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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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The phoney war has started. Expect a savage campaign to follow.

The phoney war has started. Josh Frydenberg’s budget speech, Tuesday, is a fraud. It’s more a campaign launch than a real budget. Yet when Barrie Cassidy, on ABC Insiders, Sunday, asks the Treasurer to confirm Laura Tingle’s tip-off that the government is spending $600,000 per day on advertising, Frydenberg demurs.

“The process is transparent” is the best he can manage. “So transparent”, Barrie persists, “that you can’t tell me.”  Exposed is the essence of Coalition accountability.

And why the delay? A government which dips into the nation’s housekeeping kitty to conserve its campaign war-chest will alienate voters before the official launch. Dud judgement and poor politics dog Morrison’s every move. Frydenberg is challenged to defend the Morrison government’s spending $185 million to open Christmas Island. And close it again. “It’s a deterrent” is the best the Treasurer can manage. “It prevents refugees gaming the system.”

Gaming the system? Seriously? You have to flee your homeland. You spend thousands to risk your life on an unseaworthy boat to travel to Australia knowing that you will be caught by Border Force; put on Nauru or Manus. Then you fake an illness serious enough to get yourself transferred to a soon to be closed Christmas Island?

The explanation has as much plausibility as Frydenberg’s promises and projections pretending to be a budget.

“Back in black”, Josh Frydenberg’s budget fantasia is a pack of lies.  In part it’s a specious hymn to thrift, self-reliance and the God-given right of the rich to be selfish. Pay less tax. Our everyday heroes, the story goes, are those who can stand on their own two feet. They have a go. Hence they merit the lion’s share of “tax relief”.

Wealthy people will pay less tax, because the government is “incentivising and rewarding hard work”. The uplifting narrative is marred only by the nagging afterthought that some voters see the poor as deserving. Hardworking. “Incentivised”, whatever that is. Flat taxes, in fact, continue the war on the poor. The problem is fixed a day later by promising unemployed workers and pensioners seventy dollars, a “one-off” energy supplement; a handout Genius.

“We are delivering a surplus. In 2019-20, the surplus is $7.1 billion. Over the forward estimates, surpluses will be $45bn.” The Treasurer lies to The National Press Club in Canberra this week. How does he get away with it?

Delivering? Try projecting. ScoMo lacks the bottle to deliver a budget; risk putting his rubbery figures to a vote in parliament. Everyone knows you can’t trust Bill Shorten. Shorten obliges by outwitting the government on its tax cuts in his well-pitched budget reply speech which invokes hope, promises fairness and a big boost to Medicare.

“Do you want the best health care system in the world? Or the biggest tax loopholes? Do you want your children to get a world’s best education? Or the world’s most generous tax subsidies? Do we want a fairer, more equal country where the economy works in the interests of everyone? Or do we want another three years of drift, with the top end of town profiting much better than everybody else?”

Labor cleverly frames the election as a contest about fairness. It’s quick to repudiate the radical flattening of the tax system proposed by the Coalition, which would slash $95bn from public revenues in five years, while enriching covetous, upper-income earners in inner-city electorates, according to National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling (NATSEM) analysis.

Research by The Australia Institute, reports Max Grudnoff, shows that when the tax rates are flattened in 2024-25, a third of the benefit of these tax cuts will go to the top ten percent of taxpayers and more than half go to the top twenty percent. By comparison those on the bottom twenty percent only get three percent of the tax cut.

Lies? Everyone knows budget projections are bodgie. The last decade’s budget projections were out by $12.76 bn on average; half the budget balance. Alan Kohler notes, “The 2019-20 fiscal balance could end up being anything. We’ll find out in 18 months, and the only thing we definitely know is it won’t be a surplus of $7.1bn.”

But Frydenberg’s on a roll. He gives out racy photos of himself in tennis rig back in 1984 when he had a mullet and Labor was in the black. Laugh? It’s another hilarious dig at Bill’s apostasy over surpluses if not the neoliberal faith itself. Just another reason not to trust Bill Shorten. The stunt confirms Frydenberg’s narcissism to anyone in doubt. Number one funster, ScoMo, just about wets himself. Calls Frydo “The Member for Mullet”. What a crack-up.

Poster-boy for post-modern conservatism, Josh and his mob love their hyper-partisan avatars and emotions far more than truth and reason. As the Coalition climate change debacle shows, what matters is their version of reality – not what experts say is happening, contend Deakin University’s Geoff Boucher and Matthew Sharpe in their prophetic 2008 work, The Times Will Suit Them. Postmodern conservatives turn our culture into a war zone.

What is unlikely to happen is whopping growth say NATSEM. “The budget predicts an average growth in revenue of 6.2% over the next four years. To put this into historical perspective; that is almost double the average revenue growth experienced by the Labour governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and the Abbott government.”

Our record is fabulous. Frydenberg insists.” Growth is higher. Unemployment is lower … fewer people on welfare. There are a record number of Australians with a job. School and hospital funding are at record levels. And the budget is stronger.”  It’s all spin and cherry-picked puffery. A few examples will suffice to illustrate.

Growth? Annual GDP growth was 2.34 per cent for 2018. This ranks 112th out of 183 countries in the world, and 19th out of the 36 OECD members; Australia’s lowest rankings ever, reports Alan Austin

Unemployment lower? 664,000 workers are unemployed. Over one million are underemployed.

Record jobs? Since the Coalition came to office, TAI chief economist, Richard Denniss points out, population growth of 1.7 million people (over 15 years old) during the same period “created” those jobs.

Lack of evidence does not stop Frydenberg’s spruiking. Again we hear the Coalition’s favourite fantasy about wages rising in a flood of prosperity that will bucket down as rich bosses get buckets of money to tip all over the poor.

Trickle-down trickster, pin-up for narcissistic personality disorder ScoMo, provides Dooh-wah-diddy gospel fusion backup. Belts out one hell of a hallelujah chorus for those who stand on their own two feet. Having a go. Unlike the rest of the nation’s wage slaves, or the multitude trapped in welfare and pension penury.

Even Peter Van Onselen is disgusted with the Coalition’s budget hoax. He provides an acid critique.

“It crows about a surplus it hasn’t actually achieved yet. The forecast surplus for next financial year is built on the back of better-than-expected commodity prices and less spending than was anticipated on the National Disability Insurance Scheme, while the out year forecasts predict wages growth that won’t happen and economic growth numbers that certainly won’t be achieved. Throw in the dodgy numbers ­projected for the birth-rate and immigration flows, and clever accountancy is as responsible for the “return to surplus” as any claim to “strong economic management”.

Brazenly, the Coalition rolls out a massive pork barrel. An eye-watering $22 million is splashed out on the bijou Bundanon arts foundation, Arthur Boyd’s old joint, a sandstone prison for art, set on the lower NSW coast amidst 1100 hectares of bush-land, stolen from the Yuin nation, along with their fishing rights, near Nowra in the Shoalhaven region and smack dab within Gilmore, the Coalition’s most marginal seat.

Captain’s pick Warren Mundine, Gerard Henderson’s son-in-law, a former Labor Party President and newly re-birthed Liberal has been parachuted into the contest, much to the chagrin of Alby Schultz’ son, Grant, who will stand as an independent, narrowing Wokka’s chances, although he has emailed all electors with his manifesto,

“I’ve spent my entire life in regional Australia, helping to create jobs and build communities. I’ll fight for you and stand up for our region’s needs.”

Curiously in his autobiography, Warren Mundine, in Black and White, Wokka says he’s lived variously at Auburn, Cabramatta, Darling Point, Haberfield and Lidcombe. A spin on “regional Australia” worthy of a Frydenberg?

Soft corruption upstages the rubbery figures that fluff up the rest of the Budget 2019. Two billion dollars for a Very Fast Train is promised to the lucky punters in Corangamite where Liberal Sarah Henderson, the nice lady who used be on the 7:30 Report and who won a Walkley for her 1999 coverage of the Port Arthur massacre, faces a challenge from Labor’s Libby Coker, a former teacher, making her second bid.

The promise is too little, too late – not because the redrawn seat may shrink former News Corp lawyer Henderson’s estimated margin to 0.3% – but because the funding will not be available for two years and work may not begin until the mid 2020s.

Former Victorian Premier, Steve Bracks is adamant that $20bn is a fraction of what a VFT would cost but let’s not confuse spin with substance. Sadly the VFT memo doesn’t seem to have got through to all MPs on the Coalition team.

Alan Tudge insists the VFT could start in eighteen months but Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews shunts Tudge into a siding by noting that forward estimates allocate only $50 million. Geelong will be lucky to get a VFT feasibility study group.

Yet Budget 2019 is more than an outrageous assertions built upon false assumptions and shameless pork-barrelling. A surplus is not inherently good. It’s a failure to invest responsibly in the greater good. Our nation was built on deficit spending. Labor and Liberal. Menzies’ deficit spending in the 50s and 60s stimulated economic growth and built public assets.

Budget surpluses, moreover, increase private debt and are a bugger to run. Ultimately they are unsustainable. As Per Capita economist Warwick Smith reminds us, somebody’s surplus is always someone else’s deficit – and this includes the federal government.

At the end of last year, household debt was equivalent to 127% of GDP, or 189% of disposable income. Both ratios are near record highs and are very high on any global comparison, reports Michael Blythe.

Given that Australia’s private sector debt is at least 200.00% of GDP compared with government debt of around 30%, the Coalition needs to explain why they think we should increase the record level of debt we already hold in our homes and businesses.

Surplus fetishists pose as virtuous, responsible civic-minded money-managers. It’s a hoax. What does it mean to run a surplus? The budget papers say it requires ‘continued fiscal discipline’ a bit of self-congratulatory jargon.

What it should say is, “Our plan is to tax you eighteen to twenty billion dollars more than we need just to cover government spending,” as The Australia Institute’s Dave Richardson translates the budget’s econobabble.

“Fiscal discipline” is rich from a government which says it will blow five billion dollars just on getting re-elected. Or $185 million on its Christmas Island back-flip. Or is said by Laura Tingle to be now spending $600,000 a day on campaign advertising.

Back in black? This government’s never been in the black. Flattening the tax system, moreover, is not “highly progressive” as Frydenberg proposes, It’s regressive; a retreat from fairness. It abandons the principle that how much tax we pay depends on how much we can afford to pay. A flatter, simpler, tax system, as the government chants, is a recipe for creating a more unequal society with fewer hospitals, roads and schools.

The unvarnished, unspoken truth is that every tax cut means less government spending on health, education, aged care and all other services that Australians have every right to expect. Along with the right to fair dealing.

Abandoned also is good faith. Frydenberg fudges; adds last year’s tax cuts to this year’s pocketful of promises.

Few notice. We are Waiting for Godot as the forty-fifth federal parliament fizzles out and we begin the protracted, ritual theatre of the election of its successor. The process is a spectacular distraction. It includes incessant guessing when the PM will call on Her Majesty’s representative, Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, General, The Honourable, Sir Peter Cosgrove.

Pete was due to retire last month; make way for David Hurley, another old soldier, ScoMo’s captain’s pick, but will now be kept on and on for the election, which pundits predict could be called next weekend, with polling day either 18 or 25 May. Hurley’s appointment is keenly awaited, especially given his wife Linda’s revelation.

“I hula-hoop every morning and I like to read the Bible or a devotional book while I’m doing that.” Don’t we all?

Polling day, meanwhile, is rapidly morphing into polling days and weeks, a “Netflix effect” which taxes our politics and media’s capacity to get and keep our attention. The Australian Electoral Commission speculates that,

“… electors consider the inconvenience of ordinary voting at a polling place on the Saturday as an infringement on their time and are prepared to avail themselves of other voting opportunities that may be more convenient.”

