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Day to Day Politics: Advance Australia Where?

Friday 7 April 2017.

I have at my age come to appreciate just how little time is contained in the passing of three years. Those of us who discuss politics argue that three years is hardly enough time to change anything and suggest that four would be better. Having said that, historically parties generally get two terms so in reality they govern for six, which should be enough time to implement a program. If you have one.

What complicates it is when a government such as the one we have now is elected and is incapable of getting things done. One full of internal division and ministerial incompetence.

What follows is a simple demonstration of this. Compare what I wrote on this day last year with the happenings of today. The comments in bold are also mine. You might like to raise some points of your own.

1 In my naivety, after so much damage had been done by Tony Abbott to our democratic institutions, I like many others thought that with the advent of Malcolm Turnbull a new era of politics might be possible. One in which civility prevailed over crass debate. I had hoped that this election might somehow be the contest of ideas that Bill Shorten had talked about.

I wrote these words one year ago today. Only one side was offering anything new and it was the Labor Party who was ahead of the game in the months leading up to the election. Turnbull was producing thought bubbles that were seen for what they were. The person of quiet, calm discourse went missing in a blaze of hypocrisy soon after attaining the position.

I was of course wrong. After watching the debacle last week that cumulated in the states knocking back Turnbull’s states tax proposal I am convinced that this election will follow all others before it with the same quantity of rusted on bullshit that attaches itself to those who seek power over leadership and governance for the common good. It will be an election like all the others of my lifetime. An election of claims versus counter claims, of lies and promises designed to either gain or retain office.

Well it turned out to be an election of a 10 week duration where the leader of the conservative parties put in one and a half million dollars of his own money. Shorten surprised by out campaigning Turnbull with a thoughtful campaign that gave refreshing, progressive ideas that have been lacking for years.

2 Yesterday’s Newspoll 51/49 to Labor result got everyone excited at the possibility of a Labor victory. No one seemed to notice that the Morgan Poll released the same day had the Coalition well ahead on 52.5 to Labor 47.5. Morgan suggested, if you believe them, that this was because Turnbull was showing leadership. You can add to the mix Tuesday’s Essential Poll which had the two parties on 50/50.

Polls only ever reflect what people are thinking at the time. They are not a ”who will win” barometer this far out. One would need to look at seat by seat polling to get a feel for that. However, Labor has to be pleased with the trend toward it.

The Polls were suggesting a very close election. The Murdoch press decided to ignore it and just scraped over the line and with a majority of one proclaimed a mandate to do anything. And still do.

The fact is, that the government is in very bad shape with a leader who seems to be in very poor form. His Government is riddled with disunity. Even the mouth that roared, Chrissy Pyne agreed after hearing the Newspoll result on Q&A. Nobody feigns indignation better than the fixer.

What’s changed? A year on the government is still in very bad shape with a leader who seems to be in very poor form. His Government is riddled with disunity.

Abbott is in the background being who he is. Conservative senator Cory Bernardi is registering his own Donald Trump-style political party Morrison isn’t talking with the boss but both he and Mathias Cormann are. They pop up here there and everywhere talking and talking and talking like the proverbial broken record. Rarely do the actually say anything.

Yes they still do it. They pop up here there and everywhere talking and talking and talking like the proverbial broken record. Rarely do the actually say anything. I don’t know if it’s just me but at the moment I’m finding Morrison almost indecipherable. I thought Turnbull was going to do all the for that reason.

Andrews would even challenge with half a chance. Turnbull puts things on the table and takes them off before people have had a chance to peruse the menu.

His last big idea that was presented to the Premiers, a tiered tax system together with segregated education system, lasted three days. The process Turnbull used to present his ideas was simply deplorable. If a manager presented a plan such as it on a sheet of A4 to the board of a major company they would laugh him out of the boardroom. We deserve better this sort of crap. Pardon my Tonyism.

An observation.

“Change is a process, not an event”.

Somehow the Murdoch press managed to spin it as Turnbull confronting the states. Can you believe it?

Now if you believe Turnbull, Morrison and Cormann that the only problem we have is one of spending too much. That the budget is a disaster waiting to happen, then the next budget will have to be the most draconian in recent history. The question arises will they do the right thing for the country or will they present a survival budget with an eye on doing the dirty work in a second term if the win.

