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Category Archives: News and Politics

Now is the time, Mr Morrison.

“In this bucket is my house”, Aaron Crowe tells other unquiet Australians rallying in Macquarie St, Sydney, Tuesday. He lifts an organic compost bin, a repurposed twenty-gallon steel red drum with hand-made wooden lid, a homely relic of former peaceful, rural domesticity, now, destroyed forever, aloft.

The 38 year-old-father tips a few charred, remnants of the two-bedroom home he once built, himself, on to the footpath outside NSW’s Parliament. Crowe and his wife, Fiona Lee, journey 323 kilometres, from Warrawillah, near Bobin, SW of Port Macquarie, to call MPs to account; confront them with the truth.

A powerful, personal, rebuke to the spin-doctors and MSM who drown real voices out of public discourse

Crowe’s gesture is eloquent testimony to a terrifying new bushfire season and a call to authorities, especially NSW state politicians in charge of funds and resources that it’s time to get real about climate science. Communicating climate science through our commercial media with its spectacularisation at the expense of underlying issues, its government media drops and its climate denialism is now impossible.

The challenge of communication has been taken up by independent media, social media, conferences, public meetings and personal protests. No wonder our anti-activist PM has these in his sights.

Crowe testifies to how global warming has bred extreme bushfires against which there is no defence.

“We had ample time to prepare and they’re talking about hopes and dreams, thoughts and prayers, miracles and heroes – it’s not realistic. This is not about unicorns and fairies, this is about people’s lives, it’s only going to get worse.”  Yet Aaron Crowe’s plea is waived aside by his premier and his PM.

Now is not the time to talk about climate change chorus NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and PM Morrison, Tuesday. Bushfire survivor, Badja Sparks contextualises this for The Guardian Australia.

“Today is not the day to talk about climate change.” No, yesterday was, or the day before, or the month before, or the year before. But it didn’t get a mention.

Now we have the reality, and the mention it gets is: “Don’t talk about it now.”

So the politicians (and the media) turn the talk to hazard reduction burns, or the lack of them, as something else to blame on the “inner-city raving lunatics”.

“We had a bushfire two months ago that burned most of our property. It didn’t matter. It burned again.”  Badja attests to a terrifying new type of fire that defies traditional means of control. A crown fire roaring in from the west on a hot afternoon with an 80km/h wind – it wasn’t on the ground. It was a firestorm in the air – raining fire. There was no fuel on the ground; it was already burned.

“Now is not the time” is a tactic the US National Rifle Association (NRA) uses to silence of debate.

NRA “spokespersons” or “public faces” such as Dana Loesch are quick to claim  “now is not the time to talk gun control” after so many of the 36,000 plus annual fatal shootings that make USA’s rate of death by firearm the highest in the developed world. Clearly, not talking works – for the gun lobby.

And for the government. Coalition shill, Chris Kenny in The Australian declares, “Climate alarmists are brazen opportunists preying on misery.”  Pushing the Morrison government’s political barrow he writes,

“Climate alarmists are using tragic deaths and community pain to push a political barrow. Aided by journalists and others who should know better, they are trying to turn a threat endured on this continent for millennia into a manifestation of their contemporary crusade.” 

In “more of the same just more of the same” false equivalence, Kenny’s failure to research any of the characteristics that make the current fires unique does his readers a dangerous disservice.

So, too, does what was once the party of the bush, The Nationals. Now the burnt out people of the bush feel increasingly betrayed by National Party MPs. All MPs. Crikey’s Guy Rundle argues that the Nationals have made themselves the enemy of rural Australia’s survival. Catastrophic fires occur so often now that they are “beginning to wear down the resistant scepticism of large areas of rural Australia”.

When country folk could once pride themselves if not define themselves on the thought that city folk didn’t know what they were talking about, the reality of drought and bushfire has caused a re-think.

Increasingly extreme weather; the lived experience of rural voters tests their dogged loyalty to The National Party and its blind faith in climate science denial. It’s at odds with their own everyday reality.

Undermined is the nub of rural identity which values bush experience and concrete realities over abstract science. Now that rural National voters’ bushfire experience is matching scientists’ warnings, Rundle perceives a weakening of “folk denialism”; traces an awakening of respect for climate science.

It’s complex. Adding to voters’ alienation is the Nationals’ support for mining over farmers. On Channel 10’s The Project, Waleed Ali stumps Michael McCormack in March when he challenges the deputy PM,

“Could you name a single, big policy area where the Nats have sided with the interests of farmers over the interest of miners when they come into conflict?”

Within the network of influence and lobbying which mining holds over the Coalition, Rundle traces a moment when the Nationals as an organisation lost interest in representing their agrarian community.

“Former party leader Anderson became chairman of Eastern Star Gas. His successor in the Nationals, Mark Vaile, now sits on the board at Whitehaven Coal, against which farmers in the Liverpool Plains have staged hundreds of days of blockades. Party scion Larry Anthony was a lobbyist for the Shenhua Watermark mine.”

John Anderson pops up like the White Rabbit on ABC’s The Drum last Friday to falsely claim that “the scientists cannot directly link extreme weather events with climate change”. But they can. And do. And our leaders – must heed them. The Australia Institute economist, Richard Dennis sums up,

Climate change makes bushfires worse. Even if we catch an arsonist who lights a fire, the fact is the fires they light will burn further and faster than they would have if the world had burned less coal, and the temperature was lower than we have made it.

We can manage fuel loads; cut firebreaks, but a fire lit by an arsonist will spread further today. Embers from hotter fires, race across drier ground; spark new fires further from the fire front than ever before.

First the women, younger folk and community leaders are sceptical of the Nationals’ bush mythology. Now, Rundle believes Nationals’ voters’ crisis of faith may harden into one final act of resistance before it cracks irrevocably. Attacking The Greens is one last populist move to regain a show of leadership.

On Monday’s RN Breakfast, McCormack is stung by Greens MP Adam Bandt’s claim that Morrison’s coal-promotion makes him complicit in the suffering of those currently being burnt out by extreme bushfires.

What people need now, the Deputy PM says, is real practical assistance, not “the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital-city greenies”.

To Mid-Coast Councillor, Claire Pontin, McCormack is “just saying silly things”. He and Joyce may have missed this pivotal change in their own constituencies, notes The Saturday Paper’s Paul Bongiorno drily.

The best real, practical assistance McCormack could offer would be to embrace the science. Then he might ask NSW’s premier to reinstate the tens of millions the NSW has cut from state fire services.

Denial, downplaying and disinformation costs lives – especially the myth of false equivalence which holds that both sides are too blame for inaction on climate change, a term which is itself spin-doctored because it’s a neutral substitute for global warming. In fact, it’s pretty much all the Coalition’s own work.

And much of that work was achieved by one man. Tony Abbott seized a personal political chance in 2009, writes The Monthly Today’s Paddy Manning, “sold the truth down the river” and in 2014, pre-figured Trump in becoming world’s first political leader to repeal a carbon price. Abbott then agitated against the NEG, creating waves of instability that helped Morrison topple Turnbull. Not only did Abbott put the nation back at least a decade, his legacy continues in Morrison’s lack of energy policy.

To adapt Katharine Murphy’s phrase, no wonder Morrison’s government doesn’t want anyone to talk about climate science, its own record is one of unmitigated shame and ignominious failure.

Yet McCormack insists we shouldn’t be talking about climate change. “Australia’s always burned”, he says. Nothing to see here. Just bushfires that come earlier, stay longer, burn hotter, higher and spread faster; evolving into a threat, unlike anything we’ve had to deal with before.

The deputy PM follows up with NRA tactic stage two: shift the blame. If only greenies weren’t locking up our state forests for ecotourism, we could get in and cut the fuel load. Yet only nine per cent of NSW is “locked”. Only Queensland is lower with a shameful eight per cent.

Greenies, moreover, have no issue with hazard reduction. It’s climate change itself which increasingly restricts burning off. As the fire season extends, south-east Australia dries out. Opportunities to use controllable, low-intensity fire to burn off the litter become fewer.

Above all, not all forest types are amenable to hazard reduction.  Wet sclerophyll and rainforest, for example, are not fire-adapted and most of the time are too moist to ignite. When they are dry enough to burn, it is too dangerous to burn them explains Brendan Mackey, director of the Climate Change Response Program at Griffith University.

This is what the ecological and climate emergency looks like,” says Fiona Lee.  It’s a young couple’s way of calling out the Morrison government for recently voting down an Opposition move to declare a state of climate emergency. Dismissing Labor’s bill as “symbolic” and impractical, Energy Minister, Angus Taylor says its “emotive language” ignores everyday Australians’ practical needs. He would know.

Taylor belongs to a government that wilfully ignores practical needs. 23 former emergency service chiefs wrote to Scott Morrison, in April, seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the serious threats facing communities this fire season due to climate change. In September, they wrote again. All were rebuffed while federal MPs rubbish any attempt to have a national state of climate emergency declared.

A hyper-partisan, Morrison government irretrievably stuck in campaign mode politicises the issue:

Labor is making a huge song and dance about declaring a climate emergency, but refuses to commit to a single policy in this area from the last election,” jeers Taylor.

Meanwhile, a ferocious new fire burns across the land, defying all traditional forms of management and causing the NSW government to declare a state of emergency, Monday. 500 homes are destroyed in one week. The fires are unprecedented in length, extent and intensity.

62 fires are burning across NSW, 56 of which have not been contained, ahead of a heatwave predicted for Tuesday which could see temperatures reach the mid-40s.

A “once in a century fire” is burning for the third time in ten years, a frequency which threatens even the false complacency nurtured by National Party retail politicians, such as Barnaby Joyce whose mantra is that bushfires and drought are just a feature of life in the bush, or that someone or something else is to blame. This week it’s The Greens again and or the sun’s magnetic field and or bad hazard reduction.

As it destroys life, property and virgin natural bushland, however, the terrible new fire threatens one of the bastions of climate change denialism itself, The National Party of the bush which is also under siege from drought and double-digit unemployment is losing credibility as its constituents experience first- hand the conditions climate scientists predicted. Will it also be the death of the National Party? If so, reflects Crikey’s Guy Rundle it will be the only death that is deserved.

