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Day to Day Politics: Their illicit practices should be stopped by law.

Monday 5 February 2018

The political year starts in earnest this week when Parliament resumes. The honourable members will start hurling abuse at one another. A war of words will erupt about many and varied issues. The major pollsters will publish their findings.

Honourable members will spend most of their time working out how to negatively debase their opponents. They will, in fact, spend very little time being honourable: telling the truth and serving the people.

Every decision the honourable members make will be based firstly on how best it serves his or her party. Rarely on how it serves the country and the people.

Might I be presumptuous and suggest that all honourable members should visit the bathroom often on the first day of sitting, look in the mirror and ask; “Am I really honourable?” Then a supplementary question; “Why is it that only 13% of the population think I am worthy of their trust.” There, this honourable gentleman has said enough. I don’t judge people. I do, however, form my own opinion.

But let’s not be morose. Insiders started yesterday with Barrie Cassidy once again in the chair. He should have a very provocative year if it’s anything like 2017. Although watching yesterday, I felt like the people involved were still half asleep.

Honourable indeed, what right have they to call themselves honourable? I see nothing honourable in almost anything they do.

Let me give you some examples. I mention these for the sheer audaciousness of their illicit practice. They are propositions that are either illegal or cross the line of political propriety. Let’s start with Tony Abbott’s campaign to rid Australia of Labor’s ‘Carbon Tax.’ Abbott’s crusade was indeed one of the most robust in Australia’s history. Abbott’s language hardly needs repeating. Nor does it’s effectiveness. He won the day.

It was one of the most bruising toe to toe fights in Australian political history. The argument still prevails today and remains a matter of world importance. Later, when Abbott was replaced by Malcolm Turnbull we were to find out that it was really just a game for Abbott. He had been using the greatest threat facing humankind as a means of obtaining the power he so wanted. It was never about a “carbon tax,” his former Chief of staff admitted. It was to him, about control, authority, dominance and manipulating the political process to get it:

Please make sure you’re sitting down. You are? Okay, well, Tony Abbott’s former chief of staff Peta Credlin has let slip that one of the most damaging political campaigns in recent Australian political history was based on bullshit.

That was brutal retail politics, and it took Abbott six months to cut through and when he did cut through Gillard was gone.

So, there you have it, the leader of the nation treated the nation with the sickness of obtaining power for power’s sake. He deserved our contempt but was allowed to continue his nefarious exploits. If corruption was defined as:

… the abuse of entrusted power for private gain. It can be classified as grand, petty and political, depending on the amounts of money lost and the sector where it occurs.

And if transparency means shedding light on shady deals, weak enforcement of rules and other illicit practices that undermine good governments, ethical businesses and society at large.

Then corruption corrodes the fabric of society. It undermines people’s trust in political and economic systems, institutions and leaders. It can cost people their freedom, health, money – and sometimes their lives.

But allow me to continue by introducing Scott Morrison. He is guilty of blatant lying in two instances. Firstly, he – according to a former Treasury official – was prepared to peddle any lie when it came to discrediting Labor’s negative gearing proposal:

Saul Eslake, who is also a former chief economist of Bank of America Merrill Lynch Australia, said Treasury’s advice to government, released under freedom of information in January, has revealed the extent to which the government and property industry have been willing to ensure the survival of a tax system that privileges investors.

Morrison is guilty in this instance of deliberately trying to produce “alternative facts” to promote an argument to protect the wealthy and privileged. Eslake wrote a scathing critique of just how far the government was prepared to go to discredit Labor’s Negative Gearing policy.

Eslake went on to say that:

This is a 21st century illustration of the saying attributed to Joseph Goebbels, that if a lie is big enough, and it’s repeated often enough, it can become accepted as the truth.

The former head of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, Eslake presented a stunning case against the Government and the treasurer.

All of this raises the question of just how far members of parliament should be allowed to go before being exposed for their lies. Sure you might say that in this instance the government has indeed been publicly exposed and democracy has been served. However in the current “Trump” era where lying has become as normal as the use of a mobile phone, do we not need more liberal FOI rules.

Secondly, Scott Morrison’s is accused, when Immigration Minister, of using ASIO to deliberately delay the security clearances of refugees entitled to permanent protection,

According to the Refugee Advice and Casework Service (RACS) said the minister’s direction had shown an “utter disregard for the law”, and torn families apart.

He is being accused of breaking the law, no less.

The Minister’s legal obligation was to make a decision on refugee applications within 90 days, but most decisions took between three and five years, and some people are still waiting for a final outcome.

