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Hands off our common wealth

John F Kennedy once said:

“Voters chose us because they have confidence in our discernment, when we are in a position that allows us to determine what best serves their interests as a part of national interests. This means that we – according to the situation – we have to lead, instruct and correct the opinions of voters and sometimes not even consider them, exercising the discernment we were elected for”.

For me to be comfortable with that, which I would love to be, I would need to have confidence that our elected representatives were people of integrity. I would need to feel that they had sufficient intelligence to grasp the issues, that they would listen to expert opinion, that they were honest when speaking to their constituents, and that they had enough courage to protect us from those who would seek to exploit us.

When a politician is elected they are given temporary custodianship of our common wealth. It is a huge responsibility. They will be making decisions about how best to invest the money we entrust to them and how best to grow the country’s assets and raise living standards for all.

Instead of attracting people of integrity, politics in this country, and many others, has become the haven of career politicians whose goal is to secure a comfortable lifestyle for themselves now and into the future.

We elect people to lead, but many have just become followers. They follow a party line, a lobbyist or an ideology. In so doing they are abrogating their responsibility and failing in the job they were elected to do. Every utterance, every decision, is made with the view to being re-elected. Far from being leaders, our politicians follow polls and focus groups searching for what will make them popular.

What other job can you get with a starting salary package of hundreds of thousands of dollars with no qualifications, no experience, no essential criteria, no application other than saying you are eligible (and you don’t even have to prove that), no interview other than by the media, and no ongoing performance assessment other than an election in three years’ time whose outcome has been decided by Rupert Murdoch?

The required paperwork to apply for welfare, to open a bank account, or to get a driver’s licence is much tougher than to run for Parliament.

It has been said that if you pay peanuts you get monkeys. Our method of paying huge wages and entitlements has attracted gorillas – those who have, from a young age, worked out how to milk the most they can from their mediocrity.

Look at Tim Wilson – appointed by George Brandis after an enjoyable evening spent together at an IPA bash where Tony Abbott lauded Rupert Murdoch as one of the finest Australians in history. Lo and behold, as soon as George gets the power he kicks out our Commissioner for the Disabled and employs Tim at a salary package approaching $400,000 – no application, no interview.

Previously Tim had been for seven years policy director of the Institute of Public Affairs during which time he vociferously called for the abolition of the Human Rights Council.

One can only imagine the phone call.

“The HRC…that hotbed of leftie tree huggers? No way! They should all be sacked to save we taxpayers….huh…what’s that you say? Are you sure you can get me a gig? How much does it pay? Ok…I am sure I can whip them into line. You do your bit by undermining Gillian Triggs in every way you can and I am sure I will be able to take over when you force her to resign. I was a real force in the Young Liberals….I can make this thing work. Ummm…I don’t want to appear pushy but what entitlements do I get and I’ll need school holidays off”.

On appointment to the HRC, Wilson resigned from membership of the Liberal Party. Look, no more conflict of interest … now what are we working on again, George?

He has been arguing for Section 18C of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act to be revoked, calling the prosecution of broadcaster Andrew Bolt (who, I might add, was the MC for the IPA bash) for vilification of indigenous Australians an infringement on Bolt’s right to freedom of speech. After finding himself with nothing to do after the government responded to the public outcry to dump the changes, Tim briefly resurrected himself after the shootings in Paris. He seems to have faded away again no doubt enjoying his backdated pay rise over the holiday period.

When the Prime Minister sets the example by keeping his colleagues waiting for an hour while he gets his photo taken so he can claim entitlements for attending a private function, and has the gall to admit to it like there is no problem with that, one can see the total disdain he has for propriety and that Tony is very much in it for the money. Let’s face it, his career before entering politics was hardly stellar and it is rather hard to imagine what he could be successful at other than being Howard’s attack dog.

The blatant cronyism, the rewarding of donors, the hiring of climate sceptics to advise about everything, the dogged determination to unwind all reforms introduced by the previous government, the exploiting of entitlements, the silencing of advocacy groups whilst allowing paid access to ministers by lobby groups and rich individuals, the backing away from tax reform measures (FBT on novated leases, taxing super payouts over $100,000pa, tightening corporate tax evasion profit sharing loopholes, mining tax, carbon pricing), selling off our assets, unfettered mining with no regard for the environment – all of these things are proof of how the Abbott government considers our common wealth theirs to do with as they will.


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  1. diannaart

    “The required paperwork to apply for welfare, to open a bank account, or to get a driver’s licence is much tougher than to run for Parliament.”

    Nailed it, Kaye Lee

  2. keertidalleykeerti

    Having a long wet tongue helps, though! And not for licking stamps!

  3. Brian

    As far as cronyism goes, how about giving Sophie Mirabella a $300 000+ gig with the Submarine Corporation soon after telling everyone, his government wouldn’t be giving jobs to their friends? She got kicked out of parliament and recieved a pay rise!

  4. Bighead1883

    Well now that Labor has said there will be no more privatisation of commonwealth we can look at some of the achievements of the Rudd/Gillard years
    Page 1