“The pressure is now on Scott Morrison to resolve the fierce resistance in his own government’s ranks and respond with policies that persuade voters – thousands of them victims of this week’s inferno – that the federal Liberals and Nationals get it.” Paul Bongiorno notes.

Eastern NSW is ablaze. Bush fires, bigger and more ferocious than any Australia’s experienced before, include crown fire, an eighty kilometre an hour aerial firestorm – there’s no fuel left on the ground – raze a million hectares; cut a swathe of destruction already equal to that of the last three fire seasons combined. Areas burn at an intensity and in a season never seen before, says ecologist, Mark Graham.

A million hectares burn in NSW alone. Queensland and other states face the biggest fire front in Australia’s history. Catastrophic conditions are forecast for Sunday in four WA regions: east Pilbara coast, west Pilbara coast, east Pilbara inland and Ashburton Inland.

Catastrophic fire conditions is a recent forecast category which arose from the inquest into Victoria’s 2009 Black Saturday Fires in which 173 people died.

“It’s a treacherous combination of gusty winds, high temperatures, low humidity and extreme dryness. Any fire that ignites will quickly reach intensities and move at speeds that place properties and lives in imminent danger,” writes Sarah Perkins-Kirkpatrick, ARC Future Fellow in the Climate Change Research Centre at the University of NSW. Her definition could be a summary of global warming’s role.

So far in NSW, six people have died, nearly 500 homes have been destroyed, reports the Rural Fire Service (RFS).  That’s more than double the previous most severe bushfire season in 2013-14, when 248 homes were lost. More than 1,650,000 hectares have been burnt across the state — more land than during the past three bushfire seasons combined. And the fires could rage for weeks.

“It is likely that the fire threat in Northern NSW and South East Queensland will continue for weeks unless significant rainfall occurs assisting fire fighters to extinguish blazes,” says Andrew Gissing emergency management expert with the Bushfire and Natural Hazards Cooperative Research Centre.

Up in smoke goes any hope that our nation’s leaders may provide for or protect us. Instead, state and federal MPs rush to hide their blame; circling their wagons to defend their own shameful record of wilful neglect, climate reality denial and how their loyalty to big donors in mining eclipses any civic duty.

Avoidance is the Morrison government’s default position on issues which might involve taking responsibility; facing the fact that anthropogenic climate change is creating droughts, floods and fires.

More alarming is the censorship attempted by the NSW government when it tells its public servants attending a conference on adapting to climate change not to make any link between climate and fire.

It’s all too much for Morrison who vanishes Tuesday afternoon only to bob up Friday in praise of model corporate citizen QANTAS’ 99th birthday and to greet George Brandis returning on the Dreamliner which makes an historic nineteen hour nineteen minute non-stop flight London to Sydney. That’s at least 300,000 litres of fuel return.

The IPCC estimates that aviation is responsible for around 3.5 percent of anthropogenic climate change, a figure which includes both CO2 and non-CO2 induced effects. Luckily MPs have scapegoats.

Joyce adds to the myth that the latest bushfires are caused by The Greens’ curbing back-burning and fire-hazard reduction despite the fact that climate change has made back-burning too dangerous.

Ever the conservationist, Barnaby recycles the voice of disinformation, populist shock-jock and LNP parrot Alan Jones who blames the fires on The Greens, falsely claiming they had prevented controlled burns. In fact, it’s global warming itself which is preventing controlled burning. Such measures are impossible due to the unique nature of the drought and the very dry conditions.

“Honestly, not today” calls NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian as a reporter, who had previously been speaking to couple asks Scott Morrison about climate change. ABC News interrupts Morrison’s response.

“In this bucket is my house,” Crowe tells the crowd. “When’s the time to talk about climate change then, if I’m standing in the wreckage of my own house?”

“The time is definitely right for talking about climate change – for me, there has never been a better time to talk about climate change,” his wife tells the crowd outside.

Morrison’s absence for most of last week is an indictment of his failure to lead – as are the comments of his ministers, McCormack and Taylor. What is urgently needed is an embargo on the spin-doctors and a willingness to accept the facts; confront the reality that global warming means a terrible new type of bushfire that demands all of our resources not more of the Federal Coalition’s division and scapegoating.

Above all it means heeding reality; the stories of people like Aaron and Fiona have much to tell us. We cannot afford to brush them aside any more than we can ignore their cries for help.

As veteran firefighters have told Morrison, we will need to put in a lot more resources if we are to deal with the new levels of devastation, the new fires are bringing. His government and all state governments need to start listening. Act on expert advice. Twenty years ago would have been good but now is the next best time.

 

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Children’s Letters To ScoMo

A few weeks ago, Scott Morrison sent a tweet about a letter from a prep student asking if holidays could be abolished. Some people were unkind enough to suggest that the language and the handwriting were too sophisticated for your average prep student. Of course, they were overlooking the fact that school holidays are a state based responsibility, so the kid wasn’t that clever because he was writing to the wrong person. Anyway, I have it on good authority that children’s letters to ScoMo was going to become a regular thing until someone suggested that given his Hillsong association, it might remind the public of things his friend would like to pretend never happened. Unfortunately these tweets never saw the light of day, but I’ve been assured that they are just as genuine as Morrison’s assurance that he was only ambitious for Malcolm Turnbull. 
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
I love getting letters from kids. They say the greatest things and this letter from Greg,  is a cracker. He wants me to meet with the fire chiefs because he loves Australia so much that he doesn’t want to see it burn…
Well, sorry, Greg but my approval rating has gone up so much since I was filmed huggng that Owen guy that I feel it would make it seem like I was backing down if I were to meet with them after ignoring them for so long.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
I just adore letters from kids. They say such funny things. Here’s one from Sally who says that she’s worried there won’t be any jobs for her when she grows up because everything will be automated. Gee, Sally, who’s been filling your head with nonsense. Clearly you’re a girl and you can just get married and look after your husband like my wife does. There’s no need for you to worry about getting work. That’ll be your husband’s problem.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
It’s really awesome when kids write to me. Here’s one from Timmy wondering why he has to wait so long for a wheelchair when the NDIS didn’t spend all its money last year. Well, Timmy, that’s because Labor spent all your money and we need to get back into surplus. Besides we needed to take some of the money to give to the farmers who are experiencing what’s called a drought. However, don’t despair because tonight I’ll be praying that you no longer need a wheelchair. You should pray too, because God gives a go to those have a go. 
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
Here’s a beauty from Georgie asking if the floods in Venice are a result of climate change. This one gave me a real laugh. No, Georgie, just as Australia has always had bushfires, Venice has always had water in its streets. The only difference is that, thanks to the greenies, nobody’s been able to do anything and that’s why we have fires and floods.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
Vicky wants to know if we have a plan for the children locked up in detention on Nauru. Well, Vicky, I don’t know who you’ve been talking to but no children are in detention. There were a few but they’ve all been there long enough to reach the age of criminal liabilty so they’re now they can be considered adults and illegal immigrants.
Scott Morrison @ScottMorrisonMP(MissingPerson)
Eddie says that he goes to a private school and they recently went to the local government school which has just received money to start building a new gym after waiting for twenty four years. He said that he doesn’t think that this is fair. Why should they get a new gym when his school doesn’t even have enough money to heat the river where they go rowing every morning. What you need to realise, Eddie, is that even though parents who send their children to public schools obviously don’t care about their exposure to degenerate teachers who’ll teach them strange values, they still vote and get upset if they don’t get some shiny new building at least once in generation.
                        *         *         *
Ok, they may not be 100% genuine, but at least they’re more believable than any of Angus Taylor’s explanations. 

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Government idiocy costing us billions

With a headline like that, I could go on to discuss innumerable things, but today I want to focus on the “save the ute” campaign.

In the lead up to the last election, Labor announced strategies to encourage the uptake of electric vehicles.

“Labor will set a national electric vehicles target of 50% new car sales by 2030, and 50% for the government fleet by 2025, as well as allowing business to deduct a 20% depreciation for private fleet EVs valued at more than $20,000… Bill Shorten will also flag a new pollution regulation on car retailers “in line with” 105g CO2/km for light vehicles, which is consistent with American emissions standards, but will consult on coverage and the timeline to phase in the change rather than impose it immediately.”

Cue an outraged Michaelia Cash who, with neck cords strained, swore to an audience of bored apprentices in her gratingly nasal “Kath and Kim” way, that she would “stand by our tradies to save their utes”.

Perhaps someone should have briefed Michaelia about the Coalition’s latest glossy brochure released a month or two earlier, the Climate Solutions Package, where they claim that “An electric vehicles strategy is expected to reduce emissions by up to 10 million tonnes by 2030”.

Not that they actually have a strategy.  The one paragraph devoted to it says:

The strategy will build on grants from ARENA, finance from CEFC, and the work of the COAG Transport and Infrastructure Council to coordinate action across governments, industry and community in both urban and regional areas. This work will include consultation on whether mandating an electric vehicle plug type could improve the consistency of public charging.

As David Crowe points out in the SMH, there are many reasons why the government should want to encourage electric cars.

They reduce oil imports and improve the nation’s trade balance. They reduce demand for petrol and therefore ease Australia’s relative shortage of reserves at domestic refineries. They deliver a strategic benefit by using domestic rather than imported energy.

In percentage terms, the transport sector has experienced the largest growth in emissions, increasing 64.9 per cent (39.8 Mt CO2 -e) between 1990 and the year to March 2019, currently accounting for 18.8 per cent of Australia’s national inventory of GHG.

There is the obvious benefit of emissions reductions if the electricity is produced by renewable sources, which will boost employment in both the renewable energy sector and in building the charging infrastructure to service electric vehicles.

Even without the transition to electric vehicles, there are many things the government could be doing but are not, like introducing fuel efficiency standards that many other nations have already adopted.

According to The Conversation, “If Australia had introduced internationally harmonised emissions legislation three years ago, households could have made savings on fuel costs to the tune of A$1 billion.”

Available evidence suggests Australian motorists are paying on average almost 30% more for fuel than they should because of the lack of fuel efficiency standards.

The Australian government is not progressing any measures to introduce a fuel efficiency target. In fact, it recently labelled Labor’s proposed fuel efficiency standard as a “car tax”.

