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Don’t lose sight of the fair go, Bill.

Australians are spoilt for choice this week in politics. On the far right is Scott John Morrison who is determined to improve on his last week’s Slow-Mo filibuster fiasco by pretending that religious freedom is the biggest issue facing the nation along with encryption-busting and stopping kids needing medical treatment off Nauru.

Not only that, he’s a Walter-Mitty-Henry Kissinger style negotiator who can kick-start the Arab-Israeli peace process by offending both parties and sundry nearby Muslim nations such as Indonesia and Malaysia, whom our governments are always on the verge of cracking amazing free trade deals, that somehow never eventuate.

ScoMo’s got both hands full in his pre-MYEFO clean-up as he checks the fudged figures and shoves a whole lot of other stuff off into a review, while, over on the left, in Adelaide, city of churches, Labor holds its annual conference, an event which somehow shrinks in ABC TV coverage to recurring images of Stop Adani protestors.

Bill’s got the fair go theme happening; great shots of the most photogenic family in Australian politics and a beaut re-run of a plan to subsidise housing for developers who’ll charge rents low enough for underemployed workers to afford, despite their flat-lining wages, soaring utilities and jobs that are increasingly underpaid and insecure.

Yet developers and loans all take time. Sadly for those three million Australians, the OECD tell us are living on the poverty line, there is no hope that Labor will lift Newstart. Guardian Australia reports the conference will wimp out with promises to review Newstart within 18 months if Labor wins in May or whenever. Insult the poor.

The Guardian’s Katharine Murphy who clearly knows her onions reports “senior figures are reluctant to sign up to a concrete commitment to increase Newstart because of the fiscal impact”. The fiscal impact? The triumph of Neoliberalism is complete when Labor apparatchiks talk of “fiscal impact” when they won’t pony up the money.

Where is the Labor Party that stood by the battler? The party that fought for a fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay?

Stage right there’s a banner showing some poor sods being evicted for upstaging Mr Shorten with a message about getting kids out of detention. Labor’s lock-step with Liberal on “off-shore detention” doesn’t offer much hope but you can’t fault the demonstrators for gate-crashing the Labor love-fest with a heartfelt plea to help the suffering.

Over in Morrison’s sordid corner, the work experience PM is riffing with his powerful fellow religious cranks.

We have more than enough religious freedom in Australia but, like John Howard, ScoMo knows – or hopes – there’s votes in even the most fatuous, confected, totally futile crusade. Besides, he believes this stuff. You can tell.

When he declared religious freedom his number one priority back last August it was more than a broad hint. Back then, he spoke of “preventative regulation and legislation to ensure your religious freedom in this country. In other words, it didn’t have to exist but if it did we’d have the laws on the books to stop it in its tracks.

“What you believe should always be a matter for you … Anti-discrimination is an important principle in a modern democracy and so it is important that that principle of anti-discrimination and the protection of people’s religious liberty are addressed in this country. And there is some unfinished business that we are seeking to address in the announcements that we’re making today.” Morrison stutters at his Thursday presser. Yet he moves fast.

Sleeves rolled-up, “getting on and doing – and listening”, ScoMo sets a cracking change of pace as he dashes into a series of pressers. Last week’s slow bicycle race is over.

Now he’s waving a Christmas check-list. Busy-dizzy. The futuristic white tubular podiums, which wouldn’t be out of place on the bridge of a spaceship get a fair workout from the daggy dad, the everyman PM who vows to be a man of the people. Fat chance. Morrison loves only to preach.

Call it his post-modern sermon on the dismount or his own “unfinished business”, ScoMo battles to clear the decks and appease Abbott and the lads, a scurvy crew who’ll mutiny at any hint of a Federal ICAC or any sell-out of the right over religious freedoms, a long-promised sop to homophobes for losing the marriage equality plebiscite.

Morrison has a lot to tick off. None of it is easy, but top of the list is taking his foot out of his mouth over his Wentworth by-election stunt. Foreign policy is not his forte. Who’d be so silly as to bid for “the Jewish vote” by moving the Australia embassy to East Jerusalem?

Why follow the United States’ and Guatemala’s lead and flout international consensus? It’s the thought-bubble debacle of his political career, against some strong contenders.

Who can forget or forgive ScoMo’s $55 million 2014 Cambodian solution which resettled but two refugees, a decision which Peter Dutton, ever the master of Orwellian double-speak, calls “a good outcome”?

