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Gifts bestowed by the ruling elite

From the second the Coalition formed government, they have been using their position to shower largesse on themselves, their friends and donors.

The tone was set when George Brandis gifted a patently unqualified Tim Wilson a job at the Australian Human Rights Commission, a position Wilson gleefully accepted despite having called for the body to be abolished. The job wasn’t advertised because there was no vacancy. The disability sector lost an outstanding advocate in Graeme Innes to make way for freedom boy so he could increase his profile while he waited for Andrew Robb to retire from the plum Liberal seat of Goldstein.

Likewise when it came to appointing board members to the ABC. The nomination panel’s short list was ignored as the Coalition installed those sympathetic to their world view rather than those who had any relevant qualifications or experience.

Neil Brown, a minister in the Fraser government and a deputy Liberal leader under John Howard and a former member of the independent panel tasked with deciding who should run the ABC and SBS, lashed the Coalition for “abusing” the system and stacking the public broadcasters with unqualified board members.

Very large contracts and grants have been awarded without tender, oversight or evaluation. Conflicts of interest abound as in the case of the travel contract for Helloworld, a company in which Joe Hockey owns a significant shareholding. Whilst he may not have actually been the one to award the tender, he set up the meeting which facilitated it.

This special access has been a feature of this government who openly sells access to Ministers through its various fundraising bodies.

The rorting of politicians’ expenses, previously known as entitlements (I am reminded of when the Catholics changed from Holy Ghost to Holy Spirit – it sounds better), has been legendary. Whether it’s helicopter rides to party functions just down the road, or ‘official business’ which just so happens to coincide with your football team being in town, or a pressing visit to a region where you happen to own an investment property (or are in the hunt for one), or a family reunion where you and your family fly to the other side of the country, everything is on the public purse.

When dignitaries come to Australia, we host lavish dinners for them. When our dignitaries go overseas, it’s still our shout. Who could forget Joe Hockey’s $50,000 dinner at the G20 conference in Washington the month before he handed down his “end of the age of entitlement” budget. That same month, George Brandis went to dinner with three friends in London and charged us $1100, most of which was their grog bill.

When Christopher Pyne took his wife on a $30,000 European tour, it included taxpayers being billed $1352 for Mr Pyne to “day let” a room at a swish London hotel before he and his wife, Carolyn, flew back to Australia later that day, and more than $2000 for VIP services at Heathrow Airport.

Special mention should be given to Barnaby Joyce for getting away with his brazen gifting of high-paying non-existent jobs to his pregnant mistress. No wonder Roman Quaedvlieg is pissed off.

Here, have a Special Envoy job. Thanks say Jim Molan, Tony Abbott and Bananababy. Go do something with submarines. Thanks says Sophie Mirabella. Want a plum diplomatic posting? Thanks say George and Joe. Want a job on the AAT? We’ve got millions of them to hand out. Your au pair hasn’t got a valid work visa? Let me fix that for you.

In the dying days of this government, there is a furious rush going on to gift jobs as a reward to the party faithful and contracts to the party donors.

Until we remove the ability for politicians to make, or influence, the decisions about contracts and appointments, until we have genuine oversight of expense claims, unscrupulous people will continue to use public money to bestow gifts without any accountability.

And they wonder why we want a Federal ICAC.

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  1. Sir Scotchmistery

    One can only hope that the ALP in an effort to finally differentiate themselves from the liarberals, actually form the federal ICAC that we need which then suits down and investigated the ones which when questioned have resulted in “nothing to see here, move along”.

    The days of entitlement are definitely over, so Hickey was definitely right there. But a royal Commission powered sitting body will stop this bullshit continuing.

  2. Diane

    I’d like to see Labor come out before the election with a ‘Politicians’ Code of Conduct’ which will be made public and which all Government Ministers will be expected to sign and abide by, with published consequences for non-compliance. This would enable them to list all the stuff that the LNP have got up to, reminding everyone just how tax-payers’ money has been misused, and would hopefully spike the guns of those people who say “they’re all the same, whichever party they come from”.

