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Category Archives: News and Politics

Road map to Bondi – fresh air is the safest place to be, Hazzard easing outdoor restrictions

Yes, we have a ‘roadmap’ all the way out of Covid NSW and Health Minister Hazzard is sprouting thought bubbles just like Morrison, now that we won’t be listening to him and Gladys every day – Less bags of wind and heaps more sun and fresh air. That will sort everything out all the way to Christmas. Hell let’s not wait till mid-October, we can start opening up right now – Hunger games are just getting started.

Boofhead Hazzard wants to open up Sydney and NSW at the peak of NSW and Australia’s pandemic (announced yesterday in the Sydney Morning Herald); Despite 1,599 cases reported in NSW, over 2,000 nationwide and before we are anywhere near 70% vaccinated (44.5% to be exact – not even half of the adult population). Hey boofhead how about more surfers and beach-goers on Bondi tomorrow where it all began, there were not nearly enough flouting the rules yesterday, police caught with their pants down and not a bad word said about it. Yeah, let’s roll it with seaside fanfare and beach ball, and bugger it let’s have a festival to celebrate, just as long as we keep Southwest Sydney, Western Sydney and few other unimportant regional and rural suburbs locked down out of sight.

Since the start of the Delta outbreak, there have now been 42,000 COVID-19 cases. A total of 1,164 people are in hospital with the virus, 221 in intensive care and 94 being kept alive on ventilators. Eight people died today taking the total dead for NSW to somewhere around 150 since the Delta outbreak began, can’t be absolutely sure on that one because it’s hard to find the figures on the NSW Health and government websites and they are not going to be updating us every day now.

Asked if he was concerned people will flock to the beach in Sydney amid temperatures pushing 30c, Boofhead Hazzard said “no”. Can you believe this guy? So let’s all have a party down on Bondi because boofhead isn’t going to let anyone in the Blue Mountains or rural NSW, where we have all followed the rules and haven’t seen a live case in our district since the Delta outbreak began. But hey, let it all hang out on Bondi because they are all so damn special in Liberal fields of downtown suburbia, where the sun, sea and surf meet to play with angels (the ones with wings not fins).

There are now 14,536 active cases in NSW and about 441 of them are in Eastern Suburbs. But boofhead said, “The most important thing is to stay alive” he said, “Please, please, please, do not run the risk of dying.” So let’s all party down in the fresh air, where it is safest, down by the sea. “Perhaps you’d like to swim with a few sharks on Bondi,” he said at the press conference, “because it would be a whole lot safer than standing around here with me every day at 11 O’clock in the morning”, he said with a wry smile. Nah I’m joking, he didn’t say that but I am certainly thinking it. But heads up, if you see boofhead in a coffee shop in Manly or The Rocks, don’t mention the Ruby Princess, he’s likely to let it rip.

Brad Hazzard press conference

As we enter the hardest phase of the current outbreak on Friday, the Premier announced the daily 11:00am COVID-19 press conferences would cease from Monday and that she and the Health Minister would only address the public on a “needs basis.” So all good here, no worries, don’t call us we’ll call you, needs not urgent we are told. NSW Health system is expected to see a surge in hospital cases and need for ICU beds and ventilators over the next few weeks, but don’t worry boofhead Health Minister and Premier have it all under control, confident nurses and doctors will cope, slave it away in their PPE to the dulcet tones and pep talks from 2GB radio and Sky News. So boofhead Hazzard says let’s get on down and boogie on the fresh air in Bondi. Sorry guys, Hawaii just a little too far away right now, and Sydney revellers not welcome on the Gold Coast or anywhere else inter-State right now.

Boofhead Hazzard acknowledged there was a supply problem with Pfizer that could delay the vaccination uptake for those under 18, bugger everyone else though from 18-40, especially if you are in Newcastle, Hunter, Wollongong or rural NSW, you’ll have to wait till Christmas before you get fully vaccinated, first appointments are running well into November and early December. Your allocations have all come down here to Sydney so the party down here can continue.

Just wondering though, is boofhead looking for an Australian nomination from Morrison for best NSW Health Minister ever or perhaps for his performance rebuffing and de-railing the Parliamentary enquiry last month speaking to the Public Accountability Committee into the NSW Government’s management of the Covid pandemic? Did you see his Oscar winning star performance, his spat, his magnificent temper tantrum before the Parliamentary Committee – If not you can see it here. Apparently the Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant works 18 hours a day and so, as her boss he admits to overwhelming and working her into the ground, what a misogynistic spotty nosed hyena! She couldn’t get a word in edgeways, in fact from where I was sitting it looked to me like she had been served with a NSW Health and Government Non-Disclosure Agreement, because he sure didn’t want her to answer any questions.

But whatever you do, whether you hang out on Bondi, sing the national anthem or hymns on a park bench or beach in Wakehurst with your hands high on a hill far away, tongues wagging with Morrison, don’t mention the Ruby Princess, because that will make boofhead real mad; and for heaven’s sake make sure you are wearing a mask.

NSW Health’s Jeremy McAnulty said the bulk of new infections were still emerging in Sydney’s west and south west, in particular the suburbs of Auburn, Greenacre, Merrylands, Liverpool, Punchbowl, Granville, Bankstown and Guilford. So they’ll be keeping them well locked down and policed and as far away way from the parties on the beaches of NSW. We’ve been told they are sending in food parcels, but nothing like Menulog or Uber Eats, God no, can’t have the private sector supply chain entangled and compromised from the leper colonies in the west, regardless of where it came from.

In response to news that former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was fined yesterday for not wearing a mask in public, boofhead Hazzard said the rules were for everyone, with no exceptions, well unless you are the current Prime Minister, an Olympic athlete or mining magnate, and of course a few exceptions apply to the Berejiklian Government surely, but Abbott wasn’t really a local hero, was he? “It does not matter who you are, whatever station you have in life, there are orders. Nobody likes to have these orders but it is to keep everybody safe and I hope people will comply with the orders,” said boofhead Hazzard. NSW Police said Mr Abbott was fined $500 for breaching the public health orders at the Manly Beach promenade after he was photographed by a bystander, who probably wasn’t his best friend. But Tony Abbott, just smiled in his boxer pants, shrugged his shoulders and said, “what the hell for the price of a few cups of coffee and a little more misogyny.” Nah I don’t think it was a police woman and he probably didn’t quite say that either.

So there you have it, all the news as it happens and a wide open road map to Bondi – Let the sharks out to join us in the public swimming pool. “Make NSW great again” said boofhead, “if only you’d let me finish… yes you I’m talking to you, you clown. I’m a busy man and I can’t stay here all day talking to you”. No, he didn’t say that, well yes, he did, but not yesterday, I mean ‘making NSW great again’, he didn’t say that… What was that you mentioned again, ‘The Ruby Princess?’ – No mate that is not part of the roadmap out of lockdown, that was something to do with Hillsong as I recall, nothing to do with us, we let them out a long time ago, talk to the PM on that one.

References

‘Fresh air is the safest place to be’: Hazzard raises easing more outdoor restrictions – Sydney Morning Herald, 11 September 2021 https://www.smh.com.au/politics/nsw/fresh-air-is-the-safest-place-to-be-hazzard-raises-easing-more-outdoor-restrictions-20210911-p58qsr.html

NSW Covid crisis: Brad Hazzard defends end to daily press conferences as cases and death toll worsen – The Guardian Australia, 11 September 2021 https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/sep/11/nsw-covid-crisis-brad-hazzard-defends-end-to-daily-press-conferences-as-cases-and-death-toll-worsen

Roadmap to freedom unveiled for the fully vaccinated – The Premier, Deputy Premier, NSW Government, 9 September 2021 https://www.nsw.gov.au/media-releases/roadmap-to-freedom-unveiled-for-fully-vaccinated

Brad Hazzard throws temper tantrum for six minutes straight – Remix Matrix, YouTube, 12 August 2021 https://youtu.be/SlZgvY-zHIc

Ruby Princess inquiry blames NSW health officials for debacle – The Conversation, 14 August 2020 https://theconversation.com/ruby-princess-inquiry-blames-nsw-health-officials-for-debacle-144512

 

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We can do so much better than this

This government seems to think I should feel grateful for their stewardship.

Yeah… nah.

Ten reasons why we MUST have a change of government:

  1. We have Ministers wandering around wearing coal miners’ outfits and a government who thinks the greatest threat to the Reef is plastic and the best way forward is an economic recovery based on fossil fuels.
  2. Secrecy has become the norm and people who tell the truth are prosecuted.
  3. Bettina Arndt was awarded an Order of Australia for “significant service to the community as a social commentator and to gender equity through advocacy for men”. Two of her supporters, Amanda Stoker and Lorraine Finlay, have been elevated to high position, one as an unelected Senator and anti-abortion Assistant Minister for Women, and the other as an IPA-chosen appointed-without-advertising-or-interview Human Rights Commissioner.
  4. There is a mentality that people should be grateful to businesses for providing them with a job. Unions have been systematically demonised and undermined as the worker’s representative. Company profits have soared whilst wages have flatlined and work entitlements and job security have gone backwards.
  5. Social security is seen as a burden rather than an investment in the education, health and well-being of the populace.
  6. Public education has been sacrificed to fund wealthy private and faith-based schools. And before anyone brings up those poor struggling Catholic schools, the church’s wealth in Australia was estimated at $30 billion some years ago. And they pay NO tax.
  7. Public money has become a slush fund to be used for political advantage and positions are gifted as reward for party loyalty. The arrogance of long incumbency has fostered a culture of unaccountability. And no Federal ICAC in sight.
  8. They cannot shake the colonial mentality that they know best how to Close the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage. As in everything else, they refuse to acknowledge any culpability, any blame, any criticism or any advice. We can’t tell the truth or we are teaching our children to hate us said the Education Minister. We might get sued squeaks John Howard. We really care but… law and order… truancy… addiction… laziness… cries the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison cohort.
  9. According to this government, the NDIS is unsustainable. Yet Josh Frydenberg’s nearly-‘balanced’ budget was built on a $4.6 billion underspend on the NDIS in 2018-19. And. as at June 30 this year, the DisabilityCare Australia Fund is valued at $15.5bn, delivering a return of 0.4% over the last 12 months. Why is Peter Costello sitting on this fund and why did it get such a crap return?
  10. The 46th Parliament Current Ministry List.

But wait… there’s more…

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Hope Is The Thing With Feathers And That Makes Scotty Glad!

One of Emily Dickinson’s poems was “Hope Is The Things With Feathers” and my first thought was that she must have meant that hope enabled us to fly. In fact, her poem talks about hope lifting us up with its song… which is what Gladys and Scotty are trying to do. They are trying to lift us with their warbling.

“Don’t worry about the depressing numbers look at the beautiful numbers like the ones that show that we still have a majority in parliament. They’re the sort of numbers that we find really inspiring and so what if there’s a few more cases today. Case numbers aren’t important unless you’re in a Labor state and then they’re an indication of how badly the government is doing.”

