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Matthew is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew has studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He also writes for www.independentaustralia.net.

More LNP interference by LNP’s Michael Hart at Burleigh?

The following article was written by me and published on Independent Australia at the beginning of the 2013 federal election campaign.

Gail Hislop is now actively campaigning for Labor in Burleigh. As reported in the Gold Coast Bulletin recently, she has been subject once again to what seems to be LNP interference. She’s now banned from holding a community stall at Burleigh Farmers Markets.

Just another example of their bully boy tactics.

I was with her on the day. A low key small stall. All requirements were met and there were no dramas.

After being told she could stall once a month she was informed she could no longer do so after just one stall.

If she can’t stall, local LNP MP Michael Hart shouldn’t be allowed to either.

The LNP have form here.

Gail Hislop says:

“It appears there is some underhandd white anting of my campaign going on.

“If the LNP believe they are doing such a good job what are they afraid of?

“It is all about power and control. They are losing power as the people are standing up against them and the Newman LNP Government.”

Note my predictions regarding the possibility of the Abbott Government sadly ring true too.

Gail Hislop is the Labor candidate for McPherson. I have been very active in helping her campaign.

In the name of transparency, I have been quite open in the past that I am a Labor member and former Labor candidate. I’m proud of these facts.

I write this time about a very disappointing occurrence that happened last Saturday. The reason I do so is because I think it is emblematic of my wider concerns about the LNP Newman Government and Tony Abbott’s Coalition.

An important aspect of any campaign is community engagement. For months now, Gail has been working hard to get the message out in the community about her federal campaign and listen to voters.

As part of this concerted effort she has been regularly stalling at the local Burleigh markets.

She takes along a table and some chairs, some signs as well as petitions to be signed and information to provide the public. I join her regularly to offer my support in any way I can.

She sits at her stall – from 9am to midday – waiting for people to approach her to discuss issues that concern them. A very laid back and welcoming approach.

The LNP are often there doing their own thing and that is their right.

There had been no dramas, until last Saturday . . .


Image: Queensland Labor

I arrived first, well before anyone else. Eventually a few volunteers started to arrive and then Gail and the gear arrived.

We staked out our usual spot, that had been sought through the proper channels with market management as always.

While we were in the very early stages of setting up we were approached by a woman. She was openly hostile and seemed to want to have a fight rather than talk calmly about the issues we were discussing. I tried to engage her and calm her down but she wasn’t having any of it. I stood my dig. She stormed off and I thought nothing more of it.

Eventually other volunteers came to the realisation they had seen her hanging around the tent of Michael Hart, the LNP Member for Burleigh.

Just as I was processing this information we had market staff tell us they had a problem and we had to leave. We quizzed them and were told Michael Hart wasn’t happy with us being there or about the signs we had with us.

There were extended talks and eventually it was decided we could stay as long as we moved to the back of the markets. We were disappointed but happy we could remain and support our candidate.

Gail has her own thoughts on the events:

‘This really is about control and not wanting the Gold Coast to hear any other voice other than the LNP. I believe it is up to the voters to decide. They should not use stand over tactics and try to gag a candidate.

‘We live in a democratic society and people should not be fearful of standing up for what they believe in.

‘Bullying simply does not work and I will not be intimidated by an adult schoolyard bully.

‘Michael Hart and the LNP may be known to gag public servants but they won’t gag me.’

This was quite frankly one of the most appalling displays from an MP I have ever experienced.

I have since become aware that market staff where treated extremely badly by him and his tent as opposed to our group, though while bemused, complied with all requests.

Michael Hart has seemed very reluctant in the media to admit any fault despite the fact that Gail and her team had no interaction with him. His actions were completely uncalled for and heavy handed.

He has said:

“They had nasty, nasty slogans saying (Queensland Premier) Campbell Newman was closing down hospitals which is an absolute lie.

This is either an out and out lie or a severe misunderstanding of what the signs were about.

The signs read “Save public hospitals”. Nasty, nasty stuff apparently?

This is nothing that said Premier Newman was shutting down hospitals. It is about her concerns that he will seek to privatise – as he has done on the Sunshine Coast – and sack more public servants in health.

Her concerns seem well founded given recent reports that Gold Coast Hospital patients are at risk due to changes the LNP Government has made.

Michael Hart also says:

I highlighted it to them that these people were politicking, (the market organisers) made the rest of the decisions themselves.

Market staff were very clear we were being approached, moved and given directives due to Michael Hart’s requests.

If he is trying to tell me that LNP stalls at the markets isn’t “politicking” I actually can’t take that seriously.

I have since written to Premier Newman requesting his official position on our ability to freely use whatever signage we desire free from interference. I am yet to receive a response.

These kind of actions by Michael Hart and the various other LNP MP scandals are emblematic of a Newman Government that is more scandal ridden and on the nose every day.

In my view, the actions and conduct of Tony Abbott over the last 3 years have not been dissimilar to the display I was treated to on Saturday.

To find out more about Gail’s Burleigh campaign to remove the LNP’s Michael Hart and support her, visit her Facebook Page or donate to her campaign visit her campaign bio page.

Recent articles from Matthew Donovan:

Bolt and Jones achieve full froth in defence of their friend Tony Abbott

Time to end Tony Abbott’s deceitful debt scare campaign

Shock jock fantasy land vs reality

Bolt and Jones achieve full froth in defence of their friend Tony Abbott

Andrew Bolt and Alan Jones are distressed.

Their good friend and hero Tony Abbott is flailing from crisis to crisis, embarrassment to embarrassment. Struggling to develop a cohesive palatable message.

The polls are stubbornly bad for his government and it appears any credibility or integrity he had left in the eyes of the public is all but eliminated. Irreparably it seems.

Bolt and Jones spent years doing all they could to get their man in Canberra into government and it’s gone pear shaped remarkably quickly.

Abbott’s failure is their failure.

The community’s rejection of him is a rejection of them.

They are both, figuratively speaking, firmly in the Abbott Faction of the Liberal Party. The now dominant hard right capital C conservative faction.

They are his media minders, PR department, faciltators and attack dogs.

The last 3 election cycles, particularly since Abbott became leader, has seen a mass exodus of what was left of the small l liberal tradition inside the Liberal Party.

They were out of place and they knew it.

They fled.

This is all an important context to understand the Bolt, Turnbull and Jones affair of the last week.

Tony Abbott is under pressure to turn around his sinking, rudderless ship and his media PR machine in the mainstream media is feeling it too.

The extreme nasty IPA driven budget was supposed to be accepted by the public against their best interests because it was “fixing up Labor’s mess”.

The public weren’t supposed to question it, but they have.

They see it as an assault on the “fair go” and their way of life.

Jones has used his Labor as “fire” and Coalition as “firefighter” analogy innumerable times.

It’s painfully tortured yet he perseveres.

Not surprisingly however it seems Tony Abbott’s Chief of Staff Peta Credlin has picked up on it and directed cabinet ministers to use the exact same fear mongering aggressive language to scare people into accepting this shocking budget.

Thankfully it’s not cutting through and people are resenting the broken promises and unfairness of the Abbott plan.

Abbott used fear and division aplenty in opposition but they are finding that it just doesn’t cut it anymore in government.

People want the “adult government” they were promised.

People don’t want to be scared, lectured or lied to by Tony Abbott anymore.

They are sick of the negativity and lack of vision coming from his government.

Enter Malcolm Turnbull.

A popular leader who is well liked in the community but on the fringe of the Coalition caucus.

The dinner Turnbull had with Clive Palmer was all it took to light a fire under the very sensitive and protective Abbott forces in the media. Perhaps at the behest of the Abbott Faction.

Bolt is paid to irritate and rile enemies of Murdoch. That’s his job. He does it well.

Recently however the enemy was a lot closer to home.

Bolt attacked Turnbull for having dinner with Palmer without permission. I wasn’t aware he had to seek permission for who he could socialise with privately?

It was obviously not a “secret meeting”. Canberra’s a small place.

This didn’t stop Bolt saying Turnbull was conspiring against Abbott and being disloyal.

Apparently Abetz and Pyne need to be consulted for Turnbull to have a casual dinner with Palmer.

This is the Bolt/Jones line.

The fact they weren’t told is supposedly the smoking gun.

Turnbull didn’t reject out of hand the idea the Bolt and Jones attacks were coordinated. The idea holds a lot of water.

They are clearly trying to reassert the hard right of the Liberal Party in the face of polls showing Turnbull would be a popular leader.

They want him put in his corner and nervy MPs warned off even considering switching their vote to save their own skin.

The Alan Jones interview with Turnbull was something to behold.

Screeching, heavy breathing, condescending, lecturing and at times hysterical.

Jones is clearly feeling the pinch.

Now he knows what it’s like to be on the wrong end of popular opinion and to have concerted campaigns in the media and public to destroy his preferred leader.

Normally he’s the one dishing it out and dictating what he thinks should be popular opinion.

Not now he’s not.

Turnbull handled a fulminating Jones skillfully, occasionally calming his interviewer down before he erupted uncontrollably and breathlessly again.

