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Pell appeal verdict unleashes a perfect storm for our Tory ruling class

Head bowed, a manacled cardinal is led hobbling out of court into a prison van, a shocking image calculated to rock our nation’s Tories to the core, last Wednesday, as Victoria’s Court of Appeal upholds Cardinal George Pell’s conviction on five counts of child sexual assault, for offences committed against two thirteen year-old altar-boys in a priest’s sacristy at St Patrick’s Church, in 1996 and 1997, whilst Pell was still Archbishop of Melbourne.

By Sunday, thank God and Rupert Murdoch, it’s all OK – at least, in Australia’s News Corp-led “mainstream media” as our corporate, oligarchical, media tribe is typically misnamed, whose stories quickly turn a convicted predator into an innocent victim. OK, too, in our progressive, post-modern, post fact, Trumpian universe of discourse, our collective, international pandemic of unreason led by lords of misrule from Boris to Bolsonaro to The Donald.

Bugger the facts, it’s the vibe that counts. As former PM Turnbull, pre-knifing by Scott Morrison, told Glyn Davis, Vice Chancellor of The University of Melbourne when Davis challenged Turnbull’s spin that all was rosy between town and gown. Davis dared air his heretical view that collaboration between business and university was crap.

“This is, by the way, you running against the vibe. You haven’t got the new zeitgeist. The new zeitgeist, Glyn, is to believe in yourself, is to have a go.”  Did Mal’s liberating ideology help spawn ScoMo’s “have a go to get a go”?

Bugger “police, the prosecutors, the courts, the jury system, the burden of proof and the entire rule of law. In its place is the new primacy of feelings: they feel Pell must not be guilty, therefore he is innocent. All else — most significantly, the fully tested testimony of the victim that they have never seen — gives way before their emotional need.” writes Crikey’s legal beagle, Michael Bradley. Above all, our establishment must protect one of its own.

Pell can’t be guilty: he’s part of the power elite, as untouchable as Casino King, James Murdoch. Pell’s protection is necessary to preserve the power of our monocultural bunyip aristocracy. However, it’s a secular crusade now, David Marr reflects. “Rome somewhere in the past few years lost the power” to protect men like Pell.

Above all, however, is the political purpose served by the all-consuming pseudo-debate over Pell’s innocence, a diversion adroitly exploited by a Coalition keen to soft-pedal its announcement that it is eagerly doing the US bidding; taking up gunboat diplomacy in the Persian Gulf because this will help “de-escalate tensions”.

Foreign Minister, Marise Payne keeps a straight face on ABC Insiders, Sunday; farcically claiming we are part of an “international mission” which is “modest, meaningful and time-limited”. In reality, we are offering Trump a blank cheque. It’s all about restoring “rules-based order and the rule of law”. No-one mentions the fact that we are about to break international law. Trump’s administration clearly hankers for the good old days when it ran Iran.

With British help, America overthrew Iran’s democratically elected conservative Prime Minister, Mohammad Mossadegh’s nationalist parliamentary government, in 1953, to install Shah Reza Pahlavi, a dictator who gave 40% of Iran’s oil concessions to US oil companies. America supported the corrupt dictator until his overthrow by a popular mass movement in 1979. As punishment, the US backed Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the Iran–Iraq War, 22 September 1980- 20 August 1988.

It is estimated one million Iranians died defending their country. Up to half a million Iraqis also lost their lives.

The international team comprises ourselves, the Great Satan, as Iran once called the US, Little Britain under Boris Johnson, a professional clown, now playing Albion’s accidental PM and Human Rights Watch pin-up, Bahrain, a state of unabated repression whose rulers’ crack-down on dissent has eliminated all opposition banned independent media and peaceful dissidents are roughed up, arrested, prosecuted and stripped of their citizenship.

Clearly, there’s a bit our government could yet learn from Bahrain and embedding our troops with theirs is a move guaranteed to bring mutual enlightenment, the rule of law and stability to a region where eighty million Iranians are starved of daily necessities from food to medicines as a result of forty years of US sanctions.

It’s possible, of course, that the sudden appearance of an Australian cruiser in January 2020 “for six months” or a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft to the Middle East for one month “before the end of 2019” will prove immensely re-assuring to Iran’s government and cause citizens to hi-five and hug each other in sheer relief.

Aussie diggers posted to Bahrain, super-charged with ANZAC can-do, could repair the nation’s moral high ground.

Luckily for Morrison’s government, the Cardinal Pell in the Pokey show is the perfect distractor; a timely bit of cultural warfare guaranteed to upstage any grovelling capitulation to the whims of hawks such as Bolton or Pompeo who run demented Donald Trump and his mad, neo-con, anti-Iranian, administration.

Hard right hacks, Andrew Bolt, Miranda Devine, Bettina Arndt rush to defend Pell. Left out of the moral outrage are the 1900 child sex-offenders, identified in Australian Catholic churches, whose 4,444 victims were on average under twelve years old, according to the 2016 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to child sexual abuse. Eclipsed almost entirely, is the suffering of thousands of abused children; or how their lives were ruined.

And who knows how many victims there are in the sexual abuse of nuns by priests, abuse which Pope Francis acknowledged last February? Catholic women are speaking out, too, under the #NunsToo hashtag. In the meantime, a sanctification of Pell proceeds, by some of our best and finest reactionary media mavens.

Poor George, whose Dad, a Ballarat publican, David Marr reports, ran an SP book from the public bar of The Royal Oak, from 1953 to 1976, becomes, by mythic invention, an icon of apostolic poverty, humility, chastity and saintly compassion who will appeal to The High Court. The magical thinking of his backers has him acquitted already.

A man of such grace and standing (Peter Kidd, Chief Judge at his sentencing commented on his “staggering arrogance”, in committing crimes he thought he could get away with), will automatically be granted leave to appeal. But in the eternal interim, the very idea of a fallen Pell is a monstrous offence against nature.

Worse, the appeal judgement is a heresy right up there with Aurecon’s shunning of Adani, a move which resources High Priest, Matt Canavan says is as “weak as piss” before calling on the energy oligopoly to shun and shame Aurecon. The Australian and others in the stable eagerly recycle the lie of Pell’s unblemished record.

Yet there is no question that Pell is the reactionaries’ reactionary, a one-stop shop for any crusade against change.

Pell held that abortion was “a worse moral scandal than priests sexually abusing young people.” is Papal-royalty. Boys driven to take their own lives through homophobia only had themselves to blame, Pell maintained;

It is another reason to be discouraging people going in that direction. Homosexual activity is a much greater health hazard than smoking.”

Pell denounces concern about climate change as “a symptom of pagan emptiness” The Greens? “Anti-Christian”.

Pell’s perspective on accountability is clear in his view, given in 2014, that “the church’s responsibility to those abused by priests is comparable to the responsibility of a trucking company to a hitchhiker raped by a trucker.”

Monday, Pell’s media acquittal continues. The Australian’s Mirko Bagaric blusters… it debases the legal and democratic process for anyone to insist — as a few prominent commentators have in recent days — that it is impertinent to believe that Cardinal George Pell is innocent despite losing his case in the Victorian Court of Appeal.

News Corp’s contempt for the rule of law is as staggering as the propaganda it peddles to buy its monstrous power. Its defence of St George, moreover, reveals Australia’s follow-the-leader-media rushing pell-mell to fall in behind Papal knight Sir Rupert’s News Corp’s Cardinal-as-Victim story-tellers.

Part of this narrative involves appeals to sympathy for “an old sick man” “who might well die in gaol” as the current Archbishop of Melbourne, Peter Comensoli tells 3AW’s Neil Mitchell. Bizarrely, Comensoli maintains Pell is innocent – and the victim is telling the truth too. It was another priest who committed the sexual abuse.

Easy for a thirteen year-old altar boy to get one 190 cm priest mixed up with another.

The Sydney Morning Herald, The Australian and the odd guest on The Drum hold that Judge Weinberg’s dissenting view is the only one that matters or proof that our legal system is broken and or grounds for High Court appeal.

Paradoxically, another part of the story is that Pell is Australia’s most senior cleric, internationally renowned, a pal of Rupert Murdoch’s, a tall poppy cut down in his prime. The facts suggest otherwise.

At the end, Pell’s power in the Vatican rapidly waned, despite a promising start in modelling austerity by big spending. Outrage broke out over his choice of a 5100 euro a month apartment requiring he spend 87,000 on new furniture; employing an assistant on a 21,600 a month salary and even 6,650 euros on kitchen sink fittings.

Somehow word got out to Italy’s L’Espresso weekly of detailed opposition to Pell’s financial reform; not helped by his Secretariat for the Economy racking up a half-million dollars in expenditures in the last six months.

True, Pell rose to become Cardinal, but Francis, shrewdly diverted the ambitious antipodean prelate into the Sisyphean labour of draining the swamp of the Vatican’s scandalous financial mess, an impossible task – and one fraught with peril, for anyone, let alone a boy from Ballarat, who knew neither Vatican culture nor the rudiments of diplomacy or tact, author of The Melbourne Response, another monumental failure of Christian charity and human compassion which capped compensation clerical sexual abuse victims at $50,000.

They saw him coming, a retired priest says on The Drum. Rubbed them up the wrong way say Vatican insiders. Francis himself believes “Behind rigidity something always lies hidden,” he says. “In many cases, a double life.”