“Thanks to my great management,” says Gladys, “in just a few weeks you’ll be able to go on a picnic providing you can demonstrate that you’ve been vaccinated.”

Now one of the problems with vaccinations is that some people don’t want to get one. Well, it’s a free country and if that’s your choice, fair enough. What I find strange is the people who argue that they should be free to not get one, but then want to convince everyone else how dangerous vaccines are and want to ban people who do get the jab.

So, take Craig Kelly…

I’m tempted to say, please. Somebody has to… But that’s a very old joke and without him to laugh at, you might notice how much politics resembles an episode of Would I Lie To You?

(Would I Lie To You? is a British comedic panel show where guests are given the chance events to describe, some of which are lies and other unlikely ones true. It’s quite impressive the way that some of them can convince the other side that the most outrageous things are true. Mind you, this is just a game and we can be impressed with their capacity to seem convincing. I suspect that something similar happens when someone has been a journalist in Canberra for too long and they become more impressed with a politician’s capacity to convince people that they’re not responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people instead of being appalled by the fact that they actually are.)

So, if any of you are tempted to take Craig Kelly’s advice about vaccination, just ask yourself three questions:

  1. Would you accept his advice about your need for brain surgery?
  2. Would you allow him to perform brain surgery on you?
  3. If you answered no to the first two questions, I think the point has been made but if you answered yes, then wouldn’t you rather send me ten dollars and I can send you an alternative which I can’t disclose for fear of Big Pharma shutting me down but Donald Trump gave me a secret personal endorsement and for just an extra two thousand dollars I can get you an autographed photo of the time Donald, Clive, Craig and I all met and discussed how to.. sorry, what question was I asking? Oh, yes, I can send you Hydroinvermyasinagainsthumanity but only if you promise never to reveal who sold it to you because the drug companies are trying to shut it down owing to the fact that nobody has trialled it…

Anyway, Emily Dickinson was wrong. The thing with feathers turned out to be Gladys and she flew away before things got so bad that she’d have trouble with the misdirection of “That’s not the number that matters; this is the number that matters!”

Yes, Scotty doesn’t hold a hose, but Gladys doesn’t hold a press conference!

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With her state heading for disaster, Gladys bails on NSW

By Matthew Reddin

For weeks, Gladys Berejiklian has warned that things will get worse. She just announced that she won’t be doing daily press conferences.

There’s this ongoing trend that echoed throughout the online world during the Trump presidency: Imagine if Obama said (or did) this? Imagine the outrage, the scorn, the villagers with torches and pitchforks if he did/said this. But the thing is, you couldn’t imagine it, because he’d never say or do anything as remotely objectionable, crazy or flat-out offensive as Trump would. But a different standard was applied to Trump than was Obama, for whatever reason. There are volumes of books to be written on it and what’s behind it (spoiler alert: it has something to do with pigment).

This is what occurred to me, as a Victorian, as an Australian, as a sentient human this morning upon hearing that Gladys Berejiklian, presiding over a monumental failure to act, a failure of procedure and oversight, the consequences of which have stretched up, down and across the eastern seaboard, has decided that as of Monday, her daily press briefings will be done online, by some low-level bureaucrat, until such time as she has something to say.

Which could be never, let’s be frank about it.

I mean, FUCKING IMAGINE IF DAN ANDREWS HAD DONE THE SAME THING. Truth be told, you can’t, because he actually showed up and did his job, and would have known that there are consequences for not doing his job; Gladys is of the political stripe where there simply aren’t consequences for her doing anything, ever – nor for her federal counterpart.

Gladys announced 1,542 cases (double the highest number of cases Victoria ever recorded during the 2020 outbreak) and basically said her work here was done. “Can’t someone else do it?” she asked someone, probably, in between being insanely corrupt and blithely contemptuous.

Samantha Maiden from News.com.au called it as she saw it. I’m guessing she’ll be fairly alone in that stable for criticizing the NSW leader.

 

 

The ABC’s Patricia Karvelas was also less than impressed.

 

 

Katherine Murphy from The Guardian did the Twitter equivalent of a spit take.

 

 

And while some in the press are going to laud the decision (laughable), it’s a pretty good shibboleth for who among them we all should ignore from here on in. The Andrews press conferences in 2020 were keeping the state informed; at a time when information was vital for our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Those pressers were sustaining, if difficult to endure once the floor opened to pernicious and stupid questions from the likes of The Australian’s Rachel Baxendale and Sky News’ Gabriella Power.

Berejiklian, on the other hand, seems to have accepted the fact that she’s royally fucked up, can’t think of any way around it, and wants to hide under the bedding until such a time as she can come out. At the point, she’ll emerge dole out some PR-spun horseshit about 70% double dosing and freedoms and picnics and how we all did this together.

Yet, Berejiklian has been foreshadowing the pandemic in NSW was going to get to its worst, its toughest; that the hospital system would be stretched to its elastic limit in October, based on modelling the NSW Health Department had prepared. Modelling, by the way, she’s not been very forthcoming with. So, knowing that the state is headed for a cliff, she’s essentially jumped out of the driver’s seat to get a better view of the spectacle.

“I’ll turn up when I need to,” are words that emerged from her sneering maw today.

We should have seen this coming. It was all there: first, they stopped their Covid hotspots announcements. Then, they essentially abandoned contract tracing. Reports started emerging of people dying at home. And all that deeply, deeply offensive talk of “underlying health conditions” (which, for the record aren’t what killed them; the disease did – John F. Kennedy had crippling back pain and irritable bowel syndrome, but you didn’t read the Warren Commission mention any “underlying health conditions” when talking about how he died). Then there are people not going to the hospital and dying in their homes. There’s talk of the health system collapsing, meaning if the emergency wards are too full of Covid patients, you’d best not have a heart attack, or have a car accident, or slip on the pavement, or get hit by a bolt of lightning. Because Gladys has all but runs away from the slightest hint of public accountability.

Knowing that the state is headed for a cliff, Gladys has essentially jumped out of the driver’s seat to get a better view of the spectacle.

It would be totally fine for the NSW opposition leader to hold alternative press conferences at 11.00 am instead. They could stand there, read out the laundry list of the Berejiklian government’s abject, morbidly offensive shortcomings and failures, and the media would – by and large – show up and cover it. They have to cover something. (Phil Coorey may give it a swerve, having already penned the vomit-inducing Financial Review magazine cover story, ‘The Woman Who Saved Australia’).

The Labor opposition could front up on a daily basis with representatives of the state’s front-line workers, like nurses, teachers, and everyone else who is essential, advocating for those who seem to have been abandoned by this government, such as Aboriginal & disability communities, or GPs for that matter, as well as mental health experts. They could be the ones that convey the hard data, the facts we need to hear, the insights as to what’s happening in circles of power, and what the road forward looks like.

And people would watch. It’d get coverage, and in the absence of anything else, it would paint Berejiklian and her government in a bad light, and negative publicity is kryptonite to her. It’s further proof that all of these decisions, from both Berejiklian and Morrison alike, from lockdowns to vaccines and everything else, has been about polls and vanity from day one. It’s pathetic. They’re pathetic. Elections have consequences.

 

 

This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.

 

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1000 days, 1000 delays. I won’t let them get away with it.

This week marks 1000 days since the Prime Minister Scott Morrison promised Australians an integrity commission.

In that time, the Prime Minister has done almost nothing to live up to his word. The truth is, this Government does not want an integrity commission before the next election. Especially one as robust as mine.

There are no two ways about it – the Prime Minister has broken a key election promise. Government officials themselves have even admitted it in Senate Estimates.

Thanks to you, we’ve shone a light on this Government’s unacceptable inaction on integrity. The thousands of letters, phone calls, social media posts and petition signatures from you have kept the heat on the Prime Minister. I’ve seen it up close myself in Canberra.

Without you, the Government would never have even revealed the details of their dud model for an integrity commission, which would investigate politicians and over 80 per cent of Government officials in secret away from the public eye. There’s a reason experts call it “the nation’s weakest watchdog”.

There is only one way we can have a robust integrity commission before the next election. We need to tell the Prime Minister to let Parliament do its job, and vote on my gold-standard Australian Federal Integrity Commission bill at the next sitting in October.

I know getting the Prime Minister to act on my bill sounds like a tall order. But we’ve forced his hand before. And we can do it again.

You can start putting the pressure on him today by sharing my op-ed on social media, and telling your networks to do the same.

Australians have put a whole lot of faith in this Government during this pandemic. It’s time for the Prime Minister to live up to his side of the bargain, and restore our faith in Government. No more rorts, no more lies.

The next election could be called any day now and is set to be extremely tight.

If the Government thinks it can count on crossbench support in a hung parliament, then they need to demonstrate they’re serious about legislating a strong integrity commission like mine. That goes for the Opposition too. How they act now on this issue will have consequences in the 47th Parliament.

Thanks for your support. I can’t do it without you.

Helen Haines MP

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Careful What You Say !

The High Court decision in the Voller case concerns whether a publisher can be held responsible for comments readers post on its website. Specifically, the decision applies to Facebook but would appear to apply equally to any social media publisher, potentially including this website. Indeed, The Conversation seems sufficiently concerned to shut down all comment and discussion on the case in question – an over-reaction perhaps.

The majority High Court decision found that Facebook were a publisher, upholding the findings of the New South Wales Court of Appeal. The appeal judges had found that the media companies facilitated and encouraged the posting of comments by third parties on articles made available on their public Facebook pages. In doing so, the media companies participated and were instrumental in bringing about publication of allegedly defamatory matter, irrespective of whether others also participated in the publication

This decision may mean that any social media website can be sued in defamation as a publisher over any offensive or damaging comments posted by readers and contributors. Potentially, this means that moderation of every post will have to take place before it is published or alternatively that no third party comment will be invited.

So far, the major social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and the like have strongly resisted being tagged as publishers. They have maintained that they merely provide a platform to facilitate comment and discussion : all that may be about to change in Australia at least.

Watch this space as further clarification on this majority High Court decision takes place and the full implications on the implied right to freedom of speech are explored : ironically The Conversation a site where you would normally expect reasoned academic discussion have already decided that this subject is too hot to handle.

Interesting times !

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Fake Empire – Clive Palmer, Craig Kelly, and the questionable memberships

By Peter Wicks

Craig Kelly’s claim of 30,000 new members has many wondering if his counting ability is any more reliable than his Covid treatments.

The fastest growing political party on earth.

That’s what Clive Palmer and Craig Kelly would like us to think the United Australia Party has achieved. This however, appears to be smoke and mirrors.

Some of you may have seen the full page advert in the press over the weekend bragging about achieving 30,000 new members in 10 days.

 

 

I thought I’d reach out to some of them to see what was attracting them to the party of Covid denial and crackpot theories.

Fortunately I was able to reach several of them on the same number. I spoke to a lovely lady whose UAP membership recognises as Usad Dickface. So impressed with the sound policies and professional medical opinions of Craig Kelly was young Ms Dickface that she thought she’d sign up a few memberships for some of her imaginary friends as well.