    • NBN (the real one) – total cost $37.4b (Government contribution: $30.4b);
    • BER 7,920 schools: 10,475 projects. (completed at less than 3% dissatisfaction rate);
    • Gonski education funding reform;
    • NDIS – DisabilityCare;
    • MRRT & aligned PRRT;
    • Won seat at the UN;
    • Signed Kyoto;
    • Signatory to Bali Process & Regional Framework;
    • Eradicated WorkChoices;
    • Established Fair Work Australia;
    • Established Carbon Pricing/ETS (7% reduction in emissions since July last year);
    • Established National Network of Reserves and Parks;
    • Created world’s largest Marine Park Network;
    • Introduced Reef Rescue Program;
    • National Apology;
    • Sorry to the Stolen Generation;
    • Increased Superannuation from 9 to 12%;
    • Changed 85 laws to remove discrimination against same sex couples;
    • Introduced National Plan to reduce violence against women and children;
    • Improvements to Sex Discrimination Act;
    • Introduced plain packaging of cigarettes;
    • Legislated Equal pay (social & community workers up to 45% pay increases);
    • Legislated Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme;
    • Achieved 1:1 ratio of computers for year 9-12 students;
    • Established $10b Clean Energy Bank;
    • Legislated Murray/Darling Basin plan (the first in a hundred years of trying);
    • Increased Education funding by 50%;
    • Established direct electoral enrollment;
    • Created 190,000 more University places;
    • Established My School;
    • Established National Curriculum;
    • Established NAPLAN;
    • Increased Health funding by 50%;
    • Legislated Aged care package;
    • Legislated Mental health package;

  5. Bighead1883

    Page 2
    • Created 90 Headspace sites;
    • Created Medicare Locals Program;
    • Created Aussie Jobs package;
    • Created Kick-Start Initiative (apprentices);
    • Fu• Legislated Dental Care package;
    nded New Car Plan (industry support);
    • Created Infrastructure Australia;
    • Established Nation Building Program (350 major projects);
    • Doubled Federal Roads budget ($36b) (7,000kms of roads);
    • Rebuilding 1/3 of interstate rail freight network;
    • Committed more to urban passenger rail than any government since Federation;
    • Developed National Ports Strategy;
    • Developed National Land Freight Strategy;
    • Created the nations first ever Aviation White Paper;
    • Revitalized Australian Shipping;
    • Reduced transport regulators from 23 to 3 (saving $30b over 20years);
    • Introduced NICS – infrastructure schedule;
    • Australia moved from 20th in 2007 to 2nd on OECD infrastructure ranking;
    • International Infrastructure Minister of the Year (2012) awarded to Mr Anthony Albanese;
    • International Treasurer of the Year (2011) awarded to Mr Wayne Swan;
    • Introduced anti-dumping and countervailing system reforms;
    • Legislated Household Assistance Package;
    • Introduced School Kids Bonus;
    • Increased Childcare rebate (to 50%);
    • Allocated $6b to Social Housing (20,000 homes);
    • Provided $5b to Support for Homelessness;
    • Established National Rental Affordability Scheme ($4.5b);
    • Introduced Closing the Gap;
    • Supports Act of Recognition for constitutional change;
    • Provided the highest pension increase in 100 years;
    • Created 900,000 new jobs;
    • Established National Jobs Board;
    • Allocated $9b for skills and training over 5 years;
    • Established Enterprise Connect (small business);
    • Appointed Australia’s first Small Business Commissioner;
    • Introduced immediate write-off of assets costing less than $6,500 for Small Business;

  6. Matters Not

    Kaye Lee wrote:

    are given temporary custodianship of our common wealth. It is a huge responsibility.

    I can agree with that but I think our ‘common wealth’ goes far beyond the ‘dollars’.

    To me there are three concepts of ‘capital’ which seem useful. First, (and in no particular order) there is ‘social capital’. Then there is ‘cultural capital’. Finally, there is ‘economic capital’.

    All these forms of ‘capital’ are part of our ‘common wealth’ and all need to be considered when political choices are made. Too often these days ‘social’ and ‘cultural’ aspects of life are ignored.

  7. Bighead1883

    And page 3 shows clearly that Party Politics can and does work for all Australians and Australia.
    Don`t abandon Labor because we all see what the alternative is
    • Introduced $5,000 immediate write-off for Small Business vehicles over $6,500;
    • Introduced a national levy to assist Queensland with reconstruction;
    • Standardized national definition of flood for Insurance purposes;
    • Created Tourism 2020;
    • Completed Australia’s first feasibility study on high speed rail;
    • Established ESCAS (traceability and accountability in live animal exports);
    • Established Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse;
    • Established National Crime Prevention Fund;
    • Lowered personal income taxes (average family now pays $3,500 less pa than 2007)
    • Raised the tax-free threshold from $6,000 to $18,200;
    • Raised Australia to the richest per capita nation on earth;
    • First time ever Australia has three triple A credit ratings from all three credit agencies;
    • Low inflation;
    • Lowest interest rates in 60 years (average mortgagee paying $5,000 less p.a. than 2007);
    • Low unemployment;
    • Lowest debt to GDP in OECD;
    • Australian dollar is now fifth most traded in the world and IMF Reserve Currency;
    • One of the world’s best performing economies during and since the GFC;
    • AAA+ Credit Rating;
    • Australia now highest ranked for low Sovereign Risk;
    • Overseen the largest fiscal tightening in nations history (4.4%);
    • 21 years of continuous economic growth (trend running at around 3% pa);
    • 11 years of continuous wages growth exceeding CPI;
    • Increasing Productivity;
    • Increasing Consumer Confidence;
    • Record foreign investment;
    • Historic levels of Chinese/Australian bilateral relations;
    • First female Prime Minister;
    • First female Governor General;
    • First female Attorney General;
    • Introduced Small business $1m loss carryback for tax rebate from previous year;
    • Legislated Australian Consumer law.

  8. diannaart


    I think Prince Philip must, therefore, qualify under “or to humanity at large” – if you consider a royal as human.

  9. John Fraser


    Rosie Batty (2015 Australian of the year) should be all across the media with her fight against domestic violence ….. this acknowledgement of her efforts should be what all governments are talking about.

    But no ….. what Australians are getting is a right royal bashing from Abbott.

    No sign of a Royal Commission into domestic violence but Abbott was bloody quick to get pink batts and Unions Royal Commissions going.

    If this is what Australians get on Australia Day what's in store for them for the rest of Abbotts single term ?

  10. diannaart

    Ooops too late to edit. I think Tones thought that Phil the Greek qualified under, not actually performed services to humanity at large…

    apologies to all.