The egos of Bolt and Jones are limitless. Their sense of power and self importance renowned.

Turnbull is absolutely correct to stand up to bullies and defend himself if he thinks it’s appropriate.

Was the dinner with Clive more than just casual? My sense is no.

But even if it was it has shown just how close Bolt and Jones are to Tony Abbott.

He relies on these nasty aggressive media characters to convince the masses he’s the saviour.

The masses are ignoring the preachers these days however.

It’s quite clever of Turnbull to push back so strongly against nasty public attacks. He wants to make it clear he won’t put up with it.

It also puts Abbott in a bind.

In a public spat between the three of them, whose side does he take?

His cabinet minister’s or his strong media allies’?

Turnbull is playing them off against each other.

One can’t help but think he’s doing all he can to damage their relationship and the role they will play in the life of the Abbott Government.

Recent articles by Matthew Donovan:

If they don’t know what they’re talking about, how are we supposed to?

Time to end Tony Abbott’s deceitful debt scare campaign

Shock jock fantasy land vs reality

Don’t let the Abbott Government Budget get one over you

If they don’t know what they’re talking about, how are we supposed to?

Those of you who read my articles would be well aware I am not a fan of the Liberal Party or their leadership, particularly Tony Abbott.

In fact, even before I figured out Australian politics and where I stood in terms of my values, I can remember thinking Tony Abbott looked shifty, aggressive and untrustworthy.

We’re talking the mid 1990s, shortly after Abbott’s election to federal parliament. Long before I had any deep interest in politics. I’ve always been an astute judge of character and it didn’t fail me in this instance.

It is no surprise therefore that I abhor the Abbott Government and want to see them out of office as soon as possible before they rip our country asunder.

Even if I was more forgiving of this federal government or a more impartial swinging voter I would be worried by what I have seen since their election last September.

Their budget is an absolute shocker and a swift kick in the guts to the middle and lower classes of Australia.

Many of the people attacked by this budget naively voted for Tony Abbott having no idea he would totally and utterly betray them and break promises at a record clip.

The broken promises, lies and deceit are well known by now, along with the horrendous attacks on the most needy in society. No need to repeat them here.

What is concerning me at the moment is the omnishambles that is this government’s internal processes and communications.

On numerous occasions ministers have made statements regarding their department’s policies only to be contradicted by another member of the government or their own department.

Tony Abbott went on talk back radio and softly told people their proposed changes to the university system meant that students currently enrolled will not be impacted in the slightest.


Currently enrolled students are in fact impacted by the changes from the moment the legislation would take effect.

Why is it the leader of our nation has no clue about the finer details of a key policy in the budget he is so passionate about?

It pays to remember Tony Abbott chaired every meeting, against convention, during the development of the budget.

I find it stunning in the extreme that he has no clue what his own policies are.

Mouth that roarded.

He’s not alone. The popular, pleasant and well loved Education Minister Christopher Pyne has no idea what he’s talking about either. On Insiders recently he claimed that the HECS interest increases that will be allowed under proposed legislation will only impact courses studied after the policy takes effect.


According to the Education Department website, the interest increases apply to all courses no matter when they are undertaken.

How embarrassing.

They are rushing in headlong to destroy the social safety net and increase the gap between the least well off and the most well off yet they aren’t even bothered enough to be properly across the detail.

There are several other instances of stunning ineptitude by ministers like Kevin Andrews but I think you get the picture.

How could it be that a federal government that purports to be so concerned by the so called “debt and deficit disaster” and proud of their budget, has no idea what they talking about?

It doesn’t do much to instil confidence does it?

They are having a hard enough time pitching this budget when they get their facts right without flubbing it every time they attempt to go into its details.

If they don’t know what they’re talking about, how are we supposed to?

It seems anybody that protests this budget is “whinger” or a “leaner” and not a “lifter”.

It wouldn’t be that some people are genuinely concerned about the shock changes and the impact they will have on their lives by any chance would it?

Some people will have support equivalent to 10% of their income ripped away by 2017/18. This at the same time as cost of living blows out under their policies like the GP tax.

The patient doesn’t want or need this medicine. The Abbott Government is like a parent of yesteryear trying to force castor oil down a reluctant and perfectly healthy child’s throat.

Revenue will never be looked at as a way to solve the structural issues that exist in the budget. That would require them to ask the big end of town to do some “heavy lifting”.

They don’t want to break poor old Gina’s back.

It’s all spend side and all on the average Australian.

That might explain why this is one of the worst received budgets in our history and their polls are getting worse everyday.

Confidence in the Abbott Government according to Morgan polling is lower than it ever was during the Rudd or Gillard years.

What does that tell you?


They get this budget through, against the wishes of Labor supporters and a 40 per cent of Liberal supporter’s wishes, we could be looking at risking our AAA credit rating or a self-inflicted recession.

It’s quite clear to me Hockey has no clue and just makes things up as he goes along.

The Saturday Paper recently reported what I already knew. This government is completely beholden to the shadowy forces of the Institute of Public Affairs and their far right extreme fringe agenda.

No wonder ministers don’t know their policies. They didn’t even write them.

The Abbott Government are in the habit of berating the Labor Party for their approach to this horror budget.

Hockey and Abbott are all of a sudden keen on putting “good” and “fair” policy first. Ahead of “populist politics” and “negativity”.

They say the Labor Party only “whinge” and offer no alternative.

Let’s assume this is the case.

Now where would an Opposition have got the idea for a strategy like that I wonder?

Time to end Tony Abbott’s deceitful debt scare campaign

Let’s get real here and start talking facts. Cold hard incontrovertible facts.

I have already outlined the truth of the situation in, Facts speak for themselves, Australia still lucky country. Now to get into the details.

$44 billion worth of net assets were inherited by the Labor Government in 2007 from John Howard’s Liberal Government.

This is after a strong period of economic growth and private investment following the dot com crash, from 2002 to 2007. Not to mention, ever surging commodity prices and resources demand, mainly from a booming China.

$70 billion of government owned assets were sold off under by Treasurer Costello, most of them at bargain basement rates. Incidentally, as an aside, he now wants the Queensland Government to engage in such reckless practices.

This means the net assets on the books (63% of the overall cash generated from asset sales) were as a result of selling our assets, without a mandate, for much less than they would now be worth if they had been retained.

Almost every other benefit from the mining boom was squandered, as there was abysmal investment in education, health, infrastructure and productivity over 11 ½ years of Coalition rule.

The IMF (International Monetary Fund) recently stated Howard was the most profligate Australian Prime Minister in history. If you take issue with that statement, talk to the experts.

Howard was defeated when there were very few signs of the credit crunch and GFC in evidence.

Since Labor came to power in late 2007, there has been $160 billion in tax receipt write-downs as a result of a weaker global economy.

Between 2004 to 2007 the Howard Government saw $334 billion of upward revisions yet still under invested in crucial sectors and sold off public assets.

Every developed nation entered recession . . . except for Australia that is.

Image courtesy of the Australian Labor Party

Image courtesy of the Australian Labor Party

Australia took decisive action to stem the impacts of the GFC on jobs and economic growth. The economy is now at trend growth and 926,000 jobs have been created since the GFC. An outstanding result no matter how you slice it.

This meant stimulating the economy with a significant stimulus package of around $52 billion (3% of GDP in today’s terms). A response that was heralded as a model targeted and effective response by the IMF, OECD and World Bank. The OECD praised the package stating it would save 200,000 jobs.

World experts such as Nobel Prize laureate Professor Joseph Stiglitz also said the stimulus “served Australia well“.

Without this stimulus, as the world was sinking into a crisis, growth in Australia would have stalled and unemployment would have spiked above 8% leading to a prolonged period of economic hardship for many Australians.

Australia chose to support jobs and growth and to maintain levels of spending in order to support services for the Australian people.

To maintain surpluses over the GFC period – as some in the Coalition seem to suggest Labor should have done – would have been irresponsible.

The Liberal Party's attempt at a counter graphic with no mention of the context of the GFC or that $150B is close to the amount tax receipts have dropped off.

The Liberal Party’s attempt at a counter graphic with no mention of the context of the GFC or that $150B is close to the amount tax receipts have dropped off.

It would have led to the requirement to unleash austerity on all Australians at the worst possible time in the last 80 or so years since the Great Depression.

Cuts would have been in the realm of $32 billion a year over the last five years. That is 2% of GDP annually, in today’s terms.

This kind of program would have put Campbell Newman to shame and led to further hurt in the Australian community.

The other major contributor to our debt position is the $37.5 billion investment in the NBN. Broadband was an area Howard neglected for his entire term in office.

He didn’t understand that this expenditure is an investment in our future; an asset, not an expense. It will create jobs and growth.

Tony Abbott admits he doesn’t understand broadband either:

The remainder of our gross debt is about $50.5 billion over five years. This is equal to 0.6% of GDP each year in today’s terms.

The numbers sound big, but in the context of our almost $1.6T trillion economy, they are small. The Coalition try to take interest payments and debt out of the wider context because they are large by historical standards. However, to do this without reference to the wider economy, the global scenario and the GFC is just plain deceptive.

They know it too.

