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How good are jobs? How wrong is Morrison and his government?

How good are jobs?

Only ScoMo, “Ya Radge Orange Barmpot’s” number one fan-boy Down Under could find something to crow about in Wednesday’s dismal ABS June Labour Force statistics showing jobs and hours worked are down. Yet statistics, fail to reveal the realities of wage theft, wage slavery, bullying and other types of coercion and exploitation, such as Neil Perry’s chef, Rohit Karki’s, working twenty-hour shifts, day after day at The Rockpool Bar and Grill.

Rohit Karki earned twelve dollars an hour. Unable to get home and back in time, he slept on a pastry bench between shifts. Unpaid overtime is common. Australians work an average of six hours’ overtime unpaid each week. That’s $106bn of free work given to bosses every year according to The Australia Institute’s research published last November.

Australia suffers from an epidemic of overwork while other workers suffer underemployment; need more hours. Then there’s increasing wage-slavery.

Celebrity chef Perry was keen to resolve” payroll issues in October last year. He said that Rockpool, which employs 2400 staff and has a payroll of $100 million would backpay its workers $1.6 million to reconcile wages arrears. Words are cheap.

Wage theft is uniquely privileged in being treated not as a crime but as some absent-minded oversight. Imagine if Rockpool missed a bank payment of $1.6 million? Or if a party of guests left without paying the bill? Why do workers’ rights not have the same status? Perry’s announcement does nothing to remedy Karki’s predicament.

Karki is forced to make a federal court claim for six years of alleged underpayment. Originally from Nepal, his work conditions got a lot worse, he says, after he secured a 457 visa sponsorship in 2013. When he complains, he is bullied by a senior chef into taking on the work of three staff members; pressured into resigning.

How good is Karki’s job – and all the other hopeful, migrant workers he represents?

“This is another Dickensian example of wage theft and exploitation of vulnerable workers that is all too common in the hospitality industry,” says Maurice Blackburn Principal, Josh Bornstein, who is representing Karki. Exploitation can also mean underpayment of penalty rates, superannuation and leave entitlements. Industry Super estimates, for example, that one-third of our workers are underpaid super; 2.4 million Aussie workers have $3.6 million per year stolen from them each year.

News of Rohit Karki’s case comes in the same week as Fair Work Ombudsman, Sandra Parker orders celebrity chef, George Calombaris, to pay $200,000 in a “contrition payment”, a penalty which she makes clear, on ABC 774, is “not a fine”. Calombaris must repay the $7.8m he owes workers and also appoint an external auditor to check pay and conditions until 2022. In an almost totally de-unionised hospitality workforce, exploitation is typically unreported. Bullying and intimidation are rife.

In 2018, the Fair Work Office (FWO) investigated 243 restaurants and cafes it targeted in Glebe in Sydney, Victoria St in Melbourne and Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, reports Crikey’s, Bernard Keane. It found wage theft in 38% of these eateries. Over 600 workers were owed $470,000 in unpaid wages. By comparison, the underpayment rate across all industries is around 27%. Something is broken in hospitality.

“Reform” may be on its way. With ScoMo’s miracle mandate, the Productivity Commission could revive its 2015 push to do away with awards and give workers an “enterprise agreement” instead. No time-wasting negotiating, just issue an ultimatum. Tell workers to take it or leave it. If we look at hospitality we are already there. Higher numbers of visa migrant workers make hospitality a much easier workforce to exploit.

Fast-tracking applications from workers on skilled migrant visas are one of the Morrison government’s election pledges. If nothing changes, we can expect more injustice, more inhumanity and suffering among our nation’s most vulnerable group of workers.

Yet hospitality workers are not alone. Wage theft has become routine in certain sections of the nation’s workforce reports the ACTU; the exploitation of workers is now a business model. Agriculture, meat processing, retail and accommodation also all have a high incidence of underpayment of low paid workers. And it hurts, notes the ACTU,

“When low-wage workers are cheated out of even a small percentage of their income, it can cause major hardships like being unable to pay for rent, childcare, or put food on the table. Above all, such wage theft is an injustice that demeans; degrades us all.

Wage theft from low paid workers is also detrimental to society, as it contributes to widening income inequality, wage stagnation, and low living standards—interrelated problems that drive inequality in our society.”  

The ACTU argues that businesses such as 7 Eleven, Caltex, Pizza Hut, Dominos, Red Rooster and others must take responsibility for their flawed business models which invite wage theft and other exploitative practices. It notes that the government does nothing to address wage theft, or the integrity of employers. Instead, this fortnight, it aims to reintroduce Ensuring Integrity, a bill which attacks working people; an act of anti-union extremism that makes it unique in the western world.

Minister for alerting media to AFP raids on the AWU and other union-bashing acts, Michaelia Cash, stashes her whiteboard; joins fellow intractable, “Rottweiler” Morrison in a photo-opp spin and grin. Both smile maniacally on every news.  How good are their jobs? “All credit no responsibility,” says Karen Andrews in thought-bubble of the week.

“Leadership doesn’t mean taking responsibility,” Industry, Science and Technology (and trashing the Westminster system), Minister Andrews declares. It could be ScoMo’s motto. No sign on her desk like Harry S Truman’s spelling out “the buck stops here”.

Politicians serve a wider community and so should always consider others and have their best interests at heart, political economist and sociologist, Max Weber argued in 1919… without responsibility, the politician becomes selfish and interested first in their own careers and goals. Vanity and narcissism tend to reduce responsibility …

Australia’s jobless rate is tanking; plummeting below seventeen other OECD countries. Ninth in 2013, according to World Bank figures, we drop to 13th in 2016. Now we are 18th out of 36 on the latest ABS figures – and falling fast. No-one in MSM reports it.

Only a Morrison government can grin and spin such monumental failure. Unemployment is up from 4.8% to 5.2% in a few months, despite the Coalition hype that it’s steady. As housing slows in NSW and Victoria, expect it to reach 5.5%

Seasonally adjusted, only five hundred new jobs were created across the nation in June, despite market forecasts of 10,000. Monthly hours worked in all jobs also fall by 100,000 hours seasonally adjusted. Bernard Keane and Glen Dyer note some growth but at a slower rate than May.

How good are these jobs? It depends on what and where they are. The mindless repetition of statistics is never accompanied by any acknowledgement of the declining quality of jobs.

Australia has one of the highest shares (13%) of employees working in short part-time jobs (defined as working 1-19 hours per week) among OECD countries, together with the Netherlands (21%), Denmark (15%) and Switzerland (13%).

One in four workers are in casual employment. Over half of all casual workers report they have no guaranteed hours, reports the OECD’s latest employment outlook. 36% of Australian jobs face a significant or high risk of automation.  This means that a sizeable share of workers will need to re-skill or re-train to meet the needs of future jobs.

Labor notes that of the 2.6 million casuals in Australia, more than half have been with their current employer for 12 months and 192,000 for more than 10 years. In April former Labor leader Bill Shorten proposed that workers with a year’s employment with their current employer should be entitled to ask to be made permanent. Doubtless, the proposal, along with Labor’s push for a rise in the minimum wage remains Opposition policy, yet it will be anathema to the Morrison government. Why make any changes when everything is working so well?

Pretence, subterfuge and denial come as easily to our PM as lying and racism comes to his mentor, Donald Trump. The PM lets everyone know he has a hot dinner date with his BFF 19 September. MSM repeat Scomo’s spin that it’s some type of honour to be feted by an increasingly desperate, dangerously degenerate president, who not only has no grasp of the issues but no interest in acquiring one, a populist who would declare war on Iran merely if it improved his re-election prospects.

Yet it’s an auspicious date, not only is it National Gymnastics Day in America, it is also International Talk Like a Pirate Day. This augurs well for ScoMo to offer immediate, unquestioned support – Aye Aye Cap’n to whatever it is his advisers let Trump do to Iran. Or be the ship’s parrot. Trump’s gymnastics, on the other hand, are noted by Roger Cohen who begins a fair and objective appraisal in The New York Times.

President Trump has been all over the place on Iran, which is what happens when you take a serious subject, treat it with farcical superficiality, believe braggadocio will sway a proud and ancient civilization, approach foreign policy like a real estate deal, defer to advisers with Iran Derangement Syndrome, refuse to read any briefing papers and confuse the American national interest with the Saudi or Israeli.

Aware that finesse is needed to resist ScoMo’s subtle sweet-talk, Donald Trump is clearly already training hard for his meeting with our miracle worker by calling London’s mayor Sadiq Khan “an incompetent” and “a stone-cold loser”.

Diplomacy, like charity, begins at home, of course, and Michaelia Cash is rewarded for her sterling work in whiteboarding, media liaison and union bullying with her re-appointment to Morrison’s cabinet. It cost $282,000 just for her AWU case legal fees, a bargain for such a top performer. As Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, she will continue, as always, to grow jobs like crazy as she oversees a Department of Jobs and Small Business. Keeps the whiteboard handy.

Industrial relations and union-busting stuff now become part of Attorney-General Christian Porter’s portfolio. Porter, of course, has his anti-union bill at the ready. He’ll call it a reform even though it harks back eighty years to Brazil’s dictatorship, according to The International Centre for Trade Union Rights based in the UK.

The Coalition’s “Ensuring Integrity Bill” breaches international conventions on labour rights by restricting workers’ freedom of association and collective bargaining, even when they are not involved in wrongdoing. ACTU President Michele O’Neil warns that the Morrison government’s proposed legislation is dangerous and extreme.

“All Australian workers benefit from the work of unions. If unions are shut down or silenced, who will stand up to the powerful, make sure workers get their rights and fight to improve workers’ rights?” she tells AAP.

“The Morrison government has overseen raids on journalists and is now attacking working people’s freedom to run their own unions. These are dangerous attacks on fundamental pillars of democracy.”

How good are jobs? Mostly you are likely to be overworked and underpaid in short-term, casual or part-time work. The OECD identifies one major reason why – the decline of unionism, a process ScoMo and Co are mad keen to accelerate.

“In Australia, the proportion of union members among employees fell from 45.6% in 1986 to 13.7% in 2018, while the proportion of employees covered by collective agreements declined from 83% to 58.9% over the same period.”

One result of an underpaid, casualised, de-unionised workforce is increased inequality given a helpful boost also from the Coalition’s tax cuts and its attack on our progressive taxation system. Average income earners pay more tax which helps to enrich the wealthy who now pay less. And among the wealthy are the fabulously rich merchant princes of our banking cartel which hasn’t fixed up its act at all after the Royal Commission.

How good is Ross McEwan’s new job? Guaranteed a fixed salary of $2.5 million PA just for showing up, starting April 2020, the new CEO of NAB, who pipped former NSW Premier and Pepsodent kid Mike Baird on experience for the job, will get $3.75 million extra if he hits “annual targets”. That’s a lot of upside, as they say. Add another $3.25 million a year based on the long-term performance of the bank and the former Kiwi, could be paid $9.5 million a year, all going well.

NAB was a stand-out performer at the recent Banking Royal Commission Show, earning censure, if not withering derision from Commissioner Kenny Hayne overcharging fees for no service and for its culture of profits before people. NAB Chairman Ken Henry was forced to throw in his claw and CEO Andrew Thorburn was also compelled to explore other employment opportunities. Both appeared aggrieved at being unfairly singled out but why aren’t they in gaol?

Of course, there’s more. Our banking cartel hates to see its CEOs begging in the street. Or “growing dope” and nicking stuff to get by, like our rural Newstarters, according to Barnaby Joyce. Topping it all off, new boss, Ross gets “vesting rights” which could take his pay over $10 million, depending on how NAB shares perform. They’re off to a good start with investors hugely comforted by NAB’s caring 2017 plan to make 6000 employees redundant by 2020.

Masters of spin, confirming it was sacking 180 workers in February, NAB avoided any references to job losses at all. Instead, it was a restructure which “was designed to better align rosters with customer banking habits”.

The tough love of Newstart, fixed for twenty-five years is totally vindicated, despite advice to lift it from a Melbourne Cup field of experts. Even John Howard says it should be increased. The payment’s value has fallen forty per cent in real terms over that time but it would be folly to raise it above the poverty line, say ScoMo & Co. Madness. Starvation and beggary uplift and motivate; incentivise us to get jobs. Above all, turning your back on a neighbour in distress is good old Aussie mateship at its conflicted best. Even Labor now says you’ve got to convince the government yourself.

Besides, ScoMo and Co always would have us know, rorty Newstarters on the public tit, get heaps of supplementary payments. Suck our budgets dry. It is a fact, as he and Frydenberg like to remind us, that 99% of recipients are on other benefits, such as “parental allowance and other forms of support”. But it’s also true that the additional income is meagre. Fifty-seven per cent of us on Newstart receive only one additional payment, moreover – nine dollars per fortnight, Energy Supplement.

“We have one of the best safety nets, if not the best, of anywhere in the world,” Whoppers Morrison misleads us in May. The unemployed “don’t just live on Newstart alone,” he claims. “It goes up twice a year and 99 per cent of people on Newstart are also on other payments.” It’s a despicable, cynical act of damaging disinformation.

A single unemployed adult on Newstart gets $555.70 each fortnight. That’s $40 a day. Add in an energy supplement, a paltry $228.80 a year. Yet ScoMo would have us believe the extra 60 cents a day is a huge boost. If you’re sixty, or over, you’ll receive just over $600 a fortnight, after nine continuous months on Newstart. It’s a meagre increase which virtually guarantees you a life below the poverty line.

On DHS figures, Newstart recipients who also get rent assistance (about 28%) get an extra $55 a week on average. So they live on about $48 a day. For people to get the maximum rate of rent assistance of around $10 a day, they had to spend twice as much in rent to be eligible. In summary, the extra help averages out to about a dollar a day.

It is time the Morrison government dropped its nonsense and increased its welfare payments. It is not true that low payments increase your motivation to get a job, especially when there are at least eight applicants for every advertised vacancy and many times more in regional centres where jobs are fewer.

Tell the truth about Newstart being a poverty trap. Acknowledge that at least twenty percent of beneficiaries are on Newstart for five years or more.

Above all acknowledge the growing percentage of older Australians who are put on to Newstart and made to seek jobs which their age precludes them from. Until they qualify for the age pension. They lose their jobs to younger people and find their applications rejected by ageist prospective employers. The number of people aged 55-64 on Newstart has risen by more than 55,000 in less than five years. This group is growing by 10,000 a year and must cause a rethink in the Coalition’s callous inhumanity.

Older, working Australians deserve a new start, too. They can’t afford one on $40 per day, especially if they have to rent. Increasingly we are a society where it’s OK to see mature women who lose their jobs and their homes being forced to live rough or live in their cars.

Nothing your government has done yet has even acknowledged this vulnerable group, ScoMo. Drop the moralising “mutual obligation” slogan. These Australians have given their lives to society. They don’t owe you anything. It’s time you gave a little support back. Stop your prosperity gospel and exercise some Christian compassion.

Well overdue that is you drop the fetishising of jobs, ScoMo. Stop the meaningless statistical pressers every month. Start to look for quality of work, not number. How good is a job? It depends entirely on where and what that job is. If it’s as CEO of a bank or as a Liberal Party cabinet MP, it can seem absurdly ill-deserved; a cruel reminder of our growing inequality. And of how the many in your Australia must subsidise the few.

If, on the other hand it’s in the 457 Visa jungle or in the increasing majority of dog-eat-dog de-unionised workplaces such as in hospitality or in agriculture, meat processing, retail and accommodation  – or in employ of one of the many wage-slavers running franchises it’s likely to be a wretched, unfair, underpaid, uncertain and dangerous thing.

If you are young and in a regional or rural area, you probably won’t even get the hours you need to get Centrelink off your back, so you can expect to have to report your income and prove that you’re applying for jobs even though everyone knows – from Centrelink to your job provider – your applications are a waste of time.

How good is a job ScoMo? Under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Coalition government, the experience of work has not been good at all, overall. Degrading, depressing and dehumanising if you must know. Wise up. It’s not the job, it’s the nature of the work that matters. And the workplace. It must, at least be safe, supportive and protect workers’ rights to be respected and valued.

Your IR policies, your vicious war on unions and on workers’ rights to organise; their right to expect a fair wage, fair dealing and safe conditions – has been nothing short of an indictment of your corrupted government and its capture by captains of mining, commerce and banking at the expense of those whom you were elected to represent and protect.  Urgent reform is needed before the decline is irretrievable.

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Morrison’s government fails major test of good faith.

“Art doesn’t imitate life, it imitates bad television”, quips Woody Allen.  ScoMo & Co’s reality TV Prime Ministership show, local franchise of the global schlock-horror melodrama of The House of Trump, sponsored by Multinational Oil Inc, exceeds our worst expectations this week. Our deep misgivings about its good faith are confirmed.

Frydenberg shills Philip Lowe into praising our tanking economy, trashing all vestige of RBA credibility as ScoMo re-runs Monster of the Third Chamber; kills any hope of constitutional recognition or voice to parliament for indigenous Australians – just to appease his right wing.

Daily, our Messiah from the Shire, the man without a plan, appears more a one seat wonder; every bit as impotent, inept and incoherent as either of his two immediate predecessors.  Daily, moreover, he seems to turn to theocracy rather than behave as the democratically elected representative of the people his political role entails.

Topping a top week, “Ecce ScoMo” gets invited to a nosh-up at a White House, once a type of confirmation ceremony, but it’s all going to hell under the current incumbent.

Trump backers attack the press in the Rose Garden, Thursday, an all-in brawl provoked by a reporter with the hide to ask Trump to take questions. Trump stalks off. He’s just ordered government to collect data it already collects, after failing to get a citizenship question on the US Census.  Sean Colarossi writes,

“The executive order meant to paper over his census loss went up in flames almost immediately – another loss for the president and his band of supporters.”

But help is on its way. When ScoMo scoots over to Washington in September, (if Dutton hasn’t toppled him), he’ll be sure to share his own media evasion tips. These include, as Immigration Minister, his infamous on water silences; then his abolishing press conferences altogether. Now it’s sooling the AFP on to nosey journos. At their homes.

The invite? It’s “a rare honour”, crows our ABC – equalled only by grovelling John Howard, Bush’s man of steel, a US lickspittle so keen to join in the killing of innocents; the illegal invasion of Iraq, that he lied, in 2003, to the parliament and people of Australia that he had legal authority. In fact, he had a couple of junior legal officers draw up a very specious case.

Howard still lies. Whistle-blower Andrew Wilkie quit his former job at the Office of National Assessments (ONA) in protest. He notes, “The US did not go to war in Iraq because of WMD and terrorism. Australia went to war in Iraq to support our alliance with the United States.”

Like his predecessor but with super-oleaginous sycophancy, Morrison is reviewing and  rehearsing ways to say “Yes, yes, yes!” to any request to join an illegal attack on Iran, although by September, Trump may have changed his plans several times.

He may have to. Report emerges from Sir Kim Darroch, Sunday, that Trump scrapped the Iran nuclear deal merely to spite Obama, “an act of diplomatic vandalism”  says the former British Ambassador who is promptly attacked by Boris Johnson as Boris performs his own act of subservience to Trump. It won’t silence Darroch.

In a wondrous case of art predicting the future – at least the generic, neoliberal political buffoon, HG Wells has a remarkably prescient image of Boris Johnson in A Dream of Armageddon (1901). Perhaps there’s more than a bit of ScoMo in the vision as well.

“He was one of those incredibly stupid energetic people who seem sent by Heaven to create disasters. His energy to the first glance seemed so wonderfully like capacity! But he had no imagination, no invention, only a stupid, vast, driving force of will, and a mad faith in his stupid idiot ‘luck’ to pull him through.” Wells would be happy substituting “Pentecostal faith” for luck.

Darroch highlights division among Trump’s advisors. And indecision. The White House lacks any ‘day-to-day’ strategy of what to do following withdrawal from the Iran deal. In other respects also, it lurches from chaos to catastrophe just as successfully as our own government.

But now, Trump’s past with registered sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, raises its ugly head.

Trump hosted Epstein as a guest at Mar-a-Lago, where he appears in photos in 1997 and 2000. Epstein’s little black book, leaked by an employee in 2009, contains 14 phone numbers for Trump, his wife, Melania, and several of his employees, reports Vanity Fair’s Eric Lutz.

Bill Clinton, a former frequent flyer with convicted paedophile, multi-millionaire money manager and sex-trafficker, Epstein aboard Jeff’s private 727 jet, nick-named the Lolita Express, an airborne bordello, is under the pump now that his friend, gigolo Jeffrey is indicted for sex trafficking minors, working-class girls to prostitute to the filthy-rich and perverted.

Trump is clearly worried that, he, too, needs to cover his tracks and they are extensive.

Trump once praised Epstein as, “a terrific guy .. who is a lot of fun to be with. It is even said that he likes beautiful women as much as I do, and many of them are on the younger side.

Now, the US President is forced to say that he’s “not a fan”. The two had a falling out fifteen years ago. Times reporters assume this to be a sour business deal.

Epstein ran a shuttle service between Miami and New York. Trump is unlikely to have been a client. Yet the two were closer than The Donald admits, reports The New York Times on Tuesday. Trump’s association with Epstein, who was convicted in 2008 for soliciting underage girls for prostitution, includes the two co-hosting at Mar-a-Largo, a “calendar girl” competition in 1992, attended by twenty-eight girls and only two adults; organiser Trump and Epstein. The hopeful calendar girls were led to believe the contest would include many VIPs.

Trump fires his Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, former US Attorney in Miami, who negotiated a super-lenient, secret, “non-prosecution agreement” granting Epstein and his associates immunity from federal prosecution and a sentence of thirteen months in gaol for Epstein in 2008. The leniency included allowing the tycoon to leave prison to go to work each day and to hire his own private guards.

Epstein’s case makes our own corporate criminal, and thrice jailed national hero, Alan Bond’s final minimum security stretch in prison seem harsh. In 1997, Bond spent time in maximum-security Casuarina prison before transfer to minimum security Karnet Prison Farm – where he had his own art studio; four years for the biggest fraud in Australian corporate history – stripping over a billion dollars from Bell Resources shareholders.

Acosta’s dilemma is not without irony. A US Labor Secretary’s role is to protect workers and children from exploitation; enforcing laws on child labour and human trafficking. That’s the theory. In practice, Acosta may have acted to protect a sexual predator. Miami Herald investigative reporter, Julie K. Brown, estimates that in 2008, Epstein received “one of the most lenient sentences for a serial sex offender in U.S. history.”  

It is government by kakistocracy, the kleptocratic tyrants of a very bad soap opera.

Epstein’s Bust is also an event that rocks our own ruling class to its core; our age of obscene inequality, wage slavery, wage-theft and sexploitation, a melodrama in which the thrifty rich trumpet their virtuous ascendancy over the slothful working-poor, on whom our taxes are frittered to cover the prohibitive costs of a welfare safety net – plus tax cuts for the rich.

Unlike the prudent self-denying plutocrats, lower classes are addicts to instant gratification. As ScoMo implies, they are unworthy because we give a go (only) to those who have a go.

“The Epstein scandal blows holes through the foundational myths of our time, revealing them for the empty and sickening bromides used to justify obscene wealth and power and privilege that they really are,” observes The Washington Post’s Helaine Olen.

Barely days after sending him on a fool’s errand, to get consensus from the Liberal Party and its National Party abusive partners, in Beyond Our Ken, ScoMo pulls the rug from under Ken Wyatt and any justice or voice for Indigenous peoples. The right to be and to be heard. It is despicable betrayal of trust and Prime Ministerial responsibility.

In a parallel sub-plot entitled Labours of Hercules, bigot-whisperer, Christian Porter, a Jedi, meanwhile, gets a year to “workshop” Coalition colleagues into embracing Ruddock’s religious freedoms, a rear-guard ambush of marriage equality. At the same time, Israel Folau takes his homophobia to the Fair Work Commission in a cameo appearance in With God on My Side.

The preposterous notion that first peoples be heard by our law-makers; have a voice to parliament or any right to constitutional recognition is quickly denied by ScoMo as climate clown Craig Kelly makes a fool of him. Aboriginal people should just be Australian he says. The mineral lobby sponsored IPA calls The Voice racist.

Wilfully misrepresented, thank you Mal, as an impossible demand for a third chamber in parliament, right wing critics see The Voice as nothing less than an assault on our parliamentary democracy itself – which any fool can see is a sacred institution working flawlessly to serve the ruling elite, and as fairly run as the Uluru Camel Cup.

Or as fairly run as the Fair Work Commission (FWC), a Rudd legacy, which has been carefully stacked by the Coalition. Last December, Bill Shorten pointed out that the government had appointed twenty employer appointments in a row.

Israel Folau’s case to the Commission against his employer, Rugby Australia, is that he was punished for his religious beliefs when his contract was ended after his Instagram post that homosexuals were going to hell. Whilst Folau’s homophobic comments are mistaken by some for his religious freedom, the case will also expose the FWC.

And it may also embarrass Scott Morrison and our Social Service Minister Stuart Robert, currently in the gun with pensioners for his niggardly adjustment to pensioners’ deeming rates. Both have close ties with the homophobic Hillsong Church.

Righteousness exalts our nation as Stuart Robert escorts fellow evangelical ScoMo to the annual Hillsong cult conference show where Morrison leads 20,000-odd in prayer. ScoMo attends Horizon, a Hillsong affiliate.

Hillsong prospers from its 34,000 local congregation’s tithes and offerings to the tune of one hundred million dollars a year. Blessed are the poor in spirit.

The congregation gives Morrison a standing ovation. ScoMo then faffs around in dialogue with himself and the church and the nation claiming publicly that religious freedom is about “culture” not about the law when clearly it’s about both. ScoMo’s increasing reliance on his belief system to supplant his political role is a concern.

Most voters would rather see a government act on the science of climate change and measures to abate carbon emissions rather than see the PM pray for rain.

“Our nation needs more prayer, more worship. That’s how things are overcome.” In a min-sermon, the first Pentecostal PM in the English-speaking world calls for “an avalanche of love”.

More love? It’s up to Peter Dutton to continue the Coalition’s war on Shorten on Nine’s Today Show Friday, by telling Labor leader, Anthony Albanese, that his failure to expel CFMMEU Secretary John Setka from the Labor Party makes Bill Shorten look good.

“This country needs more love and less judgement.”  Dutto would do well to heed ScoMo who eerily echoes Hillsong’s Global Senior Pastor, Brian Houston’s, Message to Folau, April opinion piece in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Less judgement? Brian was quick to judge his own father, Frank, sacking him from his role as pastor and head of Assemblies of God in 1999, when he was accused of the sexual abuse of nine boys – yet did not report the abuse to the police – records The Royal Commission in 2015.

Whilst he acknowledges that he understood his father’s acts to be criminal, Brian Houston made the judgement that he would conceal what he knew from the authorities. His grounds?

“Rightly or wrongly, I genuinely believed that I would be pre-empting the victim if I were to just call the police at that point.” “Genuine belief” trumps moral or legal responsibility?