Documents, first reported by the ABC, show that in the first month of the Abbott government – after it had campaigned hard in opposition to “stop the boats” – Morrison asked his department to advise what legal avenues were available to prevent asylum seekers who had arrived by boat from ever being awarded permanent protection.Morrison was told there were 70 asylum seekers who had no health, character or security checks outstanding, with only pre-grant checks to be completed, and “this group is the highest risk of requiring a permanent grant.A further 620 people had had most of their checks completed and were also likely to be awarded a permanent grant, pushing the number of high priority asylum seekers towards 700.

It is a long and disheartening story that most people would find disturbing, and you can read about it in full here, but the fact remains that a delay did take place and Morrison needs to explain, given that he approved the overall plan, why ASIO was used the way it was.

An observation

“For a Ministry with qualifications from the greatest learning institutions in the world, it’s difficult to imagine how so many brainless buffoons could gather around the same table at the same time and cause so much havoc.”

This week we have the government proposing the most draconian legislation on free speech I have ever come across. So afraid of being caught out by the media of any wrongdoing, they are now trying to muzzle the free press.

That’s right, the cabinet who can’t even keep a secret in a cabinet wants it to be against the law for journalists to do their job.

The proposed legislation criminalises all steps of news reporting, from gathering and researching of information to publication/communication, and applies criminal risk to journalists, other editorial staff and support staff who know of the information that is now an offence to ‘deal’ with, hold and communicate.

Yes, I kid you not. The way we follow America we might become only the second nation in the world to believe its own bullshit. Anyway, 14 media organisations – AAP, HT&E, Bauer Media, Fairfax Media, MEAA, FreeTV, ASTRA, Commercial Radio, CBAA, News Corp, ABC, SBS, NewsMediaWorks and The West Australian – all told Canberra’s joint committee on intelligence and security that the Turnbull government’s proposed new secrecy bill was draconian: Criminalising journalism to keep us safe from traitors, spies and terrorists.

An observation

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

The media organisations want the bill amended to include a public interest and news reporting defence covering all provisions on secrecy and espionage. If Turnbull was to get this ridiculous legislation through the parliament it would turn whistleblowers and journalists doing the work of the fourth estate, declared criminals.

No doubt I could go on and on listing events similar to the ones aforementioned. John Howard, Peter Dutton, Greg Hunt and Christopher Pyne would be top of the list and reader could name a few more.

What a dishonourable lot they are. What possesses men (in this case) to pervert all that is good about our system of government that we define as democracy? What goes on in their heads that they would give power and the use of it precedence over the public’s right to know?

If they were to do the things I have mentioned in a public commercial setting they would find themselves in jail.

Good democracies should have checks and balances to make them work but the cases I raise suggest that Ministers have carte blanche to do whatever they want. It is plainly wrong.

What I find vexing is that the Turnbull Government can introduce draconian legislation such as that aimed at journalists and whistleblowers whilst behaving like common criminals themselves. There should be a law against it. Honourable gentleman, indeed.

My thought for the day

“Of all the things that have caused the disintegration in the public’s trust in the body politic. it is the lack of truth that defines it.”

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  1. etnorb

    Great article as usual John! I agree with everything you wrote. My opinion of ALL the Liberals (especially) is that they are just a rabble of inept, lying, obscenely over-paid, would-be politicians. The fact that they seem to get away with ALL the lies, untruths & alternate facts all the time, to me just illustrates what bastards the lot of them are! And, sadly so many (too many?) voters in OZ keep on electing them! WTF? It is past time for some HONESTY in our Federal Parliament! PLEASE!!

  2. Florence nee Fedup

    Peta made comment last week that when they took over Rudd’s office they found at the back of a drawer Labor’s campaign manual. Laughingly said she she used it as Abbott’s campaign manual. Admitted to plagiarizing.

  3. Terry2

    In the six years of the Rudd / Gillard Labor government from 2007 to 2013, gross government debt increased by $225 billion, from just under $50 billion to just over $273 billion.

    Over this period the world economy went through an economic melt-down, government tax receipts were severely reduced and money was pumped into stimulating our economy and keeping us out of recession : it worked.

    In simple terms, government debt rose by an average of $38 billion a year under Labor and its policies during the GFC.

    So far under the coalition government, gross government debt has increased by a further $203 billion to a record $476 billion. This has happened despite a strong world economy, interest rates locally being cut to record lows and the export sector being helped by a competitive level for the Australian dollar.

    The annual increase in government debt under the coalition government has been an average of $60 billion per year, some $22 billion a year more than under Labor. Treasurer Scott Morrison’s recent budget update has government debt reaching $600 billion by 2020.

    You may remember the scare campaign run by the coalition on Labor’s debt and deficit debacle and even Barnaby Joyce saying this :

    We’re going into hock to our eyeballs to people overseas. And you’ve got to ask the question how far in debt do you want to go? We are getting to a point where we can’t repay it.