I ask you to look at how much debt you personally carry on credit cards and in car and home loans. I can tell you right now it will be more than 10% of your household income (on a net basis). In fact, private debt is a much greater issue than public debt.

Respected economist Stephen Koukoulas called out the scare campaign recently in an e-mail to Labor members and supporters.

Australia has a AAA credit rating from all three major ratings agencies. If we were in such a bad fiscal state we would not only not be one of only seven countries with that honour but we wouldn’t be the only one with a Stable rating from all three. Under Howard and Costello’s so called “Golden Age” this was never achieved and to do it during such turmoil must be acknowledged.

Another graphic showing the growth in the Australian economy compared to others. Now at somewhere in the range of 15% since the GFC. (Courtesy of Independent Australia).

Another graphic showing the growth in the Australian economy compared to others. Now at somewhere in the range of 15% since the GFC. (Courtesy of Independent Australia).

This was only recently reinforced by Fitch when they affirmed their AAA rating for our economy.

A point only further underlined by Dun and Bradstreet’s recent release entitled Australian economy ranked among world’s safest, in which it says:

Solid GDP growth, relative to other developed economies, contributes to Australia’s status as one of the world’s safest trade destinations. Likewise, the nation’s unemployment rate is low, and its annual average inflation remains within the Reserve Bank’s target band. Terms of trade at historical highs and solid commodity prices have also helped Australia avoid much of the turbulence experienced within other advanced economies.

It continues:

Australia’s relative economic strength, which is supported by the country’s mining boom, and its comparatively limited exposure to European markets are key reasons for the nation’s ranking as one of the most attractive trade and investment destinations globally.

This is the reality Tony Abbott and the Coalition want hidden from view. However just because you repeat it, getting louder and louder each time, doesn’t make it true.

Abbott’s deceptions and flat out lies on the economy are even more mind blowing when one considers he was a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and studied, of all things, economics at the University of Sydney during which he commenced his much fabled entry into student politics.

Former Treasurer Peter Costello has himself, in private conversations, been reported as calling the man that wants be our Prime Minister an “economic illiterate.”

Time we got real.

This government has to invest in your future, your jobs and your country.

The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Just ask Queenslanders.

(NB: This article rounds our gross debt up to $300B. So in fact our position is currently actually better than presented).

This article was first published on Independent Australia.

Shock jock fantasy land vs reality

Image courtesy of 2gb.com

Image by 2gb.com

Recently I’ve started listening regularly but sparingly to Alan Jones, Steve Price and Ray Hadley. All out of the 2GB stable. All willing unquestioning extensions of the Liberal Party’s PR machine.

Why would I do such a thing, especially when it has the tendency to make me feel ill at times?

Over the last few years I have grown increasingly worried that the Australian electorate isn’t as informed as they should be when it comes to matters of policy, politics and especially economics.

I have come to the conclusion this is in large part due to shock jocks like Jones, Price and Hadley and the deliberately skewed view of the world they present.

For years I’ve been reading the cavalcade of conservative columnists in the News Corp Australia stable. I refuse to pay for News Corp Australia publications anymore but nonetheless I know what these columnists write and how they state their case.

I’m also all too aware of Gina Rinehart’s pet television project The Bolt Report and the content of that show.

I wasn’t however aware of what was being said by conservative shock jocks to their captive audiences on a daily basis.

It’s safe to say I am now fully aware and I must say I have no idea why they are paid so much money.

It’s nothing but puerile, immature, self-congratulatory rubbish from “goodies and baddies” fantasy land.

Not sure what else I should have expected given the quality of all other conservative commentary.

I have been listening to them for a while with Tony Abbott in government and I must say it is interesting to hear how they are handling it now the shoe is on the other foot.

Their man’s in The Lodge. The people haven’t taken to him and accepted him as their personal saviour.

I’m sure there is an element of resentment towards Australia because they feel this wasn’t the way it was meant to be.

The rest of us do however live in the real world.

The world where Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey are taking a sledgehammer to workers with significant increases in taxes, cuts to the pension, cuts to support payments and welfare as well as unnecessarily punitive and harsh changes around their eligibility requirements and structure.

Broken promises and lies aplenty.

Tony Abbott ran around for years – backed by his conservative columnist cheer squad – claiming carbon pricing was causing the sky to fall in and hurting everyday Australians with increases in cost of living.

Now he’s in government and slugging pensioners, families, students and the least well off among us as a result of his lies and broken promises we’re expected to just accept it and, as some callers to 2GB put it, stop “whinging”?

Everyday Australians are distressed by what these changes will mean for them and their families. Many will have thousands of dollars ripped from their budgets overnight.

If people have the nerve to question what this means for their family’s future, and how they will get by, they are told by Hockey not to think about themselves but what’s in “the good of the nation”.

Any cries of “Joeliar” on the Alan Jones show? Nope.

Instead we get the good old “pull yourself up by the bootstraps” and wall to wall remarks about “heavy lifting”.

Why did Abbott break his promises?

Well there’s a “debt and deficit disaster” don’t you know?

This wouldn’t happen to be the same “debt and deficit disaster” you were claiming before the election would it Abbott?

The numbers in the Pre-election Fiscal Outlook (PEFO) were fully known to Abbott and Hockey when they made their commitments.

The question to them should be: were they ever going to keep their commitments?

There is no “debt and deficit disaster”. It’s a focus grouped scare campaign to make people accept tough cuts to their way of life.

Taking an axe to your voters by scaring them into submission? You’re all class as usual Abbott.

This government just isn’t being upfront with you.

That’s right. They’re lying.

Good old Phoney Tony.

We came through the GFC unscathed due to a stimulus package that has been applauded by the IMF, OECD and the World Bank as well as Nobel Prize winning economists.

We took on debt to avoid recession when our revenue fell off a cliff.

If not for these steps we would have gone into recession, like the rest of the world. Unemployment would have skyrocketed and we would still be struggling out of it as we speak.

Ironically, had action not been taken it can easily be surmised that our debt position would be worse than it is now and revenue would have been impacted for longer.

Australia’s debt to GDP is in the bottom third of developed nations.

We have around trend growth, low inflation and low unemployment.

You don’t get to make up your own facts Abbott.

This is the reality and it’s what makes the savage cuts and obsession with surplus at all costs harmful and a risk to our economy if such recklessness continues.

Why have the $130B of subsidies and concessions for big business and the well off not been touched Hockey?

Where’s their “heavy lifting”?

A symbolic temporary 3 year 2% tax on those earning over $180,000.

A breach of faith no question, but piddling compared to the whack on the unsuspecting ordinary Australian.

Abbott has frozen federal politicians pay for 12 months. What a trooper. An effective 2.4% cut.

Meanwhile, we’re all told to just accept the entire restructuring of our social safety net permanently.

For a government, surplus is obviously preferable to deficit but not at all costs.

Not at the expense of the people who voted for this government and trusted the specific commitments they made.

Not when it’s based on fear, lies and deceit around our budgetary position.

That’s called blind ideology; and boy doesn’t that term fit this government like a glove?

The issue with the current situation is we take nowhere near enough revenue.

The answer isn’t to just keep attacking the worker’s way of life and cutting taxes.

The answer is to ask those who have more to pay more.

A start would be looking at tax loopholes, concessions and subsidies. As stated earlier, a whopping $130B of them being paid out every single year.

Why? We can’t afford them anymore. I doubt we ever could.

Cuts to these expenses would go a long way to fixing our structural issues in the Budget.

Our debt can be paid back over time without causing massive damage to the community.

We don’t need the shock and awe approach to government, nor do we deserve it.

Nothing about this Budget is “fair”.

Abbott and Hockey seem to think if they repeat their condescending lines enough we’ll accept them.

It’s not going to happen. People are angry. They want answers. Honest answers.

A lady rang up 2GB recently and said she was worried we were heading the way of Greece due to the “debt and deficit disaster”.

A clearly laughable scenario when our economic situation is placed next to Greece’s at the peak of crisis.

It’s incredible that some people are so misinformed they are scared into blind adherence to conservatism.

It’s time we all pushed back against the lies about our economy, because if we don’t who knows what damage these economic vandals will do?

Don’t let the Abbott Government Budget get one over you

Photo: popthirdworld.tumblr.com

Photo: popthirdworld.tumblr.com

Tonight is the biggest test thus far for the Abbott Government.

It’s time for their Budget.

What looks like being a reverse Robin Hood Budget for the rich.

It will be a failure.

They won’t fail my test or even yours.

They will fail their own tests. Tests they repeated ad nauseam and will be measured against for years to come.

They will break promises. They will smack the least well off and increase their cost of living.

They will not ensure “every Australian” does the “heavy lifting”.

That’s a lie.

It will not be fair. It will not be just.

It will raise taxes.

They will impose a tax on healthcare and they will impose a tax on higher incomes as well as imposing higher taxes on fuel.

Broken promises. All of them.

They will increase the cost of living.

Mainly through the measures mentioned above.

Broken promises.

They will cut funding to education, health and the ABC and SBS.

More broken promises.

There is no credible budget emergency yet the least well off are asked to shoulder an unnecessary rush to surplus at their own expense.