  11. diannaart

    Rosie Batty (2015 Australian of the year) should be all across the media with her fight against domestic violence ….. this acknowledgement of her efforts should be what all governments are talking about.

    ‘Should be talking about domestic violence’ ain’t necessarily what all Australians care about. Even on AIMN.

  12. John Fraser



    Its an acknowledgement of all the good work an Australian has done.

    It doesn't deserve to be put on the back pages or not on the pages at all.

    Certainly not replaced by a non Australian.

  13. corvus boreus

    “This special recognition may be extended to Australians of “extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit” in their service to Australia or to humanity at large.”
    I think the wriggle-room for weazelry in the words is the fact that the phrasing on Tonys proclamation regarding dubbing merely stated that the recipient MAY fit the defined criteria. He did not specifically state that they MUST or WILL fit any.

  14. John Fraser


    "This special recognition may be extended to Australians …"

    Pretty straight forward.

  15. Sir ScotchMistery

    Hi Kaye Lee,

    I always read your beautifully crafted, well researched pieces, and each adds to my body of knowledge.

    Today I have an issue, not with you or the article, but with your grammar.

    In utilising the following words:
    and Integrity, you lost me, even though you were quoting JFK.

    Australia has seen nothing of the above elements since the takeover of the elected government by the unelected; specifically Murdoch, Credlin and her common law “husband” Brian Loughnane.

    I feel your use of the oxymoron, is beyond the pale, and I strongly counsel you against such use, in an otherwise accurate posting.

    Sir ScotchMistery.

    I would also note, for the record, that my Knighthood, as a First Night of the Most Excellent Order of wearing Garters, Chains and Fishnets, also shortened to FKGCMEGCF, was not awarded by the current occupant of the chair normally used by prime ministers of the Commonwealth of Australia.

    I got it from a box of Weetbix.

  16. FreeThinker

    The ever politically duplicitous Abbott now ‘ serving’ the Commonwealth of Australia as Prime Minister, is busily intent to transform our commonwealth into a nation of increasing private wealth, and as you say Kaye, as the Minister for Women who similarly pretends also to be Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Abbott seems very much in politics for the money.

    As the Minister for Women and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, does he get a Ministerial allowance for holding these positions, in addition to his Prime Ministerial salary, or is holding these positions just part of his pro bono neo-liberal generosity ?

  17. Jexpat

    Here are the relevant Amendments to the Constitution as set out in the Letters Patent:

    1) Appointments as Knights or Dames , or honorary Knights or Dames, in the General Division shall be made for extraordinary and pre-eminent achievement and merit in service to Australia or to humanity at large.

    (2) Notwithstanding subsection (1), a distinguished person who is not an Australian citizen may be appointed as an honorary Knight or Dame in the General Division where it is desirable that the person be honoured by Australia.

    11B The Governor-General may appoint to be Knights and Dames in the General Division, other than honorary Knights and Dames, not more than four persons in any calendar year.


    Not surprisingly, they’re a bit at odds with what Tony Abbott implied.

  18. AKC

    In in for the money and benefits for sure..in 2007 after the LNP lost the election, Tony Abbott declared he could not live on an opposition ministers salary, so he borrowed against his house for two reasons, additional money to live and to put his daughter through university, obviously not content with his salary he took on Malcolm Turnbull and sought scholarship for his daughter. Problem solved, now he just needed to win so he received PM perks for life. Tony our least moralistic PM ever.

  19. Florence nee Fedup

    Don’t hold ones breath if expecting more money for DV .Will not happen, because of Labor, there is no money. All Labor’s fault. What this wealthy country cannot find money to look after it’s vulnerable families when it comes to DV. Pull another one. Governments are about choices and creating a civil society. I am sure they can find necessary finances. That is if they care.

    Bighead, no wonder Abbott and Co look exhausted. So much legislation to repeal. So much to demolish. Among that demolition work, is many agencies and bodies that already deal with DV. I note from your list, national action has already happen in regard to DV. If so, do not know what Michaela was waffling on about this morning, saying laws needed changing between states.

  20. Anomander

    Tony is laughing all the way to the bank. Even if he is tossed-out on his ear, he has been in parliament long enough to get a lifetime pension, in addition to his not insubstantial superannuation package. As a former PM, he will also enjoy paid travel, an office and personal staff supplied plus he will be paid back generously by his corporate sponsors with various directorships, and jobs that make use of his position and influence.

    While the rest of us struggle to put aside enough money to be able to survive our latter years modestly. Many will be forced to near destitution, as costs inevitably rise in our new user-pays society. Most of us, if we somehow managed to secure a handful of assets, will be forced to sell them, just to make ends meet, as services are slashed, eligibility tightened and spending reined-in thanks to the government’s commitment to extremist neolibertarian ideology. For those even less fortunate, they will be discarded to the scrapheap, left to die in a gutter, in a ruthless, dog-eat-dog world, while Tony and his mates live the life of Riley.

  21. diannaart

    @John Fraser

    I already apologised for my mistake – I have not nor ever will provide any defence for that monster in the PM’s office AKA Tony Abbott. Sheesh!

  22. Carol Taylor

    Anomander, but will it be good enough for our Tones? My estimation is that this absolute shocker in giving Prince Philip a knighthood is Tony’s retirement plan. The royals due to protocol will be requested (by the GG) to grant Tony something special and having already given Prince Phil the highest award in the land, the royals will be expected to return the compliment. Tony is probably already practicing in the mirror – will it be Sir Anthony or perhaps even Lord Anthony? Ahhh, the expectation..home to Mother England.

  23. diannaart


    What, Labor has already solved DV? Hadn’t noticed – didn’t bother with all of Bighead’s lists – couldn’t see what listing Labor’s achievements had to do with current situation – the reality of right now where the LNP has undone any achievement brought about by Labor, the Greens and Independents.

