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Category Archives: News and Politics

A tale of two ideologies

By 2353NM

Once upon a time, the newly elected progressive Australian Government was told by their advisers that financial calamity was to sweep the world, bringing financial ruin, uncertainty and pestilence (the last one might just be made up) to humanity. The newly elected government, being of the mind that they employ specialists who have likely forgotten more about their subjects than the politicians had ever known, asked what to do. The advice was ‘to go early and go hard’. Provide short term, medium term and long-term economic stimulus to the community.

So the government wrote pretty well everyone in the country a cheque for $900, which some saved, some bought the ‘new-fangled’ wide screen TV or made repairs to their homes and others distributed to the community by consuming the products available at the local bar or pokie palace. Short term stimulus done.

The government then devised a program that would improve the living conditions of thousands of people around their fair land. They decided to support those that wanted to insulate their houses. This would ensure that energy consumption to heat or cool the populations’ homes would be lower forever more. Regrettably a small number of insulation installers lost their lives, predominately due to lax occupational health and safety standards in a number of states where those out for a quick buck cashed in on the largesse without care for the employee or customer. As it took a while for people to decide if they wanted insulation and for the material to become available – medium term stimulus, tick.

The newly elected government believed in providing educational opportunities to all. Observing that a lot of schools didn’t have appropriate facilities for indoor sport, assemblies, performance spaces or even a place to run around when it was wet outside, the government determined that its long-term stimulus would be to fund the design and construction of multi-purpose school halls. Anyone who has ever designed and built anything will know that the process can easily take two or three years. Bingo – long term stimulus.

Those that followed a more conservative ideology were aghast! Some of the $900 cheques were being spent ‘inappropriately’, including the casinos or pokie palace! Exactly said the government, that keeps the casino or pokie attendant in a job and earning money. Others claimed insulating houses would increase energy efficiency, to the detriment of the large companies that mined the coal and owned the power stations. Exactly said the government, the homeowners will reap the benefits of lower energy prices for decades while reducing carbon emissions as less power, gas and heating oil would be consumed across the country.

Those that didn’t get the economic stimulus message also asked why schools that couldn’t afford to build their own hall were being given the money to do so. The government explained that the halls increased the opportunity for all students to excel at sport or become a famous actor and if nothing else provide a play area in wet weather. Besides, the construction would employ thousands of people for years. Those employed as a result of the program would then have the confidence to buy the new wide screen TV, spend a bit on the pokies as well as continue to provide economic stimulus to the shopkeepers and construction material manufacturers of our fair land. They would also probably return a bit to the government through income and payroll taxes as well as GST.

The result – Australia was one of the few developed economies that didn’t fall into recession between 2007 and 2010.

After a few years waging war on the government’s ‘feckless’ spending, amid claims of maxing out the credit card, rorts that benefitted political friends and finding every little process and procedural failure, the conservatives were in power. There was no recognition given to the ‘go hard and go fast’ mantra’s quick implementation, leading to some finding the inevitable flaws in the process and exploiting them.

Twelve years after the financial crisis that was going to affect the entire world, a global pandemic swept the world. In early 2020, the government’s ‘fearless leader’ (so named because he stabbed his predecessor in the back for having the hide to attempt to introduce an emissions trading scheme) addressed us all one Friday afternoon and advised that financial ruin, uncertainty and pestilence (the first one might just be made up this time) were going to be experienced across our fair land. From the following Monday there were going to be some restrictions on our ability to gather together and move around, but they were only going to be introduced after he saw his favourite footy team, ‘the Sharkies’, play their first game for the new football year (and presumably attend his Pentecostal church on the Sunday).

The restrictions caused a lot of employees to either not be rostered for their casual shifts or stood down from their permanent employment. Our ‘fearless leader’ claimed there was nothing he could do, as less than a year earlier he had gone to an election claiming that the government’s budget was ‘already back in the black next year’ despite the logical tautology. You could even buy the ‘back in the black’ coffee mug from the Liberal Party online store! We had unlikely bedfellows, the Union movement and the Business Council of Australia, together with the states, imploring the Australian Government to do something to avoid widespread financial calamity and ruin across the country (maybe the first one wasn’t made up after all).

The government, still hurting from the marketing and sales disaster that was the ‘back in the black’ coffee mugs finally agreed to introduce a system where they would pay the employers of stood down staff who would in turn pay the employees a fixed sum. Despite Johnson’s UK having the skills to calculate a percentage of the normal wage payment for each employee, it was too hard for our ‘fearless leader’ to work out someone on $700 a week and someone on $1500 a week probably had different levels of financial commitment and some would struggle on a fixed payment. Always looking at the marketing hook (remember the black coffee mugs) they christened the payment JobKeeper but put conditions on the payment that it would reduce after some time and be eliminated towards the end of 2020 when the pandemic had gone away.

The states, fearing the effects of the calamity on their health systems of people infected with the pandemic coming into the country and straight out into the community volunteered to oversee the federal responsibility of mandatory quarantine of returning travellers in hotels because all but one of the government’s purpose-built quarantine facilities around the country were sold off years ago. Our ‘fearless leader’ imposed caps on the numbers of arrivals into the country. Our ‘fearless leader’ also agreed to look after the sourcing and purchasing of vaccines and to ensure that the pandemic didn’t run riot in aged care homes.

In June 2021, The Guardian was reporting that the management of the vaccine rollout was ‘a dog’s breakfast’. While the purchase of 1 million Pfizer COVID 19 doses from Poland, announced in August 2021 was helpful – it begs the question why a comparatively rich country such as Australia is scouring the world in the second half of 2021 looking or something it had the ability to reserve and purchase half way through 2020. Our first purchase of Pfizer was only made in November 2020 with additional purchases in February and April 2021. But there were still ‘back in the black’ coffee mugs for sale.

Aged care homes have been subject to visits by the pandemic on a number of occasions and unfortunately hundreds of residents have died ahead of their time, with little ability for their relatives to say goodbye, ensure that the resident was comfortable in their last moments on earth or, on a number of occasions, even attend the funeral. At the time of writing this, there are still significant dangers for residents of aged care homes as the staff were not vaccinated at the same time as the residents – and the staff are far more likely to pick the virus up in the community.

Some firms that received ‘JobKeeper’ funds chose to keep the funding even though they were fortunate enough to increase profit during the pandemic. For example, when Harvey Norman totted up their annual financial statements in July 2021, they found their profit increased by 116%. Did they return their $14.5million in ‘JobKeeper’ – not a chance. Who would have thought that people would be online shopping to purchase equipment for their ‘home office’ when they had been told to work from home?

The government’s response was the program was designed quickly to create the most stimulus and there was no mechanism to recover the funds from those that found out after the event they didn’t meet the criteria. Sounds like the same thing they pilloried the progressive side of politics for about a decade earlier. At the same time, the same conservative government considered chasing individuals who received JobKeeper as well as JobSeeker during the 2020/2021 Financial Year. In the government’s eyes this isn’t a correct and proper use of resources.

The story is pretty clear – the progressive political party really couldn’t market themselves out of a wet paper bag. The conservative political party is all about the marketing.

Anyone want a black coffee mug?

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
Putting politicians and commentators to the verbal sword

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Dutton does defence

After spending 9 years as a Queensland copper, Peter Dutton was elected to Federal parliament at the age of 30 and he has been bumbling around pissing people off ever since.

He refused to attend the apology to the Stolen Generations, saying he “regarded it as something which was not going to deliver tangible outcomes to kids who are being raped and tortured in communities in the 21st century.”

He also refuses to support an Indigenous Voice to parliament, erroneously characterising it as a Third Chamber.

He had to apologise after being caught on camera making a joke with Tony Abbott about rising sea levels threatening low-lying Pacific Islands.

 

 

Another apology was required for calling journalist Samantha Maiden a “mad f***ing witch” in a text message that he meant to send to disgraced colleague Jamie Briggs but accidentally sent to Maiden.

P Duddy has a particular penchant for white Christians.

He once said allowing Lebanese Muslim refugees into Australia in the 1970s was a “mistake” accusing them of being responsible for higher crime rates in Western Sydney.

In 2018, he said Melburnians were “scared to go out to restaurants” because of ‘African gang’ violence.

Dutton really annoyed the South African government when he wanted to offer special visas to “persecuted” white South African farmers who “need help from a civilised country like ours.”

Speaking of persecution, Dutton’s treatment of refugees and asylum seekers has been particularly cruel.

In response to a Greens proposal to boost Australia’s refugee intake, he once said “illiterate and innumerate” asylum seekers would take local jobs or languish on the dole.