Australia could increasingly become a dumping ground for the world’s least efficient vehicles with sub-par emissions performance, given our lack of fuel efficiency standards. This leaves us on a dangerous path towards not only higher vehicle emissions, but also higher fuel costs for passenger travel and freight.

It would be cynical of me to suggest that the government is reluctant to give up the revenue they get from fuel excise, but what other explanation can there be for their strident opposition and negligent inaction?

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I have nothing but contempt for Scott Morrison

I write today with heavy spirit and considerable anger about men and women for whom I have only contempt.

I am failing to digest any circumstances in which it can be evidenced that the government of my country has the people, their future and their welfare, uppermost in their governance.

Like millions of others I have little understanding of science but my default position has always been to believe the science. My choice otherwise is to believe the ratbaggery elements of the “no evidence” establishment.

Science in my lifetime has made the most staggering discoveries, and its achievements are embraced and recognised by all sections of society.

The only areas that come to mind where science is challenged is in the religious fever of climate change doubters, by conservative politicians and alternative religious belief.

For six years plus the people have, even against the best advice, given the conservatives the benefit of the doubt, suspended their judgement, and have elected the Coalition for a third term. Yes, even when all the evidence proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were the worst government ever, with the worst collection of ministers this country has ever seen.

On the subject of global warming they have refused to take the advice of anyone who has any expertise in the area. From the scientists who study the burning of fossil fuels to the experts in weather and those responsible for predicting just what a 2% increase in the world’s temperature might mean, particularly with drought, fire and floods.

The Abbott, Turnbull and Morrison governments have all rejected the advice of some of our finest minds and everyone with even a small degree of acumen knows why.

They have rejected the cost so as to acquire a surplus. So they have never modelled the cost of doing nothing or considered that there is a cost for the upkeep of every individual’s health and therefore it is logical that there would also be a cost for the upkeep of the planet.

They have placed ideology before obligation, profit before the planet, and power before the people.

They believe that the lies they have perpetrated in telling the population with sinister regularity are best served by more and more lies purely for the purpose of propaganda. That being to use this manifest danger we face to retain power. That they would deliberately allow the loss of life for the shallowest of self-seeking reasons is simply beyond contempt.

A more evil un-Christian concept I have never come across. I can only feel disgust for these people who would support the pillars of capitalism and its thirst for profit over and above the lives of common folk.

What virtue do they see in their support for fossil fuels and their hideous attempts to stymie renewable energy technology?

Does truth have to shout out its name to get these morons to listen? Do the people have to rebel in disgust against their authority? Do our kids really have to protest their angst against a federal government intent on looking after the top end of town? (My words, not Albo’s).

How many homes and lives need to be destroyed by the ravages of fire – the heat of flame or cascading waters in the name of jobs that could be obtained in other more substantial ways? Ways that are so open to innovation and ideas.

Why cannot this rotten government open its glazed and blinkered eyes to the possibilities that could be ours?

On the day of writing this l listened to a group of former emergency services heads involved in the cause and prevention of bush fires and floods, among other things. Their qualifications without exception were beyond question. The Prime Minister when seeking an audience on numerous occasions had brushed them aside.

He didn’t even acknowledge these men of merit and superior intelligence on the subject. Now Minister Littleproud has agreed to meet with them, however, there is little chance of leaving an impression on a man who feigns belief but probably doesn’t, is almost negligible.

The lack of interest by the Prime Minister and his refusal to meet with them shows his hand. One that slaps them on the cheek for their impertinence.

What does it say about an individual or indeed a government that refuses to heed the views of important people and institutions who have the research to back up their claims? It must mean that they are as thick as a brick or have ulterior motives.

In this case the latter must apply.

When the five eminent former fire chiefs gave their news conference last Thursday I immediately applauded their sincerity, their aplomb and their undoubted seriousness. They were laying it on the line to the Prime Minister. He has squibbed them.

These 21 men and 2 women called themselves the “Emergency Leaders for Climate Action.” All expert in his or her field. They had a story to tell and did so with words of force that had me mesmerised with their authoritative tone.

Collectively they more or less berated Morrison for not granting them an audience. Their message was to the point.

“We are living in an era of unprecedented bushfire danger and climate change is the reason,” they said as one followed the other with the same message.

As advocates for their cause they all spoke with compelling sincerity.

Speaking in turn they all cited the government’s unwillingness to talk about the problem as being of major concern. They wanted the government to act and they demanded that it do so, and now.

What is needed is more resources and a better policy to reduce emissions and move to clean energy, but as I listened to the potency of their argument I inwardly doubted that they would get a positive response from these people who denied the existence of the argument they were putting.

However, because of the public’s changing mood the government is finding itself behind the eight ball and sooner or later it will have to act. This refusal to act together with parents seeing their children protesting their future has woken the populace from its ignorant malaise.

Morrison probably wants to act but he strangely finds himself in the same position as his predecessor and is under threats from the lunatic fringe within the party to bring it down.

But consider this: Even the National Party’s natural constituency is turning against them; farmers seem to know more about the problems than the National Party itself and business is now factoring climate change into their decision-making processes. They don’t want to be seen as out of step with the public’s mood.

Business takes a more projected view of its planning than government and it is clear to them that the public’s disposition is on a knife edge. They want action. Contrary to the government’s lies, emissions are rising.

Its policies, whatever they are, are not working. The government’s lack of any reasoned thinking still has business flabbergasted. There has been no investment certainty for 6 years.

Unlike the former fire chiefs whose motivation has the support of science, their experience and their observation, everything the government does has the stench of politics about it.

And in politics it’s best not to have your record raked over the coals, so to speak, while the people are contrite over the issue. This only highlights your incompetence and sour policies, whatever they may be.

Some say that the Prime Minister has acknowledged a link between climate change and natural disaster but given the Trumpion amount of lies he tells on the subject it is difficult to be sure.

As is usual when controversial issues arise he goes into hiding. In this case it is because he doesn’t have a leg to stand on. His government’s record is abysmal.

Abbott’s repealing of the carbon price may well be looked back on as the worst policy decision by any Prime Minister in Australian political history.

They have attempted to gut the Renewable Energy Target in a frivolous fashion and then imposed what can only be described as bandaid solutions that have cost ordinary taxpayers billions of dollars only to see emissions rising every quarter.

There is little doubt that with every bushfire the public will be reminded of the folly of the government’s inaction and people will be asking why so many people have to die before something is done.

With every home that goes up in flames, with every family’s memories in ashes, with every life lost and with every tree that is burnt to the ground the people will reflect on the absurd utterances of the Deputy Prime Minister, and the lies of the Prime Minister.

In time the pressure will mount on these buffoons who have frustrated every effort to bring about a reduction in our carbon emissions.

In the past week they have brought more shame on themselves with their self-serving antics.

At the risk of repeating myself I am failing to digest any circumstances in which it is evidenced that the government of my country has the people and their future uppermost in their governance.

But enough of my emotion.

Morrison’s silence will have to end soon. It is my bet that the party room belief in a coal future will influence his response and that those who invent the slogans and phrases will produce more propaganda to persuade a gullible electorate that all is well, and that  the science is crap and God is on their side. Just pray.

My thought for the day

Question everything. What you see, what you feel, what you hear and what you are told until you understand the truth of it.

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MYEFO will be interesting

The latest Monthly Financial Statement from the government raises some questions regarding their claim/aim to be in surplus and their assertion that they are “paying down Labor’s debt.”

The underlying cash balance for the financial year to 30 September 2019 was a deficit of $13,853 million ie in the first quarter of this financial year, we have spent almost $14 billion more than we have received.

And there are implications for the upcoming MYEFO as budget predictions are falling short.

The net operating balance for the year to 30 September 2019 was a deficit of $15,209 million, which is $2,681 million higher than the 2019-20 Budget profile deficit of $12,528 million. The difference results from lower than expected revenue and higher expenses.

The fiscal balance for the year to 30 September 2019 was a deficit of $14,650 million, which is $928 million higher than the 2019-20 Budget profile deficit of $13,721 million. The difference results from lower than expected revenue, higher expenses and lower net capital investment.

There have also been downgrades for expected wages and GDP growth.

When it comes to debt, as at 30 September 2019, net debt was $401,749 million.

I tried to access historical monthly debt figures to check what the net debt was when the Coalition won office in September 2013, only to find the site has recently been changed and, for some unknown reason, the entire 2013-14 financial year no longer appears.

From memory, net debt was about $161 billion at the end of August 2013, so any suggestion that the Coalition have paid down debt is absolute rubbish.  They have increased it by about 250% during a time of global economic recovery.

Whilst the government doggedly stick to their determination to produce a surplus this year, calls for them to increase spending are becoming louder.

We need our own firefighting aircraft.  We need to bring forward infrastructure spending.  We need to increase Newstart.  We need to build affordable public housing, reduce hospital waiting times, and properly resource our public schools.  We need to fix the mess the Nationals have made of water management.  We need to decarbonise our economy.  We need rehab centres and emergency accommodation, particularly in regional areas.

What we don’t need is to waste hundreds of billions on obsolete weapons of mass destruction, billions on consultants and government advertising, and politicians who think attending sporting matches is more important than their day job.

We don’t need a surplus.  We need someone who has a clue about how to invest in this country rather than their own political future.

 

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How Good Is The Quiet Scott Morrison?

Just lately I’ve noticed that we haven’t heard anything from our PM. His twitter account hasn’t been touched for a couple of days and there’s been no pronouncement telling us that we don’t like being told what to think.

My first reaction was to wonder if Peter Dutton had decided to use some of the laws at his disposal to take Scott Morrison into custody. After all, there are various anti-terror laws that enable people considered a risk to be questioned by ASIO for several days and nobody’s allowed to know where they are. Actually that’s not entirely true. They can tell their partner, and they don’t have to be a risk. It’s sufficient that ASIO believe they know something, so I guess that last point lets Scomo off the hook.

No, I decided, Morrison has decided to role model being a “quiet Australian” and to keep politics off the front page by saying nothing. This could be a winning strategy. It used to work for Tony Abbott. Every time he went on holiday or was otherwise incommunicado, his approval ratings went up; every time he spoke, he used to make people angrier than an interview on the ABC where they pretend that somebody who used to write for a Murdoch publication was a “quiet Australian”. I mean, forget Murdoch for a moment: Surely someone who used to be a journalist hardly qualifies as one of the quiet people.