  24. Michael Taylor

    But if, and this is a big if, if Tony Abbott is found to be ineligible by not renouncing his British citizenship, should he be entitled to his parliamentary pension?

  25. Matters Not

    Carol Taylor. I think you’re on the money. It’s an investment for the future.

    He would love to be ‘one of them’.

  26. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Kaye – you have said it all! Not only is Tony Abbott an idiot but so to – maybe to a slightly lesser extent in some cases – are those who believed his promises and voted him in. I feel truly sorry for people like Malcolm Turnbull (surely a small l liberal?) who do have some integrity but are forced, by loyalty to the party line, to appear to support Abbott’s insane antics.

  27. John Fraser


    A comment over on The New Daily:

    "If Tough Talkin Tony's Dad had been wearing a "nighthood", all of this drivel would just be a bad dream."

  28. Carol Taylor

    Rosemary, I used to have time for Turnbull but after numerous *about to* punts at the leadership in which he backed down every time, it then became clear that Malcolm Turnbull’s #1 interest was Malcolm Turnbull..and the country can go to b*ggery. After all, he knew what he was letting the country in for with Abbott as PM. Whatever happened to the crazy/brave pollie who stood up for marriage equality and action on climate change..sold his soul to the devil from what I can see.

  29. John Fraser


    No use trying to single out any in the Liberal party … they should all …… literally …… hang together.

    Its time for a Federal election !

  30. Kaye Lee

    “He’s doing whatever the hell he wants in a self-indulgent fashion and everyone is deeply embarrassed,” the MP said.

    “Liberals are turning on Tony Abbott. There’s a changing climate, things are very serious, they’re progressing and progressing very fast.”


    So how’s that electronic graffiti going Tony? Still think it’s a waste of time? You will note from the above article that the MPs that are being critical of Tony are also preserving their anonymity. What’s that tell you?

  31. Kaye Lee

    This item pretty much sums our Tony up

    “HE SWAGGERED down Peel St like a Nashville star, posing in a cowboy hat, dancing a country-style jig and even embracing a mystery blonde holding a “Free Hugs” sign.

    But Prime Minister Tony Abbott has found himself in the eye of an expense scandal storm after it emerged his trip to the 2012 Country Music Festival was anything but “free” for taxpayers.

    The then-Opposition leader claimed $9347 in work expenses for the whirlwind visit – despite not even staying in the city overnight.”

    WARNING: The following photo may cause feelings of nausea and skin-crawling….and empathy for poor Margie. No wonder she is trying to hide.


  32. Robin J Neasey

    Florence née Fedup

    “All Labors fault” ???

    You obviously know nothing about how the economy works and you just quote from the LNP ( Murdoch) text book on bullshit !

    The rot started with Howard and Costello long before the the Labor circus hit town !
    They ( Howard and Costello) were the the last of the big spenders with all the perks and handouts that are killing the budget now.
    All that was done at the last election was to run the circus out of town but someone forgot to send the clowns with it !
    That is what we are left with……. A bunch of bloody clowns with absolutely no idea of what is the problem and because of that no idea of how to fix it !
    Howard and Costello put the budget into structural deficit with their budget in 2004 and were warned by both Chris Richardson and Saul Eslake that it was what they were doing !
    We don’t have a spending problem …… We have a revenue problem because of the taxes and concessions given out by Howard and Costello that are on going.
    From what I’ve read revenue was 26% of GDP when they had money to waste and is now down to 20%…… The reason the IMF said Swann ( and I didn’t like him) was the worlds best treasurer was because if he had had the revenue that Costello had he would have delivered budget surpluses.
    Instead of being a barnacle stuck to the sinking LNP boat everyone would be better off reading what the economists and people with half a brain are saying !
    That is why it’s no good listening to this lot or their barnacle supporters because they don’t have a brain !
    I’m a retired former self employed business man and I knew from a very early age that I didn’t know everything so I always sort out the people who could advise me and then analysed what they said and put it into practise.
    The trouble with Tony “big ears” is that his ears don’t work and his head is only there to keep his ears apart …..
    There is a vacuum between them and one day I’m sure it will collapse completely and there will be two big ears sticking up on a small lump of bone just like a real “rAbbit”!!!

  33. Kaye Lee

    Robin, Florence was being facetious, repeating the Coalition excuse. Think about any other business – the board is replaced because the shareholders are unhappy….the new board spends the next three years saying it isn’t our fault, we got left with a mess. Do you really think they would last three years continually blaming their predecessors?

  34. Sir ScotchMistery

    @Anomander with the exception I hope, if he has lied to the people regarding his citizenship.

    I would beg an incoming government to appoint a royal commissioner to investigate that, as a matter of urgency WHEN Abbort is removed from the chair normally occupied by the Prime Minister of this country.

  35. Robin J Neasey

    Kaye, only thing about that is board members are normally appointed because they have a good history of management and are qualified so they get on with the business of putting things right they don’t blame anyone !
    I’ve been involved in contracting and senior management ( by invitation of the company management) and board members never go down the blame trail and one thing I did notice about them was they always listened to the management at the “coal face” !
    This mob are not listening !
    Politicians don’t need any qualifications or history of management …. All they have to do is be a loyal member of the party and a “yes” person who can be trusted to always mouth the party slogan….. A classic example of that in my opinion is the finance Minster…… What’s his name ? …..”tail light”? ….. He’s certainly not bright enough to be a headlight !
    That is the problem with both our major parties !
    Yes men/women who can’t think for themselves and are not allowed to anyway !
    Speak out against your party and you get what Greame Campbell ( Member for Kalgoorlie ) got….. Expelled and then because Labor couldn’t unseat him they did not stand a candidate so disenfranchised labor voters went to LNP and the result was Barry Haase….. A total blithering idiot but a good party man !
    Labor was prepared to let a safe seat go just to get Campbell out of politics and they still haven’t won the seat back and maybe never will !
    This country is screaming out for a new political party with good people to lead it and get this country back to being the best country in the world to live in !