This budget will be helped out with some rises in commodities. But after blaming Labor for every economic sin in sight they somehow have to explain how they have managed to double the debt, and how it is possible we can afford a tax cut for the rich and privileged while at the same time attacking the conditions of the less well off. And of course being unable to explain how the cuts will produce jobs. Morrison yesterday was asking large companies to explain what he cannot.

3 Turnbull faces many problems as the election approaches. The two that stand out are ones of comparative fairness. It was he after all who said that the government had to apply a fairness test to its proposals. He wants to give business a tax break in the midst of raging controversy over corporations and wealthy individuals not paying any. Stories of the prevalence of tax evasion are everywhere, on TV, the radio and news programs. The super-rich and the privileged don’t have to pay. Why should we?

While tax evasion is rife by those who can well afford to pay the latest news tells us that the government is about to pounce on the black economy. The local electrician who might take cash to install a power point.

The Panama Papers have revealed some 800 Australians people being investigated by the ATO. People see the unfairness. PAYG taxpayers must think the government is just using them to cook the books.

Only last month the Tax Office admitted that 321 companies with earnings over $200 million didn’t pay any tax in 2013-2014. The Melbourne Institute which shows the top 1 per cent of Australian earners had amassed 9 per cent of Australian income in 2013, more than double the rate of wealth concentration than was the case in the 1980s.

I mean, “fair suck of the sav” as someone once said.

4 They want the ABCC legislation passed and won’t even consider structuring an authority to oversee corruption in big business and government. People see the unfairness. It looks like and sounds like a vendetta against Unions for no other reason than political gain.

Well they got the ABCC legislation through but it was watered down to the point where you could drive a truck through it.

So to repeat myself.

It will be an election like all the others of my lifetime. An election of claims versus counter claims, of lies and promises, all designed to either gain or retain office. Nothing more, nothing less.

5 Quoting Peter Hartcher:

”Australia had a bipartisan consensus on climate change under John Howard, Kevin Rudd, Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull. The consensus was that climate change was real and that pricing carbon through an emissions trading scheme was the best way for Australia to respond.

Abbott shattered the consensus. He rode to power a conservative reaction against climate change action. He used it to destroy Turnbull’s leadership and then Rudd’s and, finally, Julia Gillard’s …The bleaching of the Barrier Reef.

In the first week of the news breaking, it ranked as the ninth most reported subject, according to the media monitoring specialists at iSentia. The most reported topics of that week in Australia were tax reform, the Twenty20 World Cup, the Socceroos, the Australian Building and Construction Commission and the Egyptian airline hijacking.

In the second week, as more evidence of yet more extensive mass bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef emerged, the topic dropped to number 10.

Similarly, there was relatively little reporting of the record-breaking heatwaves of February, says iSentia’s Patrick Baume.

Why? “It’s only a hypothesis, but I think there’s been a peaking of interest or concern” in matters related to climate change.

“It’s seen as something from the past, as if getting rid of the carbon tax meant we’d got rid of climate change. It’s a funny one.”

An observation.

”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”.

My thought for the day.

”If we’re not raising new generations to be better stewards of the environment, what’s the point?”



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  1. etnorb

    Another great, thought-provoking article John! You have explained the crass stupidity & outright lies of this Talkbull government. Their continued attack on the lower paid & Welfare recipients etc is just so wrong & almost amounts to being “criminal” in nature & intent. BASTARDS!!

  2. Kyran

    “What complicates it is when a government such as the one we have now is elected and is incapable of getting things done. One full of internal division and ministerial incompetence.”

    Their list of parliamentary achievement is woeful, as they are incapable of finding any fact or substance to justify their ideologically driven mantras that would satisfy scrutiny by the senate. Even the current senate, woeful as it is, can make the distinction between their ‘internal division’, their ‘ministerial’ incompetence and the simple fact that their mantras are unworkable in any factual or substantial way.
    This, however, has not stopped ‘them’ ‘getting things done’. The changes they have made through ‘regulation’ and ‘ministerial directive’ have been devastating to so many in Australia in nearly every facet of modern Australian life. Like the gutless rats they are (apologies to rats), they have achieved change through backroom deals, removal of oversight and sheer arrogance when questioned.
    It seems only fair to view their movements with suspicion. Take climate change, Adani and Native Title issues. From your Peter Hartcher quote;

    “Why? “It’s only a hypothesis, but I think there’s been a peaking of interest or concern” in matters related to climate change.
    “It’s seen as something from the past, as if getting rid of the carbon tax meant we’d got rid of climate change. It’s a funny one.””