I was rather annoyed at 7:30, but not because they interviewed people who voted Liberal and then seemed to be amazed that Liberal voters still voted for the current mob at the last election. No, I was annoyed because I was intending to do my own interviews with quiet Australians.

Yes, yes, all right. It is rather absurd because the quiet ones aren’t likely to speak, but leaving aside that oxymoron, I had the plan for the interviews in my head and they would have gone something like this:

“Why did you vote for Scott Morrison?”

“Because he got Labor’s debt under control.”

“Actually, the debt has doubled since the Liberals took over.”

“Didn’t the Liberals just announce a surplus in the last Budget?”

“Yes, but it’s only a projected surplus. It hasn’t happened yet and anyway, a surplus doesn’t actually pay off the debt. It’s complicated but because you voted for the Liberals and obviously like simple things, let me explain it this way. You’ve got a mortgage?”

“Yes.”

“Did you spend more than your earned last year?”

“No way.”

“So your mortgage is paid off?”

“Of course not!”

“Well, that’s how the Liberals are presenting it. It’s likes once you get into surplus that’s the same as paying off your mortgage.”

“Look, I really don’t understand all this government debt. What really matters is getting my franking credits when I retire.”

“Do you own shares?”

“No.”

“Then you don’t get any franking credits.”

“I don’t?”

“No, it’s only for people who own shares.”“Well, at least the NEG will get energy prices down.”

“They’ve abandoned that.”

“So, what’s their plan for getting energy prices down?”

“They don’t really have one.”

“So how are they going to get prices down?”

“The same way that they’re going to get wages up.”

“Cool and what’s that?”

“I don’t know, you tell me, you’re the one who voted for them….            you’ve suddenly gone very quiet.”

 

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Unraveling Morrison’s mind

By Ad astra  

Warning:
This piece contains disturbing material. By keeping it brief I hope any mental distress it might cause will be minimized.

Did you see Michael Pascoe’s article in the October 23 edition of The New Daily: What we don’t know: Is our Prime Minister a nutter? As Pascoe is a balanced journalist, not prone to hyperbole, the title he chose stood out starkly. What did he mean? We all have an idea of how the term ‘nutter’ is used, but to be sure we’re all on the same page, let’s use a common definition: a ‘nutter’ is a mad or eccentric person.

Elaborating on his use of this disparaging term, Pascoe went on to query if our PM was attracted to: ”loony ‘QAnon’ fantasies, if he believes Donald Trump is leading a battle against an international ‘Deep State’, or that Israel is fulfilling a Biblical prophecy to bring on Armageddon.”

If you’ve not heard of ‘QAnon’, and you’re ready to take the risk of reading some really crazy stuff, you might wish to take a look at: What Is QAnon? The Craziest Theory of the Trump Era, Explained by Will Sommer in a publication called The Daily Beast. There’s an extraordinary video within the article that’s worth a look although it runs for about 13 minutes.

But if you want to begin with a more sober account, you may prefer the Wikipedia description of QAnon’s central belief: ”There is a worldwide cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophiles who rule the world, essentially, and they control everything. They control politicians, and they control the media. They control Hollywood, and they cover up their existence, essentially. And they would have continued ruling the world, were it not for the election of President Donald Trump.” Are you startled?

Before you read either of these accounts of QAnon though, you might ask: ‘What’s this got to do with our PM?’ Let me explain via another article in the October 1 issue of The New Daily by David Hardaker: ‘This is going straight to Scott’: The conspiracy theorist claiming to influence Scott Morrison. Please don’t question your sanity as you read it. If it’s all too much, do take a coffee break.

Hardaker writes about a close family friend of the Morrisons, Tim Stewart, who claims to have influenced Morrison to use the term ‘ritual sexual abuse’ in his formal address to the victims of institutional sexual abuse at Parliament House in October. Nowhere is that phrase used in the report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. So why did Morrison use it? Hardaker claims:

Mr Stewart and key supporters specifically wanted Mr Morrison to use the word “ritual” because it introduced the idea of secret ceremonies with Satan’s involvement, which aligns with QAnon’s theory of global threats.

Morrison’s use of the word “ritual” – instead of “systematic” or “repeated”, which are factually accurate – was picked up by an international blogger who specialises in exposing religion-based conspiracy theories, but otherwise was largely unremarked.

For the Stewarts, though, it was a triumph. The Stewarts’ 22-year-old son, Jesse – also an enthusiastic promoter of the QAnon conspiracy – tweeted: “You know #theGreatAwakening is in full swing when the Australian Prime Minister @ScottMorrisonMP mentions #RitualAbuse”.

There’s more. Read The Rapture and the Real World: Mike Pompeo Blends Beliefs and Policy by Edward Wong in The New York Times. During a visit of Pompeo to Jerusalem, an interviewer posed a question around a biblical tale about a queen who saved Jews from slaughter by a Persian official“Did Mr. Pompeo think President Trump had been ‘raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace’? As a Christian, I certainly believe that’s possible,” Mr. Pompeo said.”

Let’s give your brain a rest from this crazy stuff for a while and turn to a recent speech to the Queensland Resources Council by Morrison, this time about climate change protesters who seek to influence those who fund or insure fossil fuel operatives to withdraw their support, in which he brands environmental protesters as “anarchists”. Claiming that progressives are seeking to “deny the liberties of Australians”, he threatens “a radical crackdown on the right to protest”.

He claims that “progressivism” – which he labelled a “new-speak type term”, invoking George Orwell – intends “to get in under the radar, but at its heart would deny the liberties of Australians”. He goes on:

“Apocalyptic in tone, it brooks no compromise, it’s all or nothing. Alternative views are not permitted.” He pointed to the “worrying development” of environmental groups targeting businesses or firms involved in the mining sector with ‘secondary boycotts’, such as businesses refusing to provide banking, insurance or consultancy services. They are targeting businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, like contracting businesses in regional Queensland.

“Let me assure you this is not something my government intends to allow to go unchecked.”

By the way, I wonder does Morrison likewise categorise as ‘apocalyptic in tone’ the recent statement of 11,000 scientists from 53 nations that “declares clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency…that will inflict untold suffering on the peoples of the world”, and that “to secure a sustainable future, we must change how we live”. He should.

Speaking on 3AW Radio in Melbourne, Morrison tried to reassure us: “There is of course the right to protest in this country”, but in now-familiar evangelical mode he went on to claim that recent environmental protests in Melbourne were ‘well beyond the pale’ because protesters had allegedly spat at people in business shirts, adding: “It’s not OK to have secondary boycotts being run by unions … it’s not OK for environmental, well, they’re anarchist groups … to be able to disrupt people’s jobs, their livelihoods, to harass people as we saw down in Melbourne”

Add this to what you have read above, and ask: “What was he thinking as he used those words?’ Are we seeing Morrison adding an Orwellian tone to the conspiracy theories that seem to have afflicted him and his fellow travellers? Are we witnessing him drifting inexorably towards a totalitarian mindset, in tune with his autocratic Home Affairs Minister Dutton?

We’ve seen and heard him expressing his Pentecostal beliefs with fervour. Are we seeing that same religious fervour being displayed in his politics, now overlaid with bizarre conspiracy theories?

Image from abc.net.au

This is the Prime Minister of Australia we’re talking about. This is the man who has the power to do much good and or much harm. Should we be alarmed? What is going on in Morrison’s mind? Who is influencing him?

Are you sanguine about his state of mind? After weaving together the disturbing threads of this piece, I’m not. For me, it’s been an unsettling exercise.

Are you prepared to take on the challenging of trying to unravel Morrison’s mind? If so, please let’s have your conclusion?

Can you give us any reassurance?

This article was originally published on The Political Sword.

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Good governance: we don’t have it, so how can we get it?

By Kathryn  

No wonder this gormless, coal-obsessed, elitist and undemocratic Morrison regime love everyone to be quiet, complacent and apathetic! Reason? Because – at every level – the lying, devious and totally inept fascists in the worst, most inept government in Australia’s political history, fail every sniff test as a progressive, effective government.

Outlined is a brief summary of some basic areas of good democratic governance in which the LNP have shown persistent failure, an escalating callous disregard and, increasingly, worrying incompetence. If governments are not held accountable for lies, broken promises and corruption, they will become emboldened to be more dishonest and corrupt – this has been worryingly evident by the LNP over the last six appalling years. If others want to add to this list with factors that they believe should be integral to a responsible, egalitarian government, please be my guest by listing your priorities in your response.

Transparent government which allows full access by all citizens and taxpayers of Australia (ie the employers of any elected government), to all paperwork, documents and reason(s) for any decision(s) impacting on their lives (as citizens) and/or their democratic rights. Such unlimited access has already (supposedly) been enshrined in the “Freedom of Information Act” but time and time again, the devious Howard regime and, later, the undemocratic fascists in the Abbott/Morrison/Dutton regime have withheld, lied or denied such access. This cannot be allowed to continue.

Democratic governance is essential to the rights and freedoms of all Australian citizens. Our elected government must not only be seen to be democratic but must act as a democratic government ready to defend every Civic Right Australian citizen has, in accordance with the Australian Constitution 1901. Democratic governance must permit Australian citizens to practice their basic Constitutional Right to Protest, whether it is in protest marches that may or may not impact or inconvenience others. The LNP have shown themselves to be committed fascists, continuing with their model of autocratic dictatorship by arresting protest marchers, muzzling free speech, prosecuting and jailing whistle blowers and infiltrating, manipulating and controlling the content of what does (or does not) get heard and seen on our national taxpayer-owned media station, the ABC. This cannot be allowed to continue! It is fascism in its purest form!

Effective economic management. Sadly, the LNP has been an abysmal failure in this area going back decades. In fact, the Howard/Costello regime that so many misguided LNP sycophants brag about, was voted the worst, most wasteful, incompetent and short-sighted abusers of our economy by all three of the world’s most renowned financial bodies: the highly respected financial magazine, Euromoney, the International Monetary Fund and the Nobel-prize winning laureate and Economist, Joseph Stiglitz! The sad fact is that the LNP have been proven to be the most inept and criminally wasteful “managers” of our economy going back decades! Remember when the LNP screamed blue murder about the Gillard/Rudd modest deficit of $240 Billion? Well! What do we have now? The current economic vandals in the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison circus have managed to quadruple our national deficit to the never-before reached level of one trillion dollars in less than six short years of epic waste, corruption and incompetence!