And what precisely does he mean by pre-empting the victim? He’s pre-empting justice.

One of Frank’s victims, Brett Sengstock, routinely abused between the ages of seven and twelve, has publicly called upon Houston to explain why he did not report his father.

Instead, Frank was allowed to resign with a retirement package. Sengstock, who has terminal cancer, unsuccessfully sought compensation when it could not be proved Assemblies of God was responsible for the abuse he suffered.

Church service over, ScoMo can relax. Our nation is in good hands Gorgeous Gus Taylor, spivvy star of Watergate and fossil-fuel poster boy Energy Minister, continues his dazzling run by jacking up both electricity prices and carbon emissions. Power bills are up on average fourteen per cent last quarter. Carbon, energy and sustainability experts, Ndevr Environmental report that our direct emissions are at their highest since 2002.

For the 2017 financial year, our total emissions were 9.1 MtCO2-e more than the previous financial year and equivalent to an additional 3.37 million car exhausts over the same time.

At Taylor’s rates we won’t meet or beat our Paris emissions reduction targets. Or anything. But at least ScoMo’s rudderless, agenda-free yet bitterly divided government rivals Abbott’s in breaking election promises, as well as in austerity budgeting, although details of spending cuts, which will amount to forty billion a year by 2030, are still well-concealed from punters.

At the same time, money for “soil magic” (as Lenore Taylor calls carbon sequestration) is drying up as the government’s Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF) runs out of funds and projects. The ERF was climate denialist Abbott’s fabulous scam to fork more pork to Coalition sponsors. Now he is out of pork, while pesky emissions rocket ever upward, plucky Gus is over a barrel. And soon he’ll have to face a senate committee.

To be fair, Taylor is flat out hosing down claims he breached ministerial guidelines in March 2017 when he asked, then Environment minister, Josh Frydenberg to water down law to let him poison critically endangered grasses on 30 hectares of family property at Monaro, NSW.

But Taylor’s only an Energy Minister with no policy. His frantic efforts are dwarfed by a Morrison government which has set no course beyond tax cuts, which is already at the mercy of its reactionary rump and which seems content to muddle through on a wing and prayer.

That it took but four days for the Prime Minister to abort Ken Wyatt’s mission and to dismiss a quest for recognition and a voice to parliament made through extensive community consultation and in good faith is bad enough – but to do so by reviving the lie that a voice for indigenous peoples is a demand for a third chamber is to dismiss an act of good faith with an act of bad faith, a monstrous abrogation of democratic process, social contract and human rights.

Forget its surplus fetish and its neoliberal idiocy with regard to flattening our progressive tax system and its war on the poor, especially those who have endured a Newstart that hasn’t changed in twenty-five years, the Morrison government has failed a far more serious test, a test of its capacity to govern in good faith and to govern for all Australians. It will find it impossible to recover.

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Plots & prayers but no policy agenda bode ill for Coalition

What a week! Australia’s newly sworn in ScoMo-government wastes no time in destroying our progressive taxation system, one of the last vestiges of Aussie egalitarianism which the neoliberal toxin has virtually annihilated.

ScoMo & Co’s dodgy promises dupe Jacqui Lambie and crypto-Liberal duo Griff ‘n Rex from the Adelaide Hills into voting to kill the quaint old notion that each Australian should taxed according to his or her means. Benito Dutton’s Home Affairs Despotism admits to already using new laws to steal press freedom from under our noses and spy on the ABC.

But Mum’s the word – unless you want an AFP or ASIO operative ransacking your bedroom drawers or forcing QANTAS to tell where you’ve been travelling and what your stated travel purpose is, especially if you visit Afghanistan and you work for the ABC.     

Economic Management has never been better thanks to ten years’ Liberal DNA at work, but Philip Lowe, Governor of our Reserve Bank, warns government that monetary policy can go only do so much. He almost begs the Coalition to forget its surplus fetish; even borrow to start investing in infrastructure building – instead of endlessly talking about it. Or we are staring down an economic recession, which is what we’ve been suffering for years if you look at per capita recession.

Lowe also warns how wage stagnation threatens social cohesion but ScoMo & Co just point to Trump’s US miracle. The myth that Trump’s tax cuts have promoted trickle-down prosperity is repeated ad nauseam in our mainstream media.

The 2017 Tax and Jobs Act – the Trump administration’s one hit wonder in terms of enacted legislation – constitutes the biggest corporate tax cut in US history, but in the end, workers enjoy almost no benefit. But no-one can tell ScoMo.

He should read the report of the six-month investigation,by Peter Cary and Allan Holmes, from the Center for Public Integrity, a not-for-profit news agency based in Washington DC. But Morrison is a faith-based politician. He believes in the Laffer Curve and the magic of trickle-down.

At trickle-down HQ, it rains on Trump’s parade. Exposes his bald spot. His half-arsed military jamboree or A Salute to America, features ancient Abrams tanks, retired in 1957, replete with peeling paint as they rust atop their Heavy Equipment  transporters. Russian commentators piss themselves laughing at “Putin’s America” while Trump boasts “we took over airports in 1788”, a howler, the Covfefe-in-Chief blames on the rain, and a defective Teleprompter. It will all be the fake media’s fault.

Many Americans are unhappy as Kleptocrat-in-Chief Trump pilfers $2.5m from a cash-strapped National Parks to help pay for his folly. But it’s just petty cash; Trump’s oxymoron (his administration) is cutting Parks’ budget half a billion dollars in 2019 – and again in 2020. His brazen conversion of a national holiday into yet another episode of the Donald Trump Show, a reality TV presidency, sponsored by the US taxpayer, also produces howls of righteous outrage.

“Trump is creating a spectacle of tanks & missiles on the National Mall where the great protests for civil & human rights have been held at a time when 140 million Americans are poor & low income. He thinks this is the sign of strength, but it’s a damn narcissistic travesty,” tweets The Rev William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival.  If only folks could kick back and relax; get with the vibe of the show. It’s unpatriotic to be so critical.

While no-one is prepared to allow 60 tonne tanks to trash the asphalt as they did in George H. W. Bush’s 1991 National Victory Celebration, F-22 Raptors and a B-2 stealth bomber roar over the Washington monument, the reflecting pool and the Lincoln memorial. “Great country” Trump says. “For Americans nothing is impossible.” An honest president, perhaps?

Tanks but no tanks? Later in his 47 minute harangue, Trump, a five times draft dodger whose bone spur excuse has long been exposed, is heard exhorting young Americans to join the military. At a starting salary of $20,000, you’d have to be in it for the safe working conditions, the healthy outdoor lifestyle, not to mention the travel and career opportunities.

Ronald Reagan airport is forced to close for two hours just to satisfy Trump’s ego. It’s poetic justice. Named after the only former president to rival Trump in fiscal incompetence, Reagan cut taxes for the ultra rich, while – like Morrison and Trump – he repeated the mantra that such contractionary measures would miraculously “grow the economy”.

In one term in office, Reagan took the US from being the world’s largest net creditor of $140.9bn to owing $532.5bn –  the world’s largest debtor nation, a place it has kept ever since. In eight years, inequality took off while, as in Australia, average incomes stagnated, although the top one per cent saw their incomes rise ten-fold, compared to everyone else.

A millionaire paying $700,000 in tax in the seventies would pay $350,000 in the eighties. The economy withered. With their extra income, the rich funded think tanks, hired economists and lobbied politicians to change laws.

In 1960, business supplied 24 percent of federal revenues. By 1980, the figure had fallen to 12 percent. A vicious cycle flourished where wealth begat more wealth and more power; a cycle which ScoMo’s tax cuts will reproduce here.

What could be a more fitting emblem for the nation, its 45th president and tribute to moribund Neoliberalism than the damp squibs and obsolete tanks on trailers of Trump’s Independence Day Parade, a moth-eaten, flea-circus?

“Ya radge orange barmpot” (lustful or mad orange idiot), as Trump is called in Turnberry, another of his financially troubled international golf-courses, by hospitable yet canny local Scots, is spared further derision from Russia, Iran, North Korea and others when explosive memos from Sir Kim Darrouch, British Ambassador to Washington, are leaked. Kim warns London that an “inept and uniquely dysfunctional” Trump regime means “real risks are on the horizon”.

Risk of war with Iran is confirmed when news emerges of the truth behind Trump’s recent piking on his missile strike. Tehran is laughing at his backdown. “Iran was ready to retaliate on an unbelievable scale,” an Iranian journalist tells investigative journalist Reese Erlich in a phone interview. “After the first U.S. missile launch, Trump wouldn’t be able to control the consequences, not only in the Persian Gulf but from Saudi Arabia to Israel.”

A risk on the home horizon for Trumpista Morrison is Plots and Prayers, Niki Savva’s book-length gossip and hearsay column with some direct testimony on Turnbull’s coup. ScoMo’s reputation for deceit and disloyalty is revived while Labor waves the “absolute arsehole’s” taxation bill through even though it spells the end of Australia as we know it.

“We prayed that righteousness would exalt the nation … righteousness would mean the right person had won” Stuart Robert, fellow evangelical, god-botherer tells Niki Savva of a brief moment of quiet piety in Plots and Prayers, a methodical, detailed demolition of whatever may remain of ScoMo’s pretensions to honesty, integrity and decency.

Or popularity. “Morrison’s an absolute arsehole” shrieks Michael Keenan, gazumping talk of Weirdo-ScoMo’s flaws by a dozen senior Liberal MPs trashing party show ponies, tipping stayers and picking winners, as they lunch long at Guy Rossi’s top-noshery Garum in WA’s Westin Hotel in April 2018. Say what you really think, Mickey. Don’t hold back.

Keenan set the gold standard for arseholes as the Human Services Minister, who reminded the ABC that the automatic debt notice process is “reasonable, lawful and fair”. The department sent more than 900,000 debt letters to individuals during the period 1 July 2016 to 31 October 2018. Over 2000 people died after receiving Centrelink robo-debt notices.

Slurs flow as freely as the vino as our MPs repair to the Westin’s well-stocked cellar. Niki Savva knows how to set a scene. A dozen MPs on the turps can be jolly unkind. “Arsehole” almost becomes a term of endearment. Yet, oddly, Niki omits all mention of Keenan’s controversial 2015 gun-lobby meeting from which gun-control advocates were excluded, an act of bastardry any arsehole would be proud of – if not quite up to the master Morrison’s gold standard.

Red tape must be cut from gun regulation. It’s far too hard for an arsehole to acquire an arsenal. True, sporting shooters do tend to lose a lot of guns. The Sporting Shooters Association of Australia (SSAA) admits its members are targeted by organised criminals.  But that’s all about awareness; education. In over 12 years shooters “hadn’t learned properly” about appropriate firearm handling, use and storage.  But Keenan was keen on winding back gun control.

Expect to hear more “in this space” from our congestion-busting, red-tape cutting, freedom-loving Prime Minister.

Our gun lobbyists are big political givers so there’s nothing odd about a Justice Minister excluding unions, public health groups, domestic violence advocates, politicians and other spoilsports who support gun control in Australia. Since 2011, gun lobbyists have donated $1.7 million towards the best independent, democratic and objective decision-making money can buy.  Mad Bob Katter’s party has done the best; netting a cool $808,000 but, then, Bob does have Robert Nioa as son-in-law.

In 2017, Robert Nioa, CEO of NIOA won a contract to supply over thirty different munitions to Australia’s military. The contract is valued at $95 million and has an option to extend it to 15 years. Katter’s donations come mainly from  Nioa and The Shooting Industry Foundation of Australia (SIFA) dedicated to unwinding our gun laws. Nioa is a SIFA Director. But the group of MPs at Garum have other MPs – not our local NRA, the over-powerful gun lobby in their sights.

The Liberals indulge in the time-honoured bonding ritual of back-stabbing absent fellow MPs for having leaders’ batons in their knapsacks. A cleansing Margaret River Cloudburst Chardonnay or a big red Vanya Cabernet Sauvignon helps.

As always, talk turns to who would lead if then-leader, malfunction Mal, fell under a bus or into the gap between the platform and the track of his beloved public railway train? Keenan, who has held Justice, Human Services and Digital Transformation among other portfolios says his former Immigration Minister boss, Morrison treats him like a school boy. If the cap fits? Fellow sandgroper Christian Porter’s thought of the day is that Orifice Morrison is “not a team player”.

Hold that thought, Mr Porter. Cormann has seen Dutton up close now, he says – a disturbing image – and “Dutton’s better”. No-one’s touching that. Everyone in the parliamentary party knows that the pair are soul-mates. Cormann doesn’t tell, but Savva knows ScoMo shouted at him. Didn’t try it twice, brags Mathias full of testosteronic machismo. Quickly sketched is a portrait of a Liberal Party bullying culture which reaches all the way to the top.

Garum takes its name from the salty, sauce originally made from fermented fish guts. Much favoured in ancient Greek, Roman, Carthaginian and Byzantine cooking, it’s the perfect condiment for contemporary politics. The arsehole anecdote is later faithfully relayed to Niki Savva whose husband, Vincent Woolcock, is a veteran Liberal adviser of forty years’ service. Naturally, it is not implied that the pair ever share salacious political gossip, titbits or juicy morsels.

Savva clarified her independence as she launched Road to Ruin, her account of Abbott’s brief but disastrous term as PM.

“I never tell Vincent what I’m writing, she says. He didn’t see a single word of my manuscript.”  Vincent is acquitted. But Plots and Prayers’ insights, like those of Road to Ruin, are a tribute to Savva’s access to pliant Liberal Party sources.

Savva quickly establishes Morrison’s low peer approval, high distrust and his spectacular dishonesty. A News Corp Liberal, her richly alliterative Plots and Prayers is a type of swingeing director’s cut of ScoMo & Co’s coup of August 2017.   So far, Morrison’s only response is that it’s ancient history. No-one’s interested in that. Even if it does show who he really is – a ruthlessly ambitious, double-crossing liar who will say anything to anyone to get what he wants.

How good is News Corp? Rudd reckons it’s a political party and a cancer on our democracy. QED. If not exalting the messiah from the shire, or killing Bill or Albo via Setka, Savva’s News Corp certainly boosts ScoMo’s political fortunes.

Re-iterating the trickle-down fantasy, a myth which helps Liberals make a virtue out of selfish greed, is News Corp. The trickle-down dream helps divert attention from the flow of wealth from labour to capital, as increasingly underemployed and underpaid workers find their wages buy less as the cost of living rises in an increasingly divided society. News Corp leads Australia’s mainstream media chorus this week in crowing about ScoMo’s “stimulus” victory.

Stimulus? Propagandists to Morrison’s inept, agenda-less, policy-free regime, Murdoch’s media help perpetuate the lie that tax cuts and the virtuous pursuit of a budget surplus, (both contractionary measures) will not shrink the economy at all but, instead, by the miracle of the trickle-down tooth-fairy will somehow stimulate our tanking economy. So what if nowhere in the world, least of all in the US, is there proof that tax cuts stimulate wage growth or productivity?

Catastrophe of the week is ScoMo’s Unfair Go, the Coalition’s pyrrhic victory over reason, common sense and social contract; its subsidy of the rich, ironically entitled Treasury Laws Amendment (Tax Relief So Working Australians Keep More Of Their Money) Bill 2019. Yet you’d have little clue of the real nature of the bill from its coverage in the press.

As Crikey’s Bernard Keane calculates, 227 print and online media sources tackle the most profound change to our tax system in decades, but only 25 provide any analysis of the fiscal and equity impacts of the package – and six of these are rubbish; specious arguments that would kid us middle – not high-income earners are the major beneficiaries.

Our MSM simplify and select. Coverage is confined, says Keane “to a race call” of who voted for what – along with details of how much you can expect to get. It’s the broader, simpler, picture that suits our new streamlined media where veteran journalists with fine-honed analytical skills and independent insights are an endangered species. Instead, tabloid infotainment masquerades as news, especially on ABC 24, as newsrooms compete to keep it cheap, light and fluffy.

No-one really challenges ScoMo’s incredible farrago of lies about his role in deposing Turnbull. Savva’s book will help expose the truth. Yet Morrison’s myth of his immaculate conception as leader – like his tax cut recovery are all part of his fabulist-politics. Keep the story simple. And the myths large. Perceptions not facts that matter most in politics.

Morrison’s politics most closely parallel those of his mentor Donald Trump but it remains to be seen whether the imported model will enjoy quite the same degree of success. Savva’s book is evidence of the PM’s low status and limited authority over his parliamentary party.

But unlike Trump, Morrison must deal with the Dutton, his nemesis, who daily exercises his excessive powers – a monster created by Turnbull against the best advice, solely to appease a right wing which under ScoMo will still call the shots.

The excitement of a $1080 tax rebate will quickly subside even for the minority of Australian workers who receive it. The Morrison government now faces the challenge of no agenda, no real policy and the prospect of an imminent internal battle over religious freedom. ScoMo cannot sit on Ruddock’s report forever. Whatever bill is produced, it can be guaranteed, it won’t placate the right who seek laws to discriminate or those others who seek freedom from discrimination.

Conservatives are also urging IR reform, code for even lower wages and worse conditions, at a time when the economy, if not the dictates of humanity, demand a decent living wage and a fairer system. Then there’s a slew of problems and challenges shelved, a voice to parliament, the NDIS, the NBN lemon and the vacuum in energy and environment.

And it is environment, in the form of the Murray Darling Basin rorts and a nine billion dollar scandal at least, which is fast shaping to drown all other problems faced by a recycled proven failure, an inept government in bed with Big Cotton, Big Banks and all the other business barons from the top end of town who need only frown or pout and it goes to water.

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Trump’s love for Kim almost upstages G20 farce

“I never expected to meet you at this place” Kim can’t believe his luck. “He wrote me beautiful letters and we fell in love, Trump tells a Patrick Morrissey rally in West Virginia last September. Love must be in the air, Sunday, as The Donald waddles slowly toward an approaching Kim Jong-un. Trump extends one small, fleshy hand in greeting.

The filming of the men’s cautious approach evokes a western duel. Is it High Noon or just high farce? The romance of a lover’s tryst is subverted for an eternity, it seems, by Trump’s ample rump filling the lens of a hapless cameraman tagging along too close behind. So much historic action to capture. So little time. So many fearful Koreans.

The leaders meet. Shake. It’s a fine bromance, even if Trump had to beg just to get a handshake. Even if the best outcome he’s ever going to get is an agreement from Kim to start talking. Nuclear. Not politics. Love is blind to concentration camps. So Kim has people killed for speaking their minds? Trump argues that the US hHas people killed too.

Kim’s regime has one of the worst human rights records in the world. Crimes “entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation,” concludes a 2014 United Nations report that examined North Korea.

Retired judge, jurist and academic, Australia’s Michael Kirby is one of the report’s three commissioners.

Trump squeezes Kim’s arm through Kim’s pin-striped Mao suit. Spins Kim around; frog marches him over the 38th parallel, (an ad hoc split of Korea’s 1500 years’ unity, by US decree in 1945). Now he turns, profile to camera, to pump Kim’s mitt. It’s a dangerous liaison – orchestrated – Trump would have us believe, by a single, humble, self-effacing tweet.

“After some very important meetings, including my meeting with President Xi of China, I will be leaving Japan for South Korea (with President Moon). While there, if Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” Clearly, Kim finds “His Very Importance” Donald Trump’s humility irresistible.

Epic bromance or bravura braggadocio? Trump’s stunts exceed peak attention-seeking, whatever you may think of the “mentally deranged US dotard”, as Kim once bagged The Donald. His G20 pickings may be slim, but, hey, look over here!

Of course from Kim’s point of view, US recognition is everything. The nuclear weapons threat is working a treat. And the mutual back-patting helps Trump with his myth that he has heroically tamed North Korea’s pocket rocket-monster.

If only Arab and Israeli leaders could apply the same hands-on, speed-date approach to diplomacy. Mid-East peace in our time, a show that even wunderkind Kushner is having trouble with, could all be fixed with a man to man handshake.

“Big Moment. Big Moment”, this week’s episode of the pussy-grabber-in-Chief’s reality TV presidency show, rates its Texan cotton socks off. And Trump’s G20 shtick almost upstages Mohammad bin Salman or MBS who stands smack dab in the middle of the G20 selfie in Saudi Arabia’s G20 photo-op coup, a credit to his product placement smarts.

MBS is a really great guy, great, says Trump. “It’s an honour to be with the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, a friend of mine, a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia,” Trump sucks up publicly to MBS. “And I think especially what you’ve done for women. I’m seeing what’s happening; it’s like a revolution in a very positive way.”

Just when a little Saudi sword-jiggle dance appears to be on the cards, Trump is overcome by gratitude, “I want to just thank you on behalf of a lot of people, and I want to congratulate you. You’ve done, really, a spectacular job.”

Spectacular human rights abuse, perhaps? Human Rights Watch’s Middle East director Sarah Leah Whitson, has some sobering, contradictory testimony. “Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s ‘reform campaign’ has been a frenzy of fear for genuine Saudi reformers who dare to advocate publicly for human rights or women’s empowerment. The message is clear that anyone expressing scepticism about the crown prince’s rights agenda faces time in jail.”

By an incredible stroke of luck, Saudi Arabia will host next year’s G20 summit, which gives Prince Mohammed a prominent place for his brand at the front and centre of this year’s dysfunctional “family photo” of leaders Thursday.

A UN Report published last week finds “credible evidence” to warrant further investigation into allegations the crown prince masterminded the killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi whose body was dismembered with a bone saw in a planned assassination. “No conclusion is made as to guilt,” the report states, but: “Evidence points to the 15-person mission to execute Mr. Khashoggi requiring significant government coordination, resources and finances.”

Trump’s historic mission for world headlines goes beyond his reverence for dictators who dismember press critics with bone-cutters to a handshake in the DMZ with Kim. It’s huge even in an age of hyper-spin and hucksters’ hornswoggle.

Yet a shadow must fall. Shit happens, as Tony Abbott will tell you -even to a military man like Donald, a bone-spur draft exemption veteran, the man who put the offence in charm offensive, a roué who tells Howard Stern on Stern’s radio show repeatedly, that avoiding STDs was “my Viet Nam”. Trump jests he should get the Congressional Medal of Honor.

In the May 7, 1998 appearance, obtained and reviewed by CNN’s KFile, Trump also said “women are worse than men, they’re more sexually aggressive than men,” adding, “If they’re married they’re even worse.”

Trump also tells Stern and co-host Robin Quivers the key to his Miss Universe contest, “we don’t base it on talent, we don’t base it on brains.” In an earlier interview he calls his daughter, Ivanka is a piece of ass. In other talks he calls her voluptuous; comments on her figure and her breasts.

Trump is about to jet off to top this year’s G20 Circus, which is all about himself and his diplomatic, deal-making genius, when he is savaged by writer and journalist E Jean Carroll who alleges that he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman store dressing room in Manhattan in the 1990s. Trump airily brushes aside his twenty-first accusation of sexual misconduct.

“He opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway – or completely, I’m not certain – inside me,” Carroll details how Trump raped her in a department store change room.

It’s just another bum rap, claims The Donald. Besides, she’s “not his type”. “It never happened. He denies he’s ever met Carroll- despite photographs and testimony of two other women, Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach. He issues a written disclaimer.

Undeterred, the President sets a personal best in offence by publicly insulting Japan, India and Germany within hours of touching down in Osaka for G20, 2019. It’s the annual Neoliberal gab-fest and photo-opportunity in vacuous fatuity which originated in a real need for nations to cooperate to survive the GFC but which is now well past its use by date.

Co-operating to survive is heresy in a White House where a rules-based world order is less popular than nuking Tehran. There’s no risk of any change to “Bush-era war hawk,” John Bolton and “cheerleader of hatred”, Mike Pompeo’s mad plan to attack Iran. Nor will Trump budge in his equally disastrous trade war with China, for all his bluster about “continuing talks”.

But now he’s talked up a tariff war with America’s largest trading partner outside the EC, he can talk it down. It’s one of Trump’s typical approaches to negotiation. Bully-boy tactics are followed by some degree of appeasement. In this case his next wave of tariffs will be postponed. Huawei may be able to import US materials but who knows? Trump has made no specific commitments, Reuters reports.

The world’s two largest economies remain locked in the midst of a bitter and mutually disastrous trade war despite Trump’s sanguine mood.

It’s déjà vu all over again to Phil Coorey, guru of The Australian Financial Review, an arm of Nine Entertainment,

“So here we are again, new city, same situation. The WTO still hasn’t been reformed, the trade war is worsening and the world awaits another meeting between Trump and Xi.”

Luckily, Trump fanboy, little Aussie groveler, Scottie Morrison, is just busting to schmooze The Godfather of the free world.  Hard-working Australians thrill to see our taxes hard at work flying ScoMo’s crack trade squad business class to Japan just for “a working dinner” with The Donald, his family and a few toadies on staff he hasn’t had time to sack yet.

As bad luck would have it, some of ScoMo’s lies are catching up with him now that Liberal hack Niki Savva’s book is out and extracts from others including Turnbull himself and his fan, David Crowe, are appearing in The Australian. The transparent lie that Morrison did not plot to remove Turnbull is surely untenable in the face of an expanding body of opposing evidence.

Yet ScoMo dismisses his past behaviour. Being a disloyal liar last August is no clue to his present character. He says he knows we aren’t interested in ancient history. We’ve got exciting new unaffordable tax cuts to look forward to. A progressive tax system to flatten to accelerate our rapidly accelerating social and economic inequality. In the meantime, another foreign invasion would help restore some of ScoMo & Co’s waning credibility at home.

ScoMo & Co are so eager to help put pressure on Iran that no-one even bothers to ask what that means. Nor does the PM raise tricky stuff like bothering The Donald to ask Kim if he knows the whereabouts of 29 year-old Perth student, Alek Sigley who disappeared in North Korea a week ago. Trump’s got enough on his plate without finding lost Aussies.

Besides direct questions are dangerous. Morrison suggests we must temper our compassion with indirection – or something. His response is typically oblique, indirect, inadequate and offers little hope to Sigley’s wife and family.

“I will just be measured in what I say because that is all about using the best opportunities we have right now to, to inform ourselves about where Alek is and what his safety is and where he is being held, in what conditions,” cop-out Morrison tells reporters on Saturday evening. Our tough on borders door bitch is too afraid to tackle Kim.

President Pinocchio tells everyone he predicted Scott’s victory all along. How good are Trump’s lies? He makes a cryptic witticism in the midst of his self congratulation. It baffles everyone. Is it a droll non-sequitur or just a bloke’s joke?

“They called it an upset, but I don’t call it an upset. You probably didn’t. Your wife didn’t call it an upset,” gags the subtle funster as he takes a rise out of a fawning ScoMo & Co at the Thursday dinner. Cue over-hearty, sycophantic guffaws. Is that a rocket in Hockey’s pocket, or is he just happy to play golf with a lying, narcissistic psychopath who cheats? Or is he just turned on by wealth?

