “the anti-growth coalition.”

Is Barnaby Joyce moonlighting? Or is the anti-progressive invective multinational?

But it’s a risky gambit. In forgiving Braverman for her breach of security only six days after she resigns over sharing a confidential document, the new PM inflames Tory divisions over political direction and probity that could cause him to lose authority. No big deal.

Former Tory party chair Sir Jake Berry accuses Braverman of “multiple breaches” of the ministerial code; calls herLeaky Sue”. He tells TalkTV that, far from coming forward and admitting her mistake, she has only fessed up when confronted with the evidence.

Minutes later, another Tory MP, Mark Pritchard, helpfully suggests that MI5 lacks confidence in Ms Braverman and that Sunak needs to do something about the situation.

Also helpful are Harry Cole and James Heale whose ebook on the rise and fall of Liz Truss, Out of the Blue, to be published 1 November, (desperately brought forward one month), claims Braverman also leaked market-sensitive information when home secretary. These trifling matters aside, the MP is irrepressible; always keen to stir up racism, xenophobia and gratuitous cruelty.

Braverman will be cheered, she says, when the first plane load of asylum seekers is sent off to Rwanda. “I would love to have a front page of the Telegraph with a plane taking off to Rwanda, that’s my dream, it’s my obsession.”

But rehabilitating Braverman who breached the ministerial code by sending a cabinet document by personal email, dog whistles the Tories’ right wing. And may win Sunak some Johnson supporters. What could possibly go wrong?

Sunak’s clearly no slouch. He’s also fixed up the misunderstanding which forced his wife to not pay tax on her £400 million share in Infosys, because of her non-domicile status saving her £20 million in taxes on her annual dividends of around £6 million.

At first, Sunak argued his wife was entitled to the tax break but now declares that she will pay all taxes. That’ll fix it.

To briefly recap the plot, with a warning that this account features names of people who are politically deceased, Liz follows Boris’ Level Up, an utterly gutted slogan so hollow it’s a virtual black hole, with Zombie Apocalypse Now, a free market-libertarian burlesque where Truss pledges to shower Londongrad, HQ of the UK’s fabulously wealthy oligarchy, in buckets of borrowed money.

The City promptly swoons; the pound falls to a new low almost on parity with the US dollar, interest rates rise and pension fund managers struggle to keep away from upper-storey windows. Truss’ Bold New Plan involves unfunded tax cuts for the rich. And £100 billion in home fuel subsidies. All on tick. But it’s less the plan itself than how it snubs the very idea of budgeting, a process which has morphed into a form of performance art about credibility. Balancing the books is prudent government – if you believe the Tories and their tabloids.

The City is thunderstruck. BT’s pension fund, one of Britain’s biggest, is filthy. BT loses £12bn in the mayhem after 23 May when Truss and Kartweng spin their mini-budget thingie.

Pension funds are made up of a range of investments and encourage gambling with other peoples’ money and betting on interest rates and bond yields.

Unfortunately, along with energy oligopolies’ price gouging and mortgage rate hikes, pension funds can fuel inflation.

Increasingly, funds invest in basics which increase your shopping bill and what you pay for petrol. More than €30bn is tied up in European pension funds, which are used to bet on the price of raw materials like food and fuel.

Nick Dearden, Director of campaign group Global Justice Now, explains that pension funds are “gambling on food prices, in the process driving up those prices and fuelling the cost of living crisis for all of us.”

The UK is the second largest source of foreign investment in Australia. DFAT says its stock of investment was valued at $574.8 billion in 2018. But we’ve nothing to fear.

Otherwise, our media would be on it like a blowfly in a pickle bottle. If they’re not all worn out telling us our fundamentals are sound.

We’re all safe as houses because of the great shape that the Morrison government left the economy in, as Spud Dutton and his team of small potatoes keep telling us.

Putting a trillion dollars of poorly structured debt to one side and overlooking his government’s energy, pandemic and environment catastrophes, ScoMo’s greatest legacy is the damage he did to the Coalition with his decision to whip up transgender prejudice, euphemistically termed culture wars instead of protecting Liberal heartland.

Liz Truss is similar. Like Morrison, she, too, inherits a party of disunity and disorder.

But take a bow, ex-Prime Minister Truss. Typhoid Mary of Torydom, is a huge role, in itself. Egomaniac, liar, grub and complete imposter Boris did a lot to wreck the Tories, single-handedly, although any party that would elect Boris as its PM has to be beyond all surgery. Yet now, the former Minister for Trade, who became a born again Brexiteer to get the gig, sends world financial markets into a death spiral. The Tory-fawning UK press is most unkind. Reviews are quite hostile. Bring Back Boris is the worst.

You can’t blame the actor. The superbly named Sir Tom Scholar, Treasury Secretary, is sacked. Experts ignored. Being “Trussed”, or showing contempt for reason, is part of a wider cult combining racism, tribal stupidity and borrowing heavily on the fashion for showing contempt for all forms of expertise, now taking the world by storm. All with Rupert Murdoch’s help. Let’s not forget, it was largely his company’s paper The Sun wot got Brexit done.

Truss blusters about how she’s going to take a stand against all that nanny state nonsense apart from the afterthought of a household energy cap which would rescue struggling energy corporations anyway. Pensioners can suffer penury for their work-shy lifestyles and their wilful lack of thrift. Corporate welfare is cool. And cutting tax for the rich is a must if you are going to encourage entrepreneurs, attract startups and lure Russian oligarchs.

Eyebrows arch in the City of London. Or Londongrad. Wags note that the financial capital’s prime locations are now owned by Russian Oligarchs. The purchase of a pad in Hampstead, Knightsbridge or Belgravia was an easy way for Putin’s kleptocracy to launder fortunes amassed from stripping former Soviet state assets.

Alas, it’s not so easy these days in an era of sanctions against Russia over its war on Ukraine. Blinds are down and drapes are drawn in entire Kensington streets, today. Asses are frozen. And who knows what else. Banks did fabulously well, of course, as did the City, as the financial district is known.

London was a mecca for Russian oligarchs seeking foreign capital-raising. Shonky operators flocked not only for the money but for a listing which would fake international financial respectability. Over twenty firms, with a total market value of more than 400 billion pounds ($536 billion), are listed on the London Stock Exchange (LSE).

Financial skulduggery isn’t just something that happens in the UK; there has been a concerted and decades-long effort to encourage it to do so’ writes former Russia correspondent, Oliver Bullough, who has led “kleptocracy tours” of London notes Dean Acheson’s observation, in 1962, that Britain had “lost an empire but not yet found a role,” Bullough hints that it did find a role in keeping with its decadence, as a mum’s-the-word- butler – full body massage or crypto-therapy, sir? -to Russian Mafioso and other Muscovy movers and shakers, opening doors to capital markets, prime real estate, shopping at Harrods, and the best private schools money can buy,

Naturally, included in the deal were mining and Murdoch corporation-class tax evasion accountants, attorneys for legal spats, and “reputation managers” for inconvenient backstories. It starts with visas; any foreigner with adequate funds can buy one, by investing two million pounds in the U.K.

After permanent residency, sir?

Ten million pounds.

While the laundering of money, the growth of shadow lending and the growth in the power of dark money are international trends, Londongrad’s The Financial Times’ editorial board gets huffy, telling the new PM that she should stop playing free market libertarian and knuckle down current economic orthodoxy; play by the rules.

But did Liz fall or was she putsched? Her successor, “Yon Cassius has a lean and hungry look,” Rishi Sunak, is a power-hungry oligarch, a puppet of The City of London. Big Finance took over Westminster in the 1980s. Sunak’s a former Goldman Sachs chap, the firm that lit the touchpaper on the recession of 2008, that we choose to call the GFC.

What iscertain is that Britain is once again in the grip of a zombie policy apocalypse – austerity is being touted as the only way out of a mess all of the Tories’ own making, when it can only lead to further suffering. Here’s Nobel Laureate, economist Paul Krugman writing seven years ago,

“… all of the economic research that allegedly supported the austerity push has been discredited. Widely touted statistical results were, it turned out, based on highly dubious assumptions and procedures – plus a few outright mistakes – and evaporated under closer scrutiny.

It is rare, in the history of economic thought, for debates to get resolved this decisively. The austerian ideology that dominated elite discourse five years ago has collapsed, to the point where hardly anyone still believes it. Hardly anyone, that is, except the coalition that still rules Britain – and most of the British media.”

For Britain, substitute Australia. Could we be having our own zombie policy apocalypse, too? In Part 2, the sleaze, decadence and corruption of the modern Tory Party beckons.

Link to Part 2

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New Parliament promising but Team Dutton disappoints

On the opening of the forty-seventh parliament with thirty-five new members, a nineteen gun salute and one cool, new diverse, vibe, 26 July, a decimated Opposition – twenty-two fewer in the House of Reps – reverts to playing dirty pool.

In contrast, the extra virgin, Albanese government begins with a show of compromise. Can we deal with Greens and teals? Labor makes a big deal of agreeing to make its emissions reduction target of 43 percent by 2030 based on 2007 “a minimum”.

It’s no flaw to have a floor and even if we won’t match it with a ratchet mechanism our target will rise over coming years vows Chris Bowen. Bowen is the federal government’s Climate Change and Energy Minister and must know he’s a marked man. Peter Dutton, promises to pick on Bowen because you go for the “weak links”.

Yet to be seen, however, in Labor’s newly “Dutton-proofed” draft legislation – which will now – as the UN framework mandates – spell out that future emissions targets can only increase – is any pledge to phase out gas and coal exports.

Nor is there a ban on new gas and coal. But while the law is set to come before the lower house, Wednesday, it will not be before the Senate until September. With the clock at one minute to midnight on The Doomsday Clock, there’s more room than time for improvement.

Reform could begin with repairing a democratic process long hijacked by lobbyists, especially the monstrous fossil fuel lobby guzzling $12 billion in federal government subsidies, $8 billion of which is a fuel tax credit scheme, entrenching the use of petrol, diesel and natural gas.

It costs a billion in subsidies just to fuel the rigs to get the stuff out of the ground.

It won’t be easy for Labor, given its business friendly election promises and the links already forged which brought it $75 million between 2012-20 from mining or banking and finance for example, or media, alcohol and gambling but anything less than independence and integrity will be political suicide.

What’s certain, however, is that after nine years’ failure, the Coalition needs to get out of the road. Australia’s action on climate is ranked as dead last in the world by the UN.

Alas, for Dutton’s mob, (corporate receipts ($125 million 2012-20) it’s deja vu all over again. Back to the future. Bugger the concept of an opposition offering an alternative vision. It’s learned nothing and whatever he believes, $coMo’s political road-kill. There’ll be no resurrection. So what does it do?

Dutton reprises Abbott’s wrecking-ball, hyper partisan politics. At least opposition for its own sake is a game it knows. Team Dutton has no concept of collaboration and even less idea of what it means to be out of power.

For four years, $coMo & Co sought power for its own sake while servicing corporate sponsors, within a carbon captured state. Responsible or democratic federal government was just window dressing at best. At worst its gas-led recovery was nothing less than open surrender to Santos.

But let’s be fair, why bother trying to be taken seriously, when you already get more than enough attention for self-parody? Much to our Murdoch controlled media’s delight, “Boofhead” Dutton, another useful, disposable idiot, will head an insane clown posse out to attack Labor on everything, foot and mouth, climate, environment.

Disorganised? It can’t even get its act together on whether we should close our borders to Indonesian foot and mouth disease. But who needs coherence when you’ve got sound and light?

Dutton calls for “the border with Indonesia” to be closed, unlike Big Dave Littleproud who sides with totally objective industry leaders, who – Deidre Chambers what a coincidence – want no such restriction, while the Nationals leader calls for more science.

It’s a remarkable pivot given that only last August, Dave wrote to the CSIRO protesting at its inclusion of fake meat in its digital tuckerbox suggesting science should be a little less scientific or perhaps not so mean to meat, “provide balanced support to Australian industries”.

Agriculture minister, “Murray Grey” Watt has the Opposition’s number. Muzza tells RN Breakfast that the opposition’s calls to close the border are damaging our nation’s agricultural reputation. But, as The Monthly’s Rachel Withers asks, “when has the national interest ever stopped the Coalition from trying to score a political point?”

Dutton is struggling to keep his team on message. But what has the serial dud ever succeeded at? He’s The Peter Principle personified.

Media signs are promising. Team Spud may better its predecessor’s record for SNAFU-driven negative advertising. In the hotly contested teamwork event, Karen Andrews pushes her former PM under a bus when he uses her to create a refugee boat arrival election stunt. Not only is Sussan Ley busted for suppressing a major report on the environment, she doesn’t give a fig.

The Fourth State of the Environment (SOE) Report from the CSIRO is a comprehensive assessment of the state of our environment put out every five years by the Australian Government.

It has to be. Independent and evidence-based, the review is mandated by the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. It’s not something you throw in your school bag and don’t show your parents.

But what to do? It’s an indictment. The report shows the adverse effects of climate change on the health and well-being of Australians. Climate change is exacerbating pressures on every Australian ecosystem. Australia now has more foreign plant species than native.

Australia’s environment is terminally ill. Pressures of climate change, habitat loss, invasive species, pollution and mining have deteriorated over the past five years. Our natural world holds the key to human wellbeing and survival, scientists warn.

The Morrison government acts with typical maturity, responsibility and openness. It sits on the report for six months lest it jigger its re-election prospects. The SOE would have just been quietly buried had $coMo & Co been returned to office.

Two years ago the federal government was told it had failed in its duty to protect the environment in its delivery of Australia’s national conservation laws in a scathing review by the national auditor general. It ignored that, too.

Former Minister for no responsibility to future generations for climate change or the Environment, Sussan Ley is unavailable for comment, last Tuesday, the day of the SOE’s final release. Or since. But Ms Ley is planning a national listening tour to discover why women didn’t vote for the Coalition.

The Coalition blames voters for the Morrison government’s rout -(just not listening, says Deputy leader Su$san Ley- especially women) – only to be upstaged by reports that boat whisperer, ScoMo, architect of his party’s near-death experience whistled up a Sri Lankan boat, or two, right on polling day, 21 May, to stop the votes-for Labor.

Karen Middleton gets the scoop for The Saturday Paper. A Sri Lankan contact says that the departure of two asylum seeker boats bound for Australia “was being facilitated” by Sri Lankan authorities. They are scheduled to arrive in Australian waters “around the 21st of May 2022, election date”, he says. It’s designed to be “an election stunt”.

There’s the usual Canberra flap. The PM’s Office puts the hard word on Home Affairs to go from “caretaker to scaremaker”, in Phil Coorey’s phrase on ABC Insiders.

Karen Andrews defends the heroic resistance of her then Home Affairs staff who refuse to do a press drop to journos. Yet a blizzard of spam text messages tell voters of an “illegal boat” from Sri Lanka being intercepted by Border Force as it tries to enter Australia 21 May.

“Keep our borders secure by voting Liberal today,” the text message ends. There’s a link to a Liberal-endorsed website,

Shadow Home Affairs Minister Andrews defends her role in the Morrison government’s decision to publicise the turnback of a people smuggling vessel on election day.

Andrews tells Today that the former PM got her to issue the statement. Ouch. No chance of another curry in a hurry chez ScoMo and family. She rejects any suggestion of her department being pressured.

One press gallery journo joins the dots. Did Morrison engineer the departure of the boat to fit the Coalition fear campaign that boats would start again under Labor?

Bruce Haigh has little doubt. “In my belief, the Australian government has been involved outside of normal channels with various agencies in Sri Lanka to prevent the boats coming to Australia,” Former Deputy High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, Haigh tells Karen Middleton of The Saturday Paper.

“Within that relationship, there was the capacity to also send boats.”

It’s a revelation that eclipses Scotty’s “We don’t trust in governments … or the UN”, sermon and love-in with fellow evangelical, homophobe, Margaret Court at Perth’s Victory Life Centre, pentecostal church. Morrison’s all-God’s-children-got-to-chill theme in his fifty-minute harangue, however, is alarming. “Be anxious for nothing” is his Biblical text.

For the true believer, God has overcome fear Morrison believes. But it sounds very close to “I just don’t care” as he explained his composure to Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.

Founder, Marg’s a big fan of Scott; not just because of a $500,000 plus a $50,000 “cash-flow boost” her Centre got from JobKeeper in 2020.

Most of this went into a bank account, $37,000 in the red in 2019. Like Lazarus, the balance was brought back from the dead; a $258,000 surplus by June 30, 2020.

Money can’t buy you love, however, and Liberals have colourful pork’n rort spreadsheets to prove it. It’s pretty clear Morrison’s desperate bid to cede the party’s inner-city heartland to woke greenies and teals and put transphobia first in a ploy to win big in the outer suburbs was a dumb idea. Just as cynically courting the far right undid him. Just as it undid Howard, whose calculated shift to the right ultimately cost him his own seat of Bennelong.

Today’s Liberals can always rely on right wing nutjobs to rally around in a crisis. Like flies around an outback dunny. As PM Albanese’s dusting off the mining lobby’s “clean coal” bullshit disgusts the teals, the Greens and many in his own party, the LNP’s lunatic right dives into the dustbin of history to recycle garbage.

“There is a real risk that the wrong lessons will be learnt by the Liberal Party about the reasons for the federal election loss, and the path back to government.”

Amanda Stoker, self-proclaimed “misunderstood conservative”, a dry, white former Queensland LNP Senator, veteran Coalition content creator and now team coach, wags her finger from a new pulpit, scolding players for “caving to leftist positions” in her post-election rout analysis- in a bold new column in The Australian Financial Review.

Don’t adjust your set, the fault lies with reality. Let other, misguided, souls see the Coalition’s defeat as part of its alienation of women, or its being a front for the fossil fuel industry, or a judgement on its catastrophic ineptitude on climate, energy, economy, environment and pandemic, Stoker’s urging a return to the same – only harder right.

Our former assistant Minister for Women-who-want-to-be-crumb-maidens already fixed the Coalition’s women problem. In her own low-rent attack on Julia Banks’ book in July 2021, the veteran attention-seeker accuses Banks of seeking a “cheap headline”, adding the Liberal Party line on its endemic, sexist bullying:

“I certainly haven’t seen in my personal experience the matters of which she complains.” In 2018, she calls Banks’ allegations “pathetic” and “bizarre”.

“Solidarity” Stoker is “the voice for Morrison’s quiet Australians”, Janet Albrechtsen (paywalled) purrs in Liberal Party Pravda The Australian, another money-losing Murdoch publication, $60 million in the red in 2021. With that type of backing, Stoker’s a shoo-in for the next LNP casual vacancy in the senate, which is only ever a parachute away.

Oxymorons pave the race to the bottom. Not only does the voice of Morrison’s quiet Australia belong to one of our loudest Tories, the headline-seeking lunatic right complains bitterly that it is silenced. Cancelled.

“Captain’s pick” for Warringah, unsuccessful Liberal candidate, the transphobic Katherine Deves, had Scott Morrison swear he wouldn’t let Deves be “silenced” as the party split in two over her candidacy.

Matt Canavan nails defeat down to his party’s failure to heed quiet Australians, such as Senator Hollie Hughes. The self-effacing Hughes, shadow assistant minister for Climate Change Denial takes us back at least to 2014, with a reheated fossil fuel lobby leftover as she declares “climate change is not an Australian problem.”

Not our problem? Australia should try that line on Pasifika Leaders who fear Labor’s climate policy of an inadequate emission target of 43% by 2020, paired with plans for new gas and coal. Hughes knows Australia is directly responsible for just over 1% of global emissions (1.13%). Yet, when added to emissions from fossil fuel exports this rises to 3-4%.

We have a big problem. We are the world’s largest gas exporter and second largest coal exporter. Although only 0.33% of the globe’s population, we rank with the world’s top culprits. Our average carbon footprint of 16 tonnes per capita, is over three times the global average.

Government figures project an increase in coal production of 4%, a 12% increase in gas production and a 32% increase in oil production up to 2030itters of carbon emissions with an average carbon footprint.

And we’re increasing it. Yet the line Dutton’s opposition will push is the lie that any energy source other than fossil fuels will lead to huge price rises. It’s old mining company propaganda but it’s run on Sky News by Stoker among others.

Stoker, aka Draymilla Burt, in Shaun Miccallef’s Mad as Hell puts a lot of spin into her political shtick, a caricature of gob-smacking sophistry, hot-button-bigotry and lies. The religious right loves her. Parachuted into the senate, only to crash and burn in a term, Stoker can’t wait to lecture the Liberals on how they can win next time.

Stoker’s seen her patron, Scott Morrison, another of the Lord’s anointed, whose persona also taps pathological exhibitionism, egotism and unwitting self-parody, not only fudge an election but gut his own party. So? It’s just that he didn’t go far enough right.

Shunning safe inner-city seats to woo a mythical, horde from outer suburbia; a HiLux ute muster of King Gee Liberal tradies, Morrison’s blunder is a gift to the teals. It also unseats the odd dud. Josh Frydenberg is snapped up by Goldman Sachs, the giant vampire squid of what we call the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, a world recession to everyone else.

Goldman Sachs was fined $5bn for its role in the 2008 financial crisis in a settlement holding the bank accountable for its ‘serious misconduct’ in falsely assuring investors that securities it sold were backed by sound mortgages.

It’s a neat fit for a former feckless treasurer whose idols are Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. So he accidentally gave away fifty billion of JobKeeper to the likes of Gerry Harvey? They could repay it if they wanted to.

Scotty partners Margaret (hard, clay, grass or carpet) Court. Doubles can be tricky because, as Maggie says herself, “Tennis is full of lesbians.” But not only does Morrison find a fellow homophobe, the spotlight enables our greatest failure to imply he’s a winner because God loves him. Its politics and governments that are fallible.

It’s practically a badge of honour to stuff up as PM;

“We trust in Him. We don‘t trust in governments. We don’t trust in United Nations, thank goodness. We don‘t trust in all of these things as fine as they might be and as important as the role that they play. Believe me, I’ve worked in it. But as someone who’s been in it, if you are putting your faith in those things, like I put my faith in the Lord, you are making a mistake. They are fallible.”

Sadly, many tradies hate ScoMo for his ineptitude, cynical pragmatism and repudiation of duty of care. Especially aged care, climate and environment. Many follow their parents’ political preferences leftward. But let’s not confuse a popular cause with a populist cause.

Both Morrison and Stoker are like Trump who turned anti-abortion only when he saw votes in it. Stoker’s truckling to Dutton who returns from Washington pumped with Republican culture war tactics to follow his war on woke classrooms.

Pete’s head is on the one-eyed god in the lounge room. ABC TV. We could be at war with China or Russia any minute, he rants. Imagine if we locked in a 47% by 2020 emission target! His plan is to attack Labor’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas with his own mob’s woeful emissions target plus new coal and gas.

What could possibly go wrong?

“The greatest challenge facing the defeated federal Liberal Party is not whether to move to the right or the left, nor whether to court voters in the outer suburbs or try to win back its once blue-ribbon seats. It is how to stay relevant and it’s a challenge the party seems barely to recognise,” writes Judith Brett.

The major challenge for Labor is not what the emissions reduction target should be so much as stopping new coal and gas and how soon it can kick big coal and the oil and gas industry out of the temple before its true believers lose their faith entirely.

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Interest rate hike upstaged by Dutts’ and Barilaro’s Circus

“Marxist” teachers are teaching our kids “absolute leftwing rubbish.” NSW Senator, Hollie Hughes, Shadow Minister for denying climate change and promoting fossil fuels, moonlighting as Opposition national curriculum cop, reads from the Republican playbook’s false alarmism about critical race theory and gender whispering being taught in schools. The Coalition sideshow is pumping now Dutton’s obsessed with vetting what goes on in the classroom because it works for right-wing politicians in the US.

Marx? No one’s sure if she’s talking about Groucho, Harpo or Karl. Having lost the plot long before it lost power, the opposition will struggle to hold Labour, or anyone else to account, but at least it can do some public good by holding itself up to ridicule.

Dutton’s on a week’s leave so “Lying Cow” Linda Reynolds tries a bit of biting self-satire with her “targets with teeth”, a way of talking about quotas without mentioning the “Q” word. “Inaction is not a strategy”, she tells Sky News, a refreshing insight from a former minister in a government which gave new meaning to inaction, inertia and ineptitude.

Reynolds’ best gag, however, is her claim that her government “did more for women than any other”. This is the same government that helped push Australia further and further down the greasy pole of the Global Gender Gap Index.

Standout performer in the well-contested absolute rubbish arena, however, goes to the Reserve Bank of Australia’s top tipster, Phil Lowe. Phil’s RBA has a patchy track record but to our right-wing media controlled by vested interests, he’s some type of High Priest instead of an investor-class shill who can fiddle the till by printing money.

Phil’s out and about peddling the lie that we’re in a wage-price spiral. Given real prices have been going backwards for a decade it’s not strong on logic but it meets the Reserve Bank brief which is for its CEO to come out as required to beat down wages, in the name of “stability”. Hiking interest rates does, however, leads to joblessness which neoliberal governments love to use to suppress wages – even if it is utterly at odds with the RBA’s other goal of full employment.

Although not counted in the CPI, mortgage payments and rents are nudged up by interest rates which now rise every time the banksters and usurers’ pals on the RBA Board attend their monthly meetings. Real estate values fall as the cost of borrowing goes up, while a price-profit spiral beggars the poor and threatens the wealth of our investor class.

Our celebrity media does its best. Even our ABC repeats the old gag that it’s a wage-price spiral. Blames selfish low-paid workers for daring to get a pay “rise” below inflation.

Inexcusable, however, is Phil Lowe’s cameo appearance on ABC 7:30, jaw-boning the lie that wages rises equals inflation which is easily kept in check by raising interest rates. In reality, none of this is true. But he’s a performer in a circus where illusion is everything.

Phil’s got a great sense of humour, too. All those years he’s been dog-whistling wage rises and now he turns around and blames inflation on greedy workers asking for enough pay to buy groceries and pay the power bill. And look how he stooged us all with his “No rate rise before 2024.” What a crack-up. Especially to those who borrowed big on the strength of his prediction and now face job losses. You’re a funny man, Phil, even if you’re full of bullshit. All you care about is protecting investors’ profits. And your board is a dud.

Five out of nine RBA board “business leader” members have no qualifications whatsoever in setting monetary policy, the bank’s core business. Overseas, reserve banks attract the top echelon, the experts who write the textbooks. Luckily, Phil’s RBA minutes are secret.

It’s impossible to find out how the RBA reaches its decisions. Or makes so many mistakes. Like the National Cabinet, there’s no record of who said what. But it all ends up costing a fortune – not just Phil’s million-dollar salary but in unemployment growth.

Keeping the cash rate too high in the four years before the pandemic cost us 270,000 jobs, reckon Dr Zac Gross and Dr Andrew Leigh, our assistant Treasurer, in fresh research out this month. Dr Gross notes, for perspective, that closing down coal mining tomorrow would cost only 38,100 jobs. Lowe is on ABC 7:30, however, telling tired old lies about our inflation being a wage-price spiral when it’s driven by profits and price-gouging.

No one asks Lowe about the massive debt his bank helped create over the last few years, ostensibly, to get us through the pandemic by throttling back interest rates whilst printing money, a nifty trick known as quantitative easing. Pioneered by the Japanese in the 1990s, it didn’t work for Japan either but it’s a sure-fire way to devalue assets and elevate Australian household debt to around $2.5 trillion, a record 120% of GDP.

Household debt as a proportion of disposable income is at a historic high; all of which is oddly dissonant with Lowe’s mantra that we’re all cashed up at home. Sitting on an extra $240 billion because we couldn’t go out and spend during lockdown.

“We have a big potential problem courtesy of the way we have run our housing system, for not just the last decade but for the last at least three decades,” says Chris Martin, UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre Senior Researcher.

Martin’s concerned policies such as low-interest rates, negative gearing and capital gains tax discount encourage punters to take on more debt, particularly to purchase investment properties. The latter two benefit the top ten percent and drive up house prices, argues The Australia Institute’s Matt Grudnoff.

Never to be upstaged, there’s a Barilaro of laughs in the Big Top of Politics Oz. The former deputy Premier of NSW will still call Australia home after being forced out of a cushy new $500,000 post in New York, a fabulously public-spirited boondoggle he set up for himself. Shit happens, Tony Abbott says, but now Bruz is Perrottet’s unflushable turd.

Where would we be without Barra? John “Save the Brumby” Barilaro, rips up his ticket to ride in a boilover at the starting gate in the Dom Perignon New York Stakes, a race identical to the Berejiklian event run last year. He’s forced, Barilaro says, by The Media, out of the saddle of firm favourite, New York under syndicate instructions.

Given that his rival, top hoop, Jenny West, won Berejiklian’s race only to be disqualified afterwards, like Dancer’s Image in the 1968 Kentucky Derby, “Bruz ” thought he was unbackable. Whilst an inquiry learns that West was “overqualified”, that wouldn’t help her.

The rules are changed after the start as Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW explains, to eliminate West, in a late “change in government policy to convert the roles into statutory officers appointed by a minister”. No wonder Barilaro feels ripped off. His sense of injury is no doubt assuaged as Ms Brown explains the Investment NSW process.

“We give it to God and pray and pray and pray, and he will work out his purposes.”

Our showbiz-MPs, with their performative rorts, ugly skulduggery and shagadelic sleaze-baggery, work hard on their show routines, while they cook the books and the planet. Say what you may about the light on the hill, or the deep twilight of a captured state; the venality, corruption and deceit, our politics is still show business for ugly people.

But we’ll have no appearance-shaming here, given the peculiar potency of our defamation law to silence criticism and dissent. Giovanni Barilaro is a winsome, over-achiever of inestimable talent and a natural crowd-puller. A stud muffin. True, he’s the Barnaby Joyce of NSW politics because he’s so divisive. But you can’t pull all of the people all of the time.

He hasn’t won over Barnaby. Barilaro is “grating and pushy” Joyce says.

Politics, of course, is also a means to wield power for its own sake in every possible way, as it is for the incredible sulk, False-Messiah Morrison, a man who heard voices and saw a vision in an eagle photo, telling him he was chosen by God to lead us out of the wilderness. He is now in witness protection, surely, after driving his Liberals into a mountain.

Morrison’s means included disinformation, weaponisation of asylum seekers, and the stacking of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT), the ABC, The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) and other bodies. Labor promises its federal ICAC by the year’s end, while it says that the AAT, a fabulously well-paid dumping ground for failed Liberal politicians and retired party apparatchiks. will have to be disbanded and rebuilt fit for purpose.

Former family joinery artisan, a man who knows all about opening doors, deputy NSW Premier, National Party star, Barilaro is a barrel of laughs as he handcrafts his own plum job in The Big Apple. But he’s not just a funny man.

John’s public-spirited, humble and self-reflective, too. Two years ago, he pulled out of preselection for the Nationals’ ticket in the Eden-Monaro federal byelection. Why?

“In politics, ego can quickly skew decisions … In this time of self-contemplation, it is clear I can do more as NSW Deputy Premier,” he promises, selflessly.

A day later, his text to Deputy PM Michael McCormack takes another tack.

“The Nats had a chance to create history, to change momentum, and you had a candidate that was prepared to risk everything to make it happen”.

Barilaro is right the first time. Do more? He games the game of mates. Takes jobs for the boys to a new dimension with his DIY, $500,000 a year plus $100,000 perks, New York-based gig as Senior Trade Commissioner to the Americas. What does such a Trade Commissioner do? He does lunch. And he does dinner, too, on the taxpayer dollar.