    Of course, they’d probably have to do a bit of ‘getting their own house in order’ first, and again, there may well be Labor politicians also that have gone into the game purely to be able to claim free holidays, large allowances, minimal working hours, ability to award large contracts to friends and family, free lunches, dinners, Rolex watches etc (I mean, I would but then I’m precisely the type we DON’T want in politics!) …. but wouldn’t it be nice if there was something in place that weeded out those types and discouraged them from entering politics in the future?

  3. Yvonne Robertson

    The circle isn’t broken either, for these ‘beneficiaries’ then find a way to funnel it back into the Liberal party as a massive donation – $500,000 was it not? Thus they are ensuring the Liberal Party has it’s siphoning nose constantly in the public purse in perpetual motion. Why support the party with your own money when the company which benefits from government contracts awarded by the Liberal Party in government, can do the job for you! All your friends can also make a quid buying up a million dollars worth of shares as they introduce you and grease the wheels for the organisation to be awarded embassy contracts further afield.

  4. pierre wilkinson

    eventually there must be an accounting – hopefully a powerful ICAC will deliver that
    in the mean time, can we have an election soon, please?

  5. Diannaart

    Kaye Lee

    Mathius Cormann should be ashamed of himself, clearly letting the side down with his cheap Singapore holiday.

    Self entitlement and undeserved privilege are to be gouged from the electorate – remember Tony Abbott who would do “whatever it takes” to become PM.

  6. Kaye Lee


    One of the best examples of that is Parakeelia. This business is owned by the Liberal Party. All Coalition MPs pay them thousands a year for something or other and provide them with information about voters to collate. Parakeelia then pay the Liberal Party millions of dollars which are declared but not as a donation – one presumes it is for services rendered?


    A Liberal Party-owned company that bills taxpayers for computer services, Parakeelia, has made its biggest-ever cash transfer to the political organisation, sending it more than $900,000 last financial year.

    Parakeelia, which is wholly owned by the Liberals, paid the party more than $715,000 in 2015-16, according to electoral commission disclosures.


    This is money-laundering, pure and simple

  7. helvityni

    …many commentators and commenters alike worry about ‘what WILL Labor do’ if elected, would it not be more realistic to worry about what the Libs ARE DOING right now….or even what they have done since Abbott …

    I don’t get it. Everybody MUST by now know what WILL happen if you vote the Libs back in….

  8. Frank Smith

    A Federal ICAC is essential and should have been instituted years ago. The stench of corruption, jobs for the boys, misuse of “entitlements”, cronyism, lies and obfuscation is overpowering. Along with a Federal ICAC there is also a need to appoint a totally independant Speaker to control Parliamentary debate – someone from outside politics like a retired judge. The Bronnie Bishop fiasco totally discredited the role of Speaker. Another alarming practice this nonGovernment has really ramped up is “friendly” appointments to Government institutions and the senior ranks of the Public Service. This was spectacularly highlighted after Parliament rose yesterday by Porter’s announcement of a raft of Coalition sympathisers to the Administrative Affairs Tribunal. Why is this Tribunal so large? It looks totally unwieldy and very expensive – 35 appointments yesterday and 86 since from the Coalition since 2013 I read. Could the work of the Tribunal be more apropriately covered by 5 or 6 astute people appointed by the independant Speaker I am advocating for?

    Both our Finance Minister Conmann and former Treasurer Smoking Joe Hockey up to their eyeballs in the Helloworld scandal – I hear that Helloworld hands out Christmas cigars to those who “owe the CEO”. Only right and proper when a Liberal Party mate and donor needs to secure a bit of Government business and a “Horror Budget” needs to be celebrated.

  9. Kaye Lee

    That’s the thing helvi.

    I am not blinkered to mistakes the Labor Party have made in the past. Nor am I uncritical of some of their policy stances. And I get disappointed by things they say sometimes.