It’s not just the expert advice on Covid treatments attracting members like Dickface however, Mr Kelly is known to have active members of staff such as Frank Zumbo, who is widely regarded as one of the most ‘hands-on’ staffers around. For all the wrong reasons.

Another new member of UAP that I spoke with was surprised when his membership details including his membership number appeared in his inbox. It was a surprise to him as he would rather inject bleach into his own head than join the party that likely thinks this is a legitimate Covid treatment.

 

 

Given there is no cost involved in joining, Grant assumed that someone was having a bit of a joke at his expense.

 

Craig Kelly and Frank Zumbo (Image from the ABC)

 

The United Australia Party seems more intent on creating an impression rather than building a legitimate party. It is a plan as pathetic as a Senator buying Twitter followers, but arguably even less convincing.

The UAP membership page has such a low standard of authentication checking that many would assume that it has been designed to allow people to sign up anyone or anything they like. I sure as hell do.

Here’s how it all works.

I was fortunate to have an IT expert, Michelle Stevens, helping me out. Her speciality is search algorithms, and how government and private enterprise use algorithms for personalisation.

The authentication system used by Palmer on the UAP site, a Zoho Webform site is substandard. It will allow you to put anything in and will still accept your membership.

For example, here’s one we did for the Hulk, Mr Louis Ferrigno. His federal electorate is Cork in Ireland but he lives in Queensland with a postcode that doesn’t exist.

Here’s UAP’s membership form accepting the data.

 

 

 

Here’s Australia Post confirming the postcode doesn’t exist.

 

 

Here is the confirmation of UAP accepting the application.

 

Note that the email address matches the one on the membership form

 

It is important to note that the major parties have a proper authentication system that would never allow this to happen. They want real members, not fake members.

Even if you scrape the bottom of the barrel, you’ll find One Nation have better authentication.

It is also important to note that most parties have a membership fee. Most people are less inclined to set up 100 fake memberships for Ronald McDonald etc if there’s a cost involved. Clive and Craig don’t care.

Recently there has been an increase in burst blood vessels in peoples temples as phone owners nationwide are bombarded by unwanted texts from Mr 5G himself, Craig Kelly.

People have been understandably furious that he has obtained their phone number without their permission. Well I’ll let you in on a little secret. He hasn’t.

UAP will have been using a random number generator which will take the first two numbers as 04 and then just pump out texts to randomly generated numbers. This is why texts have been received on different days, it’s the cycle of the generator rather than an uploaded list of numbers. Unfortunately however, Clive and Craig may know yours is a legitimate number if you respond with warm wishes, as I’m sure many have.

 

Screenshot from a random number generator

 

Some minor parties have been doing membership drives in a struggle to reach the new minimum membership threshold. Many have been vocal about having to find 1500 members in a country of over 25 Million.

A few things to remember, we all struggle with the road-map sized Senate ballot, those complaining are seeking to make it bigger still. Taxpayers foot the bill for this enormous ballot paper, the smaller the ballot, the lower the cost to the taxpayer. If a party can’t rally 1500 members then it’s time to form a knitting circle or something.

I have had many people contact me recently about the process of resigning from a minor party.

If you have joined a party and wish to leave you just need to cancel your membership in writing to the Party’s head office. The AEC will be doing random checks from membership lists provided by the parties, if they contact you, simply say you are no longer a member.

If a party claims a member that has left or doesn’t exist here’s what the AEC confirmed with me today;

“…from an electoral law perspective is that the AEC being advised that people on the membership have never been, or are no longer, a member could result in a party being deregistered.”

With 30,000 new members of the calibre of our big green friend Louis Ferrigno, I reckon someone in Craig Kelly’s office has a big job in front of them.

 

Don’t call me a fake member

 

This article was originally published on Wixxyleaks.

You can follow Peter on Twitter @madwixxy.

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The truth of the matter is we didn’t order enough of the vaccine. But that’s not all that’s wrong.

1 On Twitter last week, a comment suggested that my constant blame laying of an initial vaccine supply lacked evidence.

I thought I would write an entire piece on the subject, but when I started researching stuff that might satisfy this person who goes by the name of ‘Arabeing’, I thought to myself; “No, if Arabeing wants to know these things, then he can find out for himself.”

 

 

Sorry, I’m in a grumpy mood today. I need to get a few things off my chest.

The truth of the matter is this: In August 2020, Opposition Health spokesperson Chris Bowen was already on the warpath about us not doing enough to develop a coronavirus vaccine.

In an interview with Sky News, he said:

Australia was “way behind in the queue” for a vaccine.

He said other countries, including Japan, had already signed multiple supply agreements for vaccines that might work.

“We haven’t signed one,” Mr Bowen said.

Anyway, Arabeing should read this ABC fact check. It finds that Bowen’s claim that a suggested tally of 1 billion doses would only be reached if so-called “optional” doses were included, as well as the deal with the European Union for 200 million pre-purchased doses and 100 million optional doses, is drawing a longbow.

However, the fact check added that:

“On November 5, 2020, the Government announced it had reached a deal with Pfizer/BioNTech for the supply of 10 million doses of its vaccine to Australia, subject to regulatory approval.

As previously mentioned, the vaccine requires two doses, spread out over a number of weeks, to be effective, meaning the deal would provide enough vaccine to inoculate 5 million Australians.

At the time of the deal, no mention was made of any option being included in the contract to purchase further doses.”

This is where Scott Morrison stuffed up. With a population of 25 million, including children, the amount ordered was totally inadequate. Other points of interest are covered here, here, and here.

The evidence of what I have written is supported by the fact that the Government is crisscrossing the world, borrowing as much Pfizer vaccine as it possibly can when it could have placed an order last November.

Greg Hunt, the Minister for Health, said at the time:

“We have enough vaccines to meet a population of 67.5 million, and we will address all priorities identified by The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI).”

2 I was watching ABC Insiders on Sunday morning, and several things commanded my attention, some trivial, some not so.

Firstly, why on earth does David Speers never draw a relationship between what is being discussed and what it might mean in a general election? With but six months in front of us, I think it’s time they opined on the subject.

3 I have become used to Speers trying for a “gotcha moment” every week. It is a little tiresome, but I thought he went close with Stuart Robert on paying back the JobKeeper money. Robert may have been correct in that according to the legislation, companies aren’t obliged to pay it back, but I couldn’t help but remember that line of Tony Abbott when repealing the carbon price:

“After all, what is done by legislation can be undone by legislation.”

In Liberal land, it seems that real anger has arisen from small businesses that didn’t receive the job keeper payments. As much as they try to brush it off with a “the law is the law commentary,” the morality of it is dreadful. It was nothing more than a taxpayer-funded transfer of money. At least Rex Patrick and Jackie Lambie are standing firm on their demand that a list of companies is published. This one is likely to grow some legs.

I received a message from a friend after watching 60 Minutes last Sunday, saying that after seeing the programme Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg should be hung and quartered over the JobKeeper payments scandal.

Anyway, Stuart added that “the plan” that we are all supposed to stick to could change at any moment if you get what l mean. Well, according to Stuart, who seemed to be trying overly hard to know everything.

4 Murdoch’s journalists are advised by The Guardian’s Nick Cohen that:

“If someone says it is raining and another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out the window and find out which is true.” The world only had to look at the weather outside to know who was trying to fool it.

That the Fourth Estate as the custodians of the public’s right to know might act responsibly and report fact and not just express biased opinion.

5 I’m quoting from Peter Fitzsimon’s interview of Grace Tame for the Sydney Morning Herald:

Fitz: Has Scott Morrison failed here?

Tame: Yes.

Fitz: How?

Tame: There are many examples, but let’s go with the obvious. There is his blatant refusal to take any accountability for anything, which we all saw so clearly in his failure to swiftly address the situation with Brittany Higgins. He had the Respect at Work report gathering dust on his desk for a year, with its 55 recommendations that could have been applied to workplace culture, but he did nothing until Brittany’s story made headlines, which made him do something.

Together with One Nation, the Government combined to defeat Labor amendments that protected women from workplace sexual harassment. The Government is forging ahead with a hopelessly weak response to the landmark “Respect@Work report – adopting just six of the 55 recommendations.” However, that is a little misleading because some don’t need legislation. Labor tried to make it better by putting a positive duty on employers to take reasonable steps to prevent workplace sexual harassment so that harassment is stopped. But when it comes to abandoning women and workers – the Government can always rely on Pauline Hanson.

I agree. In a speech on Monday morning, September 6, to the National Women’s Health Conference, the Prime Minister advocated a culture change. He should start with his party’s attitude toward women.

Hypocrisy, anyone?

6 Which reminds me that the Gaetjens Report into what the PM knew about the Brittany Higgins rape seems to have been successfully buried in the ‘never to be revealed’ file.

7 “Ultimately everything is a state matter,” the Prime Minister said in Parliament last Tuesday. Did that make him redundant? One would hope so.

8 This week will mark 1000 days since Mr Morrison promised to establish a national anti-corruption commission.

9 In Parliament, Josh Frydenberg declared, “JobKeeper was well targeted.” Terri Butler interjected: “If that’s well targeted I’d love to play darts with you!”

The notion that a few privileged individuals can own the vast majority of a countries wealth and the remainder own little is on any level unsustainable, politically, economically or morally.

10 The Parliament returns in November when the Glasgow Climate Change Conference will be front and centre. Will we have the courage to change tact, or will we continue to be the international embarrassment we are?

11 The Poll Bludger reports that Roy Morgan published its regular fortnightly (for so it now seems) federal voting intention poll on Wednesday, which recorded an incremental improvement for Labor on their already previous solid result:

Labor was credited with a lead of 54.5-45.5 on two-party preferred, out from 54-46 last time, from primary votes of Coalition 37.5% (steady), Labor 38.5% (up one), Greens 11.5% (down one) and One Nation 3% (down half).

Well, now that I have that off my chest, I can get back to my next post for The AIMN. Part 2 of “Why are you so concerned, Poppa?”

My thought for the day

Sometimes wisdom jumps a generation. Well, we can always hope.

 

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Scott Explains Why Women Must Understand How Ambitious He Is For Them!

There are times when I think that the intelligent people have actually taken over and have a brilliant plan to get rid of the stupid. Then, I think to myself, that sounds elitist and like I think that I’m special. But then I think what makes me think I’m one of the intelligent and not just one of the bugs to be squashed.