    Your articles are very good and I’ve been reading them for a long time but some of the things on here are so far out of whack it’s not funny !

    BTW….. Have you ever given thought to becoming a politician or at least someone should have you doing research for them . I’m sure you could put some of this lot on the right track !

  36. Kerri

    Sir Scotch Mistery be best to expand that investigate ALL politicians past and present and fine them for their false acceptance of a salary from the publice purse. I really want to see Eric Abetz go down too. And no I am not picking on him so he can pull out the race card, my family are German too.

  37. Kaye Lee

    Robin, late at night after a few glasses of wine I am firmly convinced that I should become benevolent dictator. When I wake up the next morning I remind myself that politics in this country is just about having your photo taken. I would gladly do research for anyone but this middle-aged woman in jammies could not bring herself to play games which seems to be what is required to be a politician nowadays. Question Time would do me in….I would be putting them all on detention for poor behaviour starting with Bronwyn Bishop. What an absolute waste of time and an embarrassment QT has become.

  38. Mighty O'Leary

    Kay Lee. Your passion is admirable. Regardless of our ‘Leader’ we have become the military/industrial behemoth’s bitch. Shortens a turd, plain and simple. He’s one of them.

  39. Mighty O'Leary

    I’m a stickler for apostrophe’s so bollocks!
    Socialism is a far and distant memory in these parts, sadly, and in the labor party?
    We know the answer to that one.
    The whole system is dirty and self serving from the top down.
    Watch The Wire, it works the whole thing out for you.

  40. Damo451

    To all the good people here ,please read and share this far and wide.

    Right now government officials from around the world are meeting in New York to negotiate the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (or “TPP” for short). If Australia signs onto the TPP, it will give multinational corporations the power to sue the Australian Government for decisions they claim may impact their investments in Australia.

    We’ve already seen the dangerous implications of these powers played out right here in Australia. Similar provisions in an Australian-Hong Kong treaty are being used by US global cigarette and tobacco company, Phillip Morris, to sue the Australian Government over the introduction of plain-packaging laws.

    Forces all around the world are banding together to stop this deal from going ahead, to ensure their governments can’t be sued for making decisions that are in the public interest. Watch the video that explains why this deal will be bad for all Australians, then sign the petition to sound the alarm.


    If foreign corporations are given the power to sue national governments when changes to domestic laws affect their profit margins, it will inevitably restrict our government’s ability to put in place regulations to protect our environmental assets and our health. What’s worse, these lawsuits would be played out in secret international courts, which only corporations have access to, with no rights of appeal.

    It’s hard to believe this could happen in Australia, but there are already cases around the world of companies using what’s known as Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provisions to sue governments:
    • A foreign-owned energy company filed a $250 million lawsuit against the Canadian government, when Quebec placed a ban on dangerous fracking processes in a local river.
    • In El Salvador, a Canadian company is suing the government for $315 million in “loss of future profits” because local citizens won a hard-fought campaign against a gold mine that threatened to contaminate their water supplies.
    • An international utilities company sued the Argentinian Government for imposing a freeze on water and energy bills during the global financial crisis.
    • And in Canada, US pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly is suing the government for $500 million in compensation, because the courts revoked two of the company’s patents citing lack of evidence around the drugs’ supposed benefits.
    Do we want to live in a country where foreign-owned companies have the right to sue our government for introducing laws to protect our farms, land, water and our health? International corporations should not be able to take the Australian Government to court. It flies in the face of democracy, and will leave taxpayers at risk of paying corporations enormous amounts in compensation.

    Worryingly, Trade Minister Andrew Robb has already indicated he’s willing to sign on to the deal, which is why we need to act quickly. Here in Australia, only one in ten voters have heard about the TPP.2 But if this deal goes ahead, it will be all of us who stand to lose – so it’s time we spoke up. We need as many Australians as possible to hear about the dangers of the TPP. Can you watch and share the video, which explains why this deal will be so dangerous? Click here: http://www.getup.org.au/tpp-isds

    The deal is still being negotiated, but could be finalised when ministers from the 12 different countries next meet. So we need to get the word out there and make some noise before Minister Robb signs the dotted line. The fight to stop the TPP is a huge, coordinated, international resistance and the more people who join the fight, the better our chances will be.

    Can you help sound the alarm before it’s too late?

    Kelsey, Alycia, Sally and the GetUp team

    ~ References ~
    [1] History shows the heavy price of free trade, Canberra Times, 21 February 2014
    [2] Trans-Pacific Partnership is a big deal, but hardly anyone knows, SMH, 17 February 2014
    GetUp is an independent, not-for-profit community campaigning group. We use new technology to empower Australians to have their say on important national issues. We receive no political party or government funding, and every campaign we run is entirely supported by voluntary donations. If you’d like to contribute to help fund GetUp’s work, please donate now! To unsubscribe from GetUp, please click here.
    Our team acknowledges that we meet and work on the land of the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation. We wish to pay respect to their Elders – past, present and future – and acknowledge the important role all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to play within Australia and the GetUp community.
    Authorised by Sam Mclean, Level 2, 104 Commonwealth Street, Surry Hills NSW 2010.

  41. Robin J Neasey

    Kaye, you are a lot braver than me if you have a few wines at any time !
    This geriatric old fart isn’t game to drink because I’m sure I would wake up the next morning thinking I was in the horrors or in Disneyland when I clicked on here and started reading the headlines !
    No one could possibly script anything that would have so many stupid things being said and done as what this government manages to do !

    I agree that Bronwyn Bishop is a disgrace to the position of Speaker and her bias is just so blatant that it’s a joke !
    Question time is like kids in a kindergarten fighting and throwing insults !
    Maybe that is being unkind to the kids that are in kindie so I apologise if I upset them !