    But they must be given a chance to show us what they can do. They learned some hard lessons in 2013 and they have seen what the country has had to endure because of the mistakes they made then.

    They won’t be perfect but I am 100% confident that they will be far better than this bunch of self-serving scare-mongering ignorant hypocrites. Every single conservative with a shred of decency has, or is, leaving for good reason. The stage has been ceded to the political entrepreneurs.

  10. helvityni

    …I’m not blinkered either, Kaye, and I can clearly see the shortcomings of both Labor and the Greens, but why would anyone, anyone, want to keep this motley lot….

  11. Peter F

    I am blinkered. I can’t see past all the good things achieved by Gillard in spite of Abbott-Credlin. We will need a Labor government and a. new member for Warringah.

  12. Kaye Lee

    Peter F,

    I too have great regard for Gillard and was one of her greatest defenders. Knowing Abbott from uni days, and the spectre of him actually representing any sort of challenge to Gillard, was what prompted me to start writing about politics. It was unfathomable to me.

    And then the Labor Party let me down by, instead of defending an outstanding policy achievement record, dumping Gillard because of bad polling based on the lie that Gillard had not warned the electorate that she would introduce carbon pricing – she had – and that what she did introduce was a tax – it wasn’t – and that she had deliberately misled the public – she hadn’t. She was forced to the compromise by the crossbench in order to form government.

    The combination of undermining, personal ambition, and cowardice in the face of bullies was unedifying to say the least. It still pains me. They should have backed her up and they should have defended her from the shocking misogyny she was forced to endure.

  13. Michael Faulkner

    The Liberal Party is essentially a narrow band employment agency …… working to provide strategic and significant jobs for their ideological colleagues and mates.

    At the political level, all these appointments are designed to make it much harder for a future Labor Government to actually govern at all.

    Establishing an ICAC should be one of the first actions of a Labor Government

  14. Ella miller

    Kaye, a very thoughtful piece and so well written. It only adds to my despair .
    You should try to read Hansard in the Senate Estimates on the Murray Darling Basin water plan. OMG…I don’t consider myself stupid but if anyone can make head or tail of what is going on there, I congratulate them. I also have started to question the role of the Public Servants in not having the courage to tell it how it is and their independence from the Government.

  15. Kaye Lee

    We don’t have time for despair Ella. Our democracy is being threatened. We have to fight to protect it and our politicians have proven themselves not up to the task. The Greens lead the charge in being our conscience but we can drag Labor there if we, the community, demand it. (Sadly they lack the courage to take them on in some areas without our backup it seems). But a re-elected Morrison government would be an absolute disaster. It would send a signal that this sort of behaviour is ok. It would enable even worse excesses, even more secrecy and unaccountability, even more control, even more lies, nepotism and croneyism. It is not acceptable. If the Australian public fail to stand up and tell them so in May, then I too will despair because integrity and honour in politics will be truly dead

  16. Shaun Newman

    Yes there is little doubt that we do need a federal Crime and Corruption Commission as exists in Queensland.

  17. David Bruce

    Is the Australian Government a for profit business, run by which ever party wins the franchise at the election box?

    Something is dreadfully wrong with the direction our politicians and senior public servants are taking us!

    There seems to be little public trust in our politicians and senior public servants so I am not convinced an ICAC for politicians and senior public servants will be any better than APRA for the banksters!

  18. Michael Taylor

    Kaye, it’s easy to feel despair, especially with the MSM ignoring all this shit yet finding the slightest non-issue to attack Bill Shorten on.

    But you give us hope. You’re a fighter and you’re picking us all up from the canvas.