But nothing may detract from the Tory postmodern narrative of St George The Martyr. A man as powerful as Pell, a priest who could command a character reference from a former Prime Minister, (gasp) just cannot be guilty. The Pell pillar must be protected or the entire edifice of conservatism may be revealed to be rotten to the core.

It’s a monstrous spectacle made all the more shocking, somehow, by technical glitches which cause the live broadcast to freeze, the court website to crash and by appellant judge, Chief Justice, Anne Ferguson’s funereal delivery which brings “all the drama of a dead wombat to reading a summary of one of the most important criminal judgments of the year”, reports seasoned legal commentator, lawyer and writer, Richard Ackland.

The Tory world is in turmoil. Right-wing hacks and flacks led by News Corp, nutcase Andrew Bolt, thresh about protesting victim Pell’s innocence, slagging off Victoria’s judiciary and declaring war on the rule of law.

“Never any hope of justice for George Pell. He was too big a scalp for the howling mob,” tweets Bettina Arndt.

Could a Cardinal be so publicly undone? Could a high priest of our ruling elite, a fully-paid member of the board of Reactionary Australia Inc. be brought to heel? Could our rulers be held accountable? Perish the thought. Look at Crown.

The kid gloves are on in the federal government’s treatment of St James Packer’s Crown Casino where there is report from a whistle-blower that ought to be hair-raising. It’s a whale of a tale of high-rollers being fast-tracked through immigration, equipped with escorts before a restorative punt is followed up by a refreshing wildlife shoot.

Crown is a cathedral to our new age of mad depravity, infinitely more popular than any offering of the Catholic Church and more powerful. Crown’s backers rule our politics as the gun lobby does America’s, as former Victorian Premier John Cain observes.

Cain, whose government decided as early as 1983 that to build a casino would be to invite organised crime, warned of the power, grace and charm of casino lobbyists in 1990,  “Within three weeks of me going in August 1990, they had not only battered the doors down, but they were in the lounge room pissing on the furniture.”

Sensibly, heeding their mandate from silent Australians to leave no depth unplumbed, the Morrison government summons a toothless watchdog, no-one’s ever heard of.

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI), a Clayton’s investigator, is agreed upon by both major parties, to allow our gambling lobby to continue to uplift the moral tone of the nation, growing jobs and building wealth, especially in the off-shore bank accounts of Crown Casino and its coterie of money-launderers.

Conspiracy theorists swarm to depict poor, vulnerable Georgie Boy as the innocent victim of a Gillard-leftist-Victoria Police-Nine News plot. In the midst of this fertile, national conversation, Scott Morrison shrewdly chooses to announce he’s just engulfed us in another US oil war which his BFF, another vainglorious lout, the dangerously demented Donald Trump is brewing up against arch-fiend Iran in the Straits of Hormuz.

“200 troops”, he says out of the corner of his mouth. “Limited to six months,” he says. “Or longer, as the case may be” he says, skipping away.  Marise Payne, repeats his de-escalation double-speak, almost word-perfect as so sundry other MPs as interviews are merely an excuse for the re-iteration of central minders’ talking points.

Happily, the week brings the anniversary of Scott Morrison’s hugely undistinguished year in office, after knifing Malcolm Turnbull in a double, double-cross. His government has no energy, no environment, no economic or climate change policies, no vision and no shame. But it’s cranking up Robo-debt to go after elderly age pensioners. That blessed surplus won’t accrue all by itself.

No-one in government fusses over the two thousand who die after receiving Robo-debt letters between July 2016 and October 2018.  It’s not difficult to envisage a link between their deaths and the debt letters.

Yet Morrison is now the best PM ever, according to the worst, “lying rodent” John Howard, the PM who did most to unpick the threads of a prosperous, progressive, cosmopolitan and egalitarian society and who lied to parliament and people that he had legal opinion to join the illegal US war in Iraq.

Howard also wrote a glowing reference for George Pell.

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Morrison’s monumental dysfunctional Pacific “family” failure

No matter how much money you put on the table it doesn’t give you the excuse not to do the right thing, which is cutting down your emissions, including not opening your coalmines.”  (Enele Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, 14 August 2019).

“Shove a sock down the throat of Jacinda Ardern” – urges Alan Bedford Jones, 2GB Sydney’s sock-shock jock, another former, failed, Liberal Party candidate and inveterate misogynist,Thursday, as New Zealand’s PM supports Pacific Islanders’ global warming concerns, endorsing the resolutions of all but one of the eighteen countries and territories of this week’s 50th Pacific Islands Forum, (PIF) meeting in Tuvalu’s capital, Funafuti.

Left on its own, promoting global warming is Australia. Ms Ardern says, diplomatically, that our land down-under can answer to the Pacific for itself. New Zealand, or Aotearoa, as its Maori people named it, commonly translated as land of the long white cloud, or, continuously clear light is doing what it can to limit its carbon emissions to 1.5C.

Ms Ardern expects all nations to make a similar commitment but will not lecture others.

Rabid climate change denier Jones turns puce. He rants; spits foam at the microphone. Does ScoMo’s office tell Jones to put the boot in? For Jones and his audience – and, indeed, for much of Morrison’s government, global warming, is a hoax. And an aberration, a perversion of reason. The notion is an unnatural hoax, as is the monstrous regiment of women who dare to demand their fair share of political power from blokes.

“Here she is preaching on global warming and saying that we’ve got to do something about climate change,” Jones harangues listeners from his bully pulpit. His signature outbursts of outrage, his demonising and his scapegoating are his own take on Orwell’s two-minute hate. Jones down low may be heard playing daily in all the best dementia wards in hospitals all over Sydney. Thursday, Jones goes off like a frog in a sock.

Preaching? It’s precisely what the Kiwi PM takes pains to avoid, but Jones rarely lets fact spoil his argument.

New Zealand has cows that burp and fart, he sneers, in a rare, brief, departure into scientific truth.

Jones role has little to do with reporting and even less with respecting fact. In the 1990 cash for comment scandal, where he and John Laws were found to have accepted money from a slew of corporations, QANTA, Optus, Foxtel, Mirvac and big banks, the jocks’ defence was that they were not employed as journalists, but as “entertainers” and thus had no duty of disclosure or of journalistic integrity. Yet Jones hopes the PM is briefed,

“I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat.”

Outraged by Ardern’s audacity – as much as the fact that she’s a Jezebel – a woman brazenly asserting authority, independence and leadership, Jones works up a lather. Arden’s an impudent hypocrite, he squawks. Australia act responsibly or answer to the Pacific on policy? Accountability is heresy in ScoMo’s government. Perhaps Jones hopes that his “sock it to her” will be an Aussie form of “send her back”.

Sending Kiwis home, if Peter Dutton doesn’t like the look of them, is at least one Morrison government policy that’s coherent. Repatriation on “character” grounds saw a thousand forcible deportations between 2016-2018. Under Morrison as Immigration Minister in 2014, the policy was expanded to include all those Kiwi-born residents who’d been sentenced to twelve months or more in prison.

Many of those deported under the “character test” have no family or friends in New Zealand; have extensive family ties in Australia and have spent very little time in New Zealand, having arrived in Australia as children.

It’s another source of friction between Australia, its major trading partner, despite China (NZ$15.3bn) now having eclipsed Australia (NZ$13.9bn) as New Zealand’s biggest export market.

Friday, Jones’ sock-jock mockery continues. “The parrot” ridicules one of New Zealand’s most popular and effective Prime Ministers; alleging Ms Ardern is “a clown” and a “joke” for “preaching about climate change”, claiming, falsely, that New Zealand’s carbon dioxide has increased per capita more than Australia’s since 1990.

The Parrot’s problems with women in power, rival those of the Liberal Party itself. Worrying aloud in 2012 about our Pacific policy and how “women were wrecking the joint” during Gillard’s highly successful minority government, Jones said he was “putting Julia Gillard into a chaff bag and hoisting her into the Tasman Sea”.

Gillard’s government invested $320 million in promoting Pacific Island women’s role in business and politics.

“She said that we know societies only reach their full potential if women are politically participating,” he shrieked in utter disbelief to listeners during an on-air hate update from Barnaby Joyce about the sale of Cubbie Station to a Chinese-led consortium.

“$320 million could have bought the 93,000 hectare Cubbie Station and its water rights, he reckoned. Kept it in Australian hands. There’s no chaff bag big enough for these people.”

“Women are destroying the joint – Christine Nixon in Melbourne, Clover Moore here. Honestly.”

Gillard’s father John a former psychiatric nurse who passed away at 83, “died of shame”, he added in 2012, “To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament.”

Also socking it to Jacinda, Jones is joined in combat by another Liberal supporter and climate denialist, One Nation’s resident empiricist, Malcolm Roberts, who knows how much Kiwis love sheep jokes.

“New Zealand has over 60 million sheep. Sheep produce about 30 litres of methane a day. If Ardern was serious about addressing ‘climate change’ shouldn’t she start by culling the entire sheep population of NZ? Or is she just climate gesturing?”

Roberts is wrong in several respects as an AAP fact check demonstrates. He can’t count sheep. New Zealand’s official data agency, Stats NZ, reports the most recent farm census, conducted in 2017, records 27.5 million sheep in the country. A 2018 provisional update reports a drop to 27.3 million.

Nor are sheep the major culprits. New Zealand’s Greenhouse Gas Inventory for 2017, released in April 2019, shows sheep produced 12.7 per cent of the country’s greenhouse gas emissions. Dairy cattle accounted for 22.5 per cent, while electricity generation created 4.4 per cent.