It’s not just convenience. More than a third of Australian workers now work weekends. And workers are busier: at least two million Australians now work two jobs. Little wonder that in 2016, 4.5 million votes were cast prior to election day — a stark increase on the 26% (3.6 million) early votes in 2013’s general election. Postal votes also rose from 1.1 million in 2013 to 1.2 million in 2016. Then there’s convenience, The Netflix Effect, which means that political campaigns must not only gear up quickly to reach early voters, they must be “always on”.

“Politicians need to shift and understand that they need to sell to voters at every moment in the campaign, especially in the early days,” argues Marcus Phipps, lecturer in Marketing at the University of Melbourne.

So does media need to shift. Our mainstream media often resemble those hired actors who hold up placards flattering Trump at his mass rallies, an ancient tradition which includes such potentates as the wanton, profligate Nero, who paid groups to applaud his singing. Yet a few lynx-eyed independents such as ABC’s Laura Tingle scoff at the Morrison government’s vapid yet “spectacular pretension”; a budget is not a budget until enacted in law.

Dazzled by the sound and light of Frydenberg’s forecasts – for that is all his budget amounts to – most of our ABC struggles to keep up; its editorial independence crushed by budget cuts and relentless government bullying – reduced, after long abuse, to “a punching bag by narrow political, commercial or ideological interests”, as former Managing Director and Editor-in-Chief, Michelle Guthrie laments. Look over there! Frydenberg cries.

All miss his duplicity; how our P-plate treasurer inflates projected tax refunds by adding in cuts from Budget 2018.

Intrepid investigative news-hound, Michael West, alone, is on to Frydenberg’s fiddling. Low income earners, he writes, “really get a boost of $55, not $255, as $200 has already been legislated. The Treasurer’s trick is to inveigle the press into counting the tax cuts in last year’s Budget in their numbers for this year’s Budget, a ruse which inflates tax cuts for low income earners by a factor of five and medium income earners by a factor of two.”

Of course, it’s not a real budget until it passes parliament and Morrison’s government is not up to that. The budget is a bit of puffery, a campaign pitch about as real as Frydenberg’s guarantee of transparency around funding and election expenditure Sunday. Or the government’s chances of having to follow through on its pledges.

Bookies quote the ScoMo government a one in five or 20% chance of being returned. Labor, by contrast has, on average, an 80 percent chance of winning next month’s election.  Tony Abbott, on the other hand, looks set for a defeat if what Nine Newspapers’ Michael Koziol reports is “diabolical polling” proves an accurate indication of his vote. Abbott’s currently lagging independent challenger, Zali Steggal, by twelve percent.

There is no doubt overall, however, that the Netflix Effect, which extends voting in ways parties have yet to fully adapt to – if they ever can, combined with the weaponising, the ruthless pragmatism of campaign strategies by our hyper-partisan postmodern conservatives will make this election harder to call and more savagely contested.

The dirt unit deployed so successfully in the recent NSW election is already being mobilised for the Coalition.

The emergence of an organised, disciplined Labor Party with a platform which lures the Coalition on to Labor strengths, education, health and low income earners can only increase the government’s sense of desperation. The phoney war will soon go ballistic.

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One Nation shoots itself in the foot while our gun lobby takes aim at our democracy

“We’ve been importing all these Muslims into Australia. We have about 230,000 people coming in a year. Our population’s only 25 million… some really dangerous people. They’re just breaking into people’s homes with baseball bats and killing people. Basically stealing everything they own. Our country’s going into chaos.” Steven Dickson, One Nation QLD.

“Some really dangerous people” do show up last week, but not the people Dickson demonises as he makes his pitch to America’s National Rifle Association. The enemy is within. In an undercover sting, One Nation’s duplicity is exposed in utterly compromising footage of its attempt to woo the US gun lobby, even tap the billionaire Koch brothers, in a deluded bid to beg enough funds to buy a controlling share in our political system.

Cranking up Islamophobia, trashing Labor, betraying Australia, a well-oiled, trio of desperadoes, Queenslander Dickson, aspiring Senate candidate, Chief of Staff, James Ashby and leader Pauline Hanson, plot to relax our gun laws in return for a $20 million squirrel-grip on our democracy in How to Sell A Massacre, a two-part Al-Jazeera documentary, three years in the making, completed, in September last year, screened by the ABC this week.

Now, the party is campaigning to stop overseas political donations to organisations such as GetUp!, but consistency is one charge you could never level at One Nation nor its fickle Morrison government bed-mate.

In a boozy bull session, the boys are locked and loaded: a $10-20 million donation is a sure-fire way to win One Nation enough House of Reps and Senate seats to give it the balance of power. How? It’s a big picture thing. It fits mainstream media’s narrative: One Nation is back – even if it’s suffered a series of recent failures at the ballot box and in parliament and no matter that its proposals are mainly Trumpist, racist brain farts dressed up as policy.

Steve’s loyal side-kick Jim is played by James Ashby, a natural black ops conspirator whose creative skulduggery includes Hunt the Slipper, a botched plot to character-assassinate Peter Slipper, the black-robed former speaker of the house. Ashby even shirt-fronts Brian Burston after Pauline claims the former PHON senator hit on her in the Rooty Hill RSL. “Pauline’s been propositioning me for years”, replies Brian. A man’s not safe alone with his boss?

Each calls each other out on their alleged sexual harassment.  Brian dobs in his former boss to the AFP and plans to sue Hanson for defamation, when all she was doing, she says, was trying to support “Lucky” Jim Ashby for trying to report “the sexual abuse and harassment that was going on with the female staff” in Senator Burston’s office.

His Burston biffo gets James suspended from his workplace, but will Pauline choose Rooty Hill to die on? Happily, ABC Four Corners eagerly screens, the Al Jazeera doco, providing an edifying, if not show-stopping, diversion.

Gold Logies all round for Al Jazeera’s Rodger Muller and his RM Williams Akubra Cattleman hat, in How to Sell a Massacre, co-starring One Nation’s knights errant Steve Dickson and James Ashby’s quest for funding with the help of their friends in the National Rifle Association, an outfit which guides them, almost flawlessly, to the fabulous Koch brothers’ pad. You can take the boy out of Buderim but you can’t take the Buderim out of the boy.

Even in the grainy, groggy, button-hole camera scenes, Dicko is shooting his mouth off. As he did on Safe Schools,

“We are having little kids in grade four at school, young girls being taught by teachers how to masturbate, how to strap on dildos, how to do this sort of stuff — that is the real problem in this country,” One Nation Queensland Senate candidate, Steve Dickson claims of the Queensland Safe Schools program in 2017.

Later, Dicko apologises for using the word “dildo”. He has never retracted the allegation which is based, he maintains, on information provided him by a parent. Anastasia Palaszczuk, Queensland Premier was forced to intervene. Point out that safe schools is not even taught in the classroom but support to teachers and families.

Pauline’s very quick to defend her crack crew. Fake documentary, she cries. Cut and paste job. “I’ve been dubbed and spliced.” And entrapment. This is quickly taken up by Peter Greste (of all people) amongst others and is in danger of having the intended effect of distracting from Hanson’s party of patriots’ betrayal of her nation.

Al-Jazeera journalist Peter Charley tells Guardian Australia that while they had “pushed the boundaries”, his conscience is clear and the public interest in the material justifies the methods used.

Lawyer Michael Bradley argues in Crikey that Al Jazeera’s sting is not only legally watertight it is ethically responsible – if not a necessary and inspiring example of the need for journalists to keep politicians accountable; democracy transparent.

“Entrapment is a sexy word, moreover, he adds, but in Australia, it has no legal meaning. The police routinely run sting operations to catch criminals and, even if they acted illegally, that doesn’t give the accused a defence.”

How to Sell a Massacre is an indictment of One Nation and of US gun lobbyists. But it also reveals an arms industry with its sights on our politics. Above all, it reminds us that the Howard government’s National 1996 Firearms Agreement was a step away from the US path we were following, but a step too far for any state to sign it -yet.

Beneath the Howard idolatry lies the reality, Gun Control Australia points out in its 2017 state by state audit, is that after 21 years Australia’s gun laws are unravelling and “in trouble”.  But not fast enough for One Nation.

“We’re not even allowed to own guns in Australia for the self-protection of women”, wails Dickson, One Nation’s “Queensland leader” in a line straight out of the US National Rifle Association (NRA’s) playbook. Dickson’s a mine of nut-jobbery, but How to Sell a Massacre shows his own gun fetish has little to do with protecting women.

“They’re not even allowed to have mace.” Except in WA, Steve, although neo-fascist, “Final Solution”, Fraser Anning, hopes to fix that. One Nation’s one day wonder, whose nineteen personal votes meant he replaced crackpot Mal Roberts, Anning is now an independent. His role in parliament is to make One Nation look good.

Anning wants to expand the use of mace if he’s in politics long enough to live down his censure. Get elected. The former One Nation senator is quick to blame the victims in the Christchurch massacre in a cynical bid for publicity.

“As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views, but … the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place.”

Hanson will not take part in a bipartisan move to censure Fraser Anning when Parliament returns. “It won’t prove anything,” she says. Nor will her abstaining prove anything, either, but it will suggest sympathy for Anning’s views.

It’s all about the money. Dickson declares. “We want to get funding. That is really the nuts and bolts because we can change everything in this country. We can make that happen. This is the thing I want to get through your head: if we can get $10 million we could fucking win a heap of seats plus a shitload of seats in the Senate.”

Naturally, One Nation cries foul. It’s how you’re caught – not what you’re plotting that matters. “Entrapment” Hanson howls, a call AFR’s Michael Stutchbury duly, outrageously, repeats on ABC The Insiders, Sunday.

Stutch blusters; shakes his head over a doco being “made by a foreign company using foreign funds”. Like CBS? CBS owns Channel Ten, whose recent episode of The Project helped the foreign company expose Scott Morrison’s 2010 Islamophobic proposal; the shameless PM’s patently transparent excuses are no match for Waleed Aly.

Undeterred, ScoMo offers a bad parody of Nelson Mandela, morphs into Morrison the multiculturalist, forever dedicated to bringing Islamic and Anglo Australia together with his hug-a-Muslim, hug-each-other, all you need is hugs manifesto. Hug-me, ScoMo 2.0, possibly an unconscious homage to the Red Octopus, the National Party’s women’s code for Barnaby Joyce and fails its first real test when Kiwi PM, Jacinda Ardern visibly cringes, Friday.

Luckily, the Australian Financial Review and other MSM are there to support One Nation’s crusade.

“Al Jazeera.” Stutchbury insists. Channels his inner anti-Muslim. “Made with Qatari money. Foreign interference in our political system.” What is he saying? You can’t trust an Arab nation? Foreign interference in Australian politics has bedevilled us for decades. It could be foreign CEO, Rupert Murdoch’s, News Corp’s motto.

Yet Stutchbury’s ill-considered comment gives Pauline Hanson’s disclaimer a boost it doesn’t warrant.

“When I first saw the initial hit piece and Steve Dickson’s comments I was disgusted. But having watched my own comments knowing how out of context they were betrayed to the Australian people, I knew he was stitched up,” Hanson says happily settling on her perennial theme that an adoring mainstream media really have it in for her.

Hit piece? Let’s not get carried away. Too Trumpish. Your party was exposed, Pauline. Actions speak. Your boys were sprung betraying their nation – and to the reckless endangerment of the Australian people. The 1996 National Firearms agreement is not perfect, but it is, at least, credited with helping halt mass shootings.

Professor Simon Chapman‘s 2016 study shows 13 mass fatal shootings in 18 years were followed by 22 years with no such incidents, with the probability of this being a chance occurrence calculated at 1:200,000 against.

“I acknowledge Steve, made some inappropriate comments, however, let’s not forget, he was set up.”

This risibly feeble defence which skates over Dickson’s racism and treason may work with rusted-on supporters, where reason and evidence mean little to Hanson’s Trump-like cult following, but being set up didn’t dictate Dickson’s behaviour. Nor can you possibly dismiss his rants as “some inappropriate comments”.