But always in style. Amy Brown, CEO of Investment NSW, advises a parliamentary committee of inquiry that the fit-out for a New York office for Barilaro cost $AU 1.3 million.

Oddly not in the news is that Austrade, the federal government department for wining and dining prospective investors and carpet-baggers, already has a Trade and Investment Commissioner in its very capable General Manager for The Americas, Tony Davis.

An engineer with computer science qualifications, Tony is a highly experienced businessman whose career has spanned three decades leading highly complex Industrial, Energy, Aerospace and Defence domestic and international organisations, whose career includes a former CEO of Rolls Royce Royce Power Systems AG.

Barilaro has a TAFE Certificate IV in Real Estate. But heaps of experience, as Kate Carnell tells those still watching ABC’s The Drum, where the former ACT Liberal Chief Minister and pharmacist, gets a regular spot to barrack for the blue team, now hyper partisans peddling disinformation are deemed to supply balance on our ABC. In Carnell’s view, it must be just bad luck Barra has not one but two separate inquiries into the scandal. Or is it now three?

Joe Aston’s not amused. The AFR’s most trenchant critic of poseurs is agape.

“A person labouring under the Dunning-Kruger effect is like a gruesome traffic accident: repulsive but impossible not to stare at.”

Not so funny is former Investment NSW deputy secretary, Jenny West’s story. The senior public servant is told the job is hers, only to hear, subsequently, that the offer is rescinded. Later she pens a forty-five-page letter to get a few things off her chest. West fronts the state parliamentary inquiry, 11 July, in an appearance, she requests, be kept private. Tragically, this is overruled by the Greens Senator chairing the committee.

It will take all of forty-five pages to chronicle Barilaro’s byzantine, self-promotion, self-demotion and the metamorphosis of his New York post; a statutory appointment, then a public service process. NSW Libs love a game of musical desks, Twister, or pass the parcel. But it won’t end well for the Premier. Barra-gate may bring Dominic Perrottet’s demise. Guardian Essential’s latest poll shows support for the Liberals is now below 40%.

In the end, politics can also be an old black ram tupping your white ewe, as Iago tells Brabantio, which, despite the racism of Shakespeare’s day, is not a bad way of portraying what is done to innocent Australians every day, by the powerful in their determination to have their way. And not just in NSW.

Barilaro may bring Perrottet down, while Dutton’s opposition can only further disgrace itself and the Liberal brand of expediency, deceit, self-aggrandisement and naked self-interest. Meanwhile, the RBA is exposed as an accomplice in the redistribution of wealth from labour to capital that has disgraced our politics since Neoliberalism took hold of Hawke and Keating.

It is to be hoped that the new Labor government has the bottle for long-overdue reform, not just of the RBA but of the corruption, the venality and degeneracy of our politics itself.

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Scrap the digital workhouse. An open letter to Tony Burke.

We know you are new in your job, Tony and face not only the huge demands of your portfolio but a backlog of catastrophic ineptitude and deceit left you by a Morrison government whose criminal negligence of health and welfare was rivalled only by its pandering to corporate oligarchs and its bent for wholesale corruption, but can you, please, reconsider Pbas?

Pbas is the points-based system that the Coalition was keen to inflict on job-seekers, a jobactive revamp it promoted as “more flexible” than mandatory job application. It’s not. It’s Liberal propaganda designed to pillory job seekers for being out of work. Lazy dole-bludgers. Political point-scoring. Baked into it is unconscionable, sadistic cruelty and victim-blaming. It’s the antithesis of everything we’ve come to associate with Labor.

Above all, Pbas won’t work. It’s too complex. It’s discriminatory and opaque. Users are at the mercy of a computer that decides if they’ve earned enough points. Of course, there are numbers to ring and visits you can make but have you ever tried to visit or ring Centrelink? Now Services Australia, another brave new oxymoron, says it is cutting work to outsourced call centres by thirty per cent. It’s as if they’ve set up the new system and Labor to fail. It’s a $7 billion dollar booby trap. You don’t want to crash and burn so soon after winning office.

Clients also are set up to fail. 200,000 people every month had payments suspended in Jobactive. Who knows how they met their rent or bought their groceries? ACOSS warns that Pbas will replicate this cruelty. It takes the Jobactive debacle and makes it worse.

It’s cruel. Pbas will make it harder for the poor and needy to get support, in the same ways that Morrison’s regime restricted access to the NDIS and individuals had their funding cut. Liberals love to scare us into believing that welfare is a crippling financial liability. Yet corporate welfare is vital. Billions are blown in subsidies to wealthy corporate donors. But look after the aged, the disabled, the poor and the needy? A burden we can’t afford. Nonsense. In fact, there are huge economic benefits in being a responsible government supporting and empowering all Australians. Take the NDIS as an example.

The economic benefit of the NDIS in 2020/21 was $52.4 billion, according to Per Capita. It adds economic activity worth $29 billion to $23.3 billion in NDIS spending. $2.25 was delivered to the economy for every dollar spent, it calculates. Conversely, there are huge costs beyond every pension dollar withheld. Consider the harm Pbas does to a jobseeker’s self-esteem. Bad enough you’re between jobs – or that you can’t get enough hours. Now you’re going to incur demerits as you lose points on Pbas.

Imagine the emotional labour and frustration of having to navigate a system so absurdly arbitrary and punitive that it is dubbed “Hunger Games meets Black Mirror”.

No wonder job seekers sampled recently used the word “suicidal” in their responses to how the new scheme could make them feel. Surely Labor could heed the warnings. No-one has forgotten or forgiven Robodebt. Do you really want to go down this path?

Not only will many be set up to fail the test, which favours the more literate job-seeker with resources such as access to a digital device, internet and time, but Pbas fails us as a compassionate, civil society. It fails Labor, too. If Labor still believes in a fair go. Has Labor done any research? Monash University’s David O’Halloran has conducted an online survey. His 447 job seekers were not only worried about getting a hundred points, a key feature of the system, they were afraid they’d be penalised, another design highlight.

Best heed the early warnings. Listen, as the PM promised he would listen to all Australians. Do you really want to continue the welfare terrorism of Coalition governments?

O’Halloran reckons, “ … harm was actually being designed into the system”.

In his view it’s “still based on the assumption, if you’re unemployed, you don’t want to work”.

I know, Labor supported Pbas in the last government. It’s tricky. Small target strategy can mean you snooker yourself. But you are the government. You can scrap it tomorrow. I’ve read your press releases. You’ve “tweaked it”, you say. But you can’t polish a turd. Pbas is hurtful. It’s been designed that way.

The same crew who brought us Robodebt. presents, Robo Task. Ta-Da. Starring a nifty computer algorithm to cut off your funds. Pbas is not a humane welfare system – but a digital workhouse set up to brutalise people in desperate economic need and push them out of the system and onto the street,” warns The Unemployed Workers Union. Bill Shorten uses the same image.

You’ll need to be computer-savvy, too. As ACOSS helpfully points out. “Your payment may be suspended if you do not complete the report for your points at the end of your reporting period. You will need to report these points to stop your payment from being suspended.” But let’s say you get your hundred points. How helpful is the site?

I just did a search on your new Jobactive 2.0 website. Guess what? As with everything else Morrison, it’s a dud. There’s not a single job in our regional town of around 9,000 people. Petrol is up to $2.20 a litre in town but there are a few jobs if you travel an hour each day. That’s just if you are lucky enough to get an interview. The bigger centres have plenty of locals on their books and an industry of job agencies. But PBAS is more than a website, of course, it’s a points system masquerading as self-help in that unctuous, patronising, condescending tone trademark of the Morrison horror-show.

Here’s a sample.

“Do you want to improve your English, reading and writing skills? Improving these skills could help you find a job or lead to other study or employment opportunities. The Skills for Education and Employment program is a free program that can provide you with training to improve your reading, writing, maths and digital skills.” Of course, it will. It will also improve the bottom line of the Pbas tutorial agencies that will pullulate, like mushrooms in the dark, all over the country, overnight.

The SEE program will help you overcome obstacles and achieve your career goals. You’ll gain new skills and confidence and learn alongside others with similar experience. The training is flexible to suit you, so you can do full or part-time, in a classroom or at home. You can even gain a certificate-level qualification through the SEE program. To see if you can join, contact your Employment Services Provider or Centrelink.”

Life’s hard enough if you’re one of the 1,360,100, the ABS reckons are unemployed, underemployed or unlucky enough to be retired but too young to go on the pension. You must make do on a pittance that is below the poverty line.

There is a full-blown crisis affecting hundreds of thousands of Australians who face vegetable price rises of 27% annually, pro-rata over the first three months of this year. Basics such as baked beans and sausages are up 20%-30%.

The penurious amount paid to Centrelink pensioners is a national scandal that governments are able to ignore because they are marginalised and voiceless. Helping is a Murdoch-led media which is keen to scapegoat those out of work as bludgers. Yet steep rises in the cost of food, rent, power and fuel are turning crisis into catastrophe. You own five houses, Tony, You enjoy a high salary, generous allowances, a top superannuation scheme and you’ve just had a 2.75 per cent pay rise. Can you even begin to imagine what it’s like to have to get by on fifty-four dollars a day? (With rental assistance.)

We have a clear idea because our wonderful 37-year-old daughter has to do just that. Matilda’s degenerative bone disease means she’s in continuous pain. She’ll need two new hip replacements shortly. It’s seven months to see a pain specialist.

Centrelink puts hurdles in her way. Her pain can only get worse yet Matilda must continuously get certificates from a GP to be exempt from applying for jobs she’s got no show of ever getting, let alone doing and which are scarce enough in a regional town. Fifty-four dollars if you qualify for rent assistance looks pitiful against the $291 per day that you can claim for accommodation in Canberra. It’s more if you have to stay in other cities. Unlike your job, Tony, with your accommodation and your travel allowances, there’s no fringe benefits in Matilda’s job. Matilda doesn’t get enough hours at her workplace where she’s worked for seven years without sick leave or benefits because she’s a “permanent casual”, an oxymoronic term embracing up to a quarter of the workforce.

The way workplaces are run these days means that more and more Australians are working casual shifts. It saves the boss a fortune but work itself becomes ever more precarious. And stressful. Along with many other young workers with special needs, our daughter has difficulty coping with change. I’m our daughter’s nominee in dealing with Centrelink but there’s been no warning of the change. It starts July 1st. Granted, no-one will be penalised in the first month but it will take all of that to get over the shock of having the rules changed so suddenly and without any consultation, whatsoever, with prospective users. The PM promises a government that will listen. How hard would it be to consult those vulnerable men and women who must suffer your grand design? At $7 billion dollars, Pbas is an unwarranted extravagance for any government let alone a Labor government which has its origins in looking after workers and their families. It’s just another costly way to punish the 548,100 unemployed and the 821,000 the ABS tells us are underemployed. (It’s far more than these statistics show given the way data is collected.)

You are not unemployed for example if you live on a family farm or are part of a family business and do one hour’s work a week unpaid. You do not enter unemployment statistics if you have given up looking for work. Or if you have given up on the system altogether because it’s all too hard. Is that your aim, Tony? Save the welfare spend by getting the poor job-seeker to drop out? We hope not. But if you continue with Pbas that’s what will happen. Not to mention the confusion, suffering and distress you will inflict on some of our most vulnerable by proceeding with a points-based system that is unworkable, unfair and downright cruel.

A society can be judged on how it treats its most vulnerable members. So far, Labor is breaking its election promise to be a government for all Australians by proceeding with a job-seeker system that discriminates against the powerless, poor and marginalised worker who has too few hours or who, increasingly, may be unable to find work. Would the women and the young people who voted for you, have done so had they known you were simply going down the Morrison government’s road of punishing the poor and vulnerable? You say it’s too late to change. It’s not. You’re in government. You can halt Pbas immediately. Dismantle the digital workhouse. Jobseekers, the aged and the disabled don’t need more ways to make them feel they are a burden. Take the $37 billion you are going to give to the rich. Use it to help create fair and liveable pensions instead.

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A real wage cut? What’s the go, Albo? (Part Two)

Continued from Part 1

I want to be a prime minister who represents the entire country, our cities, our regions, our rural communities,” the PM says, following The Fair Work Commission’s (FWC) 18 June decision to lift the minimum wage to $21.38 an hour, a 5.2% boost for 186,000 workers, yet those on awards get 4.6%. 2.7 million workers will directly benefit.

NewsCorp goes ape. It’s as if a streaker jumps the SCG fence to run on to the pitch. Pay rises strike at the very heart of the wage-slavery so vital to the profiteering of the investor and business classes which have successfully frozen real wages for nigh on a decade. Thankfully, there’s still usury to fall back on with interest rates set to rocket.

The Coalition counter offer? Attack Albo. Call for wages to fall. Slur, sneer and smear.

So it’s a win for Labor? On points. Real wages will fall. But not as much, thanks to the FWC. Millions of workers suckered into selling themselves and their labor short under enterprise bargaining agreements, (EBA) on 2-4% rises will fall even further behind. QANTAS offers even less; 1.5% over five years, with a $5000 bribe to sign its EBA.

You can’t get real wage growth if wages stay below inflation. Forty dollars a week for the 186,000 of Australian workers on the minimum wage amounts to a 5.2 % rise. They’ll barely keep up with our price and profit spiral inflation. Currently it sits at 5.1% but it’s rapidly rising.

Workers in “rural communities” can travel an hour each way every day to work and back. They’ll feel forgotten once again, whatever Albo may hope. The Community buzz-word does a lot of heavy-lifting. Already, low wage earners have lost a mozza under nine years of Coalition rip-offs despite Porter’s Omnibus Bill being gutted in the senate, March 2021.

The bill would be law now but for the dissenting vote of Centre Alliance’s Stirling Griff.

Porter’s law aimed both barrels of the Morrison IR shotgun at workers. Slash wages by degrading an awards system which sets minimum wages and conditions across industries and weaken what little remains of unions’ bargaining power. Workers are marginalised.

Women are hit hardest. Labor must know this. Almost half of women workers are part-time in an increasingly casualised workforce. (One in four workers). And under-employed. Young women are much more likely to be underemployed (18.3%) than men (15.0%)

Compounding the injustice, Australia women get paid less for the same work than men.

The full-time total earnings gender pay gap, which includes overtime payments, is 16.4%. A woman’s average weekly total full-time earnings are $316.80 less per week than a man.

And prices keep rising. Essentials are up 6.6% in the year to March. Even the RBA’s gnomic rate-whisperer, Philip Lowe tips 7% inflation by 31 December. Growth in real wages was Labor’s campaign catch cry. Economic vandalism, Bulldozer Morrison sneered.

But can Labor deliver?

Most of our 2.7 million workers on a few dollars more than the minimum will receive a 4.6% rise – in effect – a real wage cut, given the rising cost of food, shelter, healthcare and other necessities which the ABS coyly terms “non-discretionary expenditure”.

It all adds up. From 2012 to 2019, cumulative non-discretionary inflation was 14.8 per cent, whilst discretionary inflation was 12.9 per cent.

And it’s worse than it looks. The much-feted pay increase won’t take effect until November for tourism, hospitality and aviation workers. Casuals? Forget it. Retail wage-slaves must wait until September – despite the FWC acknowledging that retail has recovered.

Recovered? Is the FWC looking at liquor sales which the ABS says jumped 27%, 2019/20. Or hardware, electrical and furniture, up 14% over the year as we spent online and on home projects when we couldn’t get out and about?

Murdoch minions are screaming about a wage breakout. Reserve Bank muppet, Phil Lowe, a type of pythian oracle, Still Livin’ in the ‘70s, whose $1m PA salary keeps him in touch with average households, warns us off bids for “unrealistic wage increases [which] could fuel inflation and risk a rerun of a 1970s style wages breakout.”

You want to buy groceries, pay the rent and the power bill? Dream on.

It’s a low blow because we are in a price profit spiral – not a wages breakout, writes Richard Denniss, The Australia Institute’s Chief Economist. Phil’s perpetuating a myth that’s hardened into orthodoxy. Like Howard’s whopping lie that Liberals are better at managing the economy. It’s a go-to for the pocket sages who pop up on The Drum or on Q&A or Insiders, along with every Liberal MP’s favourite “downward pressure on prices”.

Downward pressure is usually a lie about how electricity or gas will be cheaper because the industrial cartel owning generation and often retail, which colludes in price gouging, in the same way banks collude in rate fixing, is imagined to be in competition. Yet downward pressure is everywhere, depressing the value of the working woman’s labour.

Every time workers seek a pay rise, the tamed estate clutches its pearls and reaches for smelling salts. Without a skerrick of evidence, our media, wail, prices can only go up.

Theatrics abound. TV news even features vox pops with sobbing coffee bar proprietors and café owners who fear they must shut up shop as a result of paying staff the new minimum wage. In fact, you’d be paying another nine cents for your four dollar flat white.

Lowe needs to lift his game. Get real. Or get out. Acknowledge, as Richard Denniss prompts, that current inflation is the result of worldwide increases in the price of energy and a wide range of consumer goods. Huge profits are driving our inflation, not wage rises.

It’s “cost-push inflation” Denniss writes.

“Hitting the Australian interest rate brakes will not do much to lower our inflation when there is a global freight train pushing it along.”

Those brakes themselves are defective, too. A third of Australians have mortgages. Businesses who borrow may trade a little less but a lot of things have to happen along the way before the rate rise curbs spending. Lowe must know this. He should level with us.

The RBA Governor is also out of date. Oddly de trop. A bit fey. Fawning audiences, hanging on every syllable, parsing even your pauses can do that. Turn your wisdom into an in-joke.

Lucky Jim Chalmers who’s as smart as a whip, reminds ABC’s Insiders of Labor’s review of the RBA in train. Lowe’s job is up next year. Chalmers chooses his words shrewdly.

Sally MacManus doesn’t mince words. Lowe’s fear of wage breakout is a “boomer fantasy”, retorts the ACT secretary. Our workforce has been de-unionised and centralised wage fixing is long gone, thanks to the same bosses, Libs lobbyists and our business-friendly, media oligopoly who now scream that we’ll all be ruined if employers have to pay workers a few cents more. Meanwhile business profits are up 20%.

So what’s the go, Albo? A “real pay rise” that few of us will get? A wage cut in real terms? Is it just a bit of spin? There’s nothing wrong with PR, of course, for a good cause. But that’s all the last mob did. Pat itself on the back in public. Make announcements.

As for being inclusive, Julia Gillard warns that the times make it even harder for women to get recognition and due recompense for their labour.

“There’s a risk that if nothing else changes in five years’ time, what we’ll see is a pattern where women have chosen, particularly in the family formation stage, disproportionately to work from home,” Gillard says.

“And men, who have been much more regular attenders at the office … that very visibility, if nothing else changes, will show in who’s been considered for promotion, sponsorship, mentorship. The women will be kind of invisible behind the screen.”

We know, of course, there’d be no rise at all from the casualised, wage-slave precariat that lies at the sclerotic heart of any Labor-bashing, Coalition government’s IR. Yet helping workers feed their families has to be a core promise from the workers’ party – at least historically. What’s the go, Albo? You tell us you promise to listen.

Time to turn to the new PM’s second major pledge.

“And I want to make sure, as well, that we listen to Australians wherever they live, whoever they voted for. We will be a government that represents the entire nation. And I want to bring the country together and concentrate on what unites us rather than look for division, which is what characterised the former government.”

Listening seems to be going well in work towards an indigenous voice to parliament. It’s part of Jim Chalmers’ spiel on ABC Insiders where the Federal Treasurer agrees there should be an ACTU representative on the Reserve Bank Board. He’s having talks with pensioner organisations and others to seek their input on a range of social justice issues.

Jim’s keen to “have a conversation” as part of the RBA review. Ensure the review examines the composition of what is currently a very narrow board of mainly business-class types.

We must ask, he says “whether it’s broad enough, in geographic terms and gender and all the important considerations, but to also make sure that the right voices are represented around the table, that the board is of the right composition and size”.

You always feel cheered by Lucky Jim because he’s on the ball. He exudes intelligence, principle and decency. Despite inheriting a trillion dollars of debt. No doubt, he’ll already have mapped out possibilities in his own mind. He’s had nine years to think about things. But due process has to be done and seen to be done.

But is Labor listening to its arch-enemy, The Greens? The Greens and 34 crossbenchers – 16 in the HOR and 18 in the Senate wail that their advisors are a quarter of the previous government’s staffing largesse. Not feeling the love from Labor at the moment?

Here, you can’t fault Albo’s unity pitch. Morrison’s doubling the staffing for crossbenchers to buy their support is one of the many boobytraps left in the wake of his electoral rout.

A new PM should seek parity in the parliamentary workplace. Equal support staff. Expect this to be beaten up into an attack on democracy itself, despite being regularly treated to MSM stories on how The Greens will wreck everything- including our national flag fetish.

True, Labor’s listening to The Greens hasn’t started so well. The PM bags Adam Bandt when the Greens’ Leader removes the flag with a Union Jack, Commonwealth Star and The Southern Cross, a symbol of oppression for first nation’s peoples, from his presser.

But it’s the Vision Thing. You can’t quibble, carp or cavil. Nor can Dutton’s flummoxed opposition, even if it does have trouble finding its own bum with both hands. (Angus “air-miles” Taylor is Shadow Treasurer. Brave choice. Shady Taylor holds a press conference. No-one turns up.) If you hold a presser and no press attend …?

Shady’s innumeracy is legendary. Wind? “By 2020, the impost on Australian electricity bills will amount to about $3 billion a year,” he warned. He is only $3 billion out.

Gus miscalculated on renewable compliance certificates remaining high because of Abbott’s threat to abolish the RET. Their price plummeted. As Shady posts on his own FB account, “Fantastic. Great move. Well done Angus”.

Unity? “It’s the vibe of the thing …” for Loose Units and Liberals. Word-salad whiz, ScoMo, spins similar, hokey, platitudes, in August 2018, when helped by Murdoch and Cormann “the ultimate seducer and betrayer” he knifes Fizza, “fraudband” Turnbull and undermines Spud.

But Murdoch does the groundwork. In 2018, The AFR and ABC both report that Murdoch tells Stokes, Seven chairman and victim of Ben Roberts-Smith backer, that Turnbull needs to be replaced as PM. Thirty straight NewsPoll losses help.

Having pumped Dutton’s tyres in an earlier ballot, ensuring Turnbull’s defeat, Duplicity Morrison gets key backers to switch their votes to himself 45-40. Then the PM for himself alone promises to be a responsible leader. Having Corman on camera, too, makes it democratic.

“We will provide the stability and the unity and the direction and the purpose that the Australian people expect of us as leaders,” he lies. “We are on your side..”

Sceptics may demur, but as La Belle France’s toy-boy, Emanuel Macron, president of a self-deceiving, soi-disant, “Pacific Power” knows, Scotty is an inveterate liar. And with the help of Murdoch, Trump, Costello and Stokes, we do live in a post truth world. How else can $u$$an Ley keep a straight face when she claims she’s listening to women?

There’s no sign she understands remotely what they are saying.

“What you hear from the opposition is this long, ongoing, bleak, dreary narrative about entrenched disadvantage. And, you know, it’s just so last century.”

That may be the case for high-flyers such as herself, (a pilot, Ley did get into trouble booking her air miles up to taxpayers) but a glance at ABS statistics show she’s ignoring a very modern injustice. Government gender workplace data includes an array of evidence.

As of 24 February 2022… “full-time average weekly ordinary earnings for women are 13.8% less than for men. This has decreased by 0.4 percentage points since May 2021.” Instead, Ley gushes about opportunities. As fact-free as her love-in with Dutto.

Ley praises the new soft and cuddly Dutton 2.0 who in 2019 accuses women of faking being raped so they get their ticket of leave from Nauru to give birth in Australia.

In 2016, a federal court finds him guilty of breaching his duty of care to an asylum seeker who became pregnant after being raped on Nauru, and exposed her to serious medical and legal risks. Dutton had her flown to Papua New Guinea for the procedure, despite abortion being illegal in that country and the hospital lacking the expert staff and equipment required to make the operation as safe as possible. The abortion would have placed the woman at risk of criminal prosecution, Justice Bromberg found.

In the midst of the Covid pandemic, the former head of Home Affairs Peter tried to sneak through an Amendment to the Migration Act (1958) to give Australian Border Force power to confiscate the phones of asylum seekers and refugees being held in detention. He nearly succeeds, but for Jacqui Lambie’s dissenting vote in the Senate.

“I think he’s quite unassuming. I know that isn’t what people see, but it is what I see. He’s much more of a modern person than people realise.”

Dutton is a dead man walking. Another serial failure in every portfolio he’s been given, he will be another Abbott wrecker but with a smaller parliamentary cheer squad. Spare us the spin. Tell us the truth about COVID. Our lucky country is struck by a pandemic killing fifty a day as it mutates, yet barely makes the news. The cabal we let buy, redesign and ruin our semi-national grid is price gouging, leaving us in the cold and dark as it boosts a profit-driven inflation spiral with government subsidies. Yet workers must not seek wage rises lest they add to inflation, grins winsome Phil Lowe.

Helped by our blinkered “news media”, we are busy violating China’s Economic zone. An embedded media never reports how we drop sonobuoys, small portable radar units, which will help the US detect and destroy China’s subs in its next act of military madness. Better to pretend we are innocents abroad in international waters.

Yet far worse occurs – the triumph of experience over hope. Jerry and Rupert are to split.

A teary nation grieves the cleavage of Jerry Hall (65) from her crocodile man bag, Rupie (91), our own Australian Fairy Godfather, who uses his supernatural powers to choose our governments, make life hell for Dictator Dan and ruin any other Labor upstart Down Under, while still finding time to be the perfect Murdoch Mafia don. And wage war on the truth and climate science. Not to mention his unceasing campaign against unions and workers.

How does he keep it up? There is some hope he is starting to struggle financially.

Two years ago, Michael West reports, the Murdochs ripped a cool $1.4 billion in salary and bonuses from public companies since 1999. Now the family fortune is sunk in Disney+ shares, a deal which excludes Rupert and Sons from any seats on the board. The shares are sinking and the Murdoch empire may already have halved in value.

Albo’s “I will unite” stuff really bucks us up just when we need to toughen up to cope with the big stuff. A split in the October-December marriage of two star-crossed lovers.

But six years hence, Jerry sensibly gave Mick Jagger the flick to reset her love-life, seeking the romance she so richly deserves. And now Rupe and Jerry are getting unhitched? Jerry married the love of her life only to find old age creeping up on her?

That bastion of plagiarism, The Daily Mail claims Rupe told Jerry to butt out. He doesn’t like her smoking in the house. Sounds plausible. Be a drag on any relationship.

Some wags unkindly suggest that Jerry expected Rupert to peg out a little earlier. No wonder she’s on edge. Did she fail to understand that no one sees off The Dirty Digger?

Besides, he’s a man on a mission. Marina Hyde understands.

“Rupert will be one of Earth’s last-surviving life forms, affectlessly inciting the tardigrades to insurrection and publishing grotesque lies about the cockroaches.”

Beware. Rupert is now free to follow his heart. Do what he loves. Destroy our Labor PMs.

No-one can cavil at the way our new PM hits the ground running on the Albanese Labor Government project, a work very much in progress. The vibe is right. Team Albo seems intelligent, articulate, co-ordinated and decent, even allowing for a halo effect bestowed on any act following the Morrison omnishambles.

Experienced, too, which is what we need with The World Bank tipping economic recession for most of us. Plus a return to seventies stagflation. The US economy will tip into a recession next year, say 70 per cent of leading academic economists polled by the Financial Times. That’s two consecutive terms of negative GDP.

It’s not just the threat of Murdoch god-like power. Albo knows, “As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport.” If not, he isn’t listening to Kevin Rudd.

On all sides, Labor is in danger of being mugged by ugly realities. Already, it’s struggling to put its money where its mouth is – even if you can’t fault its rhetoric.

If Albo wants unity, however, he needs first to deal with the divisive disinformation, the undermining of Labor and the abuse of power that is the malignant Murdoch empire’s stock in trade. What’s the go with Rudd’s call for a Royal Commission?

Similarly, a “business friendly” Labor government needs to reassure true believers that it still cares about workers, a quarter of whom are now casual and exploited mercilessly.

Late last year, The Australian High Court ruled that, if an employment contract says you are a casual worker, then you must be a casual worker – even if you work regular, ongoing hours. This denial of workers’ rights is a massive wrong that needs to be put right.

A token rise in the minimum wage is a start, but our whole IR system lies in ruins after nearly a decade of Coalition onslaughts. Our workers suffer one of the most draconian, anti-union IR regimes in the democratic world, in which they have all but surrendered their rights to organise; their rights to withdraw their labour; take industrial action.

But can Labor make a move whilst an American billionaire runs the country? Before Murdoch sells News Corp, (if indeed, he still owns it – you’d never know with an outfit registerd in Delaware) time to get that federal ICAC into gear.

Albo promises that it will be ready by the end of the year. There’s a lot of questions about the rorting, the corruption and the colluding with the nation’s power-generating oligarchy that the previous mis-government needs to answer. Just don’t expect Murdoch’s hacks to be happy about it. In the meantime, make nice with the Greens. Hold a truth and reconciliation commission, if you need to, Albo.

Time to get over the Malaysian solution and the carbon tax betrayals. Your new Labor government needs to be fair dinkum about unity and be a genuine workers’ party if it is to achieve the pressing reforms on the IR front that are at least nine years’ overdue. It needs to be fearless about climate change, reducing emissions and renewable power generation. Most important, it needs to follow through on its commitment to women’s safety. At least seven hundred women have been killed in the twelve years since Labor tabled the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.

Above all, those women who helped you to win deserve to be listened to, too.

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What’s the go, Albo? (Part 1)

OK, Albo’s no Italian stallion – despite the euphoria of love on the rebound – especially after our abusive relationships with a series of cads, war criminal Howard, then “me myself and I” – Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison-too much in love with themselves to brook any rival – whose neoliberal religion sees people as mere consumers; or commodities in a transaction. So it’s not quite love at first sight yet and we’re not quite over the moon, however wonderful it is to see a normal human being become Prime Minister.

Barely a month has passed since amateur DJ, Albo moved his shaving kit into The Lodge bathroom and stashed his Midnight Oil, Spiderbait and Powderfinger amongst his trove of classic vinyl into the spare room yet we’re wondering about the new bloke. OK. He sounds decent, speaks sense and doesn’t lie his head off. That’s refreshing.

But is it enough? Did anyone expect Albo to be in such an oil-fired-nuclear-powered hurry to kiss Biden’s arse? Suck up to Soekarno puppet, Joko Widodo? Where in the pre-nups does it say that, We the People, agree to turn Darwin into a US Marine Base of over 2000 troops on a rotational basis? Whatever that means. The Marines are part of a Top Secret Plan in which Australia helps the neo-con hawks in the Pentagon goad China into a nuclear war over Taiwan. Soon. What could possibly go wrong?

Madeleine King certainly strikes a bum note when she calls for coal to step up to fill the void to push power prices down. There is no void. But our generators can play funny buggers with the supply if they want to create a crisis. Hold a gun to our heads. We know that Australia is a carbon capture state but King still shocks us.

Has Labor learned nothing from the Teals’ performance at the last election? Does it want to alienate the very MPs it will need to support its legislation in the Senate?

And who isn’t blind-sided when Albo dons the Morrison cloak of a secret National Cabinet – or COAG on stilts? Doesn’t he know that the cloak is a poisoned robe like the shirt of Nessus? Look what it did to Bulldozer Morrison.

