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Category Archives: News and Politics

Where dogs go to die

Reality check:

“ … and she said, we’re all like pigs slapped down some lane, our grassbrains singing toward the blade … ”  (Charles Bukowski).

So now that we’ve got a new secretary of the ACTU, elected to the accolades of the many … I heard her first speech to the National Press Club, refreshing in its “unpolished” honesty; direct and firm in its delivery with no mistaking the intent and decision. We’ve heard enough from spivs and spielers. And she answered the questions from the Press Gallery with short, sharp, succinct replies. No messing around with that coterie of cunning bastards!

But it’s no use setting her up on a pedestal and then hanging her out on her own to take all the flak from the cowardly LNP and the mainstream media (MSM), for that is about to happen as sure as night follows day. We’ve already heard from the leader of the Government that he didn’t think he could work with her. as if he ever could “work” with any union or union leader. The Murdoch media will be already on her case, researching all the weak spots and vulnerabilities before they are all over her like a bad attack of the pox. Montezuma’s Revenge! Those filth best attuned to attacking all those less capable of defending themselves, like the most craven bullies, will be pushing their lap-dogs in the Parliament to come down on the unions like a ton of bricks. We have to be ready for them, for they underestimate our strength as much as they overestimate their capability.

The MSM runs on bluff. They are will-o-the-wisps, all smoke and mirrors. The LNP/IPA crowd are cowards, all of them. Gutless cowards every man-Jack /woman-Jill. There is no real threat from that quarter, but it is their pay-masters who will be out there slinging the stones and arrows, seeking to get as many of the voting public on-side to do as much damage to union credibility as possible through those miserable creatures in their pay; the journalists. These will lead the attack, and it is these we will have to strike back at. And strike back with all the verbal ammunition at our disposal, for we are no longer the quiet passive voice of the silent majority – no longer passive listeners to those carping from the tower of the MSM platforms delivering their version of the stories of strikes and stoppages. We now have our own media platform and we know how to use it! We will now control the story, we will deliver the truth, we will be what the MSM has failed to be: the legitimate Fourth Estate to our democracy!

No! With the election of the new ACTU secretary, and her delivery of the ultimatum of; “No more … no more” cutting of the wages of workers and the cheating of low-paid workers and the destruction of our social services, the barricades have been erected and now we; the people are needed to man those barricades, for it is no use expecting either the unions or the leaders of the unions to cop the flak on their own. We have to be here covering them and ready and willing to counter-attack when the time is needed … for it will come, as sure as night following day, it will come as it has come every time the working class. The producing class has stood up to the vile and violent ruling class. So whenever any of the MSM comes out with an attack upon the union and/or its leadership, consider it an attack upon ourselves – for that is what it is – and then attack back at that individual journalist. And spare no measure when doing so, for they will not show any consideration nor mercy toward any one of us they want to destroy..

Consider how they attacked relentlessly the Gillard Government through Julia Gillard herself.

Consider how they attacked the Whitlam Government through Gough Whitlam himself.

Consider how they attacked the Dunstan Government through Don Dunstan himself (and his partner; Adele Kohl).

Consider how they attacked Carmen Lawrence, Paul Keating and any number of Labor leaders and those Union leaders and members (through the TURC. Kangaroo court) … too numerous to mention..

Consider most of all as a reminder of their viciousness: How they attacked that one citizen on QandA who just asked the one simple question. One question and he was hunted down and vilified to the point of having to seek shelter from the cowardly witch-hunt. It could well have been anyone of us. And there were others, many others and groups of the vulnerable. The Murdoch press specialise in cruel vilification. So do not feel the slightest sympathy for these criothans. They are but traitors enjoying the largess showered upon them from a foreign national intent on using his media platform to destabilise, demoralise and sabotage the interests of our State. His creatures sheltering under the protection of their Australian passports while they do his bidding. Traitors to both their nation and the people.

So come out when the dogs of the LNP/MSM/Business Council of Australia (BCA) are let loose upon the citizens. Come out and join the community to fight against those bastards who would steal our sovereignty and plunder our resources and pay no taxes for the pleasure … a privilege granted to them from their political lap-dogs.

So come onto the streets and onto the pages of social media in defence of all our rights, and reflect that though you may be the first of your family to be able to attend a university and receive that good education, let it not be the last. And let your children have the chance too of moving out of the poverty-trap set and sprung by the “born-to-rule” class. If we do not owe it to the past generations who suffered and struggled for the working classes, we do owe it to the future generations who will need good, fair governance.

So come out one. Come out all to “man the barricades” and shout the slogans and sing the anthems of the people. Shout the demands for the people. And let the grasping, cruel, greedy trash of the LNP/IPA/BCA fully understand that these demands are by the people!

So if you want to know where dogs go to die, they slink off to some hole in the ground … some den of iniquity to lick their wounds and with their tail between their legs curl up in a foetal ball and expel their last breath of air – just like a defeated LNP apparatchik.

Day to Day Politics: Murdoch’s mysterious millions.

Saturday 22 July 2017

1 What a mystery it is. In the last budget $30 million is given to the Murdoch owned Foxtel. There is no explanation as to what it’s for, who authorised it, or why. Even the Telecommunications Minister Mitch Fifield has not the slightest idea as to how it got into the budget.

Or so he reckons. $30 million just doesn’t appear in the budget papers without some sort of discussion. No paper trail exists. A spokeswoman for Mr Fifield said the decision to give money to Foxtel was part of the Turnbull government’s broader media reform package.

The most plausible explanation I have heard so far comes from Director of the Australian Shareholders Association Stephen Mayne who said he believed the government gave Foxtel the money to avoid making an enemy with the Murdoch media.

”Because the free to air networks were all getting a licence fee cut in the budget and the government wants to keep sweet with all of the media,” he said.

They didn’t want to have an enemy in the Murdoch’s so they just gave them $30 million and then had to come up with a reason.”

They just gave them $30 million of taxpayer’s money.

No oversight as to how it could be sent. No agreement. No obligation. They certainly know how to spend our money. $90 million for ill-treating refugees. $200 million for a plebiscite to find out what we already know.

Surely when you give a company the size of Foxtel there would have to be some guidelines, some terms and conditions, some deliverables. At the moment we’re just in the dark as to what they are, if indeed there are any.

Three years ago the Abbott government was going to close down the Freedom of Information (FOI) office until Turnbull came along, in a fit of grandiose righteousness, and saved it.

But any attempt to find out about Murdoch’s millions via the FOI office have been met with blank stares.

Doing a ‘Turnbull/Transparency’ search on Google rewards you with 10 references to transparency.

And that’s only page one.

When Turnbull replaced Abbott as Prime Minister he immediately promised a more open and transparent government. This is another failure. The $30 million was rather succinctly buried in the last budget.

For the Minister to refuse to comment implies he is incompetent, a fool or plain dumb.

”A Freedom of Information (FOI) request filed by ABC Radio Melbourne’s Mornings program, seeking correspondence between Foxtel and the department, was declined on the basis of no such documents existing.”

”In declining access, the Legal Director for the Department of Communications and the Arts “refuse(d) access to the requested documents under subsection 24A(1) of the FOI Act, as I am satisfied that documents falling within the scope of your request do not exist”.

This is but one example of the lack of transparency and the born to rule way in which this government is treating its constituents.

The dog ate my homework excuse will no cut it with the wiser voter.

2 For those who didn’t click onto the link I provided to Sean Kelly’s piece for The Monthly Today last Tuesday, here is some more of his description of Peter Dutton.

”Last month, Dutton defended his new language test for would-be citizens, saying that in its objections Labor was confusing two different types of tests. A world-leading languages expert said, in fact, both tests required the same level of English.  

In May this year, after Yassmin Abdel-Magied had unreservedly apologised for a controversial tweet about Anzac Day, Dutton applauded the ABC for axing her TV show, and said, ”One down, many to go.”

Also in May, after Fairfax journalists went on strike to protest sackings, Dutton said productivity at Fairfax had gone up during the strike, and urged people not to read Fairfax papers.

In April, seeking to justify his citizenship changes, Dutton said you’d expect migrants to send their kids to school. When it was pointed out to him that this was already required by law, he had no answer. He also said domestic violence offenders should not be let into the country, but was unable to explain how existing police checks would not pick up on this.

Also in April, Dutton agreed with radio host Ray Hadley that Newspolls were a fair measure on which to judge Turnbull’s performance, and that at some point that would affect his leadership.

In December last year, Dutton told Hadley that the story of a school that had not sung Christmas carols at its year-end assembly made his “blood boil”. Attacking political correctness, he said, “We need to rise up against it.”

In November last year, Dutton implicitly condemned an entire migrant community, spanning generations, when he agreed with Andrew Bolt that Malcolm Fraser had made a mistake back in the ‘’1970s in resettling Lebanese–Muslim refugees.

In August last year, Dutton said refugees were setting themselves on fire as a way to get to Australia.

Also in August, asked whether there would be an investigation into reports of abuse on Nauru, given the PM’s speedy response to allegations of abuse in the Northern Territory, Dutton responded, “Nauru is not part of Australia, so this is an issue for the Nauruan government.” He also described the reports of abuse as “hype”.

In May last year, after a second refugee in detention set themselves on fire, Dutton sought to blame refugee activists for inciting the act.

Also in May, Dutton said that refugees would simultaneously take Australian jobs and languish in unemployment queues. He accused those refugees of being illiterate and innumerate in their own language and in English.

In January last year, Dutton referred to a journalist as a “mad fucking witch” in a text message, then accidentally sent that journalist the text.

Finally, back when Dutton was the health minister, a reader poll for Australian Doctor magazine found that Dutton was the worst federal health minister of the past 35 years.”

Is this the sort of man you want literally dripping with power?

The debate around his appointment to head the Mega ministry that will combine our spy agencies, the Federal Police, Immigration and Border Protection seems to be that it was a political decision to, by giving him such massive power, it will adhere him to Turnbull.

These departments that Dutton will head are given billions and billions of dollars to protect us from the ravages of terrorism.

