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Day to Day Politics: 2014, the year of the wink.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

The year was 2014. The year Tony Abbott winked.

Scott Morrison had been promoted to Social Services Minister. Even though I wasn’t religious I thought I should start praying for pensioners, the disabled, those looking for work etc.

He had demonised those seeking a better life. “Now it’s their turn,” I thought to myself.

The government’s own Climate Change Authority was questioning the effectiveness of ”Direct Action” saying the scheme wouldn’t deliver on long-standing emissions reduction targets. (In 2017 they want to return to coal).

Tony Abbott was still hanging onto the leadership and I questioned as to whether Australia ever elected a Prime Minister so ignorant of technology, the environment, and science. And so oblivious to the needs of women and so out of touch with a modern pluralist society.

At the time he was peddling the blatant and obnoxious lie that households received $550 off their energy bill as a result of the repeal of the “carbon tax”. It was total bullshit. Most of the $550 reduction was due to other causes, not the carbon tax.

As it’s turned out the retention of the carbon tax would have morphed into an Emissions Trading Scheme and we would be in front of the pack.

Now on top of that he sees it as his greatest achievement for women. Words fail me. Wise me up if you understand that.

Back then they were still talking about Australian values and nobody could articulate how they varied from other countries democratic values. They are still doing it.

Today I think the characteristic that most defines modern Australia is “diversity”. In all its forms, together with multiculturalism it defines us as a nation.

People of my generation and later should divest themselves of their old and inferred racist superiority.

It was also the year the murder of three people in Sydney was carried out by a deranged, religious fanatic with a criminal record. It was not by a terrorist organisation.

Joe Hockey confirmed a bigger budget deficit and admitted Coalition failures in communicating policies. Yes it’s true, but there hasn’t been any improvement in the years since.

Many economists were thinking that Hockey’s budget dilemma reinforced just how stupid it was to curtail the price on carbon. However, he could easily have fixed the problem by eliminating the 15% tax discount given to high-income earners. It was and still is, despite some improvement by the Coalition, nothing more than a legal tax dodge supplemented by low-income earners. It’s worth $12 billion plus PA. What about it Mr. Shorten. After that you could look at the billions given to mining companies in subsidies.

Remember all the fuss that was made about Peta Credlin. ”Do you really think my chief of staff would be under this kind of criticism if her name was Peter as opposed to Peta?” Mr Abbott asked the ABC’s Lyndal Curtis.

”Do you really think I would be attacking the Prime Minister in the manner I do if her name was James and not Julia.”

” … think people need to take a long hard look at themselves with some of these criticisms,” said PM Abbott.

When she eventually lost her position she said on radio that getting rid of the carbon tax was just a rouse. It had nothing to do with environmental. It was all politics.

It was a special year for George Brandis. He won a Walkley award for his ”what is metadata” interview.

Well deserved, too.

Then Abbott showed his astuteness with the art of international diplomacy.

He had plans to “shirtfront” the Vladimir Putin. “Once a thug, always a thug” I thought at the time.

The year was also unique for the amount of lies emanating from politician’s mouths.

It is said that truth is the first casualty of war. Unfortunately it is also the first causality of Australian politics. Telling lies to defend lies already told. It never works

2014 saw Ashby bring charges against Slipper. After a long dalliance with legal argument Ashby drops the case. Slipper is left with a huge legal bill. Ah, the law is a strange thing.

You would seriously have to wonder exactly what brand of Christianity it is that Scott Morrison practices. Fancy drinking champagne to celebrate sending refugees to one of the world’s poorest and most corrupt nations. 2014 wasn’t a very nice drop.

The list of companies avoiding tax in 2014 was again headed by Murdoch. Others included Frank Lowy’s Westfield. It seems that it’s OK for them to lean, but we must all lift. “Common Joe change the law,” I thought. Then I remembered the donations! Three years down the track still no change.

It was the year the budget was described as the most unfair ever. The Abbott Government gave up on their remaining budget cuts. And it should be remembered that they were not opposed on the basis of prudence but unfairness.

“The purpose of propaganda is to make you feel good about the wrongs being perpetrated on you,” I thought to myself.

There was a lot of talk about the cost of living. I think people get confused. There is a big difference between the cost of living and cost of lifestyle. A recent survey found that 56% of those complaining about the cost of living had taken an overseas trip in the same year. And a further 52% had reduced dining out from three to two times a week.

Back then I was saying that Australia did not have a clearly articulated and legislated policy on climate change. (It was ‘my thought for the day’ in yesterday’s post).