So bad has the treatment of refugees been, the government settled a class action by Manus Island detainees for $70 million rather than let the matter go to trial where the court would have heard evidence from detainees detailing deaths inside the detention centre, allegations of systemic sexual and physical abuse, and allegations of inadequate medical treatment leading to injury and death – all of which had been routinely dismissed by Dutton as “false allegations in an attempt to get to Australia”.

As Health Minister, Dutton was voted the worst ever by doctors.

As Home Affairs Minister, there were countless scathing reports about poor outcomes, poor administration, poor morale, poor oversight and poor leadership.

Even his colleagues didn’t want him as their leader when he staged his failed coup.

So, in this time of heightened global tension where diplomacy and cultural awareness and building relationships is so important, what does ScoMo do?

Gives this moron Defence just to keep him happy.

And what does P Duddy do?

Pisses off the French and Chinese by changing his mind about subs, throwing a whole workforce into unemployment, endangering free trade negotiations with Europe, poking our largest export market, and scaring the whole region that we are escalating an arms race. And, just to underline how inept this government is, no-one thought to mention it to the French.

In his maiden speech, Dutton said “I have seen the sickening behaviour displayed by people who, frankly, barely justify their existence in our sometimes over tolerant society.”

Having watched Dutton enhance his personal fortune for twenty years, I have seen nothing to justify his existence in our parliament or the support of his over tolerant constituents and colleagues.

 

 

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They will blame the pandemic for nine years of doing nothing, except for submarines

Come the next election, it’s a fair bet that Scott Morrison will use the pandemic as the reason he and his Coalition partner have been unable to deliver on anything or appropriately act on many unfinished reports, too numerous to mention. Such as how much the Prime Minister knew about Brittany Higgins’ rape allegations. Too busy on COVID will be the shrill word of the next campaign.

However, the Prime Minister and his government haven’t been too busy to play war games with the good old USA. In typical Coalition fashion, they have ditched an agreement with France to build submarines for our defence while at the same time destroying our international trust and reputation on matters of security. We have now dudded both Japan and France. Shameful on many levels.

It seems we have been leading France on for some time by disclosing nothing – the cost is around $2 billion dollars plus. They know how to waste a dollar or two, this mob.

The Prime Minister made his announcement with the usual scarcity of information. No detail, no costings. Not even some twaddle in the fine print to haggle over. It was all impressively incompetent diplomacy.

The decision’s intent is for Australia to plug a hole in America’s defence of the Pacific forty years down the track. And with nuclear technology supplied by the US and England.

We have to ask ourselves why we need to be in the pocket of the Yanks all the time when they don’t give us any guarantee or protection. They will always do what is in the best interests of America. And all we do is insult China, pretending we are a wholly-owned subsidiary of the US and the UK when it comes to military matters.

Then, after insulting our largest trading partner to the point of burying the word diplomacy, we pronounce them an existential threat?

Global warming is also an existential threat that requires global action, so why isn’t the Coalition spending with equal enthusiasm on this pending disaster.

As Katherine Murphy wrote in last Saturday’s edition of The Guardian.

” … a problem just as visible as the militarisation of the South China Sea – Australia can promise nothing unless Barnaby Joyce gets a spreadsheet identifying the precise costs of the transition for the average worker in Muswellbrook, and graciously grants his permission?

I mean, seriously. What a crock.”

All this is for a nation that seems to be perpetually at war with someone and who perceives China to be a threat to everyone’s security at the same time as climate change is readying itself for an event worse than war. An event that will require us to save ourselves from the emerging fires, drawn-out droughts, famines, conflicts over water and a refugee problem ten times worse than the one we have now.

I wish our government were as smart on these matters as they pretend to be at beating the drums of war.

The peoples of all the world nations increasingly seem to be having less to say about their destiny.

So, in forty years, we will have built some nuclear-powered submarines to be used against China at a time when we will all be fighting to save the planet from overheating.

I hope I don’t sound flippant, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. I have always thought that men have never really grown up. Oh, and it is said that the subs will become obsolete when we have finished fighting.

I don’t know about you, but I think the Prime Minister is just trying to frighten people. At least those who will be alive in 40 years.

I asked my Facebook friend John Amadio, who is generally on top of these matters, just what he thought. He answered:

“Unless, of course, it’s a play to the domestic political scene to divert attention away from Morrison and paint another ‘boogie man’ such as terrorism or asylum seekers.

Maybe it’s to instil some good old fear into the general public so that the government can project and ‘look strong’ on protecting Australia.

And, of course, wedge the ALP into a corner. I think it is a shameless political stunt to hang onto power but also potentially a dangerous one. It’s not a significant step from being nuclear powered to nuclear-armed.”

History is just an ongoing commentary on the incompetence of men.

In my state of insinuation, some things become abundantly clear to me:

  • That we have pissed off China.
  • That we have angered the French.
  • That we have wasted a few billion dollars of taxpayers money.
  • We have now dudded both Japan and France who has withdrawn its ambassador.
  • Paul Keating was so upset he couldn’t tell the time on one of his French clocks.
  • And the Greens were nonplussed.
  • ANU strategic policy expert Hugh White and independent senator/former Navy submariner has called it a “new Cold War.”
  • Rex Patrick raised questions that should have occurred to Morrison.
  • News Corp commentators had little hesitation in describing the decision as a “historic defence of democracy.” One that will be well regarded by history.

Never bullshit to an older man with a good memory.

We may very well now face a khaki election where the focus is on who has the best security policy to protect the people from external threats, real or perceived.

Three certainties arise from this poorly thought-through decision.

The first is that the Coalition will dust off all their very best scare campaigns and attack Labor like the crazed do-nothing party they are.

The second is that it will see over 40 years many changes, reviews, and updates because it is so poorly thought through. And as is the reality in builds of this nature, you can add another ten years onto the completion date. And of course, the time lost already. What a stuff up.

Thirdly, trust in Australia will be significantly diminished as a global citizen.

And, of course, the language of diplomacy will have been lost.

My thought for the day

Will we ever grow intellectually to the point where we can discern, understand and act on those matters that seek the good within us?

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Abbott Suggests Following Britain By Reintroducing Imperial Measurements!

No, Tony Abbot didn’t actually say that!

At least he hasn’t at the point that I’m writing this.

Whatever, Boris has suggested that they’ll be legislating to allow shops to use the old imperial stones, pounds and ounces in Britain. This is real and not something I’m making up and while it sounds absurd given the confusion, not to mention the expense of such a move, Boris has actually announced his intention to do this. However, given the knighthood to Prince Phillip, I’m not sure that by the time you’re reading this that the headline about Tony Abbott won’t actually be true.

Although when I think about it, I did order a footlong sub the other day so we still use imperial measurements in some shops. I think I should be clear that I was in Subway and I actually ordered, paid for it and left with my order. I didn’t leave my credit card, walk away and then suddenly have them find out that I was intending to eat a quarter pounder from MacDonald’s because I called a media conference to announce my dietary intentions for sometime in 2040.

That’s why I’m not fit to be in government. I wouldn’t have spent lots of money on subs that I wasn’t going to use and while it could be argued that I haven’t, I think the fact that the shop I’ve pissed off have my credit card could possibly lead to it being an expensive exercise. In Victoria, there was a lot of flack when Dan Andrews didn’t proceed with the deal for a freeway which the Liberals had signed up for in their dying days. Unlike the submarine deal, he wasn’t the one who signed up for it, only to change his mind.

Speaking of submarines, Christian Porter has resigned.

I know that previous sentence may not seem to make sense to those of you who don’t follow politics closely but the current modus operandi of the government is to distract us from the previous disaster by pointing us in the direction of another disaster until one of them has something that we can focus on where there is more than one side of the argument.