    I’m sick to death of 3 word slogans that mean nothing and achieve nothing !

    As for Shorten…. Yes he is hopeless and doesn’t appeal to me at all as an alternate PM but then again Abbott never did either but people voted for him so there is hope for Shorten too I guess.
    One could only hope he doesn’t turn out like this idiot we have now !

    I’ve seen and worked under every government since WW2 and I always thought Billy McMahon was the worst but I’m sure Abbott would beat him by half the length of The Flemmington Strait and would only be cantering to do it !

    Without a doubt the worst PM I can remember and I cannot believe that anyone can defend the idiot !
    Unfortunately they threw so much shite over the Rudd/Gillard/Rudd fiasco they have painted themselves into a corner and to change leaders now would be a total about face and bring on more ridicule !
    Meanwhile the circus goes on and we ( the poor voters ) just have to put up with it !

    Only hope we have is for Rupert to call “time” and get someone to tap Abbott on the shoulder and tell him it’s all over and resign for health reasons !
    He could always claim he had water on the brain but no one would believe him….. Not because it would be a lie as is most things he says but because he hasn’t got a brain for it to be on !

    Total embarrassment to our beautiful country !!!

    Oh…. And don’t expect too much detail from Shorten or Labor because they are only doing what Abbott and the LNP did while in opposition and pick faults but offer nothing of substance !

    The last politician who tried to be honest with Austrailian voters ( John Hewson and “Fightback” ) released a detailed policy paper and Keating had a field day with it and poor old John lost an election that was as good as won before hand !
    Speaking of Keating….. I didn’t like the arrogant “B” but by far the cleverest politician we’ve ever had and the Howard government reaped the benefits !
    Howard and Costello were not the financial wiz kids everyone thinks they were and by the same token the Rudd/Gillard experiment was not nearly as bad as was made out to be !
    Funny how the media can make the public believe anything they want them to believe !
    Problem is most people listen instead of reading and learning !

  42. Kaye Lee


    Sadly, regulars here are all too aware of the implications of Robb’s indecent haste in saying…”Look we got signatures”. Hockey’s December MYEFO shows that we will lose $1.6 billion over the forward estimates from the Free Trade Agreement with Japan that Robb and Abbott boast about. Gee that sounds great.

    The TPP, amongst other things, will see the end to our Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Without seeing the secret detail (and why is it secret is another question), from what I can gather, the research done by the patent holder remains their intellectual property so their clinical trials may not be used by the makers of the much cheaper generic medicines that are developed once the patent expires. This hugely increases the costs and delays the introduction of generics. It also allows for the ‘regreening’ of patents which means minorly changing something like an insignificant molecule in the filler and getting another 20 years exclusive rights.

    New Zealand pays one sixth the price for many drugs that we do, as do hospitals in WA, apparently because they negotiated a better deal from the big companies. I assume that is because they can buy in bulk though I have no verification for that.

    Have a look at Tony’s Pollie Pedal gear….covered in big pharma logos. Google Amgen and see how dodgy his major sponsor is. Think about the $20 billion ‘medical research fund’ and have a guess who any interest from it will be given to.

    We all know Tony’s attachment to coal…or more succinctly, Gina and Twiggy….but his attachment to big pharma is less discussed and should be equally feared.

  43. Damo451

    Thanks Kaye ,yep it looks like Monsanto = Amgen and vice versa.
    One thing about Abbott ,we know who his sponsors are.
    I seem to remember the comments over a politician recently who had a sponsors shirt on when the mining tax was repealed.
    I do think its a great idea that all politicians wear shirts with their company sponsors logo/logos on them so we could at least fairly determine if we were electing Coca Cola Amatil or say Google to run Australia Pty Ltd at the next election.
    Its a shame Ford are leaving the country or we could maybe vote for them ,just to bring in a bit of variety in 2016 when we vote.

  44. FreeThinker

    With respect to my question earlier today, can anyone provide accurate information to it ?

    When a Prime Minister holds an addition Ministerial portfolio, presumably under Commonwealth Government guidelines, there is a legitimate case for additional remuneration as per a Ministerial allowance but also in travelling allowance entitlements.

    Tony Abbott holds two additional Ministerial positions.

    He has an almost unsurpassed record as a parliamentarian ( John Howard was a mentor in this regard), in getting the Commonwealth to pay for everything he does some of which is arguably not specifically related to his role as P.M. , and on the evidence, must be regarded as one of the most adroit parliamentary exponents of walking the tightrope between ethical professional behaviour, and, legal but not necessarily ethical behaviour, specific to travel remuneration and related allowances.

    Abbott has form in this area.

    Am I wrong to assume that given his well-demonstrated history, T.A. would be waiving any remuneration entitlements that may be due to him that derive from his two additional Ministries activity ? Would be one way surely, of reducing government expenditure.

    Or, are these two Ministerial portfolios mainly further opportunities for T.A to embellish his own remuneration from the Commonweath purse ?

  45. Michael Taylor

    Good question, FreeThinker. I don’t know the answer but it’d be worth looking into, for my interest.

  46. JohnB

    We must all be mindful of where the biggest threat to our common wealth is coming from.
    It is the trans-corps that have taken over the US nation’s governance and assets; it is the trans-corps that will appropriate our assets and manipulate our future governance to their advantage.
    Global corporatism is on the march for resource and market dominance.

    Replacing this gang of LNP corporate stooges with any government will be a short term improvement, but unless the electoral rules and our constitution are tightened to outlaw corruption and sponsorship by “big money” we are doomed to defeat by these powerful wealthy global corporations. They don’t give up – money buys all eventually.
    Let the corporate dominated US “democracy” be an object lesson.