    Some people believed that debt was out of control under Labor and that only the coalition’s superior economic management could repay the debt and eliminate the deficit and they voted accordingly in 2013 : the same people are now being asked to believe that tax cuts will achieve the same result.

    Just how gullible are we ?

  4. Graham

    All true John, maybe if we had an ICAC with the added power to make MPs retract statements that are false eg. recent negative gearing Treasury advice, getting fined in the process, we’d get somewhere. But with so many vested interests writing policies for their own benefit what chance of change? Plus plenty of passive voters are hypnotized by the media to believe any old rubbish, so good luck with getting sense out of the system. Take up an enjoyable hobby?

  5. Kaye Lee

    As we are still aiming for a surplus in 2020 (as if), I want to see what services will be cut to pay for corporate and income tax cuts.

    The other ridiculous part about income tax cuts, as Barrie Cassidy pointed out, is we are all going to have an income tax increase when the extra medicare levy kicks in. Give us a cut in an election year knowing there is an increase the following year. What a ridiculous waste of time.

    And the rot about our corporate tax rate being uncompetitive is another lie. Whilst the headline rate of 30% is now comparatively high, the many deductions we allow makes the effective tax rate, according to the US Congressional Budget Office, 10.4%. Also, because of our dividend imputation system which stops income being taxed twice, Australian shareholders will have to pay higher income tax to compensate for the reduction in franking credits.

    The whole thing is a con obvious to anyone who looks at the real tax system as opposed to the headline rate.

    Turns out Australia’s company tax rate isn’t high after all

  6. Adrianne Haddow

    And they bleat about Australian values….. they write new ones, that fit their particular situation, as they go along.
    The behaviour displayed by this corrupt bunch of dishonourables is decidedly un Australian and yet they carry on, hypocritically, throwing terms like ‘love and care for the Australian people’ at the beleaguered electorate. All the while selling our employment and education opportunities and our resources to the highest donating foreign corporations.

    I am particularly pissed off about the dishonourables who creep into parliament by the back door, with as few as 19 or 150 votes, to fill the positions of those whose legality to stand in elections was declared null and void by law, and then swap parties, as the door swings closed behind them.
    It seems once the nose is in the trough, any semblance of ethics is disposable.

    We, Australian voters, need to wake up and insist on legislation that ensures our votes are worth more than the paper they are printed on.

  7. wam

    Hahaha only positive today, Lord John.

    ps Kaye
    Love your idea of attacking the deficit ‘If’!!
    The word ‘if’ was used by trumball as a positive truth, almost as often as he used shorten in a negative truth,

    “Some people believed that debt was out of control under Labor” that was because the rabbott told us every day in answering any question and labor let him off without derision he deserved they are still in that silent mode. Full of hope that we will suddenly make the connection without the need of a bill/tanya induced memory jog. Even the lost files are still penny’s fault?

  8. helvityni

    Yes, Adrianne, I thought the same; they all seem to be church-going Christians too, if we take on their values, we’ll end in the Hell with them…
    Maybe they just want a Heaven on earth for themselves and are happy to make the life a hell for rest of us….

  9. helvityni

    …the word LOVE is thrown about daily, but I don’t see much of if in practice, not towards those who need it most, the sick, the poor ,the old…

    They don’t want give a safe haven for refugees who are victims of wars, no, we are going to be arms merchants…

  10. Henry Rodrigues

    Helvityni…………. Just look very close and hard at the images of those two blackguards at the top of the story, can you can perceive any love therein , or honesty, or understanding ?? Instead the’re busy formulating laws and regulations to stifle any comment on their disgusting crooked behaviour. The MSM and now the ABC and SBS have been recruited/coerced to do their bit to ensure a coalition victory in the next election.

  11. Jack Arnold

    An excellent article but talk remains cheap. We need to take action by mobilising NOW and begin talking down this LNP misgovernment of big business cronies and lap-dogs to foreign owned multinational mining corporations. do to today, say something negative about an LNP politician or policy to any one who will listen.

  12. Keitha Granville

    why is there no way to enforce the same rules on politicians that apply to most of us in the real world ?

    we can’t lie to police officers, we can’t lie in court, we can’t lie to Centrelink, we can’t lie to the Tax Department, we can’t lie to Customs and Immigration, we can’t lie to our employers.

    and yet they seem to be able to lie to all of the above and mostly to us, their employers.

    there is something rotten in the State . . . .

  13. Terry2

    You may have heard from various government ministers this morning that the question of dual citizenship involving government members is just a distraction yet they seem hell bent on wasting the time of our parliament exposing Labor suspects whilst denying they have any who need to be looked into.