Morrison formally recognises West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Saturday, in a talk in Gerry and Anne Henderson’s cosy right wing, corporate-sponsored think tank, The Sydney Institute, which in 1989, former Howard adviser, Gerry lovingly fashioned out of the Sydney branch of the IPA with financial assistance from Philip Morris.

Two staff members only are employed, Gerard is Executive Director and Anne is Deputy Director. You can see them both in homespun shot as they fiddle with microphones and fetch glasses of water for the useful idiot PM.

“Foreign policy must speak of our character and our values. What we stand for. What we believe in and, if need be, what we’ll defend,” oleaginous Trump toady Morrison bloviates in yet another pro-US foreign policy speech at the Henderson’s Sydney terrace home, otherwise, grandiosely known to the ATO, as The Sydney Institute.

It is not a good outcome for our international relations. Australia joins just three other nations; the Russian Federation, the Czech Republic and Panama. Since 2014, our international reputation’s copped a hammering.

We make the declaration, says Morrison from a desire to end a “rancid stalemate” in the peace process. It’s likely to have exactly the opposite effect. Could he be hoping that his mixed metaphor will achieve a breakthrough?

Neither side seems impressed. An Israeli official tells The Times of Israel “We’re disappointed with the Australian decision… Morrison only went half-way. It’s a step in the right direction, but we expected more.”

President of the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network, Bishop George Browning, calls Morrison’s announcement “a tortuous attempt to salvage himself from a pre-emptive thought bubble prior to the Wentworth by-election”.

That there is no city named West Jerusalem, according to the Israeli government, doesn’t seem to worry Morrison’s government. Yet, in international law and diplomacy, the status of Jerusalem has been a vexed question since Israel was created in 1948. Fools rush in.

International law considers East Jerusalem to be Palestinian territory under illegal Israeli occupation. Since 1967, when Israeli troops drove Jordanian settlers out of East Jerusalem, expanding its borders, Israeli actions have been the subject of many UN Security Council resolutions calling upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories.

Australia will hold off moving its embassy, Morrison says, until a peace settlement is reached. But it’ll check out a site. Palestine will be recognised after a settlement has been reached on a two-state solution.

While Israel sees Australia’s stance as “a step in the right direction”, Palestine is incensed. Secretary-General of the PLO Executive Committee, Saeb Erekat, blasts the “irresponsible policies” that led to the recognition.

“The policies of this Australian administration have done nothing to advance the two-state solution,” Erekat says in a statement. “The holy city remains a final-status issue in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which have run aground.”

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation attacks Australia’s new policy for being contradictory. It violates our obligations under international law (namely UNSC 478, something Australia denies). Luckily a culture war breaks out at home. Morrison must stand up for what he believes in. Bugger the rest of us.

Ruddock is dudded. Blessed are the meek in spirit but pity the poor souls who are made to wait seven months to hear a peep from the PM on their report on the power of religious outfits to discriminate. Ruddock recommends that such organisations have their exemptions from discrimination laws abolished or at least reduced.

[The panel] could see no justification for exceptions in existing law relating to race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status,” the report says of the current religious anti-discrimination exemptions at the federal, state and territory level that differ across jurisdictions. “The panel is of the view that those jurisdictions retaining exceptions should review them having regard to community expectations.”

But ScoMo says no. “Pushes back” as they insist in modern commentary. The PM orders a review of the review.

Ruddock’s review has taken a full year since Turnbull lit the torch and seven months since it reported. It’s now likely to become an election issue and voters may not take kindly to the Coalition’s need to placate the far right over the right of all children (and teachers) to be spared discrimination regardless of what school they attend.

But ScoMo knows best. He rejects Ruddock’s findings in favour of his own surprise Christmas gift to the nation, a “freedom of religion commissioner”, to bulk up The Australian Human Rights Commission with a bit more rightist bias, as part of a culture war no-one needs or wants. Or can afford, financially or socially.

Not everything gets top air-play. Dud ideas, such as the Clayton’s Federal ICAC or ones that may cause trouble such as the promise to hold a Royal Commission into aged care are dumped in a quiet time-slot; “putting out the trash”. It’s as much a Coalition strength, as its fetish for secrecy or its unparalleled capacity to stall, flip-flop, flounder or nose-dive while preaching practicality and strong leadership.