Above all, this year, New Zealand introduced a bill to reduce emissions of methane by animals to 10 per cent below 2017 levels by 2030, and between 24 and 47 per cent below 2017 levels by 2050.

Fellow climate science denier, Mick-Mack, as Coach ScoMo calls our deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, must grab a headline to delay being deposed by Barnaby Joyce. Mick-Mack chimes in with a killer argument. Lenore Taylor says on ABC Insiders Sunday, that he couldn’t be more “offensive or paternalistic” if he tried. Itinerant Pacific Islander fruit-pickers, he says, should thank their lucky Aussie stars.

“They will continue to survive,” the part-time Elvis impersonator says in his most tone-deaf, judgemental manner. “There’s no question they’ll continue to survive and they’ll continue to survive on large aid assistance from Australia. They’ll continue to survive because many of their workers come here and pick our fruit.”

And our tomatoes – for eight dollars an hour, as reported in the recent settlement of a case on behalf of fifty workers from Vanuatu, who suffered bleeding from the nose and ears after exposure to chemicals at a farm near Shepparton under the government’s seasonal worker programme.

Brisbane based Agri Labour Australia refuses to admit liability, even after being taken to court and even after agreeing to an undisclosed financial settlement. The Fair Work Ombudsman takes separate legal action. This results in nineteen workers being compensated $50,283 for wage theft – a crime rife in our migrant workforce be it in horticulture or in hospitality.  No records were kept of the workers’ labour over six months.

Seasonal worker and father of six ,Silas Aru, worked for six months, yet was paid a mere $150 in total in farms across Queensland – also as part of a government seasonal workers’ or slave labour scheme. Federal Circuit Court Justice, Michael Jarratt​ struggled to imagine a “more egregious” case of worker exploitation.

Exploited to the point of criminal neglect or abuse, men and women from the Pacific Islands are often the slaves in our nation’s overworked, underpaid, casual or part-time workforce. Mick-Mack knows how to pick ’em. Rip off the vulnerable. Trick them. Rob them blind. Then remind them what a favour you are doing them.

As the bullying of the Pacific Island leaders rapidly turns into an unmitigated disaster, something must be done. ScoMo’s staff work long and hard to orchestrate a shit-storm in response. It’s specialised work. Howard allegedly had an operative in his office solely working on “Alan Jones issues” throughout his term in office, former 2UE Jones colleague and big critic Mike Carlton tells The Saturday Paper’s Martin McKenzie-Murray.

Jones’s confected outrage is a tactical dead cat thrown on the table; distracting media from ScoMo & Co’s default policy of bullying and duplicity. Con-man Morrison promises $500 million over five years for “climate and disaster resilience” but it’s an accounting trick; a shonky repackaging of existing aid. No-one falls for it.

Pacific leaders are insulted, alienated by Morrison’s attempt to con them with a fake bribe. Our PM adds injury to insult by adding a bit of emotional blackmail.  Fijian PM, Frank Bainimarama explains.

“The PM … apparently [backed] into a corner by the leaders, came up with how much money Australia have been giving to the Pacific.” He said: “I want that stated. I want that on the record.’ Very insulting.”

Bainimarama is ropeable. By Saturday, he is all over the media after phoning Guardian Australia. ScoMo’s “condescending” diplomacy is as much of a massive fail as his government’s energy or environment policy or overseas aid abroad vacuums. The Fijian PM is clear that by alienating and insulting Pacific Islanders, ScoMo is helping drive the leaders into the arms of the Chinese. In other words, Morrison’s mission is a total failure.

Kick Australia out of the PIF, calls Anote Tong, former president of Kiribati, and veteran advocate for nations battling rising sea-levels caused by global warming. Australia’s membership of the Pacific Island Forum should be “urgently reviewed” for possible sanctions or suspension over the Morrison government’s pro-coal stance, he says. There’s a precedent. Fiji was barred until recently in a move to censure its departure from democracy.

(PIF) … is supposed to be about the well-being of the members,” Tong tells The Sun-Herald and Sunday Age“If one country causes harm to other nations, such as by fuelling climate change, “there should be sanctions”.

“Pacific people see through this facade. We won’t solve the climate crisis by just adapting to it – we solve it by mitigating it, reducing emissions, investing and transitioning to renewables, not shirking our moral duty to fight,” Greenpeace’s Head of Pacific Joseph Moeono-Kolio says. But our federal government just doesn’t get it.

ScoMo started badly by opting for antagonism and insult. Sending junior minister, coal lobby shill, Alex Hawke on ahead to set up talks did not go over well. Hawke recycles denialist garbage. Human influence on global warming is “overblown” he reckons, while in Tuvalu, he peddles the lie that our economy depends on coal.

In reality, the Morrison government’s dance to the tune of the coal barons costs us a fortune. Avoiding climate change reduces our GDP, by $130 billion a year, reports The Australia Institute, citing calculations by government consultant, Brian Fisher. Yet in the reporting of the Forum, our media helpfully relay the government’s re-framing of our global warming crisis into a choice between jobs or a few more emissions.

We are “family” insists Great White Bwana Morrison. A dysfunctional family where a crafty Father Morrison tells the younger fry lies. The Greens Adam Bandt puts his finger on it. Our wretched carry-over Kyoto credits are yet another shonky accounting trick to allow ScoMo to continue his hollow boast that “we’ll meet and beat” our Paris emissions reduction targets. The stunt certainly does not impress beleaguered Pacific leaders.

“At the moment we are not on track to meet the Paris targets. No one in the world is. We are on track to exceed 3.5 degrees of global warming, which will be a catastrophe. The Pacific Island leaders know this.”

Exploiting “a pollution loophole” is how The Australia Institute (TAI) describes Australia’s bad faith. The “pollution loophole” amounts to about eight years of fossil-fuel emissions from the Pacific and New Zealand combined, calculates, TAI, in a research paper it helpfully makes available to leaders before the Forum. The paper pulls no punches from its title onward: How Australia is robbing the Pacific of its climate change efforts.

Worse, it spells out how Islanders are paying for our denialism. Australia intends to use 367 Mt of carbon credits to avoid the majority of emission reductions pledged under its Paris Agreement target. Meanwhile, the entire annual emissions from the Pacific Islands Forum members, excluding Australia, is only about 45 Mt.

The bad faith continues. ScoMo & Co coerce Island leaders into watering down the text of their draft declaration. Or so it seems, unless you are tuned to Radio New Zealand. Local reports have it that after twelve hours, the PIF comes up with a hollow text that mimics the Coalition’s own climate change denialism.

Pacific leaders released a draft declaration in Tuvalu, Tuesday, calling for “an immediate global ban on the construction of new coal-fired power plants and coalmines” and for all countries “to rapidly phase out their use of coal in the power sector”. It echoes the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call last May.

All references to coal go from the forum communique and climate change statement. Expunged also, are any aims to limit warming to less than 1.5C or any commitment to a plan for net zero emissions by 2050.

Naturally, the Pacific leaders have the nous to issue their own separate declaration with targets which echo its draft statement and which follow the lead of the United Nations, sadly, a body increasingly ignored – if not ridiculed – by our own government and that of its great and powerful friend the US, among a host of others.

By Saturday, Morrison’s stunt with grateful fruit-picker and sock back-up is unravelling badly. Promising to be “a good friend, partner and brother of Pacific Island countries” is China’s special envoy to the Pacific, ambassador Wang Xuefeng, who is quick to exploit the rift between Australia and its Pacific neighbours.

Morrison insists the Forum is a “family gathering” and that “when families come together they talk about the stuff that matters, that’s most important to them. Over the next few days that’s exactly what we’ll do.” It’s ScoMo code, Newspeak for insulting, alienating and bullying the leaders; trashing their hopes and aspirations.

Let the Pacific Islanders worry about rising sea levels and increasing salinity which is rapidly making their homes uninhabitable. In Australia, government energy policy is dictated by a powerful coal lobby – with powerful allies in the media. The PM who brings a lump of coal into parliament also has an assistant recruited from Peabody Coal and has his fossil-fuel lobby and a daft hard right with the upper hand in mind all week.

The Prime Minister’s performance at the Pacific Islands Forum is a monumental failure. Even if his bullying, his intransigence, his inhumanity and chicanery do impress a few one-eyed partisans at home it has dealt irreparable damage to our goodwill in the Pacific, which has not really recovered since the Abbott government  cut $11bn from overseas aid in 2015, a cut which the budgie-smuggler insisted was “modest”.

Fears that China will exploit Australia’s neglectful – if not abusive – relationship with its Pacific neighbours are aired all week but the Morrison government isn’t listening. It does everything in its power to offend and alienate Pacific leaders as it clings to its ideological fixation with supporting a moribund coal industry at home.

Above all, enlisting or inspiring the support of Alan Jones, aka The Parrot, has helped the Morrison government shine a light on the unreason, the bullying, the racism and the misogyny which lie at its heart.

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CPAC’s travelling show can pack up and go home. And stay there.

“I’ve been to the border,” Fox TV’s Judge Jeanine Pirro says. US citizens living there talk of “rape trees” upon which the clothes of rape victims are hung she says. They talk of children having their hearts cut out with machetes. The US, as Donald Trump regularly tweets, is under siege; its way of life threatened by an invasion of rapists from south of the border. Trump’s re-election campaign team repeats the siege message 2199 times in paid Facebook ads since January.

