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Category Archives: Rossleigh

Morrison: Drop Everything And Start Talking About Boats, Not Votes

People have a tendency to expect history to repeat itself. Of course, it often does, but that doesn’t suit the point I’m making, so I’ll pretend I’m Tony Abbott and just ignore history so that I can make my point.

Quite simply what people like one moment, can be unappealing later on. For example, when you first start a relationship, if the person texts you to say that they’re thinking about you and want to know what you’re doing and how you’re feeling, you may find it sweet, but after a couple of years, it just becomes an interruption to your day and you get mildly annoyed… Or, if the relationship is no longer current, it may lead to you needing a restraining order.

And so with asylum seekers. I thought of this great analogy:

The school principal is sick of latecomers, so he rounds up all the people as they walk in late and sends them to the detention room instead of class. He then locks the gates and announces that anyone arriving after the start of class won’t be allowed in. While some teachers and parents applaud his stance, others try to point out that often kids have legitimate reasons for being late. At the next staff meeting, he announces the great success of the policy, as they no longer have any latecomers. When one teacher points out that’s because they can’t get to the sign-in and register as late, the principal explodes and tells everyone, “I stopped lateness! Do you want kids dangerously attempting to cross the road after the crossing supervisor has knocked off?” There’s a bit of discussion about this and but it’s basically forgotten until some activists have managed to get the school council to ask why the students who were locked up on that first day haven’t been allowed to see the school nurse. (Yes, we’d all forgotten about them, hadn’t we!? “Letting them see the school nurse will lead to more latecomers!” thunders the principal. “Why,” someone asks, ‘when you lock the gates every day and there’s no way in.” The meeting ends with the principal announcing he’ll have to re-open the old detention room because of all the latecomers he’ll have to lock up…

Of course, I am aware that I’m doing exactly what Scott Morrison wants in talking about boat arrivals, when I should be talking about important things like whether Pauline Hanson had sexually harassed somebody and why James Ashby just happens to be around like he was with Peter Slipper. Anyway, while some in the media suggest that he’s winning over this, I can’t help but think that he’s got himself into a terrible mess with his mixed messages and I just couldn’t let it go without doing an interview with Fictional Scott Morrison…

Now, I know what you’re thinking: which one is Fictional Scott? Is it the shouty, parliamentary performer who tells Bill Shorten that he’s not fit to be PM? Or is it the gentler, folksy curry cooker who reminds us all of the dad we never had and makes us grateful for our own father whatever monstrosities he’s committed? Or is the man of God who talked about his faith in his maiden speech? I’m not knocking Morrison for his religion, even if he does seem to think that he’s on first name terms with Jesus. Nothing wrong with talking to someone who may or may not be there. Whatever floats your boat… or stops it if it contains refugees. It’s when you feel that you’re allowed to do whatever because you’re getting answers that we start to have problems.

Well, Fictional Scott is all of these and none of these. Fictional Scott is my creation and any resemblance between him and someone with lots of power over peoples lives is just coincidence… and pretty terrifying.

ME: Fictional Scott, why have you re-opened the Christmas Island detention centre?

Fictional Scott: I didn’t want to, it’s going to be an enormous expense, but you can thank Bill Shorten for that. 

ME: Yes, but why do it now? I mean, I read suggestions that this was the thing sending a signal to people smugglers. 

Fictional Scott: Thanks to Bill Shorten, we’re going to have thousands of asylum seekers drowning at sea, and Border Force is just turning round a boat as we speak. 

ME: But, I thought you didn’t comment on Operational Matters. 

Fictional Scott: No, it’s the Immigration Minister who doesn’t comment on Operational Matters. 

ME: The Immigration Minister doesn’t comment on anything, but why open Christmas Island? Does that mean you won’t be sending new arrivals to Nauru and Manus?

Fictional Scott: We don’t have room on Nauru and Manus…

ME: But didn’t you tell us all the people on those islands would be coming to Australia thanks to the Medivac Bill?

Fictional Scott: No, it was the other Bill. Bill Shorten, that’s who’s to blame!

ME: But, according to you, Manus and Nauru were going to be emptied a few days ago, so why reopen Christmas Island?

Fictional Scott: We’ll need it for all the people needing medical attention after Bob Brown and DiNatale give them a certificate to come here…

ME: But that’s what the Bill allows and, besides, the medical facilities on Christmas Island wouldn’t be able to cope with people needing medical attention. 

Fictional Scott: Look, if you keep asking difficult questions, I’ll just shout at you about how committed I am to keeping our borders safe and building the wall… Wait, I didn’t mean to turn into Fictional Donald. 

ME: I’m sorry, Fictional Scott, it’s too late!

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Asylum Seekers Forced To Share Accomodation With Dangerous People!

For the past five and a half years, the Australian Government has been forcing asylum seekers to share accommodation with dangerous people. I know this because we’ve been told by our government. Some of these people who’ll be brought to Australia for treatment are rapists and murderers…

Actually, I think I may be quoting Donald Trump there. Actually, I think Matthias and Scottie and Christopher may be quoting the Trumpster… wonder when we’ll have a bill before Parliament asking for money so we can build a wall.

Anyway, for the past five years, the government has been forcing women and children (and men too, but for some reason they get overlooked when we’re going for the emotive appeal) to live with these dangerous people who are even more dangerous than Tony Mokbel because nobody suggested that he was too dangerous to let doctors treat!

Still, you can’t expect Scott Morrison to be behaving rationally at the moment. Ok, ok, you’d be an optimist if you ever expected anything but a sales pitch from the old “where the bloody hell are you” guy. However, lately there are signs that he’s working on the theory that if he just copies John Howard then the electorate will just copy the 2001 electorate and vote them back in.

While anything’s possible, there’s a number of things that he’s not taking into account:

  1. 2001 wasn’t just about The Tampa. There was also that attack on the World Trade Center which had people all confused and scared and they wanted a strong man to protect them from the terrorists.
  2. Kim Beasley capitulated and waved through legislation which he told everyone he didn’t agree with. This gave people the impression that he was weak and Howard was strong. (See point 1 again). Shorten is standing up to Morrison and it’s Scottie who looks like the man out of control, even if he is doing a good shoutie, cross man.
  3. People bought the “children overboard” lie. While it’s possible that the Liberals may be able to find something to convince a handful of people, most of the electorate is a little bit more cynical about politicians generally now that we’ve have so many Prime Ministers. As the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times and I’ll be nominated to head of the body regulating the banks.”
  4. Leaders who become leader after launching a coup against the elected leader don’t have a very good record in the next election. This may be why Momo was at pains to suggest that he just became leader by accident and didn’t really plan it.
  5. Barnaby Joyce… I don’t need to elaborate, surely.
  6. Morrison actually needs to win seats to stay in power. In a new parliament, there’s no guarantees of confidence and supply. It’s a whole new ball game and if the Independents held a balance of power in the new one, they’d hardly be convinced to support the current Keystone Cabinet.
  7. In order to avoid looking out of control, the Coalition have turned their backs on potential legislation about energy prices, the banks, investigations into the disability sector and just about everything they told us was a priority. This is in spite of Scottie’s assurance that he wasn’t afraid of losing a vote… why he lost one the just other day and we only had the longest question time in history because there were a lot of questions!! (See point one again!)
  8. Every few days, Tony Abbott reminds some people that they actually voted for him once and, while they can forgive themselves for one mistake like that, voting for Morrison may make them wonder if they can actually blame ASIC for believing the banks when they said they were sorry. Remember the earlier comment: “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times and I’m a One Nation voter.”
  9. Scott Morrison is not John Howard. Actually, I suspect that know he no longer wears glasses, John Howard isn’t even John Howard these days.
  10. Sooner or later, some investigative journalist will find out exactly why we’re paying some guys with a non-existent post box as an address on Kangaroo Island millions of dollars for handling security for asylum seekers.
  11. People will get sick of looking at dead fish. (That’s a reference to the Murray Darling situation and not the Coalition front bench)
  12. Peter Dutton speaks from time to time.