  19. Ill fares the land

    I wouldn’t be too hopeful. Even allowing for the possibility, a slim possibility, but a possibility nonetheless; the LNP are plotting the ultimate vote-turner. A boat of refugees arriving in Australian waters. That will be enough to give them the opportunity to shout about how that is the direct result of Labor and to reiterate that when it comes to the safety of Australians, Shorten is not to be trusted. You mmay not have read it here first, but I fear that you will, sometime between now and the election, read it in the MSM – Mr Shouty McBuffoonface; Pontificators Jones, Hadley and Bolt – they will be screaming from the rooftops.

    Even if I am wrong about a boat arrival (a low act, but aren’t we dealing with a government whose perverted lack of morals and intellect allow them to rationalise any act if it means retaning their authoritarian power?), Labor often keep quiet about this because they are doing this sort of crap as well – it is a silence amongst thieves; “we won’t dob on them as long as they don’t dob on us”.

    On the matter of mates in positions of control and influence; this is the classic behaviour of conservatives. These are morons who insist that they stand for the freedom of the individual, but whose actions, largely drawn from fear, actually inhibit personal freedoms.

  20. DrakeN

    I repeat my honest opinion in relation to the “news” media and Broadcast media:

    Only the creation of a licence to purvey news and information with similar conditions to those imposed on the ABC by its charter will prevent the continued misuse of media power by those who can afford to do so.

    There appears to be no alternative considering that promulgating information widely is so dependent on the financial means to do so.

  21. OldWomBat

    While gifting jobs to the faithful may be a part of the motivation behind the lnp actions, I fear the real motivation is to tie the hands of a future labour government to effectively constrain them in what they would able to achieve.

  22. Patricia

    Ill fares the landFebruary 22, 2019 at 3:52 pm

    I know we are talking about the LNP government here and logic is not one of their strong points, or even one of their points at all, but logic would tell you that if a boat with refugees managed to get through to Australia between now and the May election it would be the fault of the government. They, after all, are the ones who are in charge, they run border force and the Navy.

    Trying to say that because a refugee boat gets to Australia it is due to a bill to provide medical attention to those incarcerated on Manus and Nauru and that was presented by an Independent parliamentarian, supported by the other Independent parliamentarians, the Greens and the ALP, is 100% the fault of Bill Shorten is not only absurd, it defies understanding and logic.

    Bill Shorten and the ALP are in fact in opposition and have no ability to direct anyone to either let a boat through or stop it.

    It suggests that anyone who can draw this long bow and make it work really needs to book an urgent appointment with their local mental health clinic.

  23. Matters Not

    Patricia February 22, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    What you say is all so rational, logical and sensible. Congratulations. How could Labor be blamed for a failure of this metaphorical ring of steel that (supposedly) protects us against those potentially invading non-whites from the North.? Perhaps it’s because when fear is in play, all those rational, logical and sensible mental constructs lose their motive force?

    Australians are so easily scared – particularly when it comes to those who have a different skin-colour. Nothing to do with racism – so they tell us. Why – everyone eats Chinese these days. Don’t they.

  24. Andreas Bimba

    That turd Andrew Robb – former Australian trade minister who was in charge of drafting and negotiating the China Australia free trade agreement which allowed vehicle imports into Australia from China duty free also promised that the Australian car industry would be shown the door.

    Andrew Robb walked straight out of Parliament into an $880,000-a-year job with a billionaire closely aligned to the Chinese Communist Party and its key trade policy.

    Well done Andrew, you f*cking bastard and traitor.


  25. Kaye Lee

    Andrew Robb is another about whom one could write volumes. Like this little episode…

    A Sydney restaurant owned by Tourism Minister Andrew Robb and his family is being promoted by a government-funded $40 million, 18-month Tourism Australia campaign that targets 17 key global markets to sell the Australian “foodie” experience to the world.

    The Robb family restaurant, Boathouse Palm Beach, is showcased on Tourism Australia’s “Restaurant Australia” website, which was launched in May, as the “ultimate day trip destination” just an hour from Sydney and the “perfect place for a relaxed family outing”.