To demonstrate with a complete hypothetical:

  1. Let’s say the government has failed to plan for bushfires in 2021/2 and a bushfire breaks out.
  2. Scott Morrison announces his intention to holiday in Hawaii because not telling people seemed to upset them so he’s being completely upfront about his refusal to hold anything unless directed by his photographer. (Behave… this is not the Benny Hill Show)
  3. There is a media outcry but we talk about the PM’s right to have a holiday.
  4. If this is not going well, we suddenly that a government MP has been caught sending inappropriate texts to a member of his staff.
  5. The member of staff puts in a complaint.
  6. He/she is sacked.
  7. She/he goes to media.
  8. The story becomes the news of the night.
  9. The government then talk about an MP’s right to privacy and how inappropriate it was that this staffer released the private texts.
  10. There is some discussion about the right to privacy.
  11. The government point out to various media organisations that not only do they have the private texts of people but that recent legislation means that the AFP and ASIO are legally entitled to change them.
  12. An inquiry is announced into whether Fast Phil should be the one to hold the inquiry into the invasion of privacy or whether a Royal Commission is needed to ensure that all retired judges are gainfully employed.
  13. There is a terrorist alert.
  14. Someone is arrested for terrorism and their next door neighbours are arrested too.
  15. We start to talk about whether the next door neighbours’ rights were violated because they were arrested for their failure to alert the authorities to the fact that people in the street were printing anti-government material.
  16. Peter Dutton says we don’t have time to worry about rights in a time of war. When someone asks who we’re at war with, he declares war on China.
  17. We start talking about whether the Defence Minister has the capacity to unilaterally declare war without consulting the PM.
  18. Dutton declares a state of emergency and claims that – as Defence Minister – he is now in charge.
  19. Morrison sacks Dutton and declares himself head of Border Force.
  20. At this point, we are now listening to Insiders discuss whether the PM has the right to sack a Defence Minister after a state of emergency has been declared and whether, in fact, the Defence Minister has the power to declare one, and if he (or she) does what happens if the PM doesn’t like it…

Where were we? Ah, Porter and the blind trust.

Yes, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the twees.

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The Anglo Unilateralists Strike

When President Joe Biden won the White House, he promised, with a facility of unceasing boredom, that diplomacy was back. “Diplomacy is back at the centre of our foreign policy,” he stated on February 4. “As I said in my inaugural address, we will repair our alliances and engage with the world once again, not to meet yesterday’s challenges, but today’s and tomorrow’s.”

The fact that such diplomacy had never gone away seemed to escape him. In the simpleton’s view of politics, his predecessor had abandoned the jaw jaw approach to international relations for muscular and mindless US unilateralism. Allies had been belittled, ignored and mocked. Strongmen had been feted, admired and praised. It was now incumbent upon the United States, urged Biden, that “American leadership” confront “this new moment of advancing authoritarianism, including the growing ambitions of China to rival the United States and the determination of Russia to damage and disrupt our democracy.”

It would have been more accurate to say that President Donald Trump’s coarse, business board room model was simply too much of a shock for those familiarly comfortable with guile, deception and dissimulation. But Biden’s return to acceptable hypocrisy did not mask the “America First” note in his temper. Since then, that temper has seen a dramatic, ahead-of-schedule exit from Afghanistan, building on Trump’s undertakings to conclude open-ended wars and commitments. US allies began to wonder whether the Biden model was that different from Trump’s cruder original.

With the announcement on September 15 of the trilateral security pact AUKUS, an agreement between the United States, United Kingdom and Australia to deepen military ties in an effort to contain China, the “diplomacy is back” cart was soiled and upended. The European Union had not been consulted. A furious France only received a few hours’ notice that the agreement they had made through the Naval Group with Australia to construct the next generation of attack class submarines had been dissolved. Countries in the Indo-Pacific were also left in the dark.

France, in some ways even more than China, the primary target of AUKUS, is incandescent with rage. On Franceinfo radio, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was unsparing in his remarks. “This brutal, unilateral and unpredictable decision reminds me a lot of what Mr Trump used to do.” He confessed to feeling anger and bitterness. “This isn’t done between allies.”

As recently as July, Le Drian had visited Washington, where he pointedly stated that France was “an Indo-Pacific nation with territories that give [it] the world’s second-largest exclusive economic zone” with a permanent military presence of 8,500 personnel in the region. Paris, along with EU member states, was in the process of formulating a clear Indo-Pacific strategy. Efforts were being made in creating “strategic partnerships” with Japan, Australia and India. Regional organisations such as ASEAN were being brought into the fold. Any “transatlantic pivot toward the Indo-Pacific” had to be taken “together”.

At the end of August, Australia and France held their inaugural Foreign and Defence (2+2) Ministerial Consultations. No hint was given that something was brewing. As the joint statement outlined, “Ministers underscored the importance of the strong and enduring commitment of other partners, including the United States, and Indo-Pacific partners in upholding an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific in accordance with international law.”

With notions of sham togetherness shaken, retaliation in the old diplomatic tradition has followed. President Emmanuel Macron has recalled the French ambassadors to the United States and Australia. Britain was rebuked somewhat differently, being spared the same harsh treatment; being underhanded was the very sort of thing Paris expected from their historical enemy. In Le Drian’s words, its conduct had been “opportunistic,” with London being little more than “the fifth wheel of the wagon”.

In a joint statement, Le Drian and French Minister for the Army Florence Parly emphasised that this new security arrangement had been arrived at to the “exclusion of a European ally and partner … at a time when we are facing unprecedented challenges in the Indo-Pacific region.” The move signalled “a lack of consistency which France can only notice and regret.”

Special words were reserved for Australia, a country now wooed by an unconvincing promise of eight nuclear-powered submarines that are only promised to enter service sometime in the 2040s. The decision was “contrary to the letter and the spirit of the cooperation which prevailed between France and Australia, based on a relationship of political trust.” Le Drian, in a separate observation, weighed on the theme of infidelity, calling the decision, “A knife in the back.”

None of this takes away from the fact that the original Franco-Australian contract, reached in 2016, was an ill-thought out undertaking to build 12 conventional Barracuda class submarines in imitation of the nuclear powered Suffren design. It was vain, costly and promised obsolescence before viable performance. Then again, the French argument goes, the Australians wanted it.

The justifications for this episode of Anglophonic mischief have varied in their insolence and disingenuousness. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was all shine and floss in claiming that France remained “a vital partner” in ensuring security in the Indo-Pacific “and we want to find every opportunity to deepen our transatlantic cooperation” in the area. To a question suggesting that France had been stabbed in the back, Blinken mechanically repeated the vital importance of a “transatlantic” association.

Australia’s simply disposed Defence Minister Peter Dutton preferred fantasy by way of explanation, claiming that his government had been “upfront, open and honest … We can understand of course, the French are upset at the cancellation of a contract but in the end, our job is to act in our national interest.” Britain’s Defence Minister Ben Wallace was of like mind, promising that, “Nothing was done by sneaking behind anyone’s back.” But sneaking there was, and it was the Anglosphere, led by the United States, doing the sneaking.

AUKUS is less a trio than a hefty, bullying chief accompanied by a willing assistant and an enthusiastic supplicant. It is a declaration of hostile intent in a region of the world that promises to be the Europe of 1914. It has also encouraged the EU to formulate its own Indo-Pacific policy with haste and independence. “The regrettable decision which has just been announced on the FSP [Future Submarine Program] only reinforces the need to raise the issue of European strategic autonomy loud and clear,” observed Le Drian and Parley. Policy makers in Beijing will be struggling to stifle their amusement.

 

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Morrison creating tensions with Asia and New Zealand

By Darrell Egan

Fresh from Scott Morrison’s announcement to go to Washington later this year after Australian Foreign Ministers Asia and Washington visit, he introduces nuclear submarines to Australia as part of AUKUS pact between Australia, Britain and the US to take a assertive military approach to China in the South China Sea.

It is likely this AUKUS (or ORCUS) nuclear submarine deal will see these pod of AUKUS nuclear submarines sent to the South China Sea, creating more heightened tensions between Australia and China from an already rapidly deteriorating relationship.

In a hawkish pivot to Asia with the AUKUS pact, US military aircraft and weapons are looking to be stored in Australia seemingly to support sending forces into the South China Sea.

In a further development the US has pulled out Patriot missiles which appears to be in line with a pivot to Asia military redeployment build up.

From China’s point of view they are surrounded by US military bases in South Korea and Japan, with weapons pointed at them including heavy M1 Howitzer guns with a 23 kilometre range which can hit their city of Xiamen.

 

Fleet of AUKUS Nuclear Submarines likely for use in South China Sea

 

The United States has the view they believe China cannot have primacy in the South China, sea citing freedom of navigation.

However the United States have not ratified on to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea 1994 freedom of navigation.

In a sign China which appears to have lessened an primacy in the South China Sea, legalities are being finalised this year on a gas joint venture between the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) and the China National Offshore Oil Corp (CNOOC).

New Zealand who is not a member of AUKUS and the Quadrilateral Dialogue Group and seems to be taking a more independent stance as a member of ANZUS Australia New Zealand United States co operation treaty.

Whilst New Zealand has a Pacific partnership with Australia, this nuclear submarine deal has created tension in the relationship with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who has announced that Australian Nuclear submarines are not welcome in New Zealand.

In a statement reported in yesterday stated Nanaia Mahuta was uncomfortable with expanding the role of the Five Eyes intelligence reach in provoking tensions in the Asia Pacific region with China.

It appears New Zealand’s principals are being put to the test with this development.