This is all ignoring the fact that Bill Shorten campaigned well last election, while Scott Morrison is an unknown quantity in an election campaign, the strange fetish the Coalition seems to have for coal, the fact that the Budget will have to admit the economic forecasts were a little too optimistic and the free kick they’ve given Shorten by suggesting that he’ll have billions to spend with his decision to tax those who plan to negative gear and retirees. Ok, it’s not the one percent, but it’s not most of us!

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So Why Wasn’t That Boat Turned Back?

Yeah, it’s satire, right? It’s a newspaper article from next week.

February 23rd, 2019 

BOAT ARRIVES ON CHRISTMAS ISLAND

A boat of asylum seekers/illegal immigrants/rapists and murders (this depends on whether you read ABC/Murdoch/radio shock jocks) has landed on Christmas Island.

“This is on Bill Shorten’s head,” Peter Dutton announced to a waiting media, who watched the arrival from the beach on Christmas Island, after a tipoff that Michaelia Cash assured everyone wasn’t from her office. “We’ll need to open several thousand detention centres and give the contract to those two guys with an office on Kangaroo Island. They’ll probably need to charge at least a miillion dollars per illegal immigrant and that’s why the deficit has blown out again!” 

Back in Canberra, Scott Morrison was asked if this meant that his border protection policies had failed. He replied that this was almost certainly Shorten’s fault, and whatever, “No information on boats got through under my watch, so if it was a stuff-up, it was on Dutton’s watch, and we know that even though he wasn’t as good as me and I’m PM, I’m still ambitious for him and we certainly agree that most important thing is that this is why Shorten must never be PM.”

Of course, surely if a boat actually arrived nobody would report it like this. They’d point out that, whichever way you look at it, the boat got through on your watch, so you can’t blame Labor. At this point they’d say it was because the boats all started up again and we’d cut funding so that we could get the Budget back in the black, and someone would ask then why were you paying a private company so much for security when you could have put all the asylum seekers in a luxury hotel in Sydney with room service for half the cost.

Of course, a luxury hotel in Sydney wouldn’t be a disincentive and the people smugglers would probably put that in their “brochures” which they hand out to people from the Middle East to who just happen to be on the streets of Indonesia with no intention of coming to Australia…

And this Bill that they passed is unconstitutional and illegal and Bill Shorten will never be PM because people care more about not treating sick people than they care about how we’ve fucked up just about everything we’ve touched including two Prime Ministers…

Oh, wait. This is not satire any more. I’m just describing the world that Christopher Pyne seems to live in.

Still, at least we can thank them for action on climate change. I know this because Tony Abbott just claimed credit for marriage equality. I mean, he opposed it every step of the way, but it happened anyway…

Maybe he’ll claim credit for Bill Shorten being PM one day. At least that has a bit more credibility than anything else they’re claiming today.

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Sky News Commentator Argues For Primary School Text With Underage Sex And Drugs!

No, I’m serious. Not only that, the play was written by someone who had homosexual tendencies! Honestly, do these people have no shame?

Ok, perhaps you’d better watch this if you don’t know what I’m talking about:

Kevin Twitter Sky 

If you haven’t seen it and can’t be bothered watching it, basically Kevin Donnelly tells us that because of the LGTBI agenda primary schools can’t teach things like “Romeo and Juliet”… And his favourite, “Little Black Sambo”!

Now, Kevin tells us that he’s an educated man, so I suppose he’s well aware that there is evidence that some of Shakspeare’s love sonnets were written about a man. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that. Of course, why should it matter if I did…

Anyway. Kevin was responding to a call to study texts from a more diverse range of writers. Rather ironic then, that his support of Shakespeare, because he doesn’t like the LGTBI “agenda”, overlooks the fact that a modern Shakespeare may be exactly the sort of person that it was suggested we should study.

However, I’d like to interview Kevie just so I could ask the following questions:

  • Can you name a time when schools in Australia ever studied Shakespeare at the primary school level?
  • Do you think that texts which promote sex between thirteen-year-old girls and their boyfriends are appropriate?
  • Are you aware that Father Lawrence encourages Juliet to take a drug and this leads to her suicide? Do you support priests offering drugs to teenage girls?
  • Are you on Capulet’s side when threatens his daughter over her refusal to commit bigamy by marrying Paris?
  • Are you aware that Shakespeare is part of the LGTBI agenda given his sexual history and how many times people cross-dress in his plays? Is this appropriate for you to be pushing this agenda on the media?
  • What do you like about “Little Black Sambo”? Is it that Sambo is resourceful enough to climb a tree and let the tigers turn to butter or do you just have a thing for men with a dark complexion? 
  • You wrote a book called “Dumbing Down”. Are you aware that “dumbing” is not a proper word?
  • Apart from you, is there any else in your organisation who agrees with you? (The answer is “No”, because his company consists of him alone) 

I suspect that I have one or two other questions for him, but as I don’t have a “Hard Chat” segment like that Tom guy, I’ll never get the chance to ask them.

Still, I can’t help wondering why idiots like Kevin Donnelly are given air time when there are so many intelligent people who nobody ever asks to comment on anything. (All right, I did mean me, but I don’t just mean me. There’s a lot of people who are much, much more intelligent and knowledgable than I am and I have to search to find their ideas. Google: Rutger Bregman, Tim Dunlop, Michael Moore, Paul Krugman and Will Richardson just to get a few I’ve read in the past twenty-four hours! Why aren’t these people on our airways… That’s rhetorical, you don’t have to talk about Rupert and the whole corrupt system. Gees, I get it!)

Perhaps I should have just ignored my wife and offered to stand as a candidate for Clive Palmer’s party. She said it would be embarrassing.

She was probably right, but I do have to wonder if it’s not more embarrassing to listen to people in the media who just complain about things that never happened and get very angry about the fact that other people seem to think that they have a right to an opinion.

sigh

Take care. The world is making progress, even if seems like it’s going backwards every time you take an interest in the news.

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Where Is John Kerr, Now That We Need Him?

When Scott Morrison announced his intention to just ignore a “stupid vote” on medical evacuations, I sort of presumed that he was simply saying that he wouldn’t rush off to an election just because he no longer controlled the House of Representatives. This would be the first time sitting government had lost a legislative bill since before you were born, unless you’re one of the ninety-year-old people who’s reading this. However, on closer reading, I’m not so sure. He seemed to be suggesting that Parliament was just there to make suggestions and it was up to him as PM to decide whether to implement them or not. And if that’s the case, then I could envisage the Liberals arguing that a successful motion of no confidence doesn’t mean they have to resign; it’s merely an example of how dangerous the Labor Party are’ what a risk to our economy they’re creating and why we need to start ignoring Parliament and to do “whatever it takes” to continue to govern. That’s only one step away from suggesting that if the election goes the wrong way, we can just ignore it and have Bill Shorten arrested for sedition. Or possibly even before an election is held.

No, we could never have a sitting government who simply ignored an election result and used the AFP or ASIO to hold power.  This is Australia, isn’t it? Even though we did have a sitting government, who got sacked by the Governor-General simply because they couldn’t get supply through the Senate, that was different, because… well, it was just different.