Abbott will spout the line: “Debt and deficit disaster”.

This Peta Credlin line will repeated over and over again and you are expected to lap it up. It’s a focus grouped line designed to make you swallow his harsh cuts.

Australia has a healthy economy and no economist accepts their arguments.

Rest assured the Abbott Government will not slug the well off and the rich.

There are $130B of concessions and subsidies the Abbott Government will not touch.

They will be asked to do no “heavy lifting”.

That is not “fair” as the government says it is.

It will all be on the backs of the most vulnerable.

Highly unAustralian and damaging to the Australian way of life.

We are more than just an economy.

We are a society and society under Abbott is that little bit more unfair as the gap between the rich and poor widens even more.

There is a revenue problem, not a spending problem, yet there will be no structural change to revenue raised from the higher end of town, just short term measures.

Meanwhile, the entire social safety net is being recast permanently.

Keep an eye on the IPA and their wish list of 75 demands of an Abbott Government.

There are some mysterious connections between the IPA and this Abbott Government.

Why is the IPA writing Abbott Government policy and who are they? Who funds them? Why don’t we know?

Keep an eye on this corporate Abbott Government. They are trying to get one over you.

Remain vigilant and spread the word about their deception.

The core & non-core argument is being honed by the Abbott Government as we speak.

Sadly, for you them we’ve seen this show before and we know how it ends.

If you have any specific thoughts or concerns about the Abbott Government’s budget and its impact on you and your family or their connection to rich vested interests and the IPA please email me on matthew4surfers@gmail.com

The master of deception

Image courtesy of 4bc.com.au

Image courtesy of 4bc.com.au

I’m growing increasingly and unbearably exhausted by the track one reckless and irresponsible man is taking our country.

The man: Tony Abbott.

A man I would consider to be one of the most destructive and deceptive politicians in our history.

I’ll make my case and you can make your own judgment.

Tony Abbott is dangerous and completely captured by corporate interests.

He’s a populist politician with no policy interest or conviction. A “weathervane” that does and says whatever he thinks he needs to to acquire and keep power.

It’s not just me saying this. Ask those who have seen him up close.

John Hewson, Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating. The list goes on. Their views are on the record.

I’ve spoken to people who went to university with him. The stories are true. He’s a complete and utter disgrace.

I’m not sure if he knows what he’s doing but he must be removed democratically as soon as possible.

He is ripping up all the hard work of the last 40 or so years.

Ripping up the progress that has made us the envy of the world

But first we need to go back a few steps.

Since he was first elected in the mid 90s he has developed a reputation for being an aggressive brawler and his history up until his time as Opposition Leader serves as witness to this.

When he became Opposition Leader in 2009 his quest for power ramped up dramatically as he sensed his preordained destiny.

He lurched the Liberal Party to the far right and all of a sudden you are hard pressed to find a moderate among them.

They all fled knowing Abbott’s Liberal Party was not the Liberal Party they once knew and loved.

Menzies must be rolling in his grave.

Abbott ran around the country like a mad man spouting cheap and tacky three word slogans for years.

Anything he thought would play well in the public’s mind he used.


The ultimate master of deception.

He was and is ably assisted – as we know – by the likes of Alan Jones, Steve Price, Ray Hadley and their fellow far right shock jocks. They too spouted and continue to spout his lines as if they are being fed to them by the Liberal Party.

Rupert Murdoch was onside with him from day one. News Corp Australia never wavered in its support and Murdoch irresponsibly used his vast media interests to create a sense of chaos in Labor’s ranks.

Tony Abbott was given a free pass by the Murdoch press.

The spotlight always firmly on Labor.

It was a highly successful smash and destroy campaign by big media vested interests.

Murdoch, however, didn’t do this for no reason. He surely, as with previous governments, expects something in return.

The Tony Abbott recipe has a few main ingredients.

Create fear of asylum seekers, as Howard did successfully in 2001. Make them a ‘border security’ threat and a financial burden, not a humanitarian issue. Stop the Boats!

Attack the Labor Party for introducing a price on carbon after allegedly knowingly lying. Big New Tax!

Attack the mining tax in order to look after rich mining interests and keep his donors on side. Axe the Tax!

Attack Labor relentlessly everyday and say “no” to everything no matter what, making it as hard as possible to govern the nation.

Create chaos and dysfunction by constantly suspending standing orders during Question Time, in order to rant and rave as he ran his focus grouped political lines for the day.

He used his media friends to ramp this up of course. They willingly obliged.

Chaos! Dysfunction! Tainted vote!

He desperately sought to take down the government with his blind recklessness but he failed.

The confidence of the nation in politics was damaged and remains so. It is now at record lows and shows no signs of bouncing back.

He destroyed the joint.

Labor aren’t faultless but Tony Abbott conducted himself in his own interests, not the nation’s. He should be condemned for such deplorable conduct.

Now he’s reached his goal. He has his own government. He quite frankly has no clue what to do next.

What do you do when you finally catch the seagull?

What does a dog do when it catches its tail?

He has wasted no time continuing his seek and destroy mission. Going after Labor Party policies vindictively, attacking and smearing unions relentlessly, making international news for all the wrong reasons and severely weakening key international relationships.

The carnage is intimidating but this is the man people supposedly voted for.

It’s my opinion people naively voted against Labor to restore stability.

Sadly they didn’t research this man as I have.

If they had informed themselves we might not be enduring this nonsense.

All of us who did do their research are shaking our heads, shrugging our shoulders knowingly, looking at each other and sighing in exhaustion.

This isn’t news to us.

Many who made the foolish decision to vote for Tony Abbott are starting to feel regret.

Social media of all kinds is full of anger and people at breaking point.

I see hardly anybody inspired now this man is our leader.

Sir Tony Abbott is yesterday’s man for today’s Australia.

His government so far has been an omnishambles. He has barely managed to keep his caucus in line. Lurching from drama to drama, crisis to crisis.

The 18C Brandis “Right to Be Bigots” line repulsed the nation.

Members of the government backbench have been actively speaking out against the stupidity of the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.

Some are willing to cross the floor for the vote on the issue and some government members are drafting their own changes to put to the caucus because they reject the draft exposure amendments completely.

The community are rightly outraged at this ideological and unnecessary change. 88% are against it. It won’t pass muster.

The issue of GrainCorp being taken over by US multinational Archer Daniels Midland showed up fault lines in the National Liberal Coalition. Hockey was forced at last minute to reject the bid as Truss and Joyce ramped up their public dissension. The Nationals are completely disregarded with the Coalition ordinarily. A rare win for them.

Numerous critical leaks have occurred from caucus and anonymous critical assessments of the Abbott Government and it’s processes are common place.

Tony Abbott unilaterally deciding that he wants Sirs and Dames again sparked incredulity among colleagues. Even John Howard called the move “anachronistic”.

Peta Credlin, his Chief of Staff, controls the entire government media message. Abbott leaves it to her. She’s the most powerful woman in the nation. Leering over Abbott at all times. She decides who speaks to the media and when.

More often than not they aren’t allowed to speak, allowing the Opposition willingly into the void.

When it comes to not speaking Immigration Minister Scott Morrison has made it an art form. Every part of the Operation Sovereign Borders policy is secretive to try and kill it as an electoral issue.

Despite their best efforts to avoid accountability of what they are doing to the world’s most vulnerable in our name, leaks are occurring.

People are speaking out. I’ll bite my tongue on this issue because I think Morrison is a scourge.

He uses chest beating, thinly veiled racism and bullying rhetoric to attempt to achieve acceptance within a tragically bigoted section of the community.

Somebody died at Manus on his watch. The truth will come out. He will face his day of truth in good time.

I could go into all the crises of this government – and thus the country – has endured but the list is incredibly long.

Let’s just say it’s not all “methodical”, “calm” or “considered” as Abbott tries to claim unconvincingly.

No matter how many times he tries his doe-eyed, slow talking plea for people to accept the words out of his mouth people know better.

This brings us to the latest development: the Commission of Audit.

Tony Abbott once again appointed mates and sectional interests to give him the big bad scary report he wanted.

He has done this in other areas of government.

He appointed vested interest climate sceptic friends, Maurice Newman and Dick Warburton to key extremely high paying roles, in this the end of the “Age of Entitlement”.

Tony Shepard, Amanda Vanstone and a few other acolytes make up the Commission of Audit.

The report, dropped recently, was a complete and utter stitch up.

Hidden from view until after the Tasmanian state election and WA Senate by-election. Having read it, I can see why.

It’s a blueprint for the destruction of the social safety net in our nation.

Who’s surprised? Tony Shepherd is the former head of the Business Council of Australia. A big supporter and ally of the Liberal Party. He has donated to them before.

One donation was to a fund being investigated by ICAC in NSW.

The least well off are told to take the full burden of what the Abbott Government term “heavy lifting”.

The reason? We’re in a supposed “budget emergency”.

Once again, they use fear to herd the masses. Or so they hope.

The “distinguished” panel of the Commission of Audit loyally delivered the exact outcome they were told to deliver by the Abbott Government. This is Liberal Party 101.