    I fundamentally disagree with his hypothesis. Firstly, by way of ‘anecdotal’ reference, I have not met anyone (particularly anyone under 30) who is either ignorant of climate change or of the devastating impact it will have on the planet they are ‘inheriting’. That is in the public domain. In the world of climate change scientists, they are issuing peer reviewed papers at an increasing pace advocating strong and urgent action on the basis many of them now believe we have passed the ‘tipping point’ in being able to address the problem.
    At the risk of a slight digression, our PM is off overseas again. Once again, we will have bananas as our PM. Talcum clearly believes his position is so secure, he can afford to leave his rabble to their own devices, unsupervised. Questionable judgement is, after all, one of his only attributes.
    There were some curious articles of recent days that sort of sum up how things are done in modern Australia.
    Over on the ABC, the intrepid reporters and industry groups are urging talcum to meet with the Donald.

    “”If we are not in there putting forward our case, somebody else will be in there putting their case.
    “So we need to be front of mind.”
    Some Senior Government ministers have already met their US counterparts.
    They include Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister Marise Payne, while Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne is currently in Washington.
    Mr Turnbull’s office said there were no plans “at this stage” to meet Mr Trump, insisting the focus is on the May budget.”

    So why is he going to PNG and India? Over on;

    “So far this year Mr Turnbull has been host in Australia to the leaders of Nauru, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Israel, Sri Lanka and Japan, and the King and Queen of the Netherlands — all in a smidgen over three months.
    In addition, his senior ministers have been widely flung. Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s destinations this year have included the Philippines, South Korea, Ireland, Indonesia, the US, Singapore, while Defence Minister Marise Payne has been to Belgium, the US and Indonesia.
    Mr Turnbull has been overseas to Indonesia and New Zealand this year, and last November went to APEC in Peru and on the way home to Washington to say farewell to Barack Obama.”

    “The current trip makes solid sense.
    Papua-New Guinea is our closest neighbour and landlord of our Manus Island detention centre, from which we are being evicted.”

    “In New Delhi, his talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi will include discussion of “the enormous opportunities for collaboration between Australia and India”.”

    “In Mumbai, meetings with leading Indian CEOs and business people will focus on growing two-way trade and investment. Australian energy and resources are helping to power India’s growth, while our collaboration on innovation and technology will open new business opportunities in the future.”

    Given the likes of those he has recently hosted, it can come as no surprise that he sees it as meritorious to visit PNG and India. It’s just the type of crowd that suits him. Petty dictators, despots and zealots. He doesn’t need concern himself with the budget anymore (someone must have shown scummo how to turn on a calculator). Over on the Daily Mercury;

    “PRIME Minister Malcolm Turnbull will head to India next week where he is expected to meet up with billionaire Gautam Adani.
    The Adani megamine project in central Queensland is expected to get board approval within weeks but the company is also eager for the Federal Government to resolve its native title dilemma, which has been stalled in the Senate.
    The Government has amendments to native title legislation that must be passed before Adani can get its own court approvals to start development of its Carmichael mine project in the Galilee Basin, south-west of Mackay.
    It also has a handful of court decisions that need resolution.
    Mr Turnbull is expected to meet several business people on the trip, but specifics have not been finalised.
    Adani was given a strong reassurance by the State Government and eight regional mayors who visited India in a delegation to show support for the project but further comfort from Mr Turnbull could help sway the company.
    Adani also has the sensitive issue of a proposed $1billion concessional loan from the Federal Government’s Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility to discuss and has more plans to start moving into the agricultural sector in Australia.”

    Should we be concerned or suspicious of what talcum might do? Given their ‘achievements’ to date and, more importantly, the manner in which they have achieved them, damn right we should.
    Thank you Mr Lord. Apologies for the rant. Take care

  3. Matters Not

    So the US has fired missiles into Syria as ‘punishment’ for this gas attack by Assad. As for Assad being responsible, that’s unquestioned – at least in the MSM. But that ‘common sense’ is not without its problems. Some questions remain unanswered. Indeed legitimate questions haven’t even been tabled..