The safekeeping of a healthy environment. The catastrophic vandalism of our longest river system – the Murray/Darling River – is just one example of the breathtaking, wilful disregard the LNP have for our environment. Barnaby Joyce’s insane decision to allow the thirsty, greedy cotton growing industry free and unlimited access to the rare, fresh waters in the Murray/Darling River has proven to be an act of such short-sighted lunacy, it will take decades to repair the damage done! Needless to say, the rapacious (foreign-owned) cotton industry took just about all the water, dried up a vast area of the Murray/Darling basin leaving nothing for farmers down river and seriously and negatively impacting the water supply to Adelaide who desperately rely on the Murray for its water supply! In addition, you have the mindless, coal-loving grubs in the LNP going against 90% of the population in their regressive, steadfast and stubborn denial of climate change which has been proven by countless thousands of scientists and environmental experts right around the world! This refusal by the neanderthals in the LNP to be in-step with logic reality, refusing to acknowledge or even discuss such a vital, important issue that is having devastating effect on our nation, our farmers, our water supply and our changing weather patterns right now, shows a criminal disregard for Australia, Australians, the future of our children and leading to the escalating extinction of countless species of native animals.

The fair and egalitarian treatment of all Australian citizens. Let’s face it, egalitarianism has never been a strong point with the elitists in the LNP. Their first priority is, of course, to themselves, where they granted themselves at least three obscene salary increases in less than two years whilst ordinary Australians continue to starve on Newstart or eke out a miserable existence on a pension or some other “government” assistance (which, in reality, is taxpayer-funded assistance) – most of which have been callously defunded since 2013.  After themselves, the next priority the LNP closely follow is their obsequious kowtowing to their obscenely wealthy donors in the IPA, the coal- and iron-ore mining industries, the property development industry as well as the LNP’s sick, undemocratic alliance with their Chief Propaganda Minister, the non-Australian, Rupert Murdoch! The toxic relationship the LNP shares with the unelected swill in the IPA and the non-taxpaying billionaires, Rinehart, Forest and the international predators in the Murdoch dynasty (all of whom just happen to be high-ranking members of the IPA), has been so detrimental to our environment and to the fair and egalitarian use of hard-earned taxpayer dollars, it stretches beyond the boundaries of criminal nepotism into the realms of self-serving depravity!

The inhuman treatment of legal asylum seekers looking for refuge from a war that the despicable war criminal, John Howard, helped to create!  The intolerable, intolerant and callously inhumane, indefinite incarceration of asylum seekers (and their vulnerable little children) in what amounts to off-shore concentration camps (rumoured to be costing Australian taxpayers millions of dollars per annum), goes against every international law protecting the fair and just treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. Who the hell audits the millions of taxpayer dollars the LNP tell us it is costing to keep asylum seekers (and the four members of the Tamil Biloela family) in incarcerated misery for years on end? The LNP would have us believe that it costs $27 million to lock up four innocent members of a Tamil family!  Not only is this a despicable lie, it is a vile act of wanton inhumanity that goes against the wishes of the huge majority of Australians especially the Queensland community of Biloela where the family were loved and respected!  The UN have tried to intervene on a number of occasions on this issue, but their pleas have fallen on the deaf ears of the stone-cold psychopath, Peter Dutton!

Preventing ongoing nepotism and ongoing blatant corruption within government. The LNP’s resident attack dog, Peter Dutton, is an unspeakably cruel minister who doesn’t even have the most rudimentary level of human compassion or empathy for anyone but himself. The LNP are corrupt from the top down and rotten from the inside out. Australians must demand a full Royal Commission into the escalating abuse and waste of taxpayer funds – retrospective to 2013 when the unspeakably corrupt, pathological liar, Abbott rose to power on a platform of remorseless lies and broken promises and the level of political entitlement and self-serving corruption has since been “normalised” throughout every level of LNP State and Federal politics.

The elected government must honour all promises made before and after their election. This important ruling is in addition to the above point! If politicians are elected on the basis of promises made before an election, they must be forced to make good those promises!  Remember all the promises made – with his hand over his black heart – by Abbott which were immediately dismissed the day after he was elected. Remember how the MorriScum government crawled into power because of the wanton, deliberate lies spewed out by the notorious, self-serving Clive Palmer who should have at least been held to account for misleading those members of the Australian public who were so duped, so Murdoch-manipulated and so stupid as to return the worst government in our history back into fascist power! If governments win elections by proven fraudulent behaviour, lies and broken promises – that election should become null and void.

If politicians are caught in a lie, there must be consequences! Just about every LNP PM has been proven to be a staggering, serial liar both before and after the election. Yes, we all know it goes way, way back to the Year Dot with most politicians (from all parties) but ruthless dishonesty, contemptuous lies, deception and the “manipulation of the truth” have become hallmarks of the LNP/IPA/Murdoch Alliance who are particularly remorseless in this regard. Abbott even had the gall to brag about his lies and it got to the stage that if Abbott ever caught himself out mistakenly telling the truth, he would lie about that just for the sheer joy of it! Morrison is a snake-oil salesman who is so contemptuously arrogant, he actually believes his outrageous lies and character-assassinating, libellous scandal about members of the ALP and the Greens. The level of lying in the LNP goes beyond amoral, it is pathological, deliberate and manipulative.

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Politically illiterate, or just plain dumb

My ‘To read’ file and the additional information I gather from week to week seems to grow enormously and I have trouble keeping up with all of it.

I continually challenge my bias but I can find little if anything to say about a government whose incompetency seems to grow in unison with their length of tenure.

So what follows is my usual collection of things you may have missed reading, and facts about things that may not have occurred to you. I want people to be informed when they vote – in fact, all the time.

When we consider the state of Australia’s politics it is easy to become downhearted, even depressed. Last week I read that only 10% of the world’s nations have compulsory voting, but of course making people vote doesn’t make them politically literate.

Which leads me to Labor’s report on why they lost the election. What wasn’t mentioned in the report was that perhaps a fair per cent of the people we make vote … are actually politically illiterate or just plain dumb.

Now, on with the week that was:

1 Tuesday’s Newspoll (with new methodology, supposedly to correct previous errors) was published with the two major parties neck and neck, and Albo improving his position.

I’m not surprised and I find the Poll Bludger gives a fair analysis of the NewsPoll findings:

“The public release of Craig Emerson and Jay Weatherill’s report into Labor’s federal election campaign has inspired a run of commentary about the way ahead for the party after its third successive defeat, to which nothing need be added here”

And Katharine Murphy in The Guardian surmised that:

Labor went into the contest with no documented election strategy that had been discussed, contested and agreed across the campaign organisation, the leadership and the wider Labor party – and there was no body empowered to discuss and settle a campaign strategy or monitor its implementation.

Given what was involved that was very sloppy indeed.

The negative noises from Labor Party supporters are thunderous at the moment, given that for the first time in a while Labor has a leader without any baggage. One who is doggedly determined to layout a step-by-step approach toward gaining government.

2 I received an email from the Leader of the Opposition, which read as follows.

“Well, the review into our election campaign is complete. For true believers, it’s not an easy read. It doesn’t brush over the hard truths – and nor should it.

In short? We got it wrong. Not everything was wrong, but enough was.

I’m not going to make excuses. We know that if you do the same thing again, you should expect the same result.

That’s why Labor will change. We will be better. And at the next election, we will offer the Australian people a real alternative: A party of growth. Of aspiration. Of social justice. A party of nation building and the natural environment. A party of the future.

This is the vision that will guide our way forward. It’s the vision I began laying out today.

I know people are angry and hurt at Labor’s loss – and so am I.

You’re itching to win next time – and so

You’re anxious to change the world – and so am I.

That’s why the project we’re about to embark upon matters so much.

Together, we will chart a new course – modernising, positive and optimistic about the future. Together, we will return Labor as the party of aspiration and the party of government.

In solidarity,

Anthony”

3 Who said this about whom and why?

“Belligerent in rhetoric, authoritarian in tone, divisive in intent, unimaginative in vision, deceptive and insubstantial in content.”

Find out here.

4 It is easy to be angry with those who debate on Facebook.

Simply confess that you are an unashamed idealist concerned about equality and the common good, and you have left wing political leanings together with a strong sense of social justice. Add to that an intestinal fortitude for expressing your views.

Seems to have worked for me.

5 Dear PM, I just need to correct tone of your recent statements (lies).

Mining is not 1 in 7 jobs in Queensland. It’s 1 in 25. And coal? 1 in 100.

6  In The Guardian I read that:

“11,000 scientists state. We declare clearly and unequivocally that planet Earth is facing a climate emergency.”

And there is good reason to believe that with simple observation that the frequency of weather events may be linked to Climate Change. At least you wouldn’t ignore it.

The deputy Prime Minister (sorry, I can never remember his name) when asked about the connection said:

“They don’t need the ravings of some pure, enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they’re trying to save their homes.”

 Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Adam Brant were also criticised for suggesting that Climate Change and events like the fires in NSW and QLD are linked. It’s to do with the timing.

And as if not to be left out of the nasty comments, Barnaby Joyce suggested the unfortunate people who lost their lives were Green voters.

And it is a sensitive issue but I don’t know why our politicians want to hide from it.

I’m sick and tired of people saying, “We need to have a conversation about this” or “There needs to be a serious debate on the issue.”

But, PM, what about future drought proofing of our nation? Have you done any work on that? It’s called planning for the future?

What is needed is more listening to the science followed by action on it. How dare they say they know more than a scientist who has made it his/her life’s work.

I will end this section with some good news. On Wednesday 6 of November the National Energy Market produced more than half of its electricity via renewable sources.

In terms of the environment I wonder what price the people of tomorrow will pay for the stupidity of today.

And still on the environment, The Australian (firewalled) reports that:

The Emissions Reduction Fund Set up by the Abbott government in 2015, has been re-badged recently as the Climate Solutions Fund. Former Origin Energy CEO Grant King is part of a panel that has been set up to review the fund, with the panel having received 40 submissions since it was established.