Yes, it’s far-fetched and I don’t believe it for a moment, but I am beginning to wonder if we all got it wrong when we thought, “At least, it’s not Peter Dutton.” I suspect that Scott Morrison has no more empathy than his leadership rival but, unlike Dutton, is emboldened by the idea that God has chosen him to lead Australia and this is part of some divine plan so whatever he does, God will protect him…  I probably should add here that by “God” I am referring to “God” as Scott Morrison understands him and not Alan Jones. There is no need to explain to me either that “God” doesn’t exist; nor is there a need to complain about the ridiculous amount of power that he has… By that last “he”, I mean Alan and not God, because if you believe in God, it’s sort of a given that He has a ridiculous amount of power. However, even if you believe in Alan, you probably occasionally worry about the amount of power he seems to have.

Yes, it’s even more far-fetched than believing that Morrison ignored the security warnings on moving Australia’s embassy to Jerusalem was because he actually hoped it would prompt a terrorist attack and that would be his “Tampa” moment.

But it’s not as far-fetched as Tim Wilson’s suggestion that he has no conflict of interest when he’s heading the committee on franking credits, as well as coordinating its sitting to coincide with the protests.

While there’s been a lot of misinformation about the franking credits and stories that have literally told us that the Labor party plan to take money from Nana. Yes, Nana. Not your grandmother, not even someone else’s grandmother, but Nana. All I can say is, “Nana, thank God you died all those years ago so you won’t feel the pain when that grave-robber, Chris Bowen steals whatever you’ve got left in the cold, hard ground!”

Anyway, I thought it might be good instead of case studies with the poor people who’ve paid tax all their lives and managed to start a self-managed super fund in order to minimise tax and look at how the principle of government largesse is applied to others. As an aside, I read a story about someone who was going to lose about twenty thousand a year in franking credits under Labor’s proposal. He complained that he’d paid tax all his life, including over a million dollars in capital gains. Wow, that means that he has made in excess of three million dollars in capital gains alone. Poor chap, I’ll start a GoFundMe page to ensure that he doesn’t go without!

Let’s take some case studies:

Mythical Case Study 1: Joanne has worked hard all her adult life and has forty thousand in the bank and an income of thirty thousand a year from share dividends. She loses her job. She applies for Newstart but is told that not only does she have too much money in the bank to qualify, but her income from shares means that she is above the cut-off limit. Using the franking credits arguments, her assets shouldn’t matter. 

Mythical case study 2: Andy is a student who works part-time earning $17,000 a year. He has work-related expenses. However, he can’t take these of his tax because he doesn’t pay any income tax. Applying the franking credits argument, he should get a cash refund equivalent to what he’d get if he were paying thirty cents in the dollar or more in income tax. 

Mythical case study 3: Rupert owns several Newspapers and TV companies, even though they pay no taxable income, this makes him ineligible for a pension. Of course, he wouldn’t be eligible anyway, because he renounced his Australian citizenship. 

Now, as I’ve said, I’m sure that there will be a number of people who aren’t wealthy and who will be hit by this. However, when I say “hit”, I mean, they may have to adjust their arrangements to maintain their current lifestyle. And by “not wealthy”, I mean it in the sense that they don’t have a private jet rather than they may need to go to a food bank in the next ten years. As the guy from Wilson# Asset Management told us people won’t pay the franking credit, they’ll just move their money offshore. And when I say “a number”, I mean something above ten but less than a billion. In fact, “The Financial Review” had a headline story telling us that en ex-teacher would be now voting against Labor in the coming election. I’m not sure why this was worth a whole story unless it was because it was the only person they could find who changed his vote as a result of the proposal.

Whatever your point of view, the fact remains that the media are spinning it a totally dishonest way. This is not taking money away from people. If Medicare payments are a handout and unemployment benefits are a handout, then franking credits are just as much a handout. Watch how we’ll hear stories of people with taxable incomes of less than ten thousand having their franking credits ripped from their hands.

Of course, we won’t be told about their connection to the Liberal Party in some cases.

And we certainly won’t be told about their non-taxable income.

# No relation to Tim Wilson, who’s chairing the Parliamentary inquiry into this. And by no relation, I mean it’s only a distant one and they haven’t even met apart from when they did a number of years ago and the fact that Tim has investments in managed funds with the company is another one of those things that happen from time to time which Labor use to sling mud… You know, like the way they attacked the banks for populist reasons.

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Coalition Election Strategy Revealed And The Answer Is A Camel!

Before I reveal the Liberal’s election strategy and slogan, I’d better explain about the camel.

From time to time, I do the Saturday quiz in “The Age” on my iPad and while I don’t always know the answer, sometimes I know I don’t know and other times I feel that I can have an educated guess. So, when the quiz asked me how long a rider had to stay on the bull in order to get a score, I guessed four seconds and I was rather keen to check to see if I were right.

However, when I tapped the answer I was rather surprised to discover that the answer was, in fact, “A camel”.

Yes, I quickly decided that someone had made a mistake and put in the wrong answer. Ok, this may make me sound like a Liberal politician when an expert gives an answer that they don’t like on a topic like climate change, but I’m pretty sure that the answer was not “A camel” if only because camels are not usually used as a measure of time.

Although I can picture Josh Frydenbeg trying to argue that it was, if Scottie had given that as an answer.

“Well, of course a camel is a measure of time in some places!”

How long is a camel?

“How long? It’s half two camels, and a quarter of four camels.”

On 7:30 last night, Josh tried valiantly to claim that the banking mess was Labor’s fault for not doing something when they were in office. When he was stopped from doing that by Leigh Sales, he switched to “I’m not looking to the past, I’m looking to the future” before launching into a recap of what they’d done in the past.

He then went on to tell us that while he agreed that boards and senior management had been very naughty in the past, it was up to boards and the shareholders to decide if “heads should roll” in the future. Mm, if Josh had been around at the time of the Fitzgerald inquiry into police corruption in Queensland, I guess he would have told us that it was ultimately up to Joh and Terry Lewis to decide what action should be taken.

Will ASIC be abolished and replaced due to its reluctance to litigate? Nah, we’ll just give a new head, and give them more powers and more resources and we’ll put in place someone to watch what the regulator is doing. I guess there’s a job for Amanda Vanstone or some retiring Liberal politician.

We were told that the Liberals inherited an economy where debt was rising, but they’ve turned that around. They inherited a debt of less than $300 billion which they’ve managed to double but apparently they’ve turned it around. They haven’t started paying anything back, but that’s not the issue. What is? Well, the answer to that is simple. It’s a camel.

Yes, the slogan for the Liberals in the coming election according to someone who knows won’t be “Have a go and get a go”. Neither wil it be “Trust us, we fixed the economy, we fixed the banks and now we’re going to fix you right up.” No, apparently, they’re going to try the stability line. This might seem rather surprising given their leadership changes and the number of ministers heading for the exits while there’s still time for them to be appointed to a government job, but they’re going to give it a try.

The slogan will be: “Stable hands for a stable economy”.

Mind you, this may have to change when they realise that stable hands are the ones who have to muck out the stalls and deal with shit all day!

While some past strategies have relied on a dog whistle to racists, or appeals to the hip pocket nerve, in this election campaign the Liberals will be targeting the gullible, believing that’s the place where they’re most likely to pick up votes.

In fact, it’s probably the only place they’ll pick up votes.

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Good Guys, Bad Guys, Scott Morrison And Why Liberals Seem To Be Backing Failure!

Ok, I’d like to start with a little fiction:

It’s noticed that a number of young people are getting into trouble after consuming alcohol. The city council announces that there’s no real problem; there’s always been underage drinkers and we can leave it to the police to deal with. However, after a lot of public outcry they appoint a special investigator. He questions a large number of people and discovers a racket where – not only are fake IDs rampart – but many of the hotels and clubs are helping kids to manufacture them. The police turn a blind eye to this because they have to drink at the hotels after work. Besides, some of them are hoping to get work as security in the hotels when they quit the force. Naturally, there’s a lot of public anger when this report is released and some are calling for the hotel owners to be prosecuted for breaking the law.The investigator hands his report to the city council with recommendations to ensure that this sort of behaviour is stopped. 