    In all the fury mounted against the Assad government for their alleged conduct, no one has raised a single plausible reason why the Syrian government would risk such international condemnation for so little military benefit.

    Assad is not a fool and he would know that such an attack would provide ammunition for the very powerful neocon element in the US for whom massive civilian casualties are a matter of indifference when committed by their side, as they repeatedly demonstrate, but are ever willing to use tragedy whether at their own hand or by others, in pursuit of their geopolitical goals.

    In short – why would Assad engage in such an attack when Trump (earlier) suggested that the removal of Assad was no longer a ‘priority’?

    Is it the case that: The reporting of the tragedy from Syria is but the latest illustration of an all too common phenomenon: a pre-determined verdict on little or no evidence.

    Note also a recent wider context.

    The Neocons, apparently backed by the CIA and the Pentagon, want to go at it solo: just shoot up all of Syria OK Corral style and they seem to be convinced that they can somehow scare the Russians, the Iranians and the Syrians into submission. If so, then they are both stupid and ignorant.”

    Lots of claims that Obama wasn’t driving the bus – just a mere passenger. Is Trump just along for the ride as well?

    Much more here.

    JAMES O’NEILL. Verdict First, Evidence Later: How the Australian Media Misrepresent Geopolitical Events

  4. Matters Not

    Lots of potential reasons why Trump attacked Syria.

    1. To prove that he is no stooge of Putin and the Kremlin.
    2. To keep the war in Syria going, at the behest of Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
    3. To keep the war in Syria going, at the behest of the Military Industrial Complex.
    4. To keep the war in Syria going, at the behest of the Deep State and intelligence agencies.
    5. To prove his claim that America will act with surprise and decisiveness.
    6. To please the Democrats and get them off his back.
    7. To please the Republicans and especially the neocons…and get them off his back.
    8. To please the mainstream media, who (like with Iraq WMDs) love pushing US wars in the Middle East.
    9. To actually support ISIS and Al Qaeda.
    10. Because maybe after all, the liberal left, snowflakes were right about one thing…Trump really is stupid.

    Perhaps it’s all of the above. Although the notion that: TRUMP IS REALLY STUPID takes some beating.

  5. john ocallaghan

    Winston Churchill described the most important qualities required in a politician as; ”The ability to foretell what will happen tomorrow,next month and next year and to explain afterwards why it did not happen.”
    Turnbull has a way to go before he masters the latter.

  6. nobeljnet

    How to not sort opportunity, cost of living, education, healthcare, human rights, infrastructure, or even public safety and security.
    More scare campaigns, unions, lone wolfs, boats?
    With TDJT in the Washington DC White House – which red button is for booze or may be medication top up, which red button for the wife, which red button for the Pentagon – at least HRC isn’t, now would be a good time to make ADF adventures more than 1000 kms from Australia’s economic zone or territorial waters subject to a mandatory and binding referendum.
    Or at least a vote in parliament, even the Palace at Westminster has one of those.
    “… and is incapable of getting things done. One full of internal division and ministerial incompetence.”
    Go after campaign finance reform, after all, it is free speech, since you won’t do anything about RDA 18C/ 18D, if the money originates ff shore?
    Cash grabs from everywhere, if not sorting religious mobs, big business taxes, wealthy parts of Australia?
    Cut down the money, pollyTICs, media spin cycle, by limiting the FIFO that is Canberra ACT to no more than five ministries (DPC/ COAG/ benchmarking, trade, dollars, justice, defence), let the stated handle the rest.
    Just up the GST, and lower income tax (10% to $250K, 20% to 500K, 30% above 500K), payroll tax and stamp duty. Sort out deductions.
    Half parliament and pay those remaining double, less canon fodder, more quality.
    Make them sit a public service exam before standing.
    Apply a test like for skilled migration, if an engineer, doctor, nurse or teacher more points, if a lawyer or spin doctor or work organiser fewer points.
    A federal ICAC.
    Enable voting from electoral offices, so we get pollyTICs that go home to their families at night, and live in the community, in case they ever need to venture out to check on community expectations or standards.
    Use COAG’s high end video conferencing …, instead of expenses, ahum, entitlements.
    Term limits.
    Recall provisions.
    Popular initiatives.
    Next more direct democracy, less Washminster-style repressive democracy, aka Versailles on Lake Blwxyz Griffin.

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