COAG is a Keating stunt from 1992. It doesn’t need re-heating. There are already calls for local councils to participate. But why stop there? Those at home, such as age pensioners who must choose between paying the power bill and eating could join those who will now be sick with worry that they won’t even get Jobseeker.

All could rack up points just by logging in. Amazing Julie Bishop didn’t think of it. In 2015, her DFAT was gutted but she did get her hipster innovation Hub? A “gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place” it was supposed to come up with clever ways to run foreign aid on no money. Yep. Look where we are now.

The poor and needy will just have to eat less. So the minimum wage is lifted by 5.2%. An extra $20 per week? Whoopie do. It won’t even cover the rise in the price of petrol. With inflation tipped to hit seven per cent by market whisperer, the superbly reserved, Phil Lowe, by this time next year, our lowest-paid workers will suffer a cut in their real wages. Phil’s the lad from the Reserve Bank, an outfit from 1960, who knows we’ve all forgotten that nowhere in its charter is the notion that it will control inflation.

It can’t. You can’t control inflation caused by external causes including Putin’s genocide in Ukraine and the global Covid pandemic that, with the blind eye of authorities, is on track to kill 15-18,000 of us before the year ends. Our COVID case and death rates are one of the highest in the world. Super news, for all of us but Rupert who controls our mainstream news, seems to have kept the facts away from his newshounds.

You wouldn’t read about it in any mainstream news, including our ABC, which Morrison’s captain’s pick, Ita Buttrose, decides needs an entirely redundant Ombudsman to report directly to its Liberal-stacked Board. It’s a slap in the face for hard-working investigative journalists such as Four Corners, even if they do get Matthew Carney to replace Sally Neighbour. OK. Joel Tozer from Sixty Minutes gets 7:30 but he’s ex-ABC.

Covid is your own responsibility now, kids. Inflation? Think of the economy, (amen) as The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss reminds us, “while high inflation is bad news for the budgets of 10 million Australian households, it’s good news for the bottom line of the commonwealth budget. While rapidly rising prices for groceries, coffee, petrol and building supplies mean tough choices are being made around Australia’s kitchen tables, those same price rises mean government revenue from the GST are set to surge.”

Those left jobless, by the recession we’re rushing into, carrying a trillion dollars in debt – thank-you Josh Frydenberg – will be further pilloried by the seven billion dollar Morrison scheme of requiring job seekers to rack up points before getting forty dollars a day to live on or $200 a fortnight below the Henderson Poverty Line.

Can’t be fixed now. Tony Burke tells us he’s inherited a war on the poor that’s too late to end. Far too hard to raise Jobseeker above the poverty line? What’s the go, Albo?

Unfixable is the Morrison-Taylor energy crisis. He may sound a bit dim but don’t be deceived. Angus Taylor’s a smart cookie. There’s not only the family firm that former Water Minister, Barnaby Joyce gave $80 million to in the Watergate scandal, involving the Taylor family’s East Australian Agriculture with an HQ in the Caymans. Plus another firm which sprayed Roundup on endangered native grassland that he has to manage. With a bit of help from a mate. Cayman Islands? It’s all a mystery, but as Gus assures sticky-beaks, such as Fran Kelly, all the best companies do it.

Thank goodness newly appointed US Trade and Investment Commissioner Giovanni Pork Barilaro is able to draft Taylor’s family firm a cool $130,000 in 2018 for a project to prove that it wasn’t poison. Grass has its bad days, too, you know. Best of all, Gus Taylor is able to keep the lights on just until Labor won the election. Doubtless Gus will be cheered to learn that a federal ICAC, an election promise, the PM is determined to keep, will be set up by December.

Well done, Albo – and Attorney General Mark Dreyfus QC. But The Greens want the ICAC up and running before the October Budget. Helen Haines, they argue, already has a model ready to go. And the cross bench will have the power.

So what’s the go with Coal-Keeper, Albo? The Energy Security Board (ESB) is one of a bevy of at least half a dozen, vital to ensuring that coal remains king, while government subsidises the massive profits of largely private companies which don’t pay tax – with the exception of Queensland whose state generators are into profiteering anyway. The ESB claims in its newest report that it isn’t a coal-keeper at all, yet the fine print admits that keeping the coal fires burning – using public funds to subsidise a few fabulously wealthy multinational corporations – just might happen anyway.

The wonderfully named Anna Collyer, chair of the ESB, is in The AFR, Monday, 20 June

“… in the past, the concept of a capacity mechanism has been dubbed ‘coal-keeper’. It is a catchy line, but it is not the intent. The intent is to design a tool that provides more certainty around dispatchable capacity – that is capacity that can respond to a dispatch signal on demand.”

Yet as Crikey’s Bernard Keane notes, the ESB admits that, in the fine print, “a capacity provider may decide to factor in refurbishment or retrofitting costs into their bid and if this is cost-competitive against new capacity, then customers receive the reliability benefit of this asset remaining in the market.”

Now Chris Bowen is shovelling money into the off-shore accounts of our nation’s energy racketeers, paying generators to keep the lights on in a system rigged to reward the big investor while it leaves families in the cold and dark. We’ve shacked up with Labor for at least three years? Single-term governments are rare in Australian politics.

Of course, it’s early days. Of course, we’re jumpy. Years of suffering abuse, neglect and gaslighting in a serial relationship based on lies, the demeaning cruelty of coercive control and gaslighting is enough to give anybody PTSD.

And when the wide boys in power have been milking the till, fiddling the books and colluding in the game of mates behind a thick veil of secrecy – all to enrich the top end of town, almost anyone honest, decent or fair would be better.

Yes. We know Albo’s got to keep his head down. But is it a small Target Strategy or no bottle? Labor won the election. It now holds seventy-seven seats in the lower house and the senate has enough Greens and Independents to be workable. Even with one UAP senator in the upper house. If they don’t stick their heads up soon, the ruling Murdoch-Stokes-Costello-ABC media oligopoly will destroy Labor.

It’s a relief not to see a PM giving out ukuleles to Pacific leaders. But Albo has to be decisive. He is. But it’s all a bit frantic. Nine years too late to put the dumpster fire that the LNP made of our financial aid to our Pacific neighbours.

ScoMo didn’t carry a hose. Albo’s dashing all over our the Pasifika dousing embers. Our formidable Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, is run ragged. But it’s been nine years since Abbott and Hockey slashed $4.5 billion from Foreign Aid, a move they followed up in their second budget raid on Julie Bishop’s kitty with another $3.5 billion “efficiency dividend” of a billion dollars a year over three years.

Much as he may and try to please our US masters who fear that Pacific Islands nations now turn to China after being given the cold shoulder by Australia, it’s a bit late. China has outbid us in the battle for hearts and minds. The China-Pacific Island Countries Common Development Vision is a plan extended to at least a dozen Pacific states.

Granted, Penny Wong is on to it. She says; “China has made its intentions clear. So too are the intentions of the new Australian government. We want to help build a stronger Pacific family.” Is the language right? It’s dangerously close to the patronising duplicity of the previous regime. Island leaders scorn “boomerang” aid that largely benefits the Australian donor. But there’s more, Wong touts more of Kanaka 2.0 where Pasifika workers fly in and pick our fruit, tend our vines and labour in our vegetable market gardens but she’s got to combat the lived experience of workers who have made the long trip, worked all season only to return out of pocket to their labour contractor.

In a desperate pitch, along with “our Pacific labour programs” a modern form of slavery for many, she offers new permanent migration opportunities.” The last bit’s tricky. It may, sadly, be just practical given the rate at which our heavily subsidised fossil-fuel industry contributes to rising sea levels through exported coal and gas. Emissions rise as other countries burn our exported fossil fuels. They are now more than double Australia’s domestic emissions.

But won’t The Australian, The Daily Telegraph and The Herald Sun have fun with the permanent migration? Morrison used to go off his chops about “sugar on the table.” Pull factors only in the Murdoch-approved Coalition fiction of events. No hint that people get into leaky boats to escape hell on earth at home.

Rudd stopped the boats, by declaring that no-one arriving by boats would be settled in Australia in his flawed, 2013 Pacific Solution. But expect a re-run of the lie. Already there are images of boats of asylum-seekers from Sri Lanka appearing in Murdoch’s gutter press. The implication that boats are arriving because Labor is soft on borders ignores the worst economic crisis to ravage the nation since 1949, forcing the nation to default on its loans and creating grave political and social unrest.

And as we love-bomb bemused Pacific Islanders, we are doing very little for Sri Lanka, save turning back at least three boats in violation of UN law on refoulement and in repudiation of our obligations under international law.

Hockey and Abbott hollered for years about a debt and deficit disaster and how there was a budget emergency. Then Hockey went on The Nation in New Zealand in July 2014 and admitted he’d been making it all up. Luckily our ABC did the right thing and no-one else in the mainstream media picked it up either. In case you missed it, here’s what he said.

“The Australian economy is not in trouble… There’s no crisis at all in the Australian economy.”

Of course, Sleepy Joe Biden’s got Albo on the hop. The big shock is not that Labor’s all the way with the USA. That’s the Labor path, not that history exists anymore given the eternal present bestowed upon us by Odin’s Eye, our MSM Cyclops, working tirelessly around the clock to produce a virtual national frontal lobotomy. If the past and its study were permitted to exist, we’d know that Labor is very much in favour of the alliance. Or we’d form the foolish notion, even after the publication of Jenny Hocking’s research in the Palace letters, that we are in charge of our own destiny.

And our great and powerful friend, Washington, has never upped the peppercorn rent that we charge for its bases at Nurrungar and Pine Gap that are so handy in guiding its missiles and drones. If we’re squaring off to go to war with China, Pine Gap is critical, according to a couple of high-ranking military types who fired a shot over our bows down under, ahead of the Morrison’s government’s massive loss on 21 May.

Admiral John “Lung” Aquilino, boss of the US Indo-Pacific Command, last year declared that war against China was “much closer than most think,” described Australia as an “extremely high-end partner.”

“Lung” is a hawk and was Trump’s pick for the job in December but after Biden’s victory, he needed to be reviewed. Nice work, Biden.

On backup vocals during the visit, is General James Dickinson, another hawk, head of US Space Command. Australia is a “critical partner” in space warfare, including to monitor Chinese space operations, he gushes – guardedly.

“This is the perfect location for a lot of things we need to do,” he tells London’s The Financial Times. “Things” include going to war with China over Taiwan, another military adventure in which Australia will tag along without any tedious parliamentary debate. Or gesture towards democratic process.

Even Little Britain goes through the process of parliamentary debate. (Not that it stopped Thatcher’s madness in The Falklands, another coup for Rupert’s press.“Stick it up the argies” one tasteful banner screamed. Nor did it impede the neocon New Labour’s Tony Blair from war crimes in Iraq.)

Shooting down China’s hypersonic missiles is also on Aquilino’s list whilst – another “thing”- the US expands its base in Darwin to accommodate storage of 300 million litres of fuel.

Third, what is described as “over two thousand Marines” are now deployed in Marine Rotational Force-Darwin. Could be two hundred thousand as far as we know.

“Marry in haste repent at leisure” my Dad, a Royal Navy veteran, used to say, in that way he had of firing bits of folk wisdom, wise old saws and music hall ditties into the void between us; along with shafts of rebarbative dockside-matey’s wit that you suspected were aimed at you. “Don’t shoot until you see the whites of their eyes, son.”

Not that we’re married to Albo or his Labor government. Indeed The Narrative, aka “The National Conversation” on vacuous chat shows like The Drum, refreshed each morning by The Australian, the Pravda of a uniquely concentrated, inbred and incestuous Australian mainstream media oligopoly, says no. Our MEDIUM says we’re having a fling and the Coalition is still the government in exile and eternally newsworthy.

Insiders features serial failure, Spud the dud, Peter Dutton while Dave Littleproud bones Barnaby Thomas Gerard Barnaby Joyce, the knight in shining armour and Riverview Old Boy, a loving silver-spoonful, who brags that his parents are “quite rich” is on Sky in his heroic fight for the Weatherboard Nine of Warwick and the shareholders in Santos.

“I didn’t give a toss for where power comes from, but one of the greatest afflictions for people in the weatherboard and iron is they can’t afford power,” he says in 2018. That’s working well for BJ at present, as the other remarkable cartel in all our lives, the electricity generators get the red card from the regulator for withholding supply to bid the spot price up. An industry allowed to set its own regulations by captive politicians

Abusive relationships seldom end well. There are the highs; elation when you discover that your new partner seems to care, like when the Biloela family is allowed to come home. We hope it’s not just a token. Or joy when you see he can lead a team; delegating to capable ministers instead of overshadowing, upstaging, micromanaging and having an affair with his own image in the lens of his personal photographer.

But then there are the lows. Julian Assange? Letting Jobseekers suffer a new set of petty cruelties? Keeping Morrison’s National Cabinet – and keeping it top secret? An energy Minister sucking up to the mining oligarchy? Madeleine King, a coal shill?

When Employment Minister Tony Burke says it’s too late to abandon the Morrison misgovernment’s $7bn point system Pbas to qualify for a jobseeker payment that is well below the Henderson Poverty Line, it’s a worry. Burke says contracts have been awarded. But try telling that to Emanuel Macron. Burke is saying all the right things but it does seem as if the Coalition has booby-trapped the incoming government; poisoned the chalice of electoral victory.

“What the government’s designed, some of it’s more punitive than actually getting the job done. We want to make sure, and I’ll be changing it over the course of the next week, to make sure that we can have a system that’s designed to get people into work, rather than some media stunt to punish people.”

Burke needs to speak to a few job seekers. There’s enough of them around. Half don’t make it into official statistics. They’ll tell you how demeaning it is to prove yourself worthy of a pittance. It doesn’t matter how much you dress it up or claim you have a system up your sleeve, it’s completely irredeemable. Any civil society worth its salt knows that support for the needy and vulnerable should be unconditional. Scrap it. Put the money into fixing the NDIS which the Liberals have done their best to scupper.

But there are lows and lows, Albo. You dash off to Tokyo like Joe Biden’s bellhop. Far too keen to get your riding instructions as deputy sheriff of our bit of the Pacific. You’d barely been sworn in? Putting Penny Wong on how many charm offensives to counter China’s designs? She’s barely time to re-pack her travel bag. What’s the go Albo?

Snap out of it. Yep, we’ve all got PTSD thanks to being monstered by the fat controller Morrison and his gaslighting, happy clapping bullies, still feted and enabled by the gang of five led by Lizard of Oz.

We all get the face we deserve, but Murdoch’s wizened, fissured mug looks like an elephant’s scrotum, with apologies to David Hockney who on seeing WH Auden said if that’s his face, imagine what his scrotum must look like. One comfort is that having sunk half the family fortunes into Disney +, the patriarch has halved his family’s net worth. Another small consolation is that only about half the population “use news” on any given day. Then, there’s the tragic decline of print media. Rupert’s rags may have to fold. Or they may already be sold. Given News Corp’s secrecy, we’d never know.

Don’t let it spook you, Albo. The Pacific Islanders want us to commit to zero emissions. That’s better than your charm offensive. No matter how brilliant she is, Penny Wong will never match the Chinese budget for aid. War with China? Hold your nerve. Don’t fall for the cock and bull of neocon loonies in the Pentagon. Look where it’s got us in the past. A winnable nuclear war? Mutually assured destruction? MAD. Nah. Just madness.

Hold your fire. There’s heaps to do at home. A Voice to Parliament. Energy. Welfare. Education. Higher Education. Health. Wages. The Arts. Climate. Everything worthwhile’s been neglected under the fossil fuel muppets of the last nine years.

And do bring on the Royal Commission into Murdoch. As soon as you can.

Morrison didn’t just drive the Liberal Party into a mountain. He and his predecessors dismantled our democratic, civil society. You call yourself a builder in the election campaign. Let’s see some of that. So what’s the go, Albo?

Link to Part 2

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A Tinpot Dictator?

When Scott John Morrison takes his Sunday fly-drive to leafy Yarralumla to visit His Excellency, David Hurley, AO, a former NSW Governor and his “captain’s pick” for GG, the jig is up; now everyone knows a federal election will be held 21 May and, sadly, the guess-the date-games must end, despite Morrison’s addiction to secrecy, quibbling and game playing. Things that help him lord it over other people.

Morrison loves evading or concealing truth as much as lying. “I just don’t care,” he tells ABC’s Annabel Crabb. It shows. Politics is mostly just a game to him. At the hint of a threat to his power, however, his game morphs instantly into Mortal Kombat.

ADF crew salute him, a Morrison idea, as our malignant narcissist-in-Chief alights Shark One, the QANTAS A330 VIP executive jet, his favourite boy’s toy, a Big Dick clubhouse with wings, done up to look like a business executive’s office suite with $250 million of public money. It’s more than PR. He loves to pretend he’s not just a sad, gutless, gas industry puppet. He’d take his jet to fetch the girls from school if he could.

Following protocol, Morrison knocks up his vice-regal manservant, low profile Governor-General, Dave Hurley to kick-start the election. It won’t be about policy, or even playing the game, it will be a rabid hyper partisan attack on Labor, especially its leader, Anthony Albanese. And pork-barrelling. While Shark One may soar, Morrison’s politicking plumbs the depths of the lowest gutter.

In a damaging flashback, former rival for Cook, Michael Towke, pops up to accuse Morrison of racism. Towke accuses the PM of resorting to “racial vilification” to overturn the initial ballot which Towke won convincingly. Morrison allegedly insinuated that Cook’s voters wouldn’t accept a Lebanese Australian candidate.

“At the time [in 2007] he was desperate, and it suited him to play the race card,” Towke tells The Project’s Waleed Aly,

By remarkable coincidence, during the 2004 federal campaign, when Morrison was state director of the Liberal Party, racist tactics were used against Labor candidate for Greenway, Ed Husic, not a practising Muslim.

A day before the election, a fake ALP brochure was distributed in Greenaway. “Ed Husic is a devout Muslim. Ed is working hard to get a better deal for Islam.”

Morrison wins no friends by leaving his GG call to the last possible moment – but that’s his trademark. He’d be late to his own (political) funeral. As events may prove, given the way he’s alienated women across the nation and more than a few in the Liberal branch of NSW, once a powerhouse the Coalition hoped might counter losses in other states.

Then there’s the pandemic failure. Going AWOL during the bushfires. The submarine fiasco which cost us at least $5.5 billion. The trade war with China that’s helping ruin our export trade and a fair bit of tertiary education. Morrison’s list of failures is huge.

Loyal Deputy Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce keeps the faith, however, if only with his followers who count on him to pick a winner. In a sensational leaked text from the Nationals’ leader composed in March 2021, Joyce confides that he does not “get along” with Morrison.

“He is a hypocrite and a liar from my observations and that is over a long time. have never trusted him, and I dislike how earnestly [he] rearranges the truth to a lie.”

A High Court challenge mounted by Matthew Camenzuli, from Parramatta, an IT mogul from the NSW Liberal conservative faction, aligned with former Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells slows things up but, here, Morrison’s only himself to blame. Getting his envoy, Alex Hawke to stall and delay local pre-selection meetings until the Federal executive would have to step in has not endeared him to everyone in the NSW branch nor nationally. Hawke is widely reviled.

Many Liberals resent his high-handed intervention in branch pre-selection. Retiring senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, stiffed for a winnable place on the ticket, calls Morrison a tyrant and a fraud who hides behind the façade of his church-going.

Others accuse him of remaking the party in his own image. Departing NSW Liberal, Catherine Cusack, joins a swelling chorus of women in Liberal politics who call Morrison a bully. He’s “ruined” the Liberal party, she says. She will not vote for him or the party at the federal election.

If you can’t run a Liberal branch, how can you run the country?

But there’s a ray of hope for ScoMo. Camenzuli’s lawyers fail to overrule Morrison’s intervention to save Environment Minister Sussan Ley, Immigration Minister Alex Hawke and North Sydney MP Trent Zimmerman from a local preselection battle that could threaten their political futures. Camenzuli sought an injunction to block the preselection of nine Liberal candidates which would bar the party from printing their names on the ballot paper.

Keeping everyone else waiting while he gets his act together gives Morrison time to win his high-stakes game. Pick his favourites. Remake the party in his own image. Above all it gets him attention. Forget the daggy dad act. This PM is a ruthless Machievallian.

Will he pull the fat out of the fire? Critics of our PM’s self-abrogating demeanour still decry the way Morrison hogged the show at last January’s Australia Day awards ceremony. Worse, Grace Tame was threatened by someone from the Office. Women vote. They won’t forgive or forget the Morrison government’s record of sexism and misogyny. Nor will they overlook the spate of Liberal women who have recently spoken out against him.

Former commercial rose-grower, Minister for Family Service and manager of government business in the senate, Anne Ruston, Minister for Women’s Safety, fails her first real test. Who threatened Grace Tame? The former Australian of the year used a Press Club Address to explain that someone from “a government-funded organisation” rang to tell Tame she must not say anything “damning” about Morrison so close to an election.

Mystified. Jane Hume adds a bit of hand-wringing. We don’t even know if it were a man or a woman, she wails. Clearly, no-one’s tried very hard to find out. Tame says that she’d prefer that the person who felt they needed to make the call should out themselves. An investigation into the call is “the very same embedded structural silencing culture that drove the call in the first place and misses the point entirely. It’s not about the person who made the call, it’s the fact that they felt like they had to do it,” Tame explains.

It’s sexism; the age-old gendered response of doubting and discrediting the victim’s story when the victim is a woman. But it’s no vote winner for over half the population.

Yet the PM seems happy. Morrison promotes Ruston to Liberal Campaign Spokeswoman. Her Labor counterpart, Katy Gallagher will not give up on women so readily.

But look over there – how good is our invisible Governor General? A big gig every three years, if only to help a PM call a fresh election or witness signatures whenever Ministers are appointed. Morrison loves pomp and ceremony. It adds a legitimacy he craves and a distraction he badly needs. Dave Hurley’s happy. He’s hoping to win a trifecta.

The Governor General’s hazy job profile makes Morrison appear almost industrious by contrast. Being GG, on the other hand, keeps you busier than “the arts” or in tertiary education, both spurned by Frydenberg in JobKeeper, despite his forty billion dollar (Joe Aston calculates) windfall, for businesses in profit despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Fan-boy Greg Jennett, a Tarzan of adulation, if not fatal attraction to the PM, and Jane Norman, the John and Betty of ABC afternoon political television, become a hot mess of running commentary on the twenty minute meeting, breathlessly spilling the beans on such essentials as Morrison’s coffee with the Governor General.

Greg and Jane kindly remind us that Yarralumla sits in 58 hectares of Canberra prime real estate, in case we miss how the trappings of office are lavished on our ruling class, while others die of malnourishment, neglect and the latest mutant strain of coronavirus in “aged care facilities” a gulag of misery where our poor, wretched, vulnerable elders pass their final days in a fog of antipsychotics in state subsidised granny farms staffed by some of the lowest paid, most highly casualised workers in Australia.

The Coalition’s Aged Care Act 1997, ushered in a flood of private investment in the exploitation and commodification of the elderly. Private equity firms, new foreign investors, superannuation and property real estate investment trusts “entered the residential aged care market.” Data on residents’ safety and wellbeing must be kept top secret.

Our current aged care crisis stems from Howard’s Aged Care Act, writes Dr Sarah Russell. His government subsidised private health insurance is still helping scupper Medicare.

Amazingly, Dave, a spry 68 year-old corporate state welfare beneficiary with all his own teeth, is at Yarralumla this weekend and not entertaining Prince Andrew, who’s been known to slip in, sans fanfare, for a quick visit, as he did in 2018, to promote Pitch@Palace, his matchmaking of investors and corporate partners with startup companies. Now it’s wound up after Andy’s misadventures with underage women abroad, stories which his mother, Queen Elizabeth II refuses to believe, preferring the much more plausible “I was at Beatrice’s Birthday at Woking Pizza Express” alibi.

Pitch generated £1.345 million in economic activity, 6,323 jobs and 39% of its winners were women. Andy did quite well, too. Pitch@Palace Global Ltd, the private company set up to run the events, had a clause in its terms and conditions about its entitlement to a 2% equity share for three years for any company that went through its program.

Other royals also are put up at Admiralty House, the GG’s other historic pad on Sydney harbour with ten bedrooms enjoying views of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge. Hosting VIPs keeps the Hurleys busy. Then there’s Linda’s staff singalongs.

And her serenades. The Guardian Australia reports Hurley wandering betwixt tables of war widows (average age 81, according to Dave), microphone in hand, leading them in song over cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches. Bit of dill with that, dearie?

“You are my sunshine” is the unofficial vice-regal national anthem – but only the chorus. The verses are a bit downbeat if you Google them. Don’t try this at home.

A staff of seventy-six don’t just run themselves and there’s travel involved in GG. All adds up. Representing HM at home and Australia overseas costs a million a year.

But the nation has to look after its investment. Hurley’s annual salary is around half a million. Of course, a governor general does get a generous pension scheme with that.

As Morrison arrives, his white BMW 7 Series Prime Ministerial limousine with AFP escort ghosting up the long drive, Dave’s lurking purposefully near the entrance to Yarralumla, a “colonial revival” pile set in what remains of an historic sheep station.

The property retains the original shearing shed atop a tumulus of a century and a half of merino droppings. A heritage overlay of decaying sheep shit is a fitting tribute to the types who led the colonial frontier wars waged by European imperial invaders on indigenous Australians in the name of the same British Crown that Governor-General Hurley represents.

The GG has his Mont Blanc Meisterstück Gold-Coated Fountain Pen uncapped, ready to sign a chit to let Morrison dissolve parliament and call a federal general election, a minefield of lies, furphies, turpitude and gratuitous character assassination which our GG can avoid entirely by express permission of the electoral commission. But he does get to look on.

A federal election campaign is a made for TV event just like Master Chef or Hard Quiz or The Melbourne Cup and corporate media regale us with the day’s political stunts.

There’s a scorecard on performance in The Herald Sun and The Daily Telegraph and The Australian as in any horse race commentary. Tallying up the pratfalls displaces any more insightful commentary on commercial TV – Buckminster Fuller’s “bubblegum for the eyes.”

Analysis of issues and policies is supplanted by spectacle and mindless Vox Pops. In a rare departure, this year, however, the Sydney Morning Herald takes Morrison to task for his broken promise over a federal ICAC. Attempting to blame Labor doesn’t pass the pub test.

Imagine if Dave Hurley were to put his mouth where his money is. Our GG, would refuse Morrison permission to hold an election. Nope, ScoMo you’ve abused the trust of the Australian people. Piss off back to Bronte and stop wasting my time.

If only. A relic of colonial rule, a GG hasn’t colluded with the judiciary and The Palace to remove a PM since Whitlam, but it pays to keep him on side and avoid bagging Pine Gap, 16 km south west of Alice Springs, the eyes and ears of the US military, since it went on line in 1969. One of its uses is to provide information to aim drones.

If there’s a moral problem with hosting an outfit which is staffed largely by employees of Boeing Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics – along with niche companies that work exclusively for the CIA and NRO, such as Leidos, Scitor and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) our government doesn’t see it. Put simply, we host companies who profit from war and enable them to collect the data they need to make war.

In fascinating technological updates the satellites have multiplied to at least thirty-eight, which have the capacity to monitor everything from your text message to Dominos to thermal evidence of Chinese hypersonic missile launches. All of this vastly increases our value as a nuclear target. It could give us leverage in a more equal relationship with the US but given our lickspittle foreign policy don’t hold your breath.

Above all, Pine Gap makes Australia complicit in war crimes. Last December, the New York Times lists over 1300 reports of civilian casualties since 2014. Many are children, in wars that the US portrays as being waged by all-seeing drones and precision bombs.

Yet, “American air wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan have been plagued by deeply flawed intelligence, rushed and often imprecise targeting, thousands of civilian deaths – with scant accountability.”

But does our GG task our PM with this problem? Nope. Dave’s famous for his saying “the standard we walk by is the standard we accept.” He’s a big fan of ethical leadership, a political oxymoron “borrowed” by David Morrison in a sermon on another unicorn, gender equality in the army. Dave M later confesses on Q&A he’s “pinched” the line.

The PM just loves Dave H and the whole vibe of the ethical leader thing, which like cleanliness, is next to godliness and getting professionally photographed at a Hillsong service, eyes wide shut. Photographed? At least one former member of the parliament has read her King James Bible,

“And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites. are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and. in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.”

“His actions conflict with his portrayal as a man of faith; he has used his so-called faith as a marketing advantage,” says senator Concetta Fieravanti-Wells.

Federal Election 2022 is to be a forty-one day endurance event, not simply in order to dazzles us with hi-viz photo-opportunities, vapid talking points, or disgruntled punters in pubs, but to buy time, a gamble given incumbents generally decline in popularity over a long campaign. Opinion polls predict a Coalition defeat, Liberal/National 34%, ALP 36%. -7% swing against the Coalition but just a 2.6% swing in favour of the ALP

Perhaps, like Mr Micawber, Morrison is hoping something will turn up. As it does. Albo doesn’t know what the cash rate is and he can’t recite the official unemployment rate.

Of course there’s outcry from the usual suspects, “Unfit to be PM,” decrees Murdoch’s top toadie, Terry McCrann in the expatriate billionaire’s Australian, while AFR, shocker, Phil Coorey gasps “A horror,” leaving Professor Judith Sloan, alone, to hype the Labor leader’s howler into his “Party’s complete misunderstanding of the jobs figures.”

Seriously? Even John Howard who failed the same gotcha in ‘07 is underwhelmed. Babies Overboard Howard bobs up in WA to spare Morrison getting the bum’s rush. Again. Abbott has Covid. Or he’d be there with (bicycle) bells on. Don’t discount a late showing.

True, the Man of Steel’s got other things on his mind like minding Ken Wyatt in Hasluck – it’s not so long ago that Joe Aston had word Kenneth might defect to Labor.

And Swan’s Kristy McSweeney is busted misquoting herself on how if you can’t tell a bloke from a sheila just walking down the street, you probably shouldn’t be aiming for Canberra.

Is that a serious question? Okay, well Anthony Albanese didn’t know the unemployment rate. So what?”

Morrison’s first gaffe is a big one. He fudges when asked whether Alan Tudge, guardian of the curriculum from the left-wing, is currently education minister – (a Tudge of class?)

His reply that Al is “technically” still in cabinet is at odds with earlier assurances that he’d resigned. Of course, this could be merely another Morrison lie, but it does seem to be a clumsy attempt to divert press from a half million payout to former staffer Rachelle Miller which fails to keep the (unconsummated) affair off the front page.

First up, Tudge claims, “we never had sex.” They were “intimate” four times; sleeping naked together but there was no funny business. Sounds very plausible.

The minister without portfolio may be inspired by Gandhi’s tales of sleeping naked with young women who also took their clothes off just to test his chastity.

With Tudge mounting such an impregnable defence, it is little wonder that Morrison has had to pivot on his earlier version of events in which the Education Minister had surrendered his portfolio for his own sake.

No point asking why Miller was paid “well over $500,000”, if nothing untoward transpired between minister and media adviser. $500,000 is the sum whispered to have been his payout when Morrison himself was sacked as head of Tourism Australia citing irreconcilable differences with boss, Fran Bailey amidst claims tendering processes were not adhered to.

As for any ministerial code violation, the non-bonking occurred before the advent of Morrison’s code. Yet Miller was promoted while in an intimate relationship with her boss. The PM is OK with that. Yet Miller wants the details released. Samantha Maiden reports that legal costs in six figures are also to be paid by the Morrison government.