I think you know where I’m going with this…

How does the council respond? Mayor Scott says that while there have been a lot of illegal practices and we need to do something about this, we also need to be careful. After all, hotels and clubs employ a lot of people and we certainly don’t won’t to do anything that might cause some of them to lay people off or shut down. We need to proceed carefully and…

Yes, Scott Morrison’s initial response to the banking Royal Commission didn’t exactly fill me with confidence. While I have heard the phrase, “you don’t need a sledgehammer to crack a nut”,  I suspect that we may need more than a nutcracker to change the culture of the financial institutions. We certainly need a government who sees it as a problem and not one which seems to have the attitude that, well, they were only trying to make money and surely that’s what everyone should be doing. I mean, they were having a go and doesn’t that mean that they should get a go? Surely white collar crime comes with a “Get out of jail free” card?

If you replace the crimes of financial institutions with importing heroin, prostitution or people smuggling, you’ll, of course, get a completely different reaction from the Liberals in terms of the desirability of having a go. “Having a go” is only a good thing when it’s a Liberal backer who’s doing it.

Indeed, Julia Banks decision to have a go at Greg Hunt’s seat wasn’t greeted with any rhetoric about what a great thing this was. In fact, some even suggested that Turnbull was backing her with his own money. Outrageous!! We only like it when Turnbull money is donated to us. (Interestingly, I decided to look up Sportsbet odds to see if she was being given any chance. While neither is always right, betting odds are more reliable than opinion polls because bookies don’t like giving away money. Current betting was Labor $1.85, Coalition $2.20, Julia Banks $4.75)

Perhaps my suggestion that Liberals are putting all their money on Labor and running dead isn’t completely silly. After all, if you think about the assertions that we’ll be headed for a recession if Labor are elected is a pretty effective potential “I told you so”, in the event of a Labor victory. Generally, our recessions have been caused by overseas conditions, so if China and the USA’s trade war reduces demand world-wide, we could have trouble in Australia. Labor will have trouble explaining that it’s really nothing to do with them, after all the Liberal warnings.

On the other hand, if by some miracle the Liberals were returned, how would they explain that the recession was – in fact – still Labor’s fault. Ok, they’d certainly try to argue that… Let’s remember that Labor were to blame for the oil shocks of the seventies, world-wide inflation in the eighties and the GFC. No, didn’t say “responsible for”, I said “to blame for”. Just as the current dip in house prices is all the result of a policy that hasn’t even been implemented yet.

Whatever, it seems that good guys and bad guys make up a large part of the Liberal narrative. It’s not just that we have a difference of opinion or a different world view. People who don’t have a go are bad, people who break the law are bad (but only if they’re part of something like an “African gang”; organised crime figures can run fund-raisers without there being a problem) and, of course, Labor and Greens are bad. Bankers, on the other hand, are “having a go” and if that encourages them to occasionally overstep the mark, well, that’s why we have bodies to tell them that they should stop and will tell them again if the first time wasn’t enough. Of course, if they still don’t stop, the regulatory bodies have, on a number of occasions, asked the banks what sort of fine do they think it would be fair for them to pay, so we don’t have to go through all the rigmarole of going to court.

Yep, it’s not just a difference in whether you’re a lawbreaker or not that makes you a bad guy in Coalition eyes. And it’s not just a difference in what sort of crime it is; stealing a loaf of bread is evil, but stealing water is understandable. It’s who you are that counts most and, if you wear a suit, why, you must be having a go and we need to be very, very careful about criticising you, because I may have been photographed shaking your hand too many times and trying to tell the public that I’ve washed my hands since, just won’t cut it!

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If Labor Are Elected, There’s A Very Real Risk That Australia Will Tumble Into A Recession!

A few days again our PM, Scott Moribund, warned that there was a real risk of a recession in Australia under a Labor government. Well, given the polls and the state of the world economy, one would have to say that he’s right.

I mean, he didn’t say that Australia wouldn’t end up in a recession if he were re-elected, he spoke about the likely possibility of what could happen under Labor, and given that he’s not likely to be PM in a few months, there’s almost no chance of Scottie being there if a recession hits, so it’s far more likely that we’ll have a recession under Labor than the Liberals. In much the same way, Roger Federer is much more likely than me to lose the final of Wimbledon this year.

Still it IS hard to imagine a recession hitting Australia in the near future given how much jobs and growth the Liberals have “created” with their plan. I still haven’t heard them articulate exactly what their plan is beyond ensuring that the economy is STRONG, growth is happening and we keep bringing out people on temporary work permits to hide the unemployment rate. What’s their plan for ensuring that the economy is strong? Well, sound economic management? What does that mean? Ensuring that the economy is strong.

Apart from Mr Morrison’s tricky way of suggesting that if the world economy hits the wall and we have the GFC Mark 2, then it will all be Bill Shorten’s fault even though the Liberals keep suggesting that Labor will be running an expansionary spending program, while the Coalition intend to suck money from the economy through running Budget surpluses, we’re going to hear another slippery use of data quite frequently in the coming weeks.

Last year, school funding was changed so that it was the taxable income of the parents rather than where they lived that would determine funding. While it seems fair on the surface that people with low taxable incomes should get the most in terms of funding, you only have to remember that adding the word “taxable” in front of income means that I’m wealthier than many of the multinational companies that grace our shores, generously providing jobs even though they’re seemingly making less profit than if they sold up all their assets and invested the money at two percent interest. While in some cases the taxable income will reflect the lack of wealthy parents at a school, in others, we’ll just be rewarding people who’ve managed to minimise their tax by giving them more in government funding.

Yes, we’re hearing about these poor people who are going to miss out because of those bloody socialists taking away their franking credits. An article in “The Financial Review” the other day suggested that it was mainly women who were going to miss out, while adding that they were taking money away from “Nana”. The writer used the word “Nana” a number of times. Why that’s even worse than when they hurts the “mum and dad” investors. Of course, nobody ever points out that Rupert and Gina are “mum and dad” investors.

Personally, if Nana is going to lose twenty thousand dollars under Labor’s scheme, I say bad luck but I’ll certainly be nice to her in the hope of being part of her will. While Josh and Scott have been telling us that some of these people are on very low taxable incomes, they never point out that retirees over 60 aren’t taxed on their superannuation earnings at all. So even if Nana is has a Self-managed Super Fund from which she draws a million year, her taxable income will be zero from this.

However, if we’re not talking about Nana, but one of those mum and dad investors. Let’s call him, Ken. If Ken has negatively geared twenty properties and managed to reduce his taxable income to somewhere near Nana’s, he too can claim the franking credits back in cash from the government.

Of course, there haven’t been many stories in the papers which point out that if someone was going to lose out, for example, $12,000 under Labor’s changes, they’d need to earning dividends of around $40,000. This would mean that they had over a million dollars in share holdings. Ok, I understand that if they have no super they may not be holidaying on their yacht, but it’ll be a few years before you have to use your house for a reverse mortgage.

There may need to be some tweaking so that someone who only owns a handful of shares  -which they bought when John “Shifty” Howard assured them that Telstra 2 was a great investment and we’re selling it for ideological reasons not because we want to grab your hard earned money  – doesn’t end up struggling to pay their energy bill… Although, we have been assured that energy bills are coming down so that should be ok.

Franking credits were introduced to stop people being taxed twice. Once when the company paid the tax and again when your dividend was added to your other income. If you don’t have enough taxable income to pay any tax, then your not being taxed twice, you’re not even being taxed once because you get the money that the company paid to the government and the government get nothing.