Tony Abbott denied he had broken a pledge not to cut funding to the ABC and SBS, telling Parliament his government had ”fundamentally kept faith with the Australian people”.

Lying is wrong but lying to defend a lie is appalling. Tony Abbott’s method of legitimizing lying was always to tell more lies. Repetition was always his method but it was like saying we are no longer communicating in English.

It was a year recognized for its political unfairness. It may be a good thing that some asylum seeker children now have a future but at the time I found it chilling that Scott Morrison effectively used kids as hostages to pass legislation.

“Less informed voters unfortunately outnumber the more politically aware. Therefore, conservatives feed them all the bullshit they need. And the menu generally contains a fair portion of untruths,” I wrote at the time.

The lying gradually reached a crescendo. When asked about the Green Fund at a joint press conference with President Hollande, Abbott said that we already had a Direct Action fund of $2.5 Billion and a Clean Energy Finance Corp $10 Billion fund. The only thing wrong with the answer was that the first won’t work and it is Government policy to abolish the second. His lying knew no bounds. Still doesn’t.

Now they want to use the fund to build new coalmines.

What would an intelligent 18 year old about to vote for the first time think of this statement by Abbott:

”As for Australia, I’m focusing not on what might happen in 16 years’ time, I’m focusing on what we’re doing now and we’re not talking, we’re acting.”

The G20 meeting gave Tony Abbott a powerful stage to articulate his vision for Australia. So he spoke about his inability to pass his unfair budget. Now that’s statesmanship for you.

In 2014 Abbott decided that in 2015, 500 workers who benefited from Gillard’s edict that non-faith-based workers be allowed in our schools. They were replaced with chaplains sourced predominantly from big Christian organisations. This in a secular public school system it was fundamentally wrong, be you religious or not.

My thought for the day.

”We dislike and resist change in the foolish assumption that we can make permanent that which makes us feel secure. Yet change is in fact part of the very fabric of our existence. Change sometimes disregards opinion and becomes a phenomenon of its own making. With Its own inevitability.”

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  1. wam

    A great impersonation of a rabbott piece today, Lord.
    The rabbott was tired from all his October hard work shirt fronting, learning the names of the other 18 countries of g20 to avoid his ‘canadia’ gaffe. showing the world about the future of coal and flirting with a burka ban.

  2. bearbrooke

    If Abbott is Christian then he lives by precepts that are negative, thou shalt not, and by truenesses accompanied by a wink (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) a kind of understanding with the listener that he didn’t really, really mean what he said. Because he is a trickster. I don’t know why you bother with him John Lord. But don’t mix Trickster with Clown. Trickster is smart, cunning and the enemy of goodness. Clown by laughter confronts us with truths. I do wish you’d give Clown a voice in your essays — a little bit of positivity.

  3. havanaliedown

    They hate when a politician breaks his promises (heh – do you remember those classics “by 1990 no child will live in poverty” and “there will be no capital gains tax”?), but they hated it even more when he kept his promises (stop the boats, repeal the carbon dioxide tax, repeal the mining “super-profits” tax)…

  4. Keitha Granville

    Rossleigh gives us clown. John is here to remind us constantly what a sham of a government we have. He always manages to cut right through to the point.
    Both are essential reading for me, I think otherwise I might jump under the nearest bus.

  5. John Lord

    Bear broke. I am by nature a positive person. When I find it in this government I will write about it given I survive the shock.

  6. helvityni

    We are such a lovely relaxed mob that any clown will do as our leader; what about Chrissy Pyne, see how he made folks laugh on Q&A last night. That silly Labor girl wanted to talk about serious issues. Virginia did not like it and moved quickly to Grahame Morris…Howard’s folksy Philosopher…

    Now, Sarah Ferguson’s Four Corners was real… I should have turned the TV off after that…

  7. Freethinker

    Thank you John for the article, far to many people need a constant reminder of the past to not make the same mistakes again.
    helvityni, I stopped watching TV since last election. Is bad for my health!

  8. Terry2

    The ABC’s Four Corners program on retirement home rorts demonstrates the value of our public broadcaster as this is something that you would never, ever see on commercial or pay TV.

  9. John Lord

    So very true Terry.

  10. Terry2

    Watch this space !

    WA senator Dean Smith and NSW lower house MP Trent Zimmerman are working on a private members’ bill they hope will be presented to Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage through a conscience vote, rather than the Turnbull government’s stated policy of a national, non-binding plebiscite.