Just to illustrate my thinking here: Let’s reduce any problems caused by having too many people for the available resources by convincing people to do something dangerous that will potentially kill them thus getting rid of all those silly enough to believe either of these two things: a) Covid doesn’t exist and b) that taking a horse worming tablet would cure it. Of course, some people seem to believe both things simultaneously which gives them a double shot of being someone who will be part of Gladys Berijiklian’s: “Death is pretty bad but keep it in perspective, poor Portia hasn’t ridden her pony in over a month…”

I guess that’s the thing though: All human progress has depended on the stupid. It was the person who said, “Hey, let’s get out of the cave and take our chances!” that led to everyone else saying, “Grug hasn’t come back. I wonder if there’s really something more out there…”

Mind you, Grug had been eaten by the first predator he found and the next six people out of the cave all died too, but the one who hung back and made notes about how they all died managed to go back into the cave and say, “People, I’ve discovered a thing called science and if we just observe and make notes then we can learn a lot about what it needs to survive and improve our lot…”

Of course, being cave men – which is only slightly above the National Party on the evolutionary scale, they threw rocks at her, forcing her to pretend to be a man so that they’d listen to her and science could eventually be taught in schools…

Which, of course, brings me to the current federal government…

You’d think that someone who’s Prime Minister would have a better understanding of how the wrong word or phrase can completely ruin what would otherwise simply be your average stuff-up. I mean, it’s one thing for Scott – as Grace referred to him… You know, Grace Tame, Australian of the Year. She called him Scott which is just fine because they’re on first name terms… He always refers to her and Brittany by their first names because, well, he’s pals with those girls and if you can’t call your pal by their first name…

Anyway, it does show how much he hates some his colleagues because he always refers to them as “Mr.” or “Minister”…

Where was I? Oh yeah, it’s one thing for Scotty baby to decide that he’ll set the agenda by using the keynote speech at The Women’s Safety Summit to explain to all those women how hard they have it and how terrible it all is. He read letters from women who’d been the victims of male violence out aloud and while it would be a lot to expect that he’d sought their permission, one hopes that they were at least aware that their personal experience was going to end up in a keynote address, so that they weren’t suddenly going, “Hey, that’s my letter he’s quoting!”

Yes, he didn’t have time to read the letter about the Vehement Denier, insisting it had to be handed straight to the police, but he had time to pick out bits to read for his keynote. He needed an inquiry to discover if he, or anyone in his office, knew anything at all about the incident that wasn’t covered up before the 2019 election but in a sudden spirit of openness, he shared the assaults on women from the countless letters and emails he’d received “from women sharing some of the most anguished and personal experiences of their lives”.

One letter, he told us, was from Queensland and “it came in a small envelope, and it was written on lined A4 paper, in cursive script, running writing”… Why go into such detail? I guess to prove that it was real and you’d actually read it and it wasn’t something that had been inserted by some speechwriter. It’s detail that makes things sound authentic, even empathy.

You know, the sort of detail that made it look like he wasn’t with his wife and kids because he was tweeting a Father’s Day message from months before. Although maybe he always planned to be found out so he could tell us again how he’d promised his kids a trip to somewhere else and because he couldn’t take them even though he’d promised, he felt it incumbent on himself to move heaven and earth and a VIP jet to be there with them on the day because just seeing him should be enough and who, but the most hard-hearted would begrudge the poor little blighters time with their Dad…

But you’d think that Scott – or his speechwriter – would have some memory of his arm around Malcolm Turnbull and the words, “I’m ambitious for this guy,” just before his orchestrated double cross of Turnbull AND Dutton.

You know it really doesn’t suggest a bright future for the next National Plan when he said, “And it is one we seek to emulate in an even more ambitious way as we develop the next National Plan to end violence against women and children.” Mm, was there something wrong with the old one, apart from not implementing it or starving it of funds?

And, “We come to this Summit with an open mind, an ambitious spirit, encapsulated by the target to end – not reduce, but end – violence against women and children,” suggests that his mind is as open as his spirit is ambitious for a target to end violence against women and children.

Yep, Mr Morrison is so ambitious for women that he’s implementing a whole 6 of the 55 recommendations from Kate Jenkins’ Respect@Work Report.

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What is revving up the bully boys?

By Ad astra

This is a short piece. There is no need for lots of words. Images are sufficient.

Have you noticed the cluster of loud-mouthed men that has appeared recently on our Melbourne streets, fists raised, shouting messages of defiance directed at our those in authority?

Who are they? What is their agenda?

 

Image from theage.com.au (Photo by Justin McManus)

 

Ostensibly, they are protesting at the lockdowns initiated by the Victorian government to limit the spread of COVID-19. But do take a few minutes to look at the men in the images in this link from the Melbourne Age. No amount of words, no amount of colourful rhetoric, could ever describe what these images portray.

 

Image from theage.com.au (Photo by Chris Hopkins)

 

Do these men come across to you as responsible citizens concerned about the psychological effects on the populace of a pandemic-inspired lockdown designed on the advice of medical experts and epidemiologists to limit the spread of a lethal virus? Is there any hint of professionalism in the actions of these men? You know the answer.

 

Image from theage.com.au (Photo by Justin McManus)

 

The thesis of this piece is that these protesters are simply opportunists purporting to be concerned citizens while advancing their real agenda, which is to implant extreme right-wing views among the local population.

 

Image from theage.com.au (Photo by Chris Hopkins)

 

It’s so easy to be deluded about them, about who they really are. It’s so easy to sit back in our comfortable living rooms, never suspecting that in our society there are such people with such radical agendas. When such naïveté exists, they are able to hoodwink us while we drowse in front of our TV screens watching the Paralympics or Bachelor.

 

Image from theage.com.au (Photo by Chris Hopkins)

 

Beware! Be very afraid.

 

This article was originally published on The Political Sword

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

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JobKeeper : Welfare for the Wealthy ?

You probably are aware that the first version of JobKeeper was plundered by businesses who, in many instances, were not adversely impacted by COVID-19 and in quite a few cases these were businesses who actually increased revenue and profits during the first twelve months of JobKeeper.

There has been a massive government coverup mainly to protect the architect of the scheme, Josh Frydenberg, from the adverse publicity and blame surrounding the bungle.

Newscorp have so far been silent on the matter and Sky after Dark have actually been mounting a protection racket for Frydenberg and blaming Labor for voting for the scheme. Not so the normally Right leaning Spectator Australia who, through their conservative columnist Judith Sloan, have stuck the boot right in ; this is Sloan in the Spectator Australia :

“But when it comes to government outlays, the wildly expensive JobKeeper will rank as the single most irresponsible and reckless spending program ever undertaken by a government. Lasting only 12 months, JobKeeper has ended up costing the Australian taxpayer close to $90 billion. It makes the Pink Batts and Building the Education Revolution programs look completely amateurish in terms of government spending for dubious benefit.”

The problem started with Josh, in his haste to show business that he was on their side, announcing a massive public spending scheme called JobKeeper. Payments of $1500 a fortnight were to be available to workers at firms that, depending on the size of the company, saw their turnover fall by at least 30 or 50 per cent during COVID-19. Josh told those businesses that if they reckon – perhaps on the toss of a coin – that they could lose revenue attributable to the impact of COVID on their business then they were entitled to dip into a pool of public money to enable them to continue to pay their workforce. Quite naturally many business enterprises snapped up the offer particularly when it was realized that the handout was open ended ; in other words you could keep the money even if you business did no suffer a revenue downturn and even if your business prospered during COVID.

So, the money was only meant to go to employers suffering material drops in revenue, yet it is estimated that $368 million was paid out to entities that more than tripled their revenue in the June quarter last year.

Clearly in a scheme dealing with public funds, you would expect that recipients of the government handout would be obliged to refund the money if in fact their revenues did not diminish during the period under review and particularly if they were able to increase revenue and profits. But according to Josh that’s not the way the scheme was designed – unlike Robodebt – so in effect it was a handout with no strings attached.

To be fair, some businesses have repaid some of the money received from taxpayers. Most notably retailer Harvey Norman repaid $6m in JobKeeper in August after it posted record profits in the 2020-21 financial year. The repayment is less than a third of the estimated $22m the company and its franchisees received.

There are several aspects of this bungle that are disturbing. The first is that it occurred at all on such a large scale but more importantly that the government have tried to cover it up and put the Treasurer in witness protection. At the very minimum there should be an open enquiry probably a Royal Commission.

Tonight, Sixty Minutes is doing a piece on this massive rorting of public money but evidently Frydenberg was not available to be interviewed : perhaps he had to wash his hair !

 

Cartoon by Alan Moir (moir.com.au)

 

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Extending Cautious Global Progressivism: Time to Upgrade Support for Citizen Joe Biden’s Economic Agendas?

By Denis Bright

After years of commitment to market ideology by both sides of US politics, President Biden is offering some progressive changes in sustainable economic policies. This impending change was covered by my article for The AIM Network just over a year ago when Kamala Harris became Biden’s candidate for Vice President with charismatic endorsement from Michelle Obama (19 August 2020).

Ironically, the Trump administration gave the green light to record levels of federal US deficits to cope with the pandemic recession and its associated public health crises. The Biden administration has cautiously moved public spending from opportunistic deficits of the Trump era towards some cautious progressive agendas for government intervention in the US economy. The Democratic Party has not really followed this path since Franklin Roosevelt’s (FDR) New Deal Programme (1932-45).

In contrast, the hopes generated by the election of John Kennedy and Barack Obama were squandered by new phases of military adventurism.

In President John Kennedy’s short administration (1961-63), opportunities for improved relations with the Soviet Union to repair tensions created by the shooting down of the U-2 spy plane over the Ural Mountains on 1 May 1960 were dashed by the installation of medium range nuclear missiles in both Italy and Turkey (Map Image: CIA). The Soviet Union retaliated by the construction of its own nuclear missile sites in Cuba after the CIA’s own attempts to overthrow the legitimate government of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs landings (17-19 April 1961).

Barack Obama made the mistake of following military advice favouring a troop surge into Afghanistan in 2013 with support from most NATO countries and Australia as an associate member of NATO.

To his credit, Joe Biden has honoured a commitment to end direct military involvement in Afghanistan despite a wave of nostalgia for continued military commitment from the Murdoch press.

Biden’s domestic economic policies can be developed without the distractions imposed by new military commitments. The financial burden of US military spending remains a real barrier to Biden’s domestic economic agendas (Data-Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 26 April 2021):

Strong increase in US military spending continues in 2020

In 2020 US military expenditure reached an estimated $778 billion, representing an increase of 4.4 per cent over 2019. As the world’s largest military spender, the USA accounted for 39 per cent of total military expenditure in 2020. This was the third consecutive year of growth in US military spending, following seven years of continuous reductions.

‘The recent increases in US military spending can be primarily attributed to heavy investment in research and development, and several long-term projects such as modernizing the US nuclear arsenal and large-scale arms procurement,’ said Alexandra Marksteiner, a researcher with SIPRI’s Arms and Military Expenditure Programme. ‘This reflects growing concerns over perceived threats from strategic competitors such as China and Russia, as well as the Trump administration’s drive to bolster what it saw as a depleted US military.’

This inheritance of continued record levels of military spending is at least being offset by new domestic US economic agendas despite fierce opposition from Republicans and moderate Democrats (Politico News Network, 30 August 2021):

President Joe Biden’s defense budget may be headed for another defeat at the hands of Democrats on Capitol Hill.