On another matter, I noticed a tweet today from John Riddick, who wrote Make The Liberal Party Great Again (Again? Someone needs to break it to him gently):

“Zali Sunday, Banks today & more to come. Phelps & Sharkey plugged into these campaigns. These ‘indies’ are not independent. They are part of a co-ordinated well-organised national campaign … also known as a political party in disguise.”

Personally, I don’t think that Independents should be allowed to be part of a “co-ordinated well-organised national campaign”. It’s unfair on the poor Liberals who haven’t been able to co-ordinate anything apart from their blue ties.

Cheers.

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Will The Greens Be The Opposition After The Next Election?

As we slowly say goodbye to January, there are so many unanswered questions:

  • Will Peter Dutton challenge?
  • Will the Liberals be able to find a woman prepared to stand in Higgins?
  • Will the next Liberal to announce that they won’t be contesting the election be a backbencher or a minister?
  • Which will be the first country to say that if we’re going to recognise the opposition leader in Venezuela, then there’s an even bigger case to be made for recognising Bill Shorten as the PM in Australia?
  • If a No Confidence Motion is moved on the first sitting day in Parliament, will someone ask if those voting to support the government really have confidence in Scott Morrison or are they just doing it because they were confused?
  • Will the government suddenly reverse its policy of not commenting about “On water” matters to announce that they’ve just turned back a boat and the brochures from the people smugglers were clearly stating that a Shorten government will allowing people to drown at sea?
  • Will someone point out that drowning at sea is a deterrent to people boarding boats?
  • Will someone else ask to see the brochures and, if they are produced, ask why they were written in English and printed by the same company that the Liberals use?
  • Will Peter Reith tell us that he has video of himself not saying that children were thrown into the water and his recent Order of Australia is proof that he’s a great guy and that the phonecard thing never happened?
  • Will Morrison call off Parliament because it’s full of people who don’t like him and are trying to get rid of him? Or will he hope that these people will be happy to concentrate on attacking the Labor Party?
  • Will someone point out that letting John Howard advise the NSW Liberals on campaign strategy is rather ironic giving that he’s the only living PM to lose his seat? It’s rather like taking investment advice from Alan Bond… Ok, you’re right, Alan Bond is dead so that’s potentially less damaging.
  • How many days before the Murdoch press run a story about factions in the Labor Party jockeying for positions or leadership tensions threatening to bring Shorten down before the election?
  • At what point will someone being interviewed about how Labor’s changes to negative gearing tax concessions will say something like: “We’re not rich, you know. Our income is less than the average wage and this will mean that we have to sell three or four of our investment properties just to keep our kids at Scotch and PLC!”
  • Will someone playing drinking Bingo during the Liberal election launch where they have a drink every time Scott or Josh say, “Labor’s mess” need to be rushed to hospital with alcoholic poisoning after twenty minutes?
  • Will Barnaby Joyce announce that people are more important than fish and people don’t need water because they can always drink beer?
  • Will the AFP raid the offices of GetUp! and make arrests on the grounds that trying to remove the head of Border Force can be considered treason?
  • Will Warren Mundine change parties again after the election? Or before?
  • Will the Immigration Minister actually do an interview?
  • Will Barnaby Joyce clarify his statement about beer and tell us that one can’t always drink beer and that sometimes it’s inappropriate. Not only that, but ALWAYS drinking beer would leave one incapable of doing one’s job…
  • Will Tony Abbott say that he doesn’t take anything for granted, but clearly you couldn’t vote for a woman instead of me after Julia Gillard?
  • Will Scott Morrison draw another curry analogy on the grounds that one where he compared the defence forces to a curry went so well?
  • Will Michaelia Cash be released from protective custody?
  • Are Labor favorites in the betting markets because the Liberals have put so much money on them in the hope of making a killing and having plenty of money for the next election campaign?
  • Is Scott Morrison their insurance that the bet will pay off?
  • And finally, will The Greens be the Opposition after the election because they have more seats than the Liberals?

Yes, the coming three months will answer some of these questions. Stay tuned.

Josh Frydenberg And The “Invisible Hand” Of Energy Policy!

In Victoria yesterday, there were blackouts because the system couldn’t cope with the demand. The energy market operator cut power in a number of places to stop the grid shutting down.

Of course, this prompted the Federal Energy Minister to talk about the need for “reliability”, which is code for let’s build more coal-fired powers stations. This argument would be more persuasive were it not for the fact that Victoria’s problems were largely due to failures in two of the state’s three coal-fired power stations. Apparently, when coal-fired power stations break down, this is a reliable breakdown whereas solar or wind have unreliable breakdowns.

Still, I don’t see the need for the government to do anything about energy policy. After all, Josh Frydenberg gave a stirring speech about how his party believes in “the invisible hand” of capitalism while that Bill Shorten believes in the “dead hand of socialism”.

Now, I know a lot of you lack faith in things “invisible”, but let me explain in a way that you’ll understand. The phrase “the invisible hand” was first coined by Adam Smith a long time ago. So long ago that it was before Menzies was in short pants. Any phrase that’s been around for that long has something going for it, surely. And basically it means that like God, the forces of the market will move invisibly through the world and fix things. (Ok, you don’t have to believe in God to use this analogy. In fact, when you consider the plagues and striking down of the first born and various other retributions that religions have laid at God’s feet, it’s probably better for capitlism if you don’t!)   For example, if I own all the food supply in a town and I charge too much, eventually the invisible hand will lead me to reduce my price because I’ll have starved so many people that the market drops because of all the dead people. If people were to lose faith in the “invisible hand” at such a time, the “dead hand of socailism” may take over leading to chaos when people storm my silos and take the food without paying the market price. I believe this is refered to as the dead hand because they will start distributng food to people who’ve done nothing to deserve it and therefore are kept alive when they should be dead.

Anyway, as we know from Josh’s stirring speech, the energy market would take care of itself if we’d just stop getting in the way of the invisible hand. Mind you, it isn’t easy to avoid an invisible hand, because, well, one can’t always see it and so one doesn’t know that one is actually in its way. In simple terms, when demand for energy is high, suppliers can charge more so it’s in the interests of the market to ensure that there isn’t too much supply or else they’d lack the capacity to price gouge when we have an extreme weather event. The Greens, Labor and all those on the left are trying to stop extreme weather events by joining international agreements to stop climate change, drastically reducing the opportunities for profit for the energy suppliers.

Mr Frydenberg went on to warn us about the gathering “storm clouds hanging over the global economy”. He then became rather confused by telling us that his party’s plan could bring about “growth, aspiration and budget repair”. A political party which plans to bring up such things sounds suspiciously like the “dead hand of socialism”. What if we doin’t want to aspire? Are we sent to re-education camps?

But more confusing was his pitch that his party would be a “steady hand” in such troubled times. If we’ve got an invisible hand, then surely that would be the right hand, making Josh’s party’s hand the left hand… which – given they have a plan for the economy – makes them the “dead hand of socialism”.

This is nearly as confusing as the “Australian of The Year Awards” taking place on January 25th. I mean, remember the furore when Triple J shifted their Hottest 100 to January 27th? Surely to hold the awards on any other day than the 26th is the same sort of lefty nonsense!

Speaking of awards, the award for “You’re Not Going To Ignore What I Did And Get Away With It!” has to go to Matthew Flinders. Dead and buried under a railway station, when  Scott Morrison announces the replica of Cook’s ship will re-enact the voyage and go round the country, up pops Matthew more than two hundred years after his death to remind us all of his place in history. “Hey,” his bones seemed to be saying, “I’m generally acknowledged as the first person to circumnavigate Australia, even if I did have an indigenous person on my ship who the history books don’t bother to mention.”

