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.
“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.
“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.”