Given that ABS stats on deaths by terrorist activity for the period 1978-2014 show that 113 Australians lost their lives. Yes, that’s right. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism. By comparison this year around 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.The government has spent over $33 billion on counter terrorism measures in Australia since 9/11. In that time 2 people have died in Australia from terrorism.”

It seems to me that the government is placing its faith in the wrong man simply to appear tough on terrorism and the aforementioned figures would suggest that if we really wanted to save lives we should re prioritize our spending.

A number of ministers apparently argued against the decision and none of the departments requested it.

3 An update from the Poll Bludger reveals that:

ReachTEL: 51-49 to Labor

The Coalition gets a better federal voting intention result from ReachTEL, although the result would be more typical of recent polling of preferences are applied as per the 2016 election result.

Essential Research: 54-46 to Labor

Labor maintains its wide lead in an Essential Research poll that also gauges opinion on party polarisation, same-sex marriage and foreign leaders.

BludgerTrack: 53.0-47.0 to Labor

A bit of a fillip for Labor in the latest reading of the BludgerTrack poll aggregate, and also for Bill Shorten whose net approval rating has edged ahead of Malcolm Turnbull’s.

My thought for the day.

”Just because we are governed by clowns it doesn’t mean we have to laugh.”

 

Day to Day Politics: 6 Months of Trump sewage and the lake overflows.

Friday 21 July 2017

When in February of 2016 I was invited to write a piece for the US political blog Crooks and Liars about Donald Trump I did so with the thought innermost in my mind that he would drift from the American psyche long before the Republican Convention. He would never become President.

My piece was titled “Only in America”. It received a lot of comment and I was even sent some emails by Americans thanking me for taking the time to write about my concerns for America.

I had thought that despite some misgivings about American culture and society, Americans were not stupid. They wouldn’t elect this moron. Then they did. How naïve I was.

It makes what I wrote about him at the time seemingly lacking in all understanding of American politics. But if that is so, then there are many Americans guilty of the same gullibility.

Part of what I wrote is this:

“From down under (Australia) we see a sick deluded man of no redeeming features, full of racial hatred, bile and misogyny. A deluded pathetic liar unsuitable for the highest office in the land, if not the world.

He sees complex problems and impregnates them with popularism and implausible black and white solutions.

He is a person of limited intellect and understanding only capable of seeing the world through the prism of his own wealth. The far edges of knowledge seem to have passed him by. Matters requiring deep philosophical consideration seem beyond him.

His opinions on subjects of internal and international importance are so shallow that one would think he spent the entirety of his youth in the wading pool at the local swimming pool, or 6 years in grade six and never academically advanced.

He is a crash through politician with a ubiquitous mouth, Trump remains an incoherent mess who bounces back after each disaster thinking he has been impressive while those around him are laughing their heads off.

Entertaining in a uniquely American way he might be to the hillbillies but leadership requires worldly character.

America voted in an ignoramus of first world order, as President. It might be said that my description of Trump has descended into what Americans call hyperbole.

If I have I make no apologies.”

Since being elected Trump has continued on his lamentably bombastic way insulting all and sundry saying the most ridiculous things. His lying is at unprecedented levels.

He has been unable to put in place any of the policies promised during the campaign. Major failures being the replacement of Obamacare and the great wall of Mexico.

Without a healthcare deal, Trump will mark six months in office without a major legislative achievement.

So incompetent is the Republican Party that after 7 years of promising to find a replacement for Obamacare they have been unable to do so.

Formulating policies without any detail has become a Trump trademark.

So scandal ridden has Trump, and his family been, that the word impeachment is raised recurrently.

In his six months of office his Presidency has been noted for its day after day controversies that feed the nightly news bulletins. The employment of inexperienced family members has been a unmitigating disaster with the probability that his son will go to prison.

He is slowly drowning in the scandal-ridden Washing Lake that he said he was going to drain.

“Only in America” is the right to hate one another enshrined in law, as is a law allowing the killing of its citizens with weapons of war.

Never in my considerable lifetime has the United States been at a lower ebb. Its communal cohesion and social morality is moribund in a pit of timeless racism and yet some are putting their faith in a racist without any integrity to fix it.

On top of that this trumped-up buffoon voted as it’s Vice President, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a member of the Tea Party, a Christian who believes that climate change is nonsense and that smoking does not cause death.

He’s well-regarded by evangelical Christians, particularly after signing a law that critics said would allow businesses to deny service to gay people for religious reasons.

He does not believe in evolution. He’s pro guns, anti-abortion and homophobic.

What frustrates me, as an outsider is when I scan a range of media comments derogatory to Trump they seemingly do nothing to dent his popularity amongst Conservatives. Certainly recent polling suggests he is the most unpopular leader ever. Having said that, 85% of Republicans feel he is doing a good job.

The GOP – the Grand Old Party now has a leader whose autocratic instincts move him to praise dictators and tyrants, who has no respect for the First Amendment, is a practiced liar, a misogynist, a religious bigot, a racist and an anti-Semite. Some say he’s a buffoon, others a demagogue.

He won endorsements from the Ku Klux Klan and the white supremacists that have been on the rise since an African-American was elected president in 2008. A Republican Party colleague likens Trump to Mussolini and Hitler; another described him as ‘the most vulgar person to ever aspire to the presidency’.

New Republic has described him as an:

” … obscene figure, Trump boasts about the size of his manhood – and the use to which he has put it. And he seems to revel in the revulsion he causes in the party’s establishment.”

They can’t all be wrong.

Now I know Americans don’t like outsiders telling them how to run the show (part of the problem, actually) but they need to take a step back and deeply consider what this mentally deficient person is doing.

By electing Trump America has reinforced a worldwide view that it is a deeply backward country seriously in decline.

My thought for the day.

“Power is a malevolent possession when you are prepared to forgo your principles and your country’s well-being for the sake of it.”

Archaic Obstacles: Australia, Parliament and Dual Citizenship

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

Dusting away the must on a constitutional text may be a rare thing, but it should be a point of order for the elected officials of a country. Often, these contain laws that are irretrievably archaic, and resist change by virtue of being embedded in a document deliberated over in another age.

The one provision in the Australian Constitution that has received considerable attention of late is section 44, one unmistakably dull yet absolute in effect: “Any person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.”

It is a provision that nabs the unsuspecting member of Parliament who discovers, by self-pursuit or otherwise, that he or she is, in fact, seized of the loyalty of another state, with its “rights or privileges”. A mere snifter of benefit from a foreign power disentitles and disables.

This was the situation Greens Senators Larissa Waters and Scott Ludlam found themselves when they discovered that their previous nationalities (in Waters’ case, Canada, in Ludlam’s, New Zealand) had not been extinguished by the act of naturalisation. This bumbling did not just come at some cost to the Greens: it also excised two able working representatives who risk being hounded for their pay.

The resignations precipitated a dash in the halls of Parliament, with members rushing to consult paperwork, embassies and home offices as to what, exactly, their status might be. Of 23 other Australian MPs and senators born overseas, a near half have made public announcements about their position.

Springing into action with an enthusiastic rumble was Labor Senator Sam Dastyari, who admitted to forking out a good $25,000 in the process of giving up his Iranian citizenship. The ones to profit heartily from the endeavour seemed to have been those “two teams of lawyers (Australian and Iran)”. Apostasy to a state can be a dear business indeed.

Some of the responses were drawn from the bottomless pit of faux patriotism, sounding more relieved than sensible. Ian Goodenough sought confirmation from the Singapore High Commission, who “unequivocally confirmed I’m part of Team Australia.”[1]  (The good member of parliament was also good enough to sport a hat and snap a shot of himself in front of the Australian flag).

Matthias Corman, much to the disappointment of some, merely confirmed that his Belgian citizenship had ceased to exist in accordance with that country’s laws. (Good timing, that). Derryn Hinch, born in New Zealand, also passed muster, claiming that he, rather than Ludlam, had been the original target of Perth constitutional lawyer John Cameron. “Ludlam was actually collateral damage.”

Hinch has since focused his ire on Liberal Senator Eric Abetz.  “It turns out that Abetz only renounced his German citizenship in 2010,” claimed Hinch to radio host Neil Mitchell. “He was a Senator long before that.  So, why isn’t he in the gun?”[2]

On that score, Hinch is trawling over old news. Antique dealer John Hawkins had tabled a petition in the Court of Disputed Returns in 2010 asking that the High Court declare Abetz unfit to remain in the Senate. John Sackar QC, acting on Hawkins’ behalf, withdrew the petition once evidence was revealed showing that the senator had renounced his German citizenship.

One Nation climate change sceptic and comical fantasist Malcolm Roberts got on with the business of confessing to being true blue to earth and soil (his leader Pauline Hanson, would have had it no other way) despite being born in India in 1955, before throwing a few grenades of his own. “On another note, I do not own, nor have I ever owned, a 7-11. I’m not even a chucker.”[3]  Because Indians (as opposed to Sri Lankans) have such proclivities on the cricket field.

But the pearl in this swinish lot would have been former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who staved off critics at the pass by producing a letter from January 5, 2015 from UK Visas & Immigration showing that he had renounced his British citizenship prior to entering federal politics. As with other amateur sleuths, Abbott had had his own agitator, a certain Tony Magrathea who failed to net his quarry.[4]

Due diligence, as it tends to be called, requires combing, investigation and verification. But section 44 remains an anachronism in an age where dual nationality has become a pressing reality, less a matter of patriotism than access. Nothing gets away from the fact that Ludlam and Waters were also Australian tax-paying citizens who could also be electors. That they could not be sitting members in a legal sense will be the stinging travesty in all of this.

All chat about reform is fine and good, until one realises how grindingly difficult it is to adjust the wording of Australia’s functional, as opposed to aspirational, document. In a rather odd twist of fate, the change would be, not to add a right so much as to remove an impediment. The constitution continues being more a poor bill of fare than a bill of rights.