Despite the promise that the royal commission would start this year, its first directions hearing has been postponed from December 7 to January 18. As Laura Tingle points out, hearings proper begin in February.

It gives little time for public submissions, nor for the commissioners to adequately prepare themselves.

Not so our new Governor General, who will – gasp- be another old digger, David Hurley, a former defence chief and current NSW Governor. The Coalition has pointedly ignored Labor’s request to make the appointment after the proposed May 2019 election.

Cosgrove will stay on until the end of June when Hurley officially takes over. As Paul Karp notes this gives Morrison his pick of governor as well as keeping his election options open. Tellingly, Morrison announces the appointment with another homily.

“It was General Hurley who first spoke the words, ‘The standard you walk past, is the standard you accept’. That is a lesson to all of us. It is a phrase that embodies what Australian leadership is all about and it is a phrase that has embodied the service of General Hurley.”

Yet as Chris Bowen notes, the timing suggests a government blithely unconcerned about standards of fair play.

“Do we really believe that a governor general, who will be taking up his post in the middle of next year, had to be announced today while the leader of the opposition was making an important speech at the very same time? What a coincidence.”

Yet Hurley is the very model of a modern governor general, whose heart of faith helps him lead and whose wife Linda inspires by sharing details of her daily spiritual spin, a rare double act with Eternity News

“I hula-hoop every morning and I like to read the Bible or a devotional book while I’m doing that.”

Who doesn’t? Onward Christian soldiers. Curiously, Morrison’s presser proclaiming his redundant religious freedom commission segues into his announcing his utterly unrelated Commonwealth Integrity Commission, (CIC) a Clayton’s federal ICAC, a totally toothless tiger which would have allowed even Eddie Obeid or Eric Roozendaal to evade justice, experts warn.

Geoffrey Watson SC, who had acted as counsel to ICAC in NSW opines it’s “worse than having no commission, in my opinion” while former NSW ICAC commissioner David Ipp tells ABC radio that it’s “the kind of integrity commission you’d want to have when you didn’t want to have one”.

For Crikey’s Bernard Keane, there is a wider significance in the paper tiger. Scott Morrison’s joke of federal anti-corruption body simply confirms everything voters hate about politics in Australia.”

It’s crippled by having no public hearings; the public won’t even know who is under investigation, let alone why. Herein lies a key problem. Keane believes “that’s exactly one of the key problems voters perceive with our current political system: that so much is hidden from citizens. Donations. Meetings. Lobbying. And corrupt conduct. The exercise of power in Australia is hidden, confirming the sense that it is exercised by and for the powerful only.”

Nor will justice be seen to be done if the only recourse the CIC has is to refer a matter where a public servant has acted inappropriately to the DPP, who is chosen by the Attorney-General of the day.

Perhaps the greatest flaw in the Morrison proposal is that the public will not be able to dob in a delinquent official – or one they suspect may have broken the law.

“The CIC will not investigate direct complaints about ministers, members of Parliament or their staff received from the public at large,” the government says.

Typically, Pastor ScoMo doesn’t help his cause by calling NSW ICAC a “kangaroo court”, while, equally out of order, Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter accuses it of “show-trials”. For Morrison’s government to cynically insult the integrity of a real commission against corruption diminishes any further confidence in their proposal.

Some see the CIC as a pre-emptive strike by a Morrison minority government to dodge a tougher ICAC forced on them by independent Cathy McGowan, Labor and an uppity crossbench. Yet it could filibuster or close up shop early. Parliament will sit only ten days in the first eight months of 2019 as it. Would a few less days matter?

Even if the election were to be brought forward, it should not distract us. Just how have we been gifted with a religious discrimination commissioner when Ruddock’s review panel specifically recommends against it – and what does it say about the Morrison government’s religious pre-occupation?

Freedom For Faith, a group which describes itself as a “Christian, legal, think tank” in its submission, has persuaded the Morrison government to create a religious freedom commissioner, a bargain at $1.25m-$1.5m. Beyond the fee, however, is the incalculable social cost of granting religious groups new authority to discriminate.

A Religious Freedoms Act, a cruel parody of a charter of rights, which Ruddock’s panel does recommend, would codify and expand exemptions to anti-discrimination laws. These currently grant church groups the right to hire or fire those sympathetic to its ethos. Or not.