    We must demand our elected politicians serve us ‘the people’ – not themselves or generous sponsors.
    A federal ICAC is essential.

  47. Matters Not

    Yes, it’s a good question Free Thinker. Must admit it’s an aspect I’ve never considered.

  48. Anomander

    Not just your interest Michael. The question Free Thinker’s raised would definitely be in the public interest.

  49. Michael Taylor

    One way to find out is to look at his expenses.

  50. Anomander

    Like most situations, his expenses won’t be posted until months or years later when someone will notice something untoward and question it. Tones will naturally claim it was an office oversight to be paid back without any form of penalty or repercussions. Of course the same rule didn’t apply to Slipper.

    Funny, if any of us did this in our workplaces, we’d very likely be sacked and/or prosecuted for fraud. But for our mate Tones, it’s an honest mistake, a simple oversight, or someone else’s fault.

    I for one think it’s totally unreasonable to expect someone in a position of high office, on a massive salary, with a huge portfolio and responsibilities, should be expected to know the difference between entitlements, bribes, favours and rorts.

  51. Damo451

    Spot on John B

  52. Anomander

    Great work Kaye.

    That job is a fantastic lurk for someone with no relevant qualifications or discernible skills, dubious judgement and an overdeveloped sense of entitlement.

    He’d have to be a politician because he’d be unemployable anywhere else.

  53. diannaart

    Terrific question Free Thinker, doing a quick search I could not find anything specifically referring to additional salary benefits to the PM for additional portfolios – but did find the following guide which may help. I would say TA quite possibly receives extra pay.


    I have only skimmed this – haven’t the necessary energy at present.

    Hope this helps.

  54. Matters Not

    Had a think about Free Thinkers question re whether ‘more responsibilities’ causes more ‘personal’ dollars to flow. Certainly not true at the State level and unlikely to be true at the Federal level either.

    More responsibilities certainly means more staff and ‘office’ monies to respond to same but not more ‘personal’ dollars. (Here I’m not suggesting the PM earns the same as other Ministers – he earns more.)

    While I have no ‘proof’ at the Federal level, I would be very, very surprised.

  55. Kaye Lee

    More responsibility definitely leads to more personal dollars called “additional salary” as can be read about in the link provided by diannaart. Ministers receive 57.5% additional salary, Ministers in Cabinet get 72.5% extra. Even Parliamentary Secretaries receive an extra 25%. But I cannot find anything specific about extra portfolios. Does Abbott triple dip?

  56. Sir ScotchMistery

    @Robin J Neasey

    Can we all for a moment, contemplate a parliament not based on 2 party but based on natural representation?

    Every electorate in this country has someone with the nous to stand up, listen, assess objectives and put the objectives down on paper as a manifesto.

    We actually don’t NEED the parties at all. It isn’t as though the members have any say in what they put up as policies, and if anyone does think that happens, I’d love to see a single example of it happening.

    #30Independents in every house of parliament would have the parties re-assessing their roles and their impacts on the nation.

    Currently, both parties represent the wants of big business, mostly overseas based, particularly but not limited to the USA. That is why the TPP is there. It is a requirement of the US business lobbies who own 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

    As voters, the parties have never, and will never represent us as voters. They represent their donors and no one else.

    If you are in Queensland, look at the local independents first this weekend.

  57. Matters Not

    Kaye Lee, clearly I didn’t express myself very well. Yes, all of what you say is true and the ‘extra responsibilities’ payments (as you define) is not confined to Ministers but also to Shadow Ministers. The question, as I saw it, was whether Abbott gets extra personal remuneration because he also handles other areas such as Aboriginal Affairs, women, etc.

    I suggest that he doesn’t.

    If it were true then ‘portfolio realignments’ would have significant, personal financial consequences which would lead to greatly increased ‘tensions’ within Cabinet and the wider Ministry – something all leaders could well do without.

  58. diannaart

    I have launched Free Thinker’s question into the Tweetisphere – you never know, we may get a definitive answer.

  59. Kyran

    As always, a good read and the meandering conversation enhances it greatly. For what it’s worth, I recall a member by the name of Coulson, many years ago, who was accused of skulduggery whilst a member of a Labor government. He eventually went to the cross benches whilst awaiting the hearing of formal charges. If memory serves correctly, he passed away before the hearing concluded. His “scam” was to list himself as “an emergency” for parliamentary committee’s, which entitled him to an allowance, per committee. I believe it was about $20k per committee, being an allowance for keeping abreast of the committee’s progress in the event you were called upon to serve on the committee. He, however, had read all the rules and realised there was no obligation to sit on the committee if you were called. He was called upon a few times and respectfully declined, I think due to health reasons. There was also no obligation to refund the allowance. Whilst his behaviour was criticised by all and sundry, as far as I know, those rules were never changed. Your article refers to a “trust” component when dealing with politicians. They have a long way to go to get anything resembling trust from me. Take care

  60. Kaye Lee

    I tend to agree with you Matters Not. I think it would be doubtful that Abbott gets extra because of his self-conferred titles (which do not seem to have increased his responsibilities in any way). The fact that we are even discussing it does tend to show the lack of trust Tony has engendered by his systematic rorting even if it IS within guidelines.

  61. FreeThinker

    Thanks Kaye and thanks Diannaart for searching out and making available these documents.
    Both documents add substance to the overall picture about parliamentary allowances and entitlements, but my question on Abbott remains unresolved.

    It is not a new issue. Other parliamentarians have from time to time held two portfolios, and others have assumed responsibility for mega-departments as did Julia Gillard in the First Rudd government. And indeed there is a case for recognition of additional payment for greater executive responsibilities.

    But with Abbott it is different given his expenses record over some years, and his propensity to bill the Commonwealth so liberally within the administrative guidelines.

    The responsibility of being Prime Minister is a mammoth job, and we have to ask why he would take on two additional portfolios, as Minister for Women, and Minister for Indigenous Affairs?