“He has chosen for the sake of his health and his family for a period of time to stand aside from the ministry,” Morrison claims.

“But here’s been no other education minister sworn in, no-one went out to the Governor-General, we’re very transparent about all of that.”

Morrison is creating an issue for himself in refusing Miller’s request that he release details. Unwisely.

Moonlighting as Education Minister, albeit unsworn, is Stuart “Rolex” Robert, the PM’s prayer partner, a tricky phrase now, given recent whistle-blower revelations that senior Liberal Party figures abuse the parliamentary prayer room for congress of a baser nature.

None of the parties implicated: MP Tim Wilson, former defence minister Christopher Pyne and others, or the investigating law firm Sparke Helmore, even try to rebut the story, notes Michael West. Give it time.

More of a problem to his own side than any scandal involving rent boys plying their trade in consecrated space within the House is Mendacity Morrison’s contempt for democracy and his addiction to micromanagement.

Notorious for his pledges that never eventuate, the PM is now hated by NSW Liberals for being too “hands on”.

Former Cook MP, Stephen Mutch, a self-styled moderate who credits himself with inventing the term if not founding the group, calls Scotty a “tinpot dictator” for riding rough-shod over democratic local branch pre-selection processes, to choose his own candidates for key NSW seats. Mutch is shocked at the way the moderate minority now runs the branch.

“Over decades … I saw how the faction changed from a relatively informal group of friends with a fair degree of collective decision-making into a more formalised operation run by politicians, staffers and some party activists,” Mutch tells The Saturday Paper.

As the former moderate explains, the moderates became more high-handed, serving the personalised agendas of a few at the top. Later, the faction morphed into “a professionalised, essentially privatised operation, run by a small coterie of business lobbyists.”

Which is where we are today.

All is not lost, however. Scotty is still a useful tool to the fossil fuel lobby, an old mate of Big Mining and our media oligopoly, Rupert, Kerry and tagalong Peter along with other shonks, shills and big-shots in Australia’s oligarchy.

But just to nip it in the bud, a few of his man-servants in the PMO, big up Morrison with Bushmasters and coal, while Rio shows it hasn’t blown up all its moral high ground along with the 46,000-year-old rock shelters at Juukan Gorge, by taking over RUSAL’s twenty per cent share in QAL’s aluminium smelter, in response to Russia’s attempt to obliterate Ukraine. That’s fixed Putin’s wagon.

How good is a Morrison government which struts the world like a colossus, punching above its weight? Shirt-fronting Putin. “Keeping Australia Safe” is not just hairy-chested electioneering or the Crosby-Textor textbook stunt of creating an external threat tactic.

Nor is this self-interested opportunism by Morrison’s omnishambles of a government plumbing record lows in all the opinion polls. Throw another dead cat on the table. We are the hawks of AUKUS keepers of the sacred flame of the temple of the rules-based order to which Australia, as US deputy Marshall, is so solemnly and selflessly pledged.

Not only does ScoMo continue to wow the international community with his statesmanship, he buys seventy thousand tonnes of Whitehaven coal which the big Liberal donor can’t sell, it’s still sitting in Newcastle until a hapless crew is press ganged into taking it to Odessa, currently in range of Russian rocketry, and on to Ukraine.

True, he’s copped a few shockers recently, including that’s just the price of decisive leadership. OK he may be “a complete psycho”, a “hypocrite and a liar “a fraud” to his own team, but a clutch of Liberal women, his “crumb maidens” as Amy Remeikis calls the women who support Morrison’s patriarchy for scant reward, step forward to back up his latest claim that his high-handed intervention in NSW politics stems from his unbridled feminism and his need to step in to protect a few good women.

It’s farcical, writes The Monthly’s Rachel Withers that Morrison can claim that he stood up for women in an intervention intended to save the seats of two men and woman.

Is he all fake religion and no moral compass? Morrison simply cannot be trusted, warns Fierravanti-Wells who is dropped to an unelectable spot on the Liberal senate ticket in favour of party apparatchik, Marise Payne, in number one spot for time-serving, with another former army officer, Jim Molan, butcher of Fallujah, in at number three.

It’s already turning nasty: in second spot is Nationals’ top NSW Senate candidate, Ross Cadell, another Nat in a hat, who threatens to “drop shit” on the party’s Hunter candidate James Thomson in a public row at Warners Bay Hippo Espresso cafe 20km south of Newcastle, if Thommo does not redistribute $120,000 in donations.

You can see why Cadell has beaten the venerable, born-again John Anderson, Joyce’s mentor, a man with a Big Mining background as well as a former Nationals leader.

“While professing to be a man of faith,” the retiring senator says, sporting a huge crucifix in her bitter Goodbye To All That speech, he is “adept at running with the foxes and hunting with the hounds, lacking a moral compass and having no conscience.”

Don’t hold yourself back, Connie. (As Morrison and his team insist on belittling the former Liberal senator, much as the PM does with “Grace” and “Brittany”.)

Team Morrison rushes to point out that hell hath no fury like a NSW senator relegated on the ballot paper. Connie’s just disappointed. A pile-on of other furious colleagues ensues, including much of the NSW Liberal Party. But ScoMo, a work of performance art in progress, won’t let a few dud reviews put him off his game.

Good Friday, Morrison tells national media how Jen and the girls go to church at Easter. Albo, Tony Abbott and 5000 others also attend Sydney’s Maronite Christian Mass. Easter is a time of hope he says, while claiming on national TV, religion is such a personal thing for him.

But there’s revived interest in how the PM deposed Lebanese-Australian and Maronite Christian Michael Towke in a dirty bid for pre-selection in Cook in 2007. So Morrison chooses a service in Victoria at Syndal Baptist Church with Gladys Liu MP, who failed to disclose her links with the Chinese government before preselection in Chisholm, a marginal Liberal seat.

There were also issues with an undisclosed donation to the Liberals of $37,000, together with questions as to how exactly the MP raised a million dollars for the party.

But Easter is a time of hope. No doubt Dave gives Scott a few pointers on the PM’s integrity commission model. Its architect, former Attorney-General, Christian Porter resigned over an anonymous donation or blind trust he’d accepted to pay his legal fees in a defamation case against ABC investigative journalist, Louise Milligan, a case he abandoned.

Ethical leadership is costly. The PM spends big money to get his own way in a high stakes poker game which goes right to the High Court over whether he can override local branches’ preferences in Liberal preselection in NSW. Chief Justice, Susan Kiefel says he can.

Not that Morrison gives a toss. It’s our money he’s spending. Has there ever been a bigger spending, higher taxing government? But the political cost of alienating so many NSW Liberals is huge. It’s already undone him in Warringah where his transphobic captain’s pick, Katharine Deves, proves a dud, with her social media post about “surgical mutilation”.

Having the arrogance to believe you know best and bypassing the local democratic process (with a bit of help from Premier Perrottet) leads to a poor choice?

Who’d have known?

Anti-trans activism could derail the Coalition’s election campaign. It triggers a pivot. Morrison backflips on his plan to dog whistle prejudice, intolerance and ignorance. He withdraws his support from Tassie Senator Claire Chandler’s bill banning transgender women from playing women’s sports, after he cops flak from Liberal “moderates” and independents.

Incredibly, the PM lies about why he pulls rank on NSW pre-selectors. The “menacing controlling wall-paper”, as former Liberal MP Julia Banks calls him, pretends to ABC 7:30 he’s a knight in shining armour rescuing women from “factions” whom he leaves unnamed, as if he’s just being protective; one of his most outrageous lies to date.

“Sussan Ley, one of my finest cabinet ministers and one of our most successful women members of parliament, was under threat. She was under threat from factions within the Liberal Party and I decided to stand up to it,” Morrison says.

“I’m very serious about having great women in my ranks…Fiona Martin was another.”

But Julia Banks tells a different story. “It was the three months of Morrison’s leadership that … was definitely the most gut-wrenching, distressing period of my entire career.”

Morrison an advocate for women? It’s risible and – as The Monthly’s Rachel Withers notes, it’s insulting to women.

“The claim is laughable. If there’s anyone Morrison was trying to save it was factional consigliore Alex Hawke in the seat of Mitchell, and his overarching aim was to maintain control of the numbers in the party. At the end of the day, the only person Scott Morrison truly stands up for is Scott Morrison.”


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The First Casualty

If truth is the first casualty of war, it is also under constant attack in the Morrison-Joyce regime’s love-in with spin enabled by Murdoch and a media oligarchy who help the Coalition demonise China and Russia, “shape the narrative” of foreign affairs, to distract us from its terminal, internal disunity and its own catastrophic incompetence.

Emperor Morrison has no clothes, Paul Bongiorno says. And his policy cupboard is bare. Since Malcolm Fraser, our foreign policy has become “narrower, more inward-looking and mean” warns former ambassador to China, Geoff Raby, in his Fraser Oration in Melbourne recently. Abandoning those who helped us in Afghanistan is a serious lack of moral leadership.

And empathy. If Ukrainians apply to come here, they will “go to the top of the pile”, Morrison beams ABC listeners a warm and fuzzy vibe without a skerrick of commitment.

Raby could also add insincerity, hypocrisy and venality, also superbly illustrated in its current rhetoric denouncing Putin, but keeping our $0.5bn trade with Russia in alumina and $100m live sheep under the table – lest our own party donor oligarchy take offence.

Denouncing Putin as a bully is ironic, tokenistic and is not backed up by real action such as targeting elites enabling Putin. Russian diplomats could be expelled, tourism could be halted except for those with humanitarian visas. We could cease importing Russian oil and fertiliser and send home the thousand or so Russians who are studying here.

Above all there could be honesty, accuracy and independence in our government’s depiction of the situation in Ukraine, a state whose pro-western government was installed in 2014 by a US-backed coup.

US influence continued in 2019 with the election of former comedian and actor in a popular TV series, Servant of the People, who played the part of a teacher fed up with corrupt politicians who accidentally became president, 44-year-old Volodymyr Zelenskiy, promised peace with Russia but quickly got a phone call, July 25, 2019, from then President of the USA, Donald Trump. Trump wanted a political favour and was prepared to suspend US aid to Ukraine.

$400 million in military aid for Ukraine already approved by the U.S. Congress, was put briefly on hold by Trump who urged Zelenskiy to investigate the son of a political opponent, Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Republican senators say that the funds were held up while the US checked whether the new candidate was pro-Western or pro-Russian. A month later, Trump released the funds, but his attempt to pressure Ukraine’s new president became the subject of a US Senate impeachment inquiry, September 24 2019, which failed on party lines. alleging disloyalty, Trump turned on senior officials. Lieut. Col. Alexander Vindman, Ukraine expert on the National Security Council, was fired, and the post of U.S. ambassador to Ukraine stayed vacant beyond the end of Trump’s term.

We can oppose the Putin government’s horrific invasion without capitulating to the prevailing MSM narrative of virtuous western democracy versus Russian tyranny. Caricatures of evil Putin merely recycle US propaganda. We deserve better. Refugees everywhere deserve better.

It takes neither courage, nor leadership, notes Raby, “to stoke fear of the other, to set the community on edge, to find threats and enemies at every turn”.

What Raby doesn’t say – or can’t -in a formal encomium – is that whilst Fraser may have (unsuccessfully) called for a sporting boycott of the Moscow Olympics, when the USSR invaded Afghanistan in 1980, yet he wouldn’t block our export of wool to the USSR, including wool from his own farm, nor would he join Carter’s wheat export embargo.

Boasting about its defence spending, however, simply draws attention to the Coalition’s submarine debacle, the scuttling of a contract in favour of a promise of nuclear subs we can neither service nor crew, via AUKUS, another acronym to embellish buying obsolete US ships and planes. We are now ludicrously ill-prepared. As Rex Patrick notes, the new subs will be beaut when we get them in 2040 – if they arrive with a time machine.

Ambushed by his own impotence in almost every arena, Morrison’s latest setback occurs at 10:00 pm Friday, when the PM is thwarted by Supreme Court Justice, Julie Ward, who rules against the legality of his cunning plan to declare the NSW branch of the Liberal Party in breach of its constitution, because it has not yet held an annual general meeting.

It will be harder now for him to draft his own servile candidates, Trent Zimmerman, Alex Hawke and Sussan Ley, instead of fussing with the fol-de-rol of a democratic plebiscite, an Abbott innovation. Or risking losing key toadies in the only battle Morrison is committed to, the fight to keep himself in the top job. And how good are yes-men and women?

Friday’s outcome is bad for the PM’s increasingly tenuous grip on his leadership. NSW is revolting. Niki Savva reveals insider tips that senior NSW Liberals threaten to “bring the show down” if there is intervention in the state branch, or if Morrison attempts to impose his candidates without letting members vote in pre-selections, given his stooges are said to have stalled procedures to get their own way.

Whilst the federal party can still overrule the NSW Liberals’ branch executive, Morrison spent much of his party’s federal executive meeting last week – called to resolve the NSW preselection fiasco – “yelling and thumping the table” to get his way, while reminding colleagues that he was the PM, Ms Savva reports.

Perhaps like Nikita Khrushchev, in the 1960 UN General Assembly, he could take off a shoe to hammer home his waning authority. Or read the room.

On the Sino-Russian Fronts, our lucky country is vastly cheered to hear our top bully say he will stand up to bullies, (keeping Xi in his sights as well as Putin). Thursday, he uses “bully” or a variation twenty times in two hours, notes The Monthly’s Rachel Withers.

“This is about an autocratic, authoritarian government that is seeking to bully others,” he tells Sunrise. “There are consequences for this threatening and bullying and aggressive behaviour,” he claims on Today. But so far, our sanctions look lame.

Reviled by his own party’s rump, the PM uses Putin’s invasion of the parts of Ukraine which are not already under Russian control to pose as a strongman who might shirtfront Vlad, as Tony Abbott failed to do, (he left it to Julie Bishop) but – as in When Harry met Sally, he’s having what Boris is having but without Johnson’s hint of military intervention. Has the man with the toddler haircut learned nothing from Afghanistan?

Our sanctions mirror the UK’s heavy breathing against some oligarchs and banks but at least Morrison is refreshingly upbeat, upfront and insightful about their impotence.

“I don’t necessarily expect it to deter an authoritarian, autocratic leader .. intent on taking [the] opportunity to pursue their own interests by violating another country’s sovereignty,” he says. Nor will the sanctions take effect until late March.

While tales of Vlad the Impaler of Ukraine add a Gothic touch to Liberal fearmongering, China is the federal government’s arch nemesis. Not only will China buy wheat to help Putin’s war against neo-Nazism and genocide in Donbas, in The Shining, the PM turns to horror and science fiction to lure us into a sense of insecurity. It’s a spooky story.

A ghastly green shaft of laser light reveals the underbelly of an elderly Poseidon RAAF P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft, spy plane, a converted Boeing 737-800, burning 3409 litres of fuel an hour. Over its life-span, it will spew a million tonnes of CO2 into our global greenhouse gas trap, cooking the planet; causing freak weather disasters.

While our fourteen P-8As and, indeed, our entire navy are but a drop in the ocean, tragically, given all the other nations burning fossil fuels and polluting in the name of keeping us safe, it all adds up. “If the US military were a country, its fuel usage alone would make it the 47th largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world.” report researchers in the UK.

Then there’s China’s vast war machine. Beijing rules the waves. And waives the rules. Or the rules-based order fantasy, US neocon cowboys expect of everyone but themselves. Marise Payne recites the phrase to chide Vlad, the bad actor on the world stage, but she never explains what it means. China is too big to have to explain itself.

Put to sea anywhere and you’re bound to see a PLA-N ship or two. China will have 420 ships in 2025 and 460 in 2030, according to the US Congressional Research Service.

But it’s not just the pollution taking place in the name of being tough on national security. So wedded is the world to hydrocarbon burning armies, navies and air forces that any serious attempt to curb fossil fuel usage faces stiff military opposition.

Yet to former party apparatchik, ScoMo, the glad-handed former tourism salesman, a man who reveres Trump, a fabulist who is more a fan of Captain Kirk than Cook, as Guy Rundle wryly notes – a PM facing a re-election while fighting a war to get the NSW candidates he wants, the story is all big bully China picking on plucky little Australia.

It’s bizarre if not surreal. A sailor on a ship owned by our largest trading partner fires a shot across the bows of our starship, by shining a laser at one of our spy planes?

Being a strong “middle power” doesn’t come cheap. We now have fourteen Poseidons at Edinburgh base in SA. Apart from being environmental hazards, they are expensive to fuel. Each takes 34 tonnes of Jet A1, currently priced at US$871.40 per tonne, or US$29627.60 a full refuel. Putin’s putsch can only increase the cost of a top-up.

Boosting CO2 is only one way that the military makes our world a safer place, a mission statement seldom far from our federal government’s epic self promotion. Today’s commercial Boeings will exude a million tonnes of CO2 over their twenty-year plus working life-span. Organophosphate esters (OPEs) are not just the mainstay of pesticides, they are sprayed out in unburned jet engine lubrication oil – a big part of aircraft emissions. And they don’t dissipate, they accumulate over time.

Other costs are huge, such as depreciation over the P-8A’s twenty year life span; a new plane sets you back US $1,6 billion. Without them we’d have to use drones to spot refugees in leaky boats as well as spooking sailors with lasers all the way from China. Most prudent refugees and asylum-seekers, of course, pay for their own air tickets.

In the meantime, the cost of boat-stopper Morrison’s fleet is top secret because it’s on an on-water matter. And there are forty-six government agencies involved. Or as the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre notes, “transparency in budget reporting of related expenditures has deteriorated further. Published costs and arrival numbers are extremely limited and available information does not add up.”

Yet profligacy is a badge of honour when it comes to military spending. Tony Abbott’s completely arbitrary stipulation, in 2012, that two percent of GDP be spent on Defence was just a cudgel to beat Gillard’s Labor crew which it accused of the lowest defence spending since 1938. None of this made sense then. Nor does it make sense now.

But the canard is resurrected by Morrison who is desperate to paint Labor as being weak on national security. The lie gets stronger by repetition. An ABC’s Insiders’s panel nods sagely when the furphy of Labor’s under-spending on defence is regurgitated as established fact. Yet reason and empiricism have never been the Coalition’s strong suit and this campaign begins with another shrill, baseless slandering.

It’s boosted by a manufactured incident about China’s aggression towards one of our spy planes, a charge based largely on lies and wilful disinformation. And a single laser.

All hell breaks loose amidst the feral roos and the asylum of loons in the nation’s Top Paddock over our Poseidon misadventure. Canberra rants fit to pop its bubble wrap. The ADF, on standby for senior services in the federal government’s criminal neglect of our elders held captive in gulags, cloaked in NewSpeak as aged-care residential facilities, claim the lasering is akin to firing a missile. Everybody knows that before you shoot down any aircraft, you bathe it in laser-light.

Laser pointing could be “separated from firing a missile with hostile intent by a mere split second” ANU’s John Blaxland, a professor in international security, intelligence and freelance warmonger, helps the federal government fear campaign by noting China was flashing our chopper pilots in 2018, a topic on which Dr Graham is a world expert.

Dr Euan Graham, a hot-shot in maritime security at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, is sure the laser is a flash on a bridge too far.

“…this act has crossed a red line in terms of what Australia considers normal or acceptable and it’s decided to name and shame accordingly”. It’s “an extremely serious incident” that risks “injury or worse”.

Worse? Imagine the Chinese crew when the Poseidon retaliates. The Australian reports, “Defence confirms a RAAF P-8A maritime patrol aircraft dropped anti-submarine sonar buoys around two Chinese warships in the Arafura Sea last week to check for “subsurface contacts”.

Only after China’s Defence Ministry releases, via The Global Times, the voice of the Chinese government, an image of an orange buoy, do the Morrison government’s accusations abate.

The Poseidon’s patrolling the Arafura Sea between the NT and Papua, spying on a brace of Chinese ships, a Peoples’ Liberation Army’s Navy (PLA-N) Luyang-class destroyer and its comrade in arms, a Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock, two of 355 vessels – and counting – in the biggest navy in the world, as they steam east across Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone, (EEZ), a kleptocratic, grab for vast resources.

Dangerous? Our spy-plane is four kilometres away when it is lit up by China’s laser sighting. Almost. A Chinese matelot points a laser at an Australian spy plane? Outrageous. Defence Minister and childcare millionaire Peter Dutton and current PM Scott Morrison, go off like a frog in a sock; or two bullfrogs vying for the same slimy rock atop a toxic swamp.

Dutton packages the act for the few still watching Sky News in vain hope that it will improve. It’s “aggressive bullying” which can cause “the blindness of the crew, … damage of equipment,” Dutton bullshits in that contemptuous-of-his-audience’s intelligence, free-wheeling, fact-free way that is the Morrison government’s communications’ signature.

Spud is spitting chips. And Our Prime Minstrel is fit to kill. If his murdering of a Dragon hit doesn’t do it, he will gong someone with his ukulele. He takes time out of his hard-hatting cosplay. Gives himself a flash from a welder when he lifts his auto-darkening visor but you can tell he’s not just some dork from central casting or a party apparatchik who’s never had a real job. Sunday we see images of him in a chopper over a flooded Brisbane River. Climate change is conspicuously absent from the commentary.

“I can see it no other way than an act of intimidation, one that was unprovoked, unwarranted,” Morrison huffs and puffs, Media mavens helpfully spin one laser into “lasers” plural. Suddenly they become “military-grade”. Is this our own Gulf of Tonkin incident, the pretext for the US military’s illegal incursion into Vietnam in 1964?

“Australia will never accept such acts … It was a reckless and irresponsible act and it should not occur. We are raising those issues directly through the diplomatic and defence channels.”

Laser-gate provokes cries of outrage from our tough on national security border bouncers ScoMo and his rival Dutton, in an incident that evokes John Howard’s 2003 Babies Overboard lie, an excuse for demonising boat people to win votes.

In reply to what the PM pretends are representations to Beijing through all official channels, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Wang Wenbin, eventually accuses Australia of maliciously spreading disinformation, Tuesday. Lasers are part of modern range-finders, found on ships in navies all over the globe, including our own. He’s right.

In 2018 SAAB proudly announced that it will supply all twenty-five patrol boats once known as Armidale but soon to be re-named Arafura class with its state of the art lasers. “The Vidar advanced laser rangefinder … designed primarily for anti-aircraft operations as an integral part of a weapon system or surveillance system.”

Such rangefinders use a laser beam to measure the distance to the target.

But those who recall Dutts’ insistence, early in 2018, that Victorians were terrified of going out to eat because Melbourne was overrun with African gangs, which would follow diners home from restaurants, will understand that Morrison’s government, like that of Boris Johnson, or his mentor Trump, never lets fact get in the way of a fear campaign.

A priceless 11 million square kilometres of ocean, our EEZ contains oil and gas fields, and shipping lanes. And creatures of the deep. The destroyer is in the Arafura Sea, one of the world’s richest fisheries, between the NT and Papua, on its way through the Torres Strait at the top end of Down Under, to a spot in the Coral Sea off the Queensland coast to watch our naval exercises.

It’s almost as entertaining as our Tongan volcano relief show. Our navy’s pride of the fleet, HMAS Adelaide runs out of power just at the moment when we’re keen to be seen as Tonga’s rich and powerful friend. China seems to have no such problems when two vessels turn up a week or so later bearing a cargo of aid.

What the skippers and their crews don’t realise is that they are cruising for a bruising. First, there’s the Morrison election campaign’s war of words; bagging China, bully-shaming Putin, and high-fiving Biden, as befits our role as US imperialist running dogs, a cringe-worthy toadying to Washington that earns us Beijing’s enmity, costs us dearly in trade and lowers our credibility in any international forum, let alone in the White House or the Pentagon.

What it means to our relationship with Russia is less certain, but Murdoch media is keen to warn us that as “allies of Ukraine ” we face a crippling wave of cyber warfare.

This line of thought is quickly soft-pedalled. Perhaps advisers fear it might invite attacks. We mustn’t poke the bear too much. No-one mentions our trade surplus with Russia, although Crikey’s Bernard Keane notes that if Morrison had the ticker, he’d stop supplying Moscow with alumina and seize RUSAL’s twenty percent share in QAL, Rio Tinto’s Queensland alumina plant. They can take it. We could also halt our $100 million live animal exports.

World’s third-largest aluminium producer, Rusal, posted a profit of $2 billion in the first half of last year’s trading. World aluminium prices rose by thirty percent per tonne in the same period.

But seizing RUSAL’s share in QAL could cost votes in rural seats and upset key party donors. And the Nationals love to pretend that the live sheep trade is worth a fortune, when it’s a dead loss – Pegasus Economics calculates that stopping the trade would cost $9 million a year for WA farmers. But it could also lead to 350 jobs at West Australian sheep-meat processors. Cruelty to animals intrinsic to the trade would cease.

Whatever happens, Putin’s Russia is cosying up to fellow extortionists oil producer Saudi Arabia, another despotic regime which likes to kill its critics when they are in other countries. They have us over a barrel – and they know it. The pair will help push up the price of fuel and inflate the cost of everything, a way of hastening a global economic recession, already imminent if the overheated stock market is any indication.

More troubling is Dutton’s cheapjack sabre-rattling and the Coalition’s war on Labor, whom the three arch-rivals, Frydenberg, Dutton and Morrison, claim is joined at the hip with Beijing, weak on national security and unworthy of a vote in May or whenever an election is called.

Dutton politicises ASIO, a move which top spook Mike Burgess says is unhelpful. The Defence Minister claims the Chinese government had picked Albanese “as their candidate”. Worse, he says he bases Thursday’s inflammatory allegation – ruled by the Speaker to be out of order – on “open source and other intelligence”.

By Friday, after a top performance, the day before, from the PM in which Russia is denounced as a bully, the Morrison government’s talking-points revert to China because it’s harder to wedge Labor by railing against Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

China’s villainy increases when it offers to buy Russia’s wheat, a deal denounced by government spin as a “lifeline” to Putin, virtually enabling Russia to run amok in Ukraine.

Under parliamentary privilege, Morrison dubs Richard Marles the “Manchurian Candidate”, a droll jibe, he withdraws, after the damage is done. Albanese, he jeers, is the nag China is backing. David Speers on ABC Insiders tries to get Penny Wong to look weak on bullies.

In reality, Labor is in lock-step with the Coalition.

Why be a big target on hot-button issues? Expect Russia to revert to its historical hegemony. The West helped it follow a traditional path – when the USSR’s communism, a state capitalism melted under Boris Yeltsin’s charms.

Yeltsin helped the new boyars – robber barons amass fabulous power, presiding over a crony capitalism which would make our own “can-do” capitalists blush. A few dodgy oligarchs became rich beyond belief while most of the population were driven into poverty.

To close observers of inequality in Australia and Little Britain these are familiar trends.

Yeltsin’s “shock therapy” economic reforms, masterminded by Anatoly Chubais and supported by Washington in the early 90s, were radical, causing a collapse in living standards” which helped Putin to impose his strong man act as the only solution.

Following the debacle of defeat at the hands of his own party, over his religious bigotry bill- a stunt to wedge Labor, which ends up wedging only his own backbench, blind rage grips our ukulele-packing paterfamilias, Bunnings’ influencer and default PM. ScoMo can live with being called an absolute arsehole, and a menacing wallpaper.

Old news. Besides, insults are a badge of honour to any malignant narcissist. But it hurts to hear his team now call him a fraud, a hypocrite, a liar, a horrible, horrible person in a new series of leaked SMS.

And as for “psycho”, that’s rich coming from any member of a party who assents to (and enables) the indefinite detention of children, deporting Kiwis caught jaywalking and any refugee who arrives by boat. Not to mention his obsession with secrecy. Besides, who doesn’t beg the producer to let you play the first verse of Dragon’s take me to the April Sun in Cuba in your own mockumentary, Meet the Morrisons?

Observant viewers with the stomach to sit through the ScoMo propaganda segment of Nine’s 60 Minutes, ScoMo-ProMo note that neither resident grandmother is present at the family curry. Aged care is so politically sensitive these days. ScoMo’s mother and mother-in-law are probably watching cricket. Eating KFC.

But it’s enough to make you choke on your chicken tikka. Not only is he publicly pilloried by anonymous assailants from his own cabinet, ScMo’s impotent. The PM, clearly, has less control over his party than over his ukulele. Things turn ugly.

Now five MPs have crossed the House of Reps floor, he’s lost control of the Senate and even Murdoch’s suggesting he’s toast, Morrison has blood-lust Dutton and “NFI” Frydenberg, all over his “comms” unit these days, like flies on an outback dunny.

Too cute for words, these two smell the death of a salesman. They’re jockeying to depose Morrison, a dead man moon-walking-even as opposition leader after May.

(His attack on Albo, the small-target, Opposition Leader coincides with The Lantern Festival and other celebrations of the Chinese lunar new year, The Year of The Tiger.)

Complicating matters is a report from Karen Middleton that “key Liberals” are plotting to block Dutton before he cherry-picks the leader’s job for himself. Ms Middleton regales Saturday Paper readers with the hilarious scenario of several feckless and ineffectual Morrison muppets brokering what is described as a Left-Right deal between “Dutts” as he is known and the “Kooyong Dolt”, as Joe Aston calls the feckless feather-brained Treasurer, to prevent a coup by the current Minister for Defence.

Should Dutts take revenge on “Bonkers” Morrison, the incumbent psycho, all hell would break loose. Even with the $16bn which trusty Frydo stashes in a brown paper bag at his PM’s request in order to buy victory with pandemic relief handouts or tax-rebates or some other grubby scheme to court the majority who don’t follow politics with an appeal to self-interest.

Hence the recent bottom-feeding frenzy in Question Time. Morrison slanders Albo to get below Dutton in the gutter.

“Bonkers” Morrison howls the house down in question time; accusing Antony Albanese of being weak on national security, a cheap stunt from the Crosby-Textor playbook, while throwing a dead cat the size of China, on the national table, as Bernard Keane puts it.

Now that five MPs defy him to vote down his signature legislation, his impotence as leader is revealed and he must muscle-up to compensate. What could possibly go wrong?

Shout? You can hear him in Beijing. Or Kharkiv.

No-one will ever teach Morrison that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt. Not that he cares just how awful he is with his harangue of the Opposition Leader for “being a small target” “or just small”?

But it won’t be his reducing of Question Time to howling abuse, that decides this election, nor will it be his despicable treatment of women, particularly his office backgrounding against Brittany Higgins and Grace Tame, although that could play a big part.

It is unlikely that any of Morrison’s chest-beating posturing on foreign affairs, reciting US talking points, will convince anyone that a PM who can’t control his own party is a strong man who will keep the nation safe. Nor will the happy family man fantasy even begin to atone for the leaked texts which reveal how much he is reviled by his party including his deputy PM.

The decider could be the sixteen billion dollar election war chest. Unless, of course, voters worry where the money’s coming from. Or have relatives in aged care. Or have a disability or care for someone who has. Or the PM puts his money where his mouth is and funds refugee to flee Ukraine, in the humanitarian crisis that is already on its way.


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Morrison’s Coup De Grâce

“Human beings are social beings, who need to be able to rely on each other. That requires trust, and trust requires truth-telling.” (Quassim Cassam).

Grace Tame looks daggers as the PM fakes cordiality and avuncular affability for the camera. A black belt in subterfuge, deception and betrayal, ScoMo™ has also mastered the dark political art of baring his top teeth whilst feigning conviviality, positively radiating goodwill and patent insincerity. His office invites 2022 finalists for Australian of the Year for a cup of tea and photo opportunity at The Lodge, his Canberra pad – on occasions when his main place of residence Kirribilli doesn’t suit.