Welcome to the Conservative Political Action Conference or CPAC ‘s travelling show, a rabble of far right US fear-mongers, liars and conspiracy crackpots convinced by Trump’s canard that George Soros or The Democrats fund the migrant caravan. It’s a popular idea which provokes distrust and permits inhumanity.

Peter Dutton expresses similar ideas regarding our refugees on Manus and Nauru. He claims they are “economic refugees” who own “Armani jeans and handbags”.

Add the odd stray Brexiteer and sundry alt-right camp followers. Blend in two, confused members of the Morrison government, Craig Kelly and Amanda Stoker, bestowing a type of legitimacy -and presto -we have a three-day bag-fest of racist hatred, intolerance and ignorance vital to any healthy democracy. Or so our Federal government insists.

CPAC’s enriched US politics. It helped launch Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump, two useful idiots who could attract, repel or just distract the masses while lowering taxes and elevating naked greed; allowing finance, business, mining and gambling get everything they want. It’s a recipe for success that the Morrison government is following religiously.

The gory border story is a fiction told by Trump buddy Judge Jeanine. It’s all part of the enriching offerings to a conference which our Coalition government has sagely declared not to be white hate speech at all. Nope. Nope. Nope.

CPAC’s the voice of sweet reason itself, a symposium vital to any free speech-embracing democracy to add to its community conversation about why we should hate Mexican rapists, child-murderers and fear refugee-invasion. In local content, Craig Kelly MP says the CSIRO should go to jail for its science and calls for us to embrace nuclear power plants.

How good is the power of the nuclear energy industry?

Pirro’s in Sydney to help spread hate and fear at CPAC, a forum for the lunatic right, which began in 1974, with a speech from Ronald Reagan who entered national politics ten years earlier after a televised address promoting Barry Goldwater. Reagan’s talk did not help Goldwater win the election. Oddly, voters saw Barry as a dangerous, right-wing extremist.

True, Goldwater did want to nuke Hanoi. But this strategy was also advocated in 1965 by the US military’s Joint Chiefs during Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, Daniel Ellsberg reports, a plan, he believes, which was aimed at provoking a nuclear war with China. The Joint Chiefs envisaged a big show which would need 500,000 to a million troops.

Even more oddly, Johnson said no. He chose to do some socially useful projects. His Great Society and War on Poverty.

All was not lost, however. California’s business elite saw in Reagan a man with the charm to sell right-wing extremism. Reagan was duly recruited as Republican Party candidate for Governor of California. He won easily by promising tax cuts. His victory was helped by a smear campaign against his opponent, Pat Brown. Trump’s rise to power has many parallels.

Star of her own Fox reality TV show, Justice with Judge Jeanine, Pirro is more than an incendiary hate-speaker, she’s a total pyromaniac. Her role as a tireless Trump cheer-leader has helped her to rebuild her TV career after a setback in the 1990s when her ex-husband Al Pirro, a Trump power-broker, went to jail for conspiracy and tax evasion.

Trump’s a HUGE fan. Not only does their friendship go back decades, the pair enjoy what The Washington Post’s Sarah Ellison calls “transactional loyalty”, a concept well understood by Morrison and Liberal Party leadership strategists.

“She’s as sexy as hell,” Trump tells New York Magazine; Pirro’s show is a relentless defence of everything Trump, but this week, she’s in Sydney spreading a type of lie that inflames prejudice and helps incite violence. Invasion is a fixation in the online manifesto of Patrick Crusius, the 21 year old who is accused of killing 22 people in a Texas Wal-Mart.

Headline speakers, such as Pirro, peddle xenophobia, bigotry, misogyny, hatred and work themselves into a lather with their lurid anti-immigrant, anti-Hispanic murder and rape fantasies in a ballroom set up with brown vinyl chairs at Sydney’s Rydge’s World Square Hotel, Friday to Sunday. But it’s not all rabid hate-speaking. Organisers thoughtfully include some local comic talent. Clown duo, Mark Latham and Ross Cameron, for example, do the warm-up.

Boosted as the largest gathering of conservatives in Australia, in fact it’s tiny; roughly one tenth of the size of all registered Tasmanian Organ Donors or 0.17% of the Melbourne Cricket Club’s waiting list.

But size doesn’t matter. Organisers have deep pockets; grand plans. CPAC’s powerful backers tell The Guardian’s Michael McGowan, they are committed to making the event a “multi-year, forever-type project” aimed at “galvanising” the right wing of Australian politics. Why not? Luigi Galvani even made dead frogs’ legs twitch by applying an electric current.

CPAC’s a show that ScoMo & Co sagely decide we all need to see. In fact, there are more than a few members of the government mad keen to attend – but don’t for a moment think MPs’ attendance is any endorsement, cautions failed Dutton coup numbers man, Matthias Cormann. No? Nor does it add any legitimacy to see George Christensen in the crowd, Jim Molan, former deputy PM National Party hack and mining shill John Anderson with Tony Abbott on stage.

Liberal Party MP when he’s not doing stand-up comedy, Craig Kelly’s a crack-up with his routine about how Tony Abbott won the Coalition’s election for it by attracting all the “crazies” to Warringah. “Took the bullets” for the others, he says, in what has to be least well-judged metaphor of the week. But wait. There’s more. Kelly says CSIRO ought to be in jail.

He accuses the science agency of a “bogus report” on energy costs because its 2018 report finds solar and wind generation technologies are the cheapest power stations to “build new”. CSIRO, of course, is correct. So, too is The Climate Council which reports Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s conclusion,

“Due to the continued fall in the cost of wind and solar, as well as the higher international price for black coal, it is now the same cost or cheaper to build a new wind or solar plant in Australia than to continue operating old coal power stations in New South Wales and Queensland.”

“If an ASX-listed company said that in an annual report, they would likely end up in jail because of how misleading it is,” Kelly claims modelling, himself, the sort of wilful disinformation he tries to rail against.

Meanwhile, Federal Energy Minister, the Watergate and Grass-gate survivor, Angus Gravy-train, Taylor is forming “a new taskforce” to pressure AGL to keep coal-fired Liddell power station open. It’s all part of ScoMo & Co’s big-stick approach.

Taylor says his taskforce, to be set up in partnership with the NSW Government, will consider “all options” – Liberal code for putting on blinkers; propping up coal. He does not rule out using taxpayer money to extend the life of the plant. AGL responds by pointing out that doing so would cost “a lot of money” and any such move “does not stack up.”

The IMF reports that the Australian tax-payer is already subsidising fossil-fuel industries to the tune of $29 billion a year.

In the CPAC spirit of personalised ridicule, Kelly has a presentation trophy to award to Labor Senator, Kristina Keneally.

“This is the CPAC Freedom Award, which goes to the individual who has done the most to promote the CPAC conference,” Kelly tells about 200 attendees. Thigh-slapping hilarity erupts on one side only.  Keneally sees it as part of a Two-minute Hate and straight from the pages of George Orwell’s dystopian vision of the future 1984.

“It’s uncanny how much CPAC is exactly what it claims to oppose,” Keneally tweets. “They are … spending all day yelling about their ‘enemies’. This is exactly how people under totalitarian regimes behave.” And key National Party figures.

Farmers’ friend and champion of the man on the land, John Anderson was chairman of coal seam gas frontrunner Eastern Star Gas, bought out by Santos in 2011. He’s one of a herd of former Nationals MP who model transactional loyalty, locally, despite some fuddy-duddy farmers seeing the defection from agriculture to mining as a betrayal.

Former Nationals MP, and pro-coal energy minister, Garry West ,chairs, for undisclosed sums, the Integra Vale, Ulan coal, Moorlaben coal, and the BHP Caroona Coal project, adjacent to Shenhua Watermark’s mine. It’s all part of the mining industry community consultation hoax. Former Nat, Larry Anthony, a former Shenhua Watermark lobbyist, was an advocate for a coal mine which was recently in the news for rigging the storage volume of underground aquifers.

“The values used were implausibly high based on our research,” Ian Acworth, UNSW Emeritus Professor, says in May.

Asking the questions, always more engaging than a talk, Ando interviews his old pal Abbo – who makes a double debut as ex-MP, and ex-PM. Australia is now a nation that offers “death on demand” warns the former minister for women, a master of the hollow three word slogan.

In NSW, an abortion law reform bill which has yet to pass the upper house, had been sprung on voters. “No due consultation”, protests the former PM who sprang a postal vote on marriage equality on the entire nation rather than face a divided party room. Victoria’s recent, assisted dying law proves we’ve lost our moral anchor points. Christianity used to anchor our morality, asserts Abbott, whose former spiritual mentor and adviser was Cardinal George Pell.

Death on demand? Lost moral anchor? “It’s pretty rich”, writes Junkee’s Joseph Earp, “coming from a man who helped speed along an environmental apocalypse that will cost the lives of animals and humans alike.”

“Faith is a gift,” Abbott offers generously. “Some people have it, some people don’t.” Go bite an onion.

Recording or photographing Abbott’s riff is forbidden. He insists. Some of the small audience applaud. The left, he says, opaquely, is wallowing in identity. Wallowing. “Spiritually we’ve rarely been worse off than we are now,” he adds for good measure, perhaps, a typically public-spirited projection of his own long, dark, night of the soul.