 

[1] https://twitter.com/IanGoodenoughMP/status/887242838978711552?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.abc.net.au%2Fnews%2F2017-07-19%2Faustralian-politicians-born-overseas-jump-to-clarify-citizenship%2F8721994

[2] http://www.3aw.com.au/derryn-hinch-turns-citizenship-blowtorch-on-liberal-senator/

[3] https://twitter.com/SenatorMRoberts/status/887187235543539713?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.businessinsider.com.au%2Fone-nations-malcolm-roberts-offered-proof-he-wasnt-an-indian-citizen-then-followed-it-up-with-a-racist-tweet-2017-7

[4] http://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2017/07/14/tony-abbott-citizenship/

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Day to Day Politics: Is Dutton much worse than this?

Thursday 20 July 2017

Have you ever so desperately wanted to express a view on a subject only to find that someone else has encapsulated everything you wanted to say perfectly in his words? It happened to me on Tuesday. I put the subject on my list to write about only to receive Sean Kelly’s daily Monthly Today email titled:

A super poor decision

Malcolm Turnbull shouldn’t have promoted Peter Dutton

He starts with the thoughtful proposition of what if someday someone truly awful was in control new mega department.

”Whenever a government proposes concentrating power in the hands of a single individual, a predictable objection is always raised: “Yes, perhaps this might work in the immediate future, but what if one day there is somebody truly awful in this position? That’s what we have to worry about.

Today, there was no need for hypotheticals. Malcolm Turnbull has created a new super department, combining Border Force, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, and the Office of Transport Security. Will it be run by somebody competent, like Simon Birmingham? Or somebody reasonable, like Julie Bishop?

No. It will be headed up by somebody truly awful: Peter Dutton.

Longtime readers will know that I hold Dutton in deep contempt, so you might not wish to trust my entrenched opinion.”

Before you read Mr Kelly’s piece please consider the following:

ABS stats on deaths by terrorist activity for the period 1978-2014 show that 113 Australians lost their lives. Yes, that’s right. In 36 years 113 people have died from terrorism. By comparison this year around 730 will die from Domestic Violence and around 2500 will take their own lives.

My thought for the day

It seems to me that the wisest people I know are the ones that apply reason, and logic and leave room for doubt. The most unwise are the fools and fanatics who don’t.”

Threatening Mergers: The Turnbull Home Affairs Plan

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

“Among the many objects which a wise and free people find it necessary to direct their attention, that of providing for their safety seems to be first” (John Jay, The Federalist Papers, No. 3).

In true Orwellian fashion, the best way to realise a sinister idea is to gloss it with disarming innocuousness. Britain has the Home Office, a catch-all entity that oversees a series of functions that give the impression it is no more threatening than a domestic servant of the people. In reality, it has the sorts of powers that are the envy of liberal democratic states. With the Brexit push, these powers will only increase.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the United States embarked on a process that irretrievably frayed liberties through the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, involving the “the integration of all or part of 22 different federal department and agencies into a unified, integrated Department”.[1]

Unsurprisingly, the primary mission of the department, stipulated in the Homeland Security Act of 2002 among a list of objects, was to “prevent terrorist attacks within the United States” and “reduce the vulnerability of the United States to terrorism”.

In a document proposing the creation of such a unified department, President George W. Bush literally noted that “no one single government agency has homeland security as its primary mission.” He went on to highlight the fact that “responsibilities for homeland security are dispersed among more than 100 different government organisations.”[2]

Such moves had the all too worrying elements of Gleischaltung about it, a fitting word born in the mind of Nazi officials keen to coordinate the standardisation and centralisation of state functions in the name of ideology and combating threats. While the DHS has not been quite so thorough, it has not been for want of trying.

Much of this came up in the somnambulism that followed those terrorist attacks.  With the shock still paralytic, legislation such as the USA PATRIOT Act was rushed through with minimal perusal. The Republic has been reeling from this ever since, a victim of unwarranted surveillance, misguided wars, and a sleepwalking Congress less mindful of the depredations of the security state.

Australia tends to arrive mercifully late to these games, but when it does, the newborn enthusiasm is boundless. Ask the Australian Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who has announced a new ministry of Home Affairs that will include the Australian Federal Police, Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, and the Australian Border Force.[3]  Civil liberty advocates should batten down the hatches.

A vast body of opinion has churned through the mill on the subject of reconciling liberties with combating terrorism and other threats to security. A common thread here, and one advocated by Thomas F. Powers, was that security was necessary for the enjoyment of liberty.[4]  But such views rarely examine the consequences of privileging the security rationale advanced by the state.

A degree of anarchy should never be ignored as an indispensable ingredient of freedom. Chaos is not always a friend of insecurity, notably of the citizen. Government departments, aligned against each other in distracting turf wars, have one unintended consequence: preventing treading on the liberty of the subject.

The vote selling tactic deemed rather popular suggests the opposite: the dictates of security require unimpeded super departments with vigilant overlords briefed in snuffing out the next threat. Terrify the voter, and a fearful heart and addled mind will follow. But the notion of having such a leviathan, one that focuses an exclusive, all-encompassing eye is actually the sort of thing an informed citizenry should dread.

The point, rather, is who we want to be on edge, to be watchful. The public citizen should always be mindful of overly enthusiastic zealots, manning their desks and drafting the next statute that will enable easier surveillance and the casual acquisition of data on a mere suspicion of threat. The business of seeking safety, or its illusion, corrupts rather than enlightens.

The insistence on closing loopholes and trimming regulations in favour of a rapid response to a terror threat, or any threat so designated by the government, is something that should send a lingering shudder through the citizen.

Keep bureaucracies divided in their functions. Separate and distinguish them. ASIO delves into intelligence gathering, not policing. Nor should the AFP overly tax itself with espionage missions. The genius of American republican theory, based on the notion of a separation of powers, is something to draw upon in this sense. Once those balances fall, so does the state’s capacity to perform its tasks.

The Australian presumption, long linked to notions of sturdy government regulation and paternal oversight (the penal gene behind governance remains strong), lends danger to the notion that bureaucratic mergers can be a good thing. In a country lacking a solid, immutable bill of rights, the proposition is less tenable. Safety does not merely become a mania to exploit, but a mania to fulfil.

Given the paucity of republican theory in the country, it is fitting to finish with a warning from Benjamin Franklin: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”

 

[1] https://www.dhs.gov/creation-department-homeland-security

[2] https://www.dhs.gov/sites/default/files/publications/book_0.pdf

[3] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-18/malcolm-turnbull-announces-new-federal-super-ministry/8719424

[4] http://www.nationalaffairs.com/public_interest/detail/can-we-be-secure-and-free

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

Post-Coal Theming and Preventative Unemployment

The Anti-Adani protest has generated divisive anti-worker rhetoric. Preventative unemployment should be a key focus towards a post-coal world. This article discusses the importance of themes in the narrative towards a post-coal world and explores the approach to preventative unemployment policy.

Say No To Adani Is Just the Beginning

The anti-Adani movement is growing. It has progressed from a place of prominence on social media to a place of prominence in main stream media.

I have spent countless hours trying to engage with the Anti-Adani movement. I have persisted for a long period to bring the topic of jobs to the centre of the discussion. Placing the worker at the centre of the framework is crucial, as we move towards a post-coal world.

This is crucial because the Anti-Adani movement’s aim to shut down the Adani mine is just the beginning. It is not the end. A move towards alternative energy and away from coal is evident. Protests against existing mines are just a matter of time. The industrial landscape will change forever.

However, any discussion regarding jobs is dismissed and not taken seriously.

Screaming to Shut Down Jobs

Every Adani protester is protesting to shut down jobs and is part of a wider movement which will build and push to shut down even more heavy industry.

The wider narrative in the Anti-Adani movement, when the point of jobs is raised, makes this issue much bigger than Adani by default.

The Theming of Rebuttals

I have engaged almost every day in the Adani debate online, across various platforms for at least a year. In my experience, the rebuttals towards any argument put forward regarding jobs fall into a number of themes. The post-coal world is the framework for these themes, not just Adani per se.

Divisive 

This rebuttal insists that only Great Barrier Reef workers hold any importance and these workers are more important than Coal Workers.

Dehumanising

This rebuttal dehumanises coal workers as a lower status of human. Job creation for this group is not considered. There is the assumption that these workers work in a dead industry and it is up to them to get out. Some insist it is up to the current coal mine owners to transition employees out now. Protestors see coal as an ugly and dirty industry. Therefore, stigmatisation of coal workers occurs.

Externalising Blame to the Coal Worker

This rebuttal is related to the above and shifts the blame of climate change to the actual worker. ie Coal workers are ruining the planet.

The Assumption of Automatic Transition

Coal workers will all automatically transition to a renewables job and this is the best fit for ex-coal workers is the assumption.

The Assumption of Geographical Transition

The assumption is that renewable energy companies will hire the ex-coal workforce. The other assumption is the same location will house the new industry. See above.

The Dismissal of Impact

This rebuttal rejects that coal mining has any significant contribution to the Australian economy and renewables will generate much more revenue and jobs than coal. Also, local economies will remain unchanged. This rebuttal also assumes that small business or the allocation of public services funding and infrastructure funding will not change.

Sacrificial Lamb

This rebuttal insists that we must sacrifice all coal jobs for the greater good; because if we don’t then there will be no world and no jobs.

Personally Directed Themes

When I raised jobs as an issue, the following themes occurred.

Personal investment – The major theme is ‘pro-coal‘. It is my observation that participants in this movement are unable to differentiate between pro-jobs and pro-coal.

Another theme is “Queensland Bias” as it is my home state.

Guilt – The other major theme is guilt. This is usually a counter-argument after jobs are raised. For example, accusations relating to; not caring about the Great Barrier Reef, GBR workers, First Nations people and land rights and not caring about Farmers.

From my perspective, it is important to include the personally directed themes, as these themes are quite prevalent. In addition, I would argue that these types of retaliations are an active part of a phenomenon which dismisses the worker by delegitimising the concern of the pro-jobs advocate.

Political Difficulty

This poses problems for any politician who tries argue the point for jobs. Not just at this moment regarding Adani, but as this movement progresses towards the insistence of more closures of heavy industry. On Qanda, the panel and audience ultimately dismissed Senator Canavan when he raised the issue of high unemployment for local areas near the mine.