Dickson salivates over guns on camera. He almost humps a pump-action shotgun on show. He waxes priapic over his plan to use up to $20 million to get the seats his party would need to hold the balance of power in parliament – although it’s not clear how. One Nation is but a shooting star in our nation’s political constellation.

Trumpista Hanson, who toadies to the NRA in an embarrassing segment where she fancies herself as a Trump groupie – reminiscing, in her cups, about her party’s champagne toast to Trump’s election and how it represents the power of “ornery people” also tries to argue that it’s fake news.

“Dubbed” and “spliced” she shrieks again; accusing highly reputable veteran journalist, Peter Charley and his Al Jazeera team of wasting three years creating a patently flawed mockumentary. Dream on, Pauline.

What is remarkable is the authenticity of How to Sell a Massacre; how it faithfully preserves Pauline’s own patois, her idiosyncratic syntax and vocabulary. The scene of the well-lubricated, One Nation leader, disputing that one gunman could not be responsible for the Port Arthur Massacre to which Martin Bryant confessed to shooting and killing thirty-five innocent people is compelling Cinéma vérité.

It is also a dangerous myth, however much it may appeal to La Hanson, doyenne of conspiracy theorists, ratbag nutjobs and abusive, misogynistic, men with a grudge against the family court and justice in general.

Within hours, Hanson is forced back into denial. She just didn’t say what the camera shows her saying, (clearly, in a way that appears to show no hint of editing) that Bryant was not alone. The theory is seductive to conspiracists on social media. It is called upon by gun lobbyists and right wing nut jobs to bolster the pernicious and enduring myth that Port Arthur was engineered to deprive Australians of their God-given right to bear arms.

“An MP said it would actually take a massacre in Tasmania to change the gun laws in Australia,” Hanson tells Al Jazeera’s, undercover man. “Those shots, they were precision shots. Check the number out … a lot of questions there.” They weren’t. Bryant missed every terrified being he shot, at apart from those he shot at point-blank range.

Pauline is equally ill-informed on her grounds for legal appeal. Lawyer and writer, Michael Bradley observes in Crikey that even in Queensland, (where much of the local scenes seems to be shot) it’s not illegal to secretly record a conversation to which you’re a party, and it’s OK to publish it – if doing so is in the public interest. Recordings made overseas don’t trigger any Australian laws, so they’re in the clear. Unlike One Nation.

The timing couldn’t be worse. As Damien Murphy notes, ten days after the Christchurch massacre in which homegrown white supremacist, Brenton Tarrant killed fifty Muslim worshippers and wounded fifty others with an AR- 15, his chief weapon, One Nation’s James Ashby and Steven Dickson appear on national television offering to help water down our laws restricting the same semi-automatic weapons, in return for $10-20 million in funding.

Peter Charley’s documentary reveals a lot more as our intrepid brothers in arms, Ashby and Dickson get into a bonding session with US National Rifle Association (NRA) personnel. We get the NRA playbook for (not) responding to a massacre. It’s a chilling reminder that this is a group no-one needs in their politics.

How should you respond to a deadly mass shooting if you are a gun rights advocate?

First, “Say nothing.” If media queries persist, go on the “offence, offence, offence”. Smear gun-control groups.

“Shame them” with statements such as – “How dare you stand on the graves of those children to put forward your political agenda?”

It’s clear that both Ashby and Dickson are already converts to the cult of gun violence. They lust over gun-shops and are wowed by tactical advice from NRA strategists – “you have to weaken gun laws one slice at a time.”

And it’s personal, Steve confesses that to hand in his guns after Port Arthur was “hell on earth” for him.

One Nation’s  former Campbell Newman government Minister, member for Buderim and rabid anti-Muslim fabulist, Steve Dickson defected from the LNP in September 2017, (entirely of his own accord, Pauline Hanson wants us to know), to become a big fish in a small pond; One Nation’s Queensland leader and a federal senate candidate in May. Given his cameo monologue where he waxes lyrical about his fantasy to be a drug-lord who’ll “shoot everything up and down the water, with a machine gun”, he may or may not have blown his chances.

Or blown up One Nation. Australia’s Muslim Threat is just one paranoid delusion traded by Dickson bigging up himself to the US National Rifle Association (NRA) captured, along with buckets of alcoholic braggadocio, on button-cam by Rodger Muller, in Al Jazeera’s documentary-sting, “How to Sell a Massacre”.

Jim and Steve get on the ‘ski, schmooze the NRA and plot to strong-arm our political system. Put a nine millimetre to the back of its neck. Visit Koch HQ. It’s boys’ own adventure-Walter Mitty type stuff – if it weren’t so dangerous. Not only are the pair prepared to trade our gun laws for their own gain, they are happy to subvert our democracy by being willing accomplices in the gun lobby’s plan to back minority parties as a means to infiltrate our politics.

This is already happening, of course, given Bob Katter’s son-in-law Robert Nioa’s vast arms empire which makes him Australia’s largest supplier of weapons and munitions to defence and civilian buyers.  Rob’s also supplying the New Zealand Police with 70,000 Glock pistols and providing their military with a handy grenade launcher. But he’s still a big police supplier, this side of the Tasman. Seventy per cent of Victoria Police’s ammo is bought from Rob.

Nioa got his big break from John Howard whose 1996 gun buy-back scheme helped the Queensland gun-dealer amass over $1 million, tax-free, which became his capital to invest in a market Howard had helped make less competitive; sending rivals out of business.

Labor alleged at the time Nioa’s stock was overvalued but did not pursue this.

$1.7 million was donated to Australian political parties from the gun lobby since 2011, just from publicly disclosed donations says The Australia Institute’s (TAI) research. Major beneficiaries of gun lobby donations include Katter’s Australian Party, with a tidy $800,000 – plus, and the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party, which received nearly $700,000.

It seemed to work for Katter, reports TAI. “At the last Queensland state election, Katter’s party increased its seats from two to three. The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party won three lower house seats in last weekend’s NSW election, up from one. The final count will determine if they increase their seats in the upper house, too.”

Major donors, apart from firearms supplier and manufacturer NIOA, include the Sporting Shooters Association of Australia and the Federation of Hunting Clubs.

Thanks, indirectly to Howard, our politics is now awash with gun money which funds campaign such as the recent “Not Happy Dan” campaign in Victoria and the 2017 Flick ‘Em campaign in Queensland. Neither has been hugely successful but they are insidious given that the gun lobby prefers to finance campaigns above parties or candidates. The tactic is straight from the NRA playbook. So too is the amount spent by the gun lobby.

The Australia Institute calculates that now the gun lobby in Australia spends as much per capita as the NRA.

Yet Australia does not need any gun money in its politics. Foreign funding is also likely to corrupt our democracy. It’s time we acted to remove the gun lobby from its unfettered access to MPs, parties and time we made it illegal for the merchants of death to invest in any political party. The Al Jazeera team should be commended on highlighting the issue as much as for their service in exposing One Nation’s dangerous delusions of grandeur.

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Hugs won’t fix your government’s Islamophobia, ScoMo.

If a lie is half-way around the world before the truth can get its boots on, what does it take for a Prime Minister to call out a falsehood eight years later? Our intrepid PM tries to set the record straight this week. Or is it a reboot? Many wonder aloud why he didn’t call out the lie earlier.

The alleged lie? In 2010, Morrison called on his party to make political capital out of popular anxieties over Muslim immigration, or so alleges, Lenore Taylor who bases her story on several reliable Liberal sources.

Yet not a peep from ScoMo. “Neither I, nor as far as I know, any of the journalists who did follow-up stories, received threats of defamation suits, nor even an angry phone call from Mr Morrison,” says Taylor to The Age’s Peter FitzSimons.

Is this the curious incident of the shaggy dog in the night-time? What’s clear is, in the wake of Christchurch, Morrison denies he ever suggested fanning anti-Muslim fears and bigotry at a shadow cabinet meeting late in 2010.

Some of his colleagues say they don’t recall. Greg Hunt says Morrison’s right but it turns out he wasn’t at the meeting. Luckily, after closing down a presser, ScoMo 2.0 comes up with another version of events entirely. Bugger plausible deniability.

Yeah. Nah. What ScoMo was doing was canvassing ways his party could protect our Muslims from local Islamophobia.

Not only that, ScoMo’s dedicated his entire parliamentary career to walking the talk; even taking young Muslims and “a whole bunch of others” from the Shire up the Kokoda track and in the track of the Sandakan Death March in Borneo in 2009 and 2011. Why, when he couldn’t go himself he was helping organise a trek.

But, in the end, he says, cheerily, his government’s made up of individuals. What can one poor Prime Minister do?

A leader can’t stop Peter (Dutton) lamenting “the mistake” of Lebanese migration; how so many second or third generation Lebanese-Muslim men are terrorists. Nor Gorgeous George Christensen, he’s LNP QLD, anyway or any other MP’s racist hate-speak as he equably explains to Waleed Aly on The Project, Thursday.

Dr Aly list a few examples to support his case that the Coalition may have an Islamophobic problem.

  • “George Christensen speaking at a Reclaim Australia rally, appearing on an alt-right podcast, speaking at a Q Society event where horrible things are said about multiple minorities.”
  • “Tony Abbott saying that; “Islamophobia never killed anybody,” when actually it already had – it’s not just that it was true at the time and it isn’t now, it wasn’t true at the time – and suggesting that when Muslim leaders condemn terrorism, they don’t really mean it.”
  • “Peter Dutton suggesting that Lebanese immigration in the 70s was a mistake or that mistakes were made around it. Talking about Mehreen Faruqi, who is a Muslim Senator, who is part of the Greens, being ‘as bad as Fraser Anning after the Christchurch attacks.”
  • “When you have … seven Coalition Senators shaking Fraser Anning’s hand after he gives the ‘final solution’ speech in Parliament.”
  • “And when you have reports in a newspaper like The Australian that it got to the point that the head of ASIO Duncan Lewis contacted members of the Liberal Party and of the Coalition, to warn them about the way they were talking about Islam.”

When I aggregate all that and – there are other examples I could give – when I aggregate all that, is there something that does need to be confronted within your own Party henceforth?, Aly concludes. 

Prime Ministers and Liberal Party Leaders do have power and responsibility, it is clear despite the current tendency for the PM to be told what to do on policy by his right wing. Scott Morrison regularly makes captain calls about candidates.

Former Labor member and Gerard Henderson’s son-in-law, Warren Mundine is even parachuted in to Gilmore leaving Alby Schultz’s son Grant spluttering. (Has the PM no respect for the practice of rural dynastic succession?)

The PM or his party is able to fast-forward the application process so that Mundine is virtually signed up on the spot. Schultz will now contend the seat as an independent; hardly an outcome likely to help Wokka’s prospects.

Most recently, ScoMo rings Stan Grant. Invites him round to Kirribilli House with its view of the harbour. (The Morrisons moved there from their Port Hacking home last September. All that reaching out to community must be so much harder, now.)

Asks him to nominate for Craig Laundy’s inner-western Sydney seat of Reid. The Liberal Party will put all its resources behind you, Stan, he promises. Grant is not a member of any political party let alone even a member of a declining Liberal Party.

Grant declines, he says, wisely, because he likes what he does now. And he values his independence. If only Senator Marise Payne’s excuse were so admirable. Asked if she could get some government Islamophobes to shut up, she uses the well-worn “things are too sensitive” at this moment evasion.

Christchurch, David Marr says, on ABC Insiders Sunday, might never have happened as far as Coalition anti-Muslim policy is concerned, Payne’s evasion is pitiful.

“I am not going to go into a series of adjudications on statements made by my colleagues or anyone else at this time. We are dealing with a very serious situation here,” Payne chips in this week to defend indulging Dutton .

