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Category Archives: News and Politics

Sameness

By Ad astra

Asked what he wanted from life, a wise man said: I want to live; I want to be loved; and I want a little variety.

This piece is about the latter: “a little variety”.

Are you, like me, wearied by the sameness of so much of contemporary life? Multiple lockdowns occasioned by Covid-19 has afflicted all of us. We have suffered the monotony of sameness, day after day. As many of you follow the political scene, let’s focus on the sameness of politics.

When parliament is in session, I tune into it to Question Time to update my knowledge of the issues that are extant in federal politics. Though a genuine quest for useful information, this is where my weariness with politics gets its daily top-up.

Every day, without fail, Anthony Albanese uses his privilege as Leader of the Opposition to ask the opening question, which he spits out with characteristic sarcasm, even venom. Habitually, he looks angry, hostile, even belligerent. His demeanour invites a similar response from the object of his question: almost always PM Morrison.

We know what the tenor of Morrison’s response will be: blustering, assertive, aggressive, sarcastic. We have come to expect a torrent of words, propelled angrily from his emotionally-charged glottis. The enjoyment he shows when his questioner is wounded is obvious, even to the amateur observer.

Wouldn’t it be a welcome surprise if Albanese asked a gentle question, one that sincerely sought a considered, informative response? Instead, his questions are barbed, designed not to elicit information, but to trap, to trip up, to annoy. Instead of snarling Anthony, why not surprise Scott Morrison with a carefully structured question, one that genuinely seeks important information, one that soothes rather than angers? He might be left almost, but not quite, speechless.

Scott Morrison, you would surprise everyone if your responses were helpful, gentle, and focused on offering useful information. You seem though to fear that the colleagues sitting behind you might perceive such responses as weak, as going soft on your opponents. You know that they expect you never to concede mistakes, and instead attack your adversaries relentlessly, to disparage them, to highlight their perceived past and present errors and deficiencies. Every day you sarcastically parade the same old clichés, accusations, mistakes, and perceived errors of judgement with palpable pleasure, to the enthusiastic applause of your supporters, who clearly enjoy the daily circus.

 

Image from crikey.com.au (Photo by AAP/Mick Tsikas)

 

As a torrent of allegations of misconduct, harassment, and bullying plague the government, our PM likes to portray himself as an unlucky leader of an unruly party. But a new book Power Play. Breaking Through Bias, Barriers and Boys’ Clubs, an honest guide … by former LNP Minister Julia Banks, paints a different picture, one where Morrison is not just complicit, but a ringleader in advancing the toxicity, a man more concerned with controlling the narrative than changing the culture.

And that’s why Australian women are turning their backs on a government that just doesn’t get it. Hopefully, Julia’s courage will challenge Morrison’s carefully curated image. But it does invite the question: “When will we stop placing the burden of fixing inequality on women?”

Writing in Women’s Agenda Angela Priestly spells out Banks’ dilemma: “If women with power can’t change a toxic culture by speaking up, can anything? If that happens where there’s a minimal power disparity … you can only imagine what happens to people who don’t have that sort of power.”

Enough said!

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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“This Won’t Be A Sympathetic Interview, Mr Morrison!”

Sig O’Phant: Good evening, tonight we’re bringing you an interview with the Prime Minister. Good evening, Mr Morrison.

Morrison: Evening.

Sig: Now, this is going to be a hard-hitting interview and I’m not going to let you get away with anything because that’s my job.

Morrison: Of course,

Sig: So I have to ask the hard questions, even though I personally may not think that they’re fair.

Morrison: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Sig: I mean, you know I didn’t actually write these questions.

Morrison: Let’s get on with it.

Sig: Right. Ok, first question: You’ve had a particularly rough week, how are you sleeping?

Morrison: Not too bad. I’m missing Jen and the kids, of course, because I’ve had to go back to Canberra and quarantine for Parliament but, as PM, one has to make sacrifices. The Olympics have helped and weren’t Australia great in the pool. It’s just wonderful that we’ve managed to secure the 2032 gig for Brisbane thanks to the hard work of whole range of people in my government.

Sig: Excellent. On another matter, are you worried about Sydney?

Morrison: Well, it’s hard not to be, but they have an excellent leader and I’m sure she’s trying her best, even if the task does seem a little beyond her at the moment, but we’re here ready to give whatever support they need and I think that you’ll find that now I’ve talked her into a lockdown, things should be fine any day now.

Sig: So will you be re-introducing JobKeeper?

Morrison: I don’t see the need for that. It was introduced to solve a particular problem and we’re not going to solve last year’s problems with this year’s solutions. We’re going to solve tomorrow’s problems by concentrating on what needs to be done, which is what my government is doing. We’re getting on with it. There’s no point in being wise in hindsight and there’s no point in regretting what you might have done if you’d done something that probably wouldn’t have helped because vaccines aren’t the answer to stopping lockdowns, we just need to be thankful that our Health Minister has worked night and day to get more at some future date so that we don’t need to lock down.

Sig: Someone was suggesting that the only way to suppress the vaccine is to get more vaccines into Sydney. Why don’t we just take them from the states that have no Covid and put the guns where the battle is most intense?

Morrison: Thanks, it was a beautiful Beef Rendang, which is one of the kid’s favourites. Taste.com.au have the recipe.

Sig: Um, er… ah… ok. Mr Morrison, what curry did you cook for your last meal with your family?

Morrison: Yes, we have considered that but it just wouldn’t be fair to those states who didn’t get any. I mean we need to give extra to Sydney but not at the expense of those who need it too because there’s a need and thanks to us we have millions of vaccines on their way in 2022. Thanks to the work of Mr Hunt, millions have had their first dose

Sig: Um… And they enjoyed it?

Morrison: The protests were selfish and they achieved no purpose. If anything they’ve extended the lockdown.

Sig: Excuse me, Mr Morrison, but I think we’ve got our questions and answers jumbled. Would you like to start again?

Morrison: No, let’s just keep going. You can edit them letter and put them all in the right order.

Sig: Ok, but that could be a bit confusing for the rest of the interview. I’m not sure…

Morrison: Your next question was the one about the Labor Party and their backflip on tax cuts.

Sig: I can’t find it.

Morrison: Never mind, find it later and edit it in. I’ll just give you my answer: This just shows that Labor can’t be trusted. They said that they were against them at the next election and now they’ve flipped. How are they going to pay for their promises without the revenue from these taxes?

Sig: I think that’s all I was supposed to ask.

Morrison: You were supposed to ask me about leadership tensions in the Labor Party and how Shorten wants Albanese’s job.

Sig: I thought he wanted your job… Sorry, that was a joke.

Morrison: Not funny. Oh, and by the way, can you keep spreading the rumour that I’ll call an early election if Dutton or Josh actually get the numbers for a spill.

Sig: So you were serious about that?

Morrison: Of course not, but they don’t know that. Although, if they do have the numbers I’d probably be better taking my chance with the electorate, wouldn’t I? I mean, imagine how many more car parks and change rooms we could allocate with the Covid stimulus excuse.

Sig: Ok, well, I’ll get the producer onto the editing. thanks, Mr Morrison.

Morrison: Thank you.

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

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Morrison and the exploding fish. A reverse ferret. Gladys under a bus. A khaki-Covid snap election?

Don’t you just love the suspense? A tiny peepshow of a lectern opens on your widescreen as Fauziah Ibrahim interrupts her “show” as she is wont to call ABC News 24; the PRIME MINISTER, is about to make an announcement (all brought to you less by the ABC than by mining magnate and Titanic liar, billionaire Wide-Boy Clive Palmer).

Indirectly. Clive’s $80 million negative advertising blitz on MSM and social media won the Coalition an election it fully expected to lose in 2019. Hence ScoMo’s massive, rorty cash splash. But how good were UAP’s anti-Labor, Shifty Shorten lies? Expect another round, when Morrison calls a snap khaki-Covid 2021 election with Lieutenant-General JJ Frewen in support; waiting at attention in the background.

There’s billions in the war chest, in large part, thanks to Liberal bag-man and Reaganite Josh Frydenberg who speaks softly and carries a big debt; his deficit binge is unprecedented. Of course it’s not all on our tab. It’s topped up by corporates and other donors with deep pockets but shallow arms when it comes to paying workers or taxes.

But how good’s the AEC now no-one can tell just how far you are open for business?

The AEC’s just come up with a nifty way of making it even harder to track donations – the new, you-beaut “other receipts” category in which donations over $14,300 are left to the discretion of giver or receiver, reports Luke Stacey for Michael West Media on the latest scam to corrupt our democracy.

But the money’s in the bag, as Bernard Keane notes, a pair of $100 billion deficits, the biggest in our history outside an economic crisis, despite unemployment being predicted to dip under five per cent.

“If the government can’t win an election with this cash splash, it should give up politics.”

And the PM’s always in election mode. Morrison’s legacy to Australian politics will not just be his petty point-scoring or his toxic hyperpartisanship – or behaving like a vainglorious lout – that all started with Abbott, who was also a notorious liar – nor his gargantuan gaming of funding schemes to funnel billions into electoral campaigns, nor as Bill Shorten says on ABC Insiders, his obsession with secrecy, running his government inside a “black box” – although any one of these would earn The Prime Gas Lighter undying notoriety, as would his lies, in any other government were it not so utterly, wantonly corrupt and inept.

This is what gaslighting looks like, tweets Bradpsychology.

March 2020: “I’m going to watch the Sharks while I still can.”

July 2020: “We’ve got to live with the virus.”

Yesterday: “I’ve been calling this a national emergency for two years.”

Whilst this is, indeed, Olympic class gas-lighting, Morrison will go down in history as the PM who pork-barrelled vaccines. He’s got something up his sleeve. Gladys has been publicly begging other states for their share of vax so that she can be seen to be doing something other than pleading with the great unwashed from her balcony. All of this runs through your mind while you try to follow Fauzia but that peephole is so distracting.

Perhaps the PM will roll out a barrel of vax Friday, you wonder, as he’s about to dash out of another COAG, meeting, which it suits him to dress up as “National Cabinet”; the delusion of a constitutional nincompoop but a grandiose title, Morrison feels can only add to his importance. Ionesco worried about how such abuse of language robbed us of our individuality and humanity. To say nothing of integrity and truth.

But it bigs our Bald Prima Donna up – as he shrewdly calculates.

As does keeping the nation waiting. Yet he’s got to be careful with the optics.

Big-noting yourself can backfire a bit in politics as in the real life. Hubris, the ancient Greeks called it, excessive pride, violating the bounds set for humans. And it was punished by the gods. Well, the PM is being put back in his box by Pfizer.

Morrison keeps us waiting even when his presser’s held at his home at Kirribilli. As it almost always is now. No good knocking. Clearly, like the porter in Macbeth, Morrison has a bit of trouble opening his own door. The Porter, nevertheless, has Morrison The Prime Equivocator’s number in Macbeth;

Faith, here’s an equivocator, that could swear in both the scales against either scale; who committed treason enough for God’s sake, yet could not equivocate to heaven. O, come in, equivocator.