Political Theming

The theme around this post coal transition within politics is largely devoid of any conversation around the transition of jobs and skills. The political themes are:

Climate Change Targets – This theme is central to reducing carbon emissions.

Alternative Energy – This theme is central to exploring the use of alternative energy, rather than the importance of transition of jobs within this shift.

Renewables the Best Fit – Renewables as the best fit for coal workers is assumed. Attracting other industry is not discussed. The redistribution of the public sector is also not discussed.

The Importance of Themes for Transition

I have highlighted these themes, as I see them, as I believe they play a central part ensuring the recognition of the worker occurs. 

Through the attempt to understand the current phenomenon using theming, we can then identify the actors within the phenomenon and what impact the phenomenon has as it develops. We can use this insight to shape society.

The worker will remain in the background unless we reflect upon these themes. Therefore, the worker will be an accidental casualty of the movement towards a post coal world.

In addition, these themes contribute to the way we insist that political parties approach a transition. For example, the emphasis placed on skills transition and profession transition.

Most importantly, whether political parties implement curative or preventative unemployment strategies to address unemployment.

Preventative and Curative Unemployment Policy

Policy development towards unemployment takes two forms, preventative and curative. Essentially, preventative policy enables measures to prevent unemployment. Curative policy development is reactionary and punitive and seeks to address the consequences of unemployment.

On the Road to Somewhere

It is essential that political parties develop a solid transition plan based on skills and jobs. However, there is not enough detail in the current Labor and Greens transition plans. A focus on energy rather than jobs is evident. I have been unable to source a transition plan by the Liberal National Coalition Government.

The Greens’ transition plan discusses the rehabilitation of mines as the main alternative job for ex-coal workers.

Labor’s transition plan takes a more holistic approach. However, I would argue that some points such as redeployment and relocation do not focus on community.

A detailed transition plan consisting of where the new industry will be developed, a jobs and skills forecast, including projected employment types, such as ongoing and casual should be developed. In addition, an examination of the reconfiguration of new industry and public services should occur.

The road to where we are heading, how we will get there and what happens when we get there is now urgent.

Preventative Unemployment Strategies

The Shorten Labor Government does discuss preventative unemployment strategies as part of their transition plan. However, this is more implicit, rather than explicit. We urgently need a strong voice pushing a detailed jobs narrative.

Increase in Demand Side Employment 

As the transition away from coal jobs occurs, an increase in the demand for labour is essential. A forecast of job losses in coal areas should enable political parties to develop a blue print for planning.

Business incentives to encourage businesses to relocate and set up in local areas could be advantageous. In addition, job creation through Government intervention would be beneficial.

National Skills and Career Development Strategy

Often skills development is discussed from a curative point of view of ‘getting the unemployed skilled for work’. However, within a preventative strategy, the addition of career development is an essential addition. The development of new skills to supply labour is essential as the transition away from coal assumes an increase in unemployment. This shift is structural and understood. Therefore, the worker can complete career development programs during their employment with a coal based employer.

A focus on preventative unemployment would see a national strategy employed where employers are subsidised to release existing labour for new skills development training.

Funding of Universities to develop appropriate courses and recruit staff ahead of time is also vital.

Reconfiguration of the Labor Market

A micro approach to local economies should examine the requirements to reconfigure the labour market within Australia. Within a preventative strategy as alternatives or additions to renewable jobs and how this should be configured should be examined. For example, in conjunction with renewable jobs, local government areas may be identified as specific hubs. Such as telecommunications hubs, community sector hubs, aged care hubs.

A reconfiguration, redistribution and a reassessment of public sector need and staffing establishments required to adequately service the population should also be considered. Regional unemployment figures, rather than national unemployment figures, should be a measure of success.

A Strong Supply Side Voice in a Pluralistic Framework

The changes required towards a post coal world, including an increase in labour demand, a change of career and wages for many workers and a loss of increment/experience level is perceived.

The suppression of voice of the supply side of labour is a dangerous pressure from Liberal National Governments. They may argue that secure employment and strong labour regulations may reduce the desire for employers to employ more entrants into the new industry. They may argue that new industry in a new market is volatile and wages should be kept as low as possible and work as flexible as possible to enable growth.

However, a preventative framework should be a pluralistic framework. Therefore, the Government, employers and unions should work together to set the standards and improve worker security in new industries and in transitioning local economies.

From Punitive to Preventative Unemployment

Punitive measures underpin curative unemployment strategies. These have become increasingly harsh and prevalent since the 1990’s. Curative policies focus on the unemployed rather than the labour market. Therefore the motivations of the unemployed are questioned (and punished) rather than a recognition that there is not enough demand for labour in the market.

This transitional shift to a post coal world could also transition the job search framework. In a preventative system creating labour demand to match the under-utilised supply would be the focus. A preventative unemployment strategy would see a Government motivated to intervene to create jobs, invest in skills and career development.

In a curative system, the underlying assumption is punitive. The jobless are blamed for their own unemployment. This is usually a lack of motivation and intrinsic propensity to learn or work. ‘Curing’ the causes of lack of motivation or desire to work are the strategies employed. Currently, these are financial penalties and working as free labour for welfare benefits.

In a preventative system creating labour demand to match the under-utilised supply would be the focus. A preventative unemployment strategy would see a Government motivated to intervene to create jobs. Also, invest in skills and career development of new and transitioning workers and incentivize business.

The Worker Front and Centre

A consideration of the themes identified in the narrative in the shift towards a post coal society is critical to transition towards a narrative which places the worker front and centre in the climate change framework.

We need a detailed transition plan urgently. The implementation of preventative unemployment strategies will ensure a smooth transition to a post-coal world.

Day to Day Politics: I admit it. Howard was the worst.

Wednesday 19 July 2017

A recent addition to The AIMN has been ‘Polling’ which has been most popular. One of them asked who was the worst Prime Minister Australia had ever had. I quickly ticked Malcolm Turnbull thinking he was the obvious choice over Billy McMahon.

Later I was reading an article about the performance of John Howard, which gave me cause to reflect. I had always disagreed with his decision to send our troops to Iraq. In fact I thought it was appalling and when it became known that there were no weapons of mass destruction his failure to offer any apology even more so.

His longevity paid tribute to his political acumen but mostly he bought his success by bribing the electorate and his failure to put aside for the future the billions of dollars we were earning during his tenure was unforgivable.

I was never a Howard hater. In fact admired his political skills, particularly his mastery over detail. As I searched the Internet for critiques of his performance it became abundantly clear to me that the problems we have today both economic and societal can be linked to his government.

The Iraq decision was undoubtedly made to please the Americans but it irreversibly sucked us into the unholy mess we have in the Middle East and the turbulence of international terrorism that we are now regretting.

We might reasonably ask if Howard’s reliance on false information, his lying about ”Children overboard” and his ”mean and tricky” reputation, was the beginning of the electorates distrust of politicians generally. If not he made a significant contribution that was later magnified by the master of ”shock and ore” politics, Tony Abbott.

An observation

”Any meaningful resolution to the problems in the Middle East (and elsewhere for that matter) cannot be resolved without the transformation of the minds of men and consideration of the effect religion has on people.”

Now let’s look at housing affordability. Howard in his desire to reward the rich and privileged did a number of things that we are paying dearly for now.

He introduced the capital-gains-tax concession; bolstered the first-home buyers’ grant; and boosted immigration – all putting pressure on housing demand. Investor entry into the housing market took off from the moment the capital-gains-tax concession began.

The teens of today will be the ones who will suffer from decisions that were made to extend his power without the slightest thought about the consequences for tomorrow.

Then he began spending like the proverbial drunken sailor. Again without a thought for the future He introduced the over-60 superannuation tax holiday, other super concessions, family payments to middle-income households, age-based tax concessions, and lots of income-tax breaks for middle to higher-income households.

And so began the inequality gap that is forever increasing. At one stage 19 out of 20 families were receiving a handout of sorts.

An observation

”Meritocracy is a term used to imply that those at the top of the social scale have merit and a slur against those at the bottom.”

He must have known that at some stage the once in a lifetime mining boom would end and the handouts once given would be almost impossible to reverse. And at the same time mining was receiving millions in subsidies and paying little tax.

He was a ditherer when it came to climate change and it is questionable if he really ever understood it. Being a true economic conservative he agreed that a market mechanism was the best method of reducing emissions but made no attempt to do anything about it.

In 1998, he set up the national electricity market based on market principles – meaning electricity network owners, suppliers and retailers could screw consumers and small business. And it’s still happening today.

He then dramatically increased Commonwealth funding to private teaching institutions to spend on non teaching facilities, while at the same time starving public schools, which a few years later caused serious problems for the education system that have only now been partially addressed.

Medicare, which the conservatives have always opposed because it doesn’t form part of their ideology, came under attack. Howard corroded Medicare by misdirecting money into tax deductions for inefficient private health insurance.

The problems we have today where many people cannot afford to pay for their healthcare are directly attributable to the decisions he made.

Today we find that ever increasingly the work force is becoming casualised. People can’t get enough hours so are under employed. Wages growth is at the lowest it has been in generations. Again this is directly a result of Howard’s industrial-relations policies, finishing with his hated WorkChoices policy.

Pork-barreling in Infrastructure policy became an art form under Howard. The regional partnership program was so biased towards Coalition and marginal seats that it became a farce.

There was for example the Defense joint HQ. The Alice-to-Darwin railway was another big priority spend in a marginal seat, instead of being part of the orderly construction of a national rail network in which the Melbourne-Brisbane link was the obvious priority.

Am I making a decent case here?

 An observation

”Leaders who cannot comprehend the importance of truth as being fundamental to the democratic process make the largest contribution to its demise.”

Infrastructure spending got out of control and it wasn’t until Labor gained power that some economic rationality found its way back into the system.

The reader may remember how Howard politicised the public service. He sacked six department heads  Abbott did the same sacking three when he came into office. Sackings became the new norm and now the public service is a political unit of the Coalition government.