It’s just like when ScoMo’s pal Dr Jamal Rifi, The Australian’s Australian of The Year 2015, rang him to see if he could do anything about the El Baf family’s four boys who’d gone off to join ISIS in Syria in 2014. Sadly, it was all too late, says Morrison. Muslim boys just sit at home all day waiting to be called up by an ISIS recruiter. (Nowhere in his appearance, Thursday, is any hint that the risk of alt-right White supremacists far outweighs any other terror).

Always impressively dressed these days, ScoMo opts for a charcoal blue suit on The Project, Ten’s dumbed-down current events show, a blokey, jokey middle-class fantasy world where grinning men in suits run everything with an easy-going superiority. The power suit and open-necked business shirt combo help him blend in while reminding us and his host he’s the Prime Minister. Above all, it implies he’s taking Islamophobia seriously (even if he won’t deal with it).

“G’day Waleed”. Using your host’s first name is a trick that goes back, at least, to Bob Hawke, The Great Ingratiator. See. It’s not really an interview after all. Just two good mates fixing up some personal stuff – as you do, whenever your Prime Minister calls you in to explain himself. Or put you right. On Kerry Stokes’ prime-time national television show.

ScoMo sits low in his Project set chair – a hint of Marcel Breuer’s “Wassily“, all steel rectangles and shallow bum-shelf. A leg crosses. He cocks one foot up on a beefy knee as if about to kick his Egyptian-Australian host. It’s ScoMo’s signature pose. A veneer of matey first names, slick grins and forced civility over bruiser body language.

Exposing a sole to your host is an offensive gesture in Egypt. ScoMo could politely inform viewers he’s on The Project to clear up a canard that he’s Islamophobic based on a leak from a shadow cabinet meeting in December 2010, where he’s accused of proposing a strategy to win votes by exploiting anti-Muslim anxieties in the community.

An “ugly and disgusting lie”, is what comes out of his mouth.

Passive-aggressive. Nursing injury, says his body language. The camera also magnifies his footwear, not the shonky two left-feet-K-Swiss trainers of “shoegate”, but solid, RM Williams ankle-boot jobs that could do you an injury. Boots that put the boot into “putting the boot in”, continue a menacing counterpoint to his puffery; his public self-praise.

These boots are made for walking. Morrison says he’s walked the Kokoda Trail with young Muslims and others. “Both parts of our communities.” In case any Morrison-watcher may have missed it, ScoMo’s been out doing the hard yards community building. “… it has been my work in Parliament to try and build these communities together, not apart.”

What a legend! Not only is Morrison up to rub out a lie, the old shape-shifter reinvents himself as a latter-day Nelson Mandela. A fair bit of air-brushing is required. It was George Brandis in August 2017 who upbraided Pauline Hanson for her burqa burlesque in the senate. ScoMo has never censured Dutton for branding Lebanese Muslims as terrorists.

And, even after Christchurch, the last thing ScoMo will commit to is putting One Nation last on how to vote tickets.

“Don’t prejudge me”, he threatens his host, Dr Waleed Aly, even though that’s impossible given we’ve seen so much of ScoMo’s work already. He’s well beyond prejudging, and it’s bizarre for him to act as if there were some way he could “reset” his political identity as The Guardian Australia‘s Katharine Murphy wryly points out.

Murphy cautions Morrison, “You are what you have been. You cannot outrun your record as a public figure, because you are still that public figure, and your identity is the sum of your record. So there aren’t any prejudgments.”

There’s hypocrisy. ScoMo’s been an avid pre-judger, especially, as we love to say nowadays, in the asylum-speaker “space”. Morrison’s record as political attack dog rivals junkyard Abbott’s; it’s well and truly out in the public domain.

As is his ambition. ScoMo’s vaulting ambition saw him leap-frog preselection rival Michael Towke, eight votes to eighty more popular, to win Cook in 2007. Towke was going well until a series of scurrilous attacks on his character appeared in The Daily Telegraph. The Libs rescinded his pre-selection. By-passing preselection, ScoMo was parachuted into candidacy and won the retiring Bruce Baird’s old seat, as he likes to remind us; the baton of greatness passing on.

Bruce Baird was also Morrison’s second boss in tourism as former transport minister in the Nick Greiner and John Fahey NSW Liberal governments (1989-2005). Morrison’s rise to political power is a tribute to his networking.

Scott’s got anti-Muslim form. He cut his political teeth as Liberal bovver-boy challenging the reckless benevolence of paying for the families of drowned asylum-seekers to come to Sydney to bury their dead. Morrison led the Abbott and others in The Opposition pack attack on a feckless Federal Government decision to fly 22 asylum seekers to Sydney for the funerals of eight people, including two babies, who died in the Christmas Island shipwreck, December 15, 2010.

Excessive benevolence? The $300,000 total cost of airfares amounted to a cost to each of us just two cents apiece.

Faced with some opposition from his own party which included Joe Hockey, his mentor Bruce Baird, Russell Broadbent and others, Morrison later withdrew his objections and issued a sort of an apology, professing that he was insensitive to question the cost. Poor timing, he added. Nationals’ Fiona Nash still couldn’t see the point given that Australians don’t get government help attending a funeral forgetting that the Disaster Assist Fund does pay up to $10,000.

After a wobbly start in Social Services culminating in his brilliant “wait for the dole” scheme, which the senate rejected, Scott got a gig as Head Bouncer at our island concentration camps, a job he put his own stamp on as we know.

Less well understood is how his secretive communication style matches his capacity to reach out to local communities, bind them together and inspire them with shared walks on Kokoda and other self-punishing odysseys.

A good guide to his capacity to reach out to others is his record of briefings on border security. As Immigration Minister, ScoMo was quick to do away with briefings entirely. Or walk out of them. Many were replaced by an occasional memo. Despite commissioning a $330,000 media briefing room in Canberra, next door to DFAT, ScoMo chose never to use it. Instead, from October 2013, weekly briefings were held at commonwealth offices in Sydney, closer to home. Briefings ended, that December, as reports of boat turnbacks came in which the government refused to discuss.

Just keeping the room on standby cost us $100,000 PA. Even the unused door knob cost an impressive $800.

In Canberra, Morrison uses Parliament House facilities for border protection-related pressers.

Yet he takes pride in his work. ScoMo proudly displays in his office a model boat trophy of his defeat of the human need for sanctuary; a refuge-seeker’s right to asylum, typically involving men women and children of Muslim faith.

“I stopped these”, says the inscription on the laser-cut steel trophy. It’s an empty boast. The flow of asylum-seekers travelling by boat slowed to trickle in 2013 when Kevin Rudd made it clear that no refugee or asylum-seeker arriving by boat would be re-settled on the mainland. Morrison was, moreover, one of the key figures in the Abbott opposition who helped frustrate the proposed 2011 Malaysian solution, a decision which led to a surge in numbers of maritime arrivals.

Morrison contends he prevented drownings, of course, but a slogan about boats rather than people helps desensitise us to the reality while distracting from the reality that most asylum-seekers arrive by plane. 18,290 arrived by air seeking asylum in 2016-17 and 27,931 in 2017-18, according to former Border Force Commissioner,  Roman Quaedvlieg.

Not only is it faster, it’s cheaper with a flight from Tehran at $1500 compared with $5-10,000 on average for a berth from Java to Christmas Island, although Morrison, Abbott and Dutton would have us believe the boats will start up again any minute, given Labor’s perfidious, Medivac Bill that will also swamp us with paedophiles, rapists and murderers.

Murderers? One of ScoMo’s last acts as Immigration Minister was to refuse permission for Egyptian father of six, Sayed Abdellatif to apply for a visa despite his own department recommending that this be granted. Abdellatif was tried and convicted of murder, firearms offences and destruction of property in absentia, in a show trial which relied upon testimony from his father and brother-in-law, obtained under torture. Interpol removed him from their Red list last year.

But Home Affairs keeps him in gaol. We’ve detained Abdellatif for six years in the Hotham high-security wing of Villawood, an act of sadistic cruelty.

“My case has taken five years to be finalised, it’s ridiculous. It’s not only crushed my hope. It’s torture, he says

We call it immigration detention but really it is open-ended imprisonment without charge, writes Richard Ackland.

Back in the studio there’s a palpable subtext of injury. “Morrison’s office”, that wonderful cop-out of modern politics, rang Waleed Aly recently and threatened to sue him over his claim that ScoMo urged his party’s shadow cabinet to exploit concerns over Muslim immigration. It’s a hurtful slur which festers.

“Does your Party and your Coalition have a problem of Islamophobia?” asks Aly.

Morrison replies he does not believe the Coalition had a problem with Islamophobia, as if it’s a matter of belief.

“I don’t think the Liberal Party does as a total group. And I don’t think the National Party does either,” he ducks and weaves before abdicating any responsibility as leader of his party for its members’ bigotry.

“Our party is made up of a lot of individuals and in our parties individuals have a lot more freedom to say what they think than other parties. It’s not for the party to answer for every single member on every occasion,” he responds, changing Aly’s question. What is he, as PM, going to do about his party members’ islamophobia?

The Project is dedicated to the Wildean premise that while all of us are in the gutter, some of us are pissing ourselves laughing at everyone else’s misfortune but the only joke, tonight, is the PM’s appearance as an angel of mercy.

In thirty minutes – “commercial-free” -ScoMo totally owns the show – at least in his own mind. A grateful nation rejoices. Gets the good oil; fair-dinkum gospel according to Arthur Brooks, US neo-con think-tanker, man of God and mammon, about how we should “disagree better not less”. ScoMo’s devoted his whole political career to binding and uniting.  And denial.

The denials and excuses come thick and fast. ScoMo’s never led an anti-Muslim mob in his life. A PM’s can’t be responsible for whatever Tony or George or Peter may say in the heat of the moment. It’s up to branches to put One Nation last on how to vote cards. “We’re a party of individuals, he says, unlike some … (we know who you mean, ScoMo, you sly-digger.)

Why, Scott’s got mates in Lakemba who’ll tell you that he doesn’t have an Islamophobic bone in his body. On cue, the ubiquitous Dr Jamal Rifi, News Corps’s celebrated “moderate Muslim” pops up on Friday on ABC’s The Drum to say just that. Rifi extols Morrison’s compassion and humanity. Of course ScoMo’s done a lot that himself.

Muslims rush to hug him when he rocks on up to the local mosque. Hug one another. That’s what we all should be doing at this troubled time. Just like they do to you down at the intensive care unit when you come in bleeding to death from an AR 16 fired by a white supremacist. St ScoMo, somehow, knows that what the nation urgently needs is a an endless flow of platitudes, slogans and absolutely no action.

He won’t attempt to stop the Islamophobia. He can’t. But he does offer hugs.

“So as I said on that first Friday night to Australians; just hug each other tonight. I think we need to keep hugging each other,”  the new touchy-feely Morrison, touchy-feely gropes for what he hopes will be mistaken for compassion.

Hugs are only part of his story. Morrison’s a beacon of ecumenical enlightenment, tolerance and multicultural, inter-fidelity. Just the other day, he took Jenny and the girls to pray at a Coptic church. Put that in your thurible and smoke it.

If he were truly such a huge friend of Islam, Morrison would be acting upon the leaders’ advice. The Islamic Council of Victoria, for example, urges that we need to act upon what is sees as the escalating threat of white extremists.

“We’re not confident they’re taking the threat of far-right extremism as seriously as they do – and I’ll use their terminology, though I don’t like it – Islamist-based or jihadist terrorism,” fears spokesman Adel Salman, who tells The Saturday Paper. “This is a very, very toxic form of white nationalist and white extremist ideology.”

Salman wants governments to publicly condemn Islamophobia. “It’s about time that our authorities … do it seriously,” he says. “They may be doing it behind the scenes, but they need to be taking it up publicly.”