It also sets ScoMo™ up to pretend to Brisbane 4BC, later, that Ms Tame’s an ingrate who’s abused his hospitality whilst he and Jen have invited her into their own home. A farrago of lies of course. Passive-aggressive and patronising, he diminishes and demeans her.

“Grace is a passionate person who’s raised important issues. She’s had a terrible life ordeal, you know, things happen to her, her ordeals, the abuse. It’s just awful.”

Back at the Lodge, Morrison’s toothy rictus evokes the look he had for press gallery cameras just before he knifed Malcolm Turnbull in August 2018, declaring “this is my leader and I’m ambitious for him.”

With no policy achievements and a catastrophic failure to protect us from the pandemic, The Coalition knows the election campaign must be a horse race between ScoMo™ and Albo. Of course, as Paul Bongiorno warns, the Coalition may hold the half senate election in May as it is obliged to. Leave the lower house until September. Punt on the pandemic receding. But odds are long.

For now, it’s character. Whom do you prefer? And therein lies the problem. As Laura Tingle implies, whilst Murdoch’s claque is busy with the myth that we don’t know who Albo is, Faux-Mo’s problem, as a public figure made entirely of smirk and mirrors, is that we do know who he is.

Tame’s face, moreover, evokes some of the ways we know, notes Laura Tingle:

“… other unfortunate handshaking incidents during the bushfires; the excruciating moment when banking royal commissioner Justice Kenneth Hayne refused to be part of Josh Frydenberg’s photo opportunity by shaking hands and smiling with him; the widely circulated photo of Scott Morrison looking at his phone in the Parliament, having turned his back on Labor’s Tanya Plibersek as she addressed him across the chamber.”

There are many others. It’s Cobargo 2.0. Cue the NSW south coast, destroyed by freak bushfire fanned by his government’s policies of climate change denial. Local mother, Zoey asks questions only to have the PM turn his back and walk away from her in early January 2020.

“I have lost everything I own,” Zoey says in a social media post, with footage of the destruction. “My house is burnt to the ground and the prime minister turned his back on me.”

Given his government treats women as second-class citizens and worse, Ms Tame is in no frame of mind to be called into Morrison’s shonky photo-op. Be compromised. She’s brave. On cue, boys’ club commentators and big swinging dick club apologists, rush to attack her display of integrity.

“Sourpuss” sneers Miranda Devine. The News Limited flack, currently based in New York, accuses “Graceless” Tame of “ignorance, petulance” and “churlishness”. And a great deal more.

Morrison is “a leader of a middle power”, Devine ventures, as well as “our elected representative” who is owed respect for his high office alone, a gibe based on a lie about how we choose our PM, whilst she claims a former Australian of the Year (AOTY) is just an ambassador for a specific cause.

The “historic” Lodge also is defiled in Devine’s view. Sacrilege? Clearly, in the next phase of Murdoch’s Americanisation of our politics, it will be sacred. Our White House. A sacred shrine.

Devine’s rant in The Daily Telegraph, also trashes AOTY in a swinging denunciation, a hatchet job worthy of a PMO in full campaign mode. She dog-whistles culture warriors and the hard right.

“The AOTY is rarely representative of the Australian people but instead caters to a tiny base of Twitter brokens obsessed with prosecuting boutique ideological issues borrowed from overseas, usually to do with identity politics, “existential” climate alarm, the evil patriarchy, “toxic masculinity” and “systemic” racism.

Even if the AOTY were to start off as a normal person, by the end of their year in the spotlight they will have been thoroughly shaped into a left-wing activist by the media.”

“Ungracious”, Professor Peter Van Onselen also puns on her name, “rude” and “childish”. James McGrath, dropped in 2008 from Team BoJo for his comments in The Spectator calling African-Caribbean immigrants, “picaninnies” weighs in with “partisan, political and childish.”

There’s much more in this vein but a wave of approval far outweighs the sexist carping and character assassination, rejects Devine’s grotesque exaltation of our least trustworthy PM into an iconic national leader. Devine claims that to snub ScoMo is to insult the Australian people.

Most observers applaud Tame’s integrity. And how would Murdoch’s partisan hacks know what integrity looks like? ScoMo represents everything Ms Tame opposes. Such a pile-on, does, however, suggest a PMO aware that Tame is a major threat to their campaign to re-elect Morrison. A shonky product, which never really passed the sniff test, now smells well past its use-by date.

Perhaps Tame recalls ScoMo™’s office leaking against Brittany Higgins’ partner, David Sharaz. Or Chief of Staff John Kunkel’s “review” that found he was “not in a position to make a finding that the alleged activity took place”. (Sue Gray, take note for your Boris’ knees-up report.)

A helpless young woman is allegedly raped near his office, but the PM doesn’t know, let alone take any responsibility. God forefend he owes any duty of care. Or honesty.

But Morrison’s lies are world-renowned, largely thanks to Emmanuel Macron, and, for him, everything is someone else’s responsibility.

Almost. He’s a dab hand at captain’s calls and gratuitous cruelty. His appointing Amanda Stoker as Marise Payne’s underling, assistant Minister for Women to an invisible Minister for Women looks like an act of sadistic revenge.

The Queensland senator supported a “fake rape crisis tour” that inflicted great suffering on survivors, such as Ms Tame.

Or is it his failure to provide a safe workplace? Tame may have had in mind, Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Kate Jenkins’ finding that sexual harassment and assault were so pervasive in Parliament with its toxic workplace culture that, “women told us they felt ‘lucky’ if they had not directly experienced sexual harassment and assault.”

Who’d want to shake the hand of a PM who pats women on the head and tells the nation “we are dealing with this as no other government has done before”?

Saying “she’s had a terrible life” is the most condescending, ignorant & utterly disempowering comment to make about Grace Tame.

Grace’s whole message is that as survivors, we are not defined by our experiences of sexual violence,” tweets Nina Funnell who worked with Grace Tame on her original campaign #LetHerSpeak,

ScoMo’s government’s record is of evasion, inaction, lies and leaking against victims and their families. Contempt is only part of its orchestrated disempowerment of women.

Dealing with? Jenkins, in a separate process, recommends imposing a duty of care on employers to stamp out sexual harassment – only to have this rejected by the Morrison government.

Senator Jenny McAllister reminds us that, in 2013, Tony Abbott appointed himself Minister for Women. Eight years later, the contempt continues. ScoMo says women who march on parliament to publicly call for justice, equality and safety are lucky not to be shot. He snubs them anyway.

“This is a vibrant liberal democracy, Mr Speaker, not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not here in this country, Mr Speaker,” Morrison says to boos, jeers and looks of total incredulity.

Why should Ms Tame, a passionate advocate for victims of sexual violence compromise everything she stands for by being a prop in the PM’s propaganda photo? Even in his words to those invited to the Lodge, ScoMo acknowledges Tame’s engagement to her fiancé, Max Heerey, not her work.

As with his struggle to understand that rape is a crime, ScoMo might need his Jen to clarify his slight – on all women. He’ll have plenty of time after May. Or September, should he take the punt.

Labor’s Jenny McAllister does acknowledge Grace Tame’s work, “together with other survivor advocates, she has driven a lasting national conversation about the treatment of women, and the prevalence of physical, emotional and sexual violence against women and children.”

It’s the eve of Invasion Day or ‘Straya Day as Morrison’s Ocker avatar outside The Lodge would have it. ScoMo’s™ moved on, prompted by focus groups. Sixty per cent of Australians support a change of date, according to a Guardian Essential Poll, taken a few days ago. Meanwhile, his commentary shifts to that of some didactic voiceover to a whitewashing of war and dispossession.

“A story,” he pens for Nine’s claque, mustering his typical fog of abstraction, cluttered with buzzwords and double-speak, “of strength and resilience that spans 65,000 years, of a continent that we love and contend with, and of a free and fair people who live in relative harmony.”

“Remarkable” would have been better than “relative”. And speaking of relatives, Morrison’s great-great-aunt, utopian socialist, poet and former Paraguayan commune member (in 1896), Mary Gilmore, a Dame who wrote for a communist newspaper, would turn in her grave.

Yet only his pet rag, The Daily Telegraph, runs the line that “the arrival in Australia of the First Fleet in 1788 was the initial step towards multiculturalism.” Shades of Tony Abbott’s defining moment.

Grace Tame’s “side-eye” defines our times. Why collude in a photo-op to normalise our criminally, negligent MPs with their hands in the till or doing favours for rich mates? Why approve of skiving off to Hawaii, padding travel allowances or taking a few days off to watch the cricket. Sam Maiden reports Tim Wilson Liberal MP Tim Wilson leaves Victoria for 95 nights, charging taxpayers $37k.

A vibrant liberal democracy does not normalise corruption while it disenfranchises women, the aged, the poor and first nations. It is not a regime of coercive control by old white men that opposes constitutional recognition of first peoples and rejects The Uluru Statement from the Heart.

A voice to parliament enshrined in the Constitution is not only long overdue, it would also enable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to provide advice to the Parliament on policies and projects that impact their lives. Instead, ScoMo™ & Co. come up with a co-design report. What does it do? It sets up further consultations to establish regional and local voices.

“The only thing the government has managed to achieve is more delays and more processes. What the government is proposing gives the Voice no security. They even banned their co-design committee from speaking about constitutional recognition,” Shadow Minister for Indigenous Australians, Linda Burney calls out the time-wasting duplicity inherent in the process.

Why help normalise a clown? The PM’s “vibrant liberal democracy” allows Clive Palmer to boast he’ll outspend his $93m last election, lying about Labor’s policies. Paul Bongiorno reports Labor strategists who call out Australia’s Clown Prince of Politics for what he is – a way of extending the Liberals’ media campaign budget, which, scandalously, remains uncapped.

“He’s a Liberal and will shovel votes back to them at the end of the day.”

Bongiorno is outraged:

“…the government has done nothing to contain the obscenity of a billionaire being able to distort the democratic political contest in such a blatant way.”

Australia’s reputation for corruption is at its lowest level since ratings began in 1995, reports Transparency International. Morrison’s Covid Commission is a sterling example. A mob assembled by the PM, ostensibly for Covid crisis management turns out to be a gas industry support group.

The scandal of our RATs instant millionaires is another.

Pandemic rages, with at least ninety-eight deaths, Friday, as a government, “getting out of peoples’ lives,” stops sitting on its hands only to point the finger of blame.

Omicron spreads to more than 700 aged-care homes, Rachel Withers reports for The Monthly. Staff struggle to cope in over half of all facilities in NSW. A grieving daughter tells SBS News that her father died of COVID-19 alone in his locked-down aged-care home, while waiting for an overdue booster shot, on the day after Aged Care Minister Colbeck takes three days off to watch a cricket game. Morrison defends Colbeck by telling us we don’t know how hard the Minister works.

Lives have been lost but Colbeck will “take this on the chin,” he adds obliquely. Accountability is not part of his vocabulary. An incompetent spared, ScoMo hopes is a future ally; bound to him in gratitude.

Students will return to school so parents can get back to work. Teachers are put at risk and their value impugned by being seen solely as babysitters in a post-industrial society. And expendable. Vulnerable retired teachers and inexperienced graduates are said to be ready to fill the gaps.

It’s an era of personal responsibility, ScoMo and Perrottet claim. But just try to buy a RAT. Unless you happen to be Motion One, a firm run out of a two-roomed apartment in Sydney’s Elizabeth Bay where Pilates franchise CEO, Austyn Campbell secures a $26 million contract to import RATs.

She flogs them online for $12.50. Identical tests are purchased by importers and sold to Australian retailers for as little as $5 per unit.

A former Liberal Party “digital strategist”, Campbell runs a communications firm, Agenda C, with Parnell Palme McGuiness, another lucky punter who’s also done work for the Liberal Party.

Also doing nicely is Julie Bishop’s beau, David Panton, formerly an all-night chemist in Mornington, Victoria, who with his daughters runs Pantonic, a pharmaceutical supply company. Tests start at $11.

Will it be a RAT-led economic recovery? An overvalued stock market totters, tech stocks shedding value first – Barnaby fan, Georgina Hope Rinehart gets a gong for services to mining, community and sport, just before she’s declared an Olympic sponsor.

Hang on. Help is on its way from BoJo.

So touching to discover that the mother country still loves her delinquent ex-colony. Or not so ex.

Thank God, Queen and her palace that John Kerr, her GG could keep the con in our constitutional monarchy as we were weaning ourselves off the breast of empire, onto a neo-colonial formula.

Our co-dependence helps us feel relaxed and comfortable about the capitulation of national sovereignty that is AUKUS, a pact yet to be defined, but which has a very colonial nostalgia vibe.

Not everyone loves Kerr. A ”rorty old, farting Falstaff …” an elderly lizard” is Patrick White’s vivid impressions of the Governor-General, a respected jurist and former Chief Justice of the NSW Supreme Court, who invoked his “reserve powers” to dismiss Whitlam’s Labor government in 1975, to the immense good fortune of Liberal Malcolm Fraser, a Western Districts grazier. How we miss such giants.

Mal is the last farmer to become Prime Minister, something the Nats have never got over and the only PM to visit to a seedy Memphis hotel, only to lose his trousers – just one leg of which, could be pressed into service as a shroud for his chief legacy, his treasurer. John Winston Howard, monarchist, devout Neoliberal and US lickspittle, who did so much to dash the hopes of voters who sought enlightened, progressive, federal policies which might heal division, promote equality and independence.

As for the AUKUS submarine plan, it’s a fiasco. Eight nuclear subs we cannot crew, or fuel, which need a whole new industry to maintain, with a price tag of at least possibly $170 billion, allowing for inflation, are thrust upon us much to Macron’s chagrin, or emmerdement, a word our prissy press pretend is “piss off” but any Frenchman will tell you means shat upon.

Macron hates our PM for lying to him that the sub deal was real until one day before it wasn’t. It’s a breach of good faith which will set back our trade with the EU circus, of which La Belle France is 2022’s ringmaster. Carbon tariffs could be slapped on our exports. Also, we alienate another power with a presence in the Pacific.

In the meantime, we may have to retire the Collins class subs which will be rust buckets well before our “new” nuclear submarines are ready in the early 2040s. By then, crewless subs and drones will have superseded anything AUKUS hawks us.

But all is not lost. Diplomatic genius, carbon tariff expert and Joke PM, Tony Abbott has been seconded to the BOT, Board of Trade, an outfit long dead in the water until revived by Teresa May as something she could announce that might offset the stench of a hard Brexit.

Tony’s bound to come up with something. Always does. Even if it’s only shirt-fronting Macron.

His work is cut out for him. Career liar, Boris Johnson brags that:

“… our ambitious trade deal with Australia will include a substantive article on climate change which reaffirms both parties’ commitments to the Paris Agreement and achieving its goals, including limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees.”

Tony’s carbon tax expertise will add a bit of finesse to the UK Australia Free Trade Deal virtually inked last month. It’s worthless according to Moody’s. Our beef and veal are more likely to go to more accessible markets which offer higher prices. As Moody’s puts it:

“Australian exporters garner higher prices for their beef products in countries like South Korea, Japan and the US. Also, Australian beef exports recently dipped because of drought conditions. Such conditions are expected to occur more regularly in the future and could restrict exports.”

Glen Dyer and Bernard Keane note that the Coalition refuses to allow the Productivity Commission or any other objective body to analyse the agreement because the benefits are minuscule. Even these dwindle in the light of the extra paperwork required to meet bureaucratic country-of-origin requirements for accessing the deal.

“Given the trivial economic impact of the UK-Australia free trade agreement, we won’t be updating our growth forecasts for the UK economy,” Moody’s conclude.

But it’s worse than nothing. Boris gets rolled. Barnaby Joyce’s carve-out means Morrison won’t have a bar of any deal that breathes a word about net-zero.

Australia’s negotiators demand that temperature targets have no part in the trade deal. When the Brits insist that The Paris Agreement to keep the global temperature rise to well below 2 degrees, and preferably to 1.5 degrees at least gets a mention, that’s all it gets and only over Morrison government objections.

But who’s going to notice the cave-in when the party’s all agog at revelations that Boris has lied about at least eleven parties that broke Covid isolation rules?

Party piece of party gate is surely BoJo’s glorious anniversary of his own birth, alas, another mental blankety-blank which he either can’t recall or, like fellow amateur casuist, ScoMo, argue wasn’t a party at all.

Boris’ colleagues are a riot of goodwill, a British ten-minute effusion of camaraderie, a happy birthday dirge and a cake with a Sue Gray file in it.

BoJo’s birthday party that his (fairly) newly-wed, a May bride, organised for him is the latest episode of Carrie On Upstairs, a fitting sequel to the mystery of who paid for the 840 pound a roll golden wallpaper in the refurbishing of Boris and Carrie’s flat over number eleven Downing Street, traditionally reserved for the chancellor of the exchequer except when Boris needs it for himself, his partner and growing family.

If we are conned on trade and it looks as if we’re roped into buying obsolete subs we won’t have any time for our war on Beijing, Keane suggests we just tell China to hold off for a couple of decades while we get our nuclear underwater shit together. What could possibly go wrong?

It’s not clear which of our neo-colonial masters will actually supply the ships. Morrison loves secrecy as much as indecision. DFAT tells us that by 2020’s end, Australian investments in the US totalled $864 billion – almost as much as the Great Satan – as America is revered in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan whose peoples it has liberated, with our assistance – the USA has invested in the Land of Oz while our investment in the UK was $615 billion – and the Old Dart has $737.6 billion invested here.

All of this is a prelude to hope. Amidst the amazing Grace Tame’s refusal to grin and bear the PM’s charm offensive, a perfunctory line congratulating her on her engagement rather than her work as Australian of the Year, the shortage of RATs and ScoMo™ & Co’s abandonment of all pretence at protecting us from Omicron, the arrival, Friday, of UK Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, aboard a Global Britain private Airbus jet is a cunningly orchestrated stunt that gets BoJos rival out of his hair while providing audio-visual proof of ScoMo and Cos trade deals.

True, Little Britain’s Labour Party is outraged at the A$1 million price ticket but wait until they discover that the Free Trade Deal with the land Downunder is just another bit of window dressing.

Hawk Talk is also a big part of Truss’ mission. Eager to be Boris’ replacement and one of our neo-colonial mistress’ Britannia’s debauched ruling elite, Truss pops in to warn us that the Chinese Panda is plotting with the Russian Bear to blow us all up, a warning that Paul Keating calls demented.

Truss attacked Dan Tehan last year, because she felt slighted but now, she is practically one of us after being made honorary Ocker of the Year, last year by The Australia Day Foundation.

The dodgy Foundation is a cabal of climate deniers, mining shills and lobbyists with links to the ultra-right Policy Exchange, a group affiliated with those who spread disinformation on climate change and covid.

Many see Liz as Little Britain’s next Tory PM, if only party animal and pants-man, Boris Johnson would admit the carnival is over. Or Sue Gray busts him for breaking his own social distancing rules by holding parties. Seriously.

Her man bag, Ben Wallace, is a Boris-follower, too, over-promoted for his loyalty to Defence Secretary.

Ben and Liz are AUKUS hawks who talk up a Blairite WMD-type case for declaring war on Russia, just because America wants them to, a scenario, the invisible Marise Payne and Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton find incredibly compelling and not just as an election campaign stunt.

All is well in the Land of Oz, even “a smoking ruin” of democracy as Guy Rundle praises us. Deputy PM and MP for Santos, Barnaby Joyce tells ABC RN Breakfast’s Patricia Karvelas that “people aren’t dying” in the Lucky Country of Covid. Rats are wrecking his government’s superbly orchestrated pandemic testing kit rollout by hoarding their RATs (Rapid Antigen Tests) – or flogging them at prices to rival the can-do capitalism of professional gougers and your local Chemist Warehouse portal.

Finally, Labor’s leader responds to Andrew Probyn asking who he is:

“My first campaign, I was 12 years old,” Albo tells the Press Club. “We organised a rent strike. We took petitions around to everyone. That was my experience of that. That drove me. That was my first political campaign. And, by the way, we won.”

“Just ‘pushing through’ this pandemic is not enough,” he argues. “We need to learn from it, we need to use what the last two years have taught us to build a better future.”

We need “a government that steps up to its responsibilities and fulfils its most fundamental roles: to protect our people, to act as a force for good, and to change people’s lives for the better.”

No wonder Morrison’s running scared. But pumping social media with Clive$’ lies about Labor’s failings is unlikely to cut it when your record reeks of corruption, ineptitude, dud deals and untrustworthiness. The worst PM of the century can’t even show some grace under friendly fire at a reception for Australian of the Year, a miserable morning tea, brightened only by a bevy of nominees for awards, any one of which is likely to show up his own inadequacies as a man and as a leader.

To pick a fight with Grace Tame, moreover, and to go on radio, later, to belittle her, may cost Morrison any last skerrick of credibility. His pot-shot at Grace Tame, Australian of the Year 2021 is by extension an attack on all women and every woman’s right to expect a government that offers equality, justice and safety for all Australians, instead of a racket run to benefit a privileged few.

Given his lies, his stunts, his broken promises, his empty promises, his protection of incompetent ministers and worse, together with his government’s catastrophic mishandling of the pandemic, his pot-shot at Ms Tame maybe his coup de grace.

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ScoMo plays Djoko but Dutton buys tanks

“Nine years long” reads a handmade sign in a sealed window of the Park Hotel, Swanston Street, Carlton, a grim, grey, makeshift, Melbourne gaol for forty-six refugees and asylum-seekers. Most were originally locked up on Papua New Guinea and Manus Island. Now the men are held against their will indefinitely, in contempt of international convention, compassion and human decency. Their food is mouldy and has weevils in it. A couple of floors catch fire in December, but no-one is allowed to leave the building.

Novak Djokovic also lobs here, Wednesday to Monday, a world champion reduced to persona non grata, after Border Force cancels his visa, but – in a sensational comeback – after Monday’s federal court hearing, he’s released into the care of his lawyer$.

The Park Hotel is a far cry from the Serb’s mountainside mansion in Monte Carlo, where he lives tax free. True, he has an incredible portfolio of luxury properties all over the world. New York. Miami. Soho. Even a penthouse in New Belgrade. But Border Force give him no option. Cancel his visa. Lock him up with the other poor sods.

But not for ever, Federal Court Judge, Anthony Kelly quashes the cancellation of Djokovic’s visa on procedural fairness. Border Force breaks a promise.

It’s a technical victory for the tennis star. Border Force fails to keep its word that Djokovic has until 8.30am to seek advice about his pending cancellation, instead cancelling his visa at 7.42am to finish the business before one officer’s shift ends.

Now the international tennis champion, antivaxxer, kinesiologist and property tycoon awaits a call from Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, a mate of the PM, a fellow evangelical and Morrison’s numbers man in the NSW party machine.

Mike Seccombe sees Hawke as a man made in the image of his mentor “hard-charging and abrasive”, an MP reviled by both wings of the party.

Seccombe, writes in The Saturday Paper detailing how Hawke’s leadership of Morrison’s faction in NSW, the centre-right, and his work as ScoMo’s delegate on the party’s state executive has been a catastrophe for the PM. An insider claims Hawke,

“has used his time as Morrison’s representative on the state executive in an endeavour to advance their factional position to the detriment of both conservatives and the moderates – to the point now where the conservatives and the moderates are in an alliance against Hawke. And that means against Morrison.”

In brief, Morrison’s Mini-Me is just the man to forge consensus and garner party support on the Djokovic fiasco, a blunder that splits a parliamentary party already frantic at the PM’s catastrophic failure on the pandemic, the economy, trade – everything he touches. Will the Serbian serve the coup de grâce to Morrison’s corrupted, clapped-out career?

It’s a mystery drama with a dilemma. Morrison’s Pentecostal pal, Hawke has the power to cancel Djokovic’s visa. Or Morrison, a notoriously sore loser, a man with a glass jaw, who hates us to see he’s a fool, looks a right royal prat. Which way it will go?

Hawke decides not to cancel Djokovic’s visa Monday night. He has four hours to use his personal power, under section 133 A or 133C(3) of the Migration Act 1958 if the Morrison government wants to try to keep the tennis champion in detention. Instead, he’ll let us know, Tuesday. In the meantime he discovers his party is divided.

Meanwhile it’s leaked that Border Force, our PM’s personal paramilitary is concerned the Serb or his agent may have lied on his travel declaration.

An alley cat toys with a six foot two mouse. It’s a PMO tactic to stretch out the saga; string us along. Distract. Helps distance Morrison from his minister’s act.

Meanwhile, Omicron ravages the nation while rapid antigen tests (RATS) and booster shots just can’t be found. Federal government policy in the face of a catastrophic rise in cases is a DIY testing regime. PCR test centres are overwhelmed, revealing yet again the wisdom of neoliberal outsourcing and privatisation of public health.

In an echo of its former inglorious failures, our Health Department didn’t order enough RATS. Or boosters. This helps shrink ballooning case numbers. As does the shrewd requirement that you phone in your result. Or making us pay. Other nations provide the tests free. But unless you’re a concession card holder, you pay. Or if you’re one of the millions in low paid casual work, the third of the workforce with no paid sick leave entitlement of leave, you simply do without. Such are your freedoms.

Reports of profiteering or “price gouging” as our “medium” prefers, proliferate. In an inspiring act of charity, the PM shares how his Jen is shopping for RATs, scouring Sydney’s more select suburbs, on a search and supply mission. Making herself useful. Having a go. Just one of us, really. It’s an uplifting fantasy of a Mum on struggle-street where Dad earns half a mill a year plus free board, lodging, transport and healthcare.

Also consoling to a nation wracked by coronavirus psychosis, a heady blend of fear, anxiety, depression and sheer despair is Spud’s uplifting shopping news.

Defence minister Dutton orders 120 yank tanks and other armoured vehicles, because you just don’t know when you’ll have to quell an ugly uprising by the poor. Suddenly submarines and long range anti-panda missiles are out Tanks and Humvees are in.

Spud finds a lazy $3.5 billion down the back of Abbott’s padded Defence Budget. The budgie smuggler pledged two percent of GDP to waste on war toys and other defence over-expenditure. Just for the optics. Make Labor look weak on national security.

Billions are wasted on new toys: replacing the ’59 Abrams M1A1s we bought in 2007, still in mint condition and unused in battle bar the odd ‘Roo shoot and bush bash.

As US imperialist running dogs of the century, we love buying America’s castoffs. Even obsolete military hardware can be a boon in a pandemic. A tank, or two, can help clear any congested supermarket carpark. Counter insurgency thrives in tight corners. Be just in time to quell bread riots as shelves empty across the nation. Besides hunger games, there’s the prospect of ugly insurrection over our fossil fuel mania, our ecocide.

Equally comforting in Morrison’s PsyOps is an image of the PM with a platter of two barramundi. Let’s just get Humpty Doo Barra home delivered like the Morrisons. It’s heady, aspirational stuff that helps us pull ourselves together in time of need. Almost as helpful as knowing we’ve got government ministers who can do what they like.

Hawke’s “personal power” as Immigration Minister allows him also to let the men banged up in the Park Hotel be released into the community. Or hospital. At least twenty are now sick with Covid. Not that you’d find space for ten now. Still, a triage in a taxi or a tent can save your life. If you can afford the fare. Or you can still walk.

But Hawke goes MIA. At The Park, medical care means you get one Panadol, dry, although a guard does say hospitalisation will be provided to the one or two who may need it, based on Omicron’s mild effect on the rest of the population. But that’s it.

A chap who asks for ginger to gargle to ease his Covid-affected sore throat is ignored.

Formerly, The Rydges on Swanston, The Park was May’s COVID-19 top super spreader, triggering Victoria’s second, deadly wave of coronavirus. Hundreds die. Almost all seven thousand infections, which devastate the state, are traced back to overseas arrivals at the hotel. Now it’s shaping up for an Omicron encore.

It’s a timely reminder of the Morrison government’s wisdom in not providing dedicated quarantine – and it also highlights our ongoing war on The Other which helps keep us safe, feeling relaxed and comfortable and gets Tory MPs re-elected.

Political prisoners, hidden in our midst, in shabby hotels, across Australia are suddenly thrust into the spotlight when Djokovic, Tennis World Champion, has his Visa cancelled by Border Force on arrival at Melbourne to play in The Australian Open. Is the refugee publicity an unforced error? Or are non-citizens now completely invisible?

We lead the world in secret prison camps. Calling them “detention centres” stops any hint that they are gulags. And how good is the word “processing” instead of indefinite, detention? But where we really shine is in throwing away the key.

On average, an asylum-seeker sentence in Australia is currently 689 days. Even in the US, it’s 55 days, unless they put you in Gitmo. In Canada it’s a fortnight. All you need do is arrive here by sea. It’s not a crime to seek asylum but the government still call you illegals. Neglect, maltreat and abuse you. Call you by a number, never your name.

Then PM, Abbott tells the UN to butt out in 2015, when Professor Juan Mendez, Special Rapporteur on Torture finds Australia’s asylum seeker policies violate the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

Bugger rules-based order. Abbott is quick to declareAustralians are “sick of being lectured to by the United Nations.” Professor Mendez says Australia has failed to provide adequate detention conditions and that it should end the detention of children. Biloela? None of his business. Now the Park Hotel is a stark reminder on nightly TV.

Team Morrison banks on most of us not caring. Scoring points with the “tough on borders” voter. PMO advisers hope to capitalise on public outrage that a travel exemption has been made for a multi-millionaire sporting star, while families are unable to get together at Christmas. Time for a quick pivot on the politics of Djokovic’s entry.

“People are welcome in Australia. But if you’re not double vaccinated and you’re not an Australian resident or citizen, well, you can’t come,” the PM says 6 January.

Could this be the PM’s Tampa Crisis? A show of manly decisiveness. Upstage his pandemic catastrophe. Curiously, they said the same of Morrison in 2019, normalising Howard’s chicanery and cynical dog-whistling to racists, xenophobes and One Nation supporters. Yet now, opinion polls suggest that wedging your opponents with the politics of race to is unlikely to be the silver bullet Morrison so desperately needs. People just can’t avoid seeing him as a monstrous failure, a fraud and a career liar.

Guardian Australia’s Essential Poll finds that only 37 percent of us believe immigration levels are too high, down from 56 percent in 2019. Yet it remains a divisive issue.

But how good is a distracting scapegoat – especially one which lets Mo remind us all how he invented Border Force, border protection, boat turnbacks to politicise xenophobia, racism and total indifference to the plight of those forced to flee their countries of origin by boat? Two-year-wonder- PM Tony Abbott did much the same toward the end of his miserable prime ministership, largely run by his office.

“I stopped the boats,” Abbott reminds us, a lie that overlooks the Rudd government’s 2013 Pacific Solution announcement that “asylum seekers who come here by boat without a visa will never be settled in Australia”. Push factors such as the end of the Afghanistan war helped. Neither Tony Abbott nor Scott Morrison, stopped the boats.

Morrison is on to Djokovic’s extradition like a rat up a drainpipe. But it’s a rapid backflip even for a shit-house rat or a cunning, opportunistic politician. The PM hasn’t bothered to tell Home Affairs’ head, Karen Andrews. Someone has to go under a bus when there’s a country to run. Yet Andrews is on record as expressing a dissenting view.