    Take for instance, Liberal Mr Jason Falinski who released Australian legal advice from the firm Arnold Bloch Leibler stating he is not a foreign national but adding that the firm “cannot conclusively advise on foreign law” and recommending he get independent advice on Polish law. Mr Falinski says he has done this, but he declined to release that subsequent advice.

    This is a farce and I believe that the suggestion by Shorten prior to the summer break that both sides refer any members, whose citizenship was in doubt, to the High Court was the way to go and in the meantime they should be getting on with the governance of this nation : the coalition refused this compromise offer.

    We will find in Question Time today just how committed the coalition are to moving on form this distraction.

  14. Roswell

    We are goose-stepping towards the unthinkable.

  15. Kronomex

    This distraction smacks of sheer and utter desperation by the LNP –


    Every time the cretin and moron, first class, Pynebox opens his lunatic mouth he just cements in my mind that he’s a raving nutcase. “”There certainly won’t be an election in 2018,” he said. One word springs to mind here; a male cow and faecal matter followed by several exclamation marks.

    All Trembles and cronies can do is build lie upon lie (think of the King of Swamp Castle sequence), etc, in the hope that eventually the lies will solidify into truth.

    I can almost picture them, urged on by that nasty little demon Heinrich Dutton in the background, trying to figure out some way to declare martial law in the name of protecting Australians from some unseen enemy or threat. Then we’d never get rid of them short of civil war.

    Terry2 @8.36: don’t worry Scum Morriscum will just raise the national credit card level to cover any further blowouts. “Damn the torpedos, full speed ahead,” Scum will say to Trembles.
    “What about when we get kicked out at the next election?” replies Malcontent.
    “Easy, we’ll all develop amnesia and keep blaming Labor.”

  16. Anon E Mouse

    I would like to be confident in the AEC. After the last few elections there appears to be too many oddities and the way senators can get in with so few votes is incomprehensible.
    If Australia was a third world country, I wonder what would be said about our electoral processes.

  17. helvityni

    Yes ,Henry R, now even the SBS has joined in the ‘un-balanced’ reporting…

    With all that Bill bashing, I wonder what happened to the good old Aussie rule; Fair crack of the whip … How can any thinking ,caring person vote that motley lot in to govern the country, I do not understand.

  18. Glenn Barry

    Wonderful article Lord, we’re besieged by rulers who are honourable in title only – in all thought, intent, deed and action they are the very antithesis of honourable and they denigrate this country mercilessly.
    They are completely out of control devoid of any moral compass or national interest concerns

    @Kronomex – I think you’re probably not far from the truth depicting Dutton conspiring to enact martial law, but first he has to seize control of the government

  19. diannaart

    I can (almost) understand why rusted-on Labor supporters become a tad sensitive – Labor does receive excessive bashing by its (true) opponents/enemies as well as the MSM propaganda machine, that when some honest critique is proffered from the the progressive side, they over react, quite a bit. Apart from providing the far-right entertainment, it is adding to the increasing difficulties of ever seeing representative democracy any time in the foreseeable.

    Been reading a bit of Sun Tzu (as you do), the war general recommends irritating the enemy if arrogant – find someone on the right who isn’t arrogant! We sure can’t reason with Dutton et al, however a concerted campaign of irritation – public irritation maybe at least one tactic.

    We have some much with which to irritate:

    Every feckin’ lie for a start.

  20. Glenn Barry

    Turnbully is back on form blustering at the top of his voice in question time

    I can’t wait till poll 30 – let Dutton make his move and their annihilation will ensue

  21. ace Jones

    Forget so-called democratic election, scrap it, its junk .. doesnt work equitably any longer. (if it ever did)
    After the current mob of morons’ term ends bring in a couple of Human Resource Management Firms to select new members of Parliament based on honesty, life experience , wisdom, foresight .. all the virtues these current morons lack.
    Because the majority are fed-up to the back teeth with farcical ‘politics Australia style’
    just makes you cringe doesnt it ….

  22. Harry

    I’d like to see much more political propriety and honesty. But really John, politics these days is close to war!

    When your opponents, your class enemy, the parties of town and country capital, are willing to go to almost any lengths short of outright violence, to discredit you, to misrepresent you, to lie shamelessly, to thrash political convention, to co-opt the military to your political aims, what should you do?

    They do not fight fair, especially when they are staring down the barrel of defeat. Progressive voices are up against it, every time.

  23. MaleficientX

    Imagine the craziness if Darth Dutton ever gets control

  24. John L

    Terry…just how gullible are we?
    When I look at the people around me, I think the general populace are still very gullible.

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