Along with normalising Trump with his mindless sycophancy, ScoMo has his own stunt to get a bit of international attention. Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Snapchat and other social media delinquents need to stop hosting terrorist stuff, he says. Terrorism is bad. Other leaders are overjoyed there’s at least a chance to be part of something join in,

“The internet must not be a safe haven for terrorists to recruit, incite or prepare terrorist acts,” leaders agree solemnly in the mother of all motherhood statements. Yet it’s the laughably earnest, toothless, injunction that follows that exposes the G20’s impotence. It’s not so much a toothless tiger as a pussy-cat in high dudgeon.

“We urge online platforms to meet our citizens’ expectations that they must not allow use of their platforms to facilitate terrorism and VECT. Platforms have an important responsibility to protect their users.”

The statement is a Morrisonian masterpiece of sonorous but evasive vacuity, an apparent tough stand which is in fact a retreat from real commitment. It’s symbolic and voluntary and compels tech companies to do nothing; nor the nations to pass the sort of beaut new surveillance and security laws which since 2011, we have eagerly invented to turn ourselves into a police state. But we’ve jumped the shark. Australia has already legislated in this area,

As Josh Taylor reminds us we passed “world first” laws in April creating new offences for service providers that fail to remove videos depicting “abhorrent violent conduct” including terrorist acts, murders, torture, rape or kidnapping. But isn’t the state guilty of abhorrent violent conduct itself constraining refugees indefinitely on Manus and Nauru?

Service providers won’t be able to host evidence of the Coalition government’s own brutality and inhumanity. Australia’s report, released to coincide with the gabfest, in fact may do more than the whole G20 in terms of putting pressure on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and other social media. Yet, as another means to censorship and government secrecy, it may have unintended consequences.

The torture of refugees by indefinite detention in Australia’s offshore prisons does not rate a mention from ScoMo’s audience. State terror? No way. Trump is upbeat about our sadistic cruelty to those innocents whose only fault is to be wretchedly dispossessed and alienated; forced to throw themselves on our mercy. Deny them medical treatment. It helps deter others. There is general approbation of the nonsense of strong borders. Yet our vast borders have never been so porous.

Asylum-seeker arrivals by plane are at an all time high, according to Home Affairs, which processed 27,931 protection visa applications last financial year. The men, women and children who fly here are less likely to be “genuine refugees”

Despite its claim of stopping the boats, the Coalition’s own data shows it’s soft on borders. In four years, 64,362 protection visa applications have been made by un-vetted individuals who have arrived by plane writes Michael Pascoe, clear evidence that Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton have been ineffectual immigration or border enforcing ministers. And liars.

Other leaders make sympathetic noises. How good is ScoMo’s idea that we police social media? Ban it perhaps? How can (US) Citizen Murdoch stay in power with social media correcting his falsehoods; presenting accurate information?

Tuesday, Trump posts a series of our anti-asylum posters which say:  “If you come here by boat without a visa you won’t be settled in Australia” and “Australia’s borders are closed to illegal migration”.  “Much can be learned!” he tweets. Learned? The Coalition’s ongoing inhumanity and breach of international refugee convention is now a toxic contagion?

Tragically, some of ScoMo&Co’s limelight is stolen by Christopher Pyne’s brilliant new career. The Fixer’s been snapped up by EY, (formerly Ernest and Young) which breaks all ministerial guidelines for his expertise which includes the hunt the Slipper diary farce and his bastardry as Leader of The House, a role invented by IPA stooge, Bob Menzies in 1951.

One in four ministers go on to become lobbyists, reports The Grattan Institute. A Guardian investigation last year found over half of all registered lobbyists previously worked in some government role or for major political parties.

Expect the first question time of the new parliament to be taken up with at least a few Labor questions about Fixer Pyne being able to fix himself up so soon and in defence, such a bottomless pit of funds to shovel out. But without a code of conduct with real sanctions, there is no way to shut the revolving door. Or safeguard our democracy from being further corrupted by vested interests.

Despite his best efforts and a slew of expert has-beens, including occasional Trump golf partner and professional leaner, Joe Hockey but, oddly, not Marise Payne, our stay-at-home Foreign Minister, ScoMo can only insult Australians with his sickening sycophancy; grovelling to the monster-baby whose trade war with China and baiting of Iran could unfix us all.

Trump’s Osakan hosts are beguiled as the American President says the U.S.-Japanese defence alliance is unfair. Happily, funster Trump adds a commercial promo to his gaffe, joking that if the almighty United States were attacked, Tokyo could leave Washington in the lurch and instead “watch it on a Sony television.” Allies love to feel needed. Laughed at.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, whose stagey and supremely ill at ease act as Super Mario, an Italian plumber climbing out of a pipe, at the closing of the Rio Olympics, upstages anything his policies or charisma-bypass personality could ever achieve, is somehow this year’s perfect host. Abe is to the G20’s success as Tom Gleeson’s Gold Logie is to The sacred Logies but host aside, – and who can forget Tony Abbott quizzing G20 leaders about how to solve his brilliant doctor’s co-payment ideas in 2014 – the G20 is its own toxic self-parody. The world waits in eager anticipation of the Saudi show next year.

Perhaps MBS, like the great god capitalism, will lead by invisible hand to issue a communique of the need for arms dealers everywhere to assume their rightful legal liability for the injuries, suffering and property damage inflicted by their products. We have similar arrangements for other commercial products and services. Of course, we’d need to talk sense into insurance companies with their weasel worded “acts of war” clauses allowing them not to pay out as at present.

While we are at it, we could make Adani and other coal miners legally liable for damage caused by global warming boosted by the use of their product anywhere in the world. And environmental devastation.

Finally, to be inclusive of our generous Saudi hosts, let’s have a similar liability for the sale and subsequent use of hydrocarbon products, especially dirty diesel. That’d be a cracker of a G20.

 

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ScoMo’s big speech reveals no ideas; no agenda, mandate.

“The only one who matters is me.” Donald J Trump

The Great Satan, as the US was to Iran in the ’70s, morphs into The Angel of Mons last week. Or at least that’s the lie peddled by its fabulist President. Heroically compassionate, a Walter Mitty Trump averts catastrophe; pulls back from the brink of war with Iran, Friday, with ten minutes to spare, when a general tells him that 150 Iranian lives are at risk.

Sceptics prefer less noble versions of events. Trump blabs. He brags, Thursday, to Tehran via Oman, that US planes are on their way; taking the surprise out of last Friday’s surprise attack, an unprovoked air strike on three targets, which, MSM insist, is “retaliation” for Iran downing one US drone. And other stuff. Why, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is giving secret briefings on Iran’s Al-Qaeda relationship – despite expert advice to the contrary. What hasn’t Iran done?

There’s its alleged nuclear program defiance; its alleged flouting of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. Attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman? Six oil tankers and a downed drone. Clear proof of Iranian perfidy. But, then just as the hawks in Trump administration have a war all organised, Trump has to blow it with his big mouth.

Reuters reports that Trump tells Iran US planes are coming, before he countermands his order to attack, a scenario which The Donald now denies. More fake news from a rogue news agency? Few observers, however, share Trump’s heroic view of his own SNAFU. Politizoom’s Dino Durrati is dumbfounded by the president’s error.

What would be stupider than starting a war with the Mid-East’s largest and most militarily capable U.S. adversary over what was essentially an Amazon delivery gone astray? “How about ordering U.S. planes in the air against one of the most sophisticated air defences in the region while warning said adversaries they were coming?”

What would be even dumber would be an Iranian adventure on top of his trade wars. Trump is on the edge of a war his populist presidency doesn’t want or need“Great Nations do not fight endless wars”, the President declares, in his State of the Union address, a line he repeats, last week, at a rally to launch his re-election campaign circus.

But can he stay out of a war? He’s not looking for a war he says but promises obliteration if there’s conflict. Tough talk. We’ve heard this sort of rhetoric before. North Korea. What Trump does seem to grasp is that a war will lose him votes.

Trump certainly doesn’t have the nous not to provoke a disastrous global trade war. That’s clear from his quip that trade wars are “good and easy to win”. He could only say that if he knew nothing about them. Surely.

Trump’s view of trade is based on overestimating how much trade hurts the US, while underestimating the effect of imposing tariffs. ScoMo’s mentor, Trump, believes the US is losing $400 billion to China because that’s the size of its trade deficit with that nation. It’s a view which ignores the value of imports; focusing instead only on the amount paid.

It’s like saying that we lose money anytime we go shopping anywhere, because stores aren’t buying anything from us in return says The Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien. Blow up the world trade system? Meh. What could possibly go wrong?

From our gung-ho ScoMo government, ever-promising to protect us – “burn for us” –  comes peak silence. Our “media-shy” foreign minister Marise Payne is MIA, although, to be fair, she’s got Malaysia’s Mahathir to set straight about MH17. Luckily, there’s heaps of stuff from Neoliberalism for Dummies for ScoMo to eagerly recite instead.

“Animal Spirits” will be unleashed, ScoMo proclaims, in a dreary rehash of clichés, Monday . The PM copies The Donald, conflating Keynes’ phrase with consumer confidence and laissez-faire economics. Why? “Animal spirits” will roar like a lion when we release the cage of “regulatory and bureaucratic barriers to businesses.” But why so late?

The Coalition has had six years to deregulate. Yet it still can provide no detail. Nor point to any record of success. Perhaps it’s just too modest. In the news currently is Private Security Company, Paladin, awarded $423 million to garrison Manus, without having to worry about an open tender. Or there’s the $444 million quietly slipped to the Great Barrier Reef Foundation a mob of Liberal mates headed up by a former CBA chairman, Dr John M Schubert.

Then there’s Fossil-fuel Energy minister, Angus Taylor, who’s held talks with federal environment officials over an issue at the centre of an illegal land-clearing action brought by the same department against a company part-owned by him and his brother, reports Guardian Australia. We should cheer the healthy disregard for regulation and the way the government appears to back the Taylor family in its alleged quest to bend the rules to help the Taylors to a better life.

What barriers are left unbent if not unbroken in these fabulous cases? Yet no-one take ScoMo at his word. It’s more of a mantra, a phrase to chant, to drown out those voices which, like Keynes himself, advocate government stimulus. If the Coalition needed a hint, it could look at Kevin Rudd’s stimulus programmes which helped get us through the GFC.

Yet, instead, as Greg Jericho reminds us, the Liberal Party and much of the media’s own relentless criticism means that the value of Labor’s successful stimulus has been almost entirely discredited – at least – in what we flatter ourselves is our national conversation not to mention our dominant mainstream media narrative. It means that what can be shown to work is discarded in favour of vague and platitudinous neo-liberal nostrums. Animal spirits will save us.

But there’s more. A “champion in every Australian” awaits the government’s support to emerge. Quiet Australians just need the Coalition to “back them in”, as they do everything they can to “get ahead and make a better life”.

Quiet Australians are the heroes of the PM’s first official ear-bash. His lucky audience is the WA Chamber of Commerce, at a “Breakfast with the Prime Minister” ($139-$1490), Monday. Animal spirits are the way the economy will run itself while governments get out of the road? Or into Hi-Vis vests? Who knows? The text of the speech is incoherent.

Sensibly dispensing with any original thinking, Morrison regurgitates the stale rhetoric he thinks the nation wants to hear in a speech which is prudently dispatched to media ahead of the occasion, as a safeguard against its instant forgettability. Deregulation and IR reform quickly emerge as key buzzwords in his government’s war on workers.

Reforms that would truly spur productivity, stimulate investment and innovation have been provided for ScoMo’s reference. In 2017, the Productivity Commission supplied the then Treasurer with a swag in its Shifting The Dial Report.

Shifting the Dial focuses on improving efficiency and effectiveness in health and education and making infrastructure investments based on genuine benefit-cost analysis. Proper infrastructure pricing would include congestion pricing, land taxes, breaking up the pharmacy racket and a carbon price.

Better education levels and skills, a healthier workforce, and more efficient and effective health and education systems were all aims of The Human Capital Agenda, led by Steve Bracks’ Victorian government. The aim was to increase productivity, participation and output through these means.

But like Trump, you can’t tell a ScoMo what he doesn’t want to hear. Or can’t understand. Or suggests failure.

Wage rises are not only glacial, Australian workers are cheated of their share of the nation’s prosperity to a record extent. The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) shows in this month’s national accounts that Australia is now in the worst wages slump – relative to total earnings – since records were first published in 1959, reports Alan Austin.

Trump’s economic miracle, a piece of wilful disinformation and self-delusion features large in ScoMo’s tiny orbit.

“While reducing taxes has had a major impact in the United States, it was actually the Trump administration’s commitment to cutting red tape and transforming the regulatory mindset of the bureaucracy that delivered their first wave of improvement in their economy.”  Is there no journalist in Perth can challenge this toxic nonsense?

In fact there’s almost no response at all from mainstream media to the PM’s speech drop – apart from the AFR which takes it seriously and some doctrinaire posturing from the Australian which prints Judith Sloan hollering to bring back WorkChoices and some right wing git from the IPA who’s like Pavlov’s dog whenever deregulation appears in print.

Other of Nine’s papers run almost nothing on the speech, apart from a precis from David Crowe while the ABC is far too busy with its single-issue flat tax blather to do any analysis of the Prime Minister’s first major gum-flap. The Guardian’s Amy Remeikis fires up a bit. Bernard Keane thinks the lack of comment or analysis is a pretty poor show.

He’s right. There’s a beguiling conflict between braying for deregulation on the one hand in Perth and practically nationalising power companies by imposing – or threatening to impose heavy-handed, big stick, regulation. More important as far as workers are concerned, Howard’s WorkChoices actually caused productivity to slump. Morrison’s being inconsistent and as an economic doctor, he’s peddling an old remedy which we know will injure the patient.

As for Trump, ScoMo’s love is blind. US business leader, Leo Hindery argues Trump’s economic miracle is a mirage. Hindery’s “U.S. Real Unemployment” report challenges federal government’s statistics. Because it includes the millions of Americans who either did not look for work or cannot find full-time work, it paints a far more troubling picture.

In this light, the Trump economy’s unemployment rate is revealed to be double the official rate. Even workers with jobs eke out a bare subsistence. 40% of Americans for example, cannot afford an unexpected expense of $400, according to the Federal Reserve, yet half of the nation’s income goes to its top 3% of salary earners.

The average US worker hasn’t had a real wage increase since 1968.

“The real unemployment in this country,” argues Hindery, “is still on the order of 8.1%, which contrasts with the much lower Bureau of Labour Statistics’ unemployment rate of 4%. There’s about 13.3 million women and men who are in every sense of the phrase real unemployed workers.”

Trump’s trade wars are forcing his nation’s farmers into taking out desperation loans. Farmers have seen their net income plummet by half since 2013. It’s estimated that they will owe nearly $427 billion in debt this year. Yet there is no sense of any flaw in the Trump economic miracle if you listen to our PM, his treasurer or any other MP.

Fresh from his Fijian furlough, the master buck-passer bores yet another selfless, nation-building, tax-evading, rorty, yawning, business audience who are only there to hear about their tax cuts – surely only months away now given ScoMo’s huge mandate based on the Coalition’s thumping 1.2 % TPP election win? OK, there’s the networking.

Amy Remeikis sees red.  “After six years of promising to cut red tape,” Amy Remeikis writes in The Guardian, “Morrison uses his first major speech since winning the election to promise to cut red tape. Perhaps it’s a bizarre homage to Tony Abbott who held his own bonfire of red tape stunt back in March 2014. ScoMo picks another dreadful mentor.

Or is it mere contempt for voters’ intelligence and an alarming public indifference toward any form of accountability? In a related stunt, in 2014, then Immigration Minister Morrison abandoned press conferences on asylum-seeker arrivals.

First, he axed his department’s practice of announcing the arrival of each boat carrying asylum seekers. A weekly briefing would replace it. Then he scrapped the weekly briefing. A weekly press release took its place. This cut journalists’ questions, entirely. Pressed for explanation, Morrison cited “public interest immunity”.

It did help the minister get home to his family in Sydney earlier at the end of the parliamentary week.

It was, Laurie Oakes protested, a “disgusting attitude to the public’s right to know”. Morrison giving journalists “the finger”, and said, “By doing that, you’re saying that you don’t care if the voters are informed or not.”

But even when Morrison used to appear, he created his own absurdist theatre of refusal of accountability and secrecy. Inventing the myth that we were at war with asylum-seekers, he helped weaponise compassion. He could embargo questions into what he called “on-water matters”. Or “operational matters”. Absurdist exchanges followed.

It’s groundhog day – mostly. ScoMo drones on about deregulation and other neoliberal clichés he fobs off as “government economic priorities”. Onya Morrison, it beats having an agenda or a mandate for anything.

And it beats doing anything yourself. Keane notes in disgust, Monday, that Scomo’s reform agenda is a re-hash of Neocon tosh the PM doesn’t have the bottle to flog himself. “We would expect business organisations such as yours to build the evidence for change and help bring the community along with you too.” The Messiah from the Shire is on fire.

The message, observes David Crowe in the SMH, astutely, is a direct call to business leaders to make the case for industrial relations “reform” – a weasel-word for attacking workers’ right – without committing Morrison’s government to any specific proposal while shifty ScoMo leaves it up to others to lead the debate.

In fact, much of Morrison’s hoary commonplaces echo a speech made just over a year ago by Craig Laundy, then Minister for Small and Family Business, the Workplace and Deregulation, whom everyone agrees has done a fabulous job in creating opportunities for wealth if the Taylor family is anything to go by.

Of course, there’s the obligatory nod to The Donald; his political mentor Trump, the economic miracle man of the moment, a natural leader of the free world and most decisive Commander in Chief in recent history, who has inspired ScoMo on how to cut red tape to “supercharge the economy” by removing regulations from the resources industry.

While toxics may mock a president who has second thoughts on war or whose administration is at war with itself, they have failed to give due credit for the ways Trump’s mob has been busily stripping protections from a staggering 13.5 million acres of American lands and waters.

A new Center for American Progress analysis shows how Trump’s executive actions make him a world leader when it comes to cutting red tape previously protecting pristine natural environments—which he claimed he’d protect. Trump’s been incredibly successful in rescinding permanent land protections and in permitting mineral extraction.

Our great and powerful friend the United States steps back from the brink of a catastrophic war with Iran, last Friday when its president blabs details of his imminent attack. But is it a United States?

It’s at least eleven separate nations according to Robert Woodard. And it shows. What passes for the Trump administration’s policy is almost as divided. Yet our nation cleaves to Uncle Sam in servile subjugation, even professing we are forever, joined at the hip. Who did save the US from catastrophic war with Iran? Did Fox News’ Tucker Carlson, an Islamophobic, misogynistic, populist, racist talk show host catch the president’s ear?

Carlson who argues against war, sways the US President into calling off a “retaliatory” missile strike on “three different sights (sic)” in Iran. Disaster is averted – at least until tomorrow’s crisis. Such is Trump’s Pax Americana,

On Saturday, Trump brands Bolton a “hawk” who had been wrong for his previous support of the U.S. invasion of Iraq during the George W. Bush administration. Trump said he doesn’t always agree with Bolton, who has called for regime change in Iran but said he likes hearing a range of views.

“Ultimately, I make the decision. The only one that matters is me. I listen to everybody. I want people on both sides,” Trump says. Of course it’s not true but it’s still too alarming to contemplate.

Luckily we have our own Trump in Morrison, who is more than happy to discard expert advice on real reform in favour of sticking with what he knows, the endless recital of neo-liberal slogans about deregulation and industrial “reform” all mixed in with platitudes about backing in “quiet Australians” and lies about how well the economy is doing.

Like Trump, moreover, ScoMo’s always got someone else to blame. Expect an attack on Labor when parliament resumes next Tuesday 2 July. John Setka will be slandered.

“Union thugs” will seldom be far from our Prime Bully, ScoMo’s grab-bag of cheap insults. All remaining government energies will be focused on passing a tax cut bill the nation neither needs nor can afford based on a trickle-down delusion. Yet no-one will explain the true cost in terms of cuts to government spending; public services.

Expect more nonsense about animal spirits and no sense at all about how a government devoid of any policy agenda and lacking any real mandate can resist all intelligence yet trust instead in a failed and totally discredited neo-liberal ideology that continues to help divide and cheat a prosperous and vital nation of its rightful heritage.

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Dutton’s naked power grab

“Our nation faces a slow decline if it takes no action on its major economic, social and environmental challenges.”

Unless we act boldly; commit to long-term thinking, we face a poorer, bleaker future. It’s the big idea of the Australian National Outlook 2019 (ANO 2019), a report published Wednesday, 12 June, by CSIRO whose partners include fifty leaders across twenty-two major Australian organisations from industry, the not-for-profit and education sectors.

Ken Henry is on 7:30 Report, Tuesday, to explain how this ANO has a new section on loss of trust and social cohesion.

“We all know why trust’s a concern” he says, straight-faced. Irony doesn’t cut it in an age of deep fakery. Perhaps Ken counts on our forgetting his smart-arse testimony to the Banking Royal Commission, an appalling performance which led to his standing down as NAB Chairman.

As he professed at the time, “I did not perform well. I really should have performed quite differently. I should have been much more open.”

Yep. Bugger honesty; integrity. It’s all about performance. Authenticity is the most important thing in corporate life. When you can fake that, you’ve got it made.

Clearly, Ken has no clue why trust’s a concern. Nor does The Liar from the Shire, our accidental PM, who never lifted a finger in the Turnbull coup. So he says. A month after ScoMo surprises everyone, including himself, by winning an election, which he pretended was a popularity contest between himself and Bill Shorten, a poll decided largely by betraying the trust of rural voters; hoodwinking regional Queensland and WA, he takes a leaf from Tony Abbott’s book. “Not-Me” Morrison makes a virtue of doing nothing. Man needs a break. Fear-mongering takes it out of you.

ScoMo takes “a brief, well-earned break” according to his press drop to The Herald Sun. It’s a secluded (expensive) family island holiday in Fiji, a state which doesn’t muck around pretending to a free press. Or free speech.

Besides, the hard work’s already been done. Expanding national security; “bigging up” Big Brother. Now ScoMo can sit back. Watch Going Batty, the latest episode of How Bad is John Setka?, a boo-the-union-thug melodrama, a Coalition-News-Corp production, while “Thumper” Dutton finesses our final descent into a mass surveillance police state.

Certainly that’s the plan, as News Corp’s, Annika Smethurst, reported in April 2018, warning us about a proposed abuse of state power. Her work led to her home being invaded by an AFP squad 4 June this year. A reprisal? No. The raid was about the ­“alleged publishing of information classified as an official secret” that police said “had the potential to undermine national security”. While some may view the charge as impossibly broad, no-one’s been arrested yet. Nor may any arrest be expected, says the AFP before it cops a theatrical, hypocritical, spray from its Murdoch-crat fans.

“This raid demonstrates a dangerous act of intimidation towards those committed to telling uncomfortable truths.”

Let News Corp bullies fulminate about intimidation, it’s all good publicity to Peter Dutton. Or the cat’s well and truly out of the bag. The Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) a military intelligence arm, will be empowered to spy on civilians, as Ms Smethurst said, a move which Dutton says on ABC Insiders Sunday, warrants “a sensible discussion”.

Dutton is of course not bound by fact and embellishes his interview with Annabel Crabb by claiming that “he’d got all children out of detention here in Australia”, whereas, at that very moment, two-year-old Tharunicaa is waiting to celebrate her birthday at the Melbourne Immigration Detention Centre. Her strawberry cheesecake birthday cake is refused entry in yet another reminder of the tenderness and mercy extended to those youngsters yet in Dutton’s care.

Tharunicaa is one of four small girls aged between one and four in the centre, which also imprisons a seventeen-year-old boy. Her parents, Priya and Nades have been incarcerated with her following a dawn raid fifteen months ago.

On the theme of sensible discussion, Rebekah Holt reports in Crikey that Border Force has previously disputed the definition of detention regarding baby Isabella and her mother Huyen, who are held in the same unit with Tharunicaa and her family. Lawyers and the UN agree, semantics aside, that Isabella is a detained child. Yet the Morrison government insists that the child and some others, be classified as guests to get around the law on detaining children.

Imagine how much more sensible Dutto’s discussion might be if the Minister could admit that Tharunicaa exists. Last year, her father also assiduously filled out a form requesting permission his daughter be allowed a birthday cake brought in by a friend. Then, as now, it was refused. It’s not petty cruelty, however, but merely a sensible precaution in the circumstances. Imagine the flood of refugees crowding our shores if we were known to be soft on kids’ birthday cakes.

A sensible discussion erupts in our main daily newspaper claque, radio and on TV networks, especially Sky TV. It consists of madly agreeing with Peter. Cheering. How we have to trade off a bit of fatuous free speech for the government’s hugely important (both for national security and in the national interest) need to keep secrets. ScoMo gets Paul Fletcher on ABC to help him with a commitment that’s worthy of an episode of Yes Minister.

Some journos question the PM regarding the AFP raids to rough up the press. ScoMo is a model of ponderous solicitude, despite wilfully misreading the question, as how a law which is rotten at its core may, somehow, be made better.

“If there is a suggestion or evidence, or any analysis, that reveals that there is a need for further improvement of those laws, well, the government is always open to that,” Morrison says. But the principles of maintaining national security and freedom of the press both have to be honoured. So? “I intend to proceed calmly, and soberly, and consultatively”.

Will he support a parliamentary inquiry into press freedom? Morrison evades the question on Tuesday, “What I’m going to do on this issue is listen carefully. I think we have to keep these matters in perspective”.

In other words, ScoMo intends to do nothing. Hope that it all blows over. Besides, Peter Dutton can sweet-talk anyone.

After all, as Pete says, the last thing we want is to let paedophile rings, terror networks, or the odd transnational crime syndicate (not Adani) get under our radar. Oddly, however, not all politicians favour such an increase in surveillance.

It’s “a dangerous and unjustified attack on fundamental rights”, protests Nick McKim, The Greens’ justice spokesperson, who quite properly takes exception at proposed laws to enable a government to spy on its people.

“For the Liberals to try to push this through just days after raids on journalists shows how little they respect basic rights and freedom of the press … No further powers should be granted to security agencies without a thorough review of existing laws, and until our rights are properly enshrined and protected in a Charter of Rights.”

Bernard Keane reports of a “power grab” by Home Affairs. At least, that’s how it seems to the Intelligence Community. A turf war rages as Mike Pezzullo, Home Affairs Czar, annexes the Australian Signals Directorate. Or at least asserts enough control to permit it to spy on civilians. It may well be one of those things that is best managed by Morrison on holiday in Fiji. On the other hand, its success can only help Peter Dutton with his enormous leadership ambitions. Already, he is technically more powerful than the PM. With even more powers, he will become impossible to manage.