The House Armed Services Committee will weigh in on Biden’s $715 billion Pentagon budget proposal on Wednesday when it debates annual defense policy legislation. The debate has split Democrats, but party leaders may not be able to hold back an emerging bipartisan drive to boost defense spending.

Republicans have for months said Biden’s budget is too small to adequately deter China and Russia, while many progressive Democrats see a Pentagon budget in need of steep cuts as the U.S. winds down a two decades-long war in Afghanistan. Centrist Democrats say they would consider proposals to increase the defense budget.

Commitment to more defence spending erodes the traction for Biden’s Green New Deal and risks unsustainable levels of national budget deficits which have been summarized by the Congressional Budget Office (9 August 2021):

 

 

However, the outreach of Biden’s deficit spending extends across the spectrum of government responsibilities from defence and aerospace industries to infrastructure, jobs and family welfare. The focus is on rebuilding a social market as noted in the details of job creation and family support packages to assist with recovery from the COVID-crisis.

Promoting the current New Green Deal agendas can become a mainstream response that appeals to voters in rustbelt states and depressed cities where constituents were once attracted to Trump’s Make America Great Again (MAGA) rhetoric.

Steven Greenhouse of The Guardian (2 May 2021) correctly identifies Joe Biden as the most distinguished pro-union President in recent US history:

Unions have also suffered notable setbacks in recent years, mostly recently failing to get the votes to unionize at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. None of this has dampened Biden’s ardor for organized labor, or Republican opposition to it.

Last Monday, Biden issued an executive order establishing the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment, a move that aims to help unions expand their ranks. On Tuesday, Biden named Celeste Drake, to head his new “Made in America” program, which is designed to steer more federal money to US manufacturers. Drake is long-time trade expert at AFL-CIO, the US’s largest union federation.

Also last week, the White House issued a fact sheet saying that Biden’s proposed $2.3tn infrastructure plan would create many union jobs in construction, clean energy and other fields – by, for instance, requiring companies that receive money under the legislation not to oppose unionization efforts.

Events in Afghanistan may have distracted mainstream news services from Biden’s less newsworthy domestic agendas. The largely Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal of the Biden administration has been summarized on the White House site (11 August 2021):

  • Makes the largest federal investment in public transit ever
  • Makes the largest federal investment in passenger rail since the creation of Amtrak
  • Makes the single largest dedicated bridge investment since the construction of the interstate highway system
  • Makes the largest investment in clean drinking water and waste-water infrastructure in American history, delivering clean water to millions of families
  • Ensures every American has access to reliable high-speed internet
  • Helps us tackle the climate crisis by making the largest investment in clean energy transmission and EV infrastructure in history; electrifying thousands of school and transit buses across the country; and creating a new Grid Deployment Authority to build a clean, 21stcentury electric grid

Biden has inherited an economy that had rebounded from the COVID-19 recession in the September Quarter of 2020.

The Medium Term Investment Prospects

The Biden administration of course plans to ease back on deficit spending during the 2020s by expanding a global investment hub through the Quad Group of countries (US, Australia, Japan and India). However, data from the United Nations Centre for Trade and Development (UNCTAD) shows that the investment outreach of the Quad countries is quite weak and negatively affected by the effects of the COVID pandemic in 2020.

Striving to outmanoeuvre China comes at great expense to the flow of investment capital as measured by Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) capital outflows. The strategy is a variation of Make America Great Again (MAGA) agendas to re-industrialize the US economy.

Since the election of President Biden, outstanding if still conservative minds, are being allowed to share critical perspectives on the way forward for the global economy which is increasingly dominated by the fortunes being build-up through the new speculative financialization.

The participants at this European Central Bank (ECB) Podcast would have been ridiculed by President Trump as opponents of his MAGA agendas.

In a recent episode of #TheECBPodcast with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and host Katie Ranger, Christine Lagarde (President of the ECB) spoke about the risk of the pandemic dialling back progress on female economic empowerment.

This discussion is a long way from the generation of new solutions but at least Dr Janet Yellen has been rewarded with the cabinet position of Treasury Secretary in the Biden administration.

Each participant is also fully aware of the complexity of the new financialization where hard won capital inflows from domestic and overseas corporate profits are being lost to the deserts of financial speculation.

The forte of the US economy has long moved onto high technology manufacturing and financial services. There is a very high degree of financial speculation in the outreach of contemporary investment. Risk taking is highly protected by contemporary financial practices which drive market indicators to new record levels before the need for a major correction somewhere in the future.

While the investment outreach of the US was in retreat on indicators for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) during 2020, most financial market indicators continued in record territory into 2021.

The US economy is artificially strengthened by capital inflows into the new financialization which generates a vast share of US corporate profits through financial speculative financial outsourcing through trade, commodity production, real bricks and mortar investment or accessible commercial services.

Some US FDI inflows do find their way into real investment and into state of the art industries such as aerospace, defence, robotics or social media networks.

However, capital flows into the new financialization from within the US and beyond are more likely to generate instant returns to financial speculators.

Capital flows into the US economy dwarf real investment as measured by FDI inflows.

Trading Economics that net capital inflows into the US were actually in excess of $US 300 billion in just the month of March 2020 and almost $US150 billion in March 2021.

This contrasts with FDI inflows of $US 156 billion in 2020 and an FDI Outflow of $US83 billion for an entire year.

This makes the US a net importer of real FDI while financial markets are awash with fluctuating levels of capital flows to support the new financialization. The long-term future of US capital markets is a matter for speculation and seems to be highly motivated by rent seeking investment.

Is Long-Term Reform of the US Financial Sector a Serious Possibility for Citizen Joe Biden?

The FDI graphs show that the investment outreach of the US and Japan have been in decline during the recent COVID-crisis. The ideal that Quad investment will carry developing countries like PNG and Timor out of their underdevelopment is an exercise in fantasy.

Rather than offering net FDI exports to the world, the US financial sector thrives on attracting capital inflows to finance the budget deficit and for speculative gains by financial operatives.

The late Professor Peter Gowan (1946-2009) of London University provided a synopsis of this subterranean financial sector that had maintained the new financialization through shadow banks and rampant tax evasion through global tax havens and interchange of transactions across borders as hallmarks financial leadership by stalwarts of neoliberalism.

Contemporary data updates might be available at a price through specialized financial networks which are usually by-passed in mainstream news reporting:

Academics Megan Neely from the Copenhagen Business School and Donna Carmichael from the London School of Economics offer a new documentation of the speculative financial sector in the US economy in a peer reviewed article in American Behavioural Scientist can assist in unravelling the puzzles presented by financialization (24 March 2021), “Profiting on Crisis: How Predatory Financial Investors Have Worsened Inequality in the Coronavirus Crisis.” The article is quite easy to read despite the saturation coverage of reference acknowledgments in the original text. I have relied on a block quote to share the wisdom of the authors. Welcome to the world of speculative financialization which generates at around half of all corporate profits in US economy:

This boom in market activity captures how a small group of investors is profiting from the crisis, while the majority of people face unprecedented health and economic hardships. This gap is indicative of widening inequality over the past four decades.

Since the late 1970s, deregulation of the U.S. financial sector has allowed finance to expand in leaps and bounds—and become increasingly risky, opaque, and complex. Finance’s share of corporate profits tripled over the past 60 years, averaging 15% in the post-war era then peaking at 45% before the 2008 financial crisis. During this same period, however, finance’s share of employment only increased from about 4% in 1950 to just over 7% in 2001. Thus, a smaller share of workers reaps the rewards of growth in the financial sector than did in the manufacturing sector’s heyday. The ability of financial actors to influence politics to favor deregulation, leverage bargaining power, and stimulate market demand has transferred large amounts of income to this sector.

As finance expanded its influence to other sectors of the economy, it brought about a widespread shift in corporate governance, called the shareholder value revolution. Before 1980, corporate management focused on reinvesting earnings to develop the company’s workers and products. After 1980, the dominant model of corporate governance understood the corporation’s primary purpose as promoting the interest of its shareholders, including executives, by maximizing profits. To maximize profits, financial investors have pressured companies to downsize, de-unionize, outsource, and computerize jobs. Rather than cutting costs, this focus on shareholder profit served to redistribute earnings from workers to managers, executives, and investors. Overall, this financial restructuring of the corporation resulted in less negotiating power, fewer protections, and greater insecurity for workers.

The expanding size and power of finance has increased the concentration of capital into the hands of a select few and driven widening economic inequality. First, the shareholder value revolution has allowed finance to extract resources from the economy and weakened labor’s bargaining power relative to executives and financial investors. Second, financial professionals in the financial and nonfinancial sectors have devised new investment products that yield enormous profits. These products have further weakened the demand for and power of other workers. Last, disparities in household lending allow the middle and upper class to leverage debt with low interest rates, while the working class, especially those who are families of color, struggle to obtain credit with higher interest rates and fees. Average households and workers struggle to make ends meet, while CEOs and Wall Street reap escalating top incomes, setting the stage for how each group has fared during the coronavirus pandemic. Neoliberal policy regimes have been a primary driver in relaxing financial regulations and the subsequent rise of financial capitalism. Neoliberalism refers to a set of economic policies and practices guided by a market ideology that believes that markets have an internal stabilizing logic and less regulated, competitive markets will reach equilibrium.

Incorporating these reduced global capital flows into productive investment for humanity through real investment in environmental renewal, infrastructure, health and community development is one of the great challenges for today’s generation of financial and political leaders.

A progressive government in Australia should welcome the opportunities presented by the arrival of Citizen Joe Biden to the White House. Forthcoming elections in NATO countries like Norway and Germany do suggest a cautious mood towards progressive change is developing in some European electorates. This polling data for both Germany and Norway is updated every few days and the new trends can be looked at by readers.

 

 

Expect the federal LNP to strive for an opportunistic pre-Christmas election before the hopeful voices of change start to become mainstream across the countries of the US Global Alliance.

Eighty years ago, Prime Minister John Curtin called for strategic assistance from the Roosevelt administration during the War in the Pacific with Japan. Time travel might invite a similar address to the nation in Christmas 2021 should Anthony Albanese win an early election on the back of currently favourable polling trends with swings to Labor in all states and territories on the latest Morgan and Resolve soundings of public opinion:

Without any inhibitions of any kind, I make it quite clear that Australia looks to President Joe Biden’s administration to deliver new sustainable economic agendas because the old policies based on market ideology and strategic regime change in foreign policies have taken the countries of the US Global Alliance into the wilderness. Our incoming Labor government is ready to implement a New Green Deal for Australians in the new social market traditions of President Joe Biden.

 

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

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“Mr Speaker, This Is Coalvid, Don’t Be Afraid, Embrace It, Step Toward The Light!”

Thankfully the playgrounds are opening again in Victoria. Over dinner, I told my son that I’d be able to take him there again tomorrow and hopefully that would improve his mental health. He pointed out that I hadn’t taken him there since he was in Grade 4 and – apart from the fact that he can now take himself because he’s already graduated university and that you only need to have passed Year 12 to go to the playground by yourself. I was about to point out that I was usually busy at work but he interrupted to say that he was going to bed because he has an early shift tomorrow.

sigh< His generation is never grateful.