An enchanted nation looks on in wonder as ScoMo, Australia’s most spectacular quick-change artist sets out to convince the nation that he is Nelson Mandela 2.0, guiding us down our own Kokoda Trails toward multicultural enlightenment and a man so revered by the Muslim community, it’s only a matter of time before he’s an honorary Mufti.

And if his goat ate your washing, he’d tell you that it wasn’t his goat; it just didn’t happen because Greg Hunt says so, Arthur Sinodinos and Phil Ruddock don’t remember it and besides you ought to be more careful where you peg out your smalls.

David Marr is right. In the wake of Christchurch, our PM is more concerned with going on prime time TV to deny something he is reported to have said than exercising leadership or taking any responsibility for the various ways that his government has directly and indirectly helped encourage a toxic subculture of Islamophobia; the ways his government has aided and abetted if not supported white supremacists.

The very least he could do is direct his party’s branches to put the racist, xenophobic, anti-Muslim, One Nation Party last on the Liberal how to vote card in the May Federal Election.

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Australia’s home-grown terrorist a threat to all of us.

“We were not chosen for this act of violence because we condone racism, because we are an enclave for extremism,” Jacinda Ardern told New Zealanders in the confused hours following the attacks.

“We were chosen for the very fact that we are none of these things. Because we represent diversity, kindness, compassion, a home for those who share our values, refuge for those who need it. And those values, I can assure you, will not and cannot be shaken by this attack.”

 

Fifty unsuspecting men, women and children attending Friday prayer at 1:00 pm in the leafy, peaceful, central Christchurch Al-Noor mosque and in the nearby mosque at Linwood, New Zealand, are suddenly brutally, cold-bloodedly shot at point-blank range by Brenton Harrison Tarrant, a 29 year-old Australian alt-right terrorist using an AR-15 semi-automatic, the weapon of choice in US mass shootings from Sandy Hook to San Bernardino.

Surgeons, who have treated wounds caused by AR-15 semi-automatic rifles, call the weapons perfect killing machines that can tear a body apart and create massive haemorrhaging. Many medicos call for it to be banned.

The assault is a callous, calculated hate-crime which leaves fifty Islamic worshippers dead and wounds fifty others, thirty-six of whom remain hospitalised, twelve in critical condition and a community utterly traumatised. Broken. Police arrest Tarrant, an Otago rifle-club member; charge him with one count of murder. Other charges will follow on 5 April. Despite earlier reports of a group of terrorists, police say Tarrant is the lone gun-man.

If only he were. Not for a moment, does Tarrant behave as if he is on his own. It’s in his demeanour in court, where he smirks at reporters and flashes an inverted white power symbol- it’s in his “manifesto”; the in-jokes and ironic references to fellow “shit-posters” on white supremacists’ websites; his prior posts to social media; his decision to film his pathological odyssey of destruction.  He is living proof of the myth of the lone wolf terrorist.

In his own, narcissistic, bubble-head, Tarrant’s gone from “zero to hero” appeasing the savage god of alt-right celebrity social media notoriety in thirty-six minutes. But he’s not got anywhere on his own. “Lazy talk of lone wolves obscures the nature of the real threat and makes us all less safe”, writes The Guardian’s Jason Burke.

“The truth is much more disturbing. Terrorism is not something you do by yourself, it is highly social. People become interested in ideas, ideologies and activities, even appalling ones, because other people are interested in them.”  Increasingly, however, links are tenuous. Networks, autonomous cells and “in rare cases” individuals have replaced groups with chains of command. Sadly, our AFP and Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s other anti-terror forces appear still to be busting down doors in Grafton, Monday, looking for a mythic Tarrant terror cell.

Tarrant exudes complicity; a sense of co-conspiracy; a psychotic, anti-heroic triumphalism of “us” against “them”.

Has the tolerance given the alt-right by governments and mainstream media in Australia, misled him to believe he is starring in his own movie? That he’s untouchable? Or does he simply have the psychopath’s empathy by-pass? Yet rather than seek out a terror cell as his mentors, we need look no further than the federal government.

“Some politicians in Australia have for years been whipping up anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment,” Greens senator Mehreen Faruqi tells ABC Television’s News Breakfast, Monday, “and for years, Muslims have also been warning; we’ve been speaking out and saying this is damaging and hurting the community, and that this does have consequences – this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. And when I talk about politicians, I have to say I’m not only talking about the usual suspects like One Nation’s Pauline Hanson, or Fraser Anning.”

Faruqi spells it out, later on Radio National “… politicians like Peter Dutton have actually contributed to creating an atmosphere where hate is allowed to incubate in our society. They can’t shrug off their responsibility.

What they’ve been doing does come with a cost, it does come with consequences, because really they’ve been playing games with our lives.”

Peter Dutton takes this gentle rebuke with typical good humour. He quickly accuses Faruqi of making political capital out of the NZ shootings. Dutts says it’s “a disgrace” that people “on the far left or far right [are] trying to extract advantage” while families are “burying the bodies of those who have been massacred in Christchurch”.

“He still refuses to take responsibility for his role in demonising Muslims, migrants and refugees,” Faruqi tells Guardian Australia.Trying to claim that my response to the horrific massacre and Senator Anning’s disgraceful comments that harm our community are in any way equivalent is just vile.”

Anning blames the New Zealand victims in a bizarre tweet which asks “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?” His asinine comment causes the Indonesian Foreign Ministry to summon the Australian Ambassador in Jakarta where foreign ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir has some helpful advice,

“Acts of terrorism, he says, are not associated with any religion.”

“The thought conveyed by the Australian senator is inappropriate and does not have a place in the modern world, whether in Australia, Indonesia, or elsewhere,” he says. Anning, meantime has over a million votes on a GetUp petition in favour of his standing down from parliament. His attention-seeking stunt is working marvellously.

As for acts of terrorism, if we look, as we do to the US, violent extremism driven by right-wing, racially motivated ideologies is growing at an alarming pace – ahead of the capacity of public understanding nor government action to keep up or to combat it. Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, calls upon leaders to wake up and to mobilise the necessary resources to deal with right wing terror. In Australia, we lag further behind.

Marvy Morrison is mugged by reality. Yet when it comes to “Muslim extremism” he has the answers all off pat. ScoMo echoes Abbott and most of his other MPs when he says the Muslim community in Australia must be more “proactive” in tackling the threat of terror attacks. Why?  Because “in many cases” imams and community leaders will know who is infiltrating and radicalising members of their flock. It’s reductive, patronising nonsense.

But Brenton Tarrant’s radicalisation is difficult to blame on anyone else but himself and his anti-Muslim, Islamophobic government. Not that ScoMo doesn’t give the hand-pass a try. He’s surprised, he says, that NZ authorities didn’t have Tarrant on their radar.

Jacinda Ardern replies that she’s surprised that Australian authorities, so much more advanced at this anti-terror stuff, weren’t on to Tarrant way back. Why weren’t his community leaders more proactive?

Proactive? Given our first major terrorist turns out to be a white supremacist, Neo-Nazi, why is ScoMo now not calling Anglo-Celtic community leaders to account? Because it’s nonsense? If there’s any good to come out of the tragic horror of Friday’s shootings, it’s the way that it exposes the Coalition’s preposterous supposition that Muslim “communities” are run by imams as some sort of theocratic state.

It also exposes a chilling truth. Paranoid nonsense about white genocide to one side, Tarrant’s intolerant ranting manifesto has many parallels with Coalition anti-immigration and anti-Muslim polemic. Tarrant’s immigration phobia; his scapegoating of Muslims, echoes ScoMo’s government’s own Islamophobic prejudices.

When a clearly deluded and paranoid Hassan Khalif Shire Ali killed one person and injured two others in Bourke Street, the PM identified the “vile presence” of radical Islam as the cause of the attack, dismissing the suggestion that mental health issues negated that primary cause as a “lame excuse”.

Tony Abbott insinuates Muslim leaders do not condemn terrorism: “I’ve often heard Western leaders describe Islam as a ‘religion of peace’. I wish more Muslim leaders would say that more often, and mean it.”

What messages did Abbott think he was sending when he allowed his government to send National MP “gorgeous” George Christensen to address an anti-Islam rally – Reclaim Australia? Perhaps Tarrant was even in attendance? The title of the address is remarkably similar to the theme of Tarrant’s cracked manifesto.

If it takes a whole village to raise a child, how many does it take to raise a genocidal, white supremacist gun-man? At the family level, Tarrant’s devastated relatives offer their profuse apologies to the families who have lost brothers, sisters, uncles, nephews, nieces, husbands and wives who until last Friday were teachers, engineers, accountants and scientists.

And children.  Two young children are among those gunned down in cold blood. Mucad Ibrahim, aged three, dies in his father’s arms. Abdullah Durie, aged four, is caught in the cross-fire and later dies in hospital, explains Abdulrahman Hashi, his uncle. Nothing anyone can ever say will ease their parents’ grief.

Suddenly, we are exporting terrorism. ScoMo’s government has the wrong script. Scott Morrison has said the Muslim community in Australia must be more “proactive” in tackling the threat of terror attacks because “in many cases” imams and community leaders will know who is infiltrating and radicalising members of their flock.

No Australian politician, however, steps forward to take responsibility for his or her role in contributing to the toxic miasma of Islamophobia; the anti-Muslim hate-speech that they nurture as part of Australia’s contemporary political discourse with its blaming, its scapegoating, its fear of the other.  No-one in government apologises for raising terrorist Tarrant, let alone allowing him out of the country to commit his hideous act of carnage.

Scott Morrison offers his condolences but his words ring hollow given how, in December 2010, ScoMo allegedly encouraged the shadow cabinet to exploit populist Islamophobia; growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia”, how “Muslims” were not assimilating – suppressing their culture, subjugating custom, thought and belief much as Australia’s aboriginal peoples are in many ways still expected to behave.

Julie Bishop and Philip Rudd allegedly remonstrated, but in 2011, Morrison asked why the Australian government should pay the fares of twenty-two mourners to come to the Sydney funeral of family drowned when an asylum-seeker vessel, SIEV 222, (Suspected illegal entry vessel) in our Orwellian terminology, evoking anonymity, illegality and illegitimacy, broke up and sank off Christmas Island’s Rocky Point, with the loss of over fifty lives.

Tony Abbott was censured by Wayne Swan for “parroting Pauline Hanson” in Abbott’s backing of Morrison.

ScoMo was persuaded to apologise or at least he made a contrived statement of contrition,

“I made the suggestion (the funeral) should have been held on Christmas Island. That wasn’t the right time to make that comment. I accept that. I have to show a little more compassion than I showed yesterday.”

Luckily, former accountant-cum-ethicist, Barnaby Joyce is on hand in 2011 to protect the borders of our humanity. The price of compassion is “not limitless’‘, he says. “You can’t do it with a completely open cheque book.”

Making his atrocity even more horrifying is that Tarrant live-streams his killings on the internet and posts an online manifesto, “The Great Replacement”, a deranged treatise on white supremacy: the high volume of immigration now seen in the West is bringing about a “replacement” of host populations by immigrant – and of course, inferior – cultures. The influx of newcomers is causing a “white genocide.”

Kiwi politicians get a copy of the treatise minutes before his attacks. Both his email and his Go-Pro live-streamed film convey not only his bizarre deliberations but suggest that the “entire attack seemed orchestrated for the social media age” suggest CNN reporters, Jenni Marsh and Tara Mulholland. It’s an ISIS-like recruitment tactic.

Before Tarrant’s attacks, a post on the anonymous message board 8chan — a forum featuring racist and extremist posts –previews the horror. It links to his 87-page grab-bag of anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim slurs, and directs users to a Facebook page hosting the live stream. He also uses a new Twitter account to herald the attack. Yet no-one in any anti-terror police unit either in Australia or New Zealand notices his declaration of intent to murder.

Facebook claims that within 24 hours of Friday’s shooting the company had removed 1.5 million videos of the attack from its platform globally. Naturally, Scott Morrison has this contingency all under control.

