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Day to Day Politics: Another by-election, and stuff the Business Council.

Thursday 3 May 2018

1 “There is more to that issue with Tim Hammond than meets the eye. People don’t just resign in their first term.”

My friend Timmy Titbits of Facebook fame sent me that message yesterday following the resignation of WA Parliamentarian Tim Hammond. I’m inclined to agree with Timmy. Why would you resign with an election just around the corner? By my reckoning the election will be held in August or September and given that a by-election has to be held within three months he could have just, not stood again. Even if the election is called in May next year the same principle would apply. Hammond, however, confesses that:

“For the last 18 months, as much as I’ve desperately tried to wrestle this to the ground, I just cannot find myself reconciling the role of a federal parliamentarian from here in Perth with being the dad that fundamentally I just need to be to three very little children.”

Sure, all the reasons he submitted are legitimate, three young kids and all the travel time. It all adds up but there is something odd about it that doesn’t ring true.

With a 3% margin Labor should win the seat and improve their lead with the right candidate. If the Coalition perform badly, you can say it’s curtains.

2 Is it legitimate for the Business Council of Australia to elicit money for the sole purpose of supporting the Coalition at the next election with the express purpose of big business getting a huge tax cut? After all individual companies donate funds to the Coalition. Have done for many years.

After all activist group “GetUp!” raise funds in support of individuals and causes and are supported by thousands of people. Even me. They are vigorous in their activism and have had many successes. And of course, the union movement raise funds from its members in support of the Labor Party.

Now the BCA is ramping up its campaign, raising a hefty $26 million at $200,000 each from 130 members, as we learnt in this debut report from the ABC’s Laura Tingle on 7.30 last night, explained in this Westacott op-ed [$] in The Australian.

One, I suppose, could argue that there is no difference and both should be allowed to. There is though one major difference and Kristina Kenneally tweeted it yesterday:

“Malcolm Turnbull is the political arm of Big Business and Labor is the political arm of middle and working class Australians.”

Labor speaks for an improvement in the working conditions of Australians and big business speaks only for the interests of its shareholders. Having the big end of town campaigning for higher profits for banks at a time when they are being investigated for breaking the law has a certain ring of unethical conduct about it. And giving big business tax cuts – paid for with borrowed money – is contemptible. And that this money would be mainly repaid by the taxpayer is even more so.

Not so long ago a group of miners put some money together because they were unhappy with the amount of money they were paying in tax. So successful were they that in essence, they were telling the government how much tax they were prepared to pay.

It’s fine for individuals or groups of individuals to try to influence governments but big business should be 10 steps removed.

The behaviour of big business being revealed at the moment makes the union movement seem like a sub-branch of the Salvation Army. The Business Council of Australia in choosing to side with the conservative parties has openly placed profit before community.

The community will also see it that way.

My thought for the day

“According to Newspoll the worse they get the more popular they become.” (The Coalition, I mean).


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  1. New England Cocky

    Astute comments John.

    Perhaps it will be time for the ALP Shorten government to ban corporate donations to political influencing entities, and only permit donations from natural persons with a limit on the quantum of any donations on a sliding time scale, with public disclosure to be made within 48 hours real time, and no political donations made within seven (7) days of the election date.

    Then, these political donations by corporate executives reduce shareholder dividends so there should be a tax to discourage such activity that will benefit the population as a whole. So, corporate executives and their immediate family making donations could reasonably be considered to be using corporate funds to enhance their corporate position, thus “the Australian people” should also benefit to the tune of a 50% contribution to the ATO by the corporate executive personally.

    Naturally, all foreign political donations from corporations or individuals should be banned because in this day and age international transfers of finances is instantaneous.

  2. Merrilyn Wasson

    Agree with your friend about the weirdness and inconvenience of Hammond’s resignation. My father was a WA MP for 33 years, including a time as a Minister in the Whitlam Government. He too had three children, all born after he was elected, and this at a time when travel was much more arduous. It was a partnership agreed with my mother. Not easy for sure, especially in times of ill health, but they used the ‘it takes a village’ approach and had the help of family and friends.

    Am torn between sympathy and annoyance and suspicion. A better work offer and from whom?

  3. Keitha Granville

    If one more politician bleats that they are stepping down to spend more time with family I will scream. The rest of us wouldn’t prefer that ?? Surely he was abundantly aware before he stood for office that travelling and time away from family woud be involved.
    It shouldn’t be allowed unless in cases of illness personally or serious illness of family. We cannot have MPs deciding they will just leave whenever they feel like it, causing costly by-elections. If they do, then it should be like the Senate – the next person in line is elected for the remainder of the term – preferably from the other side !

  4. Matters Not

    Lots of sympathy for Tim Hammond. He had a bright future – already a Shadow with the real prospect of a Ministry to follow in the near future. Remarkable given his short time in Parliament and the fierce competition in a talented pool of members The unplanned arrival of another child added to his parental responsibility and having worked with politicians over a number of years, it’s not an easy life.

    But yes I am also sick of excuses.

    As for the BCA, I would like to know which companies cough up and those which refuse. Seems to me that those who donate are ripe for a product boycott perhaps organised by GetUp. Sally – never lets a chance go by.

    This ‘scandal’ ought to be as manna from heaven . Involving lots of dough as it does.

  5. wam

    Trolls, like me, believe that not all can be honest in the modern climate of instant opinion by ‘millions of hits’.

    The blanket ‘more time with my family is not supported by the evidence of time away from home in canberra,

    The school holidays extremely rarely clash with work commitments with sundays and public holidays never.

    the workload is not supported by the number of support staff,

    the pay level is not the basic work requirements (when a labor senator speaks there is rarely any support from colleagues and, apart from the president, none to listen)

    the allowances are not commensurate with the duties performed.