Djokovic’s unvaccinated status disqualifies him for a visa but, somehow, in cahoots with one of our overweening, “peak bodies” in our pantheon of sport, the temple of Tennis Australia, (TA) Home Affairs Minister Andrews has written to the grand slam champion telling him that he has “a medical exemption”. Did TA dictate, ever mindful of its gate?

So powerful are our sporting organisations that they can tell federal governments what to do. Or at least they can try. And some are down on their luck in a pandemic.

Or was there federal government collusion to waive the big star through the visa process until it discovered that such an exemption did not sit at all well with fans?

Tennis Australia is said to be on its last $2.4 million after what The Australian (paywalled) reports as a $100 million Covid hit. Now TA’s borrowed $80 mill from the State of Victoria. It’s not only keen to get back in the game, clearly, it also has a formidable fan base. Our sports empires, or “governing bodies” as they are known are no strangers to wheeling and dealing. The game of mates. Or a bit of power play.

Tennis Australia puts the lob into lobbying.

Now things get messy. Health Minister, Greg Hunt, writes to Tennis Australia, CEO Craig Tiley, 29 November 2021, stating clearly that people who had tested positive to Covid-19 within six months do not meet exemption requirements to enter the country. But does he show the letter to Kaz? Does he ever intend to? It’s a line-ball decision.

Has Ms Andrews been set up? Morrison’s office is a Bermuda Triangle of careers that just disappear without trace -especially women’s careers -despite PMO lip-service to internal inquiry and promises, one day, to implement every one of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ recommendations in her Set The Standard review.

Or could Home Affairs’ letter of acceptance be a figment of Djokovic’s imagination? His quack doctor has him on a weird diet. What he fails to provide is evidence in the form of a positive PCR test of his having had COVID-19 in the last six months. Or twice, depending on which account you read. Is he on some macrobiotic hallucinogen?

Or is it just testosterone? What is clear is the outrage from Belgrade. Is Serbia’s hero lured to Australia to be humiliated? Serbia’s President, Aleksandar Vučić says he’d do the same to Morrison should our PM ever visit. He’d have no trouble selling tickets.

Vučić vows to “fight” for Djokovic to be able to enter Australia. Another diplomatic shit storm brews. Morrison’s government alienated France after the PM lies about welching on our submarine deal in favour of AUKUS and nuclear subs we can’t even crew.

As for our biggest trading partner, China, President Xi won’t even speak to Canberra; responding instead with a trade war after Australia calls for an inquiry into the origins of the “Wuhan Flu”, pandering to conspiracy theorists and others who would like to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic. Sabre-rattling Defence Minister Dutton talks up war, Canberra must be prepared for whatever lurks “on or below the horizon”.

Across the ditch, Jacinda Ardern is miffed that we repatriate Kiwi-born Australian residents who break the law. Many were children when they left the land of the long white cloud. “Taking the trash out,” Peter Dutton calls his deporting of New Zealand offenders. If that sticks in your craw, kiwi crayfish are selling for a hundred dollars a pop in China as our federal government’s trade war sinks our own export businesses.

A $3 million marketing campaign by federal government to entice New Zealanders, is not going so well. Bookings are down 76 per cent year-on-year for the four weeks from April 19. Our pacific island workforce is also inexplicably smaller this year.

Migrant workers are critical to Australia’s farming sector and food security. What is shameful are the conditions leading so many to abscond, notes Deakin University’s Victoria Stead.

Is Morrison aiming for his own grand slam in alienating the world? Pay them back for treating him as a sick joke on curbing carbon emissions, flouting refugee conventions, and lying. Or does he just not care? As he tells Annabel Crabb on Kitchen Cabinet.

Lying? Djokovic does have a document bearing the Serbian Institute of Sport’s letterhead, which says he caught Covid 16 December. Yet there’s no medical test evidence, sniffs Home Affairs Supremo Andrews who is refused an extension to postpone the federal circuit court hearing of his case until Wednesday.

Clearly, she’s been left right out of the loop, standard operating procedure for Federal Liberals with their record of misogyny, sexism, secrecy and captain’s calls.

“The tail won’t be wagging the dog here”, Judge Anthony Kelly says

Kelly’s quip may be a sly dig at PistoI and Boo, Johnny Depp and then partner Amber Heard’s Yorkshire Terriers who, accidentally, helped us to show our borders are tough.

The stars forgot to quarantine their pets. In 2015, a righteously “tough on illegal immigrants” Barnaby Joyce threatened to euthanise the “illegally imported” pair of mutts (the pets not the actors) if they weren’t out of the country on the next plane. A document was alleged to be forged.

Heard has recently named one of her new dogs Barnaby Joyce in honour of the fiasco.

Djokovic is known for his dogged tenacity. Certainly, for a man with Covid, the star has wasted no time lying doggo in iso. A photo emerges on social media of the Serbian hero unmasked in public 17 December at a state ceremony to honour him by presenting him with a set of Serbian National postage stamps bearing his photogenic image.

For someone with a potentially deadly viral infection, Djokovic is quite the social butterfly, appearing not only to be in rude good health, but actively engaging with young people. Hugs and back pats. On December 17, he participates an open PR event. Images appear of the star embracing children at an awards ceremony at an event organised by the Tennis Association of Belgrade. Talk about infectious goodwill.

But that’s not all that’s caught in the spotlight; illuminated is an inept, cruel and increasingly desperate Morrison government which will do anything to divert us from its failures. Our PM threatens to shirt-front the Serb; put him on the next plane home. By Monday, this is toned down and Morrison’s office puts out word of amicable discussion between our PM and his Serbian counterpart – in which Morrison explains our rules.

But Djokovic is used to winning from behind. It’s his trademark. Along with abusing injury time out. With help from friends in high places in Belgrade “the Serbinator” successfully lodges an appeal against his extradition.

This is not the outcome that Morrison’s office had in mind. Or is it?

Djokovic’s lock-up is a political intercept; a stunt to distract from the Morrison regime’s disastrous mismanagement of the pandemic which by Monday, reaches 972,000 cases, after restrictions are abruptly eased in a backflip which Morrison calls Living with the Virus aka Playing with Fire as the Omicron variant rages through the population, bringing an already over-stressed hospital system to the point of collapse.

Welcome to Shitshow 2.0, an homage to Bill Shorten’s zinger: “it’s not a race” the Morrison government’s first, vaccine stroll-out fiasco, a display of extraordinary ineptitude, disinformation, outright lies and rapid back-flips.

In Shitshow 2.0 business meets the PM in secret to force sick workers in supply chains back to work. No workers’ representatives are present, nor is the ACTU invited, its secretary, Sally McManus warns. Not only does his “small” government mandate work for sick workers, it helps spread infection. Talk about sharing and caring.

But look over there! Border protection opportunity knocks. Dead cat on table time. Cancel Novak, Djokovic’s visa. What a stroke of genius.

Once again, despite a battalion of advisers and all of Scotty’s military escort, JJ Frewen’s much-vaunted, spit’n polish, military efficiency plus weapons-grade logistical expertise, it is painfully obvious that the Morrison government has stuffed up everything.

True there’s a bit of help from a friend, NSW Premier, Dom Perrottet who “lets her rip.” Now he must mend the tears to the fabric of NSW society and its tanking economy.

There are no Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) but the public must use them and phone in their results because PCR testing, heavily outsourced to private firms collapses. Boosters are dwindling. Hospitals are not coping. Doctors are angry and exhausted.

315785 active cases, underestimates the true number just in NSW. Self-administered tests are yet to be recorded, while others don’t bother to get tested. Some experts say the real number could be as much as 5-10 times higher.

  • 2,186 are admitted to hospital
  • 170 are in intensive care
  • 51 require ventilation

Hospitals are stretched. “Elective” surgery cancelled. Not only are too many cases being admitted, thousands of workers must be spelled because they have been exposed. Some simply resign in exhaustion and frustration; cross the border to work in Queensland where wages and conditions are higher and a government which is not infected with crazy libertarianism.

Everywhere there are long queues to get tested while RATs just can’t be found. Supermarket shelves are stripped bare. Customers stay at home while shops close their doors. Making it even harder on business and consumer, there’s no JobKeeper.

Yet to hear Scott Morrison, he’s a paragon of quiet, modest diligence as he quietly reassures those attending a Sydney Institute Dinner last week.

“What is most important to me as Prime Minister is that I seek to humbly do everyday things that make Australia even stronger than we are today, both now and in the future.”

Morrison’s hypocrisy is boundless. The humble housekeeper pose is laughable coming from the man who warned Julia Banks “I. am. The. Prime. Minister.”

The Bronte bogan loves a motivational slogan,

“There’s no guidebook to COVID. We all know that. And so what I think is important is the country just focuses on the task ahead. Keep looking through that windscreen. That’s where I’m looking. We’re looking forward.

Inspirational or terrifying? Government is not a self-driving Tesla. Shoulders right back, no hands on the wheel and eyes on the road ahead Morrison, is a black-belt in bumper-sticker wit and witless boosterism. And lashings of public self-adoration.

But no-one’s fooled. The task ahead is our Prime Narcissist’s own squalid political survival, not the public good or the welfare of the commonwealth. He’s a ruthless pragmatist, a truculent bully whose sole goal is to stay on top of the dung-heap; maintain his own undeserving, increasingly threatened ascendancy.

Today, Morrison wrests control of his party by appeasing its libertarians whose influence has grown since the charismatic John Howard inspired them to “big themselves up”. Despite presiding over our biggest government since Curtin, the PM declares stumps and pivots; announcing that it’s time for government to butt out of peoples’ lives.

No-one believes a word Morrison says but we all know he will say or do anything. And say and do something else tomorrow. Then deny both. Witness his witless excrescence at a cricket match, Saturday, “Australians taking wickets in the virus” while grandstanding in the Ashes commentary box on day three of the fourth Test at the SCG.

While shoppers fight over toilet tissue in panic buying and Australians are intubated in ICUs and hospitals are stretched beyond capacity and then some, only Scott Morrison would seek to buoy the spirits of a nation with a bizarre cricketing analogy.

Morrison excels in buck passing. Our fearless, leader’s fortune-cookie windscreen wisdom inspires a claque of fellow travellers; no ideas persons, moral pygmies, clowns, contrarian libertarians and fellow former apparatchiks in the confederation of dunces which passes itself off as Australia’s federal government.

Yet his latest move is to exhume the pernicious myth of personal responsibility, a version of Margaret Thatcher’s nonsense. No such thing as society, she declared.

2022, the Great Evader declares will be The Year of Taking Responsibility. AKA I’m all right Jack – and bugger the rest of you. There’s no guidebook for Covid, he lies. He’s an expert at not reading the map. Ignoring or contradicting expert advice. His ministers share a vision, an adolescent Hayekian fantasy that sanctions doing nothing .

Once we take personal responsibility for our own health, a free market will cure all. Cue the sound of one invisible hand clapping. A wag in the Canberra press gallery tackles health minister, Hunt, over his government’s lack of any clear plan to procure rapid antigen tests, last October. The Minister snaps “let that market develop”.

Living with Covid is Mo’s latest backflip, undoing two years of containment. No more nanny state. Buy your own bloody test kits. Under pressure, he backs down. Some of us may access ten free tests every three months. 6.6 million concession card holders across the nation are overjoyed. Such fun trying to find a test supplier.

Sensing a dip in credibility according to recent NewsPolls and still smarting at being an international laughing-stock because of his behaviour at last year’s G20 COP26 with its green hydrogen and “technology not taxes” claptrap, a green-washing of mining business as usual, Morrison opts for yet another cop-out. And a dead cat.

In a heaven-sent opportunity for distraction and tough-talking, his private militia, Border Force cancels anti-vax, health crank Djokovic’s visa and puts him up in the Park.

Acing the champion tennis player certainly gets everyone’s attention. An astute Djokovic clan member declares our PM “not a human being”. But Morrison loves a fuss, especially a heady brew of sport and the institutionalised racism of “tough on borders” rhetoric, despite some of the most porous borders in the world. If you fly in.

We’ll decide who gets into our Australian Open and the manner in which they do so.

Taking Personal Responsibility, a staple of Reagan and Thatcher political misrule, is a ruse to cover the Morrison government’s utter ineptitude. As it abandons all pretence at keeping Australia safe, it shifts the blame to the victim of the latest wave of the pandemic, a wave that appears fit to swamp us all.

Let ‘er rip. Politics trumps science, with the help of Neoliberal econobabble, the perversion of economics fetishised by such exalted local Tory politicians as NSW’s Dominic Perrottet or Josh Frydenberg, Treasurer of our nation’s federal Coalition of mining, business and finance Muppets. Omicron, the latest mutant variant of SARS-COVID-19 surges, bringing our infection rate to match the United States.

It’s a shameful, culpable dereliction of duty and abdication of responsibility that we also see in in fellow clown, Boris Johnson, muppet of the UKs Policy Exchange boffins, a front for corporate greed, fair wages and anthropogenic climate change denial.

Locally, our own mineral and Business Council flogs wag the dog of Morrison government. Rupert, Gina, Andrew and Kerry and their merry band of ruling oligarchs now urge sick workers to man the supply chains lest profits or fall or business founder.

To them, also Morrison must seem a liability. Morrison and his government may have been useful fools for a while but their future looks increasingly uncertain cloudy now they threaten to cost our oligarchs their profits.

Whilst voices with the sound of money in them call for an end to the Djokovic sideshow, there is a chance the debacle of the un-cancelling of a tennis player’s visa may alert the nation to other ways its federal government falls short in humanity and democracy. The Australian Open’s biggest drawcard may prove a Djoker in the pack.

The saga of a tennis star’s visa cancellation certainly serves to highlight the incalculable damage the federal government is suffering as it utterly fails to deal with a pandemic catastrophe which its own Libertarian easing of restrictions helped create. It also exposes a mind-boggling degree of incompetence and miscommunication, of posturing and dissembling that would be comic were it not so toxic to the health of the commonwealth.


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Mr Joyce goes to Washington

Our nation is shocked at news from Washington that Tamworth’s favourite son, deputy PM, blue-blooded, Red Octopus, Barnaby Thomas Gerard Joyce, picks up a dose of ‘rona and must abort his mission to shirt-front Mark Zuckerberg after a brilliant one day bull-session in The Old Dart with deputy PM Dominic Raab who has great tips about his latest spreadsheet to select only the better type of refugee from Kabul and Transport Minister Grant Shapps, guru of infrastructure and the Zen puzzle of “levelling-up” which as every student of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson’s rhetoric will tell you, involves fixing inequality without making poor areas richer by making rich areas poorer.

If no-one can understand Al (to his pals and family) Johnson’s “levelling-up” gibberish, Riverview Old Boy, coal seam gas-lighter, Santos’ shill, Murray-Darling tilter and knight-errant in RM Williams’ armour, Barney is clear about one thing. He’s on a (very public) crusade to defend his daughter Bridgette’s honour from vile cowards on social media, who assume that she and her former boss, John Barilaro are an item. At it like rabbits. Vile stuff. Ugly. Even Harvey’s Weinstein’s casting couch would blush.

Turns out it’s all the work of one coward, @SewerRat420. No-one been seriously harmed, moreover. A tiny, online, rumour becomes an issue only when Joyce gives it oxygen. It’s the Streisand effect. You get a lot of it in a policy-free Morrison government.

But it’s timely. Joyce’s war on @SewerRat420’s tweets to their 69 followers may be quixotic but it’s all Barney needs to manufacture outrage. Grandstand. A protective Dad he takes things into his own hands; pens a lurid op-ed for Costello’s Nine Newspapers.

Brace yourselves, this is a disquieting passage; Barnabese is not easy to read.

‘Twitter, it is not the trolls that inspire the devastating mental health issues. The trolls don’t have a voice unless you give them one, and you do! You make money from their noise, their ambit scratchings on the back of a lavatory door. They post their character assassinations from the back of the door at the servo and you illuminate it in on a city billboard for all to see.’

BJ’s surely in the running for Australian Florid Laureate. But how could a young Nationals’ staffer, straight from Uni, who got her “senior political adviser” job through cronyism, be so wrongly accused of having an affair with her sleazebag boss, a married man? An MP?

Joyce has a veritable Flagstaff Mountain of moral high ground to stand on, given his own affair with his former media adviser Vikki Campion, now the mother of his two bouncing boys, although, at first, he nobly cast doubt on the paternity of the first. It is something he had to do but he wasn’t going to take any paternity tests.

A very post-modern anti-hero Joyce also has a history of groping women says WA Labor’s Jackie Jarvis. Yet rural advocate, Catherine Marriott’s allegation of sexual harassment goes nowhere when the NSW National Party’s thoroughly independent internal inquiry can reach no conclusion but won’t make its finding public.

It’s a long trip to protect your daughter’s virtue but someone has to do it. Of course, it’s overkill, but, just for perspective, Joyce did tell the house he would not let his girls get Gardasil because it would make them promiscuous. As for social media it is filth.

Anyone can post anything about anybody Joyce reckons. What is the world coming to?

Using anonymous social media should be restricted to the party in power. Or tapping Clive Palmer’s piggybank to peddle lies about the Labor Party raising taxes.

Andrew Laming has over 30 fake accounts. Amanda Stoker has her “Mandy Jane” alias.

Yet Barnaby’s complaint is a bit misleading. @SewerRat420’s account was promptly suspended. Twitter’s private information policy, prohibits sharing content that would violate anyone’s privacy. Phone numbers and addresses were the target but late last month the ban was extended to include photographs and videos of people taken without their permission, even if they’re depicted in public.

Crikey’s Cam Wilson reports that Twitter users who’d used the platform to document behaviours of people like QAnon adherents and Proud Boys were suspended from the platform for sharing footage of these groups taken in public. He, himself is suspended for tweeting details of public records freely available online of Alan Jones’ new YouTube venture backers Australian Digital Holdings.

None of this assuages Joyce’s fury. It’s an attack on Bridge’s morality, chastity, pedigree and a blot on the Joyce Family reputation for integrity. Paterfamilias and pocket moral philosopher, Barney whips himself into a lather. His blood is up. Nothing for it but to nip over to the US. Sort out the bastards in charge. Coronavirus? Can’t touch him.

Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, retired 29 November, but it won’t be too hard to rock up to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg’s palace. Nor should it be impossible to get hold of Dorsey’s successor, Chief Technology Officer Parag Agrawal.

Happily, Morrison’s VIP, private executive jet, is idle. That’s rare. Australia’s First Dad, ScoMo dashed down from Canberra to Kirribilli, last Father’s Day, at a bargain cost to us of $6000, last September.

Big family man, Barnaby is a Walter Mitty. Sees himself as a SAS crack paratrooper in the Morrison Jihad against social media, (SM) the Great Satan of our click-baited age of disinformation, trivia, superficiality and sexploitation, a formula not yet patented by ex-pat Rupert Murdoch, but very much his house style.

SM is a handy scapegoat in any election campaign when you have no real policy to campaign on – and when social media is less easily controlled than the mainstream – and can express unpalatable truths. If not hold you to account, it can at least expose your lies. Morrison calls it “coward’s castle”, a bit rich from someone whose MPs abuse parliamentary privilege to smear Labor regularly.

It’s rank hypocrisy, moreover, given the Liberal Party’s own rich history of anonymous trolls on social media, neatly summarised by Andrew P Street, in Independent Australia.

But in an era of post-truth, post-shame, Tory politics, who lets the facts get in the way of a top story? The Tamworth Family Values Crusader takes it up to Zuckerberg narrative evokes David v Goliath, despite Barn telling Gina’s daughter, Bianca, in a typically controversial intervention, in 2011, that his parents were millionaires.

You have to be a millionaire to run for office in the US.

In October, Joyce rings John Thune, number three Republican in the Senate, a long, tall South Dakotan (1.93m) who is big on algorithm transparency, and who looks like the president from central casting. Thune is pushing his Filter Bubble Transparency Act to unmask internet platforms’ perfidy. His own prose is a beacon of lucidity.

“For free markets to work as effectively and as efficiently as possible, consumers need as much information as possible, including a better understanding of how internet platforms use artificial intelligence and opaque algorithms to make inferences from the reams of personal data at their fingertips that can be used to affect behavior and influence outcomes. That’s why I believe consumers should have the option to either view a platform’s opaque algorithm-generated content or its filter bubble-free content, and, at the very least, they deserve to know how large-scale internet platforms are delivering information to their users.”

Thune is pushing it uphill. His bill is wishful thinking. Not exactly what Joyce is after. He wants something like the man with the red flag in the UK who had to walk in front of the new-fangled motorcar in 1865, restricting its speed to four miles per hour in case it frightened stock in the fields by the road. Or some protective censorship, such as is enjoyed by other repressive regimes around the world.

The Committee to Protect Journalists lists the top ten and their ways.

In the top three countries–Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan–the media serves as a mouthpiece of the state. Other countries on the list use harassment, arbitrary detention together with sophisticated surveillance and targeted hacking to silence any independent press.

Saudi Arabia, China, Vietnam, and Iran specialize in jailing and harassing journalists and their families, while also monitoring and censoring internet and social media.

But our Deputy PM offers Australia’s help to the bipartisan bill, especially, after whistleblower and former Facebook product manager, Frances Haugen tells Congress she’s seen how the company prioritises profits over the wellbeing of its users, reports the AFR’s Tom McIlroy.

Profits before well-being? Incredible. Sounds exactly like Australia’s Federal government-subsidised-private-Aged Care scam where 34% of homes for our elders are run for profit.

During the last Covid wave in Victoria in 2020, over forty per cent of the total of seven hundred deaths occurred in just ten homes, none of which were run by the state government. Yet the dominant media narrative is that the Andrews’ government is to blame. Who needs censorship?

Being placed in a for-profit home means an aged care resident is twice as likely to suffer serious injuries in a for-profit home as in a government-run one, the royal commission investigating the sector finds.

Yet there’ll be no rush to reform. Expect instead over five million dollars of public funds to be spent on a classic Crosby Textor ploy; a series of talking points and ads all repeating a pledge to keep Australia Safe from evil cyber trolls, hackers and other malignant unseen enemies of the public good.

Always identify a peril to unite your supporters around. Or invent one. Just skip the harm caused by the slurs, lies, disinformation and conspiracy theories posted by your own MPs including George Christensen and recent defector to the UAP, Craig Kelly.

To win votes, an anti-trolling bill is proposed. No draft is yet available, but the vibe of the new law is to make it easier for plaintiffs to un-mask real names of trolls on social media, a process already available through our legal system and one which then relies on the victim having the money to run a defamation case.

The federal Coalitions ’s plans will help it to sue you; not protect you. Cam Wilson notes, they are more likely to help the powerful get revenge than help your average Australian stop online abuse.”

Of course, there’s wealth of other public duties our multi-talented multi-tasking Deputy PM would be able to perform, according to the officialese released by his government’s organ-grinder. Some of it is pure poetry:

“Mr Joyce will focus on infrastructure and meetings with counterparts on how to restore the aviation industry after the pandemic.”

Yet public fuses with private for Joyce in a great display of a father avenging a wronged daughter. He’ll be able to claim he was prepared to go halfway around the world to go toe to toe with Zuckerberg, himself, to protect his innocent eldest child, the fair young maid Bridgette. Of course, there are personal motives behind Joyce’s quest.

Joyce is making another bid for redemption with the nation including ex-wife Natalie and his first family. (This would be his first second family if we followed the US nonsense of the President’s wife being the First Lady, his pet, First Dog, the late Champ, and so on.)

We are, nevertheless, on that track or steep decline, but it’s mainly Anti-vaxxers in MAGA hats waving Trump banners and protesting their rights under pseudolaw, close cousin to pseudoscience.)

Close also to madness. Last month, one of Australia’s aspiring singers, Claire Woodley, daughter of Bruce Woodley, of The Seekers, dedicates a performance of I am Australia to “victims of satanic ritual abuse” – a rhetoric common in US-born QAnon conspiracy theory about abducting children for satanic rites.

An equally bizarre aberration is the appropriation of My body My choice a slogan stolen from women seeking the right to control their own fertility through pregnancy termination if need be. Yet Trumpism, with its mindless morass of alternative facts, intoxicates our current PM who marvels at how the Donald did things, even appearing at a campaign rally with him in Ohio September 2019.

ScoMo’s sycophancy is rewarded with a medal, The Legion of Merit, for leadership in meeting global challenges and we’ve all seen how well that went for him in COP26 and by US suppliers nicking our markets in our trade war with China. Now there’s a submarine deal which could reach $170 billion.

Trump’s crypto-fascism is not without its parallel in Morrison’s politics but the two trends spring independently from larger changes including a decaying news media ecology and a failure of traditional empirical knowledge-gathering processes.

Also playing its part is the alienation as seen in the gig economy, wage theft and the rise in casual insecure underpaid work, a precariat of 2.3 million workers, last year according to the ABS.

But you’ll never find Barnaby voting to increase the minimum wage if you check the record. Nor, like his PM, is there evidence of any excess empathy for the battlers he eulogises when it suits him. He also shares with Morrison a type of narcissism.

For the Tamworth Rat, things haven’t been the same since he left Nat to shack up with his former media adviser, Vikki Campion. In Barnaby’s febrile mind, redemption and rehabilitation beckon but, given the nature of the man, it’s above all, another chance to star in his own movie as Australia’s elder statesman who can wrangle the plain truth out of any fancy-pants hombre in five minutes face to face.

The narrative of Joyce’s movie, Barnaby holes up in the Jefferson Hotel, is a postmodern version of Mr Smith goes to Washington with a twist: Mr. Smith turns out to be the grifter Barnaby Joyce.

Of course, the spin is terrific. BJ’s sorting out the UK’s transport issue, with his insights into inland rail and if only he could get out of that hotel, he’s just itching to hawk AUKUS. Of course, he’ll patch up the crack in the Liberty Bell while he’s in the land of the brave, and he’s got ways and wiles to fix Morrison’s blue with Macron, a new, post-Brexit EU with France in charge. Give that Marise Payne a run for her money.

BJ jets off in Shark One, A Qantas A330 converted in 2015 by Airbus to a freighter and air-to-air refueller, the KC30-A tanker. How good is ScoMo’s upgrade converting the ‘bus into a VIP executive jet, at a bargain $250m? You’d think that the Coalition won in a landslide – not that it clings to power by one miserable seat.

Cynics on social media suggest the OS junket is a chance for Scott Morrison to get Joyce out of the way. Labor’s slogan, “vote Liberal get Barnaby Joyce” seems to be cutting through. But that’s a bit harsh.

Not only is our urbane, suave, master of nuance, deputy PM a born diplomat, Joyce’s linguistic gifts are as legendary as his Akubra millinery. Bi-lingual, fluent in both New English and in word-salad, he knocks the socks off Scott Morrison when it comes to communication. Let alone oratory.

Who can forget Barnaby’s recorded speech to Shepparton irrigators in 2017 where he boasts that he forced Turnbull to take Water out of the Environment portfolio so that he could protect wealthy upstream interests? It’s the sort of sell-out that endears you to your children.

“We have taken water, put it back into agriculture, so we could look after you and make sure we don’t have the greenies running the show basically sending you out the back door, and that was a hard ask,” he is recorded, bragging.

Does he want a medal or a chest to pin it on?

But now, alas, Barn can’t riff about transport and infrastructure, make them boggle at his inland rail boondoggle or brag about his luck in acquiring “mongrel land” with coal-seam gas under it. Worse. Barn can’t shirtfront “Zuck”. Schmooze Ted Cruz. But he’s a Tongue-Fu Master from way back. Just listen to his mission statement.

“In a car, if I run over a person I go to jail, seatbelt or not. Online, I’m apparently indemnified. What’s the difference – breaking a leg or breaking a mind? We spend billions on mental health while they make billions in profits. I want to put the fear of God in them.”

Barney’s probably picked up a bit of man-flu in BoJo’s London, Brexit’s party animal playground, after a mask-less Dominic Raab, sacked Foreign Secretary but still deputy PM, ear-bashes Barn about his new spreadsheet to screen asylum-seekers from Afghanistan, although a plane load of dogs gets priority, when Carrie takes pity, another triumph in the Tory race to inflict gratuitous cruelty on the most vulnerable.

Oddly no-one seems to be talking about the latest of eight books which Andrew Leigh has published since entering parliament in 2010, What’s the Worst That Could Happen? Populism cops a serve.

“Tackling long-term threats requires four things: strong science, effective institutions, global engagement, and a sense of cooperation and order. Populists are anti-intellectual, anti-institutional, anti-international, and anti-irenic (‘irenic’ means to strive for peace and consensus).”

This posture is at the heart of their popular appeal – and denialist myopia regarding systemic risks is its inevitable by-product. Barnaby Joyce take a bow, with your claim that the COP26 accord doesn’t apply to your party, even though you are supposed to be in a coalition with the Liberals.

And whilst Joyce loves the fiction of the practical, man on the land, in contrast to the latte-sipping inner city urban guerrillas sabotaging The Australian Way, his trip as the UK is gripped by another pandemic wave including the highly infectious and still largely unresearched Omicron mutant variant seems decidedly ill-advised, if not foolhardy.

What is it that requires Barnaby Joyce to take such an ill-advised flight into the teeth of a raging pandemic in the UK – & then on to the wen of infection that is the US? What could he not do remotely via Zoom? His populist denialism is not heroic, it’s stupid.

Doubtless Joyce’s cult-followers will be sending him packages of the horse de-wormer Ivermectin that the Morrison government so desperate to court denialists, conspiracy theorist and anti-vaxxers that it still permits quack Craig Kelly to spruik online.

What could Barnaby Joyce not do by Zoom that requires he risk his life on a junket taking in two nations with dangerously high rates of endemic infection?

Busier than a cat watching two rat-holes, devouring briefing papers and making calls, Joyce will at last get a bit of me-time. The Red Octopus, as Barn is known to Nationals’ women, can put the finishing touches to his submission to Morrison’s women’s taskforce to which he is a recent appointment.

Clearly Joyce’s gig on the women’s’ gabfest is endorsed by the formidable Marise Payne, the “one wise monkey” Easter Island statue of women’s issues and contender for worst advocate for women in history since Tony Abbott’s public gesture of contempt in appointing himself as Minister for Women.

He’s also got time at last to check the interest on the $675,000 he claimed for his three weeks’ work on the ground during his nine months stint as Special Drought Envoy for which he produces no written report. Swears he sent texts instead. No biggie, says the PMO, it never expected any report. The Envoy was to be “focused on getting into communities and talking to farmers in drought.”

The Morrison government claims that Joyce has Covid and will be in isolation for ten days but when has Morrison ever told the truth about anything? At best, the current PM’s enticing the old rogue bull elephant away from attacking McCormack, former nominal Nationals’ Leader who got the job only because he wasn’t Barnaby. Perhaps the Ivermectin will do the trick and Joyce will up and at them after Christmas. But by then, Morrison will want his jet back so that he can fly ahead of his campaign bus and pretend that he’s been on board it every inch of the way from Kirribilli to Queensland.

On reflection, Barnaby’s barnstorm is bananas. Dangerously daft. What was the Morrison government thinking in sending its Les Paterson to England, ravaged by pandemic at a time when Boris faces defeat over the lies he told about who paid for the gold wallpaper and the two hundred thousand pounds’ worth of other accoutrements to do up the flat above number 11 Downing Street where he and Carrie make do?

What evidence is there that even in perfect health, that a personal visit from Joyce would seal any deal? The prospect of his shirt-fronting the billionaires atop their social media empires is ludicrous. It just doesn’t work like that. Besides the whole idea of intervention and censorship doesn’t bear inspection.

There was never any likelihood of any good coming out of swapping ideas with a Johnson government that rode to power on a wave of Murdoch-fuelled Brexit-mania but which has now lost the plot on everything?