Why it was only in May that Scotty modestly declared victory over Covid. We are “out of the emergency phase” he says. Disbands his Covid Commission Advisory Board. Job done. Mission accomplished. Huge back-pat of self in public. Group hugs. Selfie sticks a-hoy. Stellar A-listers, such as Jane Halton, a former chair of what Paul Barratt agrees was the “appallingly named” People Smuggling Task Force – of Babies Overboard and Crown notoriety can always get a government out of a tight spot.

Halton has been a boon also to Crown’s board despite a fragile memory, although counsel assisting the NSW Crown Resorts casino inquiry, Adam Bell SC, accuses her of playing semantics. Splitting hairs, playing semantics or casuistry is a big part of the Canberra Babel-bubble that is ScoMo-town.

The COVID-19 Commission Advisory Board was established by the federal government to have a go-to panel of experts that would help it ‘troubleshoot in the crisis management phase of the pandemic’ Morrison bullshits, but don’t you love his officalese? You can tell he’s an apparatchik from way back by his verbiage. Today, three states in lockdown may be cursing the PM for his boondoggle.

Nifty Nev Power, formerly of Fortescue Metals and other business-class blowhards were supposedly meeting, and pooling their experience; “looking at things from a business perspective”. AKA putting the foxes in charge of the henhouse.

How do we profit out of Covid? It’s beyond business types to think of others. Pop over in our private jet to Dr Albert Bourla the Pfizer-Kaiser, uncrowned emperor of the Southern world? Go down on bended knee? Never was going to happen.

Ensure we had adequate supplies of vaccine secured? A viable distribution or quarantine system? Never crosses their minds unless they can cut a deal. If only CSL and AstraZeneca had paid off. Morrison’s Covid commission con will cost him dearly. Some of the tamed estate are already connecting the dots between the Prime Time Waster, the pandemic and his criminal neglect of critical responsibilities.

Of course, like leading the world and being at the head of the queue it was another Morrison con. The outcome, after a year of expensive deliberations, was the “gas-led recovery” another pipe-dream. Gas will be so costly it will impede any recovery. Not to mention its dirty little secret – methane emissions. No-one could call it green energy. We’ll soon be paying an external carbon tax because we ditched our own.

Yet Power’s ploy serves the gas industry. Appeases the mining industry. Wins votes in Queensland electorates and in big mining muppet Joel Fitzgibbon’s benighted Hunter.

“Remember, my value is: we look after our mates,” Morrison told us 6 September 2018.

And ourselves first. Like a self-inflating Michelin man, Scotty’s been puffing himself up ever since he bought his miracle win. Yet, at the risk of hurting thin-skinned Clive’s feelings, we can’t leave Murdoch’s puffery out of the picture. Nor its uncanny capacity to turn on ScoMo’s frenemies.

Witness the Daily Tele’s bagging Glad recently. Papped as she and new beau, defamation silk, Arthur Moses SC, duck out unmasked on a morning coffee run.

How very dare she? Her mask-wearing rules are “ambiguous”, thunders the Tele. My, the PMO’s fixer has been busy. The Australian’s Katrina Grace Kelly also does a reverse ferret back-flip, (UK journo Kelvin MacKenzie held that a good reporter should stick a ferret up a public figure’s trousers), based on the Northern sport of ferret-legging. Fawning and flattery saw him run out of his office shouting, “Reverse Ferret!”

MacKenzie would keep very fit in Australia media establishments. KG Kelly, too is exercised, even though her gymnastics may be triggered by a press drop from a PMO fixer. Whatever its origin, the rebuke is clear. And a fair call.

“The NSW government must be held to account. Its actions endanger its own people and the rest of the nation. Failure will cause misery, illness and death, and eliminate our one strategic advantage – isolation and international border closures.”

But it’s not just a pliant press, billion dollar handouts to the likes of Gerry Harvey, via the heavily rorted JobKeeper and powerful media mogul mates prop up our dud PM – whom Hugh McKay says is not even a good salesman;

“In the world of commercial product marketing, brand integrity matters. Honesty matters. Sincerity matters. Delivering on your promises matters. And so does some grasp of the psychology of communication. Yet Morrison shows no evidence that he understands any of this.”

Along with a fawning claque of press gallery courtiers posing as reporters, credit for Morrison’s miracle win and the stupor mundi that is his rapidly unravelling misgovernment is also due to carparks in the air, SportsRorts© – dwarfed tenfold or eleven according to Michael Pascoe by the Community Development Grants program and pork-barrelling; an election bought with rorts; so on the nose that you get a fishy whiff every time Morrison is due to speak.

A fish rots from the head down, but this government is also rotten to the core. From Robo-debt’s extortion of the poor and the tightening of NDIS – a sadistic cruelty which McKay believes Morrison appears to enjoy – through to the 1000% mark up on the Leppington triangle land for a Liberal donor, wall to wall corruption.

From leaking against Julia Banks and David Sharaz, partner of Brittany Higgins, whose alleged rapist appears to have vanished, to the $3.7 million the government is prepared to spend in the prosecution of Witness K and Bernard Collaery – just to deter to any would-be whistle blowers in the future – corruption.

It’s a study in putrescence rotten with sleaze, self-interest, scams, rorts and malice aforethought.

South Korean contemporary sculpture and installation artist Lee Bul, whose work “questions patriarchal authority and the marginalization of women by revealing ideologies that permeate our cultural and political sphere” captures our federal government’s essence with her Majestic Splendour, (1991-2018) a series of sequin-covered rotting fish she displayed at London’s Hayward Gallery.

Tragically, Majestic Splendour catches fire as it is being removed. Lee had added potassium permanganate to attenuate the stench. In an otherwise flawless 1997 showing at New York’s MoMa, Majestic Splendour’s stench makes visitors puke. But the chemical is also an accelerant.

Only minimal damage is done to the gallery thanks to the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade who are quick on the scene to extinguish the exploding fish but Morrison may not be so lucky.

Trashing Labor helps. Flash forward to Saturday’s Dan Bash. Richard Willingham tells ABC viewers that “frustration is mounting” with the Victorian government when a trio of orchestrated demonstrations against lockdown, vaccination, 5G, reason and common-sense, bring thousands into the streets of Melbourne, Sydney and Adelaide. Things turn ugly. Violent. A man punches a police-horse in Sydney.

Dan is almost done according to Willingham who detects “a general shittiness around the community over the latest lockdown. His article’s headline reads,

“Premier Andrews needs to offer hope to ease mounting anger, but it’s a nearly impossible task”

Oddly, apart from the PM’s favoured Newscorp stable, there is generally less censure for Gladys. But give it time.

For Sydney in a Clayton’s lockdown, there are fears that this will prove a super-spreader. The super-spreader, however, is Morrison who’s knocked back vaccines offered by the almighty Pfizer Corporation, failed to discharge the federal government’s responsibility for quarantine and totally failed the supply and distribution challenges of a vaccine roll-out. But what will be his spiel on Friday?

We are besides ourselves in anticipation.

No. He’s not coming out to tell us he didn’t shit himself in Engadine Maccas. He did that a week ago on Sydney radio’s top-rating Kyle and Jackie O Show, while the city is locked down in a pandemic of epic proportions for, which Morrison is largely responsible. He brings it up, himself. Priorities.

When Gladys was on KIIS she came bearing gifts, a set of cuff-links for a man who never wears a shirt and a bottle of red and a white. That’s when she swore she would never ever impose a lockdown.

But look over there. Up pops a lonely lectern in a little picture frame all on its own down low. It’s OK, you can still read the chyron. How good is a single wooden prop to build our mounting excitement? Waiting for ScoMo. There’s a lot of Beckett’s theatre of the absurd about the entire Morrison production. He’s kept us all waiting for years. And frustrated. Existential angst? Who can forget the balding prima donna’s bravura performance in The Boat Stoppers, a long-running theatre of cruelty soap opera?

At first a weekly presser with a mute, uniformed Angus Campbell doing backup vocals as ScoMo militarised our compassion. No. You can’t ask questions about any on water matter. National security is at stake. Then the weekly Canberra soapie moved to Sydney so ScoMo could be home for tea. After a few heady, histrionics from the man who would keep us all safe, the pressers became more infrequent until they petered about altogether, in line with every enterprise Morrison has ever been involved in.

The suspense of awaiting his Prime-ness to bless us with his presence mounts as Scott Almighty Morrison keeps the nation waiting, as he does last Friday, only to bust out of the almost suburban door of the Lodge, interior all done up nicely on a frugal budget of $8.8 million by Tony Abbott and his Canberra landlady Peta Credlin.

Tragically, Abbo never got to move in thanks to Fizza Turnbull knifing him and the Morrisons are never there, expect on sufferance, under Covid.

And the last Trump shall sound. Morrison dashes out of the Lodge to appear at a greatly relieved lectern. His face is a study. Things are not going well in the National Cabinet. The premiers have been used to fighting the pandemic by themselves and now for the PM it’s like herding cats. Morrison’s upstaged by his own pretension. Mike Seccombe’s impeccable contacts give us the inside story.

Straight into the call, the New South Wales government minister was ripping into Scott Morrison. The prime minister had two jobs, he said: roll out the vaccination program and fix the quarantine system. “And he stuffed it.”

When it was suggested to the minister that he sounded as if he was reciting Anthony Albanese’s talking points, he replied: “Well Albo’s absolutely correct.”

The Lodge looks scruffy on the outside. Needs a paint job. No wonder ScoMo spurns it in preference to playing King of Kirribilli. But then again, he has tickets on his tickets on himself. He is as Katharine Murphy says, aspirational; a project still in process.

Morrison’s speech is ordinary, too, when at last we get to hear it. He’s an Olympic standard word salad tosser and a Gish galloper who’s almost impossible to parse or follow. Sets out to overwhelm his audience with as many arguments as possible, with no regard for the accuracy, validity, or relevance of those arguments.

The Delta variant completely changes the game, he tells us. And off he gallops using a favourite personal brow-beater, the completely spurious list. My, how he loves to list information already well known. It gives him time to think, of course; a temporizer, but it’s also a tactic he knows will wear his listeners down. Here he goes

“… the Delta variant presents a very fresh challenge and we have to adapt and we have to change on occasions how we do things, just as countries are all around the world, whether they be in Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, indeed of course here in Australia and across Europe and other parts of the world. That’s the nature of the Delta variant.”

Masochistic readers can enjoy the full text of his edited presser themselves. By the second paragraph he’s come up with the solution. We’ve got to soldier on.

“So, in New South Wales, as we continue to combat this in Sydney, what I want to say to those in Sydney is we’ve got to press on. We’ve got to continue to show that strength. We’ve got to continue to support each other. There are no easy solutions here. There are no silver bullets, just as there were not last year when Victoria went through their prolonged lockdown. This thing only gets beaten by suppressing it. Of course, vaccines can put wind at the back of those who are trying to achieve that outcome, and that’s what we have to do.”