Anyway, I wasn’t going to write about Victoria because I was more concerned about the epiphany I had when I realised that Scott Morrison’s message never changes no matter what he’s talking about… Actually, his message changes all the time… but it is consistent. What I mean is that he has a particular way with words, Mr Speaker, and that way is the way that words only work when they are used to mean something, Mr Speaker, and that is sometimes the way that leads people to think that he has said something when, Mr Speaker, he has not – in fact – said that very thing that people, Mr Speaker, think he has said, Mr Speaker, but has instead, Mr Speaker, said nothing at all. And, Mr Speaker, to quote Harvey Dent aka Two-Face from The Dark Knight, “It’s always darkest before the dawn comes and it hits you that the sun is up and it’s time that we were also looking forward with hope because there’s a new dawn and it’s better than the one we just had because that was today’s dawn and tomorrow’s dawn is the future and we must move forward, because moving backward could mean that you bump into something…”

However…

Ok, I’m a bit slow sometimes, but I suddenly remembered his coal speech and I put it together with his Covid speech.

“This is coal,” he said, bringing a prop into Parliament in spite of the convention forbidding it. “Don’t be afraid. Don’t be scared.”

Compare this with his Covid speech: “We should not fear it. We should embrace it. And we should move forward together.”

Just lately, he’s been demanding that the Premiers stick to the Doherty plan and not keep locking down which sounds all right until you remember that only one state is anywhere near 80% vaccinated, and that’s because they got the lion’s share of the vaccines… Why was that again? Oh, that’s right, they needed them desperately and the other states weren’t going to miss out, NSW was just going to get the extra ones that didn’t exist. Whatever, the Doherty plan kicks in when the population is 70% vaccinated, not when NSW is ok.

I’d say that I’m starting to notice a pattern here, except I’m not. When it came to lockdowns, the same people who were telling us that we needed to “live with Covid” and not be scared, were the ones who suddenly grew concerned about people’s mental health. Yep, when people get depressed looking for jobs or dealing with Centrelink, the response is “Harden up, princess!” but Covid lockdowns are responsible for every mental health problem in the country and we need to open up businesses for the sake of mental health… mainly the mental health of the people who weren’t earning enough to double their donation to the Liberal Party.

As a Victorian whose been locked down more times than Scott Morrison says “Mr Speaker” in a sentence when answering a question, I have to say that lockdowns can be hard on your mental health and it’s very tempting some days to just move to NSW where Golden Gladys has managed a wonderful impersonation of Schrodinger’s Cat.

In the famous thought experiment, the cat was both alive and dead at the same time. Now, I’m not suggesting that Gladys is both alive and dead, but it does seem strange that she is both having the “harshest lockdown Australia has seen” and showing us how to live with the virus without the need for locking down.

Like the people who seem to be able to embrace the idea that we need to worry about mental health while not actually doing much to help people with mental health issues, as well as feeling like the budget has to get back to surplus but we need to give high-income earnings tax cuts, as well as telling us that we can’t afford the NDIS but franking credits refunds to people who don’t earn a taxable income are no problem*, Gladys seems to be able to hold two seemingly contradictory positions at the same time. Yes, she was unlucky in love and that Maguire guy pulled the wool over her eyes, but she should stay Premier because she’s very astute and makes good decisions.

Yes, it’s going to be a difficult month or so until the Federal election. I said October at the start of the year and I’m going to call it a win if it’s in November because, like Scotty’s approach to the vaccines, what difference does a month or two make?

*I should point out yet again that Labor weren’t going to abolish franking credits. People were never going to be taxed twice. They were simply going to stop the practice of giving a franking credit refund to the people who paid no tax which meant that this tax wasn’t even paid once. Generally speaking, the people who benefited from this had little or no TAXABLE income, which meant they could be earning large amounts from their superannuation if they were over sixty or had a clever negative gearing arrangement with several properties.

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Josh and Scotty’s excellent adventure can have no happy ending.

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s snap lockdown forces PM fan-boy, Josh Frydenberg to doss-down at The Lodge, in ScoMo ‘n Frydo’s Canberra Sleepover, a lightweight sitcom pilot about mateship, relatability and who does the washing-up.

In Episode One – An Odd Coupling – scripted by professionally coached, empath and noted folk-orator, Scott “Demosthenes” Morrison, the PM puts up his Treasurer in the now, largely vacant, forty-room, 1927, Georgian revival mansion, the PM’s, Deakin bolt-hole, which, like Old Parliament House, was, wisely, never intended to be a permanent residence. Buoyed by a landmark oration, he preps Josh to flog his vision.

Only Frydenberg could lead by arguing in The Australian that we must open up because we’re all going stir-crazy and our economy is up shit-creek.

Embrace fear, the dark or the dawn – it’s still not clear which – Morrison tells a mystified House of Reps. His pitch includes the idea that The Croods, a 2013 DreamWorks animated movie about cave dwellers, is an allegory for our times. Some MPs are reminded, instead, of the PM’s modest intellectual horizons, which a wag reckons you could easily stroll up to and back before breakfast. Horizons, were all the rage, in June, when the PM flourished a document, coyly entitled Covid Vaccination Horizons.

Leigh Sales made fun of his evasiveness. “One of the grandest euphemisms I’ve seen in 25 years as a journalist.”

And his ear of tin – this is a PM who, lamely, defends his decision to take a family holiday in Hawaii, at the height of the bushfires, a year ago, as equivalent to “a plumber taking that extra contract on a Friday afternoon.”

“Well, gee, I bet it felt good to get that out,” he tells Grace Tame after her moving and powerful speech, detailing her experience of abuse and her determination not to remain silent, at the Australian of the Year Awards.

“Are you better off now than you were 4 million years ago?’ is similarly crass tagline from The Croods, which our PM sees as a parable to help him pitch his proposal that we sacrifice our health, well-being and security in “learning to live with” the Coronavirus pandemic; a “National Plan” of his own devising, which he sprung on the states in July. It’s worked so well, after all, in the UK and in Trump’s USA.

Morrison’s “plan” is a punt; a political gamble with all risk of infection, chronic illness, death and the collapse of the NSW hospital system falling on everyone but himself. Doherty is the fall guy. He’ll do or say anything to secure his own dull, political survival.

A “safe plan,” urges a man who is so desperate to be “the man with a plan” that he invents thousands of lives, (which miraculously become “millions upon millions” in Question Time, Monday), – of lives which we’ve saved already. The concept of extrapolating a figure from other OECD countries is flimsy, if not patently absurd. But the PM spruiks his plan with a reckless desperation. He morphs into your crazy punter mate, the coat tugger, who’s done his all dough but won’t leave you alone; insisting that you put all the money you’ve got left on Dead Certainty in the 4:35 at Doomben.

But Morrison is more malignant than a mug punter. He does not have agreement from the premiers. It’s neither national nor a plan at all. Worse. It’s a white flag of surrender to the virus, an abdication of duty of care and a shameful capitulation to the corporate sociopaths and fat-cat-Liberal Party, mega-donors who call the shots, helped by a servile media; a tamed fourth estate. And Sky all over your web browser.

“We can’t live in lockdown for ever,” Frydenberg smirks, setting up yet another straw man. As if anyone proposes that lockdown is anything but a prudent interim measure.

Tuesday the PM talks up Team Australia, an Abbott era hangover, which ignores the fact that we are neither all of one accord, nor should we ever aspire to be. Nor are we all in this together. The pandemic hurts most those who have fewest resources, the elderly, the poor, recent migrants and first nations’ communities such as Wilcannia.

COVID-19 is rampaging through First Nations communities In western NSW, where, 11.6% if Indigenous Australians are fully vaccinated in contrast to 28.9% of non-Indigenous Australians report Anne Kavanagh, Helen Dickinson and Nancy Baxter in The Conversation. But it’s not as if the federal government did not time to act.

“Our indigenous people”, he shouts, The Great White Bwana of Question Time, patronising and glossing over his government’s abuse and neglect, seen most recently in report of a letter, written eighteen months ago, warning Ken Wyatt, the Morrison government’s Minister for Indigenous Australians of the grave risks faced by Wilcannia.

The Maari Ma Aboriginal health corporation writes to the Minister pleading with him to take action to prevent an outbreak. “Basic mathematics says that by the time our first hospital patient presents, around 100 cases will already exist in the community, and this is based on best case modelling.”

Yet the Morrison government’s response has been “chaotic, substandard and services are vulnerable to collapse” reports The Guardian Australia’s Lorena Allam. By Monday, Wilcannia records sixty-nine coronavirus cases in a population of 720, the highest transmission rate in NSW.

Despite its team rhetoric, inequality has increased during the pandemic, under a Coalition addicted to the myth of trickle-down economics and the lie that tax breaks for the rich lead to a prosperous community. More jobs. Instead, the nation gets a revealing demonstration of how a ruling class looks after its own, as ScoMo puts up Frydo.

Canberra Sleepover is a limited episode, series, artisan-crafted by PM Puffery™ to be a PR repair-patch for FIGJAM Frydenberg, who is overdue for an image upgrade since Julia Banks outed him as one of Scotty’s “bully-boys.”

Monday, Frydenberg’s all over the airwaves droning low, slow and ponderous; talking over those who know the plan is toxic bullshit. Beyond the public coercion of state premiers and chief ministers is a wilful misreading of the flawed Doherty report which is based on small numbers of community infection and a better standard of testing, tracing intervention and quarantine than NSW, the pariah state, will ever muster now after its fatal delay and its failure to take the pandemic seriously, even today.

Showing just how in touch he is with the average Australian, Frydenberg warns ABC Radio National listeners that residents in NSW and Victoria may be able to travel to Canada before Cairns, or Bali, before Perth. Planning an overseas trip may not be the first priority for the twenty-eight percent of NSW’s workforce, now underemployed.

Hours worked in New South Wales in July fell 7%, reports The Guardian’s Greg Jericho, taking a reliable measure of employment. It’s 40.5 million fewer hours in total, the third biggest drop in NSW history. A 0.9% drop in the number of people employed in the state is accompanied by a huge 28% increase in the number of people underemployed.

Rather than overseas flights, Australians will be faced with a health system in crisis. It’s possible that NSW doctors will have to extend their triage to exclude those over seventy from ICU. Already, they are forced to triage to preserve a hospital system, rapidly stretched to capacity. Since 30 July all non-urgent ,elective surgery is postponed.

Morrison also needs a reboot, given recent reports he continues to be rude, crude and abusive towards premiers and their staff, especially when anyone has the hide to seek genuine consultation, or ask what happened to the vax. And while the latest News Poll shows he’s up one per cent in the fatuous preferred PM question, his government is increasingly on the nose.