In contact with New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s media adviser with some informal discussions on the issue, there has yet to be a any further response from their office, into further formal statements.

In a statement sent to me by the office of the leader of the Australian Greens Adam Bandt MP, he conveyed:

“This move by Scott Morrison will make Australia and the region less safe with inciting a risk of conflict.”

Mirroring Adam Bandt’s comments condemning this move by Scott Morrison, ex Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating said this move trades away Australia’s Sovereignty and makes Australia’s defence policy solely dependent on the United States.

 

 

Paul Keating added further concern with Australia’s current strategy in relation to China and military escalation in the South china sea if we have a situation is another reckless style Donald Trump leader is elected in the next US elections.

The tensions in Scott Morrison’s move in the public and political realm in the Pacific is evident, in what appears to be very little discussion or debate with Australia’s most important Pacific partner before making his submarine buying deal which will give fresh indigestion to others.

This article was originally published on Dazza Egan Australia & China Watch Journo.

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Some Christians Rely On Blind Faith; Others Rely On Blind Trust…

My wife watches a lot of murder mysteries, so I’ve sort of picked up how this should be done. You examine all the potential suspects one by one and then in the final reveal you announce that it was the least expected…

Ok, now I’m aware that some politicians have become very trigger happy with litigation, so let me just remind them that I have some very good lawyers prepared to represent me in any case just as long as I can find several thousand dollars a day and I’ve assured them that they should have blind faith in me. They suggested that they’d rather a blind trust account, so I said, “Set one up, why should I care where the money comes from.” One of them suggested that this was dangerous because some criminal enterprises could use it to launder money and I said that so long as I don’t know where the money comes from, I’m ok. After all, it’s not as though if I suddenly found that I had millions of dollars that I didn’t earn that any government agency could ask me to explain where it came from. At this point, the lawyer told me that I needed to retain him/her before they gave me advice explaining the law and how people who couldn’t tell the government where their money had come from often had problems with a whole range of different agencies…

Bloody lawyers!

Anyway, it seems that when you’re a Christian, all sorts of people spring to your defence… And not just the lawyers.

So, because I’ve given up on politics and gone back to writing works of fiction and because I don’t have blind trust in the legal system not ripping me off, I’m going to pitch my fiction to you in the hope that you’ll be prepared to back me to get this fiction on to the screen. I’m going to call the character, Eric.

Mulligan Let’s imagine that Eric considers a journalist called Lucy Mulligan has defamed him. (This is work of fiction, so if there’s any journalist out there by that name – or any similar sounding name, I’m prepared to change the name so that she doesn’t feel the need to sue me.)

Eric decides to sue her but taking legal action can cost more than a humble man like him could be expected to raise, but hey, principles are at stake here so he decides to engage lawyers anyway… Mm, that’s a bit implausible unless the lawyers are prepared to work pro bono.

I know, let’s have a mystery person offer to stump up the cost for his lawyers.

Yeah, that works. Except who tells Eric? And at what point? Look, this is at the pitch stage. We’ll work out the holes in the plot later…

Ok, so he sues. This Louise or whatever her name was and the organisation behind her, mounts a truth defence. After reading the defence, Eric decides to settle for mediation. After mediation, Lucy or whatever her name was, says that I’m not apologising. To which, Eric says fair enough at least I didn’t get my day in court and this story has a happy ending because – after standing up for his principles – Eric can tell us all that he had a great victory because Lucy has promise not to reveal the allegations in return for paying the cost of his parking during the mediation session.

Now this is an elevator pitch and I’ve already taken too much time unless the elevator is stuck between the floor working on a federal integrity commission and the floor purchasing aircraft to battle bushfires…

The big climax where the intrepid journalist gathers all the suspects in the one room and reveals the forces working against her.

  1. Is it the man who blamed her for spending a year in jail for a crime that the Highest Court in the land found that he shouldn’t have been found guilty because juries don’t quite get the law and can’t find people guilty when we don’t like the decision?
  2. Was it the Chinese who hoped that by saving him, they’d one day be able to make Eric the leader of our country? Or even more implausibly, a popular name?
  3. Was it the friends of Lucy Mulligan who hoped to one day force Eric into an admission of guilt because they’ve formed the blind trust with the name “WeScrubPhotos&OtherEvidence.”
  4. Was it some elaborate EricKeeper scheme whereby the taxpayer was billed through some elaborate scheme?
  5. Or was it the white-shoed friend of the ghost of Joh Bjelke PetaSon who through channelling Joh, understands that you can bankroll most politicians and they’ll be prepared to head your party…

Ok, there’s a few flaws in this. For a start, at what point did Eric realise that he was being set up by taking the money? I mean, he can’t be completely stupid or where’s our hero.

And, if I make it suspect number 5, isn’t that a little too predictable given he’s been using his money to buy political influence since I didn’t have blind trust in our political system.

And, why did Eric decide to go ahead with things unless he already knew about his benefactor?

And why didn’t the High Court open up Western Australia?

Oh wait, that’s a whole other story…

Anyway, my lawyers will be drawing up my GoFundMe page so that I can get this work of fiction actually onto the big screen… or the little screen… or just made into street theatre.

Please contribute… We need all the blind trust we can muster.

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Gold standard Gladys – the shine is fading

Eeny meeny miniMo: The accidental head master and the prefect.

Warning: This post contains mixed metaphors.

As fellow big biz ‘doucheland über alles’ nasties Gladdy Berejiklian and Scooter Morrison have much in common but I cannot imagine they’d ever be friends – I mean, FFS, the guy is mates with Stuart Robert who has to submit proof of life once a month and Alex Hawke (somewhere there’s a hole missing its toad). And Glad knows the “evil bully” Scooter, in his typically treacherous backgrounding of her, has her name pencilled in on his crowded bus schedule.

Not so much Daggy Dad™ as creepy Uncle Weirdo, Scooter is a particular class of odious; one that requires a complex logistical web to sanitise for public consumption. In contrast Gladdy comes across as an unaffected prissy head prefect and sanctimonious goody two-shoes who, at assembly, wants us all to please know that she’s been let down by the rough crowd’s bad behaviour of locking the doors and hiding the keys (looking at you Andrews, McGowan and Pałaszczuk).

Much to Scooter’s chagrin, Glad came through the bushfire crisis undamaged (provided we whisper that bit about her slashing of the firefighting capabilities of Fire and Rescue, the RFS and NP&WS). Mind you, compared to Scooter’s cowardly abandonment and transparently desperate PR recovery campaign a goat on a unicycle would look in control.

Image from Twitter (@TwoEyeHead)

The relationship between these two provides some amusement if you take your humour black. The evidence is in that Glad despises Morrison – after all, what’s not to despise. Here’s a creep who exploited an archived photo from a memorial service for kids killed by a drunk driver to disguise a secret trip for Fathers Day during lockdown and package his narcissistic, sociopathic self as Dutiful Dad.

For her part, Glad has never claimed celestial endorsement, indulged in furtive touchies of unsuspecting disaster victims, spent lockdown with a personal photographer, displayed a telling lack of curiosity about too-close-to-home rape allegations, suggested that March4Justice protestors should be grateful they weren’t shot, had a QAnon BFF or proposed a “multibillion-dollar program to build new mass detention facilities in Australia for asylum seekers who were living in the community on bridging visas” (remind you of a particular, historical precedent anyone…anyone?). The list of this guy’s awfulness is far too long to indulge here in a rant that started out as a piss-take of Gladdy Two-shoes… I’ll move on.

Gladdy is not looking for a house to haunt, rather that signature tormented, mournful expression of hers has served her well when confronted with uncomfortable questions. When under ICAC scrutiny of dodgy deals it came to light that Dirty Dazza McGuire had been pizzling her mimsy the sympathy flowed all Glad’s way. The mums of NSW tut-tutted and tsk-tsked that Dazza had done her wrong – perhaps remembering their own deflowering by a big-noting deadbeat behind a nightclub dumpster? That’s unfair. I’ll venture into the dangerous territory of mansplaining by suggesting it’s probably natural sympathy for a woman making it in the testosterone-laden world of politics in a party for whom misogyny is a KPI.

What is becoming apparent is that her Miss Prissy has way more in common with Morrison’s Foghorn Leghorn than just compliance with the traditional Tory practices of pandering to wealth interests, unapologetic rorting, corruption, flogging of public assets and exploitation of our natural and historical heritage.

The chutzpah of trumpeting abject failures as triumphs, the hubris, the gaslighting and the testiness at being challenged – these are not from the Introduction To Utter Bastardry guidebook that is Tory essential reading. It’s Ms 55% as she really is, snickering in a press conference about the possibility of Delta spreading to Labor states, comfortable with the notion that some, the disposables, are to be sacrificed at the alter of mammon.