I won’t go into all aspects but it can be read at www.ncoa.gov.au. Brace yourself to be stunned if you dare read it.

They will use this “independent” report to say how supposedly bad things are. A cover for massive cuts to the least well off that will risk recession.

In a rare episode, the big business community has spoken out about massive cuts. Why? Concern for the community? Nah. They are worried about their bottom lines and recession.

Oh well, I’ll take what I can get.

The government – supposedly scared about the state of economy – is now at risk of plunging us into recession by cutting too hard and too fast against all the best advice.

Why? They are reckless and deceptive ideologues.

Let’s go into the idea of a “budget emergency”.

It’s a calculated lie.

No rational economist believes this to be true. Not one!

For goodness sake! Even Tony Shepherd admitted there is no emergency. Begrudgingly.

The facts point to there being a revenue problem, not a spending problem. The roots of which go back to John Howard.

John Howard blew the income from the mining boom with eight consecutive tax cuts.

He created the “Age of Entitlement” and “middle class welfare”.

The only reason his government left “money in the bank” was because of the sale of public assets.

In 2004, Costello, flush with mining boom money created the Baby Bonus in an election year to keep voters happy.

It was manageable when times were good but when the GFC hit and revenue plunged, you have another huge black hole.

People became accustomed to this payment and it became hard to take off them or even reduce.

What was also politically very difficult was the massive Howard tax cuts floated in the 2007 campaign. A blatant wedge issue by Howard.

Labor was all but forced to match them against their better judgement.

This was another massive black hole when the revenue vanished during the GFC.

I have spoken to an opposition federal MP who thought that was one of Labor’s biggest mistakes.

Labor has no doubt contributed to the need to raise increasing revenue but Howard contributed substantially to the so called “budget emergency”.

Don’t forget this fact.

A recent International Monetary Fund report said that the Howard government was the most profligate government in Australia’s history. The IMF know what they are talking about.

All the Abbott Government’s blatant lies are being used once again to create fear so people will hopefully swallow the poison pill of attacks on their way of life.

Attacks on the very people who voted the Abbott Government into power. What gall. What arrogance.

A true nightmare for those of us that saw this man and his ways coming a mile away.

After years of saying politicians should never lie and breach faith with the people he has done just this.

He is further eroding people’s trust in politicians.

He will be mucking with the disability support pension and the aged pension despite specific commitments to the contrary.

He lied.

You can’t make not lying such a virtue before an election then flip around after you win and say “Yeah but . . . “. It won’t fly.

The biggest betrayal is that he now looks like he’ll be imposing a “levy” or tax on incomes over $80,000 of $800.

A complete and utter broken promise.

He ran on the mantra of “lower taxes”, scrapping certain taxes and imposing no new taxes.

$80,000 is not a lot these days. These people aren’t rich. They are middle Australia.

Imposing a tax on them to pay down debt unnecessarily and in a rushed manner is foolish and highly resented.

The “budget emergency” is spin and this new tax will hurt our economy.

They knew the situation before the election and made pledges in that light. They have no excuse for breaking commitments or backflipping.

It is indeed frustrating to see the level of debate online. Liberal supporters are on high alert and highly defensive.

They refuse to acknowledge that this government is a shocking display and highly unpopular.

At every opportunity they spout the same lines they have used against Labor for the last 6 years.

It’s time they acknowledged they were elected based on certain specific commitments.

They will be held to account for the years they spent spouting populist talking points instead of engaging in constructive debate.

People are offended. People are indignant. People are mad as hell.

Myself included.

Those who love our country and do not want Abbott destroying the middle class based on blatant lies, while giving the rich a free pass, will be publicly standing up to him and his disgracefully inept government at every single opportunity. Every single one.

Hopefully Abbott’s deceptive and offensive betrayals that are by far worse than anything they claim Labor ever did will be a bad memory after the next federal election.

Here’s to this happening sooner rather than later.


Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.


“I will not let you smear the good people who marched”

Image courtesy of leesalittle.com

Image courtesy of leesalittle.com

The Daily Telegraph’s Tim Blair has a bee in his bonnet about March in March. Brisbane Lead Organiser for March in March Matthew N. Donovan responds.

Tim Blair is at it again it seems.

Out of all the issues he could have chosen to cover he once again chose March in March as the topic for his highly read blog. Why it’s highly read is anyone’s guess.

I thank him for the spotlight he continues to shine on what was one of the highest turnouts for a protest in many years.

Tim, I take issue with your pathetic childish attempt at an opinion piece. Allow me to relieve you of your delusions and blind or wilful ignorance.

A big task. There’s quite a bit to wade through, but I’m a glutton for punishment.

I’m fully aware you only have one mode. That’s progressive attack mode. That’s how you got your job with Rupert and why you keep it.

You serve at Murdoch’s pleasure.

A condemnation of the standard he has for his publications.

Spotting a progressive opinion writer who works for News Corp Australia proves a challenge to even the most news aware among us.

I personally don’t agree with conservatism. You don’t agree with progressivism. That’s fine. We’re all adults.

However, having read some of your writing and hearing you on 2GB with Ben Fordham recently I’m not too sure my last point applies entirely. Something to work on perhaps?

My issue is not with you and your politics. It’s with your condescending, chest beating, arrogant language and the simplistic stereotypes you cynically use in your writing.

I’m not sure if you have a restricted vocabulary, a lack of debating skills or are just plain lazy but you really need to give your writing more thought.

It’s weak, it lacks depth and it’s tacky. I know you work for Murdoch, but seriously?

March in March was a major success. Not because you acknowledge this fact, but because you don’t.

You have gone after the movement and it’s participants like a pitbull.

I will however not let the likes of you trot out such disgraceful statements against its participants without asserting my right of reply, on their behalf.

This movement is grassroots.

Opponents think it is too large, too organised and too vocal to not have some kind of high profile backer or organiser.

I’ll tell you who the sole backer is: the Australian people.

That’s what makes it so powerful and that’s what annoys you about its prominence on social media and online news.

We have major issues with how Tony Abbott is carrying out his job, his words, his priorities and the sections of society he has chosen to attack.

You see no issue with his agenda.


That’s because you’re a cheer-leading acolyte.

We have a right to tell our government we don’t approve of the job they are doing as did those against previous governments.

Many thinking Australians are embarrassed to have him as our leader and resent the direction he seems to be pointing our country.

He has no great vision of Australia. Just delusional ideas about some imaginary hey day of yesteryear. Menzies? Howard? Ahhhh yes! The “Golden Age”.

When Abbott’s key mentor, ally and advisor, John Howard thinks reinstating knighthoods is “anachronistic” you know there are serious issues.

It only serves to reinforce our deep concerns about how out of touch our current leader is.

The former prime minister, who was one of the most monarchist leaders in our history, was lobbied by cabinet to introduce imperial titles and resisted during his years in government.

This makes Abbott’s unilateral decision look even more out there than most Australians already think it is.

Let’s be frank. The Abbott Government is there to hold back the inevitable march of progress, if only for a short while. All in aid of helping big business, the well off and vested interests.

He leads an Australia where big business is at the head of the table and the rest of us are supposed to sit in the corner until the next election. You seem to abide by that too Tim but we don’t and won’t.

March in March has no agenda to overturn the government. That is hysteria and further discredits what we’re led to believe is the expert analysis and opinion in your column.

Were you outraged when conservative supporters said the Gillard Government wasn’t legitimate? Were you outraged when a few hundred people rallied in Canberra egged on by Tony’s good mates Gina Rinehart and Alan Jones? Were you outraged that Tony Abbott, Bronwyn Bishop and Sophie Mirrabella chose to stand in front of those infamous signs, and by doing so endorsed them?

Nothing. Silence.

How telling.

I made it clear that participants of March in March Brisbane should keep signs and chants respectful and civil. All other organisers around the country did the same as well as our central campaign team.

I agree. Some signs and chants were in bad taste and only served to dumb down the debate in this country.

I’m proud to see I saw none of this in Brisbane.

It is unfortunate that some people become so angry they use confrontational means.

I continue to advocate for a more civil debate based on ideas and what we want for our nation.

I asked many times that attendees respect these wishes but given it is a grassroots movement some chose to ignore me or were unaware of them.

Short of physically removing them we can’t avoid this occasionally happening. It’s annoying and it distracts from the cause but it comes with the territory.

The main reason I am writing this response is because I will not let you smear the good people who attended because there are a few attendees who serve your political agenda to diminish March in March and hope it goes away.

Even Murdoch's Courier-Mail is poking fun at Abbott's retrograde reintroduction of knighthoods.

Even Murdoch’s Courier-Mail is poking fun at Abbott’s retrograde reintroduction of knighthoods.

100,000+ people marched that day. Some were seasoned marchers, some had never attended a march until now. People from across the spectrum from the very young to the very elderly. These people aren’t “radicals”. These people aren’t “Greenies”. These people aren’t what people like you term “dole bludgers”.

They are caring and concerned thinking Australians.

How dare you shove them into your black and white, “goodies” vs “baddies” worldview!