King rejects suggestions the panel was only set up because Australia was in danger of meeting its Paris climate targets, while he believes the fund can be restructured to achieve greater carbon abatement that would see Australia exceed its Paris targets.

7 Did you know that 81% of Evangelicals voted for Donald Trump?

8 The Australian (firewalled) 12 Nov, reported that the:

Parliamentary inquiry into Nationhood National Identity and Democracy had received a paper from the New Democracy Foundation, the ­Melbourne School of Government, and the Susan McKinnon Foundation, proposing fixed parliamentary terms, an increase in the number of ‘free’ votes, and an independent speaker.

If anyone seriously thinks that this government will forgo the slightest advantage it has over its opponent has not observed its behaviour over the past six and a half years. All worthwhile, as are the changes being considered for question time.

We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence.

9 Some ‘prisoners’ have been on Nauru for nearly seven years. That’s a long sentence when you haven’t committed a crime.

10 A friend in retail tells me that Australia’s retail industry is doing it tougher now than at any time since the Bureau of Statistics started tracking their progress.

Some cannot even pay people what they are supposed to.

11 You can expect Energy Minister Angus Taylor to be under more pressure when the parliament sits next.

12 A fine piece by Richard Dennis from the Australia Institute worth reading. Dennis says:

“Greta Thunberg thinks we should stop building new coalmines and urgently increase investment in renewable energy. But who is she to say what’s important and what’s not? Doesn’t she know? We have parliaments, boards and a media full of older men to tell us what’s important.

That’s why diversity really matters”

You can read the article here.

13 Rupert Murdoch is in trouble with News Corporation reporting a loss of $306.7 million for the September quarter. Australia was the main contributor to the loss with “lower subscriptions from Foxtel” and “challenges in the Australian housing market.” I’m guessing revenues from newspaper advertising were also down.

14 The ABC will not broadcast the Olympic Games. Is there is a message there for the government?

I guess I had better finish here. There were other things of course, like the Auditor General’s warning about pork barrelling.

And I did want to comment on Morrison’s quiet Australians.

Of course I had to leave out Peter Dutton’s call for mandatory sentences for people who break the law while protesting, and for suggesting protesters on welfare should have their payments cancelled.

My thought for the day

At some time in the future history will record that even though they should have known better the people of Australia made, in May 2019, a monumental mistake in electing a Morrison government. Subsequently some lessons will be learned the hard way.

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‘Profit before people’: the Government ideology

By nonsibicunctis  

The current Australian government is incrementally increasing insular policies and legislation that will curb any criticism, protest, access to information, or rationally and evidence-based strategies.

In the current climate emergency it can demonstrate no significant and clearly delineated plan to deal with such future catastrophes or to mitigate the effects of climate change, which is an obvious contributor to what has become an increasing trend towards weather extremes. Indeed, one of its ministers even write-off this idea as just a tactic of the Greens to muddy the waters and push their own agenda.

There has been considerable discussion about this government’s win over the ALP. Lots of blame has been aimed at Bill Shorten and his ambitious policies. At the same time, praise has been heaped on Morrison for the LNP win.

In fact, with the exception of the Greens, the ALP was the only political party to offer a comprehensive policy agenda. The LNP had none at all, unless you can so call its normal practice of favouring the wealthy and large corporations at the expense of the bulk of the community, particularly those who are disadvantaged.

The ALP policy platform was wide-ranging, rational, equitable and progressive. Had it been put into place then Australia would have a chance of regaining its status as a nation of caring and welcoming; of an equitable rule of law; of adherence to the principle of open discussion and civil liberties; of collaboration and partnership with other nations for the improvement of human relations and well-being – not, if at all, simply for profit.

Morrison has extended the demeaning of the financially and skills disadvantaged with his comment about “give it a go and get a go”. None of the denials of this put down of the disadvantaged can be sustained under logical examination. Amanda Vanstone’s squirming and cowardly attempt to defend Morrison’s view as applying to something else was one of the most cowardly and obvious instance of right wing false bifurcation used as means to dig themselves out of a hole.

That this government will ignore the plight of millions of Australians living at or below the poverty line whilst investing billions in military hardware that is generally obsolescent before it can even enter service, and very often needs massively costly upgrades before it can achieve that for which it was purchased, is a sad indictment on right-wing ideology.

That this government places more stock on the profits of an unscrupulous Indian company, known for wrong-doing, and provides backing for it to mine for coal, regardless of the known and undeniable impact on native species and the environment, is yet another example of the ‘profit before people’ tenet that lies at the core of this government’s ideology.

All of these factors are reasons why this government has no mandate and does not deserve to exercise the control that it does. It and its predecessor governments over the last half dozen years have tripled Australia’s debt, yet have the gall to proclaim a surplus. Smoke and mirrors is its tactic.

Sadly, the growth of populism and the simplistic acceptance of selfish and discriminatory policies appeals to far too many Australians – and so this government was elected. Helped, of course, by smear campaigns against ALP candidates, lies about ALP intentions, and false advertising to capture the Chinese vote and that of others.

The worst aspect of this government and the majority of its members is their continual lying. The direct lies are enough to deserve censure of these dishonourable members but when the sleight of hand deceit, the attacks on the media, the abuse of the FOI Act and redaction of documents to the point of worthlessness, the manipulation of statistics and other figures such that they obscure or even reverse actual facts, and their failure to ever answer a straight-forward question with a straight-forward and honest answer – it is clear that the members of this government are neither honourable, rational, service-orientated, caring of those without, or possessed of any creative solutions and vision for the future.

It was a sad day when neo-liberalism arrived on our shores and it is even sadder today that so many people are fooled by it and have voted against their own interests by voting in this despicable, myopic, dishonest, self-serving and incompetent government.

This article was originally published as a comment in ‘Stick to the photos, boys – it’s yer best thing.’

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What will the fires do to our greenhouse gas emissions?

Australia has relied very heavily on the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry (LULUCF) sector to pretend we are even going close to making some headway in decreasing our greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, the latest greenhouse gas emissions data claims that LULUCF emissions have decreased by 110.5 per cent since 1990 and, just this year, accounted “for a net sink equivalent to 3.5 per cent of Australia’s national inventory” in the year to March 2019.

We started claiming net reductions from the LULUCF sector in the September quarter of 2014.

The latest State of the Forests report states that “The net increase in forest area over the period 2011 to 2016 was 3.9 million hectares.”

That sounds good except we just lost over 1 million hectares in a few days and, from what I can gather, that won’t be considered.

The Focus on Land Sector Estimates fact sheet states that “These estimates of forest change attempt to abstract from temporary factors affecting area of forest cover including from fire and cyclical climatic effects.”

What does that mean?

Are we assuming that everything that has died from drought and fires will all come back quickly and so we just pretend they are still providing a net sink?  Do we not count the emissions from the burning of over 1 million hectares of forest and grassland?

From the outset, Australia has been manipulative and dishonest.  We insisted that we be allowed to include LULUCF data and deliberately chose base years with very high land clearing rates (1990 and 2005).   We insisted we be allowed to increase emissions and then, when we didn’t increase them as much as we had insisted we must, we are now wanting to subtract the difference between how bad we could have been and how bad we were, from how bad we are now.

We then embarked on the ridiculous Emissions Reduction Fund where we pay farmers who say they won’t clear a bit of land if we pay them not to.  Or we pay them to replant trees which then die in the drought – or the floods or the cyclones or the fires. But the government claims the reductions anyway, not caring if they are actually delivered or if anyone was ever going to clear that land in the first place.

Yet, in the ultimate irony, it is we people who have fought to preserve some areas of native bush and to have unique areas declared national parks who are being blamed for the devastation ripping across NSW and Queensland.

Here’s a tip for Craig Kelly, Barnaby Joyce, Matt Canavan, Michael McCormack, Angus Taylor and the other fuckwits sitting on the Treasury benches – it’s CLIMATE CHANGE CAUSED BY GLOBAL WARMING you morons and your obsession with fossil fuels is what is causing it.

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ALP Election Campaign Review: Prospects for a Credible Responsible Economic Focus

By Denis Bright  

Labor’s 2019 Election Campaign Review identified some of the negative campaign strategies which were crucial to Scott Morrison’s election victory on 18 May 2019. In fairness, the positive features of the campaign minimised the net loss to just one seat which will be tested by instability between the two coalition parties.

Bill Shorten’s Address in Reply to the federal LNP’s budget on 4 April 2019 was hardly an irresponsible or radical document as noted in the Labor Review:

In his Budget reply on 4 April, Bill Shorten argued the Government had cut funding to schools and hospitals by $16.8 billion, promising to restore those amounts. He announced a range of further new spending initiatives including a $2.3 billion cancer plan that would eliminate out-of-pocket expenses for cancer patients. He also promised bigger tax cuts for those earning less than $40,000 a year, the same tax cuts as the Government’s for middle-income earners, but that Labor would not proceed with the tax cuts for high-income earners the Government promised for 2024, two elections away.

Qualitative research indicated that soft voters gleaned from the Budget that both parties were offering tax cuts, the Budget did not contain any new cuts and was broadly “fair”, and the Budget was returning to surplus. The Morrison Government had largely inoculated itself against Labor’s attack that the Coalition was making big cuts to services, and the projected surplus assisted Morrison to support a contention about a strong economy

This degree of bipartisanship on economic issues was soon blown out of the water by a fierce negativity from the centre-right of Australian politics. Labor agreed with many aspects of the LNP’s tax reform plan and offered better tax rates for lower income households.

The negativity worked as Labor’s tax alternatives generated into non-existent taxes on homes, elderly people and death taxes.

These negative campaigns cost votes in more disadvantaged outer suburban and regional electorates which also warmed to campaigns for more coal mining from the resources sector. In Labor heartland booths like Ipswich North Booth in the Blair electorate, the swing to the LNP came mainly from the allocation of preferences from far-right parties such as One Nation, UAP and the Conservative National Party plus a higher than usual informal vote:

By election day, the negativity had cornered Labor’s appeal in winnable outer suburban and regional seats particularly in Queensland and Tasmania. Initiatives in broadening access to cancer treatment should have had greater mass appeal.