As for our family man’s personal mission to fend off the troll-masters and protect his vulnerable young daughter, it will be at best a noble failure. Barnaby will be able to say he did everything he can but his best efforts were sabotaged by Omicron.

The whole fiasco of Joyce’s trip to London and Washington is a cautionary tale. It smacks of ineptitude, dud judgement and miscalculation. Even if it did get the wretched Deputy PM out of the way of Morrison’s campaign, it shrieks desperation. Abdication of duty of care. And callous indifference, if not something more sinister.

The Morrison government’s intention to make a Clayton’s cyber-safety a plank in its re-election is an abuse of public funds. It’s also another cynical hoax.

While ScoMo gets to spin his South Korean stunt, a set piece in the world leadership strand of his Second Coming Miracle campaign, sending his deputy on an abortive tour of two major trading partners at the height of a pandemic, raises serious questions. We trust Joyce recovers. But ScoMo and his Crosby-Textor guard’s reputation won’t. Reason. Intelligence. Integrity. Where the bloody hell are you?


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Morrison woos Gladys to attack ICAC

You can smell the exhaust, the burnt rubber and a thousand cigarettes, this is a crowd in love with living dangerously, breaking rules, especially the dictates of reason and common sense – the perfect setting for larrikin-lad, Scott Morrison, to head down to the racetrack at Bathurst’s Mount Panorama leaving Labor’s leader Anthony Albanese in Ashfield, flower of Sydney’s inner west to promise A Better Future, winning his listeners with a speech of passion, principle and authenticity.

The Liberal Party revs its gas guzzling 5.4 litre double-overhead cam V8. 447kW. It’s a grunt stunt. Our bloke’s bloke, PM –one of Morrison’s favourite avatars- along with Bunnings Dad’ and The Chosen One, to whom God speaks out of a photo of an eagle -is strapped into a Gen3 Ford Mustang for a mad lap at Bathurst, NSW’s petrol-head heartland, a bastion of toxic masculinity in an act of homage to a St Hydrocarbon shrine.

The ritual visit offers testosteronic risk-taking, horsepower and reckless endangerment – (how good is a near death experience?) – and at flag fall, high on hi-octane nitro, Morrison declares war on ICAC; calls the commission a kangaroo court.

Not that Scotty’s word means much, even this egregiously false smear. Macron destroyed forever the Liar from the Shire’s plausible deniability, outing, for the world to see, a deceitful, dishonest shonk. “I don’t think. I know.” Our PM’s a type the bard had in mind, “… a most notable coward, an infinite and endless liar, an hourly promise-breaker, the owner of no one good quality.”

Coalition water-boy Simon Birmingham rushes out of Kirribilli’s BS Castle and on to the field of Mars or Sky News or the Coalition’s ABC, to douse the flames after Macron sets fire to Morrison’s name. Dares call out a liar when he sees one. It’s all the fault of the media, says Birmo.

It’s only an issue because it’s being reported on. Just a beat-up, he says, as his PM’s reputation amongst key leaders of state becomes synonymous with deceit, distrust and duplicity. And disinformation, as in his latest slur on the NSW ICAC – a desperate attempt to discredit a body or its federal analogue which he knows full well would have a field day with his own corruption.

Not that Morrison will do anything. Act on his ICAC misgivings? He’s all talk. Scotty’s just a passenger along Conrod Straight, but in a post-Cobargo Australia, no-one expects him to hold a steering wheel.

Yet he’s firing on all three cylinders. An air kiss to Grid Girl, Gladys, completes the PM’s triple-pronged attack. He wows those few who revere St Gladys as a martyr to a monster ICAC, by cheering his favourite filly on in a race, whom, “close sources” say, is a hundred to one chance to even enter. There is also the teensy problem of Morrison’s picks all being duds, like Warren Mundine in Gilmore.

Morrison doesn’t stoop to ask the disgraced premier. He’s The Prime Minister, as he made clear to Julia Banks and other Liberal women he’s coerced. Of course, Glad’s hot to trot – she just can’t wait to be Morrison’s quocker-wodger after being bullied in National Cabinet. Privately, she calls Morrison “evil” and “a bully”, according to Peter Hartcher’s impeccable contacts.

But the PM has plans for her. The Australian reports that Morrison’s even intervened to extend the deadline for pre-selection applications, to 16 January, a move which, some gush, will give Glad more time to make up her mind, but which is also Morrison’s cynical each-way bet to accommodate the ICAC finding.

Even, then her odds are a bit iffy. True, The Warringa Liberal Preselection Stakes has only once not been won by a Tory candidate since its inception in 1922. Yet, apart from Zali Steggall, who won with a thirteen percent swing against Tony Abbott, in 2019, it’s also been a blokes-only show.

In a Steggall-Berejiklian contest, the incumbent must start as favourite, surely, before you even get to the political back-flip Gladys would have to do on climate change. In a state that’s run by the coal industry she, like former Energy Minister Matt Keane, favour a 50 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Morrison would have her scream at Labor for daring to suggest 43 percent?

While you can always back a nag called Self Interest because you know it will run on its merits, even folk in Sydney’s richest electorate are increasingly averse to cooking the planet, polluting precious waterways or voting for a candidate who helped bring COVID to Australia. Not just once.

But this is no spontaneous joy ride or gibe. Or punt. Everything with Morrison is a calculation.

Morrison’s 220 kph spin screams “un-woke bloke”- just as his gibe at the ICAC is so wrong that top silks take him to task. Expect to see a signed page in The Australian paid for by eminent judges, QCs, SCs and other members of the legal fraternity condemning Morrison for his slurs on the ICAC.

Let them protest. It’s all publicity. Tough-guy branding. Aloha, ScoMo the Brave. Above all, it’s part of his eternal, personal jihad on accountability as is his outrageous spruiking of Gladys Berejiklian.

Backing ScoMo’s captain’s call are a swag of Liberals. The PMO’s even dragged alleged Iraqi war criminal, John Howard, a narrow, mean-spirited little man, the “lying rodent” as George Brandis calls him, a moral and intellectual pygmy who frittered the proceeds of the mining boom on tax breaks for the wealthy while giving Australia a meaner, more divided society, but with school chaplains, babies overboard, more funds for private schools and Robert Hill’s Kyoto credits scam.

Howard raised up the rich and the strong, corporations over the vulnerable, the poor and wage earners. He divided us across most public policy areas notes The Canberra Times Crispin Hull.

Yet he’s a Liberal icon whose backing ensures Gladys’ preselection. If Gladys were to run.

Glad’s Morrison’s human shield, observes Katharine Murphy in a shrewd insight into Morrison’s war on an external scrutiny he can’t control and doesn’t care for. Berejiklian, certainly would feel used being dragged into the PM’s defence of his indefeasible delay of a federal ICAC nor the absurdly, toothless tiger proposed by the sandgropers’ Solon; MP for Pearce, retiring scion of a Liberal dynasty, Christian Porter – son of Olympic high jumper Chilla Porter – for whom no bar was too high – a limbo bar ICAC model (how low can you go?) which is designed to further hide MP’s corruption from the light of day. Even their fake proposal fails to get up because Morrison fears amendments that may give it teeth to bite him. Luckily, there’s always a scapegoat in the house.

In Morrison’s virtual reality, Labor is to blame for a thousand days’ delay in his government’s slow bicycle race to get its Clayton’s Federal ICAC bill through parliament and on the statute books. The claim is balderdash yet it gets repeated verbatim on the news. As does Berejiklian’s fake Warringah candidacy – who is not only applying for pre-selection, she’s in like Flynn according to most outlets.

Or giving former Winter Olympian Zali Steggall a downhill run for her money.

Oddly, Vox pops with voters in Warringah suggest Gladys would have Buckley’s chance of victory as federal Liberal candidate for Warringah, Tony Abbott’s former electorate, a Northern Sydney, former Liberal stronghold, whose current incumbent, independent Zali Steggall, cares about the environment, climate change and the need to preserve a world for our children. And has integrity.

Gladys for Warringah is, moreover, an untried filly over the distance with a lot of lead in the saddle. Her preparation for a shift into federal politics has been less than ideal. That’s the track talk.

Changing metaphor, in honour of the Bard, to Bathurst, the talented Joel Jenkins sums up the tactic,

The LNP, desperate from the loss of experienced crew and some promising drivers, looking at its outdated build and realising this might be its last attempt at glory, is looking toward former disgraced and disqualified prodigy, Gladys Berejiklian, to add some much needed calm into the team. This is despite her bringing the sport into disrepute, awaiting a decision from the race marshals and in spite of no indication from her personally.

The ordure first hits the fan, October 12, 2020, when Berejiklian outs secret lover, Wagga Wagga MP, rustic charmer, and notorious urger of the first degree, spiv, Daryl Maguire.

Silver-tongued Dazza sweeps Gladys off her feet, with his debonair charm, wit and his schemes to make himself rich out of their liaison. But true love never runs smooth. Especially in the classic country and western, Gladys finds herself in. So, she says. He was her man, but he was doing her wrong. Yet they are Frankie and Johnny for at least five years.

September 13, 2015, the premier of the premier state ditches Daryl and agrees to support an inquiry into his business interests. Yet, out of the blue appears a silver lining to the gold standard bust-up when who should happen along but high-profile barrister Arthur Moses, SC, who represents Gladys at the corruption hearing into Maguire. By June 2020, Arthur and Glad are seeing each other.

Daryl turns out to be such a political liability that Gladys tells her on-air confessor, spiritual adviser, KIIS 106.5 Sydney’s, Kyle Sandilands, that she’d fallen for the wrong fella – an MP for whose electorate she helps, loosening state purse strings by over $30 million, as Treasurer and later Premier, to fund a clay target shooting club, already flush with funds, and a conservatorium.

Liberals love the weak-headed woman alibi. How good is demeaning all women? Whilst some uphold her as a trail-blazing feminist, Gladys hawks her victimhood bid around all media.

Anyone who claps eyes on Mr Maguire, or does deals with him, would have trouble seeing him as a lady-killer. Nor is Gladys any shrinking violet. But it’s a pitch that resonates with respondents to a recent Essential Poll, who get almost all their news from a Murdoch-led media.

Now Berejiklian finds herself awaiting the deliberations of the ICAC, a body akin to a Royal Commission, not a court, on whether she breached public trust. Was her conduct in relation to decisions about funding grants dishonest? Did she breach public trust in failing to report her relationship? Could her conduct have allowed or encouraged corrupt conduct by Maguire?

“Even those who admire Berejiklian for many of her qualities when she was premier, realise there has to be a serious inquiry into the situation that arose … in unloading millions of dollars of public money into the Wagga electorate at the same time she was in a relationship with the member for Wagga,”

Chair of the Centre for Public Integrity, former NSW supreme court judge, Anthony Whealy, is alluding to to the Wagga Wagga Clay Target Club’s a $5.5 million upgrade and a $20.5 million plan to build a recital hall for the Riverina Conservatorium of Music.

“For Morrison to dismiss that as being of no significance, is to trash integrity and accountability in the most terrible fashion,” Whealy proceeds, unloading on a PM who is a household weasel-word.

But the fix is in for Morrison, a man Berejiklian loathes, after much bad blood between them during the NSW bushfires and her Delta disaster. He pretends he doesn’t understand, bizarrely touting the former NSW bean-counter-cum Premier as a candidate for Warringah. Anyone who can bring both alpha and delta strains of COVID-19 into Australia is bound to win big with voters.

What’s baffling is that Gladys still has any support in NSW despite her Ruby Princess and Limousine Man track record of incompetence, evasion and self-promotion as the “Gold Standard”, a title given her by Morrison. The PM hopes to harvest Glad’s fans by boosting her stakes as a candidate, a desperate bid to boost his tanking popularity, a tactic noted by Nicholas Cowdery QC, member of the NSW Council for Civil Liberties and a former Director of Public Prosecutions for NSW.

Morrison’s perverse wooing of Gladys is also a cruel trick to let him bag ICAC calling it a kangaroo court and abusing parliamentary privilege to paint Berejiklian as the poor victim of witch hunt – and more. Spraying disinformation wildly as is his wont, he lies that the ICAC is a monster capable of

“… political vendettas, as we have seen in New South Wales with disgraceful treatment of the former premier … who was chased out of office before that even made a finding”.

“It’s absolutely outrageous,” sputters Labor’s Climate spokesperson, Chris Bowen, “the prime minister of the day has undermined the ICAC,” noting that his politicised kangaroo court smear was how the PM was undermining all independent anti-corruption bodies across the country.

Morrison’s heavily tarnished, gold standard diva, Australia’s Typhoid Mary, who let the Ruby Princess disembark and introduce the alpha strain of the virus to the nation, an act of “criminal negligence” is eclipsed by her role as “The Woman Who Saved Australia” an accolade the Australian Financial Review was soon to regret, as her government bungled vaccinating an airport chauffeur in his sixties plying a limousine ferrying aircrew between Sydney and its airport.

Her Limo-gate debacle will forever link her government with both alpha and delta strains of COVID-19 entering the country. Gladys get herself pre-selected for Warringah? Talk about recycling the trash. If Morrison pulls off this risky stunt, it will be the most cynical pivot in Australian politics.

Morrison’s muppet is being talked up as a proxy for an attack on ICAC as much as a pile-on on Zali Steggall – and all other independents across Australia, including the impressive Helen Haines whose prominence owes much to voters’ disgust at the corruption as normal routine of Coalition politics.

“Gladys was put in a position of actually having to stand down, and there was (sic) no findings of anything,” Svengali Morrison lies Friday. The facts are the premier chose to resign and ICAC’s inquiry is still in train. It has yet to hand down its findings. Morrison is in contempt of ICAC. Other stooges dutifully appear, Simon Birmingham, the Noddy in Toyland of the federal bikie gang.

“… by openly downplaying the seriousness of corruption, don’t the Liberals realise they are adding credibility to pro-integrity independent campaigns across the country? The Monthly’s Rachel Withers warns. Let’s hope Ms Withers is correct.

By Wednesday, Morrison is walking back his rhetoric, Gladys or Arthur or both have told his office it’s just not going to happen. Yet in the meantime, Morrison has used her to take a pot-shot at ICAC making great mileage out of disinformation and popular myth while normalising corruption and signalling that the NSW carbon emissions target needs to be trimmed back in line with federal policy.

The PM repeats his mantra that Gladys has not been charged with a criminal offence, wilfully obscuring the nature of the ICAC whilst narrowing the definition of corruption; restricting it to acts which are illegal. He dog-whistles the anti-vaxxers with a Bathurst analogy,

“What we’re about is getting government out of your lives, because I think Australians have had a gutful of government in their lives over the last few years, and they’re looking forward to getting back in the driver’s seat,” he lies about a Coalition which is uniquely involved in our lives.

For Jacqueline Maley there is a conundrum behind the rhetoric akin to a Zen koan.

The leader of a government lamenting government intervention is too brain-boggling a thing to ponder deeply, a sort of deep-state stoner’s dilemma: if the head of the government wants government to get out of our lives … isn’t that government telling us what to do with our lives?

Yet what if big government is actually good for us, as many respected economists suggest. What if we’d been denied, for example, the Rudd government’s $52 billion stimulus package?

This big government protected us from the recession which we know as the global financial crisis. Without big government, Australia would have suffered recession with the rest of the world.

The Australia Institute’s (TAI) Ebony Bennett reminds us how public investment, trend growth in public sector employment and household consumption drove Australia’s growth. Australia Institute polling shows most of us agree the stimulus package kept Australia from recession.

The final implication in Morrison’s rhetoric and the subtext of his key ministers in their retro campaign kick-off with its calculated swipe at regulation its salute to simple-minded hedonism is that the tap that was turned on to prime the economy during COVID-19 must now be turned off.

And although his stunts are wacky, embarrassingly corny, there is method in Morrison’s madness. He’s sowing the seeds of a simple-minded return to the world of the V8, a world in which you could burn rubber and hydrocarbon fuel like there was no tomorrow – a world with no COVID and no threat of anthropogenic climate causing irreversible global heating and our extinction.

A type of 1950s post-war Nirvana is within our grasp if politicians are allowed to go about their business growing the economy, doing deals with their mates without being pilloried by kangaroo courts. If politicians are just allowed to get on with their whatever it takes politics, Gladys Berejiklian would still be Premier of NSW. The ICAC forced her to resign, he lies, in flagrant Trumpian alternative factual zone of his own but with a petulant show of contempt for the historical record and the judiciary and the rule of law upon which our civil society is based.

Above all, Morrison’s backing of Gladys helps normalise corruption as a way of government and the price of doing business. Whilst it’s a dog-whistle to the “freedoms” mob demonstrating against being vaccinated and imported lies and conspiracies about a deep state, it is also an act of desperation born out a Machiavellian realpolitik that tells him his government needs to win at least one other seat in NSW.

“Politics is governed by the iron laws of arithmetic” his mentor Howard drily opined in an absurd reduction that helps our democracy drown in cynicism and distrust. In reality as Tony Fitzgerald argues, we need every politician to acknowledge that “membership of a political party doesn’t excuse them from their personal obligations to act honourably, and political parties to understand that voters will only vote for politicians who make and keep promises to act ethically.”

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Not a dry eye in the House as rats abandon ship

Omicron, OMG? No worries, Health Minister Greg Hunt is all abreast of the latest threat to public health, even finding time at the end of his statement to parliament to read aloud a letter from Olivia, the mother of Bella, a six-year-old girl in Koo Wee Rup, who is seriously ill, before a half-nelson clinch with bestie Josh Frydenberg as Hunt quits the Morrison government’s rapidly sinking ship; its motley crew mugged by sordid reality.

Trust Hunt to ensure his exit plan from the Morrison omnishambles includes a public back pat. Sentimentality triumphs over true feeling, particularly in a government whose PM gets high on his own schmaltz.

Treating the house to moving stories of his selfless efforts or his team’s tireless work to relieve suffering by making medication more available is Hunt’s signature and it is a fitting swan song for the self-indulgent egotist. Yet it is off-key in the context of his government’s vaccine debacle.

There is nothing wrong with alleviating the suffering of one person. But what of the five million who are known to have died worldwide of COVID-19 so far? It’s a figure likely to be only a third of the true total. Vaccine inequity is a huge global issue. Yet here we shirk our duty.

Whilst two thirds of people in wealthy countries are vaccinated, only 2.5 per cent of peoples of low-income nations are fully protected. The pandemic has, moreover, set back the work of tackling global disease and poverty

Hunt loves lashings of schmaltz. So did Charles Dickens. But, as Oscar Wilde warns, one would have to have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.

Yet there’s not a dry eye in the house as Hunt tears up as he tugs the heartstrings of his fellow empaths, woke blokes and sensitive New Age Males with a modest tale of his truly heroic procurement of compassionate access from an overseas company of a medication for Bella that would never be available in Australia and never a listed medication.

Yet is self-congratulation in order? Richard Denniss notes the “PM, his health minister and the secretary of the department of health have overseen the most expensive public policy mistakes in Australian history, but to hear Scott Morrison or Greg Hunt speak is to hear a man seeking praise for his performance. Yet their failures have cost tens of billions. Two thousand lives already. Many more must follow.

Then there’s the economic cost of the federal government’s failure to procure vaccines in a timely and adequate manner. NSW with its gold standard premier, Gladys Berejiklian, cheered on – and on – by the PM and his “team freedom” fail to contain the Delta variant. Both federal and NSW government’s COVID failures help create the third-largest quarterly decline in Australia’s economic activity in sixty years.

Beneath its veneer of inefficiency and inadequacy lies further corruption. exposed this week, in the release of a report which exposes a party rotten at the core; the rampant misogyny, bullying and frigging in the rigging, which Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins’ documents at length in her report ‘Set the Standard’ an indictment of male behaviour in parliamentary workplaces which the PM has no intention of reading, let alone heeding – preferring just to hold a copy aloft as a prop – while his MPs are all at sea over climate, energy, economic policy; baffled by a Captain barking orders which some just openly ignore. Or jump ship.

Hunt’s not the only Victorian rat to desert a ship that long since ceased to be sea-worthy. Former footballer, Damian Drum, Nationals MP for the northern Victorian electorate of Nicholls, also beats a retreat, Friday. Team Morrison is down ten members, two-thirds of a Rugby team but the PM’s game plan will stay unchanged. Labor hasn’t learned its lesson, he shrieks, claiming as Abbott did before him, that a modest increase in carbon emission targets will ruin the economy, triple the cost of the Sunday roast.

But he can’t blame Labor for his own snafu in making new laws no one needs or wants, a process fancifully dressed up as a legislative agenda.

Much fuss is made in the tamed estate of a legislative agenda getting stuck in the S-bend of the Senate, but Morrison’s agenda is the problem. It’s just unreal. Confected for its own sake. Religious discrimination is a lame way to appease a few religious conservatives who find 2021 confronting and yearn for a simpler world where God knows what’s best for us and who feel cheesed off they lost out to marriage equality in 2017.

Despite its title, the bill would promote discrimination. So it’s off to a committee for a cup of tea, a Bex and a good lie down. It’s been malingering since 2019, a bill if not an act of bad faith; a sop to gay marriage nay-sayers and other homophobes.

We have no religious discrimination – and like the government’s racist voter ID fraud law planned, it is another solution in search of a problem. Bernard Keane sums up the farce.

“The government has no actual agenda addressing issues of substance – not on climate, not on wage stagnation, not on housing affordability, not on higher education, not even on defence, where the year has been marked by a major step backward in procurement of our next generation of submarines.”

Luckily, a crisis pops up in the form of Omicron – the WHO latest “variant of concern” because it is highly infectious. It’s too early to know whether it’s deadlier than Delta but much of the fuss results from the federal government’s own failure to plan.

“We’re well-prepared and we are in the best scientific hands in the world,” Health Minister Hunt lies, the Dr Pangloss of a hands-free government of dud judgement and failure to deliver. Unless you’re talking about spin. Vacuity. Entropy. Or mindless, hyper partisanship.

Or the $10.3 billion in subsidies we paid our battling gas and coal producers last year, all part of the Liberal Party’s very postmodern interpretation of Adam Smith’s invisible hand, whereby the wealth of social goods and public benefits that flow over the beaver-dam of accumulated self-interest – are boosted heroically by a rising tide of subsidies that floats all boats and super yachts. Santos, Twiggy Forrest and Gina Rinehart never had it so good.

Twiggy Forrest’s superyacht, the Pangaea off Bundaberg

Just because there’s a pandemic on doesn’t mean you forget to look after your mates. Why waste funds on dedicated quarantine stations? OK. They do work. The Howard Springs facility is a 100 per cent success. But this is a federal government which works around the clock to dodge its federal responsibility. Evasive talking points don’t just write themselves.

“Well, I cannot control what ATAGI advises” says a PM in full flight, last July, implying he’s in a constant battle to get his scientific hands to change their advice but a new deference is apparent as Hunt does the prelude to OMG it’s Omicron, the latest show stopping number in our sensational government-drip-fed media’s Covid series, which includes such memorable performances as Wuhan Flu and Twiggy Bigs Up Test Kits, a spectacular confrontation in April 2020 between Australia’s richest man and a plutocracy he co-owns.

The Twigster gate-crashes a federal government press conference to present ten million test kits plus some PPE gear which his business links help him secure at a bargain $325 million, for which the Morrison government will reimburse him, naturally, despite initial press suggesting that the billionaire’s intervention is a philanthropic gift.

Some BGI kits are used in Victoria, but other states prefer their own tests. WA says, they weren’t needed at all, a reflection on federal government health efforts generally. The states have done all the heavy lifting, prompting some pundits to propose a new phase in commonwealth-state relations, or at least a shift in the balance of power under a weak and manifestly incompetent Prime Minister.

Hands? Let’s put our hands together for the biggest health policy disaster since federation from a government that cares not a jot about doing its job; whose dereliction of duty is matched only by its ability to cock up the simplest task. Like order vaccines. But be fair; at least Hunt’s got something right. Yep. He’s retiring to spend more time with his family.

As for Hunt’s glib lies and his incompetence, we will be paying the price for some time. The world’s “best scientific hands” help deliver us over 213,339 Covid cases. Nearly 15,000 cases are active. Two thousand and twenty-one Australians have died. Albanese’s right about the Morrison mob having two main jobs: vax and quarantine. They stuff up both.

Dutton backer, duck-‘n-cover-Hunt saw his credibility shredded well before his graveyard shift as Health Minister in a government that fails vaccine procurement and distribution whilst also evading responsibility for senior Australians; the elder abuse and neglect endemic in the nation’s corporatised aged care. Investors continue to prosper while their “clients” die. Dedicated quarantine facilities are simply another federal responsibility still in search of a responsible federal government.

As Greg legs it, we pause to reflect on his earlier incarnation as Mr Soil Magic, the MP who spruiked climate denialist, Tony Abbott’s Direct Action, boondoggle. Polluters were paid $3 billion to pursue efficiency projects which they would have implemented anyway, while soil-magic paid farmers to play-act carbon sequestration, or soil-carbon, a fantasy still popular with a National Party lining up to receive subsidies for farmers as recompense for having to agree to net-zero by 2050.

His legacy? Hunt will go down in history as the shyster who aided and abetted Tony Abbott, another IPA mining puppet in his disastrously successful crusade for the abolition of a price on carbon, a practical and effective way of curbing carbon dioxide emissions.

But it’s not as if fossil-fuel corporations don’t pony up when it comes to political donations. It’s just that they are very hard to trace. We do know from the Centre for Public Integrity that that over last twenty years, the resources sector gave at least $136.7 million to political parties and lobby groups. The real amount is many times higher. Yet this but one measure of influence in what is the owning and controlling of political decision-making.

There are lobbyists. Fund-raising dinners where corporate CEOs pay hugely to bend the ear of the minister who can help further their business interests and to hell with parliamentary democracy. What we have running the place is an oligarchy of corporate plutocrats.

Enter Clive the Dinosaur. The impossibly litigious Palmer gifts $89 million to getting the election result he wants in 2019. Big Clive is the most generous donor, but his gift is a tad one-sided. The Coalition gets over three times the amount directed to Labor, while a high disclosure threshold of $14,000 hides another estimated third of all political donations.

In effect, Australia’s federal government is a fully paid-up subsidiary of mining, banking, gambling, Big Farm and Big Pharma and allied commercial interests who get to decide climate and energy policy – and just when we open our borders to the latest WHO mutant variant of interest.

Yet all is well, as the Covid-19 pandemic proves endemic, just as experts predicted, an inevitable outcome of a world in which multinational corporate greed decrees that only the rich get vaccinated. Hapless millions have no choice but infection and becoming a giant human petri dish. Vaccination must be global if Covid is to be eliminated. Yet less than five per cent of all poor people in low-income countries have had one jab.

Hunt invokes ATAGI. We get boosters and if we can’t get boosters or they don’t work we get Omicron. But it won’t be as bad as we fear. Just like the flu bubbles Parnell McGuiness on The Drum.

Or it will be bad but we’ll get new vax.

Under the government thumb – yet only overruled when the PM disagrees – ATAGI could bring forward boosters. If we have any. Or if they work. ATAGI’s, an agile and dynamic if not svelte, advisory panel of twenty-three health experts and other interested parties. If boosters don’t work, there’s always Pfizer. Whip up a vat of vax overnight.

Outside a Morrisonian fantasy-land, Pfizer guesses it could make commercial quantities of an Omicron vaccine by March 2022. By then, the new variant will have spread everywhere.

Omicron, the latest WHO high risk Covid variant of concern will be all over the world well before Hunt remembers the paediatric vax he forgot. Greg The Unready is chief apologist, the man who is top pup on the empty tuckerbox of a Morrison policy-free government of perpetual unpreparedness and colossal bungling. And not just in failing Covid.

Who can forget the forty billion dollars the treasurer, Greg’s BFF from Kooyong gave to multi-nationals and big Australian firms that simply did not need the money?

We could have doubled Newstart for five years on forty billion.

The runs are on the board for the Morrison experiment. It’s already shown a criminal failure to provide quarantine, protect first nations’ peoples, or procure in timely fashion, vaccine for kids in a world where Covid mutates readily in populous nations such as South Africa, too poor to access vaccinations jealously hoarded by the rich. It can’t claim it wasn’t warned.

Instead, we got the shadow puppetry, a Covid Commission. Sounds potent, prudent and provident. Yet it was entirely gas-lighting, a secret cabinet committee led by a gas industry for a gas industry rich-lister nifty Nev Power, formerly Fortescue Metals CEO.

Morrison’s response to Covid has little to do with protecting public health and everything to do with private profit. The federal government gives the green light to Santos and co to guzzle even more public funds under the ruse of a “gas-led recovery.”

It’s grotesquely absurd. As TAI points out. If the Morrison government had to pick the industry least likely to help the economy, gas would have been the perfect choice. Not only does it employ few workers, its emissions help destroy our rapidly depleting atmosphere

Our federal MPs are in thrall to a mining oligarchy spruiking ecocide. It’s a rapacious, relentless, powerful elite which helps itself to resources, as in the NT intervention land grab, yet cannot prompt its Muppet government to honour its pledge to protect vulnerable, high-density extended family communities such as those in the Northern Territory.

Flash as a rat with a gold tooth, mining magnate Twiggy Forrest, is flogging green hydrogen, our robber-baron, corporate cowboy’s latest snake-oil, a product so rare that not a molecule is yet to be made. Twiggy’s butler, world-renowned liar “Pinocchio Morrison” shoots himself in both feet in international trade and diplomatic circles by scuttling our submarine deal with France. Lying. Leaking personal texts.

And then lying about lying afterwards.

Not that it stops Scotty setting up Australia’s stand at COP26, as a market stall for coal and gas – at a conference of handwringing over global warming, climate change and the need for everyone to promise to phase down but not phase out coal.

The Glasgow Climate Pact itself is a predictable let-down; a missed opportunity to address the catastrophic health impacts of the climate emergency, according to academics at the UNSW School of Population Health. They say it’s shameful.

But nothing deters Fortescue Future Industries (FFI) pitching its rocking horse manure to the world. Take a bow, mining titan Twiggy, godfather of The Indue cashless welfare card, a fantastic, plastic, social metastatic, which a Morrison government will extend to all welfare recipients. It’s a form of coercive control if not abuse.

As for abuse, Indue enables Twiggy to call The Greens, “the party for paedophiles” in 2017.

“I have to hold the Greens accountable here; the Greens might as well be the party for paedophiles, the party for child sex abusers – you’re the party of human rights and you’ve forgotten the human rights of children, just call yourself the party for paedophiles.”

Why? The Greens oppose the card which researchers say adds misery, is racist and helps only its backers, Murdoch reporters help promote Indue as the cure to sexual depravity, pornography addiction and drunken excess amongst Aboriginal communities.

In case the logic is not obvious, the Twigster alleges that because First Nations’ folk can’t budget, they fritter their income on drugs, grog and pornos, leaving children to roam the streets at night; their own kids are too frightened to be at home in their beds.

“Paedophile” arises in Howard ‘s 2007, The Northern Territory Emergency Response slur on Aboriginal culture in which paedophile rings were alleged to operate in the Northern Territory, despite ABS evidence that only 4.2% of substantiated reports for Aboriginal child abuse and neglect were for sexual abuse compared to 9.3% of non-Aboriginal NT children.