She’s no Jacinda Ardern, nor an Angela Merkel, she’s not Julia Gillard’s example for young women, she’s just a gold standard mini-Mo surrounded by a claque of morally bankrupt grifters championing the failed neo-con experiment to corporatise society; previous metaphors aside, she’s the frog to Morrison’s scorpion in a strange pact of mutually assured destruction should the Delta run rampant and sink Morrison’s re-election chances and shred her reputation.

Gladys may not be as reprehensible as Morrison but lately she’s been giving it her best shot.

* * * * * *

They’ll have funerals, but people will be able to attend them.” Scott Morrison.

Death is horrible, but we also need to put things into perspective, because at the moment there are 8 million citizens who don’t have choice in how they spend their free time.” Gladdy B.

That’s some pretty weird shit.” George Dubya Bush.

“It’s the vibe of the thing.” Dennis Denuto.

 

Image from Twitter (@philmupp1)

 

This article was originally published on Grumpy Geezer.

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Nuclear White Elephants: Australia’s New Submarine Deal

It does not get any messier or more chaotic than this. Since 2009, when Australia’s Future Submarine Program (FSP) known as Project SEA 1000, began to take shape, strategists and policy makers have been keen to pursue the next big White Elephant of defence spending. And few areas of an already wasteful area of public expenditure are more costly – often mindlessly so – than submarines.

The Australian effort here is particularly impressive. Pick a real winner by signing a contract for a yet to be designed attack class submarine, supposedly necessary in an increasingly dangerous region. Ensure that this design is based on a nuclear model and remove that attribute, aptly described as “dumbing down a nuclear submarine by removing the whole basis of its superior capability, and then charging at least twice as much for a far less capable submarine.”

Just to make things interesting, make sure the order is for 12 of these yet to be designed and built creatures. Make sure, as well, that they are only ready sometime in the 2030s, by which time they risk being obsolete in a field of other contending submarines with superior capabilities.

The dubious honour for this monumentally foolish contract, with an initial cost of AU$50 billion, fell to the French submarine company DCNS (now called Naval Group). It nudged out German and Japanese contenders with pre-existing designs. “The decision,” a government announcement in April 2016 explained, “was driven by DCNS’s ability to best meet all of the Australian Government requirements. These included superior sensor performance and stealth characteristics, as well as range and endurance similar to the Collins class submarine. The Government’s considerations also included cost, schedule, program execution, through-life support and Australian industry involvement.”

The contract warmed the French military establishment. It was praised as the “contract of the century.” Le Parisien’s editorial lauded the prospect of thousands of jobs. President François Hollande could say that he was also capable of pulling off a contract to aid the French military industrial complex, despite being a socialist. A “50-year marriage,” claimed French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian with honeymoon exuberance, had begun.

The post-nuptials were not promising. Rear Admiral Greg Sammut had to concede in an estimates hearing before Australian senators that another AU$50 billion would be required to sustain the submarines for the duration of their operating life. “Many of the detailed costs of acquisition and sustainment will be determined during the design process through choices made but at this point early estimation of the sustainment costs for the fleet are of the order of up to $50 billion on a constant price basis.”

Tiffs and disagreements over distribution of labour and further costs started to bite. How much of the work would actually be undertaken by labour based in Australia? Would the French company be keeping the lion’s share? With such problems, and the pace of development, another idea started to gain momentum in the halls of defence: a competing, cheaper design, based on a rejigged version of Australia’s existing Collins Class submarine, might be a suitable alternative. In the meantime, perhaps a German alternative might also figure, namely the Type 214 diesel electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerker-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW).

In May, Naval Group’s Transfer of Technology program manager Fabrice Leduc solemnly told his staff that the submarine project had been subjected to a “political timeline” following a change of minister in the Australian Defence portfolio. The new occupant, Peter Dutton, was biding his time because “he wanted to have some strong warranties from the industry and especially Naval Group in terms of cost and schedule.” The marriage had truly soured.

On September 15, the press gallery in Canberra was awash with rumours that a divorce was being proposed. In the early hours of the following day, the question as to whether Australia would be dissolving its union with Naval Group was answered. In place of that union would be a ménage à trois with the United States and United Kingdom, a security three-way with Australia as the subordinate partner. The glue that will hold this union together is a common suspicion: China. In place of the Attack Class submarine: a nuclear powered alternative with Anglo-American blessing, based on the US Virginia class or UK Astute class.

In their joint statement announcing the creation of AUKUS, a name deserving a place in a science fiction glossary, the joint leaders of the three countries “guided” by their “enduring ideals and shared commitment to the international rules-based order” had resolved “to deepen diplomatic, security, and defence cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, including by working with partners, to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.” AUKUS would be a new “enhanced trilateral security partnership” to further such goals.

The agreement is nothing less than an announcement to powers in the region that the Anglophone bloc intends to police, oversee and, if necessary, punish. The three countries will “promote deeper information and technology.” Security, science relating to defence, technology, industrial bases and supply chains will be further integrated. Deeper cooperation would take place “on a range of security and defence capabilities.”

The first initiative of the agreement stands out: “we commit to a shared ambition to support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines for the Royal Australian Navy.” Expertise to “bring an Australian capability into service at the earliest achievable date” from the submarine programs of both the US and the UK would be drawn on. AUKUS unmistakably ties the countries into the same security orbit, meshing them to principles of “interoperability, commonality, and mutual benefit.”

Australia’s submarine policy has previously eschewed nuclear propulsion. Now, as a dowry for receiving such largesse, Canberra is offering up Australia as a confirmed US asset in policing the Indo-Pacific. In any conflict situation, the wallahs of the antipodes are unlikely to say no to any request to do battle with the Middle Kingdom. US Navy commanders will also be smacking their lips at maintaining attack vessels in Australia as part of the arrangement.

In the meantime, neighbours will be troubled, despite assurances that the vessels will only have a conventional weapons capability. Nearby Indonesia is unlikely to be glowing in admiration.

The dissolution of the union with Naval Group will also be costly, with the defence company bound to push for a generous compensation package. (AU$400 million is a suggested figure, though this is unlikely to satisfy either Naval Group or the Parisian overlords.) To this can be added AU$2 billion already spent.

As the divorce costs are sorted, some Australian politicians have pledged to make dissenting noises, with the Greens leader Adam Bandt already warning that the decision promised to “put floating Chernobyls in the heart of Australia’s cities.” Protests from anti-nuclear activists and advocates are in the offing.

 

 

Then arises that enduring problem of actually building these naval beasts. US lawmakers will be rooting for the construction of the submarines on home soil, a situation which promises to mirror the headaches caused by the Naval Group contract. Australia also lacks a shipyard able to build or maintain such vessels.

In playing its part in the creation of AUKUS, Canberra has exchanged one white elephant of the sea for another. But in doing so, Australia has done so in manner more threatening, and more significant, than anything associated with the Naval Group Contract. The small space Australian diplomats might have had in keeping Canberra out of any foolish conflict in the Indo-Pacific has become miniscule. The war mongers will be dewily ecstatic.

 

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Which major political party is more qualified to embrace urgent change?

Tom Tesoro writing on Facebook, said:

“They all sense their economic destiny, their power to shape their society to suit the elite they believe to be the superior class. They adhere to the ancient principle of the aristocracy, the ‘betters’, natural leaders, and those best suited to rule. They must accrue all the benefits that society creates as a reward for their superiority.”

I hesitate to say that Australia has a fascist Government only because it has so many entities. However, there is some form of it in Australia’s governance.

The way countries are currently being governed or taken over, for that matter, one couldn’t but agree that nationalism, dictatorship or a mode of fascism is prevalent.

That Australia needs a change in government is becoming more apparent by the day. The current one has all the ingredients of a recipe for disaster – corruption, dictatorship, secrecy; if it governs for much longer, and should it win another term, I fear change might become less likely over time.

Indeed, if Morrison and his corrupt band of Ministers win the next election, they will become emboldened to shift the balance of power further to the far right.

If we acknowledge that we live in a world that is more complex, more scientifically advanced than at any other time in the history of the world, it then brings on a moral and ethical dilemma that we are at a loss to explain or cope with.

Socialism comprehends empathy; conservatism and its partner capitalism do not.

Change can be so rapid that we can barely keep up with all its complexities. It is often ahead of the game, sometimes disregarding opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making, with Its own inevitability.

Older people have not coped well with it and still think the right will prevent it or slow it down, but all manner of things are being changed to the right’s advantage.