If only we’d remembered to buy the vaccines, which are morphing here from a shot in the arm to a tailwind for those of us who are keen to stay alive or out of an ICU. If only we’d got them into peoples’ arms. We’ve had plenty of time to do both.

Spoiler alert: the day after his presser in which he publicly sends Gladys “Oliver” Berejiklian, who dares asks for more, away with an empty vax bowl, in another Oliver Twist (remember he played the Artful Dodger in his High School production, in 1982 – the PM or his fixer comes up with a solution. He has a secret stash of vaccine.

Sceptics wonder if this just a virtual surplus vaccine derived by extending the Pfizer second shot from three to six weeks – against all medical advice.

(“I’d Do Anything” is the anthem of the resourceful pickpocket and street urchin). So well cast. Right on cue, The Dodger finds some more vaccine in a national stockpile that must have fallen down the back of the sofa – no- not that sofa. The next day.

As the learned Dr Sheep Devil Person aka Dr Jennifer Wilson tweets,

Morrison says he has “found” 280,000 Pfizer doses. But he couldn’t “find” anything when Queensland asked two weeks ago? Only the most vile person would play games with vaccines in this way.

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Scott Morrison And The Ministry Of Information And Stuff That We Should Believe…

In a crisis, good information is paramount so it’s really lucky that this isn’t a crisis.

Just in case you’re confused, it’s not a crisis because we have everything on target and going to plan and now, we have a four phase plan which describes what will happen in the future assuming that it does. Added to this we now have some army guys running “Operation Covid Shield” which aims to shield the Prime Minister from any awkward questions by having the generals answer them. General Frewen announced in June that we were having a “complete refresh” which is army talk for: ‘’We just sustained a series of heavy defeats so we’re pretending that our strategy of retreat and surrender is part of a new plan for victory.”

But I think you’ll all agree that it’s good to have the army in charge… Well, not in charge. There hasn’t been a military coup, in spite of Dutton being Defence Minister. The vaccine rollout had been in the hands of private companies but like the Covid-Safe App and JobKeeper, it soon became apparent that this was only fifty percent effective. While it didn’t actually help with the battle against Covid-19, it did manage to transfer money from the pockets of the government into private industry which – as anyone following the Liberals knows – it’s better that people have the money rather than governments.

To illustrate this you only have to look at the Great Barrier Reef foundation who were given nearly half a billion dollars without asking for it, or the Car Park scheme where money was allocated for a car park next to a non-existent train station. You wouldn’t get private industry spending money like that. No, as the Liberals keep telling us, don’t trust us with anything, we’re incompetent! Well, they don’t say it quite like that, but they tell us that governments can’t be trusted to be efficient, even when they’re the government.

Anyway, back to the importance of information in battling Covid-19. Let’s clearly set it all out:

  1. Lockdowns are bad for the economy and we need to work to avoid them, and the Prime Minister says Gladys is wonderful because she’s managed to do just that.
  2. In order to stop lockdowns you need to get vaccinated.
  3. People aren’t getting vaccinated because there’s some confusion about the fact that they can’t book in unless they see their doctor and if they’re under sixty lots of doctors are telling them that they’d be better to wait for the Pfizer dose which is coming in millions of doses in the coming months.
  4. Scott Morrison’s office leaks to journalists that he was the one who encouraged Gladys to lockdown.
  5. More than half of Australia’s population is in lockdown, so you need to consider asking your doctor again about Astra-Zeneca because things have changed.
  6. We need to get more people vaccinated to get the economy moving.
  7. Brendan Murphy and the PM are telling us that more vaccinations wouldn’t have stopped the current lockdowns anyway because Delta is happening in other countries who have a much better vaccine rollout…
  8. By much better vaccine rollout, it should be made very clear that they only had a better rollout because they weren’t victims of their own success like we were and they thought it was a race.
  9. It wasn’t a race but now it is and we have to catch up, so will someone do a story about the restorative power of curries when it comes to hair growth?

I think that’s about it.

Quotes from the movie, Forrest Morrison:

“Life is like a box of chocolates because you never know what you’re getting unless you look at the bottom of the box and then all the chocolates fall out.” – Scotty

”Listen, you promise me something, OK? Just if you’re ever in trouble, don’t be brave. You just run, OK? Just run away.” – Jenny

“I may not be a smart man, Jenny, but I know what polls are.” Scotty

”Run, Scotty, run!” Rupert Murdoch

”Stupid is as, stupid does.” Barnaby Joyce.

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“Ye shall know them by their fruits”

On Wednesday, 20 July, The Prime Minister did three radio interviews. During the third on Melbourne’s KIIS 101.1, he was asked by the host Jase Hawkins to apologise for the “nightmare” of the vaccine rollout.

“Can you honestly say to me that the government has taken accountability?” he said.

“Like, I have never heard the word ‘sorry’ – ‘guys you know what, sorry, we did screw it up, but we are getting it right now’.”

For the entirety of the interview, Jase tried to elicit the word “sorry” from the Prime Minister. It was like trying to extract blood from a stone. He did, however, manage an admission of sorts that he was responsible for Australia being last on a list of nations well ahead of us with their vaccination programs.

He eventually conceded this fact but still refused to apologise.

“I am accountable for the vaccination program and everything that has happened in it.

“And I am also accountable for fixing it, and that is what I am doing.”

In Mathew Matt 7:15-20 of the Christian Bible, the author speaks of false prophets, saying you can spot false prophets by their behaviour.

It is a scripture that the Prime Minister would be very familiar with.

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing”) for inwardly, “they are ravenous wolves.”

So, who takes responsibility for all the mistakes, lies, deaths, illnesses, billions of dollars of losses, quarantine failures and mental illnesses?

“Ye shall know them by their fruits.”

The Prime Minister continuously blames others, misleads and tries to lie his way out of situations. He has played a political game from which we have inherited so much misery and pain. He is responsible for the bitter harvest we have reaped. Consequently, he will be called out for his indiscretions until the next election.

One of the perils of writing articles of condemnation is that the person in question – midway through your writing – does an about-face and apologises for his actions.

And this is what happened. Before I had finished, I was greeted with this headline on news.com “PM apologises for vaccine rollout failure, despite previously denying responsibility.”

The article essentially said that:

“Adelaide’s FIVEaa radio hosts David and Will told the PM: “The reason you’ve got 12 million people in lockdown is because you got it (the rollout) so wrong in the first place.”

“No, I don’t accept that,” Mr Morrison said.

The PM made similar deflections later on Wednesday on ABC radio:

“We’ve had our problems … many have been out of our control,” he insisted.

But after 24 hours of intense scrutiny, “Mr Morrison chose a different form of words on Thursday.”

Then is the space of 24 hours; on Thursday, he had changed his tune. He had been lying.

“I take responsibility for the things that haven’t gone as well as we have liked and I take responsibility for the things that have worked as well,” he said.

But when pressed by reporters on why he didn’t accept responsibility sooner, Mr Morrison said:

“I think I have been very clear that as Prime Minister I am responsible for the vaccination program and I also have been very clear that that responsibility means fixing and dealing with the problems that we’ve had.”

In a mood of utter disgust and dissatisfaction that what I had read could in any way be described as an apology, I went in search of some words of sincerity that might be apologetic.

The nearest I came across was in The Guardian:

“I’m certainly sorry we haven’t been able to achieve the marks that we hoped for at the beginning of this year,”

“Now hang on,” I thought to myself. Here we have arguably the worst public policy stuff up in the nation’s history, one that has cost many lives and will cost many more, and this is an apology. Simply outrageous

Perhaps in my haste to extract an apology from this buffoon purporting to be a leader, I have lost sight of the bigger picture. The need to have more people vaccinated. That this should be the main aim after all.

Or perhaps I find the apology empty because if he can find a few words representing an apology in this matter, he should be able to do so for the many other instances that require one.

For this reason, I cannot say that the apology offered is sufficient. It lacks grace and sincerity, and importantly it is devoid of anything that might restore the trust that has been lost.

It is difficult to restore trust in a leader who, when confronted by significant decisions (no matter the circumstances), allows his politics or religion to replace the common good.

We have so many lockdowns because Scott Morrison used his political judgment rather than his common sense and placed too much faith in AstraZeneca rather than putting in an order for Pfizer in July 2020.

He said that we were in the “front of the queue.”

When it became apparent that we were last, Mr Morrison changed his mind and said, “this isn’t a race.”

Contrary to the fact that we are in a race to save lives, Scott Morrison re-iterated in March and on no less than three other occasions, “it’s not a race, it’s not a competition.

My thought for the day

Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth and trust as being fundamental to the democratic process make the most contribution to its demise.

PS: “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”


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Seeking the Post-COVID Sunshine: Returning to Henry Kissinger’s Diplomatic Magic

By Denis Bright

The upsurge in international tensions favouring the containment of China has alarmed former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger. Henry Kissinger has recently participated in a virtual meeting organized by the Chinese Institute of Foreign Affairs (CPIFA) to mark the fiftieth anniversary of his epic trip in July 1971. This initiative paved the way for the normalization of relations with the Nixon Administration.

A video from The Economist covers Henry Kissinger’s recent take on the consequences of deteriorating relations between the US and China.

Not all the magic generated by US diplomatic relations with China some years after President Nixon’s visit has completely evaporated in the dangerous rhetoric from the Trump era. Local officials on the Taiwanese island of Kinmen just off the Chinese City of Xiamen insist on keeping tourist services operating to and from China although the Taiwanese government is now opposed to the construction of a six kilometre long suspension bridge across the divide. Bookings are still open for day trips from Xiamen to Kinmen Island.

According to Henry Kissinger, a new normalization in relations between the US and China is likely to come from the sheer necessity of working with the emergent Asian superpower which was first out of the block in its sustained recovery from a quarter of negative economic growth in March 2020:

 

Percentage Changes in Chinese Economic Growth

 

Regrettably, the normalization of relations with China is still politically hazardous venture for the Biden Administration. The far right populism of the Trump era has not fully subsided. Mid-term US congressional elections in November 2022 are far from an epoch away. The domestic challenges to an incoming US administration in its first mid-term political test were apparent under Eisenhower, Kennedy, Clinton and Barack Obama. Tensions with China might simmer until 2023. Even Richard Nixon waited until after the 1970 mid-term election before sending Henry Kissinger off to China. The Republicans retained control of both houses of congress despite substantial net gains by the Democratic Party in house seats.

Strategic initiatives by middle powers in the US Global Alliance could have disastrous consequences if they involve too much risk-taking to snuff out real opportunities for rapprochement in the future. Taking on China might be punching a little above our weight despite the sporting successes at a recent rugby event:

Historical Precedents in the Diplomatic Stakes

When Henry Kissinger visited China in July 1971, Australian perspectives about China were developed through the prism of our embassy in Taiwan. The Nixon Administration did not keep allies informed about Henry Kissinger’s mission to Beijing. The US-China Institute at the University of Southern California offers details of the history of Richard Nixon’s overtures to China which commenced in 1967 when he was just a candidate for president.