Perhaps, we could have Flinder’s bones sent out here to accompany Cook’s ship and a replica of Cook as they make their way round the coast preaching reconciliation and the need for Australia Day to be forever 26th January because that was two days after the First Fleet landed at Botany Bay and the day that two French frigates sailed into the bay as the British were packing up to go to Port Jackson.

Speaking of ships, Michael Keenan has decided to join Kelly O’Dwyer and spend more time with his family. One wonders if the candidate who replaces them will announce that they are standing because they wish to spend less time with their family! In other circles, this phrase is a euphemism for “Everyone now knows that I’m incompetent or dishonest but we figured it would be better to try and hide it rather than publicly sacking me!”  However, in this case, I find it completely plausible that they really are choosing to spend more time with their family than spending more time with Uncle Scottie, Craig Kelly, Tony and the rest of the merry men in Canberra.

Of course, Jane Hume’s announcement that she wouldn’t be contesting Higgins because she was “enjoying being a Senator” begs the question, “Compared to what?” In this case, I believe that she has looked at the internal polling and realised that the seat is no certainty, even on a margin of ten percent and that she enjoys being a senator much, much more than being a failed lower house candidate. Or possibly she’s heard the rumour that certain people are trying to get Costello to stand so that he can be Opposition Leader come June. Whatever, I have it on good authority that the Liberals internal pollling suggests that when it comes to campaigning in the Victorian seats where they still have a chance, then they should throw all their resources into the other states.

Peter, I believe, wants to spend more time with his family, but we’ll wait and see what happens.

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Morrison Clarifies Dress Code: Thongs Out, But Flip-flops Fine!

Just when we all thought that Donald Trump was the answer to the question: How stupid can a politician be?, up steps Australian’s contender in Scott Morrison!

Old ScoMo has been around for years, but like that relative you only see at Christmas, you’ve just considered him irrelevant and rather boring. However, now that he’s popping up every day and you’re forced to listen to him, you have the same reaction as when you see an unattended toddler near the road: Shouldn’t someone be minding him? 

A few times this week, I’ve started to write about the latest offering only to be interrupted by a news story, a tweet or a text asking if Morrison really just said what he said.

Last week, he was the Prime Minister for Standards and he was going to insist on a dress code for the citizenship ceremony. I did start to write a piece where we had night club bouncers at the door to the ceremony forcing people to line up, telling them that couldn’t come in with shoes like that and letting through donors to the Liberal Party as though they were friends of the owner. I stopped. It was a bit too close to reality and I was worried the bits that weren’t might give them ideas.

Yesterday, however, Scottie seemed to be implying that the dress code was more a suggestion and that there were no plans afoot to actually ban thongs. (Pun intended, sorry!)

Of course,  we haven’t been given any idea about the percentage of people that are turning up inappropriately dressed? Is it fifty percent? Ten percent? Two percent? Nobody at all? We don’t know, because like so many of Morrison’s announcements, he was responding to something that wasn’t really a problem while ignoring all the things that are.

Now, I guess you’ve caught with the fact that we’ll be spending $12 million on events to celebrate the 250th anniversay of James Cook’s landing in Australia. Part of the money will be spent on allowing a replica of The Endeavour to sail around the country in what our PM described as a “re-enactment of Cook’s voyage” and to help us better understand the “historic voyage and its legacy for exploration, science and reconciliation”!

By the end of the day, Mr Morrison himself certainly “better” understood the voyage, because he pointed out that Cook did not, in fact, circumnavigate the country and the only part of the voyage that was a re-enactment was the bit where he sailed down the East Coast. Yes, of course, Scottie knew that and wasn’t just correcting a mistake when it was pointed out to him. We all know that when we see a re-enactment of… say, a crime on TV, we know that it’s only the bits that actually happened that are the re-enactment and if they decide to throw in some extra bits we should just ignore them and know that whiile it’s being called a “re-enactment” there will, of course, be extra places and events that didn’t happen added for our greater understanding… Not that I’m suggesting that Cook’s claim to Australia was a crime. After all, as Scott pointed out, if it wasn’t for James Cook, there’d be no legacy of reconciliation.

Ah yes, if I were to suggest that, then I’d be one of those people… You know. the ones Morrison referred to when he said:  “The thing about Cook is I think we need to rediscover him a bit because he gets a bit of a bad show from some of those who like to sort of talk down our history,”

Yes, as he later added. “We’ve got great stories – some of them are hard, some of them are magnificent – but we’ve got to tell them all.” I guess that includes the inaccurate and biased ones too, even if it doesn’t include ones from people wanting to talk down our histroy.

However, it’s not the thongs or the re-enactment of things that never happened like Cook’s circumnavigation of Australia or Indigenous reconciliation which are likely to cause Morrison’s mates sleepless nights.

Recently the Liberals had made a decision that the local branches should select their own candidates. And, to their credit, they have stuck to this, apart from a decision that all sitting MPs would be re-endorsed when Craig Kelly looked like going rogue if he wasn’t given the nod… No, apart from that local branches are free to select their own candidate, and the PM is free to overturn the decision if a ‘great bloke” like Warren Mundine is happy to run. Well, he didn’t actually say that he was endorsing Mundine, he just said he’d have more to say “about our candidate in Gilmore, and I’ll say it when I do.” Mm, it’s very hard to say something before you do, but sometimes you may as well.

Mr Mundine, although not a woman, is an excellent candidate apparently. Morrison sung his praises telling everyone, “I think Warren Mundine has got a lot to offer, and he’s already been offering quite a bit. I’ve been a friend of Warren for some time.” What more could one ask for in a candidate than to be a friend of the PM. Ok, one could ask for him to be a member of the party, but apparently, Mr Mundine has fixed that by joining on Tuesday.

For some strange reason, the local branch in Glimore where this happened have had a couple of resignations, and Grant Schultz, the previously nominated candidate is running as an Independent. This is probably for the best, as he doesn’t have a very high opinion of our beloved leader, telling the media that  “the leadership of Scott Morrison has taken the party to the days of Eddie Obeid and the faceless men of Labor”!

Phew, just as well you didn’t end up in his government, eh?

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The Appeal Of Donald Trump, The Political Bones Of Peter Dutton And Other Carcases!

A few weeks ago, Peter Dutton expressed the view that Turnbull didn’t have a “political bone in his body”. While political commentary tends to be about politics, I’m often more interested in the subtext behind any comment that a politician makes.

I mean, are we meant to conclude that this is a bad thing and that members of Parliament are meant to be composed of poltical bones? Are we also meant to presume that Peter Dutton considers himself to have lots and lots of political bones? If so, where were they buried when he stuffed up his leadership challenge? Or when he was Health Minister? Or well, just about every time he opens his mouth?

As I’ve written before, there are  basically two ways to approach politics. One is to do whatever is necessary to win power because, with power, one can do what one really wants to do. The danger with this approach is that one keeps adapting and changing to win power and one forgets to actually do what one really wanted to do in the first place. The second approach is to change the narrative so that your opponents end up doing some of the things you wanted in order to be elected. This is usually the prefered tactic of a minor party with very little chance of winning, but sometimes a major party can shift the framing so that their opponent feels that they can’t actually oppose them. Take Kim Beasley’s speech about “The Tampa”, for example. Or Budget surpluses. You’d be a brave Labor leader to say that we actually need a deficit at the moment.

All of which brings me to Donald Trump.

When Donald Trump was elected, there were a lot of surprised people. I was one. I remember writing a few things that were critical of him. A couple of people jumped on me and asked how I could be so supportive of that war-monger Hillary. I checked what I had written and I can find absolutely nothing where I supported Clinton. Apparently, this was a binary thing where if you were critical of Trump, you must be a flag waving supporter of the United States. My surprise wasn’t because I thought that Hillary was great or that Obama had been perfect and a great force for positive change.  My surprise was that a person who was so clearly ill-equipped for the job, both intellectually and personally, actually won.