You did not attend an event. You are in no position to lecture or demean those who participated and you should be repudiated every time you attempt to smear these 100,000+ people for the actions of the few.

I also point out how well peaceful our protests were. Not one arrest. Not one! Not the anarchy and extremism you and your mates at News Corp Australia like to go on about apoplectically.

We understand why you do it but don’t assume we are blind to what you are up to and won’t return fire back every time you enter attack mode with your cheap personal attacks on our movement and its participants.

The chorus of those who are concerned about the Abbott agenda and his way of governing is growing every day.

March in March is growing. Our concerns are genuine. Our passion sincere.

We’re not going anywhere.

Tell Tim you work, contribute to society, care about Australia and marched peacefully in March. Take a photo holding your message and email to blairt@dailytelegraph.com.au or tweet to @TimBlairBlog.

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

Abbott is Murdoch’s dream come true

Abbott and Murdoch (image courtesy of smh.com.au)

Abbott and Murdoch (image courtesy of smh.com.au)

The Australian’s Christian Kerr was the one called up to last bucket the Labor Party’s leader.

There is nothing unusual about this but I was struck by the column inches wasted on what can be only labelled as an infantile array of unnecessary and completely un-newsworthy cheap shots at the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

He bases his commentary on Bill’s initial response to the closure of Toyota in Australia.

He derides his passionate press stop with Labor colleagues, saying Shorten’s ‘jumble of thought and emotion served neither his cause nor his constituency’.

He then gives a backhanded compliment to him:

‘But it was a different Shorten who appeared in question time. He looked smart; well-groomed, well-dressed – even well-pressed’.

Well I’m glad he met your standards, Christian.

To top off this childish spray he says:

“The schoolboy hair and rumpled suit were gone, but the Opposition Leader may have spent summer in class in elocution lessons.”

What a puerile effort!

The only opinion writers you will find in The Australian that present the other side of the debate are either former or present Labor Party MPs.

The list of Liberal acolytes and staunch conservatives at “The Heart of the Nation” is extensive. Judith Sloan, Henry Ergas, Chris Kenny, Grace Collier, Janet Albrechtsen, Nikki Savva, Peter van Onselen and Dennis Shanahan all speaking in one voice.

To be fair, Peter van Onselen does occasionally stray into the territory of supporting Labor occasionally but it is always uncomfortably done and in a backhanded manner.

He becomes indignant, his glass jaw on display, when it is suggested he is a Liberal.

He’s a former Liberal staffer, who writes for The Australian and has his own show on Sky News, along with the TV host-cum-shock jock wannabe Paul Murray.

Do I really need to say anymore? He knows which side his bread is buttered on.

All this isn’t an accident. They are paid to push the IPA Fox News conservatism Rupert Murdoch is so in love with.

A quick look at Murdoch’s Twitter stream is enough to make me ill. A pulpit from which this self important man lectures governments and guides his minions.

This is done both for self-interest, to keep the Abbott Government in his pocket, but also to drive the resurgence of Murdoch’s ideology in Australian society.

Abbott is Murdoch’s dream come true. A willing accomplice in dragging Australia back to the bad old “Golden Age” of Howard or, better still, back to the visionary Menzies era. An era where Australia stagnated as a conservative bastion and complete backwater.

A lot of his opinion writers seem to enjoy trying to immaturely bait and annoy progressives and are making a habit of constantly defending the bungling Abbott Government at all costs.

Can you imagine the commentary if Julia Gillard or Kevin Rudd started their terms in office how Abbott has? The cabal of Murdoch facilitators would be feverishly speculating about leadership challenges from the front pages of the entire News Corp Australia stable of publications.

All this is completely fine in a free press but who does The Australian serve?

Would it not be best to try and present news in an unbiased manner, without riddling it with opinion?

Would it not be best to have a balanced stable of opinion writers from across the spectrum to present the diverse array of views in our nation?

For somebody as experienced as Rupert Murdoch you would think he would respect the values of “fairness and balance”.

Given the tagline for his joke of a “news network” Fox News is “fair and balanced” it would seem Murdoch has no concept of the most basic of journalistic principles. Or maybe he simply doesn’t care?

Can I make a suggest Rupert? Don’t call The Australian “The Heart of Australia”.

“The Voice of Rupert Murdoch” has a ring to it I think.

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

Abbott’s culture wars and ideology risk Australia’s future

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

Image courtesy of abc.net.au

Through their blind ideology, their words and their actions the Abbott Government has overseen the death of the auto industry in Australia and they are just getting started. Matthew Donovan outlines the reckless Abbott Government agenda.

It is crystal clear the Abbott Government has no clue what they are doing.

The announcement by Toyota of their closure in Australia is the latest casualty of the ideology that has taken control of the country.

Let’s be clear about this. The loss of our over 70 year car manufacturing industry is a disaster of unimaginable proportions.

The reality of this is not yet accepted by Tony Abbott and his government.

The South Australian and Victorian Premiers will be beating a path to Tony Abbott’s door begging for adequate support packages to insulate their economies from what now looks like almost certain recession.

They shouldn’t hold their breath.

If the support package offered to South Australia after the loss of Holden is any indication, their pleas will be falling on deaf ears.

These latest events have the potential to spell the loss of 50,000 jobs and will severely impact up to 200,000 jobs involved in the supply chain.

There is no plan for these workers.

Tony Abbott’s inadequate response is:

“While some businesses close, other businesses open, while some jobs end, other jobs start”.

The fact is the Australian economy will struggle to absorb these workers and their skill sets. Some of these workers don’t know anything else.

The government is in fantasy land if they believe this path was inevitable.

This is a crisis completely of the government’s making.

The only conclusion I can draw is their “no government handouts” line exists in complete isolation to all expert advice and is guided by a blind observance of their ideology.

An ideology that lacks any wriggle room for compromise or pragmatism.

This government is far right and willingly accept the consequences of their misguided actions.

If they did listen to expert advice they would realise the modest investment sought by the auto industry in Australia is nothing compared to what the governments of Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States provide.

For every $1 invested to support the auto industry up to $20 is returned to the Australian economy.

The Abbott Government just don’t care about the impact of their actions.

They are more than willing to overstate worker rights and entitlements at SPC Ardmona rather than support Australian industry and its workers.

We also see the ideology of the government on display when it comes to attacks on the ABC, the self-serving political witch hunt against unions and unionised workers and the false statements made about so called bias in the current school curriculum.

All of this will fade into insignificance when the findings of the stacked Commission of Audit are handed down.

The axe is about to be taken to our society and our social safety net.

Will business be asked to play their part in this process? I doubt it.

It will all be on the back of the middle class and lower class workers.

Mining companies continue to get healthy subsidies.

High end superannuation account holders have been given a tax cut while the lowest workers receive a tax hike.

This government is driven by the principle of “smaller government”.

In their view, this is the era of “personal responsibility” and the end of the “age of entitlement”.

This is the worst government in Australian history.

A government that allegedly wants to focus on jobs and growth but has done everything to create the conditions for the opposite outcomes.

I am convinced this wouldn’t have happened under the Labor Party. They were more than prepared to support good Australian jobs in manufacturing.

Tony Abbott will oversee its demise.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten puts it best when he says:

“Tony Abbott knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.”

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

The corrosive influence of Murdoch divides and conquers

Image courtesy of antinuclear.net

Image courtesy of antinuclear.net

The shadow of Rupert Murdoch and his loss making propaganda machine looms large over the Abbott Government and its far right agenda.

The victim of the agenda this time? The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The beloved Australian institution, often affectionately called “Auntie”, is under coordinated attack from News Corporation’s Australian newspapers.

Tony Abbott recently gave his friends in the media the all clear to enter full attack mode after he said to his mate Ray Hadley at 2GB that:

” . . . the ABC instinctively takes everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

It is clearly an outrageous statement. But why should this surprise anyone? He’s prone to making those.

He was obviously irritated by coverage that was damaging to his government in relation to the Snowden leaks and allegations of abuse perpetrated by the Australian Navy against asylum seekers.

Before I go any further, I should probably take you back a few steps.

The ABC has traditionally been in the crosshairs of most conservatives — who want to control the whole media agenda. To them, compared to the one-eyed coverage from Australia’s Murdoch-dominated conservative press, the ABC is “left wing biased”.

In most reasonable Australian’s minds, however, the ABC provides fair, balanced and award winning coverage. Immeasurably better than the frothing right-wing Orwellian “fair and balanced” coverage provided by Murdoch’s Fox News at any rate.

Chief among the critics is the far right “think tank”, the Institute of Public Affairs (IPA) — a lobby group for hire. The IPA is able to act as mouthpiece for its business sponsors without any requirement to disclose who they actually are, whilst pretending in the media to be a venerable independent research institute. In truth, this is nothing more than a scam and a corporate rort — but don’t expect the Abbott Government to announce a royal commission into that any time soon.

Many people may not be aware that Rupert Murdoch’s father Keith helped establish the IPA — which itself, in turn, helped establish the Liberal Party. Indeed, Rupert was much heralded guest speaker at the IPA’s recent 70th anniversary celebration.

A cosy and closely intertwined relationship indeed.