    Surely the people of Australia deserve know how hard their pollies work and how much they are ‘away’ from family? We could remember there are thousands of real and retired pollies all soaking in the puddles of public cash and no evidence of their workload.

    the ipswich ‘labor’ council is in trouble and a labor member told the labor premier who did nothing because the council is labor reflects the attitude of sunrise and today who cannot be seen to support labor.
    The rabbott’s efforts to denigrate labor are still bearing fruit, as ‘fair and truthful’ reporting, like that is the norm on all TV channels including the ABC with tingle.

    pps still no trump? Why????

  6. Hotspringer

    Re: Tim Hammond
    As far as I am concerned, good riddance. There should be no place in the ALP for a friend of Cormann.

  7. Stephen Bowler

    The BCA, have done us a favour, they have come out and displayed the self interest. I am sure that the ALP can counter this very obvious, dummy spit by the BCA, who feel they must go it alone, because clearly they have lost faith in their political arm to represent their selfish desires.

  8. Harry

    A good article John as usual but I must clarify the so called debt problem (that the Coalition has so significantly increased). I hope Labor does NOT try to get the budget back to surplus – unless the economy is so red hot that inflation becomes a threat.

    Professor Bill Mitchell puts it this way in his blog today:

    “Public debt is issued at maturities (a certain time when it is paid back) irrespective of what happens to it after it is issued in the primary market.

    Eventually the holder of the debt, at the time of maturity, will get their cash.

    Public debt is the stock that relates to the flow of expenditure that is the deficit (the net outcome of two flows – spending and taxation.

    If the government is running a fiscal surplus it is taking more out than it is putting in, which squeezes the non-government sector for liquidity, and forces that sector to shed financial wealth.

    Of course, as I have previously noted that there is no sense that you can relate the debt issuance to increasing the spending capacity of the currency-issuing government.

    The Australian public have probably forgotten by now but in 2002, the Federal government created a “Review of the Commonwealth Government Securities Market” as a result of the public debt market becoming very thin (not much for sale).

    This situation arose because the Government had been retiring its net debt position as it was running fiscal surpluses. They came under pressure from the big financial market institutions (particularly the Sydney Futures Exchange) to continue issuing public debt despite the increasing surpluses.

    The financial markets wanted the corporate welfare embodied in the public debt – it is risk free and a perfect vehicle to park funds in uncertain times and also as a benchmark to price private financial assets that do carry risk.

    At the time, the federal government was continually claiming that it was financially constrained and had to issue debt to ‘finance’ itself.

    But, given they were generating surpluses, then it was clear that according to this logic, the debt-issuance should have stopped.

    The upshot was that the Government agreed to continue to issue debt even though it was running surpluses as a sop to the corrupt financial sector who needed their dose of corporate welfare.

    The contradiction involved in this position was not evident in the debate although I did a lot of radio interviews trying to get the ridiculous nature of the discussion into the public arena”.

    There is actually no need to issue debt to cover deficits, but its another fiction of neoliberalism

  9. Matters Not

    Would you believe?

    Donald Trump’s new lawyer Rudy Giuliani says Mr Trump repaid his personal attorney Michael Cohen for a $US130,000 ($173,000) payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, directly contradicting the President’s past statements.

    During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s Hannity, Mr Giuliani said the money had been “funnelled … through the law firm and the President repaid it.”

    Surely no one’s surprised – and at so many levels. So many lies – in so many ways – on so many days.

    Ms Daniels’ lawyer, Michael Avenatti, called the comment “a stunning revelation”.

  10. Harry


    The national debts of sovereign currency-issuing governments are not actual debts, because the “debt” is denominated in the currency that only the national government issues.

  11. Michael Taylor

    MN, when I saw that on Twitter earlier I couldn’t help but think that the final nail in the coffin just received another blow from the hangman’s hammer.

    I’ve never wished that I were a fly, but just this once I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall of whatever room trump was in when he saw that interview.

    I could have witnessed, first hand, the most famous of meltdowns.

    But doesn’t matter … I’ll see it on Twitter.

  12. Matters Not

    MT – now who says people don’t construct their own reality? As always, will Trump be mugged by his errant misconstruction? I suspect not. He’s bullet proof. Can do what he likes. When he likes and who …

    Only in America.

  13. Trish Corry

    Maybe there are personal reasons that the MP doesn’t think is for public discussion. Maybe they don’t want the McJudgy mcjudge people making judgements, memes or cartoons or Murdoch news writing “scathing exposes” about something that may be to do with his wife or kids. Not everything has to be suspicious.

  14. Mick Byron

    “HotspringerMay 3, 2018 at 9:48 am

    Re: Tim Hammond
    As far as I am concerned, good riddance. There should be no place in the ALP for a friend of Cormann”

    Should there be a place in the Greens for Sarah Hanson Young who claimed Malcolm Frazer her “mentor” and dear friend ?

  15. king1394

    Just because so many pollies have, over the years, cited family reasons for resigning, and are found taking on a thinly disguised lobbying job straight after, it does not mean that this is the case for everyone. Mr Hammond does have a very young family. We cannot know the particular concern he (and his wife) have but we can’t just rule out that some crisis has arisen. As he is obviously a very capable person, it cannot be surprising if he should subsequently take up a worthwhile position in his home state.

    Over the years we have also seen a few MPs hitting the wall (I’m thinking of Premier John Brogden as a very well-known case) – and their wives also – Hazel Hawke, Gwen Cairns; marriage break-ups / infidelities are also not unknown. including the very well publicised Barnaby Joyce case. Maybe Hammond should be congratulated for valuing his personal and family wellbeing.

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