If I’d thought about it, I probably shouldn’t be surprised. People like easy answers to wicked problems and Trump was promising easy answers. “Don’t like drugs or immigrants? Simple, we’ll build a wall!” Now, those middle-class elites like me might want to argue that there’s very little point in building a wall on side of your country only, but if you’ve managed to convince people that all the bad things are coming from the south, then the wall only needs to be built on that side. Ok, it doesn’t solve the problem of people tunnelling underneath or sailing round it, but nobody was arguing that the wall needed to be longer and deeper, so Trump’s solution sounds ok if you say it quickly.

Of course, this makes me sound like Hillary Clinton calling Trump voters “the deplorables”. Many people voted for Trump for the same reason that people vote for anybody – or indeed, why snake oil salesmen have been so effective over the years: He offered HOPE.

It’s fine to say, as some did, “Make America Great? America is great and it’s just offensive to say it isn’t.” If you’ve lost your job, or you’re struggling to make ends meet even though you have a fulltime job with both Amazon and the local fast food store, you know that something is wrong. When the narrative is just be grateful you have a roof over your head, and if you haven’t, well, that’s your fault because in this country anyone who tries hard enough will be successful, then a reality TV star who tells you that politics is broken and we need to drain the swamp sounds more appealing than all those other messages.

Of course, for the past fifty years we’ve been fed the narrative by business and economists that the good times are over, we need to tighten our belts and work harder, because it’s a competitive world and your payrise may cost you your job, so don’t complain, because things are tough. Ok, ok, business profits are soaring and the top executives now earn a much higher multiple of the average wage than they did in 1980, but you want the best person in the job or your company might be unprofitable and then you’d lose your job so just be grateful that we have Roger Superstar as CEO. Well, yes, he did nearly send the company broke with a couple of recent decisions, but that’s no reason not to give him the bonus even if it is more money than you’ll earn in the next twenty years.

So, as “The Financial Review” warns Bill Shorten about class warfare and the politics of envy, I have to laugh. Yes, its readers will all tut-tut and tell themselves that it’s big business that creates wealth and taxation is theft so shouldn’t we get a refund on the tax we don’t pay, the people struggling with their bills have already decided that something needs to change. Labor aren’t starting a class war; they’re simply describing it and suggesting that maybe we need to start looking after some of the wounded who’ve been ignored till now.

“Labor is all about higher taxes!” cry Scott and Josh, while crowing that next Budget they’ll take more in tax than they give back in services. “Lower energy prices are just around the corner,” announces the Coalition. “Good times are coming,” they tell us. “We’ve cleaned up the mess and stopped the boats. Not only that Australia Day will be celebrated by all and there’ll be dress codes and standards and everything will be just like it was when Menzies was a young bloke.”

But the electorate has been rubbing the snake oil on to the bits that really hurt ever since axing the carbon “tax” failed to make us all as rich as Tony promised.

The pain, it seems, hasn’t gone away.

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Morrison Tells Us That We Should Be Sick Of People Telling Us What To Do!

Yes, you may have missed it but just before Scottie flew off to tell Fiji that they don’t know what they’re talking about when it comes to their own citizenship laws or climate change, he wrote a piece about how Australians weren’t angry and that it was just a few “angry noisy voices” (sic. Where’s the comma between the adjectives?) causing any suggestion that he wasn’t the most popular PM we’ve had in almost six months.

He began: “When I called into the Shoalhaven Heads Hotel on the NSW South Coast over the break, it was nice to spend time with Australians from all walks of life who had a positive outlook.” 

Here is a photo from the article. It depicts these Australians from all walks of life:

Now for those of you who are thinking that this has even less diversity than a Coalition front bench, you’d be wrong because ScoMo adds that these were: “Locals, holiday makers staying at caravan parks, small business people from western Sydney, surf lifesavers, fishing and rural fire service members, professionals, kids, mums, retirees, pensioners.” Obviously, he met more people than just those in the photo. It must simply be that these were the only ones prepared to pose with him. To be fair, there was another photo of him with a bald guy, captioned, “The PM meets some locals”.

He then went on to tell us: “There was no sign of the angry mob on social and in other media, shouting at each other and telling us all what we’re supposed to do, think and say.”  Which is pretty funny coming on top of his insistence that local councils hold citizenship ceremonies on January 26th and enforce dress codes.

From his holiday, Scottie gleaned a number of things.

Amazingly, people are concerned with everyday life, they want jobs, they want the economy to be strong, incomes to keep up with the cost of living, Medicare to make healthcare affordable, kids to be safe, kids to be smiling, fair treatment at work, not to be ripped off or played for a mug, a welfare system that looks after those doing it tough but not to be a free ride because the best form of welfare is a job… Which I’ve always interpreted as: “Get off ya backside, ya lazy bludger. Jesus healed the lame and blind so there’s no excuse!” These were all in the list and I am not exaggerating, even if I was tempted to add that we all wanted to “get along like we used to in middle school… I wish I could bake a cake filled with rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy…” #

All in all, it seemed to have been written by someone who was rather confused about whether he was one of us or part of a government. After listing all the cost of living problems that people have, he added:

“This tends to stress us out, but we are dealing with it.”

Did he mean that these stress the average person out, or did he mean that he was leading a government of stressed out minister and backbenchers who are doing their best with a limited intellect?

He explained that “we” wanted to take care of the environment because it was “where we live and play”. (No, I’m not kidding.) But we’re not going to sign up to “destroy our economy”  because of the “extreme” views of some. Yes, coal and gas will be around for “a while” but eventually renewables will have a greater role, “so let’s just have a sensible plan and get on with it”.

Awesome. We have a PM who has concluded that we need a sensible plan. Well, that’s a great start after energy policy has caused the Liberals so much angst. At least we have someone who’s realised that a plan would be a good start, and a sensible one would be even better.

After telling us that we all want hospitals and education to be well funded, he added that we already pay enough taxes. Of course, he had told us that we get annoyed at those who dodge them, but his conclusion is to ensure that the government doesn’t waste money and to ensure that the economy is running well. He didn’t seem to want to talk about people dodging tax.

“And we’ve been around long enough to know that it’s not only about the money. Give me a good teacher for my kids over a new school hall any day.”  This is code for don’t come and ask for any money because I gave it all to the private system just before Christmas, because it seemed to be about the money to them. People in the public system should just be content knowing they can have the best teachers, so they don’t need new buildings… Of course, NOT having a new school hall doesn’t actually raise the quality of the teachers, so it’s a rather interesting choice our PM offers.

Interestingly, when he talks about immigration, he tells us that those who hate don’t speak for him. For the rest of the article, it’s all been about “we” or “us”, so apparently, he feels a bit of a loner when talking about hatred. Whatever, migrants helped build this country, and we all get along and we need to keep it that way.

Yes, as Scottie reminds us: “We’d be a pretty dull lot without Australians from so many peoples from so many different backgrounds, starting with our indigenous Australians who were here first and who we respect.”

Yep, we better not forget those indigenous Australians. Mentioned them after several paragraphs talking about immigration. Tick. We’ve acknowledged their were here first. Tick. We respect them. Tick. What more do they want?

There were two other things I found instructive. First, when Morrison told us that he wouldn’t be dragged to the left or right or intimidated by the “shouting”, he added; “I’ve always had my feet firmly planted in the same place they’ve always been.”

In other words, I never move. Or change.

But it was his repetition of the “a fair go for those who have a go” slogan that got me really thinking. When you say it quickly, it sounds… Well, just silly. However, when you stop and actually think about it for a moment, you realise the implication. If it’s only a fair go for those having a go, it means that those who – for whatever reason – aren’t “having a go”, then they don’t get a fair go. And, if they’re not getting a fair go, doesn’t that suggest that there’s something unfair there.