The grab has other implications for civil society. Whilst he does not subscribe to the “spying on civilians” scenario, Keane does note “the proposal would include the ASD not merely advising corporations on cybersecurity but being allowed full access to their IT systems in order to “protect” them. The result would be the ASD having unfettered access to vast amounts of private information about the consumers and businesses that use that corporation’s servers — all under the guise of protecting the community from cybersecurity threats.”

ScoMo has no policy platform apart from a Tea-Party thought bubble which media insist on calling “tax relief” or “lowering the tax burden”. It further flattens our once-progressive system with unjust tax cuts for the rich which we can’t afford. A third tranche in 2024-5 will cost us $95 billion over five years, calculates senior economist, Matt Grudnoff at The Australia Institute. Overwhelmingly, high income earners will benefit. So ScoMo copies Abbo. Goes to ground.

“I want the people to know that calm, steady, purposeful government has returned; a government that’s about the substance of getting things done, not about the theatre of putting things on the front page.” Tony Abbott pronounced hopefully, with his own unique irony bypass and pious piffle filter working overdrive in 10 Sept 2013.

Observers of Abbo’s achievement are less generous. “An utter waste of space” is Laura Tingle‘s withering verdict in 2017, well after the self-abortive Abbott experiment collapsed under the inertia of its own ineptitude. “Secrets R Us” ScoMo will follow the same route but more quietly. And it may take a while. Warringah has only recently come to share Tingle’s view, despite the budgie smuggler’s brilliant, last-ditch attempt to re-invent himself as the father of marriage equality.

“When all is said and done, I helped to make the thing happen,” the former PM tells The Sydney Morning Herald, skipping the fact that from the onset, he vociferously opposed any change to John Howard’s Marriage Act. What he says next will form a gold standard in ministerial political accountability especially among Liberal Party neoconservatives.

“I set up the process which opened up the possibility and even the likelihood of change. Now that it has happened, I absolutely accept the outcome. It’s the law of the land and that’s the way it is.”  

Calm, steady and purposeful? Rarely are we blessed with such sublime self-parody. In 2015, Abbott was thrown into blind panic at the prospect of a real party room debate on marriage equality. It’s how we got the half a billion postal thingy which began as a plebiscite and then was moulded into a postal something on Peter Dutton’s suggestion.

As for the theatre, Abbott’s cabinet leaked all over the front page of The Australian or Daily Tele whenever it suited him, a tactic already avidly embraced by his heir-apparent to the fun of quietly getting things done, ScoMo, the totalitarian.

Abbott is a Caspar Milquetoast compared with ScoMo’s back-stabbing, ABC raiding, water-rorting, secrecy-obsessed, FOI refusing, Banking Royal Commission-resisting cabal of God-botherers, noddies and mining lobby shills.

True, the Abbottocracy did a lot of lasting damage. Its nihilistic climate change denial, its petty and pernicious hyper-partisanship, its war on renewable energy, the environment, the poor and its madness in mistaking Julie Bishop’s Aid budget for a cash cow, have all helped reduce us. Above all, his dud political judgement took its toll. Those who chart the Liberal Party’s decline under John Howard cannot ignore the toxic legacy of his spoilt acolyte, Abbott.

Getting things done? Or undone? Australia has one of the highest per capita carbon emissions in the world – yet it is the only nation in the world to actually repeal a carbon price? 17 July 2014 ought to be another type of national sorry day.

But how good is that front page? Much as Morrison is doing now, with the John Setka panto, Abbott hoped that by continuing to harp on the Gillard government’s supposed instability, the nation would miss his own stunningly crud judgement. Who can forget Prince Philip’s knighthood, the Bronwyn Bishop expenses fiasco or the Dyson Heydon imbroglio? Yet one enduring act of Abbott-sabotage is that our Tories end up believing their own News Corp chorus.

Morrison’s Follies follow both the trend to self-destruction and the rhetoric: the pretence that when it’s not throttling democracy or spending seven hours embarrassing and intimidating a free press journalist quietly at her home, it’s somehow nation-building because it has nothing to show – no programme – no vision and no sign of a set of policies

Yet barely four weeks out of the blocks, ScoMo’s show, another supposed tribute to the “Quiet Australians” he credits with bringing him his “miracle victory”  is already a riot of evasion and division with a power grab and police busts and a turf war waged on the Australian Signals Directorate by Home Affairs, the Department of Megalomania, created against all advice, by a Malcolm Turnbull whose reliably poor political judgement caused him to try to buy off power-hungry Dutton and his Monkey Pod roommates. Not even ScoMo can assert that sort of authority.

This week, ScoMo puts in some hard slog on Tony’s invisibility project. Does nothing. Holidays on an exotic coral atoll as yet undrowned by a steadily rising sea. Opening up the Galilee Basin to six new coal mines will help with that.  But it’s no respite. Apart from a pledge of tax cuts by 1 July, a vow which cannot be honoured, the policy void that is the Morrison government is rapidly filled, as Paul Bongiorno gently notes, by the ghastly “spectre of an incipient police state”.  And by the odd cameo role from our protector Dutton on birthday cake duty. Forget Setka, ScoMo, Dutto’s right behind you.

Josh Frydenberg is despatched to the US. Tuesday, he’s full of admiration for Trump’s tax cuts. Fran Kelly on Radio National Breakfast shares his joy. No point in being a party-pooper. Fact-checking a Treasurer who has yet to give any evidence that he is anything more than a neoliberal shill could not possibly be in the national interest. It may well be a threat to national security. Especially given that he’s refused to budge from his mission to balance the budget.

In fact, Trump’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts that came into effect last year have failed to raise workers’ wages, boost economic growth, or stimulate business investment.

A recent US study by the bipartisan Congressional Research Centre suggests that in Australia, too, most workers’ pay will not rise nor will jobs grow. Nor will tax cuts boost investment or help any other measure of productivity. Only four percent of US workers have seen a bonus or pay increase following Trump’s tax cuts.

Far from creating jobs, corporations, such as GM, have laid off thousands of workers while using tax windfalls to buy back $1 trillion of their own stock. In America, as in Australia, corporate executives and rich investors are the real beneficiaries of tax cuts. GM posted a tax windfall of $157m in the first three months of 2018 thanks to the cut.

If and when parliament meets again, the government intends to put its tax cuts forward as one portmanteau bill. It is unlikely at this stage it will have anything but rave reviews from The Australian and unqualified support from the rest of News Corp. Whether it can persuade the senate cross bench, is, however, another matter. Already, Senator Rex Patrick, who shows sterling independence as an Alliance Party cross-bencher, has complained of bullying from Home Affairs Mike Pezzullo, a spat which Dutto says is all sorted out now in his nurturing, non-judgemental fashion.

“it was counterproductive because I have always found Senator Patrick to be a person of the sort of character who would seek to misrepresent the secretary’s words, and the secretary agreed the contact was not appropriate and that is where the matter ends”.

It has to be the best non-censure and least impartial intervention between a Minister and his chief of staff in political history. No wonder even Ken Henry can come on national TV to bemoan our lack of trust. ScoMo appears unafflicted, however, and doubtless when he does return from the South Pacific, he’ll find his government all shipshape and Bristol fashion and Captain Dutto on deck ready to pipe him aboard – in the most respectful non-insubordinate way. You wouldn’t count on him to bake a cake though.

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ScoMo embraces police state in a shocker of a week

Three weeks after its slender election victory, the Morrison government is all at sea. Three Chinese warships steam into Sydney Harbour uninvited. Spring our ring of steel. Laugh at our border security. PLA navy sailors roam The Emerald City, on a four day sleepover. And a shop. Cans of infant formula walk out the door. Sailors can double their money re-selling Aptamil back in China. Pooh-poohing “conspiracy theorists”, The Australian eagerly spins a yarn that the Chinese warships are on a “baby milk raid”.

Taken by surprise, but never taken aback, ScoMo is OS. Unplugged. He plucks a ukulele, which he gifts to a grateful Manasseh Sogavare, newly-elected pro-China PM of our newly-rediscovered Pacific nation “family” in The Solomon Islands Honiara. The PM’s stunt is all part of a cunning plan to woo The Hapi Isles back to us.  The mass logging operations on “the lungs of the world” on the tiny island of Vangunu by Axiom Holdings, of which self-described “corporate doctor” Malcolm Turnbull was chairman, 1991-2, part of an act of catastrophic environmental vandalism, are not mentioned.

Multinational timber companies have logged ninety per cent of Solomon Island rainforest. Now logging is decimating remaining trees at 19 percent the sustainable rate. Its national forest will disappear by 2036. Whilst Unilever has been a major exploiter of local rainforest in the past, today eighty percent of timber is exported to China.

Embedded reporters spurn rainforest issues; focus, instead, on helping ScoMo spin his warship story, ” It’s a regular, reciprocal, visit.” The PLA is on its way home after “anti-piracy patrols in the Gulf of Aden”, a mere 12,271 km away? Shiver me timbers.

Inexplicably also missing the PLA visit memo, former Raytheon employee, Andrew Hastie pal, Defence Minister Brigadier (ret) Linda Reynolds is a big fan of the Libs’ “merit-based” exclusion of women. She’s not on hand to greet sailors personally. It’s no big snub. Linda probably has her work cut out not instructing the AFP to raid the ABC, not calling Ben Fordham at Nine’s 2GB and certainly not putting the wind up Annika Smethurst, News Corp’s Sunday Telegraph political editor.

So much not to do, so little time. It’s a week of surprise visits, lightning raids on our nation’s credibility, our attenuated, attention-span and an orchestrated attack on the heart, the liver and the lights of our democracy, our free press. And plausible deniability.

As with the week’s AFP raids on a free press, China’s visit to Sydney is not what it seems. Parading 700 well-armed fighting men along with your latest, state-of-the-art frigate and supply ship and amphibious landing craft is no show of force. No upstaging of Morrison’s diplomacy. No coincidence with the eve of the Tiananmen Square anniversary. It’s just part of today’s beaut “rules-based global system” keeping us safe.

So what if the warships dock in Sydney just as ScoMo tries to bribe Honiara with offers of loans to help them build an undersea Huawei-free communications cable to spike China’s influence in the Pacific? Why would our PM be in Sydney just to honour a visit from our major trading partner? ScoMo is in The Solomons, en route to the UK where important myths about D-Day, saving Europe from fascism, and presenting HM The Queen with Winx The Authorised Biography all demand to be commemorated or performed in person.

Luckily Morrison has time to announce his government’s catchy new policy of “Pacific step-up” a revamp which turns out to be just as bad as the old in ignoring climate change. Even older is his bold, new, back-to-the-future Kanaka 2.0 offer.

In the 1860s, Australian blackbirders began to lure what would amount to at least 30,000 Solomon Islanders to work on sugar plantations in Queensland and Fiji. New recruits got six pounds per year, a fixed rate for forty years, despite wage inflation elsewhere. Blackbirders and entrepreneurs, Robert Towns and John Mackay are commemorated in Queensland place names and in civic statues today.

Following this having a go but decidedly not a fair go tradition, Australia will gift $2.7 million over three years to Honiara’s government to help it fly Solomon Island FIFO workers here to be wage slaves on Aussie farms where they’ll “fill labour shortages in Australia” or undercut local workers by being paid lower wages and working longer hours in harsh conditions.  Half of all our migrant, temporary workers are underpaid. Hundreds of workers and millions of dollars in underpayment are involved.

The exploitation of migrant workers in Australia, a key report published last March, after a two-year inquiry by the federal Migrant Workers’ Taskforce, concludes that wage theft is widespread. A third of Australia’s foreign workers are paid less than half the minimum wage, and wage theft is especially severe in fruit and vegetable picking, according to Wage Theft in Australia, a survey undertaken by academics Bassina Farbenblum at UNSW and Laurie Berg at UTS. The Fair Work Ombudsman, they say, needs help.

Apart from the brutal legacy of its colonial past and its involvement in post-colonial exploitation, Australia may be belatedly realising how its climate change denialism and its cult of thermal coal; its abject failure to curb its own greenhouse gas emissions and its cuts to foreign aid help our Pacific neighbours reach out to China for aid instead.

But, in a post neoliberal, post-truth, Trumpian universe nothing is ever our own fault. Like Sydney’s Chinese warship fiasco. It isn’t true and it’s someone else’s fault.

Why, look!  The visit’s just something else retired Defence Minister, Pyne, forgot to pass on. Not a show of force by China at all, on the eve of the thirtieth anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre.  Papa Morrison says there is no need for over-analysis by experts or media. Nothing remotely resembling gunboat diplomacy to see here.

NSW Premier, Gladys Berejiklian is also in the dark, but leaving Premiers out of the loop is part of ScoMo’s Trumpista leadership style. Speak up more in COAG, Gladys.

Similarly, the Chinese government obliges by sparing its own citizens from overthinking. It gets a scratch crew of two million online censors to block internet sites which might tell its people how Chinese government troops brutally fired on student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen 4 June 1989. Precise figures are impossible to obtain, even with a free press, but two thousand may have been killed. As many as ten thousand are believed to have been arrested.

Thousands of other uprisings which spread to other centres, including Shanghai city, were also brutally repressed.

The Sydney PLA display catches ScoMo off-guard but he rallies later. Perhaps it’s jet-lag after nearly thirty hours in flight. Is he into the Tories’ class A recreational drugs enjoyed by so many otherwise promising successors to Theresa May? Unlikely.

ScoMo’s off and racing, wowing the Queen with, “How good is Winx?” a half-hour riff on a single platitude. A torrent of reports quote him explaining how well it all went. Her Majesty is spell-bound. Pity Phil is otherwise engaged. Taking the air. A twenty minute session becomes thirty-five. Or does it just seem longer? Lucky Queen.

Meanwhile, Dutton’s stakes rise as he wins the Alter-Copy-Erase media trifecta as a top staffer in Defence, or somewhere in the vast and powerful Home Affairs super-ministry, kits out his AFP with extraordinary warrants to raid the press on three separate occasions while both his PM and he, himself are OS. Nothing to see here.

A steward’s inquiry would just be a waste of time. Any Senate estimates committee will be treated with what in six years has become a show of open Coalition contempt for accountability and a painful reminder of the politicisation of the Public Service. Consider how the former minister for Environment, Melissa Price, was bullied by Queensland’s coal-pushers Matt Canavan and James Paterson into passing Adani’s flawed plans for water and wildlife conservation even if it meant the abdication of due diligence.

No-one’s home in government, Sunday, when a group of leading water scientists slam Adani’s “flawed” plan to protect groundwater near its Carmichael mine. Seven leading experts, from four major universities, warn that Adani’s water plan jeopardises Doongmabulla Springs seven kilometres south-west of its proposed excavation site.

The mine will bring extinction to a range of flora and fauna which currently depend upon the springs. Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science will meet this week to review Adani’s water management proposals. Yet, as we’ve seen with earlier federal government approvals, it’s important that we don’t get too carried away with the facts.

Cayman Island MDB company bagman and Energy Minister, Oxonian old boy, Angus Taylor finally nails how to evade our rising carbon emissions. It’s all good news. Everyone else in the world will breathe easier by burning our LNG. Official statistics can’t be trusted. So our greenhouse gas emissions are rising for the third year in a row? The good news is how our gas exports lower pollution in other countries. Genius. Gus wins most far-fetched stretch of credibility at less a canter than a rising trot.

Labor’s climate change and energy spokesman, Mark Butler, notes soberly that the data shows we are not on track to meet our Paris targets. “Not only did Angus Taylor not release emissions data by the deadline set by the Senate last Friday … the Liberals will try every trick in the book to avoid scrutiny of their record on tackling climate change.”

Best trick of the week for avoiding scrutiny, however, is getting the AFP to raid journalists for their sources, a reminder of the police state we’ve become. Important laws have been broken? National security is at risk? Spare us.

“The point is that politicians have constructed a repressive legal regime designed to protect the executive branch of government, impede accountability to the public and exert a chilling effect on the press,” Denis Muller writes in The Conversation.

“Quiet Australians” go wild with silent joy this week as ScoMo’s Stasi, the Department of Home Affairs, sends an AFP goon squad to frighten Annika Smethurst, News Corp’s Sunday titles’ political editor, Wednesday for her 2018 story that Home Affairs wants to spy on everyone. Their seven hour search of her Canberra home, includes her recipe books and underwear drawer. “You’re knickered” some flustered Federal cop is, doubtless, just itching to say on camera. Remarkably, Smethurst keeps her cool.

Of course, there’s more. The ABC is raided the next day. Two years ago, ABC broadcast a seven part series, The Afghan Files which investigates misconduct by Australian SAS troops engaged in our longest and most futile war; a campaign which not even our masters, the United States, can explain, let alone justify. The report documents possible unlawful killings. It includes fresh details of notorious incidents, including how Australians severed hands of slain Afghan Taliban fighters.

That our national broadcaster is subjected to a search in which the AFP have almost unlimited search powers is shocking; their warrant enables them to search almost everything – and copy – alter or delete files; in brief, tamper with the evidence. But even more alarming is the way in which the raid seems calculated to intimidate; prevent other journalists from risking speaking truth to power. This is not the act of a democratic government; a free, just and open society based on the rule of law. It is tyranny.

Even 2GB Drive’s Ben Fordham is harassed Monday for reporting that six refugee boats tried to reach Australia. Are random police raids part of the price we pay to live in ScoMo’s police state? It’s a state where, over time, the government has acquired extraordinary powers of surveillance, while citizens have been progressively stripped of their right to speak up; blow the whistle or just to report the truth.

An hour after his report goes to air, Fordham’s producer is contacted by the Department of Home Affairs to advise the refugee material was “highly confidential”. “In other words, we weren’t supposed to know it,” Fordham tells Sydney listeners.

Everyone is under suspicion – just as with the reversal of the onus of proof under Robo-Debt, the jewel in our anti-welfare state crown, where Centrelink demands you pay back money they reckon you owe. Unless you can prove you don’t. It can be stressful, especially when you have no documents. Some Australians kill themselves as a result.

Some of us die as a result of just getting a letter. 2030 people don’t survive receiving their first Robo-Debt letter. The initial letter doesn’t specify how much you must pay back. Instead it asks you to confirm your previously submitted income information. Of those who are subsequently told they owe money to the department, 812 are dead.

It would, of course, be rash to make any connection. Former Minister Keenan is quick to voice caution. It’s a bit like the common explanation denying the role of climate change in extreme weather events. Causation is complex, therefore, don’t blame government.

“Any number of factors in an individual’s life could have contributed to their death during such an extended period and it would be foolhardy to draw a link to one particular cause without evidence to support such a claim,” he reassures us. And warns us off.

Acting AFP terror head Neil Gaughan is a star as Chief Inquisitor. He knows what fear can do. He can’t say, he says, whether some journalists will be charged with offences. He knows this leaves fear of prosecution dangling over as many heads as possible.

The leaks are sources of information about matters which the AFP should have been investigating -its primary focus – instead the sources become the target. The raids testify to the peril this poses to both reporters and their sources. Some have proposed law reforms protecting journalists but as many others point out, this involves all of us.

The New York Times notes: “… the real affront is to democracy, which flounders in the absence of a free press. It should be self-evident to the guardians of Australian security that rogue soldiers and overreaching surveillance are the true risk to Australia’s security, and that such threats will become far more dangerous if the wall of secrecy is made impregnable.”

ABC chair Ita Buttrose issues a statement in which she reports her protest and notes,

“In a frank conversation with the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, yesterday, I said the raid, in its very public form and in the sweeping nature of the information sought, was clearly designed to intimidate.

It is impossible to ignore the seismic nature of this week’s events: raids on two separate media outfits on consecutive days is a blunt signal of adverse consequences for news organisations who make life uncomfortable for policy makers and regulators by shining lights in dark corners and holding the powerful to account.” 

In the meantime, ScoMo better get a fresh set of musical instruments to present and more books on racehorses on order if he is to continue his amazing foreign policy triumphs. He may just be able to find himself a diplomatic post to the Solomons or somewhere equally remote and low-lying when he loses office in Peter Dutton’s coup.

ScoMo and co take us one week closer to fascism

“During this campaign we looked like a government in waiting. They looked like an opposition. It is time that the fourth estate held the government to account.”

Albo wants a press that speaks truth to power? Don’t we all? The newly anointed Labor leader takes aim at all press lackeys, hacks and toadies. He certainly gets their attention. Albanese can’t even decide how to pronounce” his own name, sneers our ABC’s Tiger Webb – instantly on Albo’s page – and case. Tiger implies Albo’s an indecisive, bastard scarred for life, by what Webb calls his single-parent upbringing and dramatic, late-in-life, rendezvous with his father.

There’s a mini-series in there, somewhere, along with Kill Bill, but the smart money is on Albo The Musical while Wokka’s World, an aquatic adventure series, where youngsters bolt marine art on to dead coral, is in pre-production. Truly.

Reef Ecologic’s Tourism Recovery Project promises to “lead in the design, creation and installation of underwater and inter-tidal interpretive art pieces across the Whitsunday region, coral restoration and educational activities”.

Dying marine creatures can look quite unsightly, but visitors can now feast their eyes on beautiful, artistic replicas.

The art attack aims to support tourism on the reef. Yet there’s even more good news and not just Adani which has been saved from bankruptcy by Modi’s newly returned BJP government. Adani looks like being fast-tracked to approval so that poor people in Bangladesh and other consumers may soon pay inflated prices for dirty Australian coal from its Carmichael Mine. This coal has a high ash content, causing deadly air pollution. But if we don’t sell it, someone else will.

There’s been some local argy-bargy because India doesn’t make enough electricity to officially permit its export to other countries but Adani has it sorted thanks to its fabulous mutually beneficial relationship with India’s PM Modi and his BJP.

Apart from Adani, news is full of the uplifting story about how Labor stuffed up an “unlosable” election. Got nothing right. By Sunday, Matthias Cormann does his “Labor, Labor” shtick on ABC Insiders. It’s all the Coalition does. A caring media tips buckets of gratuitous advice all over Albo. Look out for shifty Bill! Labor? The Labor Party is just one big factional brawl. Oddly, while ScoMo’s government helps sets fire to the planet, no-one seems to deem it newsworthy.

Nor do half of us seem to care that we are about to get into bed with thieves, rogues and scoundrels and those who question the wisdom of the Adani madness are howled down as being anti-blue-collar, latte-sipping economic saboteurs. Or in league with The Greens, whom everyone knows, are more harmful than any right wing extremist.

A class act, our ABC publishes Tiger’s public interest Albo story, just in case anyone mistakes Albo for a normal person. Doubtless, this comforts former Packer staffer, Network 10 morning show panellist, TV celebrity and “print media icon”, Ita Buttrose, ABC’s latest chairwoman, a Liberal stooge. Buttrose is in a blue funk about how Auntie lets her bias show.

“Sometimes I think, people without really knowing it, let a bias show through,” Ita says; her own pro-Coalition bias in full view, Wednesday, on ABC radio. It’s an alarming, unsubstantiated attack upon her own staff’s integrity. Part of her mission to get ABC “functioning again”, – like a sluggish colon – and with fibre – “stable management” and a varied diet.

“I think, sometimes, we could do with more diversity of views,” Buttrose’s studied indirection parrots the sniping of those who hate being held to account. Stay tuned for Auntie’s Anti-vaxxer and Ratbag half-hour. Perhaps One Nation’s empiricist, celebrity-nutter, Malcolm Roberts, could get his own NRA-sponsored show. Bush-lawyers, guns and money?

Money is a dirty word at our ABC. Under-funding our national broadcaster helps the Coalition keep Auntie under control – along with stacking the ABC board with Liberals and berating senior staff and board members. Last year, the government’s formal complaints broke all records, reports Jonathan Holmes. Its latest three-year “freeze” to the ABC’s annual funding indexation, is a big cut. Announced in 2018, it will cost the national broadcaster $83.7 million.

Now ScoMo’s government is miraculously returned, with some ABC help, $14.6 million of the new funding cuts will begin in July. Will jobs be lost? Buttrose equivocates, “There are many ways of achieving savings, you know. It’s not just people.” ABC staff are overjoyed by Ita’s coyly evasive, enigmatic reassurance. Management is ecstatic.

Stand by for even more repeats of Antiques Road Show, QI and further, endless renovation of Grand Designs.

But how good is ScoMo’s captain’s (cabinet) pick? Bugger the independent selection panel. Bugger the hapless applicants, gulled into addressing key selection criteria and a stroppy interview panel. No hard feelings, boys. A ScoMo lapel badge to former Fairfax Media CEO, Greg, “Maserati” Hywood, former News Corp CEO, Kim Williams, Film Victoria president Ian Robertson, and Gilbert + Tobin managing partner Danny Gilbert. You were all too qualified for the job.

Ita hasn’t been active in media management or high-profile chair roles for years; her experience running or editing large outlets is decades in the past, and confined to print journalism — the only medium the ABC isn’t involved in. She has no hands-on experience in meeting the challenges of digital media, Google and Facebook, streaming services or producing quality Australian content.” Bernard Keane sums up. But she won’t rock the boat; just what the Liberals are after.

How good is the ABC, moreover? Waking up to itself; realising its true role as ScoMo’s megaphone? Following all the best global trends, this week, our lucky country finds itself gently, but firmly, propelled further along the path to fascism.

As Henry Reynolds, observes, Morrison’s signature slogan about stopping the boats comes from the same deep well of intolerance, xenophobia and racist chauvinism as Trump’s Mexican wall and his recent, lunatic, five per cent tax. The Donald will tax all imports from Mexico until the Mexican government does something about “the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory” even though, as US corporations protest, trade and national security are separate issues.

On cue, a phantom boat turnback is reported by Border Force. Twenty people from Sri Lanka including “at least one baby” – now a type of weaponised incursion -seeking asylum are scooped up and flown back to their persecutors in violation of Article 33 (1 and 2) of the 1954 UN convention regarding the status of refugees. Article 33 (1) states,

“No Contracting State shall expel or return (‘refouler’) a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where his life or freedom would be threatened on account of his race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.”  It’s a convention Australia helped create. Now we treat it with contempt. But look over there! Mainstream media rush to publish the notion that the asylum-seekers were enticed by Labor.

Keen followers of Cirque du ScoMo’s fantastical illusionist act Keeping Australians Safe will recall Ring Master ScoMo bellowing – hyperventilating about Labor’s Medevac perfidy. Australia would be flooded with fake refugees because of Labor. Labor helped vote in the “Medevac Bill” aka the Home Affairs Legislation Amendment (Miscellaneous Measures) Bill 2018 moved by The Greens which provides urgent medical treatment in Australia to refugees detained offshore.

It’s clearly Labor’s-soft-on-borders fault for polluting our Christian charity and national security with feeble-minded leftist human rights dogma. “Look what Labor’s gone and done now” plays well for a day or two. In The Weekend Australian, Peter Dutton warns us we can expect more. An external threat is always a boon to any autocratic regime.

“Obviously people thought there was going to be a change of government… people smugglers have been marketing this.”