Equally benighted but in Australia’s post-modern under-paid, casual, part-time workplace where wage theft is rife, Queensland senator, Amanda Stoker drones on about how industrial relations means labour hire and localised enterprise-bargaining, a vision of the future, surely, now that the government has its Ensuring Integrity bill through the lower house. The cross-bench will be sure to fall in line, especially if demon union thug John Setka’s name is mentioned.

But don’t get the wrong idea. So the government is cosying up to the lunar right in public? Don’t mean a thing. OK? But it does lend a dangerous legitimacy to the lunar right, as Jason Wright thoughtfully observes in The Guardian.

Raheem Kassam, a former Breitbart London editor who calls the Muslim holy book, the Quran, “fundamentally evil”, and Islam a fascistic and totalitarian ideology,” is a “career bigot” says Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Kristina Keneally. Last month, Keneally unsuccessfully asked that he be denied entry to the country.

Friday, in a speech largely devoted to attacking Kenneally and accusing her of putting his life in danger, Kassam says,

“She should be ashamed of herself … There’s nothing Christian about silencing your opposition,” he says, preferring an ad hominem attack on Senator Keneally and her Catholic beliefs, to any reasoned rebuttal. Kassam illustrates the fallacy of the Morrison government’s claim that CPAC even vaguely involves or promotes rational debate. Kenneally is closer to the mark when she describes the gathering as a “talk-fest of hate”. And anger.

Warming the chair for Sky’s David Speers, ABC Insiders’ Patricia Karvelas asks an evasive Simon Birmingham if “we are we seeing a more aggressive position taken by conservatives after the election of your government?”

Birmingham evades Karvelas’ question. He might well quibble with her misuse of the term. CPAC is conservative in name only.

Morrison’s government is cosying up in public to win votes from the radical right attending CPAC and those who share its prejudices, its racism and xenophobia. It is also being disingenuous about its motives and the effect of its attendance.

“Their attendance at this conference does not imply agreement or endorsement with the views of any of the other speakers attending in any way,” a dangerously deluded Cormann would have us believe. He fails to explain how or why not.

“The government will always stand against divisive, inflammatory commentary which seeks to incite hatred or which seeks to vilify people.”

“However the way to defeat bad ideas, bad arguments and unacceptable views is through debate, especially with those we disagree with. It is not by limiting our conversations only to those who at all times share all of our views.”

Cormann forgets Scott Morrison’s 2011 suggestion that the Coalition exploit anti-Muslim sentiment. Or when in 2015 Abbott allowed George Christensen to attend an anti-Muslim rally. Or Tony Abbott in 2015 insinuating 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.” Or when Abbott chose Syrian refugees on the basis of religion.

We could add many more examples. There’s Handy Andy Hastie’s “Islam must change.” But this just brings him into line with the budgie-smuggler who declared that Islam has a massive problem and who called for a “reformation”.

Penny Wong points out the difference between hate speech and “bad ideas.” The nonsense that any of the speakers attending is willing to enter into rational debate or is as farcical as expecting the Morrison government to heed the science on climate change or to expect Peter Dutton to retract his scare campaign on the dangers of refugees using Medevac legislation to flood our shores.  Or issue an apology for his Melbourne African gang fear-mongering.

Having Cormann lecture us on bad ideas is hilarious coming from a man who tried to make Peter Dutton PM. As for rational debate, this is the Finance Minister who claims that tax cuts for the rich stimulate the economy. Sorry Matthias, you Belgian sausage, all evidence is to the contrary – especially in Trump’s Dis-United States of America.

But it’s a top show. Sponsored mainly by US organisations and gun, oil and cigarette industries, CPAC has deep ties to the Koch brothers. Our IPA, LibertyWorks and Advance Australia are also right behind the far right.

Augmenting top acts from Trump’s America is not only “Mr Brexit” nifty Nigel Farage, former head of the United Kingdom Independence Party, introduced to the CPAC audience as “quite possibly” Britain’s next PM. Seriously?

“A snake”, hisses Nigel Farage attacking a straw man; a mythical Malcolm Turnbull who starts out all right but who engineers a serpentine leftist coup. The crowd cheers, thrilled by Nige’s Olympian detachment, halcyon objectivity and utter historical falsehood. Farage’s farrago of lies offers a ludicrous parody of the hapless captive of the right.

“Your Liberal party, your conservative movement was hijacked by the other side, taken over by Malcolm Turnbull, who pretended to be a conservative but actually turned out to be a snake.”

Wrong in fact and egregiously wrong in function, CPAC and its backers can stay at home in the USA in future. We don’t need to invite far right ideologues or neo-fascists or hate-speakers to Australia. We have enough of our own at home, already.

Nor do we need to kid ourselves that CPAC speakers are interested in debate. All we’ve seen and heard is personal abuse and an eagerness to win converts to conspiracies.

There is a world of difference between freedom of speech and being granted a licence to spread hate-speech. And the last thing our politicians need is to court the far-right or let themselves be used to legitimise your fear-mongering and your lies.

Forget the idea of a “multi-year, forever, project”. Once is way more than enough.

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Whose side are you on, ScoMo?

Describing the US-Australia alliance as “unbreakable”, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he hoped the junior ally would partner with America on “some of the most pressing foreign policy challenges of our time” including “Iran’s unprovoked attacks on international shipping in the Strait of Hormuz”.

Mike Pompeo’s press-ganging of Australia, one of its few remaining useful idiot allies, into a crazy, navy-battle with Iran is upstaged by Trump’s stupidity, surely the top “pressing foreign policy challenge of our time”, Monday, as the USA’s tariff war provokes a Chinese burn.

Beijing lets China’s currency slip below seven renminbi to the US dollar.

It’s a dip in value not seen since 2008. Instantly, $38 billion is wiped off the Australian Stock Exchange, Monday; the worst day of the year for our stock traders. Stock markets in Tokyo and Hong Kong where trade is troubled by impertinent serfs wanting independence, fall 2 percent. Futures markets suggest Wall Street will open lower, too.

Even worse, Trump’s kamikaze trade war with China is based on his peerless ignorance and delusion. Blatant falsehoods and misconceptions lead him to blow up world trade in his crusade to make America great again.

“Tariffs are NOW being paid to the United States by China of 25% on 250 Billion Dollars’ worth of goods & products,” he tweets in May. “These massive payments go directly to the Treasury of the U.S.”

They don’t. But no-one can explain that to Trump. China is as likely to hand over billions of yuan for Trump’s tariffs as Mexico is to pay for a border wall. Instead, tariffs fall on American importers of Chinese goods, who then put up prices to American consumers. Every time Trump raises tariffs, he raises costs on families and businesses.

Eager to divert the Donald, Trump’s helpers urge on an unwinnable war with Iran. Seventieth Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, a former CIA Director briefly, (January 2017 to April 2018) who is now intelligence Czar by default of the most irrational, least cerebral White House in US history, flies in, Sunday, to dine with fellow evangelical weirdo, and Trump fan-boy “Gung-Ho” Scott Morrison. Pompeo lies about Iran. Suckers us into a tanker war. It works.

“Like us the UK are equally alarmed by the increasing tensions in the Gulf region and they also strongly condemn Iran’s attacks on shipping in the Gulf of Oman, given some of their vessels have been subject to attack,” Reynolds reads aloud. Defence Ministers now simply copy and paste US spin. Presto! Instant press release. In reality, Minister Reynolds, the attacks are a response to the US persuading Britain to seize Grace 1. It is a manufactured crisis.

And it is also a folly. Trump’s Gilbertian Gulf Protection Force will fail, just as its predecessor failed thirty years ago.

Reynolds should buck the Coalition trend of ignoring expert research or history or common sense and at least read Robert Fisk who reported 30 years ago on his experience of the ill-fated first tanker war,

“What afflicted most of the seamen in the Gulf was the heat. It burnt the entire decks until they were, quite literally, too hot to walk on. British sailors stood on the edges of their shoes because of the scalding temperatures emerging from the steel. The depth-charge casings, the Bofors gun-aiming device, were too hot to touch.

On the helicopter flight deck … only a thoughtless leading hand would have touched a spanner without putting his gloves on. It created a dull head, a desperate weariness, an awesome irritation with one’s fellow humans on the foredeck.

Who cares if the last tanker war in the 1980s ended in disaster? When our great and powerful friend tells us to jump, we just ask how high. Where are the details of the flotilla of the willing? What is the battle plan? In the 1980s, Iran simply had to place a few antique mines in the water and the thin-hulled US vessels were in trouble.

A US tanker, The Bridgeton, hit a mine 24 July 1987 but was able to limp home followed by a clutch of US warships forced to steam behind for their own protection like a gaggle of ducklings behind their wounded mother duck, much to the amusement of the Iranian navy. The American humiliation will not be forgotten. Except by News Corp.

Father Paul Kelly of The Australian bloviates glowingly of a “declaration by Pompeo that the US expects all nations with commercial interests in free navigation in the Straits of Hormuz to participate in intervention against Iran to protect the waters. This has been put as a general US appeal, not an alliance issue. But past experience suggests if the US assembles a broad coalition of nations then Australia will be involved.

No-one on the ABC and no-one in government points out that there are one or two tiny hitches. The US president and Commander in Chief, Donald Trump, will not, cannot even read a briefing paper. Staffers claim he does not believe in objective reality. He gets his policy ideas from Fox News. Pompeo was brought in to clean up the mess. His job, as the New York Times puts it is to travel the world cleaning up Trump’s messes.