Howard never truly understood Indigenous affairs. It remains his legacy that he abolished the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission. His intervention is still a dismal failure. He refused to say sorry to the stolen generation and his maladministration of constitutional recognition is presently being debated yet again.

Having worked on the 1999 republic referendum I can attest to his deliberate attempts to divide and rule public opinion by using Tony Abbott as his attack dog.

With the stroke of a pen he changed the marriage act into an antiquated definition of marriage but any attempt now to right a gratuitous wrong is met with disdain from the religious nutters within his party.

An observation

”Politicians who change their minds aren’t necessarily seeing the light. They might just be feeling the heat.”

So now we have this silly standoff between a vote by the parliament and a $200 million dollar referendum.

Howard is fond of saying that the Liberal Party is a ‘’Broad Church’’ and it might very well have been when he joined but it is hardy that now. But it is he who changed it into a haven for conservatives. Now Malcolm Turnbull is trying to turn it back into the small L Liberal party that Robert Menzies envisaged when he founded the party.

He introduced a Clayton’s GST that disadvantaged the poor. When he had a chance to implement the full version with control of the Senate he chickened out.

During his tenure our continuous economic growth sped on, however the aforementioned economic decisions now place us perilously close to losing our triple A rating.

Yes he did Implement gun control after the largest mass gun murder in our history but you would have to have a decent memory to recall anything else that served the common good.

So I have had to change my mind. John Howard is the worst Prime Minister we have ever had. When you consider the advantages he had he could have had a Legacy as the PM who secured the country’s future but he opted for continuous power by instigating polices that would eventually make us a lessor nation.

My thought for the day

”Current experience would suggest that the Australian people need to take more care when electing its leaders.”

 

Uhlmann’s Trump Problem

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

It’s all well and good to huff at the current President of the United States, who has managed to get under more irritated skin than an army of dedicated leaches. The immersion of the White House into the reality television show of Trumpland has set people on edge, lighting volatile fires and driving some commentators, quite literally, around the bend.

There is much to set the traditional group of political vultures on edge. It could be Donald Trump’s stance on climate change, his indifference to Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential elections or, for that matter, Russia at all. He cares little for institutions – the only one that ever mattered was his family as a brand name.

For Australian journalist Chris Uhlmann, a veteran of the national broadcaster, the G20 summit in Hamburg proved to be the last straw, perpetuating his blast that reflects the Weltanschauung of a wounded traditionalist long accustomed to a conventional spectrum of political reporting.

His piece on the Insiders program on July 9 was termed a “two-minute takedown” of the US president. For Uhlmann, Trump had shown “no desire and no capacity to lead the world”. (Because, naturally, states in an environment of sovereign equals must be led).

When the analyst fails, enter the opprobrium of the ad hominem attack. “Donald Trump has a particular, and limited, skill set … He is a character drawn from America’s wild west, a travelling medicine showman selling moonshine remedies that will kill the patient.”[1]

For Uhlmann, the Trump performance signalled the decline of US power, and one could almost sense the tear ducts watering. Where was the G20 statement on North Korea, one that would have “put pressure on China and Russia?” Trump was, essentially, in “a unique position” to defend “the values of the West”. And there, you have it.

Some of these views can be attributed to Uhlmann’s background: a former trainee priest deemed by his wife (who else?) a moral figure and senior advisor for the conservative Christian independent Paul Osborne, one with whom he ran on the ACT Legislative Assembly ticket in 1998.

What duly unfolded was a phenomenon that itself characterises the state of a moribund fourth estate: the journalist as instantly minted celebrity, the hot streak of social media that is measured in “hits” and “likes” rather than reflective reading and sober digestion.

The engine room of celebrity, was, as ever, taken as the United States. If you have not made it there, you have not made it at all. Megan Doherty exemplifies the point: “On Facebook, the original post reached almost 2 million people, most from California and New York. Insiders also scored 4,500 Twitter followers out of the sensation.”[2]

He was tapped by MSNBC for his views, which focused on “what his [Trump’s] priorities are”. If Trump had time to take “issue with a couple of reporters” with a barrage of abusive tweets, perhaps they were elsewhere.

The sense of Uhlmann’s criticism, however, suggests a considerable weakness: the sentiment of the imperial groupie, and a disappointed one at that. For decades, the United States has been the feted guardian of Australian interests (cheaply titled those of the free world), the guarding hegemon ever watchful of interests in the Asia-Pacific.

Since the Second World War, Australian governments have been willing vassals for Washington, for the projection of American power, supplying foreign targeting options from bombers to drones, being a forward supply and training line for war.

This trend was only questioned during the Whitlam years in the first part of the 1970s, when concerns arose about the role played by Australian operatives in the overthrow of the Allende government in Chile, and the possibility that the Pine Gap base was being used to target North Vietnam.

Foolishly, Australian policy-makers have tended to think of their own interests as seamless and synonymous with those of their fraternal bully, the nuclear umbrella throwing its reassuring, if sinister shadow across the island continent. (In actual fact, Canberra’s ignorance of its strategic environment, not to mention its neighbours, has been institutionally profound).

It is only in recent years that the prospect of a military confrontation between Washington and Beijing has thrown some of the security fraternity off guard. China supplies the cash for a commodity-reliant economy; the US supplies the defence for a vast continent that can never be conventionally defended.

Uhlmann’s point returns to a lamentably traditional one that needs no encouraging: there are great powers, and there are small powers who need to find suitable boots to lick, or beds to warm. Better that of a historical “friend” (the term sits artificially in the canon of international relations) rather than traditional foes (Russia and China).

“I guess it struck a chord with fears about Trump that are shared by many. Perhaps for the Americans the added interest was it was an observation from a friendly nation that Trump risks ceding US power to others.”[3]

Trump will hardly care about the sorrowful reflections of an Australian political anchor aggrieved that the empire is misbehaving. Nor will his supporters. As Alice Butler-Short, founder of Virginia Women for Trump explained, “If America’s strong, if America’s prosperous, if America’s safe then that helps us to help the rest of the world.”[4]  Forcibly, or otherwise.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-09/did-trumps-g20-performance-indicate-us-decline-as-world-power/8691538

[2] http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/chris-uhlmann-on-being-an-internet-sensation–and-what-hes-got-planned-next-20170713-gxaz8s

[3] http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/chris-uhlmann-on-being-an-internet-sensation–and-what-hes-got-planned-next-20170713-gxaz8s

[4] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-07-11/donald-trump-chris-uhlmann-americans-defend-president/8696438

Howard Urges Australia To Trust Trump: “He Never Threw His Children Overboard!”

Just the other day, Turnbull hitched a lift with Con Trump to the G-20 meeting. While some would be cautioning Turnbull about the dangers of asking lifts from strange men, John Howard is telling us to trust the Dumpster:

“I do think there’s a rush to judgement on this bloke, on Trump, which is understandable because he’s so powerful … but we’ve got to be careful we don’t fall through the trap of rushing to judgment.”

Actually, that wasn’t the strangest thing in the news.com.au article I read. I was rather confused by this sentence:

Howard refused to speculate on whether Trump would stop tweeting, only saying: “He’s not going to.”

So, he won’t speculate on whether he’d stop tweeting, he’d only predict that he won’t, which seems like speculation to me, but, hey, the fact that anyone even bothers with the opinion of the only living PM to lose his seat in a general election is beyond me.

Anyway, I thought I’d share it, in case you missed it, and because, well, Johnny Howard’s opinion must be important because he is the longest service Liberal leader this century, followed by Tony Abbott who has the great distinction of spending twice as much time as Opposition Leader than he did as Prime Minister. Tony was once referred to as the most successful Opposition Leader in Australia’s history after the 2010 election which I found strange. I thought the ones who actually won elections should be considered more successful, but Tony showed how good he was as an Opposition Leader by continuing when he won in 2013. No, that’s not meant to be “until he won in 2013” – he continued to be Opposition Leader throughout his term as PM – even once referring to Bill Shorten as the Prime Minister – and, to this very day, shows us all how a good Opposition leader can bring down a government.

And, to be fair, John Howard does have a great track record of reassuring Australians. Starting with Peter Costello whom Howard assured that, if he didn’t challenge for the leadership, he’d step down after an appropriate time and let Peter have the job, Mr Howard’s reassurances have generally proved worthless. Or as Sam Goldwyn said: “A verbal contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”!

When John Winston Howard became Opposition Leader, he assured us all that the Liberals would “never, ever” introduce a GST, and by that, he meant until after another election, because a week is a long time in politics but “never” is no time at all. And when he introduced it, he reassured us that their were safeguards that meant that it could never, ever be raised above ten percent. Obviously when the current mob were speculating about raising it to fifteen, they hadn’t heard about the safeguards.

Of course, let’s not forget that when some naughty lefties suggested that children weren’t thrown overboard in 2001, Howard reassured us that we could trust Peter Reith. Perhaps not with a phone card, but certainly with statements like, “There is a video, but it’s not really worth watching because I’ve already revealed all the spoilers, so you’d be better off waiting till HBO get their act together and you can watch really top shows on Rupert’s cable network”…

Ok, Reith never actually said that.

But the Honourable John did tell last week that the decision to go war with Iraq wasn’t “based on a lie”; it was based on faulty intelligence. Now he didn’t say whether this was his or George W. Bush’s faulty intelligence so I think we shouldn’t fall through the trap of rushing to judgement. (Mm, that’s what he said about Trump and now that I think about it if you fall through a trap, doesn’t that mean that you don’t get caught in it?)

Of course, in 2003, Howard was assuring us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and it was just that those silly UN weapons inspectors weren’t looking in the right places. And he was also assuring us that he still hadn’t made up his mind whether we’d go to war, while SAS officers were in Iraq carrying out operations just in case we decided to. Meanwhile, his government was attacking the ABC for bias because some of their reporters had a “cynical tone” when asking questions about the existence of Iraq’s WMDs.

When no weapons were found, John Howard again reassured us that Saddam may have destroyed the WMDs before the war began which strikes me as a completely plausible. “Saddam the coalition of the willing are attacking us, what do we do?” “We must quickly hide all our weapons and fight back with our bare hands in effort to make us look tougher.”