The guest list at that event reads like a progressives nightmare — Rupert Murdoch, Gina Rinehart, Andrew Bolt and, of course, Tony Abbott.

The IPA is, without question, politically partisan lobby group that works closely in tandem with the Liberal Party and its corporate sponsors — including its public relations arm, the Murdoch media.

The IPA have been very open in saying they want the ABC sold off and again spruiked this desire recently as part of their wish list for Abbott to undertake.

In fact, in a brazen display of political pork-barrelling, the Abbott Government recently appointed the stereotypical smug self-entitled Tory Tim Wilson, the former IPA director, to a $325,000 role as a Human Rights Commissioner — what Attorney General George Brandis calls his “Freedom Commissioner”. More Orwellian phrases from this Government.

Wilson, during his time at the IPA, actually called for the end of the Human Rights Commission (HRC). He is also someone who went on countless episodes of ABC’s The Drum calling for “smaller government” and an end to “government waste” — yet was delighted to drop his job at the IPA in an instant to receive a cushy Government sinecure. Hypocrisy much?

All this would all be light and shade, apart from the fact the IPA is believed to be heavily financially backed by Rupert Murdoch. This is difficult to establish because, as mentioned, they refuse to officially acknowledge who funds their “think tank” and its operations. However, we do know the IPA have received the foreign media mogul’s largesse in the past.

The IPA is many things, but one of them is most certainly not a think tank. It is an agent and agent provocateur for far right vested interests.

These attacks on the ABC are part of a long term Murdoch desire to delegitimise the highly respected institution in the minds of Australians and legitimise the cuts at the ABC the IPA and Murdoch want — chiefly to hamstring a competitor to Murdoch’s foreign-owned propaganda outfit.

And this is an agenda to which Abbott and his cabinet will surely oblige.

High on Murdoch’s wish list is to pick up the $250 million 10 year Australia Network contract. Whether he gets this is yet to be seen, but there appear to be moves by the Abbott Government to strip it from ABC and maybe even shut it down.

Why all the efforts to please the IPA and Murdoch?

Well, the Liberals, for the most part, owe the fact they are in Government to the the Murdoch network. The biased coverage of News Corp Australia’s newspapers during the last 4 years – and most particularly the election campaign, as steered by Murdoch apparatchik Col Allan of New York Post fame – was instrumental in getting Abbott into office — an office he simply never merited.

That’s what makes these developments most galling.

The Abbott Government is apparently concerned about bias at ABC and yet they give the Murdoch press a complete free pass to act in the most irresponsible manner possible on a range of fronts — whether it be political bias, climate change or promoting its own business interests.

If this is about the standard of media in this country, isn’t it reasonable to expect them to look beyond Liberal Party self-interest?

Critics of the ABC will say there is a different standard expected because it is taxpayer funded organisation, but isn’t it reasonable to expect all media – whether funded by taxpayers or not – to act in a fair, reasonable and ethical manner. The Murdoch media fail that test on a daily basis.

And do we really want a country where media considers blind patriotism before the any other consideration?

As usual, the corrosive influence of Murdoch divides and conquers and moves the agenda ever more to the right.

Make sure to keep an eye on the IPA and their wish list. I suspect more of their wishes will come true by virtue of a keen and willing government.

The vigilant among us need to keep them to account and shine a spotlight on how they collude and cooperate.

We don’t want Murdoch becoming in Australia what his mates the Koch Brothers have become in the United States, which is exactly the way it’s heading.

This article has also been published on Independent Australia under The ABC, the IPA and Abbott’s debts to Murdoch.

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

The Abbott Praetorian Guard at The Australian

Image courtesy of video.news.com.au

Image courtesy of video.news.com.au

The Abbott Pretorian Guard at The Australian – and all other Murdoch newspapers – have closed ranks around their man in The Lodge. A man under siege from all sides.

He accrues baggage every single time he opens his mouth. The outrage on social media is palpable.

The Australian likes to conveniently disregard Twitter as being “Left biased”.

The same can’t be said for Facebook with its much larger user base.

Facebook is also lighting up with fury over the regressive agenda of the Coalition.

The nation wide community organised rally movement March in March has been gathering momentum almost entirely on Facebook.

People are unimpressed and they are angry about Abbott’s vision of helping the big end of town at the expense of the social safety that everyday Australians rely on.

The Australian way of life is being severely damaged and in record time.

I am absolutely hostile towards Tony Abbott and all he stands for. I have made that clear time and time again. I wear it as a badge of honour. We deserve better than the sorry lot we have in charge now.

The Murdoch media is busily trying to spin Abbott’s horrendous showing at the World Economic Forum in Davos. It’s made worse by the fact he is currently the President of the G20.

Unfortunately, the man whose turn it was in The Weekend Australian to plead Abbott’s case, Dennis Shanahan, isn’t so clear about his motives and objectives when writing his opinion pieces.

He spurns Labor every time he mentions them no matter what the issue. He praises the Coalition at every opportunity. Just the way Murdoch likes it.

It would not surprise me if he, along with Paul Kelly and Henry Ergas, is in regular contact with Murdoch about what to write and how to write.

They are Rupert’s de facto voices in The Australian.

I would say Rupert writes them himself but I have seen his writing and I wrote better in my first semester of journalism school.

Dennis at least can string his words together.

I also assume Dennis talks to Abbott frequently. Mr Abbott only talks regularly to those in the media who are friendly towards his warped agenda.

This would easily explain why he relishes talking to 2GB and other divisive, biased and deceptive shock jocks who pander to the lowest common denominator.

Abbott, along with his ministers, is not as keen to appear on Lateline, 7:30, ABC or Q&A.

How many days since his last appearance on Q&A again?

This can mostly be put down to the overly controlling Chief of Staff Peta Credlin, the wife of the Liberal Party head Brian Lougnanne.

This woman has more power than the hapless and effectively irrelevant Deputy PM Warren Truss of the disregarded National Party.

Credlin is the woman to blame for several ministers in hiding, most prominently the disgraceful Scott Morrison.

Truth, facts, scrutiny and accountability scare this government witless. Disregard any election commitment in this regard.

Shanahan’s characteristically fawning piece is hard to take seriously.

A quick look at the latest polls suggests all is not “beer and skittles” for the Abbott Government, as Dennis tries to suggest.

Dennis seems to laugh at the concept of Abbott being presented as “old-fashioned, unthinking, ‘innumerate’, and uninterested when it comes to economics”.

A quick Google search of Tony Abbott or a visit to YouTube would suggest Dennis either hasn’t done his research on this man, believes in his agenda or is utterly clueless and blind to reality. Maybe all of them.

Tony Abbott is the most conservative – and pathetic leader – Australia has had since the early 70s under the hopeless and out of touch Billy McMahon.

That’s right, Billy McMahon. The same Prime Minister who was so abysmal Murdoch refused to support him during the 1972 federal election.

Nobody with any sense can dispute Abbott’s conservatism.

His notorious history at Sydney University is enough to suggest he is completely out of step, destructive, negative and aggressive.

He happily and cunningly walks the path of negative fear politics and brings out the worst in people.

Typical divisive Tory politics.

This might be expected in university but at the highest level it disgraces the good name of our country.

Some Young Liberals have followed his lead. Nasty trolls with no policy clue whatsoever and a backward view of the world.

Dennis says how happy “senior business people” were with him and his speech.

He says foreign business leaders were all saying they wished they “could have one of him”.

They want him? They can have him!

Tony Abbott is the leader that the business community wanted desperately and helped elect.

Why wouldn’t they be happy?

While business falls over itself to take advantage of Abbott’s selfish business orientated agenda the attacks on ordinary Australians and nasty surprises keep piling up.

Do you get this from Dennis?

No, of course not.

He’s too busy praising the agenda of “smaller government”, “less red and green tape”, and Abbott’s belief “government doesn’t always know best”.

Abbott’s attacks on Medicare, social security, the disabled, the environmental movement, education, the LGBTI community and health, among many others haven’t gone unnoticed by those who matter. The voters.

Abbott refuses to engage in the international efforts to mitigate climate change and declined to be involved in the CHOGM climate change fund.

Let’s not forget that this government failed to send Environment Minister Greg Hunt to a key climate change conference recently and irritated many nations with their obstructionist attitude to measures to address climate change.

His government earned Australia the “Colossal Fossil” Award for being the most retrograde nation at the conference.

Makes so many of us so proud.

Dennis obviously agrees government should “get out of the way” of business and let them make their money in peace as Abbott suggests.

I ask Dennis to wind his mind back to 2008. The world economy was in compete free fall.

Why? Deregulation and inept oversight of unfettered capitalism in the United States.

Tony Abbott actually criticised Australia’s action to halt the impacts of the GFC on Australia. That would have had many eyes in the room rolling.

A true economic innumerate and a man who himself has said he has no interest in economics.

Not to mention his continued, impertinent and quite frankly childish efforts to drag domestic politics onto the global stage despite being against all accepted protocols.

I sometimes wonder why I read and support the News Corp Australia monstrosity.

I have to remind myself it’s to call out the completely biased drivel of “journalists” like Dennis Shanahan.