Cutting back on ABF patrols to save fuel may have played a part, but that matter is behind us Dutton assures the SMH. Patrols were restored in December after cutbacks were first denied. It is impossible to know, given government secrecy. Scott Morrison pioneered the practice of declaring all on water matters off limits to journalists. It’s part of the fiction that we are at war with asylum-seekers and is a key part of the wall of silence protecting the Morrison government.

On the other hand, push factors are more likely. The asylum seekers may have fled for their lives after the fatal Easter bombing attacks on three churches and four hotels in Batticaloa, an eight hour drive east of Colombo. At least 257 people, many of them Christians, were killed in a wave of suicide bombings on Easter Sunday. The National Tawheed Jamath Islamist extremist group which aligns itself with ISIS, has been blamed for the attacks.

Alternatively, Human Rights Watch warns of Sri Lanka’s unwillingness to begin accountability and reconciliation processes after its thirty-year civil war which ended ten years ago. Remaining in force is The Prevention of Terrorism Act which facilitates torture and other abuses. Muslims and other minorities face violence from ultra-nationalist groups.

They are not alone. As Michael Sainsbury argues in Crikey, Morrison’s push for religious freedoms cannot be taken seriously while his government continues to ignore the religious persecution of millions in Sri Lanka, India – or any other of our trading partners – even if ScoMo does use religious freedom as an excuse to legitimise discrimination and bigotry.

“Congratulations @narendramodi on your historic re-election as Prime Minister of India. Australia and India enjoy a strong, vibrant and strategic partnership, and our India Economic Strategy will take our ties to a new level. I look forward to meeting again soon,” Scott Morrison tweetsIn reality, the two nations are not close partners. India and Australia differ on foreign policies, the legacies of empire, the cold war, even the nature of international politics.

Beyond ScoMo’s toadying, moreover, as Sainsbury notes, Modi’s divisive Hindu religious-nationalist government is but one of many regimes across the region, from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines which persecute religious minorities. Above all, we must contend with China’s religious repression of Uyghur Muslims in the name of anti-separatism and anti-terrorism. “Separatism” is a crime which can incur the death penalty.

The officially atheist Communist Party has locked up at least one million ethnic Uyghur Muslims -some authorities estimate two million – in gulags in their home state of Xinjiang that Beijing calls “re-education camps”.

None of this is addressed, however, by deputy PM Michael McCormack or Mick-Mack as the PM prefers in his team coach patter. Mick-Mack will answer no questions at all. On water. Off limits. He repeats the lie that the Sri Lankans were entering Australia “illegally”. Not one reporter at the press conference remonstrates; raises the fact that seeking asylum by boat is not illegal. McCormack simply repeats the expedient lie that refugees endanger our national security.

“No, I’m not going to provide any more details because of security reasons – that’s always the case.”

Enter, “Il Dutto”, Home Affairs Supremo, Peter Dutton, a former Queensland drug and sexual offenders cop whose family trust owns two childcare centres, a situation which may put him in breach of section 44 (v) of the constitution because it seems as if he has a beneficial interest in a trust that has an agreement with the public service. Family First Senator Bob Day, a former Liberal was disqualified by the High Court from sitting in parliament on the same grounds.

Dutto changes the story in the light of damaging revelations from locals that no boat is sighted. Activity involving people boarding a plane is reported. The fake refugees are real enough but the Christmas Island landing is a false account.

The boat arrival is pure fiction. No locals believe it. The Federal Government must have gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal the reported arrival of 20 Sri Lankan asylum seekers on Christmas Island, its Shire President drily tells the ABC. Fine-tuning the Coalition narrative, Australian Border Force claims to have returned 186 people to Sri Lanka from ten people smuggling boats since September 2013. Secrecy shrouds turnbacks, but it’s clear the boats have not stopped.

Last year, Peter Dutton, Minister for Home Affairs stated that, 33 vessels have been intercepted under OSB, with 827 people returned to their country of departure or origin, as of September 2018. What became of these people is anyone’s guess. Now that asylum-seekers have been dehumanised, demonised and the power of the state has grown, few of us dare ask.

The rise of a xenophobic, radical right and its closet embrace by Liberal and National parties worries Henry Reynolds. It’s the big story of election 2019 but it receives little attention. Reynolds quotes The New York Times‘ opinion writer, Ross Douthat who discerns “the global fade of liberalism”. Recent events suggest we are not immune to the trend.

As radical right groups gain more support, they are brought in from the fringe; “blessed with mainstream recognition and even respectability”. Liberals do a preference deal with Palmer’s United Australia. Queensland’s LNP does a deal with One Nation. For Reynolds, “Of greater significance was the fact that the deals worked and there was no obvious backlash from the electorate. Such arrangements are presumably here to stay.” All week it’s the elephant in the room.

Two cheers for Adani. This week sees a big win for the mining oligarchy which runs its pliant, client, ScoMo government. Queensland folds to federal bullying. Giving the bird to scientists, who have yet to learn what’s good for business is good for the nation, a Neocon article of faith, it pretends Adani has a plan to protect our black-throated finch.

Adani shares immediately rocket up thirty per cent on the news. Expect Adani’s flawed “water management” plan to receive similar approval, despite the company refusing to accept scientific advice and recommendations.

A state election looms and the Labor government is widely tipped to lose by an eager Murdoch media monopoly. A bloodbath, shrieks The Courier Mail. Approving Adani is unlikely to provide electoral salvation for Labor if the federal election is a guide, nor will it provide the jobs, nor the economic boost so widely over-promised. Yet that is what the Palaszczuk government is doing. “Tripping over themselves”, writes Renew Economy’s Michael Mazengarb, they rush to push approvals through, even though the state is very much divided on climate change and coal.

Yet the Adani story is not just about Adani. It’s about the host of other miners who seek to open the Galilee Basin. Each year, coal mines may soon spew 320 million tonnes of black rock and toxic dust up into what was once the grassland habitat of the unsuspecting black-throated finch. With the mines will come coal and gas fracking. About to unfold is an unmitigated economic and ecological disaster as other mines close while our exported coal raises global warming.

“Opening up the Galilee Basin” will cripple our existing thermal coal mines, costing thousands of existing Australian coal industry jobs in ten years. As The Australia Institute’s Richard Denniss frequently points out, if this government were serious about preserving jobs in coal industry it would not be agitating to open any new mines. Adding another thirty percent capacity? Complete madness.

Yet the Adani cult is not rational. The phenomenon is less a policy than a cargo cult, a group psychosis in which we beggar ourselves; destroy our natural heritage in the delusion we will become fabulously wealthy. For Adani it is hubris. Faced with an energy market in India where renewable energy is twenty to fifty per cent cheaper than power plants burning imported coal, the company does not want to seem to have gambled and lost.

Modi government subsidies will help. Along with land, water and infrastructure and permission to charge higher prices to the state, these include declaring a special economic zone around Adani’s proposed plant in Jharkhand, which will spare it billions in taxes and import duties on plant and equipment – for a while.

Queensland and the nation is also granting absurdly generous concessions to a firm mining a toxic commodity in terminal decline. Adani may use huge quantities of ground water – free for its mining and extensive washing of its raw coal. It will enjoy a diesel fuel subsidy worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year to darling Adani.

While the Queensland government has updated Queensland’s mine rehabilitation legislation over last two years, Adani is still entitled to leave a very big hole in the ground in perpetuity. Finally, it is granted seven-year royalty holiday – a capital subsidy of $600 million to $700 million, although it has yet to provide the necessary financial assurance.

Meanwhile, Holy ScoMo explodes with sonorous high intent and low cunning. Modestly – no time to waste – he sets his sights on a fourth term. Fronting a lacklustre rabble of spivs, duds and fizzers, surprised to find themselves not in opposition, but behaving that way just in case, the PM morphs into Super-Coach “Sco-Motivator”.  Only ScoMo can put spin on spin. He’s incredible. You can tell his speech-writer has been working overtime, taking notes from Sammy J.

“Here we are, a fresh team. A team that is hungry, a team that is committed, a team that is united in the way we were able to fight on this campaign, to do one simple thing; that is to ensure Australians will be at the centre of our gaze. We will govern with humility; we will govern with compassion. We will govern with strength and we will govern for all Australians.” 

How good is ScoMo, our Aussie-centric, super-coach? Our nation’s super glue? Mr inclusivity with industrial strength empathy – but strong -our own iron chancellor, ScoMo? No-one boasts such humility. Uriah Heep, eat your heart out.

A fresh team? Parody abounds. ScoMo taps Tassie Peter Pan, Dick Colbeck, Minister for both old and young Australians. He upgrades former Assistant Treasurer, Stuart Robert, to Minister for Government services. (Fellow evangelical, Robert loves government services: he had to repay $38,000 he accidentally charged the taxpayer for his personal internet use.)

Nothing to see here. Brigadier Linda Reynolds (ret) will be beaut in Defence. True. She once worked for global gun-runner, multinational merchant of death, “defence contractor” Raytheon. But there’ll be no conflict of interest. Arms- length detachment. Not that it matters in the Trump new world order. Deal-maker Donald, Scott Morrison’s role model, and latest bestie, owns Raytheon stock. Stocks rose after Trump’s fifty-nine Tomahawk missile strike on a Syrian airbase in April 2017, although Snopes says there is no evidence to suppose that the US godfather benefited personally.

Similarly, Paul Fletcher will make a fantastic Minister for Communications given his previous career with Optus and his position as parliamentary secretary to former Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull will give him heaps of insight into how the NBN lemon was conceived purely to oppose Labor’s better, fibre to the premises concept.

“Today 9.28 million premises around Australia are able to connect to the NBN and almost 5.3 million premises are connected,” Fletcher boasts, after bagging Labor’s mess which the poor Coalition is forever having to clean up. We’d be happier knowing we were going to stay connected, Mr Fletcher and the more you add, the slower it seems to go.

Along with a slew of other self-parodying cabinet captain’s picks, ScoMo’s team pep talk is pure parody in motion.

How good is ScoMo the daggy-dad joker? An adoring nation just loves his unity gag. Already, on Sky, Christian Porter, our ambitious Attorney-General also picks up Michaelia Cash’s former Ministry of white-boarding, wage-freezing, penalty-rate stripping and union-bashing aka Minister for underemployment. Keep him occupied. Already, on Sky, Porter chortles about the voice to parliament, poor overburdened Ken Wyatt is tasked to bring about. After he closes the gap.

“Too vague”, Porter pontificates. Chris Kenny is all ears and eyebrows. Christian is not insulting Ken personally. It’s The Voice. He steps up the Coalition campaign against first peoples. Indigenous people need to learn they want far too much. Besides, ScoMo’s government knows best. Voice to parliament? Heavens. Don’t know what they’re talking about.

The great miracle-worker, Two-Seat Morrison will be flat out like a lizard drinking just keeping his cabinet on the rails and the Chinese language helpers of the Broad Church of his party out of court, let alone attempt to achieve anything. And even if the tax cuts don’t go through, it will help him blame Labor and their unholy alliance with the toxic Greens.

But achievement’s never troubled ScoMo much in the past and it won’t bother him much in the future, so long as the coal mines get going, the donations start flowing and he gets to bag Labor and its union bosses every day. So bridging visas have blown out by 147 per cent to a record 229,242 holders at the end of March? All Labor’s fault.

Having Ita’s ABC on speed dial helps, too. Bugger the fourth term. Go for a fifth. A sixth is not out of the question if Clive’s still around with his crazy anti-Labor propaganda.

 

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ScoMo is no Messiah nor is his new cabinet blessed with talent

Hallelujah! Sound the trump. All hail the “Messiah from the shire”, blasts Rupert’s Daily Bugle; The Australian, a claque whose long and frenzied coalition applause now induces a vision of Morrison as the son of God, in scribe, Simon Benson, or “Beno”, as ScoMo fondly calls his top press gallery sycophant.

Or is ScoMo just the liar from the shire? His campaign slogan warned us Labor would raise our taxes. In fact, it’s exactly what his coalition will do. When Abbott waddled into office in 2013, federal tax was 21.3 per cent of GDP. Morrison’s 2020 “budget surplus” will bring a tax-to-GDP ratio of 23.3 per cent.

By Monday, Beno is beside himself over ScoMo’s massive new cabinet. Messiah Morrison’s 22 MP monster is purged of all small L Liberals. Behold, at last, a party of hot-eyed Neocons! Banished is the “left-leaning clique” of Malcolm Turnbull, antichrist, technophile and closet socialist.

Off, to a US diplomatic post, is party amnesiac who stood down as former chairman of Australian Water Holdings in 2011, Arthur Sinodinos, a man who was daft enough to publicly question Morrison policy.

Sinodinos doesn’t challenge much. Our former assistant treasurer, told the NSW corruption watchdog, ICAC, in April 2014, he never investigated ballooning costs at Australian Water Holdings. Costs allegedly included million-dollar salaries and a $28,000 limousine bill for which taxpayers picked up the tab.

Nor was Sinodinos aware the company was once in such dire straits that it could not meet tax and superannuation commitments until corrupt ex-MP Eddie Obeid’s family threw it a $400,000 lifeline. With Sinodinos’ special talent, he’ll have no trouble working with the Trump administration, which traffics in alternative facts, or a president who has made the phrase “truthful hyperbole” his own.

Will his new, expanded, Cabinet 2.0 work for ScoMo, now that it’s purged of all “leftist” elements; independent thinkers? Never. It’s big enough to fit those whom he needs to control, but far too big to control. If you gave each minister enough time to begin to discuss their portfolios in any detail you’d be meeting for a week.

Just getting Energy Minister, Angus Taylor whose portfolio is now combined with that of minister responsible for reducing greenhouse emissions to explain how he’s going to keep coal-fired power stations burning, open new coal mines and still get our carbon emissions down would take a fair while.

“Climate damage is one of the biggest risks that Australians face right now, so we need Angus Taylor to understand that and take action to move the country towards renewable energy,” the Nature Conservation’s foundation’s CEO Kelly O’Shanassy tells SBS News.

Ms O’Shanassy says the new government needs to better address the issue.

“Having the same minister in charge as before the elections makes me very concerned that the Morrison government has no plan for changing the way it deals with energy in the way it deals with climate change.”

ScoMo has no such plan. As for team-work, delegation and consultation are entirely absent from his CV. Of course there’s always room for improvement. Tourism Minister, Fran Bailey, sacked him in July 2006 from his $350,000 PA job. “I’m sure he has learned how to work better with people these days.”

Working better with people? It’s hard to explain how he’d keep Barnaby Joyce in the dark about his demotion as drought envoy. I knew about only via a tweet from TV, Sunday, Joyce complains.

“I would have (expected a phone call), but I didn’t and that’s life,” the former deputy PM says.

“That is the role a leader has, they can make that call. But I think it is incumbent upon them to relay that to person to people, not to have them to find out via Twitter.

‘Why it’s important is because you’ve got staff and you’ve got to ring people up. 

Expectations, however, are absurdly high. A fawning MSM expect miracles from the miracle man.

Believing in miracles is also a team thing. Nationals’ top cocky, Michael McCormack, is a chap of great faith. Praying for rain is one of his drought responses, a parched nation learns to its immense relief.

“One of many policies, I will always pray for rain, I pray for lots of things. I think people should pray more, it’s a good thing to pray,” McCormack explains. He loses us when he talks of more policies.

Reform will, at best, get some airplay. Ken Wyatt will be kept busy, not only fixing bullying in his department, but after cleaning up aged care, he’ll be up for closing the gap. Then the Uluru Statement from the heart needs immediate triage to put right centuries of government persecution and neglect.

Wyatt is Australia’s first Indigenous Affairs Minister and first Indigenous cabinet minister. Indigenous leaders of all faiths and persuasions rush to back him. But his PM is, typically, much more guarded. Morrison has no inkling of why constitutional recognition matters. Alarmingly, he appears incapable of making any commitment towards equality.

Seven months ago Morrison rejected the proposal; repeated the lie that an indigenous voice to parliament was a call for a third parliamentary chamber. Yet he introduces a new indigenous consultative agency Monday, a thought bubble, which is no part of the process of a voice to parliament.

ScoMo won’t set a timeline. Instead, he says it will take “as long as needed” the kiss of death. Clearly Morrison is already ducking and weaving; dissembling. How good is ScoMo? Flunks his first test of leadership.

Constitutional recognition and the inclusion of a voice to parliament should be imperatives to any self-respecting Australian federal government. Under Morrison, indigenous issues are already in danger of being fobbed off with waffle, another “national discussion on the best way” to stall for time, a total lack of urgency and a worrying lack of respect for years of work already undertaken by first peoples.

Other appointments already draw controversy. Minister for African Gangs, (AKA Assistant Minister for multicultural affairs) the mono-cultural Jason Wood, a former copper who has just held on to his Victorian seat of LaTrobe by campaigning to “deport foreign-born thugs”, is already drawing the ire of the Sudanese community in Victoria.

South Sudanese Community Association of Victoria, Chairwoman, Achol Marial, finds Wood’s dog-whistling rhetoric to be “quite disturbing”.

“It was a tool for use by politicians to manipulate viewers and voters to make people think there was an issue, it was a trick … But if you look at the statistics, [the rate of crime committed by] South Sudanese and Africans in general was very low compared to other Australians. I find it quite sad that Jason Wood would use it as a tactic to try to get people’s attention.”

Invisible Environment Minister Melissa Price does not make the team despite ScoMo’s earlier assurances. She’ll be outside the tent but as DIM (Defence Industry Minister) a non-cabinet post, she’ll continue to work on flying below the radar.

Sussan Ley, who had to resign as Turnbull’s Health Minister in January 2017 over allegations that she rorted her travel allowance to visit her Gold Coast investment properties, will replace Price. Her opinions, so far, suggest that she is pro-Adani.

In tabling a petition from local constituents opposing the Adani coal mine proposal on February 8th, Hansard records Sussan Ley distancing herself from the petition and attempting to de-legitimise the views expressed in the petition.

“This [the Adani coal mine] is a very important and emotional issue for many of them.” 

Ley then says the Stop Adani group has expressed their views to her “very forcefully.”  Her dog whistling dismisses calls for evidence-based climate change policies as the “bleatings of bleeding-heart leftists and dangerous political extremists.”

“A new generation is in control,” says Benson. A new dominion is born, based in the ‘burbs and the bush, the suburban, regional outliers where, as everyone knows, true-blue, real Australians reside.

Is it blasphemy or just hypocrisy? For weeks, Holy ScoMo harped on about how we were not just “anointing Bill Shorten”. Instead, we could fall for his policy-free scare campaign, lies about Labor’s death duties and a tax cut, for most of us, of $5 per week. For Chinese language speakers’, Chinese lies:

“Correct way to vote: on the green voting card, put preference 1 next to the Liberal party,” a sign, in electoral commission purple, reads. “The other boxes can be numbered from smallest to highest.” The sign pops up at Weeden Heights in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, and at Kooyong and Chisholm.

WeChat also carried ads warning Chinese language readers that Labor planned to introduce a million migrants over the next ten years and cost taxpayers $10 billion per year. Weibo is reported to have carried advertisements warning readers of Labor’s plans to introduce death taxes.

The 2019 campaign is now notorious for its lies; false or exaggerated claims made by fringe groups on Facebook, such as Labor’s 40% inheritance tax, claims later echoed by Coalition candidates. The process was detected by The Guardian’s project to monitor clandestine political advertising on social media.

Our first social media election involves a place where, Christopher Warren argues, the almighty “algorithm rewards extremism by pulling people’s attention from mainstream political parties, like the Liberal and National Parties, to more right-wing fringe parties like One Nation, Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party and Fraser Anning’s Conservative National Party.” 

Yet, now, washed in the blood of the lamb, ScoMo’s own, tiny, victory, is heralded as a “miracle” and an “historic victory” by the boys and girls from The Oz, The Daily Tele, The Herald angels- and all other tabloid tattle-sheets, corporate shills and ambulance-chasers who rule our nation’s print media.

Across Australia, all media echoes News Corp, “a propaganda operation masquerading as a news agency”, as Denis Muller calls it out; a definition that evokes News Corp’s 1922 secret origins as News Limited, a mining company propaganda rag, owned by the most powerful industrialists of the day.

Conceived in spin, News Corp’s specialty du jour -relentless personal vilification – is but a short spit. Helping Liberals’ “Kill Bill”, a character assassination campaign to mock, defame and pillory Labor’s leader for the last six years, is one of the triumphs of the coalition’s most powerful backer. More wondrous, still, is how Murdoch’s hacks apply themselves assiduously to the apotheosis of Morrison.

Rapturous applause echoes up and down our wide, brown-nosing land, a state run by corporate profiteers as the oligarchs of Oz applaud their puppets. No hint of the jeers that greeted Malcolm Turnbull’s meagre win in 2016. Turnbull earned censure for his “pathetic” angry election night speech, “a flabby failure”, according to Mike Carlton, delivered well after midnight at the Wentworth Hotel.

We may live in secular times, writes The Monthly’s Sean Kelly, but there is a remnant of anointment in the ascension of prime ministers, the erasure of the past and the chance to start anew. Before, you were mortal; now, you are divine. What you did before hardly matters in these new, immortal days.

ScoMo is not the messiah from the shire, however, much his cheer-squad insists. Instead, he’s created a vast cabinet to manage and control a coalition of mediocrity and negativity which has just won an election with no coherent policy, beyond the promise of slightly lower taxes for most and a flatter tax system which will greatly benefit the elite.

Of greatest concern is Morrison’s move to stall Indigenous constitutional recognition, a rejection of the Uluru Voice from the Heart, in effect, a response which suggests yet further inaction and delay, an alarming abdication of leadership and humanity.

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Hello ScoMo. Goodbye democracy

“How good is Australia? How good are Australians? … an amazing country of amazing people.” ScoMo manages to amaze himself -shades of Trump – by the Coalition’s shock election results. How good is change that stays the same?

How good are Queenslanders? One in eight votes for Pauline Hanson or Clive Palmer; deliver the Coalition its big win. Of course, it helps that, unlike 2016’s campaign, News Corp now has a monopoly over news in the Banana-benders’ state.

Banana-bender Kevin Rudd’s former campaign manager Bruce Hawker sees News Corp as “easily the most powerful political force in Australia, bigger than the major parties or the combined weight of the unions … I saw how, on a daily basis, the storm of negative stories that emanated from News Corp papers blew our campaign off course.”

Helping “Foxify” Queensland, Win TV last year began broadcasting Sky News, including the right-wing nutters’ “Sky After Dark” free-to-air through its network across regional Queensland and NSW. It’s helping create two nations as in the US.

On the other hand, as Crikey’s Guy Rundle argues, Labor made itself a big ticket, big target without articulating a vision; making a compelling case about what it was all for, what sort of society it wished to create.

Its failure left it wide open to scare campaigns about death duties which didn’t exist. Its franking credits reform ended up worrying a third of voters. Such was the rabid fear-mongering. It didn’t matter that only a tiny percentage of Australians would be affected. It was an election decided by fear and lies. For Rundle, Labor has only itself to blame,

“They bore the cost of their big-ticket strategy” whilst gaining “none of the benefits from a more comprehensive vision”.

Lord of the flies, Morrison seems elated; euphoric. Or is he just grinning with relief?  Abbott’s squirrel grip on Liberal policy is at last released. The budgie smuggler is trounced by Zali Steggall in Warringah – not because of GetUp! –  but because Abbott’s worked so hard to make himself irrelevant to his electorate. He’s had a fair go; now he has to go.

As Niki Savva puts it, on ABC Insiders, Sunday, Abbott’s resignation is six years’ too late. “I’d rather be a loser than a quitter”, says the suppository of all wisdom. Relax, Tony. Like your predecessor, Howard, you’ve never troubled the nation with any big ideas. But your seventeen plus different positions on climate change will take some beating. As will your craven sycophancy towards the IPA, your policy HQ.

Similarly, your toxic legacy of negativity, hyper-partisanship and your brazen politicisation of the public service lives on. And you can be sure, for all the talk of this being a climate change election, your climate change denial will still thrive. Above all, your contempt for UN conventions regarding refugees’ rights to seek asylum is now a core Liberal value. Arbitrary, indefinite detention? It’s in the Liberals’ DNA.

As is your war on the poor, the crusade your austerity budgeting Treasurer, Joe Hockey portrayed as “lifters” against “leaners”. Expect Centrelink’s extortion via Robo-debt to ramp up. Expect even fewer disabled Australians to qualify for the NDIS.

And now that the ABC board is stacked with Liberal and pro-government appointees, expect the next scheduled $84 million cut in funds to sail through. It may even be time to further delight the IPA by privatising Aunty.

Morrison has nothing to crow about. There is nothing decisive about his “victory” nor can he claim any mandate having taken no policies to the people beyond a tax cut for the rich and a less progressive, more unfair tax system. His thought bubble of a first home buyers’ housing loan deposit guarantee capped at 10,000 borrowers is not a costed policy. Nor does it amount to anything in our vast home lending market.

UBS senior economist George Tharenou scoffs at ScoMo’s stunt. “It’s far too small to change the nature of the property market.  It is a tiny 1 per cent share of annual total home loans of $227 billion,” he says.

The world’s most expensive tax cuts will mean cuts to funds for hospitals and schools and welfare but since the $80 billion cost was never taken to the electorate, you have no real mandate, ScoMo. Instead, you will need to cut into funds for the disabled, for hospitals and schools, the things you told voters were ring-fenced with our strong economy – an economy, in fact, which is tanking, before Trump’s trade war with China, further shrinks our export earnings, especially in coal and iron ore.

A quarter of votes cast in pre-poll or postal remain uncounted. A one or two seat majority may well be the future of the Coalition, the marriage of convenience between the Nationals and the Liberals – a coalition of secrets and lies, not to mention chaos, ineptitude, bullying, misogyny, corruption, racism and paternalistic arrogance.

Two cheers for the scare-mongering, dog-whistling ScoMo-government of the top end, for the top end, by the top end of town. A government playing the game of mates has no time at all for environment or climate or lifting wages or ensuring workplace equality.

Oddly Scott Morrison alludes to none of this in his vainglorious victory speech.

You can tell ScoMo’s got no victory speech prepared. No notes. How good is ScoMo? The presumptive Prime Minister, crows and struts on stage at Sydney’s Wentworth Hotel, named after explorer, lawyer, entrepreneur, author, William Charles Wentworth’s original inn, Saturday. Good? A quarter of us put minor parties as our first preferences.

How good? Mark Kenny appears on ABC TV News 24, Sunday, rebuking Labor for its low primary vote of 26% in Queensland, while Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party, a stalking horse to lower Labor’s vote, earns no censure. One Nation can do what it likes to subvert our gun laws with secret NRA funding providing its preferences go to LNP. Its followers show a Trump-like immunity to any evidence of corruption or ineptitude.

How good is Australia? A mining billionaire can buy the government that suits his business interests; field a party with instant candidates in every seat; bombard us with anti-Labor ads with the sole aim of lowering the Labor primary vote. Few seem even mildly perturbed that Palmer may have bought the political result that his business needs. Except for the retiring Wayne Swan.