“We will be seeking to get assurances from the social media companies about their capabilities to ensure that this tool cannot be used by terrorists,” ScoMo says, keen to be seen to impose “a tough on Facebook borders” solution. However, he reveals an astonishing ignorance of how social media works. As Mark Zuckerberg explains, his company could not have stopped Russia manipulating the outcome of the last US presidential election,

“We don’t check what people say before they say it, and frankly, I don’t think society should want us to. Freedom means you don’t have to ask for permission first, and by default, you can say what you want.”

The slaughter is quickly labelled “one of New Zealand’s darkest days” and “an act of terrorism” by Kiwi PM, Jacinda Ardern. Other world leaders offer sympathy. Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan goes further; arguing that Muslims worldwide have found themselves targeted and “demonised” since the 9/11 attacks on the US.

“I blame these increasing terror attacks on the current Islamophobia post-9/11 where Islam and 1.3 bn Muslims have collectively been blamed for any act of terror by a Muslim,” he tweets. “This has been done deliberately to also demonise legitimate Muslim political struggles.”

It is the largest massacre in New Zealand history since 1943, when forty-eight recently-arrived Japanese prisoners of war staged a sit-down strike at a POW camp in Featherston, a Wairarapa town in the Wellington region of the North Island. Guards fired a warning shot wounding Lieutenant Adachi Toshio. The prisoners rose. Forty-eight were shot by guards. A guard was killed, possibly by the warning shot. A further 63 prisoners were wounded.

Acting out his warped fantasy, Brenton Harrison Tarrant straps on his Go-Pro helmet camera, packs three semi-automatic rifles, two pump action shotguns and a bolt-action rifle in his Subaru before driving four and a half hours north from his home in Dunedin to Christchurch where he opens fire on unsuspecting innocents.

As Waleed Ali has written, it is “slaughter by appointment”. The true threat posed to us by this new form of terror; the true obscenity of the killings lie less in any alt-right madness about white genocide or Islamophobia but in the abuse of human trust and instinctive hospitality. The killer would have known how profoundly defenceless, how vulnerable, his targets would have been as they gathered in peace to begin their prayers. How vulnerable in their humanity and the innocent rituals of their faith.

“Hello Brother,” one greets Tarrant before the Australian terrorist shoots him dead.

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ScoMo’s cynical Christmas Island stunt is an assault on our democracy and an affront to our humanity

“I will do everything in my power to ensure that these suggested changes … never see the light of day… I will fight them using whatever tool or tactic I have available to me …” Scott Morrison

 

Flanked by a trio of Border Force black-shirts and a lone, grim digger in camouflage, Scott Morrison morphs into Colonel Kurtz of Christmas Island, Wednesday. Consumed by his delusions. In a spectacular mid-week flight of fantasy, he becomes Colonel Kurtz of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola’s phantasmagorical 1979 Vietnam war film loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness. For Kurtz and ScoMo Horror and moral terror are your friend. 

Morrison is up for another stunt if only to drown out the erupting chaos and crisis of confidence in its leadership which, yet again, engulfs the Coalition. He’s also working up to a sensational International Women’s Day address Friday “so tone deaf so terrible” – so bad it makes international news. Is it the Kurtz method acting? Or is it just ScoMo’s ear of tin?

Pet black rock-star Morrison tells a flabbergasted audience at the Chamber of Minerals and Energy in Western Australia, a bastion of women’s emancipation, that it is “not in our values” to “push some people down to lift some people up”.

“That is true of gender equality,” he says. “We want to see women rise. But we don’t want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse. We want everybody to do better, and we want to see the rise of women in this country be accelerated to ensure that their overall pace is maintained.”  Clearly, ScoMo has no idea what equality means. But that doesn’t stop him “telling women not to get ahead of themselves” as Sarah Hanson-Young tweets.

Feminist, Malcolm Turnbull embarks on a finely nuanced new offensive against those who knifed him in the least successful coup in Liberal history by telling the BBC, his MPs dumped him because they knew he could win the election.

“Basically you could argue that their concern was not that I would lose the election, but rather that I would win it.”

It’s absurd. Obligingly, however, Turnbull also lets the world know that the Liberals definitely has a woman problem; a serious gender inequality issue. ScoMo will be thrilled. But Turnbull slaps down Tony Abbott for his “innumerate idiocy” in his carbon emission triple back-flip and snipe. The suppository of all wisdom declares he’s all for following the Paris climate-in-a-canter agreement now. Why? “Because the party’s leader and energy minister have changed.”

Nothing to do with being likely to lose his seat of Warringah where his chief adversary Zali Steggall confirms that Tony is being his “rude, aggressive, self.” He’s also lying, she adds. Who says there’s no consistency in politics?

Bonkers Barnaby Joyce is up for a change; he’s making ready to depose Nationals Leader Michael McCormack. The fracas will be very helpful to ScoMo in diverting us from Josh Frydenberg’s April stunning budget tax-cut bribes.

Joyce is close to a shoo-in. Few even in his own electorate have heard of McCormack. The Nationals are miffed by their lame-duck leader’s train-wreck interview with Waleed Ali on Ten’s The Project which goes viral on social media.

It’s a simple question and one that Barnaby Joyce would struggle with. “Could you name a single, big policy area where the Nats have sided with the interests of farmers over the interest of miners when they come into conflict?”

Macca just can’t name a single way that the Nationals Party stands up for the farmer rather than for mining interests.

Naturally, Macca is also attacked by “Joyced-up” Queensland Nats-rats who demand he underwrite Matthew Canavan’s “about ten” new coal-fired power stations before the Budget. For now, the agrarian socialists simply want state power over power companies; Angus Taylor, bring you big stick back. Or is this Barnaby’s cunning plan to win his old job back?

Macca kicks another own goal by telling the ABC, Sunday, that night-time sport would have to be cancelled given Labor’s emissions targets. McCormack calls Bill Shorten “nuts” and “living in fairyland” for pursuing a 45 per cent reduction in carbon emissions. “I mean sure, go down that path, but forget night footy, forget night cricket.”

Given this surfeit of absurdity, disunity and ever-mindful to lead by inspiring, ScoMo takes his shock-horror show on tour to Christmas Island, pressing a hand-picked media claque aboard an RAAF 747; a virtual, portable Canberra bubble. He says nothing he couldn’t have said in Canberra but he knows exotic settings make the news. And the value of escape.

“Anyone who wants to game the system, understand you won’t be able to game your way to the mainland if I have anything to do with it. This is why we are here,” he blusters. Border Force cutbacks are not mentioned. Yet David Wroe writing for Nine Newspapers quotes a leaked Defence Department classified briefing paper warning,

“The Australian Border Force has been falling short of its sea patrol target by 20 per cent, which has posed an increased risk” to maritime security. Anti-terror work has been cut back just because the ABF hasn’t been out there doing its job. Budget cutbacks and crew shortages are cited as reasons in Wednesday’s Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

It’s a far cry from the halcyon days of Tony Abbott’s boat-stopping, a feat he didn’t achieve, which he has never ceased to take credit for. The depersonalisation stuck, as well. Stopping boats or “illegal maritime arrivals” is so much easier than owning sadistic cruelty to vulnerable people. As for Abbott and Morrison’s boat-stopping fiction, asylum-seekers, in fact, stopped attempting to reach Australia when Kevin Rudd made it clear, in July 2013, that they would never be settled here. By the time Morrison was in charge, the flow of boats slowed to a trickle. Yet one or two still try.

What Morrison can take credit for is a culture of secrecy and lies. As Immigration Minister, he showed contempt for the press – and with it – for normal measures of accountability in a democratic society. ScoMo would simply walk out of formal press-conferences when he didn’t like the questions – or scrutiny of openness and accountability.

At times, he would resort to the fiction that we were at war with asylum seekers and people-smugglers, a fantasy in which he was indulged by Abbott, a ruse to claim that “on water” or “operational matters” were top secret as a matter of national security. Yet, as his government’s exit, stage right, draws ever closer, his legacy will be his inhumanity.

Under Scott Morrison, Australia’s Migration Act was effectively entirely eroded: all affirmations of the rights of asylum seekers that applied in international law under the United Nations Refugee Convention were stripped from the Act.

Today, 1015 innocent men and women are deliberately being driven mad by the misery of indefinite offshore detention. Some are pushed to suicide and self-harm by our government’s policy of punitive incarceration; or sadistic cruelty.

Yet human beings with needs and rights do not feature in Morrison’s message to the press, midweek. There’s a lot about himself, of course. And pointing. Feeling of steel mesh. He points to where a refugee boat sank in rough seas in December 2010. Forty-eight died. But it’s only to reiterate the lie that Coalition policy is based on preventing drowning.

Does this humbug deceive anyone? Coalition policies are founded in crass, political advantage. Deny refugees’ rights. As John Menadue puts it, the Coalition’s political objective in opposition was to stop Labor stopping the boats. In co-operation with the populist Greens, it voted against the Malaysian Solution. A surge of boat arrivals followed.

Nowhere does ScoMo admit we must render others urgent medical help; our non-delegable duty of care. Instead, all he can talk about are those who will “game the system”. Fake illness. Like Dutton, he must dwell on duplicity; deception.

If not some type of disorder, the obsession with deception or lack of good faith destroys the Coalition’s promises to keep us safe. As do its laws preventing whistle-blowers. We’re safe until we blow the whistle. We’re not safe if we can’t trust government. As for deception, we have no idea how many boats have been turned around, give the level of secrecy surrounding Operation Sovereign Borders. Secrecy hardly encourages us to trust the Coalition’s official statistics

What is clear, is that punitive detention has no effect and the “successes” – if we can talk of abrogating our humanity and our responsibility to others in such a way – have come from boat turnbacks. No-one at the press briefing challenges Scott Morrison’s basic assumption – just how mainland medical aid to men on Manus or men and women on Nauru, which his government will deny by sending the suffering to Christmas Island, can attract more boats.

Talk of “illegals” crops up frequently in Coalition spin on “securing our borders”, a nonsense useful for wedging Labor. It’s repeated so frequently it’s become part of accepted truthiness. The word dehumanises but it is not illegal to seek asylum. Secondly, our borders are naturally insecure given our 25,760 km coastline. And more porous than they’ve ever been. In 2018, 9.2 million overseas residents flew in for a short-term stay say the ABS’ official statistics.

It’s high time we gave up the fiction of border control. Helping us, the formation of the Home Affairs (HA) super-ministry is already imploding. Size imperils co-ordination and communication. Home Affairs is so huge it took a senate committee two and a half days just to scrutinise Peter Dutton’s empire May last year, reports ABC’s Laura Tingle.

Home Affairs swallowed The Department of Immigration and Border Protection – itself a shotgun wedding of customs and immigration created by the Abbott government’s 2014, which Scott Morrison failed to manage well. One change was simply a captain’s call; desk-bound bureaucrats were suddenly kitted out in paramilitary uniforms.

Our refugees do not deserve our compassion, is Morrison’s subtext.  They do not merit being treated at “Bondi” he explains to Ben Fordham on 2GB’s bubble. The sick will be sent to suffer further on Christmas Island with its six bed hospital and its inadequate facilities. All that remains, is to demonise those whose only mistake is to seek our mercy.

The Coalition continues its warped fear-mongering all week. Morrison has long accused asylum-seekers of carrying all manner of diseases from Hep B and TB to Chlamydia and syphilis. Now his government claims that those identified as eligible for treatment under Medevac include “paedophiles, terrorist sympathisers and an alleged murderer”.  

ScoMo’s speech could be made in Canberra but, instead, the Coalition flies its PM and an embedded media team by RNZAF 747, 5000 km to Christmas Island. It’s a bizarre and expensive stunt – even for the architect of Abbott’s 2014 “Cambodian Solution”, an abortive deal with one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt nations, which led to two refugees being resettled with no human rights guarantees at a cost of $55 million.