Opportunities were available for the normalization of relations between China and the world community in the early Cold War Period through events like the Bandung Conference (Indonesia) in 1955. Domestic tensions in the US and allied countries over the post-Korean war recession prevented the fulfilment of such expectations. This was a wasted opportunity for both China and the countries of South East Asia who were involved for a generation in containment of China.

Diverse Bandung Conference Participants

  • Kingdom of Afghanistan
  • Union of Burma
  • Kingdom of Cambodia
  • Dominion of Ceylon
  • People’s Republic of China
  • Cyprus1
  • Republic of Egypt
  • Ethiopian Empire
  • Gold Coast
  • Republic of India
  • Republic of Indonesia
  • Imperial State of Iran
  • Kingdom of Iraq
  • Japan
  • Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
  • Kingdom of Laos
  • Lebanese Republic
  • Liberia
  • Kingdom of Libya
  • Kingdom of Nepal
  • Dominion of Pakistan
  • Republic of the Philippines
  • Kingdom of Saudi Arabia
  • Syrian Republic
  • Sudan 2
  • Kingdom of Thailand
  • Republic of Turkey
  • State of Vietnam (South)
  • Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North)
  • Mutawakkilite Kingdom of Yemen

1 A pre-independent colonial Cyprus was represented by [the] eventual first president, Makarios III.

2 Pre-independence Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was represented by Chief Minister Ismail al-Azhari and used a provisional flag.

Ironically, it was the Country Party arm of the LNP Coalition in 1955 which was most receptive to the diversification of markets for rural products and mineral resources to countries like China and the predominantly non-aligned group of countries from the Middle East to South East Asia. This opportunism from the Country Party co-existed with support for a Taipei-based Australian embassy and the militarization of South East Asia as a bastion against the advance of communism. Some readers might be able to locate the brochure prepared for school students across Australia to support the war in Vietnam and share this link through the replies option to The AIMN articles.

Middle powers like Australia and France are acting irresponsibly if they stoke up international tensions by provocative manoeuvres on the high seas as well as tit for tat electronic warfare through running the gauntlet operations off Central Queensland and the peripheries of China as well as the latest episodes of cyber warfare.

France’s first submarine expedition to the South China Sea is probably motivated by the prospect of more arms exports to countries in the US Global Alliance such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In the short-term, it has the strategic zeal of testing Chinese electronic surveillance of adjacent seaways through the first underwater venture to the South China Sea which returned safely to Toulon after seven months at sea.

Within DFAT itself, there might be concerns about commercial losses from a deterioration in relations with China. It is surely in Australia’s commercial interests to cool down these tensions as trade and investment ties with China are a key factor in our sustainable prosperity. There are indeed some contradictory policies in relation to ties with China.

Australia retains substantial deposits in the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). Relations between Australia and China were quite cordial at the AIIB’s Roundtable Discussions (Australia’s Alternate Governor’s Address to the AIIB’s Roundtable Discussion 2020):

“It is my pleasure to represent Australia at this year’s AIIB Annual Meeting as Australia’s Alternate Governor. We are obviously meeting at a time when the global economy faces unprecedented challenges arising from COVID-19, which has been spoken about. Now whilst the pandemic has affected all countries differently, the need to finance large-scale health responses amidst deteriorating macro-economic conditions has been a common challenge.

Australia commends the AIIB for joining the international community’s efforts to help finance the pandemic response. We particularly welcomed the Bank’s effective use of partnerships with other multilateral development banks to deliver much of this support. The AIIB’s COVID-19 Response Facility is an exceptional response to the extraordinary circumstances that the Bank and the world currently face. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more important it will be, for AIIB, to be clear about where it can best add value to the international community’s efforts to alleviate health and economic impacts, working within its own resource constraints and business model.”

France Balances Commercial and Strategic Priorities

With centre-right governments in charge across most of the thirty member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) states, neoconservative political and military leaders are acting in tandem on containment strategies towards China. President Macron’s government in France is strongly en marche with these global developments but French manoeuvres in the South China Sea are still risky ventures if they involve undersea stealth operations by ageing nuclear attack submarines. France has grand plans to re-equip its submarine fleet with four new generation vessels.

Latest challenges for the French ship-building initiatives include the construction of four new nuclear powered attack submarines for deployment between 2030 and far-off 2080. More export contracts would assist in defraying the costs of the long-term commitments.

 

 

The frankness of France’s commitment to the containment of China was covered in recent soft news from the 20h30 Report from Channel 2 in Paris on 11 July 2021.

A reporter and film crew from Channel 2 in Paris toured the Émeraude when it returned to the Port of Toulon in April 2021. This report offered superficial coverage of the submarine’s Exocet missiles and computer guidance systems. Full details of the epic voyage were still withheld for both the submarine and its Loire-class support vessel Seine. These details excluded places visited on both Indian Ocean crossings and even maneuvers associated with the visit to the Kwinana Naval Base near Perth.

French NavalNews did release an official video. Readers will need to be satisfied with the official version of events from Naval News editor Xavier Vasasseur with Captain Antoine Delaveau, Commanding Officer of the Blue Crew assigned to the Submarine Émeraude.

 

 

Details of the visit of the two French vessels to Perth on 11 November 2020 were also covered by Continental Defence in November 2020.

Historically, France’s small fleet of nuclear powered submarines has a tarnished safety record. The Émeraude has been in service since 1986. Ten crew members from its crew died in a naval exercise off Toulon in 1994.

The use of the ageing Émeraude for the mission to the South China Sea was indeed a risky venture. Even between allied submarines and commercial freighters, there have been accidental collisions in uncontested waters. The risks are increased by passive sonar operations.

The British submarine Vanguard and France’s Triomphant were damaged on the night of 3-4 February 2009 during undersea operations in the Atlantic without any substantial injuries to crew or a reported release of radioactive materials (BBC News 16 February 2009). A French Rubis nuclear submarine also collided with an oil tanker while surfacing off Toulon in 1993 (Journal of Commerce 1 September 1993).

There is a risk of similar incidents in stealth operations near China. Stripes.com (29 January 2021) notes the psychological stresses on Chinese crews who monitor manoeuvres in the name of that freedom of navigation imperative:

A fifth of sailors assigned to Chinese submarines patrolling the South China Sea have experienced some degree of mental health problems, according to a study published this month.

“This study demonstrates for the first time that soldiers and officers in the submarine force in the South China Sea are exposed to a number of mental health risks and are suffering from serious psychological problems,” Chinese researchers concluded in the study published Jan. 7 in the journal Military Medicine.

The study’s five authors are affiliated with the Institute of Military Health Management at Naval Medical University in Shanghai, China.

It assessed the “self-perceived” mental health of Chinese submariners, then compared those findings to “Chinese military male norms,” the study said.

Implications for the Forthcoming Australian Federal Elections

If the trendlines in the latest Newspoll can be maintained Labor can best coast towards the next federal election with a largely bipartisan stance on international relations issues. Missionary idealism over international relations issues cost Dr. Evatt the 1954 House of Representatives which followed the first visit of Queen Elizabeth to Australia and the planned fall-out from the Petrov affair. Both events combined to save the federal LNP from defeat with the assistance of that old gerrymander of regional seats.

 

 

Only Labor in government can sort out the current mess with China as the Biden Administration must first quell its own domestic political ghosts from the Trump era. Staying with the advice from Henry Kissinger to win elections in 2022, it is an imperative to the new generation of leaders across the US Global Alliance from Australia to France, Britain and the USA to be on guard against missionary populism of the left and far right variants.

Hopefully, leaders of both China and the USA are aware that a period of megaphone diplomacy may be necessary to resolve current problems. Hopefully, the ground-rules are better explained to countries like Australia given the history of diplomatic U-turns during the Nixon era to protect political leaders who want to be A Grade Players in global diplomacy with observer status at the recent G7 Forum in Cornwall.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a financial member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to consensus-building in these difficult times. Your feedback from readers advances the cause of citizens’ journalism. Full names are not required when making comments. However, a valid email must be submitted if you decide to hit the Replies Button.

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Why Did We Need Katie Hopkins When We Have So Many Unemployed Bigots Here Already?

Ah, cancel culture strikes and Katie Hopkins is sent away simply because she refused to obey the law… The outrage industry strikes again.

I know I’m repeating myself, but well, isn’t history just littered with people who repeat themselves until somebody says why didn’t they say that before and when the person says that they did, they’re asked why they didn’t say it more often…

Ok, in capitals so we all hear it:

WHY ARE THE PEOPLE WHO ARE ACTUALLY PAID TO BE OUTRAGED ALL THE TIME LIKE BOLT AND JONES, THE VERY PEOPLE WHO ACCUSE OTHER PEOPLE OF BEING PART OF AN ‘OUTRAGE INDUSTRY”???

But then there’s a lot of things I don’t understand!

For example, what are we to make of this?

“Prime Minister Scott Morrison says his government is in ‘constant appeal’ for the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation to change its advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine.” Sky News

However the matter doesn’t end there with Scotty thundering at reporters: “Are you suggesting that the government when advised by the technical and advisory group on immunisation, some of the most senior level scientific medicos in the country, tell the government that the preferred vaccine for people of particular ages is 50 then they changed it to 60 that the government should refuse that advice?”

Yep, but the recent brouhaha with Katie Hopkins confuses me even more.

Ok, it’s true that there’s a certain irony that someone who is so hostile to lockdowns would come all the way to Australia just so she could be locked down in the Big Brother house, However, one wonders whether she was ever more than a publicity stunt for Channel 7. You know, “We’ll pay you X amount to come to Australia and be so offensive that we sack you. You can go back home and every news outlet will be giving us free publicity and then you can go back home and do some interviews about cancel culture!”

Win/win!

Anyway, I sort of have trouble when “conservatives” decide that they can break the law because they don’t agree with it. Yeah, yeah, I get that people need to break laws when they feel that they’re unjust or something… But when someone like Sally McManus – that union person – says something about being prepared to do just that, wasn’t she’s told that the LAW is sacrosanct? It’s not up to us to decide, to pick and choose what laws to follow – but hey, she wasn’t a CONSERVATIVE saying that we should break the law. She was one of those people who don’t understand their place and who thinks that they can break laws just because they want to, as opposed to people who have lawyers who can get them off…

Hmm, I’m tempted to make some tasteless joke about Gladys dating her lawyer because she needs someone who can get her off, but that may seem sexist to some and I may be forced to do that optional training that’s meant to solve sexual harassment and bullying in Federal Parliament. Oh wait, it’s optional. Yes, well that should make about as much difference as Scotty’s recent hair transplant makes to the vaccine rollout.