    This is what Pyne was talking about on Friday night and, as Manager of Government Business he has the apparent authority to bring the Bill before the House. BUT I’ve just heard Turnbull on the news saying that he will not permit the Bill to progress or be heard.

    Watch this space !

  11. Jaquix

    Turnbull this morning in a radio interview with Neil of Melbourne 3AW, trying to wriggle out of answering questions about the divisions and dissent in the Liberal Party, patronising and trying to butter up Neil “you are better than this, Neil” and repeating the mantra about the plebiscite and the deceitful “only Bill Shorten is holding back the passing of this legislation”. Now what do they do? If those 2 have been working on a private members bill, how does that make Turnbull look? Will they deny it, or cause another delicious uproar within the Party Room?

  12. Kaye Lee

    Census results show there are now significantly more people saying they have no religion – 29.6% (2.2 million more than last census) than those identifying as Catholic – 22.6%

    So why are the Catholics dictating how we all should live? Why do they have the loudest voices on same sex marriage, euthanasia, abortion, stem cell research, Safe Schools etc?

    In 2014, 8 out of 19 cabinet ministers in Abbott’s government were Catholic and at least four others belonged to other Christian denominations. This is NOT representative of Australia.

  13. Vikingduk

    Yes, the slimy Abbott, the holder of the polished turd award as the biggest, bestest, most accomplished liar to ever walk parliament. what a piece of excrement is phony tony, when the shit visited Noosa several years ago and they decide to walk sunshine beach,we see the scum with his cheese and kisses, her looking pissed off, he looking like he had just been given a “character assessment” by the misses and hound growls when she sees him, hound barks when she sees him, hound wants a piece of this scumbag.

    And now we have a sock puppet, a hollow man, ruling to appease the rabid right, fck the rest of us, must keep the turds floating in this cesspit of a government, must keep the projectile vomit dutton sweet, fck democracy, trumbles needs his position as prime monster, nothing else will do. F*ck.

  14. Freethinker

    Kaye, those that following the “politics” within the church know of the power struggle that the Pope, a reformist, have with the ultra conservative cardinals in USA and the German Cardinal Gerhard Mueller.
    This group of cardinals are the ones that put a break of many reforms and people start living the church specially after Pope Francis doubt that he will live to see his proposed reforms. Hint that he will be murdered.
    No wonder the church is losing followers world wide.

  15. guest

    Thank you, havanaliedown. You snuck in there quicksmart with another sneaky, teeny comment…”but they hated it even more when he kept his promises (stop the boats, repeal the carbon tax, repeal the mining “super-profits” tax).”

    Yes, Labor was upset that Abbott set about destroying Labor policies. But what did Abbott achieve?

    We see that the Coalition has had to pay $70m + $20m lawyer fees to keep the refugees quiet and to prevent real details about the inhumanity of the detention being revealed. And perhaps we still have Nauru to come.

    The repeal of the carbon “tax” cost the Coalition money by its maintaining of the compensation dollars paid even after the “tax” had been repealed. Then Peta Credlin admits it was not a tax and the whole campaign was merely to wreck Labor policy. Now the Finkel report lays open the possibility to put a price on carbon – so that Abbott’s repeal merely delayed the inevitable.

    The “super-profits” tax took very little tax because the miners made next to no “super-profts”. Yet it cost the miners some $20m to oppose it.

    It seems to me that Abbott has very little to boast about. He just put a wrecking ball through everything only to find it was all a waste of effort.

    Now we have the Coalition borrowing Labor’s Gonski 1.0 scheme converted to Gonski 2.0, but we do not have all the details yet. However, there are those who are very unhappy about what they do see. It is a policy which runs right against liberal policy which opposes anything which smacks of socialism or spending money when not necessary. But I do not see it as a policy which is spending too much money; I see it as a policy spending less in order to reduce the deficit. So it looks like a generous. populist Coalition policy, but is in fact a money saver and a “see-what-a-good-boy-am-I” exercise for the struggling Turnbull.

    The coalition policy domain remains a vacuum – and coming up next is the loss of the car industry…and the workings of the ship-building projects…and how to deal with an energy system we do not own. All this alongside the disappointment of the Turnbull NBN FTTN.

  16. Keith

    On the news it was very interesting that Abbott sent missiles towards Turnbull in relation to what conservatives should be doing; in that, when making such comments he had in the background signage of the odious IPA.

    I’m no fan of Pyne, but also found it interesting that Abbott pushed the line of Pyne’s lack of integrity; when Abbott was displaying treachery towards his own Party.

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