A man who passes off free advertising for the Coalition Government as well thought out and impartial analysis.

Pull the other one Dennis.

You may be a writer but you are not a journalist and your analysis – in written form or video – is truly hopeless.

In closing I share my one and only interaction with the man of the hour:


I can’t for the life of me understand what goes through your head.

Everything is geared around Labor being bad and or doing bad.

Labor drops in the polls. Bad.

Labor rises in the polls. Still bad.

What universe are you in?

You expect Labor to go from 42% to 51%?

It is just blatant inability to try and pretend there is some ounce of balance at The Australian.

You just end up looking like a political hack and damn right fool.

His response:

As a disappointed and frustrated Labor supporter your anger is understandable.

But your baseless allegations of bias are unacceptable.

You clearly can’t read or accept polling figures which Labor MPs understand and for which they don’t stupidly blame me.

You are clearly loyal to Labor but your loyalty blinds you to reality and your ignorance, both of polling and manners, makes it necessary for me to block you along with a lot of cranks and nut jobs as Julia Gillard would say.

I’m always happy to have sensible political discussion with readers but your abusive comments put you outside that realm.

Rest assured the PM’s office does know how to have a sensible conversation about the polls and note that I wasn’t fomenting leadership destabilisation.

You’re blocked.

Dennis is more than happy to cast the first stone but when the same level of analysis is turned back on him he has a propensity to become indignant.

A typical Tory trait in my experience.

This article has also been published on Independent Australia under the title Shanahan’s unimpressive drivel about Abbott’s Davos debacle.

Matthew Donovan (pictured) is a former Labor candidate for the seat of Surfers Paradise in Queensland as well as a political commentator and freelance journalist. He’s an active Labor campaigner from Burleigh Branch on the Gold Coast. His interests are progressive politics, policy development and media/social media strategy. Matthew’s studied Journalism, International Relations and History at the University of Southern Queensland. He plans to study Political Science in the near future.

Australia is NOT an economic basket case

Image by smh.com.au

Image by smh.com.au

Australia is not an economic basket case and the deficit to be announced in the upcoming budget is not the end of the world. Matthew Donovan reports.

MANY OF THE regulars on Independent Australia, you will know by now I am determined to make sure indisputable facts enter the national debate this election year.

I have recently written about how we are the lucky country and why we are being deceived on debt, but it seems the tendency to revert to gloom about our economy persists.

The facts about our budget – expenses versus revenues – just don’t seem to be cutting through. The fact that we came through the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) stronger than almost any other country doesn’t seem to get a hearing.

I take this opportunity to remind people that Australia was the only country in the developed world not to enter recession between 2008 and 2010.

In fact, Australia has not entered recession since 1991. A world record of 21 years, which we achieved last year.

The recent hysteria regarding the deficit that is predicted in the next budget only serves to frustrate me further.

It is for the above reasons I decided to write this article, outlining in simple terms what has happened in our economy since late 2008, when Lehman Brothers collapsed in the United States. (more…)

Tony Abbott’s shaky campaign – beginning of the end?

Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

Malcolm Turnbull with Tony Abbott (Photo: Sydney Morning Herald)

Tony Abbott has spent most of this year hiding from scrutiny and waiting for what the media say is a certain election win later this year — but have the wheels started to fall off his campaign in the last few weeks? Matthew Donovan reports.

TAKE NOTE of this date. 10 April 2013.

In my opinion that is the date the Coalition’s campaign started to crumble around them.

The much hyped release of their NBN alternative could hardly have gone worse. Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – or as Tony likes to call him, Mr Broadband – were clearly out of their depth at the awkward policy announcement of their “faster, cheaper and more affordable” broadband plan.

It was nothing short of cringe-worthy.

The content of the plan was thoroughly panned across the board and social media had a field day. Within hours, the tag #fraudband had been adopted on Twitter and memes decrying its lack of vision were springing up by the minute. Experts were quick to reject the idea that we shouldn’t take fibre to the home (FTTH) but rather to the node (FTTN) and then use the existing copper network, yesterday’s technology, to reach the home.

It will deliver much slower speeds than Labor’s plan and quickly become redundant as technology and demand outpaces its roll out. An outcome that clearly isn’t satisfactory for Australia’s data and technology hungry consumers.

Not the best of starts when trying to address one of their greatest weaknesses — credible costed policies.

Within two weeks, Tony Abbott plunged his party into another publicly embarrassing situation, this time, asylum seeker policy.

On 23 April, he unveiled what he hoped would be a stunt to wedge Labor. Sadly, for him, it blew up in his face almost immediately.

He happily posed in front of a large roadside sign that stated 639 “illegals” had arrived in Australia since Labor took over, adding:

“Labor have lost control of our borders.”

The response from some in the media was swift and pointed.

Jane McAdam from The National Times clearly wasn’t impressed [author’s emphasis]:

You cannot apply for a refugee visa before you leave a country because a “refugee” is, by definition, someone outside their country. Even if you cross a border, Australian embassies abroad cannot issue refugee visas to those on the move – such as people fleeing the Taliban in Afghanistan. Further, it is highly unlikely that refugees will be able to get a visa of any other kind, such as a tourist or work visa.

For example, an Iraqi who applies to an Australian embassy for such a visa will likely be screened out, precisely because of the assumption that they will claim asylum on arrival in Australia. It is a catch-22.

For these reasons, the Refugee Convention prohibits countries from imposing penalties on asylum seekers who enter without a passport or visa. Indeed, in some cases arrival without documentation may in fact help to demonstrate that a refugee claim is compelling and credible.

Article 31 is one of the most fundamental elements of the Refugee Convention precisely because it underscores the right of people in distress to seek protection – even if their actions constitute a breach of a country’s domestic immigration laws.

Indeed, even the two international treaties on human trafficking and smuggling both make clear that being a victim of trafficking or smuggling must not negatively affect a person’s right to claim asylum and receive protection.

The opposition’s use of the term “illegal” is designed to tarnish people’s perceptions about the legitimacy of asylum seekers’ claims. It is language that dehumanises and criminalises. Invoking it is either ignorant or deliberately mischievous, since the act of seeking asylum is not a crime, but the right of every individual.

This is nothing more than John Howard style dog-whistling and, happily, Abbott was challenged about these assertions at a press conference.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxlunUpz-Nc] (more…)

Margaret Thatcher divisive in death, attacks and celebrations unsavoury

Margaret Thatcher (image from theguardian.com)

Margaret Thatcher (image from theguardian.com)

Margaret Thatcher is as controversial in death as she was in life. The response to her death, by some, has been disappointing. Matthew Donovan explains.

I must admit I have been a little shocked and disappointed by the vitriol being meted out by some on the progressive side of politics towards a recently deceased Margaret Thatcher.

Those of you that know me, my background and political activities know I am a staunch and unapologetic left winger. So far be it from me to declare I am a fan of her actions in government.

She was a force to be reckoned with, especially when it came to unions and the idea of the collective. Her actions, to many, meant unemployment and a loss of quality of life.

Entire areas, most specifically areas such as Brixton, which were very much working class communities were smashed to pieces by her unyielding approach. However, it is unpleasant to see people celebrate the death of anyone.

For my mind that is not how progressives should behave. Our values lead us to be better than that. Better people than that.

I’m not saying we should mourn or fawn over her in death. I, for one, don’t have any strong emotions in relation to her death.

What I do have is respect for her place in history and her will to achieve her vision at all costs.

That’s politics. One side wins and they set about implementing their agenda. The opportunity to have a say about that agenda is given to electors every election where they pass judgment on where the country is heading.

Civility needs to remain part of politics no matter how one feels personally about the program being implemented by leaders or proposed to be implemented.

Tony Abbott is a perfect example of not remaining civil in politics and that is why I truly despise his approach.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhsl0QHSDWE&w=420&h=315]

One thing that does ring alarm bells for me is Tony Abbott’s statement on her passing and how he views her approach and legacy:

“Margaret Thatcher was one of the greatest British prime ministers and one of the most significant world leaders of our times.

She was the first female prime minister of Great Britain and ranks with the greatest of prime ministers because of the quality of her leadership and the impact she had on Britain and the wider world.

Margaret Thatcher arrested the decline of Britain and gave the British people renewed confidence. She ensured the British people no longer simply dwelt on the glories of the past but could enjoy a strong and prosperous future.

The thoughts of the Coalition are with Baroness Thatcher’s family and the British people at this time.”

It is instructive of how he would lead this country and where he would take us. I will be fighting it with all my will.

The reason I am a little disappointed about the response of some people I would call friends is because it reminds me of the actions and words of nasty, repulsive trolls on anti-Gillard pages.

We can express our opinions without personal, vitriolic attacks. We’re smarter than that.

She was a divisive figure and there is no doubting that.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TA_zEltxnb4&w=420&h=315]

I personally would have preferred she was never prime minister and I am distressed by the impact her policies had on many.

The level of hate towards her, even in death, brings that into sharp focus.

When all is said and done a human being has died and there is a family mourning the loss of a loved relative.

Dancing on her grave during that time is an ugly look.

(Originally published on www.independentaustralia.net)

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