Labor losses in Herbert, Longman, Bass and Braddon were unexpected. Labor gains in Corangamite (Vic) and Gilmore (NSW) and the additional seat in the ACT did not extend to outer metropolitan and regional seats like Capricornia (Q), Robertson (NSW), Forde (Q), Petrie (Q), Dickson (Q) and Hasluck (WA). The Labor Review noted the big picture of these voting patterns:

In government, the LNP is left without a real plan to tackle issues such as energy transition, essential infrastructure and skills development through TAFE programmes. The absence of an investment plan for Australia is particularly distressing.

Greg Jericho of The Guardian notes the current tread-water phase in the federal LNP’s economic rhetoric which still dwells on the old election slogans when new vision is required for future planning for Australia’s middle-sized economy:

The biggest con in Australian politics is the belief that a budget surplus not only matters, but that it demonstrates good economic management.

Our lives would be improved overnight if the political debate in this country could ditch the surplus obsession. The pertinent question at the moment is not whether a budget surplus will be delivered this financial year, but why on earth would you aim to do so?

Why do we need a budget surplus? It is not a question that gets asked too much – certainly not during the election campaign just passed, where both major parties argued over who had the bigger surplus.

The typical answer you get given is some vague notion of living within your means, saving for a rainy day, needing to pay down debt.

It’s all simplistic babble spoken by politicians with next to no economic logic in order to convince voters that somehow, they are good at managing the economy – and for the most part it is taken as given by journalists

There is a naïve assumption that Australia should be run like Britain on discredited Thatcherite principles. Even in Britain with the financial resources of the City of London at the disposal of a still likely to be elected Johnson Government, the old magic is not working as the effects of the global slowdown become more apparent:

United Kingdom GDP Growth Rate

Britain’s economy grew 0.3 percent in the third quarter of 2019, recovering from a 0.2 percent contraction in the previous three-month period and missing market expectations of a 0.4 percent expansion, a preliminary estimate showed. The service and construction sectors provided positive contributions to GDP growth, while output in the production sector was flat. GDP Growth Rate in the United Kingdom averaged 0.61 percent from 1955 until 2019, reaching an all-time high of 5 percent in the first quarter of 1973 and a record low of -2.70 percent in the first quarter of 1974. source: Office for National Statistics for percentage trendlines.

Australia is protected from this malaise by healthy returns for exports of resources as well as tourism and educational services. With the federal LNP in such a complacent phase based on out-dated nostalgia for the unexpected election victory, the long-term reductions in percentages for Australian capital expenditure have gone largely unnoticed:

From far-off Greece, the conservative government of Kyriakos Mitsotakis is offering pragmatic lessons to its Australian counterparts in overcoming warnings from more hard-line NATO countries on the value of economic engagement with China’s Belt and Road Initiatives (BRIs) which are so popular across the Middle East, Eastern and Central Europe (Helena Smith, The Guardian, 12 November 2019):

A landmark visit to Greece by China’s president Xi Jinping has cemented what both countries are calling a “new era” in bilateral ties amid western concern over Beijing’s growing global assertiveness.

Athens rolled out the red carpet for Xi as its centre-right government sought to capitalise on Greece’s burgeoning role as China’s “gateway” to Europe.

“This visit opens a new chapter of decisive importance in the already excellent relations between China and Greece,” said the Greek president, Prokopis Pavlopoulos, addressing a dinner held in honour of the leader Monday night. “[It] fundamentally upgrades our strategic partnership,” he added after the two sides signed 16 trade deals in areas as diverse as banking, tourism and solar energy.

The three-day tour is Xi’s first to Athens. It comes barely a week after the Greek prime minister, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, returned from Shanghai where the Chinese president raised the prospect of Greece becoming “a logistics centre” for the trans-shipment of western-bound Chinese goods.

The federal LNP reluctance to join the economic broad-church threatens Australia’s longer-term stability as a vibrant economy and remains one of the archaic remnants of the Thatcherite era. Consensus-building from the Labor Party can assist in moving our middle-ranking economy out of this dark age in which proactive economic management can be applied to a new globalised era.

It is ironical that Canadian government pension funds are actively involved in Australian developmental projects which could be operated by similar Australian funds to address the current investment drought here (Carrie LaFrenz, AFR, 30 August 2019):

Canadian pension fund Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) has invested $300 million alongside Brookfield Business Partners L.P.  and its institutional partners in Healthscope. Brookfield won a prolonged takeover battle of Healthscope, finally snaring the nation’s second-largest private hospitals operator in a $4.4 billion deal earlier this year….Healthscope, and its new owners, have been under the spotlight in a NSW Parliamentary inquiry over the opening and running of its new Northern Beaches Hospital in Frenchs Forest which has been plagued with problems since opening last  October.

CDPQ invests globally in major financial markets, private equity, infrastructure, real estate and private debt. In Australia, CDPQ acquired a 44 per cent stake in insurance distributor Greenstone in 2016 and is also a shareholder and a long-term partner of Plenary Group, having invested in several Plenary- originated Australian projects since 2012. It also controls about 25 per cent of TransGrid, the electricity transmission network of the State of New South Wales and owns about 30 per cent of the Port of Brisbane.

CDPQ is a long-term institutional investor that manages funds primarily for public and para-public pension and insurance plans. It has about $C327 billion ($365.75 billion) in net assets as of June 30.

The federal LNP’s focus on the resources sector to carry the Australian economy with new coal and iron ore projects is a diversion from essential sustainable investment for the new economy which must cope with a new round of job cutting in a high technology era.

The most innovative sections of Corporate America are anticipating major changes in employment patterns which will challenge earning capacity in currently well-paid middle-income employment (McKinsey Global Institute 2019):

Education corporations are offering a false light on the hill to school-leavers with high fee-paying  commercial trade schools which are flourishing across Australia and the USA (Promotion from Academics Australasia and Popular Mechanics USA 13 March 2019):

Meanwhile, under-spending in Australia on TAFE Programmes and NDIS initiatives is deferred to offer more tax concessions for the top 5 per cent of income earners. Contrast this with the optimism generated by the MyBudget Web Site with the prospects of more tax relief for high income earners from 2024-25:

The federal LNP may make its cherished budget surplus for 2019-20 by deferring key spending priorities but Phase 3 of the plan to undermine additional levels of progressive taxation is unlikely to remain intact by 2024-25.

Consensus-building debate with the Morrison Government is an essential strategy to encourage the federal LNP to acknowledge the need for changes in economic policy in a slowing global economy in which the trade and investment war with China is a recurrent distraction that is currently bringing instability to Wall Street indicators which soon show up in our superannuation balance sheets in Australia. Labor’s unsuccessful election campaign is hardly the cause of such problems as the release date for the September Quarter private capital expenditure data approaches later this month.

Denis Bright (pictured) is a member of the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance (MEAA). Denis is committed to citizens’ journalism from a critical structuralist perspective. Comments from Insiders with a specialist knowledge of the topics covered are particularly welcome.

 

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No money? No justice for Survivors!

Pell’s right to appeal has been upheld by the High Court of Australia. I have no problem with that. Any Australian citizen has the right to appeal to a higher secular power … in this case our legal system and its variety of ascending higher-level courts.

That’s called a reasonable statement.

My statement, however, is only momentarily polite on such matters as the rights of citizens to appeal, to seek redress, and to seek justice, and to seek fairness.

George Pell has the right to appeal. Survivors of childhood sexual abuse in Religious Institutions also have the right to appeal.

And here’s where the absolute bloody bullshit of equitable appeal for justice for all here in Australia starts to kick in.

Whatever the source of those dollars, the fact is George Pell’s appeal has been buttressed and supported by a well-heeled appeal fund. Engaging high-flying barristers and solicitors are not cheap.

I, and many other Survivors of the heinous crimes that have been committed against us, would love to have our cases, and our stories, and our quests for justice, heard in the highest court in this land. Of course, we have a snowball’s chance in hell of that ever happening.

The majority of the Survivors of childhood sexual abuse are mired in poverty. They are beaten down not only by their punishing experiences, they are also gutted by years, decades, and in many cases, lifetimes swamped by the negative legacies of depression, and PTSD.

Of course, the defenders of the clergy, legal and otherwise, would point out that Survivors have equal right of access to the legal system. There are probably people out there in our society who believe such nonsense.

Here are some legal realities for Survivors of childhood sexual abuse when they embark on a path for justice.

Many Survivors, when they initiate a claim against an Institution for historical instances of childhood sexual abuse, are mired in poverty and cannot afford psychologically or financially to hang on long enough for their cases to receive a fair hearing in Court. It often takes years for the cases to be heard.

Institutions such as the Catholic Church etc are well aware of this fact and they put the pressure on Survivors to accept unsatisfactory Settlements via the mediation process.

I know what I am talking about because that was my direct experience in dealing with the Church. They knew I was mired in poverty as a result of enduring a lifetime of effects from my abuse, and they utilised that fact to pressure me into accepting a compensation figure that was woefully lower than what would have reasonably been awarded by a Court.

I can understand that most people simply do not understand the process that Survivors have to go through to seek justice. The system, via Gag Orders etc, is designed to keep us quiet, and the techniques and methods used by the Churches to minimise or defeat claims are rarely aired in the public arena. They need to be aired.

I was, and am, very unhappy with the Settlement terms I was offered. The compensation figure was low and it did not compensate me for a lifetime lost, there was no apology offered, no remorse shown, and no offer of remedial therapy was included. I felt brow-beaten into accepting their ‘offer’, and I felt pushed aside and treated as an annoyance who needed to be quickly silenced.

Well, I am not an annoyance. I am a human being. I have a voice. And, where possible in a legal sense, I intend to use my voice to highlight the methods used by Churches etc to suppress legitimate claims.

Some will say that ‘nobody forced you to sign the thing’. My response to such nonsense is that my impoverished state, and the unending pressure from the Church, did indeed force me to sign the bloody thing.

There is a partial legal Gag Order placed on me, as it is on many other Survivors, but that gag order does not stop me from speaking my mind.

The majority of Survivors are not rich people, they are poor people, they cannot afford to hire a Legal Team to stand against the bevy of Lawyers and Barristers used by the Churches and other Institutions to fritter down and negate justified claims.