    Certainly, I think Abbott under-estimated what it takes to be Prime Minister.

    But in assuming responsibility for these two Ministerial areas, affecting more than 50 % of the population, and by ostensibly privileging these portfolios, by taking them under his executive wing, in fact he is doing the reverse. Such are the demands of the Prime Ministership, that these areas become diminished and he can only give perfunctory attention to them. Thus Abbott’s achievements so far in these two portfolio areas are negligible, as in the case of Indigenous Affairs, he has made a short gratuitous (costly), and reimbursable to him, trip to aboriginal communities in central Australia.

    Thus the question is why does he continue to hold onto these two portfolios?

    Why would he not allocate one or both of these Ministries to as he puts it, one of the highly competent women in the parliamentary party he leads who are knocking on the Cabinet door ?

    If he did he would perhaps kill two criticisms with the one captain’s pick decision. More energy allocated to these portfolios, and more women in Cabinet.

    But no I suspect Tony Abbott has other motivation to keep these portfolios himself, and I suspect personal financial incentive to be a primary reason. As we have learned Tony Abbott has form in this area !

  62. paul walter

    Matters not, the payoff for that pathology comes of inflicting grief on the weaker, smaller kids in the schoolyard.

    Addicted to the Dopamine release, he’d probably pay out, to retain access to his gratification.

  63. Don Winther

    @ Brian. How did Sophie Mirabella get a $300 000+ job with the Submarine Corporation, she wouldn’t even know how to build a canoe.

    Love your work Kaye Lee.

  64. Kaye Lee

    Rupert Murdoch on Twitter….

    “Abbott again. Tough to write, but if he won’t replace top aide Peta Credlin she must do her patriotic duty and resign.”

  65. Matters Not

    If true Kaye Lee, then how much were Whitlam and Barnard paid? Albeit for a short time.

    He thus had himself and his deputy leader, Lance Barnard, sworn in as an interim two-man government. Whitlam and Barnard held 27 portfolios between them until the full ministry


    Abbott also has:

    Michaelia Cash Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Women.

    Senator the Hon Nigel Scullion Minister for Indigenous Affairs.

    Senator the Hon Eric Abetz Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service.

    Senator the Hon Michael Ronaldson Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC.

    The Hon Alan Tudge MP Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister.

    The Hon Christian Porter MP Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister

    One wonders what he does in his spare time, given all those ‘assisting’? Perhaps he has time to ride a bike?

  66. Win jeavons

    Kaye Lee ; good stuff. Many years ago (I’m not young ) I said; pay peanuts ,get monkeys, pay gold get gold-diggers . Now we see it.

  67. philgorman2014

    Common wealth was replaced by corporate wealth in Australia with the CIA sponsored sacking of the Whitlam Government in 1975.

    Governor General Kerr acted treasonably in using his reserve powers for the dismissal. Malcom Fraser’s actions seem to have been motivated by political opportunism rather than conspiracy. He may well have been unaware of the CIA’s involvement at the time.

    http://johnquiggin.com/Gough Whitlam
    SBS “The Facon and The Snowman”
    “A Secret Country”, by John Pilger

  68. Bighead1883

    Michael TaylorJanuary 27, 2015 at 2:48 pm
    But if, and this is a big if, if Tony Abbott is found to be ineligible by not renouncing his British citizenship, should he be entitled to his parliamentary pension?

    Going onto this Michael because Tony Magrathea has basically for a year now championed the move to now finally get Labor`s Terri Butler to write to Abbott asking exactly this.
    We also cannot forget the enormous work Jan Olsen has done to get the information needed.
    If Abbott has for 8 times fronted the electorate as ineligible under section 44 and even Section 45 of the constitution then he has to face the full force of the Law,because this would be a serial fraud on the people of Australia and not just a by-election issue.
    If he is found guilty of being a dual citizen whilst holding our highest office his entitlements are not only null and void but he should be made to repay his fraud.
    All IMHO.

  69. Michael Taylor

    I’d say he’d have a problem on his hands if that were the case.

    But he has an easy way out of it: get rolled in a leadership spill, quit politics, and hope like hell the issue then goes away.

  70. Bighead1883

    Well you and I will have to disagree there Michael.
    The way Abbott pursued Ettridge/Hanson/Slipper/Thomson and all the other enemies he`s made including in the judiciary[-like Newman in QLD in such a short time-] there will be no place to hide.
    His blatant RC`s involving 2 PM`s also adds to the repayment Karma for Tony Abbott.
    Again,all IMHO.

  71. Harquebus

    “we have to lead, instruct and correct the opinions of voters and sometimes not even consider them, exercising the discernment we were elected for”.
    Instead of implementing the will of the the people, politicians bend it to suit their party donors.

    “It is the absolute right of the State to supervise the formation of public opinion.” – Joseph Goebbels

    So long as we we have Labor and Coalition governments, our politicians will continue to deceive us.

  72. Bighead1883

    We have to have people bleating about the 2pp system set up by Global central Bankers and we need to keep them bleating about how wrong this.
    Their bleating need not include an opposing ideology just a bleat.
    Those of us in the Left of the ALP fight daily to have our Party be a Social Democratic Party,we do not bleat into thin air,we act.
    Even tweeted this morning by Kim Carr “We will give every Australian their chance of a better education without cost” because it`s in out DNA.
    Have a look back up the comments and see the achievements of Rudd/Gillard Labor then tell us all about your principled argument and show us the off the shoulder gunfire your Avatar is famous for..

  73. Kaye Lee

    I am assuming it isn’t me with the ots gunfire – I’m a beach. I don’t consider sharing information bleating into thin air. One of the reasons we are in this mess is because the electorate is ignorant of the facts. The more we can engage people in discussing where our country is headed and why then the more likely we are to be able find a better direction.

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