  26. Frank Smith

    Wot a bloody pity – the SMH, the Age and all of Fairfax now ends being “Nine News” and just another Murdoch clone. With the ABC muzzled by these bastards, Australians are getting a very distorted view of the facts and the perils facing our country. I despair as I wait for the inevitable “Dutton-manufactured” boat arrival and the cacophony that will accompany it.

  27. Kaye Lee


    Labor should be pointing out that in the past four years since the government “stopped the boats”, 64,362 protection visa applications have been made by unvetted individuals who have arrived by plane. So much for the oft repeated claim about 50,000 asylum seekers arriving under Labor.

    The Home Affairs Department website shows 27,931 protection visa applications were made in the latest financial year by plane arrivals. The previous record number of asylum seekers was 26,845 in the 2012-13 financial year when 18,365 protection visa applications were made for boat arrivals and 8480 for those who came by plane.


  28. Matters Not

    The notion that MPs exercise power then simply depart – forever unaccountable for bad, corrupt or self serving decisions will also fall within the purview of Labor’s National Integrity Commission. Presumably the government in waiting produced a discussion paper outlining detailed proposals.

    Would anyone have that link? Something beyond a headline – perchance?

  29. Kaye Lee

    The National Integrity Commission will be based upon the following seven design principles:

    The Commission will operate as independent statutory body, with sufficient resources to ensure it is able to carry out its functions regardless of the government of the day.
    The Commission would be constituted by one Commissioner and two Deputy Commissioners, each of whom would serve for a single, fixed, five-year term.
    The Commission will have sufficiently broad jurisdiction and freedom of action to operate as a standing Royal Commission into serious and systemic corruption by Commonwealth parliamentarians or their staff, public servants, statutory office holders, the Commonwealth judiciary and the Governor-General.
    The Commission will be granted the investigative powers of a Royal Commission, including search and surveillance powers, the power to compel witnesses and subpoena documents and carry out its own investigations, with warrant oversight by the Federal Court.
    While the presumption will be that hearings will be held in private, the Commission will have discretion to hold hearings in public where it determines it is in the public interest to do so. Labor will continue to consult on the appropriate threshold for such hearings.
    The Commission will only be empowered to make findings of fact. Any findings that could constitute criminal conduct would be referred to the AFP or Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions.
    A Bipartisan Joint Standing Committee of the Parliament will be established to oversee the Commission and will be empowered to require the Commission to provide information about its work. That Committee will be responsible for appointing the Commissioners. The Commission will also report to Parliament on its performance annually.

    In government, Labor will continue to consult with experts on the design details of the Commission.


    It doesn’t answer your questions but it is a start

  30. Matters Not

    Thanks KL. Good to see a repeat public airing. When too much is never enough? The LNP proposal was hilarious – as expected.

    Now for the detail. Including a timeline.

  31. Kaye Lee

    Legislation to establish the National Integrity Commission will be introduced into parliament within the first 12 months of a Shorten Labor Government.

  32. Max Gross

    Dying daze? Perhaps what we are witnessing is the failure – and collapse – of democracy

  33. Miriam English

    Max, it may be a collapse of Democracy if Labor doesn’t win, or if they win, but continue the corrupt ways of the LNP.

    As I’ve always said, if Labor have any sense they will introduce laws to limit or nationalise the Murdoch king-making business in Australia. If they don’t cut off the Australian arm of the right-wing Murdoch octopus in Australia then it is unlikely we’ll ever see Labor in power ever again (unless they move further to the right and let themselves be more controlled by money and corruption). There’s no sense trying to make Murdoch’s media monster part of the ABC, because I believe it runs at a massive loss. That has always made me wonder who is funding this enormous right-wing propaganda machine.

  34. Peter F

    Kaye, thank you for the link to Labor’s proposed legislation. One more reason that we can expect a draconian campaign from the right.

    Re Gillard: The proof of what we lost is there in her achievements since leaving office.

  35. Kaye Lee

    Great article Michael. ProMo can be relied on to overegg the rhetoric and SOME journalists are getting tired of it. Laura Jayes and Kieran Gilbert on Sky are even starting to ask actual tough questions on occasion.