Trump has no clue what he is doing. He fires anyone who disagrees with him. Pompeo, who prides himself on being a Donald-whisperer is the last man standing of his original staff but Pompeo also believes in The Rapture. Iran must be crushed as part of God’s plan to send Jesus to return to a greater Israel. Trump’s current trade war with China, meanwhile, may bring world recession – yet no effort is spared to normalise the maniac.

Whilst the CIA found evidence that Saudi Crown Prince MBS ordered Washington Post journalist, Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, Pompeo told journalists there was no direct reporting that linked the prince to the order to kill Khashoggi.

Naturally, it’s a secret meeting to best serve the interests of transparency in a world run on by rules-based order. A further secret meeting follows with the PM in which he will eagerly volunteer to do anything Mike says.

Over 700,000 Australians struggle to survive on $40 dollars a day yet our government will provide $200 billion over 10 years for Australia’s military to support US wars, says the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network. (IPAN)

“Many are homeless, going without food and unable to pay for basic necessities like gas, electricity, education and health”.  The Coalition’s recent gift is $73 billion in tax free contracts to multinational weapons manufacturers.

Australia, our ABC dutifully reports, is considering a “serious and complex” request from the US to help protect oil shipments against Iranian interference in the Persian Gulf. Reynolds repeats the lie of our independence.

“We will ultimately as we always do, decide what’s in our sovereign interests.” Or whatever the US tells us to do. The word “lockstep” is used, a step above Turnbull’s image of mutually incapacitating affliction – “joined at the hip”.

The US peddles the lie that its allies have a say in its tanker wars. It’s visiting us just to check with Linda Reynolds and Marise Payne, who have no veto over ScoMo’s PM’s final call. Of course we yearn to be part of another illegal coalition of the willing. The US has not learnt a single lesson from its past disasters in the 1980s. Nor have we.

Nor has Britain, whose delusion that it is still a great naval power, helps it let itself be conned into piracy. Its seizure of Grace 1, an Iranian tanker, off Gibraltar, is illegal. It violates Part III of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Iran responds tit for tat. It seizes a British tanker, The Stena Impero, in the Strait of Hormuz, again an illegal act, but with due provocation. It is irrelevant that the tanker is attempting to breach sanctions by delivering oil to Syria. Yet there has been not a whisper of protest from our invisible Foreign Minister Payne or US toady, ScoMo.

Craig Murray, former head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and alternate head of the U.K. Delegation to the UN Preparatory Commission on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea is disgusted. He both negotiated, and drafted parts of, the Protocol that enabled the Convention to come into force.

“The hypocrisy of arresting the Iranian ship and then threatening war when Iran commits precisely the same illegal act in retaliation is absolutely sickening,” is his informed judgement. Expect a different spin from Admiral ScoMo.

Donald Trump may never grasp the gravity of the events but his minders know that the collapse of the crucial international law on passage through straits would have devastating effects on the world economy.

No-one in our MSM, apart for Phillip Adams’ guest, Christopher Dickey of The Daily Beast on ABC’s Late Night Live with 350,000 listeners a week points out that the Brits have found themselves the pawns of the Americans. Now in deep trouble, fabulously inept, new PM, Boris Johnson and his government are left on their own to work it out.

An incremental war is brewing – as it did in September 1980 turning the straits of Hormuz into Exocet ally, leading to a full scale war in 1986 and the US backing Iraq against Iran including the contra scandal.  1987 Operation Earnest Will saw US vessels outwitted by Iran and ended in another humiliation for the Reagan administration.

Under Trump’s even more inept performances as Commander in Chief, Tanker war 2.0 will also end badly for America and for those allies foolish enough to tag along.

Perhaps our talented maritime experts in the Coalition will be asked to help lobby Iran to release the Stena Impero.

“Whose side are you on”, cries ScoMo & Co all week as he is forced to turn to internal politics and jeering at Labor. The PM and his motley crew, snipe at the Opposition with a new hyper-partisan, rallying cry. Morrison loves to pretend everything is black and white. No-one will ever accuse him of sophistication, complexity or depth.

Besides, ScoMo’s got to kick up a bit of dust to cover the Crown scandal which threatens to expose ministers and staff in organising junkets to woo whales (big gamblers) from China, where gambling is illegal, to Australia and then fast-track them through Immigration to Crown Casino and more, according to whistle-blower Roman Quaedvlieg.

Attorney-General the very Christian Porter is on to it. The scandal is handballed to Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) which has jurisdiction only over law enforcement and which is so underfunded it may well have to ask Crown to look into at least some parts of itself. In the meantime, the affair is punted off limits.

Because allegations have been referred to ACLEI, it’s not proper to comment, says Mathias Cormann with a straight face, reports The Monthly’s Paddy Manning. Above all the PM “is not aware of any of his ministers breaching ministerial standards”. Not aware? To The Greens’ Nick McKim, it’s a “pathetic” response. He says the referral to ACLEI is “convenient” – given it cannot investigate sitting politicians – and calls Porter’s stunts a “cover-up”.

McKim is right on the money. Crown, however, will not so easily be dealt with given its apparent scale and given that it follows a mini-series of rollicking scandals which includes grass-gate, where Jam Land’s endangered grasslands are given a good spray of Glyphosate herbicide, despite their protected status, a scandal Angus Taylor can’t defuse even with his top suggestion that we form a committee or something to look into nuclear power stations.

Nuclear power is too expensive, takes too long to build and needs abundant water, as a series of past reviews have duly reported, but when you have no policy agenda and a cluster headache of scandals breathing down your neck, it may at least give you a breather. Or at least the Taylor family hopes so. Unhelpfully loitering the background are Reef-gate, Helloworld, Watergate and questions unanswered about a closed tender for security on Manus Island.

Crown, a big donor to both major parties, is even dubbed “The Vatican” because it is a law unto itself but although he hopes it can all be buried in a review, ScoMo throws a dead cat on the table. “Whose side are you on?” implies that Labor cannot be trusted or that the Opposition betrays the decent, quiet Australians who star in Coalition spin.

ScoMo’s politics sounds a lot like kids choosing sides in some playground game, although the least helpful thought bubble by a country mile this week has to go to troubled Terry Young, the Queensland LNP MP for Longman, who suggests in his first speech in the House of Representatives that schools should teach both sides of the climate change debate in school – to prevent them being “brainwashed with extreme left or right ideologies”.

Only it’s far more sinister. “Unfunded empathy”, is Morrison’s brave new taunt of the week. He sneers at Labor for showing compassion, he says we can’t afford – despite the IMF’s May report showing that Australian taxpayers subsidise fossil fuel industries by a whopping $29 billion a year. Raising New Start is small beer in comparison.

Yet “unfunded empathy” is worse than nonsense. It betrays Australia’s long tradition of egalitarianism and attacks the very heart of the social contract. It’s odd that a man that so publicly professes his religious faith does not seem to know the injunction that to give is to give and not to count the cost.

it’s OK for his Coalition spendthrifts to blow over $4 billion a year on Operation Sovereign borders, a fortune on paranoia, xenophobia.

“We believe what Australians believe.” Coach ScoMo tells his team they need to show voters they’re on their side when they jet home business class for their well-earned late winter break and to spend their electorate allowance.

What better way to divide a diverse, far-flung, failing nation state, less a democracy than a oligarchy, ruled by a rat-pack of business, mining, media, banking and gambling magnates? In its place, MPs exchange matey barbs on the banality of breakfast TV; leaders in the babel of much of our national conversation, where daily we run up the white flag in the battle to separate fact from fiction. For Facebook, a lie is just a demoted truth.

Facebook is in the gun for publishing Labor’s evil plan to bring in a death tax should it have won the May election. It’s fake news. “False” says an independent fact-checker. Yet the social medium’s executive and word weasel, Simon Milner says it’s something else. Not just fake news but also something a political party doesn’t care for.

“We do not agree that it is our role to remove content that one side of a political debate considers to be false.”

Labor’s death tax is demoted not deleted. Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, a former Optus “Yes” man who, like his predecessor, Fifield, is one of our less communicative MPs, says he’s sympathetic to Facebook. It’s a remarkable turn-around for a government threatening to bring the socialists and keyboard warriors on Facebook and twitter to heel; slap them down with a huge new ACCC report. Fletcher is happy to parrot Milner.

“I don’t think we can dismiss reality – a digital platform is a different kind of business to a traditional media organisation that has editorial obligations.”

You’ve got to keep on the right side of this Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison government. No good coming out from France and making a documentary about our dying reef as Hugo Clement discovers. No good bleating to Mistress Tingle on 7:30 Report “But I thought Australia was a democracy”. Anyone could see whose side Monsieur Clement was on.

Did the cheese-eating surrender monkey think he could inspect bleaching in the World Heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef? Film protestors at Adani’s sacred site? Defile the miracle of our extra virgin clean coal which will be mined in our heroic, philanthropic mission to lift Indians out of indigence and into penury by charging them double the average tariff thanks to an MOU with crony Modi’s business-friendly government?

Of course we run him in. Clement and his three musketeers are manacled and man-handled by Queensland’s top cops, herded into divvy wagons, thrown in the slammer at Bowen for seven hours, and released on bail until September. Of course, police say nothing. Quiet Australians are everywhere these days. No fuss. Just the bare minimum “get in the van” and the obligatory “spread your legs” for the body cavity strip search.