The act would limit and override the anti-discrimination laws of Australia’s states and territories and “further protections for people who don’t want to associate with same-sex marriages”.

But be of good cheer. “Christians are not into freedom to discriminate, they’re really into freedom to select,” explains author Patrick Parkinson, a professor of law at Sydney Uni and a Freedom for Faith board member.

Father knows best. Yet, like his patronising, patriarchal predecessor, ScoMo’s paternalism will prove his undoing.

But, my, such unity. Not a bum note is heard – for a whole 24 hours. Coalition MPs are all on song, a ragged paean to the policy-free politics of survival as they plot Bill Shorten’s death and hope, somehow to avoid electoral annihilation in May as Monday’s Newspoll confirms the Morrison government’s unique and abiding unpopularity.

It trails Labor 45-55, a record low in the poll’s history for a government five months out from an election. It’s the government’s third, ten point defeat in a row. The last time this happened, notes Paul Karp in The Guardian, Julia Gillard was replaced by Kevin Rudd. Political scientist, Kevin Bonham says history is not on Morrison’s side.

“No government has recovered from this far behind with this little time to go,” Bonham says. Yet The Daily Telegraph says Labor’s “softened border policy” invites shady types into Australia. “Foreign crims’ free pass,” screams the headline. The Australian obligingly runs a very similar scare campaign. An influx of terrorists, paedophiles and crime gangs will flood the nation as a result of Labor softening its border policy.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, however. Can Bill still stuff up? Enter Rupert the red-nose reindeer. National Affairs Editor, Simon Benson in The Australian, Friday, hyperventilates over Labor’s hubris, and lese majesté in “preparing to run union-backed election campaigns in once unassailable Victorian Liberal heartland — including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s blue-ribbon Melbourne seat of Kooyong — with polling showing the Coalition risks losing the electorate once held by Australia’s longest-serving prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies.”

Back in the bosom of the Liberal Party’s broad church and even in the weatherboard and iron of the Nationals’ annexe, hearts swell as MPs rejoice in the hyper-partisan hypomania of the festive season; all noses are to the grindstone as the Coalition of the killing of Bill sharpen stilettos, rake muck and top up vast vats of vitriol.

The Coalition is obsessed by Shorten; they mention him by name in Question Time, this year, 1260 times.

Spoiler alert. Bill is to be killed during Labor’s annual conference 16-18 December. Labor will be attacked for being soft on borders, national security and refugee torture. Frydenberg’s coup de grace, a MYEFO monstering, will follow on Monday. The cunning plan is to upstage day two of “A Fair Go for Australia” Labor’s gabfest.

A mid-year economic financial outlook in December? It’s a bit like July at Christmas. But it’s all amazingly good news. A temporary spike in the price of coal and iron ore and a boost from government spending on setting up its bastardised NDIS, helps to mask a stalling economy as wages remain frozen, profits soar. Morrison’s mob, however, will boast its superior economic management. It certainly won’t be telling the truth about infrastructure.

Public and private investment in engineering is dwindling, for the fourth time in five years, Alan Austin reports; all in the five years since the Abbott government was elected, according to ABS figures up to the end of September. It’s a decline not seen since ABS figures began in Whitlam’s era. The nation’s net worth is declining as a result. Morrison will predict a budget surplus. Yet as economist Stephen Koukoulos warns, it won’t be until September

2019’s final budget outcome that we will know if the surplus occurs, or if it’s just like Wayne Swan’s, as Paul Bongiorno notes, another in a series of disappearing desert mirages. Much like the Coalition itself and the neoliberalism on which it is founded.

Disappearing. It won’t be for lack of appeasing the right. Morrison has taken no chances there. It’s fitting to reflect on the PM’s inclusiveness and largeness of heart in the season of giving.

Even drones such as Craig Kelly, who sacrificed a career selling furniture for the politics of climate change denial to chair the committee for promoting coal are thoughtfully rescued from; returned to the fold by Pope Scott’s pre-selection bulk plenary indulgence that fits brilliantly the special religious if not entirely ecumenical and certainly not gender-equal character of the mates’ rates 45th parliament.

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53 comments

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  1. Matters Not

    Another insightful essay David. (Hope that your recovery is also on track.)