Yes, compare the favourable coverage some publican in Echuca received from Nine News when he decided to defy the lockdown and stay open with how they react when some poor casual worker decides to keep working in breach of health orders. One is doing it because it’s hard to keep a business afloat so we need to be understanding of the pressures, while the other is only doing it so that they can eat.

Whatever, it was good to see the PM demonstrate to us all that he’s still alive by holding a press conference where he announced that things were basically on target but just a little bit late and that’s mainly the fault of ATAGI… which, apart from the fact that he told us earlier this year that they wouldn’t be setting targets, does use the term «on target » in a rather unique way. «I was basically there for the ten o’clock meeting, apart from the fact that it started at ten and I arrived at midday! »

Of course, it was offensive of one journalist to suggest that the government do anything other than follow the health advice. That’s why the PM is adopting the Great Barrier Reef strategy. It would be wrong to ignore an independent body, so we’ll do the best we can to pressure them to give us the advice we want to follow. And if that doesn’t work, we can cut their funding like we did with the audit office… Mind you that only works if they’re funded by the government.

Yes, sometimes Scott Morrison just rambles on with meaningless waffles and lies, but other times, he disappears and says nothing.

Either way, his detractors are never satisfied… and speaking of Dutton and Frydenberg, apparently, Dutton thinks he has the numbers but without Mathias there to confirm them, he’s not willing to move. Josh was sure he had the numbers but after a recount, he discovered that he was short by sixty billion…

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A John Clarke Inspired Sketch: Mia from PMO

Brian: Thanks for your time tonight.

John: It’s a pleasure to be with you, Brian, good evening.

Brian: Now you’re from the Prime Minister’s office?

John: That’s right, Brian. I work for the big guy.

Brian: And what’s your name?

John: My name’s Mia, Brian.

Brian: Mia from the Prime Minister’s office. We haven’t seen you around much recently. Is everything alright?

John: It comes with the territory, Brian. The Prime Minister’s a busy man.

Brian: He must be, because we haven’t seen him in the last few days. What’s motivating him?

John: He gets his inspiration from Jesus, Brian.

Brian: How so?

John: Well, Brian, he often asks himself ‘What would Jesus do?’ and then for some reason he goes and hides for three days.

Brian: Then he sends you, Mia, out to speak to the media for him?

John: That’s my job, Brian laughter in the background.

John: What’s that?

Brian: Just the crew.

John: Why are they laughing? Are they laughing at me?

Brian: I really wouldn’t know, Mia.

John: I represent the Prime Minister.

Brian: Yes, I know you do, Mia, and you do it so well, too. Thanks for joining us tonight.

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Rupe’s Tantrum: NSW Edition

In my last piece, I looked at how Scott Morrison appeared to have lost the support of the man who truly runs Australia. There we looked at the column published under the name of Morrison’s dog, which left the Prime Minister beaten and bloody in an alley somewhere. This time, I want to look at NSW, again using the Errorgraph as the example. Similar to last time, I do not have the link to the article, but someone in my household buys this rag and so I have photos of the appropriate pages.

The Takedown, Part One: Joke Headline

This is hardly new for the Errorgraph: puns are common in their headlines. But this one takes advantage of quite possibly the worst name for a Health Minister: Brad Hazzard. Seriously, did no one think this through? Regardless of that, the front-page headline reads

HEALTH HAZZARD

YOU’RE OUT OF ORDER

Ok, that was my line. Referring to the unfortunately named Health Minister as Health Hazzard is supposed to come from satirists and critics. Not some public tantrum from Australia’s uncrowned king because incompetence makes his preferred political brand look bad.

The rest of the front page deals with quite a lot of truth for this rag. It says, in part

Epic advice fail let limo drive us to disaster.

Now Health Minister says the rules are just a ‘guide’

Legal Eagle slams lax language, calls for reform

Jesus: so much truth, and against an LNP minister. All of that is true: the advice was lax and the language left much to be desired (it used the word ‘near’ for Pete’s sake). These were little summaries off to the left of the front page. The beginnings of the article are interesting as well. A former leader of the DPP commented that the orders were unenforceable due to their imprecision. Minister Hazzard, according to the article, now says the rules are ‘given as a guide’. The placement of these two sentences next to each other implies a causal link that I am not sure is there, but I digress. If the two are linked, it is quite the copout from the Minister.

The Takedown, Part Two: The DPP for the People

The aforementioned former DPP leader had this to say about the health orders, specifically around wearing masks

[A rule requiring mas-wearing] “near” a shop or cafe is “too imprecise for a regulation that imposes criminal responsibility on any citizen”

Amen. How can the word ‘near’, which has not, to my knowledge, been defined, serve as the basis for a fine of $1000? This is Keystone Cops stuff right here. The Errorgraph then restates Hazzard’s claim that the rules are merely ‘a guide’. The Errograph did some actual journalism (shocking, I know) by asking about enforceability, and Health Hazzard accused them of looking for ‘loopholes’ in the orders. It is rare that I defend the Errorgraph, but when the orders have holes that you can drive a 747 through, the question should be asked. Also, talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Mr. Hazzard, fighting back against Telegraph personnel? Taking your life in your hands, much, Sir?

The former DPP official then had this to say, effectively driving the nail in

[Listing] “outdoor recreation” as a reasonable excuse to leave the home also creates confusion in the community. For some people, simply sunbathing may be their idea of outdoor recreation

Right. These orders have lacked precision from the start, seemingly because the Premier is unwilling to do what Mr. Andrews in Victoria did and enforce a ‘hard lockdown’. The exact reason for this is not clear, but I suspect it has something to do with LNP donors.

Calling for Hazzard’s Head: The Editorial

In a scathing editorial buried some 16 pages in, the Errorgraph Editor outlines some of Mr. Hazzard’s greatest hits, including this gem

Health orders are given as a guide to help the community get through what is a very difficult time. Some of them are precise and some of them are not

Yes, apparently he really said that. But the point of the editorial comes two sentences hence when the editor writes

There’s a chance Hazzard may retire at the next election. The Premier would be wise to accelerate this process

There it is, right there. An open call for the Premier to sack Mr. Hazzard. Since the election is taking place in 2023, that is surely what it means. The Minister has lost his master’s favour, and all that is left is for him to leave, with encouragement if necessary. But we live in a democracy remember. Before anyone suggests that this is merely an editorial, nothing gets printed in that rag without approval.

What is Going on Here? Analysis

For a publication that so often engages in blatant LNP propaganda, something is wrong here. As the title of this piece suggests, I would speculate that this article is the NSW version of the First Dog column. What is different here is the lack of anonymity. This was out and proud in the paper (including the front page) rather than buried. Rupert Murdoch is once again defending the Liberal Party as a brand, and some actual journalism also happened. This proves once again that objective, critical coverage of the LNP is possible, but that this partisan pandering propagandist chooses not to do it. Another point of note is the fact that this directs attention away from the rampant corruption within the NSW COALition. But credit where it is due: a broken clock is right twice a day and this piece, in rare form for this rag, is accurate in both its criticism of the health orders generally, and of Mr. Hazzard specifically. Rupe is still defending the Liberal Party as a brand, but it did result in some actual journalism.

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Our future is being destroyed

And – more importantly – so is the future of our descendants.

The Coalition government is deaf to the pleas of those who understand the science, and who are asking for realistic action to reduce the risks associated with acknowledged global warming.

IMHO, anyone who votes the coalition government back into power is accepting responsibility for deaths and disasters affecting current and future life on earth.

Have the giants of the fossil fuel industries offered him a reward he feels he cannot refuse, or is he just both stubborn and stupid?

A quick examination of his past – and current – career is not inspiring.

He clearly lacks even a modest level of competence at planning and his highest priority is to avoid taking any actions which might cause his political allies to consider ousting him.

Every day there are new reports of global, climate-change linked, disasters.

He might be the Prime Minister of Australia, but Australia is only a small part of a world where all other developed nations are frantically trying to reduce their carbon emissions by moving away from fossil fuels.

Is our PM’s ego so overpowering that – like the Emperor who believed he was wearing magnificent robes when he was really naked – he does not realise how stupid he seems to those with far greater scientific knowledge than he possesses?

How can we accept his policies when every other developed nation is frantically trying to act to reduce the damage of climate change – and consequent global warming?

The only question that can be validly put is – have we already left it too late?

We do, fortunately, have State and Territory leaders who mainly understand the need for action – hence our progress in developing sources of renewable energy.

But more needs to be done, and faster, and the State/Territory actions need to be also those of the federation.

We need an EV industry.

We need to be building batteries.

We need to be prepared for more climate-change linked disasters – as well as for more pandemics!

We need a government which is not stupid and self-satisfied, but which expands CSIRO and stops being so smug and self-confident, by realising that we should be relying on expert knowledge to a far greater extent.

Clearly, our population is far from being well enough educated to recognise that our government is not using expert advice to our advantage.

Smart politics is not the answer to a world-threatening disaster!

WAKE UP!!!

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A four phase, fur-lined, gold-plated, double-barrelled, ocean-going, right royal, shit-show.

Buddy, our PM’s photogenic pet black Schnoodle, gets his own column in our yellow press; The Daily Telegraph. Bet you never had Schnoodle on your ScoMo winter bingo card. Schnoodle could become a transitive verb, given the recent dip in approval ratings for Morrison in three major polls; Guardian Essential, Nine’s Resolve Monitor and NewsPoll.

Trust that mongrel, Morrison, to schnoodle up to us after failing to deliver on any vaccination promise, people could say. But how good, how quick are his new promises? If stringing a country along were an Olympic event, (and Covid’s entrance in this year’s $20bn Tokyo Olympics may cause its committee chief to pull the pin). Morrison would be sensational; a world champion, instead of making Australia a pariah over its lame “zero by 2050, preferably, BS. And now we’re a laughing stock. The BBC, CNN and NYT are asking how Australia could botch its pandemic response so comprehensively.

Now Scotty’s let everyone in Australia down. Three states are in lockdown because he couldn’t get his vax act together. Five people have died in NSW. ICUs are filling up with people who need intubation just to breathe. Your heart goes out to the family of the mother in her fifties who is found dead in her home, Saeeda Akobi Jjou Stu, 57.

Her twin sons Roni and Ramsin Shawka, 27, are charged by police for allegedly working while infectious with coronavirus. They say a language barrier is to blame. They didn’t fully understand how the lockdown applied to them. NSW Health authorities claim the deceased woman was offered “alternate” meaning alternative care. Vaccination would have helped. The Health Minister and his PM are full of lame excuses as to why vaccine supply is too little and too late.

Or silence. Other countries could secure a billion does, Chris Bowen claims. Kevin Rudd has a virtual meeting with the Pfizer CEO and Chairman Albert Bourla to ask if a million doses can be brought forward. Bourla is insulted by Morrison’s attempt to bargain through a junior bureaucrat. Rudd says our PM has not bothered to pick up the phone to Bourla.