    Christian Porter is a real worry. When your Attorney-General starts screaming and mocking people, when he deliberately withholds legal advice, when he deliberately misquotes advice from intelligence agencies, he is not fit for the job.

    One thing that is really sticking in my craw at the moment is that these people are bestowed the title “The Honourable”. That word means honest and fair, or deserving praise and respect. What a joke. The Honourable Barnaby Joyce??? Puhlease!

  36. margcal

    OldWomBat February 22, 2019 at 4:42 pm

    While gifting jobs to the faithful may be a part of the motivation behind the lnp actions, I fear the real motivation is to tie the hands of a future labour government to effectively constrain them in what they would able to achieve.

    As a small, and probably not very expensive(!!) example, look no further than Victoria where the Liberals, very close to an election they and everyone knew they would lose, signed contracts to build a tunnel that no one either wanted at all or in the proposed location through the last remnants of city-edge parkland. It included a side contract worth megabucks to the company if the contract was cancelled.

    To his credit (whatever else I might think of him), Dan Andrews went ahead and cancelled it. We had to bear that Liberal cost but to me it was worth it to stand up to those bastards.

  37. Josephus

    Diane if Labor promised to set up a federal ICAC, which the Greens have long asked for, they might gain some credibility and reduce the populist fury here as all over the world.
    Kaye you are an inspiration. May you live to be 100. I am jealous in that I wonder how one person can be so well informed. Can you please stand for Parliament?
    Frank: cigars are a good idea. These greedy parasites may live shorter lives as they puff away.
    The Greens have shortcomings for sure, but Helvityni, which other lot might be better? The independents, other than Katter, could be a rival in the probity and decency stakes.

  38. Kaye Lee

    Andrew Leigh has written a good article about cracking down on corporate tax evasion with some surprising revelations.

    “Guess which country’s companies were the biggest buyers of Australian farmland in 2017-18? It was the Bahamas, whose firms bought two million hectares in a single year.”


    Josephus, thanks for your support. I would find life in politics extremely frustrating. I don’t like wasting time, I like to work constructively towards solutions, I deplore mocking and derogatory statements about colleagues, and I hate having my photo taken. I also don’t take well to being told how I must think. I don’t think I am cut out for the circus that Canberra has become.

  39. Andreas Bimba

    The forced expulsion of the Australian car manufacturing industry timeline:

    US Australia FTA – 1 Jan 2005

    Thailand Australia FTA – 1 Jan 2005

    Mitsubishi ceases local manufacturing – 5 Feb 2008

    Ford announces closure – 23 May 2013

    Joe Hockey dares Holden to leave Australia in federal parliament after refusing Holden’s request for an additional $80 million p.a. (total $160million p.a.) for ten years – 9 Dec 2013

    Holden announces closure – 11 Dec 2013

    Toyota announces closure – 10 Feb 2014

    South Korea Australia FTA – 12 Dec 2014

    Japan Australia FTA – 15 Jan 2015

    China Australia FTA – 20 Dec 2015

    Ford ceases local manufacturing – 7 Oct 2016

    Toyota ceases local manufacturing – 3 Oct 2017

    Holden ceases local manufacturing – 20 Oct 2017

    Over this time period the car import tariff for non FTA countries was also cut from 15% to a meaningless 5%.

    Joe Hockey ridding Australia of ‘leaners’:

    The Thailand Australia FTA put in place by John Howard was the most destructive to the Australian car industry with Ford, GM, Toyota and Mitsubishi all having large and modern manufacturing operations located there which then enabled more profitable importing rather than Australian manufacturing. The subsequent FTA’s represented more nails in the coffin which made any rescue plans extremely difficult. At the time that Holden were requesting a larger subsidy to justify the replacement of the Commodore and Cruze and to modernise their manufacturing plants during late 2013, the Australian dollar was at a record high levels because of the mining boom and Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey were boasting of their goals of eliminating any ‘leaners’ from the economy and how we needed more ‘lifters’ – which presumably meant the mining and bulk rural export sectors.