But Apocalypse Morrison sees only the horror.  Horror? “Labor will start the boats again. Every arrival is on Bill Shorten’s head.”  Last time it was in office, Labor brought 50,000 asylum-seekers in boats. Even if this inflated figure were accurate, his own government has seen 64,000 people claim asylum in the last three years. They flew here.

Today they are part of an oppressed, exploited, invisible underclass of worker on farms, in factories, restaurants, building sites, franchises and other businesses, as The Saturday Paper’s Mike Seccombe details.

ScoMo’s promo draws all the attention he can to Christmas Island’s ignoble re-opening. Does the PM hope that a boat might chance indefinite offshore detention or turnbacks, on the off chance that some asylum-seekers may be sick enough to be treated on the mainland – despite the new legislation clearly applying only to refugees from Manus and Nauru?  It’s highly unlikely but he does makes much of the people-smugglers’ lack of nuanced understanding.

Why else, apart from pure political bastardry, re-open another island prison in Australia’s gulag archipelago of cruelty?

On Bill Shorten’s head? It’s a desperate projection. As former Immigration Minister and distinguished public servant, John Menadue notes, by defeating the means to implement the Malaysian Arrangement, Tony Abbott and Scott Morrison triggered the surge in boat arrivals from September 2011 onwards. The more boats the better for him.

In November 2009, the issue of asylum seekers was “fantastic” for the Coalition and “the more boats that come the better” a key Liberal Party strategist” told a US diplomat in Canberra.  Scott Morrison was the ‘strategy director’ for the 2007 NSW election campaign. The comment was published 10 December 2010 by the SMH reporting from Wikileaks.

Our onshore detention centres (gulags) are full, he lies.  Shorten’s new law means ScoMo must reopen Christmas Island Detention Centre, (a prison), because 57 “adverse characters,” require a “hardened centre”, (a fresh bit of jargon to help with the message that refugees are rapists, terrorists and worse. Some are Armani-wearing con-artists – just ask Dutts.)

“Somebody once said to me that we’ve got the world’s biggest collection of Armani jeans and handbags up on Nauru waiting for people to collect it when they depart,” Dutton told 2GB’s Ray Hadley two years ago, using the dodgy “somebody once told me…” propaganda strategy in the government’s squalid bid to smear our refugees as dishonest and undeserving – when it’s not demonising them as carriers of STDs or terrorist sympathisers.

Horror of horrors. There is room on the mainland. In a government of secrets and lies, truth, like science, is a dirty word. Home Affairs own monthly newsletter shows three mainland “hardened centres”. One alone has 200 spare beds. If every one of ScoMo’s 57 “adverse characters” were sick, we’d fit them all in. So far, not one has sought assistance.

And why ignore local residents of the Australian territory? They have a democratic right to be consulted,

Museum attendant, Roxanne Wilson, complains that ScoMo’s detention centre media blitz is certainly no advertisement for Christmas island. “I’m just concerned that any tourists on the island or [who] would like to come to the island, are thinking it’s a detention island. I would just like them to see the beauty of the island: we get bird watchers coming here quite regularly, the island has endemic bird life that is not found anywhere else in the world.”

Yet ScoMo flies 5000 kilometres to an Australia external territory, acquired in 1958, which his mentor, John Howard, rat-cunningly excised from our migration zone in September 2001.  An exhausted phosphate mine, Christmas Island is 1400 km north-west of Australia but only 360 km south of Java; alluringly close for Indonesian people-smugglers.

Is ScoMo hoping to reboot its allure? Another asylum-seeker boat or two could turn the May election into Tampa 2.0.

Or could it? How likely are demon people-smugglers to forget history? Tampa’s 438 passengers were taken to Nauru and Manus. Not to be outdone by the lying rodent, Howard, moreover, the Gillard government, excised the mainland of Australia from our migration zone in May 2013. Even if you do make it to Australia, you’ll end up being “processed” or in indefinite detention on Manus or Nauru. Only ScoMo could pretend the Medevac bill opens any “loopholes”.

Yet, blast the trump, Christmas Island is open for business again. What better spot for ScoMo to declare war on the Medevac Bill and humanity; protect us all from those who may “game the system”? Dog-whistle people-smugglers?

Morrison does boost Australia’s reputation for gratuitous cruelty and abuse of human rights via off-shore detention. Our democracy cops a hiding, too. Cap’n ScoMo’s determined to subvert the will of the Australian people as represented by parliament’s passing of a bill to allow asylum-seekers held on Manus Island and on Nauru to be treated on the mainland, a bill which received royal assent last Friday. No-one puts up a fuss. He’ll send them to an island where medical facilities are inadequate but thanks to Howard, the law doesn’t reach. It’s an act of pure political bastardry. And it’s not cheap.

All up, Monty Morrison’s flying circus costs taxpayers $2000 per minute, reckons Nine Newspapers’, David Crowe. But that doesn’t begin to count the cost to our humanity nor to our capacity as sentient beings to find our way in the world.

The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth and truth be defamed as a lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world – and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end – is being destroyed. (Hannah Arendt).

=====

Note

From the Attorney-General’s Department, Laura Tingle reports, Home Affairs has taken carriage of national security, emergency management and criminal justice functions. The Office of Transport Security has been plucked from the Infrastructure Department. Multicultural affairs has been absorbed from the Department of Social Services. And from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Home Affairs has taken control of counter-terrorism coordination and cybersecurity. The super-ministry also assumes responsibility for key agencies including ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, Australian Border Force, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and AUSTRAC.

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No, ScoMo, you can’t have Snowy 2.0 and coal-fired power too.

“What we are talking about here is reliable, renewable, energy,” gurgles a pumped PM, Tuesday. He stands in the same spot as Turnbull, before ScoMo deposed him; the same huge penstock steel pipes arch back behind him like some gigantic, shamanic, horned headdress. The pose gives pause for thought. As does ScoMo’s pivot; his sudden switch from bearer of the black rock in parliament to ScoMo of Snowy 2.0, a study of calculation in concrete brutalism.

In an incredible back-flip, Faux-Mo re-invents his carbon-emitting, coal-powered government as climate and environmental custodians. Snowy 2.0 is the site of Turnbull’s nation-building pet project. Is his an act of homage, or  usurpation? Yet it could be a lemon. Neither the Coalition, nor its wholly owned Snowy Hydro, will reveal any financial models. Giles Parkinson notes that there’s a fair bit of red tape to clear, not to mention environmental issues to resolve.

No financial modelling? No worries. Whether nation-building with your ego or your energy policy, it’s the vibe that matters. And the mix. A “technologically neutral” ScoMo-government may green-wash itself overnight but it’s careful to leave black or brown coal-fired power generation still in the energy mix. It prolongs the hoax that coal and wind and solar can somehow co-exist, whatever the market is saying about the need to invest in renewables to make a profit.

Naturally a few false prophets must be ignored. The Australian‘s Chris Kenny is all for a nuclear option, safe, cheap; a boon, environmentally, as Fukushima and Chernobyl attest, with only a few drawbacks including toxicity, short life-span, long build time and prohibitive price as demand for electricity diminishes. Nuclear is so yesterday. As for green, any saving in daily running cost is offset by a large environmental debit incurred in the massive concrete construction.

But is our new ScoMo Coalition with clean, green, pumped snowy hydro 2.0 fair-dinkum? Giles Parkinson drily notes,

“…a government that “scrapped the carbon price, tried to kill the renewable energy target, defenestrated the Climate Change Authority and tried to scrap the Clean Energy Finance Corp and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency appears to be taking note that climate focused independents are posing a real threat to incumbent MPs.”

Is it green? Will our unreliable, coal-fired clunkers such as Liddell be taken off life support? (Liddell’s expected life-span was 25 years, when built in 1973.) Will filthy, new, polluting smoke stacks rise phoenix-like from the ashes, as the Coalition honours Matt Canavan’s recent pledge to fund ten new coal-fired power plants? Funding? Banks won’t touch them. China doesn’t love us any more and the Russians have already been well-tapped by Trump.

Government funding is promised to those keen to build new coal-fired power projects – but is it legal? In a startling new piece of legal advice from barristers Fiona McLeod SC and Lindy Barrett, The Australia Institute reports McLeod and Barrett argue that the government will need parliament’s approval before it can underwrite any new coal fired plant.

The only existing authority for such appropriation of funds is the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, a body set up to encourage investment in energy-efficient; low energy or low emission technology. Coal or gas projects are excluded.

The barristers hazard that “Energy Minister Angus Taylor is in such a rush to funnel taxpayer funds to new coal fired power stations before the election, he seems to have overlooked that he has no constitutional authority to do so.”

Assistance for new coal fired power projects, it is argued, will require “some form of supporting legislation”, reports Katharine Murphy, either new or existing, to operate and fund the program, otherwise the arrangements would be open to a high court challenge. Certainly, Energy Minister Angus Taylor is coy about new build details.

Taylor, is tight-lipped on ABC Insiders, Sunday. Incredibly, after six years in government and with an election in May, he acts as if he is being put on the spot by a key question on major policy. Perhaps he is. Has no-one done the research?

“I’m the energy minister, I am not going to commit to a number here and now.” An evasive Taylor sees fit to use the Westminster code of ministerial responsibility to parliament to weasel out of a simple question in the national interest.

Instead, Trump-like, the Energy Minister spins a web of lies. He risks ridicule in pretending that the Coalition is reducing its carbon emissions. The government’s own figures show a five-year increase. (Emission rose again when, then PM, Abbott “axed the carbon tax: a lie which even former Chief of Staff Peta Credlin now admits was untrue – “just brutal retail politics” – by which she means ruthless, self-serving, pragmatism. Any means to win an election is OK.)

Yet Taylor’s cool with coal and pumped hydro competing. Has he read Tassie’s Project Marinus’ feasibility study? It’s clear from the project brief that the interlink will be economically viable only if coal is taken out of the mix – and soon.

“… when approximately 7,000MW of the national electricity market’s present coal-fired generation capacity retires”,

Pouncing, like a terrier, on the word “competition”, the topic of his M.Phil from Oxford where, like Abbott, he was a Rhodes Scholar, Taylor offers a touching non-sequitur, “You put your finger on it – we want more competition, Barrie.” Perhaps coal can compete with pumped hydro in the parallel universe of the coal lobby shill or the Kelly “ginger group”.

Taylor has ScoMo’s biggest lie off pat. “We will reach our Paris targets in a canter.” The Coalition knows that with repetition the lie will become orthodoxy  – as has the false narrative that our energy policy is a failure because “both sides” have been bickering, a point repeatedly made by Coalition MPs and their supporters on mainstream media, including the ABC’s The Drum and Q&A. No. It’s a Coalition wedded to its coal sponsors causing the damage.

There are no reputable scientists or economists who believe we will meet our Paris target to reduce our emissions by 26%, based on 2005 levels, by 2030 in a canter. Now the talk is of carry-over credits.

The question has Taylor talking about The Kyoto agreement to Australia fudging its figures; being allowed a credit for land-clearing and forestry in article 3.7 of the Kyoto Protocol, known but not fondly, as The Australian Clause and inserted at the behest of Senator Robert Hill. In brief, we chose 1990, a year when land-clearing had been high as our base, thus giving the impression of progress even if we did nothing. The Coalition’s attitude remains unchanged.

We did not do nothing. The Hawke government introduced policies to restrict land-clearing and established Landcare. When Kyoto was officially ratified in 2008, under Rudd, Australia was able to claim “emissions from Land-use, Land-use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) had fallen by over 80 million tonnes CO2-e … an almost 15 per cent reduction in Australia’s emissions – enough to offset the significant growth in emissions from electricity generation over the same period, which had added 82 million tonnes CO2-e by 2009.”