Something is rotten at the heart of our politics Wayne Swan protests, “A $60 million spend by a conservative-aligned billionaire in a preference recycling scheme for the Liberal and National Party cannot be allowed to stand.”

No leveller, no democrat, Wentworth, like ScoMo held that men must be free, but free to rise—and his own family especially. In charcoal, Canali lounge suit and powder blue Hermes tie, ScoMo radiates aspirational prosperity and the cachet bestowed by a good label.

You’d never guess he’s only there, by and large, thanks to the power of negative thinking. Commentators and politicians tut-tut. Negative campaigns are deplorable but they do work a treat.

What doesn’t work is Labor’s big target, or actually having costed policies to put to the electorate. News Corp has helped abolish all of that. But there has never been a government campaign so devoid of policy; so full of lies and slurs.

In the Labor camp, the knives are out for Party National Secretary, Noah Carroll, reports The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy and Sarah Martin. Carroll is bagged for not telling Shorten his tax agenda is electoral suicide. If only Bill had got the memo Noah couldn’t bring himself to send. Labor’s much-vaunted discipline and team-work takes a beating.

Back at the Wentworth oasis, a Liberal mob cheers as ScoMo pitches a few easy clichés about how great we are. Voting for a pig in a poke. Then it’s into the schmaltz-pot; how his family deserves thanks. Next ScoMo bullshits about how his own disciplined team’s hard work helped win it for the “Quiet Australians”.

Team? Everyone knows he did it almost entirely on his own, jawboning others out of the spotlight; gagging others; hiding MPs such as anti-Environment Minister Melissa Price.

Bear-like ScoMo stoops to a group-hug; proprietorially paws Jenny and the girls, a public paterfamilias, publicly fondling his family and electoral asset; his living CV. It’s an American import, this showing off the trophy family as political accessory, testament to paternalism, a suburban hetero-normality presentation of credentials. And it shows.

The Morrisons look as if they’re about to start a family game of Twister. But let’s stay on message. Who needs daycare? Here’s living proof that even a daggy dad can breed like a cabbage aphid and still get to run the show.

Blokes rule, OK. Father ScoMo knows best.  Yet even Morrison’s surprised by his win.

“It’s a miracle”, he says, Trump-like, he ignores the main force in conservative politics, News Corp, with its long-running Kill Bill defamation campaign, an unceasing demonising and character assassination boosted by Clive Palmer and his UAP’s saturation Labor-bashing ad campaign. A chipper Palmer is upbeat about his own party’s loss and upfront about his main aim being to trash Labor.

Advance Australia, the Tory anti-get up group pitches in with “Wake up to GetUp!” episode 2, a second video showing how GetUp! is a gateway drug to world socialism; repeating the lie that GetUp supports Labor, despite GetUp! being found by the AEC in February not to be affiliated with any political body.

How good is the repeated lie, ScoMo? Goebbels knew. How good are citizens who know their place? Know to shut up?

“Quiet Australians” make their debut. “Quiet Australians” echoes Nixon’s “silent majority”. It’s the populists’ conceit that ScoMo, somehow, mystically, intuits the will of a muted majority. A dog-whistle to those who believe the myth that we are muzzled by “political correctness”. Pauline Hanson makes the same claim. If this were true, Morrison would have a bit to say about raising wages or leading on carbon abatement, not a toxic, policy-less campaign based on fear and hate and lies.

“Quiet Australians” also evokes a government which has kept itself in shape by limiting whistle-blowers” rights and increasing ways the state may legally intrude on our Facebook and Twitter, for example, all in the interests of protecting us from terrorists, of course.  Quiet Australians are trained not to question as Bernard Keane observes.

“… we are becoming a specific kind of police state, in which the government hands itself ever more power to prevent scrutiny, deter and punish whistle-blowers, smear opponents and hide its wrongdoing, using legal framework justified in the name of national security. We’re becoming a nation where embarrassing the government, or revealing its misconduct, has become a dangerous occupation. Perhaps police state is less accurate than an anti-dissent state.”

ScoMo shrewdly credits his victims for his extraordinary election heist, a win which defies fifty consecutive negative opinion polls for the Abbott-Turnbull- Morrison puppet government and its backers. a policy-free zone where chaos is coaxed into catastrophe but whatever he says, (I’m-a-billionaire-and-I-don’t-give-a-shit), Clive Palmer has the last word.

“It’s clear Scott Morrison has been returned as Prime Minister and he’s only done so because of the 3.5 percent of the vote of the United Australia Party,” his overweening modesty and generosity of spirit prompts Palmer to point out.

Palmer drops a lazy $80million into creating his own party and anti-Labor trojan horse. It doesn’t net a single seat in the lower house, nor in the Senate – but for a man who boasts he’s worth $4 billion dollars – it’s a shrewd investment should tax rates be eased; a tax system flattened.

Or a coal mine or a coal-fired power station project need permission to proceed. Palmer has both on the drawing board. Or beyond. He boasts he’s got environmental approval and he’s already advertising for workers for his coal mine.

Clive’s help in bashing Labor through relentless anti-Shorten ads in his election campaign will give him leverage in negotiating further approval for his massive Alpha North Coal Project, right next door to Adani’s stake in the Galilee Basin – but a third bigger. It is capable of producing 80 million tonnes of coal a year, enough to put a swag of other mines out of business overnight.

Palmer’s Alpha North Coal Mine Project, adjacent to Adani, would be a series of open-cut and underground mines covering an area of 144,000 hectares, according to documents submitted to the federal Department of Environment and Energy by Mr Palmer’s Waratah Coal, reports the ABC.

Waratah Coal chairman Palmer even has a 700MW coal-fired power plant planned to help power the mine.

Scott Morrison may kid himself he’s won victory all he likes, but, in reality, it’s as much Rupert Murdoch’s win – a victory of fear and loathing over reason supercharged by Clive Palmer’s anti-Labor propaganda. It is a victory no-one could see coming but that says more about our pollster’s outmoded polling techniques than it does about our political landscape or our capacity to be hoodwinked by a biased right-wing media.

Scott Morrison calls it a “miracle” but his victory is very much business as usual. Dirty business. Morrison, to adapt, Churchill, may be a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is how a negative campaign and an appeal to self-interest can combine with a reactionary media monopoly to re-elect a PM who has offered us nothing in the way in policy to earn a single vote.

If it’s a vote for more of the same, Morrison’s record – carefully airbrushed out of his campaign – gives cause for alarm. Although it’s presented as ScoMo’s “superior reading of The Australian character” by Father Paul Kelly in The Australian, the Coalition victory is more of the ScoMo show combined with Kill Bill, a campaign started by Abbott and happily amplified ever since by News Corp media.

Kill Bill is a theme eagerly taken up, sadly, by Nine News and even our ABC, too cowed by budget cuts and calls to the top floor to dare not to follow the pack.

Saturday sees the finale of the one-month ScoMo Unplugged solo tour. Our narcissist-in-chief, benches the rest of his team to perform a solo populist parody: a beer-chugging, footy-kicking, basketballing, bingo-calling, razzle-dazzle hoopla-variety show while he repeatedly puts the boot into Bill Shorten. Pure vaudeville.

Look out! He’s behind you! Shifty Bill’s after your savings. Hell-bent on raising massive taxes. Look out. He’ll “take money from your pocket.”

Is it a spin-off from the Trump beats Clinton Show; the same franchise that brought us fake news and alternative facts? There are many alarming parallels. What is certain is that whilst Scott Morrison’s Coalition may get the votes he needs to form government, he has neither the statesmanship, nor the policies, nor the record of success to inspire any form of confidence. History suggests the very opposite; government by SNAFU.

Expect instead, a continuation of the ScoMo circus, lurching from chaos to catastrophe with nothing but the prompting of its sponsors and its mining, banking and other corporate lobby groups to guide it, – forever reacting to self-inflicted disaster – a vitiated democratic state that rules by force and fear and favour; not a democracy nor a meritocracy but a one-man band and his cronies, The ScoMo oligarchy.

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ScoMo’s campaign launch flops ending a week of catastrophic failure.

Scott Morrison’s Liberal campaign flop at the Melbourne Convention Sunday may be a teensy setback but at least he gets to talk for 55 minutes. Jim Jones would harangue The Peoples’ Temple for hours. Fidel Castro bored on at the UN for four hours, 29 minutes. Ted Cruz ranted against Obamacare for 21 hours 19 minutes. ScoMo’s clearly working up to that.

“I believe that Australia is a promise to everyone who has the great privilege to call themselves an Australian. It’s the promise that allows Australians quietly going about their lives to realise their simple, honest and decent aspirations,” 

ScoMo’s clearly been influenced by Robert Lee James Hawke who invoked the same promise in a real speech in 1987.

“This is the promise of Australia. This is the Australian vision. This is the reality of the Australian dream. Together, let us begin a new century of Australian achievement.”

But even a train-wreck of a campaign launch may have a silver lining. It’s great to hear Sarah Henderson run through stale talking points about how we can’t afford Bill Shorten, framing the election to be about who you would pick to be PM.

And how good is Michael McCormack? His own campaign itself is tanking. He may well lose his seat. He changes the topic if you mention climate change. But what guts.

The Morrison government appears to be in a spot of bother. MPs are rushing to save the furniture polishing cloth. “Senior cabinet ministers are panicking and drawing in resources to protect their own seats,” reports ABC’s Laura Tingle.

But all is well. The nation is all aflutter this week with a confirmed sighting of “invisible” Melissa Price, our reclusive environment minister. No-one expects Mel to campaign or anything – she’s refused umpteen invitations to appear on ABC 7:30 alone – not that anyone could blame her.

So one million plant and animal species are on the verge of extinction? Dire are the implications for human survival, the United Nations warns Monday, reports The Washington Post. The work doesn’t rate a mention in ScoMo’s speech.

Seven lead co-authors from universities across the world compile a ground-breaking report which directly links the loss of species to human activity. It also reveals how those losses undermine food, water security and human health.

“150 authors from 50 nations labour for three years to compile the report by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services — a panel with 132 member nations, including the United States. Representatives of each member nation signed off on the findings.”

In most countries, in most parties, the environment minister would reply promptly. Mel doesn’t even go “meh”.

Morrison backs her up. “I don’t want to see the Labor Party get to office where they tie businesses up with all sorts of union red tape and all sorts of the Greens’ green tape, which would just cost people jobs,” he says.

It takes a special kind of PM to call to reduce environmental protection at the time of such a report. And facing an election where pollsters find addressing climate change and preserving the environment top Australian citizens’ concerns. But Mel says Meh.

Is she OK? Mad-dog McGrath said he’d get her dumped. Call publicly for her to resign. Yet all Pricey has to do is pick up her pen. Sign on the dotted line. OK, Adani’s water and conservation plans for ecology. Flawed? So what if Adani’s a $60,000 party sponsor? It’s just due process. No bullying. ScoMo’s fixed all that Liberal bully culture stuff.

Last September, Liberal senator Lucy Gichuhi threatened to name and shame the bullies. But she’s withdrawn all that. After a chat with ScoMo, where he appealed to her as “a good Christian woman”, Lucy came to her senses and decided to give ScoMo a fair go to assert his authority; fix party discipline. You can tell it’s working by the tiny turnout at the campaign launch Sunday. Only a strong leader could persuade so many party members to stay away. Lucy’s there, though, hoping for censure of Safe Schools.

Will Mel and her Yeelirrie, WA uranium mine approval earn her a guest role in the next instalment of Kill Bill? “Pretty big decision. A lot of money at stake. Made in the dead of night, the day before the election’s called.” What’s he insinuating? There’s a glut of Uranium. It could be years before the mine is built – if ever. But it’s an announceable. And it’s in Durack, her electorate. But News Corp will get Bill back.

OK, even The Australian states that Yeelirrie’s unlikely to be built this decade. Claims “Senior mining industry ­sources” tell The Weekend Australian that large sections of the industry are fuming at the timing of Price’s Yeelirrie decision. It could have been made well before the election. Price’s latest calls are a “desk-clearing” exercise that makes the industry look dodgy.

Make the uranium industry look dodgy. You’d have to go a long way for someone to rival that achievement. As you’d have to go a long way to see an election turn on an attack on a leader’s recount of his mother’s career.

The latest episode of Kill Bill, sees Bill pilloried yet again in The Daily Telegraph, for not telling the whole truth about his mother Ann’s brilliant career. On Q&A, Shorten shares the fact that like so many intelligent women of her generation, Ann was forced by family circumstances to forgo her dream of a law career and take a teaching scholarship instead.

Anna Caldwell’s story, sensitively timed for the week before Mother’s Day, bears the banner, Mother of Invention.  

Shifty Bill leaves out the bit where, in her late fifties, Ann did qualify as a lawyer only to suffer the age and gender discrimination which still flourishes in our “fair go if you have a go” workplace. Later, Shorten explains that his mother,

“… got about nine briefs in her time. It was actually a bit dispiriting. She had wanted to do law when she was 17, she didn’t get that chance, she raised kids, and at 50, she backed herself. But she discovered in her mid-50s that sometimes, you’re just too old, and you shouldn’t be too old, but she discovered the discrimination against older women.”

The Kill Bill Show is one of many ways our ruling oligarchy of Murdoch, Mining and Banks supports its Coalition puppet government, while, in return, the great string-puller gets away with paying no tax. News Corp’s creative reportage also leads the Australian media pack in cheering us on in our triennial ritual hunt for the elusive democracy sausage.

False narratives abound. We hang on MPs every word, in one myth, weighing up policy and promise as if our lives depend on it. Or the campaign’s the thing! We dismiss all recall of a government’s actual performance in office in favour of their carefully costed promises and that unicorn of contemporary politics, their policy platform. Myths both of them.

For Waleed Aly, our myopia is alarming. “The whole neo-liberal economic world view is being called into question; “the benefits of trickle-down economics don’t trickle down much at all; politics is a game geared to the benefit of an elite. … the British Parliament – under conservative control – has just declared a state of emergency on climate change in line with countless warnings from scientists.  Yet our federal general election may turn on Bill’s mother’s work history?

Yet three-quarters of us are naughty, report researchers. We forgo the democracy sausage. Make up our own minds – and before the campaign even begins. Worse, 2.2 million have already voted. By Polling Day, next Saturday, millions will have already voted. A huge Eurovision Song Contest legitimising Palestinian oppression will upstage televised tally rooms, screens of polling results booth by booth.

Happily, Rupe provides us with countless ripping yarns, diversions and false narratives. These include, ScoMo imagines he is Prime Minister an illusionist masterpiece which prefigures the Liberals’ anti-campaign launch, Sunday where their leader talks to himself alone on stage after being photographed, US-style, hugging his daughters, Abbey and Lily. Wife, Jenny has to stretch her arm to stroke his shoulder. It’s a non-launch, a radically post-modern event for a Bronte bogan.

“It’s not going to be a party hoopla event,” Mr Morrison tells Leigh Sales on 7.30 Monday. “It’s not about the Liberal Party and it’s not about the National Party … It’s not about who is coming, it’s about who will be listening.”

Motor-mouth Morrison is never sure who is listening. Or when he’s made his point. When to stop. Earlier in the week, he pioneers the killer comeback with a two-day delay.

“Who remembers PAC-MAN? That little thing that goes around gobbling up like that?” ScoMo shows and tells. Moves hand. Imagine a snapping turtle sock puppet without the sock.  “That’s Bill Shorten’s tax policy. And you know how it chases people around, in the maze? That’s Bill Shorten’s tax policy. The only space he’s going to invade is your wallet.”

Hilarious. Not. A smart comeback is ruined if you have to explain it. Or it takes two days to think up. But ScoMo just loves a bit of panto. Almost as much as refusing to answer questions.  Or monstering opponents. Suddenly he springs a surprise puppet show. How funny am I? Who remembers PAC-MAN? Melissa Price? The environment? Policy?

We may not have an environment, energy, education or arts policy from this government., but at least we’ve got ScoMo’s magic Muppet-Show to win our hearts and minds; lift our GDP; save our koalas and Reef. But PAC-MAN?

Get a grip, ScoMo. PAC-MAN isn’t the bad guy. PAC-MAN’s a hero; a digital Odysseus. You help PAC-MAN through a maze full of hungry ghosts. Think Banquo. Or Turnbull.

ScoMo muffs his riposte to Bill’s withering “Space Invaders” slap-down in the second leaders’ debate. Bill wins easily. Goes on to trounce his opponent 3:0 in the series. Commentators turn absurdly to body language to explain how ScoMo actually won on confidence. Or body language. Or sock puppetry.

Graham Freudenberg warns Morrison will flop. “Because … he does take people at the lowest common denominator.”

Sean Kelly sees something of the Kinder teacher in him. Always gesturing. Talking down. Question Time, he’ll ask MPs to put their hands up. If Morrison is elected, Saturday, a lucky nation can expect further infantilising. More vapid, saccharine banter. More beers with the boys. More footy-kicking. Picking up fallen women and other CWA heroics.

Expect more banal, populist, faux-patriotic bull-shit. “Who loves Australia? Everyone. We all love Australia. Of course we do. But do we love all Australians? That’s a different question, isn’t it? Do we love all Australians? We’ve got to.” 

Beneath this sanctimonious veneer lurks a monster at war with the poor via Centrelink’s Robo-debt, a man who sees nothing wrong with freezing wages, cutting penalty rates or locking up men women and children on island prisons indefinitely, with no charge, driving them mad as a deterrent to others. Others whose only fault is to throw themselves on our compassion. There is no compassion for our refugees in his speech.

No reference either to the Islamophobia and the misogyny spread by his own government ministers – all the interests of “loving all Australians”.

Daggy dad, deadbeat or dinosaur? Fossil Morrison, Paul Keating calls him at the Labor launch. “There’s the prime minister walking around with a lump of coal. Coal is a fossil. The prime minister is a fossil himself – a fossil with a baseball cap, but a fossil.”

A federal election is not a presidential contest, despite Murdoch’s urging and the Mexican wave of independent MSM. Yet fewer and fewer of us take them seriously these days. Nor do we believe ScoMo who endlessly, witlessly, insists it’s “a choice between Bill and me”.

The punters are not always right, as William Bowe reminds us; take the Victorian election for example. But Betfair odds on Labor victory shorten to $1.13 while the Coalition eases to $6.00. One punter bets a million dollars on Bill.

It’s a record for a political bet in Australia but it’s barely half what Mal paid to win his one-seat majority in 2016.

Coalition MPs panic. Stampede wild-eyed, out of Canberra, hell-bent on saving their own seats. Laura Tingle reports Liberal insiders writing off Abbott in Warringah while in NSW, Gilmore and Reid are gone. Labor may even snatch Lindsay. Cowper may go to Rob Oakeshott, & Farrer, despite Sussan Ley’s 20% margin, may go to a local mayor.”

But it’s the Daily Tele’s attack on Shorten’s story of his mother, a whopper that he’s laundered her story shopped around Canberra Tuesday, which backfires horribly on Gotcha Morrison. The low blow gives Labor’s leader an opportunity to cut through the fog of cockamamie economics, dog-whistling, scaremongering, falsehood, fabrication, distortion, outright lies, character assassination and personal abuse that is the News Corp Trumpery integral to Coalition campaigning.

“An absolute gift to Bill Shorten”, says a back-handed, Barrie Cassidy on Friday’s ABC Breakfast News, “it humanised him in a way he hasn’t been able to do so far. One hell of an own goal; a very nasty story and it backfired”.News Corp sources say the Daily Telegraph has another story in their dirt file to throw at Shorten, writes Paul Bongiorno. “It is highly defamatory and legally dubious. The desperation that led to the attack on Shorten and his mother’s memory may give them pause to think about running it. As one Labor campaign worker says, “It’s difficult to know where the government ends and News Corp begins.”

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Stop your lies, Frydenberg, your environment and climate policy is a failure

Bobbing its blue-grey head and cackling, ecstatically, as it greets its mate, the Southern Black-throated Finch, (Poephila cincta cincta) whose rufous wings and cinnamon body evoke a tiny, tan Driza-Bone coat, is fighting to survive.

Only one-eighth of its natural habitat remains in North Queensland. Even that remnant is under threat as habitat-clearing continues. Should seventeen proposed new Galilee Basin mines proceed, we’re all in trouble.

Twenty years ago, we made laws to help. Our Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act) was lauded as a way to preserve endangered species. Queensland’s own Vegetation Management Act was set up in the same year to regulate the clearing of vegetation. Neither has succeeded. The fate of the gregarious and plucky black-throated finch illuminates the failure of our attempts at environmental governance.

The EPBC is fragmented, decentralised and inconsistent among states. It is unclear what is state and what is national responsibility. Compounding all is a lack of accountable federal leadership. On cue, Sunday, ScoMo does a runner. He declines an invitation to appear on ABC The Insiders. Josh Frydenberg appears instead. He lies about,

“… why we take our Paris commitments seriously and why we’ll beat our 2030 target, just as we’ve beaten our original Kyoto target and on track to beat our 2020 target. We have $25 billion in renewable investment currently underway in Australia – a record amount. And we are one of the most attractive destinations in the world for renewable energy. We’re also investing in Snowy 2.0 to become the big battery on the east coast of Australia. But you shouldn’t see climate change as a zero-sum game, as a binary choice between doing something and doing nothing.”

Frydenberg should tell the truth. We fudged Kyoto by including land clearing. (LULUCF). Article 3.7, The Australia clause, was added to the agreement by Howard’s environment minister, Robert Hill. It allows countries with net emissions from land-use change, usually land clearing, to include those emissions in their baseline calculation.

Barrie doesn’t call him on it. The lie is repeated each time a Morrison government minister trots out the day’s talking points. Hill’s fiddling the books greatly benefited Australia. In 1990, when the baseline was determined, Australia was land clearing massively. After 1990, a Hawke Government initiative saw land-clearing cut sharply.

The resulting credit was big enough to allow Australia to boost emissions, especially from electricity generation and transport fuels while sticking within its rigged Kyoto-con emissions limits. Yet the credits have run out now and a useful question for the Coalition, sadly not asked on Insiders, is how do we plan to meet our target now?

Given our LULUCF credit has now expired, what cuts will be made in which other sources to meet even the lame 26-28 per cent reductions we committed to in our signing the Paris Agreement? Or why is ScoMo shying away?

What is clear is that the PM won’t appear, Barrie Cassidy explains, until after the election. Morrison’s pathological fear of scrutiny, his love of secrecy and his contempt for accountability are entrenched. As Immigration Minister he’d walk out of his own press briefings. A reverse space invasion. Then he abandoned briefings altogether.

Poorly led at federal level, our attempts to protect our environment are maladministered; open to abuse. Above all, nowhere do they factor in climate change, flaws writ large also in The Murray Darling Basin scandal.

Last October, the UN gave all of us twelve years to curb catastrophic climate change. In March, it called for ambition, urgency “We are the last generation that can prevent irreparable damage to our planet,” warns General Assembly President María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, “climate justice is intergenerational justice.”

If we don’t curb our carbon emissions to 45% by 2030, zero by 2050, keep global warming to a maximum of 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels expect more droughts, floods and heatwaves; more extreme, freak weather.

Hundreds of millions of us will be forced into poverty. Yet nowhere in our phony election campaign is climate change seriously addressed. Only school children demonstrating, it seems, grasp the reality; the urgency.

Instead, a coal-puppet Coalition ignores its role in increasing carbon emissions; brazenly lies that we’ll meet our Paris targets “at a canter” when, in fact, we’ll miss our modest target of 26 per cent by 2030. Our current policies are more consistent with a scenario of four degrees warming. Disastrous. And it will be expensive.

University of Melbourne’s Professor Tom Kompass sums up, “The severe falls in GDP in the long term will put many governments in fiscal stress. Tax revenues will fall dramatically and increases in the frequency and severity of weather events and other natural disasters, which invoke significant emergency management responses and expenditures, indicate that pressure on government budgets will be especially severe.”

Modelling from Brian Fisher of BAE Economics, a coal-lobby stooge, who never met a climate plan he didn’t like, is used as a diversionary dead cat on the table. Labor’s carbon abatement will be hideously unaffordable – causing GDP to drop by “up to” $542 billion by 2030. The diversion is taken up by MSM, now, while Morrison delights in pretending that Labor can’t cost its policy or it’s hiding the true cost. For ScoMo, it beats trying to save the planet.

What is unaffordable is doing nothing. No coalition MP acknowledges the $130 billion PA, The Australia Institute (TAI) calculates doing nothing would cost our annual GDP. Our climate debate is deficient on three points:

  1. The cost of inaction on climate change is huge – Australia’s GDP would average $130 billion per year lower if the  Paris Agreement is not achieved according to a prominent study.
  2. Under the carbon price period, Australia successfully reduced emissions by 2% while the economy grew by 5%.
  3. Economic literature suggests the economic impacts of climate policy will be minor.

For the Coalition to claim we even need modelling to show we can’t afford carbon abatement is a monstrous lie.

“In just two years Australia reduced emissions by 2% and grew the economy by 5% under a carbon price and the sky did not fall in. In fact, employment grew by 200,000 jobs,” writes TAI Research Director Rod Campbell.

The nomadic black-throated finch once foraged for fallen seeds and the odd spider, termite or ant from Inverell in northern NSW to Cape York in Queensland. Today it’s lost the southern two-thirds of its former range. Yet such is the incoherence of our ineffectual environmental protection systems that it is all too easy to play politics

The vast, grassy woodland, the finch once grazed, is now, mostly farm paddock. Clearing for Adani’s massive Carmichael mine would tip the gregarious bird into extinction. Yet this week, the Queensland government puts Adani on hold because its plans to protect the endangered finch do not meet the miner’s approval conditions.

Howls of outrage erupt from Adani and its claque. It’s “a massive blow”. Adani won’t be able to start construction for another five years, “a spokesman” tells The Australian’s Charlie Peel who joins Michael McKenna, in public handwringing, promoting the Coalition lie that state and federal Labor MPs are delaying and politicising Adani’s approval because the mine is unpopular with voters in “inner-city electorates”.

Helpfully, Federal Resources Minister, Barnaby Joyce’s protégé, Matt Canavan, tells The Australian that Labor has caved in to pressure from the Greens and from inner-city ­electorates. “The Labor Party has to answer why they are listening to anti-coal academics in Melbourne and not the workers of central and north Queensland,” he says. Canavan could tell workers the truth. Opening Adani or any other new mine will put existing jobs at risk.

Research by The Australia Institute estimates that developing the Galilee Basin would reduce coal mining jobs by 9,000 in the Hunter Valley (NSW), 2,000 in the Bowen Basin (QLD) and 1,400 in the Surat Basin (QLD), compared to a scenario with no Galilee mines out to 2035. With declining world demand for coal, each new mine opened in The Galilee Basin will cause layoffs and closures in Australian mines elsewhere. And jobs in the industry are scarce.