“They didn’t give us an explanation when they arrested us and they are not giving us an explanation now when they are saying ‘OK, it is over’,” Clement shrugs. Later it emerges police are keen to press a charge of trespass. Trespass is big in the news this week and it’s going to help protect farmers’ rights to practise animal cruelty, without being exposed by animal activists.

Luckily, Quiet Australians are on the right side. Hardworking Australians, mum and dad investors, self-funded retirees are still on Team ScoMo and the side still includes heroic small business folk, frantic to spend their tax cuts to create another casual part-time job for another underpaid, over-worked employee. How good are jobs? At least this is the drama in the eternal sunshine of the PM’s spotless mind. Perhaps they are all on the same team.

Thank God for ScoMo! Our divisions are healed by the miracle of Pastor Scott’s sublime gift for leadership and nation-building. This week’s building includes attacking Albo, vilifying John Setka and mocking Labor for calling for an increase in the New Start pittance. “Unfunded empathy” sneers our PM. You can hear the word of God in him.

Being a Pentecostal prosperity-gospeller must be a huge inspiration to our man at the top. Paul is all over the need to choose sides and put down others when he says “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:11.  Or when he tells the Galatians to “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfil the law of Christ.” — Galatians 6:2

But “The Bible is not a policy handbook”, says the old fox Morrison “faith in Jesus Christ is not a political agenda”. It’s another of his many acts of dissembling. It’s impossible, argues James Boyce, to understand the PM’s political career without considering his religion. Just as it is impossible to understand Pompeo’s foreign policy.

Uplifted, we soar above a barrage of scandals, “Grass-gate”, “Water-gate”, “Hello World” and even damning allegations of ministers of the Crown (Casino) who intercede to smooth the path of the holy high roller.

Whistle-blower and former Border Force Commissioner, Roman Quaedvlieg supports others who blow the whistle on how Crown Casino had a hotline to Immigration to help its whales (wealthy Chinese) avoid being beached by petty rules or having their thirty-five bags searched.

Quaedvlieg says Crown’s fast-tracking of Chinese VIP gamblers into Australia, including on private jets, raises major security concerns. By Tuesday, the issue seems to have been eclipsed by thought of a glorious new war with Iran. But you can’t blame the whistle-blower, although experts will be working on ways to silence or arrest him.

“My immediate reaction was there was an enhanced risk … Who was coming on these flights? They were being coordinated, organised, through junket operators which are widely known, not just in the public sphere, but certainly within the law enforcement context, as being a triad-affiliated,” Mr Quaedvlieg says.

Luckily, the matter will be taken care of by an underfunded and limited ACLEI task force. Nothing to see here. It’s the same winning formula with Liberal women who just won’t go to the police to get the run-around on rape claims.

Former NSW Premier, Nick Greiner’s sage counsel is keep calm and carry on undeterred by claims of a Liberal Party culture of bullying, misogyny and accusations of attempted rape – they are state affairs and they happened long ago

“They are not federal examples, they are historical and besides we have no knowledge of them.”

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ScoMo’s captain’s pick could sink the entire ship.

What do you do when your Treasury secretary, a controversial, political posting in 2018, claims that workers are to blame for their own wage stagnation? It’s nothing to do with government. Wage too low? Just find another job that pays better. Joe Hockey was right all along when he told those who were struggling to buy a home “to get a good job.”

Promote him is what you do. Continue the war on the poor; show neoliberalism to be alive and ageing well. Genius. Bugger the boffins, if you ever need advice, there’s always the IPA or Deloitte Access or Judith Sloan. And The Australian Terry McCrann is always full of good news even barracking for APRA this weekend.

Parachuting Phil Gaetjens, Liberal hack and Canberra-Bubble head, a career public servant since 1977, into Dr Martin Parkinson’s chair as secretary of the Department of PM and Cabinet is ScoMo’s top act of the week. Out with the old and in with the old mate is all part of today’s hyper-partisan politics. Shocking. Another apparatchik, Liberal staffer, Simon Atkinson, appointed deputy secretary by Morrison could well move into the top job.

Adding a tragic element to the drama is the fact that Parkinson has to be sacked, two years before his time expires, to make way for ScoMo’s chum and new shiny bum, as a bureaucrat is often fondly termed.

Of course, Phil’s got a few runs on the board. John Howard got his help to spend once in a lifetime mining profits buying votes, he also helped Costello handcraft a gift for Hockey in the form of a budget structural deficit of $56 bn PA. There’s a lot more including bringing in a GST that, of course, cuts hardest the poorer you are – in rather the same way that Morrison’s flat tax system is a boon to the wealthy but sees the ordinary worker pay more than their fair share.

And speaking of things unfair, Phil helped set up Costello’s now $148 billion Future Fund in 2005. Costello likes to kid us that the fund is set up to guarantee public servants and politicians their superannuation – a purpose for which it is both inadequate and unnecessary but its main effect so fair is to takes billions away from useful functions such as education, health and infrastructure as Kaye Lee has clearly pointed out.

ScoMo’s set up a future fund himself to drought-proof Australia which is modelled on Abbott’s dud Medical future fund which is also all about investing in equities, cash and debt securities and keeping the financial industry in work. ScoMo’s drought fund will also dole out $100 m P.A. on some loose criteria, creating what is effectively a Nationals’ slush fund.

ScoMo’s appointment of Gaetjens, sends a message not just about rewarding political time servers and politicising the public service but about surrounding himself with yes-men; a claque of vacuous, boosters like himself. Long gone are quaint public service customs such as promotion on merit. Above all, Morrison sets up a bond of patronage. Let others inspire loyalty or command respect. Yet, of course, the bond does have drawbacks such as any capacity to provide the wisdom gleaned from experience and expert, objective, frank and fearless advice. Treasury is a case in point.

The Hayne Royal Commission exposed Treasury’s complete failure to regulate financial services, a key portfolio function.  Forecasts appear more wishful thinking or influence from above than careful projection. Once an engine of economic reform, since 2013, Treasury is now reduced to predicting heroic wage growth rates that never materialise.

Its latest 2018-19 wages forecast of 2.5% has been revised down three times since 2016. It has failed to predict the collapse in economic growth in the second quarter of 2018. But the problems run deeper than poor performance.

In February, responding to Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus’ concerns, Parkinson observed pointedly,

“I regard acts that have the substance, or appearance, of politicising the APS as threats to the effectiveness of Australia’s democracy.”

Deposing Dr Parkinson, whom ANU Chancellor and former Foreign Minister Gareth Evans praises as “the outstanding public servant of his generation” who’ll be missed is but one stunt in a week of unbridled chutzpah in both local and international events. It almost upstages the Coalition’s attack on its own bipartisan Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security, the PJCIS, chaired by Handy Andy Hastie. Why? Peter Dutton doesn’t like compromise.

ScoMo & Co can’t possibly have an advisory committee so uppity that it gives you advice. As for traitor, Mark Dreyfus,

“Mark Dreyfus waters every bill down … what ends up happening is we end up with a bill that’s ineffective and these matters are too important for that … I’m not going to allow national security agencies to be stymied by Mark Dreyfus’ ability to water down bills.” Consultation in the ScoMo government post PJCIS 2.0? It’s now just a rubber stamp.

Dutton’s histrionics echo performance artist Boris Johnson who becomes the first professional clown to enter 10 Downing Street while con man Bernie Madoff, currently serving a 150 year sentence for the largest Ponzi scheme in history, in which he swindled thousands of investors out of billions of dollars, petitions Trump for clemency.

These are more than parallels or echoes or outbreaks of the same neoliberal, post truth Trumpian zeitgeist, they are interactive influences in a mediated, globalised world where connectivity makes intimate what used to be remote.

Meanwhile, our local performer, PM ScoMo, stars in his Towards Zero Suicide advertorial which portrays his compassion on screens across the nation, a sequel to Praying for Rain, his popular drought relief melodrama, while, hidden from prying eyes, his government drives refugees to take their own lives in the suicide factories on Manus and Nauru or in lock-up or at home in terror on the mainland.

There have been 24 deaths in Australia’s onshore and offshore detention facilities since 2010, according to refugee groups, with 14 confirmed as suicides. More than half of the recorded deaths were people held on Manus and Nauru.

Not to be forgotten is Robo-Debt’s hugely successful extortion of the poor, about to be stepped up this year.

From June 2016 to October 2018, the Department of Human Services (DHS) sent more than 925,000 automatically generated letters asking welfare recipients to confirm their income as part of the federal government’s online compliance scheme, known as “robo-debt”. Of those who received letters, 2030 died within the next two years.

Because our DHS does not collect data on cause of death, it is impossible to say how many took their own lives. Although anecdotal evidence was presented to a 2017 senate inquiry, DHS representatives could supply no details of location of the 2030 deceased letter recipients or how many – if any – had been referred to a social worker or helpline.

Morrison’s bid to be our most autocratic PM yet, complete with theatrical displays of public compassion and a public service on a leash, is upstaged by Barnaby Joyce, Craig Kelly, Andrew Bragg and a rash of others suffering relevance deprivation, free-lancing costly ideas or madly impractical policy in the media. Best leave that stuff to me, ScoMo, says in what media report is a “riot act” reading to his party room, Tuesday. Some call it a carpeting. All agree it’s ineffectual.