    Some relevant quotes from this article:

    Dodgy FTA’s helped kill the car industry

    “General Motors in Australia complained that the so-called US “free trade” agreement prevented unfettered access of Australian cars to the United States. Conned again.”

    “In 2013-14, the Japanese believed that the looming Korean — and indeed Japanese — “free trade” deals would see the Australian motor industry unfairly disadvantaged once again.”

    “Australia could overcome the effect of these “free trade” deals with massive subsidies. The Japanese could never work it out and assumed that Australians were either stupid or did not want a motor industry.”


    It was still possible to retain the Australian car manufacturing industry up until actual plant closure and the subsequent scrapping or auction of most manufacturing equipment if a decisive policy change by the federal government was made a little earlier. A 15% tariff on car imports plus a realistic plan to locally manufacture one half of the local 1 million p.a. passenger vehicle demand would probably have swayed Toyota (who were still profitable) and at least one other international manufacturer to invest here. The needed transition to New Energy Vehicles should have been part of such a plan plus the necessary regulations to ensure the transition in the market actually occurred along with the needed rapid transition to a fully renewable electricity generation sector.

    The appalling coal loving LNP that is run by the mining/finance/bulk agriculture oligarchy would have nothing to do with such a plan, after all the IPA wanted the industry kicked out, and unfortunately the ALP also lacked the courage, foresight or will to make such a bold policy switch away from the prevailing short sited neoliberal mainstream opinion.

    I’m sure our fossil fuel and mineral exports, real estate speculation, retailing and our lawn mowing and dog washing based service sector will keep us all in well paid stable jobs well into the future. Welcome to the banana republic or should that be Venezuela.

  40. Matters Not

    Andreas re your comment that might be a starter for further speculation:

    unfortunately the ALP also lacked the courage, foresight or will to make such a bold policy switch

    Yes that was then – but what will we get from an incoming Labor government. Guy Rundle is particularly savage on the government we have.

    There is now something more than anger attached to this government. There’s a sort of disgust around. Disgust with them, at the sheer volume of waste, shonk and grift, disgust with ourselves for having let it go for so long, for being the mugs who let it happen. It is once again of the paradox of Australian self-conception. We’ve imagined ourselves to be relatively uncorrupt and competently governed for so long, that a keener sense that government had entirely collapsed into cronyism, clientelism and dirty tricks was lacking.

    And he goes on:

    Am I alone in feeling sick to my stomach, literally nauseous, at reading the national news these days, wondering what the next story of corrupt, corrosive, destructive rorts is going to be? Is disgust now a live political factor? I think it might be.

    No doubt he’s not alone. But what of the future? Buckets of faint praise:

    Does Labor have the energy, wit or will to make this an issue, and to genuinely reform Australian governance? I hope so, but I don’t get the vibe. Some of the people Shorten has been close to behind the scenes do not inspire confidence that Labor will avoid the worst. And Chris Bowen is an academic manqué. Plibersek is nothing much at all. Only Penny Wong seems to actually take the fight to the government, seems to actually want it, want power. I don’t doubt they’ll govern better, if they can actually find the energy to win.

    Somewhat pedestrian is his prediction for the incoming government. Definitely better than what we have but pedestrian nevertheless.


  41. Kaye Lee

    Wow. He really let fly MN.

    The Coalition is “simply a random, rhizomatic p–s cloud of sleaze, grift, incompetence, reactionary obsessiveness, glued together by nothing other than hatred not merely of the left, but of good government itself, and an eye for the skim off the top.”

    Uh huh….

  42. Matters Not

    Yes KL, he didn’t miss. There’s so much that resonates including this: This is part of the intent of right-wing parties of course, to increase cynicism and distrust of government altogether, and enrich themselves at the same time.