And, of course, he reassured the Liberal Party in 2007 that he was the best person to lead them into the election. On this, he was probably right. He certainly achieved the ambition that he and many of his colleagues shared, of ensuring that Peter Costello never became Prime Minister.

So when Honest John tells us to give Trump a chance, one has to wonder whether he’ll be passing that off in a couple of years as simply an intelligence failure.

Meanwhile, we have the spectacle of our current caretaker PM announcing a policy while surrounded by troops with gas masks. The Labor Party complained that he was using the ADF as “props”, but that’s a little unfair. The troops were there to protect Turnbull from an attack by Peter Dutton!

Day to Day Politics: A serious letter to the editor.

Tuesday 18 July 2017

A letter to the editor of The AIMN.

I really don’t know where to start. Everyday there is a constant stream of pissweek comantary from writers with little to say and all the time in the world to say it.

I’m sick and tied of mean spirited poor looser attitude of the writers of this blog. The bias is just remakeable. I mean cant yoy get it thrugh your skulls that we won.

The bloody Coalition won with a majority and a mandate. I reckon the editor is a few gallons short of a full pool.

Might I suggest that the writers on this blog try a bit less bias otherwise they will end up like the ABC. Christ don’t start me on them. I have no malcontent toward anyone. Just try to be more fair and give credit where credits dew. Try to be objective and nondiscriminatory. Then we con have some real intercourse. Fair bloody dinkum your crap blog is getting worser

All the writing is just what I would have expected from the left wing latte sipping loonies of the proletariat. You chardonnay drinking Bolsheviks without any intelligence. All you did the last time I wrote was criticise a few grammamatical errors. Nothing better to do.And most of the comments had to be a joke – no-one can be that stupid and arrogant, unless they are members of the Greens.

The thing is, you commies don’t understand the fundamentals of conservatism. The free market and capitalism. Conservatives (LNP) believe in personal responsibility, limited government, free markets, individual liberty and traditional values. We believe the role of government should be to provide people the freedom necessary to pursue their own goals unhindered by government regulations.

Now just before I go on. I read that piece by John Lord about the Donald.

He really has become embrassassing. I mean that article criticizing Americia’s great white hope, Donald Trump was pretty crook but this time I’m going to forget my breading, my manners, and my education and tell the old prick what I think of him.

I mean there is just no limit to how far he will stoop, no gutter to low to slide into, no sewer to murky for him to loose himself in

Fair dinkum. He wouldn’t know shit from clay. I’d suggest he gets himself a manager. It’s obvious he’s been handing himself too long. The Donald has more intregrity in his enormous intelligence than the Lord has in his small mindedness..

Doesn’t he realize that in the Donald we have a man intent on saving the world from socialism. Sure he has made a few mistakes but at least he tells the truth. And hes write about people like you who don’t realize his inate honesty.

Has America ever, so wisely, elected a man so positive about the countries future and exprecced it so clearly.? A person with such truth and transparency. What he says he does and no one effuences him.

He iso sensitive to those who cannot help themselves. So willing to endorse and foster equality.

So knoweggible of technology So aware to the needs of women. That’s why women like him. So adeptt at policy formation and its implementation.

So diplomatic, so ambassadorial, so sensitive, in his attitude toward oth…ers. So accomdating of those who desire equality. And in touch with a modern pluralist society. A man so sophisticated in deep worldly acumen and discernment, yet religiously motivated.

He is the only leader who is willing to put his foot in it and say that Climate Change is crap.

He understands that we need to be free to pursue wealth. I mean I needed the freedom to accept my inheritance. The same with Gina. There will always be haves and have nots. Even Jesus said that the poor will always be with us..

And that great President Ronald Regan said. If we keep giving more money to the rich, everyone will have more money. It’s called tickle down economics. The poor will just have to wait a little longer to see it work.

Conservatives were born to control capitol. Labour comes after capital. Not everyone can be effluent. Had we had less regulation and let market forces have their way we wouldn’t have had a Global Financial Crisis. Now look at the mess the Donald has to get the world out of

Oh and another thing.

I didn’t appreciate all the sarcastic remarks from the knowalls who comment on my writing.. I can only say that good manners is a basic tenant of conservatism. So they needn’t worry about what people think of them if they only knew how little they did.

Now where was I? Yes? There is no inequity in our society. It’s just that some deserve more than others.

What you people on the left don’t appreciate is that if you want the best educated ministry then someone has to pay.The one we have now is the best ever and it shows in all the ideas and policies it has.produced over the last three years. Ya just don’t appreciate what these fine men have done for our country.

Fairdinkum I was talking to me mate Blind Freddy the other day and he reckoned the country would have gone to the dogs if Turnbull wasn’t elected.What the country needed most was a refinement that Tony didn’t have..

We were born to rule. If we don’t have poor people who’s going to do the work.

That’s why I admire Malcolm Turnbull. It talks a lot of courage to change one’s mind and do what’s best for the country. The audacity to suggest that he tells lies, I mean two many educated people can be dangerous for society. They might all want to be wealthy.

Well I don’t mind wealthy people so long as they aren’t as wealthy as me. If that makes sense.

In Tony Abbott we have just what this country needs. An undoer. And there’s so much to undo that there will be little time left for doing anything else. That’s what conservatives value most. At this point in time we need an undoer, not a doer. That’s what Tony is. He just needs to learn how to work with Malcolm.

Anyway all you chardonnay drinking Bolsheviks without any intelligence should wake up to yourselves. You’re disrespect is just revolting. I think you’re that dumb that you must be three bricks short of a load or not the full two bobs worth. Either that or your three sanwhiches short of a picnic. See I can throw shit tooo.

And all his bullshit about work. I mean everyone knows that theirs plenty of work. All my sons at Melbourne Gramma got jobs this year. My son Erwin is doing year 12 vagain but that’s another story.

Fancy saying that Malcolm doesn’t have a plan for for energy. He is the only leader who understands just how long it takes to do these things that’s why its imperative that we get more of it. Time that is. After all the clean coald industry needs to be protected.

His words have a wiff of effluence about them. His plan is to stay in power so that we can build more coald plants and keep the energy energised. Now where was I? Yes? There is no inequity in society. After all everyone gets the same internet that Malcolm invented. First class. The best in the modern world. No complaints from me but then I was born with the gift of patients.

Internet provides. I know my son Miles and his classmates in year 12 at Melbourne Grammar do. I mean the amount of homework Miles does every night with his bedroom door locked is astonishing.

In delusion allow me to finish wit a few comments.

I wont be writing again because I get the impression I am not welcome on this blog. I am at a loss to understand why because all I bring is wisdom and unbiased opinion.

A special thanks to my son and the year 12 English class at Melbourne High for proof reading. Greatly apreciated.

We had a great leader in Tony Abbott. If you don’t think so look at these remarkable insights.

‘There is a place for everything and it’s not necessarily everyone’s place to come to Australia.’

‘Bad bosses, like bad fathers and husbands, should be tolerated because they do more good than harm.’

‘We have to get this straight: euthanasia is not about the right to die, it is about the right to kill.’

‘Abortion is the easy way out. It’s hardly surprising that people should choose the most convenient exit from awkward situations.’

‘We just can’t stop people from being homeless if that’s their choice.’

What a remakable man he was.

How fortunate the country was when the opportunity arose to give a better man a chance to lead.And all Lord does is criticise. Ask yourself this question.

Malcolm is a person with truth and transparency. So sensitive to those who cannot help themselves. So willing to endorse and foster equality. So knoweggible of technology and science. So aware to the needs of women.

That’s why women like him as there Prime minster.

What Lord wrote yesterday was just unadulterated crap. That’s the word Tony used to describe Climate Change. Malcolm agrees with him that it’s all a socialist plot. So much so that he intends to impliment the Direct Action plan that Tony invented. It’s just the best plan ever and we all share the cost. Why should business pay all the time? They have enough tax to pay.

As usual me piece was proof read by Miles mates in the Melbourne Gramma final year English class.

Morrie Moneyweather. Toorak

My thought for the day

‘There’s nothing like the certainty of a closed mind.’

And another thought

‘Good grammar is vitality important but is secondary to the expression of a valid well-constructed point of view.’

 

One thing is for sure – you can’t accuse the Liberal Party of being a meritocracy

With the news today that Peter Dutton is to head a merged ASIO, AFP and Border Force super security department, it is worth looking back over the last twelve months to see why he deserved this promotion.

June 12, 2016

A recent survey of employees working for the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) has revealed a department-wide decline in morale.

This shift has been attributed to a damming lack of confidence in both Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg, and what has been described as Mike Pezzullo’s “problematic culture of command and control.”

The report also cites an ongoing shift away from focusing on assisting people, towards a primarily enforcement-based approach, as well as a lack of communication from senior management.

The scathing internal survey was independently conducted by the Nous Group, and found that there was intense staff dissatisfaction with the current “military-style regime” of both their department, and those at the top.

September 25, 2016

A report has been released by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO), which severely criticises the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) for its handling of asylum seekers and offshore detention centres.

The DIBP was found to have significantly mishandled multiple areas of the offshore detention system, including welfare, security, catering and cleaning services.  The report also identified a Broadspectrum contract with cost overruns of more than $1 billion, which the department entered into without first seeking alternative pricing quotes.

ANAO also found that the department was unable to demonstrate that it had secured adequate value for money in three out of the four hiring processes currently in place at detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

JANUARY 17 2017

In a scathing report, the Australian National Audit Office said the Immigration Department had “fallen well short” of expected standards in its management of contracts for detention facilities on Manus Island and Nauru.

Out of $2.3 billion paid over 40 months, $1.1 billion was approved by officers without the appropriate authorisation and another $1.1 billion was paid with “no departmental record” of who had authorised the payments.

Released on Tuesday, the report follows a similarly blistering ANAO audit published in September which identified “serious and persistent deficiencies” in the department’s procurement of garrison support and welfare services for the offshore detention centres.