There is the smell of political death about the PM writes The Canberra Times’ Jack Waterford. The veteran joins Niki Savva in noting the unprecedented shift of power from the commonwealth to the states, a direct function of a weak, untrustworthy PM who increasingly reveals his lack of leadership in National Cabinet meetings. It may take the federation decades to recover from the collapse in Prime Ministerial leadership.

The Coalition’s primary vote drops to 36 per cent, according to News Poll – the party’s lowest since March 2019 and over two points below its May 2019, election result. Yet Labor support rises to 40 per cent – its best result in the poll since December 2018.

As Frydo and ScoMo buddy up, imagine a McCain Man Size Chicken Kiev pinging in the microwave, a few games of pool and Yes Minister on widescreen TV. Frydo, the 26 billion-dollar dill, sets out to regale ScoMo with his hilarious JobKeeper SNAFU. Peta Credlin’s $12 million reno, the cost of two new builds, makes The Lodge almost liveable.

 

 

But Credlin’s eye-watering overspend, helped by thirty changes to the original redesign brief, for a pad Albo never got to crash in, is dwarfed by Frydo’s free money plan. Labor’s Andrew Leigh, who says the Morrison government knew and did nothing about the massive overspend, commissions a report by the Parliamentary Budget Office, (PBO).

“By mid-2020, Scott Morrison and Josh Frydenberg already had a report from Treasury warning that billions of dollars of JobKeeper were going to firms with rising revenue,” Dr Leigh says. “The Morrison government is yet to explain how it saved jobs by giving money to firms such as Best & Less, AP Eagers, Premier Investments and Accent Group.”

Frydenberg was gulled by wily business types – who were only too happy to forecast losses due to Covid – into doling out $25 billion in as many weeks, the PBO reports to the ATO.

A tidy $13 billion goes to firms which increase their profits, reports John Kehoe in the AFR. Laugh? Any other treasurer would get the ATO to raise a debit in their tax return. Bake it into JobKeeper law. It’s already a standard ATO procedure.

But not “business-friendly” Frydenberg. He leaves it up to hard-nosed tycoons to decide. If they want to pay back a lazy $13 billion, they can. Or not, as the case may be. Or so he says. Besides it’s the law, now. His own bad law. It’s an incomprehensible error. A colossal stuff-up, even for a Morrison government, whose pandemic response, alone, combines criminal negligence with a catastrophic failure in quarantine, aged care and vaccine supply and distribution.

For $13 billion, you could build a solar farm covering all of Far North Queensland, the AFR’s Joe Aston, estimates. He’s talking quality German panels not the cheap Uighur slave ones on Fortescue’s solar plant at Chichester.

But let’s not be too harsh. Glad-handed Frydo may be channelling his idol, Ronald Reagan, who, in two terms, took the world’s largest creditor nation to the world’s largest debtor. Reagan also falsely believed he’d served his country in wartime, as he confused his B-grade movie roles with reality, or what vaguely approximates reality, for any US President.

Reagan also helped the US de-industrialise, increased inequality, pushed personal savings into the red and increased government indebtedness, expressed as debt to GDP ratio. Sounds familiar? That’s because we make the same errors. Frydenberg’s certainly doing his bit. Team Australia? It’s a tale of two cities in Sydney, especially.

But $25 billion? It took the ADF fifteen, long, years to get Treasury to blow $25 billion on submarines, AFR’s Joe Aston notes. But that’s a bit unfair. Overnight, February 2015, military genius, Abbott, decreed a new “competitive evaluation process. Instead of tenders for contracts being based on suitability, time and place were the only criteria. Could subs be built in SA? And could a deal be announced in time for his next election campaign? Tony needed to win over a few Liberal MPs to shore up the budgie-smuggler’s waning popularity. A challenge from Fizza Turnbull was in the wind.

But let’s not take away from Frydo’s Olympic gold medal standard stuff-up. No wonder there’s no JobKeeper 2.0.

Fellow incompetent, “Photo-Opp” Morrison whose government is run by Mad Men; spin doctors and fixers, such as “The Butler”, Phil Gaetjens, a personal manservant, who cooks up a fix when the bell rings, as Labor’s Katy Gallagher has it, could swap his shaggy dog story of how he failed to buy vaccine, squibbed his quarantine responsibilities and let over eight hundred old folks die in a privatised aged care system, built to be fit for profit -not fit for purpose.

Phil’s just announced another delay into his investigation into who-knew-what about you-know-who and the Liberal staffer’s alleged, March 2019, rape of Brittany Higgins, who was the junior staffer, her former boss, Linda Reynolds supported by calling “a lying bitch.” Ms Higgins later receives a creepy “sleep tight” voicemail from Michaelia Cash.

ACT DPP, a superbly named, Shane Drumgold, says Gaetjens’ private and top secret inquiry “could be prejudicial” to the case being brought by an ACT police (AFP Canberra Office) with zero experience in bringing a rape case. Yet it’s very hard to see how and why. Morrison is pointedly refusing to guarantee that he will ever release his man-servant’s report. Perhaps it would make sense if we knew what Gaetjens asked Drumgold. Regardless, justice delayed is justice denied.

Still, Phil’s decision, taken after legal advice, will make doubly sure nothing comes out before the next election. It’s the same theme with Christian Porter who was going to clear his name in court, you remember, opting instead to make twenty-three pages of testimony off limits to journalists – held in a special, sealed envelope by the court.

Five weeks ago, ABC’s 7:30 Report challenged Frydo. But the Treasurer hasn’t got back. Because there is no explanation. Scott and Josh have a bit of a giggle over an Ableour single malt. Morrison riffs on his speech. Brags about his plan for an October election, or perhaps the following January, another miracle victory, with Clive’s help, in which he casts himself as setting the nation free from Labor lockdowns.

Cue the PM’s coercive control of the states. How good is taking Peter Doherty’s name in vain so often that the phrase Doherty Report now bears no relation to the original, nuanced, scientific modelling of the same name?

Morrison’s redefined Doherty as a licence to let ‘er rip when we’ve vaccinated 70-80% of the eligible population. Or 56% or 64 % of us, unless you include children in your duty of care and your calculation of risk. Yet he’s counting on our having short memories. It was only last year, August 2020, “Dr Morrison” was telling Sunrise audiences that 95 per cent of Australians would need to be vaccinated for a national immunisation program to be effective.

“You have got to get to herd immunity with any vaccines, and for those who are unable for absolute medical reasons, not able to take vaccines … they are the ones who rely on everybody taking it even more.”

 

 

But in July of that year, the PM was going to the footy, watching his Cronulla Sharks play the Penrith Panthers in an NRL match at the Kogarah Oval. In fact, forget the words, “Doherty” or “Plan”, Morrison has done a series of Olympic-standard backflips to arrive at the very place he began. Behind the thicket of verbiage, it’s “let ‘er rip”.

What Morrison’s urging on the state premiers is that they follow BoJo whose Freedom Day fiasco is followed now by a rise in UK cases, to a total of 6.6 million since February 2020 with 132,376 deaths. But, fear not, fellow cave-dwellers, our bogan with the slogan is also a word-salad wizard and he has twenty-twenty fortune-cookie vision.

“It is always darkest before the dawn, and I think these lockdowns are [a] demonstration of that, but the dawn is not far away and we are working towards that dawn and we are hastening towards the dawn. We should not delay it. We should prepare for it. We should not fear it. We should embrace it. And we should move forward together.”

Morrison’s Delta Dawn won’t go down in history as his finest hour, nor, even earn him an Andy Warhol five minutes of fame. It’s too long for starters. (Anything over five is the province of petty notoriety or infamy – and the hall of shame is already stuffed full with politicians and petty tyrants.) But he’s not bluffing anyone in his National Cabinet hoax.

The PM’s seen as an “evil bully” by Gladys Berejiklian, reports Peter Hartcher, who adds that the NSW Premier’s colleagues reject Dan Andrews’ PM for NSW gibe, in favour of “The PM for Morrison” in a piece which is a clue that just possibly, maybe, the premiers have had a gutful of The Prime Minister for Appearances and Announcements on whom you can rely only for his failure to deliver on his promises – his arrogance and his contempt for accountability.

Nowhere is this better seen in his government’s quarantine debacle. Hotel quarantine has led to twenty-seven outbreaks of Coronavirus, including the current NSW disaster, which quickly spreads across Victoria’s border where by Tuesday, seventy-six cases are reported out of a total of 841 and more mystery cases mean that the state-wide lockdown will not be lifted Thursday.

Cue another anti-Dan pile-on from our Murdoch-led media claque. Expect more anti-lockdown, Dictator Dan sniping. Look over there. Let’s not dwell on the 16 thousand, nine hundred active cases in NSW or its 137 deaths and 1164 cases since the pandemic began, Tuesday. Pollyanna Gladys is upbeat about the good times just around the corner. Or after October. Or whenever. She appears on Sky News urging other premiers to support the bogus national plan repeating the Morrison lie that they have “signed off” on it. All they have is a Clayton’s “agreement in principle.”

There is no corresponding clamour to rush to end lockdown from states such as South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, or territories such as the ACT and NT where the virus is yet to run rampant.

“There is simply no way Queensland or Western Australia are going to open their borders to people from NSW while the virus is running rampant in that state, and nor will Victoria, the ACT, Tasmania or SA commit to any course of action that will obviously endanger their populations,” notes The Monthly’s Nick Feik.

Scotty’s Office wonks are slaving to depict The Blue-Tongued Lizard of Oz, as our heroic liberator, battling Labor premiers who white-ant a national agreement -and also at war with Labor HQ, Federal Opposition’s yellow-bellied snakes -and what’s left of the left – after Labor’s tax and carbon abatement concessions and The Murdoch Empire’s jihad on Labor, joined by mining and media billionaire, Kerry Stokes’ Seven, a Liberal Party COMM’s Department outlet. And don’t forget Sky over everything networked.

The federal government pitch is you choose between its safe plan or you lose your freedoms, your jobs, your picnics, weddings, parties, everything and business goes bust. St Peter (Doherty) says. Amen. It’s a travesty of the real report.

Everywhere in our Vaccination Plan we’re hitting our marks, the PM claims. Yet as with fan-girl, Typhoid Mary Berejiklian, the PM over promises and under-delivers; he’s more your Uber Eats than Ubermensch.

A freedom Deliveroo will be heard ringing his bicycle bell to give us back our libertarian birthright. Never mind that federal government will soon legally “hack into or alter” your online communication, as its Surveillance Legislation Amendment (Identify and Disrupt) became law, last Wednesday.

Neoliberals commodify everything and each other, as freedom rider, Auntie Gladys B, NSW’s lame duck Liberal Premier, makes clear in bizarre attempts, this week, to equate getting your hair or nails done with emancipation. Weddings with up to five guests are permitted as of Saturday, she says, but you’ll have to do your own hair and nails.

NSW schools will open late October in a staggered start plan which includes wishful thinking about younger children wearing masks, if they wish, and overlooks the fact that even “fully vaccinated teachers” can still carry a full viral load.