Morrison certainly knows how to use his ScoMobile. He makes fifty-five calls to thirty world leaders to get Mathias Cormann a post as top dog of the OECD, in a job-seeking junket that cost us $11,000 per day, but he can’t place a single call with the Pfizer Czar? Even that genocidal crook, Packer’s pal, Bibi Netanyahu, could make nice with Pfizer.

“Netanyahu was obsessive, calling me dozens of times, even at 3 AM!” Dr Bourla laughs. But what seals the deal is that Israel boasts one of the most advanced health services in the world – every Israeli, Jew or Arab, young or old, is enrolled in a public health service. Highly organized, it could immediately begin to inject millions with the vaccine very quickly.

Israel puts us to shame. Morrison goes fully Bodmin to gate-crash a G7 in Cornwall, but does he button-hole a single leader who could help us? No he skives off on a pub crawl and he just must look up a felon in his family tree.

Current opinion polls are a slap down; rebuking the federal government and its leader for stuffing up. You had only two jobs to do. Vaccination and quarantine. Albo likes to remind him. You did neither. Punters blame the federal government for the mess we’re in with Delta. No-one buys the bullshit of a brand-new, four phase plan. It’s just the old five phase plan with bit of pruning, although to hear Morrison spin you would expect at least a bit of topiary.

In the eternal sunshine of Scotty’s spotless mind, he has already won. Of course. Not only will Buddy turn all this around like a border collie with wayward mob of merinos, Dr Doolittle will skip away unscathed. But others beg to differ.

“… a drover’s dog could lead the Labor Party to victory the way the country is and the way the opinion polls are.”

Bill Hayden was miffed in 1983 to be stiffed by the silver bodgie; rolled for the leadership by Robert James Lee Hawke, (1929-2019). But Bill could be right on the money again. There’s talk of Albo needing a bit more of a combover, or a makeover or a total replacement but such misgivings may be redundant. In Australian politics, oppositions don’t win elections; governments lose them and Morrison is shaping spectacularly as a loser; a reverse Steve Bradbury.

This week brings news of another huge SNAFU. Instead of discovering how to prevent and treat COVID-19, the Morrison government frittered its research investment on the now-discredited hydroxychloroquine treatment, according to the Medical Journal of Australia. Craig Kelly is out but Clive Palmer must have friends in high places. Or a big war chest.

With over half the nation’s population now locked-down, uptight or out of sight in the Morrison Shit-Show™ as Bill Shorten calls the federal government’s delta debacle; its failure to deliver on any of its vaccination promises is telling. No-one trusts its offers of support: you get no money if you’re already on a pension.

But you do get the compassionate Anne Ruston looking after you with her industrial-strength tough love – or is it withering contempt? Coercive control?

Who can forget her slur on those out of work, that raising Newstart would be a gift to drug dealers?

While a yellow press uses lurid features and sensationalised reports in newspapers, along with dog stories and beat ups featuring druggie dole-bludgers, to entice readers and boost circulation, The Terrograph or Smellograph as it is also known, is also, like Sky and The Australian, larding Murdoch’s sewer with a fatberg of Liberal propaganda.

Where does Murdoch begin and Morrison end? They are joined at the hip-pocket.

In Morrison’s case, more ever, The Daily Telegraph helped a hugely unpopular candidate but a useful idiot cheat the system. Himself.

The Tele helped create Morrison, MP. News Corp’s notorious, dog-eat-dog Tory dung-heap-raking, dirt sheet gave Morrison a way to hack into post-truth federal politics. He’s always keen to think outside the box. The ballot box.

In four articles in July 2007, “The Tele” defames Lebanese Christian Michael Towke; causing NSW Libs to dump ScoMo’s democratically pre-selected rival candidate for blue ribbon Cook. Towke is pilloried as some type of imposter; a serial liar. Accusing another of your own behaviour is a classic gas lighter’s tactic. Towke wins a defamation case which News Limited settles out of court. But irreparable harm is done to Towke and his family. The stress puts his mother into hospital.

Faking a family pet’s perspective is another nifty initiative from the same creative whiz behind the fifty-five million dollar fiasco of the 2014 Cambodian Solution, which resettles two refugees -another Morrison Shit-Show™ stunt, light years ahead of its time. And how good are budgie smugglers? Morrison’s unique genius in marketing NSW Liberal Peter Debnam in his swimmers helped him lose the 2007 NSW Liberal election Shit-Show™. Labor had a field day.

“The member for Vaucluse barely ventured outside his harbourside comfort zone. But when he did, it was for staged stunts in his Speedos. That’s not listening to the community, it’s offending common decency,” then NSW Transport and Police Minister, who later become Labor Deputy-Premier, John Watkins, calls out ScoMo’s modus operandi.

Robodebt is another Morrison brainwave, hatched in his thirteen months’ stint as Minister for Social Services, a brief role which, nevertheless, created interminable suffering for victims. Apart from those who took their own lives.

At least 2,000 vulnerable citizens who had received a Robodebt notice between July 2016 and October 2018, died during that period, although with no official coroner’s report, it is not known how many were driven to suicide.

Robodebt went beyond offending common decency and into court where the government wasted $1.2 billion settling a case it should never have brought. The total comprised refunds of $721 million to 373,000 people, $112 million in compensation and $398 million in cancelled debts.

Given the PM’s pathological obsession with secrecy, no-one will ever know just how many similar triumphs he or his office are behind. Or why. There’s the baffling disappearance of Brittany Higgins’ alleged rapist who once had access to the entire ministerial wing at Parliament House and who could knock up security in the small hours. If he were a Labor staffer, there’d be such a brouhaha and a hullaballoo from the Murdoch media you’d never hear the end of it.

This week comes news of an optional online learning module of two hours for staffers and one hour for MPs. Brilliant. Fix up all that disrespecting. Of females. The women who marched on parliament have been studiously insulted. Mocked. Abused.

Sends a clear message to all serial sex pests. The boys’ club rules, OK?. But there are signs of waning support for the PM and his government among women. Finger On the Button, Dutton keen to keep himself relevant as his PM crashes and burns, beats up two Chinese spy ships lurking in international waters off Queensland to watch our navy’s sailors play war games with America’s.

Settle down, Dutto. Chinese ships visited when the biennial games started in 2017 and again in 2019. Let’s not pretend it’s up there with malicious cyber warfare, although it’s touching to see how we come running, panting, when our US masters need token support from their imperialist running dog lackeys as we were in Mao’s era. Bound to help our merchants solve China’s current Aussie export embargo.

If spying’s old hat, it also seems the hard way to garner Oz-defence secrets. All it takes to get into the defence minister’s office is a Liberal junior staffer or two with a pass, even at absurdly early hours of the morning. You don’t even have to be sober. Any security guard who challenges this system and speaks on ABC will be sacked.

If a Yellow Peril 2.0, doesn’t put the wind up you, a blue Katie Hopkins™ pops up on the starboard bow just when the PM and his open-all- hours poster girl, Gladys Berejiklian, need another Shit-Show™ distraction. Hopkins’ claims to fame include being caught en flagrante delicto frolicking naked in a field with Mark Cross, a former married colleague, but her racist bigotry and attacks on refugees make her a serious threat to the Coalition’s One Nation supporters.

“Get over yourself,” Katie tells a UK journo. I’ve stolen both my husbands. There’s a tip right there, Kerry and Peter, for Farmer Wants a Wife.

Billed as a “far-right provocateur” and a “reality TV personality”, both iron-clad guarantees of security – if not integrity – in our state-sponsored dog whistling racist political culture, Hopkins is astonished to be given the bum’s rush after she flouts quarantine rules by refusing to wear a mask or anything else in her luxurious quarantine hotel, a grave risk to our multi-skilled AFP wallopers on room service calls. She hopes to “frighten the shit out of them” by answering the door naked, she boasts.

Hopkins’ deportation mirrors the overkill of Morrison’s slathering attack on Christine Holgate, over the Cartier watches she gave a few workers as bonuses. We all know, now, that Holgate was not on board with his plan to privatise Australia’s Post. Had to go. By bullying a woman, from the floor of the House, protected by parliamentary privilege, Morrison hopes to pose as an authority figure who just happens to go MIA whenever there’s set of bad opinion poll results, or a Covid or a bushfire crisis.

Barking Barnaby Joyce, a changed man, he tells us, also gets a chance to butch up and put the boot in on Insiders. If he’s going to be paid a Deputy Prime Minister’s salary, he might at least pretend to take the high moral ground with Ms Hopkins over her breach of quarantine etiquette, even if he is upstaged by his mate Kerry Stokes’ outfit Channel 7 whose business end terminates Katie’s Celebrity Big Brother contract, given the threat that advertisers might boycott his Olympics broadcasts. If there is an Olympics.

Behind his Po-face, however, WA’s bantam rooster and Ben Roberts Smith godfather, billionaire mining, construction and media showman Stokes is laughing all the way to the bank. We’re all in this together, as Morrison says. To all his A-lister associates and toadies. In Western Sydney where the workers live, it’s a different story.

NSW police are demanding ID on the street or wherever they knock you up. Some even helpfully rummage through your Westie shopping bags, a welfare call, to help poor working class consumers determine which of their purchases are essential.

Invasive? Discriminatory? Legal? All of the above. It’s another top idea made flesh under emergency super powers the Coalition gives itself, in the interests of public health. States rush to follow suit. Some more quickly than others.

But help is on its way. The Indue cashless debit card for all welfare beneficiaries including age pensioners will quickly sort out the vexed issue of taking the discretion out of discretionary expenditure.

Cunning stunt of the week, however, goes to the Shit-Show™ that is the federal government in secret squirrel mode for its refusal to release details of fixer Phil (The Ferret) Gaetjens’ secret enquiry into Bridget McKenzie’s role in the Morrison scandal known as the Sports Rorts Affair.

Sports rorts are minor compared to the $600 million car parks in the air scam.

Why buy one election when you can buy three? The budget-minded need fear no more. Michael West reports Jimmy Tee’s 2020 research which shows team Morrison has stashed away billions in the Community Development Grants Program to buy at least the next two elections. The official extension of the CDG “provides the government with yet another campaign war chest of $1 billion for the next election in 2022 and a yet-to-be-determined figure for the election after that in 2025 – a case of rolling rorts.”

Another day, another government corruption scandal. The plot thickens in senate estimates, reports The Monthly’s Rachel Withers; the same PMO staffer enabling the “sports rorts” corruption is confirmed “as the contact for the car parks fund, for which a list of the top 20 marginal seats was created to canvas for projects – not just for commuter car parks, but for the entire $4.8 billion Urban Congestion Fund.”

FOI requests are rebuffed because the Rorts Report was commissioned for Cabinet ministers’ eyes only, a bluff that rather defeats the object of FOI laws, but in our brave new world of government by disinformation, deception and double-speak, a world in which Barnaby can stand in a paddock in a corn pone hat and blow his bags about how he’s the Deputy Prime Minister and not just some random Nationals leader.

And how Hopkins better remember how he dealt with Johnny Depp.