April 22, 2017

On Friday the government released a report by the Senate committee on legal and constitutional affairs, which followed a seven-month inquiry into allegations of abuse on Manus and Nauru sparked by the publication of the Nauru files.

The report is damning on the government, and among other things, found that Australia has a duty of care to asylum seekers and refugees and that the culture of secrecy and lack of accountability and transparency needs to be addressed.

23 May 2017

Doubts have been raised as to whether Australia’s customs officials have been lawfully accessing people’s text messages and other kinds of data.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman was scathing of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection in a review tabled in parliament on Tuesday.

The report follows inspections of 20 agencies and their use of powers to access metadata and stored communications to ensure they are compliant.

It finds Customs does not have sufficient processes in place to prove that it’s only dealing with lawfully accessed stored communications such as SMS.

There are also insufficient procedures in place to ensure that information is properly received and destroyed.

‘We have no confidence in Customs’ record-keeping practices, and therefore in its ability to account for its use of these powers,’ the report says.

JULY 16 2017

US officials interviewing refugees held in an Australian-run offshore detention centre left the facility abruptly, throwing further doubt over a plan to resettle many of the detainees in America.

US officials halted screening interviews and departed the Pacific island of Nauru on Friday, two weeks short of their scheduled timetable and a day after Washington said the United States had reached its annual refugee intake cap with the new intake year not due to begin until October 1.

A State Department spokeswoman said on Friday that USCIS “has not yet concluded adjudications of any refugees being considered for resettlement out of Australian facilities in Nauru and Manus islands.”


One thing is for sure – you can’t accuse the Liberal Party of being a meritocracy. After examining that stellar record, the only conclusion one can draw is that Malcolm has bought off a contender.

Militarising Civilian Life: Australia, Policing and Terrorism

By Dr Binoy Kampmark

It is far from unusual in recent times: a spate of terrorist activity, followed by police seemingly agog, then the call for cavalry, usually in the form of military forces to guard vital installations and furnish the public with a reassuring presence. Unfortunately, such moves tend to take place long after the horse has bolted, an ineffectual measure in terms of combating terrorism but pernicious in terms of dealing with distinctions policing.

Australia’s Turnbull government has promised new powers under a national security review conducted last year that will grant the Australian army powers to kill terrors suspects on sight. This is not all: the actual militarisation of Australian police personnel is set to take place with specialists from the ADF embedded in various teams. Training from elite SAS personnel is also slated to take place.

These measures are far from reassuring, suggesting that the military aspect of policing has been given not just a jolt but a terrific heave ho. The Prime Minister, showing he is far from mellowing in his role on the subject of defusing fear, insists on the authoritarian prerogative of streamlining and trimming the interaction between military and policing functions. Cut the strings, the heavy bound red tape, and the world will be a safe place.

According to Malcolm Turnbull, “The overhaul will make it easier for Defence to work together with federal, state and territory police in the event of a terrorist incident. State and territory police forces remain the best first response to terrorist incidents immediately after an attack starts.”

Distinctions between the policing element of a state, and its military, are worth having. One, working within the boundaries of the law, targets and prevents crime; the other, focuses on the defence of the realm. These points are far from being the same thing. But the terrorist genie, floating about with menace, has been used to render these points theoretical, which is more than just a crying shame.

In another conspicuous area, military and defence functions have been obliterated to cope with refugee and asylum seeker arrivals by boat. Civilian functions more akin to traditional policing and processing have become the purview of the military, a move that was significantly advanced during the years of the Howard government. The signalling shot there was the deployment in August 2001 of the SAS against the Norwegian vessel, the MV Tampa. Its apotheosis is Operation Sovereign Borders.

Theories on how the Australian military interact with policing functions are far from sophisticated. There is, for instance, no equivalent Posse Comitatus Act, an 1878 US initiative passed by a Democratic-led Congress after troops were deployed two years prior ostensibly to maintain order at various polling places in southern states.

The Democrats were convinced that the measure was designed to fix the election for Republican Rutherford B. Hayes and pushed for provisions that would limit the role of the US military in terms of operating in civilian spaces, or to “execute the laws”.

This did not mean, of course, that the PCA would not be assailed with grubby hands indifferent to civil liberties. President Bill Clinton did his very best with the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Act of 1996, part of an omnibus of crime statutes that effectively pulled the carpet of law enforcement from under the GOP law-and-order hawks.

While Clinton did not get his wish initially (the final version did not contain an abolition of Posse Comitatus in terms of working with police), the writing was left to dry on the wall. The sheer power and pseudo-military aspects of much in current US policing has arguably rendered neat distinctions redundant.

The Australian constitution does provide for the following: “The Commonwealth shall protect every state against invasion and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.” Once declared by the Governor-General, “Permanent Forces” may be called out, with “Emergency Forces and Reserve Forces” sought in the event that numbers are insufficient.

In the past, Australia’s military has become the fall-back option for authorities, called upon as a grand clearing house to supply substitute civilian functions. At points, the authorities in Canberra have been cautious to blend military matters with civilian disputes.

In 1997, the National Farmers Federation urged Prime Minister John Howard to use troops to forcibly “reform” the waterfront and keep the docks running during a strike. “I don’t contemplate,” came Howard’s response, “the use of the military in civilian disputes. I’ve never advocated the use of troops.”

The NFF’s request was perhaps understandable, given that a Labor prime minister, Bob Hawke, had used military personnel and material to replace lost manpower during the famed wage dispute of Australian pilots in 1989.

What is being contemplated in these new measures by Turnbull is the deployment of lethal measures and military control over civilian spaces. The ADF, as with other military arms, can provide heavy lifting in the event of natural disaster, emergencies and the like, but deploying it as a de facto police force is setting a vicious cat amongst the pigeons.

Conflating police and military functions is not only an insidious overreach, but blurs assumptions about justice and law enforcement. As a US federal court put it, “Military personnel must be trained to operate under circumstances where the protection of constitutional freedoms cannot receive the consideration needed in order to assure their preservation.”

Even in the absence of a Posse Comitatus provision in Australia, the tendency to throw the book of evidence and prosecution out and favour summary rough handling, even execution in such cases, is genuine. In this sense, the Australian government risks pushing its domestic arena further down the pathway of a militarisation with grave consequences.

Dr Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.

An Open Letter to Andrew Bragg

Dear Andrew

I am responding to your thoughtful opinion piece in The Guardian which aims to justify the Liberal Party’s creation of The Fair Go propaganda website.

I’m so sorry that the Liberal Party feel so weak and neglected by the mainstream media that you have to spend money to create a website to get your voice out there. Feeling powerless, like you have been blocked from the national debate, must be an awful situation to find yourself in. I hadn’t realised that the readership of your mastheads at News Ltd had shrunk to such an inconsequential size that you can no longer rely on them to campaign on your behalf. How horrible for you. I wasn’t aware that your IPA representatives appearing on every ABC news show are having such a hard time getting your point of view across. It must be awful to have all this coverage and still be losing the argument.

I did know, however, that your ranting right wing cheer squad on Sky News gets less views than some of my blog posts. And I’m a nobody Andrew! I don’t even get paid for putting my opinions out there, yet more people are interested in what I have to say than watching Chris Kenny whine and bitch. This must be more than frustrating for you, poor thing. It’s no wonder you felt compelled to publish a piece in The Guardian to finally get your voice out to sizeable audience. Good on you for doing that.

But, Andrew, I hope I can make you feel a bit better, a bit less meek and downtrodden, by straightening up some of the misinformation, or perhaps the misunderstanding, that you have included in your piece. Firstly, you need to remember that Australia is a democratic nation. As irritating as this fact is for you, it means that us Australians have every right to give a few dollars here and there to fund organisations that represent our interests, such as GetUp, or trade unions, or environmental groups, in order to contribute our resources towards the political debate.

I know how much you would prefer if us pesky little peasants would just sit down, shut up and let your political movement of big business money trample all over us. But that would just make things too easy for you, Andrew! Us people, we have lives and opinions and rights and needs and wants, which includes the right to join political movements that represent us.

I must admit, it is an uphill battle for the sectional interests of us small guys. As you no doubt know from your Liberal Party fundraisers, big business has infinitely more money than the individuals who donate small change to environmental groups, GetUp, unions, any progressive cause you can name.

Remember when the Labor Government wanted to even up the playing field of funds distributed from selling Australia’s natural resources by introducing the mining tax, and your Liberal Party, side by side with billionaire Australians, with the all-powerful mining lobby, campaigned to kill that policy? The miners spent $22 million, which is small change to them, I know, Andrew! But what hope do I have, who earns an annual salary the size of Gina Rinehart’s lunch bill, of having a say in political debates, without democratically pooling what little resources I have into a David-like voice to respond to the Goliaths representing the Liberal Party?

We noticed when Prime Minister Turnbull spent $1.75 million of his own money, again, loose change to him, to help himself get elected. Does this sound like the actions of the weak and powerless? We noticed that Julie Bishop’s Mid Winter Ball gown cost $36,000, which is substantially more than a Newstart recipient receives in a year.  Cheer up Andrew, your power is in safe, rich hands!

So, really, you don’t need to feel so sad about your current predicament, where you think you’re voiceless and powerless, when really you’re holding all the cards in a loaded deck, and us little guys are barely chipping into the power you have to control the way we live our lives. For example, if unions are so big and powerful, how come some of the country’s lowest paid workers have just had their penalty rates cut after your side won your tireless campaign to reduce their wages? Why do unions face some of the toughest industrial laws in the world, such as not having the legal right to strike?

We know you’re disappointed that WorkChoices is democratically dead, buried and cremated, but in actual fact you should be cheering, as you’ve managed, against the odds, to bring in your WorkChoices-utopia by stealth, with casualisation, near-zero wage growth and precarious work the new norm for millions of Australians. This is all while your business mates reap 40% increase in profits, yet, in their powerful, almighty position, choose not to pass any of these rewards onto the workers who created the wealth. Geez Andrew, if this is what it means to be powerless, you guys are doing pretty nicely without power!