Whereas the young have grown up with technological change and are disadvantaged with a lack of political education. The old fight to remain in a world of sameness and never see other ways of doing things. It is a conservative value. The young see change as a process; the old see it as an unwanted intrusion on their conservative principles.

They dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can permanently be made to feel secure. Yet change is, in fact, part of the very fabric of our existence.

There is not an area of our existence that has not been dramatically changed by technology. Medicine, weaponry, communications, education, economics and many others.

The Internet has changed the lives of hundreds of millions of people. It is rapidly changing how we do many things, including entertainment, commerce, global trade, health care, transport, international, national news, world financial services and so on.

Globalisation is gradually framing a world without national borders with a cross-pollination of ethnicity.

Many countries successfully embrace multiculturalism but are consistently incapable of accepting change because Nationalism clouds many eyes.

Out of the necessity of survival, future generations will have to embrace change not by fighting old ideas but by building on the new.

Today I thought I would canvass the failure of Australian politics to embrace change.

Political change is everywhere – Brexit, the last British election result, and the Australian election result reflected dissatisfaction with traditional politics. The emergence of Trump and the resurgence of extremism in France, Brazil, political insurgency in the Middle East is evidence of global political change everywhere.

It is interesting how Australia, or more importantly, our politicians, has adapted to a transforming world where those on the left find difficulty understanding why the world has so empathetically turned to the right. But those on the “extreme” right have not only understood but implemented it. They have all but taken our democracy from us. All we have left is the power to dismiss them, but we are reluctant to do so.

The indoctrination of society began under Ronald Reagan and Margret Thatcher.

Rapid change brings with it the need for new rules and regulations that question traditional values and concepts. People accept those changes that benefit them but don’t like the necessity for regulation that often comes with it. Yet, they continue to vote for the extremity of the right in believing that things might be better for them. However, the truth is that the right are the ones less likely to do anything for them.

If nothing else they are very skilled at political propaganda.

So, I ask myself; which major political party is more qualified to embrace urgent change, implement it and legislate it for the common good?

Before answering that, firstly, let us appraise the ideological political philosophy of the left and right in Australia to appreciate what they stand for.

What is a conservative?

I know I have put the same question before, but I have expanded a little more here:

“Conservatives believe in free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. They believe the role of the Government should be to provide people with the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals.”

They also believe that change should be incremental.

Note: Contrary to what they believe, they, the far-right, now seek to control us.

Conservative policies generally emphasise the empowerment of the individual to solve problems. And they are cautious about change or innovation, typically in science, politics, or religion.

They believe that free markets produce more economic growth, more jobs, and higher living standards than those systems burdened by excessive government regulation.

The right supports the separation of church and state, but it allows its conservative views to affect its legislation in practice.

Note the Prime Minister’s confusing allegiance to his religion, one that he never seems to practice when he is doing politics.

What is a neo-conservative?

Neo-conservatism goes back to the 1930s; however, it is identified with George W Bush in its modern form.

Bush embraced unbridled Capitalism, corporate greed together with literalist Christianity to form modern-day neoconservatism.

Carl Rove, Donald Rumsfeld and others added global superiority to the mix, believing that American exceptionalism in all aspects was above the rest of the world.

What is a social progressive?

Social democrats (the left) believe in:

“… government action to achieve equal opportunity and equality for all. The Government must alleviate social ills, protect civil liberties provide health services and individual human rights, thus believing the role of the Government should be to guarantee that no one is in need.”

And that:

“Government must protect citizens from the greed of big business. Progressive policies generally emphasise the need for the Government to solve problems.”

Social progressive democrats believe that a market system in which Government regulates the economy is best. Unlike the private sector, the Government is motivated by public interest. Government regulation in all areas of the economy is needed to level the playing field.

The left also supports the separation of church and state.

The answer to my question is that the left of politics is best qualified to handle rapid change generally and the changes brought about by climate change and COVID-19.

I am explicitly talking about Australia’s two-party system here, and the answer lies in comparative political history.

The Greens and others of English Liberal philosophy might argue their case for inclusion, but at present, we only have two possibilities.

By scrutinising the historic social reforms of Australia’s major parties and comparing them, we can determine who is best qualified to take us through this ongoing period of change and the necessary political, social and economic reforms.

The left side of Australian politics has, until now:

“… implemented the following reforms or policies that have directly contributed to change for the better.

A National Health Scheme, a National Disability scheme, compulsory superannuation, a National Broadband Network, Paid Parental leave, major educational reforms, a price on carbon, equal pay for women, the Aged Pension, Mabo and the Apology to the Stolen Generations, and of course the Hawke – Keating major economic reforms that have given the country 25 years of continuous growth.” (Refer to comment from ‘jim’ in the above link).

The ‘right side of politics has implemented the following; Howard gun buyback, the GST that benefited the rich, an increase in immigration after the Second World War, and Harold Holt introduced a bi-partisan referendum that gave Indigenous people the right to vote in 1967.

And there, I have to stop. The Liberal Party website provides a comprehensive list of achievements in Government as distinct from significant policy reforms. Here is the list for you to judge for yourself. If I have missed a considerable reform, please correct me.

In a world where science, technology, and information progress quickly, change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With its own inevitability.

Conservatives oppose change and are wary of science and intellectualism, as was demonstrated by the Abbott Government.

They seem locked in a world that no longer exists without comprehending how much the world has progressed. Remember, Abbott wanted to destroy the Internet.

They believe in traditional values (whatever they are) without recognising the historical elasticity of society. That change is inevitable.

We need to be governed by rules and regulations. It is the only way change can be civilised and cohesive.

Leaving individuals to pursue their goals without the infrastructure society provides and allowing Capitalism (the GFC) to go on unregulated can only lead to disaster.

A society that has change for the common good at its heart can only be attained with conventions, guidelines, systems, laws, policies, instructions and procedures.

While the central argument of conservative philosophy empathises and overtly supports the individual’s rights, it can never initiate the reformist zeal for change like the left.

I have concluded that a society facing the changes confronting us can only achieve worthwhile change under the umbrella of social democratic philosophy.

An ideology that believes in equality of opportunity, an equitable share of the country’s wealth, maintains individual rights and liberties within a societal framework is best equipped to bring about change. It would also guarantee that no one is left in need.

A government that solves the problems of change together with all who have a vested interest in it.

Change that only serves the secular interests of the wealthy and privileged is change doomed to fail.

Every facet of society, including the democratic process, needs constant and thoughtful renewal and change. Otherwise, we become so trapped in the longevity of sameness that we never see better ways of doing things.

Some thoughts for the day

I think accepting and embracing change is one key aspect of what we try to define as wisdom.

How is it possible for the inherited rich and privileged to understand poverty – how can those with the means to pay medical costs understand the inability of those with ill-health who cannot?

In 2011 Malcolm Turnbull didn’t think there was a need for an inquiry into the news media but agreed with the then PM Gillard that Newscorp should stop publishing crap.

 

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News Corp Turns Climate Change Inactivist

The faux Damascene converts have been doing the rounds in the Murdoch empire of late, stirring interest in matters green and attempting to shift, if ever so slightly, discussions on climate change. Known for being a stable of environmental vandals and fossil fuel standard bearers, News Corp has gone for a green turn of sorts.

Within the media imperium, harmony on the issue of how to report climate has not been one of accord. The patriarch, Rupert Murdoch, was unable to keep younger son James and wife Kathryn from venting on the issue. “Kathryn and James’ views on climate change are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known,” a spokesperson for the couple told The Daily Beast in early 2020 as bushfires in Australia raged. “They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among news outlets in Australia given the obvious evidence to the contrary.”

At the time these comments were made, a board member of News Corp who wished to remain anonymous and un-scalped, observed that the couple were “pissing inside the tent and that’s unusual. It’s evidence of how high tensions within the family are over climate change.”

All fanfare about family discontent and tent urination would ignore the fact that Rupert remains a person content to stir the pot of demagogy while seeing things rather differently from his own perch. In a 2007 speech, he declared that, “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.” While there might be disagreement about “the extent” of that change, “we certainly can’t afford the risk of inaction.”

In that same speech, he committed his organisation to the very goal platoons of his journalists and shock jocks biliously revile. “We can do something that’s unique, different from just any other company.” News Corp could set a sobering example: “Our audience’s carbon footprint is 10,000 bigger than ours. That’s the carbon footprint we want to conquer.”

 

 

By 2011, the company had achieved carbon neutrality as part of its Global Energy Initiative, a program not only designed to maximise company efficiency but to woo the advertising dollar. The initiative’s director, Liba Rubenstein, was unabashed on that score, telling a conference hosted by the Pew Center on Global Climate Change of a “great opportunity in incremental revenue from various companies who want to promote their own green practices on our platforms, and so it’s important for us to be a legitimate platform for that, if they’re going to spend their dollars with us.”