Or to put it another way, if you’re not getting a fair go, then it’s because you’re not having a go, and that’s why inequality exists and it’s really your own fault because if you were having a go, you’d be getting a go. After all, the best form of welfare is a job and if you don’t have one it must be because you’re not having a go.

Gees, cobber, I thought that in Australia, we believed that everyone should get a fair go. Perhaps, our PM isn’t as fair dinkum as he pretends to be.

#For those who don’t get the reference:

Scott, Gladys, Australian Values And Other Dead Fish

What a week, eh?

In response to drug deaths at music festivals, Gladys Berejiklian expressed her sorrow and told her audience that she was prepared to try anything. Pill testing? No, because we have no evidence that it will work. Perhaps we should give it a try and see if it provides some evidence. No, because that would send the “wrong signal”.

Yes, that would send a signal that we actually want to try to do something about drug deaths instead of crying crocodile tears. Imagine if, instead of introducing random breath tests for motorists, we’d just said, “No, that would send a signal that drinking was ok. Instead, we’re just going to tell motorists not to drink and drive, and if they kill themselves or anyone, that will teach them a valuable lesson.”

But credit where credit is due. At least, Gladys was talking about the problem of drug deaths. Scott Morrison’s solution seems to be to insist on local councils holding citizenship ceremonies on Australia Day. Australia has had a long tradition of celebrating the national day going all the way back to when I was in my early thirties, so it’s only right that an Australian government should dictate to local councils that even though citizenship ceremonies are held throughout the year, that there needs to be one on the anniversary of the Rum Rebellion, where a leader was removed after a revolt by his subordinates, thus beginning the most honoured tradition in Australian politics.

Morrison didn’t mention that these must be called Australia Day Citizenship Ceremonies, so I’m presuming that if a council wants to advertise it as “Invasion Day – You Too Can Be One Of The Many Immigrants Who Ignores The Wishes Of Indigenous People”, there’ll be no problem as long as it’s held on January 26th.

Of course, Scott can’t have a position on everything. Although he did tell us that all those dead fish were the result of drought and not because we were draining the lakes too often to help irrigators. Suggestions that Barnaby had treated the river system as though it was a member of his staff were just wrong. Scott’s solution? We need a dress code for the citizenship ceremonies.

Surprisingly, this dress code bans thongs and board shorts, rather than making them compulsory. There was no mention of whether akubras would also be banned, or whether everyone swearing an oath of allegiance would need to wear a baseball cap with the most recent donor to the Liberal Party plastered all over it.

SloMo assured us that he was the “prime minister for standards”. He didn’t list which PMs were against standards. My experience has been that everyone thinks we should have standards; the only disagreement is what they should be. The word ‘standard” is also another name for a flag… When it comes to being the PM for flags, you only have to remember all those Australian ones that grew in number in inverse proportion to Abbott’s standing in the polls, to realise that Tony has him beat on that one.

As for the refugee who “chose” Canada over us, just because we sometimes take several years to process applications and she didn’t fancy spending her youth in a Thai airport, Scottie hasn’t been considering it an “on-water” matter and therefore not something to comment on.

Ah yes, remember when Promo was Immigration Minister and he announced that he wouldn’t be doing a running commentary on “operational matters”. He was going to do a weekly update, where he specificially didn’t comment on what was happening. The weekly briefings soon stopped, but nobody seemed to notice.

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Tony Abbott And The Unemployed Or Should We Congratulate Drug Dealers For Their Entrepreneurial Spirit?

Once a student of mine was writing an opinion piece about the drug problem. She was expressing rather simplistic solutions about how to solve it which basically involved performing unspeakable acts on people convicted of drug dealing.

Now, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for anyone using illicit drugs. All this talk of pill testing confuses young people and it would make them think that society actually cares about keeping them alive, but I did understand where she was coming from. However, I sensed that by attacking the dealers she was showing the sort of socialist tendencies that youth often exhibit. Of course, as a teacher, I shouldn’t be pushing my politics on students… Unless, of course, they’re not standing up for “Advance Australia Fair”. Anyway, I decided to play devil’s advocate and challenge her. After all, the popular view of the dealer pushing drugs on young children in order to get them hooked isn’t really the way most of the drug trade works. Most dealers can sell as much as they can lay their hands on and don’t need to go searching for new markets.

“Mm,” I said to her, “why are you so hostile to the dealers?”

“Well, there the ones who are responsible for the drugs,” she replied.

“Not really, the addicts are the ones responsible for the drugs. It’s all the fault of the addicts. If there were no market, there’d be no dealers.”

“The addicts are victims!” she insisted.

“Well, many dealers are addicts too. Are they victims or villains?”

She thought for a moment. “Both!”

“So, why are you hostile to one group of victims and not to the other?”

“Because the dealers are making a profit at other people’s expense.”

“Ok then, what do you think the dealers should do to make enough to feed their habit?”

“They should do what the other addicts do?”

“What? Break into people’s houses or rob grandmothers at the ATM?”

“You’re confusing me,” she said.

“Good,” I replied.

“What do you mean?”

“If you’re confused, you won’t write as though the solution is simply punishing people. We’ve been punishing drug users for years and has that solved the problem?”

“Maybe we just need to make the punishments harsher.”

 

At this point, I decided to quit the conversation. At least, I thought, I’d made her think a bit. Maybe she’d realise that punishment has just led to fuller jails, corruption and deaths and that treating addiction as a health problem might have better results for everyone. Except those who benefit from fuller jails and corruption.

Earlier this week, I was reminded of this conversation when I read a tweet from the Honorable Tony Abbott which said:

“People on unemployment benefits are supposed to be looking for work. Applying for one job a day is hardly unreasonable. These proposed changes show Labor is now the welfare class party not the working class one.”

Of course, this is one of those things- like harsher punishments for drug dealers – that sounds reasonable, untill you think abou it. People are meant to be looking for work and so applying for one job a day that’s a good thing, right?

Now let’s move it from the general to the particular. At various times over the past few years, I’ve been looking for work as a teacher. When I looked at the jobs available, there were sometimes jobs that I’m qualified for, but sometimes there weren’t. Using Abbott logic, should I apply for the Physics teacher job just so I’m applying for one job a day? Or should I just wait until there’s a suitable job?

I’m sure most people would think that it was wasting everyone’s time to be sending off applications for jobs that one wasn’t capable of doing. People would find it strange if I’d spent an hour or so a day preparing an application for a job that I wouldn’t be considered for, even if I were the only applicant. Yet the idea that the unemployed should be spending every single day searching for work, no matter how depressing that is, still seems to be prevalent. Ok, there aren’t enough jobs to go around, but we don’t want you to actually be ok with your unemployment. You need to face rejection every day or else you don’t deserve our support.

I wonder if we all sent our resumes to Abbott’s office, asking whether he had any jobs available, whether he’d be so sure that one application a day was such a good idea.

Interestingly he also tweeted: “Good to see more funds for youth mental health including at Brookvale. Governments can only spend more on services if the economy is being well managed.”

There’s always been an interesting disconnect between the balancing of budgets with services that are “welfare” and those which are “punitive”. For example, we may not have enough money to provide education, hospital beds, mental health support, drug rehab, safe houses for people fleeing domestic violence and so on. However, I’m yet to hear a politician say that we’re can’t afford the exorbitant cost of holding people in jail so we’re cutting everyone’s sentence by ten percent.

Of course, it’s always been an interesting contradiction in the Liberal rhetoric. It’s best to leave things to the invisible hand of the market, so we’re better not to do anything. However, when things are going well, it’s all thanks to their “management”.

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