I hope this letter has made you feel better about your position in the political debate. It must be down-heartening every time you check the stats for the laughingly called ‘Fair Go’ website to find still no one is engaging in your content and you only have 242 followers on Twitter. You’ve no doubt paid Parnell McGuiness’s PR consultancy far too much money to create the site and it’s not getting anywhere near the audience these dollars would get you if you invested them in well written, relevant and less-propogandist content on a quality opinion site. But hey, you’re right that we should all have a fair go. Keep at it and us little guys will keep at it too. It’s only fair that we each do what’s in our best interest.

Yours Sincerely

Victoria Fielding

More power to you

Rather than writing another article this week about the great Abbott versus Turnbull war on ideology, causing your and my excitement level to maybe rise sharply and rate as ‘slightly interested’, let’s look at some positive events that are occurring right here in Australia.

Even if you have been living under a rock for the past ten years, you have probably heard of Tesla. Elon Musk is the co-founder, CEO and product architect of the company which produces electric vehicles, solar roofs and battery products, and while he might not be the perfect human being, according to his Wikipedia entry, his $15.2 Billion wealth started with a $2,000 seed fund from his father.

In a number of countries around the world (including Australia and New Zealand), you can convert a 6-figure sum into a Tesla vehicle. Apparently, they are quite good albeit expensive. They even have a reasonable range from the battery. When you choose to take your car interstate, Tesla is building a network of ‘superchargers’ which will recharge your shiny new Tesla car in the time it takes to buy a coffee (with an optional smashed avo bruschetta?) as well as a network of chargers at destinations such as motels, tourist attractions and so on that can be used to top up the car while you are otherwise engaged.

While battery or hybrid (battery assisted internal combustion) engine cars are still a novelty in Australia, it isn’t necessarily the case elsewhere in the world. From 2019, all new Volvo’s will have electric assistance or be fully electric. Volkswagen also recently announced that they would be introducing a range of fully electric vehicles in 2020 claiming they had the skills and experience to take on Tesla because of their economies of scale and manufacturing know-how. Nissan, Renault and other companies also offer fully electric vehicles in some countries around the world. Nissan offers the fully electric Leaf in Australia.

The Tesla Model S was the best-selling individual car model in Norway (618 sales) in September 2013 followed by the Nissan Leaf (716 cars) in October 2013, primarily because the Norwegian Government (who wisely invested their mining revenue from oil rather than buying votes as the Howard Australian Government chose to do with the tax receipts from our mining boom) supports free charging stations, eliminates some taxes and vehicle usage charges and has legislated for electric vehicles to be able to use bus lanes. In January 2017, half the new cars registered in Norway were fully electric or hybrid. Certainly, the smaller distances travelled in Norway also helps, but most car trips in Australia are also within the range of most electric vehicles.

Elon Musk was recently in South Australia signing a contract to build ‘the world’s largest lithium battery’ in 100 days, to store the power generated by a wind farm there. He has promised that if the system isn’t working in the timeframe – it’s free (there is sadly no mention of free steak knives also being included if South Australia buys two battery farms). Musk probably has some idea of his chances – certainly you take risks in converting $2,000 into $15 Billion – but it seems the risks he takes pay off more often than they fail.

The first question to ask is – can he do it? While the battery will be considerably larger than the existing ‘largest battery in the world’, the apparent answer is ‘yes he thinks he can’. At the opening of the current ‘largest battery in the world’ installation at Ontario (California), again built by Tesla, their Chief Technical Officer commented

“Essentially, we can go and pour a slab and install the basic wiring, but each one of our Powerpacks is quite self-contained,” said J. B. Straubel, Tesla’s chief technical officer.

All of the batteries, cooling and safety systems, and other equipment are inside the casings, ready to load onto delivery trucks. “Our vehicle work lays a lot of the architectural foundation for this,” Mr. Straubel said. “It’s not as if we’re starting from scratch.”

In the same article, The New York Times reported

California is on track to have an overabundance of energy during the day, when its many solar panels are producing energy, but that supply drops sharply as the sun sets, precisely when demand rises, with residents heading home to use appliances and, increasingly, to charge cars.

The state’s aging nuclear plants have been closed or are being phased out, putting even more pressure on utilities to find other ways to feed the grid. Storage is a natural solution, utility executives say, helping to smooth variations in the power flow from rooftop customers and when solar falls off and conventional plants have not yet filled the gap.

Ronald O. Nichols, president of Southern California Edison, said the utility was looking for more ways to use that energy, instead of curtailing solar production, “which makes no greenhouse-gas-reduction sense.” By 2024, the California system is expected to have far too much energy for at least a few hours each day, he said, adding, “We want to find a way to use that energy productively, and battery storage is certainly a piece of that.”

The utility’s need for storage was amplified after the sudden closing of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in 2013. To fill that gap — and fulfill a state mandate to add storage to its energy portfolio — the utility awarded several contracts for battery storage.

When the scale of the 2015 leak at the Aliso Canyon gas storage facility in the San Fernando Valley became clear, the commission moved to streamline the process for storage projects. That led to the Tesla project at the Mira Loma substation and an electricity purchase agreement from a similar battery project that AltaGas had installed at its natural gas generator in Pomona. Another large battery installation that was part of the response, from a company called AES for a separate regional utility, San Diego Gas & Electric, is nearing full operation in Escondido.

Sounds like a similar situation to Australia, doesn’t it? It’s also pretty obvious from The New York Times report that California at least has ruled out building any more nuclear (or coal for that matter) electricity generation facilities. While Australia has no nuclear power generation, we do have an aging fleet of coal powered generation plant and the ‘sudden’ closure of the Hazelwood plant threw up a number of concerns that the demand for power especially in the Southern states might not be met during the summer of 2017/2018.

While Turnbull and Energy Minister Frydenburg and others are still bashing South Australia around the ears over energy security, the world is clearly moving on. Tim Hollo, the Executive Director of the Green Institute observed on The Guardian’s website recently

For months now, Malcolm Turnbull, Josh Frydenberg, various fossil fuel energy executives and media commentators like Paul Kelly have been rabbiting on about the “energy trilemma”. It’s their contention that energy policy must deal with cost, reliability and emissions, and that it is impossible to achieve all three at the same time. Conveniently, they choose to put emissions at the bottom of this list and bury it under a pile of coal, which they claim is cheap and reliable.

This is not true. Not even close to it. It doesn’t stand up to basic scrutiny.

Renewable energy, which obviously wins on emissions, is now beating coal on cost. What’s more, with an energy grid managed effectively by people who want renewables to succeed, it is no less reliable than fossil fuels. The fact that arch-conservative, Cory Bernardi, was recently revealed to have installed rooftop solar panels demonstrates that these people do not even believe their own rhetoric. They have just chosen to throw truth onto the fire of climate change for political reasons.

While using wind generation to charge grid scale batteries is a new concept for Australia, California has demonstrated that the concept is not only practical, it’s working as renewable energy generation from solar panels on domestic household roofs is being stored in bulk for use in peak periods. Victoria thinks storage is an option as well. The Victorian Government opened a tender earlier this year for up to 100MW of grid-scale energy storage by 2018.

An increasing number of Australians also have solar panels on the roof at home and it is becoming increasingly common to read about large scale solar farms being established particularly in Queensland – near Toowoomba, at Valdora on the Sunshine Coast, near Clare in the Burdekin and near Gympie just to name a few. Origin Energy signed up to purchase all the energy produced from the farm near Clare so the energy resellers are on board as well.

Just as in the US, Australia seems to be embracing renewables, in spite of the government’s less than stellar support for renewable energy and meaningful emissions reductions. While Cory Bernardi claims his solar array installation is for self-sufficiency, solar panels don’t work at night unless there is a battery. According to RenewEconomy, Bernardi is looking at batteries as well

but not until he has monitored his solar generation profile for a while, to work out what size storage system he should get. Very sensible. More points to Bernardi.

Whatever he opts for – and we will keep readers posted on that – let’s hope it performs at a standard higher than the Senator’s opinion of grid-scale battery storage.

“Musk’s numbers and promises (on battery storage for SA) don’t stack up but the SA and federal governments are already taking the bait,” Bernardi wrote in a blog titled “Beware of the Smooth Salesman,” in March.

“After years of peddling fanciful green dreams and endorsing windmills and solar panels as the answer to our growing energy needs, they are close to admitting defeat.

“SA Premier Weatherill yesterday commissioned a new gas power plant and ‘battery storage’. While the proposed power plant isn’t big enough, if it does run out of juice I calculate that Musk’s batteries will provide several minutes’ worth of power before needing a recharge!” he wrote.

While Bernardi is going to install a battery system on his solar system to ensure he has power in the future, he doesn’t believe the same strategy would work on a larger scale. There seems to be a large disconnect between Bernardi’s personal and public actions. Turnbull also has a large solar array on his roof with battery storage.

At this stage who knows if Musk will be supplying Tesla’s battery system for a profit or for free, but the chances of the system failing to store the energy supplied by the wind farm are considerably less than Turnbull, Frydenburg and Bernardi winning the argument that renewable energy is less efficient or more costly than fossil fuelled alternatives.

Trump has justifiably faced scorn from around the world for choosing to withdraw the USA from the Paris Agreement to monitor and reduce reliance on fossil fuels. In reality Turnbull and Frydenburg are no better, supporting the fraudulent concept of ‘clean coal’ domestically, as Trump has done. Interestingly, Turnbull sided with the majority at the recent G20 Meeting in Hamburg, where the ‘G19’ didn’t support Trumps insistence on including ‘clean coal’ in the final communique.

In confirming a communique had been agreed, Dr Merkel took at pot shot at US President Donald Trump, saying she was pleased all countries – with the exception of the US – agreed the Paris climate accord was irreversible.

She said the remaining 19 countries had made a commitment to move swiftly to implement the accord, and that differences with the US had been “noted”.

While Turnbull supports emissions reductions and climate protection measures while outside of the country, it seems he has a different message domestically. As is the case in Trump’s America, some states are going it alone and showing the Australian arch-conservatives up for the self-serving, self-interested rent seekers they really are.

This article by 2353NM was originally published on The Political Sword.

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