All this, from the outfit that gave us such specials as Rowan Dean of Sky News Australia, who called climate change in July 2019 “a fraudulent and dangerous cult, which has paralysed and bewitched the ruling elites, and is driven by unscrupulous and sinister interests including the power-hungry socialist mob at the UN.” Or that particular favourite Andrew Bolt of The Herald Sun, who has warned everyone, including children, not to believe the “climate change hoax.”

When asked about why his company had provided a pulpit for such opinions at the corporation’s Annual General Meeting in 2019, Murdoch claimed none could be found in his employ. To the questioner came the reply that “there are no climate change deniers around I can assure you.”

News Corp Australia, for its part, has decided from next month to execute what can only be regarded as a ceasefire of sorts against various climate goals such as zero emissions by 2050 or carbon reduction policies. The editorial board is even considering endorsing the 2050 target. Sky News chief executive Paul Whittaker resisted calling these moves as constituting a campaign. “I would describe it, in terms of Sky News, as an exploration of what are very complex issues,” which has become News Corp-speak for inaction.

In doing so, this move promises to provide an alibi for a conservative Morrison government internally bruised by a battle between the fossil fuel lobbyists and supporters of firm climate change goals and harried by such countries such as the United States and United Kingdom.

The organisation denies that what is in the offing has anything to do with advertiser concerns or external pressures. “No doubt other media and social platform users will try to take issue with our coverage to make News the story,” News Corp Australasia’s guarded executive chairman Michael Miller stated, “however we have never been afraid of pushing boundaries and facilitating tough and uncomfortable conversations.”

The move, timed to coincide ahead of the Glasgow climate change summit in November, conforms to the usual pattern of previous New Corp campaigns. The more naïve sorts suggest that the news body has seen the light. Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, is not one of them, bluntly suggesting that this move amounted to “moving from an F to a D student.” A genuine prospect in the offing was News Corp moving from a denialist frame of mind to one of prevarication, “delaying climate action with non-solutions and unaccountable long-term targets.”

Former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who lays his political assassination by his own party members in 2018 squarely at the feet of the News Corp press goons, is also far from convinced. “That right-wing populist climate-denying section of the coalition is very influential, and its foundation is the News Corp media.” He found it hard to give the organisation “credit for something they haven’t done yet.”

The calculated change of heart within Murdoch’s non-news machine will do little to editorially rein in the likes of Bolt and his merry denialists, many of whom have promised to keep the cannons firing and the fires burning. As they do, climate change inactivism, code to preserve fossil fuel orthodoxy, promises to bloom.

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Why are ‘religious’ organisations given tax free status?

There would have been few people who were not deeply shocked by the revelations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Now we have similar concerns revealed about the Jehovah’s Witnesses.

I spent a considerable part of my school years studying the Bible, followed by examination of Comparative Religion, at a C of E secondary school in the UK.

The picture that this presented to me was that the Jews, followed later by the Muslims, and unlike the Greeks and Romans, chose to believe that there was one god, and that he effectively existed for the Jewish people.

Muhammad, of course, did not acknowledge that Jesus was, as claimed, the son of god – he saw him as another prophet, and, originally, maintained a more favourable view of the Jews than might be the case for modern Muslims.

Jesus’ message, that the god of the Jews loved everyone, was not accepted by the Jews, who did not oppose his crucifixion by the Romans.

The process followed by his disciples has resulted, over the centuries, in increasing numbers of groups developing what have, in many cases, become cults, which have enabled mainly men to exert a level of unholy power over their flocks!

The essential message, that Christ wants you to love your fellow beings, has been warped and distorted by many of those cults, and the longest enduring of them, the Roman Catholic Church, has concentrated on developing a level of power which has proved highly destructive.

Pope Francis would, it seems, if left to his own devices, try to bring the church into the 21st century, but, even for former Catholics, the attitudes of the church seem to implant guilt rather than love.

The conflict between much of Jesus’ teachings in the New Testament, and the practices of most of the so-called Christian sects, leave me totally puzzled that anyone could genuinely believe that could say they were spreading his words.

And all of that assumes that a god actually exists.

I became an agnostic decades ago!

The recent examination of the Jehovah’s Witnesses throws grave doubts on the extent to which its existence is actually desirable.

The Pentecostal branches, like that to which our Prime Minister adheres, seem to love money more than the people outside their organisation, and my personal feeling is that religion should be a private matter and receive no support from governments.

For many that might seem too radical, if not actually blasphemous, but, given the appalling behaviour which has been revealed in so many of these sects – including just a few like the Catholic Church, The Plymouth Brethren, Scientology and the Pentacostalists – I seriously think we have to ask whether they deserve the favours they are granted.

Same sex marriage has been a major bone of contention for many of the ‘religious’, who cling on to ancient biblical messages, ignoring modern science.

And recent events in Afghanistan have highlighted the fact that many religions refuse to recognise that the knowledge of the founders of the religions were ignorant of much that has since been revealed by scientific research.

We have to stop living in the past, teach science properly in all schools, let people follow any beliefs they choose – as long as they do not harm others in so doing – and teach ethics in all schools, while the money saved from ceasing to give tax benefits to existing bodies – except for genuinely philanthropic activities – should be used to help all the people who are currently struggling to survive.

Far more important than religion, is ensuring that all can survive, and that demands attention to climate change!

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NSW Labor opposition leader makes sense in daily pressers

Opposition leaders and shadow ministries not getting enough air-time in traditional media, means that they’re unable to do their job keeping governments, ministers, and portfolios to account. We aren’t a democracy without their contributions. A prime example of this is NSW Opposition leader Chris Minns. Last week when NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, made the shock announcement about the daily Covid pressers, Minns announced his own presser for the vacated timeslot. Despite Berejiklian saying that Sunday was her last presser she held another one yesterday.

Minns held his short presser yesterday at 11am via Facebook with his Shadow Health Minister, Ryan Park. The lack of dead corporate language used as well as their to-the-point communication style was refreshing. Key points made were about the need for the NSW government to do daily pressers with clear communication, and the need for the opportunity to scrutinise decisions that they make. Other points made were about our healthcare system being in crisis, for Berejiklian to be accountable, and for other people in her Covid management team to do the pressers if she can not.

For today’s presser Minns was joined by his Shadow Minister for IR, Work, Health & Safety, Sophie Cotsis, and Dr Jamal Rifi at Belmore Park, the home of the Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs. Cotsis explained how the community-led response there has boosted their vaccination rate from 20 percent to closer to 90 percent, for the first vaccine dose in 2 months.

Minns then thanked Dr Rifi for his “amazing work on behalf of the people of NSW, his care for his community and the innovative way that he approaches medicine and community care. Putting up a tent in your front yard in order to make sure that vaccinations were distributed to so many people is an example of Australian ingenuity and world class care.”

Next on the agenda was Minns calling for NSW Parliament to be brought back so that the government can explain the reasons for their policies, and how they impact millions of people in NSW. Minns also reasoned that daily pressers were needed not for “gotchas” or “politicking” but to clear up confusion about local health orders.

Dr Rifi then relayed the good news about his drive-through vaccination clinic at the Bulldogs sports ground being approved by the Commonwealth Department of Health, for the next 6-weeks. It will operate 3-days a week as of this week on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Dr Rifi explained that people were safer being vaccinated in their cars rather than indoors where exposure to Covid is higher. As well as the benefits of vaccinating kids with their families, and whole families being immunised at once.

Dr Rifi also said that if NSW Health gave them more vaccines on top of what the federal government has given them, they could operate 7-days a week because demand there far outweighs supply. The problem is a lot of workers there work long hours and can’t get their second jabs on weekends, but if they lift the curfew hours it will make it easier for workers to use the drive-through after hours at night. Kudos to Canterbury-Bankstown Council, Bulldogs League Club and the SES volunteers for helping to make all of this happen, heroes really don’t wear capes.

The presser wraps up with Minns reiterating that we need daily pressers from the NSW government because “you can’t make up rules that affect 7 million people, and then not explain the application of these rules over the coming weeks.”

The NSW Labor leader also had this to say about the NSW Parliament sitting idle: “If we’re sending 15 and 16-year old kids off to Coles and Woolworths to work to keep supermarkets open, then politicians should be going back to work.”

After watching these illuminating pressers it’s clear South West Sydney and Western Sydney are not being treated fairly. Curfews do need to be assessed and a clear explanation provided for why they still need to be in place in all areas especially those with low case numbers. Every effort should be made to help communities there to get their second dose without losing their income. It’s clearly not a case of people in these postcodes not wanting to be vaccinated, Delta made that call for them and many of us months ago. They don’t need more ‘get the jab’ messaging they just need more vaccines.