Across Australia, coal mining accounts for half of one percent of all jobs (0.5%) or half a job out of every hundred. Even in peak coal-mining territory, North Queensland, coal mining represents only four percent of all jobs. Twice as many jobs are to be found on reef regions, jobs which Adani’s Abbott Point pollution has already endangered.

“If Adani can’t safely operate Abbot Point, how can it be expected to safely operate a giant coal mine?” asks ACF’s Christian Slattery.

The Stop Adani convoy which began in Hobart just before Easter, arrives in Canberra today and in a rally on Parliament House lawn, Bob Brown tells thousands that they can’t rely on divine intervention to prevent the Adani coal mine. He also explains that the journey has not always been cheered on by fellow Australians.

“We had rocks thrown at us, we had people spat on, some people were actually physically abused.”

Writer and Booker-prize winning novelist, Richard Flanagan makes an impassioned speech. MPs are patently insincere when they profess to care about workers, Richard Flanagan, who grew up in a coal town, says.

“If they cared wouldn’t they be advocating to end black lung disease, a 19th-century industrial disease now returned, because of unsafe working conditions, to kill Australian coal miners in the 21st century?”

If they cared wouldn’t they be speaking out about the increasing casualisation and pay stripping of coal miners, supported by the Morrison government?

And if they cared wouldn’t they question whether Adani is an appropriate business to employ Australian miners? Adani, such a friend of the working man that, when building its giant Shantigram luxury estate in India, it housed workers in conditions so appalling that there were 15 recorded outbreaks of cholera.”

As the canary is a type of finch, the black-throated finch may be the canary in our national coalmine. Perhaps its fate will receive such publicity that it will serve to alert the nation and its leaders to the need to act on climate.

Adani may never act. Despite it’s epic “gunner” political theatre, Adani may do nothing but endlessly re-announce that work is beginning. A lot of care goes into the performance. “Gunner start” “before Christmas” the latest reveals planning. “Gunner start.” Presto! A yellow grader appears. Workers in Hi-Vis vests clear scrub. But that’s it. Adani, clearly, has no intention of beginning unless it can get funding or compo from our government.

It’s likely to be a long, slow, wait. Environmentally catastrophic, financially unviable yet outrageously oversold, Adani’s Carmichael Mine is surreal performance art with a hefty price tag. Last July it failed to pay $18.5 million for 12.5 billion litres of water, a fee to take water from the Sutton River. No matter. It gets another year to pay while world demand for coal continues its four-year fall. Public subsidies and freebies could sustain it forever.

Currently, thermal coal fetches up to US$90/tonne for top quality Newcastle coal but prices are declining. Carmichael, which has inferior coal, is a basket case unless it can earn over US$110/tonne.

Adani is hanging on, partly to disguise booking a loss of $3bn on its accounts, spent acquiring the mine and partly in the hope its lawyers can persuade an Australia government to compensate it for breach of contract.

University of Queensland economist John Quiggin reminds Guardian Australia readers that the current price of coal is enough to prevent Adani’s Carmichael Mine or Clive Palmer’s or Gina Rinehart’s or any of the other mines from ever opening. Adani has no intention of investing its own money. It would take a massive ongoing government subsidy. For every new Adani worker employed, another job would be lost by a competitor.

But it’s art with a hefty price tag. Adani will string things out until it’s told to go away or long enough to demand compensation from the federal government. John Quiggin suggests that a claim is possible under the investor-state dispute settlement system (ISDS) which applies despite the lapse of our free trade agreement with India.

An emblem for every living, sentient being on our planet ark, the tiny finch is, at best, granted a stay of execution.

“If we don’t take action, the collapse of our civilisations and the extinction of much of the natural world is on the horizon,” David Attenborough warns the UN.  Action, of sorts, occurs late in the week on Adani’s plans.

Despite invisible Federal Environment Minister, Melissa Price, ticking the box, Queensland’s Department of Environment and Science, (DES) spurns Adani’s offer of a cow paddock as an adequate bird management plan. With seventeen coal mines proposed for the Galilee Basin, Adani may be banking on the finch’s inevitable demise.  On the other hand, with coal-mining increasingly uneconomic, the government may be banking on Adani stalling.

Yet we live in a land where coal barons own politicians. Not to mention a media cheer squad. Even ABC 24 anchor Ros Childs asks an expert guest if the creature’s plight is not just “an Adani stalling tactic”. Our national broadcaster plays into mainstream media fictions; false narratives about how noble coal-barons create jobs and prosperity but their mission to boost our prosperity is thwarted by the pettifogging impediments of Green lawfare.

In fact, miners’ bulldozers and land clearing for sugar-cane farms and apartment buildings have razed vast tracts of the black-throated finch’s North Queensland home, its last refuge after pastoralists’ land-clearing and overgrazing led to the species’ extinction in NSW in the 1990s. Solar farms are proposed. Adani and Palmer’s and Rinehart’s proposed giant open cut and underground coalmines, should they proceed, will inevitably spell the end.

A sleek but thickset bird that seeks only to forage for fallen seeds in an undisturbed natural habitat is locked in a heroic battle for survival in a week of dirty electioneering, in which neither science nor nature, nor environmental law has its champion – the southern black-throated finch assumes iconic status; a type of national emblem.

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The Coalition will have to do better than rely on bogus announceables, attacking Labor and lurid scare campaigns

“Scott Morrison had a choice between standing up for ripped off workers or sucking up to a tosser who ripped them off and he chose the tosser. He chose Clive Palmer,” Labor’s Anthony Albanese, MP Federal Member for Grayndler Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development Shadow Minister for Tourism

A land down-under stands tall this week as our nation is regaled with tales of former glory from our annual Anzackery bash, vows of congestion-busting and refugee-capping via Coalition focus-groups and a Labor policy with teeth, its $2.4 billion pensioner dental plan – along with a $4 billion boost to childcare subsidies announced Sunday.

William Richard Shorten is also impressing those contacted by News Poll which reports late Sunday his highest approval rating since March 2015, with 39 percent of voters satisfied with his performance. He’s also narrowed the gap between himself and Morrison in preferred Prime Minister to 37 percent compared with ScoMo’s 45 percent.

The poll puts the Coalition 49 to 51, two-party preferred which is an improvement of one point on its last survey, yet  YouGov Galaxy conducted by Sunday News Corp tabloids, published Saturday, has the margin 48-52.

Capturing the nation’s imagination, a last-minute Coalition preference deal with Clive Palmer’s United Australia Party may give Palmer the edge over Hanson’s One Nation and put Malcolm Roberts out of the race. Digger ScoMo, on the other hand, may imagine himself heroically plucking victory from the jaws of disaster; going over the top at The Nek in a Gallipoli all in his own mind, to win a few preferences in some marginal lower house Queensland seats.

History is against Morrison. “In the last three decades, Labor has won 86 seats on preferences after trailing on first preferences. The Coalition has won two,” election analyst, Anthony Green, cheerfully tells ABC TV. Clive was present for 25 of 400 votes last time he was an MP, Labor reminds Insiders. “It’s a marriage between a con-man and an ad-man” ventures Penny Wong leading wags on social media to suggest that ScoMo’s tag should be “failed ad-man”.

It’s a week of mythic stories of larrikin heroes, noble sacrifice, true grit and other inspiring fictions of national identity, our unique courage, enterprise and ingenuity  – our can-do attitude – from ANZAC Cove to Uruzgan, while our amazing run of luck with getting multinational mining companies to dig up our buried treasure, take our water and taxpayer subsidies, wreck our environment, extinguish our unique wildlife and evade paying tax continues.

Exxon Mobile’s $33.1 billion over four years with zero tax paid will be hard to beat – but Adani’s got form.

Adani has breached its licence twice in two years and was prosecuted for releasing coal-contaminated water near the Great Barrier Reef, but its scaled-down, 15 million tonnes a year, mini-monster, a mine opposed by two-thirds of Australians, gets a federal government rubber-stamp on its flawed groundwater management plan.

CSIRO tells the minister the plan is useless given its poor modelling and is riddled with errors and false assumptions.

“The modelling used is not suitable to ensure the outcomes sought by the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Protection Act are met,” the CSIRO and Geoscience Australia state in a joint report.

Adani underestimates how the mine will guzzle bore water local farmers rely on. The water will be drained more severely; more quickly than predicted, the scientists warn. Above all, the mine could drain Doongmabulla an ecologically sensitive ancient natural springs complex, exceeding strict limits on draw-down of the springs’ waters.

But there’s more. Adani also gets a secret sweetheart royalty holiday possibly worth hundreds of millions, unlimited free water, a $100 million access road and an airport funded by Rockhampton and Townsville local councils in a not so open tender deal which has attracted the attention of the Queensland Crime and Corruption Commission.

Giant Canadian uranium miner, Cameco, with its massive Yeelirrie mine, 500km north of Kalgoorlie in Environment Minister “M.I.A.” Melissa Price’s Durack, WA, electorate also gets approval.  Is Price bullied into any decision? Nope, just “intense pressure” over Adani by her QLD colleagues, James McGrath, Matt Canavan and Peter Dutton.

We know from previous incidents, revealed by Julia Banks and others that there’s no bullying in the Coalition. Nor any hard feelings. Julia will now exchange her preferences with Labor in the seat of Flinders, she announces Sunday.

Mad-dog James McGrath merely threatened to call publicly for Ms Price to be sacked if she didn’t sign off on the project. Jacqueline Maley hates that the Coalition campaign is a bit of men’s shed, blokes-only show but that’s what you get with ScoMo who promised to look into the whole bullying thing, last September after Ann Sudmalis quit.

Maley is disgusted by ScoMo’s duck-shoving, not to mention his high-handed if not autocratic, abortion gag.

“There has been no investigation into the claims of misogynistic bullying made following the coup against Malcolm Turnbull, and just before the campaign began, Morrison decreed that the issue of abortion was a “debate” that doesn’t “unite” Australians, and was therefore not “good for the country”.

Mining is clearly good for the country, the Coalition contends, but it has botched both uranium and coal decisions in its rush to win votes and reward a mining lobby which donated $45,000 to the LNP last year. Good for the country? There is every reason, economic, environmental or health, to leave our coal and uranium underground.

“55,000 jobs depend on our coal mining industry. That’s what it does. And I think that’s great for Australia,” crows “Stunts” ScoMo who gained notoriety for waving a lump of coal at the despatch box. But 55,000 jobs is less than half of one per cent of Australia’s workforce. And far from being great for us, it’s toxic and costly. Taxpayers fork out $12 billion, a year in fossil-fuel subsidies alone. Other costs are borne by government. Then there are health costs.

Coal mining is the second greatest source of coarse particle pollution (22%) after metal ore mining (28%). Australia’s 92 coal mines emitted 320 million kg of PM10 (coarse particles) in 2017-18. There is no safe threshold for coal dust. Coal particulates contain heavy metals; toxic at low concentrations.

Coal dust blows out over MacKay from open stockpiles and uncovered rail wagons when the wind is right and port workers along with mine workers contract black lung, a disease thought to have been eradicated in 2015.

What’s great about inhaling lead, mercury, nickel, tin, cadmium, mercury, antimony, and arsenic, as well as radio isotopes of thorium and strontium?  Fine coal dust causes a range of diseases and health problems including an increased incidence of heart and respiratory diseases like asthma and lung cancer.

Coal is toxic; lethal. Along with the enormous, social and environmental costs of coal mining and coal burning are how it helps to shorten our lives. If you live within 50km of a coal-fired power station, you are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than your peers who live further away. Not that our states appear alarmed.

The government’s National Pollutant Inventory NPI’s April 2019 report shows our State governments allow coal-fired power stations to pump out as much as 20 times more toxic air pollution than other countries allow. Coal-fired power stations are the main source of Australia’s fine particle pollution (26% of the national ‘all sources’ total), oxides of nitrogen (26%), and sulphur dioxide (49%). They are responsible for a health bill of $2.6 billion, P.A.

Australia produces 5.5% of the world’s coal. We export more coal than any other nation; 38% of the world’s total coal exports. But there is little to be proud of. Assuming that only two million of the seven million deaths attributed to air pollution are due to coal burning, Australian coal causes 110 000 deaths each year.

All uranium ends up as either nuclear weapons or highly radioactive waste from nuclear reactors. Yet Yeelirrie’s approval is only after the federal government is persuaded to drop a requirement that would render it less hazardous – a requirement that the company demonstrate that no species would be made extinct. This requirement had previously caused the WA EPA in 2016 to issue advice that the mine not be implemented.

Matthias Cormann tells Sky News the approval was made 5 March but it is not until 10 April, the day before the election date is proclaimed, that the news is quietly posted on the department’s website. Australian Conservation Foundation’s national nuclear campaigner, Dave Sweeney, deplores a political decision based on a flawed process.

An environmental catastrophe, Yeelirrie may yield over 35 million tonnes of radioactive waste, consume 10 billion litres of groundwater while 2500 hectares of vegetation will be razed for its nine-kilometre long open pit.

Groundwater levels may drop by 50cm and not recover for 200 years, according to Cameco’s own reports.

“Australia could be a leader and driver of renewable energy tech. Instead, the government is rushing through approvals of the Yeelirrie uranium mine and Adani coal mine in what could be the government’s dying days,” Sweeney says.

Yeelirrie means “place of death” in the language of the local Tjiwarl people who were not notified of the decision.

Place of death? Mining uranium could drive to extinction rare subterranean fauna species and harm other wildlife species like the rare and likely to become extinct Malleefowl, the vulnerable Princess parrot and Greater bilby.

The elusive Price drops off the radar. Labor says she’s in witness protection after another shonky Morrison deal.

Shonky? True, the minister did vow last October to wait until the WA Supreme Court ruled on the legitimacy of state government approvals. Granted also, mining won’t proceed until uranium prices rise, if they ever do, but, in the meantime, what a coup for the rule of brute force, duplicity and stupidity. Bugger science or due process.

Our lucky country’s spoilt for choice, national chaplain, Father Morrison, tells us in what Paul Bongiorno calls the PM’s “warm and cuddly appearances” for nightly television bulletins: remember the fallen, mind our own small business, (the nation’s backbone), have a go to get a fair go and don’t ask questions. Especially on the Reserve Bank’s tipped to cut interest rates or water rorts. Or anything else. ScoMo is into government by announceables.

ScoMo, like Abbott and like Rupert Murdoch and before him the great showman Phineas T Barnum, follow Hollywood’s golden rule, as Jerry Roberts notes in The Dumbing down of politics, religion and trade unions.

“People are stupid. Therefore, they should be fed garbage.  An alternative rule goes back to the Scottish enlightenment and Presbyterian social conscience and says people are stupid because they are fed garbage.”

Morrison talks down to us at his peril. His folksy homilies, collection of caps and his tedious family anecdotes are barely coherent but the intent is clear; he seeks to patronise. Thus he alienates where he seeks to ingratiate. Nowhere is this clearer than in his pathological evasion of questions. His bullying, autocratic ego will be his undoing.

“Canberra bubble stuff” is ScoMo’s pet brush-off. Sometimes he borrows Angus Taylor’s favourite evasion “I’ve already answered that question.” Michelle Grattan notes a third evasive tactic he favours, also given detailed analysis by The Monthly’s Sean Kelly in The Rise, Duck and Weave of Australia’s no-fault Prime Minister.

Q: Should Clive Palmer, given he’s spending $50 million in advertising, pay the $70 million back to the Commonwealth plus the $7 million he owes to workers?

PM: Clive Palmer is making his own statements on those matters.

Plucky Gus, pencil-sharpie of post-modern Aussie mateship and rule by oligarchical collectivism may be our latest national hero, as he almost single-handedly bails out Team Barnaby; plugging leaks in the dyke of Watergate, a boondoggle where government pays $79 million for rain collected by agri-business rich and shrewd enough to build huge levees to divert overland flows into their own dams leaving high and dry the river system nature favours.

And sell it back to us. 28,000 megalitres. At huge profit. Exactly who profits is invisible thanks to cutting-edge Gus’s Cayman Island company, Eastern Australia Irrigation (EAI), parent of Eastern Australia Agriculture, (EAA), a mob the former director has nothing to do with now; knows nothing about. No further questions? But where’s the water?

The Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder confirms to Karen Middleton of The Saturday Paper that the two contentious water licences for which the federal government paid $79 million have returned next to no water to the environment since they were purchased two years ago. Is this why ScoMo and co insist there’s nothing to see here?

Our ABC has a go. ABC RN’s Patricia Karvelas asks Barnaby Joyce some fair and reasonable questions, Monday. Why buy water that cannot be returned to the environment? Why pay so much for rights to water so unreliable? Why no open tender? Who were the beneficiaries? It’s a train-wreck of an interview from an MP who could well be our next deputy PM should the Coalition be returned to office. But only if you’re looking for accountability, lucidity or logic.

Labor. Labor. Labor. Labor. Barnaby seeks to shift the blame. Evade all responsibility. It’s a surreal performance – a Dadaist interpretation of ministerial irresponsibility. “How would I know?” is his most lucid response.

“And Labor did it, too.” The lie is repeated by ScoMo’s daggy dad, avatar, our nation’s post-truth pastor. That Labor ran open tenders, is way too much information for most voters, ScoMo calculates.  Meanwhile, his turd-polishing unit will come up with other trusty falsehoods: Taylor’s water problem is all due to politics anyway. One side is just as bad as the other. The line is now received wisdom on energy, despite its palpable absurdity.

Perhaps, after all, it’s the river’s fault? In a novel twist, former NSW MP Pru Goward blames the victim,

“Governments have struggled with how do we solve sharing a very poor river. Let’s face it, it’s a terrible river, between three states with all these competing interests.”

ANZAC Day brings a brief lull in the slanging-match between our business, banking and mining proxies, the volatile, Liberal, National Coalition, telling lies about Labor death taxes while trying to bribe voters with tax cuts and the representatives of their wage-slaves, Labor, once a workers’ party but, now, badly ravaged by the neoliberal pox.

Coalition campaigning gets a boost from a fake news item in local Chinese language social media about how Labor plans school programmes to instruct youngsters in gay sex. It’s an extension of the disinformation circulated about the Safe Schools anti-bullying programme. A photograph of William Richard Shorten accompanies the article which warns readers of Mandarin using recycled scare tactics from some quarters of the marriage equality debate.

“That men can use women’s toilets. For men to wear women’s clothing. That the following vocabulary cannot be used: dad, mum, older brother, younger brother, older sister, younger sister, uncle, aunt, boy, girl, pregnant, and other gendered words.”

From Queensland, appears a fresh source of hope to the far right or just far out. The civil war the Coalition loves to call its” broad church” whose views on climate change, are enriched by such luminaries as Craig Kelly and Tony Abbott will embrace its recent recruit, Queensland LNP climate nut and (winnable) number three spot senate candidate, Gerard Rennick, whose $30,000 party donation last year is totally unrelated to his pre-selection.

An advocate of a nuclear-armed Australia and a self-professed Russophile, Gerry has a compelling case. He “hates it when we vilify the Russians”, “They don’t want to be hated. I mean, they’re part of the West: they drink, they’re Christians, they play soccer, they’re Caucasians, they have very similar customs and values to us.”

Rennick will not only be a big help to Penny Wong on foreign policy but a boon to the Senate’s deliberations on climate and energy with his belief that the Bureau of meteorology fakes data to pump up global warming hysteria. To be fair to Gerard, this mad claim is one of many circulated to all conservative candidates by our friendly IPA.

Of course, there’s no real cessation of hostilities. ‘Our heroes don’t just belong to the past, they live with us today,’ claims ScoMo in Townsville, where he embraces coal-mining, the Coalition’s back to the future portal with its iconic anti-Greenie, Australia based around real heroes, big blokes digging up stuff in our glorious war on nature and science.

All is well, however, in Rupert Murdoch’s media monopoly where scribes quietly declare their man Morrison to be well in front of shifty Bill Shorten. Others give the Murdoch empire a pat on the back. Election campaign and Canberra bubble veteran, Michelle Grattan, opines,

“Morrison so far has more than held his own on the campaign trail; Bill Shorten has under-performed. Second, the Liberals’ relentlessly negative campaign looks dangerous for Labor. This is especially so as Shorten is facing the full weight of News Corp’s hostility.” 

Grattan is articulating a key component of the upcoming federal election, the mainstream media narrative. The scorer, whom she awaits eagerly is of course News Poll. Expect a frenzy of adulation as “Morrison closes gap”. In truth, the News Poll may well be an outlier while Labor needs a uniform swing of just one per cent to win government. Pre-polling will open Monday and it’s clear that many voters have already made up their minds.

The Coalition’s hasty, flawed, last minute mining approvals are unlikely to provide the boost in popularity it seeks. If public opinion polls are any guide, neither new mine is likely to win hearts and minds. Nor is it certain either will proceed if only on economic grounds and each could face a series of legal challenges over the approval process.

What is clear is that any political party that underestimates voters’ intelligence and common sense is in for a rude awakening. With three weeks until election day and still no sign of policies on energy, environment, education, the Coalition will have to do better than rely on bogus announceables, attacking Labor and lurid scare campaigns.

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It’s not the economy, stupid, it’s climate change that matters most to the nation.

“In climate change, there will never be enough figures to satisfy the climate sceptics. If you don’t believe in the science of climate change, no amount of evidence will ever convince you because, fundamentally, it’s a stupid position not to take action,” Labor’s leader squelches a popular press narrative in Darwin Tuesday. The News Corp story is a “bait the left” stunt is that Labor’s emissions policy target will cost business $25 billion.

Bill-baiting starts Tuesday. 10 “News First” Jonathan Lea asks, “When can voters learn more about Labor’s emission reduction target, how you will get there and the cost to the economy?”  Read their policy?

A “look at me” moment from a TV journalist, to engineer a sense of something at stake, says The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy who has her own thoughtful analysis of a policy which has been available since December.

It’s not perfect. Labor’s carbon trading raises questions. No carbon budget exists yet, given the hyper partisan state of our energy debate, but it’s way ahead of a Coalition driven by a group of climate change deniers.

Malcolm Turnbull helpfully enters the fray, swinging at ScoMo, his nemesis, Sunday, alleging that by dumping the national energy guarantee, (NEG) Scott Morrison’s captain’s recall will drive up electricity prices. Turnbull takes issue with a Daily Telegraph column by Sky News’ David Speers on the NEG and electricity prices.

Turnbull takes exception to Speers’ characterisation of the NEG as “Malcolm Turnbull’s National Energy Guarantee”.  The NEG had support from cabinet and ScoMo. It is no longer policy only because of a “right wing minority” revolt in the party room: a few MPs threatened to cross the floor unless the NEG was dropped.

Disregarding the many flaws in the NEG, Turnbull argues, “The consequence is no integration of energy and climate policy, uncertainty continues to discourage investment with the consequence, as I have often warned, of both higher emissions and higher electricity prices.” In a parting shot at Labor, the former PM helpfully calculates Labor will have to find about $35 billion through carbon credits purchased offshore by 2030.

A small fraction of the economy would be affected, argues ANU economist, Professor Warwick McKibbin. The Morrison government policy to reduce carbon emissions would subtract about 0.4 per cent from the economy by 2030, he reckons, despite much criticism of Direct Action’s usefulness and Labor’s would do the same.

But long range forecasts are fraught. And why must cost dominate? William Richard Shorten remonstrates.

“This has been a 10-year torture on climate change, where the climate has got worse, the extreme weather events have got worse, and this government is still trying to delay and discourage.”

Australians are united on global warming.  New research from The Australia Institute, puts the lie to myths of a North/South divide: most voters in all states and a majority across political allegiances want the government to mobilise all of society, “like they mobilised everyone during the world wars”, to tackle global warming.

Instead, the Coalition mobilises a scare campaign to panic electors. Labor will massively tax superannuation. Business will go bust with the extra costs of international carbon credits.  Labor’s climate change policy is Carbon Tax 2.0 which will impose MASSIVE costs on Australians. Basic, diversionary tactics help it evade scrutiny of the $40 billion in spending cuts required to pay for the Coalition’s promised tax breaks.

The prospect of any cuts upsets the states. Treasurers in Victoria, Qld, WA, the ACT and the Northern Territory write to fledgling Federal Treasurer Frydenberg, this week asking him to “confirm that there will be no further funding cuts to hospitals, schools, infrastructure and other essential services that Australians rely on.”

Their letter points out that a $40 billion cut in spending “is more than the Commonwealth’s entire annual contribution to the states and territories for health ($22.8 billion) or education ($21.5 billion) in 2019-20”.

Along with its Kill Bill campaign and ScoMo’s nervous tic of naming Bill Shorten twice at least in every sentence, the Coalition attacks Labor’s electric vehicle target of 50% of all new car sales by 2030; a government fleet target of 50% by 2025 and 20% tax deductions for businesses purchasing electric vehicles (EVs) with witty retro word-play; Bill’s Car-Bon tax. Suddenly we’re back in 2013 with the Mad Monk Abbott.

Meanwhile, astonishingly, our accidental PM morphs into a clear communicator, admired for his consultative style by key stakeholders in an explosion of spin from his turd polishing unit which even has a piece on The BBC News website. Yet Scott Morrison cannot, so far, voice a single reason for toppling Turnbull. Instead he is photographed in business suit and RM Williams boots clod-hopping carrot fronds in Tasmania.

“What’s over there?”, he power-points, as all leaders must, on camera. “Carrots” says a minder. On a carrot farm? What will they think of next? Root vegetables deracinated, plant husbandry done, an honest tiller of the soil for a whole photo-op, hands dirty, ScoMo turns to ask reporters, “How shifty is Bill Shorten?” As he does.

ScoMo’s parody of John Cleese as Minister of Silly Walks may well win over a few Monty Python fans and those who warm to visual puns about carrot incentives and Easter Bunny (EB). But is it wise? EB’s role may be already taken by the lovely “Dutts” as Home Affairs’ Dutton is known to sycophants such as Hunt and Sukkar.

Peter Dutton is Labor’s Easter Bunny, their secret weapon, notes Paul Bongiorno in The Saturday Paper, who observes that Dutton’s abortive coup, (his numbers’ man Mathias Cormann botched the arithmetic), is a living reminder of the dysfunction and deep division that is today’s post-modern conservative Liberal Party. And a reminder of Morrison’s curiously confected legitimacy, his party’s antidote to having Dutton elected leader.

Dutton is toxic in Victoria, Labor research finds. He may even be the most unpopular Liberal politician in living memory, a keenly-contested title. ScoMo’s campaign stump in Deakin with local MP, Michael Sukkar, a Dutton numbers man, is briefly diverted when a wag hack asks whether the odium Victoria reserves for Morrison has anything to do with Sukkar’s judgement that “Peter Dutton should have been the leader of the Liberal Party?”

Luckily the government has campaign strategists and consultants CT Group to lead them onward; upward. There’s a bit of static about gorgeous George Christensen’s neglect of electoral duties in Dawson, QLD. “The Member for Manila”, as wags dub him, love-struck George spent seventy days each year, visiting April Asuncion, his fiancée in The Philippines for the last four years.