But Morrison’s circus is not just a flea-bitten dog and (corn)pony show, there are clearly big ideas in the offing.

Next the chooks will be cackling on 2GB. Other pets are bound to follow. History lessons from The Morrison Goldfish, Shark. ScoMo’s QAnon bestie, Tim Stewart, will pen a personal reflection: So Your Family Dobs You in to the National Security Hotline? Stewie could also do the odd family friendly report on our war with satanic paedophiles. Be just the sort of re-set we all need given the Morrison’ government’s monumental ineptitude; a paralysis that is turning a coronavirus crisis into a catastrophe.

Not everyone’s taken in. The vaccination disaster is the worst national public policy failure in modern Australian history, rivalled only by Paul Keating’s early-1990s recession “we had to have,” ANU Historian, Professor Frank Bongiorno writes in Inside Story.

Malcolm Turnbull cuts to the chase on The Project. The inability of the federal govt to secure enough Pfizer vaccines for Oz is “an epic fail.” It is the biggest failure in public admin he can recollect.

“The vaccines were able to be got, because other countries got them. What we lacked was leadership.”

Morrison could never be accused of being a leader. Or much of a success, really. His career is filled with stunts that blow up in his face. “Crass and sickening” The Greens call his decision to rock up twenty minutes late to the Cambodian debacle – and then to break out the champagne. Toasting his Cambodian “dirty deal” with champagne would be one of the lowest points of his political trajectory if there weren’t so many rivals.

Keating observed that Peter Costello, Howard’s eternal bridesmaid, was, a low altitude flyer. Morrison claims to have heard the voice of God in a painting of an eagle. He’s a low-flyer, too. Eagles may soar but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.

As the PM’s career goes to the dogs, you are struck by a groundhog day vibe.

In a career spanning a series of election campaign failures, notes Bernard Keane, Morrison’s employment pattern is to leave or be shown the door before his contracts end. It’s a bit like serial monogamy. Coitus interruptus? Or chronic incompetence? .

Scotty’s NSW Liberal godfathers, John Howard and Bruce Baird helped Morrison become NSW Liberal Party Director and Toe-Cutter, 2000-2004. Next, “Where the Bloody Hell Are You?”, he’s Lara Bingle’s travel agent (2006). An even more hypomanic period follows where the quick change artist and protean, shape-shifter poses as a federal MP who claims to be Minister for Immigration and Border Protection and Treasurer. What we have here is chronic case of delusions of grandeur.

For some time now Morrison’s been insisting that he’s PM. Julia Banks vividly recalls Morrison telling her; “Julia. I. Am. The. Prime. Minister,” Paul Bongiorno, notes that he’s made himself King of Kirribilli with more than a hint of The Castle in his claims to legitimacy, abandoning The Lodge to those of less exalted status.

Now, as Delta exposes Morrison to be a dangerous sham, it’s time for the Bronte Bogan to mimic something more presidential. The affection of a literary pet should do it. The tradition dates to 1789 when George Washington brings Polly, to his administration. While George’s parrot’s commentary is unknown, during the period between his death in and internment, in 1845, the earthy Andrew Jackson’s Poll, another African Grey, turns the air blue with obscenities.

Is it grief? Or Old Hickory’s faithful, feathered, two-legged companion’s playback, payback, panegyric? All we know for sure is that the parrot has to be removed from the premises. Reverend William Menefee Norment, who presides at Jackson’s funeral, observes that the ex-presidential parrot is, “excited by the multitude and … lets loose perfect gusts of ‘cuss words.’” People are “horrified and awed at the bird’s lack of reverence.”

Buddy Morrison has a hard act to follow. A Schnoodle is not renowned for causing shock and awe. Yet everyone is cheered by a shaggy dog story, especially when times are rough if not downright impossible. Despite Glad’s Gold Standard Clayton’s lock-down of Botany Bay, the omphalos of Oz and spiritual shopping centre of our corporate oligarchy’s universe continues to put on a brave face. Seldom does it deign to wear a mask.

There’s business class muppet, Gladys Berejiklian’s mock-down fiasco, a spectacular leadership debacle and toxic by-product of the ongoing failure of a morally and intellectually bankrupt federal government to govern, let alone lead.

A NewsCorp photograph of Gladys and her new squeeze, hot shot defo lawyer, Arthur Moses, unmasked on a morning Macciato run doesn’t augur well for the Premier. Watch out for that bus. Nor does her mentor’s disappearance bode well for Glad. RoboScomo doesn’t give an Engadine Maccas whom he pushes under a bus if it saves his own hide.

And as for all those stricken with the deadly Delta variant of Sars-Covid 19 – and all those who worry about their friends, their neighbours; their family members’ safety, especially mothers bearing the bulk of the emotional labour of parenting – and even more in an era where women are forced into insecure underpaid part-time casual work.

“I”ve just learned not to care,” Morrison tells Annabel Crabb.

“And I really don’t that much.”

It shows. Increasingly, as a pandemic rages that could so easily have been brought under control just with vaccination and a dedicated quarantine system. A plan that’s not just four, vapid, flatulent phases of evasive rhetoric.

And a government with its heart in the right place from the start. A government fit to govern. One that honours its contract with the people. Not an endless series of announcements; a cynical shitshow™ of promises to be broken.

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Compassion – you’re kidding

By 2353NM

In October 2019, this website discussed the fate of the Murugappen family who were forcibly removed from their home in Biloela, Queensland by Border Force. At the time we questioned how someone who claims to have a fundamentalist Christian view of the Bible as the absolute truth (despite the ‘over 700 inconsistencies’ listed here) could justify his Government’s callous treatment of people while his Christian beliefs apparently direct him to do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Since then, the Murugappan family have been detained as the sole inmates at the Christmas Island Detention Centre – costing you and I as taxpayers an estimated $6million. The political need for proof that the Coalition Government is ‘tough’ on falsely claimed ‘queue jumpers’ or ‘illegal immigrants’ has, to borrow a phrase from former Treasurer Joe Hockey, turned the Murugappan family from lifters – as they had jobs, paid their taxes and were active in the Biloela community – to leaners that have soaked up literally millions of dollars with no hope of a return to the ‘investment’. And it’s not the family’s fault – the Morrison Coalition Government is entirely to blame.

We all know the outcome here. The younger daughter, 3 at the time, was airlifted to the Perth Children’s Hospital with her mother on 7 June after her parents had been advising Border Force’s contracted medical staff she was unwell. After a week of continual requests for medical assistance, young Tharnicaa was transferred to the Christmas Island Hospital where doctors unrelated to Border Force determined she had a blood infection, possibly septicaemia. As reported on the 9 News website, Tharnicaa’s father and sister were relocated to Perth a week later for the mental health of both of the sisters. The Morrison Coalition Government relented to public pressure and granted the family temporary approval to stay in Australia with Immigration Minister Alex Hawke claimingIt is the right decision, a compassionate decision.

What complete and utter rubbish. A compassionate decision would have been to leave the family in Biloela some years ago and let them get along with their lives. The Morrison Coalition Government’s hounding of this family have ensured that all members of the family have physical and mental health concerns that they will have to live with for a lifetime.

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

And while we’re speaking about ‘compassion’, let’s look at the Morrison Coalition Government’s mandating the ‘cashless welfare card’ for social security recipients in certain ‘trial’ areas around Australia. We also discussed the Morrison Government’s punitive social security system in October 2019, questioning the implied claims that those on welfare couldn’t manage their measly payments without ‘big brother’. While it is probably true that some who collect social security do act in a manner that the Pentecostal Christians in the government consider inappropriate, it’s also true to say that Australians didn’t elect any Government to be the sole determiner of individuals’ moral or ethical views. If this was the case, the Marriage Equality legislation would never have been voted on, let alone passed by Parliament.

The Saturday Paper recently highlighted another concerning aspect of the ‘cashless welfare card’ – the potential dangers of those subject to domestic violence or coercion having ‘big brother’ telling them what they can spend ‘their’ money on

Dr Karen Williams, a psychiatrist who specialises in treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and works with many women who have survived long-term abuse, says the cashless card, “mimics exactly what a financial abuser and coercive controller would do”.

Williams points out that women fleeing abuse are at high risk of poverty and homelessness, and that these things in themselves can be used as reasons to take a woman’s children. She says that the welfare system, far from supporting women to leave abusers, is “actively working to keep marginalised women in the relationship while gaslighting her by telling her she should leave.”

Morrison’s Coalition Government has promoted assistance to those who need to escape violent or abusive relationships. The assistance includes $1500 in cash, $3500 in goods and services and a $2000 no interest loan. Women who subsequently are deemed eligible for the single parent payment and live in the ‘wrong’ postcode are made to go onto the ‘cashless welfare card’ – which according to a number of sources is almost impossible to get off (even if you move away from the ‘trial’ areas). As observed in The Saturday Paper

There is a contradiction here. Australia is spending $1.1 billion to help women escape violent and abusive relationships, the country is moving towards legislating against coercive control. Yet if a woman lives in a cashless welfare trial site and manages to leave her partner, she can find the abuse replicated by the very government that claims to want to help her.

Considering these trials have been running for 14 years with little evidence that they achieve their original purpose – preventing welfare recipients spending their money on alcohol, drugs or gambling – it’s hard to see why so many vulnerable women are still being forced to use the cards.

Potentially the reason why vulnerable women are being forced to use the ‘cashless welfare card’ and the Murugappan family are still detained at the ‘pleasure’ of the Minister is the Coalition’s predilection for punitive punishment rather than working with people to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Making the assumption that those on various social security payments in certain areas of the country are all ‘up to no good’ despite the lack of hard evidence that should easily be apparent in a ‘trial’ that has lasted 14 years to date is criminal and has potentially cost the lives of some women who haven’t been able to escape violence financially. The hospitalisation of a 3-year-old girl with serious health issues despite the parents seeking assistance from contracted staff with claimed medical qualifications working for the government is a horrible indictment and stain on our national history. To claim that these measures are in place to stop tragic outcomes is duplicitous at best and certainly not evidenced in the reality.

Neither side of politics can honestly claim to be above blame here. Both the Coalition and the Labor Party have played their part in the increasingly inhumane immigration and welfare practices imposed in the name of ‘compassion’. Both side of politics have weaponised human lives. It needs to stop.

What do you think?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

For Facebook users, The Political Sword has a Facebook page:
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Barnaby Has Already Achieved Net Zero!

One thing I’ve noticed about Coalition governments is that they like to tell us that they have a plan. Ok, exactly what it is may not be self-evident. I guess that’s why they need to tell just that there is one even if it’s; a) commercial-in-confidence or; b) part of a booklet that us that doesn’t mention the details but has lots of photos of Coalition MPs or; c) being developed in greater detail to be released some time in the very near future… Yes, in the scheme of human history any time this century is in the near future.