    Re Ruddock and his review:

    now likely to become an election issue

    Indeed it is. Much like Labor did with Gonski. Make the promise (issue) of fair funding for schools be the bedrock for two elections (with the third in the pipeline). Even though the outcome to date has been the exact opposite of what was promised. You know – inequality of education funding has worsened.

    Yes, Labor is odds on to win the next election – (and so it should because the LNP is doing all it can to ensure that outcome) – but will Labor live up to its promises? Most likely not – if recent history is to be the guide.

    There’s promises. And there’s delivery. Often a significant gap between

  2. Shaun Newman

    David, as usual, you are spot on, we really need to get back to “the fair go” for the Australian people, who must wonder if they will ever see a fair go again in their lifetime. Bill Shorten has now raised expectations with his speech.

    I note skepticism from Matters Not which may be well-founded unless Labor have a cunning plan in order to increase the countries wealth in the way they should, I can only hope for an announcement from The Treasurer in a newly elected Labor government.

  3. Roswell

    Outstanding as usual, David.

  4. Peter F

    @MN…. Recent history will tell us that ALL governments have been thwarted in any attempt to govern for the people by the RWNJs represented by the likes of Howard and Abbott. Remember that Credlin said the ‘carbon tax’ label given to the Labor legislation was all a lie. Records now show that the legislation was the right thing for the country. That the voters accepted this lie from Abbott is our long term loss.

    We can only hope that Bill Shorten is able to stand up to the onslaught which is about to descend on him.

  5. Barry Thompson.

    I am amazed at the amount of ground you cover in one article.
    Thank you David.

  6. Joseph Carli

    Whatever the Canberrians pomp and cicumstnace puts on banners and news reports this time of year..all I am hearing down here on the footpath and at the checkout queue is ; “Bills Bills Bills”…and we’re not talking first names here….it just appears…appears-that is…that as the pollies in the big “C” get their second chins, the vulnerable home “owners” out in the burbs are struggling with the second mortgage…

  7. ajogrady

    It is “about time” that out ABC gave Labor a “Fair Go”. Yesterdays disgraceful and ugly politicisation of the Governor General announcement by Scott Morrison was compounded by the ABC allowing a blatant partisan political attack to air. The timing of the announcement was totally political as it purposely clashed with Bill Shortens speech and ABC programmers should have been aware of that fact. The ABC proves on a daily basis that good balanced journalism and programming are a distant memory. The ABC is in the grip of a master and servant scenario to the L/NP.

  8. New England Cocky

    Well done David. It’s time.

  9. Kronomex

    And queue the now inevitable, tiresome and boring “frightners” from Scummo the Scarer –

    “Mr Morrison ramped up his attacks on Mr Shorten on Sunday by warning a Labor government would increase taxes and soften the nation’s border controls with the draft law to force medical transfers from Nauru and Manus Island. Everything you get with Bill Shorten comes with higher taxes and higher taxes on some of the most vulnerable – retirees. Around a $5 billion-a-year slug on retirees’ savings,” Mr Morrison said.”

    https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/morrison-government-suffers-another-setback-as-ipsos-poll-points-to-landslide-loss-20181216-p50mjm.html

    “”I hula-hoop every morning and I like to read the Bible or a devotional book while I’m doing that.”” Uh…hard to think of somethin…oh wait…”While my husband juggles four live hand grenades as he prays and puts each pin back in as each grenade goes past his face. god hasn’t let him down yet.”

    The LNP has become a frightening farce without the comedy or humour.

  10. Diannaart

    Kronomex

    Not so sure about the timing, shouldn’t the magic miraculous money box (AKA budget surplus) arrive closer to election … unless election planned earlier than May?

    Also a budget surplus is not a budget surplus if essential government services are slashed, no investment into future, and corporate taxes reduced … it’s called false economy.

  11. Kaye Lee

    Could I also point out, it is just another promise of a surplus. Who knows what assumptions have been made or what might happen globally to oil or coal prices. Or how much longer the drought will affect our produce. Or how climate change or other things might affect tourism.

  12. Diannaart

    About the appointments of Governor Generals. RWNJ loooove all things militaristic, the title of the GG has “general” which speaks for itself, right?

    It all makes sense, lefties need to catch up.

  13. Diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Please leave your logic and reason outside where it belongs. If the LNP say they have created a surplus it is all due to their skillful accountants economic management.

  14. Kaye Lee

    First dubious assumption….