“He’s a human being,” David Littleproud offers a conjugal defence but Dawson voters may argue he’s their MP, first. At least his long-distance romance keeps him off the streets; away from Reclaim Australia Rallies.

On the streets, a Liberal Party advertising truck tools around Canberra, a city Walter Burley Griffin designed for “a country of bold democrats”. “Labor will tax you to death” its slogan runs, a hoax which invokes rumours on Fake-book, (bogus Facebook pages) that Labor will re-introduce death duties.

The legend mimics Conservative negative advertising in the UK in 2010, by Crosby-Textor (now CT group) whose fear-mongering and dead cat on the table diversions failed to deliver a Tory majority in 2017 or avert Turnbull’s 2016 near-disaster.

Yet, as Lizard of Oz, Sir Lynton Crosby and former Australian Liberal Party Director, knighted for frightening UK folk to vote for their neoliberal oppressors, famously opines, “you can’t fatten a pig on market day”.

Or by weighing it. Sadly CT group has its own problems to contend with; Mohammed Saderuddin Syed, 44 the firm’s former chief financial officer has recently been charged with defrauding the company of $850,000.

The dead-cat slogan on the truck simply betrays Morrison’s mob’s desperation. Even those inside the Canberra bubble, a no-go-zone which bubble-dweller, ScoMo, invokes to dodge questions, know the Coalition’s on the run from voters wanting policy on environment, climate change, energy, – anything -even a budget passed by parliament. Josh Frydenberg’s recent dodgy estimates will never appease our high priests, the economists.

Above all, voters have had a gutful of government profligacy, waste and the game of mates. Fourteen out of a flurry of 70 appointments to boards, statutory bodies and tribunals, and diplomatic postings in the last few weeks are former Liberal or National MPs, party executives or advisers to Coalition ministers, according to Guardian Australia analysis. No-one suggests corruption, but the practice does politicise government bodies.

Corruption’s stench does, however, waft up from water rorting in the Murray-Darling Basin, while Adani’s last-minute fake approval stinks; its water management plan is not endorsed by CSIRO, despite Price’s pretence.

The Australia Institute reports that “Minister Price was reportedly threatened by members of her own Government to approve the groundwater plan or face public calls for her to be sacked. The internal lobbying reportedly included Ministers Canavan and Dutton demanding answers of their colleague last week. Adani Australia CEO Lucas Dow even flew to Canberra to push the case, having recently threatened to sue for damages if any restrictions were made to coal mining in Queensland.” 

Adani still faces a number of other tests before it gains final approval from the Queensland government but the way the “approval” is rushed through, on the cusp of caretaker mode, raises serious concerns about the Morrison government’s regard for due process. It may also provide grounds for approval to be rescinded.

No-one was ever bluffed by Hunt’s Direct Action boondoggle. Now renamed “The Climate Solutions Fund”, it’s re-set to squander a $2 billion top-up paying farmers to plant trees they would have planted anyway, amongst other rorts, such as refurbishing Vales Point coal-fired power station. The move puts Australia at odds with The World Bank, the US and Europe, all of whom opposed using climate funds to retrofit coal power stations.

“If you were committed to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement, which the Australian government says it is committed to, this is just lunacy,” says Sean Kidney, CEO of London-based Climate Bonds Initiative.

“No investors in the western world will accept any green bonds that incentivise anything like coal station retrofits. From an investor’s perspective, coal is a dead duck.”

Nothing to see here, is the Morrison dead Mallard’s response. Every truck, bus and Vespa motor-scooter in Canberra should bear the legend. Foremost is the erupting scandal of Murray-Darling Basin scheme water buy-backs. Minister for Agriculture and Water Rorts, Barnaby Joyce, fulminated against buy-backs, whilst overseeing at least three big deals; $200 million for giant corporate irrigators such as Webster farming.

The Menindee Water Savings Project will fundamentally change the lives and livelihoods of all of the people in the Lower Darling Valley report The Australia Institute’s MaryAnne Slattery and Rod Campbell, September 2018. The Australian government has paid one large agribusiness $80m in compensation. No other stakeholder has received any compensation, instead they have all been made more vulnerable.

Pressure mounts for an inquiry. By Saturday, however, it’s go-low ScoMo who accuses William Richard Shorten of “throwing mud around” during the election campaign. Our own Watergate scandal is upon us thanks to research compiled by The Australia Institute and some assiduous detective work by investigative journalist Michael West. Channel 10’s, The Project’s Hamish Macdonald re-runs the story, which first broke a year ago.

The issue has been “raised before and has been addressed” says Scott Morrison whose much-lauded (by his own spin unit) clear communication style becomes cloudier the more he says; the longer his sentences extend.

“I understand the Senate inquired into the matter and sought production of documents from the government, regarding those transactions, which the government has provided,” he bull-shits before reaching for the buzz-words. “So, that strikes me there is a high level of transparency.”  Expect more posturing and protestation but Labor has asked for an explanation by Monday 22 April. It’s a scandal unlikely to help Morrison’s campaign.

Nor is the Coalition’s war on climate change abatement. It is “malicious and stupid” snorts William Richard Shorten; as a reporter twits him about the cost of Labor’s carbon reduction policy on Thursday in Darwin, now another China One Belt One Road, port thanks to a Coalition financial management and security masterstroke.

In 2015, Adam Giles’ NT government leased the port for ninety years to Chinese-owned Landridge group for a mere $506 million. Andrew Robb, Former Trade Minister, who later became a star Landridge recruit, at $880,000 PA, promoted the lease and purchase of a controlling interest in port operations. It was a “powerful sign” of a commercial relationship through a free trade deal of his. Later he resigned from the firm when it did not seem to have much work from him to do. No suggestion is made that Robb acted with impropriety.

The deal did, however earned a protest from then US President Barack Obama who said he would at least have liked some prior notice. He should be so lucky. Even federal cabinet was not aware of the deal until hours before then-chief minister Adam Giles announced it publicly in November 2015. The $506 million is long spent.

Undeterred, News Corp hacks and flacks cackle gleefully at the prospect of beating up another great big new tax on everything fear campaign, praying that it’s 2013 all over again. As Darwin’s sale shows, only the Coalition, a party whose MPs have financial management in their DNA, according to fiscal wizard Tony Abbott can be trusted to propitiate our gods of the economy, free trade deals and security.

The Australian’s, Chris Mitchell, a flack with the Morrison incumbency’s propaganda arm, savages opponents of the Adani Carmichael Mine with environmental concerns. First, it is nowhere near the reef. The Galilee Basin is inland in sparsely settled, dry pastoral country. Adani’s coal will have to be railed 300km to the Abbott Point coal loader, which already services coal exporters from Bowen Basin fields 200km closer to the coast.

That settles that, then. Or does it? For James Bradley, in The Monthly, opening one more coalmine while allowing emissions to continue on their current path it is like locking our children in a burning house.

“Ecosystems around the world will collapse, wiping out most species of animals. Acidification and anoxia will devastate the oceans. Rising sea levels will destroy coastal areas, while heat and famine and cascading climate disasters will kill hundreds of millions. These are not outside possibilities. They are the inescapable and near-term outcomes of failing to reduce emissions. In the face of this reality, opening new coalmines is like locking our children in a burning house and throwing away the key.”

Divided, delusional and drowning in a Watergate scandal of its own making, the Morrison government is held by some news outfits to have “won” the first week of the campaign.

It’s a dubious claim that ignores vital evidence that voters see through the scaremongering, the nonsense about the prohibitive cost of acting responsibly on climate change – not to mention ScoMo’s Canberra bubble, his cone of silence, which is just Morrison’s update on refusing to speak on “on water” matters – a practice he began as Minister for Immigration and, later, Border Force, now a part of Dutton’s struggling super-ministry.

The phrase “on water matters” is particularly apt again now that a scandal is brewing around the rorting of water from the Murray-Darling Basin scheme that could help cause a Coalition election washout.

================

Seven flaws in the NEG from Environment Victoria

 

  1. It is worse than doing nothing for our renewable energy industry.
  2. It may give polluting coal generators an incentive to keep polluting for longer.
  3. It is inconsistent with our Paris climate agreement commitments or stronger targets necessary to limit global warming to 1.5 to 2°.
  4. It concentrates market power with the ‘Big Three’ energy retailers (leading to higher electricity bills for consumers).
  5. A major loophole – international offsets instead of domestic action.
  6. It undermines state renewable energy and greenhouse pollution reduction targets.
  7. It ignores the advice of the Chief Scientist and is a thought bubble with no economic modelling.

==================

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Coalition campaign launch a real shocker.

“Their end game is simply winning at all costs, even at the expense of decency, compassion, and principle”.

Former Liberal leader, Dr John Hewson, Professor at ANU’s Crawford School of Public Policy, on Coalition tactics.

Pledging “a fair go for those who have a go”, a triumph of self-righteous humbug; a vow to pull an aspirational nation up but only by its own bootstraps, and homage to upwardly mobile “Helloworld” lobbyist Joe Hockey’s fabulous lifters and leaners in one, cloth-eared, slogan, the Morrison government doesn’t even give itself a chance in this week’s spectacular self-abortive surprise launch of its five-week federal election campaign show, Thursday.

A bit of sniping from Point Piper doesn’t help. Mal Turnbull gives ScoMo a bollocking over Dutton’s random act of kindness in organising a special citizenship ceremony for the family of billionaire Huang Xiangmo, one of the Coalition’s keenest patrons. Dutton needs to pulled into line. It’s something Turnbull never could manage.

Although Huang was not granted citizenship, himself, given some Chinese whispers from ASIO spooks over the glad-handed tycoon’s links to China’s Communist Party, Turnbull tells Morrison to hold Dutton to account. Malcolm says he knows what it is to be Prime Minister and where the buck stops. He’s forgotten his own capture by the right wing and his secret undertaking to the Nationals to continue key Abbott policies.

But time wounds all heels. A joint investigation by Four Corners, The Age and SMH shows Dutton granting then-Labor senator Sam Dastyari approval to hold a ceremony for the family of Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo, reports the ABC.  Turnbull is “concerned and troubled” by the story; the Prime Minister should take it seriously.

“(Dutton) is supposed to be the minister responsible for the domestic security of Australia, he is supposed to be the minister responsible for ensuring our politics is not influenced by foreign actors,” Turnbull nags, helpfully.

“Scott Morrison is the Prime Minister and you can’t wave this off and say that it is all part of gossip and of the bubble — this is the national security of Australia,” Turnbull wags his finger. The former PM, until ScoMo deposed him, draws a parallel with Sam Dastyari, who resigned over similar issues, in a “furore”. (Created by the Coalition.)

There’s also a bit of bother brewing in the deep north where a mob of mostly Queensland fossil-fools succumb to Adani madness, an affliction chronicled brilliantly by James Bradley in The Monthly. Those afflicted include Barnaby fanboy, Matt Canavan and “crazy as a jaybird” James McGrath who threatens to quit or get work experience environment minister, former Minerals Council of Australia shill, Melissa Price to resign.

What they want is Adani to be approved. It means a lot to their career prospects in a few QLD NLP electorates where climate change isn’t happening and where the lies that Adani will create thousands of jobs are believed. Canavan gets all fired up. Steams in to shirt front ScoMo, Thursday 11 April. It’s Adani approval or else.

Later he denies threatening to resign or that anyone is bullying Melissa Price to comply or resign – yet some letters are leaked, according to Barrie Cassidy on ABC Insiders, Sunday, which suggest that bullying may well have occurred.

Liberal senator, James McGrath is both a “fruit loop” and a “Tea Party extremist” to canny Doug Cameron, and a former Boris Johnson boffin. Jim, who also brags he got the scalps of Abbott and Turnbull – or at least helped in their political downfall, now threatens Price. She should resign. Unless she complies with his demand and approves Adani’s groundwater plan, the last hurdle before Queensland gives the final OK.

It’s an edifying glimpse into Coalition democracy at work and it quite puts the lie to any rumours of bullying. But who is former assistant minister, James McGrath, that he should wield such power? His 2013 entrance into the senate gives a fair clue.

Junkee’s James Colley makes a fair analogy. If Clive Palmer, as the Tele suggested, came in like a wrecking ball, then James McGrath came in like a strange man who wasn’t quite finished shouting on the bus.”

McGrath’s maiden maunder is timely in the wake of Christchurch and as a clue to ScoMo’s woes. Early in his maiden speech, McGrath says,

“The ‘Hundred Years War against Tyranny’ continues today on three fronts: first of all Islamist fundamentalism intent on caliphates destroying Western civilisation, especially religious freedom; secondly, democratic governments restricting freedom of speech and association, betraying hundreds of years of liberty; and, finally, leftists delegitimising all views other than their own, especially in media and education.”

Typically, at such times of conflict, or brewing scandal, a Liberal PM could count on a hand from The Oz. Look over there! Bingo! Here’s a bit of rabid Labor-bashing.

Labor plans “to destroy the two core foundations of not just a modern economy but modernity itself and indeed civilisation” rants Liberal hack, Terry McCrann in Murdoch family rag The Australian, after bagging Shorten’s suits.

“I actually think this is my favourite Terry McCrann column ever,” tweets Labor Treasury spokesman Chris Bowen.

Labor leader, William Richard Shorten replies: “I don’t remember putting this in our Fair Go Action Plan.”

Your campaign launch and your leadership is in trouble when your opponents point and laugh at your propaganda organs. Or when the Oz publishes Matt Canavan’s tweeted selfie as he bites into an onion at the Brisbane markets, Sunday, messaging “not as bad as I thought”, a cunning plug for Abbott’s return, or faint praise for ScoMo’s pitch. By eerie coincidence, sacks of brown onions mysteriously pop up in Warringah as if in silent vigil to Abbott’s fall.

But the Coalition runs off the road with its scare campaign. Labor’s target of 50% of new vehicle sales being electric vehicles is soviet-style economics. It’s Pink Batts all over again (in reality, a successful programme trashed by Abbott and a compliant media). Worse, it’s the end of the weekend – (unlike the abolition of penalty rates).

Unfazed, Labor socialists even plan to inject tens of millions into the production of electric vehicles; revive Australia’s moribund manufacturing industry. Instead of coal-fired power? Whatever will they stoop to next?

Electric vehicles can’t tow a caravan? (Nonsense retorts Toyota, we have powerful electric utes in production.) A farrago of lies and ignorance simply invites derision – and an industry rebuke. Wheeling in Michaelia Cash, without her whiteboard but with all her illegal AWU baggage, however, takes the Coalition campaign beyond peak stupidity and into mind-blowing, lunatic absurdity.

50% of tradies will lose their utes under Bill Shorten”, she rages.

How many? Only 50% of NEW car sales will be an electric target by 2030. Unless tradies trade-in their utes every year, it will affect less than half of them. Then there’s good news, electric utes and SUVs will soon hit the markets.

As The Blot Report, reports, “One of the current ute models developed in the US, the Rivian R1T, is expected to be on sale 2020… in three different versions, 105kWh, 135kWh and 180kWh, which will deliver a range of between 370 km and 650 km. Its payload is only 800 kg, it can tow 5 tonnes. Tesla also has an electric ute in production.”

“We are going to stand by our tradies and we are going to save their utes,” shrieks the Small Business Monster.

Yet Labor’s Great Ute Grab Scare of 2019 is abandoned, suddenly, when experts point out a range of fundamental flaws in Ms Cash’s case. This includes evidence that Josh Frydenberg, himself, was spruiking their virtues in January 2018. Where? You guessed it. The Australian, the one stop drop for every aspiring Coalition politician.

Since then, Josh has rocketed from Energy punching-bag to cadet-Treasurer despite lashing out at dinosaur colleagues, still behind the energy wheel. Josh even advocates electric car subsidies, predicting that “the critics will be the ones driving the vehicles in the next decade as part of a revolution taking place in the transport sector.”

We all expect ScoMo to go hard and go low but the fair go is first casualty of the campaign. Coalition rottweiler and Liberal leadership rival, Peter Dutton, slips his leash; attacking the honesty and integrity of Ali France, Labor candidate for his marginal seat of Dickson in Brisbane’s aspiring outer northern suburbs, accusing her of using her disability as “an excuse” not to live in her electoratecausing the nation of the fair go to rightly cry foul.

Dutton digs in. “Voters are angry,” he tells Coalition propaganda unit and minder, The Australian. “A lot of people have raised this with me.” It’s the “people say” fallacy, a common evasion of responsibility and the rules of valid argument. It’s preferred by Donald Trump, a figure hugely admired by our PM, PHON and other local politicians.

Matthias Cormann, Dutton’s numbers klutz in last August’s Liberal leadership coup, rushes to defend his idol by implying that Dutton lacks all moral autonomy and must, therefore, publicly repeat others’ defamation.

“Well, Peter Dutton was expressing views which were put to him by his constituents who had expressed those concerns,” Cormann tells the press. “There are people with a disability [who] live across Dickson and people in his electorate have put [it] to him, … that they don’t accept the explanation that was offered, as a reason for his opponent not moving into the seat of Dickson.”

Relaying malicious hearsay with intent to impugn, defame or gain unfair advantage is unlikely to impress his opponent, or her party, or local voters, or our judiciary.

Nor did MPs echoing opinion impress conservative icon Edmund Burke in 1774. “Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.”

Morrison defends Dutton’s diatribe, which, he says, he hasn’t seen, despite Dutts rubbishing his own PM’s public views. Then, class act, ScoMo implies France is lying. “When Labor tell lies in this campaign, we’ll call them out.” Centrelink reversed the onus of proof for its clients; now you even have to prove your false leg is true.

Yet, ScoMo thunders “We have to establish a culture of respect for people living with disabilities and the families who support, love and care for them.” He proclaims a royal commission into abuse of disabled Australians. But his support for Dutton – and his snide insinuation that Ali France is a liar – makes him part of that abuse.

There’s not a wheel-chair accessible home for rent in Dickson, explains France. She’s forced to live six kilometres outside the upwardly mobile electorate. Dutton later tweets a delayed apology. By then, however, he’s torpedoed the campaign mainstay, the ritual ridicule, when Liberals finds black holes in Labor’s costings. Jeering, and finger wagging are cut short, however as Dutts fronts up with an apology – sort of.

Is it something Kristina Keneally says that triggers Dutts’ remorse?  Saturday, The Labor senator says she is “gobsmacked” that Morrison has not called upon Dutton to apologise. Is he afraid of Mr Dutton?” she asks.

“You cannot stand in the [Prime Minister’s] courtyard and shed a tear for people with a disability and then the very next week turn a blind eye to a low, despicable attack by Peter Dutton against Ali France,” Keneally protests.

She calls Dutton, “mean and despicable”, a “thug”, and the “most toxic man in the Liberal party”. To borrow a Duttonism, “many will view” Keneally’s counter-attack as showing admirable restraint and discernment but it’s a brave call nonetheless – especially given that “many will view” others in the Liberal Party as rival contenders.

It’s a public service. Open-minded voters can apply Keneally’s razor to assess any candidate’s despicable thuggery.

Or relative toxicity. ScoMo’s launch blows up in his face, upstaging the Liberals’ asinine slogan with their signature, baroque incompetence, policy nonsense, shonky costings and internecine division.  A toey, Tony Abbott, in “diabolical trouble” according to senior Liberals, with party polling a twelve percent swing against him, goes solo.

Abbott tells a hundred electors in a Sky News Pub Test at the Harbord Beach Hotel in the beach-side suburb of Freshwater, a local watering-hole in well-heeled Warringah, that immigration is the big issue of the campaign.

“Oh fuck off! You’re a migrant, Tony”, a woman in the audience reminds her local member, forgoing the temptation to go low. Call the budgie-smuggler out for being a ten pound Pom? They’re all class in Warringah.

But is there unseemly haste in Morrison’s surprise election call? Is he desperate to get into caretaker mode before any further questions can be asked in Senate estimates about how it could approve Adani’s Carmichael mine 2.0, now a pared-down mini-mega mine, a mere 27.5 million tonnes output P.A. instead of the 60 million in its permit?

“We were framed”, imply CSIRO and Geoscience Australia who step back from the Coalition’s assertion that the agency has given the green light to Adani’s new, improved groundwater plan. There is no new plan. The CSIRO merely answered a narrow set of questions on some aspects of Adani’s water management plans.

CSIRO categorically did not give the whole project its approval, reports The Saturday Paper’s Karen Middleton. Worse, it did not see Adani’s revised plans until two days after it had answered the department’s few questions.

Yet the senate was due to question CSIRO executives Thursday night and officials of the department the following morning. Suddenly Scott Morrison breaks with tradition to pay a 7:00am to the Governor-General. By 8:29 am, half an hour before Senate Estimates Committee is due to begin he is able to prorogue the parliament.

Murdoch family newspapers already have the news the night before, given a scoop that appeals to Morrison’s twisted sense of giving the media a fair go. It’s a way of punishing those scribblers who criticise policy. It also undermines democracy, claims AFR’s Aaron Patrick, because it polarises media further; removing grounds for a policy debate in the centre. “Moderate voices are lost in a tribal war between conservatives and liberals.”

Patrick defines postmodern conservatism. So, too in a symbolic way does Morrison’s trip to the GG. ScoMo’s driver backs out the 3.6 tonne Prime Ministerial Limousine. The ScoMobile is one of a fleet of nine armoured, bullet-proof BMWs, ($500,000 plus per car) like ScoMo himself, an Abbott indulgence or fit of paranoid megalomania.

Top Ocker Morrison, Fair Dinkum Bloke, Pride of Sutherland Shire, is on his early morning secret mission to the residence of His Excellency General the Honourable Sir Peter John Cosgrove, Principal Knight and Chancellor of the Order of Australia, Military Cross, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia; Pete’s pad at Yarralumla.

Yarralumla means echo, a perfect fit for ScoMo’s Canberra bubble. The federal election is at last proclaimed for 18 May. It will be an Adani of an election, Adani is the coal warriors’ totem in our postmodern war between those determined to act to heed the realities of climate change and those who would retreat into the denialism of coal.

Adani is one a dozen key carbon bombs, identified a decade ago which will spew out enough carbon dioxide to make a safe environment impossible. Should emissions continue, writes James Bradley in The Monthly, they will cause four degrees or more of warming well before the end of the century. ”

“Ecosystems around the world will collapse, wiping out most species of animals. Acidification and anoxia will devastate the oceans. Rising sea levels will destroy coastal areas, while heat and famine and cascading climate disasters will kill hundreds of millions. These are not outside possibilities. They are the inescapable and near-term outcomes of failing to reduce emissions.

In the face of this reality, opening new coalmines is like locking our children in a burning house and throwing away the key.”  Yet all our PM has to offer is a vacuous slogan about a fair go. He is gelignite putty in the coal lobby’s hands.

“I believe in a fair go for those who have a go,” Morrison proclaims outside his office Thursday morning. “And what that means is part of the promise that we all keep as Australians is that we make a contribution and don’t seek to take one.” Has he even begun to think about those who can’t “have a go”? His slogan is pernicious twaddle, a form of words which will lead to denying those of us in need as undeserving.

Borat impressionist, bingo-caller and a dab hand with a curry, our PM is a man of few parts and no interior or life of the mind but having worked for the Property Council early in his career he knows all about housing. In fact, there’s not much anyone can tell him.

Expect more nonsense about Labor’s grandfathered capital gearing causing property prices to plummet. There’ll be no admission of how over nearly six years’ flat wages growth has eroded each household’s standard of living.

The Morrison omnishambles even makes a hash of its formulaic set-piece, blowing their fake black hole deception by roping in an aggrieved Treasury. Having a flashback? John Fraser, who did little in Treasury except expunge all reference to climate change and take the department back to the (John) Stone age, was similarly put upon.

Bernard Keane reports “Treasury was regularly used to cost bastardised versions of Labor policies that were then dropped to News Corp stenographers as sensationalist “Labor $10 billion hole exposed” fictions.

Plus ça change …  In June, 2018, Fraser made clear that Treasury wasn’t costing Labor’s policies, but what was fed them by Morrison’s office. Perhaps he was underwhelmed when ScoMo publicly snubbed Treasury on negative gearing, insisting he, personally, knew more about the experts on housing. We are at the mercy of ScoMo’s “own experience and understanding”, his faith, or his chutzpah or even just the vibe that guides every dud captain’s call.

Treasury Liberal Phil Gaetjens, a former chief of staff to Costello and Morrison, himself, who also has a seat on the Reserve Bank Board, says that Treasury wasn’t costing Opposition promises. It was just given sets of figures to add up. In other words, like the Minister for the Environment, he’s been conned. Or he’s conning us.

In brief, the new black hole is nonsense but as it quickly hardens – as it surely will- into campaign false narrative, by endless media repetition, it is vital to challenge. Labor’s taxes will never cost  $387 bn; try $157 bn – that is, if you can set much credence on projected expenditure over ten to twelve years – an almost meaningless exercise.

The coalition’s election campaign is all over the auction – rather like Morrison’s dysfunctional government itself. The fair go slogan has been ruptured on the reality of Dutton’s cruelty to Ali France, aided and abetted by Scott Morrison himself who has not even tweeted an apology for calling her a liar.

The centrepiece of the black hole in Labor’s costings has been eclipsed by revelations from Treasury that the government has lied about its new figures being based on Treasury costings. The true figure is closer to $157 bn dollars over ten years, despite what the Coalition may try to tell you.

Above all, the Coalition is divided and under fire from two former PMs, each with their own agendas. What adds some semblance of coherence, finally, is based a series of lies. Adani has not received CSIRO approval for its water treatment plans. Nor will they be soon forthcoming. The Queensland government will need to see far more detail and evidence of practicality before it can even contemplate the process of final approval.

“This advice was limited to answering discrete inquiries on whether elements of Adani’s proposed plans would be adequate to protect nationally significant environmental assets,” says CSIRO’s executive director for environment, energy and water, Dr Peter Mayfield. Adani’s dreadful environmental record internationally  offers little hope of this.

“In that advice, CSIRO had found a number of problems with Adani’s proposed groundwater plans and recommended changes. The environment department, which has the role of regulator, summarised and conveyed those concerns to Adani, which then undertook to make adjustments.”

So far, the department, with its bullied, inexperience Minister, Melissa Price inspires little confidence.

What is certain, however, is that before too soon, electric cars could be produced in Australia and before that the import of electric cars, buses, trucks and utes will bring us cleaner, quieter, cheaper transports of delight. Not only are both parties’ plans almost identical on electric vehicles, it will take more than a catastrophic coalition election campaign to impede their uptake. Yet the launch is a moral and ethical disaster.

Above all, Dutton’s attack on the integrity and honesty of Ali France reveals the vacuity of ScoMo’s fair go slogan and his Prime Minister’s failure to censure him an indictment of his leadership. To accuse a disabled woman of lying about her disability, moreover, plumbs new depths of cruelty and inhumanity.

There is no undoing the hurt, but Morrison and Dutton could start by making genuine apologies. The fair go nation will expect no less.

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