So it was rather surprising to hear Barnaby Joyce on the ABC this morning tell us that he couldn’t commit to net zero until he’d had a chance to look at the plan and consider the whether saving the planet was worth the cost…

Ok, I’m going to have to digress and make a point that I’ve made many times before: WE ARE NOT SAVING THE PLANET WITH ACTION ON CLIMATE CHANGE!!

That might sound a bit controversial. I may even sound like I’ve gone back to my National Party roots when I say that the planet’s climate has changed many times in its history and that it’ll adapt. but hear me out. Of course, the planet will adapt. It’s humans that may not. We may become extinct and take all those things we regard as cute and cuddly with us, leaving just the cockroaches… which, in spite of what some may think, does not include Rupert Murdoch and his stenographers.

Yes, Barnaby wanted the Labor Party to release a plan for achieving net zero. He didn’t seem to realise that he’s been in government for the past eight years… perhaps that’s because he’s been a bit disoriented over the past few years owing to… can I say a range of factors without another Coalition MP getting all litigious?

Anyway, he did tell us where he was – Walcha Road – several times in the interview… perhaps it was code, perhaps it was a request for someone to come looking for him. Whatever, it certainly answers my charge about him being disoriented incorrect when it comes to geography. However, I was referring to that video he released where he demanded that the government get out of his life… Personally, I agree and think it would be awesome if the government had no connection to Joyce, however…

So Labor, it’s up to you. Barnaby has told us that they don’t have a plan and this is a problem for Scott Morrison – who we’re told wants to achieve net zero emissions at the same time as vaccinating the population. Both are to happen, “as soon as possible” which is a pretty ambitious plan for most of us, but it seems pretty pedestrian for a man like him who believes in miracles. Couldn’t we have at least one of them happening before it’s possible instead of waiting for the possible? Otherwise, where’s the miracle?

sigh<

Maybe I should just congratulate Barnaby for achieving net zero in politics and conclude that maybe the planet knows what its doing and when the cockroaches take over, it might be an improvement.

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Disability Pensions in Australia: Where entering into a Relationship can be a Poverty Sentence

It is generally quite difficult to obtain a Disability Support Pension (DSP) in Australia. There are job capacity and impairment tests; and many who are significantly impaired miss out. But there is another problem that has been neglected in most debates: Pensioners generally are assessed differently if they have a partner. The consequence of this is that there is a perverse incentive for pensioners not to enter into a relationship or marry. With the DSP there can be a loss of income of around $200 a fortnight as a consequence of entering a relationship or getting married. If the partner has a high income that is one thing, but many such couples could both be on low incomes or welfare. Also, even if a person’s partner has a higher income, there is a problem with reinforcing dependence: with inhibiting the independence of Disability and other Pensioners. When combined with other government measures: such as running a trial of the Indue Cashless Debit Card, or attempting to claw back money from the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it is clear we have a government which is trying to implement austerity aimed at the most vulnerable.

The bottom line is that these arrangements condemn hundreds of thousands of disabled Australians to probable isolation and loneliness; where they must fear the financial consequences of having relationships.

At the same time, Medicare is under attack. Labor MP in Bendigo, Victoria, Lisa Chesters has observed how recent cuts to Medicare will “radically alter the cost of hundreds of orthopaedic, cardiac and general surgery items.” As Chesters explained: “Patients now face the prospect of life-changing surgeries being cancelled at the last minute or being landed with huge bills they didn’t expect.” And yet these matters have received very little attention in the mainstream media.

We need a Labor Opposition which defends Medicare and the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS). But we also need a Labor opposition which goes beyond the strictly defensive; and comes up with innovative and ground-breaking measures to extend the social wage and welfare state; along with legislated wage increases for those on low incomes.

This would inevitably involve tax reform. Ideally Labor should be aiming to reform progressive tax to the tune of 5% of GDP over 10 years, or at least three terms of Federal Government. This would bring us closer to OECD average levels of tax and social expenditure. Rolling back unfair means testing of pensions – including Disability Pensions – would empower hundreds of thousands of women and men with greater independence; and if we are concerned about equity we need to reform tax in other areas for people with higher incomes. It would also empower those people to enter into relationships without fear of destitution. Eligibility tests should also be relaxed so those incapable of full time work are not threatened with exclusion.

The ‘LIFE’ (Living Incomes for Everyone) campaign is demanding a minimum $550 a week for all. This would mean a great deal for job-seekers living in poverty, especially if combined with other measures like investment in public housing. Effectively it would mean a guaranteed minimum income (GMI). Disability pensions specifically should increase further – by at least $150/fortnight in any case – rising to about $1100/fortnight.

No-one should be in the position of having to say they ‘cannot afford to enter into a relationship’. The NDIS, despite its faults, was a big step forward for disabled Australians. Instead of panicking over the cost we need to accept that providing services for these people meets what is perhaps the most defensible socialist principle: that each should contribute what they can, and receive what they need. This principle needs to become a society-wide ‘common sense’ so that they are accepted even by many Conservatives; as for instance occurred with the issue of Marriage Equality for those in the LGBTIQA communities. But ironically there is no real ‘marriage equality’ for all if some need fear being thrown into poverty should they enter a relationship.

Progressives need to agitate to make this a real issue in the upcoming Federal Election. The advocacy of Julia Gillard and Bill Shorten was crucial for the initial implementation of the NDIS. The NDIS is not perfect, but is a vast improvement on the vacuum that existed beforehand. Now we need additional policy champions within the ALP agitating to take the reform process further. The Labor Aged-Care and Welfare Movement (LAWM) has adopted this as one of its objectives. But we need more avowed Labor members to join our ALP Socialist Left Forum Facebook group; and to advocate for change. Much as has happened with Rainbow Labor, Emily’s List, Labor for Refugees, and LEAN (Labor Environmental Action Network). Currently LAWM exists at the level of Facebook; but over the long term we want to achieve much more. If you’re a Labor member and haven’t joined LAWM yet, please do so. And for Bill Shorten, Julia Gillard and others: Please take up this cause and make it an issue for the upcoming Federal Election.

This article was originally published on ALP Socialist Left Forum.

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Grabbed by The Column: Morrison Loses Murdoch’s Favour?

This time I want to discuss the seemingly ridiculous idea that Scott Morrison’s dog has a column in the Errograph. One may think that the obsequious propaganda (or stupidity) has reached new heights: the First Dog has a newspaper column. But all is not as it seems.

Dog Column, Part One: Lazy Scott?

The Daily Errorgraph is a well-known vehicle of COALition propaganda: the bias simply drips off the page. I do not have the link to the article this time but someone in my household buys this rag and I took a photo of the ‘piece’.

The first section of note is this little gem

Someone says they have a big important job running the country and then you are locked down with them and you realise just how much time they spend making cups of tea, playing sudoku and watching Cronulla Sharks highlights on YouTube

Did you catch it? Joke column or not, this is quite excoriating of the Prime Minister. He is not working, running zoom calls, or indeed doing anything to earn the more than $550,000 per year his job apparently warrants. Rather, he is watching his beloved sharkies on YouTube and doing puzzles. Hardworking man our Prime Minister is the clear message.

Dog Column, Part Two: Scotty from Marketing

The column then moves on to make a joke about Morrison’s perhaps overblown cheering for Ash Barty. As the piece puts it

So already he [Morrison] was tired the next morning when Jen suggested he go out and clean up the verandah instead of spending all that time on his phone updating his Twitter account and congratulating Ash [Barty]

It is easy to see this as a dig at Morrison using sport as a distraction from his various shortcomings. Whether it is cricket, the sharkies, or Ash Barty, the Prime Minister has often hidden behind sport. The idea seems to be that everyone can agree sport is awesome for some reason. Sorry Scumo, but I for one can mentally multitask you mental midget. Even the Errograph can see through his crap. Something has clearly changed.

Dog Column, Part Three: The Greatest Hits

The criticism of the Prime Minister continues with this slap to the face reference to Morrison and the bushfires. Referring to cleaning up the mess on the verandah, which the dog partially takes credit for, Morrison is quoted as snapping at Jen saying

I don’t hold a hose, Jen

Jesus christ. Trouble in paradise (and I do not mean in the Morrison marriage). That line could well serve as Morrison’s political epitaph. It portrays him as an out-of-touch elitist for whom mundane tasks are the work of lower-status people. For this to be printed in the Errorgraph of all places speaks volumes about the evident breakdown of the relationship between the Prime Minister and the man who truly runs Australia.

The column then proceeds to criticise Mr. Morrison with a clear dig at his temper with this line

Anyone would think he was tackling the press corps rather than a request from the cheese and kisses

That references not only Mr. Morrison’s temper but his adversarial (to say the least) relationship with members of the press who dare to criticise him. This column has not been subtle so far, but it saves the best for last.

Dog Column, Part Four: A Real Jab

The hits just keep on coming. The final topic is vaccinations, and it packs a punch. After Jen says that Morrison should get the dog vaccinated, the hound says

As a dog, I am a strict anti-vaxxer myself so I was heartened to hear Scott arguing that with the tight border controls around Sydney’s lower north shore there was no rush to get me vaccinated. Apparently he felt happy leaving me needle-free until after the election.

Somewhat speaks for itself, no? No rush to get him vaccinated? This fuels speculation that there will be a sudden influx of vaccines prior to the calling of an election. This is not subtle and really leaves the Prime Minister hanging.

Continuing, Jen says

“You were supposed to get this [dog shots] sorted last year, Scott,” Jen said furiously. “You only had one job and you messed it up”

That was a two-by-four to the face. The Errorgraph is not messing around here. This is also the first true thing this rag has printed in some time if we ignore the date on the front page and the price of the paper. Before digging a little deeper into what I think is going on here, the last few lines are worthy of note

“Come on Buddy, time for a run on the lawn” said Scott, grabbing the ball and heading out through the verandah doors. He loves throwing the ball for me and then trying to get it first.

“Remember Buddy” he said, tossing the ball. “It’s not a race”

Stop it! He’s already dead. Not a race? There are no words here. Of all the things this column shows, the most brazen is that Murdoch could criticise Scott Morrison (accurately we should note – all of this is true) but that he chooses not to.

Analysis

There is perhaps more truth in the phrase ‘COALition propaganda rag’ than I first thought. As much praise as this and other Murdoch rags have heaped on Morrison, he himself is not the target. Murdoch is not defending Morrison as an individual, but rather the Liberal Party as a brand.

So long as Morrison served the agenda of keeping the Liberal Party in power, he was defended and provided with propaganda. Now that his sheer incompetence and other foibles threaten the Party’s grip on power, Rupe has seemingly turned on Morrison. It says much about the dishonesty of the Australian Montgomery Burns that the criticism was published anonymously.

‘Scomo’s Miracle’ was the Errograph front-page headline after the 2019 election. Rupe’s decision to turn on Morrison now, after the legion of scandals that has plagued him for much of his term, does suggest that an election is forthcoming. Given that the two likely alternatives (Spud – Dutton and Friesenburger – Frydenburg) are each about as popular as hundreds and thousands in a braille book, Rupe’s next move should be interesting.

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