Yet there’s no censure for good old boy Gaetjens with his “blame the worker” shtick. What can Phil mean – apart from an even more politicised, partisan public service? We’ve caused our own wage freeze with our inflexibility? Workers should be out there jogging from job to job; forever seeking out bosses who can “offer greater productivity”. He claims there’s historical evidence to support the notion that better wages are to be found at more productive enterprises. Oddly, this does not explain the handsome salaries enjoyed by senior public servants. Especially veteran political apparatchiks.

Treasury produces a working paper and deputy secretary Meghan Quinn gives a couple of dull speeches on the virtue of labour market fluidity. Yet the case is flimsy. Among other deficiencies, the authors say they’ve left out utilities, education, public administration and safety, health and financial services from their analysis, in brief the top five sectors for contemporary wage growth. Yet there is no doubt that the thesis is a winner in terms of political utility.

Crikey’s Bernard Keane and Glenn Dyer call out the wilful evasion – if not self-delusion at the heart of Gaetjens’ heartlessness – his scapegoating of lazy workers. They also point to the inadequate evidence and note that the Productivity Commission and The Reserve bank are far less convinced. But it’s bound to get a lot airplay.

Wouldn’t it be great if the whole problem of wage stagnation could be explained away as no big deal? As though the flat or in some cases negative real wages growth of recent years was merely a passing phase, not evidence that something had gone structurally wrong in neoliberalism?

On a smaller scale, the Coalition’s answer to consumer’s rising power prices, a function of our electricity cartel and market rules which encourages generators to game the system is to tell the consumer to shop around.

It’s nonsense. But it’s a timely diversion as sectors of commerce and industry rev up their calls for Newstart to be increased by $75. It pays to paint the welfare recipient as a job snob or one who lacks the gumption to get up, get out and get a real job. And of course, if it’s all the workers’ fault, then a government with no IR policy is doing the right thing.

The jobs are out there, affirms dynamic deputy PM, “Mick-Mack”, as Michael McCormack as he is dubbed by ScoMo who has pet names for his colleagues, all part and parcel of the PM’s footy coach approach to leadership. If only our dole bludgers would get up off the sofa. Why, he was out in the bush the other day and they were just begging for workers.

“Get off Newstart and go Bush” is Mick-Mack’s message for the young unemployed – despite the fact that in outback Queensland, for example, the ABS reports an unemployment rate of 27.6%. The Brotherhood of St Laurence ought to have a word to him. It lists twenty hotspots for youth unemployment; they are all in the bush.

Lowest is the New England area and that suffers 14% unemployment. If time permits, Mick-Mack could also research rampant regional underemployment – and then there’s the issue of migrant workers brought in as cheap labour. Or the deputy PM could just do some research. Read some of the information his own government produces.

ABS data records just 243,000 job vacancies in Australia in May, for example, with 697,000 workers unemployed. Even if each worker has the skills the boss is looking for, even McCormack, surely, is capable of calculating the shortfall. On the other hand, his studied innumeracy and cruelty would not see him out of place as treasury secretary.

Pete Costello’s former chief of staff, Phil Gaetjens, the fiscal whizz-kid who helped Howard blow the entire proceeds of Australia’s mining boom largely through tax handouts to the rich, is exalted for his loyalty this week, although any notion of nepotism or politicisation of the public service is scotched by ScoMo. Besides, he says, it’s all been done before. ScoMo reads out a list, he just happens to have on him, of Labor hacks who also have gone on to be top public servants.

What was to be the megalomaniac’s master-stroke of mates in high places; installing his pal Gaetjens in charge of PM and Cabinet and appointing himself Minister for the Public Service, however, quickly turns into a surreal nightmare. It’s not for want of trying. ScoMo tries to talk softly and carry a big stick but it all comes unstuck with no agenda.

“My view of the public service is straightforward: respect and ­expect — respect their capabil­ities, and expect them to get on board and implement the government’s agenda.”  Agenda? ScoMo has no policy agenda and it shows. Respect? Hasn’t he just sacked an urbane, respected public servant and replaced him with a two dimensional party hack? Worse, ScoMo resorts to what he fondly believes are subtleties but which to any bureaucrat appear as simply idle threats.

“We don’t expect the public service to run the government. That’s what we were elected to do,” he tells The Australian. “In my ­experience, the public service ­always works best when it has strong guidance and leadership.”

Scrap Medicare? Go for nuclear power?  Include the family home in the aged pensioners’ assets test? Make super optional for those earning $50k or less – when $47k is our workforce’s median annual income? Backbenchers from crazy Craig Kelly to barking Barnaby Joyce are all over the airwaves. MPs whom even Captain ScoMo knows are best kept locked in the Liberal Party brig are frigging in the rigging; doing everything they can to get attention.

Liberals’ current festival of ideas is an intriguing oxymoron, were not most proposals just plain silly. Could it be simply a function of nature abhorring the policy vacuum at the dead heart of Morrison’s miracle? ScoMo tells MPs to stop it.

Proposing policy initiatives in the media is forbidden. Run them through proper party processes, implores a PM whose signature is policy on the run. Relocating our embassy to Jerusalem? The Cambodian Solution. Both good ideas at the time. He was all for constitutional recognition of indigenous people for a few days after appointing Ken Wyatt his fixer. It lasted four full days, until he felt the dead weight of his right wing’s disapproval and ruled it out.

Morrison’s strictures make his leadership look even more tenuous, as mavericks laugh at him, blow raspberries or ignore him. By week’s end upping Newstart, at least, is firmly on the agenda and it’s likely to cost at least $3 billion for starters. Bugger the bleeding hearts who want the poor and the elderly to stay alive. There goes the sacred surplus.

Worse, the proposal to raise Newstart is supported by rabid socialists such as Philip Lowe, Governor of the Reserve Bank who believes helping pensioners to afford to feed themselves regularly might be just the boost we need to stimulate the economy, despite his compromising photo-opp with Hungarian Josh Frydenberg – where, after some prompting by the Treasurer, Phil whispers that the “Australian economy is growing” and the “fundamentals are strong”, immediately seized upon by media pundits as solid evidence that while Josh talks tosh he knows what he’s doing.

You can tell Dr Phil’s having a lend of Frydenberg when he sends up the Treasurer’s set-up witless with his line,

“But I don’t think we should forget that more Australians have jobs today than ever before in Australian history. That’s a remarkable achievement.” Remarkable indeed considering that we have more Australians than ever before. Our population continues to grow, boosted by our wildly successful jumbo Australia scam where migrants arrive by jet in record numbers, as Border Force combs the seas for the odd boat-load of refugees. But all is well at Border Control.

Immigration Minister David Coleman, crows over yet another Coalition triumph. Onshore asylum claims “fell by 12 per cent in the 2018-19 program year, a result of the Government’s focus on stopping unmeritorious claims.”

But, as former Immigration official Abul Rizvi notes, that’s not saying much.  The year before saw a record 28,000 applications – and after an astonishing rise to 18,000 applications in 2016-17.

Then there’s those social activists and more bleeding heart liberals at neoliberal lobby group Deloitte Access who argue a $75 boost might cost a few billion but that it would yield a “prosperity dividend”.

The PM gives team ScoMo a pep-talk and a finger-wag. Government is not a blank cheque, he says. Those who go to the media disrespect their colleagues. His lecture results only in the odd snigger and a few muffled titters. The lunatics are on the grass. Not only does a two seat majority ginger up his internal critics, he’s hoist by his own petard.

Having won the election all by himself – and erasing all traces of his party, in “Honey I Shrunk the Libs”, a successful gambit – helped no end by Clive Palmer’s non-stop noxious anti Labor propaganda into regional Western Australia and rural Queensland, Morrison the miracle-worker, finds himself sidelined by his own genius; upstaged by an untalented, unruly mob anxiously clamouring for attention. Relevance deprivation syndrome sets in early when your leader is an egotistical control-freak who has yet to learn, as Fran Bailey put it “to work with other people”.

Yet if the spectacle of a party hack parachuted into head of PM and Cabinet is not wondrous enough, the nation thrills to a brilliantly zinger-less, orchestrated Question Time grilling of Angus Taylor from an Opposition keen to weed out corruption as it needles a busted Gus on his meeting with a compliance officer about relaxing the law in his bid to apply glyphosate, the cockies’ carcinogenic poison of choice, to endangered grasslands on the family farm. Or was it agent orange? ScoMo is completely upstaged in Albo’s new tactics; ignored as Labor treats the PM with icy disdain.

“We’ll treat Morrison as if he’s just another Minister,” a key Labor strategist explains to Paul Bongiorno.

It seems to be working. Immediately it gets under the egomaniac’s skin. By the close of play Tuesday, Morrison, the balding Prima Donna sulks publicly, upbraids Labor with a sooky-la-la rebuke,

“I would invite the opposition to perhaps ask me a question tomorrow. They didn’t do that today.”

Given your obsession with secrecy and control; your record of turning every question into an attack on Labor and given your allergy to objective advice, not being asked questions is something you may need to get used to ScoMo – but just have a word with your department. Phil and the rest of the crew will be quick to tell you you’re doing a fantastic job.

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

How good are jobs?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Morrison’s government fails major test of good faith.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Plots & prayers but no policy agenda bode ill for Coalition

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Trump’s love for Kim almost upstages G20 farce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Dutton’s naked power grab

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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ScoMo embraces police state in a shocker of a week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ScoMo and co take us one week closer to fascism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hello ScoMo. Goodbye democracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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