 

 

YouTube link for Monday’s presser with Chris Minns and Ryan Park.

YouTube link for Tuesday’s presser with Chris Minns, and Shadow Minister for IR, Work, Health & Safety, Sophie Cotsis, and Dr Jamal Rifi.

Link for Australian Story about Dr Rifi last night.

 

This article was originally published on MelMac Politics – Shining a light on politics.

 

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How To Win At Elections OR We Are Not Overcoming The Monster…

Above all, and it is the supreme characteristic of every monster who has ever been portrayed in a story, he or she is ecocentric. The monster is heartless; unable to feel for others, although this may sometimes be disguised beneath a deceptively charming, kindly or solicitous exterior; it’s only real concern is to look after its own interests, at the expense of everyone else in the world…

“Despite its cunning, its awareness of the reality of the world around it is in important respect limited. Seeing the world through tunnel vision, shaped by its egocentric desires, there is alway something which the monster cannot see and is likely to overlook. That is why, by the true hero, the monster can always be outwitted…”

The Seven Basic Plots by Christopher Booker

I am reading a book which I wanted to read from a time when I used to spend more time writing fiction than writing about politics…

Ok, ok, I know that there’s going to be some cheap shot about how politics is all about fiction and truth is relative and…

Let’s just leave all that to one side and possibly come back to it later… Ok, ok, that’s polly speak for I’m never going to mention this again and when you bring it up I’m going to say that we’re already discussed it…

The book is about the seven basic plots and the first one is: “OVERCOMING THE MONSTER!”

So, is the monster Scott Morrison or Rupert Murdoch? In a lot of the mythical stories which Booker quotes in his book, once one has dispatched the initial threat to the village or country, a new, more fearsome and tricky monster emerges to take revenge on the hero for the death of the first… Mm, John Howard becomes only the second sitting PM to lose his seat in a general election and Tony Abbott emerges from the sea to reek his vengeance on the forces that unseated the PM. And while Kevin is severely wounded and incapacitated by Tony and Julia manages to hold him off with the help of the Independents, Tony eventually destroys the government before being devoured by his own hungry fellow travellers. While many rejoice at the defeat of Abbott, the Liberals turn out to be a many-headed hydra where once one head is removed, its place is taken by something even more shocking.

Of course, I’ve always believed that the problem with political discourse is that you define the other side as evil, which justifies many dubious acts because, after all, it’s evil that we’re fighting. In suggesting that he’s a monster, I am ignoring the PM’s request to the Women’s Safety Summit last week where he said, ““I know everyone joining us for this summit wants the same thing. We will go much farther, you know, when we can all appreciate that we are all, from whatever place we are coming from to this summit, earnestly trying to achieve that same goal.” That’s hardly the speech of a monster, is it?

Oh wait, what was it that Booker said again? “The monster is heartless; unable to feel for others, although this may sometimes be disguised beneath a deceptively charming, kindly or solicitous exterior; it’s only real concern is to look after its own interests, at the expense of everyone else in the world…”

Mm, so maybe we need to look to the actions of the various mythical heroes when working out how to defeat the monster. David defeated Goliath, after all, by keeping his distance and scoring with a well-aimed stone. Perseus avoids being turned to stone by not looking directly at Medusa and using the reflection from his shield to locate and kill the Gorgon. Which mythical hero should we emulate?

Or perhaps something more modern? Dorothy defeated the Wizard by simply noticing that behind the screen, he was just an ordinary man… Although that’s been Scott’s defensive play when trouble strikes: “See I’m just a dad who likes making cubbies, curries and chook pens. And I make time from my busy schedule to fly into Canberra and do Prime Ministering as often as I can but getting this work/life balance thing isn’t easy…” And in H.G. Wells “War Of The Worlds”, the unstoppable Martians were defeated by exposure to a simple virus… Mm, sounds like they should have ordered the vaccines sooner.

Whatever, I’m sure that I’m on to something here. Let’s think, modern heroes…

Ah, James Bond. Well, not so much Bond himself, but the fact that the villain always reveals his plans once he has captured James and, once he escapes, he knows exactly what to do. Although, when I think about it, that’s no help because we know exactly what Scotty will do. He’ll schedule a press conference to announce the fact that they have a plan, even if they’re not very specific beyond telling us that they either are announcing an inquiry into The Thing That Needs Fixing or that they already have a plan and this plan is a good one which will totally fix The Thing That Needs Fixing. If any journalist should have the temerity to ask about this at some later stage we know that Scotty will tell us that it’s too early or that it’s too late but at least their plan was a good one even if the “hindsight heroes” are pointing out that it didn’t actually work.

Mm, maybe that’s the answer. We create a character called “Foresight Hero” who goes around telling us what’s going to happen.

I’ll work on it and get back to you. It’s all fine now, because I have a plan!!

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Nature abhors a vacuum

By 2353NM

In the past year or so, most of us would have become quite familiar with the group of people that seem to front up almost daily to discuss the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in each Australian jurisdiction. Usually there are a couple of politicians ably backed up by the experts in public health management, a high-ranking commissioned Police Officer, with a person live translating the discussion into Auslan for the benefit of those with hearing difficulties.

To some extent, they have all become minor celebrities, demonstrated by when the Queensland Government’s usual Auslan interpreter seemed to disappear from view recently, it became a news story in itself. He was ok, but quarantined.

Generally, the Chief Health Officers give background to the decisions they have recommended, with a degree of frankness that is lacking from politicians. As examples, Dr Janette Young, Dr Kerry Chant, Prof Brett Sutton and Dr Nicola Spurrier are happy to discuss their recommendations at a level where you don’t have to be a medical professional or the holder of a science-based PhD to understand. They communicate clearly and explain not only the decision but the reasons for the decision and none of them seem to be afraid to suggest that they actually don’t know all the answers. The ‘experts’ are also happy to discuss what they hope will happen if the plan works as intended.

Why do the respective governments around Australia wheel out their Chief Health Officers and similar staff when there is a crisis to address? The pattern is not a new thing. Shane Fitzsimmons is remembered by many as the ‘head’ of the New South Wales Fire Service during the 2019/2020 bushfires explaining the how and why of fire management. Various meteorologists are also given the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to explain why floods and cyclones affect some areas and not others most summers. In general, the expert information provided appears to be free of spin, marketing and point-scoring. As such, the majority of people put a great deal of trust in the provided information.

There is a lesson here for politicians and reporters, a lot of whom are sharing the stages with the various Chief Health Officers and their ilk at the moment. Frank and fearless advice generally is better accepted than incessant marketing, spin, vacuous promises and claims that cannot be either substantiated or supported. While there are certainly people who think the ‘experts’, reporters and the politicians are in cahoots to force us all into submission by the ‘lizard people’, most of us can understand frank advice and assess that we really should act upon it even if we find the actions irritating, annoying or difficult to comply with.

In contrast, Prime Minister Morrison determined that the dealings of the ‘national cabinet’ (which really are regular meetings of the Prime Minister and each state’s Premier/Chief Minister) should be secret. There has always seemed to be some ambiguity around the consensus achieved in ‘national cabinet’ meetings which suggests there isn’t always agreement. It is rare for the Premiers and Chief Ministers to be on the same stage as Morrison when the ‘national cabinet report’ is being presented.

Morrison’s justification for the secrecy is his decree that the ‘national cabinet’ was a committee of the Federal Government. It seems that others disagreed, with Senator Rex Patrick taking the government to court to gain access to ‘national cabinet’ documentation. The judge agreed with Senator Patrick that the justification for secrecy was invalid. The government had 30 days to appeal and on past history it probably will.

In comparison, the level of compliance with the patient and logical discussions by the medical experts who ‘stand up’ every day to go through the reasons for the restrictions in all our lives demonstrates that most of us can handle the truth even if it isn’t what we want to hear. It also seems that most of us can rationalise that some restrictions on our personal ‘freedoms’ help ourselves and others in our community, despite the claims of some who should know better.

A culture of secrecy does have consequences. If we don’t have the information there are a multitude of people who will make it up for a variety of reasons, including self-aggrandisement or to promote their own view of the world. Just as nature abhors a vacuum, people will fill information gaps caused by secrecy with ‘information’ that might be correct, but more than likely will not.

Open and honest communication demonstrates there is nothing to hide. It’s about time our politicians and reporters tried it. After all, they know the process works as they have been nearby spectators as it is demonstrated almost every day for over a year by the specialist staff employed to maintain public health.

What do you think?

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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