In this rosy-tinted perspective, there is no room for the fact that the world is a giant petri dish of eight billion people and that as fast we get vax into arms, the virus is mutating. Our current Pfizer and AZ may be become less effective, after four or five months, according to recent studies. There already is excellent medical advice advocating a booster but there is also evidence that new variants of concern in South Africa, such as B1.351 for example, pose a challenge in being fifty per cent more transmissible and possibly, less susceptible to existing vaccines.

But the dominant narrative in our media monopoly is simplistic. Scotty’s gold standard Premier helps turn NSW into ground zero of the Delta wave sweeping Australia, but Gladys promises the full nail bar, wax , tan and hair salon extravaganza as a reward for good behaviour. We will get through this, she claims, citing vaccination rates as cause for celebration when the bigger picture is far more complex.

But just for now, it would be refreshing to hear some acceptance of responsibility. The state was too slow to get its lockdown act together and its efforts are hampered by a shortage of vaccine and a reliance on hotel quarantine despite the federal government having had more than enough time to construct dedicated facilities. In frustration, Queensland and Victoria are building their own, but it’s a federal responsibility.

The gracious granting of spurious freedoms in exchange for nominated rates of vaccination compliance is a crass PR stunt. The 70-80 but effectively 56% -64% rates are too low and the freedoms do nothing to alter the fact that had her government acted in a timely and effective manner, the virus would not have got out of hand. Failing to exercise duty of care is not repaired by easing restrictions when It is unsafe to do so.

Blue tongue? NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, won’t deny that Morrison drops the “F” bomb to make clear there would be no JobKeeper for NSW workers in a “National Cabinet” exchange reported by Niki Savva whose sources inform her that the “tired and cranky” PM let his temper get the better of him – as bullies do.

Readers will recall, as Peter Gutwein, must, when the PM is reported to have called him a “fucking mendicant” in 2018, in a meeting convened to reach agreement over sharing the GST, a report, the Tassie premier, now disputes. Begs off.

Poor Mr Gutwein is rushed to hospital, after a recent bad turn at work, but latest report is of no serious condition, other than being a member of National Cabinet, which is less a consultative body than a screen for a PM who can’t lead. Increasingly, leaks depict premiers telling the PM what they think of him and what they plan to do in their states.

Of course, none of this sits well with a PM who not only has tin ear but also a glass jaw.

Government sources, quickly, point out that “if anyone had a go at Perrottet he probably deserved it” – which is the type of blame-the-victim response you’d expect from a party with a toxic culture as Julia Banks puts it.

Our glorious and noble rout in Kabul triggers a round of Anzackery, flatulent claptrap and patriotic humbug from MPs behind newly-erected Perspex pandemic barricades giving a novel spit level transparency to parliamentary proceedings. And an eviction.

“There are thousands of Australians and their loved ones who are only in Afghanistan because you haven’t processed their visas for years and now you are leaving them to die,” Labor MP Julian Hill shouts, accusing the Morrison government of “killing my constituents” before Speaker, Tony Smith throws Hill out, along with truth and compassion. While Hill’s electorate has a high percentage of Afghan refugees and migrants, you would hope others abhor the cruel injustice.

There is little in MPs responses that acknowledge the failure of our foreign adventure but, instead, they relegate the complex issues of foreign policy failure and the human tragedy of our ill-fated intervention to the ANZAC level of veneration of lofty ideals and noble rhetoric that misses the grotesque obscenities of imperialist warmongery.

Doubtless the Morrison government’s decision to cut and run will be lauded as an heroic rescue, despite the leaving of thousands of Afghan collaborators behind. No heed will be paid to our abrupt closing of the Australian Embassy in Kabul in May, which would send an unambiguous signal of commitment to retreat – to both Taliban and groups of terrorists, harboured in Afghanistan and the Taliban’s big supporter, Pakistan.

Hope surges in a nation’s heart, however, as independent, Craig Kelly, claims he’ll lead mining billionaire Clive Palmer’s UAP, a type of Trojan virus or even a political hack registered as a political party. Kelly’s also got an anti-vax bill he’d like to introduce.

And with Kelly on the team, Clive need not fret about having enough members. On the other hand, he’s already had to undermine Kelly who as party leader had the odd notion he’d be able to dictate policy, such as running anti-lockdown candidates. Palmer says instead that Kelly will have “input into policy,” as part of the Party Executive.

Politics is show biz for ugly people – and UAP does provide an exhibitionist outlet for Palmer’s pals and extended family clan, but UAP’s main purpose is to let Clive tell targeted anti-Labor lies on social media and older media next election.

UAP won’t win a seat, but its preferences go to the pro-mining Liberals. How good is gaming our electoral system? And there’s a poetic justice in Kelly’s new career, too.

Who better to inspire the flagging spirits of an ailing nation than “Wellness” Kelly, another mountebank peddling snake oil? Yet these are dangerous fake cures for coronavirus, such as the de-wormer, Ivermectin and malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. Nothing can be done, of course, because the government needs his vote.

Bonus points. A former Liberal energy and climate guru, Kelly is also a former small businessman, the sainted backbone of the nation. Amen. But a flawed saint.

Kelly, who appears in Kiwi court documents as a listed director of DVK International – and, therefore, liable for $4 million, his family furniture sales business owed staff and creditors when it went bankrupt. Luckily, it’s all a mistake as Kelly says, because the constitution does not permit undischarged bankrupts to be MPs.

Moral bankruptcy doesn’t count. An increasingly unpopular, unscrupulous and devious Morrison omnishambles may spring a General Election upon unwary voters as early as October, or if not, Australia Day, as MPs peddle their Crosby Textor stable of spin-doctors’ myth of an heroic PM standing up for our freedom, against a gang of bolshie lockdown state premiers, especially the Labor traitors.

Premiers and Chief Ministers just don’t get that a National Agreement exists just because Morrison says it does. Nor do they understand that we’ve got to learn to live with Covid and not be bullied into lockdowns; ruining the economy. In Friday’s faux national cabinet, state leaders learn that the nation may well be able to increase intensive care beds by 944 places – but has staff to operate only 346, at best, reports Rick Morton in The Saturday Paper.

Together with the smell of political death, there is a desperation about the Morrison government as it gambles on being able to politicise the pandemic before victims of its own failure to provide enough vaccine or quarantine in time, to say nothing of its aged care failure confront it – before it is forced by the suffering it inflicts on a nation becomes too widespread even for this government to deny. Or evade. Or explain away, poorly with its straw men or its spurious statistics from pandemic deaths in other countries.

In the meantime, Josh and Scotty’s excellent adventure in the Lodge is a bromance or even a type of marriage of convenience which illustrates vividly the values of a government which has spent years refining its objective, which is simply to stay in power by whatever means available. Look after its donor class come what may.

Politicising the pandemic, however, is a risky business and the PM’s desperate gamble against time may backfire as his mind-numbing rhetoric of bumper-sticker slogans fails to gain traction amidst a nightmare world of real pain, fear, suffering and rampaging contagion, his inept, ill-prepared government for a rich and powerful corporate oligarchy by a rich, privileged and entirely self-centred elite, has unerringly helped bring about.

Above all, it’s hard to pose as the nation’s saviour when you’ve lied and backstabbed your way to power so openly that no-one in their right mind would ever trust you.

In the end, however, what will count the most against Morrison’s chances will be when CEOs realise that his government’s plan to end lockdown and let the pandemic rage will, in fact, end up costing them a lot of money. It has everywhere else in the world.

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In the Liberal world empathy is as scarce as vaccines

The Macquarie Dictionary defines empathy as “the mental entering into the feeling or spirit of a person or thing; appreciative perception or understanding. Empathy comes from the Greek word empátheia. In German the word is “Einfühlung”.

Whatever its origin, or its roots, empathy is not part of the game plan of the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Nor is empathy part of the lexicon of the prime minister of Australia, Scott Morrison.

Yes, I know he’s a good Christian, and Premier Berejiklian is part of the Armenian diaspora, renowned for its ancient Christian faith, but not once has either leader expressed a modicum of empathy. And yet this is what we the people yearn for from our leaders in this crisis of the century.

People are dying from Covid-19. We are enduring an epidemic within a pandemic, and yet all we get is an obligatory “heartfelt sadness for the loss of a loved one” day in and day out at press conferences.

It is not as though we the people do not have a collective memory of the calamity of epidemics past. Of course, we do!

Many of us remember our dead loved ones via some of the finest music, art and literature created in the last 100 years or so.

Who among us can hold back tears as we listen to Gustav Mahler’s Adagietto from his Symphony Number Five, also known as Death in Venice, a novel, by the German writer Thomas Mann? Or the remarkable Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde by Richard Wagner. The German word, Liebestod, means love and death.

This is now the daily reality for hundreds of Australians.

Thomas Mann, Richard Wagner, Gustav Mahler… each had one thing in common. All created art in the shadow of disease and death.

Measles, Mumps, Rubella, which killed my oldest sister, Scarlet Fever, Polio… all thankfully scourges of the past. And we have the music of the three artists, to help us come to terms with the unspeakable loss of a loved one.

And then we have Scott Morrison and Gladys Berejiklian.

I don’t intend to enumerate all their shortcomings in this essay; the mainstream media is awash with analysis. But I choose to focus on one aspect of the current calamity which, in my opinion, draws a line beneath the lack of empathy of both leaders.

Look no further than the 2021 Closing the Gap Report.

And then watch NSW Deputy Premier John Barilaro describe the daily Covid-19 calamity occurring in Aboriginal communities in Far Western New South Wales.

Empathy? It does not exist. Instead, we get a daily regurgitation of abject nonsense like this excretable example published on June 11th 2021, by the Voice of Freedom itself, The Institute of Public Affairs.

If you can’t be bothered reading this tripe, at least hold your nose and follow the bouncing ball over this shocker of a paragraph written by a nobody called Daniel Wild, who describes himself thus: Daniel previously worked at the Commonwealth Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet where he analysed global and domestic macroeconomic policy.

Take a deep breath… and go.

“The NSW Government has been far from perfect in its handling of the virus. But at least it doesn’t place residents under 23-hour-a day house arrest because someone hundreds of kilometres away may have walked past someone who may have had Covid. Instead, NSW has tolerated a small number of new daily cases of coronavirus without resorting to lockdowns.”

For the record this apathetic twaddle was originally published in The Herald-Sun.

Now fast forward to Tuesday August 31, 2021 when New South Wales listed 1,164 Covid-19 cases and four deaths. In Victoria, the number is 76. None in the Liberal state of Tasmania, none in the Liberal state of South Australia (as of August 30) ditto, Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia, Labor states.

Until we change this government, we can look forward to months of apathy: “a lack of feeling; the absence of passion, emotion, excitement, or energy. Lack of interest in things which others find moving or exciting. Apathía, from the Greek apátheia, insensibility.”

As for me, I’ll take my empathy via these six minutes of perfection:

 

 

 

Henry Johnston is an author based in the Blue Mountains. His latest book, The Last Voyage of Aratus is on sale here.

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