Survivors are caught in a bind because of poverty, they have to rely on the ‘umbrella’ afforded by No Win No Fee law firms, and unless those firms are very sure that the case will be won they have to utilise common sense and decline to take the case on. Which leaves some Survivors with a justified claim that they cannot afford to pursue on their own.

Survivors in that position are forced to rely on the National Redress Scheme. I’m not surprised that a lot of Churches and Institutions have signed up to that Scheme, because if any sort of compensation is paid out to an individual under that Scheme it is going to be an awful lot less than what a Court would reasonably award. In my opinion only, the Scheme unintentionally favours the Churches etc and disadvantages the Survivors. The Scheme has unintended consequences attached. Religious politicians, religious institutions, not the best of combinations where redress is concerned.

Many Survivors are riddled with depression and PTSD, and I am one of them. And our condition often precludes us from taking on behemoth institutions like the Catholic Church.

It is important to note that I believe that most religious people are decent folk, and that any action I have taken, or will take, is against the Institution that made no effort whatsoever to protect my younger self from incessant abuse.

To initiate another round of legal action is not an easy thing for me to do, or for any other Survivor to do or countenance. It would be far easier to stay hidden away in the background.

Many people might not realise that when you initiate a claim, in order for a medico-legal report to be produced, your whole life and being is subject to a rigorous forensic examination by Psychiatrists appearing for either side of the case. Sometimes that examination is empathetic, and sometimes it is acidly adversarial.

Either way, you are forced over a number of years to continually live and recall the instances of your abuse in full never-ending detail simply to prove that your claim is justified. No wonder the process so completely demolishes so many people.

Churches etc drag out claims for as long as possible and subject the Survivor, who is in a very vulnerable position, to begin with, to a long period of sustained pressure. My initial experience with my claim against the Church drove me to the edge, and I learnt a lot from that. They will not do that to me again.

I will not be silent.

People out there, those of a well-meaning mindset or otherwise, need to understand that when Survivors approach the legal system to attain justice, they are hamstrung from the get-go because they simply do not have the dollars to hire a high-flying legal team. The Churches do.

It has taken me over 60 years to get to the point where I can say the following. Today’s High Court decision in favour of George Pell is the trigger.

I cannot speak for other Survivors but I can at least guess about what many of us might be feeling. The anger at how we have been treated is starting to appear. The anger is real. It comes from a deep well-spring of imposed traumatic experiences, and from the way we have been demeaned, sidelined, denied fair justice, and pushed aside by Religious Institutions over the course of our lifetimes.

It is a well-justified anger.

 

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Incinerating Logic: Bushfires and Climate Change

Despite the Internet, connectivity, and linking technologies, distance has not shrunk the Australian sense of self, an often provincial appraisal of the world seen in slow motion and stills. Whether it’s the “flower revolution” or Michel Foucault, trends and ideas are often delayed, and seem almost cutely anachronistic by the time they make landfall down under. Wedded to the insatiable urge to reap, rent and remove from the earth, and you have the ultimate myopic: Australia, the exceptional country, outside the stream of history and, dare it be said, the inconveniences of science.

With some 11,000 scientists warning that planet Earth “clearly and unequivocally faces a climate emergency”, some sense of it was registered on the Australian political scene, if only barely. The “World Scientists’ Warning of a Climate Emergency” published in BioScience does not shy away from the language of catastrophe and emergency. “Despite 40 years of global climate negotiations… we have generally conducted business as usual and have largely failed to address this predicament.” Climate change had not merely arrived but bulldozed itself into recognition, “accelerating faster than many scientists expected.”

The authors and signatories suggest that, “An immense increase of scale in endeavours to conserve our biosphere is needed to avoid untold suffering due to the climate crisis.” Public debates on the subject of climate change had mostly focused on global surface temperature, a clearly inadequate approach that avoids “the breath of human activities and the real dangers stemming from a warming planet.”

Areas of urgent redress were also suggested. Energy efficiency and a reduction in the use of fossil fuels are high on the list. “We need a carbon-free economy that explicitly addresses human dependence on the biosphere and policies that guide economic decisions accordingly.” The call for a change of language is encouraged: rhetoric of GDP growth and affluence needs to be replaced by sustainability “and improving human well-being by prioritizing basic needs and reducing inequality.” Not exactly music for the muscular fossil fuel lobby.

Another song sheet that would not have impressed the fossil fuel industries was an event that barely disturbed the press releases. This month, the National Electricity Market in Australia received a contribution from wind, solar and hydro energy amounting to half of the total energy production. Rooftop solar contributions came in at 23.7 per cent, with wind (15.7 per cent), large-scale solar (8.8 per cent) and hydro (1.9 per cent) bringing up the rear.

With the release of the report, Australia braced itself for the incinerating fury of bush fires that have arrived earlier this season. The state of New South Wales is anticipating what the Rural Fire Services Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons describes as “the most dangerous bushfire week this nation has ever seen.”

The warnings were already pressing through the policy pipeline in the last decade. The National Inquiry on Bushfire Mitigation and Management’s 2004 report to the Council of Australian Government warned that, “Fires’ frequency, intensity and size are expected to increase under climate change as temperatures rise, rainfall variability increases, droughts become more severe and ecosystem dynamics alter, resulting in changed biomass fuel loads and types.”

The authors of the report go on to suggest that “projected hotter, drier and windier conditions associated with climate change caused by greenhouse warming would extend the period of fuel drying and increase rates of fire spread.”

Earlier this year, former NSW Fires Chief Greg Mullins and 22 other emergency honchos warned Prime Minister Morrison of the dangers that would face Australia this summer, suggesting that the government meet to discuss some form of action against risks of conflagration. The meeting has yet to take place, leaving such politicians as Adam Bandt, the Greens MP for Melbourne, certain that Morrison “bears some responsibility and must apologise to the communities impacted.”

Various Australian politicians, as then, were having none of it. Charged with the task of keeping a plunderer’s lifestyle in perpetuity, the well-fed pigs in clover, the following words of the BioScience report sit uncomfortably with members of the Morrison government. “The climate crisis is closely linked to excessive consumption of the wealthy lifestyle. The most affluent countries are mainly responsible for the historical GHG emissions and generally have the greatest per capita emissions.”

The Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack preferred some tea and sympathy in responding to the victims of the fires, not policy and prognosis. “They don’t need the ravings of some pure enlightened and woke capital city greenies at this time when they are trying to save their homes.”

McCormack’s primary target was the Green party itself, which he accused of fiddling politically while Australia burned. “That’s what Adam Bandt, and the Greens, and Richard Di Natale, and all those other inner-city raving lunatics – and quite frankly, that’s how he was carrying on yesterday – that’s what they want, we’re not going to go down that path.”

Other politicians have adopted a similar approach: the now is what matters, and never mind previous failings and future disasters. NSW Premier Gladys Berejikilian provided the stellar example. “For any of us on the ground, speaking to people traumatised, speaking to people fighting fires for weeks… know exactly what the priorities should be, and that is saving life and property.” Climate change, in other words, was something for another day, another slot in the packed meeting schedule.

Morrison reiterated the position. He was “focused on the needs of the people.” He spoke of having “firefighters out there saving someone else’s house while their own house is burning down, and when we are in that sort of situation, that is where attention must be.”

Mayors from the areas most affected by the recent conflagration have been crankily unimpressed by the platitudes. Climate change literature, they surmise, is being assiduously avoided by the government. The unfortunately named Carol Sparks, Mayor of Glen Innes, site of two deaths over the weekend, suggested that McCormack needed “to read the science, and that is what I am going by, is the science.” Forget, suggested the mayor, the politics here. Science had imposed its cold, objective hand on the matter. Mid Coast Mayor Claire Pontin was similarly riled, notably by suggestions that fires were the staple of Australian life and landscape. “We’ve not had situations like that. Fifty years ago, this would never happen.”

There are few incentives for humanity to adapt than through the infliction of catastrophic conditions. Pandemics, world wars and existential risk have done their bit in propelling change. But luxury produces complacency; well fed bellies induce sloth. Come the writing of humanity’s extensive biography of preying on the planet, Australia and its political classes will have much to answer for.

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Stick to the photos, boys – it’s yer best thing

Last month, Scott Morrison addressed the Lowy Institute, declaring his government will lead the charge in asserting the authority of ­nation states over unelected ­international ­institutions.

“We should avoid any reflex towards a negative globalism that coercively seeks to impose a mandate from an often ill-defined borderless global community. And worse still, an unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy,” Mr Morrison said.

“Only a national government, especially one accountable through the ballot box and the rule of law, can define its national interests. We can never answer to a higher authority than the people of Australia.”

He warned about a new order that sought to “elevate ­global institutions above the authority of nation states to direct ­national policies”.

“Under my leadership, Australia’s international engagement will be squarely driven by Australia’s national interests.  To paraphrase former prime minister John Howard, as Australians, ‘we will decide our interests and the circumstances in which we seek to pursue them’.”

The not so subtle subtext was ‘you can’t tell us what to do on refugees, human rights, climate change, and all that other sustainability crap’.

Moving right along to today, and the deputy leader of the Liberal party, the grinning Treasurer, is giving a speech at the Australian National University where he will call for the reinvigoration of the World Trade Organisation and for the International Monetary Fund to change its governance structure to reflect the larger role of emerging economies, particularly those in Asia.

“Given Australia’s strong strategic, political and economic ties with key partners both near and abroad, we are well placed as a nation to play an active and constructive role,” he will say.

“We need to reclaim that spirit as we pursue multilateral and plurilateral arrangements that embed the concept of openness in their rules and norms and support a broader rules based order.”

Like the Paris Agreement?

Like the Refugee Convention?

Like a Human Rights Charter?

Like letting witnesses testify in the International Court of Justice?

To paraphrase John Howard, ‘we will decide which rules we will follow and the circumstances in which we will tell you anything’.

If we say we are smashing our emissions reductions targets, then we are, and any figures from our departments saying otherwise haven’t spun the per capita and GDP lines hard enough.  All we need to do is issue a shitload more temporary visas and our per capita emissions will go down even further with no effort.  That’s what I call efficient.

These guys really should stop giving speeches.  Stick to the photos boys – it’s yer best thing.

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