A Rumpelstiltskin in RM Williams moleskins, Forrest and his tame PM, Morrison, boast how they will spin straw into gold. Or water into hydrogen – a simple process which involves vast amounts of water and electricity. It’s so simple you could do it at home with a couple of jumper leads attached to the national grid. Try Bunnings. And a Murray Darling basin of water. Oh. And somewhere to dump toxic salt by-products.

To make 70 million tonnes of pure hydrogen per year – the current global output, you would need about one-and-a-half times as much renewable electricity as the world produces.

Funding? Part of the big picture. Build it and they will come with open cheque-books. Who cares if the Twiggy Piggy bank is empty? A mere bagatelle to a gas-captured Morrison government, which underwrites Santos’ gaslighting in Glasgow as at home.

In a post-truth, post-shame political world having nothing to sell but our souls is part of The Australian Way. And what better venue to set out our gas cartel’s stall than COP26? Certainly, the Morrison government goes out of it way to besmirch our nation’s credentials.

We are now dishonest broker, international conman, and carnival barker for the fossil fuel industry’s business as usual- exclusive greenwashing scam. Just listen to the Twigster,

“Hundreds of billions of dollars” in “implementation capital” will be “funded by the world’s greatest institutions, who must invest in humanity’s journey to a zero-carbon future.”

The green hydro hustle comes from the same mob that brought us natural gas or re-badged methane, a gas with 80 times the global warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it enters our atmosphere. Hitching our wagon to the Santos star fixes Australia’s global reputation as money-grubbing, fossil fuel grifters.

Gas prices have tripled over the last seven years as gas production tripled in Australia. It takes a fair amount of effort, not to mention skullduggery to increase the price of a product as you increase supply.

Not that we’ve been idle behind the scenes, slogging our guts out to help China and India undermine any hope of an agreement to cease burning coal. Hopes for the planet’s survival are dashed when the hoopla that is COP26 fails to agree to phase out coal or even set effective rules for global carbon trading. Shonky carbon offsets will allow fossil fuel corporations to continue polluting and global heating in dirty business as usual.

The COP is now all over bar the shouting, squabbling and bickering. Until next year in Egypt where shameless, ecocidal, climate derelicts such as Australia will be flogged with a limp lettuce leaf, if we can’t improve on the Abbott Experiment’s pathetically inadequate 2030 carbon emission reduction target to reduce emissions by between 26 and 28 per cent on 2005 levels. Yet Barnaby Joyce is keen to have the last word.

In an Abbott-like gesture of integrity, Nationals’ Santos’ stooge, Joyce, who is also currently deputy PM of Australia claims “I did not sign it.”

Not to be out-bid, the Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) – representatives of 18 gas exporting countries meet in Qatar to stick up for the fossil fuel underdog, in a statement protesting the “the ongoing reductionism and cancel culture on hydrocarbons.”

Reporters ask Joyce if his rapidly dwindling and hopelessly divided party is onboard with COP26’s lamentably diluted communique, an anti-climactic flatulence from some self-deflating whoopee cushion at the end of the Glasgow-a-go-go climate summit. At the eleventh hour, India gets the text altered from “phasing out” coal to “phasing down”.

Providing a bit of slapstick slap-down, Elvis impersonator, Michael McCormack, upbraids Rinehart cowboy, Barnaby. Points out that anything the PM signs on behalf of the secret squirrel coalition that poses as a federal government automatically entails the assent of its junior partner. Given his PM’s capacity to pivot on submarine deals, Mick-Mack’s either a very brave or foolish ex-deputy. This will not end well for either MP.

Above the squalor of our Nationals’ barney a Santos’ float with blue and green LEDs showcases the wholesome new miracle fuel like some type of gelati vending machine.

Australia attracts gold diggers. Led by the US and the UK, other economies invest $4 trillion here, mostly in mining, followed by real estate and finance. We rely on foreign investment, DFAT is quick to tell us, to reach our “economic potential”, but let’s not confuse what fuels our economy with our right to a fair and decent society. Or pretend that economic imperialism is The Australian Way and not a global neoliberal tyranny. Above all is the reality that we are a neocolonial tributary state.

Ironically, the ambitiously bellicose Peter Dutton, eager to declare war on China, warns hacks at his Press Club harangue that China sees Australia as a “tributary state.” It doesn’t wish to occupy us, he says, but rather wants us to “refrain from making sovereign decisions and acting in [our] self-interest.” China is right, Mr Dutton but not in the way you would prefer us to believe. Our masters are the US and the UK and have been for as long as we began to be profitable to them.

Above all, while our PM or his Thatcherite treasurer babble about open markets and invisible hands, there’s nothing fair about market forces dominated by oligarchs or duopolies and monopolies. As most of our markets are. Before we even get to our corrupted government providing handouts to prop up uneconomic fossil fuels.

Government subsidies, to Santos, for example, permit it to continue business as usual, fracking and extracting, while its carbon capture and storage conjuring show, “a very elegant project” permits it to continue making methane while banking tax-payer subsidies or carbon credits because CCS.

Our rulers’ Neoliberal faith in market forces means that investors generally get what they want, while increasingly, middle- and working-class Australians miss out. Our lives are relentlessly impoverished, each year, as capital swells investors’ profits while leaving workers an ever -shrinking share of the economic pie.

That “can do capitalism,” our Prime mining muppet, Scott Morrison’s keen to embrace is increasingly a story of foreign investment largely out of Luxembourg, The British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and other notorious tax havens.

Our neo-colony has also been seen as a cornucopia of fleece, beef, mutton, butter, wheat; hailed as a virtual workers’ paradise where Jack was as good as his master if not better, the antipodes of an Old World of class and privilege and a post-war place of refuge, a dream shattered during the eastern colonies’ depression of the 1890s.

But not today. Now we are the untrustworthy Australian, shunned after boat-stopper Morrison, mining corporation shill to the world goes full Cobargo in his own anti-charm offensive at the G20 pow-wow and its after-party, the COP26, where almost 200 heads of state see our PM publish Emmanuel Macron’s personal text then lie about its contents, while he is first of our PMs to leak a confidential security briefing against a sitting US President.

Morrison’s already abused the G7 gabfest in Cornwall to leak a list of 14 grievances Beijing has with Australia, including restrictions on foreign investment decisions based on national security grounds, government funding for Sinophobic think tanks, and hostile reporting by Australian media.

What could possibly go wrong?

First, there is the Morrison government’s abuse of a world convention on curbing carbon emissions as an excuse to flog fossil fuels, along with that naff Santos stall promoting carbon, capture and storage, (CCS), a notorious scam.

Twiggy Forrest’s artisanal, hand-crafted, bijou, behemoth, Fortescue Future Industries is also there along with NBN genius, Fizza Turnbull, AO, conscripted to explain how we’ll all be saved by Twiggy’s green hydrogen, despite his having no financial backing apart from a $500m pledge from Fortescue Metals on a project he talks up to cost hundreds of billions of dollars from anonymous investors and despite it not having produced a single droplet yet.

The investors have no names. There is not even indicative funding. It is FFI funded by NFI. Joe Aston scoffs in the AFR. But none of this stops the Twig from taking multi-billion pound orders for a product which doesn’t exist, has never been developed commercially and for which there is nothing but hot air in place of the cold cash of capital investment.

But it’s a great story in which heroic, humanitarian, eco-friendly, mining companies will brew up a bit of brown hydrogen and use it for a while, let’s say fifty years, before some lab invents a way to switch to blue hydrogen – or like the mouldy old orange that invented Fleming’s penicillin, then abracadabra up will jump, green hydrogen like Athene born fully armed from the head of Zeus.

Expect Green Hydrogen about the same time as CCS, elctrolyser technology and interplanetary travel become as cheap as chips. No wonder purists at Glasgow take offence. But how good is Forrest’s bait and switch scam?

“So, voters and investors might think they’re getting green hydrogen funded by Covid-19 relief packages, but they are actually being propositioned with polluting blue hydrogen, and will most likely end up with more brown hydrogen,”

write Alex Grant and Paul Martin in their paper Hydrogen is Big Oil’s Last Grand Scam.

Above, all, there is our clandestine love-in with China, India and Russia in which we punch above our weight; helping abort both gatherings of world leaders’ aims to phase out coal, an obstruction, helped no end, by five hundred reps from fossil fuel corporations.

Morrison can brag that not everyone’s giving us the bum’s rush. China, India and Russia are all over us like a rash even if it’s just cupboard love. And selective.

The land of Oz, an oligarchy of Big Miners backed by Rupert Murdoch’s army of hacks and flacks, wins Colossal Fossil Award as COP 26 winds up in chilly Glasgow – not that our PM and sidekick Taylor even hang around.

Minister Keith Pitt calls it an economic win. Australian mines won’t have to close. Within hours, Energy and Emissions Reduction Minister Angus Taylor and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne cut up ugly in a pugnacious statement making it clear the government would not lift a finger to better its inadequate 2030 goal.

Multinational Muppet Morrison and his sidekick, fellow fossil fuel fanboy, Round Upper of rare, native grasses and Lord of Murray-Darling rorts, Angus Taylor, rush home to tell lies about Australia’s path to net zero. This translates as business as usual – we’ll actually increase our carbon emissions while, presto, the magic of CCS will suddenly start working; prove itself worth the six billion dollars we’ve already wasted on it.

Not that there is anything but gratitude from our Big Australian trans-national mining corporate party donors who are a hawking, talking, driverless truckload of promotion for what Morrison now calls can-do capitalism evoking old pal, Campbell Newman.

Our fossil fuel industry is a magic pudding. It banks $115 billion from selling Australia’s petroleum and coal resources in 2019-20. It pays state and federal governments $7.3 billion in royalties. Yet, in 2020-21, it gets over $10.7 billion in subsidies, reports Michael West Media’s Callum Foote citing The Australia Institute’s analysis of state budget papers.

Morrison bangs on about how private sector “can-do capitalism,” not government policy, will be crucial to cutting carbon emissions. Provided it is a fabulously well subsidised ward of the state. He hopes to further politicise climate change to win the next election.

“Glasgow has marked the passing of the baton from targets and timetables … to private enterprise and the millions of dispersed decisions, flashes of inspiration, which make up consumer-led technological progress,” he bullshits the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VECCI) on Wednesday, a hotbed of innovation, disruptive change and subversion of the dominant paradigm.

“We believe climate change will ultimately be solved by can-do capitalism … (not) governments seeking to control people’s lives.”

See what he does there? Someone on ABC Insiders credits Morrison with tapping into lockdown anger, something largely manufactured by the Murdoch gutter press – and like transitioning from brown to green hydrogen – fuelling a miracle election victory.

Morrison will be lucky to be around to hear the outcome of our betrayal of our Pacific neighbours as we choose self-interest, profit and plunder by siding with China, India and Russia at the G20 in Rome against a proposal by the UK and EU countries to pledge to phase out coal production.

Australia’s shores are girt by sea; lapped by an azure Pacific, a vast body of water bigger than all the world’s land masses and islands combined, whose rising seas will drown our Pacific Island neighbours on whom we rely to pick pears in Orrvale and harvest stone fruit in Maroopna and where Vanuatu is out to sue the fossil-fuel corporations responsible and the governments that enabled them.

Australia’s representatives steal away like a thief in the night from COP26, a conference based on the need to co-operate, but not because they are shamed but because they believe that the planet can wait.

The federal government’s contempt for global co-operation, humanity and for climate science is brazen. Nothing is more important than winning the next election. And serving the fossil-fuel oligarchs who rule us through their wholly-owned subsidiary, the Liberal National Coalition.

Yet what neither may have counted on is the Morrison government’s rapid disintegration through ineptitude and acute dysfunction combining with its record of betrayal over COVID to keep any of its promises; discharge its responsibilities. Add in the seamy underbelly revealed in the release of Kate Jenkin’s report, an expose of toxic masculinity and bullying guaranteed to alienate women voters. Despite all of Clive Palmer’s money and anti-Labor lies it may be in for a big shock at the ballot box.


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COP26, Boris and Scotty’s cop-out, just a lot of hot air in the end?

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. Carl Sagan

On a clear spell in a chilly November day in Glasgow, on Clyde’s bonnie banks, you can see all the way to the end of the world; hear the crack of doom in distant thunder, if you are Boris Johnson, climate denialist turned climate evangelist, who is a half-hour late to his own convention where he seeks to whip up urgency in curbing greenhouse emissions before we fry our little blue dot of a planet to a crisp.

“Eco-Warrior”, Boris, as ITV’s Robert Peston dubs the Tory PM, is a Damascene convert, an epiphany courtesy of third wife, Carrie, (much as our own ScoMo, architect of the unlawful Robo-debt, extort-the-poor-scheme despite his lies of denial, gets his Jen-lens to clarify empathy), appears before the multitude as a hot-eyed zealot, a mop-headed prophet who peers out over a choppy sea of greenwash as 122 (almost all male) heads of state and their digital wallahs check texts, email and mining markets on smartphones in the Twenty-Sixth United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, 31 October-12 November 2021.

Welcome to COP26, the curtain raiser for the last call for the End of the World, where trade fair and carnival seek to upstage our finest, noblest, minds, as a serious gathering of world leaders and negotiators is hi-jacked; press-ganged aboard the comic floating opera of a show, with a star cast including a grotesque mix of rent seekers, hangers-on and political wannabes warns Nine Newspapers Bevan Shields.

Thirty-thousand turn up -about a third of those who would have liked to attend -had there not been a pandemic to contend with. Or if transport were not an issue. Or they weren’t too poor. Or from the South. And if organisers had been able to provide wheelchair access.

Israeli Energy Minister, Karine Elharrar, who has muscular dystrophy, is left stranded outside in the damp, chill Clydeside air of greater Glasgow in her wheelchair.

Little wonder that COP26 is decried as the most exclusionary climate summit ever. What is surprising is that we expected better from a Johnson government. Like the UK PM’s opening speech, things seem flung together at the last minute. Or not at all. Boris is like our own PM in his tendency toward word salad when given occasion to speak. Both struggle to consistently produce joined-up thinking in public.

Neither seem capable of organising a cup of tea without a special commission of inquiry. Despite being host, Boris himself cannot even stay awake during the summit.

Unlike earlier COPS where leaders such as our own, Kevin Rudd, arrived late but stayed until stumps, working into the wee hours, drafting communiques and getting “ratfucked by Chinese ratfuckers(Copenhagen 2009), most opt to attend the opening gabfest; get snapped and papped before they nick off early.

Or are laughed out of town, as liars whose polyester viscose pants are on fire as in Morrison’s sensational own goal with Macron, in which ScoMo leaks personal texts to prove how trustworthy he is, an act of duplicity helped by inviting Santos to set up its Carbon Capture and Storage disinformation display.

Seriously, how good is leaking a private text to a Murdoch newspaper when you want to win public trust and confidence? Little wonder Morrison rushes home to break out the Hi-Viz and hard hats, snag a gaggle of Nationals and head for mining electorates in NSW. Feel the love of the campaign trail.

World time is one minute to midnight by the doomsday clock, Carrie Johnson’s latter-day Cassandra, Boris, warns in press drops. Moments later, her prophet opts for a soccer analogy. “We’re 1-5 at half time.” Nothing prosecutes your case so well as a metaphor mixture of Christian theology and football paganism.

Yet Johnson’s audience fidgets long after the seer makes his late arrival. Why a thirty-minute delay if every moment counts? Perhaps, like our own PM, Boris’ policy-free abyss engulfs him. Brexit turns from heroic act of sovereign independence into an Aldi of empty shelves. Waitrose, Sainsbury’s and Tesco have single lines of products to disguise bare shelves. Entire aisles vanish. Winter approaches with no gas to heat homes. No petrol is a worry but no beer?

At least Boris got Brexit done as his campaign slogan had it. But what of things undone? Is the human toll of his disastrous “Freedom Day”, 40,000 Covid cases and 200 deaths per day and rising getting to him? Has Johnson lost confidence in his own leadership? It’s not easy at the top.

You couldn’t blame Johnson for feeling mortified by his catastrophic failure to close the border with India. It has made the UK the Delta variant capital of Europe. Being the cause of so much sickness, so many unnecessary deaths, such suffering, must be hard to live with. Boris has blood on his hands. Scott Morrison and The Ruby Princess, Gladys Berejiklian, his Lady Macbeth, must suffer similar self-reproach.

The Ruby Princess is Australia’s biggest single source of COVID-19 infection.

Mortification and remorse, however, require a conscience. Maturity. A sense of moral responsibility. No evidence exists for any of this in the wanton Boris, who has more than deceit, ineptitude and egomania in common with his empathy bypass pal, Scott, “I’ve just learned not to care,” Morrison.

Boris may, of course, run habitually late just as part of his assiduously cultivated Bozo persona, a thoroughly postmodern performance artist, like our Scott Morrison, who stands for nothing other than his own self-promotion, but with an act of such wacky vacuity it disguises his political guile; his ruthless dispatch of his opponents.

We know the type. Our daggy Dad, ScoMo, loves to pose with Sri Lankan curry ingredients or a Bunnings’ kit hutch, he reckons is a henhouse, power tools or other products to pretend he’s a wholesome, homemaker – an aspiring tradie (amen) instead of a world-renowned liar, a bully and a climate recalcitrant.

“Morrison’s own worst traits have been on full display since Rome: the slipperiness, the spin, the smirk, the failure to listen, the aggression, the blustering self-justification, the shifting of grounds and above all the faux conflation of himself with the Australian people,” The Mandarin’s Verona Burgess notes.

Faux conflation? Deceit always returns to its master, as they say in France. Macron takes pains to distinguish his contempt for Morrison from his great respect for the Australian people.

L état, c’est moi is an apocryphal conceit attributed to Louis XIV, the Sun King whose power was extensive, as were his achievements. His palace at Versailles still stands today. Morrison and Johnson, on the other hand, are dangerous, vainglorious louts both at home and abroad.

ScoMo’s Glasgow sideshow is embarrassingly woeful. First up in the Australian Pavilion, is Santos’ Carbon Capture and Storage Scam, one key to the Morrison government’s net zero by 2050, a vow it boasts won’t be mandated. Delegates mock both display and plan. Malcolm Turnbull, who attends as chair of the Fortescue Future Industries, is scathing,

It’s “a pity” Australia had not signed up to the methane pledge, Turnbull points out and “a joke” that Santos had been given prime placement. “Look at the Australian stand – you’ve got a gas company highlighted apparently at the insistence of the energy minister, who thinks that our energy policy should be all about burning gas,” he says. “The whole object is to stop burning fossil fuels.”

Australia’s PLAN is puerile. Carbon emissions will be a thing of the past because CCS will magically start to work even though it’s been exposed as a hoax by the coal industry itself. Or someone will come up with something. Somehow. Hi-tech. The Micawber principle. Something’s bound to turn up.

Perhaps DFAT could resurrect Julie Bishop’s innovation hub, her “gorgeous little funky, hipster, Googly, Facebooky-type place”. DFAT paid $1700 for three bean bags. The hub has innovated itself out of existence, since her departure from politics.

Our painfully lame display is, ironically, juxtaposed with Curb Methane promoting The Global Methane Pledge to cut by 30% emissions of methane, a gas far more damaging being eighty times more powerful than CO2 in the first twenty years, which has rapidly increased its presence in the atmosphere since 2007 when CSG fracking became widespread. Accounting for 30% of methane released into the atmosphere are sheep farts and cow burps. The plastic in our oceans is also believed to be a source of methane but it is less easy to calculate how much.

Unlike CO2 reduction, a slow, process, public health benefits of just curbing methane would appear in twenty years. Climate in just ten. But Australia refuses to sign the pledge to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030. Morrison’s gas-led recovery stunt, a front for Liberal gas industry donors to boost profits which is certain to increase consumer gas bills, on the other hand, will inevitably increase methane leakage.

Of course, Johnson’s got other things on his mind, along with the scandal of who paid what and when for the £200,000 renovation of Boris and Carrie’s 11 Downing St flat, (customarily reserved for the Chancellor), with its gold wallpaper at £840 per roll, not only, decadence itself, surely, but something which simply would not stick to the walls.

Much as Boris would love to stay, he can’t stick around either. Has to dash away; leave his own climate conference by private jet, to dine at the boys-only Garrick Club with veteran climate denialist and former Daily Telegraph boss, whom Boris appointed a Peer only last year, Lord Charles Moore.

Keeping your audience waiting half an hour, when your theme is urgency sends its own message. As does jetting away to dine with a chap who opposes everything COP26 stands for. Even keynote speaker, the earnest Prince Charles wishes his mother had been well enough to open the show. His father would be turning in his grave.

Whilst the peerless naturalist David Attenborough provides his own, uniquely moving, heartfelt testimony to species depletion and extinction in a warming world, Tory organisers might reconsider their reliance on the Royal family. Inspired and inspiring as it may be, to many, its circumstances and its carbon footprint are problematic.

England’s greenest royal spins his fourteenth century handcrafted feudal birthright as a model village, where six hundred, New Age loyal tenants tend self-sustaining, mixed farms amok with organic, free-range, hand-reared mutton, beef and pork.

Charles’ modern-day serfs put on a jolly good show of course. They’re a Potemkin village of beekeeping, cheese-making and weaving to pay rent whilst tugging their forelocks, “Thankee kind sir”, in rustic, homespun smocks and sturdy, handmade wooden clogs, the length and breadth of his Duchy of Cornwall, a modest 52,789 hectares which spill across 23 counties chiefly in the South-west of England where temperatures now can reach 31°C. But during Boris’ harangue, Charles frowns at his iPhone.

Is there a hitch with the 2,500 housing estate the duchy is to build in the Faversham countryside?

Managing to live on £20 million pounds a year is tough. The prince must provide £6 million PA for his heirs, for example. Luckily, his housekeeping money is topped up from the £90 million Sovereign Grant his Mum gets from government to help defray expenses the kids may incur on official business. Like COP26. There’s been a rise of 26% recently. Imagine that in the average worker’s pay packet.

It’s not easy being a Windsor. But a green Windsor is a real stretch. The Royals clock up 3,810 tonnes of CO2 a year in their combined carbon footprint, whilst their subjects average only ten tonnes. Charles and Camilla, alone, notch up 400 tonnes in their private jetting about hither and yon.

Yet help is on its way. Divesting. Coutts, private banker to Elizabeth II and family, promises to drop its investments in tar sands/oil sands, Arctic oil and gas exploration, thermal coal extraction and generation, and to reduce the carbon intensity of its holdings 25% by year’s end. Every bit counts.

On the other hand, special arrangements are made for a Queen “whose lawyers very recently lobbied the Scottish government in secret to change a draft law to exempt her private estates from a major carbon-cutting initiative?… [making her] … the only landowner in the whole of Scotland who doesn’t have to facilitate renewable energy pipelines on her various estates in the country.”

One does what one can of course. Charles’ fifty-year-old, Aston Martin is converted to run on bioethanol brewed from “surplus English white wine and whey from the cheese process”. Other cars run on biodiesel made from recycled cooking oil.

But Boris takes the apocalyptic view. Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, (friends and family call him Al), Little Britain’s class clown in a fright wig and bespoke suit is Crosby/Textor’s current UK PM. Better late than never, he does his crowd warm-up gig at COP26, a liar’s convention where nations such as Norway, Australia, the USA and the fast-fraying Gordian knot of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, all foregather to feign public shows of concern and vow to cut emissions, while leaving minions to beaver away at home, licensing ever more oil, coal and gas for export.

If, like Boris, you are a bigwig, you try to snag a headline early, before you nick off home, to pat yourself and your pals on the back for saving the planet, as The Guardian’s John Crace notes. The whoopie cushion of UK politics, Boris does it with his clever doomsday crack and the odd, irresistible, fart joke about cows and methane.

Young delegates from several continents look on in “silent, muted, disgust”, reports The Civil Servant in The Guardian. Much of what Boris says offends his audience. But then, as Crace reminds us, Boris doesn’t do gravitas. “They had come for gravitas, and he was just too lightweight, too flippant, too obviously amoral for not just the most serious but also the only game in town.”

Lightweight, amoral Australia is already up and running in the breach of protocol and offensive behaviour stakes. The Santos stall says it all. Morrison is concerned purely with his own political advantage, linked inextricably to the fossil fuel industry at every level from staffing his own office to decisions taken by his Covid Commission, his government’s supposed gas-led recovery. But there’s ever the need for public, self-promotion.

Our own Crosby/Textor PM, Scott John Morrison breaks early in the race to the headline by releasing private texts from Emmanuel Macron when France’s President calls him a liar.

Morrison lies that the texts show that France knew well in advance that we were going to dump it for the US, ending abruptly our submarine romance, a dalliance based originally on a flawed plan to win the SA seats of Sturt and Boothby. Whatever it cost. Such is the making of our national security.

For Niki Savva, Morrison’s Nine News nemesis, the texts do nothing of the sort. True. But it is Scott Morrison. No-one expects Morrison to do anything but lie. Is Savva not savvy to the power of negative advertising? Morrison’s confected stoush with Macron gets him world headlines. In fact, he’s gone for the trifecta.

“In an extraordinary diplomatic feat, Morrison has somehow managed to have China, France and the United States offside simultaneously. It’s an outstanding trifecta, when the Chinese refuse to talk to you, the American President thinks you are a boofhead and the French President calls you a liar.”

Similarly, a clip of his talk to an empty room, Tuesday goes viral on Weibo when in a Freudian slip, Morrison urges “global momentum to tackle China” He means to say, “climate change”.

State-run Guancha.Com reacts swiftly to condemn Morrison. “He doesn’t have a passion to protect the environment but does have anti-China passion under the name of protecting environment,” its opinion piece says. “This episode is the actual reflection of his mind.”

As befits any convocation to save humanity, COP26 is beset with hi-tech wizardry. First up, is a manic video clip, the sales promo shock and awe, assault on hearts and minds type of attention -grabber, barely six minutes long so as not to tax the harried, multi-tasking modern statesman’s attention span.

“Action, this day,” concludes Earth to COP26 a frenzied splicing of fire, flood, freak tide and high wind climate change disaster porn, an offensive of Anthropocene woe intercut with lovely images of dolphins, kids, folk in ethnic rig and a magnificent, endangered, sacred, Kyrgyzstan snow leopard to offer hope.

Hope an endangered planet can rid itself of 28 gigatonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere in eight years if global heating is to be kept to 1.5°C. Hope we survive our coal-fired catastrophe begotten out of modern global capitalism and the fruits of cotton field slavery by an industrial revolution which began in Eighteenth Century Britain. Hope that we are not, already, beyond hope; a species so toxic we have triggered Gaia’s final act of revenge, our own extinction.

Sea levels are steadily rising, while freak weather brings heatwaves, torrential rains, wildfires, floods and droughts ever more often and each more dire, warn chief scientific advisers and presidents of national science academies of over 30 nations.

“Climate modelling indicates that with every fractional increase in warming, these effects will get worse with all countries vulnerable. It’s one minute to midnight by the doomsday clock” thunders Johnson, a hint of John Cleese as Headmaster, in Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life chiding errant pupils of the Lower Fifth for being inattentive to his practical demonstration sex education class.

Boris is so excited by his own sententious exhortation that he is seduced into bathos; adding a gratuitous “and we need to act now.”

Wise men speak when they have something to say. Fools speak when they have to say something.

If only BoJo’s performative oration, (which some adjudge one of his best – OK it comes off a low base), remotely matched what his government’s actually doing in its recent humbugger of a budget. Or its re-opening of coalmines.

Neoliberal UK Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, dances to the beat of one invisible hand clapping. Tells Brits, their only hope lies in growth. Paving the way, he doles out more money for roads which he says will boost industrial expansion and a cut in taxes on domestic flights.

Jet engines add only two percent to our greenhouse gas emissions. Charles can easily squeeze in a few more trees to offset that. Brazil’s Bolsonaro can stop clear-felling Amazon rainforest. Or we just won’t buy any more coffee. That trade deal with Australia will save Britain’s bacon.

As to trade, however, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) estimates the boost from the Australia agreement at around 0.01 per cent of GDP. Meanwhile, live data, on the other hand supports its expectation of a 15 per cent fall in trade with the EU. Brexit has been all cost and no benefit.

A stiff telling-off is just the ticket. Always change the topic. Imagine, the legions of dreary Heads; masters, mistresses and other public finger-waggers who have imprinted the need to chide on the subconscious of our Boris, a PM of Olympian ineptitude who, like our own Prime Hypocrite, Mendacity Morrison, makes it his business to lecture others on acting while doing as little as possible himself.

Of the $2 billion ScoMo boasts about for bushfire relief, for example, victims have yet to receive a cent, reports The Monthly’s Nick Feik. Its bushfire fund turns out to be another lie, a type of fiction, which boffins tell Senate Estimates, is a “notional entity”.

Morrison, a liar’s liar, attends Glasgow only to continue the fight he picks with France at the G20 – and to peddle fossil fuels. He puts out his stall as a fully paid-up member of The Coal Club. Standing up for The Australian Way means siding with other coal club members, more notorious, human rights abusers who make our own gulag of indefinite detention centres, our systemic, endemic racism, and our zeal to expand state surveillance and quash dissent appear trivial by comparison.

We join India, China and Russia in blocking a push at the G20 in Rome by the UK and EU countries to commit to phasing out coal production. Poland withdraws its pledge later. Our government floats a $250 billion coal mine funding facility.

To flog coal and gas at a climate convention takes chutzpah. Who else to help than road-show buddy, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction and sticking it to Clover Moore, Angus, “air miles” Taylor. Morrison plays the plucky little digger from down under who sticks up for his fair young country’s reputation against international depravity and that vulgarian, Macron’s ugly departure from protocol.

Our National Interest is at stake. Just in case anyone notices Australia’s a pariah at any climate convention. Our PM abominates sledging, as anyone watching Question Time can attest.

Several embedded hacks bag Emmanuel Macron for speaking English and daring to call our PM a liar, “I don’t think, I know” Macron’s immortal response to being asking if he thinks that Morrison is a liar. The utterance is unprecedented in public exchanges between heads of state. Attempts to explain it away as just a form of electioneering, a stunt to win votes at home miss how great a breach of protocol it is.

As Christopher Warren notes in Crikey, the narrative is now all about the election. It matters not a jot that the coalition’s disgraced the nation at COP26 with its shameful inability to come up with a policy to reduce emissions. It’s OK if it promotes business as usual for coal and gas because of CCS, a failed technology which puts billions into mining corporation pockets.

So what if it will settle instead for a plan to have a plan based on the hope that others will invent stuff? Not only have we got coal and gas in the mix, above all we’ll market it as The Australian Way. What matters is whether it will be enough to let Morrison just squeak an election victory. We must, at all opportunity resist this facile reduction.

An international laughing-stock who has given offence to three powerful nations, Morrison returns home with his reputation in tatters. His government will never be trusted by any other nation. It’s the most disastrous trip overseas ever taken by an Australian PM. Above all he’s been called out for what he is, a liar.

Morrison’s so used to lying at home and getting away with it given this nation’s tamed corporate media monopoly that he is furious that he’s been called on it – and by another leader, no less who has put the lie to his attempt to lie about his lie. The text the PM’s office released to media does not corroborate Morrison’s claim that France knew all along that Australia would go back on its word and abandon its contractual commitment.

While the UN’s COP26 may prove disappointing in its capacity to achieve binding commitments from enough nations to cut carbon emissions enough to keep to the 1.5 degree increase in temperature agreed in Paris, on a local level it has been of great benefit to Australia in exposing to the world the duplicity and dishonesty of its mining corporation puppet-government. Forget the hard hat and Hi-Vis, Morrison and his corrupt, rorty government of gas pipeline boondoggles and new coal mines are toast.

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