    “Exports are tipped to increase 2 per cent this year and 3.5 per cent in 2019-20. That offsets a drought-inflicted 10 per cent drop in rural exports this year.”

  15. Kaye Lee

    More dubious assumptions…..

    “There will be no budget surplus in 2019-20 if iron ore price is $5 a tonne lower than forecast, wages 0.25% lower, nominal GDP growth 0.25% lower and employment growth 0.25% lower: Tiny forecast errors have a big impact on the budget in a $2 trillion economy ” – Stephen Koukoulas

    And a war chest but they don’t know what to spend it on….

    “Frydenberg asked about the $9bn worth of “decisions taken not yet announced” replies by saying the govt needs to consider what decisions it will take… err the MYEFO says they have already been taken!” – Greg Jericho

  16. Kaye Lee

    “Government is spending more new money on a John Howard library ($16.5m) than they are spending on climate change which is going down each year ” – Jay Tilley

    “The 3.6m Australians suffering food insecurity & the 160k homeless Australians must be very surprised to hear how well the economy is doing” – Denise Shrivell

  17. Peter F

    Kaye, you imply that they might spend a war chest on something other than war …. or do you?

  18. Rhonda

    Sermon on the dismount. Love it!

  19. John O'Callaghan

    I enjoyed your article David and my take on Morrison and his far right goons is that they are all fiddiling while all around them Rome burns!…

  20. Harry

    I agree with Kaye that the promised federal budget surplus will likely never be achieved. Nor should it.

    The economy is already slowing (due to high private debt, stagnant wages and rising cost of living) so in that context taking money out of the economy will only produce a slowdown with higher unemployment and more private debt.

    If the Coalition is lucky the economic downturn will not become really clear until the 2019 election is over; by that time Labor will have to deal with it.

    I only hope Labor if in government will not follow through on its rhetoric that it will produce a large surplus than the Coalition.

  21. Diannaart

    Harry

    I only hope Labor if in government will not follow through on its rhetoric that it will produce a large surplus than the Coalition.

    If I start hearing more rubbish talk like that from Labor, I’m off to New Zealand

  22. Kronomex

    Rats, just after I get the bell from the ceiling and back where it should be I clicked on your link and, bugger me, the bell shot off the meter stand again.

    “But in a statement, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack said the message was “accidentally and inadvertently” sent to the reporter when it was actually intended for a friend.” Of course that disgusting oaf meant to send it to the journo and McCormack’s pathetic excuse just makes him look like the weak ineffective little man he is.

    I think that what I will have to do is build a small, but tall, shed (with a roof made of padded steel to keep down the noise and stop the bell from launching into low orbit) outside and put the BS Meter inside it until the LNP electioneering phase of the looming election is over.

  23. totaram

    Diannaart:
    Better plan that move to NZ. Chris Bowen assures us that Labor will deliver bigger surpluses than the coalition, and you can see they don’t want to commit to increasing Newstart because of the “fiscal impact” (which again points to their stupid belief in “surplus budgets”). At the risk of repeating myself ad nauseum, they don’t even get the 3 sector financial identity, which guarantees increasing private debt if we have a government surplus and no trade surplus. These people, like Andrew Leigh and Chris Bowen are supposed to be economists! (but can’t get simple algebra, it seems – or are they too scared of being wedged by the coalition so they keep mum?)

    Oh, and no fair go because of the fiscal impact, right? There is no money.

  24. Kaye Lee

    The disgusting twerp has been named as Troy Rowling. And I don’t care who he meant to send it to.

    “hope her family dies of vicious cacel (sic) … I mean that … painful cancer for a vicious feminist c–t. A c–t. Let her come to my home … slap her on her bitch face.”

    And he’s only on leave?????

  25. Stephegb

    That anyone talks of a surplus budget as being a good thing is just plain ignorant.

    To wit:

    The annual Budget is merely a ‘PROJECTION’ of the costs expected for the next financial year and is the constitutionaly required appropriation Bill.

    That the budget is projection, it is in effect a combination of known costs and the government’s wishes to spend.

    The Government in its desire to be seen as economically responsible and to justify taxes will include the so called ‘Consolidated revenue’ base (taxes). But the constitutionally referred to Consolidated Revenue account, does not actually exist, it is merely deemed.