Because we will beat our 2020 Kyoto targets by 240 million tonnes of CO2, the Morrison government will carry these forward against our 2030 Paris pledge, if other countries are weak enough to allow this. The 26 to 28 per cent target effectively turns into a 15 per cent cut on 2005 levels.

It seems like sharp practice – and in terms of our real contribution to curbing global warming it is a shamefully weak effort, yet our environment minister, “Invisible” Melissa Price, says “it’s a great result for the environment and for the economy”, helping prosecute the fallacy that curbing emissions acts as a break on prosperity, a myth so widely and frequently circulated that it is Coalition and mainstream media orthodoxy.

Bill Hare, director of Perth-based global consultancy Climate Analytics, says there’s no chance we can meet our target without new policies. Most other experts agree. Yet the Coalition is a policy-free zone, especially around energy.

Barrie tries to chat about rats leaving the sinking Coalition ship. Ten faux-green bottles no longer hanging on the wall. More to accidentally fall? Taylor recycles ScoMo’s spin that while the faces may change, the policies remain “focused”. Yet  coal is in now out of-focus while hydro gets a spin.  And since Taylor’s debut in August, energy is an enigma. Even Frydenberg didn’t try to ride two horses at once. You can’t burn coal and pump hydro. It’s one or the other.

Unless it’s for show. This week the Coalition puts another $1.6bn into the kitty for Snowy 2.0 pumped hydro. Invests $56m in interconnector 2.0, or the Marinus link to make little Tassie a powerhouse; “the battery of the nation”.

Marinus will carry power not only from pumped hydro, moreover, it will be able to conduct electricity from wind-power projects in the pipeline. But it won’t be economic; it can’t pay its way unless coal-fired power generation is retired. The costs of the poles and wires are extra. These, ScoMo generously makes clear, are to be borne by the relevant states.

For Tassie’s Marinus 2 project to work, however, its feasibility report says its necessary or our nation to get out of coal-fired power generation. Fast. 2020 is suggested. Yet Angus Taylor suggests there may be ten coal-fired plants which the government may subsidise. Again, it’s impossible to have an each-way bet. Giles Parkinson sums up: Snowy 2.0 and the Tasmanian scheme only make economic and financial sense if coal-fired power production ceases.

“There is no place in the schemes if coal-fired generators remain.”

That’s entirely at odds with Coalition policy. This includes a type of state aid to Trevor St Baker, the billionaire who bought Vales Point from the NSW government for a song – and poised to set up some new ones; a white knight of the black rock and a Liberal Party donor just battling to make a quid by keeping old stations such as Liddell running well past their use-by date. No wonder the government is releasing no feasibility study. What they propose is impossible.

At base, however, Snowy 2.0’s just another show.  “Getting on with the job”, as Showboat ScoMo pitches his cynical faux humility. Typically, “the job” entails the hard slog of deception, disinformation and spin but the old stager knows no sort of performance can distract from the reality that at least ten of his Coalition crew are madly stampeding for the exits.

“Jobs for the boys” are what we are in fact talking about, as Labor’s Penny Wong never tires of reminding us.

Wait, there’s more good news. “A record seven women in cabinet”, boasts Nine news. ScoMo boldly overpromotes rookie WA Senator Linda Reynolds straight from assistant Minister for Home Affairs, to Minister for Defence Industry.

“When you can call up a brigadier, in the form of Linda Reynolds, to take on the role of defence minister, it shows we have a lot of talent on our bench to draw from” Morrison lies. It does show the Liberals’ fetish for militarism. Above all, it rewards Reynolds for quickly abandoning her complaints of bullying in the Liberal Party.

“As a soldier I believe you go through a chain of command and you do things internally,” she says. Her cryptic comment may make sense to a part-time army reservist on a weekend camp but how is this Liberal individualism?  Of far more concern, is how the potential Minister of Defence would respond to whistle-blowers.

Alarmingly, Reynolds repeats Morrison’s myth that voters have no interest in the internal workings of the party – a nonsense given the party’s commitment to transparency – and given the ways our choices of candidate and party are justly informed by insights into party culture – or as Kelly O’Dwyer put it, ways votes are lost by a popular perception that the Liberal party is a mob of “homophobic, anti-women, climate-change deniers”.

ScoMo promises to make Reynolds Defence Minister after Christopher Pyne tidies up his sock drawer and ties up a few other loose ends such as our $79 billion submarine contract. Can he get the boats built in Australia by Australians – preferably in his own state, if not his own electorate? How will we provide crews? A lot for the Fixer to work through.

Reynolds is also – gasp – a woman and a Brigadier in the Army Reserve – irrefutable proof of the Liberals’ egalitarian democracy, despite only nineteen MPs being women.  And a reservist Brigadier will instantly win over any full-time ADF member. Yet the PM fails to cut a dash given the splash as rats desert HMAS Chum-bucket his sinking submarine.

The week in politics sees the federal Coalition frantically green-wash its cred – even recycling the direct action scam, a monster magic soil boondoggle only Hunt could flog, as it struggles to “get on with the job” as ScoMo puts it.

Everyone else lost interest long ago. Or they’re jumping overboard or already off-grid, as a weary nation battles fair-dinkum fatigue, a torpor not even Snowy Hydro 2.0, a Sisyphean marvel now bigger than ANZAC, Phar Lap and Kokoda put together can shift.

“It’s absolutely fair-dinkum power. It doesn’t get more fair dinkum than this,” gurgles ScoMo, who transforms, this week, into state socialist as he widens the sluice-gate of government funding on a project which has already cost a mozza; $6 billion for the Commonwealth just to buy out NSW and Victorian states’ investments.

This week’s capital transfusion transforms Malcom Turnbull’s pipe-dream into a Ponzi scheme. Snowy 2.0 will pump water uphill when power is cheap and let it rush downhill again when the price is right driving whirling turbines to produce top dollar power which cannot but help drive up power bills.

“We don’t need Morrison’s money”, carps Snowy Hydro CEO, Paul Broad, to News Corp, rejecting the Coalition’s sudden, unbidden injection of $1.4 billion part of a largesse which includes glad-handing $440 million to The Great Barrier Reef Foundation, a sign that the outfit may be struggling to stay afloat; struggling to make its numbers add up.

Pumped hydro schemes are generally not profitable, reports Giles Parkinson. Last year, data from the Australian Energy Market shows that existing pumped hydro schemes made almost no money from this activity. In the last quarter, they actually lost money and over the previous four quarters made virtually no money. Paul Broad is less expansive.

“The government decided the way it wanted to balance out the funding. It wanted to sustain dividends,” Broad says. “It wanted to support the project with equity. These things are part of negotiations that go on. We never asked for it. We never asked for anything.” Keeping financial modelling secret only fuels suspicion that Pacific Hydro’s in trouble already.

 Our PM quickly whips up a succession of other phantasmagorical stunts, this week, ranging from Monday’s Climate Solutions fund to spruik the ERF’s resurrection, an Abbott scam for channelling funding to Big Agriculture and even Big Coal amongst other worthy Liberal donors and supporters. It would cost $200 bn to use it to reach our Paris targets.

In other words, it’s “a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale and a fig leaf to cover its determination to do nothing”, as Malcolm Turnbull proclaimed of Abbott’s ERF plan prior to the 2013 election.

An emission-abating nation gasps as “showboat” ScoMo simultaneously flogs a dead horse, puts lipstick on a pig and executes a reverse pork barrel dive with pike all in free-fall off Mount Kosciuszko in the Snowy Mountains region.

“Magic-soil” Morrison rebadges Abbott’s quick and dirty emissions reduction fund (ERF) boondoggle as a $2bn Climate Solutions Fund (CSF) whilst slashing its annual budget from $510 million to $200 million.  Sheer genius.

It’s half of the funding Abbott committed in the 2013 election campaign. The Kiwis are right. ScoMo’s a phenomenon; a force of nature; a cunning stunt and not a one trick pony after all.

If there’s less pork to fork, what’s left is spread more widely; farmers, whose fingers are already worked to the bone filling in drought-relief forms can now apply for a CSF handout to “drought-proof” their farms, whatever that means, or just do a bit of re-vegetation. Businesses get handouts for “energy efficient projects” and not just planting for trees they would have planted anyway. Given that ERF farmers are agri-businesses, also, a double dip may well be possible.

The Wilderness Society calls on the invisible Environment Minister Melissa Price, former  to review the channelling of funds into paying farmers to protect native vegetation after Queensland satellite data suggested recipients of such money were clearing other parts of their land. What could possibly go wrong?

“Our analysis shows that 13,317 hectares of forest and bushland clearing has occurred across 19 properties in the same year or years subsequent to winning ERF contracts for funding under vegetation methodologies,” Glenn Walker, climate campaign manager for the group, says in a letter to Minister Price.

Not to be outdone, Home Affairs Super-Minister, one trick pony, Peter Dutton doctors up his fear campaign Thursday, with another populist dog-whistle from Dutts Unplugged, a long-running White Australia revival tour.

“People who need medical services are going to be displaced from those services, because if you bring hundreds and hundreds of people from Nauru and Manus down to our country, they are going to go into the health network,” Uncle Dutts tells a fawning of loyal reporters in Brisbane. Doctors respond that the claim is nonsense.

Oddly, not a word of support is heard from anyone, not even Craig and the rest of the Kelly gang, a sect whose job it is to invite climate-change deniers to parliament to mislead policy-makers and to hold Morrison to ransom on energy, a kindness paid forward by the PM and his federal energy minister, Angus Taylor in dictating to the states.

Nobody’s talking. It’s an “announceable” – not a discussion topic. Flanking his PM in the photo opportunity, is Angus, “Squizzy” Taylor, our federal energy enforcer. Was he in witness protection since his rout late last December’s COAG meeting? Then he refused NSW energy minister, Don Harwin’s call for a new national zero emissions policy?

“Industry is spooked by poor policy”, Harwin holds; a circuit-breaker is needed. Squizzy shoots him down. Out of order.

December’s COAG meeting does not even hear NSW’s point of view. Taylor tells Harwin to zip it, citing procedural grounds. Vetoes discussion. “It got ugly very quickly. It was a full-on revolt”, a source tells Fairfax, now Nine Newspapers.

Happily Craig Kelly’s not worried. “I know how [Taylor’s] mind works”, he explains to Guardian Australia’s Katharine Murphy. Murphy wisely leaves this alone. On Sky, Taylor won’t divulge how many Coalition coal projects are planned but Matt Canavan blabs that the government is looking at including ten in the underwriting scheme. Someone needs to talk to Canavan but only after voters are sold on the wave of jobs that will flow from so many new automated hell-holes and black-lung health hazards.

But it’s not Handbrake Kelly’s backbench committee to abort any change in energy or environment that Morrison really needs to win over. Nor is it the cabal of climate deniers Buzzfeed dubbed “The Dirty Dozen”, in 2016. Still in parliament, at least until May, are Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz, Craig Kelly, Zed Seselja, Peter Dutton, Barnaby Joyce and George Christensen. Senator Linda Reynolds must surely get a Dirty Dozen supporter lapel pin for disinformation,

“Remember when the coalition repealed the carbon tax? It led to the largest fall of electricity prices on record,” she lies.

ScoMo’s Snowy Hydro 2.0 reboot is a bid to woo Kooyong, Warringah, Wentworth, Higgins and Tasmanians who’ll be pumped to be included, even if they’ll have to pay for the bits to make the interlink link anywhere. Knit their own cables.

The media narrative that both major parties’ squabble threaten the development of a sound energy policy is a myth invented by those reactionaries and others who call themselves conservative parties. Conservative?

The lack of progress towards renewable energy is no fault of partisan politics or any 24-hour news cycle, but an outcome actively planned and funded by key stake-holders whose institutes, associations and think tanks enjoy remarkably success – if you can count the win of the mining lobby, (just for example), as a win and not an irretrievable, egregious loss in terms of global warming, environmental vandalism and humanity.

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