    It use to be the case that right wing parties would say (more or less) Elect us because we won’t govern. We really think that government is the enemy of the people.

    Now it’s more the case – Elect us and we will PROVE that government is the enemy of the people.

    And they do. Convincingly.

    Time to be on the streets again. Haven’t been arrested for ages.

  43. Kaye Lee


    Enough is enough

  44. Andreas Bimba

    Penny Wong may have the fight but she is a 100% free trader for the Asian Century.

    The reality is however that all the Asian tigers as well as the EU have used or still use trade protection especially for the incubation and development phase for new industries that their national governments deem important. Even today Japan, South Korea, Thailand, China and most EU countries restrict foreign market penetration of their automotive sectors to less than 10% even with FTA‘s. I admire their approach especially as practiced by Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and Australia would have been far better off by following a similar approach rather than letting the mining/finance/bulk agriculture oligarchy define national economic policy.

    The purpose of exports is to pay for needed imports and to maintain a stable currency exchange rate. We have a competitive advantage in mineral, energy and bulk agricultural exports as well as higher education for foreign nationals and tourism which also bring in foreign exchange. This should easily suffice to pay for our electronic consumer goods, clothing and footwear, oil and similar imports. It was a neoliberal lie that we needed to expose all of our manufacturing sector to tariff free imports. In fact moderate trade protection and trade assistance can create the capacity for substantial exports to some markets and an example was our car exports prior to the GFC which was once one of our largest.

    We have the economic capacity to retain moderate levels of trade protection for key areas like car manufacturing, white goods, trucks and trains, heavy industries like steel, cement and chemicals without much of a cost penalty for consumers or downstream industries. We would have had a net benefit from increased employment, increased economic diversity and complex supply chains.

    Economic diversity greatly assists with the development of new spin-off industries such as renewable energy or advanced manufacturing. Starting in a vacuum is technically much more difficult and economically hard to justify.

    What we need is a bit more investment and planning and less corruption, price gouging, fraud, waste and speculation.

    The Asian tigers as well as the US and Europe are playing us for the fools we really have become.

  45. John Higgins

    Hi Kaye .. I find it extremely frustrating and exacerbating that writers such as Laura Tingle and Katherine Murphy (and many others) constantly equate the faults and corruption and dishonesty of the Coalition with Labor. Labor have been rock solid and scandal free for the past 6 years of the Coaltion’s inept and corrupt management of this country … so many scandals supporting their uptown mates (hello Andrew Burnes). These writers keep trying to make it a case of “they’re all like this.” Bill Shorten’s perceived unpopularity is a media construct (mainly by Murdoch but not solely, Fairfax has a debt there too). I note that many, including the Guardian are now reporting his quotes in full, not just as sound bites. They’re only doing so as “the writing is on the wall” … the latest rats jumping ship … Bishop, Pyne, and Ciobo tell of an incoming implosion. Honest reporting needs as much of a resurgence as honesty in politics. A federal ICAC is an imperative, and as they did in Iceland, imprison the guilty

  46. Kaye Lee


    If journalists don’t treat the politicians nicely they refuse to be interviewed by them (think Dutton “you’re dead to me” and Abbot’s edict banning appearances on Q&A).

    It is a difficult balancing act for them. They must present both sides but it would be great if both sides had facts to present rather than spin.

    We have a lot more latitude here to say what we really think because we aren’t reliant on politicians feeding us stuff.

    I agree there has been a concerted media Kill Bill strategy but it is hard to forget his role in Labor’s self-harm when they were in government. Who wears the crown is unimportant to me – policies are what matters and the team to deliver them.

    I would be heartily pleased if we stopped the advertising strategy of continually saying a “Shorten government”. He’s the spokesmodel, the frontman, the singer in a band where the others compose the tune, write the lyrics, and make the harmony (or discord) happen.

    Stop trying to sell the man. Focus on the stuff. Say a Labor government, not a Shorten government.

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