    But I digress, a budget surplus therefore is a number denominated in $ to represent the difference between what is proposed to be spent and what is deemed to projected as revenue.
    A Surplus therefore means that it is projecting that it will spend less than it will collect in revenue.

    A ‘surplus’ is less money in circulation, it is therefore a projection of more austerity. (Note – a budget Deficit therefore means more money in circulation).

    Now I am not an accountant, but if there is less money in circulation the only place people can get a shortfall is by borrowing from the bank (private debt) OR, put simply, the people will do without.

    Imagine doing without is less spending, I wonder which retailer will be happy with that prospect.
    And
    If people borrow to bridge the shortfall, they then have to use more of their disposable income paying the banks. I imagine that the retaillers are not going to be happy at that either.

    Just think about that for a while, and yes both the Left and Right are obsessed with a budget surplus!

    S G B

  26. Kaye Lee

    paul walter,

    There is some hope.

    Adani’s key water management plan is flawed and used some unverified data, CSIRO says

    “Two environmental plans still need to be approved before significant disturbance can commence at the Carmichael Coal Mine.

    “These plans are the Groundwater Dependent Ecosystem Management Plan and a Black Throated Finch Management Plan.

    “The Queensland Government has been clear that the [mine] project must stack up on its own merits, both financially and environmentally.”

    The GDEMP is a requirement of the Federal Government’s final approval and also needs to be ticked off by the Queensland Government.

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-17/adani-water-management-plan-criticised-by-csiro/10625228

    As this was an existing condition, it could be a way to block them that Labor can keep quietly up their sleeve

  27. Kronomex

    I just remembered another line from a Goon Show (The Histories of Pliny the Elder) about Caesar now somewhat paraphrased and with apologies to:

    “For three months, so far, Scummo ruled with an iron hand. Then with a wooden foot, and finally with a piece of string. How much of this could Australia take?”

  28. paul walter

    Time and time again, they seem to equivocate on certain types of issues. Have been developing a really deeply hatred of Shorten’s very face over some time, not what I want to see from an ALP leader over recent years.

    Is there NO principle they will stand for?

    If I wanted neoliberalism, wouldn’t I vote Morrison?

    Sorry for bad mood, FB is stuffing me around also.

  29. helvityni

    Christian politician

    Mr Broad was named an assistant minister in August as part of the reshuffle that followed Scott Morrison becoming Prime Minister.

    He told the ABC last year that while he held Christian beliefs, he did not want to be put in the “Christian politician” column.

    “I’m a member of Parliament who’s got a belief and that belief does stem from the basic principles that the human race has fallen, that we can be redeemed,” he said.

    He was one of the first to call for Barnaby Joyce to resign as Deputy Prime Minister following the controversy about his own personal life.
    ABC news

    Folks, don’t you worry about Bill , Bowen or Leigh; there’s so much Christian talent on the other side….I want Scomo, Tony and Dutton to look after this country,and me and my family…. Blessed Be the Coalition.I too believe in redemption….

  30. Kaye Lee

    If I was a politician, I would stay right away from twitter. Broad tweeted some months ago….

    Quote from the late Billy Graham. “When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost, when character is lost, everything is lost…Telling words for the leadership of the National Party.”

    Whistling…..

  31. Michael Taylor

    Apologies for that little hiccup with the site being offline for 20 minutes, and with the site publishing a string of posts called “WPR Profile”.

    Our web host was doing a regular backup before the developer looked at adding a new feature, and the site was shut down during the process.

    I just wish they’d tell us first. 😳

    Again, my apologies.

  32. Miriam English

    Good post, David. One bit hit closer to home for me than for most. I have a lot of engineer friends and this

    Public and private investment in engineering is dwindling, for the fourth time in five years, Alan Austin reports; all in the five years since the Abbott government was elected, according to ABS figures up to the end of September. It’s a decline not seen since ABS figures began in Whitlam’s era. The nation’s net worth is declining as a result.

    horrified me. I made a meme graphic from it to post online and welcome anybody else posting it elsewhere they wish.
    http://miriam-english.org/lj/LNP_destroys_engineering.jpg

  33. Matters Not

    Re the promised surplus – probably the result of greater revenue via increased ore prices.

    So what would MMT advocates do with this particular, unforeseen surplus? (Assume timelines are short.) Return it to the buyers of that ore? Return it to the sellers of that ore? Reduce the price of that ore? Spend more on … whatever? Give each and every citizen a Christmas bonus? Buy gold? Or Silver? Pay off debt? Invest in engineering? (LOL)

    What? (And please no lessons on basic Algebra.)

  34. Kaye Lee

    MMT advocates would tell you that any increased revenue is just money destroyed the minute it is paid to the government. Revenue is irrelevant in MMT, Government revenue is the destruction of money and government spending is the creation of money.

  35. Miriam English

    To be clear, the money is destroyed to make space for spending more money. But the two don’t have a simple one-to-one relationship. Spending is not constrained by how much revenue is taken in; it’s determined by productivity. That’s so it doesn’t push inflation. The government can spend more money than it takes in without inflating the economy if productivity is growing. This is a good reason to invest in the workers, and small business, and scientists and engineers. And people on the dole and pensions too, because that money goes straight into the local economies, boosting local trade, quickly returning through taxes.

  36. Matters Not

    KL, not sure how helpful that answer is. If (all) revenue from (let’s say the Chinese buying more iron ore at a higher price) is just destroyed – perhaps with no records kept. Then accounting is a complete irrelevance also?

    Methinks that’s one hell of a difficult sell – politically speaking.

    ME, it seems that higher taxes are an end in themselves?

  37. Diannaart

    Damn straight, Miriam

    These self proclaimed economic managers are so clueless. Where do they think money goes when invested into the community?

    Money circulates. A government “surplus” is stagnant currency.

    They never think through anything.

    I want Labor to win so comprehensively, there is room to move and repair the years of LNP inertia.

  38. Matters Not

    Diannaart, having (political) room to move is no guarantee that movement will happen. Rudd is a recent example of that.

    The aim (ambition) soon becomes – we want to be here forever. And it’s that thinking that soon dominates. Already Labor’s ‘economic team’ has adopted that mindset – save political capital don’t spend it.

  39. Diannaart

    Matters Not

    I am painfully aware of the economic entropy that grips both sides of politics, nonetheless I hope.

  40. Paul Davis

    The two principal rules of politics as i understand it are firstly do whatever it takes to get into power and secondly do whatever it takes to stay in power. These rules apply to both individuals and groups (parties, gangs, collectives, et al). As an individual your loyalty is only to yourself and as a gang member your loyalty is of course only to yourself, as every other member of the gang is viewed as an impediment an obstacle or a stepping stone.

    There are of course corollaries and addenda to these two rules and they relate to how the politician conducts themself within the party, ie networks allegiances and so forth and externally relating to one’s public persona ie image electability etc.

    At the moment, given the stench emanating from both Greens and Liberal National parties due to bad personal behaviour, highly visible infighting, risible policies with no pretense of public good and so forth, only the Central Right Party led by Shorten has any hope of being elected. The CRP has some very clever gameplayers who the electorate actually believe have more than a passing interest in truth justice and the aussie way but also, like the others, a high number of spivs and spongers due to the corrupt preselection process. This is the party that vomited up Obeid, Feeny, Brereton and a host of other flotsam…..

    Maybe the CRP ladies could be the incoming government’s saving grace. The men are a poor lot…

  41. helvityni

    ..yes Paul Davis, the CRP ‘girls’ to rescue; Michaelia, Gladys, Kelly…( sorry, I have forgotten the name of the Minister for Environment….)

  42. helvityni

    Finally women are noticed; just checked the Guardian’s Most Read list of ten… Six of them about women: Theresa, Meghan, Victoria, Nigella, woman drowning her baby in bath….and May again.. Getting there…

  43. paul walter

    The Guardian has been heading down the gurgler for a bit. The various governments don’t like them reporting hard news and middle class stuff sells better anyway.

  44. Miriam English

    Oh, I would love to see that prat Leyonhjelm get what should rightly be coming to him. He embodies much of what is the worst in politics. He really needs to be taken down in a big, humiliating way and made to eat his words. Even better if he could be booted out of politics, but that’s not gonna happen.

  45. Diannaart

    Miriam

    I miss Tom Ballard’s “ Tonightly”, here he presents Leyonhjelm in his inimitable style.

    https://youtu.be/XWxZPtZvaO8

  46. Miriam English

    I hadn’t heard of him. 🙂 He had me smiling all the way through that clip. Thanks for the link Diannaart.

    I’d love to see